Rest in Peace

December 31, 2016


Jim senior passed away last night, a week before his 92nd birthday.

The news was shocking, as news of someone’s death is.

Elisa woke up to realize Jim was not moving. Her brother was visiting–there to help them with a home project–and together they called 911.

And that was that.

Jim Sr. had slowed down a lot in the last year and we suspected he was nearing the end of his life. He wasn’t ill or suffering in any real way, but was sleeping a lot, and Jim said he sounded very tired on the phone.

My first thought after Jim shared the news was how grateful I was that his dad died so peacefully, in his sleep, after a long and healthy life. What more can any of us hope for? I am SO glad this was his experience.

I also thought a lot about his general outlook on life. He seemed so very content with his world. His emails–always, but especially in the last few years–showed that he was as engaged as always, as curious as ever, ready to make whatever home improvements would enrich his and Elisa’s day-to-day life, and just plain satisfied with where he was, what he was doing and who he was with.  He always seemed to be utterly at peace. He kept at it right up until the end–prioritized his health, cooked his favorite dishes, kept abreast of the news, frequented his favorite restaurants, .. and, YESTERDAY, was still directing his brother-in-law on just exactly how the re-epoxying of the garage floor should go.

I get the idea that after a long day and a good dinner, he just went to sleep.

He was pretty up front about having had a good life and being ready when the time came.

That is peace.

Jim was a dignified man. He was very smart, very self-sufficient, a man of many trades. He loved to cook, was a voracious reader and was enormously handy. Jim Sr. gave Jim his early training–how to build stuff, fix stuff, wire stuff, rehab stuff–and totally passed down a sense of competency and agency that has served him (and therefore Peter and me) his whole life (as I write this, Jim’s fashioning a temporary fix on our 30-year old dryer as he awaits a part).

Jim Sr. was a master, MASTER story teller. He could whip stories out like he was dealing cards. He ALWAYS had a story that amplified whatever the topic of conversation was. Many stories came from his life growing up in rural Kansas.  He was one of 11 children–all born in (in) the same Kansas farmhouse–and raised with a very strong work and family ethic. He always spoke in the most reverential way of his parents and an upbringing that was modest but upright, solid, moral and loving.

Here’s a photo of the James Horace Frame family, circa 1949, taken in front of the home of Helen and Christian Wright of Independence, Missouri:


From left, top to bottom: Tom, Dallas, Dean (Alan); Marilee, Ron, Frances; Helen, Lillian Ruth, the original James Horace Frame, Sandra; Michael, Kent (Roger), Jim.

The order goes, I think: Frances, Marilee, Jim, Helen, Ron, Tom, Dean, twins Sandra & Dallas, Kent, Michael. With Jim’s passing last night, there are only four Frame kids left (Dean, Kent, Sandra and Michael).

Jim was the eldest son, named after his dad. My Jim, son of Jim Jr, got the name to (and became the III). Jim and I broke the name tradition with Peter. Even so, I think Peter looks just like his grandpa Jim.

A few things really defined Jim Sr.’s life. One of course was growing up in a huge family where everyone worked hard and contributed to the household. As I said, that was fodder for a million stories, but also was the essence of who he was. Though scattered, the kids (kids, ha) have stayed close and still gather for reunions every couple years. Our next Frame family reunion is in July.

His service experience was also big; serving in WWII both shaped and shattered him. Jim tells me his dad carried the horrors of war with him his entire life, never really recovering from the traumas and losses. His strongest desire, though, still, was to have a military burial–proud of his service to our country. I think that’s pretty amazing.

His marriage to Sonia, a french Brazilian, was also a big life-defining event. They lived in Brazil for awhile, he learned Portuguese, he adopted Brazilian traditions. That he married a Brazilian gal and his brother Dean married her sister, provided a whole nuther layer of remarkable family lore. That the two families always lived within blocks of one another and were essentially a giant blended family with eight kids and four parents just added to the fun. That the Brazilian sisters’ mom–family matriarch of the Brazilian wing–bounced back and forth between the two homes…. well… that’s just a lot more whacky story material.

When he wasn’t telling stories, Jim Sr. was a no-frills man who lived a simple life in Arizona with Elisa (his wife of 45-ish years whom he married after Sonia’s death when Jim was around 18). His phone conversations were hysterically brief. He was quiet and far away down in Oro Valley, but he thought the world of his three children, enjoying the hell out of them whenever we all got together.

He had his flaws, and the relationship that Jim had with him was sometimes complicated. They avoided the deep and complex sorting out of those issues, but in the last twenty years they shared a true mutual respect and warm admiration for one another. There was much to respect and love about Jim Sr.

He was a good man. We shall all miss him.

Wouldn’t you?


As seen at Crepeville, late on a Friday afternoon, lunch with Jim.

The Dish of 2016

December 29, 2016

In the category of timesavers and simplifiers, Jim and I had a very good holiday food thing going this year.

It started sometime in November when I made a very nice side dish to go with a pork tenderloin. It was seasonal and easy, more or less healthy and had great presentation appeal. And it went perfectly with pork.

It was this apple and butternut squash dish I found on the web or maybe it passed through my Facebook feed as a Tasty recipe. Wherever it came from, it was a winner.

Here’s what it looks like in its pre-baked form:


Stating the obvious, those are alternating slices of granny smith apples and butternut squash. They are laid in a buttered dish and topped with a mix of brown sugar, flour, cinnamon (cloves, allspice, whatever you like), and then drizzled with melted butter.

I’ve also combined the butter and sugar mixture and created more of a crumble for sprinkling on top, but it doesn’t really matter–it melts and blends no matter its original form. I’ve ALSO added some maple syrup, which is awesome if you can handle that much sweetness.

It bakes for about an hour at about 350. It can be made ahead and reheated.

You can see it has great utility.

Good as it is, Jim and I are totally sick of it, having made it for a couple of our own fall dinners as well as Christmas Eve, and having brought it to our hikers’ holiday potluck, Christmas Day at the Albany Frames, and last night’s dinner at Nory and Kimball’s.

But if you think you might be making a lot of them and bringing them to a lot of dinners, you can cut up a whole bunch of butternut squash, even the apple if you keep it wet with lemon, and premix a bunch of the topping, so all you have to do is assemble and bake.

It’s kinda like that other salad–the broccoli, cranberry, almond one–I made too many times to count a couple holiday seasons running because it’s also easy and a great healthy side dish for Christmastime because it’s all red and green.  I mean perfect, right?

I know. Slow news day. But anything that’s this much a part of our holiday season deserves a mention.





December 28, 2016

Today in my Facebook feed, a couple photos randomly appeared next to one another in a lovely bit of synchronicity. Both photos of California cities, both beautiful.

Not sure of the photographers, but I surely appreciate the art. Thank you, whoever.






In other news, enjoyed an early morning drive down the road to Vacaville.. where Jim got his first ever MRI at the Kaiser facility there… was pretty along I-80, as it often is…


And here’s one from the halls of Kaiser Permanente, still quite early in the mornin’…


It’s worth posting what Jim said on Facebook:


We are going to get to the bottom of that burnt coffee smell, yet!




Those Trees

December 27, 2016

This photo was shot on this day in 2015. I like the trees in Winter. Love them in Spring, too, and Fall.. but especially in Winter.


This photo was shot on this day in 2014, probably while standing on the driveway..


And this in 2013, definitely from the driveway…


And 2012, from down the street…


I just like that December 27 seems to be a shoot trees day.

Dog Gone It

December 26, 2016


Look who I found roaming around the hood. Clearly, belongs to someone… but seemed a bit lost here.. hope he makes it home.

December 25, 2016

Here are some shots from Christmas 2016:

Peter and his new putter…

FullSizeRender 5.jpg

(He’s also wearing a nice new sweater and shirt…looks so nice.)

The three of us and a few of our favorite things…


That’s a fancy, felted wool hat handmade by an artist at the Artery, Jim’s new arctic-grade down coat, and Peter w/ aforementioned putter, sweater and shirt. Just a samplin’

Jim gave me some special lenses for my iPhone camera… for example…


We did some carol singing at Monica’s and Dror’s..


That’s Dean, Peter, Nina–Ben’s new sweetie from Slovenia–and Ben.

Here are 3/5th of the Dean/Annita Frame kids.. Alan, John and Monica:


Some strong family resemblance there!

Didn’t get a good one of Marie. And could only speak with Mark via phone (in DC). And this was the first Christmas without Annita (though she was living in the convalescent home last year). Sure missed her being there.


Here are Maita with Matthew and Dean:


Peter and Ben at the dinner table–cousins and friends:


Da cousins:


And that’s a wrap.


News from the Peterson/Johnson clans: Staci’s dad, George, died unexpectedly on Christmas eve. George was a joyful character, owner of KC Brannagan’s in Long Beach, and loved by many. They all continued with their plans to celebrate Christmas at the Johnson’s… it was important for everyone to be together. Petersons gathered the night before at Mom’s for Christmas Eve dinner. Mom wasn’t up to a big crowd on Christmas day, but the boys all headed to Staci’s and Eric’s.







December 24, 2016


Christmas Eve, for which I’ve not a single Christmas tree, Christmas table, people or food shot, was a lovely time spent with the Cavins. I can hardly believe I missed photos…. because we’re all so cute and we put together such a spectacular dinner. But there you are.

I’ll give you the food line-up anyway and you’ll have to trust me that it was a handsome meal: great apps, hot cider and wine; Jim’s beef brisket and black beens, my squash and apples, Bill’s scalloped potatoes, Sabrina’s chopped and sauteed Brussels sprouts, and salad; pound cake and Harry & David pears, and my rocky road, toffee and cookies. And more gift cookies and peanut brittle… no shortage of desserts. It was all so yummy–some great chefs amongst us–and the company so relaxed and comfortable.



Busy Baking

December 23, 2016

I thought I might skip baking this year due to my stupid hip, because maybe I’d have trouble standing for long stints in the kitchen, and who needs more Christmas cookies and candy anyway, and isn’t it time to shake up the traditions a bit, and well, I considered all that, but then thought maybe I’d just do one trial batch of a new cookie, maybe just that, and some Christmas day muffins, but that would be all… and before you knew it, I was baking, and four days later I’d pretty much done the usual amount, even though I’d planned to cut way back on the number of deliveries.

And, having chosen to do it–fought to do it against my own will–I enjoyed it a lot.


Started on Monday with umpteen dozen Snowballs.


Now.. these Snowballs were a new thing, a variation on the butter balls (Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cookies, pecan sandies… all the same) that I make every year. The distinguishing feature of these was chocolate… chocolate chips. And they were o k a y… but not the same. I got complaints, believe it or not. And… I have to agree… they are not the same. Going back to the Silver Palate’s fabulous butterball recipe next year.. not messing with a good thing.

I’ll tell you what I think I’m gonna ditch, though… been thinking about it for awhile… these rocky road things I’ve been doing for about 7-8 years:


I even came up with a funny little twist–adding a marshmallow to the top just for a visual pow–but I’m really unimpressed with them. Been lured by how easy they are to make–seriously.. minutes to assemble and lay out on a tray to harden, after a quick melt of a bag-o-chips and mix of the above ingredients–but, they just aren’t fabulous. Easy, but not something to really luxuriate over.


Buh bye rocky road.

Hello, maybe, chocolate-covered toffee. It doesn’t hold a candle to Denise’s, and isn’t as addicting as Lisa’s peanut brittle–both holiday essentials hereabouts–but it’s easy and kind of no-fail… and I got good reactions to it.

Start by stirring until brown (about 10 minutes) a mixture of sugar, butter and vanilla. Pour that over some nuts (toasted whole almonds, or crushed, or none at all). Then, while still molten hot, sprinkle chocolate chips over the top:


After a couple of minutes, the chocolate is soft, and smooths right over the already hard toffee. Then you can sprinkle some chopped pecans on top:


That sets up, and after about an hour or two, break it up and voila:


After a few days, I’d amassed an impressive quantity of stuff, all ready to pack up for delivery and hostess gifts. (I hate the term, “hostess gift,” …. so sexist fifties.)


Finished the holiday baking spree with a couple dozen muffins–one batch of gingerbread, which I’m insanely in love with, and one batch of lemon poppyseed, which, though incredibly fussy, a la Williams-Sonoma, are incredibly good. I love them both, and even though I’m really the only one around here who likes and eats them, I’m gonna continue making them for the rest of my holiday life.




Toddies and Tidings

December 22, 2016

Continuing the dinner with friends theme of Christmas this year…we had Phil over. Rarely do we get a few hours of unencumbered time just to talk and hang out. Seems whenever we see Phil, it’s in passing, or at another party with lots of people. Tonight, though, we got to actually talk and catch up.

He arrived with toddy fixings. Wuhoo! Bourbon, spiced pear liqueur, lemon juice, an orange dotted with cloves, honey and boiling water.


Peter hung out for a while and they got a good long game of chess in (ended in a stalemate):


Amina dropped in in time for dessert (Jim’s bread pudding and gelato), which was a nice surprise. Sat by the fire and Phil did a bit of this:



Lovely, lovely.