Sunday, November 9, 2014


Since our return from Italy, Marlene has been focusing her cooking attention to Italian recipes.  Combining Italian with vegan has been an experiment.  We try hard to go totally vegan, but sometimes we have to use an egg or two just to make things come out right.  The other night we made wide pasta.009 We made wide, thin,  sheets which Marlene then used to make a lasagna.  007

When the wide sheets were cut into manageable lengths, we pre-cooked each sheet 30 seconds before drying it and layering it into the mushroom, onion, and vegan cheese filling.  The end result was delicious, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it before we ate it.

Marlene has also added focaccia to her bread making repertoire.  She’s not satisfied with the puffiness or thickness, but I sure do like the flavors of salt, garlic, and olive oil even though the result is more like un-garnished pizza.001

While she has been busy in the kitchen, I have been repairing the gas fireplace insert.  We had been using it to take the chill off our living room as house cools down now that fall is here.  The thermocouple failed after 12 years and to remove it and replace it, I had to disconnect the gas line and pull all the sheet metal out.  013  014

Fortunately a local heating contractor had a generic replacement and I was able to put it back together.  When I tested it, the pilot light came back to life, but it appeared to be very weak and would not heat up the thermocouple enough to keep it going.  So, I had to disassemble it again and found that the gas feed line to the pilot light  had a small crack which was allowing gas to escape.  Good thing I didn’t blow the house up and I was able to find a replacement for the line.  After reassembling the whole thing, it fired up and now we have our supplemental heat again.

This fall, the weather has been warm and sunny in between long stretches of rainy days.

013 Marlene has been putting the garden to rest for winter. 012

I have been raking and piling leaves, but without our grandsons around, they are on another adventure, this time to Nicaragua, someone had to get into the pile.  It turns out we both did!

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Then we got back to serious work and collected three, 5 gallon buckets of walnuts which are now drying in the greenhouse.  This will be another year’s supply for our breakfasts and snacks.009

Saturday, October 18, 2014


There are lots of things to see in Italy (understatement).  Closest to us is the Tower of Pisa.  It’s about a 30 minute drive from our farm.DSCN0304  DSCN0303
The city of Pisa is not too exciting.  Crowded with tourists and not really picturesque.
DSCN0270 The Campo dei Miracoli, Field of Miracles, is what we have come to see. 
DSCN0253 After buying tickets for a specific entry time, we are allowed into the tower for a somewhat guided tour.  The guide is more for crowd control than anything.DSCN0273 The guide does give a short introduction and history of the tower and then frees the group of 30 to climb.DSCN0281  DSCN0279
There is some screening to keep people from falling out, but safety is not the real focus here.DSCN0284    DSCN0287
The views from the top are great.  The view from the leaning side is not so fun if you are like me and don’t like overhanging high places.
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The climb was not so bad.  Going down was much harder on my knees.  There are no hand rails and I had to use my legs to lower myself each of the over 300 steps.

Friday, October 17, 2014


We decided to spend my 75th birthday in Italy.  Every since I read “Under the Tuscan Sun” I’ve been pulled to spending some time in a small village in Tuscany.  This is where we have come.DSCN0508

It’s a small village outside of Lucca, about 6 miles.  We flew into Pisa and rented a car and drove to the farm.  DSCN0437 DSCN0433 DSCN0520 Our rental car is very small, a Lancia,  and works great on the narrow switch back roads.  DSCN0499 The day we arrived, we had a dinner in our apartment.  Our landlady provided us with dry pasta, a sauce, a bottle of wine, and enough necessities to get us through the first night.  After dinner, we went to bed and slept for 14 hours without waking.  



The next day, after exploring Lucca and doing some shopping, we returned to our farm where we had arranged to have an Italian cooking class.  DSCN0221 DSCN0235

The other guest at the farm are from Australia.  It turned out to be a wonderful night of sharing and getting acquainted, all the while learning how to make gnocci, bruschetta, and tarimusu.  DSCN0238 DSCN0243 What a great introduction to Italy.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


We had planned on being home by now, but 2 hours out of Borrego Springs, our motor home radiator cracked and all the coolant blew out.  Fortunately, we were just exiting the freeway at Temecula, CA, to pick up some groceries for the trip home.  We stopped in a parking lot before any further damage to the engine and arranged for a tow to an RV service center.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that we have been stranded here for a week waiting for a replacement radiator to be shipped from Oregon.
More good news is that Giant RV found a place for us to boondock in their parking lot while waiting for the parts. 
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We’ve been here for a week and have used the time to explore the area and do some more hikes.  It’s been pleasantly warm so the time has gone quickly.  This hike was over 4 miles in the “Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve’.  In the late 1800’s this was a cattle ranch and the hike we took ended at the old adobe ranch house under a 500 year old oak tree.074
The 4 hour walk took us through open meadows and cool shady washes. 
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The meadows were in full bloom.
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Saturday, March 16, 2013


Our last days in Borrego Springs were taken up with hiking and hawks.  The last hike we took was 6.5 miles up the California Hiking and Riding trail.  A climb of 2,500 feet that took us a little over 3 hours.  We shuttled some cars to the top so that we did not have to make the down hill trip on foot.
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The day before we left, we went out early in the morning to take part in the “Hawk Watch”.  The night before, approximately 200 Swainson Hawks had landed in the palms.  With no winds and warm temperatures, it was anticipated that the hawks would start to kettle and move out around 9:30 in the morning.  We gathered with a group along Di Giorgio Road to wait for lift off.042
Hal Cohen, the coordinator took the opportunity to educate the newcomers on what was happening.040
At about 10 a.m. the hawks lifted off.  These photos are taken on a later day, but they show the beauty of the hawk lift off.
a far view 3-24  A closer view
Approximately 200 hawks left the valley that day.