Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lunch with Al Scalise

Al and his twin brother Tony went to the same Jr High and the first two years of High School at the same schools I did.  This year we discovered that we lived about an hour from each other.  Since I am on vacation, Al and I decided to hook up for lunch.

We had a great time talking about the "Good Ole Days".  Al told me his favorite "Ed Bear" story.  It wasn't as bad as I feared.  Seems that back in the day, I was willing to take off my shoe and sock and stick my foot up on the glass door so they could sketch my foot.  Al told the story much better than I did.  

I hope we don't wait another 30 years to hook up again.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ed and Dad go to Las Vegas

Each December, I attend the Americas Best Value Inn conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Now that my dad is fully retired, he was able to get away and come with me.

While I was busy during most of the time we were there, we did manage to go out on the first nigth and see Penn and Teller.  They were great.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bears Visit Hawaii

I had to go to Honolulu for a Best Western (BW) conference. Naturally the entire family had to come along to help me. The had accompanied me eight years ago when the BW was last held there. The last time I only had a day and a half to enjoy the island of Oahu, this time I schedule three and a half days.

Upon arriving, we made sure that we had lunch at the word famous Puka Dogs ( I could not believe it. My two daughters and Ceci's boyfriend had mustard or mustard and ketchup. Sheesh.
The Wialana restaurant was next to our hotel, the Aqua Palms situated across the street from the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The restaurant was a great value and had wonderful Mai Tai's for only $3.25. There, Lila had her first Mai Tai, I had one too. I tried a dish called Siamin there. It is a Hawaiian version of chow mein and it had Spam in it. I liked it a lot.

While Lila and I were working, Carmen took Ceci and her boyfriend Jay to swim with the dolphins. They had a great time and I am jealous.

Day after the conference ended we rented a car and drove to Hanauma Bay. Snorkeling there is amazing. All the tropical fish, coral, wildlife. At one point I managed to stay with a sea turtle for about an hour and a half. They are really amazing. After lunch we drove up the east side of Oahu. We finished the day off by visiting our friends in downtown Honolulu. They have a penthouse apartment with a fantastic view of the city. They were such wonderful hosts.

Friday was the Polynesian Cultural Center. They picked us up at 10:15am, and returned us at about 10:30pm. What a place. They have villages to let people learn about the cultures of seven different Polynesian cultures. We chucked spears, fished, made toys, ate coconut bread, learned how to open a coconut, make fire with two sticks, ate fresh poi. Lila took a hula lesson and I tried to learn how to play the Ukulele. Did you know that Ukulele, means jumping fleas? We ended the night with a wonderful Luau and a wonderful show. It was quite a day.

Our final day of fun, started by renting a car again. We went to Pearl Harbor and visited the Arizona memorial. It is a very moving experience. Across the street is the flee market to end all flea markets at the Aloha Stadium. It is all geared toward tourists, which we were.

After that we drove to the North Shore and stopped for shaved ice at Matsumoto's, Shrimp Scampi at the Giovanni shrimp truck and ended the day at the Dole pineapple plantation.

We had a wonderful time, but it sure was good to be home.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

lila's 21st birthday part 2

as you all know her majesty queen lila finally turned 21 this year and had a small quiet little get together at her palace! hahaha! yeah right i partied like it was 1987 i did NOT get drunk okay well maybe a little drunk but i did not get sick.

lila's 21st birthday!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lila Meets Chip Connely of Joie de Vivre

CLIA Industry Awards and Gala Dinner

Chip Connely poses for a picture of his most prized employee, Lila Mary Bear.

Octoberfest 2008 San Francisco

Carmen and I decided to attend the Octoberfest at Fort Mason in San Francisco.  It was great.  I thought about bringing one of my beer steins.  I have a small, but nice collection that I purchased when Carmen and I went to Germany about 15 years ago.  While we were in Bavaria, where Munich is, we did not make it to Munich and since we were there in January, Octoberfest was not going on.  The good part of that is that it was not crowded.  That is probably the closest we have come to a real Octoberfest.  

In 1978, my family moved from Southern California to Pleasant Hill.  That October, my dad brought us to an Octoberfest celebration that was held in Marin county.  It was great, but I was not old enough to enjoy the beer.

In 1977 while in High School, a bunch of us including Eric Schubel went to an Octoberfest celebration in Anaheim.  While we could not enjoy the beer, that was where I first learned to enjoy German food.

This Octoberfest 2008 in San Francisco was wonderful.  People were allowed to bring their steins and you can bet that I will bring one of mine next year.  We got their early and got the second to last free parking spots.  Always a nice feeling.  We enjoyed beer sold by the leiter, knockwurst, roll (brochen), potato salad (kartafel salad) and apple strudel.

It is the 60th anniversay of the Berlin Airlift.  For almost one year, East Germany (with Soviet backing), closed all land routes from West Germany to Berlin.  The Untied States, in one of the great humantarian efforts of all time, flew supplies around the clock until East Germany gave in and opened the land routes.

We enjoyed the booths, food, beer, costumes and especially the live music.  We got their early enough to have great seats.  I can't wait until next year.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Smith Family Re-unites

There was about a five year period where was down. The ISP had been sold, and the new one wanted to charge too much money. Then for about five years, I just kept putting it off. From time to time, I was offered money for the domain by a German music company.

Today, something occurred that was very special. Dr. Bob Bear and Carol Bear contacted me about a relative on my moms side. I should be more specific, she isn't related to my mom by blood, but they grew up together and had even lived with her for a period of time as a foster child. I grew up with her as my Aunt Lee.

A member of her family happened to see some pictures on and emailed Bob and Carol, who forwarded the emails to me. I was not able to follow up on this until this morning when I called my Aunt Lee. Her number had been changed, I called the new number, but she was not in. I left a message and decided to call her son Eddie. I read him the information and he took it from there. Later in the day, Aunt Lee called, to let me know they had contacted this person and they back in touch with each other.

What a feeling of accomplishment. Thanks so much to Bob and Carol.

Happy Birthday Carmen

Carmen turns 27 for the second time. Lila treated us see Gabriel Iglesias at the Punchline in Sacramento. Last time we went, Gabriel was sick, so we were very glad to see him healthy.

Lila had checked on Gabriel's myspace and found out that he had been given so much chocolate cake, that he really doesn't like it anymore and that now he is into cheese cake, so we stopped at Raleys and picked one up on the way and kept it in a little 12 volt fridge that we have.

The show started at 8:30, the doors opened at 7:30 so we got there about 6:45 and were third in line, we managed to get the seats right in the center and against the stage. The seats were amazing. Carmen laughed so hard during the entire show. I placed the cheese cake in front of Lila and during the entire show Gabriel kept looking down at the cheese case and back up at Lila. At the end of the show, Lila handed Gabriel the cheese cake. Gabriel, took the cheese cake, bent down, looked right into Lila's eyes, and said "Thank you".

After the show, we stayed to get a T-Shirt, and autograph and got our picture taken. It was quite a night.

The next day, both Ceci and Lila had to work, so Carmen, her parents and I went up to Marshall. Marshall is a little town, if you can call it that, on Highway 1, about 90 minutes north of where we live. Tony's Seafood is a little restaurant on the side of the road overlooking Tamales Bay. We got there about 20 minutes before it opened so we got the best table overlooking the bay. We had bbq'd oysters, chowder and fish & chips. While I drove back, everyone had a nice nap.

Happy Birthday Carmen1

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ceci Goes to Disneyland

Ceci and her boyfriend Jay flew down to Southern California to visit Disneyland for two days. This is Ceci's first major trip without her parents. Ceci was changing jobs so this was going to be the only weekend they could get away for quite some time. Her original idea was to drive down to Anaheim after Jay got off work at 1:00am. She was convinced to fly down and they stayed at the Hilton. They both had a great time, and no they did not go on the Submarines, the lines were too long.

Carmen Decides Against Surgery

Carmen has been suffering great pain in her feet for some years now. Her doctor had suggested surgery as a possibly remedy. After emailing Dr. Bob Bear the details, Bob suggested that it might take a very long time to recover and the results might not be as good as one would like. Bob said her kind of problem is usually addressed with physical therapy.

Carmen noticed that when she is off from work, that her feet don't hurt nearly as much, but when she does that she can barely get up and down the half flight of stairs from our living room to our bed room. After speaking with the Doctor, he wrote a note that restricted Carmen from spending all day on her feet at work on a cement floor. She has taken a different position at Home Depot and has started physical therapy.

Carmen already feels a difference and we are very grateful to Dr. Bob Bear.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Charter Oak Class of 1978 30th Reunion

(Eric Schubel, Ed Bear and Bill Ralls)

Things have been very busy at work. I have been working on a project to bring our software in compliance with the new credit card regulations. I have had very little time for myself and my family, not to mention that in the month of June, I was home for only one week out of the month.

While I would have liked to have left for the reunion on Thursday and drive to San Luis Obispo in time for the Farmers Market that evening, I had to stay and work a half day on Friday. When I finished working, I picked up Carmen, said goodbye to the kids. We took our time driving down south. We stopped by a roadside fruit stand to buy some fresh cherries.

We continued on to Morro Bay where my brother Bob and his girl friend Reva live. We all went out to dinner at a little restaurant on the water. We dined outside and the weather was perfect. It is amazing how much wild life is out there. Bob says when he goes out in the kayak, he often sees dolphins. We were not quite that lucky, but we did see sea lions, pelicans and the like. The sea food was delicious. After dinner, we went back to their house, where we enjoyed the cherries. After a wonderful visit, we drove a bit further south to Santa Maria and checked into our hotel.

After breakfast the next morning, we continued on our journey. I should mention that we took our Ford Escape hybrid and averaged between 34 and 35 miles per gallon, which is really good considering we have the all wheel drive version of this car which is only rated for 32 miles per gallon. My brother David lives in Van Nuys, so we met him on the way in Woodland Hills. The place Dave choose, was Jerry's Famous Deli. Apparently lots of producers...etc like to eat there. They serve fantastic deli food. Dave is in the movie and tv business and is doing okay. He will be appearing in an episode of Monk, where there is a boxing match. We enjoyed listening to Dave's stories. All too soon, it was time to hit the road again. We still had to drive down to Orange County for the reunion.

We pulled in to the Double Tree near John Wayne Airport and got checked in. The reunion would begin in about two hours. We got settled in, and went to the pool to swim and relaxed a bit. We went back to the room and got ready. Finally it was time to go down stairs. I was having some second thoughts, there were so many people that weren't going to be there such as Mark Mayamura, Carol Grafe, Hal Ryerson, Laura Tamura, Don Marshall, Kim Charles and more.

We went downstairs and I saw Donna Ezecheles. I had gone to school with her all the way from Washington Elementary though Charter Oak. She is such a lovely person. She had recently gotten married and shared her pictures with us. She was proud and we were all very happy for her. I started to relax. We saw Deann Call, who works so hard on putting on our reunions and is always so modest about her efforts. She has a way of making everyone feel so comfortable.

Judy Zieter is a girl that I had gone to school with since first grade. I remembered her because she could run faster than anyone else, including the boys. We had started emailing each other recently and she had decided to attend her first high school reunion ever. There she was, still blond and in great shape. It reminded me that I needed to drop some weight. I will be watching what I eat, writing it down, swimming and going to weight watchers. I introduced her to Carmen and we started chatting about old times. We really enjoyed her company.

Judy and I had been chatting for a while, when Danny Gelespie showed up. Like Judy, Danny had gone to the same elementary school. In fact we had been in cub scouts together and his mother had been our first den mother. He, I, Bill Ralls and others had our meetings in their garage. I retold the story about how his mom had us do a game where we were blindfolded. Then a pair of dish washing rubber gloves where put on us. In this condition we had to put on a nylon stocking. I remember thinking how easy it was going to be, but how hard I found it. It was a great lesson in senses. Danny said that is mom was doing great and had just retired. He promised to pass on our good wishes. One of the things that was so special about Danny showing up is that he did not graduate from Charter Oak. His family had moved to Oklahoma when he was in 9th grade, but he had to come. He grew up with us. He was one of us. It was very special that he came to the reunion.

At this point we were still out on the patio. The reunion had not officially started, but it had started anyway. Across on the other side was a new arrival, he was tall, he looked exactly the same as he had in School, except his hair had a touch of gray. It was Bill Ralls. Bill and I had been close over the years. We had gone to school together from Washington, Sunflower and Charter Oak. His younger brother Mike and my younger brother David had been at school together as well. We had been in Cub Scouts together. Bill always had the best looking car at the Pinewood Derby. We had spent time in each others houses, our parents knew each other. Bill remember how my dad had been Cub Master and my mother had been a den mother. Bill's mom is also retired and both her and his dad are doing well. I should mention that Bill had also been with me on the swim team and water polo team. We had spent a lot of time together. Bill is like a brother.

We moved from the patio into banquet room, but most of us had a hard time sitting down and eating. I looked over and there was Lisa Alberti. I had to say hello. That poor girl had to sit with me so many times over the years. You see, often times the teachers would have us sit in alphabetical order. With names like Alberti and Bear, we often where paired together. I felt sorry. After all, I was a bit of a handful as a kid, but she was kind and said she did not remember it being that bad. She is either kind of forgetful. Either way works for me. Lisa is stunning, tall blond and has a precious little girl. It was great catching up with her.

I finally got to sitting down at the table to eat. Other than Bill Ralls and my wife Carmen, I didn't recognize anyone else. Randy Carpenter introduced himself and his lovely wife. I knew the name, but really didn't know him. He explained that he had been a stoner. I said, so you spent your time across the street at the ... and we both said it at the same time. The "park" and we laughed. Randy had done a lot of booze and drugs, but had cleaned up his life and discovered God. Randy was such a delight. Not pushy about his religion at all, just kind and good natured. I am so glad he sat with us.

Tim Schultz and his wife were also sitting at our table. We had not known each other at Charter Oak, but the connection of being in the same graduating class brought us together, plus he and his wife live in Sacramento; only an hour from where we live. Really the first person we met that lived anywhere near us.

The gentleman sitting next to me said "Hi Ed". I did not know who he was. I did not have my glasses on so I could not read his name badge. I said "and you are....". He answered "Eric Schubel". Oh my gawd, he looked so different. Not bad at all, just different. Eric and I had been close. He moved into our area our freshman year. He was not only on the water polo and swim team with Bill Ralls and myself, but he and I also took four years of German together. You have to understand that during school we would start early in the morning, stretching, running, lifting weights and swimming. Then coach McNeil would give us some day old donuts that were donated by a local donut shop, which we though tasted delicious. First period five days a week was German. We had math together, alegbra, geometry, trig...etc. After school, it was swim workout or water polo. Even during the summer when school was not in, we played in AAU water polo tournaments. After a water polo or swim match our team often would eat together at a restaurant. We had spent a lot of time together. Eric is also like a brother to me and it was so good to see him and Bill Ralls.

There were so many other great people and conversations, Melinda Race, Angela Smith, Carla Anderson who lives about 30 minutes from us in Alameda. Scott Bramlett was another one that had moved and attended high school elsewhere but since he bad been with us since first grade through junior high, he was one of us and he and his new bride were there. Kim Charles and Randy Baumgardner were not able to attend but made entries into our reunion books.

Sony Conn, Louann Debolt, Susie Fliescher where there. Turns out Susie lives in Grants Pass, Oregon. I spent a lot of time there about 10 years ago. It is a small, but very wonderful town and we had a great time chatting about it. Dannette Holland had been a cheerleader. I never knew her, but she had noticed me in high school and was so kind to pass on some very touching words to me. Everyone was so kind, everyone went out of there way to be nice. We all had a special bond, we grew up together.

There were so many others and I can't cover them all. My wife retired to the room at about 11pm. She had chatted the night away with some of the other spouses. The event ended at mid-night, but that did not stop us. We continued outside back on the patio. I went upstairs and brought down the bottle of Cuban rum I had brought with me. We were all like a bunch of high school kids sneaking liquor.

As the evening was winding down, we noticed a couple on the other side of the patio, but none of us knew who they were. Deann Call happened to come over and she knows everyone. I asked her who that guy was. She spun around like a ballerina and said "That is Gary Dahle". She really is the perfect hostess. Oh my God! Gary, was with us from first grade at Washington. It was amazing how many people from Washington where there. It is too bad we forgot to get together to take a group picture. Immediately we headed over to chat with Gary.

Gary was a special guy and he and his wife could not be more charming. In school, Gary had been a bit of a wild kid. Never mean, just wild. Gary was also mentally gifted, which at the time did not make sense to me, except at Washington, they would take him out of class with the other gifted children for special classes. Gary and I both had Mr. Thompson in 6th grade at Sunflower. I remember when someone said that there was no such word as fishes, he corrected them and explained that fishes referred to multiple species of fish. It was the first time I realized this guy really is smart. We enjoyed chatting, joking and laughing. He and his lovely wife are so friendly and interesting. They make a perfect couple.

Just when you thought the evening could not get any better, some of the people had made a run to In and Out, and brought back Double Doubles with Grilled Onions, Fries, Shakes, the works. They would not take any money for it, but brought enough for everyone. What a way to finish of the evening. In and Out started in Southern California. We had all grown up eating our share. It brought back a flood of memories.

Before we knew it, the night was over. It was after 2am and time to go to bed. Even with all that time, there were still people I wanted to chat with, but had not had the chance. Someone had suggested that all of us staying at the hotel get together in the morning for breakfast between 8:00am and 8:30am. It sounded like a good idea and it was, but morning sure did come early.

Just before going to bed, I checked my email. There was a note from Diana Cobos. She had lived for years in New Mexico and moved two years ago to Upland, near where we grew up. The note indicated that her boyfriend had just inherited a house in New Mexico and they were moving back in two weeks. During the two years she had lived in Upland, my schedule never worked out to where I could visit despite all my travel. The one time she had been in the bay area, I had stopped reading my personal email and did not get her email until after she was back home. I sighed and went to bed.

The next morning we all made our way downstairs to the restaurant to have our final meal together. Judy, Susie, Danny .... so many where there. We finished, said our goodbyes. Carmen and I got into the car and headed on out. I placed a phone call to Diana Cobos, but got her voice mail. I told her that by chance I was down in Orange County for the reunion and that if she got the message in the next hour and was free that perhaps we could hook up for lunch. We drove north. Just as we were approaching the point of no return, I called one more time. I got the voice mail. I didn't leave a message, I just hung up determined to finish our trip, knowing that I had missed the opportunity to see her after so many years.

Seconds later, my cell phone rang. It was Diana. We agreed to meet halfway in Glendora where I had grown up. We met at Dennys, had a dessert and chatted for what was way too brief of a time. Carmen and her boyfriend were so great to allow us this time. They must have been bored to death.

I should explain that Diana was a senior when I was a freshman. She was so kind to us boys on the water polo and swim team. She was a lady, a woman no a girl. To us she was like a movie star and yet she liked to hang out with us. She was also so special. She was the first female to letter varsity on the mens swim team. Most important to me, is that she had been a dear friend.

We finished our dessert and it was time to leave way too soon. Carmen and I made our way back to Interstate 5 and drove through the Grape Vine. As soon as we got on the other side, we saw a warning that indicated that I5 was closed in 60 miles. That was not good news. We still don't know why. We guessed that it was because of the fires. We pulled over at the Petro Truck Stop. Got some food and supplies and took 99 N all the way back home. It was a long drive home. Carmen drove for a couple of hours. Once home, it was good to be home. I had to work the next day, but my mind was swimming with all the memories of the reunion and the past.

My first reunion was the 25th. I thought it was fantastic, but it doesn't hold a candle to the 30th. In every way, I felt truly blessed.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers Day

This year both my mom and dad turned 70. I think 70 officially makes you old. I decided to do something special for both of them. For my mom, a trip back to Mass in fall for the turning of the leaves. She is originally from Mass and has family back there, but this is about Fathers Day.

For my dad, his present was a trip to Gettysburg. I was back in Norfolk, VA for a Best Western conference. My company AutoClerk, is endorsed and certified by Best Western to provide Property Management systems for Best Western properties.

I flew out to the Baltimore Airport (BWI) from Norfolk and my dad flew out to Baltimore from Oakland. On the flight to BWI, another passenger noticed my shirt and asked if I was in the hospitality business. I explained what I did and he asked me to contact him. We got to talking about the trip my dad and I were taking and he suggested that we not miss Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor.

I arrive at Baltimore couple of hours before him, so I got the rental car and checked out the route to Fort McHenry. It wasn't very far at all. My dad arrived, I got back to the airport just in time to meet him just about the time he got to the curb. We drove directly to Gettysburg. It was still light when we arrived. We stayed at the Best Western (Big surprise eh?) that was right at the circle in the center of town. The hotel was built in the late 1700's, but was in beautiful condition. After checkin in, we went across the street and ate at the Lincoln diner. My wife Carmen, my daugther Ceci and I had visted Gettysburg a couple of years back. We had dined at the Lincoln diner with Yuri, his wife CG and daughter Liliana. The food is home cooked, honey dipped fried chicken, blue berry pie and more.

The next morning, we ate at the Lincoln Diner again. Breakfast was fantastic. We walked by the railstation that Lincoln arrived, stopped by the souvenir shop, got some T-shirts. I got a mug for my dad for Fathers day, which is usually the same day as his birthday or very close. Must have separate presents for each. We headed up to the Gettysburg Battlefield, hired a private tour guide. He drove our car, answered all our questions. The tour was tailored just for us. It was so interesting. Seeing all those monuments, seeing the terrain and realizing how those Americans on both sides died right there.

After we finished our tour, we watched a film at the visitor center on Gettysburg, had lunch again at the Lincoln diner and hit the road to Paradise, which is just outside of Lancaster. Home of the Amish. We checked into the hotel, another Best Western (see a pattern forming?). The hotel was really nice. We checked with the front desk and headed for a restaurant with Amish cooking, where they make things from scratch. I don't think we say even one chain restaurant in that small town. About a mile way was just what we were looking for. It was in a town called "Bird in Hand". You got to love these names. We ate a wonderful dinner and tried Shoofly-pie. It wasn't great, maybe it they didn't do a great job on that, but at least we can say we have tried it.

The next morning we got in the car, after an incredible breakfast at the same restaurant from the nigth before and made our way for Philadelphia. After parking, we got our tickets for Independence Hall. There is no cost, but you need to have tickets. We got more T-shirts. Dad got one that I picked out, a tie-dye for Becky. We headed on over to the Liberty Bell. We were able to get right next to it. See all its imperfections, miss-spellings and all. It is still inspiring.

We still had plenty of time before our tour of Independence Hall, so we headed over to the City Tavern. This is where the founding fathers retired after a long day of debating at Independence Hall. Turns out that the place is pretty much the same as it was back them. Dad had a Cider and I had an Ale made from Thomas Jefferson's recipe. It was very cool. You could imagine them hanging out there, chatting, joking, drinking and debating. We wondered how much of the real work got done here.

One the way back, we stopped at the City Hall. What is so special is that it was the original court for the US Supreme Court. The history was fascinating and the tour guide provided the tour for free.

Finally, we get to Independence Hall. The tour guide was fantastic. Besides the Declaration of Independence, he asked what other famous document was signed there. My dad and I both knew it was the Articles of Confederation. A little boy asked dad how he knew that? Dad answered, "Cause I was there". The boy asked "Really?". It was so funny.

Now it was time for the most important part of our Philadelphia trip. We went to the birthplace of the Philly Cheese steak, Pats King of Steaks. It has been open for over 70 years and right across the street is Gino's. There is a big competition over who is better, so we split a sandwich from each. We could not decide. They were both great. I did make a mistake. At Gino's, I ordered the sandwich with Provolone, instead of cheese whiz. I know, you are thinking cheese whiz? Yep, and it is better for a Philly cheese steak than provolone. So I guess we will have to go back and try it again until we get it right.

We made our way back to Paradise. Had dinner at the same great restaurant. The next morning, we got up and ate at a different Amish restaurant. We had scrapple, fried mush and other great things that we had never had before. The food was amazing. We hired an Amish gentleman to take us for a tour of the Amish country in one of their buggies. We was 81 years old and had to retire from being a farmer. He still wished he was a farmer. He was in amazing shape. We rode by more than one farm owned by a Bear (spelled in all sorts of ways). Once we were done, we were treated to a home made cookie. Oh my.

We checked out of the hotel, and headed towards the airport, but not via the freeway. We drove all the way across Pennsylvania and Maryland on small roads. It was a great way to explore and see these states. Once in Baltimore, we went to Fort McHenry. We explored the gun emplacements, the bomb shelters, everything. We went into the visitors center. They had a film that told the story of the War of 1812 from the point of view of the prisoner that Francis Scott Key was negotiating the release of. It really wasn't a matter of us surviving the night. Keep in mind that we did not do all that well in the War of 1812. We lost part of Maine to Canada. The British sacked Washington and burned the White House to the ground, but in Baltimore it was different.

At that time, the British navy was the most powerful navy in the world. The citizens of Baltimore had pooled there money together to hire a military engineer to design and build Fort McHenry. The British navy tried to get past the Fort, but we blew them out of the water and yes we did have a few losses. Very few compared to the losses we imposed on the British. They were forced to pull back. Since their guns were more powerful than ours, they were able to pull back far enough that our cannons could not reach them, but they could shell the fort, but our fort was bomb proof. That is right, it was bomb proof. Sure, today you can't make anything bomb proof, but in those days you could. So in the morning, when Francis Scott Key saw that the flag was still waving over Fort McHenry, it wasn't by the skin of our teeth. The British gave up, cause they had no chance.

When the presentation was over, the drapes on our right side opened up. The view was the hill in the center of Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner waving in the breeze. It was a stirring moment.

We got back in the car, and in fifteen minutes we were at the airport. We had returned the rental car and were past security in the airport. We hadn't eaten in a while and they had a famous name restaurant that just happed to serve crab cakes. Maryland crab cakes. It is really a must to each crab cakes when in Maryland. They were huge and they were delicious.

At 5:00pm, we got on the plane for a direct flight back to Oakland. We did all of that in two and a half days and we both lost weight that week.

Ceci Graduates from High School

In January, Ceci turned 18. In June, Ceci graduated from De Anza High School located in El Sobrante, California. The entire family was there, and Ceci wore a lei that we got for her. After the cerimony, we all headed over to Red Lobster in Vallejo. Grandma and Grandpa both had lobster and had to have the server crack it for them. They are old you know!

Dr. Robert Bear and Cindy Visit the West Coast Bears

While out on the west coast, Bob and Cindy Bear of Rye Beach, New Hampshire visited us here in El Sobrante on Friday in May for brunch.

Ed baked some home made scones and smoked a Boston Butt (Pork Shoulder) for about 12 hours, using Hickory, so that we could have pulled pork, Carmen did the rest of the cooking. Despite the fact that Ed did some of cooking, no one got sick. We decided it was okay to take a chance since both Bob and Cindy are doctors.

All of the west coast cousins attended, Puzz and Joyce, Don and Marion, Jim and Laura. It was so good to see them and have them in our house. The time flew by way too quickly and before you knew it, it was time for them to go. We hope that other Bears will visit us in the future. We sure have fond memories of their visit and hope they did too.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

and part 3 of fiel baptism

part 2 of fiel baptism

Jase Fiel's Baptism

One of my very best friends has a baby boy Jase. He was baptized today and here are some pics!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Our House Gets Re-piped

Our house was built in the 1940's and I believe we that until today, we had the original pipes and they were galvanized. We have had problems with the shower heads and faucets getting clogged with chunks of rust. The water pressure was so bad in the house the ice maker in the refrigerator would not work properly. We also had the problem with being scalded in the shower when someone ran the water or started the washer.

Today we had the house re-piped with copper. We had a shut off valve installed right at the front of the house that way we don't have to go to the street to shut off the water. We installed a brand new 50 gallon water heater. It comes fully insulated and expected to save us more than $350.00 per year in energy. Our old water heater only held 40 gallons and was rusted out. I got a larger one, cause there are times where we would run out of hot water. With six people, including two daughters ages 18 and 20, running out of hot water wasn't a hard thing to do. Another improvement is that the water heater is strapped to the house in case of earthquake.

We now have shut off valves all over the house. We installed non-scalding technology and brand new shower heads in both bathrooms.

Tomorrow the inspector is coming to approve the work and on Tuesday, they will patch the holes needed to replace the piping.

I am so happy, I could spit!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ceci has the Chicken Pox

Ceci at age 18 has the Chicken Pox. While not happy about, she is toughing it out. She is expected to be out of school and work for another week.

Ceci did have Chicken Pox as a child, but apparently her case was not sever enough to avoid getting them again. Seems like about this time last year, Lila had them.


Easter on the West Coast was at Uncle Puzz's place in Sacramento. It was the first time in some years, that all three brothers (Puzz, Don and Jim) all got together. From Uncle Puzz and Aunt Joyce, all four kids were there (Christine, Hank, Mary and Carol), Puzz's granddaughter Jennifer was there as well as her son Anthony. From Uncle Don and Aunt Marion we had Bonnie, Nancy her husband Mark and their beautiful German Sheppard. From Jim and Laura, Ed, Carmen, Ceci, Susan, Jake, Bob, and Becky were all there.

We all had a very nice time.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Great Aunt Ruth Passes Away

Great Aunt Ruth, passed away at the age of 98.5 in Rye Beach New Hampshire. She fell asleep and passed away. I flew back east. Someone had to represent the family from the West Coast. Her nephews Charles (Puzz), Donald and Jim all wanted to attend, but could not. Aunt Ruth was a special lady, she was one of our last links to the past.

When I arrived in Manchester, Andrew Bear picked me up and drove me to Dr. Bob Bear's house. I was thinking we would go straight to the hotel, that Bob had been so generous to arrange. I was sure that it would be too late and everyone would be asleep, but no. They were all at Bob and Cyndi's house. It was great to see so much family. We spent the evening looking through photo albums and swapping stories. We all looked at a picture of Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bob's wedding. There was a young boy in the picture. We speculated that it might be my Uncle Puzz, but we weren't sure.

The next morning we all met for breakfast. A number of us went to the funeral home for a viewing and say goodbye to Aunt Ruth. Next we all proceeded to the church for the memorial service. There were flowers. One bouquet was from my Uncle Puzz. There was a note attached. "...from a grateful nephew that was at your wedding". It was him in the picture.

Three of the grand children read passages from the Bible. Gus gave a wonderful eulogy. Next we took turns sharing a favorite moment. Here is mine:

My daughters Lila, Ceci and myself were visiting Nancy at her house. Aunt Ruth was staying with her. Nancy brought out a recipe for orange cookies written by the hand of her grandmother Sarah Bear. Nancy, Lila and Ceci proceeded to make those cookies. It was the coming together of five generations. Sarah with her recipe, Ruth, Nancy, myself and Lila and Ceci. It was very special. The girls even squeezed oranges by hand to make the cookies.

It was a beautiful day. We enjoyed the cookies outside. Nancy asked her mom "Well mom, what do you think? Are they like Grandma Sarah used to make?". Aunt Ruth thought for a moment. She nodded and said "They are good. Very good. Just like hers, .... but hers were better."

I fished by reminding the family that when George Burns passed away, the headlines said "Burns and Allen back together again" and now it was "Bob and Ruth" back together again.

I learned more about Aunt Ruth during her memorial service than I knew in my 47 years on this earth. In 98.5 years, you can touch a lot of people in many special ways. She surely did that.

At the burial, six of her grandchildren were her pallbearers. We said our final goodbyes as a lady sang "Somewhere My Love", the song that Uncle Bob always hummed to Aunt Ruth.

After we returned to Bob's house. There he made roast beef sandwiches on these special rolls and cream beer from Buffalo NY. We looked at pictures and now we knew that was Uncle Puzz in the wedding picture. We told stories till it was time to call it a night. We said out goodbyes and retired back to the hotel.

I'm so grateful that I could attend and Aunt Ruth had an important part to play in that. She along with my Grandmother Mary Bear and Great Aunt Louise kept in touch over the years. They would pass news back and forth about how the family was doing. They visited each other over the years. We were always hearing about Aunt Ruth, Uncle Bob and their families. If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have had a reunion a few years ago. Our families would have drifted apart and become two. It did not.

Bob was amazing. He took such good care of everyone. He made all the arrangements. His family opened their home and their hearts. Thank you Bob, Cyndi and Andrew.

Ceci Turns 18

Sunday January 27th, a day that will live in infamy, Ceci Bear turned 18. I suddenly realized that all of our children were adults. I felt 70.

It was a quiet day. Ceci didn't want a party. In the morning the family went to Dim Sum with her boy friend Jay. That evening Carmen and myself took Ceci and Jay to Ceci's favorite Vietnamese restaurant.

My daughter grew up so fast.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Grandmas Birthday

Saturday January 26th, we celebrated Grandma's (Laura) 70th birthday, which was (January 23rd). Bob had to work the weekend, so he came up during the week and spent the day with Grandma on her actual birthday, which was nice.

Dave was not able to attend due to a new film he is working on with Ultimate fighters.

Charlie and Teresa were not able to attend as they had caught the flu that had been going around. Despite all that, there were plenty of people including six friends of grandma that we met for the first time. There would have been a seventh, but one was also out sick with the flu.

Ed proposed a toast and mentioned that now grandma is 70, she is officially old. It was pointed out that grandma has been using the "I'm old excuse" since she was in her 30's, grandpa confirmed that she had used this excuse in her 20's and there are rumors in Mass, were she grew up that this excuse was first use when she was in the third grade.

Everyone had a great time. There were a number of presents including a trip back east to see the leaves turn and visit friends and family. It was grandma's day. Happy birthday! I can't wait till we do this again in 70 years.