Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Projected living

I talk a lot about my projects, some that are big and important, and also those that aren’t. There are all sorts of reasons why I do that (not the least being that, ya know, I’m a blogger…), but the truly important thing about it for me is that those projects provide signposts of a sort, marking my progress on my journey. Recently, there’s been a bit of a shift in the focus of my projects—small, even subtle, but that shift’s important, too.

For most of the first two years after Nigel died, my projects have been about building my new life, often literally—things like getting my house the way I want it, sorting through and reducing the mountains of stuff he and I accumulated over 24 years, and also getting things working (phone, TV, weather station, etc). Other things, like my cooking experiments, have been about doing things that interest me and move me forward in building whatever my life will become (I actually didn’t even know I was all that interested in cooking until I was cooking only for myself). However, all those projects were still related to the life I had, building on that base.

The change is that I’m now taking on projects that are only about me. The shift really began with my Mac project (YOMP). It started out as just another “based on my old life” project, but it’s grown beyond that into something I’m keenly interested in because it’s something I want to do. In fact, it’s now grown beyond just getting the Mac Classic to work so I can access old files, now it’s become about something I want, and stuff that’s about me.

It’s not all about tech stuff, either: My recent project to the replace the wheels of my mobile filing drawers was something I didn’t have to do—I could’ve just tossed it out, or left in the garage to deal with later. But it was something I wanted to to do mainly because I could. It was only when I started working on it that I realised how I could use the repaired drawer unit to better organise my office—though, as with so many other projects dealing with “stuff” in the house, that’s not been a huge priority for me (in fact, I haven’t used all the storage I’ve already created for myself in my office).

Now, sure, I freely admit that this is partly about having a diversion from those mind-numbing, never-ending bigger projects (especially the garage and the gardens), but it’s become an important way for me to carve out space for myself, to stake out some of the boundaries of what my new life may become. It’s also helped me catch glimpses of at least some of what my new life may one day be like. Those are not small things.

While all that’s been gong on, I’ve also had a slight reemergence of interest in some of the activities I used to enjoy—like blogging, for example, and obviously: No matter how many posts I do in what’s left of this month, September is already my most-blogged month of the year. That doesn’t mean that 2021 will be a return to those golden days of yesteryear when I did an average of one blog post a day: To achieve that I’d have to hit an average of roughly two posts per day, every day, for the rest of the year. That seems highly improbable. But, next year, maybe? That’s at least theoretically possible, and the fact that I can see that it’s theoretically possible is just another example of how things are changing.

Over the course of this month in particular, I’ve talked about some of the things that have changed and shifted, and a little about why it’s happened. There’s so much more to say about all that, and over time, I will—especially as I manage to figure it out. I guess my own life has become my biggest project of all. And I’m okay with that.

Another battle in my wars

Today I completed another battle in my war with the lawns. Although the ultimate victory was mine, it made me again question myself. In the end, I resolved to fight another day.

Yesterday started out sunny, so I thought it’d be a good day to mow the lawns, however, my body was still running on NZ Standard Time, so I was an hour latebeginning the day, and the most important thing I had to do was to pick up my prescription refill. By the time I was back home and ready to mow, it was 3 or so, and it was clouding over. I started doing the back lawn, anyway—surprised the temperature had dropped so much (about four degrees).

The lawns were wet and heavy because of all the rain we’ve had lately, and that also made the grass (etc…) grow like crazy. So, it was very hard going. The mower stopped when I was about 2/3 done, so I cleaned out the underside (yet again) and went inside to charge up the battery.

Here’s the thing: This isn’t just about the charge left (I had a bit more than a quarter which could be enough). The battery has what they call a “battery protection feature”, a sort of fail-safe that if the battery starts to get too hot, it shuts down—and that mower was working REALLY hard on that gluggy mess. Since I had to let it cool, anyway, I decided to charge the battery—except that also doesn’t work until the battery cools down. By the time it was cool enough to charge, and then was fully charged, it was getting darker because the clouds had thickened.

This morning was another sunny start, so I went back outside and finished the back lawn. Then, I came inside and re-charged the battery while I rested and had lunch. Afterward, I went back out and mowed the front weed patch (aka “lawn”).

I gotta admit that yesterday as I struggled to mow the part of the back lawn that’s thick and lush and nearly all actual grass, I thought maybe I should just surrender and hire a service, something I thought about when I was doing the front lawn earlier this month. Three things stop me doing that.

First, I’m stubborn (Nigel and I were a complete set in that regard…). Second, I need the exercise (that’s beyond dispute). And finally, I use a battery lawn mower and line trimmer, and they’re charged by my solar power system, while all the lawnmowing companies use petrol-driven equipment. So, hiring a company just doesn’t work for me, however, I did think about compromising and hiring a company to do the mowing only in the winter months when everything’s wet and gluggy. Maybe, but did I mention that I’m stubborn?

Still, at least at Alert Level 2 I can buy the plants and supplies I need to start the process of making the yards nice, and I hope to do that this week, though the actual outside work may be delayed because, oddly enough, more rain is predicted.

I was thinking yesterday that I would’ve been better off buying a house with established gardens, but not because of a difference in the amount of work they need (once established, both need to be maintained), but, rather, because figuring out what to plant and where at a new house is something that Nigel and I would’ve done together. Doing it alone just isn’t any fun, and getting a friend or family member to help me plan it isn’t even remotely a substitute. In fact, it would make things worse because my stubborn side would take control, making it a very unpleasant experience for everyone (it nothing else, I know myself).

I’m going to follow my original ideas and instincts for the gardens, and then I can change it down the line if I don’t like the results—like everyone else does, but it’s kind of new for me. Still, this afternoon, after I’d rested up from today’s battles, I spent a little while in the garage again looking for the filament for the line trimmer, and I thought, for maybe the billionth time, how absolutely overwhelming the weight of all the stuff I have to deal with is. The garage is basically impassable, despite all my hours spent going through boxes, and there’s extra stuff in pretty much every room of the house. Dealing with the gardens is just another crushing weight on top of the other crushing weight.

And yet, despite often getting discouraged and sometimes dispirited, it doesn’t keep me down for long. That’s when my small projects come in really handy, giving me something to focus on that doesn’t take all my energy and focus, and yet something that’s also a positive move forward, not merely a distraction.

So, yeah, today I completed another battle in my war with the lawns. I resolved to fight another day, as I always do, but the real questions are, which battle of which war, and on which day? And that’s why this is a story arc, not an anecdote. At least it gives me something to blog about.

The graphic above is a screenshot of what I posted on my personal Facebook this afternoon, after I was done with today’s skirmishes.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Ending September: Final songs

The final songs of pop music artists who die often take on far more importance than they might otherwise have had. But sometimes those final songs are a fitting end to a career, wrapping up their career. These are two final songs that do that for me.

The video up top is Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt”. The song was written by Trent Reznor, who is the lead singer (etc.) of American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. I must’ve heard that when Cash’s version was released because I’m quite certain I never heard the NIN version before Cash’s. Nine Inch Nails is a group that it’s still quite fashionable to hate, and whether that’s justified or grossly unfair is a matter of opinion, but either way I don’t care for their music. Had Cash never recorded his cover, I’d never have heard the song. I’m glad he did. [WATCH: “Johnny Cash The Story Behind His Cover of Nine Inch Nails Hurt & Trent Reznor's Reaction”.

Johnny Cash’s version is full of melancholy, awareness of his approaching end, and the regret that can come with that. The video, I think, is utterly masterful in capturing all that, and the use of the decrepit House of Cash as a kind of metaphor is perfect. This is the one of these two songs that I sometimes sing to myself.

“Hurt” was the final single released in Cash’s lifetime. The video was filmed in February 2003 and released the following month. Johnny’s wife, June Carter Cash, appears in it twice; she died in May 2003. Johnny Cash died in September 2003.

Because I always mention such things, the song hit 39 in the UK and 56 in the USA.

Next up, the last song by David Bowie, “Lazarus”:

“Lazarus” was the final song to be released in Bowie’s lifetime. and Bowie’s producer has said that Bowie intended it as his epitaph, which at the very least seems plausible. I have to be honest: This video, and the others songs from his Blackstar album, made me very uncomfortable because he was clearly unwell—though we had no idea how sick he was until he died. In the time since then, I found out that he died of liver cancer—the same thing that killed my Nigel, but Bowie got 18 months, while Nigel didn’t even get 18 days. Because of all of that, this particular final song caries far more meaning for me now than it did when it was released.

Coincidentally related – WATCH: David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails perform “Hurt”

The song hit Number 72 in Australia, 14 in Canada, 9 in New Zealand, 45 in the UK, and 40 on the USA’s Billboard “Hot 100”.

As I said up top, the final songs of pop music artists who die often take on far more importance than they might otherwise have had. These two songs have taken on new meaning for me because of what I’ve been through, and I can relate to them more now than when they were originally released. To some extent, that happens with all music, but when it’s a final song? Maybe the meaning becomes a bit more.

Dinner change

Tonight I made a Stovetop Chicken Casserole (well, that’s what I call it, anyway—though I'm sure it probably already has an actual name). I had some things to use up, and added on from there. I was very happy with it.

This came about because I had a leek I needed to use, and I thought about making chicken and leek pie—but I was too lazy to make the pastry. I also knew I had a box of low-salt chicken stock that was at the “either use it or toss it” stage.

So: First, I chopped a small red onion (I have too many, but they’re also milder than ordinary onions). I also sliced a carrot and some celery, and, of course, the leek. Next, I took a chicken breast out of the freezer. I cooked that while the vegetables softened in another pot. If I’d been more patient, I could’ve cooked the chicken, removed it from the pan, then put the vegetables in. But I was hungry, so, two pans.

When the vegetables were softened, I added the chicken and pan juices, a little freshly ground salt and pepper, a pinch of mixed herbs, stirred it and, once it was heated through, I poured in the chicken stock (one cup). I then added a cup of water and one cup of dried rice (I used long grain, which I have the most of, but any kind would work).

Next, I controversially added a prepared packet of name-brand instant gravy mix (also nearing the end of its days). I did that because I wanted the dish to be rich and hearty (it’s going to a cold night!), but when I mixed up the gravy I had doubts because the herbs smelled quite intense. But, I stuck with my gut instinct and poured it in and stirred everything, and put the lid back on the pot. Once the mix came up to a near boil, I reduced the heat and let it simmer for about ten minutes, then reduced it to a quite low heat for about 5. Then I stirred it, turned off the heat, and left it with life on for another 5 minutes.

It was perfect—exactly what I wanted. If I’d planned it all out, I could have skipped the gravy (and it’s salt) and thickened it in an ordinary way, or I could’ve used more chicken stock instead and given it a bit more time simmering. But this was more about using up some odds and ends, and, besides, it was yummy.

This little story is also about change. Over the past two years, I’ve been braver about trying new, unfamiliar recipes, and especially about trusting my instincts/judgement when cooking. I’ve had a few failures along the way, but I learn from those, too. I did a little bit of this sort of cooking experimentation for Nigel, especially in later years, but that’s taken off over the past two years.

Apparently, this is part of the new life I’m building. And that’s a great thing, I think—especially when my experiments work!

Friday, September 24, 2021

Another project rolls to completion

I have a lot of small projects, ones that have nothing to do with the garage or the gardens or anything other than things I want or need to do. This week I completed another one of those. It's unimportant, in the overall scheme of things, but it’s an accomplishment all the same.

Several years ago I sold the large corner desk I had at the time and replaced it with a more modern table-like desk with powder-coated steel legs and white top. Then I bought the matching mobile unit with two stationery drawers and a filing drawer (the old desk and mobile unit were both that fake light coloured wood sort of plastic veneer). I really liked the new desk, and so did Nigel, so I got him one, too.

We moved the desks to our last house, and I had them moved here, too, but gave them to family: At 1.8 metres long, they were simply too long for my office in my new house. I bought a new desk before I even moved in, so I was ready to go. It turns out that at 1.4 metres wide, it’s a bit too small, but this isn’t about the desk (that’s a future project). Instead, this project involved that mobile filing unit.

That unit and I have history, and it’s not been altogether amicable. A few years ago I noticed that stuff kept falling out of the stationery drawers and getting stuck behind the filing drawer, sometimes preventing me from closing the filing drawer. This was annoying, not the least because the drawers weren’t easily removed.

The disagreement between that unit and me over where those stationery items should stay came to violence one day: Stuff was stuck behind the filing drawer, I couldn’t get it to come out of the unit, not for the first time, and that particular day I could take it no longer. When I couldn’t get the drawer out, I yanked on the handle as hard as I could and, of course, broke it. Specifically, I destroyed the drawer runners, and heavily greased ball bearings flew everywhere—or, they would have except that being heavily greased they couldn’t fly more than a centimetre or two.

At this point, I could’ve given up and brought a new drawer unit, throwing the now-broken one into a landfill somewhere. But, of course, that’s not what I do. Instead, I bought new drawer runners, ones that mounted underneath the drawers, not on the sides as the old ones did, and ones that were designed to make it very easy to remove the drawer whenever I wanted to. It was an upgrade, and a nearly perfect one, except my skills weren’t perfect and the drawer doesn’t sit completely flush anymore. Still it’s “good enough”, and, I might add, not bad for a first-ever attempt at installing drawer glides.

A couple years later, more or less, I was moving to Hamilton and, apparently the movers thought it wold be a really good idea to pile lots of stuff on top of that mobile unit. They apparently also thought that weight couldn’t possibly be an issue, and even that using the unit as a sort of trolly to move stuff into the garage was an even better idea. The result is in the photo above: One wheel was snapped off—though I didn’t know that for awhile.

After I moved in and the movers had left, I found the wheel laying on the floor in the garage, but I didn’t know where it came from: I had three of the drawer things: The newest one, along with my old mobile unit, and also one that had been Nigel’s (his was two-drawer, and my old one had no bottom for the filing drawer, and an additional flaw for both of them was that fake light coloured wood sort of plastic veneer). I didn’t realise the wheel was from the white one’s until I moved it into my office and noticed that it was slumping down in one corner. At the time, I just assumed I could put the wheel back on my pushing it into place.

all five old wheels after removal.
Once I finally flipped the unit over, I realised that the missing wheel had been snapped off, and that some of the other wheels had been bent, both presumably because of too much weight on them (it had to be the movers because it was under my desk for years, with no weight on top of it). Such wheels were never designed to be repaired, so, again, I either had to replace the broken parts or chuck the mobile unit into the rubbish. However, that’s still not what I do. So, I decided to get new wheels, and I did: Three times.

The first wheels I got were much more robust than the old ones and two of them included foot brakes to keep the unit from rolling around. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the lip of the sides into consideration (the sides end nearly 2 centimetres below the actual bottom of the unit), and there’d be no way to be able to access the breaks.

So, I decided to replace the wheels with the same sort that were broken, and without bakes (it sits on carpet; it’s not rolling anywhere all that easily, anyway, even with me pushing/pulling it). I’ll use the first set of wheels for storage under my workbenches in the garage when I get to that point, so they’ll be useful.

However, the wheels I bought were 50mm, and the originals were 40mm. This meant that if I used the same screw holes, the wheels would hit and rub against that lip below the base. I returned those wheels and bought 40mm ones, instead. I was able to put those in without any problem.

Because of all this, I noticed something odd: The wheel under the filing drawer was set about 10mm below the bottom of the unit, where the other four wheels were mounted (photo below, after the new wheel’s first installation). I kept one of the 50mm wheels to go in that position so it can actually support the filing drawer, apparently for the first time ever.

One final twist: I noticed the new wheel under the filing drawer was slightly touching the front of the drawer when in the position for the drawer being pulled open (the wheels are mounted off centre). This isn’t an issue when the drawer it closed. I decided to move the wheel further back, so I removed it and when to get my drill bits—and quickly found out that I couldn’t find any that were small enough (most of them are, apparently, “somewhere safe”, as so many things I need tend to be; I refused to go buy yet more drill bits). I ended up putting the wheel back on (and, yes, the second time I made sure that one screw was in straight). I figure if it’s really a problem, I can fix it later, once I (again) find the rest of my drill bits

And, what about the other two drawer units? Nigel’s old one is in my office wardrobe and I’m using it for storage and to, er, um, put stuff on top of—not heavy stuff, though! The other one is still in the garage, and I’ll probably use it there to store stuff for ongoing projects all together in one place. I always try to reuse things until they can no longer be reused, or I find a new home for them (as I did with the desks)

And, that’s it: I fixed a set of office drawers for the second time. I don’t plan on there being a third. Instead, I’m just going to roll on to my next project.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Slower than I thought

Progress is progress, right? Well, Ye Olde Macintosh Project (YOMP) has moved even slower than I expected. Which doesn’t mean that nothing’s happened, just that not much has happened. Which makes a short post all the more possible, for a change.

in my first post on the project, I talked about some of the things I needed in order to be able to get the Mac Classic working. There are updates on two of those.

I said I needed a long-handled Torx screwdriver, and I thought that Nigel might have some. I haven’t found any, and I’ve since realised that what I pictured in me head were probably hex drives because they were used for the machines that Nigel built, like his CNC router and his (many) 3D printers. Torx are kind of a specialty thing in computers, and I can’t think of a reason he’d have needed one.

So, I started searching for them in New Zealand, but true long-handled Torx screwdrivers weren’t available here. I bought an ordinary one from the home centre, even though I was pretty sure it wouldn’t work for the two screws that need the long-handled screwdriver, and I was right (though it did work for the other two, not that it helped anything with two than couldn’t be reached).

It was back to the search, and I finally relented and went to order a set from a New Zealand site that imports them from the UK, only to find they were out of stock. I surrendered: I ordered a set from Amazon, and they should be here on October 6, give or take. Oh, well, I tried to buy in New Zealand. As I learned from watching Nigel, it’s all too often impossible to source specialised tech stuff in New Zealand, and now it’s even worse because of all the Covid-related disruptions.

Another thing I mentioned was that I needed a keyboard and mouse that could connect to Macs of that era (they use a standard called “ADB”). I also said that the only place I found vintage keyboards was in the USA where prices could be many hundreds of dollars. Then, my luck changed.

Someone put an ADB keyboard on the New Zealand auction site, Trade Me. It was from Power Computing, which I knew had manufactured “Mac Clones” in the mid-1990s (until Steve Jobs returned to Apple and killed off the clones market, acquiring Power Computing’s assets). I knew it was a Mac keyboard from that alone (the listing didn’t say), but it had a photo of the connector, which I could see was ADB (because of the number of pins and their configuration), plus the key combinations to the left and right of rhte spacebar (I used one every day for years, after all). The asking price was $15 (!).

I was all set to bid on it in the last few minutes of the auction—and then I forgot to go there and the auction closed with no bids. I sent a message to ask the person to relist it. Then I got an email from Trade Me touting various auctions, as it does, and one of them was for the same sort of keyboard from the same person, but not as yellowed (a topic in itself). Another lucky break! I got that one (photo up top) for $15, plus $10 for shipping (it was in Auckland, and I couldn’t go there to pick it up due to Covid restrictions). It took six days to get to me because of local shipping delays (apparently caused by people buying lots of stuff online during the Covid lockdowns).

I was sure that the delay didn’t matter, because without the Torx screwdriver, I can’t open the Mac Classic to see why it won’t boot (I’m betting the logic board is munted). Nevertheless, I hooked up the keyboard (after giving it the first clean it’s getting), and, as I suspected, nothing happened. Back to waiting for the screwdrivers.

A keyboard alone isn’t enough: I’ll need an ADB mouse, too. I keep having visions that I still have an ADB mouse packed away, but I don't know if I do or if it's a displaced memory or something. I looked through some old boxes where I thought it might be, but so far nothing. I did, however, find the AC power adapter for my Zip drive that I brought from the USA (once here, I had to get one that would work in New Zealand), and also the US power cord for my old Mac Performa 637 that I brought from the USA. If I kept those, then the mouse, if I do have it, will be packed away somewhere—and so, too, there may be some SCSI hard drives I had back then, too. After all, I still have the modem I brought with me.

Meanwhile, in my first YOMP update post, I talked about not being able to access old diskettes. I said that “somehow getting access to a working vintage Macintosh” was an option if I can’t get the Mac Classic working. The jury’s still out on whether that Mac Classic will work or not, but I made progress on the back-up option, something I’ll talk about in a few weeks (those same Covid restrictions are delaying the completion of this mysterious development). But I think it’ll be a good development.

So far, though, that’s all that’s happened—or not, depending on your point of view. And there’s much more yet to come—or not. For me, the not knowing is part of the fun of the whole thing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The month persists, with a new mission

Monday was “officially” the second anniversary of the day Nigel died, and the Friday before marked 104 weeks, which is two years. The the date itself, September 20, moves around the calendar, while weeks are cumulative. They’re just different ways of marking time, and I don’t think either one matters for something like this. So, I don’t plan to publicly talk much about either measure of time every year in the future: I want to carry what Nigel and I had into my future, and not just think about the day it ended.

Which isn’t to say I could ever forget about the day or date—of course I’ll remember it!—it’s just that I don’t want to focus on the loss of Nigel and of our life together. The more time that passes since that September Friday in 2019, the more I want to focus on the things that make me so grateful for Nigel’s life and our life together, and I want to focus on that.

Besides, the measurement of time is a weird thing, anyway. When I posted last year about the 52 week mark, I said:
I’m noting the anniversary in weeks mainly because I have several times before, but I know that in future years I’ll remember it mostly by the anniversary date, and not the specific week or day of week, just as I have for all the happy anniversaries we shared. I think that if that’s so common with happy memories, maybe it’s a good idea for bad memories, and especially horrible ones.
I still think that—though I know I’ll remember the day of the week. Even so, I won’t be pointing out weeks anymore, not the least because keeping track of the number of weeks gets more and more complicated as time passes. For example, the next time that September 20 will fall on a Friday will be 2024, but that will also be 261 weeks later, not 260 (260 weeks will be the week before, September 13, that year…). That takes far too much head space to contemplate (and Google to calculate…). That effort would be far better spent on remembering Nigel, not trying to be pedantically precise about how long it’s been since he died. In fact, obsessing about that would mean focusing even more on the end. Nope, not me.

Obviously, thinking about Nigel and our awesome life together will inevitably mean remembering the end, especially on every September 20. I can’t imagine a time in which what I wrote last year won’t still be true:
I think of him every day, cry sometimes, miss him always, smile at memories of good times, and laugh about his cheeky humour and how he could be such a loveable jerk when he wanted to be. I’m not sad just because he died, I’m sad because all of the good stuff that went with him.
That’s just my reality, and I don’t actually need a particular day to experience any of it. However, as I was saying on Monday, I’m also keenly aware of how much Nigel wanted me to be okay, and that’s now my mission, for lack of a better word.

My intention, then, is that I’m not going to be making a big deal out of this “anniversary” anymore. Making it to, and through, the second year without Nigel is a big achievement, but that work is now just an ongoing part of my life and reality, not something that only has relevance in September. If I want to carry what Nigel and I had into my future, and not just think about the day it ended, then I both need and want to focus on the future.

All that, yes. But I’ll still hate September.

Monday, September 20, 2021

The second horrible anniversary

By date, today is the second horrible anniversary of my Nigel’s death, but dates on a calendar don’t really matter: Nigel’s been gone two years, and my life was utterly ripped apart when he died.

In the time since then, I’ve tried to figure out how to rebuild my life, and while I’m a long way from achieving that, I continue to make progress. My goal is to make sure that that the thing Nigel said over and over in his last days comes true: That I’m okay. Most days and in most ways, I am okay, and I’ve worked pretty hard to get here. I had to: I owed it to both of us.

I miss Nigel like crazy every single day, and there’s still literally nothing I wouldn’t do to get our life together restored. What I’ve learned over this second year without him, though, is that all of that can be true and I can still be okay. The secret is that our love for each other gave me the strength and determination I needed to take this journey.

I guess you could say that after two years on that journey I’m okay and slowly getting “okayier” all the time.

But I absolutely do miss Nigel as much as I ever have. AND I’m okay.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Songs that can make me cry

It’s Sunday of a weekend in which I’m marking the second anniversary of losing Nigel, and since I began this month with a video of a song that’s now my September theme song, this seemed like a good a time to share a couple songs that can make me cry. Both have special resonance with me, but also personal connections. The truth is, though, that sometimes I now just enjoy the songs, remembering things, but not crying—not always, anyway. 

The song above is "Years From Now" by American band Dr. Hook, a track on their 1979 album, “Sometimes You Win”. It was released as a single in 1980, and was their least successful of the four original singles on the album.

I had the album at one point, but I don’t remember that song from it—but, then, in 1979/80, I was avoiding thoughts about relationships, since I was still closeted. Nearly 30 years later, however, I heard it (again?) when our niece sang it. It made me think of me and Nigel, and I told her she had to sing it at our wedding. Getting legally married was something that relied on what at the time seemed like an unlikely law change, but in the meantime, in 2009, Nigel and I held our Civil Union ceremony, and our niece sang the song for us.

For years, even before that ceremony, I always got teary listening to it, and after Nigel died, it made me cry. Sometimes, it still does. So, I had and still have a particularly strong personal connection to that song [Read the LYRICS].

The song hit Number 72 in Australia, 63 in Canada, 47 in the UK, and 51 un the USA. It didn’t chart in New Zealand. Not that any of that matters to me, of course.

Next up, a song by Irish singer/songwriter (etc.) Ronan Keating, his 2002 cover version of Garth Brooks’ 1989 country music hit—and his first country Number One—“If Tomorrow Never Comes”:

Keating’s version was never released in the Canada or the USA, but it was successful in other countries I write about: Number 3 in Australia (Platinum), 3 in New Zealand (Gold), and Number One in the UK (Platinum). It was also Number 3 in Ireland.

Keating’s version was, I think, the first I heard, but I didn’t especially like it (I probably said my usual noncommittal, “It’s alright…”). I liked other songs by him (and I liked some less than this one), and I also liked songs from Boyzone, the band he was co-lead singer of before his solo career. This particular song just wasn’t one that I especially liked.

Nigel, who knew pop music far better than I ever could hope to, knew it was by Garth Brooks, and he played the original version for me [LISTEN]. I prefer Brooks’ version, if I’m truly honest, but YouTube doesn't have a decent copy of the original video made for his version, and vidoes that are there are often of poor quality. Besides, in the pop world where I spend most of my time, Keating’s version was absolutely the one I heard the most, by far. So, Keating it is.

The whole point, anyway, is the lyrics, which is what made this song reappear in my consciousness when Nigel died. I could clearly imagine him having similar thoughts in his last couple of weeks, and I also wondered if the love he gave me would “be enough to last” (so far, yes).

Music provides the soundtrack to our lives, as so many have said, one way or another. It’s no surprise, then, that songs like these two can affect me because of my current particular reason. These aren’t the only two songs that do that, of course—I’ve shared some others in previous posts—but these two still stand out. Others will come along no doubt, because that’s what happens with music. Maybe those songs will get a post, too. Anything’s possible with music.