Cousin Judy talks about Grandpa John

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I must tell you about a response I received from my cousin Judy.  She lived in Des Moines, Iowa and was able to visit both my Grandpa John and Grandma Mary.  She loved both of my Grandparents and knew them better than I.  Please read what she had to say about my Grandpa John and my Grandma Mary.

If anyone can add more information about these two wonderful people please send then to me or call me and tell me your stories.

John

Here is what she wrote:

I remember your grandpa John, very well. He was a wonderful kind, strong and caring man. Your grandpa was my Uncle John, because he was married to my grandmother, Carmella’s (or as they referred to her, Rafella, her name in Italian) sister, Mary, your grandmother. We (my mother, Chris and my father, Joe) visited Uncle John and Aunt Mary’s every Sunday. It was traditional in those days to make the rounds on the south side, where all the Italian relatives lived. My grandparents, your grandparents and Aunt Minnie (another sister of your grandma, Mary) and Uncle Pete were our usual Sunday stops every weekend. We ate everywhere we went–pasta, brachiolis, homemade Italian sausage, homemade cookies and pie; always homemade wine and anisette. Ate and drank from morning till night, then we would roll home!!! During the summer when my grandmother (Nana) was in California, I would stay with your grandparents while my mom and dad were at work during the day. There was always a big garden and grape vineyards in the backyard. Aunt Mary watched me very closely, the kids would always have to come to her backyard to play, and she would not let me go to theirs because she was very protective of me.
They were wonderful people and Aunt Mary spoiled me when I stayed with them. We loved them very much! I have a lot of fond memories of Aunt Mary and Uncle John.

Left to Right: Judy’s grandson Nicholas, age 13; Judy’s husband John, Michael, age 8, daughter Krista, granddaughter Natalie, age 8, Judy’s son-in-laws Doug and Craig, granddaughter Kaitlyn, age 12, Judy’s daughter Lisa, and Judy,

 

 

 

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Michael’s Birthday Lunch!

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It was Sunday the day before Michael’s birthday.  We were all planning to meet at Michael’s most favorite restaurant, La Milpa in Milpitas.  Lunch was planned for 1:00 pm and I was looking forward to enjoying some time with my family.  We were all up early on Sunday except for Chris who went to a party on Saturday night all decked out in his new outfit.  He sure did look handsome.  I made my world-famous Papa John’s pancakes and even after everyone had their fill I still had a lot left over.  So into a storage bag the extras went. I will give them to Michael as an extra gift so he can have them on his birthday Monday morning.

Soon Chris was awake and both he and Monica started to pack for their return home.  I do enjoy having Chris and Monica at the house.  Chris can be very helpful to his mom and she always saves a few things just for Chris to get done.  This was a wonderful weekend with Chris. A lot of time was spent discussing things that needed to be talked about and plans that needed to be made about his future.  Chris turned eighteen last year and I am amazed at how he has matured.

Well with everyone ready we packed our stuff and ourselves into the car.  We were on our way to my Grandson, Michael’s eighteenth birthday lunch.  I guess I was just way too excited.  We arrived thirty minutes early to the restaurant, so we took a lot of time exiting the car and strolled into La Milpa’s.  The owner greeted us as soon as a small break occurred between customers.  We were then taken directly to our table.  Once we were seated we begin to eat the chips and salsa present on the table.  We were waiting for the birthday boy (cross that boy comment and insert man) to arrive.  Before completing our order for drinks I see my Grandson entering La Milpa’s front door.

I wave to Michael and he heads straight to the table.  Hugs and kisses to Marti, Monica and I with a smile and handshake for Chris.  Seconds later the last three people arrive for the party.  Now sitting at the lunch table are: Michael (the birthday –Man), Chris my son, Monica my Granddaughter, Marti my wife, Susan my daughter, Bruce my soon to be son-in-law, Barbara my daughters Godmother and long time friend of the family and of course me.  Missing is my daughter Deborah and her two daughters Abby and Braylin.  Deborah and her family were unable to come to the lunch due to illness and that made lunch just a little sad.

With everyone seated at the table our family started to enjoy the party.  The eight of us began talking and discussing just what we thought was best for lunch.  Michael really enjoys good Mexican food and his favorite is the giant Burrito.  He ordered his lunch and the rest of us ordered our lunch.  The food at La Milpa’s is always excellent and I understand why it is always packed.  The service is excellent and the guests at the restaurant are treated with both thanks and understanding.  Barbara needed to leave after lunch to return home and Marti and I needed to take Chris to the BART station.  So it was agreed that after lunch Susan, Bruce, Monica and the birthday man, Michael would drive to their home and await Marti and my return from the BART station to enjoy cake and open presents.

We dropped Chris off at the BART station and then drove quickly over to Susan’s house.  There at the house everyone was waiting for Marti and I too arrive so the presents could be opened.  First we all sat down and a special made cake (that looked just like a giant camera) with eighteen candles arrived.  We all sang Happy Birthday (someone sure does not know how to sing; in fact I think that person cannot carry a tune even in a box).  Then Michael cut the cake and shared a slice of cake with everyone. Next he opened all of his birthday cards and read them aloud to all of us.  Presents were next and you could see the happiness on Michael’s face as he opened each present.  He thanked everyone individually after opening each gift.  At the end Michael thanked all of us for attending and celebrating his birthday with him.  It was late afternoon and Marti and I returned home to Aptos, California.

A Special Dinner (pasta, sausage, onions and peppers, without tomato sauce)

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We arrived in Aptos ahead of Marti. She had to work at her job with the Monterey County today but she will not have to work this weekend. Chris and Monica put their things away in their respective rooms as I prepared dinner.  I was planning to make my special sausage pasta without tomato sauce.  I start by cooking the sausage in a frying pan.  I place the sausages in the pan with a little water and cook the sausage for about twenty minutes.  By this time the water has evaporated and it is time for a little olive oil to brown the sausage.  With the sausage browned I remove them from the pan and prepare to brown some onions.  Using the same pan the sausage was cooked and browned I add just a little butter and cook the sliced and chopped onions to their caramelized state. I add three crushed and chopped garlic sections and a dash of crushed red pepper.  I normally cut each of the sausages up into four equal pieces and toss them into the onions and garlic.

Just prior to sitting down I toss my pasta into the salted water to start the cooking process.  As the pasta cooks I prep the final few ingredients.  I cut cherry tomatoes into half’s, chop fresh parsley and basil, and grate my hard cheese. I reheat the sausage, onion, oil, and butter mixture to await the pasta.  When the pasta is cooked just right I remove it from the water and toss it into the pan with my sausage mixture.  Tossing this combination quickly to coat I dump it all into a large pasta bowel.  It is at this time that I add my four last items to the dish cherry tomatoes, parsley, basil, and cheese. One final toss to mix the cold ingredients and my dish is ready to be enjoyed.

I like to serve my pastas with a cold crisp green salad with just a light oil and vinegar dressing.  Of course I also serve Crispy French bread with butter or better yet, John’s special olive oil.  Round out the dinner.  Let me add my special note here.  To make “John’s Special Olive Oil” for bread all you need are the following simple ingredients:  Good tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil, black pepper corns crushed, balsamic vinegar, and grated parmesan cheese.  Mix well and serve on the table in small individual bowels for each person.  I have found that normally people will dunk their bread into the mixture.

I have served this meal many times and too many different people and it has been a hit with all.  If you ask Monica, Chris, Michael, and Marti they will all tell you not only how good it is and they even like it reheated by microwave the next day.  I am always happy to hear just how much they like my pasta.

Shopping with the Guys!

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We completed our lunch and with full tummies we were ready to shop.  The girls headed in one direction looking for a dress and the three guys headed in another direction looking for pants and shirts.  I was just along for the joy of paying the bill but I must say that it is always fun to shop with guys.  We do not look at items and wonder like the ladies.  We head right to our size and check out what is offered for sell.  We can reject items very quickly and we can select items just as quickly.

As the three guys enter the department store we head straight to the men’s section.  We do not stop at the jewelry department, we pass quickly through the makeup section, and we stop only at the men’s department.  Even here we do not stop and look at everything.  We head directly to the area of the men’s section that holds what we are shopping to buy.  Today we are at the racks of pants and checking only the section that holds our size.  Both Chris and Michael find a pair of jeans but the search continues for another pair of pants for skateboarding.  Chris finds his pair first and Michael is disappointed by the lack of choice in his size.  Chris is now looking at shirts and selecting some.  Michael is looking at some sweat tops and selected one.  I am resting my body by a rack of all types of men’s items.  This rack has pants, shirts, jackets, sweaters, and other items and at this time I notice a sign that states SELL prices as marked.  Savings up to 70%.  I glance around and notice four more racks just like the one I am resting on.

I point this out to the boys and at first they glance but not very impressed.  I pull out a windbreaker that will fit Chris and the price is just $12.00.  He shakes his head but now he has interest.  He starts to quickly look through the racks selecting a pair of pants, a sweater, and a shirt.  He returns a pair of pants and a shirt he selected earlier and continues looking at the discounted items.  Soon both boys have what they need and we are off to the cashier.

I call my daughter Susan to see how the dress shopping is progressing.  It is sad but they have found nothing.  But it is soon becoming time for us to drive over the hill before the Friday traffic rush starts.  We meet up at the cash register just before the sales person starts to ring up the items.  Michael shows his mother the items he selected and she nods her approval.  She sees the great deals us guys received and is amazed.  See guys can shop, get good deals and do it fast.  We left the store and headed to our parked car.

Departing the mall I first dropped Susan off at her house and picked up Monica’s weekend bag.  Next I dropped Michael off at his friend’s house.  Now Chris, Monica and I were heading over the hill home to Aptos, and Marti.  I sure had a very fun day with my family.

 

A Special Friday!

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The weekend started for me on Friday.  I awoke early and prepared myself for the drive to San Jose.  I was planning to pick up Chris at 10:00 am and then we could do a little shopping before picking up Susan and Michael for a family lunch.  It really sucks when I confuse the time lines I am trying to work with.  I called my son Chris to inform him I was on my way. He was confused and said that he did not arrive in San Jose until 11:30 am.  I did not want to wait for over ninety minutes so I placed a call to my daughter Susan.  I explained what had happened and if possible could I arrive early and pick up her and my Grandson Michael.  She too was confused because it was her understanding that I was going to pick her and Michael up first and then we were going to pick up Chris.  I was wrong again.  The only thing I had right was that I left on the correct day.

I stopped at Susan’s house and she was ready.  Michael was at school but he was due to arrive home very soon.  It is the last day of parent teacher conferences so students are released early so the teachers have more time with parents.  We departed Susan’s home and headed to the mall.  Both Michael and I needed to be fitted for our tuxedos.  We entered the store and were soon measured, tested and finally fitted for our tuxes.  You sure need to answer lots of questions for a fitting.  They measure everything starting with your neck and ending with your foot.  The tailors’ take measuring very serious so kidding and joking was just not appreciated.  With this task completed we drove over to the Santa Clara train station just in time for the arrival of the train Chris had taken.

With Chris in the car we now drove to little Monica’s school.  We were going to pick her up just a little early and the five of us were then going to lunch.  It did not take long before little Monica was in the car and we were driving back to the mall first for lunch and then for some shopping.  The opinion of everyone in the car was that Dave and Busters was the place for lunch.  We parked and entered the restaurant, requesting a table for five.  We were seated and the menus arrived.  I so enjoy the pleasure that is displayed on the faces of young people as they select their choice of lunch.  I always thought it was because they were the ones to choose what they wanted.  I was wrong.  It is because they are not paying for lunch.

I enjoyed watching and hearing the talk around the lunch table.  Michael and Chris were talking about skateboarding, cameras, and school.  Monica was talking to her mother about school and homework. Susan was reminding me of some extra duties that were needed to be done when babysitting Monica for this weekend.  My partial family was happy and enjoying each other.  I was a happy and delighted man.

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.