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Dog Tired

September 25, 2021

Too pooped to pop, so I’m not going to blog tonight. But if I did, I’d brag about the job I did cleaning up the garden this afternoon (read: 86’d a buncha veggies past their productive lives), or I’d really brag about an apple crisp I made… but I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Speaking of dogs, if I were ever to get one, I think I might like one (or two) of these. This picture totally makes me want a dog (or two). It also makes me want to kayak in Alaska. Just saying.

(I’m pretty sure those are Rhodesian Ridgebacks.) (The photo is from a Facebook ad I’m getting a lot lately for a foldable kayak, which looks pretty cool, I must say.)

There’s Always a First Time

September 24, 2021

I have made a lot of things in my long kitchen life that contain tomatoes. Of course. But I don’t believe I’ve actually ever made tomato sauce.. mostly because I don’t really like tomato sauce.. mostly because I don’t really like the spices that most people put in tomato sauce. Tomato sauce has been on my lifelong list of things I don’t eat (that includes most beans, peas, and weird stuff).

But… if I’m honest, it’s not that I really dislike tomato sauce — because I actually do like most of the ingredients — it’s just that, to me, all tomato sauce tastes the same and, worse, most of them taste like they came out of a jar. I never want tomato sauce on my pizza, rarely like traditional tomato sauce on my pasta… etc.

I’ve always regretted that I don’t have a kitchen/recipe portfolio of family favorites, go-tos for certain staples of family dining, like mom’s lasagne, mom’s chocolate cake, mom’s Thanksgiving dressing, mom’s meatloaf.. you get the idea. Come to think of it, It might be less about the recipe and more about my failures as a mom! During most of Peter’s life, Jim was the cook in the family. This is, clearly, my biggest mom failing. I will take that regret to the grave.

But I’m cooking now.

And feel pretty righteous about it. (If a bit late to the party.)

~~

Anyway. I made tomato sauce yesterday.

This is all part of the what the hell do we do with all these tomatoes?? phenomenon. The subject of many a facebook post seeking advice.

Last week, I roasted great gobs of cherry tomatoes and am quite pleased with the result (blogged already, don’t worry if you missed it). This week, it’s tomato sauce.

Went with Ann’s recipe!

Started with ten pounds of tomatoes. We are getting to the end of the early girls (the beef steaks completed their run a week ago, and it wasn’t much of a run). To get to the ten pounds called for in the recipe, I supplemented with a handful of cherries.

Cored and cut them (did not skin, but coulda) into large-ish pieces and placed them in the big, heavy calphalon pot. Added fresh rosemary and basil from the garden; added fresh thyme (which I could have picked from the garden, but for some reason asked Jim to get some at the Coop, and he did, so I used that); roughly chopped garlic; kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Mixed it well, covered it, and brought it to a simmer on low. This was supposed to take 20 minutes, but it took an hour and 15 minutes (prolly too thick a pot, and too low a temp).

Once it had a good simmer going, I removed the lid and let it rip (now on med-low to maintain the action), stirring fairly often (except when watching an episode of Offspring). This part of the sauce cooking went on for almost three hours. It still seemed a bit watery to me, but I wanted to go to bed, so called it done. Put it in the refrigerator for the night.

This is what it looked like this morning:

Pretty good, huh?

I decided to puree a portion of it, just to see how that would come out:

That too seems good, no?

Then I jarred everything (those are pint jars)….

… and found places for them all in the freezer (quite a feat). Between the six packets of roasted tomatoes and these six jars of tomato sauce, we’ll have taste-o-summer all winter!

Because I made it, it doesn’t taste like store-bought (to me). I can’t say I love it, but I love that I made it.

Coupla Top Dogs

September 23, 2021

Somebody had some pull (hint: it wasn’t me). I say this because on a very busy night in the US House of Representatives, when members were on the floor voting on some very high profile pieces of legislation, on their way to advancing key elements of President Biden’s legislative agenda, and maneuvering every which way on the huge infrastructure and reconciliation budget bills, the Speaker of the House herself, and our very own Congressman, were on a Zoom call with little ol’ us.. 100 of us Davis folks!

Hats off to the organizers (the VERBS, a small group of Davis friends, all of whom have pretty significant experience in the realms of politics and elections, oh.. and some great connections) who made all the arrangements for tonight’s fundraiser. I mean really! A Thursday evening online fundraiser for a race that is 13 months away.. with two very top dogs as guests on an otherwise very newsworthy night of legislative sausage making.

It’s not hard to get a congressman to show up for his own fundraiser (especially when it has been recently learned that he is one of four California congress members being targeted in 2022 by republican strategists who think, with newly drawn district lines, he may be vulnerable, and they’d love to take a seat from a very popular representative in a solid and safe blue district) because raising money is a huge part of the job. But tonight was tricky, and he had to excuse himself a couple of times to go vote.

Here he is standing outside the Capitol. When they needed him for a vote, he’d skidaddle off, but then he’d come back.

What surprised me, though, was that Nancy Pelosi was able to Zoom in. And she stayed on when John G. had to go vote so she could answer our questions. It’s not like she didn’t have a trillion things on her mind tonight as she’s been marshaling her members, or meeting with Biden, or strategizing next steps in a legislative session people are calling historic. I’d seen her on the news this afternoon, surrounded by reporters yelling questions at her about whether she could unite the seemingly intractable factions of congressional democrats. All day long, commentators have been in a tizzy about which wing might capitulate — the moderate dems or the progressive dems — or whether either would, rendering Biden’s entire agenda toast. She kept saying this is how the process works, stay calm, she was calm, they are where she wants them to be, all will be resolved by the Monday deadline. Everything rides on whatever solution she can guide her members toward, and everyone says she’s got this.

Does this look like a woman who is worried?

It’s not a great picture (a random screen shot), but I will say she was relaxed and told some funny stories about knowing John for 40 years and about a party they went to back when their kids were wee ones.

Well, it was fun to be a little part of their evening and hear about what’s currently on the docket, what’s at stake, their optimism for the outcome of votes in the days and weeks to come, the urgency to hang onto the House, etc.

Before the call, we’d already raised $35,000. The VERBS asked everyone to give a little more after the call. It will be interesting to see how much more we raised.

One Quarter Century Down..

September 21, 2021

That, above, was the logo on our wedding invitations 25 years ago. It’s a Maurice Sendak (maybe I didn’t need to say that) from the cutest little children’s book ever, “Open House for Butterflies.” We also put the logo on T-shirts we gave anyone who helped us throw our wedding party. I still smile at that.

Lucky me, being married to Jim. I can hardly imagine a person who could weather and sustain life with me so well. It is said that couples complement each other, that each seeks a person who balances them out. There are many, many ways in which Jim and I are different — which is to be expected and assumed — and as many ways in which we are a great, great match. But it’s the balancing act I appreciate the most, the ways in which he provides clarity to my muddle; focus to my scatter; principles to my inner devil; answers to my questions and solutions to my problems.

Super bonus for all the things we enjoy together — including each other’s company — and the many ways we’ve grown and become a well-oiled unit over the 25 years.

And an A+ for our best project ever, one Peter Keaton Frame. ‘Nuff said, right? Once we decided to have a kiddo, being great parents and creating a great family became our number one job. Sending Peter out into the world well-prepared and able to be a compassionate, thoughtful, contributing member of the global community is the highlight of my life. Jim’s too. I would not want to do that with anybody else, ever. As I said, lucky me. And lucky Peter, too.

It’s been a great way to spend 25 years of marriage.

Funnily enough, in our cards to one another, we both wrote (lengthily at that!) on similar themes. And that’s a good thing, too!

Here’s the stuff we gave each other to mark the day:

In keeping with tradition, we give each other gifts that reflect the material of the year…. this year silver (duh). Jim always makes his gifts … I do my best to find something that works. Jim found (bought) a quarter from 1956 that was 90% silver. Cool! He stamped it with a 2 and a 5 and bolted it onto that little bridge.

The bridge is an exact replica of the bridge we got married on in our backyard. He made it out of the wood used in making the original bridge, a bridge we had to tear down a couple of years ago when we extended the entire west edge of our house by twelve feet! It was very traumatic to see the bridge go down.. so much happened on that thing (which I wrote about). But Jim saved the wood. Two years ago he made a wooden box thing for our 23rd, and that was cool, but this year’s mini-bridge, using that old redwood, was inspired.

Here’s the original, on our wedding day:

I definitely have better wedding photos… but for some reason, I can’t find our wedding album at the moment. Did find, in the wedding box, a collage of tiny black and white photos shot by our friend Ruth .. so at least the bridge is shown. Also, looks like something out of the last century! (Which it was.)

My gift to Jim also went with the silver theme. It’s a crafty gift I found on Etsy, made by a fellow in merry olde England. Insofar as the family figures are silver (not solid) and sit on a box that says “25 years!,” I thought if fit the bill! (I customized the box’s inscription, but his whole art portfolio comprises anniversary gifts that celebrate family.)

And our cards. As I said above, we each wrote about the things we love about each other, our marriage, and how Peter’s our life’s joy.

So there!

~~

And we went to dinner. Because: anniversary. No real pictures of that, but here’s one that Jim snapped and sent to Peter. I like it. We ate at Ella, in Sac. Deciding what to eat is serious, brow-furrowing, lip-pursing business (it appears).

Finally: I found these, when looking around on the Interwebs for 25th anniversary ideas…. and they’re kinda interesting! They provide a bit of a glimpse of the era..

Forget Me Not

September 20, 2021

I went to the freezer the other day to fetch some chocolate — I love frozen chocolate chips — and found this…

… which gave me a start.

Took me a moment to figure out what that gross thing was, but I did: A beer that’d been forgotten, exploded and then froze.

Jim, Jim, Jim.

Here’s another look after we fished it out (being careful not to cuts selves on the glass):

I blame this on aging. I mean, having a beer is a nightly routine for Jim: Workout; futz around in garage until 6:00; come into kitchen and place a beer in the freezer; take shower; retrieve beer and take it to office; mess around on computer drinking beer til 7:00; come into kitchen to work on dinner (or eat, if I cooked). Somehow he skipped that beer retrieval step.

[Note: on this particular night, we were going to pub quiz at DeVere’s. Therefore, we were skipping dinner at home and the whole first part of the routine was time-shifted to accommodate a 5:45 departure. Jim gets a slight break on forgetting the beer under those circumstances. But only slight, right? He left the beer in the freezer! No breaks for that.]

Not Detected

September 19, 2021

We thought we’d turned the corner on Covid-19. But then along came the Delta variant this summer. Even though most of us are vaccinated, this variant is far more transmissible than the original and there has been a huge uptick in infections across the world, including in people who are vaccinated.

Been doing a lot of spit tests since the Delta variant sprung up this summer.

None has felt more significant than the one yesterday, only because I actually had a two-hour-plus encounter with a covid-positive person–who shall remain nameless–earlier this week.

Early on, we got tested across the street at the Senior Center. Mucho convenient. Then we started going to the Mondavi, until they closed that about a month ago. Now we’ll likely frequent the Vets Memorial Center, since it’s only about a 10 minute walk, but this weekend, we went to the ARC on campus.

The students are pouring into town at an impressive clip… by the thousands. Which means lines now at the campus testing site. It went fast. All students, staff and faculty will be required to test every two weeks (this after showing PROOF of vaccination or a medical exemption.. in which case you have to get tested every four days), so they are really set up for crowds!

This is inside the ARC but was actually shot last week before they’d fully staffed it for the return of the students. If I had to say, I’d guess that at full operation, they’ll have something like 50 stations. And they’re turning results around within a day, which is amazing. And of course it’s free and available for drop in. Fantastic service. Yay UCD.

I had been more anxious than usual to get my result.. and when it came this afternoon, it was the usual:

This is all such a weird time in our lives.. the virus that has affected and changed the whole world, the new routines and practices, the anxieties, the deaths and losses, THE STUPID CULTURE WARS that are hindering our return to safe and normal lives…. all of it.

But for today, happy for a clean bill of covid health.

Tomato Love

September 18, 2021

Well, hell, I’d better get a blog in before I forget how to do it. The longer I go, the behinder I get. Which is obvious. I see my last blog was August 19, so at least I haven’t let it go a month.

I will do better.

And when I do finally catch up — which I totally plan to do — these comments won’t make any sense.. but hey, that’s par for the blog course.

Anyway… with that…

I was moved to blog tonight because I have a ready topic: tomatoes. At the risk of being redundant to what I posted on Facebook this afternoon (redundant to? redundant with? See.. I’m rusty..), here is a photo of yesterday’s garden haul:

We are getting just tons and tons of tomatoes (in addition to chard, basil, zucs, cucs, eggplant, peppers and even melon). I hate to say how much of our harvest/s have gone bad and I feel terrible about every wrinkly zuc and moldy tomato that languishes in the produce drawer. That said, I’ve also managed to pick-clean-package-freeze a whole bunch of chard and basil, and we do a fairly decent job of keeping up with a lot of the the other stuff. But man, those tomatoes are now coming fast and furious.

This afternoon, after seeking and getting some helpful advice on what to do with tomatoes, I decided to roast and freeze the cherries. I’m deciding to forgo canning — at least right now — as freezing is a fine choice, especially if you have room in your freezer. It’s faster and easier, too. And may last longer. I’m no expert, but this seems like a pretty satisfying option to me.

Found a recipe:

Super easy. Starts like this…..

And after two hours, ends up like this….

Which then becomes these fantastic things that are flat, full of explosive flavor and are now in the freezer taking up hardly any space…

Will use with pastas, pizzas maybe, and who knows what during the winter. Should be heavenly.

~~

Contributing to my garden and tomato self esteem, I made a really great tomatoey dinner. I used a recipe I’d tried early in the pandemic, May of 2020, too early in the season for flavorful tomatoes (plus, we didn’t have a garden yet so had to use store-bought). It was sort of mediocre then, but seemed worth trying again with better ingredients. So this time, in the waning days of summer when the tomatoes are bursting with flavor, the recipe was a success.

It also used roasted tomatoes, these embellished with only olive oil, bread crumbs, parmesan, salt and pepper.

They’re only roasted for 20 minutes. Just before they’re done, you cook a quick batch of pasta (I used angel hair, though the recipe called for penne), add it to the roasted tomatoes, mix it up and serve it with parmesan at the table. That’s it. Rich flavor and easy peasy. I didn’t get a picture. Dessert was a wonderful honeydew melon From.The.Garden.

I mean really.

NO!

August 19, 2021

Honestly… such a waste of money, time, resources. A recall was always in the plans, even before Newsom did anything in office. It’s simply the only way republicans can worm their way into power: manipulate an election in an off year when nobody’s paying attention (certainly not dems who are relaxed for the first time in 4 1/2 years and enjoying summer), make sure reps votes in gargantuan numbers, and steal the big prize of a seat.. the governor’s. In a state where dems hold pretty much everything BECAUSE A SIGNIFICANT MAJORITY OF VOTERS ARE DEMS, the only way to get anywhere is to cheat. I mean reps could stand for something, they could try to come up with better ideas, they could try to serve the people of the state, they could EARN the vote of the majority.. but that’d be too.. I don’t know.. honorable? Decent? Governmenty?

Look at this ridiculous ballot. The voter guide was even more ridiculous because it actually included the campaign statements and biographical info on the 47 (was it?) candidates. Not an impressive bunch.

We have to wait until September 14th to see how all this comes out. In meantime, I’ll do my part to get out the dem vote. If dems turn out, Newsom will win.

Brick by Brick

August 18, 2021

Our brick got laid today. Jim, Peter and I are now sorta memorialized at the corner of 2nd and E, which is kinda cool!

Wendy Weitzel covered the story for the Davis Enterprise and says it better than I would.. so I’m borrowing her words (this is an excerpt of a longer piece):

Centennial Plaza casts light on Davis history

A beautiful city centerpiece. A historical record. An educational tool. The Davis Centennial Seal and surrounding plaza are all those things and more.

Installed May 25 in front of the Dresbach-Hunt-Boyer House at 604 Second St., it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 1917 incorporation of the city Davis. In the works since 2016, it includes a 6.5-foot circular bronze seal designed by Davis artist Susan Shelton, surrounded by landscaping and commemorative bricks.

Shelton, best known for ceramic wall murals and a bronze seal (designed with fellow Davis artist Donna Billick) on the West Steps of the state Capitol, called the Davis Centennial Seal “a crowning piece for me.”

The design encompasses scenes of “overlapping and intersecting themes” distinct to Davis’ human and natural history. It explores themes of aspiration, community, cooperation, leadership, innovation, engagement, global citizenship, stewardship, vision and optimism.

“I think because of what Davis has meant to me very personally in my life, and the love and devotion that I put into it; I think it makes it a very special piece for me,” Shelton said. “Delving into the history really gave me a greater appreciation and deeper understanding as to why this is such a special place to live.”

Though it’s on city property, the public art was a years-long culmination of work by area residents, using mostly private funds. Bill and Nancy Roe donated $60,000 and helped guide the project. They recruited 11 other donor groups who contributed $5,000 each: Jennifer Anderson and Doby Fleeman; Guneet and Bubly Bajwa; Manny and Debbie Carbahal; Camile Chan; Jim Gray and Robin Affrime; Carol and Gene Livingston; Foy and Barbara McNaughton; Roger and Claudia Salquist; Tandem Properties; Louise Walker of First Northern Bank; and Reed and Susan Youmans.

This is Susan’s bronze Centennial Seal getting lowered into place:

Photo (taken by Rachel Hartsough) courtesy of the Davis Enterprise.

It is a beautiful piece, so detailed, and worth checking out in person. And you can see our brick while you’re at it. This shot gives a little sense of the neighborhood.

Freeway Activism

August 17, 2021

Today’s activism took the form of bannering: Pelz bike overcrossing, I-80 morning commute, long banners (one about 7′ long, the other about 27′ long) visible in both directions each screaming NO to this ridiculous, bogus, sham of a recall election happening between now and September 14.

The strategy of the No on the Recall folks is to make sure democrats in the state know that there is a recall election happening (so many are NOT aware of this) and to ensure that democrats return their ballots (all voting is via mail ballots, how easy is that!). Should be a slam dunk, but it is not.

Many (most?) dems are in cruise mode right now. Biden won, the country’s in good hands… and it’s summer. People are tired of, and not paying attention to, politics. I mean, it’s been a whacky 5 years, right? Everyone needs a break from the crazy.

The republicans are taking advantage of this and mobilizing their voters like gangbusters. They are motivated. Dems, on the other hand, are blissfully engaging in life. Even if they are aware of the election, they know we are a solid blue state, Newsom won by a significant margin in 2018 (62% of voters supported him for governor), he’s doing a fine (enough) job… they can easily sit this one out.

At their/our peril!

So…. bannering.

(Maril, our recall organizer, took the picture.)

I literally get eleventy-hundred texts and emails a day from Gavin’s panicked peeps. Seriously, they are relentless.