So even though we went out to our V-day dinner Saturday night I came up with the idea of picking up Carrabbas to Go for dinner last night so Cindy didn’t have to cook. Evidently my idea was not unique, I sat in a line 10 cars deep at the restaurant waiting to pick up the food. They seemed unprepared for the business as a single girl was running back and forth trying to sort out who got what. I eventually just got out of my truck and walked inside to grab the food myself. My bag was sitting on the counter along with a dozen other bags. The drive home was miserable. Evidently an accident on 75 had diverted a ton of cars back into the non-interstate roadways causing a quagmire. I didn’t get home till close to 6:30.
We had a nice night at home. Cindy got me a couple practical gifts and I gave her a cool pair of white gold earrings I got from Costco. The have a tiny leaf pattern in them which I thought was pretty and unique.
Today I am meeting a guy to get an estimate on whole house reverse osmosis. I had the company that installed our current system give us a number and it was significantly higher than what this company advertises. I heard about these guys from a friend that had their system replaced with RO and have been very pleased. Not only is the up front costs less, they include one free year of monthly maintenance which I wasn’t getting from the first company either. The expense for either system is considerable but what you are getting for the money is top quality water without any maintenance by the homeowner whatsoever. They handle it all. That scenario sounds pretty attractive at this stage in my life.
I have not really been commenting on the three ring circus which has been the Trump administration thus far. I expected it to be a mess and it has been, perhaps even more so than I could have imagined. Via a FB friend I stumbled across a site that allows you to track the buffoonery on a daily basis, whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com
As you flip through the day by day recollection of Trump administration events it seems rather surreal. Check it out.
So after work last night we met Katie at her ex-boyfriend’s dad’s house to do a final sweep to clean out her stuff. I was under the impression there wasn’t much left but somehow we wound up filling up both Katie’s truck and mine substantially. It was sad for Katie since she likes Daniel’s family and they feel the same about her. Extended families are usually an unfortunate casualty when relationships end.
So as we were getting towards the end of the loading process I noticed the door on Katie’s Dodge was wide open. Not wanting mosquitoes or other undesirables to get into the cab, I closed the door for her. As we were ready to leave I heard Katie say her keys were locked in the truck. WTF? So she asked who closed the door, I told her I did. Well evidently Katie left her keys in the truck which would be fine except evidently Daniel’s step mom for some odd reason had hit the door lock button while the door was left open. Of course I didn’t check the lock status before I pushed the door closed.
I was frustrated at the situation. Daniel had another set of keys but was not home. Cindy got on the phone with USAA to get someone out to unlock the car. My frustration demanded I do something to try to rectify the problem. I did a quick internet search on technique to pop the lock. After finding a wire hangar I bent a crude hook into one end and made my first attempt at being a car thief.
I spent a good 20 minutes futzing around, trying to blindly snag the door lock mechanism between the window and weatherstripping. By the time the lock guy showed up I was still in there digging around. I don’t give up easily. The professional used a technique I saw before online. He used a plastic wedge to make a little space on the top of the door, enough to squeeze a thin rubber bladder in between the door and the frame. He then pumped the bladder with a handheld inflator, similar to a blood pressure cuff rig. This created just enough of a gap that he could insert a long fiberglass pole inside that he used to activate the door lock button. I told him I wanted to get a set of those tools for an emergency. He said they restrict who they will sell them to for obvious reasons.
So finally we were on the road headed home. When we got there I lugged the large items to the small shed while the boxes and smaller items got piled in the garage to be sorted and put away. Katie is hoping to have a garage sale soon to get rid of the stuff that was hers but she no longer really needs. I was happy to have her stuff totally under one roof so Katie can now work on getting some stability to plan whatever her next step will be.
I don’t harbor any ill will towards Daniel either. He is a young kid just trying to find his way. When I was 20 I had no idea what the hell I really wanted and had even less idea about how to be successful in relationships. I am hoping having Katie in our household will allow some of the stability and calm to help her refocus and move forward.
Last night Elsa had an unexpected bathroom incident where she squatted right in front of the couch where Cindy and Katie were sitting and peed. Cindy instantly yelled at her and Elsa reacted by jumping on top of me as I was laying on the other sofa. I am not sure if this was her reaction to having two other dogs thrust into her living space but it is a behavior we need to correct immediately. Elsa is a very sweet, cute, and loving dog. Unfortunately she is also very neurotic at times which is going to require a lot of long term patience.
So Cindy and I officially transitioned from fostering to adopting Elsa, even though that was pretty much determined from day one. The girl that runs the rescue was at our house when I got home verifying Elsa was in a good situation which did not take long to do. We had a good day from a housebreaking perspective with no accidents in the house all day yesterday. Elsa made up for it this morning.
So as soon as we wake up Cindy takes her outside. Elsa immediately pee’d and came immediately back inside. The routine we have gotten into is after Elsa eats breakfast Cindy takes her back out for a number two. Well as I was on my computer catching up on email while eating my breakfast I heard a scratching noise in the dining room. I look over and see that Elsa had just finished up taking a dump in front of the two unicycles that charge there. I immediately yelled and Cindy came scrambling up in disbelief since she hadn’t even fed Elsa breakfast yet.
So it was disappointing that we still do not seem to be able to make her understand this is not acceptable behavior. Well as I was putting on my shoes to leave for work I saw Elsa put an exclamation point on the problem. There was a big puddle of urine right near the area rug in the great room. Wow. I was under the impression that she was more or less house broken already. It looks like we have to start the process all over again.
I mentioned the other day how much different my Thanksgiving holiday is this year, not having to worry about timing a 3,000 plus participant holiday race. That feeling has continued to grow as we get closer to the big day. In the past the day before Thanksgiving meant me leaving work early in the afternoon to go to packet pickup where I started to work on the reams of paper entries I had to get into the system. The work would extend well into the night where I also had to get the truck fully loaded with equipment so we could pull out of the driveway at something crazy like 4AM. When I would try to fall asleep the night before I would struggle as multiple mental checklists were floating around in my head that I couldn’t turn off.
The morning of the race was always one big blur where the scene goes from quiet to a mob scene in the span of 20 minutes. The ever present sense of chaos was always just under the surface, only loosely controlled at best. Of course a good chunk of this sense of chaos and disorganization came from areas that I did not have responsibility for or control of which added frustration into the whirling tub of emotions. When the race was finally over the sigh of relief was prolonged but was quickly followed by the dread of knowing I would be repeating the process, on a smaller scale, over the next few months.
To say I am relieved this scenario is no longer the case would be a severe understatement. I look back at that hamster wheel I was on and wonder how I did it for so long. I guess the answer lies in my people pleasing personality and my sense of responsibility to the runners that participated in the races. I took executing my part of their race experience seriously, always trying to act as I would want someone else to if I was the one running the race. It feels great to now be able to look out over the horizon and not see the dark clouds of future races always hanging low in the skies.
My Thanksgiving is actually still going to involve a race but as a participant, not a timer. Ironically Cindy and I will be running in the holiday race that the running club broke away from four years ago, The Gobble Gobble. That split, which involved some Iraq WMD level deception was the turning point in my time with the club. It was definitely where things started to go downhill, accelerating on the way down. It will be nice to get face to face again with some of the local running crowd, most of which I have not seen at all since my exit from the club race scene at the end of January.
So ever since my dad and step mom left I have been up to my ears in work, both the office variety (Office 365 to be exact) and the home variety. I went into work Friday around 9AM and did not leave until close to 8:30 that night. Friday was the day I picked to actually pull the trigger on our Office 365 migration, meaning our mail would start directing to Microsoft’s cloud servers. During the day I checked and rechecked that my plan of action was sound. It seemed to be. Shortly before 4PM I made the change to our DNS MX record and waited for it to propagate. A little after 5PM mail started flowing in it’s new direction and the fun began.
So we decided to not worry about rolling new versions of the Office applications until after we got the mail conversion done. This meant we were doing the switch on mostly Office 2007 clients. We quickly discovered that not all of our installations were Office 365 ready. We had to apply SP3 and then one additional patch to allow 2007 to interact with the cloud based email correctly. Once we got that figured out the rest of the time was spent updating all 50+ systems at our main office. All in all it went pretty smooth.
On Saturday I spent over half the day continuing to work on the project albeit remotely. The nice thing about a cloud based product is you can work on it pretty much anywhere you have an internet connection. None of the work was all that difficult, it was mostly me trying to figure out how to do certain things we were already doing in Exchange 2010. One of the bigger challenges was figuring out how to allow some of our internal applications and devices to send email via Office 365. I accomplished this by configuring an IP restricted port 25 SMTP relay in Office 365, something I was not aware you could do.
During the remote work on Saturday I did take a short break to get outside and weed the yard. It was nice to get away from a screen for a short while. During the afternoon I decided to tackle the tractor repair. My replacement idler pulleys had arrived on Friday.
I did a little research ahead of time on what I needed to do to replace the pulleys. Of course I still had challenges along the way. I could not believe how badly the pulleys were damaged. Their plastic construction made them seen woefully ill equipped for their role. One of them was particularly bad with most of the pulley surface destroyed. No wonder the tractor was making such a horrible noise.
So after some struggles I had all three pulleys replaced. The belt was not in good shape either but I hoped it would still serve it’s purpose to drive the transmission. Well it did not. Because of wear and stretching, the belt would simply fall off the pulleys when you engaged the brake. I realized I was going to have to get another belt as well.
I had two options. Order the belt at the same place online that I bought the pulleys from. I may save a few bucks but I would be waiting another 3-4 days to get it. Option two was to call Sears, see if they had the belt and possibly pay a little bit more for the convenience of getting it right away. I called to verify they had the part, they did. I hopped in the truck and headed right there, anxious to get my tractor woes behind me before the weekend was over.
I grabbed the new belt and on the way home stopped to pick up dinner at Tijuana Flats. Cindy was really wanting Mexican food for some reason. We enjoyed our meal while working to catch up on our huge backlog of X1 dvr’d content. I was pooped from my non-stop day of stuff.
Despite a very busy previous 48 hours I still drug myself out of bed at 6AM Sunday morning to get out for a run at the track. Cindy joined me this time. We wound up putting in the most mileage of 2016, just under four and three quarter miles. It feels good to get some more distance into my “long” run although the actual act of running still feels nowhere near good.
After getting home and tending to the chickens Cindy and I were happy that Katie agreed to go riding with us on the Segways. Her and Cindy rode the Minipro’s while I rolled around on my single wheel. Having Katie along made Cindy push to a new distance record on her bot of almost 7.5 miles. Cindy and I both hope Katie joins us more often in the future.
During the morning I also headed back outside to install my replacement drive belt in the tractor. Since I just ripped the tractor apart the day before, doing it a second time was much more time efficient. The new belt fixed my issue, I was finally able to have the tractor move backward and forward under it’s own power.
So I tuned into the Eagles-Redskins game hoping that the sloppy performance against Detroit was just a bump in the road. Well unfortunately the bump became a big nasty pothole. There were some very glaring problems. First of all, for the second game in a row the Eagles committed more than a dozen penalties which is inexcusable. I saw some ridiculous stat that the eagles have not had this much penalty yardage in two consecutive games since 1952.
The defense, which had been very solid in the first three games was porous, getting beat equally by the run and the pass. They basically did not stop the Redskins the entire game. The offense was pretty awful as well, not scoring any touchdowns. The biggest problem was the rookie they threw in there to replace Lane Johnson. He got demolished, resulting in Carson Wentz getting smacked around all game long. The Eagles wide receivers just are not impressive, they drop catchable balls routinely and don’t seem to scare anyone.
The game was not nearly as close as the final score. The only reason it seemed competitive was the touchdown scored on an intercepted pass and kick off return. All of a sudden that rising tide of enthusiasm has been subdued by two increasingly poor performances. In the big picture my expectations were low to start the season so I can’t get too bent out of shape about it. There is still no doubt that Carson Wentz has some very special qualities, they just need to get some better people to protect him and to throw to.
My Monday at work was still very much Office 365 consumed but it was all small minor details and problems that had to be ironed out. I was very excited that FINALLY my 70 inch LG tv was scheduled to be fixed, two weeks plus from when I called it in. The tech showed up an hour later than his original arrival window although he did call Cindy to let her know. Cindy said he reeked of cigarettes and he left greasy finger prints all over the screen but at least the set worked. When I got home I wasted no time getting my AV nook back to the way it was.
Yesterday was also Cindy’s birthday. We went out to a birthday dinner with her family on Sunday night but Monday was the official date so I wanted to make sure we did something. I sort of prepared dinner, Cindy pre-made some ravioli that I heated up and then I added garlic bread to the mix and made salad. A birthday isn’t a birthday without a cake so I picked up a half of a chocolate cake at Publix on the way home. Cindy’s daughter stopped by as well to make the celebration complete. It was a simple but fun evening.
We discovered that our Amazon Echo has another amazing ability on top of it’s thousands of other existing ones, it can sing you happy birthday. See for yourself.
Friday I was really hoping to not have the after hours work take a lot of after hours time since it was only a small office that was being worked on. Unfortunately we once again ran into a problem that stretched things out longer than it should have, I wound up not getting out of there until after 7.
On Saturday morning I was outside shortly after 8am with the weed whacker in hand. The yard had not been whacked in at least 3 weeks and was looking shaggy. With the return of more regular rain I am going to have to get out there more often. The heat and humidity knob has been turned back into the uncomfortable area where it will likely stay until October, yay. After whacking I jumped in the pool for a splashy splash session for Sadie which she greatly appreciated.
We then headed out for errands including a stop at Rural King and Sam’s. At Rural King we say the running club equipment manager Bill. It was the first time I saw him since I timed my last race. Bill might be the hardest working human being I know. Even though I don’t miss most aspects of timing events for the running club, being able to work with guys like Bill is one of the things I do miss.
We hit Sam’s on the way back. With the sale of the Tacoma I was now seriously looking to pull the trigger on a replacement 4K tv. During the week I was doing research and had established if I wanted to continue my upward growth of screen real estate I was going to have to pay in the neighborhood of $3400-$3500 which would be the most I ever paid for a set although when you adjust for inflation it might be in the same ball park as my 61 inch Sony projection set we bought when the house was new.
That was a lot of money for a tv but I had almost mentally committed myself to that just being the way it was, like I had no choice in the matter. I had a 73 inch screen now so I HAD to go bigger. Well Sam’s didn’t have a lot of 75 inch models but we did see a 70 inch LG 4K set that we looked at. The picture looked sweet, even if it was 3 inches shorter diagonally. We have had a LG set in the bedroom for over a couple years and have been very happy with it. However the thing that really got my wheels turning was the price differential. The LG was an $1800 set, almost half the price of a 75 inch Samsung or Sony (Samsung doesnt appear to make 4K 70 inch sets). To pay $1700 for an extra 5 inches of screen area jolted me out of my MUST HAVE BIGGER trance. I did not act at that point but it planted a seed.
We also went to the jewelry counter. Cindy and I had been talking loosely about marriage for a long time and as a result Cindy has been looking at rings here and there. One of the places she has been looking is at Sam’s who actually has a pretty substantial jewelry section, much bigger than Costco. Randomly Cindy had sent me pictures of various rings she saw there she liked over the last couple months. We had even looked at rings online at places like Amazon but the idea of buying a ring sight unseen seemed risky.
Now my initial reaction when she told me she was looking at rings at Sam’s was negative. I assumed they were not good rings as though they were a Wal-mart item even though Sam’s sells a lot more high end, high quality stuff. Well when Cindy showed me the rings in person the stigma faded. Not only were they good looking rings, they were certified diamonds and I could add an extended seven year warranty for a very reasonable price. The buying power of a warehouse chain results in better pricing of all things, including jewelry.
Cindy showed me several she had liked. Of course she wanted a beautiful ring but it was most important to her it was comfortable. After putting on 4-5 rings she liked we finally agreed on one. We took an unconventional but practical approach and just bought the ring on the spot. Cindy did say that she wouldn’t wear the ring until I asked her in a more conventional manner. So the ring remained in it’s box and bag on the drive home despite Cindy’s excitement to wear it. I told her repeatedly she can just wear it but she was adamant that I needed to propose officially which I guess I could understand. After two previous marriages my sense of formality about the process was not a priority for me.
When we got home I did some more quick research and thinking about my TV options. I quick search on Amazon showed the LG set I saw at Sam’s had a 4+ stars rating which I put a lot of weight into. Costco has the same set which would mean I would get a free 2nd year of warranty coverage but I would have to pay for it with my Costco American Express card instead of my Amazon Rewards Visa that I wanted to pay with for points. Although I wouldn’t get a free year of warranty coverage Sam’s has very inexpensive extended warranties, I could tack on five years of coverage for a crazy cheap 99 bucks. As comparison a place like Best Buy or HH Gregg will charge you 400 bucks or more for equivalent coverage.
So I made a decision I was going to just go with the LG set. The savings versus size loss equation was just too heavy on the savings side. I told Cindy I wanted to go back to Sam’s and get it. We piled back in the Tacoma and headed out. I brought the GoPro with and mounted it in the Tacoma, I told Cindy I wanted to vlog about the tv purchase. Unbeknownst to her I also had the ring in the center console.
My plan was to officially propose to her on the way. Now most people would think this was a dumb idea but we aren’t most people. Cindy actually had joked about the idea on the drive home earlier. Her joke was about to become our reality. So we started talking about the new tv purchase along with other random topics, none of which had to do with the ring. I then finally made an awkward transition into the proposal as I was driving 55mph+ on Immokalee Road.
Despite us talking about it earlier Cindy seemed surprised by my actions. The proposal was definitely the farthest thing from textbook as you could imagine since I made sure my eyes stayed on the road most of the time. However I think somehow the sentiment and genuine feelings still were evident despite the unconventional delivery method. Despite the lack of secrecy regarding the ring Cindy was still very excited and happy to be able to wear it officially.
It’s funny how the whole thing sort of organically happened. I did not go into the weekend with any specific thoughts or plans about buying rings or getting engaged. The circumstances just seemed to align themselves. We have more or less lived as a married couple for more than a couple years so making it official just wasn’t as stressful as you would normally think.
So now the tv purchase took on a more celebratory aura. We wasted no time grabbing a flat bed and loading the big LG set onto it as well as one of the extended warranty cardboard placeholders. Checking out with my wallet being an extra $1500 heavier felt satisfying. I was glad I reexamined my tv priorities. The enormous box actually fit cleanly on it’s side in between the wheel wells of the Tacoma. I think the bed of the truck is slightly larger than what I was accustomed to in the 99 as well.
Of course when I got home I dug straight into tv set up. Cindy helped me set the 73 inch Mitsubishi in the dining room and place the slightly smaller LG set in it’s place. Despite it’s reduced dimensions it fit the entertainment nook well, I only had maybe an inch or so extra space on either side. Setting up the set went fine until it came time to connect it to my Yamaha surround sound. I first tried to do so with a spare optical audio cable I had sitting around for awhile. When I couldn’t get that to work I tried using the ARC HDMI port and had limited success.
The most straightforward way was to use the optical audio cable. The cable I had did not seem to fit well on either the tv or Yamaha side. I wondered if the cable was just bad so I headed back out one final time to grab a new optical cable at Wal-mart. When I got it home I realized the only thing wrong with the old cable was my stupidity. The optical cables have a small protective boot on either end. I was trying to insert the cable with that boot still in place. Once I pulled the boots off the cable snapped in place perfectly and sound started flowing from the speakers, sigh….
We watched a movie on the new set Saturday night and the picture looked great. The movie was called Knock Knock, starring Keanu Reeves sporting quite the dad bod. It was one of the more bizarre movies I have seen recently and had me laughing out loud during some scenes that I think were supposed to be dramatic. Keanu meets up with two chicks that take crazy to an entirely new level. If you like your movies to have you saying “What the fck?” a lot, be sure to rent it. Overall I can only give it a B rating but really, on pure entertainment it could be rated higher.
On Sunday morning Cindy and I wanted to beat the now increasingly oppressive heat by getting out for our run earlier. We left the house around 7:15. We put in another 5k+ at the nearby track. The pace according to Cindy’s gps was 15 seconds a mile slower than last week but it didn’t feel that way, perhaps from the heat.
When we got back I made arrangements to take Sadie back to Ali’s later in the morning with the 73 inch Mitsubishi in tow. I had asked Ali awhile back that if/when I got around to getting a new TV if she wanted the 73 incher. She said sure since her 48 inch or so LCD tv is really not big enough for the room she has. They sit a good 15 feet away from the tv location.
So the Tacoma got it’s first real world use as we loaded the large tv into the bed and I secured it with my ratchet straps. We covered it with the mylar looking bag the new tv came in. In addition I had the empty chlorine jugs in the bed which needed to be refilled. The new rubber bed mat really is awesome, eliminating the ice rink sliding that goes on if stuff is just on the composite plastic bed.
Ali’s boyfriend helped me carefully carry the tv into her place. Set up had a couple hiccups but nothing serious. The 73 inch of screen fit that space so much better and made viewing from across the room much, much easier. Ali and her boyfriend thanked us for the tv. I was happy that it would be repurposed and continue to entertain them for the foreseeable future. It has been a great set for me.
Before heading home we made stops at Costco and Dick’s Sporting Goods. At Costco we scored two sets of seat covers that wrapped the seat instead of just laying on top of them. I had seen them when I shopped earlier in the week. In normal Costco fashion, the check out experience was backlogged and miserable.
At Dick’s we picked up an olympic style curl bar that Cindy intends to use for a lot more than curling. It’s shorter length makes it much more practical in her small “shed gym” she has laid out.
On Sunday afternoon I undertook my monitor repair project. My hope was to somehow take parts out of a damaged monitor I bought on Ebay for 50 bucks to get my just out of warranty monitor working again. I had never dug into a monitor before so I figured if nothing else it would be a learning experience. It was.
I was surprised just how little was inside the monitor as far as circuit boards go. I first tried swapping out the small circuit board that power and video connections connect to. When that made no difference the surgery became much more expansive.
If you want the full play by play feel free to watch the video I shot during the process. In the end I basically pulled the cracked screen out of the Ebay monitor and inserted the uncracked screen from my monitor in it’s place. The way I got to that point was a twisting path of confusion but all I know is it works. My Frankensteined monitor works well. The only flaw is the top right corner has a bright spot that I hardly even notice since I assigned it as my secondary screen.
Sunday night we had our last regular season Tarpons game to attend. Cindy thought it would be appropriate to make the official social media declaration about the proposal then since it all started there when Cindy went with me to a Tarpons game more than 3 years ago. We took a selfie in our empty section of the arena to celebrate.
The game was yet another boring blow out as every home game has been this year with the Tarpons winning 70-6. There will be at least one home play off game although the disorganized league doesn’t really know who they will play at this point. All I hope is we get to see at least one competitive game this year.
During the day yesterday for some reason I got the idea in my head that it would be cool if we put mom’s Christmas tree up. It has been sitting in my small shed since the last time it was put up in December of 13. At several points since my mom passed away I had considered throwing out her old tree, figuring it would bring more emotional pain than pleasure.
I recall buying this tree with my mom years ago. She was very excited that we scored a Black Friday deal on the tree that she saw posted in the K-mart flyer. I remember when we set it up she was less than thrilled with the quality of the tree initially but once she got done decorating it looked much better, sort of a Charlie Brown Christmas scenario.
In 2013 mom did not want to even bother putting her tree up. Cindy wound up helping her set it up back then to bolster mom’s Christmas spirit. Being the last one involved setting up the tree before mom passed away made it tough on Cindy emotionally as we got the tree in place.
It’s narrow profile allowed it to more or less fit in the corner next to the tv. I really don’t have any ornaments for it so Cindy is going to go get some to really dress it up. I have no doubt it will be stunning by the time she is finished. Although I did/do feel some of the expected sadness as I see mom’s tree standing there I also feel some degree of comfort as well.
This weekend I continue my last streak of consecutive race weekends which doesn’t end until December 19th. This race is not chip timed but is looking to have it’s own unique set of hurdles that will need to be cleared. The rest of the weekend will have chores and Xmas related shopping and other duties to address. With the NYC trip wedged right in front of Xmas I need to keep reminding myself that my normal timeline for things needs to be accelerated.
It’s hard to believe that today marks the one year anniversary of my mom passing away. There were many torturous moments during the four day period from when my mom was found in her vehicle unresponsive till life support was removed and we watched her body shut down. The time since then has been peppered with pain for myself, my family, and our inner circles.
There is something life changing when a parent dies. It clarifies the transience of life despite the efforts of all of us to think otherwise. It makes you examine choices and reconsider options. The sadness and weight of loss never goes away. The best you can hope for is that weight sits on the end of a seesaw which is used to push your life on the other end more upward to a brighter, more appreciative, and happier life.
Below is a collection of pictures which were used at the two memorial services that were held for Mom. I honor her by sharing them with you. Love you Mom.
Yesterday marked two years since Cindy went to a Tarpons game with me which evolved unexpectedly into something much more. It seems bizarre that two years have already passed since that night.
Cindy’s devotion, support, and love she shows for me everyday has changed the way I bump along in life for the better, the much better. As I have said before, our symbiotic relationship just works for each of us. We don’t need a lot of outside distractions to keep us happy. We are content together pretty much anywhere, whether that place is driving across the country, working in the yard, or just sitting on the couch. In two years we have already accumulated an overflowing basket of great memories. I am looking forward to filling many more baskets in the years to come.
Last night was not a good one from a sleep perspective. I woke up at 1:15 to take a leak. As I laid down I recall thinking to myself, “wow it would suck if I couldn’t fall back asleep” Well of course this is often a self fulfilling prophecy. I wound up laying there for at least two hours trying to fall back asleep. Several times I was on the verge of rolling out of bed to go do some middle of the night WoW’ing. The two things that stopped me were the repercussions if I only got three hours of sleep and my desire to not penalize Cindy for my restlessness. She is a very light sleeper and it is nearly impossible for me to get out of bed and close the door without her waking up. I will more than likely be grabbing some coffee for the drive home so I don’t doze off.
Speaking of coffee I have a little rant about the Dunkin Donuts near my office, which is the location I typically hit if I need coffee after work. I have had issues with the staff that works at this time of day for awhile, they are slow, inept and weird. Well the other day they annoyed me enough to fire off a complaint about the location on the DD website.
I was the only person at the drive thru and placed my simple order for a single large coffee. I pull up to the window and after a short delay I pay for the coffee. The clerk then steps away from the window for a minute or two and then comes back without coffee in hand. He tells me I should pull forward to the white line, 20 feet ahead of me and they would bring the coffee out to me. (they did this once before).
This act made no sense to me. My pulling up does nothing to increase efficiency as my vehicle was still blocking the drive thru lane. All this did was allow the one car behind me to pay for their coffee and wait at the window instead of behind me waiting at the window. Plus it obviously takes longer to walk the coffee out of the store than to just hand it to me through the window, I waited at least 5 minutes to have my coffee brought out. When I took a sip and it tasted like hot water with coffee flavor I mentally committed to sharing my experience with someone that could influence future staffing decisions at the location.
So on the way home last night I asked Ali if she minded if I stopped by to see the dogs which she said was fine. On the way there I stopped by Sports Authority, looking at things for the trip. I wound up not buying anything other than a cheap pair of sunglasses for the trip.
I always was a big fan of Ponch from Chips/T-1000 Terminator 2 style sunglasses. The huge mirrored lenses when combined with my buzzed hair and facial scruff I am sure to accrue while on the road it will make for an interesting visual.
When I got to Ali’s place Sadie was inside by herself, meaning Ali was out walking Nicki. I hooked up Sadie and went out to find them. Once I did, we handed off, I took Nicki back while Sadie did her business.
I have started a new “thing” with Nicki. When I am at Ali’s place we play the elevator game. Instead of making Nicki climb and descend the steps with her aching back legs I pick her up and carry her up or down the two flights of stairs. When I first started doing it Nicki was uneasy, thinking it meant something suspicious was going on like possibly a bath. She would lay down and try to avoid it. Now she actually stands there and waits for me to grab her, like she actually enjoys the zero effort trip to the second floor.
I hung out at Ali’s place for a little while with her and the girls, talking about the trip and other things. Ali is actually going to be out of town for part of the time that I am, the first time we both have been out of Naples at the same time in different locations.
It felt a bit strange saying goodbye to everyone since typically every road trip out of the state I have ever taken has involved some combination of Ali and the dogs. It’s just part of the new world we both live in. I gave both the girls a kiss on the head before heading out.
When I got home I had no time for farting around like I did the night before. I spent a couple hours attending to trip related items as well as sharpening my mental list of things to get handled before shoving out tomorrow morning hopefully sometime around 4AM.
I will be leaving work early today to knock out the last minute items, including mowing the grass, regardless of the amounts of water that are still on the ground. Hell even if it is pouring I will be out there on the tractor, knocking down what I can.
The rest of the evening will be a whirlwind of activity with Cindy showing up later to help me batten down the hatches.
I’ll be trying to blog as time allows while on the road. I am bringing the wifi hotspot to potentially allow me to type away while rolling along at 70 mph. I look forward to creating a new set of road trip memories to supplement my already impressive collection.
Yesterday Alison and I got the final part of the divorce paperwork handled, the quit claim deeds that move the property around from a title standpoint. I had already assumed the mortgage months ago, late last year I think. The quit claim deeds were simple one page documents that just had to be notarized and witnessed by two people. I filed the one for the house later in the afternoon at the clerks office next door. The copies for the horrible investment chunks of land in Lee County went out in the mail today. At least filing the paperwork is cheap, something like 11 bucks each.
It feels good to have it finally done, the process went on much longer than I expected or hoped for. I am looking forward to moving ahead in life without the divorce looming over me like a gray cloud. It has been an emotionally difficult journey on many levels.
I still will need to change some other stuff like life insurance, medical insurance, etc.. so if I kick the bucket anytime soon she still would be the lucky benefactor.
I have been trying to get things lined up to be able to do another roadtrip and an ambitious one at that, the Grand Canyon. I have a total of 11 days to get out there, hike it and get back. Cindy is going to be going as well. I couldn’t afford to do this trip without someone to split the costs with.
I already warned her that a long road trip can be a true trial by fire when it comes to spending time with someone. Little annoyances can become magnified 10 times over when you are in a confined space with another person for 100 hours or more. We will either emerge from the trip feeling better about our compatibility or be ready to kill each other.
Regardless of that, the trip should be awesome overall. I have only been to the Grand Canyon as a kid during a western road trip with my dad. I hiked down only part of the way and recall feeling like I was near death by the time I got back up to the South Rim. This time around the goal is loftier, from the South Rim all the way down to the Colorado River and back up in the span of a day. The National Parks website officially advises against this due to it’s difficulty. Sounds like a good reason to do it.
During the various western road trips Ali and I took, the Grand Canyon was never a consideration because of traveling with the dogs. Since this will be a canine free trip those limitations are lifted.
I have planned a not exactly direct route which will hit New Orleans, the flat plains of Kansas, and the mountains in Colorado on our way to the canyon. Unfortunately there are a lot of miles to gobble up which is going to require a LOT of long driving days. We will try to split the driving duties close to down the middle to make it less painful for both of us.
Then there is the party van, which has already taken me all over the country multiple times. I have some concerns about calling on it once again to take me cross country, after all it is at this point 17 years old. I suppose I will just cross my fingers and roll the dice that mechanical issues will not be one of the memories from the trip.
By this time next week I should already be on the road, well up into northern Florida with a day one stopping point of New Orleans. Adventure awaits.