Thursday, July 30, 2009

An infernal day

Yet another day when one suspected that the flames of hell were reaching their fiery fingers up our way. My father used to talk about the the day when it was 100 degrees here in Seattle. At that time, he worked at the PI, and somehow that made it worse. The PI offices were in a building on 5th and Pine, right in the unobstructed sun. Fifty years later, he was still talking about it. Well, yesterday, it was 103!!! It was so hot that there was a story about it in the New York Times! The previous hot day record was 100 in 1941. That was no doubt my father’s hot day. And to think that I had to walk to work!!!!! Usually, if it is pushing 80 degrees, my aunt gives me a ride because she understands what a heat wimp I am – but her car was in the shop. What to do? I knew there was no way I could walk to work. Finally, I got dressed for work – all but my hose which I put in my bag – and stepped into a cold shower. I drenched myself, clothes, hair, straw hat and all, and left on my hideous ordeal. By the time I got there, I was nearly dry and felt okay. What a surprise when I arrived! They had declared an emergency, and nearly all the lights were off – only the really necessary ones could be left on. This would both save energy and lessen the heat usually produced by the light bulbs. (I keep telling Rachael about the baby chickies being incubated by a single light bulb, but she is unmoved and still won’t turn lights off.) Actually, the darkened atmosphere was very pleasant, and seemed to ease somewhat the tense energy that is usually present in a hospital. And it was cool. I was very glad that I had gone to work, because I had nice patients, no crises, and it was relatively cool.
And what do these pictures have to do with all that? They are part of the lovely hot day dinner that Rebecca cooked for us a few days ago. This is the cucumber drink I mentioned in a previous post.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A hellishly hot day

The weather is beyond appalling. I am a damp limp rag – but one which is panting. It is nearly nine in the evening, and my bedroom is 90.5F. This, after it has been cooling off. I am such a hot weather wimp. I hate it. I have taken about five cold showers today to try to cool off. Yesterday it was nearly as hot, and we (Rachael, Dakki, and I) went to Becca’s house for dinner. As usual, it was scrumptious. Along with an amazing dinner, she served a cucumber/mint drink. Sounds a little odd, doesn’t it? But it was the perfect thing for this dreadful weather. Then Becca and I went for a postprandial walk to Volunteer Park and decided to walk up into the water tower. Whenever we do this, I have to bore everyone with reminiscences about my adorable Grandfather taking me up there when I was very small. I was always thrilled, and thought it was one of the most exciting things one could possibly do. Actually, it is still pretty exciting. Here you can see Rebecca ascending the stairs and then looking out one of the windows. From the observation area, you can see miles and miles in every direction. To the east is the dome of Holy Names Academy where my mother and Rebecca went to school. To the west you can see the space needle. After we descended, we walked through the park a bit more, and I took another picture of the space needle.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A big day

Yesterday was the feast day of St. James, and hence a big day at St. James Cathedral! The choir comes out of summer vacation retirement to sing at two Masses, and St. James himself processes through the church giving his blessing (and terrifying some small children, according one of my friends who is the mother of a small child). I have taken a photo of him standing in his corner, but I am sure that if you look at the St James webpage, you can see some of him in action. After Mass, there is the fabulous St. James parish picnic. The picnic includes music, huge inflated playthings for kiddies – I am not sure what one calls them, a fire truck, face painting (always very popular – the “why” of which is a mystery to me), and lots of food and good cheer. I wanted Rachael to flirt with a fireman and let me take a picture of her in the fire truck, but she refused. She did allow me to take a picture of her eating cotton candy, however. She said she would get a cotton candy if I would eat half, to which I agreed, but then it was so yummy that she forgot to give me my half. This was fine, as I find more pleasure in looking at cotton candy than eating it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A footful day

One Friday evening at work, I was charting next to one of our doctors, and he asked me what I was going to be doing over the weekend. “Cutting my aunts’ toenails,” I replied. He seemed to think this was very funny, but it was the sad truth. That was going to be the highlight of my weekend. And it actually is sort of a highlight, because my aunt Pauline usually fixes a nice dinner and then we often play cards afterwards to celebrate our nice pedicures. This time, my Aunt Dakki was off with her friends praying at some pius event, so Pauline and I were alone. We had tomato soup – one of my favorites, especially if it has saltine crackers and slices of cheddar cheese floating in it. Pauline made these charming and very retro salads – straight from your mother’s (or grandmother’s if you are a youngster) 1959 Good Housekeeping magazine. And they tasted as good as they looked cute.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A fishy day

You may have noticed that I have been fiddling around with tapioca recipes lately. I didn’t remember that I loved tapioca until Rebecca started making some Asian desserts, including green corn tapioca. Does that sound odd or does it sound yummy? Maybe both, but it is definitely yummy. Then she made some strawberry tapioca thing that I thought was on of the best things I ever ate. It used minute tapioca, but I wanted the genuine fisheye effect in my strawberry dessert. As I said in an earlier post, the directions on my tapioca packet are in Chinese, and hence, not helpful. The first time I used it, I looked up cooking directions on the web, and got vastly conflicting information. So my initial attempt was a little crunchy. I looked again today, and found a recipe for traditional milky vanilla tapioca pudding on 101 Cookbooks, a reliable blog with recipes that always work and are always tasty. I used the wet and dry amounts and the cooktimes from her recipe – which sounds très delicious, and which I plan to make soon.
My aunt shocked me this evening by telling me that she had never heard of fisheye pudding. Obviously she never went to boarding school, and she lived at home when she went to college. That explains it – no dorm food. When I lived in the dorm, I didn’t let it be well known because of the possible inherent disgrace, but l loved the fisheye pudding.
Here is a closer-up picture of the delightful fisheyes.

Strawberry Tapioca

½ cup pearl tapioca
2 ½ cups of water
½ cup of sugar
About 1/3 cup of orange juice concentrate
Zest from one orange (I would have used a lemon but I didn’t have one)
4 cups of strawberries diced

Soak the tapioca in room temperature water for about an hour. Bring the water, tapioca, sugar, and orange zest to a boil, and cook it, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes until the tapioca becomes translucent and soft, and the water thickened. Stir in the orange juice concentrate until the mixture returns to a boil. Stir in the strawberries and give it a few stirs until the mooshy part turns pink. Divide it into bowls and chill it until you are ready to serve it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A horticultural day

John, the fellow who does some work around the house for me, often brings me little presents or makes nice flower arrangements for me. This time, he was trimming my wisteria, and was inspired to make this monster – ikebana gone wild. I was a little horrified! It was much too huge for the spot where he had envisioned it, so we put it on the front porch, and it looked quit nice there. Being a demure person, I requested something a bit more demure for inside, and he made this nice demure little arrangement for the kitchen, and a somewhat more robust one for the spot where the giant was originally destined to go.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A sad happy day

Today we celebrated the life of a dear friend - Deacon Joseph Curtis. He was devoted husband, and a friend to many - most especially including the homeless population of Seattle, for whom he was instrumental in creating and tirelessly working for several successful programs, including the Matt Talbot Center, the Lazarus Day Center, and the Nightwatch program. Deacon Joe was a banker by day, a non-stop advocate and minister to the less fortunate among us by night, and between times, an enthusiastic sheep farmer. His homilies were notorious for always including bits about his love for Lois, his wife of fifty-four years, the lessons he learned from his homeless friends, and also the lessons learned from his sheep. It was incredible that he could work those sheep into nearly every Sunday’s readings, regardless. We were all shocked one year on Good Shepherd Sunday when Deacon Joe was not the one giving the homily. It seemed almost heretical.
The prelude for the service today was most appropriate – “He Shall Feed His Flock” from the Messiah. Deacon Joe fed both his real flock and his metaphorical flock. The gospel reading -one in which the sheep are definitely the good guys - was very apt as well – “When I was hungry, you gave me to eat, when I was thirsty, you gave me to drink, you clothed me when I was naked, visited me when I was sick…..” Or something like that. I am not a very accurate scripture quoter, but you get the idea.
We will miss Deacon Joe, but he is in a much happier place now, and I am sure that when he arrived, that there was quite a band of folks whom he helped in this life there to greet him and carry him triumphantly home.

PS. These wonderful pictures were taken by my friend Maria.

PPS. Deacon Joe thought that ice cream was the staff of life, so the funeral meats included three huge vats of ice cream and all the fixins. Yum.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A somewhat horrifying evening

I am totally knackered and trying not quite successfully to be awake. And it is way past the normal times that one should begin to be fully alert. Last evening at work, I had a pleasant and serene first half of my shift. I had three patients who were doing well, and was awaiting the arrival of a post op patient. I even had time to read a bit of Sherlock Holmes online. One of my patients was a little old lady, quite demented, but very adorable nonetheless. When I brought in a huge bag of IV fluid, I said, “Here’s your dinner!” She replied, “Oh, isn’t it cute!” “Just like you,” I told her. “You are cute too, dear,” she cutely said.
At seven o'clock, everything changed. I got a patient who was angry, angry, angry. He wanted to leave AMA, and the smart nurse would have just said, “Ciao,” and had a pleasanter evening. However, I tried to deal with his many issues, and that was wearing. Very wearing. Then my surgery patient arrived and with her, her husband who was schnockered (part of why I am now knackered.) He seemed like a very nice guy who was concerned about his wife, but he could barely navigate across the room, let alone drive home, as he planned. I had to be firm (a trait not really in my nature) and tell him he either had to stay the night with his wife, and I would get him a cot, or take a cab home, and I would give him a voucher for the cab. All this took time to set up, and as he really felt quite capable of driving, time to convince him that he was actually not capable of driving. His wife wisely did not enter into the discussion. Then someone had to take him to the cab and make sure he actually got into it rather than sneakily making a detour to his car. Minutes before the night nurse was about to take over the care of the cute but demented lady, I heard her (the lady, not the nurse) cursing and carrying on. I carefully pretended not to hear anything or to notice the transformation from bunny rabbit to wolverine. This ruse worked, and so I was only an hour late in leaving. And what does this picture have to do with all that? This is the lovely little creature who was awaiting my belated return home with loving wiggles, comforting cuddles and doggie caresses, making it all sort of okay.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Rainy Day

After Mass, I visited Ozanam House with some of my fellow choristers. This establishment, recently opened and managed by the Seattle Archdiocese, provides apartments and meals for fifty-six homeless men. The facilities are impressive. Each man has a smallish studio, and he can either eat there or in the central dining room. There is also a library/conference room, and a common room with a television. The rooftop patio is very pleasant, and if my experience of the rooftop garden on top of the old main Seattle Library (now replaced by a posh and fabulous new building which unfortunately has no roof garden) holds true, it will be cool there on the hottest days. You might notice the shininess of the surface of the patio. This is not polish, but glorious rain. It was frightfully hot on Friday, but today is delightfully gloomy and overcast, between actual rain. My sort of day.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A conservative day

Rebecca and I took an urban hike yesterday – to lunch in the University district via the Volunteer Park conservatory. I love the conservatory and remember my grandfather taking me there and showing me the shy mimosa. The mimosa is still there, as are these cactus and several other vulgar looking plants which particularly took Rebecca’s eye. I am not sure about the function of this silver ball, but it is fun to look at your reflection in it. You can see Rebecca and me, and if you look here, you can see Samos. Also, notice the delightfully gray sky - a relief after a few unpleasantly hot days.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A pontifical day

What fun! Maria and Corinna came to dinner and to play skat. We had a papal meal, including Pope’s Risotto which was served to the pope when he was visiting New York. I suppose the New York chefs were thinking that, being a pope, he must be Italian. We, however, know that he is absolutely German, and so to celebrate that facet of him, we had some nice German wine with the risotto, and then pretzels and bier while we played skat. Maria that cat enjoyed the evening as well, and quite liked her namesake. She tried to remind us several times that it is all about her, and us playing cards was boring her to bits.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A happy Aunt's Day

Every year, one of us works on Mother’s Day, and this year both of us did. So we plan our festivities on a later date, and expand the Mother’s Day concept into Aunt’s Day as well so we can honor Dakki too. This year, we had a tough time finding a day when we all could get together to celebrate, but eventually did. Rebecca made us a fabulous dinner, which she has chronicled here. And she knitted me a big surprise! Long ago, I had borrowed from the library the Cat Balou – no… its Cat Bordhi - book on Magical Knitting and had shown Becca the hat I wanted to knit myself. But the book came due and I had not knitted the hat. I kept thinking that one day I would get the book again and make myself that hat. You know how that goes. I suspected that I was getting a knitted present, but was thrilled to find it was the very hat I wanted. What a clever girl. And being a clever girl, she years ago made me this clever string bag. Later she complained often that I never used it, and this was true. Somehow, while I admired it sitting on display on my dresser, I just never thought of taking it with me when I went shopping. Lately, I have gotten a little obsessive about not ever getting a plastic bag when I buy groceries and am always upset when I am shopping unexpectedly and caught without my own bag. So I now carry this little wonder in my tote, along with my money and cell phone, and I always have it. And I use it all the time. It is a brilliant bag. You can see that it tucks itself into a compact little ball which never gets tangled with other things, and then magically expands into a generous string shopping bag. I love it. What a lucky mother I am to have such a clever and loving girl!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

A belated wish for a Happy Fourth of July to all of you. Here are Tom and Becca on a happy Fourth a few years ago. Tom is enjoying this year’s Fourth of July in heaven, and Becca is helping babies into the world, while I am taking care of broken bones, so no picnic for us this year. Rachael is representing us at our Auntie’s family picnic.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A very exciting day

What excitement! Today I had lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in more than thirty years. We first became friends when I was still a teenager in college in California, and he had just returned from the army where he had played trombone in the army band. We had many mutual friends, and so before he came I was always hearing, “Shelley is coming and he has bought a Porsche!” followed by gasps of amazement. I think I didn’t really even know what a Porsche was, so I couldn’t be as amazed as the others. Anyway, we were great friends for years –I got married to Dennis, he got married to Susan they eventually moved to Sacramento. Then I rather abruptly got unmarried, and fled to the bosom of my family in Seattle without even telling a number of my friends, and lost contact with many of them. I tried and tried to find Shelley’s email, but never could. I found pictures of him playing with various groups, but no contact information. Then a few weeks ago, my aunt was marveling about people with perfect pitch, and I counted off those I knew, including Shelley. Reinspired, I went home and looked up his number in the white pages. How low tech! But effective. I called him, and he said that he and Susan were coming to Seattle to visit their son and daughter-in-law who had just moved here. Amazing! I told him the story of the perfect pitch conversation which was the impetus for my call, and he said, “Oh, I don’t have perfect pitch – it’s only relative.” But whatever pitch, it got the job done. Here is a picture of Shelley and Susan and their adorable twin grandchildren. I was so excited and happy to see them.