MATILIJA POPPY

MATILIJA POPPY
The "Egg Yolk" Flower

Friday, June 26, 2015

To My Beloved Friends - June 26, 2015



I want to share your happiness, 
And help to ease your pain,
If you are troubled, talk to me,
Until we meet again.

Don't think I'm just a good time friend,
I'm with you all the way.
Whether sunlight greets your morning,
Or storms obliterate the day.

Burdens are too heavy,
When shouldered all alone,
If we cannot see each other,
I am waiting by the phone.

Fate brought us together,
Or destiny Divine,
Our bond will be forever,
Dearest friends of mine.

Carmen Henesy

Copyright (c) 2015 by Carmen Henesy
All rights reserved. 


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Creative Fashion India - June 18, 2015

One of the joys about returning to India is, of course, visiting old friends.  In Jaipur, that means a visit - or several, to Creative Fashion India.  When I lived in Jaipur for six months, my rickshaw driver, Ikram, brought me here when I was in search of reasonably priced Indian fashions.  I gained more than a few outfits, I made lasting friends in the Jain family that own and operate this small business that manufactures and exports Indian textiles. From the patriarch, Raj Kumar, to his sons, Anuj and Manoj, all are equally helpful in seeing that you choose the perfect outfit for any occasion.  The shop also carries beautiful bed linens, pashmina shawls and other treasures of India.

I don't just come to shop, though.  I delight in the good company and conversation which is never lacking.  Anuj makes it clear that I don't need to buy anything.  Masala chai is served and we have discussions about Hinduism, life in the USA, arranged marriage or whatever is on my mind.  

I missed visiting Jaipur the last two times I was in India so we had a lot of catching up to do.  I would like to live here again.  It is a wonderful city, made more familiar to many because of the film, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

If you are ever in Jaipur, by all means, you must visit here:


Creative Fashion India
1-B Kabir Marg, Banipark
Jaipur, Rajasthan
Telephone:  5110072
email:  onerajkumar@rediffmail.om


With Anuj Jain


With Manoj Jain


With Raj Kumar Jain


Happy with my new outfit







Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cafe Mangii, Khar West, Mumbai, Maharastra, India - June 9, 2015

My dear friend, Shiju Sugunan, is always an inspiration to me.  We met via the blogging world and, during my first long stay in India, he was a mentor in so many ways.  When he invited me to visit his home in Bangalore, though we had never met, I was thrilled to go.  Shiju, his wife, Manju, his parents and his son, Nishu, made me most welcome.  His profession is in the IT industry but he is a photography blogger of extraordinary talent.  I am always in awe of his work and you will be, as well, if you check out "Cranium Bolts."

Shiju has become quite impressive with his photographic presentations in the gastronomic realm.  Recently, his pictorial essay of the Summer Festival at Cafe Mangii in Bangalore, was most tantalizing.  Being a foodie myself and, starving as I viewed the post, I immediately called him to convey my approval.  He told me that there was a Cafe Mangii in Khar, only about two kilometers from my Mumbai residence.  Being an advocate of immediate gratification - - after all, I am seventy and I don't know how many exceptional meals remain for me!! ), I picked up the phone and made a reservation for two nights later.

When I arrived at Cafe Mangii at 7PM ( early for Mumbai dining ), I was the only guest in the restaurant.  Fine, since I wanted to take photos, not that I would have been intimidated.  It was a relief to get out of the chaos of rush hour traffic into the cool interior!



Outdoor sign, announcing the "Summer Festival"


Cafe Mangii, Khar, at 7PM on a Thursday night in early June

I perused both the regular menu and the Summer Festival menu, amazed at the huge selection of choices, from fondue to pizzas to several different fish to a selection of pastas and, if decision making weren't already difficult enough, you can opt to have breakfast until 6PM!

Also, the bar selections are many and varied with a wine list reflecting India, France, Spain, and Australia.  There were no wines from the United States.  An excellent selection of liquors was available and there were speciality cocktails on the menu.  I chose a mango margarita from the Summer Festival menu and it was refreshingly cool and slushy with mango...a delectable way to beat the high Mumbai temperatures!

Small bar area that puts out great cocktails


 
A great use of India's mango crop


Since I was dining alone, I could not order the extensive array of dishes that Shiju Sugunan shared with his wife, Manju.  As a retired nurse, I've tried to become a bit more conservative though there was a time, traveling with a small group of my forensic nurse friends, we could do ample justice to any menu!

To start my culinary adventure, I chose a mango and calamari salad with mixed greens.  The chef kindly accommodated my request that arugula be part of those greens and the salad, was as delicious as I had anticipated.  The spicy pepperiness of the arugula, with the sweet bits of mango, and the flavorful calamari in the vinegary dressing were perfection.  I could have eaten two.




My next dish was consumed in a flash, in spite of the fact that it was so beautiful.  Light as a feather, thin, fried zucchini slices were arranged on lebneh to resemble a flower.  It tasted just as good as it looked.





Instead of a main course ( I was already more than full! ), I chose another appetizer, the "Pina Colada" Chicken, skewered white meat chicken fried with a batter and dipped in coconut, served with a pineapple coconut sauce.  I, personally, would have enjoyed this more had it not been skewered and if it were dark meat.  That's just my preference.




As I was eating and, busily, taking photographs, a gentleman approached me and asked how I was enjoying my meal.  He said he was Clinton Dcosta, General Manager, for all the Cafe Mangii Cafes in the entire system.  I told him about my friend, Shiju Sugunan's blog, Cranium Bolts, and pulled it up on my phone so he could see it, explaining that is what enticed me to, immediately, try out the Khar "Summer Festival" menu.  He asked me if I would like to meet Chef Ganesh, responsible, from the beginning, for overseeing food preparation and participating in setting up menus for Cafe 
Mangii.  Meeting Mr. Dcosta and being able to sample the creative efforts of this master chef made my evening a special delight.


It was a special treat to meet Mr. Dcosta as he travels among all the Cafe Mangii restaurants.  I was fortunate that he was in Khar that night.


I enjoyed speaking to Chef Ganesh.  I have a great fondness for those who feed me!


Of course, I could not leave without dessert and a second cocktail.  Though there were several desserts that interested me - a lovely mango and cream and a huge chocolate brownie. However,I can never resist creme brulee.  The menu said this one had ginger in it and I was intrigued by that.  It was beautifully presented but I tasted no ginger.  It was delicious, nonetheless.




From the Cafe Mangii list of specialty cocktails, I chose the St. Tropez smash, a wonderful vodka concoction that had a splash of passion fruit syrup and watermelon juice.  It was served with paper thin slices of watermelon.  So lovely and very tasty.

Cafe Mangii was a delightful dining experience.  I look forward to my next visit and to sampling more of the menu. The only problem I foresee is I that, if some of the Summer Festival offerings are still available, I will want them again!  I am anxious to attend future festivals, as well.




  1. Cafe Mangii
  2. Address: Mangal Bhawan, 14th Road, Off Linking Road, 
  3. Near Domino's PIzza,, Khar West,, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400052
  4. Phone:022 2649 8100


To view Shiju Sugunan's beautiful pictorial essay of the Cafe Mangii in Bangalore, Karnataka, India, go to: http://craniumbolts.blogspot.in/2015/06/summer-festival-at-cafe-mangii.html

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

India, At Last - June 2, 2015


I left Sacramento May 6th.  After a most arduous journey, with connections in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Paris, France, I finally reached Mumbai over twenty-four hours later.  I was overjoyed to see the driver from my favorite hotel, the Ibis Mumbai Airport, waiting, with the sign bearing my name.  It wasn't long before I was snoozing happily on their wonderful "sweet bed."  I had expected to stay only one night there but my search for a "paying guest" room proved futile.  After four days of frustrating visits to seven different broker offerings, I moved to a less expensive hotel near Bandra where I hoped to live for the next five months.  

Two of the places I was taken were in such a seedy area ( a run down building with men sitting in chairs outside, not a woman in sight ), I wouldn't even get out of my rickshaw.  At long last, high on a hill near where I had previously lived, just past Mt. Mary Church, with a view of the Arabian Sea in the distance, I found an accommodation.




It was more than anticipated budget ( nearly $500 US, did not include meals and my room was not air conditioned ).  The home was lovely, however, owned by a widow near my age, with a PhD in history ( not my favorite subject in school ) but I was desperate for a "home" and I handed over nearly $1500 - first month's rent, the deposit and the broker's fee.  Almost immediately, with people dying in south India from the sweltering heat wave, I went out and bought a pedestal fan to supplement the SLOWLY revolving ceiling fan in my bedroom.  If both fans are going and I don't move at all, I am not bathed in sweat. Though my landlady does have WiFi, she was reluctant to have me share it for fear her bill would increase so I went to Vodafone ( akin to Verizon and I dislike them equally as much ) to purchase a MiFi apparatus and sign up for a horrific data plan.  Now, I am paying for half of the household WiFi and a reduced MiFi since my landlady turns off the WiFi when she is out and about which is often. It is a little disheartening since I haven't had such issues before.  With the intense heat, I haven't been very hungry so I stay home, read ( good I downloaded so many Audible and Kindle books ) and am waiting for the rain when I hope to go sloshing about a little more.  



Cheers from the Salt Water Cafe in Bandra West where I celebrated my finding a room!

From my bedroom window. I can see the Bandra-Worli Sea Link Bridge, which spans part of the Arabian Sea, and brilliant hot pink bougainvilla, glorious - if you don't get stabbed by its thorns.  I've been feasting on mangoes - in season now in India ( especially enjoying the mango mojitos at the Ibis Mumbai airport ) and lychees ( India ranks second to China in production of this wonderful fruit which is for sale on most street corners ).


The Bandra-Worli Sea Link Bridge





Yummy

I do miss Harper.  She would not give me a "beso" ( kiss ) the night before I left.  I told her I would be leaving before she woke up. "No, Nana!"  She was most emphatic.  I begged, explaining I would be gone to India for five months.  I have talked to her twice and she even held the phone so I could talk to Taffy.  I sent her these pictures of cows in the streets.  Laura takes her bike riding to the the "vacas and caballos" along the River Road in Sacramento but I tried to tell Harper that here the cows are sacred and they can walk wherever they want.






I came in one afternoon to find my landlady's friend here, doing an "in home" haircut.  When she finished, she asked if I'd like to have my hair braided.  Well, why not??  I thought she did a lovely job.  Too bad I didn't have a pretty sari, a place to go and a handsome man at my side to show off the pretty hairdo.  Oh, well, maybe one of these days.



In closing, after nearly a month of NOT blogging, I do plan to be a bit better about staying in touch from now on.  I came across this little Pintarest pin which suits me to a "T" so I am sharing it with you.



Thursday, April 09, 2015

Look Up, Look Down Challenge, Week 84 - San Francisco - April 9, 2015


With more than fifty hills within the city limits, San Francisco is definitely a "look up, look down" place.  I fell in love with her, with a layover of six hours, en route to Hawaii when I was only eighteen-years-old.  I knew, someday, I would make the Bay area my home and I moved here just after New Year's Day forty years ago.  I am just as in love with this city where cable cars climb "halfway to the stars" as I was
when I was eighteen.  

While I am a Tony Bennett fan and even got to hear him sing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" at the San Francisco Opera House several years ago, my favorite song about the city is "On a San Francisco High," penned by Jerry Holland and performed by his beautiful wife, Sony Holland.  It is on my phone, tablet and computer and I play it everywhere I travel when I'm feeling a little lonely for this city which has been my home now for over half my life.

Here are a few "look up, look down" photos taken recently.


Looking down at Alcatraz and at the dome of the Palace of Fine Arts,
built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition


An affluent neighborhood built on San Francisco hills


Imagine carrying groceries up all these steps!!!


San Francisco encompasses a land area of only about 46.9 square miles.


The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline.


Looking down toward North Beach landmark, Saints Peter and Paul Church,
and up at Coit Tower


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Friday, April 03, 2015

Rest in Peace, Mom


My mother, Mary Frances McGee Quinlan, died early in the morning of April 1, 2014.  She had been a resident at the Gwinnett Extended Care Facility in Lawrenceville, Georgia for several years, thanks to the quick thinking of my sister-in-law, Susan Henesy, who had worked in same day surgery at Gwinnett Medical Center.




As far as that type of facility goes, there are few better.  Her care was excellent - though she was relatively unaware of her surroundings - and she could be quite a handful, to say the least.  

My mother was one of thirteen children, born of Mississippi sharecropper parents, and she labored picking cotton as the whole family did.  She was very intelligent, though, and managed to graduate near the top of her class at Pelahatchie
( MI ) High School and headed off to nursing school in Columbus, Georgia where I was born.  

Frugal, somewhat stern, and, a single mother, she rarely handed out praise but she worked tirelessly to see that we were educated well.  I took after her in some ways but, in many, I was totally the opposite. We knew she loved us but she rarely said it.  For most of my adult life, I have lived on the opposite side of the country from her.  She always came to San Francisco to visit for a few weeks each summer to see me and her grandsons and to escape the soaring Georgia temperatures. 

Besides being a nurse, she was an avid reader ( especially of poetry ) and she did praise my poetic efforts.  Sadly, by the time my poetry book was published, with its dedication to her, her mind was incapable of comprehension.

They say that "things happen for a reason."  When my 21 year nursing position ended in February 2009, I fought desperately to overturn the budget cuts but, when it was clear that my Public Health position was doomed, I began going to Georgia to stay with my mother for visits of one month at a time.

Those were special times for me.  She lived alone in a duplex for 18 years and, though her eyesight was failing because of macular degeneration, she was able to get around her apartment, prepare meals in her microwave, and she was adamant that she would not move.  A lady came in weekly to buy groceries and clean and do laundry and she still read with magnifiers.  She stubbornly refused books on tape, insisting, "I like the feel of a book in my hand."  She refused my offer to help her with a computer which I felt would open up new worlds for her.

Coming home was made even nicer for me because of my lifelong friends, Beth and Luther Stanton.  After my mom was ready for bed at night, I would join them for dinner and it was as though we were back in high school, reminiscing, laughing, the bonds of friendship holding us close.  They were always an incredible help to me with my mother and I can never thank them enough.

The evening I arrived for my final visit with my mother in Columbus, I was startled to find her front door unlocked.  She was sitting in her recliner, staring into space, babbling gibberish, and she did not recognize me.  When I took her to her doctor in the morning, he admitted her to the hospital:  atrial fibrillation and a stroke.  Within a few days, she had recovered enough to be discharged to the Atlanta area facility.  My brother came and transported her, my sons flew in from California and, with Luther's help, we cleared out Mom's apartment and her life in Columbus was over.  





Last year, when I was home from India in January, I flew to the South to see my dearest friends and, while in Atlanta, Camilla Arthur, who had been a friend since our boarding school days at 13, took me to see my mother for a final visit.  
Her caregiver that morning ( a lovely Indian lady ) had her up in a wheelchair and my mom said, "I recognize that voice," when I walked in the room.  She then grasped my hand and said, "I love you," something I seldom remember her saying to me.  It was a cherished moment.




There was no memorial service ( except in our hearts ) as my mother had predetermined many years prior, just as she had donated her body to Emory University more than a quarter of a century before.  As one of her suitors told me, "Mary is a tough old broad."

I just hope, wherever she is spending the hereafter, she's in a good frame of mind, has a lot of her favorite books to read, and a heaping plate of catfish, cheese grits and hushpuppies every day for lunch.




Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Mellow Yellows - One of My Favorite Pictures of All Time - March 16, 2015


This picture was actually taken in February 1997 when I did a
Royal Caribbean cruise from the Thailand to Singapore.  The Sun Viking was a small ship, carrying only about 600 passengers, but it was one of the most memorable cruises of my life.  

Prior to that sailing, I visited India for the first time, spending ten days with Odelio Santos, his lovely, wife, Lorna, and their son, Nick.  Jake, had yet to make his debut.

Once, on board the ship, I met my tablemates for the cruise and, two couples, have now been friends for 18 years.  Jenny and Steve Clark, at the time, had a 14th century manor house in Godalming, Surrey, England - he was a 747 pilot with British Air and she was a hospice nurse.  Honor and Willie Paterson owned a pub in Berick-upon-Tweed, just a few miles from the Scottish border.

Since that cruise, I've been to England several times to visit the Clarks, with the Patersons joining us on one occasion, we've all met up in Sarasota where Willie and Honor opened a assisted living facility after giving up the pub, and the Clarks met me twice for a Barcelona rendevous.

Anyway, on our overnight in Bali, this incredible dance troupe came on board and I was in awe of the exquisite performances, especially this dancer, with her hand movements, her beautiful Balinese dress, the memories they left me with that remain to this day.  I chose this picture as the cover for my first ever poetry book, "Life's Journey," which was published in 1994.




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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Urban Chickens - March 15, 2015


I don't think of West Sacramento as being in the country, or even the suburbs of Sacramento.  The state capitol of California is less than five miles from my son's home.  Regardless, there are wineries within a few miles and some
rural locales in close proximity and the Sacramento River is very picturesque near us.  There are still some wide open spaces for building and new apartments and housing are going up in the area.

My son, Alex, is the dairy manager at Safeway in Davis, 20 miles from his home.  That's really handy for us since he can bring groceries when we need them, saving us a foray to the supermarket.  We go through a flat of 5 dozen eggs in record time ( three adults and one toddler ) since both Laura and I like to bake.  When the price of those eggs went up from under $10 to $17, Alex began doing research on having his own chickens.  

He checked zoning laws and found that he could legally have four chickens, then he researched which breeds would be the quietest so as not to disturb the neighbors.  He didn't want a rooster.  During his research, he found an animal rescue facility that had farm animals AND chickens, saved from huge industrial egg suppliers that eliminated chickens that didn't meet the laying quota demanded of them.

Using fence boards recycled after a new fence addition on one side of his house, he and Laura made a nice coop and, after some red tape, the rescue facility gave him four pullets.  The family dogs, Bucky and Taffy, were most unhappy with the arrival of the feathered flock since they no longer were allowed free access to the back yard.  Efforts to make them friends with the chickens were unsuccessful.  Finally, the kids just fenced off that entire section of the yard so the dogs could, once again, have most of the yard whenever they wished.  

What was most exciting, was watching the "ladies" and their antics.  Harper keeps a chair pulled up at the dining room window to observe, on a frequent basis.  The hens are doing a fine job of laying eggs, producing three a day, usually.  We don't know if one chicken never lays or if each one takes a day off from time to time.  Maybe it's my imagination, but the eggs seem to taste better than the ones from Safeway.
Alex has read that they are healthier, containing less cholesterol, more vitamin D, more vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.

Of course, we still have to buy eggs to meet our baking needs but, for eating, we choose the eggs of the ladies.  


The coop is quite spacious compared to the commercial accomodations





The "ladies" don't seem to mind Harper as long as she doesn't try to pick them up











At dusk, they usually return to the coop on their own initiative - or we round them up


Taffy had to be kept on a tight leash...she's a pretty strong dog!


The chickens usually stay together in the yard....unless one is in the laying box


It's amazing that they stay pretty white since they like to indulge in dust "baths"


Harper strolls outside with the chickens, usually carrying one of her stuffed animals







Our first eggs!!!


I certainly think it will be some time before the kids recoup the outlay for the building materials, bedding and feed but, no matter, it has been a fun project for them and Harper has enjoyed it.  I have delighted in sampling the eggs!

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