I can't say I had the perfect birthday: Emily worked part of the day and I ran some errands, including getting some maintenance done on the car. However, we had fried chicken and chocolate ice cream, and if that doesn't make for a good day, what does? Also, I introduced Emily to Smoky and The Bandit ... and since she liked it, I guess I'll keep her.

 

We also had the grand-twins over during my days off, watched Lego Batman, cooked hotdogs over a fire, and slept. The only way it could have been better would be if I'd gotten some writing time in, but sometimes the days are just full.

 

Thanks for all your birthday wishes! I'm of an age where birthdays are a mixed blessing: You don't really want to admit to getting older, but it's nice to be thought of.

 

Oh, and the twins got to go swimming. I supervised with the camera.

Yeah, life. It's a thing, ain't it? You're rolling along, way too busy, doing too much of what you don't really want to do and not enough of what you do.

Then, one day, you find out you're going to be a grandparent, for the third time.

Well, that's the way it happened to me, anyway.

In the great tradition of our family birthdays being either in mid-summer or in December, my daughter Jillian is due to give birth around December 11th (Jill--it's Jill now, not Jillian--was born on the 27th). I've known for awhile, although shockingly not as long as Jill did. She posted the news on Facebook in June, but I think a lot of people missed that.

I assume that if it's a boy, the first name will be Mark, and if it's a girl the first name will be the feminine version, which is Marka. But I suppose I should actually talk that over with Jill and Doug, and be satisfied if they merely gave him/her the middle name of Mark or, um, Markma. Or, okay, they could use my middle name Richard, which has the feminine version of Ricarda. Or she could name him Hunter, but then he'd have a cousin also named Hunter, and I'd have two grandkids named Hunter, and you'd never know for sure who's being yelled at. Probably me.

So anyway, Jill's life is essentially over--and she's started a new one. Way different, but in its own way just as fun, more exciting, and crazy expensive. The next generation is well on its way.

Jill practices her baby cuddling skills with the closest nephew, who survived and just turned nine.

Emily and I helped celebrate Hunter and Brayden's 9th birthday Friday with a pool party, which is pretty much the only way to do an outdoor kid's birthday party in June.

 

That's Hunter on top and Brayden on the bottom, despite the fact that Brayden is taller (for the moment).

 

Did I mention the pool part?

 

When you're about to turn nine, opening presents is a group activity. There were adults there too, but our group activity was hamburgers and German potato salad.

 

 

It's always better with ... Batman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus video! If it works.

 

Emily and I gave them a telescope -- always good to keep your eyes on the stars.

Well done and lots of love to my older brother Jeff, who got through his first day of chemo for lung cancer today. Also to his wife Cathy, who's always there for him ... my prayers go to both of them as they start down a long, difficult road to wellness.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Apr. 2nd, 2017 01:34 pm)
My sister-in-law's words:
 
Jeff's tests came back that it is cancer. They are doing genetic testing on samples to see if there is weakness in  cancer. If they find one , they will do targeted chemo. Which doc said is better to fight it. If not  will do regular chemo. He is taking it all in stride. He says he gonna kick cancers butt!!! Prayers are still appreciated.
 
So, now the fight begins. 
ozma914: (ozma914)
( Mar. 27th, 2017 02:43 am)
So, kind of an up and down week last week, largely down. While I was getting interviewed Friday morning for the TV news, my brother Jeff was getting a lung biopsy. (Emily and I drove down just after the filming finished.) The results of the biopsy aren't in yet, and he's getting a brain scan Monday; but the doctors seem to think his cancer is back, and he's in stage four.

At least his lung didn't collapse, as it did with his previous biopsy about a year ago. But it sounds like he's in for a lot of chemo, which isn't a pleasant prospect under the best of circumstances. Jeff is in good spirits--much better than I am, truth be told--which is just the way he tends to tackle things.

If you're the praying type, this would be a really good time for the prayer warriors to go on the offense. And hey, if you're the good thoughts/vibes type, that would also be welcome. We'll keep everyone updated as we get news.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Feb. 14th, 2017 12:15 am)

On Valentine's Day, it's always good to remember your Valentine, by which I mean the love of your life, by which I'm talking to you, guys. I'm not suggesting women never forget romantic dates ... I mean, there's no such thing as never. But let's face it: Chances are pretty good that anyone raiding the store on February 14th for candy, flowers, or lingerie is likely to be a panicked male.

By the way, guys: Admit to yourself that lingerie is almost always a gift for you, not her.

An important question to ask yourself is: "Would my life be better or worse without this person in my life?" If the answer is better, you need to do some hard thinking. If the answer is worse, then the chances are good you're taking that person for granted. That's human nature.

When I met my wife I was alone, lonely, aimless, and bankrupt. How did she cure me? Let me count the ways:

Working backward, Emily is cheap. This can be a complaint, but to me it's a compliment: She doesn't like to spend money. I don't have money. It's a match made in banking. When I say, "I don't feel like cooking--let's get takeout", her response is, "I don't feel like spending money--I'll cook". And everything's fine, as long as I do the dishes.

Which I do. Why? Because the other night, instead of letting me get KFC, she made these baked chicken thighs that are so good angels smelled them and started crying. I was so happy I did the dishes, and also the laundry, and shampooed the carpets.

It goes without saying that I'm no longer alone and lonely. I'm the kind of person who doesn't mind spending time alone, but that only goes so far. Did you know that watching TV is actually more fun with someone else? You did? Okay, did you know that reading books is more fun when you can discuss them with a loved one? You didn't? Ha!

She talked me into getting a dog. Seven years I'd gone without a dog. How did I stand it?

Since we met, I've published nine books (well, nine as of March 7th), plus pieces in three anthologies. Before we met, I published ... zero. Coincidence? Heck, no. Yes, I've had encouragement from others, but she did more than that: She pushed me. No excuses--do the writing, polish the writing, sell the writing. Not to mention half the books are self-published, and there's no way I had the design and computer talents to pull those off myself.

And finally, she gets me. Sure, women often try to change men, usually for the better. Her work on me has been superficial (and boy, did I need it). She didn't try to turn me into a different person--she accepts me as I am, moles and all. (We get moles in my family. No, not in the yard.) She not only accepts me, but she understands the why of me. And yet, she stayed with me anyway.

Basically ... Emily's awesome. So this Valentine's Day, which is today, I'm going to appreciate her.

Wait. It's today?

Ah, jeez, I gotta get to the store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


ozma914: (Dorothy and the Wizard)
( Feb. 13th, 2017 11:50 am)

My grandson Hunter got to visit the ER over the weekend, with a fine and extra-special case of gastroenteritis. Apparently he felt his tonsillectomy from a couple of weeks ago just wasn't enough contact with medical professionals.

If you're thinking, as I did, "aw, just a bad case of stomach flu", look it up and be scared. I know I am.

I dropped off a care package of Pedialite, Gatorade, and crackers, and discovered that I can hold my breath for exactly four minutes and fourteen seconds when properly motivated. That's how long it took to open the back door, throw the bags into my daughter's kitchen, and jump off the porch into the car. 

But in all seriousness, take the time to throw some good thoughts/prayers/vibes their way--the family's had a really rough winter, and it's not over yet.
Winter almost beat the Hunter family Christmas celebration. Almost. But in the end we celebrated, if only a month or so late.

First there was illness. Then work schedules. Then more illness. Then weather. Illness. A tonsillectomy. (I realize that fits under illness, but still.) Then work schedules again. Okay, a lot of illness: flu, bronchitis, tonsillitis, a stomach bug, friggin' scarlet fever. Seriously? I thought the last person who caught scarlet fever was Charles Darwin. Luckily he survived, what with him being the fittest and all.

Some of this was with my oldest daughter's family: Two eight-year-olds collect germs the way I collected publisher rejection slips. I think my youngest daughter only got sick once during that period; my wife and I collected five illnesses between the two of us, trading them back and forth like Pokemon cards.

But finally our schedule was cleared, our lungs cleared, and the roads cleared: We would meet at my oldest daughter's house to celebrate Christmas on Sunday, January 29th. Enough time had passed that one of my grandkids asked if we were celebrating last Christmas, or next Christmas. But at least the unusual warm weather made the trip seem like smooth sailing.

I walked out that day to load presents in the car, and discovered we'd been rewarded with a white Christmas.

Well, it didn't seem too bad, not really. I mean, not for northern Indiana in January. I even shot a fun video of it, then went inside to get another load. When I walked outside again, a blizzard had hit. I've taken to calling it the Blizzard of Ours, because it seemed to be times for right when we were about to drive twelve miles.

It was a snow squall, really--it didn't last long. After that it was just heavy snow, compared to zero visibility and seeing (or rather hearing) houses blow by. At least, I think it was a house. I haven't checked to see if the neighbor's garage is still there.

But you know what? We were having by-gosh Christmas, and no more delays! The happy ending is that we made the drive safely, successfully dodging the guy who did not successfully make his turn in front of us. We all emerged unscathed, and I got new fur-lined house slippers, which every successful and unsuccessful writer should own.

And the best part is, we also made it home safely, leaving my daughter and son-in-law to deal with the present we got the twins: a home kit to make your very own volcano.

Looks like they're in for rough weather.

Prayers and/or healing vibes requested for my Grandmother Nannie Bricker, who fell yesterday morning and has a compression fracture in her back. Painful, but not that serious--if you're not 94 years old. At the moment she's in room 213 at Parkview Noble Hospital, but I'm not sure how things will progress from here.

 

Rough day, yesterday, especially with half the family still sick. Basically the perfect ending to what was, with a few exceptions, a pretty sucky year.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Relay For Life)
( Nov. 27th, 2016 04:13 pm)
 

My Uncle Paul Hunter passed away yesterday; he had been under treatment for cancer in the hospital at the University of Kentucky, which coincidentally is where he attended college. Prayers would be appreciated for my Aunt Jewell, their kids, and all the family.

 

My dad beat cancer a few years ago, and my brother this year, and I had a scare myself awhile back; but this time it was the disease that ultimately won. We can only grieve, remember, and work toward a cure.

 

When I was a kid, Paul and Jewell’s house was next to Mama and Papa’s, so they got a lot of spillover guests during family get-togethers—and with nine brothers and sisters in the family, the get-togethers could get pretty big. It was in a hollow in the area of Mousie, Kentucky; I haven’t visited for some time because I’ve heard the area has changed a great deal, and I’d rather remember it as it was.

 

I don’t recall now the name of the hollow or what road it’s on, but I remember sitting on my grandparents’ big front porch, looking down toward Paul and Jewell’s house and past it to the big mountain that rose in the distance—well, big to me, an Indiana boy.  It was uphill on either side, too, and to visit relatives you’d walk up the narrow road, past houses built in single file. Just about everybody had a big porch, and the adults would sit there, sometimes snipping green beans, while they got caught up. The kids would play in the yards, climb the hills, and watch for ticks.

 

It’s funny what you remember from your kid-hood. Even back then, I thought Paul and Jewell had infinite patience, for putting up with all the kids running in and out with what was no doubt not their indoor voices. There were probably a lot of balls and Frisbees stranded on their roof.

 

We all seemed so very alive back then.

 

If I have this right--and it is 4:30 in the morning, after all--that's my Aunt Ruby, Aunt Dorothy, my father Delbert, and Uncle Paul.

 

Emily and I hitched a ride with my oldest daughter's family for trick or treating around Albion.

 

My son-in-law was nice enough to drive, but he didn't talk much: Vince had a splitting headache.

 

My daughter Charis has always loved Halloween. Me, not so much since the doctor made me cut down on candy ... please don't tell him I collected a treat tax from the grand-twins.

 

That's Brayden on the left--what, you don't recognize him? and Hunter on the right. I asked Brayden why his character has an eye patch but doesn't use it, and he replied, "He does, sometimes". Maybe that's how he picks up girls.

 

I wonder if the grand-twins were nervous to have a zombie and vampire sitting behind them? That's not my costume, by the way: On my days off I always look like that.

 

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Jun. 29th, 2016 05:52 am)

Jeff tells me he has all his chest tubes out, and so is tube free and is now running and jumping and dashing around … well, he’s tube free. And he sure is happy about it.

He does have some rest and recovery to work on though. If you know Jeff, you understand why that’s work—I expect Cathy’s biggest need the next couple of weeks is going to be a supply of duct tape to keep him secured to a chair.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Relay For Life)
( Jun. 16th, 2016 12:09 am)

People have been asking, and I'm overdue to give an update on my brother Jeff's status:

On Tuesday he had surgery to repair the leak that developed around his chest tube. The surgeon, Dr. Greenlee, says the surgery was a success, but he did find cancer and removed the upper lobe of Jeff's lung, along with some lymph nodes. More samples were taken, so we're awaiting tests to confirm the diagnosis ... but I assume Greenlee wouldn't have taken that step if he wasn't already darned certain of the diagnosis. I also assume Jeff''s going to have to have some chemotherapy later on, but the next course of action on that front remains to be seen.

So he's back on a chest tube, as the rest of his lung settles into the resulting space. However, he was looking really good on Wednesday and was already up and walking around, as well as sitting in a recliner instead of being stuck in bed. It was some major-league surgery. As of this writing he was in room 2205 (entrance 10 at Parkview Regional Medical Center), but I don't know if and when they might transfer him to another room. We expect he'll be in the hospital another 4-6 days.

You’ll never guess what my youngest daughter, who’s get married, is getting. That’s right—married! You guessed!

Looks like it’s going to be a little over a year from now, during which time she’ll probably be engaged in engagement things. Congrats, Jill! I’m just as ready for this as I was for my oldest daughter’s wedding, so I’m not.

Here’s one of my favorite photos of her, although it’s about five years old now. That’s her nephew Hunter, by the way: No baby in any way has anything to do with this engagement. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

 

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Feb. 21st, 2016 06:08 pm)

In addition to a particularly rough case of pneumonia, the doctors are now saying Mom had a stroke at some point during this whole process. She’s now got a partial blockage of a carotid artery and is experiencing bad headaches and double vision—not to mention still having to recover from the knee replacement. She’s going to be seeing a neurologist at some point in the very near future, and otherwise it’s a waiting game for now … we’ll pass it on as soon as we know more.

ozma914: (ozma914)
( Feb. 20th, 2016 06:57 pm)

Often I compose my social media posts in the wee hours of the morning, then set them to post in the afternoon, when more people might be reading them. So it was early Friday, when I wrote about how my mom Linda Taylor had knee replacement surgery, and was recovering and undergoing rehab at North Ridge Village Nursing and Rehab in Albion.

 

By the time those posts actually came out, she was in the emergency room at Parkview Noble Hospital. I didn’t get a chance to cancel the posts because that’s where we headed, too. It’s been kind of a long week.

 

They thought she might have a pulmonary embolism. In short, that’s a Very Bad Thing. Her oxygen saturation was way too low, among other things, and to make matters worse they quickly determined she had an infection, and pumped about twenty different antibiotics into her at the same time. (I’m exaggerating, slightly.)

 

The next morning we had word that it’s a bad case of pneumonia. It might be, in fact, the first time in history that a pneumonia diagnosis was actually a relief. The sudden onset was certainly a shock. She’s getting better, but still having problems with double vision that they haven’t quite figured out.

 

So … that’s been our weekend. I don’t know how long she’ll be in the hospital, but she still needs some time back at North Ridge while her rehab is going on—either way, visits, cards, and letters would be much appreciated.
Grand-twins … and horse

http://markrhunter.blogspot.com/2016/01/grand-twins-and-horse.html

Why? Because I haven’t posted a photo of the grand-twins for a while, that’s why. Also, because it was taken last summer, and I miss summer. A lot.

Twins horse
ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Jun. 20th, 2015 12:10 pm)

 

My grandkids are turning seven! It’s particularly hard to believe, as I’m clearly too young to be a grandfather. But time is a thief that steals from us all, as I’m sure someone said sometime.

 

I’ll worry about them forever as I worry about my daughters, nieces and nephews, in this world where technology brings us new ideas and possibilities even as people and governments seem to get worse. Still, things have looked dark before; we can only hope it gets better again.

 

But there’s time for them to learn of all that later. Until then, leave them to their LEGOs, Mutant Turtles, and Ghostbusters!

 

 

How many books we sold at my daughter’s yard sale depends on whether you mean the ones I wrote or the ones I read. Either way, I came back with a lighter load.

I’ve concluded that for most people yard sales aren’t worth the time and effort: It’s like putting all the work into setting up a small business, then shutting it down again after just three days. But in this case I got to hang out with my daughter and grandkids, so there was that.
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