First Day of PhD School

August 31, 2020

Been thinking a lot of Peter today on this, the first day of classes at UM.

Not having a picture of him starting school today, I decided to post my favorite of all the first day photos.. his kindergarten picture. Never fails to bring a smile… the look on his face says so much. He obviously knows it’s a big deal, as the paparazzi parents are snapping pictures like there’s no tomorrow. In this picture, he’s in a line up and I’m sure there is a gaggle of parents goofily and tearily looking on, clicking away. And he’s all fresh in first-day-of-school clothes, new shoes with laces tied just-so (and double knotted!). He’s got his sensible hat and his paperwork, so right off the bat: such a responsible big boy! To me, I see a bit of nervous energy in his slight stiffness, and that smile… it’s a bit brave and tentative. But I also see a good measure of pride. He was ready, if apprehensive, to start kindergarten.. he’d heard so much about it. Undoubtedly, there were some kiddos in that vicinity who were not so sure about all this and were clinging to parents who were trying to convince them that entering that classroom was a good thing. I know there was drama and I’m sure he was glad not to be a part of it.



2003…  that was only 17 years ago. Gosh.

So.. yeah.. all the compulsory school: over;  the undergraduate college years: over. And now.. as Yali said on Facebook this afternoon… It’s the first day of PhD school!

It’s a weird time to be starting school, of course, because the whole country’s talking about students returning to classes this fall.. the little ones as well as the big ones. Public health officials worry about college kids because of the invincibility factor and the expectation that they’ll flaunt guidelines. Dr. Birx came out publicly today to say that if a college kid does contract Covid-19, they should stay at school and recover there. She warned that the spread, should they come home, would cause worse problems. So there’s that. I just hope Peter will wear his mask. I’m pretty confident he will.

Lamenting that I cannot get a first-day-of-school photo… so I’ll share the closest I could come to a current photo of Peter in Ann Arbor:

This is about a week ago. He’d just had his second meet up with Aaron–his advisor/major professor– but the first academic conversation, and he was pretty jazzed, so called us to tell us all kinds of things about what they’d talked about, his readings, his questions.. and it had gone well, he thought.



And another… he’s describing something that’s going over our heads..




Maybe this.. (he screen shared something from a paper he’d been studying):



As I recall… that thing that looks like a smudge is actually a ton of plot points for something measuring the turbulent flow of some fluid?  Maybe.

Anyway… another first day of school under the belt for our student.. Year 18 is now underway!

#LoveHimSo   #WearYourMaskHoney   #UnlockTheMysteriesOfTurbulence!




Zoom and Doom

August 30, 2020

goodnight zoom


Been feeling so unsettled and agitated. Let’s review:

  • Pandemic: Check
  • Fires: Check
  • Air so bad you have to stay indoors: Check
  • Canceled socially-distanced social outings: Check
  • Big time election stress: Check
  • Lying, corrupt conman still in office: Check


And it’s not Zoom’s fault, it’s not Sister District’s or Indivisible Yolo’s fault… but good lord almighty, I attend a lot of Zoom meetings. I like them, even. But: I. Will. Be. So. Glad. When. This. Mad. Schedule. Slows. Down. 

Mostly, I just wanna go outside. I wanna be in the sunshine with a blue sky above. I want to be with friends, like right up close, without feeling like we all have deadly cooties.

I’m reminded of a song that Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows sings… so plaintively…

Raining in Baltimore

This circus is falling down on its knees
The big top is crumbling down
It’s raining in Baltimore fifty miles east
Where you should be, no one’s around
I need a phone call
I need a raincoat
I need a big love
I need a phone call
These train conversations are passing me by
And I don’t have nothing to say
You get what you pay for
But I just had no intention of living this way
I need a phone call
I need a plane ride
I need a sunburn
I need a raincoat
And I get no answers
And I don’t get no change
It’s raining in Baltimore, baby
But everything else is the same
There’s things I remember and things I forget
I miss you
I guess that I should
Three thousand five hundred miles away
But what would you change if you could?

I need a phone call
Maybe I should buy a new car
I can always hear a freight train
If I listen real hard
And I wish it was a small world
Because I’m lonely for the big towns
I’d like to hear a little guitar
I think it’s time to put the top down
I need a phone call
I need a raincoat



Song sounds like a dirge the way he sings it.. so down.



Grateful for the tech wizards who figured out this technology. Video conferencing goes back decades, but, now it’s a couple clicks on a free app… shockingly simple, enormously robust.  Thanks to the global pandemic, video chats, video meetings, video socializing, video celebrations, video everything have all become mainstreamed and commonplace…a daily part of life.

Zooming’s become a verb.

I do believe we’ve crossed into a new paradigm of communication. The technology’s not new, but our reliance on it sure is. I’m guessing as the pandemic wears on and on, and we continue to have to remain distanced, that people will grow more and more comfortable with remote communications and soon will favor it. Like…. I don’t want to have to go somewhere for a meeting if I could just as easily hang out at home, not have to mobilize, not have to be totally presentable. It saves a ton of time and works beautifully. Especially those 7am meetings. And the 7pm meetings. We’ll have a meeting next week to which 60-80 people will show up.. and no cars, no parking, no gas, no room set up (and no room fees), no refreshments.  Is that great, or what?

This morning, we came up with the idea of having a 50th wedding anniversary party for Teri and Chad.. in a week! We “planned” the whole thing in a flash. Nearly thirty people–from all over the country–will be able to be there. And there will no additional planning, zero travel, zero cost.  Of course it won’t be the same as having an in-person party, but it will still serve a huge part of its purpose.  We can’t travel anyway. Can’t get close to anyone safely. But we can be zoom together.

Now zoom’s an adjective.

I was on a two-hour phone bank zoom this morning, calling voters in Pennsylvania about supporting Biden and Harris. Jim and I hung out with Monica and Dror for an hour and a half this evening after dinner. Then Peter logged on to say hi, and we hung out for another hour and a half (if you’re counting, that’s five hours of zoom time).  Not unusual at all these days.

And look how cozy:


Just like he’s here with us..



Feelin’ Chefy

August 28, 2020

This one made me feel fancy, worthy of my apron and sharp knives and cooking gadgets. It was another Christopher Kimball.. and another super flavorful dish.

Started with sweet paprika, hot smoked paprika, fresh chopped thyme and kosher salt:



Blended that and then rolled a small pork tenderloin around in it.. massaging a little to really get the herbs and spices to stick. Let it sit for 15 minutes.




While that sat, I measured and prepped the rest of the ingredients.

Then in a large, hot pan, browned the pork in 2T of canola oil, then stuck the whole pan into the oven (450) to roast ’til done.. took 11-12 minutes to get the meat to 140 degrees.


Removed the pork.  In that same pan, sauteed 6 sliced garlic cloves til toasted, then added 2 teaspoons of honey until it started to turn brow, then added 3/4 c of chicken broth and reduced until the sauce became slightly thick. Added 2T of sherry vinegar and after 30 seconds or so start adding 6T of butter that had been cubed into 10 pieces…. these you add one at a time, swirling each until melted before adding the next. He called this emulsifying the sauce. Do not know why you do this, but this whole sauce part of the prep makes you feel like a chef.  You then take it off-heat and stir in 2T of chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Now, slice up the tenderloin and spoon this incredible sauce over the slices, and holy cow (or pig), it’s insane. The meat alone packed quite a punch, but with the sauce.. wow.

We served it with some angel hair tossed with olive oil and a few more garlic cloves that I’d also sliced thinly crisped in olive oil a little earlier, and served with parmesan.. and some broc and tomatoes.

Here ’tis… a close up of the pork.. such a perfect cut of meat.



And the whole scene:





For the Birds

August 27, 2020

I’m cutting myself off.. no writing tonight. Going right to the bird pics. Been a rough week.

This is one elegant, soft, fuzzy little fella.



And I celebrate the end of the RNC. Glad it’s behind us, and we can look ahead to the final 67 days. Get to work everyone.

Aren’t these guys cute? Don’t they make you happy? At least they make you smile, ya?

moms owls

Again my disclaimer: these are not my pics. They were taken by some very talented  photographers who were honored in some contest.. I just can’t remember where.

All Hell’s Breaking Lose

August 26, 2020

Daily. The news is just numbing. Every. Single. Day.

Yeah yeah.. pandemic, extreme climate-related weather conditions, fires — haven’t been outdoors but for a couple times in the last week. Oh.. and then there’s the profound threats to the future viability of our democracy.

Then, a couple days ago, yet another breathtaking assault on an unarmed black man.. a shocking murder, this time 7 shots into his back, while three young children sat in the backseat of their family car watching. This unleashes riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and then vigilante guys rally to “defend the neighborhoods” and it looks like those guys who decided to take law into their own hands are responsible for two more murders. A absolute cluster-f of responses between federal, local, political (of course) forces.. everyone angling for some kind of control over the situation.

The NBA, who is in the middle of playoffs, is canceling games because teams, lead by the Milwaukee players, are boycotting. It is their response to continued racially-motivated police abuse and the murder of Jacob Blake. Sports people say this is big and very provocative. The players are saying these issues are more important than sports and money.  Powerful.

There’s a big drama playing out in the coronavirus world, as it looks like the president* has decided he’s done with testing and strong armed the CDC into changing its protocols and recommendations.  (My personal opinion, brewing for a while, is that the president* actually wants to see the pandemic overwhelm the country.. part of his scorched earth, burn it all down madness as he realizes he’s going to lose). This is so amoral.

The biggest storm ever to hit the gulf coast will be making landfall in Louisiana tonight. They are using crazy words like, “unsurvivable,” and expect storm surges that will bury whole towns.

And….  there’s the RNC (which I won’t watch).. best described by Dan Rather here:

That is the sentiment that sticks with me this morning as I reflect on day 2 of the Republican National Convention. Even to call it a convention is to miss the point. This was propaganda, the pageantry, power, and symbolism of our federal government – OUR government, we the people – exploited by a president who feels unbound by the constitution in his desperate desire to hold on to power.
A secretary of state from foreign soil pledges sycophantic fealty to his boss with hopes of bolstering his own standing in a political party that has become a personality cult. Immigrants are used as props in the White House by a president who has demonized, restricted, and mistreated even legal immigrants and asylum seekers. Uniformed military personnel are employed in this charade. A first lady, who is an unrepentant birther, mouths teleprompter platitudes in front of an unmasked crowd of true believers during a deadly mismanaged pandemic in a re-imagined rose garden and is heralded by some for her tone.
Meanwhile, in the real America, there is death, desperation, depression, hunger, and heartbreak. Once again a Black family is thrust into the national spotlight by a police shooting. And scenes of violent protests and counterprotests sweep across our national discourse, encouraged by a president who sees personal gain in racial division.
The polls tighten, or do they? What is hitting with the public and what isn’t? How are these speeches playing? These are questions for the mechanics of the horse race. They are the comfortable grooves into which campaign reporting usually falls. They are hard to resist. But they do not accurately see the full scope of the moment.
A line of attack on Joe Biden is that he would be a captive of the far left, that he is somehow a socialist. Nevermind that many of the policies of even the more liberal members of the Democratic Party would be considered mainstream center left in most European democracies. But what one doesn’t hear enough in our media coverage is the term “far right.” Racist and antisemtic authoritarian conspiracy theories are waved off by Republican politicians who know very well what they are about and how they are fueling support for Donald Trump. The trappings of the state are used for naked power politics. Corruption reigns. Foreign dictators are coddled. The rule of law is undermined. Voting is suppressed. This all isn’t theoretical. This is happening now. All of it. And in plain sight.
With all of this power, it is rather amazing that Donald Trump isn’t assured re-election. It is a testimony to the strength and durability of the majority of Americans, across a diverse political spectrum, who see the threat for what it is. Yes, this is a fight for democracy. But do not underestimate the strength and power of those who stand in opposition. Time and again, America has withstood threats – external and internal – in its uneven march to a more perfect union. And time and time again, courageous and energetic mass movements have signed up for service to this nation’s higher ideals. This is a moment of testing, to be sure. It is, as I said, chilling. But it cannot be defeated unless it is clearly seen for what it is.
Know how to get your vote in, and make sure it is counted. See how you can help others have their voices heard at the ballot box. There is so much to despair about, but despair and demoralization is being weaponized by those who seek to cynically hold on to their power. Instead, try to be inspired by a movement of tens of millions across this nation who are determined that this shall not be the definition of America.
So.. how about a nice bird picture:
Not my pic. I don’t know who the photographer is, but she/he got a good one (see those drips? See those eyes? Gosh..

I’m blogging.

I say that because it means I’m not doing this other thing… watching the Republican National Convention. I’d planned not to watch it.. and was successful in that plan last night (night #1).

Then, I thought.. really? You’re that tender? (Yes.) I allowed myself, however, to listen to post convention analysis. Which was rough enough. All day long today, the news has reported this thing or that thing. My Facebook feed’s been full of commentary from friends and folks whose analyses I trust.  I’ve tentatively watched a couple of clips that people have posted.. and pretty soon, I’ve seen more than I wanted.

So… here I am again, actively not watching.

Earlier today, I was invited to join a friend’s political discussion group (via Zoom) later this week. I had to think about that one.. but declined. I’m deeply immersed in the politics of the day. I volunteer more hours than I can count with Sister District and Indivisible Yolo. Lately, the work has taken on an urgency. We are getting sharper in our focus as we get within 70 days of the election. We are letting certain organizational details slide as we prioritize work that directly contributes to voter and/or election impact. The urgency brings attendant stress.

When I walk with Vicki, the conversation inevitably turns to the election. I hear in my voice an urgency and a definite fear. What if… ? What little amount of socializing I do these days inevitably includes a hefty dose of political freak out. This is so exhausting.

Many urgencies!

I remember the 2016 election. Even though people were considering the possibility that he could win, nobody thought he would. Celebration watch parties were everywhere. Lots of friends suggested watching the returns together. With champagne at the ready. But I was too stressed. I felt too traumatized by the campaign and just wanted to burrow down into my little cave office and watch the returns alone (with my glass of wine). I wanted to work my websites and my cable news feeds and just watch and celebrate at my own pace.  Because the campaign was brutal. He was brutal. Assaultive to everything I value. I was desperate for Hillary to win but also knew that when she did, I’d have to turn that page slowly, as I was ready. I luxuriated in the idea that after a year (or two?) of his toxicity and his unbearable psychoses, it would finally all be over and we would be liberated from all that angst, and we’d have a woman president. We’d wake up the next day to a world free of that monster, but there was also a lot to recover from. I knew it would take a little time to get all the toxins out. We all needed a giant cleansing.

But she lost. (Asterisk, not really.)

We’ve had to endure him for far too long and the damage he’s wreaked is incalculable. In our nation, in the world, and in our souls.

I don’t enjoy the politics of this anymore. I don’t enjoy the lively political conversation. It’s too uneven a field. And especially now.. the intellectual sparring is tedious, joyless. Especially as we’re getting closer and closer to a reckoning. I feel too fragile, too vulnerable. What if it’s bad again?

So I declined the invitation to talk to strangers about politics. I’m not sure I can open up to a circle unfamiliar, in the middle of a political world that makes me feel so vulnerable already. Not sure I want any more people in my tender little inner world.

I think we are all traumatized by his alternative realities, and lies, and bizarro world constructs. His bottomless corruption and ugliness. I need peace. I need liberation from him and his entire freak show. I need to see him marched off to prison. Then I might feel safe and grounded again.


Tonight’s sweet bird shot:

blue bird on yellow flower

I don’t have to tell you, this is not my photo. Again, I found it on a site, can’t remember where. The photo won an award, can’t tell you which one. And it’s by a photographer I can’t identify.. because I neglected to collect that info. Terribly sorry… he/she deserves recognition.

But I do love how this little guy is just singing for all he’s worth. Such happiness. Let’s make that a metaphor for November 4th



August 24, 2020


It was night #1 of RNC. I am able to listen to analysis, but–and I am sad to admit this–I can’t listen. My hat’s off to those who can. So.. I duck. I duck that incoming. I duck out. I duck and cover. Duck me. Duck duck duck.

This is a good time for a duck picture!

out for a walk


I would love to give credit to the photographer. I just don’t know who it is.. but I found this picture in a collection of winners of some contest on some website. Just a few weeks ago. Probably somebody posted the collection on Facebook. So my great apologies to the photographer; I should have captured the credit, as well.  But whoever you are, great job. Wonderful photo.  (And I guess these aren’t actually ducks!) I grabbed a few more, and will post them on subsequent RNC nights, because: RNC.



Yellow Red and Green

August 23, 2020

Okay, I’m going to lighten up a little for tonight’s blog.. because, lordy, my blogs of late have been dark… with good reason (!) … but how about a break?

I was looking through recent photos for a blog idea.  There was one from this morning’s breakfast, and a couple from last night’s dinner, and they seemed to go really well together, colorly speaking. So I found an easy blog topic, one that won’t depress me.

In chronological order, then, here’s a shot of last night’s dinner:


There is a lot more here than meets the eye. This is a Christopher Kimball recipe, so it’s all about flavor. In this case, one grates raw corn right off the cob, using the largest holes on a box grater, which yields a very messy milky mush of tiny corn bits. Then you take those denuded corn cobs and boil them in what eventually becomes your pasta water w/ a ton of kosher salt. The wet mushy corn gets sauteed with shallots and habanero chiles (we used serano) in butter, and, once the shallots have softened, you add some of that cob-infused water, which creates quite a thick, rich sauce. Then you add the fusilli, which you’ve boiled to the point of al dente in that cob water (cobs removed).. and finish off-heat by adding cut-in-half and salted cherry tomatoes (which Chris Kimball loves to use in so many dishes), chopped basil and yet more butter. It is so, so good. Can’t wait for the leftovers to see if it’s intensified even more.

The funnest thing about this dinner was actually cooking together with Jim. That is rare.. since he sort of likes his space alone when he’s cooking and seems not to like being bossed around by me when I’m taking the lead on a meal. But last night, since I didn’t even begin to think about dinner until 7:30–and because I’m the slowest cook on the planet, which meant we wouldn’t eat until 10:00–I asked if he’d help with the prep, which turned into helping with the cooking, as well, which, in my mind, was really, really fun. Still took two of us one solid hour, on a recipe that claimed total prep & cooking time was only 30 mins. But I quite enjoyed sharing the whole cooking event with someone else. (That’s a hint, Jim.)

Here’s the rest of our so-summer dinner (the peaches have been insane):



Staying with the yellow, red and green theme, here’s breakfast this Sunday morn:



After five straight months of rotating pancakes, waffles and french toast on Sundays (which, I’m not complaining).. Jim surprised me with a savory plate of eggs (with tomatoes, peppers and onions). Wow, was it good.

One of these days, when it’s safe to go to restaurants again, we’ll return to our habit of eating out about a million times a week, especially on Sunday mornings, but until then.. this will do.


Return to Sender

August 22, 2020

Today’s righteous action by weary citizens, in protest of yet another one of trump’s egregious, unethical, democracy-undermining presidential overreaches, took place at Davis’ main post office at the corner of 5th and Poleline.

MoveOn nationally, and IndivisibleYolo locally, sponsored this day of action at post offices nationwide. In spite of heat (low 80s, not too bad) and smoke from fires (in the unhealthy range for sensitive people), about 150 people showed up and hoisted signs and chanted.  As we do.

And of course we showed up, because, jeez.. that effing president*…

Realizing that millions of people will rely on mail-in ballots in order to cast safe votes in November’s election (there’s a pandemic, you know), trump has decided — in fact, stated openly on national tv — that the greater voter turnout that would surely result from mail-in voting, jeopardizes his re-election (in fact, he accuses democrats of forcing vote-by-mail as a partisan ploy to gain advantage). So, a few months ago, he began a campaign to discredit vote-by-mail. He has since further claimed that, since mail ballots are so obviously subject to fraud (says he, lyingly), that any election outcome that results in his loss (only his loss, by the way), shall be rejected. He has said he’ll only accept the results of an election if he considers it fair, and has said that any election that relies on mailed in ballots is inherently fraudulent and unfair. Words to that effect.

So, last spring, he abruptly removed the then postmaster general, replaced him with a crony donor, a guy named Louis DeJoy, and subsequently met with him to discuss strategy (Dejoy denies this).  trump needed to make sure his new guy understood his re-election strategies.. namely to disenfranchise as many voters as possible by throwing up as many roadblocks in the mail delivery system as they could quickly implement before November (of course targeting areas dense with low income, democratic leaning populations).  DeJoy immediately fired a whole bunch of high level USPS managerial staff and got to work.  He decommissioned numerous gargantuan mail sorters, he removed mailboxes from locations they’d been in for decades, he changed postal rates for ballots from bulk to first class (stressing state budgets at a time they are maxed due to the pandemic), he messed with worker overtime pay… and on and on.  He then let twenty (or thirty?) Secretaries of State all over the country know that he could not guarantee timely delivery of ballots from the SoS to voters, or, once completed, from the voters back to those SoS for counting.

Oh, and in addition to DeJoy being a trump supporter and donor, he also owns stock in mailing and delivery services that are in direct competition with the United States Postal Service. I don’t even know how this obvious conflict of interest doesn’t automatically disqualify him from the job. I’ve already used the words egregious and unethical.. I’m running out of ways to describe these people.. and trump..  who just does all of this in plain sight. Just one hail mary after another, so desperate is he to hang on…

If the Senate hearings of the last few days are any indication, DeJoy is also quite an asshole.   So there’s that, too.

And, at the same time trump and DeJoy are sowing as much chaos in the ballot delivery system as possible, and creating anxiety and uncertainty on the part of voters about the reliability now of voting by mail, corrupt republican voting officials in red districts everywhere are changing the rules about voting deadlines, signature matching requirements.. and so on. Again, all part of a concerted effort to discredit the election results (which everyone knows — especially the president* —  will not be in trump’s favor if the election is fairly held). And again, all in plain sight.

Cheating is the only way he has any hopes of hanging on for a second term. Most detested, deceitful, dishonorable president in history.

So.. neither heat, nor smoke, nor tired arms will keep folks in Davis from protesting this insulting excuse for a leader and his stupid, never-ending swindles.

A couple of favorite signs:


Mine, front and back:


And here I am! A guy named Larry (don’t know him personally) took this and posted it to Facebook and I saw it on the IndivisibleYolo site..


return to sender