A few more thoughts, before we leave that phase of our life behind…
We spent most of May and June in Chicago, cleaning out our home of 30 years in preparation for the close. AND visiting friends and restaurants and etc…
Our neighbors helped us with gaining a spot on the street, which entailed almost immediately an encounter with the Chicago Police Department.
No sooner had we managed to park, than I noticed a Cop Car driving by slowly. It stopped at the end of the block, and I thought – CRAP, they are gonna make us move (which would be highly inconvenient to the decluttering process). But they left, and we breathed a sigh of relief. In about 10 minutes, I saw the same car again, and this time they stopped and got out! I walked over and volunteered that the vehicle was ours, expecting to be scolded and asked to move.
Instead, the one Officer said, “What year is this?”
It took me a beat to answer, due to surprise. Then the second officer said, “Never Mind, we ran your plates…”
Now I WAS expecting handcuffs! They said they had an IMPORTANT question
(oh oh, here it comes, I thought…do I need a lawyer?):
”How did you EVER get 4 parking spaces in a row?”
I said, “Our neighbors like us!”
The first officer then said, “COOL! Can we have a tour?”
Breathing a HUGE sigh of relief, since I was now pretty sure jail was not in my future, I answered immediately, “ABSOLUTELY.” And then I explained that we would be there for a week or so, if that was OK, while we cleaned out our house. They said NO PROBLEM. They even offered to inform their desk sergeant, so we wouldn’t have any trouble!!
We also spent some time in Bob and Barb White’s Driveway. Bob has been helping us make improvements to RV WHERE YET almost since we first acquired it. It’s a tight fit in their Des Plaines Driveway, but for a week of so, a LOT of fun!!!
This time, Bob helped optimize some cabinetry, and make a space to mount the Kitchenaide that was one of the few things Liz wanted to take from the house.
While he was doing that, and to stay out of his way, I made a few bus fixes, with Maxxxx’s careful supervision.
AND, we had the sofa cushions reupholstered…making a HUGE improvement in comfort for Liz.
We FINALLY left Chicago for NYC to enjoy the Festivities and Circus of events surrounding Chet’s anticipated high selection in the NBA draft. The price of diesel gave us pause, along with the price of staying near NYC and the price of just about everything IN NYC. We were actually leaning towards foregoing “in person” and watching on TV when my sister, as she is wont to frequently do, put it all in context:
“I guess you can forego the trip until the next time your nephew is drafted #1 in the NBA. Maybe diesel will be cheaper then…”
On the way to NYC, we hung out in Cleveland for a couple days with friends Bob and Kathy Purcell, whom we met in Chicken Alaska, and have been intersecting with sporadically ever since!.
We are collecting a whole bunch of folks and friends in our wanderings who seem perfectly happy to have us show up on short notice for Adult Beverages and conversation!
So, we booked a week at the closest RV park to NYC, LIBERTY HARBOR and MARINA, which happens to be in Jersey City, right on the River and just North of the Statue of Liberty, easily visible from our spot. The park itself was nothing special –just a parking lot with electrical sockets. But the location was GR8 – about 3 blocks walk to the PATH train, and a 10 minute ride to either The Empire State Building or the World Trade Center. From there, subways go everywhere, and walking is also a great option.
And “Go everywhere” we did! My sister and family were staying near Times Square, so we got ourselves up there several times to have dinner, drinks, chat or whatever.
As expected, Sarah and David had obligations in the publicity swirl around the draft, and we only got a couple cameo appearances from Chet, but still a great time was had. A WHOLE BUNCH of folks who were instrumental over the years in Chet’s development were also in attendance – people we have met many times before at Sarah’s for Thanksgiving, at AAU basketball games and tournaments, etc. So no shortage of meals, drinks and nice people to hang with. Liz and I also managed on our own to dine on the sidewalk outside a noodle shop in Chinatown, met Sarah Claire and Alexandra at Chelsea Market, toured the Google Store, and we connected with an old friend from many work trips over the years – David Marcus – in Greenwich Village.
While hanging out, we got to experience just a little of the “Lifestyle” of NBA Society. I’ll cut the story short(er), and change a few of the details to protect the innocent, but let’s just say the Media Circus that is the Draft was a continuous wardrobe malfunction for the family (excluding Chet). The INTENTION was that Sarah, David, Claire and Alexandra were to have designer duds – anything they wanted — in order to look the part when Chet’s name was called. Not sure, in retrospect, what “the part” means, as some of the draftees wore, let’s just say, “ spectacular statements in clothing form. “ One was bright purple with diamond studs all over (and I mean ALL over — looked REALLY uncomfortable, sitting on those studs!). Another’s suit was BRIGHT GREEN. All I could think when I saw those two together were Joker and Riddler, and I was looking for the BAT SIGN over the arena.
Anyway, they (the Designers assigned to pull together the “Holmgren Look”) asked for pictures in advance of the kinds of things the Holmgrens might want to wear, and promised a spectacular, pulled-together look. The clothes showed up at the hotel with a seamstress for “final alterations.” NONE fit, whatsoever – not even close!! And NONE were anything like what had been requested in their sample pictures. Attempting a last-minute recovery, they even tried for David’s suit “off the rack” and the seamstress was expected to make it work. David is 7’ tall, and has NEVER been able to wear a suit off of ANY rack. And, they had no shoes for Chet’s sister Alexandra…claiming NOWHERE in NYC could they find what she wanted in her size…
Speaking of “last minute recovery,” my sister is kinda a self-proclaimed and generally acknowledged master of project details…she has already had to fight her inner project-management demons to learn and understand that she (and they!) have to go with the flow… That means not knowing until the day before what time, flite or even what airport they might be expected to depart from. And CERTAINLY not knowing anything about a SCHEDULE until the events are 5 mins away. This despite the Client Service Manager assigned by Chet’s Agency on Chet’s account to make things happen for Chet and his family. Like a personal Concierge, She is AWESOME, but try as she might, even she cannot control the pandemonium that is the NBA.
Anyway, with regard to the Wardrobe disaster, “Just in case” they all brought things to wear…David a spiffy suit, Sarah a tailored outfit she had from some gala or another and in Claire’s case a dress my grandmother wore in a portait that hangs at Sarah’s house. Alexandra wore a dress that Sarah had acquired for a wedding, at some point. And, Alex managed to find the EXACT shoes she requested (not like she wanted something weird — Keds High Tops!) at a Foot Locker around the corner from the hotel. So, everyone looked MAGNIFICENT.
Chet experienced NONE of that drama – he had several weeks with the designer (clothing AND Jewelery – He had quite the “bling” onboard!). So all’s well that ends well, or in this case, ends fashionable and elegant!
The Draft itself was in Brooklyn, at the Barclay Center – the NBA arena for the Nets. We checked the price to UBER from Jersey City, and decided to do the Train/Subway, instead…at least TO the event. We knew we’d be coming home in the wee-hours, and THAT would probably mean an UBER. But to save ½ overall (which in NYC would equate to ½ a tank of diesel if not ½ of our life savings, which these days is the same!), Liz put her running shoes on and we did transit.
Arriving early for the event (doors not yet open), we identified and experienced the ONLY bargain in the NYC metropolitan area – Happy Hour at a little bistro around the corner from the Arena in Brooklyn. $10.50 for 2 beers and an hors dourves. Windows wide open on a VERY pleasant day. Proprietor happy for the business (Happy Hour goes both ways, I guess!).
Because Chet had a whole platoon of folks in the house, an Executive Suite was engaged for all but the immediate family who sat at a table on the floor with Chet. The Suites had a buffet for food and drink, so the gathered masses had a great time waiting for the event.
And the event reminded me very much of an NFL football game – TOTALLY tuned for TV viewers, while being pretty boring, anti-climatic and disjointed for folks in attendance (but at least we had food and drink!). Apparently, ESPN had a ton of interview and analysis. We saw NONE of that, though our friends kept texting us things like, “Did you see what so-and-so said on TV?” No, no we did not!.
What we DID see was the “surprise” No.1 pick – not Chet – to Orlando, followed by Chet at #2 to Oklahoma City. When Chet had not yet been officially picked, we could tell sumthin was up – about 5 TV cameras suddenly made their way to Chet’s table…before any announcement was made. I don’t have ANY insider information, and I am not saying “the fix was in,” but I get a sense that Chet is TOTALLY happy where he landed, never cared if he was “#1” and TOTALLY ready to get down to the business of being the best player he can be for OKC.
Speaking of which – OKC flew the whole family out to Oklahoma City the day after the draft to be introduced to the fans, so no additional time available for us with Family – this was something expected, so we had other arrangements and plans. UNFORTUNATELY, those got derailed in a variety of ways (actually, only one way)…
We INTENDED to see Kristen Deo – a friend from many business conferences back in the day. She lives in NJ, not too far from where we were parked. On the day of, she was not feeling well; which I am going to start taking personally, because that happened again (and again) on this trip! With Kristen unable, we redirected and thought to stop and See fellow Bluebirdbrain Shane Fedeli on the way back westward, but on THAT date, he let us know his wife was not feeling well. Oh well, next stop for us, 84 PA (yes, that IS an actual place!), where friend Bruce Lane lives. Except that I had a bit of a scratchy throat, and the THIRD COVID TEST came back positive. So we passed on THAT encounter, too! All because of illness.
But now, we were headed to see Family and friends in Minneapolis, including my dad, and I had COVID! Aaaccck.
So many issues. For one, it is hard to find people who reside in closer proximity, with complete inability to isolate in any way than Liz and myself. We figured she would eventually and inevitably test positive and get at least a little bit sick…HOWEVER, Liz never tested positive and never had symptoms! My symptoms were mild (except for a 104 Fever for 2 hours), but I was testing positive – and continued to do so for a FULL 14 Days after the first positive test.
CDC guidance is pretty fuzzy on the contagiousness of people who continue to test positive by Antigen Tests (PCR tests are known to produce positives for weeks, due to harmless virus fragments). Straight from their website: “Recommended to Isolate for 5 days after the start of symptoms and then it is safe to emerge, wearing an N95 mask until day 10. However, IF you take a test during those 10 days and IF the test is positive, recommend isolating another 5 days. After which you are “safe” even though >50% of people with initially symptomatic COVID WILL continue to test positive and (also from CDC website), there is SOME data to suggest that Virus can be Cultured as long as antigen tests are positive. However, the link from positive culture to contagiousness in late stages of infection has not been firmly established.
So wait 5 days. Then mask for 5 days. And maybe 5 more days. If you choose to test. If not, just 5 days. Except possibly you are still contagious. Confused?
Who really knows? I knew I did not want Dad (or anyone else) to catch it from me. So, taking all the guidance onboard, and convening with all the spirits, cosmic forces, Tarot guidance, etc., we decided that we would remain apart from folks, and ESPECIALLY old folks (farts) such as my Dad while I tested positive.
Once well and truly negative we DID manage several visits with friends and family, including cousin Cecily, with whom we left a footlocker of Family treasures from our decluttering, and Betsy Kremser, a college friend whose spectacular home overlooking the St. Croix River made for a delightful afternoon — all the while staying at a nice State Park on the River.
We even managed to attend a Music Festival in St, Paul, while staying in college-friend Keith Cambre’s Condo parking lot. We received special and unanimous dispensation from the condo board, so long as we served margaritas, which we gladly did!
AND, we also stayed in Friend and Former Sis-in-law Julie Harris’ driveway for several days, including the City of Robbinsdale’s July 10th Fireworks extravaganza, for which Julie hosted a fabulous BBQ-and-family-and-friends gathering.
Our final idea in Minneapolis was to be dinner with my sister, Sarah, after they returned from Las Vegas, where Chet had been playing in NBA summer league games. Well, Sarah (and Claire) came back with COVID, so that didn’t happen (and you can see why I might be starting to take these things personally…too many illnesses to be a coincidence)! Chet, BTW, EXCELLED in his first games against NBA-level talent – its gonna be fun to watch the OKC Thunder this season.
Along the way, we Attempted (and attempted again) to finally CLOSE on the sale of our building in Chicago. THAT is a story of some length, not to mention import AND “You cannot make this Sh*t Up” flavour. So, I will tell it in the NEXT blog post!