This new WordPress editor really stinks. It’s slow and awkward. I can’t figure out how to get “classic” back. It figures that they would do this in the year 2020.
Three things today. First a book review. Then a new purchase :). And, finally, a new publication.
I wrote a review of Jennifer Givhan’s gorgeous poetry collection Rosa’s Einstein. Her poetry and prose is providing a wonderful new Latina voice to American literature. Here is a copy of the journal that published the review–the Winter 2020 issue of The Main Street Rag.
Now for my new purchase. An item that has lurked in the shadowed corners of my memory is the green glass bowl my grandmother used to pour her potato pancake batter from. She cooked the type of potato pancakes they made where she was born in the Rhineland area of Germany: the batter was smooth and looked closer to that of flour pancakes than of latkes. I loved those pancakes more than any other food, and I have always associated them with the bowl.
I’m pretty sure that my parents got rid of the bowl when Grandma moved to the nursing home. They held a garage sale of her belongings. I had a lot of feelings about that at the time.
When I finally decided to Google the darn bowl, guess what? It’s a “vintage” Anchor Hocking jadeite Fire King batter bowl! It’s not some random thing that just happened to become engrained in my mind. It’s a collectible! So what did I do? I bought one, of course!
Now I am looking for recipes for German-style potato pancakes. Do you have one?
Shot Glass Journal has published one of my poems. “Fiction” is another Little Red Riding Hood poem. You can read it here:
Beginning perhaps on Friday I developed a strong urge not to blog today. Monday is usually my day, but Monday had no appeal any longer. Suddenly, I didn’t feel as if I had anything to say. The news had wrung me dry.
Anything that crossed my mind seemed as if it had already been said in a way that I would never be able to muster with my brain fried, diced, and served.
I was looking at a post from you on IG [Instagram] about making elderberry syrup and my phone rang – and I never got back to it. I know you have a very different governmental system to ours and it does sound very hard for all my friends there. Here we have a woman in charge and it’s showing. People and health first. We know it will be a struggle later on when the virus has been held in check, but personally I hope it means we will change our ways of living, our expectations, our emissions, our stuff, our disinterest in those who have less, the generally disadvantaged, the third world countries, the dispossessed peoples of the world. I hope we will plant more trees, use no plastics, clean the oceans and care for our animals better. I hope there will be a new normal and we will embrace the positive in that – whatever it is. In the meantime we will make tasty goodies in our kitchens, from fruits and vegetables grown in our own gardens, to help our own wellbeing – and that of our pets. We will laugh at ourselves and laugh with each other and this will raise our immunity levels. We will strive every day to look for the good things that are being done and enacted and shared – lets walk through this together and share and support and make the world a smaller, friendlier, safer place for a while. I think this will make a great deal of difference. Thank you for coming over Luanne, all the way from Phoenix too – which sounds so exotic to me 🙂 I hope the Gardener is well and all the kitties too. Keep posting – just about what you are making and how you are feeling and what made you happy and laugh, or sad and cry today….. and I will too. xoxo
You see what I mean about somebody else saying it better than I could do. Notice what she wrote at the end: Keep posting–just about what you are making and how you are feeling and what made you happy and laugh, or sad and cry today. WOWSA!!! And she will, too :).
So that is what I am writing about today.
I did make elderberry syrup to boost the immune system of the gardener, the daughter, the future SIL, and myself.
I don’t spend a lot of time or money on “supplements” and other immune boosters or cures, as a rule. Well, not a rule. Haha. When I try something I end up using it once or twice and then it sits in the cupboard. And I don’t usually make it myself. But this time it seemed important to make it myself. That way I know all the ingredients that go into it. It smells quite medicinal when it’s cooking, but the taste was quite good. I used cinnamon and ginger, but I did not use cloves as I am not very fond of cloves.
I felt as if I was channeling my women ancestors while I made the syrup. Caring for my family with my own hands, putting love into the medicine along with the honey.
What else did I make? I made chicken breasts with the lemons from my friend’s tree and the rosemary from my bush. I cooked sauerkraut and, instead of throwing away the juice as usual, we drank it. The gardener’s uncle used to drink sauerkraut juice every day and swore by it as a health drink. It also is supposed to be an immune booster. I admit the cooking of the sauerkraut is just because I love it that way: with natural sugar, paprika, pepper.
I wish I could say that I made some more pages for my fabric Scrap scrapbook, but although I meant to, time got away from me. Trust me, I NEVER don’t have anything to do. I’ve added sitting out in the sun on every day with sun. It’s helpful emotionally and maybe physically. I wrote another poem this week, but it stinks. I made a little herb garden so that I can have fresh herbs without having to run to the store.
I am learning to need a little less, use a little more of everything, and put more thought into all I do.
What made me happy and/or laugh?
My cats, of course. Perry is especially cuddly lately, and I think he senses my anxiety. Pear and Tiger wants to be with me all the time. The other three are their own usual selves. At least I hope they are. I hope they don’t have hidden anxiety. They all give me lots of love and security, and occasionally, make me laugh pretty hard.
My daughter started an Instagram account for her puppy. You can see Riley at rileysblackbook. Now I get a little dose of Riley every day, although I can’t go over to their place in actuality.
Some of the memes and videos on Facebook that friends share make me happy or laugh. The bunny who wants to be a herding dog was one of my favorites this week. See it here: Bunny has been watching the dog herd
Restarting my “fill in the gaps” project for genealogy that I post over at The Family Kalamazoo blog. It forces me to focus, but I don’t have to be as creative as when writing a poem. And these days, I really want to get a rudimentary structure of family history done and sent digitally to all the younger family members. Just in case.
What makes me sad is watching young people crowding the beaches and parks, sassing the police who try to move them along, and putting themselves and everyone in danger. What makes me sad is that my mom lives alone and has to isolate and to keep from going crazy she still socializes with 3 of her neighbors. Who can blame her?
What makes me sad is watching videos from Italy about the patients and healthcare workers. The doctors who came out of retirement to die at the hands of Covid-19.
But the videos of all the music coming from the people make me teary in a bittersweet way.
Another bittersweet for me has to do with the shelter animals. Mostly, I am terrified for the animals as sad reports come in about people abandoning or euthanizing animals out of ignorance. The shelters had to cancel all their fundraisers. And the staff and volunteers have to risk their own lives to work at the shelters, taking care of the animals. There was a bonded pair of senior kitties I REALLY wanted to foster. But it turns out it wasn’t right for us right now. So instead I took on another task for the shelter. I am now “womanning” their Twitter account. So come follow along at Home Fur Good.
How do YOU feel? What makes you happy and sad these days?
Starting last winter the gardener and I had a business project begin that has taken up a lot of our time. It’s been difficult to write in the midst of it, although I tried to do some writing. I also had my mother here for about 10 weeks in the spring. Throw in a couple of trips on top of the extra work. Then recently Mom was here again for two weeks, and I began The Artist’s Way program (FYI: bad timing to begin at this time of year). Felix had serious health problems beginning in August, as well.
Then week before last my grandcat Meesker had a urinary blockage, just like Felix. He, however, needed further surgery because of stones in the bladder. Although he’s doing fine it upset our holidays plans, as well as some other big plans in our family.
We had to change everything. And my daughter’s boyfriend had to change the date for a marriage proposal. This past week was pure chaos as we made a business trip to California, had car trouble the third time in a row, made it back in time for the proposal and little party afterwards, and then had our Hanukkah/Christmas family celebration.
I am ready to COLLAPSE. Seriously. Collapse.
The gardener and I developed colds, but I’m so glad that everyone seems pretty well right now other than that–including all the cats, the grandcats, and the granddogs. We had that darling puppy Riley here all day on Saturday. She was so good, only pooing in the house once. The cats were interested in her, but she tended to nap when they stared at her.
Going back to the proposal. YAY!!!! We are all excited because we love her boyfriend. They were friends for twelve years before dating, so we’ve known him for thirteen years. He proposed at the elegant Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort, which was decked out for Christmas. In fact, they have a Winter Wonderland, complete with pageant, every year.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort lobby
He proposed at the fountain in front of this giant Christmas tree that changed colors. The song playing was “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” It was on a music loop, so it was just chance that it wasn’t an uptempo Christmas song, but a more romantic-sounding song.
The staff was in on the proposal, so they were relaying information by text messages to each other and to a group of us waiting in hiding:
“They are leaving the restaurant.
They are stopping at the bathroom.
They are rounding the corner.”
All went well. My daughter is over the moon with happiness and loved the old-fashioned-style proposal.
Saturday my son made gluten-free latkes for us. He used an entire bag of giant russets, so we still have leftovers. (Yay because they are my favorite). I prefer them with sour cream, not apple sauce. How about you?
My mother pulled a fast one on me, by the way. When she was here, she had me drop her at the mall. Apparently while she was there, she purchased me an entire set of Fiestaware dishes! Then she had my daughter pick them up and hold them until Saturday when the kids all carried them out to me.
I’ve wanted Fiestaware for ten years, but couldn’t justify it because I have perfectly good dishes that I hate. I was so touched because it’s one of the nicest things my mother has done for me. She might be 85, but she still loves me :).
Hah, I don’t like to think that I am that materialistic that purchasing an item shows love, but the whole notion of my mother getting the idea of buying them for me and carrying out the plan because she knew I love the dishes really made me happy.
She chose four colors, plus serving pieces in other colors. Here are three of the colors. Aren’t these pretty plates?!!!
Now that we celebrated with our family, the rest of the month should be less hectic–and for that I am grateful.
Hugs as you travel through sluggish traffic and on cantankerous air travel, if you are doing so. And I can’t imagine too many don’t have to go out on the busy streets.
It took me a week to respond to comments on last week’s post. What a slacker! I’m so sorry! Mom is here, though,
Oh, look at that hummingbird out the window flitting from yellow blossom to yellow blossom (on some sort of tree or huge bush we have), drinking out of each little cup :).
Is it worse to interrupt oneself or someone else?
Anyway, Mom is here, and I am trying to keep up with her. Thanksgiving coming up and then her birthday party a few days later.
Saturday night we attended a bat mitzvah shindig. Second best part was the martini bar.
They offered lemondrop, cosmo, gin, and one other kind–vodka ones? The chocolate fountain wasn’t bad either.
The best part of the night was I found myself a new OLD HAT. If you recall I was in love with that fishing hat I got in New Orleans and lost in Tampa. I first wrote about it here: A Tip O My Hat.
When the DJ started the music, he turned on all manner of flashing lights. Ms. Complicated Migraine here can’t tolerate those. I asked the event planner if she had a hat with brim I could wear. She pulled one off the costume stand for me.
Later they said it looked so good–so RIGHT–on me that I could keep it. Hahahaha. If you want to see it on me, I may or may not post a pic on my Instagram account (catpoems).
It’s so hard to travel–whether for business or pleasure–when you have celiac and have to be completely gluten free. The gardener has a pretty bad case of celiac, so he has to be vigilant. Unfortunately, travel and being vigilant don’t mix very well.
A lot of people comment to me that it’s so easy to find gluten free in restaurants today. Well, it’s easy to find restaurants that say they offer gluten free options. But are they really gluten free? Judging by how the gardener reacts, many times they are not.
Then I found an article in the newest issue of Gluten-Free Living called “One-third of labeled gluten-free restaurant food contains gluten” by Van Waffle. (Yup, that’s the byline!)
The title kind of gives away the gist of the article. SO DEPRESSING. And I am so not surprised. Time and again, we have to correct servers about items on the menu. An entree labeled gluten free, but made with regular soy sauce. GONG. Chicken noodle soup listed as gluten free. GONG. French fries made in a fryer that cooks glutenous food. GONG. It goes on and on. Then they lie, too.
The other day I picked up burgers and fries at our favorite local place that has a dedicated fryer, meaning it only fries gluten-free food in it. As usual, the gardener’s burger and fries were in a box. I opened it and looked at it. The lettuce, onion, and tomato were missing. When they gave it to me I said, “This is gluten free, for sure?” Oh yes, yes. Actually I asked two different people! But I had a funny feeling. Our burger place is a brewery, and it’s dark by the bar where you pick up take-out.
When I got to the car I noticed that the box did not say GF on it as it usually did. So I went back in. This time I was very insistent, and the woman who checked it said it wasn’t gluten free. They would make a new one. “They can’t just take it off that bun and put it on another one, you know.” She knew that.
While I waited I wondered why I had given them a nice tip. Three different people had “helped” me, and nobody seemed to care if my husband got sick from their food or not.
What we are doing wrong, for the most part, with gluten free food in restaurants is not taking precautions starting from the menu planning and kitchen design.
One of the places we traveled to this summer was Quebec. There were three restaurants with distinctive ways of handling the situation. As a side note, this issue of Gluten-Free Living has an article about GF food in Quebec!
Ottavio in Gatineau is a very casual Italian restaurant. They don’t serve alcohol, so we picked up some wine at the gas station across the street. The wine was good! but I digress. Ottavio has two separate kitchens–one for gluten and one for no gluten. They also serve the gluten free food on red dishes (P.F. Chang’s also uses separate plates which has got to be so helpful to servers and makes the diner feel more secure). The food was good, and the gardener did not get sick.
Arepera in Montreal is an extremely casual Venezuelan restaurant that is gluten-free! The food was good, and there was no stress at all. The gardener can’t eat beans either (just one of many food intolerances that have developed as part of celiac disease), but there was plenty of food to eat.
Bistro Le Veravin in Quebec City is supposedly 99% gluten-free. Personally, I think they ought to be 100% because it would make it easier, and I am guessing it is more like 90% gluten free. But the food was delicious, and the gardener did not get sick. He had a wonderful selection of food to choose from. I had the poutine au canard (duck confit poutine) because poutine you see.
So separate kitchens is a wonderful idea for providing gluten-free food for diners. But being 100% gluten free is the best because then the celiac can totally relax and enjoy instead of paying attention to everything so that a mistake doesn’t happen.
Back to poutine: this was a breakfast poutine in Ontario. Wowsa. So good. Sadly, not gluten-free.
Next week we are going to try a gluten-free restaurant that is a little closer to home. Fingers crossed!
If you are like me, you well know that feeling of not having “anything” in the house to eat. Well, the truth is there are always some old cans in the cupboard. And usually some eggs and herbs and an onion or two.
The other day I found myself in this situation and couldn’t get to the grocery store. So I took out my last can of salmon and an antique can of crabmeat. Seriously, the expiration date was sometime last year. They were both small cans, so I toyed with the idea of making a tiny recipe of salmon patties and a tiny recipe of crabcakes, but that sounded like more work than I had time for.
I figured what the heck and created my own recipe. I can follow recipes pretty well, although I do tinker with measurements under the guidance of the glass of wine I keep close to my hand and lips ;). Nevertheless, I am not a creative cook who concocts new recipes from scratch. Until now. Maybe I should start a blog called THE BACK OF THE CUPBOARD COOK because these lil suckers were yummy.
Here is the recipe:
SALMON CRAB CAKES
1 6oz can salmon
1 6oz can crabmeat
¼ cup chopped onion
½ cup panko (gluten free is what I used)
1 t. herbes de Provence
big dollop mayo
(can use touch of sriracha, but I did not want the heat)
olive oil to fry in
Mix together everything except the oil. Let set in fridge for ½ hour (or less or more) because of the panko.
Form balls in your hand and then flatten into the hot olive oil in a skillet or frying pan and cook until browned on both sides.
Eat with whatever else you can scrounge up, even if it’s an old frozen side dish. (OK, that’s what we did).
The advantage to these cakes is that they are much tastier and less “fishy” than regular salmon patties. They are also easier and quicker to make than good crab cakes. The two seafoods actually complement each other very well, and the texture was lovely.
And because I was sneaking little pieces from the pan, I forgot to take a pic! I shared my recipe with my kids afterward, and my son who likes to cook said you could use a flavored mayo, too. If you do, change out your herbs if they don’t match the new flavor.
Now, don’t trust me on these salmon crab cakes. I know. After all that, she says, “Don’t trust me.” But I wasn’t using measuring cups and whatnot. I was just throwing things in. I’m only sharing because these combinations of flavors and textures worked.
A very cool thing happened on the way to not writing lately. My poem “Tuesday Afternoon at Magpie’s Grill” has been nominated for Best of the Net 2019 by Nine Muses Poetry with five other poems. A big thank you to editor Annest Gwilym! You might have read the poem before. Some of you wrote lovely comments, too :). If not and you want to check out these six nominations, the links are available here: Best of the Net 2019 Nominations from Nine Muses Poetry.
Perry is getting his echocardiogram today, so good thoughts, vibes, and if you don’t mind, prayers for my boy, please.
What lovely news I had yesterday! Longridge Review nominated “The Secret Kotex Club” for a Pushcart Prize! Thank you so much to the magazine and editor Elizabeth Gaucher for their support of my work. I am gobsmacked and verklempt and shocked.
The gardener and I had a lovely Thanksgiving day with daughter and her boyfriend. The cats were happy to see us all happy together. We started the day with a hearty breakfast and mimosas spiced up with Grand Marnier.
The gardener made rotisserie turkey on the grill outside (Arizona weather, you know), plus I bought a small spiral-cut ham. Then there were the sides. Both kids made dishes, and I made more. By the way, I don’t need to be afraid of gluten free stuffing (dressing for you southerners) because it turned out great. You would never have known it was free of gluten.
Now this coming weekend we are having a holiday party with all four kids and my DIL’s parents (as well as some other festivities).
To give you a smile for this week, here are my boys decked out in gift bowties a lady made them.
Felix has a halo because he is always a good boy.
Perry is not as good, but he sure is cute.
The scratches on his nose are caused by one of the girls. He annoys them, and they tell him to get lost (with their claws).
If you think Perry is cute, I will tell you that my friend is fostering another gray and white boy cat in Phoenix that is ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE and a cuddle bunny and of a perfect disposition! She can’t keep him much longer with her other cats (she has as many as I do). His name is Asher (I helped name him), and we desperately want him to go to the best possible home.
Here is his bio:
Asher was found abandoned on the streets. He is a real sweetheart, a darling cat who does not have a single mean cell in his body, he is truly a gentle giant. He will follow his person around the house like a puppy, wanting attention and company. He’s good with other nice cats, dogs, and people. He is 13 lbs of love, loud purrs, and he is a big kneader and talker too. His estimated age is between 2 and 3 years old. He is desperately looking for someone who will give him a warm, loving forever home and family and will never abandon him as his previous humans did. Even though he tested FIV +, his lifespan is no different than those cats who are FIV-, as long as he is fed good quality diet and kept healthy. Asher appears to be in excellent health now. His adoption fee is $50 and it includes neuter, microchip, FeLV (-)/FIV(+) test. It also includes a free wellness exam in a cat-friendly hospital with a veterinarian who is up-to-date on FIV and can offer professional advice and guidance regarding proper care for Asher. For most up-to-date information and to learn more about FIV visit this website: https://www.fivcatrescue.org With all inquiries about Asher please contact his foster at firstname.lastname@example.org or text at (480) 652-4852.
Make it a good week. My solution to minimize holiday stress is to plan like crazy with itineraries and lists and then relax and be flexible, using the written notes as guidelines to be used when necessary and ignored when possible.
This was the first year that I’ve lived in Phoenix that all the saguaros blossomed with white crowns. So this is the first year I’ve seen so many white blossoms all turn into juicy red fruit. An animal must have eaten some of this one!
Check out the bird sitting on the top. Birds seem to love saguaros.
Here’s a good article about the harvesting of the saguaro fruit.
A couple of the cacti in our yard, thanks to the gardener.
One of the most inspiring people in my life has been a gorilla–namely, Koko, lover of cats and poet of sign language. Sadly, she died last week at age 46.
This image by a fan of Koko was shared on Koko’s Facebook page with a request to share it, so here it is. RIP dear Koko. I just don’t understand how little her death has been on the news. The people whose lives we celebrate on national television when they die have not done as much for our future and our planet as Koko has done.
#amwriting #writerlife #writerslife I had two beautiful acceptances this week. One publication coming out in a day or so . . . .
So far 2017 has been extremely hectic, chaotic, distressing, you get the drift. My aunt passed away without too much suffering (thanks to hospice), and my mother went home. On Mom’s flight home, she was again required to spend the night in the layover city–this time because of weather in Kalamazoo. After that, she wasn’t sure she wanted to fly again–and my son’s wedding is this spring on the beach in California. But now she feels a little better and is going to look for a dress for the wedding this week (so, yay!).
Kitties are better, although today Pear is getting an ultrasound because something is wrong with her bladder–and we need to know what. The ultrasound has been an option for months, but I’ve put it off because of the cost. I spent so much (on my credit card) in January on veterinary care that the ultrasound no longer looks as expensive because it’s a “drop in the bucket.” Ugh. I think those of us who can and will pay for good veterinary care for our animals are subsidizing the salaries of veterinarians (and clinic costs). I just wish that money went to treat more animals, but I know that not all vets are good about pro bono work.
Speaking of cats, did you see this article? They needed a study to prove that cats are as smart as dogs? I thought that the decision was made a long time ago (cats are smarter ;)).
On another note, we’re still using Home Chef. Don’t turn up your nose at that idea. I don’t know a soul who really has the time or inclination to plan and deliver on 21 meals every single week–and to have 2-3 of them taken off the list makes the other meal planning more rewarding and less onerous.
Steelhead Trout Niçoise
Mojito Lime Chicken
The trout was fabulous–and there was enough salad left for lunch the next day. I also made Mojito Lime Chicken.
And I made Chicken with Basil-Pecorino Cream Sauce. I haven’t made a single Home Chef meal that wasn’t delicious. I served the gardener the basil chicken that looked like the recipe card.
I set his chicken on a tiny bit of the cream sauce because of his lactose intolerance. But for myself I didn’t hold back, and so my plate didn’t look as “well-plated” as his did. Or as the recipe card.
Oh man, was it ever good! Tonight we’ll have a non Home Chef meal of mushroom and cheese omelet. I am an expert omelet maker. I learned from watching The Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith, on TV decades ago. Anybody remember him? Great personality, good teaching skills, and an unfortunate (and terrifying) end to his public career (look him up!). By the way, I also learned about the “chef’s assistant” from Jeff–only he chose sherry and I choose chardonnay (or sake).
I have been revising the memoir because I want to send it to someone for a thorough read-through now that I have rethought and reorganized the structure. I think I have reached the point that it’s ready. I don’t want to go too crazy with line-editing if it still needs a lot more “big” work.
Also, I have an offer from a publisher for my poetry/prose chapbook about family history. Stay tuned on that one.
Now that things are finally starting to settle down over here, it’s TAX SEASON for me and the business. Ick ick and ick.
After a difficult week, I offer some of the more positive views I experienced (outside of my post-election distress, complicated migraine, screwed-up-and-painful leg, and ridiculously hectic travel). Today my father has been gone exactly 18 months.
My peace pole (built and erected by my father) as seen through the palms as a sort of liminal space. Here it is in Korean and English. The other sides are Spanish and Hebrew. Dad chose the languages.
We were in California again this past week. The Virginia Dare winery crusher building in Rancho Cucamonga. The Virginia Dare wine company is close to 200 years old and is now owned by the Coppola family.
The gate of the medical office complex that is part of the Virginia Dare center now. The metal grape leaves are a nice touch. Sorry it is so crooked. I thought I had that problem solved, but apparently not.
A mug with my life’s motto (the mug itself belongs to someone else, but the wine is mine): I just want to drink wine & pet my cat. Or cats. Which I can’t do when I am in California.
The view of Phoenix when I drove back in from California.
And when I got to the house I discovered that Pear and Tiger had decided to share the window seat.
Memoir Writing: Structure
I am doing some writing–just enough to feel as if I am writing. Rewriting my memoir into chronological order is really not difficult. The material is almost completely written–and it seems to more effortlessly fall into place this way. I remember now when I first started putting the story in a different order. I was in a workshop where the students insisted that because the main secret that is revealed in my book is not HUGE, as in not huge for the public and only huge for me and for my family, that I had to reveal just enough of it up front so that nobody would get the wrong idea. I think this started me on the wrong path that has gone on now for years. I hope my new revelation that they were wrong is correct, otherwise I don’t know how to tell the story. So I am following some hopefully wise advice from Lewis Carroll:
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”