Still Here...

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Hello all. It's been a long time. There's been a lot going on, so let me get right to it. 

Most important is my nephew C's health. He was back in the hospital yet again, I'm afraid. He has been seriously ill for over a year and a half, and the latest complications put him back in the hospital for nearly three weeks. I won't go into specifics, but he has had a very, very difficult time. His new team of doctors are excellent; the problem has been getting him healthy for a long enough period so that his system can fully recover. He's only 25, and it's absolutely heartbreaking to see him suffer like this. I would switch places in a heartbeat if I could.

The good news - and there is good news, fortunately - is that his doctors know what has been causing this. He is feeling better the past few days, and got out of the hospital yesterday. Without going into specifics, he will need home care for several months, which they believe will, finally, get him past all of this once and for all. My nephew has been a trouper through all of this; he is my hero, in no uncertain terms. I know he will get past this. Please keep him, and my sister, in your thoughts.


On to other matters. Work has been insanely, exhaustingly busy for months now, with no letup in sight. It has been absolutely grueling. I could say more, but for now I will leave it at that. Perhaps there will be more to say at some point relatively soon.

The last time I wrote I was recovering from three broken ribs, which I'd injured just before Christmas while out walking. Hard as it may seem to believe (although not for anyone who knows me), I managed to break the same three ribs *again* in early February when I slipped on black ice in my driveway. It could have been much worse; I also whacked my head on the railing, but managed to escape with only a nasty headache for a few days.

Speaking of hard to believe, I put myself on the disable list yet again just a few weeks ago, this time while visiting my dear friends A & B in Canada. We stopped for gas, and I was trying to get out of A's full-size SUV to pay. My feet got tangled in my pocketbook, and I fell - hard - onto the ground. Again, it could have been much more serious, but I escaped with a deep bruise to my right knee and some scrapes on my hands. 

Even for a klutz like me this is quite the run of incidents. The worst part has been my inability to do pretty much any exercise for months on end. Even before Christmas I'd been extremely busy with both work and a personal project that was enormously time-consuming. Exercise is my great stress reducer, so having to go without for month after month while under a great deal of stress has been very difficult. My ribs are healed, and my knee is on the mend. If I can manage to stay injury-free, I hope to start running and exercising again in another week or so. It is badly, badly needed, for both my physical and emotional well-being.

I've been in a rut for a long time - really, since my surgery in September 2017. There are a number of reasons why, mostly beyond my control. That being said, I know I need to do something - anything - to move forward. I have a birthday very soon, and it's reminded me that I have been in limbo for far too long. Again, hopefully I can elaborate in a future post, but for now suffice it so say that I am more than ready to move to the next phase of my journey - long overdue, in fact. Fingers crossed that I'm able to do so in short order.


I'll end with some music. I had the great pleasure of finally attending a concert by one of the last performers on my must-see list: Gordon Lightfoot. I saw him in Parry Sound, Ontario (Bobby Orr's hometown, for the hockey buffs), at a lovely, intimate theatre. He's 80 years old now, and also had major abdominal surgery about 15 years ago that permanently damaged his voice. But he still has those amazing songs, as well as a superb band that more than did justice to them. It was wonderful to see him. Amazingly, he has a new album coming out later this year - his first since 2004 - and the buzz is that it's excellent. I cannot wait to hear it.

Meanwhile, here are just a few gems from his remarkable songbook. First up is my very favorite song from Mr. Lightfoot - "Early Morning Rain", from a 1972 BBC performance.

Next is the aptly-named "Beautiful," from his 1979 Soundstage performance for PBS:

Arguably his best-known song - "If You Could Read My Mind," from a 1974 performance on The Midnight Special. Such a great, great song:

Next up: his other best-known song - "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," from 1976. Such a haunting, somber song:

And finally, a fitting song for spring - "Summer Side of Life," from one of his best albums, 1971's Don Quixote. This is from the same 1972 BBC broadcast.

I've always loved his vocals on this track; so expressive, and so much emotion. I never get tired of hearing this - or any of his songs, for that matter. There's a reason Bob Dylan consistently cites Lightfoot as one of his favorite songwriters.

Hope you all have a good week. Hope to write more frequently in the weeks to come...

Post-Holiday Update: Taking a Ribbing

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Hello all. I'm trying to post a bit more regularly, mostly to write about something other than software (my day job). Work is crazy right now, so this will be relatively short, and basically just an update.

My nephew, I'm happy to report, is out of the hospital and feeling a bit better every day. He has a long way to go - he's lost a great deal of weight, and needs to focus on regaining his strength - but hopefully he's past the worst of it. Fingers crossed.

I was finally able to give him his Christmas present - an authentic Mookie Betts Red Sox jersey - which he absolutely loved. It was great to see him smiling, as you can imagine. I also gave Mr. C, my sister's dog, his Christmas present as well - a blanket. As you can see, he immediately put it to good use:

He also takes his responsibility to my nephew C as well. Here he is testing the turkey sub that my nephew was eating to verify it was sufficiently nutritious:

To the untrained eye it looks suspiciously like begging, but I am assured that's not the case. ;c)

Joking aside, it's touching to see how protective he is of my nephew. He follows him *everywhere* - when C is tired and wants to go upstairs to rest, he goes right up with him. And he stays right next to him wherever he sits as well. The only exception is 5:30 PM - otherwise known as dinner time. Even C doesn't come between Mr C and his kibble. :D

As for me, my ribs are slowly healing, but it still hurts to... well, move. Sleeping is difficult, as I sleep on my left side, but I've done this before (to the sam three ribs, amazingly enough), so I know the drill. Needless to say I'm not running, and won't be for at least another 3-4 weeks, I suspect. Oh well.

My friends Alice and her husband were in town last week. Work was super-busy, so I didn't get to spend as much time as I'd hoped. However, we did manage to get to watch Boston's NHL (hockey) team play their arch rival, the Montreal Canadiens, on Monday. Alas, evil prevailed and Montreal won in overtime, 3-2, but it was still an exciting game. Hockey is fun to watch on TV, but it's so much better in person. And it was a pleasure to get to attend the game with my Canadian compadres. :c)

That will do it for now on the update front. Hoping to write a bit more about other topics soon, but I'll  need my work schedule to quiet down first. Hope it's soon.


The band Guster formed at Tufts University just outside Boston in the early Nineties. They've put out a number of fine albums, the most recent of which, Look Alive, came out yesterday. They have a unique sound; if you like Crowded House, Fountains of Wayne, Real Estate, or similar bands, I guarantee you'll enjoy Guster. :c)

While only one of the band members still lives in the Boston area, they obviously have a strong attachment to the area, so it's no surprise that they played a mini-set for WGBH-TV's Front Row concert series, at their studio, on album release day. You can check it out here. They sound as good as ever.

I also thought I'd share some older favorites as well. First up is "What You Wish For," the opening track from their 1999 album Lost and Gone Forever (probably my favorite Guster album):

Here they are performing "Barrel of a Gun," also from Lost and Gone Forever, on Conan O'Brien's show (another Boston boy, coincidentally), just before Christmas 1999:

And here are two songs they performed with Daryl Hall, of Hall & Oates fame, on his terrific Web series Live from Daryl's House, which is literally what it is: artists performing with Daryl and his superb band in a recording studio/performance space at his home in Connecticut. It's a terrific series, and well worth checking out. See what I mean below, starting with this performance of "Do You Love Me," from their 2010 album Easy Wonderful:

And last but not least, this is "Satellite," from 2006's Ganging Up On The Sun:

Pretty great, aren't they? Lots more where those came from; have fun checking them out, and definitely see them if they come to your town - they're a lot of fun live. :c)

Here's To What The Future Brings

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year's Eve (or New Year's Day, depending on where you are/when you read this), all. Just wanted to put up a post to say goodbye (or, more accurately, good riddance) to 2018 and hello to what hopefully is a much better year in 2019.

I mentioned in my previous post that my nephew C was not feeling well (to put it mildly) and was seeing a specialist on Christmas Eve. As it turned out, he wound up being admitted to the hospital and, sadly, endured an absolutely hellish week. His new medical team - who have been outstanding - finally, at 2:30 AM on Christmas morning, were able to identify what has been causing his health woes for the past 14+ months - something that eluded his previous doctors. Because he had been so ill for so long before that diagnosis, however, he had an awful week of suffering while they worked round the clock to stabilize his system.

I won't go into detail, or obvious reasons, but fortunately, he turned a corner on Saturday afternoon, and by Sunday afternoon he was feeling well enough to start walking in the hallway. If all goes well - for a switch - he'll be back home on Wednesday, He has a long road to recovery ahead of him, but these doctors are top-notch, and after an awful year-plus struggle, I feel confident he's going to be OK. That alone is reason enough to look forward to 2019. If anyone deserves to have the karmic scales start to balance out, it's my nephew C. Meanwhile, please keep him, and my sister C, in your thoughts. :c)

As for me, well I had an interesting week on the health front as well. I mentioned that I'd broken two ribs the Wednesday before Christmas. Last Friday afternoon, after a long night and day of increasing discomfort, I finally gave in and went to the emergency room after leaving work. A CT scan, chest X-ray series, and three-plus hours later, we had a verdict: I had actually broken *three* ribs, not two, as they originally thought.

And, as it turns out, I also had a bruised lung, which the previous CT scan hadn't detected. The ER doctor was astounded that I was able to carry on my regular schedule for over a week; as I told her, I seem to have an abnormal tolerance for discomfort/pain, for whatever reason. I'm feeling slightly better today, but I also have a ways to go, much like my nephew. I kidded with him today that we can punch each other in the stomach to see who's recovering faster in the coming weeks, which made him laugh. (I suspect his mother, the nurse practitioner, may have something to say about this.)

With the medical report out of the way, I want to end with several hopeful songs to ring in the new year.

The first is a song I've posted before: "Better Things," from The Kinks and their 1981 album Give The People What They Want. How this song wasn't a huge hit, and how it isn't a standard today, simply baffles me.

It's the quintissential Kinks song: melancholy, bittersweet, but with a core of bruised, hopeful optimism. I've always suspected that Ray Davies was writing this to himself, but, like all great artists, he's able to take the personal and make it universal:

Here's wishing you the bluest sky
And hoping something better comes tomorrow
Hoping all the verses rhyme
And the very best of choruses, too
Follow all the doubt and sadness
I know that better things are on the way

Here's hoping all the days ahead
Won't be as bitter as the ones behind you
Be an optimist instead
And somehow happiness will find you
Forget what happened yesterday
I know that better things are on the way

It's really good to see you rocking out
And having fun
Living like you've just begun
Accept your life and what it brings
I hope tomorrow you'll find better things
I know tomorrow you'll find better things
I know tomorrow you'll find better things

Next is another song of resilience and hope: "In A Big Country," from Big Country's classic 1983 debut album, The Crossing, which is absolutely in my top three desert island discs. This is a tremendous live version from a hometown show they played in Glasgow, Scotland on New Year's Eve 1983:

I've never seen you look like this without a reason
Another promise fallen through
Another season passes by you

I never took the smile away from anybody's face
And that's a desperate way to look
For someone who is still a child

In a big country dreams stay with you
Like a lover's voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive

I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered

I'm not expecting to grow flowers in a desert
But I can live and breathe
And see the sun in wintertime

In a big country dreams stay with you
Like a lover's voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive

So take that look out of here it doesn't fit you
Because it's happened doesn't mean you've been discarded
Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming
Cry out for everything you ever might have wanted

I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered

I'm not expecting to grow flowers in a desert
But I can live and breathe
And see the sun in wintertime
In a big country dreams stay with you
Like a lover's voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive

And finally, a song from what is my Number One Desert Island Disc, Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town. This is "The Promised Land":

There's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I've packed my bags and I'm headed straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground

Blow away the lies that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and broken-hearted

Well the dogs on this street howl 'cause they understand
If I could take this moment into my hand
Mister I ain't a boy, no, I'm a man
And I believe in the promised land
And I believe in the promised land
Yes I believe in the promised land

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope we all find better things in the year to come.

A Christmas Eve Playlist

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas Eve, all. Hope your holiday preparations are proceeding apace.

Still recovering from my broken ribs here, which are putting a serious crimp in my ability to... well, do much of anything, really, but particularly to breathe, walk, and sleep. Oh well. All you can do is give them time to heal, so that's what I'm doing. Sitting still is hard, but you do what you have to do.

Unfortunately, my nephew is dealing with his health issues again. He's had a rough go of it this year, so please keep him in your thoughts. He's seeing a specialist this afternoon (the doctor kindly agreed to see him on short notice), so hopefully she can start to sort out what has been happening. Fingers crossed that 2019 will be a better year for him.

I thought I'd share some Christmas songs for the rest of this post for your listening pleasure. Here's hoping your Christmas Eve is as peaceful as the one Calvin & Hobbes are enjoying, above, and that Santa brings you exactly what you want. Merry Christmas, one and all.


First up are Blue Rodeo, a longtime personal favorite, performing a rocking version of "O Come All Ye Faithful" from a CBC Christmas Eve special a few years ago:

Here's a lovely take on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' fromBlue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy and Kathleen Edwards:

Next, a haunting, minor key version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" from T-Bone Burnett. Although these days he's best known as a producer, he's a terrific songwriter/performer in his own right (check out his brilliant 1983 Proof Through the Night album sometime), as you can hear here:

Finally, a gorgeous, melancholy instrumental titled, appropriately enough, "Christmas Eve," courtesy of Scotland's great Teenage Fanclub. This is a cover version, incidentally; the original is from Welsh band Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (say that five times fast), whose version is equally pretty:

Once again, Merry Christmas to you and yours, everyone...

Rib(s) Rocked

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Hello, and a Happy pre-Christmas Thursday to everyone. Hope you're already on vacation, or will be after tomorrow.

Yours truly is working, and will be next week as well. It's been frantic at work the past few months (more so than usual), and exhausting, so you do what you have to do. The bright side, such as it is, is that no one is in the office, so I can get a lot done without interruption.

There is one complication, however:

I broke two ribs last night. :c(

Or, to be completely accurate, I broke two ribs again last night.

What happened? Follow along after the jump.

Musings: Five Is Right Out

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Hello all. Hope you're having a good December so far. This isn't my favorite time of year, although it used to be. It brings to mind painful memories of broken promises, lies, and betrayal. This December has been harder than usual for some reason. But I'll get through it. I've come too far and worked too hard.

And on that note, I just wanted to put up a brief post today to commemorate one of the most important days of my life.

Five years ago today - December 13, 2013 (Friday the 13th, incidentally) is the day I went full time.

It simultaneously feels like yesterday and a thousand years ago - in a good way. And while I'm going through a less than pleasant period at the moment, I'm doing it as myself. And that makes it all worthwhile. I wouldn't trade my life now for anything I had back then. I think the two photos below - the first taken the day I started HRT (November 19th, 2011) and the second taken this evening, December 12th, 2018 - tell the story far better than any words I can conjure up:

And here I am five years ago to the day on the left, and today on the right:

A lot has changed since then - including my address (several times), hair color (once), boob size (OK, not so much), and, of course, plumbing (absolutely only once!).

(I also put on some weight, as you can see - a combination of prolonged, involuntary inactivity, a much-busier-than-usual work schedule, and the side effects of medication I was taking. But no excuses. I weighed the same from high school until just before my surgery in September 2017, and I am going to get back to my normal weight. I'm hard at work on it, every day. And I'll succeed (in fact, I'm already on my way, in the past three weeks since I started in earnest). I know now I can do anything I put my mind to. Posting these pics is one way to hold myself to that when I'm tired at the end of the day and need a reminder of my goal. In six or so months I plan to be back to my normal weight. Book it.)

What will the next five years bring? Who knows? But I'm looking forward to finding out. See you back here on December 13, 2023. :c)


By the way, for anyone wondering where the title of this post comes from, I refer you to the Book of Armaments, Chapter Two, verses 9-21:


In the spirit of the season, a few Christmas songs from two wonderful new holiday albums, by The Mavericks and The Old 97s, respectively. Check them out; they're both terrific bands who get a lot of airplay here in Cass's Little Corner of the World.

And to end on a more contemplative note, here's Kate Bush's 1979 classic, "December Will Be Magic." First, a live version, from her Christmas special that year:

And last but not least, the single version, which is as lovely as its singer:

Hope to post at least once more before Christmas. Have a lovely holiday season (whichever you observe) in the meantime, everyone.

A (Brief) Visit to the Tunnel of Love, or My (Mis)Adventure in Stirrups :D

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Greetings and salutations, one and all. Hope all are well. It's been a looonnnngggg time since I posted. Things have really been hoppin' at Cass's Casa, and this blog, alas, has been one of the casualties.

It's Saturday afternoon, and I'm just back from lunch with my friend J. We worked together years ago, then lost touch when I moved to Seattle. We reconnected on Facebook, and, finally, got to meet up in person. It was J's first time meeting Cass in person, which made it extra enjoyable. J was a good friend at a time when I needed one, so it's great to have him (and his lovely wife S) back in my life. :c)

I went for a run this morning, so I have some free time before my nephew C comes over later to watch Game 7 of the National League Championship Series to see whether the Brewers or Dodgers face - oh, how sweet it is to be able to say this - the American League Champion Boston Red Sox in the World Series! Woo hoo! :c)

So, follow along below the fold for my further adventures, including one of my more memorable (in a good way) post-transition experiences - and while seeing my doctor, no less. :c)


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