Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Welcome 2014 - December 31, 2013

Welcome 2014

Perhaps I am imagining it,
But the year went awfully fast,
With the dawn of each new day,
I try new things to make them last!

My face has a few more wrinkles,
Though I am ever on my guard
With Olay and jars of potions,
A youthful look is not so hard.

I’ve found it helps to laugh a lot,
And to surround oneself with friends,
And, for me, the joy of travel,
Helps me deal with all life sends.

Of course, I have an ache or pain,
Acquired in all these years,
But it lets me know that I’m alive,
And I don’t give in to fears.

I see the glass as halfway full,
Or I grab another fast,
For whatever life is left to me,
I plan to have a blast.

I’ve seen the new year come and go,
Both home and far away,
And I thank my God and all the world’s,
For the part I’ve had to play.

So, wherever you may be, dear ones,
May the year to come be blessed,
With all the love and happiness,
That humans can possess.

Carmen Henesy
Copyright December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

No Coal in My Stocking But a Flare Up of Kidney Stones - December 3013.

I spent the last two Christmases in far off India so I was looking forward to a 
change of pace and sharing the holiday with my bouncing, cheerful 
granddaughter, Harper Ann.  While all three of my sons would not be gathered
for the occasion ( Shawn, the oldest, is on Air Force duty in Kuwait ), Jeremy,
my youngest, drove up from San Francisco and we had a special Christmas
eve dinner at Laura and Alex's.  Harper Ann, of course, was the star of the
evening in her "waiting up for Santa" pajamas - though she was snug in bed
about 9PM.

I added a "baby's first Christmas ornament" with Harper's name on it to the 
tree which smelled wonderfully but was fast losing it's needles.  At 8-1/2-months,
Harper was easily diverted from the gifts by a shiny red bag filled with gold paper 
which kept her amused, no matter how often she reached for it.

Needless to say, with my three sons, football is going to be part of this young lady's
life.  Here she is sporting the San Francisco Forty Niners hat her Uncle Jer gave
to Laura.  Nicest of all is that Uncle Jer won the fantasy football pool this season
and donated it to start Harper's college fund.  I can't imagine what college will 
cost when she is a freshman.

Slowly but surely, there is a little bit of hair sprouting on that head.  She has bright
blue eyes and, for the most part, she's cheerful and happy - HOWEVER, Harper
can certainly exercise her lungs and let you know when she is displeased.

I just couldn't resist this little outfit - though she only got one day's wear out of
it.  After all, there is just one FIRST Christmas in a granddaughter's life.  I am so
glad I was home for the occasion.

Much to my dismay, however, early in the wee small hours of Christmas day, as
Santa was still soaring over the tree tops, I'm sure, I woke up with the first twinges 
of right flank pain.  They kept increasing in severity and, even after medication 
and drinking a couple of gallons of water, I knew I was in for a bout of renal colic.
I've had kidney stones for about fifteen years, have had lithotripsy twice withour
success, and have learned to live with them, for the most part.  If I stay adequately
hydrated, I'm usually fine but I guess I had been remiss with my water intake.  

For most of Christmas day and the next, I stayed in bed, missing most of the
festivities.  I did, however, manage to get up long enough for unwrapping of 
gifts and enjoying watching Harper Ann tear into the paper, ribbons and nibble
on all the gift tags.  While the rest of the family went off for Christmas dinner,
I stayed home with the granddogs and thanked my lucky stars I, at least, 
didn't have to head to the emergency room.

"Unlce Jer - sometime I call him Uncle J - says he is going to teach me all the
important  things like how to crab and fish and shoot a gun.  I ike it because he
reads to me from the Spanish books my mom buys.  He speaks Spanish
better than Dad or Nana."

"I know Nana was glad to have a granddaughter...she tells me that all the time.
I think she is worn out from having three sons.  Besides, I can wear cute clothes
like purple hats.  I like all my presents but I really liked chewing on the tags."

"Nana REALLY does take a lot of pictures...not just of me but of everything."

"Ohhhh, I knew this was a Spanish book - "El Camioncita Azul" or something
like that - because Mom said Uncle J had to read it to me.  Nana said that,
someday, he will take me to Barcelona, one of her favorite cities or, maybe,
even to Cuba!"

Well, that was my Christmas.  I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday and that
it did NOT include coal or kidney stones.

Blessings and may 2014 be filled with love, properity, happiness and peace.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Camera Critters #299 - Harper Ann with Taffy and Bucky - December 28, 2013

I must confess that I had misgivings when, long ago, Laura and Alex brought
Taffy home from the local shelter.  Within two months, Bucky had also been
added to the household.  I was anxious, to say the least, because both had
pit bull genes.  That was several years ago, before the April 14th, 2013 arrival
of my darling granddaughter, Harper Ann.  

Since joining the family, my two granddogs have been loving, wonderful
additions.  They took the arrival of a squirming little human creature with 
amazing delight.  Taffy, especially, the female ( both dogs were neutered
at the shelter ), has been so maternal, hovering nearby at every squeal and
cry though Bucky is never far off.

Of course, Harper Ann is never left alone with the dogs but she clearly loves
them - and vice versa.  She tugs at coats, ears and tails and they just lie
quietly and tolerantly.  Her first case of "puppy love" came the day she arrived
home from the hospital.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Skywatch Friday - Sacramento Sunset - December 17, 2013

I decided to drive around last evening to look at some of the Christmas displays.
Nothing however, rivaled, that put on by nature.  It was so spectacular, I had to
pull off the road and get out, camera in hand, to snap a few pictures.  Wish I had
been near the ocean!

I stayed, watching this incredible display, till darkness settled.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy 43rd Birthday, Shawn - December 17, 2013

Well, my dear first born, it seems like we are missing each other on many of
life's important occasions.  You missed Alex and Laura's wedding by about a
week because you were pulling Air Force duty in Germany.  At least, when Harper 
Ann was born, all of us were there, camping out in Laura's "birthing room".  I will, 
forever, cherish that photo of you, Alex, and Jeremy, my three sons, camped out, 
awaiting the arrival of that precious little girl.  

Your two younger brothers tower over you by about six inches but you never let them 
forget who is boss - and, rightly so, since, for much of their lives, you played both
the father, as well as big brother role.  I could not have managed without you.

It's kind of sad that, this year, with me home for Christmas, Uncle Sam has you in
Kuwait!!  Oh, well, that's life.  We will really be missing you at the festivities and 
we are certainly thinking about you today on your 43rd birthday.

I didn't have time to go through storage to find baby pictures of you and, sadly,
in last year's computer demise in India, many that I had were lost.  I found a few
that I am including from recent years here.  You always did say I was death on
computers but I think the last was because of all the summer power outages
during Jaipur's monsoon season.

Even though you've always said you'll never marry and have children - "I've 
already raised two sons ( in reference to Alex and Jeremy ), I think you look quite
fatherly in this short with your niece, Harper.

You may not remember this shot but it was taken a few years ago when Alex was
down and brought the dogs to visit.  You were tormenting Bucky with your guitar
playing.  For some reason, in his opinion, music did NOT soothe the savage beast
and he did not stop barking till you stopped playing.

Just to make you homesick in far away Kuwait, here is a photo from Christmas
2010, before I started making my trips to India ( forty pounds ago!! ) and pre-
Harper.  We'll drink a toast to you this holiday and celebrate when you get back
( though I will probably be in India again - but not for six months this time.

Be safe, son.  I am blessed to have you and your two wonderful brothers.  We are lucky
that Alex chose Laura and now we have the most precious baby in our family.
What a special 43rd birthday for you and a wonderful Christmas for our family.

I love you!!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Out of Touch for Awhile - December 15, 2013

I've been home nearly two weeks already but have not managed to find time to sit
down at this computer!  I've been making the rounds of doctors ( got my hip
injected - amazingly successful this time, knock on wood - just hope I'll have some
relief for a few months ).  Also, saw my dermatologist who "froze" the tiny
area on my nose that was a precancerous lesion.

Spent some quality time with dear friends and got to see some musical
favorites perform - Sony and Jerry Holland at the J. W. Marriott in San Francisco
and Margie Baker at her usual Sunday venue at the Burlingame Hyatt.  If you
haven't seen either, you should give yourselves a really wonderful Christmas
gift and spend a few hours enjoying both!!!

I finally got up to West Sacramento on December 8th and I've been totally
enchanted by my precious little granddaughter, Harper Ann Vukasinovic.  She
already has me wrapped around her little finger.  I am really impressed with
what wonderful parents my son, Alex, and his wife, Laura, are.  The household,
Taffy and Bucky included, is so loving and happy.

You can barely see her two little bottom teeth peeping through

Here she's wearing one of her Christmas outfits..and Taffy is nearby,
as always!  I bought her one for Christmas Eve that says,
"Waiting Up for Santa"

Harper is almost 20 lbs now - and still getting boobie 
milk but Laura makes fresh baby food for her...favorites
are pears, applesauce, yams, carrots.

She babbles and plays happily for long periods with
her doggie baby sitters near her and Nana and mom
working across the room, cooking.

One of her favorite spots is the laundry basket!!!

Bucky lets Harper pull ears, tail...whatever, without complaint!

I couldn't believe how quickly this cute little bug and I bonded.  I am really going
to miss her when I take off January 8th for my three week jaunt around the South.
I do plan to return to India, too, in June...but only for three months this time.  I
can't imagine missing too many months of my granddaughter's life.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

UE's Weekend Challenge: Clouds - November 24, 2013

What a wonderful theme this week.  I have so many cloud photos, it was 
hard to choose.  These fluffy cotton puffs were clouds hovering above
Santa Cruz, California, one of my favorite spots to sit and have a glass of
wine and count my blessings.

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I am so behind in blogging, replying to comments and reading my blog favorites.
It seems these last few weeks in India, I am finally feeling under the weather -
which has actually become quite nice - no rain and cooler temperatures.  I had
a terrible cough and cold, requiring a visit to the doctor and antibiotics that 
lingered well over a week, then a brief bout of Mumbai "motion", and I still don't
feel up to par.  With my homeward flight coming up, I want to be well - because
nearly 24 hours airborne certainly won't help if I'm ill.  I have to be at my best to
see my sweet granddaughter.  At least, I have five days in San Francisco, and
am seeing five different doctors, before I head up for the December visit with
Harper Ann and her parents.

I cannot thank the Toscanos enough for making me part of the family here in
Mumbai and for their warm and gracious hospitality.  After that awful beginning
at the slum hotel, the J. K. Regency, I will be forever grateful for Normal Toscano
for coming to my rescue.  Maybe he wasn't on a galloping white steed but on 
a putt putting rickshaw but he was a knight in shining armor, nonetheless.

This is a photo I took during my first visit to Mumbai, nearly two years ago.  I
am using it for:


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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sunday Bridges - The Bandra-Worli Sea Link - November 17, 2013

How nice to come across a new meme ( to me, anyway ), hosted by Louis 
la Vache, a Francophile American, living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I love his Golden Gate Bridge logo for the meme.  Only sixteen days and
I'll be able to see that bridge again for myself - after nearly 24 hours of 
flying from Mumbai, via Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam - only a three hour
stopover this time so I won't have too much time to peruse the gay holiday
decorations and sales.

Just recently, I went over to Worli and got to see the Bandra-Worli Sea Link
Bridge up close and personal.  This cable-stayed bridge links Bandra
in the Western suburbs of Mumbai with Worli in south Mumbai and is officially
called the Rajiv Ghandi Sea Link.  All eight lanes were opened March 24, 
2010 - four lanes were completed and open almost a year earlier.

Peak travel times has been reduced from 60 - 90 minutes to 20 - 30 minutes
a true blessing in seriously overcrowded Mumbia. 

For more detailed information about this bridge, refer to the following links:



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Catching Up - November 16, 2013

I have been so remiss of late.  My last post was at Diwali and here we are, with
Thanksgiving just around the corner.  I'm experiencing a mixture of emotions, joy
at the thought of seeing my family again, especially when I think of getting to know
 that bubbly chubby Harper but sadness, also, when I face bidding farewell to this 
India I've grown to love with all the friends I have here.  It is always hard because 
I don't know exactly when I will return but God - and Ganesha willing - I'll come back - 
though not for so long a stay in the future...a max of four months, I think.  

I've been a bit under the weather for a few days.  I got up to Pune to visit with Ralph
DSouza, his wife, Belle, litte, Sofia, and her brother, Wilfred, and the rest of their
wonderful family.  It brought back such great memories of Royal Caribbean Days.  I
met Ralph fifteen years ago when I first began cruising and he was one of my first
Indian "sons."  He, Ode Santos, and Milind Sawant are the only ones I've actually 
gotten to visit.  Belle and Sofia came from the Philippines, both with colds and I 
seem to have acquired one, as well - either from all the kissing going on or from 
my bus ride each way.  I finally ended up going to see wonderful Dr. Margaret here 
in Mumbai ( who went to medical school at Johns Hopkins in the U. S. ) and she gave 
me a whole slew of meds, including antibiotics )

Ralph, Belle, Wilfred & Sofia with Ralph's sister, Dawn

Ralph and his two little ones, Sofia and Wilfred

Wilfred and Sofia keeping cousin Scottie from sleeping

Princess Sofia

One night, Terence DSouza decided to take me out to dinner for Kashmiri food
at a restaurant owned by his former boss  - one of three places owned by his boss/
friend.  We chose Janaab, a considerable distance from their home and agreed to 
meet for a taste of kebabs at the new place and end up for cocktails at Northern 
Frontier where Terence had been restaurant manager.  I had never eaten Kashmiri
food before but I already knew I had to try the ran, a whole leg of lamb marinated
24 hours in special Kashmiri spices.  I decided to try a number of starters so we
would have plenty to take back to the family at home.  Good grief, did we have a
giant doggie bag!

We had tabak maaz, deep fried, double layered mutton ribs - very crisp and tasty, 
finished in a flash.  Next came chicken kanti, chunks of chicken marinated in Kashmiri
red chili paste and crispy fried.  Followed by that was fish tikka, barbecued over
charcoal, then mushroom tikka.  Everything was delicious but the ran was absolutely
incredible.  I had to pick up the bone and eat every bite of the meat.

Crispy & scrumptious tabak maaz - fried double layered mutton ribs

Fish....from Australia

Mega mushrooms

A fabulous HUGE plate of ran or mutton leg

Roti cooking in the tandori

Enjoying every last piece of meat of the ran

The aftermath!

Terence, with his friend, owner of the Northern Frontier, Janaab, and another new spot

Ali, photographer and creator of the marinades of the great kabobs 
at the new restaurant

Finally, we made it back home, after stopping briefly at the Northern Frontier
for a drink, then had a nightcap and leftovers with the family.

Next morning, of course, the children were up bright and early.  Uncle Darrel and
Papa were ready for a photo shoot before breakfast.

All I can say is, it sure  is quiet and lonely without my Dsouza family and the little
ones around.  It was such a special three days being back in Pune with them again,
especially to have Belle and little Sofia part of it.  Thanks to all that clan for always
making me feel so special.  Danyivad!!! I love you all.