Twenty Twenty Too

This pretty much sums up my thoughts on the impending new year.

I am glad to see 2021 draw to a close. It’s been a shit year. An extended pandemic, the optimism of a vaxxed-and-waxed spring fading into a grim, variant-dominating autumn and winter of uncertainty. Then on a personal level, losing Molly, which was much harder than I ever thought it would be, and perpetually sick dogs in general, plus other shit I won’t bore anyone with. It’s all left me feeling very tired.

While 2021 can’t fuck off fast enough, it’s important to acknowledge the bright spots that managed to shine through the gloom. Nearly 8.5 billion Covid-19 vaccines were administered globally. I got to see family and friends again. I got published. And providing a timely and much-needed shot of serotonin, this belated Christmas gift arrived in the mail today.

It’s supposed to be a Christmas tree topper, but I suspect it will remain out somewhere in our house all year round.

I am under no illusion that 2022 will be easier. Too many variables, too many unknowns for that. But no matter how tired I may be, I remain optimistic that 2022 will be better than the year that preceded it. I don’t know how not to be optimistic, frankly. Not being optimistic means letting despair win, and I am too stubborn to let that happen. Pessimism will find no sanctuary here.

Instead, I am clubbing my optimism over the head, shoving it into an unmarked white van, and stealing away with it into the night, while fires rage, blue and red lights strobe, and sirens blare in our wake.

So let’s give 2021 the middle finger as we cross the finish line. We might be limping, might be bloodied and dragging one leg behind us, but the important thing is… we made it. And that’s not nothing.

See you on the other side.

Merry Christmas

Hope you and yours are having the happiest of Christmases.

It’s Friday, Friday

At my team’s holiday party today — virtual, of course — we held a white elephant exchange, and one lucky colleague walked away with this magnificent coffee mug.

11oz Coffee Cup Ceramic Novelty Magic Nicolas Cage Creepy Face Meme Funny Geek Nerd Color Changing Nicolas Cage Fan Gift Nic Cage Secret Santa Creepy Gift Present Cup 1pc 11oz Funny Present
I always enjoyed Nic Cage in FACE/OFF.

After the party wrapped, we let everyone have the afternoon off. Now I am indulging in a caramel-pecan sticky bun and Great Lakes Christmas Ale, and watching the new season of THE WITCHER, a show whose plot is incomprehensible to me but which I enjoy nonetheless. (Seriously, I can never keep the characters straight or tell when in the timeline a specific storyline is taking place. Even with the aid of wikipedia I can barely follow along.)

Anyhow… Happy Friday, sinners.

Do Shit That Makes You Happy

The weather has been so weird this weekend, so very un-December like. Warm and windy. So much wind. Raining like it was spring. Today I worked outside in a t-shirt, cleaning up the pile of broken glass that was, until Saturday morning, the top pane of our storm door, which smacked against the side of the front porch and shattered due to the aforementioned wind.

We took Friday off work to have a spa day.  A simple enough sentence to write, but something we’d been trying to make happen since seemingly forever.  Because of dog health stuff we’ve had to reschedule a couple of times this year.  I’ve actually had a gift card that Jess got me for Christmas 2019 and which I’ve never had a chance to use (for obvious reasons).  It wasn’t until we were in the car heading to the spa that I said out loud, “Hey, I think we’re actually going to do this.”  And we did: massages, facials, and pedicures.  It was expensive and amazing, and totally worth it.

When the pedicurist began working on me, she asked me, in a joking/challenging tone, did I want color?  I said sure, let’s go with black.  She suggested a different color.  Our compromise was High Waisted Jeans.

If you like these feet, my venmo is $thatjoshbales
If you like these feet, my venmo is $thatjoshbales.

I also had four cranberry mimosas in between services, and felt like a million bucks by the time we left.

Then yesterday I went to a belated Friendsgiving, delayed because of illness and — surprise, surprise — dog health stuff.  I saw people I hadn’t seen since early summer, ate delicious food, drank too much the perfect amount of red wine, and laughed more than I have a while.  It was a loud, magnificent time and so very much needed.

This was the most active weekend I’ve had in months, and it felt so good to be out in the world, amongst people.  I would say one of my goals for 2022 is to do more of it, more being out in the world, but it feels more urgent to me than just a goal — more of an exigency.  A thing I must do, for so many reasons but mostly because it will make me happy, and in 2022 “do shit that will make me happy” will be a top priority of mine.

A Study in Sleep

I had an in-person sleep study done last night, for the usual reasons. Even with a hundred sensors affixed to my head with “slime,” as the respiratory nurse affectionately called the adhesive substance, I still somehow managed to look amazing.

A sleep study is an interesting process to undergo, albeit one I’m not in a hurry to experience again. A hospital-like room in the basement of a hospital, a barebones bed, twenty minutes of getting shit stuck all over your body, someone watching you on black-and-white video all night long, and an absurdly early bedtime.

Despite all that, I’m pretty sure I didn’t move at all from when lights went out at 2100 til the nurse woke me up at 0500. I woke up feeling oddly refreshed and was waiting in the Starbucks parking lot when they opened at 0530.

Homeward Bound

This is what two humans and two senior dogs traveling for 11 days looks like: 3D Tetris.

Lake Plastic

The sky was clear this morning; the temperature cool but the wind mild. We walked into town to get breakfast so I could eat my weight in French toast. Afterwards, we “hiked” the two-and-a-half mile “trail” around Mirror Lake. The quotes are because the trail is really just a sidewalk that rings around ugly, rich people houses on the lake’s edge.

We’re staying at a house in Lake Placid — or, as my phone keeps helpfully suggesting, Lake Plastic — a ten minute walk away from downtown. Been here about five days now. We drove up late last week, stopping in Syracuse the first night. The next morning we took the boys out in their wagon and strolled around Syracuse University.

Yes, we have become people who cart our dogs around in a wagon. At 18-going-on-19, Fozzie gets worn out pretty quickly, and Kirby is partially blind, so long-distance walks can be a bit fraught. As such, a couple of weeks ago we bought a fold-up wagon. The boys have thus far enjoyed their new mode of transport — it lets them look at all the things and also be admired and petted by strangers. It’s a good arrangement for all involved parties.

two very good boys

We’ve spent several days hiking and generally bumming around in the Adirondacks. The leaves are changing colors, which has made for some pretty spectacular views. An interesting fact about the Adirondacks is that I am physically incapable of saying “Adirondacks” correctly. My brain keeps telling my mouth to pronounce it “A-dear-run-dax,” even though I know it’s wrong as soon as the mangled word escapes my lips.

We made one brief foray out of the area, on Sunday. Kirby was having some neck pain and, given his medical history, we were concerned it might be an issue with his spine. We called around and found an emergency vet in Burlington, Vermont, two hours away, who could see him. Turns out the pain in Kirby’s neck is muscle-related, which can be treated with pain meds and crating when we aren’t here, which Kirby just loooves. So now Kirby just remains the pain in my neck (har-har). While in Burlington, we also snagged some killer sandwiches from the Henry Street Deli.

As small villages go, I like Lake Placid a lot. Plenty of coffee shops and restaurants, a chill vibe, a cute indie movie theater, and proximity enough to the mountains to go do outdoor stuff. We’re here for a couple more days and will definitely be back in the future.

two ridiculously good-looking people

A Dinnertime Tale

Me: [sets down a bowl of food in front of Fozzie]

Fozzie: I’m not eating this

Me: [accidentally kicks over the bowl of food all over the goddamn floor]

Fozzie: ok now I’ll eat it [begins eating]


Last weekend I had the opportunity to see STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME — aka, THE ONE WITH THE WHALES — on the big screen as part of a limited release for its 35th anniversary.

Although I am a TNG man through and through, I prefer the Original Series movies over the TNG movies. They have more of a timeless quality to them, even though they’re older than the TNG movies, and feel less dated. I used to rent them on VHS from the library, back when that was a thing. I’ve probably seen each at least five or six times. THE VOYAGE HOME was always the fun one, especially after the seriousness of WRATH OF KHAN and SEARCH FOR SPOCK.

It was also a chance to meet up with my old comrade Nate for the first time since last autumn. We grabbed dinner at Arby’s, where they were out of both Arby’s sauce and ice. It was fine. We were too busy catching up to really care.

I tried to take a picture of the title during the opening credits but was too slow on the draw. So instead, here’s a shot of the star field that immediately followed the title.

Happy Gotcha Day, Fozzie!

Yesterday was Fozzie’s Gotcha Day. Jess acquired him 14 years ago. To celebrate, we took him to water treadmill therapy! And I made a tiktok of it, like the yutes do. Fozzie was less than enthused.


Fozzie on the water treadmill again, and not happy about it

♬ original sound – josh bales

In other Fozzie news, he is doing much better, and is mostly back to his old happy, flouncing-around-the-yard self. The water treadmill should hopefully help him with his slight hobble. Pretty impressive for an elder dog of 17 to 19 years.