Day 137: Kindling Walk!

Yesterday was Day 137 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge

I decided to take a different route today, and walked through a neighborhood lined with Sycamore cozyfireand California Valley Oak trees. I was surprised by the number of twigs and small branches that were strewn all over the ground. The trees were shedding kindling like crazy!  It’s serendipitous how Mother Nature provides fuel for fires at this chilly time of year.

Papa prided himself on his ability to start a cozy fire in the fireplace from scratch using kindling and other materials. If you’ve never done it, you may enjoy this tutorial at “The Art of Manliness” website.

Days 135 & 136: I Smell Smoke!

house chimneyDays 135 & 136 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge!  

Yesterday and today, I got the season’s first whiff of wood-burning smoke curling from a few chimneys in the neighborhood. There’s been a real chill in the air and people are starting to use their fireplaces and stoves to warm their homes.

I love the smell of wood burning smoke. It brings back fond memories of Papa showing me how to build a fire in the fireplace and how to tend it throughout the night.

Frankly, I rue the day we discovered it’s bad for us, as the Environmental Protection Agency explains at their website, Burn Wise, where they offer tips to protect your health when heating with wood including:

•Burn dry, seasoned wood that has been split, stacked, covered and stored.

•Test wood with a moisture meter (20 percent moisture or less is best).

•Use a cleaner-burning gas or wood stove.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we run the risk of paying a $500 fine for burning wood on a “Spare the Air” DayNeighbors are encouraged to report violators – Big Brother is watching!

You can find out the air quality where you live at any time by visiting


Days 132, 133, 134: I Walk a Latte!

Days 132-134 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge!  

On Friday, October 25th, my friend, Debbi, and I walked to a nearby shoppinglatte center to enjoy a Starbuck’s latte. It was about a two and a half mile round trip, but the walk home was faster, fueled by caffeine.

I enjoyed a coffee break in the middle of my walk so much on Friday, that I did it again on Saturday and Sunday. I remembered that Papa enjoyed sipping a Starbuck’s latte, but he always balked at the price. After three days, I realized that I had gulped down $11.10. No wonder they call it StarBUCKS!


Day 131: Walk ‘n’ Work

Thursday, October 24th, was Day 131 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge!  

After being cooped up in the office all morning, my marketing assistant, Suzanne, and I were struggling to develop a marketing plan for Papa’s Pearls for the holiday season. We decided to take a break, and took a long walk with her dog, Lela.

We found the autumn scenery and fresh air invigorating and feeling recharged, we mapped out a plan of action that we began implementing when we returned to the office. Details coming soon!


Days 128, 129, & 130: Olive Harvest Time!

Days 128, 129, & 130 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge!

For the past few days, I’ve been dodging olives that have dropped from trees and scattered across the sidewalks. There are lots of olive trees throughout my neighborhood. The olives have begun to change color from green to red to purple, and some are black (indicating the peak of ripeness). It’s olive harvest time!olive

That said, even when they’re ripe, most olives are unpalatable. They have to be cured to rid them of their bitter flavor.

I know that most people think of olives as being from the Mediterranean region of the world, but as Spanish priests built the California missions they planted olive trees as well. California has a similar climate to the Mediterranean area.

According to, Olive trees are hardy, easy to grow, and have a  life expectancy of 500 years. It’s hard to kill them, too – the trees easily sprout back when chopped to the ground.

Although olive cultivation dates back to 3000 B.C. in Syria, the earliest written record of olive oil production in California is 1803, with the first commercial olive oil mill established in 1871 in Ventura County, California. Olives are big business throughout California with over 10,000 acres cultivated for olive-oil production.  In fact, you can learn a lot about the California olive industry by visiting:

Papa’s favorite meal was a green salad tossed with olive oil and vinegar. He loved the flavor of olive oil and used it long before it became a food fad in the 1980s.

Ever wonder how olives go from orchard to oil? Take a virtual field trip to the Olivina olive ranch in Livermore, California to learn all about it!

Did you know that my home town is the location of the Annual Arts & Olive Festival?  It’s true!  Cañada College in Redwood City, California has had a unique relationship with olives since its inception. Many of the historic olive trees that dot the landscape were naturalized from early California plantings. According to the website, “… a group of trees were transplanted to the site following the Panama Pacific Exposition held in San Francisco in the early 1900’s.” The festival is a student scholarship fundraiser.

I appreciate olive trees in the fall, however, when the trees are in bloom I suffer. I’m allergic to olive trees.  🙁

If you want to know more about olives, the Sonoma County UC Cooperative Extension maintains an olive page at their website with all kinds of downloadable and printable pamphlets and reports on olives and olive oil production.



Days 126 & 127: Pomegranate Walks!

Days 126 and 127 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge!  

On Saturday, near the end of my walk, I noticed a pomegranate bush in the side yard of a neighbor’s home that was full of ripe, red, pomegranate fruit. I decided to keep my eyes peeled for pomegranate bushes as I walked on Sunday, and found 6 of them over a course of 2.5 miles. All of the bushes had ripe fruit on them – some of the fruit had burst on the pomegranate bushbush, revealing the red, juicy seeds inside.

Pomegranates have a long and fascinating history, as you’ll discover if you visit these websites: – Watch a short but informative video of how pomegranates go from tree to bottle to produce the POM Wonderful brand of pomegranate juice.  When you’re through watching, use the menu to explore the history of pomegranates and discover the health benefits of the antioxidants in this “superfood.” Get some tasty recipes too!

How To Peel a Pomegranate -This website offers instructions and a video tutorial.

The Story of Persephone  – At this website you can read the story of Persephone, who in Greek mythology ate pomegranates resulting in a partial explanation for Earth’s seasons.

Days 121 & 122: There’s Gonna Be A Stomachache Tonight…


Last Monday and Tuesday, October 14th and 15th, were Days 121 & 122 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge!

It was all I could do to get out of bed on Monday morning. I thought I had the flu, but my husband was suffering from the pizzasame flu-like symptoms – and that’s when I remembered we had eaten delivery pizza the night before. There’s nothing like a food borne illness to start the week.  Once the Imodium kicked in, I was determined to go for a walk. You know what? Walking made me feel better!

By Tuesday, we were almost fully recovered. To add some levity to our predicament, we turned to the music parodies of Dr. Carl Winter. He is the Director of the FoodSafe Program and Extension Food Toxicologist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California at Davis. He provides food safety education through music by setting lyrics about food borne illnesses and their causes to popular pop and rock songs.  He’s known as the “Elvis of E.Coli” and the “Sinatra of Salmonella” for parodies such as “Stomachache Tonight” (a take off on the Eagles’ Heartache Tonight).

I hummed songs from Dr. Winter’s CD of song parodies as I took my Papa’s Walk on Tuesday.  🙂



Day 120: Moving and Boxes and Stairs, Oh My!

Last Sunday, October 13th, was Day 120 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge!   moving

My husband and I volunteered to help our son move into his new digs, an apartment in San Jose, California.  I decided that the multiple trips transferring 30 boxes of stuff from his old place into my van, and then moving those same boxes from the van into his new apartment qualified as part of my Papa’s Walk. There weren’t that many stairs involved, but it still felt like I’d completed a step aerobics class by the time we were through.   A quick walk around the neighborhood completed the day.

Day 119: Persimmon Walk!

Today is Day 119 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge!  

As I started my walk it was foggy and dreary until I noticed something that lit up the landscape – persimmons!  The bright orange globes hanging from tree branches brightened the hachiya persimmonsscenery and my frame of mind.

Did you know that the persimmon tree is native to China? It was brought to California in 1870, where it proliferated. Learn more about persimmons at the UC Davis Fruit and Nut Education website.

The first tree I spotted had Fuyu persimmons. Fuyus have a slightly flattened spherical shape. They sort of resemble pumpkins. This is the variety that tastes best raw because it doesn’t have as much tannic acid as other varieties.

All of the rest of the trees I saw had Hachiya persimmons. Their perfect acorn shape is more attractive, but they’re practically inedible raw. They are very astringent and will make your mouth pucker and coat your tongue so that it feels dry and yucky. They are best when the pulp is used to bake cookies, breads, and puddings. Here are some recipes to try…

Papa’s Favorite Persimmon Bread

A co-worker gave this recipe to me in 1981. I make it whenever a neighbor shares their persimmon harvest. Papa enjoyed this baked goodieThis recipe makes two 9-inch loaves – one for you, and one for your Papa. 🙂


1 cup seedless raisins
½ cup of brandy (or use warm water)
2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup white sugar
2 cups ripe Hachiya persimmon pulp
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon powdered ginger
1 cup chopped pecans
Butter for pans
Flour for pans

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak raisins in brandy (or water) until they plump and set aside. Mix together the sugars with the persimmon pulp and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to egg mixture, blending well. Add raisins and pecans. Pour into 2 buttered and floured loaf pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a  toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Then, remove loaves from pans, and allow loaves to cool completely on racks. Serve with a dollop of whip cream.

You may also enjoy these recipes…

BONUS!  Learn How to Predict The Weather with a Persimmon Seed at the Old Farmer’s Almanac Website. Have fun!