greatbear: (forearms)
I guess it is that time once again. Another year drawing to a close, taking me with it to places unknown. I have to say that this year has been one of my best, despite having a great deal of medical issues. The highlight, of course, was getting married. I keep replaying snippets in my head of that wonderful day. So much love, happiness and warm feelings condensed into a single day that the effects keep lingering. I got to meet people I haven't seen in way too many years, and yet we picked up right where we left off. There was so much worry about making sure everything was right, that all melted away on that lovely Saturday in late June. As quick as it all came together, it faded away, though, yet left us both giddy and excited and, well, "different." Hard to describe, but it's a real feeling.

We had already planned our vacation to PTown last year, and we used that as our honeymoon of sorts. We had our usual good time, and the two of us felt refreshed in the way a proper vacation should, with maybe a bit extra. We had a lot of momentum and enthusiasm. Life felt worth living.

As some of you who read this on a regular basis, you know I began the year with health-related issues centering on my deteriorating back, with the year before leaving me in the worst condition yet. I metered my abilities and worked toward the big wedding day as best I could, and I did have a few setbacks. Once the ball was rolling, though, we busted ass. Mayhem Acres, rather neglected over the past few years because of my problems, became a beautiful garden once again, one that would've made my Mom proud. People who didn't attend the wedding who saw photos would wonder which park or resort we had used for our big day, and were astonished when we'd say it's our home. Those were words which made me smile every time. I've worked hard over the years, building this place from an overgrown vacant lot into a home where we can do whatever we want. Both of us vowed to be a lot more social/sociable and share in our good fortunes more often, inviting friends over for parties and other activities, as long as my health kept up.

I began making up for lost time by doing needed upgrades on the house, with a number of renovations, from a new front door and entryway, to new kitchen lighting, home automation, enterprise-grade networking, security and alarm systems and a number of other bit meant for making life easier and more comfortable in the future. Jeff decided it was time for a new car, and he got himself a nice Subaru Forester with all the goodies. This has been perfect for extended trips needing a lot of room as well as good gas mileage. I indulged my geeky kid side with a quadrotor drone and some other toys because I deserved it. Life was pretty damn good.

As that old saying goes, everything good must come to an end. Or, in my life these days, I can only get so far before my degenerative disc disease rears its ugly head once again and shuts me down in my tracks. In September, much like last year, I went from flying high to once again hunched over in lots of pain, unable to move without a cane, and in need of nasty painkillers to survive. I began the usual easy treatments with no success, then had the corticosteroid injections in my back before the holidays. This left me slightly better off, but still unable to get far without the cane, and with continuing atrophy in my legs making me weaker with every passing week. I guess I am used to this, I lived each day in a slow fog, with few accomplishments. It was also looking like I just might make it though the holidays without getting my usual cold/bug/flu/seasonal malady, but right before Xmas the two of us got a nasty lower GI bug, with mine being outright nasty. We made it past the worst of it by Christmas day, but our original dinner plans of a nice ham and trimmings with other goodies gave way to frozen French bread pizzas, potato chips and holiday cookies for dessert. Christmas day itself was almost surreal for me, after waking up I meandered into the living room and stayed there the entire day. We exchanged gifts we said we didn't want but we got anyway, we managed our little dinner after a week of gastrointestinal apocalypse, and the day closed with the ISS making an appearance in the night sky above the house. I stood outside, watching the flyover for the first time, smiling and misty-eyed, waving at the little dot fading over the horizon as it helped carry my hopes and dreams given to me as a kid with my love of science at a very early age.

Last night we wondered about what to eat, and I told Jeff I was in the mood for lasagna, though we had nothing of the sort, nor the wherewithal to make it after Jeff's long day at work, so we decided to get take-away from our local favorite Italian place. I should've known that thing were not quite on track, as it took Jeff longer than expected to return with the food. Apparently they messed up our order, gave part of it to someone else, then Jeff finally returned home exasperated with our dinner, minus some. That experience alone was making us rethink our patronage, but it wasn't until we sat down and I began eating the lasagna that the other shoe dropped. My lasagna was bad. Not improperly cooked, but spoiled. Like most restaurants, certain dishes are made ahead of time and refrigerated, and cooked when ordered. Well, apparently my lasagna carryout was made about a month and a half ago, and when I got far enough into it, my stomach turned. I endured another night of intestinal distress as a result. I've still not fully recovered.

I've had a lot of ups and downs in the past few years, and despite the setbacks this year, this one was overwhelmingly positive. The first week in January I will head back to the doc once again, for a second booster shot in my spine. As had happened with a setback in May that had me crawling back to the doc for those frighteningly long needles in my back, the second time did the charm, so I am hoping this time the double shot does the trick. I know my time hiding from the knife is fading, and one of these days I have to decide if I want to fuse my back with plates and screws giving me permanent limitations for the rest of my life is the thing to do, or keep going as I have been, hoping for the best. The other thing is the ultimate realization that I can no longer function as I have for my first 50-some years, and finally apply for disability assistance. My savings are running thin, and I'm too far away from collecting my pension. My ego keeps me from doing this, because, despite knowing and being told differently, I feel this is giving up. I've been too independent in my years, and I am used to doing things my way, on my own terms, to build and maintain my existence. Mom and I were practically dirt poor, and I did my best to use all my abilities to change that completely. Those abilities did well for me, Mom, Jeff and many others through the years, and I hate seeing them fade. I'm hoping this new year brings some surprises of the pleasant type rather than an early gateway into assisted living.

May you all have a fantastic 2015!

Looking up

Jun. 26th, 2014 10:54 pm
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Good news! I found my wallet. Bad news, I lost my beard. Well, a good bit of it, at least.

By tomorrow evening the yard will have more tents in it than if Cirque du Soleil were performing here.

The front door here at La Casa Mayhem is a rusty, ugly disaster. I had hoped to replace it before the big day, but I had to postpone that project a multitude of times due mostly to physical health issues. When I finally decided I was in good enough shape to tackle the project, when I tried to order it up, the lead time was too long. So, I bagged that project. Instead, I did a quick and dirty paint job to the door itself, the frame and sidelight. It took about half the day, since the paint was peeling furiously and it needed a lot of sanding and other prep work, but for a door assembly I plan on ripping out in a couple months, it looks damn good, better than I expected. I had to *try* not to obsess over the details like I am prone to do, just slap the paint on and be done. Now I won't have to be ashamed, and the rest of the outside entryway which I fixed up a couple years ago doesn't look shamed by the last remaining part that was to be replaced. It was embarrassing to see that pitiful entry to the house we've been working so hard on lately.

Right before I had found my wallet the other day, we were running errands (one of which was getting a replacement driver's license). We stopped at the dry cleaners to pick up Jeff's work duds and I walked over to the suspiciously quiet area which is our favorite local restaurant. It's a little Chinese place called Hunan House, it has been there for close to 30 years. I've eaten countless meals from there, everything from a lunch grabbed to eat while building the house here to sit-down meals with friends. Never had a bad meal in all that time. The staff got to know us by name, knew our favorites, always asked about how we were doing and what was going on in our lives, etc. To my utter dismay a sheet of paper was taped to the glass saying they were regretfully closing after all these years and thanked everyone for their years of patronage. I drove home sobbing. In fact, though finding my wallet did cheer me up somewhat (it was more like a big relief), losing our favorite haunt was like a kick in the groin.

Our friends that are joining us for our wedding begin to arrive tomorrow from out of state. We still have a lot of work to do, but it is now mostly the setting up and getting ready variety. Tomorrow morning I will put the final touches on the cleanup before putting away the pressure washers. A bit if the walks up front need to be cleaned, as do the two long asphalt drives. The carport is spotless; this is where the caterer will be set up. The Garage of Mayhem is looking beauteous, and the big concrete area in front is clean enough to eat off of. The trailer is in its rightful parking spot as well. I have to cram all the big equipment into the building tomorrow when I'm done, that should be a chore just by itself.

My back has been mostly holding up, but I have been trying my best not to overdo the exertion and whatnot, and sometimes failing that I get a not-so-gentle reminder that I am still a feeble old man. All I am hoping for is it holds up for our big day and for our PTown trip next month. After all that, I can truly take it easy. We need this vacation badly, and more than ever, it seems.

I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and this time it's not a speeding freight train.

Registered

Jun. 20th, 2014 12:40 am
greatbear: (jeff and me)
I am not one to solicit things from people, but I am doing this since a few people have asked if we had a wedding registry. At first, it wasn't going to be, but after being asked early on, and given our common use of Amazon.com for so much stuff, we put two and two together and I created a wedding registry for us there. Now, I am new to this in more ways than one. We originally were going to eschew (gesundheit!) any gifts for ourselves, however, for many, the gift is in the giving. I am in that camp as well, I like to be generous in any way I can, it's how I was raised, after all. I myself don't like to be denied the opportunity to give of myself, and such is the case with more than just a few of our friends as well. That being said, Jeff and I have been trying to come up with various items we could use. As I said before, I am new to this, and once I figured out how to get it going, it should be easy. Well, it's tough to think of desired gifts. We've been slowly adding to the list. It hasn't been without a humorous side effect though. Adding a registry to my account also added an extra button on every product page. I use a wish list to bookmark items to compare and to hold off until later. Well, the registry button took the original position of the wish list, and by accident I had been adding all sorts of totally unlikely "wedding gifts" to the registry. Tools, computer parts, hardware, car stuff, you name it. Jeff wondered why some odd shit was there and I had to laugh. I took most of it out but left a couple things there for the laugh value. I mean, a receiver hitch for the car? Heck, we are getting hitched... lmao

So, here it is. Our wedding registry. We'll be thinking of stuff to add as the day grows near.
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: (oh yeah jr-sr)
New York State House and Senate have approved same-sex marriage!
greatbear: (he is risen)
Well, it appears that the stay placed against same-sex weddings in California has been lifted! Is that the peal of wedding bells I hear? Is that the sound of wingnut heads exploding too? Both are such wonderful sounds.


(ht - JMG)

Edit: Rats! The "stay" has not actually been lifted, that will happen in one week (to allow for appeals filings), if nothing gets in the way the stay will be lifted.
greatbear: (fuzzy)
It seems that the NOM ad drama I mentioned earlier today has been looked into by the LJ staff, who made an effort in posting an explanation not only in the source journal entry but in my comment stream as well. Plus, an entry made by the ever vigilant (and possibly damp!)[livejournal.com profile] wet_in_sf detailing his contacting LJ staff about this issue got a prompt reply as well. It seems that work was done by LJ to nip this mess in the bud before it got out of hand as sometimes happened in the past. Good show.

It appears that LJ/SUP does take an active role in controlling what sort of ads show up via the third-party add service, and this one seems to have been crafted in a way to evade such controls using keyword combinations and other means. This reeks of typical Rush/Rovian tactics and the sort of means championed by smarmy far-right wingnuts. These sorts have no honor or scruples.
greatbear: (shit pile)
Uh oh.

While quietly tinkering in the Workshop of Mayhem I sensed a disturbance in the LJ Force. Actually, I was just hungry, but during my break for lunch, I discovered this:



Of course, this is to be expected around teh intarwebs these days. But that's not the whole issue. This ad has been popping up in ad-supported LJs and is being hosted by SUP, the outfit that owns Livejournal.

I think it's time that Teh Gays pwn Livejournal. Again.

More info can be found here.

([livejournal.com profile] snugglebitch via [livejournal.com profile] nebris)

EDIT: It seems that LJ itself was blindsided by this about as much as those journal owners who were affected by it. The comments following this post include one by the LJ staff apologizing and referencing in greater detail what happened and what they are doing to prevent it from happening again. It seems this issues was pretty promptly dealt with before it became huge. Kudos.
greatbear: (headsmash)
It's the morning after. I can finally shed a bit of the stress and anxiety I'd been feeling the last couple days leading up to and including election day, and watching those counts roll in. Indeed, history was made yesterday by a solid majority of US citizens wanting and hoping for a new direction for our country. This path of change and reconciliation is a long, slow uphill one, thanks not only to the failed policies of the last eight years, but going back into the Reagan years.

I wake today with the giddiness gone, replaced with some cold facts of reality not entirely unlike the day after a drunken Vegas-style wedding facing the cold truth of the consequences of one's actions. Prop 8, along with other ballot initiatives passed nationwide nullifying and prohibiting same-sex marriage have rewritten state constitutions, targeting a class of citizens with discrimination and the inability to live equally among the rest of the populace. It's like a roundhouse kick in the gut, delivered by smiling, self-righteous bible-toting Neanderthals who insist they know best and proclaimed themselves some sort of authority on such matters. Well, it's time that changed. By publicly involving yourselves in the political workings of America and it's diverse citizenry, it's now time to bring the machinations of organized religion out into the light and into widespread public scrutiny. The separation of church and state benefits both. Those that seek to meld their religious tendencies into the realm of government for their own gain don't stop to think that it's a two-way street. We've seen the inherent nastiness of political investigations. I feel it's time to focus that glaring spotlight into the realm of the church, this time making public the inner workings of various religious organizations who seek to intertwine themselves into the body politic. Nothing will put the brakes on religious meddling than the greater public eye.

For every effort that seeks to shove prayer into public schools or hang the Ten Commandments in some courthouse there needs to be an equal and opposing push. And by opposing, I dont necessarily mean the so-called godless approach. You want "God" in school? Fine. In order to do so, however, you have to include them all. So Jesus will simply be leading a big, long parade that will include Vishnu, Jehovah, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, L. Ron Hubbard, Satan, Zeus, witches, crones, Eric Clapton, Yngwie Fucking Malmsteen and every other person or entity considered as or worshiped as a 'god' or otherwise a basis for a religion. It's all or nothing. And we all know what the reactions would be.

I'm sick to death reading stories or watching how some backwater church full of small-minded people have their sheep huddled together praying and crying that a President Obama or gay marriage will bring about the end of the world according to some lunatic beliefs they share. You want a Rapture? Great. May I suggest you start with lots of nice, cold Kool-Aid. Not a single one of these people subscribing to their nutty beliefs has a closet so free of skeletons that they have any right to dictate how others can live their lives. No more sacred institutions. If you are trying to make policy, then you live in a glass house. Not only can we see inside at everything you do, you cannot throw stones. It's often been proven that those who seek to undermine or eliminate something are hiding the same (or worse) in themselves. Not any more.

It's been said over and over again to the point of vomitus that 'marriage is a sacred institution'. Bullshit. Those who keep proclaiming this nonsense not so ironically tend to live in areas of like-minded people and surrounded by the highest rates of divorce, spousal abuse and dysfunctional families. Way to go, keep up the good work of changing the party from within. Maybe y'all can take a page from the Log Cabin Republicans. Or far better yet, not. Marriage is nothing but a contract. You can get one practically anywhere, and no church need get involved. It's an industry in Las Vegas, only minus the smokestacks. Marriage can indeed be sacred, however, once it is treated with respect and available to every dedicated loving couple who seeks it.

I cried as I saw the results from the Prop. 8 passage. Over the past several months I witnessed the legal marriages of quite a few people on my list, along with wonderful photos and stories behind them. I got to hear and read about so many who finally had a chance to tie the knot, even as one of the last things they had done in their life. To have that right once again snatched away by a simple majority, and not even an overwhelming one, fills me with a rage that I am not sure how to contain. I just hope that no one I know makes some sort of passing nasty remarks about how fags should not be able to marry. I will most likely punch their teeth out.

To all my married, wanting-to-be-married and otherwise hopeful gay and lesbian friends in California, and everywhere, I am truly, deeply sorry.

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Phil

December 2016

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