Picture-A-Week 2019 Week 01 – Monday 12/31 to Sunday 1/6 During our Christmas visit to the Houston branch of our family, we had rain. Lots of rain. Not nearly as much as the flooding events that plagued them for the last two years, but the creeks, drainage gullies and catchment ponds were very well hydrated. How hydrated, you ask? On our last day there I took the granddaughters to a local park for a little walk under the clearing skies and maybe to snap a few photos along the park path. I liked the way the drops had gathered on the glossy leaves of the plant in the water but didn’t realize until I got home that the plant was the same as the ones lining the bank but submerged under four feet of extra water. Week 02 – Monday 1/7 to Sunday 1/13 After a wet week in Houston, we returned to more of the same. Born and raised here and not very used to water falling out of the sky, a long night of heavy rain didn’t go unnoticed as a potential photo-op. Actual raindrops beaded on vegetation is a novelty for me and another one of my favorite subjects. I wanted to break out the old Minolta macro but it was a work day and all the time I could spare was an extended “bio-break” taken before the sun took back the raindrops and spoiled the moment. Since our Hibiscus bushes are at the mid-winter lull in daily blooms, the Sago and its bejeweled fronds won out as the subject. Week 03 – Monday 1/14 to Sunday 1/20 The red-eye from Los Angeles to Houston took its toll on Hailee and Savannah. This was taken after breakfast, two hours into our theoretical four-hour layover as we sat in the waiting area of the first of four standby flights we failed to get a seat on. Our pre-cruise travel plan had failed to take into account the four-day (for some) MLK holiday weekend and the flights were full of folks heading somewhere other than home. Luckily, we planned to get to Miami two days early which allowed for a hasty plan B. Plan B included splitting the cost of a eight-seat monster SUV with our son’s family and driving for 21 hours (1,198 miles) to Miami. Family bonding fun! Week 04 – Monday 1/21 to Sunday 1/27 Remember Roy G. Biv? He’s the old mnemonic buddy wandering around in our early memories just waiting for a chance to remind us of the colors of the rainbow. Without Roy, most people wouldn’t know that the seven major colors of a rainbow are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. As we sailed into St. Kitts shortly after sunrise, the clouds over the island started pouring rain as the sun broke through elsewhere. The result was the brilliant double rainbow pictured here. I have seen one several times but only under the Hawaii Rainbow Rule that only allows them to appear when you are driving on a freeway or without a camera. Week 05 – Monday 1/28 to Sunday 2/3 Super Bowl Sunday. A little different this year than in the past. It used to be a big party tied in with Birthdays and fierce loyalty to various teams. Over the last decade or so, my interest in football has waned to the point that I haven’t watched more than a few minutes of any game in years. This year, we ended up with just the two of us planted in front of the TV with an assortment of game day snacks for “dinner” and we watched the whole game. (Except for the part I slept through.) We had some Buffalo nuggets and a seven layer dip to go with the Jalapeno Frito Scoops but the MVPs were the Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots. It was as if manna fell from heaven. Week 06 – Monday 2/4 to Sunday 2/10 Every year, Costco trots out these large vases with ten or eleven tulip bulbs that are just waiting to sprout. They grow rapidly and have never failed to bloom beautifully. Travel and other distractions made us miss their appearance this year, but that’s ok. Better than ok. By the time we saw them in the store, there were few left and they had grown to about 8″. We missed the first growth but since they were discounted to $6.00 and we still got to see the blooms develop, we got over it. This isn’t a studio shot. I just moved the vase over so the counter spot shone directly down on them and reduced the exposure to hide the dim room behind them. Simple but effective. Week 07 – Monday 2/11 to Sunday 2/17 Photography has taught me to “see” rather than look. Quite often, truly “seeing” a subject also lights the fuse on my chronic curiosity. In 1957, Don Featherstone’s second assignment for his new job at Union Products resulted in one of the most popular lawn ornaments in the history of, well…lawn ornaments. Modeled using a photo spread from National Geographic, it took him a couple of weeks to prepare the halves of the injection molds and give birth to an iconic piece of American folk art. Despite some ups and downs in popularity, sixty-odd years later they are still brightening dull patches of modern suburbia and like everything else, available on Amazon. Week 08 – Monday 2/18 to Sunday 2/24 On Saturday, we drove north to Springville to visit Kim’s Mom and Dad at her brother’s place. It was a good trip and we drove through some pretty spectacular scenery. Snow had closed the 5 Freeway over the Tejon pass from the Los Angeles area to Bakersfield earlier in the week and the snow was very much still in evidence. After we arrived and greetings were exchanged, some of us went down to Evan’s workshop to check it out. I noticed this view immediately. The Sierra Nevada mountain range runs down nearly the entire eastern side of the state and forms a majestic backbone contrasting the lack of same in Sacramento and the Coastal population centers. Week 09 – Monday 2/25 to Sunday 3/3 Opening day for baseball! Team parade and opening ceremonies on Saturday at 9:00 rain or shine! Wake the visiting granddaughters at sunrise so we can drive through the steady rain that had been falling since midnight to our new favorite pre-sport Saturday café for a delicious breakfast. Order an assortment of eclectic Hawaiian-influenced dishes and sit down to some good ol’ family get-togetherness. Phone rings. The opening day? Never mind. Apparently “rain or shine” was an overly optimistic promise that was overridden by several inches of California liquid sunshine which has a detrimental effect on traditional red clay infields. Week 10 – Monday 3/4 to Sunday 3/10 I remember the first time I sat on a real motorcycle and revved the engine. I remember twisting the throttle and hearing the engine roar and the feeling that you were sitting on a rocket ready to blast off. That feeling eventually led me to purchase a used Kawasaki H1 Mach III as my first owned vehicle. In the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, it was considered a superbike. Capable of a mid-12 second ¼ mile and 0-60 times at around 3 seconds, it was a formidable street bike with as much horsepower as a VW beetle but weighing only a little over 400lbs with a full tank. I was wearing a full-face helmet the first time I really opened it up, so nobody saw me making a face like Daisy did. Week 11 – Monday 3/11 to Sunday 3/17 Spring has sprung and the rain delays are seemingly over for now. 70° and sunny is baseball weather and the fields were alive with chatter and the ping of aluminum bats. This is Matthew’s second year of baseball and has moved from T-Ball to Rookie League. The main difference is instead of a tee, the coach serves up a slow overhand toss to the batter. After three attempts, the batter switches to a tee. While there were no towering hits to the fence, the tee only came out occasionally. Fielding improved as well with less swarming of any moving ball from all positions like last year. What position is Matthew trying for on the roster? Designated hitter. Less running involved. Week 12 – Monday 3/18 to Sunday 3/24 Never give your wife a gift with a cord. Even with “unless asked for” as a reasonable caveat, it is still good advice. Quality appliances presented on a gifting occasion can cause the ambient temperature to lower uncomfortably. The same is not generally true in the reverse. For my birthday this week, Wonderful Wife declared our two aging smokers were too ugly to live and that I needed the behemoth pictured here. She was right. The new pellet smoker makes even my old Bradley seem like medieval times. 10 hours in the sous vide bath and 3 hours of smoke rendered these ribs beyond good. The smoker-only tri-tip was also a gift to discerning carnivores. A definite keeper. The wife, that is. Week 13 – Monday 3/25 to Sunday 3/31 Busy weekend. We emptied out the in-law’s house of 60 years and loaded the POD for its trip to their new home up north. Lots of memories. After a day of moving furniture, I was reminded of my father-in-law coming home with aching muscles and sore feet from his 40+ year job at a paper mill. The strong Jack & Coke that eased the rough edges and aches was referred to as his “Foot Medicine” and we always thought that was a cute metaphor. As I aged, I found out that the muscle relaxing and pain deadening effects of a moderate amount of alcohol is a good way to relax when life spends the day beating on you. Scotch is my Foot Medicine de jour and here it is in my favorite delivery vessel. Week 14 – Monday 4/1 to Sunday 4/7 Hailee’s first prom. The first thing that went through my head was shock that her mother was letting my baby granddaughter go to a prom. The next was acceptance that she is now sixteen, a Junior in high school and has grown up to be as beautiful outside as she is inside. Lastly was the realization that the job of recording that fact well enough to do her justice was not going to be easy. The venue that she and her friends had chosen had a major removal of its decorative foliage and looked more like an urban strip mall than the verdant winery they remembered. As it turned out, my concerns were groundless. The subject would have outshone the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as a backdrop. Week 15 – Monday 4/8 to Sunday 4/14 My granddaughter isn’t the cutest little girl in the world…said no grandparent ever. We are blessed to have grandchildren that are easy on the eyes. Strangers have never looked into the stroller and complimented us on our cute pug puppy only to suddenly blush and fumble an apology. (Everyone’s made that mistake like I have, right?) The picture this week wasn’t just a reason to showcase Jackie’s pretty eyes. It was a test of a recent upgrade to my camera’s eye-tracking autofocus that locates the eye of a subject and maintains focus to ensure a better chance of a good portrait. I had less than a second between “Hey Jackie!” and the faux-shy covering of the face. Looks like the upgrade worked. Week 16 – Monday 4/15 to Sunday 4/21 The age-old question loses some meaning when a dead president hatches from the cheap, mass produced plastic egg it was stuffed into. This year’s annual Easter Egg Hunt showed just how large the family has grown over the years. Despite the growth, the event is still one of the happiest events of the year. The food is always incredible and there is always too much. It has also shown the changes in values. Kids used to shake the eggs to see if there was change in them before they picked them up. They still shake them, but the ones that rattle are left as they search for the ones with the folding money. If it was me, I’d give all the eggs a pass and look for the magic chicken that laid them. Week 17 – Monday 4/22 to Sunday 4/28 Springtime brings color back to the wintry California landscape. Technically, it brings colors other than green, but that’s still Spring to us. Misty mornings are also a common feature and combining the two always makes me grab my camera and go hunting. The last few years have been pretty dry and with the drip irrigation set to avoid the exorbitant surcharge for using too much water during the drought (surely to be replaced by a flooding recovery surcharge this year), our plants have done ok. Just ok. Not spectacular. This year, our Bottle Brush plants awoke from their usual trimmed topiary shapes to erupt with hundreds of blooms. For a great photo-op, just add water! Week 18 – Monday 4/29 to Sunday 5/5 Sunday found us in a downtown Dublin hotel weary from a red-eye flight and the 7-hour time shift. Sleep was needed so we could arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the ship the next day. We were coming back to the city at the end of the trip, so we didn’t push it and try to squeeze in any extra sightseeing, electing to nap the afternoon away instead. Awakening around 10pm, we heard a faint rhythmic thumping. It wasn’t enough to keep one awake but it was a curious sound for a hotel room. A small sign on the nightstand had said something about new windows for “peaceful sleep”. Having dismissed it earlier, I decided to look and see why windows would help you sleep… Week 19 – Monday 5/6 to Sunday 5/12 Godafoss translates to “Waterfall of the Gods”. The name is very old and I’m not sure which gods are referenced, but I can’t imagine that any deity would hesitate to claim the honor. Kim was a little leery of a tour that included a waterfall since previous experiences had included the “death march” tour in Grenada. Vague descriptions led to a hike on an undulating path with about a thousand slippery concrete steps through a steaming jungle to a waterfall that wouldn’t qualify as “Pee-Pee of the Gods” on its best day. “Of the Gods” convinced her to trust my choice and as it turned out, the bus ride and the hike were well worth it. Roaring cataracts in a frozen landscape! Thanks God! Week 20 – Monday 5/13 to Sunday 5/19 Yes, “that” Blarney. The magical “Stone of Eloquence” that will enhance your ability to articulate your thoughts and convince others if you lay on your back, hang you head and shoulders over a 90′ drop and kiss the rather plain stone embedded in the battlement surrounding the top of the main tower of Castle Blarney. One smooch and you are better able to convince anybody of anything? That would ne a nice-to-have. Its attraction faded after I saw the line of people waiting to climb the 120 steps to the top of the tower. The get-on-your-back-slide-and-kiss procedure isn’t quick and I wasn’t in the mood to stand in line and listen to lawyers, politicians and car salesmen for that long. Week 21 – Monday 5/20 to Sunday 5/26 Flowers. Pretty flowers, but really just a picture of flowers. Society Garlic or tulbaghia violacea to be specific. Once again the back yard provided me with a reasonably attractive Picture-A-Week filler for a slow week in photography. This week’s spare time was consumed with processing photos from our cruise, a drive into Los Angeles for our Global Entry interview and some reorganization in the garage prepping for a return to the remodeling assault on the kitchen. Saturday was consumed with designing and assembling a cabinet carcass for said kitchen and some much-needed grocery shopping. Sunday was John Wick 3 and smoked tri-tip dinner with the kids. So… Flowers this week. Week 22 – Monday 5/27 to Sunday 6/2 Five years ago we planted a little blood orange tree. It was about two feet tall and rather fragile. For the first two years it grew slowly and never produced any flowers. The third year, it had quite a growth spurt followed by another the following year. Still no indication that it was anything but a decoration. This spring, it started looking like a real tree and popped out blossom after blossom. When we got back from our trip a couple of weeks ago, it had little pea-sized oranges (”greens”, actually) all over it. Fast-forward a bit and here are some of our best chances for real, honest-to-goodness blood oranges off of our very own tree. About time it earned it’s fertilizer! Week 23 – Monday 6/3 to Sunday 6/9 A few years ago, my son talked me into trying Borderlands 2. “You’ll like it Dad! It’s smart and funny!” Well, he was right. The artwork makes it look like you’re playing in a graphic novel and the dialogue is clever and often hilarious. It also has a lot (really, a lot) of guns and a target-rich environment. Stress relief on steroids. In preparation for the release of Borderlands 3, they released an update pack with new adventures foreshadowing version 3. Less than an hour after the Sunday release, it was installed and I was linked with my son’s console doing run and gun across Pandora making the bad guys very, very sorry that they are the bad guys. Hold my beer while I blow this up… Week 24 – Monday 6/10 to Sunday 6/16 Father’s Day gifts aren’t a big deal in our family since I an notoriously hard to buy for. I have a large assortment of tools with a want list starting at around the $500 mark and let’s just avoid talking about the camera equipment want list. When the kids were little, they found that I liked chocolate cherry cordials and Father’s Day usually included a box since small children have limited shopping options. For many years now, the Amazon gift card has been the unit of gifting and the cherry cordials were left behind. The reasons behind the gift of a small box of See’s Cordials from my oldest daughter melted my heart and brought back a flood of good memories. We have great kids. Week 25 – Monday 6/17 to Sunday 6/23 Triskaidekaphobia is defined as a fear or avoidance of the number 13. Why is triskaidekaphobia a Picture-A-Week subject? Because this week Savannah turned 13 and by that action, we acquired our third concurrent teenage granddaughter. As grandparents, we don’t have quite the back-breaking responsibility of raising them directly but it doesn’t lessen the desire for them to be safe or the anxiety that life will deal them dirt. We are fortunate that all three are level headed, smart, excel in school and pretty much anything they do. But still… It’s hard for me to just sit back and relax with such pretty things facing a potentially ugly world. Fortunately, hoplophobia is not a problem. Week 26 – Monday 6/24 to Sunday 6/30 It was a long week. Work was tougher than usual and the kitchen project is moving along. Except for family birthdays, we haven’t really had time to wind down and socialize much. When Sunday rolled around, we coordinated with friends and embarked on a semi-impromptu brewery tour. Our second stop was chosen since it shared an industrial park with a recently opened distillery. The place has a speakeasy with a members only status that avoids some of the more rigorous aspects of California licensing. Good for them and as it turned out, good for us. The proprietors are friendly and according to my Wonderful Wife, they make the best vodka martini ever in the history of man. A good find! Week 27 – Monday 7/1 to Sunday 7/7Last week held the 4th of July and from photos of fireworks, the annual Basque picnic and a few other bits of miscellany, I chose this spur-of-the-moment ISO12800 product shot of a bottle of whiskey. I have been looking for a bottle since seeing it mentioned in an interview with country music star John Rich. Redneck Riviera is the name of his Nashville-based music venue/bar and merchandise lines, including the whiskey pictured here. One reason I wanted to pick up a bottle was that 10% of the revenue goes to Folds of Honor, an organization that provides college tuition to the spouses and children of fallen and disabled service members. That it is also excellent is a solid bonus. Week 28 – Monday 7/8 to Sunday 7/14 Cookie was a rescue dog. She was rescued from our daughter’s house when her sister (the dog’s, not our other daughter) attacked her and put her in the hospital. We took her in so the grandkids could still have her in the family and see her regularly and of course we fell in love with the charismatic little beast. This week was her turn to rescue me. Work was grueling as we recover from internal IT issues and the kitchen project is back in full swing, eating up afternoon and weekend hours. Photography was forced so far down the list that I actually took no photos at all until late Sunday when Cookie jumped up into my weary lap and flopped into the crook of my arm. Photo-A-Week rescued! Week 29 – Monday 7/15 to Sunday 7/21 “Do you want to take a nap before you eat?” her Grandmother asks. “No!” she answers. “Aren’t you tired?” Again the answer is no. Since Jackie is now three, she insists on sitting at our bar with her older brother at lunchtime and if she kneels on the barstool, she reaches the proper height to eat and drink like a “big person”. Prior to this picture, the two of them had spent the previous hour or so playing some mysterious made-up game that involved an inordinate amount of running from room to room. Jackie was uncharacteristically quiet just before lunch, so we should have seen this coming. That nasty old nap she refused earlier wasn’t fooled at all. It found her halfway through lunch. Week 30 – Monday 7/22 to Sunday 7/28 If I look off into the distance and squint a little, I can see the finish line. After nearly a year of interruptions (both planned and unplanned) we are on the final stretch of the Kitchen remodeling project. All of the carcasses are built and installed with only a few drawers left to be made and added as soon as I figure out size and purpose. Designing and building everything from scratch has allowed for adding a lot of functionality unavailable from a pick-and-place component installation. Useful bits like the mixer lift pictured here and a roll-out cart for extra prep room will make for a happy cook. DIY also made the African Mahogany an affordable alternative to pressboard and laminate. Week 31 – Monday 7/29 to Sunday 8/4 On Sunday morning we packed the car and took to the road. Our destination was the iconic Route 66, “The Main Street of America”. Since 1926 it served as the primary route for travel and commerce from the Midwest to the Southwest and points along the way. Though the last of the original route was replaced in 1985 by new interstate highways, bypassed segments have been adopted by local groups that have built museums and turned diners and such into nostalgia destinations with many on the National Register of Historic Places. Songs, movies and even a TV show have written The Mother Road indelibly into America’s story. It was worth the (10 mile) drive to record a bit of history. Week 32 – Monday 8/5 to Sunday 8/11 I am a native Californian and since In-N-Out hamburgers pre-date me by several years, I have never lived in a place that didn’t have one within driving distance. However, since my upbringing didn’t include a lot of dining out, it wasn’t until my mid-teen years that I discovered the iconic Double-double. Since that moment, it has been my favorite fast-food burger. By far. Never frozen burgers frying on the grille as somebody runs potatoes through the french fry cutter is a constant dance at a typical location. Waiting in a line of 20 cars for a box of blessed meatiness and driving home while swiping a couple of fries from the bag almost makes The People’s Republic of California worth living in! Week 33 – Monday 8/12 to Sunday 8/18 Another week of non-photographic activity. The kitchen project is in its final laps and the weekends and evenings are filled with the sounds of saws and screwdrivers and the smell of sawdust and lacquer. Pictured here is a pull-out trash receptacle that is 2.5x larger than the ones easily available online. Why did I have to design and build a larger one? Because I love my wife and she wanted a larger trash can. Another reason is that a pull-out trash receptacle was not in the original design and the larger units online were too wide by far for the space available. Cutting down and framing an industrial container that was a bit too wide and tall was the answer and ended up looking pretty good. Week 34 – Monday 8/19 to Sunday 8/25 The Picture-A-Week back in week 26 was of the excellent little speakeasy at Citrus Grove Distillery that we discovered. I shared the photo with family and was immediately told that this was a mandatory item on the to-do list when my son planned to visit later in the summer. Fast-forward to now and here I am taking a photo of Dan’s complimentary flight that comes with the membership fee. The chai spiced rum, whiskey, ginger liqueur and their excellent vodka impressed him. We ended up visiting twice during the week and spent more time talking that we did drinking. I guess that a welcoming environment and a fine flammable beverage makes it easy to speak. Etymology moment… Week 35 – Monday 8/26 to Sunday 9/1 Pictured here are Matthew and Jackie performing at the Basque Club Labor Day Picnic. Neither Matthew nor Jackie are showing signs of being naturals and it would be fair to say that the entire group’s performance relied heavily on how darned cute the kids looked in their traditional costumes (though 99° and sunny made wool a questionable choice.) This was our second attendance at one of these events and we have come to respect how dedicated the local Basque population is about maintaining their traditions. With schools and communities trying so hard to erase our history, it’s nice to see a people proud to be American and still work hard to maintain and respect their own past. Week 36 – Monday 9/2 to Sunday 9/8 While scrubbing engine parts, a static spark ignited a small fire in my Brother-in-Law’s parts washer. Attempts to smother it failed, so he ran to the truck to grab the fire extinguisher. Even though properly applied, the pressurized jet of retardant from the extinguisher displaced the vapor building up in the washer tub and drove the flame up the wall of the shop, igniting the insulation on the roof. One flaming thing led to another and within 15 minutes, his work truck, tools, boat & trailer, golf cart and the entire contents of his 40’ x 50’ shop were reduced to ashes and melted metal. The new shop will have a parts washing station well separated from the main structure. Week 37 – Monday 9/9 to Sunday 9/15 This week finally saw the last of the doors and drawers installed and the final few pieces of African Mahogany dissected and turned into molding. The kitchen is done. There are still a few hidden features to be added but the functional and visual parts are all done. It has been a long and sometimes frustrating project since I am not an actual carpenter by trade but I learned a lot and can honestly say I am proud of how it came out. The Wonderful Wife is happy too, which makes the effort worth the gallons of sweat and myriad bits of wood tweezered from my hands. In trying to show the results, I also learned that panoramas hate a lot of lines and I need a good ultra-wide-angle lens. Week 38 – Monday 9/16 to Sunday 9/22Chief Pontiac was an Ottowa Indian born in the early 1700s who rose to prominence by organizing a coalition of tribes to resist the incursion of the French into the Great Lakes area. His impact on North American history is noted with cities in Michigan and Quebec named after him and many artistic renderings of his profile gracing the hoods of cars built by the division of GM that bore his name. This 1936 Pontiac coupe hood ornament caught my eye as Ron and I walked past the classics at the 2019 Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion on Friday night. Today’s cars are good looking for the most part but an old coupe from the ‘30s or a mid-’60s Cobra are truly works of automotive art. Week 39 – Monday 9/23 to Sunday 9/29Sunday found us heading home from breakfast along the Mother Road and I decided that since we weren’t (for once) under any time constraint), we could stop and take in the commemorated Pacific Electric train overpass where Route 66 passes through Bear Gulch between Rancho Cucamonga and Upland. Both Upland and Rancho Cucamonga have significant sites noting the history of Route 66. There is a small patch of the original paved road from the ‘20s near the overpass and just beyond it is the Sycamore Inn which dates from when Route 66 was the Old Spanish Trail and has existed in its current incarnation since the 1930s. History is all around if you take time to look for it. Week 40 – Monday 9/30 to Sunday 10/6Not the best week for photography. Sprinklers needed fixing and measurements and design for the next project took up the free time left over from the life vacuum that is Borderlands 3. I think the giddy newness is over now and responsible time management will be the rule of the day. What I am left with this week is an honest-to-goodness crappy snapshot of the grandkids’ carved Ninjago and Malificent pumpkins. No worries about melting into a puddle of rotten gourd before Halloween. They are 100% non-organic plastic foam. I imagine they could be recycled but since they would probably just make straws out of the plastic, we’ll just toss them when the holiday is over. Week 41 – Monday 10/7 to Sunday 10/13After a few weeks of afterthought PAW photos, I put the camera on the strap and took it to the grandkids’ skating lessons with Picture-A-Week plans. They are only a few weeks into the process but are improving quickly. No double axels yet, but fewer butt-flops. This really takes Kim and I back thirty years to when their mom was out there with her siblings skating their hearts out. Matthew chose hockey where his uncle did the figure skating for football agility. Jackie is, well…Jackie. A year from now she may be doing spins and jumps like Mom and Auntie or hip-checking the boys into the wall. This shot of Jackie’s first skates tells a story that is just beginning. Week 42 – Monday 10/14 to Sunday 10/20Ah, fall! The temperature has dropped to the mid-80s during the day and dips into the high 50s at night. The leaves are…well, the leaves are pretty much still green. The closest I got to fall colors this week was the yellowing of the prickly pear cactus fruit as they shed their blossoms and make their way from green to bright red. Neighborhood palm trees stay green and our avocado tree is a “deciduous evergreen”. Not an oxymoron but a type of tree that sheds its leave only after the new leaves are in place. We lived in Georgia over one real fall season and while it was pretty awesome, I’ll take yellowish cactus fruit for fall over the summer humidity and bugs. Week 43 – Monday 10/21 to Sunday 10/27Busy week at work with afternoons taken up by the latest household construction project. Friday came around and we decided a mental health break was in order and went out to dinner with friends. I know what you’re thinking, but this week’s photo wasn’t dinner. It was the pleasant beer by the name of Über Affengeil Hazy IPA that we enjoyed while waiting for the nice people in the taco truck to prepare actual dinner. This once-obscure industrial complex near the local airport has sprouted a craft brewery, a distillery with a speakeasy, a craft ciderhouse, a reputation for awesome mobile catering and a growing need for more parking. Good doesn’t need to be fancy. Week 44 – Monday 10/28 to Sunday 11/3Sunday morning found our local family out picking apples at the sort-of-local U-Pick apple orchard. In all the years we’ve made the Autumn pilgrimage to the San Bernardino community of Oak Glen, we have never actually picked our own apples. We usually remember that it’s apple season too late or we get there too late in the day to do anything other than a little shopping after the traditional apple pie purchase. This year we got there early, had breakfast and drove up to the orchard ahead of the crowds. A $2 (each) hay ride behind a ‘53 John Deer tractor got us to the Fuji apple area and the cousins had a ball finding the perfect apples. Yay, apples! Week 45 – Monday 11/4 to Sunday 11/10This week I’m breaking tradition and featuring a picture from the archives. As I was choosing the photo for week 45, we got a call telling us that the man pictured here walking with his brother (left) had passed away as a result of his long battle with Alzheimer’s. I was 19 and he was 36 when I married his daughter. For the next 45 years he was more of a father and a friend to me than my father-in-law. He was the hardest working man I ever met and was respected and loved by everyone who knew him. Literally. Everyone. His disease took him from us slowly but this end of a truly good man was still a shock. Rest in peace Dick, and thank you for my family. Week 46 – Monday 11/11 to Sunday 11/17Every time you choose between two or more of anything, there are winners and losers. In a race or sporting event, the winner and loser is chosen based on the fastest time or highest/lowest score. Chance, in the form of a coin toss can be used. The winner may also be determined by critical judgement. This week’s picture is of the winner based on the latter type. My choices were to spend the weekend traipsing around the Southland taking pictures or wielding tools to renovate our entertainment gazebo to make room for visiting family to actually sit down and eat. Both my conscience and Wonderful Wife were in favor of the renovation. Condolences to photography. Week 47 – Monday 11/18 to Sunday 11/24This weekend was the service and early Thanksgiving for my Father-in-law. We drove north to my brother-in-law’s house as did 50 or so other relatives spanning four generations. The service was simple and was a fitting goodbye to a man who inspired us all. This photo, while set up with help from family cat-wranglers and had the camera settings pre-set by me, was taken by Joe. Joe counted us down and pressed the shutter for a sequence of fifteen or so frames of which this one has all the eyes, and darned near everyone’s attention. Thanks Joe. You helped me be in a photo showing that Dick Matthews will be remembered and loved long after this final tribute. Week 48 – Monday 11/25 to Sunday 12/1While on a family outing to the Orange Empire Railway Museum to ride the “Polar Express”, we took a few moments to look around the grounds. I had heard about how the freeways led to the decline of Los Angeles’ public railway system and here was some evidence that it actually existed When not in Polar Express mode, the museum has several of the old streetcars spanning the railway’s active years from 1901 to 1963. The rise in automobile ownership and the expansion of the freeway system after WWII led to a steep decline in ridership and eventually caused the railway system to be shut down. I feel a bit nostalgic, though I never saw or rode the LA Railway. Week 49 – Monday 12/2 to Sunday 12/8Saturday afternoon traffic as we, along with 20,000 or so of our fellow cruisers, crowd into Miami, fight our way to the port and head out to sea for a few days of rest and relaxation. I realize that cruising offers many choices and rest and relaxation can give way to drinking too much, eating too much, spending too much money and spending too much time in the sun while exposing body parts completely unused to spending any time in the sun. Avoiding the pitfalls of anything-you-want can pay off with time spent comfortably letting the world pass you by as you catch up on sleep, sample the world and let someone make your bed for you. Week 50 – Monday 12/9 to Sunday 12/15 One of my favorite parts of any cruise day is walking around the ship with a cup of coffee, looking for things to photograph and killing time until the sun wakes up and crawls over the horizon. The hours that bracket sunrise and sunset are called the “Golden” and ”Blue” hours due to the nature of the light but the morning time is pure gold in my reckoning. It is a quiet time with only a few crew out prepping for the herd and even fewer passengers out for the morning jog or coffee stroll. The constant pounding of ambient party music is mercifully absent as well. After that, there is the loving look I get when returning to the cabin to deliver the morning’s first latte. Week 51 – Monday 12/16 to Sunday 12/22We’re buying tickets for the 2026 Winter Games! Well, maybe not quite yet. Friday was the local skating rink’s annual Christmas show and we all showed up for Jackie’s debut. It was her first time skating for an audience and while she wasn’t quite ready for Olympic competition, she pulled off a heartbreakingly cute, no-fall routine without a hint of the expected freeze-up from the youngest solo performer of the afternoon. I can also confirm that in my unabashedly biased opinion, she was by far the cutest performer of the show skating to “Candy Cane Jane” dressed in her Christmas finery supplied by a doting great aunt with mad sewing skills. Yay, Jackie! Week 52 – Monday 12/23 to Sunday 12/29 This picture was taken on Christmas Day as we waited to board our flight to Houston to celebrate Christmas with my Son’s family. This has become a tradition of sorts and the drive to Palm Springs to catch one of the few open stand-by flights available on Christmas Day is part of it. No traffic, usually good weather and the beauty of the California desert (minus the windmills) is a refreshing break from the wonderful chaos of the prior Eve and Morning. The backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains on a warm Christmas Day made this shot stand out from the week’s more traditional holiday images and makes us wish the annual trip home didn’t suck so much.