Day 34: Work and Walk

It’s Day 34 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

Our bookkeeper, Gina, arrived at our home office this morning.  I told her about my “Papa’s Walk Challenge,” and she said her parents (like Papa) were avid walkers and modeled daily family walks for her.  As a result, Gina is in the habit of taking two to three walks every day.

She told me that morning walks with her dog, Rexie, help jump-start her day.  She walks in the evening when she gets home from work to clear her mind from the stress of the day. Then, she walks Rexie before bedtime and says it helps her get a good night’s rest.Magnolia

Gina is a breast cancer survivor and is taking some medication that causes fatigue and joint pain.  This morning she was bummed out that due to fatigue she didn’t get up in time to take a morning walk before she started work.  I invited her to join me on a trek through the neighborhood, explaining that we could catch up on the past month’s business highlights along the way.

It was an invigorating change of pace to work and walk, and we covered 2.4 miles in about 45 minutes – and that includes the times we stopped to admire a newly installed garden with whimsical sculptures, and a huge magnolia blossom (see picture at right that Gina took with her iPhone).

We both enjoyed the walk so much that we have decided to start each month’s bookkeeping session with a “Papa Walk.”


Day 33: Metal Moon Walk

It’s Day 33 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

The day flew by and by 11:00 PM, I realized I hadn’t gone for a walk. My son (a musician) moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area from Hollywood and is staying with us temporarily.  I interrupted his guitar practice to see if he’d accompany me on a “Papa Walk” by the light of the waxing moon (82.57% full).  He agreed and we headed out into the cool night air.

As we walked, he talked about the song he’s currently working on for his heavy metal band, Raiju. It’s taken a lot of work, but he said he finally got the timing and speed down.

We talked about some of the heavy metal genres and the summertime venues where fans can see their favorite bands perform including the Summer Slaughter Tour – a venue for extreme heavy metal and death metal music that opens in the San Francisco Bay Area on July 19th.

There’s also the Mayhem Festival (sponsored by Rock Star energy drink) that is touring now.  My son’s friends will be performing with their band, Thrown Into Exile, on the Musician’s Institute Stage in Hollywood, California.  (Both of my sons graduated from M.I.) The Mayhem Festival features a broad range of metal genres including thrash metal, metalcore, power metal, industrial metal, progressive metal, etc.

And of course, there’s the Warped Tour (sponsored by Vans, the skateboard shoe manufacturer) that is currently touring throughout the U.S. and beyond. The tour originally featured punk music, but has evolved to include hardcore, and metalcore acts as well. My other son’s band, Jameson, played the Warped Tour a few years ago.  In addition to music, there are skateboard demonstrations, and lots of vending booths giving it a sort of carnival feel.

WARNING:  THERE BE DRAGONS AHEAD.  If you click on the links above, you’ll be taken to websites that may feature controversial material that is inappropriate for young children, and may offend those who are sensitive, the faint of heart, the politically correct, those who don’t like metal music and the culture that surrounds it, etc. Click at your own risk.



Day 32: Walk ‘n Talk

It’s Day 32 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

On Monday, I was sitting at the dining room table looking out the window and saw a friend walking by my house. I hadn’t seen her in almost two years and waved her to come inside.  Debbi told me that she takes regular walks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and she happened to take a Redwood Shores Bay Traildifferent route that day that brought her by my home. I’m so glad she did!

I have known her since we both were teenagers – our boyfriends (who became our husbands) used to be roommates.  She remembered Papa, and I explained the “Papa’s Walk Challenge.” We decided to walk together this morning and use the time to catch up. We took a two-mile stroll along the Redwood Shores Bay Trail and talked non-stop the entire time.

We saw a few Canadian Geese, ducks, and a robin, but the wildlife took a backseat to our conversation. The time flew by and since we both have a lot more to say – we’ll meet again next Wednesday for another walk.  I’m looking forward to that.  🙂

Day 31: Wreath Walk!

It’s Day 31 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

On my walk today, I noticed a beautiful summer door wreath. I looked for other wreaths and counted a total of seventeen (17) during the course of my jaunt through the neighborhood.  That caused me to wonder about the origin of using a wreath as a door decoration.

wreathAccording to various sources on the Internet, the wreath originated in ancient Persia as a headdress for royalty.  The Greeks and Romans also made crowns of laurel leaves that were worn on celebratory occasions.  In an article at, the author surmised that the transition from “wreaths as a head ornament” to “wreaths as a door decoration” was probably as simple as  someone loving their festival headdress so much that they displayed it by hanging it on the door.

A number of sources explained that in olden times, people of European cultures put wreaths on their doors to identify their home in the same way that house numbers are used today. Each house had a different wreath made from easily accessible natural materials.

On my walk today, I saw round and heart-shaped wreaths made of a variety of flowers and greenery, and even wreaths made from paper, corks, and seashells.  When I got home, I watched a video that shows door wreaths made from a wide variety of materials and recyclables. It also provides a brief history of the door wreath. Click here to watch the video.

I was inspired to make a wreath and found these two sites helpful:

Make A Variety of Door Wreaths  (The possibilities are limitless!)

Wreaths for Kids to Make  (If you have kids – they may enjoy these wreath craft projects.)

What’s on your door?

Day 30: Blackberry Walk!

It’s Day 30 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.      

As I walked today, I passed a blackberry vine that curled from a neighbor’s yard and dangled above the sidewalk. It had  a ripe berry just begging to be picked.  I plucked it from the vine and kept walking as I popped it into my mouth and enjoyed the sweet, refreshing juiciness.blackberry

It reminded me of the summers our family spent on the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta.  There are numerous freshwater tule marches, a network of small islands, sloughs, and levees. Many are bordered with wild blackberry bushes.  (You can watch a really interesting video about the area and the aging levees at the Association of California Water Agencies.)

Papa would anchor the boat close to shore. Then, with buckets in hand, we’d jump into the knee-deep river water and slosh to shore to pick wild blackberries. We’d eat our fill as we picked, and then my mom would use the remaining berries to make a delicious blackberry cobbler. Here’s the  recipe:


2 Tablespoons of cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
1 ½ cups sugar (or use a sugar substitute such as Xylitol)
Juice of one lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
4 cups of blackberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (about ¾ stick)
¼ cup boiling water
Vanilla Ice Cream (to serve with the cobbler)


Preheat oven to 400° F.  Grease an 8-inch casserole dish (about 2” deep) with non-stick cooking spray.

In a bowl, stir together the cornstarch and ¼ cup water until the cornstarch dissolves. Add 1 cup of the sugar (reserving the other ½ cup) and the lemon juice, and mix together. Gently combine the blackberries with the mixture until thoroughly coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish.

In a bowl, combine the flour, the remaining ½ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use your fingers to quickly blend in the butter until the mixture is like coarse meal. Add ¼ cup boiling water and stir the mixture until it just forms a dough. Do not over mix.

Place the casserole dish with the blackberry mixture on top of the stove and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat and carefully drop spoonfuls of the dough on top of the hot mixture. Place the cobbler in the middle of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is a golden color.  (Note: You can put a sheet of foil under the casserole dish to catch any overflow.) Serve the cobbler warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Day 29: Beer Walk!

Day 29 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

Today, as I passed by a driveway, I saw a man perched atop a ladder pouring liquid from a glass measuring cup into a silver aluminum keg. The keg was perched on a high platform.  It had a hose that led from it to a keg perched below it, and then to another keg below that, and finally into a keg that sat on the ground. I could hear liquid boiling and saw steam rising from the contraption.

I stopped and asked him what he was making.  With a big grin he said, “Beer!”  I kidded him that,  “I’ll come back for a cold one when I finish my walk.” Prohibition

I was reminded that Papa’s father helped his neighbor make bootleg whiskey (in the neighbor’s  garage) during Prohibition (1920-1933), when the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption was banned throughout the U.S.  When the booze was ready for delivery, they’d put the bottles in a car that had a roll-back roof, tuck a blanket over them, and load all of the kids on top.  Then, they’d drive around making deliveries – as if they were out on a kid-friendly outing!  When the neighbor’s still blew up, it put them out of business.

Today, home-brewing is all the rage. Learn all about it at the American Homebrewers Association.

Day 27: Where’s Everyone Going?

Saturday was Day 27 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

On a short (1-mile) walk, I saw 3 different families loading their cars for a summer vacation road trip.  Watching the parents and kids lug suitcases, sports equipment, backpacks, and coolers from the house to the car reminded me of the road trips our family used to take.

Papa would load our suitcases and other trip equipment on a rack atop our station wagon and secure it firmly with rope (although that didn’t prevent a suitcase from flying off the rack and onto the road once).

Sometimes he’d get everything packed, and then we’d discover an item or two that had been forgotten. He’d have to unpack and repack to fit it all into the car. I think the delays involved in packing the car were frustrating for Papa. He must’ve reminded  himself to, “Tell Yourself You Like It,” to finish the vexing task so we could hit the road.

Once we were rolling, the songs and games would begin. One of my favorite games was “Far Sighted.” When I was a kid, my eyesight was diagnosed as “far sighted” by the pediatrician. As a child, I imagined that being far sighted was a super-ability to see things in the distance – miles away – and even to see through mountains to what was on the other side.  When I played “Far Sighted,” I would tell my family stories about what I could see beyond the horizon. I loved using my “special skill” to entertain my family on long trips.

I compiled a lot of the games my family played into a book titled, Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities for Turning Travel Time Into Learning Time.  I wish I had copies of the book with me on my walk today, I would’ve given one to each of the families to ensure miles of smiles on their summer road trips.

Day 26: Why Is Bird Poop White?

Day 26 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge

Friday was Day 26 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.  As I walked through the neighborhood, I kept seeing splotches of bird poop all over the sidewalks and streets directly beneath trees and utility wires. I began to wonder why bird poop is white.  When I got home, I looked it up bird poopon the Net and discovered that the white excrement is uric acid, which is essentially equivalent to a mammal’s urine., gave a rather ho-hum explanation: “Mammals excrete waste as urea dissolved in urine, birds excrete it as uric acid, which has a low solubility in water, so it comes out as a white paste.”

An article by Matt Soniak on, had a much more descriptive and fascinating explanation.  Birds have only one opening (called a cloaca) located beneath their tail that is used for excretion, urination, and reproduction. According to the article, “This orificial multitasking explains the dark bullseye that’s often in the center of the white acid waste. That’s the actual “poop” part, or stool. Because the acid and poop are expelled at the same time from the same opening, but from two different bodily systems, they don’t have much time to blend, and you get a bird dropping with two distinct parts that looks like a poor man’s Rorschach test.” Click here to learn more.

Day 25: Emergency Walk!

Day 25 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge!

Today was the last day we had possession of the building Papa built. I went there early this morning to clean up a few remaining things, and as I put some garbage in the dumpster – I noticed a discarded piece of office furniture that was in the way.  I reached in to move it aside and didn’t see a piece of broken glass that was attached to it.  It sliced two deep cuts into the palm of my left hand.  I immediately cleaned the wounds and clapped tissue on them.  I applied pressure and held my hand above my heart to stop the bleeding.  But every time I lowered my hand, the bleeding would begin again.  So, I drove to the emergency room.

I parked on the 5th floor of the parking tower and took the stairs down to the ground floor.  I walked across the huge hospital campus to the emergency room and decided that this was going to count as my “Papa’s Walk” today.

After my wound was assessed and cleaned by the triage nurse, the doctor applied tape and glue to the cuts to seal them shut.  A gauze bandage completed the dressing.  I was up-to-date on my tetanus vaccine, so didn’t need a shot.  (Hooray!)  I walked back across the campus, up 5 flights of stairs (instead of taking the elevator), got into my car and drove home.

The sale of the buildings today, signaled a close to a family era.  I didn’t mind donating a few extra drops of life’s blood in order to seal the deal that will allow us to make the most of Papa’s legacy.


Days 23 & 24: Bankers Box Walks

Days 23 and 24 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge!

Our family made the decision to sell the three office buildings and warehouse spaces that Papa built and/or bought in the Papa at Building1960s, and we close escrow on July 11th.  One of the buildings housed his plumbing company for many years. (In the picture on the left, you can see Papa at the top of the first flight of stairs of the building he built.) After he sold his plumbing company, we continued to use his office to manage the properties that had multiple tenants.

After purging decades’ worth of files last week, I spent the past two days transferring the remaining important and useful contents into bankers boxes.  Then, I had to carry a heavy box down 2 flights of stairs, load it into my van, and climb back up the stairs to get another box.  Rinse and repeat – 37 times!  Now, those boxes have to be carted up the stairs and stored at our new location.  My quads are begging for a reprieve.In between, the “stairmaster” exercises, I’ve walked around the block of this commercial area of the city each day to fulfill my Papa’s Walk Challenge and reflect on the move and the memories.