Kinda Cool

Back in 1982 when I was twenty five working as a teller for Banc Ohio a customer passed me a five dollar silver certificate so I exchanged it for five dollars and kept it hoping it would be worth something.

A few weeks later I decided to give it to mom’s dad, Grandpa Neal, in a birthday card on his eighty fourth birthday. You see he had been a banker all of his life and he loved that kind of stuff.

I never thought any more of it until the time of his death fifteen years later when my Uncle Gilbert pulled me aside at his funeral and told me they had opened his safety deposit box and one of the items in the box was the envelope below.

Of course, inside the envelope was the five dollar silver certificate. After doing some research come to find out that holders of a silver certificate at one time could exchange the certificate for silver coin or silver bullion, but that is no longer the case and the certificate is worth ten dollars today.

I have kept the envelope and come across it from time to time always thinking how special he made my gift to him by taking the time to write a few words asking that the silver certificate be returned to me with his best wishes. What a class guy he was !

Picnic by the Pool

In Columbus today the temperature hovered in the mid to low nineties so it quite frankly didn’t make any sense to be anywhere other than close to a pool with good friends. Our picnic lunch consisted of ham and swiss sandwiches with spicy mustard, pretzels and apple wedges with carmel dipping sauce along with pickles and cheddar cheese chunks. A large pitcher of crystal light with a hint of vodka and my friend Mary in her hot pink bikini with matching nail polish made for a fun and memorable day ! I hope everyone enjoyed their day as much as we did.

Congratulations Paul and Karen

Right around this time forty two years ago the Webner family moved from Akron, Ohio and made Columbus our home. The first person I met the day we moved in was my neighbor Paul King and we became friends from the beginning. He later was one of a number of people who roomed at my condominium in Rittenhouse Square.

Twenty five years ago he asked me to be a groomsmen in his wedding and tonight I was invited to celebrate his marriage to his beautiful wife Karen along with their family and friends. They are two of the happiest people I have come to know and have raised two of the most respectful children, Chris and Katie I have ever been around.

Paul and I still get together a couple times a month to have lunch and sometimes if we are lucky Karen will join us. As one gets older you reflect on the many friendships you have that have lasted through the years and I am fortunate to be blessed with the friendship of both of them. So Happy Anniversary Paul and Karen, wishing you many more years of happiness to come.

Cruising the Mud Keys – Vacation – Key West Florida – Part 2

Last Friday we took a Custom Charter on a boat captained by Eric Cline and for six hours we cruised what are called the Mud Keys and some of Florida’s beautiful coral reefs.  It’s hard to put into words what a phenomenal time we all had.

The sky was so blue, the trees were so green and the water was crystal clear and did I mention the temperature was in the mid-eighties with a nice breeze.

We landed on what Eric said was the only island in the Mud Keys with sand (all the rest are mud thus Mud Keys). He said it takes hundreds of years for sand to form on these islands.

Dana and I wading amongst the mangrove trees.

Most of the views were breathtaking ! It’s hard to believe there would be a more beautiful place in the world than this.

Passing by one of the Mud Key Islands with the mangrove trees. Mangrove trees offer shelter to juvenile fish, turtles and crustaceans and help protect the coastline from serious erosion during the storm season.

Heading off to the coral reefs for snorkeling.

It was my first time snorkeling so breathing through my mouth took some getting used to, but I came across this molted crab shell, saw many schools of beauty fish and brought back a live star fish to the boat for everyone to see (we threw it back in). Some of the sponge growths were truly amazing !

The water in some areas along the coral reef is very shallow and at times the shoreline extends a good distance into the water so it was quite easy for boats to get stuck in the sand and need help being pushed out to deeper water.

Florida is the only state with extensive shallow coral reef formations near its coastline and they were formed approximately 5,000 to 7,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. Reef growth is slow from one half inch to seven inches per year. Dana let me borrow her underwater camera for pictures and when she gets them developed I will post some of them in the near future.

On the way back to Key West Captain Eric had some crab traps he had dropped six weeks ago and he had us hoist them up to see what he had caught. Check out the claws on this baby ! Speaking of claws – he would remove one of the crab claws on the big ones and throw the crab back in as they regenerate a new claw after several moltings.

I would highly recommend this one day trip if you go to Key West – Custom Charters – Eric J Cline. Eric’s relaxed demeanor made for a truly wonderful time and something none of the five of us will ever forget ! Thanks Eric.

Vacation – Key West Florida – Part 1

Ahhhhhh – the vacation of a lifetime ! Morning coffee on the balcony of a room at Ocean Key Spa and Resort overlooking Sunset Key with Dana and Season. Sunset Key is a private island with 48 single family homes all worth more than $1.5 million and Oprah has a house there.

Then down to the pool for more rest and relaxation. Nate the pool concierge would pass out frozen lime green towels so we dab our brows if they were even a little sweaty ! Dana, Season, Sara and Libby (Dana’s sister who lives in Key West year round) enjoying the sun.

And drinks at the poolside bar where the view was spectacular !

Chicken nachos and chicken wings by the pool with some rumrunners !

Using the hot tub after the prior evening festivities, hey Season I wonder what the commoners are doing today ?

Definitely Worth Seeing !

If you have never been to Key West before most of the bars have local talent that performs daily and nightly. Sunday through Thursday from noon to four Ben Taddiken, sings and plays the guitar at Captain Tony’s on Greene St.

He plays a wide range of music from Patience by Gun’s n Roses to Leader of the Band by Dan Fogelberg and performs any and all requests. Not only does Ben have an excellent voice, but his charm, quick wit and sense of humor make his act a most enjoyable afternoon experience. So if your ever in Key West check him out, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Greetings from Key West

Well we landed in Key West during a torrential down pour at about twelve noon today, but the rest of the day turned out wonderful. Below is an afternoon view of Sunset Key from our hotel room and a picture of the sunset that occurred just a few minutes ago.

Thanks to Libby’s husband Ben we are staying at the Ocean Key Resort and Spa – what a beautiful place – everyone should stay here at least once in their lifetime !

Happy Birthday Brother !

Bob’s birthday is today so Hip Hip Hooray

He’s got more wrinkles and hair that’s turned grey,

But who really cares, oh man can he write

His daily blogs to his readers delight

 So I’d love to give Bob a birthday wish,

But then why would he need that

He has his wife Kish !

Bob (left) and I taken in December 1959 – he was two and I was three !

Obsessing over Trayvon

Okay I have to admit it – I have been obsessed with the Trayvon Martin shooting after listening to the 911 tape (below) on You Tube where you can hear someone screaming numerous times for help, then gun shots, then silence. Each morning I wake up and the first thing I google is the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Brief details as to what happened on February 26, 2012 – Trayvon Martin a seventeen year old was a guest at the residence of his fathers girlfriend who lived in Sanford Florida. Trayvon went to a convenience store at 7:00 pm to get an iced tea and skittles. When he returned to the gated community George Zimmerman a neighborhood watch coordinator for the condo association took notice and placed a call to the police department reporting suspicious behavior on Trayvon’s part stating “he was walking around looking about”. During the call to police Zimmerman said that Trayvon “was starting to run and that he was going to follow him”, but the police dispatcher told Zimmerman that it wasn’t necessary and that they didn’t need him to do that because police were on the way. Zimmerman said “okay I will meet the police by the mail boxes”, but before hanging up he said “actually could you have him call me, and I’ll tell him where I’m at”. A confrontation occurred between the two, they got into a scuffle on the ground and Mr Zimmerman who had a gun shot Trayvon once in the chest and is claiming self defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

It should be noted that a number of burglaries had taken place in Zimmerman’s condo complex in the past year or so, but there are a few things about this story that just don’t sit right with me.

Is it fair on Zimmerman’s part to assume that because a person is “walking around looking about” that they are up to no good ? It was dark and raining, could Trayvon have been lost or confused as to which was the condo he was staying at.

Zimmerman did his job by alerting the police, but does he have the right to pursue Trayvon especially after he’s told not to do so ?

If Zimmerman had not had a gun would he still have pursued Trayvon ?

When they got into a scuffle on the ground does it seem reasonable for Zimmerman to claim self defense under the Stand Your Ground law when he was the one armed with a gun and outweighed Trayvon ?

If charges are brought against George Zimmerman I am hopeful that a public trial will answer some of these unanswered questions and I will be glued to court TV watching. It’s only my humble opinion, but every story has two sides to it, if charges are in fact brought against George Zimmerman then he will have the luxury of deciding whether or not it is in his best interests legally to tell his side of the story. As for Trayvon Martin, he can’t tell his side of the story because he’s dead.

Today It’s all About the Millions

If lunch chatter was any indication there’s no doubt that tonight people will be talking about the huge jackpot that someone might win after tonight’s Mega Millions drawing at 11 p.m in Atlanta.

It’s hard to believe that no one has hit the jackpot in the drawing since January 23rd, that ‘s eighteen straight drawings with no winner. So far just this week 840 million tickets have been sold. Last night even Steven Colbert said he put a lot of thought into picking his numbers and he picked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

We employees at the Windward Passage don’t fool around with the small payouts, we only pool our money together when the payoff gets really big ! Yesterday it stood at $540 million, but just a few minutes ago they reported that the grand prize is now up to $640 million because of brisk ticket sales today.

We all know the chance of winning is one in 176 million and that there is a far greater chance of being hit by lighting, but the fact remains someone is going to win so why not play. Since I am already living a life of leisure as a retiree I don’t have a clue as to what I would do with the money, but I know one thing – I will be blogging from somewhere other than Columbus Ohio !

My Miracle – My Heart

Back in May 1987 at the age of thirty one I went in for my five year company physical expecting nothing out of the ordinary to come from it, but a few minutes later I was told to drive myself to the nearest emergency room because of a very irregular heartbeat.

After numerous tests I was diagnosed with a condition called cardiomyopathy, a disease that affects the left ventricle which is the main pumping chamber of the heart. Approximately 50,000 older adults have this condition which can cause extreme fatigue, be severely disabling requiring a heart transplant and can even cause sudden death.

You see for a person with a heart condition the key indicator of your heart’s health is your ejection fraction or “EF”. Normal “EF” is 50% to 75%, below normal is 36% to 49% and low is 35% and below. My echocardiogram at the time revealed a 25% “EF” which was very low so I was assigned to a cardiologist who put me on a mixture of drugs designed to strengthen my weak heart and help prevent arrhythmias. I also made a conscious effort to eat better and exercise as much as possible doing everything in moderation.

Last week my family physician recommended that I have another echocardiogram done to determine my heart’s current health. Yesterday I received a letter in the mail from him stating the following:

Jim, I am delighted to report that your echocardiogram showed no heart problems at all, this is fabulous news. Your left ventricle “EF” was at 55%, perfectly normal. All valves were normal in function and each of the four chambers of your heart were normal in size. You have had a total and complete recovery from your worrisome heart condition diagnosed twenty five years ago and therefore I don’t see a need for you to continue taking your heart medications.

After reading the letter I put in down and then picked it up again and reread it. Still skeptical of what the letter said I let a friend at work read it. I just could not believe it and still can’t believe it today ! I can’t tell you the amount of relief that I felt and the amount of gratitude I felt for my cardiologist.

So this morning I made a copy of the letter and sent it off to my cardiologist with my heart felt thanks (no pun intended) along with an offer to buy him lunch at a place of his choosing. I told him that I thought maybe he could share my story with other young people diagnosed with this condition giving them hope that things can get better.

Yep this is my own little miracle and I will always treasure it.

82 and Going Strong

Tonight several of us went to Gallo’s Kitchen and Bar to celebrate the matriarch of the family, mom Webner’s birthday. She has been celebrating all week.

We started with arancini rice balls with pomodoro sauce and fried oysters with remoulade sauce which were really delicious. For dinner mom opted for the filet mignon with homemade worcestershire sauce, while Amy and I had the seafood creole which included walleye, catfish and shimp over rice and Margaret went for the creole seasoned chicken.

Of course we had no choice but to top of the meal off with desert when we all shared a scoop of pistachio honey and dark chocolate ice cream. Thanks to TG for the appetizers. Happy Birthday mom – wishing you many more to come !!

Wonderful Book – Wonderful Story

I just loved a wonderful little book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho that my friend Dana let me borrow. Thanks Dana. It is a story about a young shepherd boy named Santiago who has a recurring dream about treasure near the pyramids so he decides to follow his dream and go to Egypt, but his path isn’t an easy one and he learns many life lessons along the way.

My favorite part of the book is when Santiago had no money so he stops in front of a crystal shop and decides to clean the dirty crystal in the front window in hopes that the shop owner would offer him food. Because of his good deed some customers decide to buy crystal and the shop owner offers the shepherd boy a job.

Santiago makes several other suggestions to the shop owner which brings in more customers to the crystal shop causing the shop owner to say ” you are a real blessing to me, but I don’t want to change anything because I don’t know how to deal with change”.  The crystal merchant tells the shepherd boy “you are different from me because you want to realize your dreams and I only want to dream of mine”.

When Santiago finally saves up enough money to continue his journey he decides its time to leave the crystal shop. The shop owner tells him “You have helped me so much and I am proud of you because you brought a new feeling into my crystal shop”.

The lesson that Santiago learns is that there is a language of the world that everyone understands and it is the language of enthusiasm, passion and pride in your job. The things one can accomplish with love and purpose as part of something believed in and desired no matter what you are doing.

This is truly a great read and worth rereading from time to time just like the book The Secret. I will definitely be reading more books written by this author.

Amor Deliria Nervosa aka Love

I thought this might be a good time to read Lauren Oliver’s book Delirium, during a time when our state governments are poking their noses into the area of women’s health and women’s reproductive rights with vaginal probes, oral contraceptives, and personhood amendments one which may appear on the Ohio ballot in November 2012 to drum up voter participation.

Delirium begins sixty four years after the president of the United States and a consortium determine that love is a disease that leads to many health issues. You see in the book love affects your mind so that you cannot think clearly, or make rationale decisions about your own well being. Scientists have perfected a cure for love and Lena a seventeen year old is scheduled to have her procedure done in three months when she turns eighteen, but she meets Alex and falls in love.

While some may find this book a stretch, with a little bit more government control here and there this kind of thing might happen in the future. I liked the story which had several twists and turns and the ending is a cliff hanger so you want to read the next book. Delirium is the first of a trilogy with Pandemonium out now and Requiem due out in 2013. I would recommend reading this book because it was well written with an interesting premise and some really good character development. Check it out !

St Patrick’s Day at Windward Passage

Last night the Windward Passage offered a lean corned beef and cabbage entree in celebration of St Patrick’s Day, however corned beef is not considered an Irish national dish and stems from early Irish American culture.

In Ireland their closest traditional dish is bacon and cabbage, but when Irish immigrants moved to this country in the eighteenth century they substituted corned beef considered a luxury item in their home country because of it’s lower price compared to bacon.

If you want to try Windward’s corned beef and cabbage it’s our Wednesday lunch special every week. As far as the picture goes, the group above was one of the last to leave the restaurant and I guess it shows if you love the Windward customers they love you back !