By September 2011, it had become clear that Dorothy and I needed to do something about our living arrangements. Allow me to explain.
About 20 years ago, there were some ethical shenanigans going on in the Ohio legislature, and those led to some changes to the law. There have been a few tweaks since, and where we are today is here: lobbyists are allowed to spend $50 per year on food and drinks on behalf of any individual legislator; there is a $25 gift limit; and essentially, lobbyists cannot give anything of value to a legislator.
I have been a lobbyist for many years, but now Dorothy was a legislator, and this really interfered with our routines. We met with the agency in charge of enforcing the legislative ethics laws, and the bottom line was that the gift and food/drink limits applied, and furthermore, Dorothy would have to write me a check for rent anytime she spent the night at my place. If we went to dinner, we had to go Dutch. If we were to travel more than 50 miles, we would have to take her car - it's alright for the legislator to give the lobbyist something of value, but not the other way around.
As you might imagine, this did not sit well with her, but I had some fun with it.
We were already engaged, and we were planning to get married in 2012. Her appointment induced us to move the date up, and on October 26, 2011, we were married in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This also led us to get cracking on the house plans we had been working on, and we put our respective properties up for sale in early 2012. More on that later.
For the rest of the year, we worked on wills, a trust, house plans, and packing up for an eventual move to a rental house, where we would live until our new house was built. The clearing at Wyndanwood continued, and I am forever grateful to my buddy Doug Peabody for all of his help with the clearing.
The other significant event of 2011 was that, after a few months on the new job, Dorothy decided that she could be a good legislator or a good attorney, but she didn't have time to be good at both. So in December 2011, she shut down her law practice. This was a major decision, and one that came with a financial cost, but it was the right decision. She is fully focused on her job as a legislator, and that is only fair to the people she represents.
Today is November 4, 2013. I started this post about 2 years ago...so I'll publish it now and catch up shortly!
Hard to believe that four months have passed since my last post. I'll take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy new year.
This seems like a good time to fill in the blanks for 2011, at least through October. It'll take another post to compete the year, which was stellar in so many respects.
If you've been keeping up. you might remember the enactment of House Bill 95 last spring. On July 26, I was presented the President's Club award from my CEO at our annual leadership dinner for my work on the legislation. The curved piece of glass to the left was the other President's Award that I received in 1999. I'd sure like to get one more before I retire...
Dorothy and I traveled to Cocoa Beach, Florida for some R&R in early July. We both had had a very busy first half of the year, and we just wanted to unwind. So we flew down and enjoyed the weather and that wonderful feeling of having no agenda at all. I like Cocoa Beach because it's not as crowded as other parts of the Florida coast, and you can take a gallon of moonshine to the beach if you are so inclined.
While we were there, one of the members of the Ohio House of Representatives was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Ohio Senate. It just so happened that this was in the 83rd House District, where Dorothy lives. We had talked about this possibility a few weeks earlier, and when we got the news, we went straight to work on Dorothy's application for the House vacancy. It happened that her interview for the appointment was on July 27, the day after the leadership dinner. She must have knocked their socks off in the interview, because a little after 6 PM on the day she interviewed, she got the call - she had won the appointment. That made for two very good days in July, and I was happy to hold the Bible as Dorothy took the oath of office on July 28.
Next on the agenda was a trip to New Orleans in early August with Dorothy. This was for a legislative conference, and why anyone would have a conference in New Orleans in August is beyond me. It is oppressively hot, the air is always thick, and the streets have an unpleasant smell. But other than that, it's great. We tried to spend some time at one of the cemeteries, but we only lasted about 15 minutes - we just couldn't take the sun.
My Euroschlepper daughter Natalie was home for a visit in July and August, and I was able to take her to the next conference, this one in San Antonio. It's very hot in San Antonio in August - it was over 100 degrees every day we were there - but it is much more comfortable than New Orleans. We remembered to see the Alamo.
Back in Ohio, I decided it was time to start cleaning up some of the brush and invasive plants at Wyndanwood. I hired a friend to do most of the work, because I don't have enough time to keep up with it. The amount of work he has done out there is mind-boggling. Over the course of a couple months, he managed to clean up about 2000 feet around the edge of the woods, into a depth of about 30 feet. The change is hard to explain, but the woods look absolutely beautiful. We've rented a wood chipper three times already, and we'll need to rent it at least one more time to finish off the job.
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." - St. Augustine
I've been to 20-some countries and 42 US states. Although my desire to see the world has diminished somewhat - only because I really like being home - I still appreciate the things that can be learned from experiencing new countries and cultures. A trip to Costa Rica about 6 years ago reminded me of how good we have it here. Costa Rica is a country blessed with a warm climate, lots of rain, beaches and mountains. It is also a country that is beset by crime and low wages. One could be perfectly happy there because the climate is agreeable (except during the summer months, but I could say the same about Ohio), housing and food costs are relatively low, and you can fish anywhere and anytime you like. But there are bars in the windows, and it was for good reason that the rental car agent told us to be sure to lock the car, even if we were only going to be away from it for one minute.
Economic well-being is only one facet of a complacent life, but the reality is that where there is poverty, there is crime. Theft is essentially accepted in some places. Jealousy and envy are powerful motivators.
Much of my foreign travel has been to the European continent, where things are stable and predictable. Canada is much the same way. Mexico, on the other hand, is beautiful but with a curse: everyone - and I do mean EVERYONE - is trying to separate you from your money. That might also be the case in Europe and the US, but the attempt to fleece you is not so blatant. And I can walk down the sidewalk in any city in the US (except Las Vegas) without people trying blatantly to rip me off.
I'd love to see the pyramids, Ayers Rock, the South Pole and Mauna Kea. I'd also like to play Pebble Beach and St. Andrew's. The Kremlin would be worth a trip to Russia. But if I spend the rest of my days in Ohio, it won't be a huge disappointment. I have learned enough to know that there is no place like home.
Travels last year took me to Foxborough, Massachusetts, Toronto, Canada and Las Vegas, Nevada. Toronto was all I expected it to be. It's a vibrant international city, and I'm told it's the largest city in the world in which more than half of its inhabitants are not native. Two things disappointed me about Toronto: it is expensive, and there are panhandlers everywhere you look. The airport was also a disappointment. When they recommend that you show up two hours before your flight, they are assuming that the check-in process and American customs will go smoothly. I'd recommend three hours.
Toronto is home to what used to be the tallest man-made structure in the world, the CN Tower. It dwarfs the building around it. Cities like Cleveland, Ohio could learn something from Toronto. The lake front has been beautifully developed, with marinas, walking/biking trails, and beaches.
Toronto is also home to the largest HDTV in North America (not counting the screens that can be found in football stadiums around the country). That TV hangs on a wall at the Real Sports bar, next door to the Air Canada Arena where the Toronto Maple Leafs play hockey. The Hall of Fame Game was being played in Canton, Ohio while we were there, and here is a picture of the 37-foot screen. It helps to stand about a hundred feet away to watch this television.
If only one didn't have to pay five bucks apiece for beer while watching this TV...
Lobbyist for a major Ohio utility, working in downtown Columbus and living in the country. I intend to retire some day, at which time I'll spend my time enjoying the scenery at Wyndanwood and being a burden on my wife.