I am being inundated again with spam comments.  Over 1000 in the last 24 hours.  So if you left a comment and you don’t see it posted, it’s because the volume of spam comments is so high that I probably missed your real one.  If I have, I’m sorry.  I am hoping that Jon can fix the site again.



Last month Jon helped me with the spam problem by requiring comment posters to type in Mary before their comment would be posted. But it looks like the spammers have figured a way around. Today I got over 400 spam comments. Surely not as bad as the 5000 I had last month but still enough to make my screen freeze when I tried to delete them. So this is another problem that will need to be solved.

And just so you know what I am thinking about, Americans! stop eating out and spending megabucks for suboptimal food. We just went out to dinner and it was sad. This was at Amber in Danville, CA. My main course was a phyllo purse filled with seasonal vegetables. Well, last time I looked it was May. My seasonal vegetables were carrots and zucchini! Where was asparagus, or fiddleheads (I am smitten with the fiddleheads), or spinach or something that was even vaguely reminiscent of spring! Add to this lettuce leaves with chicken (totally ground up cooked chicken with no flavor), beef satay made out of tenderloin (certainly a skirt or flank steak would have been much more flavorful) with a blah peanut sauce and a potsticker filled with shrimp (I like the ones from Costco better) and you have a meal which is badly cooked, unexciting and pedestrian. I don’t want to pay a lot to eat bad food.

So Americans, a call to arms! And these arms would be your chef knives and santucos. You can do so much better for cheaper at home. Be creative! Try something on a Tuesday beyond meatloaf. You’ll save money and eat better too.



For a while I’ve been wrestling with the whole grandmother/grandfather name thing.  Originally, if you remember, we thought up WooWoo and BooBoo in honor of Woodward and Bernstein.  John, of course, was Bernstein.  But then we needed to get serious.  What to call ourselves, hmmm.  Since John has some ethnicity, we discussed his being Zayde.  At first he wasn’t too keen on it but the kids liked it, he warmed to it, and he became Zayde.  And I was Nanie.  My kids called my mom Nanie so I guess there was kind of a tradition to it.  But I never felt it really fit me.  Sounded too nice.

While we were in Seattle, my sister Phyllis and I worked on the name.  We regretted the lack of ethnic labels.  But you are what you are.  Then she suggested that maybe we could start a new family tradition.  But what?  Many years ago, when Jonathan was a toddler, he had trouble saying PopPop.  It came out as Bebop.  And so my father became Bebop and not just to my kids.  Phyllis’s kids also called him Bebop.  Aha, I said.  Why don’t I call myself Beeba?  The feminization of Bebop.  Yes, we both agreed.  We will become Beebas.  Nathan will call us Beeba and Zayde and her grandchildren will call them Beeba and G-man! 

Of course I ran this by Ryan to see if it would be okay.  She said yes, so we are going with it.  Now, instead of an aging Nanie in a rocking chair, I see myself wearing a colorful scarf and taking Nathan to interesting places as his Beeba. 



THE HERBFARM, Woodinville, Washington

Speaking of fully loaded, last night we ate a nine course dinner at the five star Herbfarm.  Each menu is designed around seasonal products of the Northwest and our dinner was “A Menu for a Copper King.”  The entrie menu featured salmon and, of course, herbs.  After a tour of the herb garden with small tastes of different plants, we sat down to this sumptuous dinner at 7 and arose around midnight.  Each course was explained and paired with wine.  It was quite an experience!  Our menu –

1. Paddlefish caviar on crispy salmon skin, stellar bay oyster with sorrel sauce and copper river salmon dog.  This was served with a 1997 Argyle brut.  I think the real star of this dish was the caviar which was served on creme fraiche and was not too salty. It went well with the crispy skin.  The salmon dog on a brioche bun was also really good.  And although I’m not an oyster fan, I enjoyed that as well.

2. Lemon thyme consomme with dungeness crab, halibut cheeks, and razor clams served with a 2005 King Estate Pinot Gris.  This was also pretty good.  I would have liked the consomme to have been a little hotter but all the ingredients worked well together.

3.  Nettle, goat cheese, and green garlic ravioli served with a 2004 L’Ecole No. 41 Semillon, Columbia Valley. The ravioli were served with wild fiddleheads and a lovage sauce.  This was really good.  The goat cheese wasn’t too strong and I’d never had fiddleheads before.  They were quite delicious.

4.  Copper River sockeye salmon salad with pea sprouts, wild greens, radishes and herbs served with a 2005 Soter Vineyards North Valley Rose.  This was fabulous.  The salmon had been cooked slowly at 185 degrees and was meltingly perfect but I really thought the greens stole the show.  In combination with the salmon, the little piquant tastes of watercress, arugula, mint and other herbs was just perfect.

5. May Wine Ice.  A strange herbal Moselle sorbet which worked as a palette cleanser.

6.  Copper River King Salmon with morel mushrooms, asparagus, lentil croquette and pinot noir-fennel sauce served with a 2004 Beaux Freres Belles Soeurs Pinto Noir.  My absolute favorite thing of the evening?  The lentil croquette.  Yes, the lowly lentil was raised to a new level in a savory croquette full of herbs and with a hint of sweetness.  I couldn’t eat all the salmon because I was really full at this point but if they’d given me another croquette, I would have found room.  The asparagus was too crunchy for my taste and I would have liked a little bit more of the sauce.  Oh, and morels?  Yum.

7.  Sally Jackson Guernsey cow cheese with a dried fruit turnover and cress salad.  Surprisingly strong cheese  that combined well with the cress and the sweetness of the fruit.

8.  Sweet cicely creme brulee and fritter, rhubarb cobbler with angelica ice cream and lemon verbena sherbet cone.  Not one, not two but three desserts.  Can’t keep eating.  Must lay down.  Took small tastes of each.  All good.

9.  Brewed coffees, teas and infusions with a selection of small treats and a vintage 1916 Barbeito Malvasia Madeira.  We each had our own French press for teas and coffees.  Could not eat small treats.  I am now at bursting point.  Headline reads, “California Woman Explodes at Herbfarm.”

Oh, and there were also these incredibly tasty onion-potato rolls that they kept coming around and serving you with a chive butter.

Wow, what a meal. 

Table consensus – A+





First, a big thank you to Sarah, Ryan, Jon and Nathan for making my Mother’s Day extra special.  Sarah made me a delicious brunch featuring strata and tiramisu.  Yum.  We also did a little Sarah and mom shopping, talked about ANTM and whom we think could possible win, and of course gossiped a little (we are so bad!)  Then John and I went to Ryan and Jon’s and babysat Nathan for a while so Ryan could go out and by some jeans with her sister.  Later Jon got back from Nashville and gave me good son hugs.  I got great cards from Ryan and Jon and my first grandmother mother’s day card.  It had a sweet footprint from Nathan.  All in all a great day.

In other family news, we are driving to Seattle tomorrow.  Our nephew, Andy, has accepted an internship from Boeing and will be in Everett, WA for the summer.  Rather than have him buy a car and drive himself, his mom and dad all the way from Tampa, we thought we loan him our van.  He’s a great young man and we are very proud of him.  We’ll also spend several days sightseeing around the Seattle area with my sister and her husband.

We are, of course, taking along a computer but posts may be a little erratic for the next week.



I’m not a big baseball fan.  At least not any more.  Like so many other professional teams, it’s hard to find an allegience when the plalyers are with a team for one year and gone the next.  I think the last time I really cared was when the Mets were playing in the 1969 World Series.  But there is a baseball topic that is bothering me.  Should Barry Bonds receive all the honors for his impending breaking of Babe Ruth’s homerun record?  It seems pretty clear that he has taken performance enhancement drugs.  Doesn’t that taint his accomplishment?  Doesn’t that make him a really poor role model?  Baseball is a game of statistics, I think when Bonds’ name goes in the record books, it should at least have an asterisk.



 It seems that the United Nations has established a new Human Rights Council.  The United States had voted against the formation of the new group because we felt that the bar had been set too low in regards to membership on the council and so we also withdrew our name for consideration as a member.  And who were some of the nations given seats?  Russia, China, Cuba, Pakistan and Saudia Arabia – nations that are seen as among the worst abusers of Human Rights in the world.  It’s like electing the foxes to watch the henhouse.



The Hike

Once upon a time there were two people named Mary and John.  They lived in the gorgeous red rock country of Southern Utah.

On a beautiful morning Mary said, “It is a lovely day.  Let us take a hike and have a picnic, John.”

John agreed and they went to look at maps to find a route.  Finding things on maps has always been dangerous for Mary and John.  It often leads to misadventures.

“This looks like a good hike,” John opined.  “It is in the Kolob Terrace portion of Zion National Park.  I remember that there is a service road that can get us to a fine hiking spot.”

“I shall make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” volunteered Mary.  “We need to have extra energy so I will make some gorp out of what I can find in the pantry.  (This turned out to be crumbled biscotti and raisins.) And also carrot sticks.  After all this is a healthy hike.”

So off they went for their hike and picnic except that they got too hungry along the way and stopped at McDonald’s for a hamburger.  “We need even more extra energy,” they thought.

Up and up they drove, starting in the full fledging of spring in Virgin, UT and ending at the very beginning of spring in the park at 8000 feet.  Some snow was still on the ground. They turned onto a dirt road that took them to Lava Point Overlook.

“Alas,” sighed Mary, “the service road down the cliff is gated and locked! We must find another way down.”

So they found Barney’s Trail, a dirt path that led almost straight down the cliff and to the service road.

“This is very steep,”  Mary exclaimed.  But on they went and finally reached the road that took them to the West Rim Trail.  Unfortunately, this was also downhill although more gradually than Barney’s Trail.

On and on they trod, hoping for a fantastic overlook into Zion canyon.  “Just a half an hour more,” said John intrepidly.  Unfortunately, the overlook never materialized and now they were a long way from their start.  They decided to head back.

“We can do it!” encouraged John.  Mary started making small goals for herself. 

“I know I can walk to that tree ahead,” she determined.  “I shall count my steps and when I get to two hundred, we will have walked one tenth of a mile.”  Using this method they slogged their way up the gradual uphill to the service road and back to Barney’s trail.

“Uh oh,” thought Mary, “I shall never be able to climb up this cliff.”

“You can do it!” once more John encouraged.

Stopping every ten feet or so to wipe off the sweat, catch their breath and try to slow down their racing hearts, they crept up the cliff.  Mary almost fell once.  Finally they were at the top!

“We have done a fine job,” John exclaimed.

“Where is there a bathroom?” responded Mary.

The moral of this story could be: 1) Don’t be tired when you decide to turn around and go back; 2) it may be easier to walk uphill than downhill but it’s still not easy; or 3) what goes down must come up.

Note: For more fables, click on Modern Fables in the sidebar.






First it was the loss of pensions and now it’s medical insurance. With the erosion of the clout of oranized labor and spiralling medical costs, many more Americans are going without medical insurance.  According to AP, “The percentage of working-age Americans with moderate to middle incomes who lacked health insurance for at least part of the year rose to 41 percent in 2005, a dramatic increase from the 28 percent in 2001 without coverage.”  It appears that fewer and fewer companies are offering health insurance and those that do are charging prohibitively.  More and more especially young American workers are opting out due to the cost.  They are playing the game, “You  Bet Your Health.”

Why should business pay for health insurance anyway?  There was a time, I suppose, when in order to attract workers, companies offered more and more perks.  And workers were loyal to their companies.  Now no one is loyal, company or worker.  And business is finding that with the escalating costs of health insurance, it’s cheaper to have sick workers and their loss of productivity than to shell out the big bucks for insurance.

Where will we go from here?  Will we turn into a society where only the rich can afford to see a doctor and drive a car?