Sunday, October 25, 2009

No hay nadie mas que yo

As this post formed in my mind, I debated about letting these thoughts out for public consumption. Then I decided that I should. It's the closest thing that I can say that others will hear as, "I am drowning."

Thursday I got the phone call about my grandmother's death. But I never had time to grieve because I had to drive to my mom's to tell her the news. (My grieving lasted all about 60 seconds.) It was still in the height of commute traffic so the drive would take at least an hour.

In the midst of my drive, I got a call from my drive I received a hysterical call from my mother. Thanks to her stupid ass brother-in-law she had put things together and just needed confirmation. I denied knowledge of all things and said I would call her later.

And so I dialed my phone to make various other calls. I reached most of my mother's friends to warn them of the oncoming storm. And I called my friends as well. But the vast majority of them did not answer. And so the beginnings of one more wall around my heart started.

I realized this over the weekend. When I realized that I am so angry. I don't want to hear anyone else say, "Well she was old/sick." Like this makes the hurt better. But most of all I don't want to hear anyone else say, "You have to be strong."

They say that last phrase when they want you to take care of someone else. I'm pretty good at taking care of other people. The last year and a half have drained my well for the most part though. So when I hear someone say, "You have to be strong," my initial thought is, "And you can go fuck yourself."

Here's the thing. When someone says that I have to be strong for whatever family member, I have learned to interpret as, "Look. I got the call but I just really can't be there."

It was Friday before anyone thought to ask how I was doing. How am I? Pissed off and disappointed with the world. I used to have a safety net. Thing is they all died in the last year and a half. And when I really needed someone to be there for me, all I got was a bunch of phone messages for the most part.

So right now, the rest of the world can just kiss my ass. Because those folks I was supposed to be looking out for over the last year and a half? Oh they're just fine. They've moved on. And rarely include me.

And so right now, I just don't like much of anyone. And sometimes I don't like myself much for being such a fucking idiot.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Very few words

Last night I drove to my mom's house after getting a call from her brother. I had to tell her that her mother (my grandmother) had died. Yesterday I took care of her. Today I need to take care of me. I had tacos for lunch. Now I think it's time to leave work and go resume the position I've had way too many times over the last year on the couch curled up with my comforter.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sticking with it

Today was a bit of a challenge because for the first time this week, I did not bring lunch from home. That meant it was all about trying to make a healthy choice from one of the nearby restaurants.

Now I am a huge fan of the salad bar at Round Table but today salad didn't feel like it would be enough. I started thinking about adding on a personal size cheese pizza so I quickly headed over to the website to check out the nutrition info. Turns out it was around 600 calories. Not bad. And then Fluffycat was kind enough to point out that I could get a veggie pizza. Turns out that it was about the same amount of calories.

One of my coworkers keeps making comments like, "Are you still on that silly diet?" and "How can you not eat meat?"

I know that many don't understand. Let me put it this way. I only have one pair of pants that fit currently. Well, one pair of jeans does too but I can't wear denim to work. I am tired of the contents of my closet mocking me. And hello. I did the huge "let's help the economy" shopping back in May already.

The no meat thing really hasn't been that challenging. I had to point out to my coworker that there are plenty of protein sources other than meat. She's just one of those folks who thinks a meal is not complete if there is no meat on the plate. Next week I'm thinking of adding in fish though.

The other comment from the peanut gallery I received today was, "That pizza has a lot of calories." Guess what? Didn't eat the whole thing for lunch. Half of it's going to be dinner so it really isn't that many calories.

And now that I'm feeling a lot more in control of the food situation, I'm thinking that next week is time to add in the exercise/additional physical activity. It's my hope that by Thanksgiving or so, I can be at a size I'm much more comfortable with.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A little walk

Back in the 90s the military shut down a number of installations in the Bay Area. One of these is in my neighborhood. A developer purchased the property but apparently the deal has fallen apart. And so we are left with this instead of the fancy new development -- complete with commercial district -- that was promised.

It is such an eyesore. And a fire hazard as mentioned in the article. (Trust me. There's a building behind all of this crap.)

But I am really bummed about this. They were going to rehab this building to return it to its former glory. And the land below the building was going to be a park with walking trails and all. I was really looking forward to having the trails become available.

Oh well.

Monday, October 19, 2009


As you see, Boris is not very big on the idea of change. I have accepted that he will always sit on top of the refrigerator no matter where we live. Me? Different tale.

In the last two years -- since starting work at my current company -- I have gained more weight than I care to mention. While it does not make me overweight, it does make me not so happy. Because it's not like the weight goes on evenly. And I know that a lot of this weight gain happened in the last year or so -- when I was eating away my sadness and sitting on my ass because I just didn't have the energy to get off of the couch. I've accepted that it took some time for the weight to appear and it will probably take some time for it to leave. I have been spending the past couple of weeks trying to commit to healthier habits -- like cooking more, bringing my lunch instead of going to some fast food place (Hello Wing Stop. Love you dearly but you end up on my waist.), finding ways to be more active. The key is trying to do things that are realistic and achievable so that I can actually stick with it. So feel free to ask me in the future how things are going. Because I might need a kick in the ass every now and then.

In these efforts, I dragged myself out yesterday for grocery shopping since Sunday is when the farmers market happens in the neighborhood in which I shop. This market almost makes up for the fact that Berkeley Bowl is not my closest grocery store anymore.

Squash flowers!

There are a variety of things you can do with these. Stuff them with cheese. Saute them up as a quesadilla filling.

But for me they always mean Flor de Calabaza Soup. No, you do not have to use the amount of butter called for in the recipe. And I used lowfat half and half instead of the cream. One cannot do away with all dietary fat because then one ends up with fucked up hair and skin. Because this week I'm trying to stick to soup and salad for lunch and dinner.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I was out walking around the 'hood and taking photos when it dawned on me that I am supposed to announce the prize winners. Oops.

As soon as I got home -- and stirred the soup -- I pulled out my handy list. (As the comments came in, I recorded your names in order under the appropriate prize.) Then I went online to the handy dandy random number generator to determine the winner.

Without further ado, the lucky winners...

1. The Sardine Factory book - David
2. The baseball cap - Linda
3. The blank book - Chris
4. Octopus keychain - Bucko (Ken)
5. Penguin - Beth
6. Pt. Lobos stuff - Bucko (Ken)

All of y'all except for David need to contact me so that I know where to send your loot. Those of y'all who didn't win? Well, you never know when I will be giving stuff away again. And Maddie, I am still looking for a box to put Boris in. He is really excited about being able to go on a trip and is quite curious about this stuff he keeps hearing about called snow.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Long time, no see

Yep. That's right. A Saturday quiz. It's not that I haven't been doing quizzes. They're just all on Facebook.

Your Best Trait is Creativity

You may seem like you're a bit flaky or flighty, but you're really just deep in thought.

You are the artistic type, no doubt. However, you are also highly analytical and logical.

You are able to solve problems in unique and interesting ways. Your ideas are unpredictable, but they always end up making sense.

You are picky and sometimes downright critical. You expect the best of yourself, but others are not prepared for your exacting standards.

Giveaway results tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old friend

The inspiration for Sunday's cooking spree was this dish. Yes, I made this as well as the dishes from my two previous posts on Sunday. I figure that I should take advantage of those times during which I actually feel energetic.

See, what happened is that after resting quite a bit over the weekend -- thank you, pinched nerve in my shoulder that made only being in a prone position comfortable -- I awoke on Sunday only to realize that I didn't really have any food options available. I had some red lentils. And I had some lamb stew meat. So I decided to shop based off of these two ingredients. The beef dish was an afterthought. Because not only did I not have a lot of options available, but I also had a lot of empty freezer space begging to be filled.

So the lamb meat ended up in this Braised Lamb with Apricots and Herb Dumplings. And this dish I watched carefully as opposed to the beef dish. (I'm getting used to this new-fangled thing called a timer on the stove.) Because when I have made this in the past, there is a point at which it becomes dried out and starts sticking to the pan. But this time I set the timer every 30 minutes so that I could make sure that everything was well hydrated. And I guess they're right. Third time is the charm.

Oh, and on a final note. There are pearl onions in the dish. About a year ago I was talking to my "real mom" about a recipe that she and her granddaughter had made. She complained about how hard it was to peel the pearl onions. The trick is to blanch them first.

And don't forget. There's still time to enter the contest.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mixing it up

I have known for quite some time that my eating habits lately have been really crappy. I thought back to the time when I was actually happy with my body. I realized that I only ate meat at the most once a day. And that would be at lunch time. Over the last week, I have existed mainly on salads -- for both lunch and dinner. I love salad but it was getting boring. Thankfully the weather has become fall-like around here finally. So out came my new crockpot. I bought it right before I moved but it has been too warm to use it.

Vegetable and lentil soup. Tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, yellow bell pepper, carrots, red lentils and vegetable broth. Cooked for four hours. I'm calling it dinner for the week.

And don't forget. There's still time to enter the contest.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The danger of stepping away

Today's dish was a beef tangine with sweet potatoes. At the end, you are supposed to brown the potatoes and since it wasn't happening fast enough by baking, I turned on the broiler. And then stepped away for a moment. Too long. I'm telling myself that the black spots add character and flavor. Kind of like when you grill a hot link.

And for those of you wondering what it all is, here goes. The beef was browned with turmeric. Then I added diced onion, seeded diced serranos, cumin, paprika, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Then I added water, covered it and let it all simmer away in the oven for about an hour and a half. Next I added chopped cilantro and parsley and placed the blanched yam slices on top. (Yeah, I know I said in the previous paragraph that they were sweet potatoes but that's because that was the name of the recipe. I always use yams when sweet potatoes are called for because yams are less stringy.) Dot with butter. Then it was covered and went back into the oven for another ten minutes. Finally I uncovered it all so that the yams could brown. Ummmm. Yeah. So it went a little beyond brown. But it definitely was tasty. The yams help to cut some of the spiciness of the meat.

And I would like to thank my new kitchen tool -- a mandoline -- for making this all possible. There is no way possible that I would have been able to slice the potatoes by hand like this. I am also now wondering how I have managed to survive for so long without a mandoline.

And just a reminder. You still have time to enter for one of the lovely items, I'm giving away.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

You're a winner

In my travels over the last weekend, I picked up a number of items. I am now offering you a chance to win these items. It's really simple. Indicate in the comments which items you would like to have a chance of winning. At the close of the contest, I will select the winner(s) by random drawing.

1. The first item is a book about the Sardine Factory. It's mostly about the history of the restaurant but it also contains some recipes.

2. A baseball cap from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

3. A blank book from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

4. An octopus keychain also from the Aquarium.

5. And the final item from the Aquarium -- this lovely stuffed penguin. Sorry but I'm a sucker for penguins.Oh, and if you want the cat, I'm willing to throw him in as well.

6. A set of cards and a couple of bookmarks from Point Lobos State Reserve.

And finally if you like all of them, simply state "all of the above" in your comment and you will be entered into each of the drawings. Otherwise just indicate the numbers in which you are interested.

Entries for the contest will close in one week on October 18, 2009 at 12:00 noon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

They're not all saints

I remember in my third year of Spanish in high school, one day the teacher called out names of cities in California and asked us to translate the names to English. We thought the ones that started with "San" and "Santa" would be easy. Then he asked us for the translation of "Santa Cruz." Hmmmm. "Saint Cross" just didn't seem right. Then an idea formed in my head and I sheepishly asked, "Holy Cross?" Turns out I was right.

This is what I thought of as I drove along 1 from Marina to Santa Cruz this past Sunday. I hadn't been in Santa Cruz since early childhood and was going there to meet a friend of too many years for lunch. She had emailed me links to several restaurants and after reviewing the links, I settled on Hoffman's Bakery.

There were so many good things on the menu, that we decided that we would each order something different and then split the plates upon arrival.

While we waited for our food, we were given some cranberry scones. They were just right -- not the hard-as-brick things you so often find in bakeries and coffee shops around here.

I ordered the crab melt. It was sooo good. I believe the artichoke was mixed into the crab salad as I couldn't see signs of it anywhere else.

And my friend ordered the eggs Benedict with crab and avocado. I figure you can never go wrong with crab and avocado -- two of my absolute favorite foods -- and they didn't.

We were both full and pleased by the end of the meal. If I find myself in Santa Cruz in the future, Hoffman's would definitely be a stop.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

In the shadow of the nuclear power plant

Most Saturdays, Fluffycat heads over to her guy C's place. Now my dad had also suggested that I head up to Moss Landing during my extended weekend. As it turns out, this is only about a half hour from C's. And so a plan formed -- dinner on Saturday at the Whole Enchilada in Moss Landing!

Somehow during my trip, I had managed to not have a single serving of artichoke. For those unfamiliar with the area, they grow a lot of artichokes around here. So the Fried Artichokes seemed like the best way to start off our meal. Oh, and they had hibiscus margaritas. Yum!

Fluffycat decided to give their special chile relleno a try. It's stuffed with cheese, crabmeat and shrimp. And was huge. Near the end, Fluffycat was merely eating the seafood.

I went with the seafood enchiladas -- one crab, the other shrimp. Just like Fluffycat, I decided to concentrate on the seafood although the beans and rice were tasty as well.

Overall, a nice experience -- especially since I finally got to meet C who is quite nice. But he's still not allowed to give opinions on things on FB. ;-) Next time, I'm going to try the Crepes Sofia though.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Battling fear

You would have thought that a visit to Carmel River State Beach would have been enough for me on Saturday. It wasn't. I hopped back into the car and continued heading south to Point Lobos State Reserve. Unfortunately the park was closing early for a special event so I didn't get to spend as much time there as I would have wanted to.

I started off on a part of the North Shore trail. Along the way a little brown bunny hopped across the trail in front of me. He was too quick for me to photograph though.

And then I headed back to walk the Cypress Grove trail. By the time I took the above photo, my old childhood fear of heights had returned for the first time in many years. I thought I was over it since I had just walked a rooftop a few months ago -- commplete with climbing a 30-foot or so ladder up and down to said roof. But the trail narrowed and was very close to the edge. And I froze. So alone on the trail, I did everything in my power to calm the anxiety that was quickly rising. It took me a few minutes before I was able to move once more. I did complete the trail though. And upon reaching the car, I discovered that I was sweating perspiring glowing. See, I tend to walk at a pretty brisk pace. According to the trail map, the loop takes 30 minutes to complete. I finished it in less time.

Then it was back into the car to head over to the Bird Island trail. This trail leads to Gibson Beach. And according to legend, it is the view of this area that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write Treasure Island. Being an avid reader, I had to see this -- fear be damned. On the drive over, a deer suddenly appeared in front of me, jogging down the road a bit before heading off into the brush.

When I had been walking the Cypress Grove trail, I could hear the barking of sea lions but could never see them. Finally on returning to my car after the Bird Island trail, I was able spot a group sunning themselves.

Don't know if I'll ever do the Cypress Grove trail in it's entirety ever again but I'll definitely do the Bird Island trail. And I would kind of like to do the Sea Lion Point trail as well.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

By the sea

Before heading over to Carmel River State Beach on Saturday, I decided to try out my father's recommendation -- Casanova.

I was seated at one of their outdoor tables. And they were kind enough to turn on the heat lamp for me. Oh, and if I was still cold, they had lap blankets available. Because while Saturday's weather was nice, it was much more the typical weather of the Monterey Peninsula.

I had wanted to order both an appetizer and an entree but the server dissuaded me of this. Something about how I had to be absolutely starving to be able to eat both. And I wasn't.

Since the appetizer I had wanted was a part of their regular menu, I decided to go with one of their specials for that day -- a roasted pork chop served with mascarpone polenta and a pear jus. It was heaven on a plate.

After leaving the restaurant, I called my dad to tell him great his choice had been. His reaction? "They're open for lunch as well?" Yep, every day although on Sunday they expand the menu for brunch.

If I lived in the area, I know I'd find some reason to go to Casanova at least once a month. As it is, I am now trying to figure out the next time I can get down to the area.

Monday, October 5, 2009


When I was in high school, my father lived in Monterey. I have not really spent much time in Monterey since he moved to Sacramento my freshman year of college. My memory is a strange creature. Even though I may not have spent time in an area in years, upon arrival, a map unfolds in my mind and I remember favorite places of the past.

Ocean Avenue is the street that takes you through downtown Carmel-By-the-Sea. At the end of Ocean Avenue is the beach. As a teenager, I wanted to go to the beach and thought, "Well, I'll just go to Ocean Avenue." My father told me that on a nice day, this particular beach gets really crowded. He then showed me another beach -- Carmel River State Beach. It is near the Mission and to reach it, you drive for quite some time through a residential neighborhood. It is one of those kinds of places that you have to know is there as you would never find it otherwise.

And so on Saturday, I revisited the beach of my memory.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Beginning and end

Stepping into the Sardine Factory on Friday evening was like stepping back into time. The service reminded me of going to Ernie's and Victor's with my parents as a teenager.

I saw seated in the Conservatory.

I started my meal with their famous Abalone Bisque. My only regret it that I got a cup instead a bowl. Next time I will not make that mistake.

At the end of my meal, I ordered a latte. I thought it was cute that they included a little biscotti with it.

For dessert, I ordered the Italian Trio -- tiramisu, cannoli and spumoni inside of a white chocolate cup. Everything was perfect. The cannoli was light and airy. And I even liked the spumoni. I usually don't as to me it can be the ice cream equivalent of fruitcake. When I was about halfway through the desserts, the busser asked my opinion of the spumoni. He then said that he too does not normally like spumoni but for some reason likes that served at the Sardine Factory.

You may have noticed that I did not include my entree. This is because I made a bad choice. It was perfectly good but just not my cup of tea. A gentleman at a nearby table ordered my other choice and it looked absolutely wonderful. He ate every bite and told the server that it was great. Next time.

Oh, and in keeping with the theme of my aquarium visit, all of their seafood is sustainable. And yes, I will be returning. I will have more abalone bisque. And perhaps I will also try their Calamari Puffs.