Saturday, December 31, 2005

Holiday Sounds in Washington

Cough, Cough. Hack, Hack. Sneeze. Ugh. Unmentional noise. Hack, Cough. Wheeze. I'm not hungry. Yawn, hack, cough, sneeze. Crash.

Translation: Kerry and I got this terrible flu and cold bug. I got it first the day after Christmas. He followed quickly. What followed all that are some lost days of sleeping and more sleeping. He developed a temperature of 102.8 so went to urgent care and is now on antibiotics. When we left yesterday his sister was making all the same noises. Her husband, Gary, is probably not far behind.

The crash was the sound of Mark's Amtrak train to Seattle hitting a car at a crossing grade. No one was hurt but he had to be resourceful to make sure he got to the airport in time for his flight back to Albuquerque. Being the resourceful sort, he made it.

Once again Kerry and I have slept most of the day. We just ate his homemade macaroni and cheese. There is nothing like comfort food when you are sick. "Sleepless in Seattle" is on. Sounds like a good movie to sleep through. Good night and Happy New Year to you all.

Almost forgot. The photo is the kitchen table at Susan and Gary's house in Washington. It's covered with all the Christmas sweets that have tempted me in the past. Susan replenishes it whenever dishes get low. When you are sick, even chocolate doesn't look good. The one dish I didn't photograph was the one holding her homemade carmels that are individually wrapped in waxed paper. We will save those for later.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas To All

We didn't get a big tree this year. Just decorated a small one and the fireplace mantel. Very nice at night with all the lights. I want to wish all who read this a very Merry Christmas. And for those who don't celebrate Christmas, may you have a wonderful holiday season. We are flying to Seattle around noon today and then drive north to Burlington, WA where Kerry's family lives. Mark joins us tomorrow for four days. This is his first time with Kerry's family in Washington. Everyone is very excited about his visit. I really appreciate the fact that he's coming there. Instead of bowling on New Year's Eve we will bowl on Wednesday night so Mark gets to experience the Hoop family bowling tournament. There will be 13 of us this year. That's a record number of bowlers. The only rule is that you can't practice between holiday games. We only know of two people who broke the rule. It didn't help their games. We are back late Friday night. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More Refrigerator Magnets

I experimented a bit with a new idea for a refrigerator magnet. The results are in the photo. I glued a variety of beads to the rounded surface and glued colored paper to the back. It's fun. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 15, 2005

More Socks

These pink beauties are my latest creation. I'm wearing them right now. The best part about knitting your own socks is you can make them the exact size you need. I have big feet so that is wonderful. I've already started my next pair. The colors are lime green, purple and yellow. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 12, 2005

Here's How I Give My Platelets Away

I had the phlebotomist (they draw blood for a living) take this picture today when I was donating platelets. The needle in my left arm delivers blood to the machine on the left. It filters out the platelets and plasma which are in the plastic bags hanging about the machine. Then the machine sends the blood back to my arm. The blood feels cool when it returns because it's been out of my body for a while. It took 70 minutes to fill those three bags. I read. You can also watch movies. This would be a great gift to give to someone. And I think it's the kind of gift that will make you feel good. They feed you afterward and give you all kinds of gifts when you reach certain milestones. In the summer we get coupons for free Baskin Robins ice cream. Give it a try. Platelets are only good for five days. They are in such demand that none is ever thrown away. I'll get off my soapbox now. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Spudding The New Well

The drilling rig pictured here arrived this afternoon. So far they are down 100 feet and have about 3-4 gallons of water per minute. They hit granite and will drill through it tomorrow to get a much better rate. The dowser was right. Amazing. Spudding does not refer to potatoes. It's a term used in the drilling business to denote the start of a new well. Posted by Picasa

All Roads Point To Yum Yum In Calexico

The sign on the corner leads you to Yum Yum. Very unassuming looking, but don't let looks fool you. There's a lot going on inside besides just eating. The Thunderbird parked in front belongs to Hildy. Posted by Picasa

Here's Hildy and Eddie at Yum Yum

Hildy Carrillo-Rivera, shown on the right, is the only reason I know about Yum Yum. She has been a wonderful friend and colleague. Eddie Rivera, her ex-husband who is pictured on the left, loves good red wine, especially La Creme. A trip to Imperial County means a trip to Yum Yum. Wonderful people. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Yum Yum's Owners

Louie and Christina Wong are the owners of Yum Yum. Wonderful people who give back constantly to the community. Louis usually stays late at the restaurant and Christina heads home to watch her Chinese soap operas. Louie has even been known to open the restaurant for us after Calexico events. Great couple

The Road to Yum Yum

Here's the Yum Yum sign on Imperial Avenue. The contrast between the Spanish sign and Yum Yum is one part I really like. The restaurant itself is back and to the right. That will be the next picture. If you are confused by this just read my earlier blog entry. Posted by Picasa

Yum Yum: An Institution Not Just A Restaurant

For the past few months I've been telling family and friends about a Chinese restaurant in Calexico, which is right on the Mexican border in Imperial County east of San Diego about two hours.

I finally decided that some pictures might best tell the story. The restaurant is Yum Yum. The owners are Louie and Christina Wong. If you sit in their restaurant almost any day of the week all the people you need to know in the area will wander through.

Yum Yum is more than a restaurant, it is an institution. I was introduced to Yum Yum by Hildy Carrillo-Rivera, executive director of the Calexico Chamber of Commerce. Dining there is wonderful for many reasons. First, the food and second the great red wines that diners bring to enjoy. Louie doesn't charge a corkage fee, which makes it even better. Hildy's ex-husband, Eddie Rivera (attorney and school board member) is a regular there too. He especially likes La Crema wines. I'm going to post a bunch of photos with captions so you can get to know Yum Yum and the people there too.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's Official, We Are Going To China

On March 2nd we leave on China Air from San Francisco Airport for 8 days and 7 nights in China. We will see the tip of the iceberg, but you have to start somehwere. Our first stop is Beijing and our last stop is Shanghai. The two cities in between I can't pronounce or spell. The cost is $1299 per person double occupancy. It includes round trip air fare, all hotels, two meals a day, sightseeing in busses with guides all eight days, and an in-country flight from Beijing to Shanghai. We are going with two other couples. We all are part of a tour planned by the Roseville Chamber of Commerce. $25 per person handles all the tips for the trip. One funny note, the trip coordinators advertise that we will stay in five star hotels in all but one city. In that city we stay at a Howard Johnson. I can't remember the last time I stayed at a Hojos. Any tips on China travel will be appreciated.

I'm off to Southern California for business for the next four days. Not the good part of Southern California. I'll be in Imperial County right on the Mexican border.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Meet Comet

She's 14 years old and has outlived two Golden Retrievers, Molly and Emily. She is very cuddly and skinny, which is unusual for cats. She only weighs 7.2 pounds. Most of my other cats have weighed in somewhere in the mid-teens. During the day she sleeps on top of my computer monitor. At night she sleeps with us. Usually in the morning she has more of my pillow than I do. She sits in the window of my office and watches the bird feeders. Her little jaw quietly snapping as she lusts after the birds. During the summer she chases and catches lizards. I've met quite a few of them in my office. She is a sweetheart. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Platelets...I Give Mine Away

For the twelfth time this year I donated platelets at the blood bank. Here's why. During my Enron days I was flush with cash and used it to support my favorite cause, a woman's right to choose, AKA Planned Parenthood. Those days came to an end rather abruptly and my monetary donations dwindled.

Then Kerry was diagnosed with a platelet disorder. His body sees them as the enemy and destroys them. Not good if you get cut or need surgery. Platelets stop you from bleeding to death. No it's not hemophilia. That's a genetic disorder. His is an auto-immune disorder. Don't know when it started but he has it, and the odds of it going away are not good. Once a quarter he is tested. His platelet count runs around 40,000-50,000. Normal is 250,000 to 400,00.

So combine the two things: my lack of money and his disease, and you come up with a way for me to make donations from my body without spending a dime. You can write off the mileage to the blood bank on your taxes. It's better for women to donate platelets than whole blood. When women donate whole blood it takes long time for our hematocrit (ratio of red blood cells to blood volume) to get back to 38. After I had donated blood a couple of times the blood bank suggested donating platelets as a way to be a regular donor. Platelets are used for people like Kerry, for burn victims and cancer patients.

Each time I go in I do a double, 2 pints. It take about 80 minutes. The machine that does it is very cool. First it takes some blood out, runs it through a filter and captures the platelets, then the blood is returned to my body. This goes on the entire time. When the blood goes back into your body it's been cooled just by being out of your body.

So far I've donated 6 gallons and 3 pints. They make a big deal out of the 6 gallons, but 10 gallons is even a bigger deal. The people at the blood bank are incredibly nice. You can watch a movie or read or whatever. Today I fell asleep, which is not good. You have to squeeze a rubber ball to keep the blood flowing. They watch you closely when you are doing this. All of a sudden today someone touched my hand containing the rubber ball. She then spent the next 30 minutes talking to me to make sure I didn't fall asleep again. I swear I was squeezing the ball. She seemed to know better. Once you finish donating then you go to the snack bar and have two cups of juice and a snack. Rehydrating is very important.

So, if you want to really help a lot of people, go to your nearest blood bank and be tested for your platelet level. If you have a lot, then start giving them away. My level is 350,000. Kerry had a platelet infusion when he first got his disorder. The cost was $48,000. So you can see that platelets are very valuable. You can give every three days as long as your hematocrit level stays above 38. I go in every two weeks.

Try it, you might feel really good afterward. I know I do. Plus you get to see what platelets look like.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

All He Wants For Xmas Is A Big Screen TV

Kerry is very worried that Santa won't bring him the big screen TV he wants. The one he's standing next to is at Dennis and Carole's in Naples. He really likes it. Posted by Picasa

Thanksgiving By The Pool In Naples

Yes, we had Thanksgiving dinner on the lanai right next to the pool in Naples where my cousin Dennis and his wife, Carole, have a winter home. We spent some lazy days reading and knitting by the pool, swimming in the pool and watching television by the pool. Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Greetings To You All

Here are the things I'm thankful for this day.

1. I'm in sunny Florida celebrating the day with my cousin Dennis and his wife Carole and Kerry.
2. My brother has a new job, a wonderful wife, great kids and stepkids and a spectacular house in the mountains outside Denver.
3. Mark was able to buy a house in Albuquerque.
4. The health of everyone in the family.
5. The birth of Grandbaby Max Cheng Christie on March 30, 2005.
6. My sister Vicky's new job in the Treasury Department
7. Celebrating my 60th birthday in Albuquerque with family and friends
8. Finally getting to see a performance by the Santa Fe Opera Company
9. The many trips I was able to make to visit my family in Minneapolis this year
10. The love and friendship of Kerry's family in Washington State: Susan and Gary, Marshall and Mary Susan, David and Summer and Joanne.
11. Emily, our beloved Golden Retriever, is no longer suffering with epilepsy. I do miss her terribly.
12. My business is thriving.
13. Kerry loves his art classes and is exploring his creative side by creating many beautiful things
14. Adopting Beverly and George (our friends in Albuquerque) into the family. They were at my birthday party and the Santa Fe Opera performance.
15. Living in the country where it's beautiful and quiet.
16. Most of all I'm thankful for the fact that I have Kerry in my life. In January we will celebrate 5 years together.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Winter Hat For Max

I finally mailed the hat to Max last week. When you live in Minneapolis you need a good way to keep your head warm. It didn't take long to knit. It's the first thing like this that I've done. Posted by Picasa

The Aroma of the Holidays

For me the smells of Christmas are as important as the people and the gifts. When the tree is in the house the scent is pine. It's subtle but it's there, especially when you come in from out of doors. Then there is the baking: rosettes fried in oil and dusted with powdered sugar, sugar cookies baking in the oven and the smell of lefse when you first open the package.

And of course you can't forget the smell of Thanksgiving. Those aromas start the night before with the browning of the onions and sausage. And Grandma Coakley's sweet potatoes have a heavenly scent. Three ingredients: sweet potatoes, brown sugar, butter. Her cooking was simple but delicious.

This year, however, I won't be able to smell these things, because last spring I lost my sense of smell. I had a bad cold that lasted forever. At some point I realized that I wasn't smelling things. I put my sniffer to the ultimate test and opened a bottle of nail polish remover. I couldn't smell a thing. For all I knew it could have been a chardonnay.

Now there are some upsides to this condition. I can't tell when the litter box needs emptying nor can I smell dead skunks on the road. The flip side is that I can't smell leaking gas or gasoline or smoke.

I thought about inquiring about a handicapped parking place but soon realized that my hampered sniffer didn't keep me from getting in and out of the car.

Food has lost some of its appeal. Taste comes from a combination of your taste buds and your sense of smell. Sometimes I forget and try to inhale the aroma of a wonderful zinfandel. That's a bummer. Doctor says it may or may not come back. I don't think about it much until someone around me says, "doesn't that smell good". Then I know I'm missing something. But in the grand scheme of things, a malfunctioning sniffer is not a big deal. Luckily I live with a wonderful man whose sniffer works just fine.

So don't take yours for granted. Spend a few more bucks and buy it the soft tissue.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Another Great Breakfast Place

Here's the other place we had breakfast. This is where they serve the "smashed" breakfast. I have my back to the camera. Kerry is to my right. Cassie is at the head of the table (Charlotte's daughter who lives in San Diego). To Cassie's left is Joy, her friend from high school who is going to medical school in Denver. Next to Joy is Nan, Charlotte's mother. Charlotte is on my left. The restaurant is small so they have this heated tent outdoors where large groups can eat. Posted by Picasa

Breakfast Is The Best Meal Of The Day

I've always been a fan of breakfast. Luckily the man with whom I live feels the same way. A good breakfast can carry you through to dinner. I've always wondered who invented lunch. Just doesn't appeal to me.

When we were in Evergreen visiting Richard and Charlotte we went to two great breakfast places. They like breakfast too. The first is the Wildflower Cafe, a little hole-in-the-wall in downtown Evergreen. I had a skillet breakfast there with the crispiest country fries I've ever had. On top of the fries they piled scrambled eggs, bacon, avocado, salsa and sour cream. Yum! The picture of Richard, Charlotte, Nan and Kerry is taken in front of the cafe.

The next morning we went to Kittredge and ate at a place whose name I can't remember. They are famous for their "smashed" breakfast. The base for the breakfast is homemade mashed potatoes where you can see little flecks of potato skin. For my breakfast they piled big chunks of cream cheese on the potatoes and then added bacon, scrambled eggs, spinach and finally hollandaise sauce. I ate about a fourth of it, took it back to the house where Kerry ate about half of what was left. It was still in the refrigerator when we left. I should have ordered the "half smashed".

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

It's Good to Be King

This is my brother Richard. He just got a new job as general counsel for Leprino Foods in Denver. They make mozzarella...lots of it. You can buy a 500 pound bag, but that's about the smallest amount. Anyway, when he got the job I sent him this crown, which I found in the Santa Fe Opera Gift Shop. He worked really hard for more than a year to find the right job. I thought he deserved a great gift. He does subscribe to the Mel Brooks line..."It's good to be King". Posted by Picasa

Politics Just Got Stranger

Our Life In The Country
Here's the rundown as I see it.
1. Arnold Schwartzenegger, who swooped into the governors office a year ago with some fresh, new ideas for a Republican, lost badly at the ballot box. He's a moderate who is pro-choice. He found out what everyone else in California already knew, the Democratically controlled legislature will continue to control the state, and he won't. All of the initiatives he put on the ballot failed. The election cost the state and counties $15 million. We already have a deficit. Nearly $320 million dollars was spent on campaigns for the propositions that lost. So, as usual, the firms managing campaigns and the lawyers will do well. The people of the state won't. Arnie will be history next year. His own party is already doubting his abilities. And Maria looked really pissed when she was listening to the speech her hubbie gave in L.A. last night when the vote wasn't going well.
2. New Jersey and Virginia (a red state) elected Democratic governors. In the case of Virginia, Bush came to the state to campaign for the Republican candidate the day before the election. The guy lost by a wider margin than expected. So much for riding the coat tails of the president.
3. Kansas voted to "question" the theory of evolution in its science curriculum. I don't think Dorothy would like Kansas today.
4. Texas voted against gay marriage.
5. Maine voted to ensure gay marriage.
6. And a Republican was re-elected Mayor of New York.
7. San Francisco approved a measure to not allow handguns. Today the NRA filed a lawsuit to overturn the measure. See, I told you, the lawyers always do well in these battles.

All in all yesterday was a weird day for this country. The coasts seem to understand what to do. It's that mid-section that worries me. I came from there. It's a good thing I got out when I did.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Different Kind of Fall Colors


At the same time the trees are turning, the hibiscus are blooming. Just another fall color in California. Quite a contrast to this past weekend in Evergreen, Colorado where it snowed Friday night and Saturday morning. Posted by Picasa

Fall Colors


When we left for Denver last Thursday, this tree still had green leaves. This morning I went out just to see what was happening on the property. I came upon this tree. The red is almost luminescent. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Minna's Refrigerator Magnets

Minna gave me the instructions on how to make these and then said "post them so I can see what you've done." So here they are. If you look closely at the bottom magnet you will see two people you know. She gave them as shower favors. I'm just having fun making them.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Richard Nixon In A New Body

As I've been reading the news lately I've seen some words appear that I hadn't heard in a while.


All are being used to describe actions taken by "W". Scooter goes with Watergate. Bork goes with Alito and Vietnam goes with Bush. Maybe Richard Nixon has been reborn, and he's moved into Bush's body. What a horrible thought.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Golf as a lesson in patience

Our Life In The Country

Finally played golf yesterday after a half-year hiatus. Because I'm so competitive, I was very nervous and worried that I would play terribly. Well I didn't play great but I also didn't play terribly. It was a hard course that I had never played before. The one thing I haven't lost during the six month hiatus was my ability to hit straight. I just marched down the middle of the fairway. Felt great. I had one great putt that was from the edge of the green to the cup about 30 feet away. Most of the front nine I two-putted. Back nine was a little more irregular but still had a lot of two putts. And I got par on a par three hole when everyone else didn't. All in all a good day. On the same day I golfed my brother Richard skied. See his blog for more details. I prefer my sport to his. I'll never be on the pro circuit but I have a good time when I'm out there.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Knit One, Purl Two....

I'm really in a knitting mode right now. It's a peaceful activity that's also creative. I'm just finishing a really cute hat for Max. I'm also knitting socks for me. I used to tackle these really huge projects, but now I like to do the smaller, more difficult things. Besides it's easier to knit something small on an airplane especially if you are in the middle seat. Here is one of the socks I've knit. I'm working on the other one.

Isn't He the Cutest Little Boy Ever!

This wonderful little boy is Max. He will be seven months old tomorrow, October 30th. Max is my sister Vicky's grand baby. The proud Grandpa is her husband Neil. That makes me his great aunt and he's my grand nephew. Mom and Dad are Mike and Minna. Great parents. I'm knitting a special winter hat for Max to keep him warm this winter.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Harriet Miers: Fawning Sycophant or victim of Bush's Ineptitude

It has taken me a while to decide how I feel about Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court. I've gone from outrage to indignation to actually feeling sorry for the woman. Don't get me wrong, I don't for one minute think she is a good candidate. But I do think she will end up another victim of Bush's ineptitude. Choosing her as his nominee casts a pall over all women. It brings back all those jokes about women that I had hoped were long gone. I even read one article that said she might be the first "virgin" on the Supreme Court, because she isn't married. No one made that comment about David Souter.

There are two very bright women on the Supreme Court right now. It is unfair for Bush to put someone like Miers in the same spotlight that those two women occupy. She is not of the same caliber and never will be. When she goes down in flames during her confirmation hearing, she will be another woman sacrificed to the male establishment.

For God's sake, Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harassment and he still won appointment to the court. I guess it's inevitable that there will always be different standards applied to men and women. If Thomas had turned out to be a brilliant justice who brought great thinking to the court it might excuse his earlier behavior (although I doubt it), but he falls into the same legal category as Miers; underqualified for the job. All in all, it's a sad day for women everywhere.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Here we are at one of the wineries with our friends Margo and Rick Glendenning. They are the wonderful people who found our house in Lincoln for us. If you ever need great real estate people, these two are it. And of course, the handsome man on the left is Kerry. A most wonderful man. Posted by Picasa

We spent Saturday wine tasting in El Dorado County, a new area for us. Most of the vineyards we visited are above 1500 feet which means the glassy winged sharpshooter can't live there. That little pest is destroying vineyards at lower levels. We had some incredible wines plus it was a beautiful sunny day. The photo is from Granite Springs Vineyard. The grapes were heavy on the vines and the leaves turn color just as the tree leaves do. Wonderful day with our friends Rick and Margo. If you like Zinfandels, this is a good area in which to taste them. Plus tasting is free and the people are a whole lot friendlier than in the Napa Valley. We joined the Wine Club at the WindWalker Winery. We also tasted ports. All the wineries served chocolate with the port. One even had a cup made of chocolate. You drink the port and then eat the cup. Chocolate makes every day better. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 21, 2005

How much longer will this man keep smiling? I hope it's not long. The Republicans staged a number of witchhunts during the Clinton administration so why shouldn't the Democrats do the same. Now that he's been charged with a felony, maybe he will have to relinquish the speaker's seat. That would be nice. Not sure "W" would like that background noise. I won't rant on any further. Although I may have to write about Harriet Meirs this weekend.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 17, 2005

Denver Airport's Secret Place

Saturday I flew home to Sacramento from Minneapolis via Denver. I had a 90 minute layover so decided to get some exercise by walking the length and back of the United Terminal. I did that and still had time so went up to the mezzanine where they had some more shops. Tucked away not far from Wolfgang Puck's is a place for a massage. You can do the chair thing or the whole table thing. I picked the 20 minutes in the chair for $24. Great massage. I fell asleep so I guess I relaxed. The trip home was ever so much better now that I could move my neck again. I do tend to carry some stress there. So next time you're at DIA check out the massage place near Wolfgang Puck on the Mezzanine.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

My son Mark, on the left, and his friend Dan went hiking in the northwest corner of the Grand Canyon with two other friends. This photo was taken the last day when they were getting ready to head for home. Mark has a web site where you can see more of this wonderful natural wonder. Paste the link below in your browser or click on it.

A Northern Flicker (pictured here) flew in our front door this morning. We always leave the door open in nice weather. It banged into a window. They are about 13 inches head to tail and it's got a big, pointed beak so it's not a bird you pick up easily. I finally caught it and got it outside but not before it pooped on everything. Poor guy was really scared. Northern Flickers are beautiful birds that hang around here during the winter. They are another sign that the season has changed. Actually you find them just about everywhere in the Lower 48, but probably not when it's snowy. They love to eat ants, wasps and other bugs.  Posted by Picasa