One step forward, two steps back; the Crud.
Despite feeling pretty good on Sunday, when I woke up on Monday I found the crud had regained a foothold in my head and chest with the return of some light headedness and a persistent cough throughout the early morning hours. This presented something of a challenge for today’s “Plan A” which was our retirement simulation day: Get up, have breakfast and then go for a nice tandem ride on a weekday morning! Making matters worse, the weather presented some challenges for my respiratory system as well: it was overcast with 98% humidity, the grass pollen was high and temps were in the upper 60°Fs. Yeah, not exactly the type of air you want to suck into lungs and sinuses that are already struggling. The outlook for the rest of the day wasn’t all that great either, with heavy, scattered showers coming in around 1:00pm. Ugg. Oh well, when life serves you lemons you make lemonade.
Plan B was a bit more domestic but had a nice surprise for Debbie built into it. The morning plan shifted to doing some at home banking and other administrative tasks, followed by some additional care taker chores. In the background was the Tour de France.
Speaking of the TdF, I must say I remain somewhat amused by the fact that Paul Sherwin & Phil Liggett remain at the forefront of broadcasting the live call and color commentary of professional cycling. Both have remained in place well past their prime, noting Phil — bless his heart — has always had a habit of getting it wrong, something that only gets worse with each passing season. Phil was showing no objectivity at Monday’s spring finish as he began calling the race for Peter Sagan before they even turned the last corner and simply couldn’t constrain himself until what was clearly a photo finish could be deciphered. Phil was clearly disappointed that Sagan didn’t win as Paul quickly provided the correct call of the finish. Weird. As for Paul, I’d have to guess he says “round about” close to 1,000 times during each broadcast. Making matters worse this year is the rest of their broadcast team over at NBCSN; where do they find these guys? But I digress…
One other little annoyance for today was the discovery that my employer’s IT team decided with the 4th of July holiday just ahead it was time to push out a new remote access software update. I saw it load last Thursday and didn’t give it much thought until I actually tried to remote-in today to take care of the one work task that slipped into my week of vacation. Yup, just as in most cases the push bombed; driver not loaded, please reload software, administrator rights required. So much for that; an abbreviated version of the update went out on my Blackberry and the laptop will remain off.
Getting past all of that, and with noon time approaching the main part of Plan B came into play as I invited Debbie to get dressed so we could go out and grab some lunch and pay a visit to our jeweler for the past 20 years, Shane & Company, or Shane Co. as they like to call themselves. The goal was to find Debbie an anniversary band for her wedding set, something I figured would end up having to be custom-made unless the set’s manufacturer had also designed an anniversary band. She’d actually mentioned wanting an anniversary band, but then backed-off and suggested it could wait until our 25th. Bah; there’s no time like the present!
With the latter in mind, I dug the original paperwork out of the safe from April 1993 with the manufacturer’s model number for the piece. Shane Co. had earned my trust early-on when I had Debbie’s setting sent back for an appraisal by a family friend and jeweler in Chicago who confirmed the value and quality was exactly as described and sold. Let’s just say we’ve done a lot of business with Shane Co. since then. Debbie decided to wear one of her new blue dresses from Saturday’s visit to Horsetown with her goatskin & embroidered Old Gringo boots; she looked gorgeous, as always: I’m such a lucky guy.
When we arrived at Shane Co. we were met by Michael, a sales associate du jour noting that it had been a while since we’d been to Shane Co. and none of the gals or guys we’d worked with in the past were there. I was pretty clear with Michael about what we were looking for and handed him the paperwork from the original purchase. Sadly, Michael didn’t listen to what I said and went into “salesman mode” blabbering on about trade-in value of Debbie’s existing set while showing us their very limited and boring inventory of new wedding sets. Once again I suggested that he do some research to see if the manufacturer offered a matching band or consult with one of their jewelers to see if they could make something. No dice, he wasn’t getting it: he was a used car salesman who only knew how to push what they had on the lot and the “supervisor” working with him was no better. Seeing how Shane Co. had cut corners in their staffing and inventory, I now wondered if they even had true jewelers on staff anymore and/or how qualified they were? Oh well, see ya!
As we walked out I suggested to Debbie that we could check out their competition ’round about’ a 1/4 mile away: Jared’s Galleria of Jewelry before beginning a search for an independent jeweler as our family jeweler in Chicago had passed several years back and I truly didn’t have a hot clue where to begin looking for a jeweler in Atlanta.
We were met by Nate who was as nice as could be and who listened well. We told him what we were looking for and after just a few minutes of looking at what they had — which was a lot more variety than we’d found at Shane Co. — he said the magic words: we can always make something. He then introduced us to Cham who took Debbie’s setting and visited with the jewelers for a bit. A short time later he gave us a brief description of what they had in mind and a time/cost quote for the work: it would be about six weeks and the cost was reasonable for what we were having made, i.e., gold & diamond content wise.
Of course, then came the reality that we’d need to leave Debbie’s wedding set so that they could design the band to integrate with and match the very intricate, channel set design of her rings, leaving her ring finger naked! Well, that wouldn’t do. Actually, this was really a good thing as I’d always meant to get her just a simple wedding band to wear for things like tandem rides & rallies or other activities where it probably would be best to leave her wedding set at home in the safe. So, we found a very nice simple, slender anniversary band with some channel set diamonds that she liked and were all set. So, at the end of the day, Shane Co. lost two very nice sale opportunities. Hey, I’m no stranger to “custom” tandems, bikes and other things. It’s all about going with your gut and putting trust in folks who are quick to understand what you’re looking for by listening to what you’re asking for. After that, it’s just a matter of sticking to your guns and making sure they produce results. Given that there will be a number of check-in’s to look at the wax molds & trial casts before the ring is actually poured, etc., I’m confident we’ll get a very nice result from all of this. Most of all, Debbie is very happy.
After all of the fun at Jared’s we stopped in to Paddy’s Pub & Eatery on Cobb Parkway to try out their food and service. We’d stopped in for a cocktail once before to kill some time before the Electric Cowboy just down the street opened its doors for a line-dance group lesson one time, but that was it. So, given the skies were about to unload at any moment, it was also the only place where we could get ourselves parked and in the doors before having to dodge the rain. Overall, not a bad place but the food didn’t knock my socks off. The featured dishes were heavy Irish fare so we passed on those and opted to try some staples of your typical tavern: a tuna melt & a reuben with some Caesar salads as our sides. Meh, it was OK but not great. We both boxed up 1/2 our sandwiches and felt like we’d had lunch but certainly didn’t find a great new place to eat, as was the case with Loco Willy’s.
After that we had to play a visit to hell. Er, well… Debbie felt the need to go into Toys-R-Us and buy out granddaughter Caroline something for her birthday, which we’d be celebrating at 7:00pm when we met the kids / grandkids for dinner at Olde Towne. I’m a big fan of making donations to the college fund / savings accounts as these kids are constantly showed with toys by several sets of grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles and have more stuff than they know what to do with. But, that’s clearly not as much fun and doesn’t elicit the brief elation the way a toy dragon with two heads named Barf & Belch do: thank you Cartoon Network (ugg).
After some downtime at home, it was nearly time to head off to Olde Towne for dinner. We met with the kids, had a nice time and of course Caroline was thrilled with her toy dragons. We also had a chance to chat with one of our regular wait staff members at Olde Towne and confirmed that most of our “regular staff” friends were taking time off or had shifted their schedules around for the summer, which is why the place seemed so very different. I also visited with Julio back at the kitchen — another very friendly face for us at Olde Towne — who had noticed that we’d been away. We also talked about food, noting that since Debbie and I changed our eating habits the menu at Olde Towne had become very limited for us, as so much of what you find at taverns is far from health food. Regardless, we’ll be back to more regular visits once College Football begins!
Back at home we finished the evening with some quite time and some big laughs watching Top Gear before calling it a night: yes, Debbie’s nearly as much of a car, motorcycle & motorsports buff as I am! Watching Richard Hammond extoll the virtues of NASCAR to his co-stars was priceless, as was the epic tale of driving a Lamborghini Aventador ($400k), a McLaren MP4-12C ($230k) and a Noble M600 ($320k) supercars across Italy because, well… some people with scads of cash to blow on exotic cars just may not feel like driving a Ferrari 458 Italia ($240k)
Again, not the “adventure” that’d I’d hoped we have on the 1/2 week at home with road trips to the Smokey Mountains on the Harley and a night in Maryville after dinner at Sullivan’s. But, quite frankly, any time I can get a full day with my sweetie is a great day and we’re on track for having nine of those back-to-back for the first time in nearly 11 years that aren’t book-ended with a pair of 12-hour freeway drives on two of those days.