Monday, June 29, 2009

A special day

Sunday was a special day -- the baptism of our second granddaughter, Lise Marie.

From left: Godparents Andy and Josie, Father Dan Knepper holding Lise, parents Kate and Will (holding Claire).

It was a beautiful day -- from the gorgeous weather to the attendance and support of family and friends.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Night glow in Galena

I returned to The Galena Territory this evening for the Great Galena Balloon Race's night glow event. This time, Madame X accompanied me.

Despite my early wake-up call, and a nap of but 6 or 7 minutes, I held up OK.

I was able to introduce Madame X to "my" crew from the morning balloon flight. Bert, Jane, Elizabeth, Sean and Heidi had Goldie set up for night glow, the twilight event where the pilots, with their balloons tethered, simultaneously fire their propane burners to produce a spectacular sight.

It was a great evening.

Balloon ride worth the early wake-up

Bert Gaessler

I don't relish setting my alarm for 4:15 a.m. -- especially on a weekend. But today was different.

I had the opportunity to go on a hot-air balloon ride as part of the Great Galena Balloon Race, at The Galena Territory in Northwest Illinois.

My host was Bert Gaessler, of Rockford, Ill., one of the most experienced pilots anywhere. He has been flying balloons since 1978. His resume includes serving on the crew of Kevin Uliassi, a record-holder whose attempt at a solo around-the-world flight ended in Burma (now Myanmar), about halfway toward the goal, due to oxygen supply problems.

Bert's wife, Jane Jaworski-Gaessler, served as his crew chief and drove the "chase" or support vehicle -- no easy assignment on the winding roads of Jo Daviess County. In the gondola with Bert and me was Shawn, a regular member of Bert's crew. Other crew members included Heidi (no time for last names) and Bert and Jane's adopted daughter, 9-year-old Elizabeth.

This was my second flight. My first was more than in Ottumwa, Iowa, 25 years ago, when upon landing in a farm field the gondola tipped on its side. I was prepared for anything.

I arrived at Eagle Ridge Resort's North golf course in the Territory for check-in at 5:15 a.m., and we were aloft somewhere about 6. Our flight was to be 45-60 minutes, but Bert, a retired carpenter, went overtime to find a suitable landing site. I certainly didn't mind!

One of the great things about riding in a balloon is the quiet. In between the WHOOSHES of the propane burner, you hear nothing but the breeze and occasional sounds of life below, be they barking dogs, mooing cows or vehicles along Highway 20.

The expert pilot, Bert set down the Goldie on a gravel road just off U.S. 20 near Woodbine, Ill. No tipping! Jane, in regular communication with us via cellphone, was pulling up as we set down.

I estimate the trip at about 12 miles, as the balloon flies. It was a great experience! Thanks to Bert, Jane and the crew.

Here's a video from my ride. (By the way, the chirping birds you hear came with the music track.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First e-mail

I was surprised to find in my e-mail "in" box a message bearing my older granddaughter's name in the "sender" line.

Claire dictated the message to her mother, who dutifully typed it in:

"Pear" ...
P-O-P Pop!
Pear have number on there! (the pic you took of her)
Go park with Ma.
Play at park. Play at new park.
Play in fire truck and blue fire truck. Two.
Pop at TH.

Then, apparently, her mother was too slow at the keyboard, so Claire took over. As a result:


Thanks, Claire!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

1990: When Mr. G made headlines

Telegraph Herald front page: June 3, 1990
(click page for larger image)

Granddaughter Claire's participation (at age 2 years, 7 months) in "some" of yesterday's Grandview Gallop one-mile for kids on Saturday brought back memories of 19 years ago.

On June 2, 1990, son Greg, at age 3 years and 2 months, seeing his older siblings entered in the kids mile in a previous Telegraph Herald running event, The Paper Chase, announced that he wanted to run, too. So we signed him up, and he was given the smallest T-shirt available.

When the race began, and the older kids took off, Greg trotted the course with yours truly. My recollection is that he ran the whole distance -- no walking -- but one of us might have stopped to catch his breath. That memory is fuzzy.

Anyway, being by far the youngest entrant, Greg got lots of attention and encouragement from the spectators. TH photographer Mark Hirsch caught the image above of Greg, race shirt hanging out of his shorts, approaching the finish line. It made the front page the next morning.

As recently as 2-3 years ago, Greg wore that T-shirt, tight and filled with holes, in a triathlon. That must be some sort of record.

Friday, June 12, 2009

On Gallop Eve//update: race report

Update: At Saturday's race, Claire seemed a bit overwhelmed by the proceedings. She walked (slowly) with her Mom (and sister) a while, and that was enough. She later said that she did "some" of the race. And that was good enough for her! Meanwhile, her Dad got third in his age group!

My right knee has not recovered adequately for me to defend my age-group title in the Grandview Gallop, a four-mile road race in Dubuque. The fourth annual race is tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

However, I will be there in an official capacity -- starter and announcer. The Telegraph Herald is a major sponsor of the race.

Meanwhile, 2½-year-old granddaughter Claire is excited to be entered in her first race, a one-mile for kids. At packet pick-up this evening, she gave us a little preview of her run -- huffing and puffing no extra charge -- but seemed more interested in the playground equipment at Murphy Park.

Focus, Claire, focus!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

What the heck is this?

The Iowa chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research, of which I am a member, recently received a photo and communication from Shona Frese of the baseball museum in Norway, Iowa.

Seems a gentleman donated a piece of equipment, explaining it was his father's in the 1920s.

What is it?

The donor and museum speculate that it is related to spectacles.

"It is made similar to a catcher's mask but it only fits over the eye area (that is my opinion)," Frese wrote. "It has small leather pads. I tried it on over my glasses and it seems to fit pretty well. I am thinking a player might have worn it so he would not break his glasses or perhaps to help hold the glasses on."

Anyone have any insight on this?