Showing posts from December, 2016

A New Hope

We are a couple of days away from 2016 being over and done with. And let me tell you, I'll be the first one in line toasting good riddance to it. It has been a tough, difficult year in our country and our world - one of the worst I can remember anyway. I try and be as positive a person as I can, but this year was a struggle to keep my chin up. There were a multitude of racially charged cop/citizen shootings that created demonstrations and counter demonstrations. Throw on top of this the nearly weekly active shooter occurrences and it kind of makes one sick to their stomach. I don't know what the answer is anymore, but I'm guessing a good start would be less guns and more punitive measures on gun crimes. I'm no expert though, so this is just a thought. I just want it to stop.  And of course we had a rash of high profile celebrity deaths this year too. For some reasons the ones that always hit me the hardest are the rock stars of my youth. This year saw names like

Santa's Gift

We just returned from our Christmas celebration after a 5 hour drive through a relatively torrential December downpour. There were moments of white knuckles and at least two incidences of a second or two of uncontrolled hydroplaning - which was kinda fun - in a one-horse-open-sleigh kinda way. As in years of recent past, we stayed at the Homewood Suites in New Brighton, Minnesota. It is a pretty nice hotel and their suites have a kitchenette and separate living areas that makes it quite comfortable. On the evening we arrived, we spent some time with my sister in-law, Jane and her two girls. We always used to stay with them during holiday stays, so our kids grew up together. Part of our evening was spent going through Jane's scrapbooks of a few of our family vacation trips together. Two of the trips were spent with three of us siblings and our families. We saw Colorado, South Dakota and Pennsylvania. It was a blast going back through some of the things we had forgotten about on

Keep It Down Over There

Well, I am the not-so-proud owner of a new pair of Phonak hearing aids. Yep, it's official, I'm old. I got them on Tuesday and went through all the fitting/training procedures at the audiologists office. I was surprised by the small size of them and when they're in, they are very difficult to see. (Of course I realize that by posting this, I am tipping you all off, and now you'll be looking for them next time you see me. Don't be a judger.)  In fact, the day I got them I went to Ben's swim meet neither my friend nor Ben noticed them until I mentioned it to them. That was my big hangup for so many years was the vanity end of it. That and the fact that it skews me as "old," which I may be becoming. Not sure yet. Anyways, when I first tried them on, I was shocked at how loud and echoey my voice was. The doctor adjusted it and said that over time my brain would get used to it and I wouldn't notice it anymore. The other thing that was shocking was,


December is a month full of significant birthdays for me. My brother Paul's is December 2nd, my wife's is December 7th, my own is December 11th and my stepfather, Jack's is today, December 18th. He would have been 87. Jack dated my mom  for nearly 10 years before they married in 1979. They divorced in 1985 and we sometimes joke about how getting married was the biggest mistake they made. When they didn't get along during the dating years, they just stopped seeing each other for a couple of weeks. Then, they'd get back together and all would be good again until the next time. While I can't paint Jack as a saint - he had drinking problems for most of his adult years, the cause of both his divorces and the source of much hurt to his families - I think it's only fair to point out the good on his birthday. Jack had a wicked sense of humor. He loved to laugh and was great at getting others to laugh with him. That's why people liked him. I know there we

Winter Camping Close To Home

It has been an interesting few days around this 95 year old house. If you recall, I've mentioned we've had furnace issues for a while now. We've been walking the tightrope for about a year now. Our furnace started making some noise a couple of years ago. We had it checked and the guy said it was the inducer, it costs around $600 and that it could probably go for a while but would eventually need replacing. We were contemplating replacing it at the time, but since the noise wasn't too bad, we figured we'd ride it out for a while. Well we rode it through last winter and by the end of the season, she was howlin' pretty good. When it fired up this fall, it was no better. It's weird how those things don't fix themselves with a little time off. Knowing that I would absolutely lose my mind if I had to listen to the roar of that thing for another season, we decided to have it "assessed." The assessment was that the patient was old, lived a good

Trips Around The Sun

As it turns out my blog post day (Sunday) falls on my birthday this year. I turned 55 today and while birthdays are always a little special, as we get older, they tend more and more to drift toward the "just another day" on the spectrum of life events. So today I will spend watching the Packers/Seattle game with a couple of close friends, eating ribs and birthday cookies and enjoying the downtime that snowy Decembers bring. And it will be a really, really good day. When pressed to think of memorable birthdays past, a few come to mind. In 1972, we celebrated my golden birthday a day early on Sunday, December 10th. I remember the Vikings played the Packers and because the game was not a sellout, they blacked the game out in the Twin Cities. My mom and stepfather knew I was a big Viking fan and made it special by taking me across the border into Hudson, Wisconsin where the game was being shown. As I recall, even there the screen was fuzzy and snowy because, well, TV wasn

Its Beginning To Look Like Not Quite Solstice

Well, the BIG winter jacket came out this week. The polar blast has swung into Wisconsin with a vengeance. Temps aren't even that bad, low to mid twenties. It's the wind that is killing us. We've had a steady 10-20 mph wind for the past three days. It makes a feel-like temperature in the low single digits. The other day I was walking home and faced a strong head wind for much of the walk. I began to wonder if I would make it home without sustaining a frostbitten nose. Thankfully I had a great jacket with a decent hood and made it home unscathed - albeit delirious and out of breath. And so we've come upon that time of year. The jig is up, the furnace is howling - shaking the whole house - and there's no turning back. Time to gas up the snow blower, ready the shovel, bust out the wool socks and cotton long johns and brace yourselves. I am determined to make the best of it this winter and try and not be a depressed whiner about it all. Every day is a blessing I&#

Pushing For The Wall

Friday night marked the start of my son's senior year of swim season. As you recall, he decided to join the team last year after not playing any sports in high school in the previous years. It was such a good experience for him that he decided to do it his senior year as well. The meet was held at Waukesha North, a competing school in the city. It was a "compass meet" which I think means all the Waukesha teams South, North and West. There were a handful of other teams as well, including Mukwonago and Homestead. Of course I went to the meet to cheer him on. I always forget how much I enjoy watching swimming events. The summer Olympics always find me glued to the swimming events watching Michael Phelps break records and take home medals. They help me appreciate what really goes into the training and competitiveness of the sport. I am a fledgling swimmer - one who loves the water, but can't do much more than crawl/back float out to the island every year at the ca

A Party On The Iceberg

Well, I had my hearing test/evaluation today, and let's just say that if it was the ACT exam, I'd definitely want to retake it. I pretty much failed with flying colors.  Now, I;d had my ears tested about 8-9 years ago, I would guess. Back then they told me there was some loss and that I should probably consider a hearing aid somewhere down the road. Now, when you say this to a man, "down the road" means 8-9 years down the road. Not a big fan of doctors... Anyways the whole experience was fairly stressful in a strange way.  Once I filled out all the paperwork asking questions like what types of situations I would like to hear better in and things of that nature, I was taken back to the soundproof booth. There the Doctor and her intern asked the same questions. (Why?) Next she told me how the exam would be conducted. It was basically 3 parts. A series of ascending sounds - Click the clicker when they start. A sentence - repeat the sentence back (or