Monday, June 30, 2008

A sunny, lazy day

I planned to get up early and go dig in the garden preparatory to planting beans – and I did get up early – relatively, for me, I mean. However, I was still in bed but awake with my cup of tea and the newspaper, when Rebecca called and said, “Let’s walk to Chinatown. I need a pestle.” You know that I can deny my girl nothing, not to mention that it seemed like a more fun thing than digging in the hot sun, so of course I agreed. On the way we passed some lovely poppies and cornflowers (much more beautiful than this picture indicates). We stopped in at the Viet Wah – a funky pan-Asian grocery store where some time ago I got the CookJoy I showed you at that time. There is always something there that I never knew existed, but realize that I desperately needs as soon as I see it. In this case, it was a ceramic serving dish with fish on it, which would have been perfect for the Pope’s Risotto (see below). Then I remembered that last year, some time before Christmas, I had purchased a lovely flowered serving platter – metal, inexpensive, beautiful – and when I showed it to Rebecca, she was suffused with desire and envy. Naturally then, being able to deny her nothing (see above), I gave it to her for Christmas. It was a cruel wrench, I can tell you. So today, I said, “Let’s go and see if they still have those tin plates.” They didn’t. My heart was sore. But then, I looked up, and, mirabile dictu, there at the very top of a stack of shelves and at the top of a stack of pots and pans was one plate like thing, the bottom of which seemed like it might be my very plate. However, there was no way to get at it. Rebecca boldly said, “I can climb up the shelves.” And she did, just like a monkey. It was indeed my coveted plate. I was thrilled. Rebecca was pleased with her pestle too, but not as happy as I was!

Still a hot day

I finished my Musk ox scarf, and am really pleased with it. Here it is, modeled by Ana, whose gift the scrumptious yarn was. Wearing it is like having a puff of warm furry cloud keeping your neck comfy. The yarn is known to be the warmest ever – reasonable, given the intemperate climate where these fellows live.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A hot, hot day

AAAAAAK! The weather is horrifying! It is in the 90’s, I am sure. It’s “lie in the house with one’s tongue hanging out, gasping for air” weather. Nonetheless, Ana and I braved the heat and prepared a lovely, colorful, and tasty dinner. I had been wanting to make the “Pope’s Risotto” for quite some time, but not a one of the folks I usually cook for cares much for risotto. I personally think risotto is one of God’s gifts to the world. That is not, however, why it is called Pope’s Risotto. Rather, when the pope came to New York, someone served this dish to him in his posh Papal Nuncio digs. It was not only yummy, but was an amazing color. The picture in the New York Times looked more like risotto ordinaire, and was not green at all. Having seen that photo, I was astounded when mine turned such a fabulous hue. I wondered if I had done something wrong to make it so green, but I suspect that the picture accompanying the article was not the real thing. Since I had moral support from Ana, I was brave and made it in my pressure cooker, so heating up the kitchen was not really an issue. It cooked in 5 minutes rather than 20. The recipe called for ramp leaves, and that was a little arcane for me, so I used green onions - in fact, I used green onions to replace the ramp, the leeks, and the scallions. I am not a fussbudget gourmet. Ana created a salad of great tomatoes, basil from my very own garden, and mozzarella from a farmer’s market, made from the milk of local cows. Then we made strawberry ice cream for dessert! Waaay yummy! And a perfect hot weather meal.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A rather piggy day

Alas, my usual story. I had lots to do, and somehow the day oozed away without me doing any of my planned jobs. Rachael was ill, and wanted to go out to lunch and have Vietnamese food. Of course, I can deny her very little, so we went, and I had my favorite - tofu tomahto. (Tofu in tomato sauce with rice ). Très yummy! When we got home it was nearly time to go to the Family Kitchen and feed the hungry. Usually one of the hungry is me, and when I arrive, I select a dessert to put aside for later when I am doing the dishes. This evening there was a cheesecake with chocolate swirls. I hid a piece in a nook near my dishwashing station. They were serving roasted purple potatoes with rosemary, and this looked much better than chocolate swirls, so midway through the serving, I returned my dessert to the dessert trays, and got a few of the pulchritudinous purple potatoes. This turned out to have been a wise decision, given the subsequent evening. Rebecca and I had a date to go for ice cream cones, and when the woman asked if we wanted small or large scoops, we both naturally said, “Large!” What she should have asked us was, whether we wanted “normal, or super humungous” scoops. These scoops were LARGE. Nonetheless, we managed to eat them. Then we went to Rebecca’s house to sample the lovely cupcakes she had made for a meeting at her job. Are they not beautiful? They were equally delicious. And vegan and gluten free to boot! (Usually a not so delicious combination in the realm of cup and other cakes!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A fun, fun day

Once again, I had a huge list of tasks facing me. I had either been sick or working for the last four days, and things had piled up. My saintly aunt had wanted me to cut her toenails, and I told her I had SO MUCH TO DO that it would have to be a quick job. She agreed, and was set to come at about two o’clock after an appointment that she had. Then, this morning, I was just drifting awake after a gruesome time at work the evening before, when my phone rang. “Let’s go for a walk!” Rebecca said. It was tempting, but I said I had too much to do. “You need the exercise,” she cajoled. I really did have a ton to do, but I hadn’t seen my girl for ages (she had been working TEN days in a row, making my work issues pretty pale.) "I have to cut Dakki's toenails," I said. “You can do it later. We can have tea somewhere,” she further tempted me. I was not hard to convince, but what to tell my aunt, when I had been too busy to cut her toenails????? Well, I just told her the truth, and she took it quite well. Plus, one of my tasks was to return my library books, so I really did need to go on this walk. We had a lovely tea, and worked on our knitting – hers is Petra’s Stulpen pattern, and mine a made up by me sock pattern. Look at how nicely our knitting matches the tea! Actually, we traded teas to match our knitting, but then traded back so as to drink our own favorites. We walked through the park – two parks, in fact - and met a goodly number of cute dogs. All in all, I had a wonderful time, and when I got home, I did cut my aunt’s toenails. I won’t show you a picture of them, however!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A fauna vs flora sort of day

These pictures are of embryonic fruit which will never reach adulthood. Rebecca has planted many such edibles in our garden –trees, bushes, and creeping things like strawberries. Throughout the years, these are inevitably consumed by voracious beasts of prey, and we never taste a one. The birds eat every cherry from our huge cherry tree. I don’t think any of us has gotten a single cherry. Last year the squirrels took a bite out of each apricot – and then decided they were not yet ripe, and so left the mutilated cots for us. However, who wants to eat an apricot that has had squirrel lips on it! The quinces met the same fate—squirrel lips. I believe that Rebecca ignored the lip marks and made jam of some quinces anyway, on the premise that squirrel lip molecules would be done away with during the intense cooking process required by jam. The only ones we ever even taste at all are the strawberries, and they are quite yummy. However, last year when Rebecca was gardening, she took Margaret out with her, and put her on a long lead so that she could frolic in the garden while Rebecca worked. When Rebecca turned around to see what Margaret was up to, the little glutton had eaten up the entire strawberry crop. Single pawed! This year I will be vigilant, but Margaret knows they are there, and strains to get at them every time we go out. She usually out-maneuvers me whenever she is really intent on something, and I fear that she is intent on strawberries.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A thrifty day

My auntie came for lunch today, and seemed determined to stay and stay the whole day, although I told her I had a lot of work to do this afternoon. I decided to entertain her by cleaning the refrigerator. This was one of the little jobs I had planned for today, and one I could do while she was there, thus killing three birds with one stone (a not very vegetarian sentiment) – entertaining my auntie, having pleasant company while cleaning the refrigerator, and not feeling resentful about not getting my tasks done because my aunt would not go home. I expected to find a huge number of horrifying food items which had taken on a life of their own, but there were only three or four. The surprising thing was all this mustard. My friend Tom had recently cleaned his refrigerator and found that he was seriously over-stocked in the mustard department. Knowing that I am an inveterate mustardophile, he brought me his extra. That only accounts for three of them, however. I guess I worry about the potential catastrophe of running out of mustard, and buy more when I don’t quite need it yet. While I was cleaning, I lamented to my aunt that I did not have a single interesting thing happening that I could write about in this blog. “Write about the mustard!” she said. “That's not even slightly interesting,” I replied. “Yes, it's really interesting,” she insisted. Actually, it is the most interesting thing in the last several days. You can tell from this that life has been pretty humdrum.
Oh! I did another task while she was visiting and brushed Margaret, getting out much of her winter coat. Dakki distracted Margaret with treats while I worked on her. She looks like a different dog. Rebecca used to thin her hair by hand as she and Margaret went on walks, and wherever I walked in the neighborhood, I saw little bits of Margaret by the wayside. I used a special plucking instrument (sounds like a harpsichord) for most of the job, and finished off by hand on Margaret’s evening walk. So there are still Margaret remnants on the sidewalks of Seattle.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A somewhat successful day

My pal Ana brought me a skein of Quiviuk musk ox yarn from Stitches West. What a fabulous present! It is the softest thing you can imagine, and according to its literature, eight times as warm as regular wool. I can believe it! I was torn about what to make with it, as whatever it was, had to be super special. A scarf seemed the obvious answer, but what scarf? I planned to start it in Hawaii when I had tons of spare time, so I took it and my Barbara Walker lace patterns book and had heady hopes and ideas. Several knitters had posted a shawl which I greatly admired and wanted to emulate. The Diamond Mesh pattern in BW's Lace Knitting seemed to be just the ticket. I started the scarf and actually got about six inches done, but this design was not very fun to knit. It required a lot of concentration, constant reference to the pattern, and pretty much needed to be done while everyone else was asleep - a rather limiting limitation. Also, I decided that it was taking up too yarn. This may have been a rationale in order to avoid an admission of defeat. I have long admired the Myrtle Leaf Shawl in VLT, and so next I decided to make my scarf with a couple of repeats of that. Somehow, I could not get that pattern to work out. I realized that there are errors in the book, but even using the errata page, I could not get it to work. I am not a very experienced lace knitter, and this one had knit togethers and yarn over’s on both the front and back, and was too much for me. A day or two ago, I had another go – this time from the center panel of one the rectangular shawls in VLT. This one is easy, only requiring a glance at the instructions at the start of each knit row. I am hopeful that now finally I will have success with my lovely yak yarn.
PS. I teased Ana by calling it yak yarn, then gnu yarn, then caribou yarn, and each time, Ana would patiently explain that it was musk ox yarn. Now it is yak yarn in my head. I like the way "yak yarn" sounds, and also I have an affinity for yaks despite the fact that I have never yet met a yak.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A sunny day - finally

Spiritually, summer is here. Memorial Day has come and gone, school is out, we feel done with winter and ready for something else. In reality however, the weather gods have been thinking otherwise. There have been gusty winds, blowing rains and rains and rains, and cold, cold days! Even I, a winter creature who dreads the end of spring and rejoices in the first red leaves of autumn, am a bit tired of it. On Thursday, I had a lunch date, and was not really looking forward to venturing out into the blustery weather. Additionally, I had to go to the Post Office (Grrrrrr!) and mail the package I had been going to mail a week ago – well, maybe more like a month ago. I stepped out, and the weather was resplendent. There was a glow on everything – even the post office. The woman who helped me was so charming and pleasant that she really made my day. Having the package finally mailed after a month of procrastination made my day even further. As the Post Office was in the neighborhood (sort of) of the Pike Place Market, I ambled down there to experience the feast that the Market is. Beautiful in so many ways, color, people, flowers, exotic and not so exotic sights and smells - so much to touch, taste, and admire. One of my usual stops is the Mexican grocery store where I often get Rachael and me a treat – coconut tricolor candy for her and milk candy for me. This time I got a sweet potato candy as well, and it was très yummy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A day of lovely things

Today Becca, Ana, and I went on a round of shopping to several grocery stores (three!) and to the flower store. We didn’t have any real adventures, besides meeting this utterly adorable puppy. She was soft, fluffy, loving and playful. Much like Margaret!. She didn’t have a name yet, and her mistress was casting about for ideas. She had a name in mind which sounded like a cross between a Hindu goddess or a breakfast cereal, and which was definitely not the ideal name for this doggie. I suggested “Joanna” as the perfect name for this perfect little puppy, but her mum didn’t seem taken with the idea. She is a poodle and Cavalier King Charles mix, and I opined that this seemed to be a very felicitous combination. Ah! The perfect name! Felicity! Her mother said, “Come, Felicity,” and Felicity came. “Look, she responds to it!” Well, of course she did. It is the most felicitous name for her. Afterwards, we refreshed ourselves with this lovely flowering tea which Ana brought as a special treat. I have had flowering teas before, but this one was beyond beautiful. It was rather a miracle. So here it is for you to enjoy too, although not quite as much as we did, I’m sure.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A satisfying day

Here is the shawl I have been working on forever, or so it seems. It is knit from Indie ii, a blend of Silk and Cashmere. As you might imagine, it is super soft and très luxurious. I made the body from “Alpine Knit Scarf”, and the border from one of the “Large Rectangles.” Both designs are from Victorian Lace Today. When I purchased the yarn, I had planned to make the “Curved Shawl with Diamond Edging,” but after several tortuous repeats, I could not grasp the pattern, and hence it was not fun to knit.
This is the first big lace thing I have made, and I was quite excited to finally finish and block it. Now, I just need go to Value Village and find something to wear it with, and then to find somewhere to wear it to.
The yarn, by the way, is a Littleknits exclusive. They specialize in lace yarn, the prices are reasonable, and the service very good. Do I sound like an advert? I’m not really, but I do recommend it.

A bridish day

Rebecca used to get a cooking magazine, our favorite part of which was the column were folks noted terrible cooking faux pas they had made as young brides. We read this with glee every month, and inevitably commented that WE would never do anything that stupid, and, “Did their mothers teach them nothing?” Well, I have not been a young bride for about forty years, but my dinner last evening would have qualified for that column. My intended menu was curried pumpkin soup, a rice dish, asparagas, salad and bread. At the store, as Tom and I were looking for the canned pumpkin, I said, “Now, we have to be really careful to get canned just-pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie filling.” Artichoke hearts were supposed to be a part of the rice, but they were outrageously expensive, so I decided to leave them out. The rice was a minor part of the whole thing anyway, and I was only making it because Rachael is unenthusiastic about soup. We got home, and I started cooking. Rachael came down and said, “Yummy! Are you making pumpkin pie?” I told her that no, I was making pumpkin soup. She looked a bit skeptical. I got the soup underway, tasted it for seasoning, and was aghast! I looked more closely at the can, and guess what it was! Not just-pumpkin. Quite discouraged, I got ready to remove the rice from the rice cooker, and prepare it with its herbs and vegetables. To my horror, rather than the fluffiness I expected, the rice was dry and hard. Rachael had wanted brown rice, and I have never mastered cooking it in the rice cooker. Yet another failure. The dressing I made for the asparagus was watery and didn't stick to the asparagus at all. It was late and I was so shattered by this time, that I didn’t have the spirit to bother with the salad. The bread, at least, was yummier than what one would expect from a new bride. Actually, I thought the soup was rather tasty too, although no one else seemed to be gobbling it up.

Naturally, in my undone state, I didn’t photograph this disaster, so here is a fellow who looks dressed up for a visit with the new bride at her first dinner party. Rebecca snapped him in the park near her apartment.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A very chilly June day - good for new socks!

These socks are fraternal twins in that the “back seam” of each is different. I made a sort of cross stitch design on the first, and checkered pattern to match the heels on the second. I thought it would be an improvement, but now am not sure which I like better. The yarns used are Noro Sock yarn and Kauni, both rather thin yarns. I had gotten a set of ebony Lantern Moon needles in my Easter basket several years ago, and had not used them until now. They are lovely, and I felt and admired them frequently, but until this pair of socks, they didn’t seem like the best choice. At the very end of the first sock, one of the needles developed a sliver which made it impossible to slide the yarn along the needle, so I switched to some bamboo needles in the same size. I knitted the tops of the second pair with the bamboo, and the gauge was way tighter. I mean waaaaay tighter. I didn’t notice till I had done the whole edging and the little braided border, so I was a trifle upset. I switched to grey metal needles in the same size and the problem was solved. I didn’t redo the top and this was a mistake, as when I initially tried them on, the one seemed quite tight at the top, giving me a good dose of anxiety. However blocking made it all better.
Rebecca, who had been the Easter Bunny, said I should call the Lantern Moon company, which I did. They said the sliver was probably caused by a flaw in the wood, and immediately sent two replacement needles.

A crummy day

I have been sick all week, and not done a thing except lie about and whine. Today I was feeling a bit better, so I determined to do three little projects done. Unfortunately, these all involved going to out of the house, and that involved getting dressed, and that was more than I could face. Pajamas are so comfy and comforting!
The tasks were all simple in the extreme.
• I have had a present for a friend sitting on my work table for about a month, waiting for me to stop procrastinating and mail it. I was determined to do that today, but mailing it involved going to the post office, and that involved getting dressed. So forget it.
• I have finished a pair of socks, and I planned to make a sock blocker as cleverly shown here, and then block the socks. This involved cutting a plastic placemat into the desired shape. Brilliant! But I don’t have any plastic placemats, and in order to get one, I would have to get dressed. So forget it.
• I also needed to return my library materials, but here again, it was necessary to get dressed in order to go to the library.
All pretty discouraging, n’est pas?
It was indeed really discouraging! So I made a sock blocker out of some Styrofoam poster board that I had on hand, and it worked quite well. The socks are drying now. I got the packages all ready to take to the post office, which was at least half of the task. I renewed my very-soon-to-be-overdue library books online. And, I managed to stay in my jammies all day.
My newly completed socks, which I was going to show you, are all wet, so here is the first half of my current mindless knitting project. I thought to make a pair of socks for the Knitters contest, but they are insufficiently cute, so I have abandoned that idea. They are knitted with Jitterbug yarn, which is much thicker than I usually use for socks, but Rebecca, who will be wearing them, selected the yarn. She has another pair knitted from Jitterbug, and she likes them very well.

Monday, June 2, 2008


My friend SaRi tagged me to do this meme. (What actually is a meme?) I never have done one, but I enjoy the ones done by others.

Rules * Answer at least three of the questions. Yes, I know a few look time-consuming and there are several of them. That's why I only ask for three. See? I'm nice! * Post them and the rules on your blog, and please link back to me here. Pretty please *^_^* ? * Comment here telling me and the rest of our little party where you're at and link to yourself. That's all! * Oh yeah, don't forget to tag others!

What's the last book you read that you thought was really super, inspiring, you'd recommend it to most anyone?
Chimananda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun. I’m reading it now, and it is really good. Other than that, I have mostly been reading trashy novels lately. I am about to reread "The Mill on the Floss," and that is one of my favorites ever.

What food totally grosses you out, you'd never be able to touch it?
I’m a vegetarian, so any carrion flesh would qualify. Of the things I’m more likely to confront, definitely Lima beans!

Did you ever watch a scary movie that frightened you so much you were afraid of the dark afterward? I mean like you're lying in bed trying to sleep, but you have to pee, but you're scared to get up. It doesn't have to be recently; could be when you were a kid. So what movie was it?
The Wizard of Oz scared me pretty badly when I was a wee one. More recently, I had to leave Repulsion because I was so frightened.

Is there a song that makes you dance every time you hear it? Would you tap your feet and sing along to it in public?
Wir eilen mit schwachen doch emisgen Schritten” from Bach’s Cantata “Jesu, der du meine Seele.” Click here to hear it. Probably the only time I would hear this in public would be at a concert, and I definitely would not sing along. I would be ousted. I do, however, sing along in my car. The other day, I was fetching Tom and we were trapped in a terrible baseball game traffic jam. It was hot, and nothing was moving. We were both hungry, tired, frustrated and gererally sad. This wonderful duet came on and I said, ”This will make us feel better!” And it did.

Tattoos: yes or no? Do you have any? Tell us! Do you think they're gross? TELL US!
Ugh! No Way!

When's the last time you laughed so hard your ribs ached and/or you nearly peed yourself? What made you do it?
When singing “Ring of Fire” with Rebecca. That is not the last time, as it was quite a while ago, but it is what comes to mind. “Why”, you ask? Well, it’s too long to tell.

Draw or doodle a picture of your pet(s) and post it if possible. Nothing fancy, don't be shy.

Do you still sleep with a stuffed animal? We won't laugh!
I don't need a stuffed animal, as I have those two live ones to cuddle at night.

There! That is, no doubt, more than you ever wanted to know.

The only one I know with a blog is Sabine, who tagged me, so I will tag Petra whose blog I read.