Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon

Tuesday afternoon, Sharon and I went to the Country Club Cinema to see Killers of the Flower Moon. We have started of our annual trek to see all of the potential Oscar nominated films. As of today, the Goldderby web site has Killers of the Flower Moon second behind Oppenheimer on the list of potential best picture nominees. Goldderby has Leonardo DiCaprio second for best actor and Robert De Niro second for Best Supporting Actor for their roles in the film.

Killers of the Flower Moon is a Western crime drama directed by Martin Scorsese from a screenplay he co-wrote with Eric Roth. It is based on the 2017 non-fiction book of the same name by David Grann.

Set in 1920s Oklahoma, it focuses on a series of murders of Osage members and relations in the Osage Nation after oil was being produced on tribal land. Tribal members had retained mineral rights on their reservation and whites sought to gain their wealth. It is disturbing that it is a true story. Officially, the count of the wealthy Osage victims reached at least 20, but it is suspected that hundreds more may have been killed because of their ties to oil.

The ensemble cast includes:
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart;
  • Robert De Niro as William King Hale, Ernest's uncle;
  • Lily Gladstone as Mollie Kyle, Ernest's Osage wife;
  • Jesse Plemons as Thomas Bruce White Sr., a BOI agent leading the murder investigation;
  • Tantoo Cardinal as Lizzie Q, Mollie's mother;
  • John Lithgow as Prosecutor Peter Leaward in the trials of Hale and Burkhart, and;
  • Brendan Fraser as W. S. Hamilton, Hale's attorney.
It is the sixth feature film collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio and the tenth between Scorsese and De Niro. Though the role of Thomas White, the lead BOI agent, was initially written for DiCaprio, DiCaprio pushed to instead portray a nephew of the film's primary antagonist played by De Niro.

As a business leader, I would often talk about letting a room breathe. This is a movie where Scorsese lets each scene breathe. Until the ending, nothing is rushed; everything has a very deliberate pace. The result is a film that is 3 1/2 hours long. I would guess that not very many people in the world have the gravitas to make a movie this length; the studio would be pushing to have the story telling be more economical.

The film works, but it feels long. The performances by DiCaprio, De Niro and Gladstone are very good. Nevertheless, I would bet that it doesn't win best picture. I recommend the film, but would suggest that you wait until it drops on AppleTV so that you can take an intermission like we did with The Irishman.

Miyagi Bar & Sushi

Tuesday night after seeing Killers of the Flower Moon, Sharon and I had dinner at Miyagi Sushi. We split Pork Gyoza [pan fried dumplings, sesame ponzu], Crispy Brussels Sprouts [charred jalapeno aioli], BBQ Albacore [seared rare, chili aioli, green onion, sesame seeds] and a Torch Roll [fried shrimp, snow crab, tuna, albacore, house sauce, tobiko].

Monday, October 30, 2023

Birthday Adventures with Lee

After working out in the morning, Sharon and I went up to Placerville to take Lee his belated birthday present. We got him a roundhouse for wooden trains.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Donum Estates Fall Harvest Member Event

Like last year, we went to the Donum Estates Fall Harvest Member Event. We took our neighbors Jim and Debi. The four of us walked up to the wind chimes. Sharon and I continued up to the King and Queen sculpture by Keith Haring. With a north wind blowing, the view was amazing.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Erin and Cormac's Wedding

Friday night, Sharon, Jack and I went to Sharon's niece Erin and Cormac's Wedding at Heringer Estates Winery. I had Sacramento City Car Service pick the three of us up at 3:30 pm.

It was a very nice evening. They did the ceremony along Elk Slough rather than at the south end of property with the vineyards in the background. It wasn't as windy as Drew and Carmen's wedding. Without the wind, the mosquitoes were fierce.

Our table for dinner was Kathy and Tim, Tom, Jim, Jim and Jane Ellis, Sharon and I. Dinner was tacos; the food was very good.

I had the car service picked up at 10 pm. I am really not interested in driving the river roads at night...

Thursday, October 26, 2023


I took a Golftec lesson on Thursday morning. Although I felt better and had more fun at Lincoln Hills on Wednesday, I have a lot of work to do on my swing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Lincoln Hills Orchard Course with Holly and Van

Sharon and I played the Lincoln Hills Orchard course with Holly and Van. We teed off at 9 am. The driving range was closed so we didn't have a chance to warm up. Sharon rode with Holly and I rode with Van.

Except for the day at Bailey Creek with Nooter, this is probably the most fun I have had playing golf in a long time. I enjoyed the round. I feel like the lessons are paying off. I am striking the ball better. I ended up with four pars and three bogies. I had a liberally scored 102.

It took us less than four hours to play 18 holes. After the round, the four of us had a late lunch at Meridians. Sharon and I both had a Taco Salad [Iceberg lettuce topped with seasoned ground beef, pepper jack cheese, diced onion, tomato, sour cream, salsa, and cheesy tortilla chips. Served with creamy avocado-ranch dressing].

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Lee's 4th Birthday

Lee turned four on Saturday. With the Drew and Carmen's rehearsal and rehearsal dinner scheduled for Friday and the wedding on Saturday, Morgan and Daniel celebrated Lee's birthday on Thursday night. We got Lee a roundhouse for his trains, but haven't dropped it off yet!

Celebrating Lee's 4th birthday at Drew and Carmen's Wedding

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Drew and Carmen's Wedding

A fantastic day with a beautiful wedding.

I took Sharon to Heringer Estates in the morning. She spent the day getting her hair and make-up done.

Jack, Jason and I got picked up by a car service at 2 pm. We rolled up to the venue just before 3 pm.

The ceremony started a little after 4:30 pm. Sharon and I walked in at the front of the procession. Morgan played piano and sang. I participated in the Celtic Handfasting Ritual. Although a little windy, it was a beautiful ceremony. The program is here.

With the vineyards in the background and Elk Slough running along side, it is gorgeous spot. I had been there for a family wedding before. Sometime in the early 80s (1982 or 1983?), Alison and I attended a wedding for one of my first cousins (one of Steve's sisters) there.

After a few family pictures, we joined the cocktail hour. I talked a little with my sisters. Admittedly, I haven't seen them in more than four years.

A couple of additional pictures are here.

I enjoyed the rest of evening immensely. I got a chance to sit next to Wallen at dinner. It was good to catch up with him; I have been missing him and Jill. Our table included David and Lo, Snipes and Joy, Wallen and Jill, Holly and Van, Gail, my sister Lee Ann, my sister Sharon, Jason, Jack, Emily, Sharon and I.

Kyle made a very interesting best man speech. He traced their initial courtship by reading a series of text messages that he had gotten from each of them. Although we didn't met her then, Carmen came to Sea Ranch during the 2021 Father's Day Weekend trip.

After dinner, everyone sang happy birthday to Lee. He got a birthday cake and blew out the candles.

Madi and Nick played the first dance. Afterwards, a DJ took over. Sharon and I danced more than a few songs. She admonished me that I am going to have to take some dance lessons before Jack gets married...

There was a photo booth. After Sharon and I jumped in, I crashed Drew and Carmen. A nice of pictures of Jack, Jason and Emily is here. I will post the photo strips in the coming weeks.

Sharon and I got picked up by a car service at 10 pm and headed home. Jack, Jason and Emily joined Gail in a Lyft to the Hyatt Regency. They caught up with wedding party.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Drew and Carmen's Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner

After playing nine holes of golf at Ancil Hoffman in the morning with Jack and Jason, Sharon and I ran home and got cleaned up. We took off about 2 pm for Heringer Estates Winery and the wedding rehearsal.

There was a walk through of tomorrow's wedding ceremony. Carmen's mom, Pam, and I are participating in the ceremony as part of a Celtic Handfasting Ritual. It is an ancient Celtic ritual in which the hands are tied together to symbolize the binding of two lives. Morgan will be playing piano and singing for the ceremony. Lee is supposed to be a ring bearer with Cooper.

I had talked to Tomasin on Wednesday. Since they couldn't make the wedding due to Julie's 50th high school reunion, he indicated an interest in dropping by the winery on Friday. They showed up just as we were starting the rehearsal. After the run-through, Sharon and I sat and had a glass of wine with the Tomasins.

From there, we headed to the Starlet Room at Harlow's for the rehearsal dinner. The group for the rehearsal dinner totalled 31 people. Sharon and I sat with Morgan, Daniel, Lee, Jack and Jason. Dinner was salad, brussels sprouts, chicken and salmon. Timothy Brown played music during dinner. Struggling with my emotions, Sharon gave our toast.

After the dinner, there was an open Welcome Party for wedding guests. Holly and Van came. Eventually, Gail and then the Snipes and the Wallens showed up. Tomasin showed up briefly.

An assortment of people took the stage during the Welcome Party, including Drew and Carmen and Madi Sipes. We rolled towards home about 10 pm...

With the Tomasins after the rehearsal at Heringer Estates

Ancil Hoffman with Sharon, Jack & Jason

While we were on the trip to Israel, Egypt and Jordan, Sharon and Jack decided that we should play golf on Friday morning before Drew and Carmen's wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I made the tee time while we were traveling, but regretted it on Friday morning. I still hadn't gotten my clock fully reset to Pacific time; I had a couple of restless nights of sleep.

Even with a month off without swinging a club and still working with Golftec to rebuild my swing, I was striking the ball pretty well at the beginning of the round. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time in the trees. Additionally, I sailed my chips over the green on the 2nd and 8th holes. While I had been doing better with my chipping, both of these mis-hits really hurt me.

I ended up with a liberally scored 59 on the front nine. Sharon and I bailed after nine holes to go to the wedding rehearsal at Heringer Estates. Jack and Jason played eightteen holes.

I am looking forward to getting a chance to get back on the driving range. I have two more lessons scheduled in the two weeks.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Roger Bowley

Sharon and I both worked with Roger at Farm Credit. He was first person I met when I started working there.

Roger M Bowley died unexpectedly on August 27, 2023 in Pine Grove, California. He was a long time resident and community leader in San Joaquin County and Linden, California.

Roger is survived by his wife of 46 years Kathleen/Kate, brother Thomas (Beverly) Bowley, sister Michele (Richard) Hazzard, brother-in-law Michael (Sharon) Rodoani, five nieces and nephews and 12 great nieces and nephews.

Roger graduated with honors from Arizona State University in 1968 and began a well documented and highly regarded career in Agricultural Economics. He retired in 2002 as President of AgCredit of California.

Through the years Roger served on the San Joaquin Ag Advisory Board, California Association of Wine Grape Growers, Linden-Peters Chamber of Commerce, Linden Lions Club and Stockton Ag expo.

Roger was elected to the San Joaquin County Hall of Fame in 2005, he and Kate were chosen Citizens of the year in Linden for 2006. Roger and Kate were founding members of the Linden HeadTurners Car Club, and members of Porsche Owners of Northern California.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Roger on October 22, 2023 at the Linden Lions Club (5041 N. Market Street, Linden) from noon to four.

Donations in Roger's name can be sent to Tri County Wildlife Care, 12360 Trade Center Dr., Jackson, Ca. 95642 or to Alzheimer's Assoc., 2290 N. First St., San Jose, Ca. 95131

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Israel/Egypt/Jordan 2023 - Day #21 - to Carmichael

Up at 2:05 am, we put our bags in the hall at 2:55 am. We joined the group in the lobby at 3:25 am. Of the 31 people on the Jordan excursion (out of 56 on the cruise), 15 people were flying out on the same Turkish Airlines flight at 6:55 am. The Leclaires took an earlier flight, but the Larkins and Gainsleys were on the same flight as us.

We got to the airport a little after 4 am. I was shocked at how long the check-in line was. It took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to make our way through the line, check our luggage and get our boarding passes.

By the time we got through security, there was less than 30 minutes until the flight started boarding. In an older Airbus A320 with a 2-4-2 configuration, Sharon and I had two seats on the right side of the plane. It was pretty comfortable.

The flight path that we took to get to Istanbul was interesting. The plane flew southwest until it reached Egyptian airspace and then turned north. It added about 50 minutes to the flight time. The route completely avoided Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

We were on the ground in Istanbul about 10 am. I was impressed with the Istanbul international terminal.

Sharon and I boarded the Turkish Air flight to San Francisco about noon. The Gainsleys were on the same flight in business class. The Larkins took a later flight to Seattle. Sharon's brother Tom and his friends Mary and Jean were on our flight. They made the connection with only a little time to spare.

In a 787 Dreamliner with a 3-3-3 configuration, Sharon and I had the aisle and middle on the right side. This turned into a little bit of a mess. The two women in front of Sharon and I put their seats all the way back as soon as they could. The guy on the window was probably 6' 4". As soon as she could, Sharon went back and sat with Tom; he had a row to himself. I banged the person in front of me with my knees so that they eventually put their seat back up.

[Note to self], we are not flying international again without some kind of upgraded seat.

I ended up flying most of the thirteen hour flight by myself. I probably got up a dozen times and walked back to where Sharon and Tom were sitting. I finished one book [Exit Strategy] and started two others [1000 Miles up the Nile and The Exchange]. I also watched Bridge on the River Kwai on my iPad.

Just like Chicago in June, we walked off the plane into a giant mess at passport control. After a couple of minutes, I brought up the mobile passport control app. We jumped into that line and were able to get through in less than forty minutes.

Scooping up our luggage, we eventually connected with the same shuttle driver that brought us to the airport. It was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride on the way home. The driver was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. Sharon was not happy. Dropping Tom, Mary and Jean first, Sharon and I were home in Carmichael just after 8:45 pm. It was 29 hours door to door.

It was an interesting trip. I am working on a list of thoughts that I will post in the future!

Monday, October 16, 2023

Israel/Egypt/Jordan 2023 - Day #20 - Jerash

Jerash & Amman

Rich Roman Legacies in the Heart of Jordan

Uncover the mysteries of two ancient cities dating to the days of Rome.

Drive with your guide to Jerash, inhabited for more than 6,500 years. During its Roman era, it was proclaimed part of the Decapolis, an alliance of ten great cities of Rome. A stroll along its paved streets, soaring hilltop temples and city walls reveals Jerash as a fine example of formal provincial Roman urbanism. Continue to Amman, Jordan’s bustling modern capital with a rich Roman history of its own. In its days under the emperor, it was also constructed in extravagant style. Under the Byzantines, churches dotted the cityscape; see the imposing Roman amphitheater set into the side of a mountain and visit the Amman Citadel, home to many early artifacts. Conclude your excursion at a women’s association, where you can immerse yourself in the Jordanian craft of soapmaking.

Cindy Larkin's birthday!

Up at 5:05, we put the luggage out in the hall at 6 am. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we boarded the bus about 7:15 am.

It was a long five hour drive back to Amman on the desert highway. When we got there, we did a very short driving tour of the old part of Amman. I was surprised how hilly that the city is.

We made a quick stop at the Roman Amphitheater in Amman. The theater was built in the 2nd century AD during the reign of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius. It has a capacity of over 6,000 people.

We continued to Jerash and had a lunch stop at a Lebanese Restaurant. After lunch, we had a Viking led excursion of the nearby Roman City at Jerash.

Jerash was originally founded by the Greeks in the 4th century BC, but it flourished under Roman rule from the 1st to the 3rd centuries AD. During this time, Jerash was a major trading center on the Silk Road. It was home to a population of over 20,000 people.

The city has many well-preserved Roman ruins, including:
  • Hadrian's Gate: This monumental gate was built to commemorate the visit of the Roman emperor Hadrian in 129 AD [pic #2].
  • South Theater: This theater was used for performances and public gatherings. It has a capacity of over 6,000 people [pic #3].
  • Temple of Zeus: This temple was dedicated to the Greek god Zeus. It is the tallest temple in Jerash and offers stunning views of the city [pic #4].
  • Temple of Artemis: This temple was dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis. It is one of the largest and best-preserved temples in Jerash [pic $5].
  • Hippodrome: This hippodrome was used for chariot races and other sporting events. It is one of the largest and best-preserved hippodromes in the world.
We got to the hotel about 430 pm. We are staying one night at the W Hotel Amman. We had a cocktail in the Living Room Bar while our luggage was transferred to our rooms.

The Heringers, Larkins, Gainsleys and Leclaires had dinner together on our last night at the Mesh Restaurant in the hotel. I had an Ahi Poke Bowl and a Spicy Tuna Roll. The eight of us got along extremely well on the trip. I enjoyed getting to know the Leclaires.

With a very early start for home tomorrow, Sharon and I crashed about 930 pm.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Israel/Egypt/Jordan 2023 - Day #19 - Petra


A Breathtaking Rose-Red Ancient City

Tour the awe-inspiring city of Petra, carved into towering cliffs more than two millennia ago.

Nomadic Nabataeans sought refuge in this secluded enclave and created this fortress city, ideally situated on the trade route from Yemen to Syria. Soon, Petra grew into such an important stopover on the route that it controlled the flow of goods, particularly frankincense, valued more highly than gold as it was burned on altars all across the known world. With their wealth, the Nabataeans sculpted their glorious rose-colored city of imposing buildings and monuments, today among the best preserved from that time. Meet your guide and drive into the desert to reach the rugged hills that protected the ancient city during its heyday. Then walk through the famed Siq, the enormous fissure in the rock wall that leads to a stunning view of the Treasury and the incredible repository of rock-carved wonders beyond.

Traditional Home-Hosted Dinner

Sample a Selection of Jordanian Delicacies at a Local Residence

Meet a local family and enjoy a warm welcome as you share a traditional evening meal.

As well as its array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and desert landscapes, Jordan is known for its friendly Arabic hospitality. At the intersection of Asia, Europe and Africa, Jordan’s culture has always been influenced by its neighbors yet still maintains a strong identity with its long-standing traditions. Set out and join a Jordanian family for an evening of discovery as you sample a delicious range of home-cooked fare and learn about regional customs. Your taste buds will be tantalized as you savor freshly prepared dishes using local ingredients, delicately seasoned with Middle Eastern spices and flavors. And no Jordanian meal is complete without a helping of tasty homemade flatbread. Your appetite sated, you will then bid farewell to your hosts and return to your hotel.
Like the day in Giza with the Grand Pyramids, this was one of the days that I was most looking forward to on the trip.

Petra was founded by the Nabateans, an Arab people who flourished in the region from the 3rd century BC to the 2nd century AD. The Nabateans were skilled traders. Petra became a major crossroads on the trade routes between Arabia, Egypt, and Syria. Petra was abandoned in the 6th century AD. It was not rediscovered by Europeans until the early 19th century.

The guide planned an early start. Up at 5 am with breakfast at 6 am, the group left the hotel at 7 am. The Movenpick Petra is located across the street from the visitor's center and the entry to Petra!

The morning walk through Al Siq was amazing. The Siq is a narrow canyon that leads to the city of Petra. It is about 3/4's of mile long and up to 250 feet high. The canyon was deeper than I expected. The walls are made of red sandstone. They are carved with Nabataean inscriptions and carvings.

Leaving the canyon, we stumbled on to the Treasury. It is the most famous landmark in Petra. The Treasury is thought to have been built as a mausoleum and crypt for the Nabataean king Aretas IV Philopatris in the 1st century AD.

After the Treasury, we came to a large open area called the Street of Facades. This is a long, narrow street lined with the facades of rock-cut tombs. The tombs are decorated with a variety of architectural styles, including Egyptian, Greek, and Roman.

Staying on the main road, we passed the Theatre. Carved into the hillside in the 1st century AD, it could hold up to 8,500 spectators.
Passing the Royal Tombs on the hillside on the right, we walked down the Colonnaded Street. It is a long, wide street lined with columns and porticoes. The street was built by the Nabateans in the 1st century BC and was further embellished during the Roman period. It was the main commercial street in Petra and was lined with shops, markets, and other businesses. The southern end of the Colonnaded Street is marked by Hadrian's Gate, also known as the Temenos Gate.
The guided Viking excursion ended at a cafe just beyond the Colonnaded Street. After a short break, the Gainsleys, Leclaires, Larkin and I decided to continue to the Monastery. It was about a mile climb to the Monastery. It is the largest monument in Petra. The Monastery is thought to have been built as a church in the 4th century AD.
On the way down from the Monastery, Larkin and I split from the group and went looking for Sharon and Cindy. We caught up with them just as they were coming down from the Royal Tombs. The four of us hiked out of Petra and back through the Siq.

I really enjoyed Petra. Although I am posting these pictures, I feel like the photos don’t do justice to the scale of Petra. In total, we covered more than 10 miles.

The whole group had a late lunch at the Cave Bar. I had an unusual take on a club sandwich (beef and egg!).
Back at the hotel, Sharon and I slept for a little bit. After getting cleaned up and meeting for a drink in the bar, the Gainsleys and Heringers went on Viking Traditional Home-Hosted Dinner excursion. The four of us plus the guide went to a local residence for dinner. This needs a whole separate blog entry; I will add one in the next several weeks. We had the opportunity to sample a selection of Jordanian delicacies and meet the family.
With an early start planned for the next day, Sharon and I crashed about 9:15 pm...

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Israel/Egypt/Jordan 2023 - Day #18 - Mosiac Cooperative, St. George Church & Shobak Castle

Madaba & Mt. Nebo

Two of Jordan’s Most Sacred Sites

Witness the burial site of Moses and view a remarkable map of the Middle East created in the 6th century.

Mt. Nebo is revered as the place where Moses was buried, one of the most sacred spots in Jordan. You will drive to the mountain’s summit to visit the site of the 4th-century Byzantine church that commemorates his death. As you explore, marvel at the preserved floor mosaics, baptismal font and Brazen Serpent sculpture. Next, continue to the ancient town of Madaba and its Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. Built in 1896 over the remains of a 6th-century Byzantine church, it is home to an incredibly preserved mosaic map of the Middle East depicting the region from Lebanon to the Nile River delta, including the Holy Land, as it was known in the mid-500s. Of the map’s original 1,020 square feet, about one-quarter of it remains.
Since the bus wasn't leaving until 9 am, Sharon and I slept a little later. I didn't get up until almost 7 am.

After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, we loaded back on the bus. They switched the schedule around; we did Mt. Nebo on Friday afternoon rather than today.

The first stop was a Mosiac Cooperative. The Jordan River Foundation launched the Mosaic Cooperative in 2011 with the support of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah. The cooperative is located in the town of Madaba which is known for its Byzantine mosaics. The cooperative provides training and employment opportunities for women from the local community and produces high-quality mosaic products that are sold to tourists and collectors around the world.

We got a demonstration and explanation of the mosiac making process. Sharon ended up buying two small mosiacs.

The next stop was the St. George Church in Madaba. It is a 6th-century Byzantine church that is home to one of the most famous mosaics in the world. The mosaic, which is known as the Madaba Map, is a floor mosaic that depicts the Holy Land and surrounding areas. It is one of the oldest and most complete maps of the Holy Land to survive from antiquity.

Walking back to the bus from St. George Church, we stopped and had lunch. We got a bit of time to shop after lunch. I got a chance to buy Sharon a Christmas ornament. I hadn't seen any Christmas ornaments in Egypt!?!.

Back on the bus, it was a three hour ride towards Petra. We stopped at Shobak Fortress. The castle was built by the Crusaders in the early 12th century. It served as a vital stronghold in their defense of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
We finally got to Petra a little after 5 pm. We are staying two nights at the Movenpick Petra.

Getting cleaned up, we met the group in the bar for a cocktail. We finished the day with a wonderful group dinner at the Al Iwan Restaurant in the hotel celebrating my and Sharon's anniversary. I had lamb chops.
With an early start planned to explore Petra on Sunday, Sharon and I crashed about 10 pm.