Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Big 70

70 years ago today, a wonderful guy was born. The doting family got their boy child to carry on the family name. He was cute, photogenic, and had lots of adoring relatives to fawn over him. He was smart (his mother said so many times!), quiet, and a good boy. He liked airplanes, cowboy stuff, and there was even one picture of him on the back of a horse!

He grew up and his intelligence took him through engineering school, and led to a wonderful scholarship for a Masters Degree at Northwestern University. His professor advisor now has a building named after him on the University campus! His study led him to work in the military/industrial business, designing radar for miitary planes. The childhood love of airplanes came back to become his life's work.

The cowboy connection returned into his life in the late 80's and early 90's when he got several chances to work offsite in Texas. He fell in love with the place! He came back from his long stint driving a Jeep 4 x 4, with several cowboy hats and pairs of cowboy boots in the back, and enough Tex-Mex decor to fill a couple of houses! Imagine my surprise when my very frugal partner called one night and asked if he could buy a $250 pair of cowboy boots! I almost fainted when I heard that! And he had a serious desire to move to Texas permanently if it were possible, to the point of dragging me around to look at houses during one of my visits there. But, I think his love of horses was limited to attending a rodeo or two and watching someone else ride! He got to assist his daughter-in-law in the process of turning a stallion into a gentler sort on one visit, and that about did it for him to squelch any love of horses! Let someone else deal with them!

The children remember things such as his advice "Measure twice, cut once." It took him a whole year to cut the studs for a basement remodel. When they were all in place, we said, "Good, now you can put up drywall." Hold on, not so fast! Every stud was cut to perfection and was solidly in place without one nail holding them! He had to take the entire thing down to nail down the baseplate, THEN nail up the studs before more progress could be made! Meticulous.

Another love of his was building garden walls. The first project lasted for 3 years from beginning to end. Big learning curve, plus the trips to Texas came in between and the infamous Flood of '93 made building outdoors a challenge that year! When we moved to the country, he ordered 1000 wall blocks to landscape a big house without one stick of outdoor hardscape, unless you want to count the 12 patio stones that were outside our two basement patio doors.. It took him several years to complete the wall building there, but everything was very nicely done and looked great. He wanted to build walls at this house, but we ordered the blocks when he was ill, he could barely pick them up. I had to have professional help to finish those walls, but they still remind me of him. I even did some wall building myself one year, after watching the master at work through all those projects!

The city boy was really a country boy at heart. He loved our country home, composed of 160 acres of land practically filled completely with trees, that place was his dream come true. He lived there and revelled in the woods. He wished to die there, if only wishes could come true!

We are not celebrating the birthday today in the usual way--beef stroganoff, noodles and German Chocolate cake. Those were the items on the menu on March 27 for many years. It has been almost 4 years now that we've been without our dear man. The Good Lord took him June 2, 2006, after a 22 month battle with brain cancer. He fought the good fight, and was positive till almost his last day on earth that the next day he would wake up and be all better. He finally accepted his fate one night, and said to me, "Well, I guess I'm screwed." He died 3 days later, quietly and with dignity. We were all with him till his last minute on earth.

So, here's to you Edwin, we'll remember you always. Your oldest grandson looks like you when you were 4, we have both of your pictures next to each other--there is an amazing resemblence. Grandson #2 told people for a long time, "See, I have a good airplane, my grandpa likes this airplane!" It's too bad that the younger grandkids don't remember this grandpa, because they were so little when he was taken away. Little Boy M said the other day, "I miss my grandpa. But I don't remember him that much!" It's amazing he does remember his grandpa, because he was just two when Grandpa passed away. His little sister was only 9 months old, and professes to remember her grandpa. Probably from the stories her mother and brother and aunts and grandma have told her. Your son and youngest grandchild bear your first name, and will carry on the family name to future generations. There must have been a reason God gave our son his three sons! To carry on the family name proudly.

Anyway we all have good memories of our dear husband, father, brother-in-law, cousin, grandpa, we say hi everytime we pass the cemetary near our house, and on March 27, we remember that a really great guy celebrated his birthday on this day.

And our little friend in the country shares his birthday, so Happy Birthday to you, Lady L! You are growing up too fast.

my bags are packed, I'm ready to go.....

Yes, in about 9 days, I'll be leaving on a jet plane, bound for the middle of the Pacific ocean.

Wow, why would anyone want to go that far and pay that much money? Well, Charles Darwin found the destination quite charming, and his books on the subject have been classics for over 100 years.

I'm talking about the Galapagos Islands, 1000 km off the coast of Ecuador. (I think my brother computed that to be about 600 miles from Ecuador.) That's really in the middle of nowhere! No cell phone towers here, I'm sure!

My brother is a big fan of Jeopardy, as I am also. He retired a couple of years ago, and that makes watching it on a very regular basis quite possible for him. I'm usually free to catch it, if the afternoon sleepytime doesn't take precedence. Last year, Alex Trebek and his Clue Crew went to the Galapagos to film some clues for their show. They had a contest to invite a viewer to go with them. My bro entered but did not win the trip, but it didn't stop his desire to go there. He found out our favorite cruise line was sponsoring a trip or twseveral trips to the Galapagos, and he offered the invitation to his two sisters to go with him. I thought about it for a while and decided it might be something on my "bucket list", so I agreed to go with him.

The downsides to this trip are: it's during the school semester, so I'll be missing 2 full weeks of school; it cost and arm and a leg, and a couple of other body partts added in; and it is darn far away!

Most people who I share the information that I'm going are so enthusiastic. I'm just apprehensive--going so far away, what will it be like? Will I be able to climb all those volcanoes and run away from the blue footed boobies? How will my veiny legs look when I'm snorkeling? Norovirus? Tsunamis? Earthquakes? Will any of those things scourge us? And how about a long airplane flight?

I'm not a veteran of international travel. I'm already experiencing culture shock and I haven't even set foot on the plane! I guess I need to do this to experience what my students have already experienced. They got out of their comfort zone of their home culture and came to the U.S. for something else. This trip is a trip of a lifetime, and I hope it turns out good.

Wish me luck with the Darwinian wildlife, the cruise ship, the airplane ride, and the shock of showing my winter pale but heavily veined legs in public! I'm not sure which aspect has me more apprehensive.

In the past, when I've been scared or unsure, the event usually turned out great. I sure hope it works out this way also.

Note to thieves: I have a very moody and unpredictable cat guarding my property. Plus, he has a daily Cat Checker, who will be on call at the littlest problem. Leave my house alone.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hello, Stranger!

Hello, Blog. Long time no see! What have I been doing? Well, the list is long.

March 9 was the last post. Since that time I've:

Gone to three funerals--some folks were ready to go, others fought it until the end.

Visited a very much alive friend, who is very sick with cancer. But he is not feeling pain, just uncomfortable, and trying to make peace with what lies ahead. It was a great visit. He was such a help to us when my hubby was sick with cancer, he drove Ed to all of his radiation treatments. Every day for 6 weeks straight. It helped us, because then I could continue to work.

Each of the funerals I've gone to in the past month have reconnected me with old friends who lost loved ones. It's bad for their loss, but good for reconnecting with people you haven't seen in a long time.

Had more meetings with the production staff of "The Producers", our summer show that we are already working on. Wow, is this going to be a big job!

Had a date with my favorite guy--too bad it's a guy about to celebrate his 6th birthday, he'll be 6 on Wednesday! He was charming, witty, delightful as we purused the Lego aisle at Toys 'R Us, looking for just the right birthday gift. Then we went to lunch, then home for some good old Lego building. What a cutie he is!

Spring Break found us not enjoying spring one bit, as it was cold and rainy many of the days. One day it was pretty, but that was followed by a rainy, snowy, cold windy day.

Made TWO matching meals for my family on Sunday. One was for the ones who had a taste for great-grandma Lawler's Irish boiled dinner--corned beef and cabbage. The other was for the non-Irish traditionalists, pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes and gravy. Nice to have my kitchen table surrounded by family, and it wasn't even Christmas or Thanksgiving!

Found a new fabric store over in Illinois. There's something over there besides strip clubs, crooked politicians and.....NV! Great store in Wood River, IL. I'll be back!

Maybe, maybe, I have a potential paying sewing gig. A new Irish store opened in our fair city, and the owner is looking for someone who can sew custom garments. I've gotten 3 patterns for kilts, jackets and I'm reading through the booklet on how to make kilts. It's an undertaking, that's for sure, but the end result is better than making a costume to last two weekends for a show then get stuffed into a high priced closet. A kilt is a serious garment, destined to last a lifetime--providing you don't consume too many Irish potatoes and make your tummy grow! Serious money goes into them, also, and serious money comes back to the seamstress!

Saw "Crazy Heart" at the movies--Jeff Bridges was very, very good, and it was a very good story. The chair was uncomfortable, we were in the 3rd row, and my neck was sore. But the movie passed so quickly I didn't even squirm. Go see it, it is good! Also saw "Noises Off" by Clayton Community Theatre. I don't know how anyone survives all the physical humor of that show. It was very entertaining.

So, that is what has been keeping me busy lately. That, and I discovered Facebook games, the time waster of all time-wasters. Naughty. One member of my family actually tried to give it up, it was her addiction, and she was going into a 12 step program to quit. She has fallen off the wagon, sorry to say. But now we can be in competition once again to see who gets the most points in Bejeweled Blitz!

Hope to keep this blog updated with more Producers news.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Pile of Kleenex, and menthol breath

That is my plight right now--I've emptied at least 3 Kleenex boxes in the past 3 days, and have had to search for the Halls. I've been lucky to evade the swine flu, the seasonal allergies, the winter cold, and now it is March. This is my traditional month to succumb to whatever virus is still left standing after all those others have passed away.

Right now, I'm only slightly miserable, with a drippy nose and sneezes a-plenty. I hope it doesn't get much more troublesome.

So wish my antibodies luck, fight off this virus, and leave me to enjoy my spring break next week with a healthy body!