Month: October 2018

The ‘other’ family

Reading Time: 6 minutes

My birth mother is visiting here for the first time.  It’s a rather different experience for me, since when I met my wife, my adoptive mother had already passed away, and my adoptive father was in the midst of his Alzheimer’s, so he didn’t possess his full faculties when interacting with my wife (who at the time was my girlfriend).  So, in this instance the woman visiting is my mother, but she didn’t raise me.  When we first met a little under 2 years ago, there was a point where we had to decide what I was going to refer to her as.  Would I use her real name?  No, that didn’t feel comfortable to me.  Growing up, when I addressed my friends’ parents, I never called them by their first name, it was either Mr. Smith, or Mrs. Jones.  As I got older, one of my neighbors had mentioned that now I’d gained my majority, that I was in my 20s, it would be ok for me to call them by their first names.  I tried it, but it didn’t feel right.  So I went back to calling them Mr. and Mrs. It just felt better.

So we settled on ‘Mom’.  She felt that was better, but she wanted me to be aware that in NO way was she interested in supplanting the memory of my adoptive mother, or replacing or disrespecting her.  She wanted that understood from the very beginning and I most definitely felt better when she said that.  She just wanted to be a part of my life now that she had finally found me again.  (Who can blame her, it took the better part of 50 years for her to be successful!)  Admittedly, after getting the message from my half-brother asking for information and trying to be sure I was the ‘right’ person, he did offer me the option of just telling her that I was ok, but I didn’t wish further contact. I thought long and hard about that…considering that both my adoptive parents were deceased, my adoptive brother is estranged and I don’t interact much (at all) with my cousins.  So in many ways, in a family aspect, I keep to myself.  My wife is much the same way with her extended (also adoptive) family.

After much thought and discussion with my wife, I decided to allow the contact to develop on its own.  Over the years I’d thought many times about taking the effort to go look for her, but was always stopped by the possibility that she didn’t wish for me to do so.  That she’d rather keep the distance the way it was.  I only had a basic understanding of what the circumstances were regarding the adoption, and certainly that was from the interpretation of my parents.  Their lawyer knew all of the details of course, but did he share them with my parents?  I didn’t know, and by the time I received the latter information from their lawyer’s office (after his death), it was a moot point.  There may have been details that he took to his grave.  In my adoption papers, on the cover, it said ‘Infant male baby Adams‘.  So, I had a probable starting point.  As it turned out, that was my mother’s maiden name.

As I always do, I’m getting off topic here.  If you’ve read me for a time, you understand that happens.  Long winded and get off topic….that’s me!  Anyway.

I was walking through the house this morning, and happened to look upon my (rather dusty) DVD display rack.  When I was cleaning house over the last month, I’d taken care to ‘sanitize’ the house of certain aspects of my kink existence.  Certainly there are hints (if one looked closely enough) that people are less vanilla than one might expect.  If my mother forayed into the back bedroom and snooped around, she’d find one or more of my toy bags, chock full of my BDSM paraphernalia.  Too, some of the larger steel items are tucked away in drawers and closets in one of the other bedrooms.  If she got really bold, in the back of my clothes closet is hanging part of my flogger collection!  But as I was looking at the display rack, I did a double-take and then an eye-roll.  Right there on the top shelf, between two Hollywood blockbusters were three kinky BDSM movies.  Oy.  Has she seen them?  I have no idea.  Should I remove them, and then she’d notice they were missing after looking over the collection again?  Well, I’m not sure, but I did remove them and put them elsewhere for safe-keeping.  Granted I haven’t watched those particular videos in probably 3 years, and by all rights I should have recycled, re-sold or just plain pitched them (they’re not original movies, just re-treads from a now defunct website).  But I just smiled a little to myself and thought “It’s an adult household”.  BDSM may indeed be becoming more mainstream, but not necessarily where my mother is concerned.  And no, I don’t wish to go to the spot in my mind (like every kid) where they think about their parents doing ‘the dirty’.  Or anything else.  Thanks.  Please pass the brain bleach on that one!

All in all, the visit with my mother is going well.  Two years ago I visited her at her house (I stayed nearby in a motel, I didn’t feel comfortable staying in her house, even though she VERY graciously offered her guest room) and we did some sightseeing in the area.  I grew up in the Hudson Valley, but my section was in the northern confines, and where she lives is a bit further south.  So, while being familiar with the area generally, she knew things that I didn’t and showed me places I was unaware of.  Too, she showed me where her childhood home was, and I did the same for her.  Showed her where I went to school, to college and where I lived at various points in my life.  She shared with me my family history that (naturally) I was completely unaware of, and certainly compared to my adoptive family, I have a far-flung off extended birth family that’s quite prolific.  Not to mention that I’m an Uncle four times over spread over two half-siblings.  And in contrast to my adoptive upbringing where I’m (by far) the youngest, I’m the eldest in this ‘new’ family.  Which is admittedly, weird.

Admittedly, I wasn’t looking forward to her visit, because we’re such homebodies here.  She’s going home tomorrow…and for some reason, I really don’t want her to go.

What a game!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

4480f44b5cbf28cd0fe3bf11b58529dbI’m an unabashed Boston Red Sox fan.  And no, I didn’t just recently come to rooting for them, I’m not one of those.  I’ve been watching and enjoying their successes (and lamenting their downfalls) since about 1975.  When I was growing up, my parents were avid New York Yankee fans.  To me, rooting for the Yankees was easy, since, during most of the 20th century, they managed to have incredibly good fortune getting to the post-season, amassing 20 World Series titles by the 1970’s.  By contrast, the Red Sox were mired in a slump dating back to 1918.  So, not quite the ‘loveable losers’ like the Chicago Cubs (who hadn’t won a World Series since 1908) but they were most definitely the underdogs, and who doesn’t want to root for an underdog?  Of course, considering my parents were rooting for one team, I felt I needed to give some love elsewhere.  And it created a rivalry of our own.  The other team I rooted for was the New York Mets and even managed to get to Shea Stadium a few times before it was demolished.

Over the years, the Sox have gotten to the World Series, only to be denied again and again.  Even in 1986, when the Mets & Sox were in the Fall Classic, I was a bit torn, wanting both teams to win.  I even managed to score tickets to see a couple of the Series games in Queens, I was in college and one of my housemates’ father was on the umpiring crew.  So we took the train from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central in NY, hopped on the subway and headed out to Shea.  That was amazing.  I’ve never been to a World Series since, and probably never will. But at least I have that memory in my quiver.

Getting back to the topic here, last night the Red Sox were playing the LA Dodgers in Game 3.  The Sox were up two games to none, having won both games that were played at Fenway Park in Boston.  I’m absolutely certain that no one was expecting what happened last night, certainly not me.  I was fully expecting to get to bed after the game (I did) and get a good night’s sleep before picking up where I left off in the cleaning process for my mother’s visit come Monday.  Only, that’s not what happened.  The game was a seesaw battle from the beginning.  The Dodger pitchers had been hammered pretty hard in Games 1 & 2, and they put a 24 yr old kid on the mound to start Game 3.  As it turns out, it was a great move by Dodger manager Dave Roberts.  The kid was stellar.  Completely unfazed by the array of hitters that came up in the Boston lineup, and he sent them down either by strikeouts or by getting them to pop up or ground out (mostly pop-ups).  Los Angeles (LA) managed to draw blood first this game, connecting for a solo home run off the Boston starter, Rick Porcello. After that, it became a bit of a boring game, the innings started to blend together, at least until Boston managed to tie the game in the 8th on a home run.

Once the game went into extra innings, it definitely took on a life of its own.  And got weird.  Boston went ahead in the 13th, on a crazy play, and then the Dodgers tied it again in their half of the inning.  The two teams were going through pitchers at a terrible pace, and one of the announcers even mentioned at one point that the game had used 23 dozen baseballs by the 15th inning.  Considering in the early part of the 20th century, both ball teams would only use ONE ball in a game, that was a mind-boggling statistic.  Just a little historic nibble for you, that changed after a player was killed by a pitched ball. After a rule change, as soon as a ball got even a little dirty, it was replaced by a clean one.  Which is why nowadays the major (and minor) leagues go through so many baseballs.

The game had started at 8 pm Eastern time.  By 3 am, it was still going.  I made a pact with myself that at 3:30, win or lose, I was going to head to bed. I had things to do here today, and couldn’t be sleeping until noon because they were still playing baseball at 6 am.  Of course, once I had shut off the game, it ended.  Certainly, that was to be expected, since, after about the 15th inning, both teams were just trying to hit the ball as hard as they could, to attempt to get a home run.  So, there were a lot of strikeouts, a lot of line drives and very little strategy on the parts of either manager.  Boston had managed to go to the pitcher that was supposed to start Game 4.  He managed to throw nearly 100 pitches in relief, clearly 40+ more than the guy that started the game did!  It was little wonder he gave up the game-winning home run.  I expect in a way it was almost a relief.  That game definitely needed to be over.

While I’m sorry that the Red Sox lost the game, it’s not the end of the world.  They’re still ahead 2 games to 1, and with two more wins, will have clinched the World Series.  I remain optimistic!

EPSON MFP image

This is gonna take awhile

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Fuck.  I’d forgotten how much I hate cleaning.  The last time I’ve had to do this much sorting/cleaning etc was when my wife and I moved into this place back in 2000.  As we all know, with procrastination, things get bad over a long period of time, and in your head you think “No problem.  I’ll do this, this and this, and it’ll be over before you know it!”  Yeah, well it doesn’t work that way, buttercup.  Even with my music playing in the background from my phone over the Bluetooth speaker, it was taking a frigging eternity to sort through the pile of crap that’s been accumulating over the last couple of years next to my computer.  TWO kitchen sized trash bags FULL of stuff, not to mention two paper bags full of scrap paper recycling and I’ve managed to reduce it to a pile of stuff that needs to be sorted again.  Old pictures, tech hardware, SEVEN old cellphones (I shit you not), and a host of other stuff.  I did manage to find the photo manipulation software I’ve been looking for since I recycled my desktop tower, so I got that installed so I can stop jury-rigging pictures with MS Paint.  That was a pain in the ass, for sure.

All of this effort is to get the house ship-shape for my birth mother’s visit next week.  I visited her 2 years ago, we’ve been sort of shuffling back and forth about how she was either going to get here, we’d meet in the middle or some other plan.  This summer she had hip replacement surgery, so she wasn’t able to travel for at least 6 weeks post surgery, so we had to schedule around that.  Even so, she’s not frisky enough to manage a 4-5 hour drive alone, so she’s going to be taking a bus here.  Naturally there’s no direct service between where she is, and here, but at least she was able to find a route that only had one small layover.  She’s going to be here for about 3 1/2 days, give or take.  So we have to make sure that she’s comfortable, I have sufficient things for us to do to keep her out of the wife’s hair, and so on.  There’s enough things to do in the area vis-a-vis sightseeing and so on, but as we don’t normally go out much in the evenings, it’s a matter of keeping her entertained in the off hours.

Just stopped in to kvetch.  Back to work.  Wish me luck, I’m going to need it in spades!

Hurry up and wait

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hurry-Up-and-WaitOur original plan was to get together every couple of months to keep things fresh in the relationship.  Due to financial constraints, that plan has been shelved at least until spring of 2019.  It certainly brings neither of us any joy in stating this, let alone living it, but as we repeat to one another all too often “it is, what it is.”  As infuriating as that statement may be, it’s just the damnable truth.

For me, what makes it all the more untenable is the fact that my girl is able to play in my absence, due to her need for companionship beyond what’s possible with me.  She’s presently exploring a poly situation with a couple in her area, and (naturally) even that’s not a cakewalk.  It has had its own shoebox of drama, that she’s had to navigate as best that she can.

I just find more and more that I’m back to being on the sidelines.  Where I swore that I didn’t want to be again.  Yet here I sit, day in and out, week and out, month and out, not doing anything while my toys start to gather dust again.  Yes, this is a rant.  It’s not however, a rant against my girl or anyone else.  Merely expressing myself here in print, because I’m getting more and more frustrated and I just need some place to talk about it, and well, here’s a place.  I’ll caveat it to say I’m not IN ANY WAY blaming anyone about what makes the situation the way it is.

It is this way because of money for the most part.  (Doesn’t it always in some way end up being the culprit?) I can’t solely afford to foot the bill for another trip to meet my girl.  I’m certainly in the process right now of paying for my own bills, dealing with my household debt, and attempting to sock away as much money as I can into my 401k, since my Union decided to kowtow and knuckle under instead of fighting for a pension that has been paid into for 30+ years.  Just another in a long line of concessions they’ve given up.  Not for nothing, but in 18 months, when it’s time to negotiate the 2020 version of the contract, I’m almost completely resigned to the fact that the union will be presented with two untenable options.  Either agree to a reduced payment from the company for the new 401k plan they started this year, or incur more payments from the rank and file for overpriced health care insurance.

Anyway, I’ve said my piece.  I’m disabling comments on this, because it’s a rant.  I don’t expect or desire commentary on this.  Thanks for your attention, providing you made it this far through the post.

Monday is due to be a busy day

Reading Time: 3 minutes

karin-luttenberg-on-instagram-happy-monday-lettering-handmade-handdrawn-handlettering-typography-gra-1460889488kn84gI don’t always tend to make phone calls to schedule things in a timely manner.  It just so happened Friday that I did, and almost every single one of the places that I called, wanted to do their jobs on Monday.  Naturally.  So come Monday afternoon, there’s going to be a logging guy arriving to take down a dead ash tree behind our garage, the furnace people from the second opinion place will be arriving around 3:30p to do a CO test in order to determine if indeed we DO have a cracked heat exchanger (or any other potential problem with our furnace) and give us an estimate on how much (if anything) it will cost to get fixed.  I did take it upon myself to purchase 2 new CO detectors to see if indeed they could detect anything that the old ones were missing.  I set them up, placed them near the output registers and they’re not detecting anything amiss.  Which could be one of two things.  Either they’re not sensitive enough, or the fact that we have 2 windows slightly open is causing the CO buildup that was present before, not to be present now.  Either way, it’s going to be resolved.  At least for my pet’s peace of mind, if nothing else.

Finally, I had called a lawn maintenance person and asked for an estimate on having the large brush and lawn waste pile behind the garage removed.  It has been sitting there for the last 3 years and needs to be gone.  I’d contracted with someone to do it 2 years ago, but after having paid them, they never showed up.  When I contacted them this year, I was informed that they were no longer in the business, and wouldn’t be able to either refund my money (no surprise, he didn’t remember me paying it, and doesn’t have the business records anymore regardless) or come by and do the work.  With that, I chalked it up to me being lazy about getting him to do it, and let it be.

Last but not least, we have a week to finish getting the house in some semblance of shape for my mother’s visit on the 29th.  She’s going to be coming here by bus, and spending Halloween week here.  I warned her that we don’t do much in the way of celebrating the holiday, we just repair to the back of the house and let the kids pass the house by.  She said she was ok with that.  Nice to have a mother that’s easy to please!

At any rate, Tuesday should be a breeze compared to the day before.

The other shoe..

Reading Time: 3 minutes

On Wednesday we had our gas-fired furnace cleaned, something that we do once a year before the heating season.  After the fellow finished his cleaning regimen, he came upstairs and placed a little handheld meter on one of the heating vents and cranked the thermostat to its highest level.  Checking for carbon monoxide he said, something that he started to do on his own initiative last year, since CO can be a silent killer and he thought it would be a good public service (of course, it would also be a good way to drum up business if he could sell furnaces for customers that have problems, that wasn’t lost on me).  After about 10 minutes he stated quite plainly “uh-oh, looks like there’s a problem.”  When I asked him what it was, he said that the meter was reading about 30 ppm (parts per million) and still climbing.

Now certainly, I don’t know what that all means, except that he’s finding it to be a major issue.  So just nonchalantly, I ask what he thinks the problem is.  We had a CO occurrence about 15 years ago, but at the time it turned out to be a blocked chimney, and not something that required replacing the furnace.  Had the chimney cleaned, clean bill of health, bim-bam-boom done.   Can’t be quite certain that this fellow has the right idea of what all is amiss. He said that he was ‘pretty sure’ it was the heat exchanger (had to look it up after he left to find out what it did!), and that they’re neither repairable or replaceable, they’re so deep in the working of the furnace that it would be cheaper just to replace the unit. Of course when I asked about a price tag, another nonchalant reply of $3000-$5000 made me blink a few times.  That’s a big outlay.  Now granted the furnace was in the house when we moved in, and then bought it, but before we purchased the house we had one of those businesses go through it with a fine toothed comb.  The inspector gave us some issues that he discovered that the sellers hadn’t mentioned, but none of them really had to do with the heating system.

Certainly of course this is now 18 years later, and the typical furnace is supposedly only scheduled to last about 20 years.  How long it was in the house before that, not really sure, of all the owners manuals and such that came with the house, none seemed to have anything to do with the main furnace.  So we’re a little in the dark about that.

After talking to the wife and my pet about it, I decided to get a second opinion.  The company that I called seemed to think it was a heat exchanger as well, but they didn’t recommend replacing the furnace, their recommendation was to try to replace the possible affected part.  Which to me sounds like a MUCH better idea.  And cheaper!  So this coming Monday, they’re coming out to the house and we’re going to have it tested again.  Hopefully, it can be fixed.  Hopefully!

In the meantime, we’re keeping cross-ventilation going in the house so that it’s not going to be a breathing problem.  We also do have CO detectors in the house, and I purchased from Home Depot a couple new ones that have digital displays.  Can’t be too careful.