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    Monday, December 4, 2023

    The Tragically Hip Replacements

    Once again, thank you for all the messages of caring and support from emails, blog comments, twitter posts and messages, facebook posts and messages, texts, and the good ole physical mail. The outpouring of How Are You Doings? has been astounding and I'm very touched by the caring that has been sent my way.

    There is so much on my mind I can scarcely figure out what to tell you. Let's see.

    Mountains of paperwork, phone calls, log ins, password changes, figuring out and so on have been done, and mountains more await. My interior painting task is going well and doing its job to keep me busy and give me something positive to plan and execute. So far I've painted three doors, and a wall, two coats each. It doesn't seem like much but you'd be shocked at how much is involved in this.

    I'm still shocked by the loss of my wife - quite often it just doesn't seem real. I'm working through it all. I find some solace in the peace and quiet here. When the Quad Queen was ill and becoming more disabled, the number of people coming and going was ridiculous. You'd think we were running a cat house with the cars filling the driveway.

    This morning I lay in bed taking my time to wake up, as I do every morning now, reveling in the luxury of having no demand put on me. It used to be that the moment I woke up I had to charge out of bed, straight to Karen's side to see if she was ok. Imagine being lowered into bed at night and having to have your limbs arranged in positions that you figure would be the most comfortable for the duration - and then having to stay in that position, unable to move, turn over, or even scratch an itch. Fortunately, I was able to figure out a way for her to drink as needed using a sports hydration bladder with a bite valve. It mostly worked. My heart breaks for what she put up with, and she did it with such an amazing attitude. 

    So, lazing in bed was never an option, it was always straight into action. And it would be so until she was safely and hopefully comfortable in bed again that night.

    And still I miss seeing her those mornings, even in those circumstances. We were always happy to see each other, no matter what.

    But now I'm on the other side of that, and this is my time to rest and rebuild my life. So I wake up when I wake up, and stay in bed as long as I want. The simplest thing, but an absolute luxury.

    My appetite is back. Made a sandwich.

    The band I play in here at the Greacey Palms, the Tragically Hip Replacements, is a going concern, and I'm getting some joy from that. I play guitar and might even sing a tune or two. And, we are looking at playing a couple of non-paying gigs in the new year for the other inmates of the trailer park.

    The future of the blog was in question when Karen got sick - what is Vegas without the Quad Queen? Who is Royal Flusher without the Quad Queen? What would be the point?

    But the unexpected complete and total baring of my personal and private life, including the first ever publications of our photos, and the reaction to same, has proven that the blog should continue. For whatever reason, people care. They have enjoyed it all these years and I get a kick out of trying to be funny.

    Painting project. Before.

    One wall completed!

    Jim, the Tragically Hip Replacements drummer, invited me over for Thanksgiving dinner. We'd already had ours in October, but I went just the same. This was to be my first social engagement without Karen, and I was nervous and stressed about it, but it was okay, and I got through it. It was a great meal, too.

    Now I have a bigger emotional hit looming - the coming Christmas season. If I spent the holidays with family, but without Karen there, I would just blubber my way through it all. I'd be a basket case, and I know this. The loss is too raw and Christmas memories are emotionally charged at the best of times.

    Much as I am enjoying my solitude right now, I can't imagine sitting here alone through Christmas. What am I supposed to do, put up half a tree? Give myself presents? No, it would be nothing but a 'poor me' fest.

    Local take on fried chicken breast with Country Throw-up Gravy. MMMM CTUG!

    So, I've decided the best thing to do would be to go somewhere where there are lots of people bustling around (that I can ignore), plenty of distractions and activities, entertainment, good food and liquor, and nice hotels to stay in.

    That's right, I'm going to spend Christmas in the Poconos.


    No, no, sillies, not the Poconos. You know where.

    It's actually a simple decision. Most vacation destinations are book solid at Christmas. I don't want to go back to the cold and ice of Canada and spend Christmas with family, crying into my gravy. I can't stay here, and I actually need a break from all the personal stuff I've been taking care of.

    The obvious answer is to spend Christmas in Las Vegas.

    I don't really know how it's going to feel. But it's very familiar, and I'm comfortable there.

    It's going to be difficult at times, I know that, but I have been to Vegas solo enough that it'll just feel like that again. I hope.

    And just as we lived life on our own terms as best we could throughout Karen's illness, I have to continue to live life, painful though it may be, as I go through all of the 'first times without her', of which there will be many. And I know the Quad Queen would be the first one to say YES! GO!

    Another thing - I feel like writing a bit more, but I think it's time to move on from tragic and emotional details and get back to constructing in words those safe and fun places that have been my refuge from reality for so many years - the settings, events and characters of Flusherville and the Greacey Palms Senior Putt Putt Trailer Park.

    And then when I do go to Vegas, it will be as it always been, you'll read about it as it really happens.

    So, I'm kind of excited about this, I'll have some planning stuff to write about, and then I'll blog the trip live as I go (which will also keep me busy during downtimes instead of crying in my room camping gravy etc. etc. etc.)

    Now, I know a lot of you will want to offer to meet up, and that sort of thing - just know in advance that I don't know if I really am up to that kind of thing. It's hard enough for me to meet up with strangers at the best of times. So please don't be offended if I choose not to hang out with my fellow degenerates. It's nothing personal.

    I definitely will be making a few Official Royal Flusher Business Cards available though - that's another thing that gives me joy.

    So, let's get on with planning a Vegas trip. In the next blog post - is there a replacement for the Little Giant coffee maker?!!!

    Thursday, November 23, 2023

    How Are You Doing

    I get asked 'How are you doing?' multiple times a day.

    These queries into my wellbeing come from all kinds of different people. Some are family. Some I know personally. Some I've never met. Some ask by text. Some ask on private (and public) messages on social media. Some phone.

    And I never know quite how to answer.

    I get asked often enough that sometimes I find myself wanting to just dash off some static response. How much should I really be sharing of what it's like at this point in my life?

    It's not that I mind - far from it. Each and every time someone reaches out to me, it's a gift of caring, of concern, of sympathy for the loss of my wife. And I appreciate it. But I just don't know what, or how much to convey about where I am right now.

    So I do my best to come up with an answer. Usually I'm fairly honest. I say, "I am doing okay, I think." 

    And that's generally true. I function. I get out of bed. Every morning I spend an hour or two or three on estate donkeywork. (The paper trail triggered by one's by death is astounding.) I keep the house in some kind of reasonable state. I make meals. I play music with friends here in the Greacey Palms. I work on estate details. I make plans for the future.

    But there's no way to convey the depth of despair, pain, and loneliness that occur at certain moments in the day, out of the blue. Triggered by this thing, or another. And the anguish, heartbreak and tears surface.

    I try not to let that go on too long, or to include that in my answer.

    How are you doing?

    Are they asking 'are you crashing and burning'? Is it okay to be doing somewhat okay?

    It's a strange position I'm in and like everything in the last year and a half I just do my best to figure it out day by day.

    It's been three weeks since the Quad Queen left. One thing I learned in the last few months is that this blog has had a much larger and varied impact than I ever thought possible. I feel a sense of responsibility to those that are emotionally invested in Royal Flusher and the Quad Queen's story to keep going and tell whatever story is yet to come.

    People want to know how I'm doing. And I think it's only fair to let you know as best I can.

    As part of Jimmy Poon's Flusher Grief Management Program (he sent task grids, chore wheels in magnificent colors, to-do lists, and stretch goals), I'm working through the house here in Florida from one end to the other, putting things straight. Getting things organized and de-cluttered. All of that went by the wayside over the last year, and dealing with Karen's medical situation in the last weeks of her life launched a tsunami of entropy across the house. All of that has to be dealt with.

    And, in time, her things of course. And as I write that, it's one of those moments.

    How are you doing?

    For the first week after Karen passed, I had nightmares. Now I have dreams where she is as she was, and that's a good sign I think.

    Thanksgiving is today, and I hope all of you have a wonderful day with good food, family, togetherness. It's not emotionally loaded for me, as we Canadians have ours in October, so as not to clash with Grey Cup.

    Christmas though - that one is going to be difficult. I can't feature going back to the cold north to have Christmas with family, and without Karen there. It would just be too painful. I really desire to just skip the whole foofarah and just barrel through without thinking about it too much.

    Before we bought this house in the Greasy Palms, the previous owners painted every single room with the same color of paint (PPG's "Camel" - or "Camel Dung" as I now call it). It's befitting of a 1970s Grandma living room, with heavy dark woods, overstuffed couches, and plastic slip covers.

    "Camel. More like Camel Dung."

    So I've taken on the task of painting the entire house. I think it will be good therapy. It's physical. It's positive. It will improve my environment. It will keep me busy, and moving forward. And it's been so much fun picking colors out and getting little test pots of paint to see how they will work in the house.

    I'm going for a Florida coastal beachy vibe, with airy colors of peachy sunsets over calming turquoise waters, bleached sand lit by the yellow sun, bright splashes of reds and oranges of tropical birds, or bright fabrics you might see at a straw market.

    Gilded Linen neutral (right) and three test tones of turquoise. Terrific!

    Earl will figure prominently in the new color scheme choices. He has creative control.

    I'm avoiding actual cheesy paintings of actual beaches. I'm avoiding anything on black velvet. I'm avoiding unicorns and depictions of Hawaiian Elvis, much to Kenny Blankenship's chagrin.

    I've picked out the basic neutral tone I'm going to use for most of the living room, and places where you don't want too much color. The color is called Gilded Linen and it turns out it was last year's 'color of the year'. Already I'm behind the curve! And I've got a beautiful greeny-turquoise in play for some doors, and a super toned down complementary of that color for a feature wall.

    Karen would absolutely have loved this. I hope she somehow sees me and approves.

    I hope she asks in whatever way she can 'How are you doing, my love?'

    I'm hurting. But I think I'm doing okay.

    Tuesday, November 7, 2023



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