This Turned Into This

January 31, 2021

I did a bunch of fun un-kitchen things today… but then finished the day in a flurry of kitchen projects:

This (cocoa powder, powdered sugar, cinnamon, salt and eggs):

…turned into this (the above with choco chips and vanilla added):

…which then turned into these (three dozen flourless, dense, brownie-like chocolate cookies):

Sending most of them to Ann Arbor.


This (carrot, celery, onion, olive oil)…

… got embellished by this (skinned, crushed tomato, salt and pepper)..

…. then got added to this (a dry mix of barley, lentils, black eyed peas and some other stuff that boiled in water for a while to soften up and was then drained)…

… then, the whole thing cooked in a vegetable broth for a while and turned into this:

Which was good enough! I liked the broth part, Jim liked the bulky stuff. We floated pieces of over-baked pita bread in it and liked it.

And finally, this (a whole bunch of Meyer lemons that Meghan-up-the-street gave us)…

… turned into this (2 quarts of lemon juice.. to be made into lemon cubes as soon as we free up some space in our freezer):

It was a productive couple of hours.

Every year about this time, Jim begins to watch a particular almond tree — located in the alley between University and B, 3rd and 4th — for first signs of Spring. This alley is part of our regular trek to downtown. He might watch the tree for weeks before anything happens.

Not this year.

Not expecting to see anything just yet, we walked past the tree on our way to Farmer’s Market this morning, and, to our surprise, there was a single blossom. (Last year, it was February 8th before we saw our first buds becoming full-on flowers.)

Anyway.. not earth shattering, but there it is. Spring comes a week early to Jim’s harbinger tree.

At first, nothing really stood out (it’s there, but hard to see) ….

But I zoomed in…and there it was. Looking closely, you can actually see more than the one, but they are few and far between, and very hard to spot.

It prolly happened minutes before we turned down the alley! By next week, it ought to be in full pop.

Ta Da!

January 29, 2021

Not that I broke any puzzle speed records or anything…

I found this one so challenging! But lately, I’m finding all jigsaw puzzles challenging! Is it me??

Not worried about it.

And how odd is it that I’ve managed to lose two pieces? I’m the only one who works on the thing, nobody’s been in our house (well, hardly anybody), and I am so obsessively tidy about the whole puzzle process. Miguel vacuumed up one of the pieces, but salvaged it (and returned it to me in four layers!). So I guess, as Jim said, I completed a 997 1/2 piece puzzle.


My order was: sky, ferns, non-blue water, blue water, then ohmygodtherocksandgranite and nottomentionthetrees!

But it’s done. Whew. Time to read!

41 Hours

January 28, 2021

I’m already feeling like, “ehh, it was no big deal.” Power out at about 12:30 am on Wednesday, restored 5:30 pm today (Thursday). Not counting the night/sleep time, we spent a full first day, plus most of a second day. I was pretty grateful the power came back on this evening just prior to nightfall.. spared us the dark part of the challenge.

But, as I started to say, now, with outage behind us, it feels like we weathered it pretty well. No big.

In addition to a gas fireplace insert that provided cozy heat over the two days, a gas stove that allowed us to cook (or at least heat soup, boil coffee/tea water, and even make toast) and ample light sources (mostly headlamps), today we added the amazing generator, which brought our refrigerator/freezer back from the dead and allowed us to fire up the water heater (showers! hot water for dishes!). Hell, I coulda taken a hot bubble bath if I’d wanted to. Waaay too easy, these power outages… with the right tools.

First off, here’s the main culprit in the outage that affected our neighborhood… a big old muscular branch — maybe the whole tree — that took down a pole and numerous of its attached wires. We think. This is at the Senior Center and it took them about 24 hours of non-stop attention to get this working again.

Here’s the generator that saved the day today… it operated on a gallon of gas for 4-6 hours. Noisy, horrible for the environment.. and effective in a pinch. The generator’s in the backyard. The extension cord plugged right into the back of the fridge. Voila. Later, Jim added another line to the water heater. Voila again.

And, from last night… a photo Jim took (I was unaware): Old lady in thick layers of poofy clothes warms self by fire (this was last night’s blog writing, the only time I opened my laptop in two days).

So here’s what we learned for next time:

  • Make sure pilot light is lit on fireplace, then let it rip
  • Have headlamps, flashlights (with fresh batteries) and candles (with matches) handy
  • Bring the large battery in from the garage for charging phones
  • If you think you might lose power, take that shower and wash that hair
  • Be ready with easy to fix (in the dark), heat-up-only meals
  • Get the generator out, get a gallon or two of gas and have your longest extension cord ready
  • Have sleeping bags ready (it was so cold in the bedroom, we slept in our bags)
  • Get a large lantern that can throw a lot of light (ours gave up the ghost a summer or two ago)
  • Pick a book or two, have a jigsaw ready
  • Batten down the hatches outside.. stow things that might fly away or get knocked down

And here’s what we learned for NOW:

You don’t need a power outage to:

  • Read
  • Spend downtime with your husband in front of the fire
  • Cut yourself off from the constant flow of soul-crushing news
  • Get 8 hours of sleep at night

To wit, I dove deeply and luxuriously into a book — quite engaging — by a writer who has an inspiring gift, who can craft stunning sentences that convey human experiences so precisely I just kept shaking my head. What a pleasure!

I got more sleep in two nights than I usually get in four. What a concept.

I got through my days just fine without a constant stream of hysterical news. Still managed to keep up with the main news stories.

And it was lovely and comfy to spend long hours in Jim’s company, even though we talked very little (because: books!).

Powered Down

January 27, 2021

Last night’s fierce winds and rain messed with us big time. At about 12:20 this morning, the power went out and has yet to be restored (as I click “publish,” it’s 9:20pm, exactly 21 hours later.. and counting).

PG&E’s been working all over town, so we’re told, on fixing downed lines, blown transformers and whatnot. We hear that approximately 6000 homes in Central and North Davis, and some number of South Davis homes, lost power. Some have come back… but.. we here on A Street are still waiting. I can look up the street and see official vehicles with blinking lights parked outside the Senior Center; that seems a hopeful sign.

It wasn’t a horrible day…. I’ve longed for such downtime (minus the missing electricity — which, it’s shocking how much one relies on such a thing).

Here are some pics:

At the beginning, when it all seemed novel and fun, and we were ever-so-casual about our predicament:

At least we could see.

We read: Trust Exercises by Susan Choi for me and The Outpost by Jake Tapper for Jim:

We (well, I) puzzled:

I made great progress!

Jim cooked (well, heated up the lentil soup I made last week):

(Note headlamp…just like camping.)

We ate:

Kinda romantic.

And now we’re reading again… waiting for power. Sleeping bags tonight!

I sent Chris a picture of the current state of our landscaping project. His comment was, “You put a podium in your front yard?” I had to look at the picture again and realized the new planter does look like a podium! He said we should encourage people to use it as a public soapbox. Haha. Then he started riffing on the idea, saying it was just like the presser Rudy Giuliani held at the landscaping business. He said I should dress up as Rudy and hold a press conference with my audience sitting on the rocks arrayed in front of the “podium.”

We had a good laugh at that.

I went this far:

See? It does look like podium.

My Turn for a ….

January 25, 2021

….pandemic birthday!

Which meant a birthday– not unlike many others, but — just a little quieter. Just Jim and me.. close to home. And it was a lovely day.

Jim and I braved lunch out, sitting outside at Crepeville in 47-degree-ish temps:

We’re smiling.

I took a great walk with Carrie, had a nearly 4-hr conversation with Peter (yes!) and then had dinner with Jim. My birthday dinner choices were meatloaf, baked sweet potato with brown sugar and marshmallows (don’t laugh) and roasted cauliflower. Every single bite was insane. A truly perfect meal. Here’s his meatloaf with glaze (ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic and onion powder, S&P):

Here’s the whole ensemble.. comfort food galore:

And finally, that German Chocolate Cake.. twenty pounds of pure bliss:

And by twenty pounds, I mean the cake. It was heavy, sweet, dense, moist… and just fantastic.

It was a two-Zoom day.

I’ll start with the second one first. About 19 of us hung out this afternoon in a sorta-happy-hour, reflecting on the work we did together this past four years — in particular 2020 — and then looked ahead to 2021 and spoke of hopes and dreams for the coming year. My kinda Zoom meeting. I’ve got plenty of questions (for myself) about how I want to be involved in political action and advocacy going forward, but expect to remain engaged in some manner. (Just so I can remember, this is who was on the call today: me, Kelly, Rachel, Emily, Megan, Steve, Tim, Lloyd, Linda, Chris, Janette, Amanda, Alex, Amy, Betsy, Rebekka, Peggy, Michelle, Debbie.) One thing that’s funny to me (and several commented on this), as long as I’ve been in Davis, and as many friends and acquaintances as I have, pretty much everyone in my political circle is new to me — most of them in this past year of working intensely together. Didn’t expect to make so may new friends in a pandemic year. And today’s group was but a fraction of the folks I met and toiled with, learning new stuff and fighting like our democracy depended on it. Whew, wow and grateful for smart, passionate, committed peeps.

The Zoom call this morning was this ancient group of friends from multiple time zones: five Hesse girls (of five!) + two of their partners; three Osborne girls (of three!) + a drop-in by Bev; and moi. The full complement (minus brothers or male spouses)! It was Vicki’s and my birthday celebration. We donned silly hats, played a game (“How Well Do You Know Kari and Vicki”), laughed a ton, shared memories and some catch-up stuff, read poems, sang songs (spontaneously), and just had a great gathering for nearly two hours.

Here are a couple of photos that appeared at times during the party:

Lisa made these…. Vicki and me as babes:

And Leah made this one of me with my pal Bernie (it was taken Summer 2019 when we all spent a week in a house on the Betsy River in Northern Michigan.. the whole group from today minus Lundee). I am struggling (feigning), but Bern’s providing encouragement!

I whiled away the time between zoom calls singing (loudly) while jigsaw puzzling as the rain came down.

Happy Sunday.

Quince Flowered!

January 23, 2021

Seems a bit early, but the flowering quince done did its thing. It’s a few weeks behind the narcissus, but … they’re weird.

Still… I can feel spring in the air. And even if it’s not quite in the air, IT FEELS LIKE IT because: happy. Laughing a lot, singing a lot, dancing a lot, finding humor everywhere. Feeling all optimistic, even as I know the politics will get brutal. Better to be where we are than the alternative.

Anyway, happy. And the flowers are coming.

Try as I might, I could not get my camera to focus on the blossom. But here it is anyway.

Brave Enough

January 22, 2021

Amanda Gorman reads a poem at the Inauguration of president Joe Biden in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of TED.

This was a truly inspiring conclusion to the Inauguration Ceremony two days ago. Amanda Gorman got my attention the moment she took the podium. Her words were pure medicine and her delivery mesmerizing. Here is the poem she wrote for this moment:

The Hill We Climb

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.