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Social Security Eligible

April 30, 2015

Peter gave Jim a birthday card tonight that had a quote on the front that said, “What age would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”  Young, we both agreed. Certainly not 62. Neither of us feels like a senior citizen. That’s just kind of ridiculous. It will seem that way when you get there, too.

I’m pooped and not feeling like writing (I’m old, remember? Not as old as Jim, though.) So I’m copping out and posting more cooking photos.

For dinner I made a Moroccan Lentil Soup.

Into the crock pot this afternoon went chopped carrots, onions, and cauliflower..

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To which was added minced garlic and tomato paste…

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then chopped tomatoes and lentils…

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and ground turmeric, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and pepper..

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and olive oil and chicken broth…

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Cooked on high for about five hours.

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Toward the end, added fresh chopped spinach and cooked another half hour or so, then added fresh cilantro and lemon juice.

After returning from the college preparation workshop at the high school tonight, we really needed some comfort food. This fit the bill. It needed salt, but otherwise was pretty good. We served it with Village Bakery’s olive bread.

For dessert, the usual birthday pecan pie:

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And everyone was sufficiently comforted.

Here are the Frame boys, each at his own key milestone age: Jim, social security eligible and Peter, a first year driver.

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Happy Birthday, Jim!

Birthday Eve Day

April 29, 2015

Jim Frame is a regular guy. Operative word: guy. Other operative word: Frame.

Guy, meaning life is simple, uncomplicated. Ya got yer work, ya got yer family, ya got yer exercise routines, a few chores, like laundry, food shopping and cooking, taking out the trash and mowing the lawn. Ya gotta eat, sleep, go to baseball games. Throw in a few solitary passions, involving either a computer, a book, or a large tool in the garage, and life is just about perfect. It’s all pretty straightforward.

In the birthday context, birthdays come, you receive your family calls, maybe have a nice pecan pie, and you can file that birthday away, duly acknowledged.

Frame, meaning all of the above elements, underscored in their simplicity by orders of magnitude, steadily routinized to near robotic perfection. No complications. No muss no fuss. Neat and tidy.

Certainly not complicated by the complicated complications one’s complicated wife might add to the mix. If you’re not a man, you know what I’m talking about.

And I say all this with a smile.  At nearly 60, I’m figuring out men and their simple needs. At nearly 20 years in, I’m figuring out marriage to a Frame.

So, Jim’s birthday tomorrow will be a simple affair: a vegetarian kind of soup for dinner with bread, a pecan pie, and he’ll open a pretty safe gift (ordered via Amazon about two months ago). In between dinner and pie, we’ll attend a high school college orientation thingie.

College orientations happen; what are ya gonna do?

Anyway, that’ll be the birthday. This weekend, we’ll see a play and go to a nice dinner in Sac, but that is, categorically, NOT a birthday event. Later, friends will take us out to a nice dinner, because that’s an acceptable part of the birthday tradition and very fun.

I’m very okay with all of this, no snark even if it may sound that way, promise.

But, here, I couldn’t help myself. Jim’s been complaining about a shrub that has grown so high he can’t see clearly to the north when exiting our driveway. So I, and my gardening partner Frances, chopped that baby down today! To the stump! In its place, I erected a Happy Birthday Jim sign (which he has not yet noticed and I may have to point it out, but it’s the thought that counts).

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Just a teeny little addition to the birthday mix.

Rose Up

April 28, 2015

Baltimore burns.

Decades of injustice has brought us to yet another very bad moment in time. Racially-based injustices, racially motivated police brutality, the right to protest, the role of violence…. our country’s got a big, nasty, giant mess on its hands.

And a lot of distance to go to get right.

I saw a white guy on Facebook today stand up for black people and get accused of white guilt by another white person. Yelled at, called out, all caps, the whole ugly deal, for being a guy who just acknowledged that we’re not all playing the game under the same rules.

I know people with big juicy hearts. They’re moral, they’re consistent in their morality, they’re guided by respect and fairness, they genuinely, deeply care. But you better watch out if it’s not the right kind of caring… somebody else’s idea of caring.

The problem is that people just don’t listen to each other. Anywhere, really–in politics, in religion. But at this moment in Baltimore people aren’t listening. Things get twisted pretty quickly among the non-listening people.

I quieted a couple of the more shrill, hysterical, fear-baiting voices in my Facebook feed today. Quieting is my own euphemism for unfollowing but not unfriending. If I unfriended all the people whose posts hurt my heart, I’d have far fewer family members and oldie friends left in my Facebook-o-sphere. This way, they’re still there, I just don’t have to listen to them. Because, the truth?, their anger (and ignorance and fear) is just too painful, even if it’s not directed at me.

If you speak with an open heart, though, I’ll listen. Promise.

Better listening is what we need.

How about a rose today.

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I cook so little around here, it’s kind of an event when I do.. thus my tendency to share every detail, like it was some kind of culinary Nobel Achievement.

It almost does not get simpler than tomato soup, almost by definition, right? But let’s just pretend I’m Thomas Keller or Alice Waters (Can I name any other chefs? I don’t think so.).  Here’s the step by step:

Start with plump, organic heirlooms from the Farmer’s Market:

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Cut them up and place them on a baking dish. Then dice some shallots and peel some garlic:

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Add the shallots and garlic to the tomatoes and sprinkle a whole bunch of basil on top.

You’re going to put this in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes in order to roast and caramelize the tomatoes:

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Note to self: Next time, chop the basil and mix it into the cut tomatoes, lest you char (burn) the leaves.

When done, transfer to a pot, add chicken broth and heat for a few minutes:

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The recipe said you could mash with a potato masher until the desired consistency, or you could blend it (I used a blender then returned it to the pot to add just a bit of cream:

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Just like Campbell’s, but fresher and more pure.

And who knew…?  It’s the boy’s favorite soup. (This occasional cook loves to be complimented by her finicky son.)

So glad we have a long tomato and basil season ahead.

Weekend Colors

April 26, 2015

Red…

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Orange, Yellow….

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Green..

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Blue…

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Purple…

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It was a vibrant weekend that included Farmer’s Market and a home baseball game with an after-picnic that we hosted for all the players and their families. Yeow.

(Sorry for the earworm.)

Quake in Nepal

April 25, 2015

I usually don’t use this space to talk about world events.

This particular world event– yesterday’s 7.8 earthquake in Nepal–however, is profoundly devastating and because I visited some of the areas most impacted, I’m feeling connected to the tragedies unfolding there.

I see that Facebook has a feature that allows people to reach out to those who might be affected. It also provides a way for those who are there to let people know they are safe. It’s called “Safety Check,” and seems like a good use of the platform. I’ve now used it to check in on Homnath, Pradip, and the folks at Himalayan Glacier Trekking. April and May are the peak climbing months, so HGT is in full swing and it’s likely all the guides are trekking.  So far, Homnath and the HGT operation are okay; I haven’t yet heard back from Pradip. Hari, Bill C’s friend from Peace Corps days and an extremely kind man who hosted us (myself, Leslie and Laura) for an afternoon following the trek, is not someone I am connected to on Facebook, so not sure how to find him (except Bill’s trying to reach him via email). But man, communication lines have to be pretty impaired; I”m not sure how immediate any of the info is, or how effective any of the efforts to reach people are. Sure things are chaotic.

The devastation I’m reading about is incredibly overwhelming. I’ve seen footage and photos of structures turned to complete rubble in Durbar Square, an area in Kathmandu we visited the day before we took off on our trek. Durbar Square is the huge plaza in front of the old Royal Palace and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I cannot fathom the task of sorting through the destruction in a country where the infrastructure is so unstable to begin with and the emergency response systems so challenged. Kathmandu is enormously dense.. very, very little open space. I just can’t imagine how they’re getting in there to remove fallen bricks, stones, wood & glass, where they’re sending people who are injured, what they’re doing as thunderstorms pound the area (so says the current weather report). Electricity’s down, water’s scarce, people have nowhere to go. I think a million people are packed in there.

Here is a shot of Thamal from the trip four years ago (almost to the day)… a particularly popular and densely packed area.. and nothing, I imagine, built to any sort of code:

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Here’s a shot taken from Hari’s rooftop, also four years ago, that shows a typical residential area:

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Okay… well… the best thing to do is send money. I’ve sent some to the American Himalayan Foundation, confident they’ll direct it where it is most needed, particularly to the Solu-Khumbu regions (near Everest). I don’t really know what else to do.  Hoping aid gets in and people get the help they need, asap.

Here are some pictures we took of Durbar Square (some of these are mine, some are Rick’s):

The bustle of the square, densely packed with old and new structures…

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Pigeons, cows, folks…P1030749

Art, historic buildings… P1030760

And some ladies sitting right outside the palace, hanging out. P1030768

Photos online today are showing mostly piles of rubble and assuming lots of buried people. It’s all just profoundly overwhelming and heartbreaking.

The Glamorous Life

April 24, 2015

We baseball parents, I tell ya. it’s a glamorous life. We know how to have fun on a Friday night.

Tonight was the third game (of four) this week. If I ruled the world, we’d have games daily, with a few double headers thrown in for good measure. And I’m not even weird. There is at least one, and maybe many more, baseball parents who feel the same way.

Anyway, this is where we dine:

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I have fallen in love with the Sofrita bowl at Chipotle–spicy tofu served over a double order of brown rice, a few black beans, grilled veggies, corn, chunky salsa, and a sprinkle of cheese. Oh my lord in heaven (if I had one)!  It is fantastic.

And this is what we gaze lovingly upon, though pretend to ignore:

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Tonight’s subset: Solly, Ray (hidden), Daniel, Peter and Gabe. It was a very busy restaurant on a Saturday in Elk Grove. To their right was a group of guys from the Cosumnes River baseball team, and to their left, a group from some Pleasant Grove baseball team.

And for the record, Davis won tonight (6-5), as they should have, against Monterey Trail–a team that was not expected to give them any trouble, but did. Peter started and pitched well for his four innings, which was a good thing since his last outing was not one for the record books. Yay him/them.

And lucky us, there is a game tomorrow, an off-the-record game against Maria Carillo, a team they lost to at this year’s big fancy Boras Tournament.

That is, if it doesn’t rain too much tonight (100% chance at midnight! Great for California.).

These are clouds, kids:

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The Slog of the Blog

April 23, 2015

As you may have gathered (or perhaps not), I’m a wee bit behind in my blogging. Have a couple of days of blogs to back fill. And will… One is very tedious, having drifted far from my original intent, and the other is just suffering for lack of even the barest of themes.

Hmmmmmm.

The trials of the daily blog.

In the meantime, pardon me while I simply upload a few colorful, charming scenes from a couple of trips downtown today:

Wandering down the alley between D and E:

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We think this is Marilyn, right?

[Note: I’ve since learned it’s not Marilyn at all. This artist (William Maul) favors women of a certain mood. Check this out.]

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Then, further down the alley, across from the Pence, we have the bees:

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Which I love.

Thank goodness for downtown art.

Finally, a late afternoon visit with Adele at Cloud Forest… a friend for upwards of 33 years! So long ago that I can’t remember whether she was wandering by the park one day and saw me playing tennis and stopped to watch, or the other way around. But we met in a Davis park and had our first conversation through a chain link fence. We both acknowledged a lot of life has happened since then.

I should have taken a picture of her–definitely among my most beautiful friends–but instead I took a picture of my carrot-orange-beet juice. And oatmeal cookie.

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Go figure.

(Unrelated note: This cracked me up: I was walking from Mishka’s this afternoon to El Toro Bravo to have lunch with Jim. As I quickly rounded the final corner, I almost ran into, literally, two white-haired guys, talking, walking and laughing.  One was Jerry, a guy I hadn’t seen in years, sort of dated maybe once, but have been friends with forever, and Duff, the dad of one of Peter’s daycare and preschool buddies. I was shocked they knew each other. To find out, they didn’t. They’d met just fifteen yards earlier while standing in the downtown postoffice–one had asked the other, somewhat rhetorically, spontaneously, what he thought of some artwork on a piece of mail he’d just opened. This started the briefest of conversations–lasted about twelve seconds–interrupted by my near miss of both when rounding the corner at D and 3rd. THIS then started the funniest of conversations about our connections and histories. Eventually, Duff had to run, but Jerry joined Jim and me as we ate (he shared our chips) and then gave us lots of leads for our upcoming Paris trip… he has an apartment there and shows his paintings in a gallery in the 6th arrondissement. Yes. Right where we’re staying. It’s just funny how these things happen.]

R Street Redux

April 22, 2015

Found myself in this Sacramento neighborhood again today:

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I was here on Monday to meet my ol’ kindergarten pal Sarah for lunch at Magpie Cafe. I was too embarrassed to take a picture of my lunch that day (a BLT w/ purple potato salad, if you must know) because I wouldn’t want Sarah–who knows me best as a youngster in bobby socks and saddle shoes who played a mean game of Nation Ball–to think I grew up to be a person who takes pictures of food with her camera phone to post on her daily blog.

That would be weird.

I was back today because I was in the neighborhood again, this time serving as a proxy parent, attending an orientation at a very cool school not far from R Street on a friend’s behalf. (This friend is considering this school for her son next year, but couldn’t be here for today’s orientation, as she lives on the other side of the planet. So I went.). When the orientation was over, I found myself with an hour to kill before driving down to Elk Grove for a baseball game (yahoo!), so … you know … went back to the Magpie Cafe for a late and quick lunch:

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And today it was the Salad Trio of the Day: a quinoa salad that was just excellent, an asparagus salad with sesame seeds that was perfection, and a yellow beet salad that was the best beet salad I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot of beet salads because I love beets in any color).

I got to sit outside on an insanely lovely day, eat my salad trio, drink some great lemonade, read this book that I’m starting to enjoy quite a bit (I am eating my words here) and listen to some Hendrix in the background. I mean really.

Did I mention I was killing time before heading to a baseball game?

Happy, happy, happy me.

Here’s a nice shot driving home a few hours later, following a mercy rule defeat at the hands of our league’s #1 team (the Thundering Herd). The 10-0 loss did not take anything away from this awesome day…

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Maybe Too Prodigal

April 21, 2015

At the recommendation of just about every woman friend I know, I decided to read a Barbara Kingsolver book, and this one in particular, because people who love her, seem to love this one the most:

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So far, too prodigal.

That is, I almost threw the book across the room after the first paragraph because it was just too much. Too in love with itself. Too in love with its own writing. Too coy. After that first paragraph, I said disgustedly to Jim, “I hate this book.”

Before I threw it across the room, Jim suggested I give it a little more time.

Now, having read, oh, about fifteen pages, I’m settling into the story (as much as there is so far), settling into her rhythm, have a teeny sense now of where the book may be going, and what that damn first paragraph was all about. A teeny sense.

This was actually about a week ago. Maybe ten days ago? Been hard to muster the enthusiasm to continue on. Given the choice of falling asleep reading Prodigal Summer or playing Spider, Spider keeps winning out.

So, we shall see.