Monday, December 26, 2016

Silent Night

2 am now on an early Christmas morning, and I'm sitting in the den watching Dirk Gently's holistic detective agency on BBCAmerica.  Jackie dozed off about 90 minutes ago, and the visions of soap operas are no doubt dancing in my little sweetie's head.

Our first Holiday Time in the new place and we've decorated some, tree decorated but in minimalist fashion, that is, there are boxes of Hallmark ornaments sitting in storage lockers wondering if they will have another hanger placed in the Golden Orifice on their top or middle section.  Boxes.  But it is still nice...

A quiet ride out and back from Syracuse, Jackie now does 67% of the driving on longer trips, I do the rest (like driving in Boston).  I can keep focused by watching the white lines on the room and having the radio or a CD playing.  I can't focus all that well anymore, something you might have surmised, but if there are tunes going (when driving Jackie's car the choice of music is normally country music or oldies. I prefer the latter. In my car oldies or classical goes unless I'm solo, then its books on tape). 

So what I am saying is we have taken more slow steps to Our New Normal seeing what works and what may be slipping, like cups, bottles, small tools, pens, small paperback books, pickles, bath soap, small frogs, those sort of things.  Mood changes grow, true, when we're driving, er, when I'm driving, and my wife, concerned as she is for her own safety as well as mine, rides shotgun, making sure I have seen what she hopes I have seen.  Maybe yes, maybe no.

So the 60th Christmas of my life (and the whatever of yours) passes quietly.  

One week left to the year, and as we approach the non-holiday of New Years, and the upcoming trump administration, I hope things go well (for us and you), and if they don't, well, don't you be annoying the members of AARP,  Donny boy.  You are not the only one with hair of blond, and face color of not of human birth.  We're old (some not as old as you) and we want our early bird specials, coupons for the movies, and our TV shows.  We're the baby Boomers and we've done all we could.  Now let somebody else clean up our mess.

Last note for the year.  I do not know how or why these stories have suddenly found or deserved a 30000+ hits scale.  But thank you anyway.

Oh, Bubble Santa says Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My Third Best Fall

We've been in our condo now for 7 months, and during that time I have fallen once, that I will admit to.   For some reason known only to it, MS has a ball pestering my left big toe, and it hurts something fierce.  I was at my local physical therapy pool ( from our new location everything is 5 minutes away) and the toe just pounded. After sitting in the hot boiling water four about seven minutes so that I could de-numb the body.  Then I did my exercises as well as I could, except for the one where I stretch my toes, and stepped away from the pool.  I had my usual walmart flip flops waiting for near me my towel and the door.  I opted not to use the flip flops due tp the agony of the Toe.  So I hobbled into the men's changing room.  Now I am usually the last guy in there for the pool day, which meant it had been waiting for me for a long time.  Bright lights greet me as I step into Sanitary Land. I take two steps toward my locker, my right foot finds the only bit of water still on the floor from every other guy of day.  Boom, out go both legs and I hear that cry from my brain that is never good - Oh, no I gonna die right now!

Did I mention the coffee?  In my right hand was a Dunkin Donuts Iced Dark Roast - large size.  I picked up a hot or cold coffee to sip in my "Don't Move Anything!" rest stops in the pool. Anyway, the coffee went first, then me. I think I yelled out "Not the co-" and then hit the floor, and my head. And since I was the only person in the room I could have said a lot more things that no one heard.  I took a few breaths and checked that everything was in working order, and slowly rose, despite the personal alarms going in various parts ofund the damage my person.  My first full idea was clean the floor, then 2) grab towels covering it and me, 3) clean both the floor, the walls, and my sports bag.  These could be done sitting down.  Getting up, well, that was a bit of a chore, and dressing was slow.  Finally I crawled   up and out the door, sans coffee and some dignity.  Should I tell the front desk folks? Nah, just wanted to get home.

When I got home I found out the damage was my arm gashed and and the back of my head was dripping off.  After some first aid, my wife asked me if I wanted to go see if I had a concussion.  But really, when you've got PPMS, how could you tell?

Look, the concussion symptoms -

Headaches or neck pain that do not go away
Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading
Getting lost or easily confused
Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation
Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason)
Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping)
Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance

PPMS Everyday, baby!  So I grew my hair out to cover the head mess, and today spent three hours with razors and my wife getting the hair back off.  So I look more like me.  And no more falls.  As far I know.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

May 11, 2016

So, here we are at our condominium in suburbia gone mad Clifton Park, and, should you not be aware of this town’s existence or just think its a name on a Northway (I-87) sign before you arrive at the more “fun” exits to Saratoga and Lake George, well, let the town website fill you in…

“Clifton Park NY is located in Saratoga County, about a dozen miles north of the Capital City of Albany and just south of Saratoga Springs, NY. Communities in Clifton Park include Ballston Lake, Elnora, Flagler Corners, and Grooms Corners,RexfordRound Lake, Ushers and Vischer Ferry, lending a small-town charm to its appeal as a growing locale! “

Now how can you not like a place that has a Flagler Corners?

My wife Jackie and her family had lived in Clifton Park since the early 1960s in a two story house off what became Exit Eight of the Northway.  The house is still there, but only Jackie and her sister are left to tell the stories.  Well, me too.

We spent 27 years at our home in Malta, the townhouse we thought of as our “starter” home.  Apparently the “starter” part was misconstrued by us. Until MS reared its extremely ugly head about 5 years ago.  And the ugly head said (please use a Schwarzeneggar voice here) “Move from here, if you want to live!”

So we did.

The story begins on a cold December afternoon.  Jackie was dashing out to retrieve the Times Union and mail from our roadside mailbox and noticed another piece of paper shoved to the side of the mailbox, doing its best to not be buffeted out of a safe hole by the wind that was chafing Jackie’s face as she stood there trying to grasp the sheet. After all, it might be a coupon! She’s good like that.

When we looked at the sheet, it just had a few words on it.

“Hi, I just sold the house down the street from you.  Please call me at XXX-XXXX if I can help you.”

It was signed “Gabrielle”.

Now in the 26 years we’d been living here, as I am sure many other suburban residents have found these advertisements in their mail, would toss them (or recycle) and think nothing more of it. That’s what we normally did.  But this one we kept, and now and then would reread it.  

I’m not sure what moment it was, but sometime in December 2015, one of us said (it was Jackie, of course) “It wouldn’t hurt to call and see, would it?” 

Me: “Grumble. Grumble, lawn mower, shoveling, buy more mulch, will hurt, mulch, grumble..”

Jackie: “I’ll send her an e-mail.  See what she has to say.”

She had  a lot to say. She toured the house, and gave us an idea of what 125 was worth.  Double what we paid for the house in the late 1980s.  That, and the fact that my body was spasming while we, actually just me, tried to understand all the legalities Gabrielle was taking us through.  The Basics: When you get a call from us that someone's coming to visit - Get Out! We were so grateful that Panera at Exit 12 opened, it became our second home.  None of us though we'd get much interest in January. Guess what? The showings began, and so did the offers:

1. He was a man just out of the service (vets are instant winners with us) and was getting a VA mortgage, had a good job, and everything looked good.  He came on his own one afternoon and I gave him the tour and answered non money questions, just more important ones like "How does this work?" He was happy, we were happy. Everyone was happy.  The guy lost his job the next day.  Nobody happy.

2. Next was a woman who was ready to offer full price and was ready to go.  Her father said no. End of that.

Nothing happened for a while, and we were getting the usual consolation s of homeowners everywhere.  "Don't worry.  My neighbor ***** had his house on sale since World War II.  Somebody bought it last year.  They gotta a real fixer upper.  Gotta get the squatters out, meth labs, you know, I think the second floor guest room has disappeared.  Ya open the door and there's nuthin' there. Swear ta God. Black as night, no stars.  If they can sell that place, you, my friend, got no worries. Any more beer?"

So we had the lull, that time where you don't what to do with house/yard because how long will you be there?  So you're like the shivering plants outside, knowing that the time for warmth will come, in the meantime just hunker down, and we'll get through.

We put a new granite top on our kitchen cabinets late in 2015, in time for the holidays, and we are still paying for it toda, thanks to Home Depot accounts.  But in case we would be there come Spring 2016 (we were) it would be nice. So began The Lull.  

We did others things, always looking at the phone coming in the house to  see if  there was a message, and began to rethink the whole thing

And night the message light was blinking.  We both dashed to the phone.

Gabrielle had called. We had a buyer! Wow. We were glad to be selling our house to a vet and his family.  And we were glad that all these boxes already filled with books would end up someplace else. All we needed to do is get more boxes, and then more boxes, and maybe a few more.  Eventually we made paths through the piles of immovable heavy cardboard that maybe a Monster Truck could move, and we would now and then even meet up near the winter clothes box for a coffee, and figure out what we would do on the "Closing Day".  No worries. It's down the line.

And then it was here.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Final Days

The house is sold and we are just waiting for the closing date so that everyone can practice signing their names on forms and , of course, checks.  In the meantime we are filling boxes with books, my books, or so it seems.  I’m sure Jackie has done something about all these boxes around her as well because I can hear her wheezing from dust bunnies that invaded a few weeks ago. And while both Jackie and I are looking to moving to a condo with much less responsibility, there is work to be done here aside  from packing boxes and tossing stuff we thought we’d always keep.

Like we would never leave, but we have to, well, truthfully, I have to.  A thirty year old house needs upkeep.  A 60 year old guy with MS needs to keep up.  There is little I can do now for the house or me, but we part friends, the house completely done over in new paint with add-ons and with me balding, slow walking, and then forgetting where I was going or why.  I’m not sure who got the better deal here. No, wait, I know. Me.  Sure the house cost plenty with paint, lumber, man hours, nails, garden stuff, fix the driveway, mulch - lots and lots of mulch, more mulch than you would ever think you would need in your life, or any life and that was what you had used just up through April.  You’d put the stuff in, tuck it around plants, take in the sweet smell, and the next day half of the dumb stuff has blown into the neighbors yard, covering their dog in wood chips.

Once the yard was done (for that day) time on our small but perfect deck, sitting, reading, having an occasional adult beverage, and moving my chair to stay out of the sun was required.. The awning above the deck kept us cool when the sun demanded more attention than we could allow.  The small deck in our new place will get sun only in the early morning. Fine with me.  Oh, and what was once six hours worth of work a day on the yard is now about maybe 30 minutes and I have to go on a three hour break. Nope.

Time to say goodbye...

First a goodbye to my fellow toilers of the house exterior...Please give a hand or two for my cohorts in suburban bliss Rake! Broom! And Snow Shovel!

Hello, guys, and thanks for all your help these past 28 years.  Yes, shovel, I am aware that you had taken injuries during the recent snowstorms (chipped blade) and that circumstances relegated you to back yard leaf pickup detail, which is not your fault totally, very little snow and all that.  We only had the driveway plowed once this year and… yes, all right, we got another shovel, too.  Not that you’re not good, but this shovel is one I can push the snow around, not have to lift and dump. This is what I need now, and even I only used him once to push the snow and no he does not get used for leaf removal. Let it go. I won’t be using either of you anymore.  Our contract clearly states..

Yes, broom? Oh, I know you look pathetic, with your bristles cracked and broken.  Frankly you’ve had a good career here, and I’m not able to see what the new owners will do.  You know, you should be glad you were assigned to the shed.  I kept you around.

Oh, yes, rake, you are the winner, you get to play near every day, and have soundly defeated your enemy Fake Rake:

Plastic rakes are the weak Walmart cousins of a metal; easily terrified by pine cones or clumps of mowed grass. That is why he is banished to the garage, and will await further orders from your new commander, er, owner.

And to you, fair lawnmower, you started when I needed you to, asked for only gas and the occasional oil change.  And you were always good to spend the winter in the shed, sharing room with tools and stuff I forgot to get for the winter in the house.

So, we will have a few more days together, and will clean up this place for our final mission.  And I will know these are the Final Days.  And I will know that this is final time I do this and that with you., but we shall continue until the mission is done.

And then I adjusted my holsters, fixed my 4 star generals helmet, and cued the Patton music.

I looked off into the woods behind the shed…

I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. But I can’t anymore.

That's all.

The breeze came up and the plants and flowers just appearing to bud moved their leaves which I'll take as applause.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter droppings

This week: 

1. I got my Medicare card. I am old.  Medicare kicks in two years after Social Security Disability begins.  I am old and disabled and bald and you might not want to ride in a car I'm driving, either.

2. Visiting relatives in Syracuse, I was pulled over by police for missing a red light (which was absolutely correct). I admitted that I had done just that, was sorry, and would do a better job ASAP. Lucky we had only two blocks to go. My sister in law tried to explain everything from the back seat, but the officer just mumbled to me: "I can't understand what the back seat is saying." And I did admit I had a glass of wine around 4 hours previous. And then I played my MS card - I normally don't, but I just wanted it over. He sent us on our way with a warning, for which I was grateful. He might have had an entertaining time having me walk a straight line. 

OK, not this bad....

3.I was driving on the NYS Thruway about 80 mph as we headed home, which meant when I hit the curve for our exit, the car was moving way too fast and we barely made the curve. Closer to home, there was a loose dog running back and forth on the county road and we and others slowed way down so that the dog could find a place to light and be rescued. I then became the good driver I used to be for the rest of the way home. But... 

What a beauty, only 131,435 miles!

4. I have seen the damage MS has already done to my judgement, and it is one of the many reasons why we have sold our home of 27 years and moving to a condo. Everything is closer and we can walk to the essentials. Enough for today. Hope your weekend was less, um, exciting

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Uh, yeah, about that move thing.....

The real estate agent told us over the phone last Friday.

"He lost his job." Our Navy vet, he never saw it coming. Neither did us, the real estate agent, the lawyer, the furniture dealer who is holding a whole new living room set.

That will look real nice in our garage, won't it?

You could hear the dream machine toilet flushing immediately. Money. Time. Packing. Putting things places and then forgetting where that place is,  but going into every room in the house to see if the thing is actually hiding there, but then we forget why we went into the room in the first place and stomp out annoyed at the thing and ourselves.

So we have a house where it is the same inside and out but the inside is also a puzzle now. It weighs the same, but you can't see it anymore.

So now we sit.

And we hope there is someone out there who wants 1/2 of a townhouse located in a pine forest just south of Saratoga and will pay anything close to our asking price, please let me know.  We have to move to the condo.

And I can't find the cereal. Or my bowl for the cereal. Or a spoon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Good luck movin' up 'cause I'm Moving Out....

The house sold in three days.  We got what we asked for it (price wise) but we got 5 offers in three days after nine parties when through the house.  Our real estate agent, Aubrey ("And Aubrey was her name" [David Gates and Bread]) handled the juggling match, and ended up selling the home to a single vet, recently separated from the service.   His original mark was a few thousand  below what we were asking, and he was just another offer on the table.

But a few days after the man and his agent had toured our home, the man came back to our house, solo.  I was home and just out of the shower half dressed when I heard the doorbell ring and then the front door getting a pounding like it was an army.  Turned out, once I got to the front door, I tried my best to look as dignified as possible, half jammies and half towel. Outside the door, a tall and handsome man of about 30 years, looking like a lumberjack from a chili ad.

"Hi," he said, "Is this a bad time?"  No doubt my towel/jammie outfit gave him some clue  that it might be. 

Then he said "I'm Doug, I was here looking at your home yesterday? Can I talk to you about it?"

Now this is the first time, at age 59, or any other age, that I'd ever tried to sell my home to anyone, so I wasn't quite sure how this worked.  But...

"Okay," I said.  "Come on in.  What can I do for you?" As I said that, I dropped on to the couch as MS only allows me so much energy, and now I was done a little after 9:00 AM.

"Well, I'd really liked to buy your house." he said, some thing I'm some of my readers would have loved to hear one time or another.  My external reaction was totally poised as Doug explained what he liked about the house.  My internal reaction was:

Then he said the magic word: Veteran.

Yeah, I know, different duck.  Still great animation.  

Anyhoo, on the wall are pictures of my father and Jackie's dad in their sailor suits ready to win World War II for us BY THEMSELVES!  And the guy standing before me is a Navy vet.  

Game over.  So now we are packing boxes to give the sailor a great home. And the stone faced sailors on our wall have slight smiles today not only because they are staying on another wall in our new home, but our home is Navy.

Let The Journey Begin

Sunday, January 17, 2016

You know you're moving when....

1.  The ugly microwave has been banished to the garage on show days, so you have to go out to the unheated garage to warm up your coffee. By the time I get back inside, the coffee's cold again.

2. We have vacuumed the carpet in places we didn't know we had carpet.

3. Will we be judged by how the toilet paper feed is topside or downside?

4. No, the Buddha is not for sale.

5. Pay no attention to the holes in the outside wall.  If anyone tries to cover them up, large woodpeckers will perform scenes from Hitchcock's "The Birds."  You've  been warned.

6. Look through the garage and find six lawn chairs.  And two more hanging on the far wall. And four more in the shed. Twelve outdoor chairs? We've never had 12 people here in 29 years.  And the balcony at our new place is about three feet wide, and three floors up.   We'll be lucky to FIT 12 people in the new place.

7. I can't find the power cord for, well, just about anything. We were told by the real estate agent to hide all wires, and we did it so well, nothing works.  I did find my Mac power cord in my underwear drawer.

8. I think its weird that we sign a contract with people we don't know and give them permission to bring other people we don't know into our home and then ask these strangers if our place is goof for them.  And then they say "No".

9. We started our December tree decoration by bringing in four boxes of stuff.  On January 6, we took down the holiday spectacle. We now had six boxes.  We bought two small ornaments all season.  Why are there two more big boxes of stuff?

10. Just as bad as strangers walking around our house is we have to ask big financial houses for a mortgage to pay off what will owe for the condo.  We just saw "The Big Short".  Be worried.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Time to say Goodbye - just where is that door again?

In last year's final post, I'd talked about our pending move from our house to a condo for the over 55 crowd that does yet need to wear a diaper (unless you like that sort of thing or you are two years old, but able to read, in which case there's a spot for you on cable television).  We are still in our house and the goal (condo) is still empty.

Money time.

That's the Bentley, in the spring.  The goal is to be there by the time the trees , buying and selling property is (or should be) an Summer Olympic event - high hurdles for the middle aged....

Cue Olympic music...

In Lane One, the Bentley agent, shaking hands with everyone on the track, and asking "Isn't it a great day?" Back on his track slot, he waves at the crowd and dangles a key ring at the group.  "Just don't embarass us!"

In Lane Two, the real estate agent who is handling both the purchase of the condo and the sale of our home.  She has opted to run in both directions at the same time, while talking on her iPhone. She 's focused on both goals, and we have an ambulance standing by.

In Lanes Three and Four, the photographer and the closer respectively.  The closer, in Lane Four, will be assuring that all attendees today are looking their best, and making sure no one has left any wires or silly things out.  Please remove from your area all clutter and hide this clutter in places where three months from now you'll be surprised what you've got.  Lane three's Photographer will trail behind the closer, and take pictures of everything around her.  Please stand where you are and act like a couch. No fidgeting.

And in Lane Five, the lucky couple who are depending on all the other racers so that they can beat or at least tie, the runner who is in Lane 6 who wants to buy the couple's house, should that runner ever arrive.

And there is no one in the sixth lane.

The real estate agent in Lane Two calls out on "On Your Mark!"

The couple turns in surprise. "What?"

"Get ready!"

"Wait!" the couple calls as they reached for their cleaning supplies. "We're not ready!"

"Not ready?" says the agent. "I'll just sell it to other people.  Great day, huh?"


The couple turns to see a line of people behind them.  "Come on", said the one in the front, "get out of the way! We're looking for houses!

And the race is on. The couple just stands there.  "What?"