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The Grapes of Half

January 31, 2015

I know, the title’s a little weird, but it’s late and I needed something fast. Best I could come up with.

The topic’s even worse, so bear with me.

Made a new recipe tonight for guests. Of course. Why would we serve some tried and true dish when we can experiment on friends? Especially when half the time they don’t come out.

This one was good, but it came out nothing like the picture.

This was the goal:

cauliflower and grapes

That is Roasted Cauliflower and Grapes, found in the BittenWord food blog, which has some odd little recipes, but I like the authors.

They didn’t tell us to do this, but I read somewhere that if you want to cut a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes in half, filling a plate with tomatoes, then putting another plate on top, then sliding a knife between them does the job, so I figured it might work for grapes, and it did!

See?…..

Put a bunch of grapes on the back of a plate:

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Then cover with another plate, placed on top of the grapes right-side-up:

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Then I held the plates, while Jim slid a knife between:

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And voila:

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(The truth is, the first batch worked perfectly; this batch was problematic. It has something to do with the amount of pressure you apply to the top plate. Nevertheless, it’s a brilliant technique which we’ll use again, but with refinements.)

The dish did not look like the above-most picture. The grapes lost a lot of liquid, which then caramelized on the baking sheet and burned. Very few of the grapes were intact by the end of the roasting process. It also took a long time to roast the cauliflower to the crispy, roasted texture that makes it taste so good… but it was still tasty enough and worth trying again.

Oh.. the recipe:

You toss a head of cauliflower florets in 1/4c olive oil, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2t chopped rosemary, salt, pepper and 1/2 pound of sliced grapes. Roast in 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

F L O Y D

January 30, 2015

The community said goodbye to Floyd Fenocchio tonight, and wow, what a loving tribute to a man and a life beautifully lived.

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Seventy-six was way too young. There was so much more life to live, so much that will unfold yet that he would have wanted to see and be a part of, so much yet to give to his family, his friends, his community. And Floyd? He was so fit and young at heart and active and happy.

The heart can be a fickle organ.

I was so incredibly pleased to be asked to speak about our dear friend on behalf of our baseball community. And it was my great honor to do it.

Here’s the program which was such a perfect blend of family, friends, colleagues, music and photos. Bob Dunning captured Floyd so well in his introduction and comments made throughout the program. Floyd’s brother and sisters-in-law were achingly sweet and their comments heartfelt. Linda’s reciting of the 23rd Psalm was powerful and her comments so gracious. Mark’s comments and especially the photos he chose and arranged and set to music told beautiful stories, each one so very moving.

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I’ll paste the comments I made at the end of this post. Writing about Floyd came so easily.

I learned a lot about Floyd tonight… he was a sailor for one thing. For another: he was as genuinely kind, honorable and tenderhearted from the get go as he was in his later years. And he was universally loved; it is absolutely true that each person who knew him felt a special and unique connection to Floyd, and I believe each of those connections was genuine. That is a lot of love.

And he loved the song Blowing in the Wind. That’s awesome.

It was touching when his son Dan talked about how, when a kid is growing up, he looks up to his parents as perfect, flawless beings, but as those kids grow older they see their parents’ flaws and imperfections. He went on to say his dad remained the generous, devoted dad he had been to him as a child, every bit as attentive and loving in later years as when Dan was growing up.

I can say this: the boys were lucky to have Floyd in their dugout, in all respects. They went from kids to young men on Floyd’s watch. There could be no greater gift.

Deep breath of gratitude.

Here is a shot of the post ceremony dinner at The Graduate:

James, Daniel (Floyd’s grandson), Solly, Alex, Coach Tim (now living and working in San Francisco), Eric, Peter, Andrew, Ray and Mason.

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These guys have been together a long time.

So, this is the sixth draft of the comments I shared tonight (minus a few extemporaneous comments here and there).  Sixth draft because I kept editing the comments down in order to stay close to my allotted time. Much great stuff is on the cutting room floor… I could have talked for an hour with all the memories and stories I gathered from the other parents. It was a very moving process.

I have been identified in the program as “baseball parent” and asked to speak on behalf of Floyd’s baseball community. It’s a Floyd Fan Club of a baseball community. 

Baseball was a really huge part of Floyd’s life, for his whole life, but especially with his grandsons in the last 11-12 years or so. According to Dianna and Mark, these last years were some of the best of his life.  

In my comments this evening, I’m representing many families of boys who’ve played baseball with Daniel from T-ball to the Davis High School varsity team. But mostly the families of boys who played on Davis Crush, a travel team that Floyd helped coach for four years.   

But while I’m mostly representing that particular swath of the baseball community, I know the comments I’m going to share are true for Floyd’s other sports communities as well, and his fellow bleacher mates everywhere. 

So, I contacted the families in our community and asked people to share their favorite memories of Floyd and any words that came to mind that best described him. I looked at all the words and memories that people came up with and noticed that most of them started with a letter in Floyd’s name.  So that’s how I decided to organize the comments and good words.

F L O Y D… so what do those letters stand for? 

F  is for FRIEND. Floyd was a genuine, kind friend–to kids and to parents. 

Tim Busbin, who coached with Floyd for 3 years of the Crush years, said, “Above all, Floyd was a friend, whose example and lessons I will carry with me forever.” 

Dustin Tillman, one of the players, said “Floyd stood by you, no matter what you did. Even if you blew the game, or we lost by 20 runs. He was still nice to you.” 

Jim Frame commented that “Floyd was a friend you could count on, always there to lend a hand, take the boys to practice, let them change into their uniforms at his house, practice in his garage, and he always fed them snacks.” 

Theron Cosgrave said “Floyd was always looking for a way to help out. He would do anything for anybody.” 

L Is for LOVE. Floyd loved everyone!  And everyone really felt that. He had a way of making people around him feel special and cared for.   

Frances Andrews said, “Floyd had a huge heart from which ran a river of love. Who could have imagined his heart would be the thing to let him down?”  

Theron said, “Floyd LOVED baseball and he loved just being out there–in the field, in the dugout, in the bleachers. It didn’t matter the score, it was always a good day to be alive and watching baseball.”  He just loved that.   

O is for OASIS OF CALM  Frances described Floyd as an Oasis of Calm, which was great, because I needed an O word. Floyd was an extremely easy going, roll-with-the-punches guy. 

Let’s say somebody’s younger sibling was playing kickball against the backstop, during a game, right behind the catcher, and let’s say your son was pitching. You might be going a little bit crazy. Floyd, however, is smiling at that little kid. He may be exchanging a knowing glance with you, but he is tolerant and patient and kind toward that ball-kicking child. He was totally unflappable. 

If the team had a spectacularly horrible losing streak, it was fine, no cause for worry, they’ll get ’em next time. No matter what, it’s always just a beautiful day for baseball. 

Attending weekend tournaments for three teams over two days covering half the state? No problem. If you asked Floyd about it, he just chuckled. Nothing but smiles in an oasis of calm.

Y is for YOUTHFUL Floyd was fit and lean. And he was a great athlete.  

He may have been in his 70s but he’d be down there on the field with coaches half his age, or even a third his age. He’d throw with the boys, hit ground balls, catch pitchers, and stand at first base in 100 degree weather. 

In the bleachers, he was always the first one up to help when somebody arrived with an armload of stuff. He hauled ice chests, rearranged chairs, set up umbrellas and shade structures. 

And he didn’t lumber and thud down the bleachers like the rest of us, he bounced, and at the bottom, there was always this little dance in his step. 

Frances had this story: “When I stopped by the field last summer before that Roy Hobbs tournament, who do I find out there in the 100 degree weather weeding around the bleachers – Floyd, of course!  He wanted it to look nice for the tournament. Fortunately Coach Ariola sent Pierce out to help him. That was an amusing sight under the bleachers… Pierce and Floyd weeding!” 

Alison Pohl said, “Brendan’s favorite memory of Floyd was after Crush won the Redding tournament, Floyd, Tim and Mark ran a victory lap while the boys waited for them at home plate.” 

I remember that! Watching Floyd run the bases at 70-something years old…it was 360′ feet of pure joy! For him and for us. 

D is for DEDICATION  Floyd was dedicated to the things he loved and cared about. We in the baseball community benefitted greatly from this. 

Matt Biers-Ariel said, “it was his dedication that made Floyd such a great coach. He knew the mechanics of the game and really worked with the boys to help them dissect their swings.” 

Djina Biers-Ariel said, “And he was always there. He always showed up.” 

Liz Shorts added, “No matter what time of day, freezing cold or burning hot, he was always there.” 

I ran out of letters in his name before I ran out of adjectives. People had a few other adjectives that didn’t’ begin with F, L, O, Y or D, but describe him Floyd so well:

modest

humble

thoughtful

caring

selfless

smily  

wise

mentor

passionate

giving

intelligent

charming

tenderhearted

There was another word that everyone mentioned in describing Floyd: Positive 

– Tammy Tujo said, “even when the boys would have a bad game, Floyd found the positive things and said those.”  

– Wes Young said, “It’s easy to cheer on a kid who has had a great performance. Floyd always had a good or encouraging word after the game for someone who was struggling that day.” 

– Alex Gutierrez said, “What I always remember is getting to the field early to watch the boys practice and of course Floyd would be there…I would say to Floyd  “how’d the practice go?”  Floyd would always say “Alex…the boys look good today”. I also remember that. That is exactly what he would say. 

Everyone I asked had two favorite stories about Floyd: Theron tells the first one this way:  “Looks can be deceiving. When Floyd helped coach the Crush travel team, everyone saw him as this nice-as-can be grandfather helping out on the field as a first-base coach….. which made him the perfect candidate to steal signs from the opposing team’s catcher. I can still hear him bark out:  “Line dive ‘em now,” — which would tell the batter that a curveball was coming. No team ever caught on.”

John Timmons added “he even stole signs from his own grandson one time during practice, when Danny was catching Alex.”   

The other story that showed up on everyone’s list involved Floyd, a tractor, and a certain City-owned baseball diamond in the middle of town with a dirt infield that always required a lot of dragging… but I’m going to let Mark tell that story.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

I’m going to close with a few comments that sum up our dear, dear friend Floyd: 

Claire Grindall said:

There are so many things that come to mind… His smile when he was with the boys, his gentle nature when he explained a play, his way of being upset at an umpire without making anyone uncomfortable, and his hand always on your shoulder as he greeted you.

Lisa D’Angelo said:

Some people make you a better person just knowing them, and Floyd was one of those rare people.

Phil D’Angelo said:

I realize that Floyd was Daniel and Jonah’s grandfather.  However, on the baseball field he was a grandfather to all the boys.  

Tara Richardson said: 

The hours our boys spent with him on the field, in the batting cages, in the stands, in the car, and over meals throughout the years will continue to be some of the most treasured of their lives.  Each and every one of those boys loves Floyd and loved spending time with him. I not only believe that Floyd’s example has been recognized, understood, and so appreciated by these boys, but I believe that they want to live their own lives following his example.  Each of them will take a little bit of Floyd out to the rest of the world and we will be all the better for it.  

I think all of us wish that we could thank Floyd one last time and tell him how much he has meant to all of us.  

Korlyn Gibson said:

We so loved this man, he will be greatly missed. 

And finally, from Tim:  

Overall, Floyd was just a beautiful human being.

They closed the memorial with the Advanced Treble Choir and Madrigals together singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The entire hall–some 500 people–stood and sang along.

Wonderful.

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Rest in peace dear friend. And thank you.

That is Blooming Freaky

January 29, 2015

Driving down F Street and see these…

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I’m no expert on these things (as we’ve determined), but I do know for a fact–because I gauge the start of spring (the Davis spring, not calendar spring) each year by when the trees along F bloom and it’s always mid February–that we are two weeks early. Can almost set my clock to it. And now we’re all messed up.

We had narcissus blooming in December, which I think may also have been a few weeks early, but I never count those because they typically arrive in months that are still wintry and I’m used to that.

But I’m not used to blooming trees along F Street in January. I’m not surprised the trees are confused.. we got not one drop of rain in the entire month of January, among other weather oddities, and it’s been near 70 degrees all week, so what the hell.

I, like everyone else, am very afraid for California.

By the way, Don the nursery man says it’s a pyrus kawakami, or ornamental or evergreen pear. And this one is in front of Discovery Preschool, at about 10th:

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Hood Improvements

January 28, 2015

This is me trying to get out of my driveway this afternoon. I was temporarily trapped by this road construction truck and had to hunt down a worker to move it.

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This road construction is a very good development.

If you’re me, you’ve always been just a wee bit let down by your neighborhood. Our house is in a great location: close to downtown and restaurants and theaters; close to campus, the Mondavi and the arboretum; close to Central Park and Farmer’s Market; close to the Co-op; across the street from Civic Center park and the baseball diamond–unbelievably convenient for many years. It’s truly a great place to be if you like to be in the middle of a lot of energy and close enough to walk to just about any place you’d need to go.

But… we’re also in the middle of a big municipal block which means we have no across-the-street-neighbors. There are a fair number of student rentals, including a frat house a block away–so lots of red cups–and we have a lot of city, county and campus parking.

We are long on convenience, short on aesthetics.

As it turns out, I’m a person for whom aesthetics is huge. I have a great need to love where I live, I want to love looking at my home in its setting, I want to feel a rush of pleasure as I round the corner to home. I like charm, intimacy, serenity and beauty. We’re short on all that.

So I whine. Not a lot, but sometimes. It’s not attractive. I really have to stop that. (I will say, our house itself is like an oasis in the midst of all the chaos, and I do love it once you’re inside the front door, so there’s that!)

Anyway, on top of the no-charm factor, our street looks like it’s gone through a meat grinder.  We get a lot of traffic because of the university and City and the potholes in the last year have become craters. But this week, they are patching the holes!  I wish they were resurfacing the whole thing like they did on B Street last year, but it looks like that’s a ways off.

Still…. this will be an improvement, and every little bit helps!

I Didn’t Know the Anther

January 27, 2015

I’m not much on naming flowers, but did finally learn the name of the flower that we encounter each year in Dillon Beach, the one that is always on the table when we arrive and smells so good it makes me want to cry. It’s an asiatic lily. I know now because it was one of the flowers in the bouquet my mom and brothers sent for my birthday and as soon as I smelled it a few days ago I knew it was the same flower.  I took a picture, posted it on Facebook, asked if anyone knew what it was, and of course someone did. I got an immediate and seemingly definitive answer. The asiatic lily was the consensus.

Here it is among its flower friends (it’s the white one):

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Here is a close up of an emasculated asiatic lily. Poor lily, huh?

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A bit of flower anatomy, in case you’ve forgotten: The stamen is the pollen-producing part of the flower usually with a slender filament that supports the anther, and the anther is the part of the stamen where the pollen is produced (who knew?). Flower farms, or flower stores maybe, remove the anthers because “lilies produce prodigious amounts of pollen, and it stains things,” says Don Shor.. my favorite source on these kinds of things.

And because I’ve learned how to do macro shots on my iPhone, and took a whole bunch more photos, here are a few other flowers:

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I just love these pictures, but I don’t know what any of these other flowers are.

Make My Day

January 26, 2015

Here’s how the series of emails goes with my brother Chris this morning:

Me: I love the flowers! Thank you so much for sending them. I just love to be thought of .. especially by you all. 

Chris: Always think of you at Kari’s Corner on my walk down to surf.

Me: um, where’s kari’s corner?  

Chris: hard to explain exactly. just a sec..

[then he posted this:]

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Me: love it. and YOU dubbed it kari’s corner?

Chris: who else?

Me:  well, i guess i didn’t think it was the City of Palos Verdes. i love you more than bread and cheese with a nice red wine and some toasted pecans. that just makes my day.

Chris: good deal.   

 

Seriously. That made my day.

My Happy Burfday

January 25, 2015

Because you don’t turn 59 every day.

Jim, Peter and I tried a restaurant for brunch we’d not been to, Kitchen 428 on First Street in Woodland. A farm to fork place. Quite good. Not likely to enter the regular rotation, but definitely worth the drive.

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And I always forget, Woodland has a bit of historic charm:

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The restaurant is in the old Morrison’s location.

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Peter drove our car back to Davis, and Jim and I took his truck out to the 18,000 acre Conaway Ranch where Jim’s been doing a lot of levee measuring lately.

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My driver…

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…who’s smiling despite the fact I was doing this the whole time and kept saying things like, “STOP HERE” “NO, HERE,” “NO, BACK UP!”

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…famous wildlife photographer that I am. Ahem. (But she has fun.)

Conaway Ranch is quite a place. I’m always sort of astounded at what lies beyond the interstate. You get on the smaller county and access roads, in this case a private road along a levee, and see lots of wildlife in lots of habitat that, from 113 or I-5 or I-80, look like vast expanses of nothing.

Definitely not nothing. Here are some shots:

First off, this is the levee, which runs eight miles due south along a canal (the part of the levee on their property anyway). It started off grey and foggy, and kind of dark for 1:00pm, which felt moody and far away:

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Here are a couple of hawks, probably, in a tree (definitely in a tree, and probably hawks):

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And some cormorants, probably:

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A nice shot across the rice fields and just thousands of ducks hanging out and maybe mud hens and grebes.

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On the way back, the haze started to lift. That might be a blue heron in flight.

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Used a cross-process filter on this one:

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There were hundreds of some kind of fat bird sitting in the reeds and bushes along the canal:

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A nice egret (this one I know):

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And more cormorants (so I’ve been told):

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Off the property, heading home along Rd. 25, east of Rd. 102.

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Jim spent a few hours in the kitchen.

He baked a German Chocolate cake.  Some GC cake trivia:

Contrary to popular belief, German chocolate cake did not originate in Germany. Its roots can be traced back to 1852 when American Sam German developed a type of dark baking chocolate for the American Baker’s Chocolate Company

On June 3, 1957, a recipe for “German’s Chocolate Cake” appeared as the “Recipe of the Day” in the Dallas Morning Star.[2] It was created by Mrs. George Clay, a homemaker from Dallas, Texas.[2] This recipe used the baking chocolate introduced 105 years prior and became quite popular. General Foods, which owned the Baker’s brand at the time, took notice and distributed the cake recipe to other newspapers in the country. The possessive form (German’s) was dropped in subsequent publications, forming the “German Chocolate Cake” identity we know today and giving the false impression of a German origin.

It had a syrup that went down as sort of a primer coat, then the coconut/pecan (and cream, etc) topping that went both between layers (four in all) and on top, and finally a rich dark chocolate frosting that coated most of the rest. Good lord. Will show you a picture in a sec.

First: the dinner. Grilled salmon with a kiwi salsa, steamed broccoli and brown rice.  Fantastic. Every bite, fantastic.

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Then presents:

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Then out comes the cake (the flying hair shot was better than all the others, sorry. Grateful it didn’t catch fire.):

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I’m not kidding.

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Muy rich. Killer.

My mom and three brothers sent these which I loved:

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And that was my birthday, happy.