Sunday, September 09, 2007


My parents were married on this day in 1950. They had 51 anniversaries together before they died, less than 3 months apart, in 2002. I've been ambivalent about their marriage for many years. Was it remarkable that they were together for 51 years? Yes. Was it good for each of them? I'm not so sure about that.

My parents had 6 kids, all of whom survive to this day. My mom said she felt she probably had some miscarriages in between my next older sister and me -- given that she had her first three daughters at 17 month intervals, and I was born 51 months after that, it seems likely that she is correct. I don't know if they meant to have a lot children or if that is just the way things played out. This was the 1950s and early 60s, so it's not like they were all that unusual in the number of kids they had.

Six kids were a lot of work and pressure, though. My parents were the first generation in their families to go to college. Heck, my grandfather's wish was that my father finish high school. Thanks to WWII and the GI bill, my parents went to college, where they met and married. Their goal was to give each of their children a college education. They paid tuition, room & board; we paid for books, transportation home, and other expenses of college life. All but one completed bachelors degrees, and the last chose to quit school after 3 years since he really didn't like it.

I think this goal is a major part of why my father became an alcoholic, as his increasing use of alcohol seemed to tie to increasing number of kids at or approaching college age. For two and a half years, he had 3 kids in college, on one engineer's salary. I can understand why this pressure would drive him to drinking. He also changed jobs a few times, including the time he quit his old job with no new one arranged and a few months before he had two kids in college. I was there when he told my mom he'd quit, and I had never seen her turn so white or rigid. I was only 11, and my parents did not really discuss finances with us, so I didn't really understand the situation.

My mother later developed an extremely vituperative tongue when it came to my father, and most people for that matter. She could only see the negative and would bitch until the cows came home and about how the cows came home once they were home.

I was talking with my SIL one time about my parents (her father also was an alcoholic). We agreed that my mother had cause for her bitterness, esp. since my father was nasty-tongued to family when drinking, but that either of us would find drinking necessary to live with my mother at that point in her life.

Because they were so miserable together, I often wished, especially as an adult, that my parents would divorce and create new lives for themselves. I think around the 30-year mark would've been a good time for this. Kids would be either grown or in college, so less disrupted. Parents would've been roughly 60 with reasonable health (for alcoholics) left.

They stayed together and miserable for many more years. My father got sober in 1987 but was drinking again by 1995. My siblings and I, sans spouses and children, got together in 2000 to take my parents to dinner for their 50th anniversary. I had mixed emotions about participating since I didn't see the 50 years as something to celebrate. I showed up, though. My brother arranged a small banquet hall for the 8 of us, but my father said he didn't feel well and didn't go. We weren't sure if he was feeling sick because we had been at their apartment most of the day, so he hadn't been able to get to his alcohol or what the deal was. His absence allowed my mother to choose to drink, which could get ugly, too. It was a nice enough dinner, and I caught an early morning flight out which allowed me to get home in time to run my dog in an agility trial that afternoon (my parents lived in ET, I live in PT zone).

Even now, I feel they would have been better off divorced.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Adventures in Bicycle Land

I took my bike out for a spin this evening. First, I start out heading west in the late evening, so the sun is in my eyes and in the eyes of any motorist coming up behind me. That makes me nervous. I don't want to be out after dark, so I can't be out too long. My usual quick route (about 5 miles round trip) has shoulders on it much of the way, but they are sometimes sloped for drainage rather than riding.

It's St. Joe's Sausage Fest weekend, which is a big event in this town. People are parked in MY cycling shoulder for about a quarter mile each direction, so I'm riding more in the roadbed than bikes usually do in that stretch. I also have to keep a sharp eye out for parked cars either pulling out or having their doors open into my space or their once and future occupants stepping out in front of me.

I'm still working on my shifting and getting the gear levers back to the level of functionality they had 11 years ago. I can't remember how one numbers bike gears -- do they increase with the size of the gear or are they inversely related? Anyway, the rear gear lever is happy to go larger gears but sometimes takes 2 or 3 tries to shift to a smaller gear. The front gear has developed a charming habit. It is happy to shift from small to middle and mostly okay shifting from middle to large, although it sometimes tries to hold in the half-middle, half large mode which is rather noisy. What it won't do right now is shift from large to middle. It will bypass middle and go directly to small. I can feel a slight double click, but they're too close to prevent the 2nd shift. Why is this bad? Because I go from pedaling at a normal rate to spinning madly because the small gear is way too easy. The bike shop guys tell me the best thing to do about my funky gear shifts are to shift as often as possible in the hopes of clearing the internal springs of their hardened internal lubricant.

Not knowing what gear you'll be in when you shift adds to the excitement of early evening riding with parked cars and pedestrians. It also is slowing down my learning curve. My previous bike had 12 gears, of which I used 10. This bike has 24 gears, and I think I can use 22 of them. It's not a linear progression, though, where one uses front gear A and runs through rear gears 1-8 with increasing difficulty, then shifts to gear B in front and picks up where one left off with the difficulty and the rear gearing, and so on onto gear C in front. No, different combinations are interspersed. I can't learn these easily if I don't know what gear I'm going to be in with any given shift.

Anyway, I still love this bike, even after all these years. I need to get chain cleaner and lube now, to help her love me, too.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Miscellaneous Thoughts

--My sitbones are accepting my bike. I no longer wish to scream or yelp when I sit on the bike. That took less than 20 miles in 3 sessions, so pretty quick.

--I walked the dogs this morning and came home to find two slugs entwined in passionate embrace hanging from the wall next to the front door. They had some sort of extruded body parts entwined and were hanging from that, in addition to being entwined in the main body. I wasn't up for PDA, so I knocked them off the wall and into the dirt. I feel a little bad about the dirt covering on that extruded, slimy-looking bodypart, but I'll skip picking them up and washing them off.

--My current theory on hypocritical lawmakers who vote against legal marriage, etc. for non-heterosexuals but turn out to be homosexual themselves is that they are afraid the gays and lesbians will take marriage seriously thus reducing the number of people available for extra-marital liaisons for said hypocritical lawmakers.

--Sleek's leaking is not as bad as I had feared it would be after yesterday's dogfood mixup.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bad Dog-Mom Moment

I think I mixed up the dogs' food this morning. I think Fluff got Sleek's, and Sleek Fluff's. I try to have a double-redundancy where the bowls are different from one another and I fix the food always with Fluff's bowl on the left. I always put Sleek's bowl down first, then I walk across the kitchen to where Fluff eats. Today I noticed I was putting down what is usually Sleek's bowl in Fluff's place. Did I mix up the bowls before fixing the food or did I put the wrong bowl in the wrong place?

For most of their lives, this would not be a big deal. Unfortunately, Sleek is on a bunch of supplements for her heart and to help her deal with urinary incontinence. If she misses a round of the incontinence stuff, the results tend to show up quickly and drippily. Judging from the floor after I left for a couple of hours, they got the wrong bowls. Sadly, it usually takes Sleek's bladder a couple of days to get back in shape. Laundry, here I come!