Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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It’s time for mistletoe and holly…

Filed under: — stan @ 10:44 pm

Cathy and Lucinda went and picked out a tree today. I put it up after dinner. Then we all decorated it. Christmas is an odd holiday for us. We enjoy it a lot, even though we’re not the least bit religious. It’s just a fun time to eat and get and give presents. And after it’s over, the days start getting longer again.

This is our 20th Christmas together, which is also just a bit odd. Both Cathy and I are shocked to realize that we’re old enough to to say, “this is our 20th Christmas”.

So I had to go up into the attic to get down all our decorations. Every year I’m astounded at how many boxes of stuff we have. There were at least ten of them, so I had to schlep up and down the ladder many times, even with Lucinda helping.

We have an odd collection of stuff to put on our tree. But this year we got a new decoration. It’s the dog-turd ornament. We found it at a Wiskers, which is a little pet gift shop in Long Beach. They had a holiday display there with a tree decorated with these little snow-crusted turds. So we had to have one. I also got the “Monthly Doos” dog poop calendar (”amazingly gross” raves for my office.

So it’s just a big dog-shit holiday festival here. And our tree is officially ready for the holidays.


A Sunday bike ride and some racing nostalgia

Filed under: — stan @ 3:44 pm

Today’s ride was just over to Glendale to see the Turkey Trot cyclocross race. I had suggested this to Gene a few weeks ago because I thought I might see Jonathan Livesay there. I used to race on the east coast back in the late ’70s, and Jonathan was one of the good racers in New York at the time. We didn’t really know each other then, but we were in lots of breakaways together at the Tuesday and Thursday evening races at Westbury on Long Island. Also, my mom was friends with his girlfriend’s mom, and our two moms would bring their bikes out to the races and just ride around the campus there and talk about mom stuff. So I thought it was quite remarkable that Jonathan is not only living near here now, but is still racing and doing quite well at it.

We started out heading west across Pasadena. Then we turned and went up through La Cañada, passing Descanso Gardens. Then we went down Hospital Hill and into Montrose. We rode around through there, up and down the hills a bit before coming down a very steep hill and arriving at Verdugo Park on Cañada Blvd.

When we got there, the Masters 50+ race was almost over. Jonathan was there, and he won the race with a commanding lead of at least a minute over the next rider. It was impressive. When he went by, I immediately recognized his ‘race face’. I’d seen it many times before, and even though it’s been 25 years, he still had the same look of concentration.

After the race I went and found him. He didn’t remember me, which wasn’t all that surprising, since it’s been so long and I only raced for about five years. Still, we talked about the old days there and some of the ‘cast of characters’ who used to race around New York in those days. It was fun.

Continuing on from the park, we rode a bit through Glendale to a bakery in Kenneth Village. We had pastries and such. I had a chocolate eclair, which was quite good.

After the snack stop, we continued on a bit and then got on Glenoaks Blvd to come back. We took Glenoaks all the way to Chevy Chase, climbing up and over a small, but steep hill at the end. Then we had the long climb up Chevy Chase.

The route was to go up Chevy Chase to Figueroa, but Gene decided to take a ’shortcut’ up Linda Vista. I put quotes around ’shortcut’, since it’s not like it was substantially easier. We still had to climb the same hill. At the top, we regrouped and then headed down Lida towards the Rose Bowl. When we got to the bottom, someone said, “Hey, what happened to Scott?” So Gene and I headed back up the hill to look for him.

At the top of the hill, there was still no sign of Scott. So I volunteered to go down the other side to look for him. I rode all the way back down to the last place we’d seen him. But he had vanished. So I figured he must have taken a different way back. So I started for home, which involved riding back up and over the hill that I’d ridden over twice already.

When I got back down on the Pasadena side, a truck pulled up next to me. It was Scott. He said that he’d taken a wrong turn, so he just rode back to the park where we started. So the mystery was solved, and I’d gotten to ride up two extra hills in the deal. Yay.

From the bottom of the hill, I rode around the south end of the Rose Bowl and then back across Pasadena to home.

47 miles.


Those amazing animals

Filed under: — stan @ 4:02 pm

I was looking out the window today when I saw the neighbor’s cat batting at the bush in front of our window. The cat had a mouse treed in the bush. After a while, it knocked the mouse out of the bush and proceeded to sit and play with it on the lawn. I went out to snap a picture. The mouse was just dazed and panting on the grass. It was bleeding a little bit. I took my pictures and went back inside. The cat came back and took the mouse off to parts unknown.

Later on, I went in the back yard and noticed a rather colorful dog turd on the grass. Our dog Buddy had eaten some crayons a couple of nights ago. And the evidence was there for all to see. So I went back and got the camera again. So here it is, in full macro-focus glory: orange and blue crayon-speckled dog turds. Yum.


Our Holiday Feast

Filed under: — stan @ 9:26 pm

So today was the big holiday feast. Not a lot to say about it. I made the traditional turkey and cornbread stuffing. I also made herb bread and two kinds of olive tapenade. And potatoes au gratin.

The main thing was that we got to use our fun little wine chiller thingy.


Enter the Matrix

Filed under: — stan @ 6:24 pm

Last spring, Cathy had some trouble with her car. We ended up spending close to $2000 on fixing it. Our hope was that this would buy us another two years before having to replace it.

Sadly, this was not to be. After 129,000 miles, it was time.

So we bought Cathy a new car today. It’s a Toyota Matrix XR.

The amazing thing was, this wasn’t a horrible experience.

We started out looking at used cars. Cathy wanted something with a higher crash safety rating than her old Honda Civic. She liked the look of the Matrix, but being short, she needed to sit in it to be sure she could drive it.

Cathy contacted AAA and they referred her to Longo Toyota in El Monte. We went down there and had a look.

In the end, we found a used Matrix that had all the features Cathy wanted, but a new one with the same features was only $1,500 more. So we bought that.

Now this was a very weird, but still pleasant experience. Apparently, Longo fired all their car salesmen and replaced them with human beings. Everyone we dealt with there was pleasant, helpful, and knowledgeable. We thought we’d stepped into some weird Bizarro World where car buying doesn’t involve high pressure sales tactics, bodily-function deprivation, and being locked in a room with “The Closer”. It was all right.

And on a completely unrelated note, this weekend my car rolled over 100,000 miles. With the miles I drive, I probably won’t be able to keep it for more than another 15-20 years.


Goodbye Norma Jeane

Filed under: — stan @ 10:51 pm

Route map and photo locations

Since I can’t do the regular Sunday ride this week, I contacted Gene and we arranged to do a ride today. The plan was to ride out to Westwood to visit Marilyn Monroe’s grave.

Today was another achingly beautiful Southern California day. It was clear. It was the kind of day when they take postcard pictures. It was amazing.

We started out going west and down through the arroyo, past the stables, and then up to York Ave. We took York to Eagle Rock Blvd, and then took that south. We crossed the L.A. River on Fletcher, then took Glendale Blvd and Rowena Ave into the Franklin Hills.

After crossing the Shakespeare Bridge we turned south and picked up Hollywood Boulevard. Riding a bike down Hollywood Blvd is always a unique experience. We passed the Thai hot dog. Then we got to the main tourist area and the Walk of Fame. Workers were putting up the holiday decorations over the street. We stopped where Marilyn’s star is, but they were digging up the sidewalk there and several of the stars were buried under a big pile of dirt. So we didn’t get to see her star.

Turning south, we took Hawthorn Ave for a bit and then went south some more to get to Fountain Ave. We took Fountain to its end and then went south one block to Holloway. Then we went up a little hill and got on the Sunset Strip. We passed all the usual landmarks there, and then crossed into Beverly Hills.

We rode halfway across Beverly Hills on Sunset, and then turned south a bit and took Elevado the rest of the way. Due to a miscalculation, we ended up on Wilshire, but we only had to ride on it for a block or so to get to Santa Monica Blvd.

Sadly, Santa Monica Blvd through Century City is being rebuilt. So it was kind of miserable to ride on. I immediately remembered why I used to always take Olympic instead. Fortunately, we only had to ride on it for about a mile. We passed the Los Angeles Mormon Temple with the nicely landscaped fault scarp in front of it. Then we turned off and went to visit my friend Kathleen at her house in Westwood.

We got some water and visited with Kathleen for a little bit and then got back on the road. We went north to the Westwood cemetery. It took us a while to find the entrance. We finally went down an alley between two high-rises and found a little gate that went in to the cemetery. Then it was pretty easy to find the crypt where Marilyn is buried.

Leaving the cemetery, we crossed Wilshire and went north into Holmby Hills. We passed Aaron Spelling’s modest little 56,000 square foot house. Then we crossed Sunset and took some small streets through the hills there to get to Benedict Canyon.

Benedict Canyon Road is one of the nicest roads in the Hollywood Hills. It has been repaved, and it has less traffic than most of the other roads. We took it all the way up to Mulholland Drive, and then we turned east for the trip home.

Mulholland is nice to ride from west to east, because it tends downhill in that direction. And the views today were fabulous. We saw some filming going on on one of the side streets. We also stopped for water at a park and had to admire the view of the Valley and also the view of Downtown L.A.

When we came out by the freeway in Cahuenga Pass, we took Cahuenga for just one short block and turned off onto one of the small streets to cut through the neighborhood there to get to Barham Blvd. Then it was the nice downhill and a turn on Forest Lawn to get to Griffith Park.

We rode through part of Griffith Park and then turned off to get to San Fernando Road. Then we took a route that Gene knew to take small streets across Glendale and Eagle Rock. Then the final test was to ride up the Colorado hill. That brought us back into Pasadena. We crossed the Colorado Bridge and then took Orange Grove back to the park.

65 miles


Sunday bike ride on a perfect day

Filed under: — stan @ 3:52 pm

Yesterday, the club did a mountain ride. They rode up Glendora Mountain Road and along the ridge to Mt. Baldy Village. Gene said it was nearly 75 miles, and lots of big hills. So today’s ride was flat one.

Today was a perfect Southern California fall day. It was sunny and clear, and after a little morning chill it warmed up to about 75 degrees. It’s days like this that make dealing with urban congestion, smog and high housing prices worthwhile.

We started out east to Arcadia and Monrovia, and then turned south to Temple City. We made a big loop back through San Gabriel and San Marino to end up in Old Town Pasadena.

Our snack stop was at Il Forniao. The last time we were there, a security guard gave us a hard time about leaning our bikes up against the wall, so a bunch of the guys just leaned their bikes together to make a big free-standing bike sculpture. Then we sat down and ate.

After that, we rode down into the Arroyo, passing by the Rose Bowl and then going up Windsor Road up to Altadena Drive. That was where I saw the house with “Jesus Saves” spelled out in paving stones on the front yard. They also had “J S” in bricks in the driveway.

Coming down the hill, we ended up back at the park. Since it was still early, I rode out to Arcadia again just to pad the ride a bit.

47 miles.

Our Obligatory Poop Story

Filed under: — stan @ 3:39 pm

I don’t usually (or ever, in fact) write about poop. But in keeping with the grand tradition of Heather and Zoot, I think that last evening’s adventure warrants an exception to my policy.

We had gone out today and seen the costumes from the “Star Wars” movies and also gone to the Natural History Museum. When we got home, we were all pretty tired and ready for bed. Then Cathy came out of our room holding her sweater and she said that our dog Buddy had gotten shit on it. I immediately grabbed Buddy and held him up. We looked and saw a pretty big chunk of shit impacted between his toes. We put him in the sink and washed all four of his feet. But when we went and looked at our bed where the sweater had been, he had gotten shit on the blanket and sheets.

So it was off to the laundry room. We had to wash everything.

Several hours later, all the laundry was done. I took the sheets and blanket and reassembled the bed. But when I lifted the comforter to put it back on the bed, I suddenly felt something between my toes. I looked down and saw a pea-sized turd lodged there. I picked it up and tossed it outside. Then I washed my feet. At that point, we were pretty tired of the whole dog-shit experience. So we just shook out the comforter and did a nose inspection of it and called it Good Enough For Government Work.

And we went to bed. Yick.


It’s a big galaxy. I wouldn’t want to have to dress it.

Filed under: — stan @ 8:02 pm

Today we went to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles to see “Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars“. This was an exhibit of costumes and props from all six movies. Most of the exhibits were costumes, but there were some other things, including Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader’s light sabers from the original movie, and an X-wing fighter parked in the courtyard.

There was an entire side of one gallery devoted to Natalie Portman’s costumes. I suppose we’ll have to rent those movies some day to see why she needed so many outfits.

We also saw the complete Darth Vader outfit used in Episode III, as well as a couple of wookie suits. Also, they had various other alien beings on display. I’m not enough of a geek to be able to name them.

It was great fun seeing this stuff up close. In particular, seeing Darth Vader’s light saber ranked right up there with the time I saw Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone. And after seeing this, Lucinda says we have to rent the movies so she can see them.


Lucinda’s latest art

Filed under: — stan @ 8:23 pm

Just another sample of Lucinda’s artwork. (Waves to Grandma and Grandpa…)

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