Monday, December 31, 2018

A Busy Holiday Week

Wednesday, December 26 - Monday, December 31, 2018

It was a week to finish off all of the Christmas festivities and start preparing for New Year's Day and the 105th Rose Bowl game between the Big-10 Champion Ohio State University Buckeyes (12-1) and your PAC-12 Champion University of Washington Huskies (10-3).

An early week sleepover
with Jacob made for a good
start to the week

Spending time romping about our local park is always high on Jacob's list of things to do on one of his sleepovers.

The day after Jacob's sleepover, we were joined by Mike as we headed to Pasadena to do some early Rose Bowl shopping before the multitudes arrived on January 1st.

Jacob and Mike in the Arroyo Seco

 This huge souvenir store just outside
the Rose Bowl was still stocking their wares

They would not start sales until the next day so I search for gear would have to continue in Old Town Pasadena.

Jacob by the relatively new
Rose Bowl Court

Lots of dedicated bricks in the
Rose Bowl Court . . .

 . . . like these three

Thanks to the efforts of Mike and Susan D'Antuono, the names of Paul and Joanne Sabolic plus our names were added to the Court back in 2015 as part of the "S Cal Huskies" in the section of the Court dedicated to Washington Husky fans.


Jacob imitating Jackie Robinson

This statue of Robinson, easily the greatest athlete to ever grow up in the athletically talent rich city of Pasadena, shows him in the #55 jersey he wore when he played for the old Pasadena Junior College Bulldogs.

His old school is now known as Pasadena City College and has changed their nickname to Lancers.

Of course, after his days at PJC, Robinson went on to insane athletic success at UCLA lettering in football, basketball, baseball and track!

Of course, his most famous athletic feat came when he signed a baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers thus breaking organized baseball's notorious "Color Barrier."

He would become major league baseball's first black player when he joined the Dodgers in 1947.

He was inducted into Baseball's Hall-of-Fame in 1962 on his first ballot.

Robinson died at the way too early age of 53 in 1972.

Laurie and I attended this game
35 years ago with the D'Antuonos

THIRTY-FIVE years ago?

How is that possible?

We weren't born yet for this one

We found what we wanted in
Old Town Pasadena

So many decisions to help improve Pasadena's economy.


After buying out the store, we opted to buy some pizzas in South Pasadena before going to visit my Mother in the ancestral Casa Contreras for lunch.

Near the Blaze Pizza Shop we stopped
at this modest South Pasadena home

Why you ask?

Because back in the day, it was the home of one . . .

Pee Wee Herman!

It is located at 1848 Oxley St. which is near its intersection with . . .

. . . Milan Ave.

Only a little over two weeks until the flight back to Lombardia and our beloved Varese Skorpions.

Speaking of the Skorpions . . .

. . . what do you think about our
2019 coaching shorts

Great Grandma Chuny with Jacob

Two happy campers after a few slices of good pizza.

We just had to let Jacob run
amok in San Marino's great park
before the one hour drive home

 Mary was at our house on Friday
night still enjoying her Christmas gifts

Saturday was a somber day.

We attended a celebration of
the life of legendary good guy and
Newbury Park Coach George Hurley

George was that rare person who always placed others before himself while being one of the most successful, respected and well liked football coaches in Ventura County history.

The celebration was held at Newbury Park High School's stadium whose field bears his name. The stands were packed on a crisp, sunny day as we remembered our dear friend who passed away after a heroic 14 year battle with cancer.

He will always live in our hearts.

The Rams finished the regular season 
on a good note!

Thank goodness that the Rams
defensive line held up strong

Much of the 49ers scoring came long after the final outcome was decided. The Rams led 48-17 early in the fourth quarter.

The Rams finished with a 13-3 regular season record and the NFC West Division title. Their record earned them the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs and a much needed first round bye.

As I write this blog post on the last day of 2018, I can only think of tomorrow's big game in Pasadena.

Our group of seven (Brian and Koreen FitzGerald, Ryan Bolland, Mike, Jacob, Laurie and myself) will drive down early Tuesday morning to enjoy a long tailgating experience before entering the Rose Bowl in time for the 2:00 p.m. kickoff which sees the Buckeyes as a six point favorite. The over/under is 57 points.

This will be the eighth Rose Bowl that Laurie and I have attended that involved the Huskies. The Dawgs are 5-2 in the Rose Bowls that we have attended so far.

Getting a sixth Rose Bowl win will be a tall order.

A review of our previous Husky Rose Bowls . . .

Washington (8-4) 27
Michigan (10-2) 20


Hope for 2019?

Michigan (10-2) 23
Washington (9-3) 6


Washington (10-2) 28
Iowa (8-4) 0


Washington (10-2) 46
Iowa (8-4) 34

Shoot out.

Washington (12-0) 34
Michigan (10-2) 14


Michigan (9-0-3) 38
Washington (9-3) 31

Back and forth.

Washington (11-1) 34
Purdue (8-4) 24

Beating a team with Drew Brees at QB is never easy.

Washington (10-3)
Ohio State (12-1)

I'm trying to channel the 1978 Husky upset mojo for this one.

Thus I am wearing the Husky hat
created by, and given to me by,
Mark Johnson back in 1978 

I only hope that it doesn't disintegrate.

 Reading Is FUNdamental!

Liked it

Laurie has read and enjoyed several of Greeley's works in the past. This was my first one.

If you went to a Catholic school in the late 1950s and early 1960s as I did, then you would enjoy this book immensely for its historical perspective on the upheaval that was going on in the Church in those turbulent days.


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Day 2018

Christmas Day
December 25, 2018

As has been our long standing Christmas tradition, we would once again host our family on this most special day of the year.

I say "we" extremely loosely as the wonderful things that happen every Christmas in our home is 99% because of Laurie's efforts, certainly not mine.

Having only two days to get our home in order since returning from Hawaii made her task even more difficult this year.

Unfortunately, Andy, Jenn and Kevin would not be with us from Las Vegas as they were saving their holiday traveling for next week when they join us for the Rose Bowl game.

Additionally, our niece Lauren's family would not make this year either due to her son's severe bout of the flu and she did not want to expose us.

We would proceed undaunted with my Mother Chuny, sisters Marilyn and Linda and Mike, Vanessa, Jacob and Mary as our guests.

Jacob and I were still having fun!

Mary scored BIG with a variety
of the movie Frozen gifts

Mike and Marilyn are seen here enjoying her moment.

Vanessa smiling at Jacob's
latest Lego Star Wars kit

Mike and Marilyn helping Mary
open another Frozen gift

This year Jacob parlayed his reading ability into the job of Santa giving gifts to the appropriate people.

 Laurie's snack buffet was sumptuous


FOUR flavors of dolce delight!

 Great Aunt Marilyn and
Jacob sharing a hug

Great Aunt Linda enjoying a
photo op with Jacob

 Laurie always serves a GREAT
Christmas dinner

Great Grandmother Chuny
having a post-dinner Frozen
tea party with Mary

Mary watching one of her
new Frozen toys do its thing

With my Mother Chuny and sisters
Linda and Marilyn

Time for Jacob and Mary to
head home to Oxnard

Being with family on Christmas is always a good thing!

We just wish that illness and distance had not prevented us all being together.


Monday, December 24, 2018

Our last day on Maui, Another Football Sunday and a Christmas Eve Mass

Saturday, December 22 - Monday, December 24, 2018

A hectic weekend began with our unwanted departure from Maui after a joyous eight day vacation.

I dropped the Johnsons off at Maui's Kahului Airport in time for their Noon flight home to Seattle but we still much of the day left for us to enjoy island life as our flight to Los Angeles did not take off until 5:00 p.m.

Thus I stopped off at the Sugar Museum
to learn a bit about Maui's main crop
back in the day

It was a modest looking
museum building from the outside

This huge piece of machinery was
somehow used in cultivating the
sugar cane fields

Sugar cane plantations boomed following the signing of the 1875 Reciprocity Treaty that allowed Hawaii to sell sugar to the United States without paying duties or taxes.

The two big names in Maui's Sugar History to remember are Samuel Thomas Alexander (1836-1904) and Henry Perrine Baldwin (1842-1910).

In 1869 they bought 12 acres of land just below the village of Makawao that we visited Friday night. The following year they began growing sugar cane and the rest as they say is history.

Who is that on the rope going
down into the Maliko Gulch?

Why none other than our Sugar History Hero, Henry Perrine Baldwin!

Construction of the historic Hamakua Irrigation Ditch (1876-1878) almost came to a halt when the workers balked at the danger in placing pipes up and down the Gulch's precipice via the need to lower themselves over the cliffs by rope, hand over hand.

Mr. Baldwin, who had lost his right arm years ago in a mill accident, shamed the workers by using his legs and one good arm to go down the 200 foot cliff first and then, I'm sure, asking his workers how big their pineapples were.

The ultra-important irrigation ditch got built and the sugar cane industry in Maui exploded thanks in no small part to Mr. Baldwin's great leadership by example.

Early 20th-century
Sugar Cane Workers

Rotary Club Meets Here?

A Sugar Cane Plantation
Baseball Team

This 1938 AAU National
Silver Medal by a Sugar Cane
worker was followed by . . .

. . . a Gold Medal in 1940

Sumo Wrestling in the 1920s to
pass the time on Maui

Cock Fighting was a staple
on Maui beginning in 1906

Although illegal today, apparently you can still find a cock fight on Maui if you are into that sort of thing.

A Portuguese Oven

The Portuguese were a big part of the immigration pattern to Maui in the early 20th-century. These ovens were used to cook all sorts of meats and to bake bread.

The first time that Laurie and I game to Maui in the early 1980s we stayed at Seabury Hall in Makawao as part of a week long football coaches clinic/vacation.

Seabury Hall is a boarding school whose students were gone in the Summer so the coaches and their wives took over their rooms and got the use of the school's vans to enjoy Maui by day and then clinic by night.

The Hall's cook was a Portuguese woman who was scheduled to make us all three meals a day. We all figured that we would take advantage of her breakfasts but then eat our lunches and dinners in several of Maui's fine restaurants.


She was such a good cook that we all requested her to pack us a lunches for day trips, which she cheerfully did, and we all made sure to be back to the Hall in time for another of her amazing dinners.

I wonder if she used one of these traditional Portuguese ovens?

As for our last meal before leaving Maui today . . .

. . . it was back to our son Andy's
favorite dining spot

I had to try his favorite Coconut's dish,
the Seafood Pasta

Laurie opted for the two soft shell fish tacos and a beer.

Our flight home via Alaska Air was both on time and smooth but we did not land at LAX until 12:15 a.m. Sunday morning!


The Rams were back air it on Sunday
Los Angeles Rams (11-3) at
Arizona Cardinals (3-11)

Star Rams RB Todd Gurley II was nursing a sore knee and could not play. What would his back-up do in his stead?

He did GREAT!

Marconi ran for 167 yards on 20 carries and scored a TD.

The Rams won 31-9.

Next week, the final week of the NFL regular season, the Rams (12-3) need to beat the San Francisco 49ers (4-11) at home or have the Chicago Bears (11-4) lose to the Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1) on the road to secure the NFC's #2 seed and a first playoff week bye.

A Rams loss combined with a Chicago win gives the Bears the #2 seed based on their 15-6 victory over the Rams two weeks ago.

Meanwhile in Italy . . .

Our Skorpion U16 team lost its
semi-final playoff game on the road
against the Torino Giaguari

Still, a great season for our talented U16 club.

The U16 National Championship Game
will be played on January 6, 2019
between the Firenze Guelfi (7-0)
and the Torino Giaguari (6-1)

Christmas Eve Children's
Mass at Santa Clara Church

Santa Clara Church was all
decked out for Christmas!

Mike's Brother-in-Law Carlos,
his wife Jenny and their sons
Nathan and Nicholas were chosen to
bring the statue of baby Jesus to the
church's manger near the altar

That's Nathan carrying baby Jesus.

Jacob was one of the Shepherds
at today's Mass

After the Mass, our little Mary who
loves her brother Jacob, just had to
congratulate him on his shepherding skills

 That's our Shepherd in the middle
with the dark brown robe

With the Grandkids on the church lawn
after Jacob slipped into something a
bit more comfortable

Finally . . .

and, of course,
to all of you, your families
and your friends!