Sunday, August 31, 2008

Spam! It's Pink and it's Oval!

This morning I had the pleasure for, well, for probably the first time in my life of walking to church. And it was only ten minute walk! Of course, if my church really was only ten minute walk from my house I'd walk there every week, but this was a different occasion and a different church. My friend Leena is working as a youth and family minister at a Presbyterian Church in my neighborhood, so invited me there for Luau Sunday.

Now, I'm not too family with other denominations, but in the liturgical year of the Lutheran Church, where I have been a lifelong member, we don't have anything called a "Luau Sunday". Now I feel left out! The service was immediately followed by a luau luncheon, complete with mac salad and Spam.

"Oh, they're out of Spam," a woman noted a bit sadly when we got to the end of the buffet table.

I knew Spam is a staple of the modern Hawaiian diet, but I had no idea it was so popular in north Seattle. Sure enough, two gleaming white plates with a few bits of crushed canned pineapple where all that was to be seen where only a short time ago glistening slices of mystery meat product had lain in wait. But I saw one woman ahead of us who had two - not one, but two - slices of Spam on her plate, so it would seem that some people may not have been taking the Spam needs of the entire congregation into account.

But even without the Spam it was a nice time. I may have to walk to church more often.

(You may be asking why the picture of the adorable puppy. She may not have anything to do with this story, but she is definitely a luau dog and you know she would eat a whole plate of Spam in a heartbeat.)

Uphill Battle

I feel like I have just finished doing penance. I just carried 30 pounds of groceries more than half a mile. Uphill! In the driving snow! OK, OK, I admit I'm starting to exaggerate, but only that part about the snow. I really did carry 30 pounds of groceries; I know this to be true because I actually weighed the bags one by one on the bathroom scale when I got home. And I really did walk more than half a mile and part of it was definitely uphill - and a pretty steep hill at that.

It is times like these that I look back on when I'm at work and hear one of our tour members complain over the phone about having to "possibly" carry their luggage up five flights of stairs. Oh, honey, I have so been there and done that, and my bags don't even have wheels! But of course I don't say that. Although sometimes I wish I could say, "Yes, and won't you feel so proud of yourself after all that?" Because I have to admit, I feel pretty proud about carrying 30 pounds of groceries!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

No Use Crying Over Burnt Beans

I burnt the beans today. The black beans, to be specific, that I was cooking for the delicious tostadas we were to have for dinner. Now, I don't normally burn food I'm cooking, so this was a valuable lesson in Not Taking Untimed Naps While Food Simmers on the Stove. After what turned into a two hour nap with the dog on the basement sofa, I blearily decided I should probably get up and check on the beans. I am glad, at least, that the smell of burnt beans had not yet grown so strong as to waft its way downstairs and be the cause of my awakening. In fact, I even thought the beans might be salvageable if I could just pick the little crispy charcoal bits out from the nice, plump, purplish specimens. After a few minutes, however, I realized that this was a hopeless task, and resigned myself to the fact that I would be using canned beans tonight.

Now all's well that ends well - the tostadas were still delicious, thanks in part to fantastic guacamole and home-made tortillas (which I did not burn, thank you!), and Michael declared it to be the tastiest meal he'd had in awhile. I don't know, is that really a compliment? Or does that say that my cooking hasn't been so tasty of late, hmm? Maybe I need to look into this "compliment" further.

By the way, if you would like the recipe I use to make what we consider to be the perfect guacamole, you can find it online at if you do a recipe search. If you are a fan of chunky guac (as we fondly call it) this one's for you! The tostadas are from the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook, so I won't include the recipe here, but will say that it includes sauteed onion, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and corriander, and also freshly squeezed orange juice and chopped tomatoes mixed in with the beans. Mmmm...

Blonds Know Best

While waiting at the bus stop in front of the Lake City Fred Meyer last night, a woman told me the following blond joke:

A blond walks into a library.

Blond: I'd like a double stack with cheese, on a sesame bun...

Librarian: I'm sorry, but this is a library -

Blond (whispers): I'd like a double stack with cheese...

Heh. I actually laughed, just a little.

Funnily enough I had the same bus driver both heading to the U District and heading home on the last bus of the night. When I got off coming home he smiled and asked, "Did you enjoy your book?" "It's good," I responded, hopping off. Strangers don't usually say much to each other nowadays, but sometimes, it's rather nice when they do.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Rutabaga Starts Here

So, after mulling the idea over for, oh, maybe a year or two, probably more, I have decided to start my own blog. I'm not yet sure of the real purpose of this blog, or who might read it, but I suspect the two main reasons in the back of my mind are: 1. To write more - or to write at all, really, since I can't remember the last time I really sat down and wrote anything more complex than a shopping list 2. To track some of my comings and goings - who knows, maybe if I want something to write about, I'll have to get out more often!

Now seemed as good a time as any to start. I'm starting a three day holiday weekend with very little planned other than volunteering for a couple of hours at the young adult homeless shelter tonight and (hopefully) getting some things sorted out and organized around the house. Might as well take advantage of all this time! Especially since Michael works all weekend.

In case you are wondering about the title of my blog, some who know may recognize Rutabaga as an old nickname given to me by a dear friend when we were both in high school. She also, not coincidentally, later gave me a tiny copy of Carl Sandberg's Rootabaga Stories as a gift (a charming children's book - you should read it if you get the chance). I never even considered what to name my blog until tonight, but suddenly the name "Rutabaga Stories" popped into mind just as soon as I was asked to title this blog. Must be meant to be, huh?

P.S. About the elephant on this page: I love to travel and I love elephants. I haven't seen any live elephants on recent travels, but I did spot this cute bronze one outside Vienna's Natural History Museum this past May. I figure he's a sign of good things to come.