Category Archives: Cincinnati Reds

Sochi and Mom Visit

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Mom, my two brothers, one sister in law and I headed

out for dinner over by Crocker Park, in Westlake, Ohio.

We had decided that Max and Erma’s was going to be our

destination. Fun times, consoling and warm thoughts, along

with our being able to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony,

in Sochi, Russia were all reasons for our choice.

Max and Erma’s is a busy, pleasant restaurant which features

good food, friendly atmosphere and television screens.

One of the first topics, our little ’roundtable’ tackled

was the subject of my AWOL post. We talked about losing

someone special and the way our hectic, frantic lives and

sometimes just the winter season pressing down on us can

push us over the ledge. Susan, a professor at Baldwin Wallace,

mentioned several times in her college teaching years where

the subject of depression and suicide has been on her students’

minds. Students feel pressure, besides everyone’s outside view

of college being just for parties…

Rich mentioned how he has encountered this in his teaching

both elementary school (parents and family members being

the main ones who were overcoming challenges in his twenty

years of inner city teaching, special education.)

Randy and I talked about former classmates at our high

school, one a part of set of twins and another man who was

a brilliant genius, along with being a gentle and humorous

man. Andy C. had been on my list of ones to remember and

commemorate. His Science Club participation in recycling,

along with the way he chose a project in the 70’s to put

solar panels up on the top of the high school to ‘warm the

water’ were part of our memories. His sister, Alice, had

been in my class and Andy in Randy’s class. His death in

his fifties surprised and upset us both.

Mom told us of someone, in her family, who came back from

Viet Nam changed by his experience. Nowadays, she said,

they would consider it post traumatic stress. Her cousin,

Johnny, was an artist and a sensitive member of a set of

twins, too. He did not ever fully emotionally recover from

his war times, but did not kill himself. Family members had

wrapped him up, deciding to insulate him, and offer him

some security. His father had funded several business

opportunities and Johnny continued living ‘hand to mouth’

by creating art pieces. Some reflected depth and darkness

and others were of the Rockport seaside town he lived in.

We chose food that sustained us, but the ‘food for thought’

was what I needed and nourished on more. My brother asked

me about that ‘matchmaking deal’ that Felicia had done

with the political analyst. He wanted to know more of the

details than my blog had shared and wondered why I did not

get up and leave immediately.

First, I did feel that the man, Bill, needed to see what

he had done, realize after he spoke with me, that he had

made too quick of judgments on my family and other subjects.

I reasoned with him, filling him in on my background, which

I am never bragging about, really just proud of my parents

and brothers. I have succeeded in a few things, myself, I

wished to share. I didn’t want to let Bill ‘off the hook.’

Susan asked me why I didn’t throw a cup of Panera coffee

at him, regarding his remark about my children’s kids. I

told her, I responded back, “Well, for a Democrat you seem

to be not following the party line. Would you rather my son

not have married a single woman with 2 kids?”

We laughed about some other subjects, we grew pensive and

appreciative over our family unit that has a lot of good

qualities within it. I felt comforted and lifted up by

their presence in my life. My Mom was very witty, at times,

saying funny comments about men and women’s relationships

and politics. She also said she hoped we would stay out

long enough to see the Olympics. She expressed a wise

and simple thought, “Being the daughter of two immigrants

makes me especially proud to be an American!”

The lighting of the Olympic torch, with the ones who

were chosen to run with their own torches, moved us all.

The grand entrance with the Olympics’ theme music (or

Official Olympics’ Anthem) playing caught the table next

to ours, that had two little boys’attention, with bibs on,

eating a very late dinner!

We enjoyed the Swan Lake spectacle, the spinning dancers

with the beautiful music playing. We were very excited

when we saw the huge gathering and parade of U.S. Olympic

team members, with our flag waving. We thought the U.S.

(we don’t know what her name was but we called her this)

“Ice Angel” leading with her appearance of being a living

Statue of Liberty was very nice part of the group.

Mom and I got up early on Saturday, to get her grocery

shopping at Giant Eagle (also located at Crocker Park)

completed. The regular list always includes a certain

amount of chocolate, which had to be ‘amped up’ due to

her making bags for all the servers, mostly teens, in

the dining room. (There are about 25 different teens,

some who start with the breakfast serving and others

who run the café or dinner serving.) All have been part

of my Mom’s “emotional and well being therapy.” It is

about two full years of being at the senior living apts.

We also had to buy some Sangria, sharp cheddar cheese

and wheat crackers. We lingered around the Valentine’s

Day decorations and she was very happy that I had chosen

a singing dog, which is white with red spots that pops

out of a pink Valentine’s Day box, to be on her decorative

shelf outside her door. I asked her if she wanted a wreath

but we finally decided that the red berry decorated one

that has vines and she had stuck a President’s Day flag

in it, was adequate decorating for her simple door and

shelf. We each purchased a box of the childrens’ valentines,

mine being wacky cats and dogs and hers being Mickey Mouse

themed.

While watching the exciting and exhilarating snowboarding

later in the afternoon, we were busily writing notes to

my grandchildren (her great’s, of course) along with some

for her neighbors. She was not up to the task of bagging

candy in huge amounts but said she had almost a week to

go, and not to worry about her getting it done. We held

our breath when Sage Kotsenburg did his fantastic and very

artistic snowboarding run down the manmade slopes at Sochi.

We knew he had made it to Gold, before the scoreboard told

us, since his 4 1/2 rotations and magnificent flips were

just ‘mind blowing!’ Congratulations of the first Gold

medal for the U.S. team!

Later, after dinner, I think it was, we sat and watched,

Meryl Davis and Charlie White in their team ice dance

performance. It was part of the short dance skating

competition. Canada had a wonderful presentation, along

with France and Russia. We missed the others, having gone

to pick up our dinners “to go” from the dining room. It

consisted of chicken stir fry, mashed potatoes and

cheesecake. I liked the mushrooms, celery and carrots

in the stir fry and added more sweet and sour sauce from

Mom’s fridge.

My favorite part of the Meryl Davis and Charlie White part

was their loose and carefree style. It held tight turns,

precise movements but a commentator noticed this and called

their mood, “joie to vivre.” Their energy and passion shone.

Mom liked the fact they ‘danced/skated’ to “My Fair Lady.”

The two songs, “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “I’m

Getting Married in the Morning” were woven into their

poetic performance. I also thought that Meryl’s pink

high necked fluffy, floating short gown was beautiful

and Charlie’s longer styled blonde hair and tuxedo

clad clothing was excellently chosen, as did Mom. We

did like the all black on another couple and the way

all the teams danced/skated so well. So far, Meryl

and Charlie have ‘won’ the first part of the competition

and hope that their great ease and graceful fluidity will

earn them an Olympic Gold medal also.

There is an upcoming part of the Olympics I am looking

forward to, which includes a young woman with roots in Ohio.

She has spunk, grit, shockingly bright red hair and an

indomitable spirit!

This would be Katie Uhlaender, a member of the U.S. team of

“skeleton athletes.” They slide head first on a track built

for bobsleds! Talk about taking your life into your hands!

Her father was Ted Uhlaender, who died on Feb. 12, 2009.

He played for and coached the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati

Reds. He was also the Columbus Clippers coach and manager.

When Katie was only 15 years old, she developed a crush on

the player named, Jim Thome. I heard about this man often during

the period of the early 2000’s. Katie was born in 1984, while

my youngest daughter, who was an Indians’ fan was born in 1985.

I remember my brothers saying Thome was a great player, but my

daughter called him, “hot.”

This memory comes to me, since I look at Katie’s bright red,

short styled hair and think that she is cool looking. She has

been through a lot, including the loss of her father. The many

obstacles include a 2009 snowmobiling accident that shattered

her kneecap. She also had to have hip corrective surgery in

2011. In last October, 2013, Katie suffered a concussion while

practicing her extremely difficult Olympics’ skill. She gave

a verbal explanation that was rather poetic, saying she has

made a ‘mosaic’ of putting shattered pieces together. Katie

has come in 6th and 8th in this years’ two training runs. She

had placed in 2006, before her father had passed away of a

heart attack, after a difficult time with cancer, #6 in the

World Olympics. In 2010, only one year after her Dad’s death,

she placed at the Olympics, 11th place overall. In 2012, she

won the World Championship of skeleton sledding. She has the

Silver and Bronze medals and now, is “Going for the Gold!”

On her person, during every competition, she wears a combination

of her father’s baseball card, his 1972 National Championship

ring, (when he played for Cincy. Reds’ baseball team) and a

bit of his ashes held in a small, silver baseball.

Katie says her father was a great supportive person in her

life, “He would give me this undeniable sense of purpose.

That’s what gives me the drive of a warrior.”

Look up on Thursday and Friday, (Feb. 13th and 14th) Olympics’

schedules to watch this motivated and courageous U.S. athlete

in her Skeleton Run Competition and hope she wins the Gold!