Saturday, July 31, 2010

French Connection

The pool and the Pyrenees in the distance.

The compound

Live from L'Ousteau Magna, an hour west of Toulouse France, C'est le Plog!

I'm staying out of trouble (mostly) at Peter and Mecca's chateaux (really old but thoroughly modern) in the countryside. On a clear day, you can see the Pyrenees, which we can today. I will drive through the Pyrenees tomorrow on my way to Barcelona where I will spend two days speaking Spanish, eating tapas and drinking sangria.

I swear I will take my meds, stay out of the sun (will swim in the Mediterrean after 6 pm) and not talk to strangers. As it looks now, I'll have to get another suitcase due to what I plan to buy in Spain: beach towels, whole bean coffee, World Cup jerseys, and who knows what manner of ceramics and unknown junk. Now I can buy some local wine and put it in the suitcase, well-wrapped of course.

Carpe diem--what else?

Monday, July 26, 2010

No Miracles; A Great Time

A year ago we took a pilgrimage to Beaver Lake in Derry, New Hampshire to visit our friends the Crothers. A number of miracles occurred that weekend. This past weekend, we went up there again. No miracles this time, but then we didn't need any. A year ago I could barely walk. My sense of taste was shot and I was facing another transplant, my life hanging in the balance. This time, I ran around the lake, ate like we might run out of food, and drank like a pirate. It didn't hurt that the Crothers have the same Saeco coffee machine we have. If you've been paying attention, they were the ones who inspired us to purchase our new machine. I drink iced coffee as I write this.

Some of the other highlights of the visit included Marty catching a dinner-worthy fish, daughter Michelle driving up after work, and planning that Patty and Jeff would join us in New York for the Marathon Brunch in November. We will have a blast. We will also have great coffee. But you knew that.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I apologize to all of you who are sick of hearing about coffee. What's it got to do with leukemia? More on that later.

The new coffee shrine has been working overtime. Mariel and Mark love to make their cups of joe in the morning or when they come home from work. I've been doing two each morning and making an extra to put in the fridge for an afternoon iced coffee. That's at least $10 I've saved this week not buying retail iced coffee.

This afternoon, it's dank and dreary. What better time than to have a cappuccino? I looked for the directions and couldn't find them so went straight to you-tube for a tutorial. I don't have the same machine as the ones they were showing, so I tried to figure it out for myself, which sometimes works. First I shot pure hot water into the milk. Wrong. Then I tried different dials and buttons but was still watering down the milk and not frothing it. Finally, I got the right combo and voila! a steaming mug of cappuccino with a dash of cinnamon on top.

Okay, the leukemia thing. Well, since I've been on prednisone, I've been very impatient about most things in life. I try to be gentle with humans and dogs, but there are thing that definitely suffer my inability to do things slowly, and with thought and care. Oh, I get a lot done, but much of it is sub-par. Not so with the cappuccino, I'm happy to say. Of course I probably should be drinking decaf but I seriously doubt that the amount of caffeine I'm getting each day has any additional effect on my speed.

Always look on the bright side ...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ode to Coffee

I love coffee. Done well, it's the perfect beverage, even better than an extra dry martini. You may think I need a psych evaluation after you read about my latest adventure in coffee.

I think I can put part of the blame on my friends the Crothers who introduced us to a ridiculously pricey cup of brew last year before my second relapse. They had purchased a Saeco espresso maker at a garage sale and could no longer have coffee any other way. The machine is huge, has its own grinder and makes up to two cups of espresso or or one 8-oz. cup of hair-on-your-chest coffee in a single minute. You simply cannot resist this delicious shot of black liquid.

Mariel commented that the purchase and the size of the machine itself seemed unlike us. We are surely more quiet and unassuming than this monster would suggest. Some might justify the expense by saying they won't buy a cup of coffee on the way to or at work. A Starbuck's veinte can set you back a few dollars a day. But we always make our own coffee, except in restaurants, so that's a bogus argument for us. We just wanted a perfect cup of coffee and were willing to pay and give up valuable kitchen real estate to get it.

Come on over and I'll brew you a cup. I'll even let you have milk and sugar. The machine has a frothing wand, which I've yet to use, but means there's cappuccino in my future. Like maybe this afternoon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Germ City

I've been in NYC since Thursday evening. I love this place, but it is a pigsty. The streets have I don't know what on them (better take your shoes off upon entering your abode) and every surface has been greased by the millions of folks passing by. We live at Ground Zero, so there's a steady stream of people beating the pavement, touching the subway rail as well as all surfaces in stores. I wash my hands compulsively when I return to my apartment, but I've inexplicably left the hand sanitizer in much cleaner Rhode Island.

So far, I've been fine.

Even Whole Foods has been a challenge. We bought organic spinach there to make for dinner and it had a live insect in it. Marty freaked out. You can't buy a nitrate to save your life at Whole Foods, but bugs are free on the salads.

My doctor has given me clearance to travel to Europe in a couple of weeks to visit friends in Toulouse. I didn't ask his permission; my concerned husband did. Said doctor and husband have determined that with liberal use of hand sanitizer, I should be fine. I should avoid unpasturized cheese, but that's a small price to pay for drinking good wine. And red wine is good for the immune system so I'll be sure to do a lot of it.

Join me on for more Manhattan Happenings.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Strength, Dori

This morning I heard from a cyber-buddy in Tennessee. He was writing to tell me his wife Dori had relapsed with leukemia. She had a transplant a month after I did in 2007 and has been fine since. This is a very late relapse, but it happens. I know Dori and her family are devastated. I still remember the cold fear I felt when I found out I'd relapsed. It's arguably worse than initial diagnosis because you know exactly what's coming.

Dori will beat the leukemia down and perhaps have another transplant. She's certainly strong enough, and has everything to live for. It is a nasty experience, but doable. Ann has had two transplants. I've also had two. Ronni has had three MUDs herself.

For now, Dori and Jim are going to make no decisions over the holiday weekend, just be together as a family. That's the best thing they can do, the best thing any of us can do.