Another Two Birthday’s

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I sure am a very lucky person.  It seems to me that we are either just finishing someone’s birthday or we are getting ready to celebrate another birthday.  Well I just finished celebrating my Grandson Michael’s birthday and I just sang a song to my sister Marianne on her birthday. Now I am prepared for another two birthday’s one for my new daughter Alex and one for my daughter Susan.  The older I become the more birthdays’ there are for me to miss.

As a young boy all I had to remember was five birthdays.  They were the birthdays of my mom, dad, two sisters, and one brother.  When my sister married and made me an uncle not just once but three times, I needed to remember three more birthdays.  When I got married I not only had to remember my wife’s birthday, I had to remember a lots of other dates too. No longer did I just need to remember the birth dates of my family. I now had to remember my wife’s family birth dates as well. Oh yes, I also had to remember the day we meet, our wedding day and other days my wife felt were important.  The more time passed the greater in size the list of days I needed to remember grew.

My newest daughter, Alexandra is having a birthday this month.  Alex is a wonderful person and I am happy she is my daughter.  Alex is currently working for a new web technical marketing company.  In addition to her full-time job she is attending graduate school on her way to a MBA.  She is a special young girl who was a pillar of support for her mother after the passing of her father, Cy.  Alex was instrumental in my being able to meet her mother, Marti.  Alex was also the first in Marti’s family to welcome me into their family.

I want to take this time to wish my new daughter, Alex a wonderful and happy birthday. Alex lives and works in southern California so we do not see her as often as we should.  However, we do see her on special occasions and these are always good times.  Alex likes my cooking skills.  One of her favorite items that I prepare is from my list of salads, it is known as John’s tomato salad.  I will make this salad whenever Alex visits her home in Aptos.  Alex also likes my special burnt Almond cake from Peter’s Bakery in San Jose California. I have been known to pick up a burnt Almond cake when Alex visits her mom and me.

I also like the fact that Alex and Monica share the same room at our house.  They act like sisters even though Alex is Monica’s Aunt.  Alex has welcomed all of my grandchildren and enjoys spending time with each of them.  Alex attended the family reunion and enjoyed the event.  She will be attending the wedding of my daughter Susan in June.  She is going to visit her Aunt Jolynn, who lives outside Washington DC and is expecting her second child in October. Alex shows she is a caring and loving person by how she has maintained friendships from her early school days through today.

Alex was born on the same day her grandfather was born.  Her grandfather, Mike S. was living in southern California when he suffered a stroke that affected his right side.  The family felt it would be better for Mike if he was moved to the Santa Cruz County.  This move would place Mike close to his son and daughter, Matt and Marti.  Mike is a very interesting person and most of the time is a fun person to visit.

Mike likes to drink Coca-Cola. So whenever we visit him we bring extra dollar bills so he can ask the orderly to purchase one for him.  He also likes for us to bring him sweet things he can eat.  His favorite sweet snack is Lemon Bars.  He also likes Tiramisu, Lemon Cake, Chocolate Cake and Cheese Cake.  Mike’s condition has improved greatly after his move from southern California.  I attribute the improvement to his health directly to the multiple visits from his son and daughter.  I also visit Mike because he makes me laugh and treats me as a member of his family.

Happy Birthday Alexandra!  Happy Birthday Mike!  I love you both!


More about My God Mother

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Yesterday, I told you the story about my wonderful God Mother.  Soon after publishing I received calls from my siblings asking that I explain just a little more about my God Mother “Babe Mayo”.  As I stated yesterday, Babe was a wonderful person and a lovely lady.  She treated me as the special young man I was.  Babe never forgot my special days.  Starting with the beginning of the year, Babe would bring Easter Baskets to our home.  There was always one basket for each child.  One for my older sister Marianne, one for my baby sister Jessica, one for my younger brother Sammy, and of course one Easter Basket for me.  Oh yes I almost forgot, my Easter Basket was the largest of the four baskets.  In fact, it was larger than the other three combined.

The next most important day of the year was my birthday.  Babe Mayo never forgot my birthday.  She always arrived early and presented me with more than one birthday gift.  I could not open the presents until my actual birthday but that was Ok with me.  Babe’s gifts were always special and something that I had informed my mom I wanted for my birthday.  Babe knew how much I loved presents so she would never just bring me one great present. She would normally gift me with at least two special birthday gifts and a few small gifts for fun as well.  Babe made me feel super special each and every birthday.

The third and most wonderful day of the year was Christmas Day.  Again, my God Mother, Babe Mayo would bring Christmas gifts for me and my siblings.  Three presents went to my siblings, Marianne, Sam, and Jessica.  The remaining presents were mine for Christmas.  Even though I was given a few more presents than my siblings, it was fair because Babe was just my God Mother.  It was also fair because I was the oldest boy child of this Italian family.  I was the young Italian prince deserving of praise and gifts.

In addition to these three very important days each year there was her wonderful visits.  I remember that Babe Mayo would visit me at least three additional times each year.  In addition to her special and wonderful hugs and kisses she would surprise me with some kind of treat.  The best treats were the Italian cookies that Grandma Mayo made for me.  I always thanked my God Mother (because I was a polite young boy) and asked her to thank Grandma Mayo.  Then after answering her questions I would run off and give a cookie to each of my siblings.  With my bag now holding three cookies less I would look for a place to stash the goodies.  I think I had a fear that my siblings might want to eat more of my cookies.  Sometimes she would take me with her back to her home and I would play until my father would stop by to bring me home.

Special events always included another visit from my God Mother, Babe Mayo.  I know she was there for my Baptism.  She was there when I graduated from Kindergarten.  When I made my First Holly Communion, Babe was there. And she presented me with my first holly medal on a beautiful silver chain that I wore around my neck.  My sponsor for Confirmation was my Uncle Al but my God Mother came and presented me with a beautiful gift.  My graduation from grammar school would have been very sad if Babe Mayo had not arrived in time to give me her wonderful hug and kisses.  I felt like both a man and a young boy when I graduated from High School.  Yet my God Mother was there to congratulate me and shower me with hugs and kisses.

Babe Mayo, my God Mother, was there for my graduation from Collage and again when I graduated from my Masters program.  She blessed me with her presence at my marriage.  As I started a family of my own I would stop by and visit my God Mother at her home.  With my family expanding with the addition of my daughters we would all stop by and visit with Babe.  I am sad to say but my God Mother passed away before I could show her my first grandchild.

Marti’s Birthday Month (Deb’s Birthday Too!)

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It is dinner time and we have reservations at Sarafina’s Italian Kitchen.  We arrive at the restaurant and find that it is packed.  Even with a reservation we find that we need to wait.  Standing by the bar David, Jessica, the birthday girl Marti and I wait for our table.  Six minutes later we are sitting at our table and reviewing the menu.  We order drinks and place our dinner requests.  I can see that Marti is happy with the restaurant, company at the table, and our food.  We laugh, talk and enjoy our dinner the food is excellent and prepared with skill.  We enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant.  We pass on desert because we have a special fruit tart and chocolate back at the cabin.

After arriving back at the cabin we set out the tart, special candy and David and Jessica’s homemade Lemoncello.  We have tried an earlier batch of the Giudicessi Lemoncello during a visit to David and Jessica’s home.  However, the Lemoncello David brought to the cabin was part of a new batch; it was different from the batch we first tried at David and Jessica’s.  This Lemoncello was smother and more delicate with a fine lemon flavor.  Marti was very happy with the new Lemoncello.  With a slice of tart and a small piece of chocolate and of course her glass of Lemoncello in front of her, we all wished her a happy birthday.

After enjoying our deserts we relaxed and soon it was time for bed.  Marti and I head upstairs to our room for a night of sleep.  After changing into our pj’s we climbed into bed warm and ready for sleep.  Before closing my eyes I ask Marti if she enjoyed her birthday.  Marti was so animated in her reply.  She went on to say how much she enjoyed the company of David and Jessica, the Serra Nevada Mountains, the cities of Murphy and Arnold, the beauty of Blue Lake Springs, the cabin and our walk in the forest.  She did state that our visit to the city of Dorrington California was the least enjoyable part of her birthday weekend.  Happy that Marti enjoyed her birthday I went to sleep.

Waking up Sunday morning was wonderful.  Marti was still asleep so I crawled out of bed and headed into the bathroom.  With my teeth brushed, and body showered I walked downstairs to the family room.  Today we need to return home.  Marti needs to go to work on Monday so today we must return to home.  Together David, Jessica, Marti and I started preparing the cabin for our departure.  We washed and replaced the dirty items in the cabin and basically readied it for the next visitors.  By mid morning we were in our car and heading home.  I was sad to leave.  I will return to the cabin with David and Jessica again.

Time moved forward and it was the last weekend of Marti’s birthday month.  We had planned a dinner with friends to celebrate two birthdays.  Regardless of what Marti thinks other people were born in her birth month.  Even though February is the shortest month of the year it is Marti’s birth month. Most of us are lucky to celebrate part of a day on our birth day.  Marti on the other hand has been able to stretch her birth day into a birth month.    We started the month off with a wonderful present that was ordered on-line with an estimated delivery date of her birth day.  We are still waiting for this present to arrive.  We ended her birthday month at another Italian restaurant with six other friends.  (Rumor had it that one person at the table also celebrated her birthday too.)  Happy birthday Debbie!

I am sure Marti enjoyed her birthday and each day she did not work in her birthday month!

The Swanson Family Cabin – for Marti’s birthday

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We stopped and parked in Murphy California and browsed the main street with its multiple shops.  We purchased some candy for later that evening and enjoyed the other unique items discovered in the shops.  The time was approaching half pass twelve as we arrived at the restaurant Alchemy.  We entered and were quickly seated at a table.  No sooner had we ordered our drinks when Jess and David entered.  They joined us at our table and we reviewed the menu for our lunch.  We all ordered and then talked and laughed until our lunch arrived. Well I have to let you know.  I was not expecting something great for lunch because we were in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and this year the snow is not very good.  Without snow visitors become sparse and the owners try to improve profits by reducing cost and waste.

With that in my mind I ordered a hamburger, David ordered the special of the day a chicken quesadilla, and both of the girls ordered a pizza with artichoke and chicken.  With the arrival of our lunch my fears were set aside and I could see and smell the quality of the food.  As we all started to enjoy our lunch you could see the satisfaction on our faces.  The food not only looked and smelled great it was a joy to our taste buds. We ate our lunch and shared bites with each other.  Happy and full we left Murphy’s for the last leg of our journey to the Swanson Family Cabin in the Blue Lake Springs Area of Arnold.

We arrived at the cabin and my memory jumped into hyper drive.  I started to remember so much about the cabin.  Just to let you know, the lot in Blue Lake Springs was owned by David’s father.  It was just a lot without any improvements when David approached his father and asked to purchase the lot.  They came to an agreement and the lot ownership transferred to David and Jessica.  A little later in that same year David and Jessica were talking to Mom and Dad about the lot and their plans to build a cabin.  In that conversation Frank and Rose Giudicessi (Dad and Mom) explained that building a cabin was a dream they shared.  The more they talked the more it sounded like this could be a joint venture with Mom and Dad and David and Jessica.  Together David and Dad built the cabin on the lot in Blue Lake Springs located in the city of Arnold.  The cabin was completed in 1979 just a little over one year after the discussion occurred.  David, Jessica, Frank and Rose dream of a cabin became a reality for all to enjoy.

The cabin has a deck that borders two sides of the cabin.  The exterior of the cabin has a rustic look that fits well into its surrounding of forest trees.  Entering the cabin you first see a small room with hooks, a small bench, a washer and dryer.  If it was cold with snow on the ground you would hang up your heavy coat, remove your boots and depart the small room.  As you enter the home dry and warm you walk through the kitchen area.  Next is a beautiful dining area.  The family area has a timberline wood stove and a wonderful entertainment center.  Two bedrooms and a bathroom complete the first floor of the cabin.  The second floor contains a storage area, bathroom, two bedrooms, and a rumpus room for the children.  The inside of the cabin is anything but rustic.

Dad and David did a wonderful job building this cabin in the woods.  There were a few times when my father and I went to the cabin.  Anytime dad was at the cabin he always had some kind of task or project that he wanted to work on or complete.  Mom on the other hand just enjoyed cleaning and rearranging items inside the cabin.  Her most favorite times were spring and fall.  Fall was her special time and she would walk down the road and view the trees with their fall colors.  Mon always loved the way the leaves on the trees change colors.  She always felt that the trees in Iowa looked much more beautiful than the trees in Arnold during the fall months.  After taking my trip to the northeast United States in the fall of 2011 proved to me that my mother’s feeling about the leaves were correct.


Marti’s Birthday Month – February

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This event took place earlier this month but writing and proofing takes me time to complete.  I also have photos for when we visited the trees.  This story is a little long so it will take days to complete.

Marlen’s Birthday February 2012

We have plans for Marti’s birthday.  We are going to join my sister Jessica and her husband David in the California gold country.  Our first stop will be the small city of Murphy California.  The city of Murphy is located on the California highway 4.  It is east of California highway 49 and west of Arnold on highway 4.  We will only be in Murphy for a short time.  It will be our meeting place and a place to enjoy lunch on this first day of the trip.  My sister Jessica is bringing some homemade soup for us to enjoy for dinner.

With Jessica bringing soup I decided to bring some bread.  I went shopping on Thursday and was able to pick up some bread rolls from Gail’s Bakery.  I also stopped by a liquor store and picked up some beer and wine for the trip.  Next I went to my favorite produce place and pick out some fresh berries to bring along.  Finally I stopped at The Farm and selected one of their fruit tarts.  I was sure that the berries could be used for snacks, and the tart would be excellent as a desert or breakfast treat.  With my shopping completed I went home to pack for my trip on Friday.

Friday morning arrived and after departing my bed; I brushed my teeth, showered, shaved and combed my hair.  Refreshed I dressed and started to load the car.  Marti soon joined me and we were ready to start the drive to Murphy.  The drive to Murphy was expected to last around three and one half hours so we left our home and started the journey.  Heading south down highway one we continued until we started heading east on highway 129.  Approaching highway 101 we departed highway 129 and headed north on highway 101 until we connected on to highway 152.  Eastward  we passed the great San Louis Reservoir and continued east until we reached highway 165 and our direction changed to northeast.  This highway took us through the beautiful Wildlife Refuge and it was the first time I saw such an abundance of wild ducks.  Changing direction to north we turned onto highway 99 looking for highway number four. My mileage indicator was over 160 miles when we reached the turnoff for highway number four.  Heading east on a two lane highway we were anticipating our arrival time to be noon.  Murphy was a little more busy than normal.  However, we found a place to park the car and took a stroll through the town.


Next it is Chris’s Birthday!

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We were all hungry so Jessica prepared dinner for all of us.  We had a dinner of peppers and sausage sandwiches with a special homemade salad.  The peppers and sausage was excellent and it reminded me of my mother’s peppers and sausage dish.  Jessica prepared the buns with a butter and garlic spread followed by toasting the buns.  The buns by themselves were delicious but stuffed with the peppers and sausage they moved to outstanding.  The salad was refreshing and went well with the sandwiches.  The dressing on the salad was excellent; it brought out the crisp fresh flavors of the leafs and other items within the tossed salad.  We finished dinner and continued talking and telling stories.  After dinner and talking, Jenny and David left the house with their families.  Marti and I went upstairs for a good night sleep.

I awoke Sunday morning and after checking to see if Marti was awake I decided to wait for Marti to wake up.  She was awake about thirty minutes after I had gotten up.  We bathed straighten out the room and headed downstairs.  Jessica and David greeted us as we entered the kitchen.  We were ready to start the last leg of our weekend trip.  Today, we will be driving to San Francisco California.  Our son Chris is celebrating his 19th birthday today.  After saying goodbye to my sister and brother-in-law, Marti and I started the drive to THE CITY.  Our driving plan was simple once we enter the US 80 heading west we will continue until arriving in San Francisco.

This was to be Chris’s first birthday away from home.  Chris had moved to San Francisco almost six months ago.  Marti and I miss Chris a lot but we understand that children need to fly from the nest.  We were bringing some basic items to Chris for his use.  The car trunk was full of microwaveable food items.  In addition to the food items there were two boxes of cupcakes, paper towels, toilet paper, and a piggy bank with lots of quarters.  I guess all parents worry after their child leaves the nest.  This worrying motivates parents to bring basic items for their child to use.  This also lessens the guilt felt by parents as we see our child start to mature.

After clearing out the trunk we headed to a nice Mexican restaurant for Sunday brunch.  We were all happy because the brunch menu was very good.  The restaurant served hot homemade corn tortillas that were delicious.  I do not think that fresh hot homemade corn tortillas compare to any other type of tortillas.  We talked, laughed, and had a great time as we enjoyed our brunch.  Much too soon, our brunch was over and it was time for Marti and I to return home.  We drove Chris back to his apartment and said our goodbyes.  Now it was time to start our drive home to Aptos California.



Today we are going to take a little break from Ecuador and say Happy Birthday to someone who is very special to me.

My Monica

Today was her birthday. She was my wife for thirty-eight years. We meet while we were attending high school. In the beginning she wanted nothing to do with me. She had dated other boys, all of them taller than I. Most of them were not Italian even though she was all Italian. Some were very skinny and one that I remember was tall and very muscular, others were of average build. I was under her six-foot requirement by three inches and no one considered me skinny or average. I shopped in the husky boys section.

She was a friend of my next door neighbor friend Carol. I was one year ahead of her in high school, but we did not attend the same school. She attended an all girls’ high school. I had attended an all boys’ high school for just my freshman year and was now attending a public high school. When I first saw her I thought she was nice and pretty, so I asked her out. I know this may be very difficult to understand but Monica said NO, to me. How could she refuse me? Did she not know that I was the man of her dreams? Yes as I remember I was the best available guy of all the guys in the city of San Jose, California. Yet she said no to me!

In fact, she refused me not just that time but at least three other times after our first meeting. I also remember an occasion when I was attending one of her school dances (with another girl who did not say no to me). I saw her sitting at a table with her date and decided to ask her to dance with me. I excused myself from my date and approached her table. After saying hello to her, I asked her for the next dance. Again I got a look, that over time I would come to understand, and she said NO! She even went on to explain that she was at the dance with the boy sitting next to her. She said his name but it was not important to me so I do not remember him.

She said that he was her date and she would not dance with me. I looked this boy in the eyes and with a very serious and piercing look asked “Do you mind if Monica dances with me?” He replied that the decision was hers to make not his. So I turned back to Monica and with a big smile explained that her date did not mind if she danced with me, so let us go out and dance. Again, the look, and then she said no. I returned to my date for the dance and enjoyed the dance. I did think about Monica during that evening and that look but it did not stop me from having a good time.

I truly miss my girl Monica. She passed away in 2005, but her memory is with me always. She was the one I loved and the one who taught me to love. She will always be deep in my heart.

Happy Birthday Honey! I miss you.

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