Haha, Father Time, you are a tricky old man…and I have been one of your favorite punchlines for the past two years. Let me just tell you something. That nonsense is over…OVER! I am taking the controls right now, and I intend to throttle up and leave your stinky tricks in the past. You’ve been notified, tell your friends.
This could turn into a long post. I have meant to write at least three times since my last post and I feel terrible that I have not. I am wondering what happened to the concept of the holiday break being relaxing. I can’t wait for Monday morning when life will return to it’s normal schedule. This routine of cooking, visiting, playing, eating, cooking more, entertaining, visiting more, giving gifts, receiving gifts, decorating, eating more, and so on is just downright exhausting. And to top it all off, one of the biggest business opportunities I have faced all year popped up on my radar around December 20 and has demanded my attention at only the most inconvenient times. I knew it was coming, and I was ready for 95% of what I would need to do, but of course, the client called my cell phone at 7PM on Thursday with a request that HAD TO BE HANDLED RIGHT NOW. And I was conveniently at Stone Mountain sledding and building igloo’s with Dominic and Angela and some of our friends. It got done though…thank goodness for smart phones like the Verizon Wireless HTC Droid Eris (Verizon please feel free to pay me for that endorsement or place an ad on this blog). We weren’t planning on working from around December 23 through this weekend, so I made a list of all the other stuff I wanted to get done. Most involved home repair projects, but others involved repair and improvement of myself. However, the crush of holiday obligations came after us and these 10 days have just flown by. The rest of this posting will highlight the things I checked off that list that I am most proud of.
But before I get started with that, I have to clear some air about my last post (Post Transplant PET Scan Results). I realize from the written feedback I have received on the blog and from the conversations I have had with many of you who know me personally that I came across as disappointed and perhaps a little downtrodden at the results. I was to harsh. The news really is good. It is the only PET Scan I’ve ever had that didn’t result in hand ringing or a more aggressive approach to treatment. That in itself is good. So please know that I am not sitting around here all depressed about my condition. It was not what I wanted to hear, but it was not bad news. Enough said.
Topic #1 – When I was in grade school, I played ice hockey part of the year, and street hockey most of the year. In ten full years living in the south, I think I have come across one neighborhood street hockey game. Can any of my southern readers say they have seen more stick action than that in their neighborhoods? Probably not. But up in Michigan, at least when I was in grade school, it was tough to drive through neighborhoods late in the afternoon because of all the PVC nets in the street and kids on rollerblades. Anyway, I have commented on and off for years that I would like to try playing again. When we lived in Florida, the only ice in the whole region was always booked for youth games and figure skating. So, I was excited to learn when we moved to Alpharetta, that there is a place called The Cooler, right here in Alpharetta where adults can play pickup hockey any day of the week. For Christmas 2008, Angela and her Mom got me a new helmet, hockey gloves and a stick and declared me ready to play again. Before I could round out my gear bag with the rest of the required pads, I got my Lymphoma diagnosis (two weeks after Christmas) and started treatment. There would be no hockey that year. When Christmas 2009 rolled around, I started thinking about those gifts again and I was feeling good, so I went to Play it Again Sports in Roswell, GA and found myself a pair of shoulder pads and shin guards. It still wasn’t enough gear, and money was really tight last year, so I put it off a few more months. Then I got sick again and spent six more months in treatment. Finally, Christmas 2010 is here, I’m not fighting cancer, and all my bills are paid, so I returned to Play it Again and it took two trips to find everything in my size, but, I got the rest of my gear, even a bag. And I got Dominic a super cool little camouflage tent. I haven’t given it to him yet and he doesn’t know I have it, but he talks about it all the time. Then finally, on December 29, last Wednesday, I signed in at The Cooler for the noon pickup game and I played ice hockey! It was a great feeling of closure to finally achieve a goal that I had set two years before and just couldn’t seem to catch. I was really really sore, and I had to quit only halfway through the two hour session because my legs had turned to jelly, but I did it, and I was proud of myself. And I think Angela was proud too that I had made good on her intentions from so long ago. I will be back sometime this coming week for more punishment!
Topic #2 – Back on the bike. Continuing with the fitness theme. As many of you know, I was just getting ramped up to start training for a charity century (100 miles) ride last summer with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training program, when I found out my cancer was growing aggressively and I needed to get a bone marrow transplant. I rode with the team on their first training ride a few days after I got the news. I had really really been looking forward to doing that ride last summer and honestly when I got the news about the cancer, I was just as upset that my plans had been spoiled as I was mad about having to return to the hospital. I have been anxious to start riding again, and attempted two rides in October, but could not make it more than two or three miles each time. I just couldn’t breathe. Now, I am breathing better and have been wanting to try out the bike again. So, on New Years Eve, the weather cooperated (it was 65 degrees and sunny in Atlanta), my schedule was clear and I hit the streets. My goal was to ride 10 miles…when I got back to my car, I had gone 16 miles! I love that between the hockey and the bike ride, I am feeling really sore from something that feels as good as these activities did. I am anxious to prove to myself that I am not just going to survive this cancer, but that I am really going to do well. I have never lost my motivation to join the Team in Training group for their 2011 century ride, but now I have the confidence to know that with enough practice and dedication, I will be able to do it. I admit, at about mile 14, I was seriously thinking about pulling over and calling Angela for a ride, so I know I have a ton of work ahead of me if I want to ride 100 miles. I will be signing my commitment forms this week to join the team, and the ride will take place June 5, 2011 in Lake Tahoe. There will be a lot more to read about that in the coming weeks.
Topic #3 – Review of Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain. This is mostly for Atlanta folks. We took our son to Stone Mountain for snow tubing at their Snow Mountain event. I would really advise that you abandon plans to visit Snow Mountain if you have been thinking about going. They charge $27 to get in (ours was only $17 because we have an annual pass), plus $10 per car for parking. That $27 ticket gets you 2 hours to use the snow slides, and they pack so many people into the lines, that it was taking us about 35 minutes round trip from the time we got in line, to when we finished our quick 8 second slide down the hill and got back in line. That means that if you start your tubing right at the beginning of your time slot (you won’t because it is a really long walk from the front gate), you will slide three times. And you will be hounded by their rules non-stop. I am surprised they didn’t have a representative from their insurance company out there making up new rules on the spot whenever he sensed anyone presenting the slightest risk of a breaking a fingernail. This was a total waste of time and money. Don’t go.
Topic #4 – Feeding Atlanta’s Homeless. As many of you know, Angela and I have a tradition of packaging up individual meals and hot cups of coffee early on New Years Day and driving around downtown Atlanta handing them out to homeless people. Angela has been doing this for eleven years, and I have been with her for the past nine. It is one of my absolute favorite things to do each year and I would not miss it for anything. I mean that. We used to buy McDonald’s breakfast meals, but in order to stretch our money to reach more people, we have started buying supplies in advance and packing the bags at home. Dominic helped us pack everything up on New Years Eve and he was an even bigger help passing them out the next morning. Watch this video of Dominic helping:
This year, we left the house with 48 bagged meals. It took us a little while to find the recipients because it was raining yesterday morning and the people were not in the places where we typically find them. However, once we did find them, we quickly ran out of meals. We could have easily used 100 more meals. This has been the case each of the past two years as well. There are just always more people than we can feed. So, a plea must go out. For anyone who has ever talked to us about this endeavor and thought it was a good idea, please consider helping us next year. We need more food, more bags, more deliveries. You will be glad you did it.
Topic #5 – Installing Replacing Windows. When we moved into this home in 2008, the home inspector told us that we should consider replacing the windows to gain energy efficiency. They are old double sash wood windows. And every window has real wood between each pane of glass. So, each sash is divided by two vertical pieces of trim and two horizontal trims. That makes nine little squares of glass. And then nine more on the bottom sash. Eighteen separate pieces of glass for each window. The living room has four windows, the sunroom has four windows, kitchen has five, etc. Right there with those three rooms, we have 234 pieces of glass to clean. Then there is the dining room, front room, 4 bedrooms, laundry room, bathroom, and about seven more windows in the basement. We don’t clean the glass. It would be like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. By the time you finish, it’s already time to start again from the beginning. Also, the glass is thin (noisy) and drafty (high energy bills). I will get to the point, we have wanted new windows, but we keep putting it off because it’s expensive right. The end of the year was coming straight at us and with it the end of the $1500 tax credit for energy efficient home improvements. Angela and I discussed a plan. Let’s get one window, and try installing it ourselves. If I do a good job and it’s not to hard, we can invest in more windows. So, I selected a small window on the side of the house that is in a closet. Yes a closet. This house has so many windows, somebody felt the need to have one in a closet. I picked up the 24 x 38 vinyl replacement window at Home Depot and the old window was out in about 20 minutes of work time. The new one took another hour of reading and re-reading the instructions, checking and re-checking the level and caulking the outside seams. All in all, not a hard job and I think it looks pretty good. So, I went back and got 7 more windows in that size for the kitchen, and two bathrooms, and I will get to apply 30% of the cost of those windows as a credit to my final taxes in a few months. Take a look:
Alright, I think I have written enough for now. I am going to sign off for tonight, but there will be more information about the Team in Training ride coming up this week. Stay tuned!!!!