Archive for the 'Family' Category

Feb 20 2012

Sad Ireland Trip

Published by under Declan,Family

Last Monday my aunt Peg (from my father’s side) called to say that her younger sister, my aunt Frances, had been diagnosed with cancer and if I’d like to see her I should come now.  This was a complete shock as Nathan and I had just seen her last January.  Here she is with my uncle Frank (from my mother’s side):


Peg and Frances are my Dad’s last two sisters alive.  Frances lives in Dublin, Ireland so I got a flight out of San Diego on Wednesday morning and landed on Thursday morning.

Frances’ lovely neighbor, Adrian, and Peg picked me up, we dropped my bags at the house, then he dropped us at the hospital.  I won’t go into all of the details, but Frances knows I’m here and is receiving palliative care to keep her pain free.  We are going day by day but Frances’ condition is terminal.

I’m grateful that I got to see her, that I can support my aunt Peg, that I’ve met so many of Frances’ friends, of Elaine, Nathan, and Erin constantly checking on me, and that work has been 100% supportive of my being gone.

I’m staying in my father’s childhood home, which has been in the family since the 1920s.


Frances is the last of her line left in Ireland (Peg lives in England), so the house will now go on the market.  I’ve visited this house 4 times in my life but I was always comforted to know it, and my family was here.  It is so strange to see things coming to an end.

This is all very sad.  I haven’t tweeted out about it because it’s hard to get into 140 characters, and because I know I’ll get a torrent of kind words and then I’ll completely lose my shit.  But as my aunt Peg says, “you wouldn’t have been born with tear ducts if you weren’t supposed to cry.”  Crazy old woman. 😉



Frances passed away peacefully at noon today, 2/21/12.  We’re keeping busy with visitors and arrangements.


UPDATE 2 2/27/12

It’s been an active week.  Peg and I did a lot of calls to let people know.  We went to the church to set up the services (short service on Friday, long mass on Saturday, followed by the burial).  We visited the funeral home to have the remains dealt with, and to take care of the obituary, which was online before we even got home.  We set up a reception for after the Friday service.  We dug through piles of paper and drawers and things that seem way too personal for us to be looking at.  But that’s our job now.  It’s surreal.

Tons of friends and the few family left in Ireland were stopping by the house to sit and talk – and drink tea.  The Fleming family has amazing family friends from the the old and new neighbors and they all stopped in at some point to lend support.

On Friday, the remains arrived at the house for a viewing from 2p-5p, then the crowd walked behind the hearse up to St. Columbus church, where Frances had been a very active parishioner for her whole life.  Peg and I were carried in a limo, so we picked up the little old ladies who couldn’t walk that well.  There was a short service with over 100 people attending, then Peg invited people to a local hotel for soup and sandwiches.  About 45 people came over to the hotel, which is good, because that’s how many we reserved 😉

Frances was a founding member of the Glasnevin Musical Society and many of her great friends are also members.  Frances left specific instructions for her mass, and one of the Society friends took over and organized the whole thing, including liaising with the church folks.  She was awesome!  They sang at the service on Saturday and they were beautiful!  I captured some of the sound on my iphone.  When I get home I’ll try to clean up the sound and see if it comes anywhere near the reality.  The mass was followed by a drive to the Glasnevin cemetery for the burial.  Take a look at that Wikipedia link.  There are 1.5 million people buried in that cemetery, and the monuments are enormous!  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Then some us went to a local pub for lunch and to decompress.

I wanted Peg to get away from all of this on Sunday, so we asked a good friend from across the street, Adrian, to drive us to Powerscourt waterfall in beautiful County Wicklow, just south of County Dublin.  We ended up overshooting and ended up about 40 km south, and never made it into Powerscourt, but we saw some beautiful country and mountains.  Even in February, this is a gorgeous country.

Today, we visited the family solicitor to get all the legal stuff going.  Neither Peg nor I live in Ireland, so there were a lot of questions, but we got it started.  I head home on Wednesday, and Peg is hanging out in Dublin for a few more weeks to work through the issues.  I hate leaving her alone, but I can’t wait to get home either.  I’ve had assurances that the friends here will keep her company.  I’m looking into coming back in the summer to help with closing up the house for sale.

So, that’s the facts, ma’am.  I’m really looking forward to getting home to my family and looking back on all this.  I’m even looking forward to going back to work!  I could use some normality back in my day.  Finally, I’m looking forward to getting back to the gym.  EVERYTHING is fried here.  And awesome.  😉

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Feb 13 2011

Tour de Palm Springs 2011

I just got back from my second Tour de Palm Springs Century bike ride.


Here are some stats:


Avg Speed: 15.0 mph
Max Speed: 38.3 mph
Time in Motion: 06:35:36
Actual Time on the Ride: 08:33:40

I had a small data problem when my bike computer got paused for about 4 miles after the 50 mile lunch and get-a-new-tire-installed stop. Full Garmin stats here.

Compared to 2010:

Average Speed: 14.1 mph
Max Speed: 36.9 mph
Time in Motion: 7h 10m
Actual Time on the Ride: 9h

It was a little chilly, like last year:


There were four of us riding:


Dante, me, Kitchen, and Mike. I’d ridden with Kitchen and Mike last year. This was Dante’s first century and, despite the lack of sunscreen, he finished great!

Just as I was about to ride out in my wave of people, I got a tap on the shoulder. I turned around and a dude says, “You’re Declan!” I said, “yep!” while trying to figure out where I knew him from. I finally asked, nicely, “who are you?” and he said this was his first ride and he’d found my ride post from last year and it helped him a lot. Very cool! Except by then, my riding buddies had taken off and I was all alone! 😉 I caught up with Dante pretty quickly, and ditched him trying to figure out his new SPD shoes and pedals. Eventually I caught up with Mike and we stuck together during most of the ride. We never saw Kitchen until we finished. He was riding a fixie, so we knew his pace would be a lot different from ours.

The ride was just like last year, except for more accidents. I saw a really bloody crash in the first few miles of the ride. And I saw at least five others. I wonder of there are just too many riders. The whole ride seemed crowded, and that’s either from the 3000 more riders than the 7800 last year, or I was going a bit faster and keeping up with the pack more.

I’ve been pretty lucky in terms of mechanical difficulties on long rides in the past, but my luck ended at the mile 50 lunch break. There is some dangerously potholed road just before the break, and I felt my bike having trouble as I pulled in. I looked down at my back tire, and it was all swollen in one area. Mike and I had teamed up with another rider named Guido, and he said it looked like the lining in the tire was bad. I took the bike over to the mechanics area, and Guido was right! I was hoping my ride wasn’t finished just half way through, so I asked how much a new tire would be. $10!!! WOW! That works!


KHS Bicycles ran the mechanics stop and I’m very grateful for the low cost repair. And the no cost service! It took about 15 mins to wait for the tech to get to me, then about 5 mins for the fix! Yay SAG stops!

Here are Guido and Mike at mile 72:


After the mile 92 SAG stop, Guido and I ditched Mike and shot out ahead. I was dog tired and just wanted to get to the end. Guido eventually got ahead, and we all finished within 40-50 mins. Guido even waited to cheer me on!


Then my real cheering section yelled at me to come hear them!


That’s Dante’s fiance Mercedes, Elaine, Erin, and Elaine’s mom Donna.

Kitchen got to the end about 15 mins before I did, then Mike showed up about 15 minutes after me. We never knew what happened to Dante, but I think I spotted him today:


Elaine rode the 56 mile ride and did great! If she ever blogged or tweeted, you’d hear ALL about it… 😉

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May 09 2010

Happy Mothers Day, E!

Published by under Declan,Elaine,Erin,Family,Food,Fun,Nathan

To celebrate Mothers Day, we went and picked up the boy at SDSU and went to Ali Baba in El Cajon. We had the 4 Person Feast, and it started with a blanket of bread:


and ended with a trough of lamb, chicken, rice, and so much food that we filled three take home boxes. All for $60! Very good deal. Then we dropped the boy back at school:


and I snapped one more picture:


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Jun 13 2009

Erin’s Award and Promotion Ceremony

Published by under Declan,Elaine,Erin,Family,Nathan

Erin’s officially a high schooler! On Wednesday, she got an award for her work in the Drama Club:

Here are the happy parents!

Nice work Erin!

(with Mr. Sykes, the drama coach)

Then on Thursday, Erin walked for her promotion ceremony:

There was pretty music:

which caused a lot of hugging:

and smiles:

and posing:

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Apr 19 2009

2009 Spring Break Road Trip – Las Vegas

Erin and I took off early on Saturday morning:

to get to our first stop, Las Vegas! This was Erin’s first time so I wanted to make sure she saw the most important part, Barry Manilow!

Ok, not really – our goal was the Blue Man Group but first we needed to get a good meal. I looked out the window of our hotel and saw the Peppermill, a great place my buddy TJ intruduced me to on my last LV visit. Erin was impressed with the very colorful sugar:

Ok, so was I:

Next, we walked (and walked and walked) the Strip:

Caught some amazing magic:

Then finally saw the men of blue:

When I took Nathan to this show a few years ago, I neglected to bring a camera, so we missed this shot…

Erin really wanted to see the Excalibur, so we hoofed it down the Strip again after the show and she scored a nice image:

Sadly, the dragon statue is gone now. A guard told us that it was breaking down and they couldn’t get parts. I blame the IT department, or this Emo kid:

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Aug 09 2008

2008 Illinois Trip: Notarus Visit – The Final Final Chapter

So, I figured, I’m going to Chicago at the end of this long trip, let’s see Mark and Leah. Maybe a couple more UIUC/Chicago buddies. Mark and Leah ran with it and hosted a great BBQ with all kinds of blasts from the past. I only wish we were less exhausted and could enjoy it more!

Mark, the man with the meat:

Leah “I hardly KNOW her”:

Jason Hoos:

Mark demonstrates his child care technique:

Chirs Tromboski (I knew I’d spell it wrong, so why not be absurd?):

Dorothy Moe, wasted:

Elizabeth Badrov, hitting on me, as usual:

Super cutie Kate Badrov with Kera in the background:

Some guy:

Liz and Heather do what they do every day, plan to take over the world:

More pictures here:

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Aug 09 2008

2008 Illinois Trip: Naperville – The Final Chapter

Well, kinda.

One of my best buds is Greg, my brother in law. We sneak off and play Trivia, drink beer, and eat chicken wings. Usually before or after 2 or 3 movies. Sweet…

A highlight of a visit to Elaine’s sister Beth is when they start drinking and get caught in a darkly descending spiral of hysterical laughing. It usually ends in someone peeing. This was a bonus year because their other sister, Jean, made the trip up to Chicago. This adds an unstoppable critical mass to the spiral. Enjoy:

Beth has lost it. Now it’s Elaine’s turn:

Jean tips over:

Finally, Beth’s head asplodes:

They hate me now, but someday they will appreciate that I had my camera shipped 2000 miles to capture this. Like I care… 😉

I got some more time to play with my Lensbaby and got some nice shots. Here’s Rebecca:

And Rachael:

Jean’s daughter Candice (not Kelly. Don’t ask.):

Jean’s son Ryan:

A bunch of cousins:

More attitude than I can handle:

Just to be fair:

We had a great time in yet another palatial basement. I wish we could have basements out in California. The lack of humidity, bugs, and lots of heat help… a little.

More pictures:

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Aug 09 2008

2008 Illinois Trip: Champaign

Garcia’s Pizza! L’il Porgies! First Wok! Monical’s Pizza! Papa Del’s Pizza! Ok, I sent those pictures while I was on the road… 😉

Elaine and I lived in Shampoo-Banana for nearly 15 years, first as undergrads, then as professionals. I worked at UIUC the whole time, while Elaine went from printing to computer support to airline pilot. The kids were born there, and Nathan still keeps in touch with his daycare buddies. Here are Sam, Nathan, and Hannah:

And their mom, Ellen on the right:

Erin, in the middle, had about hit her limit of being gracious about meeting people she didn’t know as you can see by her thrilled expression. Declan vs a 13 year old girl. Guess who will win… 😉

We had lunch at Papa Del’s with Leslie (I failed to get a picture, we were talking so much), Daver, and b.:

I had a couple deep dish slices because they were fast, but Elaine held out for her favorite:

Papa Del’s thin crust piled with all kinds of good stuff. Fun fact: She LOST half a pound on this trip, whereas I had to buy a whole row of seats to get home. Grumble…

I went walking around campus and surprised Lynnell Lacy:

and shot some buildings. With my camera… Here’s where we got married:

St. Johns church.

This is the main Library:

Geek that I am, I couldn’t resist meeting up with new UIUC buddies Matt Cordial and Tim Donahue from the UIUC libraries. No picture tho, it was too friggin hot!

Here’s the Undergrad Library, which was build underground so as not to cast a shadow over the Morrow Plots, the first something or other AG something.

Obligatory Quad, Alma Mater, and Altgeld Hall shots:

Ok, that’s done. So now we can go drinking and play Bingo with the Wolfs – Megan, Greg (the kids), Penny, and Bob (the old ones):

Yep, that’s Greg in a Marilyn Monroe wig, singing “Happy Birthday” to someone. We were at a bar in downtown Champaign called Boltinis. The owner is a buddy of Greg’s and was having trouble getting much business on a Tuesday night. He asked Greg if he had any ideas, and Bingo night was born. Greg’s a performer (“ham”) and plays lounge lizard “Marv” perfectly.

We had a great time and won a lot of shots.

Which we fed to Elaine. Erin was NOT amused:

Every Wednesday, since I was a pup, there is a crew that meets for BREW (Beer Refreshment Every Wednesday) at Joe’s Brewery (used to meet at Coslows – I’m that old…) in Champaign. Luckily, our trip spanned a Weds, so I dropped in and saw some old friends. Here’s Warner:

And Charley:

And Debbie with kid!

I also ran into an old business partner, Mike Smeltzer:

Elaine’s friend Kim came out to join us:

Megan and Brian were there too. Not sure if they were meeting us, or if they are just at every bar all the time…

We then had to eat, so we hit Monical’s (Jerry, eat yer heart out!):

Then capped the night off with a Black and White from Jarlings:

On the way out of town on Thursday, I had lunch with my old friend Robin:

More pictures:

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Aug 09 2008

2008 Illinois Trip: Bloomington

Next, we drove up to Bloomington to celebrate Rich and Judy Koch’s 50th anniversary. So when all y’all ask why the heck we chose July to visit Illinois, you know whose fault it is… 😉

There was a reception at a restaurant in Bloomington, and here’s where I saw some brothers and sisters I hadn’t seen since 2001.

Here’s Nuala – we’d actually seen her in Belleville, but I didn’t have my real camera yet, just the iPhone’s camera:

Brendan’s sporting the Hell’s Angels look now:

Diardra and Doug were there too:

Some of these pictures are from after mass the next day.

Kevin had also driven up with Brendan:

I was having a little fun with my Lensbaby. His hair doesn’t really look like that.

The “OOO,” Una was also there:

The only sibling missing was Aidan. He and Renia had just given birth to a new boy, so they couldn’t travel. Welcome Jacek Michael Fleming!!!

Here are the bunch of us, with Rich and Judy on the ends:

The Hardys are always gracious hosts and put us up in their palatial basement for 2 days:

Tim Flynn, a buddy from UIUC, joined us at Avantis (mmm, Avanti’s bread…):

And I got to see my grade/high school buddy Jim Taylor:

I hadn’t seen him in 20 years! After lunch, we got to go see his mom, Phyllis. She was one of my mom’s best friends:

Here’s the public housing I grew up in:

Imagine 9 people living in half of that building. Fun times… 😉

This is getting long, so tons more pictures from Bloomington here:

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Aug 09 2008

2008 Illinois Trip: Fairview Heights

We started the trip in FairView Heights where Elaine’s mom lives.

Ok, to be honest, we flew in to St. Louis and my first stop was White Castle:

MMMM!!! 4 Doubles with Cheese!

Ok, on to family. My brother Kevin, and his son Kevin, live in Belleville, the next town over. Randy and Nuala were also in town, so we all hooked up at Denny’s for lunch. Here’s little Kevin:

Here are the little and big Kevins wishing us a fond farewell, later:

I met Randy, Nuala (my youngest sister’s husband):

We mostly hung out at Elaine’s mom’s (Donna) house with Elaine’s brother Matt and his kids:

Here are all the decent pictures from that leg of the trip. I’ve got a bunch more, but I thought I’d show some restraint for once:

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