Monday, May 28, 2012

A Blustery Day

Life has been pretty humdrum lately.  No blogworthy events at all, in other words.  But like Mr. Micawber, I am expecting something to turn up any time now.  When it does, I will let you know.  So what does one talk about when the news is no news.  Why, when all else fails, the weather, of course!

The weather here has been tricky.  When my houseguest left, I debated about the sort of sheets I should use.  It was May, but it was still chilly, so I put flannel sheets on my guest bed.  Then the weather immediately turned, and there was a  mini-heat wave.  I rued having put on the flannel sheets, as I was expecting another guest shortly, and she would be too hot.  But I was not about to change the sheets twice in a row while they were still clean, so she would just have to sweat it out, I decided.   Then, in honor of the heat wave, I changed my own sheets to the not-flannel variety. (What do you call them? Both sorts are all cotton.  Non-fuzzy sheets?  That doesn’t sound right.)  Instantly, that very day, as soon as I put the last pillow in place, storms and arctic fronts began moving in, as they say somewhere – on TV, no doubt.  It remained blustery and chilly for days, so at the next scheduled bed change, I put the flannel back on.  There have been occasional sun breaks since, with the bees buzzing in the wisteria outside my window, the wrens flitting about in the bushes, happily finding bugs for their babies, dappled lawns softing underfoot, and my intense garden anxiety growing daily - anxiety about my laziness in ignoring the weeds in my flower beds rather than going out and pulling them .  But on the whole, the weather has been delightfully mutable, with every day a surprise.  That’s how I like it, so the weather report from here is good.  There you go!  That’s the weather recap from Seattle!

If you look closely, there are bees.  Lots of them!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Baking Day

For Mothers Day, knowing that I enjoy making New York Times bread, and that I love pizza, and that my crust making success has been minimal, Becca got me a pizza making book by creator of New York Times bread.  I have been eager to try it out, and yesterday, as Ana was coming to dinner, was the big day. 

The happy cook takes about five minutes to start the crust the day before, and then ignores it until a few minutes before dinner.  The first pizza in the book has a simple tomato sauce, which also takes about five minutes to prepare.  When I say simple, I mean really, really simple.  For one pizza topping, drop about 500 grams of nice ripe tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 10 seconds (to loosen the peels,) pull off the peels, eat the peels, cut the tomatoes into pieces and moosh them up with your hands – or a potato masher if you are too dainty for that, add a bit of salt and some pepper, a tablespoon olive oil, a couple of squashed garlic toes –(the white bit in the upper middle of the picture), and --- that’s it. Ana and I each shaped a pizza, and cooked them in about 12 minutes. Usually my projected Meals-in-Minutes end up taking many, many minute longer than anticipated, and sometimes hours longer, but this one really was a genuine Meal in Minutes. And not only was it in minutes, but it was very tasty. 

Simple, simple, simple! White blob at top is garlic.

Strawberry sodas for dessert! Yum!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Serendipitous Day

When I was fifteen, my mother gave me a sewing machine for my birthday.  I was thrilled, and embraced it immediately.  When Becca was fifteen, my mother gave her a sewing machine, and she did not embrace it at all.  There were probably several reasons for this.  Paramount was her lingering bitterness, left over from the Handwork class in her Irish grammar school.  “I hate it!” she said.  “The boys make fun things out of popsicle sticks and we have to sew these dumb little mats.”  She only brought home one somewhat finished object, an embroidered coaster, and I could tell that her heart had not been in it.

The second problem with the sewing machine was that we somehow immediately lost the instruction booklet, and could not get the tension set right. I made a book cover (on my own sewing machine) which Becca presented to Grandma as her first needlework accomplishment.  My mother always used those little sewn book covers so that my father would not see her latest trashy romance.  He had very strict ideas about what was proper reading material, and did not hesitate to let you know if he didn’t approve. The third problem was that eventually, we lost the whole sewing machine.  How can this be, you might well wonder.  I had kept it in my closet for years, and when I finally went to look for it, it was gone!  Then, recently, when cleaning and purging my basement, lo! There it was!  This will give you an idea of the mess my basement was in. (I also lost a huge food dehydrator which also eventually  turned up.) Becca was thrilled when I found her sewing machine, as she was now eager to try her hand at seamstressing.  She got a really nice how-to-sew book which gave projects, each demonstrating some new technique and building on those learned previously.  She has made quite a few of them – several bags from curtains that she got at the thrift store, and a pillow with self-made and applied piping!  I consider piping the acme of sewing skill!  She made me this cute little Kleenex container from left-over dog scraps.  It’s just what my constantly drippy nose needed. She also made me this lovely pink drink.  You can find the details here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Lovely Spring Day

Well, Spring has been quite coy this year, peeking out from behind the clouds and flirting with us between chilly days and rain storms.  But she finally seems to settling in for a real visit.  To celebrate her appearance, Samos and I had a super fun day, beginning with lunch at Swanson’s nursery.  This used to be just “the place to go” for garden shopping, but now there is a nice restaurant as well.

The demographic seemed to be the over-ninety set, and the lunch was worthy of these worthies.

I had a wonderful veggie burger and tomato basil soup – both yummisma!   

 Then a postprandial amble through Carkeek Park.

 I hadn’t been there for about a hundred years, and I had never been on the Piper’s Creek trail.  What a delightful surprise was awaiting us!


A lovely orchard, planted in the eighteen nineties, later forgotten and overgrown until it was rediscovered a hundred years later and lovingly restored.  There are apple trees, with many varieties popular in the early nineteenth century, as well as pear, quince, and nut trees. Another Seattle secret delight revealed!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Learning Day

I frequently read seemingly touching articles by folk in a position of modest power or superiority, usually a doctor or teacher, sometimes a nurse, who expatiates on all the wonderful things he or she has learned from patients or students – those inferior beings who, one is amazed to learn, can have something of moment to impart to the august other.  Generally this something has to do with the “meaning of life,” or accepting the slings and arrows with which unfair fate burdens them.  I have to say that I too, frequently learn things from my patients, often things which have a lasting impact on my life.  I am not talking about realizations with great philosophical impact, but with impact of another sort.  Most recently, a patient told me that nearly everyone in life started peeling bananas from the wrong end.  It is very difficult to get the peel opened up at the stem end, she said, and often requires a knife or a very strong thumb nail.  The blossom end, on the other hand is soft and easy to poke into.  “Try it,” she commanded, handing me a banana from her dinner tray.  I did, and was amazed.  It was a revelation.  This is the sort of thing I learn from my patients – much more useful than eye-openers on the meaning of life.  I frequently get good tips on books to read, and have met some of my favorite mystery authors through patient recommendations.  I think of these patients every time I come across a new book by the author they introduced me to.

Once, years ago, a patient was knitting a little beaded purse. I was intrigued, and she told me in detail how to make one.  I have made several and think of her every time.  I have to admit that I purchased a booklet with the directions as I didn’t quite trust her to have remembered every step (all those narcotics, you know, can cloud the memory), but she had it exactly right.  I could have saved the price of the booklet if I had not been “ye of little faith.”

Yes, one does learn valuable lessons from those we serve, and I am grateful for every one of them.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

An Ambrosial Day

What, in your opinion, is the most exquisite food ever?  I have no doubt that what all the gods have for breakfast every morning is a nice juicy golden mango!  Mangos are definitely one of the most delightful things in life. So, imagine my elation when, on a shopping trip to Viet Wah with Rebecca, I espied a big stack of little crates of mangos!  “Let’s get one and share it,” I enthused. She seemed not quite as thrilled as I was, but agreed.  There were sixteen in the crate! Eight mangos each! Ecstasy!  And they were soooooo delicious – perfectly ripe, rich, sweet, full of flavor!   Mango smoothie every morning and mango salad every evening for a few days.  Life can be wonderful!

Morning Happiness!

Morning Mango Smoothie

1 heavenly mango, peeled and sliced,
1 banana, peeled and broken into pieces,
1 big glob (about half a cup) of plain yogurt.

Put it all in your blender, blend, and yum!  Exquisite!