Archive for January, 2009

I’ve been away at a funeral and out of touch. So I hope they haven’t approved the stimulus plan yet.  This is a non-partisan rant.  They are looking at spending over a Trillion dollars till it’s all said and done.  That’s more money than even Austin Powers could conceive of spending.  I didn’t vote for President Obama, but I like him and I think he could take our country in a new positive direction, if the congress doesn’t sideswipe him with same old Pork spending as usual.

If they are going to spend that much money and tax us and our children, and our children’s children to pay for it, then use it for real permanent good.  We have heard for years that the infrastructure of America is crumbling, outdated, and ready to fail at any moment. There are dams ready to burst, roads woefully too small and full of potholes, an electrical grid that shuts down when one suicidal squirrel jumps on a transformer, levies and dikes that are too low, and we’ve seen bridges and tunnels fall down and cave in.  Plus we need to create a new paradigm of future fuels and distribution networks for them. And put the kind of research into alternative fuels and electric vehicles, solar power, and wind power that we put into creating enough atomic weapons to blow up the world 1000 times over.  With all that real need, that can put people to work and fix problems, and build a better future… Why are we proposing to spend millions and billions on contraceptives (I know this is a stimulus program), sports stadiums, horse tracks, The Mayor of Harrisburg PA, my state capital wants millions to build 2 new hotels.  There are many hotels in Harrisburg with many empty rooms, pools, and discos.  We DO NOT NEED another Hotel in Harrisburg, yet this is where he wants the money to go.  There needs to be a board of intellectuals, future thinkers, engineers, people as diverse as Steve Jobs, Steve Forbes, Green peace,  Gina Davis who is a certified genius, Lee Iacocca, Caroll Shelby, Boone Pickens, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Dr. Oz, Ross Perot, Al Gore, My man Ron Paul, Mit Romney, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and many, many more I can’t think of right now at 1:23am.  Make it balanced left center and right.  Bring in inventors and thinkers from all avenues of business and universities.  And bring in people from Chris Mathews,  Geroldo Rivera, John Stossel, and Bill O’Rielley to keep them straight and honest.  Bring it all out into the light of day, before the public before they commit to spending $1 of it.  We don’t need to spend all of the first $850 billion at once.  And we do need to make it count.  Look how fast both Republican & Democrats threw $750 billion into the banking system, and Auto makers and the economy is still tanking.  And while I’m thinking of it we can put in some projects like were done during the WPA of the New Deal in the 30’s.  Clean up some streams, plant billions of trees, bring back the plains and the buffalo,  create a new National Park or two, go in and tear down all the burnt out buildings and abandoned factories that scar our urban areas from The Bronx, Camden, Detroit, Chicago, LA and in between.  Revitalize some of those areas into greenways, or affordable housing that would be sold not given to people so there would be pride of ownership and upkeep. Get people out there laying fiber optic cable so there will be affordable broadband for everyone. Pay 1000’s of unemployed home builders and carpenters to rebuild New Orleans. Pour money into research for a cure for Alzheimer’s a disease that will bankrupt medicare, the same for cancer.  Send 1000’s of Deserving students who earn it with work and grades to school.   Train more teachers, doctors, engineers.  What I’m saying, What I’m screaming for is for God’s sake make it count.  Don’t piss it away on some congressman or woman’s favorite pet project that’s been burning a hole in the pocket for 20 years just waiting for this day.  This is our one big chance.  If we are going to do it the old school way and make a big old pork sandwich wrapped in Nancy Pelosi’s condoms then I pray it never sees the light of day and we make money the old fashioned way by not spending it at all.  A very fuming Spiney.

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You need to photograph those you love no matter how adamant they are against it.  And have Them photograph You .  I just came from a funeral.  A sad event a father and husband cut down in his prime.  He was a very involved Father of twins,  a husband, a Son, a  Brother, an Uncle, a Friend and a prominent member of the community. In his later years I’m sure he was self conscious, because of a medical condition he looked obese, but was not, he had kidney failure and other issues that just made him look that way.  At the funeral his family took the time to make up 2 very nice display collages about 20×24 each with snapshots, professional portraits, newspaper pictures showing how involved he was. You saw him with his children from birth through college. They are both in the 4th year of college and in the middle of mid-terms when their father became ill and hospitalized for 54 days. These display boards showed to all of us what we already knew, how loving and involved he was, and it was all documented there to help us remember, now that he is gone. I was proud to see an image there I did of Him, his Mom, and his Brother with my 1953 Rollieflex and an off camera Metz.  My Wife and I have been together for 19 years now. I have very few pictures of her.  She does not like to be photographed, is never happy with where she is at in her eyes, though I love her much and think she is very beautiful. In the old film days she would look through pictures I took and literally tear them up. Now in this digital age she wants me to delete them.  And While I have many pictures of my daughter, and thousands of strangers, there are very few of me. It’s the old shoemaker has no shoes problem. ( I was a pro photographer for 15 years)  Ladies How many of you are guilty of not wanting yourself photographed.  How many photographers out there have few photos of themselves, especially snapshots.  Well my wife and I had a discussion on the way home.  I told her I would no longer stand for her not wanting to be photographed. It is a very selfish position that robs me of memories, God forbid if anything were to happen.  And I recently bought her a Kodak P&S at an after Christmas sale.  I told her I expect her to start taking snaps of me.  In the end this is all we have.  This poor man had deteriorated so bad during the 54 days that they had to have a closed casket.  Thank God he was a Bank President and had a very nice professional portrait to display on top of his casket.  So please don’t be selfish or inatentive.  Photograph all of your loved ones, especially your spouse, even in the morning before they make themselfs beautiful, and Spouses photograph your photographers so your not left without precious memories. It’s not too late.  Start right now!   Peace be with you,  Spiney-Dave

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Well I better get on with this before I forget all the details.  As I stated I get my massage, take my medicines, and gather the ice packs for both of us. Somewhere along the line my trusty sidekick Tommy the cat comes in our room and starts his night under our bed in my wife’s suitcase. I then brush my teeth, rub in some Rogaine to keep my hair from all falling out and start my night.  Rogaine is another commercial I could do because I can state in all honesty it does work! Unfortunately even though I’m a photographer I neglected to take any before pictures.  I then get in bed with my laptop, knowing it will take quite awhile for me to get drowsy.  I have already experienced 100’s of nights without sleep to not waste my time just laying there. Also my Doctors have tried every combination of drugs under the sun to help me sleep. Some work for a day or two, maybe even a week. But soon after my body just gets used to them and they do nothing. I’ve been told what I take now should knock out a horse. The last thing we tried with limited success was Ambien. Worked for about 3 nights.  Depending on the order that I take my meds in and how empty my stomach is, I am sometimes visited by hallucinations.  Not trippy acid types, or even ghosts, usually spiders, rats, or people I know.  I once flung the poor cat off my chest recently because I hallucinated that I spilled a big bowel of food on the quilt and I needed to get him off before he ate it all.  Poor guy didn’t know what the hell he did.  Another side effect from the meds is no matter how cool it is in the room, I get hot flashes, followed by cold sweats.  So it is hard to get comfortable for about the first 45 minutes or so.  I’m taking of my shirt, flinging off all the blankets, then comes the cold sweats where I’m cold, but clammy, very uncomfortable.  Not sure exactly what med is responsible for that. I usually check my e-mail, any EBay items I may be watching, check the chatter on some model train forums I follow, and then if moved, I write this. It’s not easy because I get a lot of pain in my right arm and shoulder from typing, and sometimes end up using only my left hand. That’s bothersome and really slows me down, but it’s better than the pain. Before I know it, it’s 3am. That’s when I usually give up and try to sleep.  This particular night I quit at 2am, knowing I was traveling to see relatives. Well I laid there for an hour with no hope of sleeping. By this time I do get consoled by Tommy who leaves his perch under the bed, and crawls up between me and the Mrs. I pet his head because it relieves some pain and stress and helps me sleep.  He also likes it, so it is a win win situation. Occasionally I disturb him by having to get up and pee, or to get a new ice pack.  Around the middle of the night I start getting a reaction from a sleep agent I take called Imiprimine.  It’s an anti-depressant that is given to me to help with pain, and also sleep.  It’s been years so it’s effect on sleep is little, though sleep is hopeless without it.  The side effect is it makes it very hard to pee. So I stand there and listen to the clock tick, and pray, and mumble. Sometimes it takes as little as 5 or as long as 15 minutes to go. I’ve fallen asleep standing there. I’ve paced, ran cold water, tried sitting, you name it. The Flomax helps in that eventually I wouldn’t go at all if I didn’t take it. It was prescribed because my Doctor said my bladder would stretch eventually. His reasoning was only that “You don’t want that to happen” I believe him, so Flomax it is. This happens several times during the night. Eventually about 4-4:30 am the cat gets out of bed too and wants fed. After we both have a snack him his kibbles, and me a Thomas’s English muffin toasted with grape jelly, and a little bit of the BBC radio from NPR, we go back to bed.  If I’m lucky I fall asleep.  This night I wasn’t lucky. After laying there for an hour, I tried reading. This didn’t work because I was too tired to read, but too awake to sleep. I tried reading for an hour, then tried sleeping again. No luck.  The worst part of insomnia is when you start hearing the world wake up, and you have yet to sleep. The birds chirp before the sun comes up. Then you hear people warm up their cars, and go off to work. Then the sun starts creeping in your window. Now your really disgusted. I finally did fall asleep about 7am I think. My Wife bless her heart let me sleep until about 10am, even though she wanted to leave at 11:00am. I got up, had my best meal of the day, breakfast. Everyday for the past 45 years I start my day with a cupcake of some sort and a drink of diet soda. It’s changed over the years. For a long time it was Oreos and milk, then Ring Dings, Devil Dogs, you name it. Right now it is Tasteykake chocolate cupcakes with butterscotch icing and creme filling, chilled, sometimes even frozen and diet Sierra Mist Free. I savor it, eating it slow like it was my last meal.  This morning because I was allowed to sleep in and we were on a tight schedule, I was not allowed to savor it 😦   I then headed to the showers hoping it would wake me up. It didn’t, I was in a fog. As usual we were late, but it was not because of me. We left at 12:00 noon. Our destination was Laurie’s Fathers house for a belated Christmas get together. As we left my thought were of getting home and sitting in my chair or crawling in bed, back to familiar and comfortable territory. Since I’ve become disabled the joke is to see who falls asleep first, me or My Father-in-laws, Father-in-law who is about 85 and in poor health. He is a great old man who looks like Grandpa Simpson. Well unfortunately he wasn’t there this year. My main thoughts were to stay awake as long as possible and not to embarrass my Wife. We actually were the first to arrive. I try to make small talk with my F-I-L but we have so little in common. He’s a hunter, fisherman, drinker, loudmouth, a Man’s man. He’s actually a nice guy when you get to know him, but we have nothing in common other than his daughter. Lately we do have one thing, he’s recently retired and spends his afternoons watching Fox News, as do I. So we do have that to talk about. I take a seat and try to read the Sunday paper. By then other guest arrive. I keep telling myself in my head, stay awake, talk to others. I try my best and even though the eyes want to close, I do stay awake. Everyone chows down on the pre-dinner finger food. Unfortunately for me it’s all seafood which doesn’t work for me. So I nibble on chips and Christmas M&M’s. This and the lack of a comfortable chair keeps me awake. The other men all gather around the TV for Football.  I never got into football but I try, just to be sociable and not the weird uncle. Finally we feast. Laurie’s Step-Mom is an incredible cook. You never leave hungry or dissatisfied. We gather around the table for at least an hour. The meal winds down to somewhat embarrassment as F-I-L starts filling up on wine and telling us his opinion of Barack Obama. He blames his ignorance on never having seen a black man where he grew up for his first 20 years. He grew up in western PA, think Deliverance the movie. We ask him how come he didn’t grow and widen his horizons for the last 47 years since then. The rest is best left unsaid. His grandsons who are from South New Jersey and very worldly laugh at him and try to straighten him up. They are both big enough to talk back to Grandpa now. After dinner I retired to the living room.  I’m sure this will be it, I always fall asleep after dinner.  I also always get very warm after I eat.  I pushed on, trying to be sociable, talking about non-football things during the commercials, as we all watched the Eagles play. I also twitched much in the seat with sciatica pain, and had to massage my own shoulder to try and break the pain.  We had hoped to leave about 6pm.  But leaving Dad’s always takes at least an hour. There is always some serious conversation that comes up between my wife and her Dad just before we leave. We didn’t get on the road until 8:30-9pm.  Even though I told my Wife she needed to drive us home, I started out the drive. The cold air woke me up. I drove about 1/3 of the way home and I had to give up the wheel. You know that point where you have to try hard to keep your eyes open.  I hit that point, so I pulled over and had my Wife drive the remainder. I also was in a lot of pain, so I took meds and contorted in the chair looking for some comfort.  Good thing she was awake and we got home safely, but very late. As soon as we got home, I got ice packs on my back and sat in my La-z-boy with massage. Laurie and her Mom caught up on the day, and I just tried to get out of severe pain. I took an extra pain pill, and after about 45 minutes the pain became bearable. We went to bed about 12:30, did the night time routine and I thought for sure I would pass out from sure exhaustion. Unfortunately I had another complete night of no sleep. I think the problem was I consumed chocolate at her dads which I very rarely eat. I think that is what kept me up. Lucky for me both Laurie and her mom had to go to work the next day. I was able to do what I needed  to do, sleep off and on all day. Laurie knew I would because travelling always wipes me out.  Well there you have it, a typical day or two in my life.  Any questions or comments will be answered if you write.  Thanks,  Spiney

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Warning this is semi graphic.

My apologies to Lennon & McCartney for the title and anyone who knows me.

Time frame Saturday evening until Sunday evening, early January.  Evening started with a wonderful visit from my sister and her husband and most importantly my Daughter who I don’t see enough of.  My other-in-law whom I live with spent the previous 24 hours frantically cleaning her house in anticipation of guest. The house got cleaned post Christmas this year because this is the 1st year we didn’t have a large family Christmas in this large Victorian home. Many happy Christmases have been had here with large gatherings, lots of children of all ages, and way too many gifts. But then unexpectedly the man of the house died. He was hospitalized for 45 days from just after Thanksgiving thru Christmas and into January of the next year. The holidays in this house haven’t been the same ever since. There were attempts, but they were pushed trying to be happy and it just wasn’t the same.  Then this year another tragedy struck. A family member became very ill. Instead of celebrating Christmas at the big house we all gathered at his families house and had a nice Christmas gathering. He gave a meal prayer that God willing we would all do it again next year. That left a real lump in your throat. Anyway that was a long way of telling you why the house didn’t get straightened up until after New Years, and why This Family gathering was important.  Spiney did his part by helping to clean his little piles of existence around the La-z-boy, and doing whatever the ladies asked.  Most days I need to be told what to do or I’ll do nothing. Not because I’m lazy, but depression and pain make you want to take the path of least resistance. If you’ve seen the Cymbalta commercials, that’s what it is really like.  Mom being an incredible cook, cooked us a wonderful dinner of stuffed pork chops, real mashed potatoes, stewed apples, and vegetable dish that Spiney didn’t partake in.  Being in my mental state I was nervous. When in depression you like what is familiar.  Anything that disturbs your groove, even though it may be a very positive thing, makes you nervous.  I was nervous as to what I would say. Would I have enough to say for more than 10 minutes of niceties?  When the majority of your days are spent with you, a cat, a rabbit, and the TV your conversation skills aren’t honed.  Except for those in your head.  They are very well exercised. You run the coulda, woulda, shouldas through your head all day.  Sometimes they even get a chance to come out.  And sometimes you have to yell “Shut Up” to get them to quiet. A noisy head is no fun.  It doesn’t allow for great productivity.  Well all that came to rest when my guest finally arrived.  They offered up conversation, as did the other two ladies of the house, my Wife and Mother-in-law.  So that gave me a springboard to jump in.  There was a time you couldn’t shut me up.  I was once class clown, life of party, foot in mouth guy, and once had very long, very meaningful conversations with my daughter. These conversations kept us both sane during her teens, and really bonded us.  I know she misses them and can’t understand where that went.  I miss them too. I have god days and bad.  Unfortunately the good are spread pretty thin and you got to be there when they happen.  Sometimes they are weeks or even months apart.  and when they come, I feel like I can do anything.  Anyway we had a great dinner. I did disturb my sister when I kept disappearing during the visit and meal. My medications make me thirsty so I drink a lot. I drink diet Sierra Mist Free because it’s  decaffeinated.  The 2nd part of the equation is drinking makes me pee a lot, but the pain killers I take 24×7 make it very hard to go. So I have two speeds in that department.  I either can’t go, or I go every half hour or less.  I take Flomax for that, which again is always advertised on TV.  I could be doing TV pharmaceutical commercials. So I kept going to the bathroom and this upset my sister for some reason.  My wife, mom, and cat are very used to it. If my sister reads this and gets upset that I call my Mother-in-law my Mom it is not out of disrespect to our much loved, deceased mother. It’s because she treats me very much like a son, she is a mother figure in my life, and it’s easier to write mom, than mother-in-law all the time.  We then exchanged belated Christmas gifts with my Sister and Brother-in-law before they had to leave.  I know my sister wants a closer relationship too.  Both our parents are dead, our older brother is estranged, many of our aunts and uncles have passed on also.  She feels I’m all the family she has, even though she has three sons, two that are married, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way.  So she has family.  I wish we did more together too.  But again she doesn’t understand that while I look normal, my days are far from normal.  I bid her and her husband goodbye.  Then My Wife and I exchanged gifts with our daughter.  That was nice.  I think we surprised her. She’s our one and only so we did the best we could do.  We wanted to give the gift or more time together doing things we all like, such as concerts and plays.  But our schedules and the distance between us, about 1 hour, make it difficult. So we have that on the back burner in case we can work it out.  We then sat down to watch a movie. Since the Spineys don’t get out much we invested a windfall last year in a 42″ LCD TV.  This Christmas we followed up with surround sound.  This is our entertainment since we don’t get to the movies and such.  So we broke out “Mama Mia”  My Wife and I had seen the play in NYC and loved it.  This was the first time for our daughter and Mom to see it.  The first time actually for all of us to see the movie.  It was fun and uplifting.  The only bad part was feeling bad for Pierce Brosnan. They should have used a vocal dub.  Everyone else could sing pretty well, especially Meryl Streep, but not poor Pierce.  During the movie I was in a good bit of pain because I had been up quite awhile without rest. I sat with an ice pack on my shoulder, then my aching knee, and also used the massage of the La-z-boy throne. I had to change position constantly to redistribute the pain.  I also disturbed the others with my constant trips to the bathroom.  I got up probably 5 times during the movie.  At the end of the movie we checked out some of the bonus footage, because we all wanted a little more.  Then knowing I had to get up to travel the next day, and being co-dependant I kept asking my daughter if she had to go.  I was worried about her driving home, I was selfishly thinking about going to bed, and I was in unfamiliar territory.  At one time this was very familiar territory. When we all lived together My Wife, Daughter, and myself would often have all night movie, music, TV, or cleaning jags. We were all night owls who had gobs of energy at night and loved to sleep in late the next day.  We lived in a 2nd floor apartment with no neighbors. We would break out 100’s of 45’s from when I was a DJ and have our own little listening and dance parties till the wee hours.  Music, Family, conversation, and 13 rabbits we a big part of our life then.  That was before the 2 big operations and subsequent downturn of my pain. Plus our daughter grew up, moved out, went out on her own, had a life changing epiphany, we moved away and closed our business. A lot changed in a few years. But when we are together I think we all realize that we miss being a family.  I know my wife and I do, and we sense it in our daughter. And I will state here, I have changed the most. I’m in pain, I’m depressed, I’m alone a lot, and I’m not real fun to be around anymore.  So back to day.  Our daughter stayed a bit more, we had a bit of desert and we all bid adieu.

At this point I wanted to crawl right into bed, but we had to clean up the house to the spotless condition it was in earlier that day because everyone worked so hard on it.  Then we retired. Part of our nightly ritual is after we brush and such, and take my nighttime regiment of about 7 medicines I get a massage from my wife with a handheld percussion massager. This is every night to break up the pain. It usually last about 5 minutes though it could go one forever as far as I’m concerned.  It’s a concert of a little to the left, a skinch to the right, yes yes right there, that’s where it hurts.  Then onto another hurting spot, or instructions back to THE spot as my wife falls asleep.  And I have to have pity on her because she needs to get up the next day, I usually don’t.  But this day We both do, to travel to her Fathers for a belated Christmas gathering.  One last thing before we retire.  I get an Ice pack which is a semi frozen blue gell in a plastic pack, wrapped in a light towel.  I get one for each of us.  My Wife uses it to fight back her constant headaches, and I use it for my shoulder, neck, and back pain.  In fact I will go through about 3-4 throughout the night. We keep them in a small refrigerator freezer on the 2nd floor, just for this purpose. We now have 9 on hand at all time.

This is getting really long and I’m tired. Thanks for sticking with me.  It’s 1:45am so as they say on TV to be continued….

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