LONNA


Lonna experienced the loss of her father this year so this picture is a dedication to him. (More on all this later) Her mom, who will be 90 years old in March, is now living nearby in an assisted living facility. Needless to say, Lonna is still her primary caregiver. She also continues to work at Greenleaf JTS but as of October, she is now Director of Business Development.

 

 

ADAM, TALYA, VIENNA & CAMERON

 

I can't get over the gray in Adam's beard! Talya, on the other hand, does not look like she's aged a bit since the kids were born. Vienna and Cameron seem to be getting along much better, but God forbid Cam touches anything colored pink. It could be a space rocket, but if any part of it is pink, he is forbidden to play with it. (Vienna's rules). But now that Cam is walking (and running), he does not hesitate to let Vienna know how he feels about certain things - verbally and, on occasion, physically. Of course, there is always a quick reprimand from mom or dad when the latter happens, and a few minutes later, all is well.

 

Vienna enjoyed her third birthday on September 28th.

Cameron enjoyed his second birthday on Christmas Day.

 

A TIME MACHINE AT THE AIRPORT

I had the opportunity to go to North Hollywood twice this year. The first trip was at the end of April, where I was with the whole family for three days. I was picked up in the Back to the Future Delorean Time Machine, courtesy of RentTheDelorean.com. To say the least, this did not go unnoticed by people at the airport.

Adam, who owns RentTheDelorean.com, had an IBM corporate convention that hired the Delorean for two and a half days, in Anaheim, CA... at the Disneyland Hotel! In addition, the whole family came up and we enjoyed Disneyland for two days plus I saw how RentTheDelorean.com earns its money. My nephew, Jimmy, who works at Disney, was able to get us free passes to everything. What great fun this was. A short video by Adam captures the highlights.

The second trip was in mid-December, and was more the norm. The entire family picked me up at the airport because we were going to a park to see... snow. Yup. Snow. Apparently, the Recreation and Parks Department in L.A. creates snow every Christmas season with two areas for people to enjoy it. One is a small snow sliding area that older kids and adults can use and the other is just an area fenced in with snow for small kids to enjoy. Believe it or not, we waited nearly half an hour in line just for the kids (and Adam and Talya) to play in the snow for ten minutes.

Over the brief time I was there, we did the normal stuff: watched movies, played with toys, went out to dinner a couple of times, etc. I did get a chance to fly Adam's drone over the neighborhood, which was great fun! I can see me having one in retirement. Adam's video below is a brief summary that seems to capture the trip.

On the last full day, Adam, Cam and I went to the grocery store and picked up all the ingredients necessary to make Coney Island Sauce, straight from the recipe that I used back when I managed George's Coney Island in Columbus, OH. By 3:30pm, the house smelled like the restaurant! Adam even invited his good friend, Don Fullilove ("Mayor Goldie Wilson" from Back to the Future) over for coneys. When he walked in, he extended his hand and said, "You must be 'Papa K'!" I told him that I felt like I knew him from all the video Adam had of him during the Golfkon Tournaments and the Delorean events. He loved the coneys!

 

KENNY & AMY

Amy graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Cyber Forensics late this year and garnered a full time position with Interhack, where she started as an paid intern. Kenny continues to work at Slow Motion Motor Sports and is now responsible for over half of all the income for the shop with the work he's doing. Needless to say, his reputation for quality work and excellent results have made him nearly indispensible to the business. He is by far one of the best fabricators in the state and people bring their cars to him from as far away as North Carolina.

Lonna and I had Christmas dinner with them on December 11th so they could visit other family members on Christmas. Early into 2016, we learned that Kenny and Amy are amicably separating.

 

DAD

Dad now lives with my brother David, his wife Beth, and four of the six kids. (The other two are grown and living on their own.) He is happy to be living with family members rather than alone. He still gets around very well, and even drives a little, but not much. Here he is with the entire family on Thanksgiving Day.

Left to right: Meghan, their dog Zoey, Beth, Jacob, Nick, Carly, Billy, Gracie, their dog Maggie, David and Dad. Not pictured: Their dog Charlie and their cat, Frankie. Now THAT's a family!

 

COFFEE CAFE PERFORMANCE

Our Goddaughter really enjoys performing and this year she had a few opportunities to do just that at a local coffee shop. Here's just a little of what she sang on March 28th.

 

OVER FORTY YEARS

My younger brother Nick, and his wife Janey, have been married for over 40 years! When I think about that, it's almost impossible to believe, probably because my matrimonial track record is not that great. (Feel free to insert a joke here, honey.) They have two daughters, Andrea and Stephanie, and everyone lives here in town. We try to get together a few times a year for a meal and some great conversation. This pic is from August 8th.

 

CHRISTMAS ALL DAY

We started off Christmas Day with a toast.

 

We then visited with Lonna's mom.

We ended ended up at my brother David's house to celebrate Christmas with his family.

In between, I talked to my other brother, Nick; left a Merry Christmas message for my sister, Renée; and "FaceTimed" with Adam, Talya and the kids. All in all, a typical Christmas for Lonna and me.

 

 

 
 

I have completed my 4th year with the In Spirit Band and In Spirit Ministries. The time has just flown by. Part of the reason is that Joe and Joanne bring in very special guest artists to nearly every 1st Saturday Chant. Top-notch singer-songwriters and some Grammy Award winners such as Karen Drucker, Eddie Watkins, Jr., Claudia Carawan, David Roth among others. Here are some of the recent events. In Spirit Ministries is a music ministry so the chant is filled with great music and a short 2-3 minute meditation in the middle of the hour. The band consists of Joanne Blum, vocals and flute, Joe Lambert, vocals and guitar, Lynda McClannahan, vocals and piano, Ralph Leesburgh, vocals and guitar, Jim Fuller, vocals and bass, and yours truly on percussion. We perform the first Saturday of every month from 5:00pm to 6:00pm at the First Unitarian Church at 93 W. Weisheimer Road, Columbus, Ohio 43214. Stop in some time. You won't be disappointed!.

In Spirit Ministries is a non-profit organization that is supported solely by donations.

 

 

I continue to perform as the pianist once a month at the Unity Church of Delaware. This is my 3rd year with the church.

Much like the people who attend the 1st Saturday Chant, this congregation is very open and inviting. If you are seeking a truly spiritual environment without all the confines of organized Christendom, take a drive north to Unity. An article about the church and our Annual New Years' Eve service was featured in the Columbus Dispatch on Christmas Day. Click on the image below to read it.

 

 

These Guys Live guitarist and founding member, Mike Keller, and his wife, Kathleen, were having lunch at a local pub during an OSU Football game one afternoon about eight years ago. They were sitting at a 4-top table. In walked another couple to find no seating. Mike recognized them from the shows and asked them if they would like to join him and Kathleen since there were no other tables available. They became friends instantly and have been ever since.

Now, Jim and Debbie rarely miss a show. Furthermore, this is a couple that throws a party for the entire band, including our sound engineer, and their wives or significant others every summer. At Christmas, we receive wonderful gifts each year. Here's a sample:

The coffee table book is over the top! It includes pictures from various performances with captions and song titles. We are all so flattered. Thanks, Jim and Debbie. If we had a million fans like you, we really would be rock stars!!

 

I'm now in my 9th year at American Commerce Insurance Company, that markets its auto, home, life and travel policies under the brand name MAPFRE Insurance. The big news for MAPFRE this year is that the company purchased the naming rights for the Crew SC's soccer stadium.

I was fortunate enough to get a picture taken with two of the Crew SC's top players, Mohammed Saied (left) and Kei Kamara (right) at the grand opening of our Powell, OH branch office.

Since MAPFRE Insurance is a Spanish based company, it seemed only fitting that they would buy the naming rights to the very first soccer stadium in the United States.

The picture below was taken on December 21st, the day of our company Christmas party. The holiday tie I'm wearing is yet another gift from These Guys Live fans, Jim and Debbie.

In 2013, I was asked to handle agency appointments and licensing for one year. Well, one year turned into two and then into three. Finally, beginning in 2016, the appointment and licensing duties have been moved to our home office in Massachusetts, where all the rest of these duties for the entire country are now handled. I am shifting to a new role, working closely with our new Senior VP and Regional Manager on different projects designed to increase production in the region. I am looking forward to 2016 and beyond with a renewed enthusiasm.

 

 

Studio Artists continues to do well with small and medium projects. I invested in new industry-standard software for audio recordings, changing my studio lay-out completely. Here are before and after pics.

Now that everything is digital, there is no need for a large mixing board. With that out of the way, the room has opened up considerably. And, since I'm currently doing far more video production than audio recording, the layout works well for bringing clients to the room and working with them directly on their projects. In some ways though, I miss the "chaos" of the old layout.

 

TGL is now in its nineth year and continues performing 60-65 dates a year. We're having a great time and we intend to make 2016 even better than 2015.

I want to take a minute to introduce the 7th member of TGL - Ross Davis. He is our sound engineer and I can't begin to describe how important he has become to the band. His skills and knowledge as a sound man set him apart from anyone else we've ever used. He is full time with us and he also owns the recording studio where we rehearse. To say we're spoiled would be a huge understatement. He is starting his third year with the band. Ross is married and he and his wife, Deni, have two children, Alexandria ("Alex") and Jonathan. Oh yeah, and a dog.

In the summer, we do a lot of fairs and festivals, but the Hartford Fair in northern Ohio was a unique experience. We were the grandstand entertainment, but we couldn't set up until the horseshow was over. Then, with the timing and rhythm of a well rehearsed dance group, the crew working the grandstand brought up two flatbeds - one of which already had our PA system on it - and parked them one in front of the other, creating a nice sized stage. We were up and running in no time.

Who knows what new experiences the future holds? I guess we'll just keep playing and find out.

 

   
 

THE PRICE OF LOVE

Words fall short of describing Lou Blasi, Lonna's father. He was a kind, selfless, gentle man. He always greeted me with "Hey Mike!" and made me feel right at home and part of the family. He loved cooking. His pasta and meatballs were second-to-none and his egg nog was well… not your typical egg nog. Here he is making some for Christmas.

He and Jean raised a wonderful family of three daughters and one son, who have all followed in their footsteps, raising wonderful families of their own. He was a grandfather to eight and a great grandfather to five. Here's a quick video of him on his 91st birthday having a little fun with the Italian language.

Lou passed on June 30, 2015, just a little over two months after this video was taken. I've also included his memorial video for those who knew him and missed his memorial service.

"Grief never ends… but it changes. It's a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love." (Author unknown)

 
 

NEIGHBORHOOD MATRIARCH

Maxine Longshore and her husband Ralph purchased the third house to be built on the street where I grew up. They lived there all of their lives and raised a son name Keith. Nick and I were classmates with Keith through elementary, junior high (middle school) and high school. The house that Lonna and I currently own is the same one I grew up in and until this year, Maxine still lived across the street. Lonna and "Max" became very close friends from the time Lonna and I were first married. Max's generosity knew no boundaries. She baked goods for the entire neighborhood year-round, but at Christmas, she went all out, baking so much that we had goods well into the spring. She passed on October 11, 2015 in Florida at the age of 91.

 

  
 
 

A GREAT READ

In January 2014, when I was in LA visiting Adam, Talya, Vienna and Cameron, I finished the book I brought with me to read on the plane and in my hotel room in the evenings before bed. I mentioned to Adam that I needed to buy another book for the plane ride home. He said there was no need. He had one he knew I would like. And he was right!

 

WIFE HUMOR

Lonna is great at finding very unique cards for different occassions. Here's the birthday card she gave me for my 65th, which really made me laugh!

 

GOING WHERE I'VE NEVER GONE BEFORE

My Toyota Avalon hit another milestone in mileage this year on September 6th. I'm nearly at 200,000 miles as I write this portion of this year's page. Hopefully, I'll be able to get a picture of the odometer at that moment, because it's doubtful I will see 200,000 miles on my next car.

 

AGAIN, WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

In January 2015, gas prices hit a low of $1.69 a gallon. A remarkable turnaround from just a year before.

But January 2016 brought us even lower gas prices. I've owned my car for nearly 16 years and in all that time, gas prices have never been this low. This picture was taken on my way to work. When I left work that evening, the price had jumped to $1.79. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!

 

SURPRISE!

In the summer of 2013, These Guys Live was playing at a large outdoor venue in Marysville, Ohio, where Lonna's parents lived. She was able to bring them to the show. "Doc", our lead singer, saw them off to the side and while singing a song, jumped off stage, went straight over to Lonna's mom, and kissed her hand. She was SO flattered! This was the first and only time she ever laid eyes on Doc.

Move forward two years to this past summer. We were back at the same venue. Lonna and I arranged for Doc to make a surprise visit to her mom. He walked into the sunroom. She saw him, immediately recognized him - even after two years - and extended her hand to him like she had just seen him yesterday. What a great moment!

 

 

 

 

October 21, 2015 was dubbed "Future Day" by... just about everyone. Adam, who had the insight to start RentTheDelorean.com in 2014, was able to capitalize on this in a BIG way. Here's a great article written about the business. I "borrowed" the logo from the movie Back to the Future for the title of this year's page. Here's an interview that Adam did with me after I spent a couple of days with the time machine.

 
 
 

This year, we decided to video us trying to get a family portrait with the "kids." It never goes as planned, but it is always comical.

 
 
 
 
 
 

BFFs... and it only took a couple years.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read and watch my year end page.

Have a great 2016!