Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving Weekend With Family

Thursday, November 22 - Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving weekend, a.k.a. Turkey Day, is an especially American holiday that means that it is the for the Four Fs . . .

The Four Fs you ask?

Why yes, it is a day dedicated to all things about Family, Food, Friends and American Football . . .

 . . . but not necessarily in that order

We headed to San Marino to gather at the ancestral Contreras home to be with my Mother, my sisters Marilyn and Linda, our niece, our two sons and their families and a whole bunch of cousins and husbands. 

 Fun in the back yard

A combination Hot Wheels Moto-Cross, Over the Line game and lawn mowing session were going on simultaneously.

You had to be there . . .

Kevin, Leo, Jacob, Max and Mary
playing God only knows what

A quiet moment for a photo op

Max and Leo are my niece Lauren's sons so that makes them Mary, Kevin and Jacob's second cousins.

I think.

Jacob and Kevin

It is so much fun seeing these two cousins get along so extremely well.

Jacob and Uncle Andy
Elbow Bumping

My sister Linda is the prime chef
of every Thanksgiving meal for the last
twenty years

Laurie acts as her sous-chef but the rest of us help her in any way that we can throughout the afternoon and evening.

Ah the cousins, fully sated and
ready to go home

Thanksgiving was wonderful and all Four Fs were addressed and 100% taken care of on this glorious, sunny Southern California day.

On Friday we were off again, this time for an educational field trip to Los Angeles' La Brea Tar Pits Museum where the bones of thousands of Ice Age animals that were trapped in the nearby tar pits died thousand of years ago.

We thirsted for knowledge

They never saw or heard the
bear sneak up behind them

 This must be the place!

 Well, if it was OK for those
Saber Toothed Tigers to rough-house,
so could Kevin and Jacob

 Jacob trying to figure out
where we were in the Museum

Dire Wolf skulls behind Kevin

Thousands of these skulls of these predatory wolves have been found in the tar pits. Experts believe that they opted to prey on large animals stuck in the tar but it only led to their doom as they also became mired in the deadly goop.

 Kevin and Jacob holding up
their Museum guidebooks beneath
a Mammoth's remains

Great simulation

The boys had to pull up on their plungers to try to get them out of the tar below. It showed them how hard it was to get out of the tar pit once you were trapped.

Andy, Mike and I also tried to pull the plungers up, it was hard!

It was now lunch time as we left the Museum, so where to go?

Why not?

Even though Andy, Jenn and Kevin had stopped to eat lunch there on Tuesday on their way to Camarillo from Las Vegas, they wanted to go back.

Who were we to argue with our out of town guests?

French dipped lamb, beef and
turkey sandwiches did the trick!

The lemonade and apple pie were also made to perfection!

An iconic L.A. dining spot and a damn good place to eat.

Kevin and Jacob enjoyed
Philippe's toy train collection

Los Angeles' Union Train Station is only about a block away, hence Philippe's fascination with trains.

On the way home to Camarillo, we stopped at the Underwood Farms in Somis to check out and feed their . . .

. . . GOATS!

Jacob and Kevin also hopped
into the back of the Underwood's
wooden truck

Why was this Stanford American football
equipment truck parked down the
street from us?

Well, the Cardinal (6-4) were playing the UCLA Bruins (3-8) at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, so that probably has something to do with it.

Stanford won that contest on Saturday in a defensive 49-42 struggle.

 Friday Night was our BIG GAME . . .

 Washington Huskies (8-3)
Washington State Cougars (10-1)

The winner of this annual cross-state brawl would claim the PAC-12's Northern Division crown and get to play Southern Division champion Utah for the PAC-12 title next Friday at the San Francisco 49ers' Levis Stadium in Santa Clara.

Jacob and Kevin were ready

So was Mary sort of . . .

. . . she still thought that painting a
heart on my hand was more important
than the Apple Cup game

Kevin was nervous for the
underdog Huskies

The game started in Pullman just as the snow started to fall.

RB Myles Gaskin scoring for the Huskies

It was 7-0 Washington at the end of the First Quarter.

Chasing down Wazzu's excellent
 QB Gardner Minshew II

At the Half, it was Huskies 14 - Cougars 7, too close to get comfortable.

Gaskin again behind a Husky offensive
line that outweighed the Cougars' defensive front
seven by an average of 50 lbs. per man

At the end of the Third Quarter, the Huskies were still leading 20-15.
 Feet before hands PLEASE!

 RB Salvon Ahmed continued the
Huskies' cold weather, ground oriented
offensive assault in the Fourth Quarter

Final Score: Washington 28Washington State 15 

Washington Husky Coach  Chris Petersen
hoisting the Apple Cup

The Dawgs have now won the Apple Cup six years in a row.

So the Huskies are indeed going to . . .

. . . the PAC-12 Title Game next Friday

So are Laurie and I to see our 9-3 Huskies in a rematch with the also 9-3 Utah Utes.

We attended the regular season UW at UU game last September in Salt Lake City which the Huskies won with a bit of luck in my opinion, 21-7.

It should be an interesting game with the winner headed to the Rose Bowl.

All of this talk about American football reminds me . . .

. . . the opening of the 2019
Varese Skorpions DII season is
slated for the weekend of February 23-24

The exact schedule will be announced in early January I believe.

On Saturday, after watching Ohio State (11-1) throttle Michigan (10-2) by a score of 62-39, it was time to bid adieu to Andy, Jenn and Kevin who were heading home to Las Vegas, Nevada to beat the Sunday traffic.

We had such a great time with them, we hated to see them leaving.

Jacob and Kevin arm-in-arm
on the way to Kevin's ride

Back Row: Mike, Vanessa,
Andy, Mary and Jenn

Front Row: Kevin and Jacob

Mike had to comfort Jacob for
a bit of time after Kevin's departure

These two cousins really love each other.

On Sunday, Laurie and I decided to drive up to Santa Paula to attend an Agatha Christie mystery play.

It sounded like great fun according
to the rave reviews

The play started at 2:30 p.m. so we opted to have lunch in Santa Paula first.

The Mupu Grill had been open
in Santa Paula forever

It closed about a year ago and re-opened about three months ago as The Draft Sports Bar at the Mupu Grill.

Greg and Katie

Greg is owner of the The Draft and Katie was our server. They were both long time employees at Cronies Sports Grill in Camarillo and Ventura.

The food and ambience at The Draft were both good. If you are in Santa Paula, this is a good place for a solid dining experience.

After dining, we drove over to the Santa Paula Theater Center to buy our ducats for the play only to find out that the performance was SOLD OUT! 


Reading Is FUNdamental!

Another good read in Leon's
Commissario Brunetti Mystery Series
set in Venice, Italy 

I really enjoy the insights that she gives into the Italian cultural psyche.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Let the Holidays Begin . . .

Monday, November 12 - Wednesday, November 21, 2018

After an amazing ten days living the high life in both the northwest and northeast corners of our American college football crazy country, it was time to slow way down back in Camarillo.

It looked like Mary's "Otto" the
Orangeman from the Syracuse game
was a BIG hit
 Nothing like a good haircut
on Veteran's Day

The fires in Ventura County continued
on Tuesday

This flareup occurred while I was at our Dentist's office in Thousand Oaks having my teeth cleaned.

The devastation has been horrific but we were fortunately safe in Camarillo.


YOUR Varese Skorpions 2019
Senior season is fast approaching

The annual Kickoff Ceremony has
been scheduled for this coming Friday

I just received my marching orders to head back to Varese on January 17th via Los Angeles, Newark and Milano.

Let the good times roll!

I had a fun lunch in Burbank with Paul Sabolic and Mike D'Antuono on Friday to discuss various topics related to this blog, Washington Husky football and a vast cornucopia of unrelated but interesting ideas.

This lunch was greatly enhanced in terms of both class and style when we found Mike's sister Diana joining us for our meal. She had just been picked up by Mike at the nearby Burbank Airport to spend the Holidays with Mike and his bride Susan.

Nice lady . . .

CIF-SS 8-Man, Division II
Semi-Final Playoff Game

Laurie and I needed an American football fix on Saturday night so we headed over to Moorpark H.S. to watch an 8-man game. 

 The Hesperia Christian Patriots
#1 seeded with a record of
9-1-0 overall and
3-0-0 in the Agape League


The Hillcrest Christian Saints
#4 seeded with a record of
8-2-0 overall and
1-1-0 in the Omega League

A local World War II vet was
on hand to be the Official Coin Tosser

 The Saints, in blue, started the game
with an unsuccessful onside kick

The First Half went quickly downhill for the home team as Hesperia Christian bolted to a 46-2 advantage. 

 The #1 Patriots were simply bigger,
stronger and faster than the #4 Saints

The Patriots RB seen blocking to the immediate left of the QB throwing in this picture is diminutive (5-7, 145) #1 Jeremiah Fredieu.

He had a decent game rushing for 261 yards on a mere 18 carries (14.5 yard's/carry average) for 6 TDs. He also caught two passes for another 235 yards and a seventh TD on the night.

Laurie, surprisingly, named him the game's MVP.

The Hesperia Christian Patriots move on to the Championship game after throttling Hillcrest Christian 62-14.

The Patriots will host the #2 seeded Bloomington Christian Ravens (10-0) this coming Saturday.


It started with Mary helping
to make brownies at her house
Monday night

A throwback photo from Facebook

It was a little over 52 years ago and Laurie and I had been dating for a little over a year at this point.

What could be more romantic than an AFL doubleheader at the Big A?

She couldn't come up with anything either so we went and had a GREAT time.

Another Sad Day

 Legendary Newbury Park HS
Head Coach George Hurley
has passed away

I do not say legendary as much for his outstanding record at NPHS as both the NPHS Wrestling and Football Head Coach but for his humility, willingness to help others and amazing strength during his 14 year battle with myeloma cancer.

I will always remember a Ventura County Coaches Association meeting just after his 1993 Panther football team finished a 14-0 season with, to date, the school's only C.I.F. title. Everyone there wanted to simply congratulate seeing a good guy finish first.

But that was not my George memory of that night, it was simply his usual humble response when he simply said, "Thank you and I just hope the everyone of you gets to have this same experience once in your coaching career." 

Twenty years later when our Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons ran the table in finishing 12-0 and winning the French Division III National Championship, his words were literally the first thing that flashed through my mind as the game ended.

Of course, George's sentiment was spot on again that night half a world away.

Mike Contreras and George Hurley
2nd Vermont Volunteers

Our son Mike is a teacher at Newbury Park HS and got to know George in a completely different vain as a Civil War reenactor for the past decade.

Typically, George encouraged Mike to join the Volunteers at first lending and later giving him some of his own equipment.

We lost another good man this week . . .

Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
Los Angeles Rams (9-1) 

This much anticipated game was originally scheduled to be played in Mexico City but poor field conditions in the Mexican capital's Azteca Stadium forced the game back to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Monday night.

By all accounts, this was the first time that two 9-1 teams from opposite conferences had met in NFL history.

Both teams featured high powered offenses but, as you know, the actual game rarely matches up to all the pre-game hype.

Well this one DID!

It was amazing to watch

We could have used him in
the Secondary on this night!

Kevin, Jenn and Andy came home
from Las Vegas on Tuesday

They made a much needed stop for lunch in Los Angeles at one of the most iconic dining spots in Southern California.

The brought THREE cases of Ironbeer
for us to enjoy

Ironbeer is the pre-revolutionary soft drink of choice in Cuba.

It can not be purchased there in these current post-revolution, Communist regime days.

Kevin and Jacob had lots of
fun at our house Tuesday night
Reading Is FUNdamental!

This book, not so much

You know what this Friday is don't you?


Washington Huskies (8-3)
Washington State Cougars (10-1)

For many of us,
this is a fun rivalry game

For some of us, it is a bit more serious!

The PAC-12's Northern Division Championship goes to the winner along with a berth in the PAC-12 Championship game on Friday, November 30th.

The winner of that game will probably play in the 2019 Rose Bowl game on January 1st.

 The Apple Cup series started in 1900
with a 5-5 tie

The Huskies leads the overall 110 game series with a record of  72-32-6 including wins the previous five games.

I hope that this Friday's game also lives up to or exceeds the hype.

A fun bike ride to the park
with Kevin this morning

As for tomorrow . . .


Oh, by the way, on Friday . . .