Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We've been building up to this celebration all year: Daughter Deb's 50th Birthday!

Being a practical gal, Deb knew that, if she wanted to celebrate the way she wanted to celebrate (and there's not a thing wrong with that!), she'd have to plan it herself. She wanted all the family there. There aren't many of us, but we are scattered in different states and (especially us) in different lifestyles. Deb's first announcement asked us all when we could plan to be free during this summer / fall. The weekend of August 5-8 turned out to be favorable. Then she spent days / weeks on the Internet locating a site we could all get to reasonably easily. She was looking for some place that could handle the group (expected to be a dozen plus one toddler) and especially a place that we could set up our motorhome.

Deb found a VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) near Fiddletown, California. It's called Manzanita Ranch, largely because of the native manzanita bushes that grow in the area. The house is a log lodge: two stories, with three bedrooms, a huge deck, and a carriage house with an additional apartment, and a Murphy Bed in the downstairs "great room." We would have complete access to the home, it's appliances, the grounds, the grand piano, the hot tub, from Friday afternoon until noon on Monday.

For us, it was perfect! We had planned to be at our other daughter's (Kathie's) college graduation in Reno in May, and to spend time with Deb at her home in Silicon Valley over the Fourth of July. We love to visit California's Gold Country. What more could we ask?!?!?!?

The whole family showed up, except for Grandson Jason's wife, Crystal -- conflicts with her work situation -- and we had a ball.
Here we are parked in front of the house, with water and 20amp electric.
Suzy had to BACK the motorhome down this narrow curved driveway. She did fine!
Deb's guy Albert and Grandson Jason enjoy the view from the read deck.
Evening is coming.
We won't go over day-by-day activities, because you don't care about that. Let's just say we feasted (steak sandwiches, prime rib, grilled salmon, delectable French toast, superb omelets, and plenty of California wines!). Deb and her man Albert provided a "Colombian Special" breakfast -- tri-tip beef, onion and tomato topping, capped with a perfectly done egg-over-medium. (Albert is a Colombian by birth, has lived in the US for many years.)
Preparing ham for my famous omelet -- made enough for 12 people!
Renee and Adam prepared a wonderful French Toast breakfast.
We had an afternoon of games (bite-the-donut-on-the-string with homemade greaseless donuts)...
The target.
Great Grandson Darren sees it ...
...and really wants it!
Grandson Sam gives it some lip.
Granddaughter Renee's Adam just about has it!
Darren gets a little help from his Grandpa Shawn.
... and "Minute To Win It" tasks like stack six dice on a tongue depressor,
Jason has only one more to go.
Cousin Carol closing in on the prize.
... sort the Skittles.
Let's see -- the red ones go to the left,and the green ones go to the right. Where do the yellow ones go?
But mostly we were together. Our family doesn't often get together, not all of us. And that was the best thing.

One special birthday request was that Suzy play the piano for a family sing-along. The girls even bought sheet music of the songs we and they love. With a beautiful instrument like the grand piano, there was no question.
Warming up for the singalong
"Sing, sing a song, make it simple to last your whole life long"
There even was a special visitor to the party: Father Time came in and did his bit with the "Sands of Time" hourglass, the scythe, and the key to Deb's future.

Now, here's the background. One helluva long time ago, I celebrated MY 50th birthday with some family and friends at a restaurant in Phoenix. Deb was living in Los Angeles at the time, a single mother with not a lot of spare money. She couldn't come to the party. However, shortly after we were all seated for dinner, Deb came in, dressed to the nines, followed by a character actor she had hired to play Father Time. He did a wonderful and somewhat ribald bit. I could do nothing this year but provide payback! My routine was hardly "wonderful and somewhat ribald," and my beard was awful -- but Deb was totally caught up in surprise and laughter.
Deb, Jason and Albert enjoying the show.
Did you ever see such a phony beard?
And a word about those greaseless donuts. Suzy's Dad, Papa Tiny, was a baker and a chef and a restaurant owner and a gold miner and a whole lot of other things in his lifetime. At one point, he decided to capitalize on "electro-baked" greaseless donuts in his little coffee shop. He purchased a machine that would bake up to 14 donuts at a time in what looked like odd waffle irons. Suzy eventually ended up with the donut baker and the recipe, and that has passed on now to daughter Kathie. She brought it, made donuts for us to eat ... and for the donuts on a string game.
Kathie pouring the donut batter into the cooker.
Deb had her turn too.
Donuts with a choice of frostings!
All too soon it was time to go. Nobody took pictures as we loaded cars and drove away. But we hold the picture in our hearts.

Now about a birthday only coming once ... or twice -- Deb's actual birthday is next month, so I'm a-guessing there will at least be birthday cards, and maybe her pals at work will sing her a song! She'll have two 50th birthdays!

We'll be moving soon, back to Carson City (for Suzy's next epidural shot), then we'll mosey around in Nevada until the end of the month. That's when daughter Kathie goes in for back surgery; we'll stick around then to see if we can be of any help, or just be in the way. In either case, we need to head back to Benson, AZ to pick up the more sedate portion of ... Our Life on Wheels.


  1. Cool family gathering. I can just imagine all the fun everyone had. Can't beat the location either. :)

  2. Nice story and blog this evening. We rented a large 4 bedroom place in Branson, MO for our 50th wedding anniversary and had all the children and grandchildren spend a week with us there. We had a blast and even the teenage grandchildren said they had a great time much to their surprise. We also used VRBO to find and rent the cabin. Reading your blog brought back many happy memories for us.

    Sounds like you all had a very memorable celebration and family gathering. They are priceless. Tell Deb happy birthday from Gerry and me.

  3. Made me remember my 50th. I had to be in Phoenix on business and my dear friend Vaughn took me to a 50's diner and had them sing to me. You have made such wonderful memories for your family. And especially for Deb.

  4. What a wonderful celebration. I just love family get-togethers more than anything else. Happy birthday to Deb.

  5. Great post and pictures of a wonderful family birthday celebration. I could have sworn I recognized 'Father Time' but he just looked a little 'too young' to be you, Jerry.

    Your meals sounded terrific and the donuts looked pretty tasty too!

    Happy Birthday to Deb - 50 yrs. old is just a kid!

  6. Looks like a wild party. Since it went so well, maybe she could be 50 five or six times:)

  7. What fun! I want one of those greaseless donut makers--do they still make them? I want to be part of your happy family! Maybe Father Time would come and visit me, too?

  8. What a hoot!! I love the looks of those games you played. What wonderful memories you all made. Family times are simply the best.

  9. I like the idea of those greaseless donuts. How many greaseless donuts could I wolf down that would make up for one greasy donut. Is Father Time able to instantly transition through time itself & deliver us a dozen greaseless donuts by lunch time??

  10. Wish I could have been there! Happy birthday to a young 50 :)

  11. A fabulous blog about a great family get together...It rarely happens around here, but when it does, Den and I need a retreat for a week afterward...Sounds like you two may need a little down time too!
    By the way, 50 is the new 30....just sayin'.

  12. The party was indeed fabulous and I'm grateful for having my wonderful family with me. Thanks for all of the birthday wishes and, yes, I like the idea that 50 is the new 30!


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