July 28, 2010
It is Very Quiet This Morning
This house has been full of happy laughter and lots of visiting lately. It was so much fun to have family here for Christine and Martin's shower. Pat and Patty came from California for several days and Connie came from Portland for the weekend. Charles was here from Hong Kong and Erica, along with Christine and Martin, from Seattle and Jeni and Nicole from Redmond. Allie arrived later in the afternoon from her week at church camp. It is joyous when friends and family can come together again. The house was full and bustling with all the activity towards the shower. Patty was a dynamo and I'm not really sure how things would have come together without her. Pat did more dishes while we were cooking than she has probably done for a whole month. My kitchen continues to surprise me with all the room for so many cooks since I lived so long without that convenience.
I think often of when I will leave this house. I've said that it will be when I can no longer go up and down stairs so easily. In fact, the stairs help to keep me in shape, or at least more agile. But, I will miss the ease of having guests and a bustling hive of activity. This week I have had a lovely visit from friends Peggy and Joe Shuh from Woodland Hills. They were not gone an hour when KJ arrived for a few days. KJ is often on this blog, and is one of my non-related daughters. She is here from Kuala Lumpur to attend a children's writer/illustrator conference in San Francisco and to see friends and family in and around Bellingham. Our immediate destination was the tearoom with the intention of helping to fill her vessel with warm, fuzzy experiences to take back with her to her new, and still foreign, life.
At the moment, I am sitting still in the quiet after all the activity. KJ is off getting her hair cut. It looks a bit breezy outside and a bit cloudy. But, this is the weather that keeps everyone in Bellingham for the summer. It couldn't be more perfect. I have time this morning to read or write or just to sit and contemplate this glorious summer. Next week I am heading to Ashland for the first round of plays. I will see Hamlet, so last night I finished previewing the Brannigan 6 hour version. It was long, but I was rather mesmerized by the ending. I'm in a mellow mood and life is very, very good.
July 24, 2010
Food, Glorious Food!
I have been cooking up a storm. It all began with watering my neighbor's (Millie) yard. She had installed new lawn and I was taking in the mail while they were in Palm Springs. She asked me to turn on the new sprinklers for 10 minutes each. So, I was waiting around between the three sprinklers and decided to see what she had to read. I found The Barefoot Contessa's new cookbook in her kitchen. I loved it so much that I bought it.
Then, I was preparing the food for Christine and Martin's shower. While browsing through another Barefoot Contessa cookbook in Costco I found two interesting recipes for tea sandwiches. One of them had an herb butter to die for! This week I'm into cold soups - different forms of Gazpacho (white and red). Barefoot Contessa had a great traditional tomato recipe and Bette Keller once served a dynamite white one with watercress. The Contessa also provided me with a delicious recipe for herbed potato salad which you then take a step further (next page) and turn into a Nicoise salad . Yummy! Today I'm making Judy Hoover's wild rice salad that I fondly remember eating at her house. I think I'll make a Pimm's Cup to accompany it and sit out on the patio for dinner.
When I feel like really cooking (like trying something new from a cookbook), I need to figure out what to do with all the extra food. Sometimes I can share with kids or friends. Sometimes I can freeze the extra. More often I can just eat the same thing for days on end until I get tired of it and dispose of the rest. I don't know what spurs on these cooking jags - but they are a bunch of fun. I like to cook and I like to eat. I especially like it when someone I know cooks well and I get to eat. But, cooking myself will substitute.
I'm also into making freezer jams - I even bought some more raspberries because the jam we made a few weeks ago is gone. We only made a few pints - but it got inhaled with teens and guests around. So, when you think of me these days (if you think of me at all), picture me in the kitchen. My wonderfully remodeled kitchen -- busy as the proverbial bee.
July 7, 2010
Grandma is out, Gaggy is in
When we had our first grandchild on the way, the Craswells suggested that since we were sharing grandchildren, and since they already had four older grandchildren who called them grammy and gramps, we needed to be something else or we might all get confused. That was fine with us. We became grandma and grandpa. I never had a problem with what my grandchildren called me as long as they said it happily and lovingly which they did until the terrible twos when I was adamant about them behaving.
This went along for a few years when the day came that Allie was in the car with her parents and Don and I were behind them in our car. Allie said to her mother, "I want my papa." Thinking she meant her pacifier, she said that Allie already had her papa. "NO!!" she replied, "I want my PaPa!!!" At that point, she may have pointed to our car but Jeni knew what she meant. And so papa was transformed with a new name. Now it was grandma and papa.
On Sunday, out of the blue, Nico called me Gaggy. We thought it was just a momentary lapse until he has referred to me as Gaggy ever since. He simply started calling me something new. We do not know where it came from or what it refers to, but I am now Gaggy. I don't relish the spelling. I think it should be Gagi or Gaggi or Gaghi or Gaghee -- something a bit more French. But, there it is. Maybe we knew each other in a former life and he just realized that I was using the wrong name.
July 5, 2010
Happy Independence Day!
When you get to be my age, you can look back on many, many July 4ths. One of the most memorable is the day after Dani and Charles's wedding 17 years ago. I can remember that date because Jeni was pregnant with 16 year old Allie. All the wedding guests sat on our back porch, the third day of celebrations, and watched fireworks. There were so many on the porch that I sat at the piano and played patriotic songs while Bellingham Bay, filled with boaters anticipating the display, lit up with the array of light and sound that always seems to fascinate us.
When I was a child, my father always set off the fireworks in front of our house always with sparklers for the children. My son-in-law, Ron, continues in that tradition by setting off quite a display in his back acre in Redmond, WA. Ron and Jeni just hosted their 12th annual 4th of July party yesterday and, hopefully, the final one in their lovely home overlooking the valley since it is on the market to be sold. The weather was not optimum and Dani and Nico and I headed home after the lovely feast. I had offered my house to the Guelker-Cones who had visiting friends from England. When we got home, they had finished their meal and were awaiting the fireworks. Of course, the noise woke up Nico who was thrilled with all the minor celebrations going off in the back alley and all around the bay as a prelude to the city's main attraction. Long after the visitors were gone, Dani and I drove Nico around town to lull him back to sleep. It didn't help that there were fireworks continuing to go off in all the neighborhoods. But, it finally worked around midnight and we returned to get some sleep ourselves.
My granddaughters have happily been around fireworks most of their lives and it seems that Allie has become Ron's assistant pyrotechnician. As Nico excitedly ran around the deck completely captivated with all the excitement last night, Dani and I recalled that James, at the same age, was not as thrilled and wanted to hide in the safety of the house. Even the dogs seemed less scared yesterday, if violent shaking is a measure of their distress.
I have always been patriotic. I love the holiday, I love patriotic songs, I remember learning about our country in elementary school and how important it was to honor the flag. Of course, in that post WWII era, patriotism was portrayed on every corner of America. I loved going to movies and remember the newsreels of marching soldiers and victories abroad. I barely remember much about the war except to recall a family gathering honoring a cousin who had died. I think that patriotism meant that our country was victorious and on the side of God. Now, I look at patriotism a bit differently. I still love the pageantry, but I feel much more patriotic with Obama in the White House than I did with Bush. I'm still proud of our country, but not always so blindly proud of the things we choose to do. I still have hopes and dreams that we will act honorably, but I now know that we don't always do that.
I'm still glad to be an American. Happy 4th of July!