Moving Right Along

September 16, 2020

With any luck, we will finish most of our landscaping: back (pictured in progress, here) and front (stripped, so far) before the rains come. But I can’t say we’re moving with speed…

Here’s a shot of the back in its current state:

Things left to happen: All the hardscape (patio on the north side.. right in this picture, out of view); raised concrete planting beds which will surround the patio; two arbors; 4 green screens; sitting area metal chairs and table (rear left, in this picture); patio furniture; empty the play structure of all those treasures; build new fence…. and, of course, planting. Lots and lots of planting.. including flowers, scrubs, a ginkgo tree, a fig tree, maybe another one or two fruit trees. Then some power washing and refinishing (already!) of the deck.

Hardly anything. Then the front.

“SAC” Trump

September 15, 2020

Did I mention the con man president made a visit to Sacramento yesterday (Monday) to meet with Governor Newsom and hear about the California fires? Way too little, way too late… these fires have been raging for a month. And I can assure you, his visit had nothing to do with his compassion for the people who’ve lost lives, or property, or livelihoods. Nothing to do with his concern for our forests or charred hillsides. Nothing to do with his understanding of the impacts of climate change. Frankly, I don’t know why he came, but I do know it was a calculated political move. He does nothing that does not benefit him in some way. Like nothing.

I imagine most of us in SisterDistrictIndivisibleYolo world had heard about the Monday presidential visit when it was announced on Saturday. By early Sunday morning, a couple of folks had decided we should do something about it.. some kind of protest? Some kind of online event? Some kind of political action? Emails flew. By mid morning, we decided it would be a big, giant — as giant as we could make it — phonebank; Rachel had prepared a detailed to-do list, and by midday, the Comms Team was done with its work — a name for the event, accompanying graphics, calendar notice, Facebook event notice, social media promotion, blurbs for e-newsletters. Good work Comms Team! For the next 24 hours, a team of folks got to work in countless other ways to plan for said big, giant phonebank. A trizillion details later, we carried off this event.

Which went off without a hitch and was an enormous success.

For the last six months or so, our phonebanks — we host five per week — were chugging away at about 6-8 attendees per. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Then, based on some compelling stats about the value of direct voter contacts, we shifted our attention and most of our Comms Team focus to promoting phonebanks. We have always known that direct voter contacts were effective, but with Covid and face-to-face canvassing out, phone calls became the next best thing.

By last week — due to the Comms Team efforts and a new intra-org texting platform that allowed our Text Team to bug our entire volunteer base with texts to their phones — we were starting to see 2o to 35 folks showing up for phonebanks. Which has been phenomenal.

But Trump’s self-serving visit really awakened the bear. Everyone, even phonebank-averse volunteers, loved the idea of showing their disdain by attending our SAC TRUMP phonebank and calling thousands of critical voters in swing states to make sure they vote for Joe Biden. Which we did in record numbers.

We set a goal of 2020 calls. We made over 2600!

So there! Do come again.

Person Man Woman Camera TV

September 14, 2020

Remember that? That was the five-word string Trump was required to repeat, from memory, when doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center felt it was necessary to administer the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, a test used for detecting cognitive impairment.

He was very boastful (of course) of his acing the test. Nobody’s ever done as well. The doctors, he said, were very impressed.

He’s such an embarrassment.

This is why I love this mug so much.. it arrived today!

Two Food Stories

September 13, 2020

First one:

Our beloved Sunday brunch. Jim’s become our pandemic Sunday brunch chef. Today, he went the egg route.

While lovely, none of that is blog worthy. But turns out it was a funny plate of scrambled eggs. He decided to clear the refrigerator of the week’s accumulated miscellany and put what he thought was some chopped basil into his scramble. Turns out, it was mint. So we ended up with … minty eggs. Edible. But maybe not repeatable.

Second one:

And then we sorta made a sad observation.

We, everyone, the whole blippin’ northern hemisphere have missed out on summer, what with this pandemic and its limits on where we could go and what we could do.

But I think maybe we salvaged a little something from that sadness by realizing that the pandemic also made way for a whole nuther level of cooking. We’ve developed this whole new practice around meal planning, shopping, cooking and consuming. We always ate pretty well — not taking anything away from Jim and his two decades of being top chef in the house! He’s a natural. But with every single meal of the day–day in and day out–happening now at home, we got a whole new thing going on. We’ll see if we sustain it as we return (if we ever do) to dining out for at least half of our meals (maybe even more).

Until then, we’re adapting quite comfortably to this rhythm. And we realized that we did, in fact, experience a pretty great summer … through our food. Food was it.. that was our summer. I’ve posted a ridiculous number of photos of our meals, I realize. But: pandemic. Not much else going on.

Nearing the end of summer bounty:

Mostly leftovers… that mayo chicken, miso rice w/ cabbage, arroz verde (all from different dinners), plus zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, pears…

Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign

September 12, 2020

I assembled twenty signs and distributed them around town for the local Community College Board of Trustees race.. Kelly’s campaign.

Here’s one in its natural habitat…

I was also promoted to phone bank trainer today. Not really… it’s not a position one gets promoted to. If you’ve done as much phone banking as I have, it’s more like an obligation. The truth is, as we enter the final two months of the election season, people are coming out of the woodwork to do something. Nobody wants to see a repeat of 2016, and nobody could live with themselves if we find ourselves on the losing end of a close race and they didn’t do all they could to get us over the finish line. Nobody’s taking this one for granted. So… where we used to have 6 or 8 people in a phone bank, now we have 25-30, and we’re doing five phone banks a week! And a huge number of these guys are new.. which takes a lot of hand holding.

Gad Zooks

September 11, 2020

Okay.. what that is, is a plate of really fabulous zucchini.

You brown, at a fairly high heat, a bunch of zucchini, cut in half, one side and then the next. While that operation is going on, you toast freshly ground pepper until it gives off a great smell, then add butter which will foam up and then subside, and when it does, you add a lot of grated parmesan. Before that mixture gets too clumpy, you spoon it over those browned zuccs and toss a bunch of mint (or basil, your choice) on top. Eat.

Wowzer. It was good.

Which we served with this….

… which looks a fright, but was pretty good. Boneless skinless thighs, marinated in grated ginger, lime zest, salt, pepper and…. mayo — yes, mayo — then grilled (which is where things got a bit dicey.. Jim needed to oil the grill, he thinks).

We both gave both dishes four stars. Chalk up another success for me.

We also had some end of summer nectarines. Nice dinner.

Dreaming of Containment

September 10, 2020

Haven’t been outside in forever (fires = unbreathable air) so no pictures to post of Davis’s late summer loveliness…

(That’s actually not true. I ventured out today to deliver a thank you bottle of wine to Steve the landscape guy. It was gross. Not Steve, not the errand.. but the air, the ash, the colorlessness. The ash.. omg. You walk out of the house these days and ash swirls in the turbulence you create just by moving. My car was covered in it. When I opened my car door, ash poofed up all over the place like if you dropped a big rock in a cold and spent campfire pit. I was wearing black leggings and I hesitated to sit on the front seat b/c it was covered in ash. My leggings ended up with little ash smears all over them. I made my delivery and got back inside.. after brushing and shaking myself off. And I should note, the fire that’s probably causing all this bad air is the Creek Fire, over two hundred miles away. There are fires that are closer, but they aren’t nearly as big and that huge LNU fire which burned 363,000 acres all over the Berryessa, Santa Rosa, Napa, Vacaville areas is now 95% contained. Which reminds me of a couple of statistics I heard today: 2.5 million acres of California has burned, which represents 2% of all California land.. although now I can’t remember if that’s this year or in the last few… and 95% of fires are caused by people who do stupid things and are therefore preventable, which makes me sick.)

(That was quite an aside.)

So, I don’t have any outside photos.

I’m spending great gobs of time indoors, like everyone in California right now, so I took a picture of my view just a moment ago so I could post something.. it’s a nice view.

I’m lying on the window seat, which is incredibly comfortable, looking toward the kitchen. Enjoying the remodel so so much during this pandemic/fire shut in time.

I’m reminded of when Peter was an infant, Jim and I had all these “stations” for Peter to hang out in… we’d mix it up to keep him from getting bored (or something.. not sure why we moved him around so much). And we had names for all of these stations… the dome of pleasure (one of these fabric self contained entertainment units with the overhead dangly things), the barcolounger (it was nothing of the sort, but was some kind of baby bed that we set up adjacent to our own that he never slept in at night because he slept with us forever, it seemed), the vibrolounger (one of those vibrator chairs), the swing (can’t remember its name, but it was one of those things you wound up and they would swing and swing), and so on.

(That was also quite an aside.)

Anyway, I think of that now because that’s me these days. I go from window seat, to desk, to leather chair, to other desk, to other leather chair, back to window seat. I might throw in a stint on the futon in Peter’s room, and yesterday I even sat on the couch for a while. I find it hard to get comfortable after a while.. too much sitting. I have a route in the house that measures out to about a quarter mile; it’s repetitious, but saves me when I’m going stir crazy and can’t get outside.

They say the Creek Fire will be contained by late October.

Is There Even a Floor?

September 9, 2020

We’ve hit bottom. Again. And with two months left before what’s sure to be a disaster of an election, I’m sure we haven’t found the floor.

I was already depressed today. In six months of daily pandemic horror, today was the worst (the new worst). The pandemic, its impacts on our lives, the no-end-in-sight-ness is numbing and sad. And lately, it has became all the more unbearable because of the heat, the fires, the smoke and that disgusting ash all over everything. That hideous air outside our windows is undoubtedly seeping into our homes and settling into our lungs. It is so ugly. So destructive. I ache for California, the charring of our beautiful hills and forests, the lost wildlife. The lost green.

I was feeling pretty marginal this morning. All I wanted to do was get in my car and drive the hell out of here, somewhere far away from this smoke. If possible, this country.

Instead, I made myself stick to all my routines; I just did my workout and tried to work through my to-do list, imposing order where none was needed, just to feel in control of something.

And I listened to the news. Blockbuster day with blockbuster revelations. The stupid president, on tape, maybe trying to impress Bob Woodward, revealed he knew in early February stuff about this virus he refused to acknowledge publicly and refused to impart to the people in this country. Namely the virus is deadly, it’s highly transferable via breath, it infects children, and is worse than the flu by orders of magnitude. He knew all that, but promoted otherwise, because that kind of news would justify shutting everything down which would mess with the economy and he needed a thriving economy for his reelection. In all his transactional glory, he was trying to fake his way to a different reality.

Blah blah blah. We knew all that. We knew he intentionally politicized it. We knew he knew the risks but didn’t care. We knew that his recklessness of denying it was real, denying masks, denying any preventative effort whatsoever, was purely, intentionally political. We knew the con was part of his perverse calculation to “save the economy” and his reelection. We knew his reelection interests were putting ALL of us at risk. AND STILL ARE. We are in this never-ending mess because of him, him alone, and the power he’s abused as president. We KNEW THAT!!!! 

And now we have proof. 

But the gut-punch is that none of this will matter. I heard Kayleigh McEneny today calling it leadership.. it being his way of keeping everyone calm, not creating panic. The rest of us call it lying and unconscionable. Like, who believes he doesn’t live for chaos?! But, as usual, they’re scrambling.

Anyway.. adding to all the ongoing depression fodder is the realization that nothing he does, has done, or ever will do matters. Even if he kills 190,000 people. And counting. It just won’t matter. His people will follow him right off the cliff. They will not hear anything but what he tells them, what they want to hear. They are so unbudgeable that we’ll divide in the same percentages that we have all along. And because of all the cheating they’ve done thus far, and everything he’ll do to destabilize the election and its result, it’s hard to imagine an outcome different than 2016.

So, that’s all pretty sickening.

The Coronavirus response part of the Woodward tapes today was mind blowing enough. There were other shocking revelations, as well. First off, trump agreed to be interviewed 18 times, and recorded, for Woodward’s book. That surprises me. There may be more to come out, which is intriguing, but again, it won’t matter. I personally found trump’s comments about white privilege to be stomach turning: he literally laughed at Woodward and accused him of drinking the Kool-aide when Woodward spoke of his own privilege and his own efforts to understand the pain of black Americans. And I found these quotes to be kind of shocking, yet perversely satisfying (but holy shit, who wants to know these things about one’s president (not my president)).

All in all, just depressing news on top of depressing news on top of depressing news.

That Creek Fire

September 8, 2020

As of a few minutes ago, this is the report on the Creek Fire:

Officials are calling the fire an “unprecedented disaster” as flames spiral in all directions of the Sierra National Forest. The blaze has scorched nearly 144,000 acres and remains at 0% containment, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire.

It’s located east of northeast of Fresno, southwest of Yosemite/Mammoth:

And, I actually have quite a number of photos that I took of this area just one year ago.

An Aside: I’d dropped Peter off in Yosemite on September 17th to hike as many days as he could squeeze in on the John Muir Trail before having to return to UCSD for the start of his senior year. We’d just flown in from a week in Utah — Bryce, Zion — celebrating Teri’s 70th birthday, late on the night of the 15th. And, I kid you not, Peter was hell bent on hiking at least some of the JMT, so on the morning of the 16th, we got up and drove to Lee Vining–stopping at REI on the way to rent a tent and bear box, and at a store in Copperopolis to load up on food. And just for a little extra drama, the winds were so high and the fire danger so great, PG&E had shut off power all over that part of California as a safety measure, so zero electricity in Lee Vining, which meant Peter was packing his bear box and practicing tent set up in the dark (we had head lamps and the hotel front desk had provided candles).

At the crack of dawn on the 17th, we lined up with other hopeful hikers for one of the limited same-day permits the Park Service issues for the JMT (most will have reserved a slot on this iconic Sierra trail a year in advance… and prepared for this once in a lifetime adventure accordingly!). He got one (which.. don’t ask what he’d have done had he not gotten one).

So.. yeah.. he was definitely pushing the calendar, and pushing his luck, but had really wanted to fit in at least some time on the JMT, and it worked out. Here he is (with a shoe lace from my shoe in place of a missing bootlace):

Excited … and quite nervous … was he.

At the end of his third day of hiking, we got the text via his InReach Garmin that he was ready to come out. He let us know there was a resupply point at Vermillion Valley Resort (resort is an interesting word to describe this place), and that he’d meet me there at the end of day four (approx 80 miles from where he’d started four days earlier).

So, I made the 5-hr or so drive down there, he hiked another 20+ miles and we both converged on VVR at about the same time (he actually got there an hour before I did, checked in and was showered. We had a great dinner then played some gin rummy.

Here’s a picture of us in our rented trailer (that’s one of the options at VVR):

Anyway…. this is all a great story, very worth telling.. and I will! But this is a blog post about the Creek Fire. So.. back to that.

When I looked at a map of the fire boundary this morning, I realized the fire was destroying that gorgeous swath of the Sierra I’d passed through last year to pick Peter up .. so went back to look at some of my photos:

This is somewhere just south of Shaver Lake, I believe. I actually pulled over for this shot and got out of the car. Kind of reminded me of the Smoky Mountains with their layers and layers of ridges.

This is along the way.. perhaps passed Huntington Lake and making my way up to Edison Lake and the Vermillion Valley Resort (where Peter will meet me).

These are a few shots from what was one of the most spectacular roads I’d ever driven.. narrow, and in parts cut straight through granite ..

And eventually–it was a long and windy road–you pass Mono Hot Springs, wend a bit further, and finally come to Edison Lake.

I just read that there were about 50 JMT thru-hikers huddled at VVR waiting to be rescued today. While they expected to airlift them, it turned out most were able to be guided out in a car caravan — perhaps because the fire had already passed through this area. Not exactly sure. The pictures of fire damage are horrific.

I know fire is a vital part of a healthy forest. Jim told me tonight that something like 80% of the forest that burned had been infected by bark beetles and was just a giant tinderbox. So maybe there’s a silver lining in there somewhere. Still… the devastation from these fires is breathtaking and heartbreaking. California has watched a lot of forest burn in the last few years. And we haven’t even started this year’s official fire season.

Hell Hole

September 7, 2020

I try not to dwell in my blog on So.. Much.. Negative.. there is so much right now. But I fear that if somebody dropped down from space and read my blog (just go with me here), they might think that life is all hunky dory, and that all I do is cook and muse happily about Peter.

Those things are true. All things considered, Jim and I have it relatively easy. Life isn’t all that hunky dory, but we’re not struggling. This has to do with stage of life, no kiddos at home, no work to report to, little in the way of health stresses and money worries. And, indeed, Peter’s in a rarified space in his young life, and seizing the moment.. so, yeah, pretty happy about that. (Deeply happy.)

But lest we forget the hell hole we’re [all] in.. here’s a pic of my phone from yesterday:


I mean, really:

  • Almost three weeks of fires and smoky, unhealthy, brown air. Been inside for most of that time.
  • Temperatures breaking all kinds of records.. here in Davis, under 108 or so, but in Woodland Hills it was 121 today (I texted Kath). That’s insane.
  • Winds coming up tomorrow that will either clear out some smoky air or fan the flames, or both. I’m extremely anxious about that.
  • Pandemic day #179. Nothing more need be said, except it seems like it’ll never end as long as Trump’s in office. And speaking of which…
  • Election stress of the highest order. He must be voted out.

So.. yeah. 

For the record, though I’ll talk about it more later, Ruben’s back and landscaping has begun again. Jim and I looked at walls around town over the weekend and it now seems like it’s actually possible we will have a front and back yard again.