Car Nightmares

I was driving home last night around 7 pm. Of course it was already pitch dark. I was in the left lane of a one way street about two blocks from my apartment. I was at a stoplight. The light turned green and I moved forward. The next thing I knew the car on my right was turning left in front of me. It was one of those things where your brain can’t process it fast enough. I tried to turn left with it and I tried to stop but it drug me along. It was like they didn’t realize they were dragging me along because they kept going. It seemed like an age until they stopped. We weren’t going fast. Nobody was injured but my front right end is dented and scratched. And now I have the huge headache of dealing with it all, not to mention the money I will probably have to dole out. Ugh. 

The only other time I was in anything like an accident was the time I backed out of a parking space into a car I had not seen. Of course it turned out to be a little Porsche. They had a lot of damage but I had none. 

That was the highlight of my week…. not… Oh, yeah, plus I found out my car is “seeping” oil. Once they get to certain age, they turn on you.

In other news, I’m almost done reading the first book of the Raj Quartet about the fall of British rule in India. Historically speaking it is an interesting book. But very long. It rehashes the same story from many different perspectives in order to give the reader a full picture of the times. I’m not sure I want to dive into book two. Maybe later.

I’m watching Game of Thrones. Not sure what to say about that. I am addicted to it and can’t turn away but I don’t really like any of the characters. Who knew there could be so many sadists. As soon as I start rooting for somebody they get killed. There is one interesting thing about it, tho. The strongest characters all seem to be women. Not really all that surprising. But the really funny thing is the author of the book, of this book, all about killing and torture, was a conscientious objector during the Viet Nam war. He apparently said the Grateful Dead’s music may have influenced his work and that Trump is like a grown up King Joffrey (who was universally hated). Anyway, fantasy isn’t real, right?

I have been going to this Greek restaurant at Lake and Lyndale in Minneapolis ever since the 1980’s. Back then it was small and crowded. By the 2000 teens it had expanded, added a patio, and the food was bad. After about three years of avoiding it, we went back there last night (before the accident). The food was GOOD. I had a very delicate and tasty spanakopita for an appetizer and then some nice chicken kebob with rice and warm pita. Couldn’t have been better.

I’m going to paint my kitchen cupboards this week. Wish me luck.

Motivation

Zero degrees F this morning. But nice and sunny. Winter. 

I’m still trying to get Medicare squared away. Two days left in January. Fingers crossed. Everybody you speak to tells you something different. Seems like that happens a lot these days.

I watched the The Banshees of Inisherin the other night. It is nominated for Best Picture this year. That doesn’t always mean it is all that great. But I liked it. It was a little strange and a little sad. Just sad. Not depressing. I visited the island a few years ago. The movie portrays life on the island as I had imagined it. Just a few people with not much to do. Isolated. My impression: “On the island we wandered around the ruins, the farmland, the town, the coast. It was beautiful in a kind of eerie way. I saw more farm animals than people.”

Martin O’Direain was an Irish poet from the Aran Islands. He moved to Galway when he was 18, and eventually ended up in Dublin.

The Late Spring
by Máirtín Ó Direáin

A man cleaning the clay
From the tread of a spade
In the subtle quiet
of the sultry days
 Melodious the sound
 In the late Spring
 
A man bearing
A creel-basket on account of,
The red seaweed
Shining
In the sun’s brightness
On the stony beach
  Lustrous vista
  In the late Spring
 
Women in the lake
In the lowest tide
their coats drawn up
reflections down below them
  peaceful restful vision
  In the late Spring
 
weak, hollow beating
of the oars
currach full of fish
coming to the quay
over the golden sea
       at the end of the day
       in the late Spring,

The book I’m reading this week is The Tin Man by Sarah Winman. It is about love, friendship and things that might have been. It jumps from past to present to past and is sparse on punctuation. It tells the story from two different perspectives. It is engaging.

This is the week of getting things done. Car oil change, taxes, dusting. Going to the gym. Re-booting myself. Going shopping. Buying art supplies. Getting paint to brighten up my kitchen cabinets. Sorting out my closet and bookcases. Projects projects project. Motivation!

But first I must finish my book…..

Friday in the Snow

I retired, had a great retirement party, and immediately came down with a cold. Fortunately not Covid. I hadn’t been sick in a couple of years. At the beginning of Covid I bought tons of cold remedies so I would be prepared but I never got sick. When I did get sick, they had all expired. 

Now ten days later, I feel human again. Battling the system. I have yet another Social Security meeting next week. Medicare eludes me. Now the country has run out of money, by the time I get my Medicare sorted it will probably be defunded.

On the brighter side… we got another six inches of snow and I haven’t seen the sun in a while. Next winter I’m going to have to go to South America for the duration. My brother took off for New Zealand the other day. Lucky him.

Retirement. I have so many things on my to do list, I am actually feeling overwhelmed. Where to start? What to do first? Maybe it is an excuse to do nothing. I’ve been sick. I need to just take some time off and do nothing, right? Domestic chores continue to mount up. When you retire, you still have to do laundry and dishes and clean the bathroom. Really? Doesn’t seem right.

I was gifted this book called The Catch Me If You Can by Jessica Nabongo. She is the first recorded Black Woman to visit all 195 countries in the world. She did most of them in about two years. In the book she takes about 100 countries and writes a page or two about them. It gives you a snapshot, a quick anecdote, a favorite moment. She is an entrepreneur. She invented herself. Blog, travel, travel agency, promotion, London School of Economics, jobs in Japan and Benin, Ted Talk, writer. She also sells home goods, jewelry, travel accessories through a website called The Catch (although they seem to be not taking orders at the moment). One of those people who does it all and makes it look easy and seamless. The book is beautiful with lots of great photos. I don’t think I’m going to Catch her, I have like 150 countries to go.

My cousin’s husband just started a blog about his travels around the USA, either by motorcycle or camper, and all the people he meets along the way. He calls it America is a beautiful thing .   

Here are a couple of snapshots a la Catch Me If You Can…

Argentina five years ago:

As we flew into Ushuaia airport I could tell the pilot was having to do some maneuvering swooping down in-between the mountains and dealing with the heavy winds. A province of Argentina, Tierra del Fuego is an island that sits at the southernmost tip of South America. Ushuaia, its capital, is on the Beagle Channel about half-way between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, 620 miles from Antarctica. The meeting of the two oceans along with the mountainous terrain creates a strange weather pattern. It was usually very windy and could rain, be sunny, be stormy, windy raining, all within the same hour. It never rained for long and usually not very heavily. We could be out walking in the rain and never feel wet. 

Once we hit the ground, I started to cry. It had taken me more than thirty years to get there but I was finally there. It was an amazing feeling. And the beauty of it did not disappoint, it was even more beautiful than I had imagined. The light and color was like nothing I had seen before. The area was dominated by snow covered mountains all around. Before arriving I had been worried that the excursions I had reserved would be cancelled because the weather forecast called for rain every day. I soon realized, rain meant nothing in Ushuaia. Life went on no matter what the weather was. One of our tour guides said the only people carrying umbrellas in Ushuaia were tourists. Because of the winds, umbrellas were useless.

Egypt one year ago: Valley of the Kings

Then we wound up the hill into the valley where the tombs were hidden. One reason they picked this area is the mountain is naturally shaped like a pyramid. Only twelve of the 63 discovered tombs are open to the public at any given time and they are alternated as they are worked on and restored. We saw four of them. The whole area was still being actively excavated. Some tombs were in better shape than others. King Tutankhamun’s tomb was the only one that still had a mummy in it and it will be moved soon. It is hard to describe the experience, it was beyond beautiful so amazing to think how old they are. 

I read all the Amelia Peabody books by Egyptologist Barbara Mertz aka Elizabeth Peters that span the time from 1884-1923. She wrote 20 books based in Egypt mostly about archeologists digging around and solving mysteries. As I read them, I kept trying to imagine what the Valley of the Kings actually looked like back then, or even now. All I could imagine was a vast desert with nothing much else. Well, now I know.

Have a great week!

It is Official

Skyway Art. Walking through the Skyway this week I noticed these new window murals. They are kind of cool.

It’s official. I’m retired. Day three of retirement. The countdown is over. Now I can get to all those projects I’ve been putting off for my retirement. 

You might want to check out postcardbuzz.com this week. I came across some postcards from the turn of the century (1900’s). Apparently it was all the rage to send photographs as postcards. Here is one that was appropriate for the season. 

Speaking of the season. We have had over 40 inches of snow this winter so far. We are running out of places to put it. 

The US House of Representatives are the butt of all jokes at the moment. Specifically Kevin McCarthy. What an idiot. They have voted 10 times so far and he still can’t get elected speaker of the house. Where is Nancy when you need her?

I started reading the Raj Quartet, first one is The Jewel in the Crown. I saw the dramatization on PBS years ago. So far I am enjoying the book.

Obviously not much floating around in my head this week….

Friday Before next year…

Almost 2023. Very odd. Time is a very strange thing. When you are young it can’t move fast enough. Then it just sort of stalls for a while. As people start getting married and having children and busy jobs.. it speeds up. And in a blink of an eye, the children are off to college and doing their own thing. The job either slows down or overcomes you. Or burns you out. And then time just warps. It becomes unpredictable. It breaks down into segments. The day could be long but the week could be short. Unpredictable. 

This week I read Travel Light, Move Fast by Alexandra Fuller. She is watching her father die in a hospital in Budapest. Actually in Buda. Her parents were on vacation when he collapsed. Alexandra flew from the USA to help her mother and be with her father. It took him ten days to die. In that time she flashes back on his life and on her life. He was English but moved to South Africa at a young age. She was born and raised in South Africa. Or I should say Southern Africa. She lived through the war that converted Rhodesia into Zimbabwe. 

I enjoyed the book. She writes well and her family is full of interesting characters. She has written several books, mostly about her childhood. She has not had an easy life, but an interesting one.

Years ago we had a tradition of having cheese fondue and ratatouille, usually on New Year’s Eve. This year I was craving cheese fondue. I ate it on Christmas Eve. Couldn’t wait. It was yummy. It goes really well with ratatouille.

Ratatouille

Peel, Slice and salt to get rid of excess moisture:
2 1/2 cups diced eggplant

Put in a deep skillet:
1/3 cup olive oil

Sauté until golden:
¾ cup thinly sliced onions  (red or yellow)
2 cloves garlic

Add:
4 thinly sliced green peppers
3 cups zucchini, cut into cubes
2 cups chopped tomatoes
Add the drained eggplant.

Sprinkle the mixture with:
Olive oil

Add:
½ teaspoon oregano and 1 teaspoon basil

Simmer covered over low heat about 45 minutes.
Uncover and continue to heat 15 minutes longer to reduce the mount of liquid

Add:
Salt and fresh pepper

Serve hot or cold with sour cream.

I have also had it with lamb chops and mashed potatoes and it is delicious.

Happy New Year!!

Quick year in review

Friday Before the Holiday

My relatives.. This is actually a postcard dated 1912. Apparently it was all the rage at the time to make your photographs into postcards. It is addressed to my grandfather and just says “My Latest”.

We are back in the deep freeze. Seven new inches of snow and temperatures well below zero F. with strong winds. Blizzard conditions. But, hey, this is Minnesota. We trudge on.

It is the first of two holiday weekends. Family, Festivities, Fun, Food. I’m making a Hazelnut Torte to take to the Xmas eve get-together. Then I will take my father to a nice restaurant for Xmas day. And it will be cold. I lived in Mexico City growing up. Our tradition was to get up the day after Xmas and load up the car and drive to Acapulco for a week. Now, that was way more fun than any other Xmas stuff. My holidays were always related to travel. Either traveling home from boarding school or traveling to the beach or, one year, we traveled to Kenya and Tanzania to see the game parks. I might need to revive that traveling tradition.

I became interested in the show Yellowstone because a new prequel just came out with Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford called 1923. So, thinking the whole show was on Paramount Plus, I signed on. I then saw there was another prequel called 1883. I have been binge watching 1883. I figured I would start at the beginning. Then I discovered the actual show isn’t on Paramount Plus, they sold it to Peacock. So if I want to watch the actual show I have to sign up with them. This is getting to be very confusing. And expensive. Maybe I can find it at the library…

Anyway, 1883 is about the Dutton family’s trek from Fort Worth Texas to Montana by covered wagon. They are traveling with a group of Eastern European immigrants. Within the first few weeks, half the people died in one way or another. Disaster after disaster. The narrator is a teenage girl who goes from despair to elation about love and nature and god’s hand in nature and the beauty of the land and the cruelty of it as well.

It made me think about my family and their trek across the sea and then half way across America. They must have traveled the same way. Covered wagons, horses. On my father’s side my ancestor came from Ireland in 1811, and bought land in Pennsylvania. They didn’t stay long. His son was born in Ohio in 1818 and they later moved to Missouri. When he found he was on the wrong side slavery, he moved his farm and family north to Illinois. After he died in 1858, the family moved to western Iowa where they had kin. My grandfather was born in Iowa in 1880. He dug in a farm and stayed there.

On my grandmother’s side, her family sailed from England to Connecticut in 1641. The family stayed there until the mid 1700’s when their house was destroyed by fire.

The father and two elder sons went into the wilderness to clear some land and left the wife and baby in a white settlement. The father and eldest son were killed by Indians. The second son, Isaac, was fourteen when he was captured by the Genesee Indians. Several years later he managed to escape but it wasn’t until he was 70 years old when he found his baby brother who had been left behind with his mother. By that time he was living in Ulster County, New York. The family stayed in New York until about 1880, when they up and moved to western Iowa. My grandmother was born there in 1881.

You can see why 1883 draws me in.

I hope you have a super duper holiday weekend!

Hazelnut Torte

½ lb shelled hazelnuts
8 eggs, separated
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup breadcrumbs
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup whipped cream
1 cup tart jelly (I like raspberry)

Grind the unblanched hazelnuts very fine. Put 2 tablespoons of the ground nuts aside for the outside of the cake.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar till very light. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon rind, lemon juice, vanilla and ground nuts. Fold in the egg whites whipped very stiff but not dry.

Bake in 2 layers, 30 minutes at 325 degree F. Cool in the pans.

Take out and put together with whipped cream and a little jelly spread between the layers. Whip the rest o f the jelly with a fork and spread it over the top and sides of the cake. Powder with unused 2 tablespoons of ground nuts. Decorate the top of the cake with a swirl of whipped cream. Chill before serving.

Maybe I’ll have a picture next week.