Monday, October 26, 2009

Did I offend the God's????

Let me be clear, the title of today's post is a J O K E! As I would hope you all know by now, I am a very most optimistic, hopeful, positive person. In many cases I think I have been offered the challenges in life I have faced because I do have the capability and capacity to face these challenges and surmount them. So, what is the latest challenge? Nancy is now sick and in hospital. She has a severe case of colitis. This condition is a significant inflamation and irration of the lining of the intestine. There are many potential causes of it, but in Nancy's case the current belief is that it being caused by a bacterial infection. Nancy had been feeling back all last week. I took her to the doctor last Thursday and there wasn't much done for her at that point. She began to feel even worse on Friday and by Saturday I told her that she really needed to go to the emergency room. I really left it up to her, but there was no way I could have imagined her making it through the weekend without seeking medical attention. After she hemmed and hawed around for much of Saturday morning but I finally got her into the ER around 1:00PM. Of course it took hours for the doctors to determine what the course of action was and we didn't find out until almost 9:00PM that she was going to be admitted. They did a complete series of test upon her including a CT scan of her abdomin, an echogram of her upper abdominal quadrant, loads of blood counts and lots of different kinds of cultures. So she has been in the hospital since Saturday afternoon getting loaded up with all kinds of IV antibiotics to fight the perceived infection in her intestine. Unfortunately because of the hospital regulations she has not been out of bed hardly at all since Saturday. I am NOT happy about this as her physical condition is rapidly declining. Today I spoke to both the nurses and her doctors about getting physical therapy ordered. The agreed to it but as far as I could tell when I visited Nancy this evening nothing happened. So... I will have to be all over them tomorrow! I think Zack is feeling the stress and strain of not having Nancy around the house and his anxiety levels have ratcheted up again. I am trying to keep him in check so that he doesn't totally and completely start down the meltdown path again. That is something I do not want to have to deal with right now. On top of all this, Zack is on Fall Break this week. Our original plans had been to take off and head to the mountains for several days, but needless to say this is not going to happen. So instead of taking vacation I worked today and will work tomorrow. I will be looking for fun things for Zack to do to make up for the lost vacation time. We hope everyone's week is off to a great start! Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Night for Neither Man or Beast

The cold winds of winter are beginning to blow through the Colorado Rockies today. Snow is falling and the landscape is turning white with the promise of an early winter ahead. Even the animals seem to sense that this change in the weather is the true beginning of winter. The squirrels despite the snow and cold were making last ditch efforts to pack on the food before everything is frozen and still. One audacious little bugger even came right up on to my front porch and made a meal of the cool little pumpkin I had there as a decoration.
So tonight Zack and I are hibernating all warm and comfy in our home. I am in my element as I sit here in my office typing away with some wonderful music playing in the background and the glow of the coals in my fireplace filling the room right outside my office door.
Tonight is the kind of night that leads to lots and lots of thoughts running through your head. My mind is lost on the thoughts of friends scattered far and wide across this world tonight. I don't know why this kind of weather makes me feel very thoughtful and deep, but I am so very thankful for all those people in my life. I am so thankful for that little man who is right now upstairs doing his marvelous trick of watching TV and playing a computer game at the same time. (Good god, what does that say about my parenting skills!!!)
Sometimes you just have to step outside of the day-to-day existence and really give thanks for all that you have and all that you hold dear. And tonight I am very thankful and want to do as much as I can to give back.
On a totally different note, one of my friend's fathers is currently in surgery in a hospital in Northern Colorado in a struggle for his life. If you don't mind give him a good thought, say a pray, spin your pray wheel - (whatever it is that you do to express your spirituality) for him so that he pulls out of this difficult spot.
Have a great evening! Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Adventures in Western Pennsylvania

Last Friday - October 16, 2009 I took a trip that I hadn't taken in over 5 years. It was a trip of distance, memory and emotion. For the first time in more than 5 years I travelled back to my childhood home in Western Pennsylvania. The last time I travelled back there my life and my outlook on life were very different. In some ways this trip was about putting the last of the ghosts of my old life behind me. But, I also didn't realize to what extent that I would renew old friendships and pathways by taking this journey. I left Denver on Friday using a United Airlines frequent flyer ticket. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) the days of me being a 1K flyer on United are long past. So I ended up in the last row of an Airbus A320 in the middle seat. Given my size it really isn't a big deal to me as I still have a fair amount of room even in a middle seat. I just kind of think it is funny as about every flight I have taken in the last year I have ended up in the last row of the airplane. On the way to and from Paris, Zack and I there were in the last row. When we went to Las Vegas in the spring we were there in the last row. When I went to Scotland in February I was there in the last row. I kind of chuckle to myself now when I look at my boarding card and I realize - "Yep another back seat trip". As soon as I arrived in Pittsburgh on Friday evening I realized why I had left Western Pennsylvania. The skies were filled with clouds and rain. The kind of sky and weather I experienced in Western Pennsylvania we only experience maybe once or twice a year in Colorado. I suppose the rain, fog and clouds are part of the allure of Western Pennsylvania as it makes the sunny, cloudless days that much more appealing. Friday evening was spent catching up with my sister Lesley. We met at Primanti Bros in the Strip District and had dinner. I of course had to have one of the famous Primanti Bros ungodly large sandwiches. I had a steak and cheese sandwich. These aren't just sandwiches as they are entire meals on bread. Every Primanit Bros sandwich has both coleslaw and french fries on it along with lots of other stuff.

(Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington with the clouds hanging low during Friday's storm.)

After leaving Primanti Bros, I headed on down memory lane! First stop was Mt. Washington. The view wasn't that great because of the rain and clouds but it was really neat. On the way down off the bluff, I nearly hit two dear that were out strolling along the road on that very steep hillside. After Mt. Washington I did the entire South Side and Oakland. I was unhappy to see that the club that replaced the "Upstage" in Oakland is finally gone. Argh... one key piece of my wasted college years as a new wave 80's rocker is gone! I ended up driving around various areas of Pittsburgh for several hours more before I finally decided to head to my hotel which was in Greensburg. The town of Greensburg is about 45 miles to the southeast of Pittsburgh. The population of the town is roughly 16,000 people with a total of 60,000 or so living in the surrounding area. Greensburg was really the destination of my trip as I was in town for my high school 25th reunion. I had attended Greensburg Central Catholic for high school and graduated from there in 1984.

The Comfort Inn on Route 30 outside of Greensburg was where I was staying for my 2 days in town. I arrived there around 10:00PM or so on Friday night. Needless to say I was tired and besides reading for a while, I pretty much went right to bed.

Saturday morning dawned gray and cold - just like it had been when I went to bed on Friday night. The previous evening I had made arrangements to meet up with my sister Lesley again for breakfast. My original plans of taking a hike on the Laurel Ridge Trail near Somerset were out the window as I was just not in the mood to hike in the rain.

I met up with my sister at her home in Norvelt - she has purchased my parents old home. We decided to take a drive up to the top of Chestnut Ridge and have breakfast at Brady's right off of Route 31. Instead of heading straight up the Kecksburg hill, we took a route through Mount Pleasant and then drove route 31 up Chestnut Ridge. After a good and filling breakfast we were off. I didn't have any particular places in mind to see so I drove off meandering through the Laurel Highlands. We visited all kinds of places that had played a significant role in my earlier life. They are too numerous to name, but it was good to go back and see these places.

(Fall foliage at Laurel Hill State Park outside of Somerset.)

I dropped my sister off back at her house around 1:00PM as she had to catch a flight to Boston from at 5:00PM. She needed to pack and get down to the Pittsburgh airport in time for her flight.

After dropping her off I continued my meandering around. I stopped and visit my parents graves at St. Stanislaus Cemetary in Calumet. It had been on the order of 6 or 7 years since I had visited their graves. Not that it was something I had to do or anything - but with my interest in genealogy, I also find it good to visit the graveyards in which members of my family are buried.

I visited many other places that afternoon and I confronted much of my past that I had yet to confront. It was important for me to visit some of the places I had visited. Some of those places had played a significant role in Patty's and my lives before we moved to Colorado. As such, I think I have taken some additional significant steps to confront and purge myself of many of the ghosts from my past. I really do feel like I have the capability and capacity to move forward with my life.

I won't go into any detail about the reunion itself in this post. Needless to say it was fun, interesting and really great to catch up with a lot of people. I renewed many relationships that have long been dormant. I am greatly looking forward to once again building on those relationships.

Well - for now that is it for the night. I hope everyone's week is off to a great start. Yeah - for everyone in Denver I know that is the case as the Broncos beat the Chargers. (I am still not a 100% Broncos lover... It's better now that Shanahan is gone, but still it is hard for me to swallow routing for the Broncos!)

Thanks and peace to all. - J.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Plans and more plans....

I had a great idea for a blog post this evening but I got to admit, I am just too tired to write it. The post is about wines. I want to write about the wines I have discovered to be really good over the last 6 - 12 months as I have been experimenting with and trying a lot of different wines. I am tired tonight as I just feel emotionally worn out. Zack has been giving me fits since he got home from school today. Getting him to bed this evening was such a chore as he was really on the anxiety rollercoaster. I am not sure what set it off but these last 2 days have been difficult. I think it might have had to do with the fact that I told him he was once again going to be transitioning back into his own bedroom. Since his most recent anxiety attack in August he has been sleeping with me in my bed. But... that time has to come to an end as I am rapidly growing tired of it. Some other subjects I plan to write on in the near future are some of the hikes we have taken in the last several months. We have been doing too much hiking but we have had a couple of good ones that I really need to write about. Provided I actually go - I want to write a blog post about my 25th high school class reunion which is taking place this coming Saturday in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Anyway - I am exhausted but I did want to post something tonight. I will write a much better and longer post tomorrow when I am feeling a tab bit more perky! Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Burning

Fire is supposed to cleanse and reinvigorate. It is suppose to take away and destroy all those things whose time has come. For the last several weeks I have been burning. I have been burning the remains of much of my old life. With the coming of cold weather here in Denver, I have lit my wood burning stove that I have in my basement and have had fires almost every day. I have burnt through about an 1/8 of a cord of wood in the last 3 - 4 weeks. On top of the wood, I have been burning things from the past that have needed to go. In particular, I have been burning many of my late wife Patty's personal belongings. I hated the thought of just throwing these things out to molder and rot in a garbage dump. (Most of these are things that cannot be donated to charity.) Instead I have burnt them. Each day I make a decision to burn another set of these things. At first I thought it would be really hard to do this but I have realized that there is a sense of liberation as I burn these things. It is as if I am truly setting Patty free and letting her "cross over to the other side". It is not as if I am driving Patty from my life as that is definitely not the case. It is that I am not using her memory as crutch to get through life. Patty has been gone for 454 days now. (No I don't count it. I have a spreadsheet that I track all my athletic activity. In it I have a column called - days without Patty. It gets incremented everyday automatically - so I just need to look at that column to see how long she has been gone.) Patty's memory is more precious to Zack and me now then when she died as we have forgotten about so many of the painful things we endured during her illness. Instead we only focus now on the loving and good things we experienced with her. Regardless though, it is time for her earthly things to be gone from our day-to-day lives. So the things that can be donated are being donated. The things that can be burnt are being burnt. The things I want to have for Zack when he is older are going into storage. And the keepsakes and memories are being put in their right places. I think it is fitting that I am burning these things as we had Patty cremated. But I know she understands that it is time for these things to exit Zack and my lives right now. We still love and miss you immensely Rae, but we know you approve that we are moving on with our earthly lives. We hope everyone had a great weekend. It was an amazing football weekend - how about those Stillers (Steelers in Pittsburghese) and Broncos. Never thought I would see this with the Broncos! Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Our Next Step in Environmental Activity

From many of the blog entries I have written in the past I am sure most people can tell that I follow a liberal brand of politics. One of the things I do not believe I have talked much about is my belief in environmentalism and stewardship for this earth. In many of our day-to-day activities here at home we try and practice as much environmentalism as is humanly possible. no we still own cars and stuff like that, but we try and recycle as much as we can. We limit what we use as much as we can.
In keeping with this vision I am continually on the lookout for new and better ways to be environmentally conscious. One of my most recent methods for being environmentally responsible has been the addition of a composter to our home. While watching a show on the History Channel called Modern Marvels, Zack and I became aware of a compact composter that can be purchased called a NatureMill. After some debate I decided to purchase one of these composters.
The composter arrived on October 1 and I didn't get a chance to get it up and running until last weekend. We started the composter off with all the starter material that was advised by the manufacturer and we added our table scraps for a several meals I made over the weekend and early this week. It is absolutely amazing to watch this work and turn what would normally be viewed as garbage into rich and fertile compost! It only took several days for this process to occur - which to me is absolutely amazing. I am very much looking forward to continuing to use this composter to grow and develop a rich source of compost for our flowerbeds and garden. I am quite sure next fall I will harvesting record sized pumpkins, melons and other fruits and vegetables.
This is just one of the many environmental activities I have planned for our home in the coming years. Some of the other projects include - replacingthe old and worn original windows in the house, placing sky lights at strategic points throughout the house to limit our need for electric lighting and the installation of solar panels on the roof. Now of these are huge game changers but I am sure they will help lessen our impact on this earth.
We hope everyone's weekend is off to a great start!
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Comfort, Peace and Contentment

As I sit here at my kitchen table penning tonights blog entry, I have a lot of thoughts on my mind. But the key thing that I am thinking about is the sense of comfort and security that my son and I have built in our life together. Zack and I have formed a perfect little team that can work through just about any issue. Despite the anxiety issues that Zack has faced we are still marching step-by-step together and getting through life. I had one of those moments of profound internal peace and contentment when we sat down to dinner tonight. I had made a dinner of meatloaf, mash potatoes and veggies. Though it was only the two of us as Nancy didn't want to eat dinner when we did, Zack and I had a marvelous time. We did our normal routine and had the radio on with some classical music playing and we just talked. It was a very good time and we felt very much a family even though it was the two of us. I don't know - it is hard to describe what we have. It is hard to describe the peace that I feel that even knowing Patty isn't here with us we are still a family and we have contentment within ourselves. I feel sad for people who can't accept what they have and who are always searching for something more. Sometimes it is good just to be happy and accept what life gives us. Zack and I will be forever happy as long as we have each other. Even if we end up on opposite ends of the world once he is grown, we will still always have one another and in that there is such great peace and contentment. I hope you all can have that same kind of peace and contentment in your lives. Thanks and peace to all! -J.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Something you don't see everyday....

So today I saw something that you normal don't see everyday anymore. I was going into a grocery store and I saw someone using a pay phone. Think about it - when was the last time you saw someone using a pay phone? As I watched this woman talking on the pay phone I tried to remember the last time I actually used a pay phone myself. I had a very hard time remembering when that was. I came to the conclusion that the last time I used a pay phone was when I was in Europe in 2005. Back then I didn't have a good international dialing plan for my cell phone, so I shied away from using my cell phone and instead used pay phones and my international calling card.
There were a couple of interesting things to think about in this whole concept. The first is how things have changed. Back in the 1990's pay phones were everywhere. I can remember how hard it was to get a pay phone booth at the airport, because they were always in use. Today, the same places that housed all those pay phones are empty or filled with internet kiosks. Even now, the whole concept of an Internet kiosk is going the way of the dodo bird because everyone has smart phones.
The second thing I found interesting from this whole thought process was just figuring out the last time you did something that you no longer do. For me this was the whole issue of "when was the last time I used a pay phone". But there are so many other things that this whole issue of "the last time" applies to. As an adult, think about it, can you imagine the last time you... watched a cartoon, played with an action figurine, had to study for a test, played on a playground, etc. There are so many things that we do in life that we do for the last time, but we never realize. I think it is fascinating to try and figure out some of those last times. Maybe I am just a sentimental fool, but it is something that I think is really interesting to think about.
Well with that thought I am off to kick back and watch some TV before I go to bed for the night.
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Hot Tub Experience

It is October, so that means it is the beginning of hot tub season in this area of Colorado. The summer nights in the Denver Metro area are not times that are particular great for hot tubbing. It is really no fun to be in 100 degree water when the outside ambient air temperature is approaching 80 degrees. So by the beginning of June of every year I tend to turn off the hot tub for the summer and drain it. Once the leaves begin to change and we get into the end of September/beginning of October, it is time to scrub the hot tub out and get it filled up with water. During this summer I had my brother do some work on the hot tub and replace all the worn and crappy looking wood on the outside. Even though this hot tub is now at least 15 - 20 years old it looks brand new again. My hot tub was here when we bought the house in 2004. At first I really had no interest in using it as it just seemed like such a pain in the butt. However, I gradually started to get interested in getting it up and running in the summer of 2007. So I made the decision at that point to have a hot tub repair guy come in and take a look at the thing from top to bottom. Though it hadn't been used in several years and it was at least 15 years old at the time, the repair man found it to be in good shape with the exception of regular maintenance. So we took care of the maintenance items and got it up and running.

(Our hot tub!)

Zack and I have enjoyed our hot tub for the last 2 winters and we are definitely looking forward to this winter. Given the amount of work that I have done to clean and organize our basement we now have a fairly nice place to come into after hanging out in the hot tub. Tonight we used the hot tub for the first time of the 2009/2010 winter. It was great as the temperature outside was just perfect for being in the hot tub. Our day was pretty uneventful. Zack did OK in school today and didn't get kicked out. (When his anxiety flairs up too much and he has a bad day, he gets "kicked out" for the day and I have to go and pick him up.) It's not exactly a fun thing, but I do understand to some degree as his teacher has to manage to continue to teach. This evening we started a program to help him deal with the loss of Patty. We are going to a program at St. Anthony's Luthern church in Highlands Ranch called "Rainbows". It is for kids who have lost a parent or whose parents are going through a divorce. I am hoping it will be a good program for him. We hope everyone had a great Monday! Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


My last blog post was on September 15, 2009. This is clearly the longest I have gone without posting an update to the blog. The basic reasons for why I haven't posted have been simple - my life has been way too busy and I have been in too great of a state of turmoil. The time of day in which I have normally written my blog entries was late at night. In the recent past I have been just too exhausted to do it because of all that has been going on with Zack and all that I have been doing with work. I intend to get back to my normal routine of making a blog entry a day. I like chronicling my life through this blog. It is fun and it allows me to interact with many people. Today has been a busy Saturday for me. No there have been no great adventures of scaling mountains or long hikes. Today's activities have been prosaic and about putting our life in order. Over the last 3 years a lot of things went undone - important things and low-key things. There has been a lot to catch up upon. Over the last two months I have been on a crusade to complete many of those things that have been undone. The most important of which has been addressing many issues in my house. During Patty's illness stuff just didn't get done. I gave up large portions of the house to being storage rooms because I didn't have time to deal with stuff. Room-by-room I am reclaiming my house. A great illustration of this point is that I am writing this blog entry from my office. My office is a great room and I just didn't spend any time in while Patty was ill and during the year since her death. Over the last 2 weeks I have reclaimed this room from the storage room it had become. It is organized and put back together. It feels good to be here writing at my desk and feeling at home again in this wonderful room. The same is true for the basement. Slowly but surely it is being organized and cleaned up. I will not let it fall into disuse again! To top it off I have a great incentive to keep it clean - I have my hot tub up and running. It is ready for another season for late night dips in the buff. God - I love doing that. (I suppose I shouldn't advertise that - my neighbors might try and take a peek at me slipping into it butt naked!) So I have worked and worked today to clean things up and organize. Unfortunately for whatever reason, Zack has been feeling under the weather for most of the day. He is having some stomach pain. So he has done a whole lot. I plan to change that tomorrow with an active and invigorating hike for us early in the morning! So - I am back and you will see a lot more blog posts flowing from my computer again. It is hard to believe but in only 1 month I will celebrate the one year anniversary of this blog! Gees - time sure does fly when you are having fun! We hope everyone is having a great weekend so far! Thanks and peace to all! - J.