A (very) full day

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I am so very glad I retired so I wouldn’t have to do anything! Since I had the day off (yes, I have come out of retirement, in case you missed that) I was able to take the girls to school, go to Morning Prayer with Suzy and Teri (very interesting to be the only un-ordained one in the room), attend a Project Homeless Connect meeting, and retrieve Olivia from preschool by noon. Wow!

Tonight was the October Helping One Woman dinner, this month honoring Heather Lemon, whose daughter Sydney died of Aplastic Anemia earlier this year. Once again our community made me very proud by sharing so generously with this precious family.

And as icing on the cake I had the joy of volunteering with my best partner in crime who has recently become a part of the HOW team, Vickie Baldini Mendez. After many years as co-workers, we went in separate directions career-wise. Being in the same room with her again makes me happy.

Tammy, Vickie, and Fawn working the front table at the October HOW dinner.

Tammy, Vickie, and Fawn working the front table at the October HOW dinner.

Steaming the halibut in the dishwasher

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A few days ago I dropped by my husband-who-lives-across-town’s place for a few minutes and he had an interesting proposition. Due to some still-being-diagnosed health issues, he has been warned off eating red meat and encouraged to substitute chicken and fish. He is officially sick of chicken, and doesn’t cook fish, so his brilliant idea was for me to come over and cook the halibut steaks he dutifully purchased, and in exchange I could help eat said halibut. I don’t cook fish, either, but somehow I heard myself agreeing to return Monday evening and cook the fish. I don’t know how I get myself into these things!

His idea was that perhaps we could barbecue said fish. He has no barbecue trays or pans, but I said I would ask Georgia for advice. I expected her to tell me to wrap the fish with some herbs and spices in aluminum foil and put it over the coals. But her advice was totally unexpected.

“Just wrap it in foil and cook it in the dishwasher, Mom,” she said. “It’s really easy.”
“Have you cooked it this way, Georgia?” I asked.
“No,” she answered. “But it is all over Pinterest!” (I think that is her generation’s equivalent of “I read it in Rolling Stone, so it must be true!)

This afternoon I sat down to my computer and Googled “cooking fish in the dishwasher” and was amazed at the variety of references. Several were variations on the idea that people had been steaming or poaching fish (mostly salmon) in their dishwashers since the 1970s, but it was gaining in popularity. The directions seemed plausible, so I decided to give it a try.

I called Grant to tell him what I had in mind and make sure he had thawed the halibut. He sounded doubtful, but then my cooking has always been strange, so he agreed. Driving across town I called my sister in Ohio.

Our conversation went something like this:
(Melody) “What are you up to this afternoon?”
(Me) “I’m going over to Grant’s to steam halibut in his dishwasher.”
(Melody) “I didn’t understand what you said.”
(Me) “I’m going over to Grant’s to steam halibut in his dishwasher.”
(Melody) “You said something about the hell of it, but I didn’t understand the rest.”
(Me) “I’m going over to Grant’s to steam halibut in his dishwasher.”
(Melody) “I understand what you just said, but I don’t understand what you are doing!”

The more I explained, the more she laughed. She said she didn’t allow fish to be cooked in her house, because it smelled too awful. Then she accused me of plotting on purpose to smell up his house with a fishy dishwasher. That hadn’t even occurred to me…she is far more diabolical than I. (Although it did give me a small grin.)

So I got to Grant’s, seasoned the halibut with lemon juice and rosemary, and double wrapped it in aluminum foil. Then into the dishwasher it went, on the top rack.

The seasoned halibut is double-wrapped in aluminum foil and placed on the top rack of the dishwasher.

The seasoned halibut is double-wrapped in aluminum foil and placed on the top rack of the dishwasher.

Then I set the regular wash cycle (no soap, of course), with the heated drying cycle (to make sure and get things hot enough), and turned it on. While it was washing cooking, I prepared the rice pilaf and heated up the lima beans. That was a challenge in this bachelor kitchen…had to use the big skillet as a lid for the medium skilled, as his only lid is smaller than both. I also discovered that in the four years since we divided our kitchens he has lost all eight dinner forks, and only has salad and seafood forks to choose from.

At the end of the drying cycle, I unwrapped the fish and found that it was nicely done, but not nearly hot enough.

Done, but tepid, halibut.

Done, but tepid, halibut.

So I ended up finishing off the halibut in the microwave, just to make it piping hot. (Tepid fish is gross.) We garnished it with more lemon juice and some lovely tartar sauce, and dug in.

The end result was surprisingly delicious, even though all three components of the meal were nearly the same color (not my fault…he was the meal-planner).

Dinner is served...salad fork and all!

Dinner is served…salad fork and all!

I’m not sure if I would do this again, but it was a fun experiment. And yes, Grant’s apartment smelled a bit fishy when I was done, but no more than if he had heated up fish sticks in his oven.

Never ending contented guest

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Many of you know that my latest life adventure has been a return to part-time employment as a host at the Olive Garden Restaurant in Visalia, CA. Every day I meet guests that make me smile, brighten my day, and make me glad to welcome them into our restaurant.

Over the past couple of weeks I have become acquainted with Devo, a charming lady with a “Never Ending Pasta Pass” that entitles her to our Never Ending Pasta Bowl promotion from September 22 until November 9. Every day. For six weeks. That’s a lot of pasta! And thus far she hasn’t missed a day.

Not only has she been coming in each day, but she has asked to have her picture taken with servers, hosts, and crew, and posted them on her Instagram. So our managers printed some of the pictures and made a collage, which we were pleased to give to her yesterday. We have had so much fun with her that I asked permission to share her story with all of you.

Devo the "Pasta Pass Lady" and her Collage

Devo the “Pasta Pass Lady” and her Collage

Thank you, Devo, for your enthusiasm and loyalty!

Wolverine

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Tonight I want to share the gentle guardian who has pride of place above my bedroom doorway lintel. This is the second piece done by my son Joseph in Miss K’s art class in high school…Joseph left him behind when he moved away from home, and I instantly claimed him as my own.

Wolverine, as interpreted by Joseph James Kawasaki.

Wolverine, as interpreted by Joseph James Kawasaki.

How could I feel anything but safe in a bedroom guarded by such gentle monsters? Sweet dreams.

The pumpkin patch

This morning was our visit to the pumpkin patch with Olivia’s preschool. In turn by class, we went in circles through the corn maze (Olivia was helping her teacher decide which turns to take), rode the hay wagon around the farm, played in the corn, and chose the most wonderful pumpkin. The things that fascinated me the most this year, however, were the sunflowers. This one was my favorite.

Sunflower in the pumpkin patch

Sunflower in the pumpkin patch

Juxtaposition

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That Woman came to visit today, and did a pretty good job of rearranging and sorting through huge piles of “stuff” in my bedroom.  In the process, she discovered an unlikely set of papers clipped together in a pile of files.  The top document was the Final Judgment of Dissolution of my first marriage, dated April 10, 1978.   Next came the Final Judgment of Dissolution of my husband-who-lives-across-town’s first marriage, dated December 29, 1978.  I’m not quite sure why I have it, and he doesn’t, but I usually was the file queen.

The third pair of documents were the admissions and consent forms for my entry into Fresno Community Hospital at 2:00 a.m. on April 15, 1973, to have Joseph.  The doctors had assured us that babies very rarely send their parents to the hospital in the middle of the night, but ours certainly did.  He took his own sweet time arriving, too, not showing up until noon. But he was definitely worth the wait!

Ken with baby Joseph, our first day home.  April 16, 1973.

Ken with baby Joseph, our first day home. April 16, 1973.

The only rhyme or reason I can find for the juxtaposition of the documents is that they all impacted our lives in one way or another, and are deserving of being kept. They are now safely in the drawer with our wills and insurance policies

Amniocentesis

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I was reading on the Moore Genealogy blog today a charming story about a beloved obstetrician, and it took my mind back to the amniocentesis procedure I had during my pregnancy with Georgia.

Even though it was nearly thirty years ago, I remember it as though it were yesterday. I was an “elderly mother” according to my obstetrician, and Grant was terrified that the LSD experiments of the 1970s would cause strange mutations in our baby’s genetic code, so an amnio was recommended (this was a relatively new procedure in 1980). Our government was still using possible birth defects as arguments against hallucinogenic drugs, even though there was absolutely no evidence to that effect. Grant made it very clear that if something was wrong with this baby, an abortion would be the only answer, and explained that he didn’t think he was up to raising a handicapped child.

I assured him that the test results would merely guide us in what to expect from our child, and that I had absolutely no intention of an abortion, no matter what. Besides, I had this incredible feeling of peace inside and was sure that this little girl (I was also very sure of her gender) was amazingly perfect.

I’ll spare you the indignity of the details of drinking 32 ounces of water while driving an hour to the doctor’s office for the test…but as the technician was doing the initial ultrasound, Grant asked her what the flashing light was on the screen. “Your baby’s heartbeat,” was her answer. She came to life for him that day, and never again did he utter the word “abortion”. He was still nervous until we heard from the geneticist, but I remained calm, and was only thrilled when she told me “my daughter” was going to be just perfect.

Georgia and her mommy, the first day home.  Dec. 1, 1984.

Georgia and her mommy, the first day home. Dec. 1, 1984.

She will be thirty next month.

The day after…

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I had a wonderful birthday! The whole day was perfect, and Georgia and I used a bit of Aunt Betty’s gift to treat ourselves to preferred parking at the Fairgrounds, which saved us a lot of walking in the dark. Once inside the gate our first stop was at the corn dog stand for me (absolutely delicious) and pizza for Georgia. We needed to keep our strength up!

Tony Bennett truly delivered more than we expected. At 88 years of age, his voice doesn’t have the holding power it once did, but he can still hit the notes and connect with his audience. And his band was fantastic…I wanted to go home with the piano player, just to be serenaded at will! He sang all my old favorites, and a few I didn’t recognize at all. After three encores he left the stage for good, but I would have stayed longer if he did. This picture was taken with my iPhone from quite a ways back, but it gives you an idea of where we were in relation to the stage. I certainly appreciated the big screen, as well.

Tony Bennett at the Paul Paul Theater, the Big Fresno Fair!

Tony Bennett at the Paul Paul Theater, the Big Fresno Fair!

Nearly as exciting for us both as last night’s concert was today’s parent visitation day at Lily’s Ballet class. Georgia, Olivia, and I went, and eagerly watched the girls do their warm-ups and then dance for us. She is definitely a beginner, but I love the way she focuses in on what her teacher wants her to do, and then tries her best to do it. And I get such a kick out of how happy dancing makes her.

Lily towards the end of their dance.  The picture is lopsided because of how I needed to crop out her partner!

Lily towards the end of their dance. The picture is lopsided because of how I needed to crop out her partner!

And tomorrow the fun continues, as it is our Delightful Dolls meeting in Fresno, and I will be hanging out with Aunt Betty and Uncle Phil again.

I love my life!

I left my heart…

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Tonight instead of blogging I will be listening to (and watching) Tony Bennett in concert at the Big Fresno Fair for my 65th birthday. Thank you, KMJ Radio, for choosing me to win tickets! My date will be my best, most wonderful daughter, Georgia, who first noticed Tony Bennett when he did his duet with Lady Gaga.

She has fixed my hair, made me change my top, done my makeup (with only a few wondering remarks on how many wrinkles I have), and given me a lecture on wearing my pants too high up on my waist. So I think we are all ready to head to Fresno. No, wait — I still need lipstick!

Tomorrow I’ll share just how wonderful it was to hear him sing “I left my heart in San Francisco” in person.

Georgia and the birthday mom, in our bat corner before the Tony Bennett concert.

Georgia and the birthday mom, in our bat corner before the Tony Bennett concert.

Gratitude

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Once again I am grateful for the generosity of friends. (I started to say “church friends”, but realized they are friends in all areas of my life these days.) Today the first little guy born into our congregation (to the first couple married by our priest) celebrated his first birthday. This grand occasion occurred during coffee hour after the service, and was our chance to acknowledge that the adorable tiny baby has become a small person who babbles and plays and makes us all smile. My granddaughters have been looking forward to it for weeks.

Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work this morning, as was my daughter and my husband-who-lives-across-town. But here is where the gratitude steps in. As I was contemplating disappointing the girls because I couldn’t take them to church and they would miss the party, dear friends volunteered to play “substitute grandparents” for the day. So I was able to take them to church and leave early to get to work, content knowing that they would be able to celebrate with our young friend and his family, and then be safely returned home.

Thank you, Sharon and Walter…your friendship is a blessing to us all.

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