Friday, January 31, 2014

Hope Springs Eternal

Sometimes I feel like our home is one beer bong away from being a frat house. I feel our place is always messy, and the boys swing back and forth from being best pals to mortal enemies in a blink of an eye. But when I'm at my wit's end, when I feel all hope for a civilized home is lost, the boys will do something so sweet, so kind to one another, that I let myself believe I am not raising barbarians.

The other night, as I cooked dinner, Gus decided to help Niko with his reading. He was patient and encouraging, while Niko was eager to prove his worth to his new tutor.  But just in case I start to believe wholeheartedly that civilization will one day reign in my home, the line of the evening was, "Dude, don't try to guess. Sound it out."

Dude, hope springs eternal!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One Small Step...

Usually seen in dry cleaners, restaurants, and other service-oriented organizations, the lady at the bank still thought it was cute I asked for it when I deposited Alethia Consulting's first check.
A few hundred thousand more of these babies, and I'll be sitting pretty!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

That Darn Cat

If you ask the boys, Apollo is by far the most popular pet in our home. If you ask me, he's a menace.

I love his devil eyes

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Our Private Domain

One of the baffling mysteries about living in Salt Lake is how, when most of the population lives - at the most - no more than 35 minutes from some of the most spectacular, pristine mountains in the world, on any given Sunday afternoon they are our private domain.  Here's what the rest of them are missing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Finding Uncle Ted

On the eastern slope of Mount Olivet cemetery, near a large old pine tree, you'll find the grave of my Uncle Ted. There's very little to tie the headstone marking the grave to my uncle or to my family. His name is listed as Theros an abbreviation of his Greek name Theodoros. And our surname is misspelled Kates. The only other clues are the years 1922-1924, a transliterated message, "A gift from your godfather," and the smiling photo of a toddler.

Uncle Ted always fascinated me. As a child because he had passed away so young. But as an adult, I was haunted by something my grandmother had told me growing up: her son had died because he grew too fast.  But what did that mean? How could that be? Was there some form of gigantism in a family of arguably quite petite people? (I had heard that a larger than usual coffin was needed to bury him.)

Since moving back to Salt Lake I had tried to find out what really had happened to my uncle. But my attempts to find a death certificate on the State's online records site led nowhere. Then I stumbled across The Research Center for the Utah State Archives and Utah State History. After a quick call and an email they went to work trying to track down a 90-year old death certificate.

Armed only with the years of his birth and death and potential variations of his name, they started searching. After just one day they'd found his death certificate.  I quickly realized why I had never been successful in my previous searches: his name is listed as Master Theros Katex. And his parents are Mahe Katex and Alexander Mastore - a misspelled feminine version of Mastoris. I've no explanation how Mike Katis became Mahe Katex.

In that document, I learned my Uncle Ted was born on August 20, 1922 and died March 20, 1924 at 1:00 p.m.  He had been ill the last several days of his young life - the doctor first saw him on March 11th. I thought of my poor grandmother trying to care for her little boy, as well as her 6-month old baby, while (likely) unaware she was pregnant with her third child. It's strange how much that image of her hurts me.

Then I saw it: CAUSE OF DEATH: "Pneumonia - bronchial." Nothing else.

Did he grow too fast? Maybe. I don't know. I'm satisfied in believing that his tragic early death was caused by bronchitis leading to pneumonia. But more importantly, I'm incredibly grateful to have found my Uncle Ted.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Taking Years Off

I am consistently impressed with what little fear Gus shows in trying new activities. He's always the first to volunteer. He's always wanting to try something new, and to build on what he already has accomplished.  Bicycling led to a motor cycle;  skiing has grown to snowboarding; and skating led to hockey.

So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see Gus's hand shoot into the air to volunteer when, on the first day of this hockey season, the coaches announced our team didn't have a dedicated goalie so they would be looking for volunteers to take a turn playing that position.

Saturday it was his turn to guard the net. He was excited about this new experience. I on the other hand was a nervous wreck. The gear was completely foreign to me, the idea of a puck being hurled at my kid's body was terrifying, and the fact that games are won and lost at the net was intimidating.
And for the three periods and 34 minutes I paced, wrung my hands, covered my eyes and prayed for it to be over; Gus was as cool as a cucumber.  In the end, it was  a close one, but his team won 4-3. And Dad lost 3-4 years off his life!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hey, Buffo!

Many years ago, I took conversational Greek through the adult continuing education program at the community college. The teacher was simultaneously both appalled and amused to learn that my brothers and I routinely refer to each other as buffo. For the non-Greek speakers reading this, buffo is from where we get the English word "buffoon." 

It's a word that we learned from our yia yia, who used it with love and affection in a teasing manner. It's why and how we boys still use it with each other.

If that former Greek teacher of mine saw this photo of John and me - the father of the bride and the minister - at my niece Ashley's wedding, maybe she'd understand why our yia yia used buffo so liberally!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Where's My Flying Car??

If you had asked me when I was 8-years old, how I'd be spending New Year's Day 2014, I'd probably have told you that I was jetting around in my flying car, visiting Salt Lake from my home on the Martian colony!
Man, the future's a rip off! I live in Murray, not Mars, and drive a Prius not something cool like George Jetson!
But that's OK. I still had a pretty great first day of 2014 - snowshoeing with my family in the Spruces camping area up Big Cottonwood Canyon.

 Kelly showing off his courage by using snow-covered logs to cross a brook.
Come to think of it, the snows of Utah are probably a lot better fit for me than the sands of Mars. But damn, I still want that flying car!