Wednesday, February 28, 2007

still life with breakfast

morningtea.JPG, originally uploaded by ellapoodle.

I usually drink coffee in the mornings, but the past couple of days, I've switched over to tea. This happens every 6 months or so, lasts for a few weeks, and then devolves to coffee again. The teapot is a gift from my old neighbor, Tina, in Arlington. It began its life in the toney Washington DC restaurant, Obelisk, but when they switched to white teapots, she passed it on to me. I have a fair number of teapots; one from my grandmother's house, a cheery orange Fiestaware one, and a beautifully hand-painted one from Delft - an expensive gift to myself when P and I went to Holland a few Christmases ago. But the yellow teapot warms my heart. I don't use it without remembering sitting in Tina's kitchen, with her cat, dog and baby daughter all milling around the floor together.

The tea itself is Lob Nor, a combination of black and green teas, scented with bergamot, like an Earl Grey. It is the perfect morning cuppa, and compliments my current craze of wheat toast with raspberry jam. I bought the tea sheerly because of its name, which was subtitled "The Phantom Lake". How can you resist that name?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

whingeing mostly

Ugh. I am getting sick. Raging sore throat, and a stomachy thing. I ignored it upon waking this morning, and went to dog training with Crick, who did splendidly. I think I had a breakthrough this morning, a way to handle his anxiety-prey drive-hyperfocus issue; on our walk to class (I go to Mililani early and walk him a mile or so before class to get him in a working zone) I gave him a toy to distract himself, a squishy green ball. He carried it for a mile, mouthing it gently. Voila! No barking, no crying and jumping through the entire walk and through the class. For this, I have Cesar Millan to thank. Not because Cesar has used this trick, to my knowledge, but because I've been watching him try novel ways of moving dogs through their fears and obsessions, and I think it's increasing my repetoire a little.

After class, I tried the Jamba Juice (Coldbuster with a protein boost) cure, to no avail. I came back home and slept. Up to the ringing of my cel phone; a delicious conversation with Hawkheart, and various homemade concoctions involving ginger, lemons, honey and cayenne. She listened to my lamenting, prescribed the use of a neti pot to avoid such infections altogether, and we caught up on each others' lives. Now it's dark, rainy, Saturday has trickled away in the dusk, and I'm still ill, and filled with the crazy need to clean my house, because, well, who wants to be home in all this filth? I think I'll settle for the kitchen and the bathroom.

I am such a baby, particularly when there's no other human around to ply me with chicken soup and gingerale. I wish the Oscars were on tonight...but I do have some tivo'd episodes of "House", "Lost" and "Survivor" that I haven't watched, so I may live. There's always that Firefly complete season dvd for the real self-medication.

Non-sequitur; it is raining REALLY hard right now. Yikes. Part of the dirt in the house is mud, tracked in by my canine friends.

In honor of Project Spectrum (too lazy to link, here) I am trying to see this month's featured colors, blue, gray in a new way. It ocurred to me that those mudtrackers are perfect Project Spectrum dogs. Ella is a color known as "silver", born black and graying at a very early age. She is the darkest of her siblings, others are a very pale, platinum gray. Cricket, who looks quite black, is actually "blue", a brownish black that will gray out over time. His undercoat is a dusty gray, and his face and paws are turning brown.

Going to wash dishes now. G'night everyone.

Friday, February 23, 2007

aloha friday

Our lava rock wall is all that keeps the mountain out of the living room, or so it sometimes seems, these windy days.

Lest I forget it's still winter, Nuuanu reminds me with a daily dose of hard gray rain, each morning as I leave for work, and again, with a rainbow-washed sunshower, each afternoon, as I think I'm ready to walk the dogs. Neither one is unpleasant; I'm just tired of getting rained on. And so I go horizontal...just because it's Friday and I can.

P is in Washington, DC for nearly 2 weeks, and I am free to eat whatever Thai foods I want, without having to negotiate with him what we have for takeout.. I am free to watch "Firefly" re-reruns without shame, and I don't have to jockey for the computer to play Snood. I am free to burn Nag Champa incense in the house without fear of triggering an athsma attack, and I can make the Pomegranate Mudpot cocktail with twice as much lime juice as I'd make it for him. Marriage is so many compromises, and it comes down to all those little things that one doesn't REALLY mind, but suddenly, oh damn, it's ten days of total self-indulgence! Of course I also have to recycle often enough to be able to carry the recycling boxes up the 31 steps, I have to remember to get the mail and prime the coffee pot each night, too. And my Snood victories aren't really that sweet, if I can't hoot and crow over them with my biggest Snood rival. So it's a mixed bag, this living alone thingy. But I generally enjoy my solitary time, once I get my rhythm going, and it keeps my marriage sane, I think.

Minor knitting progress on Rosedale yesterday, as I attached her sleeves, and am now working on the yoke. My hope is to use my solo evenings (when I'm not drinking pink drinks, thrilling over Firefly and playing silly computer games) to finish this sweater, along with the ever-languishing Kiri shawl. I am only able to knit lace when I'm completely alone, in a silent room, so even though I have a complete fascination for lace knitting, I don't get much done.

Things are so crazy at my school, these days, due to recent scandal and outlandishness that my job satisfaction/outsider feeling has really taken a back seat. Funny how disaster causes people to pull together sometimes. I am enjoying the students and even my quirky co-teacher doesn't affect my moods much, anymore. I am still just hoping to survive the year, and am not particularly proud of my work, this go-round, but it's not making me wretched at the moment, and for that, I am grateful.

The sun is out. The rain has stopped.

Monday, February 19, 2007

gung hey fat choy

I'm barbecuing pork chops to celebrate the Chinese New Year, year of the boar. Yum.

Ms Acornbud and I went to Chinatown today to browse around and see the sights. We found assorted bits and bobs, and ate roast duck with noodles and creamy mapo tofu with veggies. We tried to go to Aloha Yarns in Kaneohe, but they were closed for the long weekend, and so we ended up visiting Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens; a place I've never been before. We saw wild pigs, a mother and some good-sized babies, surely a good omen for the new year!

I finished a sock yesterday, in the blue-grey-white Trekking colorway. Being a good pretend sock knitter, I immediately cast on for sock #2.
Pix below. Pay no attention to my scaly hairy legs, and merely admire the beauty of the one sock. I used a recipe from "Sensational Knitted Socks" and employed the Purl Lattice stitch pattern, which was easily memorizable, and forgiving of mistakes, as well. I really like this book, it is merely a bunch of generic formulae for knitting well-fitted socks in any gauge.

In other news, Spring is coming to Oahu! Our once barren plumeria is enjoying the strengthening sun, and buds and leaves are starting to peek out!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

farewell old friend

Our 16-year old cockatiel Rainbo passed peacefully, this afternoon. He'd been increasingly geriatric, and we'd seen the end coming about a month ago, as he visited the vet, and the vet diagnosed good health but inevitable aging, and advised us to "keep him warm" and "make him comfortable; he's just an old man." We'd had him all the years of his life, well from the time he was about 10 weeks old, anyway. Acquired as a companion for our other bird Gemini, he went on to become my husband's beloved buddy, to father 3 clutches of babies with Gem, and to cross the country twice and the Pacific once. In the words of a friend, he was a bird with a profound lust for life. He outlived 2 other cockatiels, Gemini and the above-pictured whitefaced Buffy, and had no caution or fear of dogs. Cricket's arrival into the household last year meant a curtailment of his freedom, which considerably affected the quality of his life, I think.

I buried him in our garden, under the Surinam Cherry tree, by our outside altar. Sad, I am, but at peace, too, as he lived a long, rich, full life.

Where have I been? Nursing a cold, burying myself in Martin Cruz Smith's latest Arkady Renko novel, working ferociously, dog training, providing bird hospice, knitting a blue sock for Project Spectrum,seeing movies and generally living pretty well. With the new year, and the new moon, and Imbolc, I experienced a little shift in how I feel about being here. It's hard to explain, but I'll try. For months, really since last winter, I had been operating with this feeling just below the surface (and often not disguised at all) of just marking time here, until we moved back to the mainland. Now I moved here 18 months ago, knowing (as I knew about my Virginia life) that this would probably not be a permanent residence for me, but rather, a place we'd live for 5-6 years. In VA, I hurled myself into that place and life, and became rooted, absorbed, enthralled. Many factors contributed to that situation, and how it worked for me there. Hawaii has been a difficult adjustment for me, and part of me has fought it, stubbornly seeing it as my temporary way station til I got back to someplace with 4 distinct seasons, better yarn stores, a friendlier dog culture, yadayadayada. But with my sister's departure in early January, I started to see things a little differently. I made a resolution to more consciously live "in my life" here, rather than to be always wishing and pining for somewhere else. It IS where I live, now, after all, and while I may miss and love other places, Oahu has to be home for me now. No sooner than I had made this decision to commit to my life here, than it was tested a few weeks ago. At Mocha Java, as I sat with the Aloha Knitters, a drunken, irate touristy-kine guy came in, looking for a club called Rumors. When informed that it wasn't at Ward Center, he griped loudly that he'd just wasted a $15 taxi fare, and called Hawaii a "fuckin' third-world country." Immediately, I felt a rush of defensiveness, how dare he call OUR island a third-world country?! HA! How many times have I uttered that same phrase? Now truth be told, I have lived and traveled in the third world, and I don't like to loosely use that phrase, really, it's usually used in a pejorative, sweepingly dismissive and generalistic way, but I'm afraid that sometimes, in dealing with certain arcanely bureaucratic and colonial holdover institutions here, the slipper fits a little too well to be called much else.

It was the momentary sense of protectiveness, the offended pride, that made me feel weirdly as if, for a moment, I belonged.

So I've tried to taste the rainbow a little more deliberately. To go to the beach more often. To enjoy our low-sixties nights and call them "cold". To admire the stars I never saw in too-urban Arlington and count myself lucky to live here. Paradise? Absolutely not. But a nice place to be, nevertheless.

Friday, February 02, 2007


In honor of St. Brigid, a poem!

Valentine for Ernest Mann

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he reinvented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of the skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we reinvent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

- Naomi Shihab Nye