Friday, November 23, 2007

Thankful to be so Thankful!

Thanksgiving 2007

Dear Friends and Family,

In thinking over our many blessings this year, it came to me that I am thankful for being thankful, that is, I am thankful that I have so many things for which to be thankful and for the ability to recognize them as such. There are those in this world who know hunger and thirst. We have known neither. There are those who lack shelter. We have never lacked a roof over our head. There are those who suffer under oppressive political regimes and live in fear for their lives. We have never experienced what that oppression and fear is like.

Beyond lacking necessities, there are those who lack the ability to obtain the “non-necessity necessaries” that make our lives both interesting and rewarding. We have never lacked these either. There are those who want to travel but lack the means. We lived in countries around the world for 25 years—Spain, Italy, Canada, Japan. We visited dozens of others. We travel around the states virtually at will to see family and friends.

Perhaps saddest of all, there are those who lack companionship. The world is full of lonely people. We have friends and family who care about us and enjoy spending time with us. This is an incalculable source of richness and joy in our lives. May we never take any of these things for granted, but above all, may we never take each other for granted and the love and friendship we share.

—We love and appreciate all of you!—

Moreover, may we find a way to befriend those lonely ones all around us, bringing the warmth of human companionship to their hearts.

May this Thanksgiving and the days, weeks, and months ahead, be the most thankful of all our lives. May the One who makes all this thankfulness not only possible but obligatory grant us the desires of our heart to share the love that comes from above one with another.

Love from Denver

A Turkey By Any Other Name

The following is an article I wrote some years ago on Thanksgiving that may be of interest:

Thanksgiving Day 2004

Dear Family and Friends,
The column that follows is my latest Hebrew "Word of the Week,” which I have been writing for a few months. Also, there's a "Rest of the Story" to this column relating to our family and its India connection. (Note for non-family: Kathy’s father and his five siblings grew up in India at a school in the Himalayas for missionary kids. Coincidentally, Kathy’s mother grew up at the same school, where she met Kathy’s father!)
It seems that the meaning of Tarnegol Hodu in Hebrew is Indian Chicken. (Through a delightful coincidence the word Hodu also means "Give Thanks,” in addition to referring to the nation of India. Our Jewish friends eat turkey (Indian Chicken) during Purim in reference to King Ahasuerus, who reigned from India (Hodu) to Ethiopia (Cush) according to the first verse of the book of Esther.
Many languages use variations of the English word Turkey (we use the same word for the bird as for the country). Interestingly, in Turkey, turkey is called Hindi, which means "coming from India"! In Catalan, it is gall dindi or Indian cock. In Basque it is Indian hen. Many languages refer to turkey as Indian chicken, rooster, or hen. In Russian it is Indiuk and in Yiddish Indik (both relating to India). Danish, Dutch, and Finnish, among other languages, refer to the bird using the name of a town on the southern Indian coast (Danish kalkun).
Some languages go far afield of either Turkey or India. Portuguese calls the bird Peru, in reference to another country a world away. Standard Arabic makes reference to India, but two dialects call the bird "Ethiopian" or "Abyssinian" roosters. Malaysians call it "Dutch chicken." Finally, in Macedonian, the word for the bird is misir (the Turkish word for Egypt—Arabic for Egypt is Misr and Hebrew is Mitzrayim).

A few languages pay no attention to country. In Chinese, the term "fire chicken" may come from the red coloring around the face. Japanese shichimenchou means something like "seven-faced bird." This may make reference to the various colors reflected by the turkey’s wattle.
Spanish pavo comes from the incorrect association of the bird with the peacock (which could also be the source of the India connection. Pavo Cristatus is a large pheasant native to India.) It was our mistaken identity of the turkey as a type of Guinea fowl (and a belief that those birds originated in the country of Turkey) that led to our word for the bird.
Now that I have everyone thoroughly confused, let me mention one more delicious (!) irony. The turkey is a native North American bird, yet most languages of the world associate it with India. Seems a certain Italo-Spanish explorer made a similar mistake in the 15th century! So we have one more Native American designated with an Indian misnomer!
Having traveled around the world linguistically, let's get back to Hebrew and remember that Hodu also means "Give Thanks," so the next time some jokester casually wishes you a "Happy Turkey Day," remember that he or she is really saying “Happy Hodu Day” or "Happy Giving-Thanks Day!"
Hope this whets your appetite for a juicy bird this Thanksgiving—no matter what you call it! Happy Thanksgiving, Jim


Davar HaShavua
The Word of the Week
I love Thanksgiving. It is the one holiday set aside by our American forefathers (and foremothers!) to give thanks to the Creator for all the blessings bestowed upon us.

This week’s word is Hodu. Hodu in Hebrew means “Give thanks,” as in “Hodu L’Adonai Ki Tov Ki L’Olam Chasdo.” (Give thanks to the LORD for He is good; His Mercy is forever). (Psalm 107:1 among many other references.)

The root of Hodu is Yadah, meaning to praise, to give thanks (from the root Yad, hand). The word may have to do with throwing up the hands in praise and thanksgiving. The word itself holds an interesting lesson. It is spelled Yod Dalet Hei. The middle letter means “door,” and the outer two letters (Yod Hei) spell the shortened name of God (Yah). Thus thanksgiving (praise) is the door to the living God. Also, the meaning element of the letter Yod is "hand" and of Hei is "breath." Thus we enter the door of praise by using both hands and breath!

The final Thanksgiving lesson comes from our dear Hebrew teacher, Ori. She taught us that the word Hodu in Hebrew also means turkey! Ironically, a turkey is a Tarnegol Hodu or (Chicken of Giving Thanks)! One of the many things for which we can be thankful this Thanksgiving season is the Hebrew language, which holds so many delightful lessons for us. All for now.
Shavua Tov, Chaverim!END OF QUOTE

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jono!

Six years ago today, we received a phone call from Australia saying that our first grandchild, Jonathan Santiago, was born. Here were two of the first pictures we received through the miracle of the Internet.

And a short time later came a picture of mother and child.

Jonathan comes from a Hebrew name meaning, "The LORD has given," while Santiago is a Spanish name, which in English means "St. James." Ultimately, in a rather obscure way, the name James derives from the Hebrew name Ya'akov (Jacob), who is later renamed Israel. He fathers a nation through whom the world is to be blessed. So we could conceivably interpret Jonathan Santiago as "the LORD has given one through whom the world will be blessed." We pray that Jono may be the fulfillment of his name in the most blessed and complete way.

The picture on the left below shows Sabba (Jono's paternal grandfather) and on the right is Jono at an equivalent age. Is there any resemblance?

And here's the birthday boy in a great picture taken just the other day by his mom and posted on her blog.

We wish you, Jono, a very Happy Birthday! Love, Sabba and Nanny

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jimmy

Tonight we celebrate Jimmy's birthday. It was 32 years ago today, at the Rota Naval Hospital in southern Spain that Jimmy came into this world. Since then, he has spent nearly a third of his life in that wonderful country, as well as residing in Italy, Canada, Japan, and even some time in his own country!
Here he is with Bonnie in front of the hospital in which both of them were born.

At a much earlier birthday party for Jimmy, Bonnie watches her brother blow out his candles.

Here is Jimmy at another celebration with the ever-present Siamese cat, a part of our family's tradition that started in Kathy's childhood. Her parents had the first Moti (means "pearl" in Hindi; the cat was named for an acquaintance of Kathy's mother in India).

Jimmy was always active in sports: baseball, soccer, and swimming.

Living overseas as much as we did, we always jumped at the chance to participate in family events. Here is Jimmy lighting the candles at "Aunt" Lissa's wedding. Lissa and Antonio and their boys have been an often present and very blessed and welcome part of our lives on two continents.

Speaking of family, we always enjoy spending time with Uncle John. Here is Jimmy sitting on Uncle John's cart, on a day his dad and UJ were playing golf. This was the occasion of the famous "hot dog incident," in which the young lad dropped his hot dog into one of the many creeks we crossed throughout the course of the day. Jimmy has since taken up the game, and we have enjoyed some pleasant evenings together on the links.

No real story here. I just love the picture. Dad and Jimmy posing for a picture, probably either in Ohio or Spain, but I'm really not sure.

A school portrait that manages to capture his ultimately indomitable positive spirit.

Portrait of the photographer as a young man. This was taken on the day of his sister, Ellie's, wedding, on which he took the wedding pictures.

That same day, a nice picture of Jimmy and Ellie.

Labor Day 2007 at Lissa and Antonio's cabin near Estes Park. Jimmy on the camera taking the group picture. (Doby's helping!)

And here is today's birthday boy on that same day, with Stephanie and his sister, Hannah.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ellie!

Thirty years ago, our daughter Elinor Victoria, was born at the Naval Hospital in Napoli, Italia. We were stationed an hour north in Gaeta, at the time. We often took trips into Napoli, as well as Roma. In some ways, it seems like yesterday, but in seeing what a mature woman and wonderful mother she has become, we realize she has lived those 30 years well.
Here's Ellie at an early age at the Vatican with one of the main attractions for the kids--the pigeons. This picture perfectly captures the joie de vivre, the unbridled enthusiasm for life that has been such a hallmark of Ellie.

Here's another cute picture of Ellie with pigeons years later when we were living in Spain.

Here's a birthday picture taken quite a few years ago at our home in Yokohama, Japan, showing Jimmy bringing his sister her birthday cake.

This one was taken at our Denver home, not too long after Ellie returned from India.

Ellie learned to love books and reading at an early age.

Here she is at Disney World, a trip we made with Grandma between living in Canada and Spain.

This is Ellie celebrating Hannah's birthday. Our Siamese cat, Moti, wanted to be part of the festivities, too. See her peeking around the curtain?

And here's Bonnie celebrating with Ellie on her special day.

This picture shows Ellie with her roommate and close friend, Ai. They met on a flight from Japan to India, where the two attended school high in the Himalayas. Coincidentally, Ellie and Ai were born on the exact same day--Ellie in Italy, Ai in Japan. Ellie loves to smile and have fun with her family and friends. This picture captures once again that joy that emanates from her.

I had to include this snapshot of Ellie in her Wonder Woman togs because when I looked at it I was reminded so much of Aidan and a similar expression and mannerism I had seen from him.

I'll close this Happy Birthday card to our daughter Ellie with a picture of her with Ryan and Aidan.

In closing,

Happy Birthday, El!

We love you. May you continue to be blessed and enjoy many more fulfilling years. You are truly a blessing to all who know you.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Portrait with Gray Tape

So Bonnie posted a picture of herself and her car in high school (above--or see her blog here:, and it reminded me of a picture she took especially for me when she first moved to Colorado. She broke her car window, and she was using gray tape to fix it. We had a running joke in our family about me using gray tape to fix anything and everything, so she had this picture taken of herself wearing "bracelets" of gray tape!

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Restful Night At Home

Tonight we shared a wonderful meal of Los Nogales-style Fajitas. Let me explain. Since working with my cousin and her husband at Affordable American Insurance, we have discovered a wonderful little Mom-and-Pop Mexican restaurant, Los Nogales, which I call the best Mexican food in Denver (well, it's the best I've ever tasted!).

Anyway, we've been there many times, and most recently we went on a fact-finding dinner (actually, Kathy, Pam, and Jill were fact finding; I was just enjoying the food). The gourmet cooks in our home (that does not include moi) were researching how to make these delicious fajitas. Tonight we enjoyed the fruits of their research. Here's a picture of the finished product, fajitas, black-bean salsa, tomato-avocado-salsamole, and multi-grain tortillas.

Here are a couple of views from the kitchen.

For some years now, we have made every effort to set aside Friday night as a time to rejoice together in the evening meal, remembering the completion of the work of creation and savoring a time to be together and to invite others to join us in this celebration. We have learned from our Jewish friends the joy of the seventh day, the time to remember the God of creation and this marvelous day. Although we do not have a complete understanding of it, our little grasp of it has greatly enriched our lives. We eat together, light some candles, bless God for the fruit of the vine and the bringing forth of bread from the earth, and we bless one another. One night and day of the week set aside especially to bless God and one another. What a concept! How did we miss it?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Just the Two of Us

On Saturday evening at the Reunion, someone (I think I heard it was Em) had the wonderful idea to put pictures from old Reunions around on the tables. It was great fun, and we came across this picture, which I fell in love with. This was after the Navy forced all of its facially hirsute members to become less so! Many of you have never seen me whiskerless. But enough about me. What do you think about my girl?!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Central City Opera Weekend 2007 and The Best B&B in the West

This weekend Kathy and I celebrated our fifth annual Central City Opera Weekend, staying at our favorite Bed & Breakfast, Chase Creek Inn in Blackhawk, Colorado (see link below). Central City and Blackhawk are two historic Colorado cities that are, unfortunately, now known mostly because of legalized gambling and the influx of casinos. This is unfortunate because their history is very rich and interesting. Additionally, the Central City Opera, in its 75th year, provides excellent operatic entertainment every July and August, high in the Rocky Mountains.

The Central City Opera House, built in 1878, was reopened in 1932 by the Central City Opera House Association, and has been in operation ever since. Here's a picture of the historic building. Check out their website here:

A view down the street running by the Opera House. The historic St. James Methodist church (oldest church in Colorado) is on the left (but unfortunately covered by the huge pine tree!).

Here's Kathy in the historic Teller House Hotel (next door to the Opera House). It is now a museum, not an operating hotel, but they do have a bar and a restaurant operation out of the Teller House during Opera season. In fact, we had a fine dinner here with our friends, Jim and Sue, on Saturday evening, between operas.

This year we were again blessed to enjoy our opera weekend with our dear friends, Jim and Sue. Here is a picture of the four of us out front of the most peaceful, wonderful Bed & Breakfast we have discovered, the Chase Creek Inn.

Here's a view of the B&B from above.

Kathy and Sue relax on the porch. The rocking chairs, gentle breeze, and the sound of the babbling brook make this a very relaxing area. Also, chipmunks and squirrels cavort on the hill behind the house, and hummingbirds visit the feeder provided for them.

The hot tub is one of the attractions that keep us coming back to Chase Creek Inn year after year.

Hal and Karen are the proprietors of the Chase Creek Inn B&B. They are a delightful, hospitable couple (and Karen's gourmet breakfasts are par excellence!). For further details, check out their website here:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Boulder Shakespeare Festival

Some years ago (1999, I believe) we took some friends to the Boulder Shakespeare Festival on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, to see the Bard's Comedy of Errors. It took us eight years to get back, but last night we attended with four good friends. Kathy had decided to get tickets for my birthday, and our friends were able to join us. It was a most wonderful celebration.

We started the evening at my favorite Italian restaurant, Laudisio's. I had discovered this Boulder eatery a couple of years ago because of their acclaimed specialty, Buffalo Carpaccio. I often stop in for some appetizers when in Boulder. After a lovely dinner, we drove to the CU campus, which is just around the corner from Laudisio's, to watch the play "The Servant of Two Masters," by an 18th century Italian playwright by the name of Carlo Goldoni. (Yes, I know, we went to the Shakespeare Festival and didn't see Shakespeare! We had already seen the three Shakespeare productions in other places, and anyway, this was in the style of a Shakespeare comedy.) It was a comedic romp, a madcap farce, with a lot of physical humor, mistaken identity, and funny swipes at current politics and popular culture. Everyone seemed to have a good time. The production was in an outdoor venue, and there was a nice breeze and a noticeable absence of mosquitos!

All in all, it was a memorable birthday celebration, and I thought I would share it with all of you. By the way, we did have our camera with us last night, but had no time to snap pictures of the group (and we were forbidden from photographing the performance), so I have included a picture of Will himself on the program cover and a shot (from the program) of the theater with the Rocky Mountains in the background.

For more information about the Boulder Shakespeare Festival, check out this link.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day 2007

Our classical station was playing American music and quoting American writers and speakers all day today. One of the highlights was James Earl Jones narrating Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait, one of my favorites. It struck me that the 16th President's words hold some relevancy to our predicament today. With these words of Abraham Lincoln, I wish all of us a meaningful Independence Day, as we celebrate the birth of our nation. May it remain alive and vibrant for years to come.

From Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait
"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history."
That is what he said. That is what Abraham Lincoln said.
"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility." [Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862]
He was born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana, and lived in Illinois. And this is what he said. This is what Abe Lincoln said.
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we will save our country." [Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862]
When standing erect he was six feet four inches tall, and this is what he said.
He said: "It is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. It is the same spirit that says 'you toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it.' No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation, and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle." [Lincoln-Douglas debates, 15 October 1858]
Lincoln was a quiet man. Abe Lincoln was a quiet and a melancholy man. But when he spoke of democracy, this is what he said.
He said: "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."
Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of these United States, is everlasting in the memory of his countrymen. For on the battleground at Gettysburg, this is what he said:
He said: "That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."