Valentine’s Day has never been a favorite holiday of mine. And a few years ago, it became a bittersweet holiday at best. I lost a family member to suicide. Yes, a very tragic event that shook the entire family.
But because of this tragedy, our family drew closer. I was able to re-establish ties with family members that I had lost years before. I was able to form new bonds with my brothers and sister and also renew a kinship with a family that had been lost to me. So while I lost a family member, I regained a family.
I have posted this song every year since we lost Ben. It is a great way for me to remember him.
I am not going to lie. I got very little sleep over this past weekend because I have been sucked in by the Olympics. There was also this little cold I picked up that made breathing, well, difficult, but we will ignore that fact for the sake of this story and blame my insomnia on the Olympics.
I missed the first two nights. I didn’t see the spectacle that was the opening ceremonies on Friday. From the highlights that I saw, I think I would have liked the drones. I picked up on the coverage late Saturday afternoon, but only saw a little bit of the action as I had to leave for a get together with friends.
When I arrived back home, I turned on the Olympics and, boom, I was hooked. I wasn’t watching the skating on NBC, but I tuned into NBCSN on my computer so I could watch in bed and fall asleep to the boring sport of curling. Yep, the good old boring sport of curling. The one that combines ice, bowling, shuffle board and pool. Well, forget the boring part. I was hooked and enthralled. Not was it only all of the above, but it was mixed curling meaning that there was a male and female partnered on a team. Brilliant.
So now we have the chess match that is ice, bowling, shuffle board and pool coupled with…couples. Not as in married couples, although there were brothers and sisters, but just two paired together. Now, mix in the high pressure that is inherent in competing in the Olympics and you have better drama than any reality show.
In curling, they have brooms in order to sweep the ice to effect the stone on its path and length. So you have one person on the team telling the other player to sweep “harder” or not at all. All the while, the players are miked up for the crowd to hear and the add in the tension from the competition. As you can imagine, not all was well with the competing partners. Since they were speaking languages I could not understand, I had to interpret the conversations the best I could. This is what I came up with.
Female: I thought we agreed you would curl that stone left to take out that other stone!!
Male: I gave it my best shot, I thought the ice was faster.
Female: I told you to throw harder, but did you listen…no!!!
Male: We are on ice, how could I have thrown it harder???
Female: Thought you had more in you.
Male: I thought I told you to sweep the damn ice harder!
At this point we take a commercial break (of which there are many), and leave it to the audience’s imagination of just where that next 42 pound stone will be placed.
Yes, this is no lie. I really was thinking this while watching the couples perform.
My next thing I watched was the luge. I watched the men’s single live and it was very exciting. But what crazy people!! Who thought this stuff up? It had to be a bunch of guys sitting around drinking one day during the winter, since all the farming chores were probably done, yes, probably. Anyway, one brilliant guy says to the rest, “Hey, lets build an ice hill, grab a board, put a couple of runners on it and slide down this ice hill at 80 mph!!” The rest of the guys look at each other, grab another beer and yell “Dilly Dilly” while running for the hill. The rest is history.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was looking forward to the ice skating because, well, I only watch it every four years so I tend to forget why I don’t watch it.
I will tell you it was not because of the looks of Johnny Weir or the outfits some of the skaters had on, though, I must admit, I was scratching my head a bit. Mr. Weir looked like he was straight out of the movie “The Hunger Games” with his hair-do. I did do a “YIKES!” when I first saw him. But I later saw a commercial with him mocking himself and I did like his commentary on the skating. Not that I understood a single thing he said or did I understand how this damn sport is scored.
I back my claim by this. How in the hell does the one guy who falls twice during his performance, win? Even the commentators were at a loss to explain. They fawned over the excellence of the American skater, yet he scored low and he didn’t fall. Next up was the Canadian skater, he fell twice and won the event. So at that point, I was done and went to bed. I fired up the computer and only had commercials to watch with a few snowboarders thrown in order to fill in the time between commercials.
So as I went back to work this morning, bleary eyed and weary, I realized there was something missing from this edition of the winter Olympics. The one thing that made 2014 in Sochi so real.
It is Bob Costas and his pink eyes.
I felt so bad for him during the last Olympics, but damn, how easy it was to make fun of him.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Mr. Costas and his work. But that was just good stuff. I tuned in just to see how he was recovering.
Bottom line. I know we are just getting started and I may need to take a break and get some sleep some nights, but you can count on me watching and injecting my own warped sense of humor into this great show.
Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a fan of the Olympics. Yep, bring it on. Speed skating. Downhill skiing. Bobsled. Luge. And yes, figure skating. I will admit I like to watch figure skating. Every four years. I like the grace and athleticism of the skaters. I have no idea how they are judged or how the scoring goes. Might as well figure out the NFL bobbled catch rule and then you might understand figure skating.
The cross country skiing and shoot arrows…yep, not sure about that. Or the one that shoots rifle instead of arrows. Um, well I’m sure the Greeks had a reason for that…
So I will watch these coming 2 weeks with fun. It will actually be live. 8PM here is actually 10 am there. So the live feeds should be fun.
But most of of all, I look forward to the backstories. The ones that will make my eyes misty. You know what I am talking about. “She/he was raised in poverty and rose up to meet the challenge and became a Olympian…and so forth.
Don’t get me wrong. I love that story. But why not this…”Kid was motivated a worked his ass off and became an Olympian” I like that also…
I am signed up and ready to go for TOSRV 2018. Okay, I might not be quite ready to go just yet. I might need a few training rides before I take on the two day, 210 mile challenge route that is TOSRV. For me though, this is the grand-daddy of all the rides I do. I know it isn’t a charity ride. I know it isn’t much in the grand scheme of things as I ride for. But it does have the most history.
This is the first organized ride I ever did. And what a ride that was. It was a whirlwind of tornado warnings and hail, pinging off my helmet. Rain and discomfort, and finally 100 miles of satisfaction knowing I can cycle this route.
Since then I have done 13 successful TOSRV’s. I have braved weather elements. I have peddled through many of storms and rain showers. Cold and wind are things that mark my memories of the ride.
But the real reason I do this ride and, for that matter, all rides that I do, is inspired by my mother.
You see, in 2001, my mother called me and told me that he was going to buy a bike and do this ride, TOSRV. At the time, I was a pack a day smoker, habitual couch potato, and general doubter. So I laughed at her. “What ? Are you crazy?”
It wasn’t a mere two months after this that we learned that she had lung cancer.
It was then that I decided that I would ride TOSRV for her. And I did. I called her every chance I got during the first couple of rides I did for her. After that…well, I remember.
This is an important ride. It is still the reason I ride. I remember well.
It started with a kiss. I was on the floor. We were watching the Super Bowl, or at least I was, when she crawled onto my chest. She then went up to face and planted the wettest, most sloppery kiss I have ever had.
She then had a grin that could light up Time’s Square on a busy night. I melted. This is a memory that will stay with me forever.
Of course I am referring to my daughter. And we have celebrated this moment for the last 21 years. Over the years we have had cakes, presents and, of course, kisses. It has been special for us over the years.
It is a wonderful thing, memories. I can’t think of a thing that is more important than this. I know that she is an adult now, but the fact that she still remembers this and is willing to celebrate the fact, well, that is just priceless.
This year we went a Blue Jackets game and just spent time together. It really doesn’t get much better than this.
I have been a chef for over 34 years now. That is a long time in a very demanding profession. Over the years, I have been asked many questions such as, “I can really cook do you think I am a chef? ” (No). “I have been told that I throw great dinner parties, do you think I should open a restaurant?” (No). “Would you like me to share my mother’s recipe to you for use in your restaurant?” (NOOO!!). “Do you cook at home?” (Of course I do, I have to eat also!).
It’s all good though. I know it is all about being part of the profession. I am sure other professions endure the same type of questions. I really feel for what doctors have to endure. But my least favorite question that I was asked repeatedly was, “What is your specialty?”
A fellow chef shared the following with me a few years ago and I was a little pissed that I didn’t write it, but it really nails what being a chef truly is. I was reminded of this letter today when I had one staff member on vacation and another chose to call in sick. So I really had to chef it today!
“I’m a chef” I say. “Oh! What’s your specialty?” they always ask. My “Specialty”…? I’m a chef, I said. My specialty is maintaining peace among a staff of professionals, immigrants, part-timers, waiting on my real job-ers, burnouts, disgruntles and people genuinely motivated by service. My specialty is knowing how to do everyone’s job so they respect me but also at the blink of an eye I could be pulling their function as they are pulling that crumpled suit out of the closet, for the job search has begun yet again. My specialty is delivering high quality food in a timely manner within the constraints of archaic equipment, new fads, ancient techniques all while abiding by the unfair, unrealistic, ever-changing demands of the health department. My specialty is receiving the same products every other chef across the world receives but somehow convincing you to come eat mine. Taking ingredients that are already expensive, putting them together & somehow trying to squeeze every possible nickel out of it. My specialty is being impervious to burns. Using duct tape as a band-aid. Standing, running, pacing within the same 10 foot square for 16 hours at a time. Specializing in walking without a limp although my ankles feel broken, my knees pop with every step & my back is one gigantic (albeit muscular…very muscular) cramp. My specialty is sleeping very little. Waking when a lot of people are going to bed. Never seeing the sunlight during the holidays. Working countless days in a row. Being the first in & the last to leave. My specialty is actually having fun in such a high demanding, stressful job. Taking pride in a job well done. Seeing doubt in people’s eyes sometimes & somehow pulling it off. I’m a Chef, I said. That IS my specialty. -Author Unknown-
Wait…What?? It’s the end of January already? I’m sorry, but from my perspective this month flew by. I guess I better let you know how my 2017 went, cycling wise of course.
It was actually a very big year for me. 2017 saw me ride in eight different states. Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota. Oh yea, and Ohio of course. There were some big rides and countless training rides that took me over 3300 miles on a bike for the year. That is a few pedal strokes.
I got to enjoy the great sights of mother nature. Armadillos and alligators in Florida. The many lakes and fields of Minnesota. The great Mississippi River from Minnesota through Iowa. The rolling hills and mountains of Pennsylvania. Beautiful Lake Michigan. And the great landscapes of Ohio. The rolling horse pens of Kentucky.
I got to meet many new friends that I now call family. I was able to ride for a great cause four different times as I was able to participate in four different Hope Rides for the American Cancer Society. I was able to enjoy the kindness of complete strangers whom I will probably never see again, but I will never forget.
I also had the great fortune to meet and ride for Miss Emily Gandee. I dedicated the riding season to Emily and was blessed to have “Flat” Emily with me through most of my journeys. Emily is a wonderful young lady and I am happy to report she is on her way to recovery. We had some great adventures over all of those miles and I was happy to have her as an inspiration. She also made many new friends and admirers along the way.
It was not all joy. There were days of wind and days of rain and there were days of wind and rain. There were really cold days and really hot days. There were days that I wish I was not riding, but I still had to keep going. I had my share of flat tires and breakdowns. I was dropped by my riding companions more times than I am willing to admit.
There were a few scary road moments. Riding in heavy traffic is never much fun. Getting blown over the road by passing cattle trucks also does not rank up there as a favorite activity. Getting caught in a wrong gear just as that little incline turns into a major climb will leave you breathless and have your legs screaming. Hitting potholes as you are traveling at 30 mph downhill also gets your attention. But just like the good memories, these are just part of the game that I so enjoy.
As I look back over the past year I can say that I am proud of my achievements for the year. I have been riding a bike as a hobby for over 15 years now and I would like to say that I have improved my abilities each and every year with 2017 not being an exception. I can’t imagine what my 2003 self would think of the 2017 version of me. Except, maybe, “Hey? We made it that far?? Very cool!”
I am slowly rebuilding the blog. As I mentioned earlier, I did save most of the stories I wrote to hard drive so over the next few weeks, I will add them to the site again. Today’s installment brings us “Pan Ohio 2009” This is the story of my first Pan Ohio and the formation of The Six Pack Team. Hard to believe this was almost ten years ago! And, it is a pretty good story. I think it captures my emotions of the time pretty well. I have also cycled a few more miles since then.
So look over at the sidebar and you will find the link to the story. I hope you enjoy.
And the funny thing is that one day last week, the blog stopped working. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I’m not sure I even care.
What I do care about is the fact that I spent the last three days trying to recover all of the stuff from the site. Alas, it was to no avail. So any favorite post or story that you liked is now in that post heaven that all good post go to. Okay, they really are just deleted. This is what happens when you don’t back up your work!
I am okay with this though. I haven’t been writing much so now that I must start from scratch, I hopefully will start writing more. The other side note is, I can repeat old ideas for posts because you or I will not be able to prove if I had made a post like that before.
YAY!! New content!
I did save my stories to hard drive. My story, “The Showing” is listed under pages on the side bar. I hope you like it again or for the first time.
Please feel free to leave comments on all posts. Please keep them civil.