Sunday, February 22, 2015

'Dangerous Island'

Many, many years ago when I was a grade school student at St. Maurice Catholic school I discovered a book titled "Dangerous Island" in the school library.  It was a favorite of mine, along with the Tom Corbett - Space Cadet series (I bought four of the eight Space Cadet books on Ebay over a decade ago for young son.  He thought they were boring,)

Over the years I occasionally thought about "Dangerous Island" but although I enjoyed it as a kid I couldn't even remember the actual title of the book.  Over President's day weekend the Missus and I traveled to Yucca Valley to visit Joshua Tree national park and in an antique store in Yucca Valley I saw the book from my childhood sitting on a table.  I recognized it immediately and pounced on it, scooped it up, and bought it for the bargain price of $5!

The book was published in 1956 and was a 'Weekly Reader' book selection.  The copy I purchased is in great shape.  I'd like to loan it to Ladybug my granddaughter who is an avid reader just as I was at her age.  I imagine it is dated and corny and probably not even at her grade level but perhaps she will find it as much fun as I did when I was a grade schooler and dreaming of adventure so many years ago.

http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Island-Helen-Mather-Smith-Mindlin/dp/B0007E4IL6

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Missus goes roller skating!

The Missus' school held a skate night at the roller rink one valley over from our happy little valley so off we went.  I watched and the Missus skated.  I have absolutely no sense of balance and I can't even stand on roller skates let alone move in any sort of controlled manner.

The most amazing thing was not that there is still an operating roller rink but that when the rink was opened to the public after the school's private party was finished there was a mob of teens waiting to get into the rink!   And, they had their own custom roller skates too.  Who knew that teens still skate!

I remember the old Ardmore boulevard roller rink by my house back in the dark ages.  It was a happening place until gang fights started becoming a regular part of the skating activities.  This was after I had moved on of course.  Back in the Mayberry days of my youth kids roller skated at the rink and didn't stab each other



the Missus getting ready to rumble on her skates!



Having fun!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

New Year's shooting expedition

A semi-tradition for Citizen Grouch and his kids is a trip to the shooting range over the Christmas-New Year's holiday.  This year the Grouch sons made the trip with me to the local range.  The weather was great and the boys had a fun time.  It is nice sharing a common interest with my young men.

The Grouch young pistoleros

Young Son chose the long barreled .22 pistol to demonstrate his steady hand and keen eye.



Older Son showing his skill with a handgun

We see the Rose Parade!

One of the Missus' friends offered to take us with her and her husband to see the Rose parade on New Year's day.  We are not ones to turn down a fun adventure so we enthusiastically accepted.  We had to rendedous at the departure point at 0430 in the morning on New Year's day.  

 We rode on a motor coach to the heart of Pasadena by 0600.  Since it was only 35F outside and still dark we stayed on the coach until the sun peeked over the mountains .

Once we could see to walk we headed for our seats on the grandstands overlooking the parade route.  Did I mention it was very cold?  We are all so bundled up we could barely move!

The parade route was jam packed with revelers and parade viewers.  our bleacher seats gave us a great view but because everyone was so tightly packed in, if someone needed to leave their seat, everyone between them and the exit had to get up and move out of the way.  I'm afraid it was a bit too crowded for me.

It was lots of fun seeing the parade up close and personal.  I marveled at the bravery of the marching band members in their costumes more suited for a 70 degree day rather than 40F!  My favorite marching band was the all girl high school from Belgium in their sailor outfits complete with red pom-poms on their sailor hats!  Very jaunty.

When it was all over we fought our way back to the bus and in short order we were back home, exhausted but happy to have seen the fun.

Our magic carpet to the parade

Some of the many people who camped out on the parade route for a couple days before the show.

Up in the bleachers, waiting for the fun to start

Sure is crowded up here!

A flyover from a B-2 to start the parade.  What a sight!
The Missus and our friends being very brave in the cold waiting for the parade to start

Some of the crowd on the parade route before the official show started.
The parade is finished for another year.  Time to go home!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Grouch family visits Pompeii and the Space Shuttle all in one day!

The Missus, Young Son, Ladybug, and I journeyed to the California Science Center to see both the traveling Pompeii exhibit and the space shuttle Endeavour.  The weather was beautiful, especially for a day in late December.  We grabbed a snack to fortify ourselves and then plunged into the crowd to start our time travel back into ancient Pompeii!


Young Son and Ladybug enjoy their snacks outside in the warm sun.  


  The seagulls and pigeons resting on the retired F/A-18 enjoyed the high ground advantage for swooping down on dropped tidbits.



This is the video shown prior to entering the Pompeii exhibit complete with hot winds and gut shaking low frequency vibrations and loud blasts.

I found the art to be of amazing quality and in equally amazing condition

The products of this civilization appear to be machine-made they are of such good quality

I am a sucker for gold jewelry

Another item that looks like something that we might buy at pottery barn.  Amazing!



Ladybug found it to be very interesting

Water valves - who knew that this level of technology existed then?

Medical instruments - or at least they seem to be.  What items of our current civilization might be mis-identified by some future group of archaeologists digging in the ruins of one of our cities?



One of the unfortunate residents of Pompeii, encased in hardened ash.  They say that they died instantaneously and didn't suffer.  We can only hope that is the case.

A Pompeii villa that would be right at home in Malibu or some other tony SoCal location.

The Missus and Ladybug waiting to create a virtual volcanic eruption

According to Young Son, one of the four persons in this photo is Older Son!  Taken on the day that the Endeavour was flown over L.A. before landing at LAX

The building is in this photo

The Endeavour - massive and majestic!

Almost at the end of a fun day!

Outside of the Science Center

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A taste of Pink Martini for New Year's eve

The Missus and I treated some friends to a New Year's eve concert at the Disney Concert Hall.  I am a big fan of the eclectic group "Pink Martini" and they were appearing with "The Trapp Family Singers" at the very beautiful Disney venue.  The Missus and our  guests were a little wary of Pink Martini having never heard of them.  Older son saw both PM and the TFS in concert and felt that they were ok but nothing special.  I was a bit nervous being the motivating force behind the outing.

Fortunately I didn't have to worry because the concert was great!  Pink Martini was wonderful and funny.  In addition to their own ensemble, we were treated to the Japanese Businessmen including the uncle of the co-leaders of the group, three Iranian musicians, a Julliard graduate, trombone players (we especially like trombones since Young Son plays one), an NPR correspondent, and the Trapp Family Singers!  I was really impressed by the TFS, four sibling scions of the famous Von Trapps who were very, very good.  I was so impressed with them that I downloaded their album.

If you ever have the chance to see either or both, go to see PM and TFS.  You will not be disappointed!

We heard both of these songs performed at our concert.  We loved them.





Thursday, January 8, 2015

Older Son, Girlfriend, Ladybug and King the wonder puppy all come for a visit!

Older son and his girlfriend and his new puppy all journeyed west to visit us here at Grouch estates for Christmas.  It just so happened that Ladybug was also in town for Christmas with her father so she got to visit with us for a day or two.

The weather was nice and the puppy was bored so we traveled to the local dog park to let King the wonder puppy run free.  Even though he is only about 4 months old he held his own with the other dogs in the park. He is a husky/German shepherd mix and is very smart and learning fast. Plus he seems to like me so he gets plus 10 points in his favor. 



Ladybug learned that eating a bagel at the dog park might not have been the best decision.  King was polite but an adult Husky was determined that it would get some of Ladybug's bagel.  The owner of the husky was completely and totally oblivious to the ongoing bagel drama. 

Older Son and King with a friend.  Older Son doesn't want his picture on the internet so he can only be seen from the back.

Ladybug still working on the bagel.  She looks so much like her mother!


King on guard and ready to rumble

King and Ladybug 

A pit bull mix that let King beat him up endlessly

A bulldog wanted to get in on the fun but was breathing so heavily that he just couldn't keep up with the action!