November 30, 2020

I haven’t written about the pandemic in a long time. It’s been going on now for about a million years. You’ve either figured out how to deal with it, or you’ve been suffering mightily (for any number of reasons). Or, something in between. In addition to health threats, loss, disruption, hardship, it’s just hard to be so removed from normal life.

I realized today that since the very first moments of covid awareness, mask-wearing, social distancing and stay-at-home orders, way back in mid-March, I’d been deeply immersed in all manner of election-related stuff–both for national races as well as a local campaign. My days have been filled with Zoom meetings, special events, advocacy (phonebanking, texting, postcarding, lawnsigns, lit drops, demonstrating, marching, rallying) organizing, creating, task and volunteer management… all mixed with angst, overwhelm, frustration, dread, but also community, camaraderie, great energy, steep but manageable learning curves, and a great sense of advancing a cause. Plus: Peter’s college graduation and move across the country, some home improvement projects, a camping trip, two hiking trips, countless photo walks, relearning to cook… plus keeping up with regular daily life, daily blogging, etc. Pandemic life has been, I guess, kinda full.

Now, not so much. The last three weeks, since the election, have been blissfully less busy. And now with Thanksgiving over, today (Monday) I felt like I had been sucked into a vortex. I entered this weird space of nothing.. nothing really to do. I actually have plenty to do –stuff I haven’t done in months, projects that have languished, another holiday coming. But, suddenly, it just felt depressing. By the time late afternoon rolled around, I felt like I’d lost all inspiration. I was aware that I needed to just put one foot in front of the other and make myself do things. I could literally feel the oppressive weight of zero motivation. It made me feel very anxious. I thought, whoa.. I’d better be thinking about life, about purpose, about where that spark will come from. It was slightly disturbing and a lot lonely. It’s definitely not the first time I’ve felt this, but today felt weightier, palpably heavy.

Then at about 6:00, Peter called (FaceTime). He was out on a long walk in a lot of snow. That’s pretty new for him. He’s been in snow, but not much. He certainly hasn’t lived in it. He was slipping around on ice, laughing, pointing his camera at impressive views of wintry scenes for us to see, talking a little about a presentation he’d given earlier, and a lot about snow.

We talked for about 45 minutes then he wanted to continue his walk without us, as he was enjoying being out alone in the snow in the dark. How ’bout that. The conversation with him was such a lift. [Note to self: boy needs boots and a real winter coat.]

Then a couple of nice text conversations with friends; then, funnily enough, a 90-minute Zoom meeting with IndivisibleYolo which involved over twenty folks reflecting on the last eight months, what’s to come in the next month, and plans for next year. It was amazingly validating.

So here’s what I figured out: Connection. People. Purpose. As much as I was desperate to be done with all the election stuff, as much as I wanted great gobs of clear calendar space and nothing to do, I realize that isn’t very sustaining. The last few weeks have been a weird mix of boredom and bliss, elation and anxiety, and not much tying it all together.

I’m not sure what that will look like going forward, but I can see there will need to be something purposeful in there.

Not earth shattering, but revealing. A good reminder.


November 29, 2020

This afternoon, I pulled out of the driveway in my rarely-used-during-the-pandemic car and within a few seconds realized there were some papers flapping on my windshield. I stopped, got out, retrieved the papers to find they were actually two magazines — a couple back issues of The Economist.


I went about my business (a gorgeous late fall, late day walk with Janet in the North Davis ditch). But when I got back, Jim and I examined the blacked out address on the magazine label and found it belonged to a guy in Woodland.

I deduced that–not b/c of the Woodland address–whoever it was, was probably responding to the lawn signs which are still standing in our front yard even though the election is long over, and which, for the most part, convey liberal messaging. Not at all unusual hereabouts, but I never assume everyone agrees with them. I’m guessing this guy — whether it was the guy on the address label or not — does not. So he gifted us a pair of magazines that offer a slightly more centrist-leaning perspective on things. A radical notion in Davis.

Here are the magazines:

And here’s the note I sent Alan:

It’s definitely not the first time our lawn signs or our bumper stickers have attracted the attention of folks– both pro and con. (Definitely less the lawn signs and more the bumper stickers.) It’s one reason I’m not sporting bumper stickers any more. Really no need to stoke division. I even took down the Black Lives Matter and Love Your Neighbor lawn signs when we had crews coming and going during the remodel. Felt unnecessarily provocative then (when at least one of the crew was a known Trump supporter), and perhaps even now. Feeling anymore like I don’t want to do anything that calls attention to differences. I don’t really want to contribute to the pervasive tribalism that defines everything these days. Continuing to work fiendishly for the cause is still the plan, but I feel like quietly is a better way to do it for awhile.


November 28, 2020

Mmm. Dinner.

(I’m a bit amazed at the variety of containers… that represents a lot o years of tupper collecting.) (And probably not an official tupperware in the bunch.)

Time for a compilation of my current favorite pictures of my great nieces and nephew. Cutie patooties, these kiddos.




And some group shots:

Mags and Juni

Mags and River

Mags and River

River and Mags

River and Mags

And that’s it. For now. More to come, no doubt.

Making Do

November 26, 2020

As this pandemic year wearily slogs on to an end, everybody and his brother (most everybodies) had a weird Thanksgiving and we’re all now imagining and reinventing pandemic Christmases as that holiday is now, ugh, upon us.

“Impending calamity,” “surges on top of surges” are ways infectious disease doctors are characterizing where we are at this moment. We absolutely need to think and rethink our plans. There is a tug and pull of trying to stay connected to gratitude and love, to preserve the joy, while completely accepting that this is not a normal time and playing by rules we all must honor in order to get as safely as possible to the other side. There will be another side.

Thanksgiving, was therefore that mix… accommodating the virus and the guidelines while still trying to find the gratitude, love and joy.

First the connection part.

Peter’s not with us. That is incredibly disappointing. But we could talk and we knew he was with friends — being safe and being loved. Here’s his weather.. a pic he sent a couple days ago:

And here’s the celebration Peter had with Lisa and Claire — forever grateful for their efforts to make him feel welcome in Ann Arbor. They’ve been so loving and caring and just amazing.

Back here in sunny Davis California, I exchanged lots of texts with friends, had multiple conversations with Peter, Matty and Betsy, and ZOOMED with the whole immediate Frame family contingent (minus Maia, Hope and Tanner) at 3:00.

It was an hour of cacophonous Frames from California to Idaho to Montana to Michigan. All three Jim Frame sibs, all five Dean Frame sibs (plus Dean!) and *almost* all kids. Quite the feat. That would never happen in real life, so this pandemic-imposed separation, necessitating Zoom connections is quite brilliant. What would we do without video conferencing this year?

Then, at 8:00, we Zoomed with the Peterson sibs and Peter. This time California north and south, plus Michigan and Thailand. Missed Michael, missed John/Alexis and clan, but otherwise it was good to get the four of us sibs and a couple of our loves together.

Earlier in the day I went for a long walk. For part of it, I was listening to Brene Brown interviewing Dolly Parton. She’s a lovely woman who sounds remarkably like Aunt Bonnie. That took me down a lot of family rabbit holes. The creek supplied a spectacular backdrop for my rambling mind.. the sunny skies made the colors at the arboretum really pop.

The gingkos are hemorrhaging their leaves:

Have I mentioned how excited I am to be planting one in our backyard?

It was just so pretty down there.

Here’s one of the gingkos from across the lake.

Even B Street walking home looked gorgeous (this is across the street from one of my first apartments in town):

And A Street looks nice this time of year, too!

After my walk, and in between the Zoom calls, Jim and I cooked. Since it was just the two of us, it made sense to downsize the menu. Jim found a clever idea in the New York Times–a One Pan, One Pot Thanksgiving Dinner. A bit gimmicky, but fun to try! And hey.. we did the whole thing together, step by step, which I loved.

First thing in the morning, I set up the turkey to marinate. We’d never cooked a turkey breast before. If you never have, it actually feels like a big boob (not that I would know) — it’s soft and squishy.

Here’s the stuff for the marinade — grated garlic, fresh thyme and s/p:

Hours later, we slathered it in mustard and mayonnaise (yep) and then wrapped it in bacon. I’ve since learned that most people, when wrapping a turkey breast in bacon, do it in a very showy basket weave (google it!), which I’ll definitely do next time. Here’s what ours looked like (kinda disgusting, no?):

But then it comes out like this.. totally appetizing:

And carved like a dream:

My first comment at first bite was, “wow, it’s fantastic and so moist!” Jim’s was “hmmm… so dry.” So, I’m not sure if it was moist or not, but I *think* we both liked it and would try it again.

The other components of the meal were fine… the stuffing was standard and fine; the cranberry sauce was good; the gravy went a bit south, but was good enough. But there were two other standouts:

The menu called for Brussels sprouts, which neither of us likes, so we substituted cauliflower, using the same treatment, which was simple but fantastic. Olive oil, salt and some coriander powder, roasted with the turkey/bacon and its drippings. Yeow.

Also, this:

It’s baked garnet yams, that, when soft (about an hour) you added this — a mash of butter, molasses, salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Oh, and marshmallows. You put it back into the oven to melt all that into the potatoes. omg.

And that was it. It took exactly three hours to prepare, and exactly ten minutes to eat. As usual. Jim then made some whipped cream and we had both pecan pie and my weird pumpkin pie (which turned out fine!).

It was a nice day. The connections and reflections and cooking project were all mightily felt and appreciated. What I think will stand out most will be how we responded to an absolutely unique and dangerous time. We’ll get to the other side and life will return to something a lot more normal and predictable. It’s been a tragedy of just immeasurable pain, inconvenience, loss all over the world. We’re all in this, we’re all impacted, we’re all dealing.

Pie Fail?

November 25, 2020

Um… I mean.. who fails at pumpkin pie?

The pie that takes a lot of work is the double pecan pie — mostly because of the crust and careful timing of doneness. But it looks pretty perfect.

The pumpkin pie is usually the slam dunk. This time, however, I forgot to get evaporated milk so improvised with 1/2 and 1/2 (the interwebs said I could). I was also suspicious of the eggs. I needed two: one was the last egg from a pretty old carton, and the other was from a newer–though still quite old–carton. Clearly we need to eat our eggs faster around here.

The resulting mixture looked odd, and, for whatever reason, the custard came out bumpy and weird and took well over the bake time to set up. So we shall see…

I have confidence in the pecan pie. And regardless of how that pumpkin pie comes out, the place smells like a bake shop.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve.

To Each Our Habitat

November 24, 2020

Scanning through my pictures from today.. searching for inspiration for tonight’s blog. There were numerous interesting and lovely shots of the creek and downtown.. it’s fall after all and everywhere you look, it’s a jigsaw puzzle-worthy view. Those, and I had some good food shots and some backyard progress shots.. and whatnot.

I decided to use two shots–one of Jim in his habitat and one of me in [one of] mine.

First, Jim.

Jim participated as an expert witness in a 2-hour deposition this morning. Like everything these days, it was over Zoom. Jim doesn’t Zoom much, so, in preparation, we tested his set up to make sure his lighting and framing were okay and his audio was clear and, well, audible. I was in the annex (my new favorite room in the house) and Jim was in his office. While we were testing the connection, he got a phone call… so, while I waited for him to be done with that, I took this screen shot.

I’d cut his hair last week so he’d look all professional, and he wore a collared shirt (quite unusual!). I think he’s absolutely smashing.

He did great, too. The trial, if it comes down to that, is in a couple weeks.

Okay, now me.

So, of course this shot is way more about the exploding firework of a gingko tree behind me, but it does capture me in my usual habitat (walking around Davis), doing what I love to do (taking pictures).

Can you believe that thing? I am so excited to have just planted a gingko in our backyard (like, three days ago). Can’t wait to see what it does next fall!!

Reading and Writing

November 23, 2020

One can still sit outside at a sidewalk cafe, keep warm with a frothy-hot cafe au lait, and read. Which I totally did! Enjoyed a real break today from my usual pandemic- and politics-focused days by reading a short story (not so short) written by kindergarten pal and dinosaur aficionado Jeff Levy.

He’s a fun writer and I’m enjoying the story so far about his exploits on a trip to Mexico some thirty years ago. Like I said, a real departure from where my head’s been the last umpteen months.

I also enjoyed reading the below — something he shared on Facebook yesterday — speaking of writing.

• An Oxford comma walks into a bar where it spends the evening watching the television, getting drunk, and smoking cigars.

• A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

• A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

• An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

• Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

• A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

• Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

• A question mark walks into a bar?

• A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

• Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Get out — we don’t serve your type.”

• A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

• A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

• Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.

• A synonym strolls into a tavern.

• At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar — fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

• A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.

• Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.

• A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

• An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

• The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

• A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

• The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

• A dyslexic walks into a bra.

• A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

• A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

• A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

• A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.

I Googled the above, hoping to find whom to credit.. but couldn’t find a definitive source. In my brief search, I found comment threads where people have added to this list (oh, so cleverly).

Also: I’m pretty sure I violate a good number of those things. It does make me wish I were a better writer. Not to mention more well read, more knowledgable about history, philosophy and literature… and on and on. Makes me just wanna spend my days reading and writing.

Which takes me right back to how nice it was to escape the daily dread and just spend an hour outside on a gorgeous fall day and read about somebody’s misadventures in Mexico.

Whether Weather Matters

November 22, 2020

Had two family conversations today, one with Peter, who’s now under snow in Ann Arbor, and one with Chris who went surfing in sunny Southern California today.

Me, I went for a walk with Janet on the North end of town this afternoon. We are hitting our full fall stride here in Davis, peak color — as usual, right around Thanksgiving.

I couldn’t keep my camera in my pocket.

This is taken from that Julie Partansky deck/overlook into where the ducks hang out (it’s late, I’m forgetting what that’s called).

This is just along the greenbelt, duck hangout to my right, the North Davis pond to my left.

This is walking along the northern boundary of Davis, looking west toward Lake Berryessa hills.

North Davis Farms to my right, ditch to my left.

As seen in the ditch.

Chris the Birthday Boy

November 21, 2020

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about Chris, or that this birthday was just another notch in our ever growing birthday belt.

Recall, that on July 7th, just a little over four months ago, I wrote about Chris’s heart attack. He followed that up with a stroke about a week later (probably a clot released during the heart procedure).

He seems to be doing well.. returning to normal activities, even. He told me this morning he’d been surfing yesterday. I don’t know if that’s a regular thing these days or not. I asked if he was surfing with others in more public locations. No to both, he said. Alone, and in his usual isolated surf spots. Ugh.

He’s 61 today. How ’bout some birthday pics through the ages…. mostly recent ages.

This is from 1961:

Then we jump ahead 49 years to Chris’s 51st birthday… this was a birthday dinner celebration at the Blue Water Grill in Redondo Beach, 2010:

Then, the next year, 2011, Jim and I hosted our first Thanksgiving in Davis for the Peterson family. Matt rented an RV and brought mom up in style! TG day was the three of us, plus Mom, Matt, Chris, Uncle Vic and Aunt Joy. It was nice to be able to throw Chris a 52nd birthday party (the day before) too:

This one’s from a Davis Thanksgiving, 2014, double nickels:

This is 2016, at mom’s house, 57 years old:

This is in Carmel, 2017, Chris turns 58:

This is last year at Thanksgiving, 2019, the big 60!:

And this year, no celebration… it’s a pandemic year: no travel, no traditional holiday celebration.

Next year for sure! Happy Birthday, Chris!