Next Stop Milwaukee, Hopefully

There is no Marcus Welby medical care in America. It’s sad for patients. It’s sad for docs too. Lots of physicians want to do medicine that way, but it’s not practical in the 21st Century.

harold-and-bettyWe’re attempting our Milwaukee trip again. We leave from LAX this time (drive 40 miles save 50%), but again change in Phoenix. Please, no more shootouts/car chases from Tempe!

Lots of folks wrote me after I mentioned my mom in the blog. There were lots of suggestions, all different, some mutually exclusive. Still, the one thing that everyone seemed to agree on was being an advocate for mom.

That’s a nice way of saying keep an eye on the nursing facility.

There is no Marcus Welby medical care in America. It’s sad for patients. It’s sad for docs too. Lots of physicians want to do medicine that way, but it’s not practical in the 21st Century.

There was a meeting this afternoon at my mom’s current facility. Social worker, nurse, speech therapist, my dad, sister and brother-in-law plus me on the phone.

The physical therapist was a no-show. As explained, this person with the most insight to help us answer questions left work early. FML! Trudi and Jeff were justifiably furious.

As best I can tell my mom is making some progress. None of this comes easy or without effort and pain. She is frail. I can’t put myself in her shoes. We’re hoping she can reach the benchmarks that have been set.

roxie floorStef, who’s coming, drove down from H’wood with Roxie. Roxie and Doppler will be watched by Dop’s sitter who Roxie met today for the first time.

In the past Stef told me how Roxie responds as they exit the freeway. It’s a romantic story where Roxie basically comes to attention as they pull down the exit ramp to the light. She stays on guard for the next 5-6 minutes to our house.

On the way back today, in my car, I watched Roxie stand at attention as we passed that same spot! Crazy. Totally different experience, different car and length of trip. She still knew.

wpid-wp-1411080785006.jpegOf course there’s also good news in our trip. We’re lodging with my niece Melissa, her husband Mark and Charlotte who has promised to stay tiny for us, though the shot on the left now qualifies for “file photo” status.

Two full days on the ground. We’ll be busy

Disney Day

IMG_6343all of us

Trudi and Jeff, my sister and brother-in-law are visiting from Wisconsin. We’re trying to show them a good time. It seems to be working!

We went to Disneyland today. It’s a school holiday in many cities and the park was jammed.

We did a lot of walking in both the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s California Adventure. It’s as much fun to walk around and look at people as it is to ride rides… well, almost. Every shape, size, shade of person was represented.

We saw the Captain Eo Tribute. The color is washed out. The film techniques look dated. Time to ditch it.

Jeff and I discussed the amazing cleanliness of the parks. There was nothing on the pavement. The place is spotless.

We came home and had dinner out with the Irvine Foxes.

It good to get the family together. It doesn’t happen often enough.

My Favorite Spot

If there’s a story behind the name “Jepps”, it’s well hidden. The only mention of Jepps Brook on Google comes from me. And I only know about the name because a few maps include it. It is close to being geographically anonymous.

As long as I had the video camera out yesterday, I thought I’d stop at my favorite spot. Only a few hundred yards from where I live, the road crosses over a small brook – Jepps Brook.

This tiny stream flows year round, though it gets very weak in the summer. Even though It is incredibly quick to respond to rain, I’ve never seen it out of its banks threatening anyone. In that sense, it’s a good neighbor.

It flows through backyards in the ‘burbs now, though that wasn’t always the case. A mill house at the end of a small pond is now a residence. A spillway father down stream was probably once used for power as well.

If there’s a story behind the name “Jepps”, it’s well hidden. The only mention of Jepps Brook on Google comes from me. And I only know about the name because a few maps include it. It is close to being geographically anonymous.

I have driven by this spot every day for sixteen years. Most days I stop. It’s a view I’ll never tire of. It is the antithesis of where I grew up.

Here’s about thirty seconds of Jepps Brook. Wish you were here.

Blogger’s addendum:

May 10, 2008, I received this addition for this entry from Walt Harris. Walt’s family goes way back in Hamden.


Regarding the mystery surrounding the name Jepps Brook (your blog entry “My Favorite Spot”, May 13, 2007): The name Jepps stems from the nickname of Judson Warner, an early 19th century owner of the land surrounding Jepps Pond.

According to my grandfather, B.M. Harris, in Some Early Mills of Hamden, read to the Hamden Historical Society in 1936, “it was Justus Warner’s nickname of Jep that was given to the four-acre pond that was used for storage water between the Bradley and Chatterton mills.” (Handwritten edits change “Jeff” to “Jep”, and “farm” to “pond”.)

The Chatteron mill, the house shown at the beginning of your video, was owned by my grandparents and is now owned by the Cavanaughs I believe (Yes – GF). The Bradley mill location is at the intersection of Still Hill Road (the mill was a distillery) and River Road, and is now under study by state archaeologists.


Walt Harris

Poker Night With The Boys

With Helaine gone, and me alone, it was the perfect night to have some friends over to play poker. They were scheduled to arrive at 7:00pm. I had six here by 6:45pm.

First, it’s nice to entertain. When I lived in Philadelphia as a bachelor, I did everything humanly possible to keep friends from my place. I’m a little more prepared now. Helaine may be away, but her influence is here.

This was an eclectic group of ten. There were Jeff, Matt and Erik from work, Tim and Steve who went to high school with Erik, Woody, Rick, Dennis and Ashley who drove in from Boston.

Ashley actually writes about poker for a few magazines. In a good and just world, he won’t write about my bad play… or bad hosting. If there are points to be made from what he experienced, he’ll make them gently.

There was beer and soda and snacks and lots of good conversation. At its essence, poker at home is really about conversation. Card playing is secondary.

On The Floor At Midway

Before the entry, two quick notes:

1) The marble floor at Midway, though functional, is incredibly uncomfortable for sitting. As with most airports, the only power outlets are away from the sitting area and not really meant for passengers.

2) The 8:00 PM non-stop to Bradley International will be at least 1:25 late… at least. Helaine and Stef confirm, after a walk down the concourse, some flights are delayed with not time listed. Others have been canceled outright. Gotta love Chicago. O’Hare is no better.

OK – where were we? We spent the night in the motel in Mequon. We were leaving this morning while my parents were moving in with my sister and family for a few days.

Since we had a car, we volunteered to drop them off. Of course we never thought there wasn’t enough room in the La Cross to do that!

With a little rejiggering and bags on each lap, we were able to make it the few miles to Trudi and Jeff’s house. My guess is, we were at least 200 pounds over the La Cross’ design limits. Luckily, no potholes.

We left Mequon and turned south toward Milwaukee. Helaine had stayed at the Pfister and Steffie wanted to see it.

The Pfister is a very old, nicely maintained hotel. The lobby strikes me as what you’d find in San Francisco during the Victorian era. We had a nice lunch in the coffee shop.

Downtown Milwaukee seemed past its prime. There was little traffic and lots of older, ‘short’ buildings. In a vigorous downtown, height would have swept these old buildings away.

The attendant at the parking lot told us all the entrances to the southbound Interstate were closed! There was a roundabout way to get there, which he proceeded to describe.

Amazingly enough, it worked. Before long we were on our way south of I-94 East. If I-94 really went east, we’d be in Lake Michigan, a few hundred yards away. We’ve got the same problem in Connecticut with I-95 North, which runs east.

There was too much time to head directly to Midway, so we stopped in Pleasant Prairie at the Jelly Belly factory. It is located across the way from the Dyslexic Institutes of America (there is more than one I guess).

You would probably be surprised at the crowd, waiting for the free tour. We were! The wait was around 45 minutes before we piled into our faux train for a trip around the factory’s outer wall.

It was nice, but it would have been nicer if we had actually seen them making candy. Everything we saw (other than boxes and older outmoded equipment) was on video.

We took our free samples, spent a few bucks in the company store and headed south, again.

Have you ever driven in Chicago traffic? Holy crap – this was awful. Maybe worse than awful. And, I’ve been told it’s always like this. Yikes!

We went by Downtown. There’s a lot of distinctive architecture there, including the Sears Tower, but my best ‘sighting’ were the apartment buildings pictured on the opening of the old Bob Newhart Show!

They’re still posting 9:20 PM for our flight. It’s going to be a l-o-n-g day… and they still might change our gate as I’ve heard them do to a handful of others.

Blogger’s note: The past few entries have been posted without photos, because it’s a hassle to do when you’re on the road. I’ll add them later.

Jessie Gets Married

Jessie is the daughter of my sister Trudi and her husband, Jeff. She was my parent’s first grandchild. She was Jeff’s parents first grandchild. Today, she was the first of her generation to get married.

We came to Milwaukee early, because the festivities began early. Last night we headed to the Volleydome!

Evan’s parents (he being the boy Jessie’s marrying) threw a little bash with food and volleyball. It started at 6:00 PM.

If you’ve never been to a Volleydome, it’s a large prefab building with a floor covered in sand. It is the best way for Wisconsoners (is it Wisconsinites – who knows?) to play beach volleyball without moving to Laguna Beach.

Neither Helaine nor Stef wanted to play. I entertained the idea, but just thinking about it was enough for me to pull something. I passed.

Everyone had a good time. Beyond that, I got to meet Uncle Murray’s girlfriend, Lilly.

The idea of my nearly 80 year old uncle having a girlfriend was a little foreign at first. We just don’t grow up think of seniors dating. But why not? And, she’s very nice and, obviously, very good for Murray.

Since I wasn’t playing volleyball, I brought along my camera, and clicked away. If it moved… and quite possibly if it didn’t, I clicked the shutter to capture what I saw.

A few months ago I bid and bought a monopod on EBay. This was my first opportunity to try it out. Unlike a tripod, a monopod easily goes from place-to-place. Of course, just one leg doesn’t provide the same stability, but it definitely allows you to shoot usable photos with slower shutter speeds. In a poorly lit Volleydome, that meant getting shots which would have been otherwise unobtainable.

The wedding was early Sunday afternoon. My sister had asked if I’d be an usher (well established as the pivotal wedding position), so I was in my tuxedo and at the Synagogue by 10:30 AM.

All brides are beautiful and Jessie was no exception. Her gown had a very long train. Jessie cried through much of the ceremony, as did Helaine, sitting to my right.

Helaine and I are easy touches when it comes to crying. Both of us have cried at particularly poignant commercials.

You’ll notice I’m not mentioning Evan much. Groom’s are necessary, though on the wedding day, they’re more ceremonial than important. This is the bride’s day, plain and simple.

Later, Evan will learn a ‘gift for the two of you’ is actually for her. Marriage has lots of guy benefits, so we let this small stuff slide.

We retreated to the Mequon Country Club for the reception. Very nice, again, and I was shooting up a storm. By the end of the day, I’d taken nearly 300 additional photos – a full 2 Gigabyte Flash Card! What’s gotten into me?

During the reception, my dad told me he didn’t remember his wedding reception at all. I remember Helaine and mine. It was a great party.

We had French service, which drove us both a little crazy. Every time you stood up, someone would come and refold your napkin. If your drink was down a smidge, a waiter would get you a new one. I don’t want anyone concentrating on me quite that much.

We hardly saw each that night. That made this wedding reception a whole lot better in the ‘company you keep’ department.

Happy Birthday Harold – Hope You Can Join Us

Next week is a milestone for my dad. He will be 80. This is not a number to take lightly.

I’ve asked him in the past to contrast his age with his expectations of what that age was going to be like. He couldn’t. Long ago he passed any age he had expected to see.

This is not to say my father thought he’d be gone by now. It’s just no one thinks of what life will be like at 80… until you’re late into your 79th year.

I think I speak for him when I say, these are the best times of his life. He and my mom live a wonderful life in Florida. Their condo complex is socially active, which suits them fine.

My mom has become more active in governing the condo complex, something I never would have expected. My dad has become a computer maven to his fellow senior citizens who see him as a latter day Bill Gates.

So, what do you do for an 80th birthday? My folks thought it would be fun to take Helaine and me, along with my sister Trudi and brother-in-law Jeff, to Las Vegas for a family oriented celebration. My cousins Michael and Melissa will be joining us.

What says happy birthday more than Las Vegas?

My folks don’t gamble, but they are great explorers. Vegas has so much to explore. We plan on seeing some excellent shows, taking in the sights and eating as if cholesterol hadn’t been discovered. I will also attempt to play poker 23 hours a day or until I can no longer afford Steffie’s college tuition.

My folks are due to leave Florida Tuesday. Well, they are now. I suppose it’s all Hurricane Wilma dependent.

If you look at the tracking maps, the current projections bring Wilma right over their place. It’s not a reassuring outlook. The one saving grace is, Wilma won’t be a particularly strong hurricane by then.

Earlier today I asked if they would call the airline, AirTran, and see if they could move their flight. Lots of other airlines were accommodating passengers in this manner. not AirTran… or at least not in a way that was meaningful.

My Day of Kayaking

As anticipated, 8:30 AM came very quickly. Hey, to me that’s the middle of the night. A little procrastination with the bedroom TV, and then I was in the shower getting ready. I was actually running on time!

The plan was to meet at my friend Kevin’s house, in Cheshire at 10:00 AM. Kevin had invited me, his boss Scott and his daughter, plus a friend, Jeff.

It was beautiful. A little on the humid side, but with a pure blue sky. I had the top down and the radio up. As I turned from N. Brooksvale to Mountain Rd, a bicyclist came the other way. He was dressed in a loud, skin tight biking suit. But, he had the best advice of the day, “Cops ahead.”

The speed limit on Mountain is 25 mph – an unattainable goal, even if you know there are police lurking. I did about 30. As I passed the patrol car, the policeman turned his head and looked at me. No one does 30 without being tipped off! I’m sure he knew.

Kevin has a small trailer. He lashed the kayaks to it, and we were off. We went up I-84 to Waterbury and then north on Route 8 into the Southern Litchfield Hills. It didn’t take long to get to the White Memorial Foundation – hundreds of acres of nature preserve.

If the White Memorial Foundation sounds familiar, it should. It’s where Connecticut’s Governor Rowland has a small cottage, which had a hot tub, which is all swirled within the specter of corruption charges.

Scott checked the water temperature as we brought the boats down to the Bantam River. His thermometer read 70&#176, though we would later all agree it was probably in the 60’s farther from shore.

If I had been in a kayak before, it was a long time ago. I rocked a little from side to side as I set out. Last night, at the station, our director Tracey had admonished me to push, not pull when paddling. Otherwise, she said, I’d get very sore.

Easier said than done, but I tried.

The Bantam River is small and gently flowing in this part of Litchfield County. We headed to the right, against the minuscule current. A light breeze was at our back.

You actually wouldn’t know there was a current on this river except for the beaver dams. I had heard and read about beaver dams for years, but had never really experienced them. From bank to bank, a pile of twigs, branches and mud choked the flow. We found weak spots and paddled over… though I got caught a little more than once.

The kayak handled really easily and it didn’t take me long to get into the rhythm. Inertia is an important part of kayaking. When you stop paddling, the kayak continues… in my case it often kept going until it hit another kayak!

The White Memorial Foundation land is a protected habitat for all sorts of wildlife. We saw birds, including a few hawks and beautiful red winged blackbirds. A duck, probably protecting a nearby nest, let me get pretty close without flinching. I turned back, not wanting to upset him. There were turtles too, including one who seemed to be stretching out as if he were sunning himself on a Caribbean vacation.

After a mile or so (Kevin had a GPS receiver capable of plotting our course) we came to some beaver dams too high to paddle over. So, we just turned around and went back down river.

The river wasn’t crowded, but it wasn’t empty either. A while later we ran into an older husband and wife, and their dog Coco. The dog was sitting comfortably in a wicker basket lashed to the front of one of their kayaks. Coco started kayaking at 3 months and wouldn’t even think of staying on shore now.

My five hours of sleep and the gentle rocking of the kayak was starting to catch up with me. I asked if it would be OK for us to end it here – and we did.

I hadn’t flipped the kayak. I hadn’t really gotten sick. I hadn’t put anyone else in mortal danger by doing something stupid. The trip was a success.

I’m hoping to go with Kevin again. Next time, with a little Dramamine, I’d like to try the Thimble Islands, off the Branford coast, in Long Island Sound.

The Average Blog Isn’t There Anymore

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a few days, but it wasn’t until my friend Jeff sent me an AP wire story that I felt the need.

Despite the Internet’s ability to deliver information quickly and

frequently, the World Wide Web is littered with deadwood _ sites

abandoned and woefully out of date.

One study of 3,634 blogs found that two-thirds had not been updated

for at least two months and a quarter not since Day One.

“Some would say, `I’m going to be too busy but I’ll get back to it,’

but never did,” said Jeffrey Henning, chief technology officer with

Perseus Development Corp., the research company that did the study.

“Most just kind of stopped.”

Even with all those MIA blogs, there are still plenty. A high mortality rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing here.

Since this blog began on July 4, 2003, I have been trying to write something at least once a day. Often, that’s tough. The day is beautiful, everything goes well – what’s to write? Or, I am bothered, but it’s a family matter or something at work I’d rather not make public. Because I work in a newsroom, I try not to take political sides or favor one group in a controversial issue.

Here’s what I’ve learned. I’m enjoying writing. There’s a certain elegance to written text that isn’t there with spoken English. I edit everything I write… and then reedit.

If an entry is important or pithy, it upsets me when it scrolls off my home page after a week.

Often, photos are the catalyst for writing something. I have taken over 4,000 photos with my Fuji S602Z. I am a better shooter than when I began, but still have a lot to learn. It amazes me that I make simple foolish errors while shooting and don’t notice them until it’s too late. Good photography is a lot more complex than it would seem.

It would be fun for this blog to continue forever. I hope I stay focused.