A ‘Holidaze’ Poem . . . or Not!

by Bob Sparrow

‘Twas the week after Christmas

In a year of unrest

Let’s review what’s just happened

The worst and the best

The year started out

with a Capitol riot

And a new president,

But D. Trump didn’t buy it


Tiger Woods crashed his car

After one of his rounds

‘Cause he couldn’t drive straight

So he drove out of bounds


The news was still filled

With street gangs and shooters

And stores were still targets

For bandits and looters

OK, I was trying to write a creative and uplifting holiday poem, something recapping the year – both good and bad.  But as I scanned the Internet searching for this year’s events, I saw nothing but bad news; how the pandemic was growing, then the Delta variant, then the Omicron variant.  After reviewing this past year, all I had to show for it were symptoms of ‘writer’s block’ and I wondered if there was a shot for that – I’m thinking whiskey!

Realizing that we were mostly dividing the country only with politics, we apparently needed something else to disagree on, so up pops the Coronavirus vaccine.  Was it effective?  Was it too soon?  Was it science?  Was it politics?  Was it the bottom line for pharmaceutical companies?  We’ve been told to ‘believe the science,’ but the science seems to be on whatever side you want it to be on.  So now we’ve got people who believe the vaccine will save lives and others who believe the vaccine will cost lives.  And some that just say they aren’t going to let the government tell them what to do.

What a year!  Well, at least we ended the war in Afghanistan this year.  OK, maybe that wasn’t handled particularly well either.

Crime in most major cities reached record highs this year, based on our tolerance for looting and the notion that the police should probably be defunded.

The whipped cream on top of the year’s sundae is that inflation has now raised its ugly head – so we’ve got that going for us.  We didn’t need the Grinch to steal Christmas, we handled that on our own.  Bring back the poem!

But some good things have happened

Like my reverse mortgage biz

So I think I’ll enjoy

Pops famous ice cream fizz

As a final insult this year, I got a note from Santa in my stocking saying, I’ve read your blog and next year I’m getting you a dictionary, a thesaurus and spellcheck!

So, this New Years, rather than wishing someone a “Happy New Year”, I’m going to wish them a Happier New Year – happier than the last two years!  It’s bound to be . . . right?



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

In the musical, “Carousel”, a young couple sing a song about their future, when they can look back on a life well lived.  The song contains one of my favorite phrases:  “When today is a long time ago.”  That phrase perfectly summarizes the sentiment of Christmas for me.  The holiday season by its very nature brings forth sentimentality and remembrance of Christmases past.  As usual, Winston Churchill phrased it perfectly when he said, “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing, but of reflection.”


I’ve experienced many good Christmas celebrations, including watching grandchildren’s faces light up on Christmas morning when they see, for a fact, the existence of Santa.  But the most sentimental memories harken back to days long ago.  There are three Christmases that stand out for me, in part because, even at the time, I knew that one day I would look back on them with a special fondness.  The first was in 1971, when, as the photo clearly illustrates, my brothers and I were a lot younger.  But that Christmas was special because our brother Jack and his family came home for the holidays.  His job had taken him to Canada that year, so we had gone months without seeing him and his family.  We had so much fun, finally gathered in one place again, with a renewed appreciation for being together.

The second Christmas I remember fondly was ten years later – 1981.  It had been an eventful decade, with some rough marital challenges, so Christmas Eve ended up being just our parents, us three kids, and Bob’s wife, Linda.  We had a very long cocktail hour, followed by a delicious dinner, and then someone (I think it was Bob) suggested that we go Christmas caroling in our parents’ neighborhood.  Everyone except our mom (who was more reluctant than the rest of us to make a fool of herself) serenaded all of their friends in the area.  I think we brought our own refreshments, and then people invited us in for more, and all I remember is Dad singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” with much gusto as we wandered down the street, laughing all the way.  Remembering that night still brings a smile to my face.

Finally, in 2000, I remember Christmas with sentimentality and a bit of sadness.  Dad’s heart was weak, he had lost a lot of weight, and we knew his time was short.  We gathered at Bob and Linda’s house, Pop dressed up in a green sweatsuit, just like an elf.  Despite this rather poor photo of him, he was in his usual cheerful mood. He was very tired and early in the evening, as the rest of us gathered at the outside bar, Pop decided to take snooze in the family room recliner.  When I went into the house to check on him, he was dozing, but awake enough that he took my hand, and told me how much he loved me.  He died just four weeks later.  Christmas has not been the same since.

We pay homage to him each time we’re together, re-telling stories or invoking some of his hilarious quips.  And each Christmas we fix Pop’s Christmas Ice Cream fizz.  It was one of his specialties and he made it every Christmas morning.  It is delicious, and fattening, as all good treats should be.  Unlike Christmas cookies or pies, the fizz has the added benefit of making you feel just a little bit better.  Sometimes that can come in handy on Christmas morning. So, this year we are once again sharing his recipe so that you and your family might also enjoy this wonderful tradition.

Bob and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.  Many of you will be able to gather together again this year and that alone makes it a Christmas worth remembering, when Christmas 2021 is a long time ago.



Fill a blender 1/4 full of ice cubes

Add 6 jiggers of gin

Add 4 scoops of French Vanilla ice cream

Add 1 small bottle of soda water (the size you get in a 6-pack)

My brother Bob adds an egg, so the white adds some froth, brother Jack doesn’t add an egg.  Personally, I’d add it just because you can then claim it’s a protein drink.

Just blend it well and – voila – you have a concoction sure to put a positive spin on everyone and everything!

Our mom served them in a wine glass with a dash of nutmeg.  As we got older, we would conspire with Pop and ditch the wine glass for a chilled beer mug from the freezer. Saved having to go back for seconds…or thirds.



Tahoe – The Rest of the Story

by Bob Sparrow

(Post is a continuation from the post on November 29)

Linda at Emerald Bay

Circumnavigating the Lake

It was another horrible day in paradise – clear blue, cloudless sky on a cool crisp fall morning at the most beautiful alpine lake in the country, where we decided to take the day to drive around the lake and hit some old haunts that we’ve not visited in years.  The minute we walk out of our room we are engulfed in a butterscotch/pine smell that tells us we are not in Kansas anymore.

Going up the ‘west shore’, our first stop is Emerald Bay, where we pull over at an observation turn-out and soaked up the spectacular view.  As we cruised along the lake-side road, just before arriving in Tahoe City we turn up Chinquapin Lane and stop at a cabin that I used to own with my college roommate, Ken Poulsen.  We head up the road less than a mile and come to Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge, one of the great lakeside restaurants.  We were going to have lunch there, but it is only open for dinner during this time of year (‘this time of year’ is known as ‘the shoulder’ season – the time between the end of summer and the opening of ski season).  We head into Tahoe City and plan to eat at Jake’s on the Lake, but the  ‘shoulder season’ strikes again, only open for dinner.  We stop at the location of brother, Jack’s restaurant, The Off Shore Bar & Grill, which is now office space.

Sunnyside during the summer

Sunnyside last week

Just out of Tahoe City heading east is a condo project, sitting high above the road, called Rocky Ridge, which affords those in the front condos the most spectacular view of the lake I’ve seen.  It is where Suzanne’s and my parents’ ashes rest.  Although it has a guard gate that doesn’t allow anyone in without the gate combination, we were able to talk a maintenance man into letting us in.  We got to pay our respects to my folks.

Finally, lunch at GarWoods

We continued around the lake still looking for lunch and finally found Gar Woods Grill & Pier and sat on the deck overlooking the lake and had a great lunch before we headed into Nevada, where we were first greeted by Cal-Neva.  Well, we weren’t really greeted since it’s been closed for many years now, but still sits above Crystal Bay and was once a great hotel and casino owned in part by Frank Sinatra, unfortunately, the other part was owned by Chicago mobster, Sam Giancana.  Someday it will reopen and I hope to be one of its first guests.

We continued around the lake into Incline Village and stopped at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino to try our hand at some games of chance – some of us were luckier than others.  We completed the last leg of the trip as we were coming down the east side of the lake to South Shore as the sun was just setting behind the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  A spectacular sunset on a fabulous day!!

Genoa Lakes

Linda at Budd’s lot

When packing for this trip we weren’t sure of the weather, so we packed golf clubs and ski jackets and wondered if we’d have to play golf in our ski jackets.  We didn’t, it was shorts and golf shirt weather at Genoa Lakes Golf Club on ‘the other side of the mountain’.  Prior to teeing off, we visited our good friends, Jack & JJ Budd’s, lot on the golf course – awesome view!

After making our donations at Harrah’s, Harvey’s, Hard Rock, and various other casinos around the lake, and having seen all the old haunts, we decided that we had seen everything we wanted to see, done everything we wanted to do and lost all the money we had with us, so . . . we decided to head home on Wednesday, which we did.

It was a beautiful, short and sweet, five-day trip, and it’s always nice to get home into air that we can sink our teeth into!





By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

It’s the time of year that finds many of you in the throes of holiday shopping.  That is, if you can find anything on the shelves.  I bought some Christmas cards for the family the other day and noticed that there were a lot more “slip the money in the slot” cards this year.  Money always fits and never has to be returned, but it’s not much fun to open.  So, for those of you who like to actually give a gift, we offer the 2021 edition of our Useless Christmas Gift Guide.

It seems that everyone is on a health kick these days, trying to take off the extra pounds packed on during COVID.  We offer Kale Candy Canes as a gift that won’t be forgotten.   It’s a genuine two-fer: a candy and a vegetable!  That said, I wouldn’t recommend giving these to your grandchildren, lest you be forever branded as the grandparent that gives really lousy candy.

If you are living with someone who has put on the aforementioned extra weight, we strongly recommend that you not make mention of it.  But if you are foolish enough to do so, we suggest you stock up on bandages for the resulting scrapes and bruises.  What could be better than Bacon Bandages?  The problems may set in when you have to explain why you are wearing bacon, but hey, you got yourself into this mess so you can get yourself out.

A lot of people discover new ailments, many of them imagined after watching infomercials on TV.  If you are living with a hypochondriac, we have found just the right stocking stuffer – the hypochondriac 50 Things That Might Kill You deck of cards.  The recipient simple shuffles the deck, chooses a card, and then complains of that ailment for the rest of the day.


Of course, if you’re of a certain age, you can blame everything on your bad memory.  But blaming memory issues on someone else calls for a deft hand.  After all, you don’t want to insult them by mentioning their seeming incoherence, especially during the holidays.  So much like you might offer a breath mint to someone who just ate tzatziki sauce, we suggest you offer them Memory Mints.  These are extra-strength, which comes in handy if you’re hosting your in-laws and have heard the same story 50 times.  These mints could save your marriage.


We’ve all seen the news lately where gangs of thieves are bursting into stores to rob them.  As you are out doing your holiday shopping it pays to be on alert and to protect yourself as best you can.  To ensure your safety we suggest the Switchblade Spork.  It will come in handy as you celebrate a holiday meal but can instantly transform into a deadly weapon.  Sort of.  No guarantees.


And who among us hasn’t acted a bit snippy lately?  It’s hard to find good news and we’re all tired of pandemic panic.  As mentioned in a previous post, there has been a rise in rude behavior, road rage and generally bitchy moods.  Speaking with some degree of authority on this, I’m tired of saying, “I’m sorry”.  How much easier to deal with an apology if we simply use the Apology form?  It covers everything from, “I forgot” to “I’m a schmuck”.  There’s even a place to check to indicate whether you will – or will not – ever commit that infraction again.  You might want to stock up on these.

Finally, and I hate to beat a dead horse here, but it has been a trying couple of years.  Many of us could use a little polish on our social skills.  Our final recommendation is a classic: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.  It’s an oldie, but a goodie, and I think should be handed out free at the DMV.  Or Starbucks.  Anywhere that might get to the greatest amount of people in the shortest amount of time.  We are hanging onto civilization by a thread these days.

I hope this list helps make your holiday shopping a bit easier.  Or at least provided a laugh.  Next time:  Pop’s famous Christmas Ice Cream Fizz recipe!