Posts Tagged ‘heat’


Summer has arrived with a vengeance here in Northern California, giving barely a nod to spring. One weekend we had snow, the next the asphalt was melting. With all the strange weather going on all over the world it is hard to deny global warming is progressing, though some persist in insisting this is so. Our glaciers are melting, our oceans temperatures are rising. I cannot for the life of me understand how sticking our heads in the sand and pretending it is not happening will make it go away. My rant for the day.

As a kid summer was at time of year highly anticipated. School doors shut for the season, warm sunny days, a glistening pool in the back yard. Life was good. Most of my life I’ve been a sun bunny. Spending my middle school and high school years in Southern California, the majority of my summer vacation was spent at one of the many beaches within driving distance from my house. Those were glorious days looking back. Blissfully innocent about the effects of the sun on our skin, we slathered ourselves with a lethal concoction of baby oil and iodine and spent hours coaxing the sun to turn our bodies a lovely shade of golden brown.

Though I’m sure not much has changed, the beaches somehow seemed safer back then. Other than an occasional incident of a swimmer caught in a riptide or someone getting a serious sunburn, I don’t remember hearing about many incidents of shark sightings or attacks, though I’m sure there were many such events. With no social media to propel stories along the information highway was much slower relying on word of mouth, nightly news, or newspapers to provide information. Southern California beaches lured sunbathers with warm water, miles of sun-kissed sand and, particularly in the Laguna Beach area, plentiful caves and tide pools to explore.


My first child began her descent into the world in Laguna Beach. The first labor pain made itself known half way up a sheer staircase at a beach aptly named “1,000 Steps”. One pain following another I willed my overripe body to continue the uphill climb. By the time I reached street level I found myself praying for a helicopter to whisk me off to the nearest hospital. An hour and a half after I arrived at the hospital by our house my daughter arrived, leaving me to wonder if that last great effort up the endless steps hadn’t helped to hasten the delivery.

No matter whether on the east coast or the west the ocean is where I find peace. The only real regret I have about not finding wealth and fame (not that I looked very hard) is not having the wherewithal to buy a house with a panoramic view of the sea. How glorious it would be to open the door each morning to a salty sea breeze. To sit on the deck with your fingers wrapped around a hot cup of morning coffee and take in the sounds of waves crashing against the shore. Ahhhhhh.


As a child the ocean was my backdrop. At the first sign of spring I would head down the hill towards the thin strand of rocky beach stretching behind our house. Sitting on a rock I would unlace my shoes and dip my toes into the icy water.


I have had the opportunity to live on the water since, but never again on the ocean. When my children were in high school, my daughter entering her senior year and my son his junior, I rented a beautiful home in a man-made water community in Northern California on the Sacramento Delta called Discovery Bay. The house was second in on the first water cul-de-sac in a series of the same winding about the community. Our boat had been sold several years before so we used the dock mainly for fishing or launching the variety of floats and water toys stored in a massive bin on the middle deck. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mornings I would seat myself in my lawn chair to watch the horizon for the first hint of the sun making an entrance for the day. Usually Barnaby the golden retriever padded down to join me keeping a watchful eye out for a duck in the vicinity or a stray cat sleeping under a deck.

There’s something so calming and soul soothing about being close to water. If responsibilities and family didn’t hold me where I am, I would find a houseboat along a waterway somewhere and drop a line over the rail.On a day such as today where the thermometer is projected to reach record highs, the idea floats around in my brain like a bingo ball bouncing in a cage.

Should reincarnation be an option, I am definitely going to rethink being rich and famous just to allow me to live somewhere with salt in the air.

This cole slaw is positively decadent. I served it with tuna croquettes and a nicoise salad and it disappeared quickly.

Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

6 cups finely chopped shredded cabbage
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. Sriracha sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. celery salt

Mix together the cabbage, blue cheese, and onion in large mixing bowl.

Whisk together remaining ingredients to make dressing. Pour over cabbage 1 hour prior to serving and refrigerate.

Serves 6

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finalSaturday we were invited to a friend’s milestone birthday party. The location, our old stomping grounds, took us an hour and a half to get to. It was a particularly gorgeous summer day so we enjoyed the drive, our time at the party with old friends, and the return trip. On the way back up the hill towards home a huge plume of smoke, not visible when we left, loomed beyond the mountains. A stab of fear nibbled at the back of my neck. Summer is not our friend here in parched Northern California this year. The tree roots are reaching out for water and the ground is easy prey for a stray spark or a carelessly tossed cigarette. Very unnerving. For me, I will be glad when summer closes her books for 2015 come fall. Hopefully the much touted El Nino will swoop down with a vengeance and bring us the much-needed water we are waiting for. Unfortunately an onslaught of rain in drought areas brings with it the threat of flash flooding and landslides, but our reservoirs and springs are dangerously low so this will have to be the bad with the good to bring our water levels back up to where they should be.

It is now nearly six days into the fire and containment is at 50%. The exhausted firefighters are working in steep terrain and the temps today are threatening to soar up above 100 degrees in Sacramento for the third day in a row. Whew. Suddenly I am restless and yearning for a vacation. Definitely I’m putting this on the calendar some time this year. Our last real vacation was too far back to remember.

This week is one of those frustrating weeks where no matter what I am doing, things seem to go south. Perhaps it is that I have my fingers in too many pies at the moment. I can hear my grandmother cautioning me “it is better to do one thing well, than many things poorly”. Ah yes. Well, Gam, here I am busily doing a lot of things half assed. I’m sure you’d be proud. Actually my grandmother would never have said ass, not even if referring to a donkey. Never did I know her to swear, in my presence at least. When totally frustrated she simply said, “mercy”. That’s telling them, Gam.

Sometimes swearing just comes naturally. When you’ve stubbed your toe and stars are dancing in front of your eyes, “darn it” doesn’t seem to adequately cover the situation. I try to use foul language sparingly but every once in a while when the situation dictates my mouth embarks on a rampage without me.

Truth is I love language, foul or not. Sometimes I cringe when I hear it butchered. I can’t figure out when it began but new words or phrases are becoming the norm such as “I seen it” or “tooken”. Tooken is now in the dictionary from what I understand. It is described as a non-standard version of took or taken. “Mercy”, as Gam would put it.

Grammar and spelling are not emphasized as they once were in schools. Not in school myself for some time, this is second-hand information. However, I believe it to be fairly accurate. With the advent of texting, new words, abbreviated words, and a specific texting language have emerged. Certainly geography is not pushed either, or at least not in one of my grandchildren’s school. I asked him if he new where British Columbia was during a discussion of a visit to the province. His response was “north of the U.S”. Pleased he was correct, he went on to call it a state rather than a province and was totally unaware there were any more provinces other than British Columbia existing in Canada. Sigh. Thankfully, most of the world has already been explored so this generation won’t be taxed with taking out any expeditions to discover new lands any time soon. Unless, of course, it involves space exploration and hopefully someone will have included a GPS or Mapquest directions on where to go once the moon is in the rear mirror.

Someone asked me once if I would go on a space ship if the price of a ticket was included in the invitation. Nope. Not because I don’t have the nerve, the interest, or the curiosity. Claustrophobic people are not a welcome inclusion on any trip involving closed doors with no escape. Trust me on this. Back a few years I was far worse. There were times when flying often for my job I had to suppress the urge when the doors were closed to run screaming down the center aisle of the plane screaming “stop this thing, I have to get off”! The first, and might I say last, time I went on Space Mountain at Disneyland I was so freaked out by the time I got off I wished fervently Walt had thought to include bars in his plans for Main Street along with ice cream parlours. Another time in the park I went in to see Captain EO in 3D with Michael Jackson. Doors closed all around me. Darkness descended and suddenly things were flying in my face and my overstimulated mind began screaming “RUN, SAVE YOURSELF!”. Probably I was one of the few people visiting the attraction who left in the middle of the show. Thankfully, a Disney elf took pity on me and got me out a door before I went postal.

I do love Disneyland. Many fond memories were created there when I was young. My son and his brood are going next week. He told me he could go on a cruise for the cost of three days in the park. Wow. I remember, dating myself again, when tickets were lettered A-E and you could do the whole park for $30 a person. To say it’s been a while since I’ve been there would be underlined by the fact I wasn’t aware there was a California side to the park. This is where they’ll be staying. He said the hotel spared no expense in making you feel your money is well spent even including luggage tags with Mickey’s visage on the front. What a great marketing idea. Little touches like that ease the pain a bit. A check would ease it more.

At any rate, in spite of the soaring temps I baked a pie. It was at 4:30 a.m. so much cooler that time of day. This is an old recipe from Rick’s first restaurant. Definitely has a yum factor.

1Brandy Alexander Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust, baked and cooled
3 eggs, separated
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/8 cup brandy
1/2 cup creme de cacao
1 cup heavy cream, beaten
Whipped Cream

Pour water in medium saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over top. Add 1/3 cup sugar, salt, and 3 egg yolks. Stir to mix well. Over lo heat cook and stir until mixture thickens. Do not boil.

Stir in brandy and creme de cacao. Chill over bowl of ice until mixture mounds slightly.

Beat egg whites until glossy. Beat in remaining 1/3 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff. Fold into thickened gelatin mixture. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into crust and chill for several hours. Top with more whipped cream and raspberries.

Graham Cracker Crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup white sugar
6 Tbsp. melted butter

Mix ingredients well together. Press into bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake for 8 mins. Cool on wire rack.

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