Those Weird Peterson Frames

December 4, 2020

When you get married and decide you’re keeping your last name, you resign yourself to all manner of last name implementations. It’s all fine, as far as I’m concerned. People often go with what they’re comfortable with. I have older relatives who address me as Mrs. James Frame on envelopes. I never say anything. I’m not bothered. It’s funny (but the effort so very appreciated) when someone goes the full mile and addresses an envelope with Jim Frame, Kari Peterson and Peter Frame. Or they might combine the two Frames. Or they might say The Frame Petersons.

We got a good batch of holiday cards today. It’s starting. Glad to see the pandemic isn’t cramping anyone’s style. Fun that these arrived today:

If I thought I could put my hands on a few (without spending hours searching my ridiculously vast photo archive), I’d post photos of Jim’s and my favorite name butcherings … which are business communiques that are supposed to be addressed to The Peterson Frame Little T Trust but which, as you might imagine, come in a hilarious assortment of creative, if confused, interpretations. Financial institutions just can’t seem to get this one right. I mean, how hard is that? We named our family trust after Peter’s favorite stuffed animal (Little T). Doesn’t everyone?

Reminder: here’s Little T, forever memorialized (not just in the name of our trust–that Peter will have to deal with when we’re long gone, but laughing about from heaven–but in his little case on the piano). Cuz we’re kinda sentimental about this.


December 3, 2020

It’s been a lot of years since I planted anything in our garden. Broke that long spell today.

Bought these yesterday:

And had these — a gift to Jim from our landscape designer Claudia, who knew Jim loves poppies:

Gave the bulbs a bit of a lukewarm bath to try and coax the roots into action before planting them in some late fall cool dirt (I did not figure this out on my own):

Then set out to plant them. I was pretty rusty… couldn’t find gardening gloves, or a trowel, or pruning sheers (something I needed to trim, literally, our christmas tree). I have apparently lost my gardening mojo. But I managed to loosen the dirt with a digging fork and hand dug the holes and got about 30-ish bulbs into the ground and scattered a lot of poppy seeds in a spot near the deck.

Here’s a before and after hand shot:

Good news: finally found the box in the garage that had all my gardening stuff… so next time, trowels and gloves.

And.. if I’m honest, I actually enjoyed crawling around in the dirt again. If I manage to set up a nice gardening station, and I’m confident I will, gardening will be fun again. Bring on the raised beds.

Peara Firma

December 2, 2020

Jim and I have been great fans of butternut squash for years. Yum yum. Peeling those things is a tough go, though. I prefer buying pre-cut squash, but usually don’t because I can’t take the withering look I’d get from Jim when I happily, if lazily, plop a plastic box of cubed squash on the counter. (True confession: I like pre-triple-washed spinach, too.)

So imagine our ecstatic-ness (ecstasy seems a bit overstated) when we learned a new trick. A butternut squash can be peeled like nobody’s business… if you bake it first. Pop the whole thing, as is, into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. That’s it. Peels like a dream and it’s ready to eat.

You let it cool. Then….

Then.. cut it up, add brown sugar and butter (or however you like it):

So.. we had the above squash for dinner, with some spectacular leftover turkey tacos. And here’s where the title of this blog comes in….

We also had a pear .. we’ve been eating a lot of pears lately .. they’ve been really good! But Jim sliced up a pear tonight that was about two days too soon. Which I then characterized as…. peara firma.

Brilliant, no?


December 1, 2020

I just want to say that I am extremely, unexpectedly thrilled with the cabinet appointments and nominations that the Biden/Harris administration is putting forward. It’s one thing to say you want a government and a cabinet that looks like and represents America. It’s another to actually see that in action (presuming the ones who require Senate confirmation do, in fact, get confirmed). I wasn’t really prepared for how different that would feel. And how affirming. It matters.

And generally, wow. Biden’s approach to government feels so entirely different (than the previous loser guy’s). His strategy to gather people with experience, experts in their fields, feels so suddenly novel. Hardly even a strategy, just good government. Of course. That they’re women, people of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures and perspectives, is, of course, such a deep, relaxing breath of comfort and confidence. I’m surprised at how amazing it feels.

Lots yet to unfold. Will Biden be able to do anything at all with a republican majority in the Senate, if that’s how the January special elections turn out? Will he even get cooperation on his cabinet picks? I even read that it’s possible McConnell will stand in the way of even a single Supreme Court pick, no matter when/if the opportunity presents itself during the next four years. Will he really dig in and be that intractable? That obstructionist? So much yet to unfold. We have yet to see whether Biden’s efforts to reach out to reps will make any difference. I wonder if legislators can even recognize this Biden administration as an opportunity to try to return to some kind of normalcy. I’d like to think so. Reasonable and respectful, open minded, open hearted have not been congressional characteristics for a long, long while. Wouldn’t they rather be arguing policy? Must it forever be about just clinging to power at any cost?

If not now, when? Ever? Aren’t they just tired of the embarrassments and inaction and danger to our democracy? Won’t they appreciate Biden’s steadiness and integrity? Biden, whose head is down as he just moves forward with no drama, as the loser guy spits and spins and sounds increasingly–if it’s even possible–unhinged, more unhinged than even ever.

Just dunno.

But circling back: I am so incredibly impressed and so very pleased at what I’ve seen so far. There is great power and symbolism and significance in the kind of government he is building. And hope. A columnist the other day described his presidency so far (well.. unofficial as yet) as restful. I love that.


November 30, 2020

I haven’t written about the pandemic in a long time. It’s been going on now for about a million years. You’ve either figured out how to deal with it, or you’ve been suffering mightily (for any number of reasons). Or, something in between. In addition to health threats, loss, disruption, hardship, it’s just hard to be so removed from normal life.

I realized today that since the very first moments of covid awareness, mask-wearing, social distancing and stay-at-home orders, way back in mid-March, I’d been deeply immersed in all manner of election-related stuff–both for national races as well as a local campaign. My days have been filled with Zoom meetings, special events, advocacy (phonebanking, texting, postcarding, lawnsigns, lit drops, demonstrating, marching, rallying) organizing, creating, task and volunteer management… all mixed with angst, overwhelm, frustration, dread, but also community, camaraderie, great energy, steep but manageable learning curves, and a great sense of advancing a cause. Plus: Peter’s college graduation and move across the country, some home improvement projects, a camping trip, two hiking trips, countless photo walks, relearning to cook… plus keeping up with regular daily life, daily blogging, etc. Pandemic life has been, I guess, kinda full.

Now, not so much. The last three weeks, since the election, have been blissfully less busy. And now with Thanksgiving over, today (Monday) I felt like I had been sucked into a vortex. I entered this weird space of nothing.. nothing really to do. I actually have plenty to do –stuff I haven’t done in months, projects that have languished, another holiday coming. But, suddenly, it just felt depressing. By the time late afternoon rolled around, I felt like I’d lost all inspiration. I was aware that I needed to just put one foot in front of the other and make myself do things. I could literally feel the oppressive weight of zero motivation. It made me feel very anxious. I thought, whoa.. I’d better be thinking about life, about purpose, about where that spark will come from. It was slightly disturbing and a lot lonely. It’s definitely not the first time I’ve felt this, but today felt weightier, palpably heavy.

Then at about 6:00, Peter called (FaceTime). He was out on a long walk in a lot of snow. That’s pretty new for him. He’s been in snow, but not much. He certainly hasn’t lived in it. He was slipping around on ice, laughing, pointing his camera at impressive views of wintry scenes for us to see, talking a little about a presentation he’d given earlier, and a lot about snow.

We talked for about 45 minutes then he wanted to continue his walk without us, as he was enjoying being out alone in the snow in the dark. How ’bout that. The conversation with him was such a lift. [Note to self: boy needs boots and a real winter coat.]

Then a couple of nice text conversations with friends; then, funnily enough, a 90-minute Zoom meeting with IndivisibleYolo which involved over twenty folks reflecting on the last eight months, what’s to come in the next month, and plans for next year. It was amazingly validating.

So here’s what I figured out: Connection. People. Purpose. As much as I was desperate to be done with all the election stuff, as much as I wanted great gobs of clear calendar space and nothing to do, I realize that isn’t very sustaining. The last few weeks have been a weird mix of boredom and bliss, elation and anxiety, and not much tying it all together.

I’m not sure what that will look like going forward, but I can see there will need to be something purposeful in there.

Not earth shattering, but revealing. A good reminder.


November 29, 2020

This afternoon, I pulled out of the driveway in my rarely-used-during-the-pandemic car and within a few seconds realized there were some papers flapping on my windshield. I stopped, got out, retrieved the papers to find they were actually two magazines — a couple back issues of The Economist.


I went about my business (a gorgeous late fall, late day walk with Janet in the North Davis ditch). But when I got back, Jim and I examined the blacked out address on the magazine label and found it belonged to a guy in Woodland.

I deduced that–not b/c of the Woodland address–whoever it was, was probably responding to the lawn signs which are still standing in our front yard even though the election is long over, and which, for the most part, convey liberal messaging. Not at all unusual hereabouts, but I never assume everyone agrees with them. I’m guessing this guy — whether it was the guy on the address label or not — does not. So he gifted us a pair of magazines that offer a slightly more centrist-leaning perspective on things. A radical notion in Davis.

Here are the magazines:

And here’s the note I sent Alan:

It’s definitely not the first time our lawn signs or our bumper stickers have attracted the attention of folks– both pro and con. (Definitely less the lawn signs and more the bumper stickers.) It’s one reason I’m not sporting bumper stickers any more. Really no need to stoke division. I even took down the Black Lives Matter and Love Your Neighbor lawn signs when we had crews coming and going during the remodel. Felt unnecessarily provocative then (when at least one of the crew was a known Trump supporter), and perhaps even now. Feeling anymore like I don’t want to do anything that calls attention to differences. I don’t really want to contribute to the pervasive tribalism that defines everything these days. Continuing to work fiendishly for the cause is still the plan, but I feel like quietly is a better way to do it for awhile.


November 28, 2020

Mmm. Dinner.

(I’m a bit amazed at the variety of containers… that represents a lot o years of tupper collecting.) (And probably not an official tupperware in the bunch.)

Time for a compilation of my current favorite pictures of my great nieces and nephew. Cutie patooties, these kiddos.




And some group shots:

Mags and Juni

Mags and River

Mags and River

River and Mags

River and Mags

And that’s it. For now. More to come, no doubt.

Making Do

November 26, 2020

As this pandemic year wearily slogs on to an end, everybody and his brother (most everybodies) had a weird Thanksgiving and we’re all now imagining and reinventing pandemic Christmases as that holiday is now, ugh, upon us.

“Impending calamity,” “surges on top of surges” are ways infectious disease doctors are characterizing where we are at this moment. We absolutely need to think and rethink our plans. There is a tug and pull of trying to stay connected to gratitude and love, to preserve the joy, while completely accepting that this is not a normal time and playing by rules we all must honor in order to get as safely as possible to the other side. There will be another side.

Thanksgiving, was therefore that mix… accommodating the virus and the guidelines while still trying to find the gratitude, love and joy.

First the connection part.

Peter’s not with us. That is incredibly disappointing. But we could talk and we knew he was with friends — being safe and being loved. Here’s his weather.. a pic he sent a couple days ago:

And here’s the celebration Peter had with Lisa and Claire — forever grateful for their efforts to make him feel welcome in Ann Arbor. They’ve been so loving and caring and just amazing.

Back here in sunny Davis California, I exchanged lots of texts with friends, had multiple conversations with Peter, Matty and Betsy, and ZOOMED with the whole immediate Frame family contingent (minus Maia, Hope and Tanner) at 3:00.

It was an hour of cacophonous Frames from California to Idaho to Montana to Michigan. All three Jim Frame sibs, all five Dean Frame sibs (plus Dean!) and *almost* all kids. Quite the feat. That would never happen in real life, so this pandemic-imposed separation, necessitating Zoom connections is quite brilliant. What would we do without video conferencing this year?

Then, at 8:00, we Zoomed with the Peterson sibs and Peter. This time California north and south, plus Michigan and Thailand. Missed Michael, missed John/Alexis and clan, but otherwise it was good to get the four of us sibs and a couple of our loves together.

Earlier in the day I went for a long walk. For part of it, I was listening to Brene Brown interviewing Dolly Parton. She’s a lovely woman who sounds remarkably like Aunt Bonnie. That took me down a lot of family rabbit holes. The creek supplied a spectacular backdrop for my rambling mind.. the sunny skies made the colors at the arboretum really pop.

The gingkos are hemorrhaging their leaves:

Have I mentioned how excited I am to be planting one in our backyard?

It was just so pretty down there.

Here’s one of the gingkos from across the lake.

Even B Street walking home looked gorgeous (this is across the street from one of my first apartments in town):

And A Street looks nice this time of year, too!

After my walk, and in between the Zoom calls, Jim and I cooked. Since it was just the two of us, it made sense to downsize the menu. Jim found a clever idea in the New York Times–a One Pan, One Pot Thanksgiving Dinner. A bit gimmicky, but fun to try! And hey.. we did the whole thing together, step by step, which I loved.

First thing in the morning, I set up the turkey to marinate. We’d never cooked a turkey breast before. If you never have, it actually feels like a big boob (not that I would know) — it’s soft and squishy.

Here’s the stuff for the marinade — grated garlic, fresh thyme and s/p:

Hours later, we slathered it in mustard and mayonnaise (yep) and then wrapped it in bacon. I’ve since learned that most people, when wrapping a turkey breast in bacon, do it in a very showy basket weave (google it!), which I’ll definitely do next time. Here’s what ours looked like (kinda disgusting, no?):

But then it comes out like this.. totally appetizing:

And carved like a dream:

My first comment at first bite was, “wow, it’s fantastic and so moist!” Jim’s was “hmmm… so dry.” So, I’m not sure if it was moist or not, but I *think* we both liked it and would try it again.

The other components of the meal were fine… the stuffing was standard and fine; the cranberry sauce was good; the gravy went a bit south, but was good enough. But there were two other standouts:

The menu called for Brussels sprouts, which neither of us likes, so we substituted cauliflower, using the same treatment, which was simple but fantastic. Olive oil, salt and some coriander powder, roasted with the turkey/bacon and its drippings. Yeow.

Also, this:

It’s baked garnet yams, that, when soft (about an hour) you added this — a mash of butter, molasses, salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Oh, and marshmallows. You put it back into the oven to melt all that into the potatoes. omg.

And that was it. It took exactly three hours to prepare, and exactly ten minutes to eat. As usual. Jim then made some whipped cream and we had both pecan pie and my weird pumpkin pie (which turned out fine!).

It was a nice day. The connections and reflections and cooking project were all mightily felt and appreciated. What I think will stand out most will be how we responded to an absolutely unique and dangerous time. We’ll get to the other side and life will return to something a lot more normal and predictable. It’s been a tragedy of just immeasurable pain, inconvenience, loss all over the world. We’re all in this, we’re all impacted, we’re all dealing.

Pie Fail?

November 25, 2020

Um… I mean.. who fails at pumpkin pie?

The pie that takes a lot of work is the double pecan pie — mostly because of the crust and careful timing of doneness. But it looks pretty perfect.

The pumpkin pie is usually the slam dunk. This time, however, I forgot to get evaporated milk so improvised with 1/2 and 1/2 (the interwebs said I could). I was also suspicious of the eggs. I needed two: one was the last egg from a pretty old carton, and the other was from a newer–though still quite old–carton. Clearly we need to eat our eggs faster around here.

The resulting mixture looked odd, and, for whatever reason, the custard came out bumpy and weird and took well over the bake time to set up. So we shall see…

I have confidence in the pecan pie. And regardless of how that pumpkin pie comes out, the place smells like a bake shop.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve.