Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Thanksgiving Day

This morning my friend Joanne asked me if had I a story about our Thanksgiving dinner on my blog. I said that I didn’t really, because it was all very civilized, and therefore not very interesting. Rebecca was working and two subsets were at in-laws' houses, so it was more subdued than usual. Everyone behaved nicely, and there was none of this. However, to compensate for lack of an amusing vignette, here are some pictures of my incredibly adorable family – at least in my opinion they are all incredibly adorable. And I am incredibly thankful to be part of such a circle .

Friday, November 27, 2009

A culinary day

About a thousand years ago, when I was a young bride and Rebecca was just a twinkle in her daddy’s eye, her daddy and I went window shopping at our favorite antique/junk shop - Hansen’s Bargain Barn. I admired this book, but it was way beyond our student budget. Later, I was thrilled to receive it as a Christmas gift. Given that the only other cookbook I had at the time was Betty Crocker, I used it often and made huge meals aimed at folks who had been out in the fields all day. Every dinner lasted us several days at least. Now, I don’t cook much from it, as it has become fragile, but it is one of my treasures. The one time it gets used every year is Cranberry Sauce Time. I will share the perfect, easy, and never failing recipe with you.

Cranberry Sauce

One quart of cranberries, two cupfuls of sugar, and a pint of water. Wash the cranberries, then put then on the fire with the water, but in a covered pan. Let them simmer until each cranberry bursts open; then remove the cover of the sauce-pan, add the sugar, and let them all boil for twenty minutes without the cover. The cranberries must never be stirred from the time they are placed on the fire. This is an unfailing recipe for a most delicious preparation of cranberries. Very fine with turkey and game.

Since I am a vegetarian, I put my cranberry sauce on the potatoes and corn. Yum! It's also very good on squash and mixed into plain yogurt.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

What a better way to begin Thanksgiving Day than to thank God for all our multitudinous blessings. Every year the Schola sings at the Thanksgiving morning Mass, and for many, this is the favorite service of the year. It is so utterly voluntary – not a Sunday, not a Holy Day – just a wish to come together and give thanks for all He has given us. All happy music and happy thoughts about how blest we are with our friends, our family, our wonderful parish family. And there is usually a full house.
I am hoping that all of you have a lovely day with your loved ones, and that your loved ones all behave well at dinner

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to Dakki!!! Eighty-five going on forty!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A recovering day

After nearly a week of lying about, complaining, whining, and oozing unpleasant bodily fluids, I reluctantly emerged from my lair to do a number of no-longer-possible-to be-procrastinated-on errands. I made what I hope is my last ever trip to the odious WAMU-now-Chase bank to close my Tom estate account. This wretched institution has been the cause of several tearful episodes and lots of rage, as my faithful readers will know. There is one woman there who is always nice and knows what she is about and is sympathetic with my suffering, so I always make a beeline for her. The parking attendant is also very nice. Other than that……… (If you can’t say something nice……) Then to the Bank of America, another world entirely in the world of banks - always cooperative, always efficient. Not thieves like the Chase bank which once charged me $90 for a printout that they said was going to cost $5 and was not even what I needed. “Gosh, we’re sorry, but there is nothing we can do about it! That’s just the way it is.” Then shopping to the PFI for a birthday present for Dakki, to the library, and then to my favorite grocery store for birthday dinner wine. All in all, a successful outing. Then home to put away groceries and off the Family Kitchen where I ate a sinful chocolate dessert which turned out to be a barmecidian feast (a good word thanks to my friend Corinna). It was beautiful, but it made me sick. Then a restorative cup of tea at Starbucks before choir practice. Then choir practice where I managed to keep a low profile and avoid a basilisk stare. Then home to make some tapioca pudding for my little darling. Actually my big darling, as Margaret is my little darling and I do not usually make pudding for her although she would be pleased if I did. Maria the cat is not my darling at all, but she thinks she is. She is not unloved completely, since Rachael loves her, as does Tom from heaven. I think Samos loves her as too, but I have to confess that Rebecca and I do not. Well, maybe a little.
And what, you might ask, does the above picture, taken by Rachael's iPhone, have to do with the day? Rachael (my big darling), and Patrick (my choir friend and treats partner of last week) are pictured at the Family Kitchen. They both volunteer on Tuesdays, while Rebecca and I go on Thursdays. So lots of connection to my (even more than usual) stream of consciousness ramblings.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A snorty, snuffley day

Blech! Double blech! Rachael came home Wednesday evening with a runny nose, a cough, and a general feeling of misery. I advised her to keep away from me, but she is a loving girl, and one thing she loves is the “Family Bed” concept, and hence, will not stay out of mine. So I was doomed to a period of sniffle and snuffle myself. I woke up on Saturday feeling worse than I had in years. Colds used to be an inconvenience, but these days, they seem to lay me flat. I was comforted by the fact that I would get lots of knitting done as I lay around coughing and blowing my nose, but alas! I was too wiped out to even read or knit! And horror of horrors! It was my week to bring treats to choir on Sunday morning. What to do? Call in sick and not bring treats – leaving Patrick, my treat partner, in the lurch? Suffer and pull something together anyway? Happily, Patrick is one of those who is enthusiastic about bringing treats, and who consequently prepares a good spread, so my portion of the food was manageable. Rebecca had given me this nice focaccia cookbook for my birthday, and I had yet to make anything from it. This would be just the ticket. Focaccia is one of my choir treat standbys – yummy and easy. Making bread is always impressive to the uninitiated, and actually is not that much work. Perfect for one who has the strength and energy of a wet washrag. But it does take a long time – mostly waiting for it to rise. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the recipe carefully before starting, and too late realized that I should have started it the night before. Oh well, start it first thing in the morning and hope for the best. Also I failed to take in a two hour rise. Oh well again. As I completed each step, I set my alarm and went back to bed. Then staggered down and did the next step. I finally finished it at two in the morning. I got up at six, and draped in a mask like those nurses one sees in influenza epidemic pictures, washing my hands raw, made my deviled eggs. Looking a little like Baba Yaga, I packed up my food, delivered it to the choir treats room and returned home to bed, not waking up till nearly two in the afternoon. I had been in such a haze that I had forgotten to save out some foccacia for myself – except for this one little piece, and none of the sweet pepper version. Maria had managed to snag a hard boiled egg when my back was turned, so at least someone in the family had a fruit of my labor. Later in the day, my appetite was recovering somewhat, and I realized that this had been a sad mistake. The focaccia was delicious, and would have been just the thing to cheer poor suffering me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An intuitive day

I was recently cooking and contemplating an article I had just read. It was about cautious, careful folk vs. the more daring sort. The article said that both had important roles in life – the more daring would be the astronauts, and the cautious and careful types would be in the control tower. A reversal of roles could be disastrous. What brought this to my mind was eggs. Whenever I am separating eggs, I carefully drop the white into a small glass bowl and the yolk into another. Then I transfer the white into a bigger bowl with the other whites, thus averting the potential danger of spoiling the whole batch with one failed yolk. Becca, on the other hand, drops the new white right into the bowl with the rest. A dangerous practice, I have always thought. I once watched, fascinated and disbelieving, while a friend making eggnog separated a whole dozen eggs, dropping every white right into the beater bowl. I could not believe anyone would be this bold, or maybe foolish. This day, I was making a “Queen of Puddings” – with pretty uninspiring final results, I might add, and I must have been feeling frisky, because I daringly broke the second egg and put the white right in with its mate. But, oops – a mistake. The yolk broke and slid into the whites, and I ended up wasting two eggs. I debated what to do with the yolky eggs, and couldn’t think of anything I wanted to make just then. I decided to scramble them for Margaret, who was snoozing in a sun ray on the couch in the next room. I whipped the eggs up, and put them in the microwave for a minute. When the minute was about 55 seconds up, Margaret leapt off the couch, and was dancing expectantly at my feet. I took the egg dish out of the microwave, and she became positively frantic. My question is – how did she know? She was soundly snoozing, yet she even asleep, she read my mind and knew that the eggs were for her! It is amazing. I had been cooking all morning, yet she was totally uninterested, knowing I was making a squash and onion dish that she would get none of – since onions are bad for dogs, and she doesn’t fancy squash. When I broke and separated two more eggs, using a more prudent technique this time, she knew that there was no hope of her getting any, and didn’t bother to even look at me with her appealing big eyes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

An odd weathered day

Yow! Rachael and I were sitting on my bed, me knitting, her doing something with her computer, both of us listening to the adventures of Bertie Wooster on an audio book, and both of us laughing a lot. The day had been relatively mellow, both weather wise and otherwise. It was idyllic. Suddenly, there was a tremendous whoosh, and the heavens opened up, so to speak. Torrents were coming down, and were also coming through my bedroom window. Then winds and hail were coming through my bedroom window as well. In general, my parameter for closing my window is snow, but I decided to make an exception for wind, hail, and buckets of water spewing all over my knitting magazines. We lept up, and ….. couldn’t get it closed. We both strained – one, two, three, push – but to no avail! Rachael said, “I can’t believe it! Two hundred forty pounds of woman and it won’t budge.” She is quick on the math of things. Thinking quickly myself, I got an adjustable screen and a big garbage bag, and cobbled together a sort of rain barrier. Then today my friend Bill W came by and closed it for me. It was no easy task. How did I ever get it open and closed in the past, I wondered. Rachael went to bed, and I was still listening and knitting, when I glanced up to see a flash of lightening, right there in front of me. I cringed, waiting (not long, I assure you) for the subsequent crash. Margaret was out of bed like a shot. She ran all over the house barking at it, and finally decided that the safest place was on my pillow. Now, I can tolerate a barking dog in the same room, but not five inches from my head. She finally had to be evicted. She eventually returned to bed, but in the wee hours, we were both again startled by the biggest thunder clap I have ever heard. Today was mostly sunny with several gushers in between the sunshine, but as I was taking Margaret for her evening walk, Right In Front of me, there was a huge orangey flash – I felt like Mr Thorwald in Rear Window. Then a crash that quivered the trees. Margaret was momentarily stunned and my heart was racing. I clutched her to my bosom, and trembling, we rushed home. It is now still raining, and she is still barking.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An interesting day

One of the many great things about my job is that my colleagues come for all over the globe. The mix of cultures is a wonderful asset to us as a team and to our patients. Sometimes, though, there are little surprises. Several months ago, I was chatting with a fellow nurse who is from Kenya, and mentioned that I couldn’t wait to get home to bed and to cuddle my little dog. She was horrified! “What!” she exclaimed. “You let your dog sleep with you? Under the covers?” She was visibly repulsed. Twenty minutes later, she was still appalled that such a grotesque thing could happen. “Joanna,” she asked, “that does just not seem right to have a dog in your bed! What if……… what if …. it touches your breast with its fingernails?” Obviously, she could think of little that was more disgusting. “I have my pajamas on and she never does. She just sleeps and growls at me if she thinks I am encroaching on her part of the bed.”
Then, on a recent evening, several of us were having a conversation in the med room – the social center of our unit, because we often have to wait in line to get our medications out of the machine, and so it’s the one place we have time to chat. We were talking about an odd patient. “Well, we all have our little quirks,” I said. “Some just have more quirks than others. I, however, don’t have any.” “You certainly do,” Mary interjected. “What are my quirks?” I asked. “You let your dog in your bed.” She still couldn’t quite get over it.
Here is a picture of my little darling peeking out of the covers.
PS. There was actually a time when I thought a dog in the bed was rather disgusting myself, but I have come around and now know that this is their proper place. Who could resist being comforted by this little darling?

Monday, November 2, 2009

A nice day

Usually I like my patients, although occasionally some of them make it a little difficult. On the other hand, sometimes I really, really, really like my patients, and a recent evening I had two such. Actually, Helen, whom I have mentioned before, is, happily for her, a former patient. I remember the first time I went into her room. She had come from Alaska, and she and her husband had brought a few things with them to cheer up the room. A pretty cloth mat for the bedside table, a nice blanket for the bed, a candle, (sadly never lit – hospital rules – but nice none the less), and some other reminders of normal life. It gave her room a cheery ambiance that hospital rooms unfortunately lack. I was impressed with the way a few things could make such a difference in the emotional temperature of the room. On one of her visits, she gave me some roses which I dried and have in my entry hall. This time, she was here not as my patient, but as a friend. We went out to a very nice lunch. The little fellow on the birdbath sat outside the window and entertained us. Helen brought me several birthday presents – from the photo, you can’t appreciate the loveliness of damask napkin with hearts on it, but you can tell that the candle is a winner. They are pictured by the roses she gave me months ago.

After our lunch, I went to work, and for once had a patient for the second time in a row. I don’t know how it is, but this is a rather rare thing. This woman was one whom I just felt a huge surge of affection for the moment I first went into her room. She had the most endearing smile, and exuded all gentleness and love, despite a very unfortunate condition. The first evening we discussed the book she was reading, and the second evening, she had finished it and gave it to me. I was really touched. So a banner day at work for me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A delightful evening

What is it? Why, a St. James thimble, of course! A lovely gift from Spain from my delightful friends, the twins! And we had a delightful game of skat, after a delightful dinner, followed by a delightful cake, pictured here in front of its image (somewhat) on the tea packet. The tea packet is delightful too, which is what attracted me to it. Rooiboos tea is just the ticket when you have been playing skat till nearly midnight and you are planning on getting up for church the next morning.
I had a fun day cooking, but as usual, was not very organized and consequently a bit frenzied towards the end. Rachael was setting the table and giving moral support as I was finalizing the cooking details. The last thing was to whiz my carrot soup in the blender. Oooops!!! Soup everywhere. Not to worry! Margaret will clean it up – at least the part on the floor. She thought this was a delightful task.