This Guy

April 30, 2021

Today was Jim’s 68th birthday. Age is so relative that 68 doesn’t even seem that old. How weird is that? On the other hand, Jim is 68. Holy Cow.

We celebrated by going out to dinner (at Symposium) and went to an actual movie. Yepperoo. A movie! In a theater. In a velour seat. With the smell of popcorn wafting through the air.


Saw a super sad movie about a Syrian refugee living on a remote island in Scotland hoping for asylum so he could bring his parents and brother to safety. It was moving, desolate, heart wrenching, haunting, and though a bit stylized and artful, it was eye opening to view desperation through the eyes and experience of a refugee.

That aside, it was fun to go out.. just like in the beforetimes.

After the movie, we came home and ate the strawberry shortcake I worked on this afternoon. SSC was Jim’s birthday cake selection (of a sort) and it was my first time making it.

Here’s how it came out:

It might look a little bit better than it tasted… I thing because the biscuits mighta shoulda been softer? Served warm? They were more cookie-like, than cake-like. Also, the berries were a wee hard and sour. The sugar and juiciness helped a lot!

Jim was enthused!

Cutie pie.

Thursday Tart

April 29, 2021

Been wanting to make this NYT asparagus and goat cheese tart for a while. It gets four stars from both of us.

Prepare a spread of creme fraiche, garlic, lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, goat cheese and egg. Then, roll out a large rectangle of puff pastry…

Score the pastry (not sure this is what they meant) and spread the mix just shy of the scored border…

Lay asparagus and brush olive oil over the top…

Sprinkle some grated parmesan over the whole thing and put in a 425 degree oven for about 25 mins…

And here it is…

After it’s rested for about 15 minutes (and the center sinks back down), sprinkle some parmesan shavings, pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

So good.

And funnily: Carrie and I walked yesterday and talked about recipes. Turns out she’d also clipped this one and was planning to make it soon. I texted her tonight to say I’d just popped mine in the oven. And so had she! Such a cowinkydink! Here’s hers:

Seems to be a good throwback photo day… so… here are some from this day (give or take) 15 years ago (whoa, that’s crazy):

Peter was in a run-everywhere phase of life. He was 7 years old and we were in Italy:




And going…

Janet’s Yellow Tulips

April 27, 2021

I gotta get me some of those. Tulip season doesn’t last forever.

Four Beautiful Things

April 26, 2021

Happy Monday to you.

I dreaded today because I’d let a writing project hang over my head for a couple of weeks and — so incredibly baffling to me — could not make myself do it.. and yet, hadda. Clock was ticking, time was running out… I really had no choice but to do it… like, today.

So… beautiful thing #1, I headed downtown to sit at Cloud Forest and write my article. On the way, was mesmerized by a skyful of amazing clouds on a clear, crisp spring day:

Beautiful thing #2 was this yummy avocado toast. I love the way Cloud Forest does theirs… with toasted sesame seeds, cherry toms and a bit of olive oil and salt. Heaven on toasted sourdough.

Beautiful thing #3 was meeting a woman named Mary, who looks like she’ll work out great as our new yard maintenance person who is also a horticulturist and can — in addition to yard maintenance — advise on plants, advise on the planting of our new vegetable garden, prune and shape trees, and other stuff, too. I’m thrilled and relieved and feel 1000% less apprehensive about our yard’s future.

Beautiful thing #4… that article. It may not be done, but a draft is done and presently in the hands of a real editor who can (gently or brutally) steer me in a constructive direction. I think I’m over the hump of reluctance and procrastination.

Beautiful, right?

Zoomy Vent Weakened

April 25, 2021

It was a two-Zoom-event weekend.

There was a concert….

This was Monica’s very interesting and non-traditional singing troupe from the Bay Area, Volti, performing another of its made-for-Zoom concerts. This is the fourth one I’ve “attended” this year and, as if the music isn’t out-of-the-box worthy enough, the performance online is so clever and different.

This was a performance called “Ink” and each of the five pieces was a variation of that: drink, blink, think, link and, finally, ink. This is how they describe it:

“Ink” (a choral work in five movements) by Pamela Z is a work that unfolds in five sonically distinct movements that variously use standard notation, graphic elements, instructions, and rote transmission of sung and spoken vocal material. Speech fragments from interviews with the Volti singers make up a portion of the sonic structure and determine some of the work’s melodic and rhythmic passages.

Here’s a screen grab from the think movement:

(I wonder if this means Monica’s mind is blank?) (Which it never is, btw!)


So.. there was that.

And then there was a 59th birthday party for Lisa! Five sisters and five honorary sisters.. our whole Northern Michigan Vicki birthday gang. We came with hats and stories. Best Lisa story: the time she brought her horse Dudface into her bedroom… just… to do it. Walked him right in through a sliding glass door that lead to the backyard. At some point, she worried he might poop, so she got him outa there… not sure her mom saw it.. but there are pictures…

Ann had left just before this pic was snapped (by Karen).. but here we are: me, Lisa, Claire, Karen, Leslie, Vicki, Leah, Betsy, Lauren:

Weekend also featured a nice lemon piccata chicken dinner (Chef: Janet); a short, but spectacular rain storm; a springy, lovely Farmer’s Market; a rushed brunch this morning at Bernardo’s (but notable b/c it was Jim’s and my first time eating indoors in Davis); and now, as I type this, the Oscars! (Notable for maybe not being a Zoom-event… we’ll see, it’s on the verge of starting after a very different red carpet.)

Bracing for tomorrow’s storm. Maybe more like anticipating with a tiny bit of preparation. And by preparation, I mean Jim covered the hammock.

Otherwise… the Farmer’s Market was today’s big event, over which hung beautiful skies.

Like Father, Like Son

April 23, 2021

My nephew John and his 5-year-old, River.

He doesn’t always just go along for the ride… he is a skater in his own right (with his own Instagram account):

All photos by the amazing (and proud) Alexis!

Wrap Them in Love

April 22, 2021

My goodness, it’s been a heavy heart week.

While there was a satisfying and due verdict in the George Floyd case, it doesn’t change (yet) the fundamental problems with policing, systemic racism and the general racial injustices that persist. Meanwhile, as if to underscore exactly that, there have been more police-involved shootings this week as we are still reeling from last week’s. One officer shot and killed a 20-year old with a gun when she meant to reach for a taser (that young man, Daunte Wright, was buried today after a high profile, televised memorial); another police officer shot and killed a 16-year old girl who appeared to be on the verge of stabbing another girl with a large knife. That one is less about officer abuse (since he responded as trained) — his split second response while fatal to the knife wielder spared the life of her attackee — and more about fundamental police training issues (why a gun, why shoot to kill?) and, perhaps more fundamental, about a society that failed the troubled teen in the first place.

And, adding sorrow to sorrow, Jim and I attended a memorial today for a Davis 23-year old, Jake, who died way too young of an accidental drug overdose. Hundreds showed up at the cemetery, including so many young folks.

It just makes you want your kid here right now so you can wrap your arms around him in love and safety. It makes you realize, for the gazillionth time, life is precious and can change in a heartbeat… words that sound like platitudes we hear them so often, but they’re just the plain god-honest truth. Life is precious and can change in a heartbeat.

There are a lot of moms and dads in pain this week.


A few favorite shots of wrapping our boy in love…

Garden Beds and Orchards

April 21, 2021

Nothing says you gotta lotta work aheada ya like a whole buncha newly built and empty garden beds. Also, Ruben & Co planted the fruit trees… so now we have a working orchard! (Huge overstatement.) Here are some pics of where the backyard stands today:

Taken from the observation tower.. farthest north is the mandarin orange tree, then the meyer lemon and then the existing plum. A portion of the nearly finished beds on the right (irrigation lines to be connected next week, then I can plant them):

Moving my camera to the right to catch a bit more of the beds and a good portion of the patio:

Here is a wider view of this part… lots of construction stuff still to be cleared out, but it gives an idea of the full beddage:

Now, looking down the other side, an overhead shot of the hammock.. and you can see the start of a fig tree (far right). Out of view is the newly planted nectarine… in lower right, if you could see it:

And because the color is magnificent.. the last blooming purple tulip. Couldn’t you just live in that tulip, surrounded forever by that color?