My grandmother died last Wednesday. The funeral was on Sunday. It was the first funeral I'd ever attended. For most of it, it was just her lying in the casket, with my father, brother, sister and me just kind of milling about, all of us oddly upbeat. (Probably denial on my dad's part.)

A few of her friends and nurses from her assisted living place stopped by to view the corpse and express condolences. They spoke fondly of her and made frequent references to what a good, nice old lady she was. She spent most of the last 22 years (since her retirement from teaching second grade) without any friends or peers, so having in her a nursing home probably brought her out of her shell a bit. But beyond those people, nobody showed up. Not too surprising, really, since all her friends and peers her age are either immobile due to age, ill or dying themselves, or couldn't arrange transportation from the nursing home to the funeral home. Apart from having to wear a suit, it was mostly casual. No one cried. A few left flowers. My own statement to her corpse, lying in its oaken casket:

"I hope you find contentment in the next dimension over that seemed to elude you in this one. Please enjoy it."

She was cremated on Monday, and my dad has tentative plans to take the ashes, along with those of his father/her husband, up to Harbor Beach, Michigan, on the shores of Lake Huron, where she had a cottage built in the 1950s and has owned (but not maintained) since then to scatter them there as per his father's wish before he died in 1970. My sister found his ashes while going through some of her stuff late last week, after apparently having spent the past 38 years in a box with a bunch of her old lady junk.

Her clothes will all be donated to Goodwill. Some of her furniture (basically whatever we can't use) will either be donated or sold. Her properties in Destin, Florida and the aforementioned Harbor Beach will eventually be sold, and her ample stockpile of, well, stocks, will be transferred to my dad, who hasn't decided what to do with them yet. The properties must both be processed through probate (due to her unwillingness to revise her will), which could take a few months. Her will was last updated when my dad was 25—in 1973-74—and all her assets were left to him... in trust. But he's old enough now (60) to be able to bypass that, so my siblings and I will have our inheritances pretty soon, most likely. I don't know how much money to expect, but I'll be happy with anything. I mean, it wasn't my money or properties or stocks or whatever. She could've just willed it all to some charity or some relative I've never met and probably never will, though I'm not sure if she even has any living relatives apart from my siblings and father. So we've got that going for us, which is nice. The last thing that needs to be done after all the rest of the paperwork is complete is for my dad to file her tax return next year.

I'm kind of surprised that she actually died. She was a hard old lady. I thought she'd make it to 90 at least, but no, at 87 she just broke down like a jalopy and then died a week later, of kidney failure. The only relative I'd known for my whole life, apart from my immediate family, has died. I'm OK with it, though. Everybody's gotta go sometime. And last Wednesday was her time.

Helene K. Anderson
June 24, 1921 – September 22, 2008

Last night, my wife and I were out shopping for groceries since payday had finally arrived. We essentially live paycheck-to-paycheck, but not "really": a fixed amount of each check goes into our "spending account", and the rest goes into the "bills account", so it forms a sort of enforced budget for us. This means we still tend to get low on money each month before the 15th and the 30th, but it serves as a nice, concrete barrier keeping all the monthly obligations separate from the things that are more flexible.

Anyways, as we were walking, I remarked that if we wanted children that are around two years apart, we really should be trying right now for a second kid. She shocked me somewhat by replying that she thought about that every day. Our daughter will be eighteen months old as of tomorrow, and we both have talked off and on about having another child, but the immediacy of the whole thing really hit me like a sack of bricks. My siblings and I are all somewhere between two and three years apart, so that sort of spacing is very familiar to me, but there's this part of me that's saying "holy cow, where did all the time go?"

Somehow, this decision is more difficult than our initial decision to have a child. Maybe it is because we've been through all of it once, and know what to expect. This paradoxically makes it easier and harder at the same time. We know that we were able to get through it, but at the same time we also think of how relieved those earlier days are behind us.

And then there's the pregnancy to think of. The first one wasn't easy on my wife. Constant nausea made her precipitously lose weight, to the point where her doctor prescribed her weight-gain formulas -- a very unusual situation indeed for my wife, who has generally fought to lose weight all her life. With the pregnancy came an ovarian cyst which did not shrink and interfered with the birth, requiring a C-section after many, many hours of unproductive labor. Of course, given the last birth, I suppose we could just opt for C-section from the very beginning this time.

Meanwhile, there's the cost. We're still paying off the last birth, thanks to an insurance mixup that caused our Ob/Gyn to be outside of our network for three months despite her insistence that this wasn't the case. Would we really want to trust this doctor again? I don't, after that crap.

Our house is small and constantly falling apart. The economy is in total shambles, and very shaky right now. My brother-in-law still rents out our basement, further reducing our living space (though increasing our income quite a bit). My wife just started feeling truly happy for the first time in ages, and I'm afraid of jeopardizing that. I can think of a dozen reasons not to have another kid right now, and only one major reason to do so: we want our daughter to have a brother or sister.

Luckily, it's not something we need to decide this instant. We could easily go another year and still have kids that are 3.5 years apart; I have no problem with that. After debating, we both agreed that now is not quite the time. But it was an interesting turning point: for the first time, I think the question was not if we would have another kid, but when.


By the way, for anybody who followed the old domain name daylogs I posted earlier: the whole thing just sort of faded away. Which is fine for now; we still have the name, and now the guy's going to pay through the nose if he wants it.

Not a bad morning. Overcast. Guess it's deciding whether to go backwards to the terrarium motif of summer or forward to the crispy ambience of impending autumn. I'll be buying firewood soon -- far enough in advance of actual fireplace weather to make sure that any green wood will have a chance to dry out. By December we'll have campouts in the backyard.

Stumbled to the garage and set up the weights for the workout. It's a new routine that I'm still getting used to. I'd like to get through it more quickly, but thanks to my minimalist setup (example: saw horses for a squat rack), it takes longer than I'd like to move from exercise to exercise. It's OK for now, I guess. Gives my heartrate a chance to come down a bit and the stars and spots to dissapate. Order matters. Running less. Lifting more. Eating often: beef, tuna, eggs, chicken, pasta. Repeat. It must be working. Had to get my first XXL t-shirt. Ass and thighs pushing the envelope of jeans but do not yet require vise grips to assist in zipping and buttoning.

Everyone left for school or work by the time I was done. I had the house to myself. A situation rarely seen in nature. It is on the Endangered Species List for Working Families. I peeled off my clothes, shrinkwrapped by sweat, Houdini-ed from a straitjacket (sweatjacket?) of my own creation. Naked, I walked to the pool. Dove in. Went for a swim. Yes -- it felt terrific. Got out. Dried off. Took a hose shower on the lawn. Thought for a second about shaving, but with the post-workout shakes decided against it.

Protein shake. Get dressed. Collect a sack of food for the day. Pour coffee into the travel mug. Pet my 90-year-old lactose-intolerant cat. Make sure she's happy and content. Open the front door and look around at the expectant quiet. Ghosts of hours past still echoing. Returning.

Shut the front door. Walkway to sidewalk to driveway. Live oaks combing the sun into fog-filled straws. Pull in to the stream of static. Holding on to the morning as I drive away.

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