Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I saw an elderly man, toddling along with the help of a cane as I passed Burre Center the other day. He was near the planter box and I saw him run his hand through the flowers…petunias, best I could tell. I wondered what memories came flooding back when the scent reached his nose. I tend to do the same, though mostly with herbs I pass…. especially basil. I LOVE the smell of basil. I’m sure Monica would say that smell reminds her of my mom who always had basil growing in a pot on the front porch.

I have been planting marigolds every Mother’s Day in honor of my mom who used to install them by the flat around our yard. When I brush my hand over them in the garden, that smell brings me back to watching her with a trowel, on her knees digging hole after hole. The same thing happens when I smell pansies and petunias ... and snapdragons which was why the old man that started all this made me smile.

Those figs that showed up in my farm box a few years ago (and again this week, yippee!) reminded me of something I didn’t even KNOW I remembered. Mrs. Cleary was an old lady that lived next to us on San Juan Avenue in Santa Cruz when I was very small. She was one of those old ladies that always wore a dress with tiny floral print, perhaps with an apron over the top. Even working in the garden, she wore a dress. I’m not sure I remember her from living there since we moved out of that house when I was about three but we went over to visit her on occasion. I remember that musty smell of her house but I REALLY remember the smell of figs. They were always smooshy on the ground so I’m not sure how much we ate but that smell is unmistakable. Oh, and walnuts.

More fragrant flashbacks …. riding on the motorcycle puts you where the temperature changes and scents are “in your face”. Riding down the Avenue, through the redwoods always gets me thinking about Girl Scout camps, especially if there is a campfire. Where there’s smoke, there’s s’mores. And, far from offensive, the smell of the waterfront near Pacific Seafoods reminds me of hanging out on the wharf in Santa Cruz.

So, what smells bring back memories for you?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I have been remiss reporting on the booty that is the contents of my weekly veggie box from the CR farm. The first few boxes are always a crap shoot -- sometimes Davy Jones' locker, which includes early tomatoes, basil and zucchini, while others are like Pandora's Box, beets and more potatoes than we can eat. I HAVE actually been eating the beets (though I've pulverized some and put them in the freezer to make homemade bread pink and even healthier) and some of the potatoes, though I've been sharing these early spuds since they won't store well.
This week's box was stunning. Along with yet another bonanza of chard, some peas and basil, and yet another BUNCH of beets, there were these aubergine treasures. No Photoshopping here...honest. There was purple cauliflower, purple beans and one purple pepper. The apples were in there as well so I added them to this shot just for contrast. They're crisp and tasty with chunks of cheese.

If you're a veggie-eater, the farm box is a great way to get your veggies. If you're not a veggie eater.... listen to your mother and EAT YOUR VEGGIES! Every week I look forward to collecting my box of treasure to see what we'll be eating for the next seven days. It forces me to vary my produce selection beyond what I would normally buy and, because I'm a tightwad and hate to waste, we eat most all of it.....occasionally we get overloaded and the hens benefit when things spoil, but not very often. I know more of the Farmer's Market regulars are beginning to offer shares but I'm partial to supporting the CR farm.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Welcome to my 100th post folks...took me a bit longer than some of you but I finally got here.

So, my normally peaceful solo walks have been somewhat clouded by recent stories of bears on Trinidad Head. I find myself looking over my shoulder more often as I make my way across campus, especially first thing in the work day. There have always been occasional mountain lion sightings (though mostly by dormies and, to be honest, we're never really sure how lucid they were when they saw a big cat in the shadows…) in and around the trees on campus but several weeks ago, a bear was spotted near Creative Arts.

In the rural (translate: desolate) neighborhood where we lived in Minden, Nevada, there ran a wash …. a gulley about 15 feet wide and equally deep. Being the desert *shudder* it was susceptible to flash floods. Lightening storms would come and water would flow out of the Pine Nut Range in torrents; the alkaline soil unable to drink fast enough would allow runoff of astonishing amounts. One summer, one such flood enveloped our neighborhood, filling a few homes as well as the aforementioned wash with silt. The waters also washed away small rodents that fed the local raptor population.

On summer mornings, the dog and I used to walk out in the desert in the wee hours before it got too (freaking) hot. We would head out into the sagebrush for what would be a three or four mile loop of me power-walking and him chasing jackrabbits. Occasionally, I’d hear a noise in a bush and a jackrabbit would bolt by for Grizz’s entertainment or I’d spot a lizard scurrying in the sand. Once in a while, however, I’d here a crackling in the shrubs nearby and nothing would materialize. I would, on those occasions, become very aware of the fact that I was a ways off of the road and earshot of residents. Was it just a jackrabbit? Or perhaps a coyote? What would the coyote do? Hell, what would I do?!

These things cross my mind as I walk now….What was that noise? This morning, it was an odd noise that cut through the music of my iPod. I turned quickly … right, left, up….ah, just a crow making an odd noise. Just a crow…..which got me thinking about that wash in Nevada and the Burrowing Owls that lived in its walls. One morning, several years after a flash flood forced the owls to seek food elsewhere, I spotted one of the squatty little creatures, watching me from the top of a sagebrush. Grizz and I were walking along the trail on the opposite side of the wash. When I saw it, I stopped….”hey Grizz, check it out…the owls are back”. I stood there for a moment, admiring the little bird…8-10” tops…..happy it had returned to our stark little piece of the landscape. As we admired, it “SCHRIEK”ed….opening its wings to a full eight feet (well they LOOKED that wide) and came at me! The little bastard was hell-bent and chased me a good eighth of a mile along the trail while I ran as if I was running for my life, hood pulled up to protect my scalp from what I was certain were six-inch talons. Run, Grizz, Run! We ran like the wind, owl screaming overhead, until I came to a crossing over the wash allowing me to get to the road that would lead me to salvation.

So, in conclusion, in my world there is no longer such thing as “just a crow” -- or, “just a pigeon” or “just a sparrow” for that matter. Any flutter of wings over head will still cause me to involuntarily flinch and duck just a bit. Now they tell me there are bears on campus…

Monday, August 11, 2008


I bought a lug of peaches and am madly working to get them peeled and cut up before they spoil. I added a little thyme to the fruit before pouring it it into the crust. Please oh please tell me you get the reference to that ubiquitous song from the late 70's. I believe it replaced the Carpenters' We've Only Just Begun in the wedding DJ portfolio. It was running through my head all morning as I made the filling.

Friday, August 8, 2008


My apologies but that was the first “wine” song that came to mind..

Today is not only the beginning of the summer Olympics but the anniversary of my birth. As the afternoon at work slowed, my boss suggested I take off to enjoy the rest of my birthday. Since the bus schedule allowed for an early departure, I took a bit of “annual leave” to enjoy the rest of my day…thanking my Mom for her labor 51 years ago.

I got home and opted to enjoy the sudden sunshine with a glass of wine and my current read (Shattered by Dick Francis). As I sat in my weedy little back yard with my book and glass of Pinot Grigio, I realized I was getting a buzz on in the middle of the afternoon. I hadn't even finished one glass. Mind you, I’ve always been a micro-brew and cheap wine girl. In the past, friends with whom we coordinated a motorcycle show criticized me…. how could I drink “that cheap crap in a box?”….”Easy. It tastes good”. However, while they would drink only the best wine with real corks....their beer of choice was Olympia .... Light ... in a can. Gawd! They couldn’t see the parallel. I drink GOOD beer and cheap wine. Not fine wine, mind you, but decent, inexpensive grape squeezins. I don’t know “nose” and “bouquet”. The only “fingering” I know is when I have to dip fruit flies out of my glass. I do not sniff the cork. Hell, boxes have funny plastic valves instead of corks!

Of late, I’ve been trying to get out of the boxed wine habit. Not because of my snooty friends but for my safety. I only developed a taste for “the box” because I didn’t drink much wine and was the only wino in the house so the little bladder inside that box allowed the wine to retain a modicum of freshness. I developed a taste for White Zinfandel, however, which is rather sweet and, no matter the vintner, goes down fast. When I’m thirsty, I drink, which is why I don’t generally drink alcohol with a meal; I can pretty much get hammered just trying to quench my thirst. I will have a glass while preparing dinner – a slosh for me and one for the pot, thank you Galloping Gourmet, for the inspiration. Maybe I’ll even have a second glass if dinner takes some time to prepare. Somehow, boxed wine didn't seem to be very ….. intoxicating. I decided to break myself of the “box o`white zin” habit and move to a less guzzleable wine to encourage a slower ingestion. I have found, however, that one glass of good wine, will replicate the aforementioned hammering that cheap wine gives after several glasses. Limiting my intake is easy since I can't stand up straight enough to pour a second glass.

So, to summarize: Several glasses boxed wine = tippy mom = 1 glass decent wine. I haven’t saved a penny but at least when I stagger in the kitchen, I can say “I only had one glass” and mean it.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Inspired by Jack's recent blogs, spotting whales in Trinidad Harbor, I packed up a pasta salad picnic and we headed north a little dinner al fresco at the Memorial Lighthouse. Of course, the promised sunny evening did not appear so we were left with sweatshirt weather as the sky grew ever darker. Squinting into the dim ocean, I caught site of a spout and ran for the camera. We watched what appeared to be two or three whales in the area around the haystack, rise to the surface, take a breath than tip their tale to taunt those of us that watched from shore. Mark and Glo decided they were "just krillin'". We kept watch until it was too dark to see much and sweatshirts became inadequate. Whales were there indeed. Thanks, Jack, for the inspiration.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Back out on Big Lagoon this morning for a little S & M.....while that might catch Kristabel's attention, it is just a class on Strokes and Maneuvers taught by Marna at Kayak Zaks. Learned a little more and am getting more secure on the water. Secure enough, in fact, to take a picture or two. Nothing special....just good that I'm getting comfortable enough to pop open the Pelican box I use to keep the camera dry. I even got a shot of the cormorants I mentioned after last week's paddle.
From the business side, I know it's better for Marna if everyone shows for classes but three cancellations on her way in meant great instruction ratio for the two of us remaining. After a quick overview on shore, three of us headed out on the water to learn different methods of turning and maneuvering. The more I'm out, the more comfortable I am so I took Marna up on the offer to use the kayak after the lesson was over to practice some of the moves we learned. Water toys to toss in the water and practice drawing myself sideways to retrieve it. It wasn't a sunny morning but plenty nice out there.

As we bobbed along on the Lagoon, watching Marna then trying the moves on our own, I catch a whiff coming from the camping area nearby. Nope, not bacon or french toast. Yeah, who doesn't like a bowl-load with their bowl of Cheerios. Good morning campers! Now I've got Kulica's version of "Bong Hits for Breakfast" in my head (of course I can't find a link to that song).