It’s my birthday! 12/8/21

Today is my birthday and usually we are sharing a celebration with Karen and George. This year, though, nothing is normal and George and I will not be together for “the birthdays.” It is sad. But John and Sarah are treating me with all sorts of great things to eat so I am feeling well-feted by the end of the day.

Documenting the passage of time – Mary, 72
Sarah made me her fabulous Swedish tea ring which is reminiscent of the Dugan’s coffee cake I used to eat as a kid
For hors d’oeuvres John got some sushi
He followed the sushi up with a dinner of Chilean sea bass, rice, and broccoli
 

Even though my birthday was bereft of my birthday buddy, I had a nice day with a phone call from my sisters and my sweet family around me.

Thanksgiving, 2020. 11/26/20

Thanksgiving this year of the pandemic was a quiet affair with just John, Sarah, and me. Since we were just three people having a big turkey seemed like too much so we decided to have duck breasts instead. Certainly the Pilgrims had eaten duck! Our lonely dinner was still fun and the food was delicious!

Thanksgiving decorations – Our twisted paper Maccabee getting ready to finish off the turkey
Roasted creamed onions are always a must!
John did a great job cooking the duck
So many Brussels sprouts!
Our table looks pretty festive
My plate contains a duck breast mashed butternut squash, creamed onions, a mashed potato casserole, Brussels sprouts, and Sarah’s homemade dinner rolls
Yay! for Indian pudding!

 

Trip to St. George, UT 11/8/20

Braving the pandemic, John, Jonathan, and I took a trip to St. George and stayed at the villas at Entrada. We stayed here in August when we were escaping the smoke and felt confident that we could enjoy ourselves here without taking undue risks.  The captioned pictures narrate our visit.

View out of our “villa” towards Snow Canyon
Jonathan loves being in St. George
Going to the grocery store and cooking are a couple of our fun events. Here we make a fancy dinner of scallops.

We have managed to pick a very cold week to be in St. George which limits the amount of tennis playing we are doing. But we can go hiking and we have a great time exploring Gold Butte National Monument.

Entering Gold Butte National Monument
John and Jon on a hiking trail at Gold Butte
Mary hiking in Gold Butte
Jon at Whitney Pocket
John peeking out a window
Devil’s Throat is kind of a sink hole and really not much of an interesting sight
This is a new fence that they have put up since we were here last. I guess the land has become more unstable.
One of the sections we had not been able to find in our last trip to Gold Butte was Little Finland, so named due to rock fins. Luckily Jonathan found it for us by climbing up a steep trail which we had not noticed. I could not see all of it because I was afraid of falling but Jon saw the whole thing which he said was quite amazing. This is a picture of John on the way up.
A dragon formation in Little Finland
Going to Harmon’s almost everyday is a special Mom and Jon activity. Here are some meals we made while we were in St. George
Kenwood shrimp – in a Pernod cream sauce
Lamb chops, roasted potatoes, and Brussels sprouts

.

We did get to play some tennis too as it warmed up as the week progressed. Here is a shot of John.
Jonathan
Finally we had to take a look at our old house. We peeked in the windows this time since there seemed to be no one home. It looks exactly the same like the new people have done nothing in almost two years to personalize it. Here is a picture of Jon near the Indian sculpture by our old house.

We had such a good time! Hopefully we will make another trip with Jon in February or March. Maybe we will be vaccinated by then!!

Goal!!!!! 11/2/20

John and I have been on our healthy eating plan since the middle of September, 2019. John reached his goal around two weeks ago after losing 50+ pounds and today I reached mine!  I am down 60 pounds and very proud of myself. Now the real goal is not to gain it back. I am very good at losing weight and I am super at gaining weight, maintaining weight has always been my biggest challenge.

Because I am feeling pretty good about myself, I took a bunch of selfies in the mirror.

Halloween celebration. 10/24/20

Today we travel over to Palo Alto to see Alex and Sam (and also Jon, Ryan, and Leigh.) We have come bearing sweet treats for Halloween.  Jonathan has made a brunch and we all enjoy sitting around distanced outside while we catch up.

Alex opening her goodie bag
Sam watching Leigh with her phone
Mary and John on the porch swing
Left to right, Jonathan, Sam, Alex, and Ryan in family Halloween costumes

Wine tasting at Imagery. 10/19/20

Today we visit Imagery Winery to pick up our shipment and I have also scheduled a wine tasting. We sit on their back patio with the tables set far apart. Our server is masked as are we except when sipping.  We have our own pens and disposable water. They have taken great pains to make sure we are safe.

John outside of Imagery Winery
Menu of wines tasted

It is a beautiful day and we enjoy our tasting. We buy some bottles and pick up our Wine Club shipment. It is almost like being normal.

John at tasting table
Yay for a day that seems almost normal

 

Sukkot. 10/5/20

Today we celebrate the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. Traditionally it is celebrated outdoors in a rough enclosure called a succah much as ancient gatherers would have lived in the fields during the harvest. So we are eating on the patio tonight and have a vase full of “the four species” which are leaves from various plants and a citrus fruit. These are bundled together and waved to the four compass points plus up and down.

“Leviticus 23:40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.” Wikipedia 

I prepare stuffed cabbage which is also somehow traditional and Sarah makes a challah with her sour dough starter. We have not celebrated this holiday for almost 40 years but in this time of pandemic it is fun to have a special occasion.

Sarah’s challah rising
So delicious and expertly braided!
The four species
Sarah doing the waving
Stuffed cabbage

 

Rosh Hashannah celebration. 9/19/20

Tonight we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Since we have been basically in lockdown for months now, we have decided to celebrate in some way all the holidays available to us. At least it means getting the three of us around the table together, some planning (which is always fun), and a different menu than usual. Here are pictures from the evening—

Now that we have lost all this weight, we like to show off a bit in some pictures.

Mary and John both down over 50lbs.
Just Mary

We make and eat traditional foods. Sarah makes a round challah and I make autumn soup which is a bowlful of traditional foods – apple, pomegranate, squash. I also make a salad with another traditional food, golden beets. Part of our celebration is the rather odd tradition of making puns out of the traditional foods. It leads to many dad jokes and much hilarity.

Round challah
Autumn soup
Golden beet salad

 

Evacuating ourselves to St. George. August 24-31, 2020

After a weekend of thunderstorms which included a lot of lightning hits, California is ablaze with wildfires. The town next to ours is under an evacuation warning and we decide to get out of the fouled air and scary circumstances for a week in St. George, Utah. We rent a two bedroom “villa” in the complex where we used to have our vacation home.

Since Sarah is coming with us we have three drivers for the long trip. This is the first time we are on the road since the pandemic started and it is a little scary to be finding bathrooms and take-out food on the road. But it all goes smoothly and we reach St. George around 6 PM after a very early start.

We have had to make two reservations – one for the first night and then move into our digs for the the other six nights. The first one seems nice but we are so tired that we hardly notice it. The second one is unfortunately less nice and has many corners cut which seem like false savings for the owners. Polished concrete floors, terrible paper products, bad noise insulation, and no non-stick cookware are nits that really effect the quality of our stay. We even go out and buy a non-stick frying pan so we can cook eggs!

Living room in our villa
Dining area that we never used except to put our tennis bags on the table
Ill-equipped kitchen

Sarah spends her time moseying around, taking some pictures, accompanying me to the grocery store, and reading. John and I get up really early several days to play tennis. We walk over to the courts in the semi-darkness at 6:45 AM. St. George is really far west in the Mountain Time Zone. Although we can use the tennis courts, we cannot reserve one which makes me quite nervous as to whether our getting up before dawn will come to naught. However, although some other people use one of the courts there is always one open for us. It is warm early in the morning, usually in the low 70s but the sun does not emerge from behind the cliff until about 7:45 so the weather is tolerable. Later in the day it will be over 100F.

John ready to play
Mary on the court

Our other major activity is figuring what to make for dinner without our usual pantry to help out. A trip to our local grocery store, Harmon’s, is a daily activity. It is a beautiful, well-stocked store. Even Sarah is impressed.

Harmon’s

We also take a trip down memory lane and take a walk over to our old house. The landscaping has really grown. It definitely needs to be cut back. We look from the front and the back. We are afraid to get too close. While we are in St. George I am nostalgic for our old house and even look at real estate listings but everything is too expensive! Plus taking that 10+ hour drive is beyond what our old bones want to do.

Our old house from the front
The house from the back across the pond

Fortunately the fire does not reach our town and the fire teams do a great job getting it under control. By the time we get back the danger is passed and even the air has improved. I think we will consider taking another vacation to St. George, though.