30 June 2009

Where has the time gone?

This has been a rather interesting, mind-blowing, mind-expanding, long-strange-trip-it's-been month. Where did the time go?

Still doing cleaning and sorting at Mom's place. To paraphrase Churchill, it isn't the end, nor perhaps the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning. There's still so much junk. It's depressing to me. The time and money spent on crap could have been so much more profitably used. But we make progress every time up there. And now it's visible progress. But there isn't one or two of anything-it's always a lot of something.

Last time I was up, I found a truckload of planters, all of them full of dirt, most of them cracked from exposure to the elements. I took them and dumped out the dirt (enough dirt to build a berm, I think). I found a blue tarp with a bundle under it lying on the slab by the garage. It had been there a while by the looks and location. I kicked it a few times in case there may have been a snake deciding to make a home there and then unearthed-

-a Christmas tree, with lights, tinsel, and decorations, wrapped in brown trash bags duct taped together. Evidently my stepfather just decided to leave it instead of dragging the last two feet to the garage. The tree was obviously ruined and moldy.

All I could do was shake my head and mutter "I don't fucking believe this". I tossed the lot in the truck with the ruined planters and drove it back to my brother's place. He can run it over to the dump, and it'll only cost me a sixer of St. Pauli Girl. Such a deal.

Oy (and that's not the exuberant Australian 'Oi!', rather the resigned Yiddish 'Oy').

A dear friend wrote to me recently talking about driving a 4x4 Mazda ute. Queen of the road, she was. Well, I'll see your Mazda and raise you a Dodge 4x4 Magnum Hemi. Big as a tank, with comparable gas mileage. So there.

I'm taking this Friday evening off to see the River Bandits ball game and post game fireworks for the 4th of July. Nearly forgot America's Birthday is this weekend.

How about a bit of Chaikovskiy to celebrate the day? Nothing says 'freedom' like a piece written to celebrate the Russian Army beating up on the French. Whatever. I still like The 1812 Overture. If you listen closely, you can hear strains of the old Imperial Anthem, God Save The Tsar:

Боже, Царя храни!
Сильный, державный,
Царствуй на славу, Hа славу нам!
( 2× :)
Царствуй на страх врагам,
Царь православный.
Боже, Царя храни!
( 2× :)

Bozhe, Tsarya khrani!
Sil'nyj, derzhavnyj,
Tsarstvuj na slavu, Na slavu nam!
( 2× :)
Tsarstvuj na strakh vragam,
Tsar' pravoslavnyj.
Bozhe, Tsarya khrani!
( 2× :)

English translation (literal):
O God, protect the Tsar!
Strong and majestic,
Reign for glory, For our glory!
( 2× :)
Reign to foes' fear,
O Orthodox Tsar.
God, protect the Tsar!
( 2× :)

Or do the Armed Services Medley if you feel the need for more martial airs.

You are all authorized to hoist a brew and roast animal meat in honor of the day if you so choose. Cheers all.

yankeedog out.

24 June 2009

The pinnacle of human existence?

As I read over my last few posts, I realize the blog's gone all depressing. This has to have been the blog equivalent of listening to 'The End' by The Doors, or most of Roger Waters' whingings during his stint with Pink Floyd.

Humanity has come a ways since we came down out of the trees. We've spread across the entire planet, traveled underwater, achieved flight, conquered diseases, gone to the Moon, and sent probes to most of the other planets and out into deep space in hopes that Zaxxon the Magnificent and his Hordetroopers will find our fragile little beacons, track our location, and give us a beatdown.

We've come so far.

But as I found the picture below, I think we've hit our peak and are sliding back from whence we came.

Yes, he's wearing his underwear as a shirt. We came so close to success, too.

yankeedog out.

20 June 2009

#412423, your time is up...

This had to happen sooner or later. My mom's in the hospital after having fallen at her home the other night. She managed to pull herself to the phone to get the ambulance there, and for now she's ok. It was a combination of low blood sugar, bad circulation, and not being able to see.

Obviously, the current situation of her living independently can't continue. We don't have room at our place for another person, and if we did, I don't think we can provide the proper care. She lives about 100km away. I can't make that commute every day on reduced work hours to stay overnight-every night. As it is now, it seems like all I do when I'm up there is take care of her dog and the two cats. That's going to change. We either find the dog a new home or it's going on its last journey. The dog is 14 and has health problems. It might be time for her, at any rate. The cats are a pain, but cats require a lot less attention-change the litter box and set out dry food and water.

There are some home care services available, and we might explore that option for a few weeks, along with the ever-popular 'I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up' emergency call bracelet to ring up 911 if there's a problem. But she's admitted that overnights bother her now that my stepfather is not there to help.

The rest of the family is ready for her to go to a nursing home. I hate the thought of it, but I have to concur with them. There aren't enough of me to do everything that needs to be done for her to live by herself. My aunt ( her sister) helps with the animals, but she has a semi-invalid husband and a son that just got out of the hospital and is staying with them. She doesn't need one more thing to deal with.

Is this the right decision? With monotonous regularity these days, I find my answer to be "I don't fucking know". I rather feel like I'm sentencing someone to a slow death, but I can't guarantee anything better.

I hope for those of you out there with older relatives, they've helped you make helping them much easier. If not, you've a long row to hoe.

yankeedog out.

11 June 2009

Wastage and choices

So-we're getting a hold of Mom's after-death finances, and bluntly, they don't look all that pretty. There's some money coming in-policies, annuities, and the like. Certainly not a great amount but a lot more than some, I suppose.

I know she's going to need some sort of assisted care-the eyesight is failing, the heart is not in good shape, and diabetes is working its nasty ways on her. The heart has a pacemaker/defibrillator attached to it. Bloody thing will probably keep on ticking enough to leave her in some misery for the rest of her days.

Like so many other things, I don't know what the hell we're going to do right now. She wants to stay at home for a bit longer, and that would buy time to get things cleaned out and get the place sold-that will ease things a bit.

You'd think that living in one of the prosperous countries in the world, we could do a bit better for our elderly-some affordable, decent home care would be a start.

That said, we all make choices in our life-some good, some not so-and a lot of times we don't know whether the choice was good or bad until late in the game. My stepfather gave to every organization under the sun, some of which were a bit dubious. Mom was always one to buy jewelry-a lot of it from the shopping channels but a fair amount from the local jeweler-some of it good, some junk. Might have to mine that trove and see what's sellable. They were both big on going to the casinos. Now there's a pile of jewelry and a lot of casino play cards lying around(Hey, I said we weren't exactly the nobility).

Such a waste in a lot of ways. All that money pissed away. I do know there are some decent pieces in the jewelry stockpile, but I think ready cash would be good right now. A yard sale and/or auction will put cash in the coffers.

On the gripping hand (for the Niven/Pournelle fans out there), no one is guaranteed a certain amount of time here. A person could scrimp, save, and lead an austere life, and plan to whoop it up when they retire-only to drop dead at their desk a week before retirement. Also a waste.

So what to do? Again, like so many things of late, I don't have a good answer, but I know that I'd rather do than have. If finances allow, I'd rather take a trip (if only for a day) than go out and buy something I really don't need. Like so many other things in life, I guess it's all about balance.

Perhaps on a tangent (or not), this has made me think about life, and how we view it.

I always see people talk about 'the sanctity of human life'. We have this desire to keep people alive at all costs-understandable.

But I believe in 'quality of life' over 'quantity of life'. Answer this, kids-would the Earth be better off with 3 billion citizens, all with at least the minimum to survive and thrive, or are we better off with 7 billion fighting over the scraps?

I guess what I'm getting at is that, although we all think Dr. Kevorkian is a nut, perhaps his ideas on euthanasia aren't. If someone wants to put an end to the pain of a terminal disease or release themselves from a miserable and inexorable physical decline, who are we to tell them they can't have a peaceful and dignified end? I don't pretend to have all the answers to the moral and ethical dilemmas this would bring up, but I think there might be more than a few people that would choose the final option if given a choice.

We euthanize our pets when they get to a point where they can't function-and call it mercy. Wouldn't it be mercy to give a person the same option as well? We see the hollow shells of what were once vital people, and we can't see fit to do what we'd do to the family dog. The opportunity should exist, in some form, to allow people to go out 'on top of their game', if that's what he or she wants.

I suppose these last few posts have been heavy of late. C'est la vie. If you read it, you stand the chance of following ol' Yankeedog on 'some damn-fool idealistic crusade'. Or not. That sounds like too much work.

OK, then-as usual I'll part on a lighter note.

These guys are coming to the area for a local summer festival. Now, Geelong, Victoria, is a long way from Burlington, Iowa, but hey-like, ten bucks is ten bucks, right? A couple of vids from around the time I was learning to drive. Yes, we had these tunes cranking on the ol' Chevy Citation as we cruised town (unskillfully, I might add) doing Driver's Ed. I'd bet some of you remember these.

Yes you do! Don't lie to everyone!

Still like these tunes, even with the bad white-guy choreography.

yankeedog out.

07 June 2009

Things everywhere...

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:"

-Matthew 6:19, King James Bible

"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars."

-Matthew 6:19, The Message

"Y'all quit accumulating so much crap!"

-Matthew 6:19, The Gospel According To Yankeedog

Two weeks into the cleaning and removal process at Mom's place. You wouldn't believe the stuff we've tossed, recycled, and/or packed up. Or maybe you would if you've gone through cleaning after someone, especially an older person, dies.

My stepfather must have belonged to every organization there was, worthwhile or otherwise, or at least he had a card from each one of them. We tore up all of those-a lot of those outfits are going to be sadly disappointed next time they send a letter asking for funds.

We found pens. Quite possibly enough of them to provide each and every person in Illinois with one, although only three of them actually worked. We found keyrings and keychains enough to provide everyone in Rhode Island with a keyring, should they want one. There are enough books to start a library. Anyone want books? Let me know. Send a C-130 so we can load them up for you. Need a flashlight, everyone in Queensland? Send a self-addressed stamped envelope up and I'll see you receive your alloted torch.

I found an old slip for a fuel purchase from when he was working as a truck driver-from 1989! Also dug up some W-2 wage forms for 1974. Stuff regarding vehicles that were gotten rid of 30 years ago. A boat license from 1981. Old credit cards expired ten years ago. In amongst all the junk, we actually have discovered most of the papers we've needed. Mind you, I haven't gotten to the garage yet. Perhaps the Ark of the Covenant is there, sitting in a crate. I wouldn't be surprised.

I asked Mom if he had a change jar. Every old man has a big jar full of change-it's a law here. She said she didn't think so. I looked around in his bedroom and sure enough I found a big pickle jar of quarters, along with little bags with dollar coins from about 1970 on-some big Eisenhower silver dollars, which are worth, well, $1; a couple of Susan B. Anthonys, and some newer issue dollars. These coins aren't worth anything more than face value, so I don't know where he got the idea that he was going to live long enough for these to increase in value.

He did have an M-1 Carbine and about 300 rounds of .30 Carbine ammunition that I think I can find a good home for. Mom won't shoot it, and she's the executor of the estate, as it were. There's a couple of shotguns in the den, and I'm thinking my stepfather's brothers will each get one.

You're getting the idea of the magnitude of the sorting job, I think. I reckon this is fairly common when older folks pass on, but this boggles my tiny mind.

Mom isn't in great shape physically so it was hard for her to clean. Obviously, my stepfather was starting to slip a bit mentally. Not a good combination. Mom kind of estranged herself from me and my brother so I didn't quite know what was going on toward the last. Right now, I'm feeling a bit of 'If I'd done something a bit different', then maybe things would have at least gone a bit easier at the end. Bloody hell.

Kind of a two-parter tonight.

I think a lot of the reason my stepfather had the desire to keep everything and belong to everything goes back to his childhood. He grew up in the Great Depression, in a large family. His dad was, to be honest, a mean old bastard whose idea of a good education was taking the kids down to the hobo jungle along the railroad in town. He worked the kids like pack animals in their family garden. He beat up their mom on a regular basis and no doubt whacked on the kids after a day at the tavern.

Reckon that does something to a person in their formative years.

My mom went through a lot of the same things when she was growing up. She and her sister would get nervous and quiet when their father (my grandfather) would come home late after work, knowing that he was out drinking, which usually resulted in my grandmother getting a beating by the time the yelling and fighting was over. Grandfather was evidently not one of the happy or melancholy drunks and went straight to mean. Not much wonder, then, that Mom quit school early and married my dad. It got her out of that particular nightmare at least. Although I'm told Granddad went out on a spree for a week, but came back a bit shaken and sober. No one knows, but the family speculation is that he may have done something bad to someone-fatal bad, if you know what I mean-or someone bigger and meaner than he was beat the hell out of him, which personally would seem like just desserts. I don't know and all of this happened long before I was born. I don't suppose anyone will ever know since all of the players are long dead now.

The common thread in both of these stories is, of course, alcohol. We all laugh and joke about our long drinking bouts and the dumb stuff we do when drunk. I can't preach (and don't want to) because I like a beer or two every once in a while, and some rum always sits well around the holidays-but I think we forget that for some people it really is the demon rum. Some folks get really ugly when they're drunk, and they can create a lot of misery for a lot of people. Perhaps we forget that when we talk about drugs, one of the more damaging ones to society is the most legal and the most available.

Now, the people in these stories didn't have any counseling or rehab therapy-there wasn't much available in rural areas in the 1940s and 1950s, and I'm sure those two wouldn't have thought they needed any help anyway.

The good old days weren't always good, I suppose.

A bit of a ramble, and not a very pleasant one to read perhaps. Some of you told me to write whatever the hell I wanted. So there you go.

I've heard all of these accounts growing up and I feel I'd like to do better then my grandfather did to people and for myself. Have I done so? Hard to say. I've not gotten old enough to be a burden and a pain in the ass to those closest to me, although there may be one or two out in cyberspace who would say "Oh, YD, you've succeeded in being a pain much more spectacularly than you could have guessed". I'm generally happy-to-melancholy after (the exceedingly rare bout of) drinking and more inclined to go looking for a boxcar of cereal or an all-night drive-thru than look for trouble, which might be a good sign.

So it goes.

So this doesn't end on a downer, I direct you to this video clip purported to be from the 1950s, showing life in the year 2000. Astoundingly accurate!!

yankeedog out.

01 June 2009

Some odds and ends...

There are times I want to put this blogging thing to bed because I'm not always sure I've got a lot to add to the vast sum of human knowledge that's in cyberspace. I rarely have thoughts on, well, anything. From the reader's standpoint, how many times can you hear about the annual Cub march to futility or see construction pictures before the blog becomes a cure for insomnia? I tire of political debates, and at any rate there aren't as many as there were in the days of Mr. Bush and company. Actually I tire of online debates as I find everyday life to provide challenge enough for the average day. And there are times that I do somewhat miss the old journalspace blogs. They had some features I've not found on other blogsites. And I miss some of the dynamics that were there.

But it seems that events conspire, or inspire, or some other word that ends in -ire, to draw me back in. I reckon in a lot of ways this is therapy for me. And at any rate, we can't look back. No-we can look back. We just can't go back.

I suspect future posts will be fewer in frequency and at least for a while the topics will spray to all fields, from humorous to profound, or at least as profound as I get. I also will probably do entries that are simply links to videos. I think I'd like to do a few vids on the local sights.

As I looked at the blog on Sunday morning, though, I got tired of looking at the entries on the death and the visitation. So it's time to switch topics.

I present, for your viewing enjoyment (?), The Wildlife Hunter, and his companion, Roosevelt. If it goes well, maybe the Wildlife Hunter will make more appearances as opportunity presents itself.

yankeedog out.