Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Triumphal Day for a Procrastinator

Horrible, isn't it?

What else has nudged its way into blogging time?  Well, everyone knows that I am the arch procrastinator.  I have lots of undone tasks, all of which I expect to finish some day, but none has, in days of late, caused me the procrastinator anxiety that my fence has.  For over two years, I have been babbling about painting my fence, whining because it was so ugly, and generally fretting about it.  Finally, as another winter was fast approaching and sunny days could not be counted on, with the help (lots of help) of dear Samos, I took the bull by the horns – or rather the fence by the scraper and paint brush, and got going on it.

  I cannot say that it is entirely done, because there is a bit left, and it needs a second coat, but it looks much better.  This was a hideous ordeal, but I am happy that is done – or, I should say, sort of done.  As soon as a few more dry days come, I will, I will, I will, finish it.  I promise.  

Samos helping with, er - doing, the prep work.

And where is the picture of the sparkling white fence?  Maybe I will get to that tomorrow. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cookie Day

Whoa!  It’s been a while.  And it’s not because I didn’t have any blogworthy happenings, but because there were way too many.  I took pictures to illustrate a number of blog posts which never materialized because I was busy experiencing other blogworthy events.  I will try to catch up a bit. 

You all probably know about the “choir treats” ordeal.  It is one about which I have very mixed feelings.  On one hand, it is fun to prepare food, and fun to have other people appreciate and enjoy it, but I tend to freak out about it.   It has become much less of an ordeal since Friend John and I joined forces.  He and Peggy are the most soothing people in the world, and when he (or they) arrive to fetch me and my offerings, they immediately calm my ruffled feathers and all becomes serene.   This year, Rachael suggested that I make some molasses and some pumpkin cookies.  So I did.  The molasses cookies that I wanted to make were the ones I had made with Rachael when she was wee.  Her first cookie cooking experience ever.  I thought she would be excited about breaking in the eggs, but not she.  Rachael was a dainty one from the very first.  The thought of possibly getting egg, on her fingers was way too repellant so I did the egg.  I always enjoy cracking an egg.  The cookie making  was fun, and remains a happy memory (for both of us, I think.)  But …. I couldn’t find the recipe.  I had looked for the book I knew it was in, a Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Special, often over the years, but it seemed to have disappeared.  I’ll give it one more try, I decided.  I prayed to St Anthony, and then started to delve though my cookbooks.  But no delving was needed.  In true St Anthony fashion, but book I was seeking was right there!  And I had looked right there so many, many times before.  St Anthony is a real miracle worker.

So that I never have to worry about losing it again, here is the recipe.  These cookies are a quick to make, and very delicious, especially if you are an ginger fan, as I am.

Molasses Cookies

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
¼ tsp salt
3/4 cup butter or shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
¼ cup molasses
2 tbs sugar

Heat the oven to 350ยบ

Combine the dry ingredients and mix well.

Beat the butter or shortening with the sugar till fluffy.  Add the molasses and the egg and beat some more.  Stir in the flour mixture until well combined.  Put the two tablespoons of sugar in a small mixing bowl. Form the dough into walnut sized balls and roll each ball in the sugar.  Place the balls on a cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart, and bake for about 10 minutes.  

Little Rachael helping her mom make cookies.  Note Michael Ryan, the cat, trying to come help too.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Stressful Day, er - Week

The last week has been very trying for Tobias and me.  Rachael’s bathroom had ick under the floor, and so the whole room had to be redone.  Given that the bathroom was her one sorrow with her otherwise stellar apartment, it turned out to be a good thing. The down side was that she and her kitties had to stay with me for a week.  I was looking forward to Rachael’s visit, but the kitties – not so much.  Bunny had visited in the past when Rachael was on vacation, and she turned out to be an unideal houseguest and a tormentrix to poor innocent Tobias. She is a great beauty, and like many of that ilk, takes advantage of her magnificence, expecting adulation at every turn.   As soon as she and her sister Keanu, who immediately went into hiding, to emerge only occasionally at meal time,  arrived, we all retired, done in by our day at the Fair.  Bunny, however, leapt onto my lap, screeched at Tobias, ripped my pajamas, fortunately not drawing blood, and then settled herself on my pillow from which she refused to be budged.  She growled, with occasional escalations into hissing, all night long, right in my ear.   Later, she took over Tobias’s couch, jumped up onto anything high, and knocked my tchotchkes from their places of honor.  

Note the picture of Rebecca on the piano -- Oh, it's not there.  It's on the floor!

Ever a lover of altitude, she climbed onto my second floor banister while I watched in horror.  

She is so fierce that I was reluctant to dissuade her.  Thinking that cats understand this sort of thing, I just stared in helpless fascination.  But when she slipped off on the non-stair side, and was hanging by her fingernails, (see photo below - same pose)  she needed to be rescued. 

I bravely grabbed her, and, rather than lacerating my hand, she seemed to be actually grateful for the intervention.  She never again tried to get onto the banister, which, now scarred by her talons, will be an eternal memento of her visit.    

By the end of the week, things were much calmer with only the occasional outbreak of hisses and screeches.  When I heard that the bathroom was not ready and I would have my guests for three more days, I was pleased.  

Everything here is mine!

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Birthday and a Fair Day

What to do for Becca’s Birthday?  Rachael opted for Mount Rainier or the Olympic peninsula, but I pointed that we would not have time to drive either place, since I couldn’t start till after Mass and that would be lateish.  Those were start-at-the-crack-of-dawn destinations. Well, the Fair was on its last day, and they both LOVE the fair.  Me?  Not so much.  But I put on my happy face, and off we went.  My primary concern was actually getting there, as none of us really knew where exactly where Puyallup is, and then where the fair would be once we found Puyallup.  But after accidentally taking several scenic (they actually were scenic) routes, we found it, and, mirabile dictu, also found a nice parking place. 

One really important Fair activity:    

Fair Food!

Another:  Admiring the flashy colors!

And the truly Weird!  There were lots of "collections" on display - some quite bizarre.

And the rides!  This one was really scary, rendered its passengers unable to walk without wobbling immediately on exit.  It got excellent reviews from my girls.  I opted to take pictures from solid ground.

Less scary, but still lotsa fun!

Rachael assured me that this one would not be scary - just fun.  She was mistaken.  It was hideous.  As I was finally tottering off it, the kindly attendant asked me. "Are you okay, hon?"  Rachael and Becca thought this was hilarious.  If you look closely, you can barely see Rachael waving happily, and me fainting away.

Splendid sunset, and then evening falls on a fun, fun day.

The essentials

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Literary Day

Joe Guppy being adorable

There have been lots of blogworthy events lately – so many in fact, that I haven’t had time to blog about them.   Hence the huge hiatus. Sigh! I look at the date of the last post, and can only sigh again.  So now, where to begin? Well, maybe with the most recent and significant.  My cousin Joseph has just had a book published. That is quite significant, as anyone would agree. The grand opening  (do books have grand openings? or only grocery stores?) was a smash hit reading at Elliot Bay Bookstore.   Joseph was his usual fabulous self, and, as they say, the crowd, and there really was a good crowd, went wild. The book is memoir about a very difficult time as a youth thirty years ago, when, during a trip to Mexico, he took a tummy med, and had a terrible reaction – a toxic psychosis which sent his already angst filled psyche right over the edge and him to a mental hospital for three months.  The episode was a Boschian nightmare, which Joseph details with humor, while never minimizing  his terror and sometimes hopelessness.  Take a peek at the book’s video trailer and take a taste here!

Joe Guppy being intellectual

When I got home from the reading with my new book, I thought I would dip in and read a few pages before going night-night, but I was immediately drawn into Joseph’s hellish situation and I had to keep reading until about four hours before I needed to get up.  Then I forced myself to put the book down until the next day. 

You can get your copy at Elliot Bay or here!!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Another Humiliating Day

In my relative youth, I was at least a mediocre pianist, and actually played at Sunday services with a sweet little choir.  Then, I joined the fabulous St. James Choir, fulfilling lots of lifetime dreams, and, getting my musical fix there. That was nearly twenty years ago. My piano practice time immediately dwindled to about twenty minutes a year.  And those twenty minutes were usually a sort of torture.  This year, having retired and expecting to have more time on my hands, I decided to try to practice a bit every day as a Lenten penance.  And a penance it was.  I could not play even the simplest thing.  Soooo discouraging!  I struggled, and got so that I could schlep through a couple of easy pieces, but never with aplomb. 

And absolutely never if anyone was listening.  I could even just imagine someone listening as I played, and kaboom!  The music would go “splat!”  So I decided to make my relatives listen to a little number, just to practice having a listener. Knowing that she would still love me no matter how bad it was, my first test audience was my soon-to-be ninety year old aunt. Splat!!!!!  I could not even play two chords consistently. Utterly humiliating.  Then my daughter and granddaughter became the test audience.  This was way worse.  They could not even bring themselves to utter hypocritically polite remarks.  More like, “Hmmmm!  You are going too fast,” or, “Need to work on that a bit!”

My pal Ana recently inherited her Grandma’s piano, and she too, decided to try to resuscitate her childhood piano prowess.  We agreed to get together to compare notes and play our songs for one another.  She executed hers brilliantly.  Mine went well for one note – then – Splat! 

I was comforted by the scrumptious corn soup we made (recipe here,) but humiliated nonetheless.  

On Sunday, I invited my aunt for tea again, and made her listen to my piece.  I played it fairly well.  But I have to confess that she is stone deaf, her hearing aid was broken, and she was, in addition to that, in the bathroom.  She insisted that she heard every note and it was great!  I chose to believe her.  Sort of.

Saint Cecilia, I'm counting on you to help me out!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Painful but Exhilarating Day

Whoa!  I am in total body pain!  Well, really, it’s just shoulder pain. But it’s sort of fun pain, as it is the result of a very fun day with my girls. It was our first three generation run* almost ever.   A year ago, the three of us, with our friend Tina, ran in a charity event, but that didn’t really count, as Becca and Rachael shot on ahead, leaving Tina and me to trot behind for a while, and then with no  one to nag us, to decide that walking was really more our style.  Becca and Rachael, after waiting at the finish line for quite some time, considered calling the aid car in case we had collapsed en route, but happily, they decided to phone us instead.  They were not very polite when they found that we were not even half way around the course. 

Along the Swamp walk

On to the canoe station

Past a beaver lodge

Today, we stayed together for the most part, as they had promised not to leave me in the dust, and they knew that I was treating them to lunch, which I would probably not do if they deserted me. 

So why the sore shoulders?  Well after running four miles, from my house to the University via the Arboretum and Swamp Walk, we went for a canoe ride.  Our helmsman had a little trouble manipulating the canoe and we spent some time backing out of the water lilies.  This tended to make one of us, i.e., me, crabby.  But despite the lily pads and the grumpiness, we persevered, conquered,   and took enormous pleasure in the beauty of our watery surroundings.

Checking out the Bridge to Nowhere

By the time I got home, I thought was ready to die and I still had to work in the Cathedral Kitchen.  I felt as though I could not possibly do it, but that I had to soldier on.  What commitment!  Oddly, washing pots and pans for an hour, perked me right up.  I recommend it when you are feeling totally exhausted or are just in the dumps.

And finally to Duckville

*Read slow jog with lots of whining.