Friday, June 27, 2008

On Vacation For A Week

We're heading out tomorrow morning for Sevierville, TN with the Gamble family for a week of R&R in the Smokie Mountains. I'll post about our trip with some pics when we get back. Have a great week everyone and a happy and safe 4th of July holiday! Take time to reflect on how truly fortunate we are to live in these United States of America and, regardless of your political position on our military action, please pray for our troops abroad who are selflessly serving, and served, our country so that we may enjoy the freedoms we have.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Meeting the Fox Family and Have You Tried This Yet?

Lindsey, Tammy, and I went to Meijer in Toledo last Friday evening and were shopping and kind of hanging out waiting for my blogging and running *dotcomrade*, Mike Fox, and his family to stop by in Toledo to hook up and meet with us for some McIceCream on their way up to visit their family in Michigan from their home in Maryland. I forgot to get a picture of our families together that evening so, I had to pirate one from their family website - hope you don't mind, Mike or Sherry. We had a lovely, albeit short, visit with the Fox family, Mike, Sherry, and their boys, Doron (6), and Matan (3), at the McD's on Alexis Road near I-75. Mike and Sherry are a wonderful couple and I'm so glad they took the time out of their long drive to stop and meet us. Their boys are adorable... very smart, active, and hilarious, as young kids oftentimes are... especially two over-tired, wound up, well traveled boys! Doron was prompt to introduce himself to me as I approached their family van, "Hi... I'm his son," he tells me after Mike got out and introduced himself. Then Mike proceeded to tell me that Matan was recently making the conversion to big boy pants to which Matan began singing the "Na, Na, Na-Na... Goodbye" song. What a hoot! So adorable! You have a wonderful family Mike, Sherry is lovely, as I figured she would be, and the boys are simply entertainingly adorable and very bright! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your long trip to stop in and visit with us! I really enjoyed our visit and look forward to more in the future.

After the Fox family left to finish their journey to their Michigan destination, Tammy had a hankering for one of the new Taco Bell Frutista Freeze drinks. We swung by the nearest Taco Bell and she and Lindsey ran in and each got one. There are two flavors, Strawberry and Mango Strawberry. Our family really loves mangos so, the girls both opted for the Mango Strawberry flavored drink. THEY ARE FANTASTIC! They are so flavorfull and taste just like drinking a blended up fresh frozen mango! Yum! You'll have to give one of these a spin if you haven't tried one yet. I don't think they're too terrible for you either, 230 - 240 calories, no fat, carbs and sugar of course, but other than that, not bad. Here's the specific nutritional info on them for the diet conscious. They're refreshingly delicious! I have to give props to our friend, Tami-Sue Evans, for putting us on to these delightful drinks. She's currently in a 12-step recovery program from her addiction to them, but we hear she has weaned herself down to 1 a day! Great job, Tami-Sue!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bedford's Community Days Parade

Today was Bedford's "Community Days" parade which happened to pass right by the end of our street and, since my in-laws live right on the corner, Tammy and I hung out in their yard for the parade. We live in a medium sized community of 30,000+ people, but it still has a small town atmosphere to it like it did when I was growing up, which I am grateful for. The parade consisted mostly of police and fire apparatus, the high school marching band, and politicians handing out leaflets and shaking hands requesting our vote, but it was still fun. We did get lots of candy! I really love the small town atmosphere of Bedford... my hometown. Here's some pics:State Police vehicle leading the start of the parade (I'm surprised the State of Michigan has enough money left in the budget to put gas in the police vehicles!)
The pride of Bedford High School (my alma mater): the Kicking Mules Marching Band! Seriously, our school's mascot is the Kicking Mules... you can pick yourself up off the floor now from your gut-retching laughter now... really... come on now... this is my alma mater you're laughing at! Stop it... seriously.

Our Township Fire Chief's vehicle - that's Tammy's Uncle Joe yelling out the window at my MIL and Aunt Rose, his sisters. He's one of our Township battalion chiefs. At one time, two of Tammy's uncles, her dad, and myself were all on the fire department. I told you it was small community. Really, you're laughter at our West Virginia-type community is starting to get on my nerves. We know we're poh-dunk and... proud of it!

The library had a Volkswagen Bug in the parade with a "Catch the Reading Bug" sign on it and the cutest little boy/girl (not sure which) in a bug outfit in the backseat who was contantly pulling on the bug visor of the lady in the front seat.

This is my station's 75' Pierce aerial ladder truck. The first time I climbed this truck fully extended was in February, many years ago. It was mind-numbingly cold that night at drill and, I don't know if my legs were shaking because I was freezing to death, even with my turn-out gear on, or because I was nervous.

This is my station's brush truck. It resonds to all outdoor/wildland-type fires we get.

This is my stations rescue unit, Bravo 1. This is our most-utilitized apparatus in the station and responds to about 1,600 rescue/medical/auto accident calls a year. I didn't get any pictures of the politicians or their *people* in their convertibles... I figured they all look the same regardless of what community you live in.
So, there you have it... a typical summer community parade in the *Smallsville* of Bedford Township, Michigan. I'm gonna go eat some of our parade candy now.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What a Difference 3 Months Make

The first pics in the series were taken this evening following a walk with Tammy and the dogs. The second ones were just 3 scant months ago in March, one of our last snowfalls. Ironically enough, I am fairly certain the last snowfall was the blustery day of my marathon, April 13th. June 2008:
March 2008
June 2008

March 2008
I like this evening's pics better. I'm just not much of a fan of Michigan winters much anymore. I'm so thankful summer is here.

Tomorrow evening Tammy and I are meeting fellow blogger, Mike Fox, his wife and sons on their way from their home in Maryland to visit their family in Michigan. I'm really looking forward to meeting Mike. He's a recent first time marathoner as well having completed the Frederick Marathon back on May 4th.

Tiger Velich

A very dear friend of mine, author and speaker, business man and entrepeneur, great husband and father, an all-around good guy that I have a ton of respect for, Jim Lange, really humbled me the other day when he included me in this post on Tiger Woods quietly fighting through his physical adversities this past weekend to win the U.S. Open Championship. I was even more humbled being in the same company in that post as the man, Buck, he mentions, who is one of the most awesome men that I know. Jim's blog is an awesome read if none of you have ever taken a look at it. He always has something challenging, yet encouraging, and uplifting to say that will bless your life. Give it a look sometime. He's listed in my Blog Haunts in my right side bar down the page a bit.

Thanks again, Jim, I was truly humbled, yet moved, by your mention of me in your blog. Keep up the great stuff on your blog. I love you, brother.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Isn't She Lovely

The above picture of Tammy, on the right, and our friend, Dianna, was recently given to me by our friend, Cindy Floyd, from a wine tasting party Tammy and I had gone to at her home a few months ago. I thought it was a very good picture of Tammy and it just struck me at how truly lovely my wife is. When we were camping over the Memorial Day Weekend one of the wives was kind of playing a game and asked the question - to which you had to give a snap answer - "In one word, how would you describe your wife?" My answer: Lovely. Tammy's response about me: Broken. ROFL! I love you, honey and am constantly reminded of how truly lovely you are to me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day Dads

From a father's perspective, I have been so very blessed. I was blessed with two beautiful, healthy girls, whom I have loved and adored from their first days with Tammy and I. Like a lot of people, I have regrets, many of which stem from my fathering, or lack thereof, during the early years of my daughters' lives as I was an immature, selfish, young father, too wrapped up in my own activities, pleasure-pursuits, and just continuing to be a child myself, all while saddling Tammy with the majority of the burdens of raising and caring for two baby girls. While they may not even have any recollection of the man I used to be, I know their mother does and... I do. I can't get back any of that time, but I can apologize for how I was and, more importantly, I can continue to allow the Lord to change my heart to the loving and compassionate father that He has been to me. I am so thankful for the blessing of my daughters, even in the not-so-great times, and look forward to our days ahead as they continue to grow and mature into beautiful young women. Thank you Lord for entrusting them to me. May I be as loving with them as you are with me. "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love." Psalm 103, verse 8.Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there that frequent my blog like Alan, Jeremy, Jim, Mike, and Tim, and all you others. May we never take the blessing of fatherhood for granted.

Happy Father's Day, Dad

The above picture is of my Dad hugging me following the completion of my first marathon back on April 13th - after waiting out in the snow, sleet, ice, wind and rain for hours with the rest of my family and friends that so lovingly supported me that day. To follow is what he wrote about my accomplishment in my Race Report post here on my blog. I'm sure he won't mind me sharing, though he is one of the most humble men I know:

"You know I am not a man of many words (that's why I married mom) but your posting yesterday was quite moving. I know we felt a lot of your pain waiting at the finish line for you. You are truely an insperation to all. You have so much faith, hope and love and it show on Sunday. I am truely proud you are my son. Love, Dad"

I can't even begin to express how meaningful his words were to me because, he's right, he's not a man of many words. But, even more importantly, I was so moved by what he had to say about me because of the utmost respect I have for him as a father, and always have, as a man of integrity, strength, and character.

In the Bible, Proverbs chapter 20, verse 7 says, "The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him." I would have to say I am surely blessed, and I pray my girls will be also someday in being able to speak the same of me in having come to live a life of integrity.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. You've been an awesome example of what it means to be a father of character, quiet strength, humility, and integrity to me. I love you!

Your grateful son,

Richard, Jr.

For my friend, Joe, who just lost his father Thursday, I am so very sorry for your loss and my heart aches along with you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Boys are Back in Town

I was in Dundee for a couple of inspections this afternoon, the town of which is right near the intersection of Michigan Highway 50 (M-50) and US-23 (there's a Cabela's store here for those of you reading not familiar with this area). M-50 happens to run up toward the the little town of Brooklyn, Michigan, which is home to Michigan International Speedway - MIS. They are having their first NASCAR race of the season there this weekend and several of the driver's car haulers were stopped in Dundee. The above trucks are Petty Enterprises.

Now, I'm not a NASCAR nut, but I will watch some races over the course of the season and will pay some attention as to who is leading in the point standings and stuff, but I couldn't tell you every driver, their car number, sponsor, yadda, yadda, yadda. I have however, ALWAYS loved the above car. I couldn't have even told you who drove it now if not for asking my dad earlier this evening... I just love the M&M logo/sponsorship! :) I did know that it is the 38 car and that it used to be driven by Elliot Sadler - who had a horrific crash in it several years ago - that I actually saw, rolling it about 14 times or something crazy like that. I am told that it is now driven by Kyle Bush. Whatever... just give me the M&M's.
Even though I am not a NASCAR nut, I am NOT a fan of the driver of the car in the truck on the left in the above photo. Even the photo of his car hauling truck was a pain in the rear to load onto this post. I don't have a favorite driver, but I do have a non-favorite. Anyway, I thought some of you NASCAR nuts out there in blog land would appreciate these pics.

When I was a kid, my best friend's parents had a cottage on Dewey Lake (they're retired there now), which is about 2 - 3 miles from MIS and we could always here them racing during time trials and races on race weekends while up at the lake on race weekends. Ahhh... memories. Oh, Lindsey (DYD) is going to the time trials tomorrow. Perhaps she'll have some cool pics to post on her blog, Lindsissweet.

The Boys are Back in Town.

Storms, Storms, Storms

We, like a lot of other midwesterner folks of late - Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio - have been battered with some pretty severe storms of late. We had some doozies Friday evening, Saturday evening, and then again, Monday evening of this week. The above pic is of when I was returning home from work on Monday evening. As many of you know, I've been quite busy with work so I was getting back late on Monday, around 7:45 p.m. and as I got further south on I-75 nearing Toledo the darker and more ominous the sky got. I was actually getting frightened with the skies I was seeing. The above picture does not do it justice as the dark clouds stretched west to east as far as I could see and they were the type that looked as if a tornado would pop out down of them at any moment. I was about 10 minutes away from home when I took the above pic. The full verocity of this storm struck about 5 minutes later as I was stopped for a train at a railroad crossing wondering where I would go should one of the trees on the south side of the road that were showering me with limbs should fall toward me in my car. Then, the skies opened up and the rain let loose. I could barely make my way toward home the visibility was so poor.

I actually didn't make it home as our station had already been dispatched to several calls so, I headed to the station to assist with what I could (I'm technically on light-duty there). We ended up responding to 17 incidents for the remainder of the evening and I didn't get home till about 11:45 p.m. Long day considering I had left the house at 7:00 a.m. Traveling around southeast Michigan in the past week, I've seen a lot of damage and a lot of trees and limbs down. They had 87,000 people out of power in Southeast Michigan for several over 72 hours. I'm SO thankful I do not work in claims any longer! Although, it is job security for those folks that are.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Quick Update

Last week was pretty busy for me. I got home from Columbus Tuesday evening after working most of the day down there. Went to a birthday get together that evening at friends', the Dillinghams, for Amy's 29th birthday. Wednesday I was in all day entering the inspections I had completed down in Columbus. Wednesday evening I went up to Oakland University with friends, Jeremy, Cindy, and Frank, to see James Taylor in concert. He, and his band, were awesome! I know to many, myself included prior to seeing him in concert, would think of him as a simple, folk-singer type, with easy-going ballads that put you at ease, but he is a VERY talented musician and vocalist. I was amazed by his voice and control over it. It was a great concert and I'm so glad I went because I was contemplating not going in order to catch up on work. The girls' last day of school was Friday. They had a half day and then both of them were off to Cedar Point - a large amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio for those of you that are unfamiliar with it. If you like rides, especially coasters, this is a must visit park for you sometime. It was blazingly hot and humid on Friday, in the mid to upper 90's, so some storm activity rolled in later in the night after Tammy and I got back from Lowe's. We were getting some stuff to do some landscaping projects this weekend around the house. Saturday I trimmed bushes and shrubs in prep for our landscape work and then we had a couple of graduation parties to go to. Sunday after church - which we were blessed to have our new pastor speak at today (he is not officially starting till August and, completed his first marathon two weeks ago at the age of 41 also! Woot, Pastor Dean!) - Tammy and I worked in the yard all day, again it was excruciatingly hot, reworking the front and side of our home. We got most of what we wanted to complete done and then the weather turned ugly again. So, there you have it, my week in a nutshell. I know, big, wordy, nutshell.

Have a blessed week everyone!

Monday, June 2, 2008

WOW! A New Post!

For those of you that check my blog with any regularity, my apologies for the slothiness (word?) of the blog in the recent past. We went camping at Pokagon State Park in northeast Indiana over the Memorial Day weekend holiday and then when we got home Memorial Day on Monday, I backed the trailer into its resting spot at home, unpacked, Tammy got some laundry done, I re-packed, and then headed down to Columbus, Ohio for work Memorial Day evening. Whew! The pic is of the south side of the City of Columbus taken from the balcony of my company's apartment building I have been staying in for the last week+. I had to come down to help out our Ohio staff because business down this way has been much busier than up my way in the Detroit-area. I still get all of my assigned work up there while I am down here though so, I am, and will be hopping for a while playing catch up. It's been great though as I love coming down to Columbus! It's a wonderful city and, our office (pictured below) is in the heart of the "Brewery District" in the "German Village" area of the City of Columbus. It's a very vibrant part of the city and lots of neat things to see and do, though I haven't had much time to partake in any entertainment-type activities.

So, I have been down here for one week exactly today. I have been putting in a lot of hours, but was able to entertain Tammy (DW = Dear Wife) and Lindsey (DYD = Dear Youngest Daughter) this past weekend as they both came down to join me for the weekend. We were able to get in lots of fun together dining out at Hoggy's barbeque and then ice cream at Graeter's in Westerville on Friday night, then a trip to the Columbus Zoo (a very nice zoo to enjoy for any of you who may ever come here with *littles* or any person of any age really) and Easton Towne Center - a large outdoor shopping mall northeast of the city, on Saturday, followed by dinner at Kobé Japanese Steakhouse that evening. Both DW and DYD had never eaten at a Japenese steakhouse and both of them enjoy shushi so, that was a neat treat I was able to have them partake in. Lindsey has some really great posts with pictures over at her blog, Lindsissweet, about our camping weekend and her trip down to Columbus to visit DOD (Dear Old Dad). :) I was really greatful for them to have come down as it does get lonely in the *down times* of not working when out of town. I know... waaaa, waaaa, waaaa. I was so melancholy yesterday when they left following breakfast, I worked from the time they left until 2:00 a.m. this morning with just a quick dinner break in the evening. So, that is what I've been up to for the past 10 days or so and... that's my story... and I'm sticking to it. :)

On the running front... no running. For those of you who haven't followed my blog religiously and aren't aware, first of all - SHAME ON YOU! Just kidding... I have had a suspected stress fracture in my right lower leg (distal, medial tibia for your anatomically-knowledgeably gifted or medical-types) which I *somewhat knowingly* ran my first marathon with (which this blog was created to chronicle) with, which surprisingly did NOT make it better. So, I have been on the bench/D.L. since that date and have recently seen a sports med doc who put me in this fashionable bootie-type splint to take the weight bearing off my right lower leg to allow it to heal. Unfortunately, the nature of my work is such that I must do a lot of driving and walking - neither of which I can do whilst doning this oh so fashionable boot. But alas, I have been wearing it in my down time and I believe it is doing some good in helping my leg to heal. It is still sore in the suspected fracture site, but not like it was when, if touched, I would go through the roof like Charlie and Willy Wonka in the glass elevator of the Chocolate Factory. So, if you have been, please continue to pray for the continued healing of my leg to full restoration and that I don't do anything stupid (who me?!?) to bugger it up. If you haven't been, please do. If you aren't prone to praying that's ok too, I totally accept healing thoughts and vibes as well. ;-)

So, there you have it... Jack has been a very dull boy over the past week+ as, all work and no play - well, other than when DW and DYD visited over the weekend - make Jack a dull boy. Now, Jack has 60+ inspections to upload that he saw last Friday and today so, off to the fun stuff... I need to stop monkeying around with this blogging stuff and get back to work!

I pray you all are well! Thanks for caring enough to check in on me!

Ricky Joe

Tami Sue... you still readin'?

p.s. - I miss you Tammy, Chelsea, and Lindsey ;-)