Saturday, May 29, 2010

Exercise for the soul

Jerry and I went for a walk through the park after dinner last night. Our first walk in quite a while. He used to walk every day and I could hardly keep up with him, but he's out of practice, so our evening strolls are now at my speed, which includes necessary stops to look at ducks, spiders, plant life and whatever else I happen to notice along the way.

This time it was the shimmering reflections on the lake that I found so captivating. Click to enlarge any of these photos.

Obviously, if I'm stopping to look at all this stuff, I'm not getting a very good cardiovascular workout. But I'd like to think it's still beneficial in other ways.

Pepper Steak

Another food post. This came out really good and was really easy.
3 small bell peppers of various colors
1 medium onion
10 oz. (approximately) of beef, thinly sliced.
I made this on a cast-iron griddle on the barbecue. First the meat, cooked till just brown with a little oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Then the veggies are added and cooked, stirring occaisionally till they are starting to soften and get brown around the edges, but the colors are still bright.
Served over brown rice. Yummy.

Not So Super 8

For the last several years, we have been storing a big box containing an old home-movie projector and a bunch of reels of old Super-8 film that once belonged to Jerry's parents. I have always wanted to see what (or more accurately, who) was on those old reels, and he has been avoiding going through them, not certain if the memories would bring up emotions he'd rather not deal with right now.

Well, I guess enough time had gone by that he felt like he might be interested in seeing them.

Turns out, there wasn't too much to get emotional about. They were, almost all of them, blurry, dark, and boring. Certainly nothing worth converting to a DVD, or even capturing as a still shot.

Of course, that didn't stop me from doing my own low-tech screen capture of Jerry's dad, out of focus, with a big old piece of dust going across his shoulder and the edge of our headboard in the corner of the shot. (we projected the movies onto our bedroom wall.)

I came away from the experience with a headache from just trying to see the images and make some sense of them, like watching a dream on a movie reel.

A sobering thought: Everybody who was a kid in those movies is now middle-aged, or older. Everyone middle-aged in the movies is dead.

Jerry's dad coached girls' softball teams back in the day, so a few of the reels were of their games. Because those movies were shot outdoors in bright daylight (unlike most of the other movies which were shot indoors) they were the easiest to see. Neither Jerry nor I recognized any of the kids in those games, but in looking at the ballpark and surrounding neighborhood, I found my imagination wandering. If only I could insert myself into that scene. Into that time. Not the ballgame, necessarily. Just the neighborhood. Oh, to return to the time of my youth and just stroll through it and absorb it all. Savor it, because the first time around I squandered it.

Then, I realized something else. Until they invent time travel, all I can do is savor today, because it's all I have. And my life today will become the blurry and vague memories of tomorrow if I don't take the time to enjoy, reflect, remember. And maybe even if I do.

Mediterranean Lentil Salad

I haven't made this salad in a long time, but I had a bit of a craving for it lately and I finally made some for our lunch today. It's different, which is why I like it. And it's healthy, which is nice, because my dinner tonight will be decidedly less so. (can you say babyback ribs and Hawaiian rolls?)

Actually, I've been trying to be sensible in my meal-planning lately, in the sense that I have actually been planning meals in advance and not just engaging my family in repeated (and so annoying) verbal volleyball games: "What do you feel like eating?" "I dunno, what to you feel like eating?" , which invariably lead to a fast food run, which I often regret later.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try a new salmon recipe.

Roses at sunset

I like my neighbor's roses. They are called "Iceberg", and they are a delicate white with glossy green leaves.

But what I also really like is that these roses blush in spatters of pink as they die.

I love to see the pinkness illuminated by the evening sun.

Also, living or dead, they attract bugs, which I always appreciate.

They smell nice, too.

Have you ever noticed the star on the backside of a rose?

These are some of my mini-roses, also nicely illuminated by the last rays of the sun on my porch.

Friday, May 14, 2010

3 Legs. 2 Years. 1 Good Dog.

He's done it. Boomie's made it 2 whole years. That's 18 months longer than the vet said he'd live when his leg was amputated. This is without chemo. And some dogs don't live this long even with chemo. We have been very, very lucky for him to still be with us, and still walking and smiling and wagging his tail!

His existence seems tenuous at times. His back leg is continuing to get weaker and weaker. And while he may not have had chemo, he still takes medications for pain and inflammation, and supplements for his joints and his immune system. He recently developed an infection and is on antibiotics. The vet has also found some suspicious new "nodules" that may be more cancer.

But we are trying not to worry too much about all that stuff. My plan continues to be keeping Boomer comfortable and loving him every day. Seeing him continue to enjoy his life is like a gift every day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

And on second thought, he decided I wasn't that fat.

So I'm still working with the little first grade boy 3 mornings a week. He's come a long way, but he still has a long way to go. There are times, like today, when he just doesn't want to work. Doesn't want to listen, even. He sat with his hands over his ears rather than listen to the story in his reading book. So I returned him to the classroom and told his teacher that S. was not cooperating today. She turned to the rest of the class and asked the children, "Would anybody else like to read with Mrs. Calisher today?" I was amazed to see almost every hand shoot up. "Mrs. Calisher, would you please choose another child to read with you," she suggested. I picked a little girl.

"You can use S's reading book," she added, which I thought was a twist of the knife, figuratively speaking.

Poor S, no doubt remorseful by now, and most likely at the teacher's prompting, wrote a note of apology and handed it to me while I was reading with his classmate:

deyor meses Kalishr
im vere sore weod chrie egne. frome S....

As much as I was touched by his note (and yes, I could read it in spite of the "kid spelling"),
I found his little drawing of me to be really funny. He drew me first as he saw me, as he thinks of me apparently, then decided maybe I looked too fat, so he trimmed me down. Way down!

In real life, I'm afraid I look more like the fat lady than the stick figure. The face is actually a pretty good likeness, except my teeth look a little better in person.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Found Art

A cocktail sipping octopus in the onion patch

As I was working in my front yard garden, I tried to ignore the scrap of crumpled paper that seemed to have come from someone's fast food trash, maybe from a passing car, and landed in my onions. But when I was ready to call it quits and go back inside, I knew I couldn't leave trash just sitting there, so I picked it up. That's when I realized it wasn't a wax-paper fast-food wrapper,
but a piece of tracing paper with a drawing on it.

Here is a beguiling she-octopus, apparently in the process of being wined and dined.
There is a name. Is it Pike or Dike? Neither sounds particularly flattering. Thinking she might be some kind of Manga cartoon character, I tried to google various iterations of Octopus Girl and Pike and Dike. All kinds of strange and some rather unsavory images popped up, none of which matched this creature.

Into the scanner she went. I traced her in ArtRage and now she is clean and wrinkle-free. I'm leaving her name off for now, until I can possibly figure out what her name really is. What color should I make her?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Boomie: Waiting for peas

Here's my boy. Just look at his poor, twisted posture :(
He has a new obsession. Peas. He's sitting there staring at my planter barrels full of snow peas.

This is the object of his desire. It's my fault, though. These things are so loaded with pea pods that every time I went into the yard, I would just pick a couple and eat them right there. Boomer, in typical lab fashion, wanted in on the deal. So I'd give him one. It didn't take long before he was hooked!

So now every time he goes outside, he waits for peas.

Oh, and Marley has developed the same addiction, but she does not sit and wait while staring longingly at the peas. She goes around to the back of the barrels and helps herself. You can see her black butt in this photo as she's doing just that. She has also figured out that there are carrots growing in the barrels, and she tries to help herself to those, too :P