Our SoCal friends were in our part of the state again for a second major Amador Vintner's Assn event - The Big Crush! Celebrating that time of year when the grapes are ready to bring in from the vines and get crushed, stomped or what have you. The Baers and their kids were up, as well as Rick & Gulshen. The Favetti's didn't make it but the Baers created and laminated a 'Flat Tony' to carry along (and pose) with us.

I couldn't stop. Completed four more science fiction classics since the last article. These three were worth extra notice: Man Plus by Frederick Pohl (1976), Gateway by Frederick Pohl (1977) and The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (1974).

Roughly a year ago, I obtained a 30-book series called "Masterworks of Science Fiction". Not a series in that each book continued the same story, but a series of what some consider the best Science Fiction novels since 1950. Many of these classic books had gone out of print, and the creators of the collection thought this a good way to bring them back... to the attention of a whole new generation of readers. Since then I've been tearing my way through them. Fortunately, the version of the collection I stumbled on must have been about 10 years old. Since 2000 the complete collection has expanded from 30 to 73 books.

Our Summer vacation for 2012 was a Disney Dream Caribbean Cruise along with a few days spent at various sites in Florida. For most of the trip we were in the company of the Baers (Robb, Melinda, Jack, Amanda) and, sometimes, Robb's folks Pam & Steve. It's the fifth vacation I've taken with Robb & Melinda (Italy twice, China, Yosemite/Safari West, and this trip). It's the third vacation Fianna has taken with Jack & Amanda who she calls "My Guys". Do kids take vacations?

On July 4th of last year my Grandmother Brown passed away at 88 years old. Grandma Brown always had a smile and kind words for just about anyone she met. As with many of Americans of her generation, she was very patriotic and devoutly Christian. She would often tell stories of her early family life. When she was a child the family lived week to week, moving wherever there was work and enjoying simple and rare pleasures, like an extravagant trip downtown for an ice cream sundae, the single new Christmas present she got one year, or 10 cent boxes of oatmeal. As a young adult at the time of WW2, she could relate how everyone pulled together in salvaging scrap materials and rationing goods. She'd never complain, just laugh about how different things and people are now.

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