I’m posting this here for posterity. I downloaded it a while back and keep moving the file from computer to computer. I suppose this isn’t exactly permanent, either, but it’s better than nothing.
The menu only tells part of the story. My first visit to this place was perfectly executed, with my friends not telling me where we were going, taking me into what looked like a barber shop, pulling on the wall, and then leading me into a candle-lit room that was absolutely timeless.
There were sofas and drapes blocking off areas where people could have interesting discussions over a giant fishbowl of a drink. Sure, there were pages of the menu that were limited to a maximum of two per customer, but the entirety of the experience was the magic. And it was magic.
So, Jennie went back to school and I went through a bit of an employment renaissance over the past few years which put us in a bit of a financial bind. Not insurmountable, but definitely tough. With the economy scraping bottom in the past year or more, it’s been especially nerve-wracking.
Luckily, school went well and Jennie is now fully employed (and making more than me!) so we’re on the road to recovery. We have a long list of projects we want to do in the house as soon as possible. It’s crazy how much joy can be derived from just the idea that we will be able to do this stuff. We’re not looking to do a complete remodel or anything, just upgrading stuff that’s needed it since we moved in a few years ago.
Here’s a list:
- Electrical stuff: new outlets downstairs, new outlet in kitchen, fix switches upstairs
- New microwave mounted above stove
- Mulch for all around the house and all of the trees, new plants for the bare spots, new garden box.
- New kitchen counters, sink, faucet
- New floors on kitchen/dining room half of downstairs
- New bathroom vanity tops, faucets, floors, shelves
- Fix drywall and paint again (everything – stronger colors this time)
I can do all but the first item, and the electrician (a friend) is coming out tomorrow. The rest would be a little expensive to do all at once, but spread out we have the ability to continue to pay down other debts while we make improvements.
We finally got a chance to get off the trainers and onto the pavement this weekend. We did ten miles on Saturday just to see how that would feel, and it was no problem. The bike path from North Aurora to Geneva is pretty scenic with the river on one side and lots of houses and woods on the other.
Sunday, we went for twenty miles to see how that would work. As an experiment, we rode from home to J’s hospital just to see how long it would take. Turns out it’s possible, but there’s really no easy way to do it. Splitting the ride into a to/from situation with 12 hours of nursing in between would be more realistic, but the ride home would be exhausting after work. Probably not realistic.
Anyhow, I think I’ll be investing in some compression pants and a waterproof jacket if we continue to ride this summer. Other couples golf – I’d be into visiting other cities and riding bikes. That could be our thing.
Lofty, but attainable, which is the key. We’re planning to do a bike trek in June that spans 200+ miles over five days. It’s in Western Illinois, so not a lot of hills or mountains, but lots of traveling. I’m pretty sure my legs are up for it but my ass is a little concerned. Either way, we’ll ride and rest on alternating days, with a pit crew hauling our camping gear from one station to the next. It sounds like an adventure we’ll either hate by the end or we’ll end up doing it annually. I’m looking forward to it.
Originally posted HERE on November 18th, 2008.
Well, I got the call this morning. We’ve been through a few holidays where we thought it would be Rip’s last, but he’s always soldiered through. Not so this time. My dad told me that Rip passed after midnight. He slept through most of yesterday, but woke up once and told his girls “the party’s been canceled.” Then went back to sleep. They figured he was dreaming, but he may have known what was happening. They gave him some morphine to make sure he wasn’t in any pain, and he just never woke up.
Things had been rough for him for a while. Years of smoking had all but crippled his lungs, and his son died a few years ago from lung cancer. It was doubly sad since they had been estranged for many years. Rip’s wife (my grandma, Dorothy) passed shortly after that, just after Rip had suffered a mild stroke but had mostly recovered from it. He didn’t want to, but he ultimately had to give up his house and move to an apartment where medical care was present all the time. There was very little argument from him even though everyone knew he’d have preferred to stay at home regardless of the consequences. A good soldier.
In the past few years, he was content with his nurse-approved portions of Canadian LTD and either a Brewers or Packers game. He had a stereo to listen to Bob Uecker call the games and headphones so he wouldn’t miss anything.
It’s hard to decide what to write about him. Some stuff won’t translate because he was unlike any other person I’ve ever met. Describing him is pretty impossible. He did much more than he said. He worked every day of his life, until his body just wouldn’t allow it anymore. He had the same hair cut since he was in the navy in WW2. He could build or repair anything. His favorite actor was Clint Eastwood. I think he’d take a ham sandwich over filet mignon, given the choice. He was a utility player, but spent a lot of time at short stop. I still have the toy chest he built for me when I was a little boy.
I have lots of memories. Lots. I think I got so much attention from him because by the time I came around, my grandpa was already pretty successful in his tavern and was expanding into the motel business. Lots of pressure was off to provide for the family by then. He could afford to have some fun. So, we shot a lot of pool. He showed me the beer cellar where they hid booze during the prohibition. He took me to a Brewers game (when Cecil Cooper, Robin Yount, and Rollie Fingers played) on a bus with other folks from Jackson. He made ice cream in the motel office while he smoked a pipe. He survived a boiler explosion in that same office. He had an infinite supply of quarters for soda, pinball, or video games.
Some of my grandpa’s life was set up for him. He inherited the dance hall from his dad. He probably inherited some business savvy, too, since Rip’s tavern was successful. And, if the gigantic piles of presents at Christmas every year were any kind of gauge, the motel business was successful, too. So he got a good start, but he capitalized on that and never quit working. He took what he was given and added his own ingenuity to set up a truly remarkable life.
I would be shocked if there was a person on the planet who had a bad thought about Rip. If he had any prejudices, you’d never have known it, but I suspect he didn’t. Strangers were treated like family. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
The bottom line is, he lived an ideal life. It almost seems impossible. I mean, there’s the blueprint for success. Solid ideas, strong work ethic, basic Christian principles – that’s Rip, and that’s how it should be done. That’s the kind of guy that made the 50′s an era of success and prosperity. He won a war, then he made his own town a better place. And, most importantly, he set the foundation for a strong, happy family.
My folks, my wife, and I took a driving trip to Nashville this weekend. The drive was pretty easy and the weather couldn’t have been better. We tend to like to check out local stuff when we go on vacation, so the state fair seemed like the ideal place to sample a bunch of local flavor in one place. We found out later that Tennesseans don’t go to the state fair, so you already get an idea of what a disappointment it was.
Apparently, there’s lots of crime at the state fair, and the individual counties do a better job with food on a stick. Actually, our first breakfast was at Waffle House. If you know it, you know why it was high on our priority list. This particular WH had argumentative waitresses and a filthy floor.
Now, it sounds like the trip was a bust, but it was quite the opposite. The stuff we expected to be great was only okay, and the stuff we tried on a whim was outstanding. Caney Fork Fish Camp was a little, nondescript restaurant on the corner by our resort. Inside, it was like a southern version of a Famous Dave’s, but family-owned. There was a giant catfish pond in the back corner (inside) and we sat right by it. They brought out free corn fritters, too! Our seafood pot pie was great.
Our resort was walking distance from the new Grand Ole Opry and Opry Mills shopping center (formerly Opryland, we think). The parking area butted up against a pasture, and in the evenings, there were a couple dozen cows grazing there. It was better than the state fair! The Opryland Hotel was just as impressive as any casino in Las Vegas IMHO. We went there twice just to walk around; once in the evening and once in the daylight. There are three giant arboretums with restaurants interwoven into the greenery. It’s pretty cool.
Oh, and we checked out the Nashville Zoo while my folks took a paddleboat tour of Nashville. The zoo was pretty interesting and better than we expected. We saw gibbons swinging and flying around and we got to watch an elephant take a dump. I got some great pictures.
Overall, I had a great time, but I think the only thing I’d go back to Nashville for is the Opryland Hotel.
Yesterday, I put in a full day of work (last one out the door from our group), watched a procyberathlete video game showdown, watched my candidate make a historic speech and accept his nomination, then capped off the night by watching a full, free Radiohead concert via the internet and piped through our television and stereo.
This week, I’ve become aware of some excellent bands, too. Genghis Tron was the first. I had heard of them but never looked into them. Right up my alley. They rock, and they understand show business. Drumcorps was another – friends with GT on MySpace and recommended by someone I know via a video game.
She’s not official until she takes the state boards which are required for her license, but I’m already proud of my little nurse. The whole process took a year and a half, which didn’t seem like a long time when she started out, but it was a bit of a lifestyle change for us during that time. My biggest concern was that she finish, and she’s done that. What happens from here is icing on the cake. (And I like cake.)
I’ve seen my girl work hard to get her farm planted and done, move wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt around our yard, balance work and school to get her bachelors degree, and now she’s finished what she started with her nursing degree. From a first-hand perspective, I can say that it was not easy. There was no content that was challenging for her, but there were lots of other aspects that were. She overcame a 45-minute commute, multiple deadly storms, unfair grading (on occasion), disorganized teachers, unreasonable time demands, and me – the slug on the couch.
Despite all of those challenges, she’s done. Boards or not, she completed her task, so if she becomes a nurse, fantastic. If she becomes a barista at Starbucks instead, that’s fine, too. Either way, I’m proud to be her husband.
For all practical purposes, anyhow. Big Drag just played our first show in a long time, Supercush is about to start recording again tomorrow, and Jennie has some applications out at Delnor for jobs in the Emergency Room or Intensive Care Unit – exactly what she was looking for in the first place. It’s kind of exciting because we’ve been planning out what stuff we’d like to do when she’s found a job.
One priority will be to get a camper of some sort. We originally wanted a T@b, but when we saw them in person, thought they were too small after all. Of course, an Airstream would be great, but those run more expensive than the trucks that tow them. The company that makes the T@b now makes the T@da, which might just be a perfect middle ground. We’ll have to see it in person to make the final decision.
With the camper, we’ll be able to visit family and friends and not impose or pay for a hotel. We’ll be able to go camping and I’ll actually be able to get some sleep. It might also make things easier if we finally get to go up north next year.
Of course, my priorities are a little different. I’d like a new laptop. This one has been great, but the monitor has to be in the exact right position to work (bad connection somewhere), and the keyboard has begun doing random things. I think the letter “i” causes a browser to go back two pages in the correct key sequence. Very frustrating when typing a post and it’s lost for no apparent reason.
So, as you might guess, I’ve been pricing out laptops. I’d also like a water treatment system for our house, a whole electrical overhaul (especially new outlets in the basement), and a new car – more likely later next year for that. We’ve also got some school loans and credit card debt to knock down before we make any other serious purchases. But all will come in good time.
State fair is next week through the 12th, I think, and we’ll be there at some point. I’ve been pretty lazy this summer, but that’s probably not shocking to anyone reading this. I really need to get back into the gym regularly, but since it’s been humid, I’ve been avoiding it. I’ve been a little spotty with walking Nina, too, so I should at least get back on track for her sake.
Cubs are still eeking out wins, Bears are in training camp, and the Blackhawks announced that they’ll be playing a game at Wrigley in January or February. My money’s on a heat wave that day.