Tennis and lunch with Jon. July, 2020

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!!

Jonathan setting up for a shot
John hitting a forehand
Mary with Jon and Sarah
Steak tacos and spicy beans!

 

Pandemic doings. 6/14/20

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.

Poppies!
Sarah and her poppies
Irises

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.

Chickpeas with ditalini and vegetables
Orecchiette with broccoli and mushrooms
Shredded tofu with shiitakes and edamame
Chana dal and salad

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.

Mary

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.

Jon and Sam
Alex with her new pink headphones
Alex opening a present
Candid Ryan and John

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.

My masks

Passover Seder. 4/8/20

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.

Lighting candles
Seder table
Paper bag plague puppets
John leaning on his left side
John holding one of our decrepit Haggadahs which we bought in 1972
Sarah dipping parsley in salt water
Mary showing the matzoh
Matzoh ball soup
Festive dinner
Sarah going to the door to invite Elijah in

Unfortunately the videos I took could not be put in my blog. (Or I do not know how to do it.)

 

Pandemic! Shelter-in-place 3/16/20

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!

Looking up the trail toward Brushy Peak
John by some yellow flowers
Poppies waiting for some sun to open
Mary along the trail
This bird had an incredible song

 

Portland Road Trip, day four. 2/13/20

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.

Mary and John, Sue and Mike Richmond

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.

Multnomah Falls on a cold, rainy day
Multnomah Falls with bridge on a much better weather day (thanks to Modern Hiker)

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.

Pho and garnishes from @ pho.com

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.

Portland road trip, day one. 2/10/20

John and I have decided to take a little road trip this week. We are going to drive up to Portland, OR and poke around for a couple of days while eating some excellent seafood. It should be fun!

Day 1, Pleasanton to Ashland, OR

We get kind of a late start since I have to get  B-12 shot first but by 9:40 we are on our way. Our first stop is at a random McDonald’s for egg McMuffins. We are trying to obey WW guidelines for breakfast and lunch so we omit the cheese and I only eat half the English muffin.

Although we have driven north on I-5 many times it is always interesting. After our tuna filet lunch at the Habit in Redding, we climb up out of the Central Valley towards the volcano, Mount Shasta, the most southerly volcano in the Cascade Range. It is covered in snow! We also pass the Shasta Lake reservoir and check the water levels. It looks better than a few years ago.

Shasta Lake
Mount Shasta

Later in the afternoon we reach our hotel, BW Windsor Inn, in Ashland, Oregon. We find the hotel rather dated but it is just for one night. Our room has a ridiculous array of pillows!

Peaked pillows!

For dinner I have chosen the Brickroom in downtown Ashland. The food is very good and we have a great time taking pictures of the food and each other.

John at the Brickroom
Mary looking forward to dinner
Avocado toast appetizer we share
John’s shrimp and grits with vegetables
Mary’s coho salmon with rice and

Rosh Hashanah. 9/29/19

We have been home for a couple of weeks and are getting back into the swing of things. We have missed seeing Alex and Sam and today had Jon and Sam over for tennis and lunch.  Sam helps me make an apple pie for our Rosh Hashanah celebration tonight. He does a good job peeling apples. I promise him a piece when it cools and half the pie to take home.

Apple pie made with Sam’s help

After Jon and John are showered we all go to Fiesta Taco for lunch. Sam enjoys his chicken tacos and after lunch we return home for pie! Sam takes Jonathan’s usual spot on the couch and promptly falls asleep.

Sam asleep on the couch

After Sam and Jon leave Sarah bakes the challah for dinner and I make Autumn Soup.

Sarah’s challah
All the vegetables in Autumn Soup

With all the work behind us we settle into a lovely dinner of golden soup and yeasty bread with apples and honey and pie for dessert.

Autumn soup, challah, apples and honey
Festive table

Happy New Year!

 

May, 2019

I had a pretty horrible May which started with a cold and ended up worse and worse until I was forced to go to the doctor and get some cortisone to try to quell the lung inflammation. But a few things were happening-

Sarah made me pretzel rolls for my sick Mother’s Day. We had to postpone everything else that was planned.
Towards the end of the month I visited Sarah’s garden. I cannot wait for fresh produce!
Poppies in her garden!
Fava beans just shucked
Unshelled and peeled fava beans

Sale of our St. George house. 1/30/19

We have made the decision to sell our vacation house in St. George, Utah. As much as we have loved coming here these past 16 years it is time to move on. I am no longer able to hike or play tennis due to my painful knee. Even if my amniotic stem cell shot works totally, I still think that the wear and tear of the long trip to St. George and the worry over the condition of the house when we are not there is enough to have us consider the sale.  It also frees up time and money to do other things that we enjoy.

Our house in St. George
View out the back windows

In what should be a poignant last visit to sign the papers over to the new owners turns into a horror show that makes us happy to leave. The people who have put the offer in on the house have indicated that they want to buy it furnished and we are happy to agree. We just want a few things out of it, one picture and our pottery. We send a list of things we want before we depart for St. George and upon arriving realize that we left off a few of the pottery pieces and  one additional print that we would like to take with us. There are also a couple of small knives and spreading knives.

Items we would like to take with us

But these people want everything. All of our sheets and towels, all of our decorations and are threatening to walk if we don’t let them have it all. We are flabbergasted. These things are our personal items that we have collected over the years. What is wrong with these people?!

After much negotiating they finally agree to let us have our stuff and give us a list which includes the pottery, and also our tennis equipment, Jonathan’s golf clubs, a set of dirty sheets and towels that we used while there, and a knee brace that was on a shelf. We did not realize that these were items of contention.

By the time we leave we are no longer sad to be selling our house. These buyers have sucked all the joy out of our experience.

P.S. One funny note about all this is that their horrible realtor wants to buy our Santa Fe. After taking the car for a test drive and to their mechanic they list everything that needs to be fixed. We immediately lower our price to $1500 from $3000. In a rather an unusual move they counter with $2000. We say, are you sure? They say yes and we agree on $2000. Backwards negotiating, amazing!