Dillon Redux

October 4, 2021

Jim and I used to visit Dillon Beach annually. Long ago, he found this great little house on Summer Street and, from the moment we saw it, we knew we wanted to return. I know why we didn’t make it in 2020, but have no idea what the circumstances were in 2108 and 2019 that precluded our going. Still…. we knew we’d get back there, and this was the year. A return trip cannot come soon enough.

(Says me, anyway.) (Jim’s game, and enjoys it, but it’s not his idea of a perfect getaway.) (This begs many questions, none of which I’ll take up now.) (That said, we had a wonderful time … on many levels!)

Where was I?

In all of our trips to Dillon Beach, I have taken hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds!) of photos. The drive between Hwy 37 and the Pacific Ocean is breathtaking… from rural roads, to historic Petaluma, to more rural and pastoral roads, through charming Tomales, to Dillon. The rolling hills of grazing cattle, herds of sheep, classic barns, eucalyptus-lined meandering roads…. all incredibly charming. The beaches, dunes, cliffs and rugged shoreline of the insanely gorgeous Northern California coast… always stunning, no matter the weather. I love it all and can’t help myself… I take pictures.. because I just can’t not. Even though I don’t even bother to bring a real camera anymore, one that would allow zooms and closeups and crisp resolution. I’m no trained photographer, but a good camera helps even somebody like me capture some incredible scenes.

These days, though, it’s just me and my iPhone. Pretty good, but way limited. As I looked back to figure out when last we stayed in our sweet little hunk of over the top luxury, I found some truly exquisite photos. I should post THOSE! But it wouldn’t be right.

Anyway. Here are a few scenes from day one:

Shot through the window of a moving vehicle… the view along Lakeville Rd:

When you travel this road in October, you miss the verdant green of Winter and Spring. Still…. I just love it.

Tradition includes lunch in Petaluma (after which we’ll provision for four days of meals — some cooking, but lots of snacks — at Whole Foods). Being Monday and still in the pandemic zone, a lot of places we’ve eaten at previously were closed, so we tried a new place called Pearl, located outside of the downtown area (but close) in a bit of a gentrified industrial area, 1st and G, a block up from the river.

I didn’t take any photos, except for the menu… creative middle eastern food:

I had the swordfish, Jim the bocadillo, and we had the middle two desserts. All exceptional.

Oh, wait, I do have a picture of the desserts:

Continuing the drive, just as we were pulling into the wee village of Tomales, we saw this leaning silo. One of the shots is from arrive day, one is from depart day:

Here’s just an establishment shot of Dillon Beach… mostly because I don’t think I’ve ever included it in my Dillon photo essays…

Tom, the previous owner, for a variety of reasons, decided to sell his beloved Summer Street cabin. While the new owners obviously love the place and are maintaining Tom’s high standards, they’ve also changed a number of things… starting with the color. It’s now a white house, which was a bit of a jolt.. but it’s nice enough:

Here’s me in front (taken, actually, on depart day…):

We hadn’t even fully unpacked before Jim was in his favorite chair…(he’ll spend a lot of time in this chair over the next four days, usually with a fire going in that stove…).

The view hasn’t changed….

… thought that fish — constructed with the metal rings of wine barrels — is new (photo taken on the last day when the sun actually came out in full).

But here are a few things that are new (to us):

This whole fireplace and outdoor seating area…

And here’s Mr. Orange Hat seated in that very fun (and new to us) hanging basket (I spent some good time in it reading one afternoon… heavenly)…

They’ve done a lot with the interior… lots of white, a brand new very fancy bathroom with heated marble floors and a soaking tub, new furniture, etc. I didn’t take a lot of interior pictures, but here’s one of the couch — site of all of our tv watching (Nine Perfect Strangers and Catastrophe were our selections this trip)…

The truth is, there are so many areas of this home to enjoy. Numerous cozy places to sit inside, and numerous places to hang out outside, as well. Between all the inside and outside spaces, you could easily accommodate 8-10 people, all of whom could claim their own personal spots! There are never enough days to get your fill. Here are a couple more shots of the backyard. They limit the number of guests to two these days (in spite of having two full sleeping areas).

The Peninsula

October 3, 2021

I found myself spending so much time studying this picture this evening (and not packing for our trip to Dillon Beach tomorrow), that I thought I’d just post it here. When I’m less busy, I’ll compile some other incredible photos that I’ve collected from an historical Palos Verdes Facebook site I follow and post those, as well.

Endlessly fascinating.

This one looks pretty current.

It’s the Small Things

October 2, 2021

I have to say, life has taken a whole new shape since.. well, since 1) retirement (it’s been a very long time, but it’s hitting its stride); 2) empty nest (as they call it, so I will too); 3) remodel and the creation of new spaces (notably: pantry/laundry/project/storage room and garden); and 4) pandemic (and all the time we have all spent at home reinventing ourselves over the last year and a half).

Never before, in my life-before-my-current-life, would I have started the day in the garden. But this Saturday morning, in the early morning fall light — pleasantly warm, remarkably quiet and so very fresh — I was out in my shorts and flips watering patches of newly planted winter veggies… like carrots, collards, arugula, broccoli and onions. I also spent some time harvesting the near-last of the summer tomatoes, a huge pile of chard (the gift that keeps on giving), and pulled up the six phenomenally prolific basil plants (thank you basil plants for a great summer season of basilly things).

It was just heavenly. I felt one with my garden. Like I totally owned it (in a comfort way, not an abusive and controlling way!) (Smile, please.)

I washed the chard and tomatoes. Later I de-stemmed and cut the chard, placed it in ziplocks, labeled the bags and added them to our very full freezer. So much food to figure out how to use in the winter!

All part of being a suburban farmer, mate.

I also baked. Now, baking is something I’ve always done, but it’s different these days. One, I’m doing a whole lot more of it. I think that’s because it’s so pleasurable these days (as is cooking). The kitchen is enormously functional and spacious. I have just about everything — utensil and gadget-wise — I could need and it’s so organized (to my liking, anyway) (good, since I organized it!). But, the addition of a whole new room adjacent to the kitchen means — in addition to a pantry with a huge area just for baking stuff — easy storage and access to appliances. And having all that storage and panty space in a whole nuther room freed up the kitchen and created spaces that are so much more functional and fun to work in.

And two, I have garden treasures I have to make use of… so, for example, lots of zucchini meant lots of zucchini bread to bake this year.

During the pandemic, I finally started on “the great recipe project” after YEARS of being overwhelmed by the number of recipes I’d collected (in baskets, files, folders and random binders). I had no real way to organize them before, but more importantly to readily access them. The recipe project’s been a game changer. I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about that (scintillating subject matter, for sure). But let me just say, it’s a project well underway and already paying huge dividends.

For example (as relates to today and my goal to use the last of the zucchini to make some zucchini bread), I went to the baking binder and got my tested (and Jim/Kari-approved) recipe for zucchini bread (I’ve tried two this summer, both multiple times; and today picked the more highly rated one). I clipped the recipe to this recipe holding device I created a couple months ago (which was better than taping to the microwave), retrieved all the needed ingredients (which I had on hand because: space), chose a Spotify channel to bluetooth onto our new kitchen radio (do we still call them radios?) and cranked it up, donned my apron, and was off to the races. This is now a common thing (me, apron, music, kitchen project). It was a rare thing before.

I didn’t even know how burdensome cooking and baking were, until they weren’t. Seriously, having a dedicated appliance cabinet with four huge pull out drawers that hold appliances of all sorts.. well.. it took a lot of the drudge out of even the prospect of baking something. Having things accessible removes a major barrier. Right? That’s not weird, is it? I can’t be the only one who contemplates a project, but doesn’t do it because the set up is too hard. Or because you have to move too many things to get to that Kitchen Aid, or that food processor…

God, lest you read this and think what the hell, what on earth is noteworthy about ANY of this?! I’ll just beat you to the punch and say: nothing. But it’s a grand departure from the way I used to roll. The thing is, I always said (whined, more like), “I wanna cook more,” “If I had my recipes organized, I would cook more,” “It’d be so cool to be able to walk into the garden and grab some basil or rosemary, or real vegetables to eat” …. and it just didn’t happen. But now.. time, age, circumstances, a remodel and a pandemic turned that fuzzy, seemingly faraway desire into reality.

Anyway.. blah blah. I can’t believe this is a blog post. On the other hand, today felt satisfying and notable for its master of one’s domain vibe. And it made me wonder how I got here. Mostly, it made me appreciate the teeny, tiny achievements in life that can sometimes add up to change, evolution and a whole lotta pleasure.

How’s about a few pics:

The early morning garden with newly planted winter stuff:

The chard and tomatoes I picked:

Jim ate a couple of the tomatoes and said they were exceptionally juicy and flavorful!

And the zucchini bread!

Reality Check

October 1, 2021

Sometimes, it’s good to keep things in perspective. While the media sh*ts itself over the drama of the democrats’ efforts to pass legislation (never mind, this is exactly how the legislative sausage making process works, when government is actually engaged in trying to make better the lives of people who elected them to office to do just that), let’s not forget what life was like under the most incompetent, corrupt, amoral administration in our history.

Heather, as always, summarizes it well (Dr. Richardson, historian from Boston University):

October 1, 2021 Heather Cox Richardson

[…] For those of you who do want some reflections, I am struck today by the media’s breathless recounting of how the ongoing negotiations over the two infrastructure bills shows that the Democrats are in disarray and President Joe Biden’s agenda is crashing and burning. The New York Times called a delay in the vote on the measures “a humiliating blow to Mr. Biden and Democrats” and wondered if “Biden’s economic agenda could be revived.”

Exactly a year ago, the news reported that Trump adviser Hope Hicks had coronavirus and that she had recently traveled with White House personnel on Air Force One. The stock market dropped 400 points on the news.

The previous day had been the infamous presidential debate when Trump yelled and snarled at Biden, while his entourage, including Hicks, refused to wear masks despite a mandate that they must do so. We did not know who else might be infected. Hours later, we learned that the president and First Lady were both sick, and within hours the president would be hospitalized.

The rest of the news provided a snapshot of the Trump presidency:

•A study of more than 38 million English-language articles about the pandemic between January 1 and May 26 showed that Trump was “likely the largest driver of…Covid-19 misinformation.”

•Trump’s former national security adviser, retired Lt. General H.R. McMaster, told MSNBC that Trump was “aiding and abetting Putin’s efforts” to disrupt the November election.•We learned that Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, had not disclosed that in 2006, she signed an anti-abortion ad in the South Bend Tribune. It appeared near another ad from the same organization that called for putting “an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade and restore laws that protect the lives of unborn children.”

•A tape leaked of Melania Trump complaining about having to decorate the White House for Christmas—“I’m working… my a** off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a f*** about the Christmas stuff and decorations?”—and then said of criticism that she was not involved with the children separated from their parents at the southern border: “Give me a f****** break.”

•News broke that Donald Trump, Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, had left the Fox News Channel after an employee complained of sexual harassment, saying she required the employee to work at her apartment, where she would sometimes be naked, and where she would share inappropriate photos of men and discuss her sexual activities with them. She denied any misconduct, but FNC settled the case against her for $4 million.

•The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief measure. No Republicans voted for it.

•Right-wing conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were charged with four felonies in Michigan for intimidating voters, conspiring to violate election laws, and using a computer to commit a crime.

•Claiming he wanted to prevent “voter fraud,” Republican governor Greg Abbott of Texas limited the number of locations for dropping off mail-in ballots to one site per county. While Republican counties tended to have just one location already, Democratic Harris County, the third largest county in the country, with a population of more than 4.7 million and an area larger than the state of Rhode Island, had previously used 12. Democratic Travis County, which includes Austin, previously had four.That was one single day in the Trump presidency.

In contrast, today, the Democrats are trying to pass an extremely complicated package, consisting of two major infrastructure bills, backed by different constituencies, that will alter the direction of our country by investing in ordinary Americans and revising the tax code to claw back some of the 2017 tax cuts the Republican Congress gave to corporations and the very wealthy. Although there is no guarantee they will pass, the bills are currently still on track, and all the relevant parties are still at work discussing them, exactly as one would expect.

What is the unusual piece in this process is that the other major American political party—the Republicans—is refusing to participate in the crafting of a major bill that is extremely popular.This infrastructure package is huge, but it is hardly the only item in Biden’s agenda. In March 2021, the Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic rescue package that has helped the administration produce more jobs in its first six months than any other administration in American history.Not a single Republican voted for that bill; it passed while they were focusing on the ungendered Potato Head kin and the decision of the Dr. Seuss estate to stop the publication of some of Theodor Geisel’s less popular books.

The economy has recovered in large part because of the Biden administration’s enormous success at distributing the coronavirus vaccines to every American who wanted one. Republican lawmakers have worked against this process, and today we crossed the unthinkable line of 700,000 officially counted deaths from Covid-19.Now, the administration has begun to put vaccine mandates into effect, and they are working. Those who insisted they would never get vaccines changed their minds when employers and public venues required them.

Today, California governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state will require coronavirus vaccines for school children, along with the ten others it already requires, as soon as the Food and Drug Administration fully approves them for use in children.

Meanwhile, Republican-dominated state legislatures are following through on the voter suppression noted a year ago, passing measures to cut down Democratic voting and install Republican operatives in key election posts before the 2022 election.

As political scientist and foreign relations expert David Rothkopf tweeted: “Are the Dems the ones in disarray when they are crafting specific programs while the GOP offers up only cynical Tweets & obstruction? The only GOP agenda items are voter suppression, defending the worst president in history & when they have power, pushing tax cuts for the rich.”

For my part, I’m not sure what is driving the stories that seem to paint Biden’s work as a lost cause: The recent position that Democrats are hapless? That it’s safer to be negative than positive? That our news cycle demands drama?Whatever it is, I continue to maintain that the issue right now is not Democrats’ negotiations over the infrastructure bills—regardless of how they turn out—but that Republican lawmakers are actively working to undermine our democracy.

Basil Weary

September 30, 2021

I thought it was a nice day to harvest the remaining basil. I knew there’d be a lot, but I wasn’t prepared for a project that would last 6 1/2 hours!

It really just took about 10 minutes to cut most of it down. Some branches were so thick I needed pruning sheers .. but I didn’t want to go all the way into the garage to get them, so settled for whatever I could cut with kitchen sheers and left the rest. Unknown fact (unknown to me, that is, until this year): basil just grows back and back and back… and every time you harvest a good, long stem of it, it grows back a bit thicker. We had a TON of basil this year.

Note to self: next year, plant just one or two plants.

Here’s how much I harvested, on this, the last go-round for 2021!

Then plopped it into the sink to wash and de-stem:

A FULL two hours later, I had this many basil leaves:

I dried them and put them in a giant pile. Here is a wine bottle for scale…

I decided to make some more pesto… so gathered the ingredients and got to work. I quadrupled my usual recipe (8 cups of fresh basil, 8 cloves of garlic, 8 T of pinenuts, 2 cups of parmesan and 2 cups of olive oil).

Part one: finely mince basil, garlic and pine nuts.

Then added oil, and finally cheese. It smells like Italiian heaven.

(As you can see, I still have a giant mound of basil leaves left!!!)

I made 8 dinner’s worth of pesto or so… (I gave one jar to neighbor Mary when she dropped by in the middle of packing.)

Finally, I packed the raw leaves up into baggies for later use… and all of it went into the freezer (miraculously).

It’s worth noting, we enjoyed fresh basil all summer. The freezer already has a ton of surplus basil — in the form of both pesto and raw leaves.

Did I mention we’re only going to get one or two basil plants next year?

Oh.. To Be Five

September 29, 2021

Saw this picture today and it just brought up all manner of emotions. Way nostalgic for this very uncomplicated time.

Remember kindergarten and nap time? Isn’t this just the best? It isn’t, but that could be my kindergarten class (though that is NOT Mrs. Culp). I so remember the mat, the story time, the snack that preceded the nap… probably graham crackers and milk (the milk delivery, in the milk wagon, was managed by a couple of upper classmen — like… maybe 3rd or 4th graders?)…..

Oh man. Just wanna sack out on a mat and be read to. I wonder what she’s spinning on that record player?

A couple of me at approximately that vintage..

Every Day is Son’s Day

September 28, 2021

But, per Facebook anyway, today is National Son’s Day.

I’ll bite!!

Here is our pride ‘n joy..

I will never tell another person how to parent their child (I’ll pass my judgment .. but keep it to myself). And — and I mean this — I allow as how each kid is unique. A parent is the one who knows best that uniqueness and that kid’s needs, so it’s best if we outsiders just back off and let parents parent.

That said, here is what I learned while being a mom: love that kid to death. Love him. Support him. Make sure he knows you love and treasure him. Follow him. Let him plot the course and support that. Love him, whatever that course is. Respect him as a human being. Listen to what he says. Answer his questions. Be straight. That’s part of love.

Kids are meant to be loved. Wouldn’t we all be better if we grew up certain that we were loved and valued? Appreciated for exactly who we are?

We can all do this. Costs nada. Love them with everything we’ve got. They need it and deserve it. We brought them here (for which I’m sure they’ll be grateful one day), so our job is to parent them with love, attention and intention.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not a perfect mom. I’m sure I dropped the ball from time to time. But, for me, it’s been a ride of joy (didn’t want to call it a joy ride, because that sounds reckless!) from the get go.

I’ll never stop gushing. Parenting has been the highlight of my life.

Pure joy, pure love.

Tomatoes Every Whichway

September 27, 2021

So far this season, I’ve figured out roasting and sause-ing (thanks to friends who roast and sauce). Next stop on the tomato tour for this rookie tomato grower was dehydrating!

For this adventure, I took the advice of life long family friend, Lauren, who is truly the master of so, so many trades. She said, “get a dehydrator!,” so, of course, I did.

Here was the latest (and near last) batch of Early Girls, washed, cored and sliced…

…. into 3/4″ thick slices:

So red, juicy and flavorful!! Almost hated the idea of sucking all that goodness out. But.. proceeded gamely…

Next step was to place them on layered trays (I had enough for three full traysworth):

This thing is quite noisy, so I banished it to the laundry-pantry room (we still don’t have a name for this multipurpose heaven of a new space)…..

….where it motored (loudly) for about 11 hours.

I finally had to go to bed, so decided they were done and took them out and put them on a paper towel:

I just took a better pic of them:

These came out cruchy, well overdone, but FANTASTIC if you like tomato chips!

And the others were actually underdone, remaining a bit soft, so I decided those would be good stored in a jar with some olive oil and garlic…

Undoubtedly, there is a trick to this dehydrating business, but I’m sure I’ll get it down. I am totally ready for Tomato Season 2022! I am certain next year we will throw out not a SINGLE tomato.

Smile Worthy

September 26, 2021

A few things that made me smile today:

And finally this… which is a photo someone took and posted to one of my favorite FB groups: Crap Wildlife Photography (where folks celebrate the worst of our efforts in photographing wildlife).

I actually think it’s a wonderful photo!

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.)