Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mali Adventure - Day 4

Sitting here in the cooling shade of a café by the River Bani, it’s hard to imagine that this small slice of oasis is in a place of so much sun and so little moisture. But this is a soupçon of water and trees, in a country made more of sand than of green.  Along the Saharan trade route through the millennia, this is country of empires that have come and gone, Moroccan and sub-Saharan influences, French colonization, where Tuaregs and their camel caravans can appear unexpectedly on the horizon; it’s a surreal landscape.
Along with the official French, Bambara, Dogon, Songhai, Bozo, Fulana, and Tamashek can still be heard in the marketplace where slabs of freshly caught fish lay by baskets of gloriously colored vegetables, the ever-present rice, and beautifully patterned cloth. In this town of mud houses, goats everywhere, the Great Mosque of Djenne', and 3 hour tea rituals consisting of two pots of water and lots of sugar and mint, are beautiful, gracious people.
The Great Mosque
Tomorrow, Timbuktu!! But first….a purchase of Malian Mud Cloth.

The Fabric
A country of few resources, but with a rich history of music and art, young men are continuing a textile tradition that reaches into the balance of water and soil that is so indigenous to Mali. Bo`go`lanfini or bogolan cloth is a coarsely woven cotton cloth set in a yellow dye that is then removed to reveal clean, simple black and white designs that have been painted over the yellow. The dyes of leaves and bark are used to create the gorgeous earthy colors of this striking fabric. Each piece is a work of art, with simple geometric designs that echo the stark beauty of this harsh land. Perfect hung alone on a wall or as a beautiful floor statement, it can also be adapted to wear over other softening fabric. And with big chunky necklaces or a band of silver or gold African bracelets….magnifque′.

The Tea
Mali and Mauritania tea ritual is common throughout North Africa.  The tea that is used is typically Chinese green tea. The tea is brewed over coals and then poured into another pot. It is poured back and forth and then into glasses.  Then again from glass to glass.  Typically this happens from a great height above the pot or glass to aerate the tea and create a frothy foam on top.  It is a true art form and takes quite a bit of practice to get it just right.  It is also a slow process, the ritual can sometimes take hours.  Both in Mali and Mauritania it is often made and served by the man of the house.  After the first glass, mint is added as is copious amounts of sugar.  Like a full cup of sugar.  It is supposed to be really really sweet.   

Muslims do not drink alcohol and some believe the sugar creates a high and sometimes it is called desert whisky. There is a saying that first glass is bitter like life, the second strong like love and the third gentle like death.  If you have your own tea ritual or are ever invited, proper etiquette says you should slurp your tea loudly and every drop should be enjoyed. It is the ultimate form of hospitality when tea is shared.  Enjoy a little Mali and Mauritania tea ritual.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Takao Maple

A small garden on a quiet street in Kyoto. Evening breezes waft through a Takao Maple, whose leaves of gold and cinnabar hint at the beginnings of autumn, a time of softening colors and early sunsets. A gentle time between the warmth and vitality of summer and the hushed chill of winter, when both seasons cross paths and nature creates some of its most glorious shades.
Japanese yarn-dyed crossweave fabrics speak of the colors of nature. 100% cotton yarns are dyed, and then each yarn color is chosen to complement another when joined as warp and weft. The result is on one side, floating warp and weft yarns cross each other's path to create a subtle pattern on the reverse side. This produces a softened shade and hand that will last for many years and perhaps be repurposed into new and different silhouettes. 

                                                                    The autumn moon is bright;
                                                                    Sea-waves whirl up to my gate,
                                                                    Crested silvery white

                                                                             -Matsuo Basho 1644-1694

The fabric.....

The food....
Noodles in Spicy Lemon Grass Broth
Add tofu or shrimp to this
3 stalks fresh lemon grass (10-12" long)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (about 2 oz.)
5 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 c. chopping green onions (including green tops)
6 thin slices peeled fresh ginger
3 fresh hot red chiles, seeded and quartered or
   dried red chile, crushed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp. black peppercorns
9 oz. Japanese soba noodles

Rinse lemon grass; cut off and discard tough tops and root ends. Peel off and discard coarse outer layers,      then crush the tender inner part with the flat side of a large knife. Coarsely chop 1/4 c. cilantro leaves, reserving stems.

In a 4-6 qt. pan, combine broth, crushed lemon grass, cilantro stems, 1/4 c. green onions, ginger, chiles, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer over high heat; cover, reduce heat to maintain simmer, and cook 30 min. Pour through strainer over a large bowl; discard solids. Re-heat, adding shrimp or cubes of firm tofu.

Meanwhile, cook noodles separately according to package instructions. Mound noodles in  soup bowls and ladle broth over noodles. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and remaining 1/4 c. green onions.

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream
1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder, or more to taste
1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

3/4 c. white sugar
2 eggs

Whisk matcha powder in a bowl to remove any lumps; add a splash of milk and whisk until matcha powder is completely dissolved. Gradually whisk remaining milk into matcha mixture. Combine cream and matcha mixture in a pot over medium-high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 min.

Whisk sugar and eggs together in a bowl. Pour 1/2 c. hot matcha mixture into egg mixture; mix thoroughly. Repeat with remaining matcha mixture. Pour mixture back into the pot. Cook and stir matcha mixture over med-high heat until heat through, about 3 min. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours. Freeze in ice cream freezer according to manufacturers instructions.

The purses....
Haiku Bags from Studio Lizzy
3 different purses, with vintage Japanese and hand-dyed fabrics
Hand silk-screened motif on back and Haiku on one inside pocket
Bee Haiku Bag
Vintage Japanese fabric with vintage button
Hand silk-screened back
One of two inside pockets

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Visit from my Two Best Girlfriends

My two favorite girlfriends came with their mom and dad to visit for New Years. 
Granddaughters (I'm a dog and they're human, so they're not my granddaughters), Alana and Delilah, aka Dead Bride and Creepy Doll (see FB post Oct. 31) paid us a visit.
Sadly, we didn't have any snow for them to slide down our driveway with me this time (is more of the fun white stuff ever going to come again this winter?) but they brought fun and lots of laughs to my boring life. 

You can see how much they love me and how sweet and gentle I am with them. And you know what? I'm a Pit Bull. Yep, one of those mean, scary dogs that not-so-nice humans say bad things about. I admit, I do bark at people when they come to our door. But, as soon as I know they won't hurt me or my family, I just want to be their best friend. In the olden days, I was called the Nanny Dog cuz I took such good care of kids. How could you not love that face with my old puppy toy that my friend Kataya stuck on my head a long time ago.

Of course they left me at home with the two geeky fuzz balls I live with, to go out to fun places. They went to places in town they've never been to before, like the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, where Alana brought her sketch pad and Miss D shows the cutest braces ever.

My dad took my girls with their Mom Anita and Dad Ryan, to the Loretto Chapel that has the coolest, most magical staircase.

They walked up Canyon Road and saw lots of great art in the galleries. 
 Alana spent a moment with a friend who's like her favorite animal (except for dogs, of course) - the wonderful pig.
At least I got to run all over our big yard with my girls while they explored, blew bubbles, and saw a beautiful sunset.

They all went up to Museum Hill so they could walk the Mystery Maze (who knows why your voice echoes the closer you get to the center of it?)
and go to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Everybody who visits has to have their picture taken in front of Apache Warrior - sigh.
Delilah wanted a picture of her mom by the beautiful Indian lady because she thinks that she looks like her (her mom is prettier).
And finally, they all went to see The Glow at the Botanical Gardens, froze, and warmed up with hot chocolate and a fun lady who sang really cool songs.

So, after lots of shopping, and of course Return of the Jedi, my girlfriends left me to go home to California and their dog Bear. I was sad and looked for them all over the house. But they hid a bunch of pictures and notes in Mom's studio for us to find - I think that Mark guy is some toy of Alana's that my mom liked. And there's even a picture of yours truly.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

29 Casseroles

Scalloped potatoes partnered with salmon loaf in the matching Pyrex dishes.
Opaque, gelatinous tomato aspic sat beside the crusted silent mound of macaroni and cheese.

Every entrée had it corresponding side-dish. Exotic and foreign Italian Delight shared a plate with Iceberg lettuce and Italian dressing.

Sunday's magnificent roast took center state at the card table in front of Walter Conkite's The 20th Century.

The white glass cookie jar with generic floral design was never without its chocolate chip, oatmeal, or icebox kn fresh from the oven. 

Flaky Crisco crusts embraced apples, coconut, chocolate, and banana cream, pumpkin, and the detested rhubarb.

Avocados and enchiladas were introduced on the patio to endless Midwestern friends and relatives making the sojourn to Disneyland.

Soups made from humble legumes, summer and winter vegetables, were Saturday lunch, accompanied by their obligatory saltines and Wheat Thins topped by the odd duo of cheddar cheese and kippered herring.

Tuesday’s hash took up the slack of roast, potatoes and gravy.
Highbrow, 16-ingredient Chicken Gertrude made its appearance at the Ladies Lunch.

How many recipes made the cut into Hits of the Mrs. P.T.A. Cookbook and The Woman’s Club Our Treasured Recipes? 
The Women's Club of Burbank

A Lindholm Christmas Dinner 1954
Christmas Dinner at the Lindholms - kiddies in the kitchen
Ed's Manhattens with a maraschino cherry for the adults
Probably a maraschino cherry for the kiddies
Lime and Cranberry Salad
Prime Rib roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Some sort of green vegetable
Dinner rolls 
Pecan pie
Pamela and Cynthia Lindholm share Christmas dinner with friends

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Santa Fe Opera

The Diva Herself

10:00 PM Opera

It starts in the evening, but sometimes when we return during the day, the evidence is still there. Red rags strewn about, and sometimes a hand towel or sock thrown into the mix. When I get up in the morning, I pick up at least three of the treasured red cloths on my way to the kitchen.

My husband and I live with three adopted animals: our dog, Pittie Reggie, Desi, our special needs cat, and Lucy, our last addition who got a bit of an attitude when we found out that this shelter kitty is pure Turkish Angora.

Although all three are hugely entertaining, Lucy has demonstrated a very unique talent. Somehow, this 9 lb. wonder can “sing” at the top of her lungs while running through the house with one of the red rags in her mouth. She’ll then drop the cloth and continue the yowling opera for another minute. Never anticipating the moment of this performance, naturally I don’t have my phone video ready. Not that this act could compete with the video cat climbing straight up a bedroom wall, playing taps on the piano, or walking across the room on only its front legs. But, we’re not big YouTube providers anyway. This just comes under the category of “you have to see this to believe it” for our friends and family.
Red Rag
Having read plenty of literature on cat behavior, and doing a bit of sleuthing on-line, I’ve found no explanation for this strange routine of Lucy’s. Is she creating a nest? The Vet did say that she had obviously had a teen-age pregnancy. Are these gifts to be presented to my husband or me, like the half-dead mouse if she’d been outdoors? Or is she reaching back to her ancient feline wildness – a version of some primal prehistoric roots?

I decided, after all of my investigation, that it isn’t necessary to understand why our pets do what they do. In spite of the wonderful “understanding your pet” shows on PBS, animals are still a mystery to us. I don’t need to create an allegory for my own life out of Lucy’s showmanship; I don’t need to see it as a microcosm of the universe’s balance, or another spiritual voice giving me guidance.
A Sock
I just need to enjoy Lucy’s uniqueness. We have a counter full of framed pictures of cats and dogs who have passed through our lives. Each one has brought his or her personality to the wonderful mix of love and play into our house. The crowd that now shares our space is as interesting in their interplay as any group we’ve had before. Reggie is cowed by Desi’s fearlessness, and completely besotted with Lucy. Desi is the smartest and most curious cat we’ve had. Only he could figure out how to remove the cover over the mechanics of a whirlpool tub just to see what’s in there. The morning and evening shenanigans of Lucy and Desi together, along with Reggie’s demand for chase-the-squeaky-green-alien play is the best stress-reliever ever.

Poems have been written about our pets, our own human attributes have been assigned to them, and metaphors have been created to make a good read. But really, our beloved critters deserve more than that. Let’s just give them the simple acknowledgement of their important role on our planet. They give far more to us (even the independents like Desi) than we give to them and, like all creatures, they’re a window into the amazing world beyond us humans. So I just sit back and enjoy the show for exactly what it is: Lucy doing her thing with great delight, and giving me a free ticket to see it.