Will the (pizza) circle be unbroken

Our daughter Leah started her first real job Monday. She’s working at Ramundo’s Pizzeria. It’s a family-owned small business, but it looms large within the dubbatrubba family.

Our oldest, Gabriel (age 19) has been working there since the location in our neighborhood opened two and a half years ago. Son #2 Peter also started working there when he was 16. Now he’s away at college, but Leah (who turned 16 in June) slid right into his old slot, working the sandwich/salad bar. She didn’t even have to interview – her older brothers’ work ethic got her a free pass.

Gabriel has moved up the food chain (pizza chain?), starting as part of the pizza-making crew, then doing deliveries (which pays better), and now he’s the night manager a couple times a week, working around his class schedule at the University of Cincinnati.

The owner is super nice. The pay is good… the freedom it affords our kids is even better. Gas money for the car. Yet another guitar for Gabriel, some Doc Martens for Leah, and funding for a Robinhood investment account for Peter (dude doesn’t buy stuff… he still has every nickel he ever made).

The owner is named Tony Ramundo… but you probably could’ve guessed that. (Photo credit: Forrest Sellars, Community Press, in this article)

But it’s not about the cash, really. It’s learning to show up when you’re supposed to, working hard when you’re there, treating customers with courtesy and respect, getting along with your co-workers, earning promotions through your efforts. All the habits they’re forming now that will serve them well, well beyond when they’re serving pizzas.

Free shift meals too!

It’s said that small businesses are the lifeblood of a community, and the American economy. I’ll raise a toast to that! (Craft beer buckets available at Ramundo’s for the incredibly low price of five cans for $15…)

photo credit: Yelp

Two far gone

Here’s a photo of our second child, Peter, taken just a short while ago:

And here’s a shot of him from yesterday:

We dropped him off at college, at Ohio University. Abandoned him, really, at the tender age of 18.

Our oldest goes to school in town, so Peter is the first one to be truly “away” at college. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive, but it seems light years away.

I know he’ll be fine; it’s the rest of us that I’m worried about. Peter is a “glue guy” as the sportscasters like to say. Easygoing, funny, gets along with everyone. A straight arrow. And more than happy to chauffeur his two younger siblings around. With him gone, the sibling dynamic will change, and the family fabric will be altered. We’ll all have to adjust to life sans Pedro.

I know it’s just the first in a series of goodbyes, of slowly but surely letting go… but that doesn’t make it any easier.

How many days until Parents Weekend?

Extra salt, please

We got back from our beach vacation a week ago. I’ve been missing it ever since. Mostly, I miss this:

The gloaming is the best time of day on the beach. It’s quiet, other than the waves (which rank right up there with Buffalo Tom and Superchunk songs on my list of favorite sounds). Peaceful. Relaxing. Gorgeous.

If I’m lucky, I get a couple weeks of beach time every year. That’s not enough. Every day, I hear the ocean calling my name, like the sirens drawing in Jason and the Argonauts. It’s my happy place. What’s not to love about kayaking, bodysurfing, swimming (or just floating), walking along the shore and generally just chilling?

Of course, if I’m at the beach with my wife’s extended family, there’s usually some sort of elaborate planning for our latest opportunity to “go viral.” It never happens, but that doesn’t stop them from scheming. In past years, it was a flash mob and a choregraphed video. This year, it was a drone shot of human letters for the US Women’s National Soccer Team.

We chose the font called “Crooked”

We didn’t make Ellen (yet again), but it’s fun to dream.

One of my co-workers is one of those adult Disney freaks. (I’m sure you know one… stage an intervention if you can.) She bought a condo just outside Disneyworld, and works from there several weeks each winter. I’d be happy to follow her lead and work from a condo near the ocean… any volunteers to buy it for me? You can visit any time….and the first piña colada is on the house.

16 going on 26

My precious, darling daughter is 16 today! Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be sappy and saccharine, because that doesn’t mesh with Leah’s personality. It’ll be sassy instead, because that’s how she rolls.

My wife and I actually remembered her birthday, so she’s already one up on Samantha.

Blur = Bleep.

But there have been a few years when we were heading to vacation on her birthday… there’s nothing quite as festive as spending your special day stuck in a car for 12 hours. I’m glad she’s in Cincinnati for this one. She’ll probably be celebrating by sleeping until noon. Or 1 p.m.

Facts!

Leah’s turning 16 today, but she’s an old soul. She’s great at carrying on polite conversations with adults (present company excluded usually).

She’s very empathetic, kind, caring… wait, this is turning sappy, isn’t it?

The scary D is just ahead: Driving. I signed her up for an online driver’s ed course yesterday. How do they go from bumper cars to real cars so quickly? And more importantly, where was an app for driver’s ed when I was a kid? (Answer: 40 years in the future.)

Here’s the most recent photo I have of Leah, at Peter’s high school graduation. (I don’t follow her on Insta… I’m sure there’s something more current there.)

She isn’t always smiling, but when she is, it lights up our universe.

Leah is also the kid that shares my love of indie rock. She’s bummed that she’ll have to miss the Beck/Cage the Elephant/Spoon concert because she’ll be working as a camp counselor. But there will be other times, other shows. I’m sure that at those shows, I’ll be told to stay far away while she hangs out with her friends. But that’s OK. I’ll still be there with her. And I’ll always be there for her.

So now, instead of some sappy song, here’s a tune that Leah loves.

You’re my boy, Blue!

We are gathered here today to say goodbye to an old and dear friend. Someone you could count on through thick and thin. He was reliable, trustworthy, always there when you needed him, and always up for an adventure. But it was time for old Blue to move on, after so many years of faithful service.

Yes, the 2003 Honda Odyssey is gone, after nearly 17 years, and 152, 322 miles. We’ve been through a lot together. Four kids grew up in that van… and the carpeting on the floor has the juicebox stains to prove it. Thousands of school drop-offs. Hundreds of trips to practices and games: baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse. Dozens of summer vacation trips: Florida, Vermont, Alabama, New Hampshire, New York, New Orleans. While we were visiting all those News, Blue got old. But he was still my boy.

Blue was passed along to our oldest kid, who cleaned it up and made it feel new again. It was a rebirth for Blue. But eventually our son moved on too… when you’re paying for gas and your job is delivering pizzas, you need something that gets a bit better mileage.

So Blue sat in our driveway, taking up space, looking forlorn. It was time to move on. It was for the best.

Now Blue is dearly departed. He’s gone, but not forgotten… especially because I gave him to my brother, who lives two blocks away from me. Blue is still going strong. Blue is still my boy!

The crew

Most families from my generation have photo albums where their most precious pictures are stored. I have a photograph of a photograph, sent via text.

That’s me and my squad, my crew… my mom and siblings. Looks like we were checking out a parade, perhaps? I’m the one striking a cool yet casual pose on the railing, resplendent in my turtleneck and double-breasted overcoat. (Eat your heart out, Zoolander!)

There may be other photographs of my mom with all four of her kids, but not many. She died not long after this photo was taken.

Yesterday was the birthday of my dad. He passed away in 2010… would’ve been 88. I cannot fathom what life must’ve been like for the 41 years when he was still around, but my mom was out of the picture.

I feel like we kids cut him some slack when he was raising us, at least subconsciously, because we knew he was working double duty. But still, it was no easy task.

Here’s to you Herb… rest in peace, after a job well done.

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