So: The engagement and wedding day

Julie tells me that a lot of you read my last blog.  Thank you for that.  I promised to write about the engagement and the wedding.

The Engagement

I wanted to make the engagement really special for Julie.  I wanted her to remember where we were engaged, so I asked her about her favorite places in NoCal and she kept on talking about this creek near the Campanile at Berkeley that she used to read and think at.  Yes, Julie is super smart and is a Cal grad with a double major.  I landed in SFO and was headed to San Francisco, but Julie wasn’t feeling well and was tired, so we went to her place.  After dinner, I got down on my knees in her cramped eat in kitchen.  I said my well rehearsed proposal and, of course, she said yes (Psst, we are married).  We called her parents to tell them we wanted to share something with them. Her mom said “well we are going to the gym” and Julie talked her into waiting until we got there.  We grapped a bottle of Dom Perignon and went to their place.  I didn’t ask her dad for her hand in marriage since that would not have set well with Julie. When we told them our newss Her dad congratulated both of us and welcomed me to the family.  Her mom said “Cmon Dick, let’s go to the gym”. Even though Julie tried to talk her into celebrating with us, they left and so did we. We eventually came back, but that took ten years for me to care about her mom.

The Wedding

We got married in St. Lucia at a Sandals Resort.  We were married on December 7th, 1995 on a very hot and humid day.  I was sent to meet Ms. Kay Jackson in a very cold room while things were being prepared.  I noticed she was stalling and asked her what was the problem.  The Governor of St. Lucia forgot to sign our license before he left for his golf game.  She had sent someone to get the signature.  I called Julie to tell her the problem and she told me that her dad said I had decided to leave.  NO CHANCE of that happening.

For some reason, Julie decided she should wear a hat.  Now, she had worn a Cal baseball cap on the weekends when we would grab coffee, but no other type so this was out of character.  She was wearing a beautiful dress and I had a new tailored WOOL suit that was a stupid idea with hindsight.  I am not sure why she wore nylons, so you will have to ask her.

IMG_4265 Her Dad left his regular glasses on the plane, so he looked like a CIA agent for the entire trip.  Since he was an officer in the Marines it seemed to fit.

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We both wrote our vows and were practicing them during our trip. The morning of the wedding we both agreed to read them to each other as the words were important to us.  Mine was kind of long, but it did end with “you are my complement and my completion”.

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It was a seriously hot and humid day and I was STUPID for wearing a wool suit.  But even more annoying was the cheesy photographer who didn’t know when to stop.  I finally told him we were done.  I was hot and I wanted a beer.  My father in law decided he did too.  This was the last picture before we sent the photographer on his merry way.

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Needless to say it was a special day and one I never forget.  We have gone through a lot in our lives together. We have lived in two countries, had seven homes, multiple jobs but the common denominator has always been the development of our partnership and love for each other.  I can truly say that I love Julie more every day. She is a very special person and you should take the opportunity to be her friend.  She is a great friend. I know. She’s my best friend.

The years have been a lot of fun.  We have aged a bit, but we have earned every wrinkle.  Here is a more recent picture of us with the 3G network.  After the recent events in the world, I hope that you have hugged your love ones a little tighter.  I know I will when she comes home.  Thanks for reading. Bruce

family 2012

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So: modern technology

It’s pretty impressive that no matter where I am I can work. A hotel. An office. A plane. A house. They’re all the same.

Well, kind of.

While I spent today working at my friend’s dining room table and I got tons done in a 9 hour period, the thing I missed was seeing people.

Sure, I talked on the phone. Answered plenty of emails. Had meetings. Did necessary things. It was a highly productive day.

However, I found myself thinking of naps. Watching tv. Reading a book. Part of that was because it was dark and rainy. Another part was because I was tired from my traveling adventures and meetings. But truly it was because I was alone.

With no people around, I lost track of time and it was noon before I knew it. I got lots done. But I missed having people pop by to say hi and tell me about their tomatoes. Or kids. Or dogs. Or the book they finished last night. Or where they were going for the weekend.

I missed the interaction. Often it signals switching tasks for me. But today, I soldiered on from a dining room table in Toronto. And waited for a 5 year old to blow the quitting time whistle.

PS: Bruce is writing tomorrow’s post. Not sure what he’s going to say so tune in. I’m going to! I’ll be taking tomorrow off for a girls’ day break with two dear friends and will resume regular programming on Sunday.

So: oh Canada

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Bienvenue au Canada!

Last night I was so happy to finally arrive at Toronto’s Pearson Airport (YYZ), that I actually got a bit misty. Customs and Immigration only took minutes since being a Canadian passport holder let me skip to the automated machines. Whoooohoooo! The super nice officer said, “Welcome home, ma’am”  as he barely glanced at my passport. The taxi driver who drove me to my hotel was happy to tell me all about what has been built, torn down or is currently under construction since I’ve been here last. And when I got to my hotel, I received an upgrade to a nicer room. There was room service to be had and it was delicious. A fine welcome back all around.

After a great night’s sleep, a productive breakfast meeting with my colleagues, and a successful (and fun) work meeting, I headed out to meet up with Fransi Weinstein from Three Hundred Sixty-Five (seems to be a week for bloggers to meet up with each other). It was just a short walk down Bloor Street to meet at her favorite Starbucks, one with big windows, bright light, and lots of academic energy from all the University of Toronto students filling the cafe.

view from the Starbucks where I met Fransi

view from the Starbucks where I met up with Fransi—yes, that is the CN Tower

A couple of details that might help our meeting make more sense: Fransi and I were introduced to each other years ago, but when I lived in Toronto, we never met or worked together. We do know a lot of people in common. And we both work in the same business. We had a lovely chat, filled each other in on a lot of stories, shared details (like which hotel I stayed at in NYC), answered each other’s questions, and made a pact to meet up when Bruce and I come back to town at the end of May for a wedding. I even managed to get a bit of excellent advice. It’s pretty darn cool that I’ve made a friend who I’ve admired from a far for a long time.

After that I went back to my hotel to collect my stored bag and went to the nearest TTC (Toronto’s subway) station to head out to the western edge of Toronto and get picked up by my favorite five year old, my godson Ben, and his wonderful momma.

Bay station in Toronto's Yorkville neighborhood

Bay station in Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood (I also love the Hays X-Case with all the Canadiana on it)

It’s pretty sweet  to hold hands with a five year old, especially when you know that someday soon he will be too cool show much affection to his old Auntie Julie. (Well, until he turns 19 when his momma says I can take him out for his first beer in a bar.) Once we reached his momma’s car, we zoomed to their house and he decorated my sunglasses case with stickers of fancy fish and characters from the movie Cars. It is now a one-of-a-kind work of art and a very special souvenir of my trip to Toronto.

I’m lucky to be working from their house tomorrow. I have reviews to write and conference calls to do, a meeting on Monday to prep for, as well as whatever else comes my way in the course of the day. I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to be able to work from pretty much anywhere, even a friend’s dining room table in another country. And I am thankful for wifi, cell phones, and many other modern conveniences that allow me to set up shop and be productive.

Being here until Sunday (and then leaving directly for a meeting in NC) will give me the opportunity to catch up with old friends, visit places that I love to go, and have a proper girls’ day on Saturday with a ladies’ lunch and shopping. As grueling and chaotic as business travel can be sometimes, it’s opportunities like these that make me very grateful to do it. And as nice as staying in a hotel can sometimes be, give me a guest room or sofa in a friend’s home any day. Especially if their five year old promises to provide a personal Rooster-style (can’t wait to hear it) wake up call in the morning.

 

PS: Bruce assures me that the Gs and the urban farm are doing fine despite none of the Gs really wanting to go outside in the rain this morning and the temperatures dipping to 38° F tonight (whole farm operation is covered). He tells me that he is writing the blog on Saturday so please stay tuned.

 

 

So: deja vous

I need a travel exorcism.

Or maybe American Airlines needs new planes. A better maintenance schedule. A back up plan when there are mechanical issues. Something.

Right now I’m waiting at gate #3. My flight is delayed 2.5 hrs so far. Funny, I think this is the third time in a row this has happened to me.

In fairness my new pal Tom Horton sent me a lovely “I’m so sorry” email and gave me 2,500 AA miles. I’m sure he (and his marketing team/agency) think it’s an awesome PR move. I am glad for the miles, but I’m not sure they’ll be enough for some people.

Just like my hotel from last night. They left every guest a breakfast pack on their door and had Starbucks in the lobby. However, they didn’t explain why. As I checked out, every guest asked about the restaurants. And asked if their were health code violations. A terse “an investigation is ongoing” and “I assure you that the food and coffee provided was made off premises” was all the explanation offered. I still feel queasy. And I bet some travelers will make a big scene. I’m going to write the GM a note and let him know what I thought of my experience.

But lest you think I’m just bellyaching, I’m actually very grateful. My team at work is kicking ass without me, just as they always do when I take my show on the road. I was in a great city today. With people that I absolutely enjoy working and spending time with. It was a much better day than yesterday. The taxi drivers were fantastic–and told me a lot about their city.

Here are a few photos I took from the zooming cabs:

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And I’m looking forward to getting on the commuter jet to my next destination. Meeting two awesome colleagues there tonight. Meeting new colleagues tomorrow. Seeing some people who mean the world to me.

So wait I will. Patiently. You’d be surprised just how much I can get done with pen and paper and this little phone.

If you still haven’t figured out where I’m going, here’s another hint: it’s my home and native land. Ok, not really since I’m a naturalized citizen, but that’s how the song goes, eh!

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(Thanks to Bruce for helping solve the travel mystery)

So: comedy of errors

If you’re living in the U.S., you may have heard about today’s airplane travel adventures already. If you, like me, were lucky enough to have a ticket on American Airlines to go somewhere today, you probably reached your destination much later than you were intended to get there. Or you might still be at the airport waiting on your plane to arrive from somewhere else. I am lucky to be at my destination, although I arrived late.

Apparently some sort of massive computer system shut down/failure caused the problem. Even the back up systems failed. If you watch the video I posted, you’ll learn that it was a software issue. Originally we were told it was the reservations system that went down and that’s what caused the problem. But once I started chatting with fellow passengers, I found out that the problem was much worse, since the airline had taken full flights and brought them back to their gates then unloaded the planes. Or made them sit on the tarmac for hours.

I got off very lucky. When I got to DFW, I was surprised to see so many people everywhere in the middle of the day. Usually it’s super busy first thing then again at the very end of the day. I didn’t think much of it and grabbed some lunch. Hindsight being 20-20 I should have noticed that there was a disproportionate number of day-drinking business attired folks, not just the usual retirees, college kids, and vacationers who know that it’s 5 o’ clock (or noon) somewhere.

My first real indication was at the gate. When it was time to board, the staff was more stressed looking than usual. Lots of shouting into phones. Staff on their cell phones, especially smart phones. At first they made it sound like it was just a gate change to another terminal. Ok. Get on the little train and walk to the new gate. Once at the new gate, more stressed staff who explained to us that the computers were down and they weren’t sure that this would be our final gate and to sit down and wait for further instructions.

After a couple of hours, it appeared that things were up and running again. Kind of. Back on the little train to another gate. After an hour, get on the plane. Then sit on the plane until they could fill it with more irate (and honestly irrational) passengers. I 1000% get that it’s annoying to have your expectation of leaving on time and getting to your destination as promised dashed (remember my last travel tale?), but if it’s a system wide computer failure, you’re not going anywhere fast. Yelling and being a jerk will not get the planes moving faster. I sat back and watched some people at their finest and many at what I hope was their lowest since they are really rotten S.O.B.s if they can get much shittier than they were to the airline staff.

Once on the plane, grumpy passengers almost rioted when the wifi didn’t work. WTF people? Just a few years ago, planes were the only place a business traveler could really turn out and unhook from the Matrix for a few blissful hours. Today people acted like it was the end of the world. First world problems, flying public. Read a book. Look at a magazine. Talk to the people you’re sitting next to. I did and met a DJ from Finland who played at Cochella last weekend. I checked out his YouTube video from Cochella and decided that I’ll follow him on Facebook (too tired to go to his midnight show tonight). See, talking to strangers can be fun!

Being nice to the flight attendants and not complaining earned me a freebee, which I’m sure you know makes whatever you’re eating or drinking taste even better. I felt so sorry for them because they had nothing to do with wifi, computers, the flight delays, etc., but yet from the way they were being treated you’d think they pulled the plug on the Internet out of spite. Sheesh.

Once we got here, I hopped in a cab, told the driver I wanted to go. First, we ended up where he wanted to take me, a hotel with the same name but in a different part of town. I had to nicely, yet firmly tell him that I gave him the correct address and it was his responsibility to take me where I asked and that I would not pay for his mistake. Needless to say, we had a difference of opinion which quickly ended up in my favor when I told him I had written his license information down and would be happy to call in a complaint if we didn’t head off to the right hotel immediately. I also suggested that I could easily get out of his cab without paying and find another.

I arrived at my lovely hotel. Checked in. Checked in at home. (Gs are fine, but needy. Bruce was puttering.) Then since it was so late, but I hadn’t had dinner, I called for room service. No answer. The second time I called, I finally got someone. The voice told me that the hotel restaurant was being renovated (code for shut down by health department, perhaps?) and would be out of service for the next two days. No dinner food. No breakfast food. She could give me some phone numbers of local places that could deliver or addresses of places in walking distance. Um, ok. Wish they would have said something when the reservation was made. Or maybe when I checked in. Good thing I had a snack on the plane. I’ll hunt for coffee in the morning. City this big has to have a Starbucks (or if I’m lucky, a local mom and pop cafe) around the corner.

Whoever suggests business travel is glamorous lies. It has fun moments (free drinks, Finnish djs), but also annoying/scary ones (transportation situation). And like any other day that’s out of whack (mercury in retrograde again?), it’s over. It’s already tomorrow at least in this time zone. I’m still on Dallas time, so I’m going to call it a night and wake up ready for a fun day. A day where I get to see a bunch of people I usually only talk to on the phone. I like these folks a lot so I’m pretty excited that I get to spend a whole day with them. Then after that, I’m going to get on another plane and head for one of my favorite cities. I’ll give you a hint: it’s in North America, requires a passport, and I lived there for a while. So tomorrow’s going to be awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So: Mr. Rogers

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I have to be honest: I don’t feel like writing tonight. At all.

Today’s events in Boston have shaken me up. I’m sad for Boston, for the families directly affected, and for the world.

I’m about to spend the next 7 days on the road. In planes. In major North American cities. I’m going to see friends, clients, and colleagues, people that inspire me and make me better. Friends that I don’t get to see very often that I miss desperately. I’m still excited about all of these wonderful opportunities despite my unease.

So tomorrow I’ll remember what Fred Rogers taught me when I was little. I’ll be kind. I’ll be patient. And while I’ll look for the helpers, I’ll be a helper too and spread a little love when it’s clear that the world needs it most.

Hug your dear ones a little tighter tonight and send light and love Boston’s way.

So: cleaned up

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It’s a dog’s life at the Mortroski Midcentury. Much of this weekend was spent outside, going for long walks, riding in the truck, rolling in the grass and dirt. It did, however culminate in the dreaded Sunday night bath, so there are now three pouty, but clean and fresh smelling hounds in the house. Brushing will commence in the am post walk.

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It was also a weekend for getting things back to what is normal around here. The living/dining room is now fabulous with trim and a new bamboo floor. All it needs is a bit of white paint on the trim and we are done.

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As you can see from Bruce’s photos we are not afraid of color. Yet it’s all working together like we planned it. Ok, Bruce planned it.

Speaking of Bruce, he decided that the composter was not a sufficient birthday gift for me so he got me some trellises that I admired but didn’t buy. I had been talking about them for a while…

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I think the peas and beans will enjoy the pretty trellises and they will add lots of interest to the garden.

I planted the plants that Lisa gave me and shared some of the extras with my neighbor who enjoys gardening. She was pretty excited that I was sharing and I know she’ll take good care of them.

And I got the taxes submitted!

A great weekend all around.

So: safety first

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My pal that I’ve never met, Lisa Loria, suggested that I bling out the Mike Holmes safety glasses my sweet husband Bruce bought me a few weekends ago when I was using the chop saw a lot. It was office flooring weekend (carbonized bamboo) and I was worried about getting shards in my eyes especially since I got several splinters in my hands.

After mentioning Bruce’s sweet glasses gift on Facebook, my artist pal Lisa said she’d send me some stuff to bling up and girl-a-fy my glasses. One morning this week when I needed a little creativity, I got busy with the packet of cool stuff she sent:

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So my glasses have flowers now! Nice!

I have no problems using the various saws and power tools but I am so nearsighted that I do worry about my eyeballs. That’s why both the glasses and the bling were super awesome gifts

In case you were wondering what we were doing today, we had the same bamboo as the office installed in the living/dining room yesterday so I helped Bruce finish it and install trim today. Here’s what it looked like last night:

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We will continue to work on the office, laundry, bathroom but after a bit of white paint the living/dining is done! Whoohoo!

It’s been a productive weekend. I’ll submit the taxes tomorrow after Bruce does a quick review. Must pack for the week of travel. Hair’s been de-sparkled and cut. Need to plant and weed tomorrow. Paint is going to happen. Maybe a visit to Northaven Gardens is in order…

Sow: tomorrow’s planting

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I like red Solo cups. Toby Keith song aside, they remind me of good times with good friends. College parties. Housewarmings. Barbecues. Beach parties. You get the idea.

Well, today I loved those cups and their blue brothers even more. You see my coworker and fellow urban farmer Lisa used them to bring me seedlings!

Lisa repurposed containers from catered work lunches to make mini greenhouses for her seeds and nurtured the baby plants for good long while.

Today, she brought me some of her bounty and made today like Christmas! Or my birthday again (seems to be a 2013 theme)!

Here’s what’s in the red and blue Solo cups:
Spaghetti squash.
Round zucchini.
Yellow crookneck squash.
Black Diamond watermelon.
Thomas Laxton peas.
Pickling cucumber.
Marketmore cucumber.
Straight 8 cucumber.
Tender green bush bean.
Clemson spineless okra.
Burgundy okra.

But best of all, my most favorite veg in the whole wide world: green globe artichoke! Lisa, you are the best!

18 precious seedlings in all. An awesome and thoughtful gift that will hopefully turn into a bounty I can share back with Lisa and her family. Lisa’s as crunchy as me (perhaps even more so) and gently reminded me to please reuse or recycle the cups (party people: always put your recycle bin out when you use these cups).

Don’t worry, it will all get planted tomorrow. And as you can guess, there will be photos of their growth and development.

Stay tuned!

PS: You’ll want to stay tuned to the blog next week. There will be a Bruce guest post, plus I’m going traveling for work, so you never know what will happen next. I certainly don’t.

Sow: French breakfast

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The radishes are coming in nicely. This is the second batch of ten I’ve harvested this week. This weekend it will be time to replant most likely.

Remember how I said that I wasn’t sure that the seed tape I made was worth the effort? I officially have changed my mind since 1) the radishes are actually growing like they’re supposed to, 2) they’re delicious, and 3) the rows look pretty.

Even with last night’s cold weather, the urban farm seems to be chugging right along. Lots of lettuce to harvest this weekend!