Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year for 2014!

I thought I might write down a few memories that I've made between now and 1960 when I was born to celebrate the new year coming on Wednesday 1/1/2014.
Early memories include Mom, Dad, Granny, Pop pop, Grandfather Nathan, Grandfather Albert, many cousins and Aunts and Uncles gathered for birthdays, family reunions or Christmas & holidays.
Chickens in my Granny and Pop pop's back-back-backyard. Lots of stuff growing there too like okra, tomatoes, beans and then the rose garden too. Paul C. had a green thumb and was a good carpenter too. My grandmother Ann, Granny, was a good cook and was great to spend time with at her house in south San Antonio. I remember boiled okra, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, green beans, spagetti with giant meat balls, fried chicken, biscuits with sausage patties, Mazola corn margarine, dark sorgum syrup for biscuits, special oyster dressing, fried oysters just for me, fried catfish that Pop pop caught on one of his fishing trips. I remember roses!!! all different colors and playing rodeo with their dog Lady. Later the poodle Rommie joined the mix and barked at the birds in the climbing trumpet creeper vines and fig tree. They had peach, plum, apple and mulberry trees. Strawberry plants and swiss chard plants. I hated swiss chard but they would give most of it to the chickens that were in the back back back yard. And pizza from a place that made the best NY style pizza that I had as a child. San Antonio isn't much known for great pizza. And some take out fried chicken from Church's and bad BBQ from Bill Miller's if my Daddy wasn't cooking.
At home, I remember our little black and white Boston terrier Shorty and my swing set, little kids' pool, vegetable and flower gardens. Rock and cactus garden. Sitting on the 'breezeway' while my Dad grilled and drank his beer (and smoked his ever present cigarette). I would be having a Coca-cola or Dr. Pepper or Big Red in a glass bottle. Everything was in glass when I was a little kid before they started putting beer and soda in cans... first steel then aluminum cans.  I remember my Mom cooking pear preserves to use up the pears from our two pear trees. Also make fig preserves out of the figs from Great-aunt Pallie's yard with some strawberry jello added in. The pears sometimes had lemons added to the preserves. But she never made pear butter, that would have been good too. Dad and I would hang out on the breezeway when he was home which in the summer wasn't often as he fixed stuff like air conditioners all summer long. He knew how to fix lots of stuff: gas refrigerators, electric refrigerators, stoves, A/C/Heating (central) and window A/C units. If it had a motor, he could probably fix it.  The TV man came with his tubes to fix the TV when I was small before we had a color TV. I remember corded phones with a LONG cord so you could take it in your room for privacy (in high school).
My sister Beckie was born when I was in 5th grade. She had some special medical needs so I didn't get all the things I wanted after that but my parents made sure we always had food, clothes and shelter. Extras like riding or piano lessons weren't in the budget. College wasn't in the budget either, but in 8th grade my counselor told me that I was going for college-prep honors classes in high school. College went on the radar. I don't know exactly how my parents would pay for it, but it happened thanks to lots of financial aid: grants, scholarships and some help from Granny to start with. My sister entered 1st grade when I started college at Trinity University.
I have lots of good memories of my sister and her toddler/small child years. We weren't best buddies but I did love playing with her. Even if she did destroy most of my Barbie collection! College was a big shock as no one in my family had ever been to college. My Dad graduated from 10th grade and went to work during the end of the depression to help his large family. My Mother graduated from Brackenridge HS in San Antonio and went to work too. Dad joined up and served in the Navy in the Pacific on a destroyer. Mom was a Western Union skating messenger according to what she told me as a kid during the war. Then she worked in a drug store, then for the government at Kelly AFB before I was born.  My Dad had his own business before I was born, Zoeller's Servell Service. He went to work for someone else after I was born so that he would have a steady income for the care of his wife and child.
Anyway, college was a big shock. I had been a straight A student in high school at the top of my class (#4) graduating with honors even a few medals from Jr.ROTC.  Trinity classes were hard and someone told me to take 18 hours my freshman year so that I could major in Engineering. Well I made a straight 3.0 average that semester and lost my honors scholarship! Eeek! After one more semester where I took a 2nd computer class (1st was APL) in FORTRAN, I decided that I liked computer programming, so I changed over to the Computing and Information Science department. Good bye Chemistry and Physics and Calculus. Hello computer assembly language and computer architecture. And more time to take some interesting electives like Asian Religions, Medieval History, Abnormal Psychology, Science Fiction & Reality (English class). I didn't take Art, though I wish I did. I did take Ballet, Modern Dance and ROTC (for 2 years). I got to go to Colorado Springs with ROTC to see the Air Force Academy, NORAD and snow for the 1st time. I had my 1st real kiss and boyfriend. I volunteered with my co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. I helped start a non-hazing non-Sorority Sorority called Zeta Chi that lives on to this day at Trinity.
Well that covers 1960 to 1982 when I graduated with my BS in Computer Science. Enough writing down of memories for now. Back to work... lunch hour is over!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Christmas Letter

December, 2013
Greetings from Texas dear friends,
Here it is! The annual Zoeller/Bloom Christmas letter year-in-review and updates.
It’s been a year of very distinct challenges on almost every front (professional, personal, health) but through it all, we’ve managed to survive, and, we believe, grow stronger!
Chuck (the retired journalist and University of Michigan football/sports blogger) is still the househusband (cooks and plans the meals WELL in advance). However, he has continued two additional duties for which he is totally suited – publishing a bi-monthly magazine/newsletter (Ceili) for the sponsoring Southwest Celtic Music Association (which ALSO produces the annual North Texas Irish Festival) AND is responsible for all content in the festival’s program.
He continues to post blogs on a University of Michigan football blog – – and occasionally, his life (and opinions) on his blog,
Jodie – the City of Dallas IT employee, who braves the daily Dallas commuter traffic, is still with the Communication and Information Services department, but is now working with the City Controller’s office. It meant a new “beginning” and new team workers, but she has adjusted like a real professional. She approaches her fifth year at Dallas City Hall.
Our four-legged family members, BeeGee, the good black cat and Seamus, the terrier-dalmation mix who lives up to his reputation as the house guard; are a year older (although the official age for each is not known) and health and happiness reigns supreme with them.
For the statistical record, our children are: Robert, the hard-working building contractor son, now 33, living in Kingwood, Tex.; Lisa, 26, living in Conroe and almost finished with her psychology studies at The University of Phoenix; while Kelsey, 24, living in Spring, and moving up the management ladder with Sally Beauty Supply.
Our two granddaughters are Riley Claire, 7, and Kaylin Marie, 18 months.
Riley remains a smart-as-a-whip whirlwind blowing through one’s world! Of course, Chuck maintains the same attitude about her – STILL growing up too fast for his taste (but he often wishes his own daughters were still little girls).
But she’s literally “living the Life of Riley!” (most of you might be too young to know what that means) and Robert is doing a wonderful job as a single father!
Kaylin is just the cutest red-headed little girl EVER! She seems to be amazed and amused by everything she sees, touches and does.
Kelsey is also doing a marvelous job in her role as mother, getting plenty of help from Casey and his parents, Ruth and Norm Clow.
Among the year’s “highlights:”
In March, Chuck and Jodie (plus Seamus) returned as Performer Products coordinators (in charge of selling performer CDs) to the annual North Texas Irish Festival (held on the first weekend in March at Dallas’ Fair Park). Last year was their 12th such event together (almost 20 for Jodie), attended by almost 65,000 faithful – the largest cultural event of its kind held in the DFW area, and the biggest event not associated with the State Fair of Texas at Fair Park.
This coming March will be the 32nd event, promising to be even bigger and better than ever. If anyone wants free admission, free T-shirts and free Guinness, just go to and register as a volunteer, or e-mail Chuck or Jodie at the address at the end of this letter.
In July, Jodie’s annual Zoeller family reunion in Boerne (she and Chuck were in charge this past July and will be again next year … for one more year with a taste of Ireland to be introduced to the German descendants). We combined two themes, the 60th wedding anniversary of Jodie’s beloved aunt and uncle, Alice and Jerre Kneip, with a 40th anniversary of the reunion’s return to its current annual status.
It proved to be VERY successful event with a big turnout and many of the Kneips’ family members and friends in attendance.
One added surprise came courtesy of Facebook; while surfing through his phone app, Chuck discovered that a long-ago friend, Rich Stuck (when both were on the Michigan Daily student newspaper at the University of Michigan in the early 1970s) , and his wife were ALSO in San Antonio. Chuck and Jodie, plus the Stucks (from the Miami area) were able to have a great dinner at El Mirador (check it out if you are in the Alamo City) and then surprised an NTIF friend of theirs, Michael Harrison, who was playing a gig at a local bookstore. It turned out to be a great evening of bravado, tall tales from back in the day and some music!
Also in July was a day-trip to Houston for a triple birthday celebration, honoring Jodie (July 12), Lisa (July 21) and Kaylin (July 19). In December, we traveled to Houston for a bundle of birthdays – Riley (Nov. 29), Casey (Dec. 4) and Robert (Dec. 11).
However, in 2013, Chuck’s health issues were the main worries for everyone, but from diversity appears to be a measure of triumph.
At the end of April, a bout with bronchitis turned into a case of pneumonia, requiring a 48-hour stay in the hospital. We thought it was just an isolated thing but at the very end of June, we discovered it was not.
He was taken back to Presbyterian Hospital of Plano and almost immediately after being admitted to the emergency room, it was announced he would be staying for a longer period in time (it turned out to be nine days and missing the Fourth of July fireworks REALLY sucked!).
It turned out to be an episode of congestive heart failure due to too much fluid in his body (among other things).
One of those “among other things” was the discovery of a nasty infection in his feet (made despite two months’ worth of wound care treatments for excessive drainage of blisters forming on his legs) and which, if left untreated, could have spelled serious complications. It was Chuck’s good fortune to have a top-flight wound care doctor (Dr. Hina Rizvi) see him almost immediately, and through her efforts, his legs are back to normal – a place they haven’t been in years!
Chuck received top-notch medical care on a very personal basis from the doctors, all the nurses (who had to put up with his grousing but for whom he is WAY beyond garetful) and staff at Plano Presby. And the superb aftercare treatment provided by Dr. Rizvi and her staff has literally put a spring in his step; he can walk 100 times better than before (although not yet ready for longer distances).
And most of it is due to the dramatic weight loss begun in the hospital and coninued at home with a new diet (for the umpteenth time) and new attitude towards everything. As a result, as of this writing, he has lost 80 pounds and has much, MUCH more to go. But the path is clear and Chuck is sticking to the straight-and-narrow to achieve his goal – to be around as long as humanly possible to see all his family grow up!
As an aside, in this country, we don’t have a problem with the health care delivered to Americans; we possess the best doctors, nurses (who do THE real one-on-one healing) and equipment. The problem is coming to common ground on costs and how to pay for all of it.
In closing, Jodie and Chuck hope the next 12 months will be exciting, fruitful, profitable … and (most of all) healthy for everyone reading this. Let’s hear from you!
Slainte and Shalom!