Saturday, October 26, 2019

When it comes to birthdays… oh, what I wouldn’t do to be a vampire again

NOTE:  This is from November 4 2012, 4 days after my 51st birthday.  But I recently found some artwork I wanted to include, and seeing that it’s almost Halloween…

A few days ago I celebrated my birthday.  Well, I’m not sure I’d say celebrate—it was a ‘work from home’ day for me, and I had some leftover chicken for lunch and a bowl of cereal for dinner.  The day before was much nicer though, some lovely friends took me out to lunch & got me a giant cookie afterwards. 

Thank you Dani, Gwen, Kathy & Jamie!

I got a nice assortment of birthday cards in the mail too, a couple of them even came with music and you can never go wrong with the Starship Enterprise.  I especially liked how a couple were for people with Halloween birthdays like mine (and wait you didn’t know that?  I thought I told everybody).  But truth be told, as much as I appreciate the ones I got this year and every year, I still miss the ones from my dad more than anything.

I’m talking about the hand-drawn cards my Dad made for me on my birthdays, which were far better than anything that Hallmark or American Greetings could do.

Besides his job in coal shaft construction and playing music on the weekends, Dad enjoyed drawing too.

While he drew birthday cards for everyone in the family, I got a big kick out of how he always portrayed me as a vampire. 

That’s my mom holding a newborn Doug with the caption “Look Don… it’s another boy—and he was born with two teeth!” 

(Click on image to enlarge)

Here’s another “Vampire Doug” card, with me going to the Blood Bank to make some withdrawals (naturally)!


Here’s one of my favorites that Dad made for my older brother Duke on his 16th birthday in 1975 (and boy did he get things right on the money here!)


This one was for our baby sister Courtney, who turned 4 on July 2, 1979.  Mom liked to remind us that July 4 may be celebrated as Independence Day, but the actual date of said event was July 2!


And here’s one Dad made for my younger brother Steve (again, click on any of these images to enlarge):


Dad captured our little sister & both of my brothers so well, with Duke on his academic soapbox (when he wasn’t chowing down) and Huckleberry Steve and his love of all those darn critters— both before and after they became road-kill. 

And then there was me, always with the fangs!

Well, when you’re wearing a set of pointy teeth and carrying your sister’s Barbie Makeup Head around in the middle of July, what can you expect?

Monday, October 21, 2019

I’m ready to join the Bloggers Club… oh dagnabbit, now the bug’s bitten me too

A couple weeks ago, I was on Google’s Blogger forum looking for a solution to why the ‘Contact Me’ gadget in my sidebar had stopped working.  I was reading other blogger’s issues, and one asked “What happened to the ‘Next’ button in the toolbar, that took you to a blog similar to the one you were on?  I really miss finding new blogs to read.”

Good question, I’d been wondering the same thing for a couple months now—I used to click on that ‘Next blog’ button a lot.

Blogger’s response was they had removed that feature, as it wasn’t popular.  What a shame, I used to come across some real zingers in the blogosphere.

Plus it’s removal reduced the odds of your own blog being randomly ‘discovered’ as well.  Forget my gadget issue, I suddenly had the urge to find some new blogs to read.  I discovered it’s easier said than done. 

It’s simple enough to google ‘food blog’ or ‘tv blog’ or ‘travel blog’, there’s dozens—no hundreds of homegrown themed sites out there.  I wanted to find PERSONAL blogs, like mine.  People just sharing their own life stories.  How do you google that? 

On a whim, I googled “baby boomer blogs”  (people born between 1944 & 1964) and got a link to “The Top 100 Baby Boomer Blogs of 2019”.   I believe every blog listed had a variation of the word “Boomer” in the title, each with similar topics on how to be one.  (Not exactly what I was looking for.) 

But one stood out, “Time Goes By – What it’s really like to get old”.  I clicked on it.


I must’ve spent 3-4 hours reading (that first day, I’ve been back several times since).  It’s basically the life story of a 78 year old woman named Ronni, diagnosed in 2017 with pancreatic cancer.  It’s her own life’s journey, her mother’s battle with cancer, book recommendations, thoughts on everything from ageism to politics to pop culture.  She’s a remarkable writer and it was just a joy to read. 

Recently, one of her pieces was on Old Age & Loneliness.   Unsure if I was regarded as an old man (I’m sure my 15 year old niece would think so) but still relating to this piece in a big way, I posted this response:

Ronni, this topic is precisely how I found your wonderful blog just a week or so ago. I don’t know if 58 is considered old age, but this is a problem I wrestle with. If it wasn’t for a couple of my sisters (who live far from me but we connect thru email) I’d be in real trouble. I never married or had kids, so they’re the only family I’ve got.

I was able to save & invest thru the years, managed an early retirement a few years ago. I guess I didn’t realize all of my physical relationships were work-related ones. I was na├»ve at the time to think I’d maintain friendships I had there. Anyway, was just coming to my senses that I needed to be more proactive about this a year or so ago, when I developed chronic TMD after a kidney operation (a jaw disorder which limits my speaking & diet).  So… reading others blogs (and writing my own) has been a real help.

I didn’t expect or receive a respone (no one does, or she’d be spending most of her waking hours just doing that—her site’s very popular) but a couple hours later I received a personal message from someone who’d seen my comment—and then another, and another.  

Hmm… there’s some pretty nice people out there.   I later go on my own blog, click on the Visitors Map to see if anyone’s been there since morning and—what the—I’d gotten 29 visits in the space of a couple hours??

(What I soon discovered is that Ronni isn’t your typical blogger; she’s a professional writer, a world traveler & was Barbara Walters’ long-time producer.  My comment on her site had included a link to my own blog as well.)

I also received a few very nice comments on some of my own recent posts, from like-minded blggers.  When I visited their sites, I was surprised to find just what I’d been looking for—some warm, personal (and often funny) blogs.  The New Sixty, Cranky Old Man, Musings, Rants & Scribbles… written by older folks, and blogging the type of stuff I enjoy and appreciate most.

I was also surprised to discover a couple of them had chosen to ‘follow’ me.  For real?  They weren’t just one-time visitors?  I pulled my “Followers” gadget out of mothballs and plunked it in the upper mid-right of my blog’s sidebar.   Sigh, only 15 followers… a fraction of what these other bloggers have.   I wish I had more followers… why?  Why is that suddenly so important to me?   I emailed my sister:  “Do you have a gmail account?”  She said yes.  I said “Would you please click the Follow button on my teepee?  If you’re not a blogger it’s not going to send you alerts or anything, but it will allow you to leave comments on my posts without jumping thru any security hoops… and will help me feel a little less embarrassed about having only 15 followers.”

Hooray, 16 followers!   After 13 years, I’m starting to feel like a real blogger.  Smile

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Ten dippy things you may or may not know about my teepee (my personal blog)

Way back in 2005, when I belonged to a message board devoted to comics, sci-fi & other nerdboy interests (to this day I believe that forum was the inspiration behind The Big Bang Theory), I would often share stories about my friends, family & coworkers. 

Then one day, Ross S. (one of the members and someone I considered a friend as we talked outside of the boards) said “Doug you should start a personal blog.” 

I replied “What in the world would I blog about?” 

While I definitely had a bigger audience on that forum than I do here, I’ve very much enjoyed having this corner of the internet to share my life.  (Sometimes I like to imagine someone nice will come along, read some of my nonsense and ask where I’ve been all their life.)  The truth is, I rarely hear from anyone anymore and can’t help but wonder if it’s time I wrapped this blogging thing up.  

Anyway, just for the halibut, I thought I’d share a few dorky tidbits about my so-called teepee.  Here we go:

1.  ApacheDug’s Teepee did not exactly start out as a blog. 

I began ApacheDug’s Teepee in November 2006 on another platform, MSN Spaces.  Here’s how my teepee looked then:

orig_tee (2)

This was before Facebook, and was only meant to be a place to display photos, a list of personal interests, book & movie reviews.  (An MSN version of MySpace… remember that?) 

A couple weeks into it, I thought of my friend Ross’ suggestion and added a “Doug’s Journal” module.   I haven’t shut up since.

Three years later, in the summer of 2009, I began hearing rumors of MSN Space’s demise and decided to migrate my written content to Blogger. 

(Oh and for the record, I’d just gotten those 3 framed art pieces pictured above & was trying to decide which wall to hang them on!)

2.  It was almost titled “ApacheDug’s Wiki”.  When I first set my page up and alerted family & friends to begin visiting regularly or else, my (Native American) friend Todd Tamanend said “Doug!  Apaches didn’t live in teepees, they lived in wikis!  More precisely, wikiups—or wigwams!”   I came close to changing it, until I did a little investigating and learned Apaches settled in wikiups (a more permanent structure) but still used teepees too. 

(Hmm…. I rather like the idea of ApacheDug’s Wiki now.  Maybe I should’ve listened to Todd.)

3.  The title is clickable.   Awhile back, someone said I needed a “Home” button on my blog to return to the main page.  There IS a Home link, in the sidebar on the top right, directly under Pages on the Teepee.


But all you have to do is move your mouse (or finger on a touch-screen) to the title at the top of my blog.  If you’re not on the main page, clicking on the title will always take you there.

4.  I have no control over which posts appear in the “Popular Posts” column on the right side of my blog.  Well, more like next-to-no control.  I can set the number of posts it displays (up to 10).  I can specify it to show visited posts in the last 7 days, 30 days or all-time popular posts.  But I can’t choose what posts appear there.

I wish I could make it display my own favorites… I’ve got some oldies but goodies out there!  (Do people still use that phrase, “oldies but goodies”?  I’m showing my age…) 

5.  My Visitors Map (supplied by MapLoco) is loco, alright.  While it IS good at tracking visits to my blog, I’m never sure where they’re from exactly.  When someone from back home (Waynesburg, PA) comes here, their location is shown as somewhere in Ohio. 

Is Waynesburg too small-fry for you, MapLoco??

6.  My 2 most visited posts (click on either to see what all the fuss is about).  I’m guessing they come up in Google searches because the titles contain people’s names (like Paul Shannon, who was a local celebrity in the 1960s). 

I should add more uncommon names to my post titles.  

vp1  vp2

7.  The only reason I have a ‘Movies in the Teepee’ page is because of my sister Shawn.  She’s always been very appreciative of those mini-reviews, but I think she’s the only person who reads them.

So don’t be surprised if that Movie page disappears in the not-too-distant future…

8.  I’ve published 368 posts to date:  this one is my favorite.   I made myself laugh while typing it (I swear every word is true) but a couple weeks after posting, my cousin Amy in Florida wrote & told me she read it over the phone to her dad (my Uncle Mike) and it made him cry laughing.  

It doesn’t get any better than that!  (Click on the image to visit this post.)


9.  There’s a “hidden page” containing my dad’s (and his brothers) music recordings from the 1960s-1970s.   You can only get to it from this post (by clicking on one of the 45 records).


10.  If you’re reading a post on the same date as the date shown at the top, you’re probably reading a poorer version of the post.   I always proofread my posts several times before I post them online.  (Checking for typos, run-on sentences & the like.) 

But for some reason, any poor writing doesn’t stand out to me until the day AFTER I publish it.  Then I frantically go online and edit half the darn thing!

So if the date at the top of the blog matches the date you’re reading it… trust me, it will be better tomorrow!


Saturday, October 12, 2019

The view from my kitchen window, people below and across, and other junk

This is the view from my kitchen window—from one angle.  If I stand at the center or center-right of my sink, I have a lovely view of California Avenue, Avalon’s “Main Street”.  It’s lined with tall trees and nice homes. 

When I get up in the morning I like to wash my face & brush my teeth, turn on my tv to ‘Morning Joe’ as I stumble thru the livingroom on my way to the kitchen.  And while Joe Scarborough & Mika rail about Trump’s latest in the other room, I slide open that window above my sink and enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the going-ons below.

I see joggers, male & female both.  There’s people walking their dogs (more like finding a spot for them to do their business), and even a couple moms with their baby strollers, getting some morning sun while the weather’s still warm. 

I think my favorite ones to watch are the sprinters, the people making a dash for the bus stop to get to their jobs downtown.  I was one of those sprinters once… I suppose watching them is a nice reminder I’m no longer on that hamster wheel.  Sometimes I miss it.

Early morning is definitely my favorite part of the day.

ANYWAY—from my kitchen’s entrance (the far left of this window), I can see my neighbor’s window at Chaize Place, the condo building next door (which is set back from the street a bit more than my own apartment building).

A few days ago I noticed that window had it’s vertical blinds open.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen those blinds pulled back.  When I moved into this apartment in April 2017, an older gent used to park himself at that window.  We never made eye contact, for all I know he was looking at the person who lives below me.  But he was always at that window.

Then 7-8 months ago he disappeared.  His window went dark, and someone pulled his blinds shut.  They haven’t been opened since.  Until now.  Someone has moved in.

kit-entrance_thumb11So yesterday morning, as I’m making my trek for coffee and I’m at the entrance to my kitchen, I see a woman (around my age) fiddling with a potted plant on her windowsill.  She looked up & saw me.

I’m at the perfect angle for her to see me head to toe—and all I’m wearing is the t-shirt and underwear I slept in.

Sorry lady!  I don’t get dressed until after I shower—and I don’t shower until after I have my morning cup of coffee

She didn’t hear my brain’s apology though, and just stood there.  I slunk into my kitchen the rest of the way and got my cuppa joe. 

Later on, I worried about it some—could she call the cops and report me for indecent exposure?  In my own apartment?  

It’s not like I was standing in my sink & giving her a “Magic Mike” routine.  And for the record, I was wearing boxers not briefs.  Okay they were boxer briefs, but that’s plenty of coverage.  Am I over-thinking this? 

I later googled the law and read this:

“So, if you were walking around your house nude and someone else sees you through the windows, could you be convicted of this crime?  It depends. Your intent is very important in cases involving lewd acts in public. If you forgot the curtains were open and your neighbor saw you naked, you are not likely to be convicted of any crime because you did not intend to expose yourself to them and your act involved no sexual gratification.”

Ah, okay.  Well, my only gratification in the mornings is coffee!  So I decided not to worry about it anymore, and go about my day.  I drink my coffee, watch some news, look at my computer, make a small list of stuff I need from the store, shower, head out (whew it’s hot), come back, put said stuff away, go into my bedroom to change into something I can flop around in, undress, but I’m a bit damp from the walk to the store so I head into my kitchen to grab a paper towel to pat myself dry…

And that lady across the way is back in her window again (replacing her potted plant with a little cactus) and looks up to see me in my kitchen’s doorway again—this time without pants OR a shirt.  Howdy neighbor, you’re just in time for the afternoon show!

I try to look embarrassed, grab a couple paper towels and head back into my bedroom.  Fully dressed now in my baggy lounge wear, I go back into my kitchen for a glass of iced tea (and to show this woman what I look like with clothes on). 

The only thing looking back at me is her cactus.  Lady, welcome to the neighborhood.  But I think you’re going to need a bigger plant.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

It’s Tuesday, it’s chilly outside… just another day of living with this personal tug-o-war

It’s driving me crazy; I watched this video the other night of a beautiful woman slamming some guy, and at the end she “cricks” her head from side to side, making some pretty loud cracking sounds, all while smiling at the camera.   I can’t remember what it was.

(Darn it, I even saw it twice—was it a commercial?  I watch too much Youtube!)

I was reminded of it this morning when I awoke and sat up in bed, and heard the same “craaaaack” in the side of my face while stifling a yawn.  Good morning, TMD— could you let me know how long you plan on staying?

It’s an annoying, scary sound—I’m not even sure what it is.  The oral surgeon I saw recently told me it could be broken cartilage in my jaw’s joints or the breakdown of calcified muscle fibers (from the muscles surrounding my joints being in spasm for the last year). 

A couple weeks ago (against the advice of several other TMJ sufferers) I made an appointment with an oral surgeon in my neighborhood who shares a practice with his mother, a dentist.  I wanted to see about getting an arthrocentesis done on my TMJ.  They inject 2 long needles into your jaw’s joint, the first needle fills the joint with saline (and possibly an anti-inflammatory solution), while the other simulatenously rinses out tiny, broken pieces of cartilage and trapped fluid causing the inflammation. 

Repeat on the other side.  Don't tell anyone smile

It’s considered the least-invasive surgical procedure on your jaw, but doesn’t exactly come with a guarantee.  It’s estimated that it reduces pain in roughly 25% of people who have it done.  (For 50% it does nothing, and for the remaining 25% it can make things worse.)   Not exactly great odds—and I’ve read accounts from others who had it done, some good, most indifferent, some bad.

The surgeon listened to my joints as I opened & closed my mouth, and pulled my head to the left & right.  He did hear some crunching sounds, but said they weren’t consistent and didn’t think the procedure would help my own disorder.  From what he could tell, my TMJ issues are largely muscular, with a pulled ligament on the right side.

The muscles on the left try to overcompensate, and it LITERALLY becomes a tug-of-war in your face on a daily basis, as both sides try to level the playing field.  

He was willing to do the procedure if I insisted on it, for $750.00 (per joint).  He also said it would probably put me out of commission for a month.  Doc…  I’ve been out of commission since last December!   Still, I thanked & paid him for the examination and left.

When I got home, several TMJ members were quick to ask how the consult went, and one medical professional onsite reminded me that “even the least invasive procedure is STILL invasive and should be avoided if at all possible.”  I think I need to keep telling myself that.

The very next day, someone sent me a link to an article posted by the AMA (American Medical Association) in conjunction with the ADA (Dental) that was just published this summer, that said 2 out of 3 people who develop a TMJ disorder will suffer with the condition for 6 months or more.   This is finally being known now?

Another person sent me a link to “My 5 year battle with TMD”, a woman’s personal account of what she went through and the $15,000 she wasted on ineffective treatments.  Her first sentence hit too close to home.  “This began in 2010 with a trip to the dentist to repair a single cracked filling…”   Mine began in 2016, much the same way.  

This is from the TMJ website:  my 7 month bout in 2016 (and my current one) HAVE to be because of the reasons I highlighted in red below:

What Causes TMD?

Some known causes are the following:

  • autoimmune diseases (in which the body's immune cells attack healthy tissue)
  • infections
  • injuries to the jaw area
  • dental procedures (even prolonged mouth opening)
  • insertion of a breathing tube before surgery
  • various forms of arthritis

I’m just surprised how different mine is from the first time I had it.  Still the same dull, steady burning sensation in my face, but I wake up some mornings feeling like my head is in a vise (both temples feel pushed in) or my neck feels like it’s a rope being pulled at from two opposite directions. 

thermophoreI recently got this “moist heat” heating pad from Thermophore, cost $40.00.  It does provide some relief, sometimes— but you have to hold the button down while you use it (so it doesn’t burn your face off if you fall asleep with it on!)

I’m sorry for sharing all this, I just need to vent.  But I HAVE been getting some glimmers of hope—an hour or two every several days where things calm down for awhile.  Every time—EVERYTIME—I tell myself “Oh it’s getting better now!  Well, it’s about time as it’s been a crazy 10 months” and then it starts back up again…  it’s a very defeating feeling.

One woman (Marion) wrote “Those good moments can be fleeting, but you gotta believe they’ll come more frequently as time goes on, and gradually become your norm.”

Gotta keep on believing.


Saturday, October 5, 2019

My niece Sophia & her date Jud: For everything there is a first time

I wanted to wait & share these pics next weekend (so I could also wish my lovely niece Sophia here a Happy 15th birthday), but it’s already been a week so…

Last Saturday was Sophia’s first high school formal, and here she is with her date Jud.  From what I hear, he sounds like a pretty fine young man.  My sister Shawn (Soph’s mom) told me that she was already discussing wedding plans with his mom!  

Relax Shawn, people know you were joking!  (More like half-joking…)  Smile 

During the dance, I called my sister & we talked for nearly 3 hours about our own memories at Sophia’s age, and frankly how little things have changed since then.  If anything, it seems kids today are more responsible, more respectful towards one another.  

(And thanks to Sophia’s iphone, my sister was pretty much kept in the loop the entire evening.)

Anyway, not much to say here; just thought I’d share a couple photos of this sweet couple and was happy to hear Sophia had a nice time.