Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve

Last night was The Best Christmas Eve in memory! For the first time since 1954 - that's over 53 years, folks - I didn't have a Christmas Eve gig! After last Christmas Eve's hair-raising nightmare, in which the perpetually unprepared music director at my former church job attempted a full-blown Christmas Cantata, complete with choir, bell choir and instrumental ensemble, without once rehearsing the entire group together, I was a totally wacked out nervous wreck. Even though things, mercifully, came together and the show was pretty decent, I swore I would NEVER subject myself to that level of blood-pressure-raising insanity again. After a series of further unpreparedness episodes throughout the first part of the year, culminating in the biggest "Fuck You" I've ever had thrown at me, I decided I'd totally and irrevocably HAD IT with that level of frustration, and quit that stupid job in August. Hence, last night's delightful Christmas Eve! The husband and I stayed home and drank champagne in front of a roaring fire, whilst petting cats and listening to schlocky Christmas music on the local Classical music station (some of which was tacky beyond belief... whatever happened to taste???). At about 11:00 a storm blasted through the North Bay, upending 90-gallon trash containers and blowing anything not tied or weighted down all over the yard, and quite successfully finishing off my woebegone tomato plants. The evening's sunset, or lull before the storm, was absolutely gorgeous, though...

Friday, December 19, 2008

New additions to my art collection...

I realize calling the small selection of original art I've purchased over the years (mostly from local artists who are my friends) "A Collection", is a bit presumptuous, but I love supporting artists by adorning my home with their work, interspersed with my own. To me, it is, indeed, "A Collection", and if that makes me sound like a snob, so be it!
My latest additions are two small pieces by Laura Cater-Woods, and represent one of the many directions I want to go with my own small creations... to wit, lots of embellishments in the form of beads and machine and hand stitching.

Hidden Spaces
Hidden Places

Aren't they gorgeous?! I subscribe to Laura's sort-of-weekly "Idea To Image Museletter", a short, but inspiring jolt of beauty that's always a delight to find in my in-box. Subscribe here and you can be inspired too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cats staying warm...

Alessandro and his little sister, Lucia, definitely have the right idea...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ludwig...

Ludwig van Beethoven
16 December 1770 - 26 March 1826

Not my favorite composer, but there's no denying his overwhelming influence on Western Music (that's Western, as in Western European, not Country & ). As a musician of the pianistic ilk, I've been buried in Beethoven most of my life, and long ago reached my saturation point. Too much of 'most anything, no matter how good, is still too much. Too bad for me, because even I will profess his music is stupendously excellent. I think I'll go celebrate this momentous day by listening to some Bach... of whom, in my opinion, too much isn't enough!

Monday, December 15, 2008

If you don't like the weather, wait a minute...

That's been a popular, and true, saying around the Bay Area all my life, and today was a perfect example. After a cat-freaking deluge around 2:00 a.m., we awoke to "scattered clouds" and a bunch of weirded-out cats. At 10:45 I looked out the kitchen window and saw this rain cloud barreling across the top of SF Bay, headed straight for us.

Five minutes later we got royally pelted. Ten minutes after that, it looked like this...

Ten minutes later we got pelted again, this time by hail. Now the cats are completely freaked out. I can hardly wait to see what's in store for the rest of the day - sure glad I don't have to go anyplace today!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Staying Warm...

It's been pretty cold for the last few days (well, cold by my wimpy standards, anyway...) It was a six-cat night on my bed last night, and the cats are getting inventive about how to stay warm during the day. This is Elvis's method.

Friday, December 12, 2008

YAY!!! Romanesco is back!!!

I'd never seen, or even heard of, one of these things before last January when Riverdog Farm sent one in their weekly veggie box. Since then, it's become my favorite vegetable, though they're impossible to find in any markets around here. Besides being delicious, it's the most beautiful vegetable I've ever seen... almost too beautiful to eat! It looks like an intricate forest of Christmas trees, or like a 3-D puzzle, with the pointy bits being made up of pointy bits, which are made up of pointy bits. It's a member of the cauliflower family, and tastes a little like cauliflower, only much richer. You can steam it, or boil it, but that's too ordinary for something this elegant. I usually turn it into a frittata - break the bulb into small segments and saute in (lots of) butter in an ovenproof frying pan (I use my trusty 8" cast iron fry pan), with some chopped onion and garlic. Lightly whisk 4-5 eggs and pour into the pan and gently stir until the eggs begin to harden. Generously sprinkle in some Feta cheese, stir a few more times and remove from heat. Sprinkle liberally with shredded Asiago (or Parmesan) cheese, and put under the broiler for a short time. Mind it carefully, as in, don't run off and do any other task, as it will burn very quickly (and trust me, few things smell worse than burned frittata!) Remove from broiler and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then slice and serve. Mmmmmmm...!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Three Peckered Billy Goat...???

Obviously, organic coffee is going off in a whole new direction! I was standing at the coffee shelf at the El Cerrito Natural Grocery Company the other day, reading the "poetry" on the side of this package:
"A brew that is too placid
may leave your billy flaccid
But three willies on a billy,
is that too many for a nanny?
If not, then your billy should sup
from the cup that keeps him up.
So fill up his cup or apply as a lotion,
then kick back and enjoy his three-stroke motion."

Whilst trying not to make a fool of myself by laughing too hard, a little old lady looked over my shoulder and said, "Oh, Honey, you have to try that. That shit's good!" With a recommendation like that, what else could I do? I bought it!

I decided "that shit" was too special for my ordinary old Braun coffee maker, so I bought it a brand new pot...
Made for each other...!
And, by the way, That Shit IS good!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Plugging away...

I got the dolls "framed" for the newest Q.I.P. (Quilt In Progress - see December 5 post). I used some of my hand-dyed solids from Primrose Gradations. I really like the way they look, and now wish I'd used solids to frame the huts and trees, but I don't feel like un-sewing and starting over. I'll make it work somehow - I love a challenge!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Always Remembered...

John Lennon
10/9/40 - 12/8/80
Musician - Songwriter - Artist - Peace Activist

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Staff Meeting

I don't know anything about this picture, only that I absolutely love it! Someone once told me it was titled, "Staff Meeting", so that's what I like to call it. It would have been fun to have one or two of these ladies attend staff meetings at my previous job - might have livened things up a little. Sure wish I knew where I could get one of those hats...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Party Time...

A few weeks ago, a wonderful group of ladies from the job I recently left celebrated me with a fabulous lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. They presented me with the most beautiful and fragrant bunch of roses I've ever experienced. My studio smelled divine for a week, and the scent yet lingers as I've dried the rose petals and turned them into potpourri.

My dear friend, Betty, one of the most gracious and charming "Angels" ever to grace a my life, gave me this delightful little doll, who was wearing a sign that said, "Free At Last!" The sentiment and the dancing doll perfectly expressed my sentiments about my departure. Sometimes, although it's difficult, it's best to quit while you're ahead!

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Quilt Underway...

At PIQF (Pacific International Quilt Festival) this fall, I purchased a whimsical panel by Sonie Ruffin called "My African Village", designed for Andover Fabrics. Primarily, the colors appealed to me, but I went gaga thinking about how the panel's pictures could mix it up with the fabrics in my African stash. The panel included eight eight-inch squares - two with trees, two with huts, and 4 squares with two dolls in each. The dolls were printed one head-up and the other head-down, which looked weird, so I cut the doll squares in half and wound up with eight 4x8" rectangles. The huts and tree squares have their borders on, and here's how they look:

I'll get to work on the dolls tomorrow.

I haven't decided how I'm going to tie everything together yet, but that's the way I work - like they say in Star Trek: "Full ahead impulse!"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How To Relax...

1. Be sure fireplace is active.
2. Chase everyone out of your favorite chair.
3. Moosh pillows and blankets into a nest.
4. Zzzzzz.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goodbye and Good Riddance...

After enduring a 150 mile daily commute for upwards of six years, Martin's Chrysler gave up the ghost four years ago after logging 325K+ miles. From that time it sat in the garage, slowly being turned into a storage unit while we dicked around trying to decide to repair it or dump it. In the meantime, we forgot to file non-operational status with the DMV, whereupon we accumulated several years worth of overdue registration fees. Then we allowed ourselves to be confounded by how to straighten out the ensuing mess, and the car just sat, quietly rotting, while the tires went flat and it accumulated more and more boxes and other crap we wanted to get out of our lives. One day we heard a vehicle donation ad on the radio that claimed if we would just give them our car, they would take care of all DMV issues. Just what we needed - someone to dig our butts out of this debacle. We called, and within two weeks, the problem was solved and the car was out of our lives forever!

Up, up, and away, and outta here...

Our last (and best) view ever...

Thanks, Mr. Lopez!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thankful for Thanksgiving Leftovers...

Say what? Who is EVER thankful for Thanksgiving leftovers? Not I, usually, however this year was different - I prepared a delicious eight-pound lasagne with all the trimmings - garlic bread, stir-fried Italian veggies, green salad with persimmons, apples, cranberries and a lemon vinegrette, and, in my one nod to traditionalism, pumpkin pie. The trimmings are long since gone, but last night we enjoyed another dose of lasagne, which, unlike turkey, gets better the longer it sits, quietly seasoning, in the refrigerator. There's enough for two more dinners, and I'm ALWAYS thankful for any dinner I don't have to prepare from scratch.
I remember so many past years when Thanksgivings were a major nightmare dreaded by all - dinner with the whole family, few of whom could stand each other, followed by some sibling arguments, the obligatory football game, too much to drink, and the necessity of graciously accepting a ton of leftovers "so all of this good food doesn't go to waste." If there was always so much left over, why cook so $#%@&!! much in the first place????? Alas, that was a lesson that never got learned... Now that there's just the two of us, neither of whom gives a fig for tradition, I think we've finally gotten it right.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Is It December Already???

November was the absolute pits. I came down with some flaming crud on the 16th and I still feel like crap. What a waste of time... sniffling, sneezing, coughing, croaking, wheezing, barfing, headaches, body aches... well, you get the idea. Not once, not twice, but THREE times, fergodsake, I got better and then got knocked back down again. I kept pumping myself full of vitamin C and other healthy stuff since I HATE taking drugs, but I finally caved in to some aspirin and cough medicine a week ago, and grudgingly have to admit they helped a little. I've pushed my butt to keep doing stuff and try to hang on to some semblance of a life, but it ain't been easy, folks. I kept going with my music lessons, and, thankfully, managed to avoid infecting either of my teachers, and I drug myself to one keyboard or the other and tried to practice a little most days, but that was it. No quilting, no gardening, no stargazing, no Starbucks - just sleep, sleep, sleep, sneeze a little, cough a lot, wheeze damned near constantly, barf a little, listen to my head pound, sleep some more... what a dull, rotten, miserable, pathetic existence. Even my old friend, Jack Daniels, couldn't help me out, so you KNOW it was serious. Alright, I'll stop whining. Even I'm sick of listening to me.