Wednesday, December 11, 2019

What to do when you're poorly.

Eric and I completed a 1000-piece puzzle over the last week while nursing nasty colds. I hadn't worked on a puzzle in decades and mostly enjoyed the process. We completed the frame first, I assume that's how most folk do it, then we tried to complete as many structures within the framework as possible. The least enjoyable bit was filling in the sky as that wasn't so much matching swatches of color as it was literally trying every mostly gray piece against every other until something clicked. 

Here we are pre-sky completion--



Color me lazy, but I purchased this San Francisco-scape puzzle because I thought that it would be easier to complete than not. Actually, had I had a better look at the cover art, then I would have realized that nothing depicted was geographically accurate. So, yeah, Chinatown is across the street from the Ferry Building and the Palace of Fine Arts would be appear to be under the Golden Gate Bridge! Nothing was logical about this scene, but it does look nice now that it's completed. What to do with a completed puzzle? Does one just deconstruct it and pass it on to someone else? I imagine that charity shops won't accept puzzles as donations in case they are a piece or two short. Imagine how frustrating it would be to attempt to complete a massive puzzle like this only to have a few pieces missing from the box. No, thanks. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Feeling poorly, 007 & a short trip down memory lane.

Kids are pint-sized germ transmitters. My cousin's children, ages 3 and 6, are, I now think, especially germ-y. We played a few rounds of Concentration with them while we waited for the Thanksgiving turkey to finish cooking and that's all it took. A few days after Turkey Day, both my husband and I came down with nasty colds. It's been a coughing-sneezing-sore throat fest for the past four days at our house. 

Eric worries that this cold has set him back for the Festive 500, training-wise. I hope not as it would really bum him out to not be able to complete the ride. Anyway, I suppose we'll see come Xmas how he fares on the bike. 

***

Possibly a controversial opinion, but I think that Timothy Dalton was the best (and best-looking) Bond. His Bond was a more faithful portrayal, i.e., he was not always keen on following orders. Why did Dalton only make two Bond flicks? Was he not warmly received in the role when his films came out? I don't remember what I thought other than he was a more physically attractive Bond than his predecessor, Roger Moore. I mean, I dug Moore in the role, but, over time, his films felt kind of goofy. 

***

I was doing a small shop at a market in my hometown today, loaded up on throat lozenges and cough medicine, when I saw the mother of a childhood friend of mine. I intercepted her as she was making her way out of the store and asked if she were Mrs. N. She said that she was and I told her that I had been a friend of her daughter, Margaret, back in 1974-5. I wasn't yet in school and I think that my mother and Mrs. N. had gotten to know each other in a women's group. That must have been how Margaret, who was one year older, and I met. I was five years old when I last saw Mrs. N. She must be in her 80s by now, but, to me, she looked just the same as she had all those years ago. 'I can't believe you recognized me!' She told me that my recognizing her made her made her feel very good. I'm glad that she felt complimented. 

Mrs. N. and I chatted a bit about our families as we made our way out to the parking lot. She surprised me by remembering my mother's name and that, as a girl, I had been a towhead. My hair is now dirty blonde. It's been almost 45 years since we last saw each other. How remarkable that old memories yet bubble to the surface! She told me that Margaret had married a very kind and an intelligent man. I said that I would have expected nothing less as her daughter was also very intelligent who wouldn't have married a dummy. She laughed and said that she'd have to tell her daughter that when she comes to visit for the Christmas holidays. I asked Mrs. N. to give her daughter my well-wishes before we parted ways.

I hope that this doesn't sound like a humble brag, but I think I may be a bit of what's known as a 'super recognizer'. I'm actually no longer as sharp as I once was in the recall department, but still do fairly well as the above example might indicate. I should have put my skills to use when I was young and become a spy or a private detective


Left to right: Corky, me, Margaret, and Chris celebrating my birthday in Golden Gate Park, 1975.



Monday, December 2, 2019

Time trial bike at the Polo Field

-a very short clip of Eric whizzing down the track.



Yesterday, I drove to the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park to pick up my husband after his time trial bike* practice ride. He rode for nearly five hours and did 100 miles around the track. He's training for the Festive 500. The Festive 500 is a bike challenge that sees participants cycling 500 kilometers (310 miles) between Christmas and New Year's. My husband will then post his ride on Strava, an app. that runners and cyclers use to track their progress. Rapha, a fancy bike gear and apparel shop, sponsors the Festive 500, so, I believe, Eric will then receive a spiffy Rapha jersey commemorating the ride. Not bad!

My husband, Eric, has completed the Festive 500 in previous years. That usually entailed a few plus rides to work and back and he'd have his 500 km. This year he'll attempt cycling the entire 500 kilometers in one day at the Polo Field. That would mean about 15 hrs. of cycling on a short winter's day. 

I didn't initially see the appeal of track cycling, but he won't have to deal with either stop signs or lights or cars. Plus, there's a public toilet nearby the track and he can stop and drink water/have a quick snack when he needs to. His average speed yesterday was 22-23 mph. He couldn't achieve and maintain such a speed on the open road.


Before the rain came.


Just as I arrived to pick him up, the rain started to come down quite steadily. That was good timing on my part!

*a time trial bike is a bike specifically designed for racing 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving prep

I made a kick-ass cranberry sauce a few years ago for the holidays. It's here, if you are so inclined. I returned to the recipe this year forgetting all the the extra bits I had put in the last go around. Not wanting to brave the supermarket on the afternoon before the big day, I just settled for the three-ingredient basic recipe: cranberries, sugar and orange juice. Well, I tossed a bit of orange and lemon zest into the mix as well. Couldn't hurt, right? 

In addition to making cranberry sauce, I baked a couple of pumpkin pies for the occasion. There will be a few gluten-free folks in attendance tomorrow, so these were baked with a GF crust. I used a 'sugar' made from monk fruit, a small, melon-like fruit grown in Southern China. One of the good things about this sugar substitute is that it does not raise blood sugar levels. It's been quite a popular sugar alternative around here for the past few years. In addition to the gluten-free folks, there will be one diabetic at the table tomorrow, so he will be able to have pumpkin pie for dessert, if he so chooses! 

The pumpkin pie recipe I used yielded more than anticipated, so I poured the remainder in to a large ramekin and baked it along with the pies. After all had cooled, I ate the contents of the ramekin. It felt a bit decadent to be eating pumpkin pie filling sans crust. 


Cooling on the back steps.
We'll be driving to my cousin's up north for Thanksgiving. This will be the first event I've attended at his house since he and his partner opted for an open floor-plan remodel. Gone is the dining room. The new center piece of the ground floor is a massive kitchen island smack dab in the middle of the space. The living room has become a bit of a walk-through way. I think the dining table now lives somewhere in the kitchen space. My hope is that there will be an area tucked away somewhere on the ground floor where one could hide away should all the socializing become a bit too much. 

Happy Turkey Day to those who are celebrating!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Local Bird Made Good



The Snowy Plover has made a comeback. I don't recall seeing this little bird at the beach when I was a kid. From what I understand, somewhat recent concerted conservation efforts have aided in the Plover's return. I now see these wee ones at my hometown beach quite often. They and the ubiquitous Sand Piper do their back-n-forth with the surf in search of a little sand crab snack. As a result of the Snowy Plover's resurgence, a local coffee shop has named a beverage in its honor. 



The Snowy Plover 
This Snowy Plover is found along the West Coast of the United States, parts of South America and the Caribbean. ➡️







This Snowy Plover is found at a small coffee shop chain in San Francisco called Andytown.                             ⬇️

The Snowy Plover

Check out the Plovers (and one Gull) awaiting the incoming tide.




I hung out at the beach watching both birds and surf until sunset. It was chilly out (11C/51F), but there air was still. I found the evening to be crisp and lovely. 

And here's a parting shot taken right before I left---

Saturday, November 23, 2019

What can I say?

How my brain works at present: Away from my laptop, I think of all sorts of topics to share here, but when I'm back in front of the keyboard it's crickets chirping and tumbleweeds blowing. 

For you Warner Bros. cartoon fans---

I feel like I'm opening the box on myself in front of an audience and zilch.



And, of course, I would rather feel as inspired as our man in the top hat.

'Hello, my honey! Hello, my baby! Hello, my ragtime gaaaal!'



I mentioned previously that I had had a wee tiff with another pool-goer a few weeks back. If anyone needs a refresher it's here

So there was another doozy of a pool interaction today that did not include me, fortunately. I arrived at the pool just after start time and found the lanes marked 'slow' peopled by folk from the water aerobics class. One lane had a gal who was just sort of floating back and forth down half the length of the lane. And, if you'll read the post linked above, then you'll know why I did not attempt to get into that lane. The other 'slow' lane had a man doing some sort of back stroke that called for his arms to be mostly perpendicular to his torso. As the man both had long arms and was scooting down the middle of the lane not noticing anyone or anything else, I decided to join another swimmer in the 'medium' lap lane even though I myself swim rather slowly. 

A woman showed up to join the back stroke swimmer's lane. He neither acknowledged her nor really moved over to accommodate her in the space. She was doing a stroke that kept her head above water. I watched as she dodged his flailing arm each time they passed one another. If it weren't so lame, it would have been comical. 

Later, I heard him complain to her that she was 'too fast' to be in his lane. For the record, she wasn't. Eventually, the man left the lap lane and moved back into the aerobics class. The woman continued her slow swim down one side of the lap lane for a good 15 minutes longer. Good on her for sticking it out. I know I could not have.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Balmy weather and JoJo Rabbit

I spent the afternoon yesterday swimming laps at the Brisbane Lido. (Yes, I'm using the British term for 'outdoor pool' because it sounds somehow snazzier than saying 'outdoor pool'.) The weather was a slightly puzzling 22C/74F, so I was able to lounge in the warmth by the pool post-swim. It was lovely. Not wanting to go indoors as the sun was still shining, I drove around until I found a patch of grass, sheltered from the road by some shrubbery, and plunked down on it for a snooze. Well, it was an almost snooze. I was too keyed into the birds chattering away and moving about in the shrubs and that kept me alert to the surrounding world. When ants began climbing over my hands, I took that as my cue to leave.

***

The first film out of New Zealand I remember seeing was Once Were Warriors over 20 years ago. I hadn't known much about Maori culture prior to seeing the film. Once Were Warriors was a brutal history lesson. A few years ago, I saw the film What We Do In The Shadows by New Zealand director Taika Waititi. The film was funky, funny and totally off-beat. Since then, I have made it a point to see all of Waititi's films, even the mega blockbuster, Thor Ragnarok. 

Here's a snippet from What We Do In The Shadows for your viewing pleasure---




In an effort to prevent wildfires from sparking, our local, electric company has been engaging in 'controlled service outages'. That means that thousands of households in and around the Bay Area will be continually, temporarily without service for the duration. On one such outage evening, the hubs and I went to see the film JoJo Rabbit. I would wager that Waititi may have been influenced, in part, by Mel Brooks, and, probably, Charlie Chaplin. For me, watching a film that makes fun of Nazis is always a good time. Waititi both directed JoJo Rabbit and played the young lead's imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler. If only Adolf were alive to see a half-Maori, a half-Jew play him in a movie!

JoJo Rabbit wasn't all laughs, as one might imagine, and it did a decent job of showing the absurdity of the Third Reich's policies. The cast was solid. And I thought that the young lead, Roman Griffin Davis, had a stand-out performance. Did any of you happen to see the film as well? 

What to do when you're poorly.

Eric and I completed a 1000-piece puzzle over the last week while nursing nasty colds. I hadn't worked on a puzzle in decades and mostly...