Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Crowding Out

We had another good dinner last night.  "Is it Wildtree?" Bud asked.  Sorta, just the seasonings on the chicken.  Easy "roast" chicken, sweet potatoes, stir fried green beans.  We ate it all, minus a bit of the chicken which will go in soup on this rainy day.

We have a family goal to eat more fruits and vegetables.  We're each aiming to increase our intake.  Sis is aiming for three a day; I'm looking at four to five.  Bud just eats.  Yesterday, we hit our goals, which was good.  My thought is--using an idea from Heather Bruggeman called "crowding out"--that the more fruits and veggies we eat, the less junk we eat.  We'll see.  But if it can already go well in February, when good produce is pretty limited, we should be doing really well this summer and fall.


Easy WT "Roast" Chicken, adapted
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon Rancher Steak Rub
2 tablespoons Hearty Spaghetti blend
1 1/2-2 lbs chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients and let marinate 4 hours or overnight.  Bake at 350F for 45 minutes, turning chicken over halfway.

Baked Sweet Potatoes
3-5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
cinnamon, enough to generously sprinkle over the top

Combine ingredients and bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until tender and caramelized.

Miss JR

Stir Fried Green Beans
1 lb green beans, washed and cut into 1/2" pieces (with scissors is easiest)
grapeseed oil to sautee
soy sauce
garlic powder

Preheat skillet with oil until drips of water pop in oil.  Add little green bean pieces.  Stir Fry until green beans begin to wrinkle.  Reduce heat and add soy sauce and garlic powder to taste and 1/4-1/2 cup water, covering to steam until desired tenderness.

Mama Hungry

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Purr On, Mr. P!

The cardiologist we saw on Saturday has every hope that Mr. P will be around for a check up in three to four months, once we tweak his meds some.  In fact, besides the congestive heart failure, the vet thinks Mr P looks great for his almost 16 years.  Still, we have to watch his eating (he needs to eat more--he's lost almost 20% of his weight, which isn't good under the circumstances) and his breathing (rapidity--more than 22 breaths in 30 seconds--indicates he's not getting enough oxygen.)  So, we've been doing both.  And he seems pretty good.  To say we were thrilled with both Mr P's improvement and the vet's prognosis is putting it mildly.  Of course, things could always change, but we hadn't dreamt of months, only just days or weeks.

"I'm too sexy for that bald spot."

Goodbye and Hello

We bid a fond farewell to our Honda Odyssey (onetime nickname: Homer), which we'd had for almost 11 years.  We bought the minivan when I was so pregnant I couldn't get behind the wheel much less test drive it; they were born about 3 weeks later.  We brought them home from the hospital in that car, drove around for endless car naps almost to Massachusetts and back while discussing all manner of things (often after church on a Sunday), and went on several family trips, before we switched to Mama's 2011 Subaru Outback for travel.  I loved listening to my music (too loud) and toodling around town, with my rainbow MOM bumper sticker on the back (it even attracted attention from other lesbians once in awhile, who would give thumbs up or comment at lights!)  I almost didn't have music--early on, Sis "fed" quarters in the CD player, stopping the whole system, which was still covered by the warranty and a recall, by just days.

And now I have a jasmine green 2015 Subaru Forester, which sits and drives a lot like my Honda and is roomier than Mama's Outback.  I like that it's partial zero emissions and gets better fuel mileage; Mama is glad that it has four-wheel drive for ice and snow (if we ever get that again.)    I was really impressed at how well (and hard) she drove a bargain--they tried a few things, but she stuck to the price and got us a good deal.  I was a bit sad to say goodbye to my MOM bumper sticker; they don't make them anymore.  But I added the one below this morning and it gives my car some character.

Otherwise, I almost had a mild heart attack when I realized:  this is the car the twins will learn to drive in not too long from now.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Doodle Therapy

Trying to maintain some equanimity this week, I have been doodling more, both repeating previous designs and experimenting with new ones.  I found a couple of magazines, with some designs and ideas I hadn't seen.  It's been quite the release.

And today, out of nowhere, my Zentangle Kit for my workshop in April arrived today; I didn't even know they were sending it, much less now.  So I have some new supplies and materials to work with, which is exciting.


We took a break from our kitty hospice here (we had someone feed the patient, though) and went into the city last night to see Allegiance, the musical about Japanese-American internment camps during WWII inspired by the life story of actor and cultural icon George Takei.  We had been on the fence about going anytime soon, but the closing of the show was announced and I realized how much I wanted to see it, especially after a few friends really recommended it.  So, Mama found this great opportunity through her audience rewards membership (for frequent Broadway attendees, and we're not all that frequent) to attend a Q&A with the tree main cast members, George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung.

Musically and structurally, it is not the strongest of shows--I've seen worse (Whistle Down the Wind, anyone?)--but emotionally it was extremely powerful, especially in light of current world events with Syrian refugees and the vitriol spewed against them (and Mexicans and Muslims and women and people with disabilities) by Trump.  The musical follows one Japanese-American family's experiences and reactions to its experiences when they are incarcerated in miserable circumstances after Pearl Harbor; the son is very patriotic and joins the Army but the daughter comes to resist the internment, pulling their family apart and separating them for the rest of their lives.  Gaman, a Japanese word from Zen Buddhism meaning "to face the unbearable with dignity and patience"--a kind of mindfulness in the face of crisis--is a key tenet (and song.)  The show also addresses the worth and dignity of all human life, the importance of social justice, the scourge of racism, difficult decisions in times of war, standing up for one's beliefs, the nature of loyalty and allegiance; you could say it's a very Unitarian Universalist musical.  But it doesn't give easy answers--both the patriotic son, the resistant daughter, and ancillary characters are often sympathetic--and, even though there is a technically happy ending (when the now aged son is reunited with his niece), as Bud put it, "it wasn't a very happy show."

The performances were marvelous, though.  Takei, of course, is best known for Star Trek and his work as a gay rights advocate and now leading cultural figure.  He was in turn funny as the old grandfather and touchingly tragic as the aged Army soldier son.  Salonga, whom Mama saw in Miss Saigon some 22 years ago, has an amazing voice and sings many of the show's most touching songs.  And Leung was an exuberant and then devastated young man.

Best yet, we got to hear from all three of them after the show!   It was fascinating to hear them talk about the different iterations of the show. Apparently at some point there were two brothers and no sister, a mama, the nurse was actually just the daughter of the warden, Sammy was a minor character with asthma who only had one song. Leung talked about all the changes in the six years he's been with the workshop and the show. Salonga talked about how her Chinese-Japanese husband has relatives who managed not to be sent to camps because they moved to Colorado where the governor refused to lock anyone up. And of course Takei talked about the seat he is leaving open for Trump  to come learn about the very real effects of discrimination and racism in our world today (Trump even recently said he would have supported the camps during WWII.)  I saw the seat--it was down the row from us during the talk-back--and it had remained empty.  It wasn't very long, but it added an extra-dimension to the narrative and to our understanding of the process of the creation of musical.  

On another note, beyond my beliefs in social justice and anti-racism and my appreciation for Takei's work (I've donated to Takei's legacy project), I was just so glad to see a musical about, created by, and performed by a mostly Asian team.  No other show has that.  And with my two half-Asian children, it's very important to me that they see beyond stereotypes (of Asian doctors, science geeks, straight A+ students, prodigy violinists, and wimpy conformists who always follow the rules) and also that they see strong role models standing up for what's right in the world.  

And so, while I can't hum any of the songs this morning, the story and images will stick with me for a long time.


I'm going to try, later, to fold the origami flower that played such a role in the show.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Little Kitty Mystery

I'll start by saying that Mr. P is doing very well, considering his terminal diagnosis of congestive heart failure.  He's having good days and nights and we're enjoying them together.

But yesterday, there was a moment . . . .

I had gone upstairs to feed him because he still needs to be encouraged to eat.  I opened the door--and no cat.  Not on the bed, in the litter box, or at the food.  I even checked the closet.  Then my foot brushed a warm, soft mass under the bed, the same place our dear Morgan would hide when he was dying.  Oh, no, I thought.  What happened?

But as I knelt to check Mr. P, I noticed he was very alert, not lethargic and indifferent . . . .and then something out the window caught my eye.

A gray and white cat.

At the second floor window.

The gray and white cat, standing on the little roof of our porch to get to the window must have scared Mr. P.  And now he was "waving" and "knocking" to get my attention.  I closed the curtains.

See, the same cat had been at Bud's window, also above the porch, the evening before.  We had called his owner, as we pulled him off the roof, to make sure he wasn't lost, but apparently he's a regular outsider and even more regularly gets into other people's houses!  So, we put him back outside.

I guess he was coming back for a second visit.  Well, Mr. P won't be inviting him in.  Mr. P was so scared, he curled up in my arms for a few hours, head tucked.  Poor thing.

I still don't get how the visitor got to the second floor.  The little tree in front doesn't overhang the porch roof and is too slight to hold a cat's weight anyway.   I guess he could have gone from my minivan to the garage, across to the small roof at the back of the house, under Sis's window, and then up and over the rabbit run to the front of the house and the porch roof.

But the foot prints in the snow seem to suggest he shimmied up the gutter . . . .

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of the visiting kitty.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Life Everlasting

“Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.” 

The mother-daughter book club met last night to discuss Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  I won't give away the big spoilers but will say that the book explores questions of the meaning of life and death and the meaning that death gives to life.

But the meeting wasn't all serious discussions--though, the majority of girls opted for the choice the protagonist Winnie Foster didn't make (except my Sis, and a couple, who agreed with Winnie)--we were treated to flapjacks, just like the ones Winnie enjoyed with the Tucks.

Even better, the hosts served them with buttermilk syrup!!  I had never heard of such a thing, but it is amazing, sweet deliciousness--all sweet creamy buttery-ness.  I bought buttermilk today to make some with pancakes later in the week.

Sis, during the discussion of life and death, said that if she could, she would grant Mr. P immortal life.  So sweet.  He is doing remarkably well, all things considered.  We put him on an appetite stimulant and he ate almost two small cans (which is what he needs to eat to avert liver failure.)  He is also moving more--he's been downstairs twice (he's here right now!)--and being more like himself. He has even made his usual "mac" sound that we haven't heard since before last Wednesday.  And he's been sitting on me and leaning up against me, even curling up in my arms.  It's good to see our Mr. P's little light shine brighter.

Of course, we recognize that he is at the end of his life.  Stats seem to say that cats with congestive heart failure--and 40% don't make it through their first episode--usually live just months (which makes sense--I think humans only live about 5 years?), so we know our time together is short.  But knowing this reminds us to appreciate every day.

Which, in many ways, was the lesson of Tuck Everlasting.

Buttermilk Syrup
via Six Sisters Stuff

¾ cup buttermilk
1 cup of sugar
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium sauce pan, combine butter, sugar, and buttermilk and bring to a boil. Once it's at a complete boil, let it boil for 1 minute. Take off heat and whisk in baking soda and vanilla. It will foam up during the boiling, and especially when other ingredients are added. Serve with your favorite pancakes or waffles. Best served warm.  Good on pancakes, fruit, with a spoon!