Monday, April 30, 2012

Enjoying The Evening Light With My Dad

Today was a good day.

The visit with my father in the hospital yesterday was disheartening because he was sleeping throughout my time with him. He had been sedated after becoming agitated when they put the giant mittens on his hands; the result of his trying to pull out the catheter. Cause and effect.

When I last saw him awake on Friday, he was barely coherent, could not hold a cup in his hands and was scared. Today when I walked in, he was close to what he was a week ago, before this nightmare had begun. He smiled and his eyes lit up as I walked in. He was sitting in the chair, still with the mittens but able to verbalize how unhappy he was about it. In my family, if you can bitch about must be ok.

He began to talk about things he told my brother earlier in the afternoon. About the softball team he played with, probably from the early 1960s. He knew all the guys names. Knew plays which occurred fifty years ago.  Dad, what did you have with your eggs this morning? I don't know..who fed me this morning. But that's ok.

As I fed him his pureed dinner he looked at me and said "It takes real guts to eat this shit." Indeed it does. 

We talked about his beloved St. Louis Cardinals, who pitched the night before, who would pitch tonight. Sports talk will be the last thing to leave his mind. His love for his family is evenly matched by his passion for his "birds."

I don't know how many more days I will have with him, but then tomorrow is promised to no one. I do know that as the last of the day's sun came through the hospital window, it was just him and me. It was a precious moment, a gift to be tucked away and remembered for eternity.

Love you Pops.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Life: As The Days Grow Shorter

So, the joy of picking up the new car was quickly replaced with the worry and stress of dealing with the illness of a loved one.

I've mentioned my dad in many of my posts. He turned 87 in February and up until a few weeks before that birthday, he was still driving. In the 10 weeks since, the deterioration of his health has been dramatic. In the past week, startling.

Last Saturday, he and my mother (now the driver) went to Walmart and two wine stores. He was able to walk...slowly, and choose the wine. One week later, he is in a hospital bed, unable to walk or feed himself and barely able to talk. While his motor and verbal skills had been declining, in a three-day period he became an invalid.

There are other health issues which need to be determined, but at this point, the testing is limited to what his body can tolerate...and that ain't much. His mind, is at times intact; at others...a fragment of what it once was. He is scared. You can see it in his beautiful blue eyes. The fact that his hearing is almost gone, only makes it worse for him.

We are losing him. At this point, I hope it is sooner rather than later. I can see no magic pill that will bring back the man of even a week ago. I cannot see him pulling through a surgery which I'm fairly certain would be necessary. I cannot, with the way he is now, even see him getting out of that bed. I can only pray, as a daughter who loves him with every fiber of her being, that this part of his journey will not be too difficult.

Wednesday night we picked up the new car. Thursday morning, I drove my dad to the ER. Though I hope he will have the chance to ride in it again, right now it's not looking too good.

Love you Pops.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Hated Journey Is Over: A New Car Is A Beautiful Thing

I loved my 4Runner, really I did.

She had served us well for almost 15 years. So many trips up through New England, into Canada, down to Baltimore, countless drives to Pennsylvania... and never as much as a hiccup in her giddyup.

I loved my sunroof...especially at night. Loved driving into NYC for a show or dinner and having the roof opened on the way back to Jersey. Something about driving and seeing the moon through the top of the car. I loved the room, as I've said before... I don't travel light. There was always room to fit all my supplies and purchases...well almost always.

I also loved her as she got old. There is a certain feeling you get when your car is old and you take her into the city... especially with my attitude. Don't even think of cutting me off, does this car look like I give a shit? You really think I'm gonna cry over a dent...better rethink that move Mr. Mercedes.

But just like everything else in life, all good things come to an end. Shirley (yes, that was her name) and I have gone our separate ways. And you know what..I don't even miss her. She has been replaced..with a younger model.

The new addition to the family is a 2012 Subaru Outback...charcoal grey with black interior. Picked her up last night and am looking forward to taking her out for a little spin today. Now, the size is a bit smaller, that will mean I can no longer throw everything into the back. Now I have to execute a packing plan...something I excell at by the way. It's like doing a puzzle...a challenge for which I am ready, willing and able.

The biggest issue for me is the loss of my sunroof or moonroof... whatever you call it. This car doesn't have one and I will miss it terribly. But just like when you buy a house, unless you have unlimited resources... there are concessions to be made. Those who know me, know resources ain't quite what they used to be. But I digress.

All in all, I am one happy girl this morning. There is a ride to the weekend house tomorrow and a planned road trip for next weekend. It's gonna be nice to hear the music in the car, and not the squeaks and noise from the lack of tailpipe outside of it.

Thanks Shirley, for the 172,000 miles, the fun and the memories.

Time to take out the new girl in town... and I don't even know her name yet...any suggestions?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another Bright Idea Or Is It A Dim Bulb?

In conjunction with Earth Day 2012 Phillips Electronics has introduced a new technology light bulb which can possibly last up to 20 years. A bit of overkill, don't you think?

Now with all the issues we deal with in day-to-day living, does everyone but me have such major concerns over a simple light bulb. Okay, so apparently incandescent bulbs are not energy efficient. Neither are SUVs, lawn mowers, most hot water heaters and a shitload of other things we use everyday. What incandescent bulbs cheap. On sale at Shop Rite, I can buy four bulbs for 88 cents. And they will last me a good long time. Exactly how long, I don't know...but I do know that I don't bitch about it when a bulb goes in my frame of reference, that equals a good long time.

Now don't get me started on those CFL crazy shaped bulbs. When I turn on a light, I want light...not the faint glow of a firefly and the promise of more light... eventually. Yes, instant a must for a light bulb.

So now, these new 10 watt LED bulbs can offer as much light as a 60 watt incandescent, and if used for up to 4 hours per day...can last up to 20 years. All at a cost of...are you ready, $60. yeah right, let me have a 4 pack of those suckers. According to Phillips spokesperson Ed Crawford  "Consumers are no longer looking at a product that will last just six months to a year, they are looking at a product that is much more efficient and will be with them for decades," Decades...really, for a light bulb? One that costs $60. I don't think so.

Now I'm not as young as I used to be, and I'm thinking if I buy a light bulb that is going to last for 20 years, I may not be alive when it finally goes pffft. This leaves me with decisions to make concerning chain of custody if I'm gone. Is this like owning a parrot which will surely outlive you, making it necessary to provide for it in your will? I hereby bequeath my light bulbs to...hmmm, which of my lucky relatives shall I leave them to?

Phillips says over the course of its lifetime, this bulb will save me $165. Woohoo, over 20 years, I'm saving $165 for a light bulb that has just cost me $60. Don't know about you, but I'm going to Shop Rite buying a 4-pack for $1 and taking the other $59 and buying some booze. Instant light=instant gratification. Leftover Cash=a good time in a bottle.

As for the environmental benefits derived from that $60 sucker? Well, when they stop shooting a billion pounds of chemicals into the air everyday, then talk to me about the ill effects of my 60 watt light bulbs.

Last year when Congress was about to outlaw incandescent bulbs, I started to stock up. My house was starting to look like I was preparing for Y2K all over again.

At this point I figure I have enough incandescent light bulbs to last...oh about 20 years.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Night Of Music, But Wait...A Girl's Gotta Eat

As we always do, the drum-mamma (DM) and I looked forward to getting together, not only for the musical event we were attending but also the girl thing we have enjoyed for so many years. Yesterday was no different.

Coming from two different directions, we decided to meet at the venue early and play it by ear for eats and drinks...those two things are always high on the priority list. I arrived first, drove past the venue which is on a side street and found on-street parking at the end of the block. oh yes. No paying for parking tonight and only a few steps away from the theatre. Nice. I decide to walk the block to the main thoroughfare, thinking the DM could pick me up and we could look for a parking spot for her. Walk 5 feet and she calls, she's on the main street...ok turn by the theatre and pick me up. As we are still on the phone, a car two back from where mine is parked pulls out. oh yeah. Parking problem solved...3 minutes later the DM is LHAO as she pulls into the second queen bitch parking space. We expect nothing less.

On to eat. We decide on Cuban Pete's a BYOB. Stop at the liquor store to grab a few brews and grab a table at Pete's.  As the restaurant has outdoor courtyard dining as well as indoor.. we think... it's a beautiful afternoon, sun is shining...let the girls catch some rays. Order some tapas dishes, a perfect way to sample several items without being overloaded with food. Enjoying the atmosphere, food and company...I looked at the sun starting to lower in the sky and thought of the many hours we spent in outdoor bars like this, down the shore...many, many years ago. Damn, we have downed a lot of alcohol together. But I digress.

The Wellmont Theatre is an old auditorium from back-in-the-day. It is slowly being restored and it's a great place to see a show. The DM had ordered the tix, so 11th row orchestra was where we could be found. Nice.
Lots of old rockers here tonight, and the feeling I always get of being "home" when I'm in a music venue quickly entered my psyche.

Waiting for the opening act, we started conversing with a mother-daughter team sitting next to us. Having two generations sharing a common joy over the same music gets me thinking; there still might be hope that good music will someday prevail over the drivel that tops the charts now.

The show's about to start.

Opening act: The Trews
Headliner: Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes

Check out "Back In Jersey: Rockin' With Southside Johnny" on Kat's Theory of Music for the music story of the night.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Aggravation At The Supermarket: Again

Went to Shop Rite again...and it happened again.

It wasn't crowded at all and proceeding to the checkout line, I strategically pick a line in the middle of the pack. Now in an earlier post "The Shop Rite Saga", I told the story of how idiotic the cashier protocol is, pertaining to voids and getting change. Well, the more things change...

There is one woman in front of me who is almost finished bagging her order. But wait, there's a problem. Damn. Now we gotta wait for the magical woman with the key to make everything all right. And we wait.

Ok, she's done, here we go. Check out, all goes well. Credit or debit? Debit yes, and let me take out just an extra $20. TWENTY...not $50, not $75, not $100...$20.  She does not have $20 in her drawer. Seriously...are you freakin' kidding me? How do you not have $20 in your drawer? I would have gladly just walked away without it, but it has already come out of my account. Or I could void it...and still need to wait for the magical woman with the key.

Ten minutes...I swear to took ten minutes to get my $20. And it's amazing at times like this, you can actually feel your blood pressure rise. Just when you think you are about ready to stroke-out...they bring you the money.

Fine, I'll just go out the door and collapse in the parking lot.
It has to be Happy Hour somewhere...please lead me to it.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Car Shopping: The Hated Journey Continues

Second day of car shopping. Although even that statement is a little misleading.

Years ago when you looked for a car, you watched the commercials on TV...and that was about it. When you thought you knew what type of car you wanted, you went to a dealer armed with nothing but steel toed shoes to kick the tires with. There was no internet to give you comparisons, reviews, specs or the carfax. You had nothing.

Now, buying a car is like cramming for finals. You need to research the car, compare internet offerings... blah, blah, blah. By the time you get to the dealer, you're exhausted and have a bit of an attitude problem. Well, at least I do. But I digress.

Yesterday we took a look at the Subaru Outback. A decidedly different vehicle from my 4Runner, but very nice. It handled well on the test drive and the quality of the car was impressive. There are a few interior issues to think about, but probably not deal breakers. Is it the choice...well, we have not made any commitment yet.

 Stay tuned for the next agonizing event...making the deal.

Advils and alcohol please.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Car Shopping: The Hated Journey Begins

In a previous post, "It's Not The Normal Noise In Here," I spoke of the need for a new car. Well, the search began yesterday. ugh.

Is there anything in this world, other than having a root canal, that is dreaded more than car shopping? Possibly, but at the moment, it escapes me. Which brings me to the first dealership. ugh.

After doing some research, we decided to first look at the Ford Escape. It's smaller than the 4Runner we now have, but after doing the internal cargo area measuring, thought we would take a look-see. We have a few requirements for the back of the car. It needs to fit a large cooler, a large dog and the usual supplies for the trek to the lake house each weekend. The dog, by the way, does not like to feel cramped...apparently it is in her contract. And as you may also remember about me...jersey prepared means I don't travel light.

Arrive at the dealership for an appointment with salesman "A"...a really young guy with an attitude that he was doing us a favor. Strike one. He only has the two Escape models and not the Explorer we wanted to see...but there is another Explorer he will show us. Ok, why not. He then proceeds to pawn us off on salesman "B" who walks us up to the Escapes. Very nice from the outside, can we get inside? "Oh, I gotta get the keys." Huh? Did ya not think I might want to actually get inside the car? Strike two.

Inside now, not impressive but it's ok. Measuring the cargo area, we lose 6" in length and 4" in width. Tight, but workable. Let's go for a ride. Some things I liked, some I didn't. The jury is still out on the Escape, but not out of the running yet. Can we see the Explorer salesman "A" spoke Was it a BS line he threw at us because the original Explorer was not on the lot? Don't know and don't care. Strike are out baby.

Time to go home, enough stress and aggravation for one night.
And it's only begun...ugh

I need a drink and a new car.
Can someone just bring both of them to me?
Didn't think so.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Too Hot Too Quick Today

It used to be, summers were hot and winters were cold. It was what it was and you planned accordingly. Now the game has changed.

The fall began with a Halloween snowstorm dropping  2 feet of white stuff on the ground, and that was it. Oh, there was a dusting or two, but nothing as far as accumulation. And the temperatures, a bit of real cold here and there, but it sure as hell was not a Northeast winter.

Today, we are not even a month into Spring and the projected temperature is in the 86-90 degree range. Now my house has virtually no closet space, so like a lot of other people, every spring and fall you do the clothes changeover. Well, I did it at the weekend house, but So as I look at my winter coat hanging up along with gloves and hats, I'm thinking there will be an additional chore on my to-do-pretty-damn-quick list.

Or, I can just leave them there. The way things are going, it should be getting cold by what...July?

Just waiting on the seasons. And the ice cream truck.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Opening Day in Da Bronx

Ah yes. Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.

Well, I'm not actually in the stands. Right now I'm about 90 or so miles away, comfortably watching it from the sunroom of the weekend house. Nice.

Got up here last night, so waking up on the mountain was a great way to start the day. It started out colder than the middle of January, but soon enough the sun brought out the warmth of the day.

I was able to get a walk in before the start of the game. There's a different feeling in doing something fun on a weekday, that makes it even more enjoyable than on the weekend. As I reached the top of the first hill around the lake, the music shuffle played "Girl Can't Help It" by Journey.  The kiss of the sun on my face while listening to the voice of Steve Perry was delicious, to say the least.

Back in time to see just retired Yankee catcher Jorge Posada throw out the first pitch, I grabbed some pistachios and an early afternoon beer (hey it's a baseball game). Fourth inning now, we are up 4-0.

Just a lazy day..but so far, so good.
And it's technically not even the weekend yet.

Can it get any better?
Well there is a Mega Millions drawing tonight...


Sunday, April 8, 2012

All Through The Night...It's Easter Morning

Just as there are truly wondrous moments in the time of the rising sun, so too can magic be found in the middle of the night...thanks to the light of a full moon.

Sleeplessness is a giant pain in the ass. For the most part, as long as I get more than two hours of sleep, I can function the next day. Eight hours? I don't think has happened in the past 30 years. Generally I average five...on a good night six hours. Though more and more less is the norm. Sure at some point it catches up to you and I might have a seven hour night...if it's the weekend, but otherwise you learn to live with it.

Last night as 2 o'clock became 4, thought it might be time to harness the activity in my brain instead of letting it run wild with aimless thoughts and no direction. That for me, means getting back on the computer. Checking in particular woke me up even more, and for that I am grateful (an inside joke, yes). Now for sure I'm not getting back to I start looking out the windows.

Back home, this time of the night is the same as it is at 10 or 11. Street lights on, a few cars going past, never really "black as night." But at the lake, night is night...unless there's a full moon. As I walked around at four this morning, the woods were perfectly illuminated.

Every tree has a shadow, the back field has enough light to play a game of ball and the moon itself is graced with a beautiful sideshow of thin clouds. For me, enjoying this display of nature in solitude is a true joy and one of those moments to hold on to...for as long as you can.

As the night colors of blue and white fade into the pink and yellow of the sunrise, it is now Easter morning. A new day, the ultimate day of with a choice of paths ahead. Count your blessings and choose a road filled with purpose and delight.

Happy Easter..



Saturday, April 7, 2012

Looking For Signs In All The Wrong Places

Must have really pissed off the powers that be happens.

The day began normally enough.Tweets, texts, IMs, emails...a little work, a lot of music. Damn, no wonder I get tired. But I digress.

The ride up to the weekend house was an easy drive, kids off from school means a lot less cars on the road when we travel. Unload, unpack...time to hook up the new router to replace the one that crapped out last weekend. Now, IT is not my thing, but I hooked up the first one in 15 minutes, no problem. So when I pulled the new one out of the box, I didn't expect to be doing it an hour and a half later. Everything hooked up easily, it said I was connected, but no internet access.

After a while of cursing and losing my temper with those around me (not unusual), I call up my go-to person when I run into trouble. He offers a few suggestions, but at the end of the day, he says to call the tech support line. I hate doing that, but I cannot go through another weekend with only one computer connected and especially not having my iPhone hooked into wireless. So I look all over the directions and every piece of paper that comes with the phone number. Apparently it was on the box, but never looked at that until later.

Annoyed...and I haven't had any alcohol yet, I decide to use the iPhone to go to the website and get the phone number. Soon as I hit the internet button on the phone, it starts to connect to the router...hmm. Laptop number one, not yet. Start up laptop number two...yes. Ok, not sure what is happening but let me restart number one and see if works now...indeed it does.

Back to the real world...cyberspace. All the household technology is connected and I now have a beer in my hand. I'm hoping things are looking up.

This morning when I walk the dog, I see a heads-up penny in the street. Big deal you say...well normally I wouldn't give it a second look. But here in the lake community, you never see coins in the street. Everyone either drives or walks around in one ever carries money. So, I take it as a good luck omen and pick it up...thinking it might be really bad karma if I don't. Get back home and the "other" has found the crystal which broke off  the necklace I wear. hmmm, another piece of good luck.

Where's my mega million ticket, let me check it NOW. One freakin' number. 

So as much as I would like to believe all my good luck signs will actually turn into good luck, I guess it's just another day with small joys and medium sized disappointments. It still is Saturday, the sun is shining and the whole day awaits. Time to consider the possibilities and jump in.

Still, another few mega numbers would have been nice. Maybe the next drawing...


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Taking Time To Give Thanks

During the course of a lifetime, there are so many things we take for granted. Family, health and time...being the top three. Last night I was able to remind myself that none of the three is a given.

Spent the evening with some old friends who had moved quite a distance away some years ago...mainly I believe for a better climate for one of them.  As it turns out, that was a great decision. Physically, she is in so much better condition than the last time I saw her, it is astounding. Better lifestyle and better living through pharmacology.

On the other hand, her husband developed a life-threatening and life-changing illness. The road has been long and difficult, but hopefully the worst is behind him. In any case, this previously imposing figure is now a shadow of what he was. But he is the same wonderful man with a dry sense of humor, and a man who always brings a smile to my face.

As we sat around my brother's dining room table eating Chinese takeout, the talk never really addressed the illness that is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. We didn't need to. We all know what he had gone through, what lies ahead and what we don't know might lie ahead.

No, last night was just a chance to see the faces that, just like ours, have changed so much over the years. A time to drink a glass a wine and to share a meal. A simple night, with simple conversation. A time to catch up and enjoy the trash talk and humor which defines our "family."

A time to remember that family, health and time are not to be taken for granted. They are to be taken as gifts meant to be appreciated daily.

This is my way of giving thanks.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

First The Wildcats, Next The Yankees

Oh yeah.

Time to plan for the championship parade.
Yes indeed, Kentucky has won the 2012 NCAA Basketball Championship, but that's not the parade I'm talking about. No, my friends...I'm referring to the 2012 World Series Championship parade which if the past is any indicator...will he held in NYC this fall. YANKEES Baby!

 Apparently the World Series win is in the bag because of the connection with the Kentucky Wildcats winning the NCAA tournament. In the years 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996 and 1998, Kentucky won it all. Jump to the fall of those years, so did the Yanks. It was only when the Wildcats won their first title that the Yankees were not crowned as well.

Now, do I want to skip the entire season and watch the parade pass me in the Canyon of  I have too much love of the sport to give up my 162 games of heaven. But it does send me into this Friday's opening day with a bit of a chip on my shoulder (ok a bigger chip). It's like Yogi said "Deja Vu all over again."

I think I hear Aunt Bethany singing..
"O say does that Star Spangled banner yet wave
o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave...Play Ball"

ah yes, the Boys of Summer...batter up.