Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Fun Reading Day

I just can’t seem to get away from our runs to the U District.  But this is really pretty tangential.  Once I get into really high whine mode, we slow down and smell the roses, so to speak.  In other words, we stop and look around in our favorite book stores.  The first one we come to is Magus Books, which always has a bargain book rack on the sidewalk in front.  We usually check over the current selection, and for the most part snobbily sneer at the offerings.  But every once in a while, there are some gems.  One day, I found several of these delights, priced at a dollar each!  But sadly, the store policy is nothing less that $4 on a debit card.  And I had no cash.  I was about to unhappily put my choices back, when the man said I could take them and pay next time.  Now this is excellent service.  And parenthetically, I actually did pay them the next time.  One of the books I found was “Hitty, Her First Hundred Years.”  I had never heard of it, but it was by Rachael Field, one of my lifelong favorites  - and on the cover, a gold Newberry seal!  How had I missed this?  Admittedly, I am not drawn to books about dolls, but I read Newberrys whenever one comes my way, and I have read Rachael Field since, when I was in grammar school, my mother brought me one (Time out of Mind) that she had enjoyed at my age.  I remember nothing about the story, but do recall sitting under a tree at a church picnic, unable to put it down, and being harassed to join the volley ball game.  (Ugh! Volleyball is a terrifying sport with that giant missile hurtling toward you, seeking to fracture your fingers or wrist, and then there is the verbal abuse you receive if you do the clever thing and duck.)

Anyway, this little book was a surprise and a delight!  I have recommended it to everyone I ever recommend books to, but the story of a doll elicits minimal interest.  In fact, no interest at all.  Sigh!  Poor them!  This was the best new-to-me book I have read in a long time. 
The heroine, Hitty, was carved from a piece of mountain ash by a tinker visiting a Maine sea captain’s family in the winter of 1820 or thereabouts.  The family was snowed in, so the tinker had to winter with them, and made the little doll for eight year old Phoebe Prebble, from a special piece of wood he had been carrying for years, telling her that the wood was good luck, as mountain ash was a sacred tree and one which wards off evil spirits. Phoebe sewed Hitty a chemise with her name stitched on it, and thus through her century of adventures, Hitty’s owners were able to call her by her proper name.  Speaking of “proper,”  Hitty is very.  She is a doll of a delightful personality, much concerned about propriety and her image.  She maintains her modesty and decorum throughout her world travels which include being lost at sea when her family’s whaling ship met disaster, becoming an idol among the cannibals on the island where she washed up, being part of a snake charmer’s paraphernalia in India, finally returning to America with a missionary’s family, traveling the Mississippi in a steamboat  and much more.  She always maintained her dignity, and always has perceptive and pungent comments of the doings of the humans around her.

If you enjoy reading excellent children’s books and you are not anti-doll, this book is a real winner.  And added bonus -- charming illustrations!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Fun Birthday

No, it was not Tobias's birthday, but Rachael's.  All the photos I took somehow got lost in my computer. So this adorable photo of my little man is to compensate.   

This has been a week of multiple blog-worthy events.  In fact, they left no time for actual blogging.  I have been remiss lately.  Plus, I am sure that you no longer want to hear about runs (actually slow trots) to the U District. My girls are determined that their old Mum should not become decrepit before her time, and demand that we frequently wear ourselves out (actually only I am worn one out) with this horrifyingly strenuous ordeal.  This has been a time taking activity, after which it takes me a day to recover. The most recent trot was on Friday, my little Rachael’s birthday. Rebecca and Rachael were polite and went slowly to accommodate their ancient forebear. I, however, did not view our pace as slow. By the time we got to the restaurant for our birthday dinner, my feet were nearly nonfunctional.  The lower half of me felt as though it were made of lead.  I recovered enough to stagger to the ice cream shop afterward, and then the inactivity on the bus ride home induced further foot paralysis.  Later we had Harry Potter desserts as requested by Rachael who had sent out links to appropriate recipes.  I made a treacle tart which was delicious, and Butter Beer which was not.  Even the determined Rachael could not drink it.  Rebecca had the wit to not even try. 

Peggy's beautiful and delicious salad

Among other blog worthy events was a hyper-fun Crafty Day and tea party hosted by the Darling Twins, with Peggy and Chris (both also darling.) 

And a terrific discovery in my skirt pocket at choir practice.  This had been there since some church fair (candy is often given out to entice customers to visit the various booths.) Those choristers sitting near me advised me not to eat it, as its age was unknown, but I am not so dainty.  Plus, one of my theories of life is that Tootsie Rolls to not go bad. 

Also a fun, fun outing with Samos to lunch and a visit to a très cute exhibit at the Asian Art Museum.  The exhibit included a sweet short movie with exquisite Japanese little girls in fanciful camo playing war games.  Hmmmm!  There seems to be a contradiction there, doesn’t there!

What else?  More runs to the U District, and another coming up this afternoon.    Sigh!  It is wonderful to be with my girls, and I am willing to suffer foot pain and exhaustion in order to have their delightful company.  I am a lucky mother and grandmother.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Another Sweaty Day

Beauty looking up

Whoa!  It’s been ages!  What a spectacularly lazy thing I am.  What have I been doing?  It seems like not much, but then again, it also seems like I have no spare time.  I understand that this is a common complaint.  Rebecca and I have been doing our twice weekly runs, and though short, they seem to take up a good bit of the day.  By the time we have drunk some tea, gone on our trot, often stopping at a lunch place, gone shopping, come home, drunk more tea, knitted a bit, the day generally seems to have been used up.  The more one goes on these trots, I find, the less hideous they become, and actually --- dare I confess it?  - are rather fun.  We frequently run through the Arboretum, one of the many lovely parts of Seattle, and always a varying beauty as the months and seasons go by. 

Or down

On a recent morning, we started from my house, and as Rebecca preferred a different sort of tea than that which I was drinking, I made her tea in a different pot.  For old time’s sake, I put it in one which was once my primary teapot, but which hadn’t been used in years.  As I picked it up by the handle ---

I stared agape as the tea gushed out over the counter, while Becca said, “Well, don’t just stand there.  Do Something.”  I continued to gape.  She grabbed a towel, and, trying to sop up the mess, sloshed the tea onto the cookie sheet of biscotti that I had just taken out of the oven.  They were now a soggy porridge rather than biscuits.  “No problem,” she said.  “Just roast them in a slow oven and they will dry up.”  She was right.  Actually their final texture was better than usual.  I don’t think I will try to reproduce it though. 

Speaking of baking, I have a lifetime history of lack of success making cheesecakes.  They have never been total failures, but have just not been adequately delicious.  My record has been broken now, as I recently made one which was really yummy, and not that much work.  You can find the recipe here if you want to try it.  It was super good.

It sunk in the center a bit, I'm afraid.  But still très tasty!