Sunday, December 19, 2010

Written in the stars....

Lately it has felt as though we went from Summer right into Winter around here.  Temperatures the last couple of weeks have had highs in the 30's.  It has meant that we have had crystal clear skies except for when it is raining or snowing.

I often pickup our youngest son, almost 11 years old, from his after school care program.  One day this past week the sky was remarkably clear and there were no clouds at all.  When I picked him up it was about 5pm.  As I was commenting to him about the sky I couldn't believe I could already see a star and I pointed it out to him.  It wasn't quite sunset yet.  I told him it had to be a planet, but I didn't know which one other than I knew it wasn't Venus (not bright enough) or Mars (not red enough and too bright).  When we got to the car I whipped out my Droid X phone, pulled up Google Skymap, and saw right away that it wasn't one planet, but two.  Jupiter and Uranus were actually very closely aligned at that spot.

Christmas cards have gone out, but we may need to make some more.  The picture above is what we used on them.  It is one of the few (maybe only) that we have were everyone is smiling (mostly) and none of the clowns (boys) is goofing off.  Those with children, and especially boys, might understand the difficulty of that task.  My friend Liz says she only asks that they get one picture a year where everyone is smiling.

We got together with my dad, mom, and my brothers last week.  It was a good time.  We set up a wireless router/firewall for my dad.  Evidently there were legends being formed about how slow their internet access was.  My brother said he thought it might be the firewall, and they were trying to convince my dad to get our mom a laptop with wireless she could use throughout the house anyway.  When we got the router working, we looked at the computer.  It was really slow.  I probably could have driven to California and back to get printouts of the Ebay web page faster than it was loading on the computer.  After running through a few things I normally look at to help speed things up, I found the problem.   He only had 384MB of RAM in his computer.  I explained the concept of electrical information storage in RAM versus mechanical storage on the hard drive, and how electrons move near the speed of light, while a hard drive spins at something far less than that.  I told him was using more than twice the amount of RAM that he had and that everything was having to go to and come from the disk.  I said that most computers out there today come with 4GB of RAM as a standard, 10 times what he had.  I used an analogy that if the average car in the US has 150HP, he had 15HP and was equivalent to cruising the information superhighway on a riding lawnmower.

Last night we got together with my aunts and uncles from SC.  Beth and Joe live here in VA, but Larry and Jerri came up for a surprise visit this week.  It was the first time that SGG had met Larry and Jerri.  I didn't warn her first either.  If the boys had come, I would have warned them.  Lots of stories were told about them, about me (which SGG soaked up), and there was some drinking and karaoke.  It was a lot of fun and always too short.  When they start telling stories about me though, I quickly realize that my son is just like me in many ways, so there may be hope for him yet.  :-)

I pulled the middle and tallest child out of bed yesterday morning and dragged him down to the gym.  He is starting to play basketball and I figured it would be good to get down there and practice some.  We were there for an hour and a half and he worked hard the whole time.  He has some talent, and he has the height of a big guy, so if he practices he will do very well.  Once you get him practicing, he doesn't want to stop.  Of course, I am the one that is really sore for some reason.  :-)

We are ready for Christmas.  I think.  SGG still wanders out and comes back with last minute items almost every day.  We got the boys 15oz mugs with their pictures and names on them.  The idea is that it becomes 'their' mug.  The only thing they are allowed to drink out of.  If it is dirty, they wash it.  My friend Jeff in Richmond took his girls to a pottery place and they painted and glazed their own plates and bowls too.  I love that idea and it is next on the list.  :-)

I hope everyone has a great holiday, Christmas, Chanuka (Hanukka), Kwanzaa, Winter Celebration, Vacation, Snow Days, Boxing Day, Solstice Days, School and Work off days, , and a great new year!

edited to add:
Technology often can bring more problems than it solves, but in the hands of the right person it can do amazing things.  My brother is an avid adventurist and dabbles in videography (cinematography?).  The GoPro video cameras are tiny HD cameras meant to be mounted on helmet cams and other things to capture some of what many extremists do.  Many people are now using improvised booms and other tricks to get awesome points of view on many day to day things, not just the outrageously adventurous.  Below is just such a video of our time over at my parents place last weekend...technology is truly magical when it can capture the spirit and the views of a child at Christmas...


(Actually, I need to see if he can give me a different link.... )


:-)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stuffing, Stuffed, and Stuff...

Not necessarily in the order the title suggests.

So, it would seem that things break a lot around here.  Refrigerator shelves, washing machines, computers, xboxes, cars, wall hangings, etc.  There seems like no end to the stuff that needs to be done.  Even the blog needs work.  The back ground of this site drives me nuts, but I haven't decided what I want to replace it with.

One of the FEW things of mine that we kept in the merger of the two households was my kitchen knives.  I have a nice set of VERY sharp kitchen knives.  I'm not allowed to use them.  When I do, I get to play doctor and use words like "laceration" "multiple lacerations" "sutures" "butterfly stitches" with duct, scotch, or any other type of tape laying nearby.  I haven't tried super glue yet though.  SGG did drop a knife this week and on the way down it stuck vertically into the side of the cabinet.

I went to Knoxville, TN for the funeral of my step-brother Steve.  While I hated the circumstances, I loved being with my family there.  I was really overwhelmed at how the community and their church responded and helped Wanda and Brianna out.

I got to do a presentation at a lunch and learn with my friends in Richmond on November 11.  I am already very attention deficit, and when I do public speaking, I have to be very careful to try and stay on track.  I easily fall into anecdotes and then lose where I am and where I am going.  Sometimes I compensate by going really fast just to get through it.  This time though, I could hardly talk as I had mostly lost my voice.  To make things just a bit funnier, my friend Jeff changed up some of my slides and didn't tell me.   He took some of my more cluttered ones and spread them out a bit.  I kept looking at the slides thinking "I just did this slide, sort of".  All was good though.  I loved talking to the customers and my friends afterward too.

For Thanksgiving we haven't done a lot.  The boys went to their respective bio-parents so it has just been SGG and I.  It has been GREAT!  We love our kids, but having some alone time is awesome too!

This video below is something that I started working on in the summer.  A piano piece that my book blew open to one day while the door was open and I just started playing it.  It is one of my all time favorite pieces too.  This version is simple, but I still manage to mess up a few spots (I get so easily distracted either by things going on around me, or just the thoughts running amok in my head).  I was trying to record it for our wedding, but was just to jittery to do it.  The song is Pachebel's Canon.  I hope you enjoy it.  I'll also be doing this and  Auld Lang Syne for my recitals in December.




I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 01, 2010

We dressed up as hikers for Halloween....

and all we got when trick or treating was these pictures...

The hiking also gave me lots of time to contemplate on the loss of my step-brother, a truly wonderful person.  We did two four mile hikes, one in St. Mary's Wilderness off the Blue Ridge Parkway and the other was part of the Rip Rap trail just past Chimney Rock on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  Where are the kids?  The younger two were with their dad, and the older one was with his grandparents.  Two of them carved pumpkins and those pictures are below too...



Sunday, October 31, 2010

The meaning of life is to live...

and our lives take us on journey's that we never imagined were possible.  Great things happen, not so great things happen, and often some pretty terrible things happen.  

In 1989 my mom re-married to a man named Gary, a great thing.  Gary is a truly incredible and amazing person.  I have been very fortunate to have Gary in my life. 

Gary also had two adult children, a son and a daughter.  I don't remember the first time that I met Gary's son Steve, but I remember the second very well.

In 1998, my son had just turned 1 year old.  We drove down to see my mom for a surprise visit.  I let Gary know we were coming, but we didn't tell my mom.  As far as surprises go, it was the best ever.  That week, we spent a lot of time with Steve and his wife Wanda, and I left with memories that will last a lifetime.  It was truly an incredibly happy moment in my life.  After that visit I made a collage picture of what we did and it has been hung up everywhere I have gone.  There is a photo of Steve, Wanda, my son Brandon, his mom, and myself that I put in the center of that collage.  Steve was a very smart business person, a dedicated husband, a loving father, and a genuinely great human being.

October 29, 2010, a Friday night, Steve was driving by himself and was killed in a head on collision.  I still cannot accept that he is gone and that there is nothing anyone can do about it.  Steve was taken from this world far too early, he will be missed, and he will be very fondly remembered.  He was married to Wanda for just over 13 years, and they have a beautiful 10 year old daughter together.






Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

An exercise you should do....

Into recycling and renewable energy?  Into conservation?

Try this for a day....then pass it on.

Go without your internal plumbing and running water for one day.

Get some bottled water as your only water source and see how often you wash your hands and how much water you use doing it, how often you use water for the most mundane tasks.  How often you need water to flush a toilet.  How about taking a shower?  Washing dishes?  Preparing meals.

As an alteration on this exercise, you can opt to get water by the bucketful from your furthest outside faucet for drinking, washing, bathing, etc to simulate getting water from a river or some other source.

There are many people on this planet that do not have the luxury of clean and reliable water.  In many countries, farming and industry are polluting the few sources of water these people have.

You can also do the same with food, electricity, cars, etc.  Take a day to remind you and your children how well you have things and how much others on this planet lack.  Could you even walk to a local store to pick up food to eat for a day in your area?

There are some shoes you just can't really know what it is like to wear until you put them on and do it yourself.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The day to day stuff....

Finally, the weather is changing!!!!  Temperature feels like the low 60s for something like the first time since April.  No more 100/90/high 80's days!!!!!!!  I'm on the back porch, sitting on the futon with the mac book pro my work gave me (more on that later), watching the earth spin and take the sun from below the horizon through it's daily trek through the sky.  The instant the light hit my face it started warming it up.

So, no honeymoon until December.  We decided to wait until the kids were with their respective other parents and then go some where like Utah or Colorado to go snowboarding/skiing, snow shoeing, etc.

So what have we been doing in the mean time?  Not a lot.  Taking a break from all the wedding preparations!

We have been focused on the day to day routine.  SGG and I both work, but we work semi-staggered schedules.  I go into work earlier in the morning and come home earlier, she goes in a little later, and comes home a little later.  My son Brandon goes to an out of district school and so we must provide transportation for him.  SGG takes him in the morning, and I pick him up in the afternoon.  It makes for a much longer commute now for SGG, but she gets about 20 minutes alone with him every day.  We had definitely talked about this a lot even before I moved in July.  Her sons Michael and John both ride the buses to their schools.  In the afternoons, I get home with Brandon about the same time that Michael gets home.  They are required to get chores and homework done before they can go out or play on computer/xbox.  Our chores are setup so that they just have a couple of small tasks that should take them 5-10 minutes each.  We haven't been too strict on them yet, so that they could get used to it, but we are clamping down on that.  Outside of that, they are free to do pretty much what they want to do.  The boys organize different things to do together, or go off with different friends, or go off to different structured activities.  It gives them time both together and apart.

SGG and I coordinate dinner.  A few times a week I'll cook stuff and a few times a week she does.   We both go to the store to get things we need.  I have a few things that I do, such as piano lessons and sports, that take some coordinating too.  Softball was supposed to end this week, but we had two rain out nights and so we will have two makeup games.  Volleyball started last week, but I couldn't go to the first game (more on that in a second).  The boys have scouts, and two will be starting a lacrosse clinic on Sundays this weekend.

So mostly mundane routine.  SGG and I try to make sure we have time to talk in both the early morning and in the evening (being rather strict on bed time routine on the boys).  We pick a show that looks interesting, get it on itunes or netflix, and watch that together.  We'll often lay in bed and watch them on the Mac Book Pro.  Currently we are watching Dexter, in season 4, and I'm not sure if we are life imitating art or art imitating life.  I am also trying to sync up the two different camera feeds from the wedding and that is proving a little difficult.  :-)

SGG and I had planned a whitewater rafting trip for the week after the wedding, but she started reading about the Gauley River and decided she would be better off relaxing at home.  After doing my own reading and finding out after the trip that an Ocoee River Guide drowned there the weekend of our wedding, I think she was the smarter of the two of us.  However, I wasn't backing out of the group since almost everyone else did.  So, there were four of us that went.  It is a 6 -7 hour drive from here to Fayetteville, WV.  Those of us that went have known each other for a couple of years so it was a good ride up.  We were going to raft the Lower Gauley River.  Good choice.  It is a good combination of challenging and relaxing without being too life threatening.  I got thrown out once on a huge hit/bounce that I expected to go a different way, and was in the water again, but held on with my legs and awesome abs as the raft seemed to go sideways and almost flipped.  Other than that, I was on the front of the raft the whole time, soaked by rapid after rapid the whole day, and thoroughly loved the experience.  Wildwater Expeditions, and our guide Karen, were fantastic.  The bus ride to and from the river was every bit as exciting as the rapids.  :-)  I left Friday afternoon and came back Sunday evening.

That same weekend, my son spent the weekend with the boy scouts and participated in their Scout Olympics.  He had a fantastic time too.  He shared a tent with a boy from Germany (his parents are here with NATO).

SGG's boys were with their dad for the weekend.

SGG spent some time with some of her girlfriends, and got a massage on Sunday morning (which on Sunday morning I was quite jealous of).

Brandon and I had an interesting excursion this week.  We decided that we both wanted to see Inception.    When I picked him up from school, we checked the Droid X to see where it was playing.  I then called SGG to see what she thought (she has seen it already) and to see if she had other plans for us or not.  She thought it was a brilliant idea.   She took Michael to see Despicable Me after she got home.  Brandon and I got to the theater about 10 minutes late.  Since there was no one watching it, they hadn't started the movie or the previews.  It was like Brandon and I had our own theater and they played the movie specifically for us.  What a great movie too!  So much to think about, so many layers.

Remnants of tropical storm Nicole rolled through here Thursday, shutdown work due to flooding for part of the day, and rained out my softball game.

Friday night I played my first game of indoor sixes coed volleyball.  We had a great time and got creamed every game.  We have a lot of inexperienced players (myself included) and are usually just happy to get a couple of points.  We are getting better though.  My legs really hurt this morning....getting old.  SGG and I are looking to do some local hikes today.  We also have a DATE NIGHT tonight!  Brandon is with his Grandparents this weekend going to the mountains and apple orchards.  Michael is spending the day with a friend of his, and John will be with us most of the day.

:-)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It isn't finished, it isn't just beginning...it is something else entirely

A chapter has ended, but another has begun...and one of many with these same characters.  SGG did a great job pulling this all together.  She had some fantastic help from our friends Carol and Andrea.  The wedding was about as perfect as anyone could hope for.  The boys did their part, I didn't do too badly, and SGG was perfect.  The weather was fantastic, the minister was awesome, and the catering was incredible.

Our wedding was Saturday afternoon, about the time most of the back yard would be in the shade of the trees (it was a lucky guess).  The boys did an affirmation, and two of them read scripture (Old and New testaments).  The ceremony was short and amazing.  Everyone seemed to have a great time!  The kids especially.  :-)  You can see in pictures and video below.

Some funny conversations with the boys:

Friday night before the wedding, we were talking with the boys at the table.  SGG's oldest son, Michael the soon to be 12 yr old, asked "Mom, are you going to cry at the wedding?"  SGG responded with "Maybe, are you?"  Michael said, "Am I supposed to?"

Saturday night, after being admonished by me for taking 2 liter soda bottle to throw and explode on the street, my son says his uncle, my brother, "If you don't want to get me in serious trouble, you might want to hide the video!"  My brother, unperturbed, said "The question is still, did he or did he not have a mentos?"  :-)  Some of those videos are below....

As for this chapter, it is just beginning, but I learned early Monday morning that for a fellow blogger, his book had ended.  Jim Everson, Depot Dad, fellow single dad, courageous soul, and inspiration to those that knew him or read his blog, lost his battle with cancer.  Keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.  You can read a little more here and here.

My new brother-in-law sent SGG and I these thoughts:

FAITH….
Is not being able to see the Ocean at the end of a small stream…
But believing in your heart that it is there …waiting to embrace.

Our Real Journey…
Begins midstream…having navigated the hazards and falls and currents
Which life and former love threw at us…
Only to prepare us for our one Matched Soul.



video

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The List

The list.  The list of things that need to be done for this or that.  The list of things for the wedding.  The list of things to buy for school supplies.  The list of things that need to be done for the boys to go to school.  The list of things that need to be put away.  The list of things that need to be fixed.  The list of groceries that need to be bought to replace that which the boys eat.  There is at least 1 gallon of milk everyday that gets added to that list.

You could put it all into one monster list.  A list that is alive.  It grows.  It changes.  It cannot be completed.  So we add things to the list like, "Have fun", "see a movie", "get sushi", "go hiking", "go kayaking", "go bike riding", "write in your damn blog."

This morning it is very cool outside.  Not exactly crisp, but very comfortable.  Waking up, I started toward the kitchen to make some coffee.  There are three boys strewn about the living room.  One is mine, one is SGG's, the other is not ours.  They were up late watching a movie.  I am hoping they weren't up all night.  There is popcorn all around, and cushions for various incarnations of forts.  There is a fourth boy, SGG's youngest, somewhere else in the house.  I quickly read through email, news, and computer news, then grab a cup of coffee and head outside.

The temperature is around 70 or so, very little humidity.  I call it perfect.  The sun is rising.  I walk around front, through the wet grass to get the paper.  The grass and dew feel amazing to my feet.  There are crickets and other bugs chirping.  There are blue jays screeching and flying about catching chirping bugs.  We can hear other smaller birds in the hedges.  A pair of cardinals has taken up residence in the hedges too.  Occasionally there are some gigantic crows cawing, and we have an Osprey that seems to lose it's way, or get really excited from time to time.  The cat loves to join us on the back porch to investigate all these sights and sounds too.  The tree rats, otherwise known as squirrels, are running all around.  They are cute, but the pine cone chips they chew up are annoying.  I am pretty sure they are throwing pine cones at the cat.  I don't blame them for that last part, but I pick the cat over them.  The mess the squirrels make is horrendous.

We are a little low on creamer today, so I experimented.  NOT worth repeating.

I think a boy on a bike just passed by pulling his little sister on something that looked like a scooter with a string.

The wedding list is nearly complete.  The boys are ready for school.  The chores lists have been posted.  The rules lists have been made.  The lawnmower will be fixed today.  The list of things SGG is no longer allowed to do is growing so that things like the lawnmower don't keep breaking.  The washing machine is next to be rectified, and SGG didn't have anything to do with it breaking.  The ice maker on the refrigerator needs to be investigated, ducting into the the computer room needs to be re-sized, various small problems with my computer network continually plague me.  We are splitting up the nights for cooking and I need to get some groceries for those nights.  Right now, breakfast needs to be made.  :-)

My son's great grandparents celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last night.  You just think about that for a little while.

We went to Busch Gardens yesterday.  We really had the best time.  It wasn't very crowded.  The youngest boy didn't want to ride the roller coasters, so after we road the Lochness Monster and the Griffon, SGG and her son John went to watch the animal shows.  I took her oldest, Michael, and my son Brandon to ride the rest of the roller coasters.  The lines were very short every where.  The Alpengeist was closed.  We rode in the front of Apollo's Chariot.  The boys loved that.  Their hair was blown almost completely backwards from the wind.  We then went back to ride the Griffon in the front row.  By that time we had to meet SGG and John back at Big Ben.  On the way back we went through some of the animal exhibits.  The boys got to "pet" a boa constrictor.  We also saw a wallaroo.  They had pictures of a two toed sloth up and I asked about it.  They said they do have one, but it is in training that day.  That really puzzles me.  What do you train something that rarely moves and just hangs around to do?  We saw an Owl on the way back too.  The weather was so nice, and while there were a lot of people, it really wasn't very crowded.  It really was a great time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Changes and more changes...

Changing some pictures and stuff on the blog.  Let me know what you think, but only as long as you like it.  :-)  I am not a HTML, CSS, JAVA person, but I play (hunt) around for what I want and sometimes come out with something that is close enough.  The background image here is one of those things.  I created a collage in Google's Picasa, basically making a border down each side of the page, but the HTML somewhere here said to tile the thing.  So it did, and what was right is left, left is right, and where there were two are four.  I'll keep looking at it.  The previous picture was a mountain at Snowbird in Utah.

I figure, since I am moving furniture and stuff all over the house now prepping for the end of summer and the wedding, I might as well move this around too.

The invitations have all been sent out.  Procrastination is my super power, so you probably have no idea what this really means in terms of my world.  It is more than significant.  Especially considering the fact that I do not write ANYTHING with pen or pencil, and I almost NEVER put anything in the mail.  Both border on phobia levels for me.  SGG has been very concerned that she will never see my handwriting.  I'm serious.  :-)  I also don't have anyone's postal address, just their email.  SGG was not amused when I hinted about just scanning the invite and emailing it out.  Nope, not one bit.  So with minimal foot stomping, addresses were collected and invites were sent.

Now, I feel rather vindicated in the scan and email idea, since we have had two people so far think that the RSVP email address we put in there was an evite and couldn't navigate to the site.  :-)

I am sure someone may try to video conference the event with their cell phone, but they are own their own if they do.  I certainly am not planning to.

Other changes have included getting all the pictures from my previous residence hung on the walls here.  We can't do them all (I had a lot), but we are filling up the place.  Also, technology has exploded around SGG.  She said she woke up one night and the whole house was humming.  Gigabit ethernet, servers, workstations, laptops, wireless-N, droids, etc....She has learned how to work the media center pc, pulling up TV, movies, blu-ray, and netflix.  Netflix has become the center of our relationship.  In an effort to keep her up later, we started watching Dexter.  We are totally "wrapped" up in it.  Dexter "captivates" us.  It entertains us to "death".  What a great show.

All in all, things are moving along very well.  My son comes home Saturday morning.  :-)  Who knows what will happen after that.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I am a facebook fake, and a twitter twit....

What?

I've turned off chat in facebook.  I have locked down all my settings to friends only (or at least I did several weeks ago).  I have removed a few "friends".  I don't play ANY facebook games, poke, or anything else.  I rarely log in, and I seldom run through the huge list of updates.  At most I get through 24-48 hours worth.  It is rare that I ever even look at anyone's profile.  I have managed to become almost anti-social on the worlds biggest social networking site.  I don't know whether that is a good or bad thing.  I am a facebook fake.

Twitter I found useful for just a couple of things.  One is there are two accounts that give updates for the City of Virginia Beach, and another that gives updates for traffic in Hampton Roads.  I follow them and a few single parents and that is about it.  The only thing I do less than updating facebook is tweeting on twitter.  I am a twitter  twit.

You could say I am following suit with my blog, but I like my blog.  I like being able to type more than a few lines of text for an update.  I don't know how many people find my blog through my facebook profile, but I would guess very few.  Actually, I have those statistics in google analytics for the most part.  I don't post updates to the blog on facebook though.  Sometimes on twitter...as I am doing with this post.  But, since I don't really cover really juicy topics here, just the fun things we do, does that make me a bland blogger?  :-)  If you made it this far into the post, I am so sorry.  I love sentences and words, and I love putting them together.  I love rhymes and writing poems, but more than all that I love alliteration.  I am always an all-out alliterer.  Even if I have to make cruddy crap up to get there.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What is in a name?

I'm trying out some new names and descriptions, so you may see some changes over the next few weeks...

I think we are finally finished with the old house I was renting.  I have said goodbye to all my neighbors.  I will miss them.

We are getting settled in to SGG's house.  We nearly have all the boxes emptied.  We are going to buy a shed for stuff.  The garage is overflowing with stuff.  We have stuff that needs to go up in the attic.  We surely are over stuffed.  This is after two yard sales, several trips to thrift stores to offload stuff, and several trips to the dump.

We have been putting up pictures.  You would be surprised how many I have to put up.  We have been re-arranging stuff.

SGG has been getting used to some new sights, sounds, and smells...and I have also to be fair about it.

Things have been so busy, but we are hoping things settle down soon.

I skipped 150 pages of my piano book and started learning Pachelbel's Canon.  I didn't mean to, but the wind blew the pages to it one day and I started banging it out.  I think everyone is tired of hearing it now, but I need to smooth it all out.  Maybe when I have it done I'll record it and play it here.  I may have to record and play it in sections.  :-)

And just in case you did see that the title and description changed and you read it...no worries about the cat.  In fact, I have few stories about that ferocious feline to tell you...but a little later.

edited to add:
I also meant to put in a plug for craigslist.  I have a practically new washer and dryer that I bought when I moved back to Virginia Beach four years ago.  Think about it, how much laundry does a single guy and his son really do?  So I put them on craigslist around 11am Saturday morning and they were gone by 2:30pm.  I have previously purchased one thing through craigslist, my primary camera lens for my Nikon.  What a really cool service.  I know, I'm not telling anyone anything they didn't already know.

Monday, August 09, 2010

A letter from my mom....

On Saturday July 31, 2010 I received a letter from my mom.  Probably not too remarkable until you consider that she died from lung cancer February 7, 2001.  SGG was going through the cookbooks I was putting into the yard sale and found this sheet of paper.  She started asking me about the letter, but I didn't know anything about it.  I looked at the sheet of paper and I couldn't believe it.  It is a short letter, and more of  a poem than a letter really.  I don't know when she wrote it, and I don't know if she ever intended me to see it.   I can't tell you how often I have a question and I reach for the phone, my mom's number flashes through my head, and I realize I can't call her. I had been wondering what my mom would say about the impending marriage, and what she would say about SGG.  I can't describe how awesome it was to get a message from my mom and get to share it with SGG and the rest of my family.

Here it is below:

To my son, [Crazy Computer Dad]
When I became a parent,
I was overwhelmed with love.
I was such a proud parent,
and thanked the stars above!
When I became your parent
you were the greatest gift to me.
watching you learn to walk and talk,
you were such a joy to see!
And now you are a parent,
and this I must confide,
I still count my blessings daily,
for my gifts have multiplied.

All my love, Mom.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Moving, combining, cleaning, selling, donating...

You would think it would all be done by now, but it is not.  The saga is far from over.  There are still little things to be done here and there.  There are still boxes that need to be opened and sorted.  There is the garage that is now so jam packed you can barely get in there.  There is the attic that stuff, once all sorted, needs to have stuff put in it.  Last night we had crab legs for dinner.  I went looking for my crab stuff, and couldn't find it.  SGG said, there is "another box over here", and sure enough it was in there.  Is there some strange unexplored and undefined law of physics governing moving boxes?  What is the source of their staying power?

Yard sales make for interesting times.  Mine was a couple of weeks ago, during one of the three hottest days on record ever here.  Combine that with 99.999999999999% humidity and you have a formula where bodily water loss exceeds the body's ability to replenish it.  Everything was cheap, and some stuff was free.  For some reason the ad didn't make it into Craigs List, but we essentially sold everything.  That was the goal.  I had to shuffle a few pieces around the city, and we made appointments for people to pick other stuff up.  In my typical "do it all" crazy mentality, I had also scheduled a backpacking trip that I had to be at a carpool point at 11:30am that morning.  I figured I would just pack it all up around 10:45 (or be done hopefully), but with so many people coming back, etc, I had to cancel the trip.

The most comical moment I think came when an elderly lady stopped by and wanted the twin bed mattress and frame set.  Economically priced at $10.  The problem was that she didn't have a way to get it to her house.  I didn't have my tools with me to break it down.  This was a large metal frame, but light, that was part of a bunk bed set that my son has been using for 8 years now.  Earlier this year I took the bunk bed down to one bed.  The lady lived about 2.5 blocks away.  I told her if she couldn't find someone to get it, we would bring it over there.  Worst case I would just carry the thing (in the heat and humidity).  She could find anyone, and it wouldn't fit in SGG's vehicle, so I carried it over.  I didn't really want to have to break it down.  We would bring the mattresses over a little later.

Turns out carrying it wasn't the hardest or craziest part.  It really was no problem getting it there.  However, she must have the smallest house in the neighborhood, and at 105 Degrees, 119 heat index, was trying to get by without AC.  The frame would barely fit down the hall, and had no chance of fitting through the doors.  She got a little mouthy at this point, complaining about how she maybe didn't want it if it wouldn't just fit.  I got to practice a little transcendental meditation.  I went back to borrow my neighbors tools, essentially an allen wrench and a pair of channel lock pliers since one bolt was stripped.  In short order the bed was disassembled, put back together, and had the bunky board and mattress on it.  I left puddles of sweat everywhere as she didn't have the windows in that sun facing room open (and no AC).

Once all of that drama was done, we concentrated on cleaning the place up and getting unpacked/combined at SGG's.  We had a gigantic yard sale at her place the next weekend (last weekend).  She also invited a few friends over.  I made coffee and bagel egg sandwiches for the ladies, in addition to moving all the heavy stuff out front.

SGG's two boys came back from New York last Sunday.  I've been working on getting network connectivity to  the rooms.  The transition has gone fairly smooth so far.

We definitely need a shed.  Between bikes, lawn tools, recreational gear, etc, we are packed to the gills.

This weekend has been a lot more relaxed.  Still a lot to do, but we decided to take it a little easier.  This morning, we've been sitting on the back porch drinking coffee, reading the paper, talking about the state of the country, making jokes, and now I'm writing out our adventures.  Or at least a little slice of them.

Work is going well, and much less stressful!  A blessing really with all the house stuff.

A project/idea came to me recently, inspired by my recent blog book project.  I may start taking my photo albums and doing another blurb book for each year, writing up stories about the pictures as I go.  I have almost all of those photos scanned in, due to another multi-year project.  SGG's eldest son was going back through the book I made for her again, for like the 20th time.  He was very intrigued, asking questions about the pictures, reminiscing about various activities.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why doesn't anyone seem surprised....



Most everyone is saying "they knew it was just a matter of time"...or "Only surprised it didn't happen sooner"

SGG and I (along with my son and her two boys) are getting married.  We've chosen a date, September 18, 2010.  Just a small ceremony with family only, then a larger reception later.

The picture above was taken two weeks ago at Bear Island/Hammocks Beach State park.  The island is in the Outer Banks chain near Jacksonville, NC.  It offers a ferry to take people over to the beach, but services there are limited/primitive.  The camping is awesome.  The views are awesome.

Since that weekend I have been moving.  Packing, moving, cleaning, packing, moving, cleaning....endless repeat.  Practically everything is out of the old house now.  There is still so much to do.  GRRRRR.

Enjoy the pictures below!

PICTURES
slideshow

Sunday, July 04, 2010

News -----

My son is with his mom in NC for the summer.  He called last week with this dilemma...an abbreviated version of the conversation follows:

Brandon:  "Dad, tell my mom to let me pick the ticks off of me by myself."

Me:  "You have a bunch of them?"

Brandon: "Yes, and she wants to check me for more and pull them off."

Me:  "Ok.  She is your mother you know.  Where did you get the ticks?"

Brandon:  "Down in the woods by the dried up creek."

Me:  "Did you have fun?"

Brandon:  "Yes, we had a great time."

Me:  "You know if you wear bug spray, it will help keep the ticks off you in the first place."

Brandon:  "I know Daaaaddddd."

(Nice to see things never change)

Me:  "Well, I think that you should have no problem pulling them off yourself, but there are places you can't see and your mom is going to have to check those.  It is a good compromise and one I think you are going to have to submit to so start thinking about it."

Me:  "Ok, let me talk to your mom."

Me:  " I think he is old enough to pull the ticks himself.  He does it here with no problem.  I told him that there are places that he can't see/get to, and that he should let you check those places, as embarrassing as it may be.  It is a good compromise and you shouldn't have any problem with him submitting."

His Mom:  "Thank you"

The next night I called to see how it all went.

Brandon:  "Well we got the ticks off and my mom won't let me go in the woods anymore."

Me:  "Ok, did you let your mom check you for more ticks?"

(he responded MOSTLY jokingly...)
Brandon:  "Yes.  I told her that I hope she gets Alzheimer's and that memory is the first to go."


On another front, another long term relationship has come and gone, or maybe it has gone through a metamorphosis.  More on that soon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer....

Is in full swing.

New job is in full swing.

Looking for new house is in full swing.

Volleyball is in full swing.

Softball is wrapping up...and I'm looking for a soccer league.

It has been sweltering hot here, we happen to have both heat and humidity.  The beach can make it tolerable though.

My piano lesson book happens to have some good Irish music in it.  I've been playing it.  Found Auld Lang Syne a few chapters ahead, but I didn't have any problem playing that at all.  :-)

Went to see Sister Hazel at the beach tonight.  Always a good time.  I wish they would play more from their Absolutely album, but I also have a feeling that most of the songs there are too emotional for that type of scene.  However, they did play "This Kind of Love".  It is a piano song and one of my favorites.  They mentioned they had the sheet music for sale...so I bought it at the exorbitant price there...  I don't know any of the band members names, and I wouldn't know any of these people if I met them on the street, but I ran into some recent new friends, Stacey and Marissa, and they were standing in line to get their picture taken and shirt signed by the lead singer.  So I got in line with them figuring it would be neat to get my sheet music signed...and I got a picture below.  Stacey and Marissa are below that...



Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Books and adventures...

Just to let you know...SGG LOVED the book I made her for her birthday.  Basically it was this blog from all of 2009, with all the pictures we took in 2009.  She kept saying that she wanted to get a bunch of the pictures printed and  put into an album, so that is essentially what I did.  The book really turned out amazing.  The surprising thing is that the three boys seem to like it more than anyone!  They are always flipping through it.

It appears that the book has made some enemies for me though.  I have lost nearly every male friend I have.  The conversations usually go something like this....

Girlfriend of SGG: "So, what did Mike get you for your birthday?"
SGG:  "He wrote a book for me.  He wrote about all the things we did in 2009 and put in all the pictures.  It is a huge coffee table type book."
Girlfriend of SGG: "Wow!  That is amazing!"
Significant other of Girlfriend of SGG: "You SUCK dude.  It is guys like you that make the rest of us look bad."

I'm really not kidding about that.

My son has joined the Boy Scouts and is involved with  a really active troop.  In the last month he has been on two weekend trips and has really had a great time.  One of those was a two night camp out with several hikes that SGG and I went out to as well.  It was a great weekend of hiking and fun for all.  This was over Mother's day weekend...Both hikes are fairly easy and offer great scenic views.





My son also had his 13th birthday this past month!  Five more years.  :-)  We had a great Pizza party for him and one of his favorite pizza places where they also have free video games.  He got to have a very special ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery as well.  He gets two parties every year, one with me and one with his mom and both were great this year.

SGG and I went on a short kayak trip Sunday morning since all the kids were gone this past weekend.  In addition to a lot of cool birds we happened to startle and were startled by a mother deer and her fawn.  The fawn was so small that it didn't look like it was more than a day or two old.  It had a hard time getting out of the mud it was in, and it's mother LEFT it.  The little deer was left bleating out for it's mother as it had no idea where she went.  Not wanting to be a part of some comical news story about a couple being attacked by a deer, we left rather quickly.

So another school year is closing out.  Two more weeks and the kids all leave for at least most of the summer.  :-)

Beach volleyball is starting again and softball has already been in swing.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Step by Step...

Not every step is a step in the right direction.

Not everything broken can be fixed or patched.

Sometimes you have to let go in order to keep moving forward.

Learn from past mistakes and find a way to avoid them in the future.

Pain and problems are persistent, but so is joy, hope, and happiness.

On May 7th my son had a major meltdown at his daycare provider.  Probably one of the worst ever.  Step by Step, Tear by Tear, we get through it.  We talk about people, their reactions and perceptions, his reactions and perceptions, and try to set the clues and actions that can be considered in the future...he knows the conversations and finishes my sentences for me.  He knows what I'm going to say and why.  He is remorseful, but we both know that the next time it happens he may still not be able to change course.

Stress at my current job hit an all-time high recently, and a conversation with a manager convinced me that this was the end of the line...no more solutions possible.  I build various philosophical sayings based on situations with my job...it helps me to remember the obstacles and the paths around them.  Apathy never goes unpunished.  Until you forget what you think you know and what you think is possible you will never know what is truly attainable.  Don't believe everything you think.  You can't fill a full cup.

On June 1st I start a new job.  So on to new obstacles and challenges, and hopefully less stress.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Interesting new scam....or maybe not new...through services like Craigslist

Here's the deal.  I'm out of the country, visiting Nigeria on urgent business.  I can't be there to have you sign a lease, but I need a renter right away.  You send me the first months rent, $800, to my address in Nigeria and I'll send you the keys to the house.  When I get back, we can sign the lease.

This is a bit of a new twist on a classic scam.

I was talking to a real estate agent today and this is what he told me.  Sounds crazy right?  But he gets calls about his properties all the time from people that saw an add on Craigslist for a property at about half the going rent.  They drive by to look at the house and then see his sign.  They call the agent/property manager, fortunately, and not the number or email in the Craigslist add.  They've been duped, almost.  Some are not so lucky.

The Internet is not nearly as safe as you think it might be.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Blurb in the Life of a Single Father...

At risk of SGG seeing this before she gets back from Sacramento, since I am apparently in a writing mood, I published the 2009 posts of this blog, and all my favorite photos from 2009, into a book on Blurb.  I called the book "Life, Laughter, Love, and Lunacy in 2009".  Right now each of those words feel redundant as if they are all the same all rolled together.  The book is 234 or  so pages long.  SGG doesn't know I actually published it yet.  My son was amazed at it and loves it.  He thinks SGG is going to flip over it.  I hope so.  It was a lot of work.

I like it so much that I think I may do the same with the rest of the blog and pictures.  I got the largest version of the book and it turned out fantastic.

SHHHH!  Don't tell SGG!  It is a secret.  It is for her Birthday.

Spring is in the air....

....and up my nose, all over the house, the blue car is now yellow and the yellow one is more yellow...so on and so forth.  The back yard needed major work so Brandon and I tackled that Saturday.  I feel like dirt and pollen is still caked in all my air ways.  Were the water warm enough, I would have headed straight to the beach to get cleaned up.

Sunday, today, is brisk with blue skies and no humidity.  It reminds me of Monterey, California...and absolutely no chance of fog.

I am going to jump around for a bit here...so hang on.

My son made 1 A and 4 Bs for his fourth straight Honor Roll report card.  :-)  All indications are he will do even better this last quarter.

We had an IEP eligibility meeting a few weeks ago.  They changed his IEP from Emotionally Disturbed (ED) to Asperger's.  This is a good thing.  All the faculty agreed that Brandon was doing incredibly well.  It was in fact the first time that I had met any of his teachers this year....which is a welcome change as I usually know them all pretty well by the end of the first week of school.  Brandon will be going back into the AVID program next year too!  He is VERY excited about that.

I've been working on the Atkin's Diet and exercising more and more.  I feel great and there are some areas I can't believe the difference in.  I like to play sports and one of the first things I noticed was how much easier it is to sprint in softball.  Another thing is jumping in basketball.  My legs feel like they used to.  I love the Body For Life workout and right now the diet and exercise is just what I need.

I'm feeling sort of Kindle-y all over.  After hearing from a couple of friends first hand about the Kindle, I finally got one.  After reading the manual, and yes I always read manuals (manuals help me understand how I can put the product to use in ways that weren't imagined by the maker), I grabbed several classics that I always intended to read and Isaac Asimov's "Foundation".  Rather interesting to be reading that for the first time in 2010 on electronic ink and electronic paper, i.e. Kindle.

Sad as it is...it has taken me two weeks to complete this post.

Volleyball is just about here again and I can't wait for that...because that means summer is here again.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day!

3.14 and then some.....an infinite decimal with no repeating patterns that we know of yet.  The ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter.  At least that is what the paper says.

I went snowboarding with some friends from work on Tuesday of this past week.  It was amazing.  64 Degrees, slushy snow (good for snowboards), and no lines.  While we went all over, we spent most of our time in the terrain park doing jumps and things.  One of the best snowboarding days ever...and one of only a hand full of times that I've been with more than one person.

The weather magically went from being nearly or below freezing every night and highs averaging 45 during the day (for over two months) to being about 50 degrees in the morning and up to 70 or so during the day.  EVERYONE (SGG and three kids) is a lot happier.  :-)

Happy Fat needs to go...and it has.  I had a friend tell me once that during the first year of a relationship both participants gain 10 lbs of "happy fat".  You go out to eat a lot, etc.  Due to one injury or another, sickness, etc my exercising hasn't been as consistent as it needs to be.  In January I read this about visceral fat.  That moment I started the Atkins diet.  The weight has been consistent in coming off, but I haven't been as consistent with my exercising.  A lot of stress at work isn't helping my moods and motivation when I get home either.

I have been doing much better with piano practice and lessons though.

I have a huge drive and desire to learn additional languages.  I don't know why.  I took three years of German in high school and I enjoy reading and speaking it when I can.  For some reason, reading it is no problem, listening and speaking is a problem.  I started working on Spanish a few years ago when I was going to Mexico.  I need to get back to that.  I also want to learn Japanese, Chinese, and French.  Really, I just want to be able to understand a little of the structure of the language, and be able to hold a simple "Hello, how are you, how much, where are the bathrooms, I don't understand, Excuse me, I'm sorry, thank you, you are welcome," etc type of conversation.  I doubt I'll ever be fluent, but give me a little bit of the code and I can unravel a lot more when exposed.  I've thought about spending a month at home where my son and I learn and talk as much of a certain language each month, and rotate through.  Saying "Guten Morgan", "Wie Gehts", "Aufwiedersehen", "Wo ist es?" "Wie viehl?" "Guten abent" "Schlaf gut" "Es ist sehr gut" "ich habe hunger"  "ich habe durst" "Ich weiss" "Du weist es nicht".  The last two being the bulk of conversation between my son and I lately..."I know"  "You do not know".  SGG laughs hysterically whenever I try to pronounce anything French.  :-)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Lighthouse....

SGG and I were both childless Sunday morning.  We had a nice breakfast at IHOP and then headed to the north end of VA Beach for hike.  We hiked out to Fort Story/Cape Henry and up the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse.  It was a beautiful day and I wish I had brought one of my real cameras.  All I had with me was my droid.

After going up and down the lighthouse, we walked on the beach back to the car.  Along the way we found a treasure trove of shells.
 
  

All the way around it was a great hike and a great day.  We still can't believe we found so many shells.

A very nice end to a bit of a hectic weekend.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Out of the mouths of teens....

Comes, amongst a host of other things, drama. While mine is not quite yet a true teen....he is close enough.

It is fun to watch as his world views change. He is gathering information here and there and applying it. He makes conclusive judgments about this world and the rest of us in it. He is certainly passionate about his views and willing, unfortunately, to defend them. Often his timing for discussion and the subject is off, which makes him a little more frustrated and gets him into trouble.

His most oft uttered embittered war cry is "You never listen to me!" I hear this several times each day. The reality is that I have heard, processed, understood, and subsequently disagreed with his premise and evaluation of whatever he is talking about. What he is really trying to say is that he is correct, I am wrong, and because I didn't agree with him that I must not have been listening.

Sometimes I don't have the time or energy to explain why I say no to some of his requests. The other day this happened again and he became very angry that I wouldn't let him go somewhere and I wouldn't take the 30 minutes needed to explain it and get through HIS process. I understand this, but he also needs to learn some patience and sometimes trust that things will work out in his favor. Escalation will often ensure that things definitely will not workout in his favor.

So I told him to have patience. To which he responded:

"Patience? I don't have patience. I want answers to my questions. I need to have those answers. I have YOUR intelligence! I have my mother's impatience! I have BOTH of your attitudes!"

And being that I couldn't refute any of those statements, I conceded that battle to him....but he still lost the war.

:-)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Droid...

Not a long post...but my Droid continues to be useful and amazing in many ways.

I have an xbox game called Rally Sport. When you are driving, it has a small window in a corner that shows you what the next turn is. It lets you know how sharp it is, etc. It gives you a couple of seconds to prepare for it.

When driving to WV to go snowboarding the other weekend, we had to leave at night and drive nearly 7 hours to get there...arriving around 2am. The last 2.5 hours of the drive is all switchbacks in Blue Ridge Mountains of VA and WV. Up, down, curves, some ice, some snow, lots of salt and sand. The entire western half of VA was still under snow from the recent snowfalls.

My Droid had loaded the maps and was providing turn by turn directions to get to Timberline, WV. So after midnight, on a road with no lights, my only real indication of what was coming came from the Droid. It showed me what was coming up, how sharp the turn was, where the straight-aways were...essentially I was driving by instrumentation...it was awesome! :-)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

To SGG on Valentine's Day....

The really easy way,
Is to buy a card and token,
But they really can’t convey,
The feelings I want spoken.

I want to take you in my arms,
And pretend that we can dance,
I love the way we turn our hours,
Into adventure and romance.

Just this moment nothing past,
Is all that we really get,
Though I want each one to last,
The best hasn’t got here yet.

Khaki pants and hiking boots,
Hiking cities and the trails,
Love is adventure at its root,
And I hope ours never fails.

So this is what I want to say,
On this snowy Valentines day,
In 40 years we’ll be old and grey,
I will still love you in every way.

New title for the Blog?


No. But lately it should be more like "A month in the life of a single dad" because that is about how often I post.

Why? Glad you asked, I was going to tell you anyway.

Mostly I have been very frustrated at work and that would have come out here. I say too much at work as it is and so I have been working on new and different ways to release some of that tension. I will certainly maintain that WRITING is probably the most cathartic activity ever. However, I write publicly, not privately, so I refuse to write about it here. It has taken me away from here, and a few other activities I really enjoy and now something really has to change. Something possibly drastic.

Now that I've expertly led you to the edge, I will not let you fall in. Rather anti-climatic but that is as far as it goes.

Now on to other happenings...some good and some bad.

About two days after we got back from the Keys, I got a phone call from one of my aunts that one of my uncles had passed away. For family reasons that I am not all that aware of, I wasn't real close to him, but he was my mom's brother. He is survived by his wife, a brother, and two sisters. He did not have any children. I went down for the funeral and it was good to see the family together without any squabbling. After the funeral we drank, and sang, and there is rumor of some crazy blogger singing and dancing with his son on video...but that can't be substantiated so don't believe anything you hear.

My son has been doing great in school. After two grading periods he is still on the honor roll with one A, three Bs, and a C. His social skills teacher is recommending that he go back into the AVID program and it looks like he may not even need to be in the social skills class next year. I'm still waiting to have an official meeting with the staff about that so keep the fingers crossed. His behavior, attitude, and level of responsibility are markedly improved.

Brandon is also trying out for wrestling. It is the first activity that he has really gone all out for. He didn't pick up a starter position yet, but he is working really hard and I am extremely proud of him and all the work he has been doing.

If by any chance you start to get the impression that things are running smoothly, let me correct that right now. Yes, things are going well, but the boy is becoming a teen. It has only just begun and I'm tired of the attitude. I tell him to put something up and I get "I know Dad, you don't have to keep telling me!" But, when I asked him 15 minutes earlier, he didn't do it, and 15 minutes later he still hasn't done it. He asks me to help him with homework, then laments loudly that I am doing it wrong. Lets be clear about this. I LOVE math, and every time there has been contention over a problem for his short existence, I have been right every time. I know he really doesn't want to be told he is wrong, and he really doesn't want to do any work. Typical teen boy? I think so. Anyone who suggests that he might be like is dad is wrong and will be banned from the blog. Watch me do it. :-)

SGG and I can hardly believe it has been over a year since we met and started dating. We're both struggling with growing boys, job issues, etc, but we really try hard to find time to do things we enjoy. Sometimes it is something small, and sometimes we get to pretend we don't have children anymore! :-) At least for a few days.

So...one of the projects I have been working on is creating a book for her and I. I've imported my blog from the biking incident in December 2008 through the vacation in the Keys ending in January 2010 into Blurb. I'm also importing pictures and doing some editing. I might be finished by March. It is exciting for me, something really new, and challenging. I would really like for it to be around 200 pages, which means it will be a lot of pictures.

A common theme in the past year with SGG is that we love the memories we have already made together. I look back at each post and each picture (and I have the 2500 or so pictures I marked as favorites all over both of our houses) and truly cherish each of those moments, as well as those that you'll never see pictures of here! And I probably won't talk about except in vague/veiled references like this one. :-) Of course, Rachel said sort of the same thing about her mattress, and then went on to not be very vague...

I do have more to write about, but I have to move on to some other things this evening!

The picture above is Brandon in the snow this weekend. :-)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Laughter is the best medicine....

usually. As I type this, my son is laying in bed with an ice pack on his left eye and two motrin in his belly. A few moments ago he was crying about it all, now he is laughing. What made the difference?

We have had a pretty long weekend and we are both really tired. SGG, my son, and I left Friday evening to go skiing/snowboarding at Timberline Four Seasons Resort in West Virginia. It was looking to be an amazing weekend for it. The past week or so they have had close to 4 or 5 feet of snow dumped up there. For the mid-atlantic it is the best I have ever seen.

Brandon has never really picked up snowboarding, but keeps insisting it is what he wants to do. At 12 years old, and it being a small resort, I figured I'll just let him go by himself. He'll either figure it out or he won't. I've been putting him into snowboard camps and lessons for the last six or so years, and about all he has really wanted to do is eat snow and throw snowballs. I almost didn't take him this time because of it. He still doesn't want to follow protocol, doesn't want to lace his boots up correctly, and half a dozen other things, but he can make it up and down the mountain on his own, chewing his gloves the whole way, and can make his turns. He wants to do it his own way, and though it makes me a bit frustrated, at least he can do it on his own and I can go do my thing.

The first day (Saturday), at the arranged meeting time, we found him in the lodge, in the bathroom, crying and saying he couldn't breathe. He couldn't tell me what was wrong. After getting him dressed back up (still not sure how he got everything off if he was feeling as bad as he said), we got him to the first aid station. The paramedic looked him over, and he was looking just as pathetic as he possibly could. They couldn't find anything wrong, but did finally manage to get out of him that he hit a snow bank and fell on a chunk of ice. They put him on a little bit of oxygen. His nose was stuffed up so they had to put the tubes in his mouth. He would close his lips, suck on the hose, then open his lips and breathe out. I told SGG, and loud enough for Brandon to hear, that he looked like a fish trying to breathe air. Brandon when from pathetic looking to laughing...and wasn't happy about it. A few minutes later he was back to scowling. To show it, he had sucked the tube deeper into his mouth. On either side, the tubes came out and stuck out like whiskers. I then told SGG that he looked like a catfish now and he started laughing again.

I went and got the car to take him up to the house and before you know it he was fine again and playing with the rest of the kids.

He got in a lot more snowboarding on Sunday.

So how does this end with him and an ice pack tonight (Monday)?

I went to put him in bed at 7:30 since we had had a long and tiring weekend. My legs are killing me, and I was sick all weekend to boot. I still might be. He begged me to let him read for a little bit. I did. He is reading "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. One of the best science fiction books ever.

Around 8:30 I tell him lights out. He has to use the bathroom so I let him. He then has this bright idea to run around the house doing something with his lip. I tell him in increasingly irritated tones to get in bed. He runs to the bathroom to admire his lip trick in the mirror. I tell him again to get in bed and he just stands there. I reached in to provide some direction, because I feel at this point the near teen has forgotten where his bed is. He ducked to avoid my grasp and hit his eye brow on the counter. While I want to lecture him on how much better this would have turned out if he had only LISTENED to me in the first place, I instead get a washcloth and wet it down to put on his eye. I know it doesn't help much but usually it starts to make him feel better. I then get him moving toward his room (and his bed) and then returned with an ice pack and some motrin.

He is still crying at this point.

I tell him he can tell his classmates that "They should see the other guy, he had two of these". To which he starts laughing. He then asks, "how bad is it?" I tell him he doesn't want to know, but it will be better tomorrow. I then told him he can tell his friends, "I shouldn't have kissed that girl," and he starts laughing again. He has placed the washcloth over his entire face, including his mouth, with the ice pack on his eye. I tell him to move the wash cloth from his mouth. He says "Why?" I responded, "Do you have to do the opposite of everything I say? (he laughs) I don't want it around your mouth because I don't want to have to explain to your mom tomorrow how you suffocated just because I asked you to move it and you said no." And for some reason he laughs some more.

As I turned out the light, he mentions that this is going to suck tomorrow. I tell him that the good thing is that if he keeps the ice pack on it, it will suck less every minute from now on. To which he laughs again.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spammanation

Lately I've been getting some comments with links in them.

Do not click on them. I don't think they are overtly malicious, but I don't have the time to analyze them so I can't say.

It also means I need to set the blog back to requiring a login to comment.

If you want to leave a comment with a link in it, I have contact information in my blogger profile that you can send to me first, otherwise I'm just going to delete it.

:-)

It is important that you NOT trust random links in email or other places. If you think your Anti-Virus product or firewall will protect you, you are wrong.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

...and more dreaming...

12/30/09 Wednesday
Wednesday we had big plans. Snorkel trip to Looe Key from Bahia Honda State Park.

We have a GSI mess kit with an MSR pocket rocket burner that we made coffee and oatmeal with Wednesday morning. The over eating was really getting to us.

We stopped in at Tilden's Scuba Center to rent a full wet suit for SGG. After being there a few days we figured she would need a full suit and I would wear the shorty I brought with me. The people at Tilden's were great.

We then continued on to Bahia Honda to check in for our snorkel trip. Good thing we did, the line to get in was long, and then when we got in we found the trip was canceled due to wind and seas. We immediately turned around and went back to Tilden's to try and get in on their 1:30pm trip. We were in luck, they were going and they had room.

We got our stuff on the boat and talked to the group from Boston and the other from Atlanta. The picture above is from the Sombrero Light.

Our luck didn't hold. The 2-3' seas turned to 3-4' seas. At one point the boat turned sideways to the waves and all of a sudden I was staring into a wall of beautiful blue water. I was almost sure that it wasn't going to crash on me. It did not. The boat easily slid up the wave. They told we couldn't get it, it was too rough. Grrr.

When we got back in we headed back to Bahia Honda, hoping that we could snorkel from the shore there. The waves, temperature, and visibility were all against us there too. When we got out of the water I stepped on a sand spur. Part of it is still in my foot 2 weeks later. I'm working on getting it out though.

After we dried off we went and found another geocache in the park. From there we decided to keep heading south west and go eat in Key West. :-)

We watched a beautiful sunset and moonrise on the Reynolds Street Pier. Then we walked down to the Southernmost Point Buoy that marks the southernmost point in the continental United States. We had our picture taken there of course. There was a line but we sort of bypassed that.

Then we went in search of Duval Street. It wasn't hard to find. If you didn't want to follow the people, you could just listen for levity, or look for lights. We passed a party train full of very happy and friendly people. We were invited on, but there was hardly room. :-)

We explored a small art gallery and spend a lot of time talking to the owner about the various artists. We then made our way to Mangia Mangia. Mangia Mangia is a wonderful pasta cafe. We had a delicious meal. I don't know why we didn't share the entree as has become our custom. There was no way we were going to finish them individually, or later. We didn't have a refrigerator to keep them in for later either.

The people of Key West had some great holiday lights and decorations up too. We got a few pictures of those while we were walking.

We passed by the Southern Keys Cemetery on our trek back to the car. This was interesting as the graves were almost all above ground. Some were stacked on top of each other, several high.

SGG must have been feeling a bit skittish. An orange cat was walking up behind her, and to make sure she wasn't surprised by it, I told her that there was an orange cat coming up to us. She turned to look a nearly let out a full on scream. The cat's nails could be heard digging into the pavement as it raced away. SGG doesn't know why she did that, but it was certainly funny to me. :-)

We headed back to the campground to get some sleep. Honestly, between sleeping bags, the air mattress, and the standard campground noises you would have thought that we weren't sleeping well, but maybe the fresh air is good for us. We slept pretty well nearly every night.


12/31/09 Thursday - New Years Eve!
We got up Thursday morning to head to The Hungry Tarpon for breakfast. We fed the tarpon first. These are huge fish that will come a little way out of the water to get the small bait fish we were offering to them. The Pelicans know what is going on and they will certainly try to steal the fish for themselves. SGG was holding a fish out and a Pelican's beak came through the lattice work and stole it from her. At the same time I was looking down and what looked like a pair of scissors started snapping at the air trying to get the fish I was holding. When we were out of bait we walked over to the restaurant to get some breakfast. It was an amazing meal.

We headed to Key Largo to get on a snorkel trip out there. We booked one on a catamaran. and then walked around the marina until it was time to go. I got some better de-fogger stuff at a dive shop and some desiccant for my underwater camera.

We watched a number of tropical fish make their rounds through the marina too.

We took some pictures of THE African Queen also!

When we got out the to reef, the water was pretty rough again. We got lots of pictures of our two snorkel sites. It was really quite a challenge as the seas were picking up. SGG got a little sea sick and almost didn't go in at the second site. Some of the more exciting fish we saw were a number of Barracuda and a Grouper. The coral was amazing. I also saw the biggest Parrot Fish I have seen yet. The pictures tell this story better than I can so you should watch the slide show below to see it all.

After we got back we shared a Wendy's Frosty on the way back to the campground.

We got cleaned up and then went out to eat and celebrate New Year's Eve. We predictably went back to The Hungry Tarpon. We shared an appetizer, an entree, and desert. It was all truly delicious. We watched the moon rise and just sat and talked under the lights outside on the deck of the restaurant. It was enchanting. They have a non-toxic organic mist that smells faintly of lemons that sprays every once in a while. It is a special formula designed to keep away the no-seeums that can ruin an experience with painful skin bites. We walked around the empty marina for a bit and then headed back to the campground. We were beat. We had decided that the next morning we would eat breakfast there again and then rent a dual kayak to paddle through the mangrove tunnels and potentially see sharks, fish, crocodiles, and more.

We slept soundly until midnight. Noise makers, fireworks, and people shouting lasted for almost an hour before it all finally died down and everyone went to sleep. Some people just kept partying though.



01/01/10 - New Years Day! The trip home.
At around 6am we got up to pack up everything and get ready for the journey home. We got to The Hungry Tarpon around 8am to eat before heading out on the kayak. We had fried mahi mahi, eggs, grits, and toast. You may be finally getting the point that we really LOVED the food here.

At 9am the kayak place opened and we were the first to get our boat and paddles. We headed out through the mangrove tunnels and west to the other end of Matecumbe key. The tunnels were amazing to paddle through. When we got to the west side we found an American Crocodile with the help of some other kayakers. Then we paddled north a bit and went through some tunnels to head back east. In those tunnels we saw some small sharks. I explained to SGG that the white stuff on the leaves we passed was bird poop. She didn't believe me at first. SGG was the spotter, navigator, and photographer on this trip. It wasn't as exciting as we had hoped, but it was fun and interesting anyway. It was a beautiful end to the trip.

Once I got changed, because a passing motorboat swamped us a little, we headed back to Ft. Lauderdale. The trip back was uneventful, and the Droid did it's job admirably with it's turn by turn directions. We were a little early for the flight out, but we kept busy getting caught up on news and gossip. :-) An Italian couple across from us at the airport had a little boy that couldn't speak any English. That didn't stop him from communicating and playing with an American boy about his age. It was really fun to watch all of them.

It was also impressive how many people from other countries we ran into. Languages and dialects from all over the world. Contrary to what you may think about South Florida, there really wasn't that many Spanish speaking people about either. If you speak a second language, I highly encourage you to brush up on it before you go. You may find it more useful than you think.

Really it was an enchanting time in an enchanting place with an enchanting person. All of which have woven themselves into my heart, mind, and soul. If you go, I hope you experience the same. You won't want to leave, I certainly didn't.

Flying into Newport News, it was snowing. We were still wearing shorts. It has been cold ever since. It was brutal at first but I'm getting used to it again. I miss the 80 degree days in the Keys.

All the pictures from the Keys are here.
Slideshows from the last couple days below: