Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sunday Update July 2020

Still here folks.  Working two days at week at the hotel, mask on. 

Taking care of Bill who has now been categorized as 100% non-service connected disability by the VA.  

Plowing through the constant ninety degree humidity laden days here in southern Delaware. 

I count my blessing these days.  Even though I have challenges, mine pale in comparison to some of my closets friends and relatives. Both of my younger brothers are undergoing cancer treatments.  My longtime friend Larry is in a rehab center now. He had a stroke and will be in his rehab facility at least another six week until he can manage to walk. He was diagnosed with ALS four years ago.  I've watched his slow decline over the past four years. We're the same age, meeting in third grade (1950) when he outed me to our teacher on a book report I did that was actually from a Scrooge McDuck comic book.  At recess he thought I was going to beat him up and was surprised when I approached him and said "You have comic books?  Would you like to trade?"  

My routine these days is keeping me and Bill safe from catching the coronavirus.  I try to make Bill's life as comfortable as possible now that he has lost his sight.  He can see colors and light but can't make out detail.  He so enjoys the daily ride I take him on (almost) every day.

First thing after I get up and wash is I take a walk through our developing to get the blood flowing through my veins and maintain my weight. I've lost seven pounds during this routine that I began a couple of month ago.  I'm down to 165 lbs., five pounds short of my goal of 160, my fighting weight.

After breakfast I go into my office and check my online Scrabble games, a source of comfort for me. I play eight games with Pat and several others with strangers from the Internet who have challenged me. 

If the weather isn't too oppressive in the morning I do yard work.  I also now mow the grass, a job Bill had for the last thirteen years since we moved to Delaware.

Usually I take Bill for his daily ride in the morning before lunch. Yesterday we went to BJ's, in Millsboro.  Bill used to go with me in the stores but because he has trouble walking, he just sits in the car now.  He does enjoy people watching while he is waiting for me to return from shopping.

I have fallen behind on my e-mails.  I don't even try to keep up with my e-mails now, which is 90% ads or more.

Around noon is lunch then I take a long afternoon nap, usually two hours or more. Yes, I sleep that long. 

Late afternoon I do more yard work if the temperature has dropped. 

Seven o'clock or so is when I have dinner. Bill goes to bed around eight o'clock. 

After Bill goes to bed I'm back on my computer. I usually call my Canadian Travel Buddy Good Friend Pat at his home in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada at this time for an update on his day.  We no longer get-together quarterly like we used to before the Great Pandemic. Already we missed our trip to Palm Springs, Philadelphia and I will miss my trip to visit Pat in Hamilton at the end of August. We're still scheduled to get-together for my birthday in November in Philadelphia. However, that is still up in the air because the Canadian border is closed both ways. 

So there you go folks, my update. 

I'm still here. I may not post as often but I'm still here, thankful.

Have a great day everyone!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Life In The Time Of The Great Pandemic

We're still here folks, surviving in this once in a lifetime pandemic. Unbelievable isn't it? 

I'm still working twice a week at the hotel, the 3 PM to 11 PM shift.  Surprisingly occupancy is fairly full, people just want to get out even if it means wearing a mask. I wear my mask most of my shift but when no one is around I pull it down on my chin. I find it hard to breath with a mask. One thing, I no longer wear my full partial teeth when I go to work. No one can see those expensive teeth anyway so why wear them?

Something else I've noticed at work, people can't see my smile.  I didn't realize how much I communicated with my smile until it was covered up with my sea horse patterned mask. And of course I can't see the facial expressions of the guest I interact with behind my protective plexiglass partition. 

I still don't know of anyone personally who has contacted the Coronavirus.  I often think "Do I have it?"  The reason I think this is that most days I am very fatigued.  Of course a lot of that fatigue has to do with the heat and humidity of the middle of the summer days her in southern coastal Delaware. I suffer in this head and humidity folks. I just can't take it.  Most of my days, I spend inside here at Casa Tipton-Kelly and my computer.  I like to cook and do housework but I can't do too much because after an hour my back (left side) starts aching. Sitting in my chair here at my computer I have that back support which eases my back pain. 

My usual day consists of taking Bill for his daily ride. This morning we got gas, big whoop! Then I update my online Scrabble games. I used to check my e-mails but I am so far behind I've given up.  E-mail has effectively been ruined by all the spam.  I just can't keep up with it.  I have about 2,600 unread e-mails, which I am ashamed to admit. 

While at my computer I have the TV on as background to keep up to date on the latest news.  I only listen to MSNBC and CNN.  

Lunch is always special.  I love hummus and chips along with soup.  I also make Bill his lunch. Then it's nap time for me. These days my naps last anywhere from two to three hours. I think I'm turning into my Mother during her later years. She slept a lot, especially during the day.  Of course I go to bed late at night, usually about 12:30 AM to 1 PM.  I almost always bet up at ten minutes to seven in the morning. 

During the day, depending on the weather, I'll work outside in our backyard.  I love puttering around in our little almost one acre backyard nature habitat. I cannot imagine living any other place. 

My good friend Larry, who has ALS is now in a rehab facility.  I talk to him everyday during my morning walk.  I have to tell you folks, if I had to spend my remaining days in a rehab facility, I'm out of here.  Ain't going to happen. Larry is taking it well though. I admire him for his attitude. I'm not sure if I would have that same attitude if I were in his situation. 

I miss my quarterly trips with Pat. We've missed two trips already and I won't be able to visit him in Canada next month. The border between Canada and USA is closed. I have quite a credit built up with American Airlines which they tell me is good until 2020.  We'll see how that goes. I hope the border is open by this November when we're scheduled to get together in Philadelphia with our friend Don McK. Last night we had our weekly three way talk on FaceTime which is pictured at the heading of this blog. I hope this pandemic has slowed down by then but I have to tell you folks, I'm pessimistic. I do so want to celebrate the removal of the Criminal in the White House and all his enablers and we can end this nightmare called the Trump Presidency. 

Have a great day everyone and stay safe!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Ron Mowing Grass - Thought on a Summer Sunday in the Time of the Covid Pandemic

Yes folks, I'm mowing our grass now. Our lot is almost an acre (.97). For the past thirteen years Bill has mowed our lawn. However, now Bill can no longer operate our John Deere zero degree riding mower because he has trouble figuring out how to turn it in. Just another incremental step in Bill's cognitive decline. No problem, I'll mow our grass now. Actually, I enjoy mowing the grass. Bill also enjoying mowing the grass but it's just too much for him now. In fact, I may mow our grass after I complete this blog posting. 

I usually mow our grass every Tuesday but we had a heavy rainstorm pass through here the day before yesterday. Followed hot, sunny greenhouse temperatures.  The grass needs mowing again.

It looks like I'm updating my blog about once a week here.  Remember the days when I used to post daily? Sometimes twice a day? Those days are long gone. Why? I just have a lot more activity on my plate these days.

I usually talk to Pat on FaceTime at his home in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada several times a day. I also call my longtime friend Larry (seventy years, since third grade 1950) who is now in a rehab facility. Larry, if you'll remember, was diagnosed with ALS three years ago. The first three years his physical decline was slow but these past few months his decline has accelerated.  I almost always talk to Larry on FaceTime but over a week ago I couldn't make contact with him. A few days ago he left a message for me on my phone.  He had suffered a small stroke and was in a rehab facility.  He's been there ten days now, getting bored and anxious to get back to his home with his family (wife and daughter) and their cats. He's undergoing therapy now to help him maintain his balance when walking but he won't be doing much walking in the future because of the fear of falling. He's already fallen several times, taking quite a beating. He's been resisting using his wheel chair but I think he won't have much choice now since he can't maintain his balance when walking. When I see and hear of someone in Larry's condition, I am again reminded of how fortunate I am to get around on my now, for the time being at least. I fear falling too and have taken my share the worst being three years ago when I feel on the ice after leaving work and tearing my left let quadricep muscle. God, I don't want anything like that happening again or else I'll be spending time in a rehab facility.

I'm still going to work two days a week at the hotel. Actually we're quite busy at the hotel, people anxious to get out and leaving a normal life, or as "normal" as one can in this age of the COVID pandemic. I feel sorry for them, coming in with masks covering their faces meeting me with a mask covering my fabulous smile. That smile, I knew I was missing something in my job. I have to tell you folks, my job isn't that enjoyable as it has been in the past. But again, I know I am very fortunate that I have a job which I will continue to work until I get laid off again which will probably happen in the fall when the government's stimulus money runs out.

Bill and I are still free of the corona virus. I don't know anyone who has it, thank goodness.  I do everything possible to protect Bill. When I go shopping Bill stays in the car. He likes the ride. My only contact with others outside shopping is occasional with my neighbor Bob M. which is only about once a week (and who knows who he was in contact with), and when I shop.  I always wash my hands and when at work I keep my distance from the guests even though I'm behind plexiglass. 

I'm rambling now folks. Time to end this blog post and get on with my yard work, which is never done. I love yard work but not so much in this oppressive humidity. I can only do a little bit at a time. 

Have a great day everyone and stay safe!

Friday, July 03, 2020

Happy 56th Anniversary

Bill and me this morning on our back deck

Today is our 56th anniversary of the date Bill and I met at the Westbury Bar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

July 3rd, 1964 on a rainy night I was flying solo at the Westbury Bar located at 15th and Spruce Streets in center city Philadelphia. Usually my weekend visits to the bar was with my friends Ed Cage and Ron Hampton, both gone now. This particular Saturday night both Ed and Ron had other "engagements" (dates). I was on my own. 

I was undecided even if I wanted to go out this Saturday night because of the light rain and center city being basically deserted because of the holiday weekend. Most gays of that era either went to Fire Island New York, Provincetown, Massachusetts or the Jersey Shore (Atlantic City/Wildwood, Ocean City, et al).  I didn't have enough money to spread my gay wings to explore those cruising grounds thus I retreated to my favorite gay bar, the Westbury Bar, which now is a discount drug store. Oh if those walls could talk.

While lounging at the far corner of the bar, perusing the room for new faces I was interrupted by the bartender, Jerry Hawes (also gone now).  He handed me a drink (my usual, gin and tonic) and nodded to the older (35) gentleman on the other side of the bar. "Oh no" I thought, "It's him."  The prior three months or so that "gentleman" had been sending me drinks with the obvious goal of picking me up.  

The first time Jerry the bartender tapped me on the shoulder while I was engaged in a gossipy conversation with my friends Ed and Ron, to give me that complimentary gin and tonic from that gentleman. I said "Who?" to Jerry and he pointed across to the other side of the bar near the Skeet Ball machine to a black haired, smiling "older" man. I thought "Oh no, not him."  "Him" was Bill Kelly, my now partner/husband of fifty-six years.  

Bill had been trying to pick me up for months with the complimentary gin and tonics but I wasn't that type of guy.  For one thing, even though Bill was (and still is) a very attractive man, he wasn't my "type."  I generally prefer smaller, bookish, nerdy guys, not what I perceived what Bill was, a Mr. Personality who could get whoever he wanted. 

I had seen Bill with his friends playing Skeet Ball, whooping it up, having a good time. When I realized that this guy sent me that drink I thought "Oh no, I'm not going to be the next notch in your gun."  No way, no how.  I may be easy but I'm no slut.  I was looking for love, not a one night stand. I had my aura of mystery to maintain after all.

Those drinks continued every time I was in the bar and Bill was there. I always acknowledged the drink but I never went over and talked to him. However, on this Saturday night, with the rain falling gently outside, and seeing Bill sitting by himself at one of those little round tables that the Westbury Bar had at that time, smiling at me when I looked over at him after Jerry handing me the latest gin and tonic.  I thought to myself "At least I can go over and thank him in person", being the nice guy that I am.  I fully expected him to exhibit an attitude that he made a "down payment" on spending the night with me by all those drinks he bought for me. I had my exit plan.  

I lifted my free gin and tonic and left my safe place at the corner or the bar and sauntered over to Bill sitting at that little round table. He smiled at me. I said "I want tohank you for all those drinks you've been sending to me" and prepared to exit quickly.  However, Bill's response wasn't what I expected. He smiled and said "you're welcome."  I don't remember exactly what he said next but what I do remember was that he didn't put the hard press on me like so many others had. I think he asked me where my friends (Ron and Ed) were.  I told him.  I was standing while he was sitting. My impression of him was that he was a nice guy. Not the overly aggressive bore that I assumed he was.  It wasn't long before I was sitting at that little round table with him and we were engaged in a conversation at that sparsely occupied bar.  

After a couple of house of conversation he asked me how I was going to get home. I said that Ron and Ed were supposed to stop by and pick me up but I hadn't heard from them.  This was before the age of cell phones, except perhaps for Maxwell Smart with that shoebox size "portable phone." When I missed my ride with Ed and Ron I would spend the night at the YMCA a few blocks from the Westbury Bar ($10 a night, that location is now a foo-foo hotel - French - that charges a LOT more than $10 a night for a young gay guy who didn't have a ride home).  Bill invited me to spend the night at his apartment in Pennsauken New Jersey. He said he would drive me to my home in Coatesville, Pennsylvania the next day.  After talking to Bill I felt comfortable enough with him that he wasn't the boring ogre that I thought he was and I wouldn't be just another notch in his gun.  And you know what folks? Fifty-six years later, even though we've been through many hills and valleys in our relationship, we're still together. 

And that my friends is how I met my husband. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Groundhog Day

Almost every day I wake up at ten minutes to seven AM. Seems no matter what time at night I go to bed, I awake at ten to seven. Thus begins my day.

Bill usually gets up much earlier than I do. His circadian rhythm is almost the exact opposite of my sleep pattern.

I usually don't go to bed until 12:30 or 1:00 AM.  Yes, I'm a night owl.  I can stay up that late because I almost always have a long afternoon nap of two hours or more. Today I laid my old head down on my memory foam pillow at around 2 PM.  I didn't wake up until 5:05 PM.  Yes, a whole three hours of an-time for Ron.  And to think I used to tease my Mother about all her daily naps. Now I'm there.

Bill used to get up about 4:30 AM for his breakfast. These days I try to get to bed before he gets up at 12:30 AM for his "breakfast".  Yes, he does get up that early now. 

These days we're managing our declining mental and physical conditions. 

As I have mentioned  before in this blog, Bill eyesight is failing. He has macular degeneration. He also is very heard of hearing.  Lately he's been in a very noticeable cognitive decline. Sometimes it's funny like him trying to put on his outside shoes before taking off his indoor moccasins, which he's done more than once. Sometimes it is more serious like he forgets whole conversations I've had with him, the latest being about me purchasing a new tree for our backyard. We went through this whole process this last Sunday when he went with me to a local garden center where I purchased an Autumn Red tree to shade our deck.  For years I've been trying to convince him that we needed a tree in that location to at least partially block that brutal late afternoon summer sun that heats up the back of our house during the summer. He didn't want a tree in that location because he would have to mow around it. However, now that I'm mowing the lawn (Bill can no longer mow the lawn because he doesn't know how to start our riding mower), "mowing around the tree" is no longer a reason not to plant a tree in that location. 

Thus it was with some consternation today when I told him the tree was going to be delivered today he said "What tree?"  I said to him "The tree that we went shopping for last Sunday. The tree that we've been discussing for the past month."  Now today we were back at Square One.

This is not only frustrating for me but I'm sure it is for Bill. This is life now days folks. 

Every morning when I round the corner from my bedroom to our kitchen, Bill is waiting for me, sitting in his favorite chair in our sunroom. Thus begins our day again. 

These days I  try to keep our days as stress free as possible. Bill doesn't like change or any disruption to his routine. He is most comfortable with a regular routine. Tomorrow the tree is scheduled to be delivered. I'll have to explain it to him all over again. 

Ground hog day.

Caregiver Update

  Bill with his hospice nurse last week Regular followers of this blog have no doubt noticed that I haven't been posting on a regular ba...