Memorial Day celebration 5/30/21

At last we are all vaccinated and can get together again. Lots of hugs were exchanged and John grilled a boneless leg of lamb to make our day even more festive.

Ales and Sam
Rose and John
Jon and Sarah
Ryan and Alex
San on tiptoes trying to be taller than me
Pilats
Hendersons and Pilats
Food for the day – Grilled boneless leg of lamb, lemony potato salad, tzaziki, cucumber, onion, and tomato salad

Road trip Carson City, NV continued 4/16/21

Today we continue our exploration of Carson City, NV and where better to begin than at the Nevada State Museum. The building that houses the museum is an amalgamation of an original older building and a modern section. Ingenuously the architect has made the connection point to look like a mine headframe.  We mention that fact to the cashier when we are buying our tickets and she admits to never noticing even though she has worked there for years.

Entrance to Nevada State Museum with Mary

The museum has a large section devoted to rocks, dinosaurs, and ancient mammals all of which are or were plentiful in Nevada. Many fossilized dinosaurs have been discovered in the area.

Ichthyosaur fossil. Not really a dinosaur but a fish-lizard that lived at the same time as dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era.
This an Imperial Mammoth who died in Nevada about 17,000 years ago
And this is a large Ice Age horse native to N. America and that died in Nevada 25,500 years ago.

After the rocks and animals we take a look at settlers’ houses and handicrafts and the evolution of modern Nevada.

Mary by an early Maxwell automobile with right hand drive

We then take a look at a mine mock-up. Mining is a big deal in Nevada and we learn a lot about mining and all sorts of jargon which will be exceedingly difficult to work into every day conversation. Carson City  is near to Virginia City home to the gold and silver of the Comstock Lode.

Lastly due to all the silver being generated by the mining, Nevada petitioned the federal government to finance a mint. For about 23 years in the late 1800s, Carson City minted silver dollars with their CC imprint on them. The press is still operational but only mints commemorative coins now.

The still functional coin press from the late 19th century

We pick up a sandwich for lunch and go back to the hotel to eat our lunch and have a little down time. Around 2 PM we venture back out to visit the Railroad Museum. Unfortunately only half of the museum is open but they charge us full price nonetheless.

In the main building there are several engines and cars in tiptop shape. It seems that the Virginia and Truckee Railroad excelled at supplying the movie industry with old steam engines for the movies. The movie studios returned them mostly in really good shape. Here are a few of the trains we saw.

Mary and a train
Engine and coal car, Dayton, of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad
John and Engine No. 22

There are interesting maps on the floor showing the route and the time it took to get to Promontory Point where they drove in the golden spike. The track coming from the East took a few months to get from point to point but the track from the west took four years to cover the much shorter distance through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Map of the railroad with completion dates coming from the east
Map of the railroad coming from the west

Next we decide to take a look at the Governor’s Mansion a few blocks away.  The Mansion is situated in a middle class American neighborhood although it is much bigger than most of the houses near it. It is built in the Classical Revival style.  The governor’s home was built between 1908 and 1909 specifically as a home for the governor.

Nevada’s Governor’s Mansion in Carson City

The rest of the neighborhood looks like the kind of neighborhood I grew up in, nice, but not too nice. People have multiple vehicles parked around their houses. A few have dirt driveways and various “antiques” in their yards or on their front porches. Most of the houses look like they were built after WWII. So it is an interesting mix.  I also cannot say anything laudatory about the governor’s landscaping. It is early Spring here but maybe someone could have put down some new mulch or picked up the empty plastic bottles that I see here and there.

The governor’s forlorn landscaping

After thoroughly checking out the Governor’s Mansion we make our way back to the hotel where we loll around until almost 7:30 PM.  We guess we better find some dinner. Our choice to night is called Pho Country which the internet says is open until 9PM. Except it isn’t. The sign on the door says only take-out between 7 and 8 PM. Now we are in a scramble to find somewhere that is open. We end up at Miss Lily’s China Bistro where although there is a lot of traffic at the take-out window, we are the only people inside. We order our usual Chinese restaurant order, moo shu pork and Mongolian beef (extra spicy). So much for my good intentions to eat reasonably for dinner.

Mongolian beef, left, and moo sho pork, upper right

 

 

 

Road trip, Carson City, NV. 4/15/21

Today we started a two week road trip, a kind of celebration of being fully vaccinated. Our first destination was Carson City, NV, the capitol of Nevada. The city is named after the Carson River which was named after Kit Carson by his friend and fellow pioneer, John C. Fremont. They came across the area and the river when searching for a way to get over the Sierra Nevada mountains. The pass they found is named Carson Pass and is at an elevation of over 8000 feet.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Snow near Carson Pass
Mary and John in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
First order of business when we reached Carson City was lunch at The Basil, a Thai restaurant

After lunch we went for a walk in the historical district where the State Capitol Building is. Nevada entered the Union in 1864. The building was constructed between 1869 and 1871 in the Neoclassical Italiante style. It is set in a park with other various government buildings nearby.

Handsome Nevada State Capitol
Mary on the front steps of the Capitol (there was no one around)
John at the Capitol
Inlaid plaques in the sidewalk for the Kit Carson Trail
Flowering trees at the park near the Capitol
Kit Carson statue
Old-timey street
New-timey street with Cactus Jack’s Casino

After checking into the hotel we took showers followed by a lie-down. For dinner we found a Mexican restaurant, San Marcos Grill, and had various seafoods.

John’s camarones diabla. The menu indicated that this was super spicy with three jalapeños. It was not spicy. In fact all of the food we have had in Carson City has been unusually bland.
Mary’s pescado acapulqueno. It had vegetables! Also the fish and shrimp were very tasty.

 

First time out in 13 months! 4/8/21

John and I planned a treat for ourselves and went out to lunch, dinner, and stayed over at hotel for the first time since February, 2020. I have to admit that not being able to go to restaurants for over a year probably helped a lot with staying on a diet but now that we are semi-free to do so, I have to figure out strategies to make good choices.

Since we were scheduled for a wine tasting at Imagery we decided to go to Salt and Stone in Kenwood first. For lunch I ordered mussels and John ordered octopus. Seafood, as a long as it is not fried, is always a good choice. Giving John my bread is also a successful strategy for me but probably not for him.

Pretty outdoor setting at Salt and Stone
John with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc
Mary with a glass Chenin Blanc
John’s grilled octopus
Mary’s mussels

Our lunch was followed by a wine tasting at Imagery Winery. We sat outside and it was a perfect Spring day to do it. Flowers were blooming everywhere and the temperature was just right.

John and poppies at Imagery
Mary at the winery
Tasting menu

After our tasting we made our way to the BW Sonoma to check in, have a little rest, and get cleaned up for dinner. The hotel is very near the square in Sonoma and it is an easy walk to EDGE, the restaurant associated with Stone Edge Winery.

We had a four course meal paired with wines which had us eating hamachi, a salad, halibut, and buttermilk ice cream. Of course these were not simply the item on a plate but each course was carefully prepared with delicious accompaniments.

Dining outdoors at EDGE
Hamachi
Salad
Halibut

It was so great to go out again. We still need to be careful but now that we are vaccinated, we feel much safer than before. We are looking forward to more outings and travel soon.

Passover celebration. 3/27/21

Hopefully this is the last of our pandemic Passover celebrations. Although it was fun and delicious, it is even better with the whole family here.

Pictures from our 2021 Passover –

Table is set!
Seder plate
John lighting the candles
John reading Hebrew
Matzo ball soup
Mary and Clark
Grilled lamb chops, mashed potatoes, and asparagus with sauce grabiche
Sarah’s delicious macaroons

Celebrating Alex’s birthday. 3/7/21

Alex is turning 15 this year. I cannot believe it!! It seems like such a short time ago that she was just a little kid. Ah, well, I guess we all get older (and older.) John, Sarah, and I took a trip over to Jon and Ryan’s house for a little celebration. Of course since it is still pandemic time and not everyone has been vaccinated, we celebrated in our masks outdoors. Jon, Ryan, Leigh, and Sarah cannot wait for it to be their turn to get the vaccine.

Here are some pictures from the day –

Alex and Sam in their matching outfits
Ooh, cookies from Auntie Sarah
Opening some presents from mom and dad which included a new scooter and some high tech headphones.

We gave Alex some Spring clothes which is not terribly exciting but I know will be appreciated when the weather warms up. (If it ever does!!)

Visiting St. George with Jonathan. 2/26/21

We decided to take a week’s trip to St. George to enjoy the sunshine, the beautiful scenery, and to celebrate our vaccines. We invited Jon to come along since he is a great lover of the St. George area. He can play tennis, golf, and hike as well as accompany me to the grocery store and cook while he is here.

We have rented accommodations at the Villas at Entrada where we know the units are fastidiously cleaned and the tennis courts are a short walk away. We have stayed here before and are always interested in how one unit varies from the other. In this one, 2502, there is a separate potty room in the master suite bathroom and a powder room for communal use. We are up pretty high in the development so the views are spectacular. The kitchen is equipped rather poorly but we have brought along things that we felt we would need and can manage quite well.

Living/dining area
Kitchen

On our first day here we take a trip to Harmon’s to get our groceries for the night’s dinner. Shopping is a special mom and Jon activity. In the afternoon we play tennis. It is pretty chilly here but out in the sun even temperatures in the 50s are okay when we are running around.

Jon about to hit backhand
Jon set up for forehand
John about to hit forehand

After we are cleaned up we take some pictures from the little table and chairs in front of our villa. It has a great view of Snow Canyon.

Jon enjoying a Negroni Sbagliato
Mary and John
John and Jon

Our welcome dinner is the always fabulous Kenwood shrimp. It is a group effort with Jon and me cutting the veg, me cleaning the shrimp, and John doing the cooking. I think it turned out the best we have ever made it. Could it be that adding all the cream makes a difference!?

Kenwood shrimp – shrimp in a Pernod/white wine sauce with brunoise vegetables served over rice
Close up

Purim celebration. 2/25/21

We do not usually celebrate all the Jewish holidays but since we are still pretty isolated due to the pandemic, Sarah thought that finding occasions to celebrate and make new things was a worthy project.

The idea with Purim is that you read the Book of Esther from the Bible (Esther was a Jewish queen who outwitted the evil Haman and saved the Jewish people from destruction), give to charity, eat triangular food (the shape of Haman’s hat), and get a little tipsy. Sounds perfect!

We started out with some crackers and hummus. Since Esther was Middle Eastern we figured this was a fine appetizer to have.

Hummus with triangular shaped crackers

Rather than make our own triangular food we hit the frozen food aisle to try to find some already made items. We were actually hoping to find spanakopita but no luck. We ended up with samosas that were stuffed with chickpeas and a tamarind chutney and came with a delicious cilantro sauce. I am planning on using this new found sauce on many things in the future. The samosa manufacturer, Sukhi’s, was nice enough to put the recipe online.

Chickpea samosas with cilantro sauce

Our next find were Buffalo chicken poppers which were triangular and spicy. These were fine although it was hard to find the chicken in them and were not nearly as good as the samosas.

Triangular Buffalo chicken poppers

Finally we had homemade hamantashen that Sarah made. They were wonderful! The cookie part was crisp and delicious, kind of a like a sugar cookie. The interior was a great prune jam that she also made.

Sarah’s homemade hamanstashen

We really enjoyed our Purim celebration. Taking turns reading the Book of Esther taught us some new things and it was fun booing whenever Haman’s name came up. Maybe we will do it again next year quarantine or not.

Two other red letter days early in 2021. 2/15/21

Some good things are happening! On January 20, 2021, Joseph Biden was sworn in as 46th president. We are so happy that the dreadful Trump administration has ended. Maybe now the country can move forward. We deplore the awful insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6 when rioters tried to stop the confirmation of the ballots. The lies about election fraud perpetrated by the Trump administration and its rabble rousing caused this to happen. But now Biden is in and we are so hopeful for a better future for this country.

The announcement of the inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris

President Biden has promised 100 million vaccine shots in the first 100 days of his term. And he is doing it!! On January 25 John and I received the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine and on February 15 we get the second one. Our side effects are minimal, mostly just a sore arm for a day or two. By March 1 we should be mostly immune. Of course the virus is trying to stay ahead of the vaccine and has mutated into variants which the vaccine may not deal with as well but we understand that even if we were to catch a variant the vaccine would protect us enough that we would not get seriously ill. Hurrah!!!

Sam’s 12th birthday. 1/11/21

It is a new year but the quarantine goes on as Covid-19 rages throughout the U.S.  But it is Sam’s birthday and it must be celebrated. We all don our masks and keep social distancing while we have a little party outside on Jon’s front porch.

Alex and Ryan. Alex is wearing some of the new clothes we gave her for Christmas.
Sam opening presents with Jon
Sarah and John at our little party
Sam’s at-home birthday celebration has a fabulous cake by Leigh
12 year old Sam!