Feb 21 2010

A hook or button.

February 21st, 2010 Late PM

Sometimes our greatest display of strength can be in asking for help.

I stepped  on the lift tonight. I didn’t know my fellow passenger but I hesitated for only a second. “Could I impose?”

The tall, young blondish fellow with big hands in seconds did what I couldn’t – he secured on my wrist my pearl bracelet with the tiny circle spring clasp that required either two hands or the patience of a saint (which I am not). We were giggling as we spilled out of the elevator into the lobby.

“Usually people ask me to reach something high up for them,” he confided, blushing.

“Now you have a new story to tell,” I said, pausing to make eye contact again before I raced to my cab.

In late 1987 when I returned to work for a few weeks after Clay’s birth, I similarly called on Linda, a MAPCO executive administrative assistant. I had these damn Laurie Ashley white blouses with buttons up the back, ruffles on the front.. particularly hellish for a nursing mother trying to quickly express milk during meeting breaks. I wouldn’t have made it without Linda’s help.

Becoming single again doesn’t mean going it alone. Nor does it mean trading out all your clothes and jewelry. Look around.  There is often someone other than a husband to zip your dress, check for pepper in your front teeth… Ask!  Break the ice. Be human. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. That includes training your best friends (male and female) to ask, when you are weepy or snippy, “have you changed your estrogen patch lately?”

xo, Trix

Feb 21 2010

Into the fire.

February 21, 2010

“Why did you give me all the decent knives?’

“Because you are the one who cooks?” I responded.

Joel moved out in January to a studio four blocks away, allowing us to share cab rides on the few occasions we cannot walk to a destination, like tonight when we attend a dinner for Portland Opera. Of the six plus tons of things in my flat, he chose only to take his computer, printer, some clothes (Portland is very casual. Suits, ties, shirts and dress shoes remain in our closet), a French press and “his” frying pan.

When I was first single I baked soufflés in my Center Plaza studio in Tulsa. My kitchen had two, divided, feet of counter space, no dishwasher and doubled as the entry hall. Those were the days when I rewarded myself for finishing a CPA exam review module with a purchase from William-Sonoma and a dance around the place to Marley’s “Jammin’.”

When did I stop cooking? Mid-90’s. Why? A writing gig with long-distance, evening interviews. Joel’s not the type to complain or sit moping, waiting for someone to cook for him. He discovered new talents; as I earned the family extra money tap, tap, tapping away on the computer, writing advertorials, pitching editorial. It was during the days when those of us with a home office enjoyed the benefits and challenges but had to pretend to be in a “real office.” Many such efforts were foiled when Clay and his friends forgot to close the bathroom door, regularly bungee jumped off the grand piano, slammed the back door and never paused to think a professional colleague wouldn’t bellow “MOM!” from the next cubical. I think I still have a note Clay slide under my office door that read, “Sorry for swearing so loudly! I love you. Clay.”  I know some of you have lived through this experience.

Ten years later it would be Clay who would walk into my office to say, “I have a friend over. Please knock and wait for me to answer my bedroom door.” Cool.  Back to cooking.

My Valentine’s gift from Joel arrived yesterday. This morning I bounded out of bed, eager to take its marvelously sculptured metal body with stainless accents for a test drive in the kitchen. Serious business that the perfect fry pan is, I even read some of the owner’s manual before firing up the stove.

To say it performed like greased lighting is misleading. Beauty of it is, no grease, butter, olive oil, high-flash point grape seed oil…none of that, is required for my flying pan to produce perfect eggs that slip onto the plate. My Danish Scanpan* Ceramic Titanium 8” Professional Poele (Fry Pan) is inspired and cleans up in a snap (best “done while the pan is still warm”). Every kitchen should have one. Shop today at http://www.scanpancookware.com/

On my next visit to the kitchen I am going to edit the spice collection to Martha Stewart guidelines. Past a year spices & pantry items lose their desired flavors.  I’ll also make time today to buy frozen shrimp, a staple suggested for a quick meal by Chef Ellie Krieger and my Tulsa roommate, New Orleans native Judith. I figure by Mother’s Day I’ll be dropping hints about wanting a microplane grater. For now, I am taking myself to lunch at Lovejoy Bakery. Best I keep cooking a bit of a novelty, don’t you agree?  In the meantime, please write and tell me what other kitchen “essentials” I should stock.

Enjoy your Sunday! Trix

*Chefscatalog.com writes, “On the forefront of cookware technology, this Danish company uses a patented ceramic titanium nonstick process to craft pots and pans that not only offer foolproof release, but also sear, brown, deglaze and make sauces. The incredibly smooth nonstick surface stands up to years of everyday service. Made with extra-thick pressure cast aluminum for excellent heat distribution, Scanpan classic cookware provides outstanding heat retention without hot spots. Tempered glass lids let you monitor the cooking process. Stainless-steel rims surround the glass lids and phenolic stay-cool handles, adding to the durability. PFOA-free.

Feb 18 2010

In the bag.

February 18th, 2010

For improved mental alertness and a bit of spice to life, it’s a good idea to vary your daily routine. With this in mind (no pun intended!),  the Whippets and I took a different flight of stairs to the lobby and walked a different route to the dog park.   Never did  I suspect such a minor variation would bring so much into focus.

Quite unexpectedly I stumbled upon a wealth of knowledge about goal setting, health, creativity, love, travel, children…even some good points on orgasm.

ALL this on one shopping bag hanging on a coat rack in the window of a salon on Marshall Avenue.  Who’d have thunk?!  Answers can be in unexpected places.

Some gems include:

  • Choose a positive thought. The brain can only hold one thought at a time.
  • Just like you did not know what an orgasm was until you had one, nature does not let you know how wonderful children are until you have them.
  • Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks.
  • Dance, sing, floss & travel.

Almost time for another walk.  I’ll let you know what we find!  Trix 

Feb 16 2010

Double trouble.

Things come about for many reasons. When is anything truly black and white?

Did I do it after being worn down by eight years of desire? Was I evolving into a stereotypical empty nester? Did I have a soft spot for expressive brown eyes and a gentle nature?

Yes, yes and yes. I didn’t want to stop with just him. In a high-energy, fast moving crowd we repeatedly connected – undeniably drawn to each other. All my reservations melted away. I was putty. I wanted to take every one of the darlings in the crowd home but he was the one.

To the breeder watching me and Joel overwhelmed by Gracie’s litter scurrying around our driveway, “four spot,” as he had been dubbed, was “it,” my Whippet, the one I had agreed Joel could have, the puppy whose mere presence triggered in me a physical reaction (coughing) for months following his arrival. Nonetheless he was the four-legged “new baby” in my life. He sat on my desk, in my lap. We were almost inseparable. Three years later I would get to keep Leo’s sister, Bliss. She had been a frequent visitor on long holiday weekends. 

In Portland, “Dog Capital of the World,” I fit right in – I am a woman with two dogs. We have so many pets in our building, Wyatt Manager Billie LaBelle decided to conduct a pet audit to ferret out those breaking the two-per-apartment rule. I’ve not noticed a decrease; we still have plenty of dogs! I think her bark is worse than her bite?

The Whippets play many roles in my life now. Stay tuned for more chapters to this love story.

Feb 16 2010

Stepping out.

Yesterday I decided to forego shaving my legs. I haven’t inherited a small fortune or the pain tolerance level to switch to waxing and I am not advocating a more natural look. I simply ran out of time. Has that ever happened to you?

To be on time for a dinner date a decision had to be made: do I go another day engaging my muscles only to sit upright at my office desk or do I step out…and up? I bolted for my front door and the stairwell a few energetic strides beyond it.

Eleven flights down, 15 up, 15 down and 11 up. Pick the right tempo of music for your iPhone or iPod and you’re done before Van Morrison or Michael Buble can sing about a third affair. Some music has even inspired me to toss in a few upper body and hip Zumba movements during my assent.

I am motivated by a craving for endorphins during rainy season and less jiggle to my thighs. Fact is, it’s a cheap, convenient, effective workout. According to ehow.com, “A focused 30 minutes of step climbing can burn almost 300 calories.” The site goes on to list other benefits: increased fitness level, low-impact, lower cholesterol levels. I repeat…firm thighs and endorphins.

Last July I started climbing stairs at the suggestion of my friend Mary Hinckley to increase my endurance on trail hikes around Multnomah Falls. It’s bottom up on those trails; downhill sections start after the summit.

Get out and climb a few stairs, forge a few streams. It’s a great pick me up.


Feb 12 2010

Rite of passage.

2.12.10 Guest writer Candace Conley of http://girlcancook.blogspot.com

My good friend, Tracey, is experiencing one of those rites of passage…not a rite for everyone but certainly for many of us. She has found herself (at fifty-wonderful) on her own…an unmarried woman. So to everyone who is going through similar circumstances, I share my therapy of cooking…doing it, talking about it and blogging about it. Certainly, not everyday (obviously) but when there is a time to say something I do and this is one of those times!

Now, on to the recipe…this is a “do something nice for yourself” meal. It is a wonderfully easy and delicious recipe for grilled tuna plus it’s super healthy!!

The tuna needs to be very fresh, preferably sushi-grade but stay away from all of those endangered ones…like bluefin, big eye, etc. The pesto and salsa are good with lots of different things so make the whole recipe and save it. You can freeze pesto, you know…get some of those old-fashioned ice cube trays, divide the pesto among the cubes, cover with foil or some wrap that won’t come off easily and slip it in the freezer. You then have individual servings of pesto whenever you want. Just pop it out of the tray and let it come to room temperature in a small container or plate on your counter. It will keep for months in the freezer! The salsa is so good…you’ll want to put it on everything so it won’t last long.

Grilled Tuna with Pesto and Mediterranean Tomato Salsa (for An Unmarried Woman)
You need to make the salsa and pesto before you grill the tuna…which you only want to sear.

2 lbs. tomatoes, ½ inch dice
6 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups loosely packed Italian parsley
½ cup loosely packed mint
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. olive oil (get a nice fruity one)
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
On a cutting board, pile up the tomatoes, onions, herbs and chile. Using a large knife, chop all ingredients together until they become salsa consistency…chopping is a great stress reliever. Transfer to a medium sized bowl and add lemon and lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3 large garlic cloves
½ cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, pinenuts or any other nut you like)
2/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, coarsely grated
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2/3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

With food processor running, drop in garlic and finely chop. Stop motor and add nuts, cheese, salt, pepper, and basil, then process until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil, blending until incorporated.

One 6-ounce tuna steak, ¾ inch thick
Olive oil for brushing
Kosher salt and pepper
Light a grill (indoor or out). Brush the tuna steak with the olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper.
Grill tuna over moderately high heat until cooked to desired doneness. 1 minute per side for rare to medium rare; 2 minutes per side for medium.
Spoon salsa on plate, place tuna on salsa and top with a spoonful of pesto.

Pour yourself a glass of wine (Pinot Noir is great with tuna and these earthy flavors) and enjoy!

Feb 11 2010

Second hand rose.


Frugal is in. Shame it took a rotten economy to make it so.
But a silver lining is just that.

Purchasing is less frequent, based more on need than consumption.
Things are a wee bit less “disposable.” We gather more selectively.

My discovery of consignment shopping, though, wasn’t fueled by the economy as much as curiosity!

My adventure began, naturally enough in Portland, a pretty green city known for recycling just about everything. A sign that read, “What’s Upstairs?” hung next to a vintage sundress beckoned me during a stroll down 23rd Street, a charming shopping and restaurant Mecca with a dizzying array of charming store windows. My curiosity was rewarded! An evening dress, faux fur-trimmed sweater, suede skirt, wool jacket, knit shirt, $24 beaded top and pearl bracelet for the price, of well, a jacket I bought new a few doors south. What’s Upstairs shares the second floor with a coffee house. Step outside the curtained changing area and you’ve got a gang of new friends just the other side of a double glass paned doors, sipping lattes and willing to give you the thumbs up, or down on each outfit. Barely before dark I was skipping home humming “Secondhand Rose” from “Funny Girl” – eager to share my “finds” and experience. Somewhere in Portland I now knew there was a lady named “Trish” with my taste, breaking in my future wardrobe! I am not completely without some snobbery; I shun shopping malls. Consignment shopping is more like antiquing.

Reporting on my solo exploration brought me an invitation from artist Sherrie Wolf to join her for a trip to the Gilded Closet, another nearby consignment shop. The thrill of the hunt now came with female companionship and one with a 10% off coupon, at that!

Remember when “garage sales” became “estate sales” sometime during the late 80’s? Seems “thrift shop,” the term I was using, describes venues such the Goodwill store (Portland’s downtown store is a national model of successful thrift store retail). “Thrift” is upgraded to “consignment” when a $30,000 Bill Blass couture gown is offered for $2000. These are the type things brought from the back of the shop for inquiring customers at Gilded Closet. The day Sherri and I were visiting we watched this practice performed for two fundraising co-chairs shopping for ball gowns.

The experience of shopping consignment stores also comes with memorable conversation and dialogue with sales clerks and fellow shoppers. Intimate settings encourage comments, as do the “goods,” the affordable but one-of-a-kind items – no longer available in size 6,8 & 10. Collections can be as eclectic as the fashion sense of the buyers. Engage the staff so you get a call when new items arrive and visit enough to get a feel for when items are marked down.

“Never fear being vulgar, just boring.” Diana Vreeland.

In every city there are clothing shops for the whole family, as well as stores stocked with household items and furniture bargains. Pick a store or two and tell me what treasures you find! Here are two links to get you plotting your next shopping adventure.

In Portland: http://www.insiderpages.com/s/OR/Portland/ConsignmentShops?order=best&radius=10

In Tulsa: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1011676/top_five_consignment_and_thrift_stores.html?cat=46

“Second Hand Rose” was written for the Ziegfield Follies of 1921 and is attributed to Fanny Brice. Barbara Streisand sang the song in the 1960s biographical musical play and movie “Funny Girl.” Listen at http://new.music.yahoo.com/barbra-streisand/tracks/second-hand-rose–2016179

As always, Trix

Feb 10 2010

Get out of town.

Get out of town.

Let’s talk about a super diversion when the blues come calling: a spa trip!  Actually, depression is optional. I cannot think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit (fellows, that includes you) from a visit to a resort focused on exercise and pampering. I’ve just returned from my first experience with such a destination. Another first was being on holiday with a girlfriend. Of the 10 women in our group I think I was the only virgin on both counts. No surprise; always been a late bloomer.

First, let me clarify… I was not pampered head to toe (as my envious mum imagined), though I might have been. Instead I logged well over 20,000 steps daily, danced, stretched, swam, rode and listened… to lectures, travel companions, music and that voice inside me that said, “do this more often.”

I admit it. Since starting this blog with the intention of grabbing life, I had fallen head first into “situational depression,” I just didn’t have a two-word tag for it until Judith (my Tulsa roommate) mentioned it recently in conversation. Jud is one of my inspirations, a woman ahead of me on the journey of becoming single after a long marriage.

I Googled the term, AKA “adjustment disorder.” Didn’t need a doctor to confirm it is what has ailed me recently. Check it out: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-adjustment-disorder Good news is it tends to run its course in six months. Summer 2010 is now in my sights and I feel better already.

Back to Red Mountain Spa in St George, Utah. If you can reach Las Vegas, it’s a scenic shuttle ride ($25 each way on the St George Shuttle 800.933.8320) well worth the stretch on Interstate 15 built in the 1970’s at a cost of $1 billion per mile.

We arrived well after dark so the resort – unfamiliar and cloaked in darkness under a cloudy, starless sky – seemed massive. The light of day revealed a charming, intimate collection of buildings the color of the surrounding, stunning sandstone and gardens exquisitely landscaped.

I was slow to change gears. The first day I was quite content to hike in Snow Canyon, show up for meals, spend time struggling with a WiFi connection in the business center (determined to be productive on the work front), participate in a Chi ball class and attend a lecture about the seven chakras. The word “chakra” is Sanskrit for “wheel.” The chakra system was developed in India in the middle ages. I drifted off to sleep that night resolved to tackle my yellow or Solar Plexus Chakra imbalance (Jud – my roomie – tells me I talked “a mile a minute” in my sleep that night).

Toward that end, the next day I hiked further into Snow Canyon, took my first yoga class in nine years, sweated and giggled through a Zumba class (shaking your body to Latin music that leaves you completely drenched and very happy) and managed not to drown in, yes, my first water aerobics class by a fancier name before returning to the outdoor whirlpool to emerge myself up to my ear lodes in warm, bubbling water.

The third day brought yet another experience – riding to the south end of the canyon on horseback. I was hoping my love of animals would give me a leg up; I last remember being introduced to riding at age 8 on holiday in Hawaii. All I really needed was our guide’s introductions: “Tits in the air, upper back arched, lower back relaxed and moving with the same motion as making love.”

Feb 9 2010

Sweet Dreams

Two weeks ago the facebook page “Falling asleep while cuddling” had 1,936,898 fans when I somehow stumbled upon it. The site isn’t the type thing I’d know to look or search for on the Net. Since I “friended” it, 42,802 more have joined it. I am a student of social network marketing and an incurable romantic. Watching this number tick upward warms my heart.

Feb 3 2010

Here we go.

Time to march forward and live a little. Thursday I depart for my first overnight spa visit and first time holiday traveling with women…9 of them! Last pretrip stop: REI. because my running and hiking shoes are in Tulsa. Have you traveled with a group of people? What has it been like?  Done the spa thing? Send recommendations!