greatbear: (seasons greetings)
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

Yeah, I still exist, but in a very low-key, nearly zero social media version. I will have to catch up on LJ happenings soon, but I felt it necessary to say hi.

Peace and love...

Happy Xmas

Dec. 24th, 2015 11:38 pm
greatbear: (seasons greetings)
My posting here hasn't been frequent, as most of you reading have probably noticed. I still peek in a couple times a week to read and comment when I can, so, rest assured, I'm still reading everyone on my friends list, even if I don't always comment. All that being said, life here has been pretty much okay for the most part, I've been busy as hell, with our own needs as well as helping out a couple friends that haven't had it so good in recent times. I am happy that, for the first time in six years, I am able to enjoy a Christmas day not immobile with pain and drugged mostly out of my senses. I've decided that this gift of normalcy is one I am sharing with people, lending a hand where I can. Money for me is very tight, so physical gifts are small this year. I feel happy doing what I can, and it certainly proves something I've known for a long time, that the gift is in the giving.

I hope everyone here in LJ-Land has a wonderful Holiday.
greatbear: (me and mom)
I know not everyone has the best of relationships with their mothers, I was fortunate enough to have the greatest mom ever, in so many words. It's pushing nine years since I lost her to cancer, and I still get upset at times, as though it just happened. I miss her so much.

I was fortunate enough fifteen years ago to be accepted into Jeff's family, with his mom and dad treating me like one of their own from the get-go. Jeff and I make it a point to head north and visit for both Mother's and Father's Days. Last year, in the legal sense, Jeff's family became mine when we got married (here's another take on "for better and for worse" being that some of the extended family are, to say it nicely, not easy to live with). Mother's Day is a somber sort of affair, since she's now deep in the grip of Alzheimer's disease and is pretty much off in her own tiny world. Every now and then we will be treated to a little ray of light from that tiny world.

I've been fortunate enough to have two moms, but having lost one and now having one so far out of reach, this day gets harder and harder to take.
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: (seasons greetings)
Pardon me if I'm not exactly filled with Christmas spirit. The weather outside is frightful, with lots of rain and even thunderstorms battering the area for the next couple days. The fire is so delightful, however, as I have the woodstove cranking to offset the dreary, cold, wet mess outside. Jeff and I have both been hit with a very nasty gastrointestinal bug, where we got it isn't clear. I've had these before, but this is by far the worst I've gotten slammed with such a thing, which made me violently ill. I think the worst is over, for I tried to have a little bit of chicken soup tonight and no warning sirens are going off yet. Jeff thankfully has off tomorrow, and with both of us under the weather, our dinner plans might have to be changed to something very light, if anything at all. He has to work Friday, unfortunately. We were planning of heading up the see his family and make a nice dinner, but that looks like it might out of the question given our messed up health. We will see. I was hoping to make it through the holidays without the usual, inevitable winter maladies dropping by to say hello, so instead we got something different and just as unwelcome. Ah, well, it is what it is. I got a couple nice presents for Jeff, he apparently has a couple for me, and we have no idea what we are getting. So that's good. Little surprises, lots of love and warmth.

Our little pooch Kodi needed to have some serious surgery done to remove a number of bladder stones. These were discovered during examinations for something unrelated, and these had the potential to wreak havoc on the little guy had those stones moved into and blocked his urethra. Little trouper he is, after the surgery he was mostly his cheerful self, but kept having accidents around the house. These have subsided, fortunately, and he's almost back to normal. In fact, it seemed in recent months he'd beg to go outside to pee more often than usual, and the frequency is less than before. So I think we had something taken care of before it could get a lot worse. Today I promised him he'd have his stitches removed, but that turned out to only be partially true. When we initially picked him up, he had of course been fitted with The Cone of Shame for obvious reasons. A day or two later he somehow managed to knock the thing off, and he went straight for the surgery site and the stitches. Jeff saw this in time and stopped him from doing any damage, but apparently he pulled one loose and created a large scab. So all but two stitches are gone until next week, where hopefully the disturbed area heals up a bit more, the scab comes off and the remaining stitches that are all caught up in there can be taken out. The Cone of Shame remains on as well, but Kodi has gotten used to it in some ways. Around here, to make the little guys feel better, we don't call the collar the "Cone of Shame," instead it's known as "The Bowl of Kisses," because all you have to do is hold that bowl in your hands and put your face inside, and you will get lots of happy licks.

As for me, well, I'm still down and out from the crumbling spine issues. Only a bit less pain, but unable to do much to the point I have even stopped climbing the walls in frustration. The pain that radiates down and concentrates on my lower left leg has resulted in now shocking amounts of atrophy. My calf is about the size of my forearm, and my thigh is about the size of my biceps before I began having all these old man issues. These days, the biceps are pretty much gone too, my clothes hang off me like a scarecrow, and everyday objects feel heavy. Some of my tools and equipment that are normally quite heavy are nearly impossible for me to deal with. On Jan. 6, I will head in for one last chance at a needle in the spine to help matters. If this doesn't do the trick, I will either have to have very invasive surgery to bolt my back together, or resign myself to pain and disability for the rest of my life. Honestly, with my track record under the knife, the latter choice is looking more promising.

I figured I owed y'all an update, unfortunately it isn't all peaches and cream. But I'll get by. I had so many opportunities to exit the human race but defied the odds. I was born prematurely, with low birth weight and needed resuscitation before spending my earliest days in an incubator, I've been hit by lightning, been electrically shocked hundreds of times during work and tinkering, been in nasty accidents, a round of misdiagnosed peritonitis that had one day left to kill me, and any other number of near misses, bad ailments, stupid situations and close calls. But I'm still here. Too bad that old saying about that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger is pretty much bullocks, because I'm the weakest I've been since most likely elementary school right now. I should be the world's strongest man.

All the best,

Phil & Jeff & Kodi & Snickels
greatbear: (panic panic panic)
Sometimes I can't catch a break. After hassling with Amazon about how payments weren't registering right (one screen would say everything's fine, the other says something is still wrong) I slept on it (a far-too-long, drug enhanced, nightmare cinema sleep). Checking on things today I see the same problem is still there. I call the credit union which is the issuer of the backup card, wondering if the sudden uptick in activity was resulting in balked payments. Lo and behold, I find out the card was shut off quite some time ago. WTF? The account is there, big and proud in my lists of accounts, and I use it as a buffer at times, what could have gone wrong? I'm told it was reported lost. Who the hell did that? It's not as if I woul...

Oh. Yeah. From when I lost my wallet. Six months ago. D. U. H. I had forgotten about this completely, and even though I encountered similar with my secondary debit card several months ago, the credit card completely slipped my mind. Forwarding to today, I am faced with a conundrum, which was a timing-specific purchase of "Cyber Monday" goodies and gifts at considerable savings, and the timeframe for getting payment to Amazon before the transaction was canceled was looming. Well, I was told by the exceedingly friendly woman on the phone that they offer same-day issuing of credit cards if I come in, so I thank her and muster my hunchbacked self into the car and headed over, less than ten minutes away. I got to talk to my favorite associate, Jill, who got everything straightened out along with some extra things I needed to accomplish. My visit took nearly an hour, not because of slow processes, but the two of us catching up on life, love and other stuff. She asked how Jeff has been enjoying his new car. We talked about our pets, which she had met at one time. I lamented about my poor health at the time, she told me about her current home life, and we just had the nicest cawfee tawk overall. In this impersonal world, there are a few oases of direct, personal and genuine contact still to be found, and these little happenings always brighten my day. Customer service, when done well, will make you feel like more than just a customer.

I waddled back home, new card in hand, and now a bit of Xmas won't be spoiled, plus I was able to discover something wrong while being able to immediately tend to it instead of finding out at a bad time, like away from home and no gas in my tank, with no means to pay. Granted, I still had other means to be prepared (my days in the Cub/Boy Scouts weren't totally wasted), but I'd rather the shocks hit me while not far, far away.

Tomorrow I will be drugged, blasted with radiation, and have very long needles stuck into my spine in hopes of returning to a better life. Jeff will once again have to come home early and be my driver, since I won't be in a condition to drive after the procedure, according to the doctor. While I tend to mostly be even more wobbly and weak after having this done, I doubt I would've been unable to drive the relatively short distance home myself. Even though I hate imposing on Jeff's time with work, I feel more comfortable with him around. It's part of the therapy. Wish me luck.
greatbear: (me and mom)
Happy Mother's Day.

A mom is someone that everyone has. How your relationship with your mother (or father, for that matter) develops once you've squeaked your way into this cold cruel world just as you were getting comfortable in your underwater oasis can take many turns. I was lucky to have a mom that made sure I was never hungry, never unloved, never without a roof over my head. My father, not so much, but this is not the day for that. I literally lost my world of all my prior decades when I lost Mom. I still feel great pains of loss at seemingly inappropriate times. With spring finally putting on a show here, lots of very early memories, sparked by sights, sounds and especially scents take me instantly back to my youngest days, where I didn't have the cares and worries I have as an increasingly broken, middle-aged man. No, these little moments are tiny vignettes of days of play, of sunshine, of meals made on shoestring budgets with the utmost of care, of literally being the man of the house starting at age 5, of exploring, of learning about the world and its good and bad, of falls and spills and bicycle accidents and the best medical care ever delivered while sitting on the edge of the bathtub, of happiness, of trust, and of love. Just when I think time is being cruel and robs me of something, the ol' memory banks get triggered and I am back in my fondest of places.

I sincerely wish everyone's Mother's Day could be like this.
greatbear: (picture start)
I guess it's time for me to bid Ye Olde Yeare farewell. 2013 kicked our asses here, but with the setbacks came rebuilding and healing. We started on our way with a good outlook, lots of plans and energy and it went well until April, when we got the call that Jeff's parents' house was on fire. His mom was not in danger, being in a nursing home. Luckily, we happened to have dad with us at the time. While the house burned completely, the most important contents were safe. Rebuilding went well and was pretty painless, all of us having varying degrees of input and effort in the process, now dad has a nice, safe, comfortable new place. A lot seemed lost as well, but even that held some surprises. While the family lamented the loss of beloved family portraits and pictures, I realized a bit later that I had scanned most of them several years back as part of a little project to fill a digital photo frame with those prints as a gift for mom. I looked through backups and found the scans, which were adequate for reprinting. I had printed two of the most treasured ones to give to dad on his birthday, while he was still living in our camper. I think it was that particular moment in time he realized that all wasn't lost, and things will turn out for the better once everything was mostly finished. I'm happy to say that has mostly been the case. His only regret is that mom is completely unable to share in the rebuilding and good fortune. And I agree. But I have no doubt that she would've really liked how it has all turned out.

Jeff has had a decent run so far with his new job at the hospital. It's not entirely frustration free, but it is a far cry from the last gig. He's still called on to work some holidays and weekends, this time it includes New Year's day, and he did have to work today as well. This does change, someone else will have to be manager on duty for this time next year. It is also far more predictable and fairly flexible, we can plan our things around working weekends and holidays, and, if needed, some things can be changed. Gone is the total unpredictability and downright frustration of working in government services and for/with people who are completely inept and with political bents.

As for me, well, I did start off the year on a high note of sorts. I had planned on making good use of my "unplanned retirement" to fix up the house and yard, taking care of long-term repairs to make my elder years better off for both of us. The fire did sidetrack some of our vacation plans, but we did manage our major PTown trip with complete success. I was on my way toward major house repairs and upgrades, as well as taking care of vehicles with things such as new tires and other longform maintenance so I wouldn't have to worry about such things for at least several years. I had started on some garage and workshop upgrades, new tools and machinery to end just about any reliance I might've had on outside sources for repairs and upkeep of vehicles, electronics, house and yard stuff and whatnot. Our garden was beginning to produce produce, and things were going well. Then I injured my back, far worse pain that I had experienced before with similar troubles, and it knocked me back big time. Te pain, near complete immobility for months put a lot of progress to a halt. The subsequent surgery didn't immediately result in relief, in fact, things got far worse for several weeks before any improvements began to show. In the last month now I've become more mobile and active, but still needing a lot of physical therapy. Around the house I can get around without the cane, walker or other assistance, and I've even begun venturing away from the house leaving the cane behind if I know I won't be walking far. I've even begun to tackle some of the simpler tasks, projects and goodies I had been forced away from since early September. I'm still not without difficulties, I overexerted myself the day before yesterday working on vehicles and am feeling it today, but it is important I keep on moving, walking and standing. I still walk with a very pronounced hunching over, and standing upright is a monumental task at times. But, I can say each week has been bringing about more relief and returns to normalcy.

2013 might have been a year less of setbacks as it has become more a prospect of gaining some traction. I hope 2014 continues this trend. Jeff and I have some pretty mean plans for the new year. Getting married, some cool trips, sharing our successes and good times with friends and family, and hopefully increasing our circle of friends along the way. More fun outings like concerts, shows and more. I'm looking forward to improving quality of life here a Mayhem Acres so life down the road is less hassling and more fun. Wish us all luck.

Happy New Year to my LJ family and friends. You're a hardscrabble bunch, hanging in here. You deserve a great 2014.
greatbear: (seasons greetings)
Merry Christmas everyone. Thanks for being faithful readers over the years. Your gift to me. :-)
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: (jeff and me)
Or as I like to call it, Happy T!

I don't have to reiterate how my life has taken a bad turn lately, I'm trying to plod on regardless. Jeff is at work, this had not been planned, he decided to help out for a portion of today and tomorrow, but home well in time to relax, have dinner and yell at the various football games on teevee. I managed to put the (free-range, natural-fed, solar power processed) turkey we get every year from the farm across the road into the oven. The procedure was about as clumsy as that sentence, as I pulled the heavy Magnaware roasting pot from the fridge that was Mom's favorite onto my rolling toolbox stack, shuffled across the kitchen and tried to think how I was about to put the awkward 20 pound assembly in the oven while trying to steady myself with one arm. I absolutely can't bend over or in any way hold anything in front of me, but I managed to crouch and brace myself as I took the pot and contents off the rolling cart and finagled it into the oven. Success! I was bound and determined to do this as I've been doing lately trying to live an everyday life with the hopefully temporary snafu I'm dealt. I can now make short steps with the cane, and I can navigate the stairs using the railings. I've began tinkering and fixing things again, I can't tell you how much this helps my mental state.

Thanksgiving. Well, despite it all, I am thankful. Though Jeff had to work, it was of his own doing this time, and it really won't mess up0 the holiday. Jeff was given a day off for the two half days he was to put in, I said to tell his boss he should get two days off considering it is a holiday. Guess what? Jeff told his boss, and he agreed. I get Jeff for a nice long weekend the following week. I also have him Tuesday, since he will shuttle me to and from the doc for a followup visit, where I will have an earful to unload. If all goes well, and since the crazy crowds will have died off, Jeff and I might go to the store to get me out of the house. If I can hang off the back of some sort of cart, I can walk anywhere.

I'm thankful to still be around, that I have Jeff to take care of me despite the often cranky moods and intemperate outbursts. I have a few good friends that, despite their distance, really make me feel like people care. And, at the moment, I am thankful for the hugeassed home theater setup with its 17 individual speaker cones blasting Pink Floyd as I mess around the house and play with the pooches.

I hope those in LJ are having a good day too. Without you, I'd be definitely less fortunate.

Thanks.
greatbear: (forearms)
Happy Canada Day!

Remember, you can't complete the previous sentence without a lot of "eh"!

Mom's day

May. 12th, 2013 02:00 am
greatbear: (me and mom)
For those that celebrate the day, I hope you and Mom had a great Mother's day.
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.

Gnu ears

Dec. 31st, 2012 10:40 pm
greatbear: (Default)
Here's hoping that everyone will have a most excellent 2013. 2012 had a lot of joy and disappointment for the two of us, but we are looking forward to the new year. Resolutions? Too much work. We already know what we want and don't want for the upcoming year. I just want the unexpected to be more better than bad.

Happy New Year!
greatbear: (seasons greetings)
I know, I am not exactly Posty McPostalot, maybe that will change. There's been a lot going on, most of it fun and happy. Visiting people, people visiting, smiles on kids faces, all good stuff. I will elaborate later.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!
greatbear: (bring out your dead)
Because I'm such a consummate DIYer.

greatbear: (Default)
It's that time, get out your four-leaf clovers, leprechauns, shepherd's pie, green beer, pots o' gold, shillelaghs, Blarney stones, bangers and mash and all that stuff.



Happy St. Patty's day, everyone.
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: (me and mom)
Happy Mother's Day, everyone.

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greatbear: (Default)
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