One of the first things that happened when we moved to California was that John was called upon to travel to Vienna on business. We were still living in an apartment, the kids were just settling into school and here’s this opportunity for me to go along as well. I’d never been to Europe. Long story, short, the daughter of one of our friends was available to stay with the kids and I went along. One of the events on the spouse’s itinerary was to have a waltzing lesson at the Vienna Waltz School. Most of the people in the tour group were women and we arrived at the school to find that we were to be partnered by young men in suits and white gloves. Waltzing is quite energetic as we found out. After a while the better waltzers moved to the ballroom and the klutzes stayed behind for remedial dancing. I was a remedial dancer. My young man tried hard but to no avail. It seems that when I was eight or nine my older sister took dancing lessons. She needed someone to practice with. So my first experiences dancing were as the male partner. I’ve never gotten over the need to lead.

Don Jose Mexican Restaurant, St. George, Utah

As I have mentioned many times before, the dining scene in St. George, Utah is kind of grim. But we are pretty intrepid eaters and we are always hopeful that something good will turn up. Plus I am sick of cooking. And since Ryan and Jon are visiting, I thought dinner out would be a good idea. Oh, Marymom, will you ever learn?! Mexican food seemed a good bet. There are lots of Mexican restaurants in St. George and I had heard good things about Café Rio. It probably is good but when we walked in it was crowded AND cafeteria style. This was not in my plan so we opted for a different restaurant. Don Jose’s had an advertisement for fish tacos, one of my favorites, so we decided to give it a try.

What was wrong with Don Jose’s? Let me count the blunders.

1. Only one basket of chips and salsa is complimentary.
2. No beer, margaritas or any alcoholic drinks.
3. No customers and a buffet that is languishing.
4. Bland salsa.
5. Way too sweet horchatas. ( although free refills)
6. Chicken mole with unpleasant bitterness.
7. Tamale with weird sweet sauce and tough masa.
8. Fish taco with sandy-breaded, overcooked fried fish.
9. Carnitas that were large, fatty chunks, cooked only once.

The rice and beans were good. And the silliest thing on the menu was the dish labeled “Carnita’s Platter.” We kept wondering if Carnita was back in the kitchen.

Looking for Mexican food in St. George? Look further.

Jon’s Grade – C-
Ryan’s Grade – C-
Mary’s Grade – C-
John’s Grade – D



When I was a little girl, my mother taught me how to knit. She’d cast on ten or so stitches for me and we would sit companionably on the sofa doing our knitting. She always made these little sleep sock/booties for us, even when we were older, to keep our feet warm in bed. I never remember her making a big project like a sweater for my father but maybe as a kid I just wasn’t paying attention. As I got older, into my teens, my projects became more ambitious culminating in a sweater for my boyfriend. I hope you’re still wearing it, Tom, because that was a lot of work! But crocheting replaced knitting as the craft of choice, then crewel, cross-stitch, sewing, twisted paper and on and on. For the longest time, I haven’t really done any craft at all. But today when Ryan and I went shopping, we decided to get some yarn and knit scarves. Ryan is a very competent craft person. (I thought about saying that she was very crafty but that would have sounded pejorative.) Amazingly, I still I have some muscle memory about how to knit. I guess it’s a little like riding a bike. Will I have time to blog with all the knitting? We’ll see, knit one, purl one, knit one……….


As with any craft, there is a whole set of jargon that goes with knitting. What’s purling and where did this word come from?

Purl – “knit with inverted stitches,” 1825; earlier “to embroider with gold or silver thread” (1526), from M.E. pirlyng “revolving, twisting,” of unknown origin.



Ryan and Jon are visiting this week so there hasn’t been much time to blog. Here’s the news on the fire, though. The wildfire closest to us which was about 15 miles away to the west is expected to be fully contained by tomorrow. The skies to the north are still filled with smoke and forced I-15 to close again for a few hours north of St. George. Hopefully, there will be good news tomorrow on that one as well.

I am hoping to make a full entry on Tuesday.



Today I meant to write a great entry about religion or politics or something important. But, alas, it was not meant to be. Many eerie things happened on an unnatural (shiver) Saturday. And it was over 90 degrees so the shiver wasn’t from the cold. First, we were making the bed around 7 AM. Really, that’s not true. We were straightening the covers – an act between being utterly slovenly and being anal. There was a noise, windows rattling and the house creaking. John said that the wind had really picked up. That seemed weird since the wind doesn’t usually pick up until the afternoon around here. Laughingly, I said, “If we were in California, I would think that this is an earthquake.” Well, what do you know. Later that afternoon when I looked at the USGS site, I found that there had been a quake nearby at 7:02 AM. Not too big, just 3.6 but maybe large enough for a hypersensitive Californian.

Second in our eerie events chronicle, we went to play tennis. Obviously, the magnetic field of the earth had been shifted because I played really, really badly. Okay, mostly I suck at tennis, but it’s always fun to blame it on something.

Next, from the tennis court, we noticed smoke over the southwest sky. Ominous. The lightning from a recent sort-of-storm had ignited brush over toward Motoqua near the Shivwitz Indian Reservation. (I am not kidding here, the Shivwitz are a Paiute tribe and not a lost tribe of Israel.) Plumes of smoke were rising disturbingly near by.

Finally, the electical power started flickering early in the evening. Off and on, and then the alarm system went berserk, screaming into the night. Finally the electricity went off for the final time. Killed the screaming alarm. Quiet, dimness, oh no, what are we going to do about dinner?! We had a reservation for dinner at a new restaurant that I was planning on reviewing. They called us canceling our table. They had no power as well. What does modern man do in this situation where you cannot open the refrigerator (because around here it gets hot fast) and we need to eat? Although we kept on doing things like looking at the clock on the microwave and turning on the light in the bathroom, we were up to the dinner emergency.

Okay, look in the pantry – Light coconut milk, B &M baked beans, dry pasta, Cheerios, etc. Hard to imagine dinner. Finally, we decided we could heat a pot of water on the grill, cook pasta and make a sauce of parsley flakes, garbanzo beans, canned tuna and olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper and a few chile flakes, and, voila, dinner. Top all this off with a bottle of red wine and, there you have it, dinner.

So we showed that given a loss of electricity modern man can manage. All you need is an outdoor grill and a well-stocked pantry. I am feeling so self-sufficient!

PS Later Saturday night – the fire still rages and we can smell the smoke. The nearby town of Gunlock was evacuated this morning. The sky is dark with smoke to the west. Although we are not threatened, fire in the West is a scary thing. And it is only June.



Yesterday I wrote an entry about second guessing but during my nocturnal wanderings I reread it and decided I didn’t like it. So I deleted it which is all sort of ironic. One of the things I do which makes John crazy is that I have a really hard time making a decision and then not mulling it over and over trying to convince myself that it was the right one. For instance we go to buy a car and then after the deal is done I’ll say, “do you think that was the right one to get? Maybe we should have gotten the other one.” But most frequently it’s about a decision which will make one person happy and another less happy. I hate being caught in the middle.


One of my favorite words to say is “indubitably.” Go on, say it! Isn’t it great the way it rolls off your tongue? But I thought that indubitable was one of the words like inept where the root is not a word, i.e. He is really ept with a hammer. I was wrong. There is a root word.

Dubitable -Subject to doubt or question; uncertain. (

Sweet Potato Gratin with Smoked Chiles

When we were at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Las Vegas, we had a great sweet potato gratin. I found the recipe on line and made a few minor adjustments. It’s kind of high in fat but really tasty.

Sweet Potato Gratin with Smoked Chiles
Adapted from the recipe by Bobby Flay, Food Network

2 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used 2 cups and it was fine)
1 tablespoon chipotle puree (use only 1 chipotle pepper from a can with adobo. They’re really hot)
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (or 2 big ones)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the heavy cream and chipotle puree in a small bowl. (I put some of the cream in the food processor and the chipotle pepper and whizzed it around then added the rest of the cream) In an 8 by 8-inch baking dish, arrange a fourth of the sweet potatoes. (Use the thin slicing disc on the food processor to slice the potatoes) Season to taste with salt and pepper and pour a fourth of the cream over it. (Salt and pepper each layer, I also added some freshly grated nutmeg.) Repeat with the remaining potatoes and cream, forming 4 layers.

Bake for 1 hour or until the cream has been absorbed and the potatoes are browned. (I had to bake this more like an hour and a half) Remove from the oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.



The other day after the TiVo “pause” had run out and the TV switched to live, there was an interesting program on about cows. What another entry about cows, you say? Just a coincidence, I don’t have a cow fetish. Anyway, this segment dealt with the cow as being the most important domesticated animal to a lot of people in the world, sometimes the difference between living and starving to death. A cow can be part of a dowry or a bartering exchange. It gives its owner milk and milk products, meat, and various parts are used as tools or clothing. In one scene, a group of Massai tribesmen are sitting around a fire and one is explaining the news he has heard about the attack on the United States on 9/11. He very graphically holds up both arms to represent the World Trade Center and shows with his hand how the plane flew into one of the towers. The listeners have expressions of such horror on their faces. In a gesture of compassion and sympathy, they offer to send one of their cows, the most important thing they own, to the people of New York City. It is the greatest gift that they can offer. I found this story amazingly touching.