Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Grateful Day

Fabulous breakfast fixed by dear Peggy

I used occasionally to have patients who had fractured a bone somewhere, usually either a hip or a bone their foot, and who had walked around on it for a week or more before finally going to the doctor.  I was always astonished by this and wondered what sort of nitwits they were, and how this could possibly happen.  Now I know.  There is a big element of denial.  “It doesn’t hurt THAT much.  It can’t possibly get broken.  Give it a day or two and it will be better.”  Then there is, “I don’t want to bother the doctor about what is probably nothing.  It would waste her time, and embarrass me.”   Sigh! 

I fell down my icy stairs on Friday, and gave myself a very sore foot.  I thought of going to the doctor, but convinced myself that that would be a ridiculous waste of everyone’s time, and a squandering of limited medical resources, and besides, I was too busy getting ready for Christmas.  As long as I had my tough manly boots on, it felt okay.  And it remained pretty okay until on the way home from Midnight Mass, when, as I was making my way to my friend’s car, I felt a horrible “pop,” and suddenly had a big, unignorable twinge in my tootsie. So on Christmas morning, I was whining about it to Ana, who said, “We will be there in twenty minutes to take you to the emergency room.”  I didn’t argue.  And I was soooooo grateful.  I did want to go there, because I could now see that my footie wasn’t going to get better on its own, and  I had been stewing about how to get there.  I knew that Dakki would be sound asleep for hours and there is no rousing her when she is snoozing. The obvious answer would be to call a cab, but (can you believe this?) I have never called a cab in my life, and was sort of nervous about doing it now.  I have ridden in them often, of course, but someone else had always been in charge of summoning them.  I am such a wimp about some things.  Well, the emergency doc said that it was fractured, and gave me a nice plastic boot which was supposed to give immediate relief, but didn’t.  (By the next day though, it was doing its appointed job well.)  Dakki, finally out of bed, brought me home and saw me settled, and Rachael came over later to nurse me.  We watched a horrible movie together, but that was okay because I was so grateful to have her there, and to be watching a movie with her at all. The next day, Michelle fixed me dinner, as did Ana on the subsequent day.  Then my pal Peggy brought me a lovely breakfast this morning and we had a fun little knitalong. 

I feel so blessed in having such wonderful and generous friends, and am grateful for their help.  Others, who couldn’t come to my house in the last few days (work, etc.) have said they would be by in the next day or two to see what I need.  I feel quite cosseted! 

My poor appendage and my holey mukluk!

A Remembering Day

Thanks so much to everyone who has sent kind and loving thoughts about my poor little Margaret.  Having so many understanding friends takes off some of the bitter sting.

Margaret in Mummie's arms

Margaret and her squirrel

Margaret helping with sweater blocking.

Margaret and her brother Tobias snoosing

G'bye, Mom! Hurry home from work!

Here is yet another failed attempt to teach Margaret to play fetch!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Happy and Blessed Christmas

I'm wishing a Happy and Blessed Christmas to all my wonderful blogfriends!  And incidentally, a Happy New Year too.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Very Sad Day

Mary Margaret Ryan
1995 - 2013
Requiescat in Pace, dear Margaret

This morning the sweetest, kindest, most joyful little doggie who ever lived went to the Rainbow Bridge.  We miss her terribly.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Most Exciting Day!

Nipper overseeings the job.

Several years ago, I read an article about Oma bicycles, and I desperately wanted one.  But they are oh so expensive!  Rebecca was against the idea altogether, and carried on a perpetual anti-Oma lobby  whenever my thoughts drifted again in that direction – they cost waaaay too much, are probably too heavy, are made for the flat Netherlands and not for hilly Seattle. While I still desired one of those lovely bicycles, I had to admit that she was correct on every point.  She was supportive in that she agreed to go with me to the Dutch Bike shop to look at them, but kept reaffirming her view that getting one would be a foolish purchase.  The day we tried to go to the bike shop, we were (or at least I was,) disappointed to find that it was in the midst of moving to a new location, and hence, not open for a week of two. A sign, she said.  I conceded that an Oma was not in the cards for me, and got another bicycle (pre-owned) which was about a tenth the price.  A smart move on my part. My trusty little cheapo bike served me well.  My thoughts, however occasionally drifted towards the Oma. Then a few weeks ago, I looked at a blog that I usually find irritating (query to self: why do I even look at it?  Just to be annoyed? Probably.)  There I saw a beautiful, exquisite, gleaming bicycle that had Dutch bicycle features, but was not Dutch.  It was native of San Francisco and was a far more reasonable price.  What to do??????  The bicycle I had was perfectly adequate.  The real advantage, in my view, of the faux Oma was that it would be easier to get on and off of – especially for an old lady whose hips are not as flexible as they once were.  Also, it was designed so that one could ride it in a skirt without having to hike the skirt up around those inflexible hips in order to avoid getting it caught in the chain.  

Aaaaaargh!  I had managed to get over my Oma-lust, but here was a whole new excruciating dilemma!  I stewed for several days.  Rebecca, this time, was encouraging, and so was my little Rachael.  I needed to give myself a retirement present!  So, with doubts and trepidation, I sent for a Public bike. As it was due to come on Monday, I scheduled waiting by the door all day so as not to miss the FedX person. I was so excited.  And best of luck, both Michelle and Samos visited that day.  Michelle was there when the bicycle arrived, and Samos came shortly after and helped me put it together.  I think that pleasure shared is far more pleasurable, and so it was another gift that they happened to be there.  Also, it was supposed to come 99% assembled, which it did, but I thought that the 1% probably would be beyond me.  Samos had it together in a flash.  I am lucky to have such good friends – friends who were there at just the right time. 

My alter ego

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Another Fun Day

Yesterday was the first day that the joys of my new phase in life really set in. Actually, I was feeling a little ambivalent about the day, for while I had lots of fun events scheduled, I feared that maybe I had too many fun events scheduled, in which case, they would cease to be fun.

To begin the day, Rachael and Lillian came for breakfast.  Breakfast is one of the many perfect times to have company over for a meal, and Rachael and Lillian were delightful guests.  Lillian and Tobias bonded immediately and got on wonderfully.

The March of the Parols
For the last bunch of years, I have wanted to go to Simbang Gabi, but have always been working.  This year, I would have been working, but – wasn’t!  Yay!  Simbang Gabi for me – and even better, Rachael and Lillian coming too! In the Philippines, a novena, the nine days preceding Christmas, is celebrated with Masses at dawn each day. 

Fortunately, Mass was not at dawn in the Cathedral, or it might not have been quite so well attended.  The service was beautiful, both visually and every other way. And such fun!  Rousing music, glowing lights, gleaming color, and joyful people everywhere!  I was soooo glad to be able to attend this year. You can see some really good pictures here.

A very appreciative audience at Mount St. Vincent
Immediately after Mass, off to Mount St. Vincent for a little Christmas Concert for the residents.  This is always a moving event, as the residents are the most appreciative audience.  Many who have not said a word all year, suddenly come to life and sing, and even the most apathetic seem to sparkle. 

Then home to collapse.  I was eating my dinner and thinking, “This would be the perfect time for a bike ride.  The weather is fine, and I feel like a bit of exercise.  What was I dreading about this day?  It hasn’t been too busy at all.  Now I can settle down and have a nice relaxing read.  But wait!  Aren’t I scheduled to usher at a concert this evening?  Oh dear!  The weather is freezing and I so don’t want to go out again.  I’m too tired to ride anywhere.”  Ah the complexities of our lives, with the weather suddenly changing from quite perfect to so very imperfect for a bicycle ride, and all in an instant – and with no change whatever in the thermometer or barometer!  But it was worth it.  The Opus 7 concert was preternaturally beautiful, and intensely moving, especially John Meuhleisen's Requiem in honor of the people murdered at Newtown. This wonderful piece was like a cold blast of horror tempered with hope for the living whose lives must go on. Music really does have the power to heal.

Martha and Joe

Monday, December 9, 2013

An Anxious Day

Lillian and Rachael looking (and being) adorable!

Everyone is asking me “How is retirement going?”  Well, pretty much the same, except that I haven’t been to work.  Last week was a marathon of feeling busy and a little overwhelmed by life.  When Rachael asked what I was doing to keep myself so busy, I really couldn’t say.  Basically, not much! At least nothing noteworthy. Besides whinging about the weather, of course!  On Saturday, the Ross/Ryan/Warner group took me out to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. We walked through frigid climes, through the Denny Woo Gardens to Chinatown.  This is a pleasant walk at nearly any weather, rain and sleet excepted.  We stopped to view the chickens, who seemed happy to see us and to not be minding the freezing temperatures.  At the restaurant, I was complaining about the stressful demanding evening coming up. Rachael explained to Lillian – “Of all the traumatic things that happen in a year, Annie’s (that’s me) top stress event is preparing choir treats.” And that’s true.  I generally put it off till it can be put off no longer, and then freak out. Then I knuckle down, cook till midnight, get up at four and freak some more.  This year was no exception, especially when the yeast on my little pita breads failed, turning them into things which resembled leather more than breads.  “Call them crackers,” Rebecca advised when I frantically called her. The morning of, my partner, my wonderful friend John of JohnandPeggy, came to fetch me and my food.  I was not ready, of course, but with his soothing calm and his efficient help, we got everything done and transported in time.

I did make cookies well in advance.  They are both from recipes I hadn’t made in years, but used to make when Rebecca was wee.  We lived in the middle of an almond orchard which had one persimmon tree, so I made lots of persimmon desserts. These cookies were a favorite.

Persimmon Cookies

1 cup persimmon pulp*
1 tsp soda
1 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp each, cloves, nutmeg, and salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nutmeats (I use walnuts which I toast a bit first)

Cream the first four ingredients. Add the egg and mix it in well.  Whisk together the flour and spices, and stir them in. Stir in the raisins and nuts.
Bake on a greased (or use your silpat) cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes. 

Marcia’s Ginger Cakes (from my friend Marcia Bates)

2 cups flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup butter

Mix the dry ingredients well, then, using your hands, combine in the butter until it is well distributed and the whole is crumbly.  Pat down into a 9” square cake pan, and bake at 325 for 45-60 minutes.  While still warm, cut the ginger cakes into finger shaped pieces.  Carefully remove the pieces from the pan and store in a covered tin.

I recalled that this recipe was really quick and easy, but it seemed way less quick this time.  I think that in the past, I must have mixed in the butter with my food processer.  I didn’t do this today because (a) the recipe said use your hands, and (b) – the main reason – the food processer is heavy and hard to get out of the cupboard where I keep it.  So, if you have a food processer – use it.

*Use very ripe hachiya persimmons. These are best for baking, while fuyu are ready to eat.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Bittersweet Day

Ron and Liz greet me every day as I arrive!  

At last, a day long in coming, and both eagerly anticipated and dreaded at the same time.  Just as the day I graduated from nursing school was end of an long arduous slog - the closing of a chapter and the opening of a wonderful and exciting new one - and held a mixture of relief at a job done along with sorrow about the parting of so many colleagues, Saturday marked another chapter drawing to a close. And a closing which created similar feelings.  Nursing is difficult and stressful at times, but at all times, it is rewarding, giving one a sense of having a place in the world and of being able to improve the lives and well being of others. And Virginia Mason is, I think, one of the best places to be a nurse.

Darling Vinita was the first one to greet me when I first started as a unit secretary!

I will always remember Mary as being a big part of one of my happiest work days ever.

I don’t really enjoy being in the spotlight, and in groups, am usually striving to keep myself in the sidelines as an observer – “like a giant white mouse, creeping along the periphery” – as my husband used to say.  (I might add that we are both quite fond of small rodents, mice and rats in addition to the usual guinea pigs and gerbils, and so this was not the insult you might imagine.) Anyhow, in order to avoid attention, I refused to have a party, and had planned to just creep off, mouse like, into the work-world sunset.  But then, I could not do it.  So I made some cookies (a mini-party) and said goodbye to folks one at a time.  I had planned to take pictures of my dear fellow nursing staffers, but somehow, I ended up in most of them.  So this really must seem like a vanity photo shoot.  (As Karma, after the first batch, I dropped my camera and broke it, so some of the pics are from friend’s cell phones.)   I will miss seeing all these wonderful people every day, but I hope to see them occasionally in the future!    

Liz and sweet Apple

A gift from my dear Lovable Lizzy
As you can see, I work with a divine and divinely diverse of people.  These are only the last two days worth.  I'm sorry I missed saying goodbye (and getting photos) of so many others.  This is the first job I have ever had where one can truly say that there is not a single annoying one in the group.  I love them all!