Friday, January 30, 2009

January is not my favorite Month

I won't say I hate January, that's too strong a word. But besides the awful weather, it carries many difficult memories for me.
Two in particular bubble to the surface every year, and they both happened in 1995.

First, I got to celebrate the New Year with my Mom in the Hospital from a stroke/diabetic coma. Then on January 29, the night before she was to come home, my Dad collapsed at home while watching the 'Niners crush the Chargers. He died around 2 AM the morning of the 30th.
That was 14 years ago today.

It was very difficult that morning to walk into her hospital room, see her fully dressed, sitting in her chair, ready to go home. Then I had to tell her the man she had been married to for 49 years had died downstairs in the ER only hours before.

So today is not my favorite date on the Calendar.

I could go on and on with a litany of bad memories that have their anniversaries in January, but there is no point. It's the past, and we are supposed to move on from it.

I welcome February with open arms.

By the way, Nemo is still alive, as are the rest of the fish. I have this hope that if they make it to February, they will survive. we will see.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One Fish, Two Fish, Blue Fish, Dead Fish

The Casey family has a long history of looking after God's other creatures. Presently, we have three Cocker Spaniels in our house. We have a feral cat living under our deck, two bird feeders that I keep filled, and as of Saturday afternoon, several sea creatures in a Salt Water tank.

The Salt Water family came about because someone who was moving needed to give their fish a new home, and Mrs C convinced me we should take them in.
I moved them, and their 26 gallon tank, on Saturday Afternoon, and set it up in our TV room. I honestly didn't think anybody had lived through the move. I only saw one of the fish swimming around afterwards, the water was very murky from being shaken up during the car ride. (Note: A Glass tank with 26 gallons of water is VERY HEAVY.) It was also very cold Saturday, and I wondered if the brief exposure to the cold might have been too much of a shock for them.

I was relieved Sunday afternoon to see them swimming around. I fed them, and all seemed well. Mrs C returned from Cape May Point Sunday Evening, and gave them all Casey family names. The two Clown fish she named Nemo and Paint, the bright blue Fish, Dory, and the fat Brown fish she named Bug. There's also a starfish, who, I think in a premonition of what was to come, buried himself in the sand.
Tuesday, Bug was down in the corner, floating sideways. That's not good. But when I went to remove him, he sprung to life and swam away, prompting Mrs C to rename him Lazarus.
Wednesday, I came home from work, and old Lazarus got a new name: "Floater."

Yep, he was dead. So I gave him burial with full honors in the Porcelain Sea.

By the way, we got some crabs as part of the package deal. I know how that sounds, but they do scurry around pretty cool between the rocks.
I'm worried though, because Nemo is acting like Bug/Lazarus/Floater did before he died, and all the fish are hanging near the bottom of the tank, only swimming up to eat. Only Dory is acting like all is cool, swimming all over the place.

We are visiting some Fish Professionals on Saturday to get some advice, but I'm worried that it may be too late for the rest of the gang by then.
So when it comes to caring for God's other creatures, we Casey's are good at dogs, cats, and birds, but fish?
We're going to have to work on that.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm writing as fast as I can

I finished the memoir Tuesday night. I wrote most of it Saturday, while drinking lots of Rolling Rock. the more I wrote, the more painful it became, so I wrote it as fast as I could, before it became too painful to write.
I revisited the most painful moments of my life, and I didn't gloss them over. Writing about my parents and their deaths 6 years apart, and my own guilty conscience concerning my actions was both cathartic and agonizing.
In my home life, on the outside it looks fine, and financially it is, but spiritually and emotionally, I am trying to walk forward on a carousel that is spinning faster and faster, and I don't know if I will get my safety strap on before it gets too dangerous.

Stevie Wonder may have been blind, but I think he saw it pretty clearly:

Signed Sealed delivered, I'm yours, Here I am baby. I've done a lot of foolish things, I can be a broken man.

I'm not a broken man, but I've got my battle scars, and I understand many of the wounds are self inflicted.

When we disregard and ignore our past, it eventually returns in the present to bite us in the ass. I consider myself bitten.
The unresolved conflict that I compartmentalized and buried almost twenty years ago has returned in a new form. I didn't solve it then, I was too immature. So here it is again.
No more denials. Once you get past the pain, as Pablo Cruise says, love will find a way.

I'm writing as fast as I can. I hope I can write the ending this time before it is too late.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Cell Phone in the Toilet

It's one of those occasions where I offer a piece of relevant advice to all my blog peeps out there. Today's lesson is this:

Never try to answer your cell phone while standing at a urinal

I will label this Casey's law # 6

I have been a bit harried at work this past week, and the damn thing never seemed to stop ringing at the most inopportune times. I was expecting an important message, and I know I should have let it go to the voice mail.
But as we all know, I can at times, be an idiot. The phone slipped from my grasp and splashed into a place from which i did not want it to go. So what did I do?

I went to the Janitor's closet and grabbed a pair of rubber gloves, and a bucket. I dug it out, dropped it in the bucket, and then put about a gallon of water in, and then a cup of bleach. I let it sit for an hour. You ever hear a phone ring when it is in water? It's weird, it reminded me of the tsunami I launched on Ripple tank town during a high school physics experiment more than 30 years ago. It had to do with sound waves dispersing across water. I couldn't emulate that noise with my lips no matter how hard I tried.

After about an hour, and about a dozen unanswered calls, I dumped out the bucket in the janitor's closet sink and ran water on the phone for a few minutes. Then I wiped the phone down with a terry cloth towel.
She's still working! The color faded a bit, but as long as she's working, who cares!
I've had it more than two years, I'm due for a new one in a month or so. Think I should tell them what happened? I'll bet Mrs C never uses it again!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happiness is a Heated Mattress Pad

It has been cold. Not just annoyingly cold, but uncomfortably cold. Mrs C made it known to me that no matter how high she turned the controls on her electric blanket, it didn't seem to get very warm, or make much of a difference. I wasn't all that concerned, because I had no electric blanket on my side of the bed. I had added an extra sheet folded double on my side. I wasn't freezing, but I wasn't exactly toasty either.

With that in mind, I told her I was willing to pry a few extra dollars out of my wallet and purchase a new electric blanket for our King Size bed. You know these things aren't cheap, right?
So Saturday afternoon we are at the Big Box store, and the selection is kind of slim. They don't have any King size blankets, which is a stumbling block for me, because I'll be damned if I'm buying two electric blankets.

Then we get to a display at the end of an aisle, and they have of all things, a King sized heated Mattress pad. It has controls for both sides of the bed! It is one big pad, but has separate controls! This has win win situation written all over it! Mrs C can roast on her side, and if I feel the need, I can put my side on low simmer!

So I pried the $65.00 out of my wallet and purchased the heated Mattress pad. We put it on the bed as soon as we were home, and put it right to use Saturday night.
How did I ever sleep on cold nights without this thing?! It is great! The heat radiates up from below, and really soothes my achy joints. The state of early morning stiffness in my surgically replaced right hip diminished drastically in one night. The heated mattress pad works much better than the electric blanket ever did.
More importantly, Mrs C is happy, as are the dogs, who like the bed being nice and warm as much as anybody else.
Sometimes domestic bliss can be found in the most simple pleasures. At least for this most recent weekend, Happiness is a heated mattress pad.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm Writing a Memoir

I'm writing a story about the 15 years and 5 months of life that were spent here on earth by a dog named Fred.
Yes, my memoir revolves around a dog who I served for more than 15 years as Master. I'm not making that up. It details the relationship we had during my "Days of Wine and Roses."

I first started "officially" keeping a journal back in 1983 while on guard duty in the Army. One of the recurring themes in my journal is I used the music I was listening to at the time as a reference point. I've done that all my life, and I still do it on my blog as well.

I have a knack of making mental notes of what song was on the radio at pivotal, memorable moments in my life.
For instance, the December night in 1995 that my wife and I were driving down to Cape May Point for New Years eve, The song, "I'll Stand by you" by Chrissy Hyndes and the Pretenders came on the radio. I had a diamond ring in my pocket and was planning to propose.
When we arrived, I took my wife out on the beach, got down on one knee, and she accepted.

So forevermore, whenever I hear that song, I feel a sense of elation. I remember reaching across the car and taking her hand as it was playing. Now that we have had more than a dozen years of a happy marriage, I have many more moments that I have musical references for. A sad one is hearing "The Living Years" by Mike and the Mechanics on the radio while driving to Ohio on November 1, 2000, for my Mom's Funeral. I heard that same song just hours after I buried my Dad in January 1995, and it brought me to tears.

My wife is really under it right now, overloaded at work, trying to finish her last course to achieve her Master's degree, and she can't seem to get entirely healthy, while also worrying about the health of her own aging father. That's a lot for her to try and carry.

So honey, I have a little message for you, straight from my memory of that day you said yes: "I'll stand by you."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Under the Weather Puppy

Lucy gave us quite a scare this morning at 4:30 AM, when she suddenly suffered a massive and violent seizure. She started foaming at the mouth and convulsing, and rolled over on her right side. I ran to her and held her until the seizure subsided. She was uncharacteristically antsy last night at bedtime, and kept pacing in the hall.
It was all over in under ten minutes, she had trouble walking at first, and we wondered if she had a stroke, but then she started walking around as if nothing had happened, before laying down and going into a sound sleep.
I called from work at 7:15, and Mrs C said she was still sleeping peacefully, snoring away, but Sally and Ethel had both come in and lay down, snuggling up next to her, and licking Lucy.
I called the vet at 9 AM and got her in for a 4 PM appointment. At 3:30, as I was preparing to take her, she started having another, suffering several tremors, and I rushed her to the vets office, where they were able to witness this, less violent attack.
It could be anything, and they did her blood work, but within minutes she was fine again, and her happy little self. She's a senior dog, more than 12 years old, which translates into the 80s for an average human. I've been more worried about Ethel, who will be 13 in June, that Lucy had issues was something out of the blue. I know it is inevitable, but I hate thinking about it.
Lucy is my little black shadow that follows me around the house wherever I go.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

No Money...No Honey A Sunday Undie Story

I am a regular married guy. Like many married guys, I let my wife buy underwear for me. Most of the time, that's not a problem. My wife likes to buy me goofy stuff, like St. Patrick's day, or St. valentines day themed undies, and I have several pair of Looney Tunes Christmas themed undies.
I like to think I'm pretty secure in my self image. This Morning I grabbed a pair after my shower that I thought were black with yellow stripes.

I should have paid more attention. On the Front of them were the words, "No Money".

On the back, a picture of a honey bee and the words, "No Honey."

I went to the gym to work out at 2:45 PM today, and when I stripped down to change, my underwear caused some laughter.

This is the gym where some guys have tried to shave in the jacuzzi, and others have used the hand held hair driers on their groin area. So any guy who would have the audacity to mock me is one who probably doesn't have a man card.

Lets make one thing real clear: Real men will wear the underwear their wife buys them as long as it meets two criteria, it is not pink, and it is not a thong. The only exception is if our kids buy it for us as a present, then we will try it on in the privacy of our own home, but we would never wear it anywhere else. This allows us to truthfully answer the question, "did you ever wear it?"

Now I took my good natured kidding from the other gym rats with a smile, confident in my own manhood, but I made a self conscious note to NEVER Wear those undies on a scheduled gym day again.
I personally think that if I ever end up unconscious in an emergency room, and they have to strip me, that they would see me in my themed underwear of the day and think I was a pretty cool guy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Year ago today....

I went into Lehigh Valley Hospital for a gastric bypass.
I had to get up at 3:30 AM and be there by 5 AM. It is ironic that I woke up at 3:10 AM today and couldn't get back to sleep, so I got out of bed at 3:30 instead of 4 AM and here I am.

I weighed 334 that morning before the surgery. I had been on a low carb diet for a few weeks as instructed. I had been over 350 at Thanksgiving, and I had my fears about the procedure, but after weighing my options, I went through with it.

I'm glad I did. I had made it down to 226, my goal is 220, but when I weighed myself last night after my workout, the scale said 234.
Considering the stress levels at work lately, and my penchant for snacking on occasion during the holidays, I'm not surprised at the backsliding.

The good news is that it is not the end of the world. The surgeon wanted me down to around 210 by April 2009, when I see him for my next follow up. I can still do that.
The Holidays are over, and I'm over the temptation. I am recommitting myself to my diet and exercise program for the next 90 days. Mostly it is diet. I exercise regularly, but I've gotten away from eating as I should. I need to cut back the crackers in the soup, and knock out the carbs that have been creeping in. Exercise wise, I need to push myself at the gym again. The Elliptical is getting easy, it is time to turn it up a notch. I think I need to add a half hour of biking back to the regimen.

Oh gosh, I better get going, Work Calls.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This just in..

Senator Leader Harry Reid (D- Nevada) announces he won't seat New York Giants suspended Wide receiver Plaxico Burress as the Junior Senator from Illinois either.
"Burris, Burress, I don't give a damn how you spell the name, I'm not seating him in my Senate!"
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was unavailable for comment, but one of his spokesman was quoted as saying: "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm going to call the Bleepin Manager!

It wasn't me saying that, it was a very elderly woman in her car at the drive thru window at a bank I will refer to as 'Fuchovia". I was in "Fuchovia" on personal business waiting patiently in line, when it become hilariously obvious to all in line that the old lady in one of the drive thru lanes was not happy. She also apparently had no idea that every word she uttered came over the speaker for all in line to hear.
She was demanding that the young man acting as her teller send her rolls of coin out thru the tube, and he was adamant that he could not do that.
"You've done it before!" she screamed, and I mean screamed.
Very calmly and quietly, he replied. "I'm sorry ma'am, but I don't do that it is against policy, and I can't. you will have to come in."
Now at this particular "Fuchovia" you can see from the waiting area down towards the cars, and I could see this old lady could barely see over the steering wheel, and God forbid, I would hate to be on the road in her vicinity.
She had to be harmless, right?
Well, when Mr. 20 something teller refused her demand, she let loose with a rant that would make a sailor blush, and had those of us watching and listening while in line also laughing.

"I'm not getting out of the Bleepin car to come in your Bleepin Bank! This Bleepin bank isn't worth a Bleepin Damn! You Bleepin mother Bleepers have been stealing my money for years! I'm bleepin pulling around there and you better Bleepin bring my God damn money out to my car! I'm not bleepin getting out!"

I almost wanted to stick around to see how that worked out, but I finished my business and had things to do, so I hit the road. Though I did hear her scream that she was going to call the manager when she got home, she didn't have Bleepin time to talk to that bleepin bitch right now.
If she knows the manager is a woman, I'll bet the manager has had the pleasure of her company before. I bet they know the Grouchy Granny REAL WELL.

If that old lady has kids, I'll bet they just love having her around on the Holidays. She is still driving herself, so they are spared that torture, huh?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mark Trail Saves the Swamp!

But I want to know what happens to the REAL bad guys! You know, that evil DEVELOPER!

It's one thing that the writer for Mark Trail scripts predictable story lines, but couldn't he give us some closure occasionally?
The State police are going to pick up "Rabbit" the nefarious but incompetent murder for hire guy who conspired to dump Mark's cold lifeless body somewhere (But I bet his brylcream Hair would have remained in perfect form), and they are going to bust the drug smuggler's Rabbit subcontracted the hit to. But what about Mr Big Developer? What happens to him? He paid for the hit, are the henchmen now in custody going to turn State's evidence and bring him and his multitude of swamp draining, illegal dumping, and polluting shell companies down?

Probably not. The Swamp in the story has had its water flow restored. all is right with the world, just like the incredible shrinking gas prices here in the real world. YAWN.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's memories

This year Mrs C and I were asleep at midnight. She went in at 9:30 and I followed after the news at 10 on Channel 69. It was so cold that the folks in the Trailer Park didn't come out at midnight and shoot of the guns this year. Yippee!
Usually that happens and causes major eruptions of barking, but no guns meant no barking, and it just goes to show that the cold weather had a very positive effect on some.

For New Year's, I hung the new bird feeder my niece gave me for Christmas out in the yard, and filled it with songbird feed. It pleased me today to see it swarmed with small birds. Sally dog sits at the TV room window and watches them. It is simple, quiet moments like this that always seem to stick in my memory. Sally's tale thumping rhythmically as she watched under an overcast sky in a late winter afternoon's light.
This year's New Years memory is one of a happy black Cocker dog watching birds feed.