Two Good Stops

I waited and saved my Christmas visiting until the day after Christmas. First stop was at Pizza Cottage to pick up a pizza for me and Dad. We’ve been texting a lot, but since I’ve been sick for the past week and a half it’s been a while since I had been in for a visit. He got himself a new set of wheels, much better than the last one… took it for a test drive and it handles good and has a comfy seat for my crappy back. 😏

After a couple hours there I had to take off so I could make it over to Bri’s and have some time there before it got dark. When I got there, Bri let me in and told me that the kids were out back in the playground / courtyard area, and as soon as I walked out the back door Brantley saw me and said “Hey Uncle Bobby, come watch me skate!” as if he had seen me just yesterday. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ƒ Last time he saw me in person was at his birthday in July, and before that… well, it had been quite a while… probably like a year and a half. πŸ˜•

The first three years of his life, I was around all the time. (Including his birth.) In fact, it was in my front yard that he learned to walk. 😌 (Safer out there with nothing to run into, and mooshy grass for whenever he stumbled.) Plus, the Easter Bunny left clues and eggs and a basket here at my house for him, and he followed them all and found his way to the basket. There’s too much to mention – but it went from three years of me being around, then poof, he was with his dad for quite a while. 😟 Now that he’s back home with his mom, I thought for sure that he would have forgotten all the time he and his mom spent with me.

But I went out to where he was skating… and falling… a lot… πŸ˜… and I said “Grab my arm if you want me to help hold you up.” and he replied “No, I can do it…” as he continued falling. πŸ˜„ But he was having a good time, and was proud of the little bits he was able to skate. Then we went to the basketball hoop and threw the ball around some. Two of his little girlfriends also came over to play, and those kids were sinking shot after shot, granny style. Shooting with my good arm and continuously missing, one of the girls said “You suck.” and I agreed. πŸ˜‚ She wasn’t being jerky, she said it in a funny way…

I had my iPad with me, so we went back to the porch where Bri was still sitting and started watching some of the videos of him from when he was here at the house doing this and that, and he really did seem to remember most of the stuff he was seeing. πŸ˜―πŸ˜ƒ I wasn’t sure that 5-year-old brain would have memories of 2 to 3-year-old brain stuff, but it seems like it did. He opened the gift that I got him, and then helped open his little brother’s gift since Bryson is only 8 months old and would probably take a few hours. 😏

It was nice though… he took to me as if no time had passed at all. I guess everything I did when he was younger made a good enough impression, so that makes me happy. We looked at some more old pictures on the iPad, he showed me his tablet that he got, and he was playing a game that I actually have on my phone – so we got to sit and try to figure out some puzzles together. πŸ™‚ Granted, it’s Christmas, but still… he seems really happy there, and the fact that he remembers so much about me makes me happy too.

After watching the videos, he asked if they could all come back out to my house sometime. Heh… poor kid, my house is boring as shit… 😏 but I’m glad that he liked it here enough back then that he’d wanna come back out now. Maybe I’ll straighten the place up a bit and have them over some evening to watch a movie or something. Oh, and I do have my shelf of collectibles (aka “toys“) to get into if he gets too bored. 😁

Christmas Eve

It sure would have been nice if there was some snow on the ground or at least some flurries falling… but we get what we get. πŸ™‚ And tomorrow, that will be 50 degrees and mostly sunny throughout the day.

I’m spending this evening watching a bunch of Christmas specials and movies, getting as much “in the spirit” as I think I’m gonna be able… plus during the day I’ve been texting with Dad, Genesee, Bri, Squirtman, and Cassi… so even though I’ve not been feeling good enough to go out and do anything – at least I’m still keeping in touch with folks. (I’ll assume Amy’s lack of reply today is because she has a house full of boys that will be awaiting Santa’s services, which may also be taking up a good chunk of her time and energy. 😏 )

This is the first Christmas without Mom, and that’s sure full of suck… 😒 but I’m doing my best to focus on all the good memories from my childhood, when Mom and Dad made sure that Santa delivered quite the elaborate experience. 😌 Remembering the music, the big old complicated tree, the bubble lights, the angel tree-topper with the cotton all around the base, hanging up all of the ugly ornaments that I’d make – including an “ET” alien, obscene amounts of icicles, leaving out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, leaving a letter for Santa and getting a reply the next day, the little boot that got filled with M&Ms, and opening presents such as a Knight Rider slot-car track, my first Atari 2600, a talking KITT car, a little programmable robot that made all kinds of racket, Dukes of Hazzard BarnBusters stunt set, etc…

(Crikey… 😯 don’t look at how much that stuff is actually going for now… it almost hurts. πŸ˜… )

Back then it was probably 50/50 “about the presents” for me – but now, of course, it’s all about the memories surrounding everything. 😌 I hope that all parents do their best to see that Santa gives their kids at least half as good of an experience as I had – cuz even at that, they’d still be happy. It’s strange how few years the “Santa” years really were, yet Christmas still retained that same feeling all through the years. And those relatively few “Santa” years still feel like they went on forever back then. 😌

More Nostalgia

I live in the past more than I probably should, but the past day or two have been nice… old memories being brought back to life as I texted back and forth with Dad last night. πŸ™‚ I can’t even remember how we got on the subject, but around my junior high years we moved to a house in the country – significantly different in almost every way from our former place, and of course with me going to a new school. 😳

Oh, I remember… we were talking about all of our various kitties over the years. And while living out on the hill, the strays apparently came with the house. 😏 But because they weren’t really pet pets, and I don’t say that to belittle their worth in any way, but between that and me being rather young – I had forgotten a lot about them. 😟 But once Dad mentioned their names, all these memories instantly popped back into my head. Weird how the brain can have stuff stored away that well, where you can’t even access it by just trying – but an outside influence can provide the key. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚

But yeah, memories of the outside kitties, memories of the bus driver forgetting that a new kid now lived in that house – and therefore blowing past me as I stood in the dark, in the snow… πŸ˜„ I remember more about the bus rides and the time spent with my couple of good friends at that new school than I do about the time actually in school. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Moving was a pretty big deal, so it was nice to go back to the town where I originally started school eventually. But another pretty kewl memory… getting a portable little B/W TV one Christmas, that I could take in my bedroom to watch broadcast TV at night as I went to sleep. (Man… I’m old… lol) I’m not sure if I was supposed to be watching TV, but yeah…

Then I wake up today, start clicking around through YouTube on the TV, and they suggested a video from 8-Bit Guy about the new “The C64” full sized Commodore 64 replica / emulator with functional keyboard. πŸ˜ƒ My first computer was a VIC-20 that Dad and I got at Hamvention. I can’t remember how much it was, but I feel like it was pretty reasonable… a big box full of VIC shit along with the computer. πŸ€“ No disk drive yet, but then later on I upgraded along the Commodore path to the C64 with a 1541-II drive – as did my cousin – which lead to lots of “freeware” copying with him and friends. πŸ€«πŸ˜„

But of course since that was such a big part of my childhood, seeing this thing instantly made me want it. 🀀

Believe it or not, I had actually already ordered one from these folks years ago. They had a crowdfunding thing going on, but then they decided to produce The C64 Mini first due to the then-fad of “mini” game consoles being released. It was probably the right move, at least to fill their bank accounts, but it delayed the full sized version – so I requested and got a refund. πŸ˜• Since then I’ve gotten the Mini though, and now, years after it was due to come out, it looks like I’ll eventually be getting a full-sized version as well. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I can use the excuse that the audio and video lag on the full sized version is less than the Mini, so not only will it be nice to have the keyboard – but technically there is a performance improvement since they’ve optimized the emulator code. (Not to mention double the USB ports, which is a bigger deal than you’d think.)

Not sure why they didn’t go the FPGA route, but it looks good enough for me.

Phones: Everything’s Easier

Speaking of the holidays… over the past couple of days I’ve been trying to get my phone loaded up with all of our familiar family Christmas songs. Most of them are everyone else’s family songs as well, sung by old favorites, and those are pretty easily found on Spotify. πŸ˜‹πŸŽ„πŸŽΆ So I just pick the ones that I want and add them to a playlist. The good cheezy 70s sounding ones though, the ones on obscure albums or even records that Firestone and Goodyear would give away each year… those are a bit more difficult to come by.

Terry Baxter and His Orchestra… I had to go on Amazon a few years ago and buy one particular album in MP3 format, which I now have to actually copy over to my phone – rather than just streaming them like the others on Spotify. And it’s funny, there are a few albums that were released under that artist’s name – but upon googling to find out what he looked like, or just more about him in general… it turns out that it was likely just a name that the record company put on albums of similar sound, when they were really just performed by a house band or even different folks. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

(In the upper right corner of this video you can select from 42 songs in the playlist for this album.)

Doesn’t make any difference to me… but still, that’s an interesting thing to find out about 40 years later. But now I’ve got all the happy ones, some sad ones, 8-bit / chiptune Christmas covers, and even a few from the South Park / Mr Hankey Christmas episode ready to go. πŸ˜‹ I’m doing all this now, while I’m in a decent mood, because I wanna try a little harder this year to not let the whole season just blow by me. For various reasons over the past several years, the “holiday mood” has been harder to come by – but being able to play these songs as I fart around the house or drive in town for food or whatever… it’ll help.

I still need to find a good version of “Christmas Chimes are Calling” from one of my favorite specials:

Now I have to look in the basement at some point and see if I still have a tree. πŸ€”πŸ§

Continuing The Tradition

It’s my fault for not knowing about it, since I still haven’t managed to get my ass back onto FB since before my cancer scan, but yesterday my cousin Jim texted me to let me know that he was hosting the family cookout that night. He announced it in the family group on FB, but like I said… so yeah, maybe that’s what I should have done to try to keep myself awake longer last night – but having woken up before 4am that same day, I just didn’t have the oomph to put on my social face… and I also didn’t wanna concern people, with them noticing that I was low-energy and possibly thinking it was cancer related. I mean, technically that could be part of it, but I covered the real reason in the entry below.

But I texted him today to apologize for not going, and he said that turnout was relatively low. Mostly local family and then a couple of the extended family that live within reasonable driving distance. I gave him props for still having the oomph to host cookouts or bonfires now and then, because even without a kid and a job, I know how just the crap that I’m dealing with can often have me just wanting to stay at home and recover from whatever has been wearing me out.

Talked about how lucky we were as kids, when we’d have the reunions at Grandma and Grandpa S’s house… how all of us kids just always had a great time, and were blissfully unaware of any “shit” that the adults may have been dealing with. Maybe they were just a slightly tougher generation, but whatever it was – it let us all experience those moments and create the memories that we now can only hope to reenact for the younger folks in the family now. So hopefully when Jim has a cookout like last night, and turnout is light… we’re comparing it to how it was when we were little… so hopefully the younglings are still getting a similar good feeling and creating similar fond memories to look back on when they’re older – even if it didn’t feel like a complete success to Jim.

I told him the same thing that I told Toni a while back… just because I might not come to an event, please don’t stop inviting me. When I don’t show up, it’s usually not because I don’t want to go – but because the other stuff that’s happening or recently happened in my life just has me distracted, tired, or otherwise just lacking the oomph to make myself go. But I do have good days, and I do wanna go to those things, and sometimes everything works out where I actually make it… and of course I end up having a good time.

Last time was an impromptu trip out to Shannon and Chris’ house with Matt, Toni, and Anna… even though I had to drive out through the field and park right next to the bonfire since it was during the period where my right knee was almost unusable. And as much as I hate being the “man, he looks pretty messed up” guy, it was still nice to spend a couple hours out there with all of them. Meh… I’m rambling…

I did manage to stay up a little later last night, and woke up a little later as well, so at least that plan worked last night – and I’m feeling somewhat better because of it today. Still having crappy dreams, but at least last night they didn’t actually wake me up. But I’ve already done up the little bit of dishes, made some pasta w/garlic sausage sauce that I split up into three plates for easy microwaving later, the doors are open since the day is nice, and there’ll soon be a NASCAR race to play in the background as I decide to do whatever it is that I’m gonna do with the day.

What Was Their Secret?

Other than being a little frustrated while trying to fix the dirt spots in my yard today, it’s honestly been a decent day. I’m getting a little bit better at having those moments of “grr” and then letting them go… for the most part, anyway. But I can’t help but think about my grandparents – Grandpa S and Grandpa B in particular – and remember how even when they probably had plenty of things they could have been grumpy about, and maybe even were, they still never seemed to carry their frustration or aggravation with them for long.

With Grandpa B, it was more when he was working in his workshop, or tending to the grass, bushes, and flowers outside… 😏 which is kind of ironic, considering the latter of those things is what causes my frustration. But those were “his things” and when he was doing them, you’d have no idea if anything was bothering him. 😌 He’d just let himself get lost in whatever project he happened to be working on.

And Grandpa S, much like Grandpa B, was a man of few words… so even if he was in a bad mood or had something negative on his mind, you’d never know it. I can still “see” those memories in my head, when we’d have family reunions out at their house when I was much younger… and Grandpa S would quietly sit there enjoying the company, making an occasional joke or comment here and there, with a slight smile or ornery grin on his face. πŸ™‚ And even when we would see him on just a “normal” visit, it was like he had an invisible shield that was keeping all the “bleh” away from him.

I’m not completely naive… I know that there was plenty of stuff that both of those grandparents could and did get irritated, annoyed, or bothered by… but that’s why I look at how they were and envy it. Maybe it’s a generational thing, where being a grump ass or expressing your “bleh” out loud just wasn’t a thing that you did. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ But however it was that they did it… I want that.

I’ve got plenty of things to be frustrated by, annoyed with, pissed off about… and like I said, I’m actually getting better at letting it go… but I wanna keep working on allowing myself to have those feelings, because there are legit reasons behind it all and it’s not good to keep things bottled up, but then letting them go once the initial feelings are over and no good can come from continuing to dwell on them.

And I’ve mentioned it a couple of times recently, but I do think that the “always connected” nature of the world today makes it harder to escape any “bleh” feelings – because when you’re already bothered by whatever your own “thing” is, it’s so easy to get online and unintentionally drown in all sorts of unrelated negative news. Where just “keeping up to date with things / people” can end up feeding whatever crappy feeling you’ve already got if you’re not careful. πŸ˜• But yeah, I’m feeling better from earlier, the race is almost over, so it’s time to get off here and get on those couple of chores.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna treat this “project” as a very early New Year’s resolution. πŸ™‚Β Somethin’s gotta give, eh?

Better Than A Micro-Cassette

It’s funny, I’ve got this really nice Sony digital audio recorder that I picked up on eBay a couple years back for cheap – but technically, with everything our phones can do these days, and at the quality they can do it, having a dedicated digital voice recorder can probably be thought of as old school. 😏 But I actually started putting it to use a little over a year ago, before my thyroid surgery. I just thought it would be nice to make a bunch of little recordings in case something happened to me… or now, for whenever it is that I happen to not be around anymore. 😯😬 It sounds morbid as I type it, but I think at least some folks would appreciate it.

Despite being nervous and uncertain about my own medical condition at the time, I made sure that everything I recorded was generally upbeat or at least not gloomy overall. πŸ™‚πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ A little bit of everything… stories I haven’t talked about in a long time, stories I haven’t talked about ever, lots of memories and stories from when I was younger and in school… I dunno, I don’t even remember most of what all I said by this point, other than having a little numbered index with a one sentence description of what that particular recording was mostly about. (Which, honestly, doesn’t tell me shit now… heh)

But I do know that I made recordings every couple of days up until my surgery, and after that it just kinda slipped from my thoughts and I haven’t done any since then. 😟 I think I wanna try to start up again, because a lot has happened in the past year. Problem is, it’s not necessarily a lot of good stuff… and I’m trying to figure out how to talk about some of that stuff without the recordings becoming totally depressing. 😞 I guess I could start off with the good news that I’m at least still here. Wish I could say the same for some other folks, obviously… and that’s where the problem lies. πŸ₯Ί

But I’ll figure it out. Sad or depressing stuff doesn’t necessarily have to translate into sad and depressing recordings. Just gotta do like I’m trying to do with my day to day life – making sure I recognize (and therefore talk about) the good among whatever “bad” there might be. This could very well end up just another one of the many things that I put on the “might do” list that ends up getting forgotten again, but even just planning random little side-projects like this makes me feel a bit better, like every day doesn’t have to end up being almost identical to the one before it and the one after it. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚