Tel Aviv, Israel: I am sorry, that with all of the non-excitement of yesterday (no Farmers Market, etc.) that I did not report on the MOST EXCITING THING that happened all day. A mini track meet.
Well, it wasn’t a track meet in any way whatsoever, but we were up early to watch this amazing event. No prize money. No ribbons. No nuttin’. Just three of the best pole vaulters in the world, during a pandemic lockdown, doing a jump-off from their own personal pole vault pits in their own personal back gardens.
I mean, you have a pole vault pit in your yard, right?
Dubbed the Ultimate Garden Clash, current indoor world-record holder (6.18 meters/20.27 feet) Armand “Mondo” Duplantis (he jumps for Sweden) competed from his “garden” in Lafayette, Louisiana. Mondo is 20 years old.
Sam Kendricks (he jumps for the USA) competed from his garden in Oxford, Mississippi (his home town). Kendricks is 27 and attended the University of Mississippi. Sam is a two-time NCAA pole vault champ, World Champion in the London and Doha World Championships, and earned the Bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Kendricks has jumped 6.06 meters outdoor (19’ 10.5 inches). He’s the best American pole vaulter of all time.
Meanwhile, just outside of Paris, in Claremont-Ferrend, Renaud Lavillenie (he jumps for France), vaulted in a very narrow spot in his garden (with occasional glimpses of his wife and toddler daughter). Lavillenie has jumped 20 feet, 2.5 inches (February 2014), and has an Olympic gold medal (London, 2012), three world indoor championships wins... plus too many other titles to mention. Lavillenie is 33. The Old Man of the group.
The scheme was the athletes would jump as many times as possible over a 5 meter (16-ish feet) bar as many times as they could in two 15-minute periods.
For athletics fans, this was too much fun. We have been deprived of all spring meets and races. Just seeing these three vaulters (who are famously great friends) put on this competition for no reason, no prize money, no medals, and nothing but bragging rights, was great fun for this fan.
The result? A tie! Renaud and Mondo cleared the 16+ foot bar (this was for fun, people, not a world record!) 36 times. Each had one miss. Sam Kendricks cleared the height 26 times
for the bronze. There was some chit-chat about a jump-off, but the Old Man (Lavillenie) said j’ai terminé. And that was that.
So much fun and I hope our sport keeps repeating these events. Hello! Women pole vault too!
I walked this morning and Dave found me on the west golf course after his bike ride and continued another 1.5 miles with me. No pole vaulting for us. The geese must be getting ready for hatchlings, as they were very aggressive this morning - at one point charging My Poor Skinny Driver as he tried to meet-up with me. Though we have walked so many miles around the golf course, we have yet to have even one clue as to where the geese are hiding their nests... not like one actually has to sit on eggs when it is over 100 degrees...
After a lovely lunch, using the grilled chicken breast from last night in a salad, I “cowgirled-up” and went to the the local grocer. Mask. Gloves. It is like taking a life-risk to buy food these days. When we went to see a house-for-sale the other day, we noticed the grocery parking lot was abandoned. This afternoon, there was no parking. If I were a smarter woman (I’m not), I would have just returned to our campsite and returned another day.
Since my last visit to this grocer, (April 15th) things have changed. Masks are still required, but shopping carts are no longer sanitized for your protection. However, sanitizing wipes are again available for use. Exciting! There is still no TP, paper towels, Kleenex, nor flour, but I was able find most everything else. After watching the nightly news telling of meat shortages, there is an abundance of meat (of all sorts) in La Quinta.
I had a major melt-down after returning from the shopping expedition. And it truly is an expedition these days. I wore a dress that had pockets. Key fob and mini-hand sanitizer on one side, credit card in another. Hopefully I didn’t need my readers, because they were not on this trip. After acquiring my list (I shop this store all the time, so have my list organized by aisle) and bringing it all home... wiping-down everything, washing all fresh foods... etc... I just lost it. Broke down in tears. Is this how it will be from now on? Will Leo and Lucy be washing-down their veggies and fruits for the rest of their lives? Wearing masks & gloves?
It took a good hour to prepare the groceries to enter our pantry, freezer and refrigerator. Is this the new normal?
Just as I was a calming-down and getting dinner for tonight organized, I opened the spice cabinet and a teeny glass jar holding precious saffron spilled-out on the tile floor, exploded, and I lost a few strands.
I usually only cry when I am happy. (Often.) Today was not a good day. Considering how so many others are struggling, it is of no consequence that I caved over grocery shopping and saffron.
DAY 50 for us. My only excuse.
Which could explain my exciting choice of appetizer this evening: potato chips! After spending so much time sanitizing vegetables and fruits, I was ready for a cold martini (alcohol kills germs!). No energy to prepare a condiment-laden appetizer plate.
Tonight the US atomic clock set their standard to the time I poured my martini. It’s 5 o’clock
at Terry’s house somewhere.
I made an easy meal this evening - RV Falafel. Comes together quickly, with only a potato masher. I went simple tonight, without pita bread - just made falafel patties and served them with tzatziki sauce and an Israeli salad. It was 102 degrees.
A great meal. Vegetarian, and can be vegan - if you use a vegan yoghurt or a tahini sauce.
Until my next update, I remain, your MAY THE 4th BE WITH YOU correspondent.
This is an easy RV version of a popular middle-east street food, requiring no special appliances, and the ingredients are commonly available. Usually, the fried patties or balls are served inside pita bread. In Israel, tahini (sesame paste) is the most popular topping, but I prefer Tzatziki (a cucumber yoghurt sauce). Alternatively, you can form the dough into smaller patties or balls and serve them as an appetizer, with Tzatziki sauce as a dip. Or serve the warm patties over a bed of greens, topped with Tzatziki. This recipe is also great if you are feeding vegetarians/vegans - make the patties larger and they are delicious in a hamburger bun. Plan ahead - the dough needs to rest for about two hours before forming into patties and frying.
One 15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup finely minced yellow onion
½ cup finely minced fresh parsley (I use flat-leaf Italian parsley)
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
(Oil for frying - vegetable, peanut of grapeseed oil)
Pita Bread, if desired
Sliced tomatoes/sliced cucumbers to accompany, if desired
6 ounces plain Greek yoghurt
2-inch piece of cucumber (peeled or not, your choice - I peel)
Pinch of salt, if desired (do this)
Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and place them on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to dry while you chop the onion and parsley. Place the garbanzo beans and lemon juice in a medium bowl and smash, with either a potato masher or a fork, until all the beans are broken and no large pieces remain. Add the minced onion and parsley. Stir well. Mix the flour, salt, cumin and coriander in a small bowl. Whisk well, then add the spice mixture to the garbanzo beans mixture. Blend very well. (Dough will seem quite crumbly.) Place dough in refrigerator for at least two hours, or as long as all day.
Make Tzatziki Sauce: If you have a grater in your RV, use it to grate the cucumber. If not, diced it as small as possible, resulting in about ¼ cup of grated cucumber. Add the cucumber to the plain yoghurt and stir to combine. Add salt if you want. Place the Tzatziki sauce in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld for a few hours.
Fry the Falafel: Take a small handful of dough and squeeze it tight to form a 2-inch patty. (This recipe will make about ten 2-inch patties.) Heat a skillet and coat the bottom with a very generous layer of oil. Let the oil get very hot and carefully place the little patties into the hot oil. Fry for three or four minutes on each side, or until the falafel have browned and the edges are crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain, then serve immediately in warm pita bread halves. Stuff also with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, if desired, topped with Tzatziki sauce. Serves 2 or 3.