Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Sparkling Day

Poet Christina Rosetti, apparently not an early riser, mentioned several time that she had never seen a sunrise.  Eventually, her friend and fellow poet Theodore Watts-Dunton convinced her that the effort involved in pre-dawn shaking off of the cobwebs of sleep,  would be well repaid by the beauty of the phenomenon.  Christina agreed that the morning beauty of the lilac, pink, and gold sunbeams pouring through the glittering lacework of dewy leaves far surpassed any sunset she had seen.  But nonetheless, she said, she probably would not be getting up to see another.

When she was little, Rebecca often went on about the splendor of the sunrise, while I seldom saw one.  She was always, and still is, an early bird, and I was always, and still am, a slugabed.  Also, her bedroom faced east, and mine west.  This morning, however, Margaret decided to be an early bird, so I staggered about to take her out, I peeked through Rebecca’s bedroom window, and was amazed.  It did indeed surpass the sunset.

Later, the day, on which rain was foretold, continued sparkling.  It was a wonderful day to not be working! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reading Days

Did you have a favorite obscure book when you were a youngster?  I don't mean something like "Anne of Green Gables," which was everyone's favorite.  No, I mean one that almost no one but you read?  One that you found on the library shelf and checked perhaps out because you liked the cover, or its intriguing title?  Or maybe it was in the “Dog” or “Horse” section?  I don’t think that there are “Dog” and “Horse” sections in the libraries these days, but those were the first place I headed in my beloved Carnegie (i.e., beautiful and cozy) library’s basement where the children’s books section was.   It was a wonderful room, gloomy in a delightful way,  and to prove what an antique I am, I will mention that there was even an corner with a number of stereoscopes and boxes and boxes of the appropriate postcards.  The books were sorted in the usual Dewey manner, as well as special sections, like “Dog” or “Horse.”   There was also a “Science Fiction” section, but I steered clear of that one, and have continued steering clear as a lifelong practice.  I don’t know why, but I really hate science fiction.  Odd, given that everyone else in my family loves it. Well, not quite true.  My parents didn’t, I’m sure, as I never saw them reading such a thing, and my aunts definitely do not, but husband and children?  Yes indeed. 

Anyway, back to the favorite book!  “Josie and Joe” was probably not really my favorite book, but certainly my favorite book that no one else had ever read.  And it was the one book in my child-life that I ever dropped while reading in the bathtub.  Imagine my horror!  Somehow my mother made it all okay, and we managed, by careful drying, to get it back to a semblance of its original self.  The plot was simple – Josie was a girl and wanted to do all the things her twin brother Joe did, but being a girl, (in the 1930’s when the book was written) was not allowed to.  At the start, Joe, the star of his Little League team was sick on the day of the big game.  Josie, who was as good an athlete as Joe, cut her hair, pretended (in the Shakespearian manner) to be her brother, and saved the day.  Of course, she still was not allowed to be on the team. Ultimately, she joined 4-H and became a master canner.  How can canning fruits and vegetables make for an exciting story?  You would be surprised.  It really was thrilling.  She also took up 4-H sewing, comforting herself that running a sewing machine was much like running a jigsaw, which boys did, and was therefore, okay.  The message of the book was a bit chauvinist, but I was unaware of these things when I was eight or nine.

When Rebecca was little, I found a copy at the University of Washington’s rare children’s book section, and so she was able to read it.  It became a mutual favorite, which we referred to as “the canning novel.”  Rachael read and liked it too, so it has been a family tradition.  On a recent present giving occasion, Rebecca found the sequel as a gift for me, and this inspired me to seek out the real thing.  The copy I found was obviously loved quite a bit by its previous owner, but so what!  The thrill of canning is still to be found on its raggedy pages, and I am looking forward to revisiting Josie and her tomboy sorrows very, very soon.  In fact as soon as I finish the sequel, which is my current bathroom reading.  I must be careful when reading in the bath tub.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Perfect Day

Colleen Dorian, mother of Roseanne, and grandmother of Ana

I had the most wonderful day yesterday!  Who would have thought?  The weather had been gloomy and chill recently, and I had to wake up early to go to a funeral.  Not such a great outlook for the day, I thought.  I decided to cycle, and once I got on my way, I realized that the day was October-perfect!  The sun was aglitter and the trees were aglow.  The air was crispy and a tiny bit crunchy. My favorite weather in my favorite month of the year, and I was able to breezily roll along in its perfection.

The perfect Seattle day

  I arrived at the church and looked around.  There was no one I knew, other than the family, and they were doing whatever families have to before funerals, part of which is not paying attention to the likes of me.  That comes afterwards.  I tried to fade from notice and seemed to be succeeding, when I saw the director from a choir I (and most of Coleen’s family) had sung in many years before, and whom I hadn’t been able to chat with for well over a decade.  He looked to be in the same situation as I – a little uncomfortable and not knowing most of the people there.  We made a bee line for one another.  “You can be my date for the day,” I said.  He readily agreed.  Soon others from our old choir arrived. I was so happy to see them.  It was as though no time had elapsed at all, and I felt wrapped in the warmth of their good feeling.  It is such a wonderful thing to meet old friends, not seen for years, and to be able to pick up where you left off as though no decade had intervened.

Coleen, the mother of my friend Roseanne, and grandmother of Ana, whom my faithful readers have met, if not in real life, at least virtually here in blogland, died last week after a long and rough illness.  Her funeral was one of the most moving I have been to, with her family’s love for her apparent in every nuance.  The service was perfect, the music was wonderful.  It included songs that Roseanne (an amazing soprano) and I had often done together in the past.  They had special meaning for both of us, and later, Roseanne said that she had thought of me when selecting the music.  I had been certain that this would have been the case, and had warm rushes when I heard the songs that had so bound us years ago.

Wonderful old friends

I am embarrassed to be sounding like the funeral was all about me, which of course it was not at all.  But the whole thing was such a wonderful experience for me – being with such kind and generous people from whom I had drifted away – and being with Roseanne and her family also, made this one of the best days in a long time. 

Flor - beautiful in every way

Maryanne and Bernadette haven't changed a bit

Monday, October 14, 2013

Celebratory Days

Dakki and Jackie

It’s been a busy few days!  On Saturday, Jackie O’Ryan, my something-eth cousin, something removed, and my Aunt Dakki came to lunch. They are both interested in our mutual ancient ancestors, seven Ryan siblings, who, in the 19th century, emigrated from County Tipperary, arriving in Boston, from whence they all traveled to Chicago, then Colorado, and finally ended up in Seattle in the 1880’s. One of the seven, my Great-grandfather, and his wife Sarah, arrived the day after the Great Seattle Fire, when much of the city was in ashes. Dakki is actually a fount of knowledge on the subject (and many other subjects, I might add.)  She is one of the few remaining folk who actually knew most the original seven and the resulting cousins – a group much like the vast array of Rabbit’s “friends-and-relations.”  It was a fun visit, with lots of family and ecclesiastical gossip – both of which, I adore.

The next day, Sunday was my birthday!  I celebrated by going to church, where we sang the most exquisite music with a little string orchestra.  What a lovely birthday Mass that was!  Then I came home, took a nap, got up, went to church again, came home and took another nap.  I totally missed all my congratulatory phone calls and messages, as I was either in church or sleeping the entire day.  

Today, The Twins came to lunch, and I forgot to take a picture. Then I went to Becca’s for a little birthday celebration with her, Rachael, Tommy, and dear Lillian.  A super yummy dinner (forgot to take pictures again,) and my traditional gingerbread cake.  Delish! 

On rereading this post, I realize that the info therein is the sort of thing of interest only to me.  Oh well!  I have been such a lax poster lately, that I thought I had better think of something to say, even if not up to my usual fascinating standards.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Miraculous Day

Sr, Ann and Fr.Gallagher

About a week ago, Rebecca was feeling laid up and so we couldn’t do our morning jog.  Instead, I trotted to her house for tea, and then meant to trot home. But, alas, I had hardly gotten started on my way home, when I felt a little “whoosh” in my hip.  I know that a hip can’t really go whoosh, but that is exactly what it felt like. Immediately, my hip hurt – not terribly, but enough to slow me down and to give me a decided limp.  I hobbled home, feeling guilty for walking, as I had committed myself to Becca to jog, but it was just too uncomfortable.  I thought it was probably sciatica, but it didn’t feel exactly like that.  It was strange and unpleasant. About half of my patients have just gotten  new hips – hours before I meet them - and they are usually not terribly happy campers.  The specter of joining their ranks was haunting me. (It is a known fact that medical folk are often inclined to imagine the worst scenario for their own personal  ills.) For the week since, I have been hobbling around, achy, grumpy, and feeling like a very old thing. I even called in sick for half of a shift – although, I felt pretty yucky in other ways too, so the combination made me feel justified – sort of.  A week of shuffling about, whinging incessantly was getting discouraging. 

Today, our choir sang at the funeral of Father William Gallagher, the former pastor of the Cathedral.  He was a pretty spectacular fellow, transforming the Cathedral from a slightly shabby inner-city parish with 400 families – and one that folks were nervous about going to lest they get mugged as they approached the door – to a sparkling inne-rcity parish with 1200 families, a first-rate and nationally noted music program, and many outreach programs to assist the nearby needy. This latter included the Catholic Worker’s Family Kitchen (now the Cathedral Kitchen) where a an excellent, healthy, and free meal is served every weekday of the year.  He was loved by so many – a kind man who did not distinguish or judge.  I recall that once, when I was distress about my troubles with my mother, who could at times, be a real pill, I attended Mass at St James, and his homily, which had something to do with a jar of beans, brought me real peace of mind.  This was probably thirty years ago, but I have not forgotten the profound effect of his words.  I have tried and tried to remember what he said about the jar of beans, but that jar is the only thing of the homily that I remember.  Besides, of course, its solacing effect on me.

What does this have to do with my hip, you might ask.  Well, at the conclusion of the funeral, I was walking down the aisle, toward the exit, when my hip gave a little inner “click.”  Mirabile dictu, the pain was instantly gone!  This was perhaps Father Gallagher’s first saintly miracle!   I strode home in much better spirits than those with which I had limped to church a few hours earlier. 

Our beautiful Cathedral

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Shopping Day

Whenever Rebecca and I go shopping, she has all sorts of ideas about things I really, really need.  “Look at this,” she says.  “You certainly should get this. You need it.  Just think of how happy you will be when you have it!”  I usually resist her exhortations, having a pretty good idea of what I do and don’t need, but again, I  often cave in to these temptations, so alluringly presented.  I have a few items about which I wonder how I let her convince me of their future value in my life, but to tell the truth, I can’t think of one just now.  On the other hand, there are some, that I can’t imagine life without.  Well, that’s not really true, of course.  One can get on nicely without lots of things, but there are some I use all the time.  I think this magazine will be one of them.  When we saw it in the store, she zeroed in on it.  “I don’t need another magazine,” I said.  “It won’t be a magazine.  It’ll be a valuable cookbook.  You love cookies.  You love to make cookies.  You will be so happy when you’re baking cookies from this book.  Just look at how cute some of them are.  Yum!  Listen to this……”   Needless to say, I bought it.  And I am happy I did.  She was correct on all counts.  I made the first batch from it the other day.  I wanted some cookies that were tasty but sort of dull so that I would not gobble them up all at once.  And a friend had given me a huge bag of quick-cooking oats.  I never use these for oatmeal, and so have been trying to use them up in recipes, adding a bit to bread, biscotti, etc, to healthen things up.  These oatmeal cookies were just the ticket!  The resulting cookies were perfect, except for being a little over salty.  The teaspoon of salt gave me pause when making them, but I decided to have faith.  Next time, I will use less – maybe ¾ teaspoon.

Yummy Oatmeal Shortbreads  (very quick and easy!!)
 (Quick and easy, but there is chill in the refrigerator time to take into account.)

1 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup water
1tsp vanilla
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt (too much – try ¾)
¼ tsp baking soda.  (I had to have faith about this too.  It didn’t seem like it would be enough, but it was.) 

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the water and vanilla, stir in the oats, and then stir in the combined dry ingredients.  Mix it up nicely, and chill for half an hour.   Then form it into two foot long rolls, which you wrap in waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. 
Heat the oven to 375°, cut the rolls into ½ inch coins, bake them on greased cookie sheets (or of course silpats!) for 12 – 15 minutes or until they begin to brown.  Let them cool.  Enjoy with tea or milk (or whatever you enjoy cookies with.)  Yum!

I think I need a cuppa tea and a cookie right now. 

The Man of the House says they look okay, but he prefers tunafish.