Everything Is Sweet

So says my daughter-in-law, Yume.

She moved to the states from Japan four years ago, in time to marry my oldest son, Lance. They are quite the couple. They have added another member to the family in the form of their son, Ewan. Lots of people say this about their grandchildren, that they are so cute, and smart (ad nauseum) but my claim happens to be accurate. Ewan is the embodiment of cute factor and sharp brain function.

Yume and Lance decided to go for #2. Another baby is on the way for an appearance in late May/early June.

Discomfort. This is all Yume knows at this point. Giant waves of morning sickness. When they arrived for Christmas, I had arranged cookies in two plates where they sat on the dining table. Sweets make Yume sick. Okay, I blew that one. In fact, Lance shared with me that Yume is finished with the American diet. Sick of all the sweet food. Everything Americans eat is laden with sugar. So it seems to her. And I don’t argue with that. I have had a Taiwanese student and three Chinese students echo the sentiment.

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind (no small feat) to prepare (and I cook three dishes a year) my favorite. Tortilla soup. Yume enjoyed the departure from sweet.

Being that my foray into the kitchen to actually cook something is a monumental occurrence, I was happy to provide a dish Yume could savor without the requisite American component. Tortilla soup does not come sweet.


A Warning

Driving home from work. Going 80 on the freeway. The familiar lights on the car immediately behind me did not bode well. I pulled over and began to retrieve the insurance verification and the car registration from my glove box. The officer stepped up to the passenger side of my car and knocked on the window.

“Yes, officer?” He asked, “Didn’t you see me driving beside you?” It was 8:00 in the evening and dark. I explained to him that I tend to drive facing straight ahead turning my head only while making lane changes. So, no, I didn’t notice him to my left.

“I drive beside motorists as a warning, usually the motorist slows down when they see me.” Okay, officer, but I have already explained the method with which I drive…and I was listening to Roy Orbison…really loud.

The admonition was clear. Slow down, Cyndi. Before I went on my way and he went on his, the officer left me with one more word of warning. He mentioned that had he been highway patrol (he represented City of Oakley police) I would have been slapped with a $865 fine. I was let go with a warning. Merry Christmas.




She works at Nordstrom Rack, Dublin, CA. We met as I stood near the check-out with my sole purchase-to-be, a pair of black boots. I am proud of my thrifty ways although this may sound contradictory considering what Nordstrom is known for. Well, this is the Rack. Supposedly a step down, or two, from the full-fledged, in-your-face, outrageously-priced-items, parent store, Nordstrom. Problem is, the Rack still has $500 sweaters and $1,000 coats. I combed the shoe department for something under $50. I am a sleuth. There in the size 7 1/2 aisle were the boots that would become mine. Just three cents short of a fifty-dollar bill. I did not, however, come equipped with cash.

Enter Trina. She approached me saying, “Are you ready to check out?” Uh, yes. I am not sure where she came from because she certainly wasn’t behind the counter with the other clerks. She showed me her little piece of technology. “This is brand new and I am not certain I can use it correctly but they are telling us to get out there and use it.” The little black device was like a miniature computer. Trina took my debit card, inserted it like a chip (see, Chip Chip Hooray) and proceeded with the transaction. I never had to set foot in line at the checkout!

But the best part of my interaction with Trina came as we talked about the crazy Bay Area traffic. She lives in Castro Valley. This was the segue for her next statement. “I travel to Boston every summer and stay with my folks.” I told her I had traveled to Alexandria, VA, Washington D.C., and New York City, but never Boston. Trina made the comment that Boston was a smaller version of NYC. I’m there. “Come with me to Boston next Summer,” she offered. Nine minutes had elapsed since the conversation began, and here I was, nearly packing my bags for a Boston vacation! Trina handed me a slip of paper with her contact information written down.

As I began to walk away I thanked her for the invite. I told her I would call. She asked me to call her soon…we would go for a cup of coffee. Could it be the season? Fa, la, la, la, la and all that? No, that’s December. Hmm, what could be attributed to this magnificent stroke of luck? The giddiness of walking out with a bag displaying the Nordstrom Rack logo? Nooo. This amazing meeting with the clerk at the Rack. Her friendliness beyond any I have experienced. Could she have come from the same training facility that my friend Bonnie (see, Portland) came from?

This is how we roll at Nordstrom Rack. My new shoes tucked under my arm. My new friend, poised for coffee. And the prospect of visiting a place called Boston.








Coffee Evolution

In my youth the coffee pot was passed around among the adults. This is why I always viewed the beverage as hands-off to me. Grown-up stuff. It never occurred to me to help myself to a cup.

When I was 32 I joined my husband on an overnight trip while he attended a conference. The boys and I traveled together. Since I had not discovered the value of coffee up till that time, imagine my surprise as I took my very early morning constitutional through the hotel hallway during the wee hours.

Situated there in the main hall was a coffee cart with all the accoutrements. Smelled wonderful. Clock indicated it was 2:30 a.m. Since I couldn’t get back to sleep, the coffee cup, creamer, sugar, and coffee itself, spoke to me. Lots of sugar and creamer because I was a newbie after all.

Well, that was thirty years ago. Coffee has evolved and so have I. Currently, because it is still summer, I indulge in three servings of ice coffee daily. My doctor will certainly ask me how much caffeine I am taking in…I will answer truthfully and wait for his stern expression.

I so enjoy my coffee laced with Safeway’s house brand, Lucerne Vanilla AlmondMilk. Aside from adding hazelnut ground coffee to the regular, I don’t mess around. No Starbucks for me. No Peet’s.

I will say that an amazing 26 year-old Japanese woman, on homestay with me, ¬† ¬† proved to be the navigational/coffee wizard of all time. She and I took to the streets of San Francisco. She had researched two generic coffee houses there in the city. Her goal was for us to stop by these two locations and take pictures. We followed her magical phone directions and arrived at the two caffeine venues. When I asked her why these coffee houses, she simply responded, “The ambience.” And, neither of us ordered coffee.

So, I come full circle. I was introduced at 32. I have gone through different evolutions. Hotel blend. Instant coffee. Folgers. Cappuccino. Espresso (too strong).

Neither of my adult sons, 32 & 36 years of age, drinks coffee. I suppose they are waiting for their hotel cue.

A Thing Of Beauty Is A Joy Forever

Last night no joy.

A big rig on the bridge in Rio Vista, CA, was managed by a driver (otherwise known as moron) with poor ability to steer the monster truck. The bridge spans the river that Rio Vista is known for. The river possesses natural beauty, the big rig does not.

Haven’t heard what the probable cause was for the driver’s lack of judgment. Cell phone in his hand? Eating? Looked away from the road for too long? I am sure the highway patrol have the timeline down. I was visited by more than one official at the site on the bridge where the calamity took place. A fireman and a highway patrolman, no, make that two highway patrol. One was a female officer and she offered the most questions and received the most feedback from me.

The “snafu” tied up traffic for more than three hours. Somebody pointed out that the driver directly behind me — who hit my car, may have been a fatality. A total of five cars were involved in the melee. My husband, whom I reached at his workplace and who arrived on the scene an hour after impact made it clear that the particular car behind me was so smashed in such a way as to take on the appearance of an accordion.

I am aware of the fact that car accidents take place every day. Always distressing. Some fatalities. The truck driver will now face the loss of his job, his license, and perhaps his wife, his house and his dog…one can only hope. Truck drivers are plentiful and they need to drive on another planet. They are building roads on Neptune.

Last night no beauty…no joy…no joy.



And let’s get this out of the way. White chocolate is a misnomer. It is not chocolate at all. It tastes just like the imposter it is. Nasty.

Okay, so we have milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Baking cocoa to do with what the name implies. Chocolate syrup of various consistencies and quality. And, now the nitty gritty. See’s outranks every other confectionary. Godiva? Too pretentious and expensive. Ghirardelli? Despite the tie to San Francisco, ordinary. We can dismiss Hershey bars as being waxy and tasteless. Those cute little Hershey’s bars that are trotted out at Halloween? I will pass. I used to eat M&Ms because it felt as though I wasn’t indulging — they are so small, what possible harm could come? I will concede there are two chocolate bars I can endorse. Toblerone. It’s Swiss. The best bar next to Cadbury milk. These bars are creamy, and for whatever reason, they do not come off as sickeningly sweet.

Gas station mini marts are laden with sweets of all types. I have yielded to temptation on a couple occasions. Unfortunately, the variety offered at these stop-overs is not the quality I am searching for. No See’s.

But, a sweet coincidence has been discovered. A consignment store that I have located in the city of Davis, CA offers a dual motivation to shop there. Among their vast selection of housewares, games/toys and clothing items* is a welcome surprise. A ¬†variety of boxed and wrapped See’s is available for purchase and proceeds go to mental health organizations.

Mental health and chocolates. Maybe chocolates insure mental health.

*I walked away with a gorgeous, winter-white Calvin Klein sweater dress that will serve as my party outfit for my husband’s birthday in November, a coral skirt and a pair of cute shoes from Spain.