Monday, August 29, 2011

My Daughters, My Friends

When my eldest daughter was eight months old, she was a poor eater.  I don’t remember what I told the pediatrician about it, but he responded, “Mrs. Hall, you are her mother, not her friend.”
As our family grew, we had five daughters and two sons.  Our long dining table was so obviously dominated by females, that while I was pregnant with one of the younger ones, my first born son actually prayed that I was carrying male triplets.  That never happened, but he had hopes.
I was a disciplinarian and my husband, the softy.   Over the years, the pediatrician’s advice came back to me many, many times.  I would insist on curfews, appropriate dress and proper friendships.  For several years, we held a monthly teen meeting with a "cool" speaker, followed by a party in our finished basement.  Many of the friendships they forged have continued to this day.  As those teens reached college age, our younger daughters weren’t interested in a teen meeting, so we just went with the flow.
Over the years, through the death of my youngest son at 6 ½ half due to a severe heart problem, and other hard times later in life, they didn’t fall apart.  We were still family.
My daughters are all adults and married now….three on the East Coast and two on the West.  Yet, text messages and cell phones keep them very close.  They steadfastly encourage my pursuits and report to each other when concerned about what I do.  While each has their friends, I am always included, as one of the girls, in their excursions to dinner, shopping, plays, card nights, etc.  What amazes me is that in spite of my being a strict mother, each has chosen to make me her friend.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

East Coast Earthquake

When I read this afternoon that Colorado had a 5.3 magnitude earthquake last night at 11:46pm (Mountain Daylight Time), I checked out the U.S. Geological Survey website. Having experienced three earthquakes since I moved to Southern California in 2001, the USGS website is on my "favorites" list. While looking at the USA Geological Map, I saw that Virginia had just experienced a 5.9 (later changed to 5.8) at 1:51pm (Eastern Daylight Time). I had no idea the extent to which it was felt throughout the East Coast until I received a phone call from my daughter in New York City advising me that she was unable to reach her husband or her mother-in-law who cares for my daughter's 10 months old baby. My daughter was concerned that she couldn't reach them and asked me to try. She experienced September 11, 2001, so this earthquake only heightened her awareness. I remember that on September 11, 2001, when I worked in New York City, we could not phone anyone, yet people outside of New York could call in. So today, I phoned both my daughter's home, where I got the answering machine, and her mother-in-law's cell phone. The cell phone didn't even connect, meaning I heard no ring...nothing but silence. Then, I tried my daughter's cell phone. That didn't connect either. Later I learned that cell phone activity immediately following the earthquake, figuratively, just flooded the system. I e-mailed my daughter about the dead cell phones and she responded that she had heard from her mother-in-law, who was evacuated with my granddaughter, and had now returned to the apartment. On August 7, 2011, I wrote about the importance of the Internet to the general public. If you haven't read it, I invite you do so. Today's occurrence is just another instance of our need to have unfettered access.

I do not take earthquakes lightly. I recently met friends for dinner where we asked one of our members about his elderly in-laws who live in Japan. He spoke about the multiple earthquakes that Japan is still experiencing. At this point the discussion veered to weather around the United States. My friends reiterated how they could not live in areas with tornadoes and hurricanes, yet everyday they risk possible earthquakes here in San Diego. Having had an earthquake literally lift me off the floor four years ago at 8:00am on Labor Day morning, I respect them. I was brushing my teeth and the next thing I knew, I had to hold on to the sink with my elbow in an effort to avoid falling to the floor. Yet I, too, choose the same risk as my California friends, to live in practically perpetual sunshine rather than ice and snow.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

La Gran Terraza Restaurant

Wednesday evening my daughter took me to La Gran Terraza, a fine dining restaurant at the University of San Diego, where my son-in-law is the evening chef. We entered the building and proceeded down the hall, past O’Tooles Tavern and entered a large dining room with large floor to ceiling windows. Our view included Tecolote Canyon and Mission Bay. The Front Manager, Amanda, told us that usually the view includes a beautiful sunset. That evening, we had a complete cloud cover.

The Prime Rib buffet was certainly tempting. Since I had a late lunch, I had no intention of eating very much. However, I had a little of this and a little of that. Before I knew it I had filled my plate. Beside the Prime Rib (delicious!!) with onions and mushrooms for topping with au jus gravy, there were roasted vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. As I rounded the buffet table in the center of the room, I found a fresh fruit compote with black beans, a plate with fresh fruit and cheese, and salmon in pastry.

Then, our waiter reminded us of the soup table and the various breads offered. I had to pass up the soup, but not the cranberry bread. It tasted so good. I barely managed to try the desserts which are created in-house. The whole meal was excellent, as was the service.

Now, having enjoyed this wonderful meal, desserts and all, coupled with my late lunch at Red Lobster, I am definitely returning to my diet.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Red Lobster


Yesterday afternoon I met a friend, Maricruz, for a late lunch (or early dinner) at Red Lobster. Since the restaurant was having their “Crabfest” promotion, the waiter supplied us with a menu containing some very inviting dishes. As we perused the menu, we just couldn’t decide. We were originally ordering crab cakes, which I had enjoyed once before when we met for dinner. However, the menu had some tantalizing suggestions. Maricruz asked if I wanted to share some dishes. Well, it opened the door. We ordered multiple appetizers. We ditched our resolution and surrendered to the inviting pictures on the menu and ordered the crab cakes, and the coconut shrimp, and the shrimp bruschetta. Everything tasted delicious. What a great idea.

Because of the time of day, the restaurant was not too busy and the atmosphere was perfect for catching up on each other’s news. I really enjoy hearing of my friends’ new ventures, and the one Maricruz has embarked upon was very interesting. I say congratulations to her! Of course, as much as I like to write, I love to talk. Before we knew it, we completed our tasty meal.

And, as the day progressed, I went to another restaurant. More about that tomorrow.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sammy's Woodfire Pizza

My daughter took me to Sammy's Woodfire Pizza in Liberty Station, Point Loma.
While I've been to three of the twelve Sammy's locations, this is by far my favorite. On my first visit a few years ago, I took the time to look around. The building was constructed sometime in the 1930's and 40's as part of the Naval Training Center in San Diego. When the Navy scaled down their training operation in San Diego during the late 1990's, the City of San Diego transformed the buildings for restaurants, stores, etc. As I looked around, I saw that they used the original structure, showing the bare wood of the roof and draping it with sails. I thought how appropriate....reminiscent of its former use.

When we go to Sammy's, we usually share a Five Cheese pizza ($12.50) and a small Balsamic Grilled Chicken ($9.95). This time we added shrimp ($4.00) to the salad because I like that, while my daughter likes the chicken. The small salad is the size of a dinner plate. We both agreed that every thing was very delicious.

Then came dessert. We decided to share Apple Empanadas ($7.50). As we were ordering it, I mentioned to the waitress that we were celebrating birthdays. She said, "Oh, for birthdays, the dessert is on us." What great news.

I really love this place, so you are reading about it in detail. When in San Diego, this restaurant is worth your visit.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Poll about God's Job Performance

While this blog is principally one to speak about places I've been in Southern California and New York State, I occasionally take license to write about a subject out of this area. The following is totally my opinion.

An August 1, 2011 New York Daily News (online) article by Kathryn Kattalia, told about a survey reportedly taken by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in North Carolina. The question was “if God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its performance?” The choice of answers was Yes, No, and Not Sure. You can read it at

Aside from calling God an “it”, in my opinion, the question was frivolous and empty. Printed beside this article was a New York Daily News poll, which included the following answers (I’m paraphrasing): Approve, Don’t approve, and “Should humans really be rating God’s job performance.” I checked the third answer on the New York Daily News poll.

Human nature seems to cause us to praise God for the good and blame Him for the bad. The God I worship is a good God. I praise Him for good things happening, but I don’t blame Him when bad things happen. I believe that God created this wonderful world, and then, human beings. He gave us “free will” and dominion over this world. I believe He left the world in our hands and only intervenes when asked. Sometimes things happen as a result of societal actions. We can use and abuse the world and everything in it, or respect every human life and His creation. I also believe that, unfortunately, bad things do happen to good people. Life happens. I don’t believe that God picks people to suffer the injustices of this world. I still believe that God is a good God and loves each and every one of us personally. It is our choice to access that love, or not.

In full disclosure, I am a Roman Catholic who believes that I have a personal friendship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You, too, can have this same friendship. Just ask Him, tell Him that you are sorry for anything you’ve done that you know was wrong and then, trust it is done. In the Bible, Acts 16:30-31 states, “….Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They (Paul and Silas) replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

I am certainly no theologian, just an individual who trusts in the goodness and mercy of God….a sinner saved by grace.

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20th Anniversary of the World Wide Web

On August 6, 1991 the World Wide Web (www.) was made available to the public on the Internet. A full account of this information is found at Twenty years later, many of us practically live on the Internet, either before or with their morning coffee or late into the night. It has become a valuable tool for keeping in contact with our friends and researching every conceivable need for information. Because of the public access to the Internet, world wide news travels in seconds, probably faster.

I am a ardent believer in keeping the Internet free of Government involvement. Good intentions in the guise of protecting us can also restrict us.

On September 11, 2001, I worked in a building on 53rd Street near Park Avenue in New York City. My daughter worked 500 paces from the South Tower at the World Trade Center. My children on the West Coast thought I still worked at the World Trade Center on that day. (Actually, I had changed jobs and moved to the midtown area.) After the planes hit those towers, it didn't take long for us to lose phone service. Therefore, I could not phone my East or West Coast children to tell them that my daughter and I were alive.

Later in the morning, I thought of the Internet. I had never used the computer at work for personal reasons. But, that day I sent e-mails to my San Diego friends. asking them to phone my family in San Diego and Los Angeles. When the first plane hit the North Tower, my friends in San Diego were only getting up for work. I didn't know that they never went to work that day. I sent e-mails to my West Coast children, guessing at their work e-mail addresses, telling them that their sister and mother were OK. I gave them our locations, where we would be that evening in case there was another attack, and phone numbers to possibly reach us. New York City was in "lockdown" and we weren't going anywhere. If we didn't have this unfettered public access, my children would have continued wondering if we were alive. Because my son received my e-mail in Los Angeles, he was able to call me. I can't explain how he could get a call in yet I couldn't get a call out. Just suffice it to say, he spoke with me and his sister.

So, while there is good and bad on the Internet, we must preserve our freedom to this access. With all the social networking available on Facebook and Twitter, we contact friends, some of us with vital information and others with every thought that crosses their minds. They are free to do that.

We cannot wake up some morning and find that our Twitter and Facebook, much less Internet access has been taken away because of a real or perceived crisis. If "the powers that be" are concerned about hackers, they should be working on improving software security to preserve freedom for all, not restraining all. I believe we should appreciate what we have and keep the Internet public.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All Quiet on the Home Front

It is now 3:50am. It is 70 degrees and I'm awake. I guess our real summer is arriving here in San Diego. Of course, it is nothing to complain about with other parts of the US suffering under much higher temperatures. When I moved from New York to San Diego, my co-workers kept telling me that our "real" summer would occur in August and September. Well, it turned out to be true. It pays to listen to the locals.

With our visitors from New York having returned home, life has settled back into the regular routine. My San Diego grandchildren have been going to camp or preschool.

When the teenage grandchildren arrived from New York, the first question my 14 year old grandson asked was "How come you call your highways the 5, the 405, the 15, etc?" Well, I don't know. Practically every East Coast visitor has asked that. In the Northeast, highways are identified as "Route 9, Route 95, etc.", except for "the Turnpike", "The Garden State" or "the Thruway". Also, here in San Diego located on the Pacific Ocean, we go to the beach. On the East Coast, if we are going to the ocean, it is called "the shore", like "Jersey Shore." If you are going to Long Island, it is "the island", or "the Hamptons" if you are uber-rich. I'm sure other areas of the US have their own terminology.

So, onto other summer adventures. I'm looking forward to visiting my son's family in Redondo Beach. I'll use Amtrak for that trip and will, of course, share that with you.

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