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Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

 
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Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

On this rainy day my older son, Roy, 9, baked his first cupcakes. Gathered round the kitchen table, Leo, 7, read his book, John read the paper and I read my magazine while remaining available for troubleshooting. Roy measured, mixed and decanted batter and frosting. We lit a fire, turned on baking tunes and all the while Buddy trolled for spats on the floor. 

So much coziness while the rain pelted down for hours. We ate the cupcakes, which Roy decorated with bits of black licorice and mini marshmallows layered into two kinds of handmade frosting, chocolate and vanilla. They were decadent-sweet for our family, but a fun treat. Even more satisfying was the vision of the five of us around the table enjoying the gift of Roy's inspired baking (Buddy stared up at us from his nearby bed, enthralled as he always is when we eat). Leo's cheeks dimpled with his happy cupcake smile and Roy was proud as he watched the chubby rounds disappear. We saved one to deliver to Grandpa Bill, which is what Roy and Leo are doing now.

I thought back on other favorite rainy days- including some of the wild rain adventures of my younger life- and today is one of the best. I adore this day!


 
Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

 

Where did January go?!

"Welcome 2010!" is old news by now but I continue to welcome it anyway. I also welcomed some happy news about my knee last week. An orthopedic surgeon at Kaiser informed me that I have no evidence of a rip or tear; my right knee has a "pre-arthritic condition." Most likely brought on by playing too hard. But it has so improved over the last six months that I'm apparently taking good care of it. My swelling is gone. Gone! My range of movement is greatly increased. He said it's even possible that I had a minute tear that didn't show up on the MRI and it healed on its own in the meantime. But there are pre-arthritic changes, so I need to take good care of my dear knees. No running/high impact/jumping, etc. He was impressed with the improvement, though, and no need for surgery. Not for many years, or perhaps never! I was one happy mama when I left that office, practically skipping, I tell you. 

Best of all: I hiked Cowles Mountain again with no difficulty. Yay! We had storming rains for many days and afterwards the waterfall (we can see it from our front door) was rushing. It was too irresistible; I had to try hiking up. I decided to play it safe and return at the mid-point loop, but next time I may to all the way to the summit. I wasn't sure if I would ever get up there again, so it was quite the sweet celebration. The waterfall is such a rarity here in our dry East County landscape- I'm elated that I was able to hike up that day. 

So instead of high-impact aerobics I now do Tai Chi (beautiful form of midlife dance!) and yoga and Buddy is such a happy dog; lots of walks! It all feels good. I also take Zyflamend, an herbal anti-inflammatory.  

Why Cheese and Bees, Please? Well, because I still adore cheese. I don't eat a lot of it, but I have fond memories of it when I'm not eating it. About a week ago, I had a delectable roasted pecan/pear/arugula salad with bleu cheese crumbled on top. Just the right amount of cheese. Not too much. And God forbid, not too little! At ClaimJumper with Roy to celebrate his Good Citizen award. So proud of him! Proud of Leo, too, who received 4 out of 6 smileys today. Sweet pies, the two of them. 

Why Bees, though? I planted Sweet Peas, arugula and kale, and I'm visualizing happy bees in the vicinity to help all grow well. Please.