Family News
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Mike and Sandy are finally feeling settled at their new apartment at Viamonte in Walnut Creek. They mainly miss their 3rd bedroom, but everything else is working out great. Viamonte is an upscale apartment building, but much more than just that. It's strictly for seniors, so it features a set of activities and amenities that would make a "Sun City" proud, plus an a la carte menu of Assisted Living services that can come to your apartment in the future if and when you have need of any of them. There's also a wing of the building with memory care services, should that need arise down the road. The location can't be beat -- within easy walking distance are 3 grocery stores, a Post Office and a UPS store, an Ace Hardware, a dry cleaners, a nail salon, and dozens of restaurants.

Here's a series of pictures showing a bit of Viamonte. There are two big courtyards, surrounded by the 4-story building. Our cars live comfortably side-by-side in the secure basement garage. Our apartment is on the top floor, with a great view of Mt. Diablo right out all of our windows. (OK, we also can see the roof of our neighboring Safeway store, but tilt your head up a bit!)

There's a great fitness center and pool, and various private rooms we can use when an invited group is a little too big for our apartment. The whole place reminds us somewhat of our days on Holland America cruise ships, whose hallways were always filled with art and decorations, just as Viamonte is.

And we've taken a few pictures of some of the rooms in our apartment.

With Covid slowly receding from the headlines, restaurants are opening up, and that means we can resume celebrating birthdays! Here's son-in-law Blake, taking the guest of honor seat, surrounded by his wife Ginger (Mike's oldest daughter), and Mike and Sandy. They are at Vic's, one of the better known restaurants in Martinez.


There's nothing like a small child (or a puppy!) to take over everyone's attention. Sandy's Great-Great-Grandson Kaiden did just that when he turned one. (Kaiden was Sandy's birthday surprise last year, as he was born on her birthday!)




It's true Christmas was a bit odd last year, with social distancing, masks, etc., but 3 year old Addie thought things seemed pretty normal!



And in another branch of the family, Sandy's niece Erin, down in the Los Angeles area, had a 1 year old birthday party for her son Dylan. Both the birthday boy and the dog were tired of waiting for the cake!

Mike and son-in-law Blake have gone on lots of adventures, including riding Segways in Golden Gate Park, but recently did something more leisurely -- a visit to the Disney Family Museum on the parade grounds at the former Presidio of San Francisco Army Base, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Who knew a little mouse could have lead to this huge empire!


You can see more here about previous Mike and Blake adventure trips.


It's easy to see that Mike and Sandy are getting a little older, as this holiday season, they only went to one big party, and even stayed home on New Year's Eve. This picture was at the Blackhawk Women's Christmas event, which had a theme of "An Evening In Paris."




Great grand kids Addison and big brother Colby got dressed up for Halloween just before Covid arrived, and had a great time!

Some 15 years ago, a group of ladies volunteered to buy and assemble "gift bags" which are delivered along with the meal on the birthday of Meals on Wheels receipients. Sandy is now the head of this group, which so far this year has put together over 1000 bags. Here's Sandy with some of her helpers at a recent work session at the MoW offices.




A few years ago, Mike and son-in-law Blake tried a different sort of adventure, this time riding around Golden Gate Park on Segways! (They booked to be part of a group of 7, but the others didn't show, so they got a private tour with their Segway-riding guide.)

You can see more here about previous Mike and Blake adventure trips.

Mike and friends Marv and Jesse recently toured the HUGE Amazon "Fullfillment Center" in Tracy. In addition to seeing the massive building, and learning how they operate 24X7, we learned about their robots and quite unconventional inventory system. (On "Prime Day" last July, this particular warehouse shipped over 14 million packages -- that's about 165 packages per second over the 24 hour day.)


Mike has volunteered for a University of California-Berkeley study of how older people's brains change over time, with one of the goals being to figure out how to predict dementia before it strikes. Part of this involves doing various sorts of tests while inside an MRI machine. Mike talked the experimenters into letting him snap a picture of the computer monitors of his scans one recent morning after some testing.


The second study at UC Berkeley that Mike is participating in involves monitoring your brain functions while you are sleeping. Mike spent two nights in a make-shift bedroom in the UC Psychology Building wired up to the EEG machine. Of course all these wires and tubes complicated sleeping at all! Here's the front and rear view just before bedtime.

Grand-daughter Trisha had a birthday recently and is now moving to a new, higher level job, so congratulations were in order. Three of Mike and Sandy's 5 great-grand-children were present at the dinner.




Blackhawk as usual did Fourth of July fireworks, and Mike hiked up to the top of the hill to see it all. Great Grandson Colby was busy this year, so it was just Mike and friend Marv.

All this cellphone talk about 5G is nothing compared to this 4 G(eneration) picture, showing Sandy, her son Mark, his daughter Trisha, and her soon-to-be-2 daughter Addison.




Sintaro Village, roughly in the middle of Ethiopia, is really poor, and Mike & Sandy's church is more than half-way through a 10-year project to help. A new well, storage tanks, and a fresh-water distribution system have greatly improved health in the village, and kids are showing amazing growth in school. The first building the project built was for grades K-4, and a second, for 5-8, has now joined it. The village doesn't have electricity, but some solar panels on the school roof and a few LED lights for evening adult classes are amazing villagers, most of whom had never before seen an electric light. Mike & Sandy are providing a scholarship for two boys now in the school.


Skipping the big New Year's Eve events at the end of 2018, Sandy and Mike enjoyed a quiet dinner with some friends in the neighborhood. While the men talked about cars, sports, and politicians, the wives talked about something else (maybe their husbands ?).



Great Grandson Colby turned 8, so it was party time, and cup cakes are the latest party thing. Colby worked on blowing out the candles while everyone held their breath!

Mike and Sandy joined several dozen others from their church on a 6-boat flotilla up the Sacramento River for an over-night stay in Old Town. Sunday morning they gathered on a beach along the American River for services before heading back down stream and home. (Mike is easy to find, wearing his bright red baseball cap.)




While Sandy was focused on plans for her 80th birthday family gathering at Sun River, Oregon,

Sneaky Mike quietly worked for months organizing a big surprise party/brunch for her. (Yes, everyone there said 80 WAS hard to believe!) More than 60 attended, including neighbors, church friends, high school class mates, former Walnut Creek neighbors, friends from Sandy's charitable work, etc. And the giant chocolate cake was delicious!







Sandy and Mike were thrilled to be at the wedding of their Great Grand-Daughter Kerri and Alex recently. The newly weds moved to Guam, where Alex was serving in the Navy.


Mike and friend Marv have ridden their bikes onto the new Bay Bridge before, but now the bike path is finished all the way to Yerba Buena Island, so another adventure was in order. Here they are on the Island with the new bridge's tower behind them.

You can see pictures of some other adventures Mike and Marv have tried here.


Great Grandson Colby traveled with Mike up to Jamestown, where they rode the old steam train, and saw all the old trains in the round-house maintenance shop.

When Mike and Sandy's youngest Great Grand-child, Addison, had a BIG one-year birthday party, it wasn't clear that she understood the symbolism of everything, but really easy to tell she liked the birthday cake!




Mike and friend Gary went to the top of Mt. Umunhum near San Jose for amazing Bay Area views. This peak has a massive concrete building which housed a huge Cold War radar installation, plus the modern day radar site for the Weather Bureau (the images you see on the TV news weather reports come from here).
Mike and Sandy traveled to the Palm Springs area to see the big remodel job wrapping up at son Rick's condo, and to visit with friends who live nearby. In addition to touring the big windmill power generation operation out by the Interstate, they took in the Palm Springs VillageFest, a weekly street fair. Here's Sandy and son Rick.




Grandson Jon lived with his Dad in Roseville for a while so they had more opportunities to do some travel and adventures together.


Mike hasn't skied in about 10 years, but when his jury duty was cancelled, he decided to head to the mountains for a day of Spring skiing. Here he is at Boreal Ridge summit. And no broken bones!


Mike's daughter Patty is now settled in at her new apartment in Concord, and enjoying being closer in to town than at her previous digs.

Grandson Ryan had a birthday, but why stick with a traditional birthday cake when you can enjoy Grandma Sandy's famous cheesecake? Here's the birthday boy, with Dad Mark, sister Trisha, and nephew Colby looking on.
Son Rick continues his hobby of skateboarding (even though he could be called a "senior skateboarder" from several perspectives). Here he is at a friend's house, who has a swimming pool-shaped skate bowl in his backyard.



Mike went to Mexico for a week camping out with 210 teenagers (and some other adults) from Mike & Sandy's church to build new houses for 14 poor families. The project was in a "shanty town" area east of Tijuana. Here he's showing how wall framing is done. You can read more about the project, and see some pictures, here.


Grandson Ryan Darius recently married Courtney, expanding our family. The newly-weds just bought a house in Martinez, and like new home-owners everywhere, are repainting and tailoring it to their needs.

Well at least Sandy got into the Halloween spirit! Here's she's in costume heading out to a bridge group event.
Sandy's son Rick bought a 2nd home in Kernville, in the mountains east of Bakersfield, where he is a river rafting guide many summer weekends. Sandy was invited down to admire the new house, and Mike was invited dow to fix some things on the home inspection report. Here's Sandy and Rick overlooking the nearby Kern River.




Grand-daughter Trisha was the host for the Christmas morning brunch two years ago, giving Sandy a break. Son Mike and Grandson Jon, up from Bakersfield, got the "longest distance traveled" award. Here's everyone, except for Mike the photographer.




Son-in-law Blake chose an Italian restaurant to celebrate this year's birthday, maybe because of the yummy deserts they offer (which somehow got slid over in front of Mike).


Son Rick has a day job, but one of his loves is being a guide on river rafting trips. Here he is coming through the Grand Canyon on a recent Colorado River trip.



Mike convinced Sandy it would be great fun (just once!!) to join the New Year's Eve crowd in New York's Times Square. Here they are about an hour before the ball dropped, and the view down the street -- about 1 million people there -- cold weather, but no snow. Along with friends Buzz and Doreen, they also took in the 9/11 Memorial, the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, and other New York sights.

You can see more here.

Sandy is a regular performer in the Assistance League's "Show on the Road" troupe, which visits assisted living facilities around the area. In past shows, Sandy has appeared in many roles, including a "flapper" in a Roaring 20's production, in a "Grease" -type show, as one of Snow White's dwarfs, as a lion, etc.




Mike was a volunteer for the complete rebuild of the San Francisco City Academy building, a major project of Sandy and Mike's Danville church. This took almost 3 years of work, and almost $1.4 million in fund-raising. The Academy, a Christian K-8 school, is very successful, with over 100 students now enrolled.
You can see some pictures of this big project, Mike's work there, and a little of its history, here.


Mike and Sandy recently joined a family party which saw Sandy and all 3 of her sisters together, a fairly unusual event, as the four live in different towns, hundreds of miles apart. Here's Sheila, Barbara (since deceased), Sandy (the oldest), and Carla, in a rare picture.


Sandy and Mike owned a lake house for six years. You can see a few highights of the good times there here.


Mike likes to laugh, and usually knows a few jokes to tell. Cartoons are fun, too.


Want to know more about Sandy and Mike? You can read their "bios" here , or you could read more about their grand-kids here.