Monday April 30th 2012, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Food

Keep me away from my kitchen for two weeks of traveling and then you can’t get me out of it. A pair of chocolate tortes yesterday, with one going to the neighbor who took in our mail; Alice Medrich‘s  Marjolaine (minus the espresso powder) today, (her chocolate cookbooks are the best!) and then chocolate pudding for tomorrow’s breakfast to use up the leftover egg yolks.  That one’s cooling as I type.

Note that when you toast hazelnuts you have to rub the skins off afterwards: they’re bitter. And after all that work, the nuts go rancid within a few weeks and must be used.

Twist my arm. I have at least another cup’s worth in the fridge to go play with. If you ground them into a paste and added ganache…? I may have to find out. Anybody got a favorite hazelnut recipe? For me to be able to eat it, it has to be in pretty fine pieces at least, hence the marjolaine, which is ganache of varying intensities covering four layers of ground hazelnuts and almonds embedded in meringue. And then the darkest ganache to cover it all.

This is also what happens when I need to gain weight.

Only, my sweetie wishes he had that problem…

Parker pictures
Sunday April 29th 2012, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Family

And now for some Parker pictures from Richard’s graduation. He played with his truck and he played peekaboo while exploring everything.

Even when he was dog-tired from being too interested in all the new places to take a nap, he stayed cheerful. Such a sweetie.

We’re home! (again)
Saturday April 28th 2012, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

So we got home Monday night and flew out again Thursday morning and home again tonight. Richard’s graduation and then Michelle’s, with the help of some very antique frequent flier miles.

I so wanted to stop by Diana’s on our way to the airport, but we had made it Thursday morning by three minutes before they started boarding, and snow–*snow*!–was predicted in Michigan; Richard didn’t want to risk the time, not with all the people who might be cramming the airport with the graduation festivities all ending and the possible road hazards with the weather and returning the rental car.  And all that.

Michelle’s roommate had her mom staying with them and so Michelle’s friend Melissa offered sight unseen to put us up for the two nights; all the hotels around had been booked for that weekend for months, we were told. So a big shout-out to Melissa for her kindness; she’s such a good soul, and her grandpa she takes care of is a love, too. Apple. Tree. Yes. And Grandpa loves his birdfeeder.

It was so good to see our daughter in her own environment. To see where–well, everything, and quite a few really good people. To meet her peach of a roommate.

We did stop by Friday night at Lisa and Mike’s, the friends whose daughter Tara is the namesake of my redwood-burl-pattern shawl. (Holy cow. $899 for a new copy on Amazon tonight? Hey, y’all, go to Purlescence; they’ve got it in stock at cover.)

I asked their youngest, now in high school, the only one not born in California, if he remembered meeting us when he was little. How I picked him up and twirled him around and around, arms to outstretched arms, spinning, spinning till we both fell down and his oldest brother David exclaiming, NOW you’ve had the Sister Hyde experience!

Nope, he shook his head a bit bashfully, don’t remember that.

That’s okay, you were pretty little.

Today, our GPS tried to route us straight through campus to get to the airport.  As if! We turned left instead and made it tell us how to get to the highway going around all the other celebrants.

New adventures and new places to come. Our children have the whole world open to them.

My little girl
Friday April 27th 2012, 5:19 pm
Filed under: Family

Michelle’s college presented their most celebrated award and announced the winner. We all clapped–and then they gave a shout out to another student whose work they wanted recognized, too.

Whose mother managed not to yell, Go SHELLE!!!

But only just barely.

Tarzan squirrel
Thursday April 26th 2012, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

How on earth did it get up there! Again!

The first time, the morning after we got home, an all-black squirrel was on top of the suet cage I’d kept above Kim’s birdfeeder. In three years, no squirrel had ever reached either one no matter how enticing they had ever seemed: they had checked it out and decided it couldn’t be done and that was that.

But we went out of town, the bigger birdfeeder ran out, and the other must have still been loaded.

The first thing I noticed when we got home was that Kim’s beautiful stained-glass feeder was smashed on the ground. But that was the pretty one!

Years ago, Richard ran some insulated wiring through a hole he drilled at the top of the wall of his home office at the foot of the L of the patio.  A few hours after the first time I caught him, I looked up from the computer and somehow that same squirrel was swinging on those wires high above my nose on the other side of the glass, trying to find a new path to that suet cake and not sure how to make the leap from there–the angle of them was totally wrong. How he got there I can only make a wild guess.

Nothing but glass and height between us and it knew it was caught again. Only, this time it missed its intended halfway-down point and fell seven feet straight down to the concrete.

And that was that. Order was restored. I hoped.

I’d been missing my usual black-and-red squirrel but he had disappeared. And yet this morning, he was back in his usual post, in charge of all things patio like before as if he’d never left–and the all-black one with the gap in his tail was gone.

And then I went outside.


Well maybe the others won’t copy his leaps after all, not after that. He got carried away with it. I know a talon-toed chef who clearly served squirrel for breakfast.

A baker’s chocolate
Wednesday April 25th 2012, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

“Wait a minute. Say that again?” She zipped around to my side of the counter to hear better.

I was explaining the term manufacturing cream to the clerk at Trader Joe’s as an explanation for why I had a five-high stack of their Pound Plus 500g bittersweet bars and not much else to check out; one bar, I told her, a cup and a half of that super-heavy cream that I bought around the corner at Milk Pail, and you’ve got the glaze for two chocolate tortes.

And a half gallon of that cream is enough to make ten of them. (Or lots of truffles to go with.) Hence the stack.

“You’re a baker!”

I grinned.

The first two tortes were already cooling. I got home, threw the first bar on the floor over and over inside its sturdy paper wrapper (usually I put it inside a ziploc too, but I was living dangerously) to break up the chocolate for melting into the cream, and glazed and cooled the cakes.

And then I took one to each friend who’d played airport taxi for us on last week’s trip. I loved loved loved seeing the looks on their faces as I rang the doorbells and handed them over.

I saved a spoonful of the glaze for melting into my hot cocoa tomorrow.

Tuesday April 24th 2012, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

Lots and lots of things I had thought I would get done today, but it turned out to be a good one for resting up and taking it easy. Found the right yarn for my aunt. Swatched a pattern idea. Nixed it.

Then an email came in: a friend had a severe migraine and a daughter to pick up at the airport in less than an hour. Help?

And so her daughter and I had a great visit all the way home, a rare treat when it’s someone else’s college kid coming back. I thought she was surely joking when she mentioned it was cold (it was 72) but no; her university’s in Hawaii, and she was laughing at herself for de-acclimatizing so easily. (I’d love to visit her campus…)

That got me going, and so I went to Milk Pail to get the manufacturing cream to make chocolate tortes for the people who gave us our own rides to and from the airport this past week.

And…  Just before dusk, in the blink of an eye and then gone, a Cooper’s hawk swerved under the birdfeeder and over the black squirrel that had no idea that that was something he should be worried about.  I got to see one of my hawks! I’m home.

And finally home
Monday April 23rd 2012, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Family

Which one were we in?

I told her.

My mom: “That’s the bedroom I was in before I went to college!”

My grandparents built their dream house in the late 1940’s on a hillside overlooking Salt Lake City. My grandmother wanted it old and traditional; my grandfather wanted it new and modern.

So they compromised: at the front, you see a lovely stone house–I have always loved stone houses, and if you’ve got Rocky (note the name) Mountains facing your  front yard… And the back is floor-to-ceiling windowspace across the living room, as if the house were in California rather than Utah.

My grandparents sold it; as I understand it, another couple lived there for decades, and finally it came back on the market.

My uncle, the baby of his family and the one with the most memories of that house, snatched it immediately.

He invited us to come stay there while we were visiting for our son Richard’s graduation from BYU Law school; his beds would be more comfortable than the small hide-a-bed at my folks (true). My brother wanted to come from Colorado with his three girls, the chances for us to see each other being far too few, and Uncle Bob offered them his house, too. Plenty of space, feel free, come!

We had such a good time…

We got to see Richard and Kim and her parents, (my husband) Richard’s sister and her family, one son having just finished his undergrad at BYU, aunts, uncles,  nephews, my parents. Some of my cousins visited us. Today we got to see Richard’s other sister, who recently finished her chemo treatments and looked so much better than the last time I saw her. (As I was told, too, over and over by everybody.)

And we got to play with Parker! Pictures coming.

I asked Uncle Bob, who was about to grab his own plane out, what Aunt Joyce’s favorite color was.

And you know he suddenly knew exactly why I was asking that as his face totally lit up.  Blue. Then he clarified, Light blue.

Let the stash search begin.

I could get used to this
Saturday April 21st 2012, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family

John caught me doing the dishes and protested, Mom–that’s MY job.

Saturday April 21st 2012, 7:47 am
Filed under: Family

My older brother came from Colorado with his girls. My sister-in-law and her family came from Texas (one of theirs had finished his undergrad). My daughter-in-law’s parents came from California. My parents came.

That was the first graduation I’ve ever been to where, except for one enthusiastic family from I think Hawaii, the audience actually held their applause as requested till the end–but maybe the fact that Richard’s was a law school ceremony had something to do with it.

And Parker, surrounded by friendly strangers and unfamiliar surroundings and a lack of nap times, charmed the socks off everybody anyway. He is such a sweet baby.

Day 2 with the grandson
Thursday April 19th 2012, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

The early bird flew down, grabbed at a worm but it got away, hopped a few feet over thataway (it had just stopped raining) and went for another and missed again. The robin flew.

Awhile later, 10:30 or so, a robin came again. It went straight to the first spot, only, this bird leaned its head sideways close to the ground, listening and quickly looking down a few times and bam!  Got it! It stretched and stretched what had to have been a meal big enough to last all day or to feed a whole nestful.

All the bird had needed was patient watching and listening.

We have such a patient daughter-in-law. Our son Richard is, too.

We had great fun watching and listening and playing with and cheering up a tired Parker today. It’s hard to sleep in new exciting places where you might miss out on something if you didn’t stay awake every minute (except 20 of them that snatched him despite his best efforts.)

He was easily cheered. I told his mother, he is so clearly a well-loved child.

Parker is turning 16 months on his grandpa’s birthday
Wednesday April 18th 2012, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Family

Parker is even cuter in person. Which is why this post is so short.

And he recognized us from our Skype chats! I think our voices and mannerisms confirmed it for him and he got the BIGGEST grin on his face!

Shoe, fly, don’t bother me
Tuesday April 17th 2012, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The squirrels always watch me carefully when I reach for the sandals just inside the door: this means business. They’ll tense,  turn halfway so as to run but not taking their eyes off me, frozen and ready to explode in motion.

Because if I’m putting those sandals on it means I’m serious. I’m coming into their territory.

I put some suet out for the ground birds today and needed to run an errand and just really didn’t want it all to go to the bushytails while the towhees and wrens and juncos and golden-crowned sparrows got nothing . Hmm.

And so, for the first time, I tried putting those sandals outside to stand guard, remembering the chant of childhood: stinky feet smell my feet give me something good to eat.

Or not.

None of the squirrels would even come back to the patio, and an hour later the suet was untouched.  Somehow even the bluejay stayed away, and it’s been pretty aggressive lately (I assume while feeding nestlings).

Huh. Well, that worked!

I’ll have to keep it a novelty, though.

Knitters’ secret code
Monday April 16th 2012, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Wildlife

(I’m putting in some old photos to show off some of my patterns.)

I was at the pharmacy today and admired–out loud–the beautiful handknit shawl in muted plums the woman next to me was wearing.  The yarn was clearly hand dyed, and I asked her, Madeline Tosh?

Another knitter! She was thrilled. We ended up sitting down together and talking lace shawls, parting reluctantly only because she had to leave for her doctor’s appointment.

And I now knew why I’d gone out the door wishing I were wearing some of my knitting, but the afternoon was a bit warm for it. But I tell you: she totally made my day.

And to add a total non sequitur that is close to my heart, remembering that opossum: please. Make sure you’re all the way awake before you try to chase marauding wildlife away from your birdfeeders.

Sunday April 15th 2012, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

Coming home from church, Richard saw it too during a red light and exclaimed, “That’s a big one!” The sun shone through its feathers enough to verify that our Zone-tailed hawk was back, the one with the eight-octave wings.

Only, instead of soaring at a leisurely pace towards the decimation of its frantic prey like before, a crow that was losing distance fast, this time, a robin-size bird was attacking it. It was cartoonish: the littler bird was I think less than the size of the feet of the monstrous other, but it veered at the intruder again and again (not quite making contact), You leave my babies ALONE! Get OUT!

A good natured, Well all right, then. And it Zoned out.

Later in the evening, there was a reception held by old friends of Karen Bentley Pollick while she was in town and she had invited me to come. I felt a little the intruder compared to her childhood friends she would be seeing but I was looking forward to it.

Before I ever got in the door there, I saw an elderly couple talking to someone outside, she in a motorized chair unable to go up the front steps, he standing, and in delight I exclaimed, That’s got to be Doris!

I stepped to where she could see me, with ohmygoshwhatareYOUdoing here! on both sides.

Doris was the first lupus patient I ever met after my own diagnosis, the one who took me under her wing and helped me get used to the idea of facing a major disease for the rest of my life. Thank you Karen for making it so I got to see her again! Doris has survived postpolio syndrome, lupus, and breast cancer, and at 81 she’s still going and ready to party. Her Don is a peach and I have no doubt his support has had a great deal to do with it.

We reminisced a bit and they couldn’t believe my babies were so grown up. Three graduating from grad school this Spring? How! Wow.

I got a moment to talk to him inside and thanked him for looking after her all these years–and the sudden, nakedly grateful look on his face surprised me. Someone knew.

He asked how I was doing. I said, I’m doing well enough now to be able to say that this is what I waited twenty-two years since my diagnosis to get to. It is nice to be at this point.

And I wished silently that Doris’s progressive postpolio syndrome could have had that as an option.

Don is one of the best, with an easy laugh that sees the two of them through much.

I’ve got me a good one, too.  And today he looked up with me and we enjoyed the show in the sky together.