Thursday, March 31, 2016
I remember when we stopped chemotherapy for my youngest son's cancer. He did not have maintenance treatment, so done was done, and in some ways it was absolutely torture. I remember one of my friends, someone who does not have children, saying to me when she heard he was off treatment, "Oh, my God, you must be a basket case. How can you stand the waiting?" It was such a contrast from everyone else, who kept treating it like a celebration. I am tolerating the wait better this time around, more preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Also taking real stock in things and exploring my options going forward. One foot in front of the other.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
All that being said, this is not a very good movie. It does have a couple of good performances by Elvis as a musician (although I am pretty sure you could watch them on YouTube without having to sit through the rest) but Elvis as an actor leaves a lot to be desired. Funnily, one of the movie reviews in the newspaper at the time noted how much he had improved as an actor and offered the opinion that he would get even better (which to my knowledge never happened). He plays an exceedingly unlikable character whose only redeeming characteristic is that he treats his female business partner no worse, and in some ways with more respect, than he treats everyone else. The alarming thing is that this is thought to be one of the best Elvis movies, so my recommendation would be to watch the best (which is King Creole) and if you like that, then this might be right up your alley.
Monday, March 28, 2016
- 1 1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- 1-1/4 cups sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs, sugar and butter. Press onto the bottom and 2-in. up the sides of a greased 9-in. springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed until combined. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon peel and vanilla just until blended. Pour into the crust. Return pan to baking sheet.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
- Spoon lemon curd over the cheesecake before serving; serve with berries of various kinds on the side.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Saturday, March 26, 2016
The story itself is not so unusual. Boy likes girl, but she of course likes another boy. And her best friend likes the boy who likes her. That is often the way it goes, even after adolescence.
In this version of the story, which is set in a Japanese city, the film greets us with a montage of urban life after the sun has faded and the lights have just flickered on providing the glow that can make night life possible. It’s that period when responsibilities have mostly ended with the promise of things possible wafting through the summer air. Ironically, the Olivia Newton-John version of the song “Country Roads” is used as a backdrop for the city scape and pervades the movie.
Eventually we follow a girl leaving a market and accompany her home to a small family apartment. Shizuku is enjoying her summer break by burying herself in books. But a mystery arises for the middle school student when a name on the checkout card of a book she’s reading seems vaguely familiar. Sure enough, the same name appears on all the books she’s checked out from the library: Seiji Amasawa. She goes on to become enamored with a boy with the same last name (and the same family), who is a talented boy. They have to make choices that will seem all too familiar, but are well executed.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
The stories are all fantastical yet straightforward. The first, "The Werewolf," involves that staple of fantasy, the werewolf, and tells the story of a prince who marries the older of two sisters, under the mistaken impression that she was the one who saved his life. This treacherous person tricks him and then, traps him, hides the magic chain he needs to become human again. But the younger sister … ah, but you will see.
"Ti Jean and Belle-Sans-Connaitre" is a Caribbean tale (set there on a whim by the old man), which tells of a boy who ventures into a cave and unknowingly tumbles down into the land of the dead (who walk on their hands). "Tam-Tam Boy," from Africa, is about a young drummer whose talent is not respected until he saves his village.
"The Boy Who Never Lied," set in Tibet, is about two kings who have a competition to see which one can persuade a boy to lie. "The Doe-Girl and the Architect's Son," set in Europe, is a reversal of "The Werewolf," in which a girl becomes a doe and a young man who loves her helps her become human again. "The Chosen One of the Golden City," set in an Aztec kingdom in ancient Mexico, involves a girl chosen for human sacrifice, and a boy who tries to save her. Recommended, especially for a family movie night.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
- 4 poblano chiles
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium white onion, thickly sliced
- 1/4 head garlic, cloves separated and skins removed
- salt and black pepper
- 2 sprigs epazote
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 ounce requesón or ricotta
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh crema
- 2 corn tortillas
- canola oil
Place the poblanos over an open flame, turning often, until blackened on all sides. Transfer to a plastic bag and let steam for 15 minutes. Then peel the skin off, remove the stems and seeds, and cut into thin strips.
Add the butter to a large pot set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are transparent. Then add the garlic and cook for 5 more minutes, being careful not to brown the garlic. Toss in the sliced poblanos and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often.
Add a pinch of salt and pepper, the epazote, and the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, and then reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
Puree the mixture in a blender. Return to the pot and pour in the milk. Heat gently. Then remove a 1/2 cup and mix it with the requesón in a small bowl. Add this back to the soup. Taste for salt.
Slice the tortillas into 1/2 inch thick strips. Pour a little canola oil into a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add a few of the tortilla strips and cook for a few seconds on each side until crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining strips.
Serve the soup with few few corn strips, some fresh corn kernals and some crema drizzled on top, or nothing if you so desire.
Monday, March 21, 2016
In April 1833, Emperor Nicholas I commissioned Auguste Montferrand to restore the Great Suite of rooms in the Winter Palace. Montferrand, who had won the competition to build St Isaac's Cathedral, designed two rooms, the Fieldmarshals' Room and the Memorial Room of Peter I. The Emperor required that work be carried out in the shortest possible time and Montferrand made extensive use of wooden constructions. One of the principal features of the Fieldmarshalls' Room was a group of full-length portraits of Russian generals who had been awarded the rank of fieldmarshall. This was an austere room with four-column porticoes by the two main doors which stood opposite one another. White imitation marble, polychrome parquet, an austere ceiling-painting and plaster military attributes formed its decoration. Adjacent to this room was the Memorial Room of Peter I, its decoration sumptuous and solemn: crimson velvet covered the walls, adorned with a thousand gilt bronze double-headed eagles, later replaced by those embroidered with silver thread. Surmounting the side walls are two paintings celebrating Peter the Great's victories over Charles XII of Sweden: The Battle at Poltava and The Battle at Lesnaya. The allegorical painting Peter I with Minerva by Jacopo Amigoni glorified Peter the Great as the creator of a magnificent empire. The gilt silver throne, made in 1731 in London by Nicholas Clausen, and the silver candelabra and sconces were installed here after the fire of 1837.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
The movie is confusing, I thought, although I have to admit that I didn't find it totally engulfing as a movie and may have lapsed into inattention more than once, which is very dangerous when the plot requires that you follow it meticulously. Harry gets himself into trouble immediately by letting a terrorist go under dire circumstances, and then disappears underground to go hunt down the terrorist and thwart some of his attempts to wreck havoc on London. Harry enlists others to help him (including Malcolm, from the TV series) and while people die, the terrorist is contained (through some less than believable measures), those who are responsible are made to pay, and the day is saved (more or less).
Saturday, March 19, 2016
I have chosen just two of the many pictures that I took of the interiors in the Hermitage. It is the most impressive museum I have ever been in for many reasons, but one of them is the building itself. It is just so stunning, and so different from room to room. My trip to Russia was the first time that I really appreciated having a guide in a museum, and I think the Hermitage is a museum that one should not attempt without a guide. And I am a woman who likes to travel on her own by and large.
The room that looks like a Wedgwood vase is in the style that Catherine the Great favored, and the painted hallway is unusual as well, but most of the 400 rooms are baroque. Over the top baroque, and no two seem even remotely similar. The palace has been added on to and burned to the ground in places over the years. Each of it's inhabitants has wanted to leave their mark on it, although once again, the Empress Elizabeth was probably the most successful. I think her father, Peter the Great, must have been very proud of her. She really took his European dream and ran with it in a big architectural way. The place is truly magnificent and it should be on everyone's bucket list. St. Petersburg is a 40 euro train ride from Helsinki (well, that and the cost of the Russian visa will get you there) and this is a very special place.
Friday, March 18, 2016
This is the first birthday of his that has passed since I have cancer myself. I have finished the acute phase of treatment and moved into a maintenance phase (which in my case means less frequent chemotherapy at a lower dose and with less side effects, but continued baldness). I do not know what the future holds, but I have certainly thought about my father-in-laws approach and what I might do if I find myself in his shoes. We both share a love of travel, and I am very grateful that I did not put that off. That being said, there are lots of places that I have yet to see, and the idea of being as active and adventurous as you can be up to the very end resonates with me. My father-in-law had some mobility limitations, so he traveled by boat to decrease the wear and tear of going from city to city. He enjoyed the time he had and he encouraged his family to do the same. He even bankrolled a travel adventure or two, and I am very grateful to him for many things. My husband, first and foremost, of course, and his other three children, but many of the things that he valued I have come to value too. I am not a quick learner, but he eventually taught me things and I miss him very much.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
This book, which explores what Brooks defines as the two pillars of character, the first being someone who strives to achieve material wealth and notoriety and the other being someone who has moral fiber. He states that he has been personally more focused on the former, but thinks that this has been an error, and spends much of the book focusing on the later.
Brooks uses the lives of several well known people to illustrate his points. He suggests that handy tools in the forging of character include suffering, love, humility, vocation and obedience. “Character is a set of dispositions, desires and habits that are slowly engraved during the struggle against your own weakness,” he writes. His world is one in which he assumes acclaim and material wealth is everyone’s moral dilemma. Any reference to how economics – the lack of money or status – shapes character is myopically absent. I thought this was thought provoking but a bit smug and not his best work.
Monday, March 14, 2016
In the manner of the Thousand and One Nights, the movie tells the story of two friends, as close and as competative as brothers: Azur and Asmar. One is the son of a nobleman, the other the son of the north African nurse who brings them up, and enraptures them with tales of a Djinn fairy awaiting the love of a prince to release her from an enchantment. Harshly separated in their teens, the rich young man travels to the Orient where he finds his friend again, and they travel onward on a mission to find this mythical Djinn princess. The ending is especially compelling in this season where there has been a very ugly eruption of prejudice and racism in America. The message is one of hope. the movie has real charm: an old-fashioned looking, but with a heartfelt belief that east and west can and should meet and mix.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
So when I developed nausea and vomiting in the absence of chemotherapy last week I was hesitant to ignore it. After all, the last time that had happened I landed in the ICU within four hours of it all starting and spent the following day going from one procedure to another to try to rectify the problem. I did end up getting hospitalized briefly, largely based on my history of bad luck, but also because of some abnormalities on tests, but it was refreshing to not have the worst happen. My symptoms all improved quickly and within 24 hours I was on the street again, feeling a bit worse for wear, but happy not to have my gut shut down for once. I nibbled cautiously on food for the next couple of days, but did manage to have the sense that I might not always have the worst outcome possible each and every time, that I might actually be getting stronger. I am not going hog wild on that sensation, but it did feel good. the hospitalization also gave me the opportunity to apologize to all the people that had taken care of me on my previous hospitalization, which was long and miserable, feelings I was not hesitant to share with my health care team. Many times did I say sorry over the short day I was there.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
The art of the ancient Greeks and Romans is called classical art. The Romans took their style and techniques directly from the Greeks, and while it was on one level copying, the Romans did get around quite a bit, and brought the Greek style to a much broader audience. Classical art owes its lasting influence to its simplicity and sheer beauty. The human form is naturally and easily represented, a joy to look at.
Friday, March 11, 2016
Eleanor's Secret is the story of a little boy, Nathan, who can't read. Mercilessly teased by his sister and feeling the pressure from his well-meaning parents, Nat is hoping to get away from school-related stress, at least, on a trip to his recently deceased Aunt Eleanor's house at the seaside. Imagine his dismay, then, when he finds that the key she has left him unlocks a room full of books! It feels like an insult, until he discovers that this is a library with a magical secret. The characters literally come to life, but there is a catch. their time is running out and Nat has to save them. The film is the adventure of that happening, plus the story of the softening of his sister and the realization of his parents that the books are worth more to them to keep than they are to sell. It is a good, but not great, tale.
Thursday, March 10, 2016
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder (trim fat) cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
2 onions sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
3 strips bacon, cut into 1/8th inch strips
4 c. stock
1/4 c. Hungarian sweet paprika
1 Tbs. Hungarian hot paprika
2 lb. sauerkraut
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
salt to taste
1. Saute pork in vegetable oil as needed until browned on all sides. Remove from pan, and saute onions, garlic and bacon for about 5 minutes. Add more oil if needed.
2. Add pork back into pan, along with stock, paprikas, and bay leaves. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.
3. Stir in sauerkraut and vinegar and cook another 20 minutes. Salt to taste and remove bay leaves. Serve with rice and sour cream.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
My oncologist likened the road ahead to a triathlon, which I know something about vicariously because my brother and his wife are avid amateur competitors. I have just finished the open water swim phase, and am about to begin the biking portion. The transition between these two phases is kind of fascinating to watch, because there is a shedding of the swimming paraphernalia and a gearing up to get on the bike, which entails shoes and a helmet, and most importantly, a bike. The whole process looks a little clunky, and that accurately reflects my transition as well. I still have a few reminders of my acute treatment left to cope with, making it hard to feel particularly celebratory that that phase is behind me.
So I am embarking on a year of maintenance treatment, the nature of which may change over time, but entails more chemotherapy, just less intense, but probably keeping me bald the entire time. Oh well. It is yet another indication that what I have is indeed a bad disease! None-the-less, with all the caveats aside, it is good to be moving forward.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Her right hand man, Cameron, gets the idea that they should have interns who are senior citizens, and Ben Whittaker (very affably played by Robert De Niro) gets a position. He is a retired business executive who has lost his wife, traveled the world and is now ready to have something purposeful to do. He is completely taken with what Jules has created and while her investors try to get her to dilute her brand by hiring a CEO, he encourages her to stay true to her vision, and you can see that he would be the perfect business adviser to her. She trusts him and he wouldn't screw her. It is an entirely predictable movie that is none the less charming and enjoyable to watch and I recommend it for a family movie night. Sex is hinted but nothing more risque.
Monday, March 7, 2016
My youngest son took a class that was very misleadingly entitled Introduction to Ancient Philosophy. I read everything to him that we cannot find on audiotape, and I try to do all the reading for the class so that if he struggles with it, I can talk with him about it. I lack the advantage of being in class and hearing what the teacher thinks of the reading, which is a big handicap, but if I read it, I can at least participate in the discussion. And it turned out that I was indeed right. Philosophy is not for me. Even in the beginning, when we were reading the Sophists, who Socrates made mincemeat of, I really did not get it. The teacher posted her notes for students to read and I found them to be just as dense and incomprehensible as the reading. I thought that by the time we got to Aristotle my luck would improve because he was a scientist, but no such luck. I understood an iota more than before. It was a relief when the semester ended and I did not have to struggle with any more ancient philosophers. I was hospitalized on a number of occasions throughout the semester and nurses would come in and see me reading Plato and think that I was very intellectual. They did not know that I was reading the same book over and over, trying to gain more meaning with repeated reading, to no avail. I remain as in the dark about the ancient Greek philosophers as I was before the class started.
Sunday, March 6, 2016
Everyday that we were in St. Petersburg we were on this street, and this building, which is an old and venerated food emporium.
Saturday, March 5, 2016
The reason I was so negative about this movie is that I hated Gravity and did not enjoy Interstellar, the two space movies that have garnered Oscar attention over the past couple of years. If you fall into that category too, give this one a try. Matt Damon is an astronaut who gets accidentally left on Mars by his peers (okay, that sounds bad, but they were completely justified in thinking he was dead, it was a galactic storm, and they had to high tail it out of there). He is wounded, and has to perform serious first aid on himself (shades of the scientist in Antarctica who had to diagnose and treat her breast cancer while waiting for a ride home). He knows that his chances of survival are not ideal, but he works on establishing communication with NASA, growing food for himself, and figuring out a possible route off the planet. He is charming and upbeat and funny, and the Mars landscape is fascinatingly beautifully rendered. My favorite space movie since Apollo 13.
Friday, March 4, 2016
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino
1 oz vodka
1 oz brandy
1 oz cherry juice
Shake with plenty of ice, strain into coupe, garnish with an excellently preserved cherry
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Cam Stuart (ably portrayed by Mark Ruffalo) is a fairly classic bipolar sufferer who has two daughters and a wife who is less and less sure of what their relationship is, but remains committed to them as her family. Cam is unable to hold a job, has significant OCD hoarding qualities and a mouth that will not quit. He very accurately portrays the irritability that characterizes bipolar disorder, and one of his daughters demonstrates that the apple does not fall far from the tree. His youngest daughter has that same fly-off-the-handle anger that he does and you have to wonder what her future holds. The mother (Zoe Saldana) decides to go back to school to get her MBA so that she can get the family out of poverty, but it entails leaving her children in Cam's care. Over time, this really works out, and in the end, she decides that they are in good hands with him. Well acted and real.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1-2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
- ½ pound linguine
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Bring the water to the boil for the pasta. Add salt to taste.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter in a heavy skillet or casserole and add the garlic.
- Drop the linguine into the boiling water. If fresh pasta is used, cook about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or to the desired degree of doneness. If dried pasta is used, cook about 7 to 9 minutes or to the desired degree of doneness. Drain the pasta.
- Add the cream to the butter and lemon rind mixture. Add the pasta, lemon zest, and lemon juice and bring to the simmer. Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side, if so desired.