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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens, it is now at .

Flattening the Curve? Not yet: April 2020

The first days of April through Easter were mostly gray and cool. On Easter Sunday, we went for a drive to Placerville (our county seat about 4 miles north of our town). Along the way, I stopped for an Easter observance photo. It looked like the creator made due with supplies on hand.

Placerville was quite dead on Easter Sunday populated by a few walkers with or without dogs. Later in the month, we revisited Placerville. While the "hanging man" (before the town was named Placerville, it was known as Hangtown during the 1849 Gold Rush) is wearing a mask, Main Street has many more people milling about without masks and not social distancing.

The surly guy fixing his message of nationalism told me that the symbol he's putting up is a pound sign (it is actually two Fs turned sideways and taped together). His pound sign had slumped down making it illegible. I asked what KAG meant and he told me to look it up on Twitter. So, at home I did, and his pound sign in this case would be a hashtag. With the current state of the nation and the craziness of the presidential office, I can't imagine saying "Keep America Great." He must be living under a rock.

On Good Friday I took Dan to a swampy bird spot situated next to Highway 65 to Lincoln and between two shopping areas in the adjacent county. I'm quite sure the birds were there first before the developments and have decided to wait it out. It's nesting time and herons and egrets were flying to and fro with nest building supplies. Watching the birds was a great escape from the reality of Sheltering-at-Home.

Despite the cool beginning to April, our Spring flowers evolved into a riot of color. Last year, I told Dan that I wanted to spend Spring at home so we could see our flowers in bloom but by Autumn 2019 we had already booked a two-week trip to Portugal April 18 - May 3, 2020. So, wish granted, and we were home everyday of April and our yard was spectacular with California Native Iris, an Exbury Azalea, Tree Peony, a very old and tolerant upright Fuchsia, narcissus, dutch iris, a white camellia, and dogwood flowers.

Our purple wisteria faded just as the white wisteria came into its own stunning glory.

Our climbing roses in the garden were covered with their most lovely first bloom of the season.

We are laissez-faire gardeners with a broad tolerance for plants with flowers. Every year we have allowed the lupines to prosper only pulling them out after their seeds are dispersed. This year our front yard was covered with more lupine than ever before. There were so many that they took center stage to the real landscape plants. The sweet wisteria and lupine fragrance in our April yard is intoxicating. The heat of May will speed our flowers along until we arrive at a much less colorful landscape.

We have a garden with 3 tomato, 1 Fresno Chili, cilantro, and lots of perennial herbs and catnip. We acquired the tomatoes and pepper plant in early March when Dan returned from Moldova. Because it can still be quite cold until mid April, we waited to plant them on Easter Sunday. Now, they are growing fast and always hopeful, we hope again that they prosper and deliver us tomatoes and peppers.

Life for Dan, me, and the cats seems to have reached a Groundhog Day movie rhythm. We normally stream a PBS or another station's TV series in the evening. We're good for about an hour then head off to bed around 9 ish. The next morning when we're finally ready to meet the new day, we suit up our cats in their jackets and leashes and head out to our yard. The day will normally have a couple more cat walks separated by lunch and dinner with time for me to work on photography or watch a photo webinar with breaks for yard work. Dan has continued to clear our woods and put together a pile of brush that will eventually be chipped up and removed to help reduce fire danger. Dan signed up for a few one-month art and history classes that he has thoroughly enjoyed.

We had been walking further afield with walks on our nearby El Dorado trail that follows the railroad easements and over a very high trestle, but we soon hit a glitch when Dan sprained his foot while walking Syd in our woods. All walks stopped while we waited for his foot to return to normal. It is much better now allowing us a short neighborhood walk.

We had our first Skype video call with Dan's sister Ellie and her husband Earl. It was their idea to make a date with us to meet on our relative computers for a chat and a glass of wine. It was really lovely to have an actual conversation and see faces of people we love. It was a refreshing break from our normal repetitive days.

My favorite grocery store, Forklift by Nugget, was limiting toilet paper to two rolls per shopping cart at the beginning of April. Mid April you could buy 12 rolls. At that time, we thought we were fine so passed that chance. The next week, the shelves were again empty of toilet paper. As I write this journal in the beginning of May, some normal two-ply multi-roll packages are showing up again on the shelves.

Mid April and before the California governor told everyone to wear masks in public spaces when social distancing was not possible, Forklift Grocery made it their policy that all customers and employees were required to wear masks. Thanks to our friend Sharon we each had two beautiful hand -sewn masks. A Forklift employee stands at the entrance and offers masks to those who don't know the mask policy. On the other hand, the other nearby grocery store, Raley's, has a relaxed, Trumpian policy meaning it's your choice to infect others or not. I don't feel comfortable shopping there.

The Saturday that we stopped into Raley's was the same day that we first went to Placerville Hardware (the oldest Hardware store west of the Mississippi) to buy some hardware items and a multi-roll package of toilet paper. Some customers wore masks, some didn't, no employees wore masks.

We went to Home Depot but the lines of cars entering and then the line of shoppers lined up outside dissuaded us for going inside. After picking up a basil plant from the outside racks, I chatted with a garden employee who said that people begin lining up each day at 6 am and sometimes the line of shoppers snakes across the entire front of the store. He said that only 100 people at a time are allowed in the store. Some people are angry and take it out on the employees. Since I was just getting a basil plant, he took me to a self-check out garden register so I didn't need to wait in line. Don't think we're going back for a long while.

My bread making has resumed as my King Arthur Flour order has begun to arrive. So far I have gotten 10 pounds of Bread Flour, and in early May, 10 pounds of All Purpose Flour should arrive. I also found whole wheat flour at Placerville Food Co-op. I'm getting much better at bread making. I'm still working on perfecting the No-Knead Sourdough recipe, but the recipe I'm best at is Almost No-Knead Bread. I prefer the one with 1 cup of whole wheat flour. Both the white and whole wheat recipes require 3 oz of lager which presented the problem of what to do with the other 9 or more ounces of beer because neither Dan nor I really like beer.  New York Times recipes had the perfect solution--El Chonie, a very delicious tequila based cocktail. This cocktail has become part of my bread making routine now.

 Citrus salt or kosher salt (optional; see Note)
⅛  cup/1 ounce tequila
1 tablespoons/1/2 ounce simple syrup (see Note)
 Juice of 1/2 lemon
 Juice of 1/2 lime
1  12-ounce bottle chilled lager or other light-colored beer 
Rim a highball glass with salt (see Note). Place glass in refrigerator to chill.
In a large shaker, combine tequila, simple syrup, lemon juice and lime juice. Add ice and shake well.
Strain into chilled glass. Top up slowly with beer, leaving a little foam on top. Serve immediately. 
To make citrus salt, finely grate zest from a lemon or lime to measure about 2 teaspoons. In a bowl, combine zest very well with 1/4 cup kosher or margarita salt. To rim a glass, spread the salt mixture on a small plate. Rub a little lime juice on the outside rim of the glass and dip into the salt, turning gently to coat. To make simple syrup, warm 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water in a saucepan over low heat until dissolved, then cool to room temperature.

Our cats have their little cat watches set for their eat, walk, walk, walk, eat schedule. They are insistent on all of those events. If I'm busy in my office, they wind their way through my shelves to annoy me until they get whatever it is they want at that particular time of day.

So, April has been a month of documenting our yard and our cats with occasional bread making and brief trips out of our neighborhood. I'm kind of relaxing into this slower pace of life and not nearly as anxious as I felt in March.

On March 31, El Dorado County had just 18 cases. On April 30, our county reported 44 cases (still just 4 cases for those 65 and above) and still no deaths. The largest percentage of cases, 49%, are in the 18-49 year old age group. The zip code we live in has no cases reported so far.