Archive for December 2012

The Best of MowryJournal: 2012   6 comments

Here’s a list of my top blog posts of this year.  A few things this teaches me:

* The # 1 post for the year is a collection of Kyle Duffy’s pictures of the landing of Space Shuttle Endeavour.  Great pictures; check them out if you haven’t already.

* What primarily attracts people to MowryJournal … are words.  Who knew?  I write stuff, and you read.  Thank you for your attention!

* Please note that a couple of posts from MrsMowry are in the top 15 … so her quality is complementing my quantity nicely.

* Some of the things I care about don’t get much response (I note none of the Portraits series are in the top 15).  As one of my first favorite bands said, “It don’t matter to me…”  I’m going to keep writing about the things I’m passionate about.  Take what you like, ignore the rest.

I mean, who doesn’t?  🙂

Here are links to the top 15 posts of 2012:

Space Shuttle Endeavour

I am an Eagle Scout

Orange Liqueur Taste Test

My President


Our University-Obsessed Society


John Wooden’s Statue

2012: It’s a Wonderful Year

Black and White

Babies Have It Easy

The Perfect Sunset

Your Family Tree

The Use and Abuse of Facebook

Hawaii’s Botanical Gardens

Any suggestions on what you’d like to see us cover in 2013?  Please leave comments, thoughts & suggestions!

The Morning Run, II   Leave a comment

San Francisquito Creek Trail, Santa Clarita, CA

What Comes Next?   2 comments

Love big ideas.  Lov’em.

Big ideas require big efforts to achieve them.  Check.

Big ideas require lots of time for prep and execution.  Check.

Big ideas are extremely gratifying: they are worth the effort and time.

You with me?

I’ve accomplished a few big ideas in my day … I’ve written about losing weight to go backpacking with my boys at Philmont.  I’ve written about the 2012 plan.  The latest big idea is completing the family photo scrapbooks for each of our four families … and that project will be DONE by December 31.

And I do know one more thing about big ideas … when they’re done, I need another one.  I have no time to live in the past.  I can only focus on what’s in front of me.

So, what comes next?

  • Woodworking … like the projects I didn’t get done for Christmas?
  • Re-doing the downstairs ceilings … because the cottage cheese has got to go?
  • Landscaping, because I have a growing hatred of wax leaf privets? (love it when puns happen organically) (sometimes I kill me)
  • Getting ready for marathon # 9?

I love big ideas … but sometimes it is disappointing that I can’t live without one or more of them in front of me!

Centennial Park   Leave a comment

Portraits: Warren G Harding   Leave a comment

Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865 – 1923)

The 29th President of the United States, 1921 – 1923

AKA: No nicknames found

From: Ohio

College: Ohio Central College

Married to: Florence King

Children: Marshall (a step-son)

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: journalist, teacher, insurance man, Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, Senator

In His Words:  “In the great fulfillment we must have a citizenship less concerned about what the government can do for it and more anxious about what it can do for the nation.”

“Let the black man vote when he is fit to vote; prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote.”

“Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for it too little.”

“The black man should seek to be, and he should be encouraged to be, the best possible black man and not the best possible imitation of a white man.”

“I don’t know what to do or where to turn in this taxation matter. Somewhere there must be a book that tells all about it, where I could go to straighten it out in my mind. But I don’t know where the book is, and maybe I couldn’t read it if I found it.”

Photo of Harding's Painter,, 1922Not true: A quote frequently attributed to Harding is not his quote; it was actually an exchange between a journalist and Senator Boies Penrose, 1919:

“I don’t know much about Americanism, but it’s a damn good word with which to carry an election.”

“What is Americanism?” “Damn if I know, but it’s going to be a damn good word with which to carry an election.”

True: Harding married the daughter of his political rival … and his father-in-law disowned the couple, and did not speak to them for 8 years.

Nine years later, his father-in-law secretly bought Harding’s debt and tried to call the loans for immediate payment.

Harding was nominated on the tenth ballot at the Republican Convention, and Mrs. Harding was so startled she accidentally stabbed her husband’s campaign manager with her hat pins.

Harding was the first sitting Senator elected President.

Warren G. Harding was the first president to give a speech over the radio.

Some conspiracy theorists believe Harding was killed, or perhaps the victim of medical malpractice.  The truth is we don’t know, and his wife insisted on an immediate autopsy, with the President’s body embalmed and on its way to its final rest within hours.

The Official Portrait: Edmund Hodgson Smart painted the official White House portrait of Harding in June, 1922.  Smart was famous for painting world leaders, and also painted Kiing Edward VII of Britain, Marshall Foch of France and Admiral William Sims of the US Navy.

Warren Harding, Presidential Portrait

Warren Harding signature

Christmas Debris   1 comment

Posted December 26, 2012 by henrymowry in Living Life, Photography

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2012: It’s A Wonderful Year   7 comments

It was a year of completion.  It was a year of beginnings.  And, thankfully, a year of celebration.  Here was the Mowry’s 2012:

UCLA's Dinner with 12 Strangers

UCLA’s Dinner with 12 Strangers

The first domestic crisis of the year happened on January 1.  Velda’s breadmaker jumped off the kitchen counter, ending its service to the Mowry home.  Pizza lovers and homemade bread lovers everywhere were saddened … but here we are now in December, the sourdough starter is once again growing, and wonderful bread is again coming out of the oven.  Still no new breadmaker, though!

In February, Velda hosted Dinner for 12 Strangers.  It’s a wonderful event that UCLA coordinates worldwide.  You sign up, specify what kind of strangers you want to invite to dinner (Velda asked for students in the health services field), and then UCLA sent them to us!  We had a pizza night, and a good time was had.  We ended the evening with Velda receiving some great swag: an apron from UCLA!  We all did the 8-clap (UCLA’s signature cheer), and the students took away some of the best homemade pizza – and Mowry Cookbooks! – to remember us by.

Another project we started in February was the clean up of our north slope.  Several years ago we had planted a California pepper tree there … and that was a mistake.  These trees are good SoCal trees, but they have many surface roots, and we planted the tree on the slope, within a couple of feet of the ornamental block wall we share with our uphill neighbor.  Years later, the roots broke the wall … which meant the wall had to be rebuilt, and the tree had to go.  I then took the slope back to bare dirt, and then tried to make it pretty with new bushes.  It worked!  Here are the before and after pictures.2012 - Baby Shower

March 5 was when preparation for the newest Mowry shifted into high gear.  It was Payton’s baby shower!  We hosted lots of family & friends at our favorite neighborhood restaurant, Bella Cucina,  Alley’s sister Lyndsey made a surprise appearance with her two kids.  A good time was had by all!  My contribution to our new granddaughter was a cradle.  Velda created a quilt & bumper set.  You might say we were a bit excited to welcome Payton to the family!The Mowry Cradle

We have a wind chime on our front step that hummingbirds like to build nests on top of.  It’s happened two years in a row, so it must be some kind of special wind chime.  March 12 was the day of the first flight for the two new birds.  Here are a couple of pix from that day.

Two fledglings, almost ready to leave the nest.

Two fledglings, almost ready to leave the nest.

That first step....

That first step….

The first flight

The first flight

Payton Elizabeth Mowry joined our family early on April 14.  Words can’t express how our hearts have swelled because of that young lady.  I could post a few hundred photos, right?

At arm's length

And the celebration part of this year got going immediately!

May 12 was the official conclusion of our 2012 plan. This plan started in 1997 when Velda returned to college to get her Bachelor’s.  Fifteen years later, Velda, Christopher, Michael and Lauren all had their degrees:

  • Velda got her BS in Nursing at Cal State Northridge, and then her MS in Nursing from UCLA
  • Christopher got his BA in Psychology from Cal State LA
  • Michael got his BS in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA.  He’s almost finished with his MS in Engineering from USC
  • Lauren got her BA in Psychology from Sonoma State

Payton in AugustAnd the celebration continued!  After attending Lauren’s graduation, Velda and I stayed in Napa to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary.  Then we pulled a U-Haul south to move Lauren out of her apartment and back home to SoCal. We are empty nesters no more!Payton Pumpkins

After marking the conclusion of the 2012 plan, it was time for a new beginning.  This blog launched on June 22.  We quickly explored how to make a Perfect Margarita.  I still don’t think I’m done with that project, but the family sure has enjoyed the process (well, except for Lauren, who decided tequila was not for her).

The blog grew in several directions, including my sharing lots of photography. Now, almost 6 months later, has generated over 6,000 views and attracted over 100 followers.  Thank you all for reading the thoughts of both MrsMowry and myself, and for sharing your thoughts and comments as well.  I can’t wait to see where the blog goes next!

Velda and I had a great summer vacation, meeting my sister and brother-in-law in Aspen for a long weekend.  We survived the heat spell, took a train ride in Leadville, and had a wonderful time with family.  From Denver, we began a driving vacation, visiting Velda’s first cousin, Evelyn Hepler.  The cousins had never met, and we were able to spend a wonderful afternoon scanning pictures and getting to know Evelyn and her family!  We then spent several days driving across Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.  We visited family, enjoying our time that proved to be much too short.  Isn’t that always the case?

This rainy, cloudy day didn't have a lot of great pictures, but I did get this one when the blue skies peaked out!

This rainy, cloudy day didn’t have a lot of great pictures, but when the gray cleared, I did get this one of the Colorado sky!

In August, we did a family getaway to San Diego.  We stayed at a waterfront hotel and visited SeaWorld for the first time in many years.  We had a great dinner in Old Town, found a wonderful tequila store and had fun with the family, celebrating the conclusion of the 2012 plan.  All had sacrificed to help family members achieve our big goal, and it was time for Velda & I to say thanks.

And the celebration continued!

Velda and I continue in our same jobs:  she’s with Kaiser Continuing Care, as she has been for several years.  I continue to work from home for Smarts Broadcast Services, which is a radio software company based in Emmetsburg, IA.  I’ve been their Director of Marketing since 2011.  Life is good!

Each of our kids found more challenge in their professional lives this year.  Here’s a quick summary:

Christopher still works for LA County as a Recreation Supervisor, though he’s just transferred from supervising the 12 natural areas in the northern part of the county, including Devil’s Punch Bowl, back to a park he’s worked at before:  Placerita Canyon Park.Payton helping hunt for a Christmas tree

Alley continues to work for the city of Palmdale.  They work a 4-day workweek, which helps with the childcare juggling that she and Christopher are doing.

Michael changed jobs this year, and now works for Crane Aerospace & Electronics in Burbank.  He’s currently involved in the design of fuel pump parts for aircraft engines.

Brianna has finished her teaching certificate, and is currently substitute teaching.  She hopes to find a permanent position next fall teaching junior high music & English.

Eric continues to grow his company, finding both new customers and expanding the business from his current aerospace industry clients.  He and his brother Bobby are doing a great job managing the family business.

Lauren has smoothly transitioned back to Santa Clarita, and is now working for Sunshine Daycare, which is affiliated with many of the elementary schools here in Santa Clarita.  After starting with a group of second graders, she’s now taken charge of the third graders. She’s loving the challenge!

Mowry, Payton, Santa 2012The end of the year was filled with my push towards completing the Hepler family photo scrapbook, which I’ve written about a few times (and will again!).  This book chronicles the family of Harry Baptiste Hepler and Marguerite Clark, and their 25 grandchildren.  The book has grown to 207 pages, and I am both pleased as punch that it is done, and anxious to get it printed and in the mail – which should be done by New Year’s Eve!  This book marks the end of a 5-year project (you see, this is a year of completion).  The project began with the Mowry family in 2007, then continued with the Shull family, also 2007, the Chucalo family in 2011 and now the Hepler family.  I now have many family tree loose ends to tie up, but I’m very happy that our genealogical photo collection is digitally stored, backed up … and 220 gigs of data.  That’s been a journey, let me assure you.

Christmas promises to be very special this year, with a new member of the family to spoil, and cousins from Missouri and Illinois coming out to enjoy a few days of SoCal sunshine.  A highlight event will be the whole gaggle of us going to see the Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team take on the UCLA Bruins at the new Pauley Pavillion.  I went to Missouri (class of 1978), but my money definitely went to UCLA … so I’m a little conflicted about which team to root for.

Only a little.  Go Tigers!

So, just as the title suggested, 2012 has been — and still is! — a wonderful year. Happy Holidays to all, and here’s to an even more exciting 2013!


The family had a November photo shoot at Vasquez Rocks, and the Southern California weather was not its normal sunny self. We had great fun doing the shoot, and came out only slightly moist.

Grandma’s Bedroom Window   Leave a comment

The Mowry farm, circa 1955

The Mowry farm, circa 1955

We lived about a quarter mile away from Grandma & Grandpa’s house.  And we had to go there on Christmas Eve.  I was probably 4 years old.

Didn’t my parents know I had more important things to do on Christmas Eve?

At our house, Santa delivered the presents on Christmas Eve, and we opened them after dinner.  Santa had a lot of homes to visit, and we were one of the lucky early deliveries. That’s just the way it was.

But this day, THIS DAY, we had to go to Grandma’s house.  That was not my plan.  I wanted to be alert for when Santa came to our house.  I had just figured it out, you see, that if I just stayed alert, I would get to see Santa bring me my model train. I could meet Santa in my house.

Alert.  Vigilant.  That’s me.

So we were at Grandma’s, but I spent the whole visit looking out of her bedroom window, keeping an eye on our house so I would see when Santa got there.

Alert. Vigilant.  That’s me.

All day, I stared out that window.  Hours and hours of tedium.

And when we got back home, wouldn’t you know it, Santa had already delivered my toy train, which was sitting in the middle of the living room.  Which was great … but why didn’t I see Santa?  I was watching!  I was really watching! Santa, how did I miss you?

Merry Christmas!

Yes, Santa drinks Coca-Cola.  Well, maybe Diet Coke today ... just like me!

Yes, Santa drinks Coca-Cola. Well, maybe Diet Coke today … just like me!

Posted December 24, 2012 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Minneapolis-Moline Tractor   3 comments

George Price with his Minneapolis-Moline tractor, 1964

George Price with his Minneapolis-Moline tractor, 1964

Posted December 23, 2012 by henrymowry in Photography

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The Contraption   3 comments

In all of the photos I've collected in my genealogical travels, this one is the strangest.  John Mowry and Isaac Bond are the names of the builders ... but what is it?  Where is it? Why is it?

In all of the photos I’ve collected in my genealogical travels, this one is the strangest. John Mowry and Isaac Bond are the names of the builders … but what is it? Where is it? Why is it?

Posted December 22, 2012 by henrymowry in Genealogy, Photography

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