At the end of August, Lonna's position was eliminated at Greenleaf JTS. Lonna chose to use her new found free time, not only looking for a new job, but to also start developing her "retirement business" as a DoTERRA Essential Oils Wellness Advocate. The job she was hoping for was ultimately given to someone else. But, after many weeks of interviews and researching companies, she received a call. That same job became available! She started working at OPENOnline December 10th as an Account Manager. Congratulations, honey!
ADAM, TALYA, VIENNA & CAMERON
Vienna turned 6 years old September 28th and Cameron turned 5 years old Christmas Day.
A CALIFORNIA BIRTHDAY
I traveled to North Hollywood in September and was able to attend Vienna's birthday party. As I quickly learned, birthday parties in California are like nothing I've ever experienced when I was growing up.
While I was there, Adam had an interview with Michael O'Keefe (Caddy Shack, Rosanne, Homeland, The Blacklist, Law & Order: SVU, etc) as part of a charity fundraising effort. Michael actually played the Caddy Shack hole on Golfkon, Adam’s mini golf course.
After the interview, Adam drove Michael back to the theatre where he needed to prepare for a play.
On the way, Michael offered Adam, Talya and me great seats to a stage show called “Sweat” where he played a major role as a bartender. It was excellent!
My nephew Jimmy came up from his home in Rancho Mission Viejo to be a part of Vienna's birthday and also to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes take on Penn State in a nail biter!
Some other pics from my visit:
Proud of her mom!
Just a little reluctant.
I think he knows what a selfie is...
Finally, both of them with Papou at the same time!
CALIFORNIA COMES TO COLUMBUS
The day after Christmas, Adam, Talya, Vienna and Cameron came to Columbus.
They stayed in our new Family Suite.
But in order to prepare the area for everyone, we had to make some changes. When we finished, the room looked like a dormitory.
The days were filled with activities and visits with family. Speaking of activites, on the night of their arrival, Vienna and Cameron found a way to make the steps to the Family Suite an activity. It appears they don't see many staircases in California.
On the first full day, we visited Lego Land.
The next day, we visited COSI.
Lonna and I left earlier than Adam, Talya and the kids because we both had some things to do. That evening, "Mom and Dad" went to dinner to celebrate their 7th Wedding Anniversary so Lonna watched the grandkids. I had a gig so I coudn't be there with them. While they were eating a snack, they told Lonna about their experience with the Poison Exhibit at COSI as only a five and six year old can.
As part of the "Columbus Agenda", we visited one of Adam's favorite childhood restaurants from the early 1980s that was resurrected in 2018 by the original owner, Graydon Webb: GD Ritzy's. When Adam was a kid, it was located at the corner of North High Street and Cooke Road, just a rock's throw away from our house.
Now, it's been brought back and is simply called "Ritzy's". And, it's even closer to our house!
The other culinary necessity on the agenda was...
which we ordered at the end of the Family Open House we held on Saturday, December 29th, from 11:00am to 5:00pm.
On the Left: my niece Stephanie (brother Nick's daughter) with Lonna, Talya and Vienna
Lonna with my niece Lisa
In the chair: my brother Nick; On the couch, his daughter Andrea with Cameron
Me with Dad, Adam, Cameron and Vienna (four generations)
Me with my cousin Nick's wife, Karen Kontras. Nick passed back in 2011.
Nick and his daughters: Stephanie and Andrea
Dad with brother David
Dad with my cousin Denise
Lisa and Talya
First cousins: Adam and Andrea
Sister-in-law, Beth (David's wife), Dad, David and Denise
KENNY, BROOKE, ALEENA & GRAYSON
Kenny continues his work at Slow Motion Motor Sports in Sunbury, Ohio, as a fabricator and engine builder. He's planning to open his own shop in 2019. He's been dating Brooke Barnes for over two years. She works at Loeb Electric's main office in the purchasing department. Brooke used to live in Zanesville when they first met, but now lives in Columbus, about 5 minutes from Lonna and me, which certainly has reduced her drive time to work. Her two children are Aleena (age 6) and Grayson (age 5, February 2019). They have a great relationship with Kenny. We enjoyed an evening with everyone a few days before Christmas at our house.
Dad is still getting around fairly well. He gardens and walks in the summer. He still drives, but only to a couple of places very close to home. One of those places is McDonald's to visit with his coffee-drinking buddies. He celebrated his 87th birthday in January.
Brother David's family and Dad went on vacation together over the summer. (My apologies for the grainy picture.)
Left to Right: Nicholas, Grace, Carly, Dad, Beth, David, Jacob and Billy. Meghan was unable to make the trip.
PA, NJ & TN IN THE HOUSE
Nine people living in our little house? Yup! Early in November, Lonna's sister Linda and her husband, Gary, came from Pennsylvania for a visit and business. Her other sister, Lissa, drove in from Tennessee to join her two sisters. And for the first time, Gary and Linda's daughter, Kristen, her husband Dave, and their two sons, Matthew and Christopher, came in from New Jersey. Their time in Columbus was brief, but very enjoyable. Kristen and her family came in specifically to visit Lego Land, so when we were there again in December, it was actually Lonna and my's second visit.
Left to right: Christopher, Matthew and Lonna (photo-bombing from above)
Left to right: Dave, Matthew and Christopher
Left to right: Linda (Lonna's sister and the kids' grandmother), Kristen (Linda's daughter), Dave and Christopher (in back), Gary (Linda's husband) and Matthew. By the way, learn about Gary in the NFL.
Late in the second day, Christopher started feeling a little sick, so we all laid low at the house, watching movies and playing games.
Left to right: Matthew, Linda, Christopher and Lissa
BACK TO MEMPHIS
Late in October, Lonna and I drove to Memphis to visit her sister Lissa and husband John. One of the highlights of the trip was Lissa and John treating us to an evening at the LaFayette Music Hall to see "Asleep at the Wheel" featuring Ray Benson. We had great seats for this show: only three tables back from the stage.
The talent on the stage was unbelievable. This seven member group plays twelve instruments extremely well. In addition to Ray, four of the members also sing. I might add that the sound was excellent.
As with previous trips, we enjoyed a few good walks...
and backyard lunches with friends.
After 7½ years, In Spirit Ministries has decided to sponsor occasional concerts featuring some of the most popular artists from the past monthly events rather than have the First Saturday Chant each month. Here's a picture from the final performance which featured "The Bead People" with the rest of us joining them on stage for the finale. The members of "The Bead People" are (left to right): Jim Fuller, Bass/Vocals, Ralph Leesburg, Guitar/Vocals, Joanne Blum, Flute/Vocals and Joe Lambert, Guitar/Vocals. This was a reunion performance since Jim Fuller now lives in Wisconsin.
I was so fortunate to be a part of this musical ministry for over six years. I hope to continue working with the ministry's concert series whenever my schedule will allow.
I am now in my 6th year at Unity Church of Delaware, playing piano on the second Sunday of each month. The church is growing and this is in no small way due to the efforts of Joanne Blum and her husband, Joe Lambert. They bring such vitality to the church, not only on Sundays, but throughout the week with other programs that really help people.
The youngest member of the Gang of Four from work, became a father on November 28th. Congratulations to Steve and his wife, Samantha. Welcome to the world, Brody Michael Reffitt!
In the small picture, left to right: Steve Reffitt, Rich O'Hara, John Gardner
I have now completed eleven years with the company and debating whether to retire at the end of 2019 or go another year.
MAPFRE Insurance celebrated its tenth year in the United States on June 4, 2018. It was my responsibility to coordinate the celebration in Columbus. This meant planning outdoor accomodations, give-a-ways, music, food, photography, setup, teardown and cleanup. Everything went well and I was very grateful for the kudos from so many of my co-workers. The CEO of the company actually sent me a hand-signed note thanking me as well.
However, a big change is coming. Because we no longer house nearly 200 employees (some of which are pictured above) in the building due to outsourcing, whole departments being moved to our home office and attrition, the building is going to be sold. We will be moving our operations to an 8000-9000 square foot office space, probably in the Dublin, Ohio area.
A look at the now empty 3rd floor of our current building shows how the floors are laid out:
Below is a fictious graphic design of the concept the company is leaning towards: (The actual design and layout have not been created as of the end of December.)
This company started out in 1946 as Auto Club Insurance and was located on West Broad street. The company moved into its brand new two story building at the corner of Wilson Road and Twin Creeks Drive in 1973. Business was growing so fast that a third story was added several years later.
In 1999, Auto Club Insurance was purchased by the Commerce Group out of Massachusetts. That's when it became American Commerce Insurance Company. Less than a year after I started working at ACIC, the Commerce Group was purchased by MAPFRE (June 2008), a Spanish company with business in 47 different countries.
I've been commuting to this building for over eleven years, driving 26 miles round trip each day.
I will miss it.
On a lighter side, and as part of the MAPFRE Insurance Volunteer Program, employees can choose do some type of "Giving Back" to the community. I chose to be a Salvation Army Volunteer by ringing the bell at one of our neighborhood grocery stores.
Studio Artists is expanding into in-house video production using new green screening techniques. The studio has been totally remodeled to accommodate the change and we're looking forward to working with clients on their video promotions.
Lonna and I tested the green screening process with a quick Happy Birthday video to our nephew, Jimmy. A decent first run, but there's still work to do on the lighting to perfect the process.
A new promotional video is in the works as well as an overhaul of the website. The studio still offers all the other services.
ELEVEN YEARS AND COUNTING!
2018 marks TGL's eleventh year on stage and my seventh year with the band. The future looks good! We are working about fifty dates a year and 2019 looks just as promising as years past. We've had the conversation among ourselves about how much longer we can go, considering two thirds of the band is in their mid-to-late sixties. Personally, I would like to celebrate my seventieth birthday on stage. My birthday falls on Thanskgiving in 2020 so we would have to do a gig the night before and celebrate when the clock strikes midnight!
We did receive some unfortunate news, however. Our drummer, Marty Brasington, has decided to give up music for a while. He's been with us since August of 2014. Notifying us on November 28th of his decision, he cited wanting to spend his summer months doing other things besides playing music, as the reason. Our schedule really ramps up in the summer, so it was starting to conflict with his desire to do long bike rides and marathons. He did give us plenty of time to find someone.
On December 23rd, after many auditions, we found our new drummer. He is Jim Mogavero, a very talented musician who fits in perfectly with our style of music and our personalities. Welcome to TGL, Jim!
It's the call you don't expect to receive until you are much older.
On November 28th, early in the evening, I received a call from my brother Nick, who told me that his wife of 46 years had passed during the night. Lonna and I had no idea her health was failing because she didn’t want anyone beyond her immediate family to know.
Janey went in for a routine colonoscopy on April 16th. Shortly after the procedure, she start coughing. It was assumed that she was having some sort of reaction to the anesthetic they gave her. To be safe, here doctor told her that if the coughing didn't subside in a day or so, to return to his office immediately. It didn't, so on the 20th, she returned. They ran several tests and learned that she had Stage 4 Metastatic Lung Cancer. They did all they could do, but the cancer spread very quickly to her brain and liver and she passed early in the morning on November 28th.
The feeling of loss that Nick and his daughters, Andrea and Stephanie, have endured is something I cannot imagine, since Lonna and I have only been married about half as long as Nick and Janey were. That said, when he told me the news, I started weeping like a child. I was completely overwhelmed with sadness for Nick and the girls for the obvious grief they must have been feeling. Let's face it, you don't stay married for that long and not have some incredible shared experiences.
The picture on the left is from 2017. On the right is Nick with his new dog, "Dugan", that he purchased from a private owner a few days after Janey's Memorial Service. He is going to have "Dugan" trained and certified as a Therapy Dog.
At the end of the memorial service, the minister offered a great poem by Wanda Bencke entitled "I'm Spending Christmas with Jesus This Year", that touched many of the family members and friends about such a personal loss this close to Christmas.
80 OVER 8 - MY LIFELONG BATTLE
September 2012: Mitral Valve Repair and Maze Procedure
April 2013: Hemorrhoidectomy
March 2015: Abdominal Hernia Repair
February 2016: Left Atrial Ablation
May 2016: Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea / Started using CPAP Unit
January 2017: Left Total Knee Replacement
October 2017: Cataracts
January 2018: Right Total Knee Replacement
Thanks in large part to Lonna's research and due diligence, I have had very good surgeons and doctors. And because of her efforts and their skills, I feel better today than I have felt in well over ten years. Lonna was there, by my side, helping me every step of the way.
However, as important as receiving the above care is, losing eighty pounds over eight years and keeping it off also contributes greatly to my good health.
Those who have been through the weight loss process know how difficult it is. I had been overweight all of my adult life, with the exception of a couple of "tries" along the way. Eventually, I realized that losing the weight is actually a very small part of the process. Keeping the weight off is the lion's share of the process. I had to change my knowledge and understanding about food - which included how long it REALLY takes to lose weight and keep it off. I learned that I could not change a lifetime of eating habits in a month or two - that it takes years to put the weight on, and years to take the weight off. Bottom line: if I wanted to change my weight, I had to change my thinking.
By the way, one other element of my newfound good health? NAPS!!
On a side note: I found these Notes on Aging that are worth the read.
It had to happen sooner or later: a tropical storm / hurricane named Michael.
Our niece in California, Abby, was part of the team that won the CIF-SS Division 2 Championship in volleyball. She attends Los Alamitos High School and the name of the team name is "The Griffins". The local paper captured some great shots.
A FIFTY YEAR FIRST
I was part of the graduating class of 1968 from Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio. We celebrated our Fifty Year Reunion at the Worthington Hills Country Club in Worthington, Ohio in October, with over one hundred people attending. This was the first time I was able to attend a reunion because in the past, I had to perform. Lonna joined me so she was able to meet some of my former classmates. She was also able to take some great pics which helped to make it a very memorable evening!
I know most of you won't know these people, but just in case: Left Pic: Greg Weber and Skip Peltier; Right Pic: Ray Ramsey and Pat McFadden;
Left pic: Tom Bartha; Right pic: Brenda Backus
These are the Docherty Twins: Jeri (left) and Teri (right).
THE MUSIC OF BILLY JOEL
Billy Joel influenced pop music in very creative ways throughout the 1990s. He is certainly one of my favorite singer/songwriters. Lonna and I attended a very special Picnic with the Pops Concert at the Columbus Commons featuring the music of Billy Joel performed by Michael Cavanaugh, who was excellent. As a matter of fact, he was hand selected by Billy Joel for the broadway musical, Movin' Out, which featured his music.
YOU ARE THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
He's exactly what we know him to be. His arrogance and narcissism surprises no one. He is sociopathic and completely lacks any self-awareness. His actions are predictable. He seeks attention, acceptance and loyalty with no understanding of consequence. His work as a TV celebrity was shrouded in controversy and indecency.
Those of us that pay attention to his business dealings know that he is not who he claims to be: a multi-billionaire and a great deal maker. He owes hundreds of millions of dollars to many banks and individuals. There is no bank in this country that will loan him money. He and his children borrow from Russia and Saudi Arabia to finance real estate ventures. Buildings with his name on them are taking his name down. One foreign bank's managers that loaned him money have been convicted of fraudulent banking. And, he is in arrears on his debt to that bank as well.
There are now federal and state investigations into every aspect of his life: personal, business, candidacy and presidency. Many of the people that are involved in these different aspects have been indicted, gone to trial, been convicted and have gone, or are going to jail. And it's not over yet.
My grandmother taught me, "You are the company you keep." And I believe that truth applies to this man.
Our reputation as the beacon of hope in the world is tarnished. The new nationalistic approach to foreign affairs is hurting our relationships with our allies. His fondness for dictators and how they treat their citizens is baffling at best, and totally disrespectful of all the leaders of this country that came before him. Obviously, none of this serves our country well.
To say the least, it's been an exhausting two years. But I am not giving up hope on this experiment called America. I believe it's impossible for one person to destroy this country in four (or less) years. I know there are good people in government that want the best for our citizens. And I believe they will rise to right these wrongs.
If we've heard it once, we've heard it a million times: "Elections have consequences." Choosing this man to be our President has certainly proven to be a decision with monumentally bad consequences. But I have no doubt that many of the people who chose this man will eventually see him for what he is: a fraud.
THE FASTEST DELOREAN IN THE WORLD
The release of Adam's first documentary was picked up by Amazon Prime and the independent film distributor, Indie Rights Movies. It also debuted in Paris, France, to a room of Delorean enthusiasts who had lots of questions about the film, the re-build and the dramatic ending. Haven't seen it? WHY NOT? Check it out on Amazon.
The sequel is coming in 2019 and the on fire Time Machine seen in the above poster is explained.
I continue to rack up miles on my 2000 Toyota Avalon thinking that something will eventually cause me to not want to spend any more money on it. But it hasn't happened yet. The maintenance costs, including oil changes, is about $1,500 - $1,700 a year. I cannot possibly buy a comparable vehicle for that kind of money, so the car stays in the family for now. And why not? It runs great, still looks good and gives me about 28mpg on the highway.
I will preempt the paragraph below by saying I've lived in Clintonville (north Columbus) for 65 years. I've seen some seemingly unexplainable things in the neighborhood during this time.
On December 17th, a day of clear skies with temperatures in the 50s, I was on my way to a video shoot. At about the 3500 block of North High Street, across from Smith's Deli, I saw this....
Someone was not having a good day.
A LEGEND RETIRES - A NEW ERA BEGINS
There's not much that can be said about Ohio State Football Coach Urban Meyer that hasn't already been said. His record speaks for itself:
7-0 Against Michigan
3 Big 10 Championships
54-4 Big 10 Record
83-9 Overall Record
1 National Championship
5 Big 10 Division Titles
When he announced his retirement from the position on Tuesday, December 4th, I don't think many of us were surprised, especially after learning about his health issues.
His successor was also announced at the same time. It's Ryan Day, the interim coach at the beginning of the 2018 season during Uban's three game suspension. While it is true that Ryan has never been a head coach, I think he is the perfect choice for the position. I believe he can keep this program moving forward, and maintain its elite status.
But to be sure, he has some big shoes to fill.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN 24 HOURS?
November 28, 2018 was a significant day for me. Our drummer decided to retire from music and leave the band, my sister-in-law passed and a good friend became a father for the first time.
Feel free to send me captions for this one...
Thanks for taking the time to read and watch my year end page.
Have a great 2019!