Friday, May 16, 2008

"Things I Wish I Had Done First" Picture Chronicles #2

Every now and then a good idea comes along and I just have to admit it. Like ... okay, instead of purchasing screens for every window in your house ... why not just cover the whole darn thing with one big sack-like screen? What's the down side? You say, "Hey, I have a big house!" No problem! If it works at this place ... it will most certainly work for you. Just buy the special "Sears Tower" size!

And if you really buy the premium design I'll bet you can even zip your house to the ground...

(Special added bonus. Feeling a little suicidal? Well, it ain't happening in your newly screened in home! The kids can actually amuse themselves for hours by bouncing on their beds and then diving out the window!)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Inning #3. Who moved the lake?

What can I say? First we couldn't get out on the roof. Melody got us there though. With the help of John from engineering we found ourselves on the eastern roof. Not good. The eastern roof is much further than the western roof from the lake. But still, it was my best shot. This one's for you, Mel ...

"When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it's peaceful as can be
And there the world below can't bother me
Let me tell you now

When I come home feelin' tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet (up on the roof)
I get away from the hustling crowd
And all that rat-race noise down in the street (up on the roof)
On the roof, the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so
Let's go up on the roof (up on the roof)"

Then came the moment of truth. I had a crowd. There were a couple of people watching from down below. I think I saw "News Chopper 3" circling above. (Not sure about that one ...) And then ....

Tomorrow is expected to be a rainout.

Update! 3rd inning to be played later today!

Sweet. It truly is not about what you know but WHO you know. And I seem to know the right people. There are two "penthouses" on top of this building. I have met a friend who lives in one of them and another friend has a key to her penthouse. This friend is willing to let me into the penthouse which ... (and this is HUGE) ... opens up to the roof. The ROOF, my friend! That means height! Elevation! A RUNNING START!!! (Note to self: stop running before the building ends.)

Stay tuned.

Baseball 5 - Ron 0 (2nd Inning)

(Note from the trenches) This is harder than I thought. I took 4 throws over my lunch hour today. Debbie video taped all 4 but I'll save you the repetitive agony of the first two. Here is the last 2 throws and the walk to get the ball. Sorry. I posted them in mixed-up order. Blame it on too many pitches in the 2nd inning. Took the blood away from my brain ...
(Actually the first video is the second video, the second video is the first video and, well, the third video is obviously the third. So. Just switch the first two. I think. Geez. Just watch 'em so that I didn't do all of this for nothing!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

And today's guest blogger is ...

Thank you thank you ladies and gents, thanks to large quantity of requests I, Katie, am the guest blogger. Ok, not really, it’s more just my Uncle Ron and I are lazy and asked each other to do a guest blog so we wouldn’t have to. I was thinking, my Uncle Ron shared some memorable moments from my young life, and it just wouldn’t be fair if people didn’t get to hear some of MY stories about him…so here it goes.

I was convinced when I was younger that Uncle Ron was a bounty hunter or something. He used to watch my sister and I like we were gazelles and he was the hungry lion. And then when he saw us at our weak point, he’d pounce, he’d come in for the kill. The dreaded hug and kiss. My sister and I hated it, I don’t really know why, but we did. Then even when we thought we were safe because my Aunt Debbie, Scott and Chris would come we were sadly mistaken. He’d send his two henchmen out to hug us and kiss us for him….these were probably my first memories of my dear old uncle, and they will probably be the ones that I remember when I’m wearing diapers with a walker and hearing aids and they feed me lime Jell-O in my moo-moo.

Before I continue on, there is something I should admit to you. I have a problem, well it has actually progressed past problem into addiction. I’m an addict of Vanilla Coke. It all started one glorious day in good ol’ Bethalto. What the heck, I was just thrilled to be hanging out in my Uncle’s sweet mustang. I didn’t know I was about to be introduced to my future unbreakable habit. He went in with a giant mug of his own, and I was a little confused, up here in Wisconsin, you don’t see that, but then again, if we had vanilla coke many things would be different. I’m convinced that if Vanilla Coke was here, no one woulda cried at Brett Favre’s retirement, I know I didn’t, the Fonz woulda been bronzed a long time ago, and everyone else would finally see that the Brewers really DO suck, Prince Fielder or not. But I guess that’s a little off topic. Over that Thanksgiving trip down there I drank triple my weight in Vanilla Coke, which lead me to get pretty sick. But did I stop drinking it, at the request of my mother, I don’t think so, I continued to guzzle that amazing beverage until the moment we left. And just as any good enabler would, Uncle Ron brought me up a gallon of the vanilla they use!! But just like any dealer, the goods come with a price, I exchange him cases of Tahitian Treat for my Vanilla, at an undisclosed location of course.

Now is one of my favorite memories, Uncle Ron rented a house thing on Madeline Island, ok maybe that’s not the name, I don’t really remember, but you had to drive all the way up north and then put your car on ferry and come across Lake Superior, once again, I don’t know if that was really Lake Superior. Once we got there it was like this little adorable island. I honestly can not tell you what we did there besides one thing. Scott and I watched Scrubs the entire day, I remember people coming in and out from doing stuff but we watched Scrubs for an entire day. I’m crossing my fingers, waiting for the next time we all get together like that. Plus they had these wicked hand driers at a restaurant that like move your skin out of the way and you can see all your bones…it’s even more fun if you put your face down there…not that I tried or anything.

Our family is spread out, pretty much from the Mississippi River Eastward, which doesn’t always make staying in touch easy, but when I was in high school and I was going through what every high schooler goes through, he was one of the people I could tell EVERYTHING to. Seriously my inbox was fuller than anyone else’s I knew, he even has his own folder! When it comes down to it, I don’t have a gazillion memories of him physically being there for me, but the ones I do are really important because I know how often I get to see him, so I make the most of it. For some people this is hard to understand, and unless you are part of a family like mine, I don’t really think you could. It’s this awesome vibe knowing that at any given moment if you needed something or just needed to talk there is a handful of people scattered across the country who would love to hear from you and who would do anything to help you out.

So in an effort to avoid getting all mushy on you, I’ll tell you one more thing. Uncle Ron and I are in a challenge. He is trying to throw the baseball in the lake and he has challenged me to bowl a 200. Little does he know when I was younger my mom started a similar challenge to learn how to whistle. You know that loud obnoxious whistle with your fingers, well, guess what, I won $20 that summer. And I’m not about to start losing.

Ciao all of Uncle Ron’s faithful readers, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me again,


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Baseball 1 - Ron 0 (1st inning)

It has been so tempting for so long. I stand on the balcony and stare out at the lake, baseball in hand. I can do it. I know I can do it. I cannot tell exactly how many feet it is but I know it's reachable. By me.

Years ago I was in an Eddie Bauer store at some suburban shopping mall and they were selling off a bunch of brown baseballs. Yeah. Brown. I suppose it was suppose to be trendy or something. I bought one. Or two. Or six. But I have one left and I brought it to Cleveland with me when I relocated.

Well, the lake is brown. The baseball is brown. It seemed like a natural fit. I've been carrying this baseball around for half a decade now. It is time for it to take its rightful place. And today ... was the day.

I really thought today was the day.

I stood on the balcony, measuring the throw. No, I wasn't trying to keep from over-throwing the lake. Duh. I was trying to figure out how to get maximum velocity and distance without smashing my hand on the frame of the patio door behind me or the railing of iron in front of me. I took practice throws without the baseball. I loosened up. I prayed over my rotor cuff. I took the baseball in hand. It felt so good. Just like it did back in high school.

I can do this.

I gripped the ball. I wound up as best I could in the small area. I went directly over hand and released the ball at the point of maximum lift and speed. Oh how she flew. Debbie let out a little gasp. (THAT made my day. Actually, it made my life!) We watched her soar off toward her watery grave. It was a certain "slam dunk." (Pun intended.)

And then it landed on the grass. Yeah, the grass. About 30 feet short of the water. It didn't bounce. It didn't roll. It landed with a thud and lay there in the grass. If ever a baseball felt ashamed, this one did. And it should have. I KNOW I threw it hard enough. Obviously this ball is aerodynamically challenged.

There will be a round two. It's only May. This baseball WILL be in the lake before the first of summer.

Come on. That was a long toss anyway you look at it. I threw that thing from the 2nd balcony from the top in the middle section that juts out from the building. I'm behind 1 - 0. But it's just the first inning...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Like a cruise ship without the cruise. Or the ship.

I swore off "lake pictures" a few months back. But, darn it, it got so pretty this afternoon that I just had to go stand on the balcony and stare. I mean, come on. Sometimes it's just ridiculously beautiful. From the port hole ... I mean the balcony window ... you can see currents in the lake, swirls of water going in different directions. The colors take on a hue of their own in these areas and you can't help but being spell bound by them. I'm hoping it will be as spell binding next month when we move into a one bedroom apartment (we are moving into a one bedroom apartment!!!!!) on the 3rd floor as it is from this 300 sq. foot cell on the 9th.

Sitting on the bed and staring out the window gives you a view that will not allow you to see any of the grass or the pool area between the apartment building and the lake. It's got the view of a cruise ship. A cruise ship that isn't really a ship. And it isn't really moving. And it's on a huge lake and not the ocean. And it isn't nearly as deep as the real sea. And their aren't hurricanes, octopus, sharks, or submarines.

See what I mean? Just like a cruise ship. Oh. And there are no ice bergs, reefs, tides, or huge sandy beaches. See? Just like a cruise ship...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mom's Day

So today is mother's day. And that is a very big deal. The most giving, loving and devoted people that I know are mom's. Seriously. My mom was lovingly devoted to giving me grief! (Okay, that was a joke. So smile and get over it!)

But the best mom I've ever known is my wife. Today was the first mother's day she has ever experienced without seeing her kids "face to face." And I say "face to face" because, thanks to hi-technology, she did see all three of them. We spent about 45 minutes video-chatting with them tonight, along with our son-in-law and daughter-in-law. No, it's not the same. You can't smell the food you are sharing or get the hugs that accompany the day. But it is far better than just talking on the phone and trying to imagine what they look like today. True, my family is insane. And I mean that in a very good way. When we are together the place never lacks for laughter. It also never lacks for commitment, love, and caring. You see, I have the best family dwelling on the planet. You know why?

Because of her. My wife. She's the reason.

I watched her nurture our daughter, Kelli. As our first born she got all of the theories and experiments tried on her. And now? Now she's a mom just like her own mom. She reflects her mother's competence and wisdom. No, she never baked me much with her e-z bake oven (I still grieve this, Kelli) but she caught the wonderful traits of her mom. Things like caring, nurturing, and selfless devotion. The love she exudes to her husband and daughter was learned at the knee of her mom.

Scott? "Mr. Strong Will." And Debbie was quick enough to pick it off and to realize that this often difficult personality trait would serve him well in later years. Once he decided what he believed in NOTHING would sway him from following its path. Today he serves His God ... our God ... with passion and fervor. Couldn't possibly be more proud of him. And where was he nurtured into the young man that he is? At his mom's knee. It's just true. I'm not exaggerating.

Chris? Wow. He loved to throw challenges at us. They began when he had hearing difficulties early in his childhood. That made it difficult for him to speak. So what did Debbie do? She ignored the advice of many experts and taught him sign-language. It was invaluable to him throughout those years until things cleared up for him. Yes, we spent the first 5 years of his life teaching him to talk. We are still telling him to shut up! (Just kidding, Christopher!) He is a man who loves God, loves his fiancee, loves his family. We are amazingly proud of him. And why did he turn out like he has? Because of the love and commitment of his mom. And I'm dead serious.

You see, I could write all sorts of tributes to my wife. They are deserved. But honestly, there is just no need for me to do that. Her tributes live and breath. They walk and talk. They serve and they care. Her tributes are her children. Nothing ... NOTHING ... speaks more loudly than that.

I love you, Debbie. Thanks for letting me be part of your life.