Change of Status

I’ve never been particularly close with my Aunt and her family. In my entire life, I only recall seeing her in person three or four times. I’ve long since lost count of the number of times I’ve visited with other aunts, uncles, and cousins; but somehow that particular branch of the family has always remained distant.
As of this morning, it’s now completely too late to fix things with that particular aunt. But I’m gonna try to spend a little more time with the rest of the family, including as many nieces and nephews as I can.

Heading for the High Ground

I heard from Squish last night that she was going to bug out first thing this morning and head for her in-laws’ house. That’s probably a good move on her part. From looking at the maps, the part of New Orleans she lives in was flooded three years ago. The reports on the radio this afternoon had Gustav reaching category 4 and there was talk of a mandatory evacuation coming up, so by getting a head start, I’m hopeful that she’ll be ahead of the crowd.
Evidently Treacy has to stay there until Sunday. I’m not sure if he’s in the Guard/Reserves, or if this is work-related — no doubt Squish will jump in with an explanation at some point, though I’m certain she has other priorities right now — but I’ll be keeping him in my thoughts. (It occurs to me that I might have labeled the wrong one as “Squish”, but its too late now and she got that nickname long before they even met.)
Think dry thoughts.

Summer's Dark Ending

Although I disagree with his conclusion that it’s all meaningless, I thought Dave did a nice summary of some of what’s been going on. My experience over that time frame is a little different; not better, not worse, just different. I’ve been trying for the past couple weeks to find the right way to express it, but what I’ve concluded is that either the right words don’t exist, or else I’m not clever enough to find them.
The past 18 months have been a bit of a roller coaster. There were definitely some high points, but when you’re heading into a valley, it can be difficult to remember the peaks.
Last March, an aunt passed away. It was somewhat expected, and in many ways, I’ve no doubt it was also a blessing. But when the end came, it was astonishing how quick it was.
We’d no sooner laid my aunt to rest then another relative passed away. This time an uncle on the other side of the family. His health had been declining in recent years, but this time it took me completely by surprise.
Right about the same time, a close friend was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Cancer. Thankfully, AJ beat the cancer and recently celebrated her first full year in remission. (This peak I remember. I’m looking forward to AJ celebrating many, many more such anniversaries.)
August of 2007 ended with news that another aunt had been hospitalized as a result of a stroke and for a brief time it appeared that I’d be ending the summer with another funeral. Happily, this was not the case and the rest of 2007 went by on a relatively high note. Along with news of AJ’s remission, friends Sue & Steve announced that they were expecting their first child, I threw my first-ever party for Talk Like a Pirate Day, took a creative writing class, and in November, took my first-ever swing dance lesson.
For me personally, the first half of 2008 was fantastic. I dove into swing dance, eventually taking three months of lessons and although I can no longer be a regular member of the Jaycees, I’ve managed to at least stay involved to the extent the organization is willing to make use of the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired.
The first crack in the patina of joy came in early July when Hodo’s brother passed away after a lengthy battle with colon cancer. I’d never met Chris, but I’ve known Hodo for four or five years, so AJ and I attended the viewing together to pay our respects and make sure Hodo knew that her friends were there for her.
Another shadow crept across the summer sky in mid-August. I’d like to think I could point out Robbie in a crowd, but the truth is that he was only 20 and the generational gap between us was such that I only really knew him as one of the kids who’d been growing up attending the local science fiction conventions. I know his father, Bob, well enough that we’ve occasionally chatted at the same conventions. I can’t claim to be a friend of the family, but I’m definitely part of their community.
In January, Robbie was diagnosed with Leukemia. I’ve known other people with Leukemia and they beat it. Between that and AJ’s successful treatment, I was certain Robbie would beat his cancer too. I was proud to be one of the people who contributed to the more than $2,000 that was raised at Shore Leave to help cancer patients and I was horrified when a month later, Robbie lost his battle.
It’s been raining off and on for the past day and a half. Not a downpour, but enough of a soaking to make the ground soggy and the skies gloomy. It fits my mood.
Last summer my aunt suffered a stroke. She made a partial recovery, but it’s not been going well lately. This past weekend she was accepted into hospice. There are a few potential wild cards that could change everything, but the prognosis at this point is somewhere between two weeks and two months.
I like Dave’s summary of the stages of life, but I disagree with his ending.

The sun rises in the East and sets in the West, and as the day ends, all slips into darkness. This too is meaningless.

When AJ was diagnosed with Cancer last year, her friends immediately closed ranks around her and Mike to make sure they had everything they needed. When Hodo’s brother passed away, her friends closed ranks to take care of her too. And when news came of Robbie’s illness, that community came together as well.
And that’s what I think it all means: Hold on tight to the people you care about. Let them know you care.
So if I seem a bit “out of sorts” or a bit “clingy” in days to come, it’s because that’s what I’m struggling with. I’m trying to figure out how to let my friends to know I care.
And perhaps those are the right words after all.

Regular Joe

So far, I haven’t made a decision between Barack Obama and John McCain. Obama has the benefit of not being a Republican, but I feel there’s a necessity to distinguish between a party’s dogma and the party’s candidate. And at this point, I’m still more than a little tempted to write in a vote for either Zaphod Beeblebrox or Paris Hilton.
Despite that, I’m starting to pick favorite Vice Presidents. Allow me to be the first to point out that it’s a fluff piece designed to make you like the guy, it doesn’t say anything about his politics; but based on today’s Washington Post article, I find that I like Joseph Biden.
Maybe he could be McCain’s running mate too?

Asking for Trouble

The Mad Russian is going to be out of the office for the next two weeks. One week in training, one week on vacation. She won’t be in the office at all during that time, so she’s asked me to water her plants while she’s away.
On the one hand, they’re just a couple plants. But the truth is, people care a great deal about their office plants. You don’t ask someone to take care of your plants if you don’t trust them. It’s a responsibility I’m taking quite seriously and I fully intend to take very good care of those plants.
This raises an important question however. Before The Mad Russian returns, should I replace them with plastic plants? Or with cacti?

Clean-up Efforts Continue

After a bit of procrastination, my efforts to Disenclutter™ the place are getting back into gear. I’ve been using Freecycle for a year or two, but that’s sometimes a little hit or miss, so it’s time to get creative.
Some of the stuff I’m getting rid of is a bit fannish, so for those items I’m trying a more focused effort. I’ve had one reply already from that effort, which is pretty good when you consider that particular section of the site generally gets just one or two visits per week.
The newest effort is an attempt to thin out some of the books I no longer read. Borrowing an idea from Marauder, I’ve signed up with the Paperback Swap site on the theory that I’ll be able to trade books I no longer read for books that someone else no longer reads. The first book goes out tomorrow, but I think I’ll wait until the clutter level has been reduced a bit more before adding anything new.

An Explosion of Bad Cooking

I’ve been having some trouble getting to sleep the past few weeks. Once I fall asleep, I sleep wonderfully, but actually getting to sleep has been difficult. As you might suspect, this tends to lead to a certain degree of difficulty in getting up the next morning, which means rushing through Wylie’s morning walk, eating a very quick breakfast, and praying that there haven’t been any accidents between home and the office. (Even during the summer, someone having the most minor of mechanical difficulties can back traffic up for 20 miles. During the school year, it’s a good day when the sea of brake lights only goes back 20 miles.)
So on Thursday night I decided to plan ahead and made a few hard-boiled eggs. Not the most filling breakfast, but combine it with a bit of milk and perhaps a granola bar and it’ll do the trick.
A couple hours later, just as I was getting ready to go to bed, there was an explosion in the kitchen. While I was trying to figure out what the heck was going on, another egg exploded, this time knocking the lid off the pan.
I’ll bet you didn’t know eggs would explode that way either, did you?