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Elodie is about 25 months old. She's a fun toddler, fully of energy, running everywhere, relatively short attention span, a growing vocabulary, and frequent bouts of frustration at not being able to express herself fully or simply being told no, what she wants at that moment isn't possible/practical/feasible.

In short, a perfectly normal toddler.

I've spent a large portion of my life around babies & toddlers so I'm mentally tracking her progress and development. My ears perk up when she suddenly uses full sentences, or fully articulates 2-3 syllable words. She has solid recognition of colours, visually & verbally. She gets shapes and can name the simple ones. She can recognize & recite numbers and letters although she doesn't yet get that the digits symbolize a count of objects.

There are things which come with this toddler which are new to my experience. This kid comes with her favourite shows, movies, music and games. And watches them obsessively & repeatedly.

I swear to god, I am going to burn down Mickey Mouse's fucking clubhouse before this month is over.

And what's the deal with this so-called Doc McStuffins? She's supposed to be a cute kid with a gig a toy doctor, but she's more like a capricious demon, bringing toys to life on her whims to perform for her entertainment, and she then silences them with a gesture, cruelly snatching away the life she once granted. With musical dance numbers. This is childrens' entertainment?!

Elodie has this particular game on her tablet. For each round, a series of cut-out coloured shapes appear on the left half of the screen, and holes which match the shapes & colours appear on the right. The child then uses her finger to drag each shape to the correct hole, matching shape & colour. There is a small caterpillar which obsessively crawls towards the place on the board where she last touched the screen, sometimes obscuring a shape or hole. For every correctly placed piece, the caterpillar acquires a balloon, and when all pieces are in place, the caterpillar floats up to the top of the screen and fades away as the board is removed and a new one is presented.

I've explained to Elodie that the caterpillar is actually a zombie which is pursuing her to consume her brain. When she completes the board, the caterpillar is released from his curse and his ghost floats up to heaven, aided by the balloons she earned for him. Otherwise, he's doomed to traverse the mortal plane, terrorizing toddlers like her forever. I didn't tell her about killing it with a head shot, but she has enough to think about now. She still plays but she seems more serious about it...

So that's my home life right now. Between diaper changes, anyway.
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Our home life has become a little weird lately. Well, weirder.

[profile] cuyahogarvr's youngest daughter & her husband are expecting a baby boy, due Oct 5. Elodie, currently two years old, will be promoted to big sister, but I'm sure she's not going to enjoy having to share the spotlight with a younger brother. That's all good news and not that weird.

Maurita is experiencing something of a high-risk pregnancy, as she did with Elodie in 2015. And we're taking the same steps as before: she & Elodie have moved in with us so that she stay rested, have some help with Elodie, and so that she has constant company in case of any emergency. The husband, Lucas, is visiting & staying with us as long as he can, but they still have four dogs at their house which need attention & care, as well as his fulltime job.

We expect as well that the baby may arrive somewhat earlier than Oct 5: Elodie was a month early. In any case, Maurita will need some post-partum recovery time, and there will be a newborn and a toddler to care for, so they will be with us for probably a month following delivery.

So yeah, weird. We're once again up to our eyeballs in diapers, kids toys and other such family fun. For another three months, give or take.

So let's throw another layer of weird on top of that.

We had initially be working on a plan for Maurita & Lucas to buy the house next door to us. Our neighbourhood is much closer to Lucas' work so it would reduce his commute by an hour each way; we're near the Metro; our county's schools are much better than the ones in their county, on average; they would have a built-in daycare & babysitting service next door (ie. us).

Unfortunately, we haven't been able to come to terms with our neighbour. He wants to move to Florida, he's looking to sell, and he had a golden opportunity to sell without real estate commissions, but while he agreed to a particular selling price, he kept moving the goal posts in terms of the closing costs, post-sale access to the garage to remove his stuff at leisure, the closing date, etc.. After fairly intense negotiations through June, we collectively gave up on that plan. Tim has since admitted he was going a little far, and has approached us twice since to see if we would be willing to re-open negotiations but the kids have already found another larger place ten minutes' drive from here for the same base price. It's not as convenient a location as next door, but it's pretty good.

We don't have a closing date for their new house yet as we're still going through the motions of inspections and remediations, but there are no show-stoppers on the horizon and since the owner only used the house as a summer home a couple of months per year, there's no occupying family needing time to coordiante their exit. I expect a settlement date in early August. No renovations are needed, just some paint here & there to relieve the monotony of the existing beige interior.

The sale of their current house is taking more effort. We helped move much of their furnishings & possessions into a storage pod over the past few weekends, and it has been staged for sale. A buyer appeared at the first open house at the asking price, but there was a long (and rather unreasonable) list of contingencies the buyer wants. Yes, we expected some requests as fixing a stair bannister and unsticking a window, but asking the house be entirely rewired and the kitchen renovated is beyond reason. I presume it's just a bargaining tactic: they can drop 50% of their laundry list for a small decrease in the price of the house and appear to be reasonable, even when the list itself was utterly unreasonable.

The kids are taking care of some of the sensible items currently. Even if this current deal falls apart, they would still be needed for some future buyer. Since we helped pay off their existing mortgage, we have disconnected the purchase of their new home from the sale of the old, so they could walk away from this current buyer if needed, and perhaps rent out the house for a couple of years before eventually selling it. There are many options.

So that's my home life at the moment. Never a dull moment, although one would be very nice right now.
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I'm not planning to die any time soon, or at all. While I'm assured that my death is inevitable in perhaps 40-50 years' time, I'm personally against it. I am by nature a cautious person so it seemed prudent to ensure I'm prepared for my theoretical demise.

We already have wills in place to dispose of my earthly assets. And while I'd prefer to be buried body intact and in a nicely appointed coffin (dark wood finish, brass fixtures, free wifi), getting my hydrocarbons across an international border would require significant effort by my executor, not to mention a great deal of money. It would be vastly easier to cremate me and carry my ashes in one's carry-on bags.

While we were in the Charlton area, I stopped by the township hall to talk with the clerk, Gisele Belanger, to enquire how one goes about being placed in the Brentha Cemetary near my childhood farm.

My parents (also still alive) have a plot there, I-16. Gisele informed us that a plot may contain a coffin & three cremains, or a total of five cremains. My parents are planning to be cremated so as long as my parents stop by the office to officially RSVP me into their plot, my position is guaranteed. There is an administrative fee of $265 if it were to happen today, but otherwise all expenses are covered.

The cemetary contains a lot of childhood memories for me. Rather, it contains a lot of people I knew. I went to school with several occupants. Some I knew through church. Some we shared a telephone party line with, while others were merely neighbours we sometimes saw. There were parents or grandparents of my childhood friends. There was my bus driver for my first & second grade, as well as the fellow who was the janitor of my elementary school, buried with his late wife. There was the couple who owned sold us our farm, and their extended family. There was the local telephone switchboard operator until the systems went digital in the early 1970s. And so on. I could give a mini-biography on nearly 2/3 of the people at rest there. And I'm intrigued by the ones I didn't recognize: there are no more families named Goldstein, Schultz or Kiehna in the area, and I'm curious what brought them, and why happened to their descendants.

Like any good story, I'm left with a lot of answers, but a few extra questions too.
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This was Pride Weekend in DC, but for the first time in years, I skipped it entirely.

For starters, there was a lot of family visiting so they were the higher priority. The youngest grandkid, Elodie, was celebrating her first birthday with a small party at our place Saturday afternoon and we had our hands full hosting the bash, preparing the food & drinks, and generally amusing the very young children. I think the entire event was a success.

Sunday was the official day of the pride festival in the downtown but it was also hot & humid, and frankly, I don't get as much out of these events as I once did when I was a young gay. Maybe I'm an old fart sitting on the front porch, yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. Maybe the modern pride festival speaks to this current generation of young gays in a way which doesn't appeal to my own generation. Maybe I just don't need the public reinforcement happy times like I once did. In any case, I just felt no desire to attend.

And then I heard about the mass killings in Orlando: 50 deaths, 26+ injuries. That completely took the wind out of my sails: a party & festival just didn't feel appropriate. I tried to ignore it all so I didn't cause any commotion with the kids here, but it was hard to look at any news outlet as the body count mounted.

Saturday night, friends Josh & Skip in Manassas, VA, lost their apartment to fire. The fire burned out two apartments on the top floor (3rd floor), but the water damage destroyed the apartments below them, including theirs in the ground level. In all 7 units were destroyed but more than 20 families are displaced because the neighbouring units had to be evacuated as well. Good new: there were no injuries beyond minor smoke inhalation. Josh & Skip are safe, as are their dog & cat. Bad news: Josh is the property manager so not only does he have to deal with his household problems, but he has to help sort out this mess and help the displaced families as much as possible.

They are now staying with a friend of theirs nearby the property. Today, they're working on getting replacement medical prescriptions, eye glasses, minor personal items, and replacement documents & credit cards, not to mention contacting their renter's insurance agency for assistance. I'm planning to visit tomorrow to take them out clothes shopping to help rebuild their wardrobes so they can at least attempt to go back to work asap.

There is an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign to help them with the costs of replacing, well, everything. Insurance will cover a significant amount of the replacements but not all, and probably not swiftly. If you can spare a few dollars, here's the link: https://www.gofundme.com/292u5jf8
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There isn't much to say about today, travel-wise. We slept in a bit, then joined some of the clan at the Alma Country Diner for lunch.

I've noticed a pattern in Florida dining establishments: When they tell you the wait for a table is X, it is most likely to be 2X. I have never been seated immediately at any establishment, but that says much of our poor timing concerning peak dining hours here (see prior post). My general rule is that I'm willing to wait 15-20 minutes for table; beyond that, I would prefer a different establishment, grab a bite through some fast-food drive-through, or visit a grocery store.

In each instance this weekend, we were quoted a 30 minute wait. The quickest of these waits however was 58 minutes, the longest 74 minutes.

I'm unsure if the staff are blissfully unaware of their actual turnover of tables, or perhaps they lied knowing that customers wouldn't wait an hour. Or perhaps by some random chance we managed to hit a genuine timing mistaken/clerical error with every restaurant visit we made.

Aside from the late lunch, we went to a local manatee preserve to see some of the local wildlife. Alas, the viewing season for the manatees in this location is January-February so we saw nothing but the park itself and its waterfront. At the moment, the river is too warm for the beasts as they prefer temps of 65-70 degrees F, so the manatees are out among the gulf shallows. Still, nice park.

This evening at dusk, we distributed the rest of Kent's mother's ashes. We had previously scattered some in Frederick, MD, an area she loved but at a particularly beautiful site with a view to their home in the distance. Today, we scattered some at the RV park's memorial pavillion and at their RV site. No tears, just happy memories.

Dad will be coming back to Maryland in the first week of April and we will be aggressively preparing the house for sale. I'm sure he just wants the project over & done, although he's not going to be taken for a ride concerning the pricing of the house. There's priced-for-sale and then there's priced-by-a-moron, and he's not a moron. We'll help move some of the contents, distributing pieces to relatives, getting surplus items to charity and shipping the items which Ralph will keep. My personal goal is to ensure everything is ready for a sales close well before Labour Day to get the best possible timing for a good price.

As we returned to our motel room tonight, I noticed yet another cultural activity I had never seen before: some families in our motel had parked charcoal grills in the grassy strip in front of their motel rooms to cook. Interesting.

I have several theories about this but have no information or experience which would indicate which is correct. It could be that the family simply prefers home-cooked meals, perhaps for cultural, religious or dietary reasons. Alternatively, it could be a cost-saving measure as dining out as a family regularly while also paying for a motel may stretch one's resources. Or it could be that some are semi-permament motel residents, sheltered & subsidized here by the county authority, but since the rooms lack a kitchen, this is an improvised way of cooking at home as desired, again saving precious money. Or perhaps it's simply fun, a planned part of a vacation as much as visiting parks or events. Anyone have guidance for me on this?

Tomorrow, we meet up with the clan for breakfast after we check out of the motel. Our flight home is at 2pm and we should be home by mid-evening. And much laundry will await us.
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I'm currently in Punta Gorda, Florida, here with Michael & Kent for a memorial service for Kent's mother, Zoe Forrester, who passed away last August. Kent's parents and paternal grandparents have wintered here since 1980 and consider it their primary residence (at least for tax and insurance purposes) so it is very fitting that we distribute the last of Zoe's ashes here on what would have been her 80th birthday.

This is my second visit to Florida, the first being the GALA Choruses festival in 1996 in Tampa, just north of here. I didn't see much of Tampa except for the downtown core where the festival was being held, not to mention nothing outside the city. This trip is a bit different.

We always joke about how Florida is God's Waiting Room, a place packed to the rafters with the retired, near-dead and dead. Yup, it's much truer than I knew: In our drives about town, there is a medical clinic or a funeral home on every other block. And the clinics are all hyper-specialized: not just ophthamologists but specialists on cataracts, not just surgeons but specialists in coronary bypass and knee replacements, not just dermatologists but skin cancer treatments, and so on. And huge billboards for no-frills cremations, starting at $650! And I haven't seen a single elementary or secondary school yet.

The senior demographic skews local business in a way I hadn't anticipated: if your customer base doesn't keep/care about office hours, then the routine of the day takes on a new tilt. Meals skew to earlier times: peak dinner hour here seems to be 5-6pm, but DC's is more 7-8pm. We went out for Thai food last night naively thinking we were going to beat the heaviest of the dinner crowd at 6pm but found we were in the trailing edge of a mass of people. Our lunch with family yesterday was 1pm, barely beating a hoard of people arriving after 1:30pm. It's going to take some time to map out other peculiarities of local timing.

One thing very unexpected: cows. As we drove through the rural space between Fort Myers and Punta Gorda, among other places, we passed several open fields of cows. While Florida paid a lot of money to be successfully known as a producer of orange juice, I had no idea it was also a significant player in beef production. Huh.

The past 48 hours have been a bit of a blur, largely because I was fighting off a nasty cold and have been severely medicated to mediate the symptoms enough to let me (barely) function. Today, we're having brunch, picking up some supplies for the memorial service (the cake, some ice cream, flowers, etc.), then heading to the RV park where the family has gathered. I'm hoping for a bit of spare time to lift some weights at their gym and perhaps soak in the pool before the service starts at 4pm.

No one is sure exactly how long the service will run as, well, how to put this delicately... Forresters make god-awful project managers. Seriously. Not a one of them can focus on an agenda item for more than three seconds before willing drifting off onto some unrelated tangent. It's a constant chorus of "Oh, say, that reminds me..." Great for group therapy, lousy for getting things done. Bless their hearts.
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Every now and again, I see a posting on LJ, Facebook or some such thing about how we did stupid things when we were kids. Kid stuff like skate boarding without helmuts, biking along major highways, throwing lawn darts at each other, exploring obviously dangerous areas, operating heavy equpiment beyond our skill to manage. And we did it without parental supervision, without safety gear and without extraneous regulations.

The saying goes something like: "See all the stupid things we did back then? And we all turned out pretty well! Who needs this nanny state/safety crap?!"

But not all of us turned out pretty well. Some of us didn't live long enough to turn out well.

When I see these postings, my mind drifts back to the Brentwood Cemetary, a small civic cemetary near where I grew up. Some day I will be buried there. I knew most of the people buried there, and a significant number of them were kids when they died. We went to the same elementary school, we rode the same school buses.

When I see postings scoffing at the "obvious" absurdity of common sense safety precautions, I think of Jeffrey, Donnie, Terry, Gord, Brian, Matthew, Ron and several others. Most died before they were ten years of age, none to age 16. I won't bother you with a list of the ones I lost in high school.

I survived, partly because of dumb luck but largely because of safety-conscious parents. Regulations have become better, equipment is (sometimes) better designed, and fewer risks to children are accepted by society as a whole.

"We turned out pretty well!" is boastful claim made by the living in ignorance of the silent dead.
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Three months back, my schedule went straight to hell.

I knew it was going to happen: my work team was losing two people and my boss was taking extended leave to handle his father's funeral arrangements, leaving us with only a 50% staffing level. Spring is also the season of square dance fly-ins, another round of square dance teaching evenings and a tonne of other events. The calendar was a swirling mess of color listing all of the commitments and appointments until May 5.

Today, mercifully, is May 6, and it feels like the weight of the entire freaking planet has been lifted from my shoulders.

Yes, my team is short-staffed still but I'm interviewing a potential hire tomorrow afternoon. Further, a number of major projects and our annual audit have all been completed succesfully. Even our annual performance evaluations have finished and I was informed today I'm getting a 4.8% raise. Go team!

This past weekend was the last of the square dance fly-ins on my calendar before the upcoming IAGSDC convention in July. It was great fun as always, but I'm happy to have a chunk of my life back again.

The trailer is de-winterized. While that's a luxury issue for us, we had the de-winterizing tools and equipment: our co-trailer owners in Columbus, OH, couldn't use the trailer until we did our part to prepare it for use. The pressure is now off: Jerry & David can enjoy it at their convenience.

Even the family stuff is largely done. [profile] kent4str's parents are back from wintering in Floriday, [profile] cuyahogarvr's kids birthdays & visits have come & gone, and my clan have finally locked down dates for the parents' upcoming 50th wedding anniversary in 2014. Alas, that date is opposite the 2014 IAGSDC convention but I've already sold our registrations so that's off our books as well.

And extended break from all social media helped immensely. It's amazing how much time one can get back when one ignores Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter and such. I missed keeping current with various friends' travails, but I needed to focus elsewhere until the storm had passed.

Yeah, there are still appointments on the books but it's all a tiny fraction of what I had up until last night. Life is good.
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The past week has been more than a bit of a blur.

A week ago Thursday, I learned my cousin, Josh, passed away in his sleep from a cerebral hemorrhage at age 22. On Saturday, [profile] kent4str and I called for the Chesapeake Squares at the annual Baltimore Pride parade, then he drove me directly to National Airport so I could fly to Buffalo, collect my rental car and head to Toronto.

On the whole, the trip was fast and efficient. Unlike the Budget office at SJC, the BUF office actually gave me a compact car as I had booked. It was a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta and it was a delight to drive: comfortable, fuel efficient, great acceleration and roomy.

I spent nearly all of Sunday with my grandmother and my aunt Kathy (Josh's mother) in Drumbo and Princeton, Ontario, about 90 minutes west of Toronto. It's probably the longest time I've spent with my grandmother in years and we had a delightful Sunday drive through the area, visiting cemetaries where our various ancestors are buried.

While that sounds a little morbid, it really wasn't: death is a part of life and it was a pleasant experience to visit the graves of my paternal grandparents, along with various other Jarvises in the Paris Plains Cemetary. As I commented at the time, it was the largest gathering of Jarvises I've attended in years, and nearly the quietest.

We also visited the Wolverton cemetary where grandma's late husband is buried. I asked why he was there in 1981 rather than anywhere else: after all, there are no other Mordens buried in that space. She just stated matter-of-factly that my uncle Dave (her son-in-law) noted at the time there were only four plots left and if she wanted them, she should sign on immediately. It's just a business transaction. In exactly the same neutral tone, she pointed out where she will be buried, along with Josh and Josh's mother, just as plainly as saying the grass is green and the sky is blue. Huh.

For the record, I confirmed on Wednesday my parents are to be buried in the Brentha Cemetary near the family farm in northern Ontario. My will also makes it clear I'm to be buried there. Don't try flinging my ashes into space or anything silly like that: have a party instead.

Sunday evening, we had dinner with Kathy and her fiance, Clayton. Many of Josh's friends dropped by to say hello. Apparently, Josh was the nexus of an extensive social network and his home was the place where many in this small town could hang out when desired. His loss is having more of an impact that I knew previously.

I spent the morning of Monday bumming around Toronto, site-seeing, shopping and visiting my old haunts. I miss that city. I spent the afternoon & evening visiting with my Dad at the home of my sister "3 of 6" while Mom was out with Grandma and Kathy. Again, it's probably the longest stretch I've spent alone with Dad in decades.

After his recent ostomy operation due to Crohn's Disease, he's recuperating nicely. He still doesn't have the energy he used to for endurance, but he's clear, articulate and in good spirits.

Tuesday was largely spent on my own and hanging out with my Toronto hosts John & Chris, indulging in some quiet and contemplative time.

On Wednesday, I packed everything and headed to Mississauga to collect Dad and we both drove out to Drumbo to rendez-vous with Mom and Grandma, had an early dinner and then headed to Woodstock for the first viewing (The second viewing was on Thursday and the formal funeral & internment on Friday but I couldn't stay in Canada for those events).

There was a steady stream of Josh's friends and co-workers from 7-9pm. For the most part, I sat with Dad and we continued various conversations from the prior day, both of us rising when summoned by Mom, Grandma or Kathy as needed for introductions or errands.

I'm happy to report Mom was distinctly non-sociopathic. I'm not sure if Dad's improved health has relieved her stress so she isn't wigging out in ugly, nearly violent anti-social behavior, the likes of which nearly had her removed from Dad's hospital by security only a month ago. It could also be that she's simply on her best behavior because she's in public: she has a talent for camouflaging her periodic bat-shit crazy behavior when required to charm strangers or avoid being called on her excesses by those she can't control (ie. Grandma, Kathy and me). In any case, we were fine the entire time and parted on good terms.

When the event was over, I drove Mom, Grandma and Dad back to Grandma's apartment, said my good-byes and headed for Buffalo. I had originally planned to travel early Thursday morning from Toronto for my 8:45am Buffalo-to-DC flight but decided at nearly the last minute that fighting my way through unpredictable morning traffic around the entire Golden Horseshoe area of southern Ontario then get my way through the border crossing was too much stress for a morning trip. Going to Buffalo Wednesday night and taking a cheap hotel room near the airport would provide more rest time. That was the theory, anyway.

Sure enough, I made good driving time to Buffalo and needed a half-hour to get through the processing queue at the border. While my Econo Lodge gave me an enormous suite for my single night's stay, the AC couldn't keep up with the near-record heat in a room that big so I got only three hours of sleep while baking & sweating in bed.

On the good side in the morning, however, I checked out of the hotel, packed the car, drove to the airport, dropped off the rental, checked in at US Airways, got through security and walked to my gate within 30 minutes. Total win.

The flight was uninteresting except for the misbehaving toddlers and overly-indulgent pseudo-parents in row 12, directly in front of me. Horrid. I'm so glad it was only a 50 minute flight.

Once back in DC, I took the subway home, rested a little, did some work and then headed downtown to call a Mainstream & Plus club night for the DC Lambda Squares.

I regret I couldn't spend an additional night or two in Canada. There are so many friends I would have liked to have seen, but my only free time was during the workday and even then, there were periods when I needed to be alone. I wasn't close to Josh so I'm still more than a bit surprised how painful his loss has been.

Friday was all work, including a site visit to the data center to collect equipment from Shipping and reboot some recalcitrant appliances.

Today was our day of good deeds. [profile] kent4str's mother is still in the rehab facility, getting physio for her minor stroke nine weeks ago. She's going to be released back into the wild shortly so the three of us descended on her & Dad's house in Mt Airy, MD, to scrub the place top to bottom and re-arrange furniture in the master bedroom for her easier access. We also fixed a minor problem with the central air conditioning condenser drain hose and generally tackled whatever project Ralph required. We were well fed as a reward. I'm looking forward to Zoe's return home.
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This morning, we learned my cousin Josh died from a cerebral hemorrhage. By all appearances, he died quietly in his sleep, no obvious trauma or suffering. In the greater scheme of life, I suppose it would be nice if all of us could pass away so peacefully, but at only 22, his life had hardly even started. At such a young adult age, he was only just starting to learn of the possibilities of life and that potential is now gone.

Later this afternoon, we learned the viewings & visitation will be on Thursday & Friday of the upcoming week. I can't stay in the area that long: I must be back in DC for Thursday evening. Still, I'll have some time in the next few days to spend with Josh's mother (my aunt) and our mutual grandmother and make myself available where & if needed.
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I received word early this afternoon that my cousin Josh was found dead in his apartment in Kitchener this morning. At the moment, the cause of death is unknown. He was 22.

To say this is unexpected is an understatement. I saw Josh at our grandmother's 85th birthday bash in April and he was as energetic and healthy as any 22 year old should be. An autopsy is being performed.

Josh was an only child and his mother, Kat, was in Indiana when she heard. One can only presume that she returned to Ontario as quickly as possible but I've had no further word from the family. I'm sure she's devastated.

My thoughts keep returning to my grandmother. She's survived a husband, two daughters and heaven knows how many friends. Now she's lost a grandchild for the first time.

Although there's no word on funeral arrangements, I've booked plane tickets and a rental car for this Saturday evening through next Thursday morning. My precise itinerary will depend on family events and arrangements so I'm hesitant to plan more than that currently.

Improving

Apr. 30th, 2012 12:19 pm
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After last week's work-related ugliness, the weasels in California had a revelation: the problem which we were digging so deeply into turned out to be not in the systems we were told. Indeed, the problem seems to be a coding issue in the back-end core apps, completely unrelated to the web servers and translation proxies they had originally assessed as faulty.

So the many hours spent on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and all day Friday turned out to be a complete waste. Total.

You can imagine how happy I was at this news.

Since we didn't get to the trailer, we had an otherwise free weekend so I determined I should try to do what I was going to at the trailer anyway: cut myself off from the world and just read.

In all, I started & finished three books and got a good start on a fourth. We visited [profile] kent4str's mother in the rehab facility for her mild stroke --she's doing very well but still has some weakness on her right side. (She'll be released back into the wild in a couple of weeks.) And I wrote some good C2 choreography last night to be used later this week.

The reading helped improve my mood quite a bit. Paying some bills also lifted my spirits, even though the bank deposit from my latest pay period still doesn't reflect my raise or back pay yet.

My plan is to have a relatively relaxing Monday --as relaxing as Mondays can be-- and then join the gang for half-price burgers at Mr Henry's tonight. If I can, I'll try to generate a few more square dance sequences before the day is through but that'll be a bonus.
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Early morning flights are a pain in the butt but it's a necessary evil. *sigh*

We're heading to southern Ontario this morning to celebrate my grandmother's 85th birthday in Drumbo, ON. Our little jaunt this morning will take us from home to BWI Airport, then a quick hop to Buffalo, NY, where we'll rent a car to drive across the border into Canada and to Toronto where we're staying with friends.

Planned side trips this weekend will also include a visit to my financial advisor, a meal at Swiss Chalet, a visit to the St Lawrence Market and at least one meal with the clan aside from Grandma's event. We may yet squeeze some other stuff into the schedule but this trip is primarily about family until they drive me freaking nuts and we need to escape.

Pray for all involved.
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This is the time of year which manages to press all my angst buttons repeatedly. For the record, I'm not a fan of xmas.

My workload in December more than doubles because many office colleagues going to be pushing to finish projects before the end of the calendar year. Worse, I know everyone of them won't be in the office the last two weeks of the month having vanished for the holidays & traveling to warm places around the globe. (These will be the same people who are resentful when they return and find the long list if tasks they left stuck to the fridge on their way out aren't finished because many others were gone at the same time.)

All of this I could handle.

December and the end of the calendar year is a surprise to all of them every year. It's like they wake up out of a post-double latte coma with 334 days of the year gone and panic about getting it all done in the last 31. A little planning would help, but hey, that's just crazy talk.

This too I can handle. I'm paid to deal with this stuff so I bitch about it on social media ('cuz it's cheaper than therapy) and plow on through my to-do list. I'll pretend it's nice to feel wanted, suck it up and do it.

The part I can't get cheery about though is xmas itself. The annual paper cut of the soul used to begin in early December, then US Thanksgiving, then Halloween, then Canadian Thanksgiving and soon it will start on July 4. In another 10 years, xmas will be like the US election cycle: it begins the day after the prior one ends. And people will wonder why I'm bitter 24x7 instead of just waking hours.

Today has been the most exhausting day I've had in weeks. My heavy, soul-crushing burden? Shopping. Not even in a mall, just online shopping.

I hate shopping. I hate spending money. I hate guessing what people might like/want. I hate dedicating enormous amounts of my brain to remembering what I gave in prior years, examining, comparing & remembering candidate presents this year, panicking about getting things shipped in time, becoming disappointed vendors are out of stock and so on.

Don't bother suggesting I just bake cookies or send homemade crafts. Just don't. Most of my clan lives in Canada... have you tried getting cookies shipped across the border? There are 100,000 bureaucrats and trigger-happy homeland security people on both sides of the border who have made it their lives' work to stop this from happening with small-scale weapons and complaints to the World Trade Organization, the EPA, Environment Canada, Revenue Canada and a bunch of agencies you don't want to know about. Cookies = Guantanamo, and I'm too fair-skinned to deal with the tropical sun.

Despite the best efforts of the universe and my aversion to this seasonal wretchedness, I did manage to order presents online for five nieces; I should be able to get the nephew's present ordered tomorrow by phone during business hours.

Which just leaves the impossible present: something for the parents. Seriously, what do you get for the people who already have hoarding issues? Hell, getting them anything is like giving a crack pipe to an addict.

Maybe I'll send them cookies. Or just say I did and claim some gov't somewhere stopped them. It's not like I'm swearing to anything with my hand on the bible.

The part which truly has me soaking in a particularly unsoothing bubble-bath of despair is the sad realization that I ll have to do this all over again next year, possibly as soon as Labor Day. It'll never end. I mean, you can only fake your own death so many times before folks start to get a teensy bit suspicious.
bjarvis: (Family Guy - Brian)
My extended clan have given me notice that they're hoping for a family reunion ostensibly to celebrate my grandmother's 85th birthday in 2012.

It's not easy to convey the incredible sea change this represents. My family can't plan something as trivial as dinner more than an hour in advance: for them to be looking 18 months ahead is nothing short of extraordinary. I fear my dear grandmother may not survive to her 85th for having died of a heart attack under the strain of thinking more than a week ahead.

The bad part? They've chosen the exact same dates as the Vancouver IAGSDC convention.

*sigh*

I suppose I could try spending a couple of days at one event, then flying to the other. Of course, that involves travel between the two most expensive airports in the entire Dominion of Canada, and it likely would mean a less than ideal visit at both.
bjarvis: (Family Guy - Brian)
My extended clan have given me notice that they're hoping for a family reunion ostensibly to celebrate my grandmother's 85th birthday in 2012.

It's not easy to convey the incredible sea change this represents. My family can't plan something as trivial as dinner more than an hour in advance: for them to be looking 18 months ahead is nothing short of extraordinary. I fear my dear grandmother may not survive to her 85th for having died of a heart attack under the strain of thinking more than a week ahead.

The bad part? They've chosen the exact same dates as the Vancouver IAGSDC convention.

*sigh*

I suppose I could try spending a couple of days at one event, then flying to the other. Of course, that involves travel between the two most expensive airports in the entire Dominion of Canada, and it likely would mean a less than ideal visit at both.
bjarvis: (avatar)
This morning, the hubbies went shopping at the Westside Market while I attempted to sleep in a little. I had no success: my crackberry was going nuts with incoming emergency pages from the office. While there was little I could to do help the work situation, I also couldn't easily ignore the crackberry, or simply turn it off in case something I could tackle should arise.

With reluctance, I eventually roused myself from bed to at least tend to some code deployments to our disaster recovery site, catch up on some minor documentation on our wiki and test some network adjustments made by our network engineering team.

When the boys returned home, we scooted out to "Mi Pueblo" for lunch: great food, fast service and very low price! I'd go back again.

By mid-afternoon, I was still feeling like a slug --as were the boys-- so we opted for a brief nap. Yay for mid-afternoon naps!

By late afternoon, we were on our way to the party supplies store to pick up some items, then off to the hall where tomorrow's reception following the wedding will be held. We were originally going to be assisting with decorating; somehow, we were placed largely in charge of it. The same sort of thing happened yesterday at the wedding rehearsal: [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I were going to be there in support of [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr (father of the groom) but have since been escalated to being ushers for the wedding and escorts for the bride's mother & aunt for the candle-lighting portion of the wedding. Whee!

Before ultimately getting to the hall decorating though, we returned to the same ice cream shop we visited yesterday. I wanted to have a double-scoop of the wintermint ice cream with hot fudge sauce, but my dear ones staged an intervention and talked me down to a single scoop. Bastards.

- Mine is the large one in front.

The decorating went well so after chatting & coordinating in the parking lot of the hall, the larger portion of the family sped off to the local Red Robin's for a light dinner. I was seated next to step-grandson Kevin again so brace yourself for baby cuteness:


We're now back at Casa Vannello, mellowing for the balance of the evening. We need to be back at the wedding hall for 9am tomorrow to do a final setup prior to the 10am service. Pray for sunshine!
bjarvis: (avatar)
This morning, the hubbies went shopping at the Westside Market while I attempted to sleep in a little. I had no success: my crackberry was going nuts with incoming emergency pages from the office. While there was little I could to do help the work situation, I also couldn't easily ignore the crackberry, or simply turn it off in case something I could tackle should arise.

With reluctance, I eventually roused myself from bed to at least tend to some code deployments to our disaster recovery site, catch up on some minor documentation on our wiki and test some network adjustments made by our network engineering team.

When the boys returned home, we scooted out to "Mi Pueblo" for lunch: great food, fast service and very low price! I'd go back again.

By mid-afternoon, I was still feeling like a slug --as were the boys-- so we opted for a brief nap. Yay for mid-afternoon naps!

By late afternoon, we were on our way to the party supplies store to pick up some items, then off to the hall where tomorrow's reception following the wedding will be held. We were originally going to be assisting with decorating; somehow, we were placed largely in charge of it. The same sort of thing happened yesterday at the wedding rehearsal: [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I were going to be there in support of [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr (father of the groom) but have since been escalated to being ushers for the wedding and escorts for the bride's mother & aunt for the candle-lighting portion of the wedding. Whee!

Before ultimately getting to the hall decorating though, we returned to the same ice cream shop we visited yesterday. I wanted to have a double-scoop of the wintermint ice cream with hot fudge sauce, but my dear ones staged an intervention and talked me down to a single scoop. Bastards.

- Mine is the large one in front.

The decorating went well so after chatting & coordinating in the parking lot of the hall, the larger portion of the family sped off to the local Red Robin's for a light dinner. I was seated next to step-grandson Kevin again so brace yourself for baby cuteness:


We're now back at Casa Vannello, mellowing for the balance of the evening. We need to be back at the wedding hall for 9am tomorrow to do a final setup prior to the 10am service. Pray for sunshine!
bjarvis: (Olympus SP-500 UZ)
[livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr playing with his 9 month old grandson:

bjarvis: (Olympus SP-500 UZ)
[livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr playing with his 9 month old grandson:

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