35 Years of Milestones – Julianne and David

Kravetz35SplashI never dreamed that someday I might be part of something bigger than me
It makes me feel humble, finally I see….All that we have is each other
And that’s all that I’ll ever need”  — Joe Walsh, “Family” from his Analog CD

As the week-long celebration of my 35 years with Julianne comes to an end, I would like to close out with a broad-brush overview of our wonderful 35 year journey (thus far!).  Yesterday I posted a video that our daughter Marissa compiled that includes dozens of photos from this 35 year journey.  If you have not yet seen it, here is the link to that post. We are really no different than any other couple with 35 years behind them.  So much can happen.  This is a look back out our journey together.

David and Julianne in Provo, UT February 1979

David and Julianne in Provo, UT February 1979

When I look back on my family’s growth and the milestones achieved over a period of 35 years, I really realize that so much has happened.  It has been an amazing ride so far! Here are a number of highlights from our 35 years (coupled with photos when appropriate):

David and Julianne Wedding Photo July 1979

David and Julianne Wedding Photo July 1979

From 1979 to 2014:

Kravetz Family ca. 1991, taken in Oita, Japan

Kravetz Family ca. 1991, taken in Oita, Japan

Family 2009

Family 2009

Kravetz Family Group photo with grandchildren and some family members

Kravetz Family Group photo with grandchildren and some family members – 2012

We had 5 children

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

A Kravetz four generation photo - Seth, Rockwell, David, Joe - 2012

A Kravetz four generation photo – Seth, Rockwell, David, Joe – 2012

We had 9 grandchildren

3 of our children served LDS (Mormon) Missions

Amaree on her Mission in Japan

Amaree on her Mission in Japan

o Amaree to Nagoya Japan: January 2001 – July 2002

Marissa on her mission in Thailand

Marissa on her mission in Thailand

o Marissa to Bangkok Thailand: September 2002 – February 2004

Seth on his mission in Salt Lake City South area with his companion -- Tall and Short..

Seth on his mission in Salt Lake City South area with his companion — Tall and Short..

o Seth to Salt Lake City South: October 2006 to October 2008

Both of our boys attained Eagle Scout

Seth at his Eagle Court of Honor

Seth at his Eagle Court of Honor

o Seth in March 2005

Solomon at his Eagle Court of Honor

Solomon at his Eagle Court of Honor

o Solomon in June 2007

We have lived in 18 locations (including 2 extended motel stays while looking for housing and 3 extended work-related stays for David)

o An apartment in Provo, UT

Our first rental house in Flagstaff, AZ ca 1980

Our first rental house in Flagstaff, AZ ca 1980

o 2 Houses in Flagstaff, AZ
o Married Student Housing at NAU in Flagstaff
o 2 Houses and an apartment in Mesa, AZ
o 1 Apartment in Tempe, AZ

Apartments in Oita.  We lived on the 5th Floor

Apartments in Oita. We lived on the 5th Floor

o 2 Apartments in Oita, Japan

House in Frankfort, KY

House in Frankfort, KY

o 1 House in Frankfort, KY

House in Nicholasville

House in Nicholasville

o 1 House in Nicholasville, KY

House on Stanford Dr. in Lexington

House on Stanford Dr. in Lexington – notice our old Aerostar Van

Our current home in Lexington, KY

Our current home in Lexington, KY

o 2 Houses in Lexington, KY
o 1 Apartment in Louisville, KY (David only on extended work contract – 8 months)
o 1 Hotel in Woodstock, ON (David only on extended work contract – 4 months)

Apartment in Paris, Ontario

Apartment in Paris, Ontario

o 1 Apartment in Paris, ON (David only on extended work contract – 4 months)
o 1 Hotel in Cebu, Philippines (David only on extended work – 8 weeks)

We had three college graduates (including David)

Graduation with Bachelors from Northern Arizona University - 1984

Graduation with Bachelors from Northern Arizona University – 1984

o David graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Arizona University (History/Geography/Asian Studies) and then a Master’s Degree from Arizona State University (Political Science/Asian Studies)

Amaree graduation from University of Kentucky

Amaree graduation from University of Kentucky

o Amaree graduated from University of Kentucky (Music Education)

Seth graduation from University of Kentucky

Seth graduation from University of Kentucky

o Seth graduated from University of Kentucky (Engineering)

We have traveled to 6 foreign countries (collectively)

Family visiting Usa Shrine in Japan in 1990

Family visiting Usa Shrine in Japan in 1990

David and Julianne in Kyoto with David's father

David and Julianne in Kyoto with David’s father

o Oita, Japan (lived in Oita, Japan for 4 ½ years)
o Seoul, South Korea (both went through and stayed overnight on flights)
o Suzhou, China (David spent two weeks on business)

David at "Screaming Heads" in Berks Falls, Ontario 2008

David at “Screaming Heads” in Berks Falls, Ontario 2008

o Ontario, Canada and Cardston, Alberta, Canada (Julianne visited 2 times and David spent 8 months working in Ontario)

David and Julianne in Tulum, Mexico

David and Julianne in Tulum, Mexico

o Cozumel, Mexico (David and Julianne took a cruise to Cozumel and visited Tulum)

David on a Jeepney in Cebu, Philippines in 2007

David on a Jeepney in Cebu, Philippines in 2007

o Cebu, Philippines (David took two trips and spent a total of 8 weeks in Cebu)

We have traveled all over the United States

Julianne and I, along with our family have been blessed to have traveled all over the United States, from Catalina Island off the coast of California, to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, from the Great Lakes in Michigan and Ohio to the Mississippi Delta in New Orleans.  We have traversed the Rocky Mountains, crossed the southern deserts, visited the southeast in Georgia and been to New York. The family has been to 20 or more National Parks and Monuments over the years, has visited the Statue of Liberty, the St. Louis Arch and Mt. Rushmore.  We visited Hawaii as a family in 1990 and Julianne and I took a cruise to Alaska in 2004. Marissa spent a summer in France and Amaree toured Europe with a choir. Seth and Holly have visited England and Scotland. These experiences have broadened the horizons of all of us! We have since included grandchildren in many of these trips.

Family in Monument Valley 1993

Family in Monument Valley 1993

Visiting Jamestown, Virginia in 1995

Visiting Jamestown, Virginia in 1995

Visiting the St. Louis Arch in 1997

Visiting the St. Louis Arch in 1997 (with Barbara Grandvoinet from France)

Visiting the Museum in Chicago to see the T-Rex 1994

Visiting the Museum in Chicago to see the T-Rex 1996

Solomon, Marissa and Seth at Glacier National Park in 2005

Solomon, Marissa and Seth at Glacier National Park in 2005

Marissa and her daughter Joselyn at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

Marissa and her daughter Joselyn at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico in 2011

David and granddaughter Autumn in Rhinelander, Wisconsin 2012

David and granddaughter Autumn in Rhinelander, Wisconsin 2012

Chelsea and Solomon with David's sister Sherry in New York City 1998

Chelsea and Solomon with David’s sister Sherry in New York City 1998

We have celebrated the weddings of four of our children (including 3 daughters’ weddings within a 6 week span in 2005)

All three girls married in 2005

All three girls married in 2005

Dad and three married daughters June 2005

Dad and three married daughters June 2005

Chelsea on her wedding day in May 2005

Chelsea on her wedding day in May 2005

o Chelsea married in May 2005

Amaree and Aaron June 18, 2005 in Cardston, Alberta

Amaree and Aaron June 18, 2005 in Cardston, Alberta

o Amaree married Aaron Matthews in June 2005

Marissa and Adam June 25, 2005 Louisville, KY

Marissa and Adam June 25, 2005 Louisville, KY

o Marissa married Adam Noe in June 2005

Seth and Holly wed in June 2009

Seth and Holly wed in December 2009

o Seth married Holly Walker in December 2009

So much more happened over the years.  We had an exchange student from France, Barbara Grandvoinet, who home-stayed with us for about 6 months and then came back for two other shorter visits. She has gone on to become a documentary film producer and we are so proud of her. We also hosted a well known Japanese sculptor/ceramicist, Yukio Yamamoto (from Himeji, Japan), in the 1980s when he came to Arizona.  He and his wife stayed with us for a few weeks and we were instrumental in assisting Yukio in building an ancient style Tozan kiln at my alma mater Northern Arizona University in 1985 (see article here – they misspelled my name…). Yukio passed away a few years ago.

Yukio Yamamoto and wife with some of Julianne's family at the Falls of the Little Colorado river in Northern Arizona in 1985

Yukio Yamamoto and wife with some of Julianne’s family at the Falls of the Little Colorado river in Northern Arizona in 1985

There is now a shrine to Yukio at NAU.

Yukio Yamamoto shrine and museum at Northern Arizona University

Yukio Yamamoto shrine and museum at Northern Arizona University

Barbara with Solomon and Marissa at New River Gorge, WV in Aug 1995

Barbara with Solomon and Marissa at New River Gorge, WV in Aug 1995

There is so much more that has enriched our lives over these years.  Many of the children participated in commercial video shoots in Japan (and David was in a national TV Commercial).

Chelsea in a Tokiwa Department Store Ad in 1990. Her photo hung all over the store for weeks.

Chelsea in a Tokiwa Department Store Ad in 1990. Her photo hung all over the store for weeks.

Seth in a Fukuoka, Japan Department Store Ad in 1990

Seth in a Fukuoka, Japan Department Store Ad in 1990

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

Indeed, this 35 years has been amazing!  I am looking forward to my 50th in 15 years!!

David and Julianne 1979 in Monument Valley

David and Julianne 1979 in Monument Valley

David and Julianne in Japan 1990

David and Julianne in Japan 1990

David and Julianne at Corn Palace in South Dakota in 2012

David and Julianne at Corn Palace in South Dakota in 2012

Cheering on UK in 2013 NCAA Championship Game

Cheering on UK in 2013 NCAA Championship Game

David and Julianne - 25 wonderful years together

David and Julianne – 35 wonderfully fun and amazing years together

An Ode to America

SumoflamUSAAs we approach Independence Day 2014 I look at my country with different eyes than I did 20 or 30 years ago.  We have gone through some tough times as a country and these have impacted each of us at a personal level.

The economy is tougher than it has been in years and many of us, including me, have gone through job losses, economic difficulties and more. It has not been a fun ride.

Yet, we move on and we survive.  We find ways to make it.  Despite the political and ideological differences that sometimes divide our diverse population (as can be seen be all of the banter on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.), we still come together as a country.

LambertsCafeOzarkMOThis became very clear to me as I traveled across America during May and June of this year. Whether in the plains of North Dakota, the swamps of Louisiana, the mountains of Wyoming or the impoverished deltas of Mississippi, the flag hung high, people were Americans (and not political parties, races or otherwise).  All spoke their dialects of English (and indeed, American English in Minnesota is different than that of American English in a small town in Southern Mississippi or in central Nebraska).

EStLouisILUltimately, I am grateful to live in this free country.  I can gripe about rising gas prices, Obama’s political agendas, dramatic inflation, bad roads or anything else.  But, I have the right and freedom to gripe if I desire…it is my inalienable right in this country.  Something many other countries don’t have.

I have the freedom to drive across this great nation without discrimination and go through the Blackfeet Reservation, a Cajun community and predominantly Scandinavian community or a small mid-American farm town and still feel these freedoms and experience others enjoying them.

So, despite any challenges, I believe it is time for me and all of us to Fall in Love with America again.  So, here is an ode to America by my good friend Antsy McClain.  It was his reminiscence of experiences while loving in America. I was fortunate enough to work with Antsy in producing and making this video. I hope you enjoy it.

A SUPER Trip to Metropolis (In Search of Dogwoods and Friendship)


Lexington to DFW –
Again


A SUPER Trip to Metropolis


(In Search of Dogwoods and Friendship)

Apr. 10, 2010

 


 

by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz

 

April 10, 2010:
On the road again, “Road Trip!”,
striking out for adventure….yet another trip to Texas for iHigh.com and yet
another opportunity to seek out more of America’s wonders along the way. 
Per my usual methods, I took the long way to Texas, this time visiting one of
the “must see” places on my bucket list of “must see places.”  I would head
toward Metropolis, IL in search of Superman and who knows what I would find
along the way? Following is the map of this rather long journey through the
heartland of America:

 

This trip would take me to Central City, KY; Paducah, KY; Metropolis, IL;
Charleston, MO; Friendship, AR and other places

 

As always, since it is a long drive from Lexington, KY to Keller, TX, I left
early in the morning, got my cold drinks and munchies and gas and was on the
road west headed toward Paducah, in the far southwest region of Kentucky. 
As the sun rose along the Western Kentucky Parkway southwest of Elizabethtown,
the fog set in and there was beauty all around me.  the redbud and dogwoods
were in bloom, the horses were out grazing and the sun was peeking through the
fog-tipped tree line.  Then, unexpectedly, I saw a sign for Central City,
KY.  I had NOT done my homework!!  It turns out that Central City was
the home of the Everly Brothers – Phil and Don.  This was a MUST stop for
me so it was off the highway and on to the Less Beaten Paths in Central City.

 

 


Early morning Kentucky scene along Western
Kentucky Parkway

 

 

Central City is the birthplace of the famous singing duo “The Everly Brothers”. 
Underneath the monument above was

the following: “Fom Brownie, to Iowa, to Knoxville, to Nashville, to Hollywood,
to England and around the world….

Don and Phil have taken the music of Kentucky, as taught by their parents. And
now they are bringing it back home

to Central City. August 25, 1988.”  Phil was born in 1937 and Don in
1939…both in Brownie, Kentucky.

 

 

Also home to Star Records Studio
and Bry’s Cafe on Broad (which was not open the day I came through)

 

From Central City, I
was back on the road towards
Paducah.  I have
been through Paducah a number of times, but have never spent any time there. 
I wanted to see the murals painted on the Flood Wall along the confluence of the
Tennessee and Ohio rivers and whatever else I might run across in this lovely
river town.  Upon arrival in Paducah, I headed straight for downtown (or
lowertown) as they call it there.  There is a quaint beauty about the town.

 

Bridge over Lake
Barkley on I-24 east of Paducah

 

Paducah was
originally settled around 1815 and was known as Pekin.  There were Native
Americans, most likely Chicksaw, living there and they traded peacefully with
white settlers and traders that came down the river.  Their chief was named
Paduke.  This arrangement stayed peaceful, but in 1827, William Clark, the
famed leader of the the Lewis and Clark expedition, and then superintendent for
Native American affairs along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, brought a
legal deed for the land the town sat on.  He asked both Chief Paduke and
the settlers to leave, which they did.  Paduke and his clan moved to
Mississippi.  Clark named the town Paducah in his honor. In 1830 it was
incorporated and then chartered as a city in 1856.  It was a dry dock for
barges and also became a major rail hub.  Today it is home to the National
Quilt Museum

 

 
 

Paducah is dotted
with many old buildings.  I was especially delighted with the colorful
storefronts

 

A resident of
Paducah….as colorful as the town itself

 

Part of a set of
sculptures depicting the Native American history of the Paducah area

 

In 1996, the Paducah
floodwall mural program (Officially called “Paducah
Wall to Wall
“) was begun by Louisiana Mural artist
Robert Dafford and
a team of other artists (including Herb Roe, Benny Graeff, Doug Safford and Mike
Doherty). They completed this project in 2007. (I came across Dafford’s large
project in Point Pleasant/Portsmouth back in April 2008. You can see my
writeup here.)
There are more than 50 murals lining the walls and covering the history of
Paducah in chronological fashion.  Dafford has done similar projects in
Portsmouth, OH, Louisiana, Covington, KY and other places. Currently Portsmouth,
Ohio born mural artist Herb
Roe
, formerly one of Dafford’s team of artists, keeps the touch up work take
care of.  Apparently Roe is the only member of Dafford’s team who can be
associated with having participated in the application of all 50 of the panels.

 

One segment of the
long line of murals stretching along the river.  Time did not allow

for me to traverse
the entire length.  But following are a few of those I did see.

 

 

 

L – An early
street scene of downtown Paducah.  Love the Piggly Wiggly sign and “Cooled”
on the theater. 

R – A scene from
the great flood of 1937 which inundated Paducah.

 

 

L – The old market 
R – Hauling goods from port in the 1800s.

 

 

L – Some of the
beautiful old churches in town  R – Early settlers along the river.

 

William Clark
platting out the town

 

Time to proceed
further…and on to Metropolis.  Metropolis is basically a hop skip and
jump away from Paducah…only about 13 miles. However, as noted above, Paducah
is at a major confluence of rivers and so bridges must be traversed along the
way.  Here is one crossing the Mississippi:

 

 

One of many
similar narrow bridges over the Mississippi River.  These structures never
cease to amaze me.  This one crosses

into Illinois from
Kentucky and is between Paducah and Metropolis.

 

Then there is the
big booming town of Metropolis. Actually, not anything like the Metropolis of
the Superman series (which is more like New York City), the town of Metropolis,
IL does lay claim to Superman.  As you enter Metropolis from the east, this
is what you first come across:

 

Metropolis, IL
Welcome Billboard

 

This is NOT
Superman, but is in front of a supermarket before getting into town.

Superman is
apparently NOT the only BIG statue in town!!

 

After taking a shot
of the giant grocery man, I continued into town to find Superman.  The town
is quite proud of their man!!

 

Metropolis City
Hall

 

 
 

Superman is
everywhere…especially the one big guy in the middle photo!!

 

 

L – One of many
signs on a “Superman Shop” in town; R – Tourists looking at large mural (I
thought this was a unique shot)

 

Of course, like many
small towns in the United States, this town does honor some REAL heroes with a
nice mural in town:

 

Honoring All Our
Defenders of Freedom – a mural in Metropolis, IL

 

After the little
site trip to Metropolis, it was back on the road south for me as I planned to
get all the way to Keller, TX on this drive.  I headed back to Interstate
24, went south back across the Mississippi and into Kentucky to begin heading
further west.  I continued into Barlow, KY and then on to Wickliffe and
into Cairo, IL and then over another river into Missouri, staying on US 60 along
the way.  By the time I was in Missouri I had crossed over a literal maze
of bridges and over the Ohio River, the Tennessee River, the Mississippi River
and the Missouri River, all some of the greatest waterways in the US.

 



Another bridge
crossing over the Mississippi River – – Along the Great River Road

 

  

A coal-bearing
barge on the Mississippi; a mural welcoming me to Barlow, KY

 

Yet another bridge
over the river

 

It was time for a
gas stop, so I made my way into a gas station in
Charleston,
Missouri
.  Charleston is a small town of about 5000 people, but during
this time of year is a strikingly colorful time.  I was one week early for
their
Dogwood-Azalea Festival
.  And for sure, the dogwoods and azaleas were
in bloom around the town.  The town even has a 6 mile Dogwood-Azalea Trail
laid out and awards someone the best dogwood of the year.  Here are some
photos of the dogwoods, azaleas and other flowering trees in the small town.

 

 
 

Dogwood Trees in
full bloom in Charleston, MO

 

 

The colors were
striking!!

 

 

Every street was
lined with dogwoods…the tree on the right was this year’s award winning tree
apparently

 

Driving around town
was fun but I was given another surprise…being the webmaster and good friend
of singer/songwriter/artist
Antsy McClain
, I was surprised to run into his “relatives” here in
Charleston…..

 

  

McClain’s Food
Center…I wonder if “Everything’s
a Dollar
“? 

And the McClain’s
are probably happy in their “Lot 1409” (which was a house, not a trailer!!)

 

So much for fun and
flowers…back on the road again.  Heading south on I-55 I couldn’t resist
this sign….I wonder if meant anything….

 

  

Is that sign
pointing at me????  Who would name a town Braggadocio anyway?

 

 

Time for another
break for some food and a stretching break somewhere off of I-55 in NE Arkansas. 
I stop at this place along the highway and what do I find?

 

Needless to say, I
didn’t eat there…but I wondered, “Do they serve curry burritos?”

 

I continued south on
Interstate 55 until I got to exit 41, where I intended to head west to another
unusually named place….Marked
Tree, Arkansas
.  I got onto Arkansas State Highway 14 and headed due
west into Lepanto and then got onto State Highway 140, which took me south into
Marked Tree.  The town claims to be the only town in the world named Marked
Tree.  But, more unusual is that the town lies between two rivers which
flow in opposite directions.  According to the story (from the Marked Tree,
Arkansas website):

The settlers chose “Marked Tree” because of the “old marked tree” on the
bank of the Saint Francis River near the railroad camp. Now we come to the most
interesting part of all – how did the “marked tree” come to be in the first
place?  The aboriginal people in the region of the Saint Francis and Little
Rivers were Indians. In the early 1800’s the Osage and Cherokees roamed these
woods largely by using the rivers as their highways. There was a superabundance
of game and all the rivers abounded with fish. Pioneer Arkansas was widely known
as a sportsman’s country also suited to farming. The Indians traveling northward
up the Saint Francis River marked a tree at the first point at which Little
River is only ¼ mile distant across the land between the rivers. By dragging
their dugout canoes across this short portage to Little River they could
continue their trip northward and eliminate eight miles of up-river paddling.

There is another legend from the 1830’s about the mark on this huge oak
tree. The John A. Murrell outlaw gang had hideouts in the White River swamps
below Helena. They gambled, robbed, waylaid travelers, stole horses and even
slaves, and resold what they could in east Arkansas and west Tennessee. They
found the short portage at the “old marked tree” and marked it with a big “M.”
They used this site as a place to rendezvous.

Whichever legend handed down to people still living here you believe (they
both may be true), the “marked tree” was undermined and fell into the river
during the overflow of 1890. This large oak was a few hundred feet from the
original bridge across the Saint Francis River. During the digging into the bank
to build a new bridge in 1971, a large well preserved oak tree trunk was
unearthed. This tree trunk is believed to have been the original marked tree and
has been put on display with a historical marker in the center of Marked Tree.

There is really not
much excitement in the town of Marked Tree, but I did find some things of
interest that my camera eye was attracted to.

 

 

Keeping with
tradition, strange named town signs get an honorary photo…and where do they
keep the

fire trucks in
this fire department?  This trailer is on wheels.  Funniest Fire Dept.
I have seen to date.

 

 
 

I always like
running into old trucks and cars parked in front of barns

and of course, you
should expect “Hog Wild” BBQ in Arkansas

Not all wall
murals I find are fancy…but this one does show the history of Marked Tree

 

I never did find any
Marked Trees, so it was back on the road again to Texas.  I took US
Highways 67 and 64 south into Little Rock and hopped on I-30 as it was now
getting late in the day and the light was dwindling.  As I drove south I
came across a road sign that I apparently had missed on past ventures down I-30. 
I finally found Friendship!!  Seems like I have been looking for Friendship
for years and here it was:

 

 

Friendship was off
to the right…no, wait a minute…off to the left…

I guess you can
find Friendship in any direction!!!

 

 

Looks like I
finally found Friendship!!

 

They even need
police and a court in Friendship….how friendly is that?

 

By the time I left
Friendship, the sun was beginning to set and I needed to get onto the final leg
of the day’s trip to my sister Sherry’s house in Keller.  So, back on the
road…arrived in Keller at about midnight CST.

 

Watch soon for more ramblings from the back roads on
this trip…still more fun to come!!

 

Some roadside guidance provided by……

 

 See more of
Sumoflam’s Trip Journals

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz






All photos and commentary expressed are copyright of Sumoflam Productions and David Kravetz. All rights reserved.

Weathering the Storms of Life

Weathering the storms of life

by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz

 

The last couple of months have made life interesting, challenging, frustrating and fun….all in one giant ball.

It all started near the beginning of December when the Japanese work I was doing for Consulting Solutions in Georgetown fizzled out. I basically found myself unemployed for the second time in a little under a year.  So, I was back to looking for work and delivering pizzas for Papa John’s…déjà vu from December 2007.  I wrote somewhat about this in my last blog entry.  As it turned out, I had very little work from the beginning of December until I began at ACS a couple of weeks ago. 

Mid-December rolled in and Julianne and I were soon enjoying a brand new grandchild.  Landen Joseph Noe was born on December 16 in Lexington.  Grandchild number 5.  I would have never imagined that I would be a grandfather by age 52 let alone have 5 by that time.  These grandchildren are such a joy and a blessing to our lives. Today I got to participate in Landen’s blessing in church.

  

Landen and his sister Joselyn with me on March 1.  Little red-headed Landen just before his blessing in church.

Soon after, it was Christmas.  I already wrote a blog entry about our adventures of shopping at the end of November, but Christmas was kind of quiet around the household.  Our kids spent a good deal of time at their in-laws and only came over for breakfast and opening of presents.  It was fun to share, as always.

New Year’s Eve was kind of boring as well.  I had to work for Papa John’s and so Julianne was home alone. But the storms of change were brewing as the new yearunfolded.

By mid-January I was in the preparatory stages of beginning my new $10/hour job at ACS.  In fact, in today’s Lexington Herald-Leader I saw an article which really hit home for me, especially after I too left a fairly high paying position at the end of November 2007, was on again/off again with work, went to Canada for 8 months and by mid-December,  I was out of work again.

Here is the article, which is copyrighted, but I am including the credits and the link below. 

Going from $70,000 salary to $12 hourly wage

By Michael Luo

New York Times News Service

March 1, 2009

 

TEMPEAriz. — Mark Cooper started his work day on a recent morning cleaning the door handles of an office building with a rag, vigorously shaking out a rug at a back entrance and pushing a dust mop down a long hallway.  Nine months ago he lost his job as the security manager for the western United States for a Fortune 500 company, overseeing a budget of $1.2 million and earning about $70,000 a year. Now he is grateful for the $12 an hour he makes in what is known in unemployment circles as a “survival job” at a friend’s janitorial-services company. But that does not make the work any easier.

 

“You’re fighting despair, discouragement, depression every day,” Cooper said. Working five days a week, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Cooper is not counted by traditional measures as among the recession’s casualties at this point. But his tumble down the economic ladder is among the more disquieting and often hidden aspects of the downturn.

 

It is not clear how many professionals like Cooper have taken on these types of lower-paying jobs, which are themselves in short supply. Many are doing their best to hold out as long as possible on unemployment benefits and savings while still looking for work in their fields. However, about 1.7 million people were working part-time in January because they could not find full-time work, a 40 percent jump from December 2007, when the recession began, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And experts agree that as the economic downturn continues and as more people begin to exhaust their jobless benefits and other options, the situation Cooper is in will inevitably become more common.

 

Interviews with more than two dozen laid-off professionals across the country, including architects, former sales managers and executives who have taken on lower-paying, stopgap jobs to help make ends meet, found that they were working for places like UPS, a Verizon Wireless call center and a liquor store. For many of the workers, the psychological adjustment was just as difficult as the financial one, with their sense of identity and self-worth upended.

 

“It has been like peeling back the layers of a bad onion,” said Ame Arlt, 53, who recently accepted a position as a customer-service representative at an online insurance-leads referral service in FranklinTenn., after 20 years of working in executive jobs. “With every layer you peel back, you discover something else about yourself. You have to make an adjustment.”

 

Some people had exhausted their jobless benefits, or were ineligible; others said it was impossible for them to live on their unemployment checks alone, or said it was a matter of pride, or sanity, that drove them to find a job, any job. In just one illustration of the demand for low-wage work, a spokesman for UPS said the company saw the number of applicants this last holiday season for jobs sorting and delivering packages almost triple to 1.4 million from the 500,000 it normally receives. When Arlt applied for the job, she sent in a stripped-down résumé that hid her 20-year career at national media companies, during which she ascended to vice president of brand development at the On Command Video Corp. and was making $165,000 a year. She decided in 2001 to start her own business, opening an equestrian store and then founding a magazine devoted to the sport. But with the economy slowing, she was forced to shutter both businesses by June of last year. After applying for more than 100 jobs, mostly director-level and above in marketing and branding, and getting just two interviews, Arlt said she realized last fall that she had to do something to “close the monthly financial hemorrhage.” Her new job at HometownQuotes pays $10 to $15 an hour and has mostly entailed data entry. But even though she has parted ways with some friends because she is no longer in their social stratum, Arlt said she was glad she was no longer sitting at home, “thinking, ‘Who have I not heard from today?'”

 

Her new paycheck covers her mortgage but not her other living expenses. Recently, she cashed out what was left of her retirement portfolio, about $17,000. “It has been the hardest thing in my life,” she said. “It has been harder than my divorce from my husband. It has really been even worse than the death of my mother.”

So, here I am, like the folks I the article above, in a very low-paying job, no unemployment benefits, high COBRA insurance payments and a pretty much depleted IRA. Really frustrating and at times even depressing.

Then, as I get started at ACS, Julianne is told that her contract was ending at Lexmark after five years. It seemed like the beginning of a perfect storm…mass destruction of our life as we knew it.

After hearing this news, more devastation arrived.  The recent couple of days had been bitter cold. We had some snow and ice and Solomon had gone down to the garage to get the snow shovel.  But, he had neglected to close the garage door and we were not aware it had been open.  So, much to my shock…my second shock for the day…I had looked out the back window form the kitchen to see a flood pouring out of the garage.  I went down and sure enough, our pipe had burst and was flooding water into the garage, the drywall was falling from the ceiling.  All I could think of was “what is next?” No decent job for me, no job for Julianne and a flooded garage.

Fortunately, the damage was kept to the garage.  We got the pipe fixed and insurance covered a good part of it.  So, there were some blessings despite the challenges.

As we tried to weather the Lexmark storm, another storm had hit Lexington.  A majorly destructive ice storm hit the entire state of Kentucky, wreaking havoc to over a million people and leaving more than half a million without electricity.  Hundreds of thousands of trees were destroyed by the heavy weight of the ice on the trees.  At the same time, the crystalline nature of the ice left a spooky beauty everywhere.  I was awestruck at how something so beautiful could also be so destructive.  I took hundreds of photos, which are all posted at the following links:

http://public.fotki.com/Sumoflam/lexington-ice-storm/

http://public.fotki.com/Sumoflam/lexington-ice-storm-ptii/

http://public.fotki.com/Sumoflam/lexington-ice-storm-1/

Here are just a couple of sample shots of photos I took during the storm:

   

 

 

Our family was not immune from the wiles of the storm.  Chelsea’s power was out for almost 4 days and she ended up staying with us for a couple of days. Many of my friends also were debilitated by the ice.  Some had major damage.

So, we are cleaning up from the storm, weathering the new Juli job storm and I was getting ready to start my new job at ACS as a call center agent. This proved to force some major challenges upon me.  First of all, I had been told I was being interviewed as a tech support person for the iPhones.  This was exciting to me, despite the immense cut in pay to what I have been used to receiving.  A week after filling out all of the paperwork I was called and told that this was being dropped and that I might have to seek other options…perhaps working the Sprint call center.  Then, on Tuesday morning I was called again…back on.  Woohoo… Then, later that afternoon, back off.  What a roller coaster ride.  Bottom line…I took the Sprint position as I could not afford to wait another three weeks to start something else.  Then, last Friday, Feb. 27, my entire group was called into the training lab and told that we were being transitioned to yet another area…the Boost team (Boost is a subsidiary of Sprint and is a pay-per-use cell phone program).  I guess that is why ACS employees say that ACS means “Always Changing Something”.

Though at first I struggled with the Boost change, I was delighted to learn that they are so busy that currently there is unlimited overtime work so there is the opportunity to make as much as $15 to $16/hour if I am willing to work all of the extra hours.  So, If I don’t get some side work doing web design or Japanese translations, at least I will have another money making option.

With the loss of Julianne’s position, we had become very concerned about how we would make it. But, when one door closes, another opens.  On February 10 she was called by Adecco about a new position she will be doing.  It will only be a temporary position but will be a lot of fun for her. She is going to be a Google StreetView Driver at least for the next couple of months.  Last week she flew out to Mountain ViewCA, the home of Google, where she spent a day of training.  Then, on Tuesday, she and about 15 others left on their return trips home with the cars they will use.  As I write this she is on the last hour or two of her long trip which took her from Mountain View, thru Los Angeles, to Barstow, CA for night one.  Day two she went from Barstow to Phoenix (and Mesa for a brief hello stop to her family) and then Tucson thru southern New Mexico to El Paso On Thursday she drove from El Paso to Ft. Worth and then had car problems so she ended up spending two nights in Ft. Worth, but was able to visit with my sister Sherry.  Yesterday she drove from Ft. Worth thru Little RockArkansas and to Memphis and on to JacksonTN.  It was a grueling day as she spent most of the time from Arkansas to Jackson driving through snow and ice and low visibility, with many stops and crawling 10 mph traffic.  She finally did make it though.

So, in closing, here we are, both experiencing some major changes in our lives.  We are learning to cutback: reduced phone and cell phone services, reduced satellite TV packages, elimination of newspapers, gym memberships, ancestry.com memberships, tighter budgets, MUCH less eating out.  As those interviewed in the article above, we too are having to peel each layer of our emotional and financial onions and discovering new things about ourselves.

Bottom line: We will be positive and push through this.  We have so much to be grateful for and so many wonderful blessings in our lives. We have led rich and fulfilling lives thus far and have so much more to look forward to, even if it means major adjustments in our lifestyles. We will weather the storms of life and still manage to ENJOY THE RIDE!

All photos and commentary expressed are copyright of Sumoflam Productions and David Kravetz. All rights reserved.

Been an interesting few weeks

This is just a shirt entry, but over the next week or so I hope to enter a number of entries with lots and lots of updates. Now that things are settling down I have tons to write about:  The recent ice storms in Lexington (with lots of pictures), the new job and some gory details about that, Julianne’s new temporary job as a Google Maps Camera Car Driver, grandkids, catch up on seom Canada trip journals, etc.

I will also mention some new good stuff by Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours.  You can check out the new album called Limited Edition Prince and also celebrate the success of the recent New Good Old Days CD, which at this moment is in the Top 25 on the Americana Music Charts.  All this and more coming soon to a blogsite near you!!

All photos and commentary expressed are copyright of Sumoflam Productions and David Kravetz. All rights reserved.