Lonna and I were awakened at 3:30am on Saturday, March 18th, to learn that her mother, Jean Blasi, passed in her sleep. The memorial service was held off until May 19th so that family members from all over the country could attend. Lonna has now lost both of her parents which is never easy when you've been the caregiver for both for nearly 15 years.
Lonna continues her work at Greenleaf Job Training Services as the Director of Business Development. She has been there over 11 years.
Jean Blasi was an energetic mother and wife, always wanting the best of everything for her family. She was extremely generous with birthday and Christmas gifts. Her children (4 + 4 spouses), grandchildren (9) and great grandchildren (7) always looked forward to large gatherings because Jean went out of her way to make them festive. She enjoyed DQ soft ice cream, looking at Christmas lights in the neighborhood and going on vacation to see family in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New Jersey, North Carolina and California. She especially enjoyed trips to the family's cabin in LaPorte, PA. Below is a picture of her on her 91st Birthday, which was four days before she passed.
There are a couple of different videos. This one is a traditional video honoring Jean (which has been temporarily blocked by Warner Music Group. I have asked permission from them to use the music that is in the video but have not heard back yet.) and this one is a video of the gathering back at the Blasi home after the memorial on May 19th.
ADAM, TALYA, VIENNA & CAMERON
A TRIP TO COLUMBUS
In March, Adam brought the whole family to Columbus. The trip served a dual purpose:
First, this was the first time Cameron was on a plane and this was his first visit to Columbus. We had a great time with everyone. And one more first for Cam - he got to meet his great grandfather.
Second, the Time Machine was brought to Columbus for a huge rebuild to make it the Fastest Delorean in the World. Adam's brother, Kenny, and the shop he works for, were also involved. The entire story is going to be part of a film documentary being released in 2018 so I don't want to be part of a spoiler alert on how the story ends. I will say the project took much more time and money than was anticipated, so there is plenty of drama.
The car did make it's rounds in Columbus. It was in the St. Patrick's Day parade, The Laughing Ogre and visited several family members homes, including ours, which showed Lonna and I first hand, how much attention it draws. When it was parked in our driveway one evening for just a few minutes, one of our neighbors and her visiting son, saw the car, and started shooting pictures. They were stunned that the Time Machine from Back to the Future was acutally in our neighborhood.
And one more...
TWICE IN THREE MONTHS
On a nine day trip to California in June, Lonna and I saw Adam, Talya, Vienna and Cameron for a few days at the beginning and the end of the trip. The other days were spent with Lonna's brother and his family, but more on that later.
We watched Cameron and Vienna at gymnastics, enjoyed the park, swimming and lots of great food with the entire family.
Lonna experienced Golfkon for the first time. Because it was at night, we used glow-in-the-dark golf balls. She also had a chance to meet Adam's friend, Don Fullilove - Mayor Goldie Wilson in the movie Back to the Future. She had a great night on the course, even getting a hole-in-one and a fist-bump from Don!
Vienna enjoyed her fifth birthday on September 28th. Cameron enjoyed his fourth birthday on Christmas Day.
Kenny continues his work at Slow Motion Motor Sports in Sunbury, Ohio, as a fabricator and engine builder. He is dating Brooke Barnes, who lives in Zanesville, Ohio. She works at Titan Electrical Construction and Design in Lewis Center, Ohio, which makes for quite a drive each morning and afternoon. In addition, she has two young children - Aleena (age 5) and Grayson (age 4). They seem to have taken to Kenny with ease. He is very good with them.
Late in December, Lonna and I had an opportunity to meet Aleena and Grayson. Lonna was able to get a couple pictures, which was not easy considering they were going non-stop.
As I mentioned earlier, Dad is still getting around fairly well. He still drives, but only to places that are very close and that he is extremely familiar with. He does stay active, especially in the summer, when he can be outside planting vegetables and working in the yard. Below is a pic from January, celebrating his 86th birthday.
Bottom row: Jacob, Dad, Carly; Top row: Beth, David, Gracie
Dad had the opportunity to visit Greece again this summer, but this time, my brother David went with him. His grandson, (David's son), Billy, was already there.
A GRADUATION, 18TH BIRTHDAY & FATHER'S DAY IN CALIFORNIA
As was mentioned above, Lonna and I traveled to California to spend time with Adam, Talya and the grandkids in Sherman Oaks (North Hollywood).
We also traveled to Seal Beach (South of LA) to celebrate her niece's (Sara Rose) High School Graduation, her 18th Birthday and Father's Day with all of their family. I created a video of this part of the trip because I wanted to include some of Sara Rose's favorite music.
24 CHRISTMASES... BUT WHO'S COUNTING?
It's hard to believe I've been a part of this project for six years. The time has really flown by. At the risk of being redundant, I once again must give huge kudos to Joanne Blum and her husband, Joe Lambert. They have done a magnificent job with the First Saturday Chant, all the promotions, booking great featured artists from all over the country, and being such gracious hosts at the dinner / rehearsals each month. Below are some pics with these wonderful special guests:
With Karl Anthony
With Eddie Watkins, Jr.
With Jan Garrett & J D Martin
With Karen Drucker at our monthly dinner and rehearsal
In Spirit Ministries is a non-profit organization that is supported solely by donations.
I am now in my 5th year at Unity Church of Delaware, playing piano on the second Sunday of each month. Our minister is Joanne Blum, who delivers wonderful messages that are very helpful with everyday life.
Here I am accompanying Jessie Powers, special guest vocalist and songwriter. This photo was actually taken before the service started. I was playing some light piano music while people gathered and Jessie just jumped up and started singing improvisational lyrics that came to her in the moment. She is a great talent and alot of fun to work with.
Lonna made a new friend at Lowe's in October.
My friend and co-worker, Steve Reffitt, moved on from his position as Territory Manager with our company to a new position with AAA Ohio. I put together a brief video of his last day with us.
My corporate journey continues, having now completed ten years with the company in September. Last year, I mentioned that I might be retiring in 2019 but I am reconsidering my exit. Currently, I feel great, the work is not extremely stressful, and I feel that going another year might be in the picture. Fortunately, I do not have to make this decision for awhile. Earlier in the year, our communications department asked for a good picture of the building. What I didn't realize when I actually took the picture, was that my car could be seen in the parking lot.
MY PAST CATCHES UP WITH ME
For something different, our Senior VP / Regional Director decided it would be fun to have a food truck come to the office and treat everyone to lunch one day. He said he would like to support a business in the area and suggested I contact George's Coney Island for the event. Little did he know that George's is a family business that was co-owned by my family. He also learned that I was a manager of that business's second location in Northeast Columbus in the late 1980s. Everyone really enjoyed the food.
The company had an opportunity to have the management and staff photographed with the 2017 Columbus Crew SC Team Award Trophy in October.
We were also able to individually get our photo taken with the trophy.
The studio was not quite as busy this year, only handling a couple of medium sized projects and some personal videos for family and friends. For more on what Studio Artists is about, click here.
TEN YEARS AND COUNTING!
We celebrated our tenth year as a band on March 31st. We held a party at a local venue in New Albany, Ohio. There was beautiful cake, a large banner for attendees to sign, and of course pics of the band. A few former members were there as well as a former sound man. As the saying goes, "A great time was had by all!"
TGL INTERVIEWED ON "LOCAL LIX"
These Guys Live was asked to do a live interview on radio station WQTT-AM 1270 in Marysville, Ohio, with Pat McLoughlin. The interview took place in November of 2016, but did not air until early this year. Here are both the original interview and the bonus interview.
Later in the year, a book was published about "Local Lix" (the name for the interview series) and they highlighted the 1967 Battle of the Bands portion of the interview that I provided. I was flattered beyond words. Thanks, Pat!
(Click on the picture above for the TGL page of the book)
THESE GRANDPAS LIVE
Four members of TGL are grandfathers, so I would like to introduce the grandchildren of TGL.
I know this was mentioned in our Christmas Day video, but I wanted to say once again that our 14 year old cocker spaniel, Kelso, had to be laid to rest this year. It was certainly a sad day for Lonna and I, as well as anyone else who knew him.
WHY THE TITLE OF THE PAGE IS "FRAGILE"
The last few years have really shown me how fragile life is. And, now that I've touched on some of the happy and sad times that occured this year, I feel the need to express my concern about how the future of this country is fragile.
We elected a man to be our president who is no more qualified than I am to be president. He has illustrated this time and time again with such obviousness that it baffles me to hear his supporters simply gloss over all the dangerous situations he creates for this country.
This man mocks disabled people, spouts racism, advocates for war crimes, equates womens' worth with their appearance, taunts a dictator as if he was a bully in a schoolyard, places people in high govenmental positions who then are indicted, continually lies about current events and contradicts himself almost on a daily basis.
I have to ask those of you that support him: If you had a friend that behaved this way, would you not ask him/her to seek help based on this behavior? I ask this with all seriousness. Would you not suggest that he/she take a hard look at the chaos they've created, realizing that it is detrimental to this country and our relationships abroad, not to mention relationships with family members and friends? Would you not suggest that maybe he/she reconsider this "job", knowing that freedom is fragile and that continued attacks will only serve to undo all that the founders worked so hard to create.
Those who stand at the extreme of any ideology cannot govern. When given full control, they replace those who feel responsible for the country they were elected to serve, with those whose policies favor only their financiers, thus turning our democratic republic into an autocracy where the voices of the many are drowned out by a few people who have "purchased" these politicians to do their bidding.
And at the helm is a person who will say and do anything just to be the star of the show. He is not at all educated in this country's history or proper political edicate and policy. Truth-be-told, his ignorance plays right into the hands of the lawmakers that are moving us further away from the America that gave so much opportunity to millions of people from all over the globe.
Let's not forget that our press is under attack as well. There are good people who do their best every day to give us the truth but they are being undermined by the "fake news" noise coming from those who do not want you to know that truth. The facts are out there. A little due diligence goes a long way towards quieting the noise.
This is not about Democrats, Republicans or Independents. This is about the slow, methodical dismantling of all we hold dear in this country. Freedom of religion, of the press, due process, our right to have a firearm for protection (not for mass killings), governmental checks and balances, the general welfare of our people (rich and poor alike), and a military that is there to protect our country and our interests abroad.
We still have time to right this ship, but we must educate ourselves. It is up to each of us to be informed about all candidates and vote accordingly. There are still good people in politics. Seek to find these people and learn all you can about them.
As I stated above, freedom is fragile. But please know that we have all we need to move in a new direction and reverse this current trend.
We had family visit during Thanksgiving, but they did not come from across town. They came from Pennsylvania and North Carolina. And then, by surprise, from Tennessee.
WORDS ABOUT MONETARY WEALTH
FOR MY FELLOW "OLDER" MUSICIANS...
50 YEARS LATER...
Who would have thought that a battle of the bands from fifty years ago in 1967, would still be discussed as it was with the TGL interview released earlier this year (see above) and would be written about as well. The band I was in at the time, The Dubonnets, came in second place.
I took the lilberty of highlighting my quotes from the article, but the entire article is very well written.
A SMALL RANT
I'll start by saying am not a fan of Little Caesar's or Papa John's pizza. Both companies advertise heavily trying to convince us they have an excellent product. But quality food, like anything else, is expensive to create. Any company selling large pizzas for $7 to $9 is not using quality ingredients. But Papa John's goes beyond just lack of quality, their founder lacks good moral character as well. His only goal is more money for him. Period.
Maybe John Schnatter should read Steve Jobs' last words above...
We enjoyed very mild winters in 2016 and 2017.
Then, we were brought back to reality very early in 2018.
Not only was it cold, but our first snowfall of the year was in October!
At least we had a White Christmas for the first time in many years.
Lonna and I were "in for the night", watching TV and just relaxing. Lonna already had her pajamas on. The phone rings, it's an employee who needs help, so she gets dressed and leaves to go help. But she left her pajama bottoms on, only changing her top and grabbing her coat. She had no intentions of being seen, so she wasn't worried about it.
To be sure, Lonna is one of the safest and most cautious drivers I know, so when she returned home with a speeding warning, I'm sure I said, "Are you kidding me? You? Speeding?". So, just to be sure she never lives this down, here's the "warning". (Note: The officer who gave her the warning must have been distracted by her pajama bottoms because he marked her car as a two-door, when in fact it is a four-door.)
A BIONIC YEAR FOR WALKING AND SEEING
The first Friday in January will always be a significant day for me. On January 6, 2017, I had my left knee replaced. On January 5, 2018, I had my right knee replaced. Both knees had lost all their "bounce" over the last several years, but the left knee was more damaged than the right, so it went first.
For those who are familiar with x-rays, notice the bone-on-bone on the inside of both knees (circled). Also, notice the gap on the outside of both knees (left larger than right). This causes a bow-legged walk which, if not repaired, can cause pain in the hips and back.
The above are x-rays of the both knees post surgery. You can see the staples slightly, if you look closely. Notice how the legs are straightened in the process, thus relieving stress on the hips and back. Plus, I'm a little taller! Thank you Dr. Robie. You are an excellent surgeon!
As for seeing better, the pictures tell the story. The first is what the world looked like before my cataract surgery this fall, and the second is what it looks like now. That's all that needs to be said.
It is beyond me why anyone puts off having either of these surgeries. The results make your life so much better!
A note about knee surgeries: The success of any knee replacement surgery begins with a good surgeon, but does not end there. Once his/her work is done, the patient's work begins.
Physical Therapy for a knee replacement is extremely painful but absolutely necessary in order for a totally positive outcome. It is very difficult to work through the pain, but if a patient does not do this, he/she is likely to experience ongoing discomfort in the knee that cannot be remedied, no matter how good the surgeon.
MY DAILY REMINDER
This is posted on my bulletin board at work. The picture is TGL and was taken at Papa Boo's, Buckeye Lake, OH in 2016. The text I found online.
Koal will be leaving Lonna's grip in 5... 4... 3... 2...1....
I know. I know. Really cute, right?
Thanks for taking the time to read and watch my year end page.
Have a great 2018!