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My Acting Debut

Well here it is, my first time ever on a stage, and performing a monologue to boot. A little back story first. Awhile back in late 2013, the San Juan Islands (where we have our cabin) experienced a phone and internet outage caused by a severed cable that lasted for ten days. You can read about here! My good friend, Kevin Hillstrom, a budding playwright wrote a play about the outage and poked a little fun at it. He asked me if I would star in it. I said sure although I have never acted before. It was to be performed during the Playwrights “On the Fringe” at the San Juan Community Theater. He went out on a limb with the theater director because I couldn’t come up for the rehearsals, she never met me until the day before the first show, had no idea how it would work, was worried because I was going to go off script and ad lib some of the lines, and the other actors were thinking Kevin was get some preferential treatment. But he managed to persuade her and emailed me the script and let me know where I could just ad lib and ramble within it. So after looking it over for a while, and putting my thespian hat on, here is the result below,  no real rehearsal and no real experience. I think we did a fine job. Thanks to Kevin for writing a great and funny script and Julie Laidlaw for allowing us to “wing it”.

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It’s Ours

Our beautiful cabin nestled in the woods of San Juan Island is now ours! We closed and got possession on March 16th and both are ecstatic! Buying this house was actually a complete surprise and totally unexpected. During New Year’s we were up on the island visiting our friends the Hillstom’s. We have known them for years having been fellow Packer Fans. They had lived out here in Snoqualmie Ridge near us before moving to San Juan Island where they had a second home and some waterfront on which they built their current and permanent home.

As we have mentioned in the past each time we go on vacation, we think about where we would like to retire. We have always liked Friday Harbor and San Juan Island and the only real disadvantage to living there is that the only way on or off is by ferry. You have to do off island shopping very carefully but it is no big deal! Anyway, we were visiting our friends and just happened to look around at some properties for sale and “stumbled” on this house that had been for sale for a while. We contacted a local agent whom we had met before and had him come open it up. It was adorable, although a bit dated. Deb and I silently glanced at each other realizing this was a deal the could not be passed up. We went home talked things over and made an offer. After some back and forth with the seller, an agreement was reached and that’s were we have been the last two months, home purchasing paperwork!

Now that it is ours, the fun stuff begins! Debbie has been shopping for furnishings and looking at ideas on how to decorate. It will be a slow process of updating or “cabin in the woods” and that is okay. We won’t be living there fulltime, so there is no hurry. The house has good bones and is in really great shape. Just needs some TLC and modernization. We bought some items from the seller’s estate sale so we will have some beds and some furnishings to begin with. We will be also bringing things from the house that we can do without. It will be a lot of work but a definite fun project. We will try and remember to do before and after pictures as things progress. Debbie is in seventh heaven right now. As soon as some sprucing is done, guests are expected, so come see us!

WELCOME TO OUR CABIN IN THE WOODS!

When Your Life Flashes Before Your Eyes

Has your life ever flashed before your eyes? Have you ever faced your own mortality either because of your own actions or things beyond your control? Have you thought about death and dying and what you’ll do when you are facing the end of your life? We all die, some sooner than later. Some will have to prepare for death and wait for the end to come. Some will be knocked down unexpectedly, unprepared but unknowingly! I don’t know about you, but I would prefer the latter! In youth we think we are invincible and death is the furthest thing on our minds. Death is for the old, grand parents, great grand parents, aunts, uncles not us or our friends. We sometimes tempt death by doing stupid things because we feel we just cannot die! Did you ever run up to a neighbor’s house, ring the doorbell and run away not ever getting caught? I did that quite a few times to the door of the Grim Reaper, but never got caught. I did stupid things when I was young and a few times narrowly escaped my stupidity.

There was the time when I took two hits of windowpane acid with two other friends. That’s eight individual hits my friends! I did it under duress and peer pressure and sheer stupidity. Luckily my Mom was out of town for a week and our next door neighbor who was supposed to be keeping an eye on us, really didn’t! I don’t know what happened for three days of my life. All I know is that one friend got arrested and disappeared for three months, and the other friend was never quite the same mentally again. I returned to reality virtually unscathed! I was in the 10th grade. Then there was the time I left a keg party totally whacked and met up with another one of my scumbag friends at an A&W who had two doses of morphine and two eye dropper needles. I said hell ya and we went to the bathroom and did them up. Again, luckily I was too drunk to hit a vein and hit a muscle which didn’t do much more than get me even really drunker which lasted way into the next day! I had no clue what I was doing and was soooooo stupid! That was the one and only time I ever used a needle. Again, I was in the 10th grade. I can’t forget the time I developed some red spots on my legs and under my arms. I had no idea what they were, but I felt just fine. As the days passed, the number of the spots increased but didn’t bother me so I just ignored them. I had an after school job and on a Friday evening I was loading a truck and stepped between the dock and the back of the truck severely hurting my right leg. When I woke up the next morning, my leg was black and swollen from my knee to my ankle and the spots had literally covered my body. My stepfather called his doctor and I was in the ER in less than half an hour. The doctor, a brilliant man whom no doubt saved my life, didn’t even focus on my leg but asked me how long I had the spots. While every other doctor who saw me wanted to immediately treat me for leukemia, he wanted to wait until a bone marrow test was done to verify it and started treating me for mononucleosis. I do remember laying there hours after I was admitted, my Mom bawling her head off, and the doctor telling me I was a very sick young man who was on the verge of death and may not make it! I knew I must have been scared but I couldn’t fathom dying because I just did not feel sick! The first night I was awakened every hour on the hour for a blood draw. I later learned that yes the hourly blood draw was needed, but the nurses were also making sure I had not expired. The next morning after a very obese male nurse climbed on my while I was on my stomach and painfully and forcefully inserted a huge needle into my hip bone to draw bone marrow leaving with the sample drenched with sweat, it was discovered I did not have leukemia. My doctor was right and I recovered ever so slowly. I spent the Thanksgiving of 1976 in the hospital. I was in the 11th grade.

Oh yeah, then there was the time right at the end of my first year of college, classes were basically done and the dorm I was in was a rocking party. We were nonstop and I had gotten a hold of a bag of Valium of every color and strength and was popping them like candy washing them down with whatever alcohol was put in front of me. I was just asking for an overdose! And again, one time some friends got together for an afternoon of revelry and I snorted what was supposed to be a whole nights worth of crystal meth in two fat lines all at once. I thought it was cocaine. My friends stared at me in disbelief when I did it. It was two full days before I could either eat or sleep. Thank goodness I was in the best physical shape of my life, but I still could have stroked out or blown my heart apart. I was then in my 20’s. Oh and then there was the time when a bunch of us went camping in the mountains of central California. We trucked our bicycles to the top of a paved mountain highway and was to ride down the mountain back to camp. I decided to see how fast I could go. I had no helmet on, no shirt, just a pair of swim trunks and off I went blazing down the highway. At my fastest I was passing every car I came upon. Then came the curve I was not able to make at the speed I was going. I went off the road and over the cliff. I had no idea how big the drop was or how steep. I just saw blue sky and figured my life was now over! I came too in a cloud of dust and a broken collar-bone. I was taking off the mountain in an ambulance. I was 30 years old at the time. Ok now DON”T YOU JUDGE ME, it was a long time ago and I am just making a point.

Now I have approached the age of 52 years. How I made it, I have no idea. I am a card-carrying AARP Member, having to wear glasses to see at night, taking meds for high cholesterol and acid reflux disease! I no longer run to the door of the Grim Reaper, knock, then run away. Nowadays, he is the one lurking outside my door waiting, watching. I have to see doctors for things like colonoscopies, prostate exams, and recently an endoscopy. It was this last procedure that had my life flashing before my eyes again. I have had GERD for many years but of which I have under control by taking meds. My doctor recommended that I get an endoscopy just to make sure things are okay down there. I had the procedure done on a Thursday and was not unpleasant. They give you good drugs! The results showed evidence of acid reflux and some biopsies were taken to be examined and the results were to be provided to me in a week or two by mail. I thought nothing of it until I received a call the following Tuesday from his nurse that he wanted to see me about the results and could I come in the next morning. She didn’t convey the message very well and my heart sank. We had a neighbor when we lived in Laurelhurst who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and died a horrible death just months later. I was mortified. It was a long night of worry, not being able to eat or sleep, and wondering how Debbie would handle bad news if it were such. She took the morning off and went with me to my appointment. My life was again flashing before my eyes. This time I didn’t have that feeling of invincibility as in youth. My mind may still reside in young wistful ways, but the reality is that my body is no longer as young as my mind. Age creeps year after year after year. The doctor came in and was a bit surprised that Debbie was there with me and said there was no real concern. I did have damage to my esophagus and proceeded to diagnose me with Barrett’s Esophagus! While the news isn’t great, it isn’t a horrible death sentence. It will have to be monitored and I will have to maintain my daily regimen of Prevacid, but nothing else needs to be done. I am going to voluntarily make modifications to my lifestyle and tweak my daily supplement intake, but I am grateful for now! I am not ready to leave behind my lovely and wonderful wife and I am not ready to die. I love life! Stay away from me Mr. Reaper, you asshole! Do I have any regrets? Yes I do have regrets about not have done some of thing things I wanted to! Would I do everything all over again if I had the chance? Hell yes…..I have had one hell of a time so far!

Five Decades

Just recently I hit a milestone and joined the 50 crowd. Yes, on May 15th I turned the big 5-0! I must admit, this birthday bothers me a bit! When I hit my 20’s, I was happy because before long I could drink legally and vote. I was no longer a teenager and could be looked on as more of adult although I probably wasn’t acting like one at that point. When I hit 30 I still wasn’t bothered by it. I was living in Southern California, had a great girlfriend at the time, was making decent money, and really enjoying life! Turning 40 was quite fun. I had moved to the Pacific Northwest, married my wife, and still had a great time. In fact, Debbie threw me a surprise party for my 40th birthday and I ha many friends show up and we had a blast. Turning 50 is a different story!

Before I slide into a depressed diatribe, I will explain what we did for my 50th. I didn’t want a surprise party, but did have a party. We invited some friends to join us on or boat and celebrate my fifty years on earth by going on a day cruise. Deb and I had taken the boat up to Elliot Bay Marina from where we moor the boat in Tacoma the day before. Our friends came up there. Some friends I hadn’t seen in quite some time showed up! We enjoyed some food and drink then took a cruise around Bainbridge Island. It was very fun and I had a great time. Now I am not complaining about my life, in fact I have a good one! I have a lovely wife who loves me very much, enjoy some fantastic friends, have decent income which has us enjoying a fairly good life. We have a beautiful home, a real nice boat, and really have no real worries right now but turning 50 is bothering me. First off, I don’t have very good longevity genes, especially if I follow the path of my parents. Both of them passed suddenly in their early fifties. I do believe I am in much better health than they were. They both smoked, I do not. I try to eat healthy most of the time, but do enjoy a fattening snack from time to time and try to watch my weight. Right now I am really watching my intake and have dropped almost 10 pounds. I have been known to imbibe in an alcoholic bevy or two, but hey, got to have some fun in life right? I run quite frequently and try and stay as active as possible, but as I look at old pictures and myself in the mirror, I can see myself looking older these days. For many years I looked younger than my physical age, but do see a change slowly encroaching.

For the first time in my life I am hit with the realization that unless I hit 100, my life is beyond half over. The young stupid feelings of invincibility are long gone now. What does the future hold but longer waits at the urinal for the piss stream to start, hardly ever sleeping completely through the night without having to make a trip to the bathroom, more involved physical exams (does the first colonoscopy come to mind?), and worrying about the slow break down of the physical body and the inevitable ailments that will pop up! Am I going to give up and let old age take me down, hell no!!! But I am having to stop and think sometimes about growing old and facing my own mortality. I haven’t done that much in the past. Will I change, probably not! I will still enjoy my Makers like always, and rarely will act my age like usually. I figure that if you act old, you get old, so I will still continue to be the immature idiot that you have come to know, love, laugh at, and make fun of hopefully until the day I finally bump into the grim reaper and he says, “Time to come with me!”

Many New Pictures Posted

Wedding

Wedding

San Antonio 2009

San Antonio 2009

At Best Friends

At Best Friends

Have a look at our photos from our recent vacation. Click each image to go to the album or just go here for our complete Flickr Photo Page!

From Our Website

frankenpus.jpg

This a typical post from our web site and is the latest. I decided to make it a blog post and our web site will slowly revert to this blog. Enjoy! I left the above picture up from the last update because our little guy Simon is still having thyroid problems. He had to have a first surgery to have his thyroid removed, but in some cases of thyroid disease in cats, some tissue remained and came back. We had to take him in for yet another surgery. He didn’t bounce back this time like he did from the first one, but he is still hanging in there the best he can. We have realized that he is way more resilient than we ever knew. We just hope he can recover fully and have a few more good years, but when his time comes, that’s it for pets for awhile. Now, for what has been going on at the Estate!

We have really been enjoying our boat this summer. Back in June we took or longest trip yet up to Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands for a big boat gathering of Bayliner boat owners. There were over 200 boats there and Larry and Lynette also joined us. We had a great time, but the weather didn’t cooperate like we wanted and we got rained on. On the way, our friends Tori and Kevin just happened to be on San Juan Island where they have a vacation home. We let them know when we were cruising by and they snapped some pretty cool photos of us out in the sound. We had come across a very large pod of orca whales and they were cruising along side us. I have uploaded them, so check them out by clicking here. Now for the bad news, we had our fist boating accident ALREADY!!! It happened on the 4th of July. We had guests aboard which included Carl, one of our dock buddies, and Debbie’s sister Dani and her husband Terry and son Truxton. We had just been out on the water for less than half an hour and had navigated into the log boom by the Tacoma waterfront. We were cruising at idle speed amidst hundreds of other boats and was looking for a place to tie up and begin enjoying the festivities. Out of the blue, a 41 foot 18 ton sailboat under power came right at us. All I had time to do is hit the horn and tried to maneuver somewhat to an angle at him and got slammed. His bow pulpit with anchor plowed through our port side window, into our salon, ripped out the wood support beam and through the aft window. Then his bow hit the side of our fiberglass area above the hull. It was disastrous and did massive damage to our boat. Nobody was injured thankfully, but Debbie was really bummed that her baby was now wrecked. Then the asshole took off without even a word of concern. Debbie got on the radio and called the Coast Guard. They and the Tacoma Police showed up and apprehended the guy and we learned he was drunk out of his mind. He was hauled off to jail. Since the accident, we have been in contact with the actually owner of the sailboat who was his sister-in-law. She is fully covered with insurance and said the guy is a real loser and wasn’t even supposed to be on the boat. Her insurance company is covering all the repairs to our boat. We had a boat surveyor do a damage survey and the result was very extensive. We will be coming out of this with new windows, wood, carpet, upholstery, repairs to our flybridge and radar arch, new gelcoat and complete waxing of the fiberglass, and more. It is estimated that the damage assessment will be close to $50K and will be out of the water at least a month and probably more. I have damage pictures posted here, and when we get her back and all fixed, we’ll take some more pictures and post the results of the repair work.

But we have done some boating on a somewhat larger vessel just recently. At the end of September we went on a cruise to Alaska on the ms Oosterdam! Neither one of us had ever been on a cruise before and it was so much fun!!! We had a seven night cruise and made stops in Juneau, Hoonah, and Ketchikan. We love Alaska and I could live up there. Not too sure about Debbie though. You think it rains here, well it rains three times as much up in the Alaskan panhandle. But the scenery and beauty of the area is worth the liquid sunshine. We saw bears, whales, dolphins, eagles, and seals. I set up a picture album you can see by clicking this link. We also took a couple of short videos with Debbie’s camera. The first one is of Mendenhall Glacier which is just north of Juneau. The second one is Debbie dancing a Tlingit tribal dance while we were in Honnah. She is very cute.  Anyway we are back to reality and now will try to work off all the indulgence experienced while afloat!!!

Well, guess Debbie has been doing lately? Some of you may know this, but Debbie is Welsh by birth and since she arrived in the great US of A around 44 years ago, she has remained a resident alien. That designation has just changed as Debbie has now become a US citizen!!! She is very happy and proud and this has been a long time coming. She passed every question on her citizenship test. Now she can do what she has wanted to for years and that is VOTE!! I guess now, we will have to keep our own voting preferences to ourselves. We are all very proud of our new US citizen and a very cute one at that. Check out some pictures of her getting sworn in.

And now for some more exciting news, the day I have waited for for almost 15 years has come……….Alex has moved out of the house!!!!!!! He landed a great job in marketing with Milgard Windows down in Fife, which is near Tacoma. His new place is also in Fife which means his commute is only about five minutes. He found a very nice one bedroom apartment in a newer complex with all kinds of amenities. He is close to where Debbie works, so they can hook up for lunches and dinners from time to time and he is also closer to his gal Mo. it has been a win-win for everyone and now we finally are empty nesters….yaaaaaahoooooooooo!!!!!!! Now my first project coming in the future will be to completely rearrange and organize the garage now that all of his stuff is outta there. Let’s see how long it takes me to get around to doing it!!!

I should also give you a Ryan update before I close this latest chapter. He is doing great and working very hard. He had a job offer from a competing company that really wanted him. Instead of just bailing on his current company, he went in and had a face to face with the owner about the offer, the problems he saw, suggestions on making things better for him and all the other employees, and other gripes. Not only did the owner listen to him, but he got a huge pay raise in addition to making many changes that Ryan suggested. Now the company is making money hand over fist and everyone is happier and working much harder. He will be doing big things in the future. His boss took him and some of their important clients on a fishing trip to Alaska recently. Ryan had a great time and brought home a ton of fish and it was totally paid for and he didn’t even have to use his own vacation time. Just goes to show you how much Ryan has progressed in his career. He has his own place with his cats and dog and is enjoying the single life when he can.

I’ll finish up with my last bit sad news and let you go. On the morning of September 23rd we lost our very good friend Mike Campbell. Mike was my first friend made when I moved up to Seattle back in 1990. He was a very good guy, very generous with himself with others too. We had a great time with him and his wife Jane, getting together over beers and solving the world’s problems. He will be missed very much. Good bye Mikey, we will miss you very much! Until next time, thanks for visiting!!!! See ya on the web!!!! Ahoy!!!!!

Is This Blogging?

Well here I sit with a glass of chardonnay, some low fat wheat thins, a nose full of snot, and my little buddy Simon by my side. Simon is my cat and we are holding down the estate…… just us guys. Debbie, my wife is away on business. No…. there are no big parties, no ex-girlfriends coming by, no cigar smoking poker games being held either. Just a 48 year old guy with a cold and his cat figuring out the world of blogging. How am I doing so far? Bored crap-less by now? Hopefully I will get better at this. After all, I did no preparation as to what I was going to write for my first post. It is coming off the top of my balding cranium as the words hit the screen. My name is Joe Givens, Snoqualmie Joe to some. I am a bus driver for the public transit system for the Seattle area. I have two podcasts, Snoqualmie Joe and The Boat Virgins, and I am also a Green Bay Packer Fan. My hobbies include golfing, boating, running, travel, and lots of eating and drinking. My ideal date is…………. oops, forgot that this wasn’t a personal ad even though it sounds like it. I am an opinionated fat ass blowing alot of air and is this blogging? Am I a blogger now? Yippppeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!! What next?

My wife Debbie and I have been married almost 15 years and we live in a small but growing town nestled next to the Cascade Mountains called Snoqualmie. We are recently empty nesters and are enjoying our new found privacy. Debbie has two sons from a previous marriage Ryan and Alex and you’ll learn more about them later. For now I am closing this introductory post as the time is getting late and I am getting pumpkinesque. Is that a word? You get it don’t you? Don’t be a dumb ass. Simon is beckoning me to bed and I am obliged to go. Until next time……..blog this!!!!

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