Ten years later

Maya Angelou – thank you for the incredible beauty you shared with the world. This was inspired by you, now it is dedicated to you. May you rest in peace.

The silence of a summer scene
thick warmth wraps around.
White cotton layers
strands in the sky.

Seagull gracefully gliding
effortless floating wings.
Trees standing stoic,
wood and leaf puncture the air.

Still, blooming buds
fill the air with fragrant beauty.
Evening’s timeless tranquility
disturbed only by thought.

-Pablo 6/5/2004

Capitol Crossroad


Trumpets bellow their warning from miles away, reverberating off the concrete grid of streets and buildings. The city yawns wide engulfing the sound. Crowds dwindle to a lone pair of footsteps echoing in the empty chasms. The splendor of the setting sun transposes to harsh patches of yellowed flickering lights. Stifling heat lessens its grip and blankets the ground, the air is still. Bridges span sequentially and illuminate the churning waters below. Horns blare louder, the ground trembles. Beasts of land and water meet, hauling the weight of history, feeding the intricate machines of nature and humankind. At these crossroads, vaulted domes earn their right to stand tall and proud.

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.

Harold Kimball aka Pumpa

As Katty and I arrived in his hospice room, his eyes opened and he saw us both. He tried to say something but could not get the words out. I reached out for his hand and told him to relax, he had already said so much in the weeks prior. My uncle Bob started praying the rosary as we gathered around him. At ~10am on August 16th he took his last breath. His wife BJ had her arms around him as she wept and said goodbye. I held his hand with Mom on one side and Katty on the other while uncle Bob continued praying the rosary. I know that he chose that moment. It was exactly as he wanted it. Goodbye Pumpa…

Harold Kimball was born and grew up in Chicago. He graduated from St. Lawrence Grammar School and Leo High School. He served three years in the Air Force assigned to the Italian campaign during World War II. He received his B.S. degree in civil engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. In 1950, he and Audrey Pabst of Milwaukee were married; they had four children: Robert, Judy, Gregory, and Steven. Audrey died in 1996 and Steve in 2007. In 2005, Harold and Betty Jane Wagner were married in Evanston. He is survived by his wife Betty Jane Wagner; children Bob (Mary Carmen), Judy (Serafin) Veramendi, Greg (Laura) and the late Steve (Mary Beth); grandchildren Gregory, Pablo and Teresa Veramendi, Frank, Javier and Mark Kimball, Melissa Klein and Ryan Kimball and Katie and Aaron Kimball; great grandchildren Jake and Jocelyn Klein and Audrey Kimball. Harold has always enthusiastically enjoyed family gatherings, travel, symphony concerts, plays, and movies. An avid reader, he frequently recited poetry for family and friends. For ten years, Harold taught undergraduate engineering courses at the Illinois Institute of Technology and worked for Kaiser Engineers. In 1969, his firm sent him to San Nicolas, Argentina (130 miles north of Buenos Aires), as principal engineer on the design and construction of a steel-making plant for the Argentine government. When Harold retired from Kaiser Engineers, he started his own business, the Engineering Guild, a very successful enterprise, which he managed the rest of his life. Ever an activist, Harold Kimball devoted his life to causes promoting peace and justice in the world and leaves us that legacy. He supported the Civil Rights Movement and welcomed the first African-American family into his neighborhood. He marched with Martin Luther King against the Vietnam War, and supported Joe Polowsky’s efforts to see that our country would never go to war with the Soviet Union. Polowsky saw to it that veterans who met at the Elbe River at the end of World War II would visit one another’s countries during what became the Cold War. As a board member of CIS (Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad) and frequent visitor to El Salvador, Harold contributed to efforts to improve the lives of the poor. He was also on the boards of Common Ground promoting inter-religious understanding, and Seraj, setting up libraries in Palestine. Harold was a Vision Keeper and active member of the Peace and Justice Committee of Evanston’s St. Athanasius Church. He cooked for and played chess with persons with AIDS at Bonaventure House in Chicago and participated in demonstrations for peace as long as his health permitted. Contributions in his memory may be made to Common Ground, 815 Rosemary Terrace, Deerfield, Illinois 60015, to Seraj, 623 So. Euclid Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois 60304, or to the Iraqi Student Project, 708 Dodge, Evanston, Illinois 60202.

May he rest in peace.

March for America

Just got on a bus for the 12 hour overnight ride to Washington DC. I’m joining thousands of others who will march on the capital tomorrow demanding immigration reform. We started the afternoon in the freezing cold welcoming dozens of buses full of supporters also preparing for the same trip. Its going to be a long 36 hours, but I’m very much looking forward to being a part of this historic moment. I’m also doing some “new media” coverage as well:

Qik (live video)
ICIRR live coverage

Wish us luck!

Do you copy?


On the Purple Line for the first time on our “new” commute to the city. The snow is coming down pretty hard at the moment, already 2 inches with quite a bit more on the way. It seems to be coushioning the shock of the sudden changes that ocurred in the past week. Hopefully the next week or two help us settle a bit. In the mean time, maybe this is the escape I need. Also a goo excuse to test the new WordPress app for Android.

Using Google Voice as vacation receptionist

Google Voice
I signed up for GrandCentral about two years ago, long before the days of Google Voice. I haven’t had much use for it outside of being another number to give when I sign up for services (credit cards, what have you). Once Google bought it out and converted it to Google Voice a whole new world opened up for phone users. (If you aren’t familiar with Google Voice – Pogue sums it up best, as always!) Not only does Google Voice take messages for you, it transcribes them and sends them to you by e-mail or text message! You can also send text messages from Google Voice for free! Both of these things will become quite handy as I leave for Spain tonight.

My plan – forward all incoming calls directly to my Google Voice number.

There are a few reasons I’m doing this. First of all, I’d like to see who calls and get my messages while I’m away. Secondly, it helps me avoid the $1.99 fee for not accepting an incoming call. Yes, you read that right. If your phone is set up for international roaming, even if you don’t accept the call, you will be charged for one minute of use to send the call to your voice-mail back in the states. Keep in mind that the amount changes with the country you are in! In Ecuador it is $5.99!!

In order for this to work, I have to uncheck all phones that Google Voice forwards to (under Settings -> Phones). I then have to enable Do Not Disturb (under Settings -> General). Lastly I have to forward all incoming calls on my cell phone to my Google Voice number. Unfortunately setting vary widely per phone and provider as how that is set up. Usually its under Settings -> Call Settings -> Call Forwarding on your phone. You want to forward “all voice calls” (or “always forward”) to your Google Voice number. Don’t forget to unforward them when you get back! Now you will get all your messages via e-mail at your convenience! You can even see what calls you missed if no voice-mails were left by logging in to your Google Voice account. While you are logged in, go ahead and exchange some text messages with your friends – its free!

Vincent’s Yellow

My sister Teresa has started a blog named Vincent’s Yellow. I’m extremely proud of the work she has done since I set up the wordpress blog for her a few months back – and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us during her travels! In her words…

Three years ago, like many others, I fell in love with Vincent van Gogh. I followed this love, never letting go, reading about him and visiting his paintings all I could, and I am still journeying – I hope you will join me, Reader. This path has led me to you and you to me, and both of us to beauty, to art, to life, to death and to something greater…

I have been traveling with you for quite some time sister… I will always be by your side.

Rally against social service budget cuts in Illinois!

Its a rare occasion that I set my alarm earlier than 7am. Usually its because I have a flight to catch. Today it is for a very different reason. I’m heading down to Springfield IL to rally against budget cuts that would have a disasterous effect on social services. Already over 12 people in my organization have received their two weeks notice and other agencies across the state are suffering even more. The ripple effect that this will have in I’LL will be felt by all. It is a sad state of affairs when politicians use social services to leverage their politics! We can not let this happen!! I am joining thousands of other people today to advocate for the needs of this state! We can’t let 200,000 jobs be lost in the social service sector! While I don’t expect all to come to the state capital, each and every one of you can DO SOMETHING that will make a difference. Pick up your phone, call your state representative, make your voice be heard! http://tinyurl.com/m3mush