Day 67 – Rain + Sun = Rainbows

img_0192
Cloudy day reflects the mood at the USS Utah memorial at Pearl Harbor.

I prayed for rain.

I prayed for weather that reflected my mood.

I wasn’t feeling sunny, mostly sunny, or partly sunny.

I wasn’t feeling summery.

I was feeling mostly cloudy.

My mood was autumn rolling into winter.

The rain began Saturday – a trip to Lanai reminded me of my Pacific NW home and I started to feel better but on Sunday the sun came back.

Monday saved me – rain flowing through the gutter of my apartment woke me up.

I danced while I made coffee, I sang to the koi fish in the pond, and I cooed at the doves feeding at the bird feeder.


But folks here don’t know that rain makes for slick roads.

Traffic caused by accidents slowed my commute. Frustrated drivers sped by after passing the firetrucks and cars pulled aside on the shoulder.

I giggled at their frustration. I relished being stopped in traffic within the rain clouds collected on the windward side of the Koolau mountains. My only wish being to be able to get out of my car and dance in the rain.

I was beaming – this was a real rainstorm and not only a passing tropical shower.

Sometimes a good downpour is the perfect therapy for cleansing the doldrums of life.

Sometimes to find rainbows you have to walk through a storm.

Aloha!

Days 21-24 – Jumping Fences

img_9337

I’m okay. That’s all you really need to know.

But if you really want a little story as to why I haven’t blogged the last 3 days, then here we go…

Friday, my telework day, started off well. I was plugging along until I noticed that the fountain aerating the Koi pond aka Niagra falls, was a trickle.

img_8904A week ago, the property manager showed me how to clean the filter of the pump, but I needed to turn on the water to the hose.

The spigot for the hose is not in my little area – I had to walk out of my gate, then the main gate to turn it on. Notice the word gate.

For some odd reason, the main gate shut behind me. It was locked – something I have been super careful to make sure they are not if I don’t have my keys. (I blame this on the Menehune).

Jumping the fence was my first thought. I placed my right hand on what I thought was the neighbor’s secured fence, my left hand on the fence near the gate. As soon as I push myself up, the neighbor’s “fence” fell away. In the meantime, my hand is holding on to it so it doesn’t completely fall. Come to find out, it was no fence. It was an old gate with hinges and a hole where a knob would go that was leaning against a palm tree.

Casualty…

img_9326

My hand was ripped up by splinters. I eventually unlocked the gate (buy me a Mai Tai and I’ll tell you that part of the story).  I went inside to clean up my hand and wondered if I should go to urgent care because of a puncture on the tip of my index finger made me think there was a splinter.

Later that afternoon I did go to urgent care. The place I selected was new, and only 2 miles away in Kailua town. After 45 minutes of an incompetent “PA” using a pair of flimsy tweezers with a blunt end, saying “Oh grrrl, oh grrrl, I’m so sorry that this is gonna hurt,”  I asked her if she had a needle – so she went to look for one and brought back a fat needle (sorry didn’t read the gauge). After poking me twice, she gave up and told me they wouldn’t charge me.

img_9333

Saturday, I let my finger heal after being poked by the “PA.”  On Sunday, though, as I was cleaning my wounds – I could feel something was in the tip of my index finger. I gave my finger a little squeeze near the wound and a small amount of pus came out  (I didn’t photograph that).

I found a second urgent care whose phone message stated they were open 7 days a week from 8am-8pm, so I got on my bike and rode to their location (also only 2 miles away). At 3 minutes to 8 a.m. I noticed no one had shown up. I then noticed a note with small lettering on their door – “Not open Sunday, October  9th” – I was livid. I was about to hop a plane to Seattle when I decided to chill out at the farmer’s market before attempting another urgent care.

Luckily, I found the “only full-service urgent care on the windward side of Oahu” called Windward Urgent Care in Kaneohe. So I drove myself there – thinking if I don’t get care there I would just go to the emergency room (which was validated by a lovely chat with my MD brother and my RN mother).

img_9335

I felt good about the place. The PA (a true PA), discussed the options, was a little hesitant, but I told her I was game for having her slice my finger open and look for the splinter. We both thought it would be silly for me to go to the ER for a splinter.

I knew I had a winner when she came back with a syringe of Lidocaine to numb my finger. She also brought a scalpel blade, a small gauge needle (16?), and a pair of clamps.

The Lidocaine made my wound bleed more than usual as she slowly sliced open beyond the entry point of the splinter. She then grabbed the needle and started feeling/fishing around the wound. When the needle grabbed on something she was concerned it wasn’t the splinter, I told her it had to be the splinter.

From the photo above you can see the splinter (about 1 cm long). Success! A little slicing, then fishing, plus lubrication with the blood the splinter work its way out and the PA was able to grab it with the clamp.

She wrapped me up and sent me on my way.

I am forever grateful to Katie the PA – she was patient, persistent, and listened to her patient.

img_9336

What about those pesky Menehune? Well, thanks to them – I had an experience that has made me feel – strangely  – more comfortable here.

aulani-menehune-cover

Aloha!

 

Post Writers Conference Therapy

Diagnosis – Writers Conference Fatigue

Contagion – Attending Chuckanut Writers Conference

IMG_5917
My first public reading.

Therapy – Exercise creativity through medium other than writing

Chosen therapy – Cook dinner

Find ingredients in the house, use creatively.

In freezer find main ingredient – Wild boar ravioli (plin) – bought at farmer’s market too long ago to remember (< six months ago).

IMG_5922

Garden – find fresh herbs, oregano, thyme and rosemary.

Pantry – find two cans of chopped tomatoes

Kitchen counter – find head of garlic and onion

Proceed to chop ingredients

IMG_5925Sweat onions and garlic

IMG_5923

Add rest of ingredients

IMG_5926Add salt, and pepper then stir, simmer for magical amount of time.

Use immersion blender to create saucy sauce.

IMG_5928

Boil frozen plin, then plate. Garnish with sprig of rosemary and slice of olive bread.

Post writers conference dinner. Books from local Seattle authors, Elissa Washuta, Erik Larson, Stephanie Gallos and Carol Cassella. Wine from Woodward Canyon - Walla Walla Washington.
Post writers conference dinner. Books from local Seattle authors, Elissa Washuta, Erik Larson, Stephanie Gallos and Carol Cassella. Wine from Woodward Canyon – Walla Walla Washington.

Note: The Chuckanut Writers Conference was an amazing experience. The faculty list was A plus list. I’m so happy to live in such a creatively rich place like the Pacific NW. Cheers! (With a bottle of Woodward Canyon 2013 Dolcetto)

Sleepwalking to the Gym

The gym I go to is only four blocks away from my home.

https://tinayap.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/exercising-cartoon.jpg

 

Those four blocks can be an obstacle to overcome on some mornings, on others, like today, they help me wake up.

It is dark at 6:00 a.m. The robins are singing, the crescent moon glows through wisps of clouds, the sweet smell of blooming plum trees in the air. The darkness plays tricks on my mind, is this a dream? I’m I really still asleep in my bed at home?

Every step I take, down stairs, around corners, across streets, my caffeine-free state slowly comes to terms that we are getting closer to the gym. The glow of the fluorescent sign is coming clearer. Closer yet, the gym is the only storefront glowing on the entire block, in the entire neighborhood, a beckon for those of us who need a bit of exercise to start the day.

I decide it is a treadmill morning and not an elliptical morning. My workout decisions are usually made on the fly. Supposedly, I’m listening to my body, but sometimes my mind tells me I’m weaker than I really am. Will I do weights or just some stretches? I’m too late for the morning circuit training class. The one I wish I could wake up for, but it is just early enough…

Today, my mind tells me to do a run, walk, hill climb for 15 minutes. I’m coming off a week long cold, so I don’t want to “over do it.” Sometimes short workouts feel as good as a long workout. Lately, I have been lovely a 30-45 minute workout – or shall I say visit to the gym. Sometimes the time goes by quickly and others go by slowly.

Walking back home, I see the crows flying in from their overnight stay at their rookery, for another day of searching for food. The rising sun reflects a pinkish-orange glow on low lying clouds. Joining the robins are chickadees, gold finch, juncos and pine siskens. As I near my house I can here the sweet jingling of my cat’s bell, welcoming me back home and asking for breakfast.

I am finally awake, as I sit on my porch, cooling off from my workout and taking the first sip of coffee.

Challenging Status Quo

On Monday I decided I was going to do something different in my life.

It began when I wanted to add a cover image to my LinkedIn account. I know, nothing big, especially because I’m not sure what the value of my LinkedIn account is, and I’m pretty sure no one in my “network” cares about the cover image on my LinkedIn page, at least, not as much as my FB friends would care if I changed the cover photo on my FB page.

My niece learned of my true identity...  But is she right?
My niece learned of my true identity… But is she right?

It was the process of finding the image that mattered. Into my disorganized iPhoto library I went, to look for one of my favorite photos from a trip I took to Scotland in 2013. I scrolled through hundreds of photos. Some I wondered why I hadn’t deleted. Others, I wondered why I hadn’t printed and framed. Then came the photos of people, of me and my partner, in particular.

“We looked thinner back then.” he said,  while sitting on our sagging couch, a few feet in front of the HDTV, cable box, and Blu-ray player, remotes splayed across the scene, as he looked through the pictures on my laptop with me.

He was right. I saw it too. The milliseconds the images were up on the screen was enough time for our brains to pick up on the fewer inches of pudge that wrapped his mid-section or my back-section “only a year ago.”

The last year was fraught with so many – I need to work out more’s and I need to drink less beer’s – that it sounded like a broken record. Obviously, we were eating, sitting, drinking and wishing, more than we were sweating, walking, standing or doing.

So I went to the gym on Monday morning and sweat. I was sore on Tuesday, but I went to the gym again. I stayed away from those tantalizing carbs. I didn’t stop at Grateful Bread – whose current scone is the best in Seattle. I didn’t “celebrate” my second day at the gym. On Wednesday, I was feeling good, so when I went out to lunch I had a lovely cup of white bean and pesto soup with a think slice of homemade bread  and shared a little pizza with my partner at Element in the UVillage. Simple, small, healthy but loaded with carbs. The rest of the day I felt bloated . “Damn I think I do have gluten intolerance,” I thought after feeling massive in a pair of jeans I squeezed into the next day. Those jeans that were a little big “only a year ago.”

Was it all the traveling I did? My dad’s death? The “too hot” summer in Seattle? The amazing IPAs of the Pacific NW that I just can’t seem to stop drinking, especially during the “too hot” summer in Seattle?

Why did I gain weight?

I got lazy. My mind was not aware of my growing girth. My mind was too preoccupied with the stress of life. I failed at balancing recreation and work. I failed at balancing being active with being sedentary.

When my mind finally recognized that the girth of my ass had grown, I played a game with myself. Telling myself – “It’s not that bad.” or “I can work that off in no time.” Was I buying me some time? Or killing me softly, slowly?

My niece somehow knows of my challenges with the evil - Status Quo.
My niece somehow knows of my challenges with the evil – Status Quo.

I am going to the gym, I am starting to be conscious of what I am eating and drinking. I have a birthday coming up and I will not be “one year younger.” I’m challenging the status quo – I’m challenging the way things are or have been. I’m challenging the sloth within.

What are your challenges with status quo? What are your plans of action to defeat it? No plans? That’s okay, sometimes we just have to “do it,” to “act differently than usual,” to create the change we all so desperately want to achieve.

Challenging Status Quo – make it your mantra too.

Picadillo Cubano – Pacific NW style

How do you connect to your cultural roots?

I like connecting with food.

Cooking Cuban food floods my house with the smells I remember from my Abuela’s kitchen. I felt her spirit guide me as I crushed the garlic, sauted the sofrito and swayed my hips to the Cuban music playing in the background. Last night, to  celebrate what would have been her 96th birthday, I cooked Picadillo Cubano. This dish of ground beef, raisins, bell peppers, olives and tomato was not her signature dish – that was Arroz con Pollo with Tostones (twice fried green plantain) – but it evolved from the ingredients I already had in my fridge.

ingredients
What was in my fridge…

The centerpiece of the dish is the ground meat. I had a package of ground bison (the Pacific NW part of the recipe), my new favorite meat that is available at Costco. The meat is lean, organic and easy to digest, unlike much of the beef available.

Prepping.
Prepping.

The most important thing I have learned about cooking is to prep all of your ingredients before beginning to cook. It sounds simple, but I know many people who struggle with this simple concept.

Sauteing garlic and onions in olive oil.
Sauteing garlic and onions in olive oil.

I forgot to say that this recipe is not from my grandmothers’s cookbook Cocina Criolla by  Nitza Villapol  or from an online recipe, but adapted from a recipe in the ginormous cookbook Gran Cocina Latina by Maricel E. Presilla. Can I just say that a 900 page cookbook is just not practical.

photo 5
After the sofrito of onion, garlic, bell peppers are cooked, add the ground bison and spices.

The other very important ingredient is Cuban music – tonight it is Cubanismo’s first album.  I believe the rhythms playing while cooking, impart a very special flavor into the food.

photo 1
Add tomatoes. I added two cans of organic diced tomatoes, instead of 20 fresh Roma tomatoes.
photo 2
Olives with pimentos is an important ingredient as it offsets the sweetness of the raisins, also added at this time.
photo 3
Let simmer for about 20 minutes. I put the rice on to cook at this time…

While the picadillo simmered, I left the kitchen to put laundry in the dryer. When I entered I had a flashback to my Abuela’s house. The fragrance of the picadillo embraced me with the warm memories of sitting in her kitchen and watching her cook with love and care. I love the way that food can bring me back to my roots and bring my Abuela back for a visit.

Warm embrace from my Abuela - circa a long time ago.
Warm embrace from my Abuela – circa a long time ago.

 

Sunday Brunch: Refrigerator Frittata

Raw ingredients
Raw ingredients that were in my fridge.
It’s Sunday morning, it’s pouring down rain and I’m hungry. But I don’t want my usual breakfast of granola and rice milk, so I look in the fridge to see if anything inspires me. First I see the half empty carton of eggs. “I need to use these before they go bad.” I thought to myself. Then I spy the vegetable drawer, I open it and find Costco sized bags of baby squash, baby kale, and mushrooms. “I need to eat these before they go bad.” I thought to myself.

First cook the squash and mushrooms.
First cook the squash and mushrooms.

I sliced up the baby squash and mushrooms and slid them into my olive oil seasoned stainless steel skillet. I chopped up a couple of cloves of garlic and sauted those babies together for a few minutes until they were almost fully cooked.
Cover...
After throwing in the baby kale, I covered and let everything steam for a bit.

After cooking all the veggies, I slid them onto a plate, to wait until I cooked the eggs. I have had trouble with cooking eggs in this skillet in the past, but I only remembered that after I dumped the scrambled egg mixture into the pan.
egg scramble
Egg scramble before epiphany.

Now that I realized that my eggs were going to stick, I had to improvise my fritata. Once the eggs were cooked to almost done, I slid the cooked veggies onto the eggs and covered to cook for about 1-2 minutes.
Improvisation
Improvisation.

Cracked a little bit of black pepper and sea salt and the fritta was ready to be served.
Brunch!
Brunch is served!

To round out the meal I added a glass of pineapple, banana and orange juice. Since all of our small juice glasses were dirty in the dishwasher, I improvised and grabbed a couple of champagne glasses. Faux mimosas and refrigerator fritta, a great Sunday brunch!