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 :(