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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Relatively Warm . . . Today, Here

It is all a matter of degrees and where you live. Today here in Healdsburg it is supposed to be at or near 70°. And that is relatively warm. In other parts of the country (mostly the East & Midwest) the high temperature ranges from just under 20° in Chicago to around 30° in New York City -- and those could be considered "relatively" warm for this day.

It is a nice perspective of frozen cars parked alongside the lake, a trail through snow-covered woods, a trail through sunlit woods and trees alongside the sunny lake. As I look out our window the house across the street still has the icicle decorations outlining their home with the bright sun defining them.
I am sure others may look out their windows and see the real thing -- i.e. icicles that will someday melt as opposed to the ones that have to be removed and saved for next year.

It is all -- relative. Speaking of relatives, most days I receive updates for certain search surnames e.g. HILES. This week I received a newspaper obituary for a distant HILES relative, the first of 2018.

The above article appeared in the Logan, Ohio newspaper and relates the information about a 4th Cousin of ours Gary M Hiles. Prior to receiving this notice, I only knew of Gary's parents, Walter and Dorothy.

Because obituaries usually are filled with details of the family and this one is an example, I was able to add Gary and his wife, Marilyn, and their two children, Heath & Heather to the HILES Family Tree. I feel bad that we had to "meet" this way but extend my sympathies to that family.

So, what's new with us since the holidays -- how about virtual reality. Gail is peering through the VR device that she found under the tree a couple of weeks ago.

Unfortunately, we have returned the glasses as we could never get them to focus correctly.  We wanted to enjoy some 3-D type traveling excursions and other photo diversions but it appears that we may have to wait for advancements to come to the VR field.

But it was fun trying -- NOT. Instead, Gail has focused on something that she loves doing -- needlepoint work.

She finished a few smaller items that now have been sent to the "finishing" department and is awaiting a new piece that should arrive next week. She has changed her attention to smaller in size projects that won't take "forever" to complete.

 On our nightstand -- or should I say -- on our iPad in Audible, we are listening to the book on the left that is "all over the news" these days.

So far it has been a sleep-aid so-to-speak for especially Gail. We are through several chapters and nothing earth shattering has been revealed, nothing that is, that we have not already heard on the news . . .

It's like a movie trailer -- sometimes that's the best that it gets . . .

We will "stick it out" or at least I will and probably by then more "live" happenings will have replaced the tales and remarks found in the book . . .

What we really have to look forward to this weekend is --- football.

It is hopefully one thing that can allow us to escape from the "other" news these days.

We will watch at least parts of each of the four games in the next two days.

I do have to say though that we also watched the college championship game the other night -- and it was almost as exciting as the Rose Bowl game.

And both college games that we recently have seen have been more exciting than any of the pro games -- maybe today and tomorrow will change that -- we look forward to that.

And lastly, just what can you glean from genetic research, well things like what the Zits comic says:

And so it is, there actually is so much more that can be gleaned, but it is so "right-on".

That is a bit of our week, see you all "in a few"! 👫

Saturday, January 6, 2018

What's Next . . .

The new year started out great! First, we watched the Rose Parade and then later the Rose Bowl Game. Of course, the day in Southern California (Pasadena) was gorgeous. And having lived there for several years I know how that can be and magically it always seemed to happen on New Year's.

The parade was excellent as usual and watching it on HGTV meant NO commercials which was nice.
I remember years ago walking along the parade route, not the whole five and one-half miles, but a portion of the route and finally to the end point where floats would be on display.

The nights before the parade we often visited the sites where float preparations were underway. I remember that as soon as one parade was ended the planning and preparations for the next year would begin.

One year when I lived north of Colorado Blvd I was scheduled to work (at the hospital) which was south of Colorado Blvd and to get there was a major hassle requiring driving many miles around the parade route.

But the game . . . one of the best Rose Bowl games to watch that I can remember -- unless you happen to be an Oklahoma fan.

At the beginning, it looked as though O.U. would run away with the game, but that was not to be.

At the end of regular time, Georgia and Oklahoma were tied -- 48 to 48.

The game went into two overtime periods and with the high scores, it made for a very interesting and fun game to watch.

After 102 points scored, Georgia wound up on top 54 to 48, a stunning defeat for Oklahoma. This essentially was the only "college" game that we watched this year -- it sure was worth seeing.

And to top the day off -- a Super Moon! The picture to the left is of the house across the street with the moon appearing above it.

It was amazing to see and I believe we are due another super moon at the end of the month.

The moon appears in the east as we get ready for bed and is hung up in the western sky when we are getting up, we enjoy seeing it! (we are old)

Now, I know that it is horrible weather in the East and Midwest, but on the west coast, the weather is "doable" at the moment.

Dino is enjoying the backyard with moderate temperatures while Buttercup (Lisa & Bob's dog)
enjoys running in the snow that fell for Christmas in Washington State.

Since last week though it has rained here for a couple of days -- a good thing -- and the snow in Arlington, Washington has melted -- also a good thing.

So, here we are in the 6th day of the new year and on the 4th day, our region had a 4.4 earthquake.
We did not feel it here in Healdsburg, but it was centered on the Hayward fault line near Berkeley. That may have significant meaning as that fault line historically has a major quake about every 150 years or so AND it has been 150 years since the last one there . . .

So we have enjoyed several days so far of the new year, but we have to wonder "What's Next"?
There's political issues, health-related issues (the flu epidemic) recreational pot issues (here in California) tax issues and just plain issues. Some -- same old, same old.

We just found out that one of our favorite game show hosts was in the hospital recently for brain surgery.

Thank goodness he was in the news for something health related and NOT for anything else like what has happened to so many well known male personalities.

Apparently, Alex took a fall a couple of months ago and it was discovered that he had blood clots (subdural hematomas) and they had to be removed.

We saw his "YouTube" explanation and were glad to hear that his prognosis is good for a full recovery and that he'll be back on Jeopardy regularly very soon.

They are saying that there will be almost no break in the showing of the program. We have frequently mentioned how different the show would be without Alex -- we wish him a speedy and full recovery!

Gail and I have watched Jeopardy for over twenty-five years and we enjoy it and look forward to being a part of it as we attempt to answer the questions along with the contestants. What would really be fun would be to see "someone" we personally knew as a contestant. It could happen . . .

What else is going on this first week of 2018? NFL activities of course.

First, there are the playoff games taking place today and tomorrow.

We'll probably watch at least parts of both games today unless they are unfun . . .

We kind of pull for the Chiefs and then for the Rams, but are okay if the other teams outplay and outsmart them.

Sunday's games, just pulling for the Panthers . . .

And then next week -- more playoff games.

But big news for Jon Gruden. I've enjoyed his commentary on ESPN the last few years and it is evident that he "knows" football.

But now that he is likely to reenter the realm of "head coach" again -- some teams are not wanting him to have any access to their inside plans because he will be a competitor. $100 million contract, too bad it is with an organization that many of us have little respect for . . .

Also this week I have been busy adding leaves to the family tree.

Check out "our tree" on and you'll see that there are more leaves this week.

I have been in contact with yet another "Heil" possible relative and hope to one day make the connection with her "Heil's" and our Hiles.

I do maintain a separate "Heil" tree on as well -- and her tree and mine share a lot of the same folks.

I hope that we are getting close to the day when we can welcome more of the folks that I share DNA matches with, into a common tree.

The other main focus for me this week happened to be with a Gillette family. But this Gillette family appears in Gail's branch. Of course, I have a "ton" of Gilletts in my branch and I believe there is the possibility that eventually those also will be joined into a common branch.

As I have mentioned before -- Gail and I, according to Ancestry DNA, are likely 4th Cousins. We just haven't been able to make that connection via our tree branches -- yet. It could happen.

That is a bit of our first week of 2018. We can hardly wait for things to unfold in the coming weeks of this even-numbered new year. Happy New Year!  See you all "in a few"! 😎

Saturday, December 30, 2017

It's All About the C-O-U-N-T D-O-W-N . . .

It's 30 some hours away from the new year and everywhere we look there is a sense of a countdown going on. It, of course, crept up on us again as usual and we are in the spiral.

Will we be among those out and about cheering in the "new year" probably not as we have our own way of welcoming in the new year -- quietly.

There is the sense of clear bright skies ahead and the feeling of stepping out of the old and into a new refreshing start. It is always an exciting feeling for us and we look forward to that again . . . and again.

Peeking a look at various scenes around this day we see some areas have moderate weather while others have some extremes.

We've lived in both and prefer the moderate.  When the temperatures go way below zero and then the wind-chill factor is added in, we really thank our lucky stars that our temperatures are reasonable.

We did have temps this morning in the high 20s, but that is livable. We talked with Gail's sister the other day (who lives in Stanley, Idaho) and she reported that they had temperatures some -30° below zero and then went to a balmy 30° above zero -- a 60° swing. They took that as a sign to "go out for a walk to town" . . . We don't walk to town at any temperature any longer . . .

This morning I did take the time to enjoy a leisurely "soak" in our new tub -- very refreshing and invigorating and is the reason that I am a little later doing this post. I also ran us out of hot water which we will have to address in the coming months.

While we had a bright and sunny Christmas, Lisa & Bob, up in Arlington, Washington enjoyed a real "white Christmas".

Having lived in the Seattle area for many years we know how it can snow during the holidays -- but not always.

It is nice that they get to enjoy the snow without having to do too much driving in it as they both are on vacation this week.

Seattle with its hilly areas is "interesting" during snow storms . . .

All of this weather makes me hungry . . . and I happened to see an article that caught my attention referring to the many restaurant chains that are no longer around or almost no longer around:

There were many more featured in the article but these I did have some history with.

The only one that I never ate in was the Red Barn and I included it because there is just one left and it happens to be in Racine, Wisconsin.

There are still some A&W's left around but nowhere near the number as during the 40's,  50s and 60s, when even I worked at one.

Bob's Big Boys were always a favorite for me as was HoJo's for awhile. And Lums too.

Oh well, they were fun and part of a bye-gone era. I wish our town of Healdsburg had more just plain "down-home" type restaurants instead of predominantly high-end touristy types -- but we did discover just last night a new Chinese restaurant in town -- Dragon -- that was very good with the take-out that we ordered.

Speaking of Chinese -- 2018 is the year of the dog. And what better dog for us than Dino!

Dino continues to help us to enjoy everyday life. He doesn't seem to mind the fact that we don't walk him as much as we used to do.

He does enjoy the routine that we provide and reminds us when we are not in full compliance.

We'll be searching our database to see who among those of us in the tree are celebrating this "year of the dog".

And so, we have even fewer hours left to this year than when I started this post. We have one more full day -- New Year's Eve -- and then the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game and other New Year's activities.

That is a bit of our week and year. We wish everyone a great New Year and hope to see you all "in a few"!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sleigh Bells Ring . . . We are listening

But the more throaty sound of delivery truck exhaust mufflers permeates the air these days. The distinctive sounds of UPS, Fed-Ex, USPS & DHL trucks racing up and down our street brings anticipation and often frustration when they pass our house -- 'cause we still have a few undelivered purchases . . .

I do have memories of the rhythmic sound of sleigh bells -- just not recent memories that is. In our neck-of-the-woods, we don't see snow and so, therefore, do not see sleighs very often. I'm not sure anyone sees sleighs that often these days.

Needless to say though, those sounds have a magical air to them and we would happily replace some of the current modern sounds with sleigh bell sounds, just saying.

In Healdsburg our chance of seeing snowfall is slim -- but there always is the comics.

This past Thursday was the first day of winter and the early morning was definitely chilly -- in the 20s. I realize that "chilly" is a relative measure depending on geography.

Growing up in the Chicago suburbs 20° was relatively warm compared to the other alternatives -- but we feel the cold these days.

And, it was a short daylight day to boot. But according to the news, each day after last Thursday will be lengthened by a few seconds each day until we reach the longest daylight day of the year which in 2018 is on June 21st.

But -- one thing that is warming is that the San Francisco Forty-Niners are on a win streak -- three games in a row now.

I did not think that I would "get into" football this year, but Jimmy Garoppolo the new quarterback has sparked an interest not only for me but apparently for many Niner fans.

It really points out how important the quarterback role is the measure of a team. "Jimmy G" has turned the outlook around and has the right "feel" of a leader.

It is of course too bad that he did not start the season. And so we look forward to the coming games that are left this year and hopefully to next year.

Speaking of "warm or cold" the newly signed tax reform bill just passed this week, is for us in California, a wait and see.

It looks like some of the deductions that we use here will be available up to a certain limit.

Time will be the judge as to the value of this bill. Having been in the "tax" business for several years, I can only imagine the turmoil that is happening at the big prep firms.

No matter the new bill, I do not look forward to working on doing our tax returns. It is a period of mostly frustration trying to locate all the different documents related to what is needed.

Early on during the "selling" of the tax reform bill, I recall seeing a post-card sized federal return being touted -- what happened to that? Oh, well . . .

Speaking of reform . . . this was an ad from 1950, just 60 some years ago.

How times have changed -- this would certainly not fly these days, can you imagine.

In our house, it has been me that has done the vacuuming for the last 20 or so years -- partly because I find it therapeutic and mostly because it is a challenge.

We have three different vacuums that we use currently. One built-in, one corded and one battery operated. They each have their good features and then not-so-good features.

Up until a couple of months ago we also had a robot vacuum as well. We loved the novelty of the robot and enjoyed listening to it do its job throughout the house. It would find its way to all the rooms and when it needed to be recharged would return to the charging station -- amazing. We decided to gift it to someone who had a large house without as much clutter as we had, and they are enjoying it now.

And finally, it always seems that the time in-between Thanksgiving and Christmas goes by sooo fast.
And it is sooo true.

There are only two days, TWO short days before Christmas. And we still have shopping to do -- but just for grocery type things -- thank goodness.  While writing this post today, two more delivery trucks brought packages, just-in-time.

So, there you have a small peek at our week. We wish a great Christmas season to each, and we'll see you all "in a few" !    😀

Saturday, December 16, 2017

'Tis The Season !

And it truly is. There isn't any snow on the ground around here and we are not expecting any, but there still are signs that it is Christmas time. We have put up some of our holiday decorations and will even put up a few more this weekend.

Actually, the weather is beautiful at times during the day -- like today it is sunny, bright but a little cool and getting windy (which we have learned is dangerous).

On the front page of our local paper today -- The Press-Democrat -- was the above picture which pretty much sums up the season for thousands of folks in our area. (photo by Derek Coleman)

This Santa Rosa family posed in front of the remaining chimney of their leveled home. How awful must it be to recall rosier times experienced in that same location.

Of the thousands of lots now being cleared, many families have chosen to sell the land and start over someplace else -- some in California and some in other states.

Unfortunately, Southern California is going through the horrors of the wildfires right now, just as we did in the past couple of months.

It will take several years for neighborhoods to rebuild and families to begin establishing their residences and for sure never forgetting the nightmares of October 2017.

It is somewhat embarrassing to relate the next story, though there is a relationship in timing due to the wildfires here locally.  Gail & I opened  had installed an early Christmas gift.  The project was delayed a few times because we were not sure if we would have a home or if our part of the town would be "gone".

Fortunately, we do have a home and this last week the delayed project was completed:

We now have what I describe as an "indoor hot-tub" -- actually it is one of those "walk-in" tubs that you see all the time on TV. We have tried it out and it is "NICE" and as we get more accustomed to it I'm sure we will say "we couldn't live without it" . . .

There are some things to adjust to though -- like running out of hot water while in the filling stage. Also setting aside the time necessary to have a relaxing experience is part of day planning.

And, Dino is not sure what we are doing as we have mostly been "shower" people. The warm and bubbly hydrotherapy action was really soothing with the after-glow satisfying as well.

I can no longer say "that I haven't had a bath in years . . ." and who knows, maybe later today I'll even have another one.

So, while parts of three days this week were devoted to overseeing the tub install, parts of two days were spent going to the post office with a load of packages.

It actually was not "that" bad with respect to the lines. In years past, there have been lines "out the door".  Lines were only three or four deep this last week.

I think that we are done with having to mail things via the post office for this year. Any other things will be directly sent by the company -- most likely Amazon.

Receiving packages this week also took up a fair amount of time as well.

This year the main delivery companies are working hard to make sure all packages get to their destinations before Christmas.

Since Christmas falls on a Monday, this puts pressure on deliveries to happen often by the Friday before. Though there will be deliveries happening on Saturday and Sunday as needed and as paid extra for . . .

Since we have deliveries on a lot of our basics as well as gifting purchases we have accumulated a "ton" of cardboard boxes. I keep a lot of them for a while "just in case", but am under pressure to get rid of them -- which I'll do probably at the first of the year.

Sadly, in the realm of genealogy, I was looking forward to the "Finding Your Roots" episode that featured Garrison Keillor.

Per an article in Dick Eastman's blog, shown on the right, I learned that that episode has been pulled.

I can't imagine what recourse some of these folks have if they are truly innocent of the accusations.  In this case, I think there was only one accusation and it sounded like "something inadvertent" -- but then we don't know the realities of what went on.

I do not feel bad for the truly guilty and the repeat offenders at all. It is time to stop all that business of harassment.

And so, I'll work on expanding my genealogist Christmas Tree.

During the week I jump into and start working on some of the thousands of "hints" that appear in the form of shaking leaves on the tree.

I regularly add folks during the week and many times have deleted both duplicates and sometimes "wrong" folks from the tree.

Since I now have thousands of folks in that tree there is always an abundance of shaky leaves to check out.

And I look for photos of the folks as well. There is a great deal of satisfaction in putting a face to a name.

And this week again I have been sent a large number of DNA matches -- I can hardly keep up tracking them.

And so, that was a bit of our week. See you all "in a few" !

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Fifteen Days & Counting . . .

We have  all some of our gifts wrapped. How is possible that two people could have that many items to wrap. Well, some of us shop throughout the year and like the squirrels -- well, we accumulate. It is time to "empty" the closets. Besides, what else do we have to do?

While the display is colorful and pleasing to the eye, the paper clean-up can be imposing if not handled correctly, not to mention the management of the shipping boxes . . . oh well.

The time crunch is here and even though we have known about it -- it still is intimidating.

Not only do we have to endure the trips to the Post Office, we have to manage the receiving of shipments as well.

The report of "porch pirates" is on the news every day now and it is a real fear at this time of the year especially. We do have the "Ring" doorbell and camera installed this year which is quite interesting.

Anyone coming to the door or just to the porch area is caught on camera, Also we here a chime announcing their presence. Dino knows to go the front door when he hears the chime, but he never barks -- just observes.

We are home -- most of the time when deliveries arrive so we do not leave packages out for display. But on occasion, we are "out and about" and hope that anything delivered will still be there when we return. So far we have received three mis-delivered packages, which we have re-delivered. We hope that the same is done for us . . .

Thought you'd like to know -- Pantone, a U.K. company has deemed "Ultra Violet" the color of 2018.

It seems pleasing enough and it will be interesting to see what commercial companies do with this.

I still like "Bluetiful", the new crayon color announced earlier this year. I am not sure why colors seem to impact more on me these years . . . I should probably wear a few of the numerous "Hawaiian" shirts that I still have hanging in the closet, but on the other hand, maybe not.

This week especially it has been a bit strange in terms of the temperatures. In the early morning hours and the late evening hours, the temperatures have been in the low 30s and even into the high 20s.  Then during the midday, it has been in the high 60s and even the low 70s . . . this is December . . .

While the temperatures are strange, the winds in California are so much more strange this year. We in Sonoma County, of course, experienced very frequent high winds which helped bring about the fire disasters -- NOW -- Los Angeles and even San Diego areas are experiencing the wrath of the winds and fire. Sad to see areas that I have lived in and others in my family, being destroyed.

One slight bright spot in the news lately -- the San Francisco Forty-Niners won their 2nd game last week -- unbelievable.

They are playing the Houston Texans -- in Houston -- tomorrow. the question, of course, is -- will they keep the streak going.

Houston won in baseball this year and would like to have a chance at football as well.

We'll see how that game goes.

And just thinking about the news in general -- lately, there has been almost nothing of a positive nature except that it is positively disgusting.

We read every night and sadly, three of the books that we have read this year have been authored by men who have been caught up in the harassment frenzy. Some are more deserving than others, to be caught for sure. I don't see how anyone in this predicament can ever be socially productive again. Who will be next . . .

And if you run out of ideas for gift-giving . . . do what so many celebs did back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s --

I have shown this ad before but it never ceases to amaze me that just 50 years ago -- this was acceptable.

I'm sure that relatives must cringe when they see ads like this. And we have to ask, what ads running currently by celebs will fall into this category in coming years -- I can think of a few.

As a society, we have come a long way from the days of "smokes" being advertised, even to the point now that it is unsettling to see a smoker in public.

While I don't think I ever gave this kind of a gift, I certainly did participate in the consumption and I have to say liked it.

But that was almost 50 years ago and am so glad to be able to remember it as a mistake of youth.

That is a bit of our week, see you all "in a few" !

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Meanwhile, Day 336 through Day 359

These are the fastest moving days of the year -- for adults. It is hard to fathom how the days can move along the way they do at this time. Not to mention the disappearance of all Thanksgiving leftovers, including the cranberries. (There are 3 small containers of turkey soup in the freezer though that will be consumed soon)
It is amazing that so much activity will occur in the coming 23 days -- finalizing decorations, shopping, wrapping, mailing, and planning holiday menus -- don't ya' just love it . . .

The newly installed outdoor laser lights bring pleasant viewing throughout the evening. It was such an easy task to do -- pretty much, plug in an extension, aim the laser, set the timer, enjoy. I could see how people get carried away . . .

Now, back to the tasks at hand -- online shopping. Even in the middle of the night when an idea pops into your head, it is up and at 'em and hitting the right keys to make the purchase that you just thought of . . . unbelievable.

I find it exhilarating to be able to shop at several different stores in a few minutes -- without having to find a parking spot.

Granted, the "net" slowed down some this week during the heavy buying times, but nothing like hearing about lines that formed just waiting to get into "brick & mortar" stores.

And then let's hope that the incentive of "free-shipping" continues. A lot of the shipping comes quickly as well -- often in just two days from the big online companies. On our street we are inundated with delivery trucks -- Dino is fascinated as well.

To the left is just one day of receiving shipments. Some days there are multiple deliveries because orders are often broken down into multiple shipments.

Today, for example, we received five items shipped individually and we'll probably receive a couple more later in the day.

 Some of the deliveries are for everyday items and some are for gifting.

Shopping has changed since the advent of companies like Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward.

What will the next evolution of shopping be like for coming generations? Can only imagine.

 And we have already set up the folding tables for the "in-home" wrapping station.

We choose to wrap our own gift items as opposed to having them wrapped, except if we have items directly shipped from the retailer -- then we have them gift wrapped.

There is always a sense of satisfaction to see a "pile" of home-wrapped gifts appearing after struggling with the paper, tape, and scissors.

BUT, a dose of reality, especially for those of us in California and a few other states -- tax reform.

Depending on the final version of the current legislation, we in this state will probably lose the deduction of state income taxes when filing our federal return.

And, there is a possibility that there will be a reduction in the amount of home mortgage interest that could be allowed -- these two deductions might have an impact on holiday gift giving to some extent.

In the next few weeks, we will be made aware of what's what. I can only imagine the turmoil about to hit in the world of "tax preparers". Gail and I combined, spent 43 years working in the tax preparation business as secondary and retirement type jobs (Gail did that for 33 years).

Tax prep firms are saying that they are not worried -- with change comes the need for professional advice. And, everyone will still need to "file" some form of a tax return.

And lastly, we focus on the kids in our tree during this time of year. These days probably are the slowest moving days of the year for kids, as they count down each and every day with "are we there yet" questions . . .

Some of the above are still kids, while others are "young-at-heart" so to speak. It doesn't make any difference for a lot of us -- we still feel the excitement of the season.

Enjoy your week, see you all "in a few"!