Many Treats

March 31, 2023

Yesterday was a day of many treats!

First, there was the ever-so-satisfying, thought-it-would-never-happen indictment of the creepiest, most corrupt country-wrecker in our nation’s history. That was major cause for celebration, even as this hush money fraud case is the least of the violations he’ll be indicted for before all is said and done. He’s dodged accountability for way too long and this just feels great. It made for a super fun night of late night comedy, too. Couldn’t live without late night.

But before that news hit in the late afternoon, it was already a special day. My old college roommate Carol was in town. I’m guessing we see each other once or twice every ten years. We can always count on our annual January birthdays phone conversation, which is very nice, but the chance to hang out is rare. She and Bill are in Northern California for a number of events and I’m grateful she found some time to meet up with me. We decided to meet halfway, in Martinez, for lunch.

I always forget what a sweet town Martinez is.. full of restaurants and charm (and probably lots of other things). We had a two-hour lunch at a place called Lemongrass Bistro. Modest ambiance, excellent food.

Then.. to a place I had no idea existed — certainly not in Martinez — a National Historic Site managed by the National Park Service: the home of John Muir.

Everyone knows the naturalist, mountain wanderer, writer side of John Muir. I did not know about the fruit rancher part of his life.

At 42-ish, he was in the Bay Area and was introduced to Louie, daughter of rich fruit ranchers. They married and moved in with her parents and helped operate the ranch. After the parents died, John and Louie took over the fruit ranch and made a ton of money. They raised two daughters there, Helen and Wanda. (The park includes hiking trails, and were it not super muddy, we’ve have hiked to the top of Mt Helen and Mt Wanda, about a 600′ climb.)

The house is a 10,000 square foot mansion and really fun to wander through.

Carol and me in that bell tower at the tippy top.

Here’s Muir’s office…

Cool, huh? I took lots of photos inside the house.. their bedroom, a gorgeous piano, the kitchen.. all kinds of things I’ll spare you. But it was so very cool to know he lived right there and to try and picture his daily life. I’m a fan girl. I mean.. I attended John Muir College at UC San Diego, and Muir’s presence is all over Yosemite. He founded the Sierra Club and is the father of our National Park system.

Here’s a neat blurb I read online:

Finally settling in San Francisco, Muir immediately left for a week-long visit to Yosemite, a place he had only read about. Seeing it for the first time, Muir notes that “He was overwhelmed by the landscape, scrambling down steep cliff faces to get a closer look at the waterfalls, whooping and howling at the vistas, jumping tirelessly from flower to flower.”[15] He later returned to Yosemite and worked as a shepherd for a season. He climbed a number of mountains, including Cathedral Peak and Mount Dana, and hiked an old trail down Bloody Canyon to Mono Lake.

We were lucky to get a brilliant, sunny day, after so much rain. I didn’t take any shots of the orchards and hills, but did take this one at the bottom of the hill before walking up to the house:

This was a nice sculpture inside the visitor’s center:


March 30, 2023

Well This is a New One

March 29, 2023

(Note: First, let me say, I’m still trying to catch up from being gone a week, so planning to back fill. But don’t want to get further behind, so will pick up now w/ a post today. k?) (She unnecessarily explained to nobody.)

So here is the “new one” of which I speak…

A stovetop quiche with breadcrumbs for a crust. Really.

Thing of beauty, right? We maybe didn’t need to de-pan it to cut wedges for our dinner.. but did — it was a two-person job! It’s only not-round above because some of the tomato/chard topping toppled off when we slid the “quiche” out of the pan, otherwise, it’s a pretty great looking thing.

I gave it a 4 (out of four), Jim a 3.

This is from today’s Washington Post “Eat Voraciously” column, which I love….and here’s their result:

Well. I’ll bet their’s didn’t taste as good!

And just because I know you’re dying to make it:

Today’s recipe
Photos by Rey Lopez for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington PostPhotos by Rey Lopez for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Skillet Quiche With Breadcrumb Crust

Find substitution suggestions and other tips below the recipe.

For easy printing and scaling, view this recipe in our Recipe Finder.

Servings: 2
Active time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins

  • 1 1/4 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 medium tomato, coarsely chopped (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • 1 ounce spinach leaves, finely chopped (1/4 to 1/3 packed cup)

1. In a small bowl, mix together the panko and herbes de Provence (to taste).

2. In a medium well-seasoned cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering; swirl to coat the bottom and halfway up the sides. Pour the crumb mixture into the skillet and, using a flexible spatula, toss the crumbs to coat with the oil, then press to form a crust. Toast until fragrant, about 1 minute. Monitor the heat and adjust as needed; if the heat is too high, the crust will burn before the eggs set after being poured in, and if it’s too low the crust will not become golden brown.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, water and salt until combined. Gently pour the eggs evenly over the crumb crust, then sprinkle the tomato and spinach evenly over the eggs. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the eggs are just set but still look moist, about 10 minutes.

4. Uncover and remove from the heat. Using a flexible spatula, gently loosen the edges of the crust, then slide the quiche onto a cutting board. Cut in half or in wedges and serve.

VARIATION: You can make your own breadcrumbs for the crust. Tear 2 ounces of day-old French or other crusty bread (about 1/4 of a regular-size baguette) into chunks and place them in a food processor along with the herbes de Provence (to taste). Pulse to form small crumbs; you should get about 1 1/4 cups.

Adapted from “Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen” (Ballantine Books, 2012). Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 335; Total Fat: 16 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 372 mg; Sodium: 512 mg; Carbohydrates: 27 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 2 g; Protein: 17 g.

Substitution suggestions + other tips and ideas:

  • Instead of tomato >> try diced zucchini, steamed peas or more spinach.
  • In place of spinach >> use more tomato, baby kale, or a handful of fresh tender herbs such as basil, parsley or tarragon.
  • You could also add shredded or crumbled cheese to the quiche.
  • For a creamier quiche >> use half-and-half or milk instead of the water.


You’re welcome.

Gift Avocado

March 28, 2023

(NOTE: As I backfill missed blogs, my only clues as to what may have happened on any given day may be a date-stamped photo or a calendar entry. I had only one photo for this day.. March 28… an avocado photo that I’d taken to send to the person who gave me said avocado. My calendar tells me I had two political meetings that day (skipped one because it was raining too hard) and a gathering with my book group (I’d not finished the book, so there was nothing to blog about. So….. avocado it is.)

The only thing I can say about this avocado is that is was fantastic. Anne gave it to me eight days ago. Using a long basket grabber, she’d harvested it from her backyard tree and handed it to me as a solid dark green rock. I nestled it into the front seat console of my car and drove around with it for the whole time I was in the southland. I never thought it’d ripen.. but, well, eventually it did. And we ate it. And it was excellent.

So I sent a pic to Anne with our thanks!

Define Protection

March 27, 2023

The count for mass shootings so far in 2023 is sickeningly high. School mass shootings, as well. Today’s was at a church school in Nashville… 3 nine-year olds and 3 school officials. Of course people are numb. Reps look the other way and/or blame anything but guns. Dems feel jaded and hopeless. People dig in on their respective sides … reps double down on the 2nd amendment and gun purchases soar. Their solutions include giving guns to everyone and making sure we have armed guards everywhere. Protection, they say. Dems call for common sense gun laws. The dems are 100% correct. Of course. There is NO moral defense on the rep side. But here we are. I do expect there will be a tipping point.. if not in our republican elected officials, then in the voting public. I’m jaded and hopeless, like everyone .. but actually believe we will prevail at some point. Because we must. This is an untenable situation.

I’m with all the thinking and moral people in the country… on the side of common sense gun laws. And for f*cks sake, we absolutely need to ban assault-style weapons of war. Obvs. I also would like to see voluntary buy backs that happen annually and become something close to a national holiday. I’d like to see the best marketing and messaging people we have assigned to the campaign to turn in your guns. I could see public pressure having an effect, eventually, on people who continue to own assault weapons, at least. As the decades go on. Maybe, over time, with the halting now assault weapons sales, PLUS regular buy backs for the millions that remain in so many people’s possessions.. over time, we could make a real dent. Right? Maybe?

It’s all unbearably stupid that we are here.


And yeah… the reps are protecting our children. Not from guns and violence, but from ideas, education, books.

Spring happened (officially, calendar-wise) while I was down in PV-RB-LB. And it was dark when I came in last night. So extra sweet to see the front yard abloom.. full of orange spring splendor.

Davisward Bound

March 25, 2023

(Note: I have written somewhere north of 2000 blog posts in my years of blogging. That’s 2000+ titles I’ve had to come up, and hopefully not repeat. So please forgive those that are weird.)

And speaking of north.. I’m heading home on this day. Saying goodbye until my next visit to the giant eucalyptuses of my youth….

And the surfers…

Before I left the southland, I had lunch with track buddy Kath. Our tradition has been to meet in Calabasas for lunch, which we did today.. a gorgeous day for outside dining and turtle/koi viewing. And a pic to mark the occasion.

This is a drive I do not really mind. I’ve done it so many times.. and usually, by the time I’m pulling into Davis, I’m feeling like, eh, that wasn’t so bad.. went by fast. And, in spite of the common refrains about I-5 being boring, it can be really beautiful, too.

To wit:

Pyramid Lake near the top of the Grapevine:

Some remaining Grapevine snow (they got a ton this year, closed traffic numerous times.. though not this day)..

I’ve always loved this first glimpse of the Central Valley, with I-5 a straight shot into the distance…

The valley was crazy green and covered in wildflowers, and the clouds added additional visual interest..

In ‘n Out is my reward for long drives up the Central Valley.. (no wonder I don’t mind the drive)…single, no cheese, with onion. It’s so fresh and crispy…

And just bunches of nice views… some from a view point, some shot blindly off to the side (and cropped later). The last one is of Mt. Diablo across the valley at sunset…


March 24, 2023

I’m already fretting about my week coming to a close and somehow not finding, yet again, enough down time at the beach. I need weeks, not days, to stare at the horizon, and walk along the Esplanade, and while away hours drinking coffee and reading in local cafes. Weeks!

So.. today’s my last day in the southland. I haven’t yet paid homage to the old homestead, and I haven’t spent any time with the kiddos, so decided both of those needed to happen.

Betsy came out (again! what a trooper!) to join me for breakfast at a new place (new to me) on PCH called Sweet Wheat. It had an impressive array of french-like things.. croissants, cheese and charcuterie boards, quiches, european-style sandwiches on crusty french bread, coffees, and so much more. I’ll probably go back on a future trip.

We followed breakfast with some shopping around in the Village. After she took off, I headed up to PV to check out the house. They look to be replacing the driveway, but I didn’t see much else happening in front.

Then I went around to the back alley…

… to see what I could see in the back.

Ever since they built a tall fence along the back boundary line, it’s impossible to see the backyard… unless you climb said fence to get a view…

…. which is NOT easy. But I can hoist myself up, provided I can get my left foot up on that railing. Even then, it’s hard to get a good picture b/c I have to maneuver my phone with one hand while I hang on with the other. Here’s the best photo I could get and you can’t see much. They’ve blended the back-forty with the backyard-proper by creating this long slope of lawn. They’ve built this huge pool on the upper portion (previously the back-forty). This time, I noticed some lawn furniture’s been added. Sweet to me: my bedroom window is very visible and looks just the same. Nothing’s been done yet to the house.. at least not the footprint of it.

One of these days, someone’s going to call the cops on me!

After this adventure, I headed over to Chris’s.. stopping to snap a few pics on the cliff above Bluff Cove. It was an extremely windy and clear day. Even with just my iPhone I could get some shots of downtown LA and the snow capped mountains. Note three shots of the same house with red roof.

After getting Chris, we went to get the kids at Alexis’s. The plan was to then take them down to John’s new place in Long Beach for their weekend with him. Everyone’s still adjusting to new routines. It was nice to be able to say hello to Alexis; sorry it was such a short visit. This must not be easy for her.

She agreed to model mom’s glasses. She’d always loved mom’s crazy glasses, so after mom died, Alexis got this pair and put her own Rx in them. Only Alexis could carry these off. (Mom wore them well, too.)

After a rough and tumble drive down the 405 during rush hour on a Friday with three kids in the backseat expressing a full range of moods, we made it to John’s and spent the next four hours in a flurry of activities — games, art, music, dinner, mess-making, clean-up. Alternated between chill and frenetic, but overall it was impressive. The kids seem to be rolling with it, John’s created a warm and well-equipped, fully-featured, thoughtful second home for his kids and I’m certain they are feeling the love. On both ends.

Some pics from the evening:

John, Magnolia, River and I played Chinese Checkers…

Chris and Juniper…

The kids are very into drawing and have a Youtube channel that guides them through sketches. River and Magnolia…

It’s worth noting that as we pulled up to John’s place, he was just returning from two days in Arizona (attending Spring training). Fresh off a six hour drive (also through LA rush hour traffic), he was cool, calm and loving. He spent time with each kid, relaxed through a few activities, then while Chris and I occupied the kids, John made a great dinner of chicken, roasted broccolini and mushrooms, and quinoa. Popsicles for dessert. All six of us sat at a well-set table and talked about our days.

Even More Beach

March 23, 2023

The time stamps on my photos show that I went down to the Esplanade multiple times today (again).. just to, you know, look at the water. The beach trips were bookended by 1) an early morning haircut with Claes and 2) a late dinner in San Pedro with the gang. So .. here are the pics from a nice Wednesday in the southland.

The immediately after version of my haircut, every hair in place, as perfected by Claes (we went for short, interesting, allow bangs to grow out, warm color):

Which all went to hell on my first walk down to the beach:

Betsy came out again and we had a great lunch at Turquoise. We sat outside, but this is their lovely interior…

I will never get tired of this place. The owner never fails to make the rounds and check on everything, and offer education about middle eastern food. This time he sent us home with several packets of sumac.

Some more beach shots…. these stairs I honest-to-god almost stumbled down.. my tennis shoe gripped the ground a little too well… but I caught myself by grabbing the rail. Lesson: pay attention.

Betsy took off and I had a quiet afternoon, then headed up to Lunada Bay to get Chris and we drove to San Pedro to meet everyone for dinner. I couldn’t resist a few pics on the way…

This is us, outside Campagnon.. a fairly decent french restaurant. I was a bit disappointed, but will chock it up to their ambitious menu. We had great wines, escargot (I didn’t), french onion soup, and all manner of french dishes for dinner.. with shared mousse for dessert. This was my beef bourguignon.. looks better than it was.

Chris, Betsy (who drove all the way back with her sister after playing golf following our lunch!), Anne, Matty, Michael, me with my new [Betsy-like] haircut.

Beach as Meditation

March 22, 2023

Today was a day to take in the beach. More the horizon and air, with the beach in the foreground. There was a morning walk to the Village for coffee and hanging out with myself…

Then there was an afternoon walk in the wind and some time on the bench to think about mom, and the view and air she loved. It was a bit more dramatic, as it was a week of mixed weather.

Then Betsy came out to join me for dinner… we went to Bettolino, then came back for a few rounds of this…