Thursday, April 30, 2009

A funny day

As I told you yesterday, Ana was coming after work to have dinner and watch a movie. We made pizza (sorry, Colin!) which was scrumptious- at least I thought so. I had the crust dough ready, and various toppings prepared, so when Ana got here, we baked the asparagus a la Rebecca, selected the toppings for our half of the pizza, and baked that too.

I had a dessert involving blueberries and tapioca prepared in my mind, but I couldn’t find blueberries, even frozen and the only tapioca I could find was the minute kind – not the kind with the yummy, slightly chewy big fish eyes. Note to Self: ask Rebecca about this. She knows all about tapioca. So I made do with what I had, and it turned out delicious, if not beautiful.
Then we watched the Marx Brothers in “A Night at the Opera,” maybe one of the funniest movies with one of the funniest scenes ever. We both shrieked with laughter, and had tears streaming down. The Seattle Opera is never like this! Thank goodness, I might add.

A More Yummy than Photogenic Orangey Dessert
2 ½ cups of orange juice
½ cup sugar
¼ cup minute tapioca
rind of one small lemon
2 small pears, peeled and diced, and cooked in the microwave till soft *
1 cup of raspberries

Mix up the juice, sugar, lemon rind, and tapioca and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly so that it won’t burn. Add the lemon rind, the pears, and the raspberries and give them a few stirs. Pour it into little serving bowls and chill it for several hours.

*The pears I got were rather tasteless and too firm, so I chopped them and cooked them in the microwave for a minute and a half to see if this improved them, and it did.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A marketing day

Ana was coming to dinner today, and I had, with precision, planned my shopping and cooking out to the minute. I woke up at 0730 ready for action, fed the vermin, took Margaret for her walkies, had a cup or two of tea, did the crossword, and then closed my eyes for a moment. Next thing, it was three hours later and my plan of action was in serious disarray. Hours behind schedule, I scurried to the library and then to my second favorite grocery store, the Promenade Red Apple, which was nearby. I needed tapioca, and I knew that my favorite grocery store wouldn’t have it. My second favorite is fairly near our house, but in the direction we seldom go. While it is within walking distance, it’s far enough, that anything more weighty than a bag of potato chips is too much to carry. So going there is infrequent, and rather a treat. The clientele is largely Mexican, African American, and actual African, and thus they have exotic foods not found in your run of the mill grocery store. There are always unusual vegetables, (I was hoping to show you some cactus, but this seems not to be cactus season) and our favorite section, the Mexican pastries. There is a rather festive atmosphere which I always enjoy, and also some fun memories. One Christmas, Rebecca was making scalloped potatoes to take to our family dinner at my Aunt’s house. She was just starting her preparations when she discovered that they (the potatoes) were nowhere to be found. Frantic, we searched everywhere, pleaded with St. Anthony, but to no avail. So Tom and I were sent on a mission to find potatoes on Christmas Day. Tom was instructed to select the potatoes because Rebecca had no faith in my potato selection capabilities. We drove from store to store, but none were open. Finally, in desperation, we drove to the Red Apple and it was not only open, but it had potatoes. Saved! This last Christmas, my aunt was in Hawaii visiting one of her children, so we had to prepare our own Christmas dinner. Once again, due to my incredible flibbitigibbitiness, the Red Apple saved the day. You can read about that here. Oh, and about the missing potatoes – they turned up several days later in the laundry basket!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A medicinal day

Poor little Margaret has been limping around lately, and I assumed that the origin of her problem was her fingernails, which looked much like this. We have been unenthusiastic about trimming them because the few times we did, we resembled participants in the St. Valentines Day massacre afterwards. The quick was growing out so far that it was impossible to trim the nails without cutting into the it, creating a bloody and painful mess. So this morning Margaret and I took a trip to the vet for a manicure! (Margaret got one. I didn’t.) The vet, not our usual Dr. Heino who was out of town, was brave, and just went for it. She trimmed them a tiny bit at a time, and it became evident that the long quick problem had resolved and the quick had retreated. However, when she looked into Margaret’s mouth, she said “Yuck!” so now Margaret, having done with the manicurist, is scheduled for a trip to the dentist. She was a very brave girl and only writhed a little. When her ordeal was over, she enthusiastically wiggled and wagged to show the vet that she was still a favorite, despite the trim and physical exam. Margaret’s problem was not nails at all, by the way. It was her little hip. So she will be taking doggie ibuprofen and glucosamine.
Here is a picture of another patient getting her picture taken by her family, and a peek into Dr. Heino’s cabinet of trophies removed from doggie tummies. Note the large round brownish ball (about 2.5 inches diameter). It is a bezoar or hairball. Surely it is not from a cat!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A day of mishaps

My aunt was coming to dinner, and I was planning black beans with an orange cooked in them, Brazilian style. I put the pan on the stove to heat, went to get the oil for sautéing the onions, only to find a giant wasp sitting on the lid of the oil container. Dealing with the wasp (we have a “no kill” policy at our house - even for wasps) completely drove the heating pan from my mind. I just came in from letting the wasp go outside when the phone rang. My aunt wanted to know what time she should come. She, being who she is, however, could not just ask what time, but had to do some convoluted conversational dancing around the thing she actually wanted to know. While she was slowly getting to the point, I noticed the pan on the stove, smoking ominously. I said, "Come right now!" and hung up. She moseyed over and I explained about the wasp and the pan. Eventually I got the beans going in the pressure cooker. At that point, I noticed the orange sitting next to the stove, uncut, uncooked. It was too late to add it to the rest of the dish. I was disappointed, but I fear that my aunt was relieved. I cut the orange up and put it in the salad, which she seemed to think was a more appropriate place for it. After dinner, she looked out the window, and quelle horreur! Her car was gone. It had been towed. So much for my early evening with a book. Actually, getting her car out of jail, while expensive, was far less traumatic that I feared it might be. I felt sorry for the man there, having a job which entailed dealing with grumpy people all day - even grumpier than the folks at my job! Oddly, his customers this evening were relatively cheery. There was a cute Hispanic couple – maybe they were cheery because they were in love, and even a towed car could not conquer their joy in one another. There was an attractive young woman paying to get her car out, when a young man came in with a very large bouquet of flowers. It had been his fault that her car had been towed. Even my aunt, who generally grumbles at length about absolutely everything and nothing, took the whole thing in stride. Here she is in front of the Seattle Toe Truck, trying to look appropriately grumpy, but feeling relief that she and her care are reunited.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A delicious day

Last week after we went on our horticultural photographic safari, Rebecca and I had lunch at Cafe Flora. Although it is well known as a wonderful vegetarian restaurant, I had never eaten there, in part because it is rather pricey. I recently read a review of it in a national publication, so my interest was piqued anew, and when Rebecca suggested it as a special treat, I readily acceded. Our lunch was fabulous – even more so than I expected. We had French fried yams for starters, a lovely salad, and a faro dish. Très yummy! Faro is an ancient grain which I had never heard of, but Rebecca knew all about. And here is Rebecca, très cute. I can’t believe that such an adorable person is related to me!

A balletic day

I love going to the opera, but I am a pretty tepid ballet fan. Actually, I think the word “fan” does not even apply. So when my aunt invited me to go to Swan Lake, I muttered something about my straightened circumstances, and I thought about how I could be reading a book. However, she said she had tickets, and all I needed to do was drive us there. Well, of course it was wonderful with all those too skinny ladies leaping about, looking like something from a Busby Berkeley film, but with fabulous music replacing Eddie Cantor. In the Busby productions, the boy gets the girl, and the girl gets the part of the big star, but in this one - yet another tale of male fickleness and infidelity - no one got anything, except the wicked sorcerer who was triumphant in the end. Much more realistic, don’t you think? All in all, it was a fun afternoon, and I was happy that I had not stayed home to read my book. I might even become a fan.
Here is my aunt admiring a costume from The Sleeping Beauty. And me admiring a huge objet d'art in the opera house. (You can't see me because I am on the other side of the camera.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

A lovely Spring Day

Rebecca and I went to the Japanese Tea Garden and found that it was a bit like a bride on her wedding morning as she stumbles out of bed, sleepy eyed but fresh ready to begin a new life. When we return in a few weeks, it will be as though the garden has put on its bridal array. The blossoms and their beauty will be overwhelming. At this time of the year, there is beauty but it is of a subdued sort – the humble flower at the foot of a tree, a turtle on a rock. Look here to see Rebecca’s pictures.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A mutable day

The morning was gloomy and frigid. I decided to brave the elements and walk to the library anyway. The walk is one of my favorites because it is a diagonal route from my house, so there are many possible ways to go. Also, I have no other reason to be walking that way, so the infrequency of the trip makes it more interesting. Undaunted by the cold of the morning, I set off after noon, but in true Seattle fashion, the day had changed its mind and become brightly crisp – a wonder weather - sweaters but no mittens. I usually see exciting things on this trip and I planned to be a travel photo-journalist and document them. I imagined myself presenting you with pictures of a cute dog and a cute cat at the very least. The only dog I saw was an orange pit bull with pink lips, nose and eyelids – most unattractive features in a dog. In any case, I was afraid to take his picture. He probably would have sensed my feelings about pink eyelids, and being a pit bull……. I passed through a park with a playground, where I hoped to take pictures of happy children playing. Unfortunately, their caregivers were angrily trying to stop them from picking the flowers and to round them up to go home. As they herded in one, another would squirm off to the swings, the slide, or the flowerbeds. En route, I also saw some remarkable porch décor and some incredible crocheted curtains. I passed a revolutionary wall, and a wonderful wall of jasmine (or is it clematis?) whose scent was overwhelmingly exquisite. “Jasmine” means “Gift of God,” and it is little wonder it is called this. It is heavenly. When I got to the library, I realized I had forgotten the books I had intended to return. Oh, well, they weren’t quite due, and it was a very pleasant walk.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrexit sicut dixit!

Last evening was the Easter Vigil, a most ancient and wonderful liturgy. It began outside the cathedral with the sacred Easter fire from which the Paschal candle was lit and carried through the cathedral, then quite as dark as the inside of a cow. The choir had to feel its collective way through the blackness to the other end and the choir stalls. Since there are many subtle and not so subtle obstacles on the way, and I have no night vision, this aspect of the evening is always a little terrifying. The cathedral remains lit only by candles for the readings and psalms. All told, the service was over three hours long, but with the wonderful readings, chants, and motets, the time flew by. We got home at nearly midnight, and were back in the morning for two more Masses. What a transition – from the dark of the Vigil to the golden of the Easter morning. And, as we were in the choir, we had guaranteed seats! By the afternoon Easter Vesper service, pictured here, we were beginning to seriously flag. The wonder of this lovely liturgy kept us going. By the evening Mass, however, we were a bouquet of wilted flowers, drooping and pining for our beds. Thanks to Corinna for the photographs of the vesper service.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday

Happily, our Good Friday service was uneventful. The music was beautiful, the homily was heavily accented and quite incomprehensible (so I took a little snooze), the ambiance was reverent, dark, and passionate. All in all, it was very moving, and as usual, brought a few tears to the eyes. Earlier in the day, Samos and I took a walk in the Arboretum. As you can see, Spring has arrived there.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Holy Thursday

Ever since I was a wee lass singing in Sister Justina’s choir, Holy Thursday has been my most favorite holy day and service. Now that I go to St. James, the exquisitely serene and moving Compline Service, which comes later in the evening, has made Holy Thursday even more wonderful. So, I had been looking forward to this evening for weeks, thinking of the calm, the prayerfulness of the coming services. However, the main emotion generated this Holy Thursday was embarrassment. First, my sandal broke in such a way that I could not walk in it without looking like Quasimodo limping about his cathedral. I had to walk in the procession barefoot, and was mortified – thinking that observers might think this was some perversely pious penitential affectation - which, in fact, at least one person did think, as she told me later. She was impressed by my religious fervor. Then, if that were not enough, during the rehearsal for the Compline Service, I suddenly knew that if I didn’t lie down immediately, I would end up on the floor anyway, no doubt in a less delicate manner than if I excused my self and put myself somewhere more private. Not that private, however. My fellow Schola singers were calling 911 when I squeeked out, “No, No! I’m OK!” I was not, but I knew that I would be if I just lay there for a while. Susan, a nurse and one of my fellow Schola singers, and a nurse from the congregation, the Deacon’s wife, were kindness itself. Aren’t nurses wonderful people? I think so. I went to bed directly got home, and now I feel fine.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A blustery day

Well, spring has come and gone. It was two days long. Yesterday was almost too warm, and so, deluded, I dressed in my Spring Frock. However, today there is a chill wind, so I froze in my April attire. After my monthly lunch with my friend Eileen, I walked to Pike Place Market to do some seasonal shopping, i.e., assisting the Osterhäsin in her preparations. On the way, I met some interesting folk. This adorable grey person is named Blossom. She was so soft and sweet, and reminded me that an Irish wolfhound would fit nicely into my family. I’m sure Margaret would like a big sister. While walking about the Market, I kept hearing a rooster, but I thought it must be a mechanical creature
advertising something. Not so. It was real, and it had a wife. The Pike Place musicians were undeterred by the blustery weather, and were in fine form. This group is my favorite. They sing Gospel music and perform in front of the original Starbucks, which you can see a peek of behind them. You can hear them here, but they sound much better in person. In fact, they sound fabulous, and anyone listening to them cannot help but be a little happier.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another beautiful day!

Several years ago, my sister-in-law painted some gourds as gifts for my aunties and me. I had one of them, which seemed to be a potential birdhouse, hanging on my back porch – waiting for an occupant who never came. Until this year, that is. Yesterday, I noticed the gourd swinging a bit, even though there was no breeze, and then I noticed some twigs protruding from its little entryway. Then I noticed swift flit of grey. “Maybe it is a bird,” I thought, “but probably an English sparrow.” I have to admit that I am a speciesist when it comes to birds, and English sparrows, while kind of cute, are low on my list. Common little creatures that they are! Then I noticed that the grey streak had a long beak and a perky tail! A wren! Very high on my list! Maybe even at the top of it. I was thrilled. Now I have to pray that the feline viper Maria doesn’t scare it away. Or worse yet, (quelle horreur) eat it! She has been sitting on the kitchen table staring out the window at it for hours at a time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

Usually on Palm Sunday morning, the choir stands with quivering limbs, blue lips, and sometimes even umbrellas, singing while the congregation, warmly wrapped up in their overcoats, marches by in the procession. Given that it actually was snowing four days ago, I was sure that this would again be the early morning scenario. But what a happy surprise! The day was golden. The sun was caressing and the breezes were balsam for the soul. Here is a picture, taken by Maria, the Cathedral Photographess, of the choir members leading the Palm Sunday procession. I am in the front, and Rachael is a bit behind me. She is the one with the big smile. As you can see, we are happy to be there. On the way home, I saw some delightful dandelions. They (dandelions) are a most misunderstood flower. Not only are they beautiful, but they make delicious wine. They remind me a bit of me! (I don't mean beautiful - just sometimes misunderstood.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

A ceremonial day

Last evening was the Chrism Mass, wherein the sacred oils for the coming year are consecrated and blessed. This is a service with all the ecclesiastical bells and whistles, literally, and I always look forward to it with mixed emotions. I know in advance that I will be excited and filled with religious fervor at the beginning of it, and by the end of it, will be wanting to die. Last night was no exception. Usually, on Thursdays I get a nice cup of tea at Starbucks between the Family Kitchen and choir practice, and this keeps me awake for the evening. However on Chrism Mass day, there is no time in between. In the past, Rebecca and I have carefully planned for this contingency, and brought our tea equipment so we can make a quick cuppa in the Family Kitchen. Since the ever-prepared Rebecca was not going to the Mass, and I didn’t think about it, I didn’t get my usual dinnertime caffeine, and in fact, hadn’t even had my usual afternoon fix. Soooo, the last third of the Mass was a bit of a fog. I perked up whenever we had to sing, and slipped back into near oblivion for the prayers in between. Rather like Penrod at church.
While waiting with our bells in the sacristy beforehand – waiting for the procession to start, there was a thrilling chaos -- swarm of white garbed priestly people, and bishops as well. The archbishop had us lift his new crosier, and it was indeed very heavy. Modeled to match the Cathedral Ceremonial Bronze Doors, it was a handful. The three bishops had to go out into the teeming rain so that they could be met at the ceremonial doors by procession (and most prominently, the bell ringing octet), and thus ceremoniously enter the Cathedral. They left the sacristy looking très chic with huge color coordinated umbrellas to keep their mitres dry.
As I said, there were bells and whistles. Pictured is a whistle, courtesy of my friend Maria, and I was part of the bells.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Busy day dinner

I was having Suzanne and my auntie for lunch today, and I had a plan. I would shop on Tuesday before work, get up early today, and clean and cook. Monday evening at work, however, was gruesome and I didn’t get home till nearly 1 a.m. I woke up in a fog, very late, and was good for nothing. I could barely rouse enough energy to go back to work. I did manage that, but not shopping. So this morning, I was planing to get up early, shop, and forget cleaning. I woke up, looked at the clock and it said eight-thirty. “Good”, I thought. “Plenty of time.” I looked at it again seemingly thirty seconds later, and it said ten-thirty. I struggled from the arms of Morpheus, had some tea and read the paper. I cannot begin the day without these two rituals, no matter how late I am. I looked out the window, and it was snowing! I could not believe it. Oh well! God’s little joke for April Fools day. My menu was a spring dinner (so much for spring – when it’s snowing) with several easy dishes, but I was forgetting that several easy dishes add up. Suzanne was to arrive at two. “Not to worry. She is always late,” I told my aunt, as I flew about the kitchen. Meanwhile, “I am always late,” thought Suzanne. “I’ll make a special effort today!” So she was only a tiny bit late. I was an hour late. Not too bad really, given the circumstances. I had planned to demonstrate pressure cooking to her as I made Pope’s Risotto, which is quick and easy in a pressure cooker - no standing and stirring for half an hour. I did, she was impressed and vowed to finally use the cooker she inherited from Tom. I also made my special “soup in one minute.” Here is its recipe – and it really is about one minute as you can see, and très yummy! This and some nice New York Times bread would make a nice supper.
1½ cups of chopped potatoes, boiled till fork tender,
One carrot, cut up into chunks,
¼ cup of parsley,
1 ½ inch of a leek or 4 inches of a green onion, chopped into little pieces
3T tomato paste,
1 tsp salt, pepper,
3 cups of boiling water.
In your food processer, whirl the vegetables and then add the potatoes and whirl them. Whirl in the tomato paste, add the salt and pepper, whirl, add two cups of boiling water, whirl. Add more water if you wish. It is really good and tastes like you slaved over a hot stove for hours.
Rachael had been to our favorite grocery store for cereal and cookies, and left the bag hanging on a kitchen chair. I peeked into the bag and was horrified to see this thing in it. “What is it?” I gasped. “I don’t know, but it is nicely creepy,” she said.