Friday, December 6, 2013

MMXIII Christmas Letter

                                           
What a great year! Not a lot of big news! Well, not exactly. A bunch of things happened yet we thankfully had what you might call a year where things just got better.  Hence, I’ll be brief so you can get back to eating your fruitcake.

Julie continues her academic pursuits becoming more involved at IU School of Nursing. Translated, that means she is working a lot more for the same paycheck. OK, she received a bit of an increase this year, but her first love and most important vocation continues to be spoiling grandchildren. We’re also happy to celebrate her five year survivor milestone on December 10th! Myself? I had a little adventure leasing one of the Modern Photo warehouses to the homeless who live outside all year. Enlightening? Frustrating? Political? Depressing? Uh, yes. I was so busy during the 2 ½ months I caught a case of walking pneumonia, but didn’t stop to see the doctor until the end of the ordeal. I survived and the homeless issue endures. Stay tuned. There is more to that story.

Kyle still lives in Brooklyn unless he is traveling around the country doing video productions for a number of networks. He put nearly a year of time and effort into producing a wonderful CBS show on the Army/Navy football game played in 1963, just two weeks after the JFK assassination. I’m still in the conspiracy camp. He is not. We also found him pictured in Sports Illustrated while working under the basket of the NCAA Basketball Championship game. Do I sound envious?

Joel & Jo are chasing 14-month old Liam around the house as I write. He is a non-stop re-creation of his father. I keep looking for signs of his mother’s calm demeanor, but his motor and strong will are set on MAX. Joel continues to help the growth of Pinterest while Jo continues to help her patients stifle cancer as a beloved oncologist at UCSF.

Brian, the newest taxpayer in the family, has triumphantly finished his medical training! This July, he joined an orthopedic group outside of St. Louis as their pain management physician. Brooke has been busy doing a facelift on the home they moved to in Ladue. When she finishes, she plans on having another set of twins. Just kidding Brookie. Meanwhile, Parker (6) is conquering kindergarten and exploring a career in either sales or publishing with his first entrepreneurial effort...selling a comic book he wrote. Twin sis, Finley, is the budding artist and MiMi’s (a.ka. Julie’s) best friend. They have a real bond. Harry, almost four, just has fun. He lives in the moment. He’s what I want to be. Too late? Maybe not.

Case in point, Julie & I promised each other, 40 years ago on our honeymoon as we were camping in Rocky Mountain National Park, to live in the mountains someday. Well, now we do near Asheville, North Carolina and we enjoy time there as often as possible. It is a beautiful place. So, if Julie and I are acting like Harry, we’re just living in the moment.

May all of you have your moment, too.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Now What

I've been missing. I've been busy-really busy. About three years ago I went back to the family biz after an 18 month hiatus to close it. That was not what I hope to do twenty years ago, but I'll spare you the details. It needed to be done. I thought I could do it in three to six months, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It continues.

 I filed a final tax return, paid the final invoices, continue to pay insurance premiums just in case someone came out of the woodwork with a scheme to sue me. But, the federal, state, and local governments want me to continue to pay up as we have for the past fifty-plus years. So, I keep biking (It's easier than parking a car)over to the City-County building, Indiana Statehouse, and the Homer Capehart (I met the goober during high school at the State Fair) Federal Building to show them that Modern Photo Offset Supply, Inc. was dead, dissolved, defunct, and that I am dizzy trying. Nevertheless, the "official" letters continue. I paid an invoice from the feds last month for unemployment insurance for the last two months for the last two employees. They wanted $19.45 and another tax return while proving that I was deader than the Wicked Witch of the West. I sent a vial of blood as a bonus just in case.

 Where am I now? My two brothers and I still own the real estate that will be worth something someday. My wife still continues to achieve even though all she wants to do is be a teacher. My sons are incredible. All three are doing meaningful work. Me? I'm a grinder. I made a good living doing something most people never understood nor cared about. My grandchildren are smart and beautiful. And, I am financially secure assuming I do not live to 103 years of age. I am a truly blessed man.

 Oh, my dog Wrigley loves me, too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Twenty-Ten

I’ve lived more years than books I’ve read. But, one I read this year, “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” was special. It was based on the author’s childhood in the 50’s and 60’s which incredibly paralleled my own experiences. The narrative made me laugh to the point of annoying those around me on the plane and on the beach which conveniently allows me to tell you we have been all over the place again this year. We traveled to Hutchison Island (FL) to see Guy & Marilyn, St. Louis multiple times to hold Finley, Parker, and our new grand baby Harrison-born 12/28/09, Cabo to antagonize our good friend Joey, San Francisco to experience new things with Jo & Joel, southwestern Michigan to antagonize Joey some more, north of Seattle to attempt being nice to Joey at her daughter’s wedding, Hawaii to see if Joey would actually pick us up at the airport, Napa (not the auto parts store) for an incredible weekend with Joel, Jo and Jo’s parents, St. Francis Hospital, and before the year ends, to Toronto. Now, you’re probably wondering why I have included St. Francis as a travel destination. Well, that would be the same reason you take your Ferrari to get a tune-up every time it rains. You see, Julie’s mother is 99, approaching her 100th birthday in May 2011 and she just needed to have her bolts tightened up and fluids topped off four times this past summer. When you are a high performance vintage machine, a little maintenance is required. VROOOM!

As for our three amigos, life has been kind, yet challenging for each of them. Kyle had a BIG year. He met an incredible woman in NYC named Casey, a.k.a. Cupcake, a nickname she earned at Joel’s wedding. After she finished her hand surgery fellowship, they decided to move back to her neck of the Canadian woods in August to a little town named Toronto. They just became engaged over the Thanksgiving weekend! Sorry ladies, he is our last available son. Kyle is learning the travails of being an ex-patriot and Casey is very busy starting her practice.

Oh, did I mention Joel is married? He tied the knot May 1st with a remarkable lady, Jo Chien, in the Santa Cruz Mountains! All who attended are sure that they will never again experience such a wedding and reception... which included the Stanford Dollies dancing to the Stanford “Scatter” Marching Band, a show choir routine, a bhangra dance. an amazing Kyle-produced video and lots of overflowing laughter and love. If there had been an earthquake, I would not have felt it. Jo is an academic breast oncologist at UCSF and Joel continues to do well at Google. We returned in October to spend the weekend with the two of them and Jo’s delightful parents, David & Chia-Chia, to visit Marin County and Napa. It is such a beautiful part of the country. I can see why people want to live there in spite of the taxes and the Terminator. If I had to work again, it would be a joy to work for/under/over/around either of them. It’s safe to say, “I’m not qualified”.

Brian, Brooke, and our three grand kids are doing what a family does when Dad is in his third year of anesthesiology residency. Brian works long and extra hours, their phenomenal Mom improvises and optimizes the resources they have, and the kids stay healthy while loving Mom & Dad. It sounds like a simple formula, but it has a lot of moving parts. So, if the federal government wants to find a way to fix its finances, they should call Brooke. If it wants to show it cares, they should call Brian. If the government is looking for its future, the kids will be there to straighten things out in about twenty years.

In closing, just like the Thunderbolt Kid, we have a great family, live in a great country, can freely worship our God, have great friends, the opportunity to grow, learn from our mistakes, and live a bountiful life. I could go on and on, so please read the book so I can keep this letter to one page and a 44 cent stamp. I’m not cheap, but I am German. Anyway, I gotta go. Julie is coming home soon from another easy day at IUPUI and I have so many things to do. She has no idea what it takes to run a household!


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Kitchen Remodeling


We live (when we aren't sleeping) in our kitchen, so I imagine if you are going to splurge, it might as well be where you keep your pots & pans.

My first kitchen re-do happened in 1972. I was fresh out of college and had no business getting a house, but my father helped me buy one. He had just hired me as a neophyte and he liked his salesmen in debt. Anyway, the house needed some TLC and my idea of remodeling was a gallon of paint and a couple of scratch & dent appliances. Done! How nice does a kitchen need to be to grill a hamburger and fry a breaded tenderloin?

Then, I got married. I was able to keep the genie in the bottle by buying new homes over the next 36 years which had nice kitchens, but never "the kitchen". Then, I weakened. I let the genie out to help us buy some new counter tops. The levies were breached! It became a total tear out.

After kicking the tires at a couple of kitchen "specialists" (a.k.a. "We know you have a wife and we are going to take ALL of your money") we ended up at Lowes where the corporate saying is "Let's build something together". The only thing I was building was some marital tension. Let's just say I lost the argument two months earlier when I mumbled "counter tops".

So, for the past month we have been living in transition. Julie has been packing her lunch pail heading off to the salt mine while I have been babysitting the contractors while "We are building something together". First, I need to say that everyone involved has been very nice and knowledgeable with their assigned tasks. However, this must be the industry were they employ all of the adults with attention deficit disorder. They show up late, leave frequently, forget necessary items, and generally make a German-heritage obsessive compulsive person like myself-NUTS!

We are now in our 6th week. Our kitchen is functional, but not yet finished. Most of what is left is cosmetic stuff that should be done by the end of the week. But now, the Mrs. is changing the room colors. That is equivalent to BP trying to find a new way to stop "The Leak". I'm betting BP will finish first.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Guardian Angels


My dear Mom who passed away due to cancer in 1987 believed in guardian angels. She always felt that our family had been protected by a power greater than our own common sense. Most likely she was right. Our family has been blessed with good fortune for years. It's not that we haven't had our share of challenges, but when we needed divine intervention things have worked out.

Anyway, when Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer she was needless to say greatly disappointed that she would not be on this Earth to see her grandchildren grow up. So, in her last months she promised her six children that she would be the Meek clan's guardian angel. Most people would think that was a sweet gesture and then would forget about it.

However, Mom frequently sends reminders she is watching over us.

For example, two years ago at Brian and Brooke's wedding rehearsal dinner on the beach at Daufuskie Island, a double rainbow rose up above the ocean as I was toasting their marriage. And last week, in the Santa Cruz Mountains on a perfectly calm day, as Jo and Joel stepped forward to the spot where they would become a couple forever, a breeze blew directly through them raising the veil on Jo's dress. I looked around us and nothing else was moving. The redwoods were still, the lake was calm, and my eyes were wet. Julie, Nancy, Donna and Joe also interpreted this veil-lifting breeze as Mom's presence. It was just Mom's way of telling us she was there.

The rest of the day was equally remarkable. but I would refer you to Brooke's blog at www.thethreeolives.com. She captured the moments beautifully.

Needing, but not wanting to, Julie and I took off Monday morning on separate flights (to save a couple hundred bucks) and I had the pleasure of being on the same flight as Julio and Marilyn Fernandez. I've known Marilyn since carhops were on roller skates, so we had quite a chat. Nevertheless, my flight was routine and arrived on time in Indy. I contacted Julie and confirmed she was on time in Chicago an hour behind me. When my phone rang at her scheduled arrival time I assumed she was on the runway in Indy, but that was not the case. Her plane had returned to Chicago to make an emergency landing. The plane had lost the computer that controlled the landing gear. The crew went into full emergency mode just like the "Miracle on the Hudson" only this one was on concrete. Julie thought she was going to die. But the back-up computer worked, the landing gear came down and she eventually returned home safely on a different plane.

Mom was there.

Monday, April 26, 2010

10 Things That Make Old Men Grumpy

1) When they realize that they are older than AskIndyTed
2) Women (except Mom)
3) Taxes (see #4)
4) Obama
5) Pencil-necked bosses whose only skill is producing spreadsheets
6) Rush hour traffic
7) Liberals (see #4)
8) Going to work when you don't care anymore
9) When your favorite college football team loses the BCS Championship
10)Infrequent blog posts by AskIndyTed

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blog Block

Some have asked why I haven't posted recently. Well, it hasn't been for lack of material. With taxes (property, inheritance, income,sales, VAT, etc.), healthcare reform, financial reform, government deficits (local, state, federal, and any sovereign nation without an oil well), and dog-owners not picking up their best friend's #2, I could have posted daily. But, who really wants to hear about all of that negative noise.

Nevertheless, all of these happenings have affected my mood to write. I needed inspiration, a lightening bolt, a sign from the heavens, stronger coffee...Something! I was neither depressed nor inspired. I was mired in winter, another miserable season of basketball from IU and the Indiana Tax Pirates, uh Pacers. The Colts didn't show up for the Super Bowl, but Julie's bronchitis did-twice. Personally, my life was fine, but things around me were kind of out of kilter, broken, busted, out-of-time, cattywhompus, in a fog, screwed up, and otherwise sliding sideways.

Well, it's time to fill my BVD's up with ice and snap out of it, throw some cold water in my face, and a whiff of smelling salts! What's my problem? Nothin'! I was blessed with a new healthy beautiful grandson (#3), Harrison, on December 28th. Joel is marrying a wonderful woman next week. And I have the excitement of meeting Kyle's girlfriend at the wedding (no small thing-the CIA should have such security).

So, stay tuned. I'll be baaahck!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fixing the Federal Deficit

Our politicians know the solution to our federal budget deficits, but none of them would dare be the one to say it. There are numerous ways to eliminate the deficit or at least diminish it to a level that would not mortgage the future of the financial health of the U.S.A., not to mention crippling the rest of the world's nations who are holding our enormous debt. Correcting just two well-guarded "entitlements" could do the trick.


First, raise the retirement age for Social Security to at least 70 years of age. This would affect me directly since I will be 62 in a couple of years, so would qualify for a couple of grand per month from Uncle Sam, a check me and the Mrs. would be happy to collect after sending in over a half of a million dollars in payroll deductions across both our careers. However, when Social Security was conceived, folks did not live 20 to 30 years past retirement. Most of them never saw the first check.

Second, and I will preface my statement by saying this is even more controversial, is to let people die when they are in fact dying. Did you know that over half of our collective U.S. healthcare bill is paying for the last 60 days of life with death as the outcome? That's right. Doesn't make much sense does it?

There you have it. No tax increase. No new spending. And, you would have an environment that would allow businesses to start hiring the unemployed and start growing our economy once again.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Budget Cuts

If the federal government could not print money, they would cut their ridiculous spending. On the other hand, state and local entities are finally feeling the need to prune their overgrown landscapes resulting from their own out-of-control expenditures.


Governor Daniels has sent down the order for higher education to cut $300 million. Franklin Township Schools need to trim $8 million. Center Grove Schools are threatening to eliminate music and art from their curriculum much like the sad sack IPS did last year. I have news for you. The party is over.

We can no longer borrow our way to a better way of living. The bill has come due and everyone wants a bailout. Sorry, you need to be a Wall Street banker with "connections" to get another chance at fiscal responsibility. We, finally, have to live within our means. It won't be so bad. I remember my mother telling me that the Great Depression wasn't really all that bad. She told me..."Everyone was in the same boat. No one had anything".

I still remember her telling me that you only feel left out when someone else has something you think you need. In her case, everyone was without, but they had each other. And, her family, in spite of an occasional squabble, continues to meet every year since about 1920 to talk about never needing anything except each other.