Wednesday, December 31, 2014


 They came from across the Pacific and across the Atlantic.  From East Coast and West.  They descended on Albuquerque to siege and take over the lands of de-I and the Tower.  Our defenses were completely overwhelmed.


Christmas we glorious.  We decided that we needed a Christmas Eve meal that was more informal so I made a big pot of seafood/chicken gumbo.  We fed the kids first.  I was sure they would turn their nose up at it with its strong flavors.  But know they are liked it, even 1.2 who can be very picky.  On Christmas Eve, the kids had exchanged gifts with each other.  We also started with all the traditional things we've done as a family such as listening to our hokey synthesizer Christmas mix tape (with daughters and I singing along) and the mass watching of Claymation Christmas, a special shown once on TV during the 80's which we recorded and have watched religiously since. We managed to get everyone up to bed in spite of their excitement.  Then the adults got all of the presents out and stockings and set everything up.

Christmas day was glorious.  I've not always seen the joy in it.  I don't have it hard wired in my head as we never had it as a kid.  But this year with my focus on my role as grandfather, it was a very different experience.  The grandchildren were warm and enjoying the opening of presents.  We made our traditional breakfast and then had a relaxing day before we made our traditional Christmas pizza.  Wife did a new Neapolitan dough recipe that was quite good.  We had all the grandkids and the adults making their individual pizzas.  It was a very mellow day.


Who organizes a family reunion just two days after Christmas?  A primarily Jewish family that can only bring it's far flung members at that time of year?  So yet another onslaught of people.  I will kid you not that the idea of having the reunion at our house while the only logical choice was exceedingly daunting and stressful.  I'd been worrying about it for weeks.  Fortunately all sorts of family members had stepped up to the plate to do jobs.  One of my nieces, X, did all the meal planning.  My wonderful sons-in-law took the job of rearranging furniture so we could easily accommodate the 29 people total we had.  S-I-L 1A (aka Armenian Deal Hound) took on the Costco mega shopping with his wife #1.  After all the hard work, S-I-L 2B had arranged for a babysitter for the 8 grandkids so we adults could all go out to dinner.


The final onslaught.  Having this many people at your house feels a bit like being evicted.  But seriously it was really an amazing event.  We've never been a close family.  That is in large part to the overwhelming presence of my father whose feeling was that extended family was something to be avoided at all costs (there is a long background story to this that I don't have time for now).   We used to have an annual get together when my mother was alive on Thanksgiving and my father would rage at my mother for months prior to it.  It was legendary that Dad would find someone to pick on and reduce to tears.

But this was something different all together.  The vast majority of our family had never met each other or had only had the most perfunctory of meetings.  For example almost none of the family had met any of my grandchildren.  There was my younger brother's daughter from a long ago prior relationship whom none of us had met.  In spite of all this, the barriers seemed to drop very quickly.  There was some really deep conversations on multi generational levels.

We had toned down our culinary expectations significantly for both cost and time considerations.  But we still decided to do one meal with our cooking.  That was a combination of the organization and cooking of my nieces X and E.  I had committed to roasting lamb, chicken, and salmon on my Yoder wood pellet smoker/grill.  X's finance, D, who does tons of smoking, agreed to handle which was a great stress reliever.  X and E did our traditional schmaltz (chicken fat) mashed potatoes and a killer mac and cheese.  With my flavoring of the meats and D's skill with smoker/grill the proteins came out great.  Then Daughter #3 had made a Dutch Apple Pie with home made ice cream (our old fashioned ice cream maker of 30+ years died in the process 0 but not before the ice cream was properly churned!).

Wife went way beyond the call of duty.  Even though it is not her family, she took on the chore of scanning in scads of pictures into a collage that could be put on one of the TV screens.  These old pictures of family captivated everyone.  Then she went even further.  During the reunion itself the nieces X and E made their data base of pictures available to her and she added to collage.  Finally on the last night she had pictures from the reunion itself included!

The final piece de resistance was the Blackjack game.  This has a long family history.  During the years when we had our family Thanksgivings, one of my uncles would always gather the grandchildren (my and my older brother's kids) and teach them Blackjack.  As my niece E said, she learned how to count at those games.  So we had my older brother go out and get cards and chips.  He likes playing in Las Vegas so understands all the nuances.  Then we got my grandchildren playing.  It was a hoot to see the kids learning the subtle hand moves to ask for or hold their cards.  And once they started the game in real watching the kids get so focused and serious.


As fast as the invasion completed the take over of the Tower, the reconquest of the Motherland began.  On the 29th we were hard at work putting the house back to its normal arrangement.  On the the 30th the both the Visigoths and Ostrogoths (#2 and #1 clans respectively) had moved on to more fertile fields.  Sections of our home that had not been seen for a week were now back in de-I control.  Negotiations with the Amsterdam contingent to repatriate them to the Ostrogoth lands in the Bay area are showing fruit.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Notes From The Front

The great triennial gathering of the clan is in full force.  As frequent readers know with a family that is domiciled around the globe, getting everyone together is a challenge both logistically and economically.  Add to that the needs for married children to spending time with all their relatives and we feel very fortunate that we've been able to get everyone together just about every three years.  With the #2 sub-clan heading out to Hong Kong in January for two and half years, it will definitely be at least 3 years before this gathering can happen again.

Of course no matter how much the love we have for one another, getting this many people together with all their individual preferences and styles of living is going to have stresses associated with it.  In some ways it has been good that it didn't happen all at once.  We had #3 and family in from Amsterdam last Wednesday.  They have the biggest time zone difference/jet lag to deal with.  Then on Saturday Honorable Pu #2 and sub-clan arrived.  This is actually their way station between moving from the DC area on to Hong Kong.  So they arrived with massive bags in tow and the stress of being in transition.  Finally #1 and family arrived last night.

With each addition you have to figure out a new pattern of room use, eating, bathing, sleeping, etc.  We can't fit everyone in the Tower anymore with the comfort We'd like them to have, so we rented a house nearby.  Wife and I kept the four five older kids from sub-clans 1 and 2 with us.  That would be grandchildren 1.1 (9 yrs old),2.1 (15 yrs old),  2.2 (9 yrs old), 2.3 (7 yrs old), and 1.2 (5 yrs old).  The teenager is self-sufficient.  The two 9 year old girls were with us during the summer and are best buds.  So one question mark was how the 7 and 5 year old boys would hit it off.  Answer - famously.  That's great for both of them.  We're still working on getting 3.1 whose 3 and a half integrated so she doesn't feel left out.

Sleep has been in very short supply.  the #3 sub-clan is staying here.  3.2 doesn't sleep through the night yet and our house is not that well sound proofed so it effects the older, less flexible in their sleep patterns types (that would be Wife and I).  Then when the #2's arrived, 3.4 was sick so he was crying most of the night.  The result has been a light of bleary eyes and people a bit more cranky than we would prefer to be.  In spite of that, everyone is managing pretty good.

As Logistical Officer of the Eldership, the mass influx of people has really taxed my ability to purchase enough good for everyone.  It can be breath taking after one has been an empty nester as long as we have to see the amounts of food that are consumed in just a day or two.

We are all ready to head into the big Christmas Eve and Christmas Day events and everyone seems ready for it to be a very good time.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

First Mission - Stages One & Two

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, the Eldership de-Intimidator has been assigned a delicate diplomatic mission involving the bringing together the delegations of a wide variety of cultures for a complicated set of rituals and ceremonies here on the Eldership.   We're struggling with our lack of staffing and in the partitioning of jobs between Wife and I, I've ended up being chef (I know that's not a big surprise). 

I thought that shouldn't be a big deal as doesn't and AgeFleet Command Eldership have replicators like those on the Star Fleet Command star ships from Star Trek?  The answer is, "no they don't."  So it's cooking the traditional way for me.  We have 16 total that will be arriving starting yesterday through the 23rd with another 13 coming on the 27th for two days.  This has called for logistics on meal planning and shopping that they don't teach you at AgeFleet leadership training.  As a result I've been working extremely hard the last week or two getting thing put into shape.

At the Eldership we are very good at being incredibly frugal, putting all sorts of things in the freezer so they won't go to waste.  Unfortunately because we are Elders, 90% of the time we forgot that we've done so.  Since I need freezer space to handle everything I'm making, I decided to do a purge.  As we have a lot of fruit from our garden, I decided to make some fruit preserves something I've not done before.

My first attempt was raspberry preserves.

Here they are cooking away.

Unfortunately, I let them go a tad to long and ended up with great tasting soft raspberry candy :(

Second attempt was a success.

Peach Butter

I've also made a pot roast and the base for seafood gumbo that are now in the freezer and roasted a bunch of almonds.


The report of a snow storm sent me off for my first snow hike of the season!


Early yesterday evening we picked up the first of our groups.  Playing the part of the Cloud/Mist/Rain People for this series of episodes is none other than the #3 Clan!  They were pretty wiped out from the 17 hours of travel.


You will remember Wife and I were quarreling over the role of red tunic enlisted person (the ones who always get killed when the ship gets boarded or they're down on an away mission).  Wife's solution is to make a bunch of red tunics and give them to the delegates as gifts who certainly have no idea of the significance.

Wife on Holodeck 3 working like crazy on red tunics

Wife feels it's never too early to co opt child labor into the sweat shop.
Granddaughter 3.1 (who adores Wife) was easily convinced to take part.


Each grandchild who gets into the 3-4 year old stage gets into Thomas the Train.  I love Thomas the Train too.  It is sad time for our Captain when each child in their turn decides that they are too old for Thomas.  So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that 3.1 has enter the Thomas the Train continuum.  I decided that there would be some Thomas material waiting for her when she got here and had it out and waiting when she woke up this morning.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Staffing The Eldership

Captain's Log Age Date 2014.12.13

As commander of the Eldership de-I, I called a staff meeting with Wife today.  You'd think with only two of us on the Eldership that this would be a relatively simple task but Wife insisted that protocol be followed and wouldn't accept my verbal request and required that I send her an email request.  You may recall that on the bridge of the de-I that I am right across from Wife.  But never mind.

As mentioned last time we are struggling with the fact that while a full ship's complement is 571 there were only 2 of us assigned to this mission.  Wife believes this is because I made such a big stinko to do about even getting semi-retired that the Elder Fleet Command wanted to send me a less than subtle message that you're getting old dodo...accept it!  

None the less, we have to find a way to fill all the jobs.  Wife, is not only acting as the lovely Beverly Crusher, Doctor and gorgeous red head (perfect role for Wife) but she's the Executive Officer as well.  Since she does most of the fix it stuff, she'll be the Engineer and because she handles the books she's the Logistics Officer as well.  I get to take on things like Navigation, Communications, and Weapons Officer.  

However we're having a BIG, BIG fight over one job.

Neither of us will agree to be the red tunic enlisted person who gets killed in every episode.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Eldership de-I First Mission

First of all shame on all you readers who failed to not the new blog description on the top that is the rebranding of the blog...especially after I spent and unconscionable amount of time on it compared to doing something useful like fighting world hunger, Ebola or Russian incursion into the Ukraine.

The Eldership de-I, newly commissioned by AgeFleet Command, has been assigned a complicated diplomatic mission as its first assignment.  This will involve bringing together a number of representatives of different systems for a great celebratory event.  It will require the crew of the de-I to handle a wide variety of customs and mores and really tax our logistical capabilities.  However my executive officer, Wife and I are confident in our ability to prevail.

Captain's Log, Age Date 2015.12.12

I happen to look recently at the standard crew requirement for an AgeFleet Command Eldership.  It calls for a full compliment of five hundred and seventy one.  On the de-I there are only Wife and I.  That's two which is a bit less than five hundred and seventy one.  Makes one wonder what kinds of politics go on in the AgeFleet Command bureaucracy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Catch Up Post

Sorry it's been a while since posting.


As you will see I've spruced up the de-I layout and gone with a whole new branding as befits an officially "Semi-Retired" person.

After Thanksgiving day we hung out with the relatives for a few more days.  This included spending more time with the grand kids including a visit to a cool science museum in the hills above Oakland.

This was supposed to be showing the cycle of the Big Bang

Ready Mission Control!

Movies - the key to grand parental babysitting success!

The drive back to New Mexico was much easier as Wife's back had improved substantially and she was able to take her normal shifts driving.  Still we note as we are getting older that an 8 to 9 hour driving day is about as much as we can handle.  A decade ago we were doing 10 to 12 hour days.


Remember the movie Mars Attacks?  This year is a the mother of all Christmases as we have the entire clan coming from their varied locations.  I liken it to the Allied recapture of Europe in WWII.  On the 17th the brave forces of Task Force Netherlands make the initial landing.  Then on the 20th reinforcements from the Pulandic Expeditionary Group come in.  Finally the Bay Area Highlanders arrive on the 23rd to drive the break out from the beaches.  Total collapse of the de-I defenses are expected on the 27th when the rest of the extended de-I family comes for our 1st ever family reunion.  That's another 12 people.  

This has required logistical planning at a level not heretofore seen.  Everything from childproofing for infants to menu planning, renting additional space since not even the Tower can hold the 16 of the clan, etc.
Significant heating pad on back time was required after getting all the stuff out this year

While getting the little tree on the ledge I kept thinking about older folks and falling :(

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Redux

We had a very relaxed Thanksgiving in Lafayette California.  Our Nephew and his wife were hosts.  Wife's brother and Wife (Husband and In the Sticks) were there from Ohio.  Of course the entire Daughter #1 clan were there along with a number of 1A's relatives.  I did not cooking which in some ways was good in that I was not all tired.  But on the other hand I suffered a bit of withdrawl.

I rectified that on Saturday when we were at the Nephew's again with hanging out.  The Nephew's kids and the #1's kids get along so well.  I processed the leftover turkey by making a stock from the bones, and a turkey tetrazzini (a baked pasta with a cream sauce from the stock, turkey and mushrooms).  A very chill, relaxed day with family.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks Giving

I give thanks for things large and small

I am thankful that each morning I have hot water and can shower in a world where clean water is a rare luxury.

I thank Wife for making me her partner and for having always accepted me for exactly who I am.

I'm thankful for my wonderful children who were patient enough wait until I got my act together and have turned into fully self-sufficient, productive adults and great partners and parents in their own right.

I'm thankful that my parents gave their absolute best to raising me and wanted only the best for me until their last breaths.

Thank you for my wonderful grandchildren who allow me to return to my own child state.

I'm so appreciative that I won the karma lottery and get to do my time in one of the richest, luxurious countries on earth where we have far more than we need.

Thank you for changing the one letter on my job skill code in my military orders that meant that I stayed in Alabama instead of having to go to Viet Nam.

Thanks for all the very near misses on the highway over the decades that could have led to injury or much worse.

Thanks also for all the mentors over the years who gave me the things I needed to grow and be productive in my work days.

Thank you Gurudev for Shaktipat and the discipline to stay with it.

Thanks for this transition that has allowed me to to drop the illusion of the importance of accomplishment and take a step toward deeper fulfillment.

And thanks for letting me pay back all that I've received by giving a piece of me and life to another.

I hope all of you have as much to be thankful for and can revel in that appreciation today.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Go West Old Folks, Go West

Daughter #1 wanted us to come to California for Thanksgiving.  One of our nephews lives in the same town and their parents (In the Sticks and G) were planning to go there too.  I don't like traveling on Thanksgiving...too many horror trips going up and down I-95 then years of schlepping across country by airplane.  But we decided to make it a 9 day driving trip to take the travel pressure off.

We're driving leisurely to Paso Robles first where we will do some wine buying.  Then going up to Salinas and our friends, Steve and Lady Di.  Finally it's on to Lafayette for four days of Thanksgiving and family.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Have A Dream

It was a pretty rough week.  I needed to go to Colorado Springs for business on Sunday and was going to drive.  But there was a lot of snow in the mountain passes and I at the last moment decided to fly to Denver and drive down to Colorado Springs.  But my rental car's windshield washing system was not operational and while I tootling at 70 mph down the highway I go to clean the muck of the windshield and it becomes opaque!  Really scary.  Fortunately I was able to pull of and use some snow to wash things off.

Then there was two long days of work, the return trip and two long days of work on Wednesday and Thursday.  On Thursday morning I'm clearly not feeling well and by Thursday evening and an evening event, I'm feeling feverish, cold and tired.  I left the event early went home and curled up under my Afghan and watched a Great Course on Geology (really good one I might add).  I went to sleep very early, around 9:30.

Around 2 AM or so, I had this dream.  I dreamed of noodle soup.  Not any noodle soup but the wonderfully flavorful, nourishing noodle soups I had in Singapore. Along with the soup there was this humongous shrimp, perfectly cooked so it was just translucent.  Have I mentioned that I can't ever remember having dreamed of food and food so specific and so real in flavor before?  Well I haven't.  After I awoke from the dream and went back to bed I was still remembering the flavor and getting very hungry.  I had to make myself an Asian style soup for lunch just to assuage the craving.

I had an acupuncture appointment this afternoon (I'm feeling much better thank you).  I had not eaten very healthfully in Colorado Springs and she deduced that the dream was my body craving good nourishment. 

Can't wait for the #2 Pu clan to get o Hong Kong so we can visit and get some of the real thing!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Creating The Monestary

In my last transition post a few weeks ago, I wrote about finally getting to my semi-retired state and the restructuring of my life an schedule.  As I've been immersing myself into that I've noticed that I have had a distinct desire to just be alone.  I've felt very little desire to interact with others.  I don't have any problem when I do interact.  It all can be very pleasant.  But no need to reach out and make that interaction happen.

At the same time, I am feeling very content doing all the little things that in the past would have been distractions from working.  Anything from doing chores around the house to spending all that time playing with grandchildren would have had an element of "I really need to be doing that work that is there." 

And there is more and more of a feeling of open-eyed meditation.  This is something that your supposed to be trying to achieve.  We think of meditation as something where we have to go into a quiet, dark, secluded place so we are not distracted by the world around us.  But as you continue to work and deepen your perception and strength, you are able to carry that meditative state around with you even while you're acting in the world.  That's called open-eyed meditation.  Being at home with Wife and doing our daily life together is an environment where it is very easy to get into the open eyed meditation state.

This was all a bit puzzling to me.  Why didn't I want to be with anyone?  Why did I want to be alone?  Why was I so content doing all these little things that never held any interest for me before?

I had the realization that I had in fact created my own personal monastery.  What is a monastery but a place where people go to get away from distraction, to be able to contemplate, meditate, and pray.  And monastic life always contains the work component.  It acknowledges the value of work without having an attachment to what work it is or the outcome of the work. 

Fortunately, the de-I monastic order is NOT one of these real austere ones.  We still believe in a bit of wine each day :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beware the Droolasaur

It's quite possible that you do not frequent the habitat of the Droolasaur.  And if so you would be unaware of the hazards that await the unwary.  The Droolasaur is one of a number of predators that make use of a combination of camouflage and biological warfare to bring down its prey. 

It starts by looking oh sooooo cute

See you'd never suspect that that drool is in fact carry highly contagious organisms.  Much like the Komodo Dragon which will just give a slight wound and the wait for the disease in its saliva to sicke the prey, the Droolasaur makes you just want to pick it up and cuddle it and moosh it all lovee dovee while in fact it is passing on its infectious diseases.

See.  Here's the Droolasaur in action,
The woman below is fully sucked into the total cuteness

But after just a short contact she's already feeling the effects of the infection as the Droolasaur moves to let the agent do its work.

This may be a very long way of saying I came back from Pulandia with a cold I got from 2.4.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

de-I Sandia Outfitters - Sheneadoah Valley Edition

The Pu Clan was anxious to show us Skyline Drive in the Virginia Shenandoah Valley.  It was Armistice Day so the kids were off from school.  It's about an hour and a half from Falls Church where the Pu's live.  The weather couldn't have been any better in the mid-60's, dry and sunny.

We went for a lovely mile and a half hike and then went to a place called the Apple House in Linden VA near Front Royale for a late lunch noted for their great fresh all the time apple donuts.

The Shenandoah Valley

Wife and Photographic Apprentice 2.2

#2, 2B and 2.4 getting ready to move out.
"Did you say there were bears here de-I?"

A relatively successful family pose.
At least I got the parents looking at the camera

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, I don't believe we're bear fodder on the go.

2B, 2.4 and Moi 
(Only took Wife 20 pictures to get baby looking at camera!)

Famous Apple Donuts
Every bit as good as promoted!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Promoting Pulandia As A Destination Spot

The excitement never ends when you book your vacation at PULANDIA - Country of Mystery.

Join One of Our Adventure Guides 

Indiana 2.3

Get Friendly with the Locals

"Hi there.  Aren't you sweet!"

"Out of my way Lady.  I got places to go."

Gastronomy Awaits

"I didn't tell you there's no heating here?"

Get to Experience Working at a Real Rock Bush Plantation

Don't Forget the Full "Buffalo Bills" Experience
(Complete with end of game collapse)

But Don't Run Afoul of the Local Laws!

Friendly Natives Are There to Greet You Everywhere

Colorful Markets

Pulandia is Noted for Its Sheep Noodles

But Beware of Beggars Looking for Fries!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Back in Pulandia

We're taking trip into the magical land of Pulandia to see the Venerable Pu (#2) and their clan.  They will be heading out to Hong Kong in January so we really want to get as much time with them as possible.

We flew in Sunday and the Magical Unicorn Pony God of Travel was laying low.  I actually suspect that she had a deceptive trick up her hoof.  Our first leg flight to Houston was over sold.  They'd offered $150 on Thursday night to change.  It was upped to $350, then $450, and finally $550 before someone snapped it up.  Wife and I discussed it but only one of us would have gotten the change and we decided it was too important to chance getting way delayed.

I made sure to buy some of the inflatable swords as soon as I got here for engaging with 2.3.  There's already been lots of grandkid time with all three (oldest - 2.1 - is away at boarding school) and we went out to dinner with #2 and 2B last night.  We went to a steak place in Arlington.  Again the price value was way better than anything we see in Albuquerque.

Today, for the first time ever, I get to experience the 2B, Buffalo Bills, Game Day experience!

Hang on to your hats.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

de_I's Helpful Hints To A Successful Marriage - # 16,482

So how does a mellow, easy to get along with, non-opinionated, go with the flow type of guy like de-I keep his lovely Wife happy and content?  Well he pays attention to subtle hints that maybe doing things in a certain way may be inadvertently getting the wrong reaction from said Wife.

When we redid the kitchen we exchanged our ceramic topped electric stove for a nice responsive gas one.  Yes it did take quite a bit more effort to clean the new stove top than the old one but what a small price to pay for the greater cooking efficiency, right? 

Oh, did I forget to mention that in our division of labor, I do the cooking and almost NEVER do the cleaning up afterwards?  Well Wife who does the cleaning didn't quite see things the same way.  After one particular messy post meal clean up she made some mention that couldn't I do something so that the fat spattering didn't go all over the rest of the stove?

The result -

The Solution

This actually works really well (truth be told Wife thought of it).

Happy Wife.  Happy Life.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chicken + Scallions + Capers = Salad Dressing???

This is a tale of culinary transformation.

A couple of years ago, we had friends over to make pizza.  I wanted something other than just a red sauce pizza.  I had some salted capers on hand.  I figured I could saute them with some scallions and a little red pepper flakes and then add some pre-cooked chicken.  It turned out pretty tasty so I put it on the pizza with a combination of cheeses to make a sort of white, chicken pizza.  The whole package was pretty tasty.

Over the ensuing years, I've gotten this little flavor mixture down pat.  I've done it with regular capers and it comes out just as well and with fresh chicken instead of pre-cooked as well.  I had whipped up a batch of this scallion-caper-chicken for our pizza experiment night a few weeks back and ended up with quite a bit left over.

On the Sunday following the pizza night, Wife and I were making our regular big ass salad for lunch and out of the blue she asks, "Could you make a salad dressing from the chicken stuff we had on the pizza?"  I'm like, "Chicken salad dress?"  Really?"  She was insistent.  "I really like that flavor."  So I thought about it.  I started out with some of the basics of a vinaigrette putting some Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and olive oil in a blender.  Then I added some of the chicken mixture and blended away.  You know what?  It was pretty darn good.  I thought it needed something to soften it slightly and having some half and half around popped a little dose of that.  Presto, just what was needed.  It came out like a ranch dressing that was deeper in flavor.  It was pretty hard to distinguish any chicken flavor.

Who would have thought, chicken salad dressing. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Back on the Transition Trail

The drama of the Dragon has finally subsided.  Having fulfilled my Cincinnatus role, I'm finding that I am able to "go back to the farm."  Meaning I'm getting into fully my semi-retired state. 

Like that term, "semi-retired"?  It is a term that seems to fully capture where I'm at.  Initially I used the term that I was "transitioning" because I was unsure of what I would be doing, wanted to still work but just not as much.  Unfortunately people couldn't relate to what I was talking about at all.  I would say, "I'm transitioning out of full time work into doing less, blah, blah, blah", with all kinds of explanation.  And at the end they'd ask me, "So when are you retiring?" 

After quite some time of that, decided to give up and tell people that I was retired.  That's pretty straight forward.  Then they'd say, "But you're still working?"

I just fell into the term semi retired in the last couple of months and for whatever reason everyone gets it.  "Oh you're only working a little bit.  Cool."

I probably put in about half the time I did before.  During full bore build business days, I would work around 50 to 60 hours a week and now I'm at around 25 to 30.  I'm very selective about what kind of business I want to take on so I not having to be out there pushing and selling so much.  That has opened up another day during the week that I can hike.  This is all very new so we'll see how it all plays out.  Right now I'm hiking on Monday and Friday mornings which is great because there's normally very few other folks out then.

I'm also finding that with the much, much more relaxed schedule that I've had time to build much more physical fitness stuff into my schedule.  A few months ago I added some upper body work to my yoga, core muscle routine (I've hated upper body work my entire life).  A side effect of his was finding that the arthritis in my shoulder was bothering me much less.  So I've decided to make use of the same principle when I hike to try and lessen the effect of the arthritis on my knees.  I choose trails that are short and demanding in terms of climb.  I treat the hike as a workout more than just going into the mountains.  I focus on the rhythm of my pace and my breathing to get them in synch so I can optimize the pace I can go.  And I really consciously concentrate on working the muscles in the thighs and calves with each step...especially when I'm stepping down which is when the most stress goes on the knee joint.  It's pretty new so I don't want to jump to conclusions, but so far I'm seeing a big decrease in the knee pain post hike.

We've got lots of family travel coming up in November.  We're going to Pulandia next week and we'll be at the One's for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pizza Experimentation

I was dying to try out the new mega yuppie Yoder Smoker/Grill/Oven/Decoding Ring on pizza.  When I researched it one of the attractions was the fact it would go up to 550 degrees - certainly hot enough to put in a pizza stone and whip out pizza.

However, as with all things Yoderish there is much tweaking to find out just how best to get the performance you're looking for.  We invited over three young couples who are very much into gastronomy (and with much better appetites than we old folk!).  One of them had moved to NM from Brooklyn NY not long ago and had indulged in lots of the famous brick oven pizza there. 

We told everyone to bring over their favorite toppings and we would just create pizzas and see how they came out.  We had a really great time.  Everyone pitched in rolling out dough and assembling pizza versions.  My friend the  Count had actually been part of a family owned pizza operation so had quite a bit of pizza dough experience.  Our newest guest, the guy from Brooklyn wanted to try this Neapolitan style dough which we all really liked.

The Yoder worked adequately but I think I left a piece in it (a heat diffuser) that I should have taken out for the high heat because it did not burn clean and we had a lot of sooty smoke.  That affected how the pizza looked but not its taste.  It is way easier to work with this than the indoor oven because you have access from three sides instead of one which makes it way easier to manage putting the pizzas on and taking them off.  I will need to do another experiment before I try to use it for Xmas.

A sample of the output


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bonding Through Combat

One of de-I's goals for 2014 has been building deeper relationships with my grandkids.  This has been accomplished by the use of stuffed bunnies, Star War characters, sushi lunches, and Skype to name a few.  Let's add mortal combat with inflatable weaponry to that list!

When the #1 clan was here last weekend, I'd had the idea that our new backyard would be a great playground for especially the younger boys with all the stairs and levels and the castle like appearance.  Sure enough 1.2 just loved romping around the yard, especially when grandpa was willing to join in the imaginary fun.  We did all kinds of imaginary battles but they were lacking something.  So we went out to Toys R Us and I found some inflatable sword type things.  Perfect.  Too soft to do any real damage but enough for each of us to whack the bejeebers out of each of us.  Soon 1.1 was involved and we had full scale imaginary warfare going on.  Great fun.

Looking forward to when the rest of the clan comes at Christmas to take it up another notch.  Need to find some nerf quarterstaffs or the like.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Another Year Another Family Fiesta

Last year we had the wonderful experience of having the #3 clan in Albuquerque for our International Balloon Fiesta and we had the joy of seeing it through our lovely 2-3 year old granddaughter 3.1.  This year we had that joy of sharing that experience again with the #1 clan.  Hardworking entrepreneurs, they flew in on Friday night and went back on Sunday night.

We so love taking folks to the Balloon Fiesta because no matter how much you explain it to them, the experience is so much more.  Such as:

Are We Excited About the Balloon Fiesta or What!!!

The Photographer Watching Over the Next Generation

A #1  Fiesta!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Colors of a Different Sort

We headed back to the homeland today going through a number of places that are known in these parts such as Pagosa Springs and Chama but had never been to.  Not much foliage color in these parts.  But New Mexico has plenty of its own charms.

The Chama Basin

New Mexico is the land of blue sky and horizons that go forever

Echo Ampitheatre

This is a an unusual geologic formation that provides a natural echo chamber and also discloses some Jurassic era sandstone structures and colors