And…. Submit!

November 30, 2015

Jim and Peter have given the UC college application a final review….


… plunked down a credit card for $490, and clicked the submit button!


Seven down (actually eight down, as he submitted an app to Cal Poly SLO a week and a half ago) and seven to go. He’s got a couple of reach schools to go, a couple of safety schools, and a handful of good bets. UCs are definitely the prominent prospects.

He likes the lots of options approach.

Lots of emotions for me. Like wow! our little kiddo just applied to college. COLLEGE. We’ve been watching this significant, if daunting, milestone approach for years and here it is. It’s huge and something you really want for your kid. And… it signals the end of a major chapter in all of our lives, the living together chapter, the the way it’s always been chapter.


And now, we wait.



Knock, Knock…

November 29, 2015

Who’s there?

You see.

You see who?

UC that I finished my college application? (!!)

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 8.20.28 AM

It’s late on the eve of the deadline… but he did it.

He’d finished most of the application a couple weeks ago. The most labor intensive part of the application, the essays–there were two–were finished a couple weeks ago, but he wanted to tweak them just a little, and that was all that remained. Thought we’d wrap this up early and go to bed.

However, as we were reviewing the application to make sure everything was complete and accurate, we discovered an optional question toward the end–something like, “Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?” This was a 550-word opportunity we maybe shouldn’t pass up, an opportunity to expand on some aspect of Peter’s high school experience, or  add something that wasn’t already included, or just generally leave them with a more complete story of who Peter is– beyond grades and test scores.

He texted a friend to find out if he had answered the question. He had not, claiming it made you seem too desperate.

We all talked about it. Jim made a compelling case for highlighting Peter’s life-long obsession with mountain climbing.

He was game and got to work.

What’s more, he was open to my reading and commenting on his essay. I was pretty pleased about that! (Very impressed, too, with what he wrote.) Definitely good mom-son time.. which was great because it’d been a stressful day of his procrastinating and our walking that desperate line between needing to push him to complete the application and wanting him to take responsibility for his own damn college apps.

Anyway, he was in a very good place when the final essay writing began and it was a productive and actually fun few hours.

He finished around 2:00am and screen-shotted the above pic (then started his calculus and government homework.. ugh). I went to bed.

Super happy the application is done. Will review it one last time tomorrow before sending it in….


Fall in the Farmer’s Market

November 28, 2015

Got in late last night, woke early (still on Florida time) and walked, coldly, to Farmer’s Market.

Some shots:



Watched this crow foraging for bugs under the bark and leaves of this sycamore just above our bench in the plaza…


The market was all fallish… and so, so nice:


A stop at Davis Bread and Desserts…


To get Peter his usual elfinear (Elephant Ear, aka cinnamon crisp):


Ran into Larry, and ended up spending an hour with him… very nice!


Another shot on the way to the Coop…


And one of my favorite trees in Davis. Saddle up!


Loving this weather.


… the whole nine enchiladas!

(My new favorite mixed metaphor… I’m planning on using it a lot.)

Marty, Teresa, Jim, Peter and I dropped the senior Frames off at the Palm Beach airport (nice) (where Peter saw a Trump plane on the tarmac… maybe THE Trump plane, maybe with THE Trump in it). Then we had a couple of hours to pass before J, P and I needed to head back to Miami to catch our flight… so, Marty suggested a quickie driving tour of the island.

Palm Beach is kind of a monied place. I did not know this. We got a good look at a lot of it, and now I have a pretty good picture in my mind of what it means when someone says they live in Palm Beach.  The rich, the famous…who knew? The celebrity list of people living there is pretty impressive.

As we approached the island from West Palm Beach (on the mainland), we saw the usual yachts and boats bobbing in the marina…


And this is a lovely, thickly-planted Palm-lined boulevard once you’ve arrived on the island…


Beautifully manicured golf courses…


Couldn’t help notice the kind of cars parked outside the Breakers Hotel, there were Rolls Royces, Jaguars, Teslas, Peugeots…


Here’s the Breakers Hotel out the back window as we are driving away:


Drove along Ocean Blvd…


The beach is public, but access points are often not, as each of the mansions–to the right in the above picture–has its own private access. The beach, as seen from the road, is gorgeous…


IMG_0974 The above two shots were taken from our jeep.

We did find a public access access point and Peter and I ventured out…


At least got to dip our feet into the warm Atlantic…


Here he’s glaring at me…it’s a long story:


Then we drove through some of the neighborhoods off Ocean Blvd, wending our way back to the commercial district. These houses were more modest but spectacular nonetheless. Seems sharply trimmed hedges are a thing on Palm Beach:


And trees trimmed with careful precision, too!


We came, saw, and gawked.. then left…


Drove south on I-95 through Boco Raton, Ft. Lauderdale. On the way, we passed the Swimming Hall of Fame and another, maybe the Fishing Hall of Fame….

…Reflecting, we concluded Florida is a lot about boating (yachting, speed boating), golfing, tennis, equestrian life (Wellington, particularly, had numerous equestrian venues, as well as the Equestrian Hall of Fame… in fact, I read Bill Gates has a house in Wellington because his daughter is a horse girl), palm trees, beaches, nightclubs, light blue water, white sand, islands galore, bright green vegetation as far as the eye can see, air conditioning, alligators, banana spiders, Cuban culture, youth who dress fabulously, retirees who want to live their days out in the easy warmth, snowbirds who escape the New York winters, celebrities and wealthy people with a crazy amount of money and the desire to spend it lavishly, deco, pastels… and palmetto bugs. We also know there’s Disney World and Epcot and the Kennedy Space Center and the everglades… so we’re glad Marty is settling there so we can visit again. In the winter.

Anyway… after about an hour and a half, got to Miami Internat’l airport.

The Miami airport’s huge… here’s a shot of some neato windows…


We left 70-degrees, and hit cold weather at LAX. We were again shuttled from some remote terminal to the Tom Bradley terminal, not sure why. We boarded outside, not sure why. American Airline is a mystery… pleasant enough customer service, but no meals, pay for luggage, check in and tag your own luggage, and some nutty terminal arrangements. But all fine.

Our plane in LA…


By the time we got to Sac, the temps had dropped even more.. down to the low 40s and dropping. Waiting for the Davis Airporter in the frigid temperatures was an effective and convincing selling point for visiting Florida again in the winter.






Thanksgiving in Florida

November 26, 2015

Turns out Thanksgiving in Florida is kind of exactly like Thanksgiving just about anywhere I’ve ever had it. Mostly.

You got your Thanksgiving day electrical project:


Your football:


Your too many cooks in the kitchen:


That would be Connie, Justin, Elisa, Jim, Emmy, Alexis, Marty and Figaro.

And then we have Emmy, the most casual of cooks:


Your napping:

(I have the best napping picture ever, but promised not to post it to my blog. I’ll leave it to your imagination, but it’s great.)

Your favorite holiday dishes: I got to make my favorite cranberry sauce, which I might have to admit I’m addicted to:


You make whole berry cranberry sauce more or less the usual way, but substitute OJ for water and add some orange zest and rosemary. Killer.

Your group-around-the-table shot:


Jim, Jim Sr, Elisa, Justin, Connie, Alexis, Martin, Emmy, Teresa and Peter.

And maybe another because it’s hard to see faces in the table shot:


The patriarch, his three kids, a wife, a daughter-in-law and a grandson.

And of course…your desserts:


…which, because it’s both a birthday party and a traditional Thanksgiving day feast, include the lowly (but exceptional) pumpkin and pecan pies–made this morning–and a pair of not-so-lowly birthday cakes… a five-layer red velvet chocolate cake from the Fountainebleau and the aforementioned three-layer German chocolate cake made last night.  This whole scene reminded me of a Thiebaud still life.

~ ~ ~

And I’m not kidding; everyone went to bed at 9:15. It’s just me and the dogs… me working under a single kitchen table light in an otherwise dark house… Melanie by my feet and Figaro snoozing in the shadow.

Night. Zzzzzzzz…..

…and all through the house…people were cooking, and talking, and shopping… the usual pre-feast day preparations. Tomorrow’s more than the traditional TG thing because it’s also Martin’s 60th birthday, and the reason we are here. So we had birthday prep, as well. And we also had dinner for seven to whip together.

Lots of bustling about!

Jim did the lion’s share of work on a German Chocolate Cake–Marty’s birthday choice.


Marty even helped:


I like this picture because it’s got the senior Frame in the background and Mellie–ever, EVER underfoot–in the foreground.

It’s a three-layer tower of chocolate sweetness… here are the three stories laid out:


Here’s how it finally turned out. Best three-layer cake effort ever!


Continuing on the food theme…

Dinner was pulled pork sliders, coleslaw and baked beans. Incredible. Take a pork butt (aka shoulder), rub it with herbs and spices and let it sit a couple of days in the refrigerator. Then slow bake it for about eight hours, remove it, and proceed to pull it off bone with a pair of forks. Tender, shredded, immensely flavorful meat. Put on small buns with sweet BBQ sauce. Ridiculously good.

Here’s Teri doing the pull apart part:


Here’s the dinner spread:


Peter and I snuck out for a nice long walk, in search of one of these residential lakes everyone seems to live on out here in Wellington. Found one:


Martin’s house is across the street from lakeshore houses, which is okay with him.. he’s got a pool. People also live along canals, which are also everywhere. You just can’t get any more different than California:


No alligators, but you’re supposed to keep an eye out for water moccasins. I also think I may have seen a flamingo.

By the way, today’s high, about 75. Low will be 70. Humidity about 80%.






Wellington Day

November 24, 2015

We came, we saw…now we hang. Decided to forgo the long haul over to Orlando (Epcot and Disney World) in favor of just being with the family. Good choice. Some shots on the day:

First off, here’s Martin’s new house. The sale closed in June, and, slowly, he’s been making the transition from a 33-year life in New York City to a less frenetic life in Florida, where winters are a bit less harsh. (A bit less harsh: winters in the 70s during the day, 60s at night, light breezes, humidity sufficient to bathe your skin in a nurturing, protective warmth… shorts and sandals!)


Setting up household is exactly what you’d expect…new furniture, supplies, paint, fixtures, rugs, towels, kitchen stuff … the whole nine yards.

Wellington is a town a bit west of Palm Beach, about an hour and fifteen minutes north of Miami (if you take the turnpike), and, according to Money Magazine, is one of the top 100 places to live in the country.

So there ya go.

We are getting to know the community a teeny bit, at least through its shopping centers.. doing a lot of this:


A lot of this:


(That is Teresa caramelizing onions for some French Onion soup.)

Doing a lot of this… (Elisa):


(Jim, Sr and Melanie):




A bit of time to check in and keep up:


Here’s how dinner turned out:

The soup was fantastic. I am so making this recipe (Julia Child’s w/ a little extra butter in the broth):


Chicken Marengo (which apparently goes back to Napoleon days, when somebody prepared a pre-battle chicken meal but ran out of butter and made the dish with olive oil, which he loved. He won the battle of Marengo and thereafter ate the dish before each subsequent battle. So the story goes.):


The evening was so pleasant. Relaxed, comfortable. Marty played a lot of classical piano and we ended the evening watching Laura (1944) with Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, directed by Otto Preminger. The movie was good. The post-movie dissertation Marty delivered, including the history of the movie/book/theater production,a trip through the lives of all of its stars, and tons of related and non-related facts from the era was the real treat. Really loved that.

Loved the whole down day.

Water World

November 23, 2015

Woke to a bright and sunny day with a smooth blue sky. A perfect morning to explore South Beach. Oh boy!

But first, a few shots of our hotel, because it was pretty sweet:


Right? Note the pastel umbrellas, which truly served a purpose.


Our deck:


The blue sky was a nice backdrop for the deco, I thought. Here are just a few I took this morning, here and there.



I particularly love this one…




This is a little tricked out, but I like it:


Here’s breakfast at a random beachfront-ish hotel. People watching was a trip. Some pretty outrageous outfits. Had a wonderful spinach and strawberry smoothie and spicy hash.

I like the Jim’s glow:


We took a walk on the beach, this time with Peter. Here’s another shot of their cool lifeguard stands:




Chaise lounges as far as the eye can see, set among the endless ribbon of hotels… miles and miles and miles. I had really wanted to see this part of Miami..


It always amazes me how people can camp out for a day on a chaise lounge. It sounds a lot better than it is in practice. After ten minutes I’d be done. Still…. it’s a thing.. people from all walks, from all corners of the globe… all shapes and sizes.

The boardwalk (stonewalk) that runs the length.. also beautiful.



We then hit the road.  We were off to meet a passel of Frames in Key Largo. Some shots en route:



I’m telling you: green. And water just everywhere. It’s enough to make a Californian cry.


We met up with Jim Sr, Elisa, Teresa, Marty and two friends of Marty’s (Victor’s sister Emmy and her daughter Alexis). Had lunch at a restaurant on Key Largo.

Then Emmy and Alexis split off and we explored the John Pennenkamp Coral Reef State Park.

Explored is an overstatement. We pulled into a parking lot, stood at water’s edge for about 20 minutes, then took off for Wellington! But it was nice to set foot upon another key, see a bit of island coastline and some local fauna. This is an American White Ibis.


And this is that passel of Frames!


I may like them better from this angle (and with a nicer camera). And yeah, that’s a cannon. Sure it’s got some historical import.


This may qualify as local fauna… boats hibernating:


I cannot get enough of these trees.


It took hours and hours to get to Wellington. Holiday traffic or an accident… not sure what. But it took forever. We arrived at Marty’s new place and had a great lasagne dinner, and that was that day–many miles, many palms, lots of waterways, expansive vistas of deep green grass and vegetation…









Miami Nice

November 22, 2015

Saw as much of Miami as a person could see in a day, perhaps.

Started like this:

Headed back down to Ocean…


Then a nice walk on the beach…


Took in some deco along the way…


Love this crosswalk …


Sat in a sidewalk cafe for a long breakfast, waiting on a son who never showed up (a combination of staying up until the wee hours watching old episodes of Seinfeld, and jet lag)…



(Jim looks like his brother here…)

We sat through successive bouts of rain. With each downpour, people would abandon the beach in waves. It was hilarious. They apparently wouldn’t take any time to re-clothe themselves (why bother?); just made hasty retreats!


It’s really something to behold, these tropical regions… sun, dark clouds, rain, sometimes all at once. It’s warm, humid, wet. But, I have to say, pleasant enough.. at least in November when the temperatures top out in the 70s or low 80s.


After a couple hours, we rounded up the kiddo and headed out on a driving tour of the environs. First, north along the island on A1A (Collins) through South Beach, North Beach, Bal Harbor… past beachfront hotel after beachfront hotel after beachfront hotel. Saw lots of ritzy houses and yachts on inner coastal waterways.

And lots of spectacular art deco:


Found our way to a place called the Oleta River State Park. Walked around for about an hour–along the water and through jungly paths…



Tested it for temp…it was warm…


Peter, freaked, sighted a big hairy spider… Jim, of course, checked it out..


Got this shot…


Turned out, it was a banana spider. This from Wikipedia:

In Florida and other southeastern states, the golden silk spider, or as we call them the banana spider, is the large orange and brown spider with the feathery tufts on its legs well know to most native southerners. It is particularly despised by hikers and hunters, as during late summer and fall the large golden webs of this species make a sticky trap for the unwary. The female is distinctively colored, and is among the largest orb-weaving spiders in the country. The female is 25 mm to 40 mm long and has conspicuous hair tufts on her long legs. Males are about 4 mm to 6 mm long, dark-brown, and are often found in the webs of females. These spiders feed primarily on flying insects, which they catch in webs that may be greater than a meter in diameter.

And Peter got the hell out of dodge…


The park also had lots of cool non-California-like vegetation.





And just lots of verdant greenery:


(With creepy crawlers most certainly contained within.) (Poor Peter.)

Then it was off to Little Havana for a late lunch.


We ate [not at that place above but] at Exquisito Restaurant on Calle Ocho for some traditional Cuban cuisine. Enjoyed the proprietor, who commented on all of our choices and reminded us of Chris Christie. Here is the fantastic (greasy, meaty, salty, crunchy) Cuban fried rice I got, with a side of sweet, caramelized fried plantains…


Domino Park is in the center of the action…


If you look closely, you’ll see some dapperly dressed gentlemen. Here is another guy I happened by:


After all the rain, the afternoon brought some shockingly blue skies and piercing sunlight. In this picture, the blue skies are behind me.


We took off in the late afternoon and drove south to Coconut Grove, one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods. It’s a place I’d certainly heard of, but didn’t know anything about. What we saw of it was lovely.

Then drove up their Highway 1 to the bridge that takes you to Key Biscayne. Absolutely beautiful in that water, marina, yacht, skyline, mansion kind of way. We drove over the water and around an impressively opulent neighborhood. We were witness to a jaw dropping sunset. I have no interest in living in Florida, but for ten minutes, I did.

I had no power left in my camera for any of this, so no pics from me… but Peter got a couple nice ones, shot from the back seat:



Got back to South Beach and chilled for an hour or so, then decided to wander around looking for dessert. Ended up at a bakery for some great, fresh baked cookies. Took a couple of night pics… one of the hotel across the street…


And one of the night life on Ocean Drive…


All and all, it’s a pretty exciting place.















Hit and Miss

November 21, 2015

It was a day of travel, so no big stories to tell. And because it was travel, it was a day of hits and misses…

MISS: As in miss-communication on departure time. Janet was on track to be on time, but it was the wrong time she was on track to be. Or something like that. Jim called, she rushed over.. in green polka dot PJs. She drove us to the airport in those.

Maybe that was a hit, after all. No pictures, but it was pretty funny.

HIT: For mysterious airlines reasons, we were upgraded to First Class.  Unfortunately, it was only  the Sacramento to LAX portion of our travel day. But, hey: FIRST CLASS.


HIT: The view flying out of LAX was unusually stunning, mostly because we circumnavigated Palos Verdes, something I don’t get a chance to do often. I was on the wrong side of the plane for the really good views, but still managed this interesting one with Catalina in the background.


MISS: The flight from LAX to Miami was four uneventful hours that went by very quickly. Which was nice. But did you know that on a transcontinental flight they don’t serve meals anymore? Kind of ridiculous. The flight attendant even balked when I asked for a water refill. Said she, “They don’t give us enough water sometimes; I have to be careful that we don’t run out.”


She did agree to another half glass. I’m serious. Water. They were rationing me.

HIT, I guess: By the time they came around a second time, she felt confident the supply would last, so she gave me two glasses. Two separate glasses. I am not kidding.

Air travel’s gotten really weird.

HIT: In the new experience category… we landed in Miami. The Miami airport is enormous. We heard more Spanish than English. I did not realize Spanish was that predominant.

HIT: What we lacked in flight features, we more than made up for in our rental car. We’d reserved a Toyota Corolla or similar and got this:


It took us several miles to figure out how to roll up the windows, and a few more to get the rest of our bearings, but it’s a fun car to drive around in. Plus: RED JEEP.

HIT: Arrived in the South Beach portion of Miami–about 8-9 miles from the airport. Immediately found ourselves in the heart of art-decosville. We pulled right up to the Chesterfield Hotel on Collins, in the heart of the historic art deco district, left our car with the valet, and entered the lobby. Whoa. Loud music thumping away, glitz in all directions. Hilarious.

The bell cap took us to our room–good thing, it was wendy and complicated. Threw our stuff down and headed out to explore… it was about 10:00 pm, east coast time, by the time we hit the streets.

HIT:  South Beach. We headed down Collins a bit…


…then meandered down to Ocean. We wandered through club after club after club, seeing as how the sidewalk passes through the open-to-the-street edge of all of them. The air was warm and humid, the music was loud, the fashion served the mating rituals of 20-somethings. Not mine, but what a scene! Glad to see it.  We’re told it’s just for tourists, that no locals hang out here. Still, nice to have a picture in my mind of that place where kids go on college breaks.


HIT: We were hungry (no food on transcontinental flights anymore, remember?). We found a restaurant on the corner of Collins and about 12th called the Naked Taco. It served up some Mexican cuisine with a Miami twist. We were told the chef (Ralph Pagano) has won some contests on cooking shows, maybe even has a show on a food network, perhaps. Whatever, we had good dishes:


Key West Shrimp, toasted coconut, lime, sriracha aioli, on corn tortilla taco

Mango, chicken, avocado crema, cilantro taco

Chipotle BBQ brisket, crispy onion, jalepeno cilantro crema taco

Elote: grilled street corn, queso fresco and chipotle

Watermelon, tomato, pickled onion, lime, avocado, queso fresco salad

Pineapple lime grilled chicken w/ crispy plantain fries

Churros with chocolate sauce, dulce de leche, and a sweat cream sauce 

Here are the churros…



Welcome to Florida.