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Saturday, January 5, 2019

♪ So Long, Farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu . . . ♪

Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu!

After eight years of once per week posting, I am going to cease weekly posts and maybe, maybe if I get inspired, I'll post at infrequent times.

Thanks to each of you for your comments and for just "listening" to rambling thoughts on the current topics that came to mind.

So -- what happened to last week's post? There was none due to my being treated for kidney stones for five days . . . in the hospital.

I'm mending slowly and getting Gail and me back to a more regular routine. I do have to return for another procedure to actually remove stones from both the kidneys and bladder -- hopefully, I can
have better preparations for home care this time . . .

So, without further "adieu" we wish you all the best! Hope to see you all "in a few"! 👫

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Reddish Sky This Morning

Does that mean rain or does that mean Santa is on his way . . . maybe some of both. We think that we have made all the preparations for the big day -- but there is always that nagging feeling that there is something else that needs to be done.

Around the house, this morning -- with "traditional" Christmas tunes wafting throughout, these are some of the decorations. We actually have three lighted and one unlighted trees albeit miniaturized.

Growing up we mostly had the tree and maybe a few Christmas candles scattered through the house. As I recall, the tree usually went up on Christmas Eve and came down promptly at New Year's.

Our decorations inside and outside are usually up for about a month. I think tonight we may cruise through town to catch a glimpse of the holiday show. There always are several award-winning displays around -- but it is best seen after dark.

Speaking of the tree, my father used to go on his own to get a tree. And it usually was on the day before Christmas.

I remember how nice it was to have that pine fragrance permeate the house. These days we have a couple of "pine-scented" sticks to try to recreate that smell. If you are up close, you can detect the pine.

The kids -- me included -- usually got to put on the tinsel -- but only if you did it "one strand at a time". We had a nice collection of ornaments and we were careful not to shatter any of them as we put them on the tree.

The lights were another matter -- that job was left to our parents. And it could be a frustrating experience when one bulb burnt out -- the whole strand might go out and then you'd have to check each bulb until you locate the one that needed changing. So glad that we have come a long way from that. I imagine that is what was said when candle-lit trees went out of use.

I do not recall seeing any presents until Christmas morning. I'm not sure where my parents stored them, probably my older siblings knew that kind of information.

But I do remember associating cigar-aroma with the Christmas Eve wrapping fest that my folks had.

Apparently, my father would receive a Christmas cigar each year from his boss at work -- and he would smoke it while wrapping the gifts. That is the only time of the year that a cigar was smoked that I recall even though I enjoyed the cigar fragrance a lot.

So traditions have changed dramatically since those days. I might purchase Christmas gifts throughout the year as things strike my fancy. Then I do wait until the last minute to do the wrapping myself -- no cigar though -- being retired I have no boss to gift me one . . .

Of course, we have a Christmas puzzle project going on. We are about a little over half-way and we have the hardest part to finish -- mostly various shades of bluish sky sprinkled with snow-covered branches AND the bulk of the decorated Christmas tree.

It has been an enjoyable puzzle and we are on track to finish about the same time that Santa arrives -- hopefully bringing us some new puzzles . . .we've put in probably 600 of the 1000 pieces.

There is a theme to this post . . . but our street today and most-likely all across the country is full of active Santas (UPS, FedEx, and the USPS)are racing up and down the street dropping off packages.

I have to say that not one gift that we purchased did we go into a "brick and mortar" store to do that -- online all the time.

When are we ever going to get "drone" delivery that we keep hearing about -- that will really be interesting, and a little creepy as well. Imagine seeing those devices descending from the sky to deliver our packages. What would our ancestors think?

And finally:

We do wish everyone the very best Christmas this year, 2018!  Hope to see you all "in a few"! 🎅

Saturday, December 15, 2018

♫ . . . It's Rainy Outside . . . ♪

Not to be confused with the controversial "Baby, It's Cold Outside" . . . but it is cold outside and inside as well -- at the moment (explanation later).

The birds are lovin' it -- they are filling up on seed and suet at our feeding stations. We enjoy watching them from the comfort of our couch . . . we're old.

That is a quick look at our backyard area this morning as the rain came lightly down and the birds went berserk in a feeding frenzy.

I am not sure what kinds of birds these are but do know that they are hungry. In the far right picture, one bird can be seen digging into the feeder while directly below is another bird catching the spillage.

We are really glad for the rain and are expecting more in the coming days.

So, why is it cold inside . . . well, we shut down the heat every night and open the bedroom windows to get a "good night's sleep" and when it is cold, we do.

Then in the morning, when the house temp is around 60° I turn on the heat when I get up so that it is warm when Gail gets up.

But this morning, somehow I turned on the a/c and went about getting ready and sitting in a cool family room reading the paper wondering why it was still cold in the house and passing it off as the outside rainy weather was permeating through the walls more than normal . . .

The situation got remedied when I went to check the thermostat and realized my error -- old . . .

This time of the season there is so much that I need to be reminded about that I don't think that the "string" is working all that well.

My concentration seems to be lacking in some of the details like things that need to be ordered. Things like items that are used up and need to be reordered like groceries.

Then there are the things like gifting that need to be taken into consideration and the assurance that everything and everyone is taken care of -- e.g. like the mail person, the paper person, the yard person, the pool person, and a few others.

Maybe I need heavier string or more fingers, it's getting bothersome though. At some point, I'll just probably shrug and say "it is what it is . . ." and move on -- maybe work some on the puzzle . . .

Speaking of puzzles, we finished the "Sam's Garage" after almost two weeks of struggling.

It was a difficult puzzle partly due to the fact that the pieces were small and there was 1000 of them and all showed up in the final effort.

Gail was convinced that we could never finish this one (but she almost says that about every one).

She also was convinced at one point that there were more pieces than we needed to finish the puzzle and then thought that there were missing pieces -- neither was the case, thank goodness.

We have started a new puzzle today and it is "Christmas" themed and should be done by Christmas.
It has 1000 pieces, but the pieces are bigger which means more of the "evidence" is shown on each piece and therefore a bit easier to recognize . . . again, we're old.

More puzzling -- well -- certainly from this perspective, it looks like a gigantic puzzle.

It is the representation of our family tree which sprouts new growth frequently as
I add (and subtract) things weekly.

And if you enlarge this you might see the branch where you and your family can be found . . . but most likely, not.

The work on the family tree is as rewarding as the other jigsaw puzzle -- the difference is that there is no finish in view. Every day there are changes and so the view is only as good as that particular day.

And as echoing what we hear from everyone else these days -- time is flying:

And that is not all that (who) is flying. Santa arrives in the time frames listed above and it is even shorter wait now . . .

I'm getting that "panicky" feeling again about "are we ready for Christmas" and what else needs to be done . . .

That is a bit of our week. See you all "in a few"! 👫

Sunday, December 9, 2018

In the Interim . . .

Okay, so it is Sunday, not Saturday I have a written excuse, but I think the dog ate it . . . we had too much on our plate yesterday for me to blog, so today is it.

Only 16 days until Christmas and all through the house, we're trying to prepare. That includes mostly shopping both for gift items and also essentials. We actually made it out to Costco after several months and made the round trip in 1 1/2 hours and got most of what we went for . . . primarily meat for the freezer and so we hope that PGE does not randomly shut off our power . . .

So now that we have some essentials taken care of in this interim period we will concentrate on gift purchasing, gift wrapping and mailing . . .

We are not interested in the retail blood sports so will focus on online sites, primarily Amazon and Costco -- so nice!

This week was a somber one for sure and we did manage to watch a lot of the arrangements made for GHWB. He was definitely a quality human being and so worthy of respect. For me, I was so grateful for the way he impacted many things especially Desert Storm.

For me, the above collage -- says it all.

But even though it is Christmas season there still are other celebrations to hold -- including two events for two special women in my branch of the tree:  Lisa & Marilee have birthdays this week.

For Lisa, it is her 50th -- wow! And for Marilee also a wow marker!

We wish them both the very best on their special days. It is unfortunate that they both live so far away and we can't share in the celebrations -- but we do send our love.

Lisa lives in a climate that is typically 15-20° cooler than here, and Marilee lives where it is typically 20-30° cooler than here (in the winter time). And they both live where there is much more precipitation than here.

So besides climbing in the family trees what have we been up to -- puzzling, of course:

This started out as a very difficult puzzle for us -- it must be because the pieces are very small and so very little is exhibited in each piece. But little-by-little we have made significant progress and the above is where we are at this time.

We expect to finish sometime this week -- if we are lucky. I particularly enjoyed this one after getting more into it as I have owned my share of VW Bugs and have always liked them. Now they have announced again that the last VW Bug will be rolling off the line soon -- they have done this twice before and have always resumed production -- maybe this time too.

Working jigsaw puzzles is a lot like working on family trees -- one piece at a time and before you know it you have a tree full. This week I spent a lot of time adding to one of the trees that I created for a good friend.

Our friends, unfortunately, lost their home in last years Sonoma County fires and along with it all their personal things including old family photos and family genealogical information. I created two binders representing family information for two siblings to replace some of what they lost.

I found the experience satisfying knowing that they will get a lot of enjoyment from those binders.

And lastly:

Dino, is taking advantage every night of his canine-cave bed as we open the windows at night -- and the outside temperature gets into the 30s and inside the house, it is about 62° -- so it is chilly but oh so good for sleeping -- we turn our electric blankets on . . .

That is a bit of our week. See you all "in a few"! 👫

Saturday, December 1, 2018

December Begins, Rain . . .

It was raining again on and off in our area this week. It is projected to rain again next week -- how did we get so lucky all of a sudden.

The beautiful December foliage is apparent on our street. Every shade of fall colors is displayed and we marvel at the distinctive colors as we peer out our kitchen window.

The December foliage is brilliant and it happens every year that the trees give us their brilliance. I took a quick shot during a rain break to -- let the dog out and to snap some photos.

Of course, little by little we are still adding some touches to our holiday decorations. Every year we start out slowly and then maybe feeling nostalgic we add some more "stuff".

So far it has just been the outside that we have actually done anything to do with decor.

Gail is adjusting the annual Christmas Wreath (thank you Damian) near the front door.

We notice that our across-the-street neighbors have a very similar wreath put up the same day that we did . . .

We have a few other outside decorations that we will hopefully be digging out and put up to round out the display for this year.

At the moment, we'll wait a few more days and then search the garage for where we stored the items and for the day to be more or less a dry one.

Of course, while the rain is really welcome -- and it has "put out the fire" it has also brought about a new disaster especially for the folks that have been thrown out of their homes and are camping . . .

Over in Butte County and the town of Paradise, displaced families are now having to deal with mudslides and water.

I can not imagine how uncomfortable it would be to be living maybe in a tent and have to deal with these elements.

Normal life patterns and everyday living for the thousands dealing with the loss of their homes, jobs and maybe loved ones is unimaginable.

It surely will be years before any sense of community living can be achieved. Good friends of ours came by this week who lost their home in last year's fire -- and are finally making the decision to NOT rebuild, but to buy a different home.

These folks lived on a street that had 21 homes, 20 of which were totally destroyed and now maybe two are thinking of rebuilding.

The rest may or may not rebuild. If someone is in their later years and experience something like this, two or three years may not be a time frame that is doable.

The new disaster that just happened in Alaska is another cruel reminder for Californians as well. It is always in the back of our minds about the "coming" earthquake . . .

We experienced our own "mini-crisis" the other evening. Fortunately, all's well that ends well, so they say.

We were happily watching TV the other evening when I thought there was a "beeping" maybe on the TV -- so I muted it, but I still heard the beep.

I have to say that both Gail and I have some hearing "issues" and while I heard something, Gail did not.

So, I got up and went to check on the rest of the house. When I got in the middle where the hallway is I definitely heard a periodic loud beeping.

We have a smoke detector unit, a carbon monoxide detector unit, and a glass breakage detector unit in that area and when the beep would sound I could not determine from which unit it was coming.

I figured that it must be the battery in the smoke detector so I climbed up and changed that, but there still was the beeping. I called ADT and they said that they saw an alarm from the smoke detector in the hallway and we reset it after my battery change -- but the beeping still continued.

I rechecked the stand-alone carbon monoxide alarm and it was indicating that we should evacuate quickly. ADT advised also that since they were not showing any more alarm from their unit, that we should evacuate and call the fire department.

This was at about 9 pm and it was raining -- so we did call (911) and the fire department was dispatched. Dino, Gail and I were waiting on the front porch when the fire truck pulled up and four firemen came in.

They used a monitor and quickly determined that there was NO carbon monoxide -- but they spotted the fourth detector down the hallway that I had forgotten about and it was the beeping unit.

Upon examination, they determined that the unit was beeping because it needed replacing -- not just the battery, but the whole unit, which is also hard-wired. Apparently, after so many years the unit expired and tells us by beeping, as if there was smoke or carbon monoxide in the air, that it was time to replace it.

We are so glad that it happened at 9pm and not three or four hours later when it would have really panicked us in the middle of the night -- which could easily have happened. To me there must be a better way . . . after 5 years of installing it, it had to be replaced . . . hard to remember to do that.

We have ordered another unit and will try to remember in about 5 years to replace it . . .

Well, it is just a little over three weeks till Christmas. It again has snuck up on us in plain sight.

It always happens that once Thanksgiving is over that Christmas almost immediately happens -- and it is happening.

We aren't planning any retail blood-sport holiday shopping trips. But we will be purchasing things our favorite way -- online.

The trick is to be able to track all the many different orders coming and to be sure and be home to ward off the porch visitors. So far we have been lucky and we try to keep an eye out in the neighborhood for unusual activity.

I still find it interesting to "shop" at this time of the year though it really is so different than when there were little ones to buy for and do things for . . .

And lastly, another look at DNA commentary -- this time in "Zits" comics:

How do they come up with this stuff? Some of it may bear resemblance to how some folks feel when they receive their analysis -- we are happy with our findings, so far. I just can't keep up with the huge numbers of matches.

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

Saturday, November 24, 2018

. . . FINALLY . . .

The fires are not completely out here in Northern California, but moving closer to that -- at least for now. The three days of rain have succeeded in a major assist.

Of course, there are thousands of other concerns as well related to this horrible event. Thousands of folks who like most of us usually enjoyed Thanksgiving around a well-set table and the warmth and comfort of friends and family were forced to spend this holiday at shelters and even tent cities.

The rains began here on Wednesday, the 21st of November. They lasted through Friday, but today, Saturday, it is bright and sunny -- at least in Healdsburg.

It is predicted that we will receive more rain next week beginning on Tuesday -- what a real "Thanksgiving"! We have an amazing gardener -- he showed up today along with the sun. We have had the same person -- Rafael --  for almost twenty years and he has only missed one week and that due to a heart attack.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we had a great time spent with some of our loved ones (Gail, Dino and me) and enjoyed the complete dinner traditionally served on that day.

As a matter of fact, we had the exact same dinner last night as well substituting corn for green beans and adding a small dinner roll and cranberry sauce for Gail.

And guess what -- it was sooo good the last two nights we will repeat it once more tonight -- but that will be it for this year.

Helping the traditional day's activities, we watched part of three NFL games -- speeding through each so that we saw all the action plays in about an hour per game instead of the usual three hours per game. What a deal -- and we napped later in the afternoon . . .

This year it happened that while perusing the "Nextdoor" app for Healdsburg I came across an ad for gutter cleaning (which we really needed) and by the way putting up Christmas lights was available too.

We felt lucky that we got our gutters cleaned out just one day before the rain came. And the lights are up and on too.

We had the outline of the roof lighted along the gutter lines and when I took this picture at dusk, the full moon appeared off in the western sky. We have taken to turning off the lights when we retire and then they come back on the next evening at dusk. So far, so good -- no burnt out bulbs . . .

We have a few more decorations to put up in the coming days but who knows we may just be "okay" with the new lights . . .

And we haven't just been doing "nothing" in terms of puzzles -- we finished the one off to the right on Monday the 19th.

Besides being varied and fun-to-do, there were many nostalgic symbols displayed which made it interesting to do.

However, Gail hates to take down a puzzle after struggling to complete it -- so what we do after a day or so is to carefully slide it onto another board and start a new puzzle.

And that is what we have done -- one that is very similar to the above -- a lot of variations and color and interesting to work on.

What is currently on-our-nightstand you might ask -- the book off to the left -- "Becoming" by Michelle Obama.

We have been reading in that book for three nights and are enjoying it a lot.

The pages are full, smallish type and interesting. The details about a city that I know somewhat is good.

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and even though I never lived in the city, I have some sense of living there.

Michelle describes city living well, especially the city on the South side as she saw it and I have only read about it.

This book will take "some time" to read and that is a good thing because it is well written -- I am always amazed when a writer can remember so much detail of things that happened years

before. We look forward each night to read and learn from this book. I'll most likely reference it again.

Lastly, and this is so often the case these days, I am finding out way after the fact about someone in our tree:

My paternal first cousin, Leslie passed away earlier this year -- March. He was 86 years old.

I'm not sure if I ever really met Leslie, but I sure did hear about some of his life, that is for sure. He is the son of my father's brother, Lloyd Jr.

One of the things that I always heard was that he was a champion swimmer in high school and was maybe destined for bigger things in that arena. But as sometimes happens that did not occur.

Just in doing research over the years I have gleaned some facts about Leslie, one being that he had joined the Marines after High School and that he married while in the service and had at least one son, Robert Hiles.

Robert Hiles, also my paternal first cousin but one time removed, has four children, my first cousins two times removed. I have been in contact over the years with two of Leslie's granddaughters.

Thinking about how it would be that I would have heard earlier about Leslie's passing, I'm not sure how it would happen since his grandkids were not in touch with him for years and so I found out while searching "Hiles" records in newspapers. Sad, in a way, for sure.

And that is a bit of our week, hope to see you all "in a few"!👫

Saturday, November 17, 2018


It has been over ten days since the Northern California fires in Butte County have started to ravish communities there. We still -- over 100 miles away -- are reeling from the effects of the smoke.

The half-moon appearing these nights is obscured by the haze. People all over town appear wearing masks including the folks who come to our door for one reason or another.

When my kids were growing up in the Northwest they used to listen anxiously on winter mornings for any word that "today" would be a "snow day" and that there would be no school. In our neighborhoods these days I suppose the kids await word for "smoke-filled days" that will cause the schools to be closed -- and most local schools have been closed because of the smoke.

Not only regular school has been curtailed, but sporting events and other outdoor activities have been canceled due to the fires. We have pretty much stayed inside -- but that is what our norm these days is anyway.

We keep the furnace fans running and that seems to help a bit and we only venture outside when necessary. We definitely do smell the acrid remains of smoke and it may be having an effect on how we feel.

The TV news is almost all about the fires and it is certainly a "downer". We here in Sonoma County just last year had over 6,000 homes burn -- now there are nearly 10,000 homes that have burnt to the ground in and around Butte County -- more in Southern California.

In Sonoma County, there has only been a handful of homes rebuilt and most folks that have lost their homes are still battling the insurance people and other regulatory agencies that seemingly are making it impossible to rebuild.

The word about Butte County folks who have lost their homes is that first there is almost no way that the thousands of folks left homeless will be able to even find temporary housing until they can rebuild. It is truly a dilemma that one has to hope to never have to experience.

Our indoor activities during the day continue to be centered around puzzle management and we have used that to "block" out some of the reminders of smoke-related activities.

We have been taking about two weeks to work the average 1000 piece puzzle -- we usually spend an hour or so at the "grind" and then return maybe for a second session later.  We almost always work on a puzzle during the evening news or a recorded sports event like Monday/Thursday Night Football.

We have discovered though that just because a picture is beautiful -- it does not always make a good puzzle. For example, the puzzle to the left in the collage above is a prime example of a beautiful scene but horrible puzzle material . . .

What is currently on our nightstand?   Actually, it is on "Audible" and we read it on our iPad each night before drifting off to sleep.

Of course, the book is written about the author of "Gone With The Wind", Margaret Mitchell.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               She led a very interesting life and only wrote this one very impressive novel.   Having grown up in the South she had heard tales about the Civil War era her whole life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We are only about half-way through the book and find ourselves learning a bit of her everyday life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Unfortunately, Margaret died fairly young -- at 49 years of age -- a victim of a speeding driver who struck her in 1949. "Gone With the Wind" was published in 1936 and went on to sell millions of copies and win numerous awards.

Of course, the movie starred Clark Gable and was one of my Mother's favorites as well as the favorite of many many others. After reading this book we might just watch the movie -- one more time.

Just like with puzzles, we have our next book "on its way" and we'll talk about that one soon.                                                                                                                                                                  

A return of a favorite show is coming -- Who Do You Think You Are -- returns on December 3, a Monday.
                                                                                                               This show has been on now for several years and is fun to watch.                                                                                                                  Unfortunately, this season I think there are only four episodes. The episodes are about a known TV or movie personality and the search into their family trees.                                                                                                                                                                                        The show originated in the United Kingdom and still is popular there as well (with their version).                                                                                                                                                                      The show will air on TLC on Mondays at 10 pm -- we will set up a timer to record each episode and then watch them when it is convenient for us.

We are feeling the "holiday" season especially with the arrival of an impressive "edible" gift for the occasion:

Gail is checking out our holiday gift box -- thank you, Aura.

We look forward to enjoying all the goodies shown, from fresh fruit to salami, cookies, candies and other treats.

A nice way to begin the stretch of days coming up.

And lastly, next week is our favorite holiday of the year -- Thanksgiving Day. It again seems impossible that it is so soon and that some parts of the country will have a "white" Thanksgiving.

We wish all a very pleasant day on Thursday next week -- we are even forecast to have rain -- which is a real Thanksgiving this year.

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