27 February 2010

February's almost over.

It's been a mildly cool month here in Hawaii for the last couple of weeks. Far too dry and the plants are showing it. My apartment has a sprinkler system, so I only pay attention to it when the water bill comes in. I'm getting little urges to get some containers and some plants and brighten up the front entrance (shade lovers) and back yard (more direct sun). I'm thinking herbs and some flowering stuff. I need to research orchids. I wanted orchids when Michael and I lived in Korea, but he always thought the house was too dry for them. OK ,if the front "porch" is not too shady, I could try one or two inexpensive ones there, Maybe a little bench to sit there and enjoy the plants and the Chicken Sisters. Listen to tunes and knit or do some handspinning. Watch the bowl of lucky bamboo and the unique orchids.

I sow some orchids this evening as I waded through walmart looking for a nice chaise and cushions and a table for hanging out the back door. Crapped out on the chair, but saw an orchid that I swear was black. I want it, I want to see if I can grow the darn thing! I also want culinary herbs on the back porch...basil, oregano, rosemary, maybe some others. I want to see if I can grow some tomatoes. Everything has to be containerized as I'm sure that the LandLord (LL) would not appreciate me digging up the back yard. Frankly, my back wouldn't appreciate my digging up the lawn either.

I've been working on the house, albeit slowly as there's something going on with my feeties that make standing up for more than 45 minutes painful. I need to get some more stuff unpacked, but the problem is what do I do with it between unpackaging and putting away. I found a brandy new tower fan that I'd bought in the PX in Korea before I PCSed. It's all new, so I will take it up to the bedroom since the old one there is squeaky. It's good to have the air problem taken care of before it gets hot this summer.

I'm finding bits of the kitchen. I think I'll get rid of all the mismatched corelle and get a new set that matches everything. I'd like to get rid of all the mismatched stainless and get a nice service for 4 there, too. Also going to get rid of all the bent up cookie sheets, pans, and other bake-wear that's gone gnarly. I can get new, I can afford it. Two things I can't wait to find are the Kitchen Aid mixer (I plan on pimping it up with Hawaiian type stickers rather than flames. Every Alton Brown wannabe has flames on their kitchen aid). The Mighty Mixer of Aloha will improve the bread side of the house and enable lots of other culinary techniques.

I found my cheap Japanese mandolin that makes slicing vege so much more fun. I also found ball jars at the store. There could be a small batch of variously pickled beets coming our way. I know that canner pot is somewhere! I'm also looking for the food sucker as I'm tired of throwing things away because I can't get around to eating them. I'm just on the verge of getting a new one and when the other one is found, gifting it to a young family (Navy or AF) who can save some food budget by sealing their leftovers.

I have this idea that I can get two sets of nice professional steel five shelf units (like the ones the Koreans ruined), drag out the sewing machine and some attractive aloha fabric for covers and use them in my little dining area to store stuff I dont' have room for in the really tiny cabinets. Making covers for them will keep the stuff in it is kept private and clean (the covers can be easily washed). There's also room under the stairs for a small bookshelf that will take care of the cookbooks. My dining table is really quite small (seats 4 comfortably), so there's room in that area for the shelves.

The house will come slowly. The hardest part is that there's no place to out the "de-boxed" stuff till I get more boxes out. It's a compounding kind of problem. Stuff may go from one room to another till enough is cleared out that things can be arranged. I would like to have one of the bedrooms cleared out enough to accommodate a blow-up mattress and guest, although I don't know when I would be comfortable enough to actually let someone else stay in my place. I want to cook and have friends over, but it seems right now that would be a first floor only proposition (public vice private part of the house).

I've been exploring spinning wheels and found a couple that I would consider buying. the problem is that most of the mainland companies want to charge exorbitant fees to ship. One website I went to today wanted $96 to ship what would amount to 12 lb or less in a box about 20x20x6 (in it's original packaging, no fancy repacking) for the UPS ground fee (from the UPS website) of approximately $56 plus an unexplained upcharge of an additional $40. Now, Mr, Wheelshop owner. Can you please tell me what the additional $40 is for? I don't mind paying honest shipping charges, but don't think I'm going to sit back and accept your gouge simply because I'm lucky enough to live in Hawaii. I am NOT above ordering your merchandise which you gleefully ship for free to the 48 states and having it sent to my best friend, who will forward it to me in Hawaii for the (non-inflated) shipping cost.

I find that I need to choose merchants carefully as SOME (not all) have no problem charging the customer almost the entire cost of the item purchased to ship it to the island. I know this to be true from personal experience! The moral of this rant it to always check and verify YOUR shipping costs before you order.

All this sounds really nice, but getting motivated to actually do this is not easy. I have my days when I don't feel like doing ANYTHING after work but sitting quietly and knitting or watching a movie. It's been 14 months since Michael died, and it feels like a splinter of glass in my heart every day. There's so much I want to tell him and I need his support and encouragement so badly.

But I just keep on keeping on.

14 February 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

The late husband and I had a tradition for V-Day that started when he was hospitalized after falling off a second story roof. He had broken his pelvis in 5 places and shattered his left elbow, so he wasn't going anywhere for a while. He'd been beefing about the lousy hospital food, so on the way to visit him, I stopped at a local grocery and bought a pair of 8" tapers, holders for the candles, and a bouquet of flowers. Then I went by our favorite Middle Eastern carryout and built a dinner for two. Quick like a bunny, I hied myself off to the hospital while dinner was still warm and surprised him with a full out Valentine dinner. The floor nurses loved it and left us alone all evening.

After that, we ALWAYS had Middle Eastern food for Valentines. Even in Seoul, we had Middle Eastern food for Valentine's Day. I may well find myself a Middle Eastern restaurant today. Then again, I may not.

I recently got myself a drop spindle after I was started down the road of fibery compulsion by a friend. I've been spinning at least a little bit every day. I even took the spindle to work the other day because I anticipated some downtime. I've taught myself to put spin on with my feet (which makes for a much longer yarn before you have to wind on). I've been looking at fiber online, trying to decide what I want to spin next. I love the feel of the fibers and I love that with no more than a simple twist, I can make that handful of fluffy stuff into strong, beautiful, useful yarn. Cool.

I am tempted by so much...silk caps and hankies that are already dyed or that I could dye myself (maybe should not consider using dyes in a rented home, yah?). Tussah silk top/roving that shines in the light. Silk/merino blends or BFL. Corriedale. Blends with other fibers...There's SO much to try. I'm also looking at spinning wheels because I would like to be able to make enough plied yarn for larger projects. I'm lucky in that I can afford these things.

I'm taking some time off work in the next few weeks and I will use that time to get my kitchen FINALLY in order. The urge to cook has become overwhelming. So much so that I've been reconsidering the cookbook library. It's kind of hard finding cookbooks that are NOT geared to the beginner or amateur home cook. I feel my skills are beyond that, so I look for specialized books. I may have to move on to the professional "text" books and learn to rely on myself to compose meals from the components I have already learned. Pick a protein and a starch. A nice vege, maybe a sauce to go with. Consider other parts of the meal and really think about the wine or other drink to go with. Don't forget dessert or SOUP! Appetizers.

I wonder if the occasional dinner party would be possible (after the house is organized and guest ready). I could invite friends from work like Sherry and Terry, or George and Cathy. Robert and Chioko, too. There would be times to pull out the grill and take the party to the back yard. Maybe once or twice a month. I just need to cook and there is so much lovely food here in Hawaii. Wonderful produce and the best tasting tomatoes I've EVER eaten. If I can score some tomorrow with some whole milk buffalo mozzarella, I feel a Caprese salad coming on.

I think I'll price some outdoor furniture...you know, a table and chairs, maybe a chaise or glider, too. Don't want the back to look redneck trashy, but would like a comfortable place to eat and handout outside. It would also require some potted plants and other container gardening.

May as well see if I can get the old bread process going again, although, if I can find a fine crusty french baguette or an Italian with "chew' I may stick to biscuits and "pastry". I'll bet I can still make a wicked scratch chokkie cake and creme brulee's are easy peasy.

I'm also going by the Wholepaycheck this weekend to try some fish maybe, a handful of fingerling potatoes. check the other meat sections...expand the cheese rep and maybe MAYBE get a bottle of wine and try again. A nice slab of grilled, slightly smoked, wild salmon with smashed potatoes, maybe something green with (need to look for fish compatible green veg. And a lovely bottle of Western Pacific (Wilamette valley etc.) Pinot Noir with lots of dark cherries and black raspberry. I like my wines Big Forward and fruity. I just need to find a way to keep the wine fresh so I don't have to try to drink the whole bottle myself. After all, If you're going to test the recipe, you've got to taste the whole thing. You wouldn't an otherwise well prepared dinner ruined because the wine is shit.

Well, I'm missing Michael again, but I will always miss Michael. There will always be a spot in my heart where Michael lives, for we gave our hearts to each other and I know he carries my heart still, even though he's gone on ahead to the Summerlands and waits near the bridge. Michael would be delighted at the idea of having people over for a dinner party. He loved entertaining. I may yet chicken out...the solitude is so comforting at times. I would still like some outdoor furniture to enjoy this Hawaii weather. Perhaps while I'm out I can stop by costco, or home depot and check out the Irish Furniture (at least an adjustable chaise and a side table.

05 February 2010


I was supposed to leave today for a business trip to the East Coast. On Monday, I postponed the trip for a week. The East Coast is currently being absolutely hammered by a winter storm of "historical proportions".

I am not anywhere near the East Coast.

04 February 2010

Made it through January

So, I made it through the first year of no Michael. It's been awfully hard. I miss being able to reach out and touch him. I always felt so warm and safe with him. He would come into the kitchen and come up from behind me and just wrap his arms around me, lay his cheek in the top of my head and just hug. I loved it when he did that. He would come up behind me as I sat at the computer and give my shoulders a little rub and nuzzle my neck a little.

We were a very physical couple. Oh, not in that skanky, kissy-wissy, make-out in public kind of way, but we held hands a lot or walked arm in arm. Usually, when we sat together either our shoulders or thighs were touching. I miss the touching so much that I dream about it sometimes. I had a wonderful dream, not long after he died that he came to me as I was sleeping and gently brushed the hair from my forehead and softly kissed me. Then he was gone. It woke me up. Just the other night, I had another dream that he had come up behind me like he used to and just wrapped his arms around me and held me with his chin gently resting on my shoulder. I could feel so much love and security. I wanted that feeling to last forever. That dream woke me up, too.

I miss the touching, the closeness. I miss the warm, safe feeling I got when he held me. At the risk of making this sound self pitying, it hurts to realize That I will never be held again. Never to be touched, he never to have my back scratched again, never to be held again, never to have silly little "nothings" murmured in my ear.

I think the hardest part of adapting to Michael's absence is adapting to the lack of touch.

Otherwise, with the exception of missing Michael, I'm quite likely the happiest I've ever been. I've got a great job with people that are honest, respect me, seem to like me, and are glad I'm there (what a switch, honest management!) I LOVE Hawaii and am considering selling the house to buy one here.

I looked at a picture of the rental house the other day and it made me so sad. Michael and I were going to retire there, but without him, I just can't bear to look at what might have been our future. We had made so many plans to fix that little house up. So many flowers and plants (Michael was a wonderful gardener). Now the house just makes me sad because it deserves to be loved and I just don't really care anymore except that Michael loved the house. Without him, that house could never be my home.

New developments?? I've taken up hand spinning fiber from a drop spindle. Maybe pictures next time.

I'm making progress. I have a job I love. I make good money (Thank Deity). My health is still ok, except for my back. I'm a lucky broad and I'm grateful to Michael, because so much of this was put into motion when we were a couple just visualizing our way to a good life. Now I just have to keep working. Keep concentrating on all that is right and good and helping others when I can. AND not to forget to be grateful for my friends and opportunities.

Thanks y'all...you know who you are!