Saturday, August 31, 2013

Call of the Kale

Last night I found myself reading kale smoothie recipes.  Yep. Mango and banana, avocado and oat, blueberry and almond milk.  The health benefits of kale.  Curly versus Dino, or Italian "Tuscan" kale.  My pal Robin makes a raw kale salad that I am not a fan of -- too bitter and too chewy.  I hear this is the way of kale.  Robin is an excellent cook and I adore 99% percent of her exquisite food.  Just not the raw kale salad.

So, with kale on my mind and a spring in my step, I headed over to the mid-town farmer's market to score me some kale.  Tuscan kale, babes.  And I found it after passing by many stalls.

ze Tuscan Kale
Morning Bounty
 Of course I had to get many other delights -- zinnias, grapes, green cauliflower (higher in vitamins) and two flavors of cashew cheese.  Oh, and not pictured here, for dessert tonight, fresh cannoli!  I haven't had it in years.  It looks positively crazy good.  See how I work this?  I have a nice healthy green shake in the morning and sugar and fat in the evening.  It all works out in the end, me thinks.

Do you go for the super green food kale?  If you have a favorite smoothie recipe, please send it my way.  I haven't tried making mine yet, but I'll report back when I do.

Friday, August 30, 2013

TGIF

TGIF, bitches.  I'm finally getting over this damned cold.  My re-entry to life after vacation was abrupt and harsh.  I want to go back to the wilds of Alaska, where the only thing I have to fear is BEAR.  And, of course, fear itself.

The news is just bad.  Bad for the world, and certainly bad for my soul.  Fires, wars, pestilence, and rampant stupidity. 

Luckily, a dear woman loaned me a stack of DVDs that I have been enjoying immensely.   Last night I watched "Girl Play," which sounds really raunchy (nothing wrong with that) but was a very funny movie that included none other than Dom De Luise and Mink Stole (of John Waters fame).  The movie critic website Rotten Tomatoes gave the 2007 movie some piss-poor reviews, but I found in entertaining as hell.  But I'm a lesbian - what do I know?

I think I will be taking a news holiday for this Labor Day.  Isn't Labor Day holiday kind of a joke these days?  If we really cared about and honored our citizens' labor,  those fast-food workers would be earning $15 an hour!  Christ on a bike, could YOU live on $7.50?  Didn't think so.

I hope you find your comfy niche this weekend.  Mine's around here somewhere.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How is Mid-Life Treating You?

In answer to a call from National Public Radio, I emailed the following to be considered for a future news story:
Well...I can hardly believe I am 56.  Heading into the latter part of mid-life.  I don't want to be 18 ever again, and I am thankful for the exhaustion that mid-life brings because it helps me separate the wheat from the chaff.  I've got no time (or energy) for suffering fools, kidding myself or working in a job that makes me want to kill myself.  I hear that old-age is not for sissies, and I do believe that it true.  I am cultivating habits now that will aid in my transition from mid-to elder years:  Humor, above all else, non-attachment, gratitude and friendliness.  I do NOT want to be a grumpy complaining senior.
Mid-life has brought me my THIRD divorce (and last?), mental and physical health issues, an inability to drink alcohol, a renewed sense of purpose and last but not least a grandson. 
and neither does Bubbe

Dating in mid-life (I'm a lesbian) is also quite the trick -- everyone has been badly scorched by past relationships and are truly frightened to let down their guard.  Gone are the days of "love the one your with."  But guess what? Middle age has also brought the peace and freedom to be on my own.  After a lifetime of committed relationships, I'm doing just fine on my own.  Wa-hoo!
 They are defining middle-age as 45 to 65.  If you want to participate, email bbradley@npr.org and you may be contacted for an interview.  And send me your story, too.  Because inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Gratitude

From Tiny Buddha:

5. You from five years ago had nothing on present-you. 

Every time I look back just a few years I have this smile on my face. I look at the socially awkward past-Vincent, the guy just trying to figure life out. Then I say, wow, I was a doofus!
Guess what? A few years ago when I did the same retrospection I thought the same thing to myself. Every time you look back you sort of cringe and wonder how you were so _______.
Imagine five years from now. You’re going to change so much (hopefully for the better) and you’ll realize you’ve grown a lot.


Okay, so now I'm stuck with this chesty cold/flu thing and I'm not happy one bit.  But then I read this article from Vincent Nyguen and my faith is restored.  Me, five years ago, was a struggling mess.  A job I had come to hate, a wife that was falling down the hole of addiction and alcoholism, feeling overwhelmed and drinking too much alcohol  to smooth out the rough edges.  There were a lot of rough edges.
Today, I am grateful to say, I am sober, I have jettisoned that job, my life is simpler and more serene, and I am happily single.  I guess I hit my bottom somewhere in there, though I couldn't describe the moment.  It was more like an accumulation of moments.  Crappy moments.  I am grateful to my ex-wife who supported me in my decision to retire early.  That was a life-saver.  And I'm grateful now to have a small but lovely place to live, good food to nourish my body, all the basics taken care of.

I am grateful for my therapist, who is also a Buddhist Lama, and who gently sets me straight when needs be.  I am grateful for the friends I  have surrounding me, playing with me, walking with me through this life.

There is much to be grateful for, and I am.  And to think this morning started out with me feeling a tad sorry for myself, what with my lingering cold and all.  Pish Posh.

Helen Keller and Sir Thomas
Happy National Dog Day!  A day to recognize and cherish our darling companions who make us smile and melt our hearts on a daily basis.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Lungs

withered bags
good for nothing
need the steam, the vapor,
the Robitussum DM.
weigh me down
get this elephant off my chest
and let each breath
float like rose petals
upon a breeze
or marigolds upon the Ganges.

Friday, August 23, 2013

TGIF

This will make your Friday, I promise! Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Mother's Peignoir

I found a lovely poem here last Tuesday.  One of the best things about my recent trip was being able to visit my friend T., whose poetry I adore.  I was reading her blog and decided to investigate some of her links to blogs and found this one.

The poem is evocative, beautifully written, I think.  I also appreciate that the blogger wrote some commentary and included links to Martha's work.  As I read the poem I had a memory that I haven't thought of in decades...
1951 Vanity Fair Ad

my mother's white gossamer peignoir
was my secret pride and joy --
alone in the ranch style house
on a culd-e-sac next to plum orchards
the fabric slipped over my 10 year-old arms
and skinned knees to reveal a fairy princess.
swaying in front of her full length mirror
i danced on air and twirled into the arms of ...?
i was the most beautiful girl in the world
lost in a dream yet mindful -- for the sound of a car,
a key in the latch, the rustle of paper grocery bags,
mom calling out to her girls, "I'm home! Come help!"

I love how poems get to the heart of the matter.  Martha's poem is marvelous and though I am a amateur, I love the lines I came up with in response, and the sparking of a long ago memory.  I'll play with my doodle and see where it goes.

I was talking to a friend recently who said she didn't read poetry.  I don't think a lot of people do.  We are all victims of grade school teachers who taught poetry badly.  But I know that I was hooked into poetry at a very young age.  My astute grandmother gave me a large book of poems for a Christmas present when I was perhaps 12.  She was a school teacher.  I loved that book.  Even the poems that weren't terribly accessible to my youthful mind were fascinating to me. I had inklings of what they might mean, and that was enough.  It still is.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Travels in Alaska

How do you sum up time spent in Alaska?  How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do I make you stay and listen to all I say? How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

Oh. Sorry. We're talking Alaska, not Austria and the flibbertijibbet that is Maria.

The natural wonders of Alaska and Canada were breathtaking.  Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan trips ashore gave a more close up view of the area, rather than being out on a cruise ship in the water.  I still can't believe I was there.  I know I want to go back.
Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, 2013
Traveling on a cruise ship has it's limitations.  I'm not one for crowds, so there's that.  But the shore excursions were fabulous!  The weather was warm and we required jackets only one morning.  The photo at right is the Mendenhall Glacier, located outside of Juneau.  I can go back there, and so can you, by clicking this link.  We saw the salmon swimming upstream, and missed by mere minutes the sight of bears feasting on the aforementioned salmon.  This particular glacier is quickly retreating, as the rangers will attest.  Other glaciers in Alaska are advancing.  Go figure.

The Tongas National forest is the largest of our national forests.  Everything is bigger in Alaska, no matter what those Texans say.  Alaska is like the Sierra on steroids.   Alaska is where bear and other animals are everywhere, and in abundance. The natural world is woven into both the native and 'settlers' culture.  I have learned that old timers there are called Sourdoughs and newbies have the distinction of being called cheechako.  Stories about cheechakos are told with great relish, these poor fools who come to an unforgiving land and face myriad misfortunes and follies.

You need to be a very sturdy sort to make a good go of it in this wilderness.  Luckily, I had the piano bar on ship.  There was a very entertaining piano man singing Broadway musicals, torch songs and classics.  The only problem was he looked an awful lot like Rush Limbaugh.  But never mind.  I adored his performances, sipping on my gingerale in the soft glow of the hushed lamplight.

More Alaska stories to come, but for now, I am drinking hot lemon-flavored cold/flu medicine because I woke up Friday morning with a throat that felt as if it been nicked with thousands of tiny razors.  Thank gawd that it happened near the end of the trip.  Time in the spa's steam room helped.  And get this: the spa was located in the front of the ship, so you could stand naked with steam flowing off your body and watch the fiords, birds, mountains and whales go by!  It was my favorite spot on the entire joint.

Not the wheel room of the cruise ship, for sure.



Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sac Town

When I moved to Sacramento in the spring of 2011, I wondered how I would like urban living.  I'm smack in the middle of midtown.  It took some getting used to: the cars, the noise, the sirens, the trains.  The pluses were the parks, the friendly people, the great mix of races and ethnicities, the shops and the restaurants.  This town is chalk full of very good places to eat.

Today I joined my folks at Negril Island Grill and enjoyed the best pulled pork sandwich ever.  The pork was super tender, just spicey enough, and the bread has crispy crust and a very fresh inside.  The Ginger Beer was good, too.  And the sweet potato fries were the best I've ever had in a restaurant. 

The owner/chef waits on the tables, and he's a happy gentleman with a warm attitude.

Walking to the grocery store later in the day, I passed all kinds of folks walking to do their shopping as well.  The trains rolled by (both cargo and passenger) and there is a cool breeze that made being out a delight.  No doubt we will have more typical Sac summer days, you know, where the heat melts the skin off your body.  But for now, I'm reveling in the cool.

After living in white bread Santa Cruz for so long, it's a joy to live in a place where there are comedy clubs, live music, a multitude of Farmer's Markets (even an Asian one) and - oh - I forgot to mention the well stocked second hand stores in our capitol city.  Clothes and furniture.  I am a firm believer in re-using items and it doesn't hurt that they cost very little.

I've also enjoyed quite a few minor league baseball games at our Raley Field.  Raley has some of the best views of the city of any park I've been to (well, save ATT in San Francisco).  So, yeah, I can enthusiastically say I'm loving living here.  Isn't it nice when things work out to your satisfaction?

I look forward to my vacation starting today, and I'll equally look forward to returning to my new home town.  In a week.  No blogging in the interim.  Just pure fun.  See you on the flip side!

Friday, August 9, 2013

TGIF

Yay!  It's Friday!  Tomorrow I leave for Seattle, and then Sunday board the ship for an adventure in Alaska!

This is my first cruise, and I'm going with three friends.  I'm not really enamored of cruise ships, but I've heard this Alaska trip is fantastic.

On Saturday night we are scheduled to meet an old dear friend of mine and dine at a little French bistro near our hotel.  The menu is, ah, interesting and includes beef tongue (simmered and pressed), pork blood sausage, and veal with veal sweetbreads terrine.  I'm glad there is salmon on the menu!

I plan on eating my fair share of fish and shellfish on the ship.  And discovering whatever mocktails they have on hand.  If they don't have good ones, there's always ginger ale.  Or club soda with lime.  This will be my first celebration in a long while without drinking alcohol.  I have my non-drinking friend to support me.  Whew.  And, I think with all the money I'll save not buying wine and cocktails, I may treat myself to a massage.

I'm looking forward to the whole danged trip - the land excursions, the sailing, having fun with my friends and eating delicious food.  And no, this is not a Carnival Cruise!

So, Happy Friday to you, and soon I'll have a big mess o' photos to share with you!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Of Cruises and Grandsons

I'm a little scattered.  Total First World Problem.  I'm going on a cruise to Alaska at the end of the week and I'm tying up loose ends, getting ready to leave.   And I just got back from a trip to visit my daughter and celebrate my grandson's second birthday.  Suffice it to say, time is rushing by.

 Eden now has a cousin, Daniel, who is but a week old.  My daughter's friends are starting their families.  It's a odd feeling to see these 'kids' that I've known since their high school years having babies of their own.

At the party there was breast feeding and bottle feeding, baby blankets and strollers, scrunched up new born faces and chubby legged toddlers running about.

The boy couldn't have cared less about the cupcakes, balloons and macaroni salad.  He just wanted to dominate the play structure.  And so he did.

He's fearless.  Lives each day to the fullest.

Bubbe is taking notes.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Get. My. Art.

My 2014 calendars are in.  The photos are my favorites, taken with my iPhone camera.  I had them printed early because I got a great deal on a time-limited offer.

If you'd like to order, just let me know.  They aint cheap -- $25 plus shipping, but they are a great way to have some fabulous art hanging in your home for a fraction of the cost of a sofa-sized photograph!  (As if.)

I can also make greeting cards out of any of the images, if you still send cards via snail mail.  I do.  I love getting mail, handwritten letters and note cards.  It's so 20th century.  So quaint, really.

If you're looking for original art, and believe in supporting artists, you've come to the right spot.  I eagerly anticipate your patronage.  I will post a video of me doing the Happy Dance if I get some orders.  Really.  You don't want to miss this.




Surly Bonds

My dad slipped the surly bonds of earth on January 13.  He'd had a massive stroke on the ninth and doctors were clear he was not going t...