Who is Don?
Hello to everyone out there in the world. My name is Don and I live in the Northwestern United States, Seattle specifically. I am fifty six years old and work for an international grocery store chain in their IT department. I was born and raised in Seattle. To give you a taste of the changes I have seen in Seattle in my life: the hospital I was born in, the elementary school, junior high school, and high school I graduated from, all no longer exist. Progress and Transitions! One of my few vices left is coffee. I believe that education is the great equalizer today. I have never been married nor have any children. Education, Opportunity and Transitions.
Enough already! My interests include: My adorable niece Jami, traveling, photography, Art and Art History, Broadway plays, web design, privacy issues, American History and Washington D.C., the ocean and beaches of Oregon and Washington State, and my little red, very red 2006 Toyota Camry Solara. My musical taste runs from classical, to classic rock, and to the current easy listening soft rock. If I were pressed, I would say that Funk from the 70's and 80's plus the Blues are my favorite types of music. And I am sorry, but I do not understand the thumping noise coming from the kid's cars these days. I must be getting less tolerant of loud music!
My soapbox of the month ... or random thoughts ... or musings of a baby boomer ... or don's blog.
Generation X gets really old: How do slackers have a midlife crisis?
The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis
I'm back . . .
Just in case of rapture, y'all take care now!
Fortune cookie from lunch - Listen these next few days to your friends to get answers you seek.
Pennsylvania is my favorite state. In the fall the colors jump out at you and make the brutal winters and summers bearable. I've spent some time in and around Pittsburgh. I love the area ... it is real. But this piece of Americana is being destroyed by the explosion (literally) of natural gas wells and pipelines. The process is called hydraulic fracturing with the end result to get at the gas that is trapped in the marcellus shale. The result is, and will be, the 21st century's Love Canal.
Some time ago I took a ride and went up to McConnell Mills State Park. It was a fun drive that found us winding around farms and amazing country side. The farms were real family operations, not the big agriculture that you see in eastern Washington State. As I was driving along on the way back to Pittsburgh I noticed little enclaves, not really neighborhoods, of modest little homes with nice sized front yards. We weren't to far from Pittsburgh proper but just far enough out to know that these were homes that steel workers had lived in. These were homes made from an honest hard job where families raised their kids ... this was absolute Americana to me. It was that trip were I actually started to look at Pittsburgh in a different light, were I fell in love with Pittsburgh.
I tell you this because this is why I care about the natural gas wells. Pittsburgh is like this last remaining remnant of what people came to America for. People weren't afraid to work hard and gave their jobs all that they could. People in Pittsburgh are proud of their ethic and it is an American ethic; one where people stand up for themselves and for their neighbor. The landman, and the companies that they represent, are tearing apart the community by pitting neighbor against neighbor and community against neighboring community. It makes me angry that the proud people are fighting each other when it is the outsider they should be fighting against. Gas wells do not belong there. Farmers belong there and down the road should be modest homes for those starting their lives out. I know change is the only constant in this life ... but this is a change that will have a toxic effect.
More to come on this story and a tie in with my love of birds.
On friendships and birds ...
I am not very good with people. I love people but never really learned good social skills and the art of making and keeping friends. Part of that deals with being a recovering drunk that feels uncomfortable in bars and etc. And part of that deals with self esteem issue .. not thinking that I have something to bring to the table, so to speak. It is what it is ....
Basically I don't have any friends. I have many followers on twitter, started a group on LinkedIn, and have a respectable showing on Facebook but for the most part these people are virtual friends, family, or co-workers. Virtual friends can supplement physical friendships but they are no substitute. Humans need physical contact ... I'm not talking about sex. We desire the connectedness that going for a walk in the park, catching a show, or having a dinner out that virtual friends can't support.
Several years ago I put up bird feeders in the back yard. As the birds came I added more and different feeders. It has given me much joy and the neighborhood cats are pleased. These days when I am down I will go outside and sit for a spell. I can watch the woodpeckers and stellar jays, catch a rare falcon, watch with wonder hummingbirds during the summer, and listen to the gold finches. The songbirds can sense when I am down and do their best to serenade me. About a mile from the house there is a rookery of Herons ... 70 nests at last count. And when I go to Alaska I am always on the lookout for eagles. For a person like myself, my friends are the birds. They are always there.
As I wrote earlier, it is what it is.
More drama ... I hate to give up on 2011 already but the options are thinning out. Mom had a fall on May 6th that resulted in two broken fingers. On Thursday she had surgery to put pins in the two fingers. She will be in a cast for 6 weeks. Mom is a strong 82 year old but she really doesn't have use of her right hand being right handed and all.
I am having a hard time with all of this. Basically that is because I saw how quickly her mother faded after she had gone through trauma to the body. Mom, just like her mother, is having memory problems. Maybe mom can pull out of this spiral ... I hope so. I can't take much more drama at this time.
There is certainly more drama happening in my life but I have to sort it out before I can write about it. Yesterday was truely a Friday the 13th.
At least spring looks to have arrived, finally. Today and tomorrow I am going to try and get some gardening done if the rain holds off. Plus my brother-in-law and a friend of his are rebuilding our deck railing and stairs. Sometimes it is better to let the pros, my brother-in-law and his buddy, work without interference. I wish I was more handy and adept with things like this ... but I am not. Sometimes I wonder what am I good for? There are times when I feel I have wasted my life. The truth is I pretty much have.
The things that I've worked for and towards have, at times, sent me off in the wrong direction. It then takes me a very long time to figure that out and to shift directions. That is what my other drama is about. I haven't wasted time but I have set myself back to the point that my options have dwindled significantly. I am surrendering and hope that I can reclaim some of my self.
That's it for now ... hopefully there will be a more positive post in the near future.
Busy Don today ... I guess I'm knee deep in spring cleaning. I had lots of topics on my mind to write about this week but I'm not prepared to string the words together yet. I did want to mention something else that happened in December. About 5 days before dad passed away my Uncle Otto, mom's side, had a major stroke. We found out a few days later once the family knew the gravity of the situation. I took the call and said we would be out the next day so mom could say goodbye to her brother. Otto was a good man and at one time worked for the "No Such Agency", better known as NSA. I have a picture of Otto and Mary (his wife) with the Dalai Lama but since I don't have permission to post, I won't.
That day was tough ... mom was losing her brother the same time her husband was dealing with lung cancer. That night everyone went to bed early. Dad used to stay up until 11 PM or so but when I was off work doing what I could dad went to bed about 10 PM. I am much like my mom and go to bed at about 8 to 9 PM. That night the lights were out by 8:15 PM. I got a text message about 8:30 but was already drifting off. When I woke in the morning I had to tell mom that her brother had passed away. It was a tough day ....
Then at 3:54 PM of that day, dad died.
Yes it has been a good long time since I've done any postings to this web site. If we had to place any blame we could say ... it is twitter's fault! Twitter is a total time wasting machine but does have some redeeming value.
The paragraph above was written about a month ago. I have tried to do a post at least six times the last few months. It is hard to get started with all that has happened. Writing is my friend but sometimes it is hard to find the right words to all that I've been through. So where have I been and what have I done?
Since my last post basically in 2009 I've been to Mazatlan twice, metro DC twice, Fairbanks, Juneau twice, Ketchikan twice, Anchorage (which included a shift in Wasilla), Whitefish, Montana twice (once for a Huckleberry run), Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint, Idaho (way to close to Ruby Ridge for the liberal in me), and numerous little towns in central and eastern Washington. Most of the traveling was for work but as my friends know vacations are metro DC and Mazatlan, Mexico.
Along with the traveling I've had to deal with a crashing pc several times. You see, I use Hot Dog Professional as a web site editor and since they no longer exist (I hear Microsoft is to blame for that) the software doesn't place nice when you reformat a hard drive. This post is being done on my laptop which as a rule I only use for traveling ... and knock on wood, hasn't crashed ever.
I am also 53 which means I've had to deal with a couple of health issues. It seems during a trip to Whitefish, Montana I developed an eye infection that wouldn't go away. That was just about 2 years ago and I'm still fighting with eye drops. That has also led me to do away with contacts and just wear the "coke bottle" glasses and suck up the vanity. Also one day, for no apparent reason, my back went out for lack of any better words. To this day, I have no idea what I did to cause the back and hip pain that I experience daily. Best guess is a sedentary lifestyle (insert twitter as the culprit here).
In between crashes, vacations, and work travel Dad needed to get a biopsy done on the prostate. I had him change the date a week later so I'd be able to give the folks a drive to the doctors office. Dad was 86 and had his license revoked in 2009 and Mom was 81 and doesn't feel comfortable driving especially to Pill Hill. Before I left for a work trip to Juneau and Ketchikan we got the good news the biopsy was negative! So I was gone a week and was very glad to get home. As things happen, the last two years I had a week of vacation and then several days home before heading to Alaska for work. That is just way too much TSA for anyone to have to deal with so I was thrilled to be home and taking a long weekend. The day after I got home dad went to the doctors, the doctor called me to take him to the hospital because his heart was acting up. I did and he spent a week in the hospital.
After discharge from the hospital dad had more doctors appointments and still wasn't feeling any better. Mom and I took him for a CAT scan of the chest ... later that day the doctors office called to let us know his heart problems were cause by a tumor in the lungs. Dad had lung cancer.
I took most of November and December off from work to do what I could. Dad died on December 31, 2010. There are so many stories to write about November and December but it is really hard to type them out. Some are absolutely hilarious like the time mom told dad to wash up for dinner. When we all sat down at the table I calmly said, "Mom, does it really matter if dad washes his hands for dinner?" Dad had a smirk on his face and that was the first semi smile he had in weeks.
So maybe this is the begining of some writing. A good friend suggested this yesterday ... and who am I to argue with someone who has a Ph.D?!!
"Give yourself to life, and life will give itself to you."
-James Dillet Freeman.
In closing, as Keith Richards would say, it's great to be here ... it's great to be anywhere!