“First Of The Season”

After all my grumbling yesterday about rain from the southwest, a little cold air arrived from the north and turned the rain into our first light snowfall. Our growing season is around April 30 to October 30 with a hard frost likely around then. Yesterday we picked up the final bag of farm produce from our seasonal share. We received beets, cauliflower, carrots, brussel sprouts and squash, a true sampling of fall vegetables.

Next year we will begin receiving a share of the year’s crops beginning around the end of April as they begin to be available. In the meantime we will rely on frozen and canned vegetables with some supplementing from roots that last such as squash. Lots of soups, stews and hot bread and rolls promise suppers designed for colder days and longer nights.

Let it snow a little more today and let it melt later. We need to let the leaves finish falling from the trees before we really enter winter. For those of you in Southern climes, enjoy the sounds of early snow. For those in the North, time to gas up the snowblower.

“Getting Soaked”

That little red pin in the center of all that yellow and green is our home. The yellow and green represent heavy and not quite as heavy rainfall. As you can see I am presently surrounded by rain. I have still not become used to the weather patterns here. When I lived on the West Coast, most of the rain came directly off the Pacific Ocean and blew due east dropping its moisture on our side of the Cascade Range of mountains. It rained a lot in Portland, month after month, most often as a constant drizzle.

Today, as is so often the case in New England, the weather has come up from the southwest, moving in a diagonal across us and out to the Atlantic Ocean. That means if there has been a storm to the south, especially during hurricane season, it will likely make its way to us. This time the weather has just arrived as a low level tropical storm, with the word “tropical” giving away its origins.

I have been enjoying our unusual months of dry weather. While we had teetered on the edge of a real drought, it never turned that dire for us. In fact it wasn’t until last week that they asked us to not do unnecessary watering outdoors. But it’s wet now. Very wet. Miserably wet. And it looks to be that way for a couple more days.

Somewhere there are relieved farmers. Somewhere there are relieved landscapers. Somewhere there are relieved well owners. But here there is one grumpy covid bound writer!

“Really Good Security”

I had fully intended to spending yesterday afternoon doing further genealogical research and continuing to post about it. Instead I found my afternoon taken up with the kind of electronic insanity that fellow blogger Beetleypete wrote about a short time ago when trying to unlock his phone. My granddaughter had lost her phone a couple of weeks ago. She was waiting to save enough money to buy a new one, and she was doing all of her communicating and school work on her IPad. All was going well. Famous last words when electronics are involved.

The IPad refused to charge, so she came over to have me help. After consulting with Apple, we learned she needed to bring it into the shop. The first available appointment was a week away. No problem, she thought. All her work was on the Cloud. She simply needed to sign on to the Cloud and retrieve what she needed.

BUT…it turns out that to sign onto to the Cloud, even with her Apple ID and her Apple password she needed to use a verification number that they would send to …her missing phone. We exhausted the expertise of the first very patient Apple Support person. She passed us on to the Senior Apple Advisor. She showed remarkable patience and tried many different ways to work around the problem.

Sadly, in the end, unless the IPad can be restored, she will have to wait for the “powers that be” to realize that she is indeed herself and unlock the Cloud for her. Apparently this can take between two and thirty days depending on “the electronic decision process.”

Mission not accomplished, we ordered takeout using MY phone.

“An Easier Way”

Beetley Pete commented that he hadn’t seen a butter crock like this before and that he had watched some video on You Tube to see how it worked. I was intrigued, so I watched a couple of them myself. They made the process more difficult than I find it. They had one soften a stick of butter in a dish and then spread and pack it down into the crock.

Fortunately I had never seen the videos when I figured out how to fill the crock. I simply set a stick of butter on its end until it is softened. Then I unwrap it and using the wrapper to cover one end I smoosh it down into the crock. Ours from King Arthur flour holds one stick perfectly. No butter on my hands, no bowl or spoon to wash.

I haven’t made a You Tube video. Too much work. As you can see from the above method, I prefer the easy approach.

“Surprised By Ghee”

After a few days off for a medical procedure, I returned to the kitchen to catch up with processing my batch of vegetables from the farm share. I had one very large cauliflower and several winter squash. I like to use my new air fryer(center photo) for these. The cauliflower roasted with olive oil and zatar seasoning. The squash I roast and then scoop out the innards, throw out the seeds(which I could roast too) and mash it with a little butter and maple syrup. For several hours I was running the air fryer on the kitchen counter.

This morning my husband told me that the butter had dissolved in its crock. We keep fresh butter in the jar shown on the left which holds it hovering above cool water keeping it just the right temperature to spread. I took a look at the contents and realized that the butter had indeed dissolved. In fact it contained ghee(photo on the right) separated from the milk solids.

We tried to figure out how that could have happened. I thought maybe the crock had been too hot(making it his fault) and he thought maybe it was the butter I had purchased(making it my fault). As you can see covid isolation has not cured us of fault finding. Then I realized that the air fryer had been running most of the day in front of the butter crock. It had been putting out a constant stream of heated air directly onto the butter.

Inadvertently, I had invented an easy way to make ghee. Now to find that Indian recipe I just saw that required it!

“Kindness of Strangers”

Gombrich Tomb Paris, France

My grandmother’s maiden name was Gombrich, a family with history in Paris. Thanks to an unknown photographer, who graciously makes his/her photographs available without royalties or attribution, I have this image of my great-grandfather’s and great-great grandfather and grandmother’s tomb in the cemetery in Montmartre. I have hopes to some day visit Paris and look for such graves, but I am grounded at the moment. As a genealogist, I am grateful to those people who visit cemeteries and post pictures of tombs and stones.

Many Jewish monuments were destroyed during the Nazi era, and this one seems to have suffered the loss of the head off the bust of Adolphe Abraham Gombrich, but much else remains intact. From the inscriptions(more visible in the original photo)I am able to learn much more about these forebears. Among other tidbits, new to me, was the note that my great-great grandmother, Fanny Gombrich was born in Versailles. This opens the door to an unexpected line of inquiry. I did once visit the palace there, though I felt then that it was a tasteless display of wealth. I imagine that in 100 years people may feel the same way as they tour Trump’s apartment!

So here’s to helping one another, whether in the genealogy world or the blog community. There’s more than one way to interact with people around the world than seeing them as threats, no matter what word comes down from the “leader” of our country.

“A New Market”

As I continue to explore my paternal grandmother’s lineage, I am constantly learning new aspects of American history. It began by learning that my French grandmother’s mother was born in San Francisco, California in 1862. While she married, bore my grandmother and died in Paris, Flora Alexandre started out in the United States. Of course I pondered why this might have been.

Some people do genealogy the way some people do bird watching. In each case, some people try to have the most family members on their tree or the most birds on their “life count.” I use genealogy the same way I enjoy bird watching. I want to know as much as I can find out about each individual person or variety of bird. I clearly needed to understand why a French family (which by now I knew to be Jewish) would have born a daughter in California in 1862.

The pursuit led me to reading about the European Jewish merchants, including her family, who went to the towns and cities of the booming California gold rush and set up shop. Correspondence with a record keeper of the first synagogue in San Francisco (established in 1849) let me know that my great grandmother’s family had worshiped there. I was able to find her extended family in the San Francisco census records of 1870 and 1880. And as I read further I learned of another prominent Jewish merchant living and worshiping in Congregation Emanu-El—-Levi Strauss.

Such a gold mine of information. As you can see I couldn’t resist a parting pun.

“A Glamorous Headshot”

Claudine LeDuc in her early 40’s

It seemed only fair that, having shown my grandmother in her later years(albeit next to Cary Grant), I share a photo taken twenty years earlier. I never knew my grandmother then, but only met her when she was in her early 70’s. She hadn’t aged particularly well. But finding this photo among the papers I recently unearthed I finally understood that this is undoubtedly how she saw herself.

Don’t many of us carry an image of ourselves from a much earlier age? Aren’t many of us a little startled to see the actual face looking back at us from the mirror some mornings?

“Not Quite a Star”

I have been doing genealogical research on my paternal grandmother. I found a set of papers that I must have inherited many years ago, although I don’t remember seeing them before. Among them was this image of Cary Grant in Once Upon a Honeymoon, a 1942 film. My grandmother, going under the stage name of Claudine LeDuc is the desk clerk. The only other image of her from that era is as an extra in the 1943 movie Song of Bernadette.

Although she was never honest about her age, I have learned that she was born in 1881 in Paris. It was actually quite a relief to learn that she was 88, not 73, when she died, since I am 73. That means she went to California to “make it big in the pictures” when she was 60. It was not an ideal time to start her career. Nonetheless she always was proud of herself as an actress and I had no idea that she had only these two small roles.

She is also responsible for the 29% of my DNA that is Ashkenanzi Jewish. I didn’t learn that from her, however. She was anti-Semitic, probably a good defense during the time Hitler’s reach was unpredictable and his ability to round up Jewish people was predictable.

I doubt she would be pleased at my research and what it has uncovered. She wanted to carefully curate her persona and could have preserved it forever if not for the internet. But I am glad to know the truth, some of it sordid, some of it pleasurable(who wouldn’t want to stand next to Cary Grant?) I am only here because of her. Her DNA runs through my veins. And one of my descendants is an actress.

“Context, Context, Context”

Dr. Anthony Fauci United States National Institute of Health

Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday he wasn’t happy about being part of a campaign ad for President Donald Trump.

“In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed nor do I now endorse any political candidates,” he said in a statement, according toCNN and NBC News. “The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.”

While the specifics of this situation apply to the United States, the principle applies with any quotation presented to the reader. Any fragment of a sentence can be pulled out of context, as were the words of the most highly respected(according to polls)American authority on the pandemic. Doing so made it appear that Dr. Fauci supports the current President. The response from the campaign was “he said it.”

I was exploring how I might pull a comment out of context in my own life to reverse its meaning. I thought of a whole sentence “I never said I will cook dinner.” Out of context one could retrieve “I will cook dinner.” Argument ensues. “You said it.”

Just as photos are being manipulated, so are words, pruned to distort their original meanings. Context matters!