hankrules2011

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Posts Tagged ‘love’

An Asheville Vacation – Photos

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 3, 2019

Hi. We rarely get to take vacations and especially with my health disintegrating over the past year and a half especially, let alone the past four plus years, it’s just very hard for me to travel. I mean physically painful. But we had a chance to take a few days and go somewhere and we never get to take vacations and frankly, this may be the last one we get to take, and Gretchen really deserved one after a hellish year and a half for her, so we debated between St Simons Island, my former home, or Asheville, an eclectic little place with great B&Bs that we really love. Gretchen chose Asheville. I actually didn’t want to go very much because I knew it would be grueling, but again, Gretchen deserved it, so I thought any sacrifice would be well worth it. And it was grueling, incredibly so. It took me a week to recover upon our return.

Anyway, I don’t have the time, energy, stamina or ability to write a full, comprehensive blog post, but while I didn’t take a million pics, I did get some decent ones, so this blog will basically be a photo blog post. I may follow up with a second one in the near future with some additional photos. I hope you all are doing well out there. If you’ve contacted me and not gotten a response, it’s truly not personal. I just have a ton on my plate and small windows of opportunity most days to get anything done.

 

Scott & Gretchen’s Asheville 2019 Vacation — Photos

 

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Republicans Can’t Be Christians — Sorry!

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 1, 2016

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-like-jesus-disciples_us_583e48d7e4b04fcaa4d5bd72?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-like-jesus-disciples_us_583e48d7e4b04fcaa4d5bd72?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

 

Oh, holy shit! If this doesn’t discredit ALL CHRISTIANS in everyone’s eyes, than what will? Trump a disciple of Jesus? Trump EVERY disciple of Jesus rolled into one? Are the Christians going totally insane now? At this point, with 81% of all white evangelicals having voted for Trump, it’s obvious to me that today’s Christians have sold out, have sold their souls to the Republican Party and to Fox News, do not care about Jesus or his teachings, especially about “love,” “the poor” and caring for them, loving your neighbor as yourself, treating everyone — including immigrants!!! — as equals (Remember the story of the Good Samaritan they always teach in church? Do the Christians ever learn anything from that, considering the Samaritan was from a group of unacceptable immigrant types Trump and his Christian/Republican friends would have thrown out of the country by now, showing their great Christian love and compassion?), about healing the sick — for free, dammit! — and healing the sick occurs a lot in the New Testament, but apparently Christians/Republicans must skip over those parts of the Bible … if they ever actually read their Bibles. What about believers of other religions? The Old Testament God would have had his Israelites go kill all of them. He was permanently pissed off, in a bad mood, and ready to kill everyone who was on his shit list. That’s why so many fundies like OT God. But see, I don’t believe in OT God. Not anymore. I was brought up to believe in him. I was brought up to “love” (hate) and fear (yep!) him. That’s how the “Church” controls you, controls the Christians in its clutches. But I threw that out the window decades ago. There’s no room in my life for brain washing, mind numbing, soul destroying bullshit like that. I feel that God, if there is a god — and I often wonder — created all people and if he does love people, he loves them all equally, no matter what their color, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else like that is. And I really think Jesus would support that. He said the most important commandment was to love your brother like yourself. He didn’t say white brother. He didn’t say straight brother. He didn’t say that person must definitely be a male. Yet, our wonderful Republican Christians pretty much hate all other religions, and if you go by Trump and his followers, and 81% of white Christians do, then they all hate Muslims especially, even though there are two billion of them in the world today. Hating two billion of God’s children is sure to make God proud of you, his personal representative on earth, showing the rest of us just how great it is to be a Christian and what a loving, tolerant religion it is. Not. Christians, I’m not convinced God would approve of you actively hating two billion of his children and acting to work against them in one way or another, at a minimum, to keep any of them from entering our country, a nation of immigrants, a nation where each and every one of our families have come from other countries through immigration, something we’re now trying to deny people of a different religion, and most of them a different ethnicity, just because they’re not white Christians and therefore not acceptable. I’m becoming more and more convinced that it is literally impossible to be a current Republican, especially a Trump Republican, and a true Christian at the same time. No true follower of Jesus and his teachings would ever endorse what Trump and the current Republican party stand for. They simply clash too much. Today’s Republicans stand for hatred, not love, helping the rich and hurting the poor, screwing the sick, starting or sustaining violence and wars, something Jesus symbolically taught Peter he wouldn’t have supported on the night of his arrest, Republican oppression of women, while it’s clear in the New Testament that some of the most important disciples to help Paul were women and the first people to be given knowledge and proof of a risen Jesus were women, Republican hatred, repression of and oppression of virtually all minorities, especially black people, while New Testament Christians had members of all races, including Jews, obviously, other Middle Easterners, Africans, Romans, Greeks and other Europeans, even Asians and apparently far Eastern people. Jesus welcomed people from all demographics. God made everyone, let’s not forget that. It seems that most of today’s Christians/Republicans have, unless he did it to create slaves for them? Cause I honestly don’t know what their thinking is regarding God’s motivation for creating minorities since they obviously hate, resent, repress, oppress, and abuse them so brutally and have for centuries. How do today’s Christians justify this? Cause I just read an article yesterday that basically said that it was white, rural, Christian, mostly poor voters who just put Trump in office, as well as many of these other Republican freaks who want to destroy the country and the world, and that pretty much every single one of them are white Christian racists, whether overt or not, as well as anti-education (did God tell us he wanted us to be stupid?), anti-“liberal,” (cause obviously *I’m* the bad guy here, right? Cause I’m an educated liberal “elite.” Shit. Pretty much every Republican political leader has an impressive college education. Trump has an Ivy League education!). But I’m getting off topic. Today’s Republicans can’t be Christians because they all want revenge and vengeance for everything. Long jail terms! Stiffer prison sentences! Three strikes! Death penalty! Hell yeah! Oh, what did the Bible say? Vengeance is mine says the Lord? Judge not lest ye be judged? I often wonder if today’s Christians have ever read the Bible. My bet is, maybe a few Psalms, some books of the Old Testament, cause God is pretty pissed there and a pissed God is pretty rad. Maybe a couple of key New Testament verses. Not much else. Of course they’ve all had Sodom and Gomorrah drilled into their heads all their lives, so they hate gays more than anything on earth, homosexuality, the controversial and debatable alleged sin in Sodom thought of as the abominable sin. But do they ever stop to think about how many times Jesus mentioned homosexuality in his teachings? Zero. Never. Paul did. A couple of times.Paul was somewhat sex obsessed. Paul had issues, IMO. Jesus never brought it up. Also, how many times did Jesus condemn abortion, the other major Christian topic of hatred? Zero. None. Never mentioned it. It is mentioned in the Bible, I believe, although I’m willing to be wrong on that, but the Jews had/have an interesting take on things like that and things like the question of when does life begin. Republican Christians have been fighting for decades to get the courts to make it the law of the land that life begins at conception. But that’s not what Jews God’s chosen people, believe. And remember, they base ALL of their religious/moral/ethical beliefs on what is written in the Torah/Old Testament, etc. Jews believe life does not begin until a baby is actually born, has come out of its mother’s body and has taken its first breath on its own. With that first breath on its own, life has then begun for that baby. And not a moment before. Think about that. Jesus wasn’t a Christian. They didn’t exist at the time, obviously, and he didn’t come to earth to start a new religion anyway. Paul founded the Christian religion, based in large part on the teachings of Jesus. But Jesus had nothing to do with it himself. He was a practicing Jew. He worshiped in the synagogue on Shabbat. Thus, he would have shared this belief. For Jesus, life would have begun at birth, not conception. Therefore, abortion is acceptable to Jews. It always has been. I’m no religious historian, but I’m under the impression that this stance dates back centuries, possibly and probably pre-dating Jesus. If so, he would have known of this Jewish stance on abortion and since he never once mentioned it or certainly spoke out on it, it’s safe to assume he agreed with it and endorsed it. My point is that at a minimum, topics like helping the poor (the most frequent topic Jesus ever spoke about), taking care of the sick and the helpless, healing others, PAYING TAXES!, praying, faith, giving one’s wealth, riches, and possessions away to follow God, having the right priorities, forgiveness, peace, doing away with religious hypocrites (like current Republican Christians), and compassion were all infinitely more important to him and his teachings and followers than trendy conservative Christian hot topics like homosexuality and abortion, as well as many other current Christian topics that I don’t think represent Jesus or his teachings.

An aside. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear some quote or two coming from that absolute insane “Christian” leader, Pat Robertson. I think if there was ever a famous public figure claiming to represent God in current times who consistently just gets it WRONG every single damn time, it’s him. For decades, he has advocated conspiracy theories of all types, no matter how crazy. He has called for our country to assassinate another countries’ leaders. (Seriously??? WWJD? Does he really think Jesus would approve of that? If so, why? Where in the Bible did he get that idea?)  He has called for violence against abortion doctors, for overt sustained discrimination against gays, crying out for Christian backlash to the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing gay marriage. He constantly makes pronouncements like God is going to destroy America because we allow homosexuals to marry or God’s going to allow one country or another to attack or invade America as a way of punishing us for our love of gays or every time there’s a natural disaster, such as Katrina, Robertson’s on TV announcing it’s God’s judgement on America for one sin or another and oh yeah, this is great, every time there’s a mass shooting, he’s right there on TV doing God’s will, blaming it on America’s failing morals, how we don’t pray in schools anymore – – I can see Republican God getting so pissed off at no prayer in schools that he sends gunmen to schools across America for mass shootings to pay back the damn liberals running this country, even though it’s a Republican Congress, a conservative Supreme Court, a mostly Republican country in terms of Red states and governors, etc. Yeah, it’s the damn liberals in charge. You know, the same ones who can never pass common sense gun laws that might stop these sorts of things and save dozens of lives because powerful groups like the Christian Republican NRA and its politicians all over the country constantly block any law of any sort from ever passing that would ever help save lives and stop mass shootings. Cause Republican Christians know that Jesus would undoubtedly carry an AR15 with him if he were around today. One of his dozens of guns he would own. The fact that he was unarmed while alive and told his followers to put their weapons away when he was threatened apparently is meaningless to these people. Jesus was not a passivist. He would kick ass and take names!  — Anyway, Robertson. An example to America, at least the rest of us, of what today’s Republican Christians are and have become over the years — crazy, violent, hateful, intolerant, bigoted, spiteful, vindictive, mean spirited, and someone who shows no desire to follow Jesus’s teachings to care for the poor, to feed them, to heal them, to care for them, cause Obamacare is obviously of the devil himself since a black Democratic president came up with it, even though it was originally inspired by rich, white, religious Republican governor with great success. That doesn’t matter, because the president who made it a national program and law is a Democrat and, even worse, black. Therefore, it’s evil and must be repealed. Even though it pretty much does what Jesus called for us to do. That’s secondary. There are more important things at stake here. To Robertson and his ilk.

Anyway, Jesus did mention feeding and caring for the poor dozens and dozens of times though. And he did mention how hard it would be for rich people to get into heaven. Like practically impossible. Which makes me feel pretty good about Trump’s ultimate destination. And Robertson. And all other well off Christian Republicans. Cause although they’re convinced they know where they’re going when they die, I’ve got a pretty good idea they’ll end up surprised. Cause I don’t view them as Christians. And I don’t think God does either. In the end, it will be Jesus who will say, “Get away from me. I don’t know you.” New Testament, by the way. In case you’re a Christian. I assume you haven’t read that part of the Bible, since it’s not about getting rich or hating people or attacking our enemies or hurting as many people as we can. Yay Christians! Yay Republicans! Enjoy each other’s company. In hell.

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My Fifth WordPress Anniversary

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 26, 2016

WordPress was kind enough to notify me a few days ago, on the 20th, that it was my my fifth anniversary with them, blogging away the whole time. It’s hard to believe. I had come over from Xanga, a blogging site I had been on since 2004 and one I loved desperately. It’s just that friends were leaving that site in droves — I didn’t know why, no one told me — and I felt like the site was going to hell, so while I didn’t delete my Xanga account, I started searching for a new blogging home. I had friends on this place, Blogger, and TypePad, but it was WordPress that really stood out for me, and besides, this online literary journal I had recently become poetry editor for had an account here, so I decided to open my new site here. I did and never looked back. My first posts were unusual and designed to introduce myself to new people, let people get to know me. I didn’t start writing book reviews until about three years ago or so. I wrote about writing, creative writing, sports, health, politics, publishing, published some memes, some lists of favorite books, songs, bands, etc., had quite a few posts which weren’t easy to categorize, etc. But then I started to find my niche with my book reviews, which, much to my surprise, became my blog posts with the most hits by far, as well as the most likes, and even the most comments, when I got any, which is rare. Since then, most of my posts have been book reviews — I published hundreds — interspersed with some sports posts, the occasional political or spiritual/religious post, an occasional creative writing post, some health posts, and a few others that are hard to categorize. But it’s the book reviews that people read. I’ve tried to figure that out but I guess it’s as simple as that’s what people want to read. That simple, right?

Well, anyway, in honor of my fifth anniversary on WordPress, I’m going to provide a link to my blog post from five years ago today: 20 Questions. I hope some of you find it interesting and enlightening. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m just going to post the whole blog post here. It’s short and probably easier than having to click on the link and go to another page. Remember, this is from June 26, 2011. Here it is:

 

20 Questions

Delete my answers and substitute your own. Enjoy!

I’ve come to realize that… I have taken far too many things for granted in my life, even when I thought I was not doing that. It’s a tragedy & I’m trying to remedy that.
Reconciliation is… ideal, but not always realistic. This is exactly the opposite of how I have felt my entire life, but I have wasted way too much time over the years trying to reconcile (or even simply remain on the same friendly terms…) with various people for various reasons and I can count on one hand quite easily the number of times it was worth the effort. Move on.
I talk… more than ever, if you can believe that. I have a lot to say. I spent the last 7+ years living with someone who really didn’t like to hear me talk much, but who preferred watching TV. Like 24/7. For years. Yeah, good times. I’ve got a lot to say and a lot stored up, so sorry….
I love… one special individual more than anyone I ever have at any time in my life, to a shockingly higher degree than I ever knew was even possible. Yeah, I admit it. I also dearly love my parents, my kitties, and several of my good friends who have stood by me over the years. My list of friends I “love” has diminished greatly over the past two years. Pity.
My best friend/s… are fewer than I thought in number, but are critically important to me and people I feel confident I’ll remain loyal to forever and who will be there for me forever. I’m blessed in this regard.
Love… is a newly important word to me, as most of my life it was largely an abstract concept, outside of my loving family. In my middle years, I have been blessed to discover what I now believe “love” is and is meant to be, and I had no freakin’ idea this was a possibility.
Marriage is… hit and miss. Usually a mistake. Usually entered into too soon and without sufficient forethought. A business partnership. Yeah, I’m jaded.
Somewhere, someone is thinking… “I wonder what that whining, bitchy drama queen Scott is going on about now.” Seriously. You think I’m joking….
I’ll always… remember times, places and the special people who have gone out of their way to save my ass in the biggest and worst of situations. Foremost among these are my parents and my best friend, Marcy. Emily, Jim & Eunice, Arnold & Sarah, and Ami have been there for me too. Many thanks.
I truly relax… nowhere. I stopped being able to relax years ago and now I no longer know how to, which is pathetic, and I even feel tremendous guilt if I even make an attempt to relax! Therapy is clearly in order.
My cell phone… is my life. I store everything in my iPhone. I’m not kidding. If that ever disappears, I’m more screwed than if my wallet disappears.
When I wake up in the morning… I now thank God for allowing me to see the sun rise once more, to be able to draw a breath, to have friends and family (and kitties) who love me. I no longer take these things for granted.
Before I go to bed… I talk to my special loved one for as long as possible in order to end each day on a positive, loving and blessed note.
Right now I am thinking… that I have a lot more to be grateful for than I – or most other people – would typically realize, looking at circumstances.
Babies… make me break out in hives. I’m horribly allergic to them. Always have been, always will be. I find them quite distressing.
I am committed to… doing everything possible to survive. And to love and live more strongly and sincerely than I ever have in my life before now.
I miss… my cat Rocky, who died in August 2007. I also miss seeing and hanging with my best friends back out west, including Marcy, Celeste, Marc, Emily and Rachel.
Tomorrow… is a hope and a goal, but not a guarantee.
I really want to be… healthy enough to live long enough to have a quasi-“normal” life and a happy one, to whatever degree that is possible.
I hate… people who don’t understand and who don’t even try to make a serious damn effort to understand.

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Pet Shop Boys Tickets!

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 13, 2016

Wednesday, my favorite DJ, Richard Blade, on my favorite radio station, SeriusXM’s First Wave, announced one of my very favorite groups would be going on a world tour and it had just been announced the day before. He read off some of the cities for where the Pet Shop Boys will be playing: four cities in the UK, followed by 11 cities in America, a few in Canada, a few in Europe, and Moscow. And he mentioned Nashville! God, my ears perked up when I heard that. The Pet Shop Boys just released a new album on April 1st and it went to the #1 album on Billboard’s Dance Charts, where it stayed for at least a month, and it was their 11th #1 album. I know it’s hard for a lot of people to believe, because many people think of them as an ’80s band, but seriously, they’re a hard working, successful band with a lot of hits to their credit.

I went to my computer and went to the band’s website. I found the tour page. There was Nashville. Friday, November 4th. I decided I had to go. Had to. Must. Once in a lifetime opportunity. They’re only going to four southern cities — two in Florida, Atlanta, and Nashville. It’s a must see show. Could I get tickets? That’s the question.

As I said, the Pet Shop Boys announced their new world tour, which went on sale Wednesday with VIP tickets, yesterday with pre-sale tickets, and today with tickets to the general public. With their new #1 album, the 11th of their career, they’re big time and I have virtually all of their albums and am excited as hell to see them. And even though they’re only coming to 11 American cities, Nashville is one of them, in November, as I said. So, yesterday, I camped out at my computer, determined to get pre-sale tickets. I wanted VIP tickets, but found out too late. Now ticket prices have really gone up over the years. Duran Duran, who I’m seeing by myself in July (because Gretchen hates them — LOL!) had their top tickets priced for resale on sites like StubHub at $900. That’s a lot. So, since Pet Shop Boys are technically more successful, I expected tickets to possibly be even more expensive than that, and was willing to pay a small fortune for good seats. For the record, Gretchen’s not a big fan of this band either, but since I went to see Barry Manilow with her, I guess she’d be returning the favor with this concert with me, or perhaps that’s how she sees it. So, I logged on yesterday morning and found my section, Orchestra Front, and looked at the prices and I was stunned! They were shockingly low. Like 20 years too low. No one sells concert tickets for that low anymore and certainly not big time artists with #1 albums. Stunned, I ordered two tickets and walked away with two good tickets in the fourth row, center, for under $200!!! OK, I literally thought I’d be asked to pay about $2600 for those kinds of tickets. Not that I would necessarily pay that, mind you. Just, that’s what I expected to see. So, now we’re going to see a great band with dozens of fantastic dance hits from tons of great albums for next to nothing and I’m so excited, I can barely stand it! I just want to go dancing in the streets, or at least jumping around. Gretchen will probably sulk, and I can’t blame her cause God knows I make her listen to a lot of that band, but she’s a gamer and I appreciate the sacrifice she’ll be making. I really do. True love.

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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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Weird Al Concert

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 9, 2015

Friday night was the Weird Al Yankovic concert in Knoxville. Back at the beginning of the year, I found out about it and bought tickets because my wife, Gretchen, is a HUGE fan. She knows all of his songs and all of the lyrics. When I told her about it, she was so excited and was disappointed she’d have to wait so long to see him. Well, the day finally arrived. Bear in mind that, for months, I’ve been having to deal with significant head and back pain. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have any. So I was concerned. And in fact, I had some. A lot. Gretchen said we didn’t have to go, but I had to, we had to, she had to see her show. So we left Chattanooga at 4:30 and made the two hour drive to Knoxville and checked into our hotel and got a bite to eat.

Let me interject. The day before the show, I got a voicemail from someone from CID Entertainment telling me I had bought the VIP package and I’d have to pick up my tickets, not at Will Call, but in a different building entirely. Additionally, there’d be gift bags and a party. I called the next day, the day of the show, to confirm this and indeed I had bought VIP tickets. No wonder they were so damn expensive. I just thought they were cause they were in the third row. Oh well. Sadly, we couldn’t make the party. We hadn’t known about it in time and just couldn’t make it. But we got our gift bags and got the tickets and we went into the Tennessee Theater, which is a beautiful theater where we had seen comedians and concerts before. The show was sold out. We got Gretchen a concert t-shirt and she was excited. Then we found our seats. They were aisle seats, which I normally like, but in this case, they weren’t that great, even though they were close to the stage. There was a huge screen as the backdrop and I could only see part of it because I was simply cut off from seeing the whole thing. Oh well.

The show began promptly at 8 PM. On the screen, Weird Al appeared. He was outside somewhere singing his hit, “Tacky.” He was walking and singing. Soon it appeared as though he were actually outside in Knoxville near the theater. Soon it became apparent he WAS and he was walking toward the entrance, singing, and soon he entered the theater and made his way into the theater from the back and came down the aisle before going up onto the stage, all the while on the screen. It was a pretty awesome entrance.

He sang several songs from his new album, Mandatory Fun, and then spent the rest of his time singing old favorites. I knew the newer stuff, as I have the album, but as I’ve never been a real fan, I didn’t know a lot of the older stuff, although Gretchen had played some of it for me, so I did recognize some of it. He came out for one encore and it was pretty great. The crowd went wild for him all night. The crowd was interesting in that there were people our age, young people, old people, teens, and little kids. A lot of little kids. And every single person there was a nerd. I’ve never been around so many nerds in my life. It was hilarious. After the show, I was still feeling pretty wretched, so we would normally have a drink or two, but we just went back to our hotel room and I passed out. Still, it was a good night and I’m glad we did it and Gretchen was really happy, so that made me happy. Here are some pictures.

 

Weird Al singing "Tacky"

Weird Al singing “Tacky”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Dare To Be Stupid"

Weird Al singing “Dare To Be Stupid”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Fat"

Weird Al singing “Fat”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "I Want To Be Your Lover"

Weird Al singing “I Want To Be Your Lover”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al going out into the crowd

Weird Al going out into the crowd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "Amish Paradise"

Weird Al singing “Amish Paradise”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Al singing "The Sage Begins"

Weird Al singing “The Sage Begins”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen wearing her new Weird Al concert t-shirt

Gretchen wearing her new Weird Al concert t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Mother

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 7, 2015

My mother drives me nuts. And I feel tremendously guilty in saying that. My mother and I have always had a good, close relationship. She was always there for me when I needed her. She was always very loving. When I lived out west in Phoenix and L.A. and things were tough, I could call her at any time of the day and she’d talk to me. When I decided to move back to Tennessee from L.A. during some tough times, she and Dad let me move in with them for awhile, with my cat, and they were not cat people. But she’s changed. And not for the better.

I never knew how much of a buffer Dad was for Mom. Dad spent a lot of time in his office and Mom spent a lot of time on the sofa in the living room, working on her puzzle books. But Dad died unexpectedly two years ago this month. And Mom was shocked and devastated. And then it began. I knew I’d have to be there for her and was totally willing. At the time, she lived near me in Hixson, TN, where they’d moved from Knoxville to be close to me. But she started calling me every day. A lot. Like 20-30 times a day. Too much. I thought it might be just for a couple of weeks. I was wrong. And it was for unnecessary stuff. Just cause she was lonely. And to a certain degree, I understood that. But she was also living on the phone, talking to all of her many hundreds of friends around the world, making dozens of calls a day and she would proudly tell me about all the people she had talked to that day. OK, so why talk to me so damn much then? I had to help her with Dad’s stuff and I had to go to Knoxville A  LOT to deal with the funeral, to deal with his accountant, attorney, financial planner, etc. It was a lot, and a lot of traveling and Mom loves to talk. It drove me nuts. I’m not big on talking. Meanwhile, she was continuing to call me, 20-25 times a day. I was losing my patience. I was starting to dread hearing my phone ring cause I knew it’d be her and I knew it’d be about nothing at all. Guess how many cards I got in the mail today? That sort of thing.

Time went on. She stopped getting cards. She got about 800. Literally. She stopped getting so many phone calls, although she still made them. But she didn’t stop calling me. I was starting to go insane. But she was also being generous with us. She wanted us to move, for one reason because we lived in a bad neighborhood which was increasingly dangerous and for another reason, to be closer to her. So she helped us buy a new house about 10 minutes from her that was a lot nicer in a safe, quiet neighborhood and we owe her on that. Still, she called. However, she was down to 15-20 calls a day now. By this time, however, the damage had been done. I was over talking to her. I had had enough. The irony of her helping us with this house was that she decided to move back to Knoxville to be with all of her friends and to go back to her old church! So she found a condo up there, put her house here up for sale, and moved a couple of months later. And while the visits to our house would stop, I knew the calls wouldn’t. And they didn’t. She liked her new condo and while she was busy with her friends doing lunch and going out to dinner, she was and is lonely at night. She really misses Dad, still. So she calls me. Still. I’ve had talks with her. I’ve told her she calls me too often. I’ve told her she doesn’t need to call me whenever something pops into her head that she wants to tell me about. That she can save it up for a lunch call and a post-dinner call. And for awhile, she tries that. And then she’ll start calling me at 8 or 9 AM again. And at 10. But she has gotten better. She’s only calling me between 1 and 10 times a day now, usually about five, a major improvement. But I dread every call. Every call. I hate talking to her now and I feel very guilty about that. I know she needs someone to talk to, but I’m not sure why. She can’t have silence in her home. She can’t go without talking to someone in her home. Why? Sometimes she apologizes for calling, like she knows it bugs me, but she can’t help it. Why? And I can’t express my frustration with her too ardently cause she has helped us out financially and I feel I should keep my feelings to myself as a result. She paid off my massive student loan debt that I had been paying on for years. That was very generous of her. She didn’t have to do that. But it doesn’t take away from her damn calls. And now she wants us to come visit all the time. We do go up to Knoxville every 4-6 weeks to see her. That’s not good enough. I swear, the same week we go see her, she’ll say “When can I see you again?” and I’ll tell her that she just did and she’ll have forgotten. She’s 85. Her memory’s not the best. But I’m 48. I don’t know of any other 48 year old people — men — who talk to their mothers every day, let alone 10-20 times a day. It’s crazy. Once a week I can see. That’s how often Gretchen talks to her parents. That makes sense to me. But every day, multiple times a day? Gah! She has driven me crazy and now I can barely stand her and I hate being with her and I know that is wrong and you should respect your elders, but shouldn’t they respect you and your wishes too? All I’m asking for is a maximum of two calls a day. I think that’s reasonable. OMG. Nuts, I tell you. Nuts.

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Barry Manilow Concert

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 5, 2015

Last night, we went to Atlanta to see Barry Manilow in concert. Yeah, not someone I would normally see, but my wife’s a lifelong fan and has never seen him, so I got her tickets for Christmas. It’s been agonizing waiting a half year to see him, but she said it was worth it.

We somehow made it through the crazy Atlanta traffic to the Gwinnett Center, where we saw The Who (another Christmas present) two months ago. We waited and let everyone else go in before entering. We went to the bathroom and bought drinks and then stood in line so Gretchen could get a tour t-shirt. And stood in line. And stood in line. It was horrible. Finally she got her t-shirt, put it on immediately, and we found our seats. I was a little nervous about how the seats would be. I got us great seats for The Who, but even though I tried to get pre-sale tickets for this show the minute they went on sale, I couldn’t get good seats and had to settle. So we were pleasantly surprised when we found we were in section 106, row AA. That meant we were against the wall on the bottom level. No one behind us to kick us in the back and spill stuff on us. And a walk way in front of us so we could stretch out our legs. And it was raised, so our sight line was awesome. It was a little higher than I would have preferred, but considering what I thought we would be getting, these were pretty awesome.

Let me tell you — I’ve never seen so many old people at a concert in my life before! It was hilarious. People in wheelchairs, using walkers and canes. White hair, if any at all. I felt young. In fairness, there were people of all ages there, but it was mostly an older crowd, and no surprise here, mostly a female crowd. Still, there were a lot of husbands there with their wives, so I didn’t feel like I stuck out too much.

The opener was a smooth jazz musician named Dave Koz. I’m not a big fan of smooth jazz, but he had a lot of energy and seemed pretty excited to be there, and he did a fine job, so it wasn’t too bad.

Then Barry came on. The crowd went apeshit nuts! I’ve never seen such a crowd so crazed over a performer before. I was wondering when the bras and panties were going to be flung up onto the stage. It was crazy. Everyone had glow sticks, which they had handed out, and they were waving everywhere. Gretchen was the first one standing, waving her glow sticks, cheering, singing, and dancing. She had a ball! That made me very happy. I didn’t know that many of the songs, but it was enjoyable. He was quite the showman. Really knows how to charm an audience. Seemed really authentic too. The crowd went nuts when he sang “Mandy.” Other songs were equally appreciated.

I guess due to the older nature of the audience members, the show ended fairly early (it started early), and we made it back to our hotel in good time. We went to a nearby tavern for a nightcap and so that Gretchen could calm down. She was psyched.  She’s wearing her concert t-shirt again today. Heh. Will probably be wearing it for a week. So, we’re back from Atlanta now, having braved the damn traffic once more and we’re happy to be home. We missed the kitties. But we had a good time and Gretchen was very happy and those are the things that count. Some pics:

 

Us, waiting to get into the Barry Manilow concert

Us, waiting to get into the Barry Manilow concert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen in her new Manilow concert tour t-shirt

Gretchen in her new Manilow concert tour t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arena glow sticks

Arena glow sticks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lights

Lights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow

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An Anniversary

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 8, 2014

Four years ago today, out of the blue Gretchen told me of some feelings she had for me, which was a really big step on her part. I felt similarly, and soon we had a special relationship. Of course, we had no idea it would lead to marriage. Now we’ve been married over a year and a half and we have a wonderful relationship and I’m eternally grateful to her for her bravery. Bebe, I love you!

(Here’s another picture of our new kitten, Ace.):

Ace

Ace

 

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