In answer to those of you who have written wondering if I’ve slipped into the river or disappeared into a lab in the bowels of NIOSH—I am alive and have been running as fast as my legs will carry me. It’s been a year in a quarter and I have passed my “freshman” year in Cincinnati. But back to where my last story ended — in summer, in Cincinnati.
Summer in Cincinnati is sultry and hot, hot, hot. You’ll noticed I abandoned 96 degrees because it was an understatement most of July. As with winter, the natives told me this summer has been more intense than usual. Several times Mom and I commiserated on the phone about the weather and concluded that being housebound for reasons of cold or heat is a drag. Despite the heat, it didn’t feel like summer somehow. Maybe because I didn’t have my tomatoes or gardens but I suspect it had more to do with not having a beach location in my repertoire. I only got to swim twice. Both times were during my trip to Wisconsin to see the boys the first week in August.
Reckless Abandon on the Illinois Toll Road
As I noted last time, Vicki and I headed to Wisconsin on August 2nd. There was a bit of dramatic tension on the trek through Illinois. I intentionally stayed away from the toll roads and obsessively managed my speed. Last fall, the Illinois toll folks sent me a sweet letter accusing me of running 6 tolls during my trip to house hunt. Kathy Krusiec was with me and can attest to the fact I didn’t spring a one. Unfortunately, I lost the notification in the move–making a not very interesting story short, they won’t accept my late appeal and want me to pay $500. I think not. And, so, hence my under-the-radar trip through the flat lands.
Act 1: Art Camp and the Baraboo Boys
While they are growing up, it’s hard to remember that one day it will be difficult to get the kids together for a visit—even if it’s only two. My main intent in coming home was to see the boys. Philip had an unfortunate encounter with a chain link fence in July and I wanted to see what 14 stitches in his chin and 4 in his upper lip had done for his tough look. The truth is, I just really missed them both since I hadn’t seen them since early June. I’d planned on being around Monday through Saturday and was hoping to see as much of them as possible. Given work schedules, I gleaned I’d get Thursday through Saturday. That left Tuesday and Wednesday with Bonnie.
Two days at Dog-in-the-Hole was bliss. Bonnie and John have a small paradise tucked between farms and valleys. Their country place has it all—a pond, woods, all manner of birds, a pond, prairie, and lovely gardens. We swam, talked, ate Indian and homemade pies, convened with nature, had some spa time, and took to the open roads to photograph the unbelievably beautiful big sky and rambling fields of corn and beans, quaint forgotten buildings, and ancient oaks crippled by the years. Best of all, we put time on hold as we lost ourselves in the studio. Bonnie worked on her gorgeous multi-layered canvas projects and I created four handpainted t-shirts for my California nieces and nephew (see the pics below).
On Thursday, I felt rejuvenated and like a kid who’d had an extended play date. It was good to see Thomas and Leinie and strange to see the house. We shopped for provisions and headed to the Dells. Philip worked the graveyard shift at Dunkin’ Donuts and we planned to catch him for dinner before his shift. Happily his face alterations did not modify his cuteness. We stayed at a Clarion in Baraboo and the next day headed out for one of my favorite places on the earth—Devil’s Lake.
Our picnic day reminded me of growing up and going to Governor Dodge with Mom, Dad, and the sibs. Being at a lake in the summer is a timeless thing. Potato salad, chicken, lemonade, ice cream, frisbees, sand and water. Even though they are young men, some things never change. I was grateful that I caught the young lions frolicking.
Every time I see a picture of them, I think to myself–“When did they get so tall?!” I know they are mine, but I find them vastly entertaining human beings—funny, smart, thoughtful, unique. The most difficult thing about moving is being far away. I remind myself that they are involved in building their own lives and I would probably not see them much more than I do now—but I miss them. So, it was good to get a few days together.
Salt Fork and Pepper Spoon
Coming back to Ohio involved a brief stop in Cincinnati then off to Salt Fork, a huge beautiful state part near Cambridge, for the Institute’s internal science conference. For three days, I listened to NIOSH’s best scientific minds report on research covering from everything to workplace reproductive issues to nanotechnology. Amazing what is going on around me.
Atlanta, Aquariums, and Anchors
After Salt Fork, I got about three days to catch my breath and then I was off to CDC’s Health Communication Marketing and Media Conference. It’s been years since Karla Schmidt and I put up overnight in a hotel conference room in Atlanta. We were on our way to sun and beaches in Florida and hit Georgia on a night when it seemed every room was booked—but that’s another story. The downtown’s gotten much more memorable since my last visit. The Olympic’s Centennial park is impressive and is surrounded by the CNN building and the Aquarium. The opening night reception was at the Aquarium and I was wowed! The sky was cloudy and dramatic my last day there and I got some really wonderful shots.
The Whale Sharks were fascinating—huge and colored and marked like a fawn. It was amazing to walk beneath the mammoth shark, rays, and tuna. A week later when UW-P friend, John Kortas was in town, I was inspired to take him to the local aquarium that boasted of a glass ceiling. Luckily, he was a good sport about what turned out to be a disappointing “fish tank.”
Stayed at the Omni Hotel in the CNN center. The shot on the right was taken from my room. Took the visitor’s tour of the studios and relived my TV days in Madison.
Came back to John Kortas’ visit and impressed him with the backyard mountain range and the deluxe tour of the greater Mariemont area. I actually spent a week in the office and Cincinnati before Red Cross friends, Judy and Linda, descended on Muchmore. That’s the fourth act of August and will have to wait for next blog. I’m exhausted just recounting the month. Anyway, much more on that next time.