greatbear: (aerial me)
That famous holiday, a favorite for the florists, chocolatiers, restaurants, candy makers, wineries, Hallmark and others, has come and gone. I hope everyone was able to make the best of it, and didn't fall into the "Singles Awareness Day" negativity. Valentine's Day can be whatever you make it. A coworker from years ago would get gag chocolates from another friend who worked at the company. It was a highlight of his day.

This week had been a downer for me, as it happened every year. My Mom's name was Valentine, and being that her birthday is four days prior, we used it as an extra day for something nice. Mom would say that my birthday fell on a holiday, so she was in her right to claim the next closest for hers, and none other would be more appropriate. Yeah, it was in the realm of silliness, but it was our little bit of fun. About two weeks apart, we had out own personalized days, mine thanks to that weather prognosticating critter from Pennsylvania, of course.

For whatever reason(s), the last week or so has been rougher than usual on me. Another winter in a row filled with constant pain and the side effects of narcotics play a part, so does the colder-than-usual weather, feelings of uselessness for greater than in the past, getting one more year older, I could go on. I've mostly salvaged the days for the better, and today seemed to be no different. Jeff had been asked to be a personal chef for some friends of mine. It seems he and his partner have decided to change up some things in their lives, and coupling that with buying some sort of business, he asked Jeff to take a shot at helping them entertain in a little bit more formal fashion. Tomorrow is the gig, a sort of test run for them as well as Jeff. We went to Wegman's today to pick up the fresh ingredients for the meal as well as our own weekly supplies. Well, wasn't the store a total mob scene, with the typical batches of self-absorbed Columbia patrons that normally tend to block aisles and snarl traffic with their carts and clustering, except at least three if not more the usual number of them. We didn't get into the store for more than two minutes before declaring it to be an absolute disaster, with Jeff's already busy mind planning the event and being more easily frustrated as a result, I put the single loaf of bread I managed to pick up on entering the store back on the rack and we both went back home. I went for a nap, and apparently Jeff did the same in order to cool off. After a while he went to our local supermarket instead, with me staying behind this time. I said we should just take care of this gig tomorrow and deal with our bit some other day. I conked out again while he made his run. Just as well we put off our grocery run, as our mostly empty fridge became filled with food for the party. Because of the setback, we ended up changing our dinner plans. We had picked up a really nice rack of lamb and other stuff to have for our VDay dinner. Because Jeff had to do prep for tomorrow, and I didn't want to overburden him with even more kitchen mayhem, I made us dinner for the night. My appetite has been shot for months now, and rather than attempting to enjoy an involved meal after a day of stress (and pain for me) we had a nice, relaxing meal of sandwiches and soup and chips and samples of tomorrow's big dinner. And you know what? For that moment, it was just as good as that lamb dinner would've been. If all goes well, we will have our postponed dinner in the early evening on Monday.

I ended up being more than a bit on the cranky side today, anyway. I know, what else is new. I slept worse than usual the night before, with the weather alert radio going off four times in the middle of the night, warning of high winds and extreme windchill from the nasty weather system currently beating up the northeast. During most of the day, the weather was very calm, and a late afternoon snow had begun once Jeff returned from the store. So much for all the noise that kept me up the previous night. Jeff couldn't get a couple items while out, the store was out. So I did the deed going to another grocer nearby. There was already a couple fluffy inches of snow everywhere, and during the short time I was out, perhaps 15 minutes or so, the snow had erased all the signs of me leaving the house. The footprints, the dry area where the truck had been, the tracks on the street were completely gone. I had recently bought a little cordless snowblower to keep the walkways and deck clean, and I've been jonesing to use it since. Knowing how my actions here at home can affect statewide weather patterns, buying this snowblower as well as getting the big monster blower all set for use at a moment's notice meant there was a good chance our area would remain snow-free. Sure enough, though it amounted to maybe three inches of accumulation before stopping, the long-promised wind had finally shown up as well, and unless there's going to be some drifting, my maiden voyage of the new toy snowblower might end up being a disappointment. I love how technology is blasting ahead in so many ways. For years, I used an electric snowblower to keep the decks clean. I used to shovel the snow from the deck, and I had engineered in a means to make this task a bit easier. The railings have a six inch space between them and the deck floor. All that is needed is to push the snow off the edge rather than heaving it over the top. I hadn't considered what would happen to the snow once pushed off the deck. Being a story in the air, and with bushes and shrubs below, the snow would crash onto the plants and break them. So, I had gotten a little electric blower to fling the snow well beyond the area of the plants, with the bonus of giving Mom something very easy to use as well. A couple years ago, though, I inadvertently ran over a stray bungee cord hidden in the snow, and it wrapped around the spinning axle and blade. The resulting friction melted the plastic housing and the bearing mount. In my attempts to cut the tangled rubber with a utility knife and slicing open three fingers quite badly, the damaged blower has been sitting in the basement since, waiting for me to fix it. Last year became the time that cordless, battery operated outdoor tools such as lawnmowers, edgers, trimmers and even chainsaws and snowblowers had finally matched the power of corded electric and even some gas engine powered equivalents. I decided replacing the old corded blower with this new cordless thing would be even easier for me to use than the old one. It's lighter, I don't have to bend over and pick up the icy cord, and it's even more maneuverable. I really, really detest not being able to do even a fraction of the tasks I would think nothing of. I've been spending a lot of money on effort-reducing things to help me along. And I am that fucking stubborn to want, nay, need to continue doing some stuff on my own. I mean, I already am burdening Jeff with a lot of things. And this is a man that suffered a heart attack not long ago. I have to pull as much of my own weight as I can, no matter any consequences. And I absolutely can't change that.

Since I'm in the social media space here, I can talk about things I can change. I'll be cleaning up my LJ presence, streamlining it some, perhaps freshening things a bit. I paid for it, so I might as well use it. This will remain my primary point of presence on the net. I already ditched a lot o other things, and those remaining, like Facebook, will most likely only have links to here rather than any substantial posts over there. I have gone on a lot about how I don't like FB and how it handles information. Sadly, most, if not all of the people I knew from LJ have migrated over there, and seem to have lessened their once detailed posting for lighter fare. The remaining few that have continued their long-form posting style have ended up being boxed in by the format of other social media, and more often than not, I never see these posts because Facebook decides to let me see what they think is important, and not what I want to see. A good many if not all of my posts are not seen by anyone there at all, once again due to how the site works and not including my stuff in what others might want to read. Of course, I can pay the fucker(berg) to put my posts in the streams of friends. Nah, never going to do that. If people really care, they'll come looking.

Tonight the wind is howling outside, gusts so far at least 30mph. And it is only 8 degrees F as I write this. However, we are reaping some of the benefits of my earlier work last year. The drafty front door is gone, the cold air that used to come in through the recessed lighting in the kitchen is gone too. These were the most major air infiltration points upstairs, and there is a big difference in comfort levels as well as energy usage. As I write I am also babysitting the upstairs woodstove, keeping it filled with wood and making it undeniably cozy. When the wind blasts outside like it does, it blows across the chimney and creates a vacuum. This "turbocharges" the draft through the stove and makes the fire burn very hot. The stove has a catalytic converter, similar to the ones in cars. This captures and burns unburned smoke and gasses from the wood fire, and adds to the heat. The studio here is a balmy 80 degrees. Snickles, who never misses a chance to sleep under the covers with us, is instead parked in front of the stove hearth. A warm dog in winter is a content dog, that's for sure. Since having these damn spine troubles, my legs absolutely can't take the cold anymore. I park a little space heater under the desk to keep them warm, also so I can keep the rest of the house cooler. I don't need it now. This was also planned way back when I was designing and building the house. A woodstove was intended as a form of backup heat and as an occasional thing to use, like a fireplace. It didn't take long to find out the stove is much more enjoyable in the winter than previously thought. And on a night like this, it's one of the few things that make me feel secure and happy in a time where I feel less of these things.

Anyhow, I've rambled on enough for one night. I hope everyone has some way of escaping the cold if it's currently causing grief. And I hope you had a good Valentine's Day. Even if the highlight was only sandwiches.

ETA: I almost forgot to include this lovely little ad for the holiday. It's from a Spanish department store chain called El Corte Ingles (colloquially: The Tailor's Cut) As such, it's in Spanish, but you don't need to speak the language to tell what's going on. Click the "CC" button on the bottom right of the frame to turn on English subtitles) If you click the YouTube button on the bottom right of the frame, it will take you to YouTube itself, where you can also see it closed captioned. Do what I initially did. Watch it in Spanish, and see if you got the gist of the story. My Spanish is rustier than the Titanic, and I got pretty close. Love knows no language barriers anyway. The guys are adorable, with an awkward, dorky charm that's nearly squee-worthy.

greatbear: (building face)
What would happen if a Danish chamber orchestra were to encounter red hot chili peppers? Not the funky rock band, but the actual peppers?

Behold:



And, yes, the bearded fella conducting is really named Chili Claus. I have to say, the musicians kept it pretty much together despite eating some of the hottest peppers in the world. After finishing the piece, though, their reaction is pretty much the same as mine after watching the recent election results.
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 )
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Today Jeff and I had one of our most productive errand-based type of day. He started earlier than I, going to work as usual while the sun itself was still snoring away. I got up before the dogs bothered to squirm about in the bed to get me up, whereupon Jeff came home and took me to one of my myriad doctors for more jamming of needles and chemicals into my spinal column. After that, we headed up to the auxiliary courthouse building to get our marriage license. We got a bit confused because the building didn't look right, and I tried in vain to get my now-worthless smartphone (Thanks, Obama Verizon!) to work, making me frustrated and beating it on the dash. We stopped at Wendy's for a breakfast/lunch (it was lunch as far as food type) while I waited for the several reboots of the phone in order to get more details of where to go. After the meal, we headed back to the sprawling government building, where we found the marriage license department first off. The process was remarkably easy and quick, aided by every one of the office staff genuinely happy and congratulatory over and above courteous and helpful the entire time. As we finished up in the last minute, and gave our thank-yous among the well wishing, it really started to hit us. Both of us were trying and failing to hold back happy tears as we left the building.

From there, it was to the Mall in Columbia (Don't call it The Columbia Mall), for wedding and vacation clothing. I'm not fond of clothes shopping at all, but today, buoyed by our almost giddiness, we had fun with it. Bonus points for both of us getting smaller clothes this time as well (I haven't worn a 34 waist in probably 34 years). I managed to get some loud shirts and shorts for vacation(s) among more sensible stuff, and had an uncharacteristically good time doing so. We were also there for giftage for the wedding "crew", but our initial idea had gotten way too expensive and impractical when we inquired about the personalization. I'm way too practical, and our initial idea did kinda fly in the face of the practicality, and it hit with the force of a slushball in a heavy winter snow when we got specifics. We discovered that several very unique stores had opened in an outside area next to the mall and we went exploring. We hit the jackpot. I told Jeff that I think we just found our "practical gifts" and his face lit up like mine. The deal was done, and we pick up the goodies tomorrow. I have a neat idea for personalization too.

From there we put the final monies down on the wedding cake and cupcakes, plus another gift addition for the "crew." The bakery came up while I was making small talk on the operating table at the doctor's, as the x-ray tech and the doctor were familiar with the place, and the tech told me of the little, slightly run-down little convenience grocer in the same area that had good deli salads. So, I wrapped up the day by picking up some of the homemade macaroni and potato salad before heading home. The salads accompanied some mega tuna melts I made on the panini grill/press in an effort to give Jeff a break from cooking. We ate our dinner on the deck, continuing the nearly non-stop talking and planning and still frustrating things that still need taking care of. The next couple weeks will be insanely busy. I hope my back can withstand the rather serious labor I'm about to put it through (hence the trip to the doc today) as the deck, house and gazebo get pressure washed, the front door, frame and sidelights replaced, deck repairs, house and yard cleaning, landscaping and other stuff to make our paradise just that for our big, big day.

Outside the courthouse I attempted a selfie of us. I botched it in my nervous glee, and a couple going in for their license, despite taking our pic with the phone, didn't manage to do it right. so this is what we have.



As the cool kids say, shit just got real.
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Well, just as I had promised by not seeing my shadow on my birthday, winter has been a PMSing bitch along its last six weeks of existence. Jeff got called Sunday afternoon to head down to the hotel near the hospital in preparation for the winter nastiness, and plans on being there until Tuesday afternoon along with other essential personnel keeping the patients fed and cared for. Yeah, I'm bummed some, but it did come off of a four-day weekend with lots of accomplishments and fun. We saw BOOK OF MORMON at the Hippodrome (Latin for "Horse Arena") theater in Baltimore Saturday evening, our sides are still practically sore from laughter. I had a friend come over yesterday to help me run network cabling in La Casa Mayhem, and I've been generally busy if not held back by pain trying to get on with daily life, at least my version of it. All this goodness became soaked in rain and sleet before turning into snow overnight, whereupon I woke (late) to yet another picturesque winter scene. I plan on tackling this latest mess tomorrow morning. In the meantime, By-Tor, the Snow Dog and I will have what is likely our last days of snowy fun and frolic. They love it, becoming a white cloud of snarling, yapping energy chasing about in the yard.

Now, for those who made it past the seasonal visuals, I must let it be known that Jeff and I have been very busy with some very important preparations that will culminate in an implosion of extreme fabulousness and celebration at the end of June, and I invite all who are reading this to please make yourself part of the festivities with us. Jeff and I are getting married on June 28! I know that I know many if not most of you reading only via the interwebs, but I sill consider you as family, and would love for you to attend. If you desire to be a part of the nuptials, along with with an incredible catered food extravaganza all being held here at Mayhem Acres in Maryland, drop me a PM with your address and the names of anyone else you'd like to accompany you and I will send you an invitation with additional details and RSVP card. It's gonna be a good time, guaranteed.

Yes, I've been a bit cagey with hints and details in the past, but that's my nature. I want this to be a fun event, open to all. I also have to overcome a bit of personal fears as well, and I think that has been progressing well. No fears about being wed to Jeff, mind you, that's a given and not subject to pause. No, my problem is associating it to the greater world of friends and family. As a pretty serious introvert I have some issues, but I want to cast them to the wind while having the most important day in my life, which I swore for nearly half a century that I would never get to experience for myself. So please, be a part of it. It's a huge reason to celebrate!
greatbear: (forearms)
Every coupla months Jeff has to work on a weekend as a manager on duty (at an Adventist hospital in the food service/nutritional specialties department, this is where the food for both the patients and employees/visitors is made. Plus I get to poke fun at Jesus on (their) sabbath. :-) My Sabbath is the Ozzy-Dio variety). While it does muck up the weekends, it can be a plus, as he gets to select the days off to compensate in many cases. He was home on Friday, and went in today and will head in on Sunday. Every now and then I will take a trip and join him for lunch. This time, after eating, he put me to work! I made up cost analysis spreadsheets, helped count money, looked into repairing some very expensive chafing dishes... I felt like a cross between a secretary and handyman. Working on my Saturday even. I didn't mind a bit. It got me outta the house for several hours, the ride was nice, and I finished up the trip with a visit to Home Depot.

Now I get to put more work into the major network overhaul here at La Casa Mayhem.
greatbear: (seasons greetings)
Jeff and I hustled up to his hometown on Saturday, it was our last chance to be with his family before Christmas, being that the holiday falls in the middle of the week this year and Jeff couldn't get time off for the real thing. He was also determined to visit his mom in the nursing home as well. The last few visits we found her pretty much not sure of who we were. Earlier in the week I was daydreaming as I am wont to do a lot these days. I was hoping his mom would be a bit more "herself", unlikely as that would ever be, for just this time as a Christmas present to Jeff. When we arrived at the home, mom was just finishing up having lunch. We watched her from the big windows around the cafeteria as the nurse went in to bring her out. When the nurse pointed to us outside the window to tell her she had visitors, we saw her say, plain as day, "that's my son." I could barely contain my glee, and Jeff was ecstatic. We sat with her in a side room, presented her with the xmas gift we brought, which was a lap blanket to help keep her comfy. She held the box tight as we helped her open it up, she looked at and touched the blanket and seemed, at least to me, like she was trying to process what was going on. We all sat and talked for a while, then me, dad, and Jeff's sister left to go and get a little something for the nursing home staff, for all their work and care, while Jeff and mom had a chance to sit quietly together by themselves. At the shopping center across the highway from the home, we found a gigantic box of Whitman's chocolates. The trek in and out of the home plus to and from the store as well as the shopping took a toll on me, and I sat in the truck with the pooches as dad and sis took the gift in for the staff. Jeff returned with everyone soon after, with an undeniably happy look on his face. While we were out, Jeff had turned on the little stereo in the activity room we had been in, and Jeff and his mom quietly listened to Christmas music together. He had given the staff the chocolates, which they were thrilled to receive. It seems not a lot of people consider all the work that staff does, and visitors probably don't bring much to them as far as gifts or tokens of appreciation. I have a feeling more than a few of the residents are forgotten this time of year, as unfortunate as that truly is. We could never be like that.

Later that day, Jeff's niece, her hubby and their adorable little one came up for an early Christmas with all of us. We had picked up a little Disney Princess powered three-wheel scooter for our little grand-niece, and she was thrilled to get it. Once assembled, she rode it around the basement and was having a blast. It was also the chance for Jeff's niece to break the news to dad that she is pregnant once again (we already knew). To do this, she got a jar of Prego tomato sauce, stuck a post-it with the word "I'm" above the Prego name and a copy of the sonogram below. Once dad figured it out, it appeared he already knew, which is not surprising given the gossipy nature of small towns like theirs. If all goes well, we will have a new addition to the family in or around early June. Dad was happy to get some tomato sauce too.

One Sunday, we, along with Jeff's sister, hubby, and two boys, had our early Christmas dinner together. It was also nice because the oldest was home from college for the holidays, so we got a chance to catch up. Even our pooches had some fun, especially when sis and company brought their little ankle-biter over and Snickles and her chased each other around the house having a blast. After all the fun, food and frolic, we headed back home to the land of Mayhem where Jeff watched his Dallas Cowboys squeak out a win while he yelled obscenities and cheered touchdowns on the teevee. Our dinner at home was more sandwiches and snacks rather than anything official, given we already had a big meal mid-day. The evening is quiet now, as I sit in the Mayhem Bunker writing this while a new PC for the lab bench gets set up, filled with updates and more updates, and gets my standard loadset of software. A little bit of music rounds it all out.

Indeed, sometimes life is good.
greatbear: (Lemming)
So, the other weekend Jeff and I were at the grocery. We always look around in the "ethnic foods" aisle for interesting items, often finding some interesting items to challenge our palettes. Imagine my third-grader glee upon finding this. Bonus points for the brand name being the same as my surname. Heh heh, I said "bone us."



Food review whenever we get around to making this.
greatbear: (fucking painting trees)
Jeff and I had a really nice little T-Day together once he got home. The turkey had already been in the oven for a while, so when he came through the door there was that takes-you-back aroma of the holidays in the air. I insisted on helping out with more kitchen duties, using my rollabout tool cart as a mobile mashed potato making station. Dinner was wonderful, the turkey so amazingly good, the simple accompaniments (the aforementioned mashed potatoes that no one makes like I do, a bit of sweet potatoes, fresh asparagus and, of course, homemade stuffing) absolutely perfect for the two of us. This was also the first time in many years that Jeff and I had an actual whole turkey for ourselves. We usually head up to Jeff's parental HQ and have diner with them and varying numbers of auxiliary familial units. We usually bring a whole turkey with us, and if we (more often than not) have a dinner here at home as well, we pick up a turkey breast. When having turkey up north, tradition dictates the bird is fully disassembled into slices before bringing it to table in order to let people grab what they want. Jeff was practically giddy to be able to carve the turkey for us at the dinner table. I honestly can't remember the last time we did this aside from the days when Mom was with us. Though I tend to eat very little these days since the injuries and surgeries, I ate more than I have in one sitting for ages. It was That. Good.

Of course, once dinner was cleared away, the football games came on and Jeff was in his glory. I joined in, naturally. It's almost more fun watching Jeff watch the games than watching them directly. We relaxed and had dessert. More teevee was watched until Jeff started to get tired and headed off to bed for his short work day tomorrow. I was going to have a nice shower and climb into bed with the heady feeling of a nice big meal spent at home with family. As my contemporary luck would have it, a big old spanner was thrown into the machinery as my stitches suddenly let go when I was in the bathroom. That resulted in at least a half pint of blood going all over me but thankfully mostly into the toilet. I called Jeff out of his recently begun slumber to help me out. I bled profusely for a couple minutes at most, then stopped. Once cleaned up I asked Jeff what he saw back there. I could feel the surgi-strips still in place (these look like short pieces of tape criss-crossing the incision, put there to help hold the immediate area together against the normal stress) which Jeff confirmed. The doc had use absorb-able sutures rather than staples or permanent sutures that required later removal for this procedure, and I think they gave out before their time was no longer needed. We put some heavy gauze and stretchy wide rubber tape to hold my insides in, and as of this morning, things seem high and dry. I had stopped taking some of my usual pain killers earlier in the day, and since some of these were either acetaminophen or ibuprofens, I lucked out and didn't have lots of blood thinners running around. I try not to constantly drown myself in pain killers or any other "optional" meds just so I know what it truly feels like, although the anti-inflammatory aspects of those meds are part of the healing process especially early on. Right now I am just achy and sore, but I'll take that over leaking at every gasket for now. A bit of oxycodone sans NSAID took care of the nerve pain I am still beset with.

All I can think right now is I don't know what I did to deserve all this medical hell. At one time I was healthy as a horse and strong as an ox. Those days seem long gone. I have a followup visit with the surgeon on Tuesday. He's getting an earful.

As for those who say "that which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger"...

Triggers

Jun. 18th, 2013 12:34 am
greatbear: (me and mom)
We had a busy weekend, Jeff and I. I had planned on doing more yard work but I needed to fix the car, plus I ended up doing a lot of work on a friend's car as well. Jeff did work outside and around the house, plus made a nice dinner of baby back ribs on the grill which we ate outside in beautiful weather. Sunday rolled around and I was able to to some more stuff outside, having to take time and pull the carburetor off one of the lawnmowers because it was acting flaky from dirt inside. Jeff made a pot roast, searing it first and making the house smell wonderful before braising it in the oven. I was still outside doing all manner of things and came in later. I walked into the kitchen to get a drink and stopped dead in my tracks. The kitchen was enveloped in the aroma of the pot roast as it was nearly finished cooking, and I was immediately hit with a flood of memories of Mom and all of her wonderful meals. I quietly bawled my eyes out for a few moments, collected myself and went along with my business. Later, as Jeff was getting dinner onto the table, I told him what had transpired earlier. He said the same happened with him, he couldn't help but think of all those meals with his family. The schmoopy feelings were good ones, of course, and I wouldn't change it for the world. Funny how my rather copious schnozz tends to trigger so many memories at the most unlikely moments. Of course, my thoughts have been drifting in that direction a lot lately, I lost Mom in June nearly 7 years ago. Last night I laid in bed staring at the ceiling and I could barely wrap my head around it being that long already. Time has indeed softened the hard edge of loss, but, just like the Sunday dinner, or the blooming of the lilacs and mock orange, or seeing pictures or hearing a certain piece of music or something else entirely, I get knocked into silence with memories pouring in.

On that subject, many of you know my fondness for Pixar movies, and everyone knows most of those movies have at least one major reach-for-the-kleenex moment. A year to the day after losing Mom, Ratatouille was released and in the theaters. Named after the dish that my mom was fond of and made a lot, I worried I might get choked up while in the theater and made sure I had a pocket full of tissues just in case. But, as the movie progressed, delightful as it was, I didn't get the usual "hit" I had gotten from most of the other Pixar flicks that preceded it. Well, that was a short-lived assumption, because the scene came up where the "evil" food critic Anton Ego is served the plate of ratatouille (as confit byaldi) and has the flashback to his youth, with his mom and all the happiness and warmth it encompassed. I absolutely lost it, and I lose it every time I see that scene. The few seconds of that flashback so mirrors how I feel in such a situation.



Sunday dinner was a feast for more than the palate.
greatbear: (seasons greetings)
Okay, I'm gonna try to play catch-up on some postings I shoulda been doing all along. No thanks to LJ having a case of the butt when I did try. Anyway, enough of that, let us see if there is to be some success.

Jeff and I filled out paperwork today declaring us as domestic partners to be able to share in medical insurance. Our wonderful credit union witnesses and notarizes things like affidavits for free (membership has its privileges!), and the folks there not only don't bat an eye when presented with stuff in that realm, but are genuinely encouraging. The morning's pleasantries done, Jeff had a new task with his new position in his new job that had him doing a cooking demonstration at a D.C. hospital. When I asked him about it, I tried to have him liken it to various Food Network shows. "Well, was it Kitchen Nightmares? Diners, Drive-ins and Dives? Restaurant Impossible (woof @ Robert Irvine)? Iron Chef (Today's secret ingredient is... BEDPANS!)?" Jeff answered with what was to be my next choice, "More like Rachel Ray." Hee, figures. He said he had a good time, people said he put on an amazing show, and he came home smelling of garlic and onions. Someone assisting Jeff got him a chef hat and said, "Here, I got you a 'torque'." This was a demonstration all about cooking and eating healthy. On his way home after 8pm, despite all that cooking, Jeff hadn't eaten anything to speak of. Before getting back to La Casa Mayhem, he stopped to pick us up a little dinner. Of course, after all the healthy cooking and eating schtick, it was McDonald's.

Here at Mayhem Acres, things are a study in contradiction and contrasts. The water heater needed a shot of refrigerant. The no-frost freezer needs to be defrosted. The refrigerator stopped making ice cubes and is instead making puddles. My work is never done.

Verizon just installed a fiber optic connection solely for the landline phone here because the 50+ year-old copper lines in the area are in too bad of shape (I've had ongoing problems with line noise for over 20 years). To this technological triumph I have connected my 1957-vintage, black 500-series Western Electric rotary dial telephone, which is fully functional and has never sounded better. Sadly, there have been a number of growing pains with my newfangled service. Aside from noise, the old copper lines had 99.99% availability.

We had a delightful visitor just before Xmas. [livejournal.com profile] erstexman was in the midst of his whirlwind, several-state tour and paid us a visit. It's been a while since I've had a known-you-on-Livejournal-for-ages-and-we-finally-meet meetup. Evan is a delight, and though his time where was limited, we are talking about doing something sometime in summer. Here's my best attempt at a social-media ready, arm's-length self-photo of us:



Unfortunately for Evan, he had an unexpected bumper car ride in one of the roundabouts about a mile from the house. Mind you, I love me some roundabouts, when there's no one nearby and I have the Mini Cooper all warmed up. Unfortunately, there are too many people around to make this joyride happen every time, and they are no fun when I haul around 50 feet worth of loaded truck and travel trailer though them. I normally have to pass through 3 or four of them in succession, and there are nine(!) such circles within a less-than-2 square mile area here, with a couple more to come. That HAS to be some sort of record. None of these nine circles of hell existed here 15 years ago. At least they aren't traffic lighted intersections.

Next time, [livejournal.com profile] erstexman says he's not driving here. I don't blame him. ;-)

Speaking of Mini Coopers, we were mulling what to get Jeff's grand-niece Kylie for xmas. She turns 3 soon, and we wanted to make her holiday special. We found a KidTrax electric Mini at Costco. We knew she'd love it and be the only kid in that old coal town with one (turns out she has a Jeep already, but, up there, everyone has one of those). I personalized it with custom stickers that said "Kylie's Cooper" in a playful font (no, not Comic Sans!). She kept getting inside while I was trying to put it together, when that task was finally done, we headed out in the blustery Pennslovakia cold so she could test drive it in the yard. For not even three yet, she's a pretty good driver. We might be looking at the next Danica Patrick.



Jeff's father had been making noises about getting a big flat screen television ever since he spent a few days with us and fell in love with ours. We got him a wall mount and a set of high-def cables, wrapped them up and gave those to him the same time Kylie got her ride. We didn't say that we got the set too. Though he didn't say it, we could tell he was just as giddy as our little girl once everything was set up. Being that the Newtown tragedy happened only a couple days prior to all this, it was nice to see a bunch of kids smiling and happy and safe. Dad included.

I wish I could say that the holidays were full of goodness and light, but sadly it was not to be. Jeff's mom has been falling deeper into the clutches of Alzheimer's, as such, the inability of the home care nurses to keep up with her needs, her increased incidences of falling and such finally forced Dad to put her in a nursing home. They treat her well there, and we know she's in good hands. The future in all this is uncertain, as it is for anyone similarly involved.

This weekend we are headed up to the homestead once again. Dad is lonely, being in the house by himself, and looks forward to our visits more now than ever. The silver lining in the recent clouds there is Dad is afforded much more time to himself, and can get out and around more. As such, we will hit the huge farm show in Harrisburg. This will get him (and us) out of the house, we can peruse tractors and livestock, see sheep being turned into shawls (well, their wool, to be precise), partake in greasy yet delicious fairgrounds food and be farmers for a day. We will also pay Mom a visit too, and bring her lots of love. We plan on sneaking Dad down here again soon so he can have a change of pace. He manages to fit in well in his own unique way. We take him out of Amish country but we bring him to our local Amish market. Wouldn't you know, he manages to find people down here who know the people up there. Dad is given a tray of whoopee pies along with a note written in Pennsylvania Dutch by his new-found friend to take to his relatives up north. Dad shuttles the Amish around as a sort of taxi service for extra money, so he knows a lot of them. The Amish are interesting folk, and, ironically, I can somewhat relate to them, beards notwithstanding. I go to a local Amish hardware store. A delightful place, there is no electricity, the place is only a few years old yet is lit by natural light from large windows, or gas mantles among the aisles. They have great deals on power tools, cordless stuff, high-tech lighting, solar power equipment and other items you can't find at the local big-box. Go upstairs and there is furniture, games, dinner ware, and clothing. The clothing is mostly what you'll find the Amish wearing, including those familiar hats. Dad keeps telling me he's gonna get me one of those hats, since my beard is starting to rival some up there. I guess he's right about that, the last time I was at that local Amish market down here, someone started asking me questions about the baked goods. An honest mistake, I guess. It made my day. It made Jeff and Dad howl with laughter.

This post is brought to you by hyphens.
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Today is my honey's birfday! Happy birthday, Jeff!

Sadly, the gifts I ordered for him did not make it in time, but I managed to surprise him with roses and a corny card (with my own added loving sentiment) this morning before he went to work, and we spent the evening at like omg the mall eating Chipotle and doing shopping. All in all a great day for a great guy in my life.

So together, we are all of a hunnert years old now. Here's to another hundred!
greatbear: (mike wazowski!)
Jeff and I were at the local grocer this past Sunday. I usually get a few bagels since they are usually very good at that store, and they have a variety to choose from. This time, however, I was completely floored. I had to buy these two that were in the display case:

IMG_0065


Yes, they are a very bright green. I am assuming for St. Patrick's Day which will be here soon. I am not aware of any upcoming Martian invasions, though the latest thing with the solar flare-ups and that whole 2012 foofaraw might play a part. Not to mention radiation escaping from Japanese nucular reactors 'n' stuff.

IMG_0067


These things are simply the "regular" bagels with what appears to be a gallon of green food coloring added. They are delightfully green inside and out, yet taste just like the Earthlings I also picked up that day. They stay green toasted, and are deeee-lish. Sometimes you just have to have fun with your food.

But, really. Green bagels?
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)
You probably didn't take notice, but there has been an extended period of radio silence on this here bloggy-poo. The reason? Some much-needed vacation time. It was actually a two-parter, the July 4th weekend was spent up at Hillside for 4 days, a return home for us so Jeff could do some worky-worky stuff for a couple days, then a return to the road for a trip to Provincetown for Bear Week. I set the controls at the House and Garage of Mayhem on full auto, the antipersonnel laser vaporizing a trespasser (or it might have been the meter reader, I'll see what the electric company says) but apparently missing the sly groundhog that took liberties (and big bites) with some of the garden veggies.

The Hillside trip was nice. We had on board with us a couple friends, one we knew for years on and offline (former LJer Aaron/"fredneckteddy") and a buddy of Jeff's all the way from North Carolina, Tony, whom Jeff had been conversing online for a very long time and met in person for the first time upon picking him up at the train station on Wednesday. A good time was had by all, lots of good food was cooked and eaten, and, as is apparently an unwritten law for Hillside camping, at least part of the time spent there had us rained on. Tony, being a Hillside "virgin", had a lot of fun despite being at times overwhelmed by, well, the people and things going on there. Hell, he's ate it all up and had a blast. Aaron was last at Hillside maybe 8 years prior, and had no trouble adjusting (yeah, that's what I'll call it for now, "adjusting"). Once the extended weekend was over, I towed our 26 ft home back to its summer parking spot at Jeff's parent's place, leaving it connected to the truck and driving home in the car that we also brought up. This allowed us a substantial fuel savings, and the convenience of having the rig all ready to go again in three days.

We headed up to PTown at the crack of dawn on Thursday, arriving about mid-afternoon. After setting up and a bit of a break, we headed into town. Of course, our first stops are at Mojo's for a big cup of Cape Iced tea, and a stop at the Portuguese Bakery. Any familiar faces or "bears" had yet to make any sort of mass appearance since the bear week event did not officially start until Saturday. We were treated to lots of muscled Chelsea Boy types among other homosexual subspecies. Once the official start of Bear Week approached and passed, the eye candy quotient went into orbit. Jeff and I were quite content with finding outdoor seating at restaurants, shops and the town square and watching the parade of hair humans, many quite familiar from years past. Several of our well-known friends popped up in all the usual places once again, and I got to meet quite a few LJ peeps for the first time, more so than in previous years. There were apparently some missed opportunities as well as outright ignoring by a few people, a major (though not entirely unexpected) disappointment,

Our extended week had us doing our traditional whale watch boat trip, typical shopping sprees and general lolling about town, not to mention eating some of the most awesomest food around every day. We took Kodi with us into town every day, where he soaked in rockstar-like popularity heaped on him by dozens of people at a time. It didn't help that, in addition to his adorable doggy-ness, he would ride in Jeff's bicycle basket through town or carried in a over-the-shoulder sling pouch, both of these carriers designed specifically for pooch perambulating. In addition to the miles of walking, toting and riding, Kodi managed over 1200 miles of puke-free riding from Mayhem Acres all the way to PTown and back. It's like he knows it's vacation time, and relaxes immediately. If this could only be the case with every road trip! It was Kodi's first trip to the beach, where he eventually had a blast dog-paddling in the water once getting used to it.

This year, our vacation accompanies a big change in both of us, as we are officially two middle-aged men with major medical conditions. Jeff was not able to ride nearly as far on his bike as in years past, and I still fumbled my way around a bit while walking. Despite this, we both did remarkably well IMO, with Jeff taking the little rides in stride and I didn't end up falling down once. We even managed to take part in the now-standard-feature-of-Bear-Week, Blowoff. This was short lived, as the dance floor at the Boat Slip Resort resembled a sauna, with the heat and humidity oppressive to say the least. The next day Jeff was hit with a case of "kennel cough" and I still have a case of intermittent sniffles. We are either way too old for this sort of thing, or someone has to provide several thousand more cfm of ventilation to that place.

There's much more, but, sad, to say, all good things have to come to an end, after an 11-hour trip off the Cape and back to the trailer's summer parking spot, a night's sleep, then the additional 2.5 hour trip home this afternoon, our vacation for 2011 officially ended. While sad, and seemingly awfully short, we packed a lot into the time we had, and were glad to arrive home in one piece, bettered by our time spent up north. We are already making plans for next year.

More (possibly) to come...
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Today is Jeff's 49th birthday! Like I have, he begins his last year in his 40s. We celebrated by going out to dinner, I took him to a newish Japanese place called Sake House in nearby Laurel. He had learned about this place on one of those local television station "things to do around town" sort of programs. While running errands some days ago, I found the place, so I knew where we were off to. I made reservations for seats at the hibachi (of course), and we enjoyed a terrific, if rather pricey (but he's worth it, and more) dinner. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the chef's theatrics. We opened with traditional soup and a salad with an unusual dressing, then some amazing sushi and our main courses. Jeff had a combo of shrimp, chicken and beef off the grill, I had lobster and beef which was very good. We then staggered out of the joint rather stuffed to the gills and came home and took it easy. The weather today was in the mid-90s, and it sapped most of our energy once the afternoon rolled around.

On our way out the door to the restaurant, Jeff walks out ahead of me as I am gathering up my keys, glasses, phone and such. I then hear "HONEY?! HONEY?! HONEY?! HONEY?!" from the front walkway. My response? "Okay, where's the snake?" and sure enough he points right at our front step, where the tail of a black snake is, well, snaking its way from the brick step then under the dwarf Alberta spruce planted next to the front door. Walking around the tree to fetch the snake, I see it sliding underneath the concrete stoop. Ah hah! I now know the source and entry point of the truly bizarre hanging death snakes in the basement (of Mayhem). Jeff will of course be treading warily around that area until I wrangle that wreptile and carry it off somewhere.

Speaking of Mutual of Mayhem's wild kingdom, we had finally gotten into the veggie garden and cleaned up, tilled and planted. This morning Jeff unearthed a nest of rabbits. We kept them secret from Kodi and covered them back up, as much as I know they will probably wreak wrabbit havoc on the veggies, neither of us had the heart to do anything else with the critters. The wildlife far outnumber us here (one time while having a cookout with friends, a total of 19 deer trotted through the yard after being spooked from a nearby field by some sort of very loud motorized vehicles), and my nature is to, well, live with nature. When pruning bushes by the garage that had gotten way overgrown, I discovered a bird nest in one of the branches I was removing. I was hoping it was empty, but when I looked in, there was a clutch of three aqua-blue eggs. I set the branch aside until I could finish up, and noticed a grey wren or mockingbird hanging around. I put the cut branch back in place and secured it, later on in the day I see the bird flying in and out of the nest. The leaves are all wilted on that branch now, and once there is no more nest-y activity, I will remove it.

This weekend was very productive, busy, but still fun. We have our pride of accomplishment, and, most importantly, Jeff had three days away from work. He came home, switched off his PC and cell phone, and enjoyed his much needed time off. I enjoyed my much needed time with him. Old man that he is.

Happy birthday, Jeff!
greatbear: (cirque du so gay)
On Saturday Jeff and I went to see the latest traveling Cirque du Soleil show "Totem" in Baltimore. As has always been the case, we enjoyed the hell out of ourselves at the performance. This time, however, Jeff decided that we should spring for the "Tapis Rouge" ("Red Carpet" in that oh-so-French talk CdS uses so much) VIP treatment. This gets preferred parking included with the tickets, entry an hour before the show for hors d'ouvres and drinks, complimentary photos and other goodies. It's then to the show, where we had killer seats, and during intermission is was back into the VIP tent for desserts and more drinks. The food was trying it's best to outdo the performance that afternoon. OMG it was to die for. On the way out from the terrific performance I picked up some souvenirs and we went out for dinner. Since it was prime time for eating it was not easy to find someplace that we didn't have to wait forever, so we ended up at Red Robin (yummmm!). As has been the norm these days, I ended up taking half my meal home with me. This is in addition to the Chinese meal the day before.

Today being Zombie Jesus day, we would normally have had something rather fancy here at home. We decided to get into the spirit of the holiday and resurrect all the leftovers from the fridge for lunch and dinner tonight. No brains though. We managed to push the lawnmowers around for a bit before the rains blasted us. I had been putting off working on the tractor, since the mower deck needs to come out for some work beyond just grease shots and a sharpening of the three blades and I don't feel like wrestling the 250# monster around to do the work. I got the remaining outdoor power equipment all fired up and ready instead. If the weather holds, I will finally tackle the mower and do more picking up of downed branches before doing the more outlying parts of the lawn.

Much more trying to catch up on things and projects as my body allows it. I also have to get the travel trailer ready for action that happens in a few months. Hopefully that won't be a money pit. The vehicles get their pre-summer maintenance, and I have a box full of parts to install on the Stratus once I get some lift time at a buddy's garage.

This week is supposed to bring temps into the 80s again, with the threat of nasty thunderstorms that always seem to accompany such unseasonal extremes. I'll see what I can make out of all that.

Y'all have a great week.
greatbear: (walken)
It seems there's some sort of bigass snow event headed our way in the not-too-distant future.

BRING IT ON.

Despite all that has been happening here with our collective health, I still managed to collect and split a nice batch of firewood a couple days ago to load into the racks and wheelbarrows by the house and get the snowblowers ready. The big generator (Yes!) is ready in case of any power issues, and there's a nice warm fire in the woodstove along with plenty of food in the house. If we do have to get someplace for whatever reason, there's two capable 4WDs.

The Boy Scouts have nothing on me. Besides, all they do is prepare you for Mormonism these days.

Our little, unassuming holiday has been quite relaxing and nice. The other half of the turkey breast we had for T-Day, roasted white and sweet potatoes, carrots and green beans along with crescent rolls made up our dinner, and Jeff has his beloved Dallas Cowboys fired up on teevee for his evening entertainment. I'll head down to the basement workshop (of Mayhem, of course) and wire in the 5kW electric heater I had ordered a couple weeks ago. This is one problem I've been dealing with since my surgery that has upset me - I just can't warm up anymore. Used to be I could work outside in subfreezing weather all day as if it were nothing. Nowadays I complain about being cold, even when sitting in front of the woodstove or one of the space heaters. I hope this passes.

Hope y'all had a great day.

Just stuff

Dec. 6th, 2010 09:16 pm
greatbear: (Default)
It might be a blustery, cold evening here, with temps in the mid-upper 20s and some insane winds, but the house is nice and toasty with the woodstove cranking out the heat, and with a nice bonus of a loaf of whole wheat bread baking, making the nice warm house smell like absolute heaven. A few minutes and the bread is done. Jeff has been on a bit of cooking and especially baking binge the last couple days, and tonight is no different.

I'm currently taking new meds to deal with the nerve damage left over from the spine surgery. It's toned down the electrical storm that has wracked my body since the day my vertebra were sawed up, and I am able to plop myself in bed and sleep like a baby for a most part. I'm still plagued with the numbness, but that might not be quite as bad. The tasering feeling is much diminished, but still there too as well as weakness and occasional loss of control. The only side effects are a slightly loopy feeling and a bipolar appetite.

Still taking it easy and holding off on building the roof window light shafts into the living room. I'm spending the time doing little tasks for the most part, and have been cleaning/lubing hand and power tools while not using them. I have almost a quarter mil invested in tools and machinery (really, it even surprised me) and I try to keep things in good working order. It's tough to find decent tools these days, and good ones are seriously expensive. Most of what I have will easily outlast me. Tools are something special to me. They are a way one practices their craft, earns a living, helps others out, creates and fixes. Tools are an extension of a person, and deserve the same respect. During the recent times I have not been able to use my tools I saw them filled with history and work. Taking some time now and then to exercise some TLC on a lot of my tools was a relaxing and fulfilling task. Since the surgery I've sorta jumped the gun to get back into some work, and it was it's own sort of therapy. I guess I'm one of those who has hands-on work burned completely into my very being.

During this post the bread had finished baking and we sampled it warm and fresh. Yeah, a little slice of heaven.

Have a great week, everyone.
greatbear: (buy n large)
Jeff and I headed up to Pennslovakia this weekend to drag the trailer back here for its winter stay as well as take care of other business. We went out shopping for a new dishwasher for Jeff's 'rents since their old one finally gave up the ghost after slowly falling apart. We found a display model at a substantial discount. I installed it with little difficulty despite the damn stenosis. We also got them a new microwave by surprise by claiming we needed a new one. Their old one was at least 20 years old by my estimation, and in addition to having lost cooking power over the years (all microwave ovens do this as they age, the magnetron, which is a form of electron tube, wears out with use) the turntable no longer spun, so what you end up with is food that required a long time to cook and has hot and not-so-hot areas. Of course, Jeff's dad thinks there is nothing wrong with the old one. The new one has a sensor that allows for lots of automatic cooking options. I've had one for years now, and grown to love it. I hope they enjoy theirs.

We did a lot of running around, from Amish auctions, Wally World, a little Amish thrift grocery store called Hoover's, my favorite local-ish restaurant (Schiano's), Lowes, and Sears on Saturday despite not being able to get any sleep Friday night from pain and other issues. I managed to do some good work around their place despite it all, and had a bit easier time getting sleep. Sunday we headed off to a little restaurant in Jeff's home town that has been there for eons called Hanna's, for lunch. I had never been there before, but we've had ice cream from the adjoining stand many times. It's a tiny place, with around a dozen items on the menu and a few sides. Jeff and I started snickering soon after arriving because we noticed the average age of the customers (including us!) to be in the low 100s, and once noontime rolled around the place became flooded with people almost instantly. I guess church let out and Jeebus made 'em hungry.

After we left the Geritol rave, we headed into downtown Shamokin and all of its cosmopolitan glory tp pick up several tubs of ice cream from Maurer's Dairy & Ice Cream Shoppe. They are known for their delicious homemade ice creams, most notably one they call "Bittersweet" that is made with milk and dark chocolate pieces that somehow shatter into tiny bits when added to the cold churn. It's actually patented, and several corporate interests have tried to buy the recipe/process from them, but they stand firm. They have conventional flavors as well as some unusual ones. One of the most interesting is "Teaberry" which looks like (and at first tastes somewhat like) frozen Pepto-Bismol. After your brain (and taste buds) process what's going on, the flavors mix and mingle, with a primary minty fruit flavor that hints somewhat of chocolate. Nowhere near as bad as it sounds from my description, it's a definite treat, and a taste adventure to boot. We had gotten several tubs of these because Jeff had told coworkers and friends about the stuff. He had given the stuff out before, and not only have people wanted more, word got around. Since we were bringing the trailer home, we fired up the fridge/freezer to keep everything nicely frozen on the trip home.

The last couple days have not been a lot of fun for me, since I am stumbling and falling at a greater frequency. I hope that relief from this hell comes next week. I'm still trying to get things mostly in order around here prior to being out of commission so I can (hopefully) relax. My legs have become bony sticks now, and I've lost quite a bit of weight. I can't wait for my life to return to its normal state of mayhem.

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greatbear: (Default)
Phil

December 2016

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