Friday, May 30, 2008

Plum Saga ... continued

I got up at 6;15 this morning, poured a cup of coffee and sat down with my cookbooks to find the perfect plum dessert recipe. It took quite a while, but eventually, like truth, one surfaced.

I drove to Safeway, purchased all the required ingredients, came home, assembled everything, measured out the crust ingredients, and luckily hadn't forgotten anything at the store. (As my husband says, if we need two things--two trips to the store). However, when I cut the first plum I smelled something I didn't like--rotting fruit. Can you believe it? The plums had gone past their prime, way past, and here I am ready to make a plum galette with no plums.

Now what?

I drove back to the store, grabbed an angel food cake, (I've had it with those litle plums--traitors!) blueberries, mango, rasberries, and strawberries, came home and concocted something I am not sure will be edible.

I simmered port and brown sugar until it was syrupy, poured it over the fruit, then layered the fruit and cut up angel food cake. I'll serve it with vanilla bean ice cream.

We'll see what happens. It all else fails, I made chocolate covered strawberries...

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Anybody have a good recipe that requires plums? Tarts? Cookies? Cake? Cobbler?

Last week I found a recipe in Gourmet Magazine for a plum tart and since we were having company during the weekend, I thought I'd try it out on them before I fed it to my book club, The Sexy Savants. (I didn't pick the name)

I zipped into Costco and bought the required bushel of plums, because that's the way they sell things there--in enormous bulk. At the time, bulk made sense. I'd be serving the same yummy dish to approximately thirteen people, so the more plums the merrier!

Before I served the tart on Sunday, I gave our guests my disclaimer: "You are the first victims to be served this dish. Please, give me your honest opinion, I'm thinking about serving it to my book club, The Sexy Savants, on Friday night."

They said they loved it but after they'd gone home and I collected the dessert plates, the truth was in the pudding, I mean the tart. And it wasn't pretty. Remember when you were a kid and you didn't want to eat your food, so you "fooled" your parents by pushing everything around the outside of the plate? I rest my case.

I asked my husband (the man who just last week I told "you're the most honest person I know, Rick, I so appreciate that in you.) Maybe I spoke too soon, maybe honesty isn't all it's cracked up to be.

I couldn't get him to commit to saying it was sthe worst dessert he'd ever eaten (really how bad could plums be swimming in a brown sugar/port syrup), he did, however, comment on how tasty the ribs he BBQ'd were. (they were tender and juicy--but I was having a crisis)

So, I have a partial bushel of plums sitting on the kitchen counter fermenting into whatever plums ferment into and I don't know what to do with them. Soon gnats will be buzzing all over the place and then I won't have to worry about it. I still won't have a yummy dessert, though.

I checked the Food Network certain I'd find the perfect recipe, and I did, except it only serves six. Doubling the recipe means I need more plums (which won't have ripened to the same degree of sweetness as the others) so that won't work, not to mention that we'd be eating plum tarts until July. And we all know where the tart calories would go, don't we? I thought I could make the recipe plus one half, but how do you half an egg? See my dilemma?

The ridiculous thing is that hardly anyone reads this damn blog so the chances of squeezing a recipe out of anyone is pretty slim.

Maybe someone out there in cyberspace who has a plum tree in their backyard will psychically intuit me need and send a recipe...I'd be forever grateful and so would the book club.

The Toy Fairy

The Toy Fairy visits my grand children's home at night, not every night but she drops by unexpectedly, leaving with whatever toys haven't been picked up and put away. We don't know where the toys go. So my daughter has trained the kids to pick up up their things before they go to bed. Isn't that the cleverest idea? I think it's great -- avoid the middleman, I always say! However, my grand son is "cleverer."

They were picking up their toys the other night, well, JD wasn't, but his older sister was while he lolly gagged around not doing much in the helping department. So, his mom set the timer and told him if his toys weren't picked up by the time the buzzer went off, he could say adios to his toys. He paid little if any attention to her.

When the buzzer went off at the end of five minutes and his toys were still strewn all over the family room floor, she proceeded to pick them up telling his that the Toy Fairy would be by later and he'd most probably lose the privilege of playing with them.

He got a little frantic, running around looking for something--he said was looking for something to give the Toy Fairy. My daughter kept asking him what it was. It took him a while to articulate it (after all, he's not quite three yet) but then he got his words together and said, "I want the rules. I want to give the Toy Fairy back her rules. I don't like them."

Clever, huh? Not quite three, already outsmarting his mother and the Toy Fairy. Sometimes it's really hard not to laugh at the things he does and says, like calling the UPS truck the NEW PS Truck. And he calls the people who live next door, the next store neighbors, cute, huh?

Cute comes in handy especially when he does things like smear liquid soap on the floor of the shower stall so he can slide while the baby's being fed .... ah to be almost three!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wouldn't ya know...

Wouldn't ya know that as soon as I announce and post to the world that I'm technologically challenged, I think "comments" is working! It would be very cool if it were, I think...

Double edged sword, this hitting "send" or "publish post."

Years ago, many many years ago (ouch--that many) I had the great misfortune of working as an administrative assistant, and a very, very bad one at that. The company I worked for (which shall remain nameless, although it was a Fortune 500 company) had an in-house computer system that could broadcast email of a sorts to other branches all over the west coast.

Let me tell you, if you're not cut out to be an administrative assistant (and I was not) hitting "send" should only be done after another human being has proofread your work(because there was no spellcheck at the time...)

I cannot tell you the errors that flew across the western division. Luckily my boss was applying for Saint of the Year award that year, the thirteen months I worked for him. (although I may have ruined him forever and no, I didn't get fired, I quit, I couldn't stand the work)

One day I had to mail (now you're probably wondering how could she possibly do something to the mail?) Well, It's not easy. I had to mail the Western Division's Annual Report back to headquarters in Washington (or someplace) and I added a little something extra. . .the secretary downstairs gave me what she said was the ORIGINAL recipe for Mrs. Fields cookies (I couldn't wait to try it!) -- and somehow I included the instructions in the package to the president. Not very professional. That's what happens when you're not organized--things find their way into packages that shouldn't be there.

As I said, my boss was a saint. Bless him. And, I would have baked some of those yummy Mrs. Fields cookies for him, you know, to say thank you but ...

HELP! I need a technology nerdie

I don't know what I've done, comments can't be posted on my blog. I can't figure out why. Yesterday, I tore my little blog design apart, "re-saved" all the settings, which will probably positivity assure me that no one will ever be able to leave a comment again, but of course that wasn't my intention. I know so little about these things. And, it's very very frustrating.

For a while, I thought it would be fun to blog without people's comments--I thought I could just use it as a "free write" but it's lonely not to have anyone visit and comment. I've come to realize that I like the human contact a blog brings. And I can't have it. Wah, wah, wah.

If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to email me. ( I wish there were 1-800 telephone number I could ring up and find out what's going on...

Maybe I'll need to get another blog address except what happens if I encounter the same problem? I mean, really, how many blogs can one person have?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Idol

Rick and I have been watching American Idol or as half the population calls it, AI, (no, not the other controversial AI) for the last what? 19 weeks? The grand finale was quite spectacular last night with old AI winners singing and prancing around the stage--great fun to see them.

I remember little Carrie Underwood, whom I absolutely adore. The year she won, she looked like the girl next door who drank warm milk every day straight from a cow, and spoke with a cute twang.

Man oh man alive, has Underwood changed! Her entire body shape is different. It's model perfect now, legs that go on forever and skin as clear as a fogless day in San Francisco--and about that spectacular, too. Her voice, as great as it was when she won, is even better. If I remember correctly, she liked singing Jesus songs. Which is fine with me. I enjoy listening to her sing. I don't think she's singing Jesus songs anymore, the latest, I Don't Even Know Your Last Name, about a gal who goes to bed with some guy whose last name she doesn't know. And, if anyone can belt it out, Carrie Underwood can--and did.

I digress. The Davids. I really wanted David Cook to win so for me the outcome was perfect-o. I thought I'd feel bad for the one who lost (and I thought it was going to be David Cook), although Simon said there were no losers last night and I do believe that.

But the whole point I want to get to is how sad I felt on Tuesday evening when everyone kept telling David Archuletta that he was the best, etc. Each time they said it, poor David Cook had to crawl back up to the microphone and sing again, only to be told he was good, but nah, not really. In my book, he deserved to win for being humiliated in front of millions of television viewers and not flipping anyone off.

It surprised me that the votes were so high for David Cook. I thought it would be close race but it sounded like Cook got twenty million plus votes more? Is that possible? I've never voted. I've thought about it, but I haven't done it. Maybe next year.

It'll be so fun to see where these guys end up and I'm really curious about Syesha, too. As the weeks went on she absolutely blossomed! Awesome. I would have been happy if she won, too.

Congratulations to Rocker David Cook! Who-hoo.

Yay to David Archuletta for being such delight and wonderful talent to listen to and watch.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Procrastinating Again ... (my new favorite hobby)

I'm procrastinating again.

I have my manuscript beside me and today my job is to work work work on the revisions. But, every time I look at them, I get tired. 319 pages is nothing to sneeze at, I mean, there aren't 319 pages worth of changes, frankly if that were all I had to do, just slip in commas, add a few caps, end sentences a bit earlier, I'd be closer to being done. But, my wonderful editor, is asking me to make other changes--adding a character at the beginning of the book instead of nearer to the end, putting in some details that I'm not quite sure how I want to add yet. Things that are making me tired.

I've gone downstairs on at least four occasions to grab a little something to eat, then waddled back upstairs to work more, called a friend, done a little reading, went to Borders thinking perhaps smelling paper and books, or being where racks of books lived, would inspire me. It didn't. So, I went next door to Baja Fresh for another "snack" and then drove home certain as soon as my feet hit the hardwood floor, I'd be, once again ready. I'm not. I've read a few blogs, not commented on any of them, and now I'm blogging, because it's easier to blog than to recreate I think. Anyway, at least I'm writing....

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oops ... what about writing?

Here's what I'm re-reading right now: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and I just began The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

The other day I wrote about my love for books--the smell of them, the smoothness of the pages and sometimes rougher skin of the cover, the font and shape of the letters--all of it, oh, and the words. Today, I must (because I want to) give a earth-quaking nod to my other love - writing.

My morning pages (which admittedly don't happen sometimes until well past eleven p.m.) is the girfriend who sticks by me no matter what. I don't have to worry about it being good or bad, precise or loose, heart wrenching or cold hearted, breathtaking or breathless. It is what it is. And, like that fabulous friend, it's the best therapist I've discovered so far.

On the page, all life's curiosities and problems, bumps and blips, work themselves out if I stick with it and write to resolution. I can usually go from hurt or craziness to finding peace and the truth in most situations in less than a thousand words. Not bad, huh? On the occasion that I don't, I go back, begin again, and eventually the truth surfaces in a way that has integrity and honesty and clarity--and the solution is always the best for everyone. The fog lifts and I have my 'aha' moment.

I am so grateful for the gift of writing and the fullness it brings into my life. It rounds out the rough edges, makes me look at things differently, and begs the question "what if." Writing makes me want to create, fantasize, think, and wonder.

For those of you who don't write, I hope that there's a passion in your life that brings you the same sense of oneness with with world that writing brings to me...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ode to Reading

I'm obsessed with reading. Obsessed. I read drinking coffee or tea in the morning--first the newspaper then whatever novel or nonfiction book I'm in the middle of, and sandwiched in there someplace is often spiritual reading.

I read everything I get my hands on, especially when I sit at the kitchen counter grabbing a sandwich--advertisements, cereal boxes, magazines. I read in every room of the, dining room, extra bedrooms, our bedroom, family room, yes, the bathroom.

Some days the house looks like messy library, overrun with books and magazines that I "must" get to. They sit in stacks calling me, beckoning me to open them. I can't resist the smell of the pages, the feel of the paper, the print, or the new knowledge or fantasy that awaits, so the call works.

Years ago, when I chauffeured the kids to soccer, dance, or wrestling practice, I'd have a book to keep me company. I'd be itching to open it up as soon my SUV full of kids deployed out.

When we go on vacation, I've been known to pack a separate suitcase of only books -- I never know how many I'll have time to finish when we're on a trip and I don't want to be caught short handed, so I take more than I think I could possibly read on the airplane, at the hotel, poolside, in the car...

And, I never, ever read one book, not even two, its three or for our five. Sometimes, I'll finish several in the same day, sometimes not.

So don't make the mistake of asking what book I'm reading, you'll get an earful.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fed Ex - Ground Delivery

My manuscript arrived safely at my editor's home on Wednesday night--she shot me a quick email to let me know ... "On page 14--Ronald, that asshole." So, at least she liked the beginning.

I wanted the experience of mailing it to be special--not just stuffed down the gullet of any old mailbox, so I drove to Mailboxes, Etc. with my manuscript cradled next to me, filled out the address label, carefully placed it in the no-rip bag and handed it to the old sourpuss who stood impatiently drumming her fingers on the counter. She was a bit disappointing but that's okay I did my part.

When I walked back into the house, manuscript-less, something felt off, the way it does when I come home after dropping Jake at Shampooches. Hollow. And, that's how I felt about my book being on its maiden voyage, unattended--hollow.

For more than two years I've been working on this book, writing if not every single day, very close to it, carrying it with me everywhere I go physically or psychically -- vacation, to sleep, to my daughter's, Starbucks.

I'm hoping it'll be shipped back next week so I can make the necessary rewrites and begin sending queries to agents.

And having the book on "vacation" gave me a few days to play with other ideas for the next book. And the one I've come up with has been simmering for quite some time, so I'm jotting down notes, making character sketches, figuring out names, -- I'm excited!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Exercise . . .ewe!

Here's what I'm reading ... Case Histories by Kate Atkinson - so far, so good. I'll keep you posted. I'm on page 28

I finished reading Jacquelyn Michard's The Breakdown Lane, on the return flight from Montana. The book is about a woman who, after her husband leaves her in a near-mutual decision, discovers she has a debilitating disease. Great book, moves along at a nice pace, quirky characters.

The book made me think about all the people in the world who do have debilitating diseases, serious illnesses, or even a week's worth of cold and flu and the enormous impact health issues have on life.

My small sampling of strep throat was an eye opener. Sure, there were many people who would've been happy to drive me to the doctor, pick up medicine, or make chicken soup, but I didn't want to bother anyone. But what's it like if you need a ride every day or every other day or every week to the hospital for radiation or chemotherapy, not to mention doctor appointments? What do you do if you're feeling too weak or sick too your stomach to get yourself wherever you need to go? So, I had a little conversation with myself...

Monday morning I dusted off and hopped on the elliptical which has been sitting in our "workout room" (another word for joke) since 2006--unused. This is the Precor I begged Rick to get. We both needed to start exercising again. Rick used it for a really long time, until he decided to join a gym because he wanted to also to do strength training, lift weights and things I can't even imagine.

For the first week or so after we got the Precor I exercised faithfully, but after that, who knows what happened. I know what didn't happen...

The key to exercise for me is similar to what fuels Jake--food. If I'm faithful about it, I can eat more of what I want. The excuse that walking Jake twice a day for about thirty minutes doesn't hold up anymore. I'm packing on pounds I don't want.

The bottom line is this: I need to exercise to stay heart-healthy ... oh and so I can fit into my summer clothes :-)

Better Living Through Modern Chemistry...and thank God!

I thought for sure that the scratchy throat I'd felt a week ago Sunday morning was just the remnants of a late night the evening before. We'd friends over for dinner, I'd had had a busy week, maybe I overextended myself. I never get sick.

But the scratch didn't go away, in fact it got worse and worse, and in all my brilliance, I canceled an pre-scheduled doctor appointment on Tuesday morning because I was too sick to drive. I could have asked my husband to come home from work to drive me, I could have called a friend (I'm sure anyone would have delighted in taking me to the doctor--the ride home, however, once they learned I had strep might have been tricky) but I felt too awful leave the house. My head hurt, my right ear throbbed, I couldn't swallow my own saliva, and I had the chills. I went to the medicine cabinet certain I'd find a magic pill, but when I saw the size of the Aleve I knew my constricted, red, swollen, and yes, white dotted throat couldn't do it.

My throat burned all the time, I couldn't concentrate. So I couldn't read, writing wasn't an option, I knew that. I could hardly talk and believe it or not, walking wasn't too great, either. I canceled everything, no one questioning a thing once they heard my voice and believe me, there was no argument once I said I had strep.

Not swallowing is like telling yourself not think of the color lemon yellow. It's impossible. The more I couldn't swallow, the more I'd wanted to and the more thought I had to. And when I did, it felt miserable, like a vice closing around my throat.

The doctor visit was Wednesday morning. Eureka! Hail the virtues of better living through modern chemistry. He gave a prescription, a Z Pack. Six pills, two at once, then one each day for four. That is one powerful antibiotic. I felt like a rising super woman the next day, less than twenty-four hours after the initial dose.

The only thing that felt good sliding past my tonsils was ice cream. It may not have been the right thing to eat, but the cold against my sizzling throat was perfect.

Being sick is like being on vacation--all the things I couldn't do last week, have piled up for this week ...argh...the difference is if I'd been on a beach in Kauai, I wouldn't mind the work, feel fully rested and content to have relaxed for a week.


1) Best way to avoid strep? Doctor said wash your hands very often (personally I think I should have used a mask on the airplane to/from Montana)

2) My cousin told me to use Motrin instead of Tylenol or Aleve, etc, because it's an antiflammatory -- good advice -- it really worked.

Stay healthy and again, here's to modern medicine!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy Day-After May Day :-)

Belated Happy May Day!

Did you celebrate it yesterday? My old neighbor, Debbie, used to put a fresh bouquet of spring flowers on my doorstep every May first ... a May day custom, she'd say. I'd never heard of that before, but each year I looked forward to her colorful arrangements.

Anyway, I forgot all about it this year. I was too busy racing around -- left the house at 7:15 a.m. and returned at 4:15 p.m. -- geesh! The whole time I was out, I kept thinking about the next thing I had to do until I remembered that I am trying to practice the principles in A New Earth ...and living in the present moment because all we really have is NOW. (Maybe that's why Tolle named one of his books The Power of Now)

Living in the present moment is SO easy in that you don't worry about the past or the future because the job is to focus on now. Remembering to focus on the NOW, however, presents problems because my brain is very busy (even right now) for example, wondering about something else. We're having company for dinner tomorrow night and I can't decide what I'll serve. (future) I won't make that yummy pumpkin-spice-ginger-crust cheesecake because the last time I made it, the crust turned out like mortar. (past)

The challenge? We're conditioned to base our judgements, opinions, criticisms, way of life, -- everything -- on past experience instead of seeing each moment as fresh and new. If we could do that, have each moment be present and new, oh if we could just do that, then we could see possibility and not defeat or same outcome in everything. Interesting, huh?

So, I'm trying to focus on the present moment -- by watching my breath, taking time out to just take a couple of breaths to get back to center, back to the place of stillness deep within -- even in my chaotic world.

I'm not nearly as articulate as Tolle, but he said something that helps me get to that place. He used the example of stillness of the ocean ... the waves could be choppy on the surface (representing chaos/life), but underneath the water is calm (the stillness within). That's the place from which a wellspring of new ideas and possibilities live. :-) (my interpretation)

Okay, so now that I've done this I can go make that BLT I've wanted all day -- tee hee (past and future--what about NOW?)