Monday, January 21, 2008

Sweet FiOS

It took the Verizon guy SIX and a HALF hours, but we have FiOS! Can you smell it? That's the sweet scent of high definition cable channels. We just finished watching American Gladiators in high def (yes, I LOVE AG... that Wolf is crazy!), and now we can do cool things like look up the gladiators' real names because... wait for it... we also have an internet connection! Oh internet, how I missed thee...

Now I'm off to watch something that I couldn't see previously with our rabbit ears.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Clayton Millard Frank, 1911 - 2008

Tough weekend. We officially moved into our house last Friday, and then my grandfather died on Sunday. He had been in and out of the hospital for about 10 days, and he was in some pain. For some reason, I was convinced that he wasn’t going to die now. I thought he was too ornery. But after receiving a three day pain patch, he went peacefully that morning. Although I am tremendously sad to have lost him, and that I didn’t get to see him once more, I am relieved that he is no longer in pain and that he can be the kid at the family table again. Several years ago, before his sister died, he commented that he was running out of relatives. I’m now grandparent-less and I understand. Here’s what I said at his funeral:

Someone once told me that the reason there is a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren is because they are each closer to another life. It’s a reincarnationist’s theory, for sure. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I follow that particular philosophy, but I do believe that the people who are special to us, those that really matter and have a tremendous impact on who we become, couldn’t be in our lives via random happenstance. Somewhere in the grand plan, the people who belong together find each other. This is why I believe that this man, Clayton Frank, was the perfect grandfather for me because he had the qualities that I needed to learn in order to become the person I am today.

Papa liked to work with his hands. He had a very nice workshop that he liked toodling around in. Many didn’t know that he owned a patent, on a clamp he developed while working at the Defense General Supply. Even though the clamp never went into production, I don’t think he cared. He just liked being inventive. He built a desk for me for school, and a wheelbarrow for my son Clay. Some projects turned out better than others. He seemed to always be working on a lawn mower. In college I rented a house with some friends, and he gave us a lawnmower to use. Unfortunately, to get it to start you’d have to do something crazy, like stand on one foot, stick out your tongue, lean WAYYYY over, and then pull the cord. It would cut half the lawn, die, and then we’d call him and he’d drive an hour to bring up another. He was always generous, with his time as well as his things. If you needed anything, you’d only have to ask. He taught me that being loyal and generous were better than anything else, and I’m grateful to him for many things, but for that especially.

Definitely not the most eloquent eulogy, and it certainly doesn't do justice to the man that he was, but I found myself speaking unexpectedly. The day before I had drafted something for the minister to read (also not the best thing I’d ever written, but hey, I was not in the best place emotionally), but it became clear at the gravesite that he couldn’t read what I wrote. He was also having a bad day, and the service he had just led was evidence to it. I didn’t want his bad day to turn my grandfather’s final day into crap. So Mike (bless him) asked the minister right then and there if he’d mind if I read what I wrote. He didn't. And I did.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I knew they served some purpose

Well, of course.

h/t Mopsy


I’m pleasantly surprised that a few of you have missed me! How sweet! It’s very gratifying to hear from friends who enjoy these pedestrian musings of mine… thank you!!

Life is chugging along here in Pittsburgh. We’ve purchased a house, a 10 year old colonial in a good, but HUGE school district that is only 20 minutes from my work. We couldn’t be happier with a house even if we’d built it ourselves. Closing on the place was, of course, full of awkwardness. But so what else is new? Home sales and purchases for us always seem full of drama. No exceptions this time. Our seller’s husband died 5 years ago and for some reason even though the house was paid off, she took out a line of credit on it 2 years ago to build a smaller place in the neighborhood. Then, she put our house on the market, where it SAT for two years and four realtors. We’re not sure if she never got the price she expected for it, or what, but I guess when our offer came through in November, she took it. And from what we hear, it was much lower than the original asking price from two years ago. Fast forward a few weeks to closing, and I guess the sentimentality, regret, whatever all kicked in, and that coupled with the realization that she was getting hit with lots of fees for closing out her credit line, and she was one angry, sad woman. Tears were shed at the table, and she commented that she wanted her old life back. Awkward, awkward stuff. I was pretty depressed for her the rest of the evening (because I’m sure I’d be one ticked off, angry woman if something happened to Mike). I hope she’s doing better, and maybe selling this house will help her close a chapter in her life.

On to the schools… North Allegheny has really good schools, but it’s a monstrously huge district. So big, in fact, that they’ve split the high school in half. Ninth and Tenth graders go to an intermediate high school, and eleventh and twelfth graders attend a senior high school. We must have seen 50 houses between this district and the next one over that is much smaller, but ultimately the house materialized in North Allegheny. So, we’re going to have the most well adjusted average kids, and that’s just fine with us. Mike pondered the shock kids who are “big fish swimming in small ponds” must have when they go off to college, and I agree. Plus, in big schools there are always smaller groups in which Clay and Drew will find their niche.

We’ve spent the last two weeks having carpets replaced and rooms painted, and our officially move in is fast approaching. We’re all very excited!