Because it’s not all about news & politics. And, I think my kids are adorable. Biased? Yup.
Because it’s not all about news & politics. And, I think my kids are adorable. Biased? Yup.
Because it’s not all about news & politics. And, I think my kids are adorable. Biased? Yup.
Feel like playing golf and helping a good cause? Then consider playing in the Tippecanoe County Legal Aid Golf Scramble. It’s a best ball format with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. on August 26, 2005 at the Ravines Golf Course in West Lafayette, Indiana. The cost is $60 per person which includes golf, cart, and a box lunch. If you want to sign up, call Wendy Watson at Tippecanoe County Legal Aid at (765) 742-1068. Checks should be payable to the Legal Aid Corp. of Tippecanoe County, 212 N. Fifth Street, Lafayette, IN 47901.
Proceeds will go to the Legal Aid Corporation of Tippecanoe County which is a not-for-profit United Way agency that provides low-cost legal assistance to low-income residents who cannot otherwise obtain an attorney. Legal Aid does not handle criminal matters or those involving fee-generating litigation. Legal Aid provides assistance to individuals with legal problems involving adoption, guardianships, child support, name changes, custody and visitation rights, paternity, divorce and separation, juvenile/CHINS issues, landlord-tenant disputes, mental commitments, and debt collection or contract defense matters.
In case anybody’s interested in such things, my wife and I keep a baby blog which has details for the past couple of years since Amy was pregnant with Cole and on through the present.
I’ll post the details later, but I wanted to share the good news – Amy & I have a new baby girl. Harper Lee Masson. Born 4:59 a.m. 7/28/05. 8 lbs 6 oz. 21 inches. C-section. Everyone healthy. Amy recovering from surgery. I can’t imagine I’m biased on this account, but she appears to be the most beautiful baby girl ever.
Update: Some pictures available here.
Just thought I’d mention that we seem to be getting close to having a new Masson in these parts. My wife’s contractions are getting closer together (and I’m typing a blog post — nice guy!) So, hopefully we’ll have a new Masson yet today. If the ultrasounds were correct, we’ll be having a little girl. So, my boy will soon have an opportunity to be a big brother. Should be interesting to see how he deals with sharing attention.
In any event, posts might be light around here for awhile. And, if the posts seem more incoherent than usual, be charitable and chalk it up to sleep deprivation.
There was a time I figured I approximated being a young urban professional. But when you find yourself spraying cow dung off of stroller wheels, that’s effectively the end of that illusion. On the other hand, the rib-eye sandwiches at the White County Fair: a little slice of heaven.
I was just reading the obituaries in the Palladium-Item and discovered a high school friend of mine has passed away. I hadn’t spoken with her in quite awhile but I considered her a good friend back in school. She died at the age of 34, leaving behind a husband and two children. She was smart, funny, pretty, and kind. Great with languages. I have no idea what the details of her death were. But, it’s yet another reminder not to take anything for granted. Not to mention, another reminder that being one of the good ones doesn’t mean you’ll last. Rest in Peace. And, strength to her family.
Update 8:00 p.m. 5/9/05: Through the magic of Google, I have received contact from a few people who came across my blog while seeking information about Nina and her death. I’m not sure it’s my place to be the one to share this information with the world, so if any of her family would like me to remove some or all of this, I’d be happy to do so. But, working from the assumption that they would not mind, I learned that Nina’s death was unexpected. She collapsed in the kitchen and was taken to the hospital on Thursday (5/5/05) where she was diagnosed with a double pulmonary embolism. She did not recover and died early Thursday afternoon. (Note: I’ve changed this information from the original entry to correct some errors I made.)
Here is a picture which captures perfectly how I remembered her: consumed by laughter when something struck her funny, which was often:
Here is how her obituary read in the Richmond, Indiana Palladium-Item:
Nina C. Combopiano
Former Richmond resident Nina C. Combopiano, 34, of Skokie, Ill., died Thursday, May 5, 2005.
Survivors include her husband, Michael Whitney; children, Claire Rebecca and Katherine Ann; father, Charles Combopiano; and brothers, Michael and Kevin Combopiano.
She was preceded in death by her mother, Claire Combopiano.
Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Sheil Catholic Center, Evanston, Ill. Visitation will be 4-9 p.m. Monday at Donnellan Family Funeral Home, Skokie, Ill.
Memorials may be made to Northminster Nursery School, 2515 Central Park, Evanston, IL 60201, or the music program at Sheil Catholic Center, 2110 N. Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201.
Originally published May 8, 2005
Update 10:15 a.m. 5/11/05 At the risk of angering the Chicago Tribune’s copyright lawyers, here is the write up in the Tribune from May 10, 2005:
NINA COMBOPIANO, 34
Translator always willing to volunteer
By Stephen Franklin
Tribune staff reporter
May 10, 2005
It was a last-minute plea for help like many others that Nina Combopiano rarely turned down.
After being asked recently to cook Sunday dinner for 40 homeless persons, she agreed, saying she would simply add a few more portions to the tuna casserole she was already making for her family.
“She would always step forward without any questions. Her response would be, `I’ll take care of it,'” recalled Harriet McCullough, a volunteer coordinator for meals cooked at Hilda’s Place in Evanston through the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern University.
Ms. Combopiano, 34, died Thursday, May 5, of a pulmonary embolism at Rush North Shore Medical Center in Skokie.
Her generosity and skill at putting others at ease struck family and friends as only one measure of her zest for living.
She delighted in gatherings, big and small, at her Skokie home, and spending time with her children, Claire, 4, and Katherine, 3, playing and singing along with them. And she loved cooking and dining, especially discovering new foods such as the Malaysian dishes she explored with neighbor Maureen Ang.
Languages fascinated Ms. Combopiano, who graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Italian. She spoke German, French and Spanish and also knew Japanese and the American Sign Language.
She took pleasure in translating documents into Spanish for the Cradle, an adoption agency in Evanston, realizing that it would help Spanish-speaking families, said her husband, Michael Whitney.
And she made a point of teaching a new word in Spanish or sign language everyday to the children at the Mother’s Day Out program at Northminister Presbyterian Church in Evanston, where she worked part-time, he said.
She also helped with an Italian version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, translated for Ogden Entertainment, an international booking agency, and did multimedia projects in Spanish for Sears, Roebuck and Co.
Her love of languages came early on.
When she was growing up in Richmond, Ind., her father, Charles, was the conductor of the Whitewater Opera Company in Richmond and the Sorg Opera Company in Middletown, Ohio, and her late mother, Claire, was a lyric soprano, who performed with both companies.
Her parents made Ms. Combopiano and her two brothers part of their opera world, where they were extras or members of children’s choruses, and plunged them into a rich stew of music and language.
Once, during a stint in Florence, Italy, where her father was taking part in a fine arts program run by Earlham College, her parents realized their daughter’s easy embrace of other languages.
“While playing with her dolls, she would speak this Italian sounding gibberish,” her father recalled.
Update 5/18/05 There is a Guest Book through Donnellan Family Funeral Service.
Besides her husband, father and daughters, she is survived by two brothers, Michael and Kevin.
The Journal & Courier has a story with this heartbreaking introduction:
A 4-year-old girl found dead in her home Wednesday morning endured a history of abuse, neglect and family upheaval in her brief lifetime, according to court documents and a source familiar with her family.
Aiyana Emily Gauvin’s tragic life ended sometime after her stepmother put her to bed Tuesday night with her hands bound and her mouth covered with duct tape, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Thursday in Tippecanoe Superior Court 6.
The rest of the story is equally disturbing. Having a child has really changed my emotional compass on these things. Before becoming a father, I had an intellectual appreciation of these things, but no real emotional reaction. Now, any time I read about a child being mistreated, at some level, it becomes my boy who is being mistreated.
Incidentally, that’s not the only dead child in the Journal & Courier today. According to this story, a deaf woman who is charged with neglect of a dependent in the January 2004 death of her 18-month-old son made an initial court appearance Thursday, four days after giving birth to another child. She is charged with Class A felony neglect in the Jan. 30, 2004, death of her younger son, Evin W. Norris, who was found in a bathtub of scalding water in the family home in Monon.
Just another day in the trenches I guess. It’s probably a bad sign that I don’t even listen to the debtors’ arguments anymore for the most part. “Just because you eventually paid your criminal restitution doesn’t mean that you don’t owe the interest and court costs on my civil judgment.” (Then I stepped away to talk to another attorney who came in, thinking the clients he was filing bankruptcy for had a hearing today. They didn’t.) Meanwhile the debtor kvetched to the judge who listened for awhile and told her the same thing. At that point, she let me know she was living on food stamps – a point that actually made a difference. She also sounded like she was going to file bankruptcy on a $250 debt. (This all arose because she was driving without insurance.)
But, generally, today I had the dregs. A lot of people with no money, a problem of some sort, and attitude. But, we got a few garnishments so I guess that made the day worthwhile.
I had to put my friend to sleep today, November 15, 2004. She had a big tumor on her liver. The vet said that it was almost certainly cancerous and there was little chance they could remove it. She hs been sick for the past 3 weeks. After a few days, we took her into our local vet. At first, our local vet thought it was leptospirosis and gave her a shot and some antibiotics. She got a little better, was eating again and was showing more energy. Then this Friday night, she wasn’t eating and she was very lethargic. Amy took Shady into the vet. By the time she got there, Shady was wobbly. The vet decided he couldn’t help and that Shady should go to the vets at Purdue who have better facilities.
By the time Shady got to Purdue, she couldn’t walk. Amy carried her in. They did an x-ray. There was internal bleeding in the abdomen, but since it was the weekend, they couldn’t really do any more in depth tests. (They said mostly they had to stabilize her, but I think they just didn’t have the right staff over the weekend.) Ultimately, they had to give her a blood transfusion on Saturday and seemed to stabilize her. We went to visit her on Sunday. She was sad to be there, but glad to see us. Still wouldn’t eat. She was very weak. Today, they were able to do an ultrasound and found the tumor. We decided it just didn’t make sense to put her through a tough surgery and a tough recovery when her prognosis was so bad. So, we put her to sleep. There were just no good options. Amy & I held her as she died.
We got her in June of 2000. At first, I didn’t really want a 3rd dog. But, Amy really wanted a puppy, and I decided that would be o.k. as a wedding present. So, Amy picked up a cuddly little black mutt puppy from the rescue she’d been volunteering at. The pup had been found running wild with a pack of wild dogs. Shady was a goofy looking thing. Mostly black with a snow white patch running up her chest and crossing her nose. Thick fur on her neck and chest. Tiny head. When we got her she was small with a great long tail. When she grew up, she had a barrel chest, shor legs, same small head, and her tail remained magnificent. Thick and long, made a great thump. We think she was part black lab, but that certainly wasn’t the whole story. Just a muddled up bundle of dog. “Made up of spare parts” we liked to say.
Such an odd combination of spare parts that she had some hip displasia by the time she was 2.5 or 3 years old. However, she seemed largely impervious to pain. This presented a problem with our “invisible” fence. She’d wander out of the yard and not particularly realize she was doing anything wrong. One time we watched her standing on the fence line with the shock collar on. The collar was beeping, and the skin on her neck was twitching a bit from the shocks. She just wagged. Eventually, we had to get her a belly collar so she could feel the shocks in her belly to get the message across that we’d really rather prefer if she stayed in our yard. Who could really blame her though? Bunnies were constantly wandering into our yard and rudely running off when she came into the yard. If they run, shouldn’t she follow? Now, if they stood still, then she was confused. if they didn’t run, she’d sit down and whine a safe distance away, a bit scared and unsure what to do. Toads, on the other hand, offered no fear. They were simply good playmates. Very fun to paw at. She liked rolling on them but, for some reason, the toads weren’t much on playing back.
One of my first memories of her was as a puppy scampering around the house. We had a little end table with a lamp on it. Shady ran underneath it, got caught up in the cord, and the table “attacked” her. This scared her so much, the poor thing ran to a desk we had against the wall and stuck her head between the desk and the wall, trying to crawl into a safe space and get away from the mean, mean table. That winter, we hadn’t trained her to stay in the yard with our “invisible” fence. So, we tied her on a cord when we let her out. She’d get herself wrapped around the tree. Wouldn’t bark. Could never figure out how to get herself untangled. When you came out, she’d just wag at you happily, as if to ask for a little help. She always *loved* the outside. She’d hang out in the cold pretty much as happily as she’d hang out in the heat. Rain? No problem. The only thing she didn’t like about being outside was lack of company. Sometimes she’d come to the window and bark, just trying to get the other dogs to come out. Often, she’d just lay contentedly on a patch of bricks just beyond the courtyard looking into the back yard. Just enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells. But, neither of the other dogs *ever* had to go out by themselves. Shady was always game to go out with them. This could have something to do with her eagerness to pee on top of any of the other dogs’ urine. Sometimes she’d have to go so badly, and yet she’d wait until one of the other dogs was gone so she could climb over that spot and do her business.
It was good fun to watch Shady and Brooksey, the dalmatian, play. Shady would get excited and scamper away, her back legs almost moving too fast for the front of her body, causing her rear and tail to dip down a bit as she ran. Brooksey, as graceful as Shady was awkward, would run circles around Shady before grabbing at the collar on her neck and dragging her down. Shady would work her way up and the process would resume. Both dogs happily running from courtyard to backyard around to the sideyard and back again. Gracelessness was also apparent when we took Shady on walks. I always joked that she looked like a WWII ship that was nervous about U-boats in the area. Never walking in a straight line, she was always zigging and zagging, running into your legs, running to see what the other dogs were up to, stopping suddenly. Worst walker ever.
Another puppy memory I had was typing in my office. Occasionally, I’d just see her trot by with her dollie in her mouth. Just a little rag doll. She was always so gentle with the stuffed toys. She liked carrying them and laying on them but would rarely chew them or treat them roughly. Also, I remember once when she was a puppy, she got out of bed as I was going to work. (Amy was on Christmas break and still sleeping.) Shady still seemed very tired, but for all the world it looked like she was groggily seeing me off for the day. (As she got older, there was nothing groggy about her in the morning. She was always anxious to get out and patrol the yard.) We crate trained her, and she seemed to really enjoy getting in her crate. Over the years, while Amy was working, she’d stay in her crate during the school days. During the summer, it seemed like she welcomed the occasional opportunity when we’d have her get in there. And, of course, she was always welcome to go in there on her own. We joked that we needed to put a little “off duty” sign on the crate.
Of our three dogs, Shady was the most eager to please and the most attentive to us. She would pretty much always want to be in the same room. Often, she would warm your feet as you sat at the computer desk. When she slept, she liked to sleep on top of your pillows. Once she got comfy, there was really no moving her. (Earning her the nickname “Shady Lady Concrete”) However, if you insisted, there was never any active resistance. She was just limp and heavy. She’d never get mad at you for lifting her up and putting her somewhere else. She had an unfortunate tendency to go roll in stinky stuff in the yard (or sneak out into the adjacent cornfield), but when she came in, she’d go to the bathroom and jump in the tub if ordred to do so. On weekends, when I’d sleep in, Shady really wanted me to get up. Eventually, she started letting me sleep. But, if Amy were up first and gave her a simple “where’s Dad?” Shady would run upstairs and jump on me, happy to have been given permission to start my day.
With our newborn, she was the most tolerant. The other dogs are pretty good with Cole, but I never felt at all nervous when he crawled on Shady. Her tolerance was a little odd, I suppose, given how scared she was when strangers came to the house. She’d bark for quite some time, particularly at tall men who were standing and moving. We always figured it was a result of her upbringing with wild dogs, not having been socialized at an early age to a lot of different humans. And, truth be told, we never get a lot of visitors. There was also an element of protectiveness, apparently. Because when we would leave and Shady was alone with the stranger, her tendency was to quickly become buddies with the person.
Shady was also something of an escape artist. We never could keep her gated upstairs with the baby gate we had. Seemed like she was heavy enough and ungraceful enough that she was barely getting enough air with her jumps to get onto the bed. But somehow she could jump that gate. This earned her another nickname, “The Great Shadini.” Later on, when we started gating the family room to keep Cole in it, Shady could be seen leaping from the kitchen into the family room. She just wanted to be close.
I don’t have any momentous closing thoughts. I guess I’m not the first one to ever lose a dog. But, she was a good dog. I loved her. And I miss her.
November 15, 2004