Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Peach Week

It's Peach Week!  All our tiny peaches are ripening at the same time.

 Last year, I let many of them fall.  But emboldened by my successful apple weeks last fall, I am on a quest to use some peaches every day.

Frank was the first to take on the task, making peach cobbler.  I did not get a picture of that.  Handy took a turn with peach ice cream.

Last night, peach salsa.

It's going to be hot today.  A tall glass of peach iced tea will be refreshing.  Therefore I need to make peach nectar!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Climbing the Wall

Ernest was the first to try the rock climbing.

Those toe shoes came in handy.

Posts will be Ernest-centric for a while, but that's OK isn't it?  Just a few pictures at a time.  I never got the rest of his Guatemala pictures posted because I wanted to do something big and comprehensive.  This time I'll try little posts.

UPDATE:  Oooh, I found another picture!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hit the Spot

It has become something of a tradition to take Ernest to In 'n' Out when he returns home from a trip. Do you know how delicious and tasty an In' n' Out burger is?  If you don't live in California (210 locations) Arizona (28), Nevada (16), Texas (15) or Utah (9), you don't know what you're missing.   The menu is limited to burgers and fries.  Everything is freshly cooked.  They even cut the french fries out of real potatoes right in front of the drive up windows. The burgers are best eaten right away, in the parking lot if you have to.  Don't try to take them home.  

However, Ernest returned from this trip at 10:30 a.m. and he wasn't quite ready for lunch. He suggested we drive for a while and go to The Spot in Carpinteria. This is where his dad got burgers as a little kid and it's still there.

So the burger hit the spot for sure.  And there were onion rings.

Go ahead, grab a ring.  He'll share.

Yes, he looks a little tired there.  24 hours of traveling will do that. He still had enough energy to take a bike ride when he got home, although he admitted that the giant burger was perhaps not the best thing to have eaten so soon before a ride.  Shh, we won't tell his coach.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Itinerary: India Part 3

We got a call from Ernest!  He had been on a hike and got bitten by a leech.  All is well:  a doctor cleaned it, the bleeding stopped, and there was no infection.

Amritsar, India
• Depart the mountains of Himachal Pradesh for the Punjab! Wear comfortable
clothing for the drive through the mountains to Amritsar, located on the historic
Grand Trunk Road.
• This evening engage yourself in community service at the Langar of the
Harmandir Sahib or “Golden Temple,” the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh

Agra, India
• Today, depart for Agra via Delhi. Board your flight to Delhi.  Upon landing, set out
by motor coach for Agra.
• Get oriented to the medieval city of Agra during your visit to the expansive Agra
Fort. Gain insight into the private lives of the Mughal Emperors as you wind your
way through the royal apartments.

Agra, India
• Weather permitting, rise early for a special sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal, one of
the new Seven Wonders of the World!
• Explore the majestic complex of gardens and buildings culminating in Shah
Jahan’s iconic monument to love, the Taj Mahal.  This protected UNESCO World
Heritage site blends perfect symmetry with stunning inlay work and marble
• Gain insight into the historic process of marble inlay work used to decorate the
Taj Mahal during a demonstration by local artisans.  This ancient craft is
considered a dying art and only practiced by a small number of families in Agra.
• This evening, return to Delhi and board your return flight to the United States.

And then there's this...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bacon Pie

There's bacon chocolate, bacon sundaes, bacon marmalade.  Why not bacon pie?  Or to be specific, bacon pie crust.

Last night I made quiche with my current new recipe.  I was about to mix up the pie crust in the food processor. (Ernest would be appalled because he is an old-school pastry blender man but he is not here right now.) There was the bacon sitting there, so I threw a few pieces in and pulverized them with the flour, then proceeded as usual.

It was a dee-licious masterpiece.  There was not a speck of crust leftover and you know how people usually leave some. Total cholesterol bomb, but what the heck.

Not to worry, though.  It was balanced by a salad entirely from my garden...lettuce, arugula, radishes and cherry tomatoes.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Itinerary: India, Part 2

Here is a link to People to People, the group Ernest is traveling with.

Their actual schedule may vary.  They may be ahead of themselves.  A Facebook message from a leader on Sunday morning (Sunday night for them) said they had already done the rafting, with the mountain climbing and rappelling to follow on Monday.  As I post this, Monday's almost over for them.  So who knows?  This is what was on the original schedule.

Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India
• Begin your mountain adventure!  Note: the order of activities may vary due to the
mountain weather conditions.
• Start your morning with an exploration of rural Manali villages.  Here, you will
experience the life styles of residents in this remote mountainous region.  Keep
your eyes out for passing yaks!
• Gain insight into life in the villages during a visit to the local temple and houses in
the area.  Meet a local family and receive a warm welcome over tea.
• Explore Kothi Village before boarding your motor coach for the Solang Valley.
• Ride by cable car ropeway to experience the snow and majestic views of the
Himalaya Mountains. Enjoy some mountain trekking in your beautiful
• Have the option to try your hand at zorbing (globe-riding, sphering, orbing), an
exciting recreational activity where participants roll downhill in a large orb,
generally made of transparent plastic on a gentle slope or a level surface.

Manali; Himachal Pradesh Region
• Drive to Kullu and gear up for your river rafting adventure!  White water rafting is
all about team work and learning to paddle a raft on light river rapids with your
expert guides. Prepare to get wet as you cross the river!

Dharamsala, India
• Visit a local market before departing for Dharamsala.  Enjoy the scenic beauty of
the region as you cross mountain passes along the way.
• Relax and enjoy free time this evening after your mountain travels.

Dharamsala, India
• Begin your morning early with a Kora walk starting from His Holiness the Dalai
Lama’s Temple and learn about the practice of Tibetan Buddhism in this region.
Your delegation will receive a special welcome and introduction to Buddhism
from one of the high lamas.
• Enjoy the opportunity to interact with the children of the TCV (Tibetan Children’s
Village) during a special People to People moment.
• Participate in an educational workshop at the Norbulinka, Tibetan Cultural
• In the evening, enjoy the opportunity to meet with a local family and experience a
traditional cooking demonstration.
• Learn about local Tibetan traditions during a special cultural performance.

Dharamsala, India
• This morning, participate the Clean Upper Dharamsala Project through the
Tibetan Welfare Office.  Learn about environmental issues challenging the
population of the city including waste management. Work to help maintain areas
along the kora and around the Temple.
• Visit the Paper Factory and gain insight into how they are using collected
garbage to make recycled products. Recycling is one of the ongoing major
challenges to Indian cities.
• Continue serving the community in Dharamsala when you visit to a local
government school.  Work alongside students and get your hands dirty when you
take part in a service project to help improve the school facilities.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Itinerary: India, Part 1

Ernest left for India on the 10th and arrived on the 11th but the trip really starts today.  Or started for their today 12.5 (?) hours ago.

Note to Self: Self, if you have insomnia on a night a beloved child is flying halfway across the globe, do not IREPEATDONOT look on one of those flight tracking sites at 3 am. Because when it looks like the flight rerouted partway through Europe and then the green line stops in between two unfamiliar countries in what looks like a turbulent part of the world, Self's heart stops. In the morning, Self look at a better map and it is really the border between Georgia/Albania but that stopped green line still does Self's heart no good. And then Self thanks her lucky stars for Facebook, where a group leader just blackberried that they had arrived safely even before other websites had the information. And Self mentally screams at the flight tracker's misinformation and vows that she will not look at the site again, but Self knows a self can't help herself and will look again when said beloved child is on the way home.

It's so hard to make that Self quiet, isn't it.

SO!  Ernest's done some sightseeing already today!

Old and New Delhi, India
• Begin your first day in India with a visit to Old Delhi.
• Visit Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India.  Explore the winding streets of
Old Delhi by rickshaw.
• Take in the iconic Red Fort, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.  
• Enjoy a walk through the grounds of the Raj Ghat Memorial commemorating
great leaders including Mahatma Ghandi and Indira Ghandi.  View the black
marble platform marking the location of Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation, now lit by
an eternal flame celebrating the “father of the nation.”
• Discover Humayun’s Tomb, the most beautiful monument in the city.
• Stop at India Gate War Memorial and pass Parliament as you discover India’s
modern political history.
• Experience the Qutab Minar, a tall tower built by conquering Mughal leaders
which is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Next, some service work.

New Delhi, India
• Explore new levels of service learning at Deepalaya Gram, Gusbethi Village.
• Experience an exclusive day long program specially designed for People to
People Student Ambassadors to be immersed in service work with local students
and build lasting relationships through cultural exchange.
• Student will break into smaller groups and assist in a variety of roles from
teaching English to helping with typing and computer skills.
• After lunch, try your hand at cricket. Learn some rules of the game and play a
friendly match against students at the school.
• Roll up your sleeves and prepare to help repair and paint classrooms at the
school.   Your work will be greatly appreciated by the students and teachers at
the school!

Shimla, India
• Learn about the colonial history of the British Empire during your visit to Shimla,
the summer capital of British India.
• Stroll through the town and see how life in Shimla revolves around the busy mall
road in the center of town.
• Your Delegation Manager will share the highlights of the town during your visit to
the Christ Church, Gaiety Theater and the Vice Regal Lodge.

Manali; Himachal Pradesh Region
• This morning, say goodbye to Shimla and board your motor coach for Manali!
• Enjoy a mountain drive and the dramatic scenery of this region as you learn
about the local people and the area’s flora and fauna.
• Relax this evening and take some time to catch up on your journaling

Ok, I am breathing deeply and calmly and trying to relax too.  More itinerary in a few days!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tick Tock

As much as I would love to turn back the clock to before the events of this last week, of course I can't.  Tick tock tick tock.  Life moves on and so do the plans that we have made.

Ernest has embarked on another trip with People to People.  He will be spending 2 weeks in India and is in transit now.  I will be posting his itinerary in sections every few days.

It's hard to let him go every single time, but this time he was even more precious to me.  Knowing this, he gave me less of a hard time about my need to take the "Bye, Mom" picture.  (20082009 and 2010).

UPDATE:  I have evidence he made it to Newark.  Him of the glowing shoes in the center!    They were supposed to wear conservative shoes so I hope those yellow and black shoes with toes don't get him into trouble.  The other pair is in the checked luggage.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

A Tragic Turn

While my prescheduled posts have happily paraded themselves onto the internet, life at home has taken a tragic turn.

We lost our beloved McQueen.  Sadly, accidentally, in the deep dark night.  No teen suicide, drugs, or foul play involved. Perhaps a concussion from a stupid bike stunt the week before played a part.  Nuff said.   Giving the family the privacy that celebrities beg for.  

He was so loved by the entire town.  We had an event on Sunday.  It started with a few kids wanting to have hot dogs and take a bike ride in the park in his memory...and ended with a community sharing their love and memories on a lovely Sunday afternoon.

When it was time for speakers, "Mr. T," his seven year old brother spoke first.  "I love my brother."  I didn't hear the rest because my heart was already broken.  And stupidly for me, I was trying to get rid of a push pin that had punctured one of Mr. T's crocs. Earlier he told me I should not throw it away, that we needed to save it to use again  (little mr. reuse or recycle) so when he got up to speak I went to pin it on a board.  Stupid me.  I wished I had not paid attention to Mr. T's orders, but listened to his words about his brother instead.    But I did pay attention during the worst, hardest, most difficult time.  I held Mr. T as he cried at 3:30 am on the night his brother died, while his parents had to deal with their worst nightmare.  

Hello English teachers, I was looking for synonyms for worst so as not to seem repetitive but I can tell you right now there is nothing worse than worst.  And as bad as my worst feels, it is no where near what his parents' worst is.  

My heart was broken yet again when Mr. T told me, "I don't want to be an only child."  I told him that McQueen would always be his brother.  And Frank and Ernest have vowed to always be there for him.  There's also a whole community of big brothers and sisters.  

McQueen was the town mascot.  Everyone knew him.  His orthodontist reminisced that thinking about his future, she could see him as the mayor.  He was a constant presence on his bike.  Shopkeepers would wave as he went by.  I know from personal experience, if I saw him on his bike I waved and went home smiling.  

Many spoke about his love of bikes.  But what about the Volkswagens?  That was shared by Mr. Rick, the school bus driver.  Kids that didn't know him that well regretted their loss.  One young man (thank you C.J.) composed and rapped his own tribute.  Art students were grateful for his support of their beautiful chalk art projects.  One of the bike shop dudes regretted he hadn't taken McQueen on a real trail ride, but we let him know that Ernest and McQueen had been on a real trail for their last ride together 2 weeks ago.  They were looking forward to more rides.   Another anecdote:  at freshman orientation when asked about their favorite food, our sweet guy immediately yelled out, "CANDY!!!"

I leave you with a parade of pictures of a dear spirit. I think I might possibly believe in heaven if there was a chance I could see him there again.

Say cheese?  Cause we've just eaten a cheesy pizza?

They're not couch potatoes.  They're couch sweetie patooties.  

This is unusually pensive.

What is in that sand?  Treasure?  

The end of the awesomest water battle ever.

Crying....  And missing him. Forever and ever, we love you McQueen.  

Friday, July 06, 2012

Saturday Photohunt: Zany

Oh, Saturday PhotoHunt, I have missed you.  How delightful to come back to ZANY!

The zaniest thing I have seen lately were the cave people on the skyway at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  I showed the caveman earlier.  Here is the cavewoman, who first caught my eye.

I love the bright colors in the next one.  No retouching, this was straight out of the camera. (They always are, because I'm too lazy to learn to photoshop.)  That camera works miracles.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

My Buddy's Counterpoint

The French bitch lies.

I do all her dirty work. She's the one who makes me meow in the morning. Go wake the feeders, she tells me. She pushes me ahead of her, then hides behind the door and makes it look like it was all my idea.  Then they think I am the greedy one.  Well, I admit I do like a hearty meal now and then.

At least the woman loves me.  I think she knows the truth.

In return, I'm so helpful to her.  Look how I saved this plaything from rolling off the table.

  I earn my keep around here, I tell you.

--- Homer

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Je Réfute Henri

Hmphf, sniffs Queen Francine.  We are not amused.  Nous ne sommes pas amusés, if you want to get all French about it.

That Henri, he thinks he has the market on misery. We beg to differ.  His bete noire may be l'Imbecile Blanc, but we have to put up with le Gros Poilu, the Fat Hairy One.

And even worse, there is our evil doppelganger who appears nightly outside the invisible barrier.  The woman feeds it.  How dare she!

We are incensed.

We are much more beautiful, n'est ce pas?

And yet there are times when life is not as bad as Henri depicts.  Sometimes a patch of sunlight lights up our glorious fur and our world happily turns upside down.

This is when we, Queen Francine, become Fifi and accept petting.  Laisser le ronronnement* commence.  Purrrrrr.  Purrrrrr.  Purrrrrr.  Purrrrrr.  Purrrrrr.  Purrrrrr.  Purrrrrr.


Monday, July 02, 2012

Road Trip: Highway One Continued

Before we leave Big Sur, take a look at this 1965 featurette, narrated by Richard Burton, if you have time.

Back on the road, we could see a lot of construction at the southern end of the twisty windy drive.

"What are they doing, building Minas Tirith?" my husband said.  Or maybe it's Helm's Deep.

We followed the line of cars across the SLO County line and past Ragged Point. They were almost all turning right to the elephant seal viewing area. Handy was so tempted to drive on past, but how can you pass the elephant seals, I ask you?

Finally, the road opened up and there was no traffic in front of him.  Handy was happy.

But he's not this bad...