Sunday, January 25, 2015

As disasters go, this one wasn't

As disasters go, this one was short-lived and so it hardly qualifies as a real disaster. But for a few minutes there, I was devastated. Sick. Disappointed in myself. Definitely not wanting to confess to the Captain.

I was driving downtown. Heading, in fact, straight to the Captain. We were going to leave my car at a Midas shop to get my oil changed and a tail light fixed. The tail light thing seems trivial but it’s really hard to access and well worth the cost of having folks with fancy tools access it.

I was turning a corner when I noticed it. Right there on my finger where my engagement/wedding diamond used to live. It was a like a tooth yanked out of your mouth. The hole was enormous. Far bigger than the diamond’s actual proportions.

Gone. Missing. Disparu as the French say.

I almost wrecked my car. I’m certain I slowed down. I should apologize to anyone who drives around me on a normal day, but for this one, I’m extra sincere.  It’s only about 20 minutes to downtown but it seemed like one of those stop-action productions where I was driving through mud or something.

For the life of me, I can’t imagine when or where the diamond escaped my hand.

I got to Midas before Jeff as he’d dropped Ali off at school.  The very sweet guy at the counter gave me a flashlight so I could try to track down the gem.

He wasn’t concerned at all. He reminded me that Valentine’s Day was coming and it would be good reason for Jeff to go shopping. Right. Easy for him to be cavalier about the thing. He wasn’t there nearly 20 years ago now when Jeff and I met Mr. Goodman and talked and talked and talked about diamonds and rings and romance.

We learned a lot about Mr. Goodman, whose shop is now part of The Conrad Hotel. For me that corner will always belong to the Goodmans. He was a sweet, sweet man who talked about his wife of 50+ years like they were still newlyweds. When Jeff got down to business re: The Ring, I fled to the mall.  I learned later that they conspired to give me a bigger rock than I’d expected.

And now that rock was not among the detritus on my Mustang’s floor. It’s not anywhere in my house from what I can gather, either. We’ve found a lot of stuff. But not that.

Back at Midas, I was cutting a hole in my bottom lip, fretting about my irresponsibility and going through the various scenarios when the ring could have been damaged to the point that the stone was released.

The Captain was great. Reminded me that we had insurance and that this is exactly what it’s for.

That helped wipe a bit of the pain, but here’s where the disaster gets pretty much erased.

Sitting in Jeff’s Subaru, I took a picture of my mangled ring. Then, we called Sam. Sam Goldstein is our Farmer’s Insurance agent. Has been for years. He’s a Libertarian, which is a lot of fun when we meet to discuss serious things like insurance.  You should be so lucky to have Sam in your contact list.

We sent Sam the photo. Sam called Kylie Renberger, an appraiser. She called Replacement Services and before noon, Tawnya Saunders was calling me, asking when did I want my stand-in stone.

Cost to me:  My morning angst and lingering unhappiness about losing Mr. Goodman’s stone.

Tawnya got the specs for my original diamond and FedXed me one to consider. We did some research and found it better than the one we started with on some key quality measures. We return FedXed that stone and my mangled ring. It’ll be fixed, the stone replaced and secured and sent back to me.

How amazing is that? Lesson here for you: If you are dragging your feet on getting your jewelry appraised and put on a rider on your homeowner’s insurance policy, stop it right now. Lynda Ruble, I’m talking to you. And your mom and Amy, too. 


You just never know when something might happen to it. If you need a good agent, I’ll introduce you to Sam. 


Sunday, January 18, 2015

You gonna eat that pickle?

 My great friend Lynda Ruble and I were at The Rathskeller for dinner Friday night. It was the last night of the Young Actors Theatre production of “Judgment: Beauty & the Beast.”
The plays are performed, mostly, at The Athenaeum, built in the late 1800s as the German Club in Indy. The Rathskeller is part of the historic offerings within the building and it’s routinely voted the best German restaurant in town. There are dozens of German beers on tap – stuff I can’t pronounce and you have to kind of chew rather than drink.
Lynda is German, so it made sense that we spend some time there after I dropped Ali off early so she could catch a prior show before her own call time.
We were seated in a section of the place I’d never been. It’s a corner left of the bar and reception area. If it’s changed since 1890, I’d be surprised. It’s really a throwback kind of place but they’re nice enough people that they’ll let Lynda and our friend Amy drink there even though they only drink Miller Lite. I’m pretty sure the staff makes fun of them for that, but they don’t care.
Lynda does, however, appreciate German food. Her mom is a crazy good cook, and there aren’t many places that Lynda would say are good or (gasp!) better than Gretchen’s cooking.
We decided to share a dinner portion (they’re enormous) of something called “rouladen.”  It features a pickle with onions and bacon nestled inside layers of tender beef.  Would I have come up with this recipe? No. But Lynda assured me that Gretchen’s was wonderful.

Transferring one of the little meat bundles to Lynda’s plate was easy.  But when I went to cut a portion of my portion, it flew right off my plate and splashed down at my feet.
Did I forget to mention it’s got gravy ladled over it?  And it’s slippery?  Oh, and it’s hot.
While Lynda was gasping for air laughing at me, I bent down, stealthy like a fox, to retrieve the meat. I wasn’t prepared for the heat.  I think I hit my head on the table when I flinched.
My fork couldn’t penetrate the thing, which was spreading into a puddle under the table. I dove back under there and grabbed it with my bare hand while Lynda sat there half horrified and half hysterical.
And yes. I invoked the five-second rule. They’re German. They keep clean floors, ya?
Even off the floor, the thing was really good. I recommend it. But make sure you have a secure grip before you try to carve off a bite.
We met Amy and Jenna upstairs, enjoyed the play and made it home without further incident. The way I look at it, if they can excuse Miller beer drinkers in the German Club, they’ll overlook a little culinary clumsiness.
In other news, our team brought home the Christ the King Trivia Night trophy and is bragging already about the three-peat they see coming next year.
I say “we” even though I wasn’t actually on the team this year. The evening is a fundraiser for the 8th grade trip to Washington DC, and it seemed only right that I offer my services to work. 
And, my vacant seat made room for our ringer, my friend Chris Austin. The last time he sat in for me was the other time the team had won the night.  The five or so other times we competed, we failed to win. Yeah. Even I can do that math.
I’m pretty sure Jeff is going to poison me the night before next year’s trivia night. If he doesn’t get me, one of the others will. I can’t say as I’d blame them.
For now, it’s time to start rummaging through the fridge to see what we have for football fare. It’s a Colts-Patriots beat down. Jeff will cheer for the Colts even though he grew up in New England.
If you need anyone in Indianapolis today, you’d better call early. The town’s about shut down for the game. Go Horse! (Sorry TeamReed Maine.)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

They're on stage, but the real action is in getting there


The year 2015 so far has been pretty awesome. Busy as a homeless beaver alone in a Redwood forest, but good.


Alison is two-thirds of the way through her latest production with Young Actors Theatre.  I know a lot of you aren’t in Indianapolis but for those of  you who are, if you have kids, you should really check it out. It’s amazing.


They’re not really building actors, though there are some really outstanding talents on display. They’re building really interesting, empowered, confident, kind, smart, funny human beings. This go ‘round, the kids (with professional direction of course) wrote the adaptations of the fairy tales as well choreographing, dancing and acting. One teen designed the costumes for each of the 180 kids in the five different productions.


To quote from the playbill, “YAT is about breakthroughs, self-empowerment, becoming a life-long learner, true education and true growth. We joke around (or is really a joke?) that YAT is disguised as a theatre, when in actuality, it is a jedi training facility, Hogwarts, or Charles Xavier’s School for Mutants.”

As we headed into the actual performances, rehearsals stepped up and we’ve been working out carpooling with our friends the Feltses. Jane is in the Red Riding Hood production while Ali is in Beauty and the Beast but their hours are similar enough that it’s worked out.  We run into Hannah Ogden sometimes, too. She and Ali are in the same show.


One rehearsal night I ended up with all three girls, and Alex Ogden as a bonus, in my Mustang. Ali and the Ogdens are practically siblings of course, but Jane has only recently been exposed to the silliness that can envelop us. We were taking the Ogdens just down the street and there was general hilarity as they piled into the car calling shotgun and arguing over who had to sit on the hump.


By way of introducing his sister to Jane, Alex told her that Hannah’s kind of a big deal. “She’s like a lawyer, almost,” he said, referring to her days as a playground kid/counselor.


Taking advantage of a rare moment of silence, Alex used his best TV announcer voice. “Oh yeah. If you’re doing something wrong, she’ll tell you to stop.”  He paused. The silence persisted.  “And if you don’t stop…” He paused again. He’d won shotgun, and the back seat – even Hannah -- was hanging on his every word.


“She’ll say ‘stop’ again,” he finished.


After a quarter-second pause, they set home alarms off with their giggles. Despite Hannah’s years of YAT and Alison’s newer involvement, Alex has zero interest in joining the troupe. But he doesn’t miss a show if he can help it. His delivery may or may not have been inspired by his years as an aficionado.


After practice Thursday, I had just the girls. They were all hyped up from the pep rally that preceded the debuts Friday. Dozens of their fellow actors were milling about and there was this energy that could have lit up the city. “I love YAT!” “That was the best pep rally we’ve ever had!” “If I had to give up sports or YAT, I’d totally pick YAT.”


Getting a word in edgewise was impossible. I just unlocked the car and listened in. The performances are awesome – thank you Jasheways for making time for the Saturday show – but the bigger, longer value is in the journey to the stage

One more example and I'll stop yammering about YAT: As most of you know, Jeff used to coach soccer and basketball. We met some wondeful people those few years, and I'll always cherish our memories of the Miller boys and their friends who so wanted to come to our wedding and ended up as one of our best photos of the night.

Anyway, Jeff was talking to YAT Executive Artistic Director Justin Wade and something Justin said sparked Jeff's memories of his coaching days. It helped that just last week, he was in the hardware store and looked up when heard someone call out, "Coach!"  It was the father of one of the kids who'd played for Jeff and Fred Miller at Immaculate Heart. 

"I don't know if you remember me," he started. Of course Jeff did and he got an update on Matt, who may have gotten more of the "My dead grandmother works harder than you!" lines during those years than some of the other boys.

This dad, from 16 years ago, talked about the impression Jeff had made on his kid who now is a professional and doing great things. Jeff will always be "Coach" to those kids and their parents. Coach in a good way.

"You're going to hear the same things hundreds and hundreds of times over," Jeff told Justin. "You're doing great work, man."


Anyway, we had a terrific holiday and it's been a great weekend. One more show to go on Friday. You have time to get your tickets or donate to a great organization....

Still haven’t gotten the chimney fixed but we’ll see what Angie’s List can do for us about that and a long list of other things we need to get to.