LONNA & ME

Lonna and I can now share the opening segment of the Year End Pages going forward, as a team. It only took 29 years and finally getting to retire, to get here. But who's keeping track?

The photo was taken at our 26th Anniversary Dinner at The Ocean Club at Easton Town Center.

SO THAT'S WHAT A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP FEELS LIKE

In our new lifestyle, there is one big difference: no alarm clock dictating the beginning of our day. Over the years, Lonna was telling me I was sleep-deprived because I was sleeping about 5 to 6 hours a night. "I'm fine" I would respond, but the truth is, I was sleep-deprived. 18+ hour days were the norm in my life for many, many years. The first time I went to bed on a Sunday night knowing that I did not have to be up at 5:30-6:00am to go to work the next morning, I slept for over eight hours.

So when people ask me, "Now that you're retired, have you ever wondered how you got everything done when you were working full time?" My answer is always, "Yeah. I didn't sleep!"

I now never see the hours of 5:00 or 6:00 more than once a day, with one exception that you'll learn later in the page. I typically see the hour of 7:00 twice a month, because of church. I sometimes see 8:00 twice a day, but ignore it the first time I see it. Most of the time, I do see 9:00 twice in one day, but there have been times when even that one snuck by me.

GETTING USED TO IT, SORT OF

Lonna does well with retirement in the spring, summer and fall, but winter is still a challenge because she can't do the things she loves doing, nearly all of which are outdoor activities. She's working on ways to compensate but still hasn't quite got a handle on it. However, she is quite content with just me working, with These Guys Live. What's not to like, right honey?

OUR NEW ANNIVERSARY

Lonna and I retired on the same day - Friday, October 29, 2021. But it didn't really feel like retirement until the following Monday, when we did not have to go to work. Instead, we went to breakfast, late in the morning, at First Watch in Worthington, OH. And, we've decided this is going to be an annual event. So here's the 1st Anniversary of what we hope will be many!

I'M YOUR ONLY SQUEEZE, RIGHT? HONEY?

Retirement has certainly lightened things up in our household with a newfound sense of humor.

 

VIENNA, CAMERON, TALYA & ADAM

Vienna is now ten years old (Sep 28) and Cameron is nine years old (Christmas Day). That I now have a grandchild in double digits is really hard to believe.

STILL GETTING CALLS

Adam's Rent the Delorean business is still getting booked, even after nearly 9 years. It's hard to believe that a movie made in 1985 is still loved that much so many years later.

When Adam first bought the Delorean in 2014 and had it renovated to look exactly like Back to the Future's Time Machine, he was fairly confident that in 2015, the car would be in demand, since 2015 marked the time, in the movie, when the car went into the future 30 years.

Needless to say, 2015 was a banner year for bookings with the car. But oddly enough, subsequent years have exceeded 2015's demand. And to this day, Adam is still getting calls for the Time Machine.

GONE VR

Adam has become a creator with Oculus/Meta Quest VR and has several videos that can be seen in 3D. The technology is amazing and so is the 8K, 3D camera that he bought to be able to record in this fashion. If you have an Oculus/Meta Quest VR headset, check him out.

Adam booked an event that wanted the guest of honor to enjoy the Time Machine's VR Experience, which would also have been the machine's maiden VR run. The plan was to also have the guest put in a plug for a future commercial. As the evening went on, the event planner said that a ride in the Delorean would be enough, even though they paid for much more. By the way, the client's name is also Adam.

TEASER

The Official Journey Documentary Volume Two was released on December 28th! It covers the years 2010-2020 of Adam's life. He had to re-create his 2010 look so that he could talk to his 2020 Adam. (That's why you see him with very different looks throughout this year's page.)

Although I know the story well, it was very exciting to see how he told it. This film will be marketed with The Official Journey Volume One as a set. The story is heartbreaking in the years 2000-2010 and then there's a complete turnaround from 2010-2020. These are a must-see for those who want to be in the entertainment industry because they show all the ups and downs - and there's plenty of them.

Here's the trailer.

 

FINALLY!

In last year's page, I explained why the family could not come to Columbus right after Christmas (2021) for their visit - the airlline cancelled the flight on the day of the flight! (Thanks, Spirit Airlines). So, they opted to come this year, during the kids' spring break for about eight days.

They flew in on March 18th and stayed about 9 days. It was a great visit!

 

On the plane to Ohio.

After a day of rest, we head to a Barnes & Knoble bookstore.

Not sure what Cam got out of visiting the bookstore, but as long as Mario is with him, he'll go anywhere.

A couple of days later, we had a visit from my cousin Denise. (Based on Vienna's look, I'd say she was tired of being photgraphed, and... what's with the hair, Vienna? )

The kids took some time to play a little basketball with YiaYia.

 

The next day, it's off to Easton Town Center. LegoLand was one of the priority destinations. I think Cam has a fondness for blondes and Vienna knows it.

While the girls went window shopping, Cam and I took a walk around the center.

The event of the day (March 24th) was Vienna getting her ears pierced.

We also went to a "Glow Putt" mini golf course. Definitely a new experience for Lonna and me.

With only a couple days to go, we were visited by Adam's cousin, (brother Nick's daughter), Andrea. Nick stayed out of the pictures, but handled the photo-taking duties for us.

The next day, we visited the local Cat Rescue which is very close to where we live. The grandkids have two cats, so this was a lot of fun for them.

The whole family came out to see These Guys Live. It was an indoor gig and their seats were very close to the stage, so the volume bothered them a little at first, but they acclimated. You'll notice that Vienna seemed very subdued. It turns out she was not feeling well, but we didn't realize it until the next evening.

 

Even the following morning, when I watched a Disney feature with both of them, she seemed fine. But later in the day and into the evening, she was very sluggish and not feeling good.

They decided to take a chance and go home anyway. Fortunately, by the time they were on the plane, Vienna was fine. And then, just like that, they were back home, in their own beds, with their own cats.

The plan now is for Lonna and I to visit everyone in California next year. Here's hopin' we can pull it off.

ALEENA, GRAYSON, BROOKE & KENNY

Brooke & Kenny have been together nearly 6 years. They still live about five minutes from us in Clintonville (North Columbus), just south of Worthington. They want to buy some property with room enough for a home, a separate building for a shop and maybe even another building for all Kenny's motoroized "toys."

Brooke's two children are Aleena (age 10 in December) and Grayson (age 9, February 2023). It seems that Kenny is really great with the kids. They have matured quite a bit with him in their lives and they really respect him. This is not to diminish any of Brooke's parenting skills, which are second-to-none. They absolutely love their mom!

Lonna and I have had a few opportunities to get to know Brooke and the kids a little better over that last year or so, including having them over for a cookout in the summer. We really enjoy their company. Brooke has a great sense of humor and Aleena and Grayson are a joy to be around.

The whole family had the opportunity to see These Guys Live in August at Buckeye Lake. Amid a constant drizzle and sometimes rain, the kids still managed to have a good time. The video was shot by Brooke, who, fortunately, was able to get Grayson to go out and dance, even if it was for only 15 seconds. This is a kid who is normally not shy at all. Aleena, on the other hand, said this was her favorite song, so she couldn't wait to get out there.

 

Aleena and Grayson are each about two months younger than Vienna and Cameron. My hope is that they will meet someday soon.

Kontras Performance is now in its fourth year and doing very well. Still lots of long hours, but some of the projects they've taken on are not what you might think. True, they still do work on new and newer cars, but once in a while, a real gem is brought in.

This year, Kenny had the opportunity to work on a very rare 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt. These were experimental cars. Only 100 were made - 49 with 4-speed manual transmissions and 51 with automatic transmissions. Today, these cars sell for an average of $162,664 in good condition. This particular one is in great condition! The owner has it insured for $300,000.

Lonna and I visited the shop in August. Kenny was helping us by trimming the feet from our patio table so that it didn't sit so high. The chairs we have for it came with a different table, but that table's glass top actually exploded while we were away from home one afternoon. This is what we found when we returned. After doing a little research, we learned this was a common problem with these tables.

There were three cars in the shop that day, including a beautiful 1968 Pontiac GTO that was having major work done. (You can see Lonna in the background talking with Kenny.)

Here's a list of all the work that was done to the car.

And here's me, just doing...well... nothing. But hey, I'm GOOD at it!

Kontras Performance held its first Dyno-Day promotion this year.

TWO-SCHOOL CONCERT

Early in December, Aleena was in her first school concert playing viola and singing. Two elementary schools (Indian Springs Elementary and Clinton Elementary) participated so the concert had to be held at the Dominion Middle School, a 100 year old building that was originally built as North High School in the 1920s.

 

CLINTON ELEMENTARY

 

INDIAN SPRINGS ELEMENTARY

 

DOMINION MIDDLE SCHOOL

This was the first public concert held by these two elementary schools since 2019. To say there was a great response is putting it mildly. The two parking lots for the school were full and cars were parked along a good portion of the one mile long main street, and down all of the nearby side streets. It cannot be overstated how much these kids wanted to be a part of something big again. The parents' enthusiasm was very heartwarming.

Aleena is in the 4th grade string section and also in the choir.

Special thanks to Kenny and Brooke for the close-up shots you saw in the video.

 

DAD

Dad passed away peacefully, in his sleep, on January 26, 2022 from complications with COVID-19. David was with him and said he actually passed on the 25th, just before midnight, but was not pronounced until a few minutes later. He had just turned 91 years old nine days before. Like many of you who have lost loved ones, we too will miss him greatly. This is his Memorial Tribute Video.

 

 

BROTHER NICK

Nick got COVID in January. Here's how he told me.

No, he wasn't delirious when he wrote this. That's just Nick's humor.

Nick has been a car enthusiast since his teen years. He had never been to Kontras Performance, so we went together one afternoon. He was very impressed with the cleanliness of the shop and the quality of Kenny's work.

He was not able to attend Dad's funeral, so he and Adam had a little FaceTime chat in the studio on February 6th. According to Adam, the discussion was about Route 66. Apparently, Nick is planning a cross-country drive. Here's a brief excerpt.

As usual, Nick and I still get together every 4-5 weeks for a quick coffee or lunch. Here we are on October 12th at the new Tee Jaye's Restaurant in Clintonville.

 

This is my 10th year performing at Unity, playing piano and singing once a month and for the past year or so, handling the live streaming duties once a month.

I know I've said this many times in the past, but it's always worth repeating. Our church is a Unity Church and is based on the teachings of Jesus. It's primarily centered in the New Testament and focuses on Practical Christianity with a way to apply this practicality in everyday life. There's no fire and brimstone or talk of us as being sinners, etc. God, in whatever form you believe, is the spirit within us to do good, not some white-bearded man in the sky judging you when you get to the pearly gates. Please feel free to go to the church's YouTube Channel and view a few messages from our Minister, Joanne Blum. They are short, succinct and very beneficial for everyday living. Her husband is Joe Lambert. Together they provide the music on some Sundays and Joe handles the live streaming duties on nearly every Sunday. Sometimes, he has to do both! To learn more, please visit the website.

This year, I've had the wonderful opportunity to perform with a young lady named Lizzy Miller on many occasions. She is a super talented vocalist/actress, and an even nicer person. Here's a clip from a Sunday morning performance August 8th.

To learn more about Lizzy and see some of her acting talent, please visit her website and go to the YouTube link at the bottom of the page, or click here for her resume.

On occasion, Joe, Joanne and I perform together as "The Unitones." The song selections are well known spiritual songs by Karen Drucker and others, and usually just a run-through that morning is all the rehearsal we need. Both Joe and Joanne are seasoned performers.

The UCD Men's Dinner continues to thrive. It had it's largest attendance yet on October 19th. This is a great group of guys! Paul Wesner (in the red jacket), the Board President, organizes it once a month. Notice the "These Guys Live" t-shirt I'm wearing. (I try to never miss an opportunity to promote the band. )

 

YACHT ROCK DANE & THE SMITH BROTHERS

Before Casablanca, his LP on Columbia Records and Spotify, before Jesus Christ-Superstar, and before Jeff & Dane, there was The Smith Brothers... for a minute.

Yeppers, that would be me on the right in the b/w pic. Back then, I'm sure every mother warned their teenage daughters about guys that looked like us especially if they were musicians! When others looked at that picture, they just assumed we were part of a drug cartel.

But I digress.

After touring with Jesus Christ - Superstar in 1971, Dane and I tried putting a duo together in early 1972. It didn't have much of a chance to succeed due to geographical reasons - he lived in Mansfield and I lived in Columbus. I did not own a realible electric piano at the time, so in order to perform publically, we had to either rent or borrow one. As you might imagine, this became very cumbersome.

The photo was taken at the home of Sally Marzetti (of Marzetti Salad Dressings), who was an agent/manager of sorts. The idea for the name came from a brand of cough drops called "Smith Bros' Cough Drops," which were very popular back then.

Eventually, Dane, working with a management team, went to New York and California, and in the process, met many big names in the industry. I stayed in Columbus and went on to perform with the groups Eddie Ray & Co, Colours, Livestock, Reflection, Smith 'N' Kontras, Four Old Guys, Powerline and currently, These Guys Live.

While on the Jesus Christ - Superstar Tour together, we did have the opportunity to record in Nashville, at Ray Stevens' Sound Lab, late at night. The whole story is on my 1971 YE Page, but here's what we did with just guitar, keys, drums and vocal. BTW: The drummer was a 19 year old named David Malloy who went on to become a very well known songwriter and record producer.

Fifty years later, in June of this year, I get a call from Dane. We met for lunch at a restaurant just off I-71, somewhere between Columbus and Mansfield, where he lives with his wife Pam.

Unfortunately for Dane, his debut Columbia Records LP, "Casablanca," only sold about 100,000 copies, which was very surprising since there were so many big names on the project. People like Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), Steve Gadd (Chick Corea), Larry Carlton (4 time Grammy Winning Guitarist), Don Henley (Eagles), John David Souther (Eagles), Timothy B. Schmit (Eagles, Poco), Steve Lukater (Toto), Ernie Watts (2 time Grammy Winning Saxophonist) and Mike Porcaro (Toto), among others, helped to make this an excellent recording, but it just didn't catch on.

Moving forward 44 years and thanks to Spotify, a whole new generation has now streamed/heard the title track, "Casablanca" over 1,100,000 times! Dane has over 48,000 monthly listeners of this LP. Here's how "Casablanca" sounded back when it was first released on vinyl.

There's a big push for what has now come to be known as "Yacht Rock" which is causing a resurgence of the music from the artists that were popular back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Dane's music falls directly in this category. Earlier this year, his management company approached him about creating some new material to compliment the 1978 LP and see if this could generate some buzz that would lead to some new exposure and even some performances.

That's where I come in. He has asked me to co-write new material with him. It's a slow process because he can't just drive over to the studio on a whim since he lives in Mansfield. And although I'm retired, he is still managing his rental properties, which eats up a lot of his time.

It would certainly be a pleasure to perform the music from the LP along with some new, co-written material with him. Here's hopin' things progress in 2023.

 

THE PAINTER

Lynda McClannahan and her husband, Joel Knepp, have been good friends for nearly 15 years. They perform as a duo in church and Lynda has also given the message on occasion. In addition, I worked with Lynda in the In Spirit Band during the First Saturday Chants, for nearly 10 years. She and Joel are true vocal and instrumental talents.

But this segment focuses on Lynda. Her paintings are unique, colorful and sometimes a bit controversial. This past year, Lonna and I attended her first gallery showing and it was a huge success. She was asked to do the mural on the wall of the building as part of the showing.

 

A GREEK AND A FRENCHMAN WALK INTO A BAR...

Denis Poirier and I were the last iteration of the original group, "Reflection." Earlier this year, I contacted him to say hello and we decided to meet for lunch. The title is indicative of our life on the road in the early 1980s. We walked into many, many bars, to perform, of course.

As you can imagine, the conversation included lots of good memories from 1980 to 1983. It's hard to believe it's been nearly 40 years since we performed together. You can learn much more about those days at the historical website for Reflection. Here's how we sounded on our final night together in 1983.

 

WE ARE NOT PROMISED TOMORROW

I only worked at the Gordon Flesch Company for a little over two and a half years. But during that time, I made good friends. Because of the culture at GFC, having good working relations with your co-workers was very easy. Everyone there made it their mission to help everyone else when the need arose, from the owner and CEO, Tom Flesch, on down.

Jackie Shultz was no exception. In fact, she was the quintessential example of the company's culture.

One morning in November, Jackie, a Senior Sales Executive, Sales Team Leader, and board member of the Gordon Flesch Charitable Foundation, did not show up for her weekly team meeting. When calls were made to see where she was, there was no answer. A call was then made to her husband, Jason, a high school principal in a nearby small town. He immediately rushed home and found her alone, non-responsive, on the couch. She was rushed to the Emergency Room at the OSU Wexner Medical Center and passed there a short time later. It appears she may have had a stroke, but no autopsy was performed. At only 42 years old, she leaves behind not only her husband, but four children as well.

I took this photo at our 2019 Annual Christmas Dinner and Employee Recognition Event.

Taking pictures was a hobby of Jackie's, and there was no better time than a company event.

Over the 16 years Jackie worked for GFC, she developed very good, long-lasting relationships with all her customers, some of which are very large companies. Filling those shoes will not be easy for GFC.

 

 

I've worked with companies and individuals for more than 30 years, producing quality video and audio recordings. In addition to these production services, I provide small website building and maintenance, graphic design, analog-to-digital transfers of reel-to-reel, cassette and VHS tapes as well as vinyl records. Please visit us at www.StudioArtistsColumbus.com where all the services are discussed as well as prices and testimonials from customers.

Feel free to contact me directly: michaelkontras2009@gmail.com or 614-561-8577.

 

FIFTEEN YEARS AND COUNTING!

2022 marks TGL's 15th year on stage and my 11th year with the band. Things are getting back to normal post COVID. As of today, November 30, 2022, we have over 30 dates on the books for 2023!

And thanks to Marty Brasington, our drummer, and owner of Code Monkey Design, TGL has a new website which brings us into 2023 with a some flare!

JUST A FEW WORDS

These Guys Live is just another semi-local cover band with a few very fortunate exceptions. These exceptions are the members.

I'll start with Mike Keller, the founder and original member. His contribution has been immeasurable. He not only handles the guitar work with such grace and skill, his work behind the scenes keeps TGL a relevant, sought-after band. Mike handles all the social media posts, all the emails, a good portion of the bookings and the all the accounting. That's a lot of work, to say the least, and he does not ask for one penny more than what the rest of us make.

The voice of the band, on and off stage, is Michael Doctor. Both he and Mike Keller have been with the band since its inception. I was told once by someone that there are plenty of good singers out there, but after a few songs, they are not that interesting to watch. "Your singer is fun to watch. I'm not sure what it is about him, but he keeps you interested." Maybe it's his smile or his shaved head, or both. But obviously there's something there. Doc also handles the majority of the bookings and has developed long-term relationships with all of our buyers over the years. So many of the engagements we now book are people calling us. That's what having a good "A" type personality on and off stage does for TGL.

Flint Vasher is on bass guitar and lead vocals. He also provides us with an excellent rehearsal studio that enables us to record both audio and video, at no cost. As good a bassist as he is, his "hidden" (though, not anymore) talent is singing. He has a vocal range that really compliments Doc's, especially in alto ranges, and the two of them can literally trade lead vocal parts, with no drop off in quality. He is very generous with his time and has also invested in the In-Ear-Monitor (IEM) System that benefits the entire band by making what we hear in our ears consistent from one gig to the next. This is a blessing beyond measure for any band.

As I mentioned above, Marty Brasington is our drummer. To say he's an exceptional drummer would be a gross understatement. He is a Berklee College of Music drummer. He is also a drumming instructor. Marty provides the band with its heartbeat: rock solid, never wavering and always "in the pocket", which makes playing music with him very easy. We were heartbroken to lose him in 2018, when he decided he wanted step away from playing live music. Then, in early 2021, the opportunity to have him re-join the band arose, and we were ecstatic. He is the energy behind the music in TGL.

TGL rehearsals are closed to the public, but here's a rare glimpse at us during our first run-thru of "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas in August.

PUTTER TALK

Ever wonder what band members do after rehearsal? Now you know...

 

 

 

 

"HEY, DID I TELL YOU THIS STORY?"

I'll pre-empt this segment by saying that I really do enjoy listening to Lonna tell a story, but she does take the long way home sometimes. I found this diagram online and when I saw it, I thought OMG, this is Lonna! To be fair, she does come by this genetic trait honestly, because there are others in the family that tell stories the same way. (You know who you are.)

 

T-BONE ANYONE?

I'm the guy who, when looking for a parking spot at the grocery store, parks at the very far end of the lot, away from cars and carts, in an attempt to keep the car I'm driving from getting any "dings" in the body. I know it sounds extreme, but I like my cars to look as good as possible for as long as possible and walking across a large parking lot is certainly not a bad thing. BTW: I give Lonna's car the same care as I do mine.

My current car is 1.5 years old and has around 17,000 miles on it. The car before this one I owned for 21 years and it had nearly 250,000 miles on it when I sold it.

On October 20th, Lonna and I, along with another couple we know well, were invited to dinner at our minister's home. We arrived first and I pulled back into the driveway, up near their garage so the other couple would have plenty of room to park near the back of the house as well, since the evening was going to start with some munchies and wine on the back patio.

PLEASE NOTE: I am purposely keeping real names out of this segment because we are good friends with the other couple and I do not want to embarrass them in any way. They were mortified when this happened.

When "Pete" and "Judy" arrived, only Judy joined us on the back patio.

"Where's Pete?" I asked.

"He's coming in a few minutes," Judy responded.

"Did he drive separately?" I asked, wondering why she was being so vague.

"No, but he's doing something and will be here in a minute," she said.

What Judy was too embarrassed to tell me was that Pete had T-boned the passenger door of my car. She didn't want to tell me, she wanted Pete to tell me.

Pete finally came back to the patio, stood over me and said, "Uh, Mike. I hit your car while I was backing into the driveway."

I laughed and said, "Yeah, right." But the look on his face told me he wasn't kidding. When I walked back around to the driveway, here's what I saw.

Needless to say, I was dumbfounded and heartbroken. And I know that Pete was beside himself as well. I did my best to pretend that it wasn't a big deal, but I'm sure I appeared mentally distracted for several minutes after I saw the damage.

My biggest concern was the huge inconvenience this would cause. Even if the insured calls his company the very next morning, which Pete did, it's always a hassle to get an estimate from the insurance company and the body shop, send pictures to the insurance company, and deal with their adjusters as well as with the body shop.

"Doors are hard to come by right now," the body shop supervisor told me when he did the estimate on November 3rd. And, the shop was backed up for over a month. The earliest I could possibly get the car in was early December. He said that a repair like mine would take about 10 days.

I did not hear from the shop for nearly a month so I started calling them on a bi-daily basis beginning in December. They were not returning my calls.

Finally, on December 14th, my call was returned and I learned that an appointment was originally scheduled for early December. But the insurance company failed to email their estimate to the body shop, even after sending me their check for that estimate on November 22nd. Because the shop did not receive the estimate, they took me off the schedule.

THIS DESERVES A RANT, DON'T YOU THINK?

How is it that in the "Age of Communication," people don't communicate? People whose job it is to follow through and complete a process, simply can't or don't do it. They don't call you back, even after leaving several messages, they don't email you with the information you're seeking or they don't text you and let you know the status of your situation.

If the body shop didn't receive the insurance company's estimate in a timely manner, they should have called me long before they took me off the schedule and given me a chance to follow up with the insurance company. At the same time, the insurance company should have sent the estimate on November 22nd to both the body shop and me. Or, when I received the check in the mail, there should have been a copy of the estimate in the envelope as well. I could have easily scanned the document and emailed it to the shop right away.

When I found out what the hold up was, I immediately called the insurance company and asked them to email their estimate to both the body shop and me, while I was still on the phone. Once I received the email, I called the shop to confirm they received it. They scheduled me for January 4, 2023. Rant over.

To summarize: an accident that caused damage to my car on October 20th, will finally start to be repaired two and a half months later, and hopefully, won't take more than 2-3 weeks. Getting parts may be the next hurdle, but I have no control over that, so there's no need for my input.

 

IT WAS BOUND TO HAPPEN

The text above is how I let the band know about my situation. Practice is very important to us and having to cancel because of COVID was disappointing.

Lonna and I were at our (somewhat) monthly card club gathering on Saturday, April 23rd. We had a great night. Lots of good food and conversation but mediocre Euchre. LOL

I woke up Sunday morning and had symptoms that we now know were COVID related. Because I had my annual physical scheduled for the next morning, we decided to test me Sunday evening. If I tested positive, I would use my annual physical as way to communicate my situation to my doctor via live stream. If I tested negatvie, I would simply reschedule the physical for another time.

As you can see, I tested positive. My doc put me on meds right away and by Thursday, nearly all of my symptoms were gone. Unfortunately, Lonna got infected on that Wednesday, and although she was prescribed the same meds as me, her recovery took a little longer.

Fortunately, we were both fully recovered within 2 weeks.

 

 

THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG

I'm actually giggling a little right now, seeing Adam with readers. All I can add to this "Golden Years Moment" is what I said above.

 

NO STRANGER DANGER HERE

We came home from a walk one afternoon in July, to find a family in our driveway.

 

 

CLARITY FOR ADAM

Snow came in early February and this put supplies of ice melting products in high demand. Our local hardware store was selling out of the stuff the same day it arrived on the trucks.

This presented a problem for Lonna and me because we had run out of our "Ice Melt" earlier in the week and the front walk defintely needed to be de-iced again. The mail delivery personnel are not required to deliver mail if the path is not clear and ours was treacherous.

Lonna called the hardware store to see when the next supply would arrive, and they told her not until Friday morning around 10:00am. She called back on that Friday, February 4th, and learned that the truck would be late, arriving at 12:00pm. She paid for some "Ice Melt" in advance by credit card over the phone and she was told it had to be picked up by 1:00pm or it would go back on the shelf.

Adam, prior to the three of us walking to the hardware store, video recorded a different take on our little trip down the street. I felt the need to insert some clarity into his video for the record.

 

You'll notice in the video that Adam waits outside the hardware store (because he didn't have mask), and starts whistling a melody. The next segment shows how we turned that little melody into a short instrumental.

 

THE HARDWARE STORE SONG

Adam and I had not recorded a song together since November 26, 2010, on my 60th birthday, so getting to work together in the studio again, after 12+ years, was a lot of fun. Here are some excerpts.

 

 

A BREAKFAST SMILE

I've never had breakfast food smile at me before. I almost couldn't eat it. Almost...

 

"I'M SURE THERE'S NO KROGER IN HEAVEN."

I'm the person in our household who goes to Kroger, usually twice a week. One of the last times Lonna offered to go to Kroger for me was on November 29th. (If I can remember the actual date, you know this didn't go well.)

She came home and said, "I will never offer to go to Kroger's again. I hate that store!"

"Why? What happened?" I asked.

"Nothing. I just really don't like that store. I promise you I will never offer to go again."

Later that evening, as she was getting ready for bed - she typically goes to bed earlier than me - I said I was sorry that she didn't have a good experience at Kroger. She went on to say that she likes Trader Joe's, The Fresh Market and Whole Foods. She's sure these stores are in Heaven, but she is quite certain Kroger is not.

 

WELL...CRAP! (BUT NOT REALLY...)

I know it's my civic duty. And honestly, if it wasn't in the middle of December, I wouldn't mind at all. But once I went through orientation, I realized this was a good time to serve. Some courts do not even hold trials with only two weeks left until Christmas.

My brother David is the bailiff for Judge Michael Holbrook, so he gave me a good idea of what to expect. According to David, typically, about 300 people are sent summons, about 100 are actually able to honor the summons, and from there, about 24-30 people are pulled for a criminal trial and about 16-22 people for a civil trial, to start the voir dire process. Because of the time of year, the chances are good that any trial that does go forward, will not go beyond that week. (The Dec 12th-16th).

The summons was to appear at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas at 8:00am on December 12th.

And report to the Jury Room.

Once you put your badge on, it's official. Then you kick back, read, watch TV, eat a snack or whatever else you want to do until (and if) you're called.

The process takes more time than I imagined, but the Jury Managers were excellent at making us feel comfortable and keeping us informed every step of the way. There is a kitchen with two microwave ovens and a very large refrigerator for those who pack their lunch. The area in the back of the jury room is set up for eating with tables for four, two or one.

On Monday the 12th, after orientation, the first group of 24 prospective jurors were selected for a criminal trial, one of three that were scheduled. They went through voir dire and 12 plus 2 alternates were chosen. The others were asked to return to the jury room and become part of the jury pool again.

At around 1:00pm, a second group of 24 were selected for another criminal trial, but later that day we learned that the trial was not going to take place. Apparently, a plea agreement or some other request from either the prosecution or the defense to cancel or delay the trial took place.

On Tuesday the 13th, another group of 24 were selected for yet another criminal trial. As with the first group, a total of 14 were picked and 10 were brought back to the pool. Then, a bit of a surprise: apparently, the judge whose criminal trial was either cancelled or postponed on Monday, was assigned a civil case that required a jury.

At 11:00am, I was one of 22 selected, for a civil trial, to go through voir dire. The questioning started with the judge, then the plaintiff's attorney and finally, the defense attorney. The entire process took about an hour. We were dismissed for lunch at 12:05pm and told to return at 1:15pm. At that time, they had us enter the courtroom, but changed the seating assignment. The 10 people that were selected were seated in the jury box and the rest of us were seated in the gallery because we were being dismissed. But unlike the previously dismissed jurors, we were told that we had completed our civic duty and to report to the Jury Managers who then took our badges and gave us a notice stating that we had served. I was on my way home by 2:10pm.

I have to say, that other than having to get up at a ridiculous hour - 5:30am Monday, 6:00am Tuesday (can you tell I'm retired?) - the entire experience was very pleasant. We were treated very professionally by everyone involved.

And this is as it should be. Everyone in that building knows that without people willing to serve as jurors, we would not have a good justice system. Even with all its flaws, it's still the best in the world.

 

A "HALLMARK" MOMENT?

Lonna was hoping this would be a tree-lighting ceremony like she watches on the Hallmark Channel. Well... it wasn't. But it was a first for both of us, and I'm glad we did it. The kids that attended surely enjoyed it.

Lonna told me afterward that we can now write that off as something to do next year. But, knowing her, she'll look long and hard for one that doesn't disappoint. And, knowing her, she'll find it. But until then, here's some excerpts from the Clintonville Tree-Lighting Ceremony sponsored by the Clintonville Rotorary.

 

 

MY VR WIFE

While Adam was in town in late January and early February, he and I not only worked on music together, but he and Lonna tried playing a little golf in VR world.

She had a much better experience with Beat Saber.

 

 

REELIN' IN THE YEARS

This has nothing to do with Steely Dan.

I finally had the opportunity to digitize all my reel-to-reel, cassette and VHS tapes. What a project! There were so many memories on these analog tapes and now these memories are quickly accessible. Turn on an external hard drive and there they are, in chronological order. It's time's like these when I am so thankful for today's technology.

Although I still own a reel-to-reel tape deck, two cassette tape decks, two excellent turntables, three VHS tape recorders and an 8mm projector, (all in very good condition), without the software to convert these formats to digital, none of this would have been possible. Some of these tapes were over 50 years old! I was very fortunate that they held up during the conversions.

 

ICE CREAM TRUCK!

If you lived in a neighborhood that had lots of kids, then chances are, you experienced an ice cream truck coming down your street many times during the summer months. That familiar jingle stays with you for a lifetime. And sometimes, you get to re-live that experience in your 70s, at the same house!

 

 

THE FLORIDA MAN

If your a candidate for President of the United States, and the party you represent uses Rupert Murdoch's Media like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post, you would expect them to carry your announcement on the front page.

Not so with "The Florida Man's" Announcement. It was a small banner at the bottom of the front page with the story on Page 26.

 

 

THE WALLS ARE CLOSING IN

During a conversation with Adam in early November he said, "The America I believed in is gone. We've crossed the Rubicon."

I don't want to believe that just yet, but maybe I'm being overly optimistic. Now that the "Orange One" has offically annouced his 2024 Presidential Campaign, things could get a little crazy. But I'm also seeing more and more people from his party finding ways to pull away. He will not have the same effect on the country as he did in 2016.

With major legal problems in Federal and District Courts in New York, Washington DC, Georgia and Florida, he may very well not be able to finish his campaign, and people around the country know the walls are closing in. One step in this process was the final meeting of the January 6th Committee on December 19th and the release of their report on December 22nd. Here's what Liz Cheney had to say.

Another step was the release of his taxes to the January 6th Committee. This was a three and a half year legal battle and our Democracy won. They were also released to the public on December 30th. The cases against him in New York deal with tax fraud and insurance fraud. Both are federal cases.

 

While it is true that an indicted or even a convicted person can run for President, they can't if they have been sentenced to jail time and/or house arrest. With what's going on in the four states I mentioned above, here's hopin' the walls will close in fast enough for this to happen.

As for our country, I think we're exhausted. We just want a functioning House and Senate that is working on solving real problems and making laws that protect our citizens and our democracy.

The insurection on January 6, 2021 was a major event that should never be allowed to happen again. We can and should make laws that protect our election process. On the other hand, investigating Hunter Biden is just a chest-thumping waste of time (and money) that does nothing to protect our country and move it forward.

And driving with this bullshit on your vehicle doesn't help either.

Still think he should run for President? Then by all means, feel free to get grifted... again.

Now that we are nearing another Presidential Election in 2024, I am reminded of the man who became President, against all odds. There were plenty of haters, to be sure, but they did not prevail. During his campaign, his wife said that those predicting his political demise were underestimating him at their peril. And she was right!

I long for the day we have another man or woman in the Whitehouse with the good character of this man. With his integrity. With his passion for this country. With his unwavering belief that we really are a work in progress, striving for a more perfect union. It does not appear that there is someone on the horizon with these qualities. I sure hope I'm wrong.

Now, more than ever before, our country needs a unifying President, who walks their talk, and leaves no doubt about the quality of their character. Is that someone out there? We'll find out.

 

 

NEON ICON PART TWO

It's still located at the corner of North High Street and Morse Road in North Columbus, OH.

And... it's still not working. I'm not sure what the delay is, but the Tee Jayes building is gone and there is nothing going up. The reports are that Chic-Fil-A is going in along with other businesses, but as of December 1st, when this photo was taken, there's been no activity.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY "DODO"

This familial connection may take a minute to explain. Lonna's brother, David, is married to a wonderful women named Nancy. Her parents are Dan and "Dodo" (her real name has not been revealed... yet). They also, are wonderful people whom I've met on a few occasions. We learned in December that Dodo will be celebrating her 80th birthday!

David and Nancy's daughter, Abby, was putting together a birthday video for her grandmother and asked that we all send a video birthday wish. If you know me, you know that just doing a quick, simple birthday video is not my style. Instead, I used the Studio Artists facility to create a video that includes me doing something I've never done on video before: play the guitar.

 

 

DRIVIN' MY LIFE AWAY

I'm not sure how Eddie Rabbit's song ended up being the title of this segment, but here we are. We visited the "3 Ls" this past summer and fall. And one of those "Ls", twice. Here's how the summer and fall went, in chronological order.

MARCH - NORTH CAROLINA - THE FIRST "L"

Lonna's good friend, Linda Winters, and her husband, Don Campbell live in Charlotte, NC. Linda owned Hunter's Florists in Reynoldsburg for many years, and this is where Lonna met her. This meeting pre-dates our first meeting, which Linda was there to witness, at a small restaurant in Gahanna, Ohio, where Lonna, Linda and another friend were enjoying some wine at the upstairs bar. (I had stopped in to support my musical partner in Smith 'N' Kontras, Doug Smith, who was doing a solo gig that night for a family event. And the rest is history.)

Don and Linda showed us around town. We were only there for a little over two days, but we crammed a lot into that short time.

Here I am shooting a little pool at the Apex Building Club Room in South Park, NC, which is where Don and Linda live.

The view from a South Park balcony. The city in the distance is Charlotte.

Dinner at the Bulla Gastrobar, also in South Park.

This was one of those moments I couldn't resist. We were on our way back from dinner. I have no idea what that yellow thing is.

Don and Linda were able to get tickets for us to the Nnenna Freelon Concert at the Mint Museum. A couple they know were not able to attend, so they gave the tickets to us. Nneena has been nominated for Best Jazz Album of the Year at the Grammys 7 times! Eventually, they will give her that award. She has certainly earned it.

 

We managed to get a quick breakfast the final morning and then headed back to Columbus. A whirlwind trip, to be sure. We promised Don and Linda we would stay a little longer next time.

JUNE - PENNSYLVANIA - THE SECOND "L"

Lonna's sister, Linda, and her husband, Gary, live in LaPorte, PA. They own a very nice cabin in the woods on a nice-sized wooded lot. It's very secluded and private. Year's ago, Lonna's family owned a cabin near Gary and Linda's and when she and her siblings were growing up, they would go there every summer, and often twice in a summer.

While we were in town, Gary took us on a tour of all the areas that were very familiar to Lonna and her sister, but had not visited in many, many years.

This was her great grandparent's home in the late 1800s. It is still there today and very well maintained. BTW: The drawing is by a very good friend of Lonna's, Trina Simpson, who used an old photgraph to reproduce it.

This is why Lonna loves Northeastern Pennsylvania.

We enjoyed a late lunch at a very nice place called the Pier 87 Restaurant in LaPorte. The photo with the bear was mandatory. (Kidding)

JULY - TENNESSEE - THE THIRD "L"

Lonna's other sister, Lissa, lives in Collierville, which is a small community about 25 minutes east of Memphis, with her husband John. Their son Nick also lives nearby. As we were approaching the last hour or so of our drive in, we received a call from Lissa, who was saddened to have to tell us that John was exposed to COVID a couple days before our arrival. He and Nick were eating dinner at Nick's place and Nick started showing symptoms within 24 hours of that dinner. because of this development, we all thought it best if we did not stay at their home as planned.

We booked a room at the brand new Fairfield Inn just outside of Collierville for that Monday night. After speaking with Lissa the next morning, we decided to stay at the hotel until Lissa and John got their COVID test results back. We did NOT want to turn around and drive back 10 hours after just getting there. We made the best of a not-so-good situation and had a good time.

We enjoyed lots of time at the swimming pool. The temperature reached 100 degrees on two or three days, so the water, although warm, was still very refreshing.

I can't remember the last time I was in a swimming pool, but it sure felt good!

During our stay, we went to an outdoor theatre and saw "Grease 2" that evening, which was not nearly as good as the first "Grease" but had its moments. We also attended outdoor concert in downtown Collierville. The band on stage that evening was, ready for this? The Wolf River Rednecks. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

A great nighttime view of their backyard.

Enjoying their time together.

Finally, on Thursday, Lissa and John got their test results back and both were negative. So we packed up everything that night and moved over to their house Friday morning.

The next morning (Saturday), we had a leisurely breakfast, and then packed everything up (again) and headed home. We might have stayed longer had I not already been scheduled to handle the live stream duties at church that Sunday.

NOVEMBER - TENNESSEE - THE THIRD "L"

For years, Lissa and John had always wanted Lonna and I to come down for Thanksgiving, but we couldn't because of time constraints. This year, that changed. Since the trip in July didn't go quite as planned, we decided to go to Memphis again.

The title of this segment is starting to make more sense now, isn't it?

Lonna and I arrived on Tuesday, the 22nd, in the evening after what was about a 12 hour drive. It's usually only about 10 hours, but we stopped for an extra long time to eat a late lunch and walk a little. That caused us to hit Nashville at rush hour. OMG! We could have walked faster than the cars were moving, seriously. Once we were west of Nashville, things started moving again and the only stop we made was for gas.

On Wednesday, John and I took his "new" 2014 Porsche Boxter for a spin. I say new, because it had a little under 9,000 miles on it when he bought it. We went for a spin first so I could get used to the clutch (it's a 6-speed) and then Lonna and I went for a short drive around the neighborhood.

I did not know this about Memphis.

As a gift to me for my upcoming birthday, Lissa and John treated Lonna and I to a night at LaFayettes Music Hall to see Jason D. Williams in what can only be described as a performance very reminiscent of the show Jerry Lee Lewis used to do. There is a rumor around Memphis that Jason is the illegitimate son of Jerry Lee, but he neither affirms or denies it.

On his newly released CD, "Lucky 'Ol Son," on the first track entitled "Who's Gonna Play This Old Piano," you hear a very fragile Jerry Lee introducing Jason and bringing him up to play a song. (This may be how the rumor got started.) Click on the CD cover below to hear the track.

The next day was Thanksgiving. John and Lissa's son, Nicholas, joined us for a great meal. He and I shot a little pool in their upstairs TV room after dinner.

Friday was a shopping day for Lonna and Lissa with John and I tagging along. We went to downtown Collierville. The Christmas decorations were nearly all set up. A perfect environment for a pic.

Then came Saturday, my birthday. Other than the Ohio State Buckeyes losing to Michigan by over 21 points, the day was great. After watching the game, I played pool with Nicholas again and later that evening, we celebrated my 72nd birthday.

The next day we saw a black deer in the back yard. That was a first for me.

It was a great visit. And fortunately, the drive home was about 2 hours quicker.

THE THREE "L" REUNION THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN

The idea was to have Lissa come to Columbus in October. Visit their niece, Angie, and her dogs in Celina, Ohio for an afternoon and then leave the following day for Pennsylvania to see their other sister, Linda.

But, Linda informed Lonna and Lissa that there was a family related issue with COVID so they were not comfortable going with the possiblity that either of them could be infected. Instead, Lissa stayed in Columbus for a few days and spent time with Lonna shopping, going to their home town (Marysville) and just enjoying the colorful fall season.

Lissa attended church with Lonna. Before the service, our Minister, Joanne Blum, had a little time to chat with both of them.

We also walked around the neighborhood to see early Halloween decorations. As you can see in the video, some of our neighbors really love Halloween.

 

 

"NO. REALLY. I WANT TO GO TO THE CORN FESTIVAL."

Linda and Don, who we visited earlier this year, came up to Columbus in August because Don wanted to go to the Millersport Corn Festival. If you knew Don even for just a day, you would shake your head and say, "Really?" Apparently, it had been 15 years since his last visit and he was missing it.

We decided to go on the first day, Wednesday, the 31st, thinking that there wouldn't be too many people there. And, if we arrived about a half hour before they opened the gates, we'd get a decent parking spot.

Yeah. Right.

A drive that normally takes about 40 minutes, took over two hours! The line to get into the festival was out to the main road in Millersport and beyond. And then there was the parking fiasco, which really needs no details from me - use your imagination. We finally get there, walk around, and eat popcorn and corn-on-the-cob, which, not surprisingly, was very good.

As a balance to their visit, Linda wanted to go the the Columbus Museam of Art. Portions of the museum had been renovated and some of the artwork was very unique.

Although their visit to Columbus was brief, I was able to give Don the full 360 degree VR experience. He's watching former President Obama and former First Lady, Michelle, giving a tour of the White House in 3D.

The former President is sitting right next to you in a chair in the oval office. Imagine sitting there, and being able to look all around you at everything in that office, as if you are there, with the Presdient. It's an indescribable experience.

If you haven't experienced Virtual Reality, I highly recommend doing so. You will not be disappointed. It is truly amazing.

 

HISTORY HAS CAUGHT UP WITH ME

Not that I'm famous by any stretch, but I have been active in the music community in Columbus and Central Ohio for a long time. That's me sitting at my Fender Rhodes Electric Piano with The Dubonnets in 1967. And, that's me, second from the right, earlier this year, with These Guys Live. I hope this continues to be the great ride it has been so far.

The Ohio Historical Society had an amazing collection of 1970s memorabilia on display this past summer. So much of what I saw brought back many good memories.

Here's a few pics from the day Lonna and I visited in July.

Kudos to everyone who participated in getting this exhibit completed. It was a wonderful event for the Ohio Historical Society to create.

 

GIVE ME MY WALKING STICK!

Lonna decided she was going to earn a walking stick. In order to do this, she had to visit six different state parks each month for the three months (a total of eighteen state parks) of December, 2021, January and February, 2022.

This sounds easy enough, until you realize... WAIT! We're in Ohio! It's cold out there. But she did it! She had friends walk with her on some of her visits and I walked with her on four, I think. (She'll correct me when she proof-reads this whole page.)

Here's some excerpts from the day she received her walking stick.

 

 

50 DEGREE DROP!

We woke up to 5 inches of snow Friday morning, December 23rd. The temperature went from 44 degrees to -6 degrees overnight! I guess this means a White Christmas!

 

TWO OLD TOYOTAS (A LOVE SONG)

Writing and recording music is my number one passion. Performing music is a very close second. These two passions have been a part of me for nearly 60 years. Each time I write and record a song, I grow a little, I learn more about myself and, I push myself a little further out of my musical comfort zone. Music defines who I am.

This song idea came to me in 2019, but it wasn't until I retired that I was able to develop it and finally get it recorded.

 

 

"GET OUTTA HERE"

We had to record this year's video a couple days after Christmas. We had planned to record it on Christmas Day Eve, but by the time we got around to it, it was too late in the evening and we just didn't have the energy. So this was done on the 27th. You'll understand the title when you get to the end of the video.

 

 

 

Keepin' it warm for Santa.

 

 

 

 

They are growing up so fast! Next year, they will both have ages in double digits. Hard to believe!

Lonna and I can't wait to see them next year. Oh, and Adam and Talya too.

Thanks for taking the time to read and watch my year end page.

Have a great 2023!

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