It has been a generational tradition for nearly 20 years. Learning as babies, they return as adults the following year.


In turn, they teach their babies.


How many return every year varies. It depends upon the usual factor in nature, the ability to survive. A few that have visited this spring and summer have been doing so the past 3-5 years. You know them by having observed individual physical traits belonging to a robin. When a given robin that has returned so often does not the next spring, it is a little bittersweet in not seeing them. Yet, seeing a new generation of robins says the circle of life is strong. And, nature continues to be strong.


This summer, we played “host” to 7-8 baby robins. We eagerly await their return next spring.


Taking a morning stroll …

middle of the road


on abandoned pavement


walking mates


walk over here, walk over there


This pair of crows were on the search for scraps of leaves, twigs and paper, most likely for nest building purposes. One did find a nice piece of paper and flew off, while the other stayed for a couple of minutes before flying off.

Fly Me To The Moon

“Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On a Jupiter and Mars”


The street was largely quiet. Thoughts of paling around the neighborhood were set aside. Like many others, we were glued to the TV set for a singular, momentous event – the lunar landing. The feeling was palpable.

Apollo 11 had arrived the day before. The astronauts were definitely busy, making sure everything was ready. Checklists reviewed, equipment readied and checked. Once, twice, and probably again.

We had read about the mission many times over.



We “knew” the crew. Neil Armstrong, mission commander. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Lunar Module pilot. Michael Collins, Command Module pilot. Among the best of astronauts. Professional and steady. Calm and cool under pressure. All veterans of manned spaceflight, the second all-veteran crew in history.


Then, it began. The descent and landing. We had an inkling of the extensiveness and thoroughness of the preparations and the hundreds of hours of training ahead of the mission. It was off-the-charts risk taking. It had an excitement level of the nth degree. It truly fired the imagination for those of us growing up at the time. Study hard, work hard and cultivate the astronaut-like skills of professionalism, intelligence and steadiness, that could be us in the future. Taking those small steps outward into the whole new frontier of space.

We watched, we listened, in the last minutes before the landing, the speed and altitude callouts by Armstrong and Aldrin. Then, Mission Control indicated Lunar Contact was achieved. A few tense moments passed before the iconic words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Though tired, Armstrong and Aldrin were likely excited, probably more than any of us on Earth. They had asked about advancing their walk ahead in the schedule, saying it would be hard to take the planned two-hour nap. Instead of walking in the wee hours of the night for America, Armstrong and Aldrin also said moving the walk ahead would allow most of America to watch it live. The planned nap was cancelled. The wait to see the walk seemed to last forever. Finally, it came. The not-too-clear, B&W live feed from the Moon. Though Armstrong was still descending the ladder, the camera image of the Lunar Module’s leg was a big wow. Bigger yet, seeing Armstrong step onto the lunar surface. Then, seeing Aldrin step onto the surface.

We stayed up late, even listening to the half-speech by President Nixon congratulating Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of their success, and the realization of the goal set forth by President Kennedy.

The landing and walk inspired many. Ginny, my sister, was already intrigued with math and physics. It motivated her more to pursue that as her course of studies in college. It also led her to apply to NASA as a mission-specialist astronaut in the late 1970s. She scored that all-important first interview. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it to the next round. My direction was a bit different with the chemistry degrees and the military life, but the inspiration was there. It proved anything, and everything, is possible.

While much has changed in the intervening years, the Apollo 11 mission, and those that followed, accomplished the pinnacle of spaceflight. It was a bit of derring-do. But, it was also a dedication and a determination to fulfill what was long considered a nearly impossible dream. It is what America does best – “we do things because they are not easy, we do things because they are hard.”


Extras -

NASA videos:

  • A video of 3-D imaging performed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter of the Apollo 11 landing site. Please watch here.
  • A video of  the MAVEN survey mission to Mars. Please watch here.


About the photos -

The Life “Special Issue” magazine on the Apollo 11 mission is my own. The photos of two articles found inside was the first time the magazine had been opened in nearly 44 years. The magazine has a few creases from when it was sent by mail.


Bonus -

The back cover of the magazine:



We remember our handsome boy, Dino, who passed away six years ago today.

late night, April 2008


Always a happy boy from the very second he came into our home as a six-week old kitten in October 1989, Dino was a special delight his entire life. You wondered how he could take up most of the bed as a little kitten. It took awhile adjusting to the sliver of bed he gave. When I married Andrea, Dino and Pebbles left us with so little bed space. But, we adjusted. When Deborah and Elizabeth were born, Dino made a special effort to inhale all of their baby freshness. He couldn’t get enough.

morning solitude, June 2008


When the day came to say goodbye, Dino signaled it was time with his blue eyes. They were bright. They were warm. They were understanding. Like every other day.

Occasionally, a swish of his tail can be seen from the corner of the eye. Or, his familiar jump into bed can be felt.

Though we miss Dino terribly, it is not of sadness but of missing the days and nights he spent with us. His purr. His extra close snuggle in bed. We were privileged and blest to have Dino as part of our family for nearly 19 years.


Love you always,

mom and dad



Photos from the archives of Two Cats Two, our former personal cat website.

The Beach


“Savor the moment.”

During our equestrian trip to San Juan Capistrano, an afternoon side trip to the beach in Dana Point was made. While surfers and beachgoers can be regularly found at the Strands or Salt Creek, we largely had the beach to ourselves. May be it was the marine layer and the cool temperatures, which lingered through most of the day, kept visitors away. Walking the beach, the girls swished their bare feet in the water and sand. When it came, they paused to watch the sunset – savoring every second.

A good end to a day off.


For the more adventurous, Elisa Ruland showcased a hike to a different beach here.


The rains arrived at mid-afternoon. The slow-moving thunderstorms dropped torrents of wind-driven rain for nearly 45 minutes.




Running late, after wrapping up a practice day at the JN Ranch, my daughters and I returned home in the middle of the downpour. Other than standing water on the roadway, the only problem was dodging certain drivers who continued to drive oblivious to the conditions. While the storm was blowing over the city, the lights flickered while Laurie was performing an operation. Her surgical microscope almost shutdown during the power surge before it settled down.

While this torrent brought about 2 inches of rain, another round of heavy rain is expected later tonight.

Color It Gray

It has been a day of low clouds and fog, especially this morning.



The sun eventually broke through at the JN Ranch, not so much back towards home where the low clouds have hung on stubbornly. Not the best of summer days, it was a good practice day for the girls and their horses. Very focused amid the changing light conditions and the muddy footing.

A respite from the deluge of rain for most of the day, the sound of distant thunder is making itself known. Hopefully, it won’t be like the 3½ inches of rain we received yesterday.