Soundtrack: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. Check them out!
Yeah, It's been a long time. First, the last post is a detailed route of the road trip my buddy, Guido, and I took over the course of several months in early 1996. I tried to recreate it as accurately as I could. Sorry to leave you hanging on that.
With the news of the loss of Doc today, I've been thinking about all the friends I made through this blog and all the fun we had. I , for one, had a fucking blast with it. Hell, I met my wife because of it! And it's not that I'm super-bummed that it has sort of run its course. I figured it would eventually. Even so, I think I'll always feel connected to my blog friends. Megan and I were talking about it over dinner, how organic it all was. Most of it was pre-Facebook, so we were getting to know each other based primarily on our writing and I think ultimately it was our senses of humor that was the heart of the connection. Now that Facebook has supplanted blogging as the way most of us stay in touch, It feels good to know I can still know what's going on with many of you.
With the help of my reader, I still notice the rare occasions when people post something. I read all the recent posts from Doc, so today's news wasn't a complete shock. It sucks. While I have no concept of what Doc and Flannery's lives have been like over the past few years, I can say that the limited memories I have of meeting both of them and being welcomed into their home are happy ones. Doc was nothing but kind to me. He introduced me to friends, made me laugh, and got me drunk.
I make no judgment on what Doc did. I hope the people who knew him best and who are in pain right now will find comfort.
Megan had been bugging me about wanting to get a dog. Don't get me wrong. I love dogs. I'm one of those weirdos that actually likes dogs and cats. Megan grew up with dogs. My family didn't get our first dog until I was in college and away from home most of the time, so I didn't really have a full appreciation for having a dog. We both agreed that if we were going to get a dog, it would be a shelter dog and an older dog. There are two shelters near us whose websites we would check regularly. There was a ten-year-old female mixed breed named "Annabelle" that we were interested in, so we went to look at her and the other dogs. We took two dogs for walks while we were there. The first one, Beau, just didn't seem interested in us. In the meantime, some other people had taken out Annabelle, so we waited our turn. The connection was instant. She was happy and full of energy and incredibly sweet. She didn't seem to know any commands, but she didn't bark or jump up on anyone. We decided we wanted her, but because the shelter knew we had cats, they had to call our vet to make sure we were up-to-date on their shots before we could take her home. Of course they weren't, so that delayed us a few days, but on September 12th, we brought "Annabelle", now Beatrice (our cat's name is Annie) home.
The first order of business was addressing her teeth. Beatrice had been a stray when the shelter got her, so the only things we knew were that she was around 10 (they guessed) and that she had some dirty-ass stinky-ass teeth. We got her in for a cleaning where they were forced to removed ten teeth. Don't worry, dogs have 42 teeth, so she still had a few and they were now clean.
We weren't sure how she'd be with the cats, but there was never any problem between any of them. Bea (as we called her) seemed pretty energetic for an older dog. She loved to go for as many walks as she could and was quite good at chasing a tennis ball. We also discovered that she was better trained than we originally thought. It turned out she did know "sit" and "shake" and understood "come" with a little instruction. She was a big sniffer and loved other dogs and people. I wasn't sure how'd I'd feel about the requisite walks before we got her, but she made each one a joy. It didn't take long for her to win people over with her smiley face and gentle nature.
Towards the end of October, she started having diarrhea a lot. We took her in and they gave us medicine which seemed to do the trick. We thought maybe she had drunk some puddle water. Shortly after, she stopped eating regularly. We thought it might have been because of the medication. I took her in and the vet did an x-ray of her stomach. She found enlarged lymph nodes around her G-I tract. She knew there was cancer, just not how widespread. She told us that Bea was okay at the moment and might be for perhaps another few months with the help of steroids, but she would eventually decline and we would have to decide when to make the tough decision. This was October 28th.
The rest of that week, her appetite came back and she was back to her old self. We decided to make the most of the time we had left with her. She got to eat whatever she wanted, which happened to be scrambled eggs. This Tuesday, though, was the start of a shit week. I noticed Bea standing on the couch with her head drooped to one side, behavior I'd never seen before. Then she tried to jump down and collapsed and couldn't get her balance. I thought she had had a stroke. I called Megan and told her to come home right away. We decided that it was time. She couldn't walk. Her eyes were all crazy. We took her in and the vet told us he suspected vestibular syndrome, an inner-ear infection in older dogs that causes vertigo. He recommended that we wait three days because it usually clears up and the dogs typically get back to normal quickly. We took the vet's advice and brought her home. That night we hand-fed her and gave her water by syringe. By the next days she was getting her balance back and could go outside on her own just like the vet said. She was improving the next day and we were feeling good. Then she stopped eating again. She had already lost quite a bit of weight. Then she stopped drinking. Then, last night, she puked and there was blood in it. That was it. We had the vet come in at 9:30 last night and put her to sleep. That is the first time either of us have had to do that.
As someone who has had a lot of pets over the years, I shouldn't be surprised by how quickly I fell in love with this dog. She was just so fucking good and happy and sweet and we didn't get enough time together - less than two months. It's devastating. I take comfort in knowing she didn't have to go through all this stuff in the shelter and that we got to spoil her at the end. We'll miss you, Busy-Bea!
2006 -343 posts (note that I started the blog in June)
2007 -610 posts (Jesus!)
2008 -396 posts
2009 -232 posts
2010 -170 posts
2011 -48 posts
2012 -10 posts
This will be my first post of 2013.
Even though I don't post, I still occasionally check my stat-counter thing out of curiosity to see what people are searching for. I can also see how people found the blog. I noticed one had found me through a page on Wikipedia. I clicked on it and it turns out one of my posts is a source for Umbrella Hat on Wikipedia. I swear I had nothing to do with this. If this is to be the legacy of this blog - a resource for people who randomly Google "umbrella hat" - I'm cool with that.
Until next time...
I've lived in seven places.
here they are in order:
August 1972 - August 1990,
May 1991 - August 1991,
May 1992 - August 1992,
May - 1993 - August 1993,
May 1994 - February 1996,
July 1996 - January 1997
August 1990 - December 1990
December 1990 - June 1991,
August 1991 - May 1992,
August 1993 - May 1994
September 1992 - May 1993
January 1997 - July 2005
July 2005 - May 2011
May 2011 - Present
There were a few months in 1996 where I was living out of a
Ford Club Wagon 15- passenger van that looked like this, except maroon:
GKL posted this video on Facebook and it gave me chills. It captures all of the things I love about skiing. I've been privileged to have skied at Vail three different times. The first time I went was in junior high. I had saved up all my lawn-mowing money during the summer and fall to pay for my airfare, lift tickets, and my share of the lodging. My dad agreed to pay for the food and rental car. I went with a cousin who was my age and we quickly ditched our parents to find all the best spots. I repeated this in high school with three of my friends. The last time I went was my freshman year in college. I got a bunch of money when I graduated high school that I saved in order to go. Five of us road-tripped from Illinois for one of those cheap-o college Christmas break package deals. By now I was improved as a skier and felt confident in a lot of the harder terrain at Vail. Of all the places I've skied out west and overseas, I've always had the best skiing at Vail. This video makes me want to ski there again as soon as I possibly can.
Is that really the last time I posted anything? Eesh. That's pathetic. Well, since then, we bought a new house in a town about twenty minutes north of where we were living. It's perched high above the Bear River and is blocks from Lake Michigan. It is cheaper than the last house, but nicer. We are renting the old place for now and actually saving money each month. I made a video to give you a little flavor of Sunday afternoon, northern Michigan-style. The video starts off slow, but if you stick with it, I think you'll be glad you did. I duct-taped a camera to my handlebars and all footage is spontaneous. It's days like this that make me feel like I live in fucking Hobbiton.
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According to my StatCounter, there are a lot of people looking for pictures of guys in umbrella hats. Seriously, I get more visits everyday for that post than any other, with the possible exception being the Sandy Duncan Glass Eye post. Well, for those of you who are into guys wearing umbrella hats, here are a few more. Dig in!
Thanks to some warm weather the day after Thanksgiving, I was able to get one last kayak in before winter down the river that runs past my house. I fucking love it. I drive a few miles, drop in, paddle back to the house, and then either ride my bike or have Megan drive me back to my truck. When I went earlier in the fall, the river was teeming with huge salmon which were jumping out of the water left and right. The camera is duct-taped to the center of my paddle.
*Blogger's Note: At 2 seconds, this could be the shortest video I've posted yet.
I haven't talked about it much on the blog, but the last several years have not been good for someone working in architecture in northern Michigan. There are very few people building right now with a glut of cheap real estate and foreclosures available. Last fall it became clear that there just wasn't enough architecture work to keep me steadily busy. So I worked as a paid ski patroller for the resort I've volunteer patrolled at since 1997. It wasn't great pay, but it was something I knew how to do. Besides, I love to be outside during the winters up here, especially if it's spent skiing. Once the season was over, I thought I had lined up more lucrative architecture work, but it fell through. After I got done fixing our bathroom, it was time to find something to do. The resort where I ski patrol also has a year-round zipline tour. Since I knew a lot of the other employees from the ski season, I asked if they needed help. A lot of the college students were leaving to go back to school in August, so I started leading tours and have been there since. The downside is that the pay sucks, at least compared to what I used to make. Luckily, it is a pretty low-stress job. No one ever yells at me for anything. Most of the people who come out are looking to have a good time and I honestly have never had a complaint on my tours. You're outside. The ziplining itself is fun. And now, we are enjoying some kick-ass Indian Summer - leaves at their peak colors and close to 80 degrees. It's beautiful. I also like the people I work with, most of whom are much younger than me. It's reassuring to know that I can still relate to people in their early twenties. It's not something I plan to make a career of, but it's not bad for the meantime. The video features five of the ten lines on the tour.
It's available for instant viewing HERE
...unveiling her new (blow) jobs program. Hey-O!
As someone who likes relatively obscure documentaries, I am pretty limited as far as access to these films living in northern Michigan. Most of the time, I depend on Netflix. The only other venue available to me is the Traverse City Film Festival. I haven't been able to attend the last couple years, but Megan surprised me for my birthday with three movie passes, two of which were docs. The first was How To Start Your Own Country, a film about "micro-nations". It was often humorous, but also thought-provoking. It makes you think about what constitutes a country. The filmmakers (as well as one of the micro-nation leaders featured in the film) were there to answer questions afterwards. The other film was Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, a 3-D film by one of my favorite directors, Werner Herzog. It's about a cave in France where, in the 1990's, they discovered a perfectly preserved set of drawings that are 35,000 years old. The cave is off limits to the general public for obvious reasons and access is highly restricted. To be able to see some of the earliest artwork ever discovered was awe-inspiring and made me wonder what else is out there that has yet to be found. Neither of these films are available on Netflix yet, but be sure to check them out when they are.