Please, Mr. Postman

Some time in the last couple of weeks, my mailbox was damaged to the point that the letter carrier can no longer open the door to deposit mail.

According to FedEx, its replacement arrives today, so I've just been out there trying to remove the damaged box from the post and make room for the new one. And after a good half-hour of working at it, I've extracted precisely one screw of the four.

These things are as long as rebar, seems like, and after being out there for just a few years they are resisting what leverage I can exert with a standard screwdriver. When I return to the job I'll take a pair of Vise-Grips, but the heads of the screws are inside the box, limiting the amount of turn I can get before needing to reset the blade.

I wish I lived closer to a post office; I could just rent a box there and be done with this carp.

Tell me again why a government corporation is needed to deliver advertising circulars I never look at?


I live in two worlds.

Far and away most of the time I'm in this one -- where she's already gone, and I have to reorganize my life to adapt to her absence. In this world I still have a huge list of things I need to do, processes I have to wait out, until I have a life that fits reasonably well within it.

But sometimes I see something, or I have a stray thought, and suddenly -- just for an instant -- I'm in that other world, where it hasn't happened yet, I haven't lost her yet, she's still here.

Being in that other world, the world that ended that day, doesn't hurt -- but the abrupt, inevitable shift back into this world that follows, and I once again have that emptiness where she used to be, it's like losing her all over again.

Today, finally, I can cry. I guess that's progress. It means I've gotten enough done that now I can stop doing and -- alone with my memories -- I can just feel for a few minutes.

And today's her memorial service. I'll never be able to say all of the above in front of that room full of people, so I've written it here.

The process of adapting goes on.

Catching My Breath

Under pressure, I tend to focus on what I can do something about.

Loss is something that, once it's happened, is a fact of life. Nothing to do about that. Mrs. McG is gone.

Intense feeling is another fact of life, under these circumstances, and all I can do is manage how it affects me in the moment. In fact, focusing on what I can do something about, is one of my strategies for dealing with grief. It lets me keep some emotional distance so I can remain functional until remaining functional is no longer a critical need.

In recent days I've tried to let some of the feeling run its course, but I only get tears for a few seconds. Clearly I'm not ready yet. I'm too busy coping with the thousands of little changes that have happened in my life because of this big one. Right now I still need to breathe more than I need to cry.

She had plenty of opportunities to learn this about me. I'm sure she understands -- especially since she would never have let all this fall on me so suddenly, if she had her druthers.


I have lost my beloved wife.

Update, next day: I'm still getting over the shock. Keeping busy, but most of that involves constant reminders that she's not here anymore, and won't be coming back.

On Wednesday afternoon, just as we were about due to leave home for a doctor's appointment -- for me -- I left her sitting as she usually did on the loveseat in the living room to go comb my hair and splash water on my face. When I came back about five minutes later she was slumped over on the loveseat, sweaty, breathing oddly, and unresponsive.

The ambulance arrived quickly, but by then, according to the sheriff's deputy who had arrived first, she had just gone into cardiac arrest. It was only the first of many times her heart would stop. I later learned she had suffered a pulmonary embolism -- a blood clot in the lung.

Shortly after 2:00 a.m. yesterday, with her father and me staying out of the way in her ICU room while nurses worked, her heart stopped for the last time.

Back in 2006, an online friend of mine, Rob Smith (Acidman) died on his living room couch of a pulmonary embolism. He lived alone.

Now, so do I.

I Ride Alone and Sing a Tune

It's the fourth Saturday in July, which means it's the National Day of the Cowboy. It's as good a day as any to re-explain the name of this blog.

These days tally books are associated with the oilfields, but before there was an oil industry, tally books were used by working cowboys.

A buckaroo in the saddle was his employer's eyes and ears on the open range. To ensure that he reported accurately what he saw as he rode, he carried a book of blank pages to make notes in. He would record how many cattle he saw, where he saw them, and what brands they wore. If he saw a calf with one brand following a cow with another, he'd report that too -- and there would be strong words between the owners of the respective brands.

He also took note of range conditions and whatever else he might consider worth knowing about, and this way the boss and the other hands knew of anything that might affect their work and the boss' property.

At roundup time, actual tallies were kept of which cattle wore which brand, as well as what brands were put on unbranded calves. The different brand owners would have representatives present, and each kept careful track of the others' tallies to make sure they all agreed.

When the open range got fenced in, keeping track of the livestock became easier, but the man riding fence still needed to take notice of things. Damage to the barbed wire, for example, might be incidental or it might be sabotage; either way, cattle might be wandering on someone else's range, and that would need to be reported and dealt with.

These days a working cowboy might report his findings by cell phone, if he has any bars, or note them down on his phone or tablet for later retrieval. Some cowboys even carry a laptop in the saddlebag. Picture John Wayne or Clint Eastwood doing that.

Rescue Me

Years ago, I posted a series of examples of what I deemed to be wise cowboy sayings. Yesterday I tried to find them on my computer and in my cloud storage, and came up empty. Fortunately, some still resided in the old gray matter.

Having rescued them from that horrible fate, I re-post them here:

  • Work ain't gonna do itself.

  • It takes a lot of hands to make a roundup.

  • Never mess with another man's gal, gun, or hoss.

  • Wipin' off your hat's sweatband is a good excuse to just stop and take in the scenery for a spell.

  • When somethin' goes wrong, just set back and have yourself a good, relaxing cuss. Then fix it.

  • Be nice to the young'uns. You was one yourself, once.

  • "Ridin' fence" don't mean sittin' on it.

  • Beans is good eatin' on the trail, but not in the bunkhouse.

Thoughts My Brain Made

Strategy is based on assumptions. Erroneous assumptions make bad strategy.

Also, keep your political disagreements separate from your personal disagreements. Your feeeeelz are not the proper subject for public policy debate.

The Music Might Change

So I went looking for a cloud storage option that could one day be fully privatized by being housed on a personal server at home, and NextCloud sounded good. So I found a hosted NextCloud account for trying-out purposes and it came with... extras.

Unlike my host, which doesn’t support PHP and therefore limits my blogging options to plain HTML using a text editor, this host offers everything from Wordpress to... well, this. If you remember the days of early early Movable Type blogs (even I had one, briefly) before SQL became a part of the process, that’s essentially how this works. Given my output in recent years it shouldn’t be challenged much.

Assuming, of course, that I actually use it.

Even if I do, don’t expect me to open comments.

Update: Well okay, worst-case scenario is I revert to the old blog.

It’s Kind of a Drag

If Joe Biden had run for Governor of Georgia instead of for President, and if he had won that contest, his actions since the election leave me convinced that, by now, this would once again be our state flag:

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For those who don’t remember that fustercluck, Wikipedantry has the rundown here. When Republican Sonny Perdue defeated Democrat Roy Barnes for re-election as governor in 2002, Perdue pushed to replace Barnes’ “placemat” flag with the banner we fly today.

Biden’s handlers are so obsessed with undoing the legacy of his Republican predecessor that, if he were merely our governor instead of the president, he would have rolled back everything in Georgia to the way it was the last time one of his fellow Democrats was in charge.

Wouldn’t have been surprised to see him push for that anyway, while he was calling our modest new election reform law “Jim Crow on steroids.”