June 4-6, 2016 – Jon, Nathan and Sam visit St. George Part 1

John and I arrive in St. George a few days early to prepare for Jonathan, Nathan, and Sam’s visit. We need to get the house ready by moving the furniture around and setting up the beds for the kids. We must stock the refrigerator and pantry with grandchildren-friendly foods. And of course, there is the general clean-up that needs to be done since we have not been in St. George since January.

John washes the back windows

John washes the back windows

The view through our newly clean windows looks great!

The view through our newly clean windows looks great!

We buy a big Boston butt to make carnitas

We buy a big Boston butt to make carnitas

Nathan and Sam's room is all set up and waiting for them

Nathan and Sam’s room is all set up and waiting for them

Clark and Lewis stay behind to be the welcoming committee

Clark and Lewis stay behind to be the welcoming committee

Finally it is time it is time to go to the airport and pick them up.  We are very excited. Spotting them coming down the escalator, I get in position to take a picture.

Yay! They've arrived!

Yay! They’ve arrived!

Our plans for the ride home was to stop at Cedar Pocket and have a picnic under one of the shaded tables. The Virgin River runs right through the park. It’s narrow and shallow at this point and I figured the kids would have fun throwing rocks in the river and hiking around. But as they say, the best laid plans…  The temperatures are soaring and there is no way anyone want to sit outside when it is over 110F out. So we stop at McDonalds in Mesquite instead. The weather forecast this week is to be really hot. We are going to have to adjust.

On Sunday we get up early to play tennis. At 7 AM the temperature is only around 70F and the sun has not gotten above the cliffs.

Jonathan playing tennis

Jonathan playing tennis

John on the court

John on the court

We take Nathan and Sam over to the pool at Entrada. Nathan is totally water-safe now while Sam still has a ways to go.  Over the course of the week he will come along way. After swimming the boys enjoy Beeba’s mac ‘n cheese.

Mmmmm, mac 'n cheese

Mmmmm, mac ‘n cheese

On Monday we spend quite a while at the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center. The pool is huge and has a big slide and currents. Sam is really taking to the water now and is no longer afraid to put his head in the water. He is floating well and can propel himself forward on his stomach and backwards on his back.

Monday night we have tickets to Peter Pan at the Tuacahn Amphitheater. Even though the play starts late, Nathan and Sam stay awake through the whole thing.  They enjoy Peter Pan flying around, clap to keep Tinkerbell alive, and enjoy the short fireworks display. (As an aside, I never realized how creepy the story of Peter Pan is.)

Nathan and Sam enjoy frozen lemonade with Daddy

Nathan and Sam enjoy frozen lemonade at Tuacahn with Daddy

The set for Peter Pan

The set for Peter Pan

Everyone is happily anticipating the play

Everyone is happily anticipating the play

In Part 2, we go to Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park.

May 13, 2016 – Jonathan sings with the Stanford Symphonic Chorus

Tonight is another concert with the Stanford Symphonic Chorus and Orchestra.  This one is being held at the Stanford Memorial Church. I don’t think I have ever been in this building before.  It is pretty fancy.

Stanford Memorial Church

Stanford Memorial Church

Tonight’s program include two orchestral works in the first half of the program. The first is a work by Mozart, Ein musikalischer Spass or A Musical Joke. The piece is full of the musical conceits of his contemporaries. It kind of leaves me unimpressed. Then there is a piece by Benjamin Britten, Simple Symphony. It is full of the delight children have in music with folk dances and fairy tales.

In the second half the chorus shares the stage for Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor. They are really crammed into the smallish stage.  It is hard to find Jon among the great mass of people.

Chorus on stage

Chorus on stage

Finally I find Jon peering out among a sea of shoulders and heads

Finally I find Jon peering out among a sea of shoulders and heads

The chorus and soloists do a fine job although it seems long to me.  Afterwards Jon takes us across the quad to his new office.  What a nice location and we are so proud of him for all he has accomplished!

Jonathan by his office entrance

Jonathan by his office entrance

May 8, 2016 – Mother’s Day

I am just the luckiest of mothers and grandmothers! All my children and grandchildren are nearby and I can see them whenever I want.  Today for Mother’s Day I got a beautiful surprise from John, yellow roses, my favorites! He is the sweetest husband ever!

Yellow roses from John on the mantel

Yellow roses from John on the mantel

For breakfast Sarah made pretzel rolls.  This has become a tradition for Mother’s Day and they are sooooooo good! She served this with a cup of one of her fancy teas.

Pretzel rolls by Sarah and a cup of her fancy tea

Pretzel rolls by Sarah and a cup of her fancy tea

Later we went over to Jon’s for a bagel and lox lunch. It was a bread intensive day! Since I was queen for the day as evidenced by both kids sending me cards that said I was the queen, I didn’t take any pictures. So no further pictures were taken.

Nathan and Sam made me cards and a wooden planter with a succulent in it and I also got a bouquet of flowers from Ryan and Jon.

It was a really nice day!

April 24, 2016 – Passover

Passover Seder is great this year. Nathan and Sam really take part and we get through the whole Seder and also sing a bunch of songs. John grills a wonderful boneless leg of lamb and Sarah makes her delicious macaroons. The kids do a great job hiding the afikoman under the mat in the laundry room which Jonathan accidentally steps on! Nathan tries to negotiate for more than $20 but sees the error of his ways when we start lowering our bid. We all have a wonderful time.

The table is set and we are ready to start our Seder

The table is set and we are ready to start our Seder

Nathan, Ryan, and Sam

Nathan, Ryan, and Sam

While Nathan reads the four questions, Sam helps himself to another piece of parsley dipped in salt water

While Nathan reads the four questions, Sam helps himself to another piece of parsley dipped in salt water

Yay! The second glass of wine!

Yay! The second glass of wine!

Sarah, Jonathan, and Leigh enjoying the Seder

Sarah, Jonathan, and Leigh enjoying the Seder

Wonderful dinner of grilled boneless leg of lamb, asparagus, and mashed potatoes (not pictured matzoh ball soup)

Wonderful dinner of grilled boneless leg of lamb, asparagus, and mashed potatoes (not pictured matzoh ball soup)

For dessert Sarah's fabulous macaroons

For dessert Sarah’s fabulous macaroons

April 9 and May 12, 2016 – New front landscaping

As soon as we get home from Italy, we get to work on our new front landscaping. This will include driveway shoulder extensions, a new sidewalk and steps, new lighting and all new plants. Our landscaper, Fritz Schummer, has a great team of Carlos and Carlos. Big Carlos knows how to do it all!

Here they are hard at work in April.

Work being done on the driveway shoulder extensions

Work being done on the driveway shoulder extensions

Cement is being poured for the sidewalk and stairs

Cement is being poured for the sidewalk and stairs

We work closely with Fritz on the design and plant selection. About the middle of May it is done! It looks so much better and makes me happy every time I see it!

New extensions and rock wall

New extensions and rock wall

A great finished project!

A great finished project!

 

April 6, 2016 – Montefiascone and home

Leaving Orivieto we decide to make a side trip to Montefiascone on our way to the airport. It turns out to be pretty much a dud with the exception of the church of San Flaviano which was built in the 11th century and has frescoes from the 12th to the 14th centuries. The building is in the Romanesque style.

Mary and Sarah on the porch of San Flaviano

Mary and Sarah on the porch of San Flaviano

St. Catherine being martyred

St. Catherine being martyred

Along with the frescoes is a the grave of a traveler who died of excessive drinking of the local wine known as Est! Est! Est! Apparently his valet went to town ahead of him and wrote the word “est” on the doors of the inns where there was good wine. This wine is still made in the region.

Plaque at the entrance to the tomb of Giovanni Defugger who died from too much wine

Plaque at the entrance to the tomb of Giovanni Defugger who died from too much wine

Tomb of Giovanni Defugger

Tomb of Giovanni Defugger

After a frustrating search for some place for lunch, we decide since we are passing by Viterbo again that we will have lunch at the pizza place where we ate the first night. Happily it is open and has a lunch special of a whole pizza and a drink for 6 Euros.

Delicious pizzas!!

Delicious pizzas!!

Now it is back to Rome Airport with a just a short stop to refill the rental car.  We manage to get ripped off at the gas station where you have to guess how much gas you will need and pay ahead and then there is no change if you over guess your fueling needs. We pay 12 Euros for 8 Euros worth of gasoline.

We are staying at the airport Hilton which has always been not the best accommodation but you can walk from the hotel to your plane which is a real plus. We book on the Executive floor and the experience is much better.  They even let us use the wifi!

The trip home is long but uneventful, Rome to London to Dallas to San Francisco.  At least this time I am not sick! We have had a wonderful trip full of many new sights, a lot of good meals, and wonderful art.

 

 

April 5, 2016 – Pitigliano (Little Jerusalem) & Decugnano dei Barbi Winery

This morning we take a side trip from Orvieto to Pitigliano. Jack, our GPS makes a fairly straight-forward 35 miles into an hour and a half adventure. Since we have an appointment at a winery this afternoon, it is important to be time efficient but Jack has not gotten the message.

Much like Orvieto, Pitigliano is built on a tufa outcropping. Starting with the Etruscans in the 7th century B.C., walls were also built to fortify the town. In the picture below little caves can be seen in the tufa walls. Some of these have Etruscan inscriptions.

This is what Pitigliano looks like as you approach. Photo credit CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80684

This is what Pitigliano looks like as you approach. Photo credit CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80684

Giorgio from the hotel has suggested this town for a visit. Its main claim to fame is that it had a vibrant Jewish community who built a synagogue here in 1598. The town is nicknamed “Little Jerusalem.”

A map of "Little Jerusalem" in Pitigliano

A map of “Little Jerusalem” in Pitigliano

Jews fled from Rome to Pitigliano during the persecutions during the Counterreformation.  In Pitigliano they lived harmoniously with their Christian neighbors and built a synagogue, Kosher butchery, Kosher bakery for matzoh, ritual baths, and a wool dying enterprise.

Much like the rest of Europe there are almost no Jews left in Pitigliano only guards armed with machine guns to protect the site. It is said that the Jews here escaped capture by the Nazis with the help of their neighbors but dispersed after the war.

The tour begins in the rooms below the synagogue –

John stands in the mikveh or ritual bath

John stands in the mikveh or ritual bath

Sarah reads the information about the Kosher winery

Sarah reads the information about the Kosher winery

A display piece on the wall shows the Jewish calendar

A display piece on the wall shows the Jewish calendar

The oven for making matzoh

The oven for making matzoh

A picture of women making matzoh

A picture of women making matzoh

Picture of a woman putting matzoh in the oven beside the actual oven

Picture of a woman putting matzoh in the oven beside the actual oven

Next we head upstairs to the synagogue. The synagogue was built in 1598. However, it collapsed in a landslide in 1960 and was rebuilt and reopened in 1995. There are too few Jews in Pitigliano to have it operating on a regular basis but it is still used occasionally for weddings and bar mitzvahs.

Synagogue interior

Synagogue interior

Women's screened gallery

Women’s screened gallery

Sarah peeking through the screen

Sarah peeking through the screen

John signing the guest book

John signing the guest book

After the visit to the synagogue we spent a little while looking around Pitigliano.

It looks like much of Pitigliano is in danger of sliding off the cliffs

It looks like much of Pitigliano is in danger of sliding off the cliffs

Sarah and John pose with a statue of a man and his donkey. We were not able to find out the significance of this statue.

Sarah and John pose with a statue of a man and his donkey. We were not able to find out the significance of this statue.

Mid-sixteenth century aqueduct

Mid-sixteenth century aqueduct

Our visit in Pitigliano has lasted until lunchtime. We have no time to spare and hurry back to Orvieto by a much faster route unencumbered by listening to Jack.  We stop at Simply Market and buy a few things for a quick lunch in the room.

Our afternoon’s engagement is at the Decugnano dei Barbi, a winery making primarily white wine. Sarah is staying behind as she has to man her computer to try to get a hotel room for ComicCon. (This turned out to be unsuccessful. Boo.)

We travel east of Orivieto into a rural area. The winery Decugnano  dei Barbi was bought by the Barbi family in 1975 and added their name to the old name of the town that they are in, Decugnano, to come up with their label. It is on beautiful rolling hills.  I am somewhat surprised that the grapes have barely broken buds yet since ours in California are much further along.

The vineyard of Decugnano dei Barbi

The vineyard of Decugnano dei Barbi

The vines are not too far along in early April

The vines are not too far along in early April

Marta from Milan is our guide and we do quite a trek around the vineyards along with a family from New Orleans. Of course, John and I have been on many winery tours and are hoping for a quick explanation and then on to the tasting. But we get a thorough explanation on how the winery works.

Marta, our guide, explains how wine is made

Marta, our guide, explains how wine is made

Bottled and ready to be shipped (unfortunately not to the U.S.)

Bottled and ready to be shipped (unfortunately not to the U.S.)

Finally it is time for tasting.  It’s almost all whites which I really like but will leave me wheezy tomorrow. Also there’s quite the spread of meats, cheeses, and bruschetti! The family from New Orleans turns out to be quite nice and have just arrived in Italy for their first trip ever.

Local treats with the wine tasting

Local treats with the wine tasting

But the day is not over! We have booked dinner at a winery close to our hotel. The Altarocca looks like a pretty fancy place as we pull up. We are ready for some haute cuisine!

We have finally learned our lesson – order antipasti and first courses because the second courses tend to be disappointing.

 

 

 

 

March 24, 2016 – Pistoia

We are visiting many smaller towns in Italy on this trip. It seems like you can pull off the road almost anywhere and walk into the cathedral or main church and find something amazing. Today we are going to Pistoia which is halfway between Florence and Lucca.

 Pistoia was a centre of Gallic, Ligurian and Etruscan settlements before becoming a Roman colony in the 6th century BC. Pistoia’s golden age began in 1177 when it became a free commune. During these years it was an important political center, erecting city walls and several public and religious buildings.

After being carefully watched by an elderly gentleman while we park the car, we are informed that it is not necessary to pay any parking fees (or at least that is what we hoped we understood.) We decide that he must be the unofficial car watcher for his block and wonder if upon our return we should pay him instead.

Our first stop is at the Basilica of the Madonna dell’Umilita so named because its most prized possession is a Madonna with the Christ child sitting on the floor. All artwork in this format are known as the Madonna of humility pictures because she has humbled herself by sitting on the floor (or a pillow on the floor.)

Basilica of the Madonna dell'Umilita has an odd looking facade. We wonder if its black and white marble striping has been taken off at some point and used for something else. Churches here are often built with bits and pieces of other older churches.

Basilica of the Madonna dell’Umilita has an odd looking facade. We wonder if its black and white marble striping has been taken off at some point and used for something else. Churches here are often built with bits and pieces of other older churches.

Madonna and Christ child sitting on the floor

Madonna and Christ child sitting on the floor

Unusual more modern ceiling with a shell motif usually an attribute of St. James

Unusual more modern ceiling with a shell motif usually an attribute of St. James

After stopping for some delicious coffees along the street (we drink coffee whenever we need to use a restroom somewhere), we head to the duomo dedicated to Saint Zeno with its Baptistry across the piazza. All the church workers are scurrying about getting the church cleaned up and decorated for Easter. There are not many tourists which is a blessing.

Cathedral of Saint Zeno (we could not find much evidence of St. Zeno)

Cathedral of Saint Zeno (we could not find much evidence of St. Zeno)

Interior of St.Zeno

Interior of St. Zeno (no doubt all the blank masonry used to be covered with frescoes)

13th century crucifix

13th century crucifix

13th century side chapel

13th century side chapel

After wandering through the produce market we settle on a place for lunch called La Botte Gaia. It turns out to be an excellent find because although our three dishes look like brown glop they are all excellent.

After lunch we pay a visit to the Museo Civico where there are few “watchers” and we can really get up close to the various paintings and sculptures.

13th century lunette

13th century lunette

Close-up of the grief-stricken Mary with Jesus

Close-up of the grief-stricken Mary with Jesus

I love it when the artists sign their work. This one is says "This work made by Gerinus of Pistoia, 1408"

I love it when the artists sign their work. This one is says “This work made by Gerinus of Pistoia, 1509”

A picture of St. Julian who killed his mother and father after he thought his mother was sleeping with another man (who turned out to be his father) and STILL became a saint.

A picture of St. Julian who killed his mother and father after he thought his mother was sleeping with another man (who turned out to be his father) and STILL became a saint.

Strange looking little angel with hands and feet sticking out of its wings

Strange looking little angel with hands and feet sticking out of its wings

Dinner tonight is back to the Donchisciotte for full price pizza this time. John and I get the pizza “verace” style which is still thin crust but with puffy edges. Sarah opts for thin crust all the way. I don’t know if this style has a name or not. In any case it is delicious and reminds me of the pizza of my youth on the Jersey shore.

Foreground - pizza margherita verace, thin crust white pizza with proscuitto behind

Foreground – pizza margherita verace, thin crust white pizza with proscuitto behind

 

 

February 26, 2016 – Jonathan sings with the Stanford Symphonic Chorus

I have been sick for about 10 days with another horrible cold. I can’t quite decide whether I should go to this concert. I don’t want to sit there disturbing the people around me with my coughing. But when I meet Jon for lunch he is really hoping I will come. So I do.

With the exception of a bad encounter with the hotel front desk when I tried to check in and they made me call John to get permission to do so, I have a really nice day.  I ride over with John and drop him at work.  I do some shopping, meet Jonathan for lunch at Max’s, and finally check into the hotel. Later John and I go out to dinner at Mistral in Redwood Shores. It is a restaurant that we used to go to when we had the condo.  The food is very good.

Then we head over to Stanford for the performance at Bing Concert Hall. In the first half the orchestra plays a piece by John Adams called The Chairman Dances. It’s about Madame Mao and Chairman Mao. It has some interesting parts. Then they play Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, Op.14. This piece is a little more mainstream. After the intermission the Chorus and the Orchestra join forces for Francis Poulenc’s Gloria. I believe I can hear Jonathan! All in all a lovely day with my best guys!

The orchestra tuning up with the chorus behind

The orchestra tuning up with the chorus behind

Jonathan seated between the white haired and bearded fellow and a tiny lady

Jonathan seated between the white haired and bearded fellow and a tiny lady

February 13-21, 2016 – Florida, Andy and Brittany’s wedding

We travel to Florida to spend a few days with Peg and Ted and then head up to Phyllis and Gary’s for our nephew Andy’s wedding. He is marrying Brittany who seems like a very nice and pretty woman.  And oh so organized.

Peg, Phyllis, and I take a little “us” time first with a lovely tea at a tea shop that Phyllis has recently found.

Peg and Phyllis at our Victorian tea spot

Peg and Phyllis at our Victorian tea spot

Now it is down to work! There are a lot of things that need doing for the rehearsal dinner. Phyllis and Gary have decided to have it at their home. There is so much delicious food! The evening is a comfortable success for the older crowd and the bridal party.

The buffet table is set (I arranged the flowers!)

The buffet table is set (I arranged the flowers!)

The older folk will sit in the family room and the wine room while the kids are out on the back deck.

Phyllis and Gary's wine room

Phyllis and Gary’s wine room

There is so much to eat! We end up munching on it for three days.

Phyllis and Gary

Phyllis and Gary

Peg and Ted with the desserts

Peg and Ted with the desserts

John and I admire the desserts but save ourselves for the savory foods

John and I admire the desserts but save ourselves for the savory foods

Brittany has done a wonderful job organizing the wedding. Since she is a high school English teacher she has decided on a book theme. Here are some of her components.

Bouquets are all made out of paper, some from pages in books

Bouquets are all made out of paper, some from pages in books

Find your table in the card catalogue!

Find your table in the card catalogue!

This is our table!

This is our table!

Even the wedding cake is book themed

Even the wedding cake is book themed

The wedding is lovely. Brittany looks beautiful. Many pictures are taken. The food is a brunch buffet and we dance to the music of a DJ. Here are some memories from the wedding…

The mother and father of the groom

The mother and father of the groom

Ted, Peg, Phyllis, Gary, Mary, John

Ted, Peg, Phyllis, Gary, Mary, John

Thethree weird sisters

The three weird sisters

Brittany and Andy exchange vows

Brittany and Andy exchange vows

The groomsmen show off their superhero socks

The groomsmen show off their superhero socks

Andy and Brittany with Mike and Becca

Andy and Brittany with Mike and Becca

First dance

First dance

Time for the honeymoon!

Time for the honeymoon!

December 24, 2015 – Pilat Eve

On Christmas Eve we have an orgy of hors d’oeuvres, singing, and opening presents. We call it Pilat Eve. Here are some pictures from the event –

Nathan opening a present

Sam opening a present

Nathan showing Mom his new interactive Lego set

Nathan showing Mom his new interactive Lego set

Sam approves!

Sam approves!

Sarah looks happy opening her gift!

Sarah looks happy opening her gift!

Jon working at the sewing on his gift beanbag

Jon working at the sewing on his gift beanbag

John is a tidy opener

John is a tidy opener

Gram and Gramps are enjoying the evening too!

Gram and Gramps are enjoying the evening too!

John and Mary pose in front of the fireplace

John and Mary pose in front of the fireplace

Jonathan and Nathan enjoy a game of Connect4

Jonathan and Nathan enjoy a game of Connect4

December 7, 2015 – Thanksgiving, 2015 (a little late!)

We have ten for dinner – Mary, John, Sarah, Jonathan, Ryan, Nathan, Sam, Leigh, Rose, and John. Leigh is Ryan’s sister and Rose and John are  Ryan and Leigh’s parents. It gets confusing around here sometimes with all the John/Jons.

There are lots of contributions to the dinner. John P. made the turkey and the gravy.  I made roasted creamed onions, mashed potatoes, and brussels sprouts. Sarah made sweet potatoes. Jonathan made green beans and dressing. Ryan made cranberry sauce.  Sam made crescent rolls. Rose and John made stimparata (a Sicilian olive dish), veggies and dip, and three pies – mince, apple cranberry, and pumpkin. All the food is delicious and there really are not too many leftovers.

It is a lot of work and I am pretty tired out and my back is really hurting by the time we sit down for dinner. I need to find a way to simplify the preparation, presentation, and clean-up. I will work on that for next year!

My hollowed out squashes filled with flowers

My hollowed out squashes filled with flowers

The table all set

The table all set

John's turkey preparation ready to go into the oven

John’s turkey preparation ready to go into the oven

My roasted creamed onions

My roasted creamed onions

Everyone chooses their own plateful

Everyone chooses their own plateful

The family around the table

The family around the table

December 3, 2015 – The Daily Claus

Back in 2011 I did a series of Santa scenarios using my endless supply of Santas. I don’t think I ever put them on my blog. I guess I could write about all the hideous things that are going on in the world but I think I will post these pictures over the next few weeks interspersed with some real time events.

THE DAILY CLAUS "Dr. Santa, do you think we can save him?" "Hand me my glue gun, stat!"

THE DAILY CLAUS
“Dr. Santa, do you think we can save him?”
“Hand me my glue gun, stat!”

December 2, 2015 – Borax Visitor Center, Boron, CA

(We visited the Borax Visitor Center on November 10, 2015.)

One of the games we play in the car is “How many towns can you name that are (fill in the blank.) In this case our game is, how many towns can you name that are elements. Boron is one. Situated in the Mojave desert between the towns of Mojave and Barstow, it is kind of a bleak place. We’ve stopped in Boron before to see their museum but we’ve never been to the Borax Visitor Center which is situated just north of CA 58. After twelve years of plying this route back and forth between Pleasanton and St.George, it is high time that we pay a visit.

The Borax works include a giant pit, refinery, and visitor’s center. The visitor’s center is open daily. Down a long road you approach the refinery, then turn right past the pit, and finally ascend a hill of tailings to the visitor’s center which is buried at the top like a bunker.  There are plenty of things to see outside and at the overlook first.

The Visitor's Center is two quonset huts mashed together.

The Visitor’s Center is two quonset huts mashed together.

Here's the 20-mule team logo.

Here’s the 20-mule team logo.

Better yet, there's also a life-sized 20-mule team!

Better yet, there’s also a life-sized 20-mule team!

We wander around the yard in front of the museum and look at a big tire and also walk up to the platform with a great view of the works and giant pit.

So you think I look tire-d?

So you think I look tire-d?

Giant pit! (2 miles long, 1 3/4 miles wide and 755 feet deep)

Giant pit! (2 miles long, 1 3/4 miles wide and 755 feet deep)

Trucks entering and leaving the pit with ore

Trucks entering and leaving the pit with ore

 

A really large truck filled with ore

A really large truck filled with ore

The mine produces about three million tons of ore per year which is refined down to around one million tons of products in the on-site refinery

The mine produces about three million tons of ore per year which is refined down to around one million tons of products in the on-site refinery

Now it is time to go into the museum. We are met by an earnest young employee who shows us a movie and answers our questions to the best of his ability. (This guy who is probably in his mid-20’s has lived in Boron his whole life. It is a town of 4000 people in the middle of the desert. When we told him we were from the Bay Area he opined that he’d like to visit San Francisco some day. It’s hard for us to imagine why he would stay in Boron.)

As we walk around the museum we see displays of ore, a giant crystalline piece of boron ore and information about Ronald Reagan and the supporting cast from Death Valley Days. There are displays of all the things that boron is used for including,

  1. Agricultural products (boron is a micronutrient essential to the proper growth of vegetables and fruits such as corn, alfalfa, coffee, fruite trees, peanuts, grapes and strawberries.
  2. Ceramics
  3. Detergent (Borax)
  4. Fiberglass
  5. Glass
  6. Flame retardants
  7. Wood treatments (Borates are effective against fungus, termites, and ants.)
  8. Flat screen TVs and computers (Borates are a key ingredient in Liquid Crystal Displays.)
Unrefined ore from large rocks to fine granules

Unrefined ore from large rocks to fine granules

John doing a thorough job of totally understanding boron

John doing a thorough job of totally understanding boron

Some television and movie notables who started out on Death Valley Days

Some television and movie notables who started out on Death Valley Days

Rio Tinto Minerals operates this mine. They have a long history dating back to 1872 when the company founders began mining borates in Nevada. The operation is now global.

Another interesting Rio Tinto open pit mine that we have visited is the Bingham Canyon Mine located 28 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Originally a copper mine, it now extracts a variety of minerals in a pit that is 3/4 of a mile deep. It is immense and definitely worth of visit.

December 1, 2015 – Blogtacular

Over the last two months Sarah has been writing an entry every day on her blog. The idea was to get her back into the mindset of recording what is going on in her life.  There was a time when I made a post every day with a thought that was circulating through my brain, a word that had captured my fancy, and an encouragement to live a healthy lifestyle. Then I had a small siege of hurtful comments and I stopped putting personal thoughts in my blog and only wrote about family events and travel.

This month I am going to try to write a post each day. Some of it will be about events already passed like Thanksgiving. Some will be about what is happening next like the celebration of The Birthdays next week. Several will no doubt be about food, a subject near and dear to my being. And maybe I will be brave enough to say Happy Holidays again and express a personal opinion without worrying about the haters coming after me.

When I write an intention down, I am much more likely to follow through.

October 31, 2015 Halloween!!

It’s Halloween and in addition to going to Nathan’s play there is Halloween to consider. I buy some candy for Nathan and Sam and also decide to make Snickerdoodle cookies. Now I am notorious for making bad Halloween cookies. My first attempt many years ago when Jon and Sarah were kids ended up with orange pumpkin cookies that lasted for an entire year in the cookie jar without being eaten. Armed with Sarah’s recipe, though, I know I will do better.

My Snickerdoodle cookies

My Snickerdoodle cookies

After the play we go back to Ryan and Jon’s where the cookies and candies are a big hit. Nathan and Sam put on their Halloween costumes for us and are eager to start their trick or treating. Auntie Leigh has made the costumes and as usual has done a superb job.

Nathan's costume is Pacman. The entire outline lights up and the open mouth is a receptacle for Halloween candy

Nathan’s costume is Pacman. The entire outline lights up and the open mouth is a receptacle for Halloween candy

Sam is Skylanders Wash Buckler. His insignia lights up.

Sam is Skylander’s Wash Buckler. His insignia of what look like ladders light up. Ryan says that having lighted features on their costumes makes it easier to find them in the dark.

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2015 Nathan appears in Pumpkin Fiesta!

Nathan has been working hard with his fellow actors at the Palo Alto Children’s Theater. Today we see the product of that hard work, the play Pumpkin Fiesta. The gist of the play is that there is a woman, Old Juana, in this Mexican town who grows great pumpkins and always wins the pumpkin crown at the fair. Fernando wants the crown and he tries various ways to make his pumpkins as large and beautiful. In the end he steals her pumpkins but is caught and promises to use the real best way to grow award winning pumpkins. The children take the parts of the people, vegetables, insects, and animals. Nathan is Fernando’s scarecrow and is on stage the entire time. He says his lines with artistic flair and sings beautifully. In fact he is the best singer among the cast. Who knew? He must get his vocal genes from Ryan and Jon who are both very good singers.

Nathan as Foolish Fernando's Scarecrow

Nathan as Foolish Fernando’s Scarecrow

Fernando's Scarecrow and Old Juana's Scarecrow have many interactions

Fernando’s Scarecrow and Old Juana’s Scarecrow have many interactions

Nathan on stage with Old Juana, vegetables and bees

Nathan on stage with Old Juana, vegetables and bees

Nathan knew all the songs and his lines well

Nathan knew all the songs and his lines well

Here he is singing with Toro the bull

Here he is singing with Toro the bull

He looks so handsome in his costume!

He looks so handsome in his costume!

He has a solo singing a song with his scarecrow counterpart. He does really great!!

He has a solo singing a song with his scarecrow counterpart. He does really great!!

The cast on stage to take a final bow

The cast on stage to take a final bow

Needless to say I am pretty teary through the whole thing. John and I are really proud of Nathan’s skill and determination.

 

 

October 28, 2015 Tapas night

While John is at work Sarah and I decide to have some fun in the kitchen. We plan a tapas dinner, shop and cook the ingredients and then enjoy the results when John gets home from work. I can’t say that I will do this again soon.  It is a lot of work!

Here are the dishes in order of their being served –

Huevos rellenos de atun (Eggs stuffed with tuna and marinated vegetables)

Huevos rellenos de atun
(Eggs stuffed with tuna and marinated vegetables)

Pan con tomate, ajo y perejil (Bread with tomato, garlic and parsley) Needs work

Pan con tomate, ajo y perejil
(Bread with tomato, garlic and parsley)
Needs work. All the recipes come from the book shown which we bought in Ronda, Spain

Anchoas marinadas (Marinated anchovies) Love the white anchovies!

Anchoas marinadas
(Marinated anchovies)
Love the white anchovies!

Gambas al ajillo (Prawns in garlic) Exceptional!

Gambas al ajillo
(Prawns in garlic)
Exceptional!

Tapa de cebollitas y foiegras de pollo (Shallots and chicken liver pate) OMG so good! These were my favorites!

Tapa de cebollitas y foiegras de pollo
(Shallots and chicken liver pate)
OMG so good! These were my favorites!

 

Lomo adobado y manzanas caramelizadas (Marinated pork (we used bacon) with caramelized apples) Surprisingly the least successful. Originally it was supposed to also have an apple sauce with it. It could have used the moisture.

Lomo adobado y manzanas caramelizadas
(Marinated pork (we used bacon) with caramelized apples)
Surprisingly the least successful. Originally it was supposed to also have an apple sauce with it. It could have used the moisture.

Queso de cabra sobre cebolla (Goat cheese and shallot jam) We considered this our dessert. Sweetness from the shallots and tanginess from the goat cheese.

Queso de cabra sobre cebolla
(Goat cheese and shallot jam)
We considered this our dessert. Sweetness from the shallots and tanginess from the goat cheese.

 

 

 

October 18, 2015 A visit to the Pumpkin Patch

On Sunday Ryan, Jon, Nathan and Sam come over for lunch and we also visit the Pumpkin Patch so they can pick out some pumpkins and the kids can play in the amusement area.

First we have lunch at Main St. Brewery. This is usually our go-to place but today the food disappoints so we may have to find a new lunch venue.

Nathan and Jonathan at Main St. Brewery

Nathan and Jonathan at Main St. Brewery

Ryan and Sam at Main St. Brewery

Ryan and Sam at Main St. Brewery

Sam peruses the menu

Sam peruses the menu

Then it is on to the Pumpkin Patch at the Fairgrounds. Ryan and Jon came up with the idea to go there for pumpkins and fun and it was a good one. The kids really enjoy the blow-up slides and games. The adults enjoy watching them have fun.

Going down the slide is so much fun for Sam

Going down the slide is so much fun for Sam

He enjoys it in various positions

He enjoys it in various positions

Nathan is not too old yet to have a good time on the slide

Nathan is not too old yet to have a good time on the slide

Nathan demonstrates how to look cool while going down the slide

Nathan demonstrates how to look cool while going down the slide

Many of Jon's shots hit the rim but when Beeba stepped up to the line, the ball went through the first time with just a swish! (I enjoyed that a lot! No way could I ever repeat it again.)

Many of Jon’s shots hit the rim but when Beeba steps up to the line, the ball goes through the first time with just a swish! (I enjoyed that a lot! No way could I ever repeat it again.)

October 5-12, 2015 Jonathan visits St. George

Jonathan arrives by plane at the St. George airport for a week of fun. During the week we go hiking, play tennis, cook some excellent meals and he plays golf. We have an great time. Here are some pictures from the week.

Red Mountain Trail to Snow Canyon Overlook

Just south of Veyo is the trailhead for a long trail which ends up in Ivins. About two miles into the hike there is a half-mile spur to an overlook of spectacular Snow Canyon. The four and a half plus mile hike is the longest we’ve done in a long time and the trail is very rocky but the wondeful view into Snow Canyon is definitely worth it.

Jon and John at the Red Mountain Trailhead

Jon and John at the Red Mountain Trailhead

Hiking along the slickrock

Hiking along the slickrock

View of Snow Canyon

View of Snow Canyon

Jon at the end of the trail

Jon at the end of the trail

Happy hikers

Happy hikers

Playing tennis at Entrada

We play tennis with Jonathan almost every weekend when we are home. In St. George we play at least every other day. It is so much fun! Sometimes John is the lone man and I play with Jonathan and most of the time it is the old folks versus Jonathan. Over the years we’ve all improved and now can keep the rallies going for more than two or three shots. It is my favorite way to exercise.

Jonathan is at the net for a volley

Jonathan is at the net for a volley

Jonathan uses an extreme Western grip to give his forehand a ton of topspin

Jonathan uses an extreme Western grip to give his forehand a ton of topspin

Here's John about to hit a forehand

Here’s John about to hit a forehand…

and the follow-through!

and the follow-through!

We are looking forward to the next time that Jonathan visits St. George!