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A Special Spoon

A Special Spoon

I started the two day process to make chicken soup tonight. I use a combination of recipes: from Julia Moskin of the New York Times and Ron’s 97 (soon to be 98) year-old Mom, Mother Mary as I love to call her. There is nothing that brings more comfort than a bowl of homemade chicken soup.

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When we were recently in Santa Clara, California, Ron was fighting a bad cough and chest congestion. Moms never stop being mothers and Mother Mary immediately set to work to cook Ron a pot of her very special and delicious chicken soup to make him well again. She keeps two packages of organic (and she will only use organic, bless her!) chicken legs in the freezer in case of sickness and to prepare a pot of her famous and delicious “cure”.

The broth is so thick and filled with goodness that it completely congeals in the fridge. Heat it up and the kitchen is filled with that amazing aroma of pure, beautiful and healing food. Mother Mary learned how to make chicken soup from Aunt Mae, a generous woman who adopted Ron’s family and loved each and every one of the family members as her own, even though there was no blood connection.

Mother Mary told me years ago about a special wooden spoon that she uses that was gifted to her when Aunt Mae passed away. The spoon is well over one hundred years old and holds the energy of the two amazing women who cooked wholesome and nutritious food for their families, friends and loved ones over the years. I never had the privilege of meeting Aunt Mae, but I know that preparing incredible food was and is the most powerful expression of love from Mother Mary (as I’m sure it was from Aunt Mae as well).

Mother Mary Making Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner at Claire and Jerry's

Mother Mary Making Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner at Claire and Jerry’s

Mother Mary gifted me with this spoon on our last trip. It is the only material thing I ever want from her and she generously passed this special spoon, this legacy, on to me. Every time I hold this spoon, I feel the incredible love and energy of both women. I will cherish it always and think of them every time I use it to make special food for my family, friends and loved ones, just as they have done for over a century.

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On The Road To Land’s End – Again!

Every year, Ron and I head up to the BNP Paribas Open Tennis Tournament in Indian Wells, California (www.bnpparibasopen.com).  As always, we watched some fabulous tennis and had an opportunity to catch up with many special and long-time friends (Bonnie and Don, Pete and Tony, Judy, Peter, Bob and Roxy, Bob and Winnie and so many more).

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We drive to and from the tournament every year, which is approximately 1300 miles each way.  We’re on the road home as I write this and I’m remembering how much fun we had with my Mom on this same trip to Cabo last November.

My Mom has always loved every aspect of travel and makes every experience a great adventure.  It’s such a delight to be on the road with someone who takes everything in and enjoys every aspect.  She has a child-like sense of wonder and curiosity – it’s a true gift at any age and especially for someone now in her 80’s.

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We planned our trip down in November, just as we’ve done on this trip, to get to Mulegé to spend Saturday night at the Hotel Serinidad, a fly-in hotel that has been a Baja classic for decades (www.hotelserenidad.com).  Every Saturday night features the Serinidad’s famous pig roast, which lures people with small planes to fly in from the States or other parts of Mexico and for people like us who are driving, to plan our overnight stop for this weekly event.

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The staff at the Serinidad know how to do a pig roast well, and it has become a real highlight on our many trips up and down the Peninsula.  Mom LOVED it, and she enjoyed every aspect of this legendary and iconic hotel.  There are some great memories and stories at this hotel, with pictures on the walls from famous guests of years gone by like John “Duke” Wayne, June Allyson and Dick Powell.  We’ll stay overnight and get an early start to ensure that we arrive home in Cabo tomorrow night.

We wish Mom was with us again on this trip and we’ll be thinking of her tonight.  Hopefully she’ll be with us again for this amazing trip next November!

Gratitude

This is going to be a very short blog. I just wanted to acknowledge how grateful I am for the life I’m living here in Cabo with Ron. We wake up every morning to another perfect day and rarely with a set plan. After a lifetime of working , it is pure luxury to sleep until your body is rested and not to the annoying sound of an alarm clock.

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It occurred to me tonight as I was preparing a marinade for some steaks we’ll be sharing with our friend, Angeles, tomorrow. I needed fresh lemon juice and grabbed my flashlight and headed behind the house to pick the lemon I needed from our tree. For the Spaghetti Olio y Aglio I was preparing a bit later, I needed fresh parsley and walked out the front door onto our deck and clipped the fresh herb from our Tower Garden.

Our Tower Garden

Our Tower Garden

We just shared a wonderful week with our dear friends Peter and Sherry – one of the great perks of living in a tourist destination is that we always have lots of people visiting us. We have several more friends scheduled to arrive over the next few months and it is such a delight and privilege to share some of our life here with them.

It’s been a horrendous winter in Canada and parts of the United States, and here we are in Cabo in the middle of January living such a different and special life. I’m incredibly grateful for the love and life we share – thank you, Ron.

On The Road To San Diego

We shared a lovely dinner and stayed overnight with David and his gorgeous girlfriend, Jake, at his newly and beautifully renovated home in Santa Barbara on our way south. When we got back to David’s after a delicious dinner downtown, we found a note on our car that had been left by one of his elderly neighbors to apologize for hitting and damaging the front end of our car which we had left parked on the street. Ironically, we had just had body work done on the BMW convertible in New York and the car was in perfect condition when we started our road trip. We were leaving early the next morning for San Diego, so Ron had to get a repair estimate as quickly as he possibly could before we left the area.

David and Jake

David and Jake

We had picked up a new used car (a 2002 Lincoln LS sedan) in Santa Clara to drive down to ensure that my Mom would be as comfortable as possible as she’d been having recent back issues and we knew there was no way for the three of us and all our “stuff” to comfortably fit and travel in our little BMW. The Lincoln needed a new air conditioning compressor, which our friend, Stretch, had ordered and it was to be waiting for us to pick up in San Diego.

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Ron and I fired up our walkie talkies and got our damaged little caravan on the road to San Diego as soon as he was able to get a repair estimate in Santa Barbara. I was really anxious to ensure we got to the airport on time as my amazing little 83 year-old Mom was making her first solo trip – flying from Calgary, Alberta, Canada to meet us in San Diego to drive the Baja to Cabo San Lucas.

Mom Matthie

Mom Matthie

We got to the airport a little late and I was panicked. Ron found parking first and went in to find her at the luggage carousel while I found my way back to the airport and eventually secured parking. Ron found her there, as calm as could be, after having made friends with the airline escort who took her by wheelchair to the carousel area and, of course, several other people. Whew!

Ron needed to pick up the part for the Lincoln, so we took Mom to a nearby park and had an impromptu picnic (with the delicious sandwiches and food that we had prepared at Ron’s Mom’s home) and Mom and I had a chance to catch up while Ron was gone. We found a well-kept and clean motel for us, the Best Western Seven Seas (http://www.bw7seas.com), that had adjoining rooms for peace of mind. We had originally planned on crossing the border that day, but Mom seemed a bit tired, so we thought it best to let her get a good rest and we’d go into Mexico the following day.

Mom wasn’t terribly hungry that night, so we got her some soup and brought it back to her room for her. Ron and I headed to Old Town in search of Italian food as both of us had been craving it for some time. We wandered around to check out the sights and settled on Jack & Giulio’s Italian Restaurant (www.jackandgiulios.com) for dinner. The meal (we split Angel Hair Mediterraneo and Scampi Alla Giulio) and the bottle of 2009 Castello di Meleto Chianti Classico were great, but the absolute stand out of the meal was the basil orange vinaigrette they used on the salad we started with: an Insalati Cuere di Palma with hearts of palm, greens, tomato, and avocado. We almost licked the plate it was so good (Ron actually ordered more bread to sop up every drop of the dressing). Here is the closest re-creation of that dressing that I have been able to come up with so far:

Basil Orange Pesto Vinaigrette

½ cup fresh basil
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup olive oil

Add first 7 ingredients to your blender and pulse to chop and blend. Gradually pour in olive oil from the small opening at the top of the blender lid until mixture is completely blended. Chill 2 hours in the refrigerator and serve over greens or use as a dipping sauce for seared scallops or grilled shrimp.

We were really sorry that Mom hadn’t joined us for such a great meal, but she needed her rest after her first solo trip ever and all the excitement of the day. We shared many more great meals with her in the month she spent with us, however, and made some wonderful memories with her.

Mike and Halloween in Los Gatos

Back to northern California!

Ron and Mike have been dear friends for over fifty years. They met at the grocery store in Santa Clara that they were both working at while in high school and college. They share a rich and wonderful history together and have seen each other through much of life’s journey.

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Ron and Mike basically see one another twice per year: on our way north and east to New York in May and then again on our way west and south in October. They rarely contact one another in between, but pick up exactly where they left off when they do see one another. As with all of Ron’s friends and family, Mike has made me so welcome and I love hearing the stories of their shared past.

We spend as much time as possible with Mike when we’re in Santa Clara: tennis, billiards, dinners at their favorite sports haunt, By-Th-Bucket Bar and Grill (www.btbbarandgrill.com) as we usually arrive in Santa Clara in time for the World Series finals, and shared meals at Ron’s Mom’s house. Mother Mary has adopted Mike as practically one of her own and Mike, as a bachelor, thoroughly appreciates her fabulous home cooking.

We spent Halloween night with Mike and his lovely new girlfriend, Debby. We met them in Los Gatos and had a great time walking down Main Street and Santa Cruz Avenue checking out the costumes. Both Mike and Debby were in costume, but Ron and I were disguised as tourists yet again! We ended up dancing and sharing some drinks and more than a few laughs at Number One Broadway, the Los Gatos place for live music (www.numberonebroadway.com). It was a great evening and we always enjoy spending time and sharing life with Mike – one of Ron’s oldest and dearest friends.