While we were there…

Posted: May 30, 2015 in Travel

Ahhh, Denver.

It’s been a great trip. Sure, there’s been weather and uneven temperatures, and even ice on the roads, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve seen some places and things that I never would’ve thought to see, and got to visit with some very good friends.

Did I mention I didn’t even have to go to work?

I told you about our fun times in getting here. Sunday was a little better. As Supportive Partner Woman (Lover of malts and hops!) was tuck conventioning, I headed first to the Wings Over the Rockies Air Museum. Housing a small, but diverse collection military and civilian aircraft (most notably, one of one four B-1A bomber prototypes ever built), the Wings Museum is located on the grounds of the former Lowry Air Force Base. Also among their collection is a 3/4-scale Incom T-65 straighter, best known as the X-Wing from the Star Wars movies. This unit was left on loan by Lucasfilm and funds were made available to keep it maintained and on exhibit in the hangar.

1/2 Growler of Oatmeal Milk Stout from Finkel & Garf

1/2 Growler of Oatmeal Milk Stout from Finkel & Garf

After an enjoyable visit, I got on the road for Boulder, to visit a certain craft brewery with a unique name. Finkel & Garf Craft Beer is a small taproom/microbrew located on the outskirts of Boulder. The weather again featured hail, which did not make things much fun, but there was a few seconds where I actually saw mountains. I should note that while Denver is called the Mile High City, it’s not really in the mountains. It’s east of what is known as the Front Range, and could be considered to be part of the Great Plains. That’s beside the point, though.

If you get to Boulder, stop by and sample some of Finkel & Garf’s brews. They have an oatmeal milk stout that is so smooth, it’s hard to believe. I managed to score a 1/2 growler for SPW (Did I mention she was conventioning?) and took in the taproom. Not much on the menu, basically packaged snacks from all over the country, but the have building blocks and toys at every table, not to mention Nok Hockey, table shuffleboard, and other games to play while you’re quaffing your brew.

I should also mention that I made a brief provisioning stop at a local supermarket. One big change I noticed was that there wasn’t a snack aisle like we have in Pennsylvania. There was nowhere near the myriad of chips, pretzels, etc. that you can find in any market at home. Your choices are basically Frito-Lay or Frito-Lay.

I noticed on my way back to Denver a place called Smashburger. I had heard of it, but had never tried, so when SPW was done with her meetings, we hopped back in the car and headed for noms. Now, we are used to Fuddruckers and Five Guys, but this was a pretty tasty burger. Also ordered smash fries, which were coated in olive oil and rosemary. They wound up tasting a lot like the popcorn at Troegs. Made us feel like we were home. I would highly recommend. Not necessarily the best nutrition out there, but it was yummy.

Looking toward the Batter's Eye from behind home plate at Coors Field

Looking toward the Batter’s Eye from behind home plate at Coors Field

Monday started with me heading back to Coors Field for a stadium tour. I got there a little early (and if you’re in the area, street parking is free on Sundays and holidays), got myself checked in and wandered around taking pictures. The tour started pretty promptly and our tour guides, Chuck and Jack, had a wealth of knowledge about the stadium that made it worth my while.

Probably the highlight was being on the warning track. Chuck specifically told us to stay off the field itself, but to stand behind the plate and look at the massive stadium really puts things in perspective. To know that there are 50,000 people with their eyes on you must be a great weight to carry, or you have an amazing amount of focus.

They actually HAVE these things

They actually HAVE these things

After the stadium tour, I intended on going to the zoo. Apparently, most of Denver had the same idea. I bailed and drove around for awhile. I came upon the Greatest Mall Ever. It had a Lego Store, an Apple Store, a Chick-fil-A, and a Tesla store. Plus, it wasn’t in Pennsylvania. It was like retail nirvana.

The real highlight of the trip was Tuesday. Supportive Partner Woman was done conventioning and we were able to see some sights together. We are lucky in that we had some awesome tour guides. Our dear friends Bryan and Melanie saw to our tour guide needs.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Our original plan was to take the cog railway to the summit of Pike’s Peak. There was about 10 feet of snow up there, so we opted for a drive through tour of the Garden of the Gods, which is amazing, and followed that up with a visit to the United States Air Force Academy.

United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel

United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel

It’s graduation week, so there will be a performance by the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team. We were fortunate enough to get to see a practice session from the Academy grounds. We also got to visit the Cadet Chapel, which is a stunning building. Sadly, only the Protestant non-denominational chapel was open. We were unable to see the Catholic or Jewish chapel.

After leaving the Academy, we got to see real, live buffalo and went to the Buffalo Bill grave and museum. It sits on top of a mountain overlooking Golden, Colorado, home of the Colorado School of Mines and the Coors Brewery. You also look at North and South Table Mesa (Table Table?). It’s actually pretty awesome to see, especially coming from the east, where our idea of a tall mountain is 3,000 feet. Today’s trivia fact? The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado.

So this brings me to today. I’m killing time in the Detroit Airport, which is actually nicer than Philadelphia. I have to tighten up the post and add the art, but suffice it to say it’s been a great trip. I honestly wasn’t ready to leave. I’m usually happy to go home, but this is one of the rare places where I felt perfectly at home. I looked at SPW and said, “I could live here.”

Who knows what will happen in the future, but Colorado is a great state with some friendly people and a rich heritage of quality beer (Coors being the exception).

I hear myself humming John Denver.  Is this a bad sign?

Greetings, good readers (if any of you are actually still out there)

I know I’ve really let the blog slide over the last year. Lack of focus, then the personal toll of losing my mom just really made me have no interest in a lot of things. Writing being one of them.

It’s been in my mind to start writing again, since I’ve backslid terribly in the past ten months. I’m not going to start being all rah-rah. That’s not my style. I do, however, want to discuss our latest travel adventure.

I write this from an eighth-floor hotel room in Denver, Colorado.

Yes, Colorado.

A state with no obvious Disney presence.

See? We do go places other than Orlando!

I write in the title that getting here was half the fun. Let me enlighten you.

We had booked this trip many months ago. Supportive Partner Woman (Sports Editor of Great Acumen!) is a member of AWSM, or The Association of Women in Sports Media. She noted that their annual convention was in Denver. I said, “OK. Let’s go. You can convention and I can see a game at Coors Field.” I found a decent airfare on Delta out of Harrisburg, PA, which is only 25 minutes from my house. I jumped on it. It was perfect… left around 10:00 AM, no getting up at the asscrack of dawn, etc.

Delta then changed the flights eight times. EIGHT FREAKIN’ TIMES!

Finally, we were leaving at 6:15 and getting into Denver around 10 AM MDT. I went on StubHub and scored club seats for the Rockies-Giants game at 2:15. Even got a great deal, although I’m pretty sure that since the Rockies don’t have a stellar record, that helped a lot.

We arrived at MDT (Harrisburg’s in-the-know airport code), got checked in, got boarded, they closed the door, the jetway pulled back and nothing. The pilot came on the intercom to inform us that there appeared to be some damage to the cabin door and they needed a mechanic to check it out. They then said it would be at least an hour before they could get a mechanic there to even look at it.I looked at SPW, said, “We only have an hour layover in Detroit… we’ll never make it.”

We deplaned and got in line to see our options. The gate agent was not very helpful. There was a guy in front of us in line trying to get to Spokane, and as he would try to explain what he wanted to do or ask questions, she would rudely cut him off.

After waiting patiently for around 10 minutes, I finally realized that the device in my pocket wasn’t just for looking at videos of cats, it could actually make phone calls. I dialed up Delta’s toll-free number, expecting to get “Too bad, so sad” from the person on the other end.

Instead, I got to talk to Kitty. I am not making that up.

Kitty, in a word, is awesome.

I explained the situation to her and she put me on hold as she looked to see what she could do. Her first option was a later flight on Delta, which I would have grudgingly accepted since it would have meant we would miss the game. I told her that it really wouldn’t work as I had tickets for the 2:15 game. She said, “Let me see what I can do,” put me on hold, and came back a few minutes later with the word that she had gotten us on to an American Airlines flight that would be getting into Denver around noon. She also would be refunding our seat and baggage fees.


We made it to the American gate about 10 minutes before boarding and we had managed to ask Delta to pull our checked bag and take it to the American gate. The agent at American, Don, was super helpful, got our bag on board (and didn’t charge the fee), got us seats together and we also got priority boarding. Plane left without incident and we got to O’Hare almost 30 minutes early.

That is a big damn airport.

We did the O’Hare death march and arrived at the new gate and got seats assigned. Toward the back of the bus, but c’est la vie. Got boarded, closed the door, jetway pulled back and pilot came on the intercom to tell us that there was an indicator light fault on the cabin door and they had to have someone look at it. Luckily that was fast, as O’Hare is a major American hub and mechanics abound. I was starting to feel cursed.

Two different cities, two different airlines, two different airplanes, issue with the same system. I’m suspecting sabotage by Disney because we weren’t going there. More on that later.

The flight gets to Denver International Airport, otherwise known as the headquarters for the New World Order (I am not making this up) without incident. Favorable winds, I guess, but we got there around 20 minutes early. Deplaned, got the luggage, which had miraculously accompanied us, and grabbed the rental car shuttle. It started to rain a little.

By the time we arrived at the Alamo lot, it had begun to rain rather heavily. We grabbed the first car in our row, which was a Nissan Altima, and headed to the exit gate. As we were being checked out, it started to rain in earnest. Along with some hail.

We hit the road for the hotel, and as we travelled the 25 miles to the city, well, the storm reached biblical proportions. Monsoon rain, thunder, lightning, hail, black clouds, water in the streets six inches deep… Ugh. Basically, it was like Noah, except I was in an ark built by the same company that gave us the Pulsar. I was not particularly confident.

Managed to make it to the hotel and get checked in. I might add that I was running on three hours sleep (I don’t sleep well on a plane) and SPW was working on whatever she managed to grab on the flights. I figure the game was a loss, but as we arrived at the room, the weather started to clear. SPW checked the Rockies Twitter feed and sure enough, they removed the tarp from the field. First pitch was scheduled for 4:25. Since the stadium is only 3/4 mile from the hotel, we opted to hoof it. It was windy and overcast, but dry.

Coors Field main entrance

Coors Field main entrance

Got to our seats, grabbed some grub along the way. A slice of Marco’s pizza did wonders, as our only food had been a Subway breakfast sandwich at Harrisburg. We sat down, the skies darkened, and the rain came. Again. This time, we had ponchos, and sat through it. Our patience was rewarded with what turned out to be a beautiful, albeit cold, afternoon. Thank God for fleece.

At any rate, I’ll be sure to update you all on the remainder of the trip.

Thanks for reading!

2014 in review

Posted: December 29, 2014 in Administration

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything. Been terribly busy with my mom’s estate, working, and a lot of other stuff.

This little encounter inspired me to post something, though.

Mom had Pennsylvania-American Water for her water company. At best, they were unreliable. She lived alone and didn’t use a lot of water, so she would get a monthly bill of $15. After she passed away, there was even less water being used… primarily if we were working on the house or flushing toilets or washing hands. That was it.

They sent out a letter saying that there must be a problem with the meter and they wanted to replace it. I called and told them that mom had passed and they expressed their condolences and said they would change the billing name to reflect the estate status. There was no charges mentioned to do that and again the person expressed her condolences.

I thought we were good.

The latest bill came and those bastards charged $30 to change the account information.

$30 to type “Estate of” in front of a name.

I called them tonight and it was not good from the get-go. First of all, they were all “That’s the policy when we change a bill.”

I asked to speak to a supervisor and he was, of course, out to lunch. I left word for Don to call me back to discuss this and, of course, he hasn’t. These guys make Comcast look like pros in the service department.

Seriously, folks, if you are looking to buy a home and you find that Pennsylvania-American Water is the local water utility, well, look for another house. They really are that bad.

Had a follow up with my surgeon on Tuesday. He took the first post-op x-rays and pronounced everything in order. I see him in two weeks and he said, “Bring a regular shoe with you.”


I might be in a legit regular shoe in two weeks?

Feels like Christmas has come early.

It gets better, though. As I changed the bandages yesterday, I realized that fir the first time in nine months, I felt no blister or no ulcerations of any kind. I can’t look at it too well as I don’t want to put any torque on the toe that might cause problems with the healing of the bone, but damn it felt good. I ever noticed that my mood was greatly improved, just with that little news. I might even be able to do the Troeg’s 5K, albeit while walking. I don’t want to risk reinjuring the toe in any way, shape or form.

Wayne's x-ray... note the two "Plaples"

Wayne’s x-ray… note the two “Plaples”

The x-rays look kind of cool. You can clearly see the plaples (combination of plate and staple) that are holding the tip of my toe onto the rest of my foot. The surgeon told me he went that route because he didn’t want an issue with a screw that might work its way out of the bone. I am appreciative, that’s for sure.

Note the "Shoe of Embarrassment" in the background

Note the “Shoe of Embarrassment” in the background

It was a combo appointment, though, as Supportive Partner Woman (badly sunburned!) had a small procedure done to her foot to drain a ganglion cyst that was causing her problems. SPW’s compression bandage should be off today. She says it feels a little better, which I take as a good sign. Or, she could be not minding it due to the sunburn. I guess having the cyst done the way she did beats the old school way, which was to slam it with a heavy book. Ouch.

Other than that, things are moving along.

We also did the local flea market on Labor Day. It was crazy humid and the turnout wasn’t quite as good as we hoped (it was too freakin’ hot), but we managed to unload stuff and didn’t come home with anything extra. That’s a good sign. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there are some incredibly cheap bastards out there. I understand wanting to get the best deal that you can, but don’t expect me to give it away. Case in point, a woman wandered up to our tables, picked up a barely used (literally, less than five times) T-fal griddle pan. She asks how much it is, we tell her $3. Rather than attempt to haggle, she slams the pan down on the table and storms off. I would’ve taken $2 for it, but I guess she wanted it for free.

It’s good to want, chump.

At any rate, there’s always going to be idiots. It’s not against the law.


The foot right after surgery

The foot right after surgery

And no, I’m not referencing that annoying BareNaked Ladies song. It’s been one week since Wayne went under the knife.

Now, Wayne has been a problem child since January’s 5K. He had the blister that would not heal. The blister wasn’t even totally healed in time for surgery, but once the pressure was taken off, he’s all but closed up… five days later.

What Dr. Barbacci did was to open an L-shaped incision over the front toe knuckle. He took the ends off the joint, removed the cartilage and used two staples/plates to fuse the joint together. He also added a little twist, given my gait that will hopefully combat any blistering.

Much smaller

Much smaller

The sad thing is that I’m in a different Boot of Shame for at least four weeks, perhaps as much as 6 weeks. This is necessary so the bone can knit properly. The effect of titanium on airport metal detectors is unknown to me… a question for the next appointment. Speaking of which, that’s next Tuesday and they take the stitches out. I had the bandage changed on Tuesday… after a few days, it was all bunched up and, as Dr. Barbacci noted, “It looks like a loaf of bread.” The current bandage is much smaller and sleeker looking.

The worst part has been that I feel the staples in my bones. Maybe that’s just my head talking, but the nice thing is feeling something in my toes.

The one thing that was missing was that I felt I should call my mom and let her know that the procedure went well. See, that was pretty much a standard. She always wanted the doctor’s report. Somehow, she knows, though.

I was pretty much awake for the surgery. They gave me a “twilight” cocktail (and no, I didn’t have to watch those shitty movies starring Shovelface and Mouth Breather) so I had a vague sense of awareness. I do recall Dr. Barbacci coming into the operating room and saying, “Do we have that vasectomy kit ready?” I thought he switched specialties.

At any rate, one more thing to share. You can tell it’s summer when the nastygrams start arriving from Wanda, evil bitch queen of the HOA. This time, Wanda got her panties in a bunch about a tree along the road (that we didn’t even plant) having branches hanging within eight feet of the ground. Now, I was under the impression that those trees were their responsibility, since I remember an “arborist” waking me up to move my car because they had to trim branches. Regardless, I’m in no shape to trim trees at this juncture, however, our totally awesome neighbor trimmed it for me. Huge shout out to Kirk for general awesomeness. I still loathe Wanda, though. I’m pretty sure she’s paying kickbacks to the HOA president. Otherwise she’d be out.

At any rate, I’ll try and keep you all posted as to the progress with Wayne. I was going to take a picture, maybe I will on Tuesday before the stitches come out.

Song of the Day: Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack – Various Artists

Currently reading: The 6th Extinction – James Rollins

Mixed feelings

Posted: July 15, 2014 in family, grief, regrets

We go on… To the joy and through the tears – We Go On – Kellie Coffey

In a little over four hours, we will lay mom’s remains to rest. She will be buried with my father, closing the final chapter of the life of an extraordinary woman.

Still sucks for those of us left behind.

I was able to wake up and be fully functional on Saturday morning. This morning, I woke up in tears, just feeling I had to write a little bit… maybe getting it on screen will help with my control later. Not like anyone is going to blame me if I am a blubbering mess.

Mom and I on the morning of my wedding

Mom and I on the morning of my wedding

So, Saturday was a huge turnout. I was so amazed to see so many of my mother’s friends, some of whom drove great distances to pay their respects. It was also amazed at some of my friends who came out… one friend I haven’t seen since my high school graduation 25 years ago. I even managed to make it all the way through Mom’s eulogy (with only minor breakdowns).

It was a fitting sendoff to a special lady.

Now, you might remember that a few months ago, I had posted about my personal crisis of faith. One of mom’s friends had asked her if I was angry at God. I tried to explain my feelings, best as I could, that I felt it to be unfair that so many good people are taken so soon, and so many bad people hang around for so long.

My mom had no such crisis, and if there is indeed an afterlife, she’s on the good side of things.

I wanted to say so much and now that I’m in front of a keyboard, I’m having a horrible time thinking of what I wanted to say. Ugh.

I’ll close by saying thank you to all the folks who came on Saturday to pay their respects. It was great to see everyone, even under the circumstances. It just reinforces that we need to take the time to get together under better circumstances, because life is too damn fragile.

I especially want to thank mom’s card club for all the years of friendship and love. Barbara, Janice, Aggie, Joanne and Carole, you were all like sisters to mom and I know she loved you to pieces. I also promise that Supportive Partner Woman and I will do our best to make mom’s cookie recipes at Christmas, and we will try (no promises) to get them decorated as well as she did. We will also stay in touch and will be there for you if you need anything, as you were always there for her.

For those of you who aren’t Disney fans, you might not understand the meaning of the opening quote. That song is at the end of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at EPCOT and I just felt those words to be especially poignant. Didn’t hurt that mom was a fan of IllumiNations, either. But that’s what she would want… for us to go on, persevere and life each day. She wouldn’t want us to be sad when we thought of her. She would want us to remember her with a smile.

I’m going to do that.

Just not today.

A eulogy

Posted: July 12, 2014 in family, friends, grief, I has a sad, regrets

One of my biggest pet peeves is going to a funeral and the celebrant obviously knows nothing about the dearly departed.

I feel that’s disrespectful. As such, I stood up and volunteered to eulogize my mother. It’s not something I could leave to chance. I couldn’t let someone sum up this extraordinary life with a few trite sentences about how JoAnn loved her family. Yes, she loved her family, but there was much, much more.

Without further ado, I present the first eulogy I’ve ever written.

Good afternoon.

I volunteered to take a few minutes to talk about JoAnn. Whether you called her JoAnn, Mom, Sis, Niece, Aunt, Cousin, hey you… she was certainly a unique and wonderful individual. We are lucky to have had her in our lives.

As you know, mom passed very suddenly. I was on my way home when I got a call from the dentist’s office informing me of what had happened. As anyone who has ever ridden with me knows, I can be a bit… impatient with other drivers, especially when I need to get somewhere. Turns out that the driver I was impatient with was driving a large farm tractor. Hey, it IS Lancaster County.

To make a long story short, I got home, picked up Laura and we were on our way to Reading. I opted to ride shotgun, seeing that I was pretty freaked out. We fully expected that mom would be sitting up in the emergency room, wondering what we were all doing there.

The fact that we are all here today proves that to be wishful thinking. I honestly always thought mom was indestructible. We assumed that when the apocalypse came, the only living things left on earth would be the cockroaches, Keith Richards and my mom.

Enough about what has happened. It is done.

This is a celebration of the life of an extraordinary woman.

A woman we all loved dearly.

Again, those of you who know me well know that I have a certain way with words. If you are expecting a eulogy that is sorrowful, well, I’m sorry to disappoint. If there’s one thing my mother was not, it was sorrowful. As such, I wanted to share some remembrances of her.

Now, many of you know that while mom could be incredibly perceptive, she would also be completely oblivious from time to time. I remember one time I had her convinced that the stealth fighter was, in fact, invisible to the naked eye.

Yeah, I did that. She was a good sport about it, though. She usually was.

She taught me most of all the things I know about cooking. Everything else I know is due to the Food Network. Just don’t put the two of us in the same kitchen.

She taught me the value of working for something I wanted. Case in point. When we moved out to the spread on Rivervale Road, the soil was extremely rocky. Mom got the bright idea to pay Michelle and I a penny a rock. Me being me realized that there was no size parameters for the rocks being collected… we still got a penny if it was a piece of pea gravel or a boulder. You all can probably guess what I tried to pull. I threw a few large handfuls of gravel in the cart and said, “That’ll be $5.”

As you can imagine, that was not well received.

Mom was always very self-reliant. She hated asking people for help, no matter what it was. She usually didn’t mind asking me for help at inconvenient times, though. I seem to remember her asking me about an error message she had gotten got on her computer a few weeks before, as I was tiling a bar top. She would also ask me esoteric questions about her diagram less crossword puzzle while I was driving. Kind of hard to drive, chat and look something up on Google at the same time. Trust me. I’m certainly going to miss it.

That was mom.

Whenever I drove her anywhere, I’d have to tell her that I disconnected the brake pedal on her side of the car.

There was also the time at Michelle’s birthday party when she, well, kinda sorta, managed to start her shirt on fire.

We all have so many memories of times spent with her. For the family, the biggest might be her summer parties at the Rivervale house, where the pool was open, the food was yummy and plentiful, and mom was the driving force to put it all together. Dad and I would do a lot of work, but we had no part in the master plan. We were strictly manual labor.

Fact is, mymom was full of life and love, and had a good sense of humor. She was also known to leave us speechless. At our wedding, Mom had a few too many. (OK, one… not one too many… one) Turns out my father-in-law had assigned one of the young bartenders to keep an eye on mom and make sure she was taken care of. They were bantering back and forth and at one point, the bartender joked about taking Mom home. The next day, at brunch, mom said, “I should’ve taken him up on that. I could use a roll in the hay. After my jaw audibly hit the floor and my ears stopped bleeding, the best I could come up with was, “MOM!!!”

She just smiled her JoAnn smile and a legend was cemented.

Mom was also a great friend to many. Many of her friends she stayed in touch with since she was in grade school at Hyde Park Elementary. They liked to call themselves the Silver Belles and there were a few road trips of which the details are kind of sketchy. Something like, “What happens in Florida stays in Florida.” One detail about that trip that made it out was the time that mom, Joanne and Janice went to see a Phillies spring training game in Tampa. Mom called from the stands, and was commenting that former Phillie Pat Burrell was a good looking man. In the background I hear one of her companions say, “And he’s got a nice tushy!”

Yeah. That did happen.

She also learned how to text in recent months. And somehow she learned a lot of the text abbreviations that these kids today like to use. I’d send her a long text on my smartphone and she would send back, “love u2.” I asked her about that one time and she said that while she could text a little, she never quite figured out how to capitalize a word.

That was mom.

In addition to friends and family, Mom was always a particularly soft touch when it came to Michelle’s friends and my friends. They thought she was the coolest mom ever. She was, but try to get a teenager to admit that they had a cool mom. Later, when her and my dad moved to Exeter, she became a surrogate grandmother to some of the neighborhood children, not to mention keeping up her role as den mother to the neighborhood. She was someone you could talk to so easily that most of us did. Michelle and I certainly would yak her ear off. But she always had time for you.

My mother was also very spiritual. She was always quick to tell me of what she read in her daily devotions. She was also one who took those readings to heart and tried to live her life in accordance with her faith. There are a lot of people who trumpet how faithful they are. My mom just showed her faith by how she lived.

I know that mom has gone on to a better place. That she’s off in the afterlife with our dad, our grandparents, some of her favorite aunts, uncles and cousins. I know she’s getting licks from her dogs that have crossed the Rainbow Bridge before her.

I know she is going to be OK.

Somehow I just know.

I also know she is worried about all of us. Because that’s what she did. She constantly thought of others before herself. Without fail. She sacrificed a lot so that Michelle and I could get an education. We might not have had a lot of the frills, but we had everything we needed to succeed and, most of all, we had the best mom you could ask for.

I believe our task is a simple one going forward. To live our lives to the fullest. She wouldn’t want us to be sad. Mom would want us to think of those happy times. Take each day as it comes was pretty much her attitude. I’m also pretty sure that right now she’s looking down on all of us and wondering what the fuss is about.

So, with all that being said, kids, make sure you take any available moment to tell your parents you love them and how much you appreciate them. Because they can be gone with no warning and you don’t want to carry that guilt. It’s saying (and really meaning) three little words that mean so, so much.

Finally, I’d like to close with the following quote from some Italian dude whose name I have absolutely NO idea how to pronounce, but I’ll try anyway, E.A. Bucchianeri, “So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.”

To have this much grief, you had to have a lot of love. That we did. And while it might not seem like it, someday it will balance out. We are hurting now. That’s natural. But the grief will fade and we will always have those wonderful memories of which my mom was a huge part.

Thank you all for coming this afternoon.


Mom and I at my 40th birthday party

Mom and I at my 40th birthday party

I write this with a heavy heart.

On Monday, my mother suffered a massive stroke. It was unexpected… she was in great shape and I fully expected her to outlive me. Her blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar were better than mine and , not only that, she had much more willpower. When the drugstore blood pressure machine showed her BP was a little elevated, she managed to pretty much eliminate extra sodium from her diet. She kept up her own house, and while she might have been slowing down a little, she was still able to take care of things.

So, as I was driving home from the gym Monday, I called her, as I normally do. Ever since I had a heart scare a few years ago (turned out to be nothing), she would worry if I didn’t check in. It was 5-10 minutes out of my day, not a problem. If I couldn’t call, I would send a text (she recently learned to text). When she didn’t answer, I assumed that she went to the grocery store or had other errands to run. I tried her cell, but no answer, which again was nothing unusual. A few minutes later, my phone rang. I almost declined the call because I didn’t recognize the number. I answered, and it was my mom’s dentist’s office, letting me know that she had been in for an appointment and collapsed and was being taken to the hospital by ambulance.

That is not what I expected.

I raced home, collected Supportive Partner Woman, called my sister and my aunt and uncle and went heading to the hospital. Thankfully, SPW was in better possession of her faculties and drove, as I was a nervous wreck. I fully expected to show up in the emergency room and find her sitting up, wide awake, wondering what we were all doing fussing over her.

Instead, I found a bad scene… a scene out of my worst nightmares.

Mom had an aneurysm that burst and was showing no brain function. She was being kept alive with a machine doing her breathing for her. Today there was no signs of brain function, either, and she was taken off the ventilator, being declared brain dead. I was able to hold her hand as her heart finally stopped around 25 minutes after being taken off life support.

So many thoughts went crashing through my mind. Many tears were shed. In fact, I’m still not sure I’ve fully accepted this. It all seems so surreal.

I still have my memories, though.

Memories of mom teaching me how to read (Richard Scarry in the house).

Mom showing me around a kitchen.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

1989 band trip to Disney World that the folks went on at the last minute as chaperones. The funny part is that they were in the room next to where we were playing poker and being rowdy and they never mentioned that we were too loud. I was mortified when I found out where their room was. Whoops.

Mom being there with a shoulder to cry on when life went to complete shit.

Mom being a rock when my dad died, even though she was hurting worse than we were.

Going to the drive-in for the Disney movies and popping popcorn and making sure my sister and I had blankets and pillows, in case we fell asleep.

Laughing because she could be so perceptive and yet oblivious at the same time. Case in point, we had a surprise 50th birthday party for her. We instructed my dad to go to a certain entrance of the hall, and I made sure that cars she would recognize were parked on another side of the building. Dad got his signals crossed, parked right next to my car and she never even noticed.

She was the glue that kept our family together and now she’s gone.

It’s not fair.

As I was talking to my uncle last night, I said that the world was a better place for having her in it. We both had a good cry.

I know deep down this is how she would want to go… quickly and painlessly. That doesn’t make it easy on those of us left behind, however. I ask of you to say an extra prayer for Mama T tonight, or, if you’re not the praying kind, to keep her in your thoughts.

I miss her already.

RIP, Mom… 1942-2014

I’ve noticed something over the four years I’ve been doing this blog… whenever I let the blogging lapse, the weight creeps back on. Curious cause and effect, but it bears looking into.

I had a visit with Dr. McPhee today. He challenged me to avoid all processed carbs for a month and see what happens. I was expressing my discontent at the fact I’m pretty much sedentary due to the foot issues and he says he has patients that have found success with this approach. It’ll be  a challenge, since I do like my pasta and crunchy snacks. He managed to ease the blow by saying I could have some corn and potatoes. Not tons, but it’s a start.

I immediately enlisted Supportive Partner Woman (fellow lover of carby goodness!) who agreed to go in, just not right away, because we have a LOT of that stuff in the house and it seems a shame to throw it away. I can respect that… food is expensive, after all. I did start today and made a very yummy lunch… cedar plank roasted Copper River salmon with an ear of fresh, quasi-local sweet corn and some steamed broccoli. I was amazed at just how much protein is in the salmon… MyFitnessPal calculated 26.2 grams in a portion slightly less than 4 oz. That’s some serious protein.

I added something to the kitchen arsenal this week, as well. I finally got a food grinder attachment for the KitchenAid mixer. This thing is AWESOME! I took a nice sirloin, ran it through the grinder and made some caramelized sweet onion burgers for the grill. The meat was probably a little too lean for the purpose, as the burgers were a little dry, but the taste was spot-on. I’m looking forward to grinding my own turkey, since the stuff you get at the store is kind of nasty. I think it will make for excellent turkey meatloaf and turkey burgers, not to mention it can be cheaper to buy the whole piece and grind it yourself. Woot!

Other than that, there’s not too much going on. I find myself getting sad when I drive by the trailheads because on some of these lovely days we’ve been having, it would be nice to go out and take a walk/run/wog. Alas, thanks to Wayne being obstinate, no dice.

This pretty much sums up my feelings on soccer

This pretty much sums up my feelings on soccer.

In other news, many folks around the world are watching the World Cup. I realize I’ll take some heat for saying this, but I just don’t get it. I mean I respect the athleticism and skill, and I respect the fact that a lot of people love the game, but, on the whole, I’d rather watch hockey or baseball. I know, you people are saying, “You like baseball and you’re bored by soccer?” My usual response is to say that there aren’t many other sports where you can fail 70% of the time and be considered one of the greats.

At any rate, that’s going to do it for this post. Expect to see more in the coming weeks as I rededicate myself. I’ll also let you know how things go with the no processed carbs challenge.

Now where can I find some meat?