Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mi Casa

This is my humble home. As you can see the sun is out again in SoCal and it's about 65 degrees. My house is at the end of a cul-de-sac up against a freeway wall. You can see part of a freeway sign in the background. One windy winter half that sign was blown onto the roof of my house, split in half, and fell into my yard. Every once in a while I still find white reflectors in the ivy from the sign. We get strong winds here between about November thru January which sometimes reach 75 mph. They come out of the mountain pass to the north of us.

Karen and I are the original owners of the house and watched it being built almost twenty years ago. Our house is three bedrooms, two baths, with an attached enclosed patio on the back.

I spent several hours today cutting and trimming the grass and pulling weeds. Why is it that the grass grows better in the planters than in the yard??

9-1-1 Calls

Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What's the nature of your emergency?

Caller: My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart .

Dispatcher: Is this her first child?

Caller: No, you idiot! This is her husband!

I received this from my good friend Jan who works full time as a crime scene investigator and fingerprint examiner and part time as a police dispatcher. This is cute, but tame in comparison to real life stories she can tell. Thanks Jan.

Duct tape uses in the home

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to Phil Collins #57

Too Much Blogging!!!!!!!

State of the Union Address - Take Two

I watched the state of the union address by President Bush the other night and I found it quite unnerving to watch the president during the speech. He has such a cocky look on his face a lot of the time and, as you can see by the photo to the left, he likes to wink at people. Now I always thought when you winked at people when you were saying something that it meant you were trying to pull something over on the person or people you are speaking to. Then of course you can see that the person who is enjoying the speech the most, by his own smirk, is Vice President Cheney. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I think this picture is worth it's weight in gold.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tommy's for lunch!!!

Those of you not from SoCal aren't familiar with Tommy's World Famous chili dogs and chili burgers. They started out as one small walk-up store in downtown Los Angeles and have grown to about 15 stands today. It was one of the things I needed to have to know I was home, and I took care of that today for lunch.

I love the chili dogs. They come with mustard, dill pickles, tomato, cheese, and onions. I get them without the cheese and onions. I also get a fork to eat a lot of the chili from the sides before I tackle the actual hot dog. I also get 4-5 paper towels for wiping the chili from my hands and mouth etc. Yum yum!!

Happy Birthday Alan Alda

I'd like to take a moment to wish birthday wishes to actor Alan Alda who turns 72 years old today. Alan Alda is probably best know for his 11 year portrayal of Hawkeye Pierce in the series M.A.S.H. I still watch the re-runs of M.A.S.H. and have shared those experiences with my sons who are also fans.

He started acting on Broadway and has starred in many movies and TV shows. He is also a writer and director and has recently written his second book called, "Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself." His first book was called, "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed."

Alan Alda was born Alphonso Joseph D'abruzzo in New York City. He is married to his wife Arlene and has three daughters.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I just had to!!

The human side of war

Winter in SoCal!!!

It's winter in SoCal and our local mountains have received quite a lot of snow. The nice thing is that it is sunny and 68 degrees down here and cold and snowy up there. It's real pretty to look at from down here. We are expecting another storm tonight and through tomorrow and depending on who you listen to, we are gonna get between two and ten inches of rain over the next 36 hours plus more snow above 4000 ft. in the mountains.

I went to Bally's Gym today and ran 1.5 miles in 18:40. That's not an Olympic record, but it's good for me and my sore knees. My doctor recommended taking a couple of supplements called chondroitin and glucosamine for my sore knees. She says I probably have arthritis and these will help rebuild the cartilage in my knees. So I went to the drug store and found a bottle of 180 tablets that combines the two on sale for $10.49. Then the cashier told me there was a buy one and get one free offer, so I got two bottles for $10.49. My wife was so proud of me!!! My wife is quite the shopper, looking for sales and using coupons whenever she can. I guess she is rubbing off on me after all these years. Who would a thought!!

I'm reading a new book (I know, what a surprise!!) it's entitled; "Change your Thoughts - Change your life - Living the wisdom of the Tao." It's written by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. He was one of the speakers at the conference I went to last year. It is obviously a study on the writing of the Tao Te Ching. It's pretty good so far, but I may have to read it a few times to get it all.

Happy Birthday Wishes

I can't believe I almost missed the birthday of another of my favorite actresses, Catherine Zeta Jones. What a babe!! Oh and I suppose I should include that it was also her husband, Michael Douglas' birthday as well. On January 25th Catherine Zeta Jones turned 39 and Michael Douglas turned 64. They have been married 8 years and have at least one child together. Both have starred in numerous movies. Did I mention that she is a babe!!

My Son Scott

This is a photo of my oldest son Scott and his family. Scott, on the right, is shown with his partner Bruce and their two daughters Rebbecca and Melissa. Scott is a licensed clinical social worker and manages the Clinical Social Work and Diversity Services department at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. Bruce is a lawyer (I try not to hold it against him!!) and works for Paramount Studios. Scott and Bruce love to travel and make several trips a year to New York City to take in Broadway shows. The four of them just returned from spending Christmas in Paris, France. (My invitation got lost in the mail!) Scott is also is an accomplished violin player and has played professionally for several years. Love ya guys!!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Learning to Sign!!!

This is a photo sent to me by Betsy. It is of me in Chapel at the school for the deaf trying to sign to the praise songs. You can see Jim in the background also trying to keep up with the students. Jim is making much more progress with sign language than I am, but I did learn how to spell my name and say yes and no and some other basic words. The biggest thing is getting over felling uncomfortable with using your hands like that.

Suzanne Pleshette Passes Away

I just learned today that another of the babes of my youth passed away. Suzanne Pleshette passed away on January 19th in Los Angeles from lung cancer at 70 years of age. She is best remembered as Emily Hartly, the wife of Bob Newhart on the series "The Bob Newhart Show" from 1972-1977. She was also in the movie "The Birds" and all the series popular in my youth like Dr. Kildare, Have Gun Will Travel, and Route 66. She also acted on Broadway and did voices in movies like The Lion King. Her first husband was Troy Donahue, but the marriage only lasted eight months. She is survived by her third husband, Tom Poston.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Neil Diamond

Today is Neil Diamond's birthday, He is 67 years old. Neil is both an actor and musician and has been performing for many years. Karen and I saw him live once and he puts on a great show. I also enjoyed him very much in the movie The Jazz Singer.

Johnny Depp

This is for my favorite Johnny Depp fan, you know who you are!!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We made it home!!!

I'm glad to report that Jim and I are home safe and sound. We arrived in "sunny" SoCal at about 4:30 PM to rain, rain, and more rain. Not to mention a temperature of 47 degrees!! Jim is already cold again and had to have the heater on in the truck on the way home. It took us another two hours to get to Jim's house in the rain and rush hour traffic. But we're home and that's always a good thing. It's nice to go away and twice as nice to come home afterward.

I know I can speak for Jim and say a huge THANKS to all of you at the school for the deaf for making our stay a memorable one. We accomplished some stuff and hit the beach as often as possible. I have to add a special THANKS to Fran for cooking for us while we were there. The lady is a whiz in the kitchen. I'm afraid to step on the scale. Fran - I left without getting your email address. Drop me a line when you can.

I want to mention that today is the birthday of my two sisters, Suzie and Kathy. Happy Birthday to you both. I will send along your card when I get settled.

Ah, it's good to be home!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

PR trip coming to an end

It's been raining a lot over the weekend and so our beach trips were cut short. I woke to rain over night on Monday and then it poured most of the morning Monday. I'll bet we got over 4" of rain in just that short amount of time.

Jim did manage to paint the ceilings of Betsy's kitchen and living room on Monday. The highlight of the weekend was taking Jenny to a local dive shop and buying her a new snorkel mask for her birthday. As you can see in the photo to the left, Jim was doing his best to advise Jenny on her purchase with Joinallie looking on in the mirror. Jilissa and I stood back and watched the action as the shop owner came to Jenny's aid and helped her purchase a very nice red one.

We went out to dinner last night at a local Puerto Rican/Cuban restaurant. It was very tasty. I wasn't quite so daring this time and stuck with shredded beef.

We just had a 5 minute cloud burst, which is normal for the afternoon. We are hoping it will all clear away by 3:30 when school lets out so we can make one last trip to the beach. Then we will be on our way home tomorrow morning on an 11:00 AM flight. We stop over in Fort Laurderdale for an hour and then on to LAX. We should be in LAX around 4:30pm.

In looking back, I think we got a lot done on this trip. We also made some new friends and caught up with some old ones. Can't ask for more than that. Looks like the sun is coming out. I'm sure I won't have to twist Jim's arm to go to the beach in an hour. So long from Puerto Rico.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's been a lazy kinda weekend here in Puerto Rico. Jilissa and I went to church this morning at the Maranatha Baptist Church and then met the other group for lunch at Chili's. I managed to find time for a wonderful Sunday afternoon nap. Haven't seen much of Betsy as she is fighting a terrible cold.

The photo to the left was taken this evening as the sun set behind what was just a little while ago a cloud burst. You can just make out the full moon in the background. This evening people are spread out all over the school. Some are in the library watching the football playoffs. I believe Jim is in the girl's dorm still wrestling with the electrical problem in their kitchen. Yesterday Jim replaced a heating element in the solar water heating system which can be used to heat the water when there is no sun for an extended period of time. This morning I had a very nice hot shower

Last night Jilissa challenged me to a game of scrabble and boasted an easy win over her slower and older opponent. I promptly beat her twice in a row, winning for the baby boomer generation.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

No wonder they're so loud!!!

Victory in Iraq??

I read an article this morning from entitled, For Bush and McCain, Iraqis are Merely, "Ropes for America's Dirty Laundry" by Walter H. Uhler. A portion of the article read;

Bush’s prediction of victory is even more Orwellian. How can a needless war predicated upon lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and links to al Qaeda ever yield a victory? How can anyone claim victory when almost 4,000 American soldiers have been killed - and at least another 10,000 severely wounded — for a needless war?

Victory? How can a needless war yield victory when it precipitated widespread ethnic cleansing - of as many as 600,000 to 700,000 residents in Baghdad alone - caused the needless death of at least 250,000 (if not more than a million) Iraqi civilians and chased some 4.5 million Iraqis from their homes and neighborhoods?

Middle East scholar Juan Cole got it right when he observed: “I am often struck by how clueless the American public is to the vast destruction we have wrought on Iraq and its people, directly or indirectly. It strikes me as a bitter joke that four million are displaced, often facing hunger and disease, and rightwing periodicals and presidential candidates are talking about how the ’surge’ has ‘turned things around.’” The entire article can be read at;

Some people ask if I support our troops? I support our troops, but I don't think that the task that we currently have them involved in is in the best interest of the United States or the people of the Middle East. The people of Iraq seem to feel it's time for us to get out and let them sort out their problems on their own. We did what we claimed we wanted to do, and that was to get rid of Saddam and his threat of "weapons of mass destruction." There is no further reason to occupy their country. But President Bush won't leave. I believe he will push for a permanent base there so our troops can protect the oil needed by our country.

As I continue to ask, when is enough, enough???

Retirement Congrats!!!

This is Fran Wells, aka Fran Benson. Fran's first official day of retirement was yesterday. (Friday) Jim and I are helping her acclimate herself gracefully into the wonderful world of retirement. Fran spent 30 years teaching, which in itself should qualify her for a purple heart. She taught 15 years of high school at Wayland H.S. and another 15 years teaching business administration at Corning Community College. Both schools are in Steuben County in New York State. Fran was raised on a farm with her parents Arlene and Norm Benson, who are also here at the school. She also found time to raise a son and a daughter, and I believe if I'm not mistaken is a proud Grandma.

Fran is here at the school for three months doing a wonderful job cooking for the students, and a delicious breakfast each morning for Jim and me. She is also tackling the awesome project of organizing the office here at the school. I've also seen her keeping a close eye on her parents who are both in their 80's. If you know Fran, you know that a rocking chair is not in her immediate future. Her future plans include doing some part-time teaching and writing a book on the Benson family history. I suggested she start a blog and she seemed open to that as well.

I had to go and specifically take this photo of her this morning because in looking over the photos I've taken since I've been here, she wasn't in one of them. That pretty much sums up how she operates around here. She's usually working hard in the background (much like me !!) making sure all the I's are dotted and the T's crossed. She has a wonderfully giving spirit and a great big heart. I'm sure there isn't anything she can't accomplish in this new and exciting stage of her life. Congratulations Fran and welcome to retirement!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Breaking News!!!

This was the headline on this morning;

CIA: Al-Qaida behind Bhutto slaying

Now I know that Al-Qaida is not the Boy Scouts but when is our government going to stop blaming every bad think that happens in the world on them? And how much creditability does the CIA have anymore after 9-11? It seems like the government has cried wolf too many times to be taken seriously. You watch, President Bush will find a link between this assassination and Iran so that he can go charging into Iran with guns a blazin' to get more of our young men and women killed and wounded and kill thousands more innocent civilians.

As I've said before, when is enough enough!!!

A "snow day" in Puerto Rico

Woke up this morning to rain and it has been raining on and off all morning. The rain comes in wave after wave with sunshine in between. You can see the rain approaching over the hill and coming towards you like a curtain of water. When the sun comes out it gets warm and muggy. So I have taken a "snow day" which for you westerners is a day off from school because there is too much snow for the buses to run. I can't really power wash with all the rain, although as wet as I get power washing, the rain probably wouldn't make much difference. I thought it would be a good time to catch up my blog.

One of the interesting things about this school for the deaf is that they have a bell choir. Some of the students have some hearing, but for the most, they have no hearing at all. And yet, they play the bells and make beautiful music. In the photo to the left, Betsy and Jenny are working with the young children who are just learning to play the bells. Betsy plans to take several of the students to the states this summer on a tour to play the bells at churches. They play at churches and schools around Puerto Rico regularly. When they are practicing you can hear the bells all over the campus. They sound great.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Jenny

This is Jenny Johnson. Jenny had a birthday yesterday (Wednesday) turning the ripe old age of 24. Jim and I told her we would buy her a new snorkel mask for her birthday, but she has to go to the store with us to pick it out and try it on. Those things aren't a one size fits all deal apparently.

Jenny is in her second year of teaching here at the deaf school. She teaches primarily the very young kids and does a wonderful job. She is from the Southern California area and she and her family attend Jim's church. It has been my extreme pleasure to meet her and get to know her better. In this photo she is doing her impression of Vanna White showing off her lady of the night plant. It's two buds had just opened up and she was so excited. She has quite the green thumb and has a variety of plants in various stages of growth on her patio. Happy Birthday Jenny!!!

Jim and I have been working real hard the last couple of days. We rented a second power sprayer and power washed everything in sight. Today Jim finished most of it with just a portion of the basketball court to go. We were both so tired last night that Jim was in bed by 8:45 and I was in bed by 9:30.

I moved into Jim's room today to make room for more Canadians. We now have five couples from Canada. They are four sisters and their husbands, and a brother and his wife. Apparently there are two more brothers who couldn't make it. I already learned that many of them live in a village instead of a town. I could only picture spear chuckers running around shrinking heads and stuff like that. They assured me that that wasn't the case.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Coqui

This tiny little frog is called the coqui or el coqui. As you can see it is no larger that the face of my watch and yet it makes a very loud sound which sounds like someone is whistling or saying cookie. The first time I came to Puerto Rico I had a hard time sleeping because of all the noise they make at night. I would have to close my windows to muffle the sound. I was on the phone with Karen one night when she asked me what all the noise was in the background. It was the coquis. If it rains during the night, they are even louder.

Today we worked up until about 3:00 PM before heading off to the beach. I washed a couple of cars and helped Jim grout the shower wall he has been working on since we got here. I had the all-important job of rinsing out the sponges as Jim wiped the excess grout from the tile. The new tile turned out very nice. Jim did an excellent job. We went to blue beach, which is the one in the photograph in the header of my blog. The water seemed a little warmer and there are some waves at blue beach.

We have picked up two new people at the school over the weekend. Jerry and Sharon Martin are from Canada and here for two weeks. Jerry worked at the school years ago before hurricane Hugo blew through and destroyed the school. He helped rebuild the school and has returned most every year since to work and be with the children. They will be joined later this week by Sharon's three sisters and their husbands and a brother-in-law I think and his wife. Jim and I will be moving into one small room this weekend when the last of the group arrives. Should be loads of fun as the Canadians are such fun to tease.

We have also been visited by a snowbird by the name of Margaret Upperman. She is a 91 year old black woman from New Jersey. She sure looks great for her age. We got her talking about her growing up in South Carolina and going to all black schools, riding in the back of the bus, and being afraid to go out at night because of KKK members on horseback. What stories she can tell. She has a wonderful spirit and has no hatred in her heart. Her eyes were just so full of live!!

The second photo posted is from our horseback ride on the beach yesterday. As you can see it was a beautiful day and the beach looked great.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I ate Octopus!!!

After a great morning riding horses, we stopped at this sidewalk type cafe for some authentic PR food. I had no idea what they were ordering for me so it came as a bit of a surprise when I found out it was octopus!! It came in a dish with some yellow rice that contained peas and pieces of shrimp, mussels, and of course the octopus. Some of the octopus was a little chewy, but overall it was actually quite tasty. If you look closely at the photo of the plate of food you can see in the lower right hand side a piece of octopus and see the little suckers on it!!!

Had I known what I was getting I might have balked a little, but I am getting to where I am much more adventurous about food than I was a few years ago. They also had some clear hot sauce with red and green peppers floating in it that was quite tasty as well. It wasn't quite as hot as the "burn your lips off" sauce from the pinchos place.

The laugh of the day was when Jilissa, who is 19 years old and just the nicest girl, tried to say tentacles and came out with testicles!! You know we won't let her live that down for awhile!!

Puerto Rican Holiday

Today is a national holiday in Puerto Rico in honor of the guy who was instrumental in starting the educational system on the island. I don't remember his name. So we took the day off and went on holiday. Our first stop was at an equestrian center where we rented horses for a ride along the beach. We each got mounted up and were off on a slow trip down to the beach. My horse was one of the slower horses and lagged at the rear throughout the trip. I'm sure it didn't take him long to figure out that I didn't know what the heck I was doing. He even came to a stop once and I couldn't get him going again. Then Jim told me the horse was peeing and that

he would start again on his own when he was done, which he did. We went out on the beach for about a half mile and that was very nice. There was a cool breeze and clear skies. On the way back my horse trotted a couple of times. I'm sure he just wanted to get back and get me off his back. Jim and I were joined by Betsy, Jilissa, and Jenny. We all got a bit of sun and a great time was had by all.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

If you are interested in helping the Evangelical School for the Deaf here in Puerto Rico there is an easy and painless way to do it. There is a search engine called "Good Search" that donates a penny or so for each search done in the name of your favorite charity. You can go to and type in the following name, Evangelical School for the Deaf (Luquillo, PR), under who you are searching for and then do your searches. The school made about $1300 last year just from people searching on this site. So if you are interested in lending a hand to a good cause, give it a try.
Thanks in advance!!

Pinchos for dinner!!!

Tonight we went to Peggy and Jerry's for pinchos. As you can see from the photo, Peggy and Jerry's is nothing more that a sidewalk cafe. It only serves pinchos and drinks. Pinchos are basically shishcabobs made of pork, chicken, or shrimp served on a wood skewer. They are covered with one of three types of bar-b-Que sauce, mild, hot, and burn your lips off. They are also served with a couple of pieces of sourdough bread. I got the pork with the burn your lips off sauce. Very Tasty!!! The little cafe has about six tables in all and is busy most of the time. I'm sure I'm going to pay for these later tonight.

Then we went to a local resort called El Conquistador. It has a casino and lots of shops, including a Starbucks!! So I played a penny machine for about 30 minutes on a twenty dollar bill and walked away with $20.04. I also got to indulge in a mocha frappacino. Doesn't' get any better than that!!

Great day at the beach

Spent a great day at the beach on Saturday. This is the seven seas beach in Fajardo. If you look at the map on a previous post, this beach is just to the right of that little peninsula at the N/E corner of Puerto Rico. The land mass in the background of this photo is that peninsular. The water is cooler this time of the year than when I was here last year in July, but still warmer than the Pacific Ocean. This is their winter and so it's a little cooler, less humid, and the ocean water is a little cooler. The sand on the beaches here have a different consistency than our beaches.

This second photo is taken looking to my right and out into the Caribbean Sea. The bathing beauty in the photo is Jilissa, who is an intern here at the deaf school. She is here from New York State and will be here through the end of this school year. She wants to be a deaf interpreter when she grows up.

The bathing beauty in the third photo is Jim doing a little snorkling. He said he saw a whale, or at least a fish as long as he can stretch his arms. Sounds like one of his fishing stories!!!

Saturday in Puerto Rico

This is a photo of the Eiffel Tower in Paris that my son Scott sent me while there over the Christmas Holidays last year. For some reason my invitation to the trip got lost in the mail, and by the time I heard of the trip I was otherwise booked. :-(

It looks like we're off to the beach this morning to do some snorkeling and general laying around. It looks like it's going to be another nice day here, sunny and about 82 degrees. I'll send more when I return from the beach.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Howdy from PR

Howdy from sunny Puerto Rico. Today I spent
a good part of the day using the power sprayer taking the mold off of the cement walkways and driveways. Since it's so damp here, a layer of purple mold forms on everything. It takes a power washer to get it off. In the photo above you can see where I power washed part of the driveway leading to the tool shed. The white part is the clean area and the dark is the area covered with mold. It's kind of a yucky job, but it has to be done. All of the cement areas were power washed six months ago when I was here, so this layer has formed since then. The mold is real slippery to walk on when it gets wet.

The photo to the left is of Jim washing off some paint from the sidewalk in front of the Kitchen. He and a local volunteer did about 45 minutes of painting with Jim's paint sprayer and then it rained for the next 45 minutes washing off part of their work. The entire school is painted in the aqua blue and white that you see in this picture.

In the foreground you can see a flag pole. Each morning the students meet in the court yard and raise the U.S. and Puerto Rico flags and sign the pledge of allegiance before going to chapel. In chapel the students sign songs and have prayer. Today we had a guest speaker, Pastor Motta, who comes periodically to present a lesson to the students in sign language. I've learned to sign please & thank you, yes and no, and mother and father.

This next photo is of Jim doing some tile work in one of the showers in the boy's dorm. Yes that is pink tile. It was once the girl's dorm until a new building was built. We couldn't find any tile to match that pink (what a surprise!!) so we went with a gray that sorta matches the floor tile. Jim tore down and rebuilt this entire wall, including putting in new fixtures the last time we were here and no one picked up the ball and did the tile while we were gone. Jim hopes to have this done in a couple more days. The poor baby worked so hard in there today that he was in bed by 8:40 tonight.

I went to see the movie "I am Legend" with Smith tonight. The movie had Spanish subtitles and the walls were so thin, we could hear the movie next door. Oh well, it was a good movie.

That's about it from here for tonight. It is actually 1:30 am right now, but I can sleep in tomorrow. I think we are going to the beach tomorrow. :-) More later.

Good Morning from PR!!

The photo shows my humble digs while staying here in Puerto Rico. The other three beds are empty right now, but a work party is due to arrive this weekend so Jim and I may be rooming together.

Yesterday I spent the day sweeping & mopping classroom and office floors. At about 1:30 in the afternoon a storm passed through and it rained buckets for about 45 minutes. In SoCal if it had rained like that all the freeway underpasses would be flooded and there would have been mudslides and car crashes everywhere. Within 30 minutes after it stopped, everything was pretty dry and there was nary a clue that it had rained. The teachers here laughed at me for stopping and watching the rain.

Last night we went to church at the local Maranatha Baptist Church. The pastor is Alan Hamilton who is an ex-marine from Texas. Quite a nice guy, although a bit conservative for my taste. After church we made a quick stop at the local Cold Stone Creamery for some ice cream.

Jim and I were both in the sack by 10:00 PM after a hard days work. Today looks like another nice day, although as I look out the window, I see clouds approaching. I better get to work before Jim finds me!!