Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Karin, to Shea: "I love you."

Shea, to Karin: "I love you."

Karin, to Shea: "I love you more."

Shea, to Karin: "I love you more."

Karin, to Shea: "I love you most!"

* beat *

Finn, from out of nowhere: "Well, I love you more than most."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh Yeah, He'd Like You To Know He Surfs Now

Waikiki, August 2008

In the orange rashguard: Finney

In the blue rashguard: his buddy David

In some of the backgrounds: Diamond Head

In my mind the whole time: He's so lucky to be growing up in Hawaii

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Go West, Young Woman

The people in the photo below are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

They're certainly some of the nicest ones I've ever known.

Thankfully, when Vern and Mary Jo met each other back in the 1950s, they agreed they'd make a pretty good pair so they got hitched -- while still in their teens -- and last month celebrated their keen instincts, incredible luck, and 50 years of marriage.

Here they are at their golden wedding anniversary party, surrounded by their friends and family, having just been serenaded by one of their granddaughters who played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for them on the fiddle at sunset overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Yeah, it was one of those moments.

I was 10 years old when I met their youngest daughter, Cari, after the family moved from the San Fernando Valley to San Clemente. We had no way to know it at the time, but the blossoming friendship between the nerdy girl and the new girl would become an enduring one.

Now, thanks to sharing years of special times together, even
our children show a heartwarming closeness.

Mary Jo and Vern have always kindly included me at their many family functions over the years -- whether a relaxed barbecue at San Onofre, a Sunday family dinner, their annual Fourth of July party or a Rockwellian Thanksgiving feast -- and even hosted my bridal shower in their gorgeous home a month before I married John. I think of them as my second family, and they've always treated me as one of their own.

This sense of warm inclusion has trickled down even to Finnegan, who promptly reported when someone announced at the party it was time for all the grandchildren to be photographed together. So here are all of Mary Jo and Vern's nine grandchildren, plus one extra Irish one for luck.

We were honored to be included on the guest list for Vern and Mary Jo's momentous celebration and even postponed our return to Hawaii this summer just to make sure we were there to raise our glasses in their honor. We wouldn't have missed it for anything.

You can see a slide show of the fun time we all had together at Casa Romantica by clicking this link.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Paying Our Respects To The Institution

If you read the last post, then the topic of this one will come as no surprise; after gorging ourselves at Philippe's, we drove up the hill to Dodger Stadium and took in a evening game from the top deck seats.

We were joined by Brian, Geri, cousin Reilly and Reilly's older cousin Danny... well as Aunties Gretchen and Jody.

After weeks of preparation, Shea learned all the words to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and made us all proud as she sang them during the seventh inning stretch.

And once again, we lasted a full eight innings.

Which was more than enough time to put the Giants in their place.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A French Dip, A Piece Of LA History, And A Slice Of Heaven, Please

As I've written about here before, for our family no trip to see the Dodgers play would be complete without a trip beforehand to one of LA's classic establishments, Philippe's.

Here, then, is a photo tour of our gastronomical pilgrimage last month. I only wish this blog had the capacity to share samples with you.

Then we could swoon together.

This somewhat nondescript white building on the corner of N. Alameda and Ord holds 100 years of tradition and deliciousness. (Technically, Philippe's opened in 1908 but didn't get to this location until 1951.)

Hungry patrons queue informally between long, wooden tables. On busy days and nights, every one of those tables are full and every one of those lines is twice as long. If you look close you can see John and Shea holding hands in line behind the first pillar, with Finn a few steps behind them.

On the middle shelf against the back wall you'll notice nearly a full row of Philippe's famous mustard. As they say, it's "hot, but good." So true. On the counter in the foreground, an entire container of pickled eggs, brining in their magenta deliciousness.

Uniformed and gloved servers do it all for you: take your order, make your sandwiches, scoop your salads, fill your drinks, and deliver your money -- which you place on the palm tree tray -- to the cashier, behind, in pink. Cash only, baby.

Back row: Scoop of potato salad, scoop of coleslaw. Front row: Two pickled eggs, one kosher pickle. Tall glass of ice-cold lemonade. Not pictured: One turkey and Swiss double dipped french dip sandwich; one lamb and blue cheese single-dipped french dip sandwich; homemade beef stew with tons of chunky veggies; one slice of pecan pie.

Fruit salad, yummy yummy. How did she know I wanted the one with the big kiwi slice on top?

Iced teas and lemonades, frequently purchased, are already prepared for servers. Our beer, however, was freshly draughted.

Finn flashes his best smile in hopes of scoring one of those cinnamon-sprinkled tapiocas in the front row.

At our table and excitedly about to dig in. Look closely and you'll notice the patron at the table behind us has a Giants baseball cap unapologetically resting on his table. At a notorious Dodger establishment. But the food's so good nobody seems to mind.

Remind me to tell you the now-legendary-in-our-family "pecan pie" story from years ago the next time I see you.

They even have an old-fashioned candy counter where we always stock up on goodies for the ballgame. And yes, that's sawdust on the floor.

Top two rows: The real candy, circa 2008.
Bottom four rows: The original merchandising display stickers, worn and weathered, that used to indicate which Life Savers were stocked there, back in the day.

Did you know they used to make Clove Life Savers? Me neither.

The view towards the main entrance from inside. On the right, antique wooden phone booths. Out front, the restaurant's famous striped awnings.

No doubt she gained at least a few extra ounces dining on all the goodness Philippe's has to offer. The antique scale will tell for sure.