Monday, September 27, 2010

A music filled day

Yesterday, the Cathedral Women’s Schola, my ladies only (as implied it its title) evening Mass choir, had a day long retreat to begin the choir year. After singing at the ten o’clock Mass, we met at The Palisades, a retreat house run by the Archdiocese. The setting could not have been more beautiful, nor the weather more perfect. At least, I – a dreary day lover - thought the weather perfect. The rain was pouring down until the moment we arrived, and then started up again as we were getting into our cars in the evening. The in-between time was misty, cloudy sweater weather, i.e., the best! We arrived a little early, admired Puget Sound, took peeps at some lovely borage, and walked around the Labyrinth. This is supposed to be a meditative exercise, but just having come from Mass and expecting more meditative events during the day, we were meditated out. So we just enjoyed the walk and chatted about labyrinths in general.

The day was a great success – wonderful camaraderie, beautiful singing, inspiring talks by Jim, our leader, and lots of swallows.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A fun evening with wonderful company

Rebecca and Rachael used to play battleship on the computer. Clickiey-clack, clackity-click, and they had gotten all the enemy ships – in seconds! I tried several times, but it was too anxiety producing and I seldom got anything at all in the allotted time. I much prefer the sort of computer game where you can serenely stare at the screen and decide what to do next, taking all the time you need. Like Spider Solitaire. Or Skat with the mice. Soooooothing. I didn’t know that there was a real battleship game to play with real people. When it came up from the basement, I was prepared for stress and failure, but it is lots more fun. I didn’t even actually loose, because we both so cleverly hid our ships that we ran out of white pegs before anyone won. So, a colorful and delicious dinner, prepred by chef Corinna, followed by soothing games.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A sepia day

Not exactly sepia, but definitely tea toned. And what was the occasion? That was the very question that everyone who greeted us at Queen Mary’s Tea Room asked. This is definitely a “special occasion” place. And the special occasion was meeting Isolde Marisol, aged five weeks. Outside, the day was dreary and wet, but inside – not sunshine, but a remarkable glow of tea centric delights. Beautiful porcelain teapots, flowery teacups, silver tea equipment, a smattering of Flower Fairy ware. I have to confess that I am partial to Beatrix Potter creatures and Cicily Mary Barker‘s Flower Fairies. Both were amply represented. However, the comestibles were the thing. Starters were fruit sorbet and shortbread, working through to dainty sandwiches, pinwheels, tiny quiches, crumpets, scones, fruit breads, and of course, a huge selection of teas, served in silver service. This latter brought memories of the annual Mother-Daughter Teas at my high school. I viewed these events with very mixed emotions. They always had the potential of a pleasant afternoon with my mother, doing something elegant and fun. On the other hand, there were the ever vigilant eyes of the nuns, keeping a sharp watch for any slight breach of etiquette. One knew that one would hear about any lapse the next day, and probably in front of one’s entire class. No nuns here, however – at least none dressed in the terrifying habits of my youth. Just delightful company. The guest of honor would have passed any nun’s most searching scrutiny. She smiled, slept, suckled a bit, and charmed the other ladies in attendance.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A delightful doggy day

As I said in the previous issue (do blogs have issues? Entries? Posts? ~ I guess they have posts.) Anyway as I said in the previous whatever, I rode to the golf course with my fellow chorister John and his wife Peggy. On the way, we stopped off at their house, and I met these two charming characters. They are Leah and Dashiel, and they are adorable. All loving wiggle and endearing waggle! A couple of bon vivants, delighting in the finer things of life like ear rubs and delighted caresses.

Their mom, Peggy is a quilter, and has created some really beautiful examples of the needlewoman’s art. Unfortunately, the pups knew just where to be for a photo op, but the quilts didn’t. The light wasn’t good enough to do them justice. Here is one of my favorites, in a photo which is lacking in the simple beauty of the original.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A fun golfing day

Actually, I don’t think there is any such thing as fun golfing day, although I am aware that many others do not share my opinion. In my youth, some of my happiest moments were on the golf course, going around the lovely green links with my father and carrying his clubs for him. I thought this was wonderful – a nice private time with him, and a time in which no one else could intrude. But that doesn’t count as golfing because someone else was actually doing the swinging at those wretched little balls. Some of my less happy moments were actually trying myself to hit the golf ball in the direction of the green. I just had no talent for it, and without my father along, it was boring. And humiliating. My score was usually treble those of my friends. Yesterday, however, I had another fun day at the links, this time as a volunteer at the Hunthausen Golf Tournament – a St. James event to raise funds for the outreach services. My friend Maria is the coordinator of this event, and I think she considers it a purgatorial ordeal – one which will put many stars in her already very starry crown. But I must confess that I enjoyed myself quite a lot. I went with my friends John and Peggy, and our jobs involved the silent auction. Here they are going through the auction bids, checking to see who the happy winners are. Peggy, a quilter, donated a lovely quilt, and Maria herself was the lucky bidder on that. Sadly, despite it being the most beautiful auction item, I didn’t take a picture of it, as I was not really in true picture taking mode. My specific job was to tell folks whether or not they had won anything in the auction. This turned out to be fun in several ways. Many of the winners’ names were familiar to me, but I didn’t know who they actually were, and I was glad to finally meet them. Also interesting were the reactions of some of those who were outbid and didn’t win the desired item. Most took it well, but a few actually seemed angry, and one fellow, who appeared to be quite well heeled, simply could not believe that his bid was not the top one. He loitered over the table, hovering over my shoulder, fingering my pile of papers to get a better look at the winning bids - quite sure that his name had to be on the list of winners. Then he wanted to see the paper with the actual bids on it. He needed actual proof that he didn’t win. We ignored his absurd request. Hmmmm, the rich are indeed different from you and me, as FSF so aptly says.

There was a “Wine Roulette” table, run by John, and the winners here were more pleased with their prizes. One purchased a bottle of wine for $20, and took a chance on getting a fabulous bottle of vin something special, or more likely, a bottle of vin almost ordinaire. None of it looked as ordinaire as what I usually serve, however. The bottles, all wrapped up, were a delightful display.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A movie day

I went to the movies nearly every Saturday of my youthful life. There were two theaters near one another, and one was, according to my mother, slightly disreputable. However, the reputable one, the State Theater, cost 25¢, while the disreputable one, the Empire Theater, cost only 15¢. This meant that going to the Empire Theater would result in an additional 10¢ for candy. So occasionally, my little accomplice and I would be dropped off at the State Theater, then would scurry up a block and attend the movie at the Empire Theater and then run back to the State Theater to be picked up after the movie. We delighted in both the extra candy and in our subtlety. We soon tired of this, however, because the movies were really not to our taste. I recall seeing gangster movies there and they were way to oppressive. As we suffered through the evil antics of Edward G. Robinson and his ilk, we realized that at the State Theater, we could be watching some delightful thing like Roy Rogers or Shirley Temple, as well as a cartoon and a serial, maybe Superman or the Lone Ranger, or if less lucky, Buck Rogers. I also went to the movies with my parents, when no babysitter was available, and suffered through some deadeningly tedious movies that they wanted to see. I particularly remember my mother being excited about going to Citizen Kane, which actually aroused a little enthusiasm in me, but then later being ready to die of excruciating ennui once the movie started. I think I might have been scarred for life by this experience. Another scarring movie was “King Solomon’s Mines.” I believe I was taken to this as an “educational experience,” and I seem to recall that it was at the slightly sleazy (of course they had no idea of true sleaze in those days) Empire Theater. This was even more scarring than Citizen Kane or Edward G Robinson. Citizen Kane was merely numbingly boring, but King Solomon’s Mines was terrifying. I had nightmares for weeks. For years, I shuddered any mention of either the movie or the H Rider Haggard novel.
I was looking at the DVD’s in the library recently, and there it was! Could it really be as awful as I remembered? I decided to have Dakki for dinner and watch it after – just to see. With Dakki there, I could endure anything. She was enthusiastic, both about free food, and about the movie. Well, my friends, it was wonderful. Sort of scary, but nothing like those monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. I did yelp as, unbeknownst to her, a giant spider was walking up Deborah Kerr’s skirt! But the scenery was astonishingly beautiful. The Watusi dancers rivaled dancers anywhere. And the story was good. Dakki and I both swooned at the handsome Stewart Granger. This was a really fun movie, and I recommend it to anyone who is fully grown up and has their Dakki standing by for comfort.

This is what we had for dinner.

Butternut, Bulgur and Bean Salad

This recipe incorporates ideas from two salad recipes that I wanted to try. I didn’t have time for both, so I combined their ingredients into one odd but good salad. I used the tail end of a butternut squash – about 10 oz. More would have been better, but I was too lazy to go to the store.

Butternut squash cut into small chunks- use up to a pound (I used less because that was all I had)
1 large red pepper, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon harissa sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
Green beans, trimmed and cut into inch long pieces – about a quart (stupid me, I didn’t weigh them first)
70g bulgur wheat
300 ml vegetarian stock
Juice of ½ lemon
150 gm Greek yogurt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
2 green onions
Small tomatoes (about 10)
Corn cut off one large cob.

Preheat the oven to 400°
Mix the harissa sauce in the oil, and toss the squash and red pepper. On a baking sheet with a Silpat (or similar,) roast the squash and pepper for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, bring a pot of water to the boil, and boil the beans for about 2 minutes. Plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking. They will be slightly crunchy.

Put the bulgur in a bowl and cover with the stock. Let it sit until the bulgur is not crunchy. The time for this will vary depending on the type of bulgur – from 10 minutes to half an hour or even more.

Mix the yogurt, mustard, salt, pepper.

Drain the bulgur, and toss everything together, saving to tomatoes till you are ready to serve. It is very good the next day.

PS It was more attractive before I put in the bulgur, but the bulgur gives it the heft needed for a main dish.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An exciting day

What to tell you about? I have had days jam packed with adventure ( at least from my perspective as one who leads – and loves – a very dull life.)

The choir sang at Mass for the first time in a while, and that is always, for me, and I suspect for many others, including the congregation, a very happy event. We sang Parry’s “I was Glad” and it was true. I was very glad that our choir year was beginning again. September is such a “starting month.” I think of it as the real New Year time. Summer over, autumn coming, and winter soon to follow. Fresh beginnings everywhere – for school children, for folks returning from vacations, and for returning choristers. January is in the middle of a dead zone and doesn’t seem new at all. If fact, by the time it gets here, it seems very old. Very old.

Then on the walk home, I saw some very cute bees, and some neighbors loading paintings into the back of a pickup. I asked them if they were preparing for an art show, and they said that, yes, their mother was having an exhibition at Harborview Medical Center. For some reason, I was not shy about asking them what they were doing, but I was shy about taking a closer look at the pictures. Silly me. From a distance, they looked very interesting, and I plan to try to see the exhibit.

The day continued to be eventful, but no time to fill you in on it now. Maybe later. "Maybe later" seems to be one of my mottoes.

The choir picture is resurrected from Easter Sunday, and was taken by my friend Maria.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A mutable day

What a day of extremes! A dreaded event (which turned out to not be as awful as expected,) and a long-anticipated event (which met expectations!)

My friend Mary needed to get her drivers licence adjusted, and I needed to get mine renewed. I had gotten one of those odious notifications – “Happy Birthday! It’s time to visit your local DVM,” similar to the ones I get at work. The work ones say, “Happy Birthday, it’s time to get your TB test and to spend hours on the computer doing tedious little modules about safety, policy, what to do if an earthquake happens, etc. updates.” Bleh!

So we went to the Drivers Licence place, and were horrified to see a room full of bored people awaiting their turn. We took a number and mine was 118. At that point they were at 43. A large sign said, “No Public Restrooms.” It didn’t look good. Mary realized that she had forgotten her book. Well, I had mine, and also parts of my morning New York Times, so we sat there, read, tried to ignore what was going on around us, particularly a compulsive talker who was sitting in front of us and engaging in conversation with anyone who would pause near her. Finally a baby sat next to her, and the baby was delighted – no doubt unlike her predecessors. But this meant that talking evolved into squeaks, games of peek-a-boo. Way worse. I was calculating that at the rate we were going, we would be there for at least four hours, but miraculously, it was less than two. I passed the vision test without my glasses, and this cheered me quite a bit. When finished, we rushed out in search of a loo, and then had a lovely lunch at a posh eatery - the Metropolitan Bar and Grill. Had I not had Mary with me, this would have been a very sad occasion, but it turned out not bad at all. In fact, the reverse – a pleasant morning. I was hoping to see my friend Janet there. She was undergoing the same ordeal sometime during the day, but our paths did not cross.

The long anticipated event was the resumption of our choir year. This always is a wonderful reunion of friends, many not seen for several months, and a fun celebration – with a lavish dinner, and the traditional Catholic beverage flowing freely.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A laid back day

It is a happy thing to have a visit from a long time friend who has moved away. Our friend Mary (mother of Rebecca’s first boy friend and former boss of Dakki) is here from Oregon for doctor visits. She and Dakki are chums, so Dakki came for dinner. It was a really a meal in minutes – and, unlike my usual meals in minutes, this time it really was in minutes – polenta from Trader Joe’s, with Mozzarella, also from Trader Joes, thrown together tomato sauce and fruit salad. And the remainder of Ana’s cake for the finishing touch. A tasty dinner with fun company. What more could one wish?

Are you wondering, "Does anything ever happen at that house besides food?" Answer - "not much." We love to eat. And socialize!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A better late than never day

We had a fun little birthday celebration for Ken today, and I just realized that we didn’t sing “Happy Birthday.” We also exchanged Christmas presents from last year. Pretty goofy, eh? Maybe the thrill of presents drove singing to someone else out of my mind. How could we have waited so long on our presents? Somehow, there was just always a reason to put it off the present exchange. The big reason was that they were not done yet, but there were other little reasons along the way.

Our lunch was lovely. I made baked spaghetti -- mundane, but always good, and not conflicting with any of the many food issues of the guests. Becca made two salads - an avocado and beet wonder, as well as a cucumber cilantro delight. Ana made two cakes, one for chocolate lovers and one for the gingerbread set. It looks like I got off easy with only one dish.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A medicinal day

Yikes! A friend from out of town has come to Seattle for a medical procedure and is staying with me. Dakki had surgery on her nose, and Samos, who fell off his skateboard just had surgery on his poor ankle. What is going on? Becca said, “You can set up a ward in your living room!” But no need. Michelle, who had fortunately gotten the day off work, and I offered support at the surgery center, and then she was able to take him home and nurse him in his own environment. Dakki took care of her own nose, and Mary (the out of town friend) is still in the hospital. So my little ward is empty except for Margaret and me. And both of us feel fine.

Samos actually had his skateboard debacle more than a month ago. At that very time, I had two patients who were skateboard victims, both seemingly much worse than Samos. They were friends and were staying in the same room. Samos was getting by with just one of those plastic boots that injured folks wear now, while these other two needed much more extensive surgery and care. But his malleolus didn’t get better, and in fact, got worse. So it got wired shut yesterday. Not fun. As you can see, he looks quite chipper on the way into surgery, but less so on the way out. Actually, he looks fairly chipper in this picture, but it was a fa├žade. He was feeling awful, poor fellow! Now he has a cast, pain, and nausea. Let’s hope he is feeling better today.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A fun henna day!

What a fun day! Samos’s Aunt Kree is an all-around artist, but in particular a henna artist. Her artwork is, completely accessible and wonderful, and encompasses all of life. She often made Samos exquisite little trinkets, sometime jewels, sometimes delightful little objets d’art that were just to have and love. I was always astonished at their simplicity and beauty. She used to (and probably still does) give Samos Christmas cookies, each one of which was a little jewel – an edible work of art. I was always amazed, couldn’t have borne to eat them. They were way too exquisite.
She has been doing henna for years, and her recent art in other media shows this influence. She and a friend have put on an exhibition of contemporary art inspired by henna design.

I was unable to attend the opening, so yesterday, she gave us a guided tour of the exhibit (which will only be up for a couple more days.) I have to confess that this astonishing doll by Marina Bychkova, and Kree’s work were my favorites. Kree had several pieces which not only incorporated henna design, but which also incorporated bats and lizards. I have to also confess that I love both bats and lizards. I think I inherited this from my mother, who used to shepherd any lizard which got into our house into the corners or under things so that my father would not find them and then do you-now-what to them. He, I think, was not such a fan of lizards.