Posts Tagged With: family time


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Friday past, Doug, myself, and a lot of baggage loaded into Ken’s seven passenger Tahoe and headed for a rented condo at Incline Village. It has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a hot tub, a foos ball table, books, television, and, plenty of room for our gang of 11. (Missing was grandson’s Mason and Alec.) Our first stop was the Great Basin Brewing Company for lunch, in Reno.

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Ken is growing a mustache, and his son, Stewart lives in a house close to his campus at Univeristy of Nevada at Reno. All college kids like a free lunch, and it gave Stewart, who has facial hair, a chance to rib his dad on his “paltry” mustache.

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After lunch, we picked up my oldest daughter, Kristanne and her son Austin at the Reno Airport and drove to the condo.

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On Saturday morning, (Virginia and her gang have yet to arrive), Doug, who is known for his fabulous omelets was relaxing when his brother said, I’m hungry now, where is that omelet?  I love this, Doug, in pidgin English, said, “you-want-omelet-now? OK.” Ken got his plate of eggs in about one minute, including a do it yourself kit.

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The omelets were full of veggies, cheese and ham, made to order, and delish.

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Later Saturday morning, youngest daughter Virginia, her husband Cedric and their boys, Theo and Owen arrived. Theo and I started a jigsaw puzzle, all the while wondering if all the pieces are present. It was a challenging puzzle.

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We are a games playing family, and soon Laurie and Kris were playing RummiKub. Virginia read her paper she brought from home.

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Stewart drove up and he, Doug and Ken had a game of Elevator going at the other end of the table.

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It was chit-chat, relaxation and games. Elevator, Thirteen, Phase 10. People jumped in and out of the games, as they changed throughout the day.

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Theo and Austin went out, played in the snow, came in, jumped in the hot tub and came up to make their lunch before going back in the tub. Theo taught Austin to put the “right” kind of potato chips in his turkey and cheese sandwich.

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Cedric tried a hand game Austin brought that is popular at his school. It is a Japanese game where you toss the ball on the end of the string and catch it in one of two cups and on a peg. I think it is Chandra? Much harder than it looks.

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Cedric spent part of the afternoon baking pies for dinner. We all demand a pie fix. His are the best.

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We play a lot of cards. Stewart laments that in his generation only a couple of his friends actually play cards. Virginia brings a card game she discovered in Mexico, an auction game we play only once. I think it is called Ah Fiance.

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Laurie cooked Saturday night’s dinner. A big pot of Mexican chili with cilantro and cheese, her  home-made corn tortillas. A black bean and pepper coleslaw, a bowl of guacamole, and dipping chips. Hardly anyone was hungry enough for desert.

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By bedtime, the puzzle was unfinished. Theo, Cedric, Laurie, myself and Owen all worked off and on during the day on the puzzle. More tomorrow.




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Saturday, daughter-in-law, Laurie and I walked and rode the trails of PAWS, Performing Animal Welfare Society. All of the animals that come here are in trouble, have been abused or tied up for years, confined in zoos, and so on. PAWS gives the animals freedom near the end of their lives. It is a great charity. The sad part is how awful some of them have been treated before they arrive at PAWS. Tigers, a black leopard, and lions, were off somewhere in the bushes and trees enjoying their freedom and space except this barely visible lion who took a liking to a nap on a platform next to the fence.

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We saw four active  Black Bears. They have red or black fur.DSC06775 (Copy)

Protective fencing makes it tough to photograph them. The camera wants to focus on the fence.

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Laurie is an elephant lover and has never touched one and felt their leathery skin. She has a vast collection of elephant items that started when she was in grammar school. She hopes someday to ride an elephant. It is pleasant to view them out in the open enjoying a spacious range. PAWS has 2300 acres for the animals to roam.

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This is Nikolaus, a young bull. PAWS is the only sanctuary to take bull elephants.

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He wanted to be playful and stay where all of us were gathered. DSC06791 (Copy)

He rested his heavy trunk on the bars and seemed to say, “Isn’t anybody gonna throw me a carrot?”

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We bused past Asian elephants grazing in a flower filled field.

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These two African Elephants rummaging for something good to eat next to an oak snag. rDSC06827 (Copy)

A couple of females were grabbing everyone’s attention as they staged themselves by the fence close to a road stop.

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They came from a performing background and were obviously begging for goodies, though no one but staff is allowed to feed them anything. One kept tooting funky elephant calls with her trunk, and tossing dust over her head. The other would crowd the fence, step on the steel cord as though to say, “I could bust through this flimsy fence if I wanted too.”

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Of course, they can’t.

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We returned to the bear sanctuary and then had lunch in town. (PAWS is located in San Andreas.) If you plan to attend an event, contact them through their website and read the stories and see good pictures at this link. It was a fun time in on a nice day at PAWS.

Sunday, Mother’s Day, Laurie and Ken hosted a salad lunch and dessert.

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Laurie is a stellar cook and loves to try new recipes. The salads were varied and different. She made deviled eggs with avocado as the binder instead of mayonaise. They were good. Of course, before the salads, we munched on all the snacks. Is it a habit to eat before we eat?

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Lauries’s sister, Michele brought carrot cake, Virginia made berry cobbler, and Laurie made a really good key lime pie also with avocado as part of the ingredients. Avocado makes it a healthy dessert.

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Someone took all we mother’s picture. I don’t have a clue what we were laughing about. Laurie, Michele, Virginia and Me.


Then we trooped over to my brother, Clark’s house for Mother’s Day Dinner with a whole new set of mothers. Clark, with his future Mother-in-law, Sue.


Sue’s sister, Jean.


Clark’s father-in-law to be with their daughter, Tammy.


Clark’s fiance, Theresa, on the right conferring with Laurie.


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Theresa’s daughter Courtney, with the newest member of the family,  seven month old Tyson.

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Courtney with husband Josh, the baby,  and two of the cutest sisters who dote on baby brother.  Theresa has a third daughter, Lindsey who was unable to attend. Clark has a daughter, Melissa, who lives in Texas.


Tammy’s son John, has two dogs. No kids.

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Clark allowed each woman, and the grand-daughters, to pick from the bouquets of flowers hanging on the patio covers. Cammi picked this one because it matched her dress.

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Her younger sister went for contrast, black and yellow petunias. Beautiful.

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This is the gang, but everyone moves around. Somehow, I missed Matt, Tammy’s husband. We had a good chat, though.

DSC06865 (Copy)Baby Tyson is the new apple of Grandma’s eye.

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My brother Bill and Clark live near each other, that is makes three of us in Calaveras County. We said our goodbyes, and waddled off home, each of us with a huge bouquet of Petunias. Theresa, too, is a marvelous cook and we can’t seem to help but eat. All of us decided we prefer family time to dinner in a restaurant, even if it means a lot of cooking.






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Yesterday we bopped over to East Freetown to visit with Jim’s cousins, Jeanette and Camello Di Paola for a couple hours.

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We met at their son’s house. Mike is the oldest Di Paola son, and daughter Lisa is the youngest member of the family.

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Camello immigrated here from Catania, Sicily and was a leather craftsman all of his life. He pointed out his grandchildren in a picture.

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Another picture shows all four of his sons and three daughters.

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Son David, who couldn’t be with us.  is a baker at Dunkin’ Donuts, so of course, that is what we snacked on.

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It turns out that their pet peacock, Hobo, likes donuts,too.

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He is a beauty and get’s along well with the dogs. He wanders the neighborhood but he sleeps in a tree in their yard. In 2010 I got his picture with tail fully spread, but he doesn’t have a lady friend.

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Mike’s wife Anne joined us when she got off work.

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We were also joined by Mike’s best friend, Steve, and we did another round of pictures. Steve is a member of the family, too, Mike said. We all have good friends like that. Next time, we’ll stay a little longer and capture the whole gang, but sometimes you have to settle for half a package. (Jeanette and Camello live right around the corner from St. Anthonys, from yesterday’s blog.) The kids all attended church there. Mike told me the beautiful marble came from Italy.

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We returned to Bob and Donna’s for our “last supper.”

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Bob’s son makes clams casino, a family favorite.  Bushels of them are a family tradition at Christmas for Bob and Donna. DSC08079 (Copy)

We were just short of calling the fire department as the casino clams came out from under the broiler in those cardboard baking pans, too much laughter, I might add. Nothing like creating a lasting impression of your favorite regional food.

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Despite the flambe, the clams were delicious.

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And Donna made sure we were as stuffed as the clams with Jim’s favorite meat pie, before we called it a night. We will hit the road for Ivoryton, CT. later this morning. What would we do without cousins?

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We have three main family get togethers per year Independence Day Reunion, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. At times we are splintered, like this year.

Traffic was sane for the two-hour drive to Virginia’s, and in time to see the turkey come out of the oven for a  turn over from breast side down, to breast side up.The smells greeted us on the driveway before we entered the house. Now that alone is a special joy.

It takes three people to turn an 18 pound hot bird safely.

Virginia did the first basting.

Doug was teaching the boys to play Risk, a game of armies and geography.

Jim and I  set out the snacks, quite a bit lower in fat  from former years;  dilled green beans, crackers and cheese, a bit of salami, chips and Texas caviar.

We brought a new game, LCR, a fun and fast-moving dice game. Non-stop table games in shifts went on all day between snacking and tending the bird. Virginia taught us two new dice games, Threes and High Or Low. Both, challenging and easy to learn. We like to choose games the whole family can play in which the kids are equal to an adult by age seven.

Close to dinner time, eleven year old Owen peeled the potatoes. Two days before, both boys cracked walnuts from my tree for the walnut pie that Cedric is famous for. When the boys were too little to reach the table, it was their job to grind the cranberries in my old-fashioned hand grinder. At some point Owen discovered peeling potatoes and opted for that job on his own.

The turkey rested for 40 minutes while the previously tenderized in the microwave beets and sweet potatoes were roasted in the oven, green beans stir fired, the gravy made, potatoes mashed, and the salads put together.

Doug carved the turkey.

The table was ready with three different kinds of cranberry sauce, but Cedric, who gets teased by his wife and brother-in-law, loves canned cranberries over the fresh any time.

Cranberries we all love at Thanksgiving;  the more the merrier.

With the magic of electronic communications, we still managed time with each other. Ken & Laurie spent Thanksgiving at home with their sons since Stewart, away at college as a freshman, came home for the first time in three months. It was comfortable talking with family members on the screen. Kristanne, too, connected by phone from Southern California.

A walk to the park in friendly California weather, the desserts and conversation until bedtime.  We all expressed our thankfulness for each other, and we realize how fortunate we are.

And I am  thankful for my cyber friends that follow my blog and give me input on my daily scribbles and photos. You put up with my rants and let me know when I’ve pleased you. Without you, my blog would not exist. Cheers to all of you in the blogging community.

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Last night was a multiple celebration of sorts. For Jim and I, our last get-together with family before hitting the road. Son, Ken made his favorite brew, an imitation of Mirrorpond, one of his favorite commercial beers; good company while manning the Sunday barbequed chicken. It was a good copy, but for me, his pumpkin beer will always be the best.
Also, on this occasion, a family temporarily united. Kristanne’s husband, Richard came with the help of his friend, Mike, and brought their household goods to the new place in Las Vegas, two loads over the mountains in the snow. The economy has leveled their former life in the same community. Now, Richard works in Irvine and Kristanne works in Las Vegas. Austin was excited to see his dad.
And Alec, giving his best vampire imitation, was happy to see his little brother and Kristanne.
It also happened to be Kristanne’s birthday, so Laurie made a cake for the occasion.
We helped Kristanne celebrate her turn to be 49 for a year.

The kids played. (Their parents are friends of Ken and Laurie’s)

We enjoyed good food and conversation with Kelly and Jeff, the parents, and,Mike.  Everybody had a good time with good eats.

And, we said our goodbyes.  Jeff, wrote and played a song about Walmart, and their 39 hour work week so they don’t have to pay any benefits to their employees while buying all their shoddy goods from China,  including produce, in some cases.


Unfortunately, my battery went out before the video was complete, so this is but a short sample.
It was a great to be able to spend several weeks in Las Vegas, spend time with family, and get my new computer off the ground. Today, we are headed for Palm Springs.

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Lucky be we that Thanksgiving is a four day event for our family. Everyone arrived on Wednesday. We took advantage of the balmy weather; the kids used the trampoline and adults and kids hiked to Michaelson School and played kickball.
There was time to rummage through the recipe box and decide what old favorites to make.
Time for relaxation for man and beast as business gives in to the holiday.

Game marathons ensued with Chess, Mille Bornes, Yahtze, Yu-gi-oh, Cribbage, Shut The Box, Lego Bionicles, Apples To Apples, Dominoes, Crazy Eight and a lot of banter. Sometimes different games captivated opposite ends of the table.
We’ve been accused of being a gaming family.
Music plays its part as well.

The bartender was prepared for those who imbibe.

The turkey was smoked.

The potato peeler, (twenty pounds of them) and the baker took a break in the kitchen.

The menu: Smoked turkey, spuds and gravy, Irish potatoes, corn casserole, stuffing, amazing salad, three types of cranberries, sweet potatoes with bananas, pineapple and rum, sweet potatoes with chicken broth and bay leaves, smoked chicken breast, and curried chicken. Desserts: Marzipan pear tart, blackberry and apple pies, sticky buns and snickerdoodles.

Thanksgiving has long been our favorite holiday. We thank you Sarah Hale.

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