Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015 and the Washington Huskies Bowl Game

As is tradition, Christmas Day was spent at our home exchanging gifts, dining and enjoying the friendship of the Contreras side of the family. 

 Laurie set out a fine dinner table

She also set out a hearty snack table

Jacob opening the first of his many presents

The family gathered in the living room

Jacob is all business with his gifts

Cousin Max was in the house!

Max's Mom, our niece Lauren,
was happy

Jacob and Mike fighting over a gift

Jacob happy with a
"Magic Wand" from Spain

My sister Marilyn got just what she wanted

With my sister Linda and Jacob

With Mary, Lauren and Jacob

Cousins Max and Jacob both
looking WAY to innocent

Jacob in jail

My Mother and Mary

Mary checking out my reading glasses

Dinner with Mom and Linda

Linda, Laurie, Vanessa and Mary

Laurie did another amazing job organizing, decorating and cooking on this wonderful family occasion!

Thank you!!!

The day after Christmas was the day of the Washington Huskies' bowl game. The 6-6 Dawgs were playing the 9-4 Southern Mississippi in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

With a properly attired Jacob and Mike

We gathered at our house to watch the game. It was an entertaining contest, especially because . . .


Reading Is FUNdamental

 Yet another fun read from the
Master of the Sicilian crime genre

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

American Football News from Pasadena, California and Gdańsk, Poland

So, when we arrived back from our fun-filled trip to Maui and Seattle, we found a rather heavy package waiting for us on our doorstep .

What could it be?

A brick with our names on it?
What the heck?

It had the Rose Bowl seal and had been sent to us by Mike and Susan D'Antuono.

Apparently the Rose Bowl, "The Grand Daddy of Them All," had recently started a new tradition in the front of their hallowed stadium.

Normally, as will happen this year when Stanford (11-2) plays Iowa (12-1) in the 102nd Rose Bowl Game on January 1st, this game is a PAC-12 vs. BIG-10 affair. It has been this way almost every year since 1947's game until the old BCS and now the Playoff System interrupted things a few years ago.

The Rose Bowl's idea with this brick we received is to give supporters of PAC-12 and BIG-10 (11, 12, 13, 14?) universities a chance to show their school pride by placing a brick in this new courtyard.

Paul Sabolic by the University of
Washington's spot on the RB's Courtyard

 We sit next to the Sabolics and D'Antuonos

Thank you Mike and Susan!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, back in Poland . . .

2016 PLFA II
Re-Alignment Announced

In 2015, the PLFA II division was composed of 21 teams divided into four geographically based conferences. Three of these conferences had five teams while the fourth had six squads.

Over this past weekend the PLFA head honchos met to re-align Division II for the upcoming Summer season.

Their first problem was that in 2016 the number of Division II teams would rise from 21 to 25.

The answer was was simple enough, the teams will be divided into five, five-team conferences named Groups A North, Group B Central, Group C Southeast, Group D South and Group E West. In a fit of economic responsibility, the five Groups are based on geography. WHAT A CONCEPT!

In the Spanish DII 2015 season, our Murcia Cobras longest road trip was to Santurzi, a round trip distance of 1,000 miles. Our shortest road trip in Spain last season was to Reus, a mere 610 miles round trip.

In Group A North, our Wikingowie (Vikings) longest road trip will be to Toruń, a round trip distance of 210 miles while our shortest bus ride will be to Słupsk, only 150 miles round trip.

What are these crazy Poles thinking?

Can I get a HALLELUJAH!!!

In 2016, your Gdańsk Wikingowie will compete in Group A North.

Poland's Five Regional DII Groups

Group A North is the light green one in the, logically, far North of Poland.

Let's take a closer look at the teams making up the newly aligned Group A North . . .

The Gdańsk Wikingowie
PLFA members since 2015

The Wikingowie are easily America's favorite PLFA II team. The Wikingowie finished their initial season with a 1-5 record which would have tied them for fourth place but an overall scoring differential of -104 points officially dropped them into fifth place.

The Bydgoszcz Archers
PLFA members since 2011
Round Trip Distance 208 miles

The Archers were in the same DII Group as the Wikingowie in 2015 finishing with a 4-2 record good for a second place tie in the Group. They finished the year outscoring their opponents by 22 points which dropped them into third place as the team they tied with, the Poznań Patrioci, outscored their opponents by 35 points.

The Słupsk Griffons
PLFA members since 2008
Round Trip Distance 150 miles

The Griffons were also in the same DII Group as the Wikingowie and Archers in 2015. They finished with a 1-5 record having split their two game with the Wikingowie. The Griffons  won the fourth place tie-breaker by virtue of a better scoring differential of -88 points.

The two best teams in our 2015 Group were the 5-1 Zielona Góra Dragons and the 4-2 Poznań Patrioci. The Dragons went 1-1 in the PLFA II playoffs while the Patrioci lost their first round playoff game. Both of these teams are leaving our Group A and will compete in Group E West of the PLFA II in 2016.

The Toruń Angels
PLFA members since 2012
Round Trip Distance 210 miles

In 2016, the Angels played in the stronger PLFA I where they had a 1-7 record. In DI they were outscored by 169 points. Thus they will compete in DII in 2016.

The Olsztyn Lakers
PLFA members since 2011
Round Trip Distance 202 miles

In 2016, the Lakers competed in a different DII Group than the Winkigowie, Archers and Griffons. In their Group, the Lakers finished 3-3, good for fourth place and were outscored by 37 points on the campaign.

We still do not have the dates of our games but we anticipate a mid-July start to the season with the six game regular season ending in mid-September. When we know, you'll know.

Enough of American football, time for news of a more cultural nature . . .

We caught a Sunday matinee play
in beautiful Ojai

We had seen this comedic, four-person twist on Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1935 movie The 39 Steps twice  in London and loved it. This production in artsy Ojai was every bit as good as the versions we saw overseas.

It was great fun on a rainy Sunday afternoon!

On the Road for Two Weeks: Hawaii and Seattle

Time to do a little catching up . . .

Thanks to an invitation from our friends Mark and Susie Johnson, we started our Holiday Season with a flight to Seattle to join them and our new friends Mike and Susie Carlin for a few fun days in Kihei, Maui, HAWAII!!!

The view from our palatial condo in Maui

Food and . . .

. . . libations were the order of the day

First Friday festivities in Wailuku with
Laurie (6), Susie C. (4) and Susie J. (1)

Our son Andy said we should
definitely eat here, so we did!

No, that is not me

GREAT breakfast spot,
low in calories too

Laurie loves the beach

View from the condos'  pool

Again with the food

SICILIAN pistachio ice cream, YUM!!!

Heaven on earth?

Christmas time in Lahaina

Part of Lahaina's charming old town

It was time for Susie Johnson's  birthday
dinner at the amazing Hula Grill

Happy 29th Birthday Susie!

Blowing out the birthday candle

Things you see on an early morning walk

The ocean front lawn of our condo

Sunset in Maui

The Johnsons

The Carlins


Mike calling dibs at our latest dinner table

We had an incredibly enjoyable five days in the 50th state before returning for a week in Seattle.

Again, you see interesting things
on a morning walk in Seattle too

A Montlake Bridge tower

Husky Stadium

Chilly Lake Washington

George W. Contreras
Class of 1969

U of W Quad

U of W Quad

U of W Quad

Denny Hall
The U of W's oldest building

U of W's Henry Suzzallo Library

Suzzallo Library's Reading Room

Mossy Tree at the U of W entrance

Not the biggest but I believe the
best burger I've ever consumed

Cool totem near the Johnson home

Today's walk led me through . . .

. . . a wondrous wetland

We're not in Hawaii anymore

Husky Stadium from a different view

I like . . .

. . . the color green

Red too it turns out

It rained the night before in Seattle

Imagine that . . .

Nice old bench

Moss is SO in this season

Towards the end of our stay, we drove up to Camano Island to see the Johnson's new "cabin."

"Stately Manor" would be a better term.

Camano Island's eclectic bus stop
for aliens and their UFOs

GREAT breakfast at this cafe

The view of a rainy Puget Sound
from the Johnson's cabin

A MUST when you visit Seattle

Dangerous Mushroom

Not eating this one either

With Jason Johnson

On our last Sunday in Seattle, Mark and Susie hosted their annual Christmas party.

Our friend and former Catania Elephant QB Jason, no relation to Mark and Susie, was invited to the party.

It was great to catch up with him but we missed his wife Christy who was visiting her family in Canada.

Lake Union

Fall moving into Winter

The Johnson Home was all decked out for Christmas as we headed to the airport

One last shot for Ivar's clam  chowder
before boarding the plane

As always, it was a whirlwind 12 days
with the Johnsons in Hawaii and Seattle

And it was SO much fun too, THANK YOU!!!

Reading Is FUNdamental

Jack Reacher kept his kill-to-page ratio
fairly low in this one

Mary Russell becomes
Sherlock Holmes' apprentice

I liked it.