Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


Get 'em, Granny.

Things around these parts seem to have devolved into posts about my garden, my kids, or my cats, with the occasional recipe or vaguely hunting related post figured in.  Not much about the real world.

That's because anytime I go looking at the real world for anything to talk about, I just get sad.

Except for this story...it kind of made me smile...a bit.

89-year-old woman fights off sword wielding robber with golf club

I get the feeling that they guy doing the robbing was not a professional. 

Boy oh boy.  I am sometimes unhappy with my job...but I am blessed that it prevents from having to rob stores with a sword, where I get chased off by an 89-year old woman, before making my escape on a BMW.

Moses Lake is a little bit over an hour from here up on I-90...next time I'm swing through town, I will have to visit Frank's Superette and throw a little something in the tip jar. 


It took a while, but...

So, about two weeks ago, we brought home a new kitten

The last time we brought home a new kitten, we were pleasantly surprised at how well our old, fat cat got along with the new kitten.   Surprised, and WAY spoiled.

This time around, things were a little different.  As soon as we brought the kitten in the house, there was hissing back and forth, even while the kitten stayed in the cat carrier.  When we let her out, there was no war...just more glaring and the occasional hiss if the cats got to close to each other. 

That was the status for a few days...the occasional nose sniff, which then turned into a quick hiss, or snarl, and then running away from each other.

As the week went on, the nose sniffing increased, and the hissing and jumping decreased, until my wife sent me this picture today.

Let's say it all together now: Awwwwww.


Now, that is GOOD.

Several weeks ago, while buzzing through a Trader Joe's near my mom's house, on a total whim we picked up a jar of 'Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl'.

After buying it(wrong order!) I found out the Speculoos is a type of shortbread cookie, and that in Europe it is available in a spread form.  So...shortbread and chocolate swirl.  Even after the fact, that sounds pretty okay...but with no immediate need for it, it went out into the garage.

Until I came home from work today.  It was not a good day...and I can't even really say why.  Oh...not for security or anything....it's just...not good.  Lacking in satisfaction and fulfillment.  Just kind of a pity party type of day.  SO...I went home and opened up this bad boy.  I guess on one hand it's a step-up....in years back after a day like this, I would have popped open a beer or three, or hit a fast food drive-through(yeah, I'm an emotional eater). 

I was totally unprepared for the party in my mouth that was going to come out of this jar.  In fact, as I put a second spoonful in my mouth, there was only one way I could describe it.

Days of Future Past

One of the things I did make time for while my wife and kids were out of town was the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie, and I'm glad I did.

If you are a X-men comic book fan, then you will have heard of the Days of Future Past Story Line: It's time travel....to change a dark, dark future, the minds of one of the X-men is sent back into their younger body to try to change things. Specifically, they are trying to stop the creation of the Sentinels, mutant hunting robots who soon exceed their programming and take over the world(basically).

In the comics, Kitty Pride(Shadow Cat) is sent back.  In the movie, it's Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. 

I thought it was a good movie.  I've been anticipating it since they first announced it...and it lived up to my expectations, which was a fairly high bar.  The acting was really good...I'd watch Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawerence, and Hugh Jackman, and Peter Dinklage order Chinese food. The only negative is that there isn't enough time for all of them. 

The action scenes got me to plow through plenty of popcorn.  The scenes set in the future are amazing...well choreographed to show the type of teamwork you would expect from people who have spent 15 years fighting for their lives.

Does the 'time travel' McGuffin fix everything?  Probably not...there are still a few things you just need to take on faith(but let's face it, it's a movie about time travel, superpowered mutants, and flying robots...you're probably willing to bend a bit on belief).  It cleans enough things up to allow them to keep the series moving forward.

On an overall comic book movie scale, I rank this movie pretty highly.  Top 5,certainly...up near The Black Knight, Avengers, and X2. It's better than Godzilla was a few weeks ago.

Now to look forward to Guardians of the Galaxy.


Not sure I can improve.

It's Memorial Day.  Last year, I put up what I believe to be a good post, looking to the actual meaning behind the poem 'In Flanders Field', showing that it is not as anti-war as some folks would have you think. 

It all comes down to the final stanza for me...and while last year, I thought it was about Supporting the Cause(kind of a 'next man up) feeling...I'm seeing more now.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Those last few lines...it's about more than just carrying on...it's about 'making it worthwhile'.  Kind of the sentiment that Tom Hanks is trying to get across at the end of Saving Private Ryan when he pulls Matt Damon's character in close and tells him " Earn This".  Make the sacrifice worthwhile...justify my sacrifice.

I'm not 100% certain I am doing that everyday.  Hell...that's lying.  I am 100% certain I am NOT doing that Everyday.  I'm not even 50% certain I am doing it 50% of days.  I'm not sure what I could do to be worthy of that sacrifice.  I try to live a good life.  When I can(when it doesn't hurt to much, again, let's be honest here), I help others with less than me.  I'm not as active into charity or politics as I could be. 

I do do what I can everyday to make my wife and kids smile. 

I hope that, AND saying thank you, is enough.


The Garden

You'll have to forgive me, for two reasons: one, I'm not quite sure where the better camera is...it got stuck somewhere when we got back from San Diego, just not sure where, so the pictures aren't the best.  Also, this is one of those posts that is just as much for me, so I can remember things, as it for you fine folks out there.

So...that's the main garden area, with my 6 raised beds.  From left to right: Tomatoes in the front bed, tomatoes/tomatillos in the back, the middle has peppers/summer squash in the front bed, and peppers/cucumbers in the back, and finally, to the right, there are cherry tomatoes/winter squash in the front bed, and in the back there is cauliflower, and a cucumber, and winter squash again. 

I'm kind of stumped, because in the right side bed, my cherry tomatoes look OUTSTANDING so far.

Meanwhile, in the left-hand beds, my tomatoes look, well...not as outstanding.

Hmmmm.  It could be 3 threes(well, many things I'm sure, but only three that come to my simple mind): Too much shade(it is the shadier half of the garden), the soil is not as good, or I didn't do a good enough job of breaking up the roots
I just don't know how patient I want to  be.  I've already decided that I am going to replace the tomatoes in the rear bed...they look even sadder than the ones in the front bed.
Other than the raised bed, my beans are starting to look pretty good, having survived some early chewing on.  They are at the stage now that I walk by once or twice a day and help convince the beans to wrap around the twine.
Finally, I have my container garden. 
We've got some cauliflower, two of kale, two of tomatoes, and then the one on the very right is pumpkin...little sugar pumpkins.
Now, one thing I am committed to this year is pumping extra goodies into my plants...the ones in containers, raised beds, or even the ground.  We have no shortage of eggs, so those get crushed and added to the soil, and then I've been making compost tea, AND in one of those 'don't hurt, might help' things, I've been adding Epsom salt to the soil as I plant, and then weekly when I water(one tablespoon per gallon).  The magnesium and sulfur are supposed to help.
It's still not even June, so I don't want to give up on anything too soon.  One of my goals for the year was to start as much as I could from seed, and see if it worked.  It's why I'll probably keep those slightly stunted looking tomatoes going...



Well, one step closer anyway.

I haz made a pretty in my garden!

Those are the first two flowers from the Fairy Squash seeds that I started back in March.  Now, obviously...this isn't a flower garden, and the pretties aren't goal...but it's not a negative either.

Not success yet, but one step closer.  As I take advantage of this weekend alone to get some gardening done, you might have to sit through more pictures later...but pride compels me to weed the garden before taking any more pictures. 


Supply run!

I'm kind of 'batching' it the first part of this weekend.  My wife and kids have headed to the other side of the state to visit the World's Greatest Nana.  There is a wedding come up in July, and this is the weekend for dress fittings and cake tastings. 

When the plans were initially made to do that this weekend, I don't believe a calendar was consulted.  I think that all parties involved were used to Memorial Day weekend being at the END of May...so I volunteered to stay behind and take care of cats, and chickens, and catch up on some yard work. Oh, there might also be some lounging around in my skivvies and catching a movie involved also(hopefully I remember to put the pants back on before movies or yard work).

To be sure I could make it to Sunday though, I had to hit the grocery store this morning.

The wine is a rose that we had previously purchased onsite at a smaller local winery...I was excited to find it in a store, so I bought a bottle to replace the one we drank last week.  The beer is Session Black, which is I highly recommend, and in the packages there is 6 pounds of bacon. 

I probably won't get to the wine this weekend...but the others, well...challenge accepted.  Luckily, I had a couple of bottle of beer in the fridge already incase I get dry mouth. 

Sad Gardener Face

Man...sometimes the weather here in Eastern Washington can be really frustrating.  We just don't have much of a 'spring'.  We go from day time highs in the 40's to day time highs in the 80's very rapidly. 

As a result, some vegetables are tougher to grow than others.  For about the 3rd year in a row, I am not pleased with my spinach.

We're not even into June yet, and both my pots of spinach are starting to bolt already. 

I can guarantee you, this makes my chickens much happier than it makes me.  We had one salad for dinner last week using some of our spinach...and that is about the only use it looks like I am going to get out of it.  My kale and lettuce are still doing good....I just might have to start focusing on spinach as entirely a fall crop. 


You volunteered

At rehearsal tonight for The Sound of Music, my daughter got to try on her costume.

It's entirely possible that you don't remember any little goats from The Sound of Music...because, I don't think there are any.  But...the director of our production decided that there were so many talented/cute young kids that they added a group of them to sing The Goat Herd song at the final festival to give the Von Trapp kids some competition that you never see in the movie. 

So...my daughter is going to be a goat 'puppet' controlled by one of the older kids.

Welcome to show biz, kiddo. 


Technically, it's a good thing.

Well, it looks like I am going to get to make 2 trips to California within a 6 week period.  A few months ago, my older daughter completed a couple of online exams, and then last week, quite out of the blue, we got an e-mail inviting my daughter to come to Los Angeles to audition for the Jeopardy Kids Week.

As someone who takes the online Jeopardy screening exam every time I can, I am extremely proud of my daughter.  We have already booked the plane tickets for her and I to fly down to Los Angeles in the middle of June to attend the audition.

Yes, I am a very proud father...but...I do kind of wish I had been able to find out how many kids are being invited to Los Angeles for this next step in the process.  If she does good, and she is invited to actually compete on the show, then travel expenses are paid for.  Going down for the audition though?  Entirely out of pocket.  And a semi-last minute(less than a months notice) flight to LA plus a hotel and rental car, are not cheap. 

Hey...it's all well and good to say 'I will spare no expense for my child's happiness...but this is the real world.  I wish we had been able to work this into the trip we just MADE to California. 

At least I'm not trying to go super-cheap and say we are driving down and back this time. 

Now the only thing I need to do is get my daughter to start practicing her Sean Connery accent. 


She must be stopped.

Submitted without comment(in mute horror).


Kill 'em all.

One of my garden chores yesterday was getting some twine installed for my runner beans to climb up.  Yes...they are planted right near my chain link fence, but I'd rather they not actually climb the fence.  So, my original plan was putting in some kind of netting, but that proved to be an order of magnitude more expensive than just running some twine from anchors up to the top of the fence.

I've been rather impressed by the beans so far(I mean, as impressed as I can be without actually getting any beans to eat yet)...I have had almost an 80% sprout rate, and the plants all look healthy...but looks can be deceiving.  Upon closer inspection, my beans seem to fall into three categories:

Happy Beans

Slightly Chewed On Beans

Totally Destroyed Beans

Very Sad.  I'm not sure which particular beastie is doing this...just during the short time I was out there I saw ants, pill bugs, and ear wigs...all the type of bugs one would expect in a garden.  Now...I would prefer to blast them with chemicals, but since much of the green in my yard is going to end up getting fed to the chickens at some point, I try to avoid chemical pesticides.  I have a sprayer of homemade stuff(mostly diluted soap and some cinnamon oil), but I also have a bag of Diatomaceous Earth that I occasionally sprinkle into the chicken coop, and around my containers of veggies.
By the time I was done with my beans, it looked like the bathroom counter at Club 54(a 70's reference!)

That might be a bit overkill.  It also probably won't be as efficient as I hoped.  I skipped a watering cycle to give it more time to work...but, I'm potentially wasting my time, anyways.  Even the beans that we looking chewed on were growing skyward. 

Still, I'd feel lame if I didn't try something.


For my Birthday Date Night last night, I decided that going to a movie sounded like a good plan.  If my birthday was next weekend, the choice would have been easier...the new X-Men movie opens next weekend, and that is one of the top 2 or 3 movies on my list this year.

There were a few movies that interested me this weekend...the new comedy Neighbors, Captain America 2 was still playing...and then there was Godzilla. As I have said before, I was initially not that interested in the Godzilla remake/reboot...but, of the movies playing this weekend, Godzilla had the most 'Need to see it on the Big Screen' factor.

It was worth it, I think. We actually paid the extra money to see the 3D version.  Part of my justification for that was that hopefully the extra coin would help to keep the riff-raff out on opening weekend.

I don't want to give away too much...but, it was good.  I mean, like 1600% better than the Mathew Broderick version from 1998.  Obviously, the most recent comparison would probably be Pacific Rim. I would say that Godzilla is a better movie than Pacific Rim...better actors, an actual plot(even if there were two or three things that caused me to sigh in regards to our military and nuclear power) and, some satisfying monster on monster action. 

However, I think beginning to end, Pacific Rim was a more entertaining movie...I plowed through much more popcorn and soda during Pacific Rim than Godzilla. 

I'm much more intrigued by the trailer we saw for 'Lucy' now, than I was for Godzilla.


A day like any other.

Well, it's official.  I am creeping towards old age.  Life Level: Curmudgeon, here I come!

Yup...it's my birthday, and the last one that I can still say I am in my Late 30's for.

The day started out like most days.  I am a chronically early riser, and the family has almost zero chance of preparing me breakfast in bed...so they don't usually try.  It's easier to plan on going out for breakfast on my birthday, and that's what we did. 

Before that though, I had to get some work done out in the yard.  I had been trouble finding the type of peppers I wanted to put in the garden last week...everyone had hot peppers in stock, vice the sweet peppers I want...and when I did find sweet peppers, they were almost $3.50 a piece for single plants in a 4" pot.  Sheesh.

Luckily, during my training lunch break Thursday, I had a chance to hit one of the smaller local nurseries, where I found a few different types of sweet peppers, available in pony packs for under two bucks.  I bought a few of those, and then on a lark, bought a pony pack of tomatillos, and another of sugar pumpkins.  Those will be interesting to try to grow vertically. 

Despite keeping them in the shade, and plenty wet, I felt like buying them Thursday and holding on to them until Saturday was as far as I could push my luck, so at 8am this morning, I was putting them into the ground.  After that, I had to go around and stake up all my tomatoes, and tomatillos and sun flowers.  The veggies will get something closer to cages as the season goes on, but for now, stakes will keep them on the straight and narrow.

Breakfast was good, and will merit further discussion.  I could swear I have talked about the Sage Port Grille before, but...I can't find it in my back posts to link about.  More to follow on that one...

After breakfast, we went out to buy my birthday present. 

Although, since I haven't had a chance to hold her yet, I'm not sure how you can say she is mine. 
We needed a 2nd cat.  Since we had to put Rueben down...Dahlia hasn't been the same.  She sleeps WAY more than she did when we had two cats.  Part of that is she is getting older...at 2, she is not a kitten anymore...but she is also used to other cats.  She was born at the pound, and then came right home with us to find Rueben already established. 
We are hoping that here and this new kitten get along.  Time will tell...after some initial hissing at the kitten in it's carrier, they have been playing the 'ignore' game.  Better than a snarling cat fight.


Well, that's over.

Things have been light around here lately...I've been in requalification training this week, so my evenings have involved a certain amount of cramming for my test.  I brought all my study guides to San Diego, but strangely enough, I didn't get much studying done there.  Heck...I'm just happy I remembered to bring them all home. 

It's been three years, but I'm still adjusting to the difference between the test here and the tests I used to take at PSNS. The big difference is, well...multiple choice!  Oh, there are a few different 'key words and tricky phrases', but, the multiple choice vs. short answer/essay is the main one.

Anyway...it looks like I might be over-studying...I got a 95 on my test today. 

Tomorrow is a new day, with a new crises...and it's the first day in almost 2 weeks I need to go all the way out to my office.  I kind of(well, REALLY) wish I could take it off...but I only earn 2 weeks off a year, and so after taking 6 days off to go to San Diego, I really can't afford to not go in just because 'I don't want to!' 


I'm not sure I blame him.

While on vacation the last week or so, I must admit I didn't follow the news very much, because, well...the real world sucks...and I was on vacation, and didn't want to be reminded that the world sucked. 

On the way home, there were some sections of the road where we had NO choice in what we listened to on the radio, and the real world was unavoidable. 

One of the stories that caught my interest was that of Police Officer Stephen Stem.  According to the news reports we heard, Stephen Stem had just been fired from his job because of his involvement in the shooting death of a 93-year old woman in Texas.  Because it was the radio, the story was lacking in details.  They said that it appeared that the 93-year old woman failed a driving test, and began brandishing a gun outside her house.  The officer responded to the 911 call, and shot her.  The city council responded to the uproar this caused by firing him.

Hardly enough detail there for a serious minded fella to draw any real conclusion from. 

Since getting home, I haven't been able to find much more detail than what was on the radio. 

Yes, it appears that the 93-year kind of snapped after failing a driving test, and brandished a revolver.  The police were called.  A new piece of info not on the radio is that she fired two rounds off, into the ground, after the police arrived.  The officer did then fire his gun, resulting in the death of the 93-year old lady. 

The community did lose their mind, and the city council fired him. 

With the paucity of details....I am not sure I blame the officer for taking the shots.  The lady had a gun.  She fired two rounds off after the police were there...and yes, they went into the ground, but dangit...she had a gun, and she had proven she had the finger strength to pull the trigger.  That is a recipe for disaster.  With those details...I feel he was justified in pulling the trigger.  Could he have tried his Taser?  I guess...but that causes muscle spasms...and I am not sure that is less dangerous to anyone. 

I also don't blame the city council for doing what they did.  Reading around the edges of the story...we have a young white police officer who has shot an elderly, African-American female.  A riot was brewing.  It is also buried in one of the stories that this is the 2nd shooting that this particular officer has been involved in since 2012. 

Of course, details on that one are even tougher to find than this most recent one, so good luck trying to draw any kind of conclusion, other than this was a very unfortunate event.



Yesterday was Mothers Day, and it was also a day of rest and recuperation for my family.  For three of the four of us, it was it was the first time in over a week where we didn't have to get in the car.  The girls got to play in their bedrooms, and play with their full Lego collections in the family room.  They got to sit around and play with our cat(who was very happy to see us...she was vey lonely while we were gone). 

I had a pretty slack day.  I did have to get dressed and leave the house for a bit...we needed milk, and bread, and I had to buy a few things to make a pot of soup.  For Mothers Day, my wife wanted a pot of my Zuppa Toscana, and so I obliged her.  We are on the verge of summer here...temps are expected to be in the mid-80's most of the next week, and so the clock on 'soup weather' is rapidly running out.

I took Monday off work as part of my vacation.  There had been about a 30% chance that we weren't going to make it back in one day, and if we had had to stop, it was going to be at such a point that we weren't going to get home until Sunday evening...and I knew I was going to want a day to recover.  I can't be quite as lazy today.  The front yard needs mowing BAD, and the back yard could use it too. I have a few decisions to make in my garden.  I need to pick up some peppers, and I am trying to decide how long to wait on my cucumber seeds to pop up before I just buy some starter plants.  The tomatoes that I started indoors look like they are doing good, as are both the winter and summer squash. 

But...I can still finish my cup of coffee and try to ignore the fact that I am going back to work tomorrow. 


Well, that wasn't that bad.

Well, we did it.  San Diego to our place in the Tri-Cities in one day.  We left San Diego at 0520, and pulled into our drive way at 2345.

According to all the online map programs, there were two main ways to do this trip: Head up I-5 to Weed, Ca, then swing up through Central, Oregon on US-97 to I-84(which runs across the top of Oregon) to the Columbia River Bridge on I-82 OR swing East out of San Diego on I-15, I-115, I-215, and then up the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway on a variety of smaller roads that eventually lead you to US97 through western Nevada, up into Oregon, then Idaho, where you get on I-84, back into Oregon, and eventually to I-82.

Whew.  Most map programs considered this just about a coin flip, with about half-an-hour difference.  I agonized for a bit, but eventually, after the harrowing traffic experience I had had earlier in the week when we went into LA to visit a few museums, we decided to take the more rural route.

Without sending a drone simulating my driving techniques up the I-5 corridor, there is no way to KNOW that we made the correct decision...but I really can't imagine that route being faster...and I know it wasn't prettier. 
It's funny how each type of desert looks a little different, and has it's own form of pretty.  It's also interesting to see of the conditions our fellow human beings, even here in America, live in. The route we went through brings some SMALL centers of population, where people are scratching out a living. 
It was also a good lesson in how geography can effect weather.  Granted we had a car full of clothes and supplies, but we were dressed in comfortable style for the marathon drive, meaning shorts and t-shirts for the most part.  This left us woefully unprepared for the 41 degrees and hail in McDermitt, at the Nevada/Oregon border, one of those towns eeking it out at 4400 feet. 
Home.  Yes, I have had my family with me, so in a way, I have never not been home...but it's nice to have a night in my bed, and Mothers Day promises to be a 'lazy day', or at least as lazy as my conscience will let it be.  I'm looking forward to seeing my attempt at gardening in the light of day.
And maybe a nap at some point for dad and mom.


Packing it in(and up).

We spent our final day in San Diego in a kind of mellow manner.  Instead of an 'open to close' theme park visit, we stated close to our rental in North Park, and visited a few museums and gardens in Balboa Park. 

We started at the Museum of Man(an anthropology museum) before leaving the park for lunch, and then heading back in to visit the Air and Space Museum.

As you can  tell...I think our little group was starting to suffer from burnout.  Usually, my older daughter would be jumping for joy to pose with the Sasquatch-like Gigantopithecus.

Or maybe I just take pictures at the wrong time.  Either way...there WERE plenty of smiles...and it was a good last day. No running around...we got to places when we got to them, while being back at our rental by 5 to start packing things up. 
Tomorrow is going to be a LONG day. We are having pipe dreams of driving straight through.  On the way down, we planned out the stops at Sequoia National Park, and then the museums in L.A. Nothing like that is planned for the return...and we are hoping we can hit the road at 5AM, and get home between mid-night and 1AM.  I've never tried anything like that...but...due to the way that Eastern Oregon/Idaho are spread out...we either stop 8 hours out, or we push on to finish...there isn't much out there closer than that.  If we stop 8 hours out, then we just need to share another hotel room, before I start pacing at 7AM to get back out on the road, and then we don't get home until 5 Sunday night.
Doing it my way(and my wife agrees), we get home late, late, late(or early, early, early), but then we can spend Sunday in our comfies...at our house. 


My buddy.

Today was the big one...a trip to LEGOLAND, which was the carrot we had to dangle to convince the girls that San Diego was a better vacation spot than Disney World. 

It was another long day, with us there from 5 minutes after the park opened to 15 before it closed. 

Luckily, I was able to find a bench to spend some time with a friend.

Good thing I didn't wear shorts today...that might have been creepy. 

As for the kids...they had the best time imaginable. As a plus, we swung through one of the play areas while they were doing 'Lego's Trivia', and both my kids demonstrated that all the Lego's Legends of Chima they have been watching on Netflix is worth it, by winning free Lego's.

Dad's wallet cheered.  

Done in.

Holy Moly...I didn't know a vacation could be this tiring. 

Yesterday, we visited SeaWorld here in San Diego, and after days of not taking proper care of myself or taking the correct precautions, I got 'too much sun' on my face, neck and forearms.  I mean, it was a long day to begin with...we went out for breakfast prior to hitting the park 3 minutes after it opened, and then stayed until 20 minutes before they closed.  Even on a day when it doesn't get over 70, that is a recipe for sun burn.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

It was a fun say...but by the time we got back to  our place last night, I was done.  I kept head-bobbing while trying to get pictures on facebook and here...and then gave up.

The whales and dolphin show was as neat as I thought they would be, and there were a few relaxing moments. 

They had these huge tanks with these little sucker fish, that basically come in and chew all the dirt and dead skin off your hands.  People pay good money for this at some fancy spas!  My wife...she was a little skeeved out by this...but afterwards(and after washing her hands), she grudgingly admitted that her hands felt smoother and softer than they had in weeks. 


Soup Shoppe

On the way into San Diego the other day, my wife spotted a cute little place called San Diego Soup Shoppe, that looked very promising.  A quick check on yelp revealed that they might be worth visiting.  One of the things we talked about before this trip was that we would NOT be eating every meal out.  We were actually going to try to limit it to once a day, meaning that the opportunities to visit quality places would be limited.  My wife made it quite clear that this was not going to be a 'Man vs. Food/Diners, Drive-ins and Dive' tour of So Cal. 

I'm behind that too...eating out equals $$$$$.  To that end, we brought some dry goods, and a cooler of meat so that we didn't have to buy stuff to cook at the rental place either.   It also makes sense money wise to do breakfast or lunch when we do eat out.

Soup Shoppe fit the bill...and as soon as we saw from their website that they had lobster bisque on the menu, well...there was no doubt that we were going.

It ended up being worth it.  My wife did have the lobster bisque and then a mushroom and brie balsamic sandwich(half).  I had the Italian wedding soup, with the Award Winning Turkey and Cheddar Sandwich.  The bisque was as good as advertised(better than mine he said honestly(or they wouldn't be in business)), and I can see why the turkey sandwich was voted best sandwich in San Diego.  The cheese was a wonderful sharp cheddar...and the blueberry preserves on the sandwich went with it perfectly.  Amazing, amazing.

Neither meal lasted long enough for pictures, but luckily, the kids were willing to ham it up.

My younger daughter had the grilled cheese, which had some of the same tasty cheddar as on my sandwich, as well as a few other cheeses too.  Older daughter had a ham sandwich...and it tasted good. Unfortunately she is not a big cheese fan, or tomato, so the sandwich did not reach it's full potential...but I still enjoyed the bite I stole.
If we were locals, I would certainly see us frequenting this place. 


Fading fast

Today, we went to the San Diego Zoo...and it was fairly impressive.  By the end of the day, my dogs were barking...put quite a bit of mileage on them the last few days between sequoia's, and tar pits, and museums, and now zoos, and we were ALL very thankful for the Kangaroo Express Bus, and motorized walk-ways to get you back to the exit.

All the animals are neat...but some are neater than others.  More important to me than getting a ferret, or a raccoon...I now NEED an ocelot. 

It was the prettiest cat they had...and they had more than a few.  Want, Want, Want.

If not an ocelot, than these teeny, tiny gazelles(antelopes maybe?) would be my second choice.

They were devastatingly cute...and looked to be just the right size to put on the smoker whole.

It's a nice zoo.  Almost a bit too big.  I know we missed one or two things just because it was down some almost dead end, and we felt we had to pick and choose a little bit, even with 6+ hours to work with.  It seemed like we were always facing the wrong way...or at least the animals were.

I think everyone is going to sleep good tonight.

Modern Magic

Sometimes, we truly are spoiled by the technology around us.  Oh sure...it's makes it tougher to really 'get away'.  I had to flat out ignore 4 phone calls yesterday.  However...I'll take the trade off, because it does make something's SOOOOOO much easier.

Research being a big one. Not like, 'I'm writing my doctorate' research(you have to take most of what you find with a grain of salt), but perfect for 'Hmm...I wonder what this is' type research. 

I'm heavily reminded of that after yesterday. I'm trying grow my own vegetables, but I am hardly a gardener, so I'm constantly wondering 'what's that plant?'  Yesterday, I had two cases of that.

The streets of Southern California, especially L.A., are lined with these trees with beautiful purple flowers.  And I had no idea what it was.  Most of them where bigger, but this is one I was able to get a picture of at La Brea. 

Then again, at the Museum of Natural History, I saw this one, that had both this pretty flower, which was also growing a fruit.

With the internet, I was able to do one search for 'pretty purple flowering trees', and find out that the tree is a Jacaranda Tree...which flowers twice a year for almost two months.  Amazing.
The bottom one, I searched for 'California fruit bearing vine'.  I actually had to scroll the screen, to look at more than THREE pictures before I identified this a passion fruit plant.
Will I be able to do anything with this?  Who knows...that's research for different time.  It's just that I am old enough to remember when this type of thing would have ended with me being disappointed after searching through color plates in the back of the Encyclopaedia Britannica that my dad paid $500+ for.  


Bones, Bones, Bones.

Two stops today, both of them with a paleontology bent. 


There were lots of bones, and lots of mock-up animals.  Lot's of talk extinction....especially on the freeway, where I thought driving into downtown L.A. was going to be more than I could handle. 

Speaking of more than someone could handle...this picture of my wife cracked me up.

Look at her there...the perfect picture of zen and tranquility while the kids look at hour FOUR of fossils. 

I only hope I am that mellow if the kids ever ask to go to a fiber arts museum. 

How did they know?

For some reason, everyone kept looking at me like I'm a tourist yesterday...not sure why.

I'm sure I will fit in better in L.A. today. 


Over the river and through the woods...

Today, we woke up in Fresno, and headed east, up into the Sierra Nevada mountains, to drive through Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks, before heading down to L.A. 

It was a long day...not as long as yesterday's 14 hours in the car...but still, we left the hotel at 9ish, and got to LA at 7.  Now...part of that time was spent walking, and admitting nature...and many miles were spent on some hair pin turns at 10MPH. 

All of it was spent with my amazing family.

We'll see how we see about each other next week. 

It was a breathtaking experience.  The trees...there is no real way to describe how honking HUGE they are.  It doesn't come across in pictures at all.  Even in person, your mind almost can comprehend what's it's seeing.  It's tough to fully 'get' it without there being something else to give it scale.  This one we are sitting next to isn't even big enough to have a name...it's kind of 'average'.  Except for us sitting next to it.

What impressed me is how much damage these trees can take, and still keep on ticking.  Here a fire ate away and split off 40% of the base of this tree...but it is still thriving.

Now, I'm for bed.  Everyone else is asleep, and I am tired of dealing with 'Free' hotel Wi-Fi....it's got me feeling homicidal...and I don't want to get THAT worked up on our vacation...a 'first world' problem if there ever was one.


At least the sights are pretty.

LONG day today.  We woke up dark and early(alarm went off at 4) and we were out of the driveway at 5:25AM.  We got out of the car for the last time at 7:55PM, from our house in Washington to Fresno, California. 

At least most of the scenery was nice.

That's Mount Shasta.  With a 14 hour drive, one can't afford to stop and get out of the car to take pictures, even of scenery like that.

The kids were amazing.  So amazing that even though we got into Fresno at bed time, we let them hit the pool at the hotel for half-an-hour. 

My wife was also amazing, sharing the driving responsibilities admirably.  When she wasn't driving, she maintained her sanity by crocheting little booties that she donates to the local pregnancy center.

Me?  I stayed sane by rereading John Ringo books that I have previously questioned. 
Off to bed soon...we have at least another 6 hours of driving to do tomorrow.


It's for a good cause.

Sorry things have been light around here.  The last few evenings I have been busy trying to get things wrapped up around here so that we can head out on vacation soon.  Most of that has involved getting plants into the ground, and getting packed. 

I learned that I was totally justified in planting 50% more seeds than I thought I was going to need to put in the garden.  While carrying trays of seedlings outside for 'hardening off', I got lazy and didn't put my cat in the bathroom.  She made a break for it, and I dropped a tray of 6 tomatoes and 2 zucchini down the stairs trying to stop her.  Major mess, and some sad plants that went in the trash.

I also have learned that next year I will skip the little 'peat moss' tablets to start seeds.  While it worked great at first, when I transplanted the 'pellet's into the larger pots...I don't know why, but the seedlings stayed root bound.  I peeled the little fabric sleeves off the exterior of each pellet...but the roots still didn't expand out of the peet.  So...the seedlings did really good for a few weeks, but the last week or two, things have started fading...bad.  I'm hoping that they bounce back now that they are in the ground.  I broke up the root balls as good as I could...now it's a waiting game. 

Luckily, since we are going out of town for a few days, it won't be like watching paint dry.  By the time we get home, it will be all over...I'll either be a happy celebrating farmer, or a running to Home Depot to buy new starts farmer.