Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oops ~ Face Plant

I walked into the living room tonight, stepped down the one little step, caught the toe of my sandal in the rug and took a face plant. Literally. Straight forward to floor. Had sense enough to throw my left arm across my face so that I landed on the arm and not on the floor. Right arm cradled the right side of my body. The space into which I fell was empty, so I missed the chair, the hearth and the magazine rack at the end of the window seat. 

Scared me. I cried. Dean came in while still brushing his teeth. All is well.

So why am I up writing about it at almost midnight? Because in spite of the 2 Ibuprofen I took immediately, as I lay in bed trying to sleep, I began to feel myself hurt. The arm that caught my head. The whole right side of my body, especially across my shoulder. My feet where the sandal straps caught. 

I am reminded of when my two year old fell down the stairs. As I picked up my sobbing child, I asked one stupid question, “Where does it hurt?” She stopped crying instantly, pulled her little head off my shoulder and looked at me in total two-year-old amazement that I could be so dumb, and started pointing to places all over her body saying, “Here and here and here and here.” Oh, my darling. Although you were two and your mom seventy-two, my reply to where it hurts would be the same: here and here and here and here. 

Nothing broken though. Just pulled and jerked around so all will be well. I will continue to take the Ibuprofen, use muscle rubs and work the kinks out very gently in gym. I’m fine. Mark it down as an oops and be grateful. 

Good News ~ Bad News

From the annals of my life:

1) The Good News is it is summer in Tahoe.
     The Bad news is it is summer in Tahoe ~ with lots and lots of traffic, noise, people who forget the rules of the road as soon as they pass the city limits sign.

2) The Good News is we live where there is lots of little wild life.
     The Bad News is we live where there is lots of little wild life ~ a tiny baby rabbit was dropped by a hawk onto our deck. No way to save it so returned it to the white thorn bush where I know rabbits live. At least it died in safety. A beautiful little yellow bird slammed into our glass door. Buried it. *sigh* It was good to watch a squirrel digging in the yard and two chipmunks chasing each other.

3) The Good News is you can't see spills on the new black granite kitchen counter.
     The Bad News is you can't see spills on the new black granite kitchen counter ~ so sometimes the necessity to clean takes me by surprise.

4) The Good News is Dean is creating the rest of the counter tops out of sugar pine.
    The Bad News is Dean is creating the rest of the counter tops out of sugar pine ~ and it seems to be taking Forever! To give credit where it is due, however, the project has progressed nicely in the last several days.

I'm sure you have plenty of these in your own lives. When you recognize them, enjoy them. ~ with Blessings

Monday, July 27, 2015

In The Garden of the Beast by Eric Larson

I have finished reading In the Garden of the Beast by Eric Larson. It is wonderful though not as exciting and dramatic as The Devil in the White City. That has nothing to do with Larson who has written brilliantly as usual. It has to do with his chosen subject. The Dodds, father and daughter, are very ordinary people even though they played pivotal roles in Germany before WWII. Dodd was the American Ambassador to Germany and daughter Martha was a flighty, fun-loving young woman who thoroughly enjoyed the attentions of the young Aryan officers and government officials who gathered around Hitler and were smitten by her. Their time in Germany is played out against the rise of Hitler to power. 

The most impressive thing to me in the whole story was the number of times if other countries (France, the US, Spain, England) had acted or done something just a little bit different, Hitler would have been removed from power and the course of history would have been changed. 

It was interesting to watch diplomats and even German officers, move from appeasement to understanding of what was really happening. This is a terrific book if you have any interest in that period of history. Anti-Semitism was globally prevalent, not just in Germany. The US was basically isolationist. Germany had no understanding of the US Constitution and why our government couldn’t just step in and stop events that ordinary people were holding. 

Berlin was filled with parties, energy, excitement . . . and fear. Fear became the “uninvited guest” (a good phrase) at parties and meetings and gatherings as Hitler’s power grew. Because it is basically the story of the Dodds, Larson follows them well beyond WWII. His footnotes are worth reading too because many of them are annotated with stories that didn’t really fit his narrative but are worth the telling. Some of these include jokes that the Germans told to ward off fear and to laugh at the horrors that were increasing around them. 

It is a good read and one that is hard to put down even though you know the flow of the story. As usual Larson’s research is outstanding and detailed and his bibliography is extensive. My one regret is that my parents are not alive for me to talk to about their recollections of this time. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

San Francisco Miscellaneous

Random views of San Francisco during the week we were there.

Sail boats and wind surfers between the barges on the bay.

With the Golden Gate setting the standard, SF has some beautiful bridges.

We had a corner room. Delightful.

The view from The View - the lounge on the 39th floor of the hotel.

Susan and Tom enjoying the view ~ 

~ and the company: Susan, Tom, Carlos and Dean

Alcatraz looking very foreboding in the middle of grey water and sky.

If you squint and/or enlarge the picture, you can see the Golden Gate in the middle distance.

Street art.
I didn't leave my heart there, and I certainly enjoyed my time there. Already looking forward to next year.

Friday, July 17, 2015

San Francisco Foodie

You are going to think I ate my way through San Francisco and you wouldn't be far from wrong. Thank goodness for a good fitness center at the hotel and walking everywhere I went. I refuse to tell you what the scales say in the morning though. 
Breakfasts were in the Concierge Lounge at the hotel and I had potatoes, scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon every morning. Back to Cheerios now that I am home. 
Dinners that missed out on pictures because I just forget to take them were at a Thai restaurant; John's Grill, an amazing steak house; and the Concierge Lounge because we were all tired and full and they were serving pork loin, mashed sweet potatoes, salad and fudgy brownies. 

Dean had a break on Wednesday and returned to the hotel to ask if I would like to have lunch with him. Delightful surprise. We went to the Salt House and I had a Chop Chop - tiny gems of veggies and an egg tossed in a delightful Honey Mustard dressing. The menu didn't list onions so I checked with our server and he said no. The salad came and I discovered yes. I always worry about sending back and Dean reminded me that we were paying for it - plus the fact that I would have been miserable all afternoon. They were so gracious and of course they changed out the salad and brought me one with no onions. I love smiling customer service and the salad was so good.

Dean had a grilled chicken sandwich and chips.

On Thursday, I found the one place in the near-by food court without a line and had a savory crepe for lunch. I took it out the door into the park, found a table with chair and ate and people watched. I brought out my book and never opened it. People wandering by a concert in the park were too interesting. It was a delightful and delicious lunch.

Thursday night we met family at Scoma's close to Pier 39. I had a "small" shrimp and crab Louie. Yum! Good food, good conversation, fun time with family.

Lunch on the way home was at Awful Annie's in Auburn. Awful because it is "awful good". And it is. I had a Chinese Chicken salad with more cabbage and sprouts than lettuce (yay!) and lots of pea pods with a delicious sesame dressing. Dean had a turkey, apple, brie sandwich on a croissant.
And in spite of all this eating, we stopped at Costco on the way home so there would be more food here for a while.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tea at Neiman's

As I have mentioned here before, I grew up learning nice manners when my mother would take me to  lunch at the original Neiman's (then Neiman Marcus) in Dallas. My clothes were bought behind the blue door that went into the children's department. Eventually I was a Neiman's bride. And all along, I would enjoy a special treat occasionally by having lunch at Neiman's tea room. 
These days, if I am in San Francisco, I make a nostalgic journey to Neiman's for lunch or in case of today, tea. Sometimes while wandering through the store I buy something. Sometimes not. I always eat. 

Not liking alcohol, I had the Signature Tea Service.

Tea, just like lunch, opens with Neiman's warm popover with strawberry butter. Some things never change.

Another tradition: chicken bouillon

Tea: veggie quiche, an almond scone, salmon mousse, chicken salad, cucumber, porchetta with apples and egg salad.
Sweets were fruit, banana bread pudding, macaroon, chocolate brownie and pecan pie. 

Condiments were the usual and I really liked the dish they were in:
Lemon for your tea (although I had cream), butter, lemon curd, strawberry jam and honey. 

~ and my very own little pot of Earl Grey, my afternoon tea of choice. It was a lovely.
The next time I am in SF, however, I will have lunch. Lunch I can do alone. Tea needs to have another person along to share the experience. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Contortionist Carpenter

For all of you who have walked the dangerous path between our house and the neighbors' and back again and were afraid you might fall into the pit, there is good news. First, neighbor Dianne saw to it that we had an actual stone path between our back decks. Then Dean put in a railing.

Latest Yoga move: the contortionist carpenter
Begin with knees slightly bent and tongue stuck out. 

Balance on side of pit you are trying to protect.
Wrap self around post maintaining balance.

Bend forward with only one knee touching the ground,
press shoulder into post and maneuver post base.

Lie down and insert screw into bracket.

Return to standing position, hold tightly to rail, and smile.
There you have it: the contortionist carpenter.

Poor, Deprived Westerners

I should have a picture to go with this post and the subjects were all eaten last night. We hosted the Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishing Board for their monthly meeting on our deck with Southern bar-b-cue. We have a wonderful place in town - Moe's - that caters so I had them prepare the food for the meeting. I chose ribs, baked beans, coleslaw, and . . . hush puppies!

The board's tradition is to go to a pizza place, order pizza and beer and split the cost. So - I ordered bar-b-cue and we split the cost. In order that they would know what they were buying, I sent out the menu ahead of time. One woman told me she could hardly wait to have hush puppies again. Other than that people said "what are they? Where does the name come from?" And the comment I loved the best: "I Googled them when you sent me the menu to see what I would be eating."

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shades of My Childhood

When I was a little girl, Love Field, the Dallas airport, had a lovely restaurant. Almost every Sunday we would go after church and have lunch and watch the airplanes arrive and depart. I was too little to know why exactly. Maybe the food was really good. Maybe I was so little that it was a way to entertain me while the grown ups ate. Maybe it was because the aviation industry was so new during the 1940s that planes were a delight and amazement to the adults as well. And maybe, just maybe, it was the escalators that took us up the restaurant level and brought us back down again. They were the first in Dallas I think although again I was too young to know that for a fact. I just remember loving them. 

The planes we watched were propeller propelled DC3s. I had flown on one when I was 9 months old, carrying me and my family from Dallas to Atlanta to Greensboro NC to visit my grandmother. Even with that trip under their belts, my parents still enjoyed the planes and of course the food at the restaurant. 

Today Dean and I were in Truckee at a little business center next to the airport where there is a very nice little deli. We decided to have lunch there. And so we sat at a table next to the glass wall and watched the commuter planes arrive and depart. Sleek, jet powered, they came and went much to our sophisticated enjoyment while we ate our wraps and reminisced. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thirty-six Shades of Green

Before there were computers, painting apps and Pixar to create amazing color cartoons, there were people. People who sat at desks and colored in the the backgrounds of movies like Snow White and Cinderella. In the early days of Disneyland, there was a studio of some of these artists at the park and you could stand on a moving sidewalk and glide past the studio, looking down at the people at work through huge sound proof glass walls. As I drifted by, I particularly noticed a woman whose job it was to paint green. We moved slowly enough that I was able to count her 36 little jars of green paint: so dark as to be almost black down to so light as to be almost white - and every possible variation of green in between. 

I thought of her a lot today, first as I started on this mandala knowing there would be shades of green involved. And then as I actually started, I was so excited with my idea for the colors that my first strokes were too fast and I messed up a little. What meticulous work she must have done, creating a real looking forest in cartoon form. She could never move too fast. The tips of the pine needles were yellow against the darker greens of the shadowy forest just like around my deck. So many shades of green. All applied with care and precision ~ and, unlike me and my mandala, she never saw the whole unless she went to the movie. 

Not Me Any More!

 I have always been an early riser. Usually up with the sun but up before the sun in the winter. When I was in my 30s and 40s, I would hop out of bed at 6 and was meeting Anne for a 3-mile walk at 6:30. Energy galore. After all, it was morning. Not so any more. 

The other day Dean and I walked the loop from 8 to 9 and it was lovely. In the process, Dean said if I wanted to do that from 7 to 8 we could every day and then I could go on to gym for other exercises. That sounded lovely and I was ready!! Until it came time to do it this morning. I slept really well last night and woke comfortably at 6 ~ and didn’t want to pop out of bed. I just wanted to lie there and enjoy the feel of the bed. Then when I did get up, I didn’t want to hurry. Dress, unload the dishwasher, feed the dog, have breakfast, sit at my computer with my cup of tea. Be ready to go by eight. Whether that somewhere will be gym only, hike only, or a combination, who knows right now? 

What I do know is: popping out of bed is not my idea of fun anymore. I will give into the energy age allows me and rise in a more stately fashion before heading for gym or the hiking trail. It’s all ok.