Friday, December 7, 2012


Our much-anticipated move from The House on Hybiscus began at 8:30 a.m. this morning and ended at about 5:00 p.m. this afternoon.
Our desire to downsize as retirement comes in about three years was finally fulfilled today. 
We're slowing down.  We're cutting expenses.  We're reducing the number of hours spent on housework and on yard work and on maintaining a pool.  We're heating and cooling a smaller space.  We're getting old.  We're tired.  We needed this move.  And today we got it.

In preparation for this move, Debra emptied and packed all the kitchen cupboards and drawers earlier this week.
Don and Paul, our professional movers, gave us the red carpet treatment.  They also kept our floors protected.
Four hand-trucks worth of boxes ready to load.
The master bedroom, as The House on Hybiscus slowly slips from our grasp.
As Don and Paul got close to finishing the loading of the truck, I got a bit bored, so I read while I waited for them to complete the job.

Please click below to check out our change-of-address:

Sunday, November 4, 2012


With our house selling last week and with our offer on our next house accepted, Debra and I started getting ready for the move this weekend.  I spent a good part of one day last week dumpster surfing.  It was a profitable surfing expedition as I brought home several cardboard boxes for packing.
With boxes and plastic trash liners ready, we put everything we touched yesterday into one of three piles: (1) keep, (2) take to Goodwill and (3) take to the dump.
Our current home of more than 12 years has an area of over 1600 square feet.  Our new home has only about 1200 square feet.  Downsizing has been our goal.  Purging has been our weekend assignment.

The fruit of my dumpster-surfing labor.
Debra places our belongings into one of three piles.
Goodwill got one small pickup load of stuff.
The dump got one large pickup load of stuff.
With the dump load securely tied and tarped, I headed out.
After returning from the dump, it was time to head to Goodwill.
Destination reached.
Several years ago, Debra and I created our "Family Wall", with photos of all our children and grandchildren.
The photos will be going with us to our new home.
The photos that have adorned our hallway for the past twelve years will also be moving with us.
Our current home has a living room and a family room.  Our new home has only a living room, so some of our furniture has to go. 
We tried selling our living room furniture on Craigslist but, with little response, we decided to sell it on consignment at a local furniture store.

It looks like we'll be moving in early December.  The House on Hybiscus will still be The House on Hybiscus, but we won't be living in it any longer.  So, this blog soon may be experiencing an identity crisis.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


About three years ago, when the Moffits were in a remote village on the island of Mindanao, I decided to do something fun for Daisy, Ally and Neo.  I made a video called "Story Time with Papa" and read a story to them. 
Several possible stories were considered: The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the poem Three Little Kittens, and the song Three Blind Mice.  All of these possibilities were ruled out for various reasons and I finally settled on a much superior story, The Three Little Moffits.
At the time, I copied the story onto a CD and sent it to them.  I was not able to post it on YouTube because YouTube allowed a maximum of only fifteen minutes per posted video. That rule has changed, however, and the story of The Three Little Moffits can now be heard
by clicking:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


In addition to celebrating my sister’s birthday earlier this week, we three siblings (Judy, Dean and me) along with my sister’s friend, Kevin, recorded a music video appropriate for this time of year, “The Monster Mash”.  Dean provided lead vocals while Judy provided backup vocals. 

Dean and Judy had finalized the sound track before I arrived on Sunday.  Dean had also rearranged furniture to create a video staging area.  Once Kevin arrived, we all dressed our parts, turned on the soundtrack, and started video recording. 
I drove 695 miles round trip to record this music video and all I got was a lousy bit part wearing a Frankenstein mask. 
But it was fun!

Dean was the star of the show.
Judy was the co-star.
I got a bit part behind a mask, but you can tell from my right eyebrow and the upper half of my right eyeball that it's obviously me behind that mask.
Kevin also got a bit part behind a mask.
After completing our music video project, the entire cast  (Kevin, Judy, Dean and me) all headed to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.

To view three moderately immature adults
starring in “The Monster Mash”
Click the play tab below:


While spending time together this week celebrating my sister’s birthday, the three of us siblings - Judy, Dean and me - decided to visit two special people from our past.  Our grandparents, Nonny and Carly, gave all three of us some of our most cherished childhood memories.  For me, they served as role models in the art of grandparenting.  Because of their influence, I am constantly thinking of ways to build good memories into the lives of my own grandchildren. 
Carly died when we were quite young, in 1961.  He was barely in his fifties when he succumbed to his fourth and final heart attack.  Nonny lived until 2002, when she passed away at the age of 94. 
Judy, Dean and I spent over two hours this week strolling through the cemetery before we finally stopped to pay tribute to Nonny and Carly in the final resting place of their cremated remains. 
Following our visit to the cemetery, we drove by the house where Nonny and Carly lived  while we were growing up.  A lady was standing at the door as we drove by and Judy wanted to go to her door and talk to her.  Dean pulled the car to the curb, Judy went to the front door and met Susan, the lady who now owns the house.  Within minutes Susan invited all three of us in to see Nonny and Carly’s old house again.   
The inside and outside were completely remodeled and re-landscaped.  But as we stood in the living room, some of our fondest memories came flooding into our minds and some tears began to flow. 
Susan was delighted to learn from us some of the history behind her house.  While we were all in the backyard, we asked Susan if she would take a picture of the three of us, then we thanked her for her hospitality, promised to send her some old photos of how the house and yard once looked, then we left.

Judy, Dean and I stand in the backyard of Nonny and Carly's house for the first time in about forty years.
The same two sides of the house are seen in this photo taken over fifty years ago.  Dean, standing at the head of the table, is enjoying his birthday party while I, on the far left, join the rest of the birthday crowd.
The three of us were there while the house was being built.  Here we stand on the floor surrounded only by the 2x4 framing.
The picturesque living room windows are among the great features of this house. Most of the house has changed since we were kids, but these windows have remained unchanged.
Judy stands in the backyard with our great-grandmother (Nonny's mother), Nan.  Nan used to tell us great stories such as how, as a child, her family moved from Wisconsin to Kansas in a covered wagon.
On a sad day in 1961, friends and family gathered in the backyard following Carly's funeral.
Dean (on the chair) and I (on the lounge) are among those who gathered after Carly's funeral.
Nonny and Carly's backyard was adorned with a table that Carly built around a walnut tree.
I was able to help with the grilling.
Judy sits in a chair with the same walnut tree in the background.
From left to right are Nonny, Carly and Uncle Bob.
Carly spearheaded a neighborhood movement in which all the neighbors went to great lengths to decorate their homes for Christmas.  Ultimately, their street was known as Christmas Tree Lane and Carly, dressed in his Santa suit, would sit beside his sleigh and hand out candy to children in the cars of the bumper-to-bumper traffic that would visit this event each year.
One of our most memorable events was when Nonny and Carly took us camping to Yosemite.  Carly rented a trailer for the trip.
Nonny, on the left, entertains some friends.  The big brick fireplace no longer exists and has been replaced with a modern steel-front fireplace.
Dean and I sit on Santa's lap on the hearth.  We knew that Santa was really Carly.
This week, Judy, Dean and I, strolled through the historic cemetery adjacent to the newer cemetery where Nonny and Carly's remains are kept.
Carl M. Bell (1908-1961) rests beside Lura B. Bell (1908-2002).
Paying tribute.
Thank you, Nonny and Carly.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Today my sister, Judy, turns sixty-six.  My brother, Dean, and I joined her to celebrate the occasion.  For Judy's birthday this year I made her a personal birthday card and I bought her a custom-made baseball cap with her age proudly displayed on the front. 

Actually, the baseball cap was originally intended to be a prop for a video I made for her.  But after completing the video, I had no use for it.  Judy did.  She's sixty-six! 

With Dean looking on, Judy reads her birthday card.

This is what Judy's birthday card looked like.
Judy proudly shows off her age by wearing her new baseball cap.
Dean and I show our adoration for our big sister before we all watch her new birthday video together.
Judy's 66th birthday video, which is a parody of Nat King Cole's hit, "Route 66", 
can be viewed by clicking the play tab below:

Viewer Warning:  Turn on the volume and be patient.  The first 35 seconds of this video are silent.