Saturday, August 30, 2008

Memories are made of these

Both kids are off to college today. It is a strange day to have the house to you - when there has been at least one kid at home since 1989.
We brought them up for times such as these. To continue to learn not just in academics: But also in other aspects of living and life. New friends, new experiences, new and more challenges.

It was easy to tell on our way to West Hartford which vehicles were involved in the transport of college students. Truck like SUV's, s minivans, station wagons. All stuffed with Rubbermaid containers to the rafters and so many from out of state. In fact, at the U of H, only 50% of the students are from CT, the next largest group is from NJ. Lots of Tahoe's from NJ seen on I-91.

When they were small, we (and the kids) looked forward to Kindergarten, to starting school, their formal learning. They still do look forward to this. Allegra is now a junior, and is not ready for her senior year. Learning is still fun, and work waits upon graduation. As a freshman, Cameron has lots to see, and as a Computer Science + Engineering student, he will have plenty to do. But enjoyable schoolwork, we're sure.
Of course, there is ere some bittersweet in all of this. We are happy that both kiddos are growing as we hoped they would. But you have memories when they were little and we as parents sole taught our young'uns things at the beginning. But they had more to learn from schooling and experience. So they continue. My profile refers to myself as a sentimentalist (and I am still). I remember the past, but see a bright future for them. Although, Patti and I don't have a reasonable explanation for the cats as to where their brother and sister are...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Creative Photo no. 11

Thanks be unto Roger for hosting the Creative Photo again!

This was taken when taking a week off in Northern Minnesota, the land of Sky Blue Water (whenever the skies are blue, that is). This shot is at Lake Itasca, which is the headwater of the mighty Mississippi River. It is quiet and narrow. A big stream it seems here, you'd never suspect that it actually stretches 2,340 miles to Pilottown, LA.

The creativity in this shot is how the people here are quite small in the entire scheme of things. Itasca is one of 13,000 lakes in MN, not huge in itself but far larger that these rock climbers. You can even wade across here, but far too dangerous currents prevent that downriver. Tranquility abounds here, but the great river can be far from that (1993 Floods, Katrina). Yet the river set in place the founding of such great metropolises as the Twin Cities, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans. From a such a peaceful and inauspicious starting point...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ruby Tuesday Reminiscing

This week’s edition of Mary’s ever popular Ruby Tuesday. Today I am reviewing the past as our once little kiddies are both going to be leaving the nest, to reside at the University of Hartford. Of course, Allegra has been pursuing her studies for two years already, but now Cameron will be moving on to the U of H as well. Only 46 miles away, true, but slightly out of reach.
It seems a bit odd that the youngsters won’t be home every day. Sad? No, not really. As parents, you hope that you have provided your progeny with a set of values; the sense of work but not entitlement; and the ability to learn far more about success from failure instead of from expectations. Were we successful in our endeavor? I will admit to an obvious bias, however I think so.
The submittal is dated December 9, 1990. Cameron is about two weeks old here. He is dressed smartly in a warm red sleeper, and the shoot went well, as we didn’t have to wait for the smile. Allegra, the nearly two-year old, looks fine in her flannel dress. And there is her favorite knit bear resplendent in red and white, Johnnie Boy (if a grandma gives your kiddo a bear, she can name the bear whatever she wants!). There was so much ruby red here, the picture was used for our 1990 Christmas card. And this week’s Ruby Tuesday. Thanks Teach!

Friday, August 22, 2008

And the winner is...

It is always a pleasure to be recognized by one's peers, and why not blogging peers?? I have met a great bunch of bloggers since my auspicious tentative foray into this world on April 9, 2007.
And it has been a riot! I do enjoy following the exploits of other terrific blogging pros…as they get a glimpse into what makes me tick. I have been awarded a trio of awards I am quite proud to display.
I was given the Happy Feet award by Mary (aka The Teach). The inscription reads: "When I think of you my feet begin to tappin' and I pirouette across the floor in total delight that I will be talking/commenting to you in a little while. And of course my feet aren't the on only parts of my body that are happy because of you".This is great because as my legs don't work with anything near precision, my feet tap, move, and sway to any beat.
Teach hails from the borough of Queens as did I until second grade. She is an academic with an eye toward the artistic, seen in her phenomenal Ruby Tuesday series. I am thus honored. Thanks, Mary!

A treasure bestowed upon my lucky self from the one and only Queen Mimi. As stated by the Queen, I am one of the chosen for this, and could be blushing by what she said:
“Lucky husband to prolific perfect Princess Patti and quite a wordsmith himself. I don't know why his blog is called "airhead" because he is anything but. Ralph writes deep things, poetic things, silly things, sensible things.”
I am touched by the sentiments. Patti is the trained writer around here, but blogging has allowed me to come closer toward perfecting my prose. And I write what I feel, what I think. I enjoy that. Mimi offers a unique view from Bloggingham. Perhaps it is her natural style which emanates from her gracious and charming North Carolina ways. I am thus flattered, and beseech upon royalty my thanks. Roger had awarded Mimi this award, and deservedly so. This is good company to be in!
Finally, I received the Kick Ass Blogger award also from the Teach. This award, originated by MammaDawg notes what constitutes the Kick Arse (using the more polite English term): "Maybe they've got incredible, original content. Or they're overflowing with creativity. Is it someone that helps you become a better blogger…someone who simply inspires you to be a better person... or someone else who sends you to the floor, laughing your ass off.
What can I say? I think if my blogging style has improved over the preceding sixteen months, it is actually due to the quality of the larger blog world that I occasionally inhabit. Thanks Mary, again, for the recognition".
Thanks to all!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Creative Photo No. 10

Just a couple of shots on the platform for Track 10 at Union Station in New Haven, CT. Our darling Kid1 Allegra was to visit her boyfriend in NYC, and I was hoping for photos for the blog. Given my being in the wheelchair, photos taken from my 'chair seat height of about 2 feet above the ground (and only 53 inches tall), it's not often that I get the shot precisely as envisioned.

However, I did bring the point-and-shoot and saw the train's movements in the sign. The Metro North trains arrive from Grand Central and reverse course, over thirty times a day. The trains are coming and going...going and coming back. The signs evoke what you might see from the train either way. Or both ways. Coming and going.

I am remembering using my trusty Pentax K1000 and lenses, and was thinking about trying film again. The K1000 is heavy, true, but I still have a tripod...and a cable release. The tripod placed on my 'chair foot platform? It is alluring as I was thinking about how the shot a fisheye lens would capture of the New Haven sign. Thinkin' about it...Thanks Roger for this week's photo event.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Feets don't fail me now

Red this week is seen in the red tile with the grout that needs to be cleaned. This is in the passenger tunnel between tracks at Union Station in New Haven, CT.

My usual method of ambulation, so to speak, is my Pride 1103 Ultra wheelchair. And I get to glide over the floor without marking the soles of my old boat shoes. Saves wear and tear in my soles.

(As you might guess, the uppers wear out long before than the soles...).

Brought Allegra to the station for the train to visit her boyfriend in Westchester. I like the looks of this very busy yet stylish old depot, restored in the '80s. Lots of detail in its architecture, and I'll try for some more pictures later. Ev
en if the floor needs to be washed...

Thanks as always to Mary for hosting this Tuesday phenomenon. Check out th
e creativity and imagination of the participants.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Needs Meme

I was tagged by HRH Queen Mimi for this delightful meme referred to appropriately as The Needs Meme. The simple rule here is: All you have to do is Google your first name with the word needs behind it and post the results.

That’s it! As follows:

  • You need Ralph's Snack Bar Mobile Lunch Truck Service (like Norton referring to Kramden as “...chef of the future”)
  • Ralph needs to recover from a night of bowling without Alice knowing
  • Ralph needs to bone up on becoming a good golfer to impress his boss (remember Norton giving Ralph golf lessons in the kitchen?)
  • Ralph the Pitbull still needs a home
  • Ralph needs YOUR help for vet and other expenses for his care.
  • Ralph needs to sit whenever I touch the door of his crate. ('Bad dog!')
  • Ralph needed a solution, but was told that catheter ablations didn't work. (Huh??)
  • Ralph is needed somewhere else & discovers two new powers.
  • Ralph needed to know me for a while before he felt comfortable enough to break that rule. (Breakin’ blog rules my specialty, right Mimi?!)
  • Ralph's friends need your support!
  • Ralph needs to crawl back under his rock. (My favorite!)
  • Ralph will need to win to keep the fans ...
  • See if Ralph needs a note-taker. ...
  • Ralph...needed to access the internet.
  • Ralph needs a miracle…

I can’t even begin to make sense of the variety of needs that I may need. The Ralph Kramden and pitbull references say something about me…good or bad I can’t say!

Thanks much Mimi for thinking of me here, and I am glad that you are better. Hoping to stay out of the dungeon for a while…

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Climb every staircase...

As some readers know, I do not care for my dealings with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Without laborious explanation, I've had issues with them, but for many reasons, I have to maintain a relationship with them. I have reapplied for SS Disability (SSDI), as this is one option for income for the future. With the MD, I cannot stand or walk, and qualified for these benefits in the past, losing them due to previous employment. It seems like a no-brainer in qualifying again. Not a problem. Or so I thought.

However, SSA requires an independent assessment of the condition by a doctor of their choosing. Okay, I am against fraud, so let's do it. I was referred to 1552 ------ St. in New Haven for 7/28. As my application clearly stated MD and the inability to stand or walk, I figured that access would not be a problem for my power wheelchair. Wrong! See the wheelchair ramp? Me neither!

I was polite when I called my contact at the SSA disability determination. This guy is okay, quite pleasant and was profusely apologetic. Other people did the scheduling, and he would make sure that the SSA idiots employees would verify access of the next place. This was scheduled for 8/21 at 26 --- Street in New Haven. I had my doubts when that letter arrived, so I thought that I would investigate and took the 15 minute drive to see for myself. Yes, you guessed correctly. I made two passes in dense urban traffic and infuriating one-way streets to be certain.

Whereupon I called the doctors office to verify. I was not angry, but irritated that someone someone hadn't bothered to call before scheduling. I managed to find handicap street parking (no mean feat in the city) and left a missive voice mail to my contact. I was direct and certainly not profane, slightly sarcastic. Just to make a point, and hopefully receive a bit of consideration. This time...

Apologies again. I was told that the contact and his supervisor would arrange the appointment. The next place will be Griffin Hospital in Derby which I know to be totally accessible. On September 4…only six weeks later. I needed a decision by now. Fools dumbasses. As Bugs Bunny might say “What Maroons!”

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Creative Photo no. 9

The place is Big Stony Lake near Park Rapids in Northwest Minnesota. The subject is Brandy, the Golden Retriever who appears to be of many moods here:

Perhaps sad, as a member of her family is rowing away from the dock and leaving her behind.

Maybe relaxed, after lots of swimming and tennis ball chasin' in the water.

Could be tired, precisely due to the tennis ball chasin'.

Possibly content but not preaching contentment with the Golden's usually affable smiling pose.

Likely proud of herself for choosing well her family.

all or none of the above. Who can say for sure but the Dog Whisperer. But a friendly and really nice dog she was, and with looks like this, you really wanted her to fetch the ball you would throw into the lake. Even at the cost of a wet dog shaking off the excess in your vicinity.

Thanks are in order to Dale, Chica, and Roger for the invite and judging of this great contest.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ruby Tuesday

Tis' the season for another Ruby Tuesday post, courtesy of Mary. As such, I submit my my ruby delight.

This is the first Christmas for the lovely Patti and myself in 1985. The red
in here is more subtle than green of the faux tree, but is there:

- The red knit stocking with the letter 'P', not to be confused with the green one with the lett
er 'R'...
- The red bow tie on Opus
- The pink in the garland
- The Santa on the card, the gift under the tree and the
occasional glass ornament.

A wonderful time was had starting back then and continuing every year. Happy Ruby Tuesday!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In the presence of royalty

'Your presence is requested by the most esteemed Duchess of Norwich - upon - the - Thames'
is how the formal invitation might have read. But old-world formality has been dispensed in this occasion and the modern courtesies are found in the the
déclassé commoner devices known as phones and e-mails. So in order not to be bound by queenly protocol, we arranged a meeting with Duchess Linda yesterday in Waterford (not County Cork) at stone faced moderately priced chain serving Italian style cuisine. Only 55 miles away to my first meeting with Linda, blogger extraordinaire and royalty (a Duchess is royalty akin to AA or AAA in baseball, I'm guessing).

Although not a blueblood, the castle gate was opened for myself and Allegra with the assistance of
Princess Patti.
The major faux pas when invited by the royal class is to not be late. However we spent too much time in traffic due to the very un-royal masses on the chase to lose cash at alarming rates at the CT casinos. We would be late to this meeting due to NY and NJ gamblers, but the Duchess was most kind about this, and there would be no penalties for our error. Like how innocuous the sign is referring to these gambling palaces as mere 'reservations'...

That said, the meeting was as fun as expected. My princess had already met the Duchess and Queen Mimi previously. Linda was as expected, a member of the upper crust without pretense (or a tiara). We were seated and served by excellent wait staff member Michelle, who provided wonderful service with a smile, not a cliche here. A toast for the grownups was had. Yet, not knowing if protocol allowed for Allegra, aka Lady A, to toast with mere strawberry lemonade. Not knowing the score, we demurred.
I was under the impression that royalty was expected to behave in a stiff formality, bowing down to the proper use of language and pi
nky finger placement. Certainly not to engage in mere plebeian laughter. However, that convention was discarded, and the royals had a splendid time, disregarding their time-in waiting grooming. As did I, forgetting to bow at our first meeting. All was forgiven!

The food was quite good, but the camaraderie even better. A time not only to meet a fellow blogger we enjoy visiting on the screen with a keen interest in American history who makes me want to tour Gettysburg and Boston with a serious eye to discovering the historical factoids left out of history textbooks. College age Lady A has a great interest in history, and chimed in as well.

cappuccino and tiramisu were the perfect accompaniment to end a fine meal. We agreed to meet in our burg of Ansonia in the future, agreeing that this was a fine meeting and conversation and it shall continue. Upon our departure, we took pictures of the setting sky and moon in the skies.
Sky shots this nice provide the right backdrop
to a great time.

I must confess to a most startling discovery: Royals don't have to be haughty, you know. And it is a fine thing indeed for the mingling of the classes...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Creative Photo no. 8

This is another cute bruin found at the Henry Doorly zoo in Omaha many years ago, in a 100°F humid Nebraska day.

I posted another
bear beating the heat for my first Creative Photo . I can't speak for the first furry, fluffy omnivore, but this one seems to know where to stay in this Midwest oven.

In the pool. He/she looks perfectly content right here, the only thing missing in this shot is the fancy drink with the sprouting paper umbrella.

You almost feel like asking him. "How's the water?". However, as hot as I was on that day, that pool, with a silly 400 lb. loafer inside, was not big enough for the two of us...

Thanks again to Roger, Chica and Dale for hosting this fun contest. For me it is lots of memories, and isn't he the cutest most cuddly bear - not!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ruby Tuesday

This was Allegra's first Christmas Eve in 1989, five days before her first birthday.

You want red? You got it! This is her 'classic' rocking horse dress. It was easy to put her into
a dress...until about eleven years old.

What is more kid friendly than a Fisher Price toy, although the animal sounds weren't that authentic, but acceptable to a one year old kid.

Ruby Tuesday is the creation of The Teach. Check out the other participants and you will be amazed at the depth and breadth of reds therein.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Four Things Meme

I have been tagged by Linda, Duchess of Norwich-upon-the-Thames (her given royal title from the Queen of Bloggingham). This is the Four Things Meme, and I like to be compelled (in a good way!) to offer a bit more of myself to the blogging universe. I can be a bit reserved at first meeting, not shy but perhaps not so revealing right away. At first, that is. Away we go:

Four jobs I've had:
1. Dishwasher
2. Substitute teacher
3. Buyer
4. Cataloguer
Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. Casablanca (Favorite line, Renault to Rick: "Not only are you a sentimentalist, you have also become a patriot!")
2. Diner
3. Chicken Run
4. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas)

Four places I've lived:
1. Steubenville, Ohio (Allegra doesn’t believe such a place exists. Patti knows otherwise!)
2. St. Paul, Minnesota
3 Brigantine, NJ
4. Bayside, Queens, NY (a former home also to a couple of blog friends, Lynn and Joan. A small world, indeed…)

Four TV shows I love:
1. Modern Marvels on the History Channel (any marvel will do)
2. The Simpsons
3. Mthbusters
4. Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Four places I've vacationed:
1. Zweibruken, Germany
2. Biloxi, Mississippi (Fine fresh Gulf seafood)
3. Park Rapids, Minnesota at Big Stony Lake (MN lakes are gorgeous)
4. L.A. (1984 Olympics)
Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Our Peter Rabbit Bunnykins baby dishes (now used as cat food bowls)
2. My Far Side coffee mug: How nervous little dogs start their day
3. My Tony the Tiger cereal bowl, spoon and juice glass set (Christmas gift from Patti; too much time to explain right now!)
4. My Oktoberfest München liter stein on the shelf
Four sites I visit daily

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. At the British Beer Company in Hyannis with a British (20 oz) pint of a Black and Tan
2. At Advanced Wheels in East Granby (my van dealer) taking delivery of my new IMS Toyota Sienna wheelchair van with leather
3. Paris, because it is Patti’s favorite city!
4. At Brigantine in a beach wheelchair in the water just far enough to feel the briny surf on my feet.

I apply this tag to four (or any number) of bloggers who may, just may, choose to reveal a bit more of themselves.