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Winter’s Last Gasp
This was the last image on my phone for March and I am hoping it is winter’s last gasp for 2023. I guess time will tell.
Image was captured in March 2023 in my neighbourhood, Waterloo, Ontario Equipment: Google Pixel 7 Pro (Rear Camera) Settings: 19mm | 1/110 sec. at ƒ/3.4 | ISO12600. No additional processing. Watermark added via Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop.
This is the first time I have put pen to paper on Greg’s Blog this week. This was not the plan. It was going to be an active week while I was compiling last week’s Sunday Digest. It was March Break here and my son was already with his Nonna, Nonno and Zia. Freedom I thought, he wanted to see his grandparents and we’d get a short break from a wonderful but very active seven-year-old. Even better I was only scheduled at work a couple of days during the week.
It seems nature had other plans…
Monday, I woke up with a sore throat, low-grade fever and a pounding headache. Even the sensation of my heart beating like a hammer felt like it was driving a stake through my temples, the light from my device screens like daggers through my eyes. Lots of fluids and a few trips to the loo were all this broken body could muster for the next four days. The good news is it does not appear to have been COVID-19.
The stress points that registered on my Garmin watch were crazy. I don’t know how accurate these devices are at determining heart rate, sleep, stress, etc… but I know that some universities have used the results from these devices in long and short-term studies. I actually participated in a sleep study run by Harvard in conjunction with sleep (CPAP) specialists in the field. Either way, once the watch has established your baselines it is a great comparative health tool. For example, my resting heart rate jumped from an average of 50 to 52 bpm before the illness to 60 to 62 bpm starting late in the day Sunday, the evening before the symptoms appeared. That is eight to ten beats more per minute. The other interesting measurement is the one looking at stress levels. It uses heart rate variability and other factors to determine physical stress levels in the body.
The image above shows a timeline for March 8th, a sample of my normal stress response over a typical 24-hour period. Although the graph does vary from day to day this is a reasonably accurate depiction of a normal day for me going back through at least three months of data.
As you can see stress levels were through the roof during the illness. Monday to Thursday looks almost identical to March 15th shown above and Friday through Sunday start moving towards normal although even today is still elevated compared to the March 8th graphic.
This week’s song link is a Metric classic that fits right in with my heart beating like a hammer…
All of this spells disaster on the blog front. Ignored, neglected and forgotten are the best descriptions. Not much to highlight that is for sure.
Five Word Weekly Challenge
Sorry to everyone. Due to my illness, I have not had a chance to read anyone’s Five Word Weekly entries for this week as such there will be no links to this week’s entries on Sunday Digest. Thanks to everyone who participated, it is my goal to read everyone’s entry this coming week.
Four Line Fiction Challenge
Sorry, Four Line Fiction will suffer the same fate as Five Words and will not have links here this week. On a good note, it looks like there are several entries this week and I will endeavour to get to all of them. I just hope my absence hasn’t killed the momentum that has started to pick up. Thanks to everyone who participated!
More highlights from Greg’s Blog…
💤ip, 💤ilch, 💤ero!
Around the Blogosphere…
Lots of great stuff I’m sure but I’ve read none of it! playing catch-up this week for sure!
Another Five Word Weekly and Four Line Fiction challenges are on the way and I hope to get some writing and reading done before next Sunday’s wrap-up.
I am sitting in the same place as last week and it is again snowing. Not nearly as bad as but truth be told any amount is too much now – ENOUGH ALREADY!
This upcoming week is the March/Spring Break for elementary and high schools here. My little guy is spending the week with Nonna and Nonno. A break for us but I also miss him. He loves going there as his Zia spoils him
My daughter is making her annual trip to Florida with her fastpitch team. They go to the Jackie Robinson complex to get ready for ball season, meet college reps, and play a few exhibition games. This is the first year she has gone on her own with just the team but I am not worried. She is a bright young woman who amazes me every day.
For this week’s musical inspiration, I’ve gone back to one of my favs from Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness plus I’ve added his latest release as well. Enjoy.
I find myself sitting in my office looking out the window. I feel like a little boy watching a construction site. The only real excitement this week was two, yes two major snowstorms. The first one on Monday saw 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) of snow and ice fall. On Friday night while I was working the heavens opened up again and dumped another 25-30 cm (10-12 inches) on us the majority of it between 9pm and midnight, although the snow did continue until morning. In fact, Friday night was so bad I stayed at my inlaws. They live about 15 minutes from the office and it took closer to the hour it normally takes to drive home just to get there. The only thing visible was the red lights of the cars ahead of me.
I can see the airport from my window and it is fascinating to watch the snow removal apparatus in action two days afterwards. Giant snow throwers, front-end loaders, plows, melters and ice spreaders are slowly removing any traces of winter on airport property. It might be the one thing the airport authority does well.
Like I said, I’m a kid in a candy store. Reminds me of summer days spent watching heavy machinery scar the field behind my childhood home so that rows of houses could be built on the lush farmland.
Earlier in the week I ranted about big cable and my internet issues. The piece “Coincidence, I think NOT!” was written as a response to The Monday Peeve presented by Paula at Light Motifs II. Hours after a door-to-door salesman tried to sell me Big Cable Internet my independent ISP, who purchased bandwidth from that very same Big Cable company, internet service went down and had been out intermittently (think Yo-Yo) ever since. The cable company finally came out Saturday morning to check the lines and the tech removed a line attenuator that had been inserted between the modem and the incoming cable line. He was certain it was the cause of all our connectivity problems and not funny business from the Dishonest Ed Corp.
What I find interesting is the last time (about six months ago) a door-to-door salesman came to my door to sell me Big Cable internet my service went down hours later (just as it did this week) and the cable tech who came out on that occasion was the one who inserted said line attenuator and insisted that it would solve the problem. I call bullsh…
This week I have been listening to some new Barns Courtney. Talk about an earworm. I haven’t been able to get this song out of my head since I first heard it last weekend. Catchy and the video is pretty good too.
It has been a busy week in the real world this week and so Greg’s Blog has been on the back burner. Here are a few of the highlights…
It has been a week of ups and downs. I dropped almost two grand for new brakes and tires just in time for driving in another treacherous freezing rain/snowstorm. I found myself pouting as I read some posts about how spring was just around the corner in their neck of the woods. Sure doesn’t seem like spring is ever coming here. The weather was so bad that I ended up crashing at my inlaws’ Wednesday night instead of driving the hour back home from the office. Of course, when I did get back home the next day the driveway had about five inches of snow on it, the top two-inch a crust of solid ice. I see my chiropractor next week!
The week wasn’t all bad, Thursday was my son’s 7th birthday and with the roads and driveway cleared we took him out for dinner and some birthday ice cream, huh? I know, not traditional birthday fare but the cake came today at the small party we threw for him and a few of his school friends. Not sure if a kids’ party falls on the up or downside of the week, but just seeing him makes it all worthwhile. I on the other hand need a drink!
Earlier on Thursday I caught a bit of luck myself. As I pulled into the parking lot at work, the DJ on my go-to radio station asked listeners to text in their favourite Depeche Mode song for a chance to win tickets to their upcoming show. I have been a DM fan since 1983 when I found a copy of the “Everything Counts (In Larger Amounts)” twelve-inch single. Someone had left it behind in a common garden area of the local mall and I just happened upon it, lonely and deserted amongst the shrubs and bushes. Some 40 years later I texted that exact story to the DJ and won me the prize. (There is a SoCS reference here for the word ‘prize’ but the stream may have been to pollutedited to really qualify.)
So this November I’ll be transporting back to the youth to watch Dave Gahan and Martin Gore do their thing on stage. Of course, the twosome was a foursome back when I first discovered them but Alan Wilder left the band yers ago and Andy Fletcher passed away last year after suffering an aortic dissection. Unfortunate but the remaining members have chosen to carry on with and new album and tour. I can’t wait to see them perform the songs I grew up listening to. Thanks to MK and The Edge for the tix.
I promised not to bore everyone with constant updates about my diet and exercise progress but I did say I may bring it up here from time to time. The good news is that I have stuck with the exercise plan and still doing the routine daily. For anyone wondering, that is my head in the picture, the rest is just: a) wishful thinking, b) smoke and mirrors, c) a slight of hand, d) Photoshop trickery or, e) all of the above. That may not be my body but am down two belt sizes and can see and feel some body shape changes, unfortunately the scale has only budged a couple of kilos (approx. 4 lbs.) Not sure what the damned holdup is on actual weight loss but I’m not giving up.
Have you ever had your heart broken? Not by a lover but by the genuine tears of a child. Friday I was sitting at the computer blogging when my son asked me to play with him. He was home from school again because of the freezing rain that turned the world into a skating rink. The schools are so quick to shut down these days for weather that’s pretty normal for Canada but that’s another story for another time.
I told him I was busy and I couldn’t play. My wife who works overnight was sound asleep upstairs. He has two brothers and a sister but the boys are grown and on their own and his sister lives with her Mom. For all intents and purposes, he is an lonely child.
My words about being too busy to play with him cut like a knife. First, the corners of his lips sank and his voice began to quiver. “Daddy, but you are always busy and I play down here alone all the time. I just want someone to play with”
In that instant, my heart broke in two. I was the oldest of three. The first of my two sisters came into the world two and a half years after me. I don’t know what it is like to be without siblings, not really.
He tried so hard to hold back his tears but they would eventually escape his grasp, running down his cheeks one by one. He is an outgoing boy. When we go out it doesn’t take long for him to befriend other kids at the park or start up a conversation with the woman sitting at the next table in the coffee shop. I’ve seen him make friends with the guy in the next car while we sit waiting for Mom to come back from the store or for me to finish pumping gas. He is a social animal and that will serve him well as he grows up but for now, it makes it very difficult to spend so much time alone.
Needless to say, I spent a lot less time on the blog and more time playing Lego and board games. We made banana bread together and watched Captain Underpants (too many episodes in my estimation but he loved every minute.) We read books, made paper airplanes and started the final phase of his rock-spinning project. It was a wonderful week.
On Tuesday we took him to his first live concert. He had a blast dancing and singing. We saw Vance Joy in the summer and he put on a great show with no swearing or other foul language so we thought it would be a good show for Nate to go too. Plus he loves Saturday Sun always dancing around the house if one of us is streaming it.
Here are some of this week’s highlights on Greg’s Blog…
Five Word Weekly Challenge
Another great week at Five Words. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Sunday Digest is a little late tonight. I found myself watching the Super Bowl routing for the Chiefs. The Chiefs are not my team but I just can’t bring myself to cheer for anything in Philadelphia. Not just the Eagles, I mean any of the sports franchises and even the city in general.
At least the game was a good game, close until the very end. I was more than disappointed in the finish though. There is nothing worse than watching a team try to not score when they have the chance. Despite the Chiefs having had three chances to score a major on the final drive, one where the receiver had a clear path to the endzone and stopped on the one-yard line and two where the quarterback took a knee, and chose instead to run the clock down before kicking a last-second game-winning field goal. I understand the logic and strategy but as a fan, I found it anti-climatic and just not a great look for the sport. At least my wife outdid herself with the chicken wings and chili.
She was right into the Rihanna halftime show but I didn’t recognize a single song. I’m assuming she did a medley of her hits. That’s the norm for Super Bowl shows but having heard them now I still don’t think I’d recognize them if they were playing on the radio tomorrow. I can’t think of a worse halftime show. No, wait, I take that back, the Black Eyed Peas auto-tuned disaster was the worst ever.
An update on my exercise and weight loss plan. The exercise has been going well. I think I’ve only missed one scheduled day since I started but I’ve seen virtually zero results on the scale. That said, my belt is as small as it can go which is two holes smaller than when I started so that has to be a sign of some progress.
This week in music my favourite band from the 80s has released a new song. Depeche Mode, now a two-piece following the sudden death of Andy Fletcher last year have released “Ghosts Again”, the first single from their upcoming Momenti Mori album.
Here are some of this week’s highlights on Greg’s Blog…
Only a couple this week. I didn’t get much reading in. Hopefully, I can catch up on everyone’s work next week.
Look for another Five Word Weekly on Monday, T-Shirt Wisdom on Wednesday and Four Line Fiction on Thursday. At some point during the week the next installment for the Revenge series will drop using the prompt word jejune.
Do you ever just need a moment to yourself. Of course I found a way to make it backfire on me. I’ve been back in the office for a couple of months now but working in my own office in isolation. The workload isn’t much different from when I was at home so I’m not sure why I was needed back so desperately. That decision was out of my hands but we make do as necessary.
Anyway, last Sunday I left a couple of hours early and stopped for some food at a local restaurant to take in the Leafs/Capital (hockey) and Chiefs/Bengals (football) games, simultaneously. I sat in the corner alone with my mask on except when eating. The bill was surprisingly reasonable, certainly on par with some fast food joints I may have stopped at and eaten while driving and the quality was way better. The problem is I may have forgotten to mention it to my partner who believed I was still at work. Of course, me being oblivious left the receipt in my work pants. Needless to say, she found it and rightly so, I’ve been relegated to the doghouse. Nothing foul was afoot and it seemed so insignificant at the time, but it was still a breach of her trust.
Truth is I just needed a moment to myself. If I’d told her, I’d have had to pick her and the kid up and bring them along or I’d have been asked to bring home an expensive takeout order, not that the cost was a concern, I just didn’t want to be saddled with a chore and expectations. I just needed a moment, lost in the noise and in my thoughts. I was wrong not to tell her but a part of me thinks it’s time we’d have been apart anyway.
It was nice to have a little more normal week on the blog, here are some of the highlights…
They said if you build it they will come. Not so much for the inaugural Four Line Fiction challenge but if I’m anything it’s not a quitter. Perseverance is said to be the trait of champions. I provided the only entry this week…
Out Of The Cold, was my contribution to this new weekly challenge. Hopefully its more than me next week.
Homo sapiens | Hobbo | Someone mentioned the late great Hobbo this week and I went back and read a bunch of his work. It seemed appropriate to add one here. If you haven’t read Hobbo’s works I highly recommend you have a gander.
Just keep clickin! There was so much other great stuff out there this week but not enough time or room to fit it all in here.
One week until the Super Bowl for all you football fans. For me its just an excuse to eat chili and chicken wings! Chiefs and Eagles fans will be going crazy.
Look for another Five Word Weekly on Monday and the second installment of the newly minted Four Line Fiction on Thursday. Hopefully this weeks image gets the creative juices flowing. At some point during the week the next installment for the Revenge series will drop using the prompt word key.
Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question follows on the heels of his unfortunate fall from a ladder. I think the accident probably had a huge influence on this week’s question…
“Have you ever fractured a bone (or bones) that was serious enough to require inpatient hospitalization and a post-operative stay in a rehab facility? What bone(s) did you break? How long did it take in rehab (inpatient or at home) before you were back to “normal”? And did you actually achieve the same level of functionality you had prior to the fracture(s)?“
While I cannot claim to have required hospitalization or a stay in a rehab facility I wanted to participate so this is as close as I’ve come.
The worst bone break I ever suffered was a fracture of the scaphoid bone. Certainly nothing like Fandango’s ladder/hip mishap. There was no hospital stay outside of the lost hours spent waiting in Emergency but there was lots of physiotherapy after to get back to a full range of motion.
It all started on the first day of school. No, I wasn’t going to school. Those days were long behind on this fateful September 3rd. I was out for my morning ride. I’d just purchased a new road/gravel bike a couple of weeks earlier. Before this bike, I’d been a mountain bike guy. I’d taken many a spill on rocky tree-lined trails with nothing more than bruises and scratches to show. These bones were tough as nails!
But as a guy in my early 50’s it was time for something less dangerous…
Now, back to the first day of school. It was 7:30am and I was out for my 15km morning ride along my usual route. On this morning I was cruising along at about 25km/h, and gaining fast on a group of 15 to 20 high school students walking in the dedicated bike path like a herd of cattle who’ve broken through a barbed wire barrier to obliviously congregate on the road.
As I approached the group they remained oblivious and did not move out of the way. Instead of slowing or stopping, I veered to my right across the grass boulevard towards the empty sideWALK that was ten feet to the right. Notice how I highlighted WALK because that is where they should have been! Anyway, my front wheel caught a rut along the edge of the cement and dug in sending me and the bike ass over tea kettle. My head (thank God for helmets) hit first with my 6’1″ frame crashing down close behind.
The kids, no longer oblivious, looked over as I skidded across the concrete and popped up seeming unscathed. Yeah, I was bleeding from various scraps and scratches but when some of them asked me if I was okay, I insisted I was alright. After all, my head and frame were still attached to each other! In fairness, the adrenaline of the moment had me believing I was none the worse for wear. Although, I am certain my bruised ego would have told them I was fine even if there had been a bone sticking out somewhere.
An inspection of the bike revealed some damage to the handlebar tape and a couple of superficial scratches elsewhere but no major damage. Hell, that was a minimum right of passage for the mountain bike. If it wasn’t banged up you weren’t doing it right.
Inspection complete, I jumped back on the bike with every intention of finishing the nine or so klicks remaining on my ride but the moment I tried to grab the handlebar with my left hand that notion quickly dissipated, replaced with searing pain shooting up my arm. I couldn’t have gripped the bar if my life had depended on it. Instead, it was a slow shameful ride home with my left arm tucked against my midsection while my weakened legs powered a bike that was being guided by a lone and shaky right arm.
I don’t know if any bones were broken. The ER doctor showed me the x-rays but they did not show a break. Apparently, fractures to the scaphoid bone don’t reveal themselves on x-rays until 48 hours after injury. Based on his experience the doc believed the bone was broken and because the small bones of the carpals, and in particular the scaphoid, don’t receive a lot of blood flow should be treated as such. A lack of blood flow restricts healing and if not immobilized and allowed to heal the bone could die. That was enough for me to accept my fate and follow his instructions.
For six weeks I wore a removable cast without knowing if it was broken. X-rays were never taken again later, I just ran with the emergency room diagnosis. When the cast came off I began three months of physiotherapy to get close to a full range of motion. It would be another nine months before I can say the hand and wrist were back to normal.
Even now if the moon and stars and sun align just right, hidden behind a bank of dark grey clouds that are dumping a cold damp rain down on Mother Earth I can still feel it click and groan. Sometimes, I think that if I’d just plowed through them they’d have moved or at the very least it would have been a softer landing!
Oh, and did I mention all the years of reckless mountain biking where I never once broke a bone?