Archive for July 2016


July 30, 2016

Here I sit at our dining room table writing a blog post. We have no appointments, no things that need to get done, no errands, no grocery shopping. Nothing.

Paula is working on cleaning up our bedroom. Organizing and dusting. Me, I’m just writing a post.

So I’m done reading the NY Times and Boston Globe. The conventions are done. I’ve done two crossword puzzles. Saturday puzzles are the hardest.

img_4456Mary finally got up at about 11:45. Fed her breakfast and made sure she took her meds. Now she’s back in bed. She probably won’t be up until 6 pm to watch the evening news.

It’s afternoon and that means time for iced coffee. We started getting a product from Starbuck’s that is cold brew unsweetened coffee. Sold in the supermarket dairy section. Good stuff.

Once again, the conventions are done. Can anyone explain to me why in this day and age that we have to wait until November to vote in the general election. If you haven’t figured out by now who you’re going to vote for you, you’re not paying attention or something. BTW, I’m voting for Hillary. If you follow me on FB, you probably know that already. Though I expect that 100 days will be enough time for Trump to shoot himself in the foot a few times.

So tomorrow is the Chili Cook-off at LA Harbor Lodge in San Pedro. So I will be getting out the crock pot this evening and getting my entry ready. I will be doing a pork tenderloin and black bean chili. Here’s the recipe.

Later this evening I will be watching my Boston Red Sox play the Angels. Since the Angels are a local team, that means that the game will be blacked out on MLBtv. I will have to find it on the feed from our cable provider (Time Warner).

Well the iced coffee is done, that means it must be time for my martini.





July 28, 2016

Time for an update. The process of updating her will and other related estate documents is moving forward. I should have a draft for review in the next couple of days. We have been making contact with her investment banks to make sure that a TOD Beneficiary has been signed and filed. (TOD stands for Transfer on Death.) I have only one or two left to do. I need to do it when Mary is up and alert, because the banks generally want to talk with her.

The goal here is to avoid probate. Probate involves time and lawyer fees. Both are to be avoided.  Unless of course, you happen to be a lawyer.

Mary seems to be having trouble getting functional in the morning. She hasn’t been going to either church or Bible study. Church is at 10:30 AM and Bible Study is at 10 AM. Usually she is complaining of dizziness. She goes back to bed. The dizziness  usually passes by noon. So I have started making her appointments for noon or later.

So on Wednesday night, we all went to a 50 year ceremony and dinner at Lodge for Bob Haynes. Bob was a good friend of Harold’s when he was alive. Being a Mason for fifty years is a very big deal in the Masonic fraternity. Hell, doing anything for fifty years is a big deal. We all had an excellent steak dinner. Mary has trouble with the buffet line, so Paula usually gets Mary a plate of food. After dinner, we went into the lodge room for the ceremony. Bob was escorted into the lodge and then to the East. Introductions were made of all the friends, family and Masonic dignitaries.

Then Bob got up to speak. He told us that he written a few words on his computer at home but he had left them at home on his computer. Nevertheless, he was not short of words. He gave a shout-out to Mary. Glad to see you here.

On Sunday, we will be going to the lodge’s chili cook-off. I will be doing a pork and black bean chili. Good eatin. And on Monday, we will be going to our OES meeting. More eating.



Star Trek Beyond

July 28, 2016

Star Trek BeyondTuesday night is usually our family dinner night where our son and his family come over for dinner. But last night they were heading up to San Francisco to visit with Theresa’s extended family in the Bay Area. So Paula and I were free for the evening.

So Paula picked up some fried chicken on the home from her shift at the Assistance League in San Pedro. We fed Mary and turned on the news for her on the TV and we headed out to see “Star Trek Beyond” at 7:40 PM. This was a bit later than we normally go to movies, but the price was right. Adult tickets were $5. Didn’t even have to be a senior.

If we wanted to go up to Torrance, we could have seen it either in 3D or IMAX. (For more money of course.) But we decided to do it on the cheap.

I am not sure about the title. It is emminently forgettable. I said to myself, Star Trek something. I had to look it up again on IMDB before I started this post.

Just so you understand, they have the good old NCC-1701 Enterprise along with Capt. Kirk, Spock, Scottie and the rest of the gang. It’s a new story with a new cast of young actors. This reboot was produced by J.J. Abrams.

All of the lead actors are pretty much unknown. The actor who plays Capt. Kirk is Chris Pine. Here’s a bit of trivia. He was the first lead Star Trek actor born after the franchise began. Here’s his link to his IMDB page.

So overall, we enjoyed the show. I thought it was better than the Star Wars reboot that we saw a few months ago. The casting was done well. I felt just a little bit of nostalgia for Leonard Nimoy. In fact, during the credits they had a “In Memoriam” to Leonard Nimoy. Nice touch.

Okay, here come the spoilers. If you want to see the film, stop reading here and go and see it.

So the Enterprise is cruising around the galaxy and they head into a deep space star ship port called “Yorktown”. It was a place where the crew could get some R & R. They were hardly there a day when they get a call to go to some planet deep inside a Nebula or something. You know deep down in your soul that something bad is coming down.

Before you know it Capt Kirk and his band of merry men were under attack. So 15 minutes into the film and the Enterprise crash lands on the nasty planet. That wouldn’t have happened to the old Capt Kirk. Maybe the new Capt. Kirk doesn’t know how to use the shields or something. So the new Capt. Kirk has 1 hour and 45 minutes to make things right.

So most of the crew gets captured by the bad guys on the planet. But our heroes avoid capture and manage to save everyone. That should be enough. It was a fun movie with lots of action. Sometime it was difficult to keep track of everything going on the screen. There was even a motorcycle scene.


Wild Fire

July 25, 2016

Well, it occurred to me that our friends back east might be wondering whether we were affected by the current wild fires in Southern California. The current fire that is called the “Sand Fire” is big in the news out here. I am not always quite sure how the locals come up with a name for a fire. But they’re fighting the fire, they can name it whatever they want. 

The local hour long news this evening spent about 45 minutes covering the fire. Then the national news led the program with news about fire in Southern California. Okay, Los Angeles is a huge area. LA County is about as big as Rhode Island.

So here’s a map of Greater Los Angeles.

We live down near Long Beach which is mostly an urban area. Not much chance of wild fire. The current fire (called the “Sand Fire”) is up near Santa Clarita. The 14 freeway that runs from Simi Valley to Palmdale has been shut down due to the fire. Many people have been evacuated due to the fire.

There is certainly a risk to owning a home up near the mountains especially now due to the drought. Risk is much less for us down south in an urban setting.  A lot of the people that live up there own wild stock, horses and the like. So, evacuating is not easy.


July 16, 2016

Time for an update on Mary. It has been a challenging week to be sure. She is doing okay. Not much change from the previous report. Physically, she is fine but she is still struggling with memory. No falls. She actually asked to use her walker a couple of nights ago.

Our word for today is “Probate”. Back on Monday, I made an appointment with Mary’s lawyer to update her will and related estate documents. She had done a full will package back in 2010 and I thought it would be prudent to review and update the package. So I made an appointment to meet with him on Thursday at 11 AM.

So when Thursday came along, she was coming up with all the excuses in the book as to why she couldn’t go to see the lawyer.2016-07-15 19.24.17 So she was digging in her heels. So Paula and I went without her. We brought all the documentation from the previous will. It was probably just as well. I pretty much knew what needed to be done. Having Mary with us would have just slowed the process down.

So right now, the only things that will get her out of the house are either her appointment to get her hair done or a doctor’s appointment. So in the future, I think I will schedule bank visits right after her hair appointment. That way I will already have her in the car and going places. Just one more stop. Laws of physics apply here, “A body in motion, tends to stay in motion”. So it is with Mary. Getting her to move in the first place is the hard part.

The previous will had our son Mike listed as the executor. I wanted to change the executors to be Paula and myself. Mike doesn’t have the time to deal with this stuff. The 2010 will was done when we were still on the East Coast and Mike was living in LA. It made sense at that time. Now, not so much.

We also asked our lawyer to look into her “living trust”. Mary’s condo deed is held by her family trust. So we need to be added as trustees to Mary’s family trust. This allows for the transfer of the title of the condo to pass to us after her death with a minimum of fuss. The last thing that we asked for was a “Durable Power of Attorney”. This would allow us to manage Mary’s personal affairs.

We will need to transfer her investments to the trust for the same reason. As it stands right now, her investment accounts don’t have any beneficiary named. That means that were she to die tomorrow, her investment accounts would be tied up in probate for a couple of years while we probated her will. Not a good thing. So we’re dealing with a new will, new durable power of attorney, trust doc’s, HIPPA documents, etc.

So I made a call to her investment account advisers to see whether or not a beneficiary had been named. So she has about six accounts set up with various bank’s investment companies. I suppose that having the multiple accounts spreads the risk, but it makes it a pain in the ass to deal with. Of course, she has no knowledge of any of the accounts. Eventually I will merge some of the accounts so that I am only dealing with a couple of accounts rather than 6-8.

So we should have a set of draft documents in a couple of weeks for our review. Then we will schedule the signing. At that time, I will bring the lawyer to her. Once I have updated trust documents, I should be able to do most of the changes to the investment accounts. The thing that gets this complicated is that most of her signatures will need to be notarized. More trips to the bank.

So the big question is why didn’t I start to do this a long time ago? No easy answers I suppose. It’s just a painful process to get all of the paperwork prepared, signed and notarized. I guess maybe that I had hoped that she had set up all of the accounts the right way in the first place and that we wouldn’t need to redo all of the estate documents. Sigh…

We’re off to the Greek Festival in Redondo Beach.






Write Me a Letter

July 10, 2016

We spent Saturday doing another deep dive at the storage locker. We took a lot of glassware to the Goodwill. We threw a bunch of stuff into the dumpster. And we brought back a couple of boxes of pictures and memorabilia worth looking into. We continue to struggle with lack of dates and info on the back of pictures. We found a bunch of black and white pics from the 40’s and early 50’s. Paula didn’t recognize anyone and I’m sure that Mary won’t have a clue. Also, the pictures were too small to bother with scanning. So in the trash they go.

We did however find some treasures. We found a couple of pictures that I had taken during a vacation trip in Maine and PEI.


The other interesting tidbit was a letter sent by Pvt. Paul Stanley (Harold’s Father) to his wife (Mimi). The letter was sent in November 1942 from Midland, TX where Paul was in the Army. We’re not quite sure exactly why Paul was in the army. He was a bit old for active duty (he was born in 1898). So here is the scan of the envelope. Two thing to note. No stamp. Postage was free for personal letters home. Addressed to Mrs. Paul Stanley, not Mrs. Mimi Stanley. Married women were always referenced as Mrs. [husband’s name] [husband’s last name.]

Apparently Valley Falls, KS was a small town. No other address info. I suspect that the letter reached the intended recipient without any trouble.

Apparently, Mimi (aka Mabel) joined Paul in Texas soon after the letter was sent because there was an ID card for Mabel at the Army Air Forces Bombardier School in Midland issued in Jan. 1943. So at this point, Harold was 24. Harold was born in August of 1919. Paula tells me by that time he was working at the Douglas Aircraft Co in Long Beach, CA. Interesting how people moved in those days to help with war effort.

So Mabel was 43. Her statue was listed as “Stout”. There’s a euphemism for you. That’s what you called someone who 5’2″ tall and weighed 156 lbs. The letter begins, “Dear Mother”. To which I replied, Huh? Apparently a term of endearment. I guess.



By the way, Paul (or Paw-Paw) as Paula called him, died of a massive heart attack in the summer of 1954 while traveling up to Lassen National Park in Northern California.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

July 8, 2016

Last night was an extra special date night. We went to see “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” at the Hollywood Pantages Theater. This is the touring version of the hit Broadway show. The show covers the story of Carole King’s beginnings in writing pop hits in the sixties and eventually her emergence as star performer in her own right.

We have done other shows but they were in downtown LA. The Pantages is a well restored Art Deco styled theater that is just so beautiful to look at. “Beautiful” is doing a three week engagement. It’s got to be a tough job doing a touring gig. I’m assuming everyone loves it.

The theater was sold out. It seems that most of the people attending were over the age of 60. There was a lot of gray hair. There some 40-50 somethings but not very many.

This was the first time that Paula and I managed to make it to Hollywood since we moved to LA four years ago. There is a reason that we don’t want to go to Hollywood. The traffic is just horrible.  I loved the Righteous Brothers baritone doing “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling”. It was fun to read the stars on the Hollywood Blvd. Some were performers that we had heard of, many we had never heard of.

Anyway, Paula had asked me if we could try to get tickets to the touring Hamilton that is in LA this summer. I looked at the prices. Yikes!! I’d need a second mortgage. Not that Beautiful was much cheaper. Anyways, I’m not much of a fan of rap music, and I am huge fan of Carole King.

At any rate, the show was awesome. I particularly loved the Shirelles and the Drifters. They nailed the dance routines. It felt like going back in time. The music and dancing was awesome. If you get the chance, go see it.

Carole King was played by Abby Mueller and Gerry Goffin by Liam Tobin.

Now for the links.

Oh, a note to my lodge and OES pals. You’re going to be hearing many of these tunes on the piano over the next few meetings.

One final comment. I was amused how easily the stage crew moved sets on and off of the stage. Pianos, desks, couches and other props seemed to just magically glide on or off stage. Even the concert grand glided off like it was on an ice skating rink. I asked one of the ushers how did they do that. She told me that “We have a union shop”. I told her that must be it then.

Joe’s Chicken Soup

July 2, 2016

What does one do with the leftover carcass of a chicken? Last Tuesday we did a roasted chicken for our weekly family dinner. So we had a leftover chicken carcass. So I decided to do a chicken soup for dinner tonight.

Here’s how you do it. Put the carcus into a stew pot and cover with water. Boil/simmer for 3-3.5 hours. After the three hours take all of the chicken out of the pot and put into a sieve. Usually the carcass falls apart pretty much. Take all of the meat out of the pot and put into a sieve. Remove any of the chicken bones that you can find. Warning, the bones and cartilage pieces will be small. In our case we also had some leftover chicken in the refrigerator. That got thrown in as well. The concept is to clean out our refrigerator of leftovers before our family dinner next Tuesday.

This also works quite well for turkey. And if you are not ready to make the soup right away then freeze the carcas. It’ll keep. I first learned about this idea from an article about Michael Dukakis (former governor of Mass.)

Return the chicken to the pot. Add 1c of carrots and 1 c of celery to the pot. I like to add noodles to the mix. I cook 8 oz. of noodles for about 10 minutes. Drain and add to the pot. Add whatever vegetables you like. Perhaps, peas, maybe corn. Some folks prefer rice to noodles.  In that case add about 1 cup of uncooked rice to the pot. 

Also, this time I used a packet of chicken gravy mix. Cook according to the directions on the package, then add to the pot. It makes the soup a little bit thicker.

Cook over very low heat for another two hours. Serve with fresh bread. Very tasty.