Saturday, June 26, 2010

An all-day day continued

After the trip to the museum, we rode the bus back to Pauline’s house, and I went to the Family Kitchen, suffered in the heat over a humungous stack of dirty pots, pans, and dinner trays, and then took a walk with Rebecca. We went to the cemetery to visit some lovely trees and some dead Seattle celebrities. I took a few pictures of Rebecca’s hair. Here it is looking halo-eque in the long shadows of evening, and fuzzy-esque next to a couple of also fuzzy things. By the time we got back to her house, I was very tired and very whiney. Going home and to bed helped my mood a lot.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A day at the museum

On Thursday, I had a very all-day day. I got up, tidied a bit, rode the bus with my Aunt Pauline to the Seattle Art Museum to view an Andy Warhol exhibit, and to have lunch. The exhibit was pretty weird, and is for true Warhol fans, as it is not really representative, but is concerned with a tiny facet of his work. I count myself among the fans, so I enjoyed the exhibit quite a lot, but I fear that Pauline was disappointed. There were no soup cans, and Elvis and Marilyn were nowhere to be seen. It concentrated on Warhol’s photography, primarily self-portraits, photo booth filmstrips and screen tests of his friends. I had not read a review of the exhibit, so I too was expecting soup cans, etc., but I was not disappointed to find a more focused look at a small but integral part of his work.
Aside -- One morning a few years ago, I got up, looked in the mirror, and was shocked to see Andy Warhol – in his full pallor and frightful hair – staring back at me. I was horrified. I like to think of myself looking more like Marilyn. We can all deceive ourselves sometimes, but I guess not all the time. This is something no one (other than maybe Andy himself) wants to see the first thing in the morning. Nonetheless, I have felt a sort of bond with him since then. If you look at his Polaroid self-portrait, and at my little picture to the right, you can probably spot a resemblance.

The pictures and the mouse Pauline is admiring are part of the permanent collection at the SAM, I think. At any rate, they are not Andy Warhol

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A sickday

After my visit to the twins (see below,) I stopped at the plant store to get some flowers for my garden. I know, it’s rather late in the year. But I am an almost professional procrastinator, and I always wait to begin gardening till the weather is perfect, and everyone else’s flowers, planted months ago, are blooming and making me jealous. While I was standing in line to pay, I got a call from a pathetic little voice, saying she was sick, and could she come stay with me, rather than be home alone. Of course, she could. So, Ana and I did sick person friendly things, and watched the whole Season 2 of Doc Martin. That would be nine episodes. And we were sad when number nine was over. We started a stealth knitting project, and sadly, mine isn’t going well. In fact, it isn’t going at all, because I had to start over, and haven’t yet mustered up the emotional wherewithal to begin again. Today, she was feeling still sick, but less so, so we made a lovely dinner that was almost a meal in minutes - at least several installments of minutes between the Doc Martin installments. Having a sickday can be pleasant, especially when you are not the one who is sick. We had spinach and ricotta gnocchi, watermelon salad, and flatbreads.

Also strawberry frozen yogurt for dessert. For this, I used my usual frozen yogurt recipe, but whirred it up with about three cups of very ripe strawberries, and then froze it in my handy ice cream freezer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A pleasant visiting day

Wow! And Wow again! I made my maiden visit to the twins’ magical new home in the country. At least it seems like it is in the country, despite being a few minutes from the hub of life – St. James ( and my house, I might add – another hub of life, at least for me.) They even have a goat for a neighbor. One thing I love, and have always wanted is a goat.

As you can see, the entrance is fairyland perfect. Each room has its own whimsical character, and is filled with visual and tactile delight.

Their dining room was filled with gustatory delights as well – lovely tea, and apple pie for breakfast. Rebecca has frequently said that apple pie makes the best breakfast, and she may be right. Looking out the window, over our cups of tea, we could see the goat. She is a little white speck in the distance.

Did you ever see the Antonioni film, Blowup? Here is a blowup of the little white goat.

Friday, June 18, 2010

An anxiety filled day – at least part of it

I can’t believe that people who work in genuine Seattle actually live in West Seattle, and actually claim to like it, and actually make that awful trip everyday. It seems like a nice place, so living there is fine, I suppose – but getting there! A nightmare! Well, I will confess that getting there is usually not that hard, now that I have mastered it. I have developed a secret route that avoids all freeways and their concomitant lane changes at the last minute – when you finally realize you are in the wrong one. I go along a back road and along under a freeway – on an almost dirt road – and then whip up onto the bridge to the other side at the last minute. This route is generally stress free and traffic free. Coming back is the problem. There are NO SIGNS. And also no logic, as to the necessary lane for reversing my clever route. You would think I could just memorize which lane I need to be in, but I can’t. Nor can Rebecca. We have freeway-stress-induced-memory-disability. FSIMD. I have gotten so confident about my ability to get there, that Rebecca and I decided to go to a West Seattle yarn shop, and take our chances about getting back. We were making our way, and were almost at the secret entrance to the dirt road leading to the West Seattle Bridge when …….. see pictures. Aaaaaargh!!!! Apparently it is no longer going to be a dirt road. What to do? This is one of those places where if you miss your turn, the next opportunity is miles, an I do mean miles, further on. So on we went, our turn now being non-existent - Becca full of confidence, me full of anxiety. She, who had actually worked at the yarn shop, and so was familiar with the territory, guided me. We were at last able to turn around, and finally got near the bridge. There were cryptic little signs saying "West Seattle Detour," but these signs gave no real information, like, for instance, which way to go. Eventually we were on the bridge, but …. we were going the wrong way – back to Seattle. I was all for abandoning the trip altogether, and going to Chinatown for lunch. "No," she said, "we can drive to Beacon Hill. We know how to get onto the bridge from there." So we did. Finally, we were across, and Becca said, “You were supposed to turn back there.” “You were supposed to tell me,” I replied. “I thought you knew,” she responded. One thing about me is that I never know unless I have been there hundreds of times, and I had actually never been to the newly located Yarn Shop at all. When we finally arrived, me totally shattered, I let her pick out my yarn (and what she selected was lovely). When we returned to the car, a bird – and it must have been a giant pelican – had pooped on it. Sigh. Happily, the return trip was uneventful, we got in the right lane, our lunch was good, and we had success grocery shopping.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Moving day

The twins have purchased the perfect house, and are moving! Update on perfect house to follow, as soon as they are actually there. For now, the formerly perfect apartment is being disassembled. If you look at the picture, you can see that this is a pretty much a perfect moving job. My moves have always involved huge disgusting messes, but theirs seems ultimately organized and totally free of those gigantic dust mice (rats, or even muskrats in my case) who usually creep out during these events. The moving men estimated that they would have seventy boxes of books, and they made a pretty good guess. They had sixty-six boxes – nearly all books.

On the day of the trip to the pasta machine store (see previous post), Rebecca encouraged me to get this BBC cake magazine. Given that I love cakes, and that everything on the BBC recipe website is totally yummy and usually easy to make, I was easily persuaded. Then when I asked her for suggestions as to what to make for book packing treats, she said I should look in my new magazine. After eliminating everything that would take more than twenty minutes to assemble or that would require a trip to the store, I settled on these brownies. Historically, I love brownies, but I love them best if they are made by someone else. Mine usually just don’t seem to turn out. These, however, fulfilled all my brownie expectations. I was suspicious about the cooking time given, and when I checked the brownies after 30 minutes, I was not surprised to see that they were still mooshy in the middle. Then I realized I had initially made a calculation error on centigrade to Fahrenheit conversion. I fixed that and cooked them a while longer and then Yum!

BBC Banana Nut Brownies

175 g (6 oz) butter
300 g (10 oz) brown sugar
175 g (6 oz) plain chocolate broken into pieces
100 g chopped walnuts toasted
3 eggs, beaten
2 bananas mashed (mine were small so I used three)
100 g (4 oz) self-raising flour
2 tbs cocoa
1 tsp baking powder

Heat the oven to 180C (356 F – really). Grease a 9x11 inch pan, and line it with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave (or in a pan on the stove), stir in the sugar and cook it till it is all smooth. Let it cool a bit.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder.

Stir in the nuts, bananas and eggs until well mixed, and then pour it into the prepared pan. Bake it for 30 minutes, or until it's firm in the center. Cool for a bit and then cut it into squares – about 20.

The nutritional information was given, but I think you would rather not know about it if you want to really enjoy these.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A tiring day

Several months ago, Rebecca was making pasta at my house with my ancient pasta machine. She complained that it was sluggish, and filled with crud. Naturally, I felt that this could not possibly be, but a close inspection showed that it was in fact so. Hmmmmmm! What to do? I decided to take it apart and clean it. How hard could that be? Well, it wasn’t hard at all, but putting it back together was another matter. It had all seemed so logical and obvious when I took it apart, that I could not imagine that it would not be logical and obvious to put it together again. But there it was - a bunch of metal strips, and every piece had at least two possible ways it could go back in. Rebecca suggested that I bring its pieces to her house, and we could compare it with hers, and thus get it together correctly. It was not so simple. We could see how it was supposed to go, but it simply wouldn’t do it. We struggled for a bit, and then Rebecca said, “They have these at Cost Plus for thirty dollars.” Mine was, afterall, over thirty years old. So we admitted defeat, and trekked off to the waterfront Cost Plus store. I was so tired by time we got downtown, that I suggested we get one from a closer cooking store which we passed on our way. “No,” she said, “They are too expensive there.” Sigh. We forged on. I was ready to die. When we got to our destination, we looked around and found nary a pasta machine. I bought some nice table napkins to comfort myself. They have butterflies on them and are très cute. Then back to the downtown store where the pasta machines were indeed much more expensive. But available. Oh well! Now I have one to last me for the next thirty years. If I can summon the energy to make some pasta!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Serendipitous Day

As I said previously, I have been spring cleaning, and have been turning up long lost treasures. What fun it is to find them, and take a short little ramble down memory lane. This particular treasure was a surprise of sorts, but more of a relief. These pictures of little Rachael were among my favorites, and they were lost, lost, lost. I was quite certain about where I had put them, and periodically I would institute huge searches for them. Vergebens! I had taken other pictures of her in her little ao dai (the traditional Vietnamese dress,) but none of them turned out very well. These are from the wedding of Rebecca’s (and my) friend Tina. Rachael was the little train bearer. Lillian was supposed to be a participant as well, but she got stage fright at the last minute. Tina’s dog Jake also had a wedding costume and was going to march down the aisle, but sadly, he was not allowed. Worse yet, he had to wait in the car. But the truncated wedding party was beautiful nonetheless, and Rachael, in my opinion at least, was the star of the event. Not counting the bride, of course, who is always the fairest of them all.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A miraculous day

It wasn’t really a miracle, but definitely a mini-miracle.
I keep telling you that thus and so is my favorite Holy Day, and although the one I name as the current favorite, is always the real favorite, at least for that day, I do seem to have many favorites. That said, Corpus Christi is one of my most favorite Holy Days. All the Cathedral choirs gather for the service and a big procession. That means SIX choirs – the big Cathedral Choir, the Women’s Schola, and four youth choirs. The choir area is totally stuffed with singers. The music is usually Panis Angelicus and Ave Verum Corpus, two favorites, and when sung by the Schola Cantorum – the remarkable top-rung children’s choir, they are exquisitely beautiful. After Mass, a procession, complete with a bagpipe band, winds around the block and concludes with Benediction. The procession is lots of fun, and has lots of Tom Stratman music, but there is one drawback. Some of the music a little complex – text with several only vaguely familiar (after a year to forget them) verses under each other is always harder to read than just one verse – and the melody of one of the songs requires a bit of care. This makes looking at the music occasionally necessary. Add to that a very uneven sidewalk, and disaster awaits. I always opt for not falling down over singing every word, and this has been an effective technique so far. My friend Joanne grabbed my arm as we were leaving the church, and I was not sure if it was because she knows that given the chance, I will always go the wrong way, or if she was worried about the sidewalk too. Who was helping whom? In any case, I was grateful.
But, you ask, where was the miracle? Well, it has been raining steadily for three days. Jim, our director, said that in the twenty-four years he had been there, it has never rained for Corpus Christi. A decision about the procession would be made at the last minute. The very last minute. It had been raining all morning, and was raining when Mass started, but at just the right time, there was – not exactly a sun-break – but a switch from definite rain to misty-moisty. So the procession proceeded. Immediately after, the rain again took up its “no processions today” stance. But just a little too late.

The photos are courtesy of Maria. You can see her album of the procession here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The object at hand

Every issue of the Smithsonian has an article called “The Object at Hand,” which is about some item from the museum. It might be a baseball from a historic game, a photograph, or an item of clothing. Once it was the frilly shirt from Seinfeld. The current issue has a psychedelic Bob Dylan poster. The accompanying essay is not so much about the item itself, but about the story surrounding it.

I found today's object at hand as I was shifting some bookshelves around, and naturally had to shift some books around too. I came across these two, and was immediately transported to Rachael’s baby days. She was (and still is, of course) a clever girl, and read by the time she was three. Even as a wee tot, she was a math whiz and delighted in doing long railroad problems as we went on our walks. But she simply could not learn to tell time. I couldn’t understand it. She could multiply by five – which seems like the primary requisite for figuring out what time it is, but she just couldn’t get it! As a visual aid, I got this little book, which, as you can see, cost 19¢ at the Goodwill. We studied it together, but to no avail. Tommy, the hero, is a chronically late fellow, whose parents try various stratagems to get him to be on time. Finally, they resort to purchasing him a watch. In my experience, those chronically late folks are as incorrigible as they are irritating, and I am sure that if this were not fiction, this ruse would never have worked. Despite his constant tardiness, he had one virtue as a child, which you can see here – he went to bed at seven and slept for twelve hours. That would make up for a lot. In addition to not being able to tell time, Rachael never slept. Then, suddenly, one day, out of the blue, Rachael looked at the clock and knew what time it was. There was nothing gradual about this. It seemed as though one minute she couldn’t and the next minute, she could. I later learned that being able to tell time is a developmental thing, and one just can’t do it till one’s little brain is ready. This was borne out when I had a patient who had had some sort of brain surgery. When he woke up, he felt all there, except that when he looked at the clock, he couldn’t tell what it said. A couple of days later, he suddenly could. Hmmmmmm….

The other book pictured, “Der Wolf und die sieben Geisslein,” was one of Rachael’s great favorites. Although, she didn’t speak German, she loved to have me read this to her. Over and over. And over. The wolf is pretty scary looking, isn’t he!