Thursday, October 30, 2008

"If She Had a Set of Wings...

I know she could fly!"

When Talia was here last weekend I walked outside with Angel because there have been a couple of (very) large strays running around the neighborhood, and at 13 and having arthritis in her hips, I didn't want her having to defend herself even if they only wanted to play. (They ran up two nights later and knocked down the landlord of the house next door to me just trying to play with him.)

Of course, the rain had stopped and she wanted to swing, so after I dried off the seat I let her and went back in to grab the little point-and-shoot I bought last year.

I've been trying to get a good photo of Angel for the last few months, not knowing what lies ahead through the winter.

I've been trying for longer than that to get a decent one of "Frankie", the cat Noel tamed from a stray and then couldn't keep because he tested positive for feline leukemia. She had 3 and so asked if we would take him. He's so black that without a flash he's indistinct and with one his eyes are scary, so this is the best I've gotten of him so far.

When she was off on Tuesday we ran a few errands and got her the last pieces to make her a "rodeo clown" for her Halloween costume for work. Tonight she works late as they have a "Trick or Treat" party at the nursing home so the residents get to pass out candy to their families and those of employees.

I spent yesterday bloghopping and doing a light work out; this morning I started picking things up to vacuum and started catching up laundry because we're keeping all 3 grandkids this weekend while John tries to finish spackling their ceilings and getting them ready to "re" texture.

It's probably not nice to say, but I'm glad it's him and not me!

After I vacuum I'm going downstairs and see how many sets of squats I can do and still come back up the steps; last week after 10 sets and leg extensions and curls, I had to stop halfway for a bit...


May the rest of the week be kind, and if I don't see you between now and then may your Halloweens be fun! I probably won't be around much over the weekend (something about Dottie being home and us having all 3 grandkids tends to fill up my time), so enjoy!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Quirks 'R Us!

Tagged by Zillachen a few days ago, I'm just now catching up with it...

These things always seem hard to do because (I'd like to think) most of my quirks are readily B.B. King's admonishment to Bobby "Blue" Bland in a live recording so many years ago; "I ain't a refrigerator, I don't keep nothing in"!

The rules:

1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged bloggers’ blogs letting them know
they’ve been tagged.

1. I believe if mechanical things don't have souls (I'm still not convinced) that
they at least have personalities. I talk to them, have spent a fair amount of
time coaxing them through the years, and have felt guilt at abandoning the ones
that didn't leave my hands "alive"!

2. I tend to overthink things to the point of inaction. Be it spending more time
reading how to do something than it would take to just go do it, or reading so
many viewpoints that they all become mush in my brain and lead to confusion. This
is one I'm working on.

3. Closely related to #2, I have poor budgeting skills concerning time. If I make a
"to-do" list for the day, I'll be lucky to be 1/3 of the way through it by day's
end. This may or may not have anything to do with the distractions of Blogger,
MSNBC, G4TV, FuelTV, or MusicChoice...

4. As I've grown older, being in crowds bothers me more and more. From sharing an
aircraft carrier with 5,000 other guys 35 years ago being "normal", I now cringe
at the thought of a mall during the holidays.

5. Which leads to the fact I've been Christmas shopping for months now, though not
as much has been put away as I'd like, having to do with those lists that never
show up until Thanksgiving. Of course, the ultimate goal of having it all wrapped
by Thanksgiving like my Grandma used to will never be achieved!

6. I've never been an "assertive" person, part of why I don't capitalize the first
letter of my name here or when I visit you; part of why I always ended up with
extra work on my jobs through the years that no one else could or would do; part
of why I just can't bring myself to tag people when I do things like this. Many
of you have gotten e-mails from me through the years that open with my apology
for intruding, etc.. More of you would have had I an address!

So, now that those who are still here are bored to tears...

Dottie was off yesterday and after our errands, we went to Lawrence to watch one of my younger nephew's last football games as he graduates this next spring. John, Noel and the grandkids also went, and though it was very cool and had rained most of the day, we all had a good time. The grandsons talked Cindy into keeping them overnight, so Dottie invited Talia to come home with us. She is in the living room watching Barbie's "Nutcracker" as I write, and has a model she picked out, a C5 Corvette, that she wants to put together later this afternoon or tomorrow. (I'm very glad I won't be keeping her in rolling stock when she comes of age!)

When I click "publish" I'm going to wander downstairs and spend some time lifting and doing laundry, and decide which way I plan to grill the chicken for dinner tonight. I bought some "raspberry chipotle" marinade, but Talia isn't much for "different" things right now (neither is her Grandma, actually, and that word chipotle drew quite a reaction when it was seen on the bottle).

About 3 times a year I allow myself a glass or two of wine (some years not at all) and the other week, having been through all my bloodwork and such for the year, I thought a treat was in order so I picked up a bottle of chardonnay...Newman's Own "Top Hat"...

Since tonight will be the first IRL race since Paul departed, and since Carl Haas announced earlier in the week that as long as there is a team, Paul's name will stay on the cars (that had been decided in advance, he said) it seems like a very appropriate time to pop a cork and think fondly of someone who did so much for the world!

May the weekend be kind to you all!


Monday, October 20, 2008

You've Got to "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

Eliminate the negative"
Not to interrupt Mr. Johnny Mercer's lyrics, but that's been a goal for some years now; always trying to "stay positive" about things, be they my life, my hopes, my dreams, or the energy I try to give the Universe...
"And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium's
Liable to walk upon the scene"
Perhaps like it has these last few weeks? These last few years?
"To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do just when everything looked so dark?

(Man, they said "We'd better accentuate the positive")
("Eliminate the negative")
("And latch on to the affirmative")
Don't mess with Mister In-Between (No!)
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

(Ya got to spread joy up to the maximum)

(Bring gloom down to the minimum)

(Have faith or pandemonium's)
(Liable to walk upon the scene)

You got to ac (yes, yes) -cent-tchu-ate the positive
Eliminate (yes, yes) the negative
And latch (yes, yes) on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, don't mess with Mister In-Between"

I first heard this song as a child and just thought it was cute. I grew a little older and thought the lyrics were a nice outlook if you could achieve it. Life was contributing much to help my outlook at that point.

As I grew bitter and cynical in my early 40's I began trying to (though I couldn't have said it this way at the time) change my life by changing my outlook on life.

Here came those words again...

Never did I think of them as a manual for trying to get out of this life sane!

Finally hearing this over the weekend, I realized I've been trying to do just that for a long time now...too bad I wasn't smart enough to listen the first time I heard it!

I found a clip of one of the original versions; it also has some other "goodies" in it if you have time to stick around; some humor, a dedication... It's from something that was filmed "for the boys" 64 years ago.

We picked ourselves up by our bootstraps and put things back together then when no one really thought we ever could. We can do it this time, too!

May the week be kind to each of you!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Here Comes the Sun!

Maybe...for a minute...if we're lucky!

Woke this morning to an unexpected thunderstorm...bloghopped, put together my shopping lists and called in prescriptions so that I can run errands this afternoon. Dottie is off this weekend; Laura flew to D.C. yesterday to spend the weekend with Bill and won't be back until Monday; John, Noel and the grandkids are busy this weekend.

So it's supposed to be a nice quiet weekend with just Dottie and I...for the first time in months I think!

She wants to see Mark Wahlberg's new movie "Max Payne" so we'll be doing an early show of that either tomorrow or Sunday. If we do two this weekend, "Appaloosa" is also on her list. I'll be waiting for "Nights in Rodanthe" to hit DVD, along with "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist". I like both of the "kids" playing the leads in that one...

And though they're in their 20's, I guess I'm at that point where if they're less than half my age, they're "kids"!

We have some Netflix that have been "sitting" while life "whirled" around us these last few weeks, and I bought "Leatherheads" last week when it came out; one I had really wanted to see "on the big screen".

So, there's probably already more on the list than we can get done before Monday morning!

I spent yesterday rearranging the basement and moving her plant stand and plants inside for the winter, along with rigging the plant lights and a timer, as we got down to 40 the night before last. I also, not being as hardy as some of my friends, vacuumed out our main furnace and lit it off, for which we were grateful night before last.

May the weekend be kind to each of you...


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And speaking of escaping!

I was released from jury duty and home by noon yesterday. Dottie was off and I got home just as she was leaving in my truck to go the post office, so we had lunch and then ran errands for a bit.

I figured out through the course of events the other day that the shut-off valves I put in 20 years ago had their rubber washers disintigrating and clogging aerators on faucets and the fill-valve on the toilet, so I started in changing those to a newer type that have no washers, a steel "ball valve". By the time I changed all 6, making a parts run in the middle, it was 8 something last night, lol.

Thinking I was done, I carried all my tools back to the garage, we both showered and finally sat down to watch something. Before bed I checked them each, and found a slight drip in one. I placed something under it and in a bit I'll go take all the stuff out of the cabinet and crawl back in to see if I can fix it...

Then I can put everything in the basement back where it started and put my little gym back together!

Still holding at around 280, which is good as I'm not gaining like I would have been had I stopped excercising while I was working (I'm eating less than I did when I was working, and probably least until we stopped at Krispy Kreme yesterday). Hopefully I can start driving that number down again soon!

May the rest of the week be kind to each of you!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Sometimes the demons escape their cage...

I hope I'm forgiven for needing a bit of help getting that one back in (referring to my last post). I've never talked about all of that with anyone; my family seems to have all dealt with it or blacked it out; my wife keeps telling me I just need to quit thinking about it...somehow it's not like a light switch that can just be flipped off...

Friday while Dottie was off we changed the water pipe out of the hot water tank. I had rebuilt the "header" line in the basement 20 years ago, and then as we lost pressure again I had changed the line into it a few months ago, but still to get a warm shower there was so little pressure that it would barely keep the diverter button in to make the shower work.

When we got the 1/2" galvanized line out, we carried it outside and even pointing it at the sun there was not even a pinhole of light through it. I replaced it with 3/4" CPVC and for the first time in about 5 years, not only do we have hot water to the shower, but the sinks and washing machine as well! The shower you actually have to turn down because you can't stand the pressure of it on full!

Right after we had that hooked back up and had bled the lines out, Dottie was in the basement and I was headed up the steps when there was a loud "pop" and she started yelling something. Having a hunch, I ran to the "furnace room" and found one joint had unglued itself and hot water was spraying everywhere. I threw a towel over the pipe and reached past it to turn off the shutoff on the inlet...then had to take the bag out of my shop-vac and start vacuuming up water again, pulling up some of my mats again...I'm really getting tired of floods!

Anyway, when I tried to find my glue for the plastic pipe it was missing, so I ended up making another trip to Lowe's to buy new. Where there used to be only one, there are 3 kinds of it now, so after reading the labels to figure out what I needed I didn't read all the cautionary the one that said "for hot water use allow two hours dry time"...

The last time I tried to get hot water to the washing machine I twisted off the stem of one of the valves Dad had put in 49 years ago when he moved the washer down into his newly finished basement. Yesterday I shut things down again and replaced both inlet valves, as well as cleaning the screens in the machine itself. I also tried to change a "hydrant" on the other side of the basement that had a drip that didnt' want to stop; even though I had bought my valve in advance, it turned out that I needed one more piece to attach it; I've been in Lowe's almost every day this week...

Now, as I finish my morning coffee, I'm going out to clean out the gutters as they are full of fall leaves and it's supposed to rain for the next 3 days.

I have "jury duty" starting tomorrow, so not knowing how that's going to go, I may not be around much for the rest of the week.

I'm truly hoping I don't run into a bunch of these people while I "do my duty"!

And yet when John Lewis says that the current tone of things reminds him of the days of George Wallace McCain's campaign demands apologies...

May the week be kind to each of you!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

The anniversaries don't get easier...

though I had always thought they would!

The memories are never far from the surface...the months of being sick while he fooled around with the family doctor that had delivered my sister, myself, and my Mom; the one who had never told a patient they had cancer (including my Grandma who had 3 colostomies and went through radiation each time before there wasn't anything left to reconnect) since the first one he told killed himself in his parking lot. Being told we'll try this test; a week later that it hadn't shown anything, so next week we'll try something else- this went on for over two months!

The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer when he finally went to someone else that only took a day; the news that in something that didn't have a high survival rate even then that this had gone on much too long; probably less than 6 months, no more than a year...

The man who had never taken a sick day from work in 35 years finally having to take a terminal leave; getting to take a few chemo treatments that left him so weak that the man who could pick up a hindquarter or foreleg of beef to butcher it was left at the mercy of strangers when he had a flat tire and a trucker stopped to help him.

The final 5 months spent in a hospital that began with him in ICU trying to get my pocketknife out of my pocket while I stood there alone with him; when I asked "why" he wrote on his little "Mickey Mouse" slate (because he was on a ventilator and couldn't speak) "End this bullshit!". My guilt at telling him I couldn't do that because my Mom would have filed charges on me.

Mom telling me it was all my fault he got the cancer because he was so stressed out worrying about me. Her telling everyone else in the family that he wouldn't give up and die because he knew how badly I'd fuck up my life if he wasn't around.

Dad telling me the last time he was off the ventilator that if there was anything in his garage I wanted I should probably go get it and take it home, because he wasn't sure what was going to happen after he died; then asking my wife and I to look after Mom when he was gone.

The doctors asking my sister and I to please talk to her and let them disconnect some of the pumps and things that were prolonging his agony; her telling us that we didn't have enough faith, that he was strong and he was going to get better.

Watching for 5 months as he went from 260 to 80 pounds...his veins so "shot" that the IV pumps would balloon his arm and leg on one side 'til the moved them to the other. The cancer eating his spine until his arms moved uncontrollably and his legs not at all.

Watching his eyes change as his brothers told stories from when they were boys, about him and each other, when everyone knew he was in a coma and that he couldn't hear anything.

The final hours watching his heart slide down out of his chest because there was nothing left to hold it, until his aorta burst.

My mother trying to legally change the conditions of his will after he died and threatening to take me to court if I didn't go along...

Finding out when she wanted the carpet in their bedroom pulled up that while he was sick she had moved into my sister's old bedroom and that the purple place on the gold carpet that bothered her was where the chemo had made him throw up and "he hadn't cleaned it up"...

Sometimes it's so hard to remember the happy times...the good times...

Especially today!


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"Flyin' Home"

(Actually, since I'm the only one around who probably remembers, that was the name of an old Lionel Hampton classic...)

Dottie shot this out the back window of my truck Sunday evening as we turned east and headed for Hays, Kansas on our way home from moving my nephew and his girlfriend. I was rather shocked to find out while we were there that we were closer to Amarillo, Texas than Denver, Colorado! (My sister was reading the little "welcome to town" guide.)

The trip went well, despite a slow leak in one of the trailer tires (the guy who hooked it up checked them by banging on them with his fist; the front one had 70 pounds in it instead of 65, the rear was flat but sounded exactly the same). I have to be the only dummy in the world who checks things like that I guess, especially with a real gauge...

We took the trailer to Lawrence and drove to his girlfriend's to load her toolboxes (she is a mechanic as well as he), bed and TV, as well as his tools which were there because they had been working on some things there. Then I put it in my sister's driveway (last house on a dead-end street, one of those fun ones to back into) and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening loading it along with having my brother-in-law's birthday party.

His girlfriend's birthday was several weeks ago; his isn't until Christmas, but knowing how "tight" things were going to be for them (especially since his last boss fired him when he tried to give his notice two weeks ago) we made both of their birthdays and Christmas come early for them so they would have a bit of cash as they settled in after the move.

We took our car as well as our truck that afternoon so we could leave the trailer there overnight instead of dragging it back and forth. We got home in time to get a decent night's sleep before "the haul".

Up early the next morning, I laid out a nice breakfast for Dottie and I and we rolled out of home for Lawrence just before 7. We got there as they loaded the last few things in the trailer, my sister's van and my nephew's "little truck", stopped to air tires on the trailer and his pickup, then headed west.

We drove into the rain a couple of hours in, just as I had figured. Letting my nephew pick his route (as the crow flies) we ended up spending 4 hours on two-lane with no shoulder, most of it in the rain. Unloading took less than 30 minutes (the friends he went to school with and will be working with were there waiting) and an hour later we were headed north, because I wasn't taking the same route home in the rain. An hour on a U.S. highway that was wider with shoulders brought us back to the Interstate and we headed east at 70 instead of 60...the trip took the same amount of time as it was further, but the better road was worth it! (That two lane was so narrow there was no "wiggle room" before the trailer tires would have been off the road and I hate to think of the "flip" that would have ensued!)

We stopped in Lawrence on the way home and picked up Dottie's Malibu, and got home in time for her to get her normal night's sleep before work on Monday; all in all a very good run!

I got up yesterday and returned the trailer and took the tools and floorjack and such out of my truck (the just-in-case gear). As I settled in here to upload Dottie's sunset pictures and bloghop the phone rang. It was my daughter-in-law in Lawrence, the Buick that was her grandmother's that she's been driving was acting up and showing "low voltage" on the voltmeter in the display. I loaded the tools back up and made another run to Lawrence, changed the alternator and brought her "dead" battery home with me to charge. She has classes today and walks to campus, and I'll meet her when she gets home at 5:30 to put the battery back in and she'll be set for the rest of her week.

A lot of people think that the battery will just charge back up after an event like that, when you run off it instead of the alternator; and it will if you drive 5 or 6 hours without shutting it off, running the fans, lights and other accessories. Most people don't drive long enough to recharge it before they shut it off and "crank" it, drawing back out whatever they've managed to "put back in". Then you get a cold morning, or run the defroster or the A/C and wonder why you are having to find a jump start.

That battery drew for two hours on the "fast" side of my shop charger, and for two more on the "slow" side last night. I went out earlier and restarted it just to make sure it is fully charged when I return it...

So that's my life in a nutshell these past few days. I hope it's been kind to each of you in my absence!

May the week be kind as well!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ebb tide...

After Ike's remnants visited I had been up on the roof every 4th day trying to clear my sewer line. Each time it decided to act up it was Dottie's day off, twice it was just after dark so I was up on the roof and it was midnight by the time things were over.

I had already made up my mind that I was going to dig it up over the weekend and call the plumber on Monday to come put in a clean-out "T" and cap in my front yard. Last Thursday night accelerated that...a lot!

Before I even tried to clear the line last Thursday night I called and asked for "1st call" on Friday; they said I'd have someone here by 8:30. I got up at 7, and was digging by 7:30.

(I had promised myself no photos of me were going up here before I was back down to the "low 2's" but life seems to be thwarting my best efforts at working that down...I hope you forgive me!)

The plumber showed up about 8:20, just as I got to the very top of that clay pipe you see between my feet in the photo. Having had to cut tree roots up to the size of my wrist had slowed down the progress I thought I would make.

He assumed that it was a 4" line (normal residential size) and went to get the supplies to put a "T" in while I kept digging. I started digging down the sides of it, and he came back and took a turn on the shovel because I was pretty well frazzled by that time.

It became apparent that, since this neighborhood was built as Red Cross replacement housing after a flood in 1951, they had used whatever they had, and that apparently they had 6" clay pipe and weren't afraid to use it.

I finished digging under the clay pipe while he went back to trade the 4" stuff for 6". When he returned, he cut the clay; it had such a solid core of tree roots in it that he had to use a "sawzall" to cut them and lift the piece out. There were roots on both sides of the piece he cut out of the line as well...

The plumber's comment was that he "wished those were a pair of fish"...

The shorter of those two is 32" long, 6" in diameter and very dense; picking it up to bag it for disposal, it was like a very dense sponge and weighed around 50 pounds. The other piece was about the same.

The line towards the house he cleared with a small auger, then a medium to clear the line into the house, then he ran a 6" one to the end of the house line. He turned the other way, and after pulling a foot or so of roots out of the line towards the street, it was clear! Meaning that the tree roots weren't from the huge tulip tree in my front yard, but my neighbors elm trees!

So, $1200 later, the on and off again problems of the last 20 years are dealt with, hopefully for much longer than I plan to be here!

Having taken care of that, backfilled the cleanout and packed the earth back down around it, and bought grass seed to fix my lawn there; the rest of my week now gets sucked aloft "in the whirl" again.

My older nephew is taking a job in western Kansas, starting Monday and moving on Sunday to get there. His Dad's birthday party was supposed to be on Saturday, so now it's going to be a combination of birthday and going away. I had volunteered my truck (the only full size in the family) for moving things, and they've put rain in the forecast, so to keep his tools and their furniture dry, I reserved a covered trailer last night (6'x12') to load them into.

So today I mow, tomorrow I shop, and Friday I get my truck ready to go; Saturday I pick up the trailer and take it there to pack, along with dinner and the family party, and then on Sunday I get to drive 850 miles with unloading splitting the miles in half...

I hope you will forgive me if I'm not around much again until next week!

Thank you all for the kind words on my last several posts...I will fill in some blanks on the courtship/wedding one when I get back...

May the rest of the week be kind to each of you; may the weekend be wonderful as well!