Nine years

Jun. 29th, 2015 12:22 pm
greatbear: (me and mom)
Yesterday marked one year of wedded bliss between Jeff and myself. Much more happiness and oh-so-cool levels of awesomeness from not only the day before with the WIN at SCOTUS, but even more so seeing quite a few couples here, not to mention countless others everywhere else getting married on our same day. We're proud to be a part of the "anniversary surge" that will inevitably occur.

As such things go in my life, with much celebration also comes much sadness. Today marks the ninth year from the day I lost my mother to cancer. I know she would be enthusiastically taking part in all this celebrating were she still with us. It was quite by accident as we were planing our big day and how it best would fit in with the plans of ourselves and our guests. It was only after we had gained some momentum that I realized these two dates fell next to each other. As it turned out, because of the slip-up, a good part of our wedding celebration was made to include a tribute to our moms, who couldn't be there with us in the seats, but who were definitely there is everyone's hearts.

I miss you so much.
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Jeff and I met 14 years ago on October 23, 2000. That was yesterday (Thursday). Until we got married, Oct. 23 was our "unofficial official" anniversary date, one we'd always celebrate with a dinner out. While our marriage date has become the "official" anniversary, we will continue to celebrate both days. Why? Well, because it's fun and nice and we get to have a special dinner in unusual places and we can get all sappy and lovey and just plain be happy. So, as has been our tradition all these years, we went out for dinner, trying to pick some place where we never had been before. As it turns out, we didn't have to travel more than about a mile from the the house to a restaurant that opened a couple years ago but one we had not explored yet, saving it for, well, a special occasion. Funny how that turned out. This new place, Sushi Tendou, turned out to be a delightful little Japanese steakhouse. The menu was packed with selections, and we were settling on some interesting things we never had before. Now, I'm not sure exactly why this happened, perhaps being a stone's throw from La Casa Mayhem, or the way that strange things seem to happen to me, but the system they have playing new age-y styled Oriental-tinged music begins playing a song very familiar to me, but one I had not heard in many years, "Midnight in Moscow," also known as "Moscow Nights." Why a Japanese steakhouse would begin playing a very Russian song in a light new age style is beyond me, and it took me a few seconds for the minor keys to register in my brain. Once that happened... I lost it.

This was my Mom's favorite song.

A little bit of history is needed. In the mid-1950s, Mom was settling into her life as an American citizen, having left stateside Army duty as a WAC during the Korean war, and starting to build a domestic life that eventually settled in Maryland not far from where I am today. She got married, Mom and Dad moving into a new home yet still remaining connected to the Army at nearby Ft. Meade. She had come a long way from her early life that began in Kiev, Russia. Around this time "Moscow Nights" was written, being initially penned in 1955 then reworked a bit to become what it is to this day. In 1956 the song was recorded for use in a documentary movie. The movie didn't get very far, but the song became unexpectedly popular. The song won an international song contest, and became popular worldwide, especially, oddly, in mainland China as well. My mother had become more than a tad homesick, as you would imagine, by the time she was settling down. Via shortwave radio, she heard the song first via Radio Moscow. A few years later, this undeniably Russian song was recorded by, of all things, a British jazz group called Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen, which had a U.S. hit that peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 right about the time I was born. So now this Russian song that made a circuitous trip from Mom's homeland and eventually finding it's way to our shores as a New Orleans-style jazz makeover, became permanently attached to me as well. In 1966, when she figured I was old enough to travel, Mom and I made our way back to Mother Russia, where I was shown off to her family. I actually remember quite a bit from back then. I was very big and strong for my age, and when Mom's mother asked what she was feeding me, she told her I ate a lot of oatmeal. It was then that I was introduced to Russian oatmeal. I think it was more like oats they fed to horses. Blecch! It was also the time I was introduced to Mom's old friend Alyosha, who worked with electronics and I believe was an aerospace engineer. He also spoke English and he and I hit it off immediately. He saw my very early precociousness with mechanical and electrical things, as well as my extreme interest with things that fly. He and I made several forms of paper airplanes, flying whirlygigs and other fluttering, twisting and soaring bits made from paper. By several, I mean lots. Hundreds, maybe more. We tried different things and tossed them from the window of Alyosha's high-up apartment. I don't know how many things were "designed" and flown from that window. but the street below looked like a parade had gone by. Paper littered the area like autumn leaves. Somewhere in La Casa is a Russian kid's book that I used to be able to read quite well from back in those days, though now I can only at best fake a Russian accent. More importantly, inside that book is a paper airplane that Alyosha made for me. Alyosha and I had a lot of fun. Much more importantly, he worked with me using some of his electronic and electrical bits he had at home. He convinced Mom that I had a natural talent for this sort of thing, to the point where he was practically astounded. He urged Mom to have me pursue these interests as my vocation. It was then she realized I was not taking my toys apart just to be destructive, but I was using the parts to make my own versions of my toys. I have vague memories of a lot of things Mom and I did on that trip, which took us not only to Russia, but had stopovers in Prague, London and I believe France. I got lots of interesting toys that may have strained Mom's meager wages, the one thing I remember well was a die-cast model of James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 from Thunderball, which was equipped with all the awesome gadgetry as the one in the film. I wish I still had it (it'd be worth a mint if mint), it was lost or stolen soon after I had gotten back home. Mom's beloved takeaway from the trip was a 78rpm recording of the original version of "Подмосковные вечера (Moscow Nights)" on the Russian state label Μелодия (Melodiya). That record remains safely ensconced in the record collections here. My life took a turn for the better on that trip, and upon coming back to the states, we began visiting hobby stores, and it was that time I discovered Radio Shack. That, dear readers, was my heaven. As things turned out, a seemingly agonizingly long 16 years later, I took an electronic engineering and test job which was involved in the building of fighter jets and radar systems. Funny that, from paper airplanes and little electrical and mechanical experiments to this. And from Russia with love, apparently.

Fast forward to last Thursday once again. Jeff was suddenly confronted with me doing a total 180 from our happy perusal of dozens of sushi and seafood items to me having a complete breakdown in less than five seconds. It took me a while to regain enough composure to tell him why and to ease his worried look. I was being bombarded with memories too fast to sort them all out, but I began rambling with stories from my deep past. I managed to gather myself up enough to give my order to the now somewhat concerned waitress then sat there awash in pleasant memories. Jeff said it was Mom's way of joining us for our special night. He's right, I suppose, and what better way to make an entrance. We had a very enjoyable meal, and added the little restaurant to our must-go-again-especially-with-friends list. And if the initial shock and aawww from hearing the song didn't make me feel there was something more to this special night, hearing it being played once again(!) just before we were finishing up kinda made it clear.

Happy Anniversary, Jeff.

Hear the music )

Lucky 13

Oct. 24th, 2013 02:39 am
greatbear: (jeff and me)
I had to crawl out from my drug- and painkiller-induced cocoon long enough to thank my partnerhubbieguy Jeff for 13 wonderful years together. I am only sad right now that I was unable to take him out for dinner or otherwise show him a good time today due to my degrading condition. Days are spent in excruciating pain or fitful sleep. I hope to soon get some relief and get on with life. I have to say, though, my life now, as frustrating and painful as it is would be far more unbearable (if not worse) were it not for him taking care of me. I really don't know what I'd do without him. He's the bestest. :-)

Love ya lots, Jeff!

Twelve

Oct. 23rd, 2012 07:26 am
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Jeff and I are twelve years old together! It's been a bumpy ride, but I'm still loving the trip.



Love ya, honey!
greatbear: (eeeexcellent)
In today's mail was a large envelope. Inside was a certificate congratulating me for my years of service with The Company That Makes Funny Looking Airplanes, as well as a catalog of gifts. Major stuff this time, watches, espresso maker, crystal, clocks, 32G iPod, big screen TV, even bicycles. How long have I been at the same gig? Thirty years. At one time I couldn't imagine myself being thirty years old, much less working at the same job for that long.

I should feel a sense of accomplishment, but it pales next to my feeling just... old. I guess it's part of my current round of spine troubles making me feel all of my years behind me pushing back.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to shoo people off my lawn.
greatbear: (jeff and me)
*warms up transmitters, sets optimum grid and plate currents, tunes antenna array for optimum SWR as I prepare to break radio silence*

Precisely one year ago my Jeff was in the hospital, connected to all manner of diagnostic equipment after having a stent placed in his heart due to a major heart attack. Thanks to the incredible work of so many fine folks at Howard County General as well as the EMTs, he's very much alive, comfortable at home and is sleeping quietly. One whole year passed us by already, how time flies. I don't know what I'd do without him, but I am gonna do all I can to keep him around for a long, long time.

Jeff currently has a cumbersome cast on his right arm after having carpal tunnel and ulnar nerve duct surgery this past Thursday morning. About a month ago he had the same thing (minus the elbow thing) done on his left wrist, he has been recovering nicely from that procedure. Tomorrow he goes to see his cardiologist for a checkup of sorts, and to make some decisions regarding ongoing medicines and treatment. Next year, depending on what he learns starting tomorrow, he will have to undergo yet another procedure to remove some rather large growths on his thyroid, and possibly the thyroid gland itself. We'll tackle that as it comes. Together.

Of course, I have been helping him out as much as I can, and even doting on him a bit too much. Yesterday I made some totally rockin' ham'n'bean soup. It was all I could do to keep Jeff out of the kitchen and try my hand at this, and he needs the rest. It was a bit of a milestone for me as well, as I basically went into all those memories of Mom making soups throughout the years, throwing stuff together from scratch and having it cook for a good part of the afternoon, filling the house with smells that dug up so many memories, and at times I had to quietly go off and quell some emotions that were trying to get the better of me. You see, the holidays, a fire in the woodstove, and home cooking remind me of how much I lost, as well as all of those wonderful days in the past. I still feel as though I am invading Mom's space, but I feel less of that as I conquer these personal barriers one by one. I am pretty certain that Mom would have approved wholeheartedly of my effort. Jeff the Chef did. There is no reason Jeff and I can't make our own wonderful memories as time marches on either. We might not be in the best of health, but we are still here, and we'll do all we can to hang around for a long time to come.

I hope this post finds those reading well.

*throws transmitter back into standby, but leaves the tubes aglow*
greatbear: (jeff and me)
I always post this little ditty every time I catch wind of someone's anniversary. But this time, it's for us!



Happy anniversary goes out to Jeff and I, together for a big eleven years today. Love ya, hunnie! =D

Jeff is on vacation this week as well, a much needed break from work. Yesterday we took a day trip to Rehoboth Beach. We tossed Kodi in the car, and we had a terrific, relaxing time, zero traffic, no crowds, too much good food, Kodi running around gleefully on the beach and flat-out outlet mall shopping. A day of no plans and all fun. We need more of those things.
greatbear: (Default)
Two weeks already. Seems like it was only, well, a couple weeks since the surgery. Slow progress being made. Jeff and I managed to get out in Saturday to have a nice early dinner at Carrabbas. My apetite is beginning to return, but I still can't handle anything resembling large portions, my insides need to recalibrate a while longer. It's nice that my sense of taste is mostly back to normal; the antibiotics and various IV fluids and other chemical tomfoolery bestowed upon my body by the hospital skewed my taste sensation a bit. I'm trying to wean myself from the Rush Limbaugh Recreational Drug of Choice (Oxycontin), but it is still an unfortunate necessity. Case in point, on Sunday Jeff and I ventured to the Columbia Mall for a little while to get me out of the house and to do some walking, but I figured I would skip the painkillers while out and about. Bad idea, since it did not take long before I was in agony from the waist down. We cut our little outing short and headed home I medicated and rested for a while. This was kinda sad, since the trip was to go out and shop for each of our anniversary gifts for one another. Postponed for another day. Jeff helped me a bit in the evening to see how other things are recovering. Prognosis: Good. ;)

I started today out of sorts and moped around the house between trying to rest, but once past noon I got an unexpected surge of energy. Kodi and I went out back, I opened up the garage for the first time and began to tinker. The nice weather, fresh air and rejuvenated feeling made me drag out some tools and do some makin' and fixin'. Just what the doctor ordered. Jeff eventually came home, we had a nice little dinner and I've been tinkering since. I'm able to stand for longer periods than before the operation, and I managed to get around the entire day sans cane. Good stuff.

I'm trying not to overdo things during my recovery. I don't want to jinx myself or cause any damage, just coasting along, getting needed exercise and making the best of the situation. As I feel better, I will expand my activities. On Thursday I should be able to have my seventeen body piercings removed. My main concern is the overall "dead" feeling below my knees. Not only is the numbness uncomfortable, but I get cramps in my arches, calves and shins from the lack of "feedback" from my muscles. I was warned that it will take a long time for this to abate, and might not recover fully. I have yet to attempt any driving, and I won't for at least another week. I'm afraid the numbness will interfere with working pedals. No gymkhana driving for a while. ;)

Here's hoping for more forward progress.
greatbear: (jeff and me)
I guess I've been lax at updating things here. I can only sit for so long at the controls here at The Orbiting Headquarters of Mayhem, and going mobile with the nuclear football little lappy is no fun. Anyhoo:

I have dispensed with the walker, I can move about the house normally (albeit slowly) and I can go up and down the stairs with no trouble. Walking for any sort of distance, however, I still need the cane, just in case. Standing no longer produces the slow fire of pain down my buttocks and around my legs, which is excellent. This means the operation was a success in opening up the spinal canal and eliminating the spinal stenosis condition. This gets a major woot. However, there are some complications, most of which have been slowly improving. The pain I feel at the incision/site is getting more bearable, but sitting for any length of time eventually becomes extremely uncomfortable. The necessary pain killers make me feel loopy and drugged, which is to be expected. However, they do their job, and as a side benefit, I have The. Most. Intense. Dreams. Ever. Seriously. Lucasfilm should be able to come up with visuals even close to what I sometimes produce in my sleep. The best so far have been a combination of steampunk and gritty turn-of-the-century steelmill and factory imagery complete with deafening sound, strange characters and all sorts of action. The kicker is the entire scene which played out like an enormous steel town at full production was taking place inside of my body as it was healing from the surgery. Impossible to describe, but how I wish dreams had reruns. X-D

The worst so far involves my legs. From the knees down and ending most intensely at my feet, I have pretty severe numbness. I was told that because of the way my spinal cord was constrained in the bony sections of the vertebrae and one ruptured disc had dug into the spinal cord, there was nerve damage that will take quite a while to regenerate, and that things may not return to completely normal levels. This is upsetting, but I'm willing to let time take its course. Very little has changed since the operation as far as this goes. Patience, patience.

I'm also slowly disappearing. On the scale this morning, I weighed a mere 213 pounds. I don't mind the weight loss while I recover, but I know that over time, a lot of what I lost was muscle mass, especially in my legs. Pants that used to fit snug in the thighs and calves flap around on me like a scarecrow outfit. Once I am (hopefully) back to normal (whatever that is!), I can resume things that kept me beefy over the years.

Lastly, but very important: Thanks bunches to all who sent cards, messages, texts and phone calls while I've been out of commission. You guys 'n' gals are the bestest. So many kind thoughts from unexpected places made taking the entire lack of contact from the expected sources much easier to handle. It's therapy of the most awesome kind.

Tomorrow Jeff and I are going to attempt to celebrate our tenth anniversary together. Time sure flies when we're having fun. Or surgery. ;)
greatbear: (Default)
Aw, man, how could I forget? It's also the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back!

I should have used Post-It notes as reminders. They also turned 30 today. I coulda used them in high school. Too late to that party too.

As Yoda would have said to me, "That is why you fail."

Yeah, three decades ago. I remember it well. It felt like I had the whole world ahead of me, which I really did. I was a bundle of creativity and energy. Seemed like there was nothing I could not do. And, to be honest, I proved a lot of people wrong when they would say "You can't do (x)" when I indeed knew I could. The last ten years or so has done a lot to quell the energy, but there are still times when I still admire what I can do.

Let's see if I even make it another thirty. Or ten.
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Today marks me and Jeff's ninth year together. I think we've seen a lot in all those years, good and bad, happy and sad. He's all I have now. And that makes me very glad. Love ya, honey!


greatbear: (jeff and me)
It certainly is. Why, you ask?

It's me and Jeff's eight-years-together day. Eight whole years he's put up with my crap.

Here's to eight more. And eight more after that, and...
greatbear: (big beard)
Last month at this time I quietly passed a milestone in my life. October 18 marked my 25th year of employment fondling the innards of billions of dollars of electronic test equipment, obsessing over the most minute details of accuracy and measurement techniques, and writing automated testing software that to this day runs on a platform that is compatible with Windows 3.1. The only thing I have been doing longer other than general living and scratching my ass has been working on cars. That predates my being able to legally drive one by several years.

The reason why this anniversary date went by with no fanfare (and no blog posting at the time) would be obvious to anyone familiar with my blog. My Mom was not here to celebrate it with me. Mom's longest stint at one particular place was just over 20 years; this was her accounting job for Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory from which she retired. While she was impressed that I had already surpassed her number of years, she was looking forward to doing something special for the big quarter-century mark. Alas, that could not happen. I had my usual sobbing session. I have resigned myself to having those feelings of loss at every major milestone in my life now. I am trying to temper them with finding my own way to celebrate, be it with Jeff, his family, etc. Time will tell how successful I am.

The 'rewards' of passing each five year increment have changed over the years as the division changed hands as well as management. Lately they have been going all out, relatively speaking, offering a catalog of items you'd typically find for service awards. I had a tough decision, since I already had a lot of luggage, Waterford crystal just aint my thing, and I dont wear wristwatches. Ironically, I selected a digital camera, even though I have four already. This one is a Pentax W30, a waterproof 7.1 megapixel ultracompact that I dont have to worry about getting damp or dirty. My first test of the camera's capabilities was to dunk it into the toilet tank and take pictures of the internal components. Needless to say, the results were amusingly commendable. Last weekend while in Pennsylvania, the camera got entangled with my keys and I was trying to pull them from my hoodie pocket, and I sent the camera flying more than five feet into the air and smacking the hard concrete drive. Other than a couple scratches, the camera still functions normally. Did I mention that a good part of that 25 years involves environmental and destructive/nondestructive testing?

Twenty-five freaking years. It's had it's ups and downs, and I generally enjoy the work. Still, I wonder what things would be like had I moved on to (possibly) bigger and better things.
greatbear: (hippo dance)
Today marks the 7th anniversary of Jeff and I as a couple. Wheee!

How much is that in straight years?

One year

Jun. 29th, 2007 11:50 am
greatbear: (blackness)
Today marks one year since I lost my Mom to cancer.

One year. Already.

I still miss her intensely. The hurt is still raw, and the emptiness vast. I am slowly learning to cope, but I doubt I ever will, completely.

I still have my memories, and everything she taught me and raised me to be. This is my comfort.

I miss you, Mom.
greatbear: (headsmash)
You'd think I'd know better. Maybe I should learn not to post to this thing when tired and heading to bed. Maybe I should proof what I post a bit better. Or something. To make matters worse, it was Jeff who first brought it to my attention.

It's our sixth anniversary, not fifth. lol

I swear I am losing it some days.
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Monday marked me and Jeff's 5 6 year anniversary. It seems like just yesterday that we 'tied the knot'. Jeff made a nice dinner and then we went out shopping, he got me a sleeveless down vest from L.L. Bean, I got him a red Ipod Nano from the new Apple store at the Columbia Mall. I got one for myself as well, we have a matching set. I know, how gay. Turns out I can get a bit of a discount from the Apple store because of where I work. Hmmm... those new MacBook Pros look mighty tasty...

Still waiting on replacement rims for the MINI. Wont be in till early November. Received the tires and wheels yesterday for the Stratus, those went on tonight. Lookin' sharp, gotta take pictures (as well as wash/wax the car). A set of Eibach springs and an Addco rear swaybar and the thing will show up some rather pricey sport sedans. I need to get back into heavy car tinkering soon, I miss the fun and getting my hands dirty. I've had a lot on my plate lately that took not only the time away from me, but most or all of the desire as well. It's still rough trying to make heads or tails of certain aspects of my life lately. I seem to do best when I fall back on my old routines whenever possible.

The anniversary was a nice reminder that the future can be brighter for me than my mind thinks it will be. I have to find my focus. Kodi has given both of us a chance to care for him and enjoy his antics, despite some housebreaking snafus. I just hope he and Jeff are around me for a long time to come.
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Today marked 5 years together for me and Jeff. Sadly I am still under the weather so our 'celebration' is postponed for some time when we can both truly enjoy ourselves. Otherwise we spent the time together quietly and close. Here's to another five. And beyond.

A thank you also goes out to all who left well-wishings in my journal over the past couple days. I dont think I ever can relate how much it means to me. Simple gestures, but they carry with them so much. Thanks again.

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greatbear: (Default)
Phil

December 2016

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