Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Supper with Friends - Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016

Around 9am, Bob went on a four-mile run, his first run since the Honolulu Marathon. He was very proud that he ran the whole way and felt great. He will now be training for the Austin Marathon on February 19.

Christmas morning, 11am: We packed up the wild rice stuffing, mashed yams, a bottle of Moscato, and a bottle of port wine. From the RV park to Susan and Darren's home is a half-hour drive. The weather outside was delightful (not frightful) at 79 degrees. 

When we arrived, after saying our "Merry Christmases" to Susan, Darren, and their son, Kyle, I helped Susan in the kitchen. Our main dish was Sole Thermidor. Susan was rolling up the sole, readying it for the oven. 

Once the fish was in the oven, I made the thermidor sauce, which is similar to a cheese sauce on macaroni and cheese. After the fish cooked for 25 minutes, the thermidor sauce was poured on top and then the pan was placed under the broiler for 1 minute.

Dinner was served. Besides the sole thermidor, we had wild rice stuffing, mashed yams, fresh red and green grapes, bread with honey butter, and wine or beer.

Kyle and Darren loading up their plates

Sole Thermidor (lower left), grapes,
mashed yams, wild rice stuffing, bread

Bob and Susan M. ready to eat

Darren and Bob
We had a lovely meal. The Sole Thermidor was excellent. The fish was cooked to perfection. The wild rice and yams blended perfectly with the fish. 

For dessert, Susan put out Pirouette wafers and homemade cinnamon cookies with icing. Very tasty. 
This was the first time in 20 years that Susan and Darren have been home for Christmas. Normally they go to see their family in Ohio. Thank you, Susan and Darren, for inviting us to your home for Christmas. We feel honored. 

After dinner, we sat on the couch and everyone watched sports, except me. I read a National Geographic magazine, napped, drank some port wine, and then read Entertainment Weekly. I love catching up on naps and reading while others are watching sports.

Games they watched included Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, and San Antonio Spurs vs. Chicago Bulls. Everyone was happy with the outcome of both games: The Spurs and the Cavaliers won.

Christmas Day was just right...time well spent socializing with friends.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Christmas Onion: A Parable - Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016

It all started last night with Bob's birthday spaghetti dinner. My work day was very busy and I left the office about 2:40 pm. 

When it came time to make spaghetti, I was carefully considering the quantities of different ingredients. I had 3-4 pounds of ground turkey and a huge onion. I could have put in half the onion, but decided to use the whole thing in the spaghetti.

The spaghetti turned out great. We also had steamed red cabbage and garlic toast.

Fast forward to this morning, 8 am. I'm getting ready to make wild rice stuffing. The recipe is on my computer, saved from when I made it for Thanksgiving dinner. I re-read the ingredient list and there it was: one cup of onions.

Aaaackk! I used up my onion last night.

Christmas morning
Before showering, with my hair all a mess, I hope above hope that Walmart is open this morning. Driving the mile and a half down the street, I see maybe ten cars out. 

The Walmart parking lot comes into view. Not a single car in the lot. I drove past the doors hoping, maybe, that they're open. It was a false hope.

Across the street was a 7-11 at the gas station. Long shot that they'd have an onion, but I gave it a try anyway. The clerk looked at me like I was nuts when I asked her if they had any onions. No, definitely not.

Strike two. What to do? What to do?

Then I remembered driving past a small Mexican restaurant, Las Palmas, that was open. I parked, went inside and sheepishly asked if they had an onion they could sell to me.

Photo taken the evening of Jan. 5, 2017
when we went there for dinner.
The first young lady, Linda, didn't know what to say. She asked someone else. 

I explained to Brenda that I needed to make stuffing, but I didn't have any onions left at home. I wondered if I could purchase an onion from them.

Brenda went to the back of the restaurant and came out with an onion. I asked her, "How much?" She said, "No charge. Merry Christmas." I am so thankful!

What a sweetheart! She made my day. 

We had been there for dinner once before. Now we will be returning more frequently. 

My wild rice stuffing turned out great. 

Lessons learned:
  • Recheck your recipe for ingredients needed the day before a holiday
  • Don't give up after two strikes.
  • Think outside the box...stores.
  • Don't assume someone won't help you.
  • If you have a chance, repay the favor to someone else. (Pay it forward.)
  • Treat other people the way you would like to be treated.  
  • Give thanks when someone goes out of their way to help you.
  • Spread the word about a good deed.
  • Give your business, and refer others, to businesses that help people. 
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

We Got Caught on a Christmas Lights Walk - Sat., Dec. 17, 2016

Last Saturday night Susan Medlin and I went to see the Christmas lights and luminarias along the San Antonio River Walk. Bob planned to go with us, but he developed gout in his foot the week before and it hurt too much to go. He did, however, have dinner with us at The Luxury before we started walking.

Our walk started on the veranda here
This Volksmarch had been postponed two weeks because when it was first scheduled the weather was cold, rainy and windy. Only about two dozen people showed up. So they rescheduled the walk.

The temperature this evening was about 74 degrees and muggy when we started the walk. Overnight a cold front was supposed to come in about 11 pm. By the time we finished dinner and started our 10k walk it was 8 pm. 

We love this night-time walk with so many beautiful decorations. Here we go...

Santa lights on shore, reflected in the river
The light show on the Museum Reach of the River Walk is called "River of Lights."

Lots of lights in the water along here.
Lit up fish under I-35.

Beautiful lighting at The Pearl
The Pearl

Passing by the San Antonio Museum of Art, we were impressed by the lights projected onto the museum's outside wall.

San Antonio Museum of Art
Elves peered out from behind trees.

Lights on the lockx

Susan M. reaching for a shooting star

More stars

Year-round mural on the side of El Tropicano Hotel

The temperature on the first part of our walk was so pleasant. I was dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and a very light windbreaker. After dinner we mentioned we'd be eating ice cream when we got downtown. 

Mother Nature had other plans. By the time we made it into downtown at Main Plaza in front of San Fernando Cathedral, the wind picked up. It was a cold wind! We thought we should speed up a bit. Wind was howling down the River Walk "canyons" directly head on. The lightweight windbreaker I borrowed from Bob did not do any good at keeping the piercing wind at bay.

By the time we had moseyed around San Fernando Cathedral, the wind was getting colder and stronger. Eating an ice cream cone was no longer viable. We hurried back to Susan's car at the VFW Post where we had started. Brr. We definitely got caught in that temperature drop. It had gone from 74 to 44 degrees in three hours. With wind chill taken into consideration, the temperature was 33!!

But we survived to walk another day (or night). Susan gave me a ride home. It was 10:30 pm. 

Merry Christmas to you all, good will, and peace on earth. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bob's Running the Honolulu Marathon Sunday - Sat., Dec. 10, 2016

Bob's already asleep and has the alarm set for 3:30 am. Our hotel is directly across the street from the shuttle buses to the marathon start point. Bob and his Hawaiian running buddy, Mike, plan to start running at 5:00 am with 30,000 other marathoners. You do realize 30,000 people is a pretty good-sized city in and of itself. That's a lot of runners!
All of Bob's gear is laid out for morning
Go, Bob, go! Bob and Mike plan to walk a lot of the route. It depends on how Mike's plantar fasciitis is doing. Bob hopes they finish by 11 am because that's when rain is forecast to come in. 

If you want to track Bob's progress and see how he's doing,  go to Athlete Tracking - Honolulu Marathon  ( and enter his bib number: 11742. Right now it's about 72 degrees with 87% humidity in Waikiki, so they could have a cool morning for the race.

Yesterday, I went with Bob to the Honolulu Convention Center where he picked up his race packet. We walked the convention floor and looked at all the products. Bob bought his marathon shirt there. It's a gorgeous shirt this year.

Antherium and red torch ginger
Bob picking up his packet

Hawaiian quilts
After the Expo, we went to a pre-race, carbo-load dinner at Buca di Beppo Italian Restaurant with 80+ running friends, some from Hawaii and some from the Mainland.
Bob's running buddy, Mike, and
his wife, Rosemary
Buca di Beppo's decor is "fill the walls and every nook, cranny and alcove" with as much memorabilia as possible. Somehow it works. You always find something new to read or look at.

Mike, Lisa and Rosemary
Nelly, another running friend, and Mike

Nelly and Mike
Group photo

Another group photo
Best of luck to all the runners in the marathon on Sunday! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Accidents Happen to All of Us - Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016

While Bob and I were seeing "Moana" on Monday I had my phone on silent. When we returned to our room, I set my phone back to ring and I noticed my sister had tried to call twice. My sister rarely calls, so I wondered if something had happened to Mom. I called her back and she told me Mom had fallen in her living room. 

Apparently Mom got up from her computer and then fell on her side onto the carpet. She was pretty shaken up and gave herself a few minutes to calm down. When she tried to move she had excruciating pain in her hip. She couldn't sit or stand and the home phone was on a tray table a few feet from her. She knocked over the table and the phone fell on the floor. She was able to grab the cord and pull the phone to her. It's a good thing it wasn't a cordless phone!

My sister lives about 20 minutes away, so she called Mom's neighbors and a couple of her church friends who were close by. They went to Mom's house, but every door and window were locked and they couldn't get in. When my sister arrived she let them in. They called an ambulance and Mom was transported to the hospital. The ambulance personnel and the emergency personnel were all amazed by how healthy Mom is for an 86 year old. 

After taking x-rays, it was established she had a small fracture in her hip bone. The decision was made to operate on Tuesday morning.

This morning at 9 am, Mom was prepped for surgery and then taken to the operating room at 10:30 am. Her surgery lasted an hour.

Frank, my brother, sent a photo of the surgery they performed...insertion of a long pin and then a plate and screws to stabilize the hip so it can heal.

When I called Mom this afternoon, she was in good spirits and related everything that happened since she fell, including being asked many times by hospital staff for her name and birth date. My son, Michael, was there and my brother, Frank, and sister, Janyce, were on the way. 

Mom will do well as she's a very determined lady. Her hospital stay is expected to be 3-4 days. Then she will be in a rehab center for physical therapy for about a week. We're not sure yet what going home will look like for her. She won't be able to drive for a while and she doesn't have a walk-in shower. That is all to be worked out as we go along. 

Mom, we love you and are happy your surgery went well. With your positive mental attitude, healthy body, and can-do work ethic, we know you will shine in your physical therapy treatments. Let us know what we can do to help out.

Bob and I want to say a special thanks to my sister, Jan, for taking care of everything. She is a real blessing. We are very impressed with her for using resources at her disposal to make things work. 

We'd also like to thank the rest of my family and friends and neighbors who are doing what they can to assist and visiting with Mom. I know it means a lot to Mom, and to Bob and I, who aren't nearby.

Thank you also for your kind thoughts and prayers. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Rain, Cattle Ranching and Snow - Thurs., Dec. 1, 2016, Part 2

With the seahorse farm in the rear-view mirror, we headed north on The Big Island, past Kona International Airport and the big resorts of Waikoloa Beach Resort, Mauna Lani Resort, The Fairmont Orchid, and Mauna Kea Beach Resort. It was pouring rain on most of the rest of the island, but we thought if we headed north, we would be in the drier area of Kohala. 

If it wasn't raining, our plan would be to see Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site at Kawaihae. If it was raining, we would head upcountry to Parker Ranch. 

Well, it was windy and rainy when we arrived in Kawaihae. Hunger dictated lunchtime. We thought we remembered a good restaurant in a small shopping mall. When we got to the mall, the whole lower level was closed. We drove to the upper level and found one restaurant, Cafe Pesto, out of business. In the middle of the strip mall was a hole-in-the-wall place with very limited seating called Kohala Burgers and Tacos. The line was long inside with almost nowhere left to sit. This looked like the place to be.

Decor at Kohala Burgers and Tacos
Kohala Burgers and Tacos
Both of us ordered yellowfin tuna fish sandwiches, root beer, and a small order of fries to share. We took the last table for two and in a few minutes our order was out. Both of us bit into our fish sandwiches and the "yums" kept coming out of our mouths. Best. Fish. Sandwiches. Ever. The fish was baked or grilled, not deep fried, and was moist and flaky. As we say in Hawaii, the sandwiches were "ono" (the best).

As we were leaving, the couple from the table next to us told us they drove all the way from Kona (an hour south) to have the burgers and they loved them. The couple was visiting Hawaii from Australia.

From Kawaihae, we drove up country to Parker Ranch. Rain poured on us and the wind was fierce. 

Parker Ranch is a very interesting place. At one time the ranch was the largest single-owned ranch in the United States. Today, it is the fifth largest in the U.S. 

How did Hawaii, out in the middle of the ocean, come to have the largest cattle ranch in the U.S., you might ask? Here's the story from the "Parker Ranch Self-Guided Tour" brochure:
"In 1809, an enterprising young ship's clerk, John Palmer Parker, arrived on the shores of the Big Island. At that time, Hawai'i had few foreign settlers, but Parker had had enough of the open seas. He hid in a thicket, and watched as his ship sailed away without him. He was 19 years old.
"Befriended by Kamehameha I, who was impressed with his energy and vision, he set out to make the most of his remarkable new home. He learned the Hawaiian language and adopted many of the Hawaiian ways, continuing to look for opportunities along the way.
"In 1815 he found his first opportunity. Maverick cattle roamed the cool upper plains of Waimea. These were the descendants of the five head given to Kamehameha by Captain George Vancouver more than 20 years before. After showing Kamehameha his American musket, he was granted the right to hunt the herds which had always been kapu [forbidden]. The beef, tallow and hides, along with the taro and fresh vegetables grown on his small parcel of land in Hamakua, became sought-after commodities to both visiting ships and locals.
"In 1816 he married Kipikane, granddaughter of Kamehameha, and together they founded the Parker Ranch dynasty."
While at the ranch, we toured two historic homes, Puuopelu and Mana Hale, part of the estate of the legendary Parker family of Hawai'i. Puuopelu is the larger home which houses the collection of Richard Palmer Parker Smart, 6th generation Parker. Richard Smart traveled the world and had items shipped to Hawai'i to be installed at Puuopelu. Puuopelu has a great room with fireplace, living room, dining room, and bathroom. No photos are allowed in the big house.
Mana Hale is the smaller home where they lived. The interior of the home is native koa wood. The first floor of the home consisted of a main room, bedroom and side room; the upstairs had a second bedroom and two sitting rooms. In keeping with the old ways, all cooking and toiletries were done outside the house. 
Mana Hale Main Room
First floor bedroom

Second floor sitting room
Upstairs bedroom

Second sitting room
The whole time we were in Mana Hale, the wind was howling outside. By the time we went back out it had stopped raining so we walked around the grounds.

The sky had cleared enough to see Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa which were now capped in snow!
Mauna Kea with snow
The snow-covered top of Mauna Loa

Richard Smart's mausoleum
This 150-ft. tall Cook Pine was
planted in 1862

Water lilies in bloom
Another shot of Mauna Kea's snow

Love the stormy cloud formation above Mana Hale

The lush green hills around Parker Ranch
Parker Ranch is now about 130,000 acres, down from its all-time high of 500,000 acres. The ranch owns about 150,000 head of cattle, made up of Angus and Charolais. There is also a commercial (cross-bred) herd of approximately 9,000 breeding cows.

Most of the 125 horses on the ranch are Quarter horses. They are all bred and raised on the ranch and selected for good temperament, cow sense, and ranch usability. The 12 paniolo (cowboys) each have eight horses assigned to them, and each individual must shoe and care for his animals. 

Tunnel of trees to get to Parker Ranch HQ

Verdant hills of up country Big Island
Part of Parker Ranch's paddocks

 Historic markers about Parker Ranch and Camp Tarawa are below.

After touring Parker Ranch, we went to the grocery store in Waimea to buy snacks for the ride home. Inside the common area at the strip mall we found interesting things...
Stained glass

Paniolo sculpture
In the small stream behind the strip mall, we could see how much rain had fallen by how swollen the creek had become.

Below is a commemorative boot celebrating the centennial of four Waimea paniolo who reigned as World Champion Steer Ropers in 1908 at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Wyoming.

This concluded our visit to Parker Ranch and Waimea. It took us almost two hours to drive back to Kailua-Kona. When we returned, we stopped to have dinner at Royal Thai Cafe, just up the hill from the Kona Coast Resort. 

After dinner, we headed to the timeshare. From 7-9 pm, I watched Project Runway. It was nice to relax after a long day!

Good night.