Category Archives: friends

Malaysian Invasion

img_2638.jpgDuring the break between Christmas and New Year’s Day, we had a surprise visit from the Ho family. We met Mr. and Mrs. Ho at their restaurant in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia where we had some great Dim Sum. Harriet had struck up a conversation with Mr. Ho and found out that their son was attending Purdue University in Indiana. He and his wife were coming to the U.S. to visit their son, as soon as they could straighten out Visa issues. They planned on flying through LA and we gave them our phone number to call if they got the chance.

Well, just before Christmas their son, Shyan, called to tell us they were all in LA being tourists, and that now there were 5 of them! We arranged for them all to come up and stay with us for a few days after Christmas. In the picture, above, are Mr. and Mrs. Ho, their son Shyan, Xian’s girlfriend Eva, and the Ho’s second son. There’s one more son who didn’t make the trip. The picture was taken in front of the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

img_2657.jpgIt was a bit crowded, but we were able to fit everyone and had a great cultural experience as we showed them around Santa Barbara. Mrs. Ho prepared a couple of meals, and Harriet had a chance to see how some Chinese/Malasian meals were really made. In this picture, you can see Mr.s Ho working with our pathetically small wok. I think she was disappointed with Harriet’s kitchen tools, although if you know Harriet’s kitchen, that’s an amusing thought. It was truly a unique cultural experience, and a lesson in relative culinary expectations. Bottom line, we now know we need a bigger wok.

We had a wonderful meal at a local Chinese restaurant where the Hos had a chance to negotiate with the owner over some real Chinese dishes, in Chinese. I’ve never had fish with toasted soy bean, before, and it was quite good.

img_2651.jpgSince Shyan is an engineering student and Eva is a programmer, we stopped off at my workplace to give them a tour. I don’t know that I’m a typical representative of the Software Engineering profession, after all that cut out of Darth Vader in a multi-color boa quoting our ISO-9001 quality statement is at the entrance to my cubicle. But, I probably helped break some stereotypes for Shyan’s folks.

img_2664.jpgThey stayed with us for three nights and then took the airbus to the LA airport for their various flights home (Indiana and Malaysia-which are each interesting contrasts with Santa Barbara). We took this picture just before they left, with their whole family and our two dogs (Mrs. Ho was particularly fond of the dogs and would just sit and pat their heads-which they, of course, loved).

It was a great experience for us and I think everyone had a fine time.

Thanksgiving 2006

img_2551.jpgI’m just now getting around to posting images from our Thanksgiving dinner. Every year Harriet and I host a dinner for those “who are without a family, who can’t be with their family, or who would rather not be with their family” on Thanksgiving. It’s been called the Orphan Thanksgiving, the Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving and the Chosen Family Thanksgiving, but I think my favorite name for the night is Thanksgiving Dinner at Alan and Harriet’s House. It’s something of a potluck, where we provide the bird and a few main dishes like stuffing and mashed potatoes, but we ask that others bring whatever side dish most reminds them of Thanksgiving. Some folks go for their family traditions, others use it as an excuse to try new recipes.

The crowd is a fairly eclectic mix of folks, many of whom only know each other from this annual dinner. This year we had 16 people attending. I can’t seem to find a photo with the whole crowd at once, so this first photo was taken fairly late in the evening after several people had left. Around the table, starting at the lower left, are Krista (our fabulous neighbor), myself, Steve (our other fabulous neighbor and Krista’s husband), Marla (Harriet’s wonderful sister), Perri (Harriet’s Sister’s tenant-but really an amazing fellow) , Harriet, Steve (our fabulous neighbor’s fascinating friend), Tara (groovy friend and fantastic house/dog sitter, who took care of our place while we were in Malaysia), and Dave (our fabulous neighbor Steve’s delightful brother). Hmm, maybe isn’t as cool as I thought.

img_2540.jpgI’ll be filling in the full cast of characters with other photos taken earlier in the night, starting with this one of Diane and Wayne. Diane’s a friend I’ve known longer than Harriet; we met in Helpline when we were both doing suicide hot-line work (we were the volunteer counselors, not the callers). Nowadays she’s a technical writer for a medical devices company. Wayne is an old gaming buddy who is now a math professor in San Diego. Can you believe that Wayne, Diane, and I were gaming geeks? Okay, maybe that’s not such a stretch.

img_2542.jpgMoving on to the ‘not so geeky’ people in attendance, I really like this shot of Grace, who apparently fell asleep by the time the group photo was snapped. She was on East Coast time, having just moved out there this last summer. Grace is another long term friend (I’m trying to avoid the word old since it has too much weight for many of us) that I first met at my bank (she was my teller) but whom I got to know during my years as a volunteer at the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center. She was a volunteer and then a staff member and is now working as a school psychologist. It was wonderful having her out to visit for the holiday and we missed her partner John who was at the dinner last year but didn’t make it to this one.

img_2537.jpgThese two are Cecile and Royce, Laura’s mom and her husband. Unfortunately, I can’t find a picture of our friend Laura who was also at the dinner. My bet is she’s now so skinny that the camera couldn’t capture an image. Either that or she intimidated the camera with her kick boxing moves. We’ve known Laura for a couple of years now, and she works for a local medical devices company in some sort of regulatory capacity, although her job has been going through so much flux in the last few months I don’t know if she could tell you what she does. It was delightful having her mother and Royce at the dinner, and they brought sweet potatoes made southern style, complete with the marshmallows.

img_2546.jpgDave is one of those photogenic folks, and a true techno-gadgeteer. He’d probably be happy to know that I had to use a red-eye removal tool on this photo to get it ready for publication. He’s Steve’s brother and currently a manager of a William Sonoma store in LA, but he managed a Stabuck’s for years, and knows a lot about coffee culture.

I don’t have a good shot of Steve and Krista, our neighbors. I can’t say enough good things about the two of them, and both Harriet and I are thankful they live next door. Both of them are graphic artists. Krista works at a financial services company as the in-house graphic designer, and Steve works at UCSB doing graphic design. If you’ve ever logged onto one of the UCSB department web sites and thought “Wow, that’s beautiful” then it was probably Steve’s fault.

img_2544.jpgI like this shot of Steve and Tara. This is the other Steve; not our neighbor Steve, but Steve’s friend. Got it? Currently retired, Steve is enjoying a life filled with wind-surfing and rock-gardens. We’ve known him a few years now and he’s really a delightful guy to talk with and definitely fits into the eclectic category.

Tara is amazing. I can’t do her justice in a short paragraph, and although she’s most easily identified as our house/dog sitter (the dogs love her), she’s probably the person we know who most closely fits the term scholar. She’s the sort of world traveler who will arrive at a town and decide to stay and work a few months, learn the language, the culture, and as much about the people as she can. We’ve known her for years and is an amazing soul.

img_2596.jpgAlthough this photo is from a couple of days later, it’s a great shot of Perri, Marla, and Jori (and our dogs Katie and Buster). Marla is Harriet’s sister, and Jori is Marla’s son, our nephew. They all live in San Francisco, where Marla works on and off as an instructor and developer of educational materials/programs. Jori is an incredibly cool 10 year old who is showing promise as a comic book aficionado.

Although I’ve known Perri for many years as a tenant and friend of Marla’s, this is the first chance I’ve had to spend any significant time with him. They spent four days here and I would have loved for them to have spent more. He was a great cooking pal for Harriet and just fun to be around.

And that’s the summary of this years Thanksgiving. Thanks to everyone involved from both Harriet and I. We are thankful you are all in our lives.

Dinner with Steve and Krista

Last night we had our neighbors over for dinner. Harriet was highly motivated since we had two live crabs from the Santa Barbara Harbor and Seafood Festival, and she’d sat in on a cooking demonstration at the Santa Barbara Art Festival (both discussed in my last post). So, she made crab cakes.

I’m not a food blogger, so I won’t go into the recipe. But, I am someone who appreciates good food, and I have eaten a fair share of crab cakes. These were, without a doubt, the best crabcakes ever. And I mean they were GOOD! She says she wasn’t happy with the recipe she got from the demo, so she worked it over a bit. And, the crab was obviously very fresh. But all of us stopped after we took our first bites, looked down at the food, and just blurted out how good these were.

We also had a very good salad that was a good counter to the richness of the crab. I think we all ate three of the cakes, and then had to stop because the crab is so rich. Well, that and the fact that there weren’t any left. Restraint is easy when there’s no opportunity. I learned that one from dieting.

Just for completeness’ sake, I will say that we had a great time with Steve & Krista. We are very lucky to have such wonderful neighbors, whom we actually enjoy spending time with. I’d say more about them, but that’s really for Krista’s blog.

And besides, those crab cakes were damn good.

Dinner with Diane and Laura

Diane and Laura have a lovely place in Goleta, and they’ve just finished hanging most of their artwork. It looks great. I love all the color, although I don’t know that they’re completely happy with it, yet.

Those two travel a lot, and so our usual Friday night dinner got changed to Tuesday night. Laura’s been losing weight and working out for awhile. She really looks good. Diane has just started her diet and exercise program, but she’s already noticeably changing shape. So, we had a lovely dinner of grilled salmon, rice, and salad. It was a tasty meal and fit comfortably into all of our dietary goals.

Don’t completely admire our restraint. Most of us had glasses of wine, and we finished our meal with a cordial glass of port (wonderful) and a piece of fudge. Moderation!