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July 22--Veal Puccini

My sister and her husband came over for dinner this evening. She is actually one of my step-sisters, but the one I grew up with, so she feels more like an actual sister. They are somewhat reclusive, so we don't see them very often, but when we do it is always great. I should note that we are also somewhat reclusive.

It was hot, so I wanted to minimize cooking indoors. I grilled a tri-tip and some ears of corn, made some basmati rice. and a chopped salad. This is the same chopped salad I have been experimenting with. I think I have it down now.

I like to put a bit of chopped up dry salami in the salad to give it some flavor. After I made it the last time, I had a dream that I had put the salami in a kitchen drawer instead of the refrigerator drawer where I keep that kind of stuff. When I looked in the drawer today for the salami, it wasn't there. I think I actually put it in a drawer somewhere. I looked but couldn't find it.

Anyway, the dinner was delicious. We spent a couple hours eating and catching up. I always enjoy their company.

I told my sister a story about the time me and my two friends flew down to LA to attend the premier of some Rolling Stones movie. This was right around the time we graduated from high school. There was a side story about magic mushrooms that got the story started, but my favorite memory was having dinner after the movie.

After the movie we went to a swanky Italian restaurant in Century City, but the host refused to seat us. We all had long hair, wore jeans, etc., and had backpacks on. This was in 1975. We looked like hippies, I guess.

The owner came up and asked what the problem was, and the host just pointed at us, like it was obvious we didn't belong there. The owner seemed to feel differently, and seated us himself, at the best table in the restaurant. He made menu suggestions. I had the Veal Puccini, which was delicious.

After the meal, he sent out a huge fruit plate, on the house, and sat with us a while to see what brought us to Century City. We told him about flying down to see the movie, and about our somewhat aborted trip to Disneyland (that's the mushroom story). He seemed fascinated by our adventure and told us to come back any time. He also gave us a nice discount on the dinner. I never made it back, unfortunately.

I did a google search and the place is long gone, but I found a newspaper write-up from 1974, which tells me the name of the restaurant was Puccini's Seafood Grotto, and that they had eight veal dishes on the menu.

I forgot to take any pictures of our dinner or us, so all I have is the shadow of my new cherry tree on my new fence.

tree shadow
  • Current Music
    Together Pangea--Money On It
xxix

July 21--Stuck in Lodi, again

After doing my morning stuff I took a drive down to Lodi, which is about 20 minutes south of where I live. It used to be a sleepy farming town on the railroad line, and in many ways it still is. It is also a major wine producing region, and this has brought the town back to life.

Lodi

The old town area has been revitalized, with shops, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms. The town feels vibrant--there are viable businesses, a transit hub with a bunch of little shuttle busses heading out in all directions, and some nice street art. My town could learn a thing or two.

I wandered around for a few hours looking around and playing Ingress. Some of my compatriots built a big farm there, and I was able to get a bunch of gear. After not playing much for the past 6 months, I was pretty much out of stuff to play with. Now I have a lot. Tonight the Resistance came and destroyed that lovely farm. And so it goes.

I had a nice late lunch in a brewery/restaurant. It was satisfying. I walked a little bit more, then came home to work on my doctoral stuff for a while. My final summer report is due on Sunday.

birds

A series of sketches on a wall on a side street. One of my favorite finds today. Birds.

My step-sister and her husband are coming over for dinner tomorrow. They are somewhat reclusive, and we don't see them much, so this is a nice treat. Not sure what I am going to cook, but something that doesn't require too much heat, as it will be 102 here tomorrow.
  • Current Music
    The Deslondes--Ribbon Creeks Collide
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July 20--Agatha and Edith

For some reason today I thought about whether I missed being a bedside nurse. I suppose I miss parts of it. I miss spending time with patients and their families, talking to them about what is going on, helping to get them through whatever it is they are getting through.

I miss using my critical care nursing skill set, which I developed over many years of practice. I could rely on my intuition and instincts, and almost always knew what to do. There is a nursing theorist who describes that process, and has written that it takes 10 years to get from novice to expert.

I don't think I could go back into the ICU again. It wouldn't be the same, and I don't think I could handle the relentless 12-hour shifts any more. I do miss it, thought. As I was writing this, I remembered the reason I thought about it. We drove past my old hospital on the way to take a walk in the rose garden and have lunch at a dim sum place in midtown.

wild rose

The rose garden was lovely as always. There were lots of people in the large park surrounding it, but very few people in the garden--mostly volunteers doing some pruning and watering. We wandered around for about a half-hour, sometimes stopping to sit on a bench and take it in.

grandfather plant

This reminded me of my grandfather's back yard. Not the grandfather I write about--the other one who died when I was fairly young--my dad's father. Our birthdays were one day apart, and when he turned 80, I turned 8. I remember him as an old man. His name was Joe.

I like the haziness of the picture. When I think of his back yard, it is hazy and somewhat desaturated in my memory, much like the image above. I could have sharpened it up, but let it be. I prefer my memories somewhat hazy.
  • Current Music
    Timothy Eerie--Great Depression
xxix

July 19--Getting ready

As I was sitting in the bathroom this morning, thinking, I noticed a very small spider, not much bigger than an ant, had let itself down on a strand of web from the ceiling, and stopped at eye level with me, just a few inches away. We watched each other for a bit. Eventually it started climbing back up toward the ceiling and I went on my way to face the rest of the day. I saw it as a good sign.

I went into work today to put some time in on the curriculum revision I am working on. I finished the revision part, and got a ways into the new content I am adding. This is for the community IV therapy course we have our students complete. I talked to my boss about it a bit, and she told me she was going to get me some funding for the hours I am putting into it. She's great like that.

I spent about 5 hours on the project, then came home and read one of my Hardy Boys books for a while. As things stand in the book, they just got arrested for mail theft and are in jail on a $50,000 bond. I can't imagine they will be able to get out of this, but there are subsequent books, so maybe.

chocko on the table

Chocko basks in the late afternoon light on the breakfast table. Don't tell Malida.
  • Current Music
    Jed Rowe--Tailem Bend
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July 18--A day at the fair

We went to the State Fair today as planned, though without our friend, who was feeling poorly. We did all the things we normally do at the fair.

wave thing

This is one of a couple of rides here that used to belong to Michael Jackson on his Neverland Ranch. Whee.

baby pigs!

See the livestock. Check. Baby pigs!

eggplants

Visit the gardening display. Check.

Visit the vendor pavilions and buy something we don't need, Check. Actually we bought some really cool peelers, and a few more sets of the sheets we bought last year. No Ginzu knives, though.

wine slushie

We tried something new this year. It's a blackberry wine slushie. It was delicious and very refreshing after walking around in the heat all day. While we were there, I ran into one of my former students, who was also enjoying a wine slushie. I almost always run into a former student at the fair.

corn dog

Corn dog. Check. A wise man once said that if you visit the State Fair and don't have a corn dog, it's as if you never went.

foot massager

$.25 vibrating foot massager. Check.

fair picture

Photo booth pictures. Check. This year's and last year's.

It was a fun day.
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July 17--Put it on the hook, Hank

I sat out on the back patio this morning and had coffee. I saw a red-throated hummingbird and a green-throated hummingbird, as well as a pair of doves. My attention was briefly directed at a snail crawling across the patio floor. I thought a bit about what the world would be like if snails had feet, and when I looked back, the snail was gone.

After coffee, I went in to work for about 4 hours. I have to revise our IV therapy online module. It will go live on August 10, so the clock is ticking. It used to be revised by a group from the various schools in the area, but they abandoned it last year, and I decided to rescue it rather than write an entirely new curriculum. I figured it would take hours and hours, but I was able to complete two of the four modules today, and will try to complete the other two on Wednesday.

I need to add a module dealing with intraosseous IV access, which is where you use a little drill to place an IV catheter in a bone. It's pretty cool. It will be a short module, though and shouldn't take long.

There were a few people from the program we share space with in the office today, and I got a preview of how loud it is going to be when the semester starts and there are 14-15 people in that space. I'm investing in some good headphones.

I came home and found two packages on the front patio. One was this exercise thing that Malida asked me to buy. It took me two hours to assemble. The other package was a bunch of old Hardy Boys books I ordered.

I mentioned last week that I had bid on a set of books and dropped out when the price got too high. I did another search and found a bunch of the books for sale from another seller for about $3-4 each, so I bought a bunch.

hardy boys

These books were originally written in the 1920s-1930s. The versions I read as kid were revisions that were written in the late 1950s-early 1960s. I have always wanted to read the originals.

I started one today--The Great Airport Mystery. It starts out with a drunken airmail pilot crashing his plane on the highway. Can't wait to see where it goes from there.

We are taking our recently married Thai friend to the State Fair tomorrow. Malida and I love going to the fair, and have our routine down. We start out at the fair food, then go see the livestock, the farm exhibit, and some of the art stuff. When it gets hot, we go see the indoor pavilions. We revisit the fair food and have a corn dog, then go to the pavilion where people try to sell you ginsu knives and such. I love watching those demonstrations. We always end up buying something. Last year it was bedsheets, which we love. We will be looking for them again to get a few more sets.

At the very end of the fair day, we seek out the $.25 foot massagers, then have our picture taken in the photo booth. It is supposed to only be 92 degrees tomorrow, so should be a good day.

Malida's cousin, the one who lives in Frankfurt, is on holiday and posting lovely pictures of waterfalls and things like that on Facebook. Malida made a comment on one picture in Thai language, and I hit the "translate" function to see what she said. "Put it on the hook, Hank", said the translator, completely mangling something like "that looks like a nice place to swim."
  • Current Music
    Kate Bush--Among Angels
xxix

July 15--Walking, not running

We made some plans to take Malida's friend to the the state fair next week. She is the one who got married a few months ago. Her new husband is a pilot, and is gone for a few days each week. She doesn't drive yet, so she pretty much sits at home. Anyway, we thought the fair would be fun for her. She will spend the night at our house as well, and then she and Malida will do some shopping.

I like going to the fair. I have been going to it, on and off, since I moved up to Sacramento, where the fair is held. My first fair visit was 32 years ago, in 1985. It was during one of the low points in my life. I remember wandering around feeling somewhat morose, until I walked into a greenhouse with all these beautiful flowers. I sat there for a few minutes, and had a sort of epiphany that maybe my life wasn't over after all, one of a few epiphanies I had during that time. A few months later I would turn 29, and go down and sign up for the initial classes that would lead to my initial nursing degree. I always think of that moment in the flower hothouse when I am at the fair. That and a corn dog.

We walked along the creek trail this morning before it got too hot. We saw all our turtle and bird friends, as well as some friendly dogs and people. After we walked to we went to the gyro/kabob place and had some gyros.

walk

I took a nap this afternoon, but was awakened by Malida yelling something from another room, which she likes to do. When I opened my eyes, I found that she was still taking her nap, and I realized that it was her yelling at me in a dream that woke me up. It seemed somewhat unfair.

In the afternoon I did some work for work. I have some curriculum to update, and it has to be done by August 10, when we open our course site. I also have to update the course site. So I will spend some more time on that next week.

shrimp roll

I made some shrimp rolls with homemade dill pickles for dinner. I have never made pickles, and was kind of surprised by how easy it is. I remember my babysitter making them in the summer from cucumbers she grew in her garden in the back yard. It seemed like a big deal back then, but maybe because she was putting them in jars and doing all that that entails.

My babysitter's name was Bernice. She cared for me from when I was about 2 until I was about 12 or 13 and didn't require a babysitter any more. She was like a second mother to me, and I have fond memories of those times. She always had a big garden because they didn't have much money, and the food they grew was what they ate. I could (and probably will) write an entire entry or two about those times.

Tomorrow is supposed to be 106 degrees here. We are planning our day accordingly.
  • Current Music
    Erik Satie--Gnossienne No. 1
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July 14--Spellbound

I got up early this morning to do some cooking for Malida's work potluck today. It was kind of warm yesterday evening, and I didn't want the house to heat up any more than it was, so I opted for this morning instead. I made a macaroni and cheese casserole, which is a big favorite with her work peeps. It's a recipe I have been making since I first learned to cook. It has evolved a bit over time, but is essentially the same recipe that my grandma showed me.

After I finished cooking, I took the food to Malida's workplace, which is about 15 minutes from our house. I dropped off the food and then played Ingress for a while. It was good to make some green triangles.

case tractor

This sits next to a portal known as "Antique McCormick Tractor", which is an antique McCormick tractor. This, however, is an antique Case steam tractor, circa 1899. There is a yard full of these things just beyond where the city ends and it turns to a rural area.

Yesterday I had a nice phone conference with my doctoral advisor. She was happy with my progress. I have to keep reminding myself that my ultimate goal is not to please her, but to complete the project and graduate.

I have about a month left of summer break before I return to work. I have a lot to do in that time, both with my project and with work stuff. One week of that time will be a driving vacation in Oregon, which I am looking forward to.

cactus flower

A cactus flower near the rusting tractors.
  • Current Music
    Robin Trower--I Can't Wait Much Longer