Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sister Connie Jo

Thanks to everyone who reached out to the family as we dealt with the loss of Connie. The funeral at Peace Lutheran in Alma Tuesday was well attended; lots of church friends, former neighbors, relatives, etc. Connie has been laid to rest in Riverside Cemetery in Alma alongside our parents.

I've never been much of a fan of the whole process of having the mortician work at making the person look good. It really was wondrous in this case, though. Connie looked better than she has in years. The really remarkable thing to me is that the expression on her face had gradually gone from confusion and bewilderment over the last couple years to discomfort and pain last week- the expression on her face in the casket clearly showed her at peace and relaxed... anyone who knew her journey of the last few years commented on this. Our niece Heather from Atlanta and nephew Sean from Chicago made it back, and we had cousins from Ann Arbor and Denver make the trek. Thanks to all of you!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sister Connie Jo

The story I heard my Dad tell many times was that when Connie was born, the Doctor was delayed in getting to the hospital. When reached by phone, he made it clear the nurses were to delay the birth until he arrived. They took some rather extreme measures, such as laying across Mom's legs. Connie was oxygen-deprived at birth, and Dad always felt it led to her later health problems.
People who did not know her as a youngster may be surprised to hear that she was a "normal" kid. She was healthy, active, interested in others, passionate about hobbies, pets, and friends. She had a great gift of memory; we all depended on her to remind us of birthdays, give us any phone number we could ask for, keep us all on schedule with school, meetings, work schedules, etc. For a number of years Connie endured the relentless teasing of two brothers and had to share a room with an older sister. In spite of that she was probably the most consistently cheerful of the group, adding an important dynamic to our family.
As she grew into adulthood, Connie slowed down. It was as if she had gradually become developmentally disabled. Tests revealed a hydrocephalic condition, and a shunt was installed to reduce the fluid pressure on her brain. Her condition gradually declined over many years, until finally we helped her move to the Laurels of Mt Pleasant. Several years ago as Connie's cognitive and motor skills were declining, a new brain scan showed significant loss of brain tissue.
In recent weeks Connie had been hospitalized for bronchial and urinary tract infections. The Doctor believes that she suffered first a slight heart attack and then, a couple weeks later, a small stroke. She was no longer able to communicate.
Connie rarely complained about her situation, or about anything for that matter. She continued, until her passing at 63, to inspire us with her attitude. We will miss her.

Friday, October 14, 2011

UK Drum Fair

Jeez- where did the year go? I must be the worst blogger ever, with no entries since 2010. My wife Maria has a brain tumor removed in January, has recovered nicely. The 2011 Chicago Drum Show went well and I'm now making final preparations for a new second annual show, the Chicago Musical Instrument Show, set for November 19&20.
The 2011 UK Drum Fair was held Sep 24&25 in Birmingham, England and I found it well worth the trip. If any of you have been considering a visit to this show, next year would be a good time to go; it will be their 10th Annual show with many special guests and events.
I spent a night with Nick Ormrod (Covent Garden Orchestra percussionist, Sabian endorser) and his lovely wife Mary in London on the way to the show and again on the way back. I always learn a lot about the percussion industry when I speak to Nick and I'm pleased to announce that Nick and Mary will be coming to the Chicago Drum Show in 2012.
Winnie Mensink from Amsterdam set up in the space next to mine at the UK Fair and supplemented my meager book inventory with his stock. Thanks, Winnie! The show traffic was good, there were sizable crowds both days. For me, this show is all about networking. It seems that I spend nearly all my time there in very interesting conversations about book projects, drum shows, new and vintage equipment, and percussion history. It was especially nice this year to visit with Bob Henrit (Kinks), Carl Palmer, and Geoff Nicholls. My vote for the favorite new product goes to the remarkable new drum throne at the Silverstone display. This is a high-end throne custom-upholstered in fine leather- check their site at I hope to be back in 2012 for the anniversary show!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Another historic day at Ford Field

The last game of 2010 for the Lions and the Vikings was Brett Farve's last game as an NFL player. He didn't dress for the game, still injured. His helmet did come to the field and we tested the coach-QB communications in it; I'm shown here holding Brett's helmet at the Telex rack.