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ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO SPEW

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I met up with a friend at the gym last week and as she was whirling away on the stationary bike she tried to find an unbiased news report on one of the five TV’s in front of her.  “Where do you go to get unbiased news”, she asked, as she swiveled between CNN, Fox and MSNBC.   “Sesame Street”, I responded, “it tells me everything I need to get by in life”.  I was only half-kidding but it is a subject I’ve been thinking about in this increasingly divisive atmosphere we’re in.  As my brother correctly pointed out last week, we are Presbyterians so we don’t wade into the political fray in this forum.  However, I will observe that every network seems to have camped out on one part of the divide or the other and they’re all getting richer for it.  The networks obviously pander to their audience, grasping for ratings and ad revenue at the expense of our edification.

 

I know I’m not the only one who is disgusted by the news coverage.  Sure, I could watch C-SPAN all day long but that smacks of being a bit too nerdy, not to mention my tolerance for windbags is at low ebb right now.  I consulted my friend, Google, and found several charts that basically tell us what we already know – a few organizations (mostly print) try for impartiality, but most fall into either left-or-right leaning, and then there’s a whole category on the bottom of both sides that is garbage.  So, where DO we go?  I found a website, allsides.com, that provides articles on the same subject by left, center and right leaning print media.  That seems like a whole lot of reading for me.  I’m trying to think of a subject that would interest me enough to read three articles about it.  Outside of the Food section, I couldn’t think of one.   One could always go to mediabiasfactcheck.com but there are a LOT of ads and it’s a bit distracting.  Snopes, of course, has been the go-to for figuring out internet and Facebook claims but there are wide-ranging topics one has to wade through, such as today’s top question: Can the snakehead fish survive on land?  I’m sure that’s of great interest to the snakehead fish, but I venture it’s of limited interest to everyone else.

What I really long for are newscasts that present information in a factual way, and then have really smart people debate the issue in-depth so that I can sort through the facts and form my own opinion.  For those of us of a certain age, we can recall the 60 Minutes segment, Point/Counterpoint featuring Shana Alexander and James Kilpatrick.  It was good old-fashioned sparring over a new topic each week and was always good entertainment as well.  So good, in fact, that it spawned the Saturday Night Live parody of it featuring Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtin.  Its seminal line may have been, “Jane, you ignorant slut”.  Mark Shields and David Brooks do a political point/counterpoint on the Friday night edition of The PBS News Hour, but somehow, it just isn’t the same.

The upshot of all this is I barely watch the news at all anymore.  I read a bit and try to vary my periodicals so I get different opinions.  I’m saving my TV watching for Netflix.  I just looked up the 20 most popular British TV series, many of which have multiple seasons available for viewing.  The advantage of the British shows is that you get to hear that glorious accent and there aren’t any references to American politics.  I’m hoping these shows will keep me occupied though the 2020 election. If not, there’s always BritBox.

 

 

 

A Filler-buster: The Skinny Palms

by Bob Sparrow

Before: Notice brown husks and dead limbs

This blog is termed something that Suzanne and I have come to refer to as ‘ a filler’.  I haven’t gone anywhere in the last two weeks, except to the bathroom. Nothing interesting has happened to me, in fact nothing interesting has happened to anyone I’ve talked to in the last two weeks.  So if you’ve got something else to do or somewhere else to go, I’d suggest not reading the rest of this drivel and get on with the rest of your day.

The palm trees in the photos?  That probably tells you more about my last two weeks than you’d care to know.  In preparation for our son, Jeff, getting married and the rehearsal dinner at our house, I had all of my palm trees trimmed, more accurately, scalped.  There are 24 palms in my yard, 12 queen palms and 12 pigmy palms.  Some of my pigmy palms are 10 feet high, not sure why they’re called pigmies.  A crew of 5 came in over the weekend and blitzkrieged my yard – saws buzzing, limbs flying (tree limbs, no human limbs that I saw) and people hauling stuff out to the ‘chipper’ in the street.

After: skinny palms, even the sky looks bluer

You’re probably on pins and needles wondering what the trees looked like after the blitzkrieg.  Well, here’s a photo of those same three trees.  Looks like the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos for a weight-loss program, huh?  Actually it was similar to a money-loss program.

They also trimmed up two banana palms I have in my back garden, but I didn’t take a ‘before’ photo, so the ‘after’ photo wouldn’t really tell you the whole, thrill-packed story – you’ll just have to use your imagination . . . or not.  Are you still reading this crap?   I can guarantee you that it’s not going to get any better.

I’m a big college football fan and I could pontificate on the California law being run through the system currently allowing college athletes to profit from the use of their name or likeness.  Apparently a $100,000+ college education isn’t enough profit for a 19-20 year old.  On the surface it looks like it will only benefit the stars of the team, who would probably get a pro contract in another year or two anyway.  I’m sure there’s another side to the story, I just don’t want to hear it.

I understand we have an election year coming up; I’m sure the contests will be fair, civil and boring given the current atmosphere of political malaise in our country.  My sister and I will continue to stay above the fray and remain apolitical as we are both Presbyterians.

I’m guessing you hope I go somewhere, soon!  Me too, but with the approaching nuptials and the holidaze just around the corner (only about 11 more weeks to get that Christmas shopping done – nothing big for me this year, please!) I‘m afraid I’m house-bound for the remainder of the year, which could mean more ‘fillers’.

Hey, Suzanne, maybe we should just take the last quarter of the year off.  What are our readers going to do, ask for their money back?

 

 

FROM HEAVENLY TO HELOISE

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

              What we’re missing

I hope you’ve all recovered from my brother’s trip to Italy.  It sounds like it was truly the trip of a lifetime and I’m so glad we could go with him on the journey.  I had hoped to take you along this week on our trip to Mammoth Lakes but, alas, my husband had a small procedure on his calf that prevented us from going.  So, the picture you see here is from our trip a few years ago just so you can see what you’re missing.  Actually, I was okay with cancelling our trip since I’m still on a mission to re-do every room in the house.  I have entertained myself this whole, long, hot summer by buying things and moving furniture around.  Neither Dash the Wonder Dog nor my husband are quite as entertained by this as I have been, what with their stumbling into things in the night and having to sniff out new napping spots.  I let you guess which one is doing what.

Sun Valley Escape

In any event, all my staying home and working on the house these past few months has produced some “Aha!” moments that I thought I’d pass along.  After all, we here at A Bird’s Eye View pride ourselves in providing lots of useless information just to add more clutter to everyone’s already overloaded memory.  The first product I found this summer is a game-changer for anyone who loves to hang, and then re-hang, pictures.  A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to get some great shots of our trip to Sun Valley and decided to blow about 10 of them up into canvas prints.  I also have a little room we use as a library where I had hung numerous family photos.  In my frenzy this summer I decided everything needed a new home but that left me with lots of little holes in walls.  I know, I could use Command strips but I once had a picture fall from one and ruin a baseboard so I’m not a fan.  Enter a little miracle worker – 3M Patch Plus Primer 4-in-1.

The four components of it are: spackle, primer, putty knife and sander.  YES!!  All in one tube.  You simply put a drop cloth down in case you’re a klutz like me, squeeze the tube to place a little of the spackle/primer in the nail hole, smooth it with the other end of the tube which is creatively fashioned like a putty knife, let it dry for a few minutes and then sand it with the end of the tube cap (which is covered with sand paper).  I was nervous the first time I tried it, but by the third hole I was walking around the house looking for things to spackle.  I repaired nicks in baseboards (see above comment about Command strips) and dents in door moldings.  It was like crack cocaine – nothing escaped my 4-in-1.  Then I broke out the paint cans and touched up when I’d spackled and – voila! – good as new.  It so far exceeded my expectations and was so simple to use that it made we wonder why more companies don’t come up with great products like this.  I’m thinking maybe the painter’s union wouldn’t like this because it certainly cuts into the amount of times you have to call in the reinforcements for nail holes.

The second product I found this summer is the Rock Doctor Cleaner and Polisher for natural stone .  I think I’ve mentioned that we had a travertine dining table sanded and resealed a couple of months ago so while I had the guy here I asked about doing my granite counter tops.  He told me he wouldn’t take my money (already I liked this guy) and referred me to the Rock Doctor brand of products.  Both Home Depot and Lowe’s carries it so it’s easily available.  I’ve been using it ever since and my countertops are as good as when they were new.  Ironically, you have to wipe down the counter before you use the cleaner, which to me is a bit like cleaning before the cleaning person comes, but I guess it’s to eliminate anything that might scratch the surface.  The Polisher sprays on like car wax and then you buff it in the same way – brings back memories of when I used to keep my car in better condition.

Anyway, those are my handy tips from the summer.  It’s not Italy.  Shoot – it’s not even Mammoth Lakes.  But I can guarantee that you won’t have holes in your walls or dull stone and that’s worth something!

Italy’s Foto Finish

by Bob Sparrow

As I recall the ride back from Italy went something like this: Sunday afternoon, van from Cinque Terre to Florence, dinner at sidewalk cafe, pick up at 4:30 a.m. Monday morning to go to Florence airport, fly from Florence to Paris, because of 6+ hour layover, we arranged for a tour of Paris, drove down the Champs-Elysees, drove by the Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triumph, Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum, stopped for a French pastry then drove back to the airport for flight to LAX, arriving Monday night at 7:30. Time on the ground in Florence, Paris and L.A. all in one day – that was a long day!

I am finally able to download some of my photos, so here’s a few that will punctuate the end of our fabulous journey.

 

Here’s the ‘Dirty Dozen’ enjoying a drink at the beach in Monterosso, Cinque Terre, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

A ‘moon shot’ of David

Pasta and tiramisu cooking class outside of Pisa

Restaurant high above Monterosso (I think we had wine that night)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rob resting on a bed of rocks – and he wonders why his back hurts

 

 

 

 

 

 

A common sight – the girls ignoring us guys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘Alderly Lane’ table

 

 

Patrick taking a small bit of his steak

 

 

 

 

The ‘Ridgeway Road’ table

Linda having 3 quick cocktails

Spooky Nazi bunker in Italy

Hilltop village of Montecatini Alto

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beach in Cinque Terre

Coming down the funicular at night – a memorable experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Someone forgot to turn the light off on the Eiffel Tower

Doing one of his ‘stand up’ routine on the bus, Sergio turned a very good trip into a GREAT trip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the sun sets over Tuscany, I’d like the thank our awesome travel partners, Mark & Kathy Johnson, Patrick & Pam Michael, Mike & Tanis Nelson, Bob & Jeanna Pacelli and Rob & Stefanie Warren, for helping to make this a most-memorable trip.

A final sunset in beautiful Tuscany

Italy’s Hilltops & Coastlines

by Bob Sparrow

Funicular

The dinner I had to rush off to after I posted on Thursday required us to walk about a mile and a half to the base of a funicular, which took us to the top of the mountain, via a nearly 40 degree climb, where sits the quaint little village of Montecatini Alto.  We had another perfect weather day so we could see for miles and miles – no foul weather gear needed here.  Just prior to sunset we walked the perimeter of the village taking in the spectacular views in every directions.  We then settled in at a bar (What a surprise!) on the town square and enjoyed a few cocktails before we moved next door where we had made dinner reservations.  We were seated on the patio on a beautiful evening, and while we were virtually alone at the restaurant at 7:30, when we left around 10:30 the place was packed.  We still haven’t adjusted to the late dining habits of the Italians.  With all the pasta I’d been eating for the last week, I decided to order a steak – it was delicious.

San Gimignano

Thursday morning we were back on the bus at 8:30, headed for the walled medieval town of San Gimignano.  Normally an hour and a half bus ride would not be very interesting, but Sergio did another ‘stand up’ routine about American TV shows, his comment about Murder She Wrote was something like, “If Angela Lansbury invites you to dinner, DON”T GO, someone is going to get murdered and it could be you!” He had us rolling in the aisles!  Before we hit this Tuscan city, we visited a cheese farm where we were given a tour by the owner, met the cows and goats and enjoyed some great cheeses.

Italian gelato

While wandering through town we found the award winning gelato shop that Sergio has directed us to  and got in line.  Great gelato!! We’re back on the bus (or Comedy Central as we now call it) and head back to our hotel to get ready for our ‘Farewell Dinner’ at another hilltop restaurant overlooking the Tuscany valley.  1st course: salami and other meats, 2nd course: bean soup (delicious!), 3rd course: pasta with cream sauce, 4th course: pasta with red sauce, 5th course: beef stew and potatoes, 6th course: desert (not sure what it was or how it tasted, my taste buds had checked out after the serving of the second pasta).  And, of course, the wine flowed freely.  We were all sad to leaving Sergio, but looking forward to the next stop on our own – Cinque Terre.

‘On-Off Boat’

These five towns built on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean are beautiful; we stayed in Monterosso, the largest of the villages and took an ‘on-off boat’ to visit the other four – actually only three as one village doesn’t have a port. It was another perfect weather day, as we strolled through each towns enjoying food, beverage and gelato.  We finished the day with a fabulous dinner, that lasted over three hours, at a seaside restaurant in our ‘home town’ of Monterosso.

Our trip home takes a few twists and turns which I will hopefully account with some of my own photos next time.

 

 

“Sorry, The Tower is Not Leaning Today”

by Bob Sparrow

(I’m still unable to download photos, but I’m using Google Images to come as close as I can)

View from hilltop Tuscan mansion

The dinner I was headed to before I had to sign off on Monday was FABULOUS.  It was at a Tuscany villa high on a hill overlooking the entire valley below.  It was a mansion that is rented out for special events.  The chef came to our outside dining area and showed us how he made the pasta he served us – interesting and delicious!  There was a DJ playing a variety of songs and the night had the potential of being a ‘sing off’ between guests from northern California, (insert photo of So. Call beating No. Cal singing ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ and our southern California gang singing, ‘I Love L.A.’ – even though we really don’t like LA all that much.  But we all ‘played nicely with others’ as we both did a great job of singing ‘Sweet Caroline’.

It’s Monday morning and we are off to Pisa, about an hour bus ride away.  We had a local guide, Vincehenzo, and he is a proud Pisan (or whatever you call people from Pisa) who was so well-informed and so articulate – he brought everything to life.  The bell tower (the one that’s leaning), as you might suspect, is still leaning although someone had sprayed a sign on a wall on our way to the tower that read ‘Sorry, the tower is not leaning today’.  It was explained to us that there is current technology that could straighten the tower fairly easily, but it brings in millions of dollars each year to the town of Pisa, so I don’t think we’ll see any straightening of the tower anytime soon.  After taking all the requisite photos of people pushing the tower over, we visited the adjacent church, Santa Maria Cathedral.  I don’t know whether it was the church or whether it was the fact that Vincehenzo was so good, but he made every aspect of the history of this church come alive.  We went into the Baptistry where over 100 people had to remain perfectly silent while a single voice sang out and demonstrated the awesome acoustics in the building.  I can still hear that voice echoing in that chamber.  Once outside the baptistery, Vincehenzo explained the ancient rivalry between the cities of Florence and Pisa – it’s was the L.A. and San Francisco argument all over again.

Cathedral Santa Maria

We got back to the hotel for a brief period of time before we were off to a local farm to make our own pasta dinner.  It was about an hour’s drive and we were greeted with a glass of wine (of course!) and the chef’s staff who immediately put us to work kneading the pasta, chopping the mushrooms, slicing the tomatoes and basically putting our somewhat dubious cooking skills to work.  We also made tiramisu – that was a big mistake as I’ll be making that way too many times when I get home.

Tuesday we are off to Siena, about an hour and a half bus ride from our hotel.  It’s another beautiful walled city, with a unique event that pits district against district and takes place every year.  It is called the Palio di Siena, and it is run twice a year on July 2nd and August 16th, where horses run around the Piazza del Compo (city square) where there are some 50,000 people that cram into the area to witness the race that lasts about one minute. What’s really interesting is that it is not unusual that the jockey falls off their horse, but it doesn’t matter if the horse finishes the race with or without the jockey!

Palio di Siena

On our way back from Siena, we stopped at a small, family owned winery and enjoyed several samples of some great wine – both red and white, along with some great charcuterie (that’s meat and cheese and stuff for those non-winers).

Dinner back in our local plaza and crash.

Wednesday is a ‘free day’, so we get to relax and just explore our magnificent base city of Montecatini Terme.  This evening for dinner we’ll be taking a funicular up to Montecatini Alto, a small village that sits on a nearby hilltop – more on that next time.

I’m going to need a vacation from this vacation, but it’s been an amazing experience.

More next Monday.

Under the Tuscany Sun

by Bob Sparrow

Imagine if you will the beautiful countryside of the rolling hills of Tuscany.  The fact is you will have to imagine it as the bandwidth the Hotel Ercolini e Savi is so thin, it could run around in a shower and never get wet, which means I am unable to send photos, but promise to when cyberspace allow.

The trip over was long and uneventful except for the Russian spy on our flight from LAX to Paris (insert photo of Russian spy here); more than likely she was coming back from just playing golf with Trump at Trump National Golf Club in Palos Verdes.  But that’s a blog for another time.

From Paris we flew to Florence where we were met by our tour guide, Sergio (insert picture of Sergio), who is a jolly (meaning he’s a bit over-weight) man with a great attitude and smile.  He knows Italy backwards and forwards (he was born there) and could seriously do stand-up comedy.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, your tour guide either makes or breaks your trip.  I felt so relieved upon meeting Sergio – there was no question he is going to make it great!

Our hotel is in the town of Montecatini Terme in the middle of the Tuscan region and this town is fabulous – not too big, not too small.  Great atmosphere, great restaurants and bars, friendly people.  Travel tip: go there!  That evening (Friday) we had a welcome dinner for all of the people on the tour, which numbered 42, all but two from the U.S..  We were a group of 12, there was a group from northern California of 16; the rest were from various parts of the US with one couple from Wales.  These were the people who we were going to spend the next eight days with so we were anxious to get to know them.  After Sergio explained all the fun and the rules, we enjoyed a nice dinner at the hotel and decided to head into the town square for an after-dinner drink.  (insert group photo of sitting in outdoor bar off the square of Montecatini), we eventually found our way back to the hotel, but since there was a bar next door that looked fun, we stopped for ‘just one more’.  We did finally get to our rooms for some much-needed sleep.

I’d like to say I had the best night’s sleep I had in a long time, and I did, but since our watches and phones were still on California time, the alarms never went off and we woke up at 8:25, when we had implicit instructions to be on the bus by 8:30 and DON’T BE LATE!  Not a good start . . . obviously we were late and got a nice round of applause when we entered the bus red-faced!  We were headed for Florence to spend the day and a beautiful day it was, weather-wise and experience-wise.  Prior to getting into the city, we headed to a hilltop site that provided us an extraordinary view of the entire city including the famous Ponte Vecchio (insert photo of city view showing Ponte Vecchio) The highlight, of course, was a trip to see Michelangelo’s David, of which I got a rather unusual photo (insert photo of David’s ass).  We were guided through the city’s churches, civic buildings and various statues and fountains – very interesting.  Back to the hotel, a short nap and a great dinner at a local restaurant just off the plaza in town

While our first full day was Under a Tuscan Sun, Sunday (where we did make it to the bus on time by the way!) started with a heavy rain shower, but quickly gave way to sun, which not-too-quickly gave way to more rain, as we motored to the town of Lucca.  Another great Italian town, this one with a city wall all the way around it (insert photo of city wall) and the rain ceased while we toured the city with a local guide, rented bikes and rode all the way around the city on the wall (insert photo of our unfortunate bike crash – it’s not true what they said about never forgetting how to ride a bike), toured the home/museum of composer, Giacomo Puccini, who wrote the operas, Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, and Turandot (from which the song Nessun Dorma comes).  On our way home we passed ‘Devil’s Bridge’ (photo and story later, maybe) stopped at a WWII museum and walked through a real old Nazi bunker – spooky! (photo of spooky Nazi bunker).

The trip has been awesome so far!! (insert photo of how awesome trip is) A Tuscan dinner out tonight somewhere, but I’ll have to write about that next time – hopefully Thursday.

P.S.  In the event my photos never come through, just look this stuff up on Google.

Arrivederci (photo of me saying, “See you later”)

Summer’s Over . . . or Is It?

by Bob Sparrow

With Labor Day coming and going, summer is ‘unofficially’ over; a fact that you don’t have to tell most kids, who have been back in school for several weeks.  But I’m going to try and squeeze in one more ‘summer vacation’ before the season is ‘officially’ over.

This Thursday we’ll be heading to Italy with five other couples from the ‘hood: Mark & Kathy Johnson, Patrick & Pam Michael, Mike & Tanis Nelson, Bob & Jeanne Pacelli and Rob & Stefanie Warren.  Yes, I know I was just in Italy in July, but if you had a chance to go back, wouldn’t you?  And this group knows how to have fun.

Montecatini Terme

The first segment of our trip is a group tour called Spotlight on Tuscany, which lasts for nine days, with the town of Montecatini Terme, in the rolling hills of Tuscany, serving as our base from which we will visit a different area each day.  One day we’ll hit Florence, the cradle of the Italian Renaissance, and have a chance to see Michelangelo’s David; I last saw him in 1974 and I’m curious if, now as an older man, he’s still standing naked in the middle of the Academy Gallery.  We’ll also see the walled city of Lucca, which is advertised as Tuscany’s best kept secret, but I have a feeling that it’s not that much of a secret anymore – I’ll let you know.  We’ll have a guided walking tour through the charming town of Siena and then of course we’ll all take the requisite photo of us pushing over the leaning tower of Pisa in that coastal town.

Throughout the tour we’ll be tasting Italian wines, Italian olive oils, more Italian wines, Italian cheeses and some more Italian wines.

Cinque Terre

After our stay in Tuscany we’ll be hopping on a train and heading for the Mediterranean coast to the picturesque towns of Cinque Terre – a destination that has long-been on my travel bucket list.  We’re on our own here, so we’ll be hiking through the five villages, taking water taxis back and forth and probably drinking some Italian wine.

And yes, of course, you’re invited to come along vicariously and be spared the joys of airplane rides and airline rubber chicken.  You’ll also not have to pack any foul-weather gear, as rain is predicted for our first several days in Tuscany.  Trust me, it won’t dampen our spirits!

As always I’ll update you as we go along.

SUR-PRISE, SUR-PRISE, SUR-PRISE!

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Wedding anniversaries are something to be celebrated. Those of us who are married recognize that making it through another year of love, fun, in-laws at Thanksgiving and arguments about who should take the garbage out is something to be celebrated. This past weekend brother Bob and his wife, Linda, celebrated their 40th anniversary and the best part is, they didn’t have to plan a thing. In fact, they were the honorees at a surprise party planned and hosted by their three children, Stephanie, Dana and Jeff (and their respective spouses, of course). Linda’s sister, Starlet and I flew in to add to the surprise. And believe me, it was a real surprise because unbeknownst to them, we planned on staying at their house for the weekend.

FUN neighborhood group with bad boy Marc Webb

I admit, I was unaware of the traditions associated with a 40th anniversary so I consulted with my friend Google and, as usual, learned just how ignorant I am.  Turns out, the traditional gift for a 40th anniversary is a ruby. It was chosen because of its deep, rich color and symbolism of devotion and passion for life. WOW…I couldn’t think of a more perfect description of Bob and Linda. They are both curious, fun-loving, optimistic and enthusiastic about all that they do. As you can see from the photos, they (and their friends, I might add) really know how to have a good time. When I think of them, I conjure up images of people who really know how to take a big bite out of the apple. After the initial shock, and fortified by a little libation, they laughed, joked and enjoyed the evening as only they could.

Dana, Jeff, Stephanie – three FABULOUS kids!

Another traditional 40th anniversary gift is a party. Well…this one was one for the ages. The three kids did a fabulous job of organizing, decorating and planning down to the smallest detail. The decorations were right out of Pinterest and the photos kept everyone reminiscing and laughing all night. It’s rather humbling to look at photos of yourself from 40 years ago. There were just a few of us who were at their wedding and we kept squinting at the pictures, marveling at when we had either more hair or tighter skin. But one thing that remained the same is that Bob and Linda were fun-loving and family-oriented then and they have kept that ball rolling for 40 years. The fact that their children threw the party tells you everything you need to know about how beloved they are and what terrific and supportive parents they have been.  And don’t even get them started on the grandchildren unless you have an hour or more to spare.  Heck, even the sonogram photo of their grandson-in-waiting was drooled over.  That boy doesn’t know how great he’s going to have it.

Which leads me to the third piece of a traditional 40th anniversary gift – a family portrait.  I’m not sure a photo can capture just how special this family is but hopefully you can see by the smiles on their faces how genuinely happy they are to be together and share such an incredible, amazing bond.  Though much has changed in the world over the past 40 years, Bob and Linda have remained steadfast in their devotion to each other and their families. So…a toast to them and wishing them more decades of love, fun, exciting trips and good friends.

There is no more fun family than the Sparrows so for your entertainment I’ve posted a few of the family photos from the event.

The wonderful Sparrow family

 

Linda and three of her bridesmaids – Chris, me and Starlet

An historic year!

Haven’t we all felt like this at some point?

 

 

 

 

 

The older generation!

CAKE!

 

Always laughing!

 

 

 

Is My Guitar Gently Weeping?

by Bob Sparrow

(Yes, I’m obviously still sitting around the house searching for things to write about, but I’m back on the road next month; hang in there)

      In June I discovered a crack in the face of my six-month old Taylor 12-string guitar. I called the Taylor manufacturer in El Cajon, just east of San Diego, to see what I should do. I was told I could either ship it to them or take it down there in person, which I decided to do, as I wanted to take a tour of their huge guitar-making facility.

It is an interesting tour of the largest guitar maker in the U.S.; between El Cajon and their facility in Tecate, Mexico, they turn out about 700 guitars A DAY – mostly acoustic. The tour allows one to see each step in the process of the making of their various guitars. I found it most interesting to find out that the wood for these guitars comes from all over the world; East Indian Rosewood, Hawaiian Koa, African Ebony, Tasmanian Blackwood, Mexican Cocobolo are just a few of the many types of wood used by Taylor. The wood not only gives guitars different colors, it also gives the sounds they make different colors. I’m not sure where the wood for my guitar came from; I’m guessing Pacoima.

Taylor 150e 12-string guitar

I handed in my guitar at the El Cajon repair facility and asked them to please fix it and handle it with care. But I wondered, with 700 guitars pouring out every day, would mine just get lost in the guitar shuffle? Would it be neglected and weeping in some warehouse corner in El Cajon?  Who knows what really happens in these places? I’ve called Taylor a couple of times to inquire about my guitar’s status, but all I get are voicemails.

I take consolation in the fact that while my 12-string is in either intensive or insensitive care, I have not been guitarless, as I have my six-string, a Martin D-35 that Linda gave me in 1980.  It’s done its share of weeping as well, but has gotten better with age . . . and practice. But if I’m thinking of a weeping guitar, it’s my very first one that comes to mind and it wasn’t weeping it was literally crying out loud!

It was a mail order SilverTone f-hole guitar, purchased in 1959 from Sears & Roebuck. That guitar did lots of weeping, as did my family members, who were within earshot of me trying to learn to play the darn thing. Nary a silver tone came out of it until my friend, Don showed me how to tune and play it.  I kept it all the way through college, but as I think back now, I don’t remember what ever happened to it, as after graduation I joined the service and was sent to Japan. Perhaps my parents used it for firewood on a cold winter night – sweet revenge for all those sleepless nights they endured.

1959 SilverTone f-hole – firewood?

 

I finally did hear from the folks at Taylor, telling me that my guitar would be coming to me sometime this week. As of this writing, I’m still waiting and hoping my guitar is not weeping due to the fact that it’s coming back to me, but I have tissues ready.