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Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 3 comments

Happy #1, Zoey!

I haven’t blogged much about Grandkid #2, mainly because I haven’t seen much of her, mainly because The Boy lives about 120 miles from FAR Manor. (Smart move, that.) But she had her first birthday party over the weekend, with a “Wild One” theme. Zoey isn’t terribly wild—she’s not quite walking yet—but her parents…

Anyway, I expected Charlie to get a good nap on the 2-hour drive down… nope! He was fascinated with the 18-wheelers and transfer trucks on the freeway. When we got all the way past one truck, he would crane his neck to look out the windshield for the next one. We got to the pavilion, and he was ready to party!

A good time was had by all. Especially the birthday girl. There was cake. With icing, of course:

Now why did someone give me this spoon? Who needs a spoon?

Charlie thought the party was fun, too. He even tried to steal the show by turning loose and trying to walk away once—for the second time that weekend. As with the first time, he got two steps, keeled over, and I caught him. He wasn’t too sure about me holding Zoey; but while the wife had him, I carried her over to say hi to Charlie. He grinned at her, she stuck her tongue out, and Charlie cut loose with the Joyous Ear-Splitting Screech™. Zoey suddenly decided she’d had enough, and started wailing for someone she knew to come get meeeeee!.

One of the cool things they did was to put out a stationary pad for everyone to write Zoey a letter. She’s supposed to get them all and read through them when she’s 18. That involves a lot of confidence that someone will be able to hold on to that correspondence for 17 years, but it’s still a cool idea.

After the party, we hit Golden Corral and hung out for a while before heading back. Once again, Charlie kept a lookout for trucks… at least until it got dark. But he refused to give in until we got about 10 miles from home. Then, he crashed. It didn’t take much longer for me to do the same.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017 2 comments

RIP, Big V

It happened on eclipse day, but it took me a while to process. Then I keep putting off the post. Still in denial, I guess.

Big V in better times
Up until evening, Eclipse Day was one of the best days I’d had, recently. It had been a pretty good day, by all accounts, for Big V and her family as well—no quarrels, lots of smiles, all was going pretty good for a change. The only problem: she had recently had gone back to home dialysis, after not being able to do it for a while, and the drain cycle wasn’t working well.

So her hubs got out of the shower, and heard her call him. By the time he got to her, she was already on the floor and not breathing. He called 911, started CPR, and kept it up for a heroic 15 minutes until the ambulance got there. They kept working on her until they got her to the hospital… to no avail.

One of the doctors said, “in her condition, 98% of the time, it’s a heart attack.” So we all went with that. Between the diabetes (not controlled well), leukemia, and kidney failure, this was going to happen sooner or later. I expected much later, after a prolonged decline, but maybe it was better for her to go out on a good note.

Since her widower works nights (truck driver), Skylar spends most school nights here and spends afternoons and weekends with his “papa.” Mason’s glad to have him around, even if they argue a lot. Charlie’s always up for another older kid who will play with him.

But I’ll hand it to Big V. She gave it all she could to stay with Skylar. In the end… maybe it was enough.

Thursday, August 03, 2017 1 comment

Hitting My Stride, and Other Stuff

Sunday morning, I went to get something from the kitchen, when I realized I was walking my like old, pre-knee-issues self—long, brisk strides that covered ground with only the tiniest twinge of discomfort from the Whiny Quadriceps. Hey! I thought, I’m back! That, more than anything, convinced me I’m close to fully recovered. After a week of my feet giving me grief, one or both at a time (while Charlie is cutting molars and wants to be held more than usual, which is a lot), it felt really good to walk instead of limp or shuffle.

I guess cutting those molars is really rough on a baby. Charlie is trying to be his normal happy self, but he’ll start crying at anything or nothing at all. But here’s a pic from a couple weeks ago, when Mason also felt like cutting up:

Just me and the boys… Charlie's trying to grab the phone, of course.

With school starting today(!!), we swapped our Labor Day timeshare week for one in July, and so we escaped FAR Manor last week. We spent a lot of time at the pool, and Charlie loves the water. We have a float he can sit in, with his legs in the water, and he can reach out and splash with his hands. Definitely his happy place. But mid-week was when he started cutting molars, and started getting rundown and moody later in the last few days.

Meanwhile, Mason wanted to try this zipline place near the resort, and Skylar stayed with us for the first half of the week, so we took them over there. The big ziplines were beyond their ability, but they had smaller "adventure" runs over a rope bridge, a rolling platform… and finally, a short zipline:



So that’s pretty much the end of summer at FAR Manor, even if we have all of August to get through.

Saturday, May 27, 2017 No comments

Family Feud

While Daughter Dearest is now married, she still lives in the free-range insane asylum, in the same trailer she had rented with a roomie back before meeting Sizzle. This has been helpful; with me recovering from knee surgery (going well), wife has been taking Charlie with her… at least until today. I’m mostly being neglected in favor of the father in law, who sits on his butt and demands everyone take care of him, or the endless demands of a farm. At least I haven’t (again, until today) been expected to take care of a baby when I’m just barely out of the walker myself, and that’s supposed to be part-time.

But I digress. One evening this week, Daughter Dearest went down to visit the father in law (mine, aka her grandfather). Mr. Sunshine, who has been living there as well, came in.

“Get outta my chair,” he ordered DD. “I need to sit down.” Now Mr. Sunshine was actually pleasant to be around for about a month after recovering from his stroke, but after that he went back to his old center-of-the-universe self. Maybe even worse.

“You bought this chair?” she sneered, not budging an inch. “Do you have your name embroidered on it somewhere that I can’t see?”

Sunshine, who thinks he’s superior to everyone and especially women, decided to take more direct action—he tried pushing the chair over to tip her out. DD, who is neither tiny nor weak, dug her feet into the carpet and pushed back. At that point, he looked ready to try upping the ante.

“You touch me,” DD warned, “and you’ll have a fight on your hands.”

“You think you’d win? Or you gonna sic your husband on me?”

“Yeah, I’d win, but I’ll save him a little piece after I get through with you.”

DD inherited the axe-murderer glare from her mom, and I think he saw it. So, like any thwarted bully, Sunshine turned to Daddy. “Make her get up!” he barked.

“She was sitting there first,” he replied.

“Well I guess you’re a bitch like your momma,” Sunshine snarled and stormed out.

Now Sizzle has his dander up, of course, but DD can obviously take care of herself. I’m proud of her… and a little bit proud of myself for raising her right. As for Sunshine, he’s slowly getting it hammered into his head that he’s neither king, boss, nor particularly respected around here (or anywhere else). There has been some talk about getting an injunction to get him tossed out of the house he’s not paying any rent for, and as far as I’m concerned it can’t happen soon enough.

Stay tuned… more cRaZy FAR Manor action as it happens!

Sunday, January 15, 2017 4 comments

Charlie & Mason Blogging

Mason continues to be one of Charlie's favorite people, as you can see here…

"Are you fighting a… a Diamond Ender Creeper?" "sigh No such thing, Charlie."

Can you believe the little rugrat is a year old now? I mean Charlie, of course. Mason is 7; he only acts like a one year old on occasion. Mason is doing very good in school, especially math, and will be testing for the gifted program early next month. Now if I could only get him more interested in reading.

As for Charlie, we took him to Emory Neurological Evaluation Center earlier this week (at the tail-end of Winter #1) for some tests with a team of psychologists. The schools opened Tuesday, but on a two-hour delay, so we had to keep Mason out of school and take him with us. Give him a fully-charged iPad, and he’s fine with that. They noted Charlie’s issues with coordination and the like, and that his physical appearance indicates Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. (On top of the meth issues. I so want to punch Badger Boobs right now.)

The million-dollar question is, of course, whether he can grow out of all that and lead a normal life. That was not a question they had answers for; but did schedule more tests for next month, including a genetic test.

Still, I see lots of hopeful signs, many that have just started happening. He’s always had good people skills (that, his good looks, and sunny disposition will suit him for management… and even if he isn’t all that bright, that isn’t a handicap for management). He was sick, more on than off, for the last two months but he’s finally moved on past that.

Now that he’s feeling better, he’s acting more aware of stuff going on around him. He’s also fighting sleep tooth and nail, which is only hopeful because The Boy and Mason both did the same and they were both pretty advanced—otherwise, it’s a pain in the butt. Now Daughter Dearest wasn’t much for fighting sleep, and she ended up at least as advanced, so maybe that’s not an indicator. Lately, he wants to squirm off laps and get to the floor, which we tend to forbid unless it’s fairly clean. You can see in his face that he knows he should be able to move himself around by now, and he’s really trying to get it.

But today brought a bunch of “firsts.”

He’s shown a fondness for starches lately (bread, pasta, and now rice). Just this week, he’s really started to get the hang of chewing stuff that isn’t fingers or teething aids. He’ll eat all the bread we’ll give him; usually we’ll break it into small bits and stick it in the ol’ pie hole. Today, the wife put a piece on his highchair tray; he got frustrated after several attempts at trying to pick it up. Me, not knowing about this, tried the same thing a little later. He got it on the second attempt! Then he repeated it, so he’s at least beginning to get the hang of self-feeding. At suppertime, after gobbling his container of baby food, he scarfed a good chunk of potato and a couple spoons of rice, both new foods at least in non-puree form.

In between that, I had him on his play mat on the living room floor. The phone rang, so I laid him on his tummy and grabbed it. I then heard a thump; thinking the wife had come up while I was occupied, I walked through the kitchen to see if she was in the garage. She wasn’t, but I heard Charlie wail. He had somehow gotten off the mat and was in front of Rosie’s pen… a good four feet away, and he had to have turned to get there. He’s not crawling yet, but he can flop from Point A to Point B now. On the bed, I’ve seen him get his knees underneath and scoot forward (especially if I’ve put a toy just out of reach).

With Spring #1 being an unusually warm one, all of us (including Charlie) have been enjoying the outdoors this weekend. If we’re doing stuff, he can at least sit in the stroller and watch. If he gets bored, we just send Mason over to talk to him for a few seconds. We took a brief ride in the Miata with the top down this afternoon, and I’m planning on grilling steaks for lunch tomorrow. In the middle of January, when it’s usually inhospitable outside. I might let him sit in his stroller and watch.

Saturday, January 14, 2017 2 comments

Cyborg-Mom!

Back in October, Mom had a pacemaker installed. It’s a routine thing these days, almost an outpatient procedure. They keep you overnight, wait for the happy juice to wear off, then send you home with a long list of things you can’t do for the next six weeks.

That should have been the end of the story, but would I be blogging about it if that was the case?

To begin with, Mom is pretty dang athletic for being 80, so there isn’t a lot of excess padding where a surgeon can hide a pacemaker. So they just stuck it under her skin, making a nice little lump but otherwise not interfering much. My youngest brother Solar lives near her, so he made sure things like laundry and heavy lifting got taken care of until she was off restrictions.

That should have been the end of the story. Again. But…

Whether it was a matter of the pacemaker being too close to the surface, or one of those airborne things getting into the mix during surgery, an infection set in. One of those nasty antibiotic-resistant hospital infections. Of course, this happened right before Christmas, when we planned to come down. Solar ran out of chill and advised us to cancel our hotel and just stay home. Meanwhile, they yanked the pacemaker and put on (on, not in) a temporary, then started shotgunning the antibiotics.

Wife suggested I go down myself, day after Christmas, and Solar was good with that. He had been taking care of his business and Mom’s, and was going into negative-chill over the hospital wanting to send her home despite never having done that when a patient has a temporary pacemaker. Still, Mom wanted to be in her place, and I suspect the hospital wanted to prevent a possible secondary infection. So I came down, and Solar got to have a break for a while.

Mom looked a lot better than Solar was describing—definitely not 100%, but able to dress herself, fix her own food, and so on. A home nurse came in daily to help keep up with her medications and do blood tests. So here she was: pacemaker taped to her shoulder, a pump pulling the crud out of the infected area, a PICC line in her arm—tubes and machines everywhere. Cyborg-Mom! Her primary complaint was “I only got to play tennis twice before this happened!”

I thought Solar was worrying way too much. Sure, he was comparing Mom to herself at 100%, but she was able to handle the basic tasks of life. We went to the grocery store, she made coffee, and helped me fix a meal or two. I was comparing her to my father-in-law, who only gets out of his chair when he needs to use the can or eat. He completely depends on the wife (mine) to get his meals, arrange his meds, and bathe him. Compared to that, Mom seemed hardly affected… besides being unable to play tennis, of course. I even got to take a couple walks on the beach, where I saw six people using a four-person inflatable float and a melting snowman (sandman). Had to look up the float; I might get one for our week at the timeshare.

Put me in summer and I'll be a… HAPPY SNOWMAN!

So back to Mom. Once they identified the infection (a cousin of tuberculosis), they knocked off the shotgun antibiotics and gave her one or two that had the most effect against the bad buggly. (Good thing, all those drugs were starting to bang on her kidneys a little too hard.) So the infection started clearing up, and they took the pump off. Mom really bounced back after that; she always had to remember to pick up the bag with the pump and make sure the lines weren’t going to snag on something. I kind of missed it; it made a soft fart sound every ten minutes or so, which thoroughly delighted my inner 12-year-old. (“Yeah, Mom, blame it on the pump!”)

So I went home on New Years Eve, and she went into the hospital on the 3rd to get the new pacemaker put in. This time, they put it into a muscle so there wouldn’t be a repeat problem.

That should have been the end of the story. But… are we starting to see a pattern here?

She came home on the 4th, and the very next day she was right back in for a mild heart attack. They ran a catheter in, and found no blockage, so they concluded it was stress-related. (Stress? Now why would she be stressed?)

She got to come home a few days later, and everything is finally more or less on an even keel. We rescheduled our vacation for spring break, I got reservations at the cottages we often stay at, and she should be back to playing tennis by the time we come down in early April.

Not even 2016 could do for Mom. Nobody messes with Mom.

Monday, August 08, 2016 3 comments

Lucky 7 (Months)

Hey, put your finger in here…
Charlie’s 7 months old today. As you can see, he has been cutting teeth for a while. This of course is accompanied by the usual “chew on anything kind of soft” thing that babies do. If you give him a finger, he’ll s-l-o-w-l-y pull it up to his mouth, touch it to his teeth, then start applying pressure. And those teeth are sharp. At least he gives you plenty of warning.

He’s not sitting by himself or crawling just yet, but I can no longer drop him on my bed between two pillows and expect him to stay put. Saturday afternoon, he wriggled out from between the pillows (in his sleep) then flipped over while I took care of some laundry. Fortunately, he didn’t go any farther. Now I know I can’t get away with doing that anymore.

We’re converting the wife’s office, a tiny bedroom really, into his room. That entails moving a bunch of furniture around, as always. Mason’s big enough to help now, which should make life a little easier. The office stuff will go into the corner of the living room where Charlie’s bed (and some other stuff) is now.

Diamond sword something something creeper…
His surrogate big brother Mason is obsessed with Minecraft these days, but he’ll always make room for Charlie to sit and watch. Mason’s always ready to clown around for Charlie, who always appreciates his antics and weird noises.

Charlie, of course, has a bit of clown-sense of his own. Sometimes when I'm giving him a bottle, he'll catch my eye, grin around the nipple, and go “hee heeeee.” That cracks me up, which gets him going, and it turns into a positive feedback loop. Usually, when he does that, he’s had enough bottle anyway.

Stay tuned… always something weird around FAR Manor.

Saturday, July 16, 2016 2 comments

Going Court-ing

You can sleep through your own hearing
when you’re a baby. ;-)
We had another hearing with Charlie on Thursday. Big V had dropped her Motion to Intervene a week prior, so it was fairly routine. (Big V tried telling us we didn’t have to show up at the hearing, but… uh, we decided to verify that one, skipping right past the trust part.)

This went pretty routinely. Splat had been doing well for a while, living with the father in law and helping on the farm. I had taken him to Gainesville for a drug test in late May, and he was clean and green—splitting up with Badger Boobs helped with that. Thus, he had been seeing Charlie pretty regularly.

All that changed about two weeks ago. Wife took him to the Social Security office to replace his card, and then to the DMV to replace his driver’s license… and he hasn’t been seen since. There was some talk about him getting back together with BB, but she’s in the clink for a probation violation. He had expressed some interest in getting into rehab, but that seems to have gone by the wayside. On the upside, he’s working for a landscaping company. The Boy tells us Splat has been working very long hours, and comes “home” (for whatever “home” he has at the moment) exhausted. Such is the power of the Book of Face, a book I’ve managed to not delve into much as yet.

Some of this came out during the hearing, some when I talked with The Boy Thursday evening when they came to get Mason for the weekend. (Did I mention that he’s back with his wife, and they’re expecting a girl in late September? Yay, another grandkid! At least we won’t be raising that one, we’ve got our hands full as it is.)

But I digress. DFACS is happy with how we’re taking care of the little butterball. :-) As the picture above shows, he slept through the whole hearing. He’s been congested since last weekend, and that’s been rough on all of us. Fortunately, he’s showing signs of getting past it, and I managed to sleep the last couple nights even if the wife didn’t. I’ll take tonight’s shift, if necessary. But even at his worst, he tried really hard to be good-natured.

On the other hand, DFACS is still probing Big V’s ability to take care of Skylar. It isn’t helping her cause that she let Splat stay with her for a while (bad news, letting a known druggie in the house when you have custody of a rugrat… even if Skylar is said druggie’s rugrat, and he hasn’t been using recently). But the judge asked DFACS to train us to recognize when someone is high on their happy-juice of choice, so we’ll be learning some interesting stuff soon. At one point, someone asked if we wanted to let Splat stay with us… the judge said, “I’m seeing a ‘no’ from both of them.” (We hadn’t been sworn in or anything, but she saw us shaking our heads out in the peanut gallery.)

It’s heartening to know there’s plenty of backup available if we get into some kind of health issue… first Daughter Dearest, then BB’s family, are willing to take Charlie if we’re incapacitated. Although as much as Charlie sees FAR Manor as home, they might have to move here.

Saturday, July 09, 2016 4 comments

Charlie at Six (Months)

He’s a little behind, which is to be expected given his not-so-stellar origin story, but he’s catching up quick. He’s quite the chubby baby these days… and happy!

Jiggle his leg. Gets a grin out of him every time.

Look Granddad, I'm multitasking!
In the last week or so, he has mastered the trick of rolling onto his back. I find him in bed that way most mornings now, either playing with his feet and chattering quietly, or grumbling about the slow service around the manor. He still makes that growling noise, sometimes in two notes at once (sounds like a sixth, not terribly melodious), and it can either mean “I’m content” or “I need some attention over here!” depending on context. But he’s added singing to the mix, especially when he’s ready for a nap. (But that going down for a nap thing requires at least a token nip at the bottle.)

He’s not much for toys just yet. He much prefers people… I think because they do stuff without him making it happen. Playing with his feet—or at least one foot—is something he does often, though. The pediatrician asked, “does he pull it up to his mouth?” and the wife replied, “his legs are too fat for that.” Mostly true.

He’s kind of lazy, though. He likes to slouch with shoulders slumped when we sit or stand him up. We have to press on his back to get him straight. Someone made a scary noise that sounded like “scoliosis,” but he’s Bonnie Common Charlie, not King Richard III. :-P His legs are strong enough to hold all his weight now, which is good, and he’ll scramble up to a crawl position when we put him on his stomach. (He hasn’t mastered forward propulsion, though, still scooting backwards.)

Play time!
Mason, meanwhile, has really gotten into the surrogate big brother thing. Charlie absolutely loves it when Mason capers around and makes weird noises. I’ve never heard a baby laugh the way Charlie laughs when Mason’s playing with him, a soft “haw haw haw haw” with shoulders shaking.

As for Mason, asking him to play with Charlie is the easiest way to get him off the iPad for a little while. This morning, when Charlie was sitting in his bouncy seat and grumbling about nobody being around, Mason brought the iPad over and sat with him. Charlie quieted immediately and watched what Mason was doing. Now if Mason’s own babyhood is any guide to the future, we can expect to see Charlie soon wanting to “help” by bopping the screen at an inopportune moment…

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 2 comments

A Salted Battery, Golf Cart Edition

Things have been going mostly pretty well here for now. I’m working remote, there’s plenty of stuff to keep Mom and me occupied after work, and we have dealt with most of the little things and all the bigger ones.

Mom’s electric golf cart has been acting up for a while now. First, there was the “wouldn’t run” issue that somehow cleared itself last year. But it was still giving trouble, bogging on hills and even cutting out for a few seconds at a time. So before we came up, she got on the phone with some friends. Wicked Stepfather had parked the cart in the garage for the winter, figuring it would be less moist there.

Here’s where the fun begins. They couldn’t get the thing to go at all. One of the brilliant folks, missing the power cord sticking out below the driver’s seat, put a car battery charger on one of the batteries (it has six). Here’s the fun part: they’re 8V batteries. OOPS They couldn’t get it to go (gee, I wonder why) and ended up pushing it down the hill and into its garagelet around the back of the house.

So we got there, I plugged it in to charge up. Still nothing. I figured the batteries were shot, a pretty good guess because they were the original batteries and the cart is six years old. So I lifted the seat to get the capacity and any other information that would help us get replacements… and when I shone a trouble light down the side, I saw the disconnected positive cable. Wicked Stepfather had wisely disconnected it last year to cut down on battery drain over the winter.

Ooooooookaaaaayyyyyyy. I hooked that back up, plugged the charger in, and the cart rewarded us with motion, hooray! But it was still bogging and cutting out. The battery that had been abused with a car charger had boiled out most of its water, so we added about a quart to get it back up to scratch. That helped with the cutting-out part, but not completely, and it was still bogging on hills.

Out with the old…
So since the Sam’s in Johnson City (about 50 miles away) carried them, we decided to add that to Mom’s list of stuff. Six batteries, $100 apiece. Yay. We got them home, and I brought the cart up top so we only had to carry the batteries 10 feet or so. These suckers weigh about 50 lbs (22-23kg) apiece, so I had a good time getting the oldies out of the cart. But with them out of the way, Mom took the other end of each battery and helped me get them into position.

This is when the next thing happened: the new batteries have their terminals spaced closer together than the old ones. That means there was about an inch more distance between terminals on adjacent batteries. Since they’re connected in series (six 8V batteries = 48V), and the connecting cables had little to no slack, they were about an inch too short. The long one, connecting the two rows, was okay, so we just needed four short cables.

Undaunted, we called Lowe’s. They had 18-inch (450mm) battery cables for riding lawn mowers and ring terminals. Since half the length would be more than sufficient, I figured to cut the cables in two and make four out of two. It turned out the cables were about half as thick as the originals, so I bought a second pair and doubled them up.

Double, double, less chance for trouble?
Wicked Stepfather has a little workbench space in the storage room behind where the cart goes. He didn’t have a crimp tool that would handle 4-gauge terminals, but he had a bench vise and that was sufficient. It didn’t take long to cut, strip, and crimp them all. I brought them back upstairs and made the connections.

Finally, it was time to plug it in to charge. I was glad the cart was outside, just in case something caught fire. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue. So yesterday, I took it on a shakedown cruise. It pulled the hills without any problem, never cut out, and is working just fine in general. After the cruise, I touched the cables—not even slightly warm.

So that pretty much wraps up all the maintenance kind of stuff that Mom couldn’t handle on her own. The lawn mower started on the second pull after two years, which makes me think Wicked Stepfather put preservative in the gas. We made pizza yesterday and had guests over, and that went well.

Looks like I’ll be going back to the manor for a few days next weekend. I’ll come back Monday (since I took the second half of June for vacation), spend maybe another week here, then Mom will spread her wings or something like that. Maybe she’s flying up north or something. I’ll figure it out. I miss the wife, Charlie, and Mason (and DD, who has been married two weeks now), but not much of anything else.

Sunday, June 05, 2016 4 comments

Nerd Month!

For all of June, I’m the quintessential nerd: living in Mom’s basement. You probably know about Mom’s summer house in the mountains of North Carolina; I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before. With Wicked Stepfather’s abrupt shuffling off of the mortal coil in spring (he keeled over in seconds), Mom has obviously had to make some adjustments. She still wants to get out of the Florida heat for the summer, but wasn’t sure how she would do with distance driving because Wicked Stepfather was one of those guys who did all of that. So I agreed to come up with her, spend the first two weeks working remote, then take the next two weeks as vacation.

So far, she’s done quite well. I packed my Miata with stuff I’d need for the month (mostly electronics), and showed her the easy way to get here from FAR Manor. The GPS in her car, which famously led Wicked Stepfather at least 100 miles out of the way each time, had a snit fit most of the way up. But she kept up without any problem, and I only sandbagged a little. The route I discovered a couple years back has about one mile of really sharp curves (out of over 300 miles, most of which is four-lane now). She’s also doing most or all of the local driving now that we’re here. She has no problem, something the youngest brother Solar was worried about. There’s the question of how she ’s going to get up north (probably flying), but so far so good.

Now, for a couple pix…

First, my June dwelling. The basement, like most in hilly areas, is exposed on one side (eastern exposure, which makes sleeping late in the morning problematic). I took the TV off the cart at the back wall to make room for the computer. Mom said I’d need another set-top box down here to watch TV anyway, so it all works out well.


I put the work laptop on the little table by the window. The first couple days I was here, before the cable company set us up with Internet, I had to hike it down to the “media center,” which is right by the pool. I might do that again…


Yesterday, after a morning of yard work (I had to weed-eater the entire back yard, because it was like a meadow with all the tall weeds and flowers), we went to Blind Squirrel Brewery for lunch.


The food was good, too.


They have two disc golf courses, and I happen to have my golf discs with me, so I’ll likely head on back there once I’m on vacation the last two weeks of the month.

Monday, May 30, 2016 4 comments

Daughter Dearest Ties the Knot

And we officially begin a new chapter—both our kids are married.

Here comes the bride—get outta the WAY!
Saturday was the culmination of a lot of preparations that made everything a little crazier than usual around the free-range insane asylum, but everything went off as expected. Charlie tried to steal the show, making his contented growling noise in the back row and making DD laugh a little up at the altar.

At rehearsal, I had to carry on a tradition started by the wife’s dad. Back when, the preacher got to the part where he asks who’s giving away the bride. He answered “Her mother and I. And I got two more at home! Who wants ‘em?” So when it came to my time, I put her hand in Fizzle’s and said, “She’s all yours, buddy! Good luck!” (Of course, neither of us did that at the actual ceremony.)

So now it’s time to rename Fizzle, since he’s no longer the Future Son In Law. +Katherine Hajar suggested “Sizzle.” And why not? Sizzle it is!

And tomorrow, I’m off to NC with Mom. For the whole month. Once she gets her cable modem activated, I’ll resume regular blogging.

Thursday, August 13, 2015 4 comments

Big V's Scary Week

As some of you remember, my nutty one-legged sister in law is diabetic. And she’s never been the most stable isotope on the periodic table. Most of that side of the family have an amazingly high clue-immunity… you can see where this is leading. The reason she’s one-legged is that she doesn’t take care of herself very well, refuses to adjust her high-carb diet to accommodate the diabetes, etc. Lately, her continued avoidance of reality has taken its toll on her kidneys.

Sunday afternoon, she checked into the hospital to get hookups for dialysis. It was supposed to be a two-night thing, including her first dialysis. As usual, her body chemistry had to get un-whacked by a day or so of decent diet before they were comfortable doing the surgery. So that happened on Monday. Everything sailed right on through, no problem. I visited her on the way home from work, since the office is about a mile from that hospital.

The “fun” began Tuesday morning. Her blood pressure started dropping, and continued to drop, to the point where they thought she was in cardiac arrest and started doing chest compressions. The head nurse, who dropped by when the wife met me there in the evening, said “you scared the crap out of me.” She remembers Big V saying I can’t die, I have to take care of Skylar. And perhaps that’s the only reason she’s still here to annoy the rest of us. :-P

Needless to say, the two-nighter dragged on another day or two. They rolled the dialysis machine into her room and hooked her in… and her numbers responded very well. So well, in fact, they were in the normal range after the second dialysis. They ended up unhooking her and sent her home late last night. No more dialysis! That’s a very good thing, because guess who would be taking her down there? (wife, not me)

Now, if she gets her act together and starts eating right, she'll stay reasonably healthy. And I’ll be watching for flying pigs…

Monday, August 03, 2015 5 comments

Home Sweet Hole

It was too much to ask, vacation going on forever. Every time we head home, it seems like there’s some “reason” to get there in a mad rush. This time, it was Fizzle needing to pick up his kids for back to school shopping.

I did get to see Dad one more time Friday morning, and that was fruitful. I realized, from the things he talks about, that he’ll remember something that makes an impression on him. Like the old lady on his floor that came walking into his room and tried to make herself at home. “This is my space,” he said, circling a hand around the room. “She thought she could just come in here. Well, I showed her the door.” Then there was the nurse who woke him up one morning and got him down to breakfast: “She seems to think she knows everything, but she doesn’t.” He also remembered her as… oh, rather hefty. So chances are if you rile him up, he’ll remember that!

Now that we’re back to the manor, it’s about time to start school. Michigan has a much more reasonable schedule, letting people have their summer so they don’t have to rush vacation and lose all of August. Here on Planet Georgia, Daughter Dearest is already going in to prep and socialize with her co-workers; Mason starts kindergarten on Friday.

As for me, it’s back to work. I weeded my email from home yesterday afternoon, leaving only things I needed to take action on today and the rest of the week. At least we have another week off in September.

Thursday, July 30, 2015 4 comments

Escape from FAR Manor: Family

For pix of the beach trip, scroll down or jump to the previous post

These trips north give us all a chance to escape the free-range insane asylum, and gives me a chance to see my family. Dad has Alzheimer’s these days, which makes it difficult for him. He’s in a facility where they can keep him comfortable, and I suppose that’s the best that can be said. Other Brother and his family lives nearby, so he at least gets regular visits.


Despite the issues, he’s still Dad. He reads quite a bit. Remembering how to work a TV remote is a little beyond him, so one of the staff turns it on for him and he just unplugs it when he’s ready for some quiet. He does retain some of what he reads; he could tell me a little about the book he was reading when we came in. I think I should send him a monthly letter with pictures; maybe it will help.

He has a rather odd narrative of how he ended up here: he was at an assisted living joint for a while, and liked it there. He says two guys from the place invited him out for a walk, then abandoned him; he got cold-cocked and woke up in this place. What actually happened was that he got an infection in a leg muscle that got to the point of blood poisoning; between that and the Alzheimer’s, he doesn’t remember the hospital stay or the transfer.

Some of my other uncles are not doing so great, so we’re planning to see one or two tomorrow. We’ll hit a winery while we’re out. Combining trips is important when you have to leave Friday for the old grind…

Sunday, July 26, 2015 4 comments

Escape from FAR Manor: Reaching the Beach

In an attempt to stretch vacation, I took Thursday and Friday off as well as the entire week. We made the hotel reservations, and only afterwards found out DD’s fiance was coming with.

BTW, I have the fiance’s blog-name: Fizzle. (Future Son In Law → FSIL → Fizzle) This name will last unto the wedding, at which point I’ll come up with another one.

There was no problem at neither the hotel we spent the night at along the way, nor the one we have set up camp in. We couldn’t get two rooms at the Ramada like we did last year, which was bad because that pool has a waterslide and good because their wi-fi sucks so hard, so we ended up a couple miles farther out at Crowne Plaza. We arrived Friday evening, unpacked, got food, and crashed. Saturday we mostly dinked around. We went to a local park so Mason could hit the playground, but that was about it.

But Sunday… ah, Sunday. We loaded up and headed to Saugatuck. We went to the beach there many times in my youth, climbing Mt. Baldy and running full-tilt-boogie down the other side. The “in my youth” part is significant here. They replaced the uphill slog with steps:

Stairway to Heaven?
Wife took one look and said, “nope.” DD echoed the sentiment. To my surprise, so did Fizzle. Mason wanted to do it, and I would have been OK with it, except I knew my knee would start screaming well before the day was over.

So we piled in the car and took the less up-and-over route to Oval Beach. Being a summer weekend in Michigan, with temps in the mid-80s (F), we were far from the only people going to the beach. There was a rather long line of cars waiting to pay the $8 and get through. When they got to us, they said, “you’re the second to last car.” Yipe!

We found a spot, a rather decent location in fact, and hucked our chairs, cooler, and bags to the sand. It was rather crowded, as you can see here.

We have reached the beach!
The gatehouse to the parking lot had info posted, including the water temperature: 65F. eep But the air was warm, the sand was downright hot, and there were people in the water. As it turned out, the water was cold, but it didn’t feel all that cold. Fizzle and Mason were gung-ho to get in, DD skeptical, and I took my sweet time but joined them.

Did I mention the sand was hot? Yup. In one of those “reality is stranger than fiction” things, the sand was actually hotter than the pavement on our tender bare feet. If you were standing in one place on the sand, you could dig under the top inch or so to a more comfortable layer.

The wife stayed with our stuff, high up on the beach, while the rest of us gamboled in Lake Michigan. She took plenty of pictures, including this one of the four of us:

Me, DD, Fizzle, and Mason
She took many other shots, but there was this one woman who seemed to like to photobomb us a lot. Or maybe she knew I’d appreciate it…

DOUBLE photobomb!
She got right in the way of DD and Fizzle’s happy embrace. Jeez.

After a few hours, we were all ready to move on. After a late lunch at a local bowling alley/restaurant, Fizzle and I ended up at the Saugatuck Brewery for a taste of local craft beer.

Bottoms up!
The Beer of the Day was a dopple-bock that was very good, even if it had a tarragon note. The Singapore IPA is a middle-of-the-road IPA, nothing weird. I was less impressed with the Oval Beach Blonde, even if we had just come from its namesake. I got a variety 12-pack to take back to Planet Georgia.

So, a toast to vacation—may it go on much longer!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 2 comments

Oh “Snap.”

With Daughter Dearest’s wedding a ways out yet (T minus 350 days and counting, give or take), details are a little squishy. One thing that was settled early: I’m going to do the photo stuff. This will be the second wedding I’ve officially shot; the first was Mom’s second marriage. (Memorable moment there: with no organist, I started whistling Wedding March and the other four or five people in attendance took it up. They’re still together, so it worked out OK.)

So a week or so ago, DD said, “Hey, who are you going to have take the pictures when you’re walking me up the aisle?”

I thought a moment. “Hey, I know! Selfie stick!” I made one a few years ago, long before the name existed, to hoist a small video camera over crowds or other obstructions. Just needs a ball-joint mount, and I have one laying around here somewhere.

“No.”

The challenge of holding a DSLR out on the end of a selfie stick is intriguing, though. Maybe I should ask Other Brother if he remembers that detail (her dad also shot their wedding). I think the wife will probably do the honors, though.


So yesterday, I’m heading to lunch. Daughter Dearest texted me: I love you but if I decide to do this you're not taking them :D and included a link. I was sitting at a stoplight, so I followed the link.

Um… (click to see the full page)
This is something neither of us were aware of before—it’s a photo shoot that the groom gets the morning of the wedding. I guess it’s to warm him up for the night… not that I’ve known many grooms who need warming up.

Anyway.

Being a good father (you can tell, I raised her right!), I responded:

RIGHT.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 5 comments

Ring-a-Ding Ding

Welp… Daughter Dearest has gone and made it official:

So, this happened…
I won’t be posting the wedding pics for a year or so, because that’s when they’ve scheduled it. A year and about a week from now. I made a crack about leading the reception crowd in a chant of “EMPTY NEST! EMPTY NEST! EMPTY NEST!” but the wife said they’ll probably be moving in with us. Oh… well, it’s been a little quiet at FAR Manor lately. There should be plenty of blog-fodder to come.

So here’s a shot of the happy couple…

Here they are!
Oh, and Daughter Dearest is teaching full-time next year! Full-time job, with benefits… maybe he’ll be the househusband. :-P

Now I need a blog name for him. “Baldy” is too obvious, so that’s out.

Friday, January 23, 2015 4 comments

Break a Leg

Tuesday night, we were sleeping snug in our bed… and the phone rang. I said “Tuesday night,” but it was technically Wednesday by then. Whatever.

It was BrandX on the line. He’s been staying with the father in law for a while, as they both tend to be up during late hours. But the old guy was making a bathroom run, and his “non-skid” slippers lived up to their name rather than their adjective, if you get my drift. THUD. By the time we got there, BrandX had pulled a chair around and got him off the floor. He had landed on his side, banging his shoulder, elbow, and hip all down the right side. There wasn’t much problem above the waist; the wife popped a bandage on his elbow where it was scraped a little. But his leg hurt, and he couldn’t move it much.

Wife called 911, and sent me home. They were going to take him to the hospital to X-ray his leg; but he refused, saying he would go in the afternoon if his leg wasn’t feeling any better by then. Of course, he backtracked on that one when the time came, but by mid-afternoon yesterday it was clear he needed to have it looked at.

And I got the call: he’d broken his hip. Oh joy. When you’re in your late 80s, surgery is always a dicey proposition, and this was going to need some help getting put back together. So they scheduled the surgery for this afternoon. Wife sent an amusing shot of some of the prep, including an awesome tinfoil hat:

“He’s ready for liftoff,” said the wife.
Good thing I was working at home today; the wife usually watches Mason, but I lined up Jam to deal with him… and then she remembered an interview she had at 2pm. He was mostly okay (except for the last half hour) until Daughter Dearest arrived to take over.

The father in law was all put back together after a few hours, and now the wife is on her way home. Him… he’s staying. The non-nutty sister is staying with him tonight, so I don’t have to worry about dealing with Mason tomorrow morning. He doesn’t fly, which is good because he’ll set off metal detectors from now on.

Friday can’t get here fast enough. Not that I’ll get much rest this weekend either.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 6 comments

Achievement Unlocked: Daughter in Law!

Saturday was the big day, and nobody ran off at the last second (although one of the bridesmaids went missing for a while). I ’d have been happier with more of our side of the family there, but The Boy also had a couple friends show up and that made him pretty happy. The wife did a video, a sort of chronological thing of the two of them growing up, then some of them together at the end. It was really nice.

So anyway, here they are…

Dearly Beloved…

As you can see, this was an outdoor affair. In August. On Planet Georgia. Needless to say, we sweated like race horses. This is why I insisted on a winter wedding for us.

A lovely bunch
Daughter Dearest was one of the bridesmaids. She told us she was sure she was going to pass out, because her dress was a bit tight. But she underestimates herself. Not only is she a strong girl, she’s been trained to stand under hot lights (chorale concerts), so she held up without any trouble. She was really pleased with how well her hairdo held up; I guess they used epoxy on it or something.

It was the bride I was worried about. She was swaying for a little while, and I was trying to whisper “bend your knees, bend your knees.” She didn’t hear me, but stayed on her feet anyway. Turned out she put on a little weight (as skinny as she is, a little weight can be a lot of difference) since they got the wedding dress, and it was a little tight on her as well.

Me and the boys
The Boy asked me to be in the wedding, and to be the best man —that was a pleasant shock. I was there with Cousin Splat, Brand X, and the bride’s brother… and Mason. Mason was in a bit of a mood, as he’d spent a long time just before the wedding doing photography poses. He heard “just one more” a few times too many, and by the time of the actual ceremony, he was ready to quit. I ended up carrying and holding him, and he fussed (quietly) until I started indicating people in the crowd and asking him if they were zombies (Traffic Cone zombie, Buckethead zombie, etc.). That got a smile out of him, but after a while he went to sit with the wife. But he came back up and did the thing where the three of them poured different colored sand into a jar. The sand can’t be separated, and so neither can they, is the idea there. Touching, really.

Newlyweds! (sweaty newlyweds)
So, woohoo! We all survived, even if we smelled like a herd of dead water buffaloes by the end of the evening. We slugged down lots of water, and then we got to do some dancing and celebrating. The happy couple is off to Orlando for a few days, and now things can settle back to the normal abnormal that is life at FAR Manor.

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