Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Grouch's!

Merry Christmas from the Grouch family!   This year I asked for the very best present in the world:  Older Daughter and Little Lady Bug to spend Christmas with us and much to my delight it came to be!   They arrived last weekend from the east coast to spend the week with us. 
We started with Christmas eve mass at a local Catholic high school with a chapel on the campus.  Mass was at 4 p.m. and featured beautiful vocals and music from two guys who sang during the mass.  Our family tradition is dinner at a local Pizza Hut on Christmas eve and for many years in a row we have gone for pizza.  Why this started I have no idea but Christmas wouldn't be the same without it.   After that off to see some outdoor decorations then to bed until Christmas day.  Everyone was on hand for both Christmas eve and Christmas day including all of the grand dogs (7 dogs total and all well behaved!  Good dogs!).  Christmas brunch cooked by Citizen Grouch himself which is another Grouch family tradition and then a wonderful and filling turkey dinner in the afternoon.  The Missus handled all with aplomb and no oven fire this time.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our family and friends across the country.
Older Daughter and LLB before mass on Christmas eve
The clan after mass
Pizza time!
The calm before the excitement of Christmas morning
Christmas lights southern California style
This neighborhood's display is award-winning from our town's newspaper
Yes, it does get cold in Southern California - mid 40s on Christmas eve
Let the presents unwrapping begin!
Older son decorated the tree with cards and gifts for the family
The Christmas cactus given to the Missus by her mother last year that bloomed on Christmas eve - how's that for good timing!


Range time!

 The Grouch kids minus Young Son who couldn't get out of bed took their old man to the shooting range on Sunday for some togetherness.  It was cold and cloudy but we had a good time in spite of the temperature!  Older Daughter hadn't been to the range for a long time so she was anxious to give it a try again.
The shooters minus Young Daughter who was taking the picture
Older Daughter tries the Ruger pistol and does well
Older Son shows good form and stance
Citizen Grouch clearing the other shooters from the firing line with the smoke and flash of black powder
Younger Daughter doing her best to master the revolver

Older Son gives it a try

Time for clay pigeon busting!
Two pigeons at a time!
Who me, cold?
Older Son and his M1 rifle
Older Daughter and the Mini 14 which isn't all that mini
Younger Daughter is not intimidated by the M1 rifle!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dogs vs. Lionel train

Every Christmas season we set up the electric train that we've had in the family for decades.  The display used to be somewhat elaborate with two tracks and two switches.  The Grouch children would play with it for hours and in fine Addams family style placed Playskool people on the tracks to be run down by the speeding locomotive.  Putting a toy car or truck on the tracks with Playskool people in them was a favorite too.
These days with only Young Son still at home and he being almost past teenagerhood we set up only a single track and no switches.  But not all is lost, the dogs decided to play with it this year!
First, Kerby came to investigate the noisy contraption circling under the tree.
Kerby is still trying to figure out what the heck this thing is!
Big sisterdog Molly shows up and demonstrates how toy trains are to be dealt with.  Roscoe can't believe what he is seeing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A harp and an Irish ghost tale

Since the Missus has just taken up the harp my thoughts went to one of my favorite singers and one of the best songs she has done.  It is a traditional Irish song that tells of a man, his bethrothed who dies before they are married and an eerie visit that he receives from her one night.  It is a beautiful song that makes me shiver.

This is not the Missus but it is a harp!  Loreeena McKennitt performing "She Moved Through the Fair"

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Off Road Trip for Thanksgiving

Young Daughter and I recently took a day trip to the San Bernardino mountains with some friends for some off roading.  Since I have been a lazy blogger and not done any posts recently I will let Young Daughter's blog tell all about the trip.

Read it here:http://3dogdays.blogspot.com/


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Dead Duck

A friend sent me this joke and since I laughed out loud when I read it I decided I should share it so here you go:

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary
surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet
pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird's

After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and
sadly said, "I'm sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has
passed away."

The distressed woman wailed, "Are you sure?"
"Yes, I am sure. Your duck is dead," replied the

"How can you be so sure?" she protested. "I mean
you haven't done any testing on him or anything.
He might just be in a coma or something."

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the
room. He returned a few minutes later with a black
Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner looked on
in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his
front paws on the examination table and sniffed the
duck from top to bottom. He then looked up at the
vet with sad eyes and shook his head.

The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out
of the room. A few minutes later he returned with
a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also delicately
sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back
on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and
strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry,
but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably,
a dead duck."

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys
and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman..
The duck's owner, still in shock, took the bill. "$150!"
she cried, "$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!"

The vet shrugged, "I'm sorry. If you had just taken my
word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the
Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it's now $150."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Our calendar dog

So, about 11 years ago, when Roscoe was just 8 months old and feeling frisky like a pup feels, he was playing in the backyard with some yellow rings and kicking up his heels and having a grand old time.  The Misuss took a picture of his cuteness and sent it off to the 'Dog a Day' calendar.  Imagine our surprise last year when we got a letter in the mail saying that Roscoe had been selected for the 'Bad Dog a Day' calendar!   Roscoe is not a bad dog, how could they say that about him?   His pay was to receive his own calendar in the mail and today is his day on the calendar so here are two pictures of him with his calendar page showing him in his youth.  Roscoe still looks like that dog from years ago but the backyard sure has changed!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Song Game update

Way back in July of last year I listed songs with girl's names in the title that the Missus and I have heard on the radio.  The rules for this game is that the song must have a recognizable name in the title and be a pop song that someone can hear on the radio.  Songs from 100 years ago don't count unless they are ones that the Misus insists on listing.  Since I wrote that list we've heard even more, so here is the list with the latest additions:

Jessica Lynn
Annie's Song
Dance Little Jean
Lay Down Sally
Judy in Disquise
Hey Prudence
Oh Beth
I'll Take you Home Again Kathleen
Hello Mary Lou
Tell Laura I love Her
Julie do you Love Me
Come on Eileen
Mustang Sally
Wake up Little Susie
Barbara Ann
Michele my Belle
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Proud Mary
Mary in the Morning
Holly Holy
Down Easter Alexa
Maggie May
Boy Named Sue
Lady Madonna
Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town
Good Night Irene
They Call the Wind Mariah
If you Knew Susie
Whose Julie
Along Came Mary
Tequila Sheila
That's my Little Suzie
Julie do you love me?
Who's Holding Donna
Dirty Diana
Norma Jean Riley
Oh Julie
Think of Laura
Love Goes Where My Rosemary Goes
Janie's Got A Gun
Jackie Blue
Susie Q
Angie Baby
Sara Smile
Sunny Came Home
Hey There Deliah
Carrie Anne
My Maria

Can you think of any we've missed?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Missus gets even sillier!

The Missus just can't resist cute cuddly animals!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our Thanksgiving was a little too exciting

So the Missus had been cooking since 11 a.m. for the big dinner at 5.  The Missus and I plus Young Son, Young Daughter, and six dogs took the traditional Thanksgiving day walk along desolation highway, aka the San Fransquito canyon abandoned road, a nice three mile walk in balmy temperatures and sunny skies.  We got home to find Older Son already there watching football.  As the day move along, I cut and split some wood to get into the whole Thanksgiving atmosphere while the turkey cooked on.  As the time got closer to dinner time Young Daughter commented that the kitchen seemed to be getting a bit smoky.  The Missus thought some turkey juice might have spilled into the oven.  A couple minutes later the smoke alarm went off and I went to the kitchen to see what was going on.  Black smoke was pouring from the stove and the kitchen and family room was rapidly filling with smoke.  I opened the oven (the Missus had already removed the turkey) and saw that it was on fire!  Grease from the turkey had pooled in the bottom of the oven and ignited!  I closed the door, turned off the oven and looked again.  Still burning, but now even more so!  I grabbed the fire extinguisher (always have one in the kitchen!) and put the fire out and closed the door.  It came back to light again!  Three times I blasted it and then used another extinguisher from another room before it was out. I was just about ready to call the fire department.  I had shut off the gas to the stove at the wall and pulled the stove away from the wall to prevent it from charring the cabinets and the wall.  It didn't get that bad fortunately.

Young son ran to get fans from the shed to blow smoke out of the house and the Missus hustled the food away from the smoke and fire extinguisher powder that went everywhere.

It was a somber meal after that.  I was shaken thinking how close it came to a real disaster.  Fortunately all that was lost were the rolls and stuffing balls that were in the stove when it went up in flames and of course maybe the stove itself.  I spent the rest of the evening cleaning up the mess.  Tomorrow the Missus will call a repairman to examine the stove to see if it was damaged by the fire.  I took it apart and all looks ok but who knows what may have been damaged.

lesson to all:   watch out for grease fires and keep fire extinguishers handy!

Sight Seeing in Indianapolis part 2 - The Colonel Eli LillyCivil War Museum

As I mentioned in the post about President Harrison's house, I was in Indianapolis on business.  Just down the street from the hotel we were staying in I spied an interesting obelisk.  Even though the temperature was in the low 40s and I was dressed for high 50s myself and another SoCal'r walked a couple blocks to the monument.  It turned out to be the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum with an observation platform at the top and a civil war museum in the basement.  We got there just before closing time.  My coworker went up for the view and I went down for the museum.  Unfortunately shortly after I got to the museum it closed and the lady tossed me out.  My coworker said that the view from up top was great!
The statues on the face of the memorial show not only civil war servicemen but also those from other wars.  Highly recommended for history buffs!
The memorial
Very realistic depiction of the Indiana fighting men
Another side of the memorial
The front of the memorial
Very accurate rendition of the soldier with a Spencer carbine, a weapon not often seen in a war memorial


Sight seeing in Indianapolis Part 1 - President Benjamin Harrison's home

So the Missus and I have visited 3 and 4 presidential museums (me: Nixon, Ford, Reagan) (her: Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Reagan) and we've decided that we'd like to visit every presidential museum that exists, even Bill Clinton's.  Perhaps when we retire we'll set off across the country going to state to state visiting each one.
Recently I found myself in Indianapolis on business with some co-workers.  We had a couple hours before we needed to be to our destination and when one of them saw that we were going to pass near to the home of Benjamin Harrison I asked if they would mind if we stopped to see it, they didn't mind so we stopped!
Unfortunately for me I didn't have a real camera with me, just the silly little camera in my city issued Blackberry phone so it had to suffice.  When we go to the house the sign indicated that the tour had just left and the next one wouldn't start for half an hour.  That didn't deter one of the people in my group who boldly knocked on the door.  A very nice elderly lady opened the door and invited us in and we were on our own private tour!
I was amazed at how accessible everything was in the house.  Very little was roped off or separated from the visitors.   Much in the house is original to the Harrison family.  After the former president passed away his second wife also moved out and the house served as a boarding house and then part of a girl's college.  Fortunately the furnishings and accessories were stored and preserved and placed back in the house when it was turned into the presidential museum.  I highly recommend a visit to President Benjamin Harrison's house!
Outside the house
Also outside the house
Here it is!  A big place for its time and expensive too.  Solidly built with 12' ceilings and floors that don't squeak or groan as they are walked on.
A decoration from China in the parlor
The parlor.  The screen in front of the fireplace was to diffuse the heat from the fire and prevent the beeswax makeup on the women in the room from melting!
Original typewriters in the president's office
The dining room
President Harrison's china
President T. Roosevelt's china
President Lincoln's china.  Mrs Harrison discovered many china pieces from previous administrations at the White House and started a collection of the presidential china to preserve them for future generations
A letter from 12 year old Helen Keller to President Harrison
The nursery for his daughter from his second wife. This was the dressing room for his first daughter with his first wife
The president's bedroom
The Missus is a quilter of renown so I took pictures of many of the quilts in the house.  This one has faint signatures of civil war veterans on it
The quilt on the president's bed
The desk of Benjamin Harrison when he was an attorney prior to becoming President
The kitchen stove in the kitchen (of course); lots of light in here for taking pictures with my non camera
The pie safe for storing pies and cakes away from the hordes of flies that would be in the kitchen in the summer.  Yuck!  The nice lady was our docent tour guide
The Missus likes to do extreme ironing so I got a picture of the household ironing board
The family carriage and sleigh in the carriage house

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Citizen Grouch Recommends: 3 degrees of James Bond

So last weekend on my much anticipated four day holiday I got stinkin' sick.  I was so sick I missed the annual out to dinner for Veteran's day with the family on Sunday.  But on Monday I honored an earlier promise and accompanied the Missus, Young Daughter, and Young Son to see the latest James Bond flick "Skyfall"


It was a good movie filled with action, scenic sights in the UK, Istanbul, and Albania (all very dangerous places it appears!) Bond babes, not too many gadgets, a casino (seems to be a required locale in many Bond movies)  trains, guns, explosions, chases over the rooftops of Istanbul, the moors of Scotland, and the Bond backstory.  It was a lot of fun but due to my heavy cold and congestion I had to time my nose blowing and phlegmatic coughing for the noisy action scenes and in some cases there was way too much time between those occurrences  for my personal comfort!   Three questions for those who've seen the movie:

1. How deep does the water have to be to survive a drop of that height for James?
2. How long would it take the henchmen to break every window in every high rise on the island if they broke ten windows a day in their boredom while waiting for something to happen?
3. Where did the game keeper live if the only buildings around where the manor, the outbuilding, and the chapel?

Any movie that features a Land Rover defender in a high speed chase and the use of a classic English double rifle in at least .40 caliber with ejectors (the ejected cases looked like cigar holders) is all right in my book.

This Saturday Young Daughter and I were supposed to have some Father-Daughter time in the great outdoors but much to our surprise it rained so we wimped out and went to see a movie.  The movie was "Taken 2" and wouldn't you know it, there was only a couple degrees of separation from it and "Skyfall"!

In "Taken" Liam Neeson is a retired government operative with a remarried ex-wife and willful teen age daughter.  The daughter takes a vacation to Paris with friends and is kidnapped along with other teen girls by Albanian sex trade thugs.  The dad rushes to Paris and rescues the them all with a high body count along the way.  "Taken 2"  has the same cast.  the ex-wife is on the outs with husband #2 and Liam invites her and the daughter to Istanbul (ding!) where he is wrapping up a protection gig for some wealthy clients.  Little does he know that the father of one of the dead thugs has vowed eternal revenge on Liam and takes the opportunity to kidnap the wife (Framke Janssen who played Xenia Onatopp in the James Bond flick "Goldeneye") (ding, ding!) and Liam.   It is up to the daughter now to help rescue both.  It involved gun play, grenades, stolen taxis, chases on the roofs of Istanbul (ding, ding, ding!) and very satisfying revenge.  Old Liam is pretty fit for a guy of his age and there is your three degrees of separation from "Skyfall"

Last night the Grouches rented an indie movie that I had read about but our megaplex refused to show, instead showing the same three movies on 22 screens. 


 "Safety Not Guaranteed" is about three people who work at one of those weekly magazines dedicated to a city (Seattle)  that is filled with ads and some articles that usually get thrown on your driveway whether you want it or not.  Desperate for a story a reporter proposes tracking down the person who placed an ad in the personals seeking people to time travel with him.  "Safety not guaranteed" it says in the ad.  The reporter and two interns travel to a beach community in Washington to seek out the person in the ad and see just what kind of a loon he is.  The reporter is a narcissist who yearns for his younger days and is looking for his teen age sweetheart who is in the town.  The female intern is a quiet wallflower whose mother died and whose death has scarred the girl.  the male intern is an Asian Indian brainiac nerd who is building his resume by working at the magazine but has never kissed a girl or had any fun it appears.  They find the would be time traveler and he and the girl intern connect.  The reporter finds his teen sweetheart.  Do they connect?  Does the nerd become a wild and crazy guy?  Is there time travel?  And what is the connection to James Bond?  I'll answer the last question.  This movie has gun play (sort of)  a sports car (well, it is a rusty 20 year old 240Z) a car chase (15 miles an hour) and two possible government agents.  I had a lot of fun with the movie and the budding relationship between the girl and the time traveler was nice to watch.  The scenery was great and the pace slow and measured.  I loved the ending.  Hopefully you will love the movie.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Veteran's Day 2012 part 2

How could I forget to thank sister in law Kathleen, 25 year veteran of the Air Force for her service the nation?  Sorry Kathleen!!  And brother Ed, Air Force vetern who served in the Vietnam era.  What was I thinking??!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day 2012

I had hoped to make a stirring tribute to veterans everywhere and particularly for the Grouch clan but unfortunately for me I got sick and have just started to recover.  So I will let it go with this:

Thank you great uncle Thomas who served in the war to preserve the union, was captured at Gettysburg and paroled at Petersberg.

Thank you great uncle Paul, uncle Howard, and Grandfather Edward who served in the war to end all wars

Thank you Dad who served in the war to defeat fascism and literally save the world

Thank you father in law Rege who served from the cold war to Desert Storm

Thank you brother in law Bill who served as a hot pilot from Vietnam to Kosovo

Thank you sister in law Helen who also served in Desert Storm

Thank you brothers in law Rege and Christopher, sisters in law Anne, Elizabeth, Monica, and Amy who served during the cold war that sometime became hot

Thank you nephew Michael who became an All American and is fighting as one of America's legionnaires in Iraq and Afghanistan

Thank you Older Son who put his life on hold and deployed three times, lastly in a thankless mission to Iraq

Thank you Young Daughter who serves everyday with the Air National Guard helping to keep America safe.

Thank you Missus for following me to Germany as the wife of a new 2LT.  Little did you know what you were getting yourself into!  Thank you for being strong when Older Son was in Iraq.  Thank you for all the uniforms washed, insignia sewed on and removed and others sewn on.  Thanks for pulling my boots off of my aching feet when I staggered home late in the evening from my company.  Thanks for backing me when I deployed to Japan and you got to stay home with three kids and a 2 year old.  Thanks for everything.

Thank you veterans everywhere:  the cooks and bakers, typists and mechanics, infantrymen and tankers, aviators and ground crew, communicators and logisticians, sailors and Coasties,   There are no unimportant jobs in the military. Thanks to those who served in peacetime because it was their efforts who made sure the peace held.  Thanks to those who served in wartime, there is no greater sacrifice than to be prepared to give your life for freedom for our country.

Thank you one and all.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sight Seeing in Seattle part 8 - Pike Place Market

Anyone who visits Seattle must visit Pike Place and the shops along the main street.  It is a busy multi level enclosed mall-type area before indoor shopping malls were thought of in that way.  We continued to have beautiful weather during this part of our visit. Everyone we met on our trip were friendly and nice but a warning:  watch out for bicyclists in the downtown area!   Twice I was almost run down by cyclists making right turns on red without stopping or even slowing.  Once the Missus had to yank me back by the arm to avoid a speeding cyclist.  The Seattalites are very proud of the number of cyclists in the city but I feel that the cyclists could use some lessons in the traffic laws and courtesy to pedestrians.
Here are some scenes of the Pike Place experience:

Cruise ships dock nearby and we caught this view of a ship setting out on its cruise.
Beautiful flowers were everywhere!
I have no idea what was with the pigs but there were lots on display.  The day were were visiting a street fair was being set up and pigs were being wheeled in for display.
The pig brigade!
Selling and throwing fish is a big deal here. Like the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace, folks line up early to see the fishmongers toss the fish around.  It is apparently quite the show but we missed it.
The very first Starbucks ever!  They started off selling coffee beans only, then switched to the finished product when they realized a foolish coffee drinker and his/her money are easily parted.  More money in the liquid than in the beans!