Friday, December 17, 2021


 My wife and I did 23 & Me DNA tests, and I ended up connecting with a 2nd cousin, which got me talking about genealogy. In the process of that, I was googling and came across a branch of the family that I wasn’t aware of, a line of ancestry back through my great-great grandmother that’s been traced back way into the 1600s in Germany, which was kind of cool. I’ve known for years about the ancestors that carry my surname back into the the 1500s or 1600s. And there were a few other lines of the family tree that have been traced back a decent way. It was neat to see this other line going back into the early colonial days. 

But it got me thinking. Getting back to these ancestors who came to North America in the early 1700s-ish is about 10 generations. That’s relatively recent, and it’s history that we’ve been over and over as students, which also makes it seem like not that long ago. 

But doing the math, it occurred to me that I have something like 1000 ancestors alive 10 generations back. There were 1024 people alive at the same time whose genes would ultimately combined into me. Even though I only have a few of their names and basic information about them, their genes live on in me and have some influence on me. The way they patented their children shaped then into the people who would parent their children down through the generations to finally result in my parents raising me. Their temperaments, their ideas, have likewise come down in sims indirect, fragmentary, recombined way, just as their genes have. It’s kind of amazing to contemplate and impossible to totally wrap your mind around. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

TIL: Chinese words

Okay, I didn't learn the actual Chinese words and I'm way too lazy to look them up.  

I was talking to my daughters on the way home from school today, and they're all studying at least some Chinese. And my oldest was telling me the different words for siblings based on where they are in birth order. Just an interesting little linguistic / cultural note. It seems to imply a more rigid, hierarchical view of family life, doesn't it?

But they also have better words for the numbers 11, 12, and 13. Like, in English, we have these words that don't make any sense, while they basically say "ten-one, ten-two, ten-three," like we would for 20s, 30s, etc. We kind of do that with the rest of the teens, but even there it's backward from the way the rest of the numbers go. 

I know the metric system is a bridge too far for most of us, but how about a little tweak to our number naming system? 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Intense Concert Moment

I went to a really intimate concert Friday night, to hear a singer/songwriter I've been following for 15+ years. It was supposed to be me and my wife, but... broken ankle. I'd put out a call on Facebook for someone to go with me, and finally a friend who lives 2 hours away stepped up, even though he'd never heard of the performer. 

Being super fans, we'd bought special VIP tickets that got us in for a meet-and-greet plus mini-concert and Q&A. One of the songs that was requested during the VIP session was an older song, and during the Q&A he commented that the song he'd just played was one of the few of his earlier songs that he still performs, because he's in such a different place than he was 20+ years ago. Songs with lyrics like "you bring the cup and I'll bring the moonshine" just don't resonate for a mid-40s singer with 4 kids. He commented that early in his career, he wanted to be a rock star, to be in front of a big crowd, "HELLO CLEVELAND!!" And now what he wants is for his music to be something that someone in his audience needed to hear, music for the soul. It reminded me sharply of John Keats, the 19th-century poet who left training for a medical career to devote himself to poetry, a decision which he viewed as going from trying to heal the body to writing to heal the soul. 

So the concert was not a bunch of hits, not a bunch of feel-good music, it was mostly sad songs, about family dysfunction and struggle, but underlaid by threads of compassion and redemption and hope. And there were lighter moments too, mostly in the banter between songs. But the songs were pretty serious. And the audience was small, by design. There's basically one more row outside the frame, plus several more of the high-top tables with 2-4 seats around them:

Anyway, that's all preamble to probably the most intense minute or so I've ever experienced at a concert. 

He's up there singing this song about a dysfunctional family and he just stops and looks at these four guys sitting in the back corner "You guys are f***ing killing me here." And he spends the next 60-90 seconds calling them out for sitting there talking through the show and laughing while he's up there singing serious songs. It was dead silent as he just went off and finally he's like "I don't even know how to recover from this." But he picked up the song more or less where he left off and finished it.

And after the song, a security guy came over to the four guys, presumably to escort them out, and the singer is like "No, you don't need to do that" and he's basically apologizing for calling them out and tells his tour manager to send a round of beers over to them. I tell you what, it felt a lot like where I was in this post on road rage. First, he was absolutely right. These guys were talking through the whole show, and in a small venue with an audience who was mostly hanging on every note and word, they really stood out in a bad way. They weren't ruining the experience for me, but I was aware of them. And he responds with this righteous anger, but there's also something embarrassing about flipping out like that, even when you're basically right. Maybe that's even worse, because you want to apologize but you also know that you weren't wrong, that on some level it's the other party that should be apologizing, but there you are feeling like a dick and not at all comfortable with it. 

And at the same time, those dudes needed to be called out. First, for the sake of the rest of the audience who was on the same page with the singer. And in a sense these guys needed to be called out for their own sake, to be told that they were behaving badly, behaving disrespectfully. Considering that they didn't stick around through the next song to get those beers, I'm guessing they didn't learn that lesson, but then again 4 guys can definitely stick together as a group but still have entirely different feelings about what they've just done / experienced. And while being on the receiving end of an angry outburst like this may trigger defensiveness, saying nothing just allows obliviousness to continue. 

I don't know. There's no good answer. I've been a performer, and for instance as a high school teacher, your audience is not always the attentive or appreciative, and their behavior can sometimes be pretty lousy. And I know I've felt caught in that dilemma, do you pause to acknowledge and try to correct it or just do your best to go on with the show and ignore it? I think he was right to call them out, but I also understand if he himself was ultimately ambivalent about it. Either way, it was an intensely real moment, that's for sure. 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Random questions

 Stolen from Fauxlore:

1. Have you ever been caught outdoors away from shelter during a thunderstorm? 
Sure, several times. It's kind of exciting.
2. Did you ever build furniture forts as a child? 
Definitely. I loved grabbing all of the couch and chair cushions plus some sheets and quilts and building the best fort I could. 
3. Do you use any medicines daily? 
Nope, and I'll keep avoiding it as long as I can.
4. When was the last time you used a disposable camera? 
Technically every camera is disposable. Recently found one in our house that my wife took on a trip 15-ish years ago. 
5. When was the last time you flew on a plane? 
Late October we took a weekend trip to Orlando.
6. How many first cousins do you have? 
Um... 10 on my mom's side and... 8 (?) on my dad's? I've seen all of them on my mom's side at least every few years my whole life, but have only been very close with one branch of cousins on my dad's side.
7. What’s the longest period of time you’ve gone without sleep? 
I've pulled a few all-nighters so probably 30-40 hours? 
8. Did the house you grew up in have a big yard? 
Just about a full acre, but we didn't have close neighbors, and out in the country there was an element of mi woods e su woods, so there was plenty of space to ramble.
9. What has been the most difficult class you’ve ever taken? 
Probably an English class I took as an undergrad that was billed as a graduate-level seminar. Harder than any of the classes I had in (music) grad school.
10. What’s something that’s much more difficult than a lot of people realize? 
Uh, lots of things probably. Nothing's coming right to mind and I'm doing this list so I don't have to think too hard. Coming up with blog topics, I guess?
11. What are some things a house would need to have for you to purchase it? 
Walls, roof, multiple rooms... seriously, the quality of the kitchen is a big thing. Doesn't have to be state-of-the-art or whatever, but it needs enough space and everything. Now with three kids, three bathrooms feels like the bare minimum, plus enough rooms for each to have her own room.
12. Would you ever go out in public wearing pajamas? 
At least out to the sidewalk to walk the dog, sure. 
13. Have you ever had a lemonade stand? 
I tried it once as a kid, but living in the middle of nowhere, where people zipped past at 55 or faster, it didn't go so well. My kids have done lemonade stands several times though and made out pretty well.
14. Do you think you look older or younger than your real age? 
Beats me. Probably a little younger, just based on how beaten-down some of my former classmates look on Facebook. Pretty sure I don't look that old.
15. Where have you lived throughout your life? 
Grew up in north-central Ohio, 4 years of college in central Ohio, 2 years of grad school in northeastern Ohio, then 5 years outside of Pittsburgh, 2 years in Rhode Island, another year in western PA, 9 years in north-central Indiana, and now the past several years in Cleveland. Spent a couple summers living in Connecticut.
16. Do you want any piercings? 
17. What’s your mouse pad look like? 
It looks remarkably like the surface of my desk.
18. Have you ever been to a psychic/tarot reader? 
19. How do you identify spiritually (do you follow a religion, what do you think about soul/spirit, etc.)? 
Haven't been in a while, but I'm probably still on the rolls of the Unitarians. I'm a Humanist. And I might also call myself a secular Christian or a cultural Christian.
20. Do you prefer your nails long or short? 
21. What are your favorite smells? 
Baking bread, baking cookies, baking cakes... okay, pretty much anything baking.
22. Do you still use a radio or just use your phone/computer for music? 
Phone almost exclusively.
23. What kind of socks do you prefer to wear? 
Athletic socks.
24. Do you have any family heirlooms? 
I have plenty of junk that used to belong to someone else in the family, yes.
25. Are there any musicians you didn't like at first but grew on you? 
26. Is there anything you used to love but now dislike? 
I've mostly gone the other direction. With food, I was really picky but now I'm pretty adventurous. Oh, but I'm probably more of a food snob. Like, I used to like Taco Bell. Now, not so much. And that's true of most fast food. 
27. Your favorite place to be aside from your home? 
Any library or bookstore.
28. What is your favorite kind of tea?
29. Any old home remedies you use when you're sick? 
Mom's treatment for a sore throat was always warm Jell-o. I haven't been able to sell my wife or kids on it, but it's fantastic. 
30. What level of brightness do you usually keep your phone at? 
The lowest possible that still lets me see it. Save battery all the time. And at night, a brighter screen (such as my wife's when she's next to me in bed) drives me nuts.

Friday, December 10, 2021


 I was cleaning the attic a bit recently, going through some boxes, mostly things we moved and never unpacked, and I found a pile of CDs, mostly either recordings of live shows or “mixes.” I put that in words just because many of the discs I attached that label to, my wife disagreed with the designation. 

For me, a mix was essentially any CD (or, of course, tape) that was a collection of songs that someone other than the artist/studio put together. So, for instance, a “Queen Mix” might be a bunch of favorite Queen songs. 

For my wife, a mix shouldn’t have more than one or, in rare cases, two songs by a single artist. More the classic mix tape.

Now, of course, these physical CDs are just sort of useless. I listen almost exclusively on my phone, through headphones. I can still remember when having four-foot tall speakers with a subwoofer and maybe a couple surround sound speakers was the highest audio achievement. Along with a record player, dual tape deck, 6-CD changer, and radio, plus the TV. When I got exactly that, I was over the moon. Now you couldn’t pay me to take them off your hands. Who has the space for all that? 

It’s amazing the sound quality you can get from small speakers if you want to play music out loud, and of course headphones / earbuds have gotten better and better. I know there are purists who decry the loss of quality in digital music, but even as into music as I am… it’s fine. Absolutely fine. The convenience far outweighs the relatively small loss of quality, and the sound of headphones, especially the noise-cancelling ones, has gotten better and better.

But it's definitely different. There was something magical about putting on a favorite song or album on the big system and just letting the sound wash over you, not to mention sharing that experience with a friend, simultaneously experiencing it yourself and waiting for their reaction. It's just not quite the same to watch someone listening on headphones, much less listening through the phone's speaker.  

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Road Rage

 I remember when I liked driving, but either because I've gotten older or because I live in a metro area, those days are long gone. Easily the best part of the past ~2 years has been driving less. Every time I do go out in the car I find myself getting so frustrated and angry with people. The two things that piss me off the most:

1) The "Cleveland Red": It's literally unsafe to start driving through an intersection around here as soon as your light turns green, because someone is probably driving through their red light. My wife's hypothesis is that if they've seen a green light, then they feel like they're entitled to go through, like that was their green light and by god they're not stopping now. 

2) People pulling into the intersection when traffic is stopped, blocking the intersection. Because what happens (sometimes) is that their light turns red and someone else's light turns green, but they can't go anywhere. Even if they're not trying to turn onto the road where traffic is backed up, they can't even cross that road because some asshole was either too stupid or short-sighted or self-centered that they can't think ahead or give a shit about anyone else. (See, I get pretty heated just thinking about this stuff). 


Then there was yesterday evening.

I had to pick up prescriptions for my wife after her surgery, and before I even made the left turn into the CVS lot, I could tell it was a mess. There was a taxi van just sitting right in the entrance with its flashers on, and then there was a car trying to turn in, which meant cars were going around that car into the turn lane where I was sitting. Car behind me honks like I should be doing something. Finally that car gets in and then I turn in, and the lot is packed, but then there's a guy pulling out. So I put on my turn signal... and this SUV zips around me, blocks my way, and backs into the spot that I was clearly signalling I was going into. 

I flipped out. I was so angry. I was yelling and I flipped the driver the bird as I drove past to look for another spot. But I car hear the woman in the car yell "I'm sorry! You can have the spot!" 

But I'd already driven past and the lot was so cramped that I couldn't turn around, and more to the point I was furious and I'm like "F you, just take it." And then there's a car that's parked badly and taking up two spots and that fed my fury, but I did manage to grab literally the last parking spot in the whole lot. 

And I suddenly felt terrible. Just terrible. 

This woman kind of desperately apologizing in the face of my fury made me feel ashamed of my oversized reaction. I mean yes, I was right and she was wrong. And maybe if she'd responded with her own anger, honking and cursing me out, I would have felt perversely better about the whole thing, I don't know. But her offer to give up the spot reminded me that we all do dumb and selfish and crappy things, perhaps especially from the seat of our car. Maybe her mind was elsewhere and she was oblivious to my turn signal. Maybe she wasn't taught that same etiquette that I embrace. Maybe she had a sick child or partner or friend that she was in a hurry to get something for. 

On the other hand, I don't know, maybe she needed my expression of rage to realize that she'd done something wrong, to learn to do better in the future. But I do know that I don't particularly like who I am when I'm angry like that. I know that I would like to move through life with a bit more grace and compassion for my fellow travelers. 

Fortunately, if there's one thing I've learned living here, it's that there will be no shortage of people needing it when I'm out on the roads. Plenty of opportunities to practice. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

At the Hospital

It’s going to be a hospital day. My wife is back in surgery now for her ankle. Just a nice, easy 3 hours of unconsciousness while they insert screws into her ankle bones.  I haven’t slept well all week and I’m feeling tired and a little jittery. My joints ache a bit and I can’t sit still. 

Even so, this is pretty good as hospital visits go. I’ve never been admitted to a hospital, but I’ve spent my fair share of time there, starting in 6th grade when we discovered my father’s brain tumor. The next few years saw us intermittently very familiar with what was then Medical College of Ohio in Toledo. I mainly remember reading a lot to calm the anxiety I had. Good thing fantasy and sci-if have always come in the form of multi-book series. 

My clearest memory from those years sold the hospital isn’t even about anyone I knew, but I remember this guy who was in for lung cancer, and he would come out to the waiting room to bum cigarettes. The nurses told everyone not to give him smokes, so he started going through ash trays for butts to smoke. That wasn’t the only reason I never got into smoking, but it helped. 

My Mom did a lot of needle work, crocheting blankets and things. We must have been going to the hospital a lot before Christmas, because Mom got into making angel ornaments, like doilies out of thread and some kind of stiffening glue. She made so many that year that they decorated a whole tree with them in the hospital, a big one in the lobby. I’m sure she was plenty anxious too. 

I spent some time in that same hospital maybe 10 years ago when Mom had her heart attack. The thing I remember from that visit was how great the food in the cafeteria was. They had a ton of Middle Eastern food, and I tried everything in the week or so I was there with her. 

I’m in the cafeteria of a different hospital right now, both because I didn’t eat before we left home and because eating showering and gradually sipping down my coffee is a good excuse not to wear my mask. I’ve been spoiled by working from home, I guess, and didn’t develop the calluses on my ears that my wife and kids must have developed. Speaking of COVID-related measures, I got my booster yesterday. I guess that might also be the source of my aches.

I’m not particularly anxious. While it’s always possible that something could go wrong, this kind of surgery is so routine that I can’t even convince myself to worry. She’ll be home tonight and we’ll continue much as we have for the last week and a half. Anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks before she can start putting weight on that ankle, but once we get through surgery, the healing can begin. 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Of elves and shelves

 Almost a decade ago, my wife unknowingly committed us to spending all of December for the next 15 years trying to remember to move our very own Shelf Elf from place to place each night. We did pretty well when it was new and fun and—crucially—when we only had one child. 

But as we’ve gotten worse about moving the elf, we’ve gotten better at concocting stories to explain the elf’s failure to move. 

This morning when my 5-year-old woke me to come down and make her breakfast, it occurred to me that I had failed to move it and—as our 11-year-old collaborator was at a sleepover and my wife is less-than-mobile with her broken ankle, the elf had not been moved. And, in fact, it had only moved once in the last week. My wife's explanation to the kids has been--since she's in the room with the elf--that it's her fault the elf hasn't moved, because she's stayed up too late. And it seemed like we were going to have to keep up that pretense yet again.

But then a window of opportunity opened: she stopped to go to the bathroom there on the 3rd floor. So I rushed downstairs to move the elf, only to be stymied by our 9-year-old emerging from the 2nd floor bathroom and following me downstairs. 

However! As she proceeded me into the living room and sat down on the floor, entranced by a screen, I saw that the window had not, in fact, closed. I was next to the shelf with the elf (literally, she was on a bookshelf), one child was facing away and the other was still upstairs. So I surreptitiously moved to the bookcase and yanked the elf off one shelf and crammed her into to a different shelf. 

And then I went to the restroom myself, mission accomplished. 

Except for one thing… the 9yo had already been downstairs and seen that the elf had NOT moved. Then her sister comes down and says "Look! Minga moved last night!" and her sister's like "No she di...!!" My wife said that the look on her face was priceless, though she was almost as surprised as our daughter, since she hadn't seen me move it either.

I had to stay in the bathroom a bit longer to get my face composed, I was laughing so hard at the whole situation. 

So now, apparently, the elf can also move at times other than the dead of night, and the Elf on the Shelf lore continues to grow. 

Saturday, December 4, 2021

I don't always go to Starbucks, but when I do...

 I’m not a big Starbucks guy, but I’m also not not a Starbucks guy. And during the holiday season, I like to stop in and get… the same non-holiday drink that I get every time: grande flat white with heavy cream. It’s probably 1000 calories of pure fat lovingly wrapped around 1000 mg of caffeine, and I love it. 

That said, I don’t go out of my way for it. I'm happy to save $5 and make it myself. 

But... when I drop my kids off at school there is a Starbucks right there. Right. There. It’s almost cheaper and easier than not stopping at Starbucks. Especially since I can order through the app, barely ever wait, not talk to anyone, and theoretically earn rewards.

So on Monday, when I was tired and pressed for time after dropping them off, it just made sense  But for the first time, the store I usually order from was “not available for mobile ordering.” What??

It’s amazing how something that a few years ago was an amazing advance in food and drink logistics is now something I expect, to the point where I’m more than a little pissed off and baffled. How dare they expect me to come in and wait in line and order. So I just went home.

But then on Friday, after a full week of lousy sleep, I was again taking my kids to school, checked the app, and it let me order, no problem. I got an extra shot of espresso for good measure and was once again caffeinated and content.  

Friday, December 3, 2021

Scattered Thoughts

Just a few scattered thoughts on a Friday:


 Last night I took A., our fourth grader, to elementary school wrestling practice, which lasts an hour and a half and takes us 30+ minutes to get there from home, so I was hanging out in the athletic center, mostly just walking and listening to an audiobook. And considering how much I'm not moving lately, that alone was pretty good. Just walking, wow: it's easy to lose track of how much better it feels to be moving enough. But I also found a quiet spot and did just a little yoga-like stretching and man did that feel good. Magic. Why did I ever stop doing yoga regularly? I did some today during my lunch break too. Note to self: I'm getting old and stiff and it's not good. 


Speaking of old and stiff, our beloved upper is getting up there. Fifteen and her age is showing more and more. And because L is sleeping on the downstairs couch, we're even more aware of what she's up to. Apparently she sometimes pees on a dog bed or the floor (we knew that) and then licks it back up, which Dr. Google indicates might be a sign of Cushing's Disease. So we need need to manage a vet visit on top of everything else. But also L. wakes me up in the middle of the night to take care of the mess the dog has made and the mess that the dog is. Which, to be clear, is totally fine, she can't deal with it for obvious reasons, but I also haven't had a good night's sleep all week. 


Speaking of sleep, it's amazing how priorities change. Like, when I was in my 20s, even my 30s, I didn't value sleep that highly. In college it was a mark of pride that I spent one semester getting between 3 and 4 and a half hours of sleep each night (I can be that precise because I was operating under a theory that sleep should be in hour and a half increments) while doing way too many things, taking too many classes, and still getting A's. In my 20s, I thought nothing of staying out late partying or staying up watching a movie or whatever. Now I just want to sleep more, and between kids and pets I never get as much as I want. 


By the way, this is why we become fertile in our teens--so we can coordinate our who-needs-sleep years with our never-gonna-get-it years. I should be a grandparent or dead by now (44)--either way I could reasonably expect to get enough sleep. But no. 

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Deck the Halls

When I was a kid, I loved preparing for Christmas almost as much as Christmas itself. From avidly combing over the Sears and JC Penny catalogs to make sure my parents knew everything I wanted (which was just about everything) to digging out the Christmas albums we had on vinyl, I loved it all, but I especially loved decorating.

My mother was a retired elementary teacher, which is one reason why we had so many Christmas decorations: for years she had decorated both a home and a classroom. I suppose a lot of the decorations we had were a bit odd, in retrospect, precisely because they were originally intended for a classroom. Like, a hundred Christmas-themed things that were laminated that I hung on every pane of glass in the house. We had a giant door-sized Santa Clause thing that hung on the door behind our Christmas tree every year. 

And then there was the tree itself. For most of my childhood, we had an absolutely god-awful fake tree from (I assume) the '70s. It was green, but not any natural green. It made no pretense that it might have been a live tree of any species. Fake fake fake. And I loved it. It was soft. It was familiar. And what did I know? Nothing but that tree. I loved hanging the lights and the ornaments and had all sorts of ideas about how best to decorate the tree. Some years I tried new things--all white lights! one color of garlands and ornaments!--but most years it was pretty comfortably the same as every other year, a ritual of recreating that holiday ambiance and feeling. 

Our nativity scene was old, kind of perpetually dirty and shabby, and--I dimly felt--better represented the idea of being born in a barn than any crisp, clean manger scene could manage. Plus a nativity scene is kind of right in a kid's sweet spot, being basically a playset. Castle Greyskull with different characters. I remember taking great pride at one point of my childhood in being more theologically accurate and setting up the shepherds and their sheep at some distance from the manger itself until Christmas, when they could finally come ooh and ahh over the kid, while the wise men were off in another room, gradually moving closer, waiting for their turn on Epiphany. 

I'm less into decorating these days--seems like a lot of work. Fortunately my kids are taking on more of it. Our 11 year old (T) in particular was ready to start decorating for Christmas as soon as Halloween was over, and with L down for the count this year, T got to take the lead. Granted, this meant a lot of early enthusiasm that petered out before the decorating was completed. But she got the tree done, and my wife has a great view of it:

Of course, a great view actually means that she's spending all day looking at what a haphazard job the kids did spreading out the ornaments and wishing she could get up to fix them, but so it goes. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Thanksgiving recap

Did I intend to eat turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and every pie from pumpkin to pecan on Thanksgiving? I did. But did I eat any of those things? I did not. And that wasn't the only thing that was unintended about last Thursday.

Was watching Ohio State lose to its rival up north on Saturday a painful experience for my wife and me? Yes, but not even close to the most painful thing that happened to us over the Thanksgiving break.

Around noon on Thanksgiving, I paused from cooking for our family's 3:00 gathering, relaxing up on the third floor with some me time when the screaming started. 

Now, with three girls between the ages of 5 and 11, screaming is not an uncommon sound. But there are subtle differences in screams, and these were neither fighting screams nor playful screams, and certainly not excited screams. These were oh-shit-something-serious-is-wrong screams. 

I raced downstairs and out the back door to find my wife L writhing in pain on the rain-slicked stones, her right foot pointing in very much the wrong direction. Call 911, make her as comfortable as one can be with a broken ankle in the cold November rain, calm down the kids... it's a bit of a blur, but the paramedics arrived quickly. Neighbors arrived almost as quickly to check on us and offer any help they could, and my sister-in-law arrived soon after to take the girls while I went to meet L at the ER. 

Long story shorter, she had a dislocation and trimalleolar fracture, which is relatively rare. I always knew my wife was an uncommon woman, but I didn't think that meant everything about her. After being released from the ER Thursday night, we ended up back again because of pain the next day (the unfortunate answer to which was basically "yes, this is a painful injury), about 7 hours each day, but in the days since we've gotten surgery scheduled and L has gotten better able to transition from the couch that she's taken over to the wheel chair that we got from someone on her Buy-Nothing group on FB, and she's largely able to take care of herself. After a few days with their grandparents, the girls are back home and mostly trying to be helpful--while occasionally succeeding. 

It's a long road to recovery from here. After surgery it will be 6-8 weeks or 10-12 weeks until she can put any weight on it, depending on what they see during surgery. It will be several months until she can drive, and she'll have to miss the jury duty she was scheduled for next week. But we're fortunate to have family and friends who will help us, not to mention understanding employers, great doctors and reasonably good health insurance. 

In short, we still have a lot to be thankful for, even if Thanksgving was fairly terrible and far from what we intended. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

This is not the old man aches and pains blog...

 but I do feel like I need to follow up on that post from 2 or 3 weeks ago (I really meant that as a beginning at writing regularly--maybe next month).

But anyway, my knees. Soon after writing that, I saw a friend on Facebook mentioning his weight loss on a keto diet, and it got me thinking (keto, if you don't know, is extremely low carb). 

I don't have any weight loss goals, really, but I've dabbled in low-carb diets in the past, sometimes for an extended period of time. I haven't been strict on a low carb diet in years, but I like to think that it's affected my dietary choices, that I don't eat as many carbs as I might if I was just eating whatever. 

Of course, when you're not strict about these things, it's easy for bad habits to sneak up on you. Anyway, it occurred to me that I'd heard once upon a time that low-carb diets are anti-inflammatory, and since my knee pain likely involved some level of inflammation, maybe a low-carb diet would help. So while we were still on vacation I started cutting back and following a bit of candy on Halloween, I was strict for two weeks.

The result? My knee pain all but vanished. The left knee has been totally pain free. The right knee has been much, much better. Barely ever any pain. 

And then, last weekend, I was celebrating my in-laws' birthdays and watching the Ohio State football game and my father-in-law offered me a Great Lakes Christmas Ale, and I hated to say no, so I said yes. which was the beginning of a lot of yesses: chips, cupcakes, pecan pie, another beer... GIVE ME ALL THE CARBS.

And you know what? I woke up in the middle of the night with pain in my right knee, so I was right back on the low-carb wagon Sunday morning and have stayed there ever since. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

About your warranty…

 I’m 44, and apparently my body’s warranty just expired. It was a good run, but apparently it’s all downhill from here. 

I thought I was in pretty good shape. No major injuries, not a ton of wear and tear from high school athletics or anything. But all of a sudden, my knees are calling it quits. A year ago I was squatting or deadlifting or running pain free. Now if I twist my right right knee even a little getting in or out of the car, it’s agony. 

And I guess my left knee was feeling left out because after a few weeks of the right knee’s nonsense, this one has a twinge if I take a wrong step—not that there’s any way of knowing in advance what will be a wrong step. 

I kind of wish there had been some dramatic event so at least I could say “yeah, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have tried to sumo wrestle that cow.” Somehow “I probably shouldn’t have gotten out of bed that one time” is a lot less satisfactory.