Sunday, January 25, 2015

People in my Neighborhood

Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.   ~  Neil Gaiman

There is a certain rhythm in my days. In my neighborhood I've noticed that there are lots of people that are in pretty much the same place in the same time. I don't know them but I wonder about their lives and who they are...

The first person that I noticed was "The Walking Lady" Every Monday through Friday she walks to and from work from Huntington Beach to Santa Ana, at least four miles each way. Her skin is tanned to teak wood and she has silver grey hippie hair. Rain or shine like clockwork, The Walking Lady walks, not in a hurry, but with zen purpose.

One of my favorites is "Jaunty Walker" Every afternoon, with the regularity of a Swiss windup, she powerwalks to the library and back, never varying her route. Even in the hottest weather she wears a dark puffy jacket, her fists pumping like a drum major. She's got swagger.

Most people don't have such exuberance. There is a strange lady that my mind has christened "Fruit Bags".  She wears a hat with her hoodie pulled up and carries an odd assortment of bright vinyl bags that I often see her digging through as she talks to herself.

This huge man who lumbers down to the library everyday pulling a rolling bag. He used to sit on the bench sometimes in the shade at the school across the street until the tree and the bench were removed.

Another favorite is "Bicycle Girl" I used to see her riding her bike everyday up the hill to my son's high school, zooming past the poor kid that was hauling his cello behind him. Bicycle Girl has the most glorious long brown hair that waves behind her like a silk flag. She now rides from a different direction and I wonder if she's going to college. I hope so, perhaps studying bicycle engineering or ballet or literature, thinking about Keats and Kafka as she rides along.

Another wheeled regular on my street is "The Bark Mobile" A tall, bald old man pulls a platform on the back of his bike, with his Australian sheep dog rides on like a parade float. As soon as the cart starts moving the dog gleefully barks its head off, announcing their arrival, a cross between a WWF announcer and a fire truck siren. You can hear them from blocks away.

I often see "Backpack Guy" walking to work each day. I find him most interesting because of the different ways that he carries his backpack, often slung off his forehead like a Sherpa bearer. He always wears a baseball cap.

So those are some of the people in my neighborhood, all living their lives with thoughts and worlds of their own. There are many more, the dog walkers, homeless folks, kids going to school, moms with strollers and cleaning ladies going to and from houses to home. I don't think that they notice me, a dumpy little suburban mom, driving to take care of my mom and running errands every day.

How about you? Who are the people in your neighborhood? Who do you notice?



PS Be Jaunty!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Love is... homemade bread.

One of this week's doodles. I'm finishing up inking a book that is all illustrated in black and white so I did a quick color sketch just to see if I remembered how. :-)

Also in the news... I've been obsessed with learning how to make a great loaf of bread. Last night I had a minor breakthrough. A nice crunchy crust.

The recipe is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I made a sponge of half the flour, yeast, salt and water the night before, then added the rest of the flour and salt the next day.

I flattened the dough like focaccia and dusted the top with fresh rosemary, salt and lashings of olive oil. Then baked the loaf in my new red enamel braiser with the lid on for about twenty minutes at 400 to steam the crust, then finished the baking at 375 with the lid off for another twenty minutes or so.

The bread came out more than decent. The crust had a nice amount of crunch and the inside had a marvelous chewy flavor. I didn't get a very good photo of the finished loaf, we were too busy eating it. The leftover half is going to be bruschetta tonight.

Doing the double kneading was pretty labor intensive and made a fuss of a mess. Next I'm going to try doing a one step version and see if I get similar results.

Back to inking,



It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. 
That's what human life is all about-enjoying things.
~ Julia Child

Sunday, January 4, 2015

In My Kitchen - January 2015

My lovely friend Celia in Australia has the best food blog ever, She calls me my mate "Maz" and inspires me to cook more for my family.

Every month she links to posts about "In My Kitchen" and what people all over the world are eating. Here's what's going on in Casa Aguas.

The mencats where on vacation for the holidays so we ate a lot of leisurely breakfasts like "Eggs in a Nest".

 I received so many lovely presents. My brother and sister-in-law gave us gift certificates to Barnes and Noble. (yay!) so I bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I'd seen the movie, Julie and Julia a couple of years ago and been curious about it. I've cooked several recipes out it already and they're honestly not as hard as I thought they were going to be. Her instructions on how to cook broccoli are perfect.

Most of the ingredients are pretty standard, there's no chia seeds, star fruit or gluten free flour needed and yes, there is a lot of butter involved. But Julia is up front in the foreword that this cookbook is for people who "can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children's meals... or anything else that might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat."

Christmas morning I found this Le Crueset braiser under the tree. I love it like Gollum likes rings. It works a treat and goes right from burner to stove. It weighs a ton but I don't care.

 I used it to make braised short ribs for the mencats.

 My awesome hub also got me silpat muffin tins.  It worked great on homemade poppyseed rolls. They fell right out of the pan, no sticking.

Today, in getting ready for everyone going back to school and work tomorrow I made Almond Oat Bars. The original recipe called for apricot jam but I didn't have any so I made them with raspberry instead.

My original intention was to make a healthy breakfast thing for January. This isn't quite that but they are dang tasty and easy to make.

So that's what's in my kitchen, how about you?


Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
~ Harriet Van Horne

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Wishes

Neil Gaiman's lovely "New Year's Wish" 
Art by me.

What are you hoping for the new year ahead?

Best thoughts, Marilyn.

“Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It’s too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them.

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.”

—Neil Gaiman