That’s one duration – 4,756 days or 13 years and 1 week – how long its been since I quit smoking. For real.
Here’s another one: 21,440 or 58 years, 8 months and 12 days – how long I’ve been hanging around in this life time. Significant only in that it is also the same amount of time my dad had before he passed away. Massive heart attack that was really a complication of diabetes.
There’s another duration, length as yet unknown. That is how much longer I’m going to put up with a certain persons poor choices when it comes to drinking. I need to get my butt back to some Al Anon meetings. The ones I frequented before were all on the west side of our county. I live there, worked there, found meetings close to work & home. It helped.
Now, I still live in the western side of the county, but work has been re-located to the far eastern side. On a good day it’s a 30 minute commute, not the 5 – 10 minute jaunt I had become used to (or the 25 minute bike ride that was such good exercise!) The first meeting I ever found started at 5pm, took me 15 minutes to get to and was easy to pass off as “working late”. Now? Not so lucky.
Maybe I should just say the heck with it and go back to the group where I spent the most time. Meets at 8pm. I’ll just have to tell that certain person I’m off to a meeting. That cold hard slap in the face might actually help her.
To publish or not to publish? Eh, she doesn’t even know this places exists. Publish.
Day 4258 (since I quit smoking 8/22/04)
What a trip. We live maybe 2 miles from the local airport. Getting there is never a problem. Checked in, got our boarding passes, checked our bags, did the security dealie and made it to our gate probably 15 minutes before boarding.
Got on our plane, it was one of the smaller regional jets. All 44 seats were booked. Pilot came on the PA, said something about a weight restriction and asked if we could get two people to de-board for a $400 bribe. One guy took them up on the offer Got $400 and a ticket to his final destination that actually had him getting there sooner than he would have had he stayed on. Sweet deal for him. Because only one person got off, it looked like the ground crew off loaded some fuel. Then we pushed away from the gate and sat there. And sat there, then we sat there some more. Total of 30 minutes. Rather scary as we had only a 50 minute layover and had no idea of what our gate arrangement was at O’Hare. Best guess for the delay? Waiting for an open gate at our destination (O’Hare) so we could fly straight in and not circle Illinois for a half hour because we were now operating on limited fuel. Oh joy!
Made Chicago. Came in at Gate B24. Had to get to Gate B2 (of course). And? Our next flight was actually scheduled to be boarding as we were pulling up to the gate. The people nearest us on the plane were all very cool and let us get out ahead of them. Get to the concourse, get oriented and head off. It was about 863 miles from B24 to B2 and that terminal had none of those handy slidewalks. At a hair over 6 feet, I can move out when needed, but at a whopping 5’1”, the spousal unit hates it when I put it in gear. So we walked at her best speed which is a leisurely stroll for me. Didn’t dare even hit a restroom on the way because of the already boarding issue I mentioned.
Got to gate B2 in outer Mongolia just as the tail end of our boarding group was headed up the jetway. Non stop flying!! The rest of the trip to New Orleans? Boring and uneventful. The best kind of travel.
Wednesday evening we hit all our usual haunts – Pat O’Brien’s, The Bayou Club, strolled down to the far end of Bourbon St to get dinner. Such a relief to have made it in one piece.
Thursday morning we caught the 2nd Line parade that marked the start of the French Quarter Festival. Here’s a few requisite pics of the parade happenings:
After the parade, we scooted down the side streets (helps to be familiar with the Quarter) and hit Jackson Square where the Preservation Hall Band was going to get the music part of the festival going. If you’ve never seen these guys and they come to your city – go see them. They play all the old jazz/Dixieland standards and the sousaphone player alone is worth the price of admission.
Most of the bands/music we wanted to hear were scheduled for 3 of the larger stages – 2 right on the river and the 3rd at the split of Decatur & North Peter St, right in front of the statues of Bienville and Iberville (Early settlers/founders of New Orleans) One stage was right next to where the riverboat Natchez docks. Here you can see the Natchez through the stage behind a band named “Bag of Donuts”. (Odd name, odder band, but if you were to have a party with 500 – 600 of your best friends and needed a band to play that evening, you’d want these guys. They play EVERYTHING and do it well.)
Here’s another shot, same stage, different day. The Natchez is returning from it’s lunch cruise and is offering a nice backdrop for Kim Carson. If you like the older Loretta Lynn style country music, she’s right up your alley. Doesn’t do a thing for me (in spite of her cuteness), but the spousal unit likes that stuff, so I took a bullet on that one.
That was pretty much the routine for Thursday and Friday. Hop from one stage to the next, check out some stuff we never heard, catch other stuff we knew we liked. Never, ever caught a bad act. Probably saw a dozen groups the first two days. On the weekend there were 27 stages going all through the Quarter and a total of 255 groups performing. The spousal unit counted. Usually I’m the weird one doing that, but there was time to kill during a band changeover I guess. . . .
Oh! Can’t forget this. Every time we are in New Orleans, Doreen H. sets up her little band on Royal St. right in front of Rouses Market. This year was no different. Awesome clarinet player, she’s actually a professor of music at one of the universities in New Orleans. She just plays on the street to help sell her albums and make a bit of grocery money. Yeah – we have a couple of her albums.
So anyhow. Doreen’s making her clarinet sing and a couple of unicorns come strolling down Royal, cutting between Doreen and the small crowd we’re in on the sidewalk across the street. To say I was shocked at the couple would be an understatement. I was shocked enough that I didn’t get my phone out in time to record this couple walking down the street. But, remember I said I could move out when I needed to? This was one of those times. I got lucky, the unicorns stopped for a photo op and I got a shot of this as they were getting going again.
Yeah. She’s wearing a unicorn horn, weird fuzzy boots, a diaper, pasties and a whole lotta blue body paint. I also noticed as I walked up behind them that the diaper was barely hanging on, and they did a VERY thorough job with the body paint. 1pm, walking down Royal St. Whoda thunk it?
Of course later that day I missed a completely naked girl walking down Bourbon St during the early evening. Oh well. Naked women I’ve seen, but blue unicorns? That’s different.
Saturday morning, everything changed. 7am CDT my phone rings. One of my brothers is calling. Never good. I answer the phone, asking what’s up? My brother, never one to mince words just blurts out, “Mom’s in the ICU in Columbus”
Mom is 77 and just started a trip with her sisters. They were headed for Tennessee to see one of my other brothers and were stopping in a bunch of spots along the way to see cousins, various points of interest, etc. Didn’t have a lot of details at that point, but since I am Mom’s POA and Health Care Proxy, I had shit to do.
I talked to my aunt who was in Columbus with mom. Friday morning she had a scratchy throat, hurt to swallow. They found an urgent care clinic, the people there did an exam – throat swab, peeking down the throat, etc. Rapid strep test comes up negative, diagnosis is post nasal drip and mom leaves urgent care with a prescription for Nasacort or some such juice. They tour the Columbus Zoo. A bust – it’s cold enough all the animals stay inside. Late that night, mom woke her sisters, said she couldn’t even swallow water and was having a lot of trouble breathing.
Soooooo, they get her to the ER at Mount Carmel West in Columbus. ER doc takes a look and pretty much knocks mom out and gets her intubated. This is like 3am Columbus time. They get an airway established, start pumping oxygen. Based on what he saw while trying to get the tube in place, the ER doc figures mom has epiglottitis – inflammation of the epiglottis – that little flappy thing that steers air to the lungs and food to the belly.
That got them to the point where they started calling. Mom being a Jehovah (that’s a whole ‘nother set of entries – some already made, check for categories on religion) so her DNR is rather specific – and in my fire safe.
Our trip was done through Travelocity. Easy, painless, hides bunches of details that until then, I didn’t give a shit about. Air travel was through United. Called them about re-arranging our return tickets. Saturday morning I’m on the phone with them (after the worlds’ worst biscuits and gravy breakfast) trying to change my Monday return flight to something Saturday afternoon. Cindy (the spousal unit) would fly home, I’d go to Columbus. After being on hold with the brains of United’s customer care center in Calcutta three times., the best they could do was to get the two of us home to Rochester late Sunday to the tune of $1800 dollars above and beyond what we’d already paid. Honestly, the trip didn’t cost much more than that to begin with.
Luckily, I explored a bit while choking down that nasty biscuits & gravy. Checked stuff out on my phone and knew what I would pay at Southwest to do exactly what I wanted. Ended up at the hotel courtesy computers making reservations with Southwest to get Cindy home and me in Columbus by 11pm that night for $1000 less than United wanted. Made the reservations, asked the front desk to get us a cab (foregoing the return trip we already had set up for Monday) and went upstairs and packed. We had 2 hours to make the first flight.
Long story slightly shorter (I do NOT want to know how fast the cab driver was driving to the airport, but he got a really nice tip for his efforts) (I think he was driving almost as fast as I do – I just prefer to be holding the wheel when I’m going that fast) lets just say Cindy got home and I made it to Columbus. My brother D was there to pick me up. They got me the last room available at the hotel where they were staying (damn their good taste!) and we crashed for the night.
Got to the hospital Sunday morning. Mom was awake, somewhat alert, and already shaking her finger at us like we weren’t supposed to be there. Too bad. My aunts said she looked much better than she did Saturday morning. Made me wonder just how bad that was. By the end of the day she was able to communicate by writing. At one point they actually cut off the fentanyl because she had trouble with her veins blowing. Apparently Fentanyl can cause trouble with that. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because with the fentanyl clearing out her mind cleared up too. Through the day her communication got better and better. Getting off the fentanyl also turned out to be a blessing in regards to extubation – but more on that later.
Got to talk to doctors, found out what the plan of action was, what was done Saturday morning, and cleared up mom’s rather specific DNR needs with regards to the Jehovahs Witness crap and her own desires to avoid that ugly permanent vegetative state.
Monday was the big day. There were tests to do to determine whether or not the breathing tube could be removed. Mom passed every one with flying colors. Getting off the fentanyl early helped with all of that. Apparently mom tolerated the tube – oh, I don’t even want to go there. But it got her off the fentanyl. By Monday afternoon the tube was out and mom could talk. Sort of. She sounded like Donald Duck. Apparently the end of the air tube actually projects through the vocal cords (how long IS that thing? And do you understand my reluctance to go there?)
Tuesday mom busted out of ICU and got a room in the general population. We were also trying to do a changing of the guard. We tried for 3 days to get our aunts to go home, but they refused to budge. Tuesday morning, I put on the last of my clean clothes and I was out of my daily prescriptions (I packed 1 day extra in case we could take a bump on the way home – never planned for this!) Our youngest brother (K) was headed to Columbus from home. We had asked him to hold off – we knew there was no immediate danger of mom jumping ship and there wasn’t much he was going to add. But by Monday night D and I knew we couldn’t stay longer. Mom was safe-ish and we all had to get back to our real lives. So K arrived Tuesday early afternoon. We had lunch at a place called Katalina’s. Ex gas station, funky little place, but they had THE BEST tacos. Really good lunch and it was near the place where we got mom a wheelie walker with a seat. Win win. Good food & ran an errand.
D, his wife and I finally got home Tuesday night. Mom was discharged late Wednesday. The gang stayed that night in Columbus. They hit the road late Thursday morning and arrived home Thursday just before dinner.
In the end, mom is ok and can now really start to rehab. Her throat malady is cleared up and the teeny bit of aspiration pneumonia she acquired is all but gone. She’s seen her doctor here in town and he’s all up to date on her little excursion and is following up. The scariest part of this whole mess is that had mom been at home, alone Friday night when things started to go sideways she probably wouldn’t have survived. As it was, the ER doctor said she may have been within 30 minutes of not making it as it was.
Mom has asked how many days of vacation we lost. That I told her. It was only 2 days. She hasn’t asked what we paid to make our changes. Wouldn’t matter, I won’t tell her anyhow. Bottom line was she was sick, needed us and we were able to do what was necessary.
The side bonus was that for what may be the first time since Dad died (1993) we 4 brothers were all in the same room at the same time. (I didn’t mention J – the resident Jehovah’s witness and only brother who lives outside our home county. He just chose Tennessee instead of upstate NY) I have to get hold of his wife (also a Cindy) and get a copy of the pictures she took. Haven’t seen them on Facebook yet, but I know she has them.
Best part of it all? Our trip to the French Quarter Festival got so fucked up, we’re going to do it again. Just don’t tell my mom.
Saw this on the way home last night.
Never heard of this particular brand, but talk about liquid courage! Drink this stuff and grow some real balls! Yeaaahhhh – no thanks. I will happily stick with my occasional craft (or home brew) beer and call it an evening.
Gorgeous weather here in the tundra today – I’m really near the Lake Ontario coast here at work and it’s all of 64. Further south in the big city it’s more like 69. Officially the warmest day of the year. But guess what? Friday is supposed to peak in the upper 50’s then turn colder with showers changing to snow and accumulating 1 – 3 inches by Saturday morning. Guess what I have scheduled for Saturday at noon? Supposed to go trade in our camper for one we picked up at the RV show a few weeks ago.
Still worried about whether or not the pile of snow in the church parking lot that abuts my back yard (and is the only access I have to my back yard with a camper) will melt enough to allow me to get the trailer out. Last I looked it was still a 1 foot deep, 4 foot wide band of ice. Thought I could get the snow blower out there and clear enough of a path to make it. But now, if we DO get 3″ Friday night, there will be fresh snow back there. Think I’ll just go yank it out Friday night and park in the driveway. The spousal unit will think I’m nuts, but I have a nasty case of spring fever and I need to be doing this.
In other fun stuff – we are taking two camping trips this year where we’ll be “boondocking” – camping with no water or electric hook ups. Now tent camping, this is no biggie. We did it for years while the kids were growing up. But now, with a camper? We are officially spoiled. The new camper can store 60 gallons of fresh water, 67 gallons of gray water waste and another 28 gallons of black water (toilet offerings). I can run off the camper battery for a while. Lights are no problem, even running the water pump for short bursts isn’t bad. But then you add in maybe using the stereo system, outside lights at night, it could drain the battery faster than one would think. The solution? I used up my American Express reward dollars and got an 85W solar panel and a charge controller. They’re sitting in my garage right now, waiting for something to do. Honestly, they are fueling some of my spring fever.
In perfect conditions, that panel would allow me to fully charge the battery I have on our current camper in about 8 – 10 hours, if we were to really drain it. If we’re even a teeny bit conservative, we’ll have no problem at all. I don’t know what kind of battery is in the new to us camper. I’d hope it’s larger, but won’t know till Saturday.
Being the geek engineer I am, you can bet I’ll spend a few weekends running various lights & systems so I can get a gauge on just how much power will be needed when going off grid. Our first boondock trip is a 3 day jaunt over Memorial Day, the traditional camping season kick off weekend. We’ll be not too far away, will definitely be getting in some winery tours, biking and relaxation. It’ll also give me a good opportunity to check out the new charging system. So yeah, I have spring fever in spades.
Last night of bowling for this season is tonight. Didn’t make it to that mythical 196 average I was trying for, but the team has really climbed in the standings the last 4 – 6 weeks. We are mathematically eliminated from first place, but we ought to improve on last seasons 11th out of 26 finish. Then – the quest for the single digit handicap in golf begins!
Must be winter doldrums setting in. Just getting the urge to get out and do something. So last week we went and caught a performance of: Little Shop of Horrors
Which was preceded by a visit to the same theater to catch this years version of “A Christmas Carol” in mid-December. On the spousal units birthday. (Admittedly, only 2 days after my own, so no biggie there)
Then – I heard an ad on the radio yesterday (25 minute drive in to work turned into 45 minutes with all the people afraid of snow flakes around here – which is pathetic for a city in the snow belt) that the Preservation Hall Jazz Band was playing at another local auditorium (Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theater – guess were I’m from!) with the local philharmonic orchestra.
Got hold of the spousal unit for confirmation and scored us some 3rd row center balcony seats – on the aisle for 8pm Saturdy night. Valentines Day no less. Sure glad I didn’t opt for the chocolate tasting/hockey game the night before.
Considering our penchant for visiting New Orleans (4 trips!!), it’s odd that we’ve yet to visit Preservation Hall. I mean, it’s on the same street as one of the entrances to Pat O’Briens, and we’re n there 3 – 4 times each time we visit. Maybe they felt sad about that and are coming to visit us instead? Ya, suuurrre.
At any rate, it’s good to get the opportunity to go see the band.
Had another opportunity to get some culture a couple of weeks ago too. The band Rush is playing here this summer. The spousal unit and I have been a fan of theirs for years (too many to admit). The last time we saw them live was 1980-ish – so we were kinda due. Only problem? Concert was on a school night at an outdoor venue about an hours drive from home. What was even worse? It was on a Wednesday night. That’s golf night. So? I somehow missed the opportunity to get tickets. I’ll feel better if we have a rainy night at golf – then the concert would have been miserable. With up to 12,500 people there and only 3,000 or so seats under a roof, it could really suck in the rain. A rainy night golfing is better than a rainy night at an outdoor concert.
Anyhow, I’m assuaging my guilt with the Preservation Hall show. On Valentines Day. Breaking our decades long agreement to not do anything special for that fake, made-up holiday. Maybe I can leverage this into some Karma points for a little lee-way in the future – like an extra golf outing. Wait – does Karma work if you have to connive your way into it? Hmmmm . . .
I’ll be blunt.
Holy shit! It’s been like forever.
A couple of posts ago (about 9 months) I mentioned that it was time for me to get back on the FitDay train.
Well, I did. It can be tedious, recording every morsel one consumes in a day. But it helps me to be accountable to myself on just what I AM eating in a day. Those calories are insidious little things. They sneak up out of no where and latch on to the inside of your belt, making everything seem tighter. So far so good though. Down 4 lbs in 4 weeks. If I could ratchet up the exercise I could trim another 1/2 lb a week, but job demands just suck the life out of the week.
Wasn’t bad before, I worked right across the street from my YMCA. I could hang at work till 5:30 then wander over and take in a spin class. But we’ve moved. My little 4 mile, 10 minute commute (12 in a blizzard) has transformed into a 30 minute, 23 mile trudge across the county to our ‘new to us’ facility. Best EMC chamber on the east coast, but the product safety lab is definitely still a work in progress. Probably will be forever, given the warehouse like condition of the area we have to work with. So, the YMCA membership is cancelled. I stay up too late working on things to get up early enough to hit the morning work out routines, get out of work too late to hit the evening ones. Slowly breaking myself in to using a tread climber at home, but that’s a habit I am finding hard to instill. I shall persist.
Spring time (in about 23 months!) wI’ll break out the bikes and start having some fun workouts.
In real news, we’ve added 2 grand kids to the mix. Firstest grandson Logan was born September 5th, the second (and last) kiddo for Zach & JIll. Then their cousin Cecily Ann was born Sept 9th. Everybody is doing fine and the kids are growing like weeds. The requisite pics:
What else has changed since I was last here? We got a camper, little teeny Starcraft that theoretically can sleep 4, but you have to be VERY good friends. Already thinking about trading up one size to one with a better floor plan. We’ll see.
Traded in my mini SUV to get a truck that can tow the trailer too. Know what happens when your used to a 170 horsepower mini suv and you step up to a 300 horsepower truck? You get tickets to the policemens ball, that’s what. Got my first ticket TWO DAYS after I picked up the truck. 60 in a 40 on the expressway passing through downtown. I kinda stepped on the gas to pass a slowpoke and went from 40 to 60 before I knew what hit me. Of course, I popped up over a little rise just as I settled into the left lane and you can guess what I saw hanging out in a wide spot in the breakdown lane. One of NY States finest. All hot to trot to give me a ticket. Oddly enough, that one is still pending. The trooper couldn’t make the first court date due to some other trial he had to testify in, so my new court date has been moved to March 18, 8 months after the ticket was issued. I’m going to read up on the 6th amendment and see what’s considered a “speedy trial”.
About 6 weeks later I got another one (52 in a 35) taking a short cut to bowling. That was a local cop, I live in his town, he wrote me up fora 2 point failure to obey a traffic device, rather than the 4 point speeding ticket I’d earned. I just plead guilty one that one and paid it. Oddly enough, I wasn’t late for bowling after that either. But I did find a new short cut.
Some of you know I’m up here in the snow belt. while areas south of Buffalo were getting buried under up to 7 feet of snow, we missed the worst of it and soldiered on through about 18 inches total. No – we did not miss any work days, and only schools in the worst hit areas had snow days. We were fortunate in the timing of the snow. The drive home was a cast iron bitch, but the worst was over by morning and our stellar road crews did their usual bang up job of getting the roads ready. Y’all want some good plow crews, pay taxes like we do. It would boggle your minds what some of the larger towns in the area pay for snow removal. (6 figures for sure, 7 in the larger towns) We’ve paid for the right to laugh at southern cities that shut down for 2 inches of snow. Heck, our trucks might not even go out for that little bit. The residual salt takes care of most of that.
Aaaaaanyhow. Better go file some reports before my clients take their pound of flesh out of my tender southern bits.
Had a very nice Easter weekend. Might even remember this formula: Have “Easter Dinner” the Saturday before. Odds are better the whole fandamily will make it. We booked it to Syracuse to hang with Eric & Kelly, Zach and Jill made the trip and Kelly’s whole family was treated to a day of fun with Little Avery. I guarantee she had more energy than any 3 of the adults combined.
Having Dinner on Saturday freed up Sunday for: wait for it . . .
Eric and I got out for a round with his father-in-law and uncle-in-law. It was a gorgeous day for mid-April by upstate New York standards. Early partly sunny conditions and 50ish degrees just before tee time improved to mid 60’s and sunny by the time we finished. We played a rather challenging course (high slope rating – 128) and I managed to shoot a score consistent with my handicap on a slightly less challenging course I know very well. It was the new driver, I swear.
In baby news, we have updates as well. Zach and Jill have confirmed that their new young one will be a boy. That gives them the worlds cutest little girl, Avery, and his soon to be new brother. They appear to be ready to shut down the baby making machine after this one since they’ll have a “complete set”.
Eric & Kelly were in for her ultrasound today and also found out the gender of their new one. They both thought for some reason they were having a boy. Guess what? Not gonna happen this time. They will also be having a little girl for their first child. Only question for is will she be a blond or a red head? Blue eyes are guaranteed what with Eric being a blue eyed blond and Kelly being a blue eyed red-head.
Looking forward to September. Baby boy due in the early part of the month, baby girl coming sometime mid-month. Or whenever they are ready – we all know how THAT goes.
So. When did I last write? Was it around the “Blizzard of 2014” time? I put that in quotes because, really, to excite anyone around here ya gotta deliver more than a measly 14 or 15 inches of snow.
Then there was the little surprise we had this past weekend. Something like a combined 12 inches of grauple/sleet/freezing rain/mostly snow. That stuff was extremely heavy. So glad I got a snow blower after the boys went to college! But since Sunday we’ve had a couple days in the 50’s so all that stuff is almost gone now.
Bowling season ended last week. Missed my target average by a whopping 14 pins. I needed 14820 pins over 78 games to hit that magical 190 average. Ended up with 14806 and a 189.82 average. So NEXT year we’re aiming for a 195 average.
In baby news, that little Avery is still the cutest thing on the planet and has more energy than 3 Energizer Bunnies. She never walks anywhere. Hop, skip, run, bounce, but no walk. Incredible. And her parents (Z & J) decided to find out the gender of their #2, due Sept. 3. Looks like Avery is going to be a big sister to a little brother! The important bit was that yesterdays ultrasound showed that everything was progressing just fine – head looks good, spine is in good shape, fingers are flexing – all good stuff. The fact that it’s a boy is gravy – we all would have been thrilled either way.
In a couple of weeks E & K have their next ultrasound (well, mostly K. E will be there for morale support) and they too will be learning gender. Their due date is 9/13 – like the baby cares! But September promises to be pretty thrilling.
Then, last night I learned that my nephew & his wife down in Tennessee, who originally declared they weren’t having kids because this was a horrible world to bring children into, had a little announcement of their own. Apparently they’ve had a change of heart about the whole bringing a baby into this world bit. Turns out they are having twins and are due just after the bunch up here.
So here’s my poor mom, who right now has 1 great grand child. By the end of the year she’ll have 5! Somehow that makes me going from 1 grandchild to 3 sound not quite so bad. And? I’ve been telling my nieces & nephews (all 6 of them) that I am a great uncle. You know, great, as in a jolly good fellow kind of uncle. Now? I WILL be a Great Uncle. Thanks to Z & J, my brothers already enjoy that status. About time the older one gets to join in, eh?
I gotta run. There are 5 other kids in my son’s generation that are technically capable of having kids. Granted only one of them is married, but at the current pace, one never knows who’s going to get knocked up next!