Monday, April 28, 2008

A sweaty day.

There are some games I truly hate! For instance the volleyball and basketball we were wickedly forced to play in high school. I was actually the last person chosen for the teams on more than one occasion. I still remember very vividly standing there, humiliated, hoping that I would at least be the second last. Then, when the true torture started, I would stand there, terrified that the ball would come my way, bringing further humiliation with it! There are other games for which I feel the potential for enjoyment, but this is mitigated by the certainty that I will loose. These would include chess – I once won a game against a four year old, but other than that, my loss record is perfect. The last time I played was with my then husband, and I ended up throwing the chessmen at him. He still, forty years later, brings this up with a bit of pride and a triumphant snicker. I always lose at scrabble, no doubt because I am more interested in making clever words than in cut-throatedly concentrating on getting the highest score. Rachael and I used to play with no score-keeping, and it was far more fun! Then there is tennis. One summer many, many years ago, my friend Sue persuaded me to take lessons with her. Of course, I was the worst in the class, and she the second worst. We played together often in the evenings while out husbands sat on the sidelines watching the kiddies. She always won. I seldom even got the ball back over the net. One day, we were playing by ourselves – no husbands about – and I actually won! This upset her so, that she started crying, and made me promise never to tell her husband! Can you believe it? Took the wind out of my sails a bit, I can tell you! So when my cousin Mark said, “Tennis, anyone?” I naturally declined. Reading my mind, he added, “There will be no humiliation in this game.” I was persuaded, and so played for the first time in thirty years, and wearing Croc’s and a sarong! Marc had a huge bucket of balls, which he gently hit over the net to Steven Kekoa or me, and which we frequently retuned – Kekoa, far more frequently than I! It was super fun! The most fun thing I have done in a long time. We were drenched by the time we were done. I suppose I should change the title of this entry to a “dewy day,” since ladies never sweat – rather, they “dew”.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A nutty day

Miranda’s brother Steven Kekoa is a chef and gourmet. Here he is making pancakes with panache. After breakfast, he bought a coconut at the local Farmers’ Market. The gent selling the coconut claims to have been most recently living on Venus. He also has something on his arm which was implanted there when he was captured briefly by aliens. He had he doctor x-ray it, but the x-ray was negative for any abnormalities. The coconut was quite good, despite the vendor’s somewhat checkered history.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A hungry day

No adventures or interesting contretemps today! Once again I am having internet troubles because the wifi of the nearby Sheraton Hotel is stronger than the wimpy internet of our condo. And despite their name, the Sheraton people won’t share. I can’t access it without a password, so I am stuck. I may never stay at a Sheriton Hotel again after this!
Since this seemed to start out as a “What I Had for Dinner” blog, I will stick to the theme and let you know what Popsicle had for lunch today – a yummy millipede and a cockroach. You can see his tongue grabbing the millipede and then his satisfied look as he finishes it up.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An artistic day

Miranda, newly six, is the youngest of my cousin’s children and is quite the artist. Here she is – cuteness personified – and here are a couple of her pictures. Also very cute! She and her brother Kekoa are the owners of the chameleon that you will see if you scroll down a bit. No adventures today. Macaroni and cheese for dinner. Very good! Buster Keaton for a postprandial treat. Brilliant!


Here is a self-portrait. Note the princess tiara and the giant ice cream cone she is about to eat.
Also note some of the finer details, her lovely jewelry – rings, earrings, necklace, but most importantly, the carefully applied lilac eye shadow. This girl is going places!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

An interesting day

This morning we went to Mass at St. Michael’s, the local parish church. Since last year, the church has been damaged in the recent earthquake, and is now condemned until repaired. Normally, it is a fairly unremarkable 1950’s style building with nice windows depicting historic events in the Hawaiian church – such as St. Damian caring for the lepers. For the time being, however, Mass is held outside in a tent. As you can see, the effect was quite charming, and one of the more pleasant Mass ambiences I have experienced. In previous years, we heard the world’s most awful choir. This choir was so bad, that they transcended awful, and rose to something almost wonderful. The voices all seemed as though they might blend if only one person were not there. She had a most distinct Mother Maybelle Carter sound - but this morning only another Mother Maybelle was there to lead the singing. I was sitting there, dully listening to someone drone on, thinking, “This is certainly not St. James!” No ecstatic Bach, no soaring Mozart, no frisky Britten, no brilliant sermons from Father Ryan. Suddenly I was fully alert! There was a little mongoose sitting at the edge of the altar! Now there is something that St. James can’t beat!
If you look carefully, you can see her disappearing behind the post. She was lurking about at Mass for quite a while, but as soon as she saw my camera, she scooted off, only to make several more quick reappearances.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another dull day

Rachael tells me that I have to have pictures, but sadly, I can’t seem to manage to make the pictures small enough to upload. I just have not mastered this Mac. Or maybe I need a special program. So, I don’t have pictures, and I don’t have much to say. We are leading the dull life – crossword puzzles, knitting, reading, swimming and eating. Ecstasy! My thrill of the day yesterday was an allspice tree in my cousin’s yard. There were no berries at this time of the year, but it was full of bright, lively green leaves. I crushed one and it smelled wonderful – all allspicey and fresh. It was genuine aroma therapy. Allspice is one of my favorite spices, and in fact, was the main flavoring of the ugly but delicious pear pie I made several weeds ago. I have a friend who prides herself on cooking everything from scratch and never using ANY shortcuts. She was disapproving when her daughter used concentrated milk (an essential ingredient) when making candy, and bragged to me that she never used allspice, thinking that allspice was a combination like pumpkin pie spice, or Italian Seasoning. I told her that this was not so, but she remained skeptical. Now whenever I use it, I think of her, and, evil person that I am, take a certain malicious joy in it.
This picture is of a wild ginger bush which we saw on a walk last year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An odd day

popcicle the chameleonWell, Hi from Hawaii! The flight, as expected was horrific! Right down to seasickness in the sky. I am just not a good traveler. I had to get up at five in the morning, and consequently, didn’t go to sleep till well after two. So I started the whole adventure on the wrong foot – or at least on a very sleepy foot. And in my excitement, I forgot to eat breakfast, so on a hungry foot as well. Happily, the plane was not full, so I was able to find a three person seat all for myself where I could stretch out and snooze. I have often read in novels – mystery novels mainly- about the heroine waking in the middle of a rough case, when she is on the road after the culprit and not knowing where she is. I have always been a bit skeptical about this since I have never experienced it – no doubt because I always wake up in my own bed. Anyhow, I woke up thinking that I was in my own bed (the opposite of the usual scenario) and had slept through the alarm and missed the plane. I leapt up – or rather, raised my head in alarm, realized that I had not missed the plane at all, and was , in fact, on it, and went back to sleep. Then a short time later, I heard a screech, jerked awake again thinking that we were either being hijacked or that there was a medical emergency and I needed to be the savioress and do CPR. However, when I looked around, all was serene. And speaking of serene, that is what we have been since we got here – knitting, crossword puzzles, eating, watching movies – so I have no pictures of our adventures. Here instead is a picture of my nephew Kekoa’s chameleon. He has a cockroach in his mouth. Oops! I couldn't get the picture to post. And it is so cute. I will continue to try.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The fatal mushroom

The mushroom was not fatal in an Agatha Christie way. It was more Shakespearian. If I had not so adored Rachael, and so wanted to cook her dinner, and had not so lusted after this lovely portabella mushroom, nothing terrible would have happened. I have long heard the witchy voices telling me to “Beware the parking lot of Trader Joseph!” I usually heed this warning and avoid that spot assiduously, walking blocks with huge gallons of milk rather than enter the dread portals. However, late at night when it is not crowded and seems more manageable, I venture in. As I was backing out of my spot, a horrid yellow pole-like thing – short and completely out or my range of vision- leapt out and smashed a dent in my lovely pristine car. I was devastated, as you can imagine.
Then ....... this morning, Rachael called and said not to cook her dinner, as she would have already eaten.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An uncommunicative couple of days

Wow! Our two phones weren’t working, and our internet access was down as well. Rachael and I were cut off from the world. It was awful. At least we had cell phones, or how would we have survived? Our friend Ken, who can fix anything, came and fixed the internet connection and I fiddled with the phones and fixed them a bit. But they still have to be on our Christmas list, as both are a bit funky and have their separate issues. One has only a teensy sound and the other only a teensy battery. So we are reconnected. Sort of. Speaking of which, I am off to Hawaii in a day or two. The last few times we went, my aunts and I were really isolated from news and views – we didn’t get a newspaper, had no computer, didn’t watch the telly or listen to the radio, and phone calls home were looooooong distance. This time, I decided to get a laptop for the trip. I have been wanting one for years, but it always seemed such an extravagance. This trip is the nudge I needed. Now I can spend all day in bed instead of just half of the day. Rebecca said to get a PC, as I would understand how to use it. Rachael said to get a Mac, as it would be cuter. And we could be twins, so to speak. Since I am always hearing from my laptop buying friends about the high infant mortality rates in PC’s, I decided to go with cute. I am a nincompoop when any thing goes wrong with a computer, and am helpless when there is a problem. It was pretty exciting going to the computer store, with Rachael to hold my hand and give support in my hour of anxiety. Spending so much money in one place always makes me a bit ill. But now I don’t know how to use my new toy, (as predicted by Rebecca) and can’t remember the password for our little household WIFI. I sure hope I can figure it all out so I can write in the blog when I am away. Otherwise you won’t be hearing from me for several weeks.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Here is proof that my camera does little macro photos. However, I still don’t know how to do it, because Rebecca set it up on our fun walk to the U District. She was going to show me how she did it when we got to our cafĂ©, but we were so thrilled with our coffee, our tea, our raisin and apple pastries that we forgot about it. I should have taken a picture of my raisin Danish.

For reasons unknown, this flower reminds me of a patient I have had several times. We became more or less intimately acquainted about three months ago when she had an evening of terrible diarrhea. Patients get so upset about needing to be cleaned up, but I tell them that we nurses love it. Some of us – perhaps I should just speak for myself – actually do. It is the one time that a nurse can slow down and really talk to the patient about more than their circulation, their pain, their nausea, or other medical issues. And no one comes in and says, “Joanna, I need you right now!” When you are up to your elbows in poop, no one disturbs you. They find someone else to handle the problem that they wanted to interrupt you for.

Anyhow, several months ago, I cut about four inches off my hair. Not ONE PERSON noticed. Not a family member, not a co-worker, no one in my choir (my fellow altos seem like the most likely to have noticed – altos are an observant and caring group – but even they did not.) I marveled about this and could not understand how it could be, but there you are! Then, I was walking down the hall at work on a recent evening, and a voice called out, “Joanna, Joanna!” I went into the room, and it was Patsy, my patient who had diarrhea, and the first thing she said was, “Why, you cut your hair!” We both laughed when I told her that she was the only one who had ever noticed.

An Italianate day

I had planned for us to prepare Italian dumplings (ricotta gnudi) from a recipe which was in the PI last Sunday. The story said they were exquisite, a totally new gastronomic experience, etc. etc. and they did indeed sound quite yummy. When we got home from the store, Tom looked over the recipe and pointed out that these dumplings took four days to prepare. Obviously I had not read the recipe very carefully, and also obviously, a quick change to Plan B was necessary, except that there was no plan B. I looked through Marcella Hazan for a gnocchi recipe and found one which was not potatoes, but rather spinach, cheese (including the ricotta we had gotten for the other), eggs and a bit of flour. We had the ingredients for these on hand, and they sounded fun to make as well. Marcella said to make them ½ inch each unless that was too tedious, in which case we could make them a bit bigger. We quickly began to see what she meant. They were awfully gooey, and there were an awfully lot of them. When we were done rolling out the teensy pellets, Margaret was enthusiastically helpful in cleaning up our gloppy hands. The gnocchi were well worth the trouble, as they were delicious. Not quite like anything else I have ever had. Even Rachael thought they were tres yummy!

Last week I made a pear pie, but did not show it to you, as while it tasted good – even the crust – it was not too photogenic. In fact, it was pretty ugly! I had four small pears left, which I wanted to have for dessert somehow, but there did not seem to be enough of them to really make much. Pear mush over ice cream would be just the ticket. Tom fried the pears in butter, added some sugar, orange juice and zest, and voila! Tres yummy!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dog's Breakfast

I was wondering what to blog about, when Maria, the youngest and most dainty of the feline vermin, suggested* that I tell about the corner of my shawl, since my blog, after all, is supposed to be a knitting blog. It is just that I so seldom have anything interesting knitted to chat about. This shawl corner will no doubt produce quite a bit of schadenfreude out there in knitter land. I made the center panel of one design in Victorian Lace Today and am adding the border of another. The reason for this is….. I love leaf designs, and the shawl with the most beautiful leaf design had a lovely border that was knitted at the same time as the center panel. I usually take three or four tries to get any new lace pattern going, and if I were working the center panel and the border all at the same time, it would be bound to be a failure, as I would have to get it right the first time. Impossible! It would surely be more of a dog’s breakfast than this corner. I was fairly satisfied with the center panel, and the border only had several areas of “stream of conscious knitting” where I simply could not get the number of stitches to come out right and so improvised. Then, while I grasped the concept of doing the corner, I failed a bit in the execution. I am hoping that the other three corners will be better, and that when I am dancing the night away (hah!), this corner will be inconspicuous.

On a happier note, I figured out how to take close up pictures with my new camera. I tried for years to do it with the old one, and I just never seemed to be able to get it. One morning, shortly before that camera’s demise, I was taking pictures of crocuses (croci?) in my yard, and a family strolled by. The father asked, “Are you using your macro?” “No, I don’t know how,” I sadly replied. “Let me show you,” he said, and he did. With the new camera, the instruction booklet was naturally of no help, but using what he had shown me on the old one, I finally had success.

*Maria often channels suggestions through her mother Rachael. These suggestions usually have to do with ways in which I can make my darling Rachael happier. Or ways in which I can deal effectively with Michael, showing him that Maria is the boss. Her suggestions are often quite witty and practical. As now.