Honda does the Right Thing

It’s been a stressful week. It’s the 2nd anniversary of Richard’s death, and it’s the first time that I’ve been able to spend it with Janna basically attached to her hip. During the first year of grieving she couldn’t handle being around me too much as she would attempt to convince herself it was 2005 and my being there was normal because we had lived together in 2005 while Richard was in Iraq. When he returned at the end of 2005, a new chapter of their lives started, and I helped to smooth that transition for them both since the Army hasn’t figured out how.

And then, bam! Gone.

Now, Janna, The Cheerleader, has had to deal with this loss for two years. Day in and day out she’s worked to get her life back, get her sensibilities back, and to get as well as she can. Not easy, not fast, and certainly not painless. But still, moving forward in big ways. And hanging out with her 24/7 is a lot of fun even when she’s screaming. Sometimes, because she is.

That being said, the little extra stressors in her life are not much fun. They suck. Like, transmission needs to be replaced at a cost of several grand and lots of without car time. Not making her happy.

Consider as well that the car got it’s original transmission changed at approx. 78k miles in October 2005, the second swapped out after only 25k miles and 18 months, and now the third is being swapped out for the fourth after a mere 20k miles and 12 months. Not pretty.

Worse, the car is now out of the extended warranty, so the transmission isn’t covered in any way. And as we all know, they aren’t cheap either.

But we called Honda USA and went over the events, and asked. What could hurt if we asked for help, the worst thing they could do is say no, and then we were no worse off for asking. They said they would review the case and get back to us in few days. Usually, this is corporate speak for “Let me get a social normative graph because it’s something to refer to and will take time, tricking one to think we’re making the effort, when we’re just stalling” but not this time.

After considering all that Janna has had to deal with this, it’s been sucky. Just fucking sucky. Having the car issues to deal with all throughout the Anniversary day did some good in distracting from the insanity inherent in a 32 year old widow’s life. It seemed like a good thing to me, but Janna felt that she didn’t get anything accomplished on thursday, even tho she spent the day reconnecting with various parts of her family, both the family she was born into and the family that she was married into. None of it was easy.

Honda has decided to pay all but 10% of the bill to replace the transmission. It will therefore have a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty for the transmission itself. So the little people can play their game again. And we whole-heartedly thank them.


Southern Comfort

I’ve been offline since late last week, which was when I had a last-minute deal appear in my lap and proceed to shred my thursday and friday like a demon-possessed wood chipper. Oh so much fun.

And let’s not forget the random weather in Montana that included a blizzard that appeared at 2 am Saturday and brought along the wind from a hurricane and a couple of lightening bolts left over from last spring. It seems that the weather was being run by the same windows machine that did the fireworks for Seattle. Heavy, wet, sticky snow that was piling up sideways as I needed to depart to drive to Bozeman for a flight. Rapture.

Anyway, it ended up being a non-issue, as the new PT drives excellently (more on that lovely bit later) and the storm and I parted ways after 32 miles. I made my flight, although when I landed in Denver to switch planes, I got a voice mail from United that if I missed my flight, I could get right on the next one out of Bozeman. Nice service, really, as it had to arrive right about when I checked in, since I turned my phone off after calling home to say the snow hadn’t killed me.

Now I’m in Houston for the Second Anniversary of Hell. Mostly, it’s been pretty good. I’m not looking forward to some of the events we have to do for this, but I am glad to be here. I want to know what the word would be that means ‘an obligation that honors me to undertake, that creates happiness out of misery, and that helps all involved in different ways, but that still sucks bilgewater’. I’m sure there is a German word for it, along the lines of schadenfraude, but it’s not been made into a song yet.

Anyway, back in Houston with the Cheerleader. Back dealing with emotional wounds that blacken the sun and destroy souls, an ongoing battle that seems to finally be going our way. I wouldn’t walk away for anything, but I wish no one would ever go through this.


I don’t really know what to write about this, but here goes. Yesterday at around 3:15 pm my grandpa Hal passed away. While I’m saddened that he’s gone, and he will be missed, I’m glad that he’s no longer in pain. Cancer seems to grab many in my family, but his seemed particularly horrible, especially because two months ago he was still picking up wings to rivet to his airplane.

I have to point out that he had an amazing life. He had many talents, was an amazing engineer, convinced the tiny town of Helena, Montana to build a new and better airport terminal so that 737s could land, created a scholarship fund for the Technical College in Helena to help those in need get an education, which he knew was the key to a better life. He was romantic enough to buy my gramma Jane a convertible Mustang, a green 1968 dream machine, so she could drive it once, with the top down, in the sun, before cancer took her away. He remarried to Zola, and the two of them were the cutest couple at the airport, always putting some magnificent flying machine together, chasing the dream of the next flight. Zola, although his second wife, was never second best, and she treated him like a king. He was 80 years old. He had at least another 80 years to live. Damn cancer.

My impression was that he wasn’t around when I was a kid, but we lived in Denver, and Hal and Jane were in Helena, so it’s not like they were down the road and skipped visiting. I really remember seeing him and Jane for the holidays to put out the candles-in-sacks all over their neighborhood. Those are great memories, but I’m still confused to the origins of the ‘Tom & Jerry’ drink we had. But impressions can have no real bearing on reality and while I don’t remember seeing Hal and Jane much until after I turned seven, I’m sure I probably did.

Jane died when I was eight, the same year, just a few months before grandma Sporty, my mom’s mom. I remember them both, although the memories are becoming more and more just impressions. Sporty was bright, wild, amazing, and lively, and Jane was calm, graceful, elegant and generous. But I don’t really remember Hal from then.

I remember when he and Zola got married, first because the wedding was in Vegas, second because I sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” for them. A more fitting song I can’t imagine, as over the next 20 years the two of them would travel the world, visiting Russia, Australia, and heaven only knows where else. They spent summers in Helena, avoiding the crushing summer heat of their winter home in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. They flew together, Zola earned her Instrument Rating, which is a very difficult task, ask any pilot. He couldn’t have been more proud, and while the trips overseas were great for both of them, I know they’d both have just as much fun just flying around in their own planes, too. I can’t imagine what she’s going through, I just hope she knows she’s loved, too.

Hal kinda showed up at various times in my life after that, giving advice, telling me history, and always asking “Hon, when are you going to learn to fly a plane?” I never saw him angry, I’ve never heard him raise his voice but once, and that was when were in Japan and his nerves had frayed – but so had everyone else’s, and even then he wasn’t loud or dangerous, he just was upset, and that was so new and different from his calm, cool, casual-in-a-business-suit-and-tie demeanor that it shocked me. I just never saw it again.

He had a whiskey voice, even though he was a scotch man to the last. Of course, he preferred ice-cream by far. His voice could capture a room without yelling, would cut and twirl words with the faintest echo of his Southern upbringing, and would always include “Hon” when talking to anyone in his family.

One of life’s more inexplicable coincidences happened as my youngest sister Tricia just got final confirmation that she’s pregnant the same day Hal left us. He’ll miss the new great-grandchild, who is bound to be another pilot-in-the-wings, I’m sure. I don’t know that I can do you justice in telling that kid who you are, but I’ll sure try.

I will miss you Grampa. I’ll miss you a lot. Be safe on your journey, and may your soul know peace.

Yeah, I write too much. Cope.

First off, I’m talking about the comment spam that ran my hosted server through the roof today. I got home and had a message stating that I had used nearly 100 times my normal daily server cycles, and while that doesn’t put me anywhere near my limit, it does make me want to find out why. I did some searching and it turns out that a new, sneakier, more annoying version of blog comment spam has hit the net, and it attacked several of the sites that I maintain. More on this in a minute. It’s been a day, and I’d like to post about it, if only for me. Feel free to skip bits.

Today was a really long day, even though I really didn’t get going until 10 am. I spent most of it with The Cheerleader as she combed through the wreckage of her dreams – which I have to tell you, is exhausting. I love her with all my heart, and today was really hard to watch. I will miss Richard deeply, but mine is the depth of a tablespoon next to the ocean compared to her. She’s been amazing, really, because while everyone else is either falling apart (like me) or becoming automatons (those who stare blank-faced asking what they should do, which is also sometimes me), she’s chugging along, arranging everything as best she can, and only stopping to break-down when there is no other option. I, however, am a complete mess. I’m supposed to be there for her, to be strong, to be supportive and anchor-like for her, but I haven’t been able to get my wits about me enough to stand for myself, let alone be there for her as much as I’d like.

Hell, today I was scared of my phone, not because it might include a bill that could wipe me out, although that’s always a possibility. No, today my fear came from a phrase that I kept hearing in my head, over and over and over again. A phrase that the so-called ‘helpful’ around me had offered up as a sort of verbal talisman, when instead it was almost an invitation for the universe to stop on by and take another friend. I kept hearing “these things always happen in threes” and, I’m sorry for saying it this way, but SHUT. YOUR. PIEHOLE! Three I cannot take, and I know this because the thought of a third tragedy shut me down for a good portion of the day, and continues to make me dread answering the phone.

Unless I don’t recognize the number, them I’m all sorts of chipper. Like that’s some sort of safety? Yeah, I never said I was sane. Truly.

Anyway, so I have one real task to accomplish and that’s make the DVD of all the pictures of Richard. So I’ve been going through the incredibly-deep-yet-thankfully-digital stack of photographs that I have, some of which I deliberately swiped from The Cheerleader. In doing so, I realized that about 99% of the rest of the world will not have seen these yet, and there is a good portion of you who won’t be able to make it to the funeral to see them there.

So I did two things. I removed the ability for content spam to affect my sites, which didn’t take long, but still was a hateful thing to have to deal with. Spammers suck.

The other thing I did is place a slide show at Richard & Janna’s site, of all the pictures I have of Richard. I figure that even if you get to see the DVD presentation that you might want to see more, maybe pause and really get a good long view of a particular pic. I haven’t really gone through them, so there may be duplicates or blurry ones, but I’ll update the slideshow when I’ve edited down the pics for the DVD. If you have any questions or the slideshow isn’t working for you, please let me know in the comments here.

Richard – that’s 2 in 3 days, dammit!

I can’t believe this. It’s so surreal and strange to me, and the only word to describe it is “fuck”. First, Robinson Loder dies of a heart failure on Thursday at work, and then Richard, the husband of my best friend Janna, a.k.a. The Cheerleader, dies in a car wreck late Saturday night. I keep thinking it’s some cruel-and-late April Fool’s joke, but it’s not. I really can’t quite believe it, and I’m having very little luck keeping it together.

I met Richard in on September 4, 2004 in Tucson, Arizona. He was at the local Army base getting training, and The Cheerleader happened to be visiting him there the same time I was in Phoenix to visit other friends, so I drove down to have dinner and meet the new man in her life. She finally met someone who treated her like the goddess she is, and who seemed to have his shit together. He still had to pass the Inspection by the Friends, which as you all know is the hardest thing for any potential mate.

He not only passed, he surpassed everything. Richard was, honestly, the most charming and wonderful man you could imagine.

Eventually they got married, and while Richard was still deployed to Iraq, and I was still living at The Cheerleader’s house, he became part of my family. When he returned from the war we had a few times of stress, and things weren’t perfect, but they never got worse. It takes time to readjust to civilian life after a year in a warzone, but he’d done it. It was very amazing to see the two of them together.

During the readjustment period, which is also when I moved out of their house, it was very telling to find out that Richard was worried that my opinion of him had soured. He wanted to make sure that I approved of him and liked him and didn’t feel that he was in some way wrong. I’ve never had any doubts about him, and I’ve never been so honored in my life as when I found out that my opinion meant so much to him. He honored all of us with his service in Iraq, as he was the first and perhaps only person who could and did make some semblance of sense out of that mess. He was loving, kind, careful and strong, and in many ways the best you can ask of any person to be.

Richard and Janna the night I met him, Tucson, AZ, 9.4.04The picture here is one I took the night that I met Richard. I remember it well enough to say I knew that they’d be married soon, and that it was a good thing for both of them. I knew then that he was a wonderful guy, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better for my best friend’s husband.

I can’t believe he’s gone. I can’t quite believe that this week has happened.

Richard, I know you’re looking over us and will be watching to keep her safe. I didn’t tell you enough how much you meant to me, and how much I love you – for your strength, your courage, your honor, your humor and your love for Janna and everyone you surrounded yourself with. You are the best, my friend, and you will be remembered that way by all of us. But fuck, you shouldn’t be a memory, you should still be here. Safe journeys, my friend.

Robbed of Rob

Robinson Loder Ah, I probably shouldn’t be clever with the title, but he would have enjoyed it as he was just as clever, and just as likely to say something funny, brilliant, profound or warm. I guess that’s the best way to remember Robinson Loder, a good friend to everyone he met. I worked with Rob on several projects while at ATX, and he is basically the antithesis of my personality. He was quiet, calm, polite, humble, caring, giving and dedicated. He was cool enough to hang with anyone and strong enough in himself to not need to hang with everyone. He was very much one of the cornerstone people for my time at ATX and in Maine. We started right at the same time, although we didn’t meet for a few months because we worked in different buildings. Having chronological employee numbers that are visible to everyone makes it easy to notice that someone you thought just started has been there as long as you. That was a fun lunch, finding out that we’d been toiling away on various projects and just hadn’t crossed paths yet.

Rob was always welcome at my lovely apartment across the street from the main ATX building. My apartment was called Conference Room 6, and although Rob was an almost rare addition to the, *ahem*, meetings, he joined us enough to be a regular regardless. Several of his visits are some of the more memorable CR6 moments for me, and perhaps that’s what sucks the most – knowing that there won’t be another meeting that becomes a night of laughing and hanging out with some of the most amazing people around. Rob was one of those, and we are all better for having known him.

Rob, I wish you safe travels to heaven. And I really wish you were still here, dammit!