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Apple, Tree?

August 9, 2021

I actually think there are other photos of mom and me that, in my opinion, show any resemblance more convincingly. I NEVER looked like my mom in the early days, and I certainly never looked anything like she did when she was a young woman. But as I’ve aged, our looks seem to be getting closer together.

And that’s funny.. since she’s a tall, olive-complected, dark hair/eyes person, and I’m.. well.. nothing of the sort. While I never looked like my dad either, I still picked up more of his Scandinavian features (coloring, anyway). My mom had some strong Askenazi Jew and Eastern European influences in her features, and I have some of that, too.

Here are a few of the young mom..

(And yeah, that’s me, probably a few months old.)

Anyway.. I took these two photos (top one of me and Sally about ten years ago.. we’re both 55 in that shot) and the bottom one taken when my mom was about 62 and I was about 36.

And did this so I could compare them side by side:

Mostly, I think the resemblance is in the short, thick hair and the long ears. She had some cosmetic work done that re-established her eyelids (you know how they disappear as you age) and she made her eyebrows do that with an eyebrow pencil. Our noses are both honky, but mine’s a bit more hook-ish. I don’t know…. sometimes I look in the mirror and see her looking back. Freaks me out. (As in, “mom!”). But then I think it’s nice that she comes to say hi from time to time. I miss her. Sometimes, the resemblance is really just the expression. I think we look a bit alike, but not hugely.

What do you think?

Zucchinipalooza

August 8, 2021

I wish I’d thought to count the number of zucchinis that we are harvesting off two zucchini plants — one green and one yellow. My lord.

I bought them (along with a bunch of other starts) at Lumeria on May 7. They didn’t get planted until May 17… look how cute:

That’s it on the right of the bed.

And now, three months later, this tiny little green zuc start is a total monster! Yesterday, I cut it way back, removing some of the scarily big leaves (leaves nearly 2 feet in diameter!), and here’s what it looked like after its trimming:

It has a new melon neighbor there to the right, but that huge, twisted gnarly thing heading leftward, that sorta looks like some kind of garden macrame, is what became of that delicate little start and, if I had to guess, I’d say we’ve picked about 30-40 zucs so far off this one plant (and the yellow zuc plant is nearly as prolific, growing in a nearby bed).

Mostly been grilling them, or sauteing big vegetable melanges that include zucs. I made zucchini bread a couple weeks ago and tonight made two more loaves of zucchini bread (a different recipe) and tonight I also made a Mediterranean casserole with zucs, cherry tomatoes, and basil (all from the garden), plus fresh bread crumbs, onions, garlic and ground lamb. Which was pretty good (but who knew Jim didn’t like lamb?). I have lots more casserole recipes to work through. Good thing, right?

I have so many garden shots, but it sorta becomes like sharing photos of your grandkids or pets… maybe people don’t really want to see baby garden plants?. I just want to make sure I remember what we did so we can make improvements next summer. I’m keeping a garden journal (of course I am), but honestly, I keep forgetting to make notes in it (I’ll get better.. this is so new).

Well.

Here’re tonight’s zucchinipalooza dishes… which we’ll be eating for days.

For the Mediterranean casserole, start by browning 3/4 lb of ground lamb with onions and garlic:

Then layer zucchini (1/4″ rounds) in a dish coated in olive oil:

Add all the ground meat, then a layer of tomatoes:

You fully cover that with half the bread crumbs (I cut about six slices from a loaf of Acme Italian bread and put the cubes into the food processor with 1 1/2 cup of fresh basil, salt and pepper), drizzle some olive oil over it, then do another layer of zucs, tomatoes and finish with the remaining bread crumbs. Again drizzle with olive oil and pop it into a 350 degree oven for an hour.

This is just before the oven part. After an hour (I added another 10 minutes to make sure the top layer of zucs was fully roasted) it comes out browned and crispy/crunchy on top.

I felt like it could use some rice or feta.. or something to give it a little more heft. I just realized we have a batch of tzatsiki left over from last week… which would have been a perfect accompaniment!

As I said, I also made more zucchini bread:

Very tasty. Though weirdly, baked these 50% longer than the recipe called for. Not sure why I couldn’t get to full doneness in the one hour specified.

I’m looking for someone to give zucchini bread to…

Hidden Treasures

August 7, 2021

First, it must be noted that it is still very smokey hereabouts. As I write this, I’m looking out the window at a bright reddish-orange sun that is sinking westward. It’s cool looking, but is not a good sign. Here’s a pic of that glowing sun in an otherwise darkish late afternoon sky.

As a bookend, here’s the sun this morning, rising in the East. This picture was taken/posted by the Mishka’s folks:

I hate to complain about smoke, when, for those actually in the line of fire (so to speak), it’s so much worse.

Today’s memorial for Rick — who died last December, but whose memorial had to be delayed due to covid — was postponed, this time due to fire danger and unhealthy, smokey air. Given all the people who undoubtedly planned to be there from all corners, I’m sure today’s cancelation was a big headache and huge disappointment.

On the other hand, I have two friends who are at weddings today, and fortunately, for people and events along the coast, it’s a beautiful day. Whew for them!

Well. Here in the brown valley, it was mostly an inside day… not counting a quick trip to Farmers Market (AQI was in the 40s this morning (150s now) which was manageable) and a couple hours in the garden wrangling runaway melon shoots, and cutting back surplus tomato vineage (gosh.. isn’t vineage a word? WordPress’s spellcheck doesn’t think so.).

Here’s the enormous (much bigger and denser than it may seem) pile of stuff I removed from the beds to make room for the fruits and veggies that are trying to make a go of it (because, wow, those vines were growing like gangbusters, wrapping themselves around everything and burying the zucs, cucs, basil, berries, etc. Jim was afraid they’d soon overtake the patio furniture!).

I should have taken a before shot to illustrate how extensive the melon and tomato growth had become. Jim was serious when he feared for the patio furniture. But this after shot gives a little idea of the spillage. This is mostly ambrosia melon (there may also be a honeydew in there). I cut that tomato way back as it looks like it won’t be productive. I decided a little spillage is okay, especially as there looks to be a LOT of melon coming.

You can see how long some of those melon shoots are… this is watermelon escaping the bed and heading west. I decided to let some of those grow at will.. along with some tomatoes that seem not to be bothering anyone on the back side …

And here are some shots of little munchkins trying to grow:

A sweet little strawberry…

A little glob of eggplant (on a plant that has yet to yield a crop):

(The other eggplant variety has given us a rich bounty for nearly two months now.)

I believe these are ambrosia melons…

This is a watermelon!

Not in the raised beds, but here’re five (FIVE) figs!

I’ll close with this mistake of a shot, though I like it. I like that this kind of gardening lends itself to wearing flips.

Smokey Joe

August 6, 2021

As of today, we’re back to living inside a Smokey Joe. It appears that the winds shifted, or the high pressures gave way to lows, or whatever it was keeping all the fire smoke at bay.. something changed and now we have smoke. I liked it a lot better when the West’s smoke was going to the Eastern seaboard. As I channeled my best, most charitable self (and not my nah, nah vindictive self) I thought It’s important that the entire country experience these fires, otherwise they won’t appreciate the problems of drought and climate change. This is an us problem, not a California-Oregon-Washington liberal commie BlackLivesMatter problem.

So there.

But now we’re swimming in our own pee, so to speak. Our fires, our smoke. Nobody on the Eastern seaboard, or in the Midwest, or the South cares. (They’ve got their own crosses to bear: masks.*)

I had to drive to Sac today and, boy, was it butt ugly out there. Hot, smelly, smokey, brown. Not healthy for children and other living things. Honestly… it is tres dispiriting.

The hopeful and optimistic side of me hopes this is just a minor blip, and that blue skies will return soon. Most definitely we’ll have blue skies when Peter arrives later this month and we go to Yosemite for some high country hiking. Most definitely.

~~

Meanwhile, check this out. This is definitely a tale of the one that got away. As in… it was hiding, we somehow missed it and then, bam! it’s a monster zuc!

My reading glasses and a normal-sized zucchini for scale. Just obscene, isn’t it?

~~

(*) don’t get me started.

Sign of the times #1: It’s fire season in California… a fire season that now runs from early summer to the dead of winter.. especially in the drought-stricken west. A seven-month fire season. Which is nearly unbearable for those living in the parched foothills, like Sarah and Gabe (and Susan and Jim, and Heidi and Jim, and, and, and…).

So… Sarah and I are having lunch in downtown Sac — at a place called Zocolo — fast and furious, back and forth, typical of conversation with pals from kindergarten days. About two and a half hours, a large basket of chips, two enchiladas, two tacos, and a pair of margaritas in, Gabe calls. A fire has started and is gaining momentum and they may have to evacuate. Sarah was so calm on my end, I would never have guessed the substance of the call. All I heard was, “hi honey,” “when?,” “where?,” “okay,” “bye honey.” If I’m recalling correctly, we may have finished the conversation we were having prior to the call, talked a little bit about what their evacuation plan involves, then she said something like, “maybe I better get home.”

Girl’s got a very calm head. She’s who I’d wanna be with in a crisis.

I imagine, however, her heart was thumping big time as she drove east on I-80.. here’s what she saw:

This is scary because Gabe told her the fire broke out along the Bear River, just down the hill from their home of many decades.

Sidne snapped a couple of photos from her place near Auburn, just down the hill from Colfax. Another view from I-80:

And one of Colfax High School (where Sarah & Gabe’s kids went to school (as did Susan and her sibs!):

And here’s one over the roof of Sarah & Gabe’s house… the air tankers in full assault:

It’s just awful that California is burning like this. Like never before. And I fear the season’s just begun. Jim and I are heading up to Dutch Flat on Saturday — that’s the plan anyway. We’re holding positive thoughts for so many friends in the fire zone.

~~

Sign of the times #2: A lot less dire. This sign has to do with forgetfulness and general discombobulation. I’ll be heading to the Apple Store Genius Bar tomorrow for the third time in three days, having messed up on the first two appointments. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere… Genius Bar, messed up appointments at same. In both cases, I made lemonade — a leisurely long lunch with Sarah yesterday, a walk two times around Curtiss Park with Lorilyn today — but I really do hope to make the appointment tomorrow. It’s a long drive over that causeway!

I’m still at the amused stage when it comes to my age-related forgetfulness and discombobulations. It’s trippy to find the chapstick in the earring dish, or the car key in my apron pocket two days later. I search fruitlessly for names and take twice as long with morning and evening procedures. Routines are my friends, but I easily forget to use them. All par for the course. I feel like a subject in my own science experiments. It’s all quite amusing.. at this point.

We needed toilet paper. I mean, we had a about a dozen rolls on hand, but one always wants to stay ahead of the game when it comes to tp.

I bought a 12-pack. As you do when at the store and wandering down the tp aisle.

Jim had a better idea. (My purchase on left, Jim’s on right… delivered just now..)

Jim wins.

Knock, Knock..

August 3, 2021

… who’s there?

Cucumbers!

Cucumbers who?

That’s all, just three cucumbers.. from, presumably, our neighbor down the street.

She delivered three cucs last week and I used them to make a great batch of tsatziki last night. What should I do with these?

Ap-titude

August 2, 2021

I was the appetizer person at last Sunday’s Dining Divas. This means, not surprisingly, that I contributed the appetizer course at our quarterly dinner gathering. I made chevre with herbs and lemon. It came out so well (I thought), I made it again tonight and served it to Sabrina and Bill. Because I’m a great fan of filling up before dinner, I made another appetizer (tzatziki) and added a dish of castelvetrano olives for good measure (because … I just love castelvetrano olives…could eat ’em all day long). I think I have my Mediterranean bases covered here — France, Greece and Spain.

For the goat cheese ap, the recipe calls for basil, chives and parsley. I harvested the first two from the garden (yes I did!!).

Finely chopped it…

Added minced garlic, pepper and some lemon zest & juice, and rolled a log of plain goat cheese through it until the cheese was fully covered, and served with Village Bakery bread (or whatever).

Here’s what it looks like…. goat cheese w/ herbs and lemon on left, tzatsiki on right and castelvetrano olives beyond.

And really.. who needs dinner?

Have I posted about this before? Not sure.

For the last … maybe year (?), Jim, Peter and I have been competing nightly on the New York Times’ Mini-Crossword. We each subscribe, open the app daily, and zip as fast as our fat fingers will take us through 10 clues — 5 Acrosses and 5 Downs (except on one day — can never remember which — when the puzzle is 7×7).

Typical time to finish one is about a minute or two. Two nights ago, the puzzle took me nearly 15 minutes to solve. That was record. Tonight’s was super easy and only took me 34 seconds. I SHOULD HAVE WON WITH THAT!! But, as I do most nights, I came in third.

I am Amy Brookheimer. Peter is Dan Egan and Jim is himself. Amy and Dan, if you don’t know, were characters in the TV show VEEP.. which all three of us howled over (in reruns, since we never seem to catch TV shows in the same decade in which they’re made).

Thirty-four seconds was probably my best time ever. Super proud (and excited to lord my score over the others), I went right to the leaderboard to see how much I’d beaten Peter and Jim by. And you see the results.

Damn!

Here’s how easy it was:

I think I’d have shaved about 5 seconds off my time if I’d not mistyped “tree” out the gate. As is so often the case, I had to delete a couple of bum characters and retype new ones (the fat fingers thing).

For months and months, Peter consistently beat both Jim and me. In recent months, Jim’s found his rhythm and now gives Peter a bit of a run for his money. But more often than not, Mr. Dan Egan comes out on top (and poor, hapless Amy brings up the rear).