Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring has sprung!

One of the signs that spring has arrived in full force is that my freesias start to bloom.Their bold colors and sweet scent just make me smile. I just wish there was a way to keep them going year-round.

There's also a non-freesia bulb that's blooming. I have no idea what it is (obviously I have a short memory here). The only problem is that I don't remember what exactly it is, not that it matters . . .

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Richard Lewis Kolm (1935-2009)

On Saturday, February 28th, my dad died. It doesn't seem like two weeks ago. It doesn't even seem real sometimes. A week ago, on March 8th, we held a lovely memorial "service", which more than 100 family, friends and colleagues attended. It meant a lot to me - to all of us - that so many people shared their memories with us.

I thought I'd share some of our memories with anyone else who might be interested.

- Richard Lewis Kolm Obituary (ANG Newspapers, March 6, 2009)
- Richard Lewis Kolm Biography (written by mom and shared at the memorial, 23.7Mb pdf)

My brother, Brian, and I sorted through and scanned lots of old photos which we posted around the chapel. I turned a handful of them into a slide show. Here's the video, via YouTube:

It was originally set to "Blue Monk", which Gene suggested.

Bri and I also stood up and talked about our own memories of dad. Here is approximately what I said:

One of the things I've been doing the past few days is sorting through more than 40 years worth of family photos. It's brought back so many happy memories – family trips, parties with family and friends, and the activities I did as a kid.

There aren't as many pictures of dad as I expected, though, probably because he was usually the one holding the camera. And when I think about dad, that's often how I remember him – with a camera or video recorder in his hand.

And while he didn't even make it into every roll of photos, he was always there. He was supportive of all my various extracurricular activities - even though I'm not sure he was really that interested in swimming or ballet or soccer. I could always count on his support.

Dad and I did share many interests. He was interested in science, and always encouraged me to study science myself.

His stories about his college days helped me decide to attend UC Berkeley. He made sure I was
well prepared for that too - I'm pretty sure I was the only Freshman in my dorm who already knew the California Drinking Song.

We also shared an interest in history and genealogy. We spent a lot of happy hours researching and compiling our family history. That's a project I plan to continue.

Of course in some ways we're really different. Dad liked to plan and organize, while my style is to do things haphazardly and at the last minute.

But he's always been there when I needed a helping hand, sometimes even before I'd asked for any assistance. He helped me build school projects, was with me when I bought my first car (my only car), and he would even jump right in and do dishes when he came over for dinner.

I admire how honest and responsible he was. Just as an example: when I was in elementary school he wouldn't help me sell Girl Scout cookies in his office. That's because he was a manager, and he didn't want to do anything that might seem like he was putting unfair pressure on the people who reported to him. I found that annoying at the time, but now I really respect that.

And, while he was very hard working, he always made sure he had time for us and for the things he enjoyed doing, like traveling and train watching.

I don't recall ever hearing him being spiteful or intentionally cruel.

I'm proud to be his daughter and I miss him very much.

The last line is really all I wanted to say. And I still have trouble reading it.

Thanks to everyone who has been their for us over the past few weeks. And thank you for being part of dad's life.

Photos, top to bottom (click for larger image):
- Me helping dad build the deck (1968)
- Off on a family trip (1973)
- Me and dad on a hike at Lake Tahoe (1977)
- Getting my PhD (1997)
- Mom and dad in New Zealand (1992)
- Dad, me, Gene and Brian (Christmas 2008

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008


It's been raining off and on for the past couple of days - gloomy and damp and altogether yucky. But lo and behold, about 7pm tonight the temperature dropped enough to turn the rain into that white fluffy stuff. Well, actually sort of damp and sticky, rather than fluffy, but still better than rain. It's kind of hard to remember that just two weeks ago it was sunny and 75 degrees.

Snow! I love it!

There are a couple more photos on my Yucaipa blog.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Last Crop of the Year

We had a chilly rainy day yesterday, followed by almost-freezing temperatures over night, so I wasn't particularly surprised to find that all my basil plants had turned brown when I checked on the garden this afternoon. I decided it was time to harvest what was left of the peppers and tomatoes in my vegetable garden.

The peppers will be fine, and I'll probably toss whatever we don't eat this week into the freezer anyway. The tomatoes, on the other hand, may not be particularly tasty. I'll leave them out on the counter to see if they ripen any more, but they may be as ripe as they'll get. They probably aren't any worse than the artificially ripened tomatoes that you get in the supermarket.

My sugar snap peas, on the other hand, look like they are loving the nippy weather. I can hardly wait until there are enough pods to eat.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Home Again

So here I am, home again. It feels like I brought a piece of New York City with me, since the temperature right now is only in the 50s, instead of in the 70s like it was the day before we left. I may even turn the heat on tonight.

I haven't unpacked yet, because my suitcase didn't make our connecting flight in Chicago. It should be delivered some time this afternoon. That's no big deal, really, except that the refrigerator is bare, and I can't go out to the supermarket until my luggage arrives.

Overall it was an excellent trip. We didn't do everything that we wanted to, so we'll just have to make the trip again sometime.

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Day 5: Herald Square and the Empire State Building

Our last stop was Herald Square. The flagship Macy's department store had an elaborate holiday display that put a sort of whiz-bang mad scientist twist to the season. But Macy's wasn't our goal, the Empire State Building was, and so we headed down 34th street to find the entrance.

Getting up to the observation deck on the 86th floor is a bit like queuing for a ride at Disneyland. No, it doesn't have animatronic tableaux or cheesy music, but there are maze-like paths roped off to follow (fortunately pretty empty Sunday morning), and you are offered additional opportunities to spend your money seemingly at every turn. I wanted to carry a sign that said: no, I don't want buy a special map, or rent the audio tour, or watch the NYC virtual tour, or have a photo taken in front of a green screen (with the backdrop added in later), or buy some expensive souveniers.

We did eventually get up to the top without emptying our wallets, and the view was spectacular. I didn't stay outside that long, though, because the temperature was frigid - and on the south side of the building the winds were fierce.

That's my "I'm very cold" face.
Looking downtown towards the Financial District.
Looking uptown towards Central Park.
Puffed-up pigeons with the Chrysler Building in the background.
Did I mention it was windy?

A fitting end to our trip to NYC!

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