Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cleaning Day

Tobias's treasures

 Cleaning day is usually a happy day for my little household.  Perversely, or so my family says, I actually enjoy cleaning house, and Margaret and Tobias always like it also, because it necessarily means that I am home and am paying quite a bit of attention to them.  Their assistance is usually (but not absolutely always) appreciated, and they get lots of pets and cuddles along the way.  Today was a particularly rewarding cleaning day for Tobias.

Often when doing the basic cleaning tasks, I sometimes add in one special deep cleaning chore – such as actually moving the refrigerator to sweep under it.  That particular task occurs possibly semi-annually, I’m afraid, and it is always a bit of a shock when I see what has accumulated.  I looked under my couch today and considered attacking the gigantic dust creatures under there, but decided that it would take two people to move the couch and it is such an antique that the two would have to be very careful lest the whole thing fall apart.  Instead, I cleaned under a little corner hutch in my kitchen.  There, I found a collection of kitty toys which had mysteriously disappeared.  Tobias was thrilled to have his little treasures unearthed, and, tossing them about, immediately lost one under the previously mentioned couch.  He pouted, staring balefully at the spot into which it vanished. Having actually seen it disappear, I was able to retrieve it for him, much to his relief. 

Shiny is best, Tobias thinks.

Margaret had a more placid day, and was relieved when the whole thing was over and I sat down to have a cup of tea with her snuggling up against me. She said that she thought Tobias was silly to get so worked up about a few shiny things, and I actually heard her murmur the word “magpie.”

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tea Time

 Through the years, I have gotten many good tips from patients about which books I might like to read.  I recall that some years ago, my patients all seemed to be reading John Grisham.  Too popular, I snobbishly thought.  I couldn’t possibly like those.  Then one morning, I accidently arrived at a meeting an hour early.  The meeting was right next to the hospital library, so I stepped in to find a way to while away the time.  They had a “put and take” shelf – mostly current fiction, and so I took a John Grisham book, The Firm.  Rachael had told me that she didn’t like this book because Tom Hanks was the star.  At least this is what I thought she said.  How could anyone not like Tom Hanks, I wondered.  So I started the book, and was hooked.  My mental movie, of course, starred Tom Hanks, which made it all the better.  It was years later when I was shocked to find that the movie actually starred Tom Cruise.  Rachael’s statement then made much more sense.

More recently, many of my patients have been reading The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  This is another one that, for some reason, I thought could not possibly be any good. I had been tempted because I enjoy reading “Seattle books,” and also because I was interested in this shameful facet of our American past, but I was not tempted enough. Then one evening I took care of a patient who had a big pile of books with her, and I noted that I had read and enjoyed most of them.  She was reading The Hotel at the…., and said that she liked it very much.  I decided to give it a go and was glad I did.  Seattle Chinatown, where most of the story takes place, has  changed little in the years since Henry and Keiko were children there. And the Panama Hotel, the title character, is one Rebecca and I have walked by frequently without ever going in. This made reading the book all that much more fun.

Occasionally, when reading novels, I become fixated on the food that the characters are enjoying.  Thomas Mann, in The Magic Mountain, goes on for pages with a minute description of the chocolate cake that Hans Castorp and Father Naphta are eating.  I was reading about that cake in the middle of the night, and suddenly was consumed with desire for a piece of it.  Giving in to the need, I hopped on my bike, cycled to an all-night bakery, bought one, came home and ate it.  My sleeping family knew nothing of this, as I carefully got rid of all crumbs and clues before morning. Similarly, The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet produced an intense desire for Japanese noodles.  I’m much older now, and have more self-control, so I was able to restrain myself for a few days until Rachael organized a little field trip for the two of us to a noodle shop and then to tea at the Panama Hotel.  The noodles were delicious (of course,) and the Panama Hotel turned out to be a wonderful place for a cup of tea. Lovely tea, an excellent cookie, a serene atmosphere and pleasant surroundings – just perfect for tea and a biscuit or scone. Rebecca and I returned a week or so later, and this time, the tea-tender suggested that we have lychee tea, which, he said, is the favorite tea of the characters in the novel.  Naturally, we took his advice.  We later agreed that the Panama Hotel is our favorite Seattle tea place.

Few things better than a lovely cup of tea.

Except maybe tea and a caraway cookie!

This has been very stream of consciousness writing.  It was going to be all about the book and then wasn't about it at all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Samos!  We had a fun luncheon to celebrate the big day!   As I was getting ready, I realized that it was an anniversary of sorts as well.  Nineteen years exactly since the first time he offered me a ride home from our class in nursing school,  and the beginning of a long and wonderful friendship.  At the time, he mentioned that it was his birthday, but not until today did I finally remember the second significance of the date!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Sleepy Day

I always think of snoozing in one’s chair as a behavior specific to fusty old men.  My father, decidedly not fusty, had a chair that no one was allowed to sit in - ever.  Unless he wassn't home, of course.  He frequently took a post-prandial nap, and then we had to creep around not making any noise.  Weird, I thought!  But……   I find these days, that it is a sort of fun thing to do.  And, when one feels a nap coming on, it eliminates the effort involved in making one’s way to one's bed.  I have my particular chair, and all my supplies – current reading, current knitting project and some essential knitting equipment – are right there next to it, or more likely, in it.  Tobias does not seem to thoroughly understand that it is actually my chair and not his, but then, he feels that every chair in the house is his, and gravitates between them throughout the day for a little variety in his extended diurnal nap.  However, if he senses that I am about to take my spot in my chair, then that chair instantly becomes his primary focus and he immediately takes it over.

 Through the years, my chair has been a popular nap spot.

Tom and Maria frequently took five.

Dakki made herself at home in it.

These two think it belongs to them

Here is how I envision myself as I snooze away in my chair. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Visiting Day

We are all so glad to see Frank!

My adorable brother Frank made his annual 600 mile trip to have lunch with us, and we had a great time at Hing Loon, our favorite Chinese restaurant, and the one to which we go every Holy Thursday.  I have always been a little envious when characters in books or movies go into restaurants and the staff knows exactly what they want.  Well, to some extent, that happens to Rebecca and me here.  We usually get the same table, and the waitress knows in advance what we like best.

The conversationalists.

The dessert.

The person who just ate my dessert and is feigning innocence.  

Frank is easy to entertain, both because he is a mellow fellow, and because the town were he lives is comprised of three stores and a post office.  And probably a gas station.  And that is about it.  So everything in Seattle is exciting.  Even walking around down town is an adventure.  Well, actually, I was born here, and I find still walking around down town an adventure.  There is always an aliveness and excitement about it, even on the greyest days.  And while this day started out sunny, by the time we got to the Center for Wooden Boats, it had become a misty-moisty sweater-is-not-enough day.  It would have seemed less chilly if we had not dressed for the morning sun.  We should have known better, especially since the same thing happened to us on our walk last week.  

Rebecca and Rachael enjoying a favorite place (at lease one of my favorites - not sure about them)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Help-laden Day

Tobias helps me with my reading.

He particularly enjoys the Sunday paper,

and especially the crossword puzzle!
Once again, I have been very busy doing nothing at all.  And I have been helped each step of the way by my two furry little assistants.  It’s odd that they both feel so compelled to aid me in every task I do, when my human family never felt the slightest urges in that direction.  Tobias is the really persistent one.  He needs to be involved in everything, while Margaret is usually content to stand by and offer moral support.  She is helping right now by snoozing on my footstool.  Tobias, on the other hand, wants to be a really active paws-on participant.  Oops!  He says to say that he has hands, not paws.  Other cats may have paws but….. etc. 

They both take pleasure in assisting with the laundry, and this could be dangerous, especially for Tobias.

Going where no cat should go!

Margaret enjoys the ironing part of laundry day.  She stands faithfully at my feet the whole time. 

Once the pillowcases are ironed, Tobias assists with the bed making.

Sewing is another of their enthusiasms.  Tobias helps with making the pattern, cutting it out, and of course, with the actual sewing.  

Margaret took an even more active part when I was trying (unsuccessfully, it turned out,) to make my new sewing machine make button holes (on my second pair of pajamas!)  She kept stepping on the sewing machine accelerator and actually started a button hole in the center of the front.  She would not stop, and at last had to be banished.  When I finally gave up and turned to hand-stitching the buttonholes, her help was more appreciated.  She just sat next to me murmuring, “I’m sorry you had to do this, Mom!  The buttonhole maker on your new machine is stupid!”  This was a far more useful, and a great comfort in a frustrating state of affairs.  

Dakki welcomes his assistance with her dinner.
Being a cat, after all, Tobias takes an avid interest in our dinner, and occasionally tries to help those he perceives to be in need of his aid.