Here’s a shaky video of the whales we saw just offshore last weekend. Nothing at all like being there.
We saw a bunch of whales — the big kind, gray whales, not the transient pod of orcas also sighted nearby recently — a block or two from our house on Saturday. There were probably 4 or 5 in the pod, feeding just off shore. I got some stills and video (stay tuned), neither of which capture the feeling you get being so close to such huge mammals. I told Zeke, “I feel like I can feel their consciousness.”
They fed for a while in front of the Cavalier condos, then we followed them as they swam north toward Schoolhouse Creek. They stopped just before the creek, and fed some more. They were around all afternoon, and we saw them again that evening, further south toward Boiler Bay. There was at least one calf among them, which means they’re probably migratory, on their way up to Alaska for summer feeding, and just stopping for an opportunistic snack in our plankton-rich waters.
You can see the whole set on flickr.
And we found our first fishing float on the beach, and came to the realization that to take them home to decorate your yarrrd you have to murder a lot of barnacles. Gooseneck barnacles in this case. We left it where we found it.
Speaking of barnacles, I took a walk down to Fishing Rock at low tide Sunday morning and said hello to some of our invertebrate neighbors: anemones, sea stars, sea snails and several kinds of barnacles. I don’t get that whole “massive consciousness” drift from these guys, but they’ve got their own trip going on and it’s pretty damned cool.
Sonny Lott (I never knew till today that he was named for Fletcher Henderson; he was always just “Sonny Lott” to everybody I knew) died late last year. Much like Dennis Jones, who died this year, every musician in Iowa City knew Sonny.
I first met him when I was playing bass with a rag-tag group known at the time as “Sky Truthhawk and the I-ones” (Scotty “Sky” Hayward on kalimba, Terry “Truthhawk” Hale on keys and vocals, and anybody else who showed up). Sonny, an ace drummer, played miscellaneous percussion because Terry had a one-man-band set up, playing kick drum and snare with his feet. Sonny didn’t care. He always had a great time, and his attitude was contagious.
We were playing a campaign benefit concert for Karen Kubby, who was probably running for city council for the first time (this was probably 1988, I’m thinking). I don’t think Sonny liked the name of the band. He said to me, “I told Terry we should all wear afro wigs on our butts and rename the band ‘Terry Hale and the Hairy Tails.’”
Yeah, you probably had to be there, and know something about the situation to appreciate how hilarious that was.
I didn’t know Sonny’s history at the time, just that he was always around, always making music. (He played with Patrick Hazel’s legendary Mother Blues back in the mid 70s, where Bo Ramsey also got a start.)
He was also night janitor for a time at the co-op where I was working produce. We’d hang out after work sometimes, just relaxing and bullshitting. Tony D. probably has some stories from those times. Seems like we ended up at Tony’s place more than a few times.
When Totem Soul was active in the late 80s, Sonny played drums with our friendly rivals on the scene, Divin’ Duck. When Nigel fell gravely ill on the afternoon of a gig at Gabe’s, we briefly considered going drumerless but instead called on Sonny. He showed up, played his ass off, and never missed a beat.
It was always about the music for Sonny. In a room full of egos, Sonny would be the one cracking wise, keeping it real, and laying down the groove.
I’m not going to write a song about Sonny, because Greg Brown beat me to it. Here’s Greg and Joe Price (another Mother Blues alum) singing about Sonny at the Mill back in 2010:
Sincere condolences to Sonny’s extended family.
1 package frozen hashbrowns
1 6 oz. tub pesto
1 bunch asparagus
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400F.
Preheat a large cast iron skillet* with oil over medium-high heat. Put hashbrowns in preheated pan and cover.
Roast asparagus in olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
Beat eggs, and add tub of pesto. Chop up roasted asparagus, let cool a bit, then add to egg mixture.
When hashbrowns have browned on the bottom, remove from heat and pour egg mixture over the top. Put under the broiler until firm and browned on top.
*If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can improvise with a non-stick skillet and a roasting pan. That’s what I did today. I browned the hashbrowns in two batches in a non-stick skillet, then transferred them to the roasting pan for the final broiling.
Zeke and I mixed these up and baked them today. They are too good. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. The idea is a layered bar, bottom a blondie, the top a brownie. Start with the blondie layer.
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325F.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Mix melted butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, then add egg and vanilla.
Gradually stir in dry ingredients to the sugar and butter mix. Spread mix evenly in a greased 9×13 baking pan. Set aside.
2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
Cream butter and sugar; add eggs. Mix dry ingredients together and add to butter-sugar mixture. Add Vanilla.
Spread evenly on top of the blondie dough.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
You may recognize the brownie recipe from Grandma Margie’s cookbook, which you should go buy if you haven’t already!