Longest Winter Ever

I used this song first for a Valentine’s Day post because it’s about my favorite love song ever,  but I think it also aptly describes the love I had for my dog Remy. I don’t want to harp on this subject because it is painful and I am trying to feel better not worse. This song does coincidentally sync with my feelings with the dog, from my first feelings against him when my parents got him as a puppy to my disapproval because I didn’t think they’d take care of him to getting close after taking over ownership and the dog barely making it through my Dad’s passing to my eventual real love for the dog. I’ll be brief in my writing on the grieving process, but it’s obvious we love our pets in this family and it’s never easy when they die.

This is easily the longest winter I can remember experiencing and I think everyone’s seasonal affective disorder is boiling over. You can see it in people’s faces, from the despair at the grocery store to the five fights at the dive bar last Friday which far exceeds the norm and it makes me happy that I gave up alcohol for Lent so I was not at all involved. Losing my cat and then my dog was the nail in the coffin for this being the worst winter I’ve had so far in my life, except behind my father’s passing three years back in January.

For a few days there, I was the second most depressed that I have ever been, spending much of last Friday night staring at the ceiling. I’m coming out of it now, as time and activity will heal most wounds, as well as my recent acquisition of a two year old orange cat named Hunk from the refugee league who seems like he will fit in well at the Brothers J family compound in Maine. Nothing will ever replace Remy the Golden retriever I inherited from my Dad, but I will slowly not feel so sad and be happy for the time I shared with him.

 

I go back to this song a lot, it’s totally a mantra I say when I get really down about hard times because all things do pass whether you want them to or not. I also sing “Let it Be” in my brain when I get stressed out so maybe I can design and market a whole program os using Beatles’ tunes and solo tracks as a philosophical framework. I’m sure they’d get all the royalties. Lastly, this is a different version than I normally listen to and I dig the horn section.

The times the loss of my faithful friend Remy are most powerful are times of transition, like when I expect to see him sitting there when I get out the shower or when I come home from school and he would wait by the door so I could bring him for a walk. This will pass and I will be left with positive memories, but Spring would sure help this process along. It’s the first of April tomorrow and sleet/snow covered the roads this morning during my commute. This much snow and this much cold weather has literally turned everyone into angry and depressed people who should all change after the first consistent run of warm weather. The Stones said it pretty well.

This is the first time I have heard this song which is very odd as I am a pretty avid Stones fan. I like it, it’s very much like a tune on Exile on Main Street.

It’s funny how fast our perceptions change. I couldn’t imagine living in my house without the dog living there too because that’s how it has been for the last nine years, but sadly enough, I’m slowly adjusting to the cat greeting me instead of my dog. We will all complain about the weather, but after a week of warm temperatures, we will all be talking about how amazing it is here in the Northland and all the rednecks will start reminiscing about how good the snowmobile riding was this winter and how they can’t wait until next year. As stuck in our ways as humans are, we can adapt quickly even if we don’t want to.

“I don’t mind the sun sometimes, the images it shows”. We all need some sunshine now and also maybe softly spoken lies and the knowledge that you never know just how you look through someone else’s eyes.

While the fall is kind of a death knell for the other three seasons, spring is the beginning after a long winter of bone chilling cold that ruins everything from your positive outlook to my furnace which broke down yesterday keeping me home today so it can get fixed on April Fool’s day. Is this sunny day going to be like a giant joke in itself, suddenly turning into a blizzard with negative temperatures, one last cruel joke from that unrelenting force of Mother Nature? I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. I am going to think positive thoughts because one way or another, spring is coming. I miss my dog, but I know that some time I won’t  be so depressed about it and I’ll mostly be able to look back on all the good times I had with him. Everything passes with time and the only constant is that things will change. I just hope we get a few months of sunshine to revitalize our souls and forget how cruel a winter it was.

 

I have been very into this song for a few months, kind of like the mental hip hop vacations I took this winter to relieve some stress. This jam is on like every list for the top ten best rock instrumentals of the 1960’s and deservedly so, it’s a real jam that makes me want to strut around somewhere sunny and forget all the ills of the world. Hell, it makes me want to dance.

 

Songs for a Busted Muffler

This is one of my favorite songs and I happened to stumble upon this bluegrass version accidentally and I am stoked with the results. I’ve loved this song a long time and always felt like I am sort of a “Mr. Wrong”.  Although, really I only lacked a muffler for a short time and I have no tattoos or a particular aversion to meeting any significant other’s parents.

I’ve really grown attached to my new job and, luckily, things are going pretty well. My students are good this year, my co-teacher is incredibly on point and my bosses are supportive as well as enthusiastic. They decided to send us to a workshop last Monday so we could work on project-based learning, which is something we plan to do a lot in our classes. That Sunday prior was the first big snow storm of the year, the first real sign of winter for us in the snow removal business.

As some may remember, I have done this in the wealthy neighborhoods of Portland, Maine for almost a decade for my hippie neighbor as the winter arm of the landscaping company. Because he neglected to plow out the end of my driveway, I chose to bust out and my 99 Subaru Impreza’s exhaust severed right in the middle of the whole system. I didn’t know this though and drove an hour north and spent 8 hours shoveling snow.  It actually hung together until I started it up Monday morning to head to this workshop with my tie on.

This choice probably seems pretty obvious for why I chose it. You may not know it, but this song is actually about the other fluffy white stuff, cocaine, which the boys in Sabbath did pretty hard for a good chunk of the seventies. The imagery of the sun no longer bringing you peace and the snowflakes on the trees is very apt for our particular form of snowy white stuff but I can assure you none of our shovel crew is on blow.

Here I was, getting my nice clothes all wet, trying to push through yet another shitty Monday. Why do so many bad things happen on Mondays? I suspect it’s the higher power’s message to get your ass in gear, it’s time for the work week, but in this case it was just the weather and a neighbor’s negligence. I was lucky because I was able to call my vice principal and get put down for a personal day so I could deal with this issue. Then, like clockwork, my friend who works overnights appeared and was willing to give me a ride, After a few phone calls, I was able to drop the car off by nine am.

My brother and I have different views on religion, polar opposite in some respects. However, I think that we could both agree that if angels did exist, they would sing like Emmylou. The woman sounds just like she did in the 70’s and I am always looking at ways of getting her music out there. Also, I’m on a  serious bluegrass kick as anyone whose been reading can see and it doesn’t seem to be letting up.

Ultimately, it all worked out. My wonderful co-teacher was at the workshop and got all the materials so I was able to slide right in there the next day as if I never missed the first one at all. My car was an easy fix, although band-aid is more apt at this stage in the vehicle’s career, and the only further drag was that I had to pick it up mad early the next day when the high temperature was -2. The day off was actually very relaxing and I watched the beginning of a shitty Marky Mark movie called Contraband which started with the following song.

I hate having videos which have ads on them but I prefer this version so much that I had to drop one on you all. This band really blows my horn and it’s been on a constant revolution since that day last week that my muffler fell off. Their sound is unique for the time and they are so enthusiastic about what they doing. I will be watching this band.

I couldn’t get through the movie but this song really hit me and even if that is the only thing I got out of the broken muffler Monday, that it’s a good day. This was a little over a week before Christmas which is now over and that’s something I’m thankful for. I perked up at times but generally, the holidays are a drag and I have to pull myself through them with mostly fake enthusiasm. Another year gone and a new one to begin, something else I’m thankful for, another year to perfect my version of the human existence. Things are pretty good and things I’m waiting for seem to be right around the corner. So, on that note enjoy this little ditty from J Roddy and I truly hope all of your holidays were a time of love, relaxation and a realization that life is pretty good when you look at it that way.

I just discovered this song last night and it’s so different from the other one but equally as awesome. The sparseness of this recording is amazing and their harmonies make me wish I knew how to sing. Keeping going J Roddy, I need you and so does America!

Oatmeal Stout Playlist

Winter has sucked but it seems to be looking up. I just might be getting a real job soon and, a few weeks ago, I got a free keg from a pretty reputable local brewery.

Now how does one get a free keg? It was an odd turn of events with multiple excruciating moves of a very heavy keg of Oatmeal Stout and the continual drunkenness of my illustrious neighbor whom I have written on before. Basically, the neighbor gets the post brew grain from aforementioned local brewery and feeds it to his various livestock. The chickens seem to eat anything; however,  the pigs turn their nose up at it. After doing snow removal a few weeks ago, my neighbor/boss tricked me into going to help him pick up the grain.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

My brother wrote a few weeks ago about dealing with winters in the north and their effect on your psyche. He also stated that this issue basically disappeared when he moved to a southern climate; but I think this has a lot more to do with the fact that the man has no time to be morose with two young kids, a full time job as a professor and so on and so forth.

One of the many things that add to Seasonal Affective Disorder is that when it is extremely cold and/or snowy, you can’t do much outside unless you thrive on a winter sport like skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or whatever. Snow removal generally sucks as well (which we will discuss a little further along). The bad weather coupled with the come-down from the holidays and the crappy economy of the last few years has really made me feel this S.A.D. thing. I also tend to miss my father more around this time for the obvious reason that the anniversary of his death comes at the end of this month and the holidays really emphasize his absence.

So I had a long talk with my brother on the phone on this subject and one of the many ways we talked of dealing with these generally shitty feelings is to write about it in our blog. He has already sort of covered it and I will add my own experience right now. I’m lucky to have a brother that not only listens  about why I feel like shit but also helps me look at various ways I can combat this yearly phenomena.  Exercise, limiting of alcohol consumption and a renewed focus on finding a real job were key points. So here it is.

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