Monday, September 28, 2020


I haven't had the inspiration to write much here lately. (Not to mention that it is a nightmare to upload photos lately.)

I could post infinite political articles and videos but, so tired of 1) all of it and 2) preaching to the choir and 3) to what end?

Other than the daily horror show, things on the local level are not that interesting.

We left town in our tiny camper for a week in mid September. Social distancing and staying safe precluded browsing in quaint shops or eating in restaurants except for take-out.

Road trips, hiking, lounging around the campground was the extent of our activity. We walked around Antonito, Pagosa Springs, and Durango Colorado and Chama, New Mexico.

My sweet hubby, Leon...I am indeed a lucky guy

Snow in them there hills

Cano's Castle Antonito, CO
Enlarge to read about the Penitentes - San Isidro Catholic Church
Remnants of the Church

Have a beer

We had friends over yesterday for dinner...(A nice salad, green peppers stuffed with ground turkey, eggplant, and other tasty ingredients, homemade Italian bread, wine, crepes with sweetened ricotta and strawberries and peaches).

Having guests and cooking something special for them...something I've missed doing during the pandemic...we have had guests infrequently, mostly visiting outdoors on the deck. All of our friends have been very diligent, very careful almost to extremes. So we have felt both safe and, I think we have an enhanced sense of camaraderie and "family".

Back at the ranch, there has been a project I've been wanting to do and have been putting off for four or five years. Patching/resurfacing the concrete driveway which is/was cracked and crumbling. Spalling concrete is the technical term, but I think ours was a bit beyond that.

Not one to pay a company several thousand of dollars to do the job professionally, I rely on my proclivity to do it myself at a fraction of the cost or "Why spend good money to have something done right when you can do a half-assed job yourself for the price of a couple of dinners at a lousy restaurant?"

So, this afternoon, Leon and I got to work on the driveway. So far we've used five 40lb bags of Quikrete vinyl concrete mix to fix one section of the driveway. We are not quite done yet...maybe we'll try to finish up tomorrow.

I seem to take to concrete the same way I take to bread or pasta dough. Maybe it's in my blood. My maternal grandpa was a stone mason, my paternal grandpa could lay a walkway, one of my cousins is a mason.

I am an amateur do-it-myself-er. Leon assists with no complaints.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

My New Toy

*NOTE: Feeling much better emotionally today than yesterday; I was in a bad place not having slept well the previous night and watching/reading too much bad news. It was one of those days that I didn't think I could survive until election day, let alone Inauguration Day.

But here I am, playing with my new toy. I tried ordering one of these on line, but every vendor was either "out of stock" or was shipping from another vendor and delivery dates were toward the end of October.

Just what I don't need: another kitchen gadget. This one is for making tomato passata. Basically, tomato puree.

My tomatoes are ripe NOW and will be rotten by the end of October. So a few days ago I took a chance and stopped in to Bed bath and Beyond - the item was supposedly out of stock, but there it was on the shelf.

Prepping my San Marzano and Roma tomatoes. Halving, removing green parts, heating in water at a boil for about ten minutes till the skins start to loosen. Letting the excess water drain out.

Milling the tomatoes  

Basilico Genovese from the garden.

This is imported Passata. The jar is typical of the product in Italy.

This is all I got out of those tomatoes. Watch the videos to see how much passata some people make.

The skin and seeds to go into compost.

I don't can stuff. This will go into the freezer. I did a second pass with the skins and seeds and got about a cup and a half more of passata which I will use for tonight's tomato sauce.

This is how the pros do it:

My next project for the morning was to make eggplant parmigiana.

But hubby called and said that we are going camping tomorrow instead of Monday as the campground had this Sunday available, but not this coming Saturday...whatever.

So I had to change my plans for the eggplant as it would take me hours with clean-up and now I had to hustle and cook and get the camper packed.

So I diced up the eggplant with garlic, onion, baby bella mushrooms, salt, pepper, oregano, pepperoncini (hot pepper flakes), olive oil and roasted the whole thing in the oven at 425 degrees.

My new plan involves adding the veggie mixture into a tomato sauce to serve over pasta. But I will need more sauce and don't want to use up all my new passata for I reverted to the tomato paste from a can. (Kirkland organic if that makes a difference.)  Mom and every Italian aunt always "fried" the tomato paste in olive oil. It is not for me to question that wisdom, so that is how I do it too.

I added the second pressing of passata to the paste with water.

The roasted veggies ready to add to the sauce.

Fried some sausages and deglazed with a little red wine and added them to the sauce. Had some homemade turkey meatballs in the freezer, so added them as well.

So there. Can't wait for pasta tonight. Oh, and I also made bread this morning too. Baked one loaf and put two balls of dough into the freezer. We'll take one camping and have fresh bread one evening.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Watching Too Many "Pasta Grannies" on YouTube

And I've been watching a couple of other pasta makers on the web. So decided it was again time to make pasta from scratch.

I used one egg for every100gm of all purpose flour. Made a six-egg batch. Which produced about 60 ravioli and about 3/4 lb of tagliatelle (or a reasonable facsimile from the "scraps" after making ravioli).

The ravioli went into the freezer and we had the tagliatelle for dinner with a fresh tomato sauce from my San Marzano and Roma tomatoes from the garden.

Can't take a lot of photos while doing this...but here are a few:

Friday, August 21, 2020

I Just Can't Help It: I Needed A Laugh (AT the Expense Of 45)

I guess there's been criticism about Joe Biden reading from a teleprompter. Of course these critics conveniently forget about 45's many blunders.

But we haven't forgotten.

This one makes me laugh out loud, something I really needed to do today:

And there's this:

And let's not forget Yo Semite and Thighland.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

An Excerpt From "Did YouEver See A Horse Go By? A Coming Out Memoir"

/13/ Real Therapy

DR. IRVING FRANKEL TURNED out to be a slim, slightly balding, older gentleman with a warm smile, a calming demeanor, and a Ph.D., thankfully not a psychiatrist.

Dr. Frankel would stick with me for the long haul. He wouldn’t talk about his daughter’s algebra exam. He wouldn’t tell me that I was straight or gay or that I couldn’t possibly be homosexual. He wouldn’t suggest that I figure things out for myself. He wouldn’t tell me to masturbate more frequently or find a woman to date. He wouldn’t want to go to the beach with me.

Dr. Frankel would listen and talk and listen some more. Dr. Frankel would laugh. Dr. Frankel would let me suffer.

At times, therapy with Irving Frankel was like being tethered to an infinitely long piece of rope. I would wander aimlessly, lost in my thoughts amid psychic mazes, while he let out more slack. Sometimes it was frightening. That slack in the rope made me anxious and afraid that I would not find my way back unless Dr. Frankel reeled me in.

I would grope through my memories and feelings looking for words but often not verbalizing what was going on in my head, wondering if he still had hold of his end of the rope. I had to trust that he did and that he would pull me back if need be.

Often the wise doctor would remain silent, deliberately, it seemed, allowing my anxiety to grow, until my random thoughts could crystallize into words, fragments of a sentence, a complete thought. The lifeline gave me the freedom to explore and a way to get back, but I persisted in remaining inert, stuck, resisting any action or change that might threaten my safe but unsatisfying emotional balancing act.

I saw Irving about once a week for nearly four years, but, remarkably, I remember only a few conversations between us. Certainly my homosexuality was the main issue for me: how I got that way and, more importantly, how not to be what I was or, godforbid, how to be what I was. I still wasn’t sure which. ...

At some point during our first year of therapy, I discovered Edmund White’s A Boy’s Own Story in Barnes and Noble’s gay and lesbian section. It was the first gay novel I ever read; and while I could relate to it on some level, it was not a story that even remotely reflected my experience. When I finished it I gave it to Irving and asked him to read it.

It wasn’t exactly my life, but I think I wanted him to know that there were others. “See, soul searching, like me,” I said.

It was also a gesture of trust, an attempt to broach the subject of my sexuality again, perhaps at a deeper level than before. When I asked about the book some weeks later, he had it on the side table next to his chair.

“I did read some of it,” he confessed. “But, I’m sorry, I just couldn’t get very far.” He did not elaborate but handed the book to me.

With the book in my hands, I left on one of my mental excursions and Dr. Frankel let out the rope freely.

After some long minutes of silence, Irving said, “You seem far away. What’s going on?”

When I get terribly anxious, words will inevitably fail me. So does rational expression. Thoughts, feelings, anxiety spill over into irrational behavior or symbolic acting out...

So, when asked what I was thinking, I took A Boy’s Own Story with the picture of a melancholy-looking homosexual boy on the cover that Dr. Frankel had just handed to me. I looked at the book as if it were another dread disease and I tore the paperback in two, down the binding; and then tore pages out and tore the pages in half and the halves into pieces.

... I was crying, “That’s not me. It’s not me, it can’t be me!” Tears flowed down my cheeks and I repeated, “it’s not me…it’s not me.” I gasped for breath and sobbed from deep in my gut.

When my outburst subsided I got down on the floor, picked up the torn pages of Edmund White’s life, and threw them into the wastebasket.

I can’t remember if Dr. Frankel and I exchanged any words. I’m sure he said something kind to acknowledge the intimacy of the moment and, indicating that our time was up, said gently, “I’ll see you next week.”

We continued to meet through the spring and into the summer. Dr. Frankel’s therapy must have been imperceptibly chipping away at my resistance.

CURED - Trailer

As I described in my memoir, I went through therapists like Kleenex. Fortunately I didn't have electroshock or other draconian "treatments" to cure me. But now, at 72, I consider myself, if not fully cured, nicely aged.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Saga Continues

I find myself on the verge of tears so often these days. I can't seem to watch the news or read the news without feeling overwhelmed by sadness, disappointment, disgust, or anger.

Another of the heroes of the epidemic has died of COVID19.

I am in complete awe of these brave doctors, nurses, health professionals, healthcare workers, hospital employees, clinicians and first responders and others on the front lines. I am paranoid just going to the grocery store or Costco or the pharmacy.

From Joe.My.God. Blog:

Gay Critical Care Doc Dies Of COVID In His Own ICU

The Huffington Post reports:
The “beloved” chief of critical care at a Baltimore hospital died Saturday of COVID-19 after caring for the facility’s “sickest patients” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the facility. Dr. Joseph Costa, 56 — who a colleague likened to “an older brother that [staff] admired and revered” — was the intensive care unit chief at Mercy Medical Center. The hospital, confirming his death, posted about him on Facebook Sunday.
Costa worked for Mercy for 23 years and became the chief of critical care in 2005. He is survived by his husband, David Hart. The couple had been together for 28 years. “I keep thinking, ‘Now there is one less ICU doctor to care for pandemic patients in Baltimore,’” Hart told The Baltimore Sun. Hart added that Costa’s colleagues held a vigil for him as he lay dying, and that he held his husband in his arms until he passed away early Saturday morning.
Meanwhile a FORMER gay ally MADONNA is spreading misinformation and wild conspiracy theories from the discredited "doctor" Stella Immanuel. Fortunately, Twitter has deleted her linkages as per their COVID19 disinformation policy.

Wasn't Madonna once a fairly intelligent, progressive, thoughtful and reasonable person? When did she turn into a total cov-idiot? I can't help thinking of the series "True Blood" when humans would be  "turn" into vampires. And she is in a position to reach millions with her dangerous ideas.

Time to take the dog for a walk and go tend the garden.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

What to Say to All Those Folks on Huntington Beach (and Elswhere)

In response to the Nay-sayers: (I can find no documentation as to the source or accuracy of the following, but it makes sense to my ears as a former health educator.)

“Chickenpox is a virus. Lots of people have had it, and probably don't think about it much once the initial illness has passed. But it stays in your body and lives there forever, and maybe when you're older, you have debilitatingly painful outbreaks of shingles. You don't just get over this virus in a few weeks, never to have another health effect. We know this because it's been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.

Herpes is also a virus. And once someone has it, it stays in your body and lives there forever, and anytime they get a little run down or stressed-out they're going to have an outbreak. Maybe every time you have a big event coming up (school pictures, job interview, big date) you're going to get a cold sore. For the rest of your life. You don't just get over it in a few weeks. We know this because it's been around for years, and been studied medically for years.

HIV is a virus. It attacks the immune system and makes the carrier far more vulnerable to other illnesses. It has a list of symptoms and negative health impacts that goes on and on. It was decades before viable treatments were developed that allowed people to live with a reasonable quality of life. Once you have it, it lives in your body forever and there is no cure. Over time, that takes a toll on the body, putting people living with HIV at greater risk for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease, liver disease, cognitive disorders, and some types of cancer. We know this because it has been around for years, and had been studied medically for years.

Now with COVID-19, we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood. So far the symptoms may include: Fever Fatigue Coughing Pneumonia Chills/Trembling Acute respiratory distress Lung damage (potentially permanent) Loss of taste (a neurological symptom) Sore throat Headaches Difficulty breathing Mental confusion Diarrhea Nausea or vomiting Loss of appetite Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young) Swollen eyes Blood clots Seizures Liver damage Kidney damage Rash COVID toes (weird, right?)

People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again. A man in Seattle was hospitalized for 62 days, and while well enough to be released, still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Not to mention a $1.1 million medical bill.

Then there is MIS-C. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.

This disease has not been around for years. It has basically been 6 months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally *do not know* what we do not know.

For those in our society who suggest that people being cautious are cowards, for people who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions to protect themselves and those around them, I want to ask, without hyperbole and in all sincerity: How dare you? How dare you risk the lives of others so cavalierly. How dare you decide for others that they should welcome exposure as "getting it over with", when literally no one knows who will be the lucky "mild symptoms" case, and who may fall ill and die.

Because while we know that some people are more susceptible to suffering a more serious case, we also know that 20 and 30-year-olds have died, marathon runners and fitness nuts have died, children and infants have died. How dare you behave as though you know more than medical experts, when those same experts acknowledge that there is so much we don't yet know, but with what we DO know, are smart enough to be scared of how easily this is spread, and recommend baseline precautions such as: Frequent hand-washing Physical distancing Reduced social/public contact or interaction Mask wearing Covering your cough or sneeze Avoiding touching your face Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces

The more things we can all do to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are, in my opinion. Not only does it flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren't immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term.

I reject the notion that it's "just a virus" and we'll all get it eventually. What a careless, lazy, heartless stance.”


The Guardian reports: Doctors may be missing signs of serious and potentially fatal brain disorders triggered by coronavirus, as they emerge in mildly affected or recovering patients, scientists have warned. Neurologists are on Wednesday publishing details of more than 40 UK Covid-19 patients whose complications ranged from brain inflammation and delirium to nerve damage and stroke. In some cases, the neurological problem was the patient’s first and main symptom. The cases, published in the journal Brain, revealed a rise in a life-threatening condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (Adem), as the first wave of infections swept through Britain.

Agence France-Presse reports: The research showed that none of patients diagnosed with neurological problems had COVID-19 in their cerebrospinal fluid, suggesting that the virus did not directly attack their brains. Perhaps crucially, the team found that ADEM diagnoses “not related to the severity of the respiratory COVID-19 disease”. With more than 11 million confirmed infections worldwide, COVID-19 is known to cause a variety of health complications in addition to lung infection. “Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause,” said Ross Paterson from UCL’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology.

Friday, July 17, 2020

I Almost Don't Want to Post This, It Is So Disturbing

But do go to the YouTube site and read the comments...some are funny and most are reassuring.

OK, I can kind of give a pass to those being outdoors and at a distance from others, but really...the reactions to two very calm and harmless guys passing out free masks is very disturbing.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

My Three Cents

I wrote an email to CVS back in April because there were customers in the local CVS not wearing masks...and CVS is a HEALTH CARE business.

The reply was to the effect of: our employees cannot be put in the position of enforcing the requirement. So three month later they (and Walmart and Kroger, and Texas and Colorado and others) decide it's a good idea for all customers/citizens to wear masks.

But the precedent of "resistance" has already been established so now people who think it is their "right" not to wear a mask are physically assaulting others who try to enforce the requirement. So sick of this shit.


People need to get over the erroneous notion that science and opinion are or should be put on equal footing.

The difference is that science is always self-correcting and always adding to knowledge; opinion, particularly in the case of COVID19, is not self-correcting, nor does it add to our knowledge.

In fact, some "opinions" are outright dangerous and have brought us to this "worse and worse" scenario and act very much like a virus: infecting the uninformed, the fearful, the suspicious, the ideologues.

The anti-science, conspiracy theory undercurrents that are driving much decision making in this country are not only baffling to me, but a danger to us all.

So many states are now requiring masks and distancing...after the cows have left the barn and things are spiraling out of control.

We are worse off now than we were in March and solving this will require many more months of inconvenience, sickness and death.

If only we had had a universal, country-wide, science-based response and strong leadership at the federal level we might be where most of Europe is right now - slowly, cautiously, safely opening for business. If only we (he) allowed Fauci and other medical experts to make health policy....


Liberty, personal freedom and the constitution will count for little when you (rhetorical) or a loved one is on a respirator.

Liberty, personal freedom and the constitution are ideals that are only meaningful within the context of a society, a community, where individuals take responsibility for insuring the rights of all citizens, sometimes at the expense of one's own convenience or comfort.

We need to take care - of ourselves - and one another.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Dr. Fauci Has More Credibility Than Any in the Current Administration

The recent Op-Ed by Navarro in USA Today is not only despicable it is without any basis in fact. The Administration's efforts to discredit Fauci is either a bad strategy that will backfire big time or a major attempt at distraction and gaslighting. The directive to hospitals to report to HHS rather than to CDC is beyond troubling. I only wonder what else is happening behind the curtain.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Is It Time To Get Political Again?

I'm getting really sick of the idiot in the White House. Actually I've been sick since November 8, 2016. So here is a great ad for our times.

 And while I'm at it, here is an email I sent to Dr Anthony Fauci and a cc: to a number of his staff a few days ago, just before the idiot in the White House decided it would be a good idea to discredit the good doctor.

Urging You to Speak more forcefully
To: Cc: hilary.marston@nih.govDr. Fauci,

Having worked as an HIV/AIDS Counselor at the Connecticut State Department of Health Services during the height of the AIDS crisis, and having survived that epidemic, I recall having a great deal of respect for you and your leadership during those times. 

I am now 72 years old and I am very concerned, not only about the possibility of my contracting COVID-19, but also the devastating effect this pandemic is having on the lives and loves of so many others. 

I sense that you have been less than forthcoming lately - as if you’ve been told to tone it down and make things (the facts) seem relatively ambiguous. We have let this get out of control and desperately need your leadership!

So, I urge you:

Please speak more forcefully and definitively about the reasons for the explosion of COVID-19 cases and please be unequivocal in your admonitions to the president, government officials and the citizenry about what each person needs to do get this horrible disease under control. 

I will look forward to your most authoritative message soon.


Frank DeFrancesco


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