Search This Blog

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Gung Hay Fat Choy !

While it is only "day 48" of 2018 -- it is also the Chinese New Year -- the year of the dog! We did not see any parades in the streets of Healdsburg along with the fireworks and all, but if we still lived in San Francisco, that would be a different matter entirely.

Huge celebrations were shown on TV and more firecrackers than ever before. It is a fun tradition to see unfolding through the bay area and many other locations throughout the world. It is the kind of news that we expect to see and enjoy.

Dino is right in there with the celebration. Actually, as long as he gets his two meals and his daily allotment of treats, one day is pretty much the same as the next. And that is the way that we like it as well.

Today it is going to be about 70°. That is a bit cooler than the last two weeks but supposedly much warmer than what they are predicting for the next several days. The cold front from Seattle is making its way to the North Bay -- too bad the rain from Seattle is not.

Valentine's Day has come and gone -- but half the cake is still with us. We are so fortunate to have a "baker" living across the street from us who loves to let us critique her work before she lets the general public taste.

This pure moist, fluffy chocolate cake enveloped in a chocolate ganache is "out-of-this-world" and would win awards in any competition.

We are parsing it out so that it lasts for several days. We add a dollop of vanilla ice cream and savor the moments that we have each night as our nightly treat -- wow!

The cake made celebrating the day special and gives us something else to look forward to after dinner time. The consistency of the cake is so good -- it reminds me of my Mother's favorite -- her chocolate "dump" cake, which she loved making for us.

 Of course, what would Valentine's Day be without a puzzle -- and in this case a unique wooden puzzle from Liberty Puzzles.

In this case, "The Tree of Life" brightly colored and so far interesting to work on (when we feel like it).

Gail puts two pieces together and then says she is stumped but shortly after concentrating a bit she gets a few more. And so it will go for a few weeks.

This puzzle does not have the traditional straight-sided edge pieces so that makes it challenging as well. We can leave it set up and then sit (or stand) to work on it when the urge strikes us.

Also colorful is the new needlepoint that Gail is working on currently (I just view). She works on the needlepoint when she is inclined to do so and frequently spends quite a bit of time "in her knitting den".

She often puts on "background" TV to keep her company and Dino often sleeps by her side while she works.

She is awaiting a few more needlepoint projects to arrive and this one is just a filler until they do. It is so nice that she has the needlepoint, the puzzle, and some games on her iPad to vary her activities during the day.

Also these last several days, a trip outback gives us a glimpse of what springtime will be bringing our way.

Already -- and each year it starts with ONE poppy and then grows like wildflowers into many many poppies.

Then there are the Meyer lemons -- lots of them currently. Because of the predicted coming weather in the next few days, we are going to pick most of them due to the freezing.

The bucket in the middle of the picture is displaying our solar powered water pump -- which really does work, but only if there is sunlight.  The hippo hasn't moved since last year and the purple blossoms are fun to see again.

Overall, loads of color in our daily routines -- we enjoy it -- we're old . . .

Lastly, we have been watching some of the Olympic Winter Games -- it is hard to coordinate the recording of "new" events and not keep seeing the same events over and over. And due to the time changes -- we often have heard about the results of events before viewing them -- very confusing.

The U.S. has a ways to go to be in a leadership position with respect to medal winnings. There still is another full week of events and I can only hope that "curling" at some point will be featured.

We will watch the events that strike our interest but not necessarily "all the action". It can get to be repetitive in a hurry, so we'll be choosing selectively. And it really helps to have things recorded so that we can "power" through when we need to . . .

We do look forward to watching the "closing ceremonies" though. It is amazing to think that these athletes work for four years to get to the next Olympic games and for some, it is over so quickly.

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

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Games Have Begun

The winter Olympics . . . but one game is done -- Super Bowl 52 -- the Patriots came close but . . . so now PyeongChang has begun. Curling even made the spotlight with more to come. Figure skating, downhill skiing, and other sports are in full swing.
The opening ceremonies were fun to watch and they seemed shorter in length than I remember from the last winter events. It is hard to know what events to record as they repeat them. It is a good diversion from other happenings in our world e.g. flu, weather, & politics.

So for the next two weeks or so, our spare TV viewing will concentrate on PyeongChang and the Winter Olympics. Some politics enter into the equation but looking at the early medal count it almost looks like my DNA Ethnicity chart . . .

The display of drones in formation was amazing -- technology changes how we can entertain and make things exciting to observe.

While Korea was covered with snow this week, so were many other places as well -- including a very familiar (to our family anyway) house in Chicago.

To the right is a picture of our Grandparent's home, Dayton & Hildred Bumgardner, at 2521 N Bernard St in Chicago, taken this past week.

My brother Marv had some friends visiting in California this week and while chatting found our they had a son who lived in Chicago -- just a couple of blocks away (in Logan Square) so the friends called and asked him to shoot a current photo, which he did, again, technology.

As I look at the picture I can "feel" the cold outside, but remember the "warmth" from the inside. I'm glad that Marv shared the photo -- thanks.

So we might as well think about Christmas since we are seeing that type of weather -- back in the Midwest and other spots in the country -- not in our neck-of-the-woods though. here this past week it again has been at or near the 80s.

Gail has powered through the four Christmacy type needlepoints that she just finished. These happen to be Christmas Coasters and may wind up to be gift items for next season -- unless we choose to not part with them once they are finished with plastic sleeves.

The project went well and Gail enjoyed working on them -- but now she is waiting for other projects that were ordered but have not arrived as yet.

It used to be fairly easy when Gail needed another project -- we could just drive a couple of blocks and make selections from a beautiful store right in downtown Healdsburg -- but that store eventually moved to Windsor and then became "online" only.

The closest needlepoint store now is in San Rafael, which is over a couple of hours round trip from here -- so we usually order via the Internet.

To the right is not the leading medal winners at the Olympics, but rather a depiction of the countries from which my ancestors came.

And the red enclosed area is where most of them landed when they came into the United States.

As I mentioned last week, I was surprised at Finland since I had not heard of that prior, but Scandinavia in general I had.

I'm sure that as more and more people are DNA tested (we sent in our cheek swabs to the fourth testing company this week) there will be more and more answers as to how they connect to us genealogically as well as genetically.

And by the way, the DNA testing results are not exactly the same from each company. It will be interesting to see the results from the fourth -- in a few weeks.

So, our ancestors came from the purple regions and first wound up in the red region -- from there, all across the United States.

Since our family has a high percentage of Scandinavians represented, we might have to rethink some holiday menus. And in some states (Minnesota for one) there is already a major focus on lutefisk as a Christmas dinner for example.

I always thought of lutefisk as a cruel joke of some sort, but maybe now it is worth taking a peek at -- then I saw the meme to the left.

I have to say that it is probably true -- but in a way, you are getting twice the bang for your buck.

I'll think about it -- okay, I have. I can't imagine the odor remaining in the whole house after a lutefisk preparation party like what we see with the making of tamales . . . those Norwegians and maybe Finnish as well, I don't know.

Don't forget Valentine's Day coming up this Wednesday.

Maybe that would be a good day to try out the "Lutefisk & Chocolate" theme.

Heavy on the chocolate I'm sure. We do enjoy a small treat almost every day -- and some of it is chocolate. So far it has not included lutefisk.

So, that is a bit of our week,

See you all "in a few" !

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Super Week !

And it has been. This is, of course, the week before the Super Bowl and the preparations are in place. It is the last big event scheduled to take our minds off the "other" items in the news. In a couple of weeks, the Winter Olympics will help us forget the everyday happenings.

One interesting event this week has been the super blue blood moon and eclipse. We did see the beginnings and the leftover results but missed the actual event -- we did see pictures plenty though.

We in our town of Healdsburg this week have been about 70 - 80° warmer than Minneapolis. We have seen 80s this week but mostly in the mid-seventies. It is pretty nice and nicer still when we see the breaths of folks visiting the Super Bowl grounds talking about how exciting everything is . . .

Interestingly for me, the game comes exactly five years from the day that I was released from the hospital after spending 21 days there with Guillain-Barre in 2013. Super Bowl 47 was played between the Ravens and the Forty-Niners and I arrived home just in time to see the kickoff and enjoy the guacamole. It was February 4th that year as well, unfortunately, the Niners lost 34-31.

The Niners were not even close to repeating that feat this year -- may be "next" year . . .

The big news for me in the genealogical searching efforts has to do with DNA testing. We have already tested with the big three -- FamilyTree DNA, Ancestry DNA, and 23&Me DNA and this week I sent all those raw numbers to MyHeritage DNA as they will display matches from their data bases.

And we have ordered testing kits from MyHeritage now as well.

In the meantime, MyHeritage has taken the raw numbers from the "big 3" and displayed some of their results to the left.

They break out their estimated percentages for what nationalities are represented in each of our samples.

It is surprising that both Gail and I have a certain percent of Finnish ancestors -- me 11% and Gail about 6%.

I know of NO Finnish ancestors -- but I'll keep looking. The other interesting fact that MyHeritage points out is that Gail and I besides being husband & wife are 3rd - 5th cousins. I just wish that I could genealogically figure out how we are genetically related -- again, I'll keep looking, but if any of you know -- please tell us.

Growing up in the Midwest I can remember seeing (once in a while) a sign here or there that said: "Lincoln Slept Here".

And there are other presidents who apparently have the same kind of signage around the land. I have to wonder in future generations what the signs will say about our current president (45th) or even the 42nd president.

There are a lot of presidents that apparently there does not seem to be any mention of "where" they slept -- or if they did, just saying.

Lastly, I have struggled with what should be on the menu for the game tomorrow. I scoured the back shelves of the freezer and have come to a conclusion -- it is to be ribs . . .

I was going to have chili, but then I came across the above genealogically related "meme" and I changed my mind. But in time that will not bother me -- after all, I spent several years in the "meat" industry and I just can't think about those things.

So, BBQ ribs it will be along with potato skins, corn, black beans and maybe some chips and dip.

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

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Blah . . .Blur . . .Meh

It is the 27th day of the year and the 27th day of January 2018. This last week has been so -- so-so. From the weather to the news, to politics, to flu, to stuff . . . we try to keep everything in perspective and a good outlook on things -- coffee helps. I drink about eight cups per day and stretch that throughout the day. I make a pot of Italian roast each morning around 7 am and that usually lasts till  7 pm.

This is an "emoji" week and the above is somewhat the way it is for my days lately.  I run the gamut of the above with ultimately a good outlook and a refreshed perspective -- somewhat caffeine induced I suspect.

A lot of what impacts us the last few days has been the weather -- at times it has alternately rained very hard and then drastically changes to bright sunlight with the appearance that "summer" is here -- but of course it is NOT.

In fact, we here in Northern California had a dry December and now a very mixed January. And for the next 7 or 8 days here it is supposed to be sunny without any chance of rain. The grass looks good and the pool water level has been naturally taken care of.

I know other parts of the country and world are having much more extreme weather these days. We can not feel sorry for ourselves given our current weather -- but can just feel "blah".

Of course lately, turning on the news brings about a blahness as well. I can not recall a political climate as stormy as our current state of everyday events.

It is hard to imagine what is to become of things if the turmoil continues.

The mid-year elections will most likely be in the direction that the populous is headed -- and that remains to be seen.

At least we still are using democratic methods . . .

Besides coffee, another way that we chose to "brighten" the horizon was to make a large pot of kielbasa soup including potatoes, rice, barley, peppers, celery, carrots, onions, a bit of garlic -- oh so good. add a dollop of sour cream and for me, a dash of hot sauce and "all is well".
To go along with that treat we made a pan of cornbread served with a drizzle of honey and topped with butter.

Soup and cornbread -- what a way to diminish the blahs. We have enough for a couple more meals -- even if it is sunshining.

Not to be outdone, for dessert, we made a pan of triple fudge brownies -- add a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a squirt of whipping cream and voila -- another blah buster.

We hopefully will have made it successfully through January may be a bit heavier -- but happier and content -- for now.

While all the above was going on, I still worked on adding (and deleting) folks from the family tree.

This week mostly it was adding more Gilletts to the tree. Growing up I never realized how integral they were to our family.

I actually never have met a "Gillett" even though they are so prevalent in the tree. The Gillett family is the connection to so many other relatives.  I do use "Gillette" products though.

And so, that is a bit of our week (meh though it was)

See you all "in a few" !  😏

Saturday, January 20, 2018


With all that is going on -- or NOT going on, it seems like the right thing to do. It is hard to imagine that the current state of affairs is once again, part of our everyday life. It is getting to the point where watching ANY news is depressing. What is amazing also is that the ONLY folks receiving federal paychecks will be the members of Congress. Others will still earn their federal pay, but collect it after the shutdown.

The brick wall that we often see in genealogy has shown up at the highest levels of our government. We have to wonder how long this nonsense will continue. 

Working on the family tree over the years means plugging in dates -- lots of dates for vital statistics:

In our tree, we have many many 1918 dates for "date of death". And many of those are for the huge epidemic that appeared worldwide in 1918-1919. I don't always know if the flu was the reason, but when lives are seemingly cut short in those years there is a high chance that they are one of the statistics of that epidemic.

It is really hard to fathom that in over 100 years medicine has not been able to tackle the ravages of the flu -- and from the looks of it this week, it is starting again. And this is another reason that we are "sheltering-in-place" as much as possible.

Now that it is recognized that it only takes just breathing in the air from others to possibly catch the flu, we are trying to limit as many contacts with groups of others as possible. Sometimes contacts are unavoidable and we are suspicious with any sounds of a cold, cough and/or sneezing.

As odd as it seems, we are even considering reducing keeping doctor appointments unless absolutely necessary -- after all, that is where sick people are known to be . . . or have been. 

And if the above were not enough, it is now time to begin that horrible process of TAX preparation.                                                                                                                                                                This year I believe it will be even more unpleasant for those of us in California -- with the new tax changes.                                                                                                                                                               I am actually dreading even beginning the process as it seems to drag on over a several week period.                                                                                                                                                                   What happened to the "postcard" sized return that was supposedly being put into place. Even the tax pros are still unsure of how the new laws will be interpreted. The old adage "death & taxes" . . .

This week involved jumping into the mass of folks from all over the tree and even from other trees as well.                                                                                                                                                             I had numerous contacts with other folks who had questions regarding people from our HILES tree and then a few questions regarding folks in some of the other trees that I have created.
Most of the time I am able to expand some branches after communicating with others -- and this was the case as well. It is amazing the stories that we exchange and learn of while exchanging information. The real families appear as more insight is shared.

I wish that I could somehow capture and document all the bits & pieces that I accumulate over the weeks -- and when I read some accounts that others have written I am awed by how they could manage to do that so well. 

Well, this for sure is not something that would have been on a poster found in the house that I grew up in . . .                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is so against everything we were taught growing up that even now it is tough to think about.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This quote has been attributed (probably falsely) to many folks, including one of our founding fathers. I'm sure the real origin may never be uncovered, but never-the-less, I find it somewhat fun.                                                                                                                                                                                              With respect to moderation, I think it is credible and find it too bad that due to current medication some of us have to skip being "happy" from that source. Oh, well -- we are a cannabis state now . . .

And again this weekend we have the NFL to look forward to, only this time there are only two games:

The Conference Championships -- both games taking place tomorrow, Sunday.  We were so happy to see the Vikings win that game last week over the Saints -- and it would be interesting to see the Vikings get into the Super Bowl since that is where it takes place this year!

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


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"! 😎