Today is the first time in quite a while (that I can remember, in any case [fwiw]) that we’ve gotten a truly Seattle-style rain to carry us throughout the night. Gone are the long, hot, dry days. Just like that, summer’s over.

It’s been a heck of a summer. I took a mini road trip with the kids to Olympia, turned 45, endured a week alone before flying out to witness my brother-in-law’s wedding, took another mini road trip with my good friend Alex, and closed the summer out enjoying a quiet night of dinner and games with Carrie. Beer was brewed and consumed. Metal was pounded, twisted and joined together in bizarre shapes. I occasionally ran.

I got a chance to meet some new friends and reconnect with old ones. Made some pretty momentous (and momentously petty) decisions along the way. I quit one job and took up another without leaving the building, so to speak (Carrie and the kids don’t live there, and I have to sleep sometime). There were things that I would have liked to have done this summer but never got around to. And so it goes.

I’m looking forward to fall. Apple cider and plum lambic are around the corner. I’ll be taking my first foreign language course in ten years next month. Come November, Carrie and I are off to northeastern Washington for more time together. Before long, all of my in-laws will be in the area for the holidays. Then it will be next year.

For now, though, I’m content to just sit back and take each day as it comes. Because that just seems right for the moment :)

Once a month ever since 2014 began, I’ve been making it a point to listed to at least one of my favorite recordings, randomly selected. So far, this is what has been on my Google Play playlist:

  1. Midnight Oil – Earth And Sun And Moon: I first started listening to these guys when I was in the Navy. For some reason, this one has always stood out to me as my personal Midnight Oil Favorite.
  2. LTJ Bukem – Journey Inwards (Disc 2) – I just love the long playing grooves on this one.
  3. The Primitives – Spells EP – Short, sappy and sweet.
  4. Michael Franti – The Sound Of Sunshine – An poppy, upbeat, positivist recording from Michael Franti! Who would have figured?
  5. Dave Brubeck – Time Out – One of the few artists that I think my father and I would agree upon that are on this list. This one is Dave Brubeck’s signature recording, as far as I am concerned.
  6. Herbie Hancock – Headhunters – Another Jazz artist from my youth.
  7. Throwing Muses – The Real Ramona – I’ve always thought that this was their most consistent recording ever.
  8. Rush – Vapor Trails – Perhaps their ‘hardest’ recording ever, I think. I know that purists would insist upon me having “Moving Pictures” up here instead of “Vapor Trails”, but frankly I think that “Moving Pictures” B-side is pretty weak when held up against the first five tracks, while all of “Vapor Trails” is consistently good.

And this month’s entry:
Siouxsie and the Banshees – TinderboxThis is the second recording that I heard from this group, yet another of my personal gems from the 80’s. The CD includes a handful of extra tracks that are not on either the LP or Cassette. Surprisingly, these extra songs blend seamlessly with those that are on the regular release.

Friday was my last day as a contractor at Expedia. Monday is my first day as a full time employee. I made the jump to contract work a few months ago expecting – well, different things. While I did get a big bump in pay, that was offset by the fact that we had to budget in (or I had to make up)any time off that I had taken. We really could not budget our funds with any long-term certainty since the amount of money I received varied on a paycheck-by-paycheck basis. Fortunately, our family is enrolled in a low cost – but killer – health insurance plan, but we had to forego dental for the duration. Lastly, I had no automatic life or disability insurance to speak of.

I am not ruling out going back to being a contractor at some point; with the benefit of knowing being a contractor entails I’m positive that Carrie and I would approach things a bit differently. But for the foreseeable future, we’ll breathe a bit easier knowing that we have the stability that comes with being a full time employee of a large corporation.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since I committed these words to this blog (which were followed up three years later with this sad post), but that just goes to show you (or at least, shows me) that time does indeed fly by faster the older that you go.

Five years has seen a lot of change. Gabe and Ollie. Not one, but two new jobs. Unpleasant revelations, pain and heartache – but also change for the better, lots of joy and laughter. Comparing the me now with the guy I was a scant five years ago – yes, there are things that I wish that I would have done differently, but in the end, I like myself more the way that I turned out then I suspect I would have had I not made some mistakes along the way and taken the time and courage to learn from them.

On another note: tomorrow we are having a cookout, and, as usual, Carrie and Charlie are doing it up in style. Not only will there be pulled pork with my homemade rub, it will be accompanied by two of Carrie’s homemade barbecue sauces (one traditional and one Carolina-style mustard sauce), and served in Carrie’s homemade brioche buns. We are having two different types  of homemade coleslaw with homemade dressings: one made with green lettuce cabbage with buttermilk dressing;  the other made with red lettuce cabbage with an apple-cider based dressing. There will be homemade spicy pickles, homemade fermented collards, and, for dessert, a buttermilk sheet cake and two different homemade ice creams -buttermilk vanilla and Mexican chocolate.

Oh – and I’ll be offering some of my homebrew saison as well ;)

Recently, my team at Expedia held a morale-building event.

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For the first time in 30 years, I found myself playing softball. I was pretty hesitant my first time at-bat.

IMG_7820The second time, I decided to just strike a pose; if I didn’t know what I was doing, I might as well look good doing it:

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Both times, I got a hit. Both times, they were caught before leaving the infield, which sort of made this action kinda futile on my part:

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But hey, at least I got 2 RBI’s, which isn’t such a bad thing after 30 years of not having played the game. And I had fun, which was the most important thing :)

 

Last month I talked to my Neurologist about switching medications from the daily injectable that I currently take (Copaxone) to a daily oral medication (Tecifidera). After a round of MRI scans and blood and urine tests, I finally got this in the mail.

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Relief.

I had started taking medication for my MS back in 2000. Back then I was injecting myself once a week with Avonex; it had to be injected directly into the muscles, so the needle was about an inch long, and the side effects were pretty severe. I was left feeling like I had the flu for the better part of a day. Six years later, I switched to Copaxone; the shot just had to go into the skin, making for a much shorter needle, but I had to take that one once a day, and not only did I have site reactions, but I would also get headaches, experience dizziness and shortness of breath and the occasional bout of severely painful spasms. Thankfully, now that I am on a different medication, those days are behind me.

Not to say that Tecifidera itself is not without its own list of issues:

  • Flushing/warmth
  • redness
  • itching
  • burning feeling of the skin
  • Stomach/abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

A lot of those side effects can be ameliorated by taking Tylenol and eating when you take the medication. At the very least, I won’t be giving myself shots every day. As little as I look forward to having to take pills for the rest of my life, I relish the prospect of daily (or even weekly) injections even less.

(Aside) Now that I am taking the pills, I have a month’s worth of perfectly good Copaxone in the fridge awaiting disposal. It seems a shame to allow over $5,000 of medication to go to waste. I’m hoping that there is some way that I can donate what I have to someone who cannot afford the medication.

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Both Gabe and Ollie have digital cameras that they occasionally use to take pictures of random things. Sometimes they even take selfies or pics of one another. Here are some of the pics of Gabe that I found on their cameras :)

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