The Adventure Begins…

Posted August 11, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Family, Mary

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend, I’m certainly not. Our condo building is being fumigated for termites this weekend. So we have to vacate the premises starting now until Monday at 5pm.

We spent the day double bagging all of our food in the kitchen including freezer. We’ve taken the opportunity to throw a ton of stuff out and finish up loads of leftovers.

And to add to our misery our dryer conked out. So we’ve got a bag full of wet clothes. As soon as we finished checking in to our hotel, Paula is heading over to a nearby laundromat.

We thought of going to Las Vegas, but decided that would be a bad idea. Mary doesn’t travel well. She’s worse than a three year old child. Are we there yet? Where are we going? Why do we have to do this? Etc. So we got a suite at a Double Tree hotel in San Pedro. Got a roll-a-way bed for Mary. King bed for Joe & Paula.

Tomorrow the exterminator will be tenting the entire building and on Sunday filling up the building with some kind of poison gas. Lovely.

We met with the manager this morning to review our prep work. Then they have to remove the tarps and air the joint out.

Mary has been very confused by all of the commotion. We could have gotten a cheaper place but we’re trying to be comfortable. And we have our three DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies.

We’ll be glad when this is all done with.

Advertisements

Harold Stanley 1919-2009

Posted August 3, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Family

Tags:
scan0016

Harold c. 1986

Tuesday, August 1 would have been Harold’s 98th birthday. This post is in honor of Harold. He was a wonderful, kind and loving human being. We all miss him a lot.

Harold was born on August 1, 1919 almost nine months to the day after Armistice Day on Nov 11, 1918. What do people do to celebrate an important day in history? They have sex. Witness the spike in new babies born in the Chicago area recently nine months after the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series or nine months after the Blizzard of 1978.

Harold died of cardiac arrest in November 2009. He was 90 years old. He died unexpected and suddenly. We are just beginning to discover how and when died by reading Mary’s letters that we’ve found recently.

I struggled to find a decent picture of Harold to use in this post. Harold was always the guy behind the camera. In course of his lifetime I have seen many many pictures taken by Harold but very few pictures of him. I still have a few more boxes of slides in the store room to curate.

Harold spent much of his adult life teaching high school science and biology at Jordan High School in Long Beach, CA. Before he started his teaching career at Jordan, he worked at the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach which was where he met Mary.

Harold was born and grew up in Kansas. By the way, Mary was also from Kansas but different parts of the state. They both moved to California to work in the war effort. Harold never served in the armed forces due to problems with his inner ear. Mary would always say that he had a problem with listening not hearing. Paula says that I have the same problem (ha ha).

Harold was the person who influenced me to join the Masons and the Shriners. He would always make it to my Masonic events (degrees,  installations, etc.). Sometimes he would take Amtrak across the country rather than fly. He would do it to get some quiet down time and to see the country side. Mary would jokingly accuse him of doing it to get away from her for a week.

LassenDuring the summers, from the 1950’s until the early 1970’s Harold would spend his summers as a National Park Ranger at Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. The day after school closed in June, Harold, Mary and Paula would hit the road heading north to Lassen. I can just imagine the smile on Harold’s face as he headed north to Lassen.

Rest In Peace, Harold.

Dunkirk

Posted July 27, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Movies, Reviews

Tags: ,

Wednesday this week was date night. We called Dawn to come over and stay with Mary while Paula and I went to the movies. This time we went to see “Dunkirk”. This is the story of the Dunkirk Evacuation in June 1940 where the Allied forces are evacuated from the shores of Dunkirk across the British Channel.

This was a bit easier on the wallet. The theater is close by and Wednesday is $5 for Seniors Day (Woo Hoo). We went out to eat at a new Korean BBQ joint that opened up recently (Also nearby). More on the Korean BBQ later.

The movie is directed by Christopher Nolan and tells the story of Dunkirk from three points of view. Air, Sea and Land. For the most part, the actors were all unknowns with the exception of Kenneth Branagh who played the role of a British Navy Commander who was supervising the evacuation from a pier on the Dunkirk beach.

The constant switching of the main threads in the movie made it a challenge to follow at times. I also had a little trouble understanding the British accents. I was also confused due to the change from day time to night time depending on which thread was up on the screen.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. You really felt sorry for the soldiers who were waiting to be evacuated. Man did they look miserable. So close but so far.

** Spoiler Alert **

At the end of the film the last fighter pilot runs out of petrol (as the Brits would call it). It seemed like he was gliding for 10-15 minutes after his engine conked out. Why’d he land on the beach? He would be sure to be captured? Why not ditch next to one of the boats. Hated to see that beautiful airplane burn.

Okay, the film running time was 1 hr 45 min. Which meant that with a posted start time of 4:40 pm, it was still daylight outside when we came out of the theater. That meant we had time to have dinner, without running up the clock on the sitter.

Dinner

We ate at a new Korean BBQ joint on Western next to the US Bank. The name of the place is 3BBQ. I got the chicken rice bowl and Paula got a beef wrap and we got some appetizers to share.

My Piano

Posted July 24, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Music, Piano

Tags: , , ,

One of my hobbies is playing the piano. I learned to play the piano as a young lad. First lessons from the good Sister Olivia, CSJ at Mount St Joseph’s Academy in Brighton, MA. When I was in high school, my mom and dad found a new teacher in West Roxbury who taught me how to play chords and how to improvise from a fake book. That’s a skill that I use today when I play for our OES chapter.

So when we lived back east, I owned a piano. It was a Wurlitzer console piano that I acquired back in the late 70’s. At the time, Wurlitzer was trying move into the Malls to sell pianos and organs. The move ended up badly for Wurlitzer. We felt that it was not worth paying to ship it across the country, so I donated it to our church. Giving away a piano is not so easy. Our music director wanted to see if it was worth taking.  He ended up taking it.

So fast forward to 2012. We arrived here in August 2012 and one of our first tasks was to buy a piano. My daughter in law had received an invitation to a Steinway sale at Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. We needed a reservation for a particular time slot. They didn’t want too many people in the hall at the same time banging on a Piano. After we had agreed to terms on the particular piano for about $6000, I asked the salesman if I could bang out a tune or two  on the concert grand Steinway going for about $150K. He said go ahead have a ball.

So we ended up buying an Essex Console model. Essex is the budget line of Steinway pianos. They are designed by Steinway and manufactured in Japan. Think of it like Honda and Acura or Cadillac and Chevy. Don’t have room for that Steinway concert grand anyhow.

So back in early 2014, Pastor Jacques had come by to visit Mary while she was recuperating from her fall that left her with a broken shoulder. So Jacques asks Mary, “Do you play the piano?”. To which Mary answers, “No, that would be Joe’s piano” So Jacques and I figured that I would play a hymn at the beginning of our Senior Bible study on Wednesday mornings.

I pick a hymn and email it to Jacques on Monday or Tuesday. Jacques prints out about 25 copies for the group. I tend to pick hymn “oldies” and sometimes gospel tunes. Usually, I find material in my “Hymn Fake Book”. But today I found a piece on Musicnotes.com done by Hank Williams called “Jesus Died for Me”. That’s just the ticket. Sometimes, I receive requests.

Joe’s Chili

Posted July 24, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Cooking, Recipes

Tags: , ,


Today we had our chili cook-off at LA Harbor Lodge in San Pedro. Here is the recipe for my entry. It didn’t win any awards but everyone who tried said that it was very tasty.  We all had fun doing it. And even I liked it.

Ingredients

  • 3 Stalks of Celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Jalapeño Peppers, seeds and core removed, chopped (I usually use surgical gloves when handling jalapeños. If you skip the gloves you will soon learn why I use the gloves.)
  • 1/2 Red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage meat
  • 1 lb stew beef, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cans of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (14.5 oz)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 packet of chili seasonings

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil
  2. Sauté the onion and Jalapeños until they are soft and translucent
  3. Add sausage and stew beef.
  4. Sauté until the meat is completely browned.
  5. Drain off the fat
  6. Add the seasoning packet and mix
  7. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the crock pot
  8. Add the peppers and celery
  9. Add the cans of kidney beans (including water) and cans of tomatoes.
  10. Stir to combine.
  11. Important Step: Plug the crock-pot in and turn it on!
  12. Cook on high for about 4 hours. Stir occasionally

Fidget Spinner

Posted July 22, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Family

Tags: , , , ,

Last night we had our son and his family over for dinner. At the request of our grandson Jonathan, we had tacos, soft tortillas and NO onions. When Jonathan arrived he noticed my fidget spinner on the dining room table. He of course knew what it was and what to do with it. So both Jonathan and Sarah took turns playing with it during the evening.

Jonathan said he would trade all of his toys for one fidget spinner. Oh, the power of a toy that is the hottest thing in the toy universe. I considered letting him have it to take home with him, but Paula and I decided to leave it here and let him play with the next time he comes to visit.

It seems that the fidget spinner has been around for a while but only recently become popular. If one were to search for “fidget spinner” on Amazon, you get about 20 or more pages of offers. It brings to mind some other toys that were all the rage back in the day. There was the pet rock and Rubik’s Cube. Both of which were the rage long before our kids time.

Rubik’s Cube reached its peak in the early 80’s and can still be bought. The cube was invented by Ernõ Rubik, a sculptor and professor of architecture in Hungary.

The Pet Rock made the inventor a millionaire. Here’s the wiki. The inventor (Gary Dahl) died a couple of years ago. And of course, one can still buy a pet rock on Amazon.

In my recent post on Mary, I promised to get a recent picture of her. This picture was taken shortly after she got home from her appointment at beauty salon. As you can see in the picture, she has her chocolate shake sitting in front of her. Her chocolate shake is one of her favorite things to eat.

Mary

Posted July 20, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Family, Mary

Tags:

Okay, it’s been a while. Here’s my update. Paula and I were having a conversation with Mary last night after dinner. We were retelling our story of how we came to be out here living with her. She listened attentively and she did something that I have been waiting for now for five years. She finally thanked us for being here for her. I called it the big “Thank You”. Of course, she remembers none of this.

The big “Thank You” was one of my issues with her. She would thank me for getting her a cup of coffee or fixing her oatmeal, but never thanking us for giving up our lives in MA and moving out here to be with her. Last night, she finally did that. It only took her five years to do it.

She continues to get weaker and weaker. She sleeps all night, then eats breakfast and then goes back to bed and sleeps until we get her up for dinner. Once in a while she will join us to watch the evening news. She will read the newspaper in the morning and then reread it again in the evening. She doesn’t quite get that it is the same newspaper.

I saw her reading the sports section. I asked her why she was reading the sports section? Mary is not much of a sports fan. Doesn’t care a whit about baseball or basketball. Of course, Paula reminds me to STFU. Let her read the sports page if she wants. So I do.

We struggle to get her to wash her face and brush her teeth. Some evenings, she just goes straight back to bed. We try to get her to do a bath 2 or 3 times a week. That’s Paula’s department.

Paula and I started having the “Nursing Home” discussion. We’re not quite there yet, but we might be there sooner rather than later, especially if she becomes totally bed-ridden and/or incontinent. I talked with my doctor at my physical this week about the situation. He gave me the number of Kaiser’s social worker department. Or perhaps, we will talk to Mary’s doctor.

We are looking forward to a weekend away in first weekend of August for an OES reception up in the Sacramento area. We will have caregivers for the weekend.

I don’t have any good recent pictures of her to post. Perhaps, tomorrow after she has been to the beauty salon to get her hair done, I will take a picture.

Later,

Joe