Wu Wows at Wanda’s Harvest Moon

Squash Art

It was a great party! One of the most unusual culinary experiences I’ve ever had. And I shared it with fun-loving Tucson transplants from around the world.

The Celebration, at least for me, had its genesis when my friend Charles Hedgepeth announced, “Wanda Zhang is hosting a Man Han Imperial Feast at her Oro Valley Harvest Moon Restaurant on October 7 and I’d like you to join me.” This Feast had its origin in China a long time ago and was known as the grandest of all meals. Originally, it lasted for three days and consisted of over 100 eye-appealing mouth-watering dishes from every region in China. “Wanda will downsize it for Tucson,” Charley said, “but an 8-course meal orchestrated by world-class chef Yongdong (Tony) Wu, should be enough to wow you.”
[Read more...]

Unexpected Propositions

My friend, Rick Cunningham, and me

My friend, Rick Cunningham, recently confessed of his delayed naiveté related to an unexpected pickup—a proposition—which went unnoticed by him for nearly thirty minutes at a Michigan Home Depot.

Rick had been slowly chopping down small trees on land fronting a cabin on Half Moon Lake that he and his wife, Mary, just purchased. He was cutting with a chain saw on life support and three large trees still needed attention. If the job was to be completed in his lifetime, he had to buy a new saw. So he stopped work and headed for the store.

While walking toward the chain saw section in a deserted Home Depot aisle, a heavy-set woman in her late fifties, wearing tight jeans and a t-shirt, smiled at him as they passed and sweetly said, “Hello.”
[Read more...]

Hannah Gets a Service Dog

Hannah and Barb

My 16-year-old granddaughter, Hannah Claire Kelly, is working on a project that could earn her The Gold Award—the highest honor given to a Girl Scout. If successful, she will have spent a full year helping train a service dog, a dog that will eventually serve as a life-long companion for a blind person.

On March 3, 2012, Hannah and her mom, Amy, and grandmother, Dot, left from Houston, Texas on a flight to Tampa, Florida. The destination was the South Eastern Guide Dog School in Palmetto, the birthplace of a thirteen-week-old black Labrador retriever, Barb—the smallest of Sparky and Bailey’s eleven-pup litter.

Hannah remembers that it was love at first sight when she initially sighted Barb. An overwhelming moment, her baby, an eighteen-pound bundle of joy, a very mellow, petite puppy. She also fondly recalls the fancy four-course dinner on Saturday night hosted by the School. Three types of families attended the dinner along with their dog, each dog at one of three levels of training. There were those there to pick up a puppy like Hannah, Amy and Dot, families returning their dog after a year of training and a blind person there to take home a well-trained dog.
[Read more...]

Finding the Best Ice Cream in Grand Rapids

During a recent visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, one of my granddaughters, 13-year-old Anneliese “Annie” Kelly Waalkes, asked if she and I could do something special with one of her friends, Morgan Nicole Locke.

“Like go find the best ice cream in Grand Rapids?” I suggested.

Annie responded with an incredulous, “You’re kidding, right Papa?”

“No.” I replied.

Papa, Annie & Morgan

Papa, Annie & Morgan

Annie’s eyes lit up and she rewarded me with a naughty-girl smile, asking if she could call Morgan right away. While it wasn’t said, she knew if she waited too long her parents might kibosh the plan. Hearing Annie repeatedly assure Morgan that this wasn’t a joke only added to the pleasure of a doting grandfather.

[Read more...]