On Top of Grass Mountain

I was bitten by a horse fly or some kind of damn fly… ouch. There, now I’ve complained about everything bad that happened this weekend. I’m so glad I got that off my chest, I was trying to look tough and not complain.

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When I first met my current sponsor he let me know right away that he escapes from the Phoenix heat each summer and goes off to New Mexico – it’s a good thing to know if you’re looking to get spiritual direction from a guy that he’s not going to be local for half the year. He’s a good sponsor, a good example of AA in action and I’ve shared things with him that I’ve not shared with another living being – so he matters a little bit to me (ok, a lot). Even before he left in May he suggested I come out and visit, spend a few days at his cabin and take a break. I thought that might be a good idea, and at his suggestion asked one of his other sponsees (Scott) if he’d be interested in joining me, he said yes and we tried to get a few others to go as well, but only had one taker who had to back out at the last minute due to health issues.

When I first started planning this little excursion I wasn’t sure I could get time off from my new job (only been there since February). But I asked and they were very kind to me and gave me the time off in a very nice way. I really love my job, in case you haven’t heard me talking about it recently.IMG_3662

One of the objectives of the trip was to attend my sponsors Home Away From Home Group meeting on Thursday nights so tickets were purchased to get us into Albuquerque in time to make his meeting with him. Had the flight not been delayed a little bit we would have even made it to dinner before the meeting – but that was not to be. Instead, the Sponz picked us up and had beef brisket, extra moist beef brisket and turkey, corn …. a bunch of food that we ate on the way to the meeting in Pecos about an hour away from the airport.. He thought for sure we’d be late, but we made it just at 7:00. Good little meeting – a newcomer, cheesecake bites, and the topic was ego… I enjoyed it and it just felt good to be in a meeting with the Sponz again. A fellow sponsee was there (wearing a Breaking Bad t-shirt) a local there, so nice to meet him. The meeting space is pretty unique and I hope you all see it someday in the Grapevine. Continue reading

10 Days of Whine

My 42nd year is coming to an end. In ten days it’s my birthday… I don’t really want to be anything except 42, I liked it. After all 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything…  I guess all things must change or die – hard choice that one. I think I’ll be 42.A for this birthday, I’ll ask my math friends (I have some, really I do) if there are clever mathematic equations that look cooler than 42.A.

Typically for my birthday I would head to a warm destination, sit by a pool and do nothing. Now I live in a warm destination (supposedly – it’s only 46 out this morning) and I don’t know anyone with a heated pool. I’m not flying anywhere, not likely having any fancy meals or doing anything.  In past years instead of gifts I’ve asked for people to donate to charity, sometimes I even picked the charity to give for my birthday. I had all I needed and there seemed little need for more things.

Now though, it’s been tough. I’m struggling financially, juggling things around and stressing out about it – I’m not supposed to do that anymore ( fear of economic insecurity will leave us ) and I know I can get rid of that fear, but it seems I keep asking and it’s still there. I’m taking action about the money thing – trying to find other income streams and cutting back on costs of a few things I can live without. I’m weighing all my options which is going to lead to more change before too long.

There was a leak in my patio door and rain seeped into my bedroom – half the carpet was wet when I awoke the next morning. Every article of clothing in the bedroom closet was wet. Several books I had out are warped from the moisture. For four days a blower was in my room drying things out. Yesterday they came and cleaned the carpets, now the carpet was wet the entire bedroom. I’ve had fans blowing in there all night and I slept on the couch for the fifth night. I’m going to have to rewash everything and take the dress clothes to the dry cleaner again.

I’m letting someone else’s fear and paranoia affect me and make me paranoid and distrustful and damn if that isn’t a horrible place to be. It’s contagious and I’m acting on those fears out of instinct. Fear is not a nice place to live and I don’t like having it around me. I think about when I was drinking and using, how I’d go to bed at night (or early morning) and just lie there thinking about all the horrible things that were coming to pass or that I had done and just lie there not sleeping . I don’t have that, the fear isn’t that bad I can still go to bed and in moments fall blissfully asleep, for which I’m thankful. But I find myself dwelling more than I should about the future, the present and people that I have no control over. 

The cost of the recent dental procedure wasn’t covered by my dental insurance at all, I wish Obamacare would have effected all insurances, so I had to do a dental credit plan with them. The recent surgery I’ve only gotten a bill for $20 so far, I hope that’s it but I bet that too will be bigger before to long.

I’m still new here, but at meetings several people in recent weeks have come up to me and talked to me like I’m a newcomer… I’m patient with them and listen intently to their suggestions about how to stay sober. A part of me wonders why they can’t tell that I’ve been around a long time – it’s the fear I think. It’s the worry that I show on my face, newcomers have fear all the time, but I’m not supposed to. There is a guy, Chris, that goes to meetings that I do and he brings his Big Book with him, (refreshing change) and he reads along when they read HIW or the Promises and he reads when people annoy him, lol, I need to bring my book but I fear I’d read it all  through the meeting. I’m still looking for a “Home Group”, I get close sometimes, but I haven’t found that meeting that I really want to be at yet.. I miss my DC home group and those folks quite a bit.

So it’s almost my birthday, please send money, job opportunities, or a rich handsome man my way (he could even have bad breath and chew his toenails).

First Trip Sober

I was with my sponsor and grand-sponsor the first time I flew on a plane as an adult. We flew from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, a Northwest flight and we were seated in the same row. It was May of 1996 and we were going for the one year AA birthday of my first sponsor, Terry.

Many years before the events of 9/11 it was easy, worry free and a pleasant experience. I was still a smoker at the time and my biggest concern was making it far without a smoke – I think the ban on smoking on flights had just started and I was none to pleased. They offered us pillows, blankets and showed a movie. I had the window seat and was much more interested in the sky outside than the entertainment inside. I may have slept for a bit I really don’t recall.

Mid-flight they came to offer us a meal, I think it was a sandwich of which I had no interest. I was, if you can believe it, even pickier about what I ate back then. My grand-sponsor glared at me and said next time I was to give him my lunch if I didn’t want it – he wentertainment inside. I may have slept for a bit I really don’t recall.

We landed without much ado, my ears didn’t have a hard time adjusting to the altitude change like they do now. I think we were going to be there for about a week so we all checked luggage. When I thought of LAX I’d imagine scenes from Airplane with the “the white zone is for loading and unloading only – shut up Jane” and such… and it wasn’t really that, but there were so many people and it was rather loud. Everyone seemed to know where they were going and were in a hurry to get there, my Grand-sponsor led the way to baggage, but I think he was a bit unsure of himself.

The traffic was insane, even once we departed the freeway I kept imagining we’d soon be crashing into other vehicles. The trip to Santa Monica was short enough and the weather was very nice, I recall us having the windows open and feeling the sun shine warm us.

The whole week we were there was mostly about going to meetings. Being the good AA’s that we were we showed up early to every meeting, helped set up (sometimes this can be an issue, people are very serious about their commitments) and then waited sometimes almost an hour for a meeting to start. At the Big Meeting we were chastised by the people in front of us for clapping and “woo woo” ing to loudly. I remember seeing a famous person and telling Terry “wow, look there’s so and so” and Terry said it was just a look-a-like… but I’m still not sure.

We met Terry’s roommate Oscar who showed us around one day, we were at Venice Beach, climbing some rocks, driving faster than folks should drive. He was a nice guy. I learned about couch commitments – where people let new folks sleep on their couch while they first get sober to get established, seemed crazy to me at the time but now I can see where it would be helpful to folks. I remember being in their apartment and hearing the news reports constantly talking about people getting shot, that was most of the news and it was a bit of a culture shock to go from “the weather and farm report are next” to “breaking news as shots fired in local mall”.

We visited the Midnight Mission and chatted with Clancy. It was way above my pay scale to meet all these old timers. I recall I had my hands in my pockets and one of the old-timers said: “Get your hands out of your pockets, He’ll (pointing to Clancy) provide the entertainment.” I was mortified (I was very sensitive back then).

We were soon off to lunch with Clancy, some little Mexican place and we were all seated promptly, Clancy ordered for everyone and before I knew it there was this strange meal and a diet coke in front of me that I wasn’t sure of… WTH is a Fajita and Diet Coke is nasty. I had to watch others and I tried to copy them making a fajita for the first time, I didn’t want to make a fuss – I was the new guy here with 2 years hardly worth noticing 😉 You know what? I loved Fajitas, you can add the ingredients you like, it was spicy, it was flavorful… if nothing else I gained that from the trip to LA.

Saturday we were to go to the yard, I put on a Country Jam tshirt that I packed and found my Grand-sponsor was wearing one also – he made me change shirts so we didn’t look too bumpkin I imagine. Then we went to the yard (Clancy’s house) and did all the fun things they do there. Softball across the road was next and I had no interest in playing softball, but before I knew it I was up to bat – I saw the ball coming I swung it and actually hit the ball – for a moment I was standing there shocked that I actually hit the ball with the bat… then I looked to see who was going to catch it… but I didn’t realize it had gone straight up and it promptly landed on my head (this explains a lot about the following years of my life)  and I was on the ground. I was ok, and thankfully they let me stop playing softball.

On our way to the airport to go home there was a news report of a plane crashing in Florida, I was really suddenly worried about the safety of the plane we were going to be on, but all the other LAX people were just rushing from here to there.

I came back motivated to do more in AA and to have bigger groups and more fun social activities with peers. I also vowed to go again, and I did the following year without my sponsor and grand-sponsor. This became a ritual for me, every year for my AA birthday I’d take a trip somewhere – I found out many years later that my best friend wished I’d take trips to spend it with her, so I’ve done that a few times as well.

DC Bound

This morning I’m boarding a flight for Washington DC. I’m very excited to see a lot of people and one cat:

Mouse

Danny (I had to put him first he has issues 🙂 )

Suzanne

Gary

Jim

Ana

Ian

Cynthia

Matthew

Jason

Laura

Steve

Steve

Steve

Al

Mano

and at the same time I am dreading going back – Washington DC has become like a trip to Wisconsin for me – rush rush rush rush rush rush… everyone wants to see me and I can’t see everyone – popularity breeds contempt… right?

I’m also picking up my portrait that my friend Ron painted of me, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet.

The most important part is I’ll get to eat my salad again!

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42 to Las Vegas

If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr or Facebook or Four Square (there might be too many of these social networking sites) you probably already know what I did for my birthday trip. If you don’t you can find out here, even those of you that think you know what all I did might want to read along as I didn’t get to express everything in photos and hashtags.

Flat Pat and Suzanne

This summer I had asked my two best friends Suzanne and Pat to go with me on this trip, but circumstances didn’t allow for that to happen so I made them into Flat Pat and Flat Suzanne ala Flat Stanley and Flat Stella Fame.

I left Wednesday December 5th from Washington National Airport, the day before I had tried to check in on my Delta app on my phone but it wouldn’t work – when I checked in online I discovered that it was a Delta Flight operated by Alaska Airlines. That was a new airline for me but they gave me Delta miles for the trip so it’s all good. Nothing different about the plane really – but the crew were all, or at least appeared to be, Native American. The flight was uneventful – a little turbulence, a few screaming babies and lots of BO. We landed in LAX in enough time, deplaned and made it to the gate with plenty of time – the connection was delayed of course so we sat at the gate (not on the plane) for an hour extra I’d say. While waiting I noticed ZZ Top was in our waiting area, several people were bothering them and I tried not to stare too much. Once on the plane I asked Billy Gibson to pose with Flat Pat and Flat Suzanne and he did! wow, cool guy.

ZZ Top is cool

ZZ Top is cool

Landing in Las Vegas was normal, the lady taxi cab drivers daughter’s birthday was also December 6, that was pretty cool. I arrived safely at the Tuscany Suites and checked into my room (G203).  It was around four I was hungry and made dinner reservations at the hotel’s Italian restaurant. I gambled a little and was in bed by 9 (I had been up since 5 East Coast time).

I was up early on my birthday, December 6, and had pork chops and eggs at the hotel’s 24 hour restaurant (bad coffee, bad pork chops, and undercooked eggs – there is a region difference when you ask someone to make you eggs over easy, I’ve found that here in DC and apparently in this little restaurant over easy means something different than it does in WI, very undercooked so in the future if I ordered there again I’d order eggs over medium, but I digress). Then I sat in the hot tub for a good while – but the pool was too cold to sit in (its advertised as heated, but I doubt it was) and tried to take a nap, but it didn’t take. I walked down to the strip and then through Caesars shops and I did spend a good while liking posts on my Facebook wall and responding to emails and texts from friends and family.

Thursday afternoon my date arrived and we CENSORED…. before getting dressed and going off to see the Cirque Du Soleil show Ka at the MGM Grand. I was very excited to see it and had gotten tickets a while back. First things first, we were about 12 rows back from the stage and I think I would have rather been at least 25 rows back. I had a lot of preconceived notions about the show that didn’t materialize, but still enjoyed it immensely. I also think we were seated right near some speakers and it was very loud (you kids get off my lawn). Glad I saw it but would have likely enjoyed the Beatles Love more.

Then we went to our dinner reservation at Craftsteak also at the MGM Grand. Craftsteak is a Tom Colicchio, of TopChef,  restaurant. I had Organic Lettuce with Lemon Vinaigrette, Ribeye steak and Fingerling Potatoes followed up with the Farmers Market Fruit (consisting of Blueberry, Blackberry, Dates, Clementine, Dragon Fruit, Figs, Finger Lime, Kiwi, Passion Fruit, Pear, Persimmon, Pomegranates, and Raspberry)

Farmers Market Fruit

Farmers Market Fruit

OMG so delicious… all of it. I really can’t express in words how flavorful, beautiful and just all around great this was for my birthday dinner. The kicker for me was the painted cows on the walls – it reminded me of the cow that visited the crew at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe and I was certain I’d eaten one of the cows that was on the wall. It was the perfect place to have a 42 Birthday dinner. Quite expensive, worth every dollar. My date dropped me off with a kiss and he was on his way, it was a nice day for a birthday.

Friday morning I tried to have breakfast with my friend Danny and new friend Larry but they wanted to hear a speaker and I really need breakfast to function properly…. after breakfast I met them in the banquet hall for the end of “AA History” then we had a decent break and heard “How to live with crazy people”. Most of the rest of the talks that weekend were on steps. Two of the speakers on the original schedule didn’t make it for personal reasons.

Danny being silly

Danny being silly

I had a few meals with Danny and Larry one at P.F. Changs and one at CheeseCake Factory.

Overall my room was ok, it was very big and had two double beds. It had a decent shower and a tub. The TV did make static like noises ever few minutes for some reason and there was a high pitch beep every 5 or ten minutes that would last a minute too. The staff was nice and efficient.

I was in the gift shop looking over the shoulders of a few women in front of me at the available snacks. One of the women noticed me and apologized for being in my way – I assured her I was fine and just trying to decide which nuts to buy. Her eyes lit up and she asked if I wanted some peanuts. I said I usually get almonds. She then started to talk about these peanuts and how good they were, pulled them out of her purse opened them up and said that I would really love them and proceeded to pour a nice sized handful in my hand. They were pretty good peanuts, very crunchy. But I think it was weird to have a woman give you a handful of nuts in a gift store…

At lunch with Danny and Larry at the CheeseCake Factory we were carrying on and a woman next to us kept looking at us and smiling. We started to talk to her, seems she was also at the conference. It was a nice lunch and we made a new friend.

Some of the folks at our table for the conference included an ex-prison guard, a guy who moved from Florida to Alaska a few years ago (he did it on purpose) and a newcomer who wouldn’t shut up that I wanted to inflict physical harm upon. Great fun.

I played some roulette at the casino and while I didn’t win, I certainly enjoyed it. One woman came up to the table, put $100 on black,which hit and she then walked away with $200 – smart lady.

I met a nice guy named MiMichael from England who was there at the conference, hope to hear from him soon.

There were folks from the Chippewa Valley that made it to this conference as well: Mary Jo, Michelle, Al S and two other fellas. That was nice to see too.

Monday I was up bright and early for my flight, I had heard that there were horrible long lines at the Las Vegas Airport as it turns out it was pretty empty and before I knew it I was at my gate for my flight to Memphis (one stop). Even before we landed in Memphis I had received an email that my connecting flight would be delayed an hour, by the time our flight landed I received a few more emails and a voicemail. The updates and delays went as far as a five hour delay but ended up being only three hours, thankfully. The Delta agent was quite nice posing for a photo with Flat Pat and Flat Suzanne as well.

Delta Guy and my delayed flight

Delta Guy and my delayed flight

I arrived home around 8:30 or so, Mouse was here waiting for me at the door and was a loving purr machine for a few minutes before remembering I had left her and then she was a bit more aloof. This morning she loves me once again. I have the best roommate, Gary, who takes care of her sometimes when I’m away.

All in all, it was a great birthday trip, but I think next year I’ll be happier lying by a pool in Ft Lauderdale like normal.

Happy 42!

Deep Thought and the Ultimate Answer

Today we are officially 42 days away from my 42nd birthday – that’s the more important birthday a person could have… well a person who loves the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and I certainly do.

42, as you may or may not know, is the answer to Life the Universe and Everything. See when a group of pan-dimensional beings created a computer named Deep Thought which takes 7 1/2 million years to compute the answer they got exactly what they asked for the answer said Deep Thought: 42. Obviously they were a bit confused by this answer and their planet was patiently waiting for an answer with festivities and awe… Fortunately for them Deep Thought knew they wouldn’t be satisfied with the answer and told them of a great computer that could give them the question that would fit the answer to Life the Universe and Everything. Deep Thought even helped them design that computer and that computer is called “Earth”.

Now Earth, according to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy a truly wonderful, totally amazing piece of technology – at first with the following description: “Harmless”. But after Ford Prefect had visited the planet he managed to add to the description, thankfully, and it now says “Mostly Harmless” (obviously the writers had seen the US Congress in action).

Well as it turns out the day before Earth was to finally release the Ultimate Question to the Ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything it is destroyed to make way for a hyper-space bypass – if you’re not expecting these kinds of things to happen, you’re really not prepared to live in the universe with the rest of us.

Now there really were really only two instances that anyone actually said they knew what the Question was… one was Marvin the depressed robot, one of the most wonderful characters in all literature, who said he could see the answer imprinted on Arthur’s brain (see Arthur was on the planet/computer Earth seconds before it was destroyed, fortunately for him he got to listen to Vogon poetry instead of dying horribly… well I guess that’s really a matter of taste, like any poetry really. And in the book Life the Universe and Everything Prak, a man who knows all that is true, confirms that 42 is indeed the answer and one would assume that if Prak knows all that is true he would also know for certain what the question was.

Anyway, back to my birthday which as I mentioned earlier is 42 days from now, I plan to celebrate in style. I’m flying to Las Vegas for a conference about the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. (You should note that the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, references the number 42 in the chapter There is a Solution – coincidence? I think not. I have tickets to see the Cirque du Soleil show Ka at the MGM Grand and  reservations at  Craftsteak and a date local guy there.

I will have a freshly inked tattoo from my friend Matt at Jinx Proof tattoos in Georgetown – Matt is designing it and is fully aware of the importance of 42 and it’s significance  to the universe so it might incorporate a lot of things including, but not limited to: two white mice, at towel, the words “Don’t Panic” (which are written on the cover of each Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy)… well, we’ll see what he comes up with in a few days.

So happy start to my birthday celebration to one and all, I know you’ve all been waiting for this day all your lives and I thank you for being so patient. If we don’t make it through the end of the year (perhaps they’ll come and destroy our planet to make way for a hyper-space bypass) I hope to see you all at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe if not before then.

Below you’ll find a few cultural references to the number 42 (from wikipedia):

On the Internet

The number 42 and the phrase, “Life, the universe, and everything” have attained cult status on the Internet. “Life, the Universe, and Everything” is a common name for the off-topic section of an Internet forum and the phrase is invoked in similar ways to mean “anything at all”. Many chatbots, when asked about the meaning of life, will answer “42”. Several online calculators are also programmed with the Question. If you type the answer to life the universe and everything into Google (without quotes or capitalising the small words), the Google Calculator will give you 42, as will Wolfram’s Computational Knowledge Engine.[18] Similarly, if you type the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything into DuckDuckGo, the 0-click box will read “42”.[19] In the online community Second Life, there is a section on a sim called “42nd Life.” It is devoted to this concept in the book series, and several attempts at recreating Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, were made. In Facebook Chat there is an emoticon for 42 created by typing :42: .

Shortly after Adams died in 2001, the Darwin Awards Forums announced that, in his honour, the number of posts required for a member to get out of “newbie” status would henceforth be decreased from 50 to 42.

In the OpenOffice.org software, if you type into any cell of a spreadsheet =ANTWORT(“Das Leben, das Universum und der ganze Rest”), which means the answer to life, the universe and everything, the result is 42.[20]

ISO/IEC 14519-2001/ IEEE Std 1003.5-1999, IEEE Standard for Information Technology – POSIX(R) Ada Language Interfaces – Part 1: Binding for System Application Program Interface (API), uses the number ’42’ as the required return value from a process that terminates due to an unhandled exception. The Rationale says “the choice of the value 42 is arbitrary” and cites the Adams book as the source of the value.

The random seed chosen to procedurally create the whole universe including all the regions, constellations, stars, planets, moons and mineral distribution of the online massively multi-player computer game EVE Online was chosen as 42 by its lead game designer in 2002.[21]

Cultural references

The Allen Telescope Array, a radio telescope used by SETI, has 42 dishes in homage to the number.[22]

In the TV show Lost, 42 is the last of the mysterious numbers, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42. In an interview with Lostpedia, producer David Fury confirmed this was a reference to Hitchhiker’s.[23]

The TV show The Kumars at No. 42 is so named because show creator Sanjeev Bhaskar is a Hitchhiker’s fan.[24]

The band Coldplay‘s album Viva la Vida includes a song called “42“. When asked by Q magazine if the song’s title was Hitchhiker’s-related, Chris Martin said, “It is and it isn’t.”[25]

The band Level 42 chose its name in reference to the book.[26]

The episode “42” of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who was named in reference to the Answer. Writer Chris Chibnall acknowledged that “it’s a playful title”.[27]

Ken Jennings, defeated along with Brad Rutter in a Jeopardy match against IBM‘s Watson, writes that Watson’s avatar which appeared on-screen for those games showed 42 “threads of thought,” and that the number was chosen in reference to this meme.[28]

My Friend the Vegan

My best friend Suzanne is a vegan, she’s been a Vegan for a little over a year now. It’s a personal choice for her, I know she thought long and hard about it but ultimately decided that if she wanted to have a clear conscious about how people treat animals then she had to become a vegan. I’m sure there was more to it, I’m almost positive there is. She’s managed to become a vegan and still teach insane amounts of exercise classes that whenever I’m in town she drags me along to. So she gets enough protein, vitamins, sustenance or what have you to be totally awesome as a Body Step, Zumba and Body Pump instructor (for the record, I hate Body Pump and my body hurts so much after)… ok, really the vegan thing has little to do with the class instructing, but she can do that even without eating meat which I think is pretty amazing, because I live on meat. She even says that she loves the tastes of all the new vegetables and tofu she’s discovered on this journey.

She’s not pushy about being a vegan either, she doesn’t talk down to me because I eat meat, she just knows how she feels about it and lets me go on about being the person I am and she lives by example… that’s a novel idea isn’t it.  She’s a pretty amazing woman for that reason too (there is a long, long list for why she’s amazing, I’m just focusing on a little here).

This weekend I was going to try some of her fake milk, but I forgot – someone somewhere is probably saying “It’s not fake, it’s ALMOND milk.” or “soy milk”. Whatever… the point is I really was going to try, but this morning I had the bowl of oatmeal already in the bowl when she reminded me and I don’t take milk in my oatmeal, so I didn’t get to.

So because I didn’t get to try the fake milk (let it go people) I decided to post these really cute photos of her dog instead.

Farley loving the cool air from the vent

Wisconsin, Wedding, Withering Heat

I flew out to Wisconsin this time for the wedding of very dear friends, Eric and Rosy. Eric and Rosy dated back in high school and like most high school romances it came to an end and they went their separate ways. A few years back they rekindled the love they felt and I was fortunate enough to be the best man for the ceremony. They got hitched in Wisconsin Dells at a little hotel called the White Rose Inn. I had never been to Wisconsin Dells before and was amazed at the traffic, tourists and teething toddlers.

The Happy Couple

I stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge, Eric picked it I think, a family friendly resort with it’s own water park – let me say it was more expensive than a very nice hotel in DC would have been; Eric is no longer allowed to pick hotels. I was given an accessible room (there was a wheelchair symbol on the sign outside the door) that wasn’t fully compliant, I notice these things now that I’ve worked for Jim for six years – I’ve sent them an email about the issues I noticed. Eric and Rosy managed to pick one of the hottest days of the year to get married, and I’m amazed we all survived the sweltering heat. It was very sweet and I finally got to meet all of the kids and had a great time.

On Sunday morning I left the Dells for Galesville, I told my Ma I’d be there about noon so she wouldn’t skip church or her regular Sunday routine, I really don’t want her to go out of her way. Rhonda, Michael and Michelle were at the house when I arrived. Ma returned from lunch and Cory and Danielle came over with Charlie and Patrick and we had pizza. Mostly at Ma’s Ma and I read while Rhonda went to work and Michael worked on demos or what ever. At the suggestion of my best friend Suzanne’s dad, Chip, I started to read The Godfather and couldn’t put it down – after reading it I started to watch the movie but it really is watered down so I don’t know how much I’m going to enjoy it.

Tuesday night I had dinner with my sister Amy, her daughter Joplin and Amy’s long term boyfriend who’s name escapes me for whatever reason. Afterwards we played Cranium for a while which was fun.

Wednesday I headed up to the Chippewa Valley. Pat and I went off to see The Amazing Spider-Man which I really liked. Pat, Brenda and I went out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse and then headed back to my hotel where we all partook of the swimming pool. Did I mention this was the hottest week of the year? Thursday I had lunch with Nicholas at Taco John’s, swam for a while in the hotel pool, napped and finally headed out to the Eau Claire Pacific Group where I was the main speaker – I did ok, nothing to get excited about, just ok. After the meeting I joined the guys for food at Perkin’s before heading back home to bed. Friday I had breakfast with Pat and Brenda. Friday afternoon I met my brother Ryan for dinner at Texas Roadhouse and then we went to see the movie Savages, which was ok.

Saturday morning after dropping in to say goodbye to the Isenberger’s I drove down to Galesville and used my GPS, which was a huge mistake. The GPS on the way down to the Dells had me leave the interstate to go off on a county road for a few miles only to put me back on the interstate – it also had me drive through the Dells to my hotel which was two exits up and would have been easier to get to had I stayed there… had I remembered all that I might have not even thought of following the GPS. But I did and ended up on several back roads but finally did make it to my Ma’s. Ma and I went to Winona for dinner. Michael was brough back from canoeing and was passed out in his truck until about 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning Ma, Rhonda, Greg, Michael and I went out to breakfast and around noon I headed off to the LaCrosse airport.

I had a long lay over in Minneapolis, three hours, and then the head flight attendant was pretty grumpy on our plane. She had us turn off our electronic devices 5 – 10 minutes before the door was closed and came on the loudspeaker a few times to insist that we turn off our electronic devices so we could depart on time, meanwhile folks were still coming on board and we were subjected to listening to children crying an obnoxious laughter. Any time she made announcements you could here the frustration in her voice, obviously she’d had a long day and been subjected to annoying passengers, but at the end of the day you still have to treat your customers right. As we were landing there was some turbulence before the initial decent and she had us turn off our electronic devices much sooner than we normally would and then when the pilot announced we were beginning our initial decent she came on to say something about us not following crew member instructions – really if she had been even a bit nicer I’m sure it would have gone better for her.

Then I arrived home and the kitty was very happy to see me, and she’s interrupted my writing this several times for love… so I’d better go see to her.

Journey to the Midwest 2012

When I make trips to visit folk in the Midwest for whatever reason, this reason was my niece Tabatha graduated from high school and asked me to come to her party, I try to see as many people as I can see while I’m in the area. It really seems like the longer I’m alive the more people that want to see me when I’m in the area – I think there might be something wrong with the water up there. This visit I saw folks that I haven’t seen in 20 years – which was nice. I may not have gotten a chance to see you, I may not get a chance to see you next time – but hey, if you want to see me you could visit here. You know I live in the Nation’s Capital right? Tourist Trap of the East Coast – and if you came out here you’d get to see more of me than just a 20 minute visit in the Midwest, and trust me it’d be more exciting. I can’t promise anything, but one group of friends that came out to visit were just inches away from Sean Penn when we went out to eat… didn’t do anything for me, but they were excited. So if you want to see me hey come visit – I’ll pretend to have as much interest in meeting you here as I pretend to there. 🙂

My flight to Minneapolis on Wednesday was fine, the old couple next to me kept interrupting my reading by asking me questions about the iPad and other technology – it’s like I have a sign around my neck “Ask Me About Your Computer Problems”. I do my best to look mean when I travel to avoid just this kind of thing – motorcycle boots, sleeveless shirt showing tattoos, leather wrist band, penis earring… but they still ask me. Maybe I need a big nose ring.

My good friend Tina picked me up at the airport and we headed off to my hotel in downtown Minneapolis, The Marriott City Center, the boss had hooked me up with a good room – top floor of the hotel, it was a two story room wow, had a nice view too. Tina and I had a nice chat before she had to head off to an appointment.

I then headed off to Boneshaker Books, where my friend Tim volunteers, little store but lots of interesting books. Check out their site and make a donation – it’s a non-profit. Tim and I took the light rail, Minneapolis’s commuter train, into the city for dinner – after all the years that Tim’s lived there this was his first time on the train, he would usually ride his bike everywhere. We ate dinner at a place called Hell’s Kitchen which had good food, not too loud and close to my hotel downtown. Tim and I had good conversations about politics, old friends, old times and just nonsense. It was great to see him.

Thursday morning I had breakfast with my friend Randy and then wandered around the skyways exploring here and there, I had some things explode in my suitcase that I needed to replace and it was nice to see how it all worked too. Then I had a lunch date with a guy I’d met in December while I was speaking, it was ok. Thursday night I went to the Central Pacific Group meeting where I frowned when I was called up to share, but would have obsessed for the next hour had they not – yep, I’m sick. Afterwards there was fellowship and then Tina dropped me at my hotel. A nice night.

Friday morning I took the light rail to the airport to rent a car for my foray into Wisconsin, its scary to think I finally don’t get lost getting out of the airport area and into WI. The drive was uneventful, got to Pat and Brenda’s and then went to get a quick bite at Taco John’s before checking into my hotel. That night we had steaks and corn at the Isenbergers and chatted here and there. Nice to see everyone.

Saturday morning Pat and I had breakfast at Perkins, then coffee at Starbucks, before I headed off to do other things before going to …

Tabatha’s Graduation party was held in a park in Fall Creek, by the lake. Lots of folks were there including Tabatha’s dad Jeff, who I haven’t seen in ages. Lots of folks I didn’t know too, but it was nice to be there for Tabatha and have one central place to see the siblings, even though most of the time they aren’t talking to one another they managed to behave. Good food, great weather and memories – it was nice.

Saturday night for dinner the Isenberger’s and I went to Dragganettis for dinner, where my friend Nicholas works, had a nice time and it was my only opportunity to see Nicholas too. Dropped them off and went back to the hotel for TV and bed.

Sunday morning I was up early and drove to Galesville to see Ma and Rhonda. I think I was here before 10 and then we headed over to Cory and Danielle’s to to spend time with them and the boys (Charlie and Patrick). It was really nice when we first got there, and we were all enjoying the day but all the sudden it got pretty cold out and before you know it we were all shivering. Ma, Rhonda and I left and headed to the Whitehall cemetery to lay flowers on Pa’s grave.  I still get a little emotional thinking about him there, and seeing Ma’s name on the stone when she’s standing right next to us. We then went to dinner at what used to be Geno’s Supper Club in Whitehall, can’t recall what it’s called now then I said farewell to them and headed up to Pigeon Falls to see Tony and Laurie, friends I haven’t seen in about 20 years. It’s been a long time.

Monday I drove up to the Twin Cities in the afternoon and got on my plane. Landed in BWI around 9:40 and it took them almost an hour to get us luggage, pretty sad.

I had a great trip, it was nice to see everyone and I look forward to the next time I see folks – probably wont be anywhere cool though, just the Midwest.

Whirlwind Christmas 2011

I was up at 4:30 a.m. on the 22nd for an early flight to Chicago – where I sat for three hours on my way to Eau Claire for the holidays. My own fault really, I paid attention to the price tag more than the amount of time in airports – it’s also why I had a departing flight today at 6:00. 😦

I arrived in Eau Claire with plenty of time to stop at Taco John’s with my nephew Scooter (who picked me up at the airport). I had a chance to visit with all the Isenberger’s for a bit before Pat, Scooter and I headed off to Minneapolis so I could speak at the Central Pacific Group. We used the GPS app on my iPhone to find the church and I entered the information incorrectly so we were a little later than I was supposed to be there, but I was there in time to see Tina K cry when she saw Scooter (first time she’s seen him in years – he was off at war and such). I have no idea what I talked about, I just know I talked – Pat and Tina said it was good so I’ll go with them. Then we headed back to Pat and Brenda’s and I was in bed a little later than normal – 12:00 I’d say and having been up since 4:30 my time I was done.

Being to bed so late had me running late to get to my Ma’s on Friday morning – but it did allow me to stop at Taco John’s for “breakfast”. I had just got into Hixton on my way and there were two messages from Rhonda asking where I was – isn’t it nice she worries? 😉 I arrived at Ma’s and 5 minutes later it started snowing – it had been nice up to that point – a little cold but nice. I chewed the fat with Ma and Michael while we waited for Rhonda and Greg to get back. Rhonda is looking dramatically different from how she looked this past summer – I’m glad.

Superman Snuggy

While at Ma’s they had planed to take me to Taco John’s for dinner, having beat them to the punch we ordered pizza and watched the movie Larry Crowne. Later than evening Kenny and Sheila arrived. It wasn’t as late of a night but I was pretty beat when I got under the covers. Christmas Eve morning we awoke to the furnace not working – so like any normal folk in WI we left for breakfast. When we came back Rhonda and Kenny cleaned something and it was working again. We celebrated Xmas with everyone that afternoon. Ma, Kenny and Sheila, Rhonda and Greg, Uncle Rick, Michael and Michelle, Cory and Danielle with Charlie and Patrick and of course Winnie and Sammy. It was nice and we had lasagne for a meal. Charlie had tons of toys to open and those who participated in the gift exchange – exchanged. I received exactly what I asked for – a Superman snuggy.  WOO HOO!!! It was a nice celebration and we closed off the night by watching “The Help”.

Sunday morning we were all up and having breakfast at the house as I had let them know I had to head out by 9:00. That too was pretty nice. Then I was off to Hixton, Amy needed 2% milk and Ryan needed a pack of smokes – holy crap smokes are expensive. We played a few board games at Amy’s with Joplin while Eli cooked. There were three dogs there – one is named Whiskey can’t remember the other names but all little yapper dogs. Ryan, Amy and I talked about Christmases past and we had a nice time. Ryan and I headed out about 7:30 so I could stop at his house where Dawn, Samantha and Tabatha were celebrating. Nice to see the girls and ask about their lives – Tabatha graduates from High School this year and I need to plan on being there too. I had to leave Ryan’s at about 8:30 as I had plans to celebrate with the Isenberger’s that evening. As I said it was a whirlwind.

Monday Scooter, Samantha and I went to Taco John’s for breakfast while Pat and Brenda took Helen to the back doctor – who advised Helen to relax and take it easy for the next few days – so of course she ignored him. 😦 We had a good day, played Spoons and watched a couple DVDs. Then it was bedtime before I woke up this morning at 4;45 a.m. to get to the airport.

Five day trip with too many people to see – it was a lot easier to celebrate Christmas when I was a drunk no one wanted to see. 🙂 I’m happy to be home, Mouse and Gary are happy I’m home. It’s only a week or so more until my next trip – this time to San Diego and Palm Springs and I need to plan three trips to WI this summer… /sigh oh well, I can do it, and it’s always nice to see people I love.