Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 4 It's Finally a Snow Day

Our Great Pyrenees dogs would love it if winter lasted all year long. During the hottest part of summer, it is hard to get them outside. Now, thanks to our first good snow of the season, it is hard to get them to come back inside. Here's the excitement that occurred in my backyard today.
It all starts with Oslo giving Roxie the hairy eyeball from across the yard...then I say "Go get'em Roxie!".
Oslo has the speed advantage...Roxie has the weight advantage...they start by biting each others feet, then they move to biting the ears...
...once Roxie gets the upper hand...Oslo chooses the run away defense...
...then the fat girl chases the Fanook around the yard...
eventually she catches him and the foot & ear attacks begin all over again...
...with the occasional take down happening to one of them...
...then it ends with a time out to remove the snow packed in between the pads on the paws...
...and that is how to have fun on a snow day.

November 27 Sandhill Cranes

While walking the dogs at Sweet Woods we heard sandhill cranes flying overhead. It was the first time this fall that Christy or I had heard them. So we decided to drive down to Jasper Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area near Medaryville, Indiana. This area is a stopover on their migration south. The cranes socialize in the Goose Pasture pictured above. They roost in the marshes at Jasper Pulaski and spend the daylight hours feeding in the surrounding farm fields. We arrived in late afternoon and witnessed thousands of sandhill cranes returning to the Goose Pasture at sunset. The count posted online this week is over 14,000 cranes. We probably saw several thousand return during the 2 hours we spent here. The public is limited to the viewing stand at the Goose Pasture. It gives you a great view and the sound of all those sandhill cranes socializing is incredible to hear.
These cranes walked across the field toward to marshes to our north. This group came the closest to us on the ground.

The greater sandhill cranes which I believe migrate here have a wingspan of 6-7 feet. They are amazing to watch. When they land they drop their landing gear (legs) and float to the ground. This usually happens in large groups and they prefer to land in the middle of the flock not on the outskirts where there is more room.

Several flew right over us, of course it is very risky looking up with several hundred huge birds flying overhead but what can I say I'm a risk taker. Whatever I must endure to get a good photo.

As the sun set, huge flocks began to land in front of us...

...and the horizon was filled with black dots that got larger as they approached.

These outcasts landed in the field to the south of us away from the main group.

The temperatures dropped with the sun but the sandhill cranes just kept landing as we walked back to the car to warm up. If you live in this area you really should see this at least once in your life. An incredible way to spend a chilly fall afternoon.

November 26 Dick Jokes

I'm a guy, so I really do not keep track of anniversaries and which gift is associated with each year. For example, the 25th is silver. Yes, I googled it. Anyway I recently celebrated, actually celebrated isn't really the word to describe it, let's go with suffered through my 46th birthday. Now you are asking, does this blog have a point...I am getting to the point...apparently the 46th year is the dick joke year....who knew? Here are a few of the cards I received this year. This one was sent by my mother-in-law. She used to work in a flower shop so I am pretty sure she has the Anniversary Year list memorized so here's her contribution to my Dick Joke year.
on the inside it reads..."and if you had a 3-1/2" floppy you just hoped nobody found out!"
This one came from Chrissy's Aunt Marilyn.
it reads "Happy Birthday to a real master baiter."
and finally the one from my wife...
it reads "No hair, no teeth and I think I just wet myself." So just remember to get the dick joke cards for someone's 46th year.

November 19 Hockey Night in Homewood

I can finally get around on one crutch so thanks to Reg picking me up I can watch my hockey team play tonight. It should be no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that my team plays much better without me. This season there are only 4 teams in the "B" division. The league is well balanced and every game is a battle to be the victorious team. So here is my hockey night in Homewood in pictures.
It starts with a pregame stretch. Here's the goalie Mike Deegan getting ready.
Once the goalie is ready, the team takes turns pelting him with shots to prepare him for the game. Also referred to as the shoot around or warming up the goalie.
After the five minute warm up, the game begins.
We played SNS tonight, they scored an early goal on us and here is Ian centering for 2/3rd's of the living legend line, Walt Jadek. & Reg Dunlop.
Here's Walt, #73 doing what he does best, mixing it up in front of their net.
Here's newcomer Matt Landahl scoring on a breakaway.

OOOPS. Hey Ref! Not sure how that happened but I know it shouldn't be a penalty.
Here's the youngest player on the team, Tony Barracca rushing the puck into the offensive zone.
After the face off, it's a battle for the puck.
Four guys within 5 feet of the net, somebody isn't covering the point, don't want to name names but it is #19.
The goalie has to be ready for a shot at all times.
Crafty veteran Reg Dunlop schools another young opponent on a face off.
Even though it was a rough night for the guys in white, Northstar lost 8-3 if I remember correctly, the post game congrats and/or apologies for not playing better in front of him are given to the goalie.
Then the best tradition in all of sports, win or lose, a casual or bitterly fought game, there is always the post game  handshake.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

October 25 Vinyl Records

Today I did something I haven't done in over 20 years. I unwrapped a vinyl record, an LP...a long play 33-1/3 RPM record. One of my favorite bands, Marah, have released their latest record on CD, cassette or LP. That's right I bought "Life Is A Problem" on high quality 180 gram vinyl.

I can not remember the last LP I bought. I do remember I got my first CD player as a Christmas present from by brother, Jeff, in 1987. I'm not sure why I bought this record. I guess I wanted to support one of my favorite bands and I felt like checking out the LP. The pop as I dropped the needle onto the record definitely brought back memories of my younger days. The few seconds of quiet static before the first song began almost brought tears to my eyes. Even though it was a single LP, it was a gatefold album package.
As the record played, I sat there reading the lyrics, the band members names and which instruments they played and the credits. I spent most of my youth doing this exact thing. It was how I learned about the bands. This is how I became a fan of rock'n'roll music. Sure I felt like a kid again today...what's wrong with that?
As I read the lyrics, I sang along to the songs. I checked out the amusing artwork on the LP jacket. I loved holding that gate fold album, mostly because at my age it is much larger and therefore easier to read than CD booklets. When CD's first came out, I used to have Vinyl Sundays. I would only play my old records on Sunday. When I had to flip this record over after only five songs...I remembered why Vinyl Sundays came to an end. But today I was happy to get up and flip the record. And just in case you think I am some old lone wolf trying to relive some childhood memories, I 'll end today's blog with a true story. On the Saturday night before I injured my leg, Chrissy & I went to see the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones at Riot Fest. It was a four day, multiple venue punk rock show. That night at the Congress Theater just about every band merchandise table had vinyl records for sale. When we got on the subway, there were four different kids holding LP's from the show. I had to smile. Like The Who once said...the kids are alright.

Friday, November 19, 2010

October 16 The Shower And The Damage Done

One of the greatest moments of my life occurred last night. After 6 days without a shower, I was sitting in my shower on a plastic bench that Chrissy's Great Aunt Ann gave us. I reached forward and turned on the water. I will never forget how incredible that water felt as it cascaded down my grunge covered damaged body. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity before I washed up. It felt so good, I washed a second time. I was in heaven until the bench started collapsing under my fat ass. As I sank lower and lower into the tub, I struggled to reach through the shower curtain, grab my crutches and pull myself out of the tub without slipping on the now soaking wet floor. WARNING! WARNING WILL ROBINSON! GRAPHIC PICTURES! DO NOT CONTINUE TO SCROLL DOWN UNLESS YOU CAN STAND THE SIGHT OF MY NAKED LEG!!!! THE SURGERY SCARS ARE PRETTY COOL BUT MY NAKED LEG IS DISTURBING TO MOST PEOPLE ESPECIALLY MY WIFE.

Here is where the artery was repaired. The staples go from my calf, across the back of my knee and up my thigh.
This is the bigger of the two faciotomy incisions. This was performed to relieve the pressure caused by compartment syndrome in my leg. The lower stapled incision is where the vein was removed and used to repair the artery.
Here's my fucked up leg. There is still swelling even with the faciotomy. We have to pack the wounds with gauze and wrap my leg twice a day. So that is what happened to me. Now I wait for these open wounds to close up and begin rehab as soon as possible.

October 11 - 15 My Hospital Visit

So where do I begin? The last thing I remember is being in the emergency room and Chrissy is laughing hysterically. Let's backtrack a few hours, earlier that day Chrissy noticed that one of my ass cheeks had a lot less hair than the other. I figured it had to do with how my jeans rubbed across my ass as I got in and out of my work van. Now back to the emergency room, the surgeon came in and wrote on my left leg so there was no mistake in the operating room. This was a little unnerving especially since that leg was currently three times the size of my right leg. On his way out he told me that they would have to shave my leg. Chrissy burst out laughing. As they wheeled me to the OR, the last thing she said to me was "maybe they can shave the other side of your ass so both cheeks match."
The next thing I remember is waking up, disorientated and not sure where I was. A nurse asked me "On a scale of one to ten, how much pain are you in?" I believe my response was something along the lines of  "it fucking hurts!" She calmly asked again. As I began to remember where I was and what had happened to me, she began to ask ask again. I cut her off by saying, "my pain goes to fucking eleven!" Apparently she wasn't a big fan of  'Spinal Tap' because she asked Chrissy if I was always like this. When Chrissy said yes, I heard several nurses say "you poor girl".
I spent 3 days in the Cardio Vascular Intensive Care Unit because the hospital had no rooms available. The highlights of my time were....being told by every medical person that they could not believe I ruptured an artery the way I did....having visitors especially since it was damn near impossible to get into the CVICU, so thank you to those that made it in to see me...being surprised by my mom showing up on Tuesday night and not being surprised that she threatened me with physical violence by Wednesday morning after I said "so emergency surgery is what it takes to get you to visit me"....the real highlight was watching the catheter being removed from my, well you know from where, after I saw the size of that rubber tube I told the nurse that I was damn glad I was knocked out when they put that in.
So here I am in the ICU. I learned a lot about medical issues during my time here. Did you know that anesthesia and pain killing narcotics will cause severe constipation? I had no idea until I realized I hadn't taken a shit for 3 days. Of course, I was eating shit because I was in the Cardiac ICU and placed on a restricted diet. I never knew food could be so bland. I had Chrissy bring me White Castle to solve both of these problems. Even the sliders couldn't break through the constipation. My mom told the nurse that I should be given Milk Of Magnesia. The nurse looked horrified but said she would check with the doctor. My mom hounded the nurses all day to get me some milk of magnesia. As I was being transferred to my own room, Chrissy & my mom left for dinner and the nurse gave me the milk of magnesia. I get settled in my own room on the Cardiac floor and I am introduced to the nurses and aides. The nurses aide assigned to me is Lashonda, a 110 pound black woman who is extremely pregnant. As she leaves she tells me to press the call button if I need anything. Because I am a fall risk, I have to call anytime I want to move. Five minutes later the milk of magnesia is beginning to take effect. I figure I can hold it off for awhile...thirty seconds later...I'm pressing the call button. As Lashonda helps me to the bathroom, I have two thoughts...if I fall I will crush this pregnant woman and then I will shit all over her. I make it to the bathroom and spend a good 10 minutes making sure I'm done before pressing the call button. I settle back in my chair as I thank Lashonda. Five minutes later I am in severe pain in my bowels and pressing the call button. This occurs repeatedly throughout the evening. I tell the nurse to get another bed ready because I'm going to kill my mother. Chrissy comes in without my mother who decided to stay at the house. I am surprised she didn't show so she could enjoy in person the pain and discomfort she caused me. Over the course of three hours, I swear I shit over a dozen times. By the end I had stuff coming out of me that I had eaten ten years ago. I must have lost 5 pounds during my shitting frenzy. I should have known my mom didn't fly out over her concern for me, it was to torture me.
After five days in the hospital I managed to survive the surgery, the food, the Milk of Magnesia and my mom. I was released. I do not think I ever went five days without going outside. It was a glorious feeling to be wheeled outside. The crisp fall air, the sunshine, the slight breeze, the blue sky. It was amazing how great it felt to be outdoors...I was lost in the moment when Chrissy drove up, opened the car door and said "get in gimp." I laughed with her and karma laughed at me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

October 10 Kissing The Frog or How To Fuck Up A Perfect Day or The What, Why & How

It started out as a perfect day. 80 degrees and sunny in mid October in Chicago. Unbelievable. Who knows if we'll have a day this nice again until May 2011. So I decide to go bike riding at Sweet Woods. That's me. Always thinking about me, me , me. I haven't been riding in a few weeks. Damn, I have a flat tire. (This is a literary technique called foreshadowing or something like that). I change the inner tube in the front tire and off I go. It hasn't rained much lately and the main trail is very dry and even sandy in some places. I stop twice to check my rear tire which feels like it is slipping somewhat. I find no problems and figure it is just the extremely dry trail with loose dirt.(more foreshadowing) It feels great riding through the woods. Then I find a frog in the middle of the trail. I stop and put him in the grass off the trail. I continue on not realizing how quickly my perfect day was about to take a very serious turn.
THE WHAT.....I was cruising along at a pretty good clip for my limited skill level. I went down a ravine, crossed the pile of sticks and branches placed at the bottom to smooth out the transition to the uphill side. I start pedaling hard to make the climb up out of the ravine. I do not notice that the chain has popped off the foot still on the pedal slams down onto the ground.....I think to myself..."motherfucker that hurt". It was an incredible bolt of pain in my lower left leg. I figured I pulled my calf muscle. I stretch it, the pain subsides to an ache... my extensive medical training tells me that riding some more will make it feel I ride on. After riding two of the side loops, the increasing pain in my leg says to go home.
THE WHY...I was barbecuing dinner while hopping around on one leg...I already had halibut defrosting so I decided not to waste it...I began to do what I do best...beat myself up....I wonder why this happened to usual I have to answer myself...because I had options today...I could have watched my friend Debbie run in the Chicago Marathon today...or I could have gone to a family get together for a baby shower...but NOOOOO!!!! I had to go riding...why???...because I wanted's all about me. After dinner I did what you are supposed to do for a pulled it and elevate it. Now what the fuck is 15 minutes my left leg below my knee down through my foot is three times the size of my right to the ER I go.
THE turns out I have a ruptured popliteal artery in my leg and I have compartment syndrome too. So at two in the morning, the cardiac team is coming in to surgically repair my leg. The surgeon can't believe my story. Neither can any of the other 50 or so nurses, doctors and aides that I talked to during my week  in the hospital. The term freak accident is said repeatedly. Usually the artery is damaged when the bone breaks in a real accident like a car crash. The next day, I ask the surgeon how did this happen. His best guess is that maybe I hyper-extended my knee or even dislocated my knee and it damaged the artery. Then I relocated it by slamming my foot on the ground. The other possibility is the compartment syndrome crushed the artery also a freak occurrence. As I was anesthetized for the surgery it all seemed like a fairy tale and I thought to myself have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 9 His Spirit Lives On....

Happy Birthday to John Lennon...a dreamer who is not the only one...he continues to inspire people to believe the world can be a better place...all you need is love.

September 8 Lincoln Park

I have fallen way behind with updating this blog. So I am writing this almost two months after it happened but I want to illustrate how something so simple can have incredible meaning over time. This was a rare day that Chrissy & I got to spend together. There are several reasons why days like this are so important to me. First, we rarely have the same days off from work. Technically, I was off due to quitting my job. The main reason for quitting...too much time at work, not enough time living my life. Second, I thoroughly enjoying going to the city, so does Chrissy. We might seem strange to some people, who goes to the city to relax?  I love the energy of the city. It is contagious and it revitalizes me. Lastly, to be honest I had forgotten about this day. I was reminded of it when I recently found these pictures in my camera. Between September 8th and today, I suffered an injury that I am now recuperating from...more about that in another I won't be having another day like this one for quite a long time. And that is the important thing to take from today's blog...enjoy the little things in life that make you smile...they add up to a lifetime of happiness.
We started out by walking along the new boardwalk around the lagoon in Lincoln Park.

Then we stopped at the Green City Farmer's Market to pick up some fresh fruit, handmade pasta and artisan cheese.

We spent the afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo. We took our time, had lunch at the zoo and enjoyed seeing all the animals without the crowds since it was a late summer Wednesday after school had begun. It was a wonderful, well spent day. That I capped off with a great pretzel on the way home. A simple, yet easily overlooked day that everyone needs more get away from your computer and have one.