Monday, February 04, 2013

72 Hours

Part One - Making Tamales

I used to think that make lasagna from scratch was time intensive.  I have now learned that making tamales from scratch makes building lasagna layers a stroll through the park.  There is meat prep, sauce prep, prepping the assembly area, assembling itself and the steaming for two hours and then the cooling.  Who knew?  Well, every Mexican member of mi familia apparently, and I joined this knowledgeable group this past week.  The tail end of all the lead up preparations happened on Friday starting at 6 a.m. and was going strong until midnight.  The end results - Muy bueno!

Making the Sauce

Many Hands Make Light Work

The End Results Ready for the Steaming Pans

Part Two - On the Road to Santa Rose and a visit with two long-time friends

When Elaine got a job in San Francisco (thank you, God) my long-time good friend, my companion in backroad adventuring, moved to the East Bay.  There is a small coastal range between us now and planning a get-together is just that - PLANNED.  So, when Lea and I arranged a visit after 3-4 years between our last visit, it was the perfect time to stop in and see Elaine on the way.

Elaine is here with her good friend, John.  She probably would not thank me for posting this collage but I just love these pictures.  She is so happy and relaxed.  Through my eyes of friendship, she has not looked so beautiful in all the time I have known her.  She is settle in a terrific job, her apartment is a dream place, and John is one of the nicest men and clearly adores her.  No question - this is a combination to make a woman glow.

The road to Santa Rose leads us through protected wetlands and across the Napa River.  It's a relaxing drive taking us up 101 North passed Vallejo and Petaluma.  

Part Three - An overnight in Santa Rosa at Lea's house.

At last!  We make it to Santa Rosa.  We settled our stuff into the basement/studio (which is sort of like calling the attic a loft),  and so began a marathon siege of talking, catching up, and in the case of Lea and Krista, getting to know you's.    In no particular order, here is a photo essay of our weekend visit.

We lunched at Spinster Sisters. We laughed our way through our meal of kale salad and an omelette filled with mushrooms, two kinds of squash, and lots of other veggies.  We indulged in banana/butterscotch pie, coconut tapioca pudding, and chocolate chocolate something or another that was to die for.  The coffee was strong and flavorful and rich.  The waitress was adorable.  No other word for it.  It was Superbowl Sunday and we were the only people in there.  She enjoyed the fun at our table as much as we did.  

It would be hard to say what my favorite room in Lea's home is but  after serious consideration, I have to say that it is the kitchen.  It is small and old-fashion but has absolutely everything a cook needs to make a great meal and have fun doing it.   She has a fabulous expresso machine that was actually Milt's and when Milt was with us NO ONE could touch that machine except him and that included Lea.  As he reached the end of his journey in this life, Lea became familiar with the machine as she helped him continue his expresso making art.  Here's to you, Milt, and a great latte.

Saturday night had the three of us being thoroughly foolish and goofy as we enjoyed Sangria made from red wine (what else!!?) and orange and lemon Italian sodas.  The BEST Sangria ever.  By the time we sat for dinner, we were all working on our third or fourth glass.  We were so silly and the giggling never stopped.  Kris and I slept very well in the "basement" later that night.

Outside of the kitchen, Lea's house is a wonderland of beauty.  Here's just a tiny bit of it.

Lea is first and primarily a labyrinth designers.  She is known nationwide and perhaps worldwide too.  Funny, I never asked and Lea, being a modest soul, never has said anything about it.  She is a well-known local artist known for her masks and gourd art as well as being a first rate painter.  She also has a strong flair for the whimsical and creates the most delightful fairies and elfin creatures.  When she's not at work creating, she is teaching classes and workshops in her studio.

And what would a trip with me be if I didn't have a church or two to share with you.  In this case, we have Fr. Sumpter above blessing the throats of the Faithful  in celebration of St. Blaise's feast day.  St. Blaise is the patron saint of throat health.  The grounds of St. Eugene's Cathedral (the seat of the Diocese of Santa Rosa were lovely and peaceful, offering quiet places to sit and be still.  There was also a gift shop and of course, I didn't get out of there without finding a cross to add to my collection and a book on the Novena and Prayers of St. Benedict.

The two central pictures above are of the old St. Rose of Lima Church.  Sadly this old church was badly damages in the 1969 earthquake and the restoration design did little to restore the old beauty and, in fact, access to the old church is now block.  Very disappointing.

Part Four - And Finally . . .

Have you heard of Little Free Libraries?   I've been enjoying reading of them for a couple of years now and in fact, want one in front of our house very badly.  I've never mentioned this to Krista or Don so imagine my surprise when Lea brought me to one.  She had just discovered it herself and knew instantly it was something that I would want to see.  

This is one of my serious daydreams.  A free library in front of my house would be filled with books from me to give to the world.  The people taking books would also leave books so there would be an endless supply of titles cycling through the little house.

What a sweet visit it was.  My next visit will not have a 3-4 year  break from this one.  Kris was so touched by meeting Lea that she plans to take Adrian for a visit.  When you have this sort of treasure in your life, you have to share the wealth.  For those of you who do not know Lea, I hope this has revealed a bit of her to you.


Ginny said...

I love the collage of Elaine and John. And her beautiful yet simple centerpiece. Also your road shots. There is something very stark, yet yearning about them. Her house looks like a wonderland!

Annie said...

I was actually visiting at Lea's house after visiting with Elaine and John, Ginny.

Carlos Echevarria said...

Thank you for sharing, especially the church in Eugene.

Pam said...

A lovely post Annie - So enjoyable to see more of your country, family and friends.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Sounds wonderful!

Annie said...

The church isn't in Eugene, OR, Carlos. It's St. Eugene's in Santa Rosa, CA. You sure have Oregon on your mind. LOL

Janet said...

You've had a fun-filled few days! I enjoyed seeing all your photos and hearing about your friends...but mostly I am drooling over all the food and drink you mentioned!!

Norma Ruttan said...

oh, what a wondrous joy for you to share with us! I am almost envious of your time with Lea. Notice, I said almost; I do not want a serious sin on my soul. I am so happy to see all the fun and happiness in everyone's face. God blessed you with such a tender heart.
blessed be

Annmarie Pipa said...

what an eventful and fun days...good for you. you take great pictures!

foxysue said...

I didn't know you were visiting Lea! You three looked so happy, would love to have shared the sangria! x

see you there! said...

This is all so familiar I almost feel I took the trip with you. I love tamales but buy handmade ones locally, have spent many days in Petaluma and have actually seen some of Leah's work - maybe on her blog or on one called Ullabenulla - another local artist.


sandy said...

what a great post and filled with so many good photos to see along the way of reading. And how great that Lea designs labyrinths... and let me remember, - oh those tamales - look great. I only discovered that I loved tamales this last year.

I love the idea of the libraries.

And by the way, I'm jealous that you had a trip up the 101. I can't wait to go in March - we are visiting my oldest son and going to watch my grandkids for the weekend. They are in Mill Valley. From there we will go spend a night in Napa and then maybe back down the coast to my sister's in SLO.

I'm feeling the need for a trip off the mountain for a few days to see different scenery.

Really enjoyed this post Annie.

judie said...

Obviously you had a WONDERFUL time and I'm happy for you. I don't think I could ever make tamales. I am too impatient. Maybe if I had a large family cooking would be more fun. I can't even wait for the microwave to finish sometimes! I've been to Petaluma. Stayed there for a couple of weeks once. Loved that little town. Went to Mendocino while I was there. Loved that place too. Who wouldn't? Take care Mz. Annie.

gma said...

Hi Annie...Looks like you had a fantastic weekend. Making tamales is a chore....but so worth it. YUM. Visiting your friends sounds like fun too. Lea does Haiku my heart with us right? She seems like a wonderful mellow person.
As for me...stayed home all week long. Didn't go any place last week either. OH well. LOL. Life is good!!:-)

turquoise cro said...

What FUN!!! Tamales, churches, free libraries and the most important, sharing TIME with SWEET friends!! Wish postal rates were low, I would have loved your bike!!! My week-end was getting last minute things out of my mom and dad's homeplace. Monday, signed papers for new owners out to my childhood homeplace and I'll miss the HILL the most! SAD and relief at the same time. An empty house has to have life inside! They are a young couple with a two year old little girl and a baby on the way! I fantasized maybe one day I could walk upon the HILL with the little girl! Sending good vibes to YOU!

Jeanie said...

Hi, Annie, I am so behind with blogs -- hardly on the computer except at work. But I feel like I really have caught up just with this one post! The tamales sound great and all your photos are terrific! Very fun.

judie said...

Annie, THANKS for recognizing Angelica!!