Monthly Archives: September 2019

Finally got the stairwell done!

Here’s the tall side:


…and the pony wall:


We’ve sort of been putting this off. Putting these pictures and trail maps up meant some precarious time on precarious ladders; we old folks generally shun stuff with vertical exposure, since we break easily (unless we’re rock climbing, in which case we’re roped in).

We’re almost moved in, I reckon.

The rest of the pool table should arrive in a few days. Then we can get the Process Room finished – or, that is, at least as finished as a Process Room gets, since the very name indicates that it probably won’t ever be finished.

We still have some important pieces that have yet to find wall space. I’m quite concerned about some of them – the Chiefs, for instance, is currently leaning against the wall in the guest room; that won’t be allowed.

Smooth Johnson and the Lone Peak Tram both wound up on the short side of the pony wall:

I’m not completely sold on this positioning yet, but I’ll sit with it a while.

Of course, that’s the danger – I say “I’ll sit with it a while” but the problem is that the longer things stay where we put them initially, the more….inertia they get, until even if we’re not happy with it, we leave it the way it is. That’s probably a general life rule, not just a putting-pictures-on-the-wall rule.

Today I intend to go around to the back side of the fence, over on the bluff, and shore up the weak spots in the lawn underneath said fence with big chunks of rock; Abby and Juneau seem to think that a hole under the fence is an invitation, and I want to discourage such notions to whatever extent is possible.

I’m also going to take the big, soft-but-strong U-Haul packing blankets and tack them up on the wall of the garage, alongside where the firewood will be stacked (when the rest of it gets here). I’m hoping that will minimize the damage to the wall. All of this is temporary, but then – as noted above – might become permanent.

In twenty years, I’ll be eighty years old, and I won’t be able to change what I set into place now. So I’d better be careful.

So here’s the new (used) pool table:


The reason that it doesn’t look like a pool table is that we’ve ordered new felt – Burgandy was the closest that they had to Alabama Crimson – and it’ll be a few days before the felt gets here.

We found this pool table on Craigslist. I went to see it yesterday – and the owners live way out on Ashley Lake, so it was a haul. That’s when the trouble started.

I got home and emailed them; told them I’d send them the money via PayPal or I could bring a check. The seller and I got crossed up – he had to reset his PayPal account, and then he lost his phone…it got bad. And since he was using his one-time Craigslist email account, I had no other way to contact him – because his cell phone doesn’t work out where he lives.

But I got an email response saying this:

Here is the email address. I will be waiting for confirmation.
It showed as coming from the seller.
I sent the money.
This morning, I found out that he’d never gotten his PayPal set up; that’s when I freaked out. And then Ethel did some digging and found this woman’s phone number. Gee, too bad – she’d already spent the money. So sorry. No, she couldn’t give it back – she’d already spent it. She told Ethel that she thought her daddy had sent it.
Wow – okay, it’s a pretty good scam. She’s somewhere in California, so I can’t even call the police.
So after freaking out, I gave the seller a check, and then realized I’m just going to have to swallow the cost of the pool table. I’m choosing to see it as karma – I’m sure that Workday overpaid me way more than the cost of that pool table. (this is a terrifying thought; it leaves open the possibility that the universe might set up more scams, hacks and thievings to get back the rest of the money that I owe it. C’mon, universe – I TOLD my bosses that they were overpaying me, the whole time! Gimme a break!)
The fact is that I’m okay. The amount of money makes no difference. I can absorb the loss – and be thankful that I’m not out there stealing from folks. That’s the best part.
I had notions of calling the nice lady and telling her that she’s a liar and a thief – but I can’t figure out which Step that would be. I’ve checked through all 12 and there doesn’t seem to be anything covering that. So I’ll just live with the karmic explanation.
While I wait for the crimson felt 🙂

I reckon I’m just about moved in to the office.

Here, let me take you on a tour:



1) My first Big Book, framed by my second wife, and forever open to page 449. Yeah, I’m an old-school, Third Edition type 🙂 The glass on the shadow box is broken; I believe it’s been broken since the mid 1990s.

2) My mother’s kneeler. Mom and Dad converted to Catholicism right after I left the house. Since I was the only son who seemed to depend on that God stuff, they let me have it.

3) The “secretary”. This is a piece of furniture that was made by Ethel’s Great^Nth grandfather – I’m never sure which one, or when, and the story seems to change. This is ancient, heavy oak – it’s made out of casket crates. Yes, in the Midwest in the 1800s, they had so much hardwood – they were cutting down everything to clear land to plan corn – that they used heavy oaken planks to make boxes to ship heavy oaken caskets. It’s also got a pane of broken glass – not sure when it broke.

4) My Franklin Planner. I’ve been using a planner to do my morning 11th Step stuff since the mid 1990s. I am now at a crisis, a turning point – I only have the pages for the rest of September in the planner. The other pages – running out until 30 June of next year – are SOMEWHERE in some box or other; I don’t know what I’m going to do come October 1st.

5) My morning books – the Big Book says that, for the morning 11th Step, “there are many helpful books also”. Currently, my morning readings include:
* The Daily Word (from Unity)
* God Calling, by Two Listeners
* Around The Year with Emmet Fox
* Grist for the Mill, by Ram Dass

6) Morning chair – a hard, but comfortable, oaken chair made by Amish folk of Montana. I want my morning chair to support me, but not lend itself to napping 🙂

7) Army Wall – on the 4th of May, 1985, the Army moved me into a pup tent, intending to keep me there until they could court martial me out. I started going to meetings…..ten months later, I was the battalion SOQ (Soldier of the Quarter), the brigade SOQ – and the 2nd Armored Division SOQ, and then I was an NCO. This wall is covered in awards – and the purpose of the awards is to remind me that all I wanted to do was go to meetings, talk about God, and help other folks sober up, and my career went from an impending court martial to a box full of medals and a deuce-and-a-half full of prizes. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…”

8) Bachelor of Science diploma from the University of Alabama, Huntsville – Computer Science and Mathematics. Huh 🙂

8) (yes, there are two 8s. So I have a degree in math – doesn’t mean I can count) – my desk. Now, this is another desk of Indiana oak, and it looks to me to be exactly the same oak as the secretary – but Ethel says it isn’t. And it looks to me to be made the same way, but Ethel says that it’s a different ancestor…..a funny thing about this desk. It’s been in her family for way, way over 100 years, but I suspect that it’s been “my desk” for at least as long as its been anyone else’s 🙂

The other view:


9) Another BSCS diploma – but this one was cross-stitched by my mother in law. It stays on the wall, dude 🙂

10) My first trophy – the first evening that KimPuckett and I spent together, we went through the deli at a local supermarket. They were playing some music, and I grabbed her and started dancing with her. Later on, she found out that I’d never had a trophy of any kind – so she got me a trophy that said “My love, my life – thank you for taking me dancing in the deli”.

10) – Yes, there are two 10s. Don’t ask me why – this is a sing-along stuffed animal that Ward got me one year for Christmas. I don’t know why 🙂 …when you squeeze the belly, it chirps out one note and syllable of the song “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”.

11) A stuffed Nessie – I got it at Loch Ness

12) – Three stuffed baby goslings.

” Every planet has its own weird customs. About a year before we met, I spent six weeks on a moon where the principal form of recreation was juggling geese. My hand to God. Baby geese – goslings! They were juggled.  “

13) Single-cup K-cup maker. Has yet to be used. But it will be, as soon as I finish typing this.

14) Four of my instruments, that aren’t getting played much right now, because, yes, I’m still moving. When I look at this morning’s entries in the Franklin Planner, all of the non-daily stuff is moving stuff.

15) A deer butt. Lots of folks have deer heads on their wall. I took the minority view.

So that’s a quick tour of my office. I’m not spending as much time up here as I had thought – or hoped – that I would.

For some reason, I’m tired all the time – really, I don’t know why. My training volume is way down, even though intensity is the same; I should have more energy. I’m also sleeping a lot – we’re getting at least eight hours every night. I have no idea why I’m tired. But I am.

Now I’m gonna go get that first K-cup of coffee.


I think that I think that this whole new house/retirement thing ain’t working. At all.

To wit, here’s a picture that I just took of the Bama/Training room*:


Remarkably, that looks just like the room looked a week ago.

This sort of thing is happening all over the house; now that Ethel has gone back to work, nothing can happen that requires her input – and when Ethel goes back to work, she completely goes back to work. She seems to be getting more….okay, I’ll say it; obsessive about that job as time goes on.

So since she’s unavailable, nothing can go on the walls or on the shelves, because anything that does go on the walls or shelves will then have to come off the walls or shelves and then be put wherever she wants it when she finally realizes that something went on the walls or shelves without her approval.

I’ve gotten a lot done in the garage – heck, I’m actually parked in there. But that all stops now, as well.

Another problem with the Bama room – there’s no pool table in there. And guess what? There’s not going to be a pool table in there. Turns out that, some time after I ordered the pool table from Costco, they cancelled the order. No text, no email – nothing. They just cancelled it and never told me why. Huh. (We suspect it might be because there’s no Brunswick dealer nearer than Missoula. Okay, cool – but maybe they should have told me). I’m currently waiting on a chat session for somebody at Costco to explain it to me. (Why does my Costco ID have twelve digits? Do they really expect to have a trillion customers soon?)

The dogs – we’ve been training them to go do their business on a patch of pea gravel on the north side of the house. However, it’s not working smoothly. And, of COURSE it’s not working. We have Huskies – the most willful, contrary critters ever spawned by Satan. Just now, I took ’em outside for pee and poo; Abby stopped one foot short of the pea gravel, on the (expensive) sod, and emptied her bladder.

When I fussed at her, she jumped on the pea gravel and gave me The Look.

The stock keeps going down. Bills keep coming in, bigger than the original quotes.

And The. Floor. Is. Covered. With. Dog. Hair.

I would say “I don’t know what we were thinking” but let’s be honest – we said it over and over again. We knew that we were getting this rich, dark hickory, and we knew that the Husky hair would be ridiculously visible on it. But we did it anyway.

And it’s just as bad as we feared.

I’m wondering if we can sell this place at a profit and go to Mexico. But I’m not liable to suggest that; it’s going to have to occur to her, without my input or suggestion.

Speaking of selling – the townhome has now been on the market for ten days, and it hasn’t sold yet. Our last three homes sold inside of a week. I suppose I shouldn’t be freaked out about it; but in the middle of everything else going on, it just sort of seems like a whole bunch of things going wrong at once.

That must mean that there’s something the matter with my spiritual status. Unless, of course, it’s Ethel’s spiritual status that’s gone wonky; if that’s the case, there’s nothing I can do but live under the burden of shared karma.

And try to find a local pool table.



*our friend Grant calls this the Process room, and that actually makes sense – but sense there’s no current Process underway, I’ll stick with the awkward, ugly terminology.

“Gone are the days when the ox falls down,
You take up the yoke and plow the fields around.
Gone are the days when the ladies said ‘Please,
Gentle Jack Jones – won’t you come to me?'” — Grateful Dead, “Brown Eyed Women”

I’m not 34 today.

Here’s my log entry from about 26 years ago – I just scanned for a bit and then grabbed a random page. See the distances and paces? I’m not 34 anymore.


I got a big dose of self-pity today while at the pool. It hit me pretty hard. I’m not 34 anymore. I’m never going to be 34 again – not in this life. Not when I’ll remember being old; the next time I’m 34, I probably won’t appreciate it any more than I did last time.

The self-pity hit me pretty hard – I’m never going to be fit again. I’m never going to be the slim, attractive studmuffin that made Ethel goofy enough to move from Tampa Bay to North Alabama. I’m never again going to run half-mile repeats at sub-6 pace.

It hit hard enough that I almost stopped swimming; just almost gave up and got out of the pool and sat in the hot tub. Almost.

It took me a bit to remember that self-pity is just another form of selfishness – self-absorption. When I did, I hit it with Step 10 and was able to recover enough from that heavy load to finish the workout, albeit slower than I would have liked.

I’m going to have to live in this new world. Apparently I have to get used to this new reality over and over. I can accept an EVENT once. An event happens, and self does its objections, and then I get over it.

But a PROCESS? It seems I can’t accept a process – instead, I have to keep accepting each new reality in the process. Today I’m older and slower than I was the last time I accepted that I was, then, older and slower than I was the previous time that I accepted that I was, then, older and slower than I was…ad infinitum.

So, today, once again, I have to live with it. I’m not 34.



Morning prayer, church, run, meeting, getting the garage ready, snuggle time with my sweetie – and hammock time.


We’re pretty much moved in now; we’ve still got a lot to go up on the walls, and maybe two more loads of stuff to bring over for the garage, but we’re here.

You can see the fence there in the photo – they showed up yesterday to install the panels, surprisingly four days early. Now, there’s a yard, and a fence – but the yard isn’t really attached just yet. The dogs went crazy for a half hour yesterday (they’ve never actually had a yard they could run around in) but then we had to go around the yard re-attaching the sod; relaying it in all the places where puppy paws had pulled it loose. It’s gonna be a week or so before we can let them have the run of the yard.

The house is lovely. The yard is gorgeous as well. I have to admit, it’s pretty much everything that we had hoped – and that doesn’t happen often.

Now comes the job of living here. I had a friend once who said that it seemed to him that I was always getting ready to live, but never living. I understand what he meant by that – although it’s sort of strange to look my curriculum vitae and say that I don’t have a life. But our lives have been continuously uprooted and replanted, and now we’re doing that one more time.

I’ve noticed how busy I’ve been for the last two months, and how I haven’t had time to, say, just lay in my hammock like I did this afternoon – for a whole hour! I actually sent an email to my ex-boss and -grandboss to let them know that I’d be available to come back to work, if they wanted me.

Crickets 🙂

So I reckon I’ll get busy with the business of being less busy. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pull it off. It may required enforced disciplines such as “lay in the hammock for a whole hour every day”.

I’d better get at it.

That’s approximately how long it took. We brought Abby and Juneau home from the kennel yesterday at about 4:30 PM; by 11:30 AM, one of them had pooped on the new carpet.


I’m pretty sure that it was Abby, not Juneau, but I don’t have any evidence that would convince a jury. And Juneau acts guilty anyway – that’s sort of her standard operating procedure.

It didn’t take anything like 19 hours for them to coat the house in dog hair, or scratch up the new hardwood. That was pretty much instantaneous – it’s like they were preceded through the door by a quantum cloud of hair and scratches. I’d told Ethel that it was going to happen. Apparently, Ethel doesn’t care.*

The landscaping is in; the fence will be completed next Tuesday. The shower door and mirror were supposed to arrive today, but we haven’t heard anything from them. The master shower is actually large enough that we don’t really NEED a door; but it might be nice from the standpoint of keeping some warmth in there. Warmth can always be a concern in Montana.

The garage is at a standstill. I’ve almost given up hope on ever getting the *&^%$#@! truck in there. That might have been a total failure. For one thing, we used to keep the dogs crated in the house; now, there’s no easy or feasible place to keep the crates inside, so we have moved them into the garage. And that’s not just the square footage of the crates – that also means leaving sufficient area for the dogs to get in and out of said crates. We also need to keep the firewood in the garage; all of the places that one would keep the firewood outside are taken up by fancy landscaping.

Then there’s this little problem:


When we moved over here, I went from Spectrum cable/internet/phone to Spectrum internet and DirecTV. I went to DirecTV because I Spectrum made us bundle in a home telephone with our cable and internet, and Ethel didn’t like that. And DirecTV would allow us to put it on hold for six months out of the year; college football only lasts 4.5 months. So it seemed like a good idea.

However, DirecTV’s customer service – well, it belongs to AT&T. Mama always said “if you can’t say anything but prolonged loud profanity about something, don’t say anything at all.”

But this one issue has me sideways. I got DirecTV for one reason and one reason only – to watch collidge fuhdemabawl. And you have to have ESPN and ABC to watch collidge fudemabawl.

But as soon as I got my DirecTV installed, and turned on ESPN, I started getting scare messages in ESPN ads saying that DirecTV was going to stop carrying ESPN, and that I should call them up and fuss at ’em.

Well, I’m not going to do that.

But an ancillary issue popped up – when I tried to stream games using the ESPN app on my television, I was unable to do so – I got this error, above: 0033 – “This customer, who’s paying for ESPN on DirecTV, doesn’t have access to any ESPN channels in the app, because AT&T is being a flatulating butthead about it and won’t allow it”.(I’m paraphrasing)

Apparently this is entirely separate from the spat DirecTV and ESPN are having. This is some configuration issue with DirecTV not setting up my account correctly.

So I spent. Many. Many. Many. Hours. On. The. Phone. Trying. To. Get. AT&T. Support. To. Fix. It. I finally realized what each of the, ah, support people** seemed to be doing; none of them understood the issue, so they just wanted to get me out of their queue into somebody else’s queue, or hang up by accident.

Finally, ESPN said that they’d intervene on my behalf, and try to get DirecTV to do something. And today, I received a phone call from DirecTV – while I was at the grocery store, and totally unable to do anything about it. They….said that they’ll call me back tomorrow afternoon.

I have to admit; I don’t believe them.

I might just cancel DirecTV and go back to Charter Spectrum; Spectrum says that they’ll pay up to $500 to get me out of my DirecTV contract. It might be worth it.

Of course, it may not matter soon anyway; it’s gonna get hard to see the TV screen through all the dog hair.


*BTW – it’s our 32nd anniversary today. The new house sort of trumps any real celebration, Ethel’s job crises are causing her to be preoccupied, and the levels of fatigue and stress are sort of pushing any real expressions of sentiment aside. We knew it was going to be like this; there will (probably) be other anniversaries later to make a fuss over. It’s been acknowledged; that’s probably as far as it’s going to go today.

**I typed “support people” instead of “dunderheaded numbskulls” because “dunderheaded numbskulls” doesn’t sound very loving or tolerant – and that’s our code.