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Eating the Sun


We’re overrun with Lemon Boy tomatoes, the yellow variety with a slight tang that makes them delicious.  My favorite way to eat them is Harriet the Spy style, on wheat bread with a thin scrim of mayo.

Lemon Boys 8-12-16

Did you read Harriet the Spy as a child?  If so, you’ll recall that she ate nothing but tomato sandwiches.  I credit Harriet with my desire to become a writer. She spied on people around her, recording her deadly observations about them in her composition book.

Harriet the Spy

While pregnant with Christopher 21 years ago this summer, I ate Lemon Boy tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  When he was little, he was a regular in our backyard garden, uprooting a carrot, onion, or “garlics” as he called them.  I used to tell him that eating so many Lemon Boys while I was expecting him was the reason he was such a sweet, nice boy — it was like eating the sun.

Christopher with onion

Christopher is visiting us for a couple of days this weekend, on a short break from his summer jobs in San Diego.  Here he is with his cousin Savannah, at our impromptu dinner party last night.

CJD and SJD 8-11-16

Ironically, he loathes tomatoes, carefully picking them out of the salad and scraping them from his slice of pizza.  He wouldn’t eat a Lemon Boy if you paid him. Despite that aversion, having him around even for a short time is like sunshine in our lives.

Dalai Lama in the Campsite

This advice from the Dalai Lama was on a magnetic sign stuck to a bear box in the backpackers’ campsite in Tuolumne Meadows, where David and I stayed the night before we set out on the trail for Clouds Rest.

Be Stoked

It was a long and beautiful climb, with a slightly nerve-wracking bit at the end described as a “knife edge.” It wasn’t quite that perilous, but I didn’t look down on that part of the trail.

A Long Way Down CR

I loved that this hiker made tea at the top, setting out these festive red cups.  At 9,926 feet, this nicety seemed especially pleasing.

Time for Tea

The day was glorious and clear, so we had the full 360 degree view from the summit. Evidently, on some days the clouds do indeed rest on the top of the mountain and obscure everything, so we were lucky.

Not for Nothing Do They Call It

On our last backpacking trip to Ten Lakes I loaded up my pack with too much food and clothing. My determination not to make the same mistake meant that I was hungry and cold some of the time, but that was better than staggering under the weight of a too-heavy pack.

We laughed at the campers pictured on this dehydrated meal package—so clean and jolly!

Dried Food Must Be Good

These ginger candies are said to help prevent altitude sickness. Both of us had slight bouts of nausea, headache, and light-headedness, but not too bad.

Gin Gins

We didn’t encounter a single bear on the trail or in our campsites, even though the ranger warned us before we set out that the trail to Clouds Rest is “an active bear corridor.” However, after four days when we got back down to the trailhead, we saw that a bear had investigated our car. No doubt, he or she was looking for eats but thankfully went on without breaking in.

Bear Wants Into the Prius

Running water, clean clothes, and a comfortable bed are always a welcome part of getting back to civilization. Not so the barrage of terrible news after a week of a complete media blackout. To “be stoked” in such discouraging times, I’ll create a haven in my mind with the memory of this alpine meadow.

Gorgeous Stream





A Few Things to Be Glad About

As the name of this blog implies, any day on the green side of the grass is a reason to be glad. Here are a few more for today.

The frilly elegance of this volunteer gladiolus that appeared in the yard. We have no idea how the lone stalk got there, because neither of us remembers planting any glad bulbs. Nevertheless, we’ll welcome its showy presence.


Volunteer on the Moccasin Trail in a shocking pink helmet. His fashion serves as a festive tribute to the fact that seven years after the devastating Station Fire, the area is slowly healing.



Good health except for poodle dog bush rash. The deceptively pretty poodle dog bush blooms only after a fire, and causes severe dermatitis. It’s akin to poison oak but ratcheted up a few. I must have brushed up against some of it Saturday, because my left leg is a bubbly, itchy mess. However, on the scale of possible health problems this is very small indeed, so I’ve decided to be glad about that.

Poodle dog bush


Who’s Not Calling, Please?

After one look at the bill from Frontier Communications, which recently took over for Verizon in our area, David called and canceled our landline and TV service. We had one of those “bundled” packages, the cost of which had soared. Grimly resolute, David waited on hold for more than an hour, but finally got through to break the deal. One second after the call, the phone was dead and the TV blank and inoperative.


I won’t miss the TV because I never watched it, something I say cautiously because that statement can have a ring of snobbery.  It’s not as if I’m reading Proust in the original or writing a novel  instead of tuning in to Game of Thrones; it just never occurs to me to turn the TV on. And now I can’t.

I pity all those telemarketers and robocallers who won’t be able to reach us today on the home phone. No more home security pitches, threats of a warrant for my arrest from fake IRS agents, or chirpy recorded voices promising lower credit card interest rates.

I’m also nostalgic for those old, heavy Bakelite telephones, and calls that might bring an invitation or a connection with a relative or friend who’d been out of touch.  I’m remembering having to ration and keep long distance calls short, always made on Sundays after 5 p.m. when rates were lowest. And running to answer the phone, wondering who was calling. I also wouldn’t mind a day with a slow enough pace that I could actually take the seeming infinity to call someone by dialing a number on a rotary phone.

And while I’m at it pining for things that are no more, I wish I had the brain and memory I once did, with the long-gone ability to store and rattle off phone numbers at will.

What phone call from the past are you remembering today?





Siblings: Unrivaled Relationships

Today is Siblings Day.  Our relationships with brothers and sisters are the longest—and often the most complex—we have. I was lucky to be a middle child. Depending on my mood, I could join Richard in forming large battalions with his green plastic Army men or sneak sugar from the kitchen in order to stage an elaborate, imaginary high tea with Mary.


This photo is undated, but I’m guessing we were 3, 5, and 7. Richard’s knees are banged up, I seem very pleased with my perch on that tricycle, and Mary is keeping her distance and her eye on the ball, perhaps wanting to separate a bit from us.

Of course we couldn’t know then that we wouldn’t grow old together, that Mary would be taken from us.

My friend and colleague Kristen Spalding understands the grief of losing a sibling—her sister Allie died at 12 of leukemia. Kristen formed Allie’s Helping Hands, a nonprofit organization that provides support for siblings of ill children by arranging days of play and fun.

Here, Kristen tells about her passion and empathy that led her to create Allie’s helping hands:

Call or hug your sibs today.  If you know a family who has an ill child with siblings, tell them about Allie’s Helping Hands.


Yesterday we were invited to Easter lunch by a lovely young couple we met last year when we volunteered for the Homeless Count in Long Beach. They have a 9-month-old baby, fat and merry.

The invitation was an antidote to feeling slightly forlorn. Christopher was here last week on spring break, and left at midday to finish out his junior year, just before we went to lunch with our friends. It seems like the blink of an eye since he was in a high chair, and we would host the Easter gathering at our house. Time, age, infirmity, death and divorce have refashioned all that.

At lunch, we all laughed as the baby pulverized avocado with his tiny fists and made a fearsome mess of it.  It felt odd, too, to be a generation away and to think, “That’s not how we did it.”  Evidently “self-feeding” has been the trend for at least seven or eight years – no more spoon-feeding.  The thinking is that spoon-fed kids are potentially obese and grow up to be picky eaters.

I could almost hear myself say in a creaky voice while brandishing a cane, “In my day, we fed our kids with a spoon.”

Spoon Fed




Just Pound It Out

Not much to look at, but I hope it will taste good.  And maybe its appearance will approve when I put it on a plate and dust it with confectioner’s sugar.


I’ve been trying to write a story about stolen recipes ever since I read this NY Times article about Dora Charles, the complexities of her relationship with Paula Deen, and ownership of kitchen secrets. My story is only sputtering along, but today I decided to make the Lost and Found Lemon Poundcake described in the article.

At best I’m only a serviceable cook, but I’m a very marginal baker. I love sweet baked goods but rarely attempt them, discouraged by the rocklike cookies, gummy cakes, greasy piecrusts, and leaden biscuits I’ve turned out over the years.

This cake packs more butter and eggs in it than I would normally consume in two months.  David and I are setting out for Joshua Tree tomorrow, so I’ll bring some of it despite the fact that it’s very unlikely and impractical camping fare.

I had fun making the cake, even though the strenuous mixing wore out my arm. If it tastes decent, it will be because the essence of my mother, my sister, and David’s great-aunt Marie helped me along. I used a cake spatula, electric mixer, and mixing bowl belonging to them respectively.

And if it’s a flop, it’s OK. Some more ideas on how to fix my story came to me as I stirred.