One year later…

How do you mend a broken heart?

July 25, 2016 – around 2 or 3 am

She was a beautiful black woman.  She was around 5 foot two inches, smooth skin, large loop ear rings and her hair cut in a buzz cut, nearly bald. Her skull was perfectly shaped.  She carried herself with an aura of pride, strength, and coolness.

Being annoyed at being probed, prodded, and woken up a number of times already that evening, I asked what do you need?  Most likely I was fairly abrupt, for I do that without really trying, even before open heart surgery.

“It’s time for your bath.” She replied softly.

Wondering how that was going to happen, I asked: “What do I need to do?”

“You just need to lie there and relax. I’ll take care of it.” No smile, all business was in her tone of reply.

She went to the keyboard on the computer that was near my bedside, somehow she pulled up YouTube, keyed in something and I heard soft blues sole music started to play. 

She proceeded to wet washcloths in a basin of warm water and started at the foot of the bed.  She pulled up the sheet and laid it just below my crotch.  She removed my socks and proceeded to wash my feet and lower legs.  She hummed softly to the music as she worked.  The music was some kind of soft blues played by a soul brother.

I laid back and let her work.  I wondered to myself:  Just how thorough of a job is she going to do?   

She was a beautiful sexy woman and I told myself this was not the time to test my ability to get an erection after open heart surgery.  All I wanted to do is to enjoy her beauty, listen to the soft music and make her job easier.

After she finished my legs, she then moved to the top of the bed.  She helped me sit up and removed the hospital gown, and after washing my back, she asked me to lie down again.  She then folded the top of the sheet down over my crotch. With fresh washcloths and something she squeezed from a bottle she started washing my chest and incision area.  The song on YouTube changed.  I recognized the song: “How do you mend a broken heart?” by Al Green.

I grinned to myself, thought about it, then said: “Nice, appropriate, selection of music you made.”

As she started to wash the dried blood from my stitches, she replied quietly in a smooth sweet voice: “It helps me past the time.”  I could have easily gotten lost in her brown eyes and in another time would have loved to touch her smooth skin.

I laid back and let her clean my incision. As words of mending broken hearts played in my head, I thought of the suddenness of the decision to have surgery and the relief that I was not going to die today.

As she finished my chest, she swapped the bloody washcloth for a clean one and moved to my arms.

Somewhere between her gentleness and  the lyrics:  “Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again”, I found myself fighting back tears.

When she was done with my arms, she took a fresh, warm, washcloth and in a single motion removed the sheet covering my crotch and covered my genitals with the warm cloth, never exposing anything.

 I didn’t get aroused and then wondered if that part of me stilled worked.  

She finished quickly, covered me with a clean sheet and helped me put on a clean gown.  I don’t remember her ever making eye contact, and I think the only other thing I said to her was ‘Thank you’.

Then she was gone and the music stopped. The normal hospital sounds of beeping monitors returned.

She was the most mysterious woman I have every encountered and I wondered if she enjoyed her job or just toiled through it.

Of all the nurses I saw in my four days at Shady Side, she was the gentlest of them all. I only saw her that one time.

Days later, when I got home, I wondered if she were real or was it just a dream. 

To this day, one year later, I can’t listen to “How do you mend a broken heart” without fighting back tears. I’m still trying to figure that out.

desktop time

So, I was sitting at my desktop doing some consulting work for one of my clients.  It was not a big job, and that was good for with my current back issues, sitting at the desktop is something that I needed to limit my time doing.  It should take me less than 15 minutes to do this job.

So, in starting this minor technical thing, I ran into a glitch. Glitches are common in  technical work.  So, an hour later of investigating and figuring out how to deal with the glitch, I got back to the one thing I originally sat down to do.  The glitch had to do with something in WordPress and just before I shut down my own blog that I use to test things, I noticed a few errors in my blog posts. How log can it take to fix these few errors?

An hour later, my back hurting I got up to take a break.  I answered a call, then as I went to put my phone down, I noticed an email arrived. I checked it and saw I needed to do another minor task for another client of mine. I returned to the desktop, with a bowl of cereal in hand.

An hour later, now my back hurting more and my cereal bowl empty. I went to shut down my blog that I had been working on to fix those minor errors.  Hum, I never noticed that many of the posts I imported from my Google blogspot had some many ‘uncategorized’ entries.  That needed fixed.

An hour later, I was still not done, now my back is really hurting and I needed to sit in front of the piano to practice some pieces before my lesson tonight.

So after five hours of sitting in front of my PC, I got up from my chair and left my screen with the blog still needing work. I hobbled away, my back bent and leaning to one side.

And we wonder why we are so busy these days, and why our body aches.

 

Reunion question of 2017

 

Rita and I want to answer the question of attending a family reunion this year.  We have given this a lot of thought because we really enjoyed seeing everyone and watching them interact.

 Having a reunion at Rick’s place is problematic for the east coast travelers (many of my immediate family). Our place is conveniently midway between mid-west family and east coast family.   Rita and I could offer to host it here to remove that traveling concern, and we would be pleased to do that if it were not for another issue that has emerged this year.

This issue is the division in the country and family due to the election.  The election has caused emotions and intensity to reach an extreme level.  The nation is divided and many people can’t talk to each other about topics surrounding it without reverting to name calling, anger, and other negativity.  This is true within our own family.  As kind of an elder of this clan, I want to tell everyone to go to their rooms and stay there until they can treat each other respectfully.  However, that demand does not work with independent adults.  And I like my family to be independent.

After much discussion and thought, Rita and I have concluded that it is too soon for some to put their beliefs and political feelings aside to enjoy each other.  I suggest we postpone the reunion until next year. That way, time may tone down emotions  and give us a chance to realize that family is more important than politics.

Sorry to be so blunt and hope you do not see this as unreasonable.  You all are way too important to me to allow the current political environment to ruin our relationships.

Colorado Trip

My son,  Adam, is hiking the Colorado Trail, which is a 483 mile trail from Denver to Durango.  He plans on taking about six weeks to that

Along the way, he has planned various resupply points.  I plan on flying to CO Aug 5th through Aug 17th and plan on hooking up with him at one, or maybe , two resupply points.  They are marked on the map below with purple pins.

Map of Adam’s hiking plan, showing my plan to hook up.

Also, there is a 4 wheel drive road that goes from Silverton to Sony Pass where I may meet him on trail (of course I may bring water, candy bars, and non-trail food).

Here is a link to the 4 wheel drive trail.

I’m actually toying with doing that drive trail (60 miles?) from Lake City to Silverton, hooking up with Adam at Sony Pass.  That may be a hoot!

This blog entry was started in June, 2016.  The trip to CO was canceled due to my need to have an immediate open heart surgery to replace my Aortic valve.  (I also started a blog entry about that also that I'll post later.)  This blog entry was never finished or edited. I posted it here for archival reasons.

I Can’t Fix This

 Note: I first wrote this on November 11, 2016 as a post in my Facebook account.  I copied it to my blog for archival reasons, but didn’t make it public, for I normally want to keep my blog political free.  After a few months of consideration, thought, and healing. I decided to post it on my blog. I’m not too concerned about it being political for nobody reads my blogs except some of my family. And I consider them safe people from judging me.

When I was a parent of young children ,I would be on my way to the basement where my workshop was, and I would often find a broken toy sitting next to basement door.  I would take it to my workshop ,and more times than not, fix the broken toy. One time, I even took one to my place of work and had the engineers challenged as to how to fix it.  When it came to broken toys, my children may have thought that I could fix anything.

They carried that attitude into adulthood.  I would get calls to discuss them losing a job, a breakup in a relationship, or one of their kids acting out.  They would call to share in the moment, but they also wanted to see if I had some advice or secret that could fix whatever was going on.  Often, I would be able to shed some sanity into their life at the time. That may have enforced their opinion that I could fix anything.

Well, I can’t.

In the wee hours of November 9, 2016, we found that Donald Trump would be the next president.  Like stepping on a rake, shock hit us.

Donald Trump is a man who some think was one of the worst choices ever to run for president and others think he may be able to fix the wrongs of Washington.  Shock, anger, fear, disappointment, and many other dark emotions set in some like bad virus.  Others felt elated, happy, hopeful, and filled with good feelings like the sun shining after a long rain.

The gulf between those who despised Trump and those who saw him as a savor not only widened, but became impossible to cross.  Neighbors couldn’t talk to each other. Co-workers couldn’t discuss the results without anger and harsh words.  Social media was filled with posts and comments that contained the worst in many.  And, to be fair, the best in some.  News media focused on those negative traumas that got eyeballs or sold newspapers.

Many felt their world was broken.  And, in their eyes, it was broken.

Siblings exchanged messages that were filled with name calling, anger and hate.  Damage was done to relationships that events in Leadville were never able to do.

Well, I can’t fix it.

If I could, I would.  I know of nothing that should invoke such emotions and actions. But, this election did. Some of my children are handling disappointment much better than others. Some are not.  I want to step in the middle, wave my hands, yell, threaten, and send everybody to their rooms until they can be civil with each other.  But, I can’t. They are adults, not children. They need to be responsible for their behavior and deal with the ramifications of it.

 I can’t fix this.

And, I’m extremely sorry that I can’t.

May 2016

There was a time when I worked in the high tech industry that I had to write status reports every month.

I hated that.

I tried to get creative, but more often than not, I was asked to keep with the ‘standard’ format.

So, now that I’m retired, I often wonder: ‘Just what did I do last month?”

So maybe I should write a status report.

May, 2016

Accomplishments

Windblown Studio work:

  • Did two gas firings.  One was a regular glaze firing which came out fairly good considering the cones were made pointing the wrong direction.  Instead of them falling away from each other, cone 9 fell into cone 10, and 10 fell into 11.  The firsts time I noticed that was when cone 9 fell at the bottom and pushed the other two cones down with it.   This make it somewhat difficult to tell when to shut down the kiln. But experience paid off and the results looked good.  The second firing was to fire four saggers.  This was to go to 1650 degrees Fahrenheit.  It, also came out good.
  • Private Raku firing:  On May 30th, we did a private Raku firing.  The rain hold off until our third and last firing.  We finished it in light rain. The results were very good. The kiln held up for another firing, only needing some minor door Kaowool repair. Rita got the best piece out with a platter that was turned upside down in the can – giving the red bronze luster glaze good reduction and a copper that is just spectacular.

Medical:

  • An call to my skin doctor got me an appointment to have him check a lump on my temple.  He removed it (with a scapula)  and the lab tests showed it benign.
  • A call to eye doctor got me an appointment to check my left eye. It was having rings of light flashing when I moved my eye a certain eye. Being concern about a detached retina, he checked it and said it as note the retina but rather the vitreous pulling on the retina.  Had it been accompanied with lots of new floaters or other material floating in my vision, that would indicate a torn retina.  But is wasn’t, so now, I just get a light show when I’m out at night.
  • My normal annual visit with my GP was more of a discussion with her about my heart and blood test results. My cholesterol was up (over 200) as was my triglycerides. This was disappointing since I have lost about 13 pounds since April and have been eating much more healthy than ever.  The doc said a weight loss can actually increase triglycerides. However, keeping with the cardiologist’s desires to get my cholesterol down,  she put me on a statin called Atorvastatin ( a Lipitrol generic product).  Her quote was: “If cardiologist had their own way, they would have lipitrol in the drinking water.”   She also ordered a pulmonary respiratory test to make sure my shortness of breath is not due to some lung problem.
  • My stenosis  still haunts me. Cutting grass, walking up the hill, playing ball with the dog, cutting up wood, walling to the mailbox, and anything strenuous causes shortness of breath. frequently minor chess pain.  At night before I go to sleep, my heart and I have this conversation:  It says: “I’m not healthy” and I say: “keep on pumping.”

Other:

  • Zoe got sick. Some kind of allergic reaction. I suspect it is the flea collar.
  • On May 13th,  I went to MA  to visit Chris  and see his boys play little league games. The game was canceled but I did get to see them practice.   I stayed at Eric’s and we had a few drinks and conversation together. I caught Neil and Dianna going to the movie: Jungle Book, so I tagged along.  I also got to see Georgia’s piano recital, which was a great experience. (see blog post)
  • Technology consulting this month was just under 10 hours.
  • Replaced the kitchen faucet.  The difficult part was getting the old one out of the sink. I actually had to take the sink out in order to get the nuts removed from under the faucet.  The new one went in easy compared to that.
  • Finally finished the wiring from the drawing room project. I installed the two way light switch in the kiln room and wired up the outlet to finish all the circuits in the drawing room.
  • When I cut the upper field of grass, I had to rake and pick up the ‘hay’.  Hope to not have to do that again.

The Recital

Recital

May 15, 2016
Northampton, MA

After spending over 70 years on planet Earth, I find little that moves me to tears.  But I recently attended a piano recital to see my granddaughter play and was surprised that I was touched by the other kids playing.  This recital was a special moment.

Click to play the music recorded below while you read on.  (I was going to make it auto play, but find that aggravating in other sites, so I put the playing control in your hands.)

If you pressed the play icon, the Beatles piece you are hearing was performed by a boy named Levi who was somewhere between 10  and 12 years old. All I could see is his blond curly hair as he sat on the piano.  He not only played the  piano, but he sang into a microphone. With his lips almost touching the mic,  he looked like a 12 year old  Randy Newman.  The audio is not very good for I recorded it with my cell phone  from the back of the room and Levi  had trouble keeping his mouth close to the mic while he played the base notes.

What touched me was not necessarily the quality of this performance, or any of the other kids that performed, but rather the expression of their passion for music.  I saw  Madeleine perform a piece she wrote herself,  Noah move his body in beat while playing the Star Wars theme, the tapping foot of Nicholas when he did his own jazzed up version of Lightly Row.

Kids age 10 – 12 do not  exude their passion for music, especially at a piano recital. They are normally terrified of missing a note, or forgetting what comes next.  They just want to get their playing done quickly and off stage.  But, what I saw that Sunday afternoon were a bunch of great kids that love  music and they were not ashamed to show it.

My granddaughter’s performance was good. She showed her feel for music when she put in the appropriate pause between notes for effect. She was not in a rush to get the performance done. She wanted you to feel the music, using the silence between notes to instill that touch.  If you were not noticing, you may think it was a mistake, but it was deliberate and effective.  Who teaches kids to do that?  This is special.

A few days later, after I got home,  I would catch myself humming  Ob-La-di, Ob-La-Da.  When I listen to these pieces, it still  brings tears to my eyes.

I emailed the teacher thanking her for doing such a great job and wishing her to never stop. Teaching young’ens to play the piano, a number of people can do that.  But to teach them to improvise,  compose and put a happy Beatles  tunes in your head for days,  now, that is great!

 

North Topsail, NC

A friend of mine, Bob, purchased a house in North Topsail Beach, NC. It was organically built and owned by his parents.  Between the time Bob purchased it and his parents owned it, it was owned by a guy who was just interested in the rental income. He did little to upgrade it or maintain it properly.

It was in sad shape when Bob  bought it.  We were having dinner with him and other friends when he said he was going down to work on it .  I asked if he needed any help.  He said he would pay for my trip, housing and food if I went with him to help him.

Sounded like a free trip to the beach to me, So, I offered to go and help.

Prior to our arrival, Bob had contracted a house mover to have the house raised up 4 feet to meet the latest flood height codes.  After the house was raised, another contractor replace all 49 pillars.

We arrived March 2, and found the house  now stood over 11 feet  off the ground, just one foot above flood level.  The increase of the flood plain by four feet is the  impact of beach erosion and  global warming house-raised

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo below shows the I-beams lowered after the house was sat back down on the new pillars.beams-under-house

roof-viewOne of the first tasks was to fix holes in the roof. We climbed out the window and I will admit, putting aside my fear of heights, the view of the ocean was wonderful.

window-injuryIn the process of climbing in and out the window, we found out that the window springs failed when one came crashing down on my arm like a guillotine. The good news that it was my arm it that was in the window, not my head.  This was the first of my body damages.

 

roof-hole1To fix holes in the roof, we first had to remove the shingles where we would find rotten sheathing which we removed.

 

roof-hole2

 

We even found rotten rafters, which we had to repair.

 

nail-injuryIt was removing the rotten sheathing when I got my second injury.  My hand was poked  by a nail when I was throwing a piece of rotten sheathing away.

From then on, I wore gloves.

roof-repair-0

 

After cutting out all the rotten parts, we would patch in new sheathing.

 

roof-repair1Then we would put on new tar paper. I would often let Bob tack in the nails near the edge for  when I dangled my feet over the edge, I got a instant case of vertigo.on-edge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

roof-repair-2We then would put on new shingles and seal places with the ugliest, stickiest, hard-to-clean, black tar calk Bob could fine.  No matter how careful we were, we would always put on hands down  in a fresh blob of it.

Other than fixing holes in the roof, we found damages showers from the house raising and tubs that we had to remove. To get them out of the bathrooms, we had to take down walls.  To get the one piece shower/tub out of the house, we had to  cut it in half.

shower-damage shower-out

 

tub-out tub-out2

floor1

The floors also had issues. We took up the floor2 vinyl flooring to find press board used as sub flooring. When press board gets wet, it either  swells or decays, leaving spongy spots in the sub floor.

We removed these and replaced it with 3/4″ plywood.

 

It was with great pleasure to heave a old broken refrigerator, a honker, heavy tube TV, broken interior doors and the rest of the derbies in a dumpster.

dumpster1. We gave the vinyl flooring, washer, dryer and stove to Habitat for Humanity.

We worked  two weeks straight. but  there were times we took breaks to see the sunset or the beach.

sunset-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ate (and drank) well. I had seafood ten days straight, but saladbeing in the south, it was often deep fried. To balance this with more healthy food, I had a salads like the one pictured. The mudslide was giving into my  weakness for chocolate, ice cream and vodka. mudslide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were times I got to visit the beach. There were four times that I walked on the beach and each time I saw no people.  My only company was my shadow.beach1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the last day, the ocean mist was so strong, it looked like fog. beach2

 

 

We left for home on March 15, 2016.  I had hopped to loose weight during this work trip.  When I got home, I found I had actually gained 6 pounds!  So much for southern fried seafood.