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.”
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The Eradicator & His Sweet Thang

When our La Paloma neighbors and friends, Ken and Maureen Hake, invited us to spend two days with them at their remote cabin in North Central Nebraska, my wife, Helen, and I jumped at the opportunity. It was a part of the world we had never explored. And, Ken and Maureen are game people, our kind of people. But little did we know what a special treat this experience—spending time with Ken and Maureen in this very unique environment—would turn out to be.

The Hake’s three-year-old, well-designed 900 sq ft cabin is the perfect destination point for two couples who want to get lost in nature, play games and to get to know, to really get to know, each other better. The cabin is located in a pristine forest of ancient Ponderosa Pine on the edge of a fertile 260 ft canyon wall. While we couldn’t confirm it, Ken claims that a meandering stream teeming with native brown and rainbow trout awaits anyone who ventures a long slide down the steep canyon walls. The official mailbox is Long Pine, NE, but to access their forest home, one must drive ten miles on a dirt road north off Highway 20.

If you were blindfolded and airlifted into the cabin, it would be easy to believe that you were in the mountains of Colorado. It’s a very special place with a plethora of both whitetail and mule deer, giant turkeys, porcupines, blue birds, pine martins, rattlesnakes, bobcats and more. At night, the stars come to visit and put on a spectacular display of lights. The sunrises from our bedroom are what I would love to see when I wake up in the morning every day for the rest of my life.
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The Gold Award

Hannah says it’s for the Gold Award. I say it’s for the puppy. You decide.

I saw it first on a Facebook post by one of my granddaughters. “Hannah Claire Kelly is going to get a dog!!! :) SO HAPPY, life is good.” Could it be really be? I thought any chance of that was kyboshed many years ago. But as I read the FB comments to her post, I realized it wasn’t a done deal; at least not yet.

Hannah has been an avid girl scout for the last nine years. She also has a very special connection with dogs. If it had been up to her, there would have been a family dog for all of the fifteen years of her life. But after Mandy—a pet golden retriever who died when Hannah was seven—her parents said, “No more dogs.”

Hannah could have lived with that decision. That is until she read the story about a young lady who had trained a guide dog. It was the featured story in The Golden Link, a monthly magazine published by the Girl Scouts. The Texas teenager provided a foster home for a nine-week-old puppy; raising him until he was sixteen months old. During that time, she taught the dog 40+ commands and exposed him to many types of social situations. For this community service, she received The Gold Award—the highest honor you can receive as a Girl Scout.

Hannah had worked hard for her bronze and silver award. Now she knew how to get the gold. But the biggest hurdle to getting a dog (a golden retriever or a lab) would be her dad.
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Books with Rose Mary

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with a long-time Tucson book club called “Books with Rose Mary.” Rose Mary Blaha had only a few days ago read “Growing Up In Mama’s Club” and wanted her group of passionate readers to know about my story. She gave my book a five-star review on Amazon.com, saying she could not put the book down.

Our meeting started promptly at 4:00 pm at Applebees near the Tucson Mall. Rose Mary introduced me to the group, telling me that I should tell a bit of my story. It took only a few minutes, before it was non-stop questions and interesting observations. Liz Leggett wanted to know how my negative experience with religion as a child had impacted my view of religion today and asked how she could get a copy of the book. Mary Letts was curious about why the Club believes only 144,000 will go to heaven. Jan Graunke grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska, which ironically was the city my sister, Mary Lyn, was living in when she was murdered. Sophie Katz and Betty Griffis shared their thoughts about organized religion and both purchased copies of my book. Prudy Cain mentioned that alot of people claim to be agnostics but on their death bed, most of them are praying to a Higher Power. She also commented that she was looking forward to reading my book.

All in all, it was fun to be the center of attention for an afternoon and I look forward to getting feedback on my book from the ladies in “Books with Rose Mary.”