Monday, June 28, 2010

The Recipe Box

Recently Thierry and I have been discussing the cleaning up that we need to do around the house. He is particularly bothered by the clutter, although many would say our house is NOT cluttered. Granted, the office is a little overgrown with books and the papers on my desk. I finally brought two bags of my old books to the used book store down the street. The library has a stack or two of books that need to be placed on the shelves and the old printer is sitting on the floor waiting to be disposed of. I tend to leave coupons and odd pieces of mail around the house, mainly because I don’t know where to put them. I always had a junk drawer in my other houses where I could stash things, but not here.

We have a glass coffee table in the living room and we each have a pile of reading on the lower shelf and I recently added a file folder full of recipes clipped from magazines and downloaded from the internet. Thierry noticed this new pile which I brought out from the office bookshelves where I keep my cookbooks. I had to add clippings from two Vegetarian Times magazines to the folder, which is still there days later as I keep telling myself now is the time to file the contents. I keep meaning to scan them and file them in my computer recipe file, but the whole process seems daunting: first figuring out how to use the scan function on the printer, then figuring out how to save and file them on the computer.

I routinely go through my stack of cut-out and photocopied recipes and tell myself someday I should try this one! A few I actually have tried and my favorites (used more than once) are in pretty bad shape, full of food stains and water spots. When I moved from my home of 19 years, I tossed or gave away many cookbooks that I really never used. I kept about 40 or so and added to them when I went through my vegetarian phase.

With the internet I rarely open my cookbooks anymore, but try to copy or download right into my recipe file those recipes that seem interesting. At this stage of my life I should be able to just create a meal gleaned from all of my past meals, but alas, my mind gets boggled when I try to whip up something spur of the moment. Now I take my little Netbook and put it up on the counter, do a search on the ingredients, locate a recipe and follow it on the screen while I am cooking. I am not totally incapable of being creative – I do add or subtract from a recipe as appropriate, but do depend on the author to pull together the main ingredients of a meal for me.

I don’t know how many recipes I’ve clipped over the years or how many I have actually tried or eventually just thrown away. I wonder if it is genetic; clipping recipes, putting them away and rarely looking at them. My father did the same thing and so does my sister Jean. My uncle collected cookbooks and had video tapes of all types of cooking shows. He was a gourmet cook, and most likely didn’t need a recipe for anything – but this was his hobby and joy.

This week’s goal is to do something with these recipes – toss or save – and clean up yet another pile of clutter. As it goes, I made dinner at mom’s tonight and used a recipe that was clipped from some magazine. Maybe Thierry will be in for a real treat this week!

By the way, mom is out of rehab although still recovering from her fall. She is doing quite well, and Jean has been there to help her get reacclimated to her home and daily routine.  Home therapy will start this week.

I saw my doctor on Thursday and she informed me that I will no longer be given the carboplatin due to the reaction I had a few weeks prior. She said that she had been thinking of discontinuing this chemo anyway, since my scans were so good. Hopefully things will continue to improve.

It has been a very busy and wonderful week and weekend.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What's a Friend to Do?

Well, I thought I’d have this posted days ago, but when we left on Friday to go to the boat I left my netbook in the car! It doesn’t matter if I make a list, I still forget things. The last time I went down to Baltimore I had a list but left two things off which I thought were minor and I’d remember them (my neupogen syringes and the bolts to the cockpit table that Thierry had varnished and that I had already put in the car). This time I did not have a list. The only thing I forgot from home was the container with my vitamin supplements. The computer, which I remembered to remove from the house, was in the backseat of the car (we drove from Havertown to Baltimore with Lauren and Mike in their car). So.......

At any rate, I probably would not have written as we were busy with Lauren and Mike who decided to spend Lauren’s birthday (the 13th of June) and their one year anniversary with us on Curlew. We had a terrific weekend. They are such fun to be with. We got to sail three out of four days and had a great evening in Annapolis. I actually got drunk (haven’t been drinking much) and had a slight hangover on Monday. Have to be sure I don’t do that again!

When I got back to town I had a conversation with a friend of mine who told me some news about a personal issue she was struggling with. Have you ever been in a situation where a friend shares something that is severely impacting their life, the subject of which you have some definite opinions on; opinions so strong that you fear if you share them you may injure the friendship?

This is the second time I have been in this position. The first time was many, many years ago when a close friend was involved in a situation that was clearly bad for her. She would share her angst with me and I know I voiced my opinions because I distinctly remember her commenting at the time that she just needed me to listen and not to judge or make comments. I always felt I let her down by not being a better friend and just listening. You would think that I learned my lesson, but it happened yet again.

But how do you stand by and see someone make what you think is not the best decision and not say something, if you are truly a friend? When do you just keep your mouth shut and listen? One complaint a lot of women have with men is that men always want to solve problems. I always wanted to be listened to by my husband (to vent), not told what to do. Seems I do the same thing, feel I have to fix things for others.

Perhaps one answer is to listen, carefully, then question. That is ask questions that will (may) help the person come to their own conclusion. I fail miserably at this, at the most important times. Maybe this is one of the life lessons that I need to master. I plan to work on it!

It was a struggle this morning getting to the gym – perhaps I’m still suffering from the weekend. I was literally lying on the bed in my gym clothes having a conversation with myself over whether or not to go. But I kicked it in gear, got to the gym then later to the burbs to take Dad over to see Mom at the rehab facility. Yes, once again Mom is being rehabbed as she took a spill last week and broke her clavicle. Other than the pain from the break, she is really doing pretty well.

It was truly a great weekend and a good day, even tho I’m still struggling with lessons I must learn.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Creating a Few Memories

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I am just sitting down to write for a few minutes before company comes for dinner - now that I have finally decided what to write about. Sometimes I am at a loss for a topic, other times, like now, there are a few things on my mind. This is good, so perhaps I’ll write earlier next week.

We have done some fun things over the past three weeks or so, so I thought I’d write about them. They are light and I have good pictures to back up the stories. I think pictures add a bit of punch to the blog and certainly bring things to life.

About three weeks ago now, Thierry and I went over to my parents’ house to help Dad plant his garden. My sister Ann and her husband Juan had been there the day before and planted the tomatoes. We went to plant peppers and Thierry hoed the other beds. Juan came again to plant while Ann took Mom to the doctor. We would have planted more, but Dad misplaced a batch of seeds which we have since sourced and hope to plant this coming week. At the same time Thierry will stake the tomato plants.

My father, at 89 years of age with limited sight and walking ability, still likes to have his garden. He does go out almost every day to water and to weed, and even plants seeds. The garden, which is still sizeable, has been active I think since the time my parents moved into the house in 1953. It used to be much bigger, and we’d always complain that the spot was better suited to a swimming pool. Dad didn’t fall for that one. My brother used to help in the garden when he was little (and I am sure bitterly complained). I don’t remember doing much in the garden other than picking vegetables and later selling them to the neighbors. Dad used to grow radishes, onions, herbs, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, two types of peppers, several types of lettuce, beets, swiss chard, cucumbers, and two types of string beans. The list is a little shorter today, and so is the volume.

Juan calls this the Taraborelli Community Garden because it has turned into a group project. As much as I would like to see my parents give up their house at this stage, I have to admit that going to help them with their garden has added a new dimension to our family life. Dad stands over all of us and provides explicit instructions; while we all kind of chuckle under our breaths yet work obediently to get the job done – right. We all benefit from the effort when it is time to harvest.

I have come to realize that I should relish this little bit of time that I spend with my Dad, Thierry, Ann and Juan, because one day the garden will be gone, and we’ll have these wonderful memories to look back on.

Thierry and I took Curlew out for Memorial Day weekend. This is the first time I have been on the boat in about 8 months. It was another hot, humid weekend and I really thought there would be no wind, but we were pleasantly surprised. We left the marina on Saturday and headed across the bay to Swan Creek which is near Rock Hall. We were able to sail almost the entire way, from the mouth of the Patapsco River to the entrance of the creek. We ended up sailing 3 out of the 4 days we were on the water.

We met up with our friends Sylvia and Tom, who have a boat at a marina near the anchorage and had dinner in Rock Hall. I realized I hadn’t been to Rock Hall in close to 15 years. The town hasn’t changed too much – although a Walgreens has been added. Still many of the same stores and restaurants remain.

We stayed put on Sunday and friends of ours, Scott and Sue, came along with their boat and rafted with us. We had a really pleasant night and the next day, Scott helped hoist Thierry up the mast to do some repairs to the genoa furler. Here it was Sue’s birthday, and we infringed on her celebration once again by asking them for help. It was May 31st two years ago exactly when Thierry and I were in Washington DC on Curlew and I had to call Scott to come lend me a hand.

The night prior both Thierry and I were taken by ambulance to Georgetown Hospital, he with a tightness in his chest, me with a high fever and diarrhea and extremely low blood pressure. We must have been a sight when we staggered into the marina office to ask for assistance. The next morning, they let me out of the hospital but wanted to keep Thierry in for observation.

The forecast that day was for severe thunderstorms with a threat of tornados. Here we were anchored out in the middle of the Washington Channel anchorage. I was still feeling quite ill and weak, and I have never experienced being on board by myself, let alone in a storm. Not knowing what to do I called sailor friends who suggested I call Scott – a very experienced sailor – who lives in Columbia, not horribly far from DC. When I spoke to him he told me that they didn’t really have plans for the day other than to go to a movie to celebrate Sue’s birthday. They both came down and stayed with me while the winds kicked up. In the meantime, Thierry called and said he had been released. Scott picked up Thierry in the dinghy and we all waited out some strong winds and a thunderstorm. In two years we’ll have to think up another reason to get Scott and Sue to come help us on Sue’s birthday, just to keep the tradition going.

Yesterday, Thierry, Lauren, Mike and I went to a local vineyard for a wine tasting. Our favorite wine expert, Robert who does our family wine tasting each year, organized a luncheon and tour of the vineyards of Penns Woods Winery. The owner is an Italian from Abruzzi (same region as my parents), and he spent a good deal of time talking about his efforts to get the vineyard back to producing good grapes and the threats and challenges he faces. We had a nice lunch, sampled wonderful wines, bought a few as well, and spent a great afternoon with “the kids.”

I had a light chemo week as they decided not to give me the carboplatin in my last treatment. The doctor was out of town, so I will find out this week what the next steps will be after my reaction to the drug the previous Thursday.

So, all in all, with the light chemo, the great wine and wonderful time spent with family and friends, it has been a great few weeks! Tune in for the serious stuff later in the week!