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!



I want to apologize to everyone I’ve been in contact with about photos for the “Images Of America: Albion and Noble County” project. With my daughter sick for so long and in the hospital for over a week, and the book signing to prepare for, I haven’t gotten back to people like I planned to. I’ll get back on it—as soon as I’m feeling better.

Emily gave me her virus, although oddly, I don’t seem to be quite as sick as she’s been. Usually I get the man flu and curl into a whiney little ball (not that I’m not whining).  She’s slowly getting a little better, while I seem to be getting a little worse, so we haven’t been able to visit Charis as much as I’d hoped. Now I’m hoping that by the time you read this she’ll be home, although there’s still a lot of work to do on her health.

What Charis is going through is much worse than bronchitis, and the only thing I can say for it is that it’s not contagious: My shift partner seems to also have what Emily and I have. Sometimes it’s not nice to share.

ozma914: (Dorothy and the Wizard)
( May. 3rd, 2014 11:25 am)

We bought a bathroom sink last night, and already have a newer toilet waiting, thanks to my daughter and son-in-law. This morning we spent some time trying to figure out the maze of plumbing in the basement, which has resolved itself more or less into two different but interrelated systems, installed decades ago in an already standing house by two drunk bakers and their assistant, a trained monkey. (I'm kidding: The monkey wasn't trained.) Apparently they had a dozen extra valves they didn't know what to do with, so they just threw them in at random.


The plan: To turn off and drain the hot water heating system, remove the radiator, sink, and toilet from the bathroom, replace the already ripped-up bathroom carpet (seriously, whose idea was that?) with linoleum, then put them all back in again in working order. Then put all the old stuff out for spring cleanup a week from today.


Pray for us. Because we don't have a prayer.




            Yeah, so, I got married.

            On a related note, I’m getting married next year.

            Oh, relax; I’m not taking up polygamy. I don’t have the energy for that. Can you imagine how exhausting it must be, to try and keep up with more than one wife? Even if they knew about each other … if they didn’t, it would be even more of a challenge. What would happen to some poor guy with five wives if it’s really true about women who live together all getting on the same cycle? I’m not talking bikes, either.

            Sudden death, that’s what would happen.

            I was engaged for exactly two years to a woman who’s wonderful, sweet, sexy, smart, and reads this column. For several reasons, including her college education and scheduling, we didn’t go ahead.


Have you ever tried to plan a wedding? I’m working on a novel in which one of the characters is an amateur wedding planner, so I did a lot of research. Men think all they have to do is show up without getting food on their tuxes. I thought a boutonniere was a pirate’s footwear. Many women, on the other hand, spend years planning their wedding, even if they aren’t even in one. )


Father of the bride


My daughter got married this month.

I know what you’re thinking: “But Mark, you’re not old enough!” Darn tootin’. The scandalous truth is, I’m only five years older than my daughter. Yep. Scientists are mystified.

The other scandalous truth is that my main concern wasn’t the event, or pining away for my little girl grown, the way fathers are supposed to. No. I was stressed about what would go wrong.

There seems to be some kind of big Karmic thing going on for me this year: “Okay, Mark: You finally got your first book published, so we’re going to make the rest of 2011 living hell.”

And that’s exactly what happened. Illness, injury, death, fire, accidents – you name it, it happened to my friends and family this year. I lost so much blood in 2011, I thought I was in an IRS audit. (As I write this there’s a tornado watch and heavy thunderstorm going through. In mid-November. See?)

 So I knew – just knew – something would go horribly wrong. Not some little something, either. Big fight; plane crash in the parking lot; male guest wearing a dress that matches the bride’s. Something big. )
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Nov. 19th, 2011 04:48 am)
My daughters Charis Koehl and Jillian Hunter are coming over Sunday to help Emily and I decorate for Christmas, violating my usual rule of never thinking about Christmas before Thanksiving. Might as well fudge it by feeding them a Thanksgiving dinner early, don't you think? It just so happens I had a small turkey and rolls in the deep freeze, and stuffing mix in the cupboard ...

Looks like I've got some housecleaning to do first.
I was too busy most of the time to take a lot of photos at Charis' and Vince's wedding, but here are a few snapshots Emily and I took along the way:

This is just me and Emily at the reception. I wonder if the twins thought I was Mr. Conductor? Usually my dress uniform is a bit fancier than this; my badge and other "hardware" turned up missing, and it wasn't until we were on the way over that I realized they were on my less formal class "B" uniform. Who'd have thought a spare badge would come in handy?

The first dance ...
Emily took this one, and had a lot of trouble in the low light getting something from a distance. Right after this my grandson Brayden ran up and started screaming at us, apparently unhappy that Mom wasn't giving him enough attention, so the rest of the dance involved three dancers.

The DJ is a professional air personality who goes by Chris Cage ... but he's also my brother-in-law, which makes these three helpers my nieces and nephews. They lost their home to fire a few months ago, but it's being rebuilt and everyone's doing fine. Christian (on the right) is wearing a shirt that came all the way from England, courtesy my good LJ friend[personal profile] gillo.

Family! That's Emily with my brother, mother, and step-father, and standing in the background is my chocolate brother Martin. Hey, that's what we call him. My grandmother is in the back table, to the right.

The Groom's family! Emily and I were a bit occupied when the photo of the bride's family was taken.

ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Winter hatred)
( Nov. 11th, 2011 12:21 am)
Measurable snow tonight, sticking to the grass, and even in some places on the pavement; we've already had a few slush related accidents. It's hardly a record, and nowhere near as bad as the conditions earlier this week just west and north of Indiana (not to mention the snowstorm out east). Still ... DISLIKE.

On the brighter side, my daughter's getting married in less than two days!
I got so busy with everybody being sick, getting my furnace back up and running, and my daughter's upcoming wedding, that I forgot to post my column for last week here. Probably for the best, since it covers some political ground -- just ignore it. If you do read it, you'll know the title it is a shout-out to Jonathan Swift.

On a more cheerful note, Charis is getting married this coming Saturday! You should see the twins in their little three year old tuxes. I mean, the twins are three, not the tuxes. I, on the other hand, tried on my dress uniform for the first time in a year -- and will be eating nothing for the next five days.  Meanwhile, I might be a bit sparse online for the next week ...


I’ve paid more attention to the Occupy Wall Street crowd since they were endorsed by the American Nazi Party, the Communist Party of America, and Iranian university students. Anyone who thinks protestors can’t accomplish much should remember that in other countries all three of those groups started out with protests, and all three accomplished great things.
I mean “great” as in big, world changing things, mind you, not great as in “wow – chocolate ice cream!”
It goes without saying that most Occupiers are not racists, communists, or Iranian, just as most Tea Partiers are not from the fringe elements spotlighted by the media. In fact, both groups are similar in ways they’d rather not admit, right down to being against something “Big”. The main differences seem to be that Hollywood loves Occupy, and the Tea Partiers are less messy. )
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Astrid and Walter)
( Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:16 am)
Got up to 95 degrees yesterday ... heat index of 103 or so ... so naturally, my oldest daughter and I spent the late morning and early afternoon helping my youngest daughter move. From one upstairs apartment, across town, to another upstairs apartment.

I'm just now starting to get sore, but I'm still tired ... and I think maybe still a little dehydrated.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Winter hatred)
( Feb. 3rd, 2011 02:12 am)
The blizzard seems to be over for just about everyone, now. The official snow amount here varies from 8.6 to 12 inches, depending on your specific area ... it looks to me like we were closer to the high number here in Albion.  We're looking at sub-zero low temperatures and highs in the teens the next couple of days, followed by a bit more snow over the weekend.

My soon-to-be son-in-law saved my life. Well, at least my back, and possibly my life: Vinny and Charis brought over their snow blower and did most of the work to clear my driveway and sidewalk yesterday. As it went through, you could see the layers: snow, sleet, snow, sleet. It was a very heavy, wet snow, and my back is still a bit sore from the last snowfall -- I really don't think I could have gotten it all done without their help.  Yay for 25 year old Montgomery Ward gas snow blowers!

Emily is keeping her new antibiotics down okay -- but now, it seems, we've both caught a cold.
This week's schedule has been a disaster. On a related note, I hurt my back shoveling snow. Who didn't see *that* coming? We only got five or six inches of snow -- the heavy stuff, but what's my back going to do when we get a *real* snowstorm?

I did get some writing in, thanks to Emily being back in college and me getting distraction-free writing time at the IPFW library. That's why I haven't been online -- I could use her password to go wireless, but that would be the end of the writing. I took a break from the fire history book to write a Fringe fanfiction, which will probably go up next week after Emily has had a chance to beta it for me. I figured I might as well dive into one of my favorite running shows before the inevitable Friday night Fox massacre that makes it one of my favorite canceled shows.

Then there's the weird dream from this morning:

Cut for odd, confusing, but not too disturbing dream imagery. Is there a Freud in the house? )
ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Dec. 17th, 2010 01:08 am)
Jillian is getting over an illness/fever and now Charis has strep throat; they've both been on antibiotics. Now I've got a scratchy throat and that weird malaise thing going on where my skin feels oddly sensitive and my sinuses start aching. (One of my shift partners called in shift a couple of days ago.)

In addition to the obvious health concerns -- we so don't have time for this.

If I disappear for a few days, it might be for a legitimate reason this time, but I'm pushing the citrus and fluids and hoping for the best.
... Because, despite my best intentions, I just haven't been able to keep up on posts even on LiveJournal, let alone Facebook or Twitter. I don't see it getting better, either -- not if I want to finish polishing my latest novel and get it off to an agent and/or publisher. Finally selling one (no, still no release date on Storm Chaser) has lit a fire under me: If I sold one I can sell another, and if I can sell another I can eventually do it for a living, but I need to put the time in.

But the reason I wasn't online much last week wasn't related to writing challenges ... )
Writer/actress Felicia Day commented over on the GoodReads site that she suspected the writer of a book she'd just finished (Unclean Spirits, by M.L.N. Hanover) was a male, and it turns out she was right.

When I asked her about it, she told me she could definitely tell, but couldn't say why -- just a gut instinct. (Yes, she actually replied to my comment, just as Amber Benson did to my comment on her Twitter some time ago. I don't expect we'll end up hanging out together, sipping coffee and discussing characterization.)

This is something I've thought about from time to time, as I've written three novels I call romantic comedies -- in other words, romance novels, written by a male. It's more common than you might imagine, but it's far from unheard of. Emily says it's okay; I write like a girl, anyway. Um ... thanks? :-)

Storm Chaser would be shelved as a romance, and the novel I'm working on now is from the POV of a teenage girl, so I'm curious: How many of you can tell whether a writer is male or female, and why? I mean other than their names, of course! If you see initials instead of a first name on a book cover, there's a good chance it's someone working in a genre that's usually thought of as appealing mostly to readers of the opposite sex.

Oh, I almost forgot: My internet presence will be sparse over the next few days. Emily's feeling under the weather (nothing serious), so we're going to stay warm and comfy at home as well as, if weather and health permits, spend some time at the Kendallville Apple Festival and hopefully visit with Charis, Vinny, and the twins.

<lj-cut text="You people who read my Memorial Day weekend of woe post, you already know most of this stuff; I just retold the story to get a column out of it. 'Cause I believe in recycling.">
Frankly, I thought I was handling things pretty well.

We had … how can I say this …? An interesting Memorial Day weekend, in the same way the Chinese mean with their old curse, “May you live in interesting times”. It was fun for the whole family, in the same way some people say “fun” when describing tornado touchdowns and Ebola outbreaks.

Oh, let me begin this story by telling you the ending: Everyone’s fine. Remember that.

It started with my grandson Hunter getting poison ivy on his hands. He’s less than two years old, so that’s a big deal – although it’s hardly surprising, considering he’s one of those kids who has to grab hold of everything he sees.

To give you an idea of how the weekend went, by Monday I’d forgotten about the poison ivy.

Next was his brother, Brayden, getting rushed to the hospital with 105 degree fever. In an attempt to calm my daughter (Brayden’s dad had already gone airborne to the hospital, and he was not in an aircraft), I explained over the phone that high fevers weren’t nearly as bad for toddlers as for older people.

Which is true, but 105 is still pretty darn high. However, I was calm. After all, I wasn’t there.

When Brayden had to be admitted to the hospital Sunday to get intravenous fluids (because it hurt to swallow, causing dehydration), I told his parents that they’d take good care of him and he’d be wetting his diapers again in no time.

I confess, my optimism faltered when he had an allergic reaction to the medication that night, and had to be put on more medicine.

I visited the hospital for only a short time the next day, under the theory that he needed rest, which a bunch of people fussing over him wouldn’t provide. At the time, I thought I was putting up a pretty good front of willingly walking away from the expression of misery on that poor tyke, but who knows if witnesses would agree?

That was one ongoing sage, interwoven like a good detective movie with another storyline, only without the multimillion dollar salaries. The other started with a three a.m. phone call Saturday morning. A hit and run driver blew a red light in Fort Wayne, slamming into our family’s little Nissan Sentra and pushing it into a guard rail.

So right there came two of a parent’s worst nightmares: My grandkid was in the hospital, and my daughter in a car wreck. At least it was the other daughter, not the one with the twins – one person can only go through so much.

I handled it very well. Honest.

Emily and I, who had both just fallen asleep after a very long Friday, headed to Fort Wayne. I haven’t dealt with a situation like this in many years (and didn’t have a clue), so by 5:30 a.m. we were knocking on the door of my other daughter, whose boyfriend is something of a mechanical genius. (And whose son was sick, but Brayden was home and seemed to be doing okay at that point.)

Vinny, as expected, jumped at the chance to help out, because that’s the kind of person he is. (Actually he shuffled at the chance to help out – it was 5:30, after all.) But we were on a time limit: The tow company’s lot closed at noon, and wouldn’t reopen again until Tuesday morning. We either moved the car that morning, or paid a daily lot fee for three days.

I have no doubt Vinny could fix it, despite the bent wheel, broken headlight, and missing rear bumper. But was it worth it? The Nissan was twelve years old, covered in rust, its driver’s side window stuck in the up position, and with no working dash lights. I had only liability insurance for it, so that wasn’t a factor – it could be fixed and maybe run for awhile, or be compacted into the world’s heaviest ash tray.

Even with another tow fee, we could make a little more in scrap metal than it would cost to get it out of there. But it was late Saturday morning, hot, and I’d been up all night. Trying to get it moved was more trouble than it was worth. I signed it over to the towing company, and that extra couple of hundred bucks for scrapping it out was theirs.

I remember the day we bought that car: Jillian hated it at first. But both my daughters learned to drive in that little 1998 Sentra. It was the car I drove 500 miles to meet Emily for the first time, and we went through both good and bad times in it. Some of us were a little emotional.

Not me, though. I was being practical. I must have presented a cool, collected picture, a calm center, as we steered our collective canoe up Crap Creek without a paddle.

Then, a couple of days later, I saw the picture.

Charis wanted a photo of me in front of the Nissan, just for old time’s sake. If the paper has room to print the picture, look at my face. I looked like I’d just been forced to shoot Old Yeller. I was amazed at that haggard look, and will never again pretend to be the guy who’s not being affected by things.

Okay, I probably will, but I won’t let anyone nearby with a camera.

What the heck: We all survived -- except for the car -- and on Monday I slept for almost ten hours straight. It’s possible one or two good things even happened during that period.

But that doesn’t fit the theme, so we’ll save it for another tale.

<img src="<a href="http://s25.photobucket.com/albums/c97/ozma914/Family/?action=view&current=wreckedNissan.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c97/ozma914/Family/wreckedNissan.jpg" border="0" alt="wrecked Nissan"></a>" />
Well, I hardly know where to start this.  Time kind of went a little wibbly-wobbly for us over Memorial Day weekend, so if I screw up the timeline on this, I apologize.  Let me start out by saying that EVERYONE IS OKAY.  There were a few panics over the weekend, so I wanted to get that up front.

I guess it began with grandkid Brayden being rushed to the hospital with a 105 degree fever, Thursday night.  It turns out both of his ears were infected and he had a very bad sore throat, which figured into the rest of the story. Here are Brayden and Hunter a few weeks ago, on a good day:

Brayden and Hunter in their car seats; can't seem to make lj-cuts work this morning, so I'm doing the Photobucket thing.


Now, Jillian had been invited to a graduation party of a classmate of hers Friday night, and when she couldn't get to sleep she decided to head over. In the wee hours of Saturday morning she was driving down Coliseum Blvd. in Fort Wayne when some idiot ran the ran light at State Street and slammed into the side of the Nissan, forcing it into a guardrail.  I got that call that every parent dreads getting, and soon Emily and I were headed down to Fort Wayne to pick her up.

It's ... actually worse than it looks.

At that point Brayden was doing a lot better.  Because I have no talent or sense for this kind of thing, I barged into Charis' and Vinny's house at about 5:30 in the morning, hoping they could help me get the Nissan out of the tow company's junk yard.  They closed at noon, and if we didn't pick it up by then I'd have to pay a daily storage fee until they reopened on Tuesday. (Memorial Day weekend, remember.)

I was on days off, but we'd been researching and shopping for a computer for Emily; due partially to that, at the time of the accident we'd just gotten to bed, after sleeping only about 5-6 hours the day before. So when we were trying to decide the fate of the Nissan late Saturday morning, it was getting hot out and I hadn't slept since the the previous afternoon. Vinny thought he could fix it or, at the very least get a little more out of scrapping than it would cost to tow it.

Unfortunately, at that time of the day on a holiday weekend, there was no tow to be found. I was exhausted and upset, and ready to be out from under the whole thing, so I paid the initial tow bill and signed the car over to the towing company, which will likely make a couple of hundred extra dollars in scrap metal.

R.I.P., 1998 Nissan Sentra that had been in our family for so long that both my daughters learned to drive with it.  I thought I was handling it all pretty well, until the next day when I saw this photo that Charis took just before we left:

Guess I'm not handling it with such good humor, after all ...

After everything was settled, Emily and I finished the computer shopping (That part went well, except for a small issue that Vinny helped us with that evening.  Emily does know her computers.)  We fell into an exhausted sleep until around mid-afternoon Saturday when Vinny and Charis, who'd heard that I was looking for a dresser, called to say they'd found two and were on their way with them -- $40 for two good, sturdy dressers.  Something else happened at about that same time, but since it was very good news and this is a bad news post, I'll save it for later.

We fell back asleep ... for awhile. But Brayden was still sick, and his throat hurt so badly that he was refusing to eat or drink anything. On Sunday he had to be taken back into the hospital, where they found he was dehydrated and admitted him.  The poor little guy had to get an IV for fluids, and spent the night in there.  Because the weekend wasn't exhausting enough, he had an allergic reaction to one of the IV's, and at about 2 a.m. Monday was put on Benadryl and Lortab to clean up the rash and help with the pain:

Poor little guy is just as miserable as he looks.

Emily and I didn't stay long Sunday, both because I had to work that night and because the room was crowded, and Brayden was having enough trouble resting without all the fuss and extra people.  Emily, by the way, was still tired out from finals (4.0 GPA last semester!), packing up and moving to Indiana, and getting over a bad case of tracheal bronchitis.  Jillian has also been sick recently and went through two antibiotic prescriptions, although they were both well away from the twins and aren't germ suspects.  :-)  I had a photo of Vinny looking absolutely exhausted and holding both the kids, but I couldn't get it to upload.  Basically I'm the only person who hasn't been sick lately, and I guess I just jinxed myself.

Oh, yeah: And Jillian is likely moving from my house to Kendallville, where her mom, sister, and grandpa live, to be closer to both job prospects and her fall term at Ivy Tech now that transportation has become a problem.  That's not bad news, exactly, but it's hard on a papa.

So, yeah -- that's how my weekend went.  I apologize because, for the second time in the last couple of weeks, I was totally unable to keep up with my LiveJournal or Facebook friends, but under the circumstances I hope you'll understand.  I hope the long weekend went better for all of you!

The main thing to get out of this: Everybody's gonna be okay.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Jun. 29th, 2009 05:51 am)
A very happy birthday to [profile] leap_to_faith and [profile] tonyamoore!!!!

Best of luck to Tonya on her writing (and check out her book "Dorian's Quest" here: http://www.smashwords.com/b/2647
I hope to join you in the published author category sometime soon!

And a very special wish to Charis, whose birthday is only 9 days after the birthdays of her twin boys. She's now a quarter of a century old! *gasp* Which can only mean she was born when I, her father, was nine. I realize I can't outdo the early birthday present she got last year ... but Charis, I wish you health and happiness (for you and all your family!) May you have cake and company, and maybe a few moments of rest along the way. *hugs you*
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Jun. 25th, 2009 05:18 am)
Okay, trying to catch up, here. It's been busy at work -- the heat brings the nutcases and morons out (Um, I mean, lots of people need help!), and we've been busy at home, too. I'll have an Indiana Beach pic spam as soon as my head and neck heal up from the rides; we had a fun time despite the heat stroke, dehydration, sunburn and whiplash.

This week we're hoping to get Jillian's room all painted, shop for Charis' birthday, attend a reunion at the neonatal intensive care unit where the twins came into this world, and maybe start to get some work done on "Radio Red" for a future submission.

Our unusually cool spring has turned into a near record heat wave, so I dusted off the air conditioners and got them ready. (I'm always a little surprised when the one that's cemented into the dining room window since I moved into the place 20 years ago still fires up that first time!) My normal tactic of running window fans all night and shutting the windows during the day only works when it's actually cool at night ...

I actually have the weekend off, my one week in six! That means I'll be on the run, so, to cover the whole week, happy early and on time birthdays to [personal profile] kathyh, [profile] iwontsayplease and [personal profile] cbtreks!!!! May you have days of not too cold, not too hot, and not too busy.
ozma914: (Dorothy and the Wizard)
( May. 24th, 2009 04:57 am)
Vinny came over this weekend and, after much effort, moved his race car, which has been parked by my garage ever since he and Charis moved in -- what -- over a year and a half ago? Long enough that the tires were low and it wouldn't start, but they managed to get it onto a trailer. It's at their new house now ... I think Vinny wanted it because he's one of those people who relaxes by working on mechanical things. Never have understood that.

cutting the rest just because I ramble on about grass, paint, school, and writing markets. )


ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)


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