Coronavirus

#916.5: I’ve Been Shot! – Update

In in update to this week’s story, #916: Oh My, I’ve Been Shot! (Again), I am pleased to provide all the nitty gritty details of getting a second jab in the arm of the ol’ mRNA vaccine.

Here it comes.

Are you ready?

I’m not kidding around when it comes to this stuff.  All the nitty gritty details.

Jen and I have experienced an eventful week since getting the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine.  On Tuesday night, about four hours after being shot in the arms, we experienced hunger, so we decided to order in.  We selected Italian, and both ordered the same:  aglio e olio with steak strips.  We each finished about half.  Later on that evening after watching American Dad, I experienced tiredness so I went to bed.  In the morning, the first thing I noticed was that I was hungry, so I was naughty and finished my aglio for breakast.  Around 10 that morning I went to Toys R Us and bought some Transformers, some Marvel Legends, and Star Wars Black Series figures.  I then had an odd tingling sensation, of being lighter in the wallet.  At the same time, a forgotten feeling in my chest emerged — the symptoms of joy from having scored cool stuff in a store once again.

Everything from this point on is simply a blur.  I didn’t know what to do, so I enjoyed the day off I had booked for recovery, wrote a review, and had a generally awesome holiday.

In other words:

Jen and I experienced no side effects.  Sore arms don’t count — that’s pretty much a universal complaint.  I had an amusing moment when I was changing around my box set display.  I was lifting a Def Leppard box over my head when I realized — oh shit, I can’t move my shoulder that high.  I discovered through the day that if I used my arm only from the elbow down, I was good to go. I just avoided moving that shoulder.  Went to work the next day.  All good.

To recap:

Jen and I had Pfizer in April, and Moderna this week.  No side effects.

It feels good to be over and done with this (until the inevitable booster — or not).  Now in a little over a week I’ll be at maximum immunity and I will be celebrating a birthday with my family.  I want to sit down in a room and watch TV with my dad.  That’s an activity I truly miss.  His channel surfing accompanied by grumping and complaining was the highlight of every visit.  I look forward to socializing with my family, playing board games, and maybe even going to see the next Marvel movie in a theater.

Oh!  Speaking of Marvel — watched Black Widow last night, not bad.  Widow was never my favourite Avenger; she and Hawkeye never resonated with me the way that Tony or Steve Rogers did.  Having said that, Scarlett kicked it out of the park with a family-focused storyline and some serious action sequences.  This was her Marvel tour-de-force and she had some intense one-on-one scenes.  The final confrontation with Russian General Whatever-akov (Ray Winstone) was cool because it was different for a Marvel film.  Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh — also some fine performances and not the last we will see of Pugh.  And finally David Harbour.  You just want to hug that big dirty smelly Russian teddy bear Alexei.  This Marvel film was high on action, but also featuring slow and dramatic character scenes.  A pretty fair balance.  There were a couple neat twists, some cool shout-outs to the Avengers, and of course the obligatory post-credit scene.  We have now seen four entries of the MCU’s Phase Four.  Black Widow comes closest in scale to Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but far grittier.  It’s closest in the sense that it’s character-driven, Earth-bound, and without magic or space aliens coming into play.  And as to how this fits in with the future of the MCU even though it takes place in 2016?  Watch the post-Blip, post credit scene.

All is well.  Admittedly, I was worried about side effects.  A couple of my good buddy co-hosts on the LeBrain Train experienced a day or two of uncomfortable side effects.  So I listened to their experiences, planned ahead, booked a recovery day off work, and hoped for the best while preparing for the worst.  We got lucky this time, which seems miraculous for Jen given her complex cross section of medical conditions.  We rarely get lucky, but this time we did.  Jen is much more social than I am, and she needs to be able to go out and interact socially with her friends.  Me, I’m usually happy just to stay in and listen to music.  Jen and I are good this way.  So she is eager to rejoin society in whatever capacity given Ontario’s state of re-opening.

On last night’s episode of the LeBrain Train, I gave Covid-19 the finger for killing John Prine.

Let’s get this pandemic in the past.  Whatever you are currently doing to keep yourself safe, you’re doing a good job, keep it up!  We all live in different regions with different situations.  Me, I live in Hot Spot, Canada.  Stay out of the hospital.  There is one LeBrain Train guest whose name I will keep private.  He is a Covid long-hauler.  He has felt shitty for 16 months.  Any time something like that happens to someone close to me, it hits home.  I’ve been saying this for 16 months:  don’t be stupid.  Stay safe.  You matter.

 

#916: Oh My, I’ve Been Shot! (Again)

A sequel to #894:  Entertainment Needed at the Vaccine Clinic

 

At an age that seems like a another lifetime ago, I refused to get vaccinations.  I wasn’t anti-vax by any means.  I was actually quite pro-vax, but simultaneously, a chickenshit.  As soon as I was old enough to make decisions for myself, I stopped with the needles.  Then about 15 years ago I decided to get the flu shot.  My reaction was so bad that I swore off needles once more.

A global pandemic has a way of forcing you to get over your fears, and so I’ve just had my second shot.  My arm is just starting to get sore as I write.

When we last caught up at the vaccine clinic, they were administering Pfizer.  This time it’s Moderna.  Canada has approved the mixing of these two brands, as they are so similar.  As for the side effects, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

As before, things were fast and efficient.  We were in and out in 45 minutes, including the 30 minute wait afterwards.  There appeared to be about four times as many people, but the massive facility didn’t feel any more full than last time.  Good to see us getting on top of this.  I like being in the percentage of people who are double vaxxed in Canada.

As before, the volunteers were excellent — the perfect mixture of professional and friendly.

You know what?  None of us here are scientists.  (If you are, raise your hand!)  We’re just music fans trying to make the best of a worldwide crisis.  This the first global pandemic for any of us, unless you’re 103 years old.  We are living through history and we are even making history.

16 months ago, near the start of this pandemic, I predicated and hoped that we’d see creativity blossom in new ways.  I think we have seen that.  Our friends in the band Suicide Star are a great example.  They recorded their new album Isolation during lockdown, learning to work in new ways, and finding a bloom of creative sparks.  Elsewhere, Styx were also working on new music.  Lawrence Gowan was able to use some vintage and not-very-portable keyboards on this album that he never thought he’d play on a Styx record.  How cool is that?  On the other side of the coin, the new Dennis DeYoung album 26 East Vol. 2 has several lyrics directly addressing the pandemic, such as “St. Quarantine” and “Little Did We Know”.

We have suffered, we have lost, and we have sacrificed.  With this second shot in my arm, I hope that I am doing my part to get this behind us.   If that makes me a guinea pig, so be it.  You can thank me later.  I have a birthday coming soon, and my whole family will be double-vaxxed by then.  Does that mean I can actually have a birthday party this year?

I miss walking into record stores and toy stores.  I miss my grandma.  We all hope this is slowly but surely coming to an end.  After so many false hopes, it seems somehow unlikely, but hope I shall.  Wish me luck with the side effects and I’ll be sure to let you know how I’m doing.

Let’s end this — no mercy!

#894: Entertainment Needed at the Vaccine Clinic

“I’ve been shot!”

Every once in a while, Jen’s disabilities don’t entirely suck.  We get the best parking spots when we go out, which admittedly isn’t often these days.  She was also eligible for the Covid vaccine due to her high-risk health category.  In a twist of fortune, as her caregiver, that made me eligible too.  I was very concerned about “line jumping” so we called and confirmed multiple times that I was allowed to get the shot.

Ironically, we were scheduled to get our ‘rona shot at the old Rona location in Cambridge.

It used to be a huge warehouse, and now it is a huge clinic.  Very organised, with multiple checkpoints, and ample workers to guide you.  We asked plenty of questions and they were all answered.  For me, the whole process took less than 30 minutes.  Screening, registering, sitting with a doctor, getting the shot, waiting for any sign of reaction, and then finally release and followup appointment.  Jen took an extra 15 minutes due to the complexities of her health, but we were out the door in 50 minutes total.

The sitting area for the wait after the shot was vast, with many chairs, all separated by a good distance.  It was kind of funny, seeing all these chairs facing the same direction as if waiting for a show that would never come.  Here there were workers to answer questions too.

“No movie?” I asked jokingly.

“No movie, no bands,” she answered.  “We should get bands,” she continued.  “I know lots of bands who would love the chance to play here.”

I laughed and said “Well maybe in a couple months they’ll jazz it up.”

Our shots (Pfizer for those curious) were administered by doctors, and I peppered mine with questions.  I was concerned about side effects, although neither of my parents felt any.

“Younger people have much stronger immune systems,” he explained.  “Theirs get revving up much stronger.  When you feel the side effects, that is your body creating those antibodies.  So the side effects are actually a good sign.  They should taper off after a day.”  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Well, except for the live bands — maybe that lady was onto something!

Have any questions about the shape I’m in?  Just ask!

 

#863: Masks Are the New T-Shirt

GETTING MORE TALE #863: Masks Are the New T-Shirt

If you have been watching my videos or live streams, I’ve occasionally shown off my new masks.  Now, I don’t wanna get into the whole “issue” of masks.  I just want to talk about masks in terms of music, marketing, and keeping businesses alive in 2020.  No matter your political affiliation (I consider myself unaffiliated and flexible enough to change who I support), then if you are reading this then I think we can all agree on three things:

  1. We love music.
  2. We want businesses to survive in this difficult year.
  3. We need to do things that make us happy, especially now.

I’ve been saying for months:  every band, brand, and icon needs to put out branded masks, pronto!  Many of us are going to need masks for at least the next six months.  I have five Kiss masks currently.  I don’t know how long these things last, especially if you wash them as frequently as you have to, so I assume we’ll all need replacement masks in a little while too.  It makes sense to put out your own branded mask right now.  I love that I can put on a Kiss mask and go out and do my shopping.  It’s like wearing a T-shirt.  In 2020, the mask is the new T-shirt.  Especially in winter time when, in Canada, we will be wearing heavy jackets on our backs like a tortoise shell.  T-shirt weather is far behind us.  Bonus:  though they fog up my glasses, the mask does keep my nose warm in the morning chill.

To Kraft Dinner:  I would love to buy a mask from you that has your delicious cheesy noodles on my face!

To the estate of Frank Zappa:  I’m looking for a mask with his trademark moustache and beard.  Does such a thing exist?

Dear ZZ Top:  You know exactly what I want!  One of those longer “goiter” masks with your beards!

And local clubs, restaurants and businesses:  I would love to be able to buy a mask with your logo or website address on it.  We need to support each other in this time, I firmly believe, and that starts at home with our venues and clubs.

Sceptics might ask me, “Will any of that actually make the life-or-death difference for a business?”  I don’t know.  I didn’t study business or economics in school.  I just know that I am (somewhat) in a position to help (a little bit), and…I have to try.

I practice what I preach and have thrown a bone or two to some local businesses and music venues.  I’m not saying this to show off what a super guy I’m am, I’m saying this so I can lead by example.  I’m not wealthy though, and what works best for me is if I can buy some merchandise.  That way I get something I need while helping somebody else out.  I would rather buy official than knockoff.  I need more masks, and if there are enough cool ones, I could even give some as gifts to certain family members.

For the next six to twelve months (who knows?), masks are going to be in our lives.  Like it or lump it, I suppose they say.  Maybe I’ve just been more successful trying to have a positive attitude in 2020, but I’ve been able to…have fun?…with masks.  We gotta support each other to get through this damn pandemic, and to play on the words of my man Jon Bon Jovi:  I’ll Be There For You!  These five words I swear to you.  If you sell, I’ll buy a mask from you.  I’ll mask up for you!

 

 

Covideo 7: Bet You Thought I Was Done Making These Things

Yes folks is my first “Covideo” since April. Why? Why not. C-19 is back in Ontario for a second wave, and so are my Covideos!

In this video you can check out a couple Amazon unboxings (one toy, one CD) and get updated on the live streaming. Just a fun video, with hopefully improved production values over the ones I made in March and April.

Highway to Lists: Live Streaming AC/DC Deep Cuts

A huge thanks to Kevin/Buried On Mars for this week’s theme:  AC/DC Deep Cuts!

Your hosts with lists this week were:

Over the course of five lists, you will definitely find some tracks to check out for the first time, or just for a fresh listen.  The discussion was brisk and entertaining as hell.  You might even see cameos from Boba Fett and Thunder Bay’s own T-Bone Erickson.  What songs did we pick?  Was Aaron disqualified?  You’ll have to watch to find out.

In addition to the AC/DC lists, we tackled a few other topics.  Check the video times below to skip to the following:

  • An Amazon parcel & special Sven Gali swag unboxing – 0:09:30
  • Some praise for Max the Axe and Eric Litwiller –  0:26:00
  • The AC/DC lists0:30:50
  • For the after-party, general music and current events discussion – 1:55:25

Thanks for tuning in everybody.

 

#859: Big Water

GETTING MORE TALE #859: Big Water

When I was really small, just a toddler, I can remember having a couple names for this place:  “Big Water” and “Lake Water Stones”.  48 years ago was my first summer at Lake Water Stones, better known as Lake Huron.  Lorne Beach is the exact location.  These patches of land have been in my family for many decades.  The original cottage that Grampa Winter owned is still there, now occupied by Dr. Kathryn.  A lot has changed but not our family’s long roots in that dark sandy soil.

There were several times in my younger years when I didn’t want to be there.  In those foolish years I’d rather be here near the telephone line and creature comforts.  I can remember in the mid 80s at the cottage, my dad had to drive into town to make a phone call.  I had to tape all my precious wrestling matches at home and pray that they recorded.

Perspective changes and so does technology.  Now there’s no place I’d rather be than Lake Water Stones.

2018 changed everything for us.  That was the year Jen’s mom died.  Almost like the year without a summer.  We spent the whole season in hospital rooms and corridors, and hotels in Toronto.  After she passed we spent the whole fall cleaning out her house.  When we finally got back to the lake in spring 2019, we had learned to cherish and savour it more.

As if we needed a reminder how uncertain life can be, 2020 gave us a whole new perspective.  “Essential travel only.”  No road trips to cottage country.  They were wary of outsiders stealing their toilet paper, or spreading disease from the city.  As time wore on, we questioned whether we would be able to go at all.

I kept a positive attitude and I made the most of our time stuck at home.  I took advantage of my little patio, listening to tunes out there and doing several live streams in the fresh air.  Better than nothing.  A small patch of outdoors sure beats staying in all the time.  A little bit of blowing wind feels good on the skin.

Ontario was still on shaky ground and not yet in Phase 2 of re-opening when Jen and I finally returned to the lake at the end of May.  We missed the long weekend, usually a reliable starting point for a happy summer.  Instead we had a cold, dark weekend highlighted by the ominous “Premises Closed” signs posted at the beach entrance points.

I remember walking into the cottage and taking a breath of the woody smelling air.  You don’t notice it after 10 minutes, but it’s so strong at first sniff.  We were having a quiet weekend, no stops in town and we didn’t even tell anyone besides family that we were going.  Only when I tested the internet connection with a live stream was it obvious where we were.  Non-essential travel was frowned upon but I looked at this trip as essential to the mental health of two people who were quarantining pretty strictly.

Phase 2 began in early June and at that point we tried to make it up every other weekend, working around my parents’ schedule.  We wanted to maintain some distancing.  I had some goals I wanted to accomplish this summer.  Tossing out the planned accomplishments for Summer 2020, the new goals were attainable in an altered season.

  • I wanted to live stream outdoors from the lake — and we did this many times.
  • I wanted to eat steak every weekend we were there — and we did.
  • Swim as much as weather permitted — we did.
  • Mental health being the theme of 2020, I wanted to have a virtual counselling appointment from the porch.  I did two.  The setting was incredible.
  • Create as much photo and video content as I could to remember the place by in the winter.  Mission accomplished.

Setting realistic goals helped me make the most of this summer.  I feel more prepared for the fall.  And I’m really looking forward to 2021, when I might be able to add some more goals to the list.  (Still hoping to cook a wagyu steak on my own grill.)

Here’s gratitude for a great 2020 season regardless of the obstacles.  Hoping for better next year.

#851: Freestylin’ 8 – Back to the Future

GETTING MORE TALE #851: Freestylin’ 8 – Back to the Future

“May you have interesting times.”  Have you heard that saying before?  They call it the “Chinese curse” but there’s no evidence it originated in China.  There is little doubt that today we are living in interesting times.  Historic times, too.  The days we are living through now are the days that your children and grandchildren will be studying in school.  Remember asking your grandparents what World War II was like?  Kids one day will be asking you about the great pandemic of 2020-2021.

In recent days we’ve seen some worthwhile attempts to get “back to normal”, specifically with entertainment.  Concerts are a thing again, albeit most of them are different from the ones we remember.  Drive-in concerts could help get us through this period.  Live-streamed concerts have also started.  Bands have used the downtime to jam, write, and record.  It is reported that the Scorpions and the Cult are back in the studio working on new albums.

The landscape has also been devastated.  Venues are closing at a blurry pace, with Rhapsody Barrel Bar being the latest local casualty in a dizzying series.  When this is all over, I believe we will see demand for sports events, movies and concerts as if Covid never happened.  In the meantime, people have to put food on their tables.  There are no easy answers.

I’ll tell you one thing, though:  I’m glad for once that I’m not a parent.  I have enough to deal with.  Talking to my folks the other night, my mom said “I don’t think I would have sent you back to school if this pandemic happened when you were kids.”  I don’t think I would have wanted to go back.  Right now all I can do is cross my fingers, say a prayer and hope that the kids going back now will be safe.  In Canada, we just don’t know yet.  We’ll be finding out soon enough.

It’s true that I have a lot on my plate.  I don’t need to get into the work details — you all have problems, too.  But here we are in late August and I haven’t missed a day (except for scheduled vacations of course).  There were many times I didn’t think I could finish a whole day, but I did it.  But the hard times are relentless.  On August 14, Jen lost her grandfather, a proud Air Force veteran with the wisdom of a sage.  Yet another loss for poor Jen, who nevertheless keeps on getting up and going at it every single day.  This in the same year I lost my Uncle Don.  It’s been hard on our family.  My grandmother turned 96 and is just aching to get out of the house.  She still lives in her own home but can’t go anywhere except out onto the driveway, due to the dangers of Covid when combined with her age.

I’ve talked about this a number of times already, but my 2020 was stressful well before Covid hit our shores and I decided to get some help.  According to my records my first counselling session was February 7.  I’m very lucky that I had good support already setup when lockdown began a little over a month later!  All of this coincided with deep desire to delve back into childhood memories, and music.  I’ve been focused on music I used to enjoy in my teens.  Kiss has dominated.  Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Europe, Frehley’s Comet.  Stuff from happy summers of the past.

It’s incredible how, in the correct mindset, these albums have created aural time travel for me.  I don’t even have to close my eyes, but all the feelings and images and words from that time come back to me like pictures on a screen.  When I listen to The Final Countdown, all I can think of is spring, 1987.  With Frehley’s Comet, suddenly it’s July.  The last time I played Frehley’s Comet, I was at the cottage.  I yelled over to my sister (she’s two lots over to the left), “Hey!  I’m playing the album you gave me for my birthday in 1987.  What is it?”  Without hesitation she yelled back, “Frehley’s Comet!”  She remembered!  That’s pretty cool.

You know what?  These have been interesting times.  I’ve been on my own personal journey, and it probably wouldn’t have taken the same path if it wasn’t for Covid.  As shitty as 2020 has been (and make no mistake, this has been a shit show of a year) I cannot deny that it came with some personal good.  The only thing better than discovering new music for the first time is rediscovering it with fresh eyes, ears and soul.  Take it in anew.  Relive the experience and rejuvenate.

#846: The United Federation of Planets

GETTING MORE TALE #846: The United Federation of Planets

I used to be an optimist.  In my younger, more impressionable 20s, I felt like humankind had the universe by the balls.  The things we could achieve when united were remarkable but only the tip of what we could do collectively.  Where did I think we’d be by 2020?

Not here, that’s for damn sure!  I didn’t think we’d have the flying car, or free energy.  I thought we’d be on a better road than this.

At that younger age, I immersed myself seriously in science fiction.  Clarke in particular, but Roddenberry was also crucial to my mindset.  The optimistic future of Star Trek was the one I chose to believe in.  Gene Roddenberry was not wrong about what humanity could do when united.  I believed unity was our ultimate destiny, as we left behind our tribal pasts and prejudices.  I thought it was inevitable that eventually we would have something like the United Federation of Planets.  Prosperity through technology and collective wisdom.

It makes me sad and broken to see that we have not made many strides towards Roddenberry’s future, but have taken many steps backwards.  What would Gene think?  While I think he would be delighted to see that technology has leaped faster in some regards than he predicted, he would also be crushed by our continued divisions.

It’s in the news every day.  People are angry.  Some have forgotten the basic manners that their mothers taught them while others are behaving like, frankly, assholes.  Covid has us all stressed, and it has brought some of us together more closely while dividing others even more sharply.  I try to consume as little news as possible but it’s all but unavoidable to see this bullshit.  Even if one only reads music news, it is everywhere.  Ratt and Bobby Blotzer’s son feuding with Sebastian Bach and Dee Snider over the wearing of masks during this pandemic.  This cultural tension has pervaded every aspect of society.  At least you can buy some sweet Kiss-branded masks now.  Yet the amount of hate in the air over this issue is actually quite scary.

Incidentally as a side note, as our economy continues to be devastated by this disease, every brand in the world should start making masks.  Metallica, Maple Leafs, Kiss, Kellogg’s Froot Loops.  People are going to buy them and it’s time to strike while the iron is hot.  Only by adapting to this pandemic are we going to save businesses.  But back to where we were.

I used to believe good would always triumph over evil.  That is what all my favourite stories taught me.  Good is stronger.  Show humanity some adversity and we will unite and overcome.

Roddenberry did predict we’d need a Third World War before we get there.  I hope he was wrong about that too.

Star Trek was popular because people wanted to live in that world.  Star Trek fans exist in every part of the political spectrum.  Millions dreamed of being the helmsman on a starship, and to live in that world.  A world where the Earth knows no war, no poverty and no starvation.  Some of Arthur C. Clarke’s fiction was equally optimistic.  I figured guys as smart as Clarke, who conceived the communication satellite, were smart enough that they were probably right about the future.  Yet here we are, stuck in the mire like it’s still the 1950s.

Of course it’s not too late.  We can still turn around and say “I don’t care if you are this or that, and believe in A, B or C.”  We’re going to have to.  Why can’t everybody see this?  Humanity has no hope of survival if we can’t rise above our tribal differences.

 

#844: Happy Birthday in the Age of Covid

GETTING MORE TALE #844: Happy Birthday in the Age of Covid

 

All I wanted for my birthday was one more weekend at the lake.  During the time of Covid, that’s never been a certainty.

My parents are not young anymore (although my mom would probably fool you).  I have a 96 year old grandmother that my mom cares for.  We have to be extra, extra, extra careful about everything.  The Ontario government announced Phase 3 of re-opening last week and so my mom and dad decided that we could try spending some time under one roof together for my birthday.  I got my wish.

Packing my electronics and my Marvel figures, Jen and I headed up to the cottage Thursday night.  Lately, especially this year, I’ve been trying to roadtrip exclusively to music that I would have played there when I was a kid.  Usually that’s Kiss but this weekend I decided to shake it up and play some Europe.  The Final Countdown and Out of this World were both acquired at the cottage the first time when they were new.  Playing them on the way there was really trippy.  This resulted in a future Europe-based story that I look forward to sharing.

The first thing we did was jump in the lake for a swim.  I clocked in nine swims this past weekend.  The footage wasn’t as stunning as last week; the lake was murkier.  Instead of worrying about making videos, I just decided to enjoy it and live in the moment.  (There are plusses to both approaches, but the wavy video from last week can’t be topped.)

We ate steak for almost every meal.  I cooked a slab of blue-rare perfection that became steak & eggs the following morning.  I sat outside and watched Marvel movies all weekend.  The Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man, and Captain America: Civil War.  I cranked the tunes outdoors as well:  Europe again, and classic Kiss.  Dynasty, Unmasked, and Gene’s solo album were all air-guitared live on the deck.

I was still worried about my parents and their comfort.  After seeking advice, I decided to set up sanitising stations at the door and on the deck.  They arrived on Saturday afternoon bearing hot, fresh French fries courtesy of a local stand called the Cheesy Monkey.  Later that afternoon they had a small party with cake.  My sister came over and next door neighbour Paul stopped by.  Everybody was six feet apart and we handled things like snacks and drinks very carefully.  My dad bought me a stick of meat and everybody else got me Marvel figures.  Do they know me or what?  I think our trial run for having everybody together at the cottage worked out pretty well.  This really helps relieve the stress.

Something else interesting happened this weekend.  First, flash your minds back to 2002.  Marillion were pioneering a new kind of live release, a subscription based series of archive recordings called the Front Row Club.  I was a subscriber from beginning to end (2002-2008) and never missed a release.  One of the perks that early subscribers received was an exclusive Front Row Club T-shirt.  I had completely forgotten about it, until my mom handed it back to me this weekend.  Somehow, it had become the property of my late Uncle Don.  I don’t remember giving it to him, and I don’t think he liked Marillion, but my mom found it in his shirts.  Now it’s back in my closet again.  We’ll never know how or why!

We left Sunday afternoon after an exciting rain storm, though not as big as we’ve seen before.  Then we went to go and visit Grandma who only turned 96 a week ago!  The good news is that she looks exactly the same as she did when she was 95.  We had a great visit though she really hopes we can get back to something more normal soon.  Can’t say that I blame her, but it was actually a pretty normal birthday for me.

The cottage is a special place in terms of family history and mental well-being.  It’s a place I’ve always enjoyed showing off and I hope you can get a taste of paradise from the pictures.

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes!  I haven’t finished responding to every one and I may have missed a few.  It sure could have been a heck of a lot worse.