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More Ace

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 27, 2015

Well, Ace had his first birthday on Tuesday and it was pretty good. I went to PetSmart and found several brands of chicken flavored pate cat food (that’s all Henry and Ace will eat — they’re so spoiled) and got three for each. I got some treats. And I got some fun toys, including a catnip ball. I wanted to get birthday party hats to put on their heads, but not only didn’t the store have any, but they didn’t even have ANY hats for any pets!!! Last year we went there for Halloween and there were lots of pet hats. I thought they just carried them. I was wrong and very disappointed.

Ace, Henry and I hung out until Gretchen got home. Then it was time to feed them. We chose some new food for each and Gretchen put a birthday candle into Ace’s pate and lit it. I held him close to it as we sang Happy Birthday, which Gretchen video’d. I think the fire actually scared Ace, so then we felt bad, but after we gave them their food, we discovered that I’d gotten good brands because they really dug in and went for it. They can be very picky, so that was good.

After dinner, we broke open the treats and I kind of held my breath. I’ve never had good luck with cat treats. None of my cats have ever cared for them, especially Henry. I can’t remember the name of this brand, but both cats seemed to really like it and they munched out. It made me quite happy.

Then we opened some toys. The catnip ball was a big hit with both, although Ace, the alpha cat, ended up with it for the majority of the evening. He really liked playing with it. And when it ended up underneath our living room sofa, we tried to clean out everything underneath it and discovered a ton of toys under there, so he pretty much OD’d on cat toys. Henry liked it too, but he’s not as into it as Ace. All in all, a pretty successful first birthday. Henry’s tenth birthday will be coming up at Halloween. Boy, that’s hard to believe! I still remember getting him when he was a teeny little kitten. He was so tiny. He’s sure not anymore. Heh. Here are some more recent pictures of Ace.

Ace asleep on Gretchen

Ace asleep on Gretchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace looking cute

Ace looking cute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace asleep in Gretchen's arms

Ace asleep in Gretchen’s arms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace on his birthday

Ace on his birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ace’s Birthday

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 24, 2015

Today is our kitten, Ace’s, first birthday. It’s really hard to believe. He’s grown so much. Yet he still behaves like a kitten and still kind of looks like a kitten, especially compared to our older, bigger cat Henry.

Henry has always been “my” cat. He’s always been loyal to me. He likes/loves Gretchen, but after Toby died in February 2014, she really wanted her own pet. At first, she wanted a dog, which I wasn’t in favor of, because at heart she’s a dog person. So last summer and fall, we looked for a dog. We ultimately thought we had found one and she talked me into agreeing to adopt it. A week later, we went to the shelter to get it, only to find it had already been adopted. Gretchen was very disappointed. Finally, last November, on the day after Thanksgiving, the local shelter was having a day where they were giving away free adoptions. Gretchen wanted to go look. Apparently, so did the whole county. Parking was at a premium and the place was packed. We decided to look at cats first. We thought it’d be easier to get another cat, a companion for Henry, and they’re easier to care for. And then Gretchen saw. Ace was a scrawny little kitten in a room with a lot of brothers and sisters. He was a little tabby, just like Toby had been. And she claims she knew. She found an employee and asked to see him, so we were given a private room and were given “Twinkles” to play with. Twinkles is oh so not a little boy cat’s name. He was cute and very affectionate. He was fixed. He had had his shots. I wasn’t completely sold, but Gretchen was, so we filled out the paperwork and stood in line for what seemed like hours before we got him and took him home.

Gretchen wanted a new name. We talked about several possibilities, but she came up with “Ace,” which I thought was the most stupid name I had heard. But that’s what she wanted, so that’s what she got. And I couldn’t remember the cat’s name. I’ve been calling him Toby ever since, because he reminds me of Toby when he was a kitten. We let him out in Henry’s presence and while Henry wasn’t thrilled to have another cat around, they each survived the encounter and soon Gretchen was cuddling with Ace. We took him to our vet, got him some kitten food, which Henry tried to eat, and took lots of pictures. Gretchen wanted to bond with Ace, wanted to make him “her” cat, so she forbade me from bonding with him, much to my amusement. As some of you know, I’m on disability, so I’m home during the day while Gretchen works. Ace we now know is a co-dependent cat and while he was getting a lot of affection from Gretchen while she was home, he’d jump up on my lap during the afternoons and I’d have to kick him off. Very sad. He liked to jump up on our chests and lie right under our chins. It was both very odd and very cute.

Ace was three pounds when we got him. And much to our surprise, we found out he was four months old! His birthday was apparently August 24, 2014. So today is his first birthday. Ace turned into a frisky cat. Very energetic. At first, we worried that Henry, who was fairly alpha with Toby, would beat him up. Boy, we were wrong about that. Within days, our three pound kitten was attacking our 15 pound eight year old Henry, terrorizing him and chasing him around the house, causing him to hiss constantly. Henry didn’t know what to do. Ace was always jumping him no matter where he went. He stalked him. He jumped on his back. He attacked his feet. He bit him, clawed him, went after him. I had had kittens before, most recently Toby, so I knew what to expect, but Gretchen had never had a kitten, so this was all a new experience for her.

I knew Ace would start tearing our furniture up pretty soon. I didn’t count on the drapes too. And he did. Toby ripped the hell out of a nice leather chair I had. He destroyed most of my furniture when he was a kitten. Before I got him de-clawed. I’ve gotten every cat I’ve ever had de-clawed. I know it’s a little controversial now, but all of my cats are indoor cats and I value my furniture and stuff too much, as well as my skin, to allow my cats to retain their front claws. Besides, from all I know about it, when they have it done before six months, it’s not too painful, they recover very quickly, and they don’t really remember it as they age. And they don’t really miss their claws. I couldn’t wait to get Ace de-clawed. But Gretchen was kind of nervous about the topic. She had never had to go through this before. It wasn’t until we got some new furniture that was pretty expensive that he started to sink his claws into, as well as all of the older furniture he was ripping up, that she agreed it needed to be done. So I made an appointment. And then we canceled it. Felt too guilty. Yet two weeks later, we made another. He was just so bad. He was six months old, and the window of opportunity was slipping away. So I took him to the vet. Gretchen was terrified. He was away from us for about four days and Gretchen was in agony the whole time. But I knew he’d be okay. Been there, done that. When he got home, it took about a day before he was back to normal. We had bought him a three story cat condo so he could sit and look out the window and within a day, he was jumping up and down from it. So, good decision and one we’ve never regretted. And Henry’s grateful too.

Christmas was an interesting experience. Everything was new for Ace and it was so cute to see him exploring the tree and the ornaments and the presents. Of course, he tried to demolish everything, so we had to get a big baby gate and put it around the tree, which made it look stupid, but it worked, so everything worked out well.

Ace had to go back to the vet several times for shots. He grew to not like going to the vet. Heh. By this time, he and Gretchen had really bonded and on weekends, he stuck to her like glue. He likes to lie on her all weekend long, on her chest, and she can’t get anything done. She both likes it and it irritates her. I like to remind her this is exactly what she wanted. LOL! And by now, it’s okay for him to get up on me, but he doesn’t usually do it. Normally, in the late afternoons, he’ll come hang out with me for awhile, which is nice, but when Gretchen gets home, he jumps up and goes to the door to wait to see her come in. It’s cute.

Ace used to eat everything. He ate, not only meat, but vegetables too. He loved beans, broccoli, mashed cauliflower, which he still loves, and other things like cheese. He’s gotten more picky recently, which we can’t figure out, but he still likes to sit with us at the table for dinner. Dad never liked that when our pets did this and he’d be rolling over in his grave if he could see this, cause Henry gets up on a chair with us too, but it’s okay. They’re part of the family.

Ace is doing better with Henry lately. He doesn’t attack him as much. Of course, we’ve tried to minimize that. And Henry isn’t hissing as much. In fact, they often sleep on the same bed during the day, which is cute. Ace has really become part of the family. Our only concern is that he’s such a social cat, such a people person, so co-dependent, that we worry that we can’t really go anywhere for any stretch of time. We don’t feel comfortable boarding him. We had a cat sitter come over for a half hour a day when we were on vacation when it was just Henry by himself, but I really don’t think that would work with Ace. Gretchen really misses her family in Maryland and is hoping to get back up there for Thanksgiving and we’ve been talking about options. Obviously, I’d like to join her for travel and to see her family too, but we don’t think Ace could handle it, so I’m probably going to stay home with the cats and take care of them while Gretchen goes by herself. Can you believe it? Isn’t that crazy? Still, it seems like the best and only viable option and unless and until we can break Ace of this co-dependence, I don’t see anyway around it.

I’m going to post some pictures in honor of Ace’s birthday, but they’re old. I have more recent ones, but I can’t post them because I have a new phone and I’ve emailed them to myself at every email address I have and none of them have shown up, for two days. I don’t know what’s wrong with my phone — it appears to be emailing them with no problem — but something’s obviously off. So, here are some older pictures. Ace is now almost 10 pounds. He’s really grown. He’s still cute though. Happy Birthday, Ace!

Ace, 12/24/14

Ace, 12/24/14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henry and Ace, 3/7/15

Henry and Ace, 3/7/15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace, back from the vet, March 2015

Ace, back from the vet, March 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace 3/21/15

Ace 3/21/15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace 3/23/15

Ace 3/23/15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cursed?

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 15, 2015

Weird things have been happening to my mother and to us over the past few months. Check it out.

Mom had her taxes done. She owed over $10,000 in taxes! Never owed anything like that in her life. She lives on Social Security, for God’s sake! She wasn’t real happy about that. Then, last week, she backed her car through her garage door and had to have a new garage door put in. To make matters worse, last week she also fell on her driveway and broke her wrist and cut up her arm pretty bad, necessitating stitches. She also thought she had gotten a concussion, but it doesn’t look like it. She’s having a hard time with this, just in terms of getting dressed, etc. Then yesterday, she was sitting in her living room when her neighbor was having a tree cut down and those assholes cut the tree so that it fell right on to her roof! It cut a hole in her roof, knocked down her gutter, and demolished her patio furniture. Sounds like a curse to me….

Then there’s us. I keep having severe insomnia problems. Yesterday morning, I was up at 1:30. This morning, it was 2:30. It gets very tiring. I also still have my head pain. The medication I take for it is only doing a so so job. I’m a little disappointed, especially since we doubled the dose in the hopes of improving its effectiveness. Of course, we got hit with our own tax burden a few months ago. That was an unpleasant surprise. Then there was the Obamacare disaster, when they claimed we hadn’t provided them with requested info — which they had never requested — so they were eliminating various tax subsidies and raising our premiums. They also switched policies on us without telling us, putting us from a no deductible policy to a high deductible policy. Gee, thanks. By this point, however, I was already on Medicare, so I dropped out. But Medicare has its own costs, especially the Part D prescription costs. Last month, I spent over $2,000 on prescriptions! And I don’t have it to spend on that. Then there was the major expense of having a huge dead tree in the back yard cut down, as it was leaning over the house and we were worried it would collapse and demolish the house at any time. That was $2,700. And finally there was this disaster of this past weekend with our worry about the government sticking it to us about the assistance we had received formerly and our now having to pay them back over the next five years. It all really, really sucks.

So do we and Mom need exorcisms? Mom’s a Bible thumper and gets her houses blessed when she moves into them, so I wouldn’t think so with her. I guess these are just unpleasant parts of life. Curses? Probably not, although it sometimes seems that way. I would, however, like to know when life is going to ease up on us. It’s been hard going lately.

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New Floors!

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 13, 2015

So after much aggravation, we finally have some new floors!

In early January, we started researching this and settled on a place that seemed fairly reliable and had a good selection. We wanted a new kitchen floor for the first thing (well, my wife did) and we (I) wanted hardwood floors to replace our carpet throughout much of the rest of the house. The question was just how much. That question was answered two ways. One, we found out we would be put out for several days — we and our cats — with the contractors having to move all of the furniture, including the beds, etc., and that didn’t jibe with us. So we eliminated the three upstairs bedrooms. That left the dining room, living room, foyer, and hallway. So the question remained, what about the downstairs? We have a smallish den, a laundry room, which we didn’t want touched, and our office, as well as the stairs. Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized what a massive hassle it would be to pack up the permanently messy office. It would even be a minor hassle to pack up the den. But we were still open. Until we got the prices. We decided on a pretty LVT kitchen floor that was pretty reasonable. They said they could get it done in one day. And we took some wood samples home to look at, including cherry, but they were too dark for me, so I begged Gretchen to consider something lighter. We had really light wood in our old house and I thought that might be too light for this house, but our living room is pretty dark here and I thought the cherry might make for a pretty depressing room, so I asked for something in between. And we found a nice one, oak I think, with a nice texture at a somewhat reasonable cost. We asked for estimates on the upstairs and the downstairs too, including the stairs. Well, we found out we could afford the upstairs, but the downstairs was a little too rich for our blood and they wanted to charge $2,000 to do the stairs alone!!! That’s crazy! So we decided on the upstairs. They said we’d have to paint our own trim, but I said no way, they’d have to do it or no deal, so they agreed. And they were supposed to start on that this past Tuesday. It was supposed to take two days. The project manager had recommended a floating wood solution, as opposed to a glued down wood, for various reasons, so that’s what we went with. And things went downhill from there.

On the day the contractors were to show up to do the kitchen, they didn’t show up. At all. After awhile, I called the folksy saleswoman who had pre-charged us thousands of dollars and told us we had paid for “everything” then and she looked into it and said there had been a misunderstanding and they wouldn’t be coming that day, they’d be coming the next. I wasn’t happy. I told her. The next day they showed up and after several hours of work, it became apparent that they didn’t have enough materials with them to finish the job. And the warehouse they came from didn’t have more. They’d have to order more from the actual plant. I called the saleswoman and let her have it. She said she’d call the plant and would have the materials overnighted to her and they’d be there mid-morning the next day. So these guys showed up the next day and finished up and even though we were ticked, we were pleased with the finished product and thought the floor looked good. Still, we were apprehensive about the hardwood floor installation.

That was last month. On Tuesday, these same contractors showed up to install the hardwood. It was really difficult for me because that meant I’d be trapped downstairs with two ticked off cats for a couple of days with a lot of noise overhead. I have severe insomnia and depend on naps to survive and I wouldn’t be getting any, so that was frustrating too. Well, they moved furniture around and took up carpet and started laying wood in the living room and then called the project manager in to talk to me. Turns out they said the floor had dips in it. Major dips. They said many houses had dips, but they were usually a quarter inch — ours were an inch. They said they often put a cardboard box in the dip and that works. They said they’d tried three with ours and that didn’t work, so they didn’t feel comfortable laying our floor and said we’d have to do something different. We’d have to get a leveler and get it laid overnight. Then the contractors would have to glue the wood to the floor. This, of course, would cost a whole lot more. I wasn’t happy and when I contacted my wife, she was livid. She felt like it was a bait and switch and I felt similarly. So we had to wait until the saleswoman called me with the figures and I laid into her and she said we didn’t have to do this at all, but it was obvious we did, so I ok’d it at an additional cost, part of which I had to prepay. Then the contractors went to get the leveler, came back, started spreading it around the floor, and left it to dry overnight, which meant we had to leave the cats downstairs all night and which also meant this two day operation was now going to be a three day operation.

On Wednesday, they returned anxious to lay wood. And boy, they did. The cats and I were downstairs and could hear them going to town. At the end of the day, they had done the living room and dining room. We still couldn’t let the cats up though, because all of the furniture was scattered everywhere and we knew we’d never be able to catch them to put them downstairs the next day when the contractors returned. So they stayed downstairs another night.

Remember when I said the saleswoman said we had paid for everything? Not true. When I was talking with her on the phone, she said I’d have to pay the project manager for installation. I asked her what she was talking about. She asked if I’d gotten his quote. I said I thought I had, yes. But I reminded her I had paid for everything up front and she had told us so. “Oh no sir, you did not,” she told me. She said I’d just paid for materials and I still owed many thousands of dollars in installation charges. This was devastating news. Devastating. We have a limited budget. Damn, I mean come on! When you told us we paid for everything, we thought you meant everything, not just part of everything. My wife was livid and I wasn’t far behind her. I said so this is going to be a “X” amount deal, is that right? She added things up and said, no, it’d be less than that, but it’d still be thousands more than I’d allocated for it. Shit!

Well, the contractors showed up yesterday to finish up. They had the painting to do, the foyer and hallway, the quarter rounds (whatever those are), and then cleaning up and moving the furniture back. They finished up late in the afternoon and the project manager came back to give me his bill. He was nice enough, I guess, not to charge me for the painting, which was a decent savings. I still had to pay thousands though. Still, after they left, I just walked around and admired. It looked like they did a really good job. It looked really nice. The living room actually looked bigger. I took my shoes off and wandered around barefoot. I opened up the door to the downstairs and let the cats up. They were elated to be upstairs again, but tread cautiously. They weren’t sure what to think, especially Ace, who’d never seen a wood floor before. When Gretchen got home, she seemed to like it too. So we’re done with that chapter. Now we’re thinking of getting a large carpet for the living room. Why? I’m not sure. It just seems to be the thing to do. Anyway, I’m going to post some pictures for you to see. Cheers!

Kitchen floor

Kitchen floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hallway floor

Hallway floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foyer

Foyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Room

Living Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dining room floor

Dining room floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2014 in Review

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2014

At the end of the past two years, I believe, I’ve written about what took place during that year, so I’m doing so again. Here’s the synopsis, as best my memory can recollect.

In January, my mother celebrated her 84th birthday, so we spent a little time with her. The month was otherwise uneventful.

In February, we put our old house on the market and moved to our new house. We’re pretty grateful for the trade. Our old house was in what looked like a nice neighborhood, but it was actually nearly a ghetto. It was very loud and had a lot of crime. Now, we’re up on top of a mountain in a quiet neighborhood with no crime. We feel good about that.

February also saw the death of our beloved cat Toby. He was only six and it didn’t seem fair. He essentially died of kidney failure, although we sadly had to put him to sleep (which seems to me to be a pansy way of saying we killed him). We had him cremated and keep his ashes with my late cat Rocky’s ashes. We still miss Toby a lot.

We also got a membership to a good shooting range in February and have enjoyed that a lot.

March was pretty uneventful.

In April, I got a new car. I traded in my lemon BMW 530i for a 2011 Toyota Camry and couldn’t be happier. I found it on Autotrader at a dealer in Atlanta and went down there, beat someone else coming to buy it — barely — test drove it, and left with it to come home. It’s been a great car.

Sometime around April also saw the return of my head pain that I’ve had since 2010. I have trigeminal neuralgia, so I have to take a lot of pain pills and have had a number of procedures to try and combat it.

Additionally, Gretchen’s birthday is in April, so we went up to Baltimore to celebrate it with her friends and family. We had a very good time. It was great to see everyone and we got to go to an Orioles game, a museum, some good restaurants and even saw some friends in Virginia on the way.

Finally, we celebrated our one year anniversary in April. It was pretty low key, but we had a good time remembering our wedding and honeymoon to the beach the year before.

In May, I got a SCCY CPX-1 9 mm through an online auction site for a very good price and a Beretta PX4 Storm at a gun show. Neither gun has turned out to be my favorite — a Ruger SR9c is — but I was happy to have them. Meanwhile, Gretchen turned out to be a pro with our Marlin .22 rifle.

I believe it was May, too, when Mom moved from here back up to Knoxville, her old home. It was sad to see her go, but it was good for her to be back with her many friends and at her old church, which she had missed. She got a nice one level condo and is living on her own. We do worry about her though.

In June, we thought we had a buyer for our old house, finally. We had had to lower the price three times and it was going for practically nothing. We were about to take an $18,000 loss on it. However, the financing for this buyer fell through, so we were back at square one.

In June, I also had a disability hearing. It was my second time in court for it and I was denied for the fourth time. However, my lawyer appealed. And the judge left open the chance that he might rule in my favor if my orthopedist provided appropriate information.

July was the one year anniversary of my father’s death. That was very sad. We went to visit his gravestone in the cemetery where he’s buried in Knoxville. In July, I also had the first of three neurological procedures for my head pain. It didn’t really work, so that was disappointing.

We also had a new buyer for our old home in July. They were doing FHA financing though, so it would take awhile. They agreed to buy the house at very nearly the price we were asking. The closing was set for October.

I think August was pretty uneventful. I had been doing a lot of traveling back and forth between Chattanooga and Knoxville to help Mom out with things. That got old. We also started looking for a new church, even though I was on the vestry of our old church. It was simply too small and too old. We were the youngest people there and people were dying off and no one new was joining. It was a dying church. So we started going to other Episcopal churches, as well as Methodist and Presbyterian.

In September, I celebrated my 48th birthday and tried not to get too depressed.

During that month, I also had two more surgical procedures for my head pain, but neither helped. It was discouraging.

October came around and the financing for our house’s buyer fell through the day before the closing. We were livid and so were they. However, our realtor worked the phones and found a new lender within two days, so they were approved and a new closing was set for about two weeks away.

I also had my third court hearing for my disability. My lawyers prepared me for disappointment. They said everything would hinge on what the medical expert would say and they didn’t expect much. When the judge started questioning the expert, though, I was shocked to hear him say my back was too bad to work and that, combined with my trigeminal neuralgia and other assorted things, meant I couldn’t work at all. So the judge finally ruled in my favor and I got disability. I was shocked and elated, because I had been trying for this for over three years and now finally I got it.

During this time, my insomnia had gotten worse and I was consistently getting up between 2 and 3:30 AM, which was frustrating.

We did something pretty fun in October. For my birthday, Gretchen got me Penguins tickets to go see them play the Predators in Nashville. So we went up there, went to Bridgestone Arena, which was nice, and saw the Pens win 3-0. It was very fun and we had a great time. We also had a fantastic meal at a nearby restaurant before the game. Oh, and there were a ton of Pens fans there too!

October is also the month for Halloween. We never had kids come to our house at our old place, but we had about 25 kids come to our new house, so we were tickled about that.

In November, we traveled to Saint Simons Island GA, where I used to live, to go to the beach and take a nice vacation. The weather was still good and we had a nice time. We also went to Savannah and Jekyll Island. It was a great vacation.

In November, we also finally sold our old house and with the money I was able to pay off all of my old student loans, which was a sizable sum, so that was great. However, we discovered a water leak in the kitchen the day before the closing. The buyers still bought the home, but we went through a nightmare getting repairs to the floors and cabinets done while these people got impatient waiting to move in. I don’t blame them, but they drove me nuts.

Additionally, we had a new addition to the family this month. Ace, a three month old tabby cat, joined, per Gretchen’s strong wishes. He’s a bundle of energy, but he’s been fun.

This month, in December, I finally got my disability award letter and a lump sum for my back pay. I also got my Medicare card, even though I’m retaining my Obamacare insurance cause it’s frankly better.

We also found a new church we’re joining next week. It’s Rivermont Presbyterian Church, which is a UPUSA church. It’s bigger with more people of all ages and has a number of Sunday Schools to attend, so we’re excited.

We celebrated Christmas last week and had a great holiday season. We sent and got a lot of cards and exchanged some great gifts and had a good time. Of course it’s also bowl month, so that’s good.

In sports, my Steelers have made the playoffs, so I have big hopes for them. My Pirates made the playoffs for the second year in a row, but didn’t get anywhere. There’s always next year, right? My Penguins made the playoffs, but got bounced out in the second round by the Rangers, so that was disappointing. They’re playing now and even though they have a TON of injuries, they’re still having a good season. Meanwhile my Vols made a bowl game for the first time in four years and they’ll be playing Iowa on January 2. I’m hoping for a win.

So, it was an up and down year. I still have head pain. I still have insomnia. Gretchen was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and lupus. That’s bad. But we got a new house, a new car, paid off my student loans, and I got disability, so that’s all good. We’re hoping for a great 2015 and we hope all of you have a great 2015 too. Cheers!

 

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A Follow Up

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 9, 2014

Well, I had my surgery yesterday. It was my third in the last four months. I guess it went okay. Although it’s taking awhile for me to recover. I’ve gotten really woozy, very dizzy, and have had a sore jaw and a real headache — very bad — ever since waking from the anesthesia. At least this time, the anesthesia worked. I don’t have high hopes for this, although my wife does, but who knows? It might work out. It might help my pain. I sure hope so.

As a follow up to my last post about our old house, it was a disaster! I wrote about the flooring specialist and said it can’t be too bad. I was wrong. He came in with a meter of some sort and found the kitchen floor and the eating area off the kitchen saturated. Then he found the hardwood floors in the dining and living rooms also saturated! I didn’t believe him. Then he went to the giant den, which had no water exposure, and claimed it too was saturated and I basically called him a liar to his face. But what could I do? I’m no expert. He climbed under the crawl space and took pictures, which told me nothing. And he recommended tearing up the kitchen and kitchen area floor and wood beneath it and replacing it, somehow drying out the hardwood floors (thank God we don’t have to rip those us!), and tearing up the carpet and carpet pad in the den and replacing them. Oh, he also insists we have to replace the cabinetry in the kitchen. Excuse me, but WTF???!!! The closing was that very day. What the hell were we supposed to do? I called regarding homeowners insurance to get the ball rolling on that while my realtor called the buyers’ realtor to explain the situation and see if they wanted to once again delay the closing or still go ahead with it. And to our relief, they still wanted to do it that day. Thank God! So, we set this flooring a**hole up with State Farm, who has been giving me nothing but grief ever since and things seem to be progressing. We went to the closing and met the buyers. They are from Haiti and seemed very nice. I hope they like living there. It was explained to them that the floor repairs could take anywhere from one to five weeks, and they seemed okay with that. Whew! We got a whole lot less than we should have gotten for it, a whole lot less than what we paid for it, a whole lot less than what we originally listed it for, but after having been on the market for so long, we were just glad to be rid of it. And guess what I did the following day? With some of the proceeds of the sale, I was able to pay of the entirety of my student loans! I’ve been paying on those for YEARS and still had many years and tens of thousands to go. What a relief to have that off my shoulders. The rest of the money went to my mother. Many thanks to her.

Meanwhile, Gretchen had a big doctor’s appointment on Tuesday and was diagnosed with probable fibromyalgia and possible lupus. She’s now taking medication for lupus and I don’t really know what they’re going to do about the fibromyalgia. Still, after searching for answers for a very long time, it’s good to finally know.

I guess that’s it for now. Isn’t that enough? Some good, some bad. Could be worse. I hope I recuperate fully soon, because I’m sick of feeling poorly. I hope this eliminates, or at least diminishes, my head pain. At least for a good, long while. Cheers!

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Miserable Week

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 1, 2014

It’s been a pretty tough week, although I’m going to start with last Friday night.

Last Friday night, at 10 PM before we went to bed, I opened the freezer door and discovered the entire thing was melted. We have a huge ice tray and it was full to the brim with melted ice — water — and water was everywhere, including leaking down into the fridge and down the fridge onto the floor beneath. We weren’t sure what to do. I’d never faced this before. I poured out the water and we mopped up the floor. We turned the temperature all the way up and hoped for the best. We thought about calling someone, but didn’t want to wait up til 1 AM for someone to arrive and til 3 for them to finish, so we left it til the morning.

In the morning, we checked and everything in the freezer had frozen over. Apparently, more water had leaked out, but then it all froze up and everything was iced over in the freezer. But at least it had stopped leaking. At 7:45 AM, I called an appliance repair place. They said they’d get here sometime in the morning. This was important, because we were expecting our friends, Chris and Stephanie and their two daughters, from out of state for a visit at lunchtime, so we wanted to get this out of the way. Well, 10 rolled around and then 10:30. I called for a status update. I was told it’d be a half hour. At 11:30 I called to tell them to cancel it and do it some other time, only to be told they were down the road and on their way. So “Serg” got here, looked at it for two minutes, and told us we needed a new ice maker and another part to the tune of $410. Yep. I wanted a working ice maker and didn’t want to go buy a new fridge, so I agreed and we arranged for someone to come this morning to install it. I had to pay half as a deposit that day, which I did.

The gang then arrived and we ate. They headed to a tourist attraction called Ruby Falls before we met them at the Tennessee Aquarium, which was really cool. Then we ate at a local restaurant called Food Works, which was really nice. Good times.

Sunday was pretty laid back, except I had to deal with the Steelers and the Pirates both losing, the day after the Vols lost. That sucked.

Monday I had an appointment with my pain management doctor. It was a follow up to my surgery of two weeks ago. The results have been disappointing and I’ve had significant pain every day for the past 10 days, so we scheduled yet another surgery for October 8th. This will be my third in four months. It’s getting old and it’s kind of depressing. I also don’t think it’s going to help. I have Trigeminal Neuralgia and most the the pain I’ve been getting has not been that type, so I fail to see how these surgeries will help me.

Then yesterday, just as I was getting ready to take a nap, since I had been up since 2 AM — I have bad insomnia — I got a call from the appliance repair place. They said they were on their way. I said they weren’t scheduled until today and they said I was scheduled yesterday. We argued back and forth before I gave in and said just come. They said they’d be there in under an hour. An hour and a half later, they hadn’t shown, so I called and they said they were just leaving a town about a half hour away. Then, 15 minutes later, they called and said they got the wrong part, could they come by late in the day. I told them, no, come by today at the scheduled time. Geez!

This morning I got a call from them telling me my part was on back order and that it’d be tomorrow. Then later I get a call telling me they have the part and that they’ll be in late tonight. Not this morning, as scheduled. By this time, my wife is livid and I’ve lost all confidence in these inept fools. Gretchen wanted me to cancel our appointment with them and I agreed, so I did, with no argument from the girl who answered the phone. Twenty minutes later, some idiot called to tell me he was on his way to my house with the parts.  I told him I had cancelled and he wanted to know why. I tried to explain, but he kept interrupting me and argued with me for five minutes about why I should not cancel.

Meanwhile, I had called the owner to request a refund and had left a voicemail. I took my nap. When I got up, I had numerous messages. One was from our realtor.  Our house we’re selling tomorrow had a bad leak in the kitchen under the sink and the floor was flooded! Damn! If it’s not one thing, it’s another. I called around to try and find a plumber, found one who could get right out there and called the realtor back, who had to be there to let him in, since I no longer have a key. Then another message was from the owner, insisting there had been a mixup and that I give him a chance and he guarantees he’ll do a great job and I’ll be fully satisfied. While I’m texting the realtor, the owner calls. I tell him to call me back in half an hour. I text my wife. We tentatively and a little grudgingly decide to give him a chance. He arrives at my house just as my realtor calls to tell me the plumber fixed the problem and the floors had been cleaned up, and the buyers had done their final walkthrough, but they found a problem with a part of the kitchen floor that they thought was soft that they want addressed, so I had to scramble to find a flooring expert to go over there to look at it. Gretchen found him for me. I just got a text from my realtor that they’re both going to be at the house first thing in the morning and I need to be there too. I hope nothing serious is wrong. The closing has to go through. There have already been two screwups. We can’t afford a third! Meanwhile, the appliance guy got the new ice maker in, but it’s not making ice. I’m hoping it just takes awhile. Does anyone know how long it takes before a new one starts working? I’m really stressed. Klonopin, take me away! At least, hopefully tomorrow we’ll sell our old house and get that out of our hair. It’s been a nightmare to get rid of and I can’t wait. Hopefully this floor situation won’t be too bad and hopefully the ice maker will start working. Surely this week can only get better, right?

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Reflections

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 14, 2014

Hi. It’s been awhile since I’ve actually written anything here, besides book reviews. Sorry. A lot has been going on. My mom moved from Chattanooga to Knoxville and we’ve been back and forth between the two cities a lot lately. In fact, we’ve seen my mom four of the past five weekends, which is more than we saw her when she lived here in Chattanooga.  It’s been very tiring.

A few weeks ago, we went to my high school class’s 30th reunion in Knoxville. It was pretty good, but a little odd too. So strange to see how people have changed, including me. We got a few good pics, had fun catching up with some people, and had a good time. It was nice to introduce my wife to my old classmates.

This month marks the five month anniversary of our cat Toby’s death. We miss him horribly and I wish he could have lived long enough to move to our new house with us. I’d love to see him running around here. Strangely, our other cat, Henry, has been doing some Toby-like things lately, like he’s channeling Toby. Very odd.

This month also marks the one year anniversary of my father’s death last year. He died mowing my yard and it was — and still is — a huge shock. There are so many things I wish I could have and would have told him and so many things I would like to tell him now. We really miss him. We’ve stopped at his gravestone in Knoxville a few times.

Meanwhile, I love my mother, but … she’s been driving me crazy ever since Dad died. She’s got a LOT of anxiety about a lot of things, which is somewhat understandable, but she calls me all the time. Like 6-18 times a day! She’s gotten better over the past few weeks, but the damage has been done. Now when she calls, I just sigh and pick up the phone. It’s hard. She’s changed a lot. She’s not the mom I grew up knowing and loving. She’s become extremely ADD and OCD, and that makes things difficult. And she refuses to acknowledge such things. I also got her to get Life Alert because she’s elderly and living alone. But she refuses to wear the necklace! She says she doesn’t like it and it’s “psychological.” But why is she paying $70 a month for a service she doesn’t use??? And last weekend, she fell down our stairs. She’s very lucky she didn’t get hurt. What would happen if she fell at her new place? She would not have us to help her. That’s what Life Alert is for! I don’t understand why she doesn’t get it, why she’s being so damn stubborn.

Anyway, this month also marks the six month anniversary of getting my new car. I still love my Camry. It’s so much better than my money pit BMW was. I’ve put 4,000 miles on it, mostly driving back and forth between Chattanooga and Knoxville, and that annoys me some. I don’t like to put miles on my cars. Still, it’s a great ride and I got a great deal on it and I’m very happy with it.

When health permits, my wife and I like to go to the shooting range. We have a .22 rifle we both like to shoot and my wife is quite good with it. We also have other guns we enjoy shooting, among them a Ruger 9 mm, a Glock 23, a Beretta PX4 Storm, a Ruger .22, a S&W Bodyguard, a SCCY 9 mm, and a Taurus revolver. Among others. I’m pretty good with the Ruger 9 mm, but need to work on the others. I think I’m going to really like the SCCY. It’s new and I think it’s going to be pretty good. I got a good deal on it on gunbroker.com.

I did something to my arm recently and have been having to go to physical therapy for it. It really hurts. It’s probably just tendinitis, but it’s bad. Meanwhile, my wife has a severe case of poison ivy. It’s all over and it’s tormenting her. I feel really bad for her. We need to find the plants she touched and get rid of them, but neither of us are that good at identifying poison ivy.

Oh, also, this month is our six month anniversary of moving into our new house! We love it here. It’s so much quieter and safer than our old place. We still haven’t gotten most of the pictures up, but we’re otherwise unpacked and we really like it. However, we can’t sell our old house. No one will buy it. No one is buying ANY house in our old neighborhood. We’ve lowered the price three times and have had two open houses, but nothing. We actually did get an offer a couple of months ago, but it fell through when their credit was damaged and they lost their loan. That sucked. It’s a nice house, but not in a very good area, so the property values suck and crime is bad. I wish we could sell it though. I’m sure there have to be people out there who would like it. It’s got character! It’s got a HUGE den and a HUGE kitchen and hardwood floors and a fireplace. Three beds, two baths, 2100 square feet, one level home. The yard isn’t that great though, and I think that’s probably hurting it. Oh well. Maybe one of these days….

As you know, I’ve really been enjoying reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books lately. They’re really enjoyable and he’s so witty. A lot of fun. I still like reading Philip K Dick too though. I haven’t read much nonfiction lately though, and I was doing a lot of that over the past couple of years. Maybe I got burned out on it, I don’t know. We have a great, huge used bookstore here where you can pick up six or seven books for $10. It’s great.

Election season is coming up and the two Republican candidates for Congress here are really going at it. The incumbent is an asshole Tea Party-type who is the angriest, most hateful person I’ve ever seen. We saw them debate on TV. The other guy is really young, but it seems he wants to work with everyone on issues, so I really hope he wins. Of course, I’m a Democrat, but here in Chattanooga, no Democrat ever has a chance at winning anything, so it’s really tough. I hate living in a Red state. I often wish I was back in L.A. My wife often wishes she was back in Maryland. Oh well.

I guess that’s it for now. We’re trying to get well. I’m trying to deal with my mother. Things go on. It’s a month of reflections. Thanks for joining me. Cheers!

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Depression

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 28, 2014

I think I’ve been in a deep depression since Toby’s death last month. And I think his death magnifies my father’s death last year. I should be feeling good, living in a nice, new house in a nice, quiet, safe neighborhood, but all I can think about is how Toby isn’t here and doesn’t get to see it and live in it and how Dad can’t experience it — he was a great handyman — and how he can’t help out around the house. It’s really disappointing and I’ve been struggling. My wife has commented on it. I don’t know how to snap out of it. Of course it’s not been helped by the poor, grey weather. That’s really been getting to me too. Years ago I was diagnosed with SAD — Seasonal Affective Disorder — but I’ve never been treated for it. Basically it’s getting deeply depressed due to extended poor weather, most common during the winter. I finally caved in and bought one of those lights for it. You’re supposed to be exposed to it for about an hour each morning, but I haven’t found or made that kind of time for it, so I don’t know that it’s doing any good. I’m spending about 20 minutes a day in front of it. I need to make a better effort. Meanwhile, I’ve been listless and I don’t care about a lot of the things I normally care about. Gretchen misses Toby and my dad too, but she only got to experience being with Toby for two and a half years. He spent his entire six years with me. I watched him grow from a demon imp kitten who I wanted to kill to a loveable, dependable companion cat whose company I really enjoyed. I/we really miss him. He had become Gretchen’s cat, so to speak, over the past few years. When she came home from work, he would jump up and go to greet her, just like a dog. I’m also having to deal with my mother, who I think has unresolved issues regarding Dad’s death and who is lonely and doesn’t know how to deal with many things, such as financial things. I’m having to help her a lot, but she calls me a lot and comes over and sometimes it’s a little overwhelming. She just bought a condo up in Knoxville and will be moving back up there in a little over a month, so that’s going to change the dynamics, but it will also be weird and I’m going to worry about her living alone at her age up there without me able to come over to help her with short notice. Additionally, my job situation hasn’t changed and our cash is starting to run low due to all we’ve paid out to contractors for new home repair issues — electricians, plumbers, appliance repairmen, handymen, etc. I’ve also had car issues and have had to pay some big bills for that, and I need a new oil pan gasket which, the dealer says, costs $1,700 alone just for the stupid part, never mind the labor costs. I’ve got a lot on my mind. I’ve got a lot going on. Things are starting to ease up now, which is good, but all I can feel is blah. I’ve had moments of happiness — time spent with my wife, time spent reading or going to the gun range for some target practice — but generally I just feel bad. And I don’t know how to fix it.

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The Lived In Look

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 21, 2014

Well, we’ve been living in our new house for exactly one month today and things are coming together. We’ve got just about all of the boxes unpacked, which is good, and most things have been put away. We still haven’t hung any pictures yet, though, but that’s the norm for me. It takes me awhile to hang pictures, mostly cause I hate putting holes in nice walls. So we have them stacked and lying about the house. I guess we’ll have to do it sometime.

We started out by meeting the neighbors across the street, who seem nice, and the neighbors on one side, who are nice, but we haven’t met anyone else yet. Gretchen has exchanged waves with the neighbor on the other side of us, but they haven’t come to greet us, so that’s that. I guess we’ll have to go introduce ourselves to them. Where I came from growing up, when someone moved into the neighborhood, you went and introduced yourself. I don’t like it when people don’t do that. In our last neighborhood, no one ever came by. I guess times have changed.

We’re really, really enjoying how quiet it is here and how peaceful it is. It’s also very private, particularly out back. That’s nice. We have a deck and a patio and when weather permits, we try to use both. The weather hasn’t been that great here though, although yesterday was nice. It’s also safe here, which has been important to us. People actually leave their garages open during the day! I would never do that! Everything’d get stolen from it in areas I’ve lived before. It’s a very nice change.

We’re almost done with contractors! I’ve got one here right now working on the screen door to the deck. Some more work needs to be done on the deck, and the floors squeak a bit too much, so we’d like to have that looked into, but otherwise most things have been taken care of. And let me tell you — it’s cost a pretty penny! Contractors aren’t cheap.

I’m going to post some requested photos of the place as it currently is (even messed up a little bit). It’s the “lived in” look. I hope you enjoy.

Our entryway

Our entryway

The entry leading into the living room

The entry leading into the living room

Living room. We're going to get more chairs.

Living room. We’re going to get more chairs.

Looking into the dining room

Looking into the dining room

Kitchen

Kitchen

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

Guest bedroom

Guest bedroom

Hall bathroom

Hall bathroom

The library

The library

Another view of the library

Another view of the library

Yet another view of the library

Yet another view of the library

The den

The den

Another view of the den

Another view of the den

Another den shot

Another den shot

Office

Office

Another view of the office

Another view of the office

Garage

Garage

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