Category Archives: Friends

She’s Killing Me #5

My Little Cake Boss on the right as her friend snaps a selfie. They’re looking into a mirror in the Lancome cosmetics section in Macy’s.

She’s killing me, I tell ya.

Big time.

This time, my Little Cake Boss literally left me holding the bag(s)… for over an hour.

My knees crumbled under the weight.

Two vertebrae were crushed.

But I persevered.  I mentally made myself to be one of our heroic Marines, carrying a wounded buddy to safety… while on the receiving end of an enemy barrage.


I had the kids for ten days this time; I’m guessing their mother got another invitation to travel with a certain “somebody”.  The fact she didn’t take my son to piano tells me it must’ve been some trip.  She didn’t even tell her own kids where she would be going.  Unbelievable.

Maybe it was court ordered community service.

Nah.  Wishful thinking.

But the Little Cake Boss had been asking me for over a couple of weeks if I could take her shopping with her friends.  She said she was loaded with greenbacks and gift cards.  She even remembered how much she got from whom.

See.  Women never forget.


So I often asked her during those ten days, “When?  Saturday or Sunday?”

Forget even asking what time.  She uses an hour glass that she forgets to turnover.

Or even the logistics.  “How many of you are going?” “When am I to pick them up…and from where?” LOL

And when I ask again, she gets mad…again.

Well, I guess I should be happy she asked me and not her mom.


So Friday evening comes…and OMG.  She has a plan…kinda.

“Can you take us on Sunday, Papa?” she asks.

“Sure, Bu-chan (my nickname for her).  Who and at what time?”

“I don’t know yet,” she says.

Double OMG.


The Three Musketeers soon after arrival.  Notice their hands are empty…

Long story short, I end up picking up one of her BFF’s, “N”, at her house on Sunday at 10:45 am…  and this is after the plans changed once again that morning.  Her other BFF, “A”, is now having her mother drop her off at the mall at 11:00 “in front of Nordstrom’s”.  She tells me this as we near the mall.  (Never mind I was forced to clean the WHOLE house Saturday as “A’s” mother was supposed to be dropping her off at my house… Grrr…)

“In front of Nordstrom’s, Bu-chan?” I ask.

“Yessssss,” she annoying answers as I apparently interrupted the two girls I am chapperoning.  They are the paying customers, you know.

“Bu-chan…  I think there are five entrances to Nordstrom’s…” says I.

She doesn’t answer.  Cha-ching.  Got her.  Finally.  “Have her meet us in front of Lazy Dog Cafe then,” I say.

She still doesn’t really answer because her old man got her.  She hates that because she’s the Boss.  I can see her hurriedly texting “A”.  She’s a text queen, you know.


Anyways, I can’t remember how many stores they hit… Translation: how many HOURS… and while she knew I would have to tag along, she “hinted” I didn’t have to stand “close” to them.  Sheesh.

They were in there for a month, you know…  Well, actually, about five minutes.  How can three girls spend five minutes in there taking a selfie???
…and she wouldn’t let me see the pictures. Hmmpph.
Reaching for her first Rolex at Tiffany’s.
Their hands are filling up.
Can’t run low on sugar.
Still whippin’ out that cash. Aren’t they tired yet? Isn’t it time to call it a day???

Then, the 1-1/2 hour nightmare…   It’s the equivalent of a woman having to stand for hours on end in the Craftsman Tool section at Sears while the man drools…

They hit the cosmetics section.

Lancome, even.  Criminy.

Lancome?? I didn’t deserve this.

I didn’t know twelve year old girls could get so giddy.

They were crazed.  I think their brains stopped working.  They went from “thing” to another “thing” in there.  I have no frickin’ idea what the stuff they slathered on their faces were called.  There were just a bazillion colors.  They would put it on then wipe it off.  They used a bazillion black or white sticks with stiff little bristles at the end that they took to their eyes while standing millimeters away from the mirror…all whilst contorting their faces.  They stood so close, they blocked out the sun standing in front of those full-length mirrors.

If a girl is confused, imagine how her dad felt.

Oh…and don’t forget…  I indeed got stuck holding the bag(s)…

They were so heavy, my fingers went numb.

But I persevered… for over six hours.

Think about it.  I could have flown from JFK to LAX on the Spirit of St. Louis in less time…and stopped to refuel.

Oh…  They went back to the opposite end of the mall afterwards… to hit Sephora.

That’s another makeup place for you guys.


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Shadows

For “Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Shadows” of this week…

Loyal readers know of my love for WWII combat veteran “Old Man Jack”.

After suffering through seven decades of nightmares of war, he is now finally at peace.  Hopefully, he is resting comfortably beneath these shadows cast by my two youngest kids and I:

jack shadow

And a shadow cast by Old Glory:

jack shadow 2

For new visitors, please feel free to click and read one story of this great American who is now all but being forgotten in our new “Common Core” history textbooks.  He earned the honor to be remembered:

“Old Man Jack-ism #4”



It’s Ojai Pixie Tangerine season, folks!

Chef Cathy Thomas (from whom some of my recipes come from) turned me onto these delightfully yummy tangerines.  They are grown in Ojai, California; we are right after the start of the season which may run into late May or early June.

These savory Pixies are:

•  Easy to peel

•  Sweet

•  Juicy – did I say JUICY?

•  Seedless

•  And my kids love them

Chefs use them in their salads when it calls for tangerines.  They are that good.

I obtain mine from Melissa’s Produce, four pounds for about $18.  They can be shipped anywhere and will arrive fresh.

They are highly recommended!



Homemade Double-Layer BD Cake (Kinda-Sorta)

In case you haven’t figured it out, my daughter is on the left.

My just-turned eleven old daughter had her third 11th birthday party.

That’s right.  Third one.  LOL

And, with the stuff that’s been going on our family life, I decided to try and make a “classic white double-layer birthday cake with raspberry filling and butter cream frosting” for her – from scratch.

Key word: “try”.

And dang, that’s long name for a cake, isn’t it?  Mary Poppins would be pleased.


My two oldest celebrated Brooke’s 11th birthday a week earlier during her real birthday.
That’s my beloved Green Bay Packers t-shirt… Oh, and my four great kids.

This ol’ mechanic thought he could throw this cake together easily…  You know, like if I was Major Nelson with Jeannie at his side.

And I wish I did have Jeannie.  Only for her blinks, of course.


Most of the key ingredients. By the way, I use old medicine cups that came with children’s medicines to pour in extracts.  They even have markings on the side.

I followed the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.  Its recipes are proven battle plans for old mechanics that are easy to follow with predictable results.

But they forgot to consider my age and my (poorly) man-equipped kitchen this time.  Unthinkable.

This time, two (and a half) things went wrong while making the cake:

1.  As I didn’t have a flat beater for my KitchenAid stand mixer, the cake flour/butter mixture couldn’t get “crumbly” enough.  I believe this kept the cake from properly rising while baking.  (Well, there were three things that went wrong: it was overbaked by a couple of minutes.)

2.  I over-whipped the frosting, making it REAL tough to spread…  It was worse than cold peanut butter.  But it tasted just fine.

And while no fault of the recipe, I ran out of frosting; because the cakes had domed too much, there was a gap around the circumference my belly could have sneaked through.  I ended up shoving a LOT of frosting in to fill the gap.

Smuckers raspberry preserves over the almond-buttercream frosting. Spread from the inside to just short of the edge. It’ll squish out.

Since Brooke has gotten hooked on “Cake Boss” (darn fake reality shows), she has become an eleven year old expert on how to frost and decorate cakes.  She was “lovingly critical” on how the frosting was being put on…a little after midnight.  “Pa-paaah! I told you.  You should have cut off the domes.  It’s too high now so you’ve got a HUGE gap!”  (My oldest, Robyn, is probably snickering to herself, “Haha.  Now you know what its like!)

You have no idea how close I was to being fired by the household Cake Boss, let me tell you.  But since it was after midnight (yes, she was still up), I would have received double-time.

For a cake stand, I had to improvise.  The cake was first placed onto the bottom of a 9″ springform pan.  Then that bottom was placed on top of a 9” Pyrex pie dish which was atop a mixing bowl.  Complicated.  Pain to use.  But I did it.  Frustratingly.  With the Cake Boss still cracking orders to boot.


Anyways, the girls ate it.  They said it was good.  I made sure they said that.

Brooke’s four closest friends.

Below, you can see the HUGE gap between the layers I was nearly fired over.  Admittedly, the gap (all the way around the cake) measured about an inch:


So now I know better next time.  And I did order the right flat beater and a revolving cake stand.

But the 11 year old Cake Boss is still here.

I have a great idea.

I should join the baker’s union.

They would keep me from being fired.

Graciousness, Gratefulness and Grandeur


My girl friend Linda fretted for a couple of weeks before going to Japan with me.

She fretted about the (we-know-they’re-coming) typhoons.

She fretted about the (we-don’t-know-they’re-coming) earthquakes.

But what did she fret about the most?  She fretted about getting butt-naked in front of my cousins for a Japanese-style bath at a hot spring in Japan.

Silly lady…  All Japanese do that.

Oops.  I forgot.  She is Irish with blue eyes.

Well, I guess if I were her and experiencing a panic attack, I’d just put a brown paper bag over my mouth… and drink all the scotch inside.

That would help.  After all, she is Irish.


The hot spring inn, “Entaijisou” or 延対寺荘.

During our ten-day visit to Japan in November, my cousin Kiyoshi (Masako‘s youngest brother) treated us to a most wonderful journey to Toyama Prefecture, just inland from the Sea of Japan.  One such destination was famous for its hot springs and a beautiful gorge. We stayed at the inn called “Entaijiso (延対寺荘)” near “Unazuki Hot Springs (宇奈月温泉).”  Started in 1900, the hot spring’s water is naturally heated to a most perfect temperature and has an open-air spa area called a “rotenburo (露天風呂)”.  Literally, you are soaking outside under the heavens.  Butt-naked.

Of course, I was unable to take photos inside the bathing area for obvious reasons but here are other photos from their website to give you a taste of the relaxation that can be had.

qspa004   355206239

Yes, my Irish lady did go in with my (female) cousins!  In a form of endearment, my cousin Masako even washed her back.  Butt naked.  After relaxing in the water for a while then dry off, you notice your skin is just ultra silky smooth.  My cousins did say the geothermically heated ground water has therapeutic powers…  That there is some kind of magical healing power bubbling up.  I kind of doubted it.  But there IS something in the water. 🙂

Their dining area was spectacular; just outside is the river and magnificent mosaic-colored hillsides – a post card panorama.



Kiyoshi’s gracious treat continued on the Kurobe Gorge Tram (黒部峡谷トロッコ).  It is a a sightseeing train running on a very narrow track originally built to aid the construction of the Kurobe Dam.  It follows a winding path along the river – something like 20 kilometers from the base station of Unazuki to the end.  We we there unbelievably at their peak of the autumn color change.  It is important to note we hiked a bit after getting off the tram at Kanetsuri Station – and my cousins below LED the way.  While Masako has difficulty going DOWN stairs, she was a jack rabbit going up.  Amazing.  At 80 years of age.

My cousins (L to R): Tomiko (71), Masako (80), Namie (74) and Kiyoshi (65).

I will let the photos show you the grandeur we were so fortunate to experience.  (Please note many of these were taken from the moving tram.)
























AND A “I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE”…  Can you spot it?  There is a wild red faced monkey below.



Prior to getting into the hot spring and public bath, I tried to relieve her anxiety.

I said, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

She replied, “They sinned.”


I was proud of my blue-eyed Irish lady friend.  She got into the public bath and hot springs butt naked.

And even got her back scrubbed by Masako, a survivor of an atomic blast.

Imagine that.

From a Japanese hot spring, I have learned that spreading peace for the world starts as a power that emanates from within one person.

Ten Beautiful Days

Embarking on a ten day vacation to a land far, far away needs a lot of one’s time to prepare… one reason for my recent absence from WordPress.  Not that anyone would notice, of course.

For now, just some colorful images of nature taken during the journey to Japan I immensely enjoyed… which would not have been possible without the unqualified help from my Hiroshima cousin Masako – after whom this blog is named – and her extended family.  Hopefully, time will permit sharing more of this glorious journey – and enlightening in ways I could never have imagined.

So for now… Japan in autumn.















The Way It Should Be

bw us marine

After a sergeant in the Marine Corps reached mandatory age and got mustered out, he entered civilian life and became a high school teacher.   Just before the school year started, the former enlisted Marine injured his back.   He was required to wear a plaster cast around the upper part of his body.  Fortunately, the cast fit under his shirt and wasn’t noticeable.

On the first day of class, he found himself assigned to the toughest students in the school.  The smart-aleck punks, having already heard the new teacher was a Marine, were leery of him and he knew they would be testing his discipline in the classroom.

Walking confidently into the rowdy classroom, the new teacher opened the window wide and sat down at his desk. When a strong breeze made his tie flap, he picked up a stapler and stapled the tie to his chest.

Dead silence…

The rest of the year went very smoothly.


…and that’s the way it should be.


Zeller and Shinwari
Army Officer Matt Zeller stands alongside Janis Shinwari, an Afghan interpreter. Janis, code named Hafez, has been hiding from the Taliban since the deadly 2008 firefight. (Photo credit: Matt Zeller/


The Administration of the United States of America is FINALLY allowing the TRACKABLE, AUTHORIZED AND OTHERWISE TO BE “UN”-MEDIA-IZED immigration of ONE Afghan: a brave interpreter code named Hafez!  Please see my earlier story on this topic: “Afghans Cannot Scale a Fence,”

Unbelievable.  The Administration continues to allow illegals to scale the fence at our border yet dragged their feet in approving this one Afghan to legally enter the US.  He fought bravely alongside Army Officer Matt Zeller and saved his life.  MOH recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer joined the drive to petition for his immigration.  Do you see any illegal fighting alongside our military or willing to give their life to save one?

Here is the official news release on FOX.  I hope CNN will publicize this great humanitarian event as much as they did the Trayvon Martin incident.

Thank you, Janis.  Safe journey to the US of A.

What do you think??