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[sticky post] Meet the family!

Mar. 10th, 2012 | 01:11 am

Before we begin, some introductions are in order.


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Yay for Shadow!

Apr. 12th, 2018 | 08:18 am

Shadow got a clean bill of dental health from the vet yesterday! I was concerned because, this time last year, I almost lost him to an infected tooth, and recently, he had developed foul breath, which can be a sign of dental problems in dogs. Fortunately, it appears it's just simple halitosis – a not-uncommon malady of oldsters in general, including, apparently, those of the canine persuasion. :p

Shadow is also turning 12 this month, which means he's now exceeded his breed's average life expectancy by two years. He's still a little wobbly on his feets due to some stenosis in his spine, but he's been pretty stable in this regard since his initial diagnosis, so that's hopeful, too.

So, yay for Shadow! :D


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Surprise visit

Feb. 28th, 2018 | 01:04 pm

Had an amazing and wonderful surprise yesterday morning. A friend that I grew up with and have known literally since I was a toddler showed up here out of the blue. Rick Fox and his wife Bonnie were passing through the area and they decided to drop by for a visit. I hadn't seen Rick for 46 years, so it was quite a reunion. :) Just sorry the both of them couldn't have stayed a while longer.

Anyway, here's one of only two pictures I have of Rick and me together, when we were batboys for our dads' baseball team. (That's Rick on the right.) Lots of water under the bridge since then for both of us!


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Jan. 12th, 2018 | 12:08 am

I obviously fail as a Californian. :)

I know I don't use my car much, but until I kept track of exactly how many times I drove last year, I didn't realize just how little time I spend behind the wheel (or how much time I spend at home).

Turns out I used my car only 125 times in 2017, which is basically once every 3 days.

Also, last year, I only used 84 gallons of gas, which cost a total of $237.65. (Avg. $19.80/month on a $20/month gas budget.)

I didn't keep precise track of my mileage, but I know my car gets roughly 21 miles/gallon, so using 84 gallons works out to approx. 1,750 miles traveled in 2017.

1,750 miles divided by 125 = 14 miles round-trip on average.

Farthest distance I drove from home: 18.5 miles (the mall, which is a 37-mile round-trip).

I paid $1,600 for my car 8 years ago. (Cost of ownership: $200/year.)

No repairs at all in 2017. (For a 25-year-old 'beater', my Volvo 240 is a -very- reliable car.)

One oil change: $40.
Two new tires: $185.
Total maintenance: $225.

Insurance: $245. (Basically $2 to the insurance company every time my car leaves the garage. Ridiculous!)

Registration: $135. (Going up $25 in 2018, I understand, for a car my age.)

So, all tolled, excluding the per-year cost of what I paid for it originally, operating my car cost me $842.65 last year, or $2.30 per day. :)

Finally, it takes me about 2 hours on average to do my chores, so 125 x 2 means I was out in the world about 250 hours give-or-take in 2017, and with 8760 hours in a year, that translates to being at home about 97% of the time: a fact I'm sure my dogs appreciate. :)


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Lost portrait

Dec. 31st, 2017 | 04:20 pm

How I wish Mother were alive to see this! Prior to yesterday, I had never seen this photo before. It was sent to me by a distant maternal relative in the UK (who was also unknown to me) who saw some of my entries on FamilySearch. By way of introduction, he sent me this picture of my maternal grandfather and his family.

My mother, Lillian, is the little girl standing at left. Her mother, Lily–my Nana–is holding Mom's younger sister, Lorraine. And standing over them all is the proud father, Frank. I'm not a good judge of children's ages, but guessing that my mom is 2 here and Lorraine is 1, that would mean this photo was taken in 1919.

This is clearly one of the "lost pictures" that my mom told me about many times. What a pity that she (or my Nana) didn't live to see it again. Such a nice portrait of my grandparents. In fact, come to think of it, other than their wedding picture, this is the only photo I have of the two of them together. I'm so happy to have this image back in the family now!


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Christmas, 1964

Dec. 24th, 2017 | 04:30 pm

Back when Christmas was really Christmas, with home, hearth and family. Mom's sister and nephews come calling first, then a visit from Dad's brother and his wife. I am the skinny, buck-toothed 10-year-old who is hamming it up for the camera.

Complete description of the goings-on can be found on the YouTube page.

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The Girl from Spadra

Dec. 13th, 2017 | 12:58 pm

Late one night in Spring, 1975, I was on my way home from record shopping in Orange County, and had stopped for a late night snack at the In-N-Out by Brea Canyon Rd. When I got to Valley Blvd and Grand Ave (which was still a lonely rural intersection 40+ years ago), I saw a teenage girl standing in the center divider, waving her arms like she wanted me to stop. She was wearing what looked like pajamas, not street clothes, which was very strange. I didn't really want to stop because the situation was so unusual, but I did, and she ran up to my car window and begged me for a ride. Now, I basically never pick up hitchhikers, but this girl was in obvious distress (frantic was more like it), and the fact that she wasn't wearing proper clothes... well, I was pretty concerned about her. I thought I better let her in because who knows who else might find her out there all alone.

Anyway, after she got into my car, I could tell there was something "different" about her. I guess today we might call her "developmentally disabled." Maybe she had Down's Syndrome, who knows, but all I did know for sure was that she needed help. So I asked her where she wanted me to take her, and she said her parents' house. She told me which direction to go, what streets to take, so she wasn't disoriented or anything, and though I don't recall anymore exactly where her parents' house was, it was up in the hills by Diamond Bar.

So we got there and I stopped my Mustang across the street from her house. She thanked me over and over for helping her, and she implored me to please "Come in and meet my parents!" I just smiled and shook my head no. Considering the circumstances, my gut instinct said I don't think that's a very good idea. ;) I was just happy to get her home. Then, for several seconds, she just stared at me with one of the most grateful expressions I've ever seen on anyone's face. I'll never forget that. She was so happy and relieved. Then she opened the car door and ran toward her house. She stopped at the door, turned around and waved, I waved back, and then I headed home to play the new album I'd just bought: Jeff Beck's "Blow By Blow." (Which is how I remembered when all this happened.) ^_^

At the time, it honestly never occurred to me that she might have escaped from the nearby mental hospital at Spadra, but I think now it's pretty obvious that that's what happened. Anyway, I always wondered what happened to that girl. If she was from the hospital, I hope she didn't have to go back. She may have been a little impaired in certain ways, but she certainly wasn't the kind of person who we'd think today would need to be institutionalized. I just hope she grew up to have a happy life. :)



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House of Horrors

Oct. 31st, 2017 | 04:20 am

Well, it's been 50 years now since "the happiest night of my life."* For Halloween, 1967, me and my best friend, Richard Rudolph, staged a "House of Horrors" where we scared the daylights out of at least two dozen groups of trick-or-treaters. The previous Halloween, a mutual friend of ours had put on his own "Haunted House"-type thing which was a huge success, so we decided to do one of our own the next year.

First, we rigged up Rich's front door so it would appear to open all by itself. Then, a shrunken head would drop down and swing back and forth in the doorway, right in front of people's faces! That was good for some really great shrieks from the girls! Then we had this tape recorded message that boomed out, "Wel-come... to... the... House...... OF....... HORRORS!", followed by the sound of maniacal kid laughter played at half-speed. It was actually pretty scary sounding! Then, when the trick-or-treaters approached the candy bowl, another tape message said, "You have desecrated the spirit of the candy bar! NOW... YOU... MUST... DIE!!!!" At that point, most kids just ran away, forgetting all about the candy. Rich and I laughed at the end because the candy bowl was almost as full then as it had been when we started out.

My only disappointment about that night was that I had previously asked my dad if we could borrow one of his caskets to use as a prop. We wanted to put it in Rich's garage with one of us inside, and we'd raise the lid and sit up like we'd risen from the dead. But Dad said no. "It would be unethical," he said. I felt really gypped that he didn't want to go along with our plans, but as it turned out, we had more fun than we could handle with the other pranks we thought up.

I loved Halloween back then, but I haven't celebrated it at all as an adult. I know a lot of grownups like to dress up and party, but I think it really is meant to be a special time for kids. So tonight, the front gate will be locked and the porch light turned off. No trick-or-treating here. It's not that I'm mean or anything, I just don't think it's appropriate for a single man living by himself to interact with other people's children. If I had kids of my own, it might be different, but things being as they are, I think it's just better to sit the whole thing out. Or sleep through it. I do kind of feel like taking a nap right now...


*At least it was my happiest up 'til that age. The happiest DAY of my life had been my last day of primary school, the year before. I was in the same school for all of K-6, and it seemed like it took forever to get out of that place. I didn't care that there were six more years to go before I got out of school altogether, I was just exhilarated that I was going on to junior high and I wasn't a 'little kid' in primary school anymore!


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All-Stars Blog

Jul. 20th, 2017 | 04:13 am

In the summer of 1957, my father was named manager of the All-Stars of the West Covina American Little League. The team was very successful; moreso, in fact, than any other in the history of the young city. In the coming days, I will be telling the story of the 1957 WCALL All-Stars as they progressed through post-season play to the California State Tournament, as it happened, day-by-day, 60 years ago.

You can read all about it here:



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My father, and my brother

Jun. 18th, 2017 | 01:47 am

A different kind of Fathers Day tribute...

Most people who knew Dad didn't know that he was married–and divorced–before he met my mom.

And most people who knew/know me didn't know I have a brother; a half-brother, Patrick Edward Shannon.

So, for this Fathers Day, here's a picture of Dad with his first son, two years before I was born. The second photo shows Pat and Me at Big Bear, when I was 3-1/2.

I loved my big brother, and he loved me, as you can see.

I mostly grew up without Pat, though. He stopped coming to visit after I started school, and I didn't see him again until after he joined the Army, fought in Vietnam, returned from his tour of duty, got married, and had his first child, almost 10 years later.

Pat and I have kept in touch since I moved away from home. We talk now and then over the phone, though I haven't seen him in person for almost 30 years now.

I know that's kind of a sad Fathers Day story, but it's one I thought should finally be told.


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34 years

Jun. 7th, 2017 | 03:03 pm

Thirty-four years ago yesterday, I saw a river otter at Trinidad Bay for the first time, so I went up there for a visit to mark the occasion. (Actually, I mostly went to treat Shadow to a nice outing, as this will likely be his last trip to the beach...)

Anyway, I didn't expect to see any otters, and I didn't, but I did run into the lady who has become Otter-Spotter #1 there since my departure, and she gave me a rundown on what she'd been seeing there the past couple of summers.

Also, an old commercial fisherman friend drove out onto the pier while I was there. When he saw me, he stopped, rolled down his window, smiled and said, "Where... have... you... BEEN?!" It was nice to know at least one of my old buddies noticed I'd been MIA all this time.

Only downer of the day was that I had the worst plate of fish and chips ever for dinner afterwards: an absolutely horrible mush of undercooked cod, and limp, greasy fries. It was expensive, too. Even Shadow didn't want a piece of the fish. I couldn't blame him. :p

It was nice to get out there again, though. I used to go to Trinidad every single evening. Kind of hard for me to grasp that all that has been over for 9 whole years now.

The awful new pier.


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Alpha and Omega

May. 3rd, 2017 | 03:37 pm

Remembering my father on the day of his birth, 102 years ago.

First portrait, c.1920.


Last portrait of him and me together, March, 1985.

I miss you so much, Dad–every single day–and I'll love you always...



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