Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Sunday Kind of Love



Our neighbors got married earlier this fall, on the last warm day before it turned cold.

I performed the ceremony, which is the second wedding I've performed. (I have another one in March that is more high stakes — it's at a wedding venue and will have about 80 people in attendance. Eek.)


Alex and Clarissa's wedding was perfect in every way. They did it at the Cincinnati Observatory on a Sunday late afternoon. It lasted about 7 minutes. Their vows were perfectly sweet and thoughtful and I read the ceremony from my phone, because that's where I'd written it. Somehow, their vows to each other and the ceremony I'd written all mentioned the same things — an apple cake, adventure and travel. 

Either we know each other better than we even imagined (probably true), or we are connected on a spiritual plane (possibly true). 



It was just the two of them, the two of us and their two dogs. 

This is my favorite photo from the day: Them in their wedding attire, wrangling Ramond and Tina to a tree.





And then Tina photobombed us.




Afterward we went to our favorite place, Forno, for dinner. Because whatever day you get married, it's nothing without bolognese and bruschetta from Forno. 


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Goodbye, Old Friend


After 13 years and 103,293 miles, the Blue Angel has a new home.

We took our final road trip together earlier this summer to Indiana, which is one of our favorite places to go. But the Blue Angel and I, we've been everywhere. She has been my trusty steed since I bought her brand new from the showroom floor in 2004. She had 12 miles on her.

We were thicker than thieves from day one. When I tell her we're leaving at 7, she's ready. Even if I'm late, she isn't. She's never complained about being early, running late, snow, rain, sleet or sun. She happily embarks.

She once (or twice) even drove me to Indiana on flat tires. 



Blue Angel + Gina: Final odometer reading.

Her original sales sticker.

She is forcefield of protection and I have had complete faith and trust in her for over decade. When I was tired, the Blue Angel drove for me. When other drivers weren't paying attention, the Blue Angel was. When I was too lazy or it was too hot or cold to add gas when I should have, the Blue Angel kept going anyway, ensuring we arrived safe and sound.

She is my faithful driver, and I am her faithful servant. I can put The Blue Angel wherever I want — the smallest of parking spots, the faster lane, any backroad or byway. We've been all over the Midwest together, hand in steering wheel, like peas and carrots. There are probably 10 posts in this blog expressively about her. She is that amazing.

But I've been driving a stick shift for 25 years. Since I started driving. And I'm tired of it. If the Blue Angel was an automatic, I'd keep her forever. But pushing in the clutch all the time, especially on I-75, is no fun.

About two years ago I started thinking about getting another car. I wasn't ready then, but I thought I might be eventually, and I needed the extra time to get used to the idea. So I've been thinking about it. And debating. But I hated pretty much everything that drove past us.

"It's no Blue Angel," I'd think.

And I worried the Blue Angel might be upset if we weren't together anymore. I knew I would be. But I should have known better. The Blue Angel has never been upset with me, nor would she ever be. Her love and loyalty is unconditional. But still, when I was test driving cars this summer and the sales guy told me that if I traded her in they'd send her to auction, I nearly collapsed.

"Auction? No, no, honey. I don't think so."

I couldn't bear the thought of her out in some old hot auction yard, with uncaring people lowballing her worth and some rando buying her without knowing her name.

No, ma'am. Not on my watch. I vowed to not let that happen. She had to go to good home.

And then, a good home found her. Which is the way the universe works sometimes. A guy Ray works with wanted his 16-year-old daughter to know how to drive a stick shift, and she needed a cute little car to learn on and protect her.




Well, then look no further than the Blue Angel, I told Ray.

When Ray and I were trading texts about it, he reassured me, "She is going to be well loved. Jason takes really good care of his cars. He's an engineer. He knows how to care of her."

"Tell him she has been well loved, and that her name is the Blue Angel. Tell him to call her the Blue Angel and she will come when called...  And tell him she prefers '90s R&B."

I admit I started to get a bit misty-eyed thinking she was going to another home. But that's because I love her, and she loves me. And we've been a team for a long time.

She was sold before I even got another car.

The family who bought her is lovely. She will be someone's first car. (A big honor, I think.) I even got to watch the girl who will be driving her now attempt her manual transmission for the first time. She did a terrific burnout. I was proud of her. I think the Blue Angel was proud too. They'll be peas and carrots in no time.

Since I'd been mentally preparing for this for at least a year, I was fine when Ray and I drove away and left the keys. If you heard that I in fact started to sob like a baby once we drove away, you aren't giving enough credit to babies. Babies hold it together way better than I did.



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

As Sweet As Strawberry Wine


We've had a busy few weekends, which I am normally against. But sometimes you find yourself having fun in spite of your theory that doing nothing is the most fun there is. 


We're So Fancy, You Already Know

I scored VIP Chris Stapleton tickets weekend before last, and it was so fancy that we couldn't even find the VIP parking lot. That's how VIP it is, people. It's like the speakeasy of parking. You have to be "in" to know where it is, and clearly we aren't "in."

We eventually found it though, along with our fantastic seats and access to more private bathrooms (truly a dream come true) and the VIP bar. I've been to Riverbend plenty of times, but now that I've rubbed shoulders with the ballers of Cincinnati, I don't know if I can go back to the long bathroom and beer lines. 

We are VIP people now, I've decided. People who pee in the little toilet trailers rather than the crowded bathrooms with the commoners. The show was also sold-out, and it was bonkers in there. I was nearly separated from Ray (never to be seen again), because the crowd was moving like a rip current and carrying me away with them. (And you all know I'm not so great at rip currents.) 

I first heard of Stapleton during that thrilling 8 minutes he performed "Tennessee Whiskey" and "Drink You Away" with Justin Timberlake at the CMAs a few years ago. It was a scorcher, and I nearly lit my own couch on fire it was such an electric performance. 

If you haven't seen it, YouTube it immediately.  

But in spite of knowing only a song or two, we love Chris's bluesy, classic country sound. And the show was tremendous. I drove us home since Ray doubled-down at the beer booth, and he spent the drive downloading songs we could sing at the top of our lungs. 

Wild Wedding Nights

Then Saturday the 9th was our anniversary. Somehow four years have passed since my former Boss Man talked about "lubricant" during our ceremony. I can't tell if it feels like we just got married yesterday or as if we've always been married. Probably both. 

The four year anniversary is linen chips and salsa, so celebrating was no problem for us. We went to Nada, where I like to eat my body weight in their delicious chicken and corn enchiladas and then proceed to feel miserable for the rest of the night. 

True love will find you in the end, you guys.

Books, Records, Films... These Thing Do Matter

This past weekend was more low-key, but still filled with things other than porch sitting. I'm sure our porch is wondering where we've been... we never call, we never write... we've hardly spent any quality time on it lately. 

Three significant events in pop-culture occurred this weekend. 

First, I discovered a new record shop has opened in Oakley. It's called MetaModern Music, which is a terrible name, but no ever asks me before they make these important decisions. But still, they have a great selection and it's super close to Dewey's, so double bonus because Dewey's usually has a big line. 

I picked up these classics, which I am embarrassed I didn't already own, but the owner didn't judge me, which was nice of him, because I would have. 



In fact, let it be known that I should never own a record or book store, because I would be judging people right and left. I'd be the Jack Black character from High Fidelity. "You don't already have the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan on vinyl? I'm sorry, but you're too pathetic for me to sell this to you. Please leave." 



Second, I saw All The Presidents Men for the first time. I know. And I used to call myself a journalist. I don't know who I am anymore either, okay? Another post for another time, but I have a lot of thoughts on this movie.

Aaaaand finally — drum roll! —  we subscribed to Netflix! This makes us the last people on Earth to have it, but we have arrived! All those shows you guys talk about that I have no idea what you're saying because half the time our TV input is on the wrong setting and I don't know where the remote is to change it, well... things are gonna CHANGE around here. 

We've watched three episodes of Making A Murderer and are completely gripped. 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Super Fans





Our first FC Cincinnati game. 


1 game
2 shirts
2 corndogs
Tie game

We are super fans now. (But we ain't votin' for no stadium.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Back Home Again






I never much appreciated how pretty Indiana is when I lived there. 
But now I can't believe how far you can see, how big the sky is and how stunning the sunsets are. 

I prefer the rolling hills and steep ascents of Cincinnati, but the state I once saw only as stark and flat has unfolded into a stunning landscape. I even like the corn and bean fields, all plowed into neat little rows running up alongside the back roads. 

Good job, Indiana. 

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Ice Ice Baby


We got a new fridge. This may sound boring, but it's not. 

For starters, we left our old one out on the front lawn for our neighbors to admire. The residents of Hyde Park were shocked looking at all 22 cubic feet of broken appliance. Not in OUR neighborhood, they gasped. 

(Is fridge shaming a thing? If so, I'd like to submit this photo for an award.)

Secondly, our new fridge has a water spout and an ice maker. So basically I am living my best life right now. 

Ice, people. ICEThese half-moon shaped ice chunks welcome me whenever I open the freezer. 


Sometimes I open it when I don't even need to, just so I can see the piles of frozen water shaped into little presents just for me! And in a feat of modern day sorcery and physics, every few minutes, another half-moon ice cube rockets out into the bin(What's that you said, you've had an ice maker for years? Sorry, I can barely hear you as I stir all this ice around.)

Before we finally ditched it, our old fridge was clocking in at 72 degrees in the fridge and freezer. We had to throw out everything. The ice-cream. The frozen pizzas. The French onion dip. Even the little packets of Taco Bell Fire Sauce. (Though I don't think those actually need to be refrigerated, FYI.) 

Still, it was all huge loss and we were livid. Ray even gave it a close-up view of his Chuck Taylors. 



But what's worse than your fridge going out is having to go get a new one. I thought it would be fun, like I would just stand in the appliance aisle and choose from all the amazing options. Ummm, no. It wasn't like that at all.

There is counter-depth, regular depth, cubic feet, ice and water on the door or on the inside. Some of the buttons felt like I could peel them off with my fingernail; and the reviews on all of them had at least several horror stories. 

Not to mention they are expensive. It was such an ordeal we spent two weeks just using the neighbors' mini-fridge they loaned us.

I affectionately referred to it as "the kegerator." 

I call this work, "Still Life With Kegerator."

But finally we decided on one. It looks completely different than the old one, don't you think? We thought so too. 




Orrrr they are nearly exactly the same, except the new one is slightly wider. It also has LED lights everywhere, and for some reason, you can turn the deli/beverage/meat drawer different colors, like purple. I have no idea why anyone would need to do that, but ok.

Why is this purple? It doesn't stay like that, it just ghosts in for a few seconds and then ghosts out again. Why?

Lights, lights, baby.

But the real treat is that it has ice and water! Ray is pretty pumped about it too.


Sunday, May 07, 2017

I'm Only Happy When It Rains


Friday was rainy and disgusting and I couldn't have been more ecstatic about it. Rainy, cloudy, awful weather makes me feel better about not leaving the house, where I can justify staying in with whatever book I am reading. (Or staring at my phone reading, which is usually the case.) 

After work on Friday I hustled to Joseph-Beth, one my favorite places on earth, to pick-up a slew of books I had reserved. I've been pretty diligent the last six months or so about not buying any books from Amazon but rather adding them to my Amazon cart so I'll remember what titles I want, and then emailing Joseph-Beth to have them put on hold for me. I love that bookstore and would be devastated to see it close, and while there doesn't seem to be any danger of that, I don't want to take any chances by buying books online anymore. 

Anyway, one of the books I got was for my friend Kari's birthday. Several of them were for my mom for Mother's Day, so those books are about murder, because those are the books my mom likes best. (Strange.) And since I had recently rearranged a few shelves to make more room for books for myself, I picked up a few for your's truly too. 

One day, maybe when I retire, or get locked into a library with a cozy bed, a delicious cafĂ©, temperature control and the Internet (my version of being an island castaway), I may actually get to read all the books I buy. And since this is liable to happen any minute now, I want to be fully prepared with lots of books. 

Then I went home, dumped the bag of books by the door and proceeded to dive back into the book I've been reading, Malcolm X's autobiography. (It's completely gripping, thought-provoking and absorbing.) 

All this to say, it was the best Friday night ever, and I didn't have to feel about it because the weather was terrible. 


Kari and Ray bday twin celebration Saturday night.

Then, I forgot to bring the book for Kari to her and Ray's birthday dinner (they are bday twins and we've made a tradition about celebrating together), and I realized I didn't have enough space after all for the books I got for myself. So... more rearranging to commence. 

Also, thank you for noticing my new reading chair in the dining room photo. Sadly, I don't ever get to sit in it because Chuck Norris has claimed it. He reads all those books through osmosis. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Coffee Talk





We got rid of the oversized Ikea coffee table I've had for about 100 years in favor of this sleek little number. It fits so much better in the space, it's as if the square footage of our (small) living room doubled.

I want to commit this 'after' photo to memory because this is the last time the coffee table will be so clean. Sure, we'll talk a good game about not crapping it up with stacks of newspapers, books, cat brushes, etc, but who are we fooling. (I also want to commit it to memory because the rug looks so nice. Looks are deceiving. In reality, it's beat-up and has pulls everywhere from little cat claws.) 

If you're in the market for a new coffee table, this one came from West Elm. I'd been stalking West Elm off and on for months waiting for it reappear and when it finally did, I jumped on it immediately. It's disappeared again, but I also had my eye on this one and this one. Ultimately though, neither of those would work because we needed the shelf... for all of our crap. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Driving (With) Mr. Daisy

The (former) Boss Man is retiring in a few years. In preparation for his windfall of free time, he’s been contemplating various hobbies and future jobs. Without fail, they are always a) dangerous or b) expensive. Usually they are both.

They also often end up with Carolyn and me as his guinea pigs. 


He is excited for us to: Be his first helicopter passengers when he gets is “license’! Be awed by his new gigantic wood mulcher! Attend the dramatic readings of what he publishes in his new cardiology journal! Eat at every Subway sandwich shop on the planet! Etc.

Basically, he is trying to kill us.

Last week he sent us this story about future retirees capitalizing on the “gig economy” and becoming Uber drivers.

Now, I’ve been in the car with the (former) Boss Man on more than few occasions, and I kid you not, he nearly killed me 9 out of ten times.

And, and this is no joke (see photo), he once rammed his Porsche through his garage wall when the brakes "went out.” Mm hmm. This is the photo Roz (his wife) took after it happened. We even ran a caption contest in the Heart Institute newsletter with it. 



Buckle up, Beechmont, indeed. 

So, let the record show that if the (former) Boss Man starts driving for Uber, those pesky sexual harassment lawsuits will be the least of Uber's problems. But just in case this one sticks, I wrote the following marketing copy for his future passengers.

What To Expect From Your Newly Retired Uber Driver


Congratulations on calling an Uber! You are privileged today to be driven by a retired mad scientist with fabulous unicorn hair. (It's so soft and bright!) Here are a few suggestions for fully enjoying your ride experience.

  1. Your driver loves puns. It's ok to groan-laugh at first because you feel sorry for him. But if it becomes too much for you — and it will! — feel free to put on your headphones and tune him out. Trust us, those headphones are going to come in super handy!


  2. You'll also need them to drown out the horns and swear words of angry drivers who will honk at you when your driver 1) kills the clutch 2) cuts off a gigantic line of snaking traffic 3) informs you that you aren't living up to your full potential.* Investing in the noise-cancelling Bose is going to be so worth that $500 price tag. In fact, you'll be willing to pay extra before this ride is over.  


  3. Your driver might suddenly stop the car and demand you get out. This could happen in a snowstorm, a bad neighborhood, or a sketchy "buffet" on the West Side where you will probably get food poisoning. All part of the charm of this "crazy scientist" driver.** Lolz. 


  4. You might have to take the wheel from your driver if you notice him nodding off, talking crazy or literally passing out in the driver's seat. That's normal! And you have a driver's license, right? RIGHT?!
  5. Don’t worry if your driver kills the clutch in bumper-to-bumper traffic. You’re in a Porche, enjoy the sudden lurch forward! That SUV tanker barreling down on the tiny convertible you're in just heightens the “wow” factor.**

*
  6. There will be times during your ride you will feel harassed. This is your driver having his "intellectual way with you." Let your driver know on a scale of 0 to Bill O'Reilly how seductive he is.  


If all this sounds scary, it is. But don't worry. You are sure to come away from this carousel of delights intact... mostly. Good luck! And thank you for riding with Uber!

*all of this really happened to me while driving with him, by the way. 


** this too.


*** and this.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Upward


The last time I attended a going away happy hour for myself was nine years ago. I was at the Enquirer then, and I remember the waning days at CiN was spent taking photos of other people who also aren’t there anymore, and with Ronson drawing smiley faces on things to tell me how happy he was going to be when I was gone. 

Lies. He missed me terribly.

Last month, friends and now former colleagues threw me one for my last week at Cincinnati Children’s. I never considered when I started at Children’s I’d be there so long. Nine years. Crazy. But it was such a great gig and I got to do so much there that I stuck around and grew as it grew.

As I attended meetings and walked around the last few weeks, I became hyperaware of how many folks I knew. Physicians, researchers, friends, acquaintances, colleagues… all sorts of people. 

Over the last nine years I’ve updated countless web pages and written numerous stories about lifesaving procedures, cardiac defects and mechanical hearts. My audience was often people who were experiencing the worst day, week, month or year of their lives. And the people I worked for were the ones who offered them hope. I wrote marketing copy for ads and social media, created strategies and tactics in the hopes that physicians nationwide could offer their own patients hope through our talented staff. And I wrote about the staff and helped them tell their own stories.

Everyone I ran into the last few weeks had something to ask me, or needed guidance in some way, and I thought about how much I would miss being the go-to person. I became the person to ask because even if I didn’t have the answer, I knew who would. And if they needed a presentation, video, photo, talking points, patient story, I could write it up pretty quickly it became so ingrained in me. 



Badge photo from my CCHMC start date. 

Originally I didn’t want to have a going away happy hour, but I am glad I ultimately did. It’s always good to get together with folks and mark the occasion. (At newspapers, they give you a fake front page, complete with funny headlines and stories and what-have-you.) My going away gift for this happy hour was the Boss Man handing me food from his pocket and him threatening Rachel with germy bar snacks. (Who says hospitals aren’t fun?!)

Then, just like that, I was off to my new gig.


Two weeks ago I started at GE Aviation on the Global Communications Team. I KNOW. Majorly exciting! 

I build jet engines now. 

Well, I don’t exactly "build" them, but I help them stay aloft. Well, okay, not really. I guess "technically" I write about them and other GE Aviation stories, but still, it’s as if I build them! (I build them with my mind, okay?!) 




Tomorrow I start week three. It's been great being new again — meeting new people, learning a new business, starting fresh and seeing everything anew. 

During my interview my (now) boss walked me through The Learning Centre, where engines hang from the ceiling and sit on a long curved pedestal in a museum-like space, with placards curating the engine and when it was built. 

It was so thrilling I walked around thinking I couldn’t wait to get home to tell Ray about it. I figured that even if I didn’t get the job, I still got to see this incredible space and this museum of GE aircraft engines. I just knew Ray was going to be so jealous. After I told Ray I called my dad (recall that my dad was a diesel mechanic for the school district for 30 years), and told him about it. 

“The GE90 wouldn’t fit into the kitchen,” I told him. “Not without raising the ceiling. It might not even fit into the whole house.” I said this as though I had built it, real matter of fact, like I had snuggled the blueprint at night and learned the entire engine by osmosis.

I was already thinking of the stories I could tell about the engines, the folks who engineer them, repair them, fly them. I wondered if in addition to needing a communications person if they wanted me to learn how to wrench on them or fly them as well, because I was willing. Whatever they want! I thought.

A few days after my interview I was on a plane wondering if I was being propelled through the air by a GE Aviation engine. I took this series of photos somewhere between Florida and Ohio during a lightning storm. 




I've since learning that every two seconds, an aircraft powered by GE technology takes off somewhere in the world. Pretty amazing. 

A few people have asked me how the Boss Man handled the news of my departure. I can't remember his exact reaction, but I know that it was quickly followed by a pun. (That I immediately repressed.) 

"Don't worry, you can think of me whenever you're on a flight," I told him. "I'm basically a pilot now." 

He didn't seem overly comforted by this. Weird. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday in a Reading Chair


Ray spent the day hanging drywall in the basement. I spent it being completely destroyed by The Tsar of Love and Techno. I don't know who Anthony Marra thinks he is, forcing people to spend sunny Saturday's in a reading chair with his profoundly moving book. The nerve.

(Anthony, please come to my house for tea so we can discuss your masterful, lyrical stories of abject pain and staggering beauty. Thank you.)

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Yard Crashers: Front Yard Edition

Our living room might be larger than our front yard, and our living room is pretty small. 

All told, the two patches of grass that constitute our entire yard (front and back) is so slight that we figured Ray, who loathes cutting grass and yard work, could whip through the entire thing in minutes.

We didn't even bother to buy a real lawnmower for a long time. Our first mower was plastic, motorless and looked like a child’s toy. I fully expected bubbles to blow out of it as Ray "mowed" with it



Just like the back yard, we first saw the front yard when everything was dormant. And it looked cute enough, minus the overgrown evergreen bush. (Which I thought we should shape into a dinosaur.)

Then spring came and ruined what little cute we thought it had. 


A carpet of ivy took over and gigantic hostas sprang from the ground and started fist-fighting crowding each other. And the little Japanese maple tree seemed more and more displaced in an island of mulch, which led to much lawn soul-searching: Why IS that tree in the middle of the lawn? Did someone do that on purpose?



WHY WHY WHY?

This photo is also blurry. Probably because the camera was in shock from so much lawn weirdness.

The other problem with our front yard was that it was the ugly stepchild of the block. I felt like we were one hosta away from having a rusty car up on concrete blocks with Ray showing his butt-crack to the world while he wrenched on it. (Not that anyone would have really noticed though, did you the size of those hostas?!)

Meanwhile, the Joneses all had perfectly manicured lawns, perfectly tiny bushes, perfectly colorful flowers and expertly placed pavers. 

True story: Our former corner-lot neighbors even had a landscaper come EVERY WEEK to pluck dead flowers, arrange the rocks "just-so" and put in new plants when one looked even slightly tired. And that's ignoring their bountiful rose bushes and magnolia trees.

Basically, everyone who walked by their house was like, “WOW! That yard is life-changingly beautiful!” Then they would walk a few feet, see our lawn and shake their heads in disgust. I'm sure they felt sorry that our neighbors had to live next to us. "When bad things happen to good rose bush owners. So sad."

So we did what we do — we called the landscaping company that did the backyard

Other than wanting a paved path to the driveway, our direction was similar to the backyard: Do whatever you want, and maybe give us some flowers that we can’t kill? 


I also wanted a “surprise” element, like a water feature or another weeping spruce or a big hibiscus bush. A conversation starter, you know? But we quickly realized that our landscaping company didn’t really understand the concept of a lawn “conversation starter,” and instead went with clean lines, lots of plants, tiny bushes, etc. Basically, what the Jones's had, which was fine. My plan was to add my own Don Featherstone pink flamingo anyway. Or something similar. 

We were actually awake this time when the work was done, in contrast to the last time.  




It looks even tinier when it's just dirt.



The front took longer than the back because installing a brick path is no joke. (Or so I'm told.) Plus, I suspect the evergreen bush fought back. 
 
It turned out beautifully, but you probably already heard about it, or saw us in Home and Garden: Tiny Lawns Edition, where they gave a full spread to our hydrangeas.  

“Never have you seen beauty like this before — the lawn emerald green, flowers so violet Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes would be jealous."

No more giant evergreen! No more Tree Island™! No more random pavers! Helloooo usable footpath!

The grass looks better now actually, the sod lines are gone. And Ray is very "GET OFFA MY LAWN!" OCD about it. 

It was quite a transformation
 


And I got my surprise feature last summer. Ray wasn’t quite so down with the pink flamingo (though I’d argue Featherstone was a true American artist, capturing kitsch and whimsy in ways others can only aspire), so I opted for a gazing ball instead. 



It's the perfect throwback counter to the tightly controlled grass and plants. And if you look at it long enough, you can see your lawn future in it. Stop by anytime for your lawn prediction. (Okay, mostly it just looks cool.)

That sums it up for lawn redesign blog posts. I keep thinking I will write about our workout room redo, attic redo, office redo, dining room redo, but usually I forget to take before photos. And if you don't have the satisfaction of before and after shots, what's the point, ya know? Maybe someday.