Aug 1 2012

Christmas 2011 Thank Yous

Ran into my friend Logan last summer. He apologized for not having replied to my email–from two years ago. He said he started a reply, but every time he went to send it he ended up revising it and  it is still in his Drafts folder.

It sounded funny at the time, but I now have a blog post that I started December 26 and have never posted, thanking everyone for the gifts that I asked for and/or received for Christmas. The problem was that I started the post in the hospital, then got out, and then got massively sick from what I assume to be a virus I picked up in the hospital.

So here it is. View this as an uncompleted time capsule from Dec 26, 2011:

This year I am endeavoring to do what I should have done every year: spend as much time thanking people for gifts as I did asking for them.

First, as noted on my Christmas list, I really wanted the first two books in Alan Gordon’s Fool’s Guild series of mysteries. Got em! Glad of it too–I spent all of Boxing Day (O Canada!) and part of the next day in the hospital with another bout of A-fib, and I was glad for a good book. So, I thank you, Tom. I’m sure the roommate I didn’t push out the window would thank you as well.

Its not like I just go around pushing hospital roommates out of windows, but I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, either. The guy talk–loudly. He had a hearing aid, but didn’t wear it, and spent the entire visit talking–to his visitors, on the phone, and then when he went to sleep, to himself. But sometimes he didn’t talk, like when he was watching TV. Without his hearing aid.

Anyway, thank you for keeping me entertained and from being a felon.

Speaking of the hospital, I got to wear my sharp new retro Star Wars sleep pants instead of looking like a mental patient, so thank you, The Baby. While we’re on the subject of Star Wars, my brother Nube gave me a sweet Boba Fett shirt. You would think as popular as he is, BF shirts would be easier to find. It was nice to wear it after I doffed my mental patient gown.

Speaking of Nube, he also got me something I have wanted for a while: a 3 pot Crock Pot. The reason was so that I could experiment with my various stews without ruining an entire batch (especially when making Irish Lamb Stew).

Is there anything better than a bag of coffee for Christmas? Yes, yes there is–two bags of coffee. A bag of The Dunks from The Robert, and a bag of Drowsy Poet White Christmas coffee from Jessica. So appropriate, because if you have ever seen a cup of Jess’s coffee, you would know how amazingly white it is.

The Baby also got me Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, which I read quickly, while I was having cabin fever, and it was great.

While I was reading all of these books and wearing all of these clothes, I was eating like a king, as a great number of people made us homemade desserts. The Herberts made us some buckeyes, which are peanut butter and chocolate confections, the Clarks made us cookies–specifically and including gingerbread (the best!), the Spencers made us hard candy, and the aforementioned Robert made us turtles and Russian tea cakes.

Now would be a good time to mention that between July and November I lost twenty pounds. When I went to the ER I found that I had made up for most of the loss.

Tom also also got me some seeds so I can grow some Merciless Peppers of Quetzalacatenango! I can’t eat ’em any more, but I can still dream…(cue sad music).

From Jake the Snake, Heather and I got matching Mickey and Minnie Mouse Mugs, all the easier for when Heather wants to slip me a mickey (ba dum ching!).

My brother Dahoo got me the Dreams of Flight CD I had so long coveted, and it was every bit as awesome as I remembered (even more so, because I don’t have to rewind it).

The Other Bruce got me a router table–now I can set my internet router on it. I don’t know why he thought an electronic appliance the size of a sandwich needed its own large table, but hey, it’s all good. Unless he meant for me to use it with my Porter Cable plunge router…in which case, that is pretty flipping’ awesome. Plus, it was wrapped very nicely, like a life-sized Tin Man.

Coda: For everyone I forgot, I am truly sorry. Like I said, I drafted this while in and recovering from the hospital, and, like you learned in Fellowship of the Ring“…some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.”



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Dec 13 2011

Worst. Vacation. Ever. pt. 2

Part 1 is here.

At St. Mary’s they put me on a different medicine, but my heart still wasn’t acting right, and they said they were going to have to put me under and hit me with the defibrillator to reset my heartbeat. CLEAR!

Since they had to put me under, that meant no food. It also meant no coffee. It was about lunch time now and I hadn’t had either all day. My vacation was ruined, I was starving, and I had a massive caffeine headache. I started to develop a bad attitude. On top of that the nurses came in periodically to stab me or rip some more of my arm hair or chest hair out.

Ba-bm, bum, …., BBBBM!

Later in the afternoon I had some visitors: The Bob and Bruce. Bruce had to be hospitalized for months due to a kidney tumor, a faulty heart valve, and a complication from surgery from which he literally almost died. Bob had had a heart transplant just four years before.

“Do you know how you know you have a lying heart?” The Bob asked seriously.

“Um, it’s in the Bible?” I couldn’t think of the verse. Jeremiah, maybe?

“No–it’s A-FIBBER!

Bruce and The Bob exploded with laughter. Not only was I spending my vacation in the hospital and being starved and coffee-deprived and depilated–but now I had to endure puns.

“You know,” The Bob said, “You really do have a lot to be thankful for; this could have been so much worse.”

“Yep,” I said flatly. I was trying to ignore the very audible rhythmic clockwork tick of Bruce’s mechanical heart valve.

“That sounds like mental assent instead of heart acceptance.”

“Yep,” I said again. I was in a bad mood and I didn’t want someone ruining it by counting my many blessings. And don’t get me started on Bruce. Sure, we had a lot of laughs when I visited him in the hospital, but this was entirely different.

A couple hours later the medicine finally worked its magic, and my heart started beating normally. I was finally allowed some food, but no coffee.

That night was the first–and only night so far–that I have spent in the hospital as a patient. I was awakened in the middle of the night by my roommate’s bladder, and the small circus that resulted as nurses and care assistants piled in to deal with the situation. Apparently the collective noun for nurses is a clown car.

An hour later I was awakened again so another nurse could stab me in the belly with a needle.

A couple hours later, more bladdericious fun.

The next day I had more tests–and finally–some flippin’ coffee.

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Dec 10 2011

Worst. Vacation. Ever. pt. 1

“I hope you have a horrible vacation.”

Those were the last words my boss said to me two years ago before I went on what is now known as The Worst. Vacation. Ever. I posted a tiny summary of this here right after it happened. He was kidding (I think).

Now, two years later, I am finally over the bitterness so that I can tell the full story.

I spent the first day of my vacation trying to unclog the sewer and taking one of the kids to the doctor–during which the sewer backed up more than ever. After wasting my entire morning in an attempt to keep from spending my vacation fun money on a plumber, I still ended up calling the plumber. After another hour and a half he pulled some fist-sized rocks out. They appear to have been dumped down the drain by a small and terrible child.

I thought my chances at camping and floating were shot, but Heather said we still had some money, so the next day I went shopping for supplies. Sunday night I packed the car and made arrangements to pick up my brother Nube. I went to bed feeling great.

I woke up at 5 in the morning not feeling great. My heart was beating like a middle school drummer. Ba-bum. Baaaa-bm. Ba-BUM! Bbbbbbm! Besides that, it felt like my second-hand cat, Her Fat Highness (Fatty for short) was sitting on my chest.

I gave it a few minutes and then woke up Heather. Then I called the nurse hotline, who told me to go to the ER. I gave it another few minutes. Ba-ba-bum! Bum!

Heather loaded me in the car and we headed to the hospital. On the way there I prayed, and was totally at peace with what God wanted for me, whether he healed me or whether I died (though I preferred the former to the latter). Only later would I realize that God was not limited by my two polar options.

At the hospital they checked me in quickly, there not being a lot of business at 5:30 Monday morning. They ran me through the usual battery of needles and very personal questions.

They diagnosed me within maybe a half an hour–I had atrial fibrillation, also known as A-fib. A-fib is when the bottom chambers of the heart are like, “steady as she goes, easy does it,” and the top chambers are like, “LETSDOSPEEDANDSTAYUPALLNIGHTRACINGCARSANDGOINGWHEEEEEEEE!” They tried the most common medication to correct it, but it didn’t help. They didn’t have a cardiologist on staff so they were going to to have to send me to another hospital, so where did I want to go? I told them to send me to St. Mary’s since it was the closest.

They called me an ambulance, which was nice because I hadn’t gotten to ride in an ambulance since my anxiety attack four years before. The doors opened and these two kids got out. They wheeled me out on the gurney, shirtless into the cool November Missouri air. I was cold to be sure, but it’s hard to be mad at a couple of people who are still trying to go through puberty.

At St. Mary’s they put me in a room with some old man who, I would sadly find out, had the world’s most active bladder.

“Did they drive you or did you drive them?” the nurse asked me when she saw the paramedics.

“They asked me to buy ’em beer,” I replied. I don’t know where I summoned the humor.


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Sep 5 2011

I sold my van to rock and roll

Several years ago our church purchased a new (to us) bus. We had finally outgrown our 15 passenger van, and due to the cost of insurance to even own the thing, let alone drive it, we decided to sell it. We parked it out in front of the church with a phone number and a dollar amount.

A couple of weeks passed. I was driving home from work and the pastor called me. It seems someone wanted to buy our van–sight unseen–for the full amount. All we had to do was drive it to the Ford dealership in Concordia, about 10 miles away. I called up Bruce, and we agreed to meet at the church, I’d drive the van, and he’d follow me to Concordia.

The trip there was uneventful. Concordia is a small, German town with quite a few places to eat for such a small population. I pulled into a space in front of the Ford dealership.

Walking down the street toward the dealership was an odd group of guys. Guys in skinny jeans, leather bracelets, mascara and hairspray. Then I realized they were walking toward the van. I used to hang with several bands, and none of them I knew wore their stage clothes when they weren’t on-stage.

It turns out they were members of two bands, who had been touring from the west coast in an old GMC Safari. Yes, a Safari is a minivan, and it would be uncomfortable for one band; I have no idea how they fit two bands in there. Anyway, the GMC had died and they needed a vehicle fast if they were going to continue their tour. We told them it had some problems (nothing major as far as we knew), and they told us that they needed a van, and needed one now. Bruce and I signed over the title and took a stack of hundred-dollar bills from them.

We couldn’t stop laughing on the drive home; we only wished we had thought to get a picture of our church van’s new owners.

A few months later I related this tale to The Bob, who used to attend our church.

“That’s funny,” he said, “We sold our old church bus to a rock and roll band, too.”

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May 1 2009

The Bible and Missouri summers

My friend Bruce used to teach the Primary class at church. One muggy July evening he had taken his class outside, and they were walking around the church.

About half way around, one of the boys had grown tired of the heat and offered this:

“The Bible says, ‘If a man sweats, let him go inside.'”

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Feb 3 2009

Ron Hamilton: tenor avenger

Not, not basses as in the fish, but basses as in those guys who sing parts lower than tenor and baritone.

I don’t know if you’ve ever sang bass, but bass is the low male part, kind of the tuba of voices. As you might expect, basses sing notes that are on the aptly-named bass clef.

Ron Hamilton is a Christian singer and composer, and I really like a number of his songs, particularly Wings as Eagles, Trust in the Lord, and God’s Perfect Lamb.

However, a few years ago my friend Bruce and I were singing bass on a piece of Mr. Hamilton’s music. It was pretty difficult because the notation for bass was way above the clef, almost as if it was designed for Frankie Valli.

My friend Bruce and I theorized that when Ron was at Bible college he must have gotten picked on by the basses, and wrote this piece out of revenge. This thought always gave us the giggles, which was good, because it helped take the edge off after Bruce and I took turns kicking each other in the groin so we  could hit our notes.

I think if the orchestrations were ever released, it would show that the bass is written for piccolo and the tenor is written for dog whistle.

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