Obligatory Cat Photo

January 4th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink


Cat perched atop the divider screen. Now that has got to be uncomfortable.

Janus

January 3rd, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink


These ceramic heads reside in the pigeonhole cubbies of an old hotel mail shelf which hangs in my dining room. I like the sense of past and present and future, looking forward to a new start of the year.

As I approach 65 in 2009, it’s really hard to keep from looking back and getting mired down in reviewing all my past mistakes. Especially when I have never been more aware than I am now that there are few or no chances for making some things right or opportunities for do overs.

Instead, I try to remind myself that it does no good to look back and regret, because, if I do that, I might miss the good, new and interesting things that are happening now.

Focus forward. My motto for 2009.

Plan Ahead

January 2nd, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Another doll head photo. This one taken at my studio. She sits in a cubby waiting for me to find a use for her. All of the items you see in the photo were in the cubby originally, arranged as you see them. The doll head sitting on top of the plan ahead sign. When I realized what the sign said, I just pulled it forward so that the words were more visible.

I have a lot of doll parts hanging around my studio. I bought several hundred, arms legs torsos and heads in a lot at an auction a number of years ago. Every once in a while I look through them and take out some parts thinking that I will actually make art out of them or use them in a collage or something like that. Usually it never goes much farther then that. I end up setting them down in various places and forgetting about them.

As I mentioned before in this post about the lobster party, my studio is filled with various collections of stuff/junk, some of which I think I might use in art projects, or whatever. For the time being the catacombs of doll parts are stacked away in one corner of the studio, just another reminder of my folly.

I suppose photographing them could count as using them. Hmmm… I sense a theme.

Caged

January 1st, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Many years ago my friend gave me this chalk-ware baby head. I immediately placed it in the birdcage where it has been hanging amongst the plants ever since.

She always catches people by surprise. When they come into the living room they don’t immediately notice her hidden behind the Shefflera, like the wallflower that she is, yearning to be free. Maybe this will be her year.

New Year’s Eve

December 31st, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

New Year’s Eve is always very quiet around here. At our age are really not up for much partying. As a matter of fact we have never been up for much NYE partying. Most of our New Year’s Eves were spent with kids or grand-kids hanging around. We’d play games or watch movies, and at midnight we would bang on pots and pans. And lot of times it wasn’t really even midnight because we’d often set the clock ahead when the grand kids were little and it was getting close to their real bedtime, tell them it was midnight, do the pot banging and then shuttle them off to bed.

Now the older grand daughters are way too old to come over, one’s a Freshman in college, and the other a Junior in high school; and the youngest, at 2 1/2, is still a little too young for the overnight.

So for the last two years we’ve just gone out to one of our favorite Chinese restaurants for dinner. Sun Wah has Chinese barbecue, ducks and pigs, and ribs and such hanging in the window. Tonight there was also a cuttlefish. But it is probably best known for it’s duck.

We love this restaurant because the food has always been top notch and cheap, even if the ambience leaves a lot to be desired. We always thought of it as one of those undiscovered treasures, a hole in the wall kind of place with great prices and excellent food. But, in the last three years or so, more and more people have discovered it so it’s on the rise.

Part of this is due to food critics finding out about it and part due to the owner’s daughter who graduated from a culinary school couple of years ago. She is now working hard to update the restaurant, adding dishes to the menu, one of which is Beijing duck which has gotten a lot of accolades and publicity. We have not had it yet, but we plan to try it soon. There is a great pod cast with an interview with her and her father, called “Duck School”. You can find it here at Sky Full of Bacon.

If you are in Chicago, you should try Sun Wah now, before it gets more expensive and crowded. That is, if you are not bothered by the complete and total lack of ambience. Or, wait until they move to a new location next Spring.

Sadly, for us, I think our little restaurant is going to land on the map, and their prices will go up and a bazillion people will come and I fear it will not be the same for much longer. While I do wish them the best, selfishly, I still wish it could have remained the little secret it was, especially since we were right in the middle of establishing a new New Year’s Eve tradition. I wonder what the restaurant will be like next New Year’s Eve?

Then again, I imagine next year we may be just as happy to get out the pots and pans to resurrect the old tradition with the new grandchild. And there’s always take-out.

Happy New Year! Oops, did I set the clock forward again?

Fresh Ginger Cake, or Gingerbread

December 28th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

This morning’s ear worm came in to the tune of an old folk song, or sea ditty, What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor? Only, my lyric goes, “What do you do with a crate of ginger?

It was prompted by a post on a forum, regarding a crate of ginger. I have at least one solution. This is the ginger cake which I referred to in the previous post. It requires a cup of finely chopped ginger, and it really is delicious. I got the recipe from the magazine, Everyday Food. I think that is one of Martha Stewart’s enterprises. Here it is.

Fresh Ginger Cake

8 ounces (two 6 inch pieces) fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
2 large eggs
1 Cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup of hot water
Nonstick cooking spray
Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse ginger until finely chopped (or chop by hand). You should have 1 cup.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, molasses, and eggs until smooth. Whisk in butter and 1/3 cup of hot water. Stir in flour mixture just until incorporated, stir in ginger.

Generously coat a nonstick 3 quart Bundt pan with cooking spray. Pour batter into pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool completely, about an hour. Run a knife around edge of cake; then invert onto a plate. Dust cake with confectioners sugar before slicing.

This cake is really good with sweetened whipped cream; it can also be served with minced candied ginger.

I thought the whipped cream was really excellent with it, but the candied ginger is just overkill, if you ask me, because the fresh ginger already gives it such an intense flavor.

Xmas at the ER

December 25th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Today was a bit hectic.¬†Definitely not a day I’d like to relive.

We agreed to watch the downstairs neighbor’s dogs, since we were not having our family over until the 26th. Which would have been fine if the weather had not been so bad. We had a couple of days of very cold weather after the snow, and then we had a brief warm up, during which the snow on the roof of the back stairwell started to melt. Because of flaws in the construction of the walls around the stairwell, the water started dripping in, and then flowing down the walls as the snow melted on the roof. As night fell, the water started to freeze on the stairs.

C. went down to let the dogs out yesterday, and slipped on the bottom flight of stairs. He fell down four steps and hurt his shoulder blade. Other than bruises, he was not too bad, just sore. Then, today, he went down to let them out this morning, and in spite of my suggestion to put salt on those stairs regardless of the fact that they are psuedo-interior stairs, he did not do that as he thought he could manage OK.

So he fell again and got a nasty cut at the base of his little finger where it attaches to the palm. We had to go to the emergency room and have it sewed up. The doctor said that if it had been cut any further around he might have lost his finger. Three hours, eight stitches, and a prescription for powerful antibiotics later, he got sprung. It will probably all be OK, but it’s especially concerning because of his diabetic issues, so we are crossing all uninjured fingers.
 
Kind of put a halt to all preparation for the family gathering tomorrow.

When I got home, I made a ginger cake with fresh ginger. While it was baking, a fuse blew. I didn’t realize the fuse impacted the gas oven, but it did, and when I went to take the cake out, it had fallen so badly that I thought there could be no resurrection. I turned the oven back on anyway and cooked it again, hoping I could save it. I let it cool, and while it could not be served to company because not only did it look like hell, but I could also not get it out of the pan. However, it tasted fabulous, so good, in fact, that I am going to try to find time to squeeze in making another one for tomorrow.

Falling was the mode of the day, and now I am going to fall into bed.

Changing and Re-arranging

December 21st, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

The weather has just been horrible. Snow then slush, then frozen slick ice, then snow then slush, etc. With the wind chill factor, it was supposed to be -25F in some areas today. I believe it. It was bitter when we went out shopping this afternoon.

As I mentioned earlier, our landlord put some new windows in last week. That has kept us busier than we planned to be. Once we moved all the furniture out of the way to accommodate the window installation, and cleaned up the resulting mess, we had the urge to re-arrange all the furniture.

If you had ever been here, you would understand what a daunting task this is. We are collectors, and we own a lot of stuff. Stuff is our downfall; sometimes, literally, when I trip over it, as happens more and more these days. I sometimes wonder if I may have an issue with my peripheral vision but, more likely, I just have too much stuff. I’m pretty sure my death will involve me tripping over something, falling and then being buried among my stuff until my body disintegrates and becomes one with the stuff. One of my fears is that, at any moment in my attempts at stuff acquisition, I may cross the line to become one of those people who needs an Oprah intervention.

Have I used the word stuff way too many times in that last paragraph? Yes. Why? Way too much stuff.

Anyhow, we wanted to grab this opportunity free up some space, especially since the holidays are here, and people will be coming over. More accurately, I had the urge to re-arrange, but C. went along with it in good humor.

We have two desks.

One is huge. An old bankers desk, which has belonged to C. since before I met him long ago. He spent many hours refinishing and restoring it, so I’ve understood his reluctance to sell it, even though it is way too big for the space it occupies. It’s always been his desk which he has been unwilling to share all these years. So we’ve always had another shared desk where the home computer sits. This new opportunity to rearrange became a real milestone, since he actually agreed that we really only need to own one desk, and he was pretty sure that he could adjust to letting me share the big desk.

In fact, he even cleaned a drawer out for me.

So we got rid of the other desk and a table, and managed to open up an area at one end of the room, which can be used as an additional sitting area when people visit.

Of course, I got carried away and also started moving other stuff and cleaning up a lot of other little areas which needed attention, as well. It really turned into a much bigger job than we had in mind, originally. We’ve discovered that, at 64 and 67, it takes a whole lot longer to move furniture than it used to

We had to fit all this in, in between work, which has been unusually busy this year. I’ve been pushing myself to keep up with making things and shipping them quickly. This new busy-ness makes me remember why I hated having a store. When you sell jewelry, you never have time for your own Christmas.

Somehow, though, we managed to do it all as we had the time and energy to work on it. It looks pretty nice, actually, and it will definitely be less crowded in here when the family gathers.

Of course, the best thing about all of this is really that we are very, very grateful to have the new windows, especially with the weather as it is today. The other windows were so loose and leaky that it would have been impossible for me to sit in here today without freezing. We would probably have had to huddle under our down comforter in the bed with the cat.

Now that I’ve written that, I’m thinking maybe that wouldn’t have been such a bad way to spend the day at all. Possibly better than furniture re-arrangeing.

On the other hand, I am now officially part owner of the desk. Took me 31 years.

Peace on Earth

December 17th, 2008 § 1 comment § permalink

Last week we went to the little holiday pageant put on at my two and a half year old grand daughter’s Montessori preschool. The school is associated with a large hospital in the city. The kids that go there reflect the wide variety of ethnic groups who are employed at the hospital. This year, they decided to do an international theme. Everyone participates, from the babies on up.

This year the stage is decorated with the earth, flanked by appropriate flags, representative of the school population.

Initially, it pretty much seems like chaos reigns as they try to marshal all the little ones into their respective groups and get them ready for the performance. Herding cats would be easier, and one wonders how they ever manage to corral all the kid-lets. But, being professionals at child wrangling, they do manage and the show goes on.

The first group includes the very youngest, six months up to around two years, representing Mexico. Basically, they just look cute in their costumes, move around to the music and shake maracas. Some are enthusiastic, some dumbfounded, and some very, very tearful. Mostly they’re just adorable.

The second age group, representing the Philippines, includes my granddaughter, the Papaya. These kids are probably from two and a half to about three and a half, or so. Here, they are walking on stage. (The Papaya is the one hamming it up in the center of the photo.)
Again, adorable. We had it on good authority, that they were going to sing a song in Tagalog. I was skeptical, but they did not disappoint. They did their little best to sing a song which sounds a lot like Happy Birthday in Tagalog, or at least the best approximation to Tagalog which they can manage.
We saw the next group sitting in the Hall in their Korean costumes waiting to go on stage as we left early.
Maybe peace on earth would look a little bit like this pageant, if only people were never taught prejudice and hate.

Happy Holidays, and Peace, from the Papaya.

Empty Brain, Exhausted Body

December 16th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

I am completely out of energy.

All the work we have been doing connected with the window installation and the moving of furniture and the stuff has finally stopped us in our tracks.

I still believe that I am able to do all the same stuff I could do when I was younger. But when I try and push it too far, my body finally rebels and refuses to cooperate anymore.

Last night, when my knee locked up, I think it was a clue that I should stop. But did I take heed? No. This morning when it unlocked, we were back at it rearranging the furniture and moving heavy house plants.

We had to carry a lot of stuff we were getting rid of down two flights of stairs. Then, the snow had to be removed from the car before we could go to work. Next, I had a bunch of jewelry to make to fulfill the Etsy orders.

When the work day was over we were also just about over.

Came home. Fixed and ate dinner and collapsed into my chair. Finally, I forced myself to get up so I could sort out some stuff on the computer and write something here. That’s when I just came to a crashing halt, mentally and physically.

By the time you reach 64 you should know when to quit. And this is it.