Let me explain. No, let me sum up.

Our round-the-world trip came to a stop just shy of the one-year mark. Last December, JM and I delayed our Hawaii-New Zealand-Australia return trip by taking on another house sitting gig in NY. In March we extended our US stay to the point of buying a house and me getting a job. So here we are in Houston, settling into the routine, deciding what’s next. I promise to let you know more, this time before another year passes.

A little color

I bought this string of lights at Pier 1 last week to perk up the kitchen. We can only remodel so much at once, so this adds some color to the unfinished ambiance. I’m now thinking of painting all the cabinet doors and drawers in these bright colors.

Too crazy?

Domestic vacation

JM and I are currently house sitting and one of the perks is a flourishing garden. I knew that fresh was delicious, but picked-this-morning-and-now-it’s on-my-plate-fresh is incredible! Today we made more tomato soup and tonight it’s another batch of veggies with brown rice. Tomorrow we’ll make some arugula pesto for the soup. And traditional pesto for grins.

I can only hope to leave the owners something good growing when they get back. I’ve read that garlic and onions are good to plant now in Seattle, but if you’re reading this and know of anything else, please leave a comment. Thanks!

I say tomato


Okay, I thought the tortilla soup I made yesterday was pretty damn fine mostly because 95% of it was from the garden around me, but then there was today. Tomatoes. We were being overrun! So I decided to make my first ever homemade tomato soup. I looked at a few recipes online and then cobbled my own together from everything I read. OH MY GOD. My first attempt may be my masterwork! It must be the exquisite freshness of it all. I can’t wait for the next bowl. Damn. Damn!

Elli, lately

Instead of composing an entry, I’ll just post the latest e-mail to Elsa because that usually says it all. I’m writing about my latest experience with skin cancer, the third one, that showed up on my forehead and was removed last week:

It’s good to be silly right now–it helps more than anything. I don’t look at myself too long in the mirror except to have a good giggle. The bandages are still on and the stitches come out tomorrow, which feels way too early. The wound is still fresh and painful, but the doctor said the sooner the better in terms of scarring. I trust him even though I’m pretty sure I’ll want to throw up during the stitch removal. I think I’ll take some xanax before my appointment–I got a prescription a few months ago before my parathyroid surgery in case the panic attacks came back and I really could have used them last week. The nurse reasoned that my twitchy, tear-filled reaction was due to all the adrenaline they used on the area in order to reduce the blood flow (in addition to numbing.) During the procedure, the doctor and nurse both kept urging me to talk about our upcoming trip as JM held my hand, but that didn’t work and the nurse and JM tag-teamed me with cold, wet cloths in order to keep the clammy, flop-sweat at bay. It wasn’t pretty and I apologized profusely thereafter even though my doctor insisted I did quite well. JM said the doc worked incredibly fast, but I suppose anyone would under threat of projectile vomit.

So here we are. Tomorrow I’ll see my new face without all the bandages. In just a tiny way I’m sad. I got used to the old one and even admired her awkward beauty from time to time. I think I might like this new one even better though. It reminds me of the time when I dyed my hair bright blue way back in ’88. Whenever someone looked at me, she or he would immediately look away in any other direction, la la la, acting oblivious which made me laugh. I think that experience can help me now. My face isn’t that different–the change is subtle. I still wouldn’t get cast as that odd extra in a Woody Allen film, but I’m exactly who I want to be inside and out. Life has been good to me…

For sale

This is the second weekend selling our wares for the people of Perth, and the people, they just aren’t showing. Granted, we haven’t advertised it well so it’s our own damned fault. Let me back up a bit by telling you that we’re taking to the road again, which is no big surprise, hey? If you know JM and me, you’re aware that we’re never in one place for long. We’ve been married for 11 years and the longest we stayed put in one place was a brief experiment in homeownership in Baden, Switzerland. We’ve been in Australia for over three years which is 21+ dog years of accumulating stuff. Please, please come buy it so we can take off again.

Still here

So I had surgery for my parathyroids. Three are gone for good and the one remaining is slowly getting up to speed remembering it’s function. While everything is normalising, I need weekly blood tests to measure calcium levels and take a supplement from which they will gradually wean me. The problem is that I’ve got tingles that are driving me batty and the doctors just shrug because my numbers look good. I basically feel electrically charged, vibrational, and then my arm or leg will suddenly be overcome with that sensation like it’s about to fall asleep, intensely so. It’s not painful, it’s just, well, disrupting. And the last two days it’s been particularly active.

This afternoon I started going a bit stir crazy. I needed to literally make some sweeping gestures, larger than my Wacom tablet would afford. I needed to move and I needed to MAKE SOMETHING. There was no paper in the house large enough to do this on, so I took A3 sheets and taped them together for my palette. I discovered I have no charcoal, only a piece of white chalk, but then found a tube of black paint and some brushes. It didn’t have to be pretty, it just had to be the act of putting brush to paper and moving my arm. It didn’t help in the physical sense, but it still felt really good.

Limited palate

This evening while walking past one of the worst Asian take out restaurants I have ever had the disappointment from which to order, I saw two young boys around 10 years old and their father about to partake in a meal served in styrofoam.

“Dim sums. I wonder what they taste like,” said one boy to the other.

I held my breath while passing them and around the corner said to myself, “sadly, you’ll never know.”

I imagine he will either love them due to their artificial taste, to which he may now be very accustomed, or he will hate them and never want to try them again.

This leads to memories of my own food predilections* when growing up. Despite my mother’s assertions that I ate broccoli as a child (little trees!), my only memory is a strong dislike of the vegetable which became Supreme Commander of all Green Foodstuffs approximately 20 years ago. My junior year at university I was eating out with friends at an Asian dive similar to the one I mentioned. Having ordered my favorite ‘moo goo gai pan,’ my friend Emily B chastised me for eating only the chicken and pushing all the broccoli aside. On a dare I ate the broccoli, had a massive epiphany that this stuff was so good even in its most degraded form, and lo, the angels rolled their eyes into their heads and said, “finally.” I love broccoli so much I have been known to eat if for dessert.

Mmm, dessert. I have had a massive sweet tooth my entire life (which only really saw satisfaction once I hit Switzerland, but that’s another story.) Chocolate cake for breakfast? Well, shucks, that’s what my daddy taught me was best thing day after your birthday. I had the sweets down pat, but broccoli was my gateway vegetable, hell, it was the destruction of every belief of what I liked and didn’t like. Had I ever in my life eaten tuna? I damned it because it was fish and said never, but when I lived at a commune and my teacher said, “if I told you tuna would make you enlightened, would you eat it?” I answered, “hell no.”** Ashamed, I went and got a plate and downed it in front of her realizing to my dismay, it wasn’t that bad. What else had I been missing!?! Oh dear universe, I like tuna, what’s next!?!

Next came a host of other greens and reds and more greens. To this day, however, I hold out on fennel. Anything that tastes like licorice/aniseed is of the devil, sambuca also be damned. Sorry, Elsa. I’m also sorry for not feeding you properly for the brief period of time when you lived with me in Austin. I think our basic diet consisted of apples, frozen crumbed-chicken patties, and probably spaghetti. I have many regrets of not being more adventurous sooner. However I’m not sorry that I was teased for avoiding sour cream onion potato chips and root beer in high school, and that I never tried pepperoni pizza until my 20s. Also, I am staunchly proud of the fact that the only time I ever ate WHITE chocolate, I threw up. As it should be.

*One of my father’s favorite words. He also uses “proclivity” quite fondly. Searching the thesaurus I see quite a few wonderful synonyms for appetite.

**Another long story for another time.

Getting around to it

Um, hi. Remember me, Elli? What’s it been, a year? Well, it feels like it. Yes, I will admit to procrastinating a fair bit here and in other areas which can lead to a violent overcompensation. Be ye forewarned.

I just got back from my first real vacation in three years. It was cheaper and quicker to fly to Bali than the other side of Australia, thus making our decision quite easy. Neither JM or I had ever been there, nor are we likely to go again, however we did have a pleasant enough time. The area surrounding our village reminded me somewhat of New York — the smells, the many taxis, the honking, the street hawkers who don’t shout, but rather fall in step along side and try to sweep you into their stores every few hundred feet. I felt most comfortable tucked away in our villa where I spent the majority of the time either swimming in the private pool or in a comfy chair reading a book. I could pretty much do that at home though (especially if I had a pool.) We also attended a cooking class, but most of the work was done by an efficient team of Balinese women, which can take the fun and the harm right out of it. So my only injury was a slight sunburn on the back of my neck from the harsh equatorial sun on day one when we went out exploring on foot and I almost got run over by one or two of the millions of scooterists. No really, I had fun.

Now we’re back and I’m faced with the usual onslaught of thoughts including should I or shouldn’t I finally have that parathyroidectomy? When you read the words “end stage organ failure” in a doctor’s report it really makes you think. Sure, he’s merely referring to the fact that I have osteoporosis of the wrist, but it’s dramatic enough to make me think, hey, this isn’t getting any better is it? And worrying about the potential falls I could have had on the myriad of stairs in Bali really made me muse some more. So there’s a phone call I’ll be making tomorrow to my surgeon for an appointment.

Ah, now I need another day to recover from all this vacationing which is just what the procrastinator ordered…