2017

Oct. 19th, 2017 01:34 pm
jayfurr: (Default)


Lots and lots and lots of stuff has happened to the Furr family in 2017 -- and by Furr family, I guess I should say "Jay and Carole Furr" since the larger Furr family kind of blew up last year when my father died in March (Mom had already died, back in 2011). And we haven't really posted about much of any of it, not in any organized fashion.

I doubt that anyone really cares, since unused, cobweb-covered personal blogs are a dime a dozen, but once in a while I feel kind of guilty and think "I should post something".  So here goes: 2017 as it's happened to us.

  • We went to Hawaii for two weeks in February -- one week on board a cruise ship out of Oahu, stopping off at the Big Island, Maui, Kauai, and ending back up in Oahu, and three days before and after just bumming around Oahu.  We had a fantastic time, more or less.

  • Carole's mom Anne Stoops passed away in June after a long illness.  That leaves only one of our four parents alive: Carole's dad Glenn.  May he live for many, many more years.

  • Carole started a new job in August at the Burlington Housing Authority as a staff accountant.  Carole has had a lot of jobs over the years, but this seems like the best fit for her in quite some time.

  • Carole has long wanted to learn to cook, but has always been terrified of hot ovens and complicated recipes and so forth.   So, she signed up for the Blue Apron program, where they send you all the ingredients and detailed instructions for two or three meals a week and there are all sorts of tips and tricks and technique videos on their website to refer to if you need them.   I've helped on some recipes, but she's been making fantastic progress, mostly on her own, just by dutifully following the recipes.  It's turned out to be a lot more cost effective than eating in restaurants, too, and we can't really recall any of the meals we've been sent turning out less than "pretty good".  Most have been "great".

  • In August, we went to Kentucky for the 2017 solar eclipse.  Saw it from the Jefferson Davis State Historic  Site near Hopkinsville.  The eclipse was stunning.  The 12 hours of traffic getting from Hopkinsville back to Carole's dad's house in Dayton, Ohio was less so.

  • I turned 50 in September.   Carole bought me a cake and that was pretty much it as far as observances went.  I guess not having any friends who live in the area would have made having any kind of party in honor of the big 5-0 difficult.

  • We lost our beloved tortoiseshell cat, Starlight (aka "Torbie") to complications from bladder cancer and Carole was absolutely devastated.  I wasn't exactly turning cartwheels either, but Torbie had basically been Carole's personal cat for 15 years, sleeping on her chest most nights and so on.  

  • We adopted a new cat, Maggie, a couple of weeks after we lost Starlight.   Carole just felt that the niche in her life earmarked for "tortoiseshell cat" should not be left empty for any sizeable length of time, and instead of doggedly watching the local Humane Society's web page for new kittens, we wound up driving all the way down to the New Paltz/Poughkeepsie, NY vicinity to adopt a cat from a local adoption nonprofit down there.   Maggie is a sweet little kitten and Carole has taken to her like a duck to water.

  • We've both been dealing with estate stuff.   Even though my dad passed away a year and a half ago, stuff relating to the sale of the house in Florida is still ongoing, and one of these days it'll be done, but don't ask me when.   Carole's mom left some money directly to her and so she's got all sorts of tax implications and 401(k) rollovers and so forth to process.   I knew losing one's parent(s) is stressful, but I guess I was naive about exactly why.
  •  
  • This past weekend I walked in the 2017 Atlanta Susan G Komen 3-Day.   I raised, thanks to generous friends and co-workers, $2,600.   This was my 17th walk as a walker and 27th walk overall.  I had a bad time the first day because I'd reflexively taken my metoprolol blood pressure medication in the morning and forgotten how it really impacts any kind of physical activity.  Big-time fatigue.   That night I found out that a close co-worker had passed away from a massive heart attack, and on Day 2 I was a complete wreck.   I managed Day 3 just fine, but I've got some blisters from heck as a result of all those Atlanta hills.

  • On kind of a less date-specific basis, I've been dealing with some pretty bad clinical depression.  I'm seemingly out of the worst of it at this point, but earlier in the year I felt so bad that I shut down my Facebook and Twitter accounts and started apologizing to people for existing.  Fortunately, it didn't negatively affect my work; I'm too pre-programmed for that.  But in many other respects, I just turned into a zombie.  I'm sorry for being a drag to those of you who got to witness the whole mess.

I'm sure there's other things that might have been considered "newsworthy" -- Carole going to a cousin's wedding in Quebec City, for example -- but frankly, given that just about no one noticed I was taking a months-long sabbatical from social media, I doubt anyone's going to be going through the list, above, and ticking off things we forgot to include.   That said, if you read this far, thank you!  It's nice to know that a few people still read personal blogs.
jayfurr: (Default)

It’s pathetic, really, but I still get warm fuzziest thinking about the time I called Carole from a crowded downtown Seattle coffee shop (one with a green and white mermaid logo) and loudly exclaimed “Hey, honey, they have Starbucks here in Seattle too!


You could have heard a pin drop anytime in the next ten seconds.  It was just perfect.


Good times.

jayfurr: (Default)


Sometimes I miss splitting firewood.


When I was a kid Dad (Keith Furr) attempted to heat our house in the mountains of Virginia with a wood stove and blower system. (It didn’t work that well from my point of view; my bedroom was at the opposite corner of the house and in the winter it was not uncommon to get up and find that my bedroom thermometer read 58°.)


Our house outside Blacksburg was surrounded by woods; some oak, some pine, some poplar, other stuff too. Dad spent weekend days out in the woods with his chainsaw and we kids spent our weekend days hauling it up to the house. At a certain point in my teenage years, it was explained to me that I was perfectly capable of wielding a sledgehammer, axe, and wedges, and splitting the larger logs.


At first I didn’t much like it. I had the knack for wedging our two available wedges deep into a partially split log and then having to use the axe head as a third wedge to get the other two back out. But I eventually got the hang of it, and depending on the density and grain wood in question, I could usually account for a decent pile of split logs in the matter of an hour or two after school.


It was a small accomplishment for a kid who had nothing else to brag about: my grades were awful because I never did homework, I washed out of concert and marching band due to an abysmal lack of musical talent, and if I wasn’t at the absolute bottom of the “guys I’d like to date list” for the average girl my age, I was certainly close enough that I could ask the guy who was to pass the Clearasil.


My house in Richmond, Vermont doesn’t have a fireplace. We have an oil furnace and a ductless high efficiency heat pump (recently added). In other words, there’s no need for me to wander out back and spend an hour or two working up a sweat by a pile of logs. Sometimes, though, I miss it. I have to think it did some good to release tension and stress. And in any event, it was nice to have something I could avoid failing at.


It’s been pointed out to me that I could go get some logs, split them, and donate them to someone who needs them. The thought’s occurred to me, but I don’t own a pickup truck and thus I wouldn’t be able to get that many logs… not enough to make much of a difference. And in any event… due to my work schedule, I’m never around. I enjoy traveling for work as much as I do, but it basically costs me the opportunity to contribute via volunteering and charitable works. But, if I traveled less so I could pitch in locally, I’d lose the job satisfaction of traveling and doing my job well. I don’t know if it’s precisely a Catch-22, but it’s certainly frustrating.


jayfurr: (Default)

I’ve been having fun with my Ricoh Theta S 360 degree camera since I got it. It lets me take still or video panoramas using a pair of fisheye lenses, then upload them to places like Youtube, Facebook, or Google Street View.


I happened to have my camera and small tripod with me today when I walked from a Vermont Lake Monsters (short-season A minor league baseball) game to Noyes Automotive, where we’d had Carole’s car extensively detailed. As I walked down Ledge Road heading west toward Pine Street, I noticed that some nice homeowner had put out a large bowl of water with a sign reading “WATER STATION” at dog’s-eye level.


I took a photo of it with my phone, but then reconsidered — a still photo just showing the bowl in isolation didn’t really do the situation justice. Out came the Ricoh and tripod. This was the result (click and drag the image with your mouse). Now just imagine that you’re a thirsty pooch out for a walk with your owner. Awesome, right?



jayfurr: (Default)

Waring Blender

Just killed my red Waring bar blender trying to make Carole a smoothie with skim milk, frozen berries, and frozen yogurt chunks (which she’d prepared in advance in a silicone cube tray). Apparently there are some things that are too much for a Waring blender — deep frozen 1 inch cubes of frozen vanilla yogurt, for one, and Warren Zevon for another.


Note the Oxford comma there.


Anyway, the thing gave me 11 years’ service, so I’m not too broken hearted.


I went to look up and order another and to my horror, the blender arms race has gotten a bit out of control; they make Waring blenders that go up to almost a thousand dollars. I assume those are for making the Bruce Banner smoothies out of pitchblende, carnotite, basalt, and, of course, skim milk.


jayfurr: (Default)

34028198 - calf leg pain, man holding sore and painful muscle, sprain or cramp ache filled with red pink bright place. person injured when exercising or running


Observations on a Saturday:



  1. There is nothing quite so bracing as lunging for one’s alarm clock at 6:30 in the morning, only to suffer a spontaneous and extremely painful cramp in one’s right calf. I know exactly what to do when a cramp happens: grab one’s toes and pull up and toward you. This lessens the pain enough that you no longer wish to die, but not enough that you can just go “TRA LA” and go on about your business.And if you let go too soon, the pain comes right back.And the whole time, the alarm clock is going “BLATT BLATT BLATT” and getting increasingly loud.Nothin’ better than that.

  2. There’s nothing to make you feel silly as sitting through the age group awards at a 5K run/10K run/5K walk, waiting patiently for the organizers to get to the awards for top fundraisers, and then hearing your name called out as the Top Male Finisher for the walk. Which they said they weren’t going to time. And having all the runners who did the 10K in 38 minutes and the 5K in 17 minutes clapping because you finished the walk in 45 and a half minutes.I was not only the first male to finish, I was also the first male in the 40-49 bracket, which meant I had to get back up and claim a second ribbon, alongside Carole, who was first in the female 40-49 bracket and thus got a ribbon as well.I wanted to sit right back down and and try not to meet anyone’s eyes, but we were firmly directed off to one side where a photographer was waiting to photograph our greatness.Carole and I had decided not to run the Run for Empowerment, benefiting Women Helping Battered Women, because we needed to get in a training walk for the upcoming Seattle Susan G Komen, because I’ve let myself get out of running shape, and because Carole’s never liked to run anyway.I think, all told, there were 13 walkers. Two of those were men. The other guy was in the 60-69 age bracket. But YAY I WAS THE FASTEST oh god kill me now I’m a 48-year-old and I just basically got one of these:participant

  3. On a much more positive note, the Run for Empowerment raised something like $17,000 to help fund the programs of Women Helping Battered Women, which is awesome. Carole raised $1025 on her own, which is really awesome, when you consider that she did it in ONE WEEK. Social media can work amazingly well for fundraising, if you know how to use it.RFE2At the end of the event, they announced the top fundraisers, and we were startled and confused when Carole was announced as the #2 fundraiser. There was another participant who had a few hundred more dollars raised who we expected to be announced second, but instead they called for Carole. We both looked very startled and started semaphoring to the staff member from WHBW who was doing the announcing that Carole was third, but said staff member firmly shook her head and said second.rfe2It wasn’t until it was all over that she told us that when it came to “offline” money actually turned in at the start of the walk (as opposed to raised via the website), and all tallied up, Carole had actually finished 2nd. I have no idea what happened to that person who’d been ahead of Carole all week, but hey, being 2nd-place fundraiser is pretty cool. And again, thanks to wonderful generous friends and acquaintances, Carole pulled all that off in ONE WEEK. (She says “THANK YOU SO MUCH” and will be writing her own blog entry later.)

  4. On a more negative note, it turns out that if you’re going to go crazy buying hanging pots of flowers to make your back yard look more festive, you’ve got to remember to water them. I was out of town (in Illinois) for work this past week and it was hot and sunny back here in Vermont … and Carole was busy working on a very detailed and complicated government security clearance application… and oops. Carole caught it today and watered everywhere and everything, and we hope the flowers rebound. One of these days I’ve got to win the lottery so I can afford a personal landscaper. We’re definitely pretty incompetent at it.


 


jayfurr: (Default)

Green tea latte


So there I was, sitting in a very crowded Starbucks in terminal C of Newark Liberty International Airport. If you’ve been there, you know the one — right next to the United Club just after security. It’s typically a scene of complete pandemonium as travelers, flight crew, and TSA employees pack the line trying to get their caffeine fix on. It’s not easy to just relax there, but you can if you really try.


I was sitting at one end of the long bar-height table that runs the length of the store, drinking my drink and not thinking much about anything. I had about 90 minutes to wait until my connecting flight boarded.


A twentysomething woman came up to me and asked, apologetically, if she could put her stuff down to my right, at the end of the long table. I said “But of course. All the cool people sit here.” and scooted over a bit.


She stood at the end of the long table next to me, chatting with a friend she was apparently traveling with, drinking her drink. When I heard her comment that she was just about the only person she knew who ever ordered the Starbucks green tea latte, I looked owlishly at her and lifted the lid off my own drink, revealing that to be precisely what I was enjoying.


“Ohmigosh,” she exclaimed. “Someone else who likes that!”


I nodded urbanely. “All the cool people do.”


They went on talking and I went on ruminating and drinking my drink.


Then she happened to glance at my cup, which as per Starbucks normal practice, had my name scrawled on it. “Is your name Jay? My dad’s name is Jay!”


Imperturbably, I nodded. “All the cool people…”


She laughed. I smiled.


Sometimes it is possible to connect with another human being, even in the unlikeliest of places.


 


 

jayfurr: (Iceberg)
This morning I enjoyed the thrilling experience of sliding sideways, then backwards, down my steep driveway, all but powerless to stop despite my Subaru Forester's all-wheel drive.

Whee!

We live at the top of a hill in northern Vermont. Our driveway is about, oh, 100 yards long, and paved. It's steepest right at the bottom but the whole thing isn't exactly 'level'. This past weekend it snowed (we had our driveway plowed), then it got super-cold (-10 on Sunday morning), but yesterday temperatures inexplicably got up in the high 30s in the afternoon. It even rained a bit. But last night we made it up the driveway with only a bit of slipping on our snowy, icy driveway and only a few "this traction BITES" yellow warning messages on the Subaru's dashboard.

But overnight the entire length of the driveway, even the flat part at the top in front of our house, froze into a massive sheet of black ice. When we backed out of our garage and tried to turn around to head down the driveway, the car didn't want to turn around. It wanted to slide, like a hockey puck on a greased rink, sideways and backwards in the direction it was already going. Working the anti-lock brakes did nothing; steering "into the skid" did nothing. If it hadn't been for a snowbank by the side of the driveway God only knows what would have happened... but my money is on us rocketing backwards down the driveway, across the road at the bottom, and winding up upside down in the ditch.

But since we had miraculously gotten stopped with one tire in a snowbank, we climbed out, verrrrrrrry slowly crept on foot back up to the garage, put on our Yaktrax and Microspikes, filled buckets with the sort of high-test ice melt that's guaranteed to ten below and is made out of all sorts of nasty chemicals including depleted uranium, and salted the wazoo out of the area around the car, the area the car would need to back into to get turned around, and finally, the rest of the driveway. We went through one and a half BIG bags of the ice melt... and were gratified to see, almost immediately, a river of salt water running right down the driveway.

We wanted to wait for it to really, really work, but we had to get to work... so we got back in the car and tried turning around and getting pointed in the right direction. When that worked, we started working our way down the steep driveway, advancing a few inches at a time so as not to work up any momentum. All went well until the last ten feet of the driveway where it met the road -- the car spun sideways and went sliding inexorably downhill, across the road ... and stopped just shy of the ditch on the far side, which I swear went "drat".

Our whole road -- we live on a non-town-maintained "private road" with seven houses on it -- was about as bad, but at least it was level. But then once on the paved main road, there was no ice, no snow, no nothin' ... and it was smooth sailing from there on.

Why am I posting about this? In the end, nothing bad happened, right? Well, it was a damn worrisome situation and I just about had to change underwear after we got going sliding backwards there at the top of the driveway. Moral of the story: even a Subaru Forester with all-wheel drive is aided by a bit of precautionary salting half an hour before we need to leave for work. Important to remember this. :)
jayfurr: (Platypus)
[personal profile] caroleotter and I got up early today and were out the door by 7 am in order to hurry down to the local middle school to cast our votes for our town selectboard.

Today is Town Meeting Day. In Vermont, Town Meeting Day is a semi-holy institution in which, hypothetically, everyone puts down what they're doing and comes and gathers at the local school or town hall on a late-winter Tuesday morning to discuss the town budget and vote on town officers... although to hear folks talk, just as many people come for the post-meeting potluck and socializing. While some items are discussed and voted on right there at the meeting by whichever town voters show up, other items are voted on via Australian ballot in polling that's open from 7 am to 7 pm.

I've actually only attended Town Meeting once since moving to Richmond, Vermont in 2002 and didn't get up to speak. I love democracy and all that, but... well, let me explain.

The year I went, Town Meeting consisted of the members of the selectboard and school board answering questions about the town budget ... and then sitting back and listening to town residents making motions to strike items from the budget and advancing various theories about the incompetence or allegedly criminal nature of various town officers and school board members.

Not everyone who spoke was a crank. Some people had reasonable things to say. But there was also a LOT of stuff said that made you wonder what color the sky was on the speaker's home planet.

The meeting would have lasted for about an hour, to be honest, if it weren't for all the people making motions to strike line items from the town budget. Over and over again, the moderator had to explain that while a motion to reduce the overall budget by some amount was certainly in order, a motion could not explicitly strike a single budget item. People absolutely did not get this.

For example, if you thought $45,000 to buy a new pickup truck for the town highway department was extravagant, you could certainly make a motion to reduce the town budget by $45,000 but you couldn't control where the town selectboard subtracted the money. They could still buy the pickup truck and reduce spending in other areas by $45,000 in order to bring things in line with the overall approved amount.

I suspect this rule is there so people won't hamstring the functioning of town government by, for example, voting to strike the money used to pay for electricity in town offices. And before you ask, "why would they do that?" consider who actually has time to attend town meeting: it's not busy professionals. It's self-employed people, small business owners who close up for the day, unemployed people, moms, retired people, and, well, outright cranks and weirdos. You never know what you're going to get.

The town board and the school board hold public forums in the weeks prior to town meeting to offer residents an opportunity to make their feelings known and to ask questions, but most years they're lightly attended at best. I suspect that a lot of people don't actually care about specifics -- they just get their rocks off showing up at Town Meeting and offering angry theories about extravagance and waste and offering motions that will "solve everything".

As the official meeting notice explains, today's Richmond Town Meeting has various agenda items to cover: a school budget, a town budget, a school bond issue, and a town road repair item. Thank God the school budget and town road repair item are voted on during all-day voting via Australian ballot. I just wish the town budget was as well. It's not that I'm anti-democracy; it's that there's undeniably a weird urge in some people to break things that don't need fixing. You haven't lived until you've watched a Town Meeting attempt to reduce a budget for a program below a state-mandated amount, just because.

But again, I'm skipping all that; I've got be at work. I did make sure to hustle down to the school this morning almost as soon as they opened for the specific reason of casting a vote against a specific member of our town Selectboard who's running for re-election. Every town has its share of angry cranks -- we just happen to have one who's actually on the Selectboard and has basically managed to poison half the Selectboard meetings with angry wranglings with the town officers and other members of the Selectboard. I could say a lot more about this person -- and probably get sued for libel in the process -- but I'm not going to. Just suffice it to say that I'm keeping my fingers crossed that our local millstone is gone from our necks after today.

jayfurr: (Platypus)
[livejournal.com profile] caroleotter and I got up early today and were out the door by 7 am in order to hurry down to the local middle school to cast our votes for our town selectboard.

Today is Town Meeting Day. In Vermont, Town Meeting Day is a semi-holy institution in which, hypothetically, everyone puts down what they're doing and comes and gathers at the local school or town hall on a late-winter Tuesday morning to discuss the town budget and vote on town officers... although to hear folks talk, just as many people come for the post-meeting potluck and socializing. While some items are discussed and voted on right there at the meeting by whichever town voters show up, other items are voted on via Australian ballot in polling that's open from 7 am to 7 pm.

I've actually only attended Town Meeting once since moving to Richmond, Vermont in 2002 and didn't get up to speak. I love democracy and all that, but... well, let me explain.

The year I went, Town Meeting consisted of the members of the selectboard and school board answering questions about the town budget ... and then sitting back and listening to town residents making motions to strike items from the budget and advancing various theories about the incompetence or allegedly criminal nature of various town officers and school board members.

Not everyone who spoke was a crank. Some people had reasonable things to say. But there was also a LOT of stuff said that made you wonder what color the sky was on the speaker's home planet.

The meeting would have lasted for about an hour, to be honest, if it weren't for all the people making motions to strike line items from the town budget. Over and over again, the moderator had to explain that while a motion to reduce the overall budget by some amount was certainly in order, a motion could not explicitly strike a single budget item. People absolutely did not get this.

For example, if you thought $45,000 to buy a new pickup truck for the town highway department was extravagant, you could certainly make a motion to reduce the town budget by $45,000 but you couldn't control where the town selectboard subtracted the money. They could still buy the pickup truck and reduce spending in other areas by $45,000 in order to bring things in line with the overall approved amount.

I suspect this rule is there so people won't hamstring the functioning of town government by, for example, voting to strike the money used to pay for electricity in town offices. And before you ask, "why would they do that?" consider who actually has time to attend town meeting: it's not busy professionals. It's self-employed people, small business owners who close up for the day, unemployed people, moms, retired people, and, well, outright cranks and weirdos. You never know what you're going to get.

The town board and the school board hold public forums in the weeks prior to town meeting to offer residents an opportunity to make their feelings known and to ask questions, but most years they're lightly attended at best. I suspect that a lot of people don't actually care about specifics -- they just get their rocks off showing up at Town Meeting and offering angry theories about extravagance and waste and offering motions that will "solve everything".

As the official meeting notice explains, today's Richmond Town Meeting has various agenda items to cover: a school budget, a town budget, a school bond issue, and a town road repair item. Thank God the school budget and town road repair item are voted on during all-day voting via Australian ballot. I just wish the town budget was as well. It's not that I'm anti-democracy; it's that there's undeniably a weird urge in some people to break things that don't need fixing. You haven't lived until you've watched a Town Meeting attempt to reduce a budget for a program below a state-mandated amount, just because.

But again, I'm skipping all that; I've got be at work. I did make sure to hustle down to the school this morning almost as soon as they opened for the specific reason of casting a vote against a specific member of our town Selectboard who's running for re-election. Every town has its share of angry cranks -- we just happen to have one who's actually on the Selectboard and has basically managed to poison half the Selectboard meetings with angry wranglings with the town officers and other members of the Selectboard. I could say a lot more about this person -- and probably get sued for libel in the process -- but I'm not going to. Just suffice it to say that I'm keeping my fingers crossed that our local millstone is gone from our necks after today.

Funeral

May. 23rd, 2010 04:19 pm
jayfurr: (Default)
My wife's grandfather, retired FBI agent and attorney Bardwell Odum, passed away on Thursday in Dallas. He was just shy of his 92nd birthday (if I understand correctly) and had not been well for a few months, but nonetheless, the news took my wife fairly hard.

When her mom called us from Dayton, Ohio on Thursday evening at 11 pm, I stupidly made a joke about the big pile of cars burning in Dayton instead of thinking "her mom stays up late, but she doesn't normally call at 11 pm, hmm" ... I guess I was pretty tired. When I put my wife on and she got the bad news, I guess it's safe to say that neither one of us was surprised. Sad, yes. But surprised, no.

Sometimes it's just time. When Carole's grandmother Mildred Odum died a few years ago, there had been a sense that she'd been ready for some time. And when we heard that Carole's grandfather had been asking for his favorite foods to be brought to him, even though he didn't have much appetite and couldn't breathe well with a tumor pressing on his esophagus, well, Carole's interpretation was that he was saying his farewells and enjoying things one last time.

Carole feels fairly guilty about not having called him recently. We did talk to him a few weeks ago, one night when her mom was down visiting him in the hospital in Dallas, but he didn't have much energy and they didn't talk for long. Carole said she'd call him again some time and then simply didn't get around to it. She asked me to remind her to call, and I did on a few occasions, but I seemed to have a knack for choosing those occasions when Carole was least mentally with it and not really up for a cheery, we're-rooting-for-you phone call with her grandfather. And now it's too late.

We weren't sure if we'd be able to make the funeral -- we didn't know when it would be held at first, obviously, and then found that it would probably be on Thursday or Friday of this coming week. Without knowing the specifics, I went ahead and made travel arrangements, knowing how tight airline seats can be these days. I'm going to be at a customer in Springfield, Illinois this coming week, Monday through Wednesday (and in fact, I'm in the Chicago airport right now), and wasn't sure I'd be able to work things so I could make the funeral. This coming week is also Carole's last week at the temporary accounting position her accounting placement firm had her in; she was scheduled to work through Friday but they agreed to let Wednesday be her last day.

So: I got on the phone to United Airlines and got an extremely sympathetic, cooperative agent who worked things out. I'll spare you the messy details of rebooking and changing and bending, folding, spindling, and mutilating my open itinerary in order to get me to Dallas and then back to Vermont at the end of it all -- and just say that Carole will meet me at 7:30 AM in O'Hare on Thursday morning and then we'll fly together down to Dallas, same flight, adjoining seats. And we'll fly back home together on Sunday morning. I was, frankly, astonished that we were able to join up that way; I had expected that we'd probably wind up arriving on different flights, hours apart, and so on, and so on. And to top it all off, the courteous agent put me in for a "we apologize for the inconvenience" award from United which arrived a few minutes after the call -- 7,000 frequent flier miles. She didn't have to do that -- I mean, it wasn't her fault or United's fault that Carole's grandfather passed away or that my being away on a business trip required so much juggling and sorting of options -- but it was awful nice of her to do that. I didn't get her name (and I wish that I had), but if anyone from United at some point happens to read this and wants details of the call so they can look up who handled our record, I'd be happy to provide them so she can be recognized for going the extra distance for us.

I didn't know Carole's grandfather all that well -- but on several occasions when I used to travel to Dallas for work more frequently I'd go look her grandparents up and go out to dinner with them. Did that once since her grandmother passed away, a year and a half or so ago. He was a character -- a real Texas patriarch, as my wife sometimes refers to him. You can read all about him if you read stuff about the FBI's manhunt for Lee Harvey Oswald. He was quite involved. Pictures I've seen of him from that era show someone who was every inch the classic FBI agent: square-jawed and resolute.

I know his family will miss him very much. My own grandparents have been gone for decades, so in a sense, he filled that mental role for me as well. Like anyone, he wasn't perfect and he had his flaws... but in the end, I think he left the world a better place.

Funeral

May. 23rd, 2010 04:18 pm
jayfurr: (Default)
My wife's grandfather, retired FBI agent and attorney Bardwell Odum, passed away on Thursday in Dallas. He was just shy of his 92nd birthday (if I understand correctly) and had not been well for a few months, but nonetheless, the news took my wife fairly hard.

When her mom called us from Dayton, Ohio on Thursday evening at 11 pm, I stupidly made a joke about the big pile of cars burning in Dayton instead of thinking "her mom stays up late, but she doesn't normally call at 11 pm, hmm" ... I guess I was pretty tired. When I put my wife on and she got the bad news, I guess it's safe to say that neither one of us was surprised. Sad, yes. But surprised, no.

Sometimes it's just time. When Carole's grandmother Mildred Odum died a few years ago, there had been a sense that she'd been ready for some time. And when we heard that Carole's grandfather had been asking for his favorite foods to be brought to him, even though he didn't have much appetite and couldn't breathe well with a tumor pressing on his esophagus, well, Carole's interpretation was that he was saying his farewells and enjoying things one last time.

Carole feels fairly guilty about not having called him recently. We did talk to him a few weeks ago, one night when her mom was down visiting him in the hospital in Dallas, but he didn't have much energy and they didn't talk for long. Carole said she'd call him again some time and then simply didn't get around to it. She asked me to remind her to call, and I did on a few occasions, but I seemed to have a knack for choosing those occasions when Carole was least mentally with it and not really up for a cheery, we're-rooting-for-you phone call with her grandfather. And now it's too late.

We weren't sure if we'd be able to make the funeral -- we didn't know when it would be held at first, obviously, and then found that it would probably be on Thursday or Friday of this coming week. Without knowing the specifics, I went ahead and made travel arrangements, knowing how tight airline seats can be these days. I'm going to be at a customer in Springfield, Illinois this coming week, Monday through Wednesday (and in fact, I'm in the Chicago airport right now), and wasn't sure I'd be able to work things so I could make the funeral. This coming week is also Carole's last week at the temporary accounting position her accounting placement firm had her in; she was scheduled to work through Friday but they agreed to let Wednesday be her last day.

So: I got on the phone to United Airlines and got an extremely sympathetic, cooperative agent who worked things out. I'll spare you the messy details of rebooking and changing and bending, folding, spindling, and mutilating my open itinerary in order to get me to Dallas and then back to Vermont at the end of it all -- and just say that Carole will meet me at 7:30 AM in O'Hare on Thursday morning and then we'll fly together down to Dallas, same flight, adjoining seats. And we'll fly back home together on Sunday morning. I was, frankly, astonished that we were able to join up that way; I had expected that we'd probably wind up arriving on different flights, hours apart, and so on, and so on. And to top it all off, the courteous agent put me in for a "we apologize for the inconvenience" award from United which arrived a few minutes after the call -- 7,000 frequent flier miles. She didn't have to do that -- I mean, it wasn't her fault or United's fault that Carole's grandfather passed away or that my being away on a business trip required so much juggling and sorting of options -- but it was awful nice of her to do that. I didn't get her name (and I wish that I had), but if anyone from United at some point happens to read this and wants details of the call so they can look up who handled our record, I'd be happy to provide them so she can be recognized for going the extra distance for us.

I didn't know Carole's grandfather all that well -- but on several occasions when I used to travel to Dallas for work more frequently I'd go look her grandparents up and go out to dinner with them. Did that once since her grandmother passed away, a year and a half or so ago. He was a character -- a real Texas patriarch, as my wife sometimes refers to him. You can read all about him if you read stuff about the FBI's manhunt for Lee Harvey Oswald. He was quite involved. Pictures I've seen of him from that era show someone who was every inch the classic FBI agent: square-jawed and resolute.

I know his family will miss him very much. My own grandparents have been gone for decades, so in a sense, he filled that mental role for me as well. Like anyone, he wasn't perfect and he had his flaws... but in the end, I think he left the world a better place.

jayfurr: (Push To Erupt)
When I'm actually IN Vermont and sleeping at my house, which isn't often, I'm usually woken up around 5:30 or 6 by rampaging cats, all going "FEED ME NOW". This morning, however, they were beaten to the punch by an agonizing cramp in my right calf. One moment: nothing. Sound asleep. The next moment: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. Fortunately, I know how to recover from one: grab the toes and pull up until the pain stops. (You get trained on this when you get scuba certified because things like that can happen, a result of all the kicking, and you really don't want to be sixty feet deep in the ocean and disabled by pain and unable to work out of the cramp.) But that being said, it's very hard to avoid an instinctive loud "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH" when you're woken from a sound sleep by that sort of thing.

Good thing Carole and I sleep in separate beds. That wasn't always the case. Before we learned our lesson and went our separate ways to sleep, that sort of thing would really annoy her.

I had a leg cramp once, ten years or so ago, in the middle of the night. Visualize her situation: Dead dark night. Not a creature stirring. Then all of a sudden the guy in bed next to you is sitting up grabbing at his leg and shouting "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH". You blearily go "WHAT WHAT WHAT" and all he can do is scrabble at the sheets and keep on going "AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH". NOT conducive to a restful night, that's for sure.

(Carole, to exacerbate things, always wants to know what the problem is, and she wants me to state it calmly and clearly. When I've banged some body part hard enough to cause momentary disorienting pain, it's annoying as hell to have my spouse saying "Calm down! What's the problem? Do I need to get you to the hospital? Did you break something?" It's taken YEARS to get her to realize that the best thing to do is SHUT UP until the pain ebbs enough that I can focus and explain what's going on.)

So thank God this morning I wasn't in the same bed as her, and furthermore, that I knew how to recover from the cramp. I surely wouldn't want to have been in my skin if she'd had to stumble downstairs at 5:55 a.m. to find out why I was loudly doing an imitation of "MAN GETTING LEG CHEWED OFF BY A CAPYBARA".

Damn thing's still sore, too. Argh.

jayfurr: (Push To Erupt)
When I'm actually IN Vermont and sleeping at my house, which isn't often, I'm usually woken up around 5:30 or 6 by rampaging cats, all going "FEED ME NOW". This morning, however, they were beaten to the punch by an agonizing cramp in my right calf. One moment: nothing. Sound asleep. The next moment: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. Fortunately, I know how to recover from one: grab the toes and pull up until the pain stops. (You get trained on this when you get scuba certified because things like that can happen, a result of all the kicking, and you really don't want to be sixty feet deep in the ocean and disabled by pain and unable to work out of the cramp.) But that being said, it's very hard to avoid an instinctive loud "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH" when you're woken from a sound sleep by that sort of thing.

Good thing Carole and I sleep in separate beds. That wasn't always the case. Before we learned our lesson and went our separate ways to sleep, that sort of thing would really annoy her.

I had a leg cramp once, ten years or so ago, in the middle of the night. Visualize her situation: Dead dark night. Not a creature stirring. Then all of a sudden the guy in bed next to you is sitting up grabbing at his leg and shouting "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH". You blearily go "WHAT WHAT WHAT" and all he can do is scrabble at the sheets and keep on going "AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH". NOT conducive to a restful night, that's for sure.

(Carole, to exacerbate things, always wants to know what the problem is, and she wants me to state it calmly and clearly. When I've banged some body part hard enough to cause momentary disorienting pain, it's annoying as hell to have my spouse saying "Calm down! What's the problem? Do I need to get you to the hospital? Did you break something?" It's taken YEARS to get her to realize that the best thing to do is SHUT UP until the pain ebbs enough that I can focus and explain what's going on.)

So thank God this morning I wasn't in the same bed as her, and furthermore, that I knew how to recover from the cramp. I surely wouldn't want to have been in my skin if she'd had to stumble downstairs at 5:55 a.m. to find out why I was loudly doing an imitation of "MAN GETTING LEG CHEWED OFF BY A CAPYBARA".

Damn thing's still sore, too. Argh.

Status

Mar. 8th, 2010 11:13 am
jayfurr: (Glern)
Monday status: still sick, still fighting cold. Symptoms: drippy nose, dry hacking cough, low fever, achy and weak. Argh.

Didn't do much this weekend other than providing moral support while Carole loaded the new china cabinet she bought at, well, the equivalent of an estate sale. We've had all our wedding china in the basement for years and now it's in this big hulking piece of furniture in the dining room. Second-hand, and it has a ding or two, but a few cosmetic touch-ups will make a load of difference.

We did have a training walk at the local mall on Saturday but no one showed up besides us. There're only 20 or so 3-Day walkers in Vermont (going by the 'share list' on the 3-Day website) but there are few who live in our immediate area. Last year we had more local walkers including a little cluster of students from the local Catholic college, but this year it's very spread out. There may be more walkers we don't know about who elected to NOT list themselves on the training walk 'share list' -- for example, the woman two doors down from me at work, who's going through chemo, radiation therapy, and surgery AND walking the 3-Day in Boston on top of it all, didn't even know there was a 'share list' to be listed on; evidently she missed it during the registration process. We keep hoping people looking for training walks will see our March mall walks listed on the 3-Day website's schedule of events and walks, but if you're a first-time walker you might not know where to look. C'est la vie; at least we did get one walker from our neck of the woods to show up for the previous Saturday's walk at the mall. And as the better weather comes we'll post outdoor walks and if no one but us shows up, we'll do 'em on our own. You can only do so much.

Anyway, on Saturday I felt so puny that I dressed for the walk: 3-Day shirt, cap, good walking shoes, etc., and only made about one lap around the mall before I felt so dang rotten that I took a seat in the food court and waved to Carole as she went by. I hate it when I'm sick; I want to be out, active, walking, hiking, bicycling, you name it -- but if there's no gas in the tank, what can you do?

Status

Mar. 8th, 2010 11:12 am
jayfurr: (Glern)
Monday status: still sick, still fighting cold. Symptoms: drippy nose, dry hacking cough, low fever, achy and weak. Argh.

Didn't do much this weekend other than providing moral support while Carole loaded the new china cabinet she bought at, well, the equivalent of an estate sale. We've had all our wedding china in the basement for years and now it's in this big hulking piece of furniture in the dining room. Second-hand, and it has a ding or two, but a few cosmetic touch-ups will make a load of difference.

We did have a training walk at the local mall on Saturday but no one showed up besides us. There're only 20 or so 3-Day walkers in Vermont (going by the 'share list' on the 3-Day website) but there are few who live in our immediate area. Last year we had more local walkers including a little cluster of students from the local Catholic college, but this year it's very spread out. There may be more walkers we don't know about who elected to NOT list themselves on the training walk 'share list' -- for example, the woman two doors down from me at work, who's going through chemo, radiation therapy, and surgery AND walking the 3-Day in Boston on top of it all, didn't even know there was a 'share list' to be listed on; evidently she missed it during the registration process. We keep hoping people looking for training walks will see our March mall walks listed on the 3-Day website's schedule of events and walks, but if you're a first-time walker you might not know where to look. C'est la vie; at least we did get one walker from our neck of the woods to show up for the previous Saturday's walk at the mall. And as the better weather comes we'll post outdoor walks and if no one but us shows up, we'll do 'em on our own. You can only do so much.

Anyway, on Saturday I felt so puny that I dressed for the walk: 3-Day shirt, cap, good walking shoes, etc., and only made about one lap around the mall before I felt so dang rotten that I took a seat in the food court and waved to Carole as she went by. I hate it when I'm sick; I want to be out, active, walking, hiking, bicycling, you name it -- but if there's no gas in the tank, what can you do?

jayfurr: (Default)
Our neighbors' chickens boldly made the trek through the woods between our houses and up into our yard today. A wave of eight or ten of 'em, all heading up the hill like Pickett's Charge, was something we couldn't recall seeing before. We went down to see if our neighbors were home and found that they weren't, but also found that the chickens' coop had rather obviously been propped open, so we figured that the chickens must be free ranging and that they'd finally decided the time had come to pay a social call. We didn't want them getting lost, though, and since we didn't know any other way to herd chickens down our long driveway, along the road, and back to their coop (or back through the woods), I wound up just picking one up and marching. After a little bit of agitated wing-flapping, it went absolutely rigid, not twitching a bit, and the other chickens pivoted and followed along. Carole wound up grabbing one too and we soon had 'em all home.

jayfurr: (Default)
Our neighbors' chickens boldly made the trek through the woods between our houses and up into our yard today. A wave of eight or ten of 'em, all heading up the hill like Pickett's Charge, was something we couldn't recall seeing before. We went down to see if our neighbors were home and found that they weren't, but also found that the chickens' coop had rather obviously been propped open, so we figured that the chickens must be free ranging and that they'd finally decided the time had come to pay a social call. We didn't want them getting lost, though, and since we didn't know any other way to herd chickens down our long driveway, along the road, and back to their coop (or back through the woods), I wound up just picking one up and marching. After a little bit of agitated wing-flapping, it went absolutely rigid, not twitching a bit, and the other chickens pivoted and followed along. Carole wound up grabbing one too and we soon had 'em all home.

jayfurr: (Mount Olive Balloon)
I'm probably going to be out of town on Election Day and Carole's getting-errands-done skills aren't the best when she's on her own, so she told me to take her by the town clerk's office some morning on the way to work (some morning when I was actually in town, that is) so she could vote early and not have to sweat making it to the middle school to vote on Election Day proper.

I'm in town today so we left a few minutes early and were at the clerk's office at eight. Carole quickly filled out a ballot, stuffed it in the envelope, signed in the appropriate spots, and that was that. Hey-presto!




Apple Fest

Oct. 12th, 2008 08:43 am
jayfurr: (Applefest)
Carole and I spent two hours yesterday afternoon right after lunch re-staining our deck with weathersealing stain. I'd made it a much more complicated job last year by using a power sprayer whose reservoir required messy refilling every ten minutes, but this year it went much more quickly when we just used brushes. We may want to put more on today if some spots look a bit thin but we're not trying for a House Beautiful award; we just want the deck to last.

Since it was such a sunny, beautiful day we rewarded ourselves by driving up to South Hero, Vermont, out in the Champlain Islands, to visit the annual Apple Fest. It's modest by comparison with the legendary Vermont Maple Festival but that didn't matter -- there were lots of nice dogs to say hello to and the fall foliage was still resplendent.

We had apple pie with ice cream and then strolled around looking at things. In the end, we wound up buying some pineapple tomatillos at a farmer's stand and a gallon of cider and a peck of McIntosh apples from the local apple barons, Allenholm Farm.




And then we came home and I made a small batch of baked cider doughnuts. Yes, some of them look like particularly disturbing deep-sea echninoderms, but I didn't have two doughnut pans and wound up using a star muffin pan for the remaining batter. They tasted fine anyway.



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