Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Cake Lady

Just a little old cake for a party we had on our block, thrown together by Miss Chaquita, the Cake Lady.

I met her on one of the days when I was signing the papers for my new house in early 2006. She was delivering a cake to the real estate office in our new subdivision. I learned then that she would be my "across the street" neighbor, and she would move in to her house shortly after we moved into ours. She was very friendly, and had made such good friends with the realtor that she had baked her a cake!

I snuck a look in her new kitchen one day when the workers were finishing up before she moved in--the stove and ovens were a definite upgrade beyond what was in my "spec home" kitchen. Double ovens, and a nice gas cooktop. You could tell there was a serious cook who was going to move into this house!

It didn't take long for her and her hubby to make friends with the neighbors. Many a hen fest began out on the driveways. The roosters met in the garages, and we planned block parties and get-togethers. More and more neighbors were moving into the new subdivision, and each one was welcomed, usually by Chaquita, and she usually had a delicious cake in her hand as a welcome gift.

She and her hubby were especially helpful to me, because my husband only lived 3 months in our new home before he passed away. And at his funeral dinner, she offered us one of her delicious pound cakes covered with the fudge frosting. My whole family was initiated to what treats were made on a regular basis in that gourmet kitchen, and they all knew her as the "cake lady".

The Halloween cake was created for one of our Halloween block parties, where we all gathered on someone's driveway, a firepit with a blazing fire in it to warm us all, usually planned by Chaquita and Anne, the two professional cooks on the block. We had a great time, chatting, eating, drinking Chaquita's slushies! Who cared if no kids came to get Halloween candy? The grown-ups were having their own kind of fun.

She helped me make my groom's cake for my daughter's wedding, since it had a challenging kind of icing on it. The cake turned out great, even if I did bake it!

We all got the shock of our lives this week. Our dear friend Chaquita, the cake lady, passed away suddenly on Monday. She had been feeling ill with the stomach flu, and in the middle of the night, she got up, but had a deadly brain aneurism and was found on the bathroom floor by her husband. Sadly, the paramedics tried to save her, but to no avail. We had to say goodbye to our dear friend, her sad funeral was held today, with hundreds there to give testamony to her life.

When you know someone whose life is in the hospitality field, you know that this person thinks of others. Her creations in flour, sugar and eggs went beyond a mere baked item, they were her expression of love to all who tasted what she made. She always wanted to make sure everyone was satisfied, that their hungers were filled. It could have been a hunger for food, or for friendship, she tried to reach out and fill the need. We all gave testamony to the fact that our lives were touched deeply by her life, and our lives will have a huge hole in them because she is gone.

We will miss you, Chaquite, aka "cake lady". The memories we have of your tasty concoctions only enhance our memories of your friendship and love. Enjoy it up there on Cloud 9, and give those angels some delicious devils food cake! Sinfully delicious!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Cuz Fest

It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and quickly melting the vestiges of snow from the ground. The Groom was nervous, the bridesmaids were glamourous, and the bride absolutely beautiful! The little two year olds, ring bearer and flower girl, were flawless in their entry! It was truly a beautiful wedding.
Beautiful rose and program handed to each of us as we entered.

I had not met the bride and groom before the wedding. The groom is one of my cousins sons. This wedding was an occasion for cousins of all generations to reconnect! Better a joyous occasion such as a beautiful wedding than when we are ready to put one of us in the ground!

Here are almost all of the cousins of this generation (Father of the groom's generation) who were in attendance, as we gather to celebrate, salute and chat! Don't we look well preserved for being of grandparent/great-grandparent age!

This is three generations of cousins, my cousin (fourth sibling of the father of the groom) is the grandma, her daughter and the handsome gentleman on the left are cousins, and the baby is yet a cousin--once removed, or is it second cousin? I never could figure that one out!

We were wined and dined at a wonderful wedding reception venue call Windows on Washington, in the near downtown area, which is a big warehouse now loft space that has 8 floors of party rooms. We got the top room, and the view was spectacular. It was awash with candle light, beautiful chandeliers (we think the one was a Dale Chahuly creation--pricey indeed!) The lobby has a huge pool with rain falling from the ceiling on some Dale Chahuly-like lily pad/flower glass creations. When you came in the door, an attendant poured you a glass of bubbly to get your evening started!

Then the delicious sit-down dinner, with ever attentive wait-staff (where is that glass I thought was here a minute ago? Oh, he scooped it up and took it away!) Lots of drinks, a big dance floor, and plenty of space to use for visiting. They had a live band, which was very good. Here's the skinny on that--live band plus concrete loft room equals hearing loss and vocal chord strain if you want to hold a conversation instead of dance. So we cousins, who aren't really the dancing fools we once were, did suffer from throat irritation by the end of the evening trying to recall old times!

But, it was a delightful night. We wish the best to the new bride and groom, we thank their wonderful parents for throwing such a nice party, and the best part was to see my cousins that I haven't seen in quite a while, AND we were not at a funeral!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Update

No snow.

But it is on our doorstep.

Colon fine!

Good day!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In the Eye of the Storm

The weatherman has predicted this for days. Dire predictions have followed more dire predictions, followed by softening of the dire predictioins, followed by increasing the dire predictions.

We're going to have a snow event in our state.

First it was supposed to start at noon today, then late afternoon.

It finally started about 6 p.m.

Now, what is coming down appears to be some sort of freezing rain, sleet, or frizzle. It is covering the street with a wet coating, but I'm not brave enough to go out and test it out.

My deck freezes quickly, so it is covered with ice.

We are supposed to get snow by morning, with an accumulation of 3-5" by then. I'm hoping not, because I am scheduled for an unpleasant medical test tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn, and really want to get it over with!

I'll let you know the outcome of both events.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hippity Hop, Easter's On Its Way

I've shopped for Bunny items, filled the baskets,g sampled the candies and now I guess we are ready for Easter Sunday. Since I'm leaving the next day for South America, Easter is one of those things that I'm putting sort of on the back burner for this year.

One thing I have to do today is spend my usual 3 hours in church for Holy Saturday Mass tonight, This has been a tradition for me for practically 30 years. I have been a part of a choir that did Holy Saturday Mass services practically every year since the early 80's. It is one of the most dramatic and interesting, even though very long, Catholic Mass Liturgies in the entire year. It is the highest feast of the Church year, a time when all things are renewed to celebrate and commemorate Jesus' rising from the death to a new life.

The night starts out in darkness, and a fire is built in the church which starts the ceremony of lhe church year. Sometimes I worry about being stuck in the far corner of the church far away from the door when they start the fire, hoping it doesn't somehow flare up and set the place on fire. I guess that is one benefit of having a church with an asbestos ceiiing, it can withstand flames!

Then we read and sing in response to the stories that lead up to Christ's coming, His ministry and finally death on the cross. Then we throw the swithch to sing, "Glory to God In the Highest", once again coming out of the darkness of the Lenten season to the joy of the Easter season.

Then a long but meaningful process begins of admitting new members into the church. Even though people can be baptized at any time of the year, many chose be baptitized on Holy Saturday, especially the adults. They prepare for many months prior to the day of their baptisms. We have the blessing of the new water before the baptisms.

One year, almost 20 years ago, I was working with the group who prepared the logistics for this special evening. Since fire, light and water were such strong symbols in this liturgy, our fire and water symbols were weak. So the team designed a beautiful holder for a nice firepit (sorry Chinese restaurant, we stole one of you woks for our firepot), and we built an actual garden type pond in the sanctuary. I was on the pond committee, having jusrt finished a pond in my own backyard. We used a concrete mixing box as our pond liner, My hubby built a wooden support for a nice flat waterfall rock, and we finished it off with stones around the edge, and lots of plants and flowers. At the prescribed time in the liturgy, someone turned the switch and the water flowed over the waterfall, making a nice trickling sound as emphasis on the symbol.

So many people commented on this, they loved it Some just thought it was a nice decoration, and didn't put the symbol idea in their minds. I moved away after a few years, and actually got to build one of these at my new parish, which they used for exactly one year. When Ed was sick, I was off the choir/church committees for a year. Imagine my delight when I returned to the parish I am now in, and they had literally resurrected the old pond from the early 90's and rebuilt it in the new church sanctuary. I saw it and instantly got teared up! It was a symbol from the past that was so meaningful to me. And now, I guess we're going to be using it for the future!

So that is another reason to want to go to church tonight. Plus, I'm part of the singing and solo group that will be providing the music.

So Happy Easter to you all. Celebrate in what ever way you want, but remember to look past the bunnies and Easter Egg Hunts, and remember, Jesus died to save us all, and His Death and Resurrection are the keys to our salvation in the next life.

The bathtub swimteam

Wednesdays are grandkids day at my house. I pick them up from school, feed them, entertain them for a couple of hours until Mom comes home from her work. We have a whole room full of toys, such as Lego sets, dollhouse, 15 Barbies, Hot Wheels, the room can hardly hold more entertainment. But the big draw at Grandma's house is HER GIANT BATHTUB!

When the late Mr. and I bought this house, it was a "inventory home" (spec house in my vernacular.) We needed a house, needed it soon, wanted something new, and this would do. One of the assets that was pitched to us as we looked it over was the garden tub and separate shower. This was nice, and it is an asset, but not really something I had to have in my bathroom. I had a huge Jaccuzi tub in my former house, and barely used it once a year. It was fun the first couple of times, but it took 20 minutes to fill, and by that time, I was out of the mood. Same with this garden tub.

I must admit, on tired achy days, when I was weary from working outside, or when I was actually moving (I moved into this house before I moved out of the other one), the tub saved my body from complete anguish. I use it occasionally for that purpose. But the real demand for the garden tub is for the grandkids, when they want to take a bath at Grandma's house.

They are still young enough to be bathed together, even though we have a boy and a girl. They want to swim with the plastic fishies I have in the closet, they want bubbles, and if given the chance, they would splash every drop of water out of the tub on to the walls and floor. Grandma says no to that, as the area around the tub isn't exactly kid-proofed! Need to invest in some ceramic tile to reach up to the ceiling to spash-guard the area!

They have the best time in the big bath tub. We have to go through the bathing the dirty parts first, then the play continues. The squealing and splashing got to the adults tonight, so we moved a few feet away but could still watch them. I saw little girl M try to take some swimming strokes in the tub, no sweetie, this isn't Aunt MonkeyGirls swimming pool, this is a bathtub! But they had a grand old time.

So, every time they come to Grandma's, they ask for a bath. Luckily I have a stash of clean undies and PJs, so it helps mom get them ready for bed by the time they go home. And it is fun to see them have such a good time, even if the mop is needed after the swim team is finished with its evening session.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Takin' a break!

Now that I've done my costume job in January, I'm taking a break from costuming for a while. No more until summer, but that is a big one!

I can clean up the sewing room, and it might stay somewhat clean for a few months.

I can get my quilt fat quarters out and start working on 72 Ohio stars for my new quilt for my bed.

I can grade papers at night!

I can play with my grandkids and not have to pawn them off on Aunt MonkeyGirl.

I love to costume for shows, but sometimes you need to take a break. I'll be researching and scouting for bargains for my summer gig, which is "The Producers", which will be a huge show. In the meantime, I'll rest up the sewing machines and my brain, because I'll probably need it this summer.