Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Trip to Kansas City December 2012 - Day Five and Return Home

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On Monday I drove up to Clyde Missouri to visit Sr. Paula at the Clyde Motherhouse of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.  Clyde is about an hour and forty-five minutes from Mom's place in Kansas City.  You head north past the airport and then St. Joseph and then head toward Maryville.  Once past Conception Abbey, you take County Road P which takes you to Clyde and actually only to Clyde.

Paula on the phone with Marilyn
I spent four hours visiting with Sr. Paula who has been facing some health issues lately and is plagued with low energy and feeling tired a lot.  She had just finished her daily exercise when i arrived and was a little more tired than usual.  However, long conversations about theology and the state of the Catholic church got her blood flowing and pressure up.  She was also helped by a phone conversation with Marilyn.  I had wanted to Skype but they don't have WiFi in the retirement center--Our lady of Rickenbach--and they certainly don't permit Skype on the one computer the residents have access to.  By the way, "Maria Rickenbach" is the Swiss monastery from which Clyde was founded in 1874 by Mother Anselma Felber.  Click here to see a map of the location of Maria Rickenbach.

Noon meal with the Sisters
I went to mass with the residents at 11:00 and then to dinner following.  Our lady of Rickenbach is a retirement community at the Motherhouse is basically a combination of independent living, assisted living, and nursing care.  Paula was actually the founding director and played a key role in the design of the building and it s programming.  over the years I have gotten to know several of the sisters, sometimes they are friends from my visits with Paula in San Diego or Tucson.

I returned to Kansas City and spent a fun evening with Mom watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase.  I left the next day and returned to Rochester although with some delays.  I did get the chance to capture some nice photos of downtown Chicago as we flew over the lake and back to the west to land.

This is my last trip of 2012.  There will be a 2013 edition of this blog with the first entry probably a trip to Califronia in late Janaury or early February.  Happy a wonderful Christmas everyone.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Trip to Kansas City December 2012 - Day Four

I started Sunday with Mass at St. Therese Parish with Anola.  We went to the 8:00 Mass which is listed as traditional rather than the upbeat and lively gospel Mass at 9:30.  This would have been the Mass we would have gone to normally but there was a lot going on this Sunday.  Anola used to be in the gospel choir but with two novels published and a third in the works, she got too busy...not so much with researching and writing since she has been doing that all her life.  But with promoting the already published books.  After a quick breakfast at Panera's in Brookside, she went on to the holiday sale to help Mary and I went to Kauffman Gardens to see what photos were there for the taking.  At first, you think that a December garden is a pretty uninteresting place but a little patience and time reveal a marvelous world of forms, shapes, and with the right light sparkling highlights.

You can see more images in my Picasa album featuring the Kauffman Gardens.

As I was finishing up, I got a call from Oren Pickett, the son of my Dad's brother, Uncle Buddy.  I had contacted him via email and suggested we get together.  We had a nice time getting caught up with news about our respective families.  He is retired--as is his wife, Christa--but is keeping busy with some wonderful work.  He is heavily involved with Johnson County Christmas Bureau.  This organization provides holiday assistance to low income families in Johnson County KS. This country contains some of the wealthiest communities in the United States but also contains some extremely low income families. He has been involved for over ten years.  He also works in the gift shop of the MLS team--SportingKC-- during game days and enjoys helping that team increase its presence in Kansas City.  Add to that his work with Heart to Heart and you have someone who is putting his retirement to use helping others.

One of the figures of Plaza Fountain with tower in background.
After that nice visit, I went down to Cristo Rey High School where the Holly Holly Holly Day Craft and Art Show was being held.  Louisa was there with Mary and we visiting for the remaining hours of the sale and then helped get everything packed up and into Bob's car.  Happily enough, there were many fewer items to pack up since it was a very successful sale for Mary.  We decided to meet a bit later for dinner and so I went back down to the Plaza to try some shots I had been thinking of.  The new image at the top of the trip blog is one but here is another.  Since the main fountain--depicting the four major rivers of the world--is shut down for the winter, I was able to get into it and capture some images of the sculpture with reduced flash settings and the lights on the buildings in the background.  You can see more of these photos in the updated Plaza album.

Then it was on to eat with Louisa, Bob, and Mary at Chipotle's on the Plaza.  Mary was exhausted but energized by her weekend.  We told stories of the family--some old ones and some new ones--as we always do.  Mary and Bob will be hosting the Kansas City Christmas dinner after taking a year off last year.  The theme this year is Beer, Brats, and Bingo or something like that; three B words any way.  These gatherings are always far from your traditional Christmas celebrations.

Mike and Leslie with their Aunt Ruth
I got back to Mom's apartment around 7:30 only to find that she was not home yet.  No matter, I just got busy with processing photos and such.  By 9:15 I though I should call my cousin Mike Sciolaro just to make sure they had picked her up for the dance event and that she wasn't missing.  I called and got Leslie who confirmed that they had Mom and also that they were having a great time back at their house.  They all showed up at Mom's a bit later and we all got to visit.  Leslie along with their son Kyle had performed in the event.  It is good that they include their Aunt Ruth since it is something she really enjoys and is so different from her usual routine.  Next visit, I resolve to spend more time with Mike and Leslie and get to see their "second home."

You can see more photos at the updated Kansas City album.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Trip to Kansas City December 2012 - Day Three

My day began with Peter, my brother-in-law.  After some delays, we met up at First Watch Cafe in Prairie Village.  While I waited for him, I had a nice long conversation with my son Brendan who was celebrating his fortieth birthday.  the conversation was by phone with him in his home in Aurora IL.  after breakfast, Peter and I went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum to visit a show of the work of photographer Terry Evans.  She is a preeminent landscape photographer who grew up here and whose work captures the look and feel of the prairie.  The exhibit--Heartland: The Photography of Terry Evans--is a superb display of both photography and the lives of people in the Midwest prairie.  The photograph to the left is not of one of her pieces -photography is allowed throughout the museum except for the featured show and the Picasso room--but it reminded me a lot of the work of my son Galen with origami.

I left Peter to go through the rest of the exhibit because I was meeting my sister Louisa for lunch on the Plaza.  We had a leisurely meal at Brio's on the Plaza and I got caught up on her health situation and her family.  They are doing well and she is doing better although the doctors  cannot pinpoint the source of a recurring fever.  She is in good spirits nonetheless.

From there I went by the Holly, Holly, Holly Days  Christmas Craft Sale.  She has been in this show for several years and has always done very well as is true this year too.  I spent about an hour with her and met some of her friends and regular customers.  This has been a hectic year so she is showing very little ceramic work but has really gotten into origami stars of various designs and cat purses.  I will be going back tomorrow to help her close up and then have dinner with her and Bob.

You can see more of photos in the updated Picasa album of this Kansas City trip.

I then spent the early evening on the Country Club Plaza taking photographs as the sun set.  The weather was very pleasant; it had gotten well into the sixties during the day.  There were crowds everywhere enjoying the carriage rides, the restaurants  and the dramatic lighting that takes place every year from Thanksgiving through the Christmas Season.  I took a number of images, many of which were multiple exposure compensations which I will process into high dynamic range photos.  The one to the left is one of those that I have already processed.

You can see more photos of the Plaza by viewing the Plaza Picasa album.  Below is a video pan as I began my visit to the Plaza.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Trip to Kansas City December 2012 - Day Two

First off, the mystery of the universal remote has been solved. It was not so much that my brother Terry withdrew the remote from active service a la casa de mama but that he forget to take the written instructions as well. Thus, she was tying to use those instructions with the television remote. Not so much. My niece, Kate, confirmed what I suspected and now the instructions are history. Still, there is the matter of actually pressing the right buttons while pointing the television remote at the television!

I met Anola for coffee at Homer's Coffee Shop, near her house and thus near Grand Court. Peter joined us for a bit as well. She told me that she had just had a story published in a new anthology, pictured at left. Not Your Mother's Book: On Being a Stupid Kid is a wonderful collection of stories from many people about the funny and often stupid things that happened to them as children. Her story is "The B....... Word" and is a true account--almost--of her experience in the fifth grade at St. James School. Mom plays a key role in it and when I read it to her she actually remembered the incident. Actually it led her to take herself down the block to the school to tell Sr. Whatshername that she wasn't sending her children to Catholic school to have such words enter their innocent little heads. It is a funny story and there are many others including one about naming a pagan baby! Well worth the $13 hard copy or $9 Kindle edition. Anola will be on television talking about the book in a couple of weeks.

The first night at dinner and then twice on Friday I bumped into Beech Tuckness. He was a coach and physical education teacher at Rockhurst High School when I was a student there. He retired from Rockhurst. Now he and his wife Jean are residents of Grand Court where Mom lives. I know he doesn't look old enough but he is. He was the only teacher who showed up at our 50th high school reunion and he looked younger than the majority of the class. He still enjoys football, but especially high school football. He attends Rockhurst games when possible. He told me that the high school has three full freshman football teams with separate coaching staffs and full schedules along with two sophomore teams also with separate coaching staffs and schedules. No wonder, the varsity tends to dominate its competition.

We ended the day with dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, Mom's favorite place to eat. Mary and Louisa were busy setting up Mary's booth at the holiday craft show this weekend but Kate and Ryan were able to join us. We even had a chance to say hello to Alex, the young man adopted from Russia whom we met in October. Kate and her Mommer had a great time.
We made it home in time for Blue Bloods, one of Mom's favorite shows. She says that Tom Selleck looks like my brother Tom although none of us can see it.

You can see more photos in the updated Kansas City album on Picasa.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, November 30, 2012

Trip to Kansas City December 2012 - Day One

Holiday decorations at American terminal in O'Hare
It has been my practice for the past several years to travel to Kansas City between Thanksgiving and Christmas to visit Mom and my three sisters.  All my flights were on time and pleasant.  going through O'Hare on a Thursday was just pleasantly crowded rather than hectic and jammed as would be the case on a Friday or Monday.  Fortunately I am returning on Tuesday.

I got to Grand Court in time to have dinner with Mom in the dining room and has a nice visit with Mary, Nadine, and Rose (a new Rose, not the one who is often there.)  They had apple pie with ice cream for dessert.  They must have known I was coming!

My brother Tom had gotten together an album of pictures from Mom's 100th birthday celebration this summer and had sent it to me to bring along on my trip.  After dinner, I opened it and we both had fun looking through the pictures.  He did a great job of selecting from the hundreds of photos that we had all taken and provided to him.

After that, we began an adventure with the television remote.  Terry has set her up with a universal remote with an easy display and simple instructions.  If we could only find it, we would be in business.  We could not, however, and so made do with the television remote.  I am not totally confident that it has been misplaced as much as intentionally hidden so she doesn't have to use it.  I will conduct a thorough search on Friday and see what turns up.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trip to Charlotte - Day Four

I flew home Monday and thought i was pretty smart getting a flight out of Charlotte to Chicago and then on to Rochester arriving before 4:00.  And I think I was but from the time I got home things went down hill.

The weather was beginning to deteriorate but wasn't terrible yet.  We were the lead volunteers for a homeless dinner at the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN.)  We got going a bit late to get down to the Universalist-Unitarian Church downtown, our partner in this.  We had to stop at the grocery store on the way down to get a packet of cole slaw dressing to go with the ham dinner.  In the rush to do that and exchanging credit cards, my card was lost somewhere in or near the store.  We didn't realize that until we pulled up at the church and then we already late to get dinner on the table for the guests.

We called the store and they couldn't find it but would keep an eye out.  Once we had dinner ready, I left to drive back to see if I could find the card in the parking lot.  If it had fallen there, the 30 mile per hour winds gusting above that would have carried it somewhere else.  So I called Capital One and requested a new account after verifying that our purchase was the last one on the card.  In a couple of days, we will get our new cards.  Bummer.

However, fate was not done with us.  We got home through the worsening weather.  I causally went down stairs to check on the computer there and saw my lifelong nemesis:  WATER COMING THROUGH THE BASEMENT WALL.  We cut away the insulation to find the leak and found that it was coming from a crack that had been repaired almost seven years ago.  After several futile attempts, I stayed at home to mop up and Marilyn went to The Home Depot.  She came back with a product that could be applied to an active leak.  I tried to apply it but not very successfully.  It had to be exactly the right consistency. Marilyn took over and in time we got it mostly stopped.  I meanwhile continued to mop  up.

A little after 11, we decided we had done all we could and were too tired to do more.  We turned on the television as we got into bed to get caught up on the storm.  At 11:23 we lost power.  It is now Tuesday, the next day, around 5:20 pm and I am at the local Starbuck's charging our devices and checking email because our power is not back on.  There are approximately 130,000 people without power in Monroe County.  It is our bad luck to be in a group of 21 impacted by a single problem, whatever that is.  Our neighbors across the street have power and we have shifted some frozen items over there.  As of five minutes ago, Rochester Gas & Electric had no "restoration estimate."

All is not lost.  We are going to dinner at new Greek restaurant on Jefferson Rd, Opa!  The gas fireplace works and so we will be comfortable.  By the way, the problem with the water in the basement came from rain and wind coming from the north and northeast, an unusual direction for us.  That side of the house has flower beds that appear to be more mounded than flat and so trapping the unusual moisture between the mound and the house.  Water pressure will always find a way...particularly if I persist in doing dumb things.

Trip to Charlotte - Day Three

Aidan and Marin look over the slim pickin's
Sunday was my third and final full day in Charlotte.  There were no grandchildren to watch in soccer or football.  We decided to take a trip to a pumpkin patch to have fun and get some pumpkins.  Some years ago we had gone to a nice place in South Carolina that had plenty of pumpkins and fun things to do for and with the kids.  This time we tried a place much closer to home but found it pretty disappointing.  However we did find some fun games that were new to the Xbox generation.  The video below shows Aidan and Liam Jacob trying their hand at tetherball, a staple of schoolyards in their father's day.

You can see more photos on the Pumpkin Patch album on Picasa.

Eibhlin, Marin, Liam, and Aidan
We gave up the search for pumpkins--Liam later found those bargains at Aldi's--and pulled into the local SmashBurgers for lunch on Grandaddy.  After watching the KC Chiefs embarrass themselves and the entire Midwest with a woeful performance at Arrowhead Stadium, I got some photos of the kids.  Marcie wanted me to get some so she would have some recent ones for her office.  Liam has a new home office and needs some wall decorations as well.  Of course, I was happy to do it so I would have some nice shots for the wall at 47 Charissa Run.  Great looking bunch!

Take a look at the individual photos in the Picasa album.

Up early in the morning for the trip back into the storm.