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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Dave Hinerman's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
11:12 pm
Three years
Wow, a year just zips by doesn't it? It's a year and a day since my last entry. As I'm sure you've guessed by now (assuming you're still here to read this) I've lost interest in keeping this journal up to date. I started out four years ago to set down my thoughts and feelings as Roberta fought with cancer, and how my life changed after she lost. My new life, however, is no longer new; I've accepted my place as a single parent and grandfather and have settled in comfortably. So I think it's time to put a period at the end of this story. I'll leave this journal in place as my own little contribution to recorded history, but after today I'll write no more here.

To you who have followed along, thank you. Your presence has meant more to me than you know.
Monday, December 15th, 2008
9:35 am
Two years
Today is two years since Roberta died. I feel odd today. It's like I want to be left alone, but it feels good when someone talks to me as long as they're not asking for something.

I've noticed I don't have the patience for people that I used to have. I never had that much to begin with, but lately I've been even less interested in hearing from friends and relatives. I think that's at least partially due to work. We had a mini trade show last week and we presented two of the projects I've been working on, so I had to help the team prepare for one day-long demo while preparing for my own demo at the same time. I don't like doing shows in the first place. It just feels like a lot of busy work to try to impress somebody I don't even know. I'm not into trying to impress people. That's Marketing's job. My job (at least the way I define it) is to make products that work, not make posters and presentation slides.

Anyway, between the extra flurry of activity at work for the show and the normal stresses of the holidays, I feel like everybody that talks to me wants something. I've noticed that around this time I start hearing from relatives and friends who want to tell me about how much they miss Roberta. I'm having a hard time mustering much sympathy for them this year. I miss her too, but there's nothing I can do about it for myself or anyone else. If the kids need a shoulder to lean on while they remember and grieve, I'll be there for them. But everybody else is going to have to find their own way to cope.

Can I skip December this year?
Friday, September 19th, 2008
7:35 pm
Forts on the Shore
Linda and I spent last weekend at a bed and breakfast near Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario. Niagara-On-The-Lake (NOTL to the locals - at least that's what it says on the brochures) is a quaint little town at the corner of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. The town has a lot of history, figuring prominently in the War of 1812 and as a transfer point for escaped slaves from the American South into Canada. The town isn't as touristy as Niagara Falls, which is ten miles to the south, but they still know how to make visitors feel welcome and spend money.

One of the things I like about that area is the two forts across the river from each other. Fort Niagara on the American side was originally built by the British, but they were required to vacate by the Jay Treaty in 1796. The British built Fort George on the Canadian side after that. The forts are close enough together they can each be seen (and fired on) from the other. I'd love to use them for some industrial-strength snowball fights

Fortunately for me, hostilities ended a long time ago and now Americans are welcome, or at least tolerated, in Niagara-On-The-Lake. I'm glad, too - Linda and I spent a wonderful day together strolling, browsing the shops (including Linda's new favorite store, a candy shop that sells praline pecans and other delicious goodies), and being taken on a tour of the town by Sue and Bert:

Bert&quot;s the one in front

Closer to home, George the button quail continues to grow. He can fly now, so cleaning out his brooder has taken on a new twist. I don't mind though. He's fascinating to watch. He's also huge:

Giant mutant quail defeats Godzilla

When I took that photo and the next one it was clear that George is, indeed, a boy George. He has the characteristic white bib of males of his kind, as you can see here:

White-bearded patriarch addresses the throng

I have some more eggs in the incubator and they're due to start hatching this weekend. They may not, however. We had a power outage Sunday night, courtesy of the remnants of Hurricane Ike, and the incubator cooled down to about 70 degrees before power was restored. We'll see.
Sunday, August 31st, 2008
1:34 pm
For the birds
Call me nuts, but for some reason this summer I got the urge to try to hatch some button quail eggs. Buttons are a small variety of quail native to southern Asia, Australia, and parts of Africa. They're smaller than other types of quail; fully grown they're not much bigger than a baby chicken. They're small enough to be kept as pets in a large rodent cage or aquarium.

I took an interest in birds when I found a robin's nest in a bush in my back yard. Searching the Web for information I found some sites by people who hatch and raise button quail as pets. They're easy to care for as young birds go - they can walk and feed themselves from the moment they hatch, like chickens and other fowl. They're ground dwellers, running everywhere they go. They only fly when startled, then they leap about five feet in the air and flap away from danger. Some people keep them in aviaries with finches or parakeets to eat the seeds that the other birds spill on the floor. The butterfly habitat at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester keeps them to help control unwanted insects.

Several button quail sites describe do-it-yourself methods and equipment for incubating, brooding, and keeping buttons. Probably the best single source for information I've found is the Button Quail Home Page. A link from there led me to a page describing how to build an incubator from a foam cooler. A brooder - a heated pen to keep the chicks warm and safe until they're mature enough to maintain their own body temperature - can be improvised from a plastic storage tub or even a cardboard box with a floodlight for warmth. Linda has offered me one of her son's spare rabbit cages, but I could also build one from wood and wire screen. I'm still working on that. First I need something to put in it.

I built a foam cooler incubator and ordered some eggs from a button quail breeder on eBay. Button eggs are tiny - smaller than the end of my thumb. I put the dozen plus eggs (most breeders include a few extra in case some break in shipment) in the incubator and sat back to wait. I felt like a six-year-old who had just planted his first sunflower seed. I wanted to see results right away! But button eggs take 16 to 21 days to hatch, so I waited, and waited. On the 17th day one of the eggs pipped - the chick pecked a hole in the shell. Over the rest of the day it gradually pecked all the way around the end of the shell, almost like cutting the end off of a food can. The chick pushed its way out that afternoon and started climbing around the inside of the incubator, then fell into the pan of water I'd placed in there for humidity.

I was able to rescue the chick before it drowned, and put it in the brooder I'd set up. It was cute seeing it wander around peeping constantly, but as time went by it seemed to be getting weaker. Four days later I came home from work and found it dead. According to some of the regulars on the Button Quail forum new chicks can die from any number of reasons, some of which may not have been my doing. But I suspect its brooder wasn't warm enough. Despite the heartbreak (compounded by the fact that none of the other eggs had hatched) I decided to give it another try, so I ordered more eggs and tried again. I also built a thermostat for the incubator, because I know at some point the temperature inside had gone well over 105 degrees, which isn't good.

Seventeen days later I got another chick. One. The rest of the eggs failed in this batch too. Plus I could tell this chick was sick from the beginning. It had one leg that wasn't straight - another common problem among button chicks, whose legs are very slender at birth - and it had a hard time getting around to find food and water. It died after a few days too. By this time I was tempted to give up, but I'd also become obsessed with getting a decent hatch. Other people could do it - why couldn't it? So I clenched my teeth and ordered more eggs. I also decided to scrap the foam cooler because I couldn't maintain a high enough humidity in it. Eggs need about 60% humidity; the best I could get in the cooler was 45%.

I found a cheap crock pot at K-Mart for $15 and an oven-safe glass bowl that fit perfectly inside it. I replaced the pot's stoneware liner with the bowl, covered the bowl with a wire screen, and propped the pot lid on bamboo skewers to allow air to circulate inside. Plugged in to my thermostat and with a bowl full of water the humidity is 60 to 65% and the temperature stays within a degree of the set point.

I ordered another dozen eggs and sat back to wait again. I set up a web camera to watch the eggs from work. I was also more diligent about turning the eggs 3 times a day, which I hadn't done before. Then last Tuesday Linda, who had also been watching the webcam, called me at work to tell me I had a chick. When I got home I met him, and named him George (as in "I will love him and squeeze him and call him..."). George is a miracle. He's very healthy, he runs like an Olympic sprinter, and he's growing like a weed. Here's what he looked like the day he hatched. Compare the size of his head to the tip of my finger

Here's what George looks like now, five days later:

Since Linda and the people on the Button Quail forum always like a happy story (and since one of the forum people dropped a hint on an easy way to do a video stream with sound) I set up the webcam to watch George as he grows. Feel free to check out the Georgecam.
Monday, August 4th, 2008
11:34 am
If it's not one thing...
... it's another. Last Saturday my daughter and her fiance were on their way to a Renaissance festival when they were involved in a car crash. I guess another vehicle was passing them and tried to merge right too soon, forcing her off the road and into a guard rail. Nobody was hurt, thank God, but her car's out of commission. We have rental car coverage but $20 a day isn't going to even come close to getting a car for someone under the age of 25.

I'd suggest she start riding a bicycle to work but in view of what just happened, I'd be afraid to. I wouldn't want to go scrape her up off of the street after the next inattentive driver got done with her. I guess she's going to have to find some other way to work until her car gets fixed or replaced. I hope she's got lots of friends.
Saturday, June 28th, 2008
10:29 am
I guess it was time
My mother died some time Thursday night. Mom had been in the hospital, and then in a rehabilitation center, recovering from a MRSA infection. She actually seemed to be improving over the past couple of weeks but the rehab center called my brother Friday morning and said she had passed some time during the night. They thought she might have had a heart attack in her sleep.

I can't say this was unexpected. Mom's health had been failing slowly for years, and was picking up speed since Dad died. Dad was the one who took care of their medications and reminded Mom to take hers. My brother stepped up to help her out after Dad was gone but he lives an hour and a half from Mom's house, so he couldn't be there every day. One day a few months ago Mom fell and couldn't get up, and my brother found her two days later. She needed to go to the hospital because she was dehydrated, and they found a condition related to her diabetes that needed additional treatment. Her doctor said she couldn't live by herself any more so we had her move into a nursing home closer to where my brother lives. That's where they found she had the MRSA infection. They sent her to a different hospital to treat that and her heart stopped while she was there, but they were able to resuscitate her. She seemed to be getting better since then, but I guess the strain was just too much.

My brother is handling Mom's funeral arrangements, and I'm really grateful for that. I feel like I've done enough of that for a while. The funeral is Wednesday. Since I have to travel over 250 miles to get there my company allows me five days for bereavement leave, so I'll be out all next week. After this, there just won't be much reason for me to go back to Nelsonville except to see Roberta's family, and visit the cemetery.

I grew up thinking Mom was indestructible, but for years now I've known better. The only question was when she was going to go, but now that's been answered.
Saturday, May 10th, 2008
8:48 pm
Houdini meets his match
Since I've decided to keep Buddy, I thought I should try a little harder to find some way to take him outside without it turning into a safari. I searched the Web for "escape proof dog collar" and discovered an interesting product. It's called a Martingale collar. It's a nylon strap collar, but the main neck strap is held closed by a smaller loop of strap. The leash attaches to the loop, and if the dog pulls on it the small loop pulls the bigger strap tighter around the dog's neck. But it's not as dangerous as a choke collar because the strap can close only so far.

A number of places on the Web sell these collars, but since I had to go into town today I stopped by the pet store where my daughter works to see if they had any. Sure enough, they had one to fit Buddy. The price was reasonable, too - eight dollars, which is even cheaper than the Harley-Davidson collar we had on him before. (That was Roberta's idea. I'm not a Harley fan.) I brought it home and put it on him right away, then took him outside for a walk. He struggled for about ten seconds trying to slip it off the way he did with his old collar, then gave up and walked beside me.

You know, this might work out after all.
Monday, May 5th, 2008
6:28 pm
I can't do it
I thought I was annoyed enough with Buddy yesterday to send him away, but after thinking about it all day today I realize I can't do it. It's not that he was Roberta's, it's that I have a hard time admitting I can't take care of a member of our family.

So I guess I'll keep him, and figure out some way to keep him here. I wonder if Velcro might do the trick.
Sunday, May 4th, 2008
8:21 pm
Hairy Houdini
A few years ago when Roberta was still alive, we got a dog from the Humane Society shelter in Rochester. This is Buddy.

Buddy is part pit bull, part German Shepherd, part collie (according to our vet, but I can't see it) and probably some other things as well. He had been collected as a stray and taken to Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society's wonderful shelter and adoption center in Monroe County, New York. We found him there the first day he was available for adoption, and Roberta fell in love with him on sight. I wasn't too impressed because he was quite excitable and liked to bark and jump, which I didn't think was a good combination for a dog in a mobile home. But Roberta wasn't interested in reason; she loved him, and she wanted him all the more when she saw the other families that had asked to see him.

Despite his ancestry, Buddy is a very friendly dog. The only time I've seen him be even remotely aggressive toward another animal was when I took him to a pet store for a rabies vaccination two years ago. Another dog nipped at his tail. Buddy didn't nip back or even lunge at the other dog; he just stared at it and growled quietly until it looked away and moved off. I was very proud of Buddy. He stood his ground and gave a measured response.

Although his name is nominally Buddy, I call him a number of other things. A few of them aren't printable, like when he gets excited from seeing the neighbor's dog and pees on the living room floor. But most of the time I call him Dogimus. We got Buddy about a month after the latest Pope was elected, and when a new Pope is elected a cardinal announces to the people gathered at St. Peter's Basilica, "Habemus papam!" (Which is "we have a Pope!" in Latin.) "Habemus" sounds much like "dogimus," and since I took Latin in high school I liked the sound of it enough to start calling him that. The rest of the family humors my little quirks because I've taught them to never argue with a crazy person.

Keeping Buddy in a mobile home is like keeping ten pounds of dog in a five pound box. He's very energetic and very sociable. He's a pack animal, after all. But he was always Roberta's dog. She was the one who spent time with him. After she died I thought about taking him back to the shelter because I knew he had an excellent chance of finding a family with kids and a fenced yard to run in - just the things he'd love. But I was worried about my son. He'd been through a lot already, and it hit him hard when our cat Gandalf died back before Roberta got sick. So I decided to keep Buddy, even though he was a pain in the posterior at times.

Buddy has two habits that really annoy me, though. He barks at anything that moves because he wants to play with it, and he's very slippery. There are time when he'll dart out the door to go play, and he's faster than all of us. If he gets loose we have to just wait around the house until he's tired, at which point he comes home. I've tried punishing him for that, but all it teaches him is to not come home. So I just hold my tongue and let him back in the house.

I thought I might have found an acceptable balance between Buddy's annoyances and benefits, but about 8 months ago a new neighbor moved in next door with a husky named Django. (As in Django Reinhardt, the guitarist.) Since then Buddy has become insufferable. He barks whenever he sees Django, or even if he just hears the neighbor's back door open. He darts out the door every chance he gets. He leaves messes on the carpet. I decided I'd had enough.

My son wasn't happy with my decision to get rid of Buddy, and suggested that taking him for a walk regularly might calm him down. (We normally tie him to a chain out back when he needs to go out.) For my son's sake I was willing to give it a try, even though it meant I had another nightly chore to do. (Buddy is too strong for my son to control; I have to be the one to walk him.) But that just made it worse. Buddy discovered on our first walk that he could pull his collar off over his head and vanish. He doesn't do it when he's on the chain because it's tied low to a stake in the ground, but if I'm holding his leash he slips it off in a flash.

That just about clinched my decision right there, but since my son had cared enough to try to help with a solution I thought he deserved one more try. I bought a full harness for Buddy today, the kind that goes around the neck and chest. And damned if he didn't slip that off too.

Buddy has to go. I'll take him to Lollypop Farm tomorrow.
Tuesday, April 29th, 2008
9:42 am
Not yet
Mom gave us a bit of a scare over the weekend. Saturday afternoon she went into cardiac arrest. They gave her CPR and were able to resuscitate her, but when they placed an airway in her throat she didn't show any gag reflex (which is highly unusual, even for an unconscious patient). The doctor told my brother that he was concerned she may have brain damage, and that he'd have a neurologist evaluate her on Monday. That's pretty much what happened to Dad: he collapsed in the yard and while the EMTs were able to get his heart restarted, his brain had been without oxygen for too long and shut down.

So through the rest of Saturday and Sunday morning I expected to have to go to Ohio to stand another deathwatch when we discontinued Mom's life support. But Sunday afternoon my brother called and said that Mom was conscious and responsive. She was very weak but could move her head in response to the nurse's questions, and squeezed the nurse's hand when asked. Okay, maybe I don't need to pack just yet.

My brother called again yesterday after seeing Mom, and he says she acts like the lights are still on upstairs. She tried to talk a couple of times but couldn't because of the airway. My brother could tell she was frustrated - Mom always made that obvious with her facial expressions - but they were able to communicate.

I guess I can exhale now.
Friday, April 25th, 2008
8:19 pm
Time heals all wounds
They say time heals all wounds, but it also brings the opportunity for new ones.

A few weeks ago I got a call from my brother Tom. He's been helping Mom get along since Dad died, running errands for her, doing her shopping, that kind of thing. Tom went to look in on her and found she'd fallen two days before, and had been on the floor ever since. She was dehydrated and not quite coherent, so he called the rescue squad and they took her to the hospital.

After getting some fluids and other care Mom brightened mentally, but her memory (which was already getting spotty even before she fell) was getting worse. They doctor was afraid she'd broken a hip but it turned out to be only a bad bruise. They kept her at the hospital for physical therapy, and the doctor told Tom that she should have around the clock care. She shouldn't be by herself any more. Tom spoke to me and our brother Ken and we agreed she should be in a nursing home. Mom even liked that idea when she found out the home she was going to had a lot of residents and staff from her home town. She'd gotten pretty lonely since Dad died.

They moved Mom to the home about two weeks ago and were giving her physical therapy so she'd be able to walk. She could walk some after the fall but it was difficult. But then a week ago today they couldn't wake her after lunch, so they sent her to the hospital. It turns out she has an infection, and her blood pressure and blood oxygen were low. The doctor said that could be a symptom of her body fighting the infection. They put her on IV antibiotics and she improved some, but she was still very groggy. They had her on a respirator up until Tuesday, then they removed her airway and she was able to breathe on her own and even ask for a drink of water.

Since then they've decided she has MRSA, an antibiotic resistant staph infection. They still have her on a wonder drug that seems to be working, but the doctor told Tom it may be two to four weeks before the infection is cleared up. But today she was having trouble breathing again - I'm not sure if the infection is in her lungs, or if it's just a symptom of the infection being elsewhere - so the doctor wants to put a tube in her neck. Tom couldn't remember what the term was the doctor used, but it wasn't tracheotomy, which is what I expected. Anyway they're keeping Mom sedated and trying to keep her alive so the antibiotic has time to work.

Honestly, I'm not real hopeful. Mom's had a number of health issues come up over the past ten years. In fact, when her doctor learned that Dad had died he was surprised because he thought she would be the one to go first. It's taken a few years, but I don't think it'll be long before she joins Dad.

I can't decide if being far away like this is good or bad. I wish I could be there, but I'm not sure if I'd have the courage to actually see Mom right now. I wish there was something I could do to help, though. I don't know what.

I guess for now I'll just leave you with one of Mom's favorite songs.

Sunday, March 9th, 2008
7:30 pm
Let it snow!
A little over a year ago I complained about the snow here in upstate New York, and thought about moving back to Ohio. So far I haven't acted on that idea, and at this point it's very unlikely that I ever will. Things have settled down over the past year, and in some ways improved.

Right now we have about a foot of snow on the ground, and I really don't care. I figured out how to get my snowblower to start reliably. This weekend I didn't even need it - my neighbor with the 30" self-propelled snowblower cleared my driveway before I was even dressed for the day. Even if he hadn't done that, I would have been okay with the snow. I guess I've settled in to this new new life.

There's one other thing that may have made me change my mind about living here. One of the comments to my earlier post was from Linda. It was the first time she'd commented on my blog. That might have changed my attitude just a little bit.
Saturday, March 1st, 2008
8:48 pm
Musical land mines
I've posted before about how music can trigger strong memories for me, usually emotional ones. I've also posted before about how hearing a particular song - Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" - just a couple of weeks after Roberta died really hit me hard. Well, here it is 14 months later and damn if it didn't blindside me again. This time it was on a TV commercial for an animal welfare charity, possibly the Humane Society. So on top of the music and the memories, there were pictures of sad looking little dogs and cats staring at me.

Saturday, December 15th, 2007
7:56 pm
One year
It was a year ago today that Roberta died. It seems so long ago, but I remember much of it very clearly. Thinking about her final days doesn't bring the tears that it used to. But I still miss her.

A lot has happened in the twelve months since then. I found Widownet and met Linda, and asked her to marry me. My (first?) grandson was born this year. My daughter finally found a job she likes. I've adopted my stepson. I've met some wonderful new friends, and reconnected with some wonderful old friends. I've managed to keep moving.

Yesterday we got a card in the mail from the hospice that helped to care for Roberta. I assumed it was a Christmas card, but it was actually to recognize the anniversary of her death. That's not a card you'll normally find in a Hallmark display, but I was glad to get it. The people at hospice understand.

As I look back at the last year, I have to admit that we've done okay. It's been hard, certainly, but we've pulled together to make this "new normal" work. I'm very proud of my kids. They miss their mother, but they don't hide from her memory. She did a great job teaching them about life and its ups and downs.

So now we'll begin the second year without Roberta but with the memories and lessons she gave us. We'll keep moving.
Monday, November 26th, 2007
9:22 am
Electronic love
Love is meant to be experienced face-to-face. Humans have shown love to each other for thousands of years by doing the simplest of things: meeting, smiling, kissing, holding hands, and giving each other any of a million other little words or gestures that say "I'm happy to be with you." Love wasn't complicated. You met a boy or girl from your neighborhood, your town, your village, or wherever you lived, and you realized he or she was the one you wanted to be with the most.

Then came the Internet. Now a village may be spread across many continents and a community is defined by a common interest rather than geographic placement. But people are still people; they still become friends and they still fall in love. It's just much harder to hold hands. Yet it's the personal gestures that keep love alive. So what do you do when the one you love is far away?

Linda and I are lucky in that while we first met and fell in love at a distance, we're really only about 4 hours apart by car. We can usually see each other in person once a month or so. But the rest of the time we long for each other's company just like lovers 2000 miles apart. That's where a little creativity and a good long distance phone plan helps.

One thing I noticed as our relationship progressed from forums to email to phone to in-person visits is that after we'd met in person, email just wasn't as satisfying as it used to be. (Forums have no privacy - we don't even bother any more.) But it's such a convenient way to let each other know who we're thinking about, we probably send a dozen messages a day between us. We work full-time office jobs so we don't have to wait until evening to say "I love you." I can send Linda an email when I get the notion, and if she's busy it'll be waiting for her when she gets back to her desk. Whenever we have news about how our day is going, we can just bang out a message and send it. It even looks like we're working as we do it.

Another thing the Internet has helped us with is our love of popular music. YouTube and other personal video sites are full of music videos with songs that we both like. If I'm missing Linda a lot on a particular day, I can send her a link to a video of Chicago's "Wishing You Were Here." I also occasionally send her text messages with song lyrics that say how I feel at the moment. That can get a little expensive; I don't have a texting plan on my cellular service so I pay 15 cents per message. So I try to keep it to one or two a day.

I mentioned a long distance plan earlier. That's been a lifesaver, and Linda has the papers to prove it. We started calling each other each evening some time back in May, and we almost always talk for at least an hour. One night we talked from 10:00 PM until 6:00 AM the next day. (We don't do that very often. I'm not 18 any more.) Early on Linda signed up for an unlimited long distance plan, and I already had one since my family is in Ohio. But the billing department at Linda's phone company didn't get the memo and her next bill was for over $800. Fortunately she had the paperwork showing she'd signed up for the plan, so they revised her bill to something much more reasonable.

I've joked about setting up webcams so we can see each other when we're talking, but the way our computers are set up we'd have no privacy. I'd rather that my kids not learn about the "facts of life" from the Internet.

Between the Net and the phone we're keeping things alive, but the one thing that carries us through the tough and lonely times is our commitment to each other. It's a wonderful feeling knowing she's watching my back.
Sunday, September 30th, 2007
10:18 am
Sneaky Memories
Yesterday was a beautiful day. Cool, crisp air with a just a few clouds scooting past the sun, and the leaves just starting to turn to their fall colors. And I was in a blue funk from the moment I woke up.

This morning I understand why. I miss Roberta. This was her favorite time of year, and the weather reminds me of the good times we had together. I think she seemed more relaxed in the autumn because she wasn't stressing over the weather, and it allowed her to enjoy life more.

This was the time of year we'd drive for hours to visit a farm market we'd discovered early in our marriage to buy apples, bell peppers, grapes, and whatever else they had just picked. The market was just an excuse; we just loved to be driving together. One day we drove all the way to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, because the weather was beautiful and we didn't want to go home. We were disappointed that the replica 1800-era fort had been closed earlier in the year, but it was still a nice drive.

This was the time of year we baked, too. With apples and other local fruit in season we'd always buy more than we could eat, so we'd make pies. I got to be a fair hand at making pie crust, or at least Roberta wanted me to do it because my crusts turned out better than hers. (That's what she said, anyway. In hindsight I suspect she just didn't want to roll out the dough.)

Even when things were rough between Roberta and I, they seemed to get better in the fall. The time we nearly got divorced, it was in the fall that we patched things up and agreed to stay together.

It was in the fall last year when Roberta's health started its final decline; it's also when she told me she'd be crazy to leave me (which she'd been considering again) because of how I stayed with her through everything that's happened. That's the hardest memory of her entire illness for me. Her heart wanted to come back to me, but she couldn't stay.

I miss her.

I feel odd talking about Roberta in a place where Linda will see, but I know she understands. Roberta is no threat to my love for Linda, and Linda knows I still have moments of grief. Is it any wonder I love her?
Friday, September 21st, 2007
11:26 am
Biological warfare
The kids are back in school now, and are busily exchanging illnesses that they've picked up over the summer. Sometimes I think they take the Pokemon catch phrase ("Gotta catch 'em all!") too seriously. My son is home today with a stomach bug, which means I get to stay home and try to get it from him too. Just in time for the weekend, of course.

Several people I work with have been out during the past week, too. About half of my team has children in school, but we work closely enough together that we'll probably all be exposed to the pathogen du jour. I'm waiting to see which I get first, that or my son's bug. (It might be the same thing - I haven't heard the symptoms of my co-workers.)

My lovely Linda isn't feeling well either, although she doesn't seem to have the stomach flu that my son does. She has a stuffy head and some more troubling problems that aren't contagious. She's an amazingly strong woman, and I know she'll be all right, but I worry. (I've had a lot of practice doing that.) Get better soon, honey.

I've also learned that the daughter of a good friend has a potentially serious condition. I won't go into details, but we're hoping for the best possible outcome.

If you'd like to help, prayers for everyone are welcome.
Thursday, September 13th, 2007
1:22 pm
He's mine!
With a wave of his magic pen, the judge has granted my wish to adopt my son. We met with the judge this morning in his chambers and he chatted with my son while I read and signed a few more papers. It took maybe 20 minutes all told.

Afterward the judge made a point to tell me that my attorney probably lost money on the deal, or at best broke even. I paid a flat $750 for his services; the judge said some attorneys from other counties that have been in his court charge $2000 for the same job. I can say I'm pretty happy with the cost of the whole process, because I expected to pay several thousand for an attorney plus court costs. But the court didn't charge me anything. The only other expense was a co-pay at the doctor's office because my son and I both had to get physicals.

Even thought there wasn't a lot of work involved, at least not for me, I'm glad this is done. It's one more thing to mark off of my list.
Saturday, September 8th, 2007
12:25 pm
Still breathing!
I'm still here, I just haven't had the motivation to write lately. Things are going very well right now. Not that I expect that to continue - I've been at this a while, and I know that "this, too, shall pass." But I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

My son and I are in court next Thursday to finalize the adoption. I'll be glad to get that done, finally. I just realized it's been about 9 months since I started this process. How appropriate. Not that I want to minimize the efforts of you ladies who have carried children for that long. You work a lot harder than I ever will. (But my kid will be eleven years old when it's over.)

Next Saturday I'm going to Canada to see Linda again. It'll only be for the day - money's too tight to allow overnight trips for a while. (Neither of us is comfortable with staying in the other's home overnight - not with the kids at home still.) As I get some debts paid off that should change. I need to start saving some money for our wedding. We're not into big shindigs, but we would like to have a church wedding and a proper honeymoon.

Speaking of honeymoons, Linda and I have talked about a number of different places we'd like to travel to, and it's a pretty mixed collection of locations with one thing in common: solitude, or at least the potential for it. The short list of destinations I recall is Nova Scotia, the Pocono Mountains, the Canadian Express (Toronto to Vancouver by train), and Glastonbury, England. (A friend of a friend owns a bed and breakfast there.) The main thing we're looking for is to be together, without interruptions or distractions.

My son started school this week, and so far he likes it. It's better than day care because the other kids are his own age. He's quite popular at day care, though. The younger kids all yell greetings to him when he gets there, and several teachers and administrators have told me about how polite and well-behaved he is. Like the day care site director told me, "chivalry isn't dead!"

I continue to watch my son to make sure grief over Roberta isn't causing him unnecessary trouble, but so far I think he'll be okay. He made a joke a few days ago that sounded like something I'd say. We've been getting advertising letters from a school in Rochester, inviting Roberta to attend classes. (She had contacted the place a couple of years ago.) My son was with me one day when I pulled one out of the mailbox. When I saw where it was from I let out a disgusted sigh, and he asked me what it was. When I told him it was a school wanting him Mom to attend, he said, "I don't think they want a stinky dead body sitting in the classroom all day."

When you're facing life, you can laugh or you can cry. We both chose to laugh.
Friday, August 10th, 2007
9:11 pm
Swinging both ways...
The pendulum of my life, that is. There's been a lot that's happened in the past couple of years here - some good, some bad. It's been hard to hang on at times, but I never seriously entertained the thought of giving up. Too many people are relying on me.

I'm glad I did hang on. That's how I met Linda, by looking for help so I could hang on through the grief of losing Roberta. But by looking for help I found much, much more. That's why Linda and I are engaged now.

This week I realized something that surprised me. I don't feel widowed any more. I miss Roberta still, and I still shed tears when I remember her, but I don't feel the emptiness that I thought would be a constant part of the rest of my life.

I'm sure a big part of this change is because of Linda. Loving Linda is very easy because she's much more than someone to love. She's also my friend, counselor, and (sometimes) conscience. She's not Roberta, nor is she a substitute for Roberta. She's helped me see how to go on, how life continues for the rest of us when someone we love dies.
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