January 1 Tuesday
Whatever opinion I may have of myself, either messing with the computer or writing this journal of our Life, something tells me if Nancy Sinatra had first recorded those lyrics it's likely that fame may have eluded her. At least my version explains where we've been, or at least what I've been up to. One of the great things about Linux is that it lets you do so many things to change it. One of the bad things about Linux is that changing things can sometimes really, really, really screw things up, and that's what I did. I do plan to go back and try to make up the missing posts, but it isn't a top priority at the moment, so I'll just continue like nothing happened.
On the other hand, the problem with the computer was fixed nearly three weeks ago, but still there was no flow of words coming from my brain. One could slough it off, mumble things about being tired, maybe simply wanting to take a break or falling back on the time worn excuse: Writer's Block. While those are nice, tidy and time worn ways of proffering my excuse for not writing, they are merely the chaff, the outer covering, presented to gloss over the real reason for the lack of Daily Journals. Rather than say it directly, I'll use the words of Scott Berkun: "The secret, if you can’t start, is to begin without constraints. Deliberately write badly, but write ...and... it is for this reason writer’s block is a sham. Anyone who wrote yesterday can write today, it’s just a question of if they can do it to their own satisfaction. It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s its fear of not writing well; something quite different. Certainly every writer has moments of paralysis, but the way out is to properly frame what’s going on, and writer’s block, as commonly misunderstood, is a red herring."
There, it's been said, it the quality of the words, not the quantity. Not that I have any delusions of being adept with words, but having standards, I get caught up at times with not being able to meet my own standards. There are so many RV blogs that one can choose from, but regardless of what others write, I have to be me, I have to write about the Life Linda and I live, and do it in such a way that lets our readers be part of it. I want it have meaning, not simply be words on the screen. It is a point where quality trumps quantity. I'll leave the quantity to others, I'll take a page from Tioga George's book and try to put LIFE into what I write. If you're interested, the link to Scott's entire article, and additional writings can be found at Scott's website.
Now That I've addressed the lack of posts, just what did we do on the first day of the new year? Well for one thing, we were served breakfast, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. How that happened was because of a gift from Katherine, Linda's sister. Since we had fixed last night's meal and were fixing the New Years Feast for this afternoon, she prepared a most delectable breakfast for us. Blueberry pancakes, loaded with pecans and crowned with whipped topping. It was good and a whole lot more. I did mention one bad thing, which was the precedent it set, Linda not having to fix breakfast. Somehow the conversation got around to that point, and I, in a burst of unrestrained enthusiasm, primed by the wonderful taste of those pancakes, blurted out something to the effect that I would fix breakfast this year.
Exactly what words I used, how the sentence was structured has soon mushroomed into the fact that I would be fixing breakfast every morning for the rest of the year. Of course the ladies immediately followed this up with wicked comments about just how long this new roll I was assuming would last. Having been lured, trapped and trussed, I proceeded to throw myself onto the flames by coming back with the fact that I certainly would fix breakfast every morning in 2008. The ladies smiles which followed my comment seemed to carry some hidden thoughts, which at first I thought dealt with the inability of man, etc., etc. Looking back as I write these words, I wonder if they weren't evil sneers of delight, the glee which comes to a woman's heart when she is once again reminded of how the female is the superior of the species.
Once breakfast was over and the dishes done, the ladies went uptown to visit the Japanese Peace Garden and then do some shopping, while I did more research on the Bofors anti-aircraft gun. One of those little know facts that I uncovered was that it took 6000 rounds from a Bofors gun to shoot down one Japanese aircraft, a fact that I'm fairly sure less than half the people living in America today know. The real question is why would I have to know that obscure fact, and the answer is simply, someone, someday, on one of my tours will no doubt ask that question. That's why I've decided to incorporate into my tour and preempt that situation. Trust me on this one, if you can think of some obscure fact or situation regarding the war in the Pacific, one of our visitors will ask about it, fully expecting an answer. That is why, "I don't know", is such a sentence to memorize. It really isn't nearly that bad, but sometimes you really do have to wonder about the questions people ask.
One the ladies returned, having diligently searched to discover the few stores open this morning, it was time to sit down to our New Year's feast. Recalling something about doing like the Romans do, we were having a German New Year's Day meal. Not that we don't every year with our pork and sauerkraut, but this year Linda was going all out.
That table included knackwurst, weisswurst, spatzle, red cabbage, sauerkraut, sweet potato salad, spicy mustard and horseradish. Though Katherine and Linda were sisters, their upbringing had been different, Linda being the one who had married into a family where strong flavors and hardy or spicy foods often graced the table. I had to admit that Katherine was a good sport, downing her share of good German cuisine, though I had to wonder if perhaps the beverages I had served before the meal might have endowed her with a bit more of an adventuresome spirit than normal. The most amazing thing was that we had all stuffed ourselves so much on the meal that we were just barely able find any room for dessert, which was a crispy German waffle dipped in chocolate.
In a moment of reflection, we paused to think about what next years Año Nuevo y Feliz Navidad meals would be. (Guess where we are planning to spend next winter.) Then it was time to do the dishes. it is amazing how those New Year's Resolutions work, within just a few minutes the two ladies were smiling, confident that their New Year's resolutions for them to do the dishes as soon as the meal was over had been met for at least one day. I won't mention what mine was, but I have to say that I sure was pleased at what I had seen them do so far.
Before long Katherine was leaving, leaving not only an empty space beside our RV, but also an empty space in our lives. It isn't that she will be far away, it's only a mile or so the the Fredericksburg RV Park, but there is just something about having family close by that makes life a little better. Being the only surviving child, it sometimes hurts to see Linda and her sister doing things to together, leaving me to ask what if.
Lest you think I am unhappy, I am most assuredly not, there are things that will always be with us and my memory of the brother leaving to go the Vietnam is one of those things. Maybe that is why I so much enjoy telling the story of what our ancestors did during the War in the Pacific. Best go for now, it has been a while since I posted and and I'd better not burn myself out on one post.
January 9 Wednesday
Wednesday always means two things, it is our last day off for the week, but also it means Linda has got up early so we can attend the weekly staff meeting. I had gotten up early because I wanted to do a little research on what had taken place this week during the war in the Pacific, but what I was really anticipating, was hearing Linda get up. Not from the point of view of listening to the bones creak and the yawns issue forth, instead it was from a desire to hear the music. Would that new alarm really work? Would the CD with the song, Linda, start playing at 7 AM? Would it be loud enough? Questions that would answered in a short time.
I watched the clock on the computer, marking each minute as it passed in the corner of my mind, then suddenly I could hear the sound of music coming from the bedroom. I eagerly waited, expecting her to come out and greet me with a big smile, thanking me for what I had done. Then I found myself waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more. My smile and thoughts of anticipation began to fade, I couldn't even detect any movement back there. Had she slept through it? Was the volume to low? What was wrong?
Gingerly tip toeing towards where she lay, one never wants to startle a sleeping grizzly, I peeked around the corner. She was laying there with her eyes closed while a huge smile beamed forth, this was certainly looking better than I had imagined it to be during the past several minutes. In a low voice I asked, "Are you awake?", to which her only response was to stretch a bit and murmur, "Ummm." When you've lived with someone for over forty years you know the little signals, and this was one of them. It was saying, you did good, Bob.
Not only had it come on just when it should have, it was the perfect song to get her day started. Smart man that I am, I married Linda didn't I, it had been set to play a CD, not the radio and the song was by Jan and Dean. A song that was sure to get Linda off to the right track, especially since the title was "Linda" which just goes to show that sometimes I do things right. I will admit to considering making the wake up song one sung by Marcie Blane, but somehow or other I think waking Linda up to the words from "Bobby's Girl" would not have lead to her being in a very good mood.
Once that job was done it was time to tackle breakfast. This morning I was fixing another omelet, but with a twist, going with cilantro and tomatoes as the main ingredients. Yet even though there was just a smidgen on onions, green peppers and garlic in the skillet, the aroma they generate was still simply amazing. Add the eggs, top with some Mozzarella cheese, serve with salsa and sour cream. the result was the same smile Linda was displaying when she awakened this morning. I had done good once again, though I'd bet money that going through Linda's mind was this thought, He is trainable, but how long is it going to last.
Once breakfast was over and the dishes done, it was time to walk up to the Bush Gallery to attend the weekly staff meeting. It is always interesting to learn what is going on behind the scenes at the Museum and gives us a real appreciation of just what it takes to give the visitor the experience they have. Those little things that completely surprise you during your visit don't just happen. Someone you will never see has put in a great deal of thought, time and effort to make that moment special. I wonder how many museums think this way: this is a wonderful place, we want our visitors to enjoy it. Here it is more like: we have a truly great Museum, but what are we doing to make it ever better.
Our part of making it better was to talk about ways they could recruit new RV volunteers, something they have a need for with the announcement the other volunteer couple would be leaving next week. On the way back to the coach we stopped by the Combat area to check out the work that had been done in the last few days. They are in the process of moving the combat re-enactment area, and the amount of work that has been done was amazing, much of it by local volunteers.
While I spent time writing my first post in a very long time, Linda was off shopping. For a woman who claims she doesn't like to go shopping she sure has been doing a great deal of it lately. Could her sister be influencing her in some way? My prediction is that it won't last, then again, is there any man who can understand any woman?
When she came in the door carrying a bag and sporting an enormous smile on her face, I could just guess that she had found something special, though I didn't have any idea as to what it might have been. I could guess what was coming next and she didn't disappoint me, "You'd never guess what I bought", being the first sounds I heard. This is one of those lose, lose, situations men are constantly faced with. If I say what is going through my mind, "I don't have a clue", she will will immediately accuse me of not paying any attention to what we need. If I make some wild guess (since I have no clue), I will be accused of not paying attention to our needs. If I were to actually guess what it was, something with odds akin to predicting the day the sun will stop shining, I would no doubt be accused of not caring enough about what goes on around the coach, otherwise I would have mentioned to her that, we, she, or I needed it. Like I said, it was a guaranteed no win situation.
True to form, I didn't guess what it was, heck I didn't have the faintest idea other than it wasn't too big and it wasn't bought at Walmart. It was in a brown paper bag and Walmart uses white plastics bags, see I do pay attention to some things. Being totally immersed in writing for the first time in over a month I wasn't really into what she saw as important, so soon she had retreated to the confines of the bedroom, where sounds that I would call unusual, began filter through the concentration beclouding my brain. Finally curiosity got the best of me, and back I went.
It turned out to be one of those space bag things where you get permanent wrinkles in clothes through the wonders of modern technology. This one was the type that hangs in the closet making it very easy to store enough clothes to overload the coach. You would have thought she was selecting the dress she was going to wear to meet the President, the way she went through the closet, taking something out, then putting it back. Eventually I caught on to what she was doing, it was my clothes she was selecting to be smashed and wrinkled, not hers. I had to admit that it wasn't a bad idea since I probably hadn't worn any of them in the last year anyway.
Once the air was sucked out of the bag and my clothes completed squashed, she proceeded to hang the bag in the closet. Or I should say tried to hang it in the closet. Since taking the air out makes it as stiff as the proverbial board, there was problem or two that arose. The first was the fact the bag was wider than the closet, but given the dimensions of a motorhome closet, we are not talking big, as in BIG, but simply big as in more than small. I could hear her struggling so I went back thinking I could help.
Bad thought on my part. She was not a happy camper, here she had gone to all the trouble of actually wasting time in her least favorite activity, shopping, and the object of her desires wouldn't do what she wanted it to do. (Believe me, at that moment there was no confusing me with what I am referring to as, the object of her desires.) Didn't matter what she did, it just was not going to work. I could see something welling up in her eye and I knew what was coming next. No, it wasn't a tear welling up, it was something more akin to kill, ravish, mutilate, and I was going to have to do something quickly before that poor bag became tattered pieces of plastic scattered around the bedroom.
Taking it from her hands just before they closed in on a death grip, I was amazed at how stiff it was. It was more like a piece of plywood than that a bag of clothes. Then it hit me, maybe it didn't have to hang in the closet, maybe it could simply stand in the closet. Shifting a few thing around, it was soon positioned in the back of the closet looking like that was the place it belonged.
That seemed to work, even if not exactly how she had wanted it to work, and it certainly did make a difference in the amount of room we had to hang clothes in the closet. It was one of those days when you wonder what is going to happen, then looking back, realize that it exemplified one of the reasons why you decided to just chuck your old life and live Life. That's not just a good thing, it's a wondrous thing, and our wish is that yours may also be a wondrous Life.