How To Make Strawberry Jam / Cómo Hacer Mermelada De Fresa

La versión español está después de la primera foto.

IN 1986, SAN Geraldo and I moved from Washington, DC, to New Haven, Connecticut. San Geraldo had grown up “canning.” It was unheard of in my family; that’s what country folk did.

Since we were now living close to “the country” and had lots of farm stands nearby, San Geraldo suggested we make strawberry jam. He knew exactly what to do. When the jam was all cooked up and ready to go into the jars for preserving, San Geraldo gave me a taste.

“Wow!” I exclaimed. “That tastes just like strawberry jam!”

San Geraldo roared with laughter and said, “What did you think it would taste like?”

I phoned my parents. My Mother The Dowager Duchess (before she was a dowager) answered.

“You won’t believe what we just made,” I bragged.

“What?” she asked.

“Strawberry jam!” I said.

“From what?” she gasped.

“From strawberries!!!”

The next year we moved 15 miles west of New Haven to a more rural location in Guilford, and we got serious about canning. For 150 years, Guilford had been hosting an agricultural fair. We canned peaches, tomatoes, Kosher dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, and a variety of jams. And, every year, we won lots of ribbons and purple rosettes (for best in show).

Even our Kosher dill pickles tasted exactly like Kosher dill pickles. I still can’t believe it.

(You thought there’d be a recipe, didn’t you?)


EN 1986, SAN Geraldo y yo nos mudamos de Washington, DC, a New Haven, Connecticut. San Geraldo había crecido “enlatado”. Era inaudito en mi familia; eso es lo que hizo la gente del campo.

Como ahora vivíamos cerca de “el campo” y teníamos muchos puestos de granja cerca, San Geraldo sugirió que hiciéramos mermelada de fresa. Él sabía exactamente qué hacer. Cuando la mermelada estaba cocida y lista para meterse en los frascos para su conservación, San Geraldo me dio un sabor.

“¡Guau!” yo exclamé. “¡Eso sabe exactamente a mermelada de fresa!”

San Geraldo rió a carcajadas y dijo: “¿A qué crees que sabría?”

Yo telefoneé a mis padres. Mi Madre La Duquesa Viuda (ántes de ella era una viuda) respondió.

“No vais a creer lo que hicimos”, me jacté.

“¿Qué?” ella preguntó.

“¡Mermelada de fresa!” Dije.

“¿¡¿De qué?!?” ella jadeó.

“¡De fresas!” le dije.

El año siguiente nos mudamos 15 millas al oeste de New Haven a una ubicación más rural en Guilford, y nos pusimos serios con respecto al enlatado.

Durante 150 años, Guilford había sido sede de una feria agrícola. Conservamos melocotones, tomates, encurtidos de eneldo kosher, encurtidos “pan y mantequilla”, y una variedad de mermeladas. Y, cada año, ganamos un montón de cintas y rosetones púrpuras (por Mejor de la Exposición).

Incluso nuestros encurtidos de eneldo Kosher sabían exactamente igual que los encurtidos de eneldo Kosher. Todavía no puedo creerlo.

(Pensaste que habría una receta, ¿verdad?)

1988 Best in Show, our blueberry lime jam. It tasted exactly like blueberry lime jam. Really! / Mejor de la Exposición, nuestra mermelada de lima y arándanos. Sabía exactamente como mermelada de lima y arándanos. ¡De verdad!

Eating Jamaican Black Cake With Ron

The first batch (of five) Jamaican Black Cakes are out of the oven. They get soaked in rum until, a) we think they’ve had enough or, b) we run out of rum.

We cut into the first cake because we had to test the batch and make sure it’s good enough to give to anyone else. My perfectly cut parchment paper bases did the trick. The cake is excellent.

I like the fact that “Rum” is “Ron” in Spanish. I’m just having some cake with Ron (even though my friend Ron lives in Nova Scotia).

Yesterday’s blog post inspired me to get the other box of holiday decorations out of the closet so I can display them all.

I haven’t done it yet, but at least I’m inspired.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d show you some more of the handmade ornaments I’ve already set out.

(Click the images… because they get bigger.)


One set of ornaments was created by dear old friends in Connecticut. They have two daughters and we all used to love to play Pictionary Junior together. As a going-away gift when we moved to San Diego, California, in 1993, Don and Bev, and Laura and Sarah each created an ornament from one of the Pictionary cards. We will forever cherish the gift and all the memories.

More of San Geraldo’s handiwork…


So What, I’m A Rock Star


We have a new piano! We went Friday to a great music shop, Organigrama Málaga, and the piano was delivered today. San Geraldo had done his research (he plays; I don’t), so there was no real shopping, just paying. While we stood at the counter a rockstar wannabe was trying out an electric guitar. It was painful to hear.

San Geraldo had a piano when we met in 1981, an old baby grand; it was very old and not very grand. He sold the piano before we moved to Los Angeles in 1982. In 1987, after our second move following Los Angeles, I bought him a new upright piano for his birthday. We sold that in 1993 before we moved to San Diego where we bought a new baby grand. That moved to San Francisco with us in 1998. It had to be craned from our driveway onto the third-floor terrace of our house because it wouldn’t fit up the stairs to the living room.

Not wanting to crane it back out, we sold the piano with the house when we left San Francisco in 2000. Then, in 2003 (after yet another move), we bought a digital piano for our home in Santa Barbara. That moved to Las Vegas with us in 2007 and, a year later, we sold it to our neighbours when we began to downsize.

I’d like to take lessons, but I’d also like to immediately be able to play like Elton John.

Or Rachmaninov.


I might have to lower my expectations before I start. Fortunately, for everyone’s sake, the piano is digital. I can just plug in the headphones and no one will ever know the truth (except me).

I wish that guitar player in the shop had been wearing headphones.


Na na na na na na na, na na na na na na….

I Had To Change


Shortly after I was diagnosed with, and began treatment for, clinical depression (see previous blog post), San Geraldo and I were on the move again. It was our third move in our five years together. From Boston, Massachusetts; to Los Angeles, California; to Washington D.C.; to New Haven, Connecticut.

I was doing well and didn’t seem to need any talk therapy. The antidepressant medication had done the trick. After about a year on the medication, I independently decided I was ready to go drug-free. I phased off the meds and continued to do well. However, over the course of the next year, without really realising it, I had begun to give myself those pep talks again to help me face the days. Finally, more than a year later, I had another major crash. I found a psychiatrist in New Haven and started back on Sinequan. He was a Freudian psychiatrist (so, let’s call him Sigmund) and hardly spoke. But that didn’t really matter to me. At first, I just wanted to talk and cry. But, after a few weeks, the medication levelled off my brain chemistry again and I was back to this new life I had been learning to live. I was no longer crying and only went to Sigmund for weekly med checks.

Since Sigmund didn’t talk, he didn’t help me to understand my condition any more clearly. I still thought I could get to a point where I wouldn’t need to take medication. So, I went through another cycle of about a year and half without medication before another crash. And I still wasn’t learning.

By the next crash (yet another), we were living in California (having moved from New Haven after 1-1/2 years to Guilford, Connecticut, and then to San Diego five years later where we celebrated our 12th anniversary). I found a psychiatrist who truly changed my life permanently (although I still had my stubborn moments).

When I insisted I didn’t need to be on medication forever, he asked, “Would you say that if you were diabetic?”

“That’s different,” I argued.

And thus began my real education on the “illness” called clinical depression. I’ve read that clinical depression is one-third each biological, brain chemistry, and inherited traits (if broken into quarters, the fourth would be hormones). Maybe an oversimplification, but my depression I’m sure has been partly a result of my childhood and later-life experiences. But many children have suffered much more troubled childhoods. And many adults have suffered much more painful lives. This is simply the way my brain responds. There’s nobody and no thing to blame. Besides, I’ve looked hard into my life experiences and, finally, there’s only me to face the result and survive it.


I know that physical activity is important for me. And healthy mental activity, too. But those alone are not enough. Unless there is some new revelation in the treatment of clinical depression, I now accept that I will likely always be on medication to treat it. And that’s fine with me. Sometimes, the medication may need to be changed or adjusted. That’s also fine with me. Yes, I do have some challenging times, but they’re nothing like those crashes I used to have. And, as I think about it, I probably wouldn’t give up my experience of this depression. Now that I’ve survived it, at least. It has played a large part in forming the person I am. I’m sure it’s where my humour was born. It taught me to be more honest with myself and with others. And it has certainly taught me to appreciate this life.

I’m still learning to forgive (myself and others) and to forget what doesn’t do me any good to remember. But, as long as I’m being honest, I haven’t forgiven everyone. And I haven’t forgotten everything. OK, and I can still be bitter, sarcastic, and acerbic. But not all the time. So, what the hell.

Many of you were very moved by my recent revelations and I’m so grateful for your support and understanding. But please don’t cry for me. I’m here to entertain you, enlighten you, charm and inform you. (Ain’t I grand?) I’m not here to depress you!

The truth is…