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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rockin' /Healdsburg/ 2Days 2Go

This is the LAST post of 2012 for me . . . I am surprised that for the last two years that I actually kept my goal of writing a post once per week. And it is always a surprise that there is material readily available for posting . . . just kidding. This week was filled with a lot of the stuff that conjures up memories for me at least.

We celebrated the Christmas Holiday and as I think back, bits and pieces of other Christmases present themselves. As a young kid growing up, our family did not usually get a Christmas tree until about Christmas Eve -- there is a lot of speculation as to why that was, but that was a magical time for us kids.

Our father brought the tree home and then as I recall, my folks mostly decorated it while we were off to dreamland . . . it was also the time that cigar smoke usually wafted throughout the house as my Father received a cigar from his boss each year and he smoked it while wrapping gifts and decorating.

Above can be seen some of the activities for this current Christmas -- some of the decorations, some of the many gifts, some of the Christmas "eats", the general mellow day.

It seems that the day takes forever to get here but then very quickly meshes into my memory and as always it has been a positive.

For us, it is the second Christmas (we are lucky) that we have had Dino. He was so patient as we opened gifts and always wanted to be right up close and personal as we tore through wrapping -- his favorite attraction. But we did get him a gift also and he knew when it was time.

He sat nicely and then got onto his bed and watched as Gail retrieved his "gift". He waited 'til he was told "okay" and then enjoyed his new "Nylabone" with fervor . . . we are always amazed as he treats any new gift with his undivided attention -- this left us time to attend to other unwrappings as well and then to brunch of delicious waffles . . .

Apres -- Christmas Day

As I said, Christmas day does go fast and we try to hold on to it for a while, but within a very short period of time -- the tree is "un" trimmed and removed and many of the decorations are carefully repacked for use hopefully next year . . . 

These are some of the "after" Christmas goings on . . . we had a nice visit with Tim, Emma & Aiden, who stopped over the day after Christmas (they are visiting from Texas).  The tree stands outside with Dino "checking" it out just before we reduced it in size enough to put it out for pick-up. 

We will leave some of the outside lights up 'til New Year's. The moon this week was full and provided a few nights of amazing viewing -- pictures really never can do it justice but never-the-less we went outside each night and took a gander and a photo . . .


It is with sadness that I have to report that Iris Amelia Hiles Shumaker passed away on 22 December of this year. She is the only daughter of Harold Hiles and is a first cousin of mine (once removed). Her daughter Melissa was kind enough to send me an email with that information.

I never got to meet Iris and in fact it was not until many years into my family history work that I even knew much about her -- I knew her birth name -- Iris Hiles, but since women often change their names at marriage I could not find her . . . until I started exchanging emails with her daughter, Melissa, my second cousin.

Iris, from all the reports from Melissa was a very strong personality and I really wish that I would have met her. She was born in Spencer, Wisconsin and ultimately lived in California and then to Texas. 

She had two children, Tim & Melissa and also now many Grandkids. All these people are directly related to my branch -- but as far as I know -- the two branches have never met each other . . . though our paths have come very close at times.

Above are some of the photos I have of Iris, most of them came from Melissa. Next to her baby picture is a group photo including the Cliftons who were visiting the Harold & Nettie Hiles' in Southgate, CA.
In addition the two maps show Spencer and Fredricksburg. Iris, rest-in-peace . . .

Some Websites that I Use

Like most of us, I use a variety of websites every day. One that I use and have for a long time is called 
Snopes -- I use it to check on things like "urban myths" (that my brother is concerned about . . .) and to check out the reasonableness of some of the things I receive in my email e.g. health concerns and other emails relating to current events:

Above are some examples of the things I recently checked out -- if you have things that you want a second opinion on, you can check them out on Snopes to see if they have an opinion:  SNOPES

Another site that I have started checking on is also fun and interesting:

Above is just an example of the "stuff" that can be uncovered while looking at this really fast growing site. I loved the photo -- that looks a lot like Dino, surrounded by couch pillows . . . but there is a whole world of things to explore at the site:      PINTEREST

And lastly, I have mentioned this site may times before -- but it continues to be creative and useful as well. Since there are only two more days until the New Year -- this site has given us the information needed to set our table appropriately for the celebration on the eve . . .

It would be hard NOT to utilize this to really set the stage for the evening's dinner -- except in our case it's a bit much "for two" . . . though, if we were having a larger group, this would be an elegant way to celebrate.

Aside from the NYE table, this site has provided me with a ton of recipes suitable for many occasions AND they all have been excellent. Check them out for yourselves:  NOBLE PIG

So, that is a bit of our week -- we did have burgers last night and they were soooo good. Tonight's menu is going to be chicken . . .

Happy New Year's to all !! See you in a few . . .

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Two Days to Go / Healdsburg Christmas

Two days ago the official start of winter and now there are two days to go before Christmas. But there are hourly changes to the weather. We are trying to make our travel plans coincide with the least amount of rainfall as possible . . . what travel plans . . . the ones to the post office or to the supermarket, those are the most likely places we are planning on traveling to in the next few days:

When I started to write this post, this was the scene that I saw outside my window -- it happens now to be bright sunshine though -- that will change shortly I presume. We are not minding the weather and aside from gutters that remind us that they need cleaning it is like having a sound machine on -- set on a steady rainfall.

In the last twenty-four hours the above are some of the different skies we have seen from either the front windows or the back -- Dino is looking through a back door . . . the skies have gone from bright sun with white fluffy clouds to dark foreboding ones in a matter of minutes. It reminds us of a drive through the Texas panhandle a few years back when Gail remarked about the beauty of the "white, fluffy" clouds surrounding our car -- as we crossed into Oklahoma though the clouds became darker than night and shortly afterwards we were in the midst of a tornado . . .

We are not expecting violent weather just very wet and some windy weather. In the one picture above you can see a crescent moon shining yellowishly above the arbor. The grapelights have come on during the daytime due to the darkness and then go off after a few hours only to come back on later . . .

We know that so much of the rest of the country is receiving precipitation as well -- only it's staying put after falling . . . which requires some form of removal . . . our cousin Jeremy in Viroqua reported just receiving 18 inches of the white stuff -- in time for Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas

Probably one of my favorite movies about Christmastime is "A Christmas Story" which came out in the 1980s and every once in awhile I still enjoy watching it . . . to me there were a lot of similarities to the actions and times of my childhood -- with some modifications -- it could have taken place in my family:

As a matter of fact as you can see in the above scenes from the movie -- I fit right in as the kid in the lower right -- that is me in about 1949 sitting on the front steps in La Grange, Illinois.  I am pretty sure that I "knew" all the other kids . . .

Though I have not seen it yet -- there is a new Christmas Story out "A Christmas Story 2" and it carries on with Ralphie as a teenager. I suspect nothing can compare to the original, but it might be worth taking a little "look-see" and when the DVD arrives, I will . . .

Above is some info about the movie and "A Christmas Story House & Museum". The movie was mostly filmed in Cleveland (and Canada) to represent an Indiana town. You can get more information from the website listed above. I love the look of the house and the "beautiful" lamp prominently displayed in the front room's window -- as was the practice to do . . .

Another Christmas House

While reading the paper the other day, a picture of another "Christmasy" house caught my attention -- this one comes from the Seattle area and there a local architect created an eye-catching tree display.

I have to say -- "Why didn't I think of that?" It probably is a good thing that I did not. But I think we can all say that it is pretty clever -- we see so many houses decorated with thousands of lights and multiple video displays attracting all the tour busses, but this one is different -- what will they think of next. It reminds me a little of the Chevy Chase movie when they unleash their freshly cut tree from the wild . . .

Dino's Week

During our training this week at GDB, the pups were exposed to the very cramped conditions of a room in a Roundtable Pizza in Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa.  It was the annual Christmas party and it was good for the pups to experience a crowded environment -- they all did really well -- and we had a great time.

Above you can see Dino is his Christmas finery and a flavor of the setting at Roundtable. There were gifts and certificates awarded to all. We had our fill of "eats" and after a couple of hours we all headed home. On the right are a couple of last year's pics of Dino's first Christmas -- we are not sure where Dino will spend next Christmas, though we may start to find out more next month . . .

Grandparents Night 2012

For almost 20 years we have been celebrating "Grandparents" night a few days before Christmas -- a chance for us to get together with our grand niece and nephew and share the evening AND have a gift exchange in relative quiet -- as opposed to "not quiet" conditions when there might be a much larger crowd.
This year we did include the "parents" too -- maybe to the dismay of the "youngsters".

The above is a sampling of the evening. A good time was had by all and we even promised to maybe do it again next year as we have been doing for so many years. For dinner we had traditional Christmas ham, green beans and scalloped potatoes along with delicious salad and fresh rolls. For dessert, specialty ice cream along with home made mini cupcakes . . .

When it was all over -- we felt like Christmas had come and was now gone -- but, we still have Christmas day coming up very quickly -- Gail and I have exchanged a couple of pre-Christmas gift items already to off load the load coming on Tuesday morning -- and to highlight special items e.g. the "fathead" gift item that Gail treasures . . .

That is a bit of our week. Last night we did have burgers, tonight, a roasted (in the Ninja) chicken.

Have a great Christmas! See you all in a few . . .

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Contest Entries/Healdsburg

The rain and dismal, bleak weather, are in sync with our mood with respect to the national events of the week. It is though, the kind of weather-week that really welcomes the Springtime when it does arrive. In the meantime, our town is gearing up for the judging of the best decorated homes. Each Christmas season as in so many neighborhoods around the country, our area sports many examples of the "Chrismas Spirit".

The top and bottom photos are repeat entries into the judging arena -- every year they run right at the top of the leader board. the photo in the middle on the other hand is unusual -- a Christmas Giraffe and 3 "Wisehens" -- just kidding. This display I found fascinating and I believe is "up" all year 'round. I do think though a few more lights might have been the clincher for at least an "honorable mention" . . .

We will make another trip or so around town to see all the latest additions as we are still seeing folks working on their entries. I remember one that my family did in Southern California -- we were living in a brand new rental complex (1970s) and the complex offered one month free rent to the winner of the best display -- we won that despite the fact that torrential rains hit just on the judging day and put a huge damper on the "Visions of Sugarplums . . ." display. Even though we won, the bottom-line was that we broke even as we spent about one month's rent on the display materials -- but, we probably still have some of the lights and other things . . .

Maybe I Should Have Kept the Buick . . . 

Growing up automobiles meant a lot to me and not in the way that they do today. And if you look in most families picture albums, posing in front of a vehicle is very common. Like most, I have owned many many cars over the years. My first car was a leftover car from the family and I promptly "ran it into the ground" so-to-speak. The next car I bought was a favorite of mine and I actually can not recall whatever happened to it now -- but after seeing an article this week -- in the back of my mind I think "it would have been nice to have that car now" kind of like the baseball cards that disappeared somehow. 

In the bottom middle picture shows why my interest was tapped -- this is the 1949 Buick from the movie "Rainman" and look what it sold for . . . on the right is a 1953 Buick just not quite like my first purchased car a black, with red leather interior, '53 Buick Convertible . . .  and I saw this week that a '53 sold for $55,000 plus . . . 

Growing up, my family was a "GM" car family -- we had Pontiacs, Chevrolets, Buicks, Oldsmobiles but sadly no Cadillacs . . . in the top middle picture my Father can be seen "detailing" his pride and joy 1956 Buick Special. That car was in such pristine condition that more than once we got a knock on the door asking if the car was for sale . . .

After the 1953 black Buick Convertible, I purchased my third car -- a 1956 Buick Special Convertible very much like the car on the left accept that it was all turquoise with a white top. Convertibles were always desirous in the Midwest where we lived, the winter could be tough, but "oh the springtime" when the top could come down . . . and one of the '56s sold this week for $54,000 plus . . . 

So, like homes, if one kept all of the cars -- wow, what a fortune we would have . . .

Dino's Week

We are sooo fortunate to have Dino for a second Christmastime. The timing was right because he was a youngster during the Holidays last year and it is just about a month before it is "his time" to maybe move on to his next level of training . . . we will find out more in the early days of January 2013. 

Dino is almost 15 months old now and the time has flown by. Here is a look at last year about this time and a picture taken about an hour ago as I write this post:

Dino in the top left photo waits as I write this and in the other three pics just about last year at this time we could still hold him in our laps. 

In the Design Stage

We have lived in this home now for about one year and five months already. We have made several upgrades and still have one more to go -- the kitchen -- and none too soon. Last month or so the original oven here lost some of it's functionality and usefulness. We have made accommodations and have been able to continue -- and I think enhance our level of enjoyment and the stove-top is very unpleasant as it "clicks" loudly throughout any use.

So -- voila -- our interim kitchen. We actually love some of the features of these appliances. They definitely have changed the way that we prepare things AND the type of things that we prepare. Paninis have made a big entry onto our menus. 

And these appliances will hopefully serve us well in the coming weeks as we hopefully will get started on a kitchen remodel in the first weeks of January -- that all depends of course on the "proposal" coming from our contractor. 

Also, the last kitchen remodel we had back in 1999 at our previous home -- Gail was suspiciously gone for most of the difficult times . . . and she starts back to work the first week of January . . .

So -- What about Genealogy this Week?

Well, I did not attend any Webinars this week but I have signed up for new ones starting in January -- that is if the noise level is such that I can hear . . . but there is BIG news about family history in-a-way this week.

Several years ago I started having DNA tests for the paternal and maternal sides of my tree. Then more recently I had the new tests done to see about finding cousins -- a test that both male and females can take.

And then last month Gail took the new test and she is starting to receive "matches" back from Ancestry DNA -- and guess what came this week -- a new possible match of a fourth cousin -- ME . . . what does this mean.

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about the new DNA tests and how much more reasonable they were getting. In the above middle (click to enlarge) you can see the note we got from Ancestry about Gail and I being fourth cousins and all (possibly). 

In the far right pic are the names of some of the Great Great Great Grandparents that would somehow have to be related for Gail and I to be fourth cousins . . .

As you can see, there are some gaps in the names -- mostly in Gail's tree -- so it will take a lot of investigating to find the potential common ancestors -- so it will be a challenge but also fun.

I have always suspected that there are other "cousin" marriages in our tree -- the names of whom are not revealed at the moment . . . maybe if more of "you-all" took the tests we might find out.

Still 10 Days 'til Christmas

Besides the joys and fun of the holiday season there are always the other side, e.g. the two trips we made to the post office so far (more to come). As we wait in line it is not possible for your mind not to question the business model of the USPS. 

It doesn't really matter either which office you visit. We from time to time go to our neighboring town to "try-out" their operation -- and sometimes we find it better. Then like this week we found our way in another town and we were back questioning things. Hopefully though our packages will find their way to the right destinations -- now if we could only get the local postman to not deliver our mail to two of the other homes in our area that have the same numerical address (but different streets) we might feel better . . .

So holiday activities go on, we are planning a "Grandparent's Night" for next week, which will probably include the usual festivities.  Meanwhile as I look out the window I see things like the women above walking I think six dogs in the rain. Each dog looks to have rain gear on -- I can't imagine the pre and post work to do all that.

We had our traditional burgers last night -- tonight, it looks like a pot roast in-the-Ninja . . .

That was our week, have a good week and we will see you in a few.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

About Christmas--Healdsburg/Cotati Style

As I write this -- it is an absolutely gorgeous day, bright, sunny, clear skies, rather cool though. The week hardly started out that way though. Earlier this week it was stormy, cloudy, windy and very much wet with a ton of rain -- again. Unfortunately this was the week that we decided to do our outside decorating for the season -- and we went "all out" :

Actually, "we all went out" and as you can see Dino & Gail approaching an extremely decorated home in the half-hour away community of Cotati . . . more about that later. Our personal decorations are a bit more modest, but you have to start somewhere.

Dino's Week at GDB Training (Cotati)

It's a bit like having "kids" in a way. Many of the attractions that we see and visit would not happen if it were not for the puppy raising training sessions that our group leader plans for us each month. It would be so easy to just wait to see the kind of examples on TV, like the home above:

Dino's training this week actually started out at the Starbuck's in Cotati with an evaluation session conducted by our new CFR (regional trainer for GDB) to learn more about Dino and to discuss future possible events. We are holding our collective breath that we can have Dino at least for the holidays . . . and that looks promising as we are being told he probably will be recalled in January for in-depth evaluation.

At any rate, after the Starbuck's session -- sitting on the patio just under the eaves to keep the rain (but not the cold) from reaching us -- we all as a group headed to Oliver's Food's to cruise throughout the store (in smaller groups of two or three) and watch how the pups handled themselves. Dino was handled and lead through the store by a young girl who herself is waiting to receive a puppy to raise for GDB -- the usual process at the beginning. Dino did just fine as usual. The top photos show the store excursion.

The remaining photos are all about the season's decorations at a local home. It is hard to capture the real essence of the exhibit but it was spectacular. Apparently the owner himself used to raise "care puppies" and has several puppies in his display. Our group of raisers and pups seemed to love the display even though it was very cold and somewhat wet. 

We Caught the Decorating Bug . . .

So, as is usually the case, I began early to push to complete our "holiday" decorating and I went out and selected the perfect tree for us -- we're old, you know . . . after lugging it home I put it up in the living room and even put on the decorations as well . . .

Gail was delighted that the usually lengthy process of putting up the annual Christmas tree was completed and ready for holiday celebrating -- all without hassle. She was really appreciative that I took the "bull" by the horns and completed this task early so we could now sit back and enjoy the moment . . . NOT

The Other Things Happening (and on our nightstand . . .)

Holiday prepping takes it out of you -- so-to-speak -- and it does take time away from doing genealogy,
but I did have time to attend the last of the scheduled webinars that Legacy Family Tree had for this year.
Even though it was on Irish Researching, I learned a great deal as the process can apply to many other geographical areas of the world. 

If you are interested in the process of doing family history, Legacy offers these really helpful webinars at no charge (for live attendance) throughout the year. They have already announced that they have their 2013 schedule ready to go and will soon release the details. If you are interested check out their website to sign up to attend:     Legacy Webinars      

Now every night before drifting off, we read together from the book of choice. This time it is "Total Recall" about the life of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The book is huge, (like the person) over 600 pages. We were not sure that we would be interested enough for 600+ pages, but have been happily surprised. We are enjoying the book and it brings back a bit of the period of the 70s and 80s (so far) that we remember living through. Now we can relate to how Arnold was living at the time and the experiences that he had during those same years. 

We are only about half way through the book and we hope it keeps it's interest level and I am looking forward to finding out more about his serving as our Governor (100 years after our cousin was Governor).
It looks now that Arnold is headed back to being a Hollywood star and that will remain to be seen . . .

The "Real" Trip to the Tree Lot . . .

To my surprise, my attempt at selecting the perfect tree went by the wayside and we again made our annual trip to the wilderness local tree lot to select the perfect specimen and to cut purchase it, all to the benefit of many recipients chosen by the local Kiwanis group . . .

Our journey started out with all of us in the car well prepared for the mile and half or so trip to the lot. Fortunately for us it was Friday morning and there were almost no other customers. We had the full attention of the entire staff. 

Everyone at the lot loved Dino and Dino was excited to revisit the same lot that he did last year when he was only 11 weeks old (he is 14 months now). He was decked out in his Christmas finery and enjoyed sniffing around all the trees . . . we got expert assistance and Gail actually knocked over the first tree that we looked at so -- we had to buy it . . .

The Real Tree Decoration

After loading the tree and securing it for the trip home we were anxious to have it fully up and decorated before long . . . we were so lucky that the day was a nice one in terms of weather. And we were so lucky that we did not wait until Saturday when the tree lot would be much more active . . . the whole process of selection and bringing it home was -- about one half hour . . .

Within probably another hour, we had the tree up in our family room and then we Gail did the lights and other decorations as is usually the case. She always does a great job and the 20 or so handmade needle-pointed ornaments look great. We added the red truck for Dino this year.

Some of the other Christmas decorations can be seen and now I can say we are "holiday" ready. We do have some lights in place on the front porch as well . . .

And Lastly this Week

There are many other things going on during the month of December for example, there are approximately 184 birthdays for folks in our tree. Plus there are the everyday things going on in all of our lives. Somehow though the getting ready process for Christmas and New Years keeps a tradition alive. It is still a magical time of the year . . .

We send happy birthday wishes to all in our tree for this month including to my daughter, Lisa and to my sister Marilee.   Check out the other dates and anniversaries:     Hiles Website

We had the best burgers and sweet potato fries last night -- we are looking forward to the week. 

We wish the best to all . . . see you in a few.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Quick Fill/Pool -- River Russian

This was a stay-inside kind of week. There were several days of very heavy rain and some winds. Apparently last night was the worst, though I have to admit I must have slept through all the turmoil. When I took Dino out this morning I noticed that the slat in the corner of the fence -- that allows the neighbor's dogs to come into our yard -- was again down . . . then I noticed that whole sections of the fence that we share with that neighbor were down . . . then I noticed most of their back fence was completely blown down . . .

Today after the rains stopped and the sun came out it was beautiful. Blue skies with the occasional puffy white cloud. It was hard to imagine that only a few hours earlier it had been so rainy. In the bottom left pic you can see one of the sections of the fence that came down. On the far right shows the elm tree that now is completely void of leaves -- inside Dino is sniffing a newly moved indoor plant . . .

But the pool looks great AND it is full, it came close to flood overflowing, I am not sure what I am supposed to do to keep it from doing that . . . we have spoken to the neighbors and they are graciously propping up some of the fence until we can negotiate to have a new one installed -- we already are working with our other neighbors to have that side fence replaced -- it is always something.

Our storm related problems are so minimal compared to the folks left with almost nothing from "Sandy" on the East Coast.

We took the break in the rain action to go look at the Russian River which is just a few blocks away and for awhile was threatening to climb past the flood levels -- but hasn't as yet. The river is really brown from the earth and debris in it and is moving really rapidly.

It may be hard to tell from the pictures but the current is moving a lot of "stuff" under the two bridges. It would be a foolish venture to take one of those "Kayak &/or Canoe Trips" as is done in the summer months. The bottom right pic is of the "beach" which is sprouting a heavy green growth. There were a lot of folks out surveying the conditions -- we walked across the bridge and got to feel the "shaking" as the cars drove by.

A Dog Break

Fortunately we did not have a puppy training session this week -- so I have some various photos that I gleaned from the web and one of Dino (in his Christmas attire). There are so many "cute" and "adorable"
puppy (and one kitty) photos to choose from.

This collage has a variety -- a GDB pup in a harness, four dogs celebrating a birthday -- with hats -- a large lap dog, Dino on a rainy day outing and a small top-hatted kitty taking it all in. The four pups at the bottom are from Disney's new movie "Paws 2" . . . beautiful . . .

A Slow Genealogy Week

Actually it wasn't that slow -- I had a lot going on with respect to family history work including two webinars. 
The first of which was on "The Four Major Resources" commonly used in researching family history. And the second one was on "Digital Imaging Elements" obviously about a subject that I am interested in -- digital photography and how to best deal with the huge amounts of pictures accumulating because of the digital camera. 

Both were sponsored by Legacy Family Tree, and were really well worth the time spent -- AND they were free in the "live" version. I learned a lot in both sessions.

But the big news that I can report -- came today -- about two or three weeks ago -- Gail sent in a sample of her DNA to be analyzed to Ancestry DNA:

Gail will be seeing this for the first time too as she reads this as the report popped into my email as I was writing this post. She'll see the genetic ethnicity chart and the map showing the distribution of some of her ancestors.

The most fun will come as she explores the "matches" to her DNA from other Ancestry members and hopefully an expansion of her known family tree . . .

As a matter of fact as I was writing this I received a notice from Ancestry DNA that they have more matches that just came in for my DNA -- so I have to check those out to see if I can determine how they might be related:

As you can see there are 58 more leads for me to check out -- you just never know who you'll find . . .

Who is Olaf Johnson (and what is he doing in my/our tree?)

Well, the short answer is -- he is a cousin about whom I am trying to learn more about. When I was growing up I remember my Mother when she was in a whimsical mood, singing the song that had a phrase that went like -- "my name is Yahn Yahnson I come from Visconsin and I work for the CB&Q, I sit on the steeple and
spit on the people, cause that's all I have to do . . ."

Well it turns out that Olaf's Father's name was John -- but because of the Scandinavian naming convention I had his last name as "Larson" -- thus Olaf the son of John became Olaf Johnson, just as John was probably the son of Lars . . . it is so confusing.

Above -- click on it to enlarge -- is Olaf and his parents, Carrie & John (either Larson or Johnson). Olaf is my first cousin two times (generations) removed. He lived from 1892 to 1962 and I am working on learning more about him and his family.

So that is a bit of our week -- we had turkey leftover dinners and lunches up through and including Thursday of this week. They were so good -- turkey paninis, great! Tonight we are having a pork tenderloin along with  twice baked potatoes and vegetables. Last night we enjoyed our traditional "burger Saturday night".

Enjoy your week, see you in a few!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turkey & a bit Christmas in Healdsburg

I hope that your Thanksgiving Holiday was as enjoyable as the one we had . . . we even had a full "leftover" dinner with Turkey and all the trimmings as well. This week was all about a "holiday" feeling for us. The weather too played a major role in that. We had stormy, rainy weather up until Thanksgiving Day and then  we had summery sunshine  . . . even thought about air conditioning turning the thermostat down a bit . . .

But no matter the temperature -- it is definitely FALL:

And you can see what has fallen. Even though we removed a couple of the biggest offenders, we have plenty of multi-colored leaves to go around. Thankfully it is not nearly like the leaves we dealt with at our previous home -- 10-12 mature oaks, three very large liquid ambers and a variety of smaller trees.

Dino again waits patiently while I photograph -- and then sweep up the latest supply.

Dino's Week at GDB Training

Dino turned 14 months old this week and when we went to training we were hoping NOT to hear that he would be recalled soon. I received an email from the family raising one of Dino's litter mates (Darlo) up in Washington State and Darlo is being recalled on December 9th for advanced training. Another sibling (Desiree), also up in Washington State is being recalled in early January . . .

Above you can see many of the puppies in various exercises and poses including Dino exhausted in the bottom right. Gail & I are in our yellow rain jackets as it had been storming most of the day. BUT a bit of sunshine for us as well as we were told that Dino probably would not be recalled in December, though circumstances could change . . . 

Two Newsworthy Items

Fortunately we have a break in the local disaster news in our country, enough so that a couple of other stories caught our interest:

The first article is a refreshing story about a woman and her prized automobile -- a 1930 Packard 740 roadster -- she bought it in the 1940s and fixed it up and has been driving it ever since. According to the article in she has had her driver's license for 90 years (got it when she was 12).

She doesn't drive it everyday but she definitely still drives it on a regular basis AND even changes the oil herself . . . she's 32 years older than me, it's hard to imagine.

The second article -- entitled "Road to Progress" is also hard to imagine, but in a different sense. I would have thought that in a country like China, this is not something that would be allowed to happen. An entire freeway like road is all but finished but the above occupied home remains.

There might be some positives for the stubborn owner like, no raking of leaves, they would all be blown away by passing vehicles (if they had any trees . . .).  Then there is the convenience of merging into traffic as soon as you left home. I have a hard time wondering what will come of this -- time will tell.

Our "Leftover" Dinner & activities

We always cook our own turkey even if going out for Thanksgiving. This year was no different. I have heard that many other families (like my Sister's) do the same thing. There is nothing quite like having turkey and all the trimmings for a few meals after the main event -- typically we only have a turkey once or twice a year.

Above are some of the "fixins" for a great four-day Holiday. It all centers around "the bird" and this year for a variety of reasons the bird was roasted in pieces. We cut up the turkey and cooked the dark meat separately from the white meat. As a matter of fact I removed the bones from the breast and rolled it with some ground pork and some stuffing and roasted that in the Ninja. All came out really tasty and was so easy to carve at the table . . .

The other activities included lots of football this year along with a piano recital from Gail and her ever-present needle-pointing work. It was and IS a great four days -- but tomorrow it is back to the grind . . . for some of us anyway.

Blackened Friday

In days years gone past I (not so much Gail) might have been tempted to venture out to the major retailing locations on "black" Friday -- but not this year, nor even last year. But we did have an absolutely great time in our local "downtown" events-filled afternoon. We walked to town along with Dino and joined the festivities while it was still sunny and returned home in the moonlight.

Above are some of the captured storefronts, walkways and "things" going on for the day. Besides the horse-drawn carriages there were musicians on the street, cheerleaders, all kinds of people and of course the tree lighting AND Santa. 

It felt magical in a way that is hard to put into words. As the evening darkness came on and the interior lights shown more -- since we are a town of a "few" wine-tasting spots, the festive atmosphere grew as we walked around. Dino got tons of attention as he proudly wore his new holiday neckware. 

Walking back home we spotted a huge tree with the moon rising just above it and we were accompanied by many other families coming into and leaving also . . .

Status of Genealogy Work

This week as I often do, I have spent most of my "family history" work on researching another family's tree. So I do not have much to report on for our tree. There is a benefit in working on someone else's tree besides the obvious appreciation,  there is always the possibility that I'll discover other ways of researching and this week that is also true.

While looking for an old business that someone on the other tree used to own and operate I discovered a really fun and interesting site:

I found the photos to be "haunting" in a way. Probably all of us have seen these images whenever we travel to various cities and locales. I was just struck by the feeling that I got when I looked at and imagined what the businesses used to be like -- in their "hayday" so to speak . . .

You can check out the site as well:    Abandoned Businesses  and they have a huge variety of interesting displays as well.

That was a bit of our week -- we took a break from turkey and had our traditional "burger Saturday Night" last night -- tonight it is turkey again -- we love it!

Have a good week, see you in a few!  Happy Cyber Monday and 30 shopping days remain . . .

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Twinkle Twinkle Twinkie -- Brunch

We have had a few inches of rain this week and are expecting more in the coming week. Supposedly Thanksgiving Day may be spared. In a way it's like life in the Northwest, you just deal with it and try
not to let the rain impact everyday activities.

Speaking of activities we were treated today to a brunch at the home of my brother and his wife. It was a very enjoyable occasion along with a very tasty assortment of goodies.

It was a nice chance to get-together before the main events of the coming week -- Ian and daughter Kate were down from Oregon and it was a pleasant chance to visit. Kate is quite the young lady and impressed us all with her at least four ward-robe changes within the couple of hours that we were there.

In addition we enjoyed the food without the preparations aspect allowing us to eat a small lunch later in the day so as to not interfere with dinner . . .

A Sad Sad Event

It seems that we the public for the most part were kept out of the loop until the fateful day, Friday the 16th.
I had no idea of the struggle going on behind the scenes at Hostess Brands -- makers of several food items that kids of my generation were raised with . . . the two items that I recall the most are Twinkies and of course Wonder Bread -- icons of our era . . .

Twinkies came into being in 1930 and have continued successfully through to the 16th of Nov 2012. I remember carrying a sack lunch to school and really being lifted in spirit if when I opened that bag at lunchtime -- it contained a Twinkie. I loved the light cake and the creamy insides and never ever got tired of them. I have not had a Twinkie now in years but wouldn't mind enjoying one "for old time's sake" . . .

Going through the "images" section of Google there are pages and pages of Twinkie related photos and each
one has a message. It is like "White Castles" though, if you don't have a history of enjoying them how could you relate to the passing of the brand. There's no message about White Castles, is there.

Dino's Week

Dino has not experienced a lot of rainy days in his almost 14 months. But this week has put a damper on enjoying the outside -- so how does he handle it all -- pretty much the way he handles football as evidenced by his demeanor during a recent Bears game . . .

Dino, in one of his four beds totally relaxed while the rain came down and so did the Bears -- actually along with their quarterback. Dino pretty much blocks out all noise and distractions while he naps except if you make a noise that indicates that you may be changing room locations or going outside at which point he is "right there" ready to go.

I feel bad sometimes when he is asleep peacefully and I get up to get more coffee or something and he feels obligated to get up too . . .

While we did not have a "puppy training session" this week we did take Dino out to many stores and other places of business. Next week we will also have a GDB training session at the 4-H center.

On This Date 158 Years Ago -- From Our Tree

So many stories stem from the Gillett side of our tree and today would be the 158th anniversary of the marriage of Cyrus Gillett and Sarah Norris. The wedding took place in Viroqua, Wisconsin where the local cemetery houses several of our ancestors.

Interestingly too is that one child of that marriage -- James Norris Gillett -- became the 22nd Governor of the State of California and served from 1907 to 1911.

If you click on the above you can see the "B" that indicates just where Viroqua is -- and the other interesting fact is that my nephew Jeremy and his family live there today. Jeremy would be the 4th Great Nephew of Cyrus Gillett.

The tree structure shows those relationships -- I wish that I had pictures for all the participants. Another interesting fact about Viroqua and Jeremy is that he moved there because his wife was from there and he did not know before that, that he had ancestors that had lived there before him.

Also From our Tree

My Grand Niece, Olivia, was featured in the local paper a week ago as a standout tennis player on the Healdsburg High School Team. As you can see Olivia is a Senior and is in the throes of working through selecting the college where she hopes to attend next year -- my how time flies . . .

The process of selecting the school for her higher education is a lot different than when I went through the process -- and the expenses associated with the education has changed dramatically.

Happy Holidays 2012

There is about 37 days until Christmas and only 4 days til Thanksgiving. These days go so fast and once Thanksgiving is here it seems like immediately it is Christmas . . . 

Growing up the days seemed to drag by til Christmas. But I sure do remember the great Thanksgiving Holidays that we spent at my maternal grandparents house in Chicago -- Dayton & Hildred. The aroma of the cooking bird and the occasional peek at it's progress was really special. Mamie did most of the original cooking along with help from her daughters. Grandpa B was in charge of carving the bird and then later after several games of "rotation" at the downstairs pool table -- Grandpa B carved enough turkey to make into delicious sandwiches . . . those were the days.

Even though these days we are "going out" for Thanksgiving dinner, we roast a turkey so that we can enjoy turkey and turkey sandwiches in the coming days. This year it is a little different -- because our oven has gone the way of the Twinkie, we will roast our turkey in pieces. 

I  will use my old meatcutting skills to cut the turkey into pieces including a boneless breast that will be rolled with stuffing and sausage inside. We then will roast the legs, thighs and wings for other meals including soup and sandwiches. All in all the bird will provide several meals for which we are thankful.

Last Minute Update . . .

Unbelievably while checking -- one more time -- e-Bay has some very interesting activity as does the news.
First the news -- Hostess Brands may sell the Twinkie Brand and another baker may take it over and produce Twinkies -- thank goodness . . . 

A brand like Twinkies should not just disappear as long as there are folks that want to purchase the product -- in other words, the demand is still there for Twinkies.

Check out two of the "offers" I just spotted on e-Bay:

It may seem that we have lost perspective on the value of things . . . the first ad is offering Twinkies at $1000 per Twinkie . . . the second ad, I'm not sure how much the asking price is per Twinkie since there is no quantitiy specified. But I wonder if they'd come down to maybe $9,000,000 . . .

Have a Great Thanksgiving !! See you in a few . . .

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Chicken in the Pot/Frost in Healdsburg

We're sorry about the weather conditions in other parts of the country and can only hope that relief is bringing some comfort. The climate here is one of change as well but summer still reluctantly hangs in there. We have had temperature changes of 30 or more degrees in the matter of just a few days. We have had sun and rain and now some near freezing evenings and mornings.

The other morning after taking Dino out early -- and I nearly took a header on the back deck due to icy conditions -- I snapped a few pics. The bottom right was the eerie fog rising from the grounds by the school. In the front was frost on the yard with Dino and a crow perched across the street watching my every move.

The last few days of this week have been sunny but colder than we have been having -- so the use of some heat is making it comfortable -- I can only imagine and actually recall the times when we too lost power and had no heat and lights . . . awful times.

This Week's Big Event

Certainly around here and I'm sure in most cities and towns in the U.S. the event of the week was the election. First of all and most of all we are really glad that it is over. I can only imagine what the candidates feel. We took Dino and the three of us strolled around the block to our polling place. We had to stand in line for about five minutes before a "booth" came open. I can't imagine what it would be like to stand in line for several hours as we heard many folks did.

Eighty-four years ago in another election the campaign slogan for one political party was " a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage". Well in honor of that we took advantage of the cold weather and our new "Ninja" pot and did exercise our choice of a chicken in our new pot.  It actually turned our really well. The pot we got (about a week ago) and have used it 5 or 6 times already and it has really performed well.

Our kitchen -- which is soon to be updated -- has an oven that is not really functional any more and a stove that never stops "clicking" when being used. So the Ninja has allowed us to enjoy roasted, baked and even fried things (quietly) -- we like it a lot.

Now back to the election -- Florida finally completed counting almost all of it's ballots -- I am sure glad that the results there did not matter as the Presidential results were already assured. We all remember the 2000 year election and the delays and controversy at that time.

Some Local Color

I couldn't resist going around the back yard a bit this morning and include some photos of the -- maybe last remaining "color" for the season. Dino knows that when I grab my camera that sometimes he gets to go with and this time he did. 

So, I included a head shot of Dino as I took the photos. The colors are amazing and vibrant. Each week though the plants are trimmed back for the season -- and this week they did survive the frost.

Armistice Day

That is what we grew up calling this day. It was a day of remembrance for the cessation of hostilities during WWI and that occurred on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour maybe even the 11th minute . . . in 1918.

WWI had 20 million deaths associated with it and there are folks who are still observing that. Sometime after  WWII this day started to be called Veterans Day and it continues to be so . . . 

This morning while preparing to write this post I received an email from Gary -- who is in one of our family branches in this tree (married to Gail's sister) and I appreciated the sentiment and include it here:

I added the top part as a "salute" to our many branches of the military -- I hope I found them all . . .

Gary and his wife Laurii live in the shadow of those "Sawtooth" Mountains pictured above in Idaho. Gary is a veteran, his daughter was a Navy Pilot and later in the Marines and they currently have their son-in-law serving in Afghanistan (a Marine Pilot).

We thank the Gadwas and all other veterans for serving the country.

Dino's Week -- Guide Dogs for the Blind

Just two weeks ago we had GDB training associated with the sights and sounds of Halloween. Time moves fast -- we had a training session in one of the malls not-too-far from us -- in Santa Rosa, at the Coddingtown Mall which is being upgraded (it needed it).

We spent our training going through stores, walking up and down stairways (escalators are not allowed) and basically exposing the pups to the activities and sounds in the mall. Now there are Christmas sounds permeating the stores and mostly Christmas displays everywhere. It used to be the unwritten rule that Christmas merchandising was to start after Thanksgiving -- not any more.

By the way Thanksgiving is 11 days away and Christmas is 45 days away . . .

Speaking of the Holidays . . .

While continuing to go through old photos, I thought that I would include one of my family from 56 years ago (1956) and this one was taken on Christmas Day that year. 

It shows better in black & white though I do have a color copy. The color processing in those days was so vibrant that it distorted some of the appearances. 

This was taken at our house in Hinsdale, Illinois and includes (from the left) my father holding my cousin Scott Bumgardner, Bill and my sister Marilee, my Mother with my younger brother Jon seated, my maternal Grandfather, Dayton, me, Aunt Mary Bumgardner with cousin Bruce Bumgardner and Mamie Bumgardner, my maternal Grandmother -- I assume that the picture was taken by my Uncle Stewart Bumgardner.

We rarely have that many relatives available at any one moment for pictures . . .

And Lastly . . .

One site that I receive "notices" from is and I thought today's notice was interesting.
During the recent World Series we sure noticed the different renditions of "God Bless America" and I was not aware of how it all came about . . .

So 74 years ago today was the first time that it was sung publicly -- and it was sung by one of my Mother's favorite singers -- Kate Smith. I remember watching the "Kate Smith Show" with my Mother during that time period . . .

So that was part of our week. We did have burgers and sweet potato fries last night. Tonight we are going to have "pork chops Provencal" and prepared  using the Ninja . . .

See you in a few!