Sea Ranch Chapel

Last year, we encountered this delightful building. It is a nondenominational chapel and is located along Route 1 in the unincorporated community of Sea Ranch, in Sonoma county. It is open to the public every day and is an inspiring place to meditate, contemplate or pray. It is emblematic of northern California. A local told us about the place and we visited it on our way out of town. It has the look and feel of something out of Middle Earth and feels totally organic, without hardly any straight lines or right angles to be found.

This morning, we walked in Tower Grove Park. This park has hundreds of varieties of different trees and is wonderfully shady on hot and sultry summer days. There are a number of tree circles within the park and we observed a woman doing Tai Chi within one of these tree-henges. She looked spiritual while performing her stylized martial exercises.

Another group of people were getting a vigorous workout. There are a set of tennis courts in the park that we pass by every time that we walk there, but today I noticed something odd about some of them. They were smaller than a regulation tennis court. It turns out that they are pickleball courts. Pickleball is a mashup of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. A Sixties invention, the game uses something like a wiffleball and ping-pong paddles for play. It was invented by a father who while trying to entertain his bored children hit upon this novel game, when he couldn’t find their family badminton racquets and shuttlecock.

Around town, Forest Park with all of its attractions like the museums and the zoo, is also-known-as the front yard of Saint Louis, while Tower Grove Park, with its smaller and more intimate venues is known as the town’s backyard. On this holiday weekend, with everything else that is going on this year, staying home, in the backyard seems to be the thing to do. Speaking of yards, ours could use a little love and feeding this weekend too. 

Food Glorious Food

The Last Supper, Andy Warhol, 1986

I have yet to explore the art of making a Quarantini, but before this pandemic is over I’ll likely get there. With Anne and I living home alone now and not getting out much, our new Coronavirus lifestyle has had a silver lining of sorts. It has begot a culinary renaissance in our kitchen. I’ve been doing the cooking around here since even before the plague struck. Back before, I would shop daily, for whatever, I felt like eating that day. It was all very spur of the moment. The amount of planning involved in designing a meal might boil down to sighting something new and scrumptious looking in the grocery aisles that very day, but I have not ventured into those aisles since March.

Instead I have switched to Instacart for my grocery shopping needs. Sometimes, especially in the early days, this kind of remote shopping led to both surprises and disappointments. I have yet to figure out how we were gifted a gallon of vinegar. It wasn’t ordered or paid for, at least not by me and even still while unpacking the latest order, I find ordered items missing, because they were out-of-stock. This was especially prevalent in those chaotic first weeks of the lockdown. Now though, things seem to be back to normal or at least the new normal and through use I have become more adept at using Instacart’s website.

The one thing that this remote shopping regimen has forced me to do is to plan ahead and surprise-surprise one tried and true tool for this endeavor is the lowly recipe. While anathema to my winging-it food prep philosophy, I have come to see the wisdom of finding and following a recipe. To date this month I have followed a NYT recipe for crispy sour cream and onion chicken, twice, what I have taken to calling panko chicken. With each iteration it get better and easier to prepare. I’ve ordered ingredients for a third try which should be better than the last. This is like my avocado toast recipe that I have made so many times that I can almost make in my sleep now and it comes out perfect every time.

Likewise, I’ve made gazpacho and pesto following recipes that I’ve found online. I’ve also ordered ingredients to make each of these again. Practice makes perfect. It being officially summertime, produce is as fine as it will every be now. Today, I’ve found a another NYT recipe to try, maque choux. It is a Cajun creole dish with Native American roots. Corn based with plenty of peppers and other vegetables, I looking forward to trying it today, after Instacart arrives.  

Looking for Klingons

Looking for Klingons

As we near the halfway mark of 2020, 2019 is looking pretty good about now. We didn’t know how good we really had it back then. The last six months have been a wakeup call. Below please find a more conventional photo of the Bean. Actually, this week has been pretty good, nice weather allowed plenty of walks, just me and my Covid cutie. Cough on me, baby! Yea, that’s the way I like it. 

The boys are preparing to go to the Cabin. David and Maren will leave for their vacation first and drive via upstate New York, visit Maren’s folks and scout out future wedding venues there. Later Dan and Britt will drive straight through to Michigan and actually arrive at the cabin first. They’ll all meet up together at the cabin for a week or two. We plan on going to the cabin, but later next month. Big shout to Jane for all of the help that she has provided us in this endeavor!

I made good on my promise to myself and got outside to do home improvement. Not much today, but baby steps, baby steps. I power washed the back porch and then went on to wash the RAV4 exterior and the WeatherTech floor mats. It is still more than a month, before we will leave town, but I couldn’t wait to start getting ready. I might gas up the car tomorrow, even though we still have almost half of the tank that was last filled in March. I might also get some cash from the money machine. The three worn dollar bills that have been in my wallet for the last few months are feeling lonely and neglected. There is a lot of logistics to work through yet, but anticipation is half the joy of a vacation. At least it was when I used to have only a few weeks off every year.

Our plan is to drive straight to the cabin with only the minimum of gas and potty stops. It looks like all the pertinent state rest stops are open and should be safest to use, of course with masks. Since we won’t be going through Oregon, we can also pump our own gas. Hand sanitizer should help with that. Once at the cabin we plan on being self contained for the few weeks that we will be there. Hauling all of the food, supplies and other crap that we’ll need up there will test the cargo capacity of our new SUV. We won’t be bringing the bicycles or much camping gear, so it should be feasible to fit everything in the car that we want to bring.

On the way back, Anne wants to swing by Ann Arbor and visit her father. We’ll see. I’ll leave that up to Anne and her sisters, Mothers J&J. We will have been quarantined for more than two weeks by then, not that we are out clubbing every night now. Anyway, it will be nice to hit the road and see and do something new.

Cloud Gate also Known as The Bean