June 29, 2016: Greetings from the insomnia capital of the world — also known as our home — where the news never sleeps and neither do we. Well, at least one of us, and for that reason this will probably be a shorter newsletter than most. Hopefully you will forgive our groggy prose.
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Glenn is going through caffeine detox, which is something we thought we'd never say since he has never been a coffee drinker — or at least he wasn't one before Valentine's Day. That is the day we purchased a Keurig 2.0 coffeemaker as a mutual valentine's present and began exploring the nearly endless options of instant coffee products. Our kitchen counter is stacked with boxes of single-serving coffees — everything from Dunkin' Donuts french vanilla to Peet's House Blend to Folger's premium. We've got hot chocolate. We've got tea. We've got cans of sweetened condensed milk and hazelnut creamer. We've got enough variety to open up our own coffee shop. What we don't have is a lot of decaf, or experience drinking a cup or more a day of regular coffee for four months straight.
That is what Glenn had been doing since mid-February, and he came to the realization that he had never felt worse, physically — which is saying a lot for someone who was hospitalized with Valley Fever in 2009. Glenn has never been a sound sleeper, and keeping late hours as he has done for work the past 20 years or so has gotten him into a routine of getting to bed at 3 a.m. and sleeping often until noon. You'd think that 8-9 hours of sleep would be more than enough for most people, and it probably would be if he were actually getting that. But look up insomnia in the dictionary and you'll see Glenn's picture next to the entry. Well, maybe not right next to it, but pretty close. Glenn's natural tendencies toward wakefulness in the wee hours have been exacerbated since he became a coffee addict, so much so that he suggested Roni hit him in the head with an anvil to help him get the sleep he hasn't been getting.
So following one last iced latte on Father's Day, Glenn decided to swear off coffee — at least for a few weeks — to see if it would make any difference. The results were almost instantaneous: he awoke with a pounding headache on Monday that persisted through Wednesday. He felt groggy and dizzy, to the point where he decided it would be safer to work from home than drive to the office. His stomach hurt. His entire body ached. He thought maybe he had come down with the flu, except that he wasn't running a fever. As we write this, some of those symptoms have started to dissipate, but one thing still remains — complete and utter fatigue.
So in the interest of trying to shake the tiredness, Glenn did the unthinkable and began going to bed earlier. That is, he went into the bed earlier even if he couldn't trick his brain into shutting up and going to sleep earlier. All that happened was he spent four sleepless nights tossing and turning, trying to sleep under the blankets one moment and then on top of them the next, reversing positions so that his head was where his feet should be, cuddling with the cat, not cuddling with the cat, kicking the cat off the bed entirely, getting out of the bed and sleeping on the living room sofa, sleeping on the floor, giving up and playing video games until his eyes burned.
At the end of the week, Roni suggested that perhaps it was time to try sleeping pills. She even suggested that she could pick some up at the store. She went to the store and bought everything on her shopping list — except the sleeping pills. But she did buy wine. Wine has medicinal qualities, or so we've been told. One of those is its ability to lull us into a state of drowsiness. So far we have been enjoying our wine, but still not much sleep. We'll let you know how it went when we reach the end of the bottle.
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S WE COMPOSE this, it is 1 a.m. on a lovely summer night and we're sitting on the back patio to escape the sweltering oven that is our house. For Roni's birthday we got her an atomic clock that displays the temperature both indoors and out. That's a good way to depress yourself when the temperature isn't to your preference. This afternoon it was 104 degrees outside, but 92 degrees indoors. Tonight it is 80 degrees outdoors and still a balmy 87 degrees in the house. No, we don't run the central air conditioner for a variety of reasons. We'll just bear it through the hot months and hang out with the mosquitoes on the back patio. If we don't contract Zika or West Nile virus before October then we'll consider it a good tradeoff.
Ah yes, the patio. It should be mentioned that it was quite the disaster area after we started our rock mosaic project in March. We only got about half of it done before the end of Glenn's vacation, when it was abruptly abandoned for other projects and foul weather. We pretty much left our supplies right where they were, including several bags of rocks and a utility cart upon which we left an open sack of dry mortar mix. We decided to simply throw some plastic sheeting over the bag to keep it dry because we of course planned to come back to it eventually — we thought sooner than later, but that turned out to be optimistic. Well, the sack did stay dry, but unfortunately some of its contents leaked onto the patio and got wet when the rains came. You know what happens to hydrated lime when it dries? It becomes concrete.
So after three months of seeing the patio serve as an open-air storage shed, Roni decided it was time to restore it to its intended purpose as a place to sit and relax. She took it upon herself to remove some of the dirt, tools and winter debris that had accumulated over the spring, but she left it to Glenn to get rid of the mortar mess. The dry mix had pooled around one tire of the utility cart, so when he removed it there was a perfect impression of a tire track on our patio. Sort of like NASA photos you've seen of the mars rover on its first trek across the red planet. "That's one small step for man, one giant mess for the Gehlkes."
Glenn finally found a use for the mason's chisel he purchased more than a decade ago, finding it very handy to scrape off the excess mortar mix. It took a bit of elbow grease, but the patio surface is relatively smooth again, even if it is a bit stained where the mortar spilled.
Roni's goal was to have a nice spot to place our patio furniture again. We put it in the garage for storage at the end of 2014 and didn't bring it out at all last summer. Normally it would have sat under the BAP pergola with its much larger patio area, but Roni doesn't like to sit there because she can't see our bird feeder easily. The view is only slightly better on the dining room patio, but at least it is closer to the house.
So tonight we sit and write, and get to enjoy the view of the larger-than-normal Mars which stands out like a huge orange blob on the southern horizon. We attempted to photograph it this month with our digital cameras when it made its closest pass of Earth at a mere 46.8 million miles, and do you know what it looked like? Yes, a huge orange blob. Not even digital zoom and a long lens can substitute for a decent telescope.
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ITH THE GOLDEN State Warriors losing the NBA Finals in ugly fashion, to the terror attacks at an Orlando nightclub and the airport in Istanbul, to the ongoing farce that is the presidential campaign, the news has largely let us down this month. Turning on the TV is something we rarely like to do anymore, so it is somewhat ironic that one of our biggest projects this month involved making the television in our bedroom easier to watch. While shopping for Ben's birthday at the start of May we picked up a wall mount for the 40-inch Samsung we've had in our bedroom the past four years. When we bought it, we set it up on the old stand where we once had a giant 36-inch tube set that weighed more than 100 pounds. By contrast, the Samsung was a lightweight at less than 40 pounds; mounting it would be a piece of cake.
But we put off the mounting of the set for all this time because it was more convenient to simply set it up on the pedestal base it came with, even if it was a little too low to view comfortably from our bed. So when we found the wall mount at Best Buy for $30, we decided now was as good a time as any to put it up.
We finally got around to installing the wall mount on Father's Day weekend. We already had a spot planned for it beneath the curio shelves on our west wall. We just needed to move the shelves, which Roni took care of, then Glenn had to attach the bracket hardware to the wall studs. Naturally the studs weren't located where we needed them to be, so the bracket had to be attached off center of where we planned. The TV isn't perfectly centered where we wanted it, but that can be fixed if we decide eventually to relocate the top shelf that sits above it. Will it happen? Probably not.
We'll add it to the tail end of a lengthy list of home improvement projects we haven't tackled yet, including painting, replacing the front gutters, overhauling the dead front lawn, and repairing the hole in the wallboard of Ben's bedroom — that's a new task that cropped up this month when he unexpectedly put his foot through the wall one afternoon when he pushed back his chair at his computer desk.
That's about all we've got for this month, so as promised, we'll put the wrap on this short missive and come back in July with hopefully greater energy and inspiration.