A Happy 16th Anniversary to my wonderful wife.

It’s hard to believe, but 16 years ago today we stood together with our immediate families and exchanged vows in a gazebo in a public park in Plymouth, MI.

Picture of Anne and Les exchanging vows.

That one moment I’ll always remember.

The day started out cloudy with some drizzle, but by the time the short ceremony was finished the sun had broken out. The same was true of our marriage. The early years had some stormy parts as we figured out how to become a family and the challenges that entails, but the sun always returned.

Anne, you have made me a better man, a better father, and a better person than I would’ve been without you. I love you so very much and I look forward to the next 17 years and beyond.

Wishing my mother a Happy 82nd Birthday!

My mother, whom you can find over on her blog Momma’s Corner, has reached another milestone. Today she turns 82 years old and is looking pretty good while doing it.

Here’s a pic of her from this past Christmas Eve. Click to embiggen.

Mom had an eventful year in 2016 as she finally managed to sell the house in Otisville and moved in with my sister in Pontiac just across the street from the house my siblings and I grew up in. She’s since been keeping busy with her projects, feeding the zoo, and updating her blog at a pace that, frankly, puts me to shame. She even got an entry up marking this special occasion where you can leave your congratulations if you’re so inclined. As for me, I’ll be seeing her on Saturday when we gather to do the food and cake thing as is traditional.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy 15th Anniversary to the love of my life!

On April 21st, 2001 I said “I do” to my best friend and love of my life, Annette Gribble.

Wedding picture.

The start of the journey.

Fifteen years later and we’re still making it work. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve made it this far.

I wish I could come up with something profound to say about marriage after this much time, but the truth is I’m still figuring it out as I go along. All I can say for certain is I love my wife more each day than the day before and I’m grateful she chose me to spend her life with.

Happy 15th Anniversary, sweetheart! Here’s hoping for many more to come!

My dad passed away one year ago yesterday.

I was going to write something about this yesterday, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. I’m still not sure what I’ll say about it today. It took me a couple of days before I managed to write an entry about his death when it happened last year. I miss him and I think about him pretty often, but that’s probably not a surprise to anyone.

Reflecting back on it now it occurs to me that I’m entering that stage of life where losing people close to me is going to happen more frequently. My father-in-law passed two years ago — it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long — all of my uncles on my mother’s side have been gone for years, my grandparents have been gone for over a decade, good friends of mine have left the world sooner than they should have, and now it’s been a year since my dad died. Some of those deaths were unexpected, but the last couple haven’t been.

I’m not sure how to feel about that. My reactions are mixed between the emotional and selfish side that wants to hold onto loved ones for as long as possible and the logical, rational side that says this is a part of life that shouldn’t come as a surprise. I guess the best that I can do is to appreciate the good times we had and that I continue to have with those still here. If your dad is still around today give him a hug for me. I bet he’ll appreciate it.


My father has passed away.

Albert Axsom — Jay to his friends and family — died in the early morning hours on Monday, July 21st, 2014. He was 73 years old and his 40th wedding anniversary to my mother was just the day before he passed. The cause was complications from a blood clot in his arm that had broken up and migrated to his lungs. He was on life support and my family made the decision to wean him off of it and let him pass peacefully. I was present and a part of that decision. It’s a decision I’ve been thinking about ever since. I’m still convinced it was the right thing to do, but it still bothers me. It’s part of why it’s taken me several days to write this entry.

Jay was not my biological father, but you’d never have known just by observing us. He took on three kids that weren’t his own when he married my mother and always treated us as though we were blood relatives. He was the only father my sister ever knew as our biological father had died when she was only a couple months old. He did his best in trying to raise us and he took pride in us as only a true father can.  He was a voracious reader of books until his eyesight deteriorated too much from diabetes to see the words on the page. He loved to cook and always had a new kitchen gadget to show you or recipe to try when you came to visit. He and my mother spent their summers making jam and preserves which they gave away to just about everyone they met. His cabbage relish is still one of the very few ways I’ll ever eat cabbage.  He was one of the most friendly people I’ve ever known and was able to strike up a conversation with people he’d just met as though he’d known them all his life. He wasn’t always easy to get along with — no one is — but you never doubted that he loved you.

Dad’s passing isn’t entirely unexpected as he has been suffering the effects of his diabetes for many years. Near the end he was having trouble seeing his computer screen and had taken to just listening to recipe videos on YouTube. He had to get around using a walker and was almost always tied to a portable oxygen tank. Trips to a clinic for dialysis had long been a routine for him. All of that is over for him now. He was as good a father as anyone could have hoped for and I am going to miss him terribly in the days and years to come.

Happy day before Christmas!

When I was a kid this was the longest day of the year. The promise the next morning held was enough to make one hold his or her breath in anticipation. My whole body tingled with excitement… or perhaps it was one too many bowls of sugary cereal. Memories can be fuzzy.

The site of the tree with all the wrapped presents made me giddy, which only got worse when thoughts of the additional packages that would appear the next morning after Santa had dropped by. There was also a little anxiety once I was old enough to start picking out gifts for my brother and sister and parents. Would they like what I had gotten for them? This was in the days before Amazon wish lists. The closest analog we had was the annual Sears Christmas Wish Book catalog. Here’s one from 1977 when I was 10 years old. I spent hours digging through it and circling the items I desperately wanted.

I think 1977 was the year we got the Sears Video Arcade System, which was a rebranded Atari 2600 that Sears sold. Another year my dad bought us kids Pachinko machines and I have no idea why. I had never heard of these Japanese spins on pinball machines until that Christmas morning, but we played the hell out of them anyway. Considering that none of the electronics of the machines were intact the fact that they still worked was pretty impressive. Then there was the year I got my ultimate Christmas wish: A minibike. I never thought in a million years it would actually happen, but there it was standing next to the tree one Christmas morning.

These days the excitement level is much lower, but we’re a lot busier. We’re all grown and have extended families of one sort or another so there’s a lot more travel. Today will be spent at my parent’s house where we will have a nice Christmas Eve dinner and exchange gifts with my family members. This tradition has been going on since us kids became adults. It’s one of the few — if not the only — times of the year that all three of us kids are together in the same place with my folks. My nephew, who has just become a Navy medic, will be there this year with his fiance. Also present will be my niece, who is an amazing photographer that I’m hoping to be able to afford to hire someday for some nice pics of myself because I’m a narcissist. My daughter Courtney will arrive with us. It’s one of the few years that all the grandkids will be present in quite some time. Budgets being tight there will be far fewer gifts exchanged, but there’s still some of that old tingle as I look forward to seeing family I’ve not seen in awhile.

I can be a pretty materialistic guy, but I’ve been trying to move away from that as I’ve grown older. My siblings and I aren’t particularly close (literally or figuratively) so I tend to look forward to the few times we do manage to get together. Christmas still holds a lot of magic for me, just a different kind these days. I think that’s a good thing.

A small update on my whereabouts.

keep-calm-and-fuck-cancer-15I’ve not posted anything in over a week and I apologize for that, but I have a good excuse. I was waiting, along with the rest of my wife’s family, for the inevitable to happen. Last Thursday my father-in-law lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

This is the third time in my life that I’ve watched a family member slowly subcomb to the insidiously slow death that cancer brings with it. The first time was when my biological father died of it 40 years ago when I was five years old. He was only 55 at the time. I wasn’t old enough to really understand what was happening, but that didn’t stop the experience from leaving me a little emotionally messed up for awhile.

The second time was my grandfather back in my 20’s. He at least made it into his 70’s before passing. I wasn’t there for the bitter end and, because of other obligations, only saw him a few times over the months that he suffered from the disease.

My father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer almost 10 months ago and he lived a lot longer than his doctors expected him to. I, along with my wife and her family, were at his bedside at the end though I suspect he had vacated well before that point arrived. He didn’t look like the man who had welcomed me into his family with open arms despite the fact that I’m an independent Liberal atheist and he was a moderate Republican episcopal. He was literally a shell that was holding onto life for as long as it could manage even as various parts of his system were failing. It was not an easy thing to experience, but then that’s something that far too many people are familiar with. Then the situation was compounded by learning shortly after his death — while viewing and funeral arrangements were being made — that the wife of a longtime friend of mine had passed away from cancer on Saturday.

Lets just say that it wasn’t a good weekend. Needless to say, I’ve not had much inspiration to write anything during this time. Though I intend to try and get back into writing more often in the near future. It seems I’ve been coming across things that I want to blog about more often as of late so I’ll try to actually get around to doing so.

That’s what I’ve been up to. What about you guys?

Saying goodbye to an old friend.

A happy Melvin from 2009.

It is with a very heavy heart that I announce that Melvin, the Official SEB Cat, has passed away. Melvin came to live with us 8 years ago on my birthday — August 25th, 2004 — and he was the best birthday gift I could have hoped for. We got him from my sister, who had taken him in after he was mauled by a dog. She spent the money at the vet to get him patched up, but already had her own collection of cats and a dog and really couldn’t afford to take on another one. So she called us and we said yes.

He was never much of a lap cat, I can only think of a handful of occasions he ever got into my lap and almost never into anyone else’s, but he did like to be near people. He would sit on the arm of the chair or couch so you could pet him and often he would come up and tap you on the shoulder to get you to follow him to his food dish so he could be petted while he ate. He become an indoor only cat for most of his time with us, something he wasn’t always happy with, but he made the best of it. He moved with us four times over the years and always managed to turn the new place into home.

A pic taken just under a year ago of Melvin hanging out on our computer desk.

Over the last 6 months he had lost a lot of weight dropping nearly 5 pounds and then over this past weekend he took a sudden turn for the worse. He was lethargic and having trouble focusing, dehydrated, not eating, and having trouble using the litter box. A trip to the animal hospital Sunday became a transfer to our regular vet on Monday to the news today that he wasn’t improving despite intravenous fluids and other treatments. He was uncomfortable and tests pointed to a likely cause being pancreatic cancer.

So today Anne and I went to the vet’s office immediately after work where we spent a little time with Melvin to say goodbye. He was conscious, but still unfocused and was obviously uncomfortable despite being on pain medication. The doc came in and administered the drugs that would put him to sleep for the final time. It was stunningly fast. Literally a matter of moments. He licked his lips two or three times as if he was tasting something and then he was still.

Melvin is not the first pet I’ve had to let go, but he is the first one I was there for when the time came. It was a heartbreaking thing to do, but I knew it was the best thing for him. Any other decision I could have made would’ve just prolonged the inevitable and made him suffer unnecessarily. He had a pretty good run at 14 years of age and trying to coax anything more from him would’ve been selfish. I know all of this and yet it doesn’t make me feel any better.

Goodbye old friend. You will be deeply missed.

My wife and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.

Ten years ago today I married the most wonderful woman I have ever known:

Wedding picture.

The start of the journey.

It wasn’t a huge wedding, just immediate family and a Justice of the Peace, and there wasn’t a huge reception, but it was still one of the greatest days of my life. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing and we came close to smashing on the rocks more than once, but we’ve always managed to work it out and we’re still going strong. No small feat in this day and age.

I had hoped to be in a position to take her away to someplace nice, like Hawaii, but I’ve still not figured out that whole how-to-get-moderately-wealthy thing yet and the funds just weren’t there for it. So instead we’ll be celebrating in our apartment this evening. Anne has been busy putting something special together so it’s not like we aren’t splurging a little for the day. It’s kind of appropriate given our humble start, though I’m hoping to be a little less humble for our 20th.

Anne, I am so happy and proud to be your husband. Here’s to many more great years to come.

Episode 3 of the SEB Podcast is now online!

A pic of a microphone.After listening through the whole thing and doing a couple of minor edits here and there, this episode has been uploaded to the server and is ready for listeners. Despite a distinct lack of topics this time out we still managed to talk for a grand total of 2 hours and not-quite 12 minutes. We discuss The Last Airbender, which ***Dave recently saw, and the steadily declining film making abilities of M. Night Shyamalan, we ask Momma how I turned out the way that I did, we discuss some of our earliest memories and whether or not we’re remembering them directly or what we’ve been told about those events, there’s some talk about family and my mother’s religious outlook including why she thinks there isn’t an afterlife.

All in all for not having much to talk about we sure spent a lot of time talking about it. We had a great time and we hope you enjoy listening to the end result. The total file size, surprisingly enough, was still smaller than the first episode coming in at around 50.9MB in size. You can either listen to it right here in this post using the Flash player below or you can download it by clicking here.

As always I welcome your feedback in the comments.