Posts Tagged With: food


IMG_2725 (Copy)My friend, Paul, fell and broke his hip. He is 88 years old and crawled from his garage into his house and called his housekeeper. She asked him if he needed 911 and he said “NO!”  He is a very determined person and didn’t want to go to the hospital.

He was trying to eat his first meal after three days in the hospital, when I visited with him yesterday. His coordination was such that he couldn’t control the spoon, nor his waxed carton of milk, so I fed him.  A helper came in and took his tray away which still held half of his food. She didn’t ask, would you like to keep your applesauce to snack on later? I think to myself, he could slowly starve if left alone and no one would even blink an eye. No candy striper to help him eat. The local hospital uses volunteer help in the gift shop and receiving area, but none on the wards.

They will be putting him in a rest home, but my experience with that is, they are understaffed and the same thing happens. They put food in front of a person, but not much gets to where it belongs. My friend Betty, was a case in point. I’d visit her regularly and feed her because she had difficulty chewing and would take a long time to eat. Unless I stopped them, they’d whisk her food away because “lunchtime” was over, or the food was cold.

The answer is, more staff. It is expensive and cuts into profits. Medical care should not be a for profit operation. One reason I bought my property in Oregon when I did was because they had right to die laws. They now have them in California, too. I’m determined to never spend time in a rest home.  And, I’ll stay away from hospitals if it is in any way possible. And, I’ll support progressive, social reforms.



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My neighbor, Brian, came over on Friday to fix my computer after I’d set a reset point and wiped out my internet connections back to factory settings, meaning zero ability to get on-line or get email. He was able to get me up and running and while we talked, he was jazzed about PowerBall, because the amount for the winning ticket was up to 600 million. He was going in with other neighbors with the idea that pooling increased the odds of winning. If anyone got three numbers a small pay off, but matched with the PowerBall number, could net a cool million or so.  Intrigued, I thought, what the heck. So I handed him $10 and the next thing you know, I’m mentally musing about what I would spend the money on. It was exciting.

Neighbor Jan had recruited 5 more people and asked if I could go buy the tickets on Saturday while on an errand. While buying the tickets, I met another excited neighbor who normally doesn’t buy into the lottery.  She chose the MegaBucks lottery then at 170 million. Excitement is contagious, and I got the “fever”. The next thing you know, I bought a ticket with my old winning Keeno numbers, I bought a second $10 Powerball ticket, and a MegaBucks ticket, totally unlatched from my former philosophy-its a sucker bet, don’t do it.

DSC07522 (Copy)The plan was, Brian and Attilla were going to watch the football game, and stop at 7:00 for the drawing. The rest of us would report to Brain’s, and after the numbers were revealed, we’d repair to my house for a Win Or Lose celebration with wine and cheese and a video. By the time we went to Brian’s house, Jan had recruited four more people. None of them wanted to party, they just wanted results. Here, then, Attilla, Brian, Attilla’s wife Patty, and Jan, happily holding a possible fortune, in that little glob of yellow paper.  Whoo, whoo.  The football game was forgotten. Brian had wine and hors d’oeuvres for us while we waited for the numbers. The PowerBall Website was so jammed, we didn’t get the numbers until almost 9:00 p.m. and, then from a youtube video. Silly me, I thought the numbers would be announced in a game type format on TV where a billion people would watch an official push the button on the official PowerBall machine, the balls would drop one by one, the numbers displayed before a hooting, expectant audience. Nope.

DSC07523 (Copy)Here,  the winning numbers on Brian’s computer. Among our pooled tickets, one ticket earned four dollars for getting the powerball number right. All hopes dashed. Before we left,  Brian was trying to find out if anyone had won, by then, $949 million dollars?

Jim called me this morning and told me nobody won. It goes up over a billion for next Saturday’s drawing. An obscene amount of money. Am, I going to buy a ticket?

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There was a time when no one read labels or worried about what was in their food. Food went directly from the garden, or farm, to our tables-locally.  Ogden Nash wrote the Clean Platter from which I’ve stolen some entertaining lines:

“Some singers sing of ladies’ eyes, and some of ladies ‘ lips. Refined ones praise the ladylike ways, and coarse ones hymn their hips. The Oxford Book of English Verse, is lush with lyrics tender; A poet, I guess, is more or less, preoccupied with gender.

Yet I, though custom call me crude, prefer to sing in praise of food. Food, yes food. I brood on food.”

But a clean platter today is difficult. Big industrial farms provide millions of Americans with affordable food and they still make a profit. Commendable as long as it is healthy food, and for the most part it is. But we too must brood on food.

Loop holes in regulations and competitiveness, the rock of capitalism, has changed the state of our plate.  Eating  healthfully shouldn’t be a battle.  Inaccurate labeling; hiding the sugar content by listing it under 16 different names;  labels that don’t tell you where your food comes from. Your label may read processed in the United States, but that doesn’t mean it was grown or raised here. Monsanto spends billions to make GMO products free from labeling. Genetically modified foods have been with us for a century, but not with pesticides built into the seeds. Round-up laden seeds, have, as a by-product,  produced super weeds, resistant to Round-up and other herbicides.

Cooperation between sustainable, small-scale, community based, organic and humane,  food for all has been quietly taking over, spurred by activists in the Good Food Uprising, the fastest growing segment of our food economy. That’s the good news.

But, it depends on what state you live in.  Consider the Thanksgiving turkey and the Christmas ham. Industrial geneticists designed a turkey with such massive breasts, they couldn’t stand up on their own feet or even reproduce. Held in a sprawling concrete and steel animal factories. But here, I can drive across the river to Tuolumne County and buy my turkey from a ranch where turkeys run free and gobble at you from behind their fenced enclosure. And, they sell them all plastic wrapped like any other turkey in our local grocery stores. Tough on young families because they cost more.

Hogs are smart and social. They feel stress and pain. But the agri-giants callously raised sows in confined cages where they could not even turn around. Forced to be perpetual birthing machines, immobilized where they forlornly wave their heads back and forth and chew on their cages. Moved to a birthing crate, then stripped of their babies and re-impregnated for another round of enforced gestation.  Investigative reporters, worker whistle blowers, the Humane Society  and outraged consumers of every stripe have turned around many of these atrocities. Millions of hogs have been set free. (Unfortunately, not in the Carolinas.) That’s why I want a label that tells me where my meat comes from.

What’s nice is that restaurants like Chipolte Grill, Burger King, Whole Foods, Costco, Oscar Mayer and even Wal-Mart has responded by refusing to use or sell factory raised meat.

But, fish is another matter. Wal-Mart clearly labels their shrimp from Vietnam, Indonesia, India, and other Asian countries so you know it comes from polluted waters. It is cheap. If you like shrimp, the U.S. is a huge producer of wild, healthy shrimp. You might rethink cheap because some countries keep peelers in slave-like conditions to peel those shrimp for export. It has become a scandal in Vietnam. And imported shrimp has a higher bacteria rate than home-grown.    Some stores repackage their shrimp and label it “Processed in the U.S.”  Don’t buy into that deception.

Oil interests have found a new use for their witches brew of 750 toxic chemicals in fracking water, selling it to agribusiness to water their crops instead of power blasting it into the ground water. Nice. Let’s have a bit of poison on our salad. California Assemblyman, Frank Gato produced legislation requiring warning labels on all state vegetables irrigated with fracking water.  Yay!  The downside is you have to ask your produce person, or store manager because the label is so small you can’t read it. (Well, I can’t read it.)

I don’t want to fight for bees suffering from Colony Collapse from Neurotoxins such as sulfoxaflor, to keep them safe to pollinate food crops we depend on;  or fight for fair labeling. Why must we put up with plastic packaging that can make us sick. (Do not warm foods in the microwave in plastic and steer clear of BPA leaching plastics numbered 3 or 7.)  We can’t trust our own FDA because they’ve sold out to special interests approving untested chemicals that affect our food and water.

And countries are supposed to report their emissions as we begin to broadside climate change. I read constant condemning reports of coal-burning plants in China. But, the U.S., through some marvelous congressional loophole, does not report emissions from the meat industry.  Congress attached a provision to the EPA’s budget. It prohibited the agency from spending money to collect emission reports on livestock producers—specifically the greenhouse gases emitted from some of the 335 million tons of manure produced each year.  Livestock producers, which include meat and dairy farming, account for about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions around the world. That’s more than all the world’s exhaust-belching cars, buses, boats and trains combined.

A team of researchers from Harvard University, Stanford University, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and elsewhere worked together to collect air samples and analyze actual emissions near large livestock operations such as cattle feeding lots in California, Nebraska, and Iowa. They found that greenhouse gas emissions from livestock were twice as bad as what the EPA estimated. The United States is under-reporting its total greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations by about 4 percent per year as a result of bad livestock data—nearly equivalent to the entire emissions of Spain. Thanks Congress.

During our water crisis, here in the West, the biggest wasters are agri-giants. Scientists at the Pacific Institute and National Geographic calculated how much water is being pumped into today’s industrialized food system:

One little almond: 1 gallon; a head of lettuce: 12 gallons; an egg: 53 gallons; a gallon of milk: 880 gallons; a single walnut; 5 gallons; a cluster of grapes: 24 gallons; a pound of chicken; 468 gallons; a pound of beef: 1,800 gallons.  I don’t want to hear nor believe this. I don’t want to feel guilty for every handful of almonds I eat every morning. How can this be? It is unsustainable to allow profitable factory-farms to waste a public resource as important as water. I have walnut and almond trees in my orchard and I know it doesn’t take that much water to grow them if you aren’t wasting it.

For me, I’m giving up most canned foods and cardboard packaged foods. I’m using up what I have and investing in a plastic vacuum sealer that keeps frozen food fresh, fresh, fresh. The plastic is safe and the food doesn’t develop a taste from keeping your summer applesauce and plum sauce for as long as it lasts. Some years I have a heavy apple crop and some years I don’t.  I can buy blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, frozen, or fresh in season. Fresh frozen organic vegetables are readily available. I’m working to keep my platter healthy, so I don’t have to interpret labels and worry about my food anymore.  I never donate to congress, try these groups, where I got my information,  if you want change:,, www.,,,,

Mother Jones magazine, Jim Hightower’s Lowdown Newsletter.


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DSC07440 (Copy)The first thing to great me at my daughter-in-law’s house, was the table full of sweets and a savory cheese cake. It seemed full until others arrived and added even more good things to the table. Laurie collects elephants- you may have noticed her elephant table cloth.

DSC07441 (Copy)I once did an inventory of her elephant collection and I counted about 700 elephant items, from ashtrays, jewelry to swizzle sticks.  Collecting is fun and appealing and I zeroed in on elephant ornaments that never made it into her inventory.

DSC07442 (Copy)The elephant is barely visible in this photo,but no matter, I was having fun.

DSC07443 (Copy).

DSC07444 (Copy)I would have given this elephant a bigger eye.

DSC07447 (Copy)Laurie is the youngest of two sisters. Michele on the right with her daugher-in-law is her middle sister. Her oldest sister lives in North CarolinaDSC07493 (Copy)Laurie’s brother, Mike and sister-in-law Ramona. At the last minute, we decided to have a wine exchange. Ramona kept everyone in stitches as she examined each person’s choice with two pairs of glasses and a magnifying glass, before she decided which bottle to steal.

DSC07495 (Copy)My oldest and youngest brothers, Bill at 78 and Clark at 60. Michele in the background with her husband Wayne who smoked the lamb roast. Clark was the other clown of the wine exchange, threatening to open and try them out. He got stolen from four times. I guess the threat worked.

DSC07449 (Copy)A good game of liar’s dice was entertaining most of the “kids” the youngest two age 13.

DSC07496 (Copy)My oldest, Ken and youngest Virginia.  I guess men like to grow beards when they have vacation. They vacation from shaving.

DSC07498 (Copy)But the Greek feast was on. Roast lamb, tzatziki, a famous Greek yoghurt dip, with condiments. Greek meatballs with rice, feta and mint, with zucchini feta pancakes and lemon sauce.

DSC07499 (Copy)Roasted potatoes with a Greek dressing…a spicy lasagna with special cheeses…seasoned chicken kababs. DSC07500 (Copy)Spinach filled spanakopitas, a Greek fruit salad and a Greek rice salad. The food, with a bunch of good cooks in the house?  Stellar. Everyone agreed that enough turkey and ham at Thanksgiving should be bypassed for ethnic foods at Christmas. The only thing missing was the famous Greek circle dance and music.

We decided on Mexican food next year, because Virginia just learned how to make home-made tamales, heavy on the filling and light on the masa. Cha, cha, cha.





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DSC07374 (Copy)To have lush choices about how we will spend our Christmas week is a gift that reminds me how fortunate I am to be in a community that treasures neighbors, friendship and family. I planned to take a friend to lunch Christmas Eve day, but he was snowed in and I couldn’t pick him up. By coincidence, my son Ken and his family came to Murphys and I had lunch with them instead.

DSC07429 (Copy)Murphys hosts a free Christmas dinner every year for anyone who would like to join hands and enjoy this special day with others. My friend was still snowed in and I decided to go, remembering the last time I attended this dinner was right after my husband died, year 2000. It is held at the Native Sons Hall in Murphys and he was their treasurer at the time. Table, by table moves though the line after everyone is seated and has had a chance to visit and get acquainted.

DSC07431 (Copy)I expected to sit with neighbors I knew, second from left, Jan and then Becky. At the door, I was told, I had to sit where I was directed because they fill up the tables from front to back, so fast, and I would be unlikely to find a seat with my friends.

DSC07428 (Copy)As it turned out, I was standing in line with Carol Burton, (rt.) and her family of five. With me we made a “family” of six. Carol and I were part of American Field Service when my kids were in high school. Left, her daughter-in-law who is an Old Blue, meaning she graduated from UC Berkley.

DSC07432 (Copy)What was nice is that I could move from table to table and catch up with a number of people I hadn’t seen in years. Here, Eleanor Darby with her grandson. She is another old friend from AFS.

DSC07435 (Copy)Pastor Jo Sider in red, I hadn’t seen in two years and I’ve run into her 3 times in two weeks.

DSC07436 (Copy)Dan Darby, a magnificent artist, and now, a published author. He wrote a book entitled, God’s Gold.

DSC07439 (Copy)I didn’t get pictures of everyone I knew at the dinner, but I managed to get Carol’s family. Nancy, in front with her mom, is an avid biker, and for the first time I got a glimpse into her hobby. She sent me a map of Club’s ride  through central Oregon,  and then the coastal side of the State of Oregon,to take place in May. Behind her, son Jim and his wife; to the right, her daughter, Laurie and husband, with Santa peeking out from the crowd.

Today, my immediate family and my daughter-in-law’s family will be celebrating Christmas with a Greek themed dinner. We don’t trade gifts, but we will be gifting the Butte Fire Recovery Fund.

From Dr. Seuss,  How The  Grinch Stole Christmas, comes the wisest words:   “Christmas is within our grasp as long as we have hands to clasp.”

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DSC07068 (Copy)I needed a sewing machine needle threader and stopped by Country Cloth in Angels Camp. Christmas kits for avid quilters are quick and easy. Ginger puts them together, her own ideas, and it makes for a quick satisfying project. But, not for me. I already have too many projects on hold. I enjoyed looking, even so.

DSC07070 (Copy)I liked this kit, too. Maybe in my old age. I keep saying that.

DSC07131 (Copy)I LOVE this. Three wise women would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stalls, made a casserole, brought practical gifts and then there would be PEACE ON EARTH. My daughter-in-law keeps this on her table during the season.

DSC07132 (Copy)Her tree is one she and Ken bought from a cut your own tree farm. It is beautiful. I’ve been locked out of my small storage building where I keep my Christmas, Halloween, Easter, decorating stuff. Yesterday, I removed the door. I have little mini plastic trees, but I haven’t gotten them up yet. I’m still doing cards. And, I practically faint at the price of Christmas trees these days. Memory can do a number on you.

DSC07240 (Copy)But, Christmastime is to fun to stay home. I met my friend Marilyn for lunch at Firewood. She came up from Discovery Bay and had a hankering for Fish Tacos. We met a fascinating woman RVer, 77 years old, who travels on her own or with friends, or grandchildren, all over the country on her own. Her name is Kathy Walsh and I got her phone number. Can’t wait to hear more tales of her travels. Anyway, I think Marilyn was a bit embarrassed because I wore this funky hat, and wanted my foot in the picture. I wore the hat because my hair was wet and it wouldn’t behave.  My foot? Just being silly. Marilyn is a great writer and has a published book, but she is not interested in writing another.

Make good the season. Its okay to be silly. Ciao, my friends.


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