Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Warm Thoughts Blown in by a Storm

We're having some down time today.  The morning was stormy with the wind howling and the rain thrumming against the window sounding for all the world like gravel being tossed against the glass.  Hanging above our porch we have a set of wind chimes with the big tubes that sound more like church bells than the tinkling of the wind chimes heard more often.  At night I tether them so we don't keep the neighbor closest to us awake all night, but during the day I let them loose and they are glorious.

Tonight is a full moon and the clouds are scattered.  The wind is calmed, no clamoring from the chimes for the moment. Our friends are flying to Germany in the morning so we are hoping the storm holds off until they are safely away.  We have no television so we spend the evening playing chess and listening to our radio programs on the public radio station KUSP out of Santa Cruz. 

Yesterday our friends came by and helped get our Christmas garland hung around the house's exterior. It was a job well done.  Not one pinecone or ribbon came loose. The moonlight  glints off the glitter on the pinecones, but they are mostly a daytime display.

This weekend we'll bring down some more decorations from the attic.  We'll hang wreaths in the windows and our huge glass Christmas orbs from the porch ceiling. Christmas music will start sounding through our days and we'll feel warmer even as the weather cools off outside.  And we'll try to keep some eggnog on hand for when a friend, or two, drop by to say hello.

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Monday, November 26, 2012

Some Positive Words

Today marked the end of round two of v's chemo.  We're looking forward to a week without the strength and energy sapping effects of what we refer to as his "soldiers".  Just knowing he'd taken the last dose for the next seven days gave him added energy.  Today was also his first visit with the oncologist in over a month.  It was gratifying to be informed after the exam that everything is good. It was the first time we'd seen this physician smile.  We stay cautious, but happy.

We move forward into the holiday season...

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Morning

Saturday morning by the parlor window.  Sometimes watching the birds in the feeder is enough, you know?  We run around all week long, shopping, school, work, doctor's appointments, preparing meals, washing up, tidying, entertaining, visiting...and sometimes just sitting with my cup of coffee and watching the birds is enough.

Later we have friends coming over for chili.  We will discuss the holidays and the plans we all have.  We'll make arrangements for helping us with some of the decorating duties that are v's but he isn't up to this year, like climbing the tall ladder to hang the garland that wraps the upper portion of this small, but tall, Victorian house.  We have been perfecting this particular decoration every year, adding ribbons, and giant pinecones, a little glitter, and greenery.  No lights.  This is strictly for the pedestrians that pass our house daily on their way to their work for the city, the county, or the post office, or maybe even the kids on their way to the high school. Sometimes the sidewalk is almost as busy as the bird feeder.

We are looking forward to v's break, next week, from the chemo.  He's stronger this time around.  Last night we took in a movie: Lincoln with Daniel Day-Lewis.  If you see nothing else this year, see this.  We really don't get out to movies very often.  For the past three or four years we've seen maybe six films.  Oddly enough, every year we've managed to see the film that wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards, so...Lincoln?  We will see a couple of others over this holiday season.  I am a devout Hitchcock fan and am looking forward to seeing Hitchcock.

So see?  Sitting around Saturday morning musing over my coffee cup and writing this little note to let you know what is happening at one little house on the Central Coast of California.  Well, ah well...I really have a lot to do and the birds have left the feeder....

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Walking through the Fall Garden

Things are beginning to slow down in the garden.  I was going to say this is the quiet time, but it's not quiet out there.  We still have tomatoes coming along and since we've had such a warm autumn the leaves are only just beginning to change.

I'm waiting for that burst of bright yellow I love from the Ginko trees, but they are still brightly green, though the beech leaves are just beginning to change toward their fall coppery brown.

This year we aren't spending as much time putting the garden to bed.  It's being allowed to do as it pleases for the time being.  Spiders have been spinning their webs between trees, fences, and various neglected ornaments.

The angle and intensity of the sun give the impression of warmth, but the air is becoming crisp.  Directly in the glow there is a temporary warmth.  For a few minutes we sit in our garden chairs then the chill begins to make itself known.

We'll soon start putting things away
and maybe even do some cutting back.  But I have to say that I think I'm enjoying this unsupervised garden left to its own devices.  

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bella Fortuna

Fortuna, the lucky cat.  She came to us by way of being rescued by our older male cat Yoda one dark, late summer night.  He not only brought her home with him, he took care of her as she grew.  She has become the most "cat" of all of our cats and defies any attempt at anthropomorphizing. She's loving and affectionate as was her predecessor, Yoda, but she remains the inscrutable feline.  Yoda was v's cat and Fortuna has become v's cat. He's the one she comes to in the evening and whom she greets first in the morning.

Yoda and his daughter.

Some cat talk for this rainy day. Our bella Fortuna.

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I'm tossing in a quick new post here.  I've just spotted something that may be obvious to my one or two readers: I'm beginning to repeat myself!  I'm not stressed! I'm not stressed! I'm not stressed! Maybe a little tired.  

No update (what? not again?).  We're fine. And there will be no test at the end of the week.

We have wrapped up our visit from r. It was a delight! We dropped her at the airport in San Jose and she texted that she landed safely at about the time we were finally stepping across our own threshold--she lives near Portland, Oregon, but sadly, not in Portland.  That would be sad for us, she's content.

So, now the spare room has morphed back into my workroom/storeroom and I have no excuse not to get back to the happy process of making things and getting ready for the holidays.  I have orders to fill, for which I'm quite grateful.  

I've just discovered another great site which, apparently, millions already are aware of: Smitten Kitchen.  I will add it to the links list.  I've finally fixed the link with another charming blog: Fridays at the Museum.  So check them out, you two!

I'm feeling silly today... I guess I just slept too much!  Maybe it's the blustery day gathering out the windows.  October and November are my favorite months.  There really is just something in the air. Isn't this just the best time of year to cook those lovely, savory recipes?  When you get a chance in the late afternoon to nestle down in a chair, a blanket tossed over your lap, and with just the best book to read?
Oh, and with technology: sitting in that chair, with said blanket, knitting and listening to the best book. 
Oh Heaven! Oh Home! 

In bocca al lupo.  m & v 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Home by the Sea

Back on chemo for another two week run.  Good news is that v has gained weight and  is making red blood cells.  His symptoms have lessened, some having disappeared.  We continue to remain cautious.  We continue to remain surrounded with amazing outpourings of support and love from our friends and associates.  

These pictures are from a getaway we took last spring.  This is Cayucos, near Morro Bay, the day after a dramatic electrical storm.  It's a very small beach community with a long flat sandy beach.  Everyone we met had a story about the hundreds of lightning strikes and what they were doing during the storm.  It was the most excitement the little town had experienced in years.  The waves still appeared to be charged and one can wonder what the stories would have been from underneath...

I can't imagine ever living far from the sea.  I grew up with it, with the sound and the smell of it.  I've fallen in love with other places, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, New Hope...but when I have nearly decided to relocate I am pulled home to the sea.  I've never lived more than an hour away from the crash and roar of the waves, or the salty fog that leaves its rime along glass and crevices. Even v has nearly always lived a coastal existence. Born in Genoa, brought to Connecticut, and landing along the Central Coast where he says it feels like what home felt like to him in Italy.

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Monday, November 12, 2012

Serendipity on the Spur of the Moment

Round two of chemo for v started this morning.  He's gained weight and blood values are improved.  We continue to remain cautiously optimistic.

To take advantage of his renewed, and temporary, energy we decided to head across the Big Valley to the Yosemite area.  Serendipitously we received a text from friends in Southern California, whom we rarely see, saying they were on their way to Yosemite for the weekend!  We chose Oakhurst as our rendezvous point and despite several stops for photos and breaks we arrived only ten miles ahead of them. 

Recent storms left so much snow in Yosemite that chains were required to enter.  v and I don't have them, but it didn't really matter.  The getaway and meeting with our friends for supper and conversation after a spur of the moment decision during breakfast was magical and energizing.  We're still riding that wave of happiness.

This was just the perfect drive in the country.  We have to go back just so I can try again to capture the silouhettes of the oak branches in the sky at dusk.  I'm just starting out in photography...practice, practice, practice!

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Thursday, November 8, 2012


One of the more satisfying and soothing activities for me when v has been sick is cooking large pots of soups.  The last time we went through this sort of illness I rediscovered an old typewritten recipe of my father's.  He got it from a radio program he listened to.  Not being Italian he wrote the name the way he heard it, and decades worth of friends and family have known this heavenly soup as Pasta Fazul.  

When I first told v I would fix this venerable old Italian dish, he was completely mystified by the title.  It must have come from a region of Italy unknown to him.  However, once he read the list of ingredients he corrected our mistake.  He claims the true name is Pasta Fagiole, which may have come across those radio waves from an L.A. broadcaster as Fazul, or F'zool.  Thankfully, once it was prepared, we didn't care what it was called.  He loves it as much as I always have.  

For a little clarification on the photo above, my father's recipe is resting on a platter that holds nothing that goes into the soup.  It was a really late night when I was preparing it and the platter just held up the recipe.

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Monday, November 5, 2012

Crisis/Crisis Passed

We're feeling a little blurry today.  After a tough evening of suffering through some of the occasional side effects of the chemo we had a crisis in the middle of the night necessitating a visit to the emergency room.  Thankfully, v was fine and required no intervention other than a check by the doctor and a couple of prescriptions upon leaving.  

Today he is happily reading his New York Times and awaiting the arrival of our neighbor for their annual discussion on election topics.  He is also very happily visiting with his daughter who lives out of state and is here for a visit.  We do not see her very often and this is such a joy for him to see his beautiful daughter.  I suppose she will have to be r in keeping with our style of incognito.  We're afraid she didn't get the best of welcomes as he was barely present last evening, but she does, certainly, appreciate what his battle looks like.  We really didn't mean to be quite so dramatic and hopefully the rest of her visit will be uneventful.  

Tomorrow v begins his one week break from the chemo. We mean to make the best of it!

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Today goes well.  We are four days away from a break from the chemo and v is doing pretty well, really.  He's become very thin, and sometimes he sleeps more than he's awake.  But lately he's begun to have more energy.  We dare to be, cautiously, optimistic.  

Outings are a big deal now.  Once a week we visit a friend of ours at his home in Cachagua, a remote, hilly region above Carmel Valley.  The winding road that leads to his home is bordered by moss draped live oaks and sycamores in their full autumn glory.  Sometimes the turn in the road reveals vast vistas of fog shrouded hills, or brilliant blue sky.  

Tuesdays we enjoy the Farmers' Market on Alvarado Street in Monterey and sometimes a drive along the bay and ocean.  This past Tuesday v wanted to go to Carmel for a coffee and a drive along their scenic coast road.

Sometimes there is nothing better than to sit in my chair with a cat in my lap and my knitting while listening to some of our favorite shows on the radio.  We love public radio and our local station plays beautiful classical music four nights a week. Tonight a favorite: Musica della Sera.

Symphony season has opened, as I mentioned a couple of posts back.  We look forward to each month's concert.  In December we go to San Juan Bautista to see the pageant put on by Teatro Campesino at the old mission.  They alternate with La Virgen de Tepayac  and La Pastorela. Both pageants are glorious and colorful and magical.  Sometimes we attend the Christmas concert at the Carmel Mission as well.  Monterey puts on Christmas in the Adobes.  Many of the old adobes of Monterey get decorated for Christmas and volunteers entertain with dancing, music, and sometimes actors who represent Robert Louis Stevenson and General Tecumsah Sherman, both men having spent some time in Monterey during their lifetimes.  

So, this is how we light up the darker time of the year. Clocks back this weekend! 

I hope everyone had a great Halloween. We had our handful of Trick or Treaters.  I always wish there were more.

In bocca al lupo.  m & v