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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the events that helps to keep us sane during the pandemic is that Jonathan comes over every weekend to play tennis and have lunch with us. Outside of grocery shopping and playing tennis with John, it is about the only thing that we do.
It feels like a real event. I spend time planning what we can eat for lunch and enlisting Sarah to help. We have had burgers, sausages, tacos, and fajitas so far. I am running out of good ideas!!
In case you have been wondering (Eileen!) what I have been doing during our quarantine which is now entering its 14th week, the answer is not much but not nothing. As a matter of fact I have written 29 blog posts but they are at the beginning of my blog not at the end. I am in the process of matching pictures (actual photographs) with my written commentary (as in a travel journal) and making entries. The blogs start in 1994 and are about our travels. It takes a lot of time and I only have completed two and have one from 1999 in the works. When I run out of written commentary I will just look at the rest of pictures from travels and events and with John, who has a remarkable memory, we will try to match memories to the pictures.
Some of the photographs are very slow to show up so you have to tap the blank square to see the pictures or be very patient.
Sarah’s poppies which were just buds in an earlier picture bloomed riotously in April. Sad news, though, gophers have attacked her garden and many of the plants she shepherded from seeds have been killed.
We have been cooking a lot! And sticking to our diet. We have both lost over 40 lbs. which is a remarkable achievement if I do say so myself. We have been eating a lot of vegetarian and vegan dinners. Here are a few.
Lastly here is a picture of me minus 43 lbs. My face, neck, arms, and legs have been the major recipients of the weight loss. I am thinking about maybe another 10 lbs. but it is slow going these days.
Finally we celebrated the graduation of Sam to middle school and Alex to high school in June. We sat outside at Jon’s house keeping our social distancing and had coffee and tea. Sarah made the graduates some of her renowned macaroons and we gave them books and gift certificates. It was really pleasant to spend time together after so long apart. We followed that up by playing tennis with Jon this weekend and then had lunch outdoors. We are still being very careful.
Oh, and I must not forget the masks I have made – two for John and five for me with more in the offing. I am a big proponent of wearing masks so if you are not wearing one when you are out, stop being a selfish twit and protect your neighbors from your germs!!! And do not forget to wash them between wearings.
Since the lockdown due to the coronavirus continues, we are having a small Seder—just the three of our household members. It is sad not to have the whole family here but we managed to have a good time anyway.
Unfortunately the videos I took could not be put in my blog. (Or I do not know how to do it.)
The coronavirus and its disease, COVID-19, are making their way across the US. Thanks to a totally incompetent White House which used magical thinking in hoping it would go away, we are in much worse shape than we might of been. Our governor has ordered that all but essential businesses be shuttered and the population in the Bay Area, some almost 7 million people, only go out for necessary items such as healthcare and food. The order lasts until April 7 but could be extended. The disease is easily passed from one person to another. The illness is most lethal on people over 60 and those with underlying conditions which category John and I fall into. It is scary times.
One of the things we are allowed to do is go out to exercise as long as we stay six feet away from other people. John and I take advantage of this and go to Brushy Hill Regional Park to do a little hiking.
The weather has been rainy and cold and the most difficult thing about our hike is the mud that gets caked onto our shoes. John says it is like hiking with 5 lb. weights! But we are out for about an hour which helps with our isolation and it is nice to hear the bird songs and see wildflowers. Here is hoping that we get through this without getting sick!
Today is Alex’s birthday and we are going over to Ryan and Jon’s for a birthday brunch. Sarah has made macaroons for the occasion and John and I have gotten her a gift certificate from her favorite game streaming service and a bunch of small things from Daiso. I cannot believe that she is 14! Happy Birthday, Alex!
Today turns out to be a pretty special day. Our friends from long ago (1970’s), Sue and Mike Richmond, contacted me after seeing my post on Facebook from yesterday. They live in Portland and suggest that we should get together. We meet for breakfast at our hotel.
In a matter of moments forty years compresses down to “didn’t we just get together last week?” We talk about our families (they have three kids who are up to some pretty incredible stuff as adults) and the old days. I very fondly remember when they came to visit me at the hospital after Jonathan was born—my only visitors. John and Mike were colleagues at Data General and both of them have only great things to say about each other. The visit is too short and hopefully we will try to visit again when our paths cross.
They give us the idea to go see Multnomah Falls, a 620 ft. waterfall only about a half an hour away. This is right up our alley of things we like to do. The weather is not cooperating. It is cold and rainy so we only briefly get out of the car to see the waterfall. It is quite impressive and reminds us of the ones we saw in Norway. On a better weather day we would have liked hiking to the bridge.
It is around 3 PM when we decide to get something for lunch. We find another restaurant serving pho and this time are successful at ordering beef pho. The bowl is gigantic. They should have small and large. I cannot finish even half of mine. But a hot bowl of pho is the perfect lunch on a cold and rainy day.
When we get back to the hotel it is time for a little lie-down and we do not venture downstairs until 8 PM or so. We order a glass of wine, another plate of calamari, and some hummus with crudités. Then it is off to bed because tomorrow we start the drive back to Pleasanton.