Sunday, September 09, 2012


Maria and youngest son Nick at Nick and Kristina's wedding, Sept. 8, 2012

My wonderful, wonderful friend. Maria.

Maria was my neighbor in Patterson, CA, then population 8,000, in the early 1990s. She was then a single mom with three young sons of her own. My first wife Candy used to babysit Maria's sons. Maria and Candy had been friends. After Candy died, in April 1991, I was suddenly a single father with a 180 mile, four hour a day, commute from Patterson to San Jose and back.

Maria became a huge part of my life. She watched my sons, drove my cars, took the kids to school and came and went in my house right up until I moved to San Jose. We were best friends.

Maria would walk in the front door without knocking, that was normal for us. Sometimes she might just walk in and borrow my muffin pans and leave. Other times she would come over with her three boys and she and I would make dinner together with our combined six sons. Like a big family we would all hang out, talk and laugh until bed time for the boys.

She is a wonderful, lively woman. Everybody in Patterson, knew Maria. She has this amazing outgoing down to earth personality that makes folks want to get to know her. Plus, she has this infectious laugh that I could hear from my house, about 200 feet from hers, on warm summer nights when all our windows were open.

Until I met Sue, Maria was the lady of my house. When I met Sue, and Maria met Mike, the family expanded to include our partners and Mike's son Gene.

Leaving all that behind was the hardest part of moving from Patterson to San Jose for me. But, we still remained close friends. Maria did Susie's hair at both our wedding and my middle son Jeff's wedding. I photographed Maria and Mike's wedding.

The funny thing is; I always thought I got the better end of the deal and felt sad that I was not able to give back to her and her kids anywhere near as much as she gave to me and mine. Now, 20 years later, all the boys are grown men. My older sons are now the age I was then.

It was not until September of 2012, when Sue and I went to Maria's youngest son Nick's wedding, that her sons expressed how happy they were to see me and how much I had helped them and how much my sons and our big crazy patched together family we had then still meant to them now. My heart melted and I was in tears.

I could not have made it back then, as a single dad, without my female friends; especially Maria. I love her and always will.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Halfway to my goal

Some of my friends do not know this, but I used to be 325 pounds. That was around 25 years ago. I started loosing weight as a life choice, literally. The key to me for loosing weight was not just going on a diet and exercising, it was looking inside and coming to grips with the issues that led me to gain the weight in the first place. I had to ask, "why had I chosen to gain the weight?"
That is why most diets fail I think. I think many people, such as me, choose unconsciously to put a layer of insulation as a shield between themselves and the outside world. I remember after I lost the weight feeling terribly exposed and vulnerable; even physically cold.
I remember back in the early 90's, even before the death of my first wife in a car accident, feeling like I was transported to a strange planet. The easy thing to do would have been to go home, to food. Frankly, it was very hard not to. For awhile, especially after the car accident, I was a loose cannon.
Now, here and today: This time my goals are smaller. I am halfway to shedding 34 pounds. But, the process is similar. Because, you see, it is not about how many pounds you have or about eating less and exercising more. That is the process, the tool. In my opinion what you are really doing is changing your life, becoming a different person, recreating your identity and sense of self.
Lacking that, I believe most diets are doomed to fail. Because, I think, they miss the point. It's easier to change your diet than to change yourself.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Old People's Music

Recently I spent a couple of days chasing trains and doing photography with my 12-year-old grandson Cazden. We were driving home from Sacramento in the evening and we were both kind of zoned out. I asked Cazden if he would mind if I put on some music. He said, "gramps, what kind of music do you listen to?" I answered, "old people's music."

He accepted that as a very logical answer. So, I started playing the Grateful Dead on my iPod plugged into the car stereo. I guess I was waiting for him to say, "Gramps, that's not old people's music!" But, he never did.

I guess looking at it from his perspective, The Grateful Dead IS old people's music.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Steve's Vegitarian Tofu Chili

  • 12 ounce beer (amber or dark ale preferred)
  • 1 14-18 oz can of tomato sauce
  • Veggie broth to thin if needed
  • One 28 ounce canned whole, crushed or diced tomatoes, with liquid.
  • 3 tablespoons of chili powder (good chili powder makes all the difference in the world)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (less is more, none may be best)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Bay leaf
  • optional: 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you like it hot, I prefer to leave this out)
  • 14 to 20 ounces (like a pound) of firm tofu cut into small cubes, like 1/4 inch sized.
  • One cup of fresh sliced mushrooms (canned or reconstituted dried if you must)
  • One green or red or red bell pepper
  • Two 14-18 ounce cans of beans. one of kidney beans, one (cooks choice) drained and rinsed (for your partner's sake).
  • One yellow onion diced
  • 3 or so tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 cloves, or a generous tablespoon, of minced garlic (more is more)
In about a five quart pot, like a dutch oven, pour your sauce ingredients, except the broth, and let them start heating up. Add your spices your dutch oven (or other pot) and let it come to a simmer. Meanwhile prepare your content items by slicing, mincing, dicing and doing all the needed cutting. In a frying pan, over high heat, saute your tofu in the olive oil and the garlic for about three minutes. Then, add it to your dutch oven (or other pot) where your sauce is simmering. Repeat this procedure with your onion, you may want to reduce the heat, and saute in more olive oil until onion is just translucent and add it to your sauce. Repeat this procedure with your pepper, you may want to reduce the heat, and saute in more olive oil until pepper just gets some black marks and is softer. Again, add it to your sauce. Now add in your beans. If it's too thick add veggie broth to thin to desired consistency. Simmer for an hour, with occasional stirring, scraping the bottom and turning things over.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Another trip around the sun

Christmas Eve at Steve and Luci's

So here we are, another trip around the sun is complete. What an interesting trip it is. It's always changing. Nothing stays the same, does it?

Here is how the last trip around the sun ended for my family and I. Click this to see our collection of holiday 2011 photos.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

My Cycling Manifesto

My new Gunnar purchased Nov. 2012.

As I look into the new year and where I want to go with my cycling I have been looking at what worked last year, what didn't work, my successes, disappointments, and where I want to go with my riding in the future. To do that I have decided to write a manifesto to shape my approach to the bicycle.

I plan to add to this blog post over time.

Here is my cycling manifesto:

  • A bicycle is a tool, and it is more than a tool. It is both and each. And, it is more. A bicycle is:
    • Transportation.
    • A toy that can transport us back to our childhood.
    • A statement that health matters.
    • A statement that the environment matters.
    • An object of functional art and craftsmanship, an aesthetic.
    • An extension of oneself, of being one with the machine and the road.
  • It doesn't matter how far or how fast you go. No matter how far or how fast you go, there will always be people who go further and faster.
  • Finishing first does not matter, neither does finishing last. The last rider who completes the ride finishes ahead of everybody who didn't even try.
  • It is not worth doing if you do not enjoy it. Contrary to popular belief there is no direct relationship between pain and gain. Pain is pain and gain is gain. No pain is no pain. It is okay to stop when it hurts. It is possible to achieve without hurting.
  • Low gears are good things, REALLY low gears are great things. Sacrificing low gears for the sake of having high gears is silly. If you spin out your top gears going downhill you can always coast. If your gears are not low enough going uphill you are walking, or worse if you stand up and push a really high gear and break a crank, or pop your knee, you will not be riding at all and may be badly hurt.
  • Cycling with friends is good. Cycling alone is good. They are just different types of good.
    • Supported rides, like tours or event centuries, are only fun if you have a dedicated riding buddy or buddies. Carrying food is no big hassle. If I am going to ride alone I see no point in paying to do so.
    • When I am riding with a friend, or friends, we ride as a group and stop as a group because we are riding to be together. Being together is the point!
    • The best part of riding alone is not needing to suit anyone but yourself. Stopping to take a picture inconveniences nobody. The best part of riding together is being able to be together.
  • A bike should be as reasonably light as reasonably possible but it MUST be as strong as it needs to be, to be safe and dependable. Safe and dependable are more important considerations than light and fast or pretty.

Resolution 6 - Be more mindful

Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience.
It isn't more complicated that that.
It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is,
without either clinging to it or rejecting it.
~Sylvia Boorstein

I think we are in crisis of mindlessness in our society. We keep coming up with ways to distract us from the world around us. We have distracted eating, distracted driving, distracted working, and we have even come up with ways to distract ourselves from our friendships. We have invented social media tools to distract us from having real human relationships. We teach our kids at an early age to not look out the window as we drive our car, to not talk with or engage with the people around them and to instead consume a constant stream of commercial media. That becomes their reality.

Is it no wonder our kids have attention deficit and can't communicate in the real world anymore? It is my last last resolution to be more mindfully a part of the real world, embrace what I am doing, what others are doing, what is going on, to unplug, tune in, and to embrace the real analog world that is here, now and tangible. Each moment is unique and there are no ordinary moments.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Resolution 5 - Shoot more film

I resolve to shoot more film in 2012. Why, because I like to. It's a hobby after all - so that is all the justification I need. It's also becoming a lost art. Less people are doing it. Fewer historical moments are being captured on this relatively archival medium. After all, we still have pictures from the civil war available that were captured on the medium. It is a fading art and I want to keep doing it. At least until I am dead, or I can't get film anymore and my 100 foot rolls in my freezer are used up.

Until then: you can have my film cameras when you pry my cold dead fingers off the shutter release.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Resolution 4 - Learn to cook with Tofu

I am trying to cut back on animal and processed fats. I have had too many friends die at young ages from heart attacks and have struggled too long with obesity myself. This will not guaranty I won't die at a young age from a heart attack, but this and exercise, is among the things I can do. Besides, I will not be missing that much. I do not need all that cholesterol. I don't even like the way eating too much of that greasy food feels! Thus, I am embracing some vegetarian options.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Sue's Eggplant Parmesan

  • 4 cups vegetable oil (Wesson oil) or olive oil
  • 3 medium-large eggplants, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1/4" thick)
  • 3 -4 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 6 cups pasta sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Fill a large skillet with about 1/4-inch of oil, heat over medium heat heat until hot.
  2. Working with 1 slice at a time, dip eggplant in egg, let excess drip off, and then dip in bread crumbs until evenly coated.
  3. Fry eggplant, turning over once, until golden brown on each side. Set aside until all eggplant is fried.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Layer eggplant in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
    Spread thin layer of sauce to cover the bottom of baking dish. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce.
    Sprinkle the eggplant with generous amount of parmesan cheese, sprinkle shredded mozzarella, and add a thin layer of sauce.
    Repeat. Ideally, end up with 3 layers of eggplant.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes, or until sauce is sizzling around the edges of the dish.

Resolution 3 - Ride My Bike More

I do not have any big cycling goals this year, no big centuries, no big tours. My goal is just to have fun riding my bike, riding the kind of rides I like, sometimes riding alone, more often with friends and maybe even riding with family. I did a lot of this in 2011, but kinda petered out after Whine and Dine season started. Starting soon, starting next weekend, I hope!