Saturday, December 31, 2022

Christmas 2022


Sat.-Sat., December 24-31, 2022

Christmas was a little different this year than what was expected.

Linda, myself and Marilyn
with our Mother Chuny
a few years ago at Christmas

Our normal routine is to gather all of my side of the family at our house on Christmas day to open presents and share one of Laurie's wonderful home cooked meals.

With our Mother still in a skilled nursing facility in Pasadena and my sister Marilyn, still recovering from the open heart surgery that she underwent threw about three months ago, things just had to be different this year.

This week would be another one filled with daily drives to Pasadena to visit my Mother.

I took a few minutes to drop by
Pasadena's venerable Vroman's Bookstore

As a youngster my Father, an avid reader, would take me to this wondrous bookstore on Thursday nights to find another book for each of us to read in the coming week.

Great memories at this spot . . .

Laurie found this HUGE mushroom
growing in our front yard this week

And these as well

Michael and Jacob built this
gingerbread football stadium
during their shared vacation time

Typical Christmas day weather
in Southern California

This Christmas it would just be Laurie and me, joined by Michael, Vanessa, Jacob and Mary to celebrate the day at our home.

Laurie likes to be creative

Just another delicious example

Princess Mary being dramatic

Jacob and Mary alternated
handing out the presents

A Los Angeles Rams pillow
was the perfect gift for Jacob

It's ALWAYS Happy Hour
for my bride

NFL TeenyMates was another
on the spot gift this Christmas

How did Santa know?

After opening a beauty salon gift,
I was Mary's first customer

She decided that I needed a new shade of lipstick.

How could I say no to her?

Michael and Laurie watching
my makeover in progress

I just had to have some purple eye
shadow as the UW Husky Alamo Bowl
game was fast approaching

Happily looking like a new man, it was now . . .

. . . Laurie's turn in the salon chair

Admiring an autographed baseball
that Micheal found hidden on a shelf

Our smaller than normal gathering was still a good one punctuated by . . .

. . . a much needed Rams win
of a rare Christmas Day game

On other fronts . . .

Laurie now has a favorite dwarf
that Snow White rarely talks about

So true . . .

If you are either a scientist or a
Big Bang Theory TV show fan,
you got this one

My take on any New Year's Diet plans

The Italian DI season will soon
get underway for our beloved
Varese Skorpions

On Thursday night the #12 ranked,
10-2 Washington Huskies were in San
Antonio, Texas to play the #20 ranked,
8-4 Texas Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl

Before driving home from Pasadena, I called Laurie to see if she needed anything for the game as Michael, Vanessa and Jacob would be joining us to watch the bowl game. Mary was with her other grandparents on this night.

Laurie said to bring home some munchies.

So I stopped at Porto's Bakery
in Northridge to get some of their
famous meat pastries and empanadas

Saying no to these churro croissants may earned me a chapter in a new Profiles in Courage book due out next Summer.

The Alamo Bowl was topsy-turvy

In the Second Half, the Huskies
rose to the proverbial occasion

A solid win to finish the season
with an 11-2 record and a possible
Top Ten finish in the final polls

The University of Washington started playing football in 1889. This is only the fifth time in program history that a Husky team has won 11 or more games in a season.

Here is the list of those five great Husky seasons:
1925, 11-0-1 led by Head Coach Enoch Bagshaw
1991, 12-0-0 led by Head Coach Don James
2000, 11-1-0 led by Head Coach Rick Neuheisel
2016, 12-2-0 led by Head Coach Chris Petersen
2022, 11-2-0 led by Head Coach Kalen DeBoer

What a great accomplishment for first year UW Head Coach Kalen DeBoer, his staff and the players!

Still, to put this all in perspective, #5 Alabama improved to 11-2 on the 2022 season with their 45-20 Sugar Bowl victory over #11 Kansas State.

This was the Crimson Tide's 25th 11+ win season since first accomplishing that feat under legendary Head Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant in 1961.

With this year's Sugar Bowl win, Alabama has now won 11 or more games in 13 of the last 14 seasons. The only non 11+ win season in that stretch was the "totally forgettable" 2010 campaign when the Crimson Tide went an unacceptable 10-3.

Hopefully this will be a huge
springboard to the 2023 season

Even though next Monday's 109th edition
of the Rose Bowl game is not part of
the College Football Playoff (CFP), I still
think that the traditions of this bowl game 
make it the best game of EVERY year

PAC-12 vs. Big Ten, the San Gabriel Mountains as a backdrop, usually picture perfect weather, it just doesn't get any better than that.

Of course with the CFP expanding from four to twelve teams in 2024 as well as USC and UCLA jumping from the PAC-12 to the Big Ten the same year, the Rose Bowl may never be the same again.


As for those two CFP games played on the last day of 2022 . . .

The Fiesta Bowl was a WILD ONE!

#3 TCU Horned Frogs (13-1) 51
#2 Michigan Wolverines (13-1) 45

And so was the Peach Bowl . . .

#1 Georgia Bulldogs (14-0) 42
#4 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2) 41

The CFP National Championship Game will be played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on Monday January 9, 2023, between #3 TCU (13-1) and #1 Georgia (14-0).

It should be a great one too, I suspect.

Reading Is FUNdamental!

Fred Vargas strikes again!

Her Paris police detective character, Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, is interesting to say the least. Her plots make you do some serious thinking about crime of course but also about your own personal life and relationships.

I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

Monday, December 26, 2022

A Tough Two Weeks


Mon.-Fri., December 12-23, 2022

These past two weeks have been difficult to say the least . . .

My 98 year old Mother Chuny at
Thanksgiving last month with her
five great-grandchildren

My Mother has been in declining health for several years now as might be expected when someone is fast approaching the century mark.

Unfortunately, she took a turn for the worse last week that required her to first, spend a week in a Pasadena area hospital and eventually she was placed in a skilled nursing facility for end of life comfort care.

My sisters Linda and Marilyn, niece Lauren, Laurie, Mike and I have been alternately spending time at her bedside trying to provide some normalcy to her life as best we can.

These are decidedly not easy times to say the least.

On a much happier note . . .

Mary just before her . . .

Holiday Dance Performance at the
Rancho Campana H.S. Auditorium

Mary is in the red top,
third dancer on the left

Proud Grandparents

The Contreras family in
their dance recital finery

Once home after the recital,
Mary was back at it in her
role as a fun loving kid

Jacob decided to break out his referee
outfit, courtesy of Diego Renteria, to
enforce some NFL rules in the
amazing Vikings-Colts game

Reviewing some of his questionable
calls in the game

Laurie and I stopped at the Burbank
Bob's Big Boy restaurant for lunch
on the way to visit my Mom one day
and sat in this exact same booth

Historic, indeed!

Just another week in a
loooooong Rams' season

Anybody want to go with me to
Toledo if the Skorpions make it
to the Italian DI Championship game?

Speaking of EuroBall action, the European League of Football is getting ready for their 2023 season. They had originally added six expansion teams for a hoped-for 18 club league in this, their third season of operation.

Then the news arrived this week that the Istanbul Rams, 1-11 in 2022, were bowing out of the ELF for the 2023 season. Thus, the ELF will operate as a three conference, 17 team affair next Summer.

The Western Conference will
only have five teams with Paris
being the only expansion team

The Paris Football Team is still trying to come up with a team mascot that will truly represent the French capital and its rich, historic culture.

The six team Central Conference
will include three expansion teams
located in Zurich, Milano and Munich

The six team Eastern Conference
has expansion clubs near Budapest
and in Prague

The ELF map still has Barcelona
on the geographic fringe

Meanwhile, the world of college football continues to change rapidly . . .

These Transfer Portal numbers
were staggering until . . .
. . . these Southeast Conference numbers
came out a few days later

Remember, NCAA DI universities are allowed 85 football scholarships.

If you look at Texas A&M, they have a whopping 25 players in the Transfer Portal plus another 13 Seniors on their current roster. That means that the Aggies who went 5-7 in 2022 will be losing 38 players or roughly 45% of their roster.


Laurie and I wish you all a
Merry Christmas!

Reading Is FUNdamental!

Our friend Julien Urgenti from Lyon
recommended this French mystery author

It was a corker, I'm hooked!

The latest in the Jack Reacher series
that Mike D'Antuono first recommended
to me about a dozen years ago

An excellent body count in this one as Good triumphed over Evil yet again in the 28th edition in the series which I have all devoured over the years!