Friday, August 31, 2012

three years gone

I miss you every day. Things happen. You're not here to laugh or moan about them. What am I to do?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

my week at the movies

Seeing as how Mr. C was laughing it up in Ohio, I took the time to saturate myself with movies, new and old. It all started with "Hope Springs" on the big screen. My take: if you are married, have ever been married, have thought about marriage, have thought better about marriage, see this movie. If you have been in any of the above situations, you will see either yourself or your partner. Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell on the same screen? It doesn't get any better.

Right after I got home I rented "My Week With Marilyn" about the making of "The Prince and the Showgirl." Michelle Williams did a spectacular job in her role as Marilyn.

So of course I had to rent the latter, partly because I wanted to compare the persona of Lawrence Olivier and Kenneth Brannaugh, who plays Olivier in the "My Week" movie. Perfect match. Brilliant. MM was so luminous, so delicious, so wise.
Running down the list, I also watched "Morning Glory", the original with Katherine Hepburn for which she won her first Oscar. Sort of tiresome. Then "Cairo Time", "The Lady Vanishes" (oldie Hitchcock), "Today's Special" about the life of a Greek restaurant, a BBC Masterpiece Theatre production "Any Human Heart", "Albert Nobbs", and am now half way through "The Last September." I recommend them all. Glenn Close is brilliant as Albert Nobbs. Janet McTeer is also in that one;she's one of my favorite British actresses.

But my movie going now is ended. Mr. C arrived home this morning so it's once again time to "get serious" about whatever. I am still NOT paying any attention to conventions or political ads or other trashy news.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I made it myself

Last night I entertained two friends at dinner. For this occasion I pulled out all the stops and made a vegetable tian. I came across a recipe for this traditional Provençal dish but the photo I saw didn't look like the tian I was familiar with. I repaired to good old Google and there it was in all it's colorful, intricate glory. It takes awhile to prepare but is well worth the effort. What follows is the recipe I cobbled together. It was delicious.

Vegetable Tian
 1 Japanese eggplant, sliced thin
1 large zucchini, sliced thin
1 large yellow squash, sliced thin
1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and sliced thin
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
1 small leek, white portion sliced thin
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, cut into rings, each ring cut into 4 pieces
3 T olive oil
2 t dried thyme
salt and pepper
1/2 c shredded Parmesan or Peccorino cheese

Heat oven to 375º.
Saute leeks and onion in 1 T olive oil over low heat until wilted, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Drizzle 1 T olive oil in bottom of 9" round ovenproof dish (I used a ceramic quiche pan). Sprinkle cooked onion mixture on bottom of pan. Add uncooked, sliced vegetables, standing on edge in two spiral rows, alternating vegetables to make a colorful mix.  Sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper, and drizzle with remaining olive oil.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and discard foil covering.  Sprinkle tian with shredded cheese and return to the oven uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.

COOK'S NOTE:  When I thought it was done I tested the potatoes; not quite done so I left it in the oven with the heat turned off, for an additional 10 minutes.  Perfect.

It was absolutely delicious.  Not a bite was left in the pan!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

the man on the moon

I remember exactly where I was when Neil Armstrong took his moon walk. Mr C and I were living in Oakland in a funky, falling apart Victorian hard by the side of the freeway. It was the day after Mr. C's birthday. We were glued to the tiny b/w TV we had, almost holding our breath lest something should go wrong. But, as we all know, it didn't. Forty three years later this quiet, self-described nerd and reluctant hero has quietly left us. I like this statement, made by his family:

 His family's statement Saturday made a simple request for anyone who wanted to remember him: 

"Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

Friday, August 24, 2012

today's specials

I have given up watching, listening to or reading anything about the 2012 election. Both sides are spewing inflammatory messages laced with bald untruths, exaggerations and ugly rhetoric.  I don't need this or want this or have any tolerance for it.  When campaign ads come on the telly or radio, I mute the messages.  I'll do my own research.  Nasty stuff.

As for another of "Today's Specials" I watched this absolutely charming movie on the Flix® instant watch this afternoon.  It's about a young East Indian chef who has dreams of studying cooking in Paris but instead takes over his family's failing Indian restaurant in New York City.  Stream it and enjoy!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

gauging the cuteness factor

The daughter of my La Jolla hostess lives in New York. She recently lost her very aged dog and has decided to fine a new one. After much research (she's a lawyer, for heaven's sake!) she found a litter of labs in Massachusetts, made a couple of visits, and finally chose this one. Here's the report from the besotted grandmother on the new granddog.
 Here she is! Her name is Baby, she's black black black, and the cuteness factor is off the charts! Great big paws, fat tummy, tail that doesn't stop wagging, and, of course, she's so smart. Hasn't had an accident inside since Monday (we brought her home on Friday), she has her chosen poop and whizz places in the back yard, and she's only waking up once at night. She chases balls and boys and flowers and plays and then just goes clunk. And she's good in the car and so affectionate. In other words, just plain perfect.
This baby will grow up to weight in at around 50 pounds. Some baby!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

now in print

Two weeks ago I sent off the 2011 version of The All of It  to Blog2Print for printing and binding.  It arrived yesterday and joins the 2010 best seller.  I realized when I saw the finished product that I used a photo from 2012 on the cover, but only I will know.  It was supposed to be Andrew's graduation from CMC; instead it's Em at Thacher.  My  photo editor must have been away that day.  I did a much better job of thoroughly cleaning up the text in this issue.  Far fewer misspells and go-nowhere sentences.  It makes for interesting reading.

At 5:30 AM this morning I kissed Mr. C good-bye as he left for his annual safari to the farm in Ohio.  He'll be gone 10 days.  Party time!

Monday, August 20, 2012

the life of a good man

Yesterday afternoon we went to a memorial gathering for Rafa, held in the gorgeous garden he built for one of his clients. I would guess there were 200 people there ~ family, friends, colleagues, clients, young, old, kids, and Wilson, the dog. It was a tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for this remarkable fellow.  Fabulous b-b-q, paella, all sorts of hot and spicy things to eat, lots of icy cold beer to wash it down. Three walls of a converted 3-car garage were covered with photos of Rafa and with "Rafaisms", that peculiar blend of English and Spanish that was his hallmark. "It OK pero I make it better" or "I no go porque I too beesy" or "My wallet is broken" and so on. Great pictures of him with his delightful wife Dorothy and their two daughters, one of whom is to be married in two weeks, sadly without her father present.  Although you don't know him, I think the piece below, written by the family for the guests, captures him perfectly. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him. A very good man gone way before his time.

 Jose Rafael Araya Mora passed away on August 9, 2012 at the age of 54 due to complications from a stroke that left him in the hospital for three weeks.  When it became clear there was no hope for recovery, we brought him home to spend his last days with us.

Rafa, as he was known to most, was born on May 15, 1958 in San Isidro, San Jose, Costa Rica.  A former Costa Rican professional soccer player, Rafa had a continued love of the game and played in adult outdoor and indoor recreational leagues after his professional soccer career.  He traveled the world working on cruise liners which ultimately led him to Davis.  He was a resident of Davis since 1986 and held dual residency in both countries for many years.  He worked in landscape construction most of his time in Davis ~ first for Custom Landscaping and then on his own for the past 15 years.  In recent years he had taken up cycling, and participated in annual races around Lake Tahoe.  Most Sundays he rode from Davis to Fairfield and back, enjoying the other cyclists he met along the way. 

Besides the beautiful gardens he created throughout Yolo County, he was known for his incredible cooking skills, enthusiastic Latin dancing, and ability to live each day to the fullest.  It didn't matter that he didn't speak English well, somehow he didn't need language to make friends everywhere he went ~ whether they be his customers or complete strangers.  Above all, he will be remembered for his incredible spirit of giving.  He would give the shirt off his back, the food from his kitchen, and his energetic help without being asked.  He lived by the "golden rule" every day of his life.  He is an example for all of us.  He knew how to LIVE.  His passing has left a void in all of our lives that we can only fill by becoming more like him; kinder, more adventurous, more loving, harder working, harder playing, better eaters, and better friends.  His legacy is in his friends and his gardens.  He made Davis so much more beautiful, one garden at a time.  This quote will always make us think of him, because he has truly left the world a better place by his presence in it:

'Everyone must leave something behind when he dies', my grandfather said.  'A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made.  Or a garden planted.  Something your hands touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.  It doesn't matter what you do,' he said, 'so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.  The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching', he said. '. . . the gardener will be there a lifetime.'
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Sunday, August 19, 2012

he came, he swam . . .

. . . he ate, he drank, he slept. We talked, we laughed, he fixed a couple of things on my computer, and then he left. This would be g'son Andrew of whom I write. He trained up from SF on Friday evening, had a couple of days of laziness and relaxation, being waited on by his doting g'parents, and then headed home early this afternoon. It is such a treat and treasure to have him close enough for an occasional visit.

Meanwhile, g'daughter Emily is making her final preparations to move into the dorm at USC on Wednesday. These kids have grown up so fast, but I think all parents (and g'parents) think the same. Where's that cute little toddler I once knew?

We are going to a memorial for Rafa later on today. A Costa Rican-syle b-b-q. Full details to follow.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

not his best

I watched this Bill Nighy film yesterday.  He got all sorts of awards for his portrayal of a PR genius battling his own devils.  I still think that his performance in "Pirate Radio" is my favorite, although he was perfectly cast in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."  With those caveats I do recommend it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

trying to live with grief

I don't seem to be able to concentrate on anything.  I have things to do but I'm just not interested.  We've lost two old friends in two days and it's like a body blow.  I sat out in the garden yesterday morning and ran through the 20 years of Marie memories.  That brought on both laughter and tears.  I did manage to keep my mind on this delightful movie, though.  A perfect distraction.

William Holden was so young; Judy Holiday so ditzy.

Hot again today. We are finally getting our books put back in the shelves in the "library" after the paint job. For the last couple of weeks it has felt as though we were moving out or hadn't yet moved in. Back to normal now.

I'm treating my back very gently these days. The Physical Therapist told me that not only is there arthritis but the last disk on my spine is worn very thin and that's what's giving me the pain. She prescribed a variety of exercises to give the disc some relief and to strengthen supporting muscles in my pelvis. I'm not really interested in those, either. But doing them relieves the pain and I am interested in that.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

and now Marie

Marie Margaret Colburn
 July 16, 1937 - August 11, 2012

Goodbye my beautiful, mischievous, talented friend.  You made life in Cuyutlán more fun than was probably legal.
The sandbox won't be the same without you.
  I will miss you deeply.

Friday, August 10, 2012

the good die young

Rafa has gone to that great garden in the sky.  He died yesterday afternoon at home where he had been moved some days ago.  His partner Dorothy had put the hospital bed in the living room so he could "see" his garden.  The ever-playful, ever-faithful Wilson slept by his bed.  Here is Rafa with Wilson at our house last year.

Rafa will be sorely missed by all who knew him.  Exuberant is a good description.   His vitality and enthusiasm for everything he did was infectious.  There was no problem or puzzle he couldn't work his way through, explaining as he went along in a colorful mix of English and Spanish.  Gone but never forgotten.  Rafa was 55.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

who is this little man?

My friend MAS over an No More Commas Period recently posted a disquisition on the subject of netsuke. It reminded me of my own little netsuke doll which belonged to my father. The doll is  all of 3" tall and has a bulging sack slung over his shoulder.  I don't know what he is made of; not wood or ivory, the traditional materials of the netsuke art.  I was told that rubbing his extravagant tummy brought either good luck or the fulfillment of one's wishes, or both.  I remember seeing my father hold it in his hand and rub the tummy with his thumb.  I don't know where he came from ~ perhaps a gift from a parishioner returning from WW II.  We lived in Los Angeles at the time and had many military members in the church.   When my father died in 1979, I took possession of the netsuke and he has sat on my desk ever since.   I haven't actually thought about him in years; he just sits there, smiling, his generous torso gleaming in the light.  Thanks, MAS, for making me take a second look.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mr. C plays Huck

Mr. C has been busy with the paint brush for the last few days, putting a coat of paint on our new fence panels. It gets too hot by about 11 AM, so these efforts are for the early morning.

I, meanwhile, am dealing with the doc's reading of my x-ray results. Arthritis of the lower spine. I am going to a physical therapist next week to get some pointers on how to live with the pain and limitations caused by this condition. This is really ridiculous but he says it's probably a late-in-life result of about 20 years of ballet and modern dance. I thought it was from lounging around and being slothful.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

meeting the new doc

My health care provider (Kaiser) has changed its policies about specialists acting as primary care doctors. Thus, my internal medicine doc told me at our last meeting that she had to transfer me to a different doctor for what are termed "primary" needs. I'll still see her for the diabetes business but no longer for aches and pains. I've been her patient for about 15 years and was definitely NOT happy with the news. She did say, however, that she would try to get me in as a patient of the man who is her family's physician. Today I went to meet the new medic. He's about 17 years old but, remarkably, seems to know what he's doing. One good thing came out of today's meet 'n greet; I may finally get some relief from lower back pain I've had almost steadily for 10 years. Despite everything I can think of to do the discomfort persists. Swimming gives some temporary easing but the pain is back the next day. I left our meeting and walked over to the X-ray department. He is hoping pictures might show something; pinched nerve? Arthritis? Disk problem? Depending on what shows up, the next step will be an MRI for closer examination. I just may get some relief.

Earlier in the day I had a little procedure at my dentist's office, something called a "deep cleaning." First he numbed both sides of my lower jaw, then used some sort of screaming machine to chisel away tiny fragments of tartar between my teeth. He then gave me a special brush to use once a day to help prevent a recurrence.  I'll do anything to avoid going through this again. Even though I have a terrific dentist who is not only a fine doctor but a very interesting man, I really don't want to see him more than twice a year for a little cleaning and conversation.

But enough of the organ recital. Hot here. Time to go out for a dip in the pool and more reading of the biography of Joseph Smith. What an odd duck he was.