Friday, December 28, 2012

Signs in China Town

San Francisco’s China Town always feels as if it is a magic portal.  The amazingly low veggie prices, the unusual children’s toys, the savory food with unrecognizable spices. And the signs that probably don’t mean what they say.

Signs from San Francisco’s China town:

Science fiction stories have made a cliche of the ordinary seeming shop that really sells magic.
This seems to be one of them – masquerading as a simple travel agency for geezers.

And this appears to be the sign for a true planned parenthood or baby programming facility – masquerading as a tutoring agency.

Finally, this sign may be for real:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rolling Rolls

I seem to be chief bread-baker in my family.  My older daughter does own an electric bread machine.  Every time I start to wonder if the art of baking bread from scratch will be lost, somebody asks for a lesson.  My niece is now an expert at unkneaded bread loaves.

One of my grand daughters asked me if she could help make rolls.  She thought rolls were just tiny loaves.  

Not the way I make them.  I make butterhorn rolls.

At first my family thinks I don’t know how to cook, because while I use measuring cups, I don’t really measure anything.  I know what texture I want the dough to be.

Approximately, I use: 

1 TBSP active dry yeast a cup and a half of warm water
1/3 cup honey or agave
If I’m in a mood for it, a Tbsp of olive oil.
Anywhere between 1 and 3 tsp salt (depends on mood)
enough flour to make a good bread dough – at least 6 cups -- I use whole wheat. My daughter likes white, so we compromised on white whole wheat.  It looks like white flour, but is supposedly still whole grain.

I combine all this in the mixer.  The dough is still wet. You don’t need a dough hook.

Let the dough rise.  
Beat it down again.
Let it rise again.

Dump it out onto a floured rolling sheet.  I like the silicone ones.

The flour on the rolling sheet is what makes the dough lose its goopy stickiness.

This is the point where my grand daughter became interested.  Having to explain what I’m doing means I have to go off autopilot – and actually think about how I make bread.  Having a helper is actually extra work.  

The last time she helped me bake it was a magic trick in which she made a cake in a hat.  That was magic – no oven involved.  This was cooking.  She already knew about wearing oven gloves.  I like these in silicone, too.

First she got to use the rolling pin to roll out the dough.  No, I don’t think this is why they are called rolls.  I think they are called rolls because they are round and they can roll.

Then I cut the dough like a pizza into triangles.  She got to roll up the triangles, into horns, and put them on cookie sheets.  We had enough dough for two circles, and each circle made 8 triangles, so we had 16 rolls.

We let the dough rise again.  We popped the cookie sheets into the oven, turned the oven on to 350 degrees Farenheit, and waited until they smelled right – about 20 minutes.

Cooking is a matter of texture and smells, and occasional nibbles of raw dough.  Since my grand daughter freaks out at raw eggs, these rolls have no egg. They taste good, so who cares?  

Cooking is a matter of getting something good to eat – the actual ingredients and process can vary. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Breast Cancer Surgical Flow Chart

Click to see larger picture of chart

All the press I’ve read about breast cancer for the past 40 odd years has said, “lumpectomy is the way to go.”  It turns out – often, it’s not.  First of all, if you get a lumpectomy, radiation is part of the package.  That’s weeks and weeks of it – depending on the type you choose, it can be twice a day for 5 weeks or once a day (not counting weekends) for 8 weeks. There are other variations. Radiation damages the lungs. If the lump was on the left, it  can also damage the heart.  I’d never read about radiation – just about breast conservation.

The articles didn’t mention pain levels, but I imagined that the less the surgeon removes, the less pain I’d feel.

Since my lump was on the right, I tried a lumpectomy.  That didn’t get it all. The surgeon offered to try again.  By this point, I was freaking out. I wanted that cancer out of my body. NOW!  So I told her – I want this over with!  We scheduled the mastectomy.

Yes, taking off more of my body does hurt more.

Now that it’s over and I’m healing, and the freak-outs are diminished, I’ve been thinking about what would have made this easier for me.

First, I think every woman should know the standard surgical procedure that will be followed if she has cancer in her breast.  There’s no reason to wait until after a woman is diagnosed with cancer.  One out of eight women will get breast cancer.  If a woman doesn’t get cancer herself, she’s likely to know someone who will.

I made a diagram.  I showed it to my surgeon.  She didn’t have access to women who don’t have cancer.  I showed it to the woman who runs the mammogram center at my local hospital.  She said, “This is a surgical decision.”  I told her women should know the surgical decisions before they face surgery.  She agreed to show it to the head of the surgery department. 

If I’d known the standard surgical flow chart, I could have had only one surgery instead of two. And I wouldn’t have been making quick decisions based on new information.  I’d also like to see a brochure describing radiation options sitting in the mammogram waiting room.  There’s no reason to wait to learn about any of this.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Paper-Training Me

Roar is the poopiest pooch on the planet.  He poops 3 times on an average walk.  The total can be as many as 5.  I’m used to re-using plastic bags to pick up pooch poop, but Roar’s pooping exceeds my bag supply.  I’ve asked dogless neighbors to pitch in with their extra bags.  But still, Roar is one poopy pooch.

Much of so-called dog-training is really human training.  First I had to learn to walk him 3 or 4 times a day so he wouldn’t poop in my house.  Now I had to figure out the best way to pick up his poop.

I remembered seeing Japanese dogs poop onto old newspapers.  I don’t subscribe to any newspapers – I prefer to read on line.  But, I get the free Wednesday paper.  And I get the advertising bundle on Thursdays.   Both of these use colored ink, so I can’t feed them to my worms.  (The worm composting manual, says to feed them black ink newspapers only.)

So, I broke my newspapers and ads into two-sheet stacks, and took a handful out on Roar’s walk, along with one used plastic bag to put the soiled papers into.

The first time, I wasn’t fast enough.  I put the paper down on top of the first deposit, but the rest landed on target.  I had to use the bag to pick up the speedy chunk.  It seems I’m a fast learner.  Or Roar is catching on and slowing down a bit.  Either way, the paper trick works on Roar just as well as on Japanese dogs.

There’s more than one way to recycle a newspaper.  Except now, the poopy papers wind up in the garbage.  They used to go into the paper recycling bucket.  Having a dog raises my carbon footprint no matter how I pick up his poop.  I live in a city. I can’t just kick dirt over it and go on walking.

I am, however, taking the used plastic bags to the bag recycling dump at my local drug store.