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 – Mgotalk.com – and occasionally, his life (and opinions) on his blog, chuckbloom.blogspot.com.
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 www.ntif.org 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!