For Pumpa

Harold Meyers Kimball; aka Harry, Hal, Crash Kimball, Dad, Pumpa and yes even Pumpina. It wasn’t until recently that I was made aware that my brother Greg had invented the name Pumpa when he was just learning to speak. I have known him as Pumpa for all of my life, and had assumed that everybody else did as well.

There is some majesty and grandiosity in the name Pumpa. The mere mention of the name invokes so many memories that it is hard to know where to begin. One of my earliest memories of Pumpa was lighting off fireworks in our backyard in Dixon. Of course, these were not garden variety fireworks, he was a Kimball after all! Let me put it this way; they had to bury a 3 inch diameter metal pipe into the ground to launch these suckers. The launching of each mortar was a test of dexterity, resolve and guts. Add what I’m sure was a few brewskies into the mix, and it made for quite an entertaining show!

Each mortar was different; the “regular” mortars had long wicks that would hang out of the pipe. Pumpa would drop the mortar into the pipe while holding onto the fuse then he would light it once it hit bottom. I remember he always ducked a bit while quickly distancing himself from the launcher as if it increased his chances of surviving if something went wrong. Seconds seemed like minutes as the spark slowly crawled up the side of the pipe and then inside. Greg and I would cringe in anticipation of the launch… BOOM and we would arch back to look at the dazzling lights in the sky. Some mortars had shorter fuses which would sometimes require two people to manage, one to hold the fuse and drop it as soon as the other had lit it. As soon as it did light, it always seemed to surprise them both as they scampered away in the opposite direction quickly followed by… BOOM! Occasionally all the fuss over lighting it was followed by silence with Greg and I still cringing, waiting for the tell-tale sound. When seconds did actually turn to minutes Pumpa would declare “we’ve got a dud!” To which Yaya and Mom would immediately respond with “now be careful!!” This was fascinating to us as we never knew what to expect, and there was the imminent risk of somebody getting hurt! Pumpa would approach with much trepidation. He would tap the pipe with his foot as if to encourage it to come out. Ultimately it would require a splash of whatever liquid was handy, usually beer, to quench our fears of a late launcher. But it was always on to the next, no matter the danger of the one prior. The show stopped only when the mortars ran out, or when the neighbors complained that their roof was on fire – seriously.

Pumpa was very much like those mortars, full of enough potential energy to light up the sky with a show of dazzling beauty. Sometimes his fuse was short while other times we would leave disappointed or frustrated. But we would always return for more because this Kimball could sure put on a spectacular show; filling our nights with expertly told ghost stories, our minds with poetry recounted from memory, our eyes with the art which he loved so dearly, our souls with never ending charity, and our hearts with his unconditional love. Pumpa embodied the all the majesty and grandiosity that his name suggests.

These last months that we were fortunate enough to spend with him were his grand finale, far greater than anything he was able to accomplish before. Each day was a test of dexterity, resolve and guts and he faced it all without ever complaining. The spectators came from far and wide, every one of them touched by Pumpa’s life. Every day he would fill our skies with beauty, leaving us with a finale that we will never forget.

Pumpa, rest easy now as your light will be part of the night sky for eternity.

Cleaning house

Its about time I cleaned this place up. Although I’m still not sure about how often I’m going to post, there is nothing like a clean slate to get motivated. Funny how its easier for me to clean house on-line than it is in real life! Perhaps I can use this as motivation to do the same at the office and at home… I’ll let you know how it goes!

Christmas at 0° Latitude and 68°F

This year´s holiday celebrations have taken me to Quito, Ecuador with Katty and her family. Although we have celebrated Christmas before outside of Chicago, this marks the first time I am away from my family. Thankfully, I feel like part of the family here in Quito! Their traditions are a bit different than that of our family. The big family dinner is late on Christmas eve and the presents are opened at or after midnight. This doesnt exactly jive with Papa Noel (Santa) coming down the chimney in the middle of the night, so the Niño Jesus (baby Jesus) is the one that brings the gifts. Though apparently this is starting to change as Papa Noel´s presence is greater every year. That being said, its quite bizzare to see Santa everywhere in his full red garb and hat when its almost 70 degrees out!! Its a bit hard for the Quiteños to understand why I miss the cold at Christmas time, but it has been an ever present factor in Christmas most of my life!! Thought when I left Chicago it was -16F without windchill! Can´t say I´m missing that too much. But from what I hear, it was 60 in Chicago yesterday! Maybe sending warm thoughts actually worked??

view from Casa Salgado on Christmas Eve

I´ve been going from one family function to another as Katty has a huge family here in Ecuador. Lunch and dinners with 20+ people seems to be the norm! Of course, I can´t get enough of it because it reminds me so much of my family in Spain. It has also been great to get to know everybody in her family that much better! Each of these mini reunions are filled with food, drinks, conversations and laughter, they are such a blast!! I´ll come back with tons of wonderful memory and a huge panza (gut)!! I can´t complain that Katty´s family has so many good cooks! Speaking of, I decided to bring a bit of our holiday traditions to Ecuador. I made the vegetable casserole that we always have this time of year along with some christmas cookies – both were a huge hit!! I´m not sure if they were more impressed with the food or the fact that a man cooked it! Getting the proper ingredients was a story in and of itself!

My first week (of three!) has been great thus far! With the New Year´s celebrations around the corner, as well as trips to Cuenca and the Amazon, I have much to look forward to! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!!

Election Night

So much for live-blogging the election! I ended up crunching numbers most of the evening for ICIRR, by the time I dropped off the laptops at my office and headed back to the Cultural Center – I could hear the crowd EXPLODE into cheers and applause!! My heart immediately started pounding and I ran as fast as I could back to the Cultural Center. They had called the election!!! My family had all come to meet with us and as McCain delivered his acceptance speech (where was that McCain during the election?!) tears started to well up in my eyes. It was actually happening!! At 11pm the event ended, so we rushed back to my building to watch his speech and see Grant Park bursting at it’s seams with people and energy! The noise was incredible – the energy palpable! We stayed on Michigan Ave until 1:30 in the morning, watching, absorbing and participating in the revelry!!

It has been too many years in the making – but this unprecedented change is exactly what this country needs! I was glued to NPR the following days and the national and international reactions gave me goosebumps! January can’t come soon enough!

Back and off again

Got back from Mexico at 5:50am on Sunday. Suffice it to say that Sunday wasn’t very productive – outside of finding an awesome new furniture warehouse! I’ll post pics of what we got once we get it all together! Lots of catching up with work and sleep this week… I’ve also acquired something to begin yet another project, (one that Fitz will have a keen interest in, I’m sure!) thanks Fas for the assist! After work we head out to Starved Rock state park for Dave’s bachelor party camping weekend extravaganza. Though apparently “we aren’t a bachelor party but a corporate event” – yea, like they won’t figure that out pretty quick! Should be a fantastic weekend! Though I imagine I’ll need another week to recover. I’m going to attempt to keep twitter updated, so keep an eye on that feed!

To Tim, Special Delivery

I attended the wake of a friend today. The last time I had heard from him was just over a year ago – he had sent out an e-mail titled “Important – Tim Butler”. In it, he described his diagnosis and the beginning of his battle with lung cancer. I was so taken aback I had no idea how to respond, I starred the e-mail so that I would respond to it when the news had some time to settle. As time went by, the message made its way to the bottom of my in-box. The few times I would happen by it, I would ponder once again how to respond and save it for another time. As I knelt by his casket I thought I was too late. How could I have waited so long? After sharing my condolences, thoughts and love with his family and friends, I headed home. As evening fell and the events of the afternoon started to sink in, I decided to light a candle in his memory and re-read his message while listening to Adagio for Strings. While reading, a response finally took shape.

The last line he wrote was: “Thank you all and I look forward to laughing about this with you in the future.”


I’ve had your e-mail starred in my inbox for the last year. I keep on beating myself up for not having responded to you sooner. I’m sure you understand that your e-mail totally took me off guard, and I had no idea at all how to react. Your candor, strength, and lightheartedness were at a stark contrast to what you shared with me, I think it goes to show how you will handle this into the future. I sincerely appreciate you including me on this message. Though I was never as close to you as some other mutual friends of ours, I always saw what a good person you are. Not only because of the ways in which our friends respect you, but also because of the way that Peggy adores you! You are very fortunate to have found each other and to have started a family together. She will be by your side through all of this and your relationship will be stronger for it. Your friends and family are here to support you as well – if there is anything I can do, all you need do is ask. I sincerely believe that everything happens for a reason, though it may not be clear now or even down the road, there is a greater plan for us all. It is obvious that you have touched the lives of many people and will continue to do so no matter what the future brings. That being said, I want you to know that I have been keeping you and your family in my prayers and I will continue to do so. I pray that you all have the clarity, strength and lightheartedness that you have already shown. I too look forward to talking to you and laughing about this with you in the future – but take all the time you need, we have all eternity.

Until next time,

I hit send, finishing what I should have long ago, knowing that somewhere in the ether my message will reach its intended destination.

Maria and Dinos’s Wedding

I apologize for the lack of posts after Greece – T-Mobile roaming in Cyprus was spotty at best!! I have returned and wanted to get the newlyweds their pictures as soon as possible. Thats about all I have the energy for tonight! The wedding was in 3 parts; the traditional bridal dressing ceremony at Maria’s aunt’s house, the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony at the church, followed by the reception and dancing. It was truly an incredible event!

First 5k run!

Marcia convinced me to sign up for a 5k run a bit over a month ago. The last time I remember running any kind of distance was in High School because we had to run a mile. I was a bit skeptical of being ready within a month. I got new running shoes, as my old ones were falling apart, and we figured out what mornings I would train. This “training schedule” was impeded by Chicago weather, my trip to New Orleans, and coming down with pneumonia. Lets just say I got two training runs in the week before the race. Having my Polar HRM was key to pacing myself as I overexerted myself running without it. I was never a long-distance runner, always a sprinter, so pacing was new to me! I did manage to get just under 3 miles in on my last training run, so I felt that I could at least complete the 5k.

The race itself was much different than I expected! May more braved the 34F temps that I had imagined.There were all sorts of people running; families with kids in jogging strollers, older couples, young kids – it was fascinating! I had forgotten to prepare my MP3 player, so I just listened to the goings on around me. At one point a woman said “Somebody cheer for Lisa” and everybody in our area let out a loud “GO LISA!!” The camaraderie surrounded us all! Running into Wrigley and finishing just after exiting underneath the sign was fantastic! I did opt for the timed race and the results were posted yesterday.

37min and 30s – 12:06 per mile – 1893 out of 2009

Not horrible considering the lack of training, but the sense of accomplishment made it totally worth it! Now to figure out which will be my next run! (bringing my GPS next time to track the route!)


Filename A517192.txt
Today, March 15, 2008, 12:24:21 AM
Size 509 KB (521,811 bytes)
It downloaded so fast I didn’t even see a progress bar

Over six years in the making. Words… I once had. Words I once knew to be so true, that I held on to them so tight I couldn’t let go. Those words had escaped me long ago.


A number that in and of itself holds no meaning… yet for so long I felt it held my world. Perhaps it still does – in whatever ethereal plane it now belongs. Its fascinating how something can get a grip on you so tight, you can’t imagine letting it go.

To that end, I say goodbye. I let go. You are free. I am free…