Story 4July2022: July 4th

The explosions are starting to get loud, and it is still bright and sunny at 7PM. I thought I should start on this blog before the explosions got too loud, and then I would just sit outside and watch the sky. Usually, my neighborhood, before Covid-19, seemed to have enough firepower to take a small city or at least seemed to have declared war on another street. With Covid-19 officially receding, we have returned to a highly explosive July 4th. Also, the weather in our area, unlike two years ago, has been damp, so the chance of causing a fire is slight.

I also received today the badge from WordPress for 182-week straight writing, the Holey Mole-y badge. This comes with the admonition not to stop now but to dig deep and keep writing, thus using the word mole as a pun. I plan to keep digging!

Exhuming this morning, I had trouble sleeping and woke up often. I think I was having some issues with breathing as one of my meds was out, the inhaler QVAR. Or it could have been the pollen just crushing me. I ordered more QVAR, but it was hung up in some strange approval process for by-mail processing between the supplier, Optima, and my insurance United Health Care (UHC). But, I managed to get started before my alarm at 7 and started my day congested and coughing a bit. I did use my other inhaler and felt better.

I can’t sleep when it is so bright out, which could have woken me too. It has been overcast in the morning, so I have slept to my alarm. But today, the clouds parted and gave us a cool but bright morning.

I had yogurt and a lox bagel delivered from Einstein’s Bagels with some more bagels for next week. This came with my decision that I wanted bagels again, so I got the next best thing to New York City ones, local Einstein’s Bagels. Unfortunately, these are a bit too bread-like and bread flavored, not having been boiled in dangerous caustic water while using the flat flavored water of NYC, but these will toast good and need just a little extra cream cheese to cover that sweet bread flavor. So for today, I had a “bad breath bagel” of lox and onions with capers plus a slice of tomato and plain cream cheese (not enough for my taste). I had more bagels included in my order; all but one now in the freezer will be for the week’s breakfast.

I next attended two hours of status meetings running to 10AM. I started to write the previous day’s blog and had it mostly done when the work meetings began. I had to dress and finish the blog before heading to Hummingbird House to see Susie. I also cut a few roses for Susie as the ones I supplied before were fading. I am on call all day.

Evan decided to meet me at Hummingbird House and actually beat me there. Susie had finished her breakfast when I arrived and seemed much more animated than the last few days, which is a good thing. I don’t know how to spell the nurse’s name today, so I will call her nurse for today’s blog. I will get the spelling next time!

After setting up the screen, the nurse got Susie settled in the spare recliner in the activity room. Then, it was time for an explosive movie, John Wick. Before we descended into mindless brain cookies, we called Susan’s sister, who was hosting a July 4th Dinner for Leta, their mom, and Emma, Barb’s daughter. Plus Gordon Barb’s husband. It was ribs and all the fixings. Susie got to chat with Barb, Leta, and Emma.

Back to the film, after the call, Susie and Evan stayed awake for the movie; it is just about ninety minutes and is action-packed. Susie seemed to love it, but it was soon over and time for her to have lunch and for me to find the rest of my day. I have chores and meetings to attend. I had to watch the emails and Slack channels constantly; I was on call, as I have said.

I was sad to leave–it is hard to leave some days.

Evan and I agreed to head to the Pods in Beaverton for lunch. It being July 4th, it is hard to know what is open, so we went for the food trucks near Beaverton City Hall. There the waffle place was open and had a truly scrumptious Monte Cristo waffle sandwich. How can I turn that down? I ordered waffle fries (What else would they have?) to share with Evan, who also got a breakfast sandwich. It took ten minutes, made fresh. I waited in line with unmasked folks, making me nervous even outside, and then found a table less close to people and discovered pleasure in our fine repast.

Soon, it was getting hot, and my laptop was in the car, so I said goodbye to Evan and headed home. There I unloaded and connected the computer to charge and headed out. However, I was on a quest today. I needed my meds, but which Rite Aide was now filling my prescriptions? So I headed to the closest in Beaverton, knowing that the Hillsboro Rite Aide was not listed on the moving notice I saw once on the door of my now former local store. Only had I taken a pic with my phone of the address!

I guessed right, and they had my meds waiting for me. Also, they could immediately fill my $100 QVAR inhaler prescription.

Rant: For those who believe in the free markets and believe medical stuff should be private and controlled by a corporation, for-profit, or non-profit (how it is done in the USA now), I will point out UHC decided (not based on medical reasons) that inhalers need to be more expensive (to keep costs down). Thus, we have a higher co-pay on inhalers as Nike employees than on other drugs. I have asked around, and nobody else with insurance pays $100 for QVAR. So you who believe in corporate control of health care is the way to go, f**k off. 

Having paid too much again, I was happy to use QVAR again and felt better. I also had my other drugs–all generic and rather dull. Also, still $37 (excluding the $100 for QVAR) with insurance. I will skip another rant.

I returned home, rested a bit, and then boiled the last hot dogs I had matching buns with for my July 4th dinner here in the Volvo Cave alone. I like the quiet today (except the fireworks explosions are getting loud). I did this while listening to the shoe company’s 5PM Hypercare call. No issues for me, but I did find some interesting things to listen to. The project is ahead of schedule, and so far, the incidents are not critical–excellent.

I ate my dinner on the deck and then came in and watched a few fav YouTube channels on history.

I next wrote the blog, so it won’t spill into Tuesday morning. Thank you for reading. I will keep digging! It is 8:45 when I type this. I had some interruptions, but 90 minutes of writing time is not unusual for the blog.


Story 3July2022: Sunday

The morning started at 7ish, and I was feeling better about mornings. They no longer felt like something was sneaking up on me, and pop, it was morning! I did Zoom meetings beginning at 8. I also wrote the blog covering Saturday. I have gotten into the habit of writing the blog the morning of the next day. I was happy to finish the work calls without any issues for me and the blog, with plenty of time to dress and be ready for church.

Aside: After the surgery, certain new habits developed in my colon. I misunderstood the signals this morning, and there was a sudden disagreeable clean-up. I only mention it as it is why I dressed so early for church and did a laundry load today. I had to be careful all day and had a close call at Hummingbird House, but no clean-up.

Air Volvo got me to church on time and without incident. The organist, Harold, was practicing a lovely rendition of America when I entered the sanctuary. The Rev. Anne Weld-Martin gave the sermon–our new pastor will not start until next month. She focused on citizenship and the tension of being a citizen of a country and a citizen of the Kingdom of God. The scriptures for the sermon covered the Old Testament prophets saying to walk humbly with God and provide justice in the world. Then the New Testament scripture focused on the story of Jesus asking whose face is on the coin and answering to give Ceasar what is Ceasar’s. Rev. Anne also quoted Martin Luther King saying that the church is the conscience of a nation, not its master or servant. She pointed out that the church is hurt when we fail to keep this separation. Our lives in the US are about giving God what is God’s and also providing to the state what is the state’s while living to bring justice to the world and walking humbly with God.

After church, I joined Anne and her husband, Dr.Rev. Wayne Weld-Martin, for lunch. Anne was fatigued as she was on call for the local fire department and was awakened to help with a terrible car accident, but it was not needed after all. Wayne, who has been in and out of the ER a few times in the last couple of weeks, was feeling a bit better and picked Sherri’s for lunch. He had breakfast, I had the new “goddess” salad, and Anne had a roast beef dip sandwich. We had a friendly chat, but soon it was 1PM, and I had to leave.

Air Volvo got me across Beaverton without incident (I witnessed some extra-legal driving demonstrating exciting lane changes from my fellow drivers), and I was soon at Hummingbird House to see Susie. She was still eating her lunch. The soup was thin, and Susie wore more than she was eating. After I set up for a movie, I helped feed Susie. It was another thirty minutes or more before she was done.

Susie seemed a bit grumpy and not happy about lunch. I think she was hungry, and it was just maddeningly slow going with the soup. Susie gave up on the soup and finished with some apple sauce I fed her. She said she was too full, and that was enough.

Hana, the nurse on for Sunday, moved Susie to the recliner in the activity room. I then called Susie’s mom, Leta, and they chatted a bit. Susie seemed a bit tired but managed to talk to mom for about 15 minutes. Evan, his work closing early for a holiday, came over for a second time and watched the movie with us.

This was the second half of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore that we started on Saturday. Susie and Evan both fell asleep during the movie. I like this one as it seems to have returned to some of the playfulness (even when it is scary) of the first movie of Fantastic Beasts. It also explains some of the illogical behavior of Dumbledore and others in the previous two films. This movie has the replacement of Mr. Depp playing the bad guy. Again, I like this one.

After the movie, I had a call for work, and then with a kiss, I said goodbye to a sleepy Susie. Susie was sleepy yesterday and again today, Saturday. I am becoming concerned that Susie may start a new phase. So, I will continue to watch.

Evan and I stopped by Iron Taps, a new tap house for us. This is a more homey filling place with all the taps written on chalkboards, not using an electronic screen. It was a bit dark for me, but Evan liked it. I then took a status call in my car.

We decided to try to make it work, getting lunch next door at Jimmy John’s Sub. I had the Italian Night Club. This is an old-school grinder with coleslaw, but too large for me. So I ate only about 3/4 of the sandwich. I had a Mexican-styled beer with the sandwich. Previously I had tried a Belgium beer that I did not like much. We carried the subs over to the Iron Tap.

Next, with no work items for me from the calls and watching the Slack channels and email, we go with the board game Architects of the West Kingdom on a corner table with just enough light. I managed to drop the game on the floor while setting up and made a mess. We played a fast game with it ending with Evan missing the win by five points. A very close match.

Architect of the West Kingdom is a newish game with my favorite mechanic. The player has effortless turns and a complex multi-turn strategy. The Euro game style is to have complex turns with many options and possibly does multiple levels of triggering. It can be interesting to have complex turns like in Vindication and various Mars games, but I find games like Concordia and Architects more my style.

Aside: I also like the board game Lisboa which is the worst for complex turns. I find the journey more interesting than winning, and Lisboa is a crazy complex game with fascinating options for each turn. Also, in Lisboa, you can play on another player’s turn. I like that in games–no waiting and wondering what the other players are doing; you are always involved.

I said goodbye to Evan and headed home in Air Volvo. I stopped by to gas up AIr Volvo, having waited until the last 10 miles on the warnings. I would not usually mention such a run-of-the-mill item, but it was my first $100 fill-up! Yikes!

I got home poorer with my new $100 in gas in Air Volvo. I did the dishes and completed the laundry. I finished watching The Ninth Gate with Mr. Depp, a fav of mine. I then read and fell asleep despite all the illegal fireworks explosions.

Thanks for reading!

Story 2July2022: Busy Saturday

The morning started with me waking up alone in the house (Corwin moved out and spent his first night at this new place) at about 7ish. It was, as predicted, an overcast day, with temperatures in the 60Fs (15.5Cs) until the later afternoon. Breakfast was yogurt and liberal Free-Trade coffee (I am about 1/2 thru my locally sold case of coffee).

On going through the holiday weekend, work started again at 8 with status meetings. Nothing for me so far but to watch. I did get asked to approve something as an emergency, but my good friend Mariana did the approval and kindly sent me an email and a text that the issue was handled.

I wrote Friday’s blog, often interrupted by Zoom meetings, following along on Slack channels for important messages, and getting showered and dressed. It took me until 10:30 to get the blog posted. I was rushing to see Susie, getting there nearer to 11 than the 10 I had hoped for.

Arriving, skipping the 20MPH section of Beaverton using Allan Road instead, at Hummingbird House without incident, Susie was just finishing her breakfast of oatmeal and milk (slightly thickened and the oatmeal blender’d). Soon Vanessa, the nurse today, had Susie in the spare recliner in the activity room. I set up the screen I keep in Susie’s closet and the Apple laptop to play the next movie: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Susie has not seen it before.

Susie called her mother on my iPhone, and uses FaceTime to see each other. We try to do this every day. First, they chat for a while. Next, after the call, we start the movie. Susie falls asleep holding my hand, watching the movie a few times. She is tired and also happy to be there with me holding her hand and just falls into a restful sleep. I am rushed for time, so I stopped the movie at 1/3 at noon; Susie was falling asleep anyway. We will continue it on Sunday afternoon (unless there are other crises of the moment at the shoe company).

I head home, stop by Walgreens (our Rite Aid is closing, so it is time to use the close-by Walgreens), and get some wrapping paper. I wrapped my copy of the Scooby-Doo Haunted House game, including a Hot Wheels Mystery Machine Van, and painted figures for the whole gang with the addition of my spare H.P. Lovecraft figure I just finished as the villain. Matt (M@) is having his First Retirement Party, and I thought he would love this as a retirement gift (he can now say as an old guy, “It would have worked, except for those meddling kids!”). He loved it and was happy to receive my punched copy. I have only played it once with Susie. Events have prevented Susie from playing again.

Aside: The whole gang and Scooby-Doo are available at Hassle-Free Miniatures, in metal, in the UK. Freddie is missing his neck scarf (I added it), and the girls are a bit curvier than drawn in the animation but look good. The Mystery Machine can be found online as a Hot Wheel collectible. The van is 1/2 scale compared to the minis but fits on the game board. Hassle-Free also offers a post-apocalypse version of the gang.

I made it to M@ party with the gift and masked only 15 minutes late. I was the only one masked, and soon, I was drinking various adult beverages and eating various snacks, so the masked came off. For the first time, I was comfortable not wearing a mask in a crowd. I was happy to see everyone. Many I have played Dungeons and Dragons at M@ house and have not seen, due to the pandemic, for three years. It was the first time I had seen Niki, M@’s wife, since the last party at M@’s house before the pandemic.

“We made it,” was the comment I heard a few times. Everyone was happy to have the pandemic receding, and lives were being put back together. However, I did notice that all of us are grayer and have new lines on our faces. There was also the slightly haunted look of survivors that I have seen everywhere. Yes, indeed, we made it.

As I mentioned, I had at the party one item from work, but Mariana handled it. I was checking the Slack channels and my email all through the party. Soon, it was 4ish, and I needed to go and call into the next Zoom status meeting. I hugged my gamer friends, so happy to see them, and took Air Volvo home without incident.

The status called soon over, nothing for me, and I was doing laundry and doing the dishes. I had a ham sandwich before heading to M@’s, and there, I also had a burger–it was soooo good. After that, I was not looking for dinner. Later I had some cottage cheese and some canned peaches. I saved the other 1/2 of the canned peaches for breakfast.

I returned to assembling the game insert and organizer for the game Root. Now, in just my limited copy, three boxes and a vinal rolled matt, I wanted to use the insert to maybe get rid of one box. This is a lot of gluing and assembly. So I stopped and started through the night.

I folded and put away the laundry. Then, I ran the clean cycle on the oven. I am not that happy with the self-cleaning features of this Maytag oven. I cannot get the window clean.

I missed a message from The Smiths at 9:45 to watch Obi-one Kenobi together. Instead, I watched my DVD copy of The Ninth Gate. This is an old fav of mine and I like the book: The Club Dumas. This is by a favorite author: Arturo Pérez Reverte. I got about 1/2 and then went to bed about 10:45ish with my phone on loud. I read The Law of Root (the rule book). No calls. I was asleep before midnight.


Story 1July2022: Start of July

This will be a concise blog as I spent most of the day online working on issues.

I started at about 6:45ish and was online reading emails, work emails, Slack messages, and texts. The status meetings and updates had no tasks for me. But, I waited for the corrections to our part of the data conversions to run, and this did not happen until later in the afternoon. I had a banana with yogurt and liberal coffee for breakfast. I was going to have cereal for breakfast, but the tiny sugar ants had found them, ugh! The ants have ignored the ant baits. I will send a note to my pest service to come out and commit insecticide!

While waiting, I updated Quicken and now am in July with my books and enjoyed over $11,000 in expenses for medical in June. This includes some remaining charges from Forest Grove. July will have a few more lagging items, including an ambulance ride for Susie after insurance is over $300, but soon I should have a new baseline for expenses.

I also canceled the last of Susie’s credit cards to remove any more charges. All the donations should be running through the bank now. Anything else is things likely that need to be stopped. I need to conserve my resources.

Aside: I am now feeling well enough to start handling finances. Before, I would just get exhausted.

My sister’s case of chicken soup arrived in Michigan. Linda Wild is not feeling well, so I sent her chicken soup from Amazon. No shipping (but don’t be fooled; it is worked into the price) and arrived the next day. Linda was surprised and happy to receive a little long-distance TLC.

I finally decided to head to see Susie at Hummingbird House; there was no time for a movie today, and of course, things got going at work after I headed out. Just like the previous day! Air Volvo delivered me to Susie’s place without incident while I listened along on the phone. I left the call when I reached Susie.

It was approaching dinner time, but Susie was happy to finally see me. We called Susie’s mother, Leta, while Susie sat in her recliner chair. They chatted for a while. Vanessa, the nurse on Friday, then moved Susie to her wheelchair, and I rolled her out to the park–extending my visit as I felt terrible that the issues for the shoe company had shortened my stays. We enjoyed a warm and sunny day (not the forecast) and watched the yellow butterflies fluttering. Susie was OK with me leaving and enjoyed the extra time.

After a kiss, I got back into Air Volvo and headed to Forest Grove. Mariah had been ill, so it was our first chance to have dinner again. Back to the Black Dog for beers and food. Of course, I reconnected with the shoe company to hear what was happening. I connected to the call I was given (the wrong one) and did hear some of the work.

The fix was done about when I arrived in Forest Grove and met Mariah for dinner. I had a BLT forgoing the extra charge for avocado (making it a BLAT–who wants to eat a sandwich called “blat”). Mariah had some mystery take on a Cubano that I would not recommend. We also shared a deviled eggs appetizer with buffalo sauce (meaning hot sauce after something invented in Buffalo, New York, and has nothing to do with the furry animals in the western USA).

After we send our goodbyes after dinner, I retraced the well-known path of Forest Grove to Aloha (Reedville) and the Volvo Cave. There Corwin was completing his move out. He did leave a few items, including a suit of armor (Susie called it George), to get on Saturday or Sunday. Corwin went out with his friend Andrew with a few more items and no longer lives here; a nine-year adventure ends here, and a new adventure starts for Corwin in his apartment. We all wish him success!

I followed along at work, but nothing broke. I cleaned up a few places and then started building an insert for the game Root. The insert, made from foam board, helps to organize and possibly compress Root into fewer boxes; it takes three so far. I bought it just before I was down with chemotherapy, so it is something I want to get done and is on the backlog of little projects.

I went to bed at about 11ish and read. Finally, sleeping after midnight. I slept well.

Story 30June2022: Thursday

It was a hard day of ups and downs. At the shoe company, we had a break in data conversions, so the day was focused on work items. This will be a concise blog as the whole day was about work which I don’t blog about–well maybe not that concise.

I started the day early, and there was no hint of a break at first. I was up at 7ish and attended that status meetings, and then, having no issues, I got dressed and headed to see Susie at Hummingbird House.

I stayed a bit longer as yesterday’s visit was cut short. Susie was feeling better. Jennifer told me she had a tummy issue Wednesday night, but it had resolved, and she slept the night. Susie’s speech was more challenging for me to understand today, but that could be me as I have been under some stress at work, so I will just see what others say.

We called Leta, Susie’s mother, and chatted with her for some time. Leta then asked me about some items that I will follow up with. Leta, being far away, always feels guilty about not being there to help and often reminds me of things I need to check on. Will be checking on them soon!

Susie is wearing one of the sweaters I brought her for her vast collection still at the Volvo Cave. This is a fav of mine–it is also dry clean only, and Jennifer is ensuring it does not end up in the laundry!

It was cloudy and overcast as usual for June in the Pacific Northwest, with a temperature of only 64F (18C), so there was no quick trip to the park. Soon it was time for me to go, which made Susie sad as I knew she would like to do more that day, but it was a work day for me, so I had to get going. It is always heartbreaking for me, I have tears in my eyes even as I write this, but work pays the bills and provides health insurance. Thus, I must head to the office.

When I get there, I enter a s**t storm, but as an IT professional, I get out my virtual s**t storm goggles and smile and figure out how to help without adding to the stress levels of others. My job as a computer architect is often to be supportive and only join in when asked. If a bunch of folks have a problem and are managing, my job is to be a cheerleader and help others accept and wait. It is so easy to virtually grab the steering wheel and try to drive a solution, but that is not my job unless needed. Thus I helped by being calm and following up on the few items I could help with.

I cannot place any work details here as that is inappropriate, but my emotions can be described. It was hard to do the right thing and just endure the s**t storm (still going on Friday) and be helpful and calm.

I got free lunch at the trucks, a salad with cornbread. It was good, but I hardly tasted it. Again, hard to enjoy an excellent lunch when you are in a swirl of issues. I sat in the command center for the afternoon and early evening and joined various status calls.

When it became clear that we would wait, I went home. Corwin was home and packing–he moves out on Friday and over the holiday weekend. I ordered some favs from Gyro House for us to recognize this important day for him. I got a lamb gyro with a side of tabbouleh. Corwin and I shared some eggplant dip (baba ghanouj) with Corwin enjoying an Iskender plate from Gyro House for his dinner.

The night continued with various update meetings, but around 10ish, it was clear that I could just get some sleep and either be called or wake in the morning. So I read for a bit. Then remembered it was trash and recycling–somehow, it was almost Friday (trash pickups are on Friday with recycling every other week). So the waste and recycling tasks were done with me in my slippers, taking multiple trips as I found more and more to trash or recycle. After that, I was ready to sleep with my phone set on loud. It did not ring, and that closed a tough work day.

Thank you for reading.