Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back to the Lion City

Return from Homeland Idaho
After a four week visit to homeland Idaho, we have returned to the tropics and the Lion City.  Although it may have seemed like an eternity for our house hosts (And they were gone some 15 days of our visit.  Thanks Keith and Candy for putting us up!) the four weeks we were there went by remarkably quickly.  Of course we did not get to see and visit with everyone we would have liked to have while there.  However our purpose in returning was to visit Ron (See Global Warming?? ), and help Barbara as she copes with Ron's condition.  Our apology to those of you we missed and were unable to connect with while in town.  Ron is doing as well as can be expected-- actually putting on a little weight in recent days.  We were so thankful to be able to make this trip and visit for the extended length of time.  We owe HP management our gratitude for making it happen.  As the family deals with Ron's illness, we must remind ourselves to think of and celebrate Ron's life, personality, and past accomplishments, and not dwell on the sadness of the inevitable outcome.  Returning to Singapore was difficult knowing that time is limited.
Difficult times can sometimes bring good events--  Susan made the journey from McMurdo Station, Antarctica for a short ten day trip (four of these days spent traveling over 10,000 miles each way) to visit her grandfather.  She has returned to the Harsh Continent, and will be at McMurdo for the duration of its coming winter, ending in October.  Elaine's brothers Robert and John had shorter travel, from Bend, Oregon and Long Beach, California, respectively, but no less significant.  We have not seen either for two years.

Ron with some of the family visitors

Home Cooking
Another benefit of bringing the family together is the chance for an epic home cooked meal.   We actually had several of these during our visit, with Barbara and Elaine demonstrating their ample cooking skills.  We also had a group project dinner one night of pelmeny, the Russian tradition in my family.  This project requires everyone to participate in their construction.  "No ticket, no wash".  Christmas season is never the same without a pelmeny meal.
One of the perks of having a professional chef in the family are the "volunteer" meals.  These are meals where we "volunteer" Nate to cook them.  He is always good spirited about it, and complies willingly.  Here's a pork chop dinner that Nate pulled together one evening for us visitors.

Boise State Rules!
One of the side benefits of being in town over the December/January holidays was being able to watch the plethora of college football bowl games.  Although viewing college football is  possible  in Singapore via cable TV, it is not available to us.  As season ticket holders, and Elaine an alumnus, of course we were excited to see Boise State play in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, and take on TCU.  We were not disappointed--  it was a hard fought game, with BSU victorious (again) through daring and smart, well executed play.  A crowd pleasing performance.
With a Vandal alum in the family we also were excited to see University of Idaho come out on top in the Humanitarian Bowl.  An incredibly exciting game, with the Vandals reversing their losing status in the last seconds of the game to win.  It was nice to see the Vandals enjoy a winning season this year.
Perhaps I am biased but I thought these were two of the best bowl games of the many bowl games.  (Too many).  BSU still can't find respect-- it was ranked number four among the college teams in the final polls, yet was one of only two undefeated teams in the season.  Politics and big money schools still run the show.
If you are wondering, UC Davis had (another) "building" year this year, but is hopeful to play 1A next year.  Oh yes,  have I ever mentioned that the UC Davis football program has been the source for many of the current great coaches?  Coach "Pete" Peterson (BSU), Patterson (TCU), and Dan Hawkins (Colorado, formerly BSU) all have links back to UCD.  I did mention it?  Go Aggies! 

Idaho State House
The Idaho State  Capitol, first completed in 1913, has been closed for renovation and expansion for the past two years. On January 9 it reopened (on budget, and one day ahead of schedule!), with two new subterranean office wings and a fresh (restored) look. The state house was open for tours, and we stopped in to check it out. Here are a few pictures.

Idaho's refurbished capital.  The changes are not readily apparent from the outside.

The dome, viewed from the basement

Idaho senate chambers from the gallery

State seal on the basement floor

Holiday Lights
One of the sights in Boise to take in during the holiday is a house located on Quail Ridge.  The owner is an electrical contractor, who is apparently a little crazy.  Each year he decorates nearly every square foot of his property--  front, back, the roof, and even the driveway with thousands of lights and Christmas kitche.  Among the many decor are animated elves, reindeer, and soft Christmas music coming from the driveway.  A large lighted angel is displayed on the hill behind the house, and is visible from across the valley.  A long string of autos parade up the hill and past the house each evening during the season to view the spectacle.  (In past years, a helicopter tour viewed the display and other lights in the city, until irate neighbors put a stop to it.)  The power bill for this extravaganza must be enormous.
This year the neighbors have apparently given up presenting resistance to the nusance , and are joining the frivolity--  in a simple manner.  Here's the light display on the house directly next door:

I like this man's thinking-- although it still requires ladders and going on the roof.  Bad things happen on ladders.

A small portion of the crazy holiday light display (a section of the front yard)

Breakfast At Tiffany's
OK, not Tiffany's, but Facacia's, a favorite spot of ours near our house.  We met the Valasek clan for a nice breakfast.

The food's all gone-- it must be time for lunch

Mr "V"
L.C. The Cat
A family member that was not able to make the move to Singapore is our cat Elsie (L.C.).  We thought that the trauma of the travel and the lengthy quarantine period necessary for her emigration to Singapore (not to mention any issues finding landlords agreeable to pets) would be more than we wanted to subject her with.  Thankfully our friend Amelia volunteered to provide housing for L.C. during our expatriation, where she has resided since early October, sharing the residence with Amelia's cat Albert.  Poor Albert.
Although L.C. has adapted well to her new residence, she apparently suffers some type of PTSD from our rejection.  Although normally a friendly, social feline, on two visits she has gotten a good sniff (first visit me, the second visit Elaine) of us and gone into hiding.  Either she  prefers her current housing arrangement more than with us (and is afraid of leaving), or we have damaged her psyche with the uprooting.  Will we be forgiven?  Stability in the home is apparently important for everyone.

LC dealing with PTSD

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