Tuesday, November 06, 2018

On the road again

I was able to drive to work yesterday.  It was very uncomfortable when I tested out my ability to do a "panic stop", but it didn't seem like I was going to be dangerous out there on the road so I went ahead and drove to the office.  It's about a 30 minute drive with several long traffic lights and always one or two panic stops on the way because the drivers here are horrible.  I pulled it off, but 30 minutes is about the most I can do and I'm not good for much walking afterwards.  That pretty much rules out making a grocery store run any time soon. 

Truth be told, even if I had someone else do the driving, there's no way I'd be able to walk the distance it takes to get through one of our huge grocery stores.   I won't starve though.  Only a mile from my house is a small convenience store that also has a meat market and carries fresh produce.  Well, "fresh" might be a misnomer, but it's better than nothing and it's the only option out here in the food desert where I live.  They call it a food desert because the closest grocery store is 10 miles away and about a 45 minute drive.  There's also no public transportation access and the cab fare is about $30 one-way.  Although the convenience store is a bit more expensive on some items, the extra cost is still a lot cheaper than paying $60 to go to and from the big grocery store in a cab.

The convenience store is what's called a "Mexican Market" which means things are not exactly the same as what I might see in my regular grocery store.  I'm not really sure what those cuts of meat are (other than the ground beef) and I'm also not sure what to do with them.  The produce is not your normal selections; nopales (cactus), chayote squash and other odd things.  The cheese selection is also interesting and I have already gotten used to putting Oaxaca cheese on my pizza because they don't carry Mozzarella. 

Now I can cook regular Tex-Mex any day of the week, but if I want any variety I'm going to have to go beyond my usual tacos, tostadas and enchiladas.  I'm hoping the internet can give me some clue on what to do with the unfamiliar cuts of meat.  I already know several recipes for chayote squash since I've been eating that for years. but I've never done anything with nopales.  Who knows, I just might be having cactus for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A hard lesson

I'm a pretty independent person, not usually willing to let others help me out if I can do it myself.  My friends stepped in after Rob died and I was grief stricken enough to let that happen.  But apparently I didn't learn that lesson well enough so the universe saw fit to orchestrate another demonstration. 

This weekend I was out at Bastrop State Park with my friend Tracy for his birthday.  We were setting up a canopy that needed to be moved over a picnic table and I hopped up on the table to help move it along.  When I stepped off the bench of the table, my right foot landed wrong and it made the most interesting noise; sounded a bit like a Xylophone or a bunch of knuckles cracking.  I wasn't sure if it was a break or a sprain, but either way I couldn't put much weight on it.  No bones were poking out anywhere so I didn't see any point in going to the doctor right then; just threw some ice on it and went on with the party.  Other people joined us, we cooked dinner, I drank a lot of beer which dulled the pain, and had a wonderful time.

The next morning, my foot was no better and now this was a problem.  Not only did it mean that Tracy had to load up both cars all by himself, but I suspected that I might not be able to drive my car.  I gave it a try and was able to get the car up to the park office, but only just barely.  There was no way I could drive in traffic on a busy highway to get home. 

Tracy took me from the park to a minor emergency center in Bastrop where I was hoping they could fix me up enough to drive.  They took some X-rays, determined nothing was broken and it was only torn ligaments, but that I would not be able to drive for at least a few days, and most likely not for a week or two.  They gave me a shot for the pain and big boot to stabilize my foot.  I might not be able to drive, but with the boot I could hobble around without crutches for short distances and for that I was extremely grateful. Tracy took me home and found someone to drive my car back from Bastrop, a friend of his who had never met me and no reason to do that, but was more than willing to help out.  Not only did I have to rely on my friends, but also the kindness of strangers! 

Today I'm working from home.  I've got a co-worker who will give me a ride to work tomorrow.  What happens after that remains to be seen, but I suspect I'm going to have to lean on people for at least a few more days. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A party for Rob

Rob didn't want a memorial or a funeral.  Instead, he wanted me to throw a big party like the ones we used to do at our house back in the 90's.  I chose Saturday, October 20th as the date, hoping by that time I could actually celebrate his life instead of crying the whole time.  There were a lot of preparations to be made and out of town guests to accommodate so I was quite busy in the weeks leading up to the event.  I decided to hold it at my mom's house since it has a large backyard. Tracy did all of the work to get that house ready for the party, even using his vacation time to do it!  We rounded up an assortment of tables and chairs.  There weren't enough chairs so I went out and bought some more. There weren't enough beds for the overnight guests so I went out and bought some airbeds (and had to wait over an hour at WalMart just to get someone to unlock the cabinet that held them!)  It had been raining for two weeks and was expected to rain the day of the party as well so I went out and bought some popup canopies (it didn't rain.)  We hauled PA equipment over there to provide the Rob requested music, both recorded and live.  Guests flew in and were picked up at the airport.  Then on Saturday morning a crew of friends descended on the party house to start cooking the food and setting things up in the backyard.  They did a fantastic job and I'm so grateful because there was no way I could have pulled this off by myself.

The party was everything that a Rob party should be, from the people to the food to the music.  I only cried twice, first when Bill brought in a beautiful memorial display and second when Matt Amos played the song that Rob always sang at our friends' memorials, Ain't no Grave.  I had planned to get  drunk, but ended up spending so much time talking with people that I didn't even get a buzz that night.  On the other hand, some of Rob's friends did get extremely drunk and although that might sound like a bad thing, it was just perfect.  Because it's not a Rob party unless one or two of the guests have had way too much to drink and have to be carried off to a bed or couch to sleep it off until morning. 

It was a fitting tribute to my husband and I was surprised that it provided me with quite a bit of relief. I didn't feel any sort of closure or relief from the funerals for my mom and dad.  Those events just seemed to deepen my grief.  This did not and I don't know if it was because more time had passed between death and event or if it was because this was truly a celebration and not some dingy, dirge of a funeral.  Either way, my recommendation from now on to anyone who loses a spouse is to wait at least a month, and then throw one hell of party. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Fall weather

Weather forecast for the Austin area issued 410 PM CDT Mon Oct 15 2018:

  • Short term (tonight through Tuesday night)...
  • much cooler temperatures along with widespread rain and a few thunderstorms can be found across south central Texas this afternoon. Temperatures are currently in the upper 30s to upper 40s across the region, compared to 24 hours ago when temperatures were mainly in the 80s to lower 90s.
Yep, that's Texas weather for ya - almost a 50 degree drop in 24 hours.  

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Grief and life without a smartphone

It's almost been a month since Rob died and overall I've been doing okay.  I had some rough days where I'd spontaneously burst into tears at the oddest moments, but as far as I know that's pretty normal given the circumstances.  Last week I was at an IT conference and so busy with work that I didn't have time to think about anything except work and the bare minimum daily home requirements (feed the dogs, do laundry, pay bills, etc.) and that pretty much stopped the spontaneous tears, at least for now.  For the most part, I've done a whole lot of "one step in front of the other" which fortunately, is something I'm very experienced at doing although I've got to say, it's a bit harder than usual this time.

In the middle of all of this, my smartphone started acting up and pretty much died on me. I ended up spending almost a week with nothing more than a flip phone on a different phone number that could only make phones calls if the stars were aligned just right.  Well, it could also get texts, but they were pretty hard to read on that little tiny screen and I never did get the hang of successfully replying to them. It did allow me to call a cab to get to and from the IT conference, but that was about it.

Now that's a pretty minor problem, but when you are in the middle of dealing with the death of your spouse... not so minor.  No one had my new flip phone number and all of their phone numbers were all on my old dead phone that I couldn't access anymore.  Since I couldn't access it at all, I also couldn't forward my phone calls.  And all those applications that I need for work?  Nope, not on a flip phone.  All those things that require two factor authentication from my old phone number?  Nope. It was a huge hassle and not something I wanted to deal with on top of everything else. But deal with it I did and I do now finally have a brand new shiny smartphone.  Going forward the only thing I have to deal with is getting everyone my new phone number and tracking down and fixing all the two-factor authentication stuff. And I'll get there. Eventually. Although I haven't quite figured out how I'll notify people whose phone number I no longer have because my old phone is dead, but I guess I'll find someone who knows someone who knows someone.  And that actually worked quite well for notifying people of Rob's demise since he kept everyone's phone number in his head and I didn't have half of them, but I ended up hearing from quite a few because one person told another and they told another and.. well, it worked out for the most part.

Now jumping back to the whole phone number change, you might ask, why didn't I just keep my old phone number and save myself the additional hassle of switching to another number? Well, the carrier I used didn't have the model of smartphone that I wanted and while I could have settled for a less desirable phone, I also had promised myself that when then time came that I needed a new phone, then I would switch to my childhood phone number that I had transferred to that recalcitrant flip phone when my mom died.  I had memorized that phone number back when I was about two years old and as a result, it's unlikely that I will ever forget it.  Unlike my other cell phone number that I could barely remember even though I'd had it for about seven years. So the timing was less than ideal, but I went ahead and followed through with my plan to switch.  So what if there's a little bit more chaos when everything else has been turned upside down? Just a drop in the bucket, eh?

I'd also like to mention that my friends, family and employer have all been incredibly supportive during this time and a huge factor in why I've been able to keep myself together and functional during this last month. It would be easy for me to feel very alone right now given that I've lost both my parents and my spouse in just three years time, but everyone around me has let me know that I'm definitely not alone.  And Tracy, my best friend, who I've known for over 40 years, has helped with me stuff that I couldn't bring myself to ask for help with and just jumped in and did it anyway.  Dude, I so owe you and I hope I can return the favor someday.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

It's the start of a new chapter in my life

So very much has happened over the last five years, that I couldn't begin to discuss it all in one post.  Here's a short version.   Rob had an serious accident on his scooter in October 2013 and almost died from a severe head injury.  His recovery was far beyond what the doctors expected and he was able to come home after a couple of months in the hospital.  He had a slow and steady improvement, however, he never was able to get back to 100% and return to work.  The years of 2014 and part of 2015 were spent helping my mom who had been diagnosed with cancer.  She made it through the difficult treatment and was pronounced cancer free at the end of it.  Towards the end of 2015 my dad's kidney failure became progressively worse.  He managed to pull off one last Christmas with the family, but died in January 2016.  A few months later, my mom's cancer returned and she had major surgery and further chemo.  We made it through all of that, only to have her experience an allergic reaction to medication which resulted in an emergency tracheotomy.  She never really recovered from that and died in July of 2017.  The year of 2018 hasn't fared much better. My brother had a heart attack and almost died.  Fortunately, he had a successful bypass surgery and recovered completely so I had hopes that I was finally done with this sort of thing.  Until Rob started getting sick.  He wouldn't go to the doctor, no matter how much his friends and I pushed him to go.  And to my great sorrow, Rob died on Monday, September 17th. I thought it was difficult losing my parents, but losing my soulmate has been much, much harder.  

Although I am grieving, life does go on and I've decided to pick up this blog again.  Writing has always helped me through the tough times in my life and I'm not sure why I stopped posting here during these last five difficult years.  Maybe it's because I had so little free time or maybe it's because I just didn't want to write about all the turmoil.   Either way, that chapter of my life has closed now so I think I'll give it another go during this next one. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We celebrate 19 years of marriage today

Rob and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary today.  We didn't go out for dinner, but instead stayed home and cooked a very expensive rib-eye steak on the grill and drank some rather expensive locally brewed beer that I brought home in a growler.  I haven't found a restaurant yet that can grill a steak better than we can and drinking tasty beer at home means we don't have to worry about who is staying sober enough to drive back out to the boonies where we now live. 

There's not any "traditional" gift designation for 19 years, but even if there had been, well, we probably wouldn't have followed that anyway. Rob briefly considered combining the 15 and 20 year gifts by getting me a crystal china-man, but didn't have much luck finding such a thing, at least not in our price range.  $3500 for a lamp?  Not gonna happen.  Instead, he got me a little diorama of a day-of-the-dead skeleton bride and groom.  And we were apparently in tune on the day of the day theme since I bought him a day of the day cookie cutter as well as a skull shot glass and some Lil' Devil Cinnamon Toothpicks.  Not exactly traditional gifts, but very personal and I think that beats the hell out of diamonds and what-not other things that advertising says you ought to buy for your sweetie. 

The anniversary card that Rob gave me pretty much says it all.