Ralphie was in the Seton Medical Center ICU. (04/07/07)
The month began with a very unfortunate situation. On April 4, we got a call informing us that my cousin Ralphie was in the intensive care unit following emergency surgery to stop internal bleeding. The surgeons were able to curtail the internal bleeding, but due to a significant complication, the doctors didn't expect him to survive the night.
Out of respect for his privacy, we can't really get into the circumstances on a public forum like a blog, but it was a very dire situation. Just hearing that he wasn't expected to survive the next 24 hours was so shocking to me. I couldn't believe the words I was hearing. And then fearing the worst, an incredible sadness swelled over me.
Ralphie and Michele with their kids Dozer and Liele in 2005. (08/05)
I had just seen Ralphie less than a month ago at Liele's birthday party. You just don't expect to hear that someone age 35 could now be in the hospital with mere hours to live. I was not only sad for Ralphie, but for his sister Michele, and especially his parents, who are also my godparents.
We cancelled our Easter plans so that we could drive up to the Bay Area to be with the family members during this difficult time. It was hard seeing him in the hospital like that hooked up to all sorts of machines. And when we were in there, he was still on the respirator, which was breathing for him. It didn't appear as though he would pull out of it.
Ralphie chillin' at a birthday party last year. (07/08/06)
But thanks to everyone's prayers and positive thinking, Ralphie found the strength to survive. After spending two full weeks in the hospital, most of which in the ICU, he's now back home and recuperating. He's not out of the woods yet and still faces some major hurdles. But his spirits are in good shape.
In fact, when I talked to him on the phone the other night, I made a comment about how he's "not being ready to run a marathon just yet," to which Ralphie replied, "Even before all this, I don't think I was ready to run a marathon." It was good to hear him laugh. I hope to hear a lot more of it in the years to come.
Liele and Tio Jimmy had fun dying Easter eggs. (04/07/07)
On the flip side, spending the weekend in the Bay Area allowed us to spend time with family members that we weren't expecting to see that weekend, like Michele and Lisa's daughter Liele. In fact, Liele and I got to do one of my favorite springtime activities: color easter eggs.
I really get a kick out of the egg wraps that they have now. You know, the ones you slip over the egg and drop in hot water, and then the wrap clings to the egg? Mad crunk, yo. Mad crunk!
John Paul and Anna show off the Easter eggs they found. (04/08/07)
And on Easter itself, Tim and I had fun watching Anna and John Paul hunt for Easter eggs in my dad's backyard. While the kids were occupied with other stuff, my dad went back there and hid about 24 easter eggs.
They found the first 18 or so right away. The next five took a few more minutes, but they were still missing one. After about 15 minutes, my dad went back there to help them find the last one. It was really cute watching them hunt for eggs.
The New Tomorrowland at Disneyland, courtesy of CharlesPhoenix.com. (1968)
What else happened this month? On the 13th, we bought tickets to see a slide show by Charles Phoenix, a self-described "histo-tainer" who puts on these spellbinding slide shows out of vintage slides from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. These are slides that he acquires through estate sales and antique stores.
But unlike the dozens of boring vacation slide shows that you've sat through in the past, the Charles Phoenix slide show was HILARIOUS. His amazing slides, combined with his fascinating historical commentary, made for an unforgettable show. The focus of this show was Southern California, but he also does other themed shows. I hope to attend many more. Check his website for upcoming events.
A night at LA County's last operating drive-in movie theater. (04/14/07)
Speaking of vintage Americana, our friends Jason and Jarrod invited us to join them at the drive-in movies. We met up near the Vineland Drive-In, the last drive-in movie theater in Los Angeles County, and one of only four remaining drive-in theaters in all of Southern California.
It was the first drive-in movie I've been to since I was 10 years old. My brother Robert (7 years older than me) brought me along one night with his friends and we saw "The Hills Have Eyes" (the original version) from the back of a pick-up.
Tonight, our movie selection was Grindhouse, the double-featured homage to cheesy '70s action flicks. Although Grindhouse wasn't that great, it was the perfect movie to see at the drive-in theater. Despite the fact that it was freezing cold that night, we had lots of fun.
Tim, Hoku Ho, Don Ho, Steve and James. (05/2002)
We were also saddened to hear about the passing of the legendary Don Ho on April 14. We had the fortunate experience to see his show during a 2002 trip to Oahu. We even posed with him for photos and got autographs. I have a great picture of us with Don Ho that he autographed, but unfortunately we don't have a working scanner, so this dark, flashless photo we took with the digital camera will have to suffice for now.
Seeing Don Ho was one of my biggest goals during our Hawaii trip, and I'm glad we had the chance. It's something I've always wanted to see ever since he was on the Brady Bunch. And while not as well known, I'll also never forget Don Ho's duet with Broadway diva Patti LuPone on an episode of the ground-breaking show "Life Goes On."
What you don't expect is that Don Ho's show is SO FUNNY! In fact, most of it was him telling jokes. He opened his show with the classic Tiny Bubbles, after which he muttered, "I hate that song." He also closed his show with Tiny Bubbles, adding "My audience is so old, they won't remember that we played it once already."
Even though he barely sang, Don's show was thoroughly entertaining. He will surely be missed. Aloha, Don Ho!
Jon & Amy and the awesome DCA corn dogs. (04/15/07)
The next day we went to Disneyland with our pals Jon and Amy, who were there to purchase their annual passes. In addition, we wanted to ride the Red Hot Chili Peppers-enhanced rides one last time before they revert back to their original music. There wasn't much to write about that day, but I just wanted an excuse to run this really funny picture of Jon and Amy eating corn dogs!
Happy 3rd Birthday John Paul. (04/08/07)
On April 21st, my little brother from another mother John Paul turned three. He's growing up so fast! Happpy birthday John Paul!
Lastly, on April 22, we saw a great show at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. It was called 100 Years of Broadway and featured a review of some of the best Broadway moments from the last 100 years. Our favorites included "All That Jazz" from Chicago, "This is the Moment" from Jeckyll & Hyde, "Music of the Night" from the Phantom of the Opera, "And I Am Telling You" from Dreamgirls, and "Seasons of Love" from Rent.
The Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. (04/22/07)
We could have done without "Sherry" from the Frankie Valli vehicle, Jersey Boys and "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" from the Billy Joel musical Movin' Out (we're not a big fan of jukebox musicals). But overall, the show was great.