Category Archives: Personal

Back to Hawaii

Today we are headed to Hawaii for our first Vacation in a few years. This will be our second time in Hawaii. We went five years ago for our tenth wedding anniversary, and this time for my 40th birthday. How the hell did that happen?

Last time we went to Oahu and the Big Island. This time we are going to Oahu, Maui, and spending one day on Lanai. It should be fun. We got fun stuff booked for every day. Maybe some Instagram pictures will end up here, or maybe I’ll ignore the Internet for a week. Who knows?

All I know for sure is that I will be enjoying much warmer weather than here in Fargo.

New Truck

I’m not much of a car person. I don’t really care what I drive, and long as it gets me from point A to point B reliably. I’ve been driving a 1998 Ford Ranger since well… 1998. I bought it brand new shortly after I started my current job. I’ve taken excelent care of it, and it really still felt new to me as of last week. I only had 63,000 miles on it. Part of me wanted to drive it forever, but part of me wanted a new truck with all the fancy things like power windows, locks, and CD players. So over the weekend I bought a new truck.

After 16 years with my old truck, I probably deserve it.

It’s not super fancy, but it pretty slick selecting my music by voice with Ford Sync. I love it. The only complaint I’ve had is it has TOO MUCH leg room in the back seat and it’s hard to reach the cup holders.

It’s been a year since we talked

One year ago today I talked to my mom for the last time. She called me to tell me that she was going in to have her aortic disection fixed, and it was no big deal. She didn’t want me to tell anybody, because she didn’t want them to worry.

That was her last phone call.

Little did I know how serious the surgery was. If I had know she dropped ill at work and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, I would have been there in a heartbeat. If I knew that was the case I would have seen her one more time before her passing, but I would have done the same thing. I’m just like my mom in that way. I like to be alone, and I don’t like to bother people.

She came out of surgery just fine, but I never bothered to call her because I knew she wouldn’t wanted to be bothered.

Four days later we were planning her funeral.

I was never a Christmas fan to begin with, now they are even worse for me. My mom lived for Christmas. Every Christmas song is now a sad song to me. I have to fight tears going anywhere this time of year.

We are celebrating Christmas this year the day after the year anniversary of her passing. It’s going to be hard, but I have a feeling Christmas is always going to be hard for me. We are having the same meal with the same dishes. We are keeping as many traditions as we can.

That’s what Mom would have wanted.

What’s been going on…

Life has been crazy of late. I’ve barely had any internet time. Here is what I have been up to:

Two weeks ago we got my Mother-in-Law moved out of her house. She is now currently living with us until she finds a place here in Fargo. Hopefully it doesn’t take her that long. I don’t mind her too much, but it’s a little annoying having her around all the time and having to always wear pants.

Last weekend was my Fantasy Football draft. I hate when people go on and on about their teams, so I won’t bore you with that. I think it’s pretty crazy that my league is in it’s 21st season.

We’ve been having problems with something eating our tomatoes in our garden recently. Over the weekend we figured out it was slugs. I read online that little cups of beer attracts and traps slugs. This was after the first night.
Slug trap
So there is a use for Milwaukee’s Best. It’s cheap and pretty much undrinkable, but great for catching slugs. I ended up with 7 cups with 8 to 10 slugs in each one.

Today is the first day of a little vacation for me. Tomorrow we are heading to the cities to see The Book of Mormon at the Orpheum and then Thursday is the Minnesota State Fair and we are seeing Fall Out Boy with Paramore. Should be a fun week.

Last Drive Home

it’s currently 11:00 am. I just woke up from a short little nap after getting home from work at 6:00 this morning. I’m about to head out to my Mom’s house for the last time. Today we are closing on the sale of the house.

It wasn’t the house a grew up in. My Mom moved several times after I moved out. We actually moved many times as kids. There are five houses that I grew up in. Each one was sad to leave behind. It’s just the end of a chapter in my life, and a beginning of a new one. It’s going to be sad to leave my Mom’s house for the last time, but at the same time feels good to move on and have a little closure too.

Tomorrow we are having some good friends over for a BBQ and beers. Should be a fun time, and the start of the next chapter in my life. I’m excited for what it will bring, but bummed that I can’t share it with my Mom.

29’s too young

So yesterday on Facebook I learned that one of my classmates passed away ten years ago. Crazy I didn’t hear about it until now, but we didn’t really have Facebook ten years ago I guess.

He was known to everybody as Dude. Most teachers even called him Dude. It was always funny the first day of school when teachers ask what name students want to go by. Many teachers were reluctant to call him Dude. Dude was always Dude to everybody. Eventually the teachers understood, but at first many refused to call him Dude. Yesterday when I looked up his obituary, was actually the first time I learned of his real first name.

I wasn’t close to him, but he was a great guy. He was always super nice to everybody. He wasn’t the best student though. I remember him working his ass off towards the end of our senior year just to graduate. I’ll always remember how upset he was when the counselor recommended that he didn’t go to college.

His obituary didn’t mention cause of death, but at 29, I’m thinking it was either suicide or drug overdose. I leaning toward suicide. So sad to see him go so young.

Final resting place

So this past weekend we had a burial service for my Father-in-law. He was cremated in February, and we waited for a nice time to bury the ashes. It wasn’t that nice of day, but at least it wasn’t snowing.

While we were up in northern Minnesota, we saw the four empty plots that the family owns, and we claimed one of them. After reading Stiff by Mary Roach, I’ve never really cared what was done to my body after I died. None of the options really sound like any fun. Honestly, I would be happiest donating my body to science, but I have a feeling the family wouldn’t like that. After my Mom’s passing and seeing the cost of a traditional burial, verses the cost of my Father’s-in-law cremation, I am pro cremation. Plus in the cemetery that we are being buried in, you can put two cremations in one plot. So the wife and I will only take up one plot. That just make way more sense to me. Why take up the extra space.

It felt a little weird standing on the ground that my ashes will one day be buried under, but at the same time I felt at peace knowing my final resting place will be a great place just 20 miles from the small town that I still consider home living there from 1981-1990.

Happy Mothers Day Mom

I don’t think I have ever wished you a happy Mothers Day. I don’t know why, but I just hate the mushy holidays. Come to think of it, I pretty much hate all holidays. That doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate everything you ever did for me Mom. I miss you every day. Sometimes I wish there really was a heaven so I could see you again. I have so much I want to tell you.

This morning the alarm woke me up to your song. I know you don’t even know what your song is. It’s this one.

Yeah, I never heard of Passenger either. The first time I ever heard that song was on December 19th when I was rushing as fast as I could to the hospital in a snowstorm. It just seemed so fitting. It was the last song that was on the radio as I arrived at the hospital, and was the first song I heard on the radio after your passing. I added it to the list of funeral songs along with all the ones you listed you wanted in your letter.

I know the Budweiser Clydesdale commercials were always your favorite Super Bowl commercials. This year they used your song in one.

So I guess it’s only fitting that I wake up to your song on the first Mothers Day without you. I miss you.

Three months

So three months ago today my Mom passed away. People have told me that it takes about three months before things start to feel normal again. A month ago I didn’t believe that, but now I think that that’s pretty accurate. Everybody grieves different, but this week was the first week that I started to feel like myself again.

Listening to music is still hard though. So many songs bring up so many childhood memories. The other day one of my favorite Something Corporate songs, “21 and Invincible” came up on my iPod. The opening line goes like this:

some days go by, i wish i was famous
or maybe religious, so i could go to heaven
just like you

That got me wondering if grieving is easier for people of religion? The thought that my Mom is all well above and looking down on me, despite how silly it sounds, sounds comforting. But then the religious folk have to cope with why their god took their loved one?

In reality everybody grieves differently. If religion helps you and comforts you, more power to you. For me living in reality comforts me. Living and learning as much as I can about the universe we live in comforts me. Life can suck sometimes, but you only have one of them. You might as well live it to its fullest before the atoms that make up your body are returned back to the universe that created them.

Be an organ donor

Never in my life did I imagine that I would be paying for two funerals within three months. That’s the bad thing about being the only one in the family with money. It’s not that we have a ton of money, but we were smart, got an education, and are living within our means. So for that, we get stuck with the bills.

For my Mother’s funeral it’s not as big of deal because her estate has enough money that I will eventually get paid back. She had just a basic funeral, nothing too crazy, but it still cost us $17,000. They get you on everything. We had to pay extra for a Saturday burial, and even had to pay for snow removal. Just a basic coffin and vault was 10 grand.

My Father-in-law on the other hand was cremated. His funeral was only $6000. That alone is a good enough reason to be cremated. Before I never really had a preference, because I wound never know anyway. Now I think I’m going to be cremated. My Father-in-law already had a plot, and because he was cremated, he and is wife can share the plot since they with both be cremated. We will now probably do the same and get the plot next to them. it’s kind of eerie knowing where your final destination is, but I guess it’s going to happen eventually.

My Father-in-law had no money, and neither do any of my brothers-in-law, so we’re pretty much stuck with that bill. I could make a fuss about it, but that probably won’t get my anywhere.

One thing that was great was all the parts my Father-in-law was able to donate. He wasn’t able to donate any organs, but he donated a lot of skin and tissue, and even bones. I’ve never even heard about donating bone before. All in all, they said he could probably end up helping fifty people. My mom was a donor too, but sadly she wasn’t able to donate anything. I don’t really know why not though. They said they would have contacted us if she could donate anything. After my mother-in-law’s heart transplant, both our families are really big proponents of organ donating, and it’s great to know how many people my father-in-law could help out.

More tears

So it’s been a while.

We had another death in the family back on February 22nd, my father-in-law. Within three months my wife and I each lost a parent. It doesn’t seem real. Both left us far too soon, and I think that’s the hardest part. My wife’s father was only 56. He wasn’t in the greatest of shapes, but he had no medical problems and was not overweight, but still just collapsed from a heat attack, and was gone that fast.

My wife is having a hard time. She was really close to her dad. They talked almost every day. I’m having a hard enough time time dealing with the passing of my mom, and we weren’t all that close. I can’t imagine what she’s going through, but I think helping her mom sort things out is helping her out.

I can’t look at anything in the house without thinking of my mom or father-in-law. They both have given us so much, and helped us out with so many projects. I still can’t believe they are gone.

I have so many great memories. I have spent hours just staring into space letting my mind wonder. I don’t think a day has gone by since December 20th without tears in my eyes. Soon the weather will be nice enough to dig my telescope out again. It’s going to be hard to look at Saturn again without thinking back to last summer when my mom saw Saturn for the first time through my telescope. She was amazed, and now she’s gone.

Everybody says it will get easier. I hope they’re right.

More about my Mom

So it’s been a little more than a month since my mother’s passing. It’s been a crazy month. It’s almost a full time job managing and figuring out her estate. I’m finally meeting with a lawyer on Monday to hopefully get a grasp on what all needs to be done.

After going through a few of my Mom’s things, I’m starting to understand her a little better. She wrote a letter about her childhood that helped me understand why she was a die hard Republican. It started in college when her brother went to war in Vietnam. Her friends were all protesting the war, but she couldn’t because her brother was there. She couldn’t separate the war from the troops. She couldn’t support the troops while being against the war at the same time.

She is also against all social programs basically because her family didn’t need them. She was the youngest child, so by the time she was born, her family was pretty well off. She didn’t really know what it was like to struggle. She figured anybody that is willing to work hard, should have no problem supporting their family.

So pretty much those two issues guided her to choose her “team”, and she followed the Republican party line from then on.

Politics were one thing I never discussed with my Mom. I’m jealous of the people that can have open, honest, and smart conversations with their parents. My Mom was pretty stubborn. There was no changing her mind about anything, and I hated that. Any conversation with her was always “I’m right and you’re wrong, end of discussion”.

I shouldn’t focus on the negative though. Overall my Mother was great. She raised me and my brother by herself, and for the most part we got everything we wanted. In the last few years we were able to take quite a few vacations together as a family. I will be forever grateful of all the vacation memories. It’s really going to be hard to not talk about the fun times with my Mom anymore.

More about my Mom

So one thing I regret is not talking to my Mom more. My Mom was hard for me to talk to. She was very opinionated, and I disagreed with her on just about everything. Almost every conversation ended up leading to politics, or some pseudoscience that she believed in. I wish I could have talked to her about my beliefs, but it would have only led to useless arguments. I still remember the last argument we had about the Washington Redskins team name. She just hated anything to do with “political correctness”. I told her that if the name was Indians, you could have an argument there, but Redskins is clearly derogatory. The team is a privately owned company and they have every right to have a derogatory name, but to deny that it’s derogatory is just ignoring reality. I’ll forever remember that argument. We didn’t argue often, but that’s mostly because I bit my tongue a lot.

My Mom was a teacher and education was important to her, but she was kind of narrow minded. She was pretty much brainwashed by Fox News. I have nothing against being conservative, but not believing in scientific facts drives me crazy. Like most conservatives, She denied global warming and evolution. To make matters worse, She was also anti-vax and anti-GMO. You know how pro-science I am. These issues drove me crazy.

One thing I am so glad I had a chance to do though was to share my telescope with her. Last summer I brought my telescope with when we rented a lake cabin. She was amazed to see Saturn. She couldn’t believe how much it looked like the pictures. It was so great to share my love of astronomy with her. She even mentioned it to her brothers and sisters because they all told me.

I always thought I was completely different from my Mom because we disagreed on so many topics, but after going through her stuff, we had much more in common than I realized.

Goodbye Mom

So three weeks ago today I got a call from my Mom. Little did I know that would be the last time I would ever talk to her, and it was her last ever phone call.

Six years ago my mom discovered that she had an aortic dissection. It’s a very serious issue, but at that time the best thing was to just keep an eye on it. So that’s was she was doing. My Mom never let on at how scared she was. At that time she wrote a letter to me and my brother and her will. She was super organized. Her letter basically planned out her funeral. It’s really sad, but it’s now one of my prized possessions.

So on Monday the 16th I got that call from my Mom. She said her dissection was leaking a bit and she needed to go in for surgery. It was a very serious surgery, but she played it off like it wasn’t. She didn’t want anybody to worry and didn’t want me to tell the rest of the family, so I thought nothing of it. I never even looked it up to see how serious it was. Later on I learned that she collapsed at work and was brought to the hospital by ambulance. She didn’t want to worry anybody, so didn’t tell us that.

Tuesday we got a call stating that the surgery was successful and she was recovering. We didn’t hear anything Wednesday, so we just assumed no news was good news.

Then Thursday the 19th came. It was probably the worst day of my life. First, our cat of 14.5 years was going through kidney failure. We new she didn’t have too much time left. We saw her going downhill and didn’t want her to have to suffer over the weekend, so we brought her in to put her to sleep.

About two hours after we got home from the vet, we got a call from the hospital that my Mom was in critical condition and family needs to be there NOW. So in blizzard conditions we dropped everything and headed to St. Cloud. What normally is a 2.5 hr. drive took 4 hrs.

We got there at 11:00 PM and she was on about everything she could be on to keep her alive. They had to perform CPR on her for quite a while, so they weren’t even sure if there was any brain activity left. Her aorta ruptured at another spot, and another surgery wasn’t an option given her current condition. At about 1:00 AM they gave her an hour to live. She held on until family got there around 1:00 PM.

Then when everybody that was going to get there got there, I had to make the call to unhook her from the machines and watch her die. I know it was the right decision since there was no brain activity, but I’m still bothered being the one who had to make the decision.

The images of my Mom dying have been burned into my memory and I’ve been reliving them every night in my dreams.

So while most people were having their Christmas week, we were planning my Mom’s funeral. Christmas was my Mom’s favorite time of the year. I’ve never been much of a fan of Christmas, and I don’t think this year is going to change that.

I’ll probably have more posts about my Mom these coming weeks. I don’t know if anybody still reads blogs, but it’s helpful for me to get it out.


So I’ve been pretty quite on the interwebs these past couple weeks, partly because I’ve been busy, but mostly because I have nothing to say. My mother passed away unexpectedly two weeks ago. I plan on posting more about her, but just not feeling it now.

Today Billy the Kid posted a cover of one of my favorite Sugar songs. It was one of my favorite songs from my senior year of high school, and it’s really fitting for what I’m going through now.

20 years already?

So this past weekend was my second 20 year high school reunion this year. This one was for my central Minnesota school that I only spent three years at. I grew up in northern Minnesota and went to school there through my freshman year of high school, then moved to central Minnesota and spent my final three years of high school there. While I had a great time in high school there, I didn’t meet any lifelong friends. It was hard for me to fit in with kids that have been friends since elementary school, in just three years. I didn’t really have my “group”. I hung out with everybody. I bashed heads with the jocks on the football field, played music with the band geeks, and tried to pretend I was smart and hung out with the smart kids taking the hardest classes I could.

I never thought I would be one of those guys that didn’t want to go to their reunions. I went to my 10 year reunion, and it was awkward. Everybody looked familiar, but I could barely remember names. After 10 years we were totally different people, and really didn’t have much in common. I loved high school, and would do anything to go back to those times, but reunions don’t do it. If I still lived in the same town I probably would have stopped by, but it wasn’t worth the time to travel. I’m sure my reunions would be better if I would have gotten closer with people, but for now, being Facebook friends is good enough for me.

Smokers Stink

Over the weekend we were out of town, but my in-laws stayed at our house. My father-in-law must have driven my truck. Normally I wouldn’t have cared, but he smoked in it. Smoking is so disgusting. I am around it so little now that it really bothers me. I can smell it on my hands now after using my steering wheel. So gross.

I don’t get why someone would pay thousands of dollars a year to smell, not to mention the health affects. I know smokers don’t realize that they smell, but they do. If you smoke, you fucking stink and I don’t want to be around you. And please don’t just throw you cigarette butt anywhere. Seeing nasty cigarette butt everywhere is another pet peeve of mine.

Recurring themes

It’s always weird when odd-ball things come up multiple times a day. Today that happened to me with Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy. First I was watching TWiT and Leo mentioned the Carnegie Libraries. If you didn’t know, Andrew Carnegie donated money to help build over 2500 libraries across the US in the early 1900s. It seems like almost every decent sized town got one. Sadly many of them have been torn down. Moorhead had one, and Fargo had two, but none of them still exist.

Then I got an email about my 20 year class reunion (how did that happen). One of the activities is a tour of the newly remodeled Carnegie Library. When I lived there I didn’t realize that I walked by a building that was built in 1914 by money donated by Andrew Carnegie every day on my way to school. To me it was just an old office building across the street from the current library. Some time after I moved away I learned that it was an old Carnegie Library. I’m glad that they decided to remodel it rather than tear it down.

Then while I was listening to the latest Planetary Radio Podcast, they were talking about the Mount Wilson Observatory, and what do you know, Andrew Carnegie donated money to help build it too.

So there you have it. Three referenced to Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy before noon. It’s weird how that happens.

Remember 1990

This video brought back a lot of memories. 1990 was a big year in my childhood. It was the year my family and I moved. I was a sophomore in high school and had to leave all my friends and start over. I made new friends, but nothing like my friends from my old home town. To this day, the best friends I have now I’ve known since 1st grade.

The music of 1990 was horrible too. That’s probably part of the reason why I learned to hate mainstream music. It got better latter into the 90s, but 1990 sucked. Best new artist Milli Vanilli? WTF?

via laughingsquid