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Praying for Rain

September 30, 2015

This mantis prayed.

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And it must have been for rain… because we got some today.

She hung around while we planted some new succulents. Very companionable.

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We mostly planted plants today, focusing primarily on the porch pots…

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We split and repotted the spider plants, added a fuchsia, and embellished the succulents. That fern’s doing its crazy, happy thing; didn’t have to do anything to him.

Added a few new flowers for color in the front yard, too… three gauras, six vincas, and one of these lacy, cream-colored flowers, whose name I’ve forgotten.. begins with a c.

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We’d gotten a very late start on the summer garden, so now, on the eve of October, we are finally getting some tomatoes …

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(And peppers, arugula, eggplant, chard…)

Here’s a cantaloupe we thought was cucumber…

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Finally, a half ripe Meyer lemon…

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I love Wednesdays. The yard’s looking fine.

Frances even complimented me on my willingness to live with all the leaves (great moisture-preserving mulch layer). I admit, it took some getting used to–tidy person who favors discreet lines that I am.

All for the cause, you know?

In fact, we talked quite a bit today about what it’s going to take to live in California going forward as climate change imposes continued and unprecedented dryness upon our state. Obviously, we’re going to have to get used to a whole new way of gardening.

So we are.

Kale and Hearty

September 29, 2015

The Dining Divas theme this time around was Healing Foods, in honor of one of our members who’s dealing with a cancer diagnosis (dealing admirably well, I should add).

My assignment for this quarter’s meal was the vegetable. I googled healthy, healing, powerhouse vegetables and, of course, all roads led to kale. So I made a kale dish…. Gingery Creamed Kale and Cabbage.

Here’s how you do it:

First, wash and de-stem a pound and a half of kale…

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Boil it for about six minutes until it’s pretty tender.

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When drained, it’ll look like something Popeye used to eat out of a can.

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Coarsely chop that and set it aside.

Then coarsely chopped half of a white onion…

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… and saute it in about three tablespoons of canola oil until soft, about five minutes.

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Then coarsely chop about half a pound of cabbage:

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Grate about 3 teaspoons of ginger and add a quarter teaspoon of turmeric to that…

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.. then add the ginger, cabbage and turmeric to the sauteed onion, and continue to saute until the cabbage is wilted, about five minutes. Next, add a cup of heavy cream, cover and simmer for about eight minutes, until the cream has thickened.

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Finally, add the chopped kale and heat through.

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At this point you can set the whole thing aside for later, or you can serve it immediately. In either case, just before serving, add half a cup of buttermilk to the whole mixture (and heat). The buttermilk sort of sours up the heaviness of the cream, and really works to balance the whole dish. I thought it was a great final ingredient.

So… that’s it.. a heathy and tasty dish. It’s not at all low-cal because of the cream, but it’s a nice way to get a lot of super high-octane kale!

Here are a few other of the dishes from our dinner (two nights ago):

The appetizer… cucumber slices with a topping of tomato and feta (lemon, basil and vinegar, too):

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A salad of candied pecans, raspberries, blue cheese, peaches, tossed in a light peach-balsamic vinaigrette:

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Broiled teriyaki salmon, black Chinese rice and my kale, served with an organic table white. IMG_9803

Dessert was a fantastic rustic apple tart with an apricot glaze and whipped cream of which I have no pictures. Ate it too fast.

Met my kindergarten pal Sarah at her cool studio loft on R Street this afternoon.

She prepared a simple yet sumptuous repast…

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..which we ate on the rooftop.

(Beets and goat cheese, hummus with carrots and almonds, crackers & brie and some lemony, olive-oily beans that were great.)

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(I’m tellin’ ya…)

This Warehouse Artists Loft (WAL for short) is a pretty swell place to hang out. Not only is it architecturally attractive, overflowing with art, and located in a neighborhood densely packed with hip restaurants, but the first floor of the building is a small public marketplace with its own eclectic assortment of vendors…a juice bar and sandwich shop, a fish place, a rug store, a men’s shoemaker, a flower stall and.. a vintage clothing store where I happened to find a pair of boots I’m sure I need…

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…and bought (like I ever do that).

Rediscovering kindergarten pals on the eve of turning 60 is kind of a hoot. I know I wrote about this before–last spring when four of us from the way back olden days met up for the first time since high school–but I will say again: it just becomes a pretense-free zone. Like who do we need to impress? Nobody. We talked honestly (brutally) about this stage of life, what it all means, how disorienting retirement is, how we got here, what our kids are doing, what our husbands are doing, how ridiculous college admissions have become, how embarrassing presidential campaigns have become, about her rooftop hay bale garden plot, how to plant gardens that optimize insect and bee populations, and how maybe we’ll just go to the French Laundry for dinner sometime. Those kinds of things.

Such a nice afternoon.

Drove through downtown Davis on my way home.. and had to stop to shoot this:

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Kind of a busy sky.

Did you hear they found water on Mars today? Mars may have more water than California!

Tonight, there was a super moon–super big, super bright–but I missed most of its special effects due to clouds on the horizon where a giant rising moon should have been. By the time it rose over the clouds, it seemed like any other moon, except…. it was behind a big earth shadow and appeared sort of reddish due to tonight’s other unique lunar phenomenon–a total eclipse… which was also hard to fully appreciate because I was viewing tonight’s moon from the middle of a well-lit street, trying to look beyond the headlights of passing cars, which rendered that big ol’ eclipsed super moon a tad faint.

I’ve already seen some impressive photos posted online, so I’m not feeling deprived. And I did get to lay my eyes on this once-every-couple-decades event, so I’m satisfied.

I took the obligatory photo, with my good camera, even.. but this is all I got:

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And that was with lots of zooming and photo enhancing.

Pictures on the Day

September 26, 2015

It’s going to have to be another set of more or less random images. Too late, too tired, and maybe too much wine. Or ice cream. Or all of the above. It’s about all I can do to throw this much together.

I’m only sorry I missed the stunning flourish of cirrus clouds at sunset. What a show-off Mr. Sky was tonight. I did manage, however, to collect a few other pictures on the day, so here goes:

Early morning shot of Compassion Corner and the earth bench on my way to get coffee…

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A little while later, we ran into David himself at Farmer’s Market. He returned to town just a couple of weeks ago and is settling in to write his next book. Had an interesting conversation about what is really found at the core of human beings. He had a more compassionate take on this question than I did (I’ve been reading too much about the presidential race, gun violence and the world’s reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis. Easy to get cynical and believe that maybe greed, power, and ignorance are more dominant than love, kindness and compassion.  It’s why I like running into David… he always re-inspires my weary soul.

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Wes took a great photo of Peter on the mound today. As he always does. And what’s more, it’s an 0 and 2 count. Peter was one of six pitchers today. The boys went on to win the 12-inning game, 12-5. Their record so far this summer: Six wins, no losses.

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Somewhere along the line today, probably at the high school baseball field, I ran over a thorn on my bike and ended up with a very flat tire. It showed up when it was time to leave Carrie and Marc’s house this afternoon (where six of us assembled–assembly-line-style–500 boxes of beautiful, handmade photographic note cards for an upcoming fundraiser for Putah Creek Council).  Here’s my bike… one tire short.

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Here’s Marc patching my tube. It has been a very long time since I’ve done anything of the sort. It was a great place to discover a flat tire, I’ll say that. I think the patch is going to hold, too!

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Back Up North

September 25, 2015

As I looked over iPhone shots taken in the last 24 hours to see if there was anything to write about, I decided I could go with a Northern California theme… so here goes:

Nothing says Central Valley like a farm scape, as seen from the air… sort of like a Phil Gross painting that has come to life. This was shot late afternoon yesterday flying into Sac. I couldn’t resist an HDR filter:

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This was shot last night while running from one classroom to another at the annual (and our last!) Back to School Night. I have to say, this is one of my favorite school events. I absolutely love tracing the path of Peter’s school day and listening to short, often rushed, presentations by all his teachers. It’s such a kick to sit in each class with the parents of all his classmates–so many of whom we’ve known since elementary school, and in some cases, pre-school.  As we darted across campus between his third and fourth period classes, I looked up to see this dramatic sky. No filter on this one, but I did give it a shot of clarity.

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Had breakfast with Elliot this morning and then took a walk around Cesar Chavez park down by the Berkeley Marina. This one has a 70s filter:

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This was shot driving across the causeway tonight on our way to an anniversary dinner at Ella’s (good restaurant, by the way). I don’t think I did anything to this one other than crop out the guard rail… just a rice field at about 7:00pm.

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Driving across the Tower Bridge. Again, I think the sunset did all the work on this one. No filter, but I may have given it a little saturation boost in iPhoto.

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And, finally, approaching the Capitol. Again, sunset at work:

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Long Beach State

September 24, 2015

Another highlight of my trip south was receiving from my Aunt Ellie a freshly published book about the history of Long Beach State.

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I guess I’m surprised that a book of this sort didn’t already exist… but maybe nobody really thinks to document these things.  In any case, Barbara Kingley-Wilson now has, and it will be fantastic to read and get a thorough understanding of the stories that lead to what is now California State University Long Beach!

Including its founding in a tiny apartment building in 1949.

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By my grandpa.

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Here’s a photo taken in 1958 after the installation of a $1000 (!) “stone marker,” located at the new and official entrance to campus. Grandpa is the one on the right. He never liked having his picture taken, so there are few to be found…

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The inscription in the book reads:

For Kari, Jim and Peter, 

Keeping a nice memory of Grandpa.

Love Aunt Ellie and Uncle Bud.

SO happy to have this book!

Mom Time

September 23, 2015

You know? I am appreciating these days that I spend with my mom. It’s not exactly a revelation, but some visits are better than others and this was a good one. They are all worthwhile, but, as I’ve documented over the years, some are more challenging. Aging, as I’ve been told, is not for the meek.

Happily, these four days were short on health mishaps, dramas and short fuses, and long on smooth sailing and fun activities well-spaced out.

Met my 7-week old great nephew River! 

Had an extremely lovely lunch with Aunt Ellie on the bay in Long Beach.

Had a fun and funny breakfast with Chris.

Returned to Polly’s on the Pier for a wonderful breakfast for lunch.

Stopped and walked at the beach twice.

Luxuriated in a long, fashion-filled Emmy telecast.

Went to a star-studded yet marginal movie in a theater equipped with reclining chairs.

Enjoyed a full and productive day of boutique shopping. 

Made only one trip to Trader Joe’s, one to Ralph’s and none to CVS.

Cooked up three great dinners and spread them over five nights. 

Talked a lot, lectured only a teeny tiny bit, and heard a lot of good stories from the olden days.

Played 30 games of gin rummy–10 sets, 92 hands. Mom won 15, I won 15.

I think that’s about it. See.. fun, relaxing stuff, nicely spread out.

Here are a few pictures…

Today, down by the Esplanade…

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From Polly’s today, watched a well-trained, 6-year old seagull, Sprinkles, drink water from a cup and eat a row of bread laid out by a waitress (apparently a daily ritual for both).

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Lunch yesterday with Aunt Ellie. Their house is visible from the deck of the Boathouse..a little to the right of mom’s head.

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A shot from Sunday… the beach was crowded as temps have been in the high 80s the whole time I’ve been here!

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And one more… this of the newest little family, taken today, but not by me:

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Alexis, River and John.

And by great, I mean mom’s first great grandchild whom we visited this afternoon in Long Beach. This was my (the great aunt) and great great Aunt Ellie’s first meet up with River, who is now seven weeks old! (Keeping up?)

River was a bit dubious at first, but warmed right up.

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I got to take him for a little spin! Here’s a picture John took and texted to me this evening. It was a sublime few moments until he decided he wasn’t having as much fun as I was, at which point I passed him back to Alexis.

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Here’re the darling new parents–all a-glow–and a tired little guy.

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Great visit. Great kid. Great new parents. Greats all around.

And earlier this afternoon, Mom and I had a great lunch with Aunt Ellie at the Boathouse at the marina.

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They’ve been sisters-in-law a long time!

Great ones, at that.

Bronze Stands for Nineteen

September 22, 2015

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Yesterday, September 21, was the 19-year mark!

I love you, too, Jim! Your handiness and cleverness know no bounds.

xoxo.