Travel Escapades

October 18, 2021

Leg something of the trip. Jane drove from Ann Arbor to Geneva. Too many hours, but no major issues. In a largish SUV. The vehicle size was required by the continued moving of Dad’s belongings from his old house to others. In this case to Ashlan and Allen. Two boxes, two paintings, a Schotz clock, and a poster tube. Jane’s condo has a few more clear square feet.

AirBnb 2 – Geneva version. Geneva, New York that is. We had 8 of us, at least for one night. The first night had 5, the last 4. Such are the vagaries of folks schedules and work demands. But we all managed to convene about an hour before the main event.

Happy family snuggle
Grandpa Carl and Corwin
Aunt Ashlan
Allen helping Carl with his tie

The main event was the marriage of nephew David and Maren. Maren’s family is in Geneva and it was a lovely area. Most of the festivities took place in the Cracker Factory. Which had actually been a cutlery factory, but cracker is an easier sell.

The kids, Ashlan, Allen, Rey and Becca

The ceremony was very nice, not too long with meaningful messages in their vows.

The happy couple, Dave and Maren. I sort of stole this picture by happy accident.

First time for a long time we got dressed up. In retrospect we didn’t stop to take pictures of ourselves. But the shoes, see prior blog, were a hit. Many pictures were much better than mine.

The shoes

Many meet and greets, with food. Lots of new faces, and a few old ones. I do believe my Dad, at 94, the groom’s grandfather, was the oldest in attendance. Maren’s grandmother was there, but I think she was younger. At the very least, younger looking.

Our final meal together was pizza from some recommended restaurant. It was good, and tasty, and New York style. And then it was time to fit all of the things from Harry’s into a different car, a Ford Fusion to be exact. Luckily, Ashlan and Allen did not have much luggage and it all fit.

We left with my phone doing the navigation duties. Apparently the phone decided we should avoid tolls and took us through the finger lakes area, then Pennsylvania, eventually New Jersey and finally NYC. By the time we were in Jersey, we had accepted the slightly shorter route with tolls. The route was generally acceptable, expected duration of 5 hours.

The actual duration ended up around 8-1/2 hours. The fun started when we entered Pennsylvania on I-81 South. The dashboard lit up with a low tire pressure warning, and while 3 tire’s had pressures in the 30s. The right front tire was at 23. Then 22, 21 and dropping. We exited into the Great Bend Welcome Center rest area, and set about trying to get a fix. It was about 7:30 PM, and dark. Checking the tire, they could hear air escaping from the side wall.

Scene of the split

Allen started by calling the Thrifty (you get what you pay for) rental agency to request roadside service. The extremely unhelpful folks said we should see if there was a spare tire, but the small donut spares are only good for 50 miles. We were 165 miles from NYC, and would have tried to slowly stretch the mileage. Recall that we had completely filled the trunk… Carl and I vacated the back seat and it was filled with the boxes and suitcases. Of course it was raining, just a bit at this point.

After digging to the bottom of the trunk we discovered ………. no spare! Not even a small one. Just a package with some air, or goo to put into the tire.

The rental folks said no one would be able to help us until the morning, because their nearest service centers were closed for the evening. Instead they suggested we call a Walmart with a tire center. We did try, but Walmart’s tire center is also closed Sunday evening.

At the same time Allen was leading the rental agency charge, I was calling AAA. The Washington office finally got me a number for the Pennsylvania office. And they finally answered to try and help. I explained the situation in general and said we needed to figure out how we could get towed to a tire center… This was going okay, until I mentioned it was a rental car. AAA will not tow rental cars. She actually stayed on the phone while I was checking to see how Allen’s efforts were going. Not well as it turned out. I asked my helper if she thought other towing company would tow a rental car, and she gave me the name and number of a local 24 hour tow company.

Brent, of Vanteger Towing, to the rescue. He arrived at the Welcome Center about an hour after we called, put the car on the back of the truck, fit all of us into his truck, and drove to his repair yard. AND most importantly, he had the right size tire to replace the flat. There was a slice in the sidewall, near the top, and that is not repairable. Finally, after a 2-1/2 hour delay, we were back on the road again.

They have a tire for us!

We finally rolled up to the apartment building at around 1 AM. Safe, in one piece and with all of the luggage having been loaded, unloaded, loaded and finally unloaded for the shuttle run to get from the street to the lobby, lobby to the elevator, into the elevator, out of the elevator, and finally to the door and into the apartment.

Allen had demanded the rental car outfit give them a credit or free rental, especially after they offered no solutions and implied we would just need to spend the night where we were. In the Welcome Center. Dropping off the car this morning, there appears to be a significant credit, but not enough to cover the $250 cost of the tow and tire.

Allen had to work today, but after returning the rental car the rest of us slugged out until the afternoon.

Breakfast

Carl finally rousted us up for a walk. Ashlan led us to the Long Island City waterfront, and through the park. On the way home we stopped at Trader Joe’s to shop for dinner fixings and other necessities. Carl managed 2 bags and Ashlan and I 1 each for the 10 block walk back to the apartment.

View of Manhattan
The Chrysler Building and others
NYC family with Theo as king

Dinner is on the way, mmmm. Spaghetti.

Bits

October 14, 2021

Some notes from our time in Ann Arbor.

We have been getting to know the All Seasons set up. Each apartment has a few shelves outside its entrance. Dad is using this as a revolving showcase.

World Art

Luckily, we were here for the change in installations.

Angels and Demons (little one on the lower shelf)
The Man Himself

There’s a fair amount of art in the hallways, several like this of different houses. This one is along the route to Dad’s room. It reminded him and me of a house at 7th and Liberty. When I walked to elementary school it was my favorite house. It has a turret!

The similarities were strong enough that Carl and I took a drive to see the house.

The real thing. With a balcony for rent.

It is close, and definitely the same style, but not an exact copy. I would spruce the real one up a bit too. I think the color has been changed as well and is drabber.

We have been walking a lot, and getting to see the fall nut harvest. The biggest are the black walnuts, but also acorns and others.

Some kind of a nut
Another nut
Tree art. Or art in trees.
Tiny puffball
Big puffball
Fleming Creek
I thought it was a sculpture. And then it moved.

Almost every day we have walked in part of County Farm Park. Lots of trails, and a fitness course.

Forest fitness challenge

We also had the pleasure of getting together with a friend from kindergarten and her husband. Catching up and planning another rendezvous in less than a year. No pictures, just didn’t think about it while they were here.

And it is now time to start packing again!

Day 1

October 10, 2021

A busy of a different sort.

  • Wake up early or late, depending on your time zone, without benefit of an alarm
  • Ride to Dad’s place from Dad.
  • Brunch – included steak. More like a dinner.
  • Walk- tried one of Dad’s loops down by the river and back.
  • Zoomed with a sister. On an Apple product, where I could not figure out how to paste the invitation into an email. Ctrl V? Just kept typing v. So I took a picture of the url and texted it.
  • Mask and tube shopping
  • Grocery shopping
  • Weight shopping
  • Wrestling with DirecTV and MLB to try to watch the game. Finally managed it after only a few bad words.
  • Now to remember how to work an induction burner. I am the cook because apparently induction and pacemakers are not compatible.
Air BNB TV, with a few streaming services
Game on the computer

Funny story about being picked up this morning. The area is a bit of a spaghetti bowl of roads, and the street signs can be confusing. Carl & I had gone out front to wait for the pickup. Dutifully wearing our masks. Dad pulls up and rolls down the window. And starts to ask if we know where the house address is for where we are staying. I pulled down my mask and said, “Dad, it’s me.” We all had a good laugh.

Mind you, he was using a paper map to get into the neighborhood, and no phone in use. And I later saw the intersection with 2 street signs with different street names if you tuned left or right, on opposite corners. If you have seen one sign, would you look for a second?

Off

October 10, 2021

Off of work. Two weeks, except for the part where I check emails, to keep them in check, and to put out fires. And a City Council meeting where I am making a presentation.

It has been a really busy week. The pressure of time away from the desk has a tendency to force efficiency, and a reckoning of what really needs to get done, and what can wait. Even yesterday and this morning, cleaning up and filing was happening. One less thing to catch up when the workday returns.

On the baseball front the Mariners once again are not in the playoffs. They got close, and had a chance through the last day of the season. So close we had to pay for our playoff tickets. Oh well, once again… wait until next year. I BELIEVE.  I BELIEVE.  I BELIEVE WE WILL WIN.

The second to last game was especially fun. These games remind me why we keep coming back. And we will, especially now that the 2023 All Star Game is going to be in Seattle. Maybe by then things will be more “normal”, whatever that looks like.

Those yellow bits are BELIEVE signs

Carl also continued his tradition of giving away baseballs he has gathered during the season to kids. Except,  of course, it didn’t happen last year. This year’s total was 70.

One of the things I can say about being places where masks are worn, as I choose to do at work. It decreases my coffee consumption, and to a lesser extent, finishing lunch.

On to fall. More as the 2 weeks progresses.

Dreamland

September 26, 2021

We watched a movie Friday night, at home. Dreamland. I say that only because it may have contributed in some small way to a dream I had last night. Very non-sequitor, as many dreams are.

The dream included a rented red Volvo station wagon, a dead woman in the back of said car, blood on the sidewalk just outside of the back of the car, several driveways on our block – but not necessarily in the correct order. A woman I work with, one of our neighbors, another friend walking by with 6 or 7 of her friends, 4 tickets to a Sounders game taking place that day (these were paper tickets and at least one was no good). There was also a lunch packed by Carl for the soccer game including a couple large plastic bags of popcorn, boxed sandwiches and a few other bits; except that we could only take in what we carried in our pockets. And we were driving the Volvo with the body in the back. At some point we realized the soccer game was not going to be a successful trip, so invited everyone to gather on the back deck, so we could be outside (Covid precautions). Heading back by the two houses and about 5 driveways there were numerous neighborhood children out playing, I was trying to figure out chairs, dishes, food and masks.

I can figure where some of the pieces of the dream come from. Others not so much. And why the thought of contacting the police or dealing with the body never played a big part.

I described the dream to Carl after I woke up. In response he asked me if I had seen the police body cam video of an officer eating a whole tray of donuts.

Blinging shoes is the primary task for the weekend. All necessary pieces have been obtained.

Green
3 pair

But first we went to purchase a pair of shoes for Carl. And since that took us out of the city, across the bridge and lake, we decided to take our walk in a park on an island. It’s a big island, a city itself. A great idea. So great we had trouble finding a parking space. Once walking, it was not really crowded. There are courts, playgrounds, off leash dog areas, piers for fishing from, beaches and trails. It was a very nice walk, and warm. With no tents, encampments or litter. Luther Burbank Park if anyone wants the details.

Carl has his own project this weekend, getting ready for the Mariners last homestand. The very last game of the regular season is Kids Appreciation Day. Carl always takes balls he has gathered during the season, and hands them out to kids. His prep work. It’s not all of the balls, because he gives most away the same day he gets them.

Don’t look for the donut video, it doesn’t exist. Carl made it up. It sounded funny and almost plausible. Or maybe part of a movie or dream.

Blinging

September 20, 2021

About one fourth of my project is complete. Saturday’s fun. That is one of four pairs. I couldn’t proceed on Sunday because I was missing one piece or another.

This was just as well as I had a bunch of work to do. And basically spent a full 8 hours at that. It helped that the weather was a bit, or a lot rainy, depending on the 5 minutes in question. We did manage to squeeze a walk in during the afternoon.

In other developments, we were checking on Carl’s suits. Carl’s suits are only worn once in a very great while, with instances separated by years. We pulled them out of the closet, and the pants for each of the 2 pair were motheaten. One of the two suit coats fit, and the one that didn’t also had a few moth holes. We did manage to pull together an outfit that should work for a wedding. Or a funeral. These are really the occassions where it might get used.

All of this is for an October wedding of one of our nephews and his SO. We are excited to go. And worried. And excited for them. And worried. And just plain confused on what is best to do. When we made our plans we were sure this situation would be in our rearview mirror. Instead we are investing in OTC Covid tests and comfortable masks.

The Fez – Updated

September 13, 2021

There is a long story behind the fez. It doesn’t mean anything. It is a goofy novelty from Archie McFees, from many years ago, and a friend who likes baseball. On a road trip to watch some baseball games in California, Dan joined the group in Eugene and set the Fez on Carl’s head, asking him to wear it on the trip. And so it began.

The Oakland fans started calling him the Grand Poohbah. Think about the Flintstones. But they joked around with him instead of heckling him as a Mariner fan.

The fez continued as part of the game experience for the rest of the year. And then the next year, and the next, … Carl became more recognizable. Those fans and stadium workers around our seats have been aware of his love of baseball, but this started to expand his name.

Then there was the Fan of the Year honor in 2014. And the 2 caricatures a few years later.

Street Fair Art
Seat Host Michael Art

And now, a song. Really. By another friend.

It was gifted yesterday, out of the blue. This is my video attempt, and of course my phone ran out of storage before they were done. Spend 5 minutes with us, it is a spot of joy. All Hail the Fez <– missing a few stanzas, but has the lyrics at the end. And here is the complete version – All Hail the Fez – Take 2

Thanks to Doug Peterson for the song, Jan Greenspan for the accompiament, Dan Dixon for starting it all, and to Kevin Shannon and Mark Handley for sharing all the ups and downs that being a Mariner fan entails and keeping Carl reasonably sane.

And for those who want to relive the 2014 Fan of the Year presentation, another 2 minutes.

Tomatoes

August 27, 2021

Every morning I water the tomatoes. While it was hot they got a double dose, watering can and then included in the sprinkler coverage. Since we have been in a cooler period, just the can.

It’s August. Late August. And I can count on my fingers the number of ripe tomatoes we have harvested. There was one that fell victim to a squirrel or raccoon, and they only took a few bites.

Following the critter harvest I added some netting around the base of the planter. It would not stop a determined thief, but it should discourage a casual browser.

Suddenly, the cherry tomatoes are ripening. There are a lot, so if they all follow suit it will be tomato central soon. The larger variety (Early Girl – NOT), is still dawdling along, although I picked one yesterday, and Carl included it with the turkey tacos.

While I was outside watering this morning I heard some chirping. It seemed rhythmic and repeated and I figured it was a fire or some other alarm going off. I was scrutinizing the neighboring houses through the backyard, figuring if someone was not home to address the situation, like smokey tater tots, it was good to be paying attention. Our houses are all close together and a fire in one often impacts others. I checked the fire department dispatch app on my phone and there was a new dispatch to an auto fire alarm. But not 1 block away, 6 blocks away. I wonder how loud it was there!

In addition to the alarm chirps there were three Stellar Jays talking up a storm. They were flitting between the houses and garage roofs through the backyard. And not just chirping. Clicks and beak beats. It was quite varied. I think it was a family group. One seemed to be a slightly different shade, and a bit smaller.

New Point of View

August 24, 2021

Meet bear. He is part of my childhood.

Bear

There were many stuffed animals around the house, and a few dolls. Some were really the property of one particular person. Others floated between the three girls. Some had names.

Pooh (not the bear) had Alice, a stuffed cat. There was a small dog, Doggie, with floppy ears that I felt was mine. There was also a later white poodle that was definitely mine, but I never felt a huge affinity towards the poodle. It was too stiff, in one posed position.

And there was bear. I don’t recall whether Bear was mine or shared, but he ended up in a bag in my parents house with other things that were definitely mine.

When we were back on “vacation” I had the duty to go through a box of things. And one of the few things I saved was Bear. The poodle did not make the cut.

So after years, really decades, of life in a closet, Bear gets to see the light of day again.

There were a lot of things gone through at that time, because Dad decided he was moving. So the house was being cleared of stuff. Much of this stuff has since been sent to new homes. But that is for another time.

Back to points of view. Bear has a new point of view, watching the neighborhood move by. My Dad has a new point of view from his new independent living apartment. And he says he loves his view of the sky. The house was very much in the woods, itself a nice view, but not much sky.

Should I be considering some new points of view too?

Make me Smile

August 12, 2021

Yesterday it was pointed out that I had not posted in a while. My life tends to be mundane and repetitive. But since the last post a lot has been happening. Vacations, games, moves, and all of those deserve time and space here. But for now I am going to share one of the more momentous moments of the past month. OKAY, more than a month.

Ashlan and Allen got married. In NYC in Central Park. It was an intimate and appears to have been terribly romantic. Is it all right to use a form of terrible when talking about something wonderful? Here are some pictures, with music. Ashlan & Allen.

On their way to a future together
Love you