Wednesday, November 11, 2015

If This Were Your Last Day on Earth . . . .

I've been watching "Grey's Anatomy" on Netflix for the last week, or so.  I'd never seen it when I was settled in my house in Roseville.  After having worked so many years in the OR, I mistakenly believed that a TV show just couldn't do the experience justice.  So, currently I'm working on Season 2, Episode 18.
    The medical drama series focuses on a group of doctors at a hospital in Seattle, including several who began their careers at the facility as interns. One of the doctors and the show's namesake, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), is the daughter of a famous surgeon. She struggles to maintain relationships with her colleagues, particularly the hospital's one-time chief of surgery, Richard Webber, due to a pre-existing relationship between them -- Webber and Meredith's mother had a personal relationship when Meredith was young.
I've never been a seasoned  / addicted TV watcher, except for Food Network in the recent 10 years.  Way back in the 60s and 70s it was Julia Child, from "mastering the Art of French Cooking."  Then beginning in the 90s it's been Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

Anyway, during my travels around the US and my forays into  foreign countries in the last few years, I've begun watching lots of different types of movies and TV series on iTunes, Amazon Prime, and Netflix, all on my computer.  I love them all.  It's interesting here in Guatemala because if I go on the Internet to the Netflix website, I get some American, Canadian, British, and Australian programs; but, I also get lots of movies, etc. from Spain and Latin America.  Mostly they're in Spanish, and, if I'm lucky, there'll be English subtitles - I still have lots of problems catching the gist of movie conversations if I don't have a little help from subtitles!  Then, I can open an application, called Hotspot Shield, that somehow 'tricks' the service providing carriers into thinking that I'm accessing Netflix from the USA; and, presto, I get all the Netflix programs that are currently being offered to US subscribers but not to Latin American subscribers!  Pretty nifty, I'd say.

So, back to "Grey's Anatomy." First of all, the name of the TV show is really catchy to those among us who have labored away in the reference book, "Gray's Anatomy," the epitome of anatomy textbooks.  I'd be willing to bet there aren't more than three doctors in the US who do NOT own a copy of "Gray's Anatomy."  Even after ridding myself of 99% of my personal library in the last several weeks, I still have a copy, as it never goes out of style - human anatomy doesn't change.  Maybe in the next thousand years, or so, there'll be some modification to human anatomy, but not now!

In the episode of "Grey's Anatomy" I watched earlier today, Season 2, episode 17,  Meredith is tasked with maintaining her cool in the OR with a patient who has an unexploded bomb in his chest.  She's actually 'holding' her hand on the bomb until it can be safely removed and handed to the bomb squad who's standing opposite her with the operating table and patient between them.  I won't spoil it if you haven't yet seen it - go to Netflix and take a look at the whole series if you're interested.  But, the episode concludes with Meredith asking the question:  IF THIS WERE YOUR LAST DAY ON EARTH,  HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO SPEND IT AND WITH WHOM?

I'm meditating on my answer right now.  What's yours?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Notes From Travel Day, Sacramento to Guatemala City

American Airlines SMF (Sacramento) to LAX ( Los Angeles) to Dallas / Fort Worth to GUA (Guatemala City). Eldin, my friend and driver, will be outside La Aurora Airport waiting to take me to Antigua. If all goes well I should be home at about 10:30 tonight. I paid to take extra luggage to Guatemala - no extra clothes - I actually left several pieces of clothing in my little storage unit  in California so I'll have some for next time I visit. No, three bags are filled with kitchen supplies and lots of craft materials for my Amigos del Arte group that meets every Wednesday morning. 

After this VERY busy five weeks I'm so looking forward to some relaxation time and time to digest all the changes taking place in my life with this elimination of so much STUFF.  Even though I'm not terrifically attached to houses, I have enjoyed my little 1250 square foot abode in Roseville. I took one last walk through this morning to make sure everything was out, and to say one last "goodbye" before flying off to continue my Guatemala adventure. 

I'll miss all my kids and grandkids; their lives all change almost from  minute to minute. It's still strange to say that my youngest grandkids, the twins and triplets, are all going to be 16-years old soon!  Wow!  All five of them are studying Spanish in high school so I'd love to have them visit me in Antigua. 

I say a little prayer for my dear Quinn, who is still suffering the effects of her cancelled wedding. She's strong and resilient and will, I'm sure, find happiness once again and go on bravely to live a successful life in whatever and with whom ever she chooses. 

Addison (23) and Holland (21) are sharing an apartment in downtown Sacramento, Addison teaching sixth grade and Holland pursuing her studies at Sac State University. Those two are going places and I love them mucho. 

Already landing in Los Angeles so I'll close for now. 

Part II:
On American Airlines flight from LAX to Dallas Fort Worth. Smooth flight.

Part III:
Landed in Dallas Fort Worth after a nice flight.  Took the sky shuttle to the international terminal for my flight from Texas to Guatemala City.  When I arrived at the gate I found that the flight departure was delayed - we finally took off almost two hours later than planned.   I had a chance to email Eldín, my Guatemalan friend and driver, to tell him not to go to Aurora Airport until a little later.  We finally got in almost two hours late.  Immigration and Customs were a breeze.  I'd smuggled 3 large rutabagas into the country for my cousin, Linda, to make her famous rutabaga pudding for Thanksgiving and was a little concerned that they may open my bags - but no such worry occurred.

And, speaking of recipes . . . 

I have a recipe request from Quinn:

Mimi's Chicken Wing Hors D'oeuvres

*1 pound chicken wings (about 14 wings), wing tips removed (save for making chicken broth). Then, separate into wingets by slicing through the connecting joint. So, for 14 chicken wings, you'll now have 28 wingets 

*½ cup regular Kikkoman soy sauce

*Garlic powder (not garlic salt) -I don't measure it - I guess it would be about 1 teaspoon in total if I did measure


*Turn oven on to Broil. Set an oven rack about four inches below the broiler heating flame or element. 

*Line an aluminum / metal baking pan (with at least one-inch sides) with heavy-duty aluminum foil, using enough foil to completely cover the bottom and all sides of the pan. Tuck the foil in over the lip of the pan on all sides. This prevents burned soy, sugar, garlic powder and chicken fat and juices from making the pan difficult to clean. 

*Arrange the wingets in the pan, trying not to overlap pieces

*Sprinkle the wingets with a little soy sauce, a generous sprinkle of garlic powder, and about a teaspoon of sugar. 

*Place the pan under the broiler and broil  the first side of the wingets for about 5 - 8 minutes, checking often to avoid burning the skin.

*Using tongs, turn wingets over, season the uncooked side with soy, garlic powder, and sugar, and broil second side for approximately the same amount of time. 

*Using tongs, turn wingets to expose first side again. At this time you can add more of the three sauce ingredients, or, if there's sufficient sauce collected in the pan you can collect it to spoon over wingets and broil for a couple of minutes, until the wingets are nicely browned on this side. Turn again and broil the second side until browned and the sauce in the pan has thickened.

Arrange wingets on a serving platter, lined with large lettuce leaves if you'd like, and spoon the syrupy sauce over them. Serve wingets hot or at room temperature to be eaten by hand with an available cocktail napkin to keep fingers clean. 

Enjoy 28 cocktail servings; but, beware, people usually eat four or five each!!!

So, it's 12:57am; I'm sitting up in bed with Lacy and Eleanor by my side.  Aaahh, it's good to be home.  I plan to do a lot of relaxing for the next few days.  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Getting Out of Dodge!

I'm finishing up a myriad of minute issues, readying myself for departure tomorrow morning from Sacramento to Guatemala City.  I'll be back in Antigua tomorrow night, where Lacy and Eleanor are waiting for my return.  This has been a most productive five weeks in California.

I have:
  • Put my Roseville house on the market to be sold - and it's supposed to be a good sellers' market
  • Sold my Smart Car to my son's family- Jeff will use it as a commute car
  • Put both the Toyota Dolphin and the Fleetwood Flair on the market to be sold by my nephew and grand nephew - I'm going to miss them both, but now is not the time to have them sitting
  • Had two estate / garage sales - Profits of over $4000!!! Lots of help from Sharan
  • Sold multiple belongings on Craigslist
    • furniture
    • refrigerator
    • freezer
    • washer and dryer
    • Oriental carpet
    • enough yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, knitting books, and equipment and supplies to open a yarn shop!
    • hundreds of cook- and other books
    • dinnerware
    • silverware
    • cooking implements and supplies
    • pots, pans, bake ware
    • microwave
    • All Clad slow cooker
    • counter top oven
    • dishes - China and everyday
    • more
    • more
    • more
I invited a relatively new Canadian friend, Sharan, who lives in Guatemala, to come up to California to help me with, upon arrival October 1st, what seemed like an overwhelming and impossible job to complete in the two weeks Sharan was to be here.  Well, folks, she's a human dynamo!  I can't say how much I appreciated her help and unrelenting encouragement.  I could not have done it without her.  And, my daughter-in-law, Alice, continues to be so gracious with her time and effort.  She'll arrive later this afternoon and will drive me to the airport early tomorrow morning.  Kari, David, Jeff, Alice, and even world-traveling son, Spencer, have all been so supportive.  Thank you all!

I haven't been able to spend the time I would have liked visiting with many relatives and friends.  I'm especially sad that I didn't see my brother, Jim; but, it just wasn't in the cards that I could drive down to Santa Cruz to see him; and, he wasn't able to come up here.  It's one long drive through the San Francisco Bay Area and then also through the San Jose area - both difficult to navigate through commute traffic spots.  Jim and I try to stay in touch through email; so we'll continue that when I return to Antigua.

I've just emailed my Orthopedic Surgeon here in Sacramento to start arranging my second total knee surgery, hopefully for January 2016.  This knee is not as severely damaged by arthritis as my right knee was last year; but, it is ready for the replacement and I'm so looking forward to being pain every day.  Fortunately, this knee only hurts severely when I walk!  But, I like to walk a lot, which has been impossible for almost a year.
Kari and David's home in El Dorado Hills
L to R:  Samantha and Malia, son Jeff's twins - almost 16
I'm going to be very busy as soon as I get to Antigua.  I've been asked to write a syllabus for an English teaching program, then develop a teaching plan, and 'hire' volunteer teachers for a foundation I volunteer for CasaSito, Antigua, Guatemala.  I also have four English students, each of whom I tutor four hours each week .  One is 18, two are 19, and one is 20 .  They're all excited to learn and very conscientious about homework, etc.  I can't wait to see them all again.  I've also collected all kinds of arts and crafts supplies to share with a group I belong to called Los Amigos del Arte; we get together for about 4-5 hours each week and do crafts projects that we then sell to raise money for CasaSito.

Check out the website for CasaSito - a scholarship program for underprivileged Guatemalan kids from primary school through university - ages about 8 - 25.  It's a wonderful organization and I'm happy to be a part of it.

I'll also be involved with my Guatemalan family:  Carlos (my current Spanish teacher), his wife Nancy, daughter Shirley (my Guatemalan granddaughter), and daughter Heisell and her husband and baby.  I have some gifts for them that I know they'll appreciate; it's rewarding to be able to help them out; they are wonderful people, as are most of the Guatemalans I know.
Heisell and Fernando on wedding day
Spring 2015

L to R:  Fernando, Nancy, Heisell, Carlos, Shirley
Wedding Day Spring 2015

Of course it will be wonderful to see Cousin Linda - remember, we met in Antigua almost four years ago and found out we're actually related - her grandfather and my grandmother were cousins in Plattsburgh, New York.  Small world - Linda was born in Rhode Island and has lived most of her life in Chicago.  I'm essentially a west coast girl - and we met in Antigua!!!
Cousin Linda Champagne with baby
Danna Sofia Fernanda Lopez 1 week old
Going to miss Quinn, with whom I shared
a great grandmother / granddaughter lunch
last Saturday.  She's doing so well after her
sad cancellation of her wedding last month.
I so love this young lady!

Rear: old photo of Addison, Quinn, Avery
Front:  Holland, Spencer, Tate
They're all so grown up.
M-P's Antigua casita - my own slice of paradise.