Sunday, May 31, 2009

A festive day

Well, we are back! My parameters for trips include never being gone for Pentecost – one of my favorite church festivals – I suppose one can call it a festival, as it seems way beyond just a Holy Day ordinaire. The Pentecost music at St James is always special in a sometimes weirdly wonderful way, and today was no exception. We sang the familiar chants in a very traditional manner, but the accompaniment was very exotic and very onomatopoetic – if one can apply that concept to music. While singing about a Mighty Wind, all about us a wind was whispering and whirling, swelling and fading – seemingly coming from nowhere to encompass us in its power. I had not been at the rehearsal, so I was unprepared for the organ and synthesizer music swirling about us. We sing the Mass of Angels ‘Gloria’ all the time. I could sing it in my sleep, and probably do sometimes. We were singing it as usual, and suddenly behind me were all sorts of jerks, squeaks and fabulous dissonances. I was so taken by the accompaniment that I had a hard time concentrating on singing the song.
Pictured is the giant “tongue of fire” hanging over the altar from the oculus. You can see another view of it on Corinna’s blog.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A contrasty day

A trip to the Kailua Kona Library led me on another trip down memory lane to the libraries in the small college town where I lived while married. There were two libraries, the city library and the county library. The city library was a lovely Carnegie building and was run by a formidable group of termagants who made it patently obvious that they resented the scum we were without doubt getting on their books. And they had a ready basilisk glare for anyone who had the nerve to try to check one out. The county library was as a sunny day to this grim night. The library itself was a not very large room in a building of county offices, and the collection of books, while small, seemed to be perfect. And those ladies wanted you to look at and check out their books. One librarian in particular, Robbie, noted my taste in books, and would frequently order books for me, either for library purchase or as an inter-library loan. Once she came up to me and said, “I ordered ‘Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex…’ I know you don’t want it, but I just needed a name. Just don’t check it out when it comes.” I was horrified. For the next several weeks, I dreaded every trip to the library, fearing the horrible book would come. It didn’t come. I relaxed and forgot about it (sort of). Then one Saturday, I was on my way to visit my mother and stopped in the library to pick up my books. There was an ancient librarian on duty that day. “You have another book, dear,” she said as she handed me the volume. I was appalled. Rather than fuss, I checked it out and quickly left.
When I arrived at my mother’s, I said, “I got a book for you at the library.” I gave it to her and she avidly opened it up to peruse, but her face fell immediately. “What’s the matter?” I asked her. “Did you put this place marker here on purpose?” she asked me, looking a little crestfallen. It was at the chapter entitled “Sex in the Autumn Years.” I told her that I had stuck it in by accident, and then the whole story. We both laughed at my silliness.
You probably have two questions. What does all this have to do with the library visit today? The answer is in the spectrum of library staff. I leave you to guess which is which. And the answer to your second question – I have no idea why I was so embarrassed to get this book. Just youthful nuttiness, I suppose.
Addendum: Lynette, the most pleasant of library ladies, is making letters for an upcoming display. The R is an Elvis letter. She also made a brilliant chicken which unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A disasterous day

A day of disasterlets! The big disaster – fleas! My Aunt Dakki is a tough old bird, and the fleas seem instinctively to know this, and so have been leaving her alone. Aunt Pauline and I, however, are evidently delectable. (See photo of Pauline's ankle below.) I have been forced to stoop to the use of Flea Spray! Yuck! The first time I did it, the little devils were unaffected, so yesterday I did it again, more thoroughly and concentrating on my favorite spot, the sofa, which seemed to be their command center. So far, so good. I haven’t seen one, nor do I have any new bites, but in situations like this, one’s ankles become hypersensitive and paranoid, so I keep thinking one is there.
The other disasterlet – I am out of library materials. I brought a bunch of 19th century German literature with me, thinking that in the quiet it would be just the ticket, but it is not the ticket at all. I had purchased one of my favorite Schiller plays and several other books specially for this trip, and then put them in an out of the way place, and of course, forgot them. The ones I brought are way too intellectual. There are times in life when trashy literature is requisite, and this is one of them. We are going to the library after breakfast, so all will be well then. I hope all will be well with our little long legged, unwinged enemies as well.
Yesterday evening, we went to Steven Kekoa’s class play, a musical revue showcasing famous scientists and important discoveries. The first picture is Kekoa looking a little disengaged, and the others are the class singing one of the many great science numbers – perhaps “Liquid, Solid, GAS!!” which seemed to be the hit of the evening. You can see Einstein in his signature hairdo in front. Kekoa played “Amazing Boy,” an apt role for him.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A hot day

Life on the lanai has been very laid back. So laid back that there is little to report to you. The main event is usually dinner. Yesterday Mark grilled hamburgers for the omnivores and I had Harriet the Spy’s favorite lunch. (One of my favorites too.) He also brought corn on the cob to grill along with the meat, but quickly found that our ill equipped kitchen had no tin foil. What to do? Grill it in its husks. But the ends were already cut off. Would it still work? Quick. Call the expert. Rebecca said it probably would be OK. Michelle suggested that we get a recipe she had recently seen on a cooking show, so we Googled and found it. The recipe told us to soak the corn, husks and all for thirty minutes. We decided that this would help counteract the cut off ends, too. The result was wonderful. Here is adorable Chef Mark about to savor the results.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A watery day

One of my happyist youthful memories is of kayaking on Lake Almanor during a visit to a friend’s house. It was a misty wintery November early morning, and I was out on the lake all alone – really alone - in a place utterly serene and crisply defined (despite the mist). One of life’s indelible moments.
From our lanai, we can watch kayakers in the little cove below us, and noting my envy, my cousin Mark suggested that we rent one and paddle about on the ocean. This time, it was not serene, nor was one alone – for which I was grateful. It was actually a little scary with those waves crashing on the rocks quite close by. I thought of the coast of Cornwall and the wreckers waiting in the caves. Although not a serene mystic moment, it was a lot of fun. Mark had his cell phone and when we got near our condo, he called his mom who came out onto the lanai and took our picture. As I was pulling our craft onto shore, a big wave came by, pushing the kayak forward with a sudden whoosh, nearly recreating a scene from the Buster Keaton movie we had watched the evening before, and plopping me suddenly onto my bottom (see picture.) We parked the kayak in a safe place on the beach below, and Mark left to do some business, after which we planned to paddle back to the rental place. An hour later, I looked out the window and the kayak was gone! I looked again, and saw that it had slid down the rocks, was now parallel with the water, with the waves lapping at its prow. I scurried down, scampering as best I could scamper over the slippery rocks to rescue our craft. Just in time, and in the heat of the noonday sun, I tugged it up away from the greedy waves. Later, with Kekoa as coxswain, we paddled about past the treacherous rocks some more and then, tired and dirty, but happy, returned the craft to its owner.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A sporty day

A Little League game! From what have we read in newspapers about the behavior of parents at these events, it seems that they often become wild beasts. With misgivings, I went with the family to the final game of Steven Kekoa’s season. He had broken his arm at a previous game, and has just been, as he says, “released” to play. So he was necessarily excited. I was not excited about witnessing potential parental rage. However, probably because this is Hawaii, the event was serene, and the object actually seemed to be to have fun, which, as I have been led to believe, is a thing of the past at most Little League games. Everyone was friendly and polite, even to cheering for accomplishments of the opposing team. After the game, there was a potluck with lots of Filipino and Hawaiian food. It was a very enjoyable evening – a happy surprise for me, as I am not usually a sports aficionado. At least I understand what the rules are in baseball, as I spent many miserable hours in high school PE classes slinking off to the sides trying to avoid play as much as possible, and being sneered at (along with my fellow despised maladroits) by a few viperfish classmates. Most other sports are a total mystery to me, and will, I am sure, remain so to the end of my days.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A challenging day

Once I learned to knit, I was only interested in knitting sweaters for myself, my mother and father, Rebecca, and my then husband (who learned to knit with me, by watching EZ on public television), and when we all were sweatered out, for my friends. Finally, just too many sweaters and too expensive! So I learned to do Fairisle thinking that it would take me longer to turn one out. Still too many sweaters. I started making socks – Rebecca’s sock drawer is overflowing – gloves, and now lace scarves and shawls, to really slow me down. So it has been a long time since I knitted a sweater. However, I decided that I needed a new one, and one with very specific parameters. I wanted it to be very warm but not heavy – therefore Aran. I wanted it to be shortish so that I could wear it under my jacket without it hanging below the jacket hem like the ones I have now do. This is actually the primary parameter and the reason I need a new one. And it had to have pockets for my hankie. Also, my favorite Aran pattern is the honeycomb, so I wanted it to have that. I have not made an Aran according to a pattern since the first couple which I knit for Becca when she was a tot. So the real problem giving me pause was not finding a design, but how much yarn to get, especially since the honeycomb is a real yarn gobbler. A few weeks ago, I was leafing through a file folder I have of small knitting booklets and articles saved from magazines, when, mirabile dictu, the very sweater was looking up at me. I decided to bring its makings with me on this trip and see if I could come home with a finished sweater. Possible, but not likely. A challenge of sorts though.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An accomplished day

I have learned several valuable things recently, and I view them as accomplishments. The last time I was here, my cousin Mark, when driving us about, effortlessly whipped, tail first, into the all the parking spaces. I was in awe. I could only go in head first (and that with trepidation at times), but I vowed to remedy this. I tried to do it in the parking spot near our condo, with my Aunt Dakki standing by, saying, “A little to the right, straight back, a little to the left. Oops, you had better pull out and start over!” It was discouraging. Even more than discouraging, as once I nudged a stone wall which was quite a distance from the parking spot. Then during the year I practiced at the Cathedral. When I arrive for Family Kitchen and choir practice, the lot is usually pretty empty, so it is not a danger to my bumper -- or, more importantly, other people’s bumpers, to try. This year, I whisked right into the parking slot. Well, maybe “whisk” is an exaggeration. Not like my cousin Mark does, and not without misgivings, but I got in fairly competently in one try, at least.
I mentioned in a previous post that I had never peeled a pineapple, and didn’t know how to do it – which I have considered a serious lack in my list of accomplishments. Yesterday I purchased a pineapple to prepare for our dinner, but when confronted with its tough skin, and many bumps and ridges, I was flummoxed. I called Rebecca, who gave me explicit directions, and as you can see, I triumphed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A culinary day

Pizza for dinner! What a good idea. I had the dough rising and the ingredients assembled when my cousin Mark arrived. He seemed awfully knowledgeable about pizza, throwing out specialized pizza terms which I had never heard and I’ll bet even Rebecca had never heard – and she has heard of everything. It turns out that he now has a job in a pizza parlor to supplement his massage therapist income. Well, maybe pizza isn’t such a treat for him, I thought sadly. But he took over, expertly doing what one does to pizza dough, helping prepare the various toppings, and assembling the final product. Then we discovered that there was no cookie sheet, so we had to make do with a broiler pan. But it worked well, we enjoyed ourselves, and everyone seemed to enjoy the results. Oh, I mean everyone except for my aunt Dakki, who doesn’t like mushrooms, doesn’t like bell peppers, doesn’t like pizza altogether, and who suspected that there were cucumbers (which she also doesn’t like) in everything. We had made some very plain pizza for the Stephen Kekoa and Miranda (pictured here) and Dakki was somewhat happy with that.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A cramped day

The aunties and I are off to Hawaii, to visit the Hawaiian Guppies – my cousin and his family. The trip was as air trips are – not fun. Our usual carrier makes a stop and a change of planes in Honolulu, but the one we took this time is a direct flight to Kona. The drawback is that the plane is even more congested. One can barely move the lower extremities, as illustrated in picture one of our poor feet. I had worked the evening before, getting home at midnight, and I was supposed to be picked up at 0630. Rebecca, who is kindly staying with Margaret and Rachael while I am gone, was going to get up early and fix me a lunch and a cup of tea. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find my alarm clock. I set my phone for 0545, thinking this was getting up at the last minute, given that my tea would be ready, Margaret would have gone for her walkies, etc. Quell horreur! I woke up and there was Rebecca snoozing away next to me. I leapt up, made my tea, took Margaret out, and then even more quelle horreur, my aunt called at six to say they would be there in 5 minutes. Pandemonium! We flew around gathering my things, searching for my driver's license which I had put on a “safe place!” I found the license, but the careful reader will note that there is no mention of lunch. I had, however, presciently put a packet of graham crackers in my carry-on. These days, one purchases disgusting food at exorbitant prices on the airplane. My aunt Pauline brought HB eggs for us, and bananas. So I was okay in the breakfast arena. Later they set out their own lunches. Pauline’s is the first picture, and Dakki’s is the second. My response to lunch is pictured also. The little gastrointestinal emergency bag. Fortunately, I didn’t need to actually use it. I have in flights past. Once on a previous flight, as I was standing in the queue for the bathroom, the air hostess, noted that I looked green, and handed me a huge purple plastic bag. Not so lucky that time. This time, I managed to eat a few of Dakki's fig newtons, Pauline's pear, and was quite satisfied.

Friday, May 15, 2009

An arty day

My friend Maria has an art exhibit at Trinity Parish Church, an Episcopal parish near St. James. Rebecca and I were determined to go, but when we got there, the church and its offices were locked up tight as a drum. They had been having an upsurge in nefarious activity lately and were being very cautious, according to the sign on their door. There was a number to call, and we called it, but got, “If you want….. press…..” Grrrr. What a letdown. Then a man with a name tag came by and we asked him about the show. It was only on Sundays, he thought. But it was really wonderful, he added, increasing our disappointment. However, since were his new best friends, he would let us in. And it really was wonderful. The pictures were scratchboard technique (a mystery to me), marvelously detailed, and quite lovely. Since Maria’s art is used often in Cathedral publications and liturgy orders, I had seen many of them, but there were some – possibly even my new favorites – which I had never seen. One of those was Rebecca at the well, and here you can see my Rebecca admiring it. Quite a few of the pictures were of the Virgin Mary, and I particularly liked that she was actually Middle Eastern looking, rather than the usual Teutonic looking Madonna. Try to go to this exhibit if you can.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An overstuffed day

Rebecca made Margaret and me a fabulous dinner last evening. Unfortunately for Margaret, most of it was bad for her, so she had to just enjoy the aromas. Being a dog, I am sure she appreciated them. Dogs are very into aromas, you know. Especially disgusting aromas. This dinner had only lovely ones, however, so maybe Margaret didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. There was a soup of garbanzo beans, and asparagus, flavored with tarragon, one of my favorite herbs, a sweet potato and apple salad with Turkish spices and yummy vegan chocolate chip cookies. The recipe is here. I am hoping she will give us the salad recipe because it was really scrumptious. Once again, I ate way too much of everything.

Margaret did get some of the Irish soda bread.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another fun day

Many, many years ago, Rebecca and I used to go cross country skiing or hiking in some mountainous or swampy place nearly every week. When Rachael joined our family, this came to an abrupt stop. With a baby and no car, we were stuck in town. Not wanting to abandon our walks, we took to urban hikes – walks to fun places in Seattle. One of our favorite walks is from Capitol Hill where we live, to the University District. There are many possible routes, each with its own delights. My favorite includes both a mountain like path through a very hilly park, and a riparian walk through a swampish area nearly under the freeway. It is just perfect, passing through several very different environments, far enough for good exercise, but not so far that you are fagged when you get there. Then, since one has had such an invigorating morning, one feels quite justified in eating an outrageous amount of food at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The place we went yesterday is called “Flowers” because it is located in a former flower shop. The owners are from the Middle East, and this is reflected in the food which is quite eclectic, but with a Middle Eastern slant. The d├ęcor is pretty eclectic too, and along with the fabulous food, is another charming draw of this eatery. The table tops are all painted with magical scenes by one of the owners, and the ceiling is mirrored, so, looking up, you can see it all.
Important note: These French fries are without a doubt, the best I ever ate in my entire life.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Happy Mother's Day

Rebecca and I usually celebrate Mother’s Day on some other day, because it seems as though one or the other of us is always working. Those babies keep coming, hips keep breaking, and knees wearing out, despite more important things like Mother’s Day. This year, we both were working, and so were barely able to say “Hi, happy Mother’s Day” on the phone. Nonetheless, I had a very nice day with a few happy surprises. First thing in the morning, the phone rang and it was Rebecca’s father (and my former honeybunch/spouse) calling to say “Happy Mother’s day!” I was delighted, because don’t hear from him that often, and enjoy it whenever I do. (Hint, hint, Dennis.) When Rachael and I got home from church, John, a friend who is working on my house and who is pictured here with his doggies, gave me this lovely salt and pepper thing. I was touched and thrilled. Any ideas about what the third little jar is for? It has a slot for a tiny spoon. I was delighted again. Then to work -- I initiated my new uniform dress and it was significantly less awful than I had expected it to be. When I arrived, I found that I had to float to another unit, not a happy discovery. However, that was pleasant as well. My patients were all nice, and several old friends were working there. Part way into the shift, one of the PCT’s (Patient Care Technician) from my unit, who knows I love cookies, brought me one. He came right into the patient’s room with a selection. I was really touched, and the patient was impressed with his kindness. It was way above and beyond. Just giving someone a cookie is super nice, but going up eight floors to bring someone a cookie is super duper-nice. And they were very yummy cookies! So, despite not seeing my baby girl, I had a great Mother’s Day. And I have another one to look forward to!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

An aromatic day

Ana and I made a sort of Indian dinner today while Ken worked on my computer. We had curried split pea soup and these little cilantro flatbreads (Bengali Partha), along with roasted beets and green salad – the latter two not so Indian. When gauging our time, Ana said, “These little breads are going to take a long time. The recipe looks pretty complicated.” “Laxmi says they take 20 minutes to prepare,” I confidently replied, pointing out the prep time in the cookbook. Ana looked skeptical, and well she might have. Working together, with me rolling them out and Ana frying them, they took an hour at least. I suppose Laxmi can make them in twenty minutes, but I can’t imagine how. However, they were yummy and worth the effort.

The recipe is from “Laxmi’s Vegetarian Kitchen.” Here is a brief version.
Take 2 cups of self-rising flour, stir in ½ teaspoon salt and ¾ cup water. Stir it till it forms a ball, cover it and let it stand at least two hours, and then divide it into eight blobs. Chop up a bunch of cilantro, add some pepper. Roll out each blob, brush it with butter or ghee, sprinkle on some or the cilantro mixture. Then follow the pictures, cutting it into five strips, piling the strips up and then rolling them up into a jelly roll, and then rolling them flat. Fry each bread in a a bit of oil for a minute on each side. Squash it down midway so it will cook more thoroughly.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A pleasant day!

Once a week, I drag my dustbin and my monstrous recycling bins out the gate and down a few stairs to the curb to be picked up by the dustman and the recycle man. This morning, I opened the gate, and in front of me were a colored ball, and a pair of soulful eyes looking at me. The soulful eyes were looking, the colored ball was not. The colored ball turned around and turned into this fellow, a very nice man who had stopped to sit on my steps and admire my flowers (weeds actually.) He leapt up to help me with my burdens. “Those are too big for a frail old lady!” he exclaimed. Somehow, that is not how I envision myself, but …. whatever, as my sainted father would say. The dog is Captain Fantastic, named after the man’s captain in Viet Nam. The captain never came back, leaving a wife and two children. When will they ever learn?

N.B. The tattoos seem to be all birds.