Saturday, December 03, 2011

It's time to start...again

Wow, that's been a long time.  My updates for the past 18 months have pretty much centered on one topic, and I think it's time to change topics.  Let's dust the cobwebs off this blog and get back to addressing the issues at hand.  Namely, let's talk about bike riding adventures and leading the fight against blood cancers.

So before I get back into bike riding tales, let me tell you about the immediate priority, that is I'm once again taking up the fight against blood cancers.  I've know too many people who've battled leukemia and lymphoma and frankly, I'm fed up.  It's a cruel twist of the human condition that some unlucky folks are stricken with these tragic diseases.  Well, I'm taking up the fight by fundraising again.  And as always, I'm asking you to help.

In the past, when I've asked for your donations, I've offered various incentives - such as riding a mile for every dollar raised or putting your name on my bike or clothing.  Parenthetically, I still have the bike shorts with Natalie's name on them.  Anyway, this time is no exception.

First, I want you to look at your calendar and mark the Sunday after Father's day.  Specifically, Sunday June 24th, 2012.  That is the date of Pork-a-Palooza III.  At Pork-a-Palooza II we smoked over 40 pounds of meat and we entertained dozens of guest.  It is the event to start the summer season.  The lad and I have hosted this event for two years in a row and next year promises to be even better.  

So why am I talking about this, well I'll tell you.  This year, to get a priority invitation to Pork-a-Palooza I'm asking that you sponsor me.  That is, for every $50 donation you get to be on the Donor Guest list for the porcine event of the year.  Very similar to the donor program that they run at Cal for preferred seating, you get preferred treatment at Pork-a-Palooza.

So here's the offer, sponsor me as I am fundraising again for Team in Training, and oh, by the way, I'm going to be riding through the dead of winter to train for the Solvang Century at the beginning of March.  For your sponsorship, you get to be a preferred Donor Guest at Pork-a-Palooza III.

Sponsorship is simple - go to

Thanks again and let's get started.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Black and Tan

The Black and Tan promptly arrived at the table along with the chocolate milkshake that Rob ordered. We've been to Fenton's many times over the years and while I've enjoyed their Banana Specials and Saddleback Brownie sundaes, for me, the Black and Tan was always the best. I looked at the sundae and remembered.

Rob and I had made it a regular routine to have dinner once a week. Usually we were at the Hopyard for Pint Night, but not this night. I had suggested we go to Fenton's when I got home from work. I didn't have to explain it or convince him; he knew why I had chosen this place. As soon as we arrived, the memories of countless visits started coming to mind. I introduced Sherri to Fenton's before we were married, 30 years ago. Rob mentioned that his first memory of Fenton's was his third birthday party and he remembered the train cake that mom had made for him.  I remembered how Sherri would always order a sidecar of hot fudge with her sundae because she couldn't get enough chocolate. We remembered how Sherri would eat ice cream; her dish was always clean because she would treasure each spoonful.  That's why we were there, to remember.

The interesting thing about memories is that you can't control what brings them on. It can be a song, a smell, a picture, a dessert, a comment, or any other random prompt.  We chose Fenton's because we knew it would prompt good memories, warm memories, and that's what we wanted.  Rob and I talked about the usual current happenings in our lives along with our recollections. I wasn't as talkative this night as I kept more to my thoughts.

I remembered the sound of her voice.  I could hear her cheerful tone. I remembered her greeting on her cell phone, "Hi.  This is can't come to the phone right now, but leave a message and I'll call you back...pause...bye".   You know, I listened to that answering machine message dozens of times over the past year.  I would call, listen, hang up, and call again - sometimes 4 or 5 times in a row. Sometimes I'd leave a message, simply saying that I missed her. I remember every inflection of that message but the one that stands out the most was the last word - "bye".  It was how she said it that stood out to me.  She said it with haste and a downward inflection, as if she didn't like saying goodbye and wasn't really comfortable.

A year ago on Easter, Sherri said to me and Rob, "it was a perfect day".  The juxtaposition of that day with the day that followed has been very hard for me to grasp. My friend Scott and I have discussed this and tried to rationalize it. I like his explanation that maybe she had taken us as far as she could and it was someone else's turn.  He also said, "think how lucky you were to have that last perfect day.  You got to share it with her. In a way, it was like her last gift to you."

As we finished our sundae and milkshake, I thought about that last day.   As I paid the bill I remembered a funny incident when I paid the bill for our last breakfast on Easter morning a year ago.  I laughed and told Rob the story of how I inadvertently gave our waiter $10 instead of $20 for a $15 bill and suavely told him to keep the change. Sherri and I laughed at my mistake and embarrassment; the waiter was quite understanding. Just another random memory prompted by a familiar experience; I consider myself lucky.

As Rob and I left Fenton's, I thought about how I could remember every moment of that final day Sherri and I were together.  For a person that didn't know how to say goodbye, she said goodbye in the best way she could. I love her for that.

One year.