A smidge of cow

Living Spaces
Monrovia, California

Posted by: cassymuronaka | January 8, 2014

I wouldn’t have chosen this name, but hey, if it works for you

Rot Room, 2013


California Science Center
Los Angeles, California

Posted by: cassymuronaka | January 1, 2014

Massaging the persimmons

persimmons hanging

After spending a couple of weeks drying a lot of our Japanese Fuyus in a dehydrator, I now am hanging them to dry in the traditional Japanese way.

Ours is a happy tree and it had a happy year, so there is a a lot of fruit.  I’ve have had to get creative in dealing with the harvest. We gave a lot of it away, mostly the fresh stuff. A few select people who would understand the effort of cutting up and dehydrating 10,000 Fuyus received the gift of dried persimmons.

I discovered a few years ago that dried Fuyus taste like fresh dates.  I’m fairly indifferent to fresh persimmons but I love dried dates. I passed my big discovery along to some friends, along with some dehydrated persimmons.  Everyone who has tried the Fuyus agrees that dried Fuyus taste like dates that arrived straight from Indio.

So now I’m on to new drying techniques.  Or rather, one very old one. I skinned and hung about 17 persimmons on Friday night, after I stole the towel rack out of my husband’s bathroom. For the “sunny spot” the drying instruction requires, I pushed my couch out from the big front window, where the sun hits the hardest. Now the whole neighborhood can watch the show being put on by the demented woman hanging fruit in her living room.

After leaving the persimmons alone for a week, I am supposed to start giving them little massages to get the sugar moving.

I would imagine that there are people in Japan who spend years learning how to give the right massage — the fruit version of sushi chef training — but my persimmons are getting the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants American rub-down. Loving, but possibly very clumsy and inaccurate.

I thought I was done after hanging those 17 persimmons in the front window, but we still have persimmons.

I went back and looked at the traditional Japanese drying instructions.  I read that if a persimmon tree branch is unusable for hanging (or your husband went crazy tightly clipping all the persimmons off the tree close to their bases), you can simply add a screw to the top of the fruit, thereby creating your own metal “branch.”

persimmon with screw

I have successfully done this with two persimmons.  And now it is going be my New Year’s Day past-time, along with Round Two of getting ready for taxes, and watching my TiVoed Rose Parade.

Posted by: cassymuronaka | December 19, 2013

Great sunset + Christmas lights = good photos

Christmas lights on St. Alban's, vertical
St. Alban’s Avenue in San Marino, home of the giant decorated deodar trees
December 2013

St. Albans christmas lights

After sunset

Posted by: cassymuronaka | December 18, 2013

Polite pays off

It doesn’t say much for Americans that there is a negative, rather than a positive spin, to all the articles and blogging I see on a little cafe in France that rewards etiquette.

La Petit Syrah in Nice, France charges  less if a customers asks in a polite way for coffee or latte.  And if you are very very polite, you pay even less. And this is clearly posted in a blackboard.

La Petit Sarah

Say what you will about the alleged rudeness of the French, but I don’t see any restaurants in the United States with signs like this.

I am not the only old fart who sees etiquette as a lost art.  It is very strange that Baby Boomers whose manners were pounded into them within an inch of their life (or so it seemed when I was 10-years-old) have not managed to leave the me-me-me 1980s mentality behind when it comes to their own children.

Because I had a child late — I was almost 40 — I had a great deal of time before that to watch my peers indulge for typical toddler crimes (tantrums, conversation domination, violence to younger siblings) which would have caused my mother or father to send me to my room for life.

When we decided to have a child, my husband and I promised each other than no matter how many stumbles we made as parents,  instilling etiquette in our son would not be one of them. We had both just too many bad experiences with otherwise normal friends who produced offspring and then had gone and lost their minds when it came to disciplining them. And we had been in too many supermarkets and department stores where children screamed or ran wild throwing clothing or toys all over the place.

My husband has told me that his parents actually added a wall in front of the stairs leading from the second level to the first level of his family home — where the living room was located — because his parents wanted to keep the children seen and not heard when his mother and father hosted company. This always seemed a little extreme to me, but the Japanese are freaks for politeness and, then again, I don’t go to friends’ houses to end up as a captive audience for Small and Cute when I think I am arriving at a party with adults.

My favorite memory of Boomer parental delusion is at an evening party when the firstborn of the hosts came out in her pretty little pink dress and spent more than an hour singing, dancing  and monologuing in a circle of paralyzed adults. She adored being the center of attention, which is what most five-year-olds want, of course.

The parents thought this was just terrific.  In fact, when the little girl finally paused for breath, the mother turned to me with a huge smile and said, “M—- is just so intelligent.  She gets bored so easily.”

A giant lightbulb went off in my head when I heard this.  I had been wondering for years how parents rationalized their ill-behaved children.  Suddenly, I had my explanation: The children were so bright that they needed the mental stimulation of performing for adults and never being disciplined for anything that came out of their mouths or off their tiny little fists.

M—- was a perfectly nice little girl who just needed her parents to yank the chain back and put her to bed. However, there is no doubt in my mind that while she probably is brighter than many in her generation, she also is one of the ones who texts endlessly in the middle of dinners in restaurants and has long, loud conversations on that same cell phone in the waiting room of doctor’s offices.

Posted by: cassymuronaka | December 17, 2013

As opposed to, say, Dead! Dead!

Alive! Alive!

Costco Pharmacy department
City of Industry

Posted by: cassymuronaka | December 16, 2013

Recycling for fashionistas

Sarong to scarf

Along with a lonely chafing dish that lives in my kitchen, I also have a sewing machine that slumbers most of the time in a dark recess of a linen closet.

The sewing  machine actually does get pulled out occasionally. because I sew a fairly capable straight line, but that’s about it.  And since my son hit six feet, I don’t have to shorten and hem pants for him any longer.

Right now I am all about lightweight California scarves, and they are one of those articles of clothing that should not be priced higher than $20 max unless they are made of pashmina, which is Nepalese goat cashmere. The average high altitude goat produces 3-6 oz. of fur during its annual shed, and this fur is six times finer than human hair, so I guess two fins isn’t going to get me a pashmina scarf any time soon.

But my scarf collection is limited and needs expanding.  Rooting around in a couple of dresser drawers whose contents I have been trying to shrink turned up three sarongs made of rayon.

These were gifts from my mother-in-law and her sister-in-law when they traveled to Bali and Indonesia.

I have had about as much use for sarongs as I have had for a chafing dish over the years.  But I took a long look at these things and realized that they were basically made of the same soft “viscose” material that Nordstrom was selling in scarf form, and which I had recently purchased (hypocritically, for $32).

The cards attached to these stiff sarongs said they were made of “rayon.” Well, Wikipedia said, viscose is the same damn thing as rayon.  The word ” rayon” is totally uncool today. And it’s known as being somewhat, uh, flammable. But if it’s made of viscose, well, that’s  all right.

So I threw the sarongs in the washing machine with a ton of fabric softener, then dried them with twice the amount of softener sheets one carelessly throws into the dryer. Voilà, soft viscose!

Cutting scarves out of them was not quite as easy as going wild and crazy with fabric softener, but three days, two pairs of scissors, one rotary pair of scissors, one metal yardstick, one long cut-healing cutting board, and one trip to Joann Fabric to get bobbins and matching thread later ……. I had made three very fashionable scarves.

I also had left scores of ribbon ribbon strips and cut thread ends all over my dining room floor.

I already knew I was keeping the turquoise one with shells and fishies on it. My son grabbed the black and white infinity scarf, and I still have one black, white and gray Hawaiian-ish themed cowl with an as-yet undefined Christmas recipient in mind.

All I need to remember now is to stay away from active fireplaces.

Posted by: cassymuronaka | December 15, 2013

Jingle hell on the road

Christmas tree, South Coast Plaza
Yesterday, in a clear effort to shop early until they dropped early, the better part of the populations of Los Angeles and Orange counties tore into the California freeways on a direct path to the malls of Southern California.
And all I have to say about that is: Get thee online to Amazon if thou hast not completely purchased at least half of thy Christmas shopping.
The day had begun as it ended: with traffic. I received a 911-get-me-off-this-freeway cell phone call from my sister, who was trying to navigate the always predictable 405 freeway, which  was blocked up like an old man who needs to eat more vegetables. Disaster was averted, with instructions to make a quick slide over to the ancient but relatively uncrowded Long Beach Freeway. Eventually, arms linked, my mother, sister and I blew into Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza Mall this morning well before the hordes.

Savorski Crystal Store

Roberto Cavalli 2Roses, Savorski store

Fortunately, our second biggest trauma during the day was finding a restaurant without a long line for lunch.

Around 4:30 pm, we were done.  The decorations were pretty, the sales people still were in a good mood; it was time to go. We had ooohed and ahhhhed at the Saworski store crytstals and laughed at a lot of window displays.  My sister — an entertainment lawyer — actually bought something at Tiffany’s with a gift certificate.

Stevie Nicks stocking m

During the last 45 minutes before we hit that Mall Wall of exhaustion, a tidal wave of soccer moms and people who got a late start on the day began to wash over South Coast Plaza’s floors. A huge proportion of these people were pushing deadly, fast-moving strollers, containing toddlers who had been thoughtfully armed with giant balloons filled with blinking LED lights.

At 5 pm today, there was no advice to be had on circumventing the Not-Pulsing-at-All labyrinth of roadways in Los Angeles and Orange counties.  It was Merry Gridlock.

I didn’t even clock how long it took me to return my mother to Pasadena and find my own way home.

Still….. it was a good day.  We didn’t buy much, but knew in our hearts we really weren’t there to shop.  It’s all about the Christmas decorations and window displays for people who know and love Amazon and internet shopping.Sydney Opera House, Lego Store

Tina and shampoo

Tina Fey,
Garnier Fructis television Shampoo advertisement

Posted by: cassymuronaka | December 13, 2013

Boo Radley’s persimmon tree

Boo Radley's persimmon tree 1

December 13, 2013
Not Georgia, but who’s counting?

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