Saturday, June 27, 2009

A knitting day

Over a year ago, I purchased this yarn to make a shawl from Victorian Lace Today. I planned to work on it when I was on vacation in Hawaii – this was not the most recent trip, but the previous one. I started the shawl there, and about six inches in, made a really egregious mistake, which, due in part to the fuzziness of the yarn and in part to my ineptitude, I could not fix. I got discouraged and bagged the whole thing. Then I made the Swallowtail Shawl (from different yarn) and was successful with that, and so decided to give the pink fuzzy another go. This time, I opted to make a lace triangle shawl from Evelyn Clark’s “design your own” book, called, of course, Knitting Lace Triangles. I wanted to make one using the flower pattern, but I could not get it going without mistakes, so I started with the simpler leaf pattern. Once that was established and I could see what was happening with the lace, I was able to make the transition to the flower pattern. I wanted to make a more interesting edging and hoped to make one from Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia, but the patterns all seemed to require that you cast on the correct number of stitches, knit the edging, and then sew it on. This necessitated knowing before you started, how long you should make the edging, and I had no idea. So I made the Swallowtail edging, which was knitted directly onto the shawl and therefore would automatically fit. I was quite happy with the results. Next question, where will I ever wear it?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A day in Chinatown

Ana and I walked to Chinatown to purchase some mothballs and tapioca, neither of which seem to be available elsewhere. We were successful in our quest and I got three types of tapioca and two types of mothballs. Last time I bought mothballs, they were lovely pale pink, green and white balls. This time, the mothballs were white but the tapioca was pale pink, green and white balls. Odd, what? We had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants which has the menu in Chinese on the walls. Of course, it is in English too, but the Chinese is more beautiful.

The last picture is of the pillars beneath the freeway.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A busy day with a funky dinner

Yesterday I was a little frantic. If I don’t vacuum my house at least once a week, I will be wheezing from animal hair, and worse yet, I just can’t stand to walk through it with my eyes open if things are too messy. I had a dentist appointment right in the middle of the day, and that usually takes it out of me. Then I was planning to go to the Silent Movie with Samos and Michelle. That left not much time for cleaning. And then work for the next two days. Then a busy Thursday. Yikes! So on Sunday evening, when they called my unit and asked if anyone wanted to go home early, I jumped at the chance. It would be expensive not to work for four hours, but I could go home and get going on the cleaning. I went home, and decided that what I really needed to do was read my book, and store up energy to get an early start the next morning. Then, in the morning, the expected energy was not quite there, so to summon it, I just had to drink some tea and read the paper and then I would clean. Well, by the time I actually got started, it was nearly time to go to the dentist! I called Samos and said I could not possibly go to the Silent Movie. He said I had to. So that was that.
The movie, which I expected not to be very good, was The Godless Girl by Cecil B Demille. The title sounds so silly. But it was fabulous - about a super devout bible thumper boy and an enthusiastically atheist girl. As one of the titles said - "where intolerance meets intolerance." Of course the atheist girl saw the error of her ways by the end of the movie. And as the commentator said, those early (pre-code) DeMille movies always had something pretty erotic in them – in this case, skinny dipping – and then a pius ending so that one could get perverse pleasure in watching the naughtiness while feeling saintly at the same time. This dual effect proved to add greatly to the popularity of DeMille's films.
We always meet before the movies at Cyberdogs for vegan hot dogs. Yum! Here is a picture of Cyberdogs, one of Seattle’s fun and funky places, and another picture of the movie which Samos surreptitiously took. I was horrified and feared the wrath of the usher, but Samos fears nothing. The little specks of light in the bottom left are the organist. It was a wonderful evening.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A yummy day

When we were in graduate school, Dennis and I went to visit our friends Norman, who was studying for his PhD at the University of Nevada, and his wife Marcia. Marcia and I were great pals and I had been missing her since she moved to Reno. Whenever our husbands – buddies that they were - went out on the town, we - less adventurous than they - stayed home and played cards .. and played cards … and played cards. Marcia was the only friend I had who loved to play cards as much as I did, so I was really looking forward to seeing her and to playing a few hands of casino or piquet. She was a great cook, and had prepared a chocolate cake for our visit. As expected, it was very yummy. We gave the husbands a piece each, sent them off to bed, and then got down to business. When they got up in the morning, we were bleary eyed and droopy, but still playing, and had finished the entire cake! So I think of Marcia and remember that fun evening every time I make this cake. It takes only a few minutes to mix up, so is great for a busy day.

Marcia’s Sourdough Chocolate Cake

½ cup starter
1 cup milk
1 ½ cups flour
Mix together and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Beat into the flour mixture.

3 ounces chocolate
½ cup butter
Melt together, cool, and stir into the rest.

Bake it at 350˚ in a greased and floured bundt pan for 45 minutes, or a 9x13 inch pan for 25-30 minutes. Serve it with whipped cream.
Hint: Using bread crumbs to flour your bundt pan lets your cake come out of the pan nicely every time.

Also pictured is the frozen yogurt I made from this recipe. It was one of the best things I ever ate, and like the cake, it didn’t take long at all to prepare. If you serve these two dishes, your guests will be amazed and think you toiled all day in the kitchen.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A satisfying day

Here is Ana modeling the sweater that I planned to finish in two weeks while in Hawaii. I guess that was a little unrealistic. It took me almost that long to sew it together and make the front bands. I was pleased to find buttons that will work in my button collection, but when I went to sew them on, I found that I didn’t have any of the right color of thread. So a shopping trip is necessary after all. This is the first sweater I have made in a long time, and I am pleased with it. I wanted to be smallish so that I could wear it as insulation under jackets in the winter, and I think it will be just the ticket.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Usually I am drawn to color - the whether subtle or intense, but as I was out walking, I was struck by the beauty of the birch bark and its remarkable whiteness.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

An exciting but exhausting day

Friday night, I staggered home from work at midnight, thinking that the next morning I could finally sleep in and then drink tea and read the newspaper until well into the day. This happy thought was suddenly dashed when I remembered that I had to be at St. James at the crack of dawn (nine o’clock is the crack of dawn for me) and that there would be no comfy lie in. The thought of food in the first couple of hours of the day is usually an anathema to me, so I didn’t eat before I went. The service went on until one in the afternoon, with protracted moments of silent prayer. Really protracted and more than a little soporific. I was drifting off into the arms of Morpheus during the homily, until Rachael gave me a poke, jerking me awake. I noticed that one of the tenors really was asleep, sort of listing from side to side and then suddenly upright again for a moment or two. Ordinations are a joyous event, the ceremony is moving and glorious, but when the postlude - a rousing version of Now Thank We All Our God played by organ and the brass group – came, I have to admit that I was truly thankful – for our new priests, but even more so that it was finally over. Tired and hungry, I staggered home once again, had a dish of cereal, and fell into bed for a lengthy nap. This morning, the feast of Corpus Christi, time frame was similar, but somehow the ceremonies were way more lively. There was a wonderful procession after Mass with the children’s choirs, bagpipes, and the whole congregation marching and singing. And the day was glorious, not too hot – one could even wear a sweater – but bright and sunny. Perfect for a parade. Take a peek at the parade, the ordination, and our new Father Todd’s first Mass on the wonderful St. James website.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

An unexpectedly odd day

Last evening I was in a patient’s quiet room when suddenly, the room was filled with the most horrible music. Initially, we both thought she had inadvertently turned on her TV, but it was not on. Her roommate’s TV was not on. I looked around the room for the source of the noise, while she pawed through her things trying to find it. Some buffoon outside with a boom box, I thought, and looked out the window to see if there was someone on the roof garden below. No one was there. Finally, I noticed that the music was sort of following me around. It was actually coming from my pocket! It was the dreadful music that came with my cell phone. I must have bumped against the patient’s bedside table, and turned it on. Rachael had fixed my phone so that this wouldn’t ever happen, but evidently it unfixed itself. The second time this happened, my nurse colleagues and I had a conference and figured out how to lock the music out again. What a surprising and embarrassing episode. Fortunately, my patient, who had been quite in the dumps about her situation, was amused and cheered up.

Since I have no photo to illustrate this story, here is a picture of my work dinner. My aunt had given me some tomatoes, with which I planned to make a sort of Spanish rice – lots of tomatoes and onions. Then when I was preparing it, I found that all my onions all had grey fur on them. So, desperate, I used an apple. Then I realized that I had some green onions, so I added them. And as an afterthought, some peas. It was an odd combination but very good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A carb laden day (Yum!)

Ana came for dinner, and we made some super yummy risotto. Mushroom risotto! Unfortunately for both of us, the folks we live with don’t like risotto – can you fathom it? But fortunately for both of us, we like it a lot. We sort of made it up as we went along, and we thought it was a great success. I thought you might like to have the recipe. So here it is!

Mushroom Risotto AnaJoanna

Olive oil – about 2 or 3 tablespoons
2 medium onions, sliced into strips
1 good sized head of garlic, sliced into tiny matchsticks (that’s right, a head)
6 oz Crimini mushrooms, sliced (because I had some in the refrigerator)
6 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced (or 12 oz total of any flavorful mushrooms)
4 cups vegetarian stock (I get a powder from the Kosher section)
salt, if need

In your pressure cooker, sauté the onions till translucent, stir in the garlic and fry a little longer, add the rice and give it a few more stirs. Add the mushrooms, fry for a few turns, and then add the stock. Add the pepper and a bit of thyme. Taste for saltiness, and add some if it needs it. Bring it to high pressure and cook under pressure for 5 minutes. That’s right! Risotto in 5 minutes with the mighty pressure cooker. Quick release the pressure, stir it a time or two, and give it a minute to thicken up. Delicious.
Ana also brought some exotic flowering tea. Beautiful and also delicious.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A corvid day

Crows are such remarkable folk! Their cousins, the ravens have more literary éclat – celebrated in myth and legend, but crows are just as wonderful. My favorite raven is Grip, a major character in Barnaby Rudge – one of my favorite Dickens novels and one that unfortunately no one reads. Dennis, Rebecca and I visited the Dickens House in London, and there was Grip himself, stuffed. I was thrilled. (No one else seemed that astonished.) He had been a beloved pet of the Dickens children and was immortalized by the taxidermist as well as by Dickens. Grip was further, and probably more immortally immortalized as the most famous raven of all. Poe, who had done a review of Barnaby Rudge, no doubt took note of Grip “tapping at the door.” My personal acquaintance with ravens is limited to the remains of Grip and to sightings high overhead on trips to the mountains. But crows are quite another thing. My neighborhood is a favorite hangout of crows, and I have come to know some of them well. When Becca was younger, she found a baby crow who had fallen from its nest, and didn’t seem to be able to get back in. We took it home and thence to a bird sanctuary, but its parents were resentful and quite unmindful of our good intentions. Whenever we left the house, they would scold us furiously, often following us for several blocks. They seemed to really know and loathe us. Since then, I have read that crows actually recognize and remember individuals, but I had long known that this is true. Moreover, they tell their friends and relations who the bad people are. So if you offend one crow, you have probably made many enemies. Recently, they have been angry at Margaret and me when we go on our walkies. Perhaps Margaret insulted one of them without my noticing. I certainly have been showing them proper respect lately. I even took their portraits as they screeched at me.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A wonderfully musical day

Today started off like any Sunday morning, with me struggling out of bed to be on time for church and choir, staggering about, feeling my way to the kitchen and a cuppa. By the time I was thoroughly awake, I was nearly at St. James. When I opened the door to the building where we rehearse, I was met with a minor miracle. A string orchestra pulsing the strains of Vivaldi! I had known this was coming, but I was still unprepared for the wonder of it. Sadly, I can’t reproduce the music for you, but here is a picture of what greeted the choir. Then…. I had forgotten that we were also singing Laudate Dominum from Mozart’s Sacred Vespers. Maybe the most wonderfully incredible music in the History of Man! And bits of Mozart masses for the Ordinary. The hors d'œuvre was a Mozart organ concerto which Joseph played with the orchestra! A truly amazing morning.

The evening Schola mass had favorite music as well, including a setting of Psalm 8 (the Psalm du jour) by my friend Tom. Last night, I told Ana that I was going to be a little overwhelmed by all I had to do in the next few days. “Maybe you should skip Schola,” she said. “It’s Trinity Sunday,” I told her. Ana understood immediately. “Oh, I guess you have to go then. They will be singing Deirdre, won’t they.” And of course we were. It is one of my most favorite hymns, and apparently one of Ana’s too. It is so beautiful, both in the words and the music, that it is hard to sing with out a tear or two creeping in. “Christ beside me, Christ before me, …… Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”
Afterwards, we had our annual Schola party. As we were all good Catholics, the wine flowed freely. We celebrated a number of things – us in general, and in particular, Clint, our assistant organist receiving his PhD, a twentieth wedding anniversary, as well as upcoming nuptials. Here are Clint, the new PhD and my friend Barbara.
As to the roses, talk about blowsy!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A puzzling day

Weather update: I have a sweater on! Hurrah! The sidewalk was wet and the branches wafting when Margaret and I went out this morning for our walkies and to get the newspaper. Hurray!
Speaking of newspapers – I am an addict! The net just doesn’t do it. I want something crinkly in my hand and inky fingers when I am done. My favorite newspaper died recently and it was like the death of a dear friend. I have read the Seattle Post Intelligencer forever, and I just don’t like its competition. Now I am really bitter towards the competition because I feel it schemed and connived to drive the poor PI to its destruction. Besides which, it seems like a dumb newspaper. The PI was delightfully left wing, and the Times is not. The PI had wonderful columnists on the OP Ed page and the Times has boooooring ones. And the entertainment section – dare I say it? – sucks. So, when my PI subscription turned into a Times subscription, I bore with it till I got a bill to renew. Yuck! I couldn’t do it. I felt rather daring and started the New York Times, which we have gotten in the past - Becca kept getting special offers which we could not resist but they were always temporary. So when the offers ran out, it always seemed too expensive, especially when it was the second paper. Now it is not the second paper. My first issue came on a Friday, and I was determined to finish the first crossword puzzle in my new subscription. Friday puzzles are hard. But I felt I could not fail at this. After at least two hours (when I could have been doing something more productive) and liberal use of Wikipedia to find out the names of the stars of TV shows I had never watched, I completed it. You may wonder about the red ink, but this is one of my little compulsions. I do them in black if no red available, but am never as happy doing them. I took a book of Will Shortz’s favorites to Hawaii, and flipping through it I can tell immediately which of us did the puzzle. My Aunt Pauline’s are neat and in pencil, my Aunt Dakki’s are superneat and in black ink, and mine are totally sloppy and in red ink. Does that tell you something about us? It probably isn’t true, whatever you are thinking.

Here is the same Grandadddy's Rose a day or two older. It looks a little blowsy, doesn't it?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A way too hot day

The weather is hideous! It is so hot that all one can do is take hourly cold showers and then lie on one’s bed with a mystery book and whine. It would be way better to be at work, except that one must actually go outside the house to get there. Tonight is the Ministries Dinner at the Cathedral, and this is an event I look forward to all year. This time, however, I am torn. I feel like a giant sloth and can’t make myself do anything. I know I will have fun once I get there, but getting even out my door is a challenge. What to do?????????
Non sequitur: This rose makes me think of my father. He was just enchanted by it every year when it reappeared. So now, as I pass it, I think of him and feel his spirit hovering about. This year, it is being extra prolific. Perhaps it actually likes this awful weather.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A hospitable day

The first time we went to Hawaii, I was aghast when one of these fellows flew (yecch! Yes, flew!) into our living room. The others scurried around trying to eradicate him or her, while I sat by in stunned horror. My Aunt Pauline is the mother of five boys, and is used to being obeyed. She got up, opened the door, and firmly told it to leave. And, amazingly, it did. The next time it visited, we were playing Scrabble, and I was in the kitchen making tea. The little demon flew in and sat on my Aunt Dakki’s head! As I fussed over the teakettle, I heard a scuffle from the other room, but a fairly mild scuffle – certainly not the shrieks there would have been if he had sat on my head. I think Dakki was probably too stupefied to react. Marcus chased the monster into the kitchen where he (the cockroach, not Maucus) ran under the stove. The next morning the base of the oven was lying on the kitchen floor. That cockroach was certainly strong to break a big appliance like that. They were back again this year, and Marcus saved us this time. What runners they are! He chased one under a cupboard, and chased the other out the door into the night.
The second picture is a more welcome little guest. There were many lovely birds, some of whom came to sit on our lanai, but they would not sit still for their portraits to be taken.