mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: Puget Sound

home again . . .

chinese lantern from the garden . . .

chinese lantern from the garden . . .

On Monday, five or so days ago, I arrived home around 8:30 a.m., having taken the red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Boston. I was tired. The connecting flight gate at LAX was moved a terminal away and I only got there by asking for someone to push me there in a wheelchair. For the next few nights, I didn’t sleep very well. I had vivid dreams. I woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. Then, I slept until 9:30 after I finally fell back asleep.

Besides having irregular sleep patterns, I set forth to buy food, make broth and clean up the kitchen in anticipation of a new countertop being installed in the next month or so. Instead of having two knife blocks taking up so much room on the counter, I ordered a twenty-four inch magnetic knife strip to hold all the knives that we use. Once G. mounted it on the bottom strip of the octagonal window, we marveled at how efficient and useful it was, noting how we could have done this so long ago! I also ordered a twelve-dollar knife blade sharpener that arrived yesterday. As the reviewers said, it held firmly to the countertop, allowing for one’s non-sharpening hand to rest far away from it, and then to allow knives to be drawn towards me through a “dimond sharpening opening.” It worked so well that my knives are now razor sharp and slice through newspaper, just like on TV! DSCN6942

But I’m not really writing about knife-sharpening in this post, I’m writing about how much I appreciate being home. I’m not a world traveler much anymore, although I’ve done my share while working in the biotech industry, flying to Frankfurt and holding powwows in the airport restaurant with our business partners, then flying home two days later without having left the airport. Once, the American Airlines staff were so surprised to see me returning from Frankfurt on their own layover flight that they moved me to first class, gave me roses and the largest tin of caviar that I have ever seen! It was a memorable trip, also because it took place right before Christmas and there were stalls of German Christmas ornaments and gifts for sale set up in the airport. I had a great time, bought a couple of hand-blown glass ornaments and drank champagne and ate caviar all the way back home. Those were the days when business class was common, unlike today when people are fighting with each other in economy class about moving their seats back!

Now, I’m discovering once again how much I love being home with my husband, G. in our quirky home on the top floor of a Queen Anne Victorian house with his piano shop on the ground floor. Before my trip, we did a big refrigerator clean-out together and it really helped to come home to a half empty, clean fridge. I bought some food, shopping at a Mediterranean grocery store for their heavenly homemade baba ganoush (eggplant dip,) and brought home a sack of small Japanese light-fleshed sweet potatoes from the Vietnamese market–half the cost from the gourmet farm stand a half an hour away–and sharing them with neighbors who love them as much as we do.

Today, I went by the other Vietnamese grocery in town which offers whole roast duckling transported from Chinatown in Boston on Saturday mornings but only if you come at the right time–after they have arrived and before they are sold out–an unpredictable window of time on both ends. I also found a pack of roasted pork buns with a red dot on them and two bunches of scallions for the Peking Duck we’ll have with hoisin sauce and flour wrappers I’ll make tonight. I also picked up raw chicken and pork bones to make a “Tampopo” type broth with ginger root and green onions (plus a spoonful of apple cider vinegar.) When the broth is ready, I’ll strain it and use part of it to make a soup with tofu, mushrooms and fresh watercress added at the last minute so it’s still crunchy when served.

"tampopo" broth with chicken and pork bones . . .

“tampopo” broth with chicken and pork bones . . .

I’m glad to be home but don’t get me wrong, it was a great trip in many ways. Being with my daughter, M. who lives in Minneapolis was a treat. She went out of her way to take care of so many things, not the least of which was to drive our rental car towards Pike Place in Seattle (although we didn’t realize it at the time) during rush hour on a Friday afternoon.

The cottage views were delightful and peaceably enjoyed. DSCN6854We finally found Dungeness crab at the local grocery store and lightly steamed it, eating large chunks of crabmeat dipped in warm, melted Kerrygold butter (from Irish grass-fed cows.) Most of all I got to witness and to deeply appreciate my daughter’s silent ways that made the trip so meaningful. Many thanks, M.!

Making a home means a lot to me. Keeping it up for our needs and enjoyment is one of my great pleasures. I just happen to like doing it, even the tedious cleaning up of things. It looks and feels so much better afterwards. There are still closets to clean out and plenty of cupboards to reorganize before the kitchen gets its facelift in a couple of weeks. I guess I’ll never run out of things to do at this rate, will I?

I’m glad to be home with G.

 

(new) lessons learned . . .

blue heron whirligig . . .

blue heron whirligig . . .

I’m writing this post in Seattle, Washington at a cottage with a view of Puget Sound right off our deck. DSCN6801I’m here with my daughter and her family. On the first two days, we ran around a lot, following an itinerary cobbled together from research from Seattle guidebooks and the Internet. Guess what? Things are not always what they seem. A Korean restaurant that looks impressive on its website turns out to be a tiny bar kind of a place wedged in at the mouth of Pike Place, the most crowded place on earth in which to try to find a restaurant with no markings visible from the street nor a place to park anywhere nearby.

Yesterday evening, we took stock, separately and together and then separately and then together again. This morning, I expressed what lessons I had learned about myself: that is, that I am idealistic and usually have a vision of what things or places are like in my mind’s eye that have no basis in reality. I also had an “idea” of going on the ferry and driving miles north to Port Townsend today because a translator, Red Pine, lived there. We weren’t going to see him and I didn’t even know him, so I realized that making that trek today was just an “idea.” So, instead, we went out for breakfast pastries–beautiful croissants and brought them back to the cottage for a leisurely breakfast.

I also changed tack about looking for Dungeness crab at pricey restaurants to eat at tonight because none of them offered a simple, steamed, Dungeness crab. And that’s all I wanted. The only thing I could find at a restaurant twenty minutes from home was a lunch plate of crab with a whole bunch of add-ons and extras, priced at $69.00! I began thinking last night about how our eating/food experiences could be improved after overpaying at eateries that didn’t meet our expectations for one reason or another. Finally, I realized that what suits us best is to buy fine ingredients, cook our own meals and eat at home. So, I started with a grocery store called Albertson’s. Lo and behold in the seafood section, there were whole, Dungeness crabs that weighed about 2 pounds each. Prior to that, I had called around and found a gourmet place that answered cheerfully that “yes, we have Dungeness crab” for $28 a half pound. The ones we bought at Albertson’s were $11. a POUND. I picked up some Poupon mustard, sour cream and fresh horseradish to mix together for a dip for the crab, along with melted butter, of course.

We found a grocery/eatery store that had carryout kale salad and an apple salad with dill which we bought to have along with the crab. So, that took care of dinner. Along the way, we passed a little shop called “Balloons and cupcakes” which reminded us that Josie’s 4th birthday is next Wednesday. We came back to the cottage with a helium birthday balloon, two cupcakes decorated with chocolate frosting and jimmies, and birthday candles for our after dinner birthday celebration. At the Planetarium and at the wonderful Elliot Bay Bookstore yesterday, we had bought some books for Josie, which I’ll wrap up for her to open tonight.

josie looking through her new binoculars. . .

josie looking through her new binoculars. . .

At our cottage, we’d seen a tiny hummingbird appear at dusk, fluttering and flitting about. From the beginning of our stay, I was charmed by a blue heron whirligig, an inventive concoction of very lightweight plastic, hand painted with bird’s eyes and feathers. I just loved that thing and thought how wonderful it would look mounted on the second floor balcony of the barn, visible from our kitchen window on the third floor, and also viewable by anyone coming into the drive of our home. So, we managed to find out from the owner where it could be had and asked the Wild Birds store to hold the last one for us–which we picked up today (see top photo.)

So, lessons learned (especially because I don’t travel a lot) have been to reflect about what I really want to do, and why–and to manage expectations differently (rather than eating out, to search for prime foods nearby and eat in.) Tomorrow is our last day at this lovely place. And we have had a lovely time of it. By not pushing ourselves too hard. And by enjoying what’s nearby with each other.

Cheers!

sun setting . . .

sun setting . . .