Week 240 November 3, 2018

This week started with Loren caregiving his Mom as per his usual weekly schedule, and with me running usual weekly errands, but I was shocked this week with seeing Santa Claus chocolate candy being stocked on shelves at the supermarket. Then I saw a huge Christmas tree and holiday decorations at the Mall. THEN I saw holiday cards for sale at the Post Office! The topper that evening was seeing a Disney holiday show advertisement during a Warrior’s game. But, if all that were not enough, the next day I saw a Christmas tree on a neighbor’s porch. This was all before Halloween… Too much!


We heard this week from our dear friends from Shanghai who we had met in Nepal while they were on their honeymoon. This year they completed their French Way of El Camino de Santiago de Compostella – you can see her holding their Certificates in the photo below. And, lucky them, they continued on past Santiago to the Atlantic Coast for the Finesterra Camino – the ‘End of the World’ at Cape Fisterra.

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On Tuesday I taught three Bikram Yoga classes in the same day. I think that is my first time doing so and I will do so again next week. I have had a regular routine of teaching the 6am and 7:45am classes each week on Tuesdays. It was nice this week to also teach the 6:30pm, to see different students and to offer them a different teacher at that time. Then it was time for the holiday of the week, Halloween. We started our day with having two long put-off important meetings with a tax accountant and an attorney,

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and that evening, the 13 year old boy who is also staying long term at our AirBnB wore an FBI costume this year, and he wrote up a citation for Loren which included such creative violations as: Failure to wear a costume, Insufficient laughing, and Inappropriate dance moves! 

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Our friend and his Mom then went off to their church for a Halloween party, while Loren and I went off Trick or Treating at a friends’ daughter’s home where our friends were helping hand out candy. We took them the treat of a bottle of bubbly to celebrate our one friend’s retirement, memorably on the day of Halloween. She was duly surprised and touched, and we were delighted to help commemorate the special day.

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Loren and I have now traveled to Lodi, California for our first of their 22nd annual Sand Hill Crane Festivals. We had been enamored of the crane preserves and foundations we had previously stopped to see on our journeying in Nebraska and Wisconsin. These had reminded us of cranes that we had seen in the wild in Florida, Africa and Bhutan. Now this weekend festival offers us an opportunity to witness an actual migration of Sand Hill Cranes in person, which we understand is on par with the wondrous Wildebeest migration, which we had also witnessed when we were in Africa. 

On our drive to arrive here yesterday, we saw a flock of about a dozen Sand Hill Cranes with their black tipped huge wingspan fly right over our car. We saw a few larger flocks in the distance as we continued onward. We then stopped along the way for a little break and an easy hike at Big Break, where we saw the vast California Delta up close.

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As we continued our walk, we found that the regional park included several placards with information about the delta’s history and its environs. We even saw a little girl catch her first fish with the help of her grandparents while we were here. 

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The park also hosts a wonderful diorama map laid out, showing the delta, Mount Diablo with its wide range, and the major central valley cities. There is a cute video on the park’s website with a 7 year old boy showing off the full schematic – you can visit it at: https://youtu.be/EyCfw0XH_tM

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Loren and I then arrived yesterday evening where we are staying for a couple of nights at an AirBnB on a ranch, complete with at least a dozen horses, a herd of sheep, three dogs and the rancher couple who created this place 40 years ago. Our accommodation is in their private Bunk House, a perfect setting for a respite before the festival activities start up later this afternoon.

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I will always remember how when Loren pointed out some construction cranes that we saw in Italy, our friends there said they are called Grus, like the bird. It was only then that I connected that our construction cranes were likely also named for the enormous bird! I am excited to see how many of the other species of bird on this checklist we might encounter on the three tours that we have signed up for over today and tomorrow. 


Week 228 August 11, 2018

We are definitely noticing early signs of autumn here, maybe you are too. Indicators are how the sun goes down earlier, we have some cooler air, oleander trees and bushes are losing their blossoms making colorful carpets on the ground, even a couple of trees in the neighborhood have already turned half of their green leaves to a lovely peachy-rose.

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A nice event for us this week was when Loren hosted a BBQ for his Mom & sister at their home. It was intimately the four of us, and his grilling was appreciated. Another highlight was that in teaching two more Bikram yoga classes this week, I noticed that while I have usually felt like I provided the yogis attending with a decent class, I felt proud to find my dialog flowing more professionally. It seems like I have moved on from being a beginning instructor to more of an experienced one. I look forward to leading my next scheduled class this coming week.

Loren and I also visited a newer medical center, trying to track down some of his earlier medical records. When we walked in, we immediately recognized the glass chandelier as a Chihuly, from when we first saw this art style at the Bellagio in Las Vegas back in 2009. We have since seen more displays of this art in other places through our world travels.


A big event for us this week included more appreciation of art – that of Vincent Van Gogh. In preparation for it, I read a chapter in Alain De  Botton’s The Art of Travel, which Loren was reading. His timing could not have been better. De Botton includes the unique style Van Gogh took in representing nature by publishing companion photos of the original subject and Van Gogh’s rendition. I have to say that I actually find Van Gogh’s renditions more appealing than the photos show of the original scenes that he portrayed… 

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The event was held in Los Altos, a city near San Jose, at their History Museum. Attendees were invited to bring a picnic to enjoy in their gardens beforehand. Loren and I were joined by several friends from our UU Fellowship before the main event…

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After our light meal, we were invited to browse the current indoor exhibition of local artists’ renditions of areas of the history of Los Altos. Three pieces stood out for me – the one of the Hewlett and Packard garage as I worked at HP for some years, another is the heritage orchard which reminds me of the similar one in Sunnyvale where Loren and I lived for many years before moving to San Jose, the third is the childhood home of Steve Jobs with another famous garage where his and Steve Wozniak’s Apple was started… 

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And, the main event that evening was an outdoor showing of the movie Loving Vincent.  A few more of our friends arrived to watch with us, making it extra special. The movie was just as good as Loren and I remembered from when we first saw it in New Zealand in February. I laughed and cried again, one benchmark for me of a wonderful movie!


After the fun comes the sad news this week in that early on we have awakened to strange looking skies, filled with smoky haze from the tragic raging fires. Now the weather has turned and our skies here are clear again, but the public servants’ battles continue, to bring containment. 

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Speaking of tragedy, I was reminded this week of one from my own family’s history. My brother and his beautiful family are in Florida for vacation…


and they tracked down the address of the oceanfront home from where, back in 1955, my great-aunt and her husband mysteriously disappeared. That was two years before I was born. It took five years to solve the case of their murders, an excruciating period of time for our family elders. I had always heard of Manalapan as the sparsely populated place were this couples’ lives were cold-heartedly extinguished. I had looked for it once or twice on a map, but had never made a priority to try to find the exact spot when I was in Florida in the past. Through my brother and his family’s visit there this week and our FaceTime afterwards, I almost feel like I have been there paying my respects too. 

The location is now unofficially designated “Chillingworth Curve” per one of the articles that commemorate the 50th and 60th anniversary of the mindless crime in the respective links below. Their original dwelling is no longer standing, but its image is captured in the 60th anniversary article.



The current walled off structure that stands in its place and that my sister-in-law snapped a photo of, is part of an elite community there now. 


I aim to finish this week’s post on a lighter note. August 10 was the Feast Day of San Lorenzo, or Saint Lawrence, martyred by edict of the Roman Empire. He is coincidentally Patron of Rome, students, miners, tanners, chefs, poor, and firefighters [emphases added by me]. I am attracted to this Saint in part because his name is the same as Loren’s in Italian, and many know how at times Loren refers to himself as Chef Lorenzo. My hope this week is that Saint Lawrence might provide protection to the thousands of our currently active Californian and other visiting firefighters.

The day following that – today, is the Feast Day of Saint Clare of Assisi. Ever since I stumbled across the notion of Feast Days a few years ago, I am always tickled to think how my namesake’s Feast Day follows Loren’s namesake’s Feast Day by one day. More commonly known as Patron of clairvoyance, eye disease, laundry, embroiderers, gilders, needleworkers, good weather, telephones, telegraphs and television, I discovered too that Saint Clare is honored in the Philippines as Patron of childless couples – to which category Loren and I are members.


Week 143 December 24, 2016

Hello, we hope that you too had a great Christmas!
This post is a little late as this week Loren and I visited for four nights in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. We stayed first at an AirBnB for two nights in La Plata. Our host had two adorable sibling kittens named Cobre, which means Copper, and Felicidad for Happiness, who were entertaining. Loren was able to practice speaking Spanish, however, in Argentina there is a dialect spoken that is different from what we learned in school. For example, “You” familiar, is said, Bos here, not Tu.
Two more nights were spent at an AirBnB with a family and their dog, Athena, in Lujan, said Loo-han. The father is quite an artist as a hobby. The elder son is talented in playing the guitar, while his girlfriend likes to sing. The younger son is playful and fun.
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We were all anticipating Navidad – Christmas, but, for us from the Northern Hemisphere, it felt unusual as it is summer and calor – hot, during the day in Buenos Aires. We had several laughs trying to translate certain ideas. We learned more of the dialect, for example, Sho, rather than Yo for I, and, Cashe, instead of Calle for street. As the mother spoke no English I was inspired to try a bit with my limited Spanish too. When Loren asked their word for Nun, they taught us it is Monka. When queried if the masculine would be Monko? The father quickly said, “No, no monkey!”
We were privileged to celebrate the older son’s 16th birthday, with this family hosting a traditional BBQ. At the start of the evening his parents, his aunt, uncle, Loren and I shared a traditional communal drink. It is called Mate, which Loren wondered if it was marijuana? No! It is a little like coffee or tea, served in one metallic cup with a special – usually silver, straw. This is one aspect of our travels that Loren and I most appreciate – to be able to spend time with the local people to learn more about their culture. And this family appreciates opening their home to travelers, for their sons to learn more about the larger world in their own home environment. 

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When the evening turned to well after midnight, Google Translate described what they were then saying as, “The night is in diapers.” We finally understood this to mean, “The night is young!” And, they meant it! The boy and his friends who had already arrived before we went to bed, went out to town to celebrate, at about 3am…
On our last day in Argentina, we went with the family to visit at the home of the aunt and uncle who we met the previous evening. They have two rescued owls which are among my favorite birds,
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and a rescued pigeon! We had a lovely visit with an additional friend there and the sons of the aunt and uncle. The older one’s girlfriend gifted us with a lovely Christmas ornament that she had made by hand.
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Then we bid a fond farewell to this lovely family after we returned to their home. 
Loren and I then had a nearly a two hour drive to the airport, for a 5 hour overnight flight.
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This was followed by a change of planes in Miami on our way to New York for Christmas afternoon and dinner with my brother and his family. My older niece’s beau was able to share this special time with us too. Santa brought my younger niece her first car, and she is beside herself with delight in it. We so enjoyed watching the movie, Elf together, which is competing with Polar Express for Loren’s and my second choice, after It’s a Wonderful Life of all time favorite holiday movies. After dinner we watched a recording of Loren’s favorite Golden State Warriors competing with the Cleveland Cavaliers in basketball, which had a disappointing outcome for us Californians. Despite that, it was another wonderful, memorable family gathering for us to cherish!
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Now Loren and I wish you a very Happy 2017!

Week 141 December 10, 2016

¡Felices Fiestas! Season’s Greetings!
We were still in Tampa, Florida at the start of this week, visiting with cousins. We were happy to see the finished draft of memoirs that cousin his daughter was capturing the last time we were here, about travels during his career at Exxon. It is going off to the printer soon, just in time for celebrating his 90th birthday this coming week. One day we helped him to the Emergency Room for some precautionary tests. We have since learned that he is doing fine! Overall, we enjoyed good conversation and nice meals together, sharing more about family history and traveling. I regret that I did not take a single photo during this time, though have precious memories regardless.
From Tampa we drove to nearby Punta Gorda, also on the Gulf coast, where we had a memorable visit with a dear high school friend of mine and her mother. We packed a lot of wonderful activity into this regrettably short visit, which included an excellent evening seeing youth in a Performing Arts Christmas Showcase, especially to see their friend participate.
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We all appreciated a lunch date with my Bikram Yoga Teacher Training friend and her partner from Freiburg, Germany, who also happened to be visiting Florida. We arranged for them to stop by at my friend’s home on their way from Miami to Sarasota. With our friends we also attended Sunday mass, and, toasted to another beautiful sunset on the beach, as we did when we were together here last time. Before leaving, we said sorrowful goodbyes to their beloved cat, Harpy.
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We then drove to see a cousin in Lauderdale Lakes on the Atlantic coast for another too short visit. At 94 years young, she seems not a day older than 70. Well, maybe 75… Loren had not seen this cousin since his bicycle ride from California to Massachusetts fotty, yep, that is not a typo, it is her strong Massachusetts’ accent – “party” sounds similarly unique – 40 years ago. We had a memorable time with her and some of her friends who we met at Bingo. She won 3 of the many games we played during that evening. Loren and I also won $5 in a raffle!
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One morning during our visit, Loren and I drove a little north to Palm Beach Gardens take a Bikram Yoga class from a littermate from my Bikram Yoga Teacher Training, and enjoyed a sweet lunch together afterwards at her home.
With our cousin we drove to Miami, where we had a brief though sweet visit with my Godmother. She actually turned 94 this week, but is weaker physically than she was when we saw her two years ago. She was unable to show us how she feeds the cats and ducks who frequent her back yard, as she did on our last visit. She has very good neighbors who ensure that her needs are met. We reminisced about all our travels and had a meaningful time together. Again, I regret having taken no photos, though I do have treasured memories of this visit too.
Then we went to visit our cousin’s daughter along with her husband. They raised their children just a few miles away from my Godmother’s home, but we had not known that before. She prepared a lovely dinner and we spent our last night in the United States, for now, together catching up on each others’ lives. Their daughter also takes Bikram Yoga classes at a studio that I had visited two years ago. Meeting their son has to wait for another time, as he was away working on a deep sea fishing excursion.
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We bade our farewells, returned the rental car, and flew from Miami to Buenos Aires overnight. Our flight from Miami was delayed an hour due to weather conditions, which caused us more than a little concern, because we already had a tight schedule to make our next flight from the regional airport…
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Fortunately, baggage retrieval, passport control, customs, car transportation, and traffic all went smoothly from the main city airport, allowing us to arrive with time to spare. We learned that this day was a national holiday, so normal commute traffic was absent. The tour officially begins a day before the cruise departs, so had we missed our flight we had leeway. The regional airport departure area was festively decorated for the holiday season, and our flight to Ushuaia, said Ush-why-ah, the southernmost city in the world, went well.
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It is quite mountainous terrain here at Tierra del Fuego.
Loren and I settled in for our overnight at the hotel, then hiked a couple of hours to a vantage point of Del Glaciar: Martial Glacier. The clouds formed and dissipated repeatedly giving us only glimpses of the grandeur. It seemed as if we had all the time in the world to return to our accommodation, as daylight lasted well past 10:30pm. 
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On our walk back we enjoyed seeing a rainbow over the port, with still wonderful views of the harbor during dinner. Tomorrow we will tour a National Park before boarding our ship to sail away to Antarctica…
PLEASE NOTE: for the rest of December, we may have limited internet access, so, please check back here again for when we can next post to this site.

Week 140 December 3, 2016

We Wish You Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!! Hope You have a Wonderful 2017!!!
It is already December. This week has mostly been one of reloading our van – sorting, storing, packing and preparing for our next adventure – in Antarctica! While in New York for most of this week, we continued our practice of daily Bikram yoga classes in Yorktown Heights. It was hard to bid farewell for now to the wonderful community of people there.
We also had the delight of a spontaneous lunch date with my brother and his wife at their lake house, and, thoroughly enjoyed our evening dinner date with them, and their daughters. Here is a treasured photo from Thanksgiving of the girls, with us – can you see me in the background and Uncle Loren’s reflection in the mirror? Now their home and front lawn are already decked out for Christmas…
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Loren and I had a special dinner too with friends in New York City. Before we met them at their home, we walked the blocks from Grand Central, going by The Chrysler Building. I could not resist a traditional hot pretzel while we passed by so many other outstanding City attractions… like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, sparkling from a recent cleaning.
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New York brings to mind a line from from Silver Bells: “City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style,” with the tree at Rockefeller Center all set to be lit, framed by the already twinkling angels with golden instruments, and, buildings trimmed in ribbons and lights.
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The busiest building that we saw was across the street from cordoned off Trump tower, where a peaceful protest progressed.
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We then walked through a part of Central Park to see one of Yoko Ono’s tributes to John Lennon, a permanent meditation area named Strawberry Fields with a mandala featuring “Imagine” and bordering benches.
We finished the evening with our friends at the “breast table” in the house – that is not a typo, we had a great time at a table beneath a bigger than life work of body art, with our waiter helping to make the evening more memorable. Then Loren and I enjoyed more city views as we walked back to Grand Central for our train home.
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Now we have had an early morning flight requiring us to rise in the week hours to arrive in Florida for a week. Here we are visiting a few of our dear family members and friends. As we drove from Floridian ocean to gulf, we had a view of this sunset as we crossed a bridge, also reflected in a nearby car’s side mirror – it is almost duplicated by the brake light of the car in front, but not quite.
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Outside our AirBnB near Tampa, we found these fun paw prints that shine at night, a fun way to represent our own footsteps as we continue along on our amazing world journey.
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PLEASE NOTE: for the rest of this month, it is possible that we may have limited internet access, so, please check back again for when we are next able to post to this site.

REPOSTING in Progress: Weeks 2 to 109

This place holder is for the entries from our original blog to be added, eventually. Please check back – this re-creation is a labor of Love and will take a bit of  t-i-m-e- which, while still traveling, we do not always have a lot available to devote to this.