Granddaughter Joelle has the official Star Fleet wardrobe, is working on the Vulcan salute...
YouTube video: 3,965-day-old Leanna and 296-day-old Joelle hang out.
Categories: KGB Family
Observations by and for the vaguely disenchanted.
Risking the wrath of the whatever
from high atop the thing.
Granddaughter Joelle has the official Star Fleet wardrobe, is working on the Vulcan salute...
YouTube video: 3,965-day-old Leanna and 296-day-old Joelle hang out.
Categories: KGB Family
Doug, Joelle, and Angela
My son Doug turns 38 today.
Despite having what can be most charitably described as a semi-feral übergeek as a dad, he somehow managed to thrive. He's an independent, responsible adult with a droll sense of humor; the ability to write complex yet accessible biographical narratives; possesses impressive typing skills; loves animals; is a scholar of the works of the giants (Python, Landis, Ramis, and Cameron); is a great uncle; and last year became a father.
That last achievement is what I find most impressive. When I was 38, Doug was a junior in high school; he graduated before I turned 40.
I remember being a dad when I was a strapping youth of 21- the dense fog of sleep deprivation; the indescribable aroma of baby powder, loaded diapers and regurgitated oatmeal; the sleepless nights due not to a crying infant, but worries about the future. I try to think of dealing with that as a late thirtysomething, and my mind seizes up and goes blank.
One thing I do know- Joelle is lucky to him as a dad, and I can't believe my good fortune to have him as a son.
Happy birthday, Doug.
My son Doug and I meet for the first time.
He is not impressed.
Categories: KGB Family
I can communicate through a series of short & long groans & sighs. It's
called 'morose code'.
-Robb Allen, @ItsRobbAllen (h/t David Kifer, alt.quotations)
Somewhat alarmed to discover some teens don't recognize "Uncle Sam," I checked with my daughter about my soon to be 11 year old granddaughter's status:
KGB: Does Lea know who Uncle Sam is?
Sara: Oh, I think she would.
KGB: Ask her when convenient.
Sara: She said yes, it's the guy pointing and saying "I want you."
KGB: Excellent. Our nation is in good hands.
Sara: She said "Yes. Yes, it is."
Can't argue with that...>
"I give them a year."
-Ray Bloch, musical director for "The Ed Sullivan Show," on the Beatles, when they made their first live appearance on American television 50 years ago.
"Ah, hell. Let's call Froot Loops what they really are: Gay Cheerios."
Those who feel that humans are essentially good and altruistic have never read the comment sections on YouTube.
I actually used to date a girl named Christie Benghazi, so it's funny
for me now when I flip between those two channels.
The Star Trek Facepalm collection, although I don't think Spock actually qualifies.
“If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?”
Let me ask you this: If you came from parents, why are there still parents?
"Fortunes have been lost underestimating Jay Leno."
THREE DOG NIGHT- Although, with Pixie the Shih Tzu puppy, it's probably more accurate to call it a "Two Dog and One Small Dog-Like Creature Night."
The President said we must stay vigilant against foreign threats...yet
Justin Bieber remains a free man.
Damn. I just wrote year of the snake on a check.
St. Peter can tell which new arrivals are from Pittsburgh because when they go toward the light at the end of the tunnel they slow down.
I wonder if clouds ever look down on us and say, "Hey look. That one is shaped like an idiot."
Daughter-in-law Angela with my granddaughter Joelle.
Maybe if we all e-mail the Constitution to each other, the NSA will finally read it.
In the depressing gloom and cold of mid-winter, February 2 is an important day, and I'm not talking about some farcical ceremony involving a large rodent or steroid-enhanced millionaires giving each other concussions.
Had they lived...
Eva Cassidy would have been 51...
(YouTube video: Eva Cassidy, "Fields of Gold")
My dog Beanie would have been 20...
And my dad, Raymond Francis Barkes, would have been 90. Here he is with my son Doug, watching airplanes at the Allegheny County Airport in 1977. It's a sobering thought that I'm six years older than my father was when this photo was taken. He died in October, 1994.
I'm sad they're no longer here, but I'm glad they were in my life.
I haven't "lost" them; they're with me all the time. And memories are like fine wine. They improve with age.
Granddaughters Joelle and Lea. Joelle appears to be thinking, "I don't mind the sleepover business, but she's touching my bear."
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) on marriage between a man and a woman:
'The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice. The husband’s part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else.'
To be fair, it sounds better in the original Klingon.-Zay N. Smith
I'm a non-violent kind of guy, but I sincerely believe anyone who uses the word 'whilst' should be soundly thrashed.
"Secret formulas" abound on social media for wondrous cleaning solutions you can make in your home.
Don't waste your time.
Homemade whatevers - rug cleaner, spot remover, detergent - all contain just one real, active ingredient: dishwashing liquid. That's it. Period. Be especially wary of the ones which include both vinegar and baking soda. When mixed, the acetic acid in the vinegar and the baking soda react to form carbonic acid and sodium acetate. Carbonic acid sounds impressive, but all it really is carbonated water. And when it stops fizzing, it's because all the carbon dioxide has escaped from the mixture. Take the carbon dioxide out of carbonic acid, and you have... water. So you're left with just water and sodium acetate. Sodium acetate is a nifty chemical, with lots of uses- but cleaning ain't one of them. Just just save yourself the trouble and just use the soap and water.
(Courtesy of the late George Kraynick, my sophomore chemistry teacher.)
Ok, maybe it is a real dog and pony show...
I'm not arguing, I'm explaining why I'm right.
Funeral home directors: when the only phrase in a death notice that appears in initial caps and within quotation marks is "Dear Wife", you're sending a mixed message...
"It was the first kiss between an African-American woman and a white
Canadian in a toupee."
-Craig Ferguson (describing Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner in the original Star Trek tv series.)
"Kraft has recalled over 1.7 million pounds of Velveeta products for
mis-labeled ingredients. They accidentally called it 'cheese'."
Alcohol is really just the liquid version of Photoshop.
Am I supposed to feel safer because corporations, not terrorists, are
blowing up fertilizer plants, drowning towns in oil, and poisoning the
It's a girl my Lord
In a flatbed Ford
Slowing down to do
Agnostic apathetic isolationist.
I don't know. I don't care. Go away.
I'm no scientist, but legalizing marijuana in your state seems to cause
immediate football superiority.
Granddaughter Joelle takes the term "menu sampler" literally.
(With her mom, Angela, and senior granddaughter Leanna.)
Excluding starches, preservatives, emulsifiers and artificial flavoring,
Soylent Green is actually less than 2% people.
-The Covert Comic
2014 will bring granddaughter Joelle's first birthday and my 60th. We both plan to make the most of it. You should, too.
2013 was, I believe, the first year in which I didn't miss a single daily KGB Report post. Whether that's an accomplishment worth celebrating s a determination best left to the reader.
In any event, sincere wishes for a healthy and prosperous new year, and thanks for reading!
Granddaughter Joelle's first Christmas, in which Mommy (my daugter-in-law Angela) and Aunt Sara (my daughter, off-camera) demonstrate the wonders of modern speech recognition technology with a faux canine stuffed with foam, electronics, and advanced software. She seems rather unimpressed. Senior Granddaughter Leanna takes after her maternal grandfather and is actually reading the instructions.
Riley has visions of sugarplums dancing in his head.
Sassy knows the fat guy with the beard
will give her cookies.
And maybe Santa will, too!
Merry Christmas from Kevin, Cindy,
and all the furry minions.
We said goodbye to Lucy (Lady Lucia) today, less than two months from her 16th birthday.
Since March 4- when she developed focal seizures- our schedule was pretty much dictated by her.
When Lucy decided it was time to wake up, we woke up. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've slept past 6:30 am in the past ten months.
The household schedule was arranged so that someone was always around at 9 am and 9 pm to administer her seizure medication. And we never left her alone for more than four hours.
From 7 pm to about 10 pm, her place was on the living room couch, where she'd watch tv and snooze. When she thought it was time to go to bed, we went to bed. And the next day, we'd do it all over again.
Things changed on Sunday. She didn't want to eat, and was only mildly interested in the cheese in which we wrapped her drugs. She spent the entire day under my desk. Her occasional excursions to survey the back yard stopped.
Yesterday she stopped drinking water and making her bathroom trips.
This morning, she woke us up at 4:30 am. I took her downstairs and put her out in the yard with the other dogs. Instead of her usual morning constitutional- walking the perimeter of the yard, inspecting the fence- she laid down in the snow at the end of the patio and didn't move. She didn't even correct the Shih Tzu puppy when the little one started barking at her and licking her face.
I picked her up and brought her inside. She sat stoically next to my chair, her old, cloudy eyes unfocused and yet looking at something. I said her name, softly. She wagged her tail, but her gaze remained steady.
I'd seen that intent, focused stare before, and my heart sank. She was concentrating on the next place, her destination. And it was time.
She was quiet during the car ride. She wagged her tail when the lady in the white coat entered the room.
She gave us sloppy kisses. Her mom held her close, and, with a relieved sigh, we felt her leave.
Dogs' lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you're going to lose a dog, and there's going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can't support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There's such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and the mistakes we make because of those illusions.
When you have dogs, you witness their uncomplaining acceptance of suffering, their bright desire to make the most of life in spite of the limitations of age and disease, their calm awareness of the approaching end when their final hours come. They accept death with a grace that I hope I will one day be brave enough to muster.
Pumpkin and Chloe share a bed.
In related news, Hell has frozen over.
I don't think granddaughter Joelle is buying
the whole dancing sugarplums visions thing.
Sassy and Riley want me to tell the Shih Tzu puppy she's not really a Chinese Sheltie, but we're not going to break it to her until she's a bit older...
It seems everyone who remembers November 22, 1963 spent at least a part of yesterday rummaging through the recesses of their memories. So I was in the appropriate frame of mind when Homestead Councilman and fellow Daily Messenger alumni Lloyd Cunningham sent me this old advertisement:
From 1959 through 1967, my father and I lived with his mother and stepfather on the third floor of this former hotel, at the corner of East Eighth Avenue and McClure Street.
The picture's undated, but I'm guessing it's circa 1910. Note the reference in the ad to P. & A. Telephone? According to Poor's Manual of Public Utilities, the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Telephone Company bought the Homestead Telephone Company in 1903, so it's sometime between that date and 1914, when P. & A. went into receivership. Allegheny County's property assessment website, usually a good source of information, had no building details and an incorrect street address- 344 instead of 342. [While the property dates to the early 1900s, Lloyd reports the photo was taken in 1942, when it was called the Liberty Hotel.]
Here's the Google Maps photo of the property from this past August:
Directly opposite was the Mellon Bank managed by Mike Solomon, and the Gulf gasoline station owned by Jack Scandrol and George New, Katilius Furniture was on the Munhall side. Capitol Cleaners was on the other corner.
We had seven rooms and one bath. The structures on the roof and the second floor porch/deck shown in the old photo were already gone when we lived there. There was a rickety fire escape outside the bathroom window. My grandmother kept old rugs there and some potted plants, and it was the shortcut to get to the garbage cans in the alley. The second floor was occupied by a dentist office, a steelworker who rented just one room, and a woman who rented the rest of the floor. (She owned and ran Juanita's Restaurant, at the corner of McClure Street and Hazel Way, the alley between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.)
Note the two small extrusions casting shadows on the front of the building? They supported a large sign for the clothing store once located on the ground floor: "Solomons," with the name spelled vertically in foot-high letters. I remember it vividly because I could see it from my bedroom (the window on the top right of the building). I also remember it because during a game of laundry catch with my Uncle Doyle, he missed, and a pair of my grandfather's dirty boxer shorts ended up hanging from the sign. I don't recall how they were removed, but I do remember my grandmother wouldn't speak to me for two days. It's more than fifty years ago, and I remember Grandma's silent treatment and how she forgave me and made me promise I'd never hurt her again by embarrassing her with my behavior. (My family never believed in spanking, but elevated guilt to an art form.)
Ownership of the building changed hands, and a discount shoe store opened on the ground floor. Eventually, the owner decided to convert the building into one-room cubbyholes, and we moved to a second floor apartment at 810 Ann Street, above Jones & McClure Realty at the corner of East Ninth Avenue and Ann Street, directly across from the Homestead United Presbyterian Church. I lived there until June, 1973, when I got married.
Here's an aerial map of a portion of Homestead and Munhall. On November 22, 1963, I was in fourth grade, and nine years old. It's interesting to note where a nine year old could wander unsupervised, provided he had a destination (Grandma checked) and the street lights hadn't gone on yet.
Ranging Habits of a Nine Year Old Boy
Pixie, the six-month old small, Ewokish, dog-like creature my wife rescued a few months ago, encounters snow for the first time.
The shelties teach her that it tastes good.
The Library Tasty Creme is closed, the South Park Ice Skating Rink is open, and senior granddaughter Leanna introduces junior granddaughter Joelle to the joys of falling leaves.
Categories: KGB Family
(Originally published November 4, 2002)
Hobbes came home yesterday.
More precisely, our late feline's cremated remains were delivered to my unsuspecting wife, who received a telephone call from the nice lady at Backyard Burials a scant 30 minutes prior to his arrival.
Hobbes' true pedigree had never been firmly established. He had been harvested from a litter of feisty farm kittens of various flavors. We surmised a good percentage of his lineage was Maine Coon; a Mostly Maine Coon, if you will.
He was a big fella, 16 pounds, even in declining health. He was various shades of orange with a few swirls of white, the color depending on his current degree of shedding or attitude toward personal hygiene.
His gargantuan skull bore the distinctive dark "M" above his forehead, which I jokingly said stood for "moron." His temperament matched the breed's description: a big, gentle, good-natured goof. He had a high-pitched, trilling voice that was consistent with Maine Coons and totally out of character for a creature of his impressive bulk. Think of a feline Mike Tyson, and you'll get the effect.
My then pre-teen daughter Sara named him after the stuffed tiger in Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. I always believed the moniker was more accurately a nod to the English philosopher. The cat was a living example of Thomas Hobbes' theory of materialism: people (and, apparently, big goofy house cats) are motivated by appetite and aversion. Hobbes the cat demonstrated this on a daily basis. It became a family game to place a tempting morsel near an object that frightened him, to watch his reactions as his "fear/food" calculator kicked in, and to wager whether his innate gluttony would overcome his intrinsic cowardice.
Like most house cats, Hobbes really had no useful function in our household, other than to use the white wall to wall carpeting as a canvas for his prodigious hairball output and to generate carbon dioxide for the house plants. He could have been the prototype for Star Trek's tribbles. Like the fictional creatures, he was warm and furry, semi-mobile, possessed a ravenous appetite and made purring noises that engendered a feeling of serenity in the humans around him.
Hobbes was a karmic grounding rod, especially in his later years. He was always serene, almost Buddha-like, dozing in the sun, intently watching the dust motes float by. Dogs can sense emotional turmoil and, in response, express empathy and concern. They're reflectors of anxiety. Express anxiety in the presence of a dog and you have an anxious dog. Hobbes was an angst heat sink. You could feel the distress dissipate as you petted him, his aura of imperturbable calmness surrounding you.
While we received his ashes yesterday, Hobbes departed over a month ago. The cremation of animals doesn't seem to warrant the same sense of urgency as human dissolution. There are no wakes to hold, no religious ceremonies to conduct. Indeed, many claim there are no animals in the afterlife.
I once got into an discussion with a minister about the seeming exclusion of non-humans from Paradise. I pointed out that in the Book of Revelation, the apostle John says "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse."Revelation also states "the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." Which indicates to me that not only are there animals in heaven, they're really snazzy dressers. (One could argue that if John had his vision today, he would see Humvees instead of palominos. But I'll leave this exercise in operational semantics to the Left Behind folks.)
Of course, the real question here is: do animals have immortal souls? Pope John Paul II said in 1990 that "animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren"; that all animals are "fruit of the creative action of the Holy Spirit and merit respect" and are "as near to God as men are." The Reverend Billy Graham sort of sidestepped the issue by stating "God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there."
It was a very stressful time. Sara was dealing with severe morning sickness and emotionally wasn't up to it. Pam was recovering from her bypass surgery and couldn't be alone, so Doug had to stay at home with her.
It was just me, sitting in the small examination room, waiting for them to return with Hobbes and the IV apparatus. I desperately wished Doug or Sara was there. Their presence would have switched me into Dad Mode, where the neurons and synapses arrange themselves in a way that causes me to become the gruff but sensitive old curmudgeon who provides emotional support and words of sage advice.
Instead, it was just me. The guy who cries at the end of Field of Dreams. The fool who was scarred for life by Old Yeller. The idiot who has to leave the room when Emergency Vets is on. The sap whose last act before filing for bankruptcy was sending a check to the local no-kill shelter.
The doctor returned with Hobbes, who was his normal placid self. Only the slightly labored breathing belied his condition but, as always, he maintained his ineffable cockeyed equanimity. He studiously ignored the hideous, lethal device attached to his leg. Decorum demanded it.
He sat sphinx-like, front legs outstretched. He opened his eyes, focused them with some effort, became aware of my presence. He emitted that ridiculous girlish chirp of his. It was a sound he reserved for those rare instances in which he felt it necessary to summon me to witness an event of tremendous import. His last great discovery was that dry cat food batted into a cold air return would cause the furnace's electrostatic air cleaner to make an amazing zapping sound.
I believe he sensed he was on the threshold of an even more significant revelation.
I knelt down, level with his ears, and softly told him what a good Hobbers he was. I put one hand across his front legs and scratched his neck.
His head slowly pointed upwards and he sniffed the air. He made that goofy smile of his, then opened his eyes and looked into mine.
He rested his head on my hand. I focused on that big stupid "M" on his forehead, but peripherally I was aware of the plunger slowly sinking into the barrel, fluids flowing in clear plastic tubes.
Hobbes relaxed. He leaned against me, closed his eyes again, and began purring. He didn't stop until the syringe was empty.
I don't know what Heaven looks like. But I know it sounds like the purring of a mostly Maine Coon.
(Originally published on October 28, 2009. Hard to believe it's been five years- and I still miss her.)
I've written a half-dozen eulogies for pets and friends over the years. It's the first anniversary of Beanie's death, and I find I still can't write one for her.
Perhaps it's because she's still here. There are three pictures of her on the wall in front of my desk. A box with her vet records sits next to the filing cabinet. Her ashes are in a drawer less than two feet from me.
Ours wasn't a verbal relationship, anyway. We spent hours walking the paths in South Park. We'd share a white pizza with bacon on the living room floor and listen to '70s music. I'd fall asleep on the floor and wake up with her beside me, the thump of her tail welcoming me to consciousness before my eyes had focused.
I won't recount the details of those instances in the past year when I felt something warm at my feet and looked down to see an empty floor. Or felt a wet nose and warm breath on my ear as I drove past the paths we walked in the park, despite the car's empty back seat. Or the dreams of her walking on a leaf-covered trail, not looking back, pausing occasionally to allow me to catch up.
When it's time for me to join her, our ashes will be commingled and scattered in the woods next to that trail. Then it will be someone else's chore to produce the appropriate words.
We'll have other things to occupy us, and all the time we didn't have here.
Granddaughter Joelle and Huck confirm the adage, "If there's a Barkes kid around, there's a dog nearby."
Daughter-in-law Angela and granddaughter Joelle: two cuties!
Doug, Joelle, and Angela at the farm.
Categories: KGB Family
My mom, Evelyn A. Barkes, in the
language lab at West Mifflin North
High School (circa 1965)
Born today: Henry Cavendish, Giuseppe Verdi, Helen Hayes, Thelonious Monk, James Clavell, Ed Wood, Richard Jaeckel, Dana Elcar, Harold Pinter, Peter Coyote, Ben Vereen, Nora Roberts, David Lee Roth, Tanya Tucker, Kirsty MacColl, Julia Sweeney, Bradley Whitford, Michael Giacchino, Brett Favre, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Andrew McCutchen...
...and my mother, who was born on a Sunday 31,777 days ago.
The liquid fuel rocket was invented that year. Oral contraceptives, Teflon, and the solar cell were introduced the year I was born. My son and ink-jet printing, and my daughter and magnetic resonance imaging debuted around the same time. Camera phones and my oldest graddaughter arrived almost simultaneously; and we'll have to wait until the end of this year to see what invention will share the spotlight with my youngest granddaughter.
Categories: KGB Family
I was in the middle of trying to figure out why a recursive function wasn't recursing, when my wife called me upstairs.
She was in the living room, holding a ball of matted fur. With eyes. And a tail, wagging. Furiously.
One of her son's clients was going into a personal care home. The woman had suffered a stroke a week after adopting the Shih Tzu puppy Cindy cradled in her arms. An older Shih Tzu the infirm woman owned had found a new home, but this four-month old had not been so fortunate.
"They haven't been able to find anyone to take her," my wife said.
"And if this sweet, innocent puppy that looks like something you fished out of the sink trap in the bathroom goes to the pound, it will be on your head, you heartless bastard."
To be fair, she didn't actually say that. That was the part of my brain that had just clubbed insensate the other part- the one saying "Swell. You now have three Shetland Sheepdogs, two cats, and a mutant Ewok."
I named her Pixie, after the mythical creatures who are, according to Wikipedia, "generally benign, mischievous, short of stature and attractively childlike." Insert your David Spade joke here.
We got her in to the nearest vet office, and the report was better than expected; 7 pounds, 7 ounces; good health aside from an umbilical hernia that will be corrected when she's spayed; a few fleas; some sores from her scratching off bows some idiot groomer had glued to her head; and incredibly matted hair. Until her grooming appointment, I've been using my beard trimmer- it's battery powered, and makes less puppy-scaring noise- to remove the worst areas.
I'm just afraid that once we get all the hair removed, we'll discover she's really a guinea pig.
The three Shelties think she's a puppy. We believe this because Lucy, the 15-year-old queen of the household, just sat there when Pixie got in her face and started aggressively smelling the older dog.
The cats... well, they don't know what the hell she is. Pixie's three pounds lighter and several inches smaller than Pumpkin, the "evil" cat who does not like changes in the environment. The feline watched intently as I trimmed the puppy yesterday morning. I got the impression Pumpkin thought I was engaged in the moral equivalent of chicken plucking.
So, the cat and the puppy will remain under enhanced surveillance. Especially between mealtimes.
Pixie surveys the area.
Riley watches as Pixie explores the back yard.
Riley demonstrates the mien and posture of a true herding dog.
Pixie, not so much.
My oldest granddaughter, Leanna, has two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16. This genetic condition caused a mutation in the MC1R protein.
In short, she's a redhead.
While none of her parents, aunts, uncles, or grandparents have red hair, it's not really a surprise, given her ancestry. There's a lot of the British Isles in her. According to Wikipedia, 13% of the population of Scotland has red hair and 40% carry the recessive redhead gene; 10% of the Irish population has red, auburn, or strawberry blond hair while a whopping 46% of the Irish population carries the recessive redhead gene.
After a generation or two of dominant eastern European genetic influence, the Scots/Irish ancestry is making a spectacular comeback.
The photo is by Melissa Butscher Photography. Check out her website and blog, which explains "Project Red."
Joelle Cherie Barkes joined the family on May 9, but the final adoption legalities weren't completed until yesterday. Now the embargo has been lifted, and the torrent of new grandbaby pictures can begin...
My son, Douglas; my daughter-in-law, Angela; and Joelle Cherie, the first baby in the family with the Barkes surname since my daughter Sara's arrival in 1977. Taken shortly after yesterday's final adoption proceedings.
Joelle realizes how easily she will be able to wrap her grandfather around her little finger, and is delighted.
Leanna, the Senior Granddaughter, shows the kid the ropes.
From her first photo shoot. The kid's got it.
My international friends may ask, why is it Joelle Cherie and not Joëlle Chérie? Her parents insist it's just an Anglicized spelling. I maintain you can't Anglicize two definitively French names. Without the accents, it's Joel Sherry, which sounds like a cheap cooking wine or a third-rate cable access sportscaster.
It's a battle I'll save for another day. Once she learns how to write her name, and she says, "Grandpap, look, I can write my name," the old man with the greying beard will say, "Sweetie, your name sounds so beautiful... would you like to make it look as beautiful as it sounds?"
Ah, subversion. The sweetest perquisite of grandparenthood...
Categories: KGB Family
Granddaughter Lea starts fifth grade today. She seems to be more enthusiastic each year. Separating her from her mom, my daughter Sara, made the first day of preschool rather traumatic. But it's been all downhill from there.
Lea's dog, Bella, is nothing if not consistent.
Categories: KGB Family
Today is Mutt's Day, a celebration of mixed-breed canines.
Here's one the greatest ones I've ever known.
When you're a Sheltie and over 15 years old, your primary responsibility is making certain you get enough rest. Even on Monday morning, Lucy has it covered.
Widespread flash flooding in the Pittsburgh area this morning due to heavy rains.
We live in the Library Heights area of South Park Township, so we have no flood problems. But it's pretty much impossible to go anywhere. My wife couldn't make it to work this morning because all the main roads have major intersection flooding.
The video above shows Library station, the end of the line of the Port Authority of Allegheny County's light rail transit system. The tracks are under about four feet of water, and commuters retrieving their cars this evening are going to be unpleasantly surprised.
They're predicting more heavy storms this afternoon, so Pittsburgh readers ought to consider hunkering down for a while. If you live anywhere near a road with "Run" in its name (Saw Mill Run, Thompson Run, etc.) you can be certain you're going to be affected.
Exactly ten years ago, this very minute, I was on a United Airlines 737, somewhere over Indiana, heading back to Pittsburgh to see my first grandchild, Leanna Renee, who had been born two hours earlier.
It's been ten years, and we still don't have personal jet packs.
Hard to believe, but my granddaughter Leanna turns 10 on April 23. Double digits!
(YouTube video: Leanna opens her present- a cell phone- and her mom asks a question.)
Categories: KGB Family
In life one has to go to the funerals of the people we like and the
birthdays of those we don't.
I'm attending my cousin Mary Lou's funeral today.
I have no words.
See you tomorrow.
YouTube video: Mary Lou Siesky
(Here I Am Lord," by the Purple Daisies,
Windover Hills UMC)
My cousin, Mary Lou (Kirmeyer) Siesky, unexpectedly passed away yesterday at her home in Greencastle, PA. She was 66.
Originally from Homestead, she was married to Milton J. Siesky for 46 years. She was the daughter of the late Edward and Dorothy Kirmeyer; sister of Bonnie (Dr. Reynolds) Brissenden, and Patricia (Louis) Theriault; godmother of Hollie (Richard) Ulanowicz and Halie Theriault; and niece of Dorothy Norris.
Family and friends will be received on Monday, April 8 from 10 am until 1 pm at the George Irvin Green Funeral Home Inc., 3511 Main Street, Munhall, PA, where services will be held on Monday, April 8 at 1:30 pm.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night Walk, via Adam Bence, 3434 York St., Munhall, PA 15120.
...that I had seven consecutive hours of sleep last night.
Since she started phenobarbital therapy for her focal seizures a little over a week ago, Lucy, our 15-year-old Sheltie, has had disrupted sleep patterns. Her active hours have been 2-4 pm and- unfortunately- 2-4 am. Because of her drug-induced confusion and ataxia, we had to make certain we were awake when she was so that she wouldn't injure herself.
She finally appears to be acclimating to the drug. She was more active yesterday, more alert, and she actually barked at me to let her out.
Last night we took all the dogs up to the bedroom and gated them in. I settled Lucy on the floor and she was out in under a minute. I followed soon after.
When the alarm went off this morning, she was in the exact position I had left her. As I crawled out of bed, she sat up, looked at me, and wagged her tail.
The normal morning constitutional followed- a trip outside, breakfast, another trip outside- then upstairs to spend the day with Cindy while I went to work.
The downside? Well, aside from this brief update, that's all I got for today. The sleep deprivation had fuzzed my brain as much as hers, and I'm finally sharp enough to jump back into a major programming effort.
Talk among yourselves. See you tomorrow.
...was 20 years ago today. Here's my then 15 year old daughter Sara digging out the front walk. The snow was heavier in the back of the house, almost up to her waist.
It's not unusual for me to wake up to discover Pumpkin, our 16-year-old black cat, asleep on my back.
But at 2:30 this morning, she wasn't sleeping. She was yelling in my ear while simultaneously embedding a single claw in my right arm.
Not enough to draw blood, but it certainly got my attention.
Once I sat up in bed and found my glasses, I saw her at the bedroom door. She yelled at me again, circled twice, then disappeared. I heard her bounding down the steps and into the kitchen.
I followed her and discovered our 15-year-old Sheltie, Lucy, lying next to the door leading to the cellar, beneath the child gate we put there to keep her from attempting to navigate the steps.
Lucy developed focal seizures this past Monday, and the phenobarbital that controls her condition has also knocked her for a loop. Until she becomes acclimated to the drug, the medication-induced ataxia has turned her into a friendly little Scottish drunk.
My guess is she decided she needed to go out, headed for the steps,and didn't notice the gate. When it fell on her, she decided she'd just lie there and sleep it off.
The stairs weren't blocked, so Pumpkin could have made it to the litter box with no problem. No ulterior motive- there's no doubt she knew her friend was in trouble and determined she needed someone with opposable thumbs to handle the situation.
Once I extricated Lucy and took her down to my office to spend the remainder of the night, Pumpkin positioned herself on a shelf under my desk unit, where she could watch the dog's inert form. She moved only when Lucy got up and started wandering around. The cat would sit down in front of Lucy, halting her progress. The dog would then lie down, give Pumpkin a wet kiss on the face and then pass out again.
I'm a definite dog person. But I have to admit, I'm starting to become rather impressed by felines as well.
The first day of seizure-inhibiting phenobarbital treatment really zonked her out, and she's still kinda stoned and shaky, but Lucy ate all her breakfast, had a long drink of water, did her business, and made her daily inspection of the back yard.
I'm not sure she even realized it snowed last night but hey, haven't we all had mornings like that?
The other two dogs and the two cats spent the night with me in my office. Lucy was the only one who really got any sleep. The lesser mammals are now all unconscious under my desk, while I have to spend the next eight to ten hours writing a MacroSPITBOL function definition to create, name, and populate multiple table structures at runtime.
That phenobarb is looking mighty attractive...