Monday, September 23, 2013

A Sweaty Day

When Becca was in grammar school, she was, like her mother, likely to be one of those chosen last for the athletic teams.  I actually was once the very last selected for the basketball team, and it was humiliating, to say the least. I can still picture the awful scene, and remember how I felt – cold, clammy, and wishing I could disappear through the gymnasium floor. I thought at the time, that it was too bad there wasn’t a geometry team.  I would have done much better there.  But who besides me cared about geometry?  Becca, while not good at sports requiring coordination, unlike her mother, shone in anything that took staying power and overall fitness.  This may have been because she either rode her bike or walked the three miles to school every day, and was a super swimmer. 

 Nonetheless, I was surprised when she recently started running for fun.  I have always viewed this as a slightly ridiculous pursuit, absolutely not fun, and had only personally encountered it in some of the detectives in the novels I read.  Kinsey Millhone stands out in this respect.  She is always running to buck up her spirits after getting her apartment blown up, or having a near miss in a shootout. When Becca and Rachael started running in 5 and 10K races, I was secretly jealous, but not so jealous that I would actually do anything about it.  But then, after much nagging on her part, I reluctantly let Rebecca take me in hand, and I have been jogging along two times a week, whinging, gasping, and begging to stop and rest “just for a few minutes” all the way.  Any excuse to spend some quality time with my girl, I tell myself.  So when a 5K event came along and she suggested that we make it a fun family event, I was all for it.  Rachael, Tommy, and Tina were to join us for the fun day.  I was pretty excited, and so was Tina – we two total non-runners.  As we started out, Tina got a pebble in her shoe.  Becca and Rachael, who had promised to stick with us in our tortoise like pace, showed no mercy, and shot off, leaving us in the dust.  Without Becca to prod and crack her whip, we were not as inspired to hurry as we might have been.  They called us from the finish line to see if we had met disaster, and were shocked that we were just approaching the 2M marker.  They trotted back, all fresh and frisky, to spur us on, but by this time, we were pretty unspurable.  Despite our poor showing, speed-wise, we enjoyed a fun day, and a Birthday Lunch afterwards for my dear girl.  I have to say that I found this birthday of Becca’s far less grueling than the very first one.  But that one had its positive side too.  What a wonder she is!!! And how lucky I am to have her.

Someone is not amused!

Tina and her handsome Apolinario

Our other handsome menfolk

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Couple of Days in Delightful Company

Begorrah!  Are we on the Auld Sod?  Or is it a Bellevue golf course with Seattle peeking up in the distance?

It looks like I haven’t been keeping you very well updated recently.  Life has been a bit on the humdrum side, but very pleasantly humdrum.  I had a lovely morning knitting and drinking tea with my friend Peggy, but I was so excited about her visit, our knitting, and the opportunity to serve popovers, that I utterly failed to take any pictures.  I hadn’t made popovers in years, maybe even ten years or more, and I do love to eat them.  What’s the problem?  Not sure.  I think it’s a matter of timing logistics.  They take about 3 minutes to mix up, but over an hour for the oven to heat up (it has to be really, really hot) and then for them to bake. The guest has to be there and hungry when they come out of the oven, as their deliciousness lifespan is very limited.  But the guest must not be so hungry that an hour is too long to wait. No problem when cooking for oneself, but who wants to eat a whole batch of popovers alone?  Not I.  So our knitting setting was perfect.  We drank a bit of tea,  knitted a bit, and then the popovers were ready!  Buttery jammy goodness!  Sigh, I do wish I had taken pictures of our popovers, our mittis, and us knitting.

Yesterday afternoon, I got to volunteer again at the annual Hunthausen Golf Tournament.  I look forward to this every year, and feel like I am privileged to be there, rather than being a volunteer.  It is always a gathering of lovely people in a beautiful setting, a delicious dinner, and a tiny bit of actual work. Such fun!

An infinite number of Joannas in the posh ladies lounge

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Fun Filled Day

Well, an unprecedented, but long anticipated event!  I met one of my internet friends in real life!  I’ve been a member of one large internet knitting group for I don’t know how many years – probably more than ten.   Then another small splinter group formed several years ago for a knitalong on particular Alice Starmore sweater, and since the sweater was finished – mine was a total flop, by the way – we have stayed on contact.  Rebecca is a part of this small group too.  (Her sweater turned out splendidly, and is one of her favorites.) Rebecca mainly shyly lurks, but feels fully committed to the little knitting clan.  So, we were thrilled to learn that Pru was coming from the other far off Washington – the D.C. one – to visit Seattle.  She brought several shawls she had knitted - all exquisite - but one was one of the loveliest things I have ever seen.   A similar one is next on my knitting agenda, and I only hope mine turns half as well.  

We planned to visit knitting stores, since knitting is our common purpose in life, but never quite made it.  Nonetheless, it was a super fun day, visiting downtown Seattle and the Pike Place Market, which, with such beautiful weather at the tail end of tourist season, was humming with energy, and as brimming with life as I always imagine those eastern bazaars to be.  Then a humongous lunch at a local “greasy spoon” type cafĂ©.  “Greasy Spoon” could seem to translate not into "yucky," but really, it translates into "comfort."  Maybe a little greasy, but mostly comfortable  

– not that we needed comfort after our super fun day.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Fun Evening!

 Wow!  The Choir Year has started up again, and as usual, I am excited.  We had our first rehearsal on Thursday,  beginning with a lovely catered dinner before we got down to the business of singing, and then enjoyed our desserts during the practice break. My pal Martha brought cookies for the dessert.  Martha, true to her name, brought the lioness’s share, a fabulous array of tasty delights, and I brought a more humble offering with two of my cookie standbys.  One of them, carrot and orange cookies, was quite a hit.  

When I was a newlywed, and the usually poverty stricken student, I joined a sort of Book-of-the-Month Club cookbook club, and received the backbone of my cookbook library. Some, like the Julia Child books, The Joy of Cooking, and the New York Times Cook Book, were cookbook standard essentials, but a few others were off the usual beaten track.  Blue Ribbon Recipes: County Fair Winners was one such.  It was my “go-to” for cookies, cakes, and pickles.  Everything I made from it was a winner!  Here is the recipe for the carrot cookies:

Carrot Cookies with Orange Icing

2/3 cup shortening
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup cooked mashed carrots
2 cups all purpose four
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup hot orange juice
1 ½ tbs butter
Grated rind of one orange
2 cups powdered sugar

 Set the oven to 350 degrees. 

Cream the shortening and sugar, add the egg and vanilla and blend.  Add the cooked carrots.  Blend together the flour, salt and baking powder, and stir them into the creamed mixture.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to get golden on the bottom, or spring back when you touch the top.

Mix the remaining ingredients and ice the cookies while they are still warm.  Yum!

I seldom use shortening for anything, and found that the can I had, had expired in 2010.  Hmmm!  Probably not still good.  I considered using butter, as I generally do when making cookies, but decided to stick with the tried and true, and so cycled off to the store to get a can of Crisco.  I’ll bet that butter might even be better.  But then again, maybe not!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

An Absolutely Appalling Day

How my smoothie was supposed to look

The plan was to meet Barbara at the crack of dawn to work on filling the choirbooks for the upcoming season.  I was looking forward to the day, as I love working with Barbara and dreaming of the wonderful music awaiting us.  Well, I did manage to stagger out of bed at the requisite hour, and have my first cup of tea, after which the haze lifted somewhat.  I got dressed, put together my morning smoothie, buzzed it in the blender, took off the lid to pour it out, bumped the “Whirl” button, and ---- suddenly, I was wearing banana mango mush.  Margaret, of course, was thrilled, but I was not.  After a few choice phrases, I cleaned up the mess, (Margaret taking care of the floor,) rescued what little was left of my breakfast, changed my clothes, and scurried off to my date with music filing.  An hour or two later, I was beginning to suffer serious droopiness, so I decided to make myself a revivifying cuppa (the only cups available holding about two unsatisfactory tablespoons of fluid,) but was foiled not only by the minuscule cups but by the intricacy of the microwave.  After quite a few attempts to get it to heat my tea water, I gave up and just drank the water.  Later in the day, I was feeling about a thousand years old, and my back was aching miserably, so I considered attacking the microwave again, but decided it was futile. Aaaaargh! 

After what seemed to be a hundred hours, we finished our task and I slogged my bicycle up the hills toward home.  When I arrived, desperate for my long delayed cup of tea, I found my second morning cup still in the microwave!  I had endured this entire day with only one cup of tea.  No wonder I felt so awful.  After remedying the tea situation, I felt much better.  My backache even went away.   I even felt up to preparing a little repast for Tobias’s biological mother, Samos’s Auntie Kree, who was coming to visit Tobias.  I told him about his expected guest, and he seemed pleased, but as I opened the front door to take out the recycle, thinking he was closeted in the kitchen, I realized, as a grey streak flew between my legs, that he had disguised himself as a book on the bookshelf next to the door.  

Tobias pretending to be a book

 My language was even more choice than with the smoothie in the morning. Not knowing when he would return, I rescheduled Kree, ate dinner, drank more tea, greeted Tobias with a scowl on his return, and went to bed with a good book.  The awful day was finally looking up.  

Tobias pretending to be groceries

Monday, September 2, 2013

Picnic Day!

Apple trees in the springtime

No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth, nor have I been hibernating.  I’ve been doing lots of things, none of them photogenic, and most of them not interesting to anyone but me.

But my work unit had a picnic at Carkeek Park on Saturday, and it was both fun, photogenic, and fascinating to one and all, I am sure.  I was really looking forward to it, as I work with such a wonderful group, and it is lovely to get together with them when all is not the rush-rush, hustle-bustle of patient care.  I was not disappointed.  You can see the cute dogs, adorable kiddies, good food, and a few of my fabulous colleagues  by clicking here!  Unfortunately, I was terribly interested in dogs, food, visiting, and hence, not really on the ball with picture taking, and so I missed 90% of those who attended.  

 After lunch and the beach, when things were winding down, Laura and I decided to take a hike to Piper’s Orchard, a lovely relic of former farming days.  When the Piper family moved, orchard became neglected and disappeared into a muddle of brush and bramble, until it was rediscovered in 1983, and restored by both the Park Service and an army of volunteers.  It has a huge variety of apples of the sort popular a century ago, along with several varieties pears, quinces and nuts.  It seemed to be windfall season, but most of the apples on the ground appeared to have been previously sampled by the tiny inhabitants of the park, or else seriously bruised in their fall.  Thus – they were pretty icky.  Laura and I were pleased to hear a “plop, plop,” behind us.  We turned and saw a couple of apples and pears dropping to the ground - fresh and unnibbled on. We chased them down and rescued them before they were ruined by the forces of nature.