Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Fun, Busy Week




Whoa!  I had an exhausting but fun week helping out at the Cathedral Choir Camp - forty kids working, praying, playing, and mostly singing all week long.  I originally signed up to help with checking the campers in on Monday morning.  I volunteered because I like to be helpful, of course, but mostly because I wanted a Choir Camp tee-shirt.  However it was all so great that I stayed for the whole week.  The St James Schola Cantorum, (I may have mentioned this before, like hundreds of times) is a simply amazing group of children lead by several amazing music educators.  They sing real music, and sound splendid.  This year they sang, among other wonderful pieces, movements from Charpentier’s Magnificat! It was astonishing.  Charpentier is one of my top favorite composers, so I was thrilled. And when, during the Mass for the Feast of theVisitation, they sang Panis Angelicus, it brought tears to my eyes – and despite it being one of my top not-favorite pieces.  





Uh-oh!  Someone is peeking into the window!





Lots of learning and lots of creating was happening, and not only creating music.  The choristers attended a presentation on the making of a local best-selling graphic novel, given by the authors themselves (or one of them, the other being at meetings), and then the group worked on their own, depicting the high spots of the week.


On the last day, there was a mini-camp for the younger children - those in the St. Gregory and St. Cecilia choirs, in training to become members of the Schola Cantorum.   Most of them looked a little apprehensive at first, but one singer,  Cecilia, was at ease and having a great time.


You can seem more photos and get an better idea of what a great week it was here.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Day Filled with Dabbling Ducks




Once summer finally arrived in Seattle, it took on a dazzling sparkle.  The days have been perfect, one after another, and have been demanding that one fill them with summer fun.  Summer fun would not be complete without at least one canoe outing, so Laura, Rebecca and I decided to hike to the University campus and rent a canoe.  Laura, a West Seattle girl, had never been on the Foster Island swamp walk, and in fact, had not really been on the University campus, so we were able to introduce her to some of our favored haunts.  First, the canoe excursion on Union Bay, through the Arboretum and Foster Island areas.  The ducks and ducklings were out in force, enjoying the day, basking in the sun, gobbling bugs, the babies scurrying across the lily pads behind Mum.


  I am always thrilled to hear and see Mr. Kingfisher, and he politely made one appearance, streaking above us over the water, with his distinctive clackety shout. Cormorants and coots greeted us as we glided by, but it was obvious that they thought we were pretty ho-hum, and were quite used to human visitors. 

En route to the restaurant, we walked through this outdoor theater, and I said that I hadn’t been there before.  Rebecca pointed out that about thirty-five years ago we had come to see a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Hmmmm!  I did remember seeing the play, but I didn't remember that it was in this idyllic spot. 


Laura was interested in the University libraries, and mentioned the famous and spectacular Reading Room in the Suzalo library. It was indeed spectacular!  Just like being in church.  Then lunch, ice cream and finally, a bus ride home.  A very satisfying day it was.


The astonishing Suzalo Library Reading Room

You can see Laura's take on our day here.  Her photos are better than mine, I think, even though her camera had took a brief swim in the bottom of the canoe. 



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Shopping Day


A couple of charming lamps to grace your sitting room


I had a nice little surprise outing with Samos.  I had told him I would be busy that day, but he called again on the morning of anyway, just in case.  I realized then that I had made a calendar mistake when turning from July to August, and that I wasn’t busy after all.  What fun!  We had our favorite Japanese tofu burgers for lunch and then off to junk stores.  Samos is on a spending freeze, and showed great restraint.  He bought nothing.  I am always on a spending freeze, so my willpower was lessened by the quotidian quality of my budgetary issues.  I bought a number of useless items, all things to use in the kitchen – so not entirely useless but definitely not needed.  Unneeded, but happy making.  I won’t even tell you what they are, lest you sneer at my shopping silliness. 

A prie dieu for a material girl??

These stores are always fascinating with the sometime bizarre items they have to offer.  One is forced to speculate as to what sort of person would purchase such horrors.  But maybe they (the horrors, not the purchasers) are so horrible that they transcend from horrible to kitch, to camp, to cool.  Who knows!


My new old Coca Cola bottle.  Why did I need this????   I just did.



PS  I did not buy a lamp or a prie dieu.  I wasn't that silly.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Special Anniversary





My dear, darling friend Martha and her sweet husband Joe have been married sixty years!  And they still seem to adore one another! This is pretty amazing, particularly in that they both are apparently such spring chickens – always on the go, always working on some project.  Maybe this latter has a positive effect on their spring chickenliness.  Martha does tons of cooking, preparing huge family holiday events, and a family picnic and summer celebration every year, but this was above and beyond! 



Most impressive of all, especially to me, the queen of weeds, she manages her fabulous giant garden, and her fascinating house.  She is an all-around marvelissima person.  I went to the party with Rachael and John, and on the way home, John said, “What a wonderful family Martha has.”  She certainly does, with her five boys and her daughter Liz. And gobs of clever, talented, and polite grandchildren (just like my Rachael.)



There were about ten tables set up in the garden, and people to fill them.  There was scrumptious food, and a fun talent show.  I have no talents, but a few of us did get up and sing "Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether", the grace before meals which the Cathedral folk sing at foodish events.  I thought that everyone was going to be singing or I would have been shy, but three quarters of the way through I noticed that only a tiny group of us was standing up front and singing.  A wasp seemed particularly enchanted by my song, and tried to get quite personal.  Fortunately, he went away to bother someone else before giving me time to get really upset at him. 

It was a super party!  



Another little guest, probably uninvited, was the tiny spider who spun this exquisite web.  She was no doubt lying in wait for the wasp who had annoyed me. 





Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways.
 For they shall eat the labour of their hands: happy shall they be, 
and it shall be well with them.
  Martha and Joe have been as a fruitful vine by the sides of their house: 
their children like olive plants round about their table.
  Behold, that thus shall the woman and man be blessed that fear the Lord.
 The Lord shall bless them  and they shall see the good of their family 
all the days of their lives.
  Yea, they shall see their children's children, and peace upon their home.

Psalm 128 paraphrased for the occasion.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A PBS Mystery Marathon Day


Ana is making lots of progress on her lizard socks


 Every day or so, Martha Stewart sends me an email about some household goddess matter.  Usually, after scanning the subject line, I press “delete” on it and its myriad unwanted email companions.  This time, however, the subject line read, “Quick and delicious summer suppers,” or some such thing.  Tempted, I opened it up and found among the potential treats, a recipe for a scrumptious zucchini frittata.  Thinking that this sounded a bit like an oxymoron, I opened it anyway, and Martha assured me that my guests would swoon with delight.  Rebecca, when I told her about it, assured me that they would not.  “Don’t cook it on top of the stove like Martha says to do. Bake it in the oven.  Much easier and nicer.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t use zucchini.  Use kale.”  Foolishly, I believed Martha and not Becca, much to my sorrow and hostess humiliation. My guests, The Twins, always polite, pronounced it tasty, but I knew better.  It was leathery and utterly tasteless. 



Somehow, I was determined to conquer this frittata thing, being the only person I know who doesn’t really understand frittata preparation. So, the next day, when Ana was visiting for a fun time of knitting, tea drinking, and marathon ancient PBS Mystery watching, I decided to give it another go.  Ana, a frittata expert, supervised.  She agreed about the oven, and said that I also need to add a potato, both for fluffiness and ballast.  We went to the store, purchased some lovely kale, and fixed our dinner.  I now have proof positive that Ana and Becca know more about these matters than Martha Stewart does.  Our frittata was light, fluffy, and delicious.  Infinitely better than the one I prepared the day before.  When I told Becca about it later, she didn’t even say, “I told you so.”  Not in so many words, at least.



Super Summer Frittata

1 bunch of kale
I started eating it before I remembered to take a picture. 
1 medium potato (we used a Yukon Gold)
1 largish shallot, (ping pong ball sized) chopped
6 garlic toes
Juice of ½ lemon
2 T olive oil

4 eggs
salt
pepper,
cheese (we used Quattro Fromaggio from Trader Joes, because that was the cheese on hand)

Early in the day, so that you can prepare dinner in minimal time during a break from tv watching, tear the kale away from the ribs, discarding them.  Blanch the kale for three minutes, squeeze it dry, and chop it up.  Set aside till ready to make the frittata.

With a fork, pierce the potato in several places and then cook it in the microwave for four minutes, turning it several times during cooking.  Chop it up and set aside.

When it’s almost time to eat, heat the oven to 400°.   Using an ovenproof pan, such as a cast iron skillet, sauté the shallot for a minute or two in the olive oil, and add in the garlic for another minute, then stir in the kale. Stir the lemon juice over the kale and then stir in the potato.

In a separate bowl, stir the eggs well, adding a pinch of salt per egg, and some pepper.  Stir in a handful of the cheese.  Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables, making sure things are evenly distributed. Top with another fistful of cheese.   Bake the frittata in the hot over for about 6 – 8 minutes.  Check it after six minutes.  It is done when it no longer jiggles in the middle. 

Result:  Light, fluffy deliciousness!


Salad with lettuce from Ana's garden

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Happy Day with a Long (very long) Anticipated Outcome





Have you ever wanted something for about fifty years, and then finally gotten it?  I don’t mean something like getting your PhD or becoming the CEO of your company.  I don’t mean goals, I mean an object.  The finally getting of it can go either way - either a big let down, since the object did not actually bring the expected happiness, or giddy delight that the wished for has finally been obtained. 

It was when I was a teen ager that I noticed that my grandfather was sitting in my other grandfather’s chair.  When I wondered about this, it turned out that when my maternal grandfather ascended to the great reading room in the sky, my grandmother gave his special chair to my other grandfather, and it became his special chair. 

Its delightful growly mouth  - it has two!

I recall being very little and sitting on my Grandfather Forrestal’s lap, listening to the radio, having the funnies read to me, or being told that, “Yes, I could indeed stay up to midnight!  When the big hand is here, on the twelve, and the little hand is here, on the nine, it will be midnight, and then you must go to bed.”  This seemed incredibly exotic, not to mention exciting – this business of staying up to midnight.  I never was allowed to stay up so late in my parent’s house.  Later, I remember many happy times with my Grossvater sitting in the chair while we watched tv or took naps.  A vivid scene, which still seems quite fresh, is little Rebecca being sooooo agitated as we watched Mohammed Ali in some bit important fight.  Rebecca was terrified that her hero might not win, and had been fretting about the possibility for days.  Fortunately, he did win, and family serenity was preserved.  Years later, I was visiting my very aged Grandfather while Dakki was doing errands.  When she returned, she asked him if we had had a good visit.  “Excellent, the best ever!” he told her.  While she left on her errands, he had sat in his chair, I lounged nearby on the couch, and we both had a nice nap.  I thought it was a good visit too, but was a little offended that it had been the best ever.

I desperately wanted that chair, and my aunt knew it, but she desperately wanted to keep it.  She did, however, promise  to leave it to me in her will.  The problem here is that I don’t think that she even has a will.  Once in recent times, after I had performed some valiant service, she told me I could take the chair.  Unfortunately, it was raining, so I said I would get it when the rain stopped.  Even more unfortunately, by the time the rain stopped, she had changed her mind.  And denied ever having said such a thing.  I must have misunderstood, she said.  Harrumph! 

Its darling little claws

Then one day, as I was napping in my chair, through the fog, I heard her voice saying, “Grossvater’s chair.”  I sprang awake.  I had not misheard!  I rushed over and there it was – ready to come to my house!  I am so pleased.  No disappointment with this wish fulfillment.  The original leather cushions were worn to smithereens, so I have to make something new, but in the meantime, I have plopped down a few cushions which have been lurking about here, and it is now my happy new readiing (and sometimes napping) chair.  Hurrah!!!!!


And it is a Morris Chair!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Very Hot Day

Gaaaaah!  I just don’t like hot weather.  Tobias and I are lying about like limp rags, panting and complaining.  I am taking frequent cold showers to cool off, but Tobias says he doesn’t go in for showers – sorry, but thanks for offering. 


Last Saturday, it was hot, but not unbearably hot.  Michelle and I went on an outing to partake in the centennial celebration for the Smith Tower, once the tallest building west of the Mississippi.  Now, of course, it is fairly dwarfed by the other buildings in town, but it still holds its own for a beautiful and amazing  interior.  Somehow, while the Tower has always been a Seattle presence in my mind, and one for which I have long felt a Seattle affection, greeting it every time I walk to Chinatown and see it from across the Denny Woo Garden, or go to Pioneer Square and look up at it, I had never been inside.  It had never even occurred to me that it had an inside,  its outside being so special.  The lobby sparkles with its marble and wood, and the Native American chief carvings which decorate the cornice. 


The elevators, brass and glass cages, and still run by a human operator, are worth a trip in themselves.  At the top is the Chinese room with a 360 ° view beyond the city to the east and  to the west  beyond the bay to the surrounding mountains.   The room is furnished with gifts from the Empress of China, Cixi, and includes a “Wishing Chair.”  The maiden who sits in it is supposed to be married within a year.  Somehow, I do not think this is what Michelle has in mind.




This fellow looks like a nurse I used to work with.  He was not Chinese, but had a similar looking attitude to life.


Details from the ceiling

Afterward, tea at the Panama Hotel, another spot prominent in Seattle history, and then a tour of the Denny Woo Garden.  The gardens always give the sagging spirits a lift with their serene greenery, soft breezes, and even on the hottest day, a sense of perfect weather, cool in the summer, comforting in the winter.  







The Smith Tower peeking up over the Denny Woo Gardens