Thursday, December 28, 2006

Almost time for those New Year's resolutions...

Carol and I were joking the other day about making a new year's resolution that we meet more people with a villa in the country. We were watching "the Sound of Music" and thought how nice it would be to know someone with a house like the von Trapps. You know, a quaint, little, stone mansion surrounded by the Austrian Alps, or whatever mountain range runs through there. So if you are such a person, give me a holla'. We'll come visit. (Then again, we'll likely visit you anyway)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jeff's Gift

Here is the gift I made for Jeff. It is a quilt that tells the story of Jeff. Each white panel shows a significant part of Jeff's life: his birthday, a family photo, pictures of pets, cincy, Italy, etc. The black and red squares are made of 2 t shirts. The red one is his old Oak Hills cross country shirt that was too small for him so I acquired a few years back and the black shirt is from his UC gravity storm days. GS was the UC ultimate team he played with and I got a shirt as well. I chopped them up and put them in the quilt.

Another picture taken Christmas Eve. Jeff and Mother.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

The following is a shared recap of the holiday weekend, brought to you by Ovaltine.

Wow, what a weekend. Jeff came in from Italy and he's got a story of his own. Let's just say 2 delayed planes, 1 missed flight (from Rome to the US, no less) and lost luggage. It was not a great trip. But check out his blog for that story.

Our (Kent and Lori) calamities began on Saturday when I went to pick up my grandmother. On the way home, a ding went off in the car and some warning lights went on. For 1992, BMW sure had their sh*t together. This car practically talks to you. It has a screen that spells out what's wrong. Now my grandmother is 86 and I didn't want to worry her, but the car was overheating, the power steering went out, and something was up with the brakes. I did turn the heat on full blast to cool down the engine, and I knew it was mostly a straight shot back to the parents' house, so I thought if I could just make it for these last few miles, I'll be okay. The last mile is all up hill and around a few turns, but I figured by then I could call home if anything happened.

Well, I made it up the hills alright, although the temperature needle was in the red. I parked the car in the driveway and delivered the precious cargo. Then I told Kent the scenario. Not the best present I could give him, I'll tell you that. We looked at the engine, and the serpentine belt had broken and the car is leaking antifreeze. Kent made a diagnosis that the water pump is broken. Ideas storm through our heads about what to do next, but it's about 4:30 in the afternoon, and we have family coming over for an early Christmas party. After we call around and find out that Autozone is open on Sunday, we decide to enjoy the evening and tackle the issue later.

Yeah, what a drag. When Lori returned from picking up her grandmother, and gave me the bad news about the car, I started freaking out in my head...with many different thoughts. The realization that the car "broke down" on a Saturday, and that very few shops would be open Christmas Eve, was almost devastating. Likewise, I was looking forward to a nice, relaxing weekend with my in-laws. I also considered the challenges of acurately diagnosing the problem, finding the proper parts, removing the old-broken-down parts, and lastly fixing the car with new parts. Oh yeah, I was scheduled to work Christmas morning. I had volunteered to work Christmas day since I do not have my own children, and many of my colleagues do have kids of their own.

I examined the car, recalled a few stories horror stories from friends and family, deduced the situation and exclaimed, without hesitation...."I think that it neeeds a new water pump".

I managed to make a few phone calls and surprisingly enough, the local Autozone carried the part I needed. I put the item on hold for pickup on Sunday. Later that night, I called Autozone back to confirm that they had the part for my 1992 525i BMW. Slightly obsessive, I re-affirmed that that they were open on Sunday, and their exact hours. Lori says that I asked the store clerk the same question 9 times.

On sunday, Kent and my Dad went to Autozone, which I have to give a shameless plug to. Those guys are awesome. We've had trouble in the past and they freely give friendly advice and service. (They once changed a spark plug for my friends car when she blew it between Athens and Columbus.) So Kent gets the parts and he and Jeff begin to tear into the engine. I took one for the team and went to church with Mom. Kent can list the details of the car repair if he wants, but I will say that he did a great job. After Jeff figured out how the serpentine belt loops around everything (yeah for engineers!) the biggest hurdle was cleared. With the engine back together, we took it for a ride across the street in the new neighborhood. The needle quickly found the red so we drove back home. We checked the radiator and there was fluid in there which meant it wasn't in the engine. Kent opened the radiator cap and the car hiccupped and the fluid went into the engine. He poured more in and let drove it again. This time, the temperature needle stayed steady.

My patience tried, I knew that air gets into the coolant line and has to be "bled". This takes time, and can be a little annoying. The first time I discovered this was a little while back, when working on the car, and thinking that I was done filling the radiator with collant, I took off on my merry way. Rather quickly the temperature gauge shot up, (like Bill Clinton when Monica enters the room). After a hiccup or two, I figured out that the radiator was in need of more coolant. Seeing your needle on the red end of the gauge is scarry and not fun.

I knew what to expect this time and kept my happy face on. I was amped up as the process was coming to a close. Once I determined that the coolant level was safe, I grabbed the cell phone and went for a little spin on River Road / route US 50. I popped the speedo up to 70 mph with no hitches. Later that night I added a wee bit more coolant, and took Jeff on an errand to the airport. With all-systems ago, 85-90 mph was a walk in the park. (Dont tell my wife)

Today, Christmas day, we drove home with no problems. Looks like Kent diagnosed and repaired the problem. Maybe that will be his next career. After becoming mayor of course.

A vote for KENT is a vote for Lori.

LORI - Drink your ovaltine.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Yesterday I read an article in the new "body and soul" magazine about satisfaction. The author defined satisfaction as a deep yet simple contentedness. I tried to remember a few main points because I could relate it to my life right now and also something Jeff said in his blog a few days ago.
-Satisfaction comes when we connect with ourselves and our lives. -Valuing the journey is more satisfying than the finish line. -And fulfillment comes from the effort it took and the hard work to make it happen. It's been shown that the body produces dopamine when it is anticipating pleasure. This suggests the very thought of attaining a goal brings about a sense of joy.

This aritcle resonated whith me because this past week I have been making Jeff's christmas gift. Obviously I can't say what it is. But it's pretty involved for me and is using and abusing all my creative juices. But I've been having a blast doing it. I look forward to working on it every night. It's cool because I think about Jeff when I work on it and I feel like more love is being put into it. I think about (anticipate) his reaction and what he'll do with it etc. All the while creating that sense of joy.

This also leads me to Jeff's blog. He mentioned how shopping for gifts was pleasurable for him because he gets excited when he finds that perfect gift. He's also anticipating their reaction. All the while raising his dopamine levels. Good job Jeff. Maybe you should shop for me more often.

(After Christmas I'll put up a picture of the gift. Sorry I can't be more specific right now.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Hanukkah

Light the menorah, spin the dreidle, eat latkes. mmmmm latkes. Okay, so for the uninformed, latkes are fried potatoe pancakes. Basically. I don't mean to minimize them or anything. But anyway, I kept sampling the crumbs as we were making them today and of course the crumbs have the most grease in them. Plus I ate one (or two)full latkes, so now my belly is achey. uhhhhhh. I feel like Home Simpson after a good meal. mmmmm pork chops....

So today, was our holiday party. We sponsor the latke fry and community members bring dairy dishes. There are always tons of people which means tons of food. Kugel, blintzes (which I didn't get, I know how you feel Jeff, when you got shut out of the pucce), salmon and cream cheese and fresh bagel (which I didn't get either, dang.), and loads of other stuff. Then there is dessert. uuuuuugggghhh. I shouldn't really think about it too much.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Moving and Babies

We spent this past weekend in Cleveland helping the Butlers move (part way) into their new condo. Luckily for us they saved the heavy stuff for the paid help. (To be done tomorrow) We had good weather to move, sunny (surprising for Cleveland) and in the 40's. Dorothy and Ken and Bob helped also. We had a good flow going between the five of us. Moving boxes downstairs, arranging the loft upstairs. Dorothy and Ken made some really yummy food for lunch. (thanks a bunch for the potato soup and fresh rolls.)

On Sunday we made it a baby day by visiting some friends who have recent additions to their families. Both babies were adorable. The perfect age really. Not talking back yet or running around, trying to keep up with them.

Here's a picture of Kent and his Mom in front of their old house.

This is Evelyn Kate Campbell

And this is Kylie Isabell Klein. I thought Hazel came out with a head of hair, well this one takes the cake.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

new addition

As of 7:15ish EST on Sunday, December 10 I officially became an aunt. My brother, Keith, and his wife, Pam had their first child. A boy. 9lbs 9oz. (I'm learning that Gromen babies tend to be big. whoopie) Kyle Frederick Gromen. Kyle is my other brother's middle name (Jeffrey Kyle) and Frederick is our grandfather's name on my Dad's side. So this kid is a Gromen through and through. (good luck kid). I don't have any pictures yet, he's only a couple of hours old! But I'll get around to it some day.

Congratulations Keith and Pam. I can't wait to meet the new addition.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Decorating Carol's Tree

We went over to Carol's house on Sunday to help decorate her tree. Every year Carol gets a pine tree from her sister's property out in the country. It started out years ago as just being a branch they might find. Then it progressed to an actual tree, but very small and spindly. (Think Charlie Brown christmas tree.) This year the tree was so big, we had to cut 12-18 inches off so that it would fit in her house. It's still kind of spindly and bare, but that's why god made lights and ornaments. And besides, asymmetry and lopsidedness give the tree some character. After struggling to get the tree straight (sort of) and standing on its own (no strings attached) we put the lights on. We then adorned the tree with strands of popcorn and silver strings before hanging the ornaments. Carol has some classic ornaments, right out of the 60's. All are originals that she found at yard sales or Goodwill stores. All the hard work added up as the tree looked festive by nights end.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


This is a picture of the farmers' market in Brindisi from the trip two years ago. This is Cosimo's stand. He's on the left. Nice perspective Kent.

Here's another farmers' market shot. These guys are great!

This photo was sent to us by Marco "the russian" Russo. It was taken after the Italy-Germany game. (in which Italy prevailed, of course) Thanks Marco! This is a more recent photo.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tis the season...

To go shopping. Now, I'm not a huge shopper but it is that time of year. So, being the eco-conscious individual that I am, I am going to share with you a link to a green gift guide put out by one of my favorite blog sites (Number one on the list will always be me bro. But this is another regular of mine) check it out. is exactly what it sounds like. A source for articles about sustainability and eco-friendly issues throughout the world.

And since we are on the topic of gift giving. I am going to throw out my (read Lori) own "wish list" for those who desire to bestow me with a gift this season.

1. Nothing. I really don't "need" anything. I have a house over my head, food in the pantry and warm clothes.

So take the money and:
2. Give to your favorite charity. (or mine.

3. Take yourself for a walk. Even if it's cold as bloody h*ll. Do it a few times a week and I am sure you'll get use to it and start to like it. If the people I love are healthy and happy, that is the best gift you can give me.

So maybe you are like my mom and you want me to open up something on christmas morning. So here are a few consumables that I would like.

4. Fair trade chocolate. ummm chocolate. (Jeff is excluded because it might be hard to find this in Italy)

5. Anything under ten bucks that I don't have to dust.

6. Something handmade.

7. A family heirloom or treasure. I don't mind dusting it if it makes me think of people I cherish.

That's about it. If you've read this far, you must really like me. I like you too.

Kent's list:

Canon EOS 30D Digital Camera with 2 GB memory card and lens. So he can take pictures of people he loves.

New muffler for the green machine.

Addition on the house, with new master bedroom and bath.

A clean and organized garage. (could be a party in the making!!!)