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Posts Tagged ‘sea’

The thermometer is going to push 90 degrees here, in what feels like perpetually sunny California of late. Another drought plagued season in this beautiful state will not bode well for what our firefighters will face as the inevitable summer heat presses down on us. Sigh. Already we had the first power outage of the season in our area Sunday. Predictably, the power went off right around dinner time. Not late enough in the day to have dinner prepared and on the table, but rather right in the middle of cooking time for my pork loin in the oven, and pot of corn on the cob happily boiling on the stove top. Fortunately, it came back on before we either had to order in, or label our dinner an early breakfast. Typical. If not in the middle of the meal, the power is guaranteed to go off immediately after I’ve purchased a large amount of groceries and meat at Costco. It’s like a signal goes off from the cash register directly to the power grid reading “Susie will be storing $300 worth of perishables in her refrigerator. Initiate two day shutdown protocol”. I have a generator my son gave me to use when when an outage occurs. They seem to be coming more and more often which each passing year. Summer before last, I threw out an entire refrigerator full of food three times. At least that is not a worry I will have going into this summer, hopefully. I have never used a generator before. From what I understand, you have to be careful how you use them, because if they are too close to the house or are used in an poorly ventilated area, they can prove lethal. This, I have to say, makes me a bit less enthusiastic about a trial run with the damnable thing. Being one of those people who can get her finger stuck in a manual can opener, anything with the word lethal in the precautionary hazards, is a bit worrisome to me. I am working hard on holding my grateful place so rather than complain, I will look for a positive spin to this. Let’s see, I am thankful I am blessed to have a new generator with which to off myself with. I’ll leave it at that. Good old PG&E.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks at my house for some unknown reason. Though not in a bad mood, I also haven’t been my usual sunny self. Could be spring fever, or cabin fever, or simply part of emerging like a pupa from a cocoon after a long period of hibernation, I don’t know. Seems a lot of friends and close acquaintances I’ve talked to lately are going through some transitional pains while beginning merge back into public gatherings again as well. I went out to lunch with a friend of mine on Friday. Both of us noted, sitting inside at a table felt both familiar and strange at the same time. Certainly it looked different. Notably, while we waited for our order to arrive, there was nothing on top of our table but our elbows. No napkins, utensils or condiments, as I would have expected to see pre-pandemic. When my friend asked for salt and pepper, a pile of small packets on a plate were delivered to the table. I’m so glad we didn’t own our restaurant during something like this. Restaurant ownership on the best of days is a stressful existence, but trying to work with these kind of restrictions must be like trying to do up the laces on your running shoes with your hands tied behind your back.

People ask me often if I would want to own a restaurant again. That, I have to say, is an answer requiring little deliberation on my part. NO!!!! Sorry. Was that too loud? Now, my response would be much different was I asked, “are you glad you owned a restaurant”? That answer would be a resounding, “yes”. It was an experience like no other in my life. I am both thankful to have been a part of it, and even more thankful to have come out the other end. Rick was the one carrying all the restaurant experience both going in, and going out. What knowledge I had about restaurants was limited to where to go to get the best Cobb salad, or where not to go for bad Chinese. However, by osmosis, I soaked up information along the way and managed to learn some of the ins and outs of the business for the two years we were open. Who knew? Not I certainly. I didn’t even have the usual street creds young people have on their resumes like “Waitress” or “Server”. Other than a brief, and might I add highly unsuccessful, Memorial Day weekend cocktail waitress debacle on Martha’s Vineyard in my early twenties, I was totally a restaurant virgin.

You know, rethinking my answer about ever owning a restaurant again, I have to say I have day dreamed about a little place that just served breakfast and lunch somewhere by the sea. Even perhaps a lunch truck of some description. I’ve also thought I’d like to work or run a bed and breakfast by the coast one day, but these thoughts are definitely can be found under the “dream on” column of my to do list unless I either hit the jackpot or marry well in the future.

Lately, the ocean has really dominated my thoughts. How I miss it. Sometimes it is an actually longing, like missing someone you love. For me, growing up smack up against water on all sides, it became a part of me, and, I, in turn, became a part of it. The Atlantic, where I grew up, is a far different beast than the peaceful Pacific here on the west coast. That is why people flock here, I would suppose, to enjoy the endless coastline decorated with long stretches of white sandy beaches, warm waters, and gorgeous sun soaked vistas. If one can afford it, of course. In my case, one can’t. Both oceans, to my eyes, have their own style of beauty and mystery.

The Atlantic always felt to me a far more angry stretch of water than the Pacific, harboring (no pun intended) darker moods and deeper hues. The sea, depending on you location, shows itself in many ways. The waters surrounding Hawaii, for example, have a light and yes, tropical, feel to them. Almost as though they know they are playing in paradise and wish to reflect the mood. The ocean there is a clear azure blue. When walking into the surf on Waikiki Beach the water was so translucent my feet were clearly visible on the sand below me.

I also enjoyed the beaches in Ft. Lauderdale, during my one and only visit there. Florida offered up some prime coastal experiences. If it wasn’t for the extreme humidity, frequent hurricanes, outrageously large insects, and flourishing alligator population, Florida undoubtedly would be a great place to live. If I was disposed to move to that part of the U.S., which I am not, I would prefer to live on the Keys. Key West is the only one I’ve visited but that would suit me just fine. Each night I would find my way down to the beach and sit with the locals enjoying the glorious sunsets and possibly indulging in a little cracked crab washed down by an icy margarita. My mouth is watering simply imagining it. Massachusetts had some nice coastal stops as well. Cape Cod waters are far more brooding and dark, the beaches there wearing a more windswept and scruffy look. Cape Cod, I believe would be a lovely place to write a novel or find oneself after being lost.

If I cannot be there right now, I can at least remember times that I have been. Memories are such lovely parts of our makeup. I’m glad whoever shaped our existence thought to include them in the factory rollout package. At times they can be both a curse and a blessing depending on the content, but being able to bring up the pleasant times in our lives like slides on a screen and to recall the smells, feelings, and colors of our experiences is a wondrous gift I have to say. Like pictures in an album, our memories lose their clarity and richness as the years pass. Still, they can be called up to be revisited from time to time and bring us joy. Often, I feel sad for my mum to have lost so many memories over the last few years, but dementia knows no master. Truly, I am blessed I am one face she never seems to forget.

So with thoughts of the sea on my mind, I am definitely adding a trip to the coast over the summer months. It’s about a four hour drive, which isn’t too much of a stretch. Rick and I often went to Little River, one of my favorite spots. Situated atop the craggy bluffs south of Mendocino, Little River is more a dot on the map than a thriving metropolis, only boasting a bustling population of 117. I have not gone there since he passed and am not sure how I will feel when I do. I do know I will go again when I’m ready, because it is such a beautiful place to visit. When we are left behind, it is up to us to find joy in the time we have, and I know he would always want me to do that.

Anyhow, I’ll leave you with thoughts of sea breezes, calling gulls, salty smells, and foghorns until next time.

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Nova Scotia, as I’ve said many times in my writing, has some of the most incredibly beautiful coastlines, as well as sleepy fishing villages seemingly untouched by the passing years.  I grew up there until my ninth year and have visited many times since still to find these small, colorful villages much the same as when I first saw them through my young eyes.  People that I’ve met on my travels who have taken the opportunity to explore what the province has to offer, have always sung its praises, as I frequently do.

My grandfather was a urologist with a busy practiceMy grandmother ran the house with a heavy hand.  All linens were pressed, and cloth napkins were expected at the table.  Cooking was her passion, with the kitchen being the pulse of our home.  She never drove, but road trips were her favorite form of recreation, and we went as often as my grandfather could pull himself away from his patients.  I can’t speak for her, but I can imagine that being unable, or perhaps seriously unwilling to drive a vehicle would at some point become very confining, so she embraced every opportunity for us to hit the road. 

Summers were often short-lived in Nova Scotia, and certainly did not reach the temperatures that we experience here on the west coast of the U.S.  My grandfather was with me the first six years of my life, dying young at the age of sixty-five. Often during our summers together he rented a small cottage on Hubbard’s Beach.  The cottage was rustic and its wood well weathered by the sea air.  There was a large front porch and deck area with stairs leading to the sandy beach just beyond. I loved it there.  At night as I closed my eyes the salty smell of the Atlantic sifted through the screens and the sounds of the waves crashing along the shoreline lulled me to sleep.

During the day we took long walks along the beach gathering shells and driftwood to take home as mementos of our time there.  Some days my grandmother and I would gather wild blueberries in tin baskets which she would later blend into sweet muffins for breakfast. 

My grandfather outwardly an austere man, was actually imbued with a well-honed sense of humor.  Although not prone to laughing out loud he would chuckle quietly when his funny bone was tickled. The seriousness, I would suppose, might have come from a physician, or maybe just the nature of the man himself.  From the moment he first held me, my mother says he was hooked, and I adored him right back.  When he took my small hand in his larger one, I never felt afraid or alone.  Blessed with an innate kindness and humanity which he shared easily with his patients and fellow beings that I haven’t seen in many others in my lifetime, and certainly rarely in the medical professionals that I deal with today.

I love the water, so my first order of business was to get into it.  Living in such close proximity to the ocean in Halifax, I was taught to swim as soon as I gave up my pacifier.   Not having a raft available, my grandfather gave me an inflated “donut”, a device they he used to provide comfort for hemorrhoid patients.  It worked for me, what did I know?  Bathing suit on, donut under my arm, I waded into the cool water under the watchful eye of my grandfather who was sitting under a beach umbrella. I rose and fell in the swells enjoying the warm sun on my face.  I noticed something floating in the water close by that looked to be a large flower. Suddenly as if appearing out of nowhere there were hundreds of flowers all around me.  As one blossom drifted closer to my donut, I could see it was not a flower at all, but rather a large diaphanous jellyfish.   They filled the sea around me like an army of alien creatures.  There were so many of them, and quite beautiful to see.  Alarmed yelling came from the direction of the beach and I looked up to find my grandfather wading towards me uncharacteristically undignified with his pant legs rolled up and straw hat askew.  I was plucked up into his arms and taken out of the water to safety.  From what I understand their stings are similar to a bee sting, but I must say being in the middle of this school of them was quite an experience. 

People ask me often where I find stories to write, I always answer “they find me”. 

My cousin gave me this recipe.  It is reserved for company at our house because the saffron is expensive, but essential to the color and taste.  Enjoy.

Fishermen Scallops

1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. curry powder
1 shallot, diced
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 oz. dry white wine
1/2 tsp. tarragon
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
4 cups sour cream
3 1/2 lbs. scallops, muscles removed
1/4 cup water
1 oz. chicken soup base
3 strands saffron

Combine water, chicken soup base, and 3 strands saffron and heat separately.

Melt butter in large saucepan. Whisk in curry powder and shallot. Cook 5 mins. over low heat. Whisk in flour gradually and cook 5 mins. more. Add wine and mix well continuing to cook over low-med heat until mixture begins to thicken. Stir in water, chicken soup base and saffron mixture. Add tarragon and pepper. Add sour cream 1/2 at a time, heating between each addition. Strain and cool.

Place scallops in lightly buttered casserole dish. Pour cooled sauce over the top and marinate for 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bake on center rack for 10-12 mins. Serves 8. Yummy.

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