Throwback Thursday

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Not much of a throwback, admittedly. This is Mulder on Christmas Eve, trying to be a good boy and waiting for Santa.

We live in a townhouse, and have a teeny tiny living room, so this is the tree that fits.  It’s built for an entryway, is very small and thin.   It’s perfect for us.  Though maybe we need a new one next year, as some of the pre-set lights are out.  Or maybe we’ll just get some new lights.  I tried at the after Christmas sales, but I couldn’t find any.

Giving Thanks for Cranberry Sauce

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I’ve spoken here before about Thanksgiving, about how as a child, it was my least favorite holiday of the year.  (I should clarify that I am only talking about the years when I was in California…I don’t remember much about Thanksgiving in Alaska, but I’m sure it was lovely and fine.)  My entire family (on my mom’s side) is obsessed with weight.  My grandmother decided at a young age that she was NOT going to be fat like her parents and aunts, and pretty much has been on a diet ever since.  To the point where now, at age 92 and weighing in at about 88 lbs, she will still make comments like, “Well, since I ate that brownie, I’ll have to starve myself tomorrow.”  It’s digusting.  She raised her kids to be obsessed with weight as well, putting my mom on a diet when she was about 10.  It backfired, and the combination of her obsession and family genetics put all of her children into the overweight/obese category, though my aunt Colleen was much thinner than my mom or my uncle.

As might be expected, the conversation at family gatherings was often about dieting, about what one should and should not eat, what works and what doesn’t, on and on and on.  And all the while, of course, there’s turkey and stuffing and potatoes and candied yams and gravy and pie and fruit salad and cranberry sauce and rolls.  Please eat, enjoy…with an undertone of, you wouldn’t be so big if you didn’t enjoy quite so much.  Ugh.  Add to that the chain smoking by both of my grandparents, and throw in a big helping of my grandpa’s acid tongue and sarchasm, and you get the idea.  No family gatherings were particularly wonderful or happy, but Thanksgiving seemed to me to be about food food food, and with this family, that was not a good thing.  Plus most of the food wasn’t good.  Turkey was dried out, mashed potatoes from a box, brown gravy from a packet, cranberry sauce from a can, yams from a can.  Almost nothing was fresh.

I did always like the fruit salad and the cranberry sauce, canned though it was.  Actually, I liked the mashed potatoes and gravy from a box/packet, if truth be told.  It wasn’t until I was older and tried these things made from scratch that I realized that my grandparents’ cooking was like living in Plato’s cave, eating shadow versions of dishes, and there was a real world out there with delicious versionis of these same foods.

I remember the first time I tried cranberry sauce that wasn’t canned.  It was 1993, and Ted and I were newly married.  My mom had moved to Alaska that summer, though Richard and his wife had not moved up there yet, and were still in California.  Richard and Kathy were married the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and my mom had flown down for the wedding.  Generally we have Thanksgiving at Ted’s parents house, but we decided that year to have Thanksgiving at our apartment in San Francisco.  Kathy asked what she could bring, and I don’t remember if she brought pie or something else, but I do remember that she brought cranberry sauce.  It was a revelation. SO good.  Not overly sweet.  Fresh tasting.  I begged her for her recipe, and she looked at me, stunned.  “It’s on the back of the bag”, she said.  “1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, cranberries….cook over medium heat until the cranberries pop.  Chill.  That’s it.”   I think she felt that day about the same as she did when she told Richard they were going to make mashed potatoes, and he grabbed the box of powdered potatoes, while she grabbed fresh potatoes from the produce aisle.

Ever since that year, I’ve made this version of cranberry sauce, with a few exceptions.  One year I tried a savory version, which I did not care for.  One year I added a pinch of salt, which was fine but not really any different.  This year, for Canadian Thanksgiving in October, I tried a new recipe.  I don’t know what motivated me to do so, but I did.  It’s very similar to the one on the cranberry bag, but has less liquid.  You start out over low heat with the sugar, cranberries, and only 2 tblsp of water instead of a cup.  When the sugar dissolves, you have plenty of liquid, so then you turn up the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries pop.  I found the recipe on Food Network, and they added a strip of orange peel, which I don’t fancy.  Some commenters used 2 tblsp OJ instead of water.  Result?  A lovely cranberry sauce!  Not adding as much water gives you more concentrated cranberry flavor.  Also, I used a bit less than a cup of sugar.  Maybe more than 3/4 of a cup, I’m not exactly sure.  Delicious. So this is the cranberry sauce recipe that I’m making for today’s Thanksgiving feast.

I’ll be thinking of Kathy, and thanking her for introducing me to fresh cranberry sauce.  I’ll be thinking of my mom and all of the years when she would come to California for a month, and Thanksgiving was during that time and she would spend a week with us.  I wish we were able to do that this year.  I’ll be thinking of my grandma and how much I love her, even if a visit with her means coming home smelling like cigarettes.  I’ll be thinking of my grandpa and how much I loved him, even if he was a mean old man.  I’ll be enjoying a lovely day of delicious, freshly made food, laughter, music, wine, and fun with our new dog, at Ted’s parents house.  I do have a lot to be thankful for.  (I considered changing that to the more gramattically correct, “I do have much for which to be thankful” but I don’t like it, so I didn’t.)

I’m also making my Grandma’s fruit salad, sweet potato pudding, and as an appetizer, shrimp cocktail.

If you’ve not tried fresh cranberry sauce, or if you have only tried the version with 1 whole cup of water, give this one a try.  It’s delicious.

Cranberry Sauce
Ingredients:

12 0z cranberries (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tblsp water or orange juice
1 strip orange or lemon zest, optional

Directions:

Put all ingredients into a saucepan.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Avo Bagel
Look at that awesome breakfast. Bagel, toasted, with avocado and lemon pepper. That’s it. So delicious. Served with OJ and tea (PG Tips, a bit of milk and sugar). One nice thing about Facebook is that some people post pictures of their food, and you can choose to be inspired by their pictures. I’m not sure I would have come up with this combination on my own, so thank you Facebook!

Then there’s this…the Gluten Free Museum. Famous paintings, with any offending gluten removed. Click the link to see more awesomeness.

Are you a fan of the ‘Little House’ books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder? If so, and if you like knowing the background behind these fictional books, I recommend the newly released “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography“. It’s an amazing amount of research into almost every detail of Wilder’s unpublished autobiography, “Pioneer Girl”. Wilder first put her memories down and tried to publish them as “Pioneer Girl”, which is the story of her early life. The story is not written for children, and has some darker elements than the ‘Little House’ stories. The decision was made that the stories would better be told as children’s books, and Laura and her daughter Rose worked through the same material, and they turned into the ‘Little House’ stories that we all know and love. The difference between reality and fiction is sometimes jarring. That she had a little brother, who died as an infant, I knew. That the infamous Nellie Oleson was a composite of several girls in Laura’s youth, I knew. But that Jack, Laura’s beloved brindle bulldog and constant companion, was actually given away when Laura was 4…that was too much for me, and I thought I was going to have to breathe into a paper bag to keep from passing out.

If you’re looking for a good book to read, I really enjoyed ‘The Precious One‘, by Marisa de los Santos. I’ve read a couple of her other books, and I really enjoy them. They’re light enough to be an easy read, but I love her writing and her lovely use of language.  Without giving anything important away, this is the story of Taisy and Willow, sisters 18 years apart in age.  They share the same father, who is imperious and overwhelming and towers above their lives. They’ve only met once before, when Willow was a baby, when Taisy comes to stay for a short time at the request of their father.  Taisy is determined to find answers to how her father turned out to be the man he is, the kind of man who would leave her, her mother, and brother, and start over with a new wife and daughter.  Willow is focused on her dislike and jealousy of Taisy, and trying to navigate the treacherous waters of High School, after a life of being home schooled.

Ted and I went to see ‘Wild Tales‘, which was in town for about 15 minutes.  We’re fortunate that there’s one theater in town that plays independent and foreign films. I knew nothing about the movie going in, except that I wasn’t interested in any other movies that were playing, and that it was a foreign film. It’s a series of stories with a common theme, and that’s all I will say. Also, fairly dark, but not horrific, and pretty laugh out loud funny in some parts. Ted thought one woman in the audience was going to choke, she was laughing so hard. I’ll be watching for it to come to Netflix or something, so I can see it again.

Whew.   Now you’re all caught up.  I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted…I blame my iPad.  I don’t really like the WordPress app on it, so I get frustrated and don’t bother.  For this post, I pulled out my old laptop.  I should do this more often, clearly. I’ll leave you with the knowledge that Maya is now 19, and that we had a lovely weekend celebrating. Also, if you like to laugh, go look at this.

KISS and Brussels Sprouts


Back when Ted was a kid, he was a fan of rock divas, KISS. How appropriate then, that this long lost Folgers commercial appears online, at around the same time that Ted decides to make me Brussels sprouts for my birthday dinner. Watch the video, it’s too funny. I guess it was filmed in 2000, but never aired. I like how into the song he is.

Ted and Maya are not fans of Brussels sprouts, and Ted hates dried fruit in general, but for some reason even he really liked this recipe. Maya ate 1/2 of one Brussels sprout, and declared it not bad, but not something that she would actually order on purpose. If you’re at all a fan of Brussels sprouts, give this a try. It’s delicious. For my birthday, it was served with a wonderful roast duck, mashed potatoes, and delicious tarts that Ted purchased at our local store.

RECIPE: BRUSSELS SPROUTS À LA STANLEY

Serves: 6
INGREDIENTS

Brussels sprouts
Prosciutto, cut into half-inch pieces
Dried cherries
Hot pepper flakes
Aged balsamic vinegar
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt to taste
Zest of one lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

First of all, don’t measure out the ingredients. I don’t stress about that kind of thing. Cut a nice amount of Brussels sprouts in half and set aside, whether or not you even like Brussels sprouts. These are off-the-hook delicious. Steam until a little soft.
Next, fry the prosciutto in olive oil until soft. Remove for later.

Put the steamed Brussels sprouts into the pan and brown, turning frequently.

Add dried cherries (I use Mariani) into the pan and cook with the Brussels sprouts. Add the cooked prosciutto and hot pepper flakes.

Stir in high-quality, aged balsamic vinegar. Add enough to coat all ingredients. Don’t be shy.

Add cheese and salt to taste.

Serve in a large bowl and top with lemon zest.

Still Alive

Still Alive
Yes, I’m still alive. I know, it’s been awhile. I hate writing that at the beginning of a blog post, but somehow, I find myself doing it more and more often. Today I took a few minutes and looked at blogs that I link to from my blogroll. So many of them are defunct, or might as well be. Last post in 2011, 2012, 2013. I should clean them up, move them out. But I don’t use an RSS reader or anything like that. My way of checking to see if you have a new blog post is to click my link, and go look. So I keep them. I want to see if some of you come back to blogging. Who knows…it could happen.

As is often the case when a household consists of two adults and a teen, most of the news around here is about the teen. Let’s see. Well, in one crappy week, she was in her first car accident, and had her first flat tire. Thankfully, the car accident was a tiny fender bender, and no one was hurt. Of course, nowadays a tiny fender bender still means a new bumper, new grill, etc. It wasn’t her fault, so the other insurance company paid for the repairs. Perhaps she could have avoided the accident if she had been paying closer attention, perhaps not. She was parking, and the other driver backed out of a parking place and into the front of our car. She didn’t see it coming, because she was looking into another row for a place there. So I’m glad she learned the lesson of paying better attention now, and in a safe place without getting hurt. Sadly, part of the lesson was that people can be jerks, as the woman who hit her got out of the car and yelled at her. The flat tire came the next week. Don’t know what she hit, or if maybe it was just the tire’s time. What she didn’t know was what a flat tire felt like, so she continued driving, wanting to get home. Bad move, but again, we were lucky and her driving on a flat didn’t cause any damage to the wheel. So…she’s learned a few things about auto stuff lately.

Also, she had her first opportunity to vote! We had a tiny little special election here, to renew a bond measure for the local high school district. I was unsure as to WHY they chose to have a mail-in ballot in May, when there is a much larger election scheduled for June, which will surely attract a much larger voting population. We (Ted and I) decided that it must be because they felt like they would get a better, more dedicated vote than they would get from the general public. Whether that was the reason for the strategy or not, it worked, and the bond measure passed. So the local high schools will continue to be well funded.

Which chaps my hide. Don’t get me wrong, I voted for it. I want the schools to be well funded. But it’s frustrating to the nth to me that this is how our schools work. You live in a wealthy enclave, and the people vote to support the schools. Why? Because it’s OUR KIDS. But a vote to support the schools on a larger, state wide, basis? A vote that would make the schools a bit more equal? Hell no. Why would we want to vote to support OTHER PEOPLE’S KIDS? Grrr. I miss the days back when I grew up, when schools were better funded, there was money for things like school buses, art, PE, etc., without having to tap different areas for different amounts of money.

So anyway, she voted, we voted, and the measure passed. That was a mail in election, and the next one will be a walk in election. I have, in the past, requested a mail in ballot, because gosh, it’s just SO DARNED EASY. Deep down, though, I can’t get past the idea that maybe they don’t bother to count those votes. Also, I kind of like the ritual of going into the little ballot box and marking the ballot myself. I liked when we lived in Philly, and you made your selections, then pulled a big lever down that punched holes or something. That was pretty satisfying.

We received news that Maya was awarded a scholarship for $1,000 from Burger King, which is funny because we don’t eat much fast food. I’m the junk food junkie in the house, and I don’t eat it THAT often. I think she’s probably been to BK twice in her life. But anyway, we applied for the scholarship, and she received it, which is great news. $1,000 now will pay for most of a semester’s expenses at a community college, as long as you live at home. Tuition and books. Which brings me back to my earlier point about funding the schools. Back until the mid-80s, community colleges in California were free. Then in 1985, they started charging tuition, which was a flat $50, no matter how many courses or units you took. When I transferred to San Francisco State University, it was about $450 a semester for tuition. My friend Janet transferred from community college to UC Berkeley, and her tuition was a little over $700. So a semester at a community college now is about the cost of a semester at Cal back in the late 80s. Which would be very well and good if wages had gone up that much, but of course they haven’t. Wages are higher, but the minimum wage has about doubled, which college costs have exceeded that at an alarming rate. She’s applied for a few more scholarships, and we’re hoping to get her next semester’s fees paid for as well. If we can avoid dipping into the little bit of savings that we have until she goes to a four year as a JR, that would be great.

Which brings me to my next thought. Really, a brag. The same week as her AP test, I found another local scholarship I thought she should apply for. One that required her to write 2 very short essays, get letters of recommendation, and have a resume. Being the quick turnaround time (2 days), I offered to write the resume for her, as she’s never done one for herself, and she had the AP exam to study for. I’m impressed. There are surely kids who have done more, and kids who have done less. But she’s an AP Scholar with a strong GPA, is a member of 3 clubs at her school (for 2 of them, she’s co-president), she’s been a cheerleader, in the school choir, and on the school paper. She’s volunteered over and over again (mostly through Girl Scouts) to wonderful organizations that help children, animals, and adults in rough times. I wish my resume had looked like that at her age. Mine was more like, “Two years at Mr. Steak, three years in the Dungeons and Dragons club, crappy GPA, decent test scores”. So yes, I’m proud.

Along with the end of High School (she graduates June 13th) comes the Senior Ball next weekend, and the end of Girl Scouts. She’s been involved for 10 years now, and I am so glad that she joined, and that she stuck with it for this long. The troop has dwindled down to 5 girls, and they don’t see each other or keep in touch the way they once did. But they’re still close, and have shared wonderful experiences. They have put in a lot of time, volunteering, camping, working on badges. I hope they are forever friends, even if that means the kind of friends who keep in touch online only, once in awhile. They’re all great girls, doing wonderful things with their lives, and I’m proud of them all. This next chapter will be an exciting one for them indeed.

My life? Not as exciting, but still pretty good. We went to Stockton a few weeks ago to celebrate my Great-Aunt’s 90th birthday. My Great-Aunt, who was in the delivery room with my mom when I was born. She took me on a trip with her and her daughter in the late 70s. We drove through Yosemite (drought, so no waterfalls), up to Tahoe, and had a great time. She loaned me money to pay that first $450 tuition check at San Francisco State, because my mom had no money and I had blithely moved out, gone out on my own with no money to my name, trusting that all would work out. Somehow it did. My roommate’s father loaned us money for first/last/security deposits. My great Aunt payed my tuition. My friend’s parents let me sleep on their sofa until we had our apartment, and while I started my job and got money for school books. Looking back, I can’t believe I got away with it.

I have a new computer for work. I love it. It’s faster, and a newer operating system. What I like the most about it is that it’s a laptop, which means when it gets hot here, I can work downstairs where it’s much cooler. My office is in the bedroom, which is upstairs and gets full on afternoon sun, which is lovely in the cold of winter, and fine until the temps get to be about 85 or 90. Once it’s 90 degrees outside, and 3:00 or so with the sun beating through the window full force, it gets to be about 80 downstairs, and I don’t know how much hotter upstairs, but I start sweating while at my desk, which I DO NOT LIKE. I don’t like turning on the A/C when the sun is hitting that room, it feels like it’s fighting a losing battle. I’d prefer to wait until the sun goes down, and then turn on the A/C if need be to cool the bedroom down enough for sleep. Now, when I’m upstairs, I have a docking station for the laptop, which means a huge monitor (good for my aging eyes), a full sized keyboard, and a mouse. Downstairs, I can bring all of that if I really want to, or I can just bring the laptop down with me. It’s great.

This coming weekend, my parents are coming for a very quick visit. They live in Portland. My step-mom is a big wig in the yoga community, and owns a very successful yoga studio there. One of the museums in SF has an exhibit about the birth of yoga, so they’re coming down on Friday, seeing the exhibit on Saturday, going home on Sunday. Maya’s Senior Ball is Saturday night, so we’re not available that day, but we will go into the City and have dinner with them Friday night. I’m excited to try the fancy French restaurant where we have a reservation, and of course I’m excited to see them.

That seems like enough for now. I did try a nice sausage and polenta recipe the other day that I may share soon, and we might go to a movie for Mother’s Day tomorrow. If we see something worth seeing, I’ll let you know.

My Happy News


I won an iPad Mini on the NaBloPoMo/BlogHer website! Isn’t that excellent news? I feel like I never win anything, though that’s not true.

  1. I won the lotto once, though not big. I won $96, which was pretty exciting. Safeway is smart to let you cash in your winning ticket there, because yeah, I spent my money on groceries.
  2. I was picked out of the audience at Marine World, Africa U.S.A, when I was in the 5th grade. I was called up front, and got to pet a cheetah, which was pretty awesome. When they picked me, they called on my for my bright yellow (sunflower yellow) sweater. I then decided that was my lucky sweater, and I wore it every day. When it was too full of holes to wear anymore, I just tied it around my waist and wore it that way. I loved that cheetah.
  3. I won a contest at work, where the person to give out the most coupons for the hotel restaurant (and have them redeemed) within an allotted period of time, received dinner for 2, or $100 towards dinner for 2, I don’t remember which. I won that one over and over again, because I loved the restaurant, so I was good at selling it.
  4. I won Employee of the Month (twice), while at the hotel. That was great, because the prize was $100 cash, plus a nice lunch to honor all of the nominees.
  5. Several years ago, in the heyday of blogging (or perhaps, MY heyday of blogging), I was picked as a Top 100 Mom Blogger, which was pretty darned exciting.  I had a little badge on my blog for it, but when I changed my blog theme, it went away.  I don’t do badges anymore.  Not because I don’t respect the thought and effort, but because I’m lazy.  I’m just NOT one of those top 100 mommy bloggers anymore.
  6. I won a homemade music CD from Greeblemonkey, which was pretty great, and I really enjoyed being introduced to some of the artists I hadn’t heard of before.
  7. I won a book on another blog, but now I can’t even think of what the book was.

I was thinking I’d make this a Thursday 13, but it’s Wednesday, and I can’t think of more things I’ve won, unless you count various blogging awards. Allow me to tell you HOW I won the lovely new iPad Mini. A few weeks ago, I decided to participate in NaBloPoMo. In years past, I have sometimes officially signed up on their website, in the hopes of perhaps luring a few readers over to my blog. I tried this again, and gave my blog title and url at the official website. I haven’t gotten any new readers, but I also haven’t gone over and posted there, I just added my name to their linky list.If you haven’t guessed already, from the picture above, there’s a little contest involved in participating (officially) with NaBloPoMo and BlogHer. There are 2 possible prizes…either tickets to attend the BlogHer conference, or an iPad Mini. Since I don’t really want to go to BlogHer, I don’t have money to fly and pay for hotels, etc., and I don’t currently own an iPad, I was THRILLED and surprised to receive an email saying that I have won an iPad Mini! Yay! I’ve confirmed that it’s valid, and I should be receiving my new iPad Mini any day now. Pretty exciting.

My first thoughts were, who should I give it to for Christmas? I’ll bet Maya would love an iPad Mini. Ted’s been kind of wanting an iPad. But they both have smart phones, which are almost the same thing. So I decided that I’m going to keep it for myself. They can use it, of course, because I’m nice like that.

A Tale of Two Nurses


I’ve been fortunate enough in my own life thus far that I have seldom needed the help of a nurse. Not that nurses are bad, but often you find them in hospitals, and I’m fortunate to have only been in hospital myself when I had Maya.

I was reminded of two nurse stories by two different comments on Facebook, by two friends who do not know each other, neither of whom I’ve met in real life. One is a bloggy friend of mine, who commented that Karma is real, and we need just wait for it to catch up with us. The other is Kelli, who was an online friend of my mom’s, though she is younger than me. Kelli is going to nursing school, and posted a story about a kind and caring nurse.

Both of my stories are from my mom’s hospitalizations. Once in 2005, when she had her hysterectomy, and before she had started blogging. The other was in 2008, when she had her bypass surgery.

My mom was borderline diabetic, meaning she treated it with diet, and did not need to be on insulin. I know that when you are in the hospital, they give diabetics insulin to shore up your body against the stress of what you’re going through, even if you handle it OK with diet at home. When she was in the hospital in Sacramento for her hysterectomy, one day they brought her french toast for breakfast. She was trying to be conscious about her diet, and asked if they didn’t have something with less sugar, something that a diabetic might be better off eating. The nurse disappeared for about 45 minutes, and then came back with a packet of oatmeal, which she gave my mom. No bowl. No water. No spoon. No earthly way to eat it, unless she was supposed to open the packet and pour it into her mouth dry. Now, I do know that it was not the nurse’s job to get her oatmeal. It was not the nurse’s fault that food services were bringing sweets to diabetics. But perhaps she could have been kinder. She could have told my mom that she wasn’t able to get her anything else. She could have ignored her. But a dry packet of empty oatmeal with no way to eat it? That’s just stupid.

Then there was the nurse in Anchorage, when my mom had her bypass. I was staying at the hotel next to the hospital, and I didn’t have a car. I asked my mom’s nurse if there was a place within walking distance where one might buy a few things, the most important of which was hair spray. It was cold Alaska February weather, and I was willing to walk, but not more than necessary. She asked when I needed it, and I said, tomorrow maybe. She brought me a care package the next day…she had stopped at the store on her way to work, and brought me hair spray, a magazine, some chocolate and pretzels. She let me pay for the hair spray, but nothing else. I was so touched by her kindness, it almost made me cry. When my mom was out of surgery, but not awake, and the doctor told me it might be weeks or months before she woke up (because of the condition of her lungs), this nurse is the one I turned to for a consoling hug.

And a third nurse, while we’re talking about it. The day I left Alaska to come home, with my mom semi-conscious but not awake, still intubated, I stopped to see her before my flight. I was miserable at leaving her like that, and wished I could stay longer. Had I known she would be awake the following day, I would have changed my flight, but I had been there for 2 weeks already, and with an indefinite time of unconscious ahead of me, I couldn’t stay. I asked her nurse what time I should leave in order to get to the airport to make my flight, and she offered to drive me to the airport, as she was getting off of work at the time I needed to leave, and lived near there. I accepted her offer, and she got me there quickly and would not take my offer of money for gas.

I am sure the oatmeal nurse has had many kind days behind her in her practice of nursing. I am sure the two in Alaska have perhaps been less kind than they later wished they had been. We all have our up days and down days. But the oatmeal story still makes me mad, and the hairspray and airport ride stories both still make me feel the kindness that was given those difficult days.

Under the Table


No, not drinking someone under the table. Napping under the table. When I was a kid, I loved to nap. I still love to nap. Now, my favorite napping place is on my sofa with my cozy napping blanket, or maybe on my bed. But when I was a kid, I loved to nap under things. Especially under tables. It felt so cozy, like a little cave, and if there were a party going on, I could hear the adults laughing and talking, and just soak it up until I dozed off. I know, I’m weird. I once fell asleep under a piano on a river boat*, and didn’t wake up when someone started playing it. So when I saw this picture on FB today, I had to share here.

*The link is to a post I did back in early 2008, about my life in Fairbanks. Perhaps one of my most favorite posts to go back and read, actually. And look, there’s a comment from my mom…just a week before she went into the hospital. I like seeing those comments.

Meals on Wheels Update

I’m sure you’ve all been tossing and turning in your sleep, worried about Dana, the sweet woman on my Meals on Wheels route who was bumped from the program because she’s not in such dire straits as some of the others on the waiting list.  Well, encouraged by you, my faithful commenters, I went back to her house this week with an extra meal* that I had, and while I was there I dropped off a flyer that I had in the car about the Senior Center, where I pick up the meals for delivery.  They serve lunches on weekdays to seniors, and payment is voluntary for those who can afford it.  Dana does have a car (which is what bumped her from MoW delivery) but she’s not really comfortable with grocery shopping and cooking and all of that.  Her neighbor, Sandy, was also bumped from the program.  So when I got home, I called Dana and gave her Sandy’s contact information.  She told me that she had been thinking about what I said, and that she is considering giving it a try.  I do hope they get in touch and go together sometimes.  I think it would be easier to go to a new place if you had someone with you.  I’m not thrilled with this solution, because, selfishly, I liked seeing Dana every Thursday.  She’s a sweet woman.  But I do feel better, and I won’t worry quite so much about them now.

*Seems like I have a lot of extra meals, no?  Happens sometimes.  Last week it was because we were giving out frozen meals for Veterans’ Day, and one woman didn’t want hers; this week it was because one of the people on my route wasn’t home.  She’s been on hospice care for awhile now, pretty miserable, bedridden, not enjoying her meds.  I like her a lot.  I don’t know what I wish for her.  Release, or that I’ll get to see her again.

A Recommendation…


(picture found here)

Ted’s doing a radio/video show called American Liberal, on TRadioV.com, and at the end of the show, they (he and his co-host) give a recommendation…sometimes it’s a book, sometimes it’s an album, sometimes it’s a life thing.  This last episode, Ted recommended an overnight getaway.  I agree wholeheartedly.

Maya went to Los Angeles (Orange, actually) last week, and Ted and I had 4 days together in between her leaving and coming back. She had fun with her cousin, went to look at some colleges, went to the beach and looked at the Stars on the Hollywood walk of fame.

While she was gone, Ted and I did some work (boring), but we also went on an overnight away to Santa Cruz. We haven’t gone on any kind of vacation at all in quite awhile. When you have an old blind dog who needs 12 or more pills a day, plus tends to give you about 15 minutes warning before she craps up the house, you don’t leave town. Too cruel to take her with you, because she’s blind. Too cruel to leave her behind, because she’ll crap up someone else’s house. Between that and the month-to-month of our finances, vacations aren’t as often as we would like them to be.

Way back when, in 1983, I saw The Fixx at Day on the Green, at the Oakland Colosseum. It was the beginning of my Jr/Sr year of High School (I graduated in 3 years), and I was feeling like I had my whole life ahead of me. Which, duh, you do. By the way, that was an amazing concert…Oingo Boingo, Madness, Thompson Twins, The Fixx, and The Police. So I was excited to see them again.

Ted worked a bit on Friday morning…I went for a swim. Then we went to lunch at a delicious and somewhat fancy restaurant in our area, Bridges (remember the restaurant from Mrs. Doubtfire?), and then drove down to Santa Cruz. Back when I was in my early 20s, I used to sometimes go to a place in Santa Cruz called “Cooper House”, with my friends. They had some killer rum drinks. It first turned into a nasty crepe place, which I think doomed it. Then it was destroyed in the 1989 earthquake. Anyway, I like that neighborhood, though it’s gone through a lot of changes since I spent any time at all there in 1986. So we walked around, looked at the shops (some chain stores, some independent…several thrift shops with used clothing), enjoyed ourselves. Then we went to the Boardwalk, and talked about fond memories of our childhoods going on the rides, though neither of us wanted to go on them anymore. I have to say, I’d rather go to Santa Cruz than to Disneyland any day of the week and twice on Sundays. The rides aren’t necessarily as good as Disneyland, but the ocean is RIGHT there. You don’t pay to get in, only to ride. There are decent restaurants right on the pier, in easy walking distance. The lines aren’t NEARLY as long. The smell of salt water is in the air. And while there’s no chance of running into Donald Duck or Ariel while you’re walking around, there are cave people on the sky ride. In the summers, they have free concerts there on the beach. Not top name acts, clearly, because the venue can only handle a couple of hundred people, who bring their own chairs or towels and sit on the sand.

So we were there to see The Fixx, who were amazingly great. They were as good as back in 1983, and I suspect that if I’ve aged, they have as well. And I have. They had two shows, and we stayed to see both, which was a good thing, because they played two separate sets, with different songs. Their new album, Beautiful Friction is really good. Really good. I really enjoyed hearing the songs. But when I heard the songs from the early 80s, I LOVED that even more. At one point, when they were playing Red Skies, I remember thinking, “Oh, the Police are next!” Crazy, huh? It’s been almost 30 years. After the concert, we went to dinner (fastish food, since it was after 10 and not much was open).

On Saturday, we decided to go to see 2 Days in New York, which I’ve been wanting to see, but isn’t in our town yet. I’m not sure if it will make it here. So we went to Berkeley, and then came home after that.

We were gone maybe 30 hours total. It was so nice, so relaxing, just to get away a bit. From home. From work. From responsibilities. From so many things that we actually cherish. I’m with Ted. I recommend it. Highly.

Bloggy Friendships

Me and Heidi
There are different relationships in blogging. There are people whose goal it is to get as many comments as they can get (and there’s a hint of that desire in all of us, I suspect), so they go out and leave tons of comments everywhere. They do Wordless Wednesday and Book Reviews and all sorts of things where you leave your link so others can find you, and hopefully leave a comment. There is nothing wrong with this kind of blogging. I’ve participated in Wordless Wednesday and Book Review blogs myself, and really enjoyed it. But for me, that’s not where the lasting relationships, the real online friendships, are born. The online friendship requires a bigger commitment, and comes from finding someone who touches you in some way, with their writing, their humor, their story. Sometimes it’s all of these things, sometimes less. I do know that I’ve made some real friends here, people that I genuinely care about and miss when they go away. Sometimes they drop off of the face of the earth, and you realize, you weren’t really friends after all. Sometimes, they stop blogging, but you end up being friends somewhere else, like Facebook.

Heidi is such a friend. I don’t remember when I found her blog, or if she found me first, or how it came about. I know we have a few blogs in common, and that she knows my blog friend Chrissy in person. Heidi doesn’t really blog anymore, but she did for several years, and I loved reading about her life in Hong Kong. Her life with her mother, her teaching, her parties and thoughts on the party lifestyle of a certain set in H.K., her aspirations to be a singer (she has a lovely voice, and tons of heart, which is a deadly combination…I mean that in the best way…deadly in that it gets straight to the listeners heart). She came to my blog often, and left long, thoughtful comments. I went to her blog and did the same. Well, the other day, she said something on Facebook about being at Swan Oyster Depot, and I thought, “Wait, that’s in San Francisco!” And lo and behold, she is here! She came to see a friend with a new baby, and to connect with other friends, and to attend the Outlands Festival in Golden Gate Park. Happily, she and her friend Ken (who also knows Chrissy in person) were available to have brunch with me today. YAY! Really, you only have a few days in San Francisco, and you made time to see ME? I love that, and am so grateful.

So I drove into the City, blissfully cool and crisp after the 100 degree heat here, a mere 40 miles away, and we went to the Cliff House for lunch. The Cliff House is one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants, though it’s changed a lot since I first went there. It has been there since 1863, and has had many incarnations. But the food is consistently good (not as good this time as the last time I went, I think, but still very good), and the view of the ocean, right there outside of your window, is truly lovely. You can watch the waves crashing on the rocks, watch the surfers hoping for a wave, watch the seagulls swooping and flying around. It’s relaxing. So we stopped there and had a lovely meal, and got to know each other in person. When you meet someone in person, whom you’ve only known online, there’s always that brief fear, what if…what if they are different in person than they are online? What if I don’t like them? What if they don’t like me? What if we just don’t have anything to say to each other? Always a fear, but it’s not happened yet. I’ve met a couple of blog friends in the past, and they’ve quickly become real life friends. Heidi was like this for me. I felt that I knew her, and she and Ken were both so warm and real, that I was very comfortable right away. I don’t know when we’ll see each other again, since she lives in Hong Kong, and I live in Walnut Creek, and Ken lives in Toronto. But I hope we do get together again sometime. Perhaps in L.A. Chrissy, want to come along?

Monday Randomness

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Last week was Ted and my 19th wedding anniversary (link is to Ted’s blog, where you can see a slideshow if you’re interested….we look so YOUNG to me). It seems so strange that so many years have gone by, and yet I still sometimes feel 27. But then I look at my pictures, at my face in the mirror, and I think, oh yeah, I’m not 27 anymore. Oh well. We had a lovely day.

We started off by driving to Muir Woods for a hike, with a pit-stop in Sausalito for sandwiches. We saw a segment on Check, Please, Bay Area about a deli counter in a little market, Davey Jones Deli, and we thought we’d get sandwiches there. All I can say is, YUM. Perhaps the best sandwich I’ve ever had. The ingredients were so obviously made with care, obviously the best possible quality, extremely fresh, all of that. Also, quite innovative. I had the porkberrywich, which is seasonal and not on their menu, and consists of pulled pork, strawberries, raspberries, maybe some mustard in there, and Cole Slaw sans mayo, on a dutch crunch roll. Really, really good. Ted had the Cuban, which was (clipped from their website) ‘Pulled Pork, Ham, Turkey, & Cheese with plenty Irish Mustard, Pickle & Pepperoncini, Fresh Jalapeno, Lemon, & Cilantro, Lettuce, Tomato, & Onion with Roast Garlic & Red Pepper Sauces on a Po’ Boy Roll.’ Maya went traditional, and had a tuna salad sandwich. She wasn’t as impressed as Ted and I were. I think she liked it OK, but she’s loyal to Morucci’s sandwiches, closer to home. I’ll be diplomatic, and say that if you’re in the Walnut Creek/Lafayette area (aka, the wrong side of the tunnel), go to Morucci’s, but if you’re anywhere near Sausalito, go to Davey Jones Deli. It was pricey, sandwiches were $12 or $13 each, maybe a bit more. Three sandwiches, three drinks, one small bag of chips, $42. But you could taste the quality, so I felt like it was money well spent.
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Then we moved on to Muir Woods, which was packed with people. Tourists galore. We heard people speaking Italian, German, French, Hindi, and English in many accents, Southern, South African, British. I could have done without the crowds, but the trees are beautiful. It’s such a peaceful, beautiful place. The coastal valleys of California used to be populated with these old growth redwoods, but most of them were cleared for the wood, and for houses. Luckily, people were thinking ahead a bit, and saved this beautiful place. After hiking for a couple of hours, we made our way back to the car for the ride home.
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Once we got home, Ted and I wanted to go out to a celebratory Anniversary dinner. Maya didn’t really want to go, which was fine with all of us. It was nice to spend family time together, and then have couple time together in the evening. So I made her a grilled cheese sandwich and some fruit for dinner, then Ted and I went out to one of our favorite local spots, Chevalier. Our favorite part of our honeymoon was in Paris, so we often try to have French food for our anniversary. I went all cheese, with a cheese plate appetizer and stuffed squash blossoms for my entree, which was delicious, but I don’t think I’d do all cheese again. Pretty rich stuff. The squash blossoms are something I’ve seen made on TV a few times, and had vowed to try if I ever saw it on a menu. These were stuffed with goat cheese, and very yummy. Ted started with a salad, and then moved on to a skirt steak. He really enjoyed it. It was a lovely anniversary.

Chevalier
On a more somber note, I went to Stockton that Saturday. I have a friend, Helene, whose lovely 18 year old daughter, Bronte, passed away from complications of Cerebral Palsy and Pneumonia. Helene and I are not close friends, we have not kept in touch over the years, I had never met Bronte, but when I heard of her loss, I wanted to be there for her. I came away wishing that I had met her. Everyone who met her talked about her wonderful, joyous spirit. She will be greatly missed by many people. Mostly, of course, her broken hearted parents. I cannot imagine anything worse.

Also while in Stockton, I stopped to see my Grandma, who hasn’t been feeling well as of late. I was dismayed and shocked to see that she has lost quite a bit of weight. She’s always been a tiny woman, so she didn’t have anything to lose. She looks to weigh about 90 lbs, she’s weak and tired. She needs to eat more, to give herself the strength the get better. She has no appetite. She eats two or three bites, and loses interest. Why does it seem to always come down to food? With my mom, who couldn’t eat, and lost 60 lbs in her last few months. She had the weight to lose, but you can’t really live on your fat, your body needs nutrition. With Genevieve, who didn’t eat much, who had to be coaxed. It’s so stressful. So now the thing is to try to get my Grandma eating, hopefully nutritious foods with lots of calories, but which won’t upset her stomach. The other thing to do, which is amazingly difficult, is to try to accept that perhaps this is the beginning of her decline, and that she may not be with us forever. I don’t want to accept that in the least. I love her so much. She means the world to me. But she’s suffering right now, and I don’t want that, either. Sigh. I feel worried. Last night my dreams were of ideas for fattening foods that I might get her to eat. Not very restful.

What else…we saw another really good movie a few weeks ago, Safety Not Guaranteed. It’s about a magazine intern who’s covering a story for her magazine; a man has put an add in the paper, that he’s looking for someone to time travel with him. Safety not guaranteed. So she pretends to be interested in his theories of time travel, and to be willing to go back in time with him, in order to root out the story. Quirky and wonderful, and ultimately quite touching.

Maya has finally gotten Ted and me hooked on Game of Thrones. She’s been trying for awhile. We don’t get HBO, but for some reason it’s working on OnDemand right now. I have no idea why, but we’re enjoying it. We just finished Season 1 last night. Wowee.

Maya took her first AP class this year, AP European History. She got her test results on Friday, and she got a 5! Wow, amazing stuff. The scale is 1 – 5, and many colleges give credit if you get a 3 or above. She was hoping for a 3. Nicely done. She’s also doing swim team this summer, in a very casual, rec-team sort of way, which means she goes to practice every day, but only goes to the meets that she feels like attending. Fine with us. She has already shaved 6 or 7 seconds off of her time from the beginning of the season. She came to the sport late, starting last year at the age of 15, when you swim 100 meters, and most of the kids had been swimming for at least 5 or 6 years, some more.

Ted’s still looking for work. I’m enjoying having him around the house. He’s sleeping well and getting a lot of time in following his favorite hobby, road biking. Nothing like free time to let you improve your health and bike condition, huh? Unemployment isn’t so bad, really, except for the lack of a paycheck. So he’s keeping his contacts and applies for a variety of things. There are a couple of possibilities out there. Keep your fingers crossed for something GOOD to come along very soon.