Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Well, Happy New Year!

Since I already had a Year End Wrap Up Blowout, I guess there's not much to say. We went to a friend's house tonight for an early get together. They had two pieces of paper on the wall. One read, "Things to remember about 2008" and the other read, "Things to look forward to in 2009".

Let's see. What do I want to remember about this year?

Not a whole hell of a lot.

From the shitty weather (wind, rain and cold well into June, then epic snow in December!) to a failing economy to backstabbing ex-employees to playing less rock shows to struggling to make ends meet to losing Dad to the stress of the aftermath, I have a lot of things to disremember.

I guess I really am a "glass half full" dude as whenever I think back, I think of how much worse it could be for me/us. I don't like to think of things being worse, so I'll move on.

I guess it's all relative, huh?

So, what am I looking forward to in 2009?

LESS DAMN DRAMA! No more health issues (though with Judy's recent issues, both health and career, who knows?). I am looking forward to Riley's continued healing and progress. I am looking forward to our Make a Wish trip (yet to be confirmed, but once it is, I'll spill the beans). I am looking forward to Haley maturing even more and learning and growing. I am looking forward to Marci and I beginning our 16th year together (OMG) and becoming closer. I am looking forward to the business surviving the blows 2008 brought and growing it for many many more years.

I think most of all, I am looking forward to hope, potential, change and growth.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go celebrate the New Year with some water and a hug.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas

It's over!

We had a white Christmas. Snow, and lots of it. Sure, it's a pain, but there is something cool about having snow fall on Christmas day.

The kids started things off, opening their gifts at a record pace. It seemed they'd barely have one open and then want another one to open. Kind of funny, kind of annoying.

I'm trying to teach those kids patience, but I think I'm failing miserably.

After they made a huge mess of our living room, we took a break for some breakfast, then went back to the gifts for Marci and I and Ted and Judy.

As I mentioned previously, 3 of my gifts for Marci are still on their way. Due to the inclement weather and idiotic blogger, stuff just didn't make it here on time. So I told her she's getting an Extend-o-mas, which is like Hanukkah, only not.

I did Marci and everyone else the favor of putting my wants on an Amazon.com gift list. What a cool way to get what you want. I made a point to not look at my list after sending it out and ended up being surprised at the stuff I ended up getting. In no particular order, I received:
  • a Guitar Hero 3 X-Plorer guitar (unfortunately I don't need that and will be returning it. Marci got it because it was an incredible deal)
  • 101 Bass Tips by Gary Willis (this book by a bassist for bassists is seen as kind of a "must have" for bassists. I've looked through it and it is cool, though it isn't the Holy Grail I thought it would've been)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (I asked for this based on recommendation by Amazon.com that I would like it)
  • A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons (I read The Terror by Simmons and loved it. Though this book and the one that follows are nothing like The Terror, I thought I'd give them a try)
  • Summer of Night by Dan Simmons (see above)
  • Burnout Paradise for Xbox 360 (I'm a sucker for driving games and, though I wouldn't buy it, I wouldn't mind having it given to me. Me and Rye played for a bit tonight [he steered, I hit the gas] and it was a lot of fun)
  • Rush Snakes & Arrows Live Bluray (those who know me know I LOVE Rush. I didn't see them this past tour, but was able to hold out for this disc. I popped it in for a few minutes tonight and it will be awesome to watch once the in-laws vacate my viewing area)
  • 4gb flash drive keychain (I wanted this to help out at work. I got tired of asking Rich to borrow his CDs and tools. I figured I'd be able to keep my own set of tools with me at all times instead)
  • BlackBerry windshield mount (I recently got a GPS puck for my BB. Trouble is, it's near impossible to drive and view my BB screen at the same time. I wanted to be able to mount my BB in my line of sight, and now I can. Thanks, Santa!)
  • Blue Old Navy shirt (I will be so hot in this)
  • Red Polo scarf (Mom gave this to me. It's nice, but short. Can't do the Oprah knot on it very well)
  • Tiny digital picture keychain viewer (Marci got it for me as a stocking stuffer. It's tiny and will hold who knows how many pictures. I hate a bulky keychain so I think I may hook it somewhere in my car or desk to keep my loved ones close at hand)
  • Coffee mug decorated by Haley and Riley (I love this. It beats what they made for Papa: a flower pot that holds pens. Though their reasoning was sound: he likes to garden. They figured he could use it to hold a plant if pens were out of the question)
I think that's my haul. All in all, I'm happy with my take. I know the kids loved what they got. Marci? Well, though she got and will get stuff, she kind of got the shaft on things. I got her some Croc-ish shoes and they were the wrong size. Ted and Judy got her some shoes and they were the wrong color. They also got her a mount for her GPS and it was the wrong one. My mom gave her a pair of gaucho pants and, not only were they ugly, they were the wrong size.

Needless to say, she's probably had better Christmases.

Overall, it was nice to just be at home, play Mousetrap with the kids, and enjoy giving and getting. And to forget about the outside world for a day. Tomorrow? Back to the stores for Marci, I'm sure.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Xmas foul-ups

I'm chalking it up to the insane weather, not my procrastination.

You see, I ordered gifts last week. Thursday, if you must know. And Friday.

Ok, so I cut it close.

Anyway, I payed for expedited shipping and the stuff got out the door on time. Trouble is, 12" of snow got in the way. So, of the three items I ordered, one will be here next Monday (oversight on my part; I thought it said it'd be here by Xmas Eve. And it did say that, if I ordered it 2 day. Oops), one is supposed to be here today, and the other, well, who knows? I contacted my inside man at UPS and he said the one that's arriving today isn' t on his truck. I'm hoping it's coming with one of the holiday helpers and should be here any moment.

That's the other problem. I ordered everything to ship to work. Trouble is, though it's clear now, how long do I stay to wait for a package that may show up after 5?

At this rate, Marci will get maybe 3 items with 3 yet to arrive. SUPER! We agreed to scale it back a little this year, but this is kind of silly.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008 in Review

Do I have it in me? Am I not lazy enough to make this epic post? Can I even remember back to January?

Who knows?

I'm not one for a "holiday" letter, but after this past year, it might be a good idea to look back over the past 12 months and evaluate.

It all started in January, of course. I lucked myself into a new HDTV courtesy of Dad. Once that was put in, well, there was no looking back. With the new TV came new HD from Comcast. Then I discovered the beauty of On Demand. I started working out and kept with it for many months. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I worked out more this year than I have in my entire life.

Sadly, the results are less than exceptional.

In February I neglected to get Marci a Valentine's Day gift, so I wrote a poem instead. I continued with working out and got all geeked out about Indy IV.

March rolled around and the workouts continued. Incredible! I had a couple of Lund Bros. gigs, including what might possibly have been our Worst Show Ever at the Swiss in Tacoma. Interestingly enough, these were our first gigs for 2008 (we ended up having fewer shows this year than any of the past 2 years I've played with the Lunds). I also started up playing with the Scheme again and that was great. Why? Because we rehearse in Bellevue! Go Eastside! I also started getting the itch for another bass. The seed was planted and, evidently, the economy wasn't in the crapper yet. These days, a new bass is the furthest thing from my mind.

I turned 36 in April. Haley turned 6. I will forever be 30 years older than her. Kind of cool. I remember (without checking the blog archive) that my birthday was approximately 80 degrees. 9 days later, for Haley's birthday, we had snow, IIRC. I also received Rock Band for my birthday and that made for some great distractions for the next few months.

May rolled around and that meant Marci's birthday, a Rush concert, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. One of those was a lot of fun, one I didn't attend, and one was a big disappointment. Guess which was which? For Marci's b-day, I took her to Cirque de Soleil and had some sushi afterwards (again, what recession?). I skipped Rush as I'd seen them the last time they were here. And I saw Indy twice. Once at a midnight show, when it was a bit nostalgia trip; a second time with my bros, which was great, but made me realize how crappy the movie actually was.

Speaking of my bros (my blood bros, that is), Dung was in town from Ireland for 2 weeks in May and it was superb to hang with him. It was like having a bonus friend around. We got to spend a lot of quality time together, and with Mom and Dad as well. It was good times.

June was a busy month. It was still cold (the whole first half of 2008 seemed cold and grouchy). I recorded some songs with the Lunds. Had a show at the High Dive. Bought a couple CDs from two of my favorite musicians/bands (Aimee Mann & Weezer). Then we went on a road trip to California. We also found out that Riley had/has Chiari Malformation. We learned that surgery would be the best option and started the research to change his life.

I spent the first 2 weeks of July in California. It was right about then where my workouts started being less and less. I don't remember if I started them up again when I got back (sans Marci and kids). What I do remember was starting my Mad Men obsession. What a great show! I watched all of Season 1 On Demand. Marci and the kids got back later that month (with Ted in tow) and we proceeded through our summer until...

August! It was the dog days of summer. Or something like that. Riley turned 4; we had our annual swim party for him at the local watering hole. I traded my trusty Sterling for a new pretty red Lakland bass. So pretty! Marci took the kids camping at Mt. St. Helens and I stayed back again. We also set a date for Riley's surgery and started planning for that.

September is when the shit hit the fan. First off, I made an unscheduled trip to Texas to check on Dad. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 07 and spent most of his time trying to get it treated alternatively. His health took a downturn while he was in Texas so I headed there in early September. Shortly after bringing Mom and Dad back, things just fell apart. Dad died on 9/10/08. It was fast and swift and not completely unexpected. It was also numbing, heart wrenching, and completely a kick in the gut. So many things changed for us that month. My kids lost a grandparent for the first time. Hell, I suffered the biggest loss in my entire life. Until Dad died, I hadn't lost anyone close to me before other than my grandmother. Mom was now alone and we (including the Ireland Changs) were all there to console and comfort and just be with her. We cremated Dad a week later and proceeded to put our lives back together. I seemed to have a better (easier) time doing so than some other family members, but everyone does it differently, right?

October blew in with a bathroom remodel and a couple of rock shows. We also started gearing up for Riley's surgery. Getting nervous as well. We all started the healing process with Dad. Mom made big steps; she was busy and keeping me busy trying to take care of Dad's loose ends and stuff. Oh, yeah, on Halloween, one of my main generators at work decided to resign. It was totally addition by subtraction, but the timing was a little bad, especially just before the surgery.

November was filled with drama. After the first weekend, someone else quit on me that Monday, the day before Riley's surgery. It put me in a little panic as I was planning on taking a lot of time off to be at the hospital with Marci and Rye. But, luckily, things were able to work themselves out. We had Ted and Judy with us and they were able to keep an eye on Haley while Marci and I tended to Rye at Children's Hospital. The surgery was a complete and utter success and we were able to get Marci and Rye home in a few days.

In addition to the surgery, we had Marci with some health oddities (new allergies and things like that), as well as a stressful episode with Mom. Thanksgiving rolled around in a mellow fashion and we just took it easy. On the plus side, I got to carve a turkey for the first time in my life. Go me!

And now, it's December. As I type this up, we're up to probably 12" of snow. I can't remember the last time we ever had snow like this. We've been cooped up for the better part of 3 days. Thank the good Lord we have power still. I will take 10 feet of snow; as long as we have power, bring it on!

I'm supposed to have a Scheme gig tomorrow at the High Dive. A month ago when we booked the show, it sounded like a decent idea. Now? Not so much.

Riley continues to heal and amaze. As you know, a wish from the Make a Wish people was given to him. We're just waiting on it to become reality.

Haley was fabulous today. Her and I went out and worked on the driveway for a bit (if you call sledding "work"). She helped me clean, set the table, etc and was a good girl for the most part. It's been a tough year with her. Her behavior at home and at school (nurse visits weekly) have been quite confusing.

Marci's health seems to be under control now. She's aware of what she's newly allergic to (soy and nuts) and keeps an eye out for those things. Her parents are with us again for Xmas and we should have a good time this week.

I've been doing pretty good. Work has been horrendous. Business is way down. Snow day closures certainly aren't helping either. Cash flow is tight, but we are plugging away. It's hard for me to get down, though. As difficult as these past few months have been (and they have been tough), there are so many reasons for me to be thankful.

The people under this roof as well as the roof itself. I mean, c'mon. To be homeless, or have sick kids, or worse? I wouldn't be able to function. I'm blessed and so so so lucky to have been able to spend as much time as I did with Dad. I'm blessed to be able to try to carry on his tradition at C&A. He paved the way for me and I have a job/career because of it. My son had brain surgery and he is going to be a better, healthier kid because of it.

See? Things are good. Here's hoping they continue to go that way.

Merry Xmas to everyone, and, please be careful out there. There's a lot of snow!

Shoveling snow sucks

My neighbor went out and shoveled his driveway. It was clear and he made quick work of his flat cement driveway.

I got inspired and went out to do the same. My inlaws are coming tonight and they need to be able to get in the house via the garage.

Unfortunately, we have sledded down the driveway. Unfortunately, our driveway is, for lack of a better phrase, made of cobblestones. In other words, it's not smooth.

Anyway, under the frozen top layer of snow was more snow, followed by frozen snow compacted into ice. It was a fabulous time. Then, wouldn't you know it, it started snowing yet again.

Fabulous.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My masterpiece

I tried to make feet for my snowman. You can see them, sort of.

Who knew making a snowman would tire out my forearms so much? All that crushing of snow to make the perfect snowballs, then a bunch of rolling in the fresh powder.

Be careful out there!

View from the backyard

View from the bedroom

View from the home office

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Make a Wish

The problem with writing three blogs (this one, Riley's and Haley's) is that I don't know what I've posted where.

For example, this post is about Riley so it should go on his blog, right? But I've already posted something about it there and I wanted to post about it here. So, here goes.

Due to Riley's medical issues and such, we were lucky enough to qualify for a wish from the Make a Wish Foundation. For those that don't know, the MAWF works with kids who have or deal with serious illnesses. In most cases, the child needs to have something life threatening or degenerative.

In Rye's case, his condition, Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia, was degenerative. In other words, if we didn't have surgery for him last month, it's very possible that he'd lead a life of pain and be limited in many many ways.

Tonight, two volunteers from MAW came over and "interviewed" Riley about his things he likes. TV shows, foods, games, toys, music, places, restaurants, etc. We'd talked to Rye about it over the past few weeks. We tried not to color his ideas or lead him towards anything. When he finally got to talk to the volunteers, Lindy and Erin, he pretty much said he wanted to go to Disneyworld.

We had talked to him about that. Marci and I went there for our honeymoon ages ago and he saw the photo album. In looking through that and looking online, he saw so many of the things they offer there and he was pretty much sold.

Of course, we wouldn't be the first family to ever wish for a Disneyworld trip, and, as such, apparently the MAWF and Disney have a pretty good relationship. Things are all in the beginning stages now and nothing is concrete yet, but, according to the Lindy, it should be a slam dunk.

As we learn more, expect to hear more about it. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

One thing I can't stand about winter

It's too darn cold!

I must be getting old or something. The past few days have been pretty chilly by our standards, so much so, that I've taken to wearing a scarf inside the house! I think part of it is trying to cut back on our heating bill, so we're not cranking the heat like before, but, man! I'm sick of being cold!

The past week or so, I've been getting back in touch with my inner geek (not that I was that out of touch with him to begin with). Anyway, I got a wild hair and decided to fire up the ol' Lord of the Rings trilogy, starting with LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring.

The trouble with these movies is, at 3hrs + each, they take me a few days to get through. Even so, I find myself dozing off at points. They are a wonder to behold, though. Plus, they're keeping me from watching the latest steaming pile of crap that Netflix has delivered (though I saw it twice in the theater): Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Ugh. It pains me to even type that. I'm sure I'll pop it in sometime this week, if anything, to see how good it looks in BD, then to remember how horrible the movie was.

Though, now that I think about it, I may not have much time. Tomorrow should be Lund Bros. practice. The past few weeks have been canceled, however. Chris has been sick on both Mondays and it doesn't sound like he's had much fun. Hopefully he's feeling better and we can rock out tomorrow.

Tuesday I should be home. I'm planning to work out again. Yes, you read correctly. I worked out twice (whoa!) last week and one time the week before. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy it, when I'm not doing it, that is.

Wednesday and Thursday I'll be rehearsing with the Scheme. We have our second gig next week, on Monday (ugh). It's at the High Dive, and when you're in a "new" band like this, you gotta pay your dues. We're going to look at it as a dress rehearsal, I suppose. It'll be good to play.

Anyway, that's my schedule. Work is way slow. I heard a rumor that an ex-employee is representing himself as us, so I have to try to get to the bottom of that. Ed comes back after 2.5 weeks in Boston. Hopefully he had a good time and is ready to get back to work.

I'm about to turn in and see who the heck won Survivor. I got hooked this season and tonight's finale should be good!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My new guilty pleasure

I was watching SNL the other night and when it was over, my TV clicked over to Palladia (HD music TV that shows videos, concerts and the like). There was this song on with 5 dudes playing a party. The guitars sounded like Queen, the chord changes sounded like 70's rock, the singer sounded like Rivers from =W=.

I watched this video and was smitten. So much so, I rewound to the beginning and saw it was a band called Rooney and a song called "I Should've Been After You". This song was superb and I started researching them.

A few days later, I have both their CDs and am enjoying them immensely. They have a major Weezer vibe, which to me, is great. The songs are super catchy. The vocals are lush and everything just flows nicely.

Did I mention the bassist is pretty good too?

Anyway, I'd seen the band's name before, but didn't ever hear any of their music. They're young (early 20s, I think), but musically, they're wise beyond their years.

Check 'em out here: www.rooney-band.com.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Happy December

I guess I'm in a bit of a blogging rut. I suppose I'm all blogged out after the past few months.

Most recently, it's been a lot of work, no music, and hanging with the family. With two guys quitting on me, I've been lucky enough to enlist the help of a guy I know from church. He's been really great for us, helping out on site as well as in the shop. He scratches my back, I scratch his. Now, if I could only get those kind of results with our cashflow...

Musically it's been dry. Arid, even. So much so that at church today, I watched the band play with a pang of envy! I don't even think I've taken my basses out of their cases for almost 2 weeks!

/looks over at basses. "Sorry, basses!"

That should all change tomorrow, though. I believe we are on for Lund Bros. practice, in preparation for... absolutely nothing. I have some feelers out for a CD release show, but haven't heard anything back. I have 2 other KILLER bands who have said they will play with us, but I need a venue first.

Marci got a much needed mini-break this weekend. Her and 3 of her gal pals went to Port Angeles and stayed in a home of her friend's contractor. They just yukked it up while I was at home with Haley and Riley. We kept it pretty low key. There was a lot of movie watching and goofing off with the kids. We were lucky enough to get invited to a friend's house for dinner last night, so we got our social on a little bit.

So this week should be busy yet again at work (boo/yay!). I still have yet to buy any Xmas gifts and frankly don't exactly know what I'm going to do about that. Luckily Marci is quite the superstar when it comes to this time of year. It's exhausting, but she has her stuff together, that's for sure.

Mom is off to Texas until early January. I talked to her a few days ago and she's doing pretty well. It's the first time she's been there since Dad died, so I'm sure there's a lot of emotion all around down there. I guess she's going to try to sell their house down there.

It's kind of weird to not have anyone here now, except for Knight. Dad's gone. Mom's in Texas. Dung is in Ireland and, though Knight is only in Seattle, he and Shannon keep so busy that we're lucky to see them a few times a month. Though, ironically, with Dad gone now, they've been out here a lot more than before.

It must be how Marci feels, with her family all in California and her up here all by herself. I don't know how I would do in that circumstance. It'd be weird, that's fo' sho'.

That's all for now. Time for me to go to bed. I am getting too old to be staying up past midnight every night.