2013 In Summary: 12 Months, 12 Pictures

January: Long Beach, NY in the months after Hurricane Sandy
January: Long Beach, NY in the months after Hurricane Sandy.  The boardwalk of my childhood was destroyed.
February: Climbing the first big hill at the Mission Gorge Trail Run with Sugar Magnolia
February: Climbing the first big hill at the Mission Gorge Trail Run with Sugar Magnolia
March: The LA Marathon Medals
March: The LA Marathon Medals
April: Cruise the Carribbean
April: Cruise the Caribbean
May: In Milan
May: In Milan
June: London with My sister
June: London with My sister
July: The Color Run
July: The Color Run
August: Mt. Charleston NV for my 30 Year High School Reunion
August: Mt. Charleston NV for my 30 Year High School Reunion
September:  Andy Pettitte walks to the Dugout in Yankee Stadium as Mariano Rivera is honored
September: Andy Pettitte walks to the Dugout in Yankee Stadium as Mariano Rivera is honored
October: Whittier 5K Run
October: Whittier 5K Run
November:  Santa Barbara Marathon
November: Santa Barbara Marathon
December: With my Honey at Disneyland
December: With my Honey at Disneyland
2013 In Summary: 12 Months, 12 Pictures

Prompt for 14-Dec: Christmas Traditions

Today’s prompt is of my own making.

 Traditions: What are your Christmas Traditions?

The ladies are in the kitchen making toffee.   The recipe they are working from is on a printout of email to me dated October 24, 2004.  My wife and daughter are chatting away as they melt the butter and prepare the pan with nuts and dark chocolate chips.   My recollection is that my former boss gave us some of her toffee in December 2003 and we asked for the receive the following year.  My wife and daughter make the toffee every Christmas season and give most of it away.

On Sunday Laura and I will make another holiday favorite known as “Joan’s Rumballs”.   I worked with Joan for about 20 years.  Every year she would bring batches of rumballs and people would always joke about how strong they were as they walked away with 2 or 3.   Joan emailed the  recipe the Christmas before she retired, just a few  months before she passed away.   I haven’t had time to make them during the last few years, but they will get made this year.

When The Child was in Pop Warner Cheer I used to bring Joan’s Rumballs to practice to share with the other parents.  They were always well received, especially during competition.  They didn’t know about Joan, but after the first year, their eyes lit up when I brought them.  The best traditions require sharing.

At the start of this next week, I will bring a batch of  Joan’s rumballs into work.  For some people who have been there a while, Joan’s rumballs will have special meaning.   For others they will be just another sweet sitting out.

I guess that’s the second thing about traditions, they need context.

Christmas can be a socio-commercial exercise or Christmas can be a day of deeply moving spiritual and religious period of hope.  It all depends on our context.

Merry Christmas

Prompt for 14-Dec: Christmas Traditions

Prompt for 12 Dec: Benign But Pre-cancerous

Today’s prompt is courtesy of Cultivate 2012 Daily Prompt list

 Health: How did you treat your body this year? You only get this one vessel one time around. In what ways can you cultivate better health for your body next year?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                         December 2012
Dear Mr. Smplefy,

Thank you for allowing me to participate in your health care.  
The following information is regarding you recent Colonoscopy.

The polyp was benign but was pre-cancerous.  The polyp was 
completely removed. 
I do request that your repeat your Colonoscopy in five years.


Your Doctor
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This is the point where one discovers if one is as much a “glass half-full” person as one pretends to be.

On one hand, the polyp was removed a good 3 years before I would have normally had “the 50 test“.

To paraphrase Monty Python “this Polyp is no more.  It has ceased to be. It is expired and gone to meet its Maker.  This is an ex-polyp“.   Its little baby ass never had the chance to make the transition to cancerous. So score one for the 47 year-old guy with the health insurance.

On the other hand, the fact that the little shit (pardon the expression) was there, growing… waiting… messes with my head.

It was there,  like that first cockroach hidden inside a wall all by himself.  Silent.  Waiting. Growing.  Thinking (as much as a polyp can think) that it was going to take me out.  What if my close relatives hadn’t recently been diagnosed with colon cancer?  What if I had waited once I turned 50?  What might have happened?

“IT DON’T MATTAH WHA’ IF, ‘CAUSE I TOOK CARE OV  IT”.  Can’t waste life wondering what would have happened if you hadn’t taken care of business that’s been taken care of.

But I know many people who put off their colonoscopy and regretted it.

So now, on my calendar in September 10, 2017 is a little alert.  A reminder to make an appointment for another check inside the walls to make sure none of little ugly’s  friends rear their  little polypy heads.

In the meantime, please join me in a toast, “To the ex-polyp”.

Is the glass half full?
Lift one glass to cultivating better health way beyond 2013.

Half full my ass.  I am cultivating health in 2013 but I ain’t cultivating no polyps!

How about you?   Have your relatives had colon cancer? Are you over 50 and cultivating polyps?

Prompt for 12 Dec: Benign But Pre-cancerous

Prompt for 11 Dec: Anticipation

Today’s prompt is courtesy of Carolyn Rubenstein.

What is the one thing that you are most looking forward to in 2013?

One should not use the term boring to describe my plans for 2013.   Laura and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  The child will turn 16.  To celebrate these events we will be taking a Caribbean cruise.   I am looking forward to that.  But it isn’t what I am looking forward to most.As some point during the year, I will have my 30 years high school reunion and as well as my 25 year anniversary at work.  Those should be fun.I am signed up for the LA Marathon.  That’s big.  Of course, once I cross the finish line, I will be rushing to see my daughter win at the last cheer competition of the season.  That’s my life, 96 days out and I am already double booked.

Work will have me traveling to Houston, New York, Milan, Ireland and Japan.  Some might look forward to that.  Me, not so much.

It’s never about where I go.  It’s about who I’m with.  The value is in that short window when something can be set up, maybe a quick breakfast before a flight.  Maybe a 30 minute visit at the home of an old friend before making a mad dash for a train.  I do a lot of that.  But that’s where I find the joy in work travel as well as life in general.   Those are the things that keep me going on the road and make life fun.

The thing that i am looking forward to most is some time with my sister and her husband.  They were in Spain both times I visited London this year. In 2013, they may be coming over from for a few weeks. It will be nice to have them here and be together again with Laura and The Child.  I suspect that in a very short time, we are going to log a number of miles around the Nevada, Arizona and California.  As much as I hate driving, I look forward to showing them these states.   There will be laughter.  Grand memories will be made.

Family in 2009 at Disneyland
Family in 2009 at Disneyland


Prompt for 11 Dec: Anticipation

Prompt for 9 Dec: Nutrition

Today’s prompt is courtesy of Cultivate 2012 Daily Prompt list

Foodie Friday — Cultivate Style: Food nourishes us. Some foods give us more enjoyment than others. Some foods leave us feeling less than ourselves. What foods nourished your soul and body this year? What food choices can you make in 2013 to cultivate more self-care?

One word: Salmon.

I’ve never really enjoyed salmon.  It’s always been a bland fish with not a lot of flavor.  Until….

In 2011, we took a Disney cruise to Alaska.  On the third day of the cruise, there was a huge barbeque which included freshly caught King Salmon.   Given my just below boarder-line high cholesterol, I thought I would try the salmon.  It was like no other piece of salmon that I had ever eaten before.  An abbondanza of  flavor exploded in my mouth and I became much more interested in salmon.

Fast forward to the Lenten season of 2012.  My wife and I abstain from meat during the Fridays of Lent.  We have found that the California Fish Grill is a great place to eat during Lent and we’ve gone there religiously  since.  It was there I discovered their very tasty Cajun Salmon salad. After Lent ended, I had a two-week, six country business trip in Northern Europe.  During that trip I found myself able to order and enjoy freshly caught salmon every day.

I have eaten more salmon in 2012 than I have eaten my 46 years previous on the plant. What I have learned this year is that there are two types of salmon.  Free and farmed.  Farmed salmon tends to be less expensive as well as bland.  Farmed salmon is best served with sauces and preparation that bring flavor to the fish.    Fresh salmon that has been caught (typically in Northern regions) is usually much more expensive, much more enjoyable and does not require a great deal more preparation other than grilling.  The rich flavor of the fish stands on its own.  I have also learned that in certain areas that do not have access to fresh free salmon, all one will get  is overpriced farmed salmon.  Never pay high prices for farmed salmon unless the preparation will justify the cost.

I have cataloged some of the best salmon dishes that I have come across on my blog.  The list is presented in order from most favored to lesser favorites.

  1. Salmon & Asparagus on Orzo

  2. Simple Salmon

  3. Cajun Salmon Salad

  4. Smokey Applewood Salmon Filet

  5. Roasted Salmon with Blackberry Jalapeno Butter Sauce

  6. Grilled Salmon from California Fish Grill

  7. Thai Specialty Salmon

  8. Chipolte Veggie Bowl with Smoked Salmon

  9. Salmon with Pesto and Pasta

Even if you don’t like salmon, may I suggest just trying the Salmon & Asparagus on served on Orzo.  If you can serve it with a nice fresh piece of Alaskan or Northern Atlantic salmon, it will be even better.

Salmon & Asparagus on Orzo Pasta

Bon appetit!

Prompt for 9 Dec: Nutrition

Prompt for 7 Dec: 12 Months, 12 Pictures

Today’s prompt was inspired by a post from  Jennifer Wells

Post your favorite picture from each month of 2012

January: A sad good-bye the day after the bride's wedding
January: A good-bye the day after the brides wedding
A very fit angel at the top of the 1000 steps cheered participants on. Click for the full effect of the view
A very fit angel at the top of the 1000 steps cheered participants on at the Mission Gorge Trail Run in February
March in Shanghai
March in Shanghai
Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Ennis Ireland in April
In May the New Yorkers came to Anaheim.
International colleagues over for a crawfish boil in June
International colleagues over for a crawfish boil in June
Meeting up with the Primos in San Francisco in July
During the Disney Half Marathon in August
Laura and I still dancing after 22 years
The castle in Nyon in October
November in D.C.
December - Someone is learning to drive.
December – Someone is learning to drive.

Prompt for 7 Dec: 12 Months, 12 Pictures

Prompt for 6 Dec: Highs and Lows

Today’s prompt is courtesy of Carolyn Rubenstein.

Year in Review As you reflect back on the happenings of 2012, what were your high points and what were your low points? What do you notice as you look back on the year as a whole?

Thinking on it, the high and low point of this year both revolve around, airplanes.  That’s been a recurring theme the last few posts, the roll of airplanes in 2012.  As I think on it some more, there were at least 30 airplanes in my year.

The high point was jumping out of a perfectly good plane to skydive for only the second time in my life.   It was an amazing experience shared with a friend from work.  We crawled into this piece of crap plane with a pull down door make of what seemed like it was made out of cellophane.  We took off and climbed up over the desert.   Then one by one, people started jumping out, some on their own, others, like me in a tandem.

My favorite part is still the image of the plane flying away from us as we fell.  There was nothing below us but brown Southern California desert.  It didn’t seem that we were falling that fast.  Then the parachute opened and the world became quiet.

The video of my landing is below.

What I didn’t tell anyone about that landing is that I injured my tailbone.    I was uncomfortable for about 4 weeks, especially during my flights to and around Europe later that month.  It was still all good.

The low point was in March when I had to get on a plane to China.  My daughter had a cheer competition that day and I had to miss it.  The Child has been cheering for 7 years now.  Prior to that day, I had never missed one of her competitions.   I complained about them all.  I complained about the early call time and the endless waiting.  But during those 3 minutes when her teams perform, it’s completely worth everything, the money, the time, the pickups and drop offs, it’s all worth it.

In the course of a season my daughter’s team may have 7 to 10 competitions.  Normally, I have the luxury of setting my own travel schedule and I never miss big events.  I may run to the airport later that day, but I don’t miss competitions completely.   I did this trip.

That Saturday morning, the team had a competition at Universal Studios.  We would have driven carpool that morning, but we had to made a stop at LAX.   So I loaded my bags in the car, we drove to my daughter’s school and we dropped her off to be carpooled to the competition.   I felt horrible.  My daughter didn’t care at all.  It was strange to get on a plane and know that by time they told me to turn off my phone, the Child would be warming up to perform.   The text that would tell me they won would not come for 14 hours later when I was in the back of a car, heading to my hotel.  I smiled, wished I had been there and closed my eyes to rest.

They won

Decades after I graduated college my mom once told me how bad she felt that she couldn’t come to my freshman orientation.  She had to work.  Now I know how she felt.

Prompt for 6 Dec: Highs and Lows