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Archive for August, 2013


Posted by Scott Holstad on August 30, 2013

Today is the one month anniversary of my father’s death in my backyard. It still seems so unbelievable, so surreal. One minute, he’s mowing my grass, the next he’s dead on the ground. It really seems cruel. I’m still stunned that I didn’t get to see him coherent on his last day alive. That bothers me so much. I wish I could have said some things, done some things. Mom’s telling people he had been depressed and was “ready to go.” I don’t believe that. Yes, he had been depressed, ever since he retired. He thought he had no further value, which was untrue, but he still had plans and dreams. He wanted to take we four back up to Nova Scotia where we once lived and show my wife around. They were going up to Pittsburgh to be with old friends that weekend. He wanted to take we four up to Iowa and Minnesota to visit family and show Gretchen around. He still had a lot of life in him and I resent the fact that it was yanked away from him, and he from us.

There’s one thing I’m trying to keep in mind though. Mom showed me a computer print out Dad brought over to my house on his last day alive, for me to keep and ponder. It reads “The past should be left in the past because it can destroy your future. Live your life for what tomorrow has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away.” Wow! How prophetic was that??? Did he somehow know? I can’t believe that he did, but why did he bring that to me on that particular day? I do need to look to the future and quit tormenting myself about the past, about what I didn’t say or didn’t do. I said a lot and did everything I could possibly do to keep him alive. It wasn’t enough. The paramedics couldn’t save him either, so maybe I’ve been too hard on myself.

My mom is doing okay. Yesterday was their 49th wedding anniversary, and she and Gretchen and I went out to eat. Some tears were shed, but Dad was fondly remembered. I just can’t believe I can never pick up the phone and call him again and get one of his funny emails he sent me. It’s quite sad, really. RIP Dad.

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A Review of Rip It Up and Start Again

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 29, 2013

Rip It Up and Start AgainRip It Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an exhausting book to read, in part, because the author was so exhaustive in his research and, thus, the book is a thorough overview of British, and to a lesser extent, American post-punk rock. It’s also a strangely intellectual book, and at times, it felt like I was reading a modern history textbook.

Early on, Reynolds discusses the demise of punk and the (odd) opinion that The Sex Pistols’ “Never Mind the Bollocks” actually signaled the end of punk — not the height of its glory. He shows post-punk to be distinct from punk and New Wave, among others. The post-punk bands that followed punk wanted to continue the revolution that it began but failed to fulfill. There was a sense of existing to negate the corporate hit-making machinery and ideology of 70s-era prog and commercial rock, or at least until New Pop and New Wave came along and flailed against such post-punk rebellion by emulating the most listener-friendly pop forms. These early post-punk bands began exploring other forms of music, such as experimentation with art rock, electronics, dub, reggae, funk, and even disco. Some of these early post-punk bands wanted to make a wall of noise and often the bands were made up of a collective as opposed to trained musicians. Often, the traditional instruments (guitars, drums, etc.) were completely ignored for synths and tapes, as well as other assorted unknown instruments. If there were even concerts, film and theater often played large roles. Audience participation was often encouraged.

The book is divided into two halves: one is pure post-punk and the second is “new pop and new rock.” As a result, it read like two distinctly different books. The first chapter is about PIL (Public Image Limited), Johnny Rotten’s band he formed after ditching the Sex Pistols. According to Reynolds, PIL was the start of the post-punk movement. However, numerous other bands formed and began playing, such as Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, Devo, Gang of Four, Wire, Pere Ubu, Throbbing Gristle, and tons of bands I’ve never heard of. The second half begins with The Specials, before moving on to ska and Bow Wow Wow, as well as the New Romantics, such as Adam Ant. The author goes further into groups like Gary Numan, Haircut 100, ABC, Duran Duran, and pretty much ties it all together with Madonna, of all people, at the end of the book. It’s a very exhaustive look at hundreds of bands and many scenes throughout the UK and America. And that kind of presents a bit of a problem. The chronology of the book’s chapters runs back and forth as different scenes and genres are covered, which was occasionally confusing. Everything was thrown into the mix together — the bands, band missions, various genres, record stores, record labels, clubs, new types of technology — everything. It was nearly overwhelming.

One of the major problems of the book was its tendency of the chapters to follow a pattern that got a little old fairly soon. Reynolds first discusses a specific post-punk hot spot, often geographically (such as Manchester, Liverpool, NYC, San Francisco, etc.). He then discusses the best band, or several bands, from that scene before mentioning virtually every band possible from that same scene or hot spot. Like I said, it gets a little old….

Another major problem I had with the book was its insistence that this second British invasion was the most important musical movement since the first, citing hundreds of bands, most of whom I’ve never even heard of, and I’d wager many other people never have either. Among the bands Reynolds discusses are The Pop Group, New Age Steppers, Delta 5, The Future, Teenage Jesus, This Heat, Tuxedomoon, Factrix, A Certain Ratio, and so many more. Many of these bands he discusses as so very relevant never even released an album, and those that did usually just released an EP or one debut album that sold something like 5,000 copies and they were never heard from again. I fail to understand why so many of these, frankly, unimportant bands were deemed worthy of inclusion.

The book, and many of the bands in it, pay homage to some that came before them, such as Captain Beefheart, Roxy, Bowie, Eno, etc, and that’s cool. It’s really not a bad read and I learned a lot. I just think a lot of it was unnecessary and I question the author’s intentions. Did he just want to expand the book’s pages to charge more? I also could have done with a little less (band) name dropping and more detail on some of the more significant bands. However, it was good to see personal favs like Bauhaus, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, and Skinny Puppy mentioned. I’d recommend this book for any 70s music fan and many music enthusiasts, but it’s a bit of a cautious recommendation. I think you have to wade through a lot of crap to get to the good stuff, and that’s a bit of a pity — but it’s ultimately worth it.

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An Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 25, 2013

So after our break in of two weeks ago, we now have a home security system in place. We signed with ADS Security, a regional home security company with a good reputation and we now have an alarm system in place on all four doors, as well as interior motion sensors. We also have signs in our yard. We feel a lot safer now. Yeah, you can have all kinds of weapons in your house and plans for robberies when you’re there, but those don’t do any good when you’re not around. The break ins in this neighborhood have been happening between 10 AM and noon on weekdays when people aren’t around. Ours was on a Tuesday in broad daylight! How brazen. ADS responds in 45 seconds or less, so we feel like this security system is a good investment and we feel a lot safer now.

Meanwhile, we’re still trying to get used to Dad’s death three and a half weeks ago. It still feels so unreal. I can’t believe he’s no longer around. And I can’t get the image of him on the ground gasping and moaning as he died out of my mind, and of my mouth to mouth as he was obviously dead by then. I feel helpless and guilty. I feel a great sense of loss. And my mom is trying to do her best, but she’s been overwhelmed and is a little OCD about many things. I’m trying to be patient with her.

Mom had a DVD made of Dad’s funeral service and we got a copy. We watched it a few days ago. It seemed surreal. I’m glad we have it, but it’s a little weird too.

We got the items that were stolen replaced, and my external backup worked for my computer, so I’m happy about that. There was only one software program I had to buy again, as it didn’t transfer over. That’s okay.

I had a lot of poetry submissions to Ray’s Road Review to go through. They had really piled up. I accepted poems from two people and rejected many from quite a few people.

Yesterday we went to a seminar given on the Affordable Care Act to educate people about the details. It was pretty informative. Since neither of us has employer given insurance, we’re hoping this will really help us out come January.

Mom sold Dad’s car. That was kind of sad. Next up, it’s time to sell his fishing boat. I have no idea how to find out basic information on it and how to determine what to ask for it. I need help with this. Mom’s going to be donating Dad’s books to the library of their home church in Knoxville and I guess she’ll be giving his clothes to Goodwill. She’s going to get rid of his tools, although I think I’ll take a number of them myself. Mom’s freaking out about finances, because she’s never had to worry about this before, but I’m trying to remind her that Dad left her in good shape. She doesn’t seem to get it sometimes.

We didn’t go to church today. Gretchen went biking and I want to cut the grass, but it poured last night and I think the grass is too wet to cut. I think we’ve had one day all summer long without rain. It’s been crazy! You’d think we live in Seattle or London. I’ve never seen a summer like this. I can’t wait for fall. At least football’s here. That’s something. I do think, however, that my Steelers are going to suck this year, and I have no idea how UT is going to do with their new coach.

I guess that’s all for now. Just wanted to give an update. More book reviews to come later this week. Cheers!

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A Review of Just Call Me Mike

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 23, 2013

Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and ActivistJust Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist by Mike Farrell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mike Farrell is an interesting man. I bought this book (for fifty cents at a used bookstore) because of my love for his character in MASH. Truthfully, that’s what I thought the book might be about, although it’s subtitled “A Journey to Actor and Activist.” I just had no idea what an activist Mike is! It’s really overwhelming. I mean, if he’s done half of what he claims to have done, he should be sainted. He traveled to numerous south and central American countries like El Salvador to document human rights abuses. He went to Rwanda to document the genocide there. He became an advocate for prisoner’s rights and has fought hard to abolish the death penalty everywhere. Let me tell you, if you’re a conservative, you won’t like this book. I’m pretty liberal, and even I felt like I was being preached to too often at times! He’s very anti-Bush, but doesn’t hold back on Clinton either, as well as Reagan and Bush 1.

I was disappointed at how little a role MASH plays in this book. A little over a chapter is devoted to the show, with the only major story being about the final episode. I had hoped to read numerous behind the scenes stories about the show, and that was a big let down. At the same time, I didn’t know how much other acting and producing Mike has done, so that was interesting. He got Patch Adams produced (starring Robin Williams), although he was deeply disappointed with the final product, which he thought the director and writer butchered.

Mike’s devotion to his second wife and his kids is awesome. His wife had to go through so much, including a frightening liver transplant, but Mike stood with her the whole way. Mike never went to college, but his kids did, so he was proud of them.

At times, this book bored me, however. I wanted anecdotes, not proselytizing. I feel kind of ripped off by that, even though, again, the words on the book cover should have alerted me to the primary purpose of the book. I mean, most of the blurbs on the cover are from politicians. That should have been a big tip off. If you’re a MASH fan, don’t bother reading this book. You won’t learn anything. If you’re against the death penalty and other human rights abuses, this might prove an interesting read for you. If you’re pro-death penalty, you’ll just get a headache reading this book. I can’t say I recommend it and I’m a little relieved to have finished it. Somewhat of a disappointment, no matter how noble Mike might be….

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A Review of The Final Battle

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 22, 2013

The Final Battle (Legion, #2)The Final Battle by William C. Dietz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

William Dietz’s The Final Battle is a sequel to The Legion of the Damned, and at first glance, it’s not too bad. However, while I generally enjoyed the book, the more I think about it, the more nit picky I get. There are simply too many “issues” to ignore in the writing of this book.

First of all, the book picks up 20 years after the climax of the first book, the victory at the battle of Algeron by the humans led by the Legion (patterned after the French Foreign Legion, but staffed by dead people brought back to life as cyborg killing machines) over the alien Hudathans, who had invaded the human worlds with the intent on the destruction of the human race. We meet William Booly Jr, son of Legion deserter Booly from the first book and his Naa wife. Booly Jr is in the Legion now. We are reintroduced to Hudathan War Leader Poseen-Ka, a prisoner on Worber’s World, along with his remaining army. He’s about to be rescued and rearmed for another war with humanity. Overseeing Worber’s World is General Natalie Norwood, a great character from the first novel. And this is where my first problem begins.

I never thought I’d say this, but there’s too much gratuitous sex in this book. Yeah, you heard me. It was disappointing to discover early in the book Natalie masturbating to the scene of Hudathans on Worber’s World suffering. That was just kind of sick and unnecessary. General Marianne Mosby is a certified sex fiend, and finds a way to seduce the leader of the Hegemony, a human-like race of clones living on three planets. The Hegemony takes up a lot of the first half of the book, as many of the clones want nothing to do with humanity and some are ready to take up with the Hudathans to defeat the humans. There’s even an assassination attempt on the leader of the Confederacy of Sentient Beings, what the former empire is now called. Another complaint. Dietz must have gotten bored with the Hegemony, because it’s dropped permanently halfway through the novel, which is confusing considering how much of a role it played in the first half. What happened? Very odd.

Since the Hudathans were beaten by the Legion’s cyborgs, they decide that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so they murder their best academy graduates and transform them into cyborg killing machines to go head to head with the Legion. After Poseen-Ka (who’s a great villain) is rescued and put back in charge of the new Hudathan fleet, he starts obliterating Confederacy planets once more and the Confederacy finds out about the new cyborgs — so they start upgrading theirs, producing Trooper III cyborgs, which have external units to accompany the primary cyborg. It’s an interesting concept and one left largely unwritten about in the book, another complaint I have. In fact, much of the book is about politics and logistics, and little is about actual FIGHTING (unlike the first book), so it’s hard to even call this a straight military sci fi novel. Another disappointment. I would have liked to see cyborg against cyborg more than in the final few pages of the novel, which are somewhat anticlimactic.

Many of the characters we know and meet are killed in this book, including Norwood, so it’s hard to become attached to many of the characters. They die. The Hudathans are eager to avenge their loss at Algeron, so that’s where their primary attack takes place. And the Legion is ready, thanks to a spy. Still, there are thousands of Hudathan ships, outnumbering the Confederacy ships, and it’s not until a secret “weapon” (which is totally foreseeable) is used that the Legion takes control of the battle and wins the second war, thus ending the book.

There are some slow times in the book and times when I wondered why passages were included, including a scene when Booly plays a Legion academy prank. It just doesn’t seem important to the book. Maybe that’s just me though. Booly is hooked up with a female Legionnaire toward the end of the book, thus setting up the author for another book in this series (which has at least nine books in it; I have three more to read). It seems a little too convenient. A little too contrived. But then, I guess the author has to make his money selling a series, doesn’t he?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s an above average book, and at times, fairly enjoyable. It just could have been so much more, I think, and that’s why I’m disappointed. So, three stars and a cautious recommendation….

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A Review of Midlife Orphan

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 20, 2013

Midlife OrphanMidlife Orphan by Jane Brooks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not sure how I feel about this book. My wife bought it for me because my father died three weeks ago today and she thought it might be helpful. And some of it was. But a great deal was not too.

The book is made up mostly of stories about midlife “orphans” who have lost their parents. Most seem to be Jewish, perhaps because the author is. The book centers on losing your last parent, although that wasn’t immediately clear and because I just lost my first parent, it didn’t resonate as much as it might at a later date. The stories are about relationships people had with their parents, their siblings, and their children. Things like inheritances are also brought up.

There were a few interesting passages. One states,

“Of all the relationships we experience, our relationship with our parents is the first significant one. Our earliest and most treasured memories begin with our mother and father. As the decades roll by, we create intimate connections with others and accumulate volumes of additional recollections but all the while we are building on that first relationship. Our parents’ values and their experiences are tightly bound into our life’s tapestry, tangled with threads that we weave for ourselves as our individual character evolves.”

I’m an only child. The book does occasionally address only children. It states that generally, for instance, “only children do not have to worry about sharing an inheritance. But that doesn’t mean an inheritance has less emotional impact for them. For many only children, the death of the last parent magnifies the degree of aloneness.”

Speaking of inheritances, “some children become angry when they realize that their parents did not have to live as frugally as they did.” I think I can relate to this sentiment. After seeing Dad’s financial affairs, I now realize he and Mom could have taken some of the trips they dreamed of taking, but never did. Why did they hold back? It seems so unfair. They should have spoiled themselves. Now Mom doesn’t have Dad to share such experiences with, and that’s just cruel.

My primary complaint with the book is probably not shared by many people. The book focuses on sibling and child/parent relationships. I have no siblings and no children. Aside from my lovely wife, my mom and I are now alone in this world. When Mom goes, I’ll have no one to fall back on. This is a terrifying prospect for me. The book never touches on this. I wish it would have. Also, the book doesn’t offer many concrete suggestions for coping, although it does advocate saving sympathy cards one receives upon a parent’s death. That’s nice, but I could have used more. Instead, the book is made up largely of simple stories of people who lost their parents as middle aged children, and it doesn’t go into much more depth than that. Oh well. It was a decent book, and I’m glad to know I’m (kind of) not the only one, but the book could have done and been more, and I’m sad that it wasn’t. Three stars.

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Dad’s Frugality

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 16, 2013

My parents have always been frugal. When I was younger, I thought of them as cheap. Miserly often. Don’t get me wrong — there was always food on the table and I had comforts I took for granted, frankly. It’s just that I graduated from an affluent high school where my peers were driving Porsche’s. I drove Chevy’s. A 1966 Impala my junior year and a 1979 Chevette my senior year. I was mortified. My friends would fly out to Colorado over winter break for some skiing and would go down to Panama Beach for spring break. I stayed home. We took occasional summer vacation trips, usually to visit family, but otherwise my parents took very few trips, instead depending on television and movies to fulfill their travel fantasies. When I went to college, I pledged the most prestigious fraternity. It allowed in two public school kids a year. I was one of them. Everyone’s parents were country club rich and they all seemed to drive a Mercedes. By then, I was driving an Olds. I was mortified. We wouldn’t go out to eat or to movies. Dad believed in putting money away for retirement. He hammered that home to me so many times, that if I had a dollar for every time he told me that, I’d be rich now. Unfortunately, I’ve always had bad spending habits. When I had the money, I spent it. When I was out of work, I cashed in my 401K to make it to the next job. I don’t have much saved. My parents lived in a modest house, although it was nice and in a distinctly middle class neighborhood. When they moved from Knoxville to Chattanooga to be near me, they “down sized” to a smaller house and saved money that way. They were retired by then, so it mattered. Dad spent a lot of money on one venture, and I’ve been worried about their financial future. Dad apparently had been too. He spent the last two years looking for a job, before getting a part time job as a driver for Enterprise three months ago. It had to be humiliating for him, because he’d been in a position of authority in a white collar business for 50 years. Still, he said he needed the money. I haven’t been able to work due to health concerns, although I’ve been looking recently, so he had been helping me out financially, which made me feel guilty, because he could ill afford it.

So imagine my surprise when Mom and I went to meet with Dad’s financial adviser after his death and found out he had stashed a pretty decent sum of money away all these years! Mom won’t have to worry at all, and I’m hoping she’ll be around for 20-25 more years. (She’s 83.) He did well. His frugality paid off. He was a great example and I feel like I’ve been a disappointment to him because I wasn’t able — and in some cases, willing — to follow his example. I have an average life insurance policy, so that if I should die, Gretchen would have something, but it’s not enough and I know it. Of course, we all wish Dad were still here. It’s been over two weeks now and I’m still trying to get used to the fact that he’s dead. We all are. But Dad did well. I’m proud of him. And now I’m somewhat upset that they didn’t use some of their money to take some of the trips they wanted to take. Oh well. Life goes on.

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It’s Over

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 11, 2013

Dad’s funeral was Friday in Knoxville and now we’re back in Chattanooga. It’s over. It’s really hard to believe, surreal even. It just doesn’t make sense that he was alive and well two weeks ago and now he’s buried in the ground. It seems cruel. As my wife said, though, at least my mother and I were with him when he unexpectedly died, and as much as I want to believe the CPR could have saved him, I’ve been assured it wouldn’t have, so we were with Dad during his last moments. That’s good.

We had the graveside burial service Friday morning, just for family. There were about 25 people there. They came from Georgia, the Carolinas, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, California, Virginia, Kentucky. Quite a gathering. The minister was good. I carried Dad’s urn/box to the grave site. Mom cried on my shoulder as the minister spoke. I shed a few years myself. When it was over, Mom got up and sung a song for Dad and then spoke — heck, she preached a sermon! Boy, did she go on. But everyone hung in there and we left Dad to be covered in earth. Mom’s going to be buried next to him when it’s her turn, and Gretchen and I are going to be buried next to them when it’s ours.

We went back to the church and had a lovely lunch, carefully prepared by wonderful cooks. It was delicious. We also got to speak with some of the family members. Soon after, we went into the church (we ate lunch in another building — there are five buildings on the church campus) and gathered in a side room to be taken into the sanctuary when it was time. When we were led in, I was a little stunned at how many people were there. I’d say there were probably 800 people in attendance. The sanctuary wasn’t completely filled, but the front was, and people were sitting on both side wings with some in the balcony.

The funeral service was lovely. We sang some of Dad’s favorite hymns, one of his favorite ministers read from the Bible and prayed, my cousin Jane read a nice poem she wrote in tribute, and three people spoke. I was one of them. People asked me if I was nervous in front of all those people, but I wasn’t. First, I read a poem Gretchen wrote in tribute to Dad, and then I read what I had prepared. I went on too long, but I had a lot to say and I felt good about it. I successfully tried not to get too choked up at the end. Then the senior minister preached a short message that was fitting and good, and the family was led out to receive guests. And let me tell you — that was grueling! Gretchen and I had picked out a number of pictures of Dad from various stages of his life and she had put them together quite nicely, so people looked at that, but it was essentially a madhouse. People were grabbing us and talking to us from all directions. It was overwhelming. I was proud of Gretchen, who’s typically a wallflower. She did quite well. And I was overwhelmed at how many people complemented me on my eulogy! At least 400 people said they were touched by it, that it was great, and some asked me to email them copies of it. Wow! And at least 100 people told us how great Gretchen’s poem was too. That was awesome. Unfortunately, many of our family members had to go, so it was just me, Gretchen, and Mom. The crowd was huge. I saw some of my friends, but could only talk to them for a minute — with apologies. I saw Chris, who came down from Virginia. All I got to say was hi and thanks. I saw Monica, who came up from Sweetwater with her boys. My friend Joanne came all the way over from Nashville, and I got maybe two minutes with her. Apparently Anthony was there and Little Amy was there, but we didn’t get to see them as the line was too long. I saw my old friend Eunice, and got to introduce her to Gretchen, which was cool. Arnold and Sarah were there, and Gretchen met Sarah for the first time. Robb and Wayne were there. And so many old family friends. It was truly overwhelming. And even though we had asked that all donations be made to Dad’s favorite charity, Mission India, Mom received some donations to her, which was nice and sweet.

The service was at 2 PM. We didn’t get to leave until nearly 5:30. We went back to the place we were staying and then went to a restaurant to meet with 10 family members for dinner. When we returned, some visitors came to see Mom, which Gretchen and I thought was kind of rude. We were beat. It was 9 PM. Why were they too good to stand in line like the rest? Why did we have to stay up entertaining guests after such an exhausting day? And when they started talking regressive conservative politics, I got ticked off and stormed out. Mom was embarrassed, but I didn’t want to embarrass her further by saying something rude to these people, so I left. Most of the people in that church are very nice people, but it is a conservative, evangelical church, and Gretchen and I don’t have much in common with their political and spiritual beliefs.

We finally drove back to Chattanooga yesterday, just beat. And Gretchen and I went out to get a TV to replace the one that was stolen last week, and I ordered a new customized computer to replace the stolen one. I hope it gets here soon and I hope that my backup works, or I’m screwed.

It was a good day, a good weekend, and one that honored my father, but now I feel empty and hollow inside and I miss him, as do Gretchen and my mother. I worry about my elderly mother who doesn’t want to live in that house alone. I can understand that. But she won’t move to assisted living and we don’t have the room to have her move in with us. Her house is too small for us to move there, so we’re talking about the possibility of selling both houses and buying one big one for we three to live in together. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we try to sort this out. Gretchen and I skipped church today, because we’ve had our fill of people for awhile. I guess things will get back to some sense of normalcy, but it’s still going to be strange. I really miss Dad.

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Bad Week

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 8, 2013

Today, we’re going up to Knoxville for Dad’s funeral tomorrow. It’s going to be a very long day tomorrow. We have 27 family members driving and flying in from all over the country. It’ll be good to see them. I’m going to speak. I hope I do well. I hope I don’t break down in front of 1,000 people. I really do miss Dad. I just got back from my doctor and he was shocked. He gave me a bear hug, which was nice. He’s an emotional fellow.

However, Tuesday afternoon, I was driving home from Knoxville with Mom when Gretchen called. She asked if I’d left the front door open. Of course I hadn’t. She then discovered it had been demolished, smashed to smithereens by some thieves. She called the police who filed a report, but didn’t even dust for fingerprints. All they took was our 46″ RCA HDTV, a fancy surge protector, and my critically important iMac. It could have been much worse. They left the new PC, as well as Gretchen’s laptop. The cats were somewhat traumatized, especially Toby. He wouldn’t come out of Gretchen’s closet for hours and he was jumpy all night. We were pissed!!! What assholes. And I have my resume on there, my books, my RRR stuff, my work, everything. Software. I hope that when I get a new Mac, my backups will work, or I’m totally screwed. Mom called the insurance company to get the homeowner’s policy working. We should be reimbursed for the TV, the computer, some software (MS Office), and the front door. Meanwhile I had to stay up all night long to guard the house because we couldn’t close the busted door and no asshole would come install a new one! I sat up all night! A friend called me at 4 AM and we talked for an hour and a half, which was nice. Helped keep me awake. I talked with contractors and Home Depot, etc., yesterday morning and most couldn’t get to this EMERGENCY for another day or two, which wasn’t going to work for me, and the others wanted to charge like $800 plus parts. I found a contractor through Home Depot who charged me $350 for parts and labor, which is awesome. He did a good job too. I guess we won’t get a new TV or computer until next week, since we’ll be in Knoxville for Dad’s funeral for three days. Oh well. Guess we’ll read a lot. Still, we feel unsafe here. We feel violated. Gretchen wants a big dog and I want ADT — an alarm service, which statistically cuts down on breakins. We just can’t afford them right now. I may talk to Mom about it and we may get one anyway. It’s that necessary. We live in a fairly decent neighborhood, but there is so much crime here, it’s not funny. And this robbery was in broad daylight! How brazen. You’d think a neighbor would hear our door being kicked down.

So, what’s next? That’s my big question. Things come in threes. We’ve had Dad’s death last week, our house robbed this week. What’s going to happen next week? Gretchen wants to do a house cleansing. I’m not opposed to the idea, although I don’t know how helpful it would be. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers these days. It’s pretty rough.

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First Sunday Without Dad

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 4, 2013

My father was a retired minister. 53 years. Presbyterian. I’ve never known him to miss a Sunday in church. Today will be my first Sunday in my life where Dad wasn’t at church. It’s a little distressing. The shock of his death Tuesday has lessened to some degree, but since it was so unexpected, there still is some shock. I hope Mom will hold up well in church today. I’m no longer Presbyterian; I’m Episcopalian. We invited her to go to church with us, but she’s going to go to their church, where she has some friends. I know she would prefer to be at Cedar Springs Presbyterian up in Knoxville where the funeral will be this Friday. That’s where most of her friends are. But I guess (and hope) she’ll make do. It’s just weird knowing Dad will never preach again, never sing hymns off tune (he was tone deaf), never pray, never serve or take communion. It’s a bit surreal, to be honest. I would give anything for him to be in church, which is saying something since I didn’t go to church for 20 years. I’ll say a prayer for him today in church, and hopefully others will too. Mom’s been having a really hard time. She’s really stressed out and feeling overwhelmed with everything that has to be done, as well as missing him terribly, obviously. We’ve been eating with her every day and I went to Knoxville on Friday to meet with the pastor and funeral director with her. Going up again on Tuesday. We’re going to be with her every day next week, which is a bit daunting because I like my privacy, but she needs company right now, so there you have it. Meanwhile, I really miss Dad. I miss his advice, I miss his emails, I miss his corny jokes, I miss him helping around our house, I even miss worrying about his health. Now I won’t ever have to again. His obituary was online in yesterday’s Knoxville News-Sentinel and today’s Chattanooga Times Free Press. It was weird to see. I used to write obituaries for a small Georgia newspaper years ago. It’s weird seeing his. My cousin, Jane, wrote a nice poem about him. She’s going to read it at the funeral. My wife also wrote a great poem about him, and I’m going to read it at the funeral too, since she thinks she’d get too shaken up while reading it.

My mother has been deluged by cards from all over, which has been nice for her. I’ve even gotten a few. I’ve also gotten about 100 emails, most of which I’ve tried to share with my computer illiterate mother. There are going to be flowers, I guess, but we’ve asked that donations instead be made to Mission India, a cause Dad supported ever since he went to minister in India years ago and was touched by what he encountered there.

I guess I better start getting ready for church. Today’s going to feel really strange. I miss my father.

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