Saturday, January 24, 2015

Another Sweaty Day




I think I hinted in a previous post about what an unenthusiastic exerciser I am.  This has been a life-long truth.  I dreaded PE from the first grade onwards.  I probably would have dreaded it in kindergarten as well, but I don’t remember it happening there.  I imagine it did, but presented in such a way that the innocent didn’t suffer.  The nuns at my grammar school were not that into it either, but the head nun was an enthusiastic folk dancer, and this fell into the same horrifying category – physically coordinated things that I could not do and from which I endured great humiliation.  I loved swimming, roller skating, and riding my bicycle, but these were solo activities for which one’s performance was not judged.  So I could be not good at them, and still imagine I was doing well and have fun.  Then in high school came the shock and horror of organized sports – organized by a hideously enthusiastic and supremely athletic bunch on nuns.  This was a gruesome ordeal – gruesome before we even hit the games field.  We had to change out clothes in front of the other girls ( so mortifying,) and wear the most disgusting outfits ever.  Actually, not quite.  The class before us wore something way worse – a sort of one piece affair with an unflattering little skirt attached to an ugly blouse and puffy bloomers!  I could not believe it when I first saw them.  They were a minor consolation for the awful Bermuda shorts and blouse that we had to wear. 

When I was married, my husband Dennis was very interested in me being fit, and encouraged me to do push ups and jog around the block while he sat by and was encouraging.  Somehow, we both thought this was fun and funny. I am not sure why that was, given my disinclination for anything requiring exertion. 

My ideal exercise is turning the pages of a book, but as you can see, I have spent a lifetime of people wanting me to move more.  And Rebecca has joined this cadre of enthusiastic naggers.  She keeps sending me articles telling my how much healthier, smarter, happier, etc. I will be if only I get off my duff, and takes me jogging twice weekly.  Or maybe I should say weakly.  Anyhow, on our most recent run, I took her fabulous gift to me – my new brilliant phone – and it recorded our progress.  My phone had a GPS fluke and thought that I had gone much further and faster than I actually did.  We know this, because hers has been proven accurate.   I would like to think that I went as far as my phone said I did, but that would be fibbing.  Not fibbing though, is this photo, the first I ever took with it.  I said, gasping, “Let’s stop for a picture here.”  “No, no, we have to keep going,”  she replied. But she relented and I had a short breather so I could snap a pic for you.   

You can see a prettier photo from the same spot here

Monday, January 19, 2015

Another Fun Day with the Best Girl Ever


What we expected

Rebecca is the best girl ever!  I am so grateful that she forces me to exercise and takes me for runs twice a week.  Even though I do a good bit of whining and complaining, I realize that most mothers are not so lucky.  Last Friday, we planned that our run would take us through Chinatown and then along the waterfront and on to Cost Plus, where we would look for after-Christmas bargains – in particular a new dish for my Little Man.  We were hoping to admire the boats and birds as we trotted along.  As we ran through Chinatown, our conversation was going as usual, with Rebecca saying, “Come on, come on, faster, faster.  You’re slowing way down.  We aren’t going any faster than walking. No, we can’t stop and rest. We’ve hardly gone any distance at all – look at that person there.  She is twice as old as you and going way faster, etc,” and me lagging behind, pathetically gasping, “Slow down.  Slow down.  Are we there yet?  I’m going as fast as I can.  I’m so tired.  How far have we gone?  Can we stop now?  I’m sick.  I’m going to throw up.”  

This time, we had another topic, because when we reached the waterfront, it was gone!! 

What we found
There was horrible construction of a seawall with fences, blockades, hideous noises, and no water, pleasant boats or even birds to be seen. We were shocked.  Finally, we passed the last bit of construction just a short distance before our destination.  At Cost Plus, I found lots of items that I really, really needed, but, sadly, no cat dish.  We were planning to take the bus home, and went through a cooking store on the way to the bus stop, and there I found the ideal dish for my little fellow.  He was quite pleased with it, although he does seem to be glowering at me in his picture.  Maybe he doesn’t want people bothering him while he eats. 

I mentioned to Rebecca that my phone was getting pretty funky, and I thought I would get a new one.  “Don’t do that,” she said.  “I’m going to switch carriers and so you will automatically get a new one.”  Rachael told me it would be a flip phone that didn’t take pictures.  In other words, even more funky that the el cheapo that I had.  I somehow knew that this could not quite be true, but was astonished when Becca brought me my new phone today.  “A Mother’s Day present, early,” she said.  I have joined the 21st century with my fabulous new iphone.  Now I only have to figure out how to use it.  Aaaak!  I was going to show you a picture of it, which I took with my camera, but suddenly, I can’t make my camera talk to my computer.  Still stuck in the twentieth century after all.





The dish has appropriate sentiments for my darling kitty.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Historical Day



 The scrim from the Nippon Kan Theater was used for advertising.  If the merchant did not pay his fees, his ad was scraped off and another painted on.

                        One of the ads.  The frog is a sign of Good Luck!


I had given Corinna the travel section of the NYT, (which she likes and which I never even glance at,) and it had an article about fun things to do in Seattle. One of them was visiting the Wing Luke Museum, which celebrates the Asian-American immigrants – both in history and culture.  When Rachael was wee, she was in a Filipino dance troupe which performed there, so we all went to watch her dance.  The museum was interesting, but I never felt compelled to make a second visit. Well, I was mistaken about that.  This was a most fun day, and one full of surprises.  One surprise was how totally ignorant I was about early Seattle history and its men who moved mountains.  Literally, moved mountains – down into the bay, reshaping the topography of the city and moving the shoreline out to sea.  The museum itself had moved since I was there last, and now is in a refurbished, retrofitted, mostly spiffed up immigrant hotel which had been let go derelict for decades. 



But parts of it were left much as they had been, and were a window into the experience of the early Chinese immigrants – the workers who came to work in the canneries and fisheries. 


The rooms were not allowed to have stoves, but many did. Here - green beans cooking!

Our guide gave us a vivid look at the Chinese family associations, the Tongs, as we toured their meeting rooms.  For me the word “Tong” conjured up Chinese mafia, and lives of violent crime.  This was apparently not the case.  The Tongs were basically benevolent associations, helping the family groups which could  not access the resources available to the non-Asian population. There was indeed a lot of gambling, with dens which my great-aunties visited frequently, once getting caught in a raid, but the raids, our guide told us, were mostly for show, as the police were well paid to leave the gamblers alone.

Family Association Room at the top of the hotel! The doors once opened to a balcony.

Time for a Mah Jong all nighter  with the ladies.


Monday, January 5, 2015

A Lovely Day


 
Cyrus Therapy


Yesterday was rather a signal day in a bunch of ways.  For starters, I had been ill all week, and this was my first venture out of the house in that long time.  This alone made it a very good day.   But, it was filled with other joys, losses, finds, fabulous firsts, fun with friends, etc, etc!  I got up on plenty of time, and was scurrying around, getting ready for Mass and breakfast with Peggy and John afterwards, and, thinking that Peggy and I probably would want to knit a bit, was gathering my knitting gear. It was all there, except for the instructions for my current sock – one which needed reference to the charts every step of the way.  Given that I had been knitting in bed just before turning out my light, it seemed that the directions had to be there. But they were not.  Occasionally I make my book, glasses, or whatever right into my bed, so I unmade the bed and looked between the sheets.  Nothing.   I made the bed again.  I looked all around the room and under the bed.  Nothing.  The same with under the pillows.  So I unmade the bed and looked between the duvets and the quilt.  No soap.  This was very mysterious, as there was nowhere that it could have gone.  Totally flummoxed,  I gave up, made the bed again, and took some directions for the same sock in a different size, thinking I could adjust.  Of course, I forgot to adjust when the time came and so made no progress.   Petting Peggy’s pups was more fun anyway. 

After a yummy breakfast, Peggy was nobly driving me home, and as we approached my house, I started rummaging about for my keys.  They didn’t seem to be there.  This always puts me into a bit of a state – not because I am afraid of being locked out (of course that would be an unpleasant problem,) but because Rebecca and Rachael have gotten me programmed to always have the keys in my hand well before reaching the lock – to spare them frustration.  If we ever approach my car to go somewhere, and I don’t have the keys out, they start to get agitated.  If I have to look for the keys when we reach the car, there are sighs and eye rollings! Along with, if I have to actually go through several pockets, little groans of disgust.  Peggy, of course, is kindness itself, and would never have such feelings, but nonetheless, I was getting kind of upset.  I knew I had put them into my purse and even knew I had put them into its little zippered pocket.   

She saw my rummagings, and said she would wait till I found them.  “No, no!  It will be fine,” I said.  But she insisted, and then seeing me still pawing through my bag, she got out of her and came to the porch to help me.  The keys were just not there.  Nor were they in my pockets.  Rats!!!  I dumped everything out of my purse onto the porch, which was a little embarrassing, as my purse is like a garbage tip. No keys.  We shook the purse…. And could hear them.  But there were not there.   This was as mysterious as my disappearing knitting directions.  Resourceful Peggy realized that they had somehow gotten in between the lining and the actual bag – along with a pair of glasses and a pen.  She found the hole in the lining of the zippered pocket, extracted all the rogue objects, thus saving the day.  Whew!  I am so lucky to have such a good friend.


Hmmm!  No keys in this mess.  :-(

Speaking of friends, Teresa, the mother of The Three Twins, gave me this fabulous little pin cushion, which she made.  Just a day or two before, I had admired a sweet serving dish when having dinner with The Two Twins, and they said it was a gift from Teresa and  that she had made it.  I was amazed. 


I mentioned firsts!  This was the debut of Joseph, our new interim choir director, and he did a most wonderful job.  Of course, the music was serene and exquisite, but so was everything else.  The whole morning was serene as well as exquisite, and then when we returned in the late afternoon for the Schola Mass, there was more serenity and exquisiteness.  I am looking forward to a new era of marvelous music making with a magical fellow.  

PS   The knitting directions, in their mylar folder, had stuck to the bottom of a book that was on my bed.  When I turned the book over .... voila!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Baking Day






I have been a Christmas Cookie making fan since forever.  Well, maybe not that long, but almost.  Ever since Rebecca was a teeny baby, the only creative thing I could manage to do while caring for an infant who seemed constantly hungry was to cook.  I made elaborate meals every day, and then, when they were ready, could not sit down to eat them, because a demanding other wanted her dinner immediately.  A cookie was quite another thing.  A babe at the breast could prevent one from sitting down to a nice meal at the table, but could not prevent one from enjoying a cookie.  Around Baby’s first Christmas, I made several Christmas specific cookies from my ever trusty Betty Crocker cookbook, and lo!  There was a revelation and a tiny miracle-let.  The Lebkuchen worked like a little mystical Madeline and transported me back to my Grandmother’s house and reminded me that these were my favorite cookies ever!  The next time I made them though, they were a disgusting flop.  The dough tasted just as it should, but it refused to ever turn into an actual cookie.  I gave it another go the subsequent year, and -- gooey mess again.  Determined, I tried yet again and the fourth time was a charm.  Delightful!  But, as I could not imagine where I had gone wrong with my two earlier failures, I switched to a surer recipe.  It was not quite as good, but it never failed.



This year, my failure was spritz – Rachael’s favorite cookie!  

My Spritz

I had never made them before, but how could one go wrong with such simple dough?  Well, easily, I discovered.  Rebecca had been valiantly, but unsuccessfully, trying to motivate herself to launch into the cookies she felt obliged to make.  I assured her that life and Christmas would go on if she didn’t make cookies.  She had to, she sadly said.  How well I know this feeling – of just being unable to start some obligatory something and the ensuing guilt and sense of worthlessness.  An hour or two later, I texted her a photo of my spritz and then called her to whine about my failure and how they were Rachael’s favorite and how I had hoped to thrill our Baby.  This sent a thrill of Schadenfreude through Becca and galvanized her utterly.  She swung into action, and later that evening, as Rachael and I were driving towards Rachael’s house, she texted me a photo of her spritz.  

Rebecca's Spritz

Rachael thought this was not nice of her, but I thought it was très funny, as Rebecca well knew I would.  She even posted a blog entry about her triumph!   My other cookies, including my sine qua non Christmas cookie, Pfeffernusse, all turned out well, I am pleased to report. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Postal Day



I think I may be one of the few folks around who loves to go to the post office. My local post office itself is funky in a friendly way, with big paintings of various people receiving mail.  There is one of a soldier getting a letter from home, an old man getting mail from his children, a family preparing a package to send off – perhaps to the soldier, and, I think, someone getting a letter from her sweetie, also perhaps the soldier.  These are all sort of Norman Rockwell-ish, (but ethnic Norman Rockwell) and in a Norman Rockwell way, make one feel good. The postal crew are an always sociable group, pleasant, knowledgeable, and willing to help – even a bit above and beyond.  Sometimes the line is long, and the waiting customers usually seem to bond and help one another endure.  The queue ennui is occasionally broken by an outraged client, who simply cannot understand why his ridiculous request, whatever it may be, cannot be acceded to, and who feels that if he just causes enough of a fuss, the postal personnel will break the rules to let him have his way.  The other customers  silently watch the drama unfold, grateful for the distraction.  Then when the disgruntled one finally stalks off, all the other waiting patrons  suddenly have a fine topic of conversation.

My earliest post office memories are of going there on Saturday mornings with my father.  All our mail, including that for his business, came to the post office, and so every morning he would drive there to get the mail and to buy a San Francisco Chronicle. (This last could not be disturbed until he had finished reading it.  He doled it out section by section, and sadly, read the sports section first, then the front page, and then finally funnies.)  I was up betimes every Saturday morning so that I could go with him.  Occasionally he would buy me a sweet from the blind concessionaire.  This was, of course, a special treat.  Years later, when Rebecca went with him, he always bought her a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and she thinks of him whenever she eats one now.  Hers were not an occasional treats, but an expected dividend.  I guess that is one difference between parents and grandparents.

The Twins had told me that I should go the main Seattle post office in Sodo (the industrial area,) but I thought this sounded un-fun, and also I wasn’t quite sure where it was.  They rhapsodized about it, it’s great service and the tiny short line when they went -tiny lines despite it being Christmas mail season.  The line at my post office was very long, and I needed to go to the Sodo area for something else, so I thought I would give it a go.  In my usual negative way, I was sure it would be industrial and unpleasant.  Well, it was sort of industrial, but the man who waited on was a dear. He was Asian, and his command of English was not perfect, but his command of postal business seemed to be.  After mailing my package (at a huge expense,) I said I would like some cute stamps.  “What sort?” he wanted to know. “Probably not Christmas.  You are done with that.”  He got out three sets, and they were perfect.  I was amazed at his prescience.  “You picked the very ones I would love. “  “I have felt your mind,” he said.  I loved him as well as the stamps he selected.  There is just something about a post office that is wonderful.