pen rainbow

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday—Life Is Complicated Day #2: The Longest Day

A daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

My Dad's Most Beloved Toys

The Longest Day
Today we walked into the house where my dad lived and died.  A big day.  Very strange, but mechanical.

Would the house alarm trip?
Was my passcode information correct and up-to-date?
How would the house look after the police and the coroner had been there?
How did they leave the bedroom where my dad died?
What dog mess would we have to clean up?
Would anything be missing?
Who would come to our door that day?

It went better than we imagined because we were both prepared for the worst.  My sister tripped the alarm on the back door, and my passcode info didn't work.  I had the correct info, but couldn't disarm the alarm, so the alarm company finally called, and we sorted it out.  The alarm screamed at us for 10 minutes straight.

His room...I can only describe it as peaceful.  My dad was an extremely organized guy, but he had mellowed as he grew older, and the house had an orderly, but relaxed feel.  We felt oddly comfortable because everything was so familiar, but a little like we shouldn't be in his room snooping.  As we plowed through his most important papers, it was comforting to know that we were doing what he wanted us to do.  It was our responsibility to be there.

We got a good start in the morning, but lost the rest of the day and left after dark to make time for one of his best friends who had been checking on the house for us.  He needed to talk, share his grief, and reminisce.  He met my dad through mutual friends who were part of their dirt bike racing club.  My dad taught him to ride a dirt bike through the desert.  We laughed and shared sparks of recognition in his best friend that reminded us so much of our dad.  And, he seemed relieved and comforted to see aspects of my dad's personality in us.

A concerned next door neighbor showed up, as well.  We talked to him at the front door and gathered information about my dad's last day.  He was probably the last person to see my dad alive.  My mellowed-out dad got along with his 30-something year old, gearhead neighbors.  He would have seen himself in them as a young Hell-raiser who worked hard and played hard.  I can see why they got along.  The brothers will miss the ease of living next door to my dad.

At the end of the day, my sister and I are still trying to grock the fact that my dad had such an amazing group of friends.  He wasn't a social butterfly, but he was charismatic, and it was his genuine fearlessness, loyalty, and joie de vie that made him such an interesting person.

He truly had great friends.  What a good way to end up.

Good job, Dad

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday—Life Is Complicated Day #1: Getting There

A daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

My dad holding his first grandchild

Getting There
Yesterday, I was roasting a turkey, making stuffing, and setting a Thanksgiving table.  Today, I am on a plane headed for my dad's house in Las Vegas to settle his affairs.  My sister, the only other next of kin, is flying in to meet me at the airport, and we will have tonight to collect our thoughts, make plans for the week, and relax.  It will be the only day for the next week that we will have that opportunity.

Every day will be a challenge, and I will post pix of our progress.  Each day, the pieces of his life will be methodically uncovered, analyzed, categorized, and processed.  Each day, we will plow through a mountain of physical and emotional work in a Herculean effort to organize what he left behind.

My dad did the right thing.  For a man who made mistakes and never looked back to apologize or make amends, he managed to make it all right in the end.  I have to say, the old man really came through.  And, what gifts he gave us...First, he secured a "pre-need" contract with a local funeral home.  That's what mortuaries call pre-planning for funeral expenses, cremation, and/or burial.  My dad paid for a bereavement package ahead of time, and even though I had expressed my gratitude to him, I had no idea what an invaluable gesture that would become.

He also set up a trust.  I worked closely with him on that, but only after he made all of the arrangements with a trust attorney.  Without this legal authority, my sister and I would be vulnerable to the unsolicited advice of well-meaning friends and to the histrionics of step-relatives who think that they are entitled to have a say in his affairs.  With the authority of the trust, we have the legal backbone to carry out his last wishes exactly as he directed.

And, that is precisely what we are going to do over the next seven days.  Every day will be fluid, but focused.  We are following a critical path of actions and decisions that will lead to the conclusion of every single aspect of his life.  We are stepping into our dad's world for a week to bring closure to his daily existence.  He started our lives, and we are finishing his.

It's a huge job, but he chose to leave it in our hands.  He did the heavy lifting in order to take some of the burden off of us.

Thanks, Dad

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Special: Remembering My Dad

Gonna Miss Ya...

Rey Jones
February 19, 1935 - November 24, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday—The Singing Crickets Corner

The reason why chirping crickets are so soothing...

Cricket Music_a poem by dsmp

When musician, Jim Wilson, sat down to experiment with the sound of crickets singing in his backyard, he discovered something wonderful.  At a much slower speed, the chorus of crickets sounds like a tabernacle choir.

What you are hearing is two tracks, the original recording played at normal speed, and the slowed down version of the same track in which the crickets sound like a heavenly chorus of angels.  From the soundcloud website, acornavi, by Ivan Roca... 

If you have problems hearing the recording, double-click on the acornavi icon & go directly to the website.

Click HERE for a truly fascinating blog post from Starts With A Bang written by theoretical astrophysicist, Ethan Siegel (who completed his PhD at the University of Florida), explaining the science behind what you are hearing.

It's super cool stuff, and as a linguist who has always been interested in animal languages, this really floats my boat!  Birds, whales, and as it turns out crickets are truly making beautiful music.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday—Holiday TV Guide 2013

It's still fun to watch the holiday season specials on TV!

Nestor Claus

Kick off the very first Christmas special on Tuesday, November 26 with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on CBS at 8 p.m.
Click HERE for the full list of holiday specials.

On Thanksgiving, check out the Lady Gaga & The Muppets' Holiday Spectacular at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.

Let the holiday TV season begin!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday—The Photoshop CC Gallery: AM Fall Festival

It's Pirates of the Caribbean Week at our dance studio this week!

We've been participating in the Arthur Murray Fall Festival, and this year's theme is Disney!  We are Dizfanatics, so this 6-week festival has been a blast.

Each week, it's a different Disney theme:

Week 1:  Toontown_We were old school Mouseketeers

Week 2:  Tomorrowland_We wore Monster U. teeshirts

Week 3:  Fantasyland_Steve was in BC for his dad's birthday, but I went as Cinderella's fairy godmother.  2 Cinderellas are behind those hearts...

2 Cinderellas & Fairy Godmother

Week 4:  Frontierland_Vintage Western shirts & a chili cook-off_Yeehaw!

Cowboy Steve

Cowgirl DSMP

Week 5:  Pirates of the Caribbean_Arrgh, we be PIRATES this week!

Week 6:  Alice in Wonderland Holiday Ball_December 8

Pirate pix coming up this week before Thanksgiving, 
so stay tuned, Mouseketeers!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Mini-Post: Pig Drumming 101

For drumming on your pig...

A funny for You!  

Thank YOU, Mary!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday—Good For You, Good For the Home: Pirate-y Eggs & Bacon

A fun Christmas gift for around $10 + $2 shipping

This is the perfect way to start Talk Like A Pirate Day (which is always on September 19th)...or to use whenever you're feeling pirate-y!

Fun in the kitchen
Where to Purchase It
From Fred & Friends available on Amazon (my favorite way to buy stuff online).  If you want to add to your present, give them a gift card from their favorite grocery store to cover the cost of a dozen eggs and a package of bacon.

Click HERE to order $25 & $50 gift cards from Whole Foods on Amazon.  

4-Star Review
According to someone who purchased this item & reviewed it on Amazon, the cooking pan must be flat, and the silicone mold needs to be sprayed with PAM & preheated to get the best results.  Also, if you reuse the same pan, it needs to be cleaned to prevent sticking the second time around.  It's dishwasher safe, so rinse it off & toss it into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.

I would have loved using a cute gadget like this when my kids were in school!  Great for the grandkids, too (if you have them).  

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday's Cupboard—Thanksgiving Essentials 2013

Getting back to basics with an excellent menu from the NYT

Thanksgiving 2012

It's everything you'll need for a fab Thanksgiving dinner!

Click HERE for a superb interactive Thanksgiving menu from New York Times food & dining writers, (the elegant) Julia Moskin & (the darn cute) Melissa Clark.

The Basics
They start with the basic categories of every Thanksgiving meal.  

•  Simple Roast Turkey
•  Stuffing
•  Gravy
•  Cranberry Sauce
•  Potatoes
•  Orange Veggies
•  Green Veggies
•  Pie

At our house, appetizers & a garnish tray brimming with home-canned treats & deli specialties are essentials, so feel free to add in your own traditional favorites.

Favorite finger foods

Julia & Melissa provide us with traditional favorites, plus a couple of alternatives in each category.  Even if you already have your menu planned, the videos (about 1:30 each) are worth a watch.  Oh man...they will inspire and make you hungry all at the same time!

Their dry rub for the turkey looks wonderful, and I think I will try dry brining the turkey this year.  I like to change up the turkey every year.  I also like an unstuffed turkey, so I'll make dressing on the side this year.  

Toasted sourdough bread for the stuffing
It's Mark Bittman's Make-Ahead Gravy for me this year!  Yay, I hate making gravy at the last minute.

My choice:  Their recipe for Mashed Potato Casserole with Sour Cream & Chives.  Hell yeah, make it up to 3 days ahead!

Cranberry Sauce
It's our favorite cran-sauce:  Steve's Maple-Cranberry Sauce

Steve's Maple Cranberries & Golden Raisins

Look for this recipe and our favorite Deer Valley Pecan Pie in next week's Tuesday's Cupboard post.

Their Two-Way Stuffing with Mushrooms & Bacon looks pretty darn tasty!  Steve & Zak will love the bacon & fresh mushrooms.  Again, this is a side dish, so it does not have to be stuffed, but you could roast it in the bird if you wanted.

Orange Veggies  
Their Roasted Butternut Squash & Red Onion casserole looks fabulous!  That's going on my menu, for sure.  I'll use pine nuts instead of green pistachios.  

Green Veggies
I am totally doing their Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Zest!  Instead of hand slicing the Brussel Sprouts, I may foop them (chopped in the food processor).

Steamed fresh green beans, Meyer lemon zest & red peppers
with toasted sesame seeds

I liked their chocolate pecan pie, but I am leaning toward our traditional Deer Valley Pecan Pie with Cinnamon Whipped Cream.

My 2012 pumpkin pie

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday—The Library Corner

A Library: A World History by James P. Campbell

Twin lion statues in front of the NY Public Library_1948
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons_via National Archives

For the Love of Libraries
For those of us who spent our childhoods quietly wandering through the numbered stacks of a big city library in pursuit of not just one book, but as many as we were allowed to check out, libraries represent all that is good about humanity.

The depth of human knowledge and the full spectrum of the human experience sits on alphabetized shelves waiting to be extricated, opened, and absorbed by curious minds.  Libraries were created to preserve our collective wisdom and to free our collective spirit.  The world's most beautiful architecture rose up to protect and preserve the collections of kings, philosophers, scientists, and monks.

James WP Campbell, fellow in architecture and history of art at Queen's College, Cambridge, and  photographer, Will Pryce, traveled to 20 countries to document 82 magnificent libraries.  From the State Library of Berlin, which houses the world's largest collection of Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's manuscripts, to the colossal New York Public Library reading room, it is a journey through time, architectural expression, and intellectual expansion.

Put it on your wish list, bibliophiles!

Click HERE to purchase it on Amazon Prime for $47.73

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday—Celebrating A Birthday!

Cool cat & all-around nice dad_Jim Nelson_is 87!    

Happy Birthday from Walnut Creek!  

✽     ✽     ✽     ✽     ✽  

from Nestor

from Tiggy

We love you!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday—The Creative Cloud Gallery: Bighorn

Original photo by Steve Nelson_17 November 2013

Post-processing in Photoshop (CC) & Lightroom5 by dsmp

Texture_kk 2710 by Kim Klassen

View of Lake Mead & Fortification Hill from Bighorn Sheep Park_Boulder City, Nevada

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Mini-Post: First 100 Days Panda Twins

:::::  Awwwwww!  :::::

Watch this awesome time-lapse vid (2:48) of Mei Lun & Mei Huan, baby boy pandas born at Zoo Atlanta on July 15, 2013.  It'll melt your heart, and you'll have to watch it more than once!  Lun Lun is their mom.

Happy 100-Day birthday, little panda cubbies!

Click HERE to check in with the panda cam

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday—Good For You, Good for The Home: 100 Days

100 days of purposeful living

Making positive change happen!

I've written about 100-day planning before, but I wanted to follow up with some of the inspirational stories from individuals who are participating in the giveit100 project.

Click HERE to scroll through the individual videos.

100 days from today (November 15, 2013) will be...Sunday, February 23, 2014.

Click HERE for a handy date calculator from

It's Time To Think Up Your Own Project!
What can you do for 100 days?  I invite everyone to scan through the giveit100 videos & come up with a 100-Day goal of your own.  It does not have to be anything monumental, but it can be.

It can be something as silly and fun as making a different noise each day with your body parts (click HERE for Zack's story) or something as immediate as helping hurricane & storm victims (click HERE for David's story).

More ideas...

•  Show gratitude every day for 100 days
•  Do a home organization project every day for 100 days
•  Switch to non-sugary drinks for 100 days
•  Use an electric toothbrush for 100 days
•  Learn a new word every day for 100 days
•  Help the homeless for 100 days
•  Learn to play a new instrument for 100 days
•  Work on that unfinished book for 100 days
•  Do yoga for 100 days
•  Work on a home repair project every day for 100 days
•  Learn a new language
•  Learn to knit or crochet
•  Take a new photo every day for 100 days
•  Do something nice for animals every day for 100 days
•  Blog every day for 100 days

What's my 100-Day Project?
This is an easy one.  I'm going to reorganize my sewing room and revive my craft biz.  Can't wait to get started!

It's time to commit.

100 days of positive change.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday's Cupboard—Tortellini Salad

A big, hearty pasta salad with bright colors & robust flavors!

Serve this fantastic salad over greens with warm crusty bread

This is one of my go-to make ahead recipes for potlucks.  It's low-cal (264 calories for a 1-1/2 c. serving), full of heart-healthy veggies, and it's even better as leftovers.  This makes a fantastic brown bag lunch!

Serves 8 

Original recipe from Weight Watchers, In One Pot © 2003.

Colorful & nutritious

Tortellini Salad


1 - 1 pound package of fresh tortellini from the refrigerated case

1 - 15.5 ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed & drained

1 - 14 ounce can of artichoke hearts in water

4 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped coarsely

1 small head of radicchio, chopped

2 medium bell peppers, red & yellow or green & red, any color combo

1 bunch of green onions, cleaned & chopped

2/3 cup bottled Italian dressing (I like Newman's Own Family Style)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

kosher salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp) & freshly ground black pepper


1.  Cook the tortellini according to package directions.  Rinse & drain under cold water.  Let cool.

2.  Meanwhile, combine the beans, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, radicchio, bell peppers, green onions 
& dressing.

3.  Add the tortellini, dump the Parmesan on top & combine.  Season with kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste.

4.  Serve over fresh mixed greens ~ delicious!  


Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday—Veteran's Day 2013: Korea 1952

Pix of my dad_Korea 1952_United States Air Force

He was an in-flight refueling specialist
My dad served 2 tours in Korea.  He enlisted when he was 17 years old and got out when he was 21.  Here are some of my favorite pix from his collection.  They look like they were taken with a Japanese Fujifilm still camera.

Ray Jones_third from the left back row

Tea with a Korean family
Is someone playing an instrument behind the mother?

With a darling little girl

Shopping in town

Letter from home

Looking GQ sharp!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday—Have a Handy Week!

Taking on a home improvement job every week!

Fix the Deck

Start with a good instructional video.  This 18-minute you tube inspired our DIY deck project.  Thanx, backyardmech!

Assemble your tools...

A good drill is an essential item in deck repair

Saws, drills, work gloves, safety glasses, deck screws, wood putty, a tape measure & a pencil

Remove the old screws & nails

25 years of dry rot

Out with the old rotten board...

...In with a new, sturdy redwood plank!
Great job, HandyMan Steve!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday Mini-Post: BatDad Strikes Again!

Holy Honda Odyssey, BatDad!  

From Blake Wilson, fearless father of four and husband to Jen...

Click HERE for more vids from BatDad.  

Thanx to Laughing Squid for the links!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday—Good For You, Good for Your Suitcase

Clever packing tips for your suitcase from DaveHax, Efficiency Engineer at Holiday Inn Express

Neat ideas for travelers!

1.  Portable Hanging Shelves — Use collapsible closet compartments to separate and neatly organize clothing items.

2.  Use the under-2-minutes shirt folding technique — Check out Dave's you tube on how to fold shirts in under 2 minutes.

3.  Tuck belts into the collar of business shirts — This keeps collars from being squished after the suitcase is closed.

4.  Use cling wrap under screw top lids to seal plastic bottles — This provides an extra layer of protection from spilled liquids.

5.  Use an alligator clip to cover exposed razor blades — A handy alternative if you lose the plastic cover from a disposable razor.

6.  Use an alligator clip to wrap cables for small electronics — Store loose cables in an old glasses case for easy retrieval.

7.  Use the television USB plug-in if you forget your recharger — Make sure that the TV is on!

8.  Amplify small device music by placing it in an empty cup — This is handy if you want to leave your device plugged into the charger.

9.  Pack suit jackets inside out & fold them in half, then in quarters —This helps to prevent wrinkling.

10.  Use a business card as a suitcase ID tag — A professional & safe way to leave contact info.

11.  My tip:  Don't travel with expensive luggage!  It is a known fact that thieves target expensive luggage, assuming that expensive bags contain valuable cargo.  

Watch the 1:29 minute you tube below

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday's Cupboard—Comfort Veggies

My favorite way to prepare delicious roasted veggies!

Top with shredded or grated Parmesan_DELISH!

Original recipe from a Weight Watchers leader who ran her own catering biz!

Serves 6 - 8

Preheat oven to 450° F

Equipment:  Large mixing bowl + large nonstick roasting pan

Oven-Roasted Vegetables


•  1 lb. new potatoes, scrubbed & cut into 2" chunks

•  3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

•  1 T. chili powder

•  1 tsp. ground cumin

•  1 tsp. kosher salt

•  1 tsp. thyme

•  1 tsp. garlic pepper (or 1/2 tsp. black pepper + 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)

•  Freshly cracked black pepper

•  3 medium zucchini, washed & cut into 2" chunks

•  2-3 bell peppers (any combination of red, green, orange & yellow bell peppers), seeded & cut into 2" chunks

•  1 large sweet onion, yellow or red (Walla Walla or Vidalia), cut into chunks


1.  Combine all of the veggies in a large bowl.  

2.  Toss with olive oil & seasonings until well coated.

3.  Roast in a large, non-stick roasting pan on 450°F for about 35 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  

Healthy & very tasty comfort food!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday—The Mac Keyboard Corner

6 Essential Mac Tips from BuzzFeed Video

Making life easier through keyboard short-cuts

Here are 6 super-handy keyboard shortcuts for your Mac!

1.  Incremental Volume/Brightness  = Option + Shift + Volume Button — The volume button is located in the uppermost top row to the left of the eject button (F12).

This also works with the brightness button, which is located in the uppermost top row to the right of the "esc" button.  It looks like a little sun icon.

2.  Define something = Command (squiggly box) + Control + D — This will define anything that is highlighted.

3.  Special Characters = Hold down a letter to bring up special characters — This is my favorite!  I use a lot of accents in foreign words (e.g. bon appétit), so this is a great short-cut.

4.  Paste "Clean" Text =  Command + Control + V — This creates a beautifully clean, simplified text version of whatever you copy & paste.  This is handy when you want to quote a paragraph from someone's blog and the text is crowded &/or awkward.  This tool cleans up the text and makes it easily viewable.

5.  Negative Display = Command + Option + Control + 8 —  This reverses the white & black backgrounds on your screen.  Very handy for reading in the sunlight.

Enable this tool in your keyboard preferences.

6.   Silent Start-Up = Hold down the mute key + power on — This silences the start-up noise!  That's a good one if you're starting up your computer at a meeting or late at night when you don't want to wake up sleepers.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday—The Creative Cloud Gallery: HALLOWEEN!

Pix from the Halloween party at our dance studio

We won the costume contest!