Monday, March 31, 2008


This morning, at 8 AM, I could see the surface of my entire driveway for the first time since about Christmas. This shot was taken about 10 AM. The thawing of the septic system will take a little longer.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ah Shit

Just when things are starting to thaw we get this:

Monday: Periods of snow, mainly after 10am. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 37. East northeast wind between 11 and 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible.

Monday Night: Snow likely. Cloudy, with a low around 26. Blustery, with a north northeast wind between 17 and 21 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Looks like we are on water rationing for a while longer.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


That's the word of the day (yesterday too). Hard to tell the cause. Could be longer term effects of the experimental chemo drug I am doing (almost done with week four now). Could be low blood counts. Could be teenagers. Might be all of the above.

Yesterday I felt like I was carrying around a whole other body. I just wanted to go back to bed and lie down. Finally got my chance and was just drifting off when my son called needing a pick up at school. Groan.

Today is a much lazier day for me. Slept in a little, took care of the dog, made coffee, did some financial's. Then it was back to bed with the morning paper and a little "not quite sleeping, but not really here either" type activity.

Another puzzling condition that has appeared is that of joint pain. My left hip is the most significant, but I am also feeling it in some of the joints in my left hand. My neck is likewise sore and stiff. Again, it is hard to know what the cause might be. One of the rarer side effects of this chemo drug is joint pain, so it may be that. I can put up with it if the drug is doing positive things to the lymphoma.

Other than that, we are still waiting for significant signs of spring. Mostly, I want the septic system to thaw. That won't happen until the ground thaws and that won't happen until the snow melts completely over the frozen pipe and the frozen ground finally warms up. We need prolonged temps up over the freezing mark and that hasn't happened so far.

I was up north in the middle of last week to meet with our builder and to complete some of the financial arrangements needed to go forward with the renovation of my mother's old place. It was there that I received the call from my son that the septic alarm had gone off about midnight the night before. The kids did the right thing. They disconnected the alarm and used minimal water the next morning. I was able to call the plumber from up north and arrange for him to come over and pump the tanks before we wound up with sewage all over the lower floor.

I was having this conversation as I was leaving town with the car headed south in order to get home in time for a quick cleaning before a prospective house buyer appeared for a showing. Fortunately, the kids did a pretty good job of picking up their rooms before heading for school so there was a minimal amount of policing that I had to do. Then it was off to the doctor's with the boy so he could get his track physical out of the way while the house was being shown.

I hate these showings but we need to get more folks through the house if we expect to sell it in a reasonable amount of time. The remodeling of my mom's place (now my place) is getting close to the start date and I would feel a whole lot better if I knew I wouldn't be sitting on two properties for an extended period of time.

It will work out is my current mantra. What else can I say?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Where's Spring?

After seven days of sun and surf with temps in the high eighties (about 30 C for the rest of the world) we came home to this late last night. What a rude transition.

Still, it was so nice to sleep in my own bed even if I did have to pile the blankets on.

We have a quiet house this morning. The girl is off at a track competition. The boy is hibernating in his room. I have yet to go and pick up the dawg from her foster family. We have no food or milk in the refrigerator, so that will have to be remedied. Then there is the laundry smelling of sun-block and sand.

It was nice to get away to somewhere warm for a while. My dry skin has a new lease on life and I avoided getting sunburned (not so for the larvae). I got to explore a whole new world of mango drinks (the mangotini was one of the favorites). I went through two and a half books as I lay in my beach hammock. And no one seemed to fall prey to any gastro-intestinal invasions (if we don't count the morning the boy felt a little barfy).

So, all-in-all, a good time. Now it is back to the reality of life - bills, taxes, frozen septic systems, groceries, and laundry. Looking forward to spring.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Sorry for the inactivity on the web-site. We are in Mexico at a resort that is all-inclusive – except for internet access. That’s extra. So I have put off shelling out until we were about halfway through our stay.

This is my third time to Mexico and the first for the kids. We are at a large and fancy resort about fifty miles south of Cancun. The place is huge and full of kids and parents on spring break. It’s the kind of place that I once swore I would never be caught. Funny how life ends up making you eat those kinds of things.

If given the choice, I would pick a different sort of spot for a Mexican vacation, but this one is not about me and my desires. It’s about my daughter and her senior spring break trip, which she has been planning for years now. For teenagers, this is a spot that offers many distractions and constant entertainment. For an old bum like myself, it offers a hammock out of the sun and proximity to one of many bars that happily dispenses whatever concoction my fancy wishes. On top of that, I have a supply of books and an air-conditioned room to retreat to when the frenzied activity on the beach becomes too much.

I will upload some pictures when I get home (or maybe before). I am not sure how fast this connection is and I don’t want to use up my allotted time too fast.

Anyway, that’s a short update. We are all fine and not too sunburned after almost four days. More later.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Beach Bum

A beach bum is the next role called for on the stage of life - a role that I shall enjoy and have found to be eminently suited to my personality. I use the term "bum" loosely in this context as we will be inmates in one of those resorts where you are processed like cattle as you arrive but instead of a staple through the ear you get a bracelet that is then used to procure all that you might need of life's necessities including watery drinks should you be able to make your way through the queue to the bar.

This is all part of a scheme of my daughter's that has been years in the making. It is an annual event somewhat like the increased activities of the little birds here abouts where they flit around playing tag and looking over potential nesting sites. Every year my daughter would plead to be allowed to go to Mexico with her buds who seem to make the trek each spring to one of those all inclusive resorts that would be hard to distinguish from Miami Beach except there are probably more Anglo's at the resort. And each year I stare at her like she has grown a second head and explain that such a vacation is a huge waste of money and we would be missing one of the finest parts of the year here where we would be able to see the glacier that is our driveway slowly melt into mud (unless there is one of the usual late season snow storms that dumps about a foot of heavy, wet snow the consistancy of oatmeal on god's own country as we like to think of it).

This year she must have hit me when I was off my meds (or on them, or something) because I said, "OK." So here we are, 10:30 at night (on a school night), packing our bags for an early departure tomorrow with about 3,000 of our closest personal friends who have succumbed to the same lunacy as we have. The fins, snorkel, and mask are in the bag, as are the sandals, wet socks, swimsuits, books, enough sunblock to last three years, spare shoes, wet suit, all of my tropical shirts (thanks Barb), and about twenty DVD's (Joe, it's the BEACH man).

The dog is visiting her other family (thanks, guys - you know who you are) and hopefully will be able to provide a bit of healing therapy to them as she does to us.

I have gone past the point of wondering what I have forgotten. I need only to concentrate on making sure I have the passports, the boarding passes, and a couple of credit cards. The rest is gravy.

I plan on laying under a grass shelter or a palm tree with a book in one hand and an umbrella drink in the other while I peruse all of the politics of beach bed territoriality. I plan on taking the trusty laptop and hope there is a connection down there. With any luck, you will see me embarrassing my children by wearing my much maligned speedo that I found laying on the ground at the Winnipeg Folk Festival some decades ago. Lucky you.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Foo-foo (or Fu-fu)

One of the great unanswered questions in the world is "Where does lint come from?" And by that, I don't mean your run-of-the-mill dryer lint. That obviously comes from the lint troll who lives under your dryer. No, I mean lint that appears out of thin air and attacks one from all directions like thousand of silent ninjas.

It began innocently enough. A trip north so my son could spend a day with his cousin at the high school he plans to attend next fall and a visit with money men and the builder to do some further work on the home remodeling plans.

Since my son had no school last Thursday and Friday due to conferences, we drove up Thurday morning, talking about music, cars, and other matters that fall into the somewhat narrow and selective region of subjects suitable for discussion between a teenage boy and his father. The two hour drive was uneventful and after making a stop for some sandwiches for the boy, I left him at the empty house (armed with the lap-top and a couple of car magazines) while I went off for a three hour session with the financial juju men.

On the way home from there, I stopped off for essential supplies in the form of a growler of beer from the local brew-pub and happily passed the time until we took off for pizza with one of my brothers and his daughter.

I should have been suspicious because things had been going all together too smoothly all of this time. The car had been running flawlessly. My son had been in a pleasant and agreeable mood (he's fifteen). The dog stayed in the yard when let out the door for her infrequent needs. And we were still able to pirate a WIFI signal from somewhere in the neighborhood. Too smooth.

So, as I backed out of the driveway and turned the wheel to align myself with the street, I managed to brush the snowbank with the front driver's side of the car. Now normally, this would be no large deal, but this was March in a town that had seen a lot of snow early on, but not much lately which meant that this snowbank had the consistency of granite.

Long time readers may recall out of the mists of time, a story about a patch of black ice combined with poor judgment on my part that led to a series of educational explorations into auto body repair, fender removal, and the sobering costs of plastic bumper skins.

It was with these memories surging to the foreground that I heard the sickening crunch that my previously pristine bumper made with Mt. Rocky on the way out of the drive. My son in the next seat was oblivious to what just happened just as the passengers on the ill fated Titanic were when there was a slight tremor under their feet that cold and starry night so long ago. Oh for the days of yore when bumpers were made of spring steel designed to shear off small to medium sized trees without a flinch.

Upon arrival at the pizza place downtown, I confirmed the worst - the plastic bumper skin was cracked right on the corner - not horribly, but defiled none the less. No more car shows for that baby.

For me, the night was now cast with a slight pawl. I soldiered on gamely, not wanting to take anything away from the wonderfully greasy pizza and pitcher of beer that awaited me, but inside I was mourning.

My son left with my brother and his cousin when our repast was finished and I wandered aimlessly for a bit before heading home.

The next day proved to be one where I could not get out of bed. I could have been the two Cosmos the night before, or the lateness of the hour when I finally put my head down, but I suspect it was the benadryl that I took to lessen the still present itching. Or maybe all of the above. In any event, I slept far longer that I am accustomed to doing and woke feeling befuddled and at odds as I wandered the strange house that will become my home sometime in the near future. It is bereft of furniture but full of memories. I marvel at how small it seems without anything in it and I wonder how we used to fit so many people into it.

I attempted to make coffee with the supplies I so thoughtfully brought up with us. I had a whole box packed with Maleeta pot, coffee grinder, tupperware container of beans, thermos, insulated mug, teapot for boiling water, and no filters. What a bonehead I am. Somehow, a morning glass of water just isn't the same.

I idled the remains of the day away with a little reading, a little browsing, and a long walk with the Wonder Dawg around the old neighborhood. Everywhere I went I was cascaded with memories of covering the same ground with much younger feet. There was the place I picked up a bird drunk on fermented mountain ash berries and confined it in my pocket to be released later in study hall. There was a place where we built a fort in the woods and played doctor with the girl from down the block. There was a place where we hid racy magazines to be endlessly read and fantasied over until they dissolved into pulp fibers from overuse and exposure to weather. One can go home again, but not to the same time.

My son finally came home from his trial day at the high school, chilled to the bone from his walk home. True to teenagers everywhere, he had left home without sufficient clothing and no hat while he hoofed it to his cousin's and from there the six blocks to the high school. As soon as he walked in the door, he jammed the knit winter hat down over his ears and left it there for the next six hours.

Now warmly clad, we headed out to visit the architect who works with the builder who will wave his magic wand at our little house and turn it into an empty wallet. I have to say that it is very fun to watch my son get so involved in the planning stages of this project. We spent a happy hour pouring over drawings and plans and finished up by looking at the three dimensional concept twirling around in circles on a computer looking very much like a nicer version of Dorothy's house in the Wizard of Oz.

My son then abandoned me once again for the lure of his cousin's house, but then I got a call from a friend from down south who was up in the northern climes on a work errand and so we went off for a bite to eat followed by a poker game.

Now, I have written of these poker games before on these pages and won't boor those of you who are familiar with this group of geezers and geezerettes that have been gathering for a good many years to hurl insults at each other across the table as the tides of fortune move a small pile of nickels, dimes, and quarters from one location on the warn baize covering to another. Suffice it to say that it is always a special time and being able to introduce a new fish to the pool makes it extra special - especially when they say, "How do you play this again?"

It was sometime late in the game when it struck. It came out of now where, silently, and with deadly accuracy. At first, I didn't even realize that I had been hit. It wasn't until my friend, the newbie at the table started laughing everytime she looked at me that I suspected something was not right.

It was one of those deals where you know something is wrong, but you are not sure what. Was it my fly? No, I was sitting down at a table. Likewise, I could rule out the toilet paper stuck to the shoe and my skirt tucked into the top of my panties. But when I involuntarily looked down (see previous disaster checks) I found to my horror, that I was covered head to foot in little specks of lint. I mean covered.

It looked like I had gone swimming in a pool of Styrofoam bits or if I had taken a nap under the outlet of an insufficiently filtered industrial dryer network. My black pile pullover was speckled with little hitch-hikers. Likewise my pants.

What had gotten my friend going were a few errand lint balls that had settled on my mustache and which threatened to fly off every time I opened my mouth to speak. The ensuing events threatened to end the solemn church like atmosphere with which the rites of poker are carried out and indeed capped the end to that particular evenings festivities as I hopped around trying to shake off the offending trash particles while everyone else descended into ever increasing sub-levels of junvinality as they speculated where I could have come up with such an attractive look and by what nick-name I should now be known as given my speck-tackular appearance.

I am now Foo-foo.


It is now Day-6 of the experimental drug regime and I am not noticing any untoward side effects. I am not smarter nor better endowed. My hair is still thinning and I still don't understand tax law.

This is all a bit disappointing, but I will let you know if things change.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Let Me Know if I Grow a Tail (or Tale)

Today was laundry day, which meant that since the temps are still below freezing and the ground is as hard as a rock, my septic system is still frozen and I was off to the laundromat for the wash portion of this little domestic chore. Actually, I had to go out anyway because I needed to make bread as well and I was out of yogurt (organic of course), which is the dairy portion of the bread I make.

It was also the day I started my experimental drug that I picked up yesterday at the Mayo, down south. Little pills packaged up in a way that would make an environmentalist weep. I nearly needed a cold chisel to get the little suckers out.

So now I am sitting around waiting to get cured, or grow hair on the palms of my hands, or break out in terminal hives or (hey, wait, I did that already). To tell you the truth, I feel fine. I'm still itching from the little gift my son passed on but I think it is getting better.

The bread is down and airing out on the cooling rack. The laundry is done and dried and folded and sorted into the appropriate baskets for the larvae to pick up when they want. The pills were ingested first thing this morning and the little "drug diary" filled out. It's getting dark out now.

I have cut the broccoli and the potatoes but I will wait on my daughter to wake up from her nap before putting the chicken in. The boy is off on his last ski night of the school year and will need to be picked up about nine tonight.

He and I are going up north on Thursday with the Wonder Dawg. He wants to "shadow" his cousin at her high school, which he hopes to enroll in come fall. I will meet with the architect who is doing the design for the house remodel and chase around some other details related to the same. Maybe squeeze in a poker game. If I don't have hairy palms that is.