Sunday, December 21, 2008

knitting this week: too much time after surgery

A new Molly coat:

A scarf/shawl:

Scaruffle (for Lysse):

Winter comes to the west coast

They said it would be dark. They said it would rain. They said if it snowed, it would be gone in a flash.

They lied.

Since last saturday, it has been snowing on and off and cold. Not as cold as Maine, but cold nonetheless.

And it snowed, all day yesterday, and finished up with a thick coat of freezing rain, so the snow is encased. The whole city has shut down- 911 systems off line, roads closed, urgent care centers closed, the airport full of stranded travelers.

Here we are, down in a valley, only one road out, which won't be plowed till wednesday if we're lucky. They still use chains here! in fact, they are mandatory now on all Portland Metro roads. I didn't know anybody still made chains- I thought they were obsolete.

Here's Molly in her Santa Suit. She had a great time outside this morning, skittering across the top of the frozen snow, and I wa able to let her off lead since no vehicles can travel our road.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday- snow day

So, here we are, Wednesday, december 17th. I am now 5 days out from my microdiscectomy, and doing pretty well, I think. The leg and foot pain disappeared immediately, leaving only incisional pain, which is way easier to deal with than the nerve pain.
Snow has arrived in PDX, started Saturday, paused for a couple of days, and now has returned. This is a rare commodity here, and they are not prepared for it. days after the first storm, the roads are not plowed, and schools are still closed- 3 inches fell over the weekend, and it's still a mess. When it does snow, chains are mandatory on the main roads, though many people of course don't have chains, or they decide to apply them only after they've spun out of control on a highway overpass. the news feeds are filled with people leaving their cars, and walking these overpasses, while other cars slide towards them.

I am home, warm and happy, with a sufficient supply of percocet, chocolate, yarn and sappy movies. My roommate, Lysse, has gone into work today, and since I didn't see her car on the exit road, I can only guess that she got there.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cannon beach- Goonie alert!

Lysse and I went over to Cannon Beach for a few days over Thanksgiving.

Surprisingly, a lot of people had the same idea, and the hotel, beach and roads were pretty full. I'll bet it's nothing like summer, and that's fine with me. It was beautiful, with long stretches of open beach with these incredible rock outcroppings, and the constant roar of the surf.

Molly ran free on the beach, and almost got used to doggie etiquette, but was pretty overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of other dogs lookin' for a good time.

Anyone who has seen Goonies will recognize this beach- it's a wonderful place to visit, and there's so much more to the coast that I haven't even seen yet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Living things!

A cyclamen from Lee, which is also the first plant we bought together, during a long cold winter in New Hampshire when Lysse was two, and a Rue from Jensi and Carmen, to protect me from the evil eye as I go through all these changes. I can't thank the three of you enough. Mille grazie

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just when things are looking down...

I am reminded that I have a wonderful family, thoughtful and generous kids, good friends.
Thank you all.

(Flowers from Scott- they're beautiful! thank you again)

It was the best of times, and also the worst

Here's a shot of Mount Hood from a hill near our place. Actually it's from a cemetery nearby, Lysse drove me up there on Sunday, since I was going a bit stir crazy at home.

On a smaller scale, this is a shot of a romanesque broccoli we bought at the farmers market on saturday. It was almost too pretty to cut and eat, but we did manage to, and it was great.

Last but not least, here's a rose from the bouquet Lee sent me when I was feeling my worst :

Sunday, November 9, 2008


today's sunday fun started with a walk down the road to the club house, where I spent some time in the sauna and the hot tub. I was feeling great until I walked back into the apartment. Unfortunatly, while I was gone , Molly had a little meltdown, and woke Lysse up (my soak was at 7:00). So, after reading up on separation anxiety, I found a local vet, who turned out to be very caring, and took lots of time coming up with a plan for Molly's transistion- new house, people around, her love interet on the other side of the country. Start on Valium and prozac- just what I would have suggested if Molly had come to me, more or less.

So now we have valium, and a crate, and I may still go ahead and have someone come in for daily walks- Now for my transition plan.

My ankle looks like a ripe plum. my hip is screaming at me, I cry at the slightest thing. So far, all is going according to plan.

Vamos a ver.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Move

well, it was hard, really hard.

It is possible that I am too old for this kind of uprooting.

Or maybe, it's because my idealized pre-move move is different from reality. That shouldn't come as a surprised, but all the same, I'm thrown.

The flights were a breeze. Molly proved that poodles can fly, after all.

The apartment Lysse has found for us is fine, though a little off the beaten path (this from someone who lived in Maine for years, and there are good people here, not to mention the pool, hot tub and sauna.
But the jet lag, combined with the infernal daylight savings change has turned me into a raving lunatic.

And then came the pine cone. Lee and I were walking to the car after a visit to Powells Books, and there was a pine cone. It felt, if pinecones can feel, that I did not pay it adequate attention, deference, respect. So I took me down.
Serious sprained ankle, skunned knee, and it (combined with a tiny bit of Molly Kibble later that evening, which caused my to twist ever so slightly and created this huge ripple of pain down my leg) caused my back to go in spasm, or something. Lysse and I headed to Ikea after dropping Lee at the airport, and I had to keep sitting down, and she had to keep threatening to get a wheelchair. I held her off on the wheelchair, but it was exhausting.

The pain in my hip, knee and ankle is helping to blunt the pain of saying goodbye to Lee, knowing it could be several months before I see him again. After 33 years of marriage, I feel like my right arm has been torn off- and even though I know it's only temporary, my heart won't listen to my head.

Started work. Very nice staff and a great view of Mt Hood, though the mount has been hiding in clouds since I arrived. I think we got off to a pretty rocky start, though, and I'm a little worried. We'll see.

Vamos a ver.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Finished Objects!

It's amazing what a little deadline can do for you when it comes to accomplishing great things!

First, the quilt for Madison Cate McMahon, batiks mostly, with a star spangled flannel underside. I think this one is named Squiggles.

The quilt, not the baby.

And the second in the Brothers Series: this one for Cameron McMahon, Landon's little brother:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Haunted Railway

Down in Boothbay, where all the good hauntings happen....

Assorted boys of all ages...

And then theres Amy....
Who brought a date she just picked up in the Haunted Ladies Room

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Last Day

Well, yesterday was my last day at MCWH. It was pretty sad, saying goodbye to all my friends there, coworkers and patients alike. On the plus side the girls did give me an awesome gift, one that shows their deep understanding of me and my needs, and that will give me many hours of enjoyment. Oh, and a picture frame, too. Note to self: Remember to send thank you note.
Just as

They said many nice things like: I didn't really know you but you seem like a great person (Cindy), Hope you break a leg and get the flu three times (Steph), Rot in hell (Steph again), I feel abandoned but I'll get over it (Coral), thanks for being so helpful(Sheri), Don't leave me!!!(Patty)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Giant Pumpkins in Damariscotta, Maine

Every year, at the Pumpkin Festival, pumpkins are on display, carved, painted, stacked. Pumpkins are even hollowed out and used as boats on the river. Many people get wet when paddling pumpkin boats.

I really like this one, an owl holding his own mouse.

And the Wild Things outside the bookstore.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It has happened

Well, I got back from a quick trip to Portland, where I had a couple of interviews, and accepted a job with a doc in private practice. Lysse and I will be rooming together for a while, she's found an apartment that will allow Molly the dog, and will give us a little space from each other.

Now comes the part where I panic and worry about everything- money, choices, the known, the unknown.

Like Anne K says "be careful what you ask for"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Finished Objects!

Landen's quilt- a little late

Before and after pictures of the Calla Lilly bag.
After felting, it's a firm, sturdy little bag- three compartments, very clever design by Cat Bordhi.

The Montego Bay scarf, in SeaSilk:

And a simple little quilt for Jen's new baby, Gabriella:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

one year on

Well, we are still in this old house. L has completed many projects- inside and outside. I have taken several tons o' stuff to Goodwill and the dump. I've sold off dozens of books on Amazon, and taken bags of fabric to a quilter at work. The place is still pretty full, and unfinished, but more and more we are ready to leave. Even if it means leaving the place boxed and boarded up waiting for time and money and an improvement in the economy. It's sad to see this deadline come and us not really any nearer, though we haven't flagged in our desire to be gone.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Now that I've been back for a week from my family trip to Cortona, Italy, I feel able to write again. Between jet lag and the malaise that extends from the end of one trip to the planning for the next, I am, for once, in the present.

The trip began, as all trips do, with an email. Family trip back to Italy? Of course. When?

Many months followed, with the standard agonizing over the cost of flights. ( Into Florence, Pisa, Milan, Rome... direct, two changes, three changes, class-0 are there any other options?... book now, book later... where did that great ticket price go? should I commit? done...don't look back)

And, then, there we were, in Madrid, waiting for our flight to Pisa. I am all about the planning for the trip. Research, reading, buying guide books, reading recommendations and learning the language. The longer I can do that, the more I enjoy it. Otherwise a trip is a two week blurrr. It's fun to prolong the pleasure. This applies to other things like chocolate and ---, but that's for another post.

In Madrid, we were sitting together in K, waiting for our flight. We had just experienced the Euro for the first time, and were in shock. Drinking our four dollar bottles of water, we sat, tired, happy, a little loopy.

And we saw a suitcase, bound for its connecting flight, bounce off the back of an open truck, land four square on its wheels, kind of like a clothing-filled sentry, awaiting orders.

Airport workers drove by, some in pairs, some alone. Occasionally someone would slow down and look at the suitcase.
All of them kept on driving. At one point two vehicles drove up, the suitcase between them, slowed down to a stop, driver staring at the case, and drove on. What were they thinking as they stared at the lost luggage?.. mostly, I think,"It's not my job-drive on"

Eventually someone stopped, got out and.... took the suitcase to its correct place...?

Moved it over to the side and drove on.

This went on for a 20- 30 minutes and, since we were in the company of many other shell-shocked travelers, drew the attention of everyone nearby in K and so there were pictures taken, thoughts voiced, loud guffaws in many languages, and when still another airport employee bypassed the suitcase and drove on, frank incredulity at the lack of concern for an anonymous traveler's belongings. (Honestly, we were hoping that the security types would show up and explode the thing)

Somewhere, someone's trip was ruined for want of a suitcase and for all we know that suitcase (hardsided, gray) is still sitting on the tarmac at Madrid, but we merry few had a total of six flights without serious delays, crying babies or missing luggage. A record.

Four trains to Camucia/Cortona ( from Airport to Pisa Centrale, to Florence, to Arezzo, to Camucia) Perfect connections- you couldn't have asked for better. Lea and Phillip were delayed, so we took a cab to la Certosa.

Dropped our bags and hopped back into the cab for a ride into town, and were stopped along the one lane road by Amy, the rental agent. Great rejoicing- she had keys- but it meant our driver had to throw the SUV into reverse, and rush along at speed back to the house. One lane road, drop off on one side, hillside on t'other. Suddenly we're back at the house and there's Lea and Philip right behind Amy, and all's well.

I don't remember a lot of details from the first day or so of the trip. Drive into Camucia, shop, cook, walk into Cortona, settle into the house. Listen to the Cuckoo call cuckcoo cuckcoo cuckcoo cuckcoo cuckcoo cuckcoo cuckcoocuckcoocuckco constantly, and I understand why this bird is connected to insanity.

Breath the rosemary,

wallow in the lavender,

drown in the jasmine.

Monday, May 26, 2008

loldogs and funnyƂ pictures
more cat pictures

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Maine Maple Sunday

It's been a few years since Lee and I got to the farm for the Great Boiling Event, but this year we had just about run out of syrup, so we headed up to Goranson's Farm to see the sap boiled down and buy syrup for the year.

Sugar House

Amy's and Cindy's boys playing on a tractor.

It was a beautiful day--perfect for the running of the sap!

We bought syrup, maple scones, maple tea, maple candy, maple almonds.....

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I've just bitten the bullet and gotten myself a new computer, and my days are filled with joy, my nights filled with .....not ecstasy really, maybe just more joy. It's a little black model- MacBook, and it works so well I'm surprised that I stayed with my old one so long; five years, long after it's sell-by date.

Just like when you have a new baby, I'm obsessed by it, buying extras like a little red mouse, and I spent yesterday morning making a computer cozy, lined with cloud print fleece, so it can stay warm and secure when I'm not there with it.

Oh little computer, you are so cute, and wireless and fast, and you don't freeze up like that cumbersome monster in the other room. Oh sleek black beauty, I promise to keep you safe, charged, and connected to the net.

Anyone want to buy a cumbersome old monster?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Irish soda bread

This is the family Irish Soda Bread Recipe. It is not like any other: it's rich, moist, and could have changed the course of Irish history.

2 greased loaf pans- oven at 375 degrees-


4 cups flour
1 teas. salt
1 tbls. baking powder
1 teas. baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teas. cardamon (or a bit of nutmeg or mace)

Mix liquids:

4 oz. sour cream
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I just add a teaspoon of vinegar to regular milk)

then mix those two together.

Add 1 cup raisins, and 1/4 cup caraway seeds- this can be omitted (heresy) or altered

Now, melt 1/2 cup of butter and stir that into the mix.

40 minutes at 375....

eat hot, cold, spread with more butter, plain, toasted, fried....

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Dominican sisters prepare for Pink Martini

In preparation for the Pink Martini show in Portland (Maine), the Dominican sisters got together for diner and talk. Some political musings, some family updates, some future planning, a great big bottle of pre-made cosmopolitans. bruschetta, wine, a visit from the delightful Amanda, and we were on our way to the concert, which was a fun mix of styles, songs (all pre-dating 1964), and languages. Pink Martini is based in Portland(Oregon), my home away from home, which I will be visiting for a long weekend in early May. Yippeee!!!!! Crank up the espresso, baristas of the west coast- I'll need to recover from jet lag pretty quickly with only a four day trip to acclimate during.

Knitting: the fiddle head scarf from Morehead farm, the Koolhaas hat from Brooklyn Tweed, the lupine cardigan from Meg Swanson and the coriolis socks from Cat Bordhi: famous knits, all, though brought down to earth by my tendency to simplify, simplify, simplify. Pictures to follow- one of these days.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

La Certosa

After going nutso chasing the perverse and often baffling price of air tickets all over the web, I finally committed and bought my tickets for the family gathering in Italy. Not that we're Italian, but we did grow up eating lasagna.

I'll drive to Portsmouth, bus to Logan airport, fly to JFK (meet Lyn and the girls) and thence to Pisa, where we'll bus to the train station, and train to Cortona. At that point, Lea and Phillip should be waiting at the station with encouraging words, foot rubs and local alcohol.

The first time I went in Italy, the final leg of the trip was by water taxi in Venice. Short of taking a hot air balloon, I don't know what other forms of transport I could fit in.

Though Hannibal's elephants do come to mind.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weekend in New York

Here's Scott, looking very Irish-Sea-Captain-y.

And now we have Lyn, Charlotte and Lilly and Landon. Missing from the grandkids are the twinsicles, Rebecca and Patrick, who were visiting family in Florida during my trip. These are more correctly Lyn's grands, but I reserve to right to share a little.

We spent time searching for flights to Italy, eating, shopping (for food), and getting Lyn's eyesight checked out as she decided to jump on the retinal tear bandwagon. Since both her younger sisters have already had tears, she was a little late to the party, and, probably due to our early adopter status, caught hers before harm was done.

Knitting was slowed down because of the need to reference at least 6 different pages in Cat Bordhi's book in order to make a single sock, and I had only photocopied three.

Travel to Stamford via bus and train: the Regional service out of Boston's South Station. Return trip on the Acela, Amtrak's high speed train, costing twice the other service, with less leg room, and a markedly rougher ride. Maybe I'm just partial to slow.

Home to the warmest Maine day in 6 weeks- up to the 40's! Melting everywhere!

Spent the day cooking anyway: braised beef shanks, hand made pasta, cream puffs. I had my cholesterol checked last week, so I figure there's plenty of time before I have to do it again.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008


I've been wanting to make a Tagine, though I don't have the traditional pot, and I've never tasted the real thing, but I made one, freely borrowing from several recipes and altering as I went:

Ingredients are highlighted in blue, and then alternates are listed
Start with eight chicken thighs and/or legs. Feel free to remove the skin, but leave the bone in- it'll give you a handle later on when you're gnawing off every last bit. You can do more, just proportionally increase everything below.

Quickly brown, a couple pieces at a time in a bit of olive oil- save that oil, the fry pot and any juices the chicken exude while they sit on a plate and wait their turn in the big pot. In that big pot, a heavy stock pot, gently saute in butter:
1- 1 1/2 cups mixed sweet onions and shallots.

when they're transparent, add

1/2 teas each tumeric, and paprika- and a sprinkle of asafoetida if you have it

3+ cloves garlic, minced

1 inch of fresh ginger, minced

Let that all meld over low heat , stirring a couple minutes
Now add the chicken, a bit of the the frying oil, some sea salt, and a cup of water- use some of this to deglaze the fry pan,

(how to degaze: after draining off any of the remaining oil, gently heat the fry pan, and then add some water to it, scraping and dissolving the nice brown chicken-y bits- for this recipe, you want a cup of water of so, so you can use some to deglaze, and just throw in the rest)

bring it all to a boil, then turn it down to a low simmer 30 minutes or so.

Now add a cinnamon stick- 2 inches or so you could also just toss in some ground)
a handful of cilantro- stems and all,
a tablespoon of apricot preserves, or orange marmalade, or a tablespoon of honey,
some sliced orange rind - an eight of an orange or so (include some of the white to get a little bitter flavor in there. You could use bitter orange marmalade for the preserves and the rind if you have any lying around- I didn't)
quarter cup golden raisins, chopped dried apricots, currants or any other dried what-have you.

Continue to simmer for another half hour or so, and when the chicken is near falling off the bone, remove it from the mix, and reduce the sauce till thick.

Toss in another good handful of minced cilantro leaves, more salt if needed, and serve along side rice with some toasted almonds, pine nuts or pistachios sprinkled on top.
Also a salad and a light sweet wine- reisling? or a spiced light beer- I had a white wheat beer- very nice. I might be able to live on this and its million variations for the rest of my life.

It really should be cooked in the traditional clay pot, and eaten hot from the pot.

You can add veg to the mix according to cook times, though if your vegetable falls apart, it'll just add to the sauce

I just realized I have been wanting to make this since I watched a film from 1965: "the Battle of Algiers"

A Scourge on our Finest

The dreadful Scourge of BlueTush Trauma Syndrome (BTTS) has struck again!!

When will the national media start to alert the masses to this horrific Problem?

Where are Hillary, Barack, and John now? (Not to mention whats-his-name, who lost all that weight?)

Where do they stand on this serious health issue?

I am announcing the beginning of a new dynamic grass-roots coalition of the willing public health movement- called Preserve All Tushes, or PAT.

Top on our list will be public awareness: Rule number 1 : Rubberside Down! This used to be for cars and airplanes, but lets begin apply it to our selves- Rubberside Down!- keep your feet on the floor and your tush in the air - it's for your protection.

PAT is accepting monetary contributions, and well as donations of painkillers, pillows, ice packs, arnica and welcomes your stories about your run-ins with this accursed affliction. We are also looking for a celebrity spokesperson- is J-Lo doing anything now?

Don't let BTTS ruin your life!! Sign up and donate to PAT now and make a difference!

PAT would like to thank the family on an anonymous nurse from Oppalacha-Meshuga Florida for use of her tush photo. may she stand in peace, since there's no way she can lie down, or, God forbid, sit.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Mardi Gras Bowl Day

Lots of American excesses going on this week- though all of New England is in mourning for the Pat's perfection season- lost in the last 35 seconds. Ah well. I did enjoy the game, though the commercials are much more fun.

I know nothing about football, though Debbie says it was all because "Tom Brady wasn't protected when he was in the pocket". I have no idea what that means, but it went a long way for my street cred- I quoted it all day with a disgusted look to patients and heir husbands- and was grateful for their lack of follow-up questions. Only the dead know Brooklyn? a similar argument could be made here.

Wore Mardi Gras beads to work, reassuring anyone who asked that, at my age, they throw beads to you to keep your shirt down, not up.

Apparently New Orleans is hot again, the cold snap that Lysse and I endured is over and they are back to normal. What's next? "First Hawaiian Snow Fall" the first time I fly in? "Rapid Glacial Melt Seen in Antarctica" wait, wait- that's been done. not my fault. phewww.

Dinner, thanks in part to NYT's The Minimalist

cast iron pan, heated in the oven to at least 5oo degrees.

any one of:

thick hunk of salmon, thick pieces of tenderloin, whole trout, scallops, swordfish, tuna, nicely marbled steak----

a little spray of olive oil, toss of coarse salt, shake of lemon pepper, other mix- or nothing

then a quick return to the oven. the cast iron sears the bottom surface and the hot oven quickly crisps the rest. Watch the timing unless you like your salmon cooked well done

I think his recipe (Bitman's) involves pork tenderloin, apples and Calvados. I've made it and it's heavenly.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dogs and Cats Living together

In the old days, when Zooey was just a kitten, Molly had the advantage of weight and strength. Now, however, since Zooey has five very sharp ends and is fast and agile, she has Molly pinned in no time flat. It's kind of like Mexican wrestling but without the costumes and slightly hairier.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Coconut Cilantro Rice

I can't get over how good this was.

Cooked rice, a couple of cups, white, long grain

to this add a pureed mix of

1/2 cup lite coconut milk (may take more)
a clove of garlic
good handful of cilantro
squeeze of half a lime
fresh ginger

You can also toss in, though not pureed, some toasted unsweetened coconut.

top with green onions, quick stir fried with more garlic and ginger, other veg also stir fried, shrimp, chicken, tofu, ditto.

I did firm tofu dusted with Wondra flour, fried in very hot olive oil/butter, and I hate tofu. Really.

but crispied up dipped in leftover cilantro puree and I finished it off standing at the stove. (Molly helped some.)

I froze the leftover coconut milk in an ice cube tray. Martha would be proud.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Winter, continued

Semi frozen stream at Wolf's Neck State Park. Bright cold day with more of the same promised. Trails icy and treacherous for humans, Molly had no problem at all with her built in four wheel drive.

The high bush cranberry, still holding on to its berries. As long as we feed the birds they don't have to resort to them, but they're there as a backup in case we let them down.. .I have seen the turkeys go for these even when there is other food around, but maybe turkeys have a natural affinity for cranberries.

Little frozen wren found outside without any marks in the snow to indicate what happened. It looked like it had just fallen from the sky.

I think I am spending more time reading and thinking about knitting than actually working my two sticks and string. I love the stuff they have at Morehouse Farm and may be buying this. Although the Snowfall scarf, the Alligator scarf, the Lobster claw mittens and at least a dozen other things look enticing, too.
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