Sunday, December 31, 2017

Onward and Upward!

The Husband is down with a virus so it was not a good rest for us last night. Cough, cough. Toss, turn. You know the drill. He'll be fine, we think positively. Leftover garlicky ginger chicken soup was turned into a pot of garlicky ginger tomato soup this morning, which shall be good for a couple of days before he tires of that kind of soup. He's already on his way to losing weight for the 20-pound loss goal we each set on Christmas day (our present to ourselves) by the end of May.

So. Here we are, the end of the year.

An outrageous year for our nation, leaderless. Executive actions and congressional duplicity turning us down the path of darkness rather than so-called greatness. I want to think that we've reached the bottom and it's only up now. A lot of us have no problem standing up against harassment, intimidation, lies, misconceptions, ignorance, and down-right bullying.

The personal score: A hysterectomy took away the cancer no one was really sure was there. The knees are still without a substitute for a lack of cartilage, yet turn on the dance music, what pain?  A neighbor from my young days, a cousin's wife, a friend's sister, and the first and late Husband's son all are now soaring in peace and joy throughout the universe. A celebration of 21 years of marriage. Fun times with old and new friends. Molly the Cat purring every day. The Mama's house becoming more our home. Missing the Mama, ah, but the Mama stories we tell each other bring us smiles and, yes, laughter.

Onward and upward into the new year we go. May it be one of good health, love, joy, peace, and common sense for us all.

Today I'm linking up with All Seasons, a weekly meme hosted by Jesh at Artworks by Jesh StG. Thank you kindly, Jesh. :-)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Nothing Like Reading a Good Book

Molly the Cat rubs her face from front cover to back cover of Under a Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes, rather than just one edge of the book. That's how much she is enjoys Mayes' memoir, too.  I'm taking my time with it, savoring a section or two with breakfast. I may have mentioned this before: Mayes has been inspiring me to turn the Mama's house into our home.

Since the Mama's spirit soared into the universe last year, I have been reading a lot. The last time I lost myself in the virtual reality of novels, memoirs, and nonfiction was during my school daze. I read so much back then, the Mama would sometimes say to me, "You read too much. You're going to hurt yourself. Go outside."

Today I've got it somewhat balanced. I read and I go outside. Sometimes, I read outside.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Ducks in the Backyard

Quack, quack, quack. Watch out for me! So said the duck by the fence as I raked the leaves in the backyard.

There are six of these blue-plate ducks hanging out in the yard. A friend asked, "Why don't you use them?"

That was my plan when I fell in love with them in a thrift shop two birthdays ago. But, the only action the plates saw were inside a kitchen cabinet.

The ducks are meant to be out in the open for us to enjoy. Of course what better place for them but in the backyard.

Quack, quack, quack. 


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Winter Brilliance

On this winter day, the roses and daisies are showing off on our once-upon-a-time front lawn. How fortunate are we.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Molly the Cat's ABC Wednesday Movie for the Letter Y

The Missus Lady is at a stage in her life where any story that has a combination of sweetness, magnificence, and wonder gets her crying. She was tearing up as we watched the preview of today's movie to recall what it was all about. Oh, my Missus Lady, purrrrrrrrrr.

The Young and Prodigious T. S. Spivet (2013)
Setting: Montana

T. S. Spivet is an amazingly brilliant 10-year old boy who is into science. He lives on a ranch in Montana with his mother, an entomologist, his dad, a cowboy, his teenage sister, who wants to be Miss America one day, and Layton, his twin brother.

T. S. is so gifted that the Smithsonian Institute wants to give him an award in Washington D.C. for his invention of a perpetual motion machine. Of course the institution think that T. S. is an adult and of course his family members are so self-absorbed that they don't notice when T. S. leaves the house one night.

How does T. S. get to Washington D.C.? Who helps him on his quest? When the museum people see that T. S. is a child, will they still give him the prize? Do Mom, Dad, and Sister ever wake up from their obsessions? And, what's the story about Layton?

A note from Su-sieee! Mac: The letter Y is the theme for this week's ABC Wednesday. Click here to check out what bloggers from around the world have written with the letter.  Thank you, ABCW team!

A Peeking Bougainvillea Vine

By now, if our climate was the way it once was, the bougainvillea near the front window would have died back from the frost. Instead, one of its vines taps at the window, calling to us inside, "Hiya! What ya doing? A gorgeous day, don't ya think?"

I suppose if the frost doesn't get the bougainvillea this year, I'll have to prune the vine away from the window.  The castle look in the Sleeping Beauty story really is not a good idea to attempt.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Suman is my all-time favorite Filipino dessert that the Mama made during the Christmas season when I was a kid. It is a decadent sweet rice concoction made from sticky rice (aka glutinous rice and sweet rice), brown sugar, and coconut milk.

The delightfulness about suman is the memory of it being made, usually on a cold, rainy day. I'm anywhere from age four to seven. The Daddy cracks open two or three coconuts, pouring the juice into a waiting glass. I have yet to taste coconut water as good as what I drank way back when.

The Daddy scrapes the coconut meat from the shell carefully and precisely on a a flat, round serrated scraper that he attached to a thick chunk of wood that he straddled. "I want to do it," I say every so often, as I watch the coconut transform into tiny slips of whiteness as it falls from the scraper into a large white metal basin with red trim. Eventually the parents let me sit on the homemade coconut scraper and try for a short bit. It is not easy, and frustrating, as I scrape chunks rather than delicateness from the coconut.

The Mama takes the full basin of grated coconut and somehow turns it into coconut milk with a lot of water and repeated hand wringing of the grated coconut. Then the Mama puts a big pot of sticky rice to cook on the stove. Does it have coconut milk in it? I can't recall. I leave the kitchen after I sample the coconut milk, which is not as tasty as the coconut water. The next thing I know, the Mama sets pans of baked suman on the table.  The smell is heavenly. Mmmmmmm.

In my early 30s, I decided one Christmas to make suman for the first time. From memory. My suman was tooth-meltingly sweet but hard as brick, especially when it cooled. That was the last time I made suman.

Two weeks ago I came a across a bin of organic glutinous rice which triggered a desire for the Mama's suman so I purchased enough to cook in a small rice cooker. Instead of making the dessert from what I think the Mama did, I searched for an Ilocano recipe on Google.

Ha! suman does not have loads of butter in it, which was what made my heavy-as-a-brick concoction. Butter is used, but only for greasing the baking pans. Also, you make a sauce out of coconut milk and brown sugar, stir half of the sauce into the rice, then pour the rest over the sweet rice once it's in the baking pan.

My suman didn't taste as sweet or as awesome as the Mama's, but I am pleased with the result. I modified the recipe using far less brown sugar and adding about half-a-cup of Kahlua to the canned coconut milk.  I didn't use all of the sauce. If I remember today, I'll put the remainder in the freezer, just like what the Mama did with her leftover grated coconut and didn't ever use again.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you good health, peace and joy, love and happiness!
~ Su-sieee! Mac 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Prance and Pounce

Molly the Cat doesn't like the sound of plastic bags being shook, opened, or crinkled. Yet, there she was the other morning playing and exploring on the painter's plastic sheeting. Lovely Molly. Doesn't she almost look like she's playing in snow?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Imagine. . .

Hope it brought you a deep breath and a smile.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Chicken Bittermelon Soup!

Hurrah! I finally had chicken bittermelon soup yesterday. Slurp, slurp. Mmmmmm.

The day before we stopped at a Filipino market in Watsonville and almost immediately saying hello to me was a display of bittermelon (parria to me) and bittermelon leaves. I've been craving bittermelon for the last several months. Unless I grow it, we have to travel far and almost wide to purchase the vegetable.

The Daddy and the Mama grew bittermelon in their vegetable garden every summer. When I was a kid the Mama made chicken bittermelon soup at least once a week. Slurp, slurp. It wasn't until the Mama was 90 or so that I finally paid attention to how she made it.

Wash and drain the chicken in the cooking pot, then steam the chicken (no additional water yet) with ginger and garlic (how much is your choice). At that magical moment (just before the chicken skin burns in the pot) pour water to cover the chicken and then-some. Put the lid on the pot and step away from the stove. Let the concoction simmer until you think you smell chicken in the air. Now is the time to add the chopped bittermelon if you have it. Let the soup simmer for about five minutes, then add the bittermelon leaves. Cook until the leaves are tender, perhaps another five minutes. 

The Husband doesn't like bittermelon. Much too bitter for him. More for me, I say.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


When I opened the kitchen curtains this morning and saw the thick frost on the neighbor's roof in the shade, I thought of the Mama saying, "Look at Marie's roof. It has frost. Lots of ice."

So fitting for the first day of winter. I felt a moment's wonder of a winter wonderland. Molly and I most definitely had to go outside.

Cheers on this Winter Solstice!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

X Marks the Spot

With all the open space, in the house and out in the back, this is where sweet Molly the Cat likes to snooze lately.

Zzzzzzzz. Purrrrrrrrrrr. Zzzzzzzzzzz. Purrrrrrrrrr.

Both Molly and I agreed to skip this week's movie review for ABC Wednesday. It wasn't hard to find a movie that fits the letter X, mind you. We definitely had one (Ex Machina). We thought the story line was much too dark for the holidays. Maybe Molly will write about it for the next go round of movie reviews that she decides to do.

Click here to check out this week's ABC Wednesday. Thanks, ABCW team! Merry Xmas! and Happy Holidaze!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tradescantia Fluminensis

Quite a mouthful to say. What if you imagine yourself to be in Italia, near the Prealps, hours north of Venezia (Venice)? Suppose you pronounce it with a flourish, as if you're singing . . . tra(y)-des-can-ti-a flu min-en-sis.

Be still my heart.

Tradescantia fluminensis is the formal name for the green wandering jew plant. Maybe you grew it as an indoor houseplant when you were a young That Girl/Mary Richards thing like me in the 1970s.

It turns out the vines by the back fence that grow back with a vengeance, no matter how much I believe I've removed them, are of the species tradescantia fluminensis, hot-cha-cha. I found out last night when I posted this photo on my Facebook wall (my "back fence"). Thanks to Mike for pointing me in the right direction.

This plant grows quickly and spreads happily, especially in its role as ground cover. Some places consider it a pest because it can be quite invasive if its owners are not giving it attention.

Imagine this: A vision of green vines cascading down a chocolate fountain kind of planter. Ooh-la-la!

Hanging out at Our World Tuesday. Click here to check out bloggers from all over the world. Thanks, OWT team!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Flurried, not Flustered nor Fluttered

I have been randomly reading A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H.W. Fowler that has been sitting on my reference bookshelf since 1994, when I purchased it new for a buck, but did not ever crack open until a few months ago. All these years I missed out on the amusing dry wit of Fowler, along with possibly learning when to use some words appropriately sooner. More than likely I bought this book because it was on a list of must-have reference books for writers. Who knows how many times I've thought about selling Fowler's book or donating it to a thrift shop.  I'm glad I didn't.

This morning I read the entry for flurried, flustered, and fluttered. The word fluttered is usually used to describe a timid person who suddenly must deal with a crisis. Fowler did not seem to have much confidence with fluttered individuals. As for the word flustered, Fowler stated that a person so overwhelmed with multiple emotions she can't begin to express herself is best depicted as being flustered.

According to Fowler, the word flurried is appropriate for characterizing a person who has several tasks to take care of and allows each task to distract her from doing any of the others.  That word fits me well.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Getting into the Spirit

I don't know what got into me today. First thing this morning I went into the garage and pulled out the Christmas stuff. Red bows are now strung in the front yard, the mailbox looks festive with ribbons and red and blue balls, and a rickety wooden chair is adorned with fake snow-covered pine branches. Ooh-la-la.

A small, vintage plastic Christmas tree came out of its box to become the centerpiece of the festive festiveness that you see in the photo. Methinks this tree has found its home in that old-fashioned milk can. The ornaments, too, most likely.

Anyone else think its funny that our holidaze tree is outside among the living plants? Ha ha ha. This may be one of my favorite Christmas trees ever.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Villa Mia

I'm reading Under the Tuscan Sun right now. This is my third start (maybe fourth) in the last 10 years or so. I enjoyed the movie so I bought the book when I saw it on the "buy 3, get one free" table at a bookstore. 

I finally got to a point that I don't recall having read. This morning I learned that the fig flower resides inside the fruit and a certain kind of wasp burrows itself inside the fig to lay its eggs. If it doesn't succeed, that's okay, it has at least pollinated the flower. If larvae has been deposited, ooh-la-la! According to Wikipedia (yup, I had to learn more), a mature male mates with a female then proceeds to peck its way out of the fig so that all the females can escape. The male, now wingless and, no doubt, quite spent promptly dies. May he forever rest in joyful peace knowing that he did his job well.

Frances Mayes is the author of Under the Tuscan Sun. For those who never read the book or saw the movie, Mayes wrote about her experiences restoring a villa in Tuscany during her summer months off from teaching in San Francisco. So far, she has romanticized creating a vision from abandoned chaos; eating simple, but elegant, Italian fare outdoors; respecting old and abandoned trees still bearing delicious fruit; removing thick, gnarly tree roots from under stone walls; discovering old-time wells; and, yes, even hiding in bed as a thunderstorm lingers over her villa. I'm not even a third way through the book.

While I was reading about the figs and Mayes' discovery that some of the trees on her property produce the oh so expensive pine nuts, I glanced up now and then to the view of the backyard. Bright blue sky . . . new cedar (or is it redwood?) fence . . . the branches and leaves of the apple trees, lemon tree, avocado trees, and pink geraniums dancing with the light wind . . . the swaying of the chimes, Slinky, and other things hanging from the apple tree by the patio. . . . I'm living my own version of recreating a villa in Tuscany.  Magnifico!

P.S. That's not my view from this morning. It's what I would see if I looked sideways as I stood in the view that I saw through the sliding door window this morning.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Young Banana Blossom

This morning I came across a banana blossom, the first one since the garden came under my supervision. The blossom is still young. Proof of climate change?

Doesn't the blossom look like a goat's head to you? Baaaaa.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Coffee Press Plunger Chimes

French presses don't last long in our household. It used to be we could go a couple of years before the glass container breaks. In recent years, nope. Three months, if we're lucky. Each time one breaks, we go back to using our makeshift coffee system—a 32-ounce glass measuring cup and a leftover plastic funnel from a legitimate coffee dripper that got broke who knows when.

I can't bring myself to throw the coffee press plunger right away because I never know when it may come in handy. The problem is I put it away and forget where. It's not uncommon to reach deep into a kitchen shelf or open a box marked Kitchen Stuff, voila! there's a coffee press plunger.

Last month I finally did something with a coffee press plunger. It so happened that I came across a  bunch of metal tubes that were once-upon-a-time chimes at the same time that I spied a coffee press plunger. Yup. The coffee press plunger chimes make a pretty sound hanging from the apple tree outside the back door.   

Ding. Ding. Ding-ding, Ding. . .

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Molly the Cat's ABC Wednesday Movie for the Letter W

Today's movie was the first feature film ever shot in Saudi Arabia and directed by a Saudi woman. Purrrrrrrr-ty cool. It's an honest story about a young girl wanting things that she can't have because she is a girl. But, that doesn't stop her.

The Missus Lady says she knows what that was like. She says the Mama knew it, too, and even more. The Mama loved to climb trees when she was a kid. One day, when she was 12 years old, an older brother found her climbing up a coconut tree. When she came down, her brother beat her up, saying "Shame on you! You are too old to climb trees."  Mewr. She never said if she ever stopped.

Wadjda  (2012)
Setting: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Wadjda is a 10 year-old girl who lives with her mother in the suburbs. Her father lives there part-time it seems and now that Wadjda's mother can no longer bear children, he is thinking of taking a second wife.  Will he? If he does, what will happen to Wadjda and her mother?

Wadjda is not afraid to be conventional. She wears high-tops, while her classmates wear normal looking shoes, under their long cloaks, for example. It's not until she falls in love with a bicycle for sale at the corner store does Wajda decide to do something more in the ordinary. She enters a recitation contest of the Quran to win the prize that would be enough money to buy that bike. Will Wadjda win? He mother doesn't like or want Wadjda to ride a bicycle because it's unladylike. So, if Wadjda wins, how can she get her mom to agree to let her buy the bike? And, who will teach Wadjda how to ride a bike?

A note from Su-sieee! Mac: The letter W is the theme for this week's ABC Wednesday. Click here to check out what bloggers from around the world have written with the letter.  Thank you, ABCW team!

Feeling Free at Sixty-Four!

Yesterday I celebrated my first day of being 64 years old.

How did that happen?

My body knows I'm old. Probably my brain does, too. I'm guessing all old people say that since I have no guidebook for getting older.

Spiritually, I'm that five-year-old wandering in the fields surrounded by tall grass, wildflowers, butterflies, and sun bubbles.

I'm also that young thing uncovering worlds and possibilities.

I feel, again, a freedom to dream, to discover, and to do!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

An Heirloom Wheelbarrow

This rusty green wheelbarrow has been in the family for at least 54 years. It was one of the first garden equipment the Daddy bought for our new home way back when. We have used it to make cement, to carry bales of hay, and to move dirt, wood, and whatever from one side of the house to the other.

Today it sings a loud, squeeky-squeek when rolled so we prefer to use a hand truck.

I love its rustiness.

Sharing with Our World Tuesday today.  Click here to check out the longtime meme. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Channeling Picasso

Georgy of Jubilee Street posted a video called "How to Draw Like Picasso", which I'm also sharing. Last night I gave it a whirl. I could've easily filled the pages with possibilities. That above is my first attempt with crayons that belonged to the Mother of the Husband, whom I wish I had the chance to meet.

Thanks, G! Thanks, Betty!

Before you go, here are three fun pieces of trivia about Picasso:

His dad's surname was Ruiz, while his mom's was Picasso.

Picasso's full name is Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso.

In 1911, Picasso was questioned by the French police for the theft of da Vinci's Mona Lisa from the Louvre, although he wasn't in town when it happened.

Sources: and One Way Street: Picasso and the the Theft of the Mona Lisa

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Painted Switchplates


You know: the plastic covers for the wall switches.

I've decided to paint the switchplates in this house, along with the outlet wall plates. Not all at once, but one at a time when the mood strikes. So far I've painted three switchplates.

There are a lot of switchplates and wall plates in our home. I'm hoping the Husband will join me in painting some.