Blood, Sweat and...

Last night I was standing in the back of a small, steamy bar on The Strip in Tallahassee, Florida, waiting for my youngest son and his band, Vera, to take their place on the tiny stage and play their 30 minute set.

And I was sweating.

It occurred to me how appropriate that was, perspiring and waiting to watch one of my kids do something. You probably think I am about to take off on some metaphorical rant about child-rearing and the “sweat of the brow” but that isn’t what this is about. I am referring to tangible, hat soaking, shirt sticking to your back, droplets breaking loose and rolling freely down legs and backsides sweat. I am also talking about interminable, mind-numbing, I have to quit checking my watch, I thought they were supposed to start 15 minutes ago waiting. Whether it was practices and games on the athletic field or “oh my gosh they forgot to turn the air on again in the auditorium” choir concerts, each child has taken me (please understand, this is “The Royal Me,” which includes my wife) into the cooker on a regular basis. I am sure that raising my kids in Florida has a lot to do with this (okay, it has everything to do with it), but sticky heat has been a constant in my quest to support, encourage and love the three children God allowed me to raise.

And I wouldn’t change a thing. From watching William endure August practices in full pads to Laura deciding to sit down at shortstop because it was too hot (and it was and I will never think less of her for that decision) to sweltering summer baseball games with Jordan—the misery of the moment eventually fades and what is left is a story or two about survival and an occasional victory. And, really, what is a little sweat in the Big Picture? It is why God prompted somebody to invent the hat and another sunscreen and yet another bottled water. And it is why I had to smile last night as I spotted all three of my kids (and Jul makes four) mingling, hugging and sweating in the bar after Vera finished their set. Their preparation has begun...


Go Lightly into the Night

I had a colonoscopy yesterday. Not my first and I doubt it will be my last. In fact, as the doctor reviewed my folder right before the procedure (and the various results of my six previous visits), I suggested they create a "Frequent Probee" card that I could have punched and possibly get my tenth colonoscopy for free, or at least half price. The doctor did not immediately dismiss my idea, although he only offered a possible cut rate on the cost of the prep materials. I will take what I can get.

The reason I have endured so many of these procedures is my mother and her father both had colon cancer. My mom survived; my grandfather did not. Because of the family history, my siblings and I had to start this fun at age thirty and continue it every three (or five) years, depending on results and the mood of the physician. And every year my mom apologizes to me, losing sight of the fact that her ability to actually speak to me as a living person makes my small contribution to preventive medicine worthwhile.

But this year was different. I am 50 years old and I had to rebut her apology by reminding her that, because of my age, I would have been required to schedule a colonoscopy regardless of her. She is finally off the hook and I am glad to relieve her of one third of her burden. My brother and sister, both younger, are not that far behind me (See? I waited until the third graph to make some tacky jokes... I am slowly growing up), so she will be guilt free before she knows it.

And, FYI, I got a clean bill of health and don't have to come back for five years. I think the doctor got nervous about my punch card idea. I am guessing he wasn't serious about cutting me a deal and decided to keep me away for a while. Trust me, I won't forget Dr. TheMan. I won't forget...


Hawaii Happenings: Part Six

The final installment! For metaphorical reasons, I wanted to end this series with our sunset cruise. It was remarkable for two reasons: 1) it was a beautiful night and a very relaxing two hours and 2) Kyle didn’t throw up. As noted before, my brother loves the water and all the potential activities it affords. The problem is his body betrays him. He brings new and rancid meanings to the term “going green” whenever he engages in any activity on the water. The reasons he agreed to join us for this excursion can be chalked up to being a team player and the faint hope that this time may be different. Alas, it wasn’t but we do appreciate his willingness to play along. Enjoy the evening displayed in pictures and thank you for putting up with these, admittedly, non-universally appealing posts. Aloha, ya'll!

Upon our arrival at the pier we discovered we had to ride
an inflatable raft to get to...

...the catamaran that was our main boat for the evening.

Kyle, full of confidence and bravado, climbing on to the boat.
It was the best he looked all night.

Sure, this is a picture of Tallulah and Shannon and the back of Hope's head,
but the real beauty here is Kyle, starting to turn.

Artsy shot (or, "Dang, why is everyone in shadows?")

Aunt Hope and Tallulah singing songs and enjoying the ride.

Our sunset. 
And thus ends Hawaii Happenings...


Hawaii Happenings: Part Five

With only a couple of more updates on the docket (I promised myself I would not drag this out and would do my best to complete it before Hope’s tan fades), in this installment I want to discuss food. My brother and I enjoy eating sushi (our stated goal for the week was to never eat anything that was cooked; we failed but we went down kicking and screaming--or at least with a good pout). My brother’s M.O. is to inform the waiter/waitress that he wants to give the sushi chef carte blanche (is it kosher to use French words when discussing Japanese food?) to prepare anything he/she wants--be creative--and Kyle always lets them know, “We aren’t afraid of anything.” Depending on the mood of the chef, this can be a delightful culinary adventure or a mediocre roll through... well, rolls. We were pretty lucky during our week on the Big Island. We had the opportunity to eat sushi three times (which was a pretty good average over seven days). We enjoyed one spot so much that we made a return trip for our farewell dinner before boarding a plane and flying for 11 hours. (Risky? Probably, but, really, it’s not like any of the dishes can be undercooked.) The following pictures show off some of the dishes we enjoyed (and I wish I could remember what they were but I can’t so you just have to be entertained by the visuals and not gain any raw seafood knowledge in the process). And to all the sushi chefs we tormented with that awful phrase, “yes, we want some more,” I salute you and raise my chopsticks in honor of your creativity and willingness to play along. Bon appetit! (Eh, there I go again...)

Brothers, preparing for battle.

A "sweet shrimp" which was blue and
"tasted like the ocean." I am referring to the piece lying 
across the seaweed, not the fried shrimp head.

Uni (pureed sea urchin) and a quail egg
being introduced to Mr. Shrimp Head.

Goose foie gras sushi.
Yeah, surprised us too...

A smorgasbord of sea life, dead.

A variety of raw stuff, including uni and octopus.

Salmon roe with a quail egg which, when bitten,
shot the eggs all over the inside of your mouth. Incoming!

I am not sure about the type of fish but our instructions
from the chef were to "roll toward the center and grab some eggs."

Tuna, chipotle dressing and tempura crumbles
(i.e. chef gettin' crazy!)

Wasabi headache (amateur!)


A Short Commercial Message

We take a short break from our Hawaiian Happenings series to give you an opportunity to vote. Vera, the band my son plays drums for, has an opportunity this week to make a little history and you can help. Read the following message and see if you can help them out. They pulled a tough week to be listed in the contest since Jack White's wife, Karen Elson, has her video in the contest as well but our rallying cry is "vote early and vote often."

From Vera:
 Our video for "Sound" has been selected in the Top 5 this week for MTVU's "The Freshman," a voting contest online where viewers go online and vote, and at the end of the week the winner is put into rotation on MTVU.
  This is an enormous opportunity for our band, and we need your help!  The majority of the other bands we're going against have been doing this much longer than we have, and if you have kept up with us at all, you know Vera is very new for us... That being said, we need your help getting the word out as well.
  You can vote an unlimited number of times per day, WITHOUT SIGNING UP!  What does that mean?  If you're willing, yes, you can  just refresh the page after every vote and vote again!
  If you guys help us win this by voting and sending this event to all of your friends we will be posting a brand new demo of our new song "Sing Out" online.  We would truly love to share this song with all of you, so help us by voting and send this event to everyone!  Maybe post this event or about the voting in your status.  Anything would help!



Hawaii Happenings: Part Four

We spent the week at the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort which is on the Kona (i.e. dry) side of the island, one part of a cluster of resort hotels, shops and restaurants on the northwest coast. The Hilton resort was massive and, frankly, spectacular. It reminded me of a Disney resort in that everything was manicured, clean and polished (and we could not pass a worker bee without them greeting us with "aloha"). There were several pools with waterfalls, hidden coves, water slides and jacuzzis. We had a choice of restaurants, their very own dolphin encounter and a lagoon where we could snorkel and swim with sea turtles, fish and eels. And we took advantage of everything offered. They even had a gym which I actually used three times during the week. (FYI: I was the only one to do that, securing my nerd status with the rest of the family; I prefer to think of it as conscientious, with a mind toward a healthy lifestyle and reducing my carbon footprint). Of course, nothing could top our favorite part: cabanas with staff walking around taking drink and food orders. Allysa, our hostess all week, was probably very sad to see us check out. The resort was spread out and it could be traversed on foot but they offered trams and boat rides as choices to navigate. We took advantage of all three options, depending on the time of day and our physical status. It was an incredible week. I am posting a few shots to give an overview. Enjoy...

Kyle and Tallulah
The Lagoon Tower pool

The view from our "porch."
Seen daily, accompanied by a cup of coffee and a Diet Coke.

The building in the background is where we stayed.
Our room is on that corner.

The Ocean Tower Pool
This is where we spent the bulk of our time.
(Yes, that is a water slide) Notice cabana's in the far background... home.

Hope and Shannon
One of the paths throughout the resort (most were paved!)

Kyle and lounge chair
The Lagoon
Sorry about the slant; I was probably laying down...


Hawaii Happenings: Part Three

On Tuesday, the ladies went fishing. They chartered a boat for an eight hour sport fishing session, leaving the men to stay ashore with Tallulah. My brother is a strong person but his Achilles heal is the undulating surface of the sea. He loves to fish and go boating but it is not kind to him in any conceivable way. So we sent the ladies out with our blessings and wished them luck. And boy, did they find it. Hope got the first hit of the day and, after feeling inadequate and silly for having so much trouble turning the reel to get the fish to the boat, she ended up vindicated by hauling in a 43-pound Ono (a Wahoo for the non-Hawaiian anglers). Shannon also pulled in a 25-pound Ono and the other people on the boat hauled in three tuna. The captain was kind enough to slice up some of the fish and we enjoyed some fresh sashimi on the hotel porch that night (I just realized that we ate sushi four of the seven nights thereby almost fulfilling my decree that we would eat nothing that was cooked all week). Kyle, Miss T and I did nothing that day, selflessly contributing our energy vicariously to the ladies. What would they do without us? Catch big fish, apparently...

Shannon and Hope, Rod and Reel
April 27, 2010

Hope, when she realized "that fish is big!"
April 27, 2010

Hope and her COTD
April 27, 2010
Lt. Dan seems to be struggling a bit holding up his end...

Shannon and her COTD
April 27, 2010


Hawaii Happenings: Part Two

After a day of acclimation (that seems like it should be upper case for some reason--Day of Acclimation!), we left the calm and secure confines of the resort and ventured out on Monday for an all day excursion to the volcano. We booked the trip through a local company that provided “an opportunity” to ride bikes around the top of the mouth and enjoy a picnic lunch in the process. Kyle and I signed up for bike riding and the girls opted to ride in the van and follow us around.

The day began at 7:45 am when we were picked up at the hotel by the company van (driven by Po [photo 01], the fake Hawaiian from Berkley who was full of authentic Hawaiian knowledge with exact Hawaiian pronunciation-- “The two types of Hawaiian lava differ in appearance but are chemically alike. Pahoehoe has a smoother and ropey surface where `a`a is jagged.”) and driven 2.5 hours to the other side of the island. We made several stops to break up the drive--Kona Coffee Company, a bakery for some donuts [photo 02]--but finally arrived at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park around 11 am. The eight mile bike ride was fun [photo 03] (and easy--check out the folks we rode with before you get too impressed with our endeavor [photo 04]) and it was a unique way to circle the mouth of the volcano. The company drove us back to the resort the opposite way around the island so we were able to get a great overview of the size (big!) and diversity of The Big Island. Basically, it is half lava rock and half rain forest, a dry side and a wet side. By the end of the day we were more interested in engaging in some civilized dining than exploring other civilizations... but that is for another post.

[photo 01] Po, our driver and guide
Monday, April 26, 2010

[photo 02] Kyle with too many donuts
Monday, April 26, 2010

[photo 03] Brothers in the woods
Monday, April 26, 2010
(I let him win)

[photo 04] The bike team
Monday, April 26, 2010
Can you pick out the very serious biker?

Hope and Jay
Monday, April 26, 2010
Classic "Tourist Shot with Volcano Background"


Hawaii Happenings: Part One

When the trip to Hawaii became reality, I soon realized that I had an unfortunate doctor’s appointment on the Tuesday after we returned (that would be today). I have to visit my dermatologist. The thought of walking into the doctor’s office with a fresh island burn all over my body made me queasy and I was afraid that the doc would cut on me out of spite. (If this thought crossed your mind--“Reschedule!”--then you have just proven you do not go to the dermatologist.) The anticipated appointment put me in a totally different category of vacationer than the rest of my fellow travelers--they worshiped the sun as I avoided it as much as possible. I lathered up twice per day with SPF 50 (using 100 on my face and ears), stayed under a cabana during pool time and always wore a t-shirt and hat (even in the cabana). I still got sun ( it is impossible to avoid unless I stayed inside all day but Hawaiian TV is not that great so that was out of the question) but I fared pretty well, considering. Of course, the true test comes this afternoon during the doctor’s visit but I am writing this in anticipation of success. I’ll let you know.

The Hawaiian Picture of the Day is in celebration of sunscreen and all of it’s blocking beauty. This is my brother asking the rhetorical question, “Is it worked in yet?”

Dr. Kyle Colle
April 26, 2010
Preparing to ride a bike around the volcano

Because you have been such a good audience, I will share another picture with you. Lets call it The Other Hawaiian Picture of the Day. This is me, in the cabana, reading a book, avoiding the sun. (For those interested in minutiae, in this picture I am reading The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larrson, the second in his trilogy of Swedish strangeness.)

Jay Colle
All Week, 2010
Sad to some, heaven to others...


A case of the Mondays...

I have returned. The land of aloha treated us well (the word "aloha" apparently means 100 different things, reminiscent of the Italian "ciao." I think the closest word we have to that in English is "dude.") but we are very happy to be back stateside. The trip was ridiculously fun and I will post some pictures as I cull through them and begin the editing process. The down side of shooting digital is how indiscriminate and lax you can be with subject matter and self-editing. It will be best if I give them a once (or twice) over before I share. Until then I leave you with this shot of me at the volcano last Monday. I am sure the goddess Pele was not pleased with my lack of respect but, so far, she has not exacted any revenge. At least we didn't bring home any lava rocks...

Monday, April 26, 2010