Archive for November 2016

Thanksgiving

November 24, 2016

2016-11-23-12-12-26It is time to reflect on all that we are thankful for this year. First and foremost, I am thankful for my lovely wife, Paula. She has been my partner now for 38 years. She has been by my side through thick and thin, good and bad. I don’t know what I would do without her.

Second, we are thankful that our son and his lovely wife live near by along with their (oh so cute) children. When we made the decision to move to California five years ago,  if they had not been living here, we probably would have stayed in Massachusetts.

In that case we would have moved Mary, kicking and screaming back to MA to live with us.

So what about Neil? Our other son, Neil, lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. SLC is a lot closer to LA than it is to MA. We get to see Neil from time to time. No grandchildren from Neil yet. Sigh. Maybe some day?

We are also thankful that Paula’s mother Mary is alive and healthy. She has reached the ripe old age of 92, bless her heart. Lord grant me the patience to deal with her. She can be a pain in the butt sometimes. We  have managed to keep her safe. No broken bones. Our goal has been to keep her out of a nursing home. And in that goal, we have been successful. We make sure that she gets fed and takes her meds.

We have a good home. We live in a condo that is well suited for elder care. We have no stairs (ie. all on one level). No trip hazards. We have an elevator that takes us to our parking garage. It’s big enough for all three of us to live comfortably.

So what about Thanksgiving? Needless to say, this is a decision that is way above my pay grade. The site of our feast wasn’t settled until a few days ago. In the past few years, we have gone to Theresa’s cousin Eric in Rancho Palos Verdes. Eric has a house that can easily host a large crowd, ranging in age from infant to 90ish. Eric’s wife Nikki said that she didn’t want to do it this year. We can’t do it, not enough space. Best we can do is have total of eight for dinner.

So it was decided to do it at Uncle Min’s house (also in RPV). Not quite as big as Eric’s place, but it will do. Uncle Min is part of Theresa’s extended family. Thanksgiving dinner is always an interesting blend of American and Chinese cuisine. Also, Uncle Min has a piano (and that is a good thing), so I will be bringing my iPad to play. We always enjoy seeing the extend family that we generally only see once a year.

And finally, thank you to all of the folks who read my rantings on my Blog. I originally started writing this blog to reach my friends who didn’t do Facebook. It has grown to so much more than that. This blog along with Facebook allows me to keep in touch with so many people that we have met over the years. I have been told that back in the day, people wrote letters on paper with a pen.

Anyhow, I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

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Mary

November 12, 2016

Time for an update on Mary. No falls of late. We have been insisting on her using the walker. The walker has made a world of difference. She has been doing physical therapy twice a week. Sometimes, she tries to blow it off, complaining of dizziness. Most of the time we insist that she go. “It’s for your own good” and “We made an appointment for you”, etc.

The dementia continues to slowly get worse. Sometimes she will say something that is totally incongruous. For instance, a couple of months ago, she asked us if the lodge building was new? No we said, the building has been here for about 50 years.

She no longer goes to church on Sunday or the Bible study on Wednesday morning. We try our best to persuade her to go, but to no avail. She usually uses her dizziness as her excuse. But she will get up, get dressed and go to the hair salon to get her washed and set. Go figure. We try to make sure that one of us stays here with her. So that means that only one of us goes to church. Paula does Sunday and I do the Wednesday meeting. We don’t even think about having enough time to go out to the movies.

Most days, she gets up around 9 AM and has her usual breakfast of instant oatmeal with blueberries on top and coffee. Once she finishes she gets up and goes back to bed and sleeps all day until we wake her to watch the evening news. Today was different. Theresa had dropped off Jonathan and Sarah while she went to her choir rehearsal. Mary wouldn’t ever go back to bed if the grand kids were in the house. She wouldn’t miss that for the world.

Today we are watching our grandkids for Mike & Theresa. So we were all out side for a walk around our court yard. We normally have a very nice courtyard around our condo facility. But last week, they started ripping out part of the planter. The plan is to replace existing plants with some stuff that is drought resistant. (ie. requires less water for irrigation)

Leonard Cohen, RIP

November 11, 2016

11cohen_leonard_web1-master768I was saddened to hear today that Leonard Cohen had died. Mr Cohen had such a great body of work, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are the lyrics to the opening stanza to “Hallelujah”

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Here’s a video of a performance of “Hallelujah”:

Leonard Cohen’s most recent album was released in October 2016. Here’s the link on Amazon. Also, get the “Essential Leonard Cohen“. As if there isn’t any non-essential Leonard Cohen.

One more song and then I’m done. This is the song “Suzanne”. I think the first version I ever heard was the one done by Judy Collins, long, long ago. One of the first loves of my life was named Suzanne. Long, Long time ago.

Don’t Bogart that Joint, My Friend

November 10, 2016

So it seems that California and Massachusetts voters have approved a ballot measure legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. So that brought to mind the title of this blog post. So what exactly does that mean? How does one “bogart” a joint? Is is it a good thing or bad thing. Read on and I shall explain.

The term “bogart” is a reference to the actor, Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957). Bogart (the actor) was known for his performances in movies like Casablanca, The Big Sleep, and The Maltese Falcon. Click here for his complete filmography. In Casablanca, Bogart always seemed to have a cigarette in his mouth. Take a look at the trailer and you will see what I mean. By the way, Bogart died of esophageal cancer in 1957.

Another reference to “bogarting” a joint can be found in the movie, “Easy Rider”, starring Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholoson. Here’s a clip.

And finally, here is the link to the song “Don’t Bogart that Joint” by the Fraternity of Man. A veritable one hit wonder.

Pumpkins

November 2, 2016

So here we are in November and we are deluged with pumpkins. Paula and I went shopping at Trader Joe’s yesterday. It seemed about half of all the products had some pumpkin in it. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffin mix, pumpkin relish, and on and on.

So we came home with pumpkin flavored almonds, package of pumpkin muffin mix, pumpkin cheese cake and pumpkin cheerios.

So there is pumpkin patch vendor in San Pedro on the corner of 9th and Western. Every year at the beginning of October, they set up shop selling pumpkins (real pumpkins). And like clockwork, on November 1, the pumpkin signs come down and the Christmas tree signs go up.

Don’t get me wrong, I like pumpkin stuff. I just wish availability was more level. Why can’t I find pumpkin pie filling in March?  Maybe this year, I will persuade Paula to stock pile some cans of pumpkin puree, so that I can have a pumpkin pie in July. So here are some of my favorites. I’ve heard that there are people that actually cook stuff from real pumpkins. Bah, too much work.

Pumpkin Whoopee pies
It seems that my west coast friends  have never heard of Whoopie Pies. They are so culturally  deprived. Whoopie pies are two pieces of chocolate cake with a whipped cream filling. You won’t find them in stores. But, Paula has an excellent recipe. Whoopie Pies are the official state snack of the State of Maine.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 c canned pumpkin (15 oz can)
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 1 c vegetable oil
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Filling

  • 3/4 c powdered sugar
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix cake ingredients. Drop Tbsp’s of batter on to cookie sheet. Use parchment paper, if you have it. Bake for 8-10 min. Cool on rack.

Spread filling on each pie and put together. Refrigerate over night.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

This is also one of our favorites. pumpkin-crunchWe constantly fight over whether one puts whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I prefer whipped cream. Click here > pumpkin-crunch-cake to get the recipe.

Don’t wait too long. The pumpkin puree will be gone from the stores and you will have wait until next year.