Sunday, September 11, 2011


I thought I had officially killed this blog but I've realized there are still certain things in our lives that need a forum inappropriate for our pleasantlivinghome blog. One of those things is Emmy. Like many fifteen year-olds she's still searching for who she is and who she wants to become. Unlike both her parents Emmy is beginning to find herself through sports. She has fallen in with a great group of girls whose focus is more on three-point shots from outside the ring, spiking the ball over the net or swimming the 100 meter breaststroke in less than 1.30 minutes. Drugs and alcohol are so uncool and the best date is going out as a group to see a 3D slasher movie.
So now every day of the week we get up at 4:45 so I can get her to her early morning workout before school starts. After school it's back in the pool for another two hours of endurance and skill training. That puts her at school for thirteen long hours every day. I'm worn out by the time Brian Williams starts tell me the Republicans have once again declared global warming is a myth and not taxing the super rich is the best way to put food on the tables of the unemployed. Emmy continues to find extra energy in this grueling routine. Even the weekends have a Saturday morning 6am call on those Saturdays that don't have a scheduled regional or conference meet.
Most of the other eighteen girls on the team have been swimming with swim clubs or on school teams for several years. Emmy's experience comes from taking swimming lessons at the "Y" when she was five and splashing around with her friends in Teagan's pond on sunny summer days in Andes. We weren't much help when it came to getting her prepared for the team. When we got the list of equipment and swimsuit needs we took her to the big sports box store here in Madison where the salespeople barely new the difference between lycra and polyester or the breaststroke and the butterfly. Virtually everything we bought was wrong. At her first conference relay meet every time she jumped in the water her goggles would slip up to her forehead and fill with water. She had a tough time. Luckily one of the other parents told us about a little mom and pop shop on the Westside specializing in swimwear where the lady who runs the shop actually fits each girl with the proper attire and equipment, kinda like Harry Potter going into Ollivanders to be matched with the perfect wand.
Last Tuesday was her first team meet where she had all the proper suits, caps and goggles. She was scheduled for three heats. Her first was a junior varsity 200 meter freestyle relay. She was the lead off swimmer against the Monroe Cheesemakers. She left that Cheesemaker in her wake and the Monona Grove JV girls pulled off a win. Her next heat was the 100 meter breaststroke. She'd never swum the breaststroke so this was going to be a challenge. There were only three girls competing in this heat. She bounded out of the pool in second place, pretty respectable for a breaststroking virgin. Her last heat was the 400 meter freestyle relay. Of the four girls on her relay team Emmy was scheduled to swim third. The first pair of girls mounted their platforms, assumed start positions and they were off. The lead girl for Monona Grove had swum an earlier freestyle event. We knew she was a pretty good freestyler and she proved it. By the end of her 100 she had taken a good half length of the pool lead. When she touched the wall it was the number two girls chance to jump in. Monona Grove's number two girl was a little tiny girl from India. If she weighed in at eighty-five pounds soaking wet I'd be surprised. Shine, that was her name, was not a strong swimmer and that was being kind. She flailed at the water with all her might but by the end of her crawl she not only given up the lead but had fallen behind by almost a full length of the pool. It was Emmy's turn. She dove in. As opposed to Shine, Emmy cut the water with hardly a wake. Her swimming seems so effortless and beautiful. By the time she had finished her first fifty she had cut the Lady Cheesemakers' lead to half a length. The crowd was starting to take notice, especially since her Daddy had started screaming at the top of his lungs, "Go Emmy, Go Emmy!" She kept going. At the end of her third length she had caught up with the competing team. The crowd was screaming and her teammates had lined the pool cheering her on. When she finally touched the wall she had not only caught up but gone ahead by more than half a length of the pool. The final Monona Grove Silver Eagle swimmer finished it off and won the heat but the real winner was Emmy. After the meet she tried to downplay her effort but a little Mona Lisa smile belied her inner ecstasy and we, her parents, couldn't have been prouder.

Friday, January 14, 2011


On January 11, 2011 at approximately 10:30 am the Sorency Mobile was taken from this earth. She served us well. Her death was unexpected. While doing her daily chores of carting family members throughout the city she was struck by an oncoming Ferrell Gas Company repair truck. Her face was ripped off like a can of Contadina peeled whole tomatoes. It was a horrible sight, bumpers and headlights strewn over the intersection, the radiator weeping fluids onto the pavement. They took her away on a flatbed tow truck, iron chains securing her broken bones against any further damage in a desperate attempt to get her the care she needed to survive but her vital systems flat-lined somewhere between the scene of the accident and Gray Bahl repair. The insurance agents showed up at our front door hours later to inform us of her demise, the bent Sorency license plate wrapped in a satin blanket.
Funeral services are pending. The family requests no flowers but donations in her name can be made to the National Association of Teal Colored Cars (NATCC).

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Today, 1/1/11, marks the launch of our new design/lifestyle blogazine. We've been working very hard at creating content we could share with all our design-curious and design-challenged friends. The writing style will remain personal and chatty with a dash of wit and a definite point-of-view. I hope you all take a look. Our beginning goal is to publish once a week. If you look at our first attempt please forgive all of our technical misfires. We pledged to ourselves we'd publish on 1/1/11 no matter what it looked like and we held to our promise.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Rick and Lee

Friday, December 24, 2010



May the new year bring all of us the opportunity to find inner peace, enough prosperity to feel safe once again, and a really good pair of slip-on walking shoes with cushioned heels.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I started this blog with the tag line jesting of already having reached the pinnacle of being over the hill. It was meant as an indictment about how we’re now riding the downside of a rollercoaster and it’s moving at mach speed. The upside of this is the thrill you get with the downward rush, the downside is the ride is over way too quickly. I thought the tag line was a bit tongue in cheek but now I think there is more truth than fiction here. Here are some reasons why:

  1. When your fourteen year-old daughter smirks at your hairless calves accusing you of shaving them and you have to explain how several decades of wearing too tight jeans has rubbed the hair of your legs. Nature’s depilatory has finally won out and now my legs are as smooth as an octogenarian’s bottom.
    1. When you take-off for the supermarket because you ran out of toilet paper and all you come home with is a box of double cream filled Oreos.
    2. When you think Betty White is beginning to look pretty hot.
    3. When you realize you haven’t changed your underwear in two days and you don’t care because you know nobody else will.
    4. When you can’t read the ticker on your 52” HDTV even with your glasses on.
    5.  When the guy next door asks your partner if he can meet his dad and the dad turns out to be you.
    6. When you realize you bought your winter dress coat in 1982 and you don’t consider it be vintage.
    7. When you walk past a plate glass window and assume the reflection peering back at you is some old homeless person wearing your clothes
    8. When you hear Phil on Modern Family refer to WTF as “why the face” and you don’t get the joke.
    9. When your partner of thirty years calls you from his colonoscopy and says they found out he has cancer.

    Friday, December 3, 2010


    The harsh fluorescent lights of the Walgreens drugstore made everyone look sick even when they weren’t. It was the Sunday after Black Friday, early evening. She was maybe in her early fifties, dressed in black but very stylish for a Sunday night in the Midwest. Her hair was dyed a soft red, not a brassy color red but the color of faded rose petals. It was unseasonably warm. She wore a black shawl flecked with platinum over a loose black blouse and black Argentinean gaucho pants covering the tops of her high-heeled black boots with the slouchy folds indicative of fine leather. She almost bent down to touch my shoulder but then she walked away, down the aisle of Christmas candy and outdoor lights. I couldn’t get up off the floor. I stayed squatting, my knees bent with my hind end resting on my heels, the box of lights clutched in my hands. I couldn’t believe there were still boxes with the image of our old house in Andes cleaving to the shelves of a Midwest drugstore. Each year I think it’ll be over, that the supply will have dribbled out and a new home will appear on the infinite rows of boxed Holiday lights, a newly crowned symbol of a Merry Christmas. It’s a simple image of icicle lights outlining the eaves of our old house shot with a star filter so the lights seem to twinkle. The picture was taken with a hint of snow on the ground at sunset when the sky seems painted with magenta and deep blue, a huge Douglas fir silhouetted in the background. Our antique white wicker furniture put back on the covered porch completing the vignette. I fight the urge to begin ripping the box apart, my fingers making deep grooves in the cardboard. The holidays bring with them memories, memories that now cut like knives on my attempted recovery. It seems as if hours have gone by. I had only come in to pick up some black and white film so Emmy could finish her photography assignment. I never intended to spend any time here paralyzed on the floor, held captive by a photo. A photo that unfolded like a scrapbook in my mind of past Thanksgivings our friends lined up the back staircase with sated smiles the snow circling around the kitchen windows. Then the harsh image of old toilets lined up across our front yard put there by a neighbor who wanted to see us gone. The joy that house gave us and the pain it had to endure all collided in that unexpected moment over a box of Christmas lights on a shelf in a holiday aisle in a drugstore in the middle of the Midwest. I found the strength to rise from the floor and make my way to the cashier. The lady in black stood ahead of me at the checkout counter. She didn’t look back at me clutching the film I had come in to buy perched on top of a box of holiday lights I couldn’t leave behind nor shake from my memory. It seemed better to purchase the memory and erase one more box from the shelf of regret and wait for a new Christmas where the past is the past.  

    Saturday, November 20, 2010


    It seems my entire family is a little short on cash these days making the holidays more worry than wonder. Gone are the days, at least temporarily, when Christmas Eve meant a room so packed with gifts the ritual of opening them would run well into the wee hours of Christmas day. Holidays were always my mom’s domain, the goal that propelled her through the year. She taught us well in the principle it is just as good to receive, as it is to give. Our personal Santa had the mysterious ability to find the exact time we tiny children were out of the house so he could fill the holiday decorated living room with packages that reached well beyond our eight-year-old shoulders. My mom would begin the planning
    (and the purchasing) of the following year’s gift parade on December 26th, not leaving a minute wasted as she boarded her buying sleigh for the next twelve months. She’d make lists of who was getting what, always making sure that everyone had the same amount of wrapped items tallied within her ruled spiral notebooks. If money was running short, it was off to the blood bank to donate a pint and pick up a few more bucks to buy what she knew we absolutely needed. Alzheimer has taken time out of the equation for her. She can no longer measure the three hundred and sixty-five days between Christmas’ and she has long ago put away her spiral notebooks, so it is up to us to carry on for her.
    Our traditions are no longer about quantity but about the importance of family and who can make the rest of us laugh so hard the tears run down our cheeks or the pee leaks onto our seats. Here’s how we’re doing it this year:
    Long ago my mom made patchwork stockings for all of us. We’ve managed to keep them and hang them on the mantle or along the staircase every year. Most them have our names embroidered on them but as relationships have changed we’ve had to go with pinned on index cards to accommodate the yearly newcomers. In deference to the economy we’ve each been given three names we’re responsible for letting our imaginations go wild devising the perfect gift for ten dollars or under. After the stockings have been opened there’s a small intermission for dessert before the real holiday giving begins.
    Here’s where we’ve instigated the anonymous gift wars known as dumpster diving. Everyone brings a wrapped gift that they either found on the street or scooped up for less than a saw buck. All the gifts are placed in the center of the room with all of us sitting in a circle eyeing the packages anticipating which are really good gifts and which are, well, not so good. We pass a hat filled with numbers. Each person draws a number assigning him or her a position in the gift selection queue. Whoever draws number one gets to select the first mystery package and either delicately or ravenously unwrap their chosen treasure. They get to hold on to the gift of their choice until it’s number two’s turn. Lucky number two makes his selection, unwraps his gift and then decides if he likes it or not. If he decides what number one got was better than what he picked he can switch with number one and hold on to the better gift until it’s number three’s turn. Now number three and all subsequent drawers have the opportunity of surveying the field after their pick and decide if they want to swap with anyone that preceded them. The exchange goes on until everyone has picked a gift and then lucky number one gets one more chance to evaluate the plethora of bounty and make the final selection. Last year’s most desired item was the hand decorated Christmas vest complete with a three-dimensional reindeer and little felt mice. The mice were courtesy of my mom’s handiwork from decades ago.
    The last exchange of the evening involves bringing all of the things you never wanted and piling them in the middle of the floor, unwrapped. The dice come out and everyone takes turns trying to roll doubles and an opportunity at snatching something off the pile whether you want it or not. The same rule applies with snatching and trading until all the refuse in the middle of the floor has been taken. Some things will make it home, some will get as far as the trash can. Other than real gifts for anyone under the age of consent the point is to laugh and enjoy what the time we have together. That’s something money can’t buy.