Saturday, March 31, 2007

Hasta La Vista

Gone to Costa Rica; back on April 12. See you then. I'm off to meet a fellow blogger, The Baking Fairy who lives in Montezuma and operates a vegan restaurant called "Organico."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Another Tale From Costa Rica Ten Years Ago

All the prepartion for this trip to Costa Rica has brought back a flood of memories of my first trip. The one I thought of today was about the post office in Cahuita. I had postcards to mail back to the U.S. I went to the post office, asked in Spanish about buying stamps for them and was told he didn't have any stamps. I asked if I was in the post office. He assured me I was. I asked when he thought he might have stamps; he said maybe on Wednesday. This was Friday. I told him I would be gone by then; he smiled and said that perhaps the next city I visited would have stamps. We could learn a lot from this gentleman. He had a job but nothing to sell and he was very polite about how he couldn't help me. I left smiling and mailed the postcards when I got back to the U.S. Great country; great people.

Getting Ready For Our Trip

Well, I've had my typhoid shot. My arm hurt like hell for a couple of days. I've started taking my anti-malarial drug (no side effects) and I'm slowly gathering all those things we can't passports and plane tickets, etc. And I got my cortisone shot for my rotator cuff. It already feels better.

Our friends Einar and Susan are leaving tomorrow and will meet us in Montezuma. We don't fly until Sunday. They just couldn't wait to get there. We have rented the car so they are taking the bus to Montezuma from the airport. That will be quite a ride. I wonder how many chickens and other creatures will accompany them. The bus will take them across on the ferry at Puntarenas. Montezuma is down near the tip of the Nicoyo Peninsula on the Pacific Ocean. It's orange on this map. They are splurging and staying at an expensive resort called Ylang Ylang for a couple of nights. Then they will move into the modestly priced rooms we will stay in for the rest of the trip.
After a couple of days there, we will head back across on the ferry to the main part of Costa Rica and slowly wend our way to Cahuita, which is on the Carribean coast and is in the malarial zone (green on the map). It's about five miles from the Panama border. Hope fully we can stay at Atlantida which is where I stayed last time. Lots of Rastafarians there. I remember having dinner one night in "downtown" Cahuita when the lights went out. No one even missed a beat; the lanterns were lit and life went on. I did notice baby caimans (like crocodiles) in the water behind the restaurants hoping for some scraps from the kitchen. We have rats, they have caimans.

After Cahuita we will wander back into the central part of the country, maybe go to the Cloud Forest to get away from the heat or to a jungle lodge on the Sarapiqui River. This is supposed to be a relaxing vacation so we are going to do just that.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sir Lawrence And Dame Olivia Are Back

They have become so tame that they like to nap on our front porch. Larry has his head tucked in and Olivia is ever vigilant. Some of you may remember last year's trials with nesting. Olivia decided our roof was a good spot. It was in the spring when the weather was mild. She hatched out about 10 chicks who were gobbled up by various creatures. She then went back to the roof to lay a second group of eggs. The temperature was probably 120 F. up there. She got so hot she would leave the eggs to swim in the pond. This year the gutter cleaners found a nest, the skeleton of one chick and lots of broken eggs. They clean it out thoroughly in hopes that she wouldn't go back.

I've seen her on the roof once; I clapped and yelled at her and she took flight. I'm still not convinced she hasn't laid her eggs up there. When I stop seeing her completely I'll know she is nesting somewhere. They are a cute couple. Larry usually watches over her while she eats; I guess it's her turn when they are sleeping. We can tell it's Olivia because she is so light colored. We are assuming that he's Larry unless the little girl is out and about with more than one drake. More power to her. That nearly dead plant in the background is a hibiscus that almost died over the winter. I'm nursing it back to health. It had a whopping case of aphids at the end of the season and then got hit by frost one night when I wasn't as vigilant as I should have been. I may have to take it out of the pot and cut some of its roots to get it going again. They don't like to be repotted but do like to have the roots cut away. Sort of like people.
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A Food Hangover

Yes, that's how I feel. The dinner last night was wonderful as was the company...Kerry and the other couple we dined with. But there was so much of it; the food that is. We started with a white bean salad with arugula plus a bit of zip from some kind of pepper. Then on to the very light lemon fettuccine with some wonderful mushrooms. Then came the main course: braised lamb shank from a local ranch that doesn't add any bad stuff to the feed. Of course the poor little lambs don't live long enough to acquite any bad habits. The entree included tiny potatoes, carrots and turnips. Then dessert: flourless chocolate cake with all that frou-frou stuff around it. Sort of like the picture here. The lack of flour just means there is even more chocolate, which in my food-soaked mind didn't register as caffeine.

Kerry and I went to bed quite uncomfortable and quite on edge thanks to the dessert. We re-learned an important lesson; eat half of what is on your plate and bring the rest home. We did bring home quite a bit of lamb. I can't even look at it now. I had edamame for lunch. Don't know about dinner yet.

I woke up determined to exercise but only got as far as walking to the road for the Sunday paper. That's a half mile roundtrip. I was going to get on the treadmill too but never got there. My thinking was that a good sweat would really help the healing process. It probably would but I just couldn't get there.

Tomorrow is platelet day. Just before that I am driving to nearby Yuba City to purchase a portable crib for Francesca, the young woman who takes care of our house. She has a baby who is rapidly getting tired of being in her car seat when mom is here working. The portable crib will give her a place to squirm, learn how to roll over and other delightful things that little ones learn.

Back to the food; I'm going to talk to the Lincoln Produce Market owners and tell them that they should shrink the portions but not the price or let folks know that doggie bags are plentiful so we won't all stuff ourselves. I did love every bite but it's just the accumulation of all those bites that is a bit uncomfortable.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Typhoid Shots, Rotator Cuffs And Costa Rica

On Thursday I had an x-ray of my left shoulder to see if I had any bone problems because it hurts like hell. Yesterday I had a typhoid shot in my right arm. Now both my arms hurt and I feel rather wiped out by the vaccination. It's for our trip to Costa Rica. On Monday I'm going to get a cortisone shot for my rotator cuff injury. So I guess this means my pitching days are over. Right now I can't swing a golf club, lift anything heavier than a coffee cup and sometimes can't lift my left arm at all. Hopefully the cortisone shot will help. I think the villain in all of this is yoga. I was having pain in my left shoulder during some poses but just kept on doing them. I think the "no pain, no gain" way of exercising is seriously outdated. I don't want to be miserable in Costa Rica.
I had to visit International Travel at Kaiser to get the vaccination. They also gave me pages and pages of all the terrible things that can happen to one in Costa Rica. I also got malaria pills and Cipro, an antibiotic for bacterial diarrhea. I also bought a time release mosquito repellent and sun screen. I told the nurse that I had been to Costa Rica ten years earlier and had not taken any of these precautions. She smiled and said, "You were lucky." I'm ten years older than I was on that last trip so I guess that's why I'm taking more precautions. I have to start the malaria pills one week before I will enter a malaria zone; it's primarily along the Caribbean side of the country (we are going there) and in the northwest in Guanacaste. So I will take my first pill on Wednesday. I have to take them for four weeks after I get back to make sure I didn't get bitten. I'm hoping this means that I will be able to donate platelets. I got there on Monday so will ask.
We are having a very lazy day. Kerry just went to take a nap and I'm headed there as soon as I finish this post. We are going to a wine dinner tonight at our favorite place in Lincoln, Lafayette Produce Market. About once a month they do these dinners for members of their wine club. We belong; the wine club membership was free. So tonight we will have some wonderful food paired with interesting local wines. I need to nap so I feel up to going.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Turtle Has Left The Property

Doug and Katie pulled out late yesterday afternoon. The turtle rumbled slowly down our dirt driveway, made a right at the road and disappeared. I told Doug I wasn't going to really believe he was gone until I got an e-mail from him that showed he was at least 20 miles away.

I got one from him last night. He was maybe 10 miles away. That didn't count. He says he's going to San Diego slowly just like a turtle. He has to be back here in about six weeks for more blood tests. Somehow I doubt that he can drive to San Diego and back in that time. Then he wants to go to Alaska. He won some lottery that allows him into an area where very few people are allowed. But then he has to be back in Lincoln by late August to leave Katie with us and go to Burning Man in Nevada. That's a lot of travel for a turtle and its owner.

Today the folks with whom we are going to Costa Rica are coming over for some trip planning and a barbecue. They are good travelers and we travel well with them. Susan and Einar were on the China trip last year.

Changing subjects: my neighbor down the road always has great tomatoes which he sells at a roadside stand. I usually watch for him to plant and then I plant. Well he planted sometime last week when I wasn't watching. I'm stunned; it's still March. So I have to get busy next week and get mine in the ground. It's been in the low to mid-80s every day for a week; all my winter vegetables have begun to flower, which is not good. I think I'm going to give up on winter vegetables that grow above the ground.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Health Update and "Borat"

Turtle Doug is doing well. The urologist wants to see him in two months and do another blood test. I could see that he was as relieved as I was. He's heading for San Diego and Baja tomorrow. He'll be back in 8 weeks for more tests.

Now for "Borat." Kerry subscribes to Netflix. He had been waiting for "Borat" and today it arrived. This is Turtle Doug's last night so the two men are bonding by watching this horrible movie. Don't send me comments that you loved it. I find it loud and repulsive. Tomorrow night we are watching "Little Miss Sunshine." I can hear their laughter all the way in my office even with the fan on. Actually I'm glad Kerry has someone with whom he can watch it. We have very different tastes in movies. He watches his Netflix movies alone much of the time. That's why I finally got a Blockbuster card. Yesterday I rented the "Miss Sunshine" movie and "Memoirs of a Geisha." I read the book and want to see what I think of the movie.

So I'm hiding out until the movie ends. I'm glad they are having fun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Turtle Is Back and A Curly Willow Update

Turtle Doug arrived a short time ago. He has his urology appointment tomorrow in the nearby town of Rocklin. I just hope he gets good news. We figured out a better spot for his turtle in the driveway so it will be easier to get my car in and out of the garage. His wife has decided she wants a divorce. Her lawyer in Kentucky contacted him today. I guess when it rains it pours. Poor guy.

I gave platelets yesterday, which really wiped me out more than usual. I didn't get a chance to eat lunch before I went so was pretty low on energy. About half way through the 113-minute donation time I started having muscle cramps from the anti-coagulant they drip into me. I had 8 Tums which usually wipe out the cramps almost immediately. It's pretty amazing how fast they work. This time they did nothing. So they brought me string cheese to eat. I downed two of them as fast as possible and the cramping subsided. I got a kind lecture from the nurse about the importance of lunch before my next donation. I've donated 87 pints which is nearly 11 gallons.

So I vegged most of today, except for a trip to the grocery store. I'm cooking healthy foods tonight so Doug will get a good meal before his exam tomorrow. We are having chicken breasts sauteed in a mushroom/olive oil/balsamic vinegar sauce and oven roasted tomatoes with a bit of feta cheese to top them off when they come out of the oven.

I've really been into veggies lately. Sunday night I had a big bowl of oven roasted cauliflower and broccoli sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. I had the same thing for lunch today. At the store today I bought lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts and avocados (I know they are a fruit). A woman in the produce department saw all of my veggies and asked my advice on what veggie to serve with chicken Parmesan. I recommended the asparagus either oven roasted or steamed. She bought asparagus. I wish I felt the same way about fruit. It's just not my thing; except bananas and berries of any kind. Apples smeared with extra crunchy peanut butter are okay too.

I have a client meeting tomorrow; something I've not had in quite a while. I have to be on the road by 7:30 a.m. to get to Santa Rosa in time. My client, a water agency in Sonoma County, wants to build several reservoirs around the county to store tertiarily treated wastewater in the winter for use in the summer to irrigate vineyards. Sounds simple, but we have a former Dow Chemical scientist who has been quite successful recently in the courts. Tomorrow's meeting should be interesting.

And the curly willows...they are thriving. Dykewife asked why I didn't just leave them in the water until they had roots and then plant them. They had been in water for two months and had very few roots but were sprouting leaves. My friend who gave them to us recommended potting and then putting them in the soil. Our soil here is clay, which gets rock hard in the summer. We are going to start digging the holes now even though the trees aren't ready to go in the ground. If we don't get more rain it will take a jackhammer to get through the clay and then it will be hard on the trees. The clay is lovely for the potters in the area but hell for gardeners. The holes will have to be larger than needed so we can add lots of good soil, compost and other good things.

On the way to Santa Rosa tomorrow I'm listening to "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress." It's what we are reading for bookgroup next week. It's about 2.5 hours each way so I should just about finish it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Green Dimes, A Terrapass and Climate Change

No it's not a song title. Behind those words are companies helping to clean up the environment. My brother, told me about both of them. I signed up today

Green Dimes will help you get rid of junk mail including catalogues; they also plant trees when you join; we all know we need more trees. Go to for more information.

The purpose of Terrapass is to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere thus reducing climate change. They do it by funding clean energy and efficiency projects. The money to do that comes from people who buy "Terrapasses." Go to for more information.

I bought an "Around Town Terrapass" for my Prius. I paid $29.95 to remove the 6,000 pounds of CO2 that my car produces each year. I want to get one for our house too, but I need to discuss it with Kerry first. You can also buy them for flights. I'm going to get one for our trip to Costa Rica. It's called the "Puddle Jumper Pass" and it's only $9.95.

Al Gore (An Inconvenient Truth) has terrapasses for his home, cars and flights. Some of you may have read newspaper reports about the energy bill for his very large home. The right wing media have called him a hypocrite for creating all that CO2 at his home. But his terrapasses will help plant trees and cover landfills to prevent methane getting into the air. Methane is worse than CO2.

I'll get down off my soapbox now; but it did feel good to buy a terrapass for my car.

The Tale Of The Curly Willow

With two ponds on our property, we can grow lots of willow trees because they need lots of water and you can plant the willows close to the water. A good friend of ours gave us some curly willow branches (tree shown here). We put them in water as directed and waited for them to leaf out. With leaves on them we put them in a big pot to develop stronger roots. And then they died; we didn't water them enough. So she gave us some more branches. We managed to kill them too.

Everything I read on Google said that anybody can grow these things. Well, not us.

But our friend did not give up on us; that's why she's a friend. A few months ago she and her husband arrived with a large load of very tall (many over 6 feet) curly willow branches; seventeen branches in all. We were determined to get these puppies to leaf out. We filled a large plastic garbage can with water and stuck all 17 in there.

About a week ago I noticed that all of them were leafing out. No cheering yet; we still had to get them into pots and get them to grow more roots. Well, they have been in pots for two days and they are still leafing out. I'm watching them like a hawk.

We are going to give them a month in the pots and then plant them at various places around the ponds. I want to get them in the ground long before our first heatwave hits. Now would be a good time to pray to the curly willow goddess.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Little Bit of Ranting And Compassion

First the ranting; Scooter Libby was found guilty by a jury of his peers. That's the American way of justice. The discussion now that he might be pardoned sickens me. To quote the New York Times editorial: "It (the verdict) was another reminder of how precious the American judicial system is, at a time when it is under serious attack from the same administration Mr. Libby served. That administration is systematically denying the right of counsel, the right to evidence and even the right to be tried to scores of prisoners who may have committed no crimes at all."

I've dealt with the Bush administration by being a turtle; I've pulled into my shell and ignored it because it was too painful to hear. We all teach our children that lying is wrong; no matter what you want to accomplish it is just dead wrong (still into semicolons). Apparently the current administration didn't get that memo; lying is a way of life. I hope that Libby goes to jail for a very long time just like the folks at Enron who lied and stole the lives right out from under their employees. How many people have had their lives stolen by dying in an unjustified war? Too many to count.

What gets me most is the arrogance; they think they have the right to lie based on whatever misguided objectives they have. Anyway, I'm pissed and not about to forget it. My turtle shell has cracked; my neck is out.

Now for the compassion; this involves a turtle as well. Turtle Doug saw his new doctor today to get his blood test results. Not good. Most of all his PSA (prostate problems) was way to high. His doctor referred him to a urologist nearby. Plus his liver enzymes are way too high and his doctor doesn't know if it's the Lipitor or his penchant for good whiskey. His cholesterol, which the Lipitor is supposed to handle, is too high also. I don't think the doctor scored a lot of points when he told Doug he should stop "galavanting around the country" and settle down. That has nothing to do with his blood results. The only good news is that he doesn't have diabetes. So tonight I made big salads for the two men in my life; Doug drank water and Kerry had a beer. Getting old really sucks. Tomorrow he calls the urologist.

The other point of compasion is for a fellow blogger; creamy
She and her husband have been trying to have a baby for a long time. She got to seven weeks this time, and then the baby died. Tomorrow she has a D&C. The outpouring of support and compassion for this woman who lives with her husband, Bob, in southern Indiana has been
wonderful. Blogging may feel anonymous, but when it comes down to it, we live together as a community and support our fellow bloggers.

So that's all tonight. I want Libby in prison, I want Doug to be healthy and I want Creamy Silver (Jen) and her husband to have a baby. It doesn't sound like too much to ask.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Freckles And Food

One of the things I like best about Kate are her freckles. I've had freckles my whole life so I can easily bond with someone who has her own brand of freckles. Here she is in an alert pose either listening or sniffing for something on our property or maybe staring down the marauding Jack Russell Terriers who live next door.

Not much excitment this weekend. Friday night we went to Lincoln Produce Market for their monthly wine tasting. Kerry belongs to the wine club. We tasted five Pinot Noirs and had a few appetizers. Then Turtle Doug, Kerry and I went to Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ. I had the beef ribs which were yummy. I forgot to take my Zantac before going to bed so about 3 a.m. I had a reminder of just how delicious they were. Once the Zantac kicked in I dozed off until around 9.

Yesterday Doug and I ran errands. Kerry was at his photo class. Kate was in the hatchback part of my Prius. We bought lottery tickets. Our mega lottery will be $243 million on Tuesday night. If I don't write anything for a while you will know why.

Last night I cooked this delicious risotto with cauliflower. The cauliflower pretty much disappears into the risotto because it cooks so long in the chicken brother that it turns to mush. I love eating risotto but it can be a pain to make because you have to keep stirring and adding more liquid. The topping for it was something called "panagrattato." Basically it's bread crumbs that have been browned with a bit of olive oil. This recipe first called for mixing the bread crumbs in the cuisinart with a small can of anchovies including the oil and some red pepper flakes. It turns out very crunchy and brown with hardly a bit of anchovy flavor and just a bit of a kick from the red pepper flakes. Doug wrinkled his nose when I bought the anchovies, but after dinner he admitted he couldn't even taste them. Panagrattato would be good on lots of things like tuna casserole and macaroni and cheese (made from scratch). I put a small piece of steamed salmon on top of the panagrattato. Leftovers for dinner tonight along with roasted asparagus.

We shopped at a new grocery store yesterday: Nuggets. I felt like I was in a Whole Foods store. The place was jammed with customers. The checkout clerk said that they ran out of shopping carts on the first day it opened, which was Feb. 28. They had staff on patrol in the parking lot to retrieve carts the minute they were emptied. Doug enjoyed the store as much as I did only he watched all the young mothers in tight jeans while I checked out the food. We are both good at what we do.

Today I'm going to fertilize the fruit trees, red maples, bulbs and vines. For those of you in the frozen part of this earth, March is a big month for gardeners in California. You fertilize stuff to give it a boost when things start to leaf out and bloom. Our miniature peach tree is already blooming.

Time to get on the treadmill and do my 30 minutes of fast walking. I've been quite religious about this; five times a week for now. I feel better for doing it.
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Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Joy Of Having A Photographer Visit Us

Doug, owner of the turtle and Miss kate, is a professional photographer. He sends me all kinds of pictures he's taken on our property; for which I'm very grateful. The photo on the left is our upper pond. His talent made our ugly, rickety dock look good, well maybe quaint. Even the parrot feather growing on top of the water looks nice. Don't believe it for a minute. It's nasty stuff. The weeping willow by the pond is just starting to leaf out.

Here are some very ugly drainage pipes; Doug has managed to make them look wonderful.

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And here's a picture of Jerome at sunset. Bertie is also there.