Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Medical Day (Feline)

Poor little Bunny wasn’t feeling well. Rachael didn’t want to take her to the vet herself, since if there were to be a bad diagnosis, Rachael did not want to collapse in sorrow in the relative public of the vet’s office.  Rebeca and I are quite used to sorrow at the vets, and in general, have learned to contain ourselves at least until we get to the car.  So we were assigned to take Bunny in for her appointment.

I mentioned to my Aunt Pauline that Rebecca and I were taking Bunny to the doctor the next day, and Pauline asked what Bunny’s symptoms were.  “Her main symptom is that she is grumpier than usual,” I told her.   “It’s a good thing you don’t have to go to the vet every time that happen to you!,”  Pauline said. I was offended, but Rebecca was  rudely amused.  

Bunny, as those of you who know her well are aware, can be a sweet and affectionate kitty, but, when feeling misused, can also be a bit of a terror.  At the vet, to my surprise, she was quite placid while they were taking her temperature, and we feared this might be a sign of a serious illness, but when the general exam began, Bunny objected quite loudly — one might even say, violently.  I was, I’m afraid, unmoved, but Rebecca, more tender hearted, felt sorry for Bunny, especially when the assistant got a special little red cat mask that covered Bunny’s eyes, and more importantly, her teeth.  She also got some huge leather gauntlets to guard against those talons.  Bunny was emphatic in her protests.  This reminded me of Michael Ryan, who when taken to the vet, always had to be taken into the back and be put in the stocks, while Rebecca and I waited in the reception area.  We, and everyone else in the building heard his shrieks of protest.  I was mortified and a little disgusted at such behavior, but when I looked at Rebecca, she had tears dripping down her cheeks.  She did love her naughty kitty.  I must add that at all other times, well - almost all other times, Michael was a well-behaved, loving kitty. 

All was fine with Bunny.  As to her back legs, she leapt, like Superwoman, over high exam tables and counters.  Once she heard the good news about her health, she was very relieved and anxious to get back into her carrier and be taken home.  

The  two Michael Ryans

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Movie Evening

 Ben Hur 1925-1

Hello there!  It's been a while since we got together.  I just keep thinking up fascinating blog post topics, mentally composing clever little essays in my head, but being waaaaaay too lazy to actually take pen to paper – er, fingers to keyboard.  What is my problem?  I can’t fathom the answer to that one, I’m afraid. 

My most recent mental blog post had to do with the fabulous evening I had with Becca and my friend Laura at the Silent Movies at the Paramount.  In the weeks previous, Rebecca and I had been talking about going to see Ben Hur – a movie I had never seen, and actually knew little about, other than that it is one of the silent movie “greats.”.  My acquaintance with Ben Hur stretched back many years, but was very hazy.  I had started reading the book, which was in the little library at the back of my eighth grade class room.  It was phenomenally boring.  I don’t think I even made it to page five. Next meet up, reading the adverts to the Charlton Heston movie of the same.  Even at a very tender age, Charlton Heston nauseated me, and I was not interested in seeing him strut about.  I also had no interest in chariot races.  All I really knew about that movie was that it had Charlton Heston, a chariot race, and the men wore costumes that looked like leather versions of what Esther Williams wore in her movies.  
Fast forward to more recent years.  I had read much about the 1925 Ben Hur, and now it was scheduled to play at the Paramount Silent Movie series.  This time, I was excited.  Really excited.  I thought the plot might still be boring, but hey…. The movie was super famous, in fact, a cinema landmark.  And the music was not organ this time, but the Seattle Rock Orchestra.  In the recent past, the silent movie music (silent movie, not silent music) has occasionally been something other than the mighty Wurlitzer, and I have been skeptical every time.  Organ music is the perfect movie accompaniment, right? For Peter Pan, there was going to be a harpist!  Harp for a movie? Ew!!! Well, I was wrong.  The harp music was exactly right!  Then Metropolis!  This was to be accompanied by Degenerate Art Ensemble, a group that I had found truly and unpleasantly weird in my very minimal acquaintance with it.  Once again, I was mistaken.  The music could not have been more ideal for the movie.  It was Just The Right Thing!  So, finally I had an open - well, ajar at least- mind about “non-organ-movie-music”, and was eager to see how it would all play out. 

A week or two previously, my friend Laura and I had a date for a walk on the beach at Alkai.  The weather was a little misty moisty, but we are true Seattleites, and were undaunted. As we walked along through the now pelting rain, both thoroughly drenched, our conversation somehow drifted to Ben Hur and the Seattle Rock Orchestra.  We both were really excited about seeing the movie and hearing the music.  Then, when we sought shelter in a West Seattle restaurant, we noticed that the person at the table next to us had a silent movie on her laptop.  She was playing the same scene over and over.  We also noticed that she had a huge music score and earphones.  We noticed too, that the movie she was watching appeared to be biblical!  Long beards and flowing robes.  Could it be? Was it Ben Hur?  We were bold, and asked her about it. She was in fact Kim Roy, the conductor of the Orchestra!  What a coincidence.  We were amazed, and told her we had just, minutes before, been talking about the movie and the music and we were eagerly looking forward to it.  She was super nice. 

Fast forward to the movie evening.  I had been sort of wanting to sit in the balcony, which I had never done at the Paramount, but didn’t I mention it, as I am usually just told where we are sitting and that is that.  However, Becca mentioned that maybe we should try the balcony, and Laura said she thought so too.  Yay!  I have my acrophobia issues, and felt a bit as though I might suddenly be swept down into the abyss below, but once I, valiantly fighting nausea, found my way to my seat, it was fine.  It is a different world up there.  A different perspective on the film below, and even a different audience. 

The film was wonderful!!!! I found that I actually do like chariot races.  Becca said later that her favorite part was the parade of naked ladies accompanying some Roman nabob in his triumphal parade.  Sigh!  I must have been looking at some other thing on the densely populated screen, as I missed them altogether.  How could I have been bored by such an exciting story?  I’m going to give General Wallace another go. 

Here is a link to the preview of the movie.  The naked ladies are there front and center.  How could I have missed them!  

P.S. Thanks to Rebecca and Laura for the photos.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Slightly Guilty Day

I’ve become such a non-blogger lately.  I don’t quite understand it.  Why, when still a working girl, should I have so much more time for that sort of thing?  I look at old posts for inspiration, and occasionally, I think, “Could I actually have written something so clever?”  But more often, I think, “Could I actually have written something so dumb?”  Now I am thinking, “Can I actually write anything at all?”  Where have my time and my blog mojo slipped off to?  What have I been doing anyway!!

  Becca and I have been trying to jog faithfully, and to find various scenic jog routes. 

Our most recent jog was not the usual slog, and in fact, not a jog at all, but a lovely woodland walk, since she had a sore achy ankle.  I felt very sorry for her ankle, of course, but my sorrow was tinged with a goodly amount of relief.  We were able to admire the trees, marvel at their sticky sap, commune with some squirrels and woodpeckers, and

photograph some of the wildlife.  

Becca's bug photo

Here I am having a beatific vision in nature’s cathedral. 

Later, as we drank tea at a favorite restaurant, we had scintillating conversation about our adventures in the woods.  Sometimes this is difficult with the youth of the day. 

To be continued soon, I hope!!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Celestial Day

My idea of the world's most wonderful music is pretty mutable. Generally my favorites are something by Bach or Mozart.  But at other times it is whatever I am currently listening to, or what we are working on at choir. Today it is Duruflé’s Requiem. Every year we sing a Requiem Mass on November 2, All Souls’ Day, and most often it has been Mozart. However, some years, we sing another Requiem, and this year it is Duruflé's exquisite composition

Mozart’s Requiem is all about the our ultimate victory over the terrors of death, and our eventual triumphal march across the Great Divide into Heaven. Duruflé, on the other hand, seems to have accepted death, and realizes that it can be peaceful and even lovely. His Mass setting is more about Heaven itself. Dies Irae, the most terrifying part of the Mozart’s Requiem is not even there. Duruflé is all about eternal bliss.  The musical themes are based on the Gregorian chants for the Requiem Mass, but the chants are imbued with a new life and quiet magnificence unimaginable until you hear it. Listening to it is like being in a cloud of celestial sound.

All are invited to participate in the Mass for All Soul's Day and to hear this wonderful music at St. James Cathedral on the Feast of All Souls, November 2 at 7:30.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Non-Birthday Day

Rebecca insists that birthday presents may not ever be given in advance of actual birthdays – or at least, not opened – nor may any celebrations be held.  She is quite firm about this, and while I don’t totally buy into it, her opinions usually wear off onto me to some extent.  So, when Samos wanted to have a celebratory lunch and  bring me my birthday present a week prior to my actual birthday, I said that he must wait.  But, alas, there was no other convenient day, so I said we could have a non-celebratory lunch,  and he could bring it, but I would not open it yet.  This too wouldn’t do, because he needed to see my delighted expression when I opened it.  In this, he was not disappointed.  I was thrilled.  Really, really thrilled.  A few weeks previously, for some reason, we had been talking about Pinetop Smith’s Boogie Woogie. 

I mentioned that I had played it in high school, and was supposed to play it for a piano recital.  At nearly the last minute, I told my teacher that I refused to play it, because it was beyond my capabilities, and I knew that, under the stupendous pressure of these nerve wracking ordeals, I would fail, humiliating myself and my family.  It was a truly horrifying thought, as anyone who has been forced to endure the agony of piano recitals can testify.  The same thing had happened the previous year when I was supposed to play The Doll Dance by Nacio Herb Brown.  In both instances, the teachers gave me an easy no-fail piece to learn quickly, thus sparing both me and my family a major trauma.  I also told Samos that my mother, who was the absolute antithesis of a hoarder, especially with her family’s possessions, had, when I went off to college, gotten rid of all my piano music,  even the ones she liked to hear me play.

Why you might ask, did I select such odd choices for my music lessons?  Well, as those who know me now might expect, I was an odd girl. My father’s secretary had given me a box of old 78’s, with some classical fare, but mostly music from the 20’s and 30’s – lots of fox trots, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Gershwin. I loved them!  And Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra playing Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie was one of my favorites.   Now, after a huge piano playing hiatus, I wanted to revisit the fun music of my youth.  But, thanks to my mother’s neatnik clutterless propensities, I couldn’t.  So what a delightful surprise it was to find this fabuloso gift!!!!

It was not a tremendous surprise to find that the piece was still beyond me – and by a long shot – but I plan to struggle through.  When I showed it to my friend Carolyn, she sat down and played it right off.  Sigh! Why was I born so ungifted?????

The Party Kitty pin - a little gift from Michelle

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Cooking (and other fun things) Day

Periodically, Ana and I have a day of almost total laziness, watching mystery shows and knitting along to them.  Our current fave is Phryne Fisher, but, sad to say, we had exhausted her and watched all the episodes.  The same with Lewis, whom we also enjoy immensely. We have had to watch thousand year old Midsomer Murders and Inspector Morse – not that I object in the least to that.  But good news!  There is a new season of Phryne, just ready for us, and we are full of plans to have a fun day of indolence with our flapper heroine. 
We do rouse ourselves a bit, in order to fix a fun meal, usually one that our families would not appreciate as much as we will.  Just prior to Ana’s last visit, the New York Times cooking section was all on about eggplant and tomato dishes.  “Does Ana like eggplant?” I asked Becca. “She sure does!” Becca said.  Eggplant is something that many folks have opinions about. So I consulted Ana, and she sent several recipes for us to consider.  We decided to use them as a starting point, and then let our culinary imaginations take over.  But best of all, Ana brought some beautiful tomatoes, largesse from her bountiful garden. 
We watched an episode of something, and the, took a break to cook.  While Ana was fiddling with the garlic, I was measuring and preparing the tomatoes.  The recipe called for a pound.  “That’s sixteen ounces,” Ana told me.  “Of course I know that!” I huffily responded.  When I had the tomatoes measured out, I said, “This really doesn’t look like enough tomatoes.  What do you think?”  Well, Ana thought, correctly, that I had only gotten out eight ounces, so of course it wasn’t enough.  Embarrassed, I wondered what I could have been thinking.  I guess I wasn’t thinking at all. 

The resultant risotto was exquisite!  Maybe the best I have ever eaten.  Here is our recipe so you can try it too!

Tomato Eggplant Risotto

1 largish eggplant
Olive oil
One large onion
One head garlic (that’s right – one head. Ana and I feel that there can never be too much garlic!)
One pound small tomatoes – cherry or similar
1 ½ cup Arborio rice
3 cups vegetable broth
½ cup suitable wine
Salt, pepper
½ cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup freshly ground Parmesan
Shaved Parmesan  or Asiago cheese

Heat the oven to 450°  Cut the eggplant in half, and make slits in the cut side, being careful not to cut through to the skin.  Coat the eggplant halves in olive oil, and place face down on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until it starts to look wrinkled and slightly collapsing.  Remove it from the oven and chop it up. 

Meanwhile, chop the onions and peel and chop the garlic.  Cut the tomatoes in half and chiffonade the basil leaves.  In your pressure cooker, sauté the onion in olive oil until it looks translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté a minute more.  Add the rice and stir until each rice grain is coated with oil. Stir in the eggplant.  Add the wine and broth.  Check for seasoning, adding the pepper and salt if needed.  Bring to pressure and cook for 5 minutes.  When you are ready to eat, add the grated Parmesan, the tomatoes, and the basil leaves, reserving a few for garnish.  Serve each plate topped with a bit of shaved Asaigo cheese and a bit of basil.  Delicious!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Very Meh Day

Today has been one of those days in which one more or less wishes one had not gotten out of bed.  I did actually get up for a while, but felt so like a big blob that I retreated back to my snug little nest.  I failed to do any of my usual morning activities except for reading the newspaper and doing the crossword puzzle, neither of which could really be considered an activity.  Once back in bed, I didn’t even feel like reading my book.  And I had previously had such plans for the day!  My doing nothing made me feel even more oppressed. I attribute my state of blah to too many saltwater taffies yesterday.  They are such a terrible weakness with me.  Thank Heavens, they are not universally available.  Rachael and I purchased a bag recently, and each had two, or at most, three.  I carefully monitored her intake to see that she didn’t overdo it and encroach  into my share, and I was careful to give a non-piggy example of moderation, thinking that I could have more later.  The next day, I went to have another delightful sweetly tidbit or two, and there were none!  I was horrified. Had I actually gobbled up an entire bag of them without noticing?  Apparently so!  However, a few days later, serendipity!  I found them in a safe place while looking for a pen or some such thing.  A little gift from above! 

Speaking of which, years ago the dearest friend of my youth, knowing of my proclivity, brought me a bag of them when she came from Ireland to visit.  I carefully hid my gift from my greedy family, and with the thrill of her visit, more or less forgot about it.  Then, sad to say, she, not too long later, died.  Several years after that, I was rummaging about in my closet, and lo! There was the bag of saltwater taffy!  This time, it really was a gift from heaven, or at least from one in heaven. 

All this blather about candy and heaven, has perked me up immensely.  I am going to get up now, and face the day.  Yay!  Thank you, my Blog Friends, for cheering my up.  I might even cycle to the store and get some….. No, I guess I had better get some carrots, or something healthy!