Because We Can - Fulltime RV'ing

Journal Archive 1/1 - 1/10 2011

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January 1 Saturday

A New Year Resolution

The problem with not writing is not always a lack of desire to write, but rather, the inability to write to the standards I set for myself. That's what has been plaguing me these past few months. The fire has been there but alas, the smoke has been so thick as to obscure it. Thus, resolved for 2011: It is more important to write than it is to wish to write.

Since we are officially old folks, or at least I am since my Appalachian child bride still has a ways to go, there was an early to bed New Years Eve celebration last night. That meant an early to rise morning for me. Meanwhile, the family grizzly was snuggled deep under the covers thoroughly enjoying her last moments of hibernation and trying to set the tone for the new year.

It used to be that when I first arose, it was time to do a little surfing the web, but ever since we got our new Droid X, it has turned into a time to learn something new about it. The more we use it, the more we wonder how we ever got along without it. To show just how ignorant we are of what it can do, today I discovered there are multiple home screens that can be accessed to either side of the main screen.

Once Linda was up and I had fixed breakfast, yep, I'm still doing the cooking three years after making that fateful resolution, we played together, with the droid that is. A few days ago I had installed the "ourgroceries" app, which we used when we shopped at Walmart yesterday. (Note to self, the afternoon of December 31st is not the time to go to Walmart.)

The app worked great, being much easier to follow compared to our usual paper list with some items circled and other items written every which way around the edges. Today Linda wanted to learn how to use this app, plus we wanted to set it up so she could enter items at her computer and it would automatically sync with the Droid list. Like I said, it's way better than a paper list.

Unfortunately, the way it works using the computer and the way Linda tried to use it resulted in a conflict. You know the kind where I say, "Why did you do that?" and she says "I didn't do anything, the computer did it." Before continuing I paused to consider the facts. She had been entering new items, then categorizing them. Suddenly all the items, even the ones I had entered a few days ago just up and magically disappeared into some dark corner of the universe. So what happened to the idea that computers only do what we tell them to do. After a bit of self talk, self preservation talk really, I bit my tongue and agreed with her, she didn't do anything, the computer had done it.

In the end all was well as she found that while the entries had disappeared they were not gone, and any item could easily be added to the list with a few keystrokes. The end result was a decision to use either the computer or Droid to add items to the list, but only the Droid to remove them from the list. Which is done as we shop and put the items into our cart. Now in a couple of days we will find out just how well that works.


Our view from the front, and yes, we still have our Christmas decorations up. Since we were back in California from the 21st to the 29th enjoying Christmas with our kids and grandkids, we decided to leave the decorations up through New Years Day. The great thing about the trip was that we spent virtually the entire time with one or the other of them, and had our best visit ever. The down side was that the planes were completely full, though with no connections it really wasn't a problem. I always get a window seat so the roar of the engines is balanced by the roar of the hibernating bear in the nearby aisle seat. The bear really was well behaved, because as Linda said of herself, "It must not have been too bad because I never once woke myself up."


I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how pleased Linda is with her new monitor, a Viewsonic LED, with the size chosen to fit perfectly in the space she has, making it bigger and far better, quality wise than her previous monitor which was going on six years old. Monitor technology had definitely improved during that time. Couple that with her new wireless keyboard and mouse, and she is not only warding off age lines from squinting at the screen, she's also typing faster. Maybe like a fine wine, she just gets better with age.


I'll leave with a food photo, the one of our traditional New Years Day meal. Pork, sauerkraut, cooked apples, and keeping in line with our weightiest New Years resolution, cauliflower mashed potatoes. With Linda having a high school class reunion coming up in late May, the pressure is on me to look great lest she cast her eye on one of her ex-classmates and ponder trading in her "old man" for a newer model.

It's forecast to get down near freezing tonight and not warm up much tomorrow. The reason for that statement is that during the past few days we have seen a number of RVs come into the park with license plates from midwestern states. You know, the people who are snowbirds and leave for warmer weather immediately after Christmas. A number of them have been out in short sleeves and shorts with the recent warm weather, but the question is, how will they dress for tomorrow? Till then, may the New Year find all of us fullfilling our dreams, because we can.

January 2 Sunday

A cold day in Livingston

Yesterday we were joking about how the weather in this part of Texas was so nice, reminding us of what we had enjoyed those many January's in California, so what does it do today? Decides that January in East Texas means winter, drops to 32 overnight and doesn't stick its head above 50 but for more than a couple of hours during the height of the day.

When Linda came out this morning with her hair actually looking decent, I asked if she had brushed it. Learning she had not touched one hair on her head, I almost remarked, "Well maybe it froze in place last night, it was so cold." Not that it was was that cold, but I could tell from the way she was acting that it was too cold for her. With the electric heater on low overnight, it was only 55 in the front of the coach this morning, so who knows what it was in the back with no heat.


Breakfast was eggs under a mound of veggies, and then it was off to church. We had really enjoyed the two prior services we attended at the First Presbyterian Church of Livingston even though there was nothing contemporary about the services. In fact they were about as traditional as could be. Traditional in this case meaning an almost exact duplication of the small country Presbyterian church services we had each gone to while growing up.

As we reflect on all the churches we have attended during our travels, it's amazing that here, in this small church with only 15 people at the early "informal" service which we have attended and around 50 at the second service which has a choir, etc., the pastor, Galen "Joe" MacDonald, delivers a message every bit as dynamic and compelling as we have heard in most mega churches with their thousands of worshipers. Life is so much like prospecting, the more places you look, the more likely you are to find a unexpected treasure.


Speaking of the unexpected, after lunch I sat down to live up to that new homepage article I had posted on New Years Day, the one about writing is better than wishing to write. No sooner had I announced my attentions to Linda and begun to write, than there came a knock at the front door. As I pecked away, Linda answered and I caught the fleeting sounds of a conversation. Then she was calling me over to the door, and that was how I meet Hector, a long time reader who has sent us a number of emails over the years.

Linda always says things happen for a reason, and looking back, that was precisely what this was. As we talked Hector mentioned just how much he enjoyed my style of writing, which was exactly what I needed to hear on this day. It's things like this that make Life worthwhile. I give the world a glimpse into our Life and get a wonderful compliment, Hector gives a compliment that encourages me to continue sharing our Life in the Bob style just when I need it the most. Never, never try to tell Linda coincidences just happen, she knows better.


Not being sure what we would run into during this past summer's trip to Alaska, we decided to let the only plant we were carrying, an amaryllis, live out its life at our daughter's home. Then when we were back in California over Christmas last week, Linda got starts from a Christmas Cactus that was her mother's and is at least 50 years old, and also from a strange little plant that was my mother's, and is one of those - you can only kill with love since no matter how much you neglect it, it will thrive - type of plants.

We'd bought two small flower pots a few days ago, and yesterday I brought her bag of potting soil up from the bay so it could warm up. Today she trimmed the ends, let them set for a couple of hours to lightly callous over, them planted them. It will be interesting to see what happens given the wide swings in temperature in the very front of the coach where we currently have them setting.

Here we are, starting new things from old in so many ways, whether it be plants or where we live. It is amazing how many things there are to do when you move, vehicle registration and drivers licenses are just the tip of the iceberg. The funny thing is that almost as fast as we cross things off the list, we think of new things to add. I guess where there is a will, there is a way, and that is another thing we need to take care of. Even now, the to do list grows longer.

January 3 Monday

A little of this, a little of that


We are learning why there are thousands of Escapees, but only a relative handful who actually live in Livingston. Yes, the nature of most SKP's is to be a roamer, but this is the south and this is the winter. We are here to complete all the bits and pieces of becoming Texans, then we will be moving further south towards the valley. The thermometer told the story as to why this is probably the case with many people. It was just plain cold this morning.


This documented low temperature resulted in several things, one of which was the above. The image has been intentionally blurred to protect the identity of the creature shown, but is safe to assume from the sounds emanating from that vicinity, it was an animal with the scientific name: Ursus arctos horribilis. By the way, that is not a cocoon enveloping it, it was me playing the dutiful mate, placing my half of the blankets and comforter over it when I got up.

It should also be reported that the little woman has now slept in past 9 AM on 66% of all the mornings this year. When she did make her appearance it was a fairly good imitation of a dervish in overdrive. Her entrance into the front room was accompanied by her clothes fluttering behind her, and great exhalations of breath as she stated it was 46° back there. I thought she should be warm, what with the two pairs of socks on her feet, the stocking hat on her head, and multiple layers of clothing between, but I was wrong. Soon she was wrapping a blanket around her already over dressed midsection, and grabbing for the coffee which I was in the process of making.

Once the coffee was made and a hot cup cradled in her hands, she emphatically announced, "We are going shopping today for you know what!" Didn't really matter whether I knew what, "what!" was, or not, what I did know was that this was one of those times when nothing I could say could possibly be right, so I just kept my mouth shut. We were expecting a UPS delivery today, so we spent the morning and early afternoon working at our computers. She beginning the task of getting back into selling items on EBay, while I worked on getting back into writing form.


When the UPS shipment hadn't arrived by mid afternoon, she announced it was time to go shopping. Once again we were flabbergasted by the number of people shopping at the Livingston Walmart. Maybe there aren't any other stores in town, or the Walmart is simply that busy, or perhaps today was old people's shopping day because we sure saw enough of them. Hey, many of those people looked like they were in their late 60's or early 70's, you know, really old people unlike we youngsters.

Our first purchase was a folding chair. With only three chairs suitable for use at the dining table, it is either guests bring one of their own, or I sit on the Euro-lounger foot stool while eating. We knew it couldn't be any wider than 18" or it wouldn't fit where we wanted to store it. Then Linda announced she had forgotten the tape measure, but it took only a moment to realize that if we couldn't bring the tape measure to the chair, we would take the chair to the tape measure. Selecting the chair we wanted, we put it in our cart and set off for the tool section where we used one of the many tape measures waiting to be sold to confirm that it was indeed 18".

Next it was off to the back of the store to fulfill Linda's morning pronouncement, "We are going shopping today for you know what!" She'd already checked on-line and confirmed that this Walmart had queen sized electric blankets in stock, but look as she might, she could not find what she was looking for. Finally I asked one of the employees who was restocking items in that department, and we were quickly in an aisle lined with boxes of electric blankets. Where they were located was three rows beyond the rest of the bedding, mixed in with the rows of plastic containers. Didn't seem to a logical product placement to us, but since no one else had managed to find them either, we had a huge selection to pick from.

I'd mentioned previously how much we like the grocery list on the Droid, well today I learned the other side of that. We had checked everything off but the produce when it happened. Linda put something into the cart that was not on the list, causing me to pipe up with, "That was not on the list." In hindsight I might have noted she gave me a hard glance immediately thereafter, but like they say, ignorance is bliss.

The next time an item went in that wasn't on the list, I said those words again while sporting a big grin. suddenly I found myself face to face with an enraged grizzly. Spuing from clenched teeth were the words, "Don't ever say that again." Thank goodness I didn't say something like, "Sensitive, aren't we?" I thought about it, but self preservation took over, so I meekly nodded my head, realizing that man will never understand woman, and repeated her words several time to myself, hopefully making a permanent impression on my brain and mouth.


Back at the coach, Linda checked the UPS package tracking webpage and saw our package was listed as "end of the day". Sure enough, it was right around 5 o'clock when she saw the UPS truck, and soon she was a very happy young lady. When we were back in California she had shipped her sewing machine to our site here, not because she wants to do lots of sewing, but because it is so hard to do any sewing without it. She's actually a great seamstress, once even tailoring a sports coat for me, plus making lots of the kids and her clothes during those early years of marriage when stretching a dollar was something of a necessity. She may have had to give up the stand I'd modified for her sewing machine, but I sense that won't keep her from working some of her magic.


Our neighbors left early this morning, and when no one pulled in during the day it left the opportunity to take a photo of our site. But that is not really what is the most important thing about this photo. Look at the road sign. We've caught our dream, have you caught yours? Don't be someone who worries about all the places you can't go because of the ever increasing price of fuel, take off and be the person other people dream of being like. That motto at the bottom of every page isn't something to dream about, it's something to do. "Life is not a dress rehearsal, Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early."

January 4 Tuesday

Small town tasks


There is one task that I take care of on a daily basis, taking out of the trash. The dumpster is up near the office, and it is a monster, with sliding doors that defy the efforts of some of the older people in the park, since there are bags of trash left beside the dumpster on occasion. Besides offering varying degrees of resistance to sliding open, it sometimes provides more music than a heavy metal band as it does open. The only good things about it are that it is never full and the top is open, so with a little imagination, the task can be made into more than just a trip to the dumpster.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc, note my actions as displayed in the above image. No noise and a bit of a challenge to boot. Looks easy but actually it is not. The weight of the trash in the bag can vary immensely from time to time, necessitating changing the amount of oomph behind the shot. Besides, when you're and old retired guy like me, you have to take your fun where ever you find it.


The other day I alluded to the fact that where there is a will there is a way, and that was one of the things we wanted to do today. As we have learned, in Livingston there are people who really attuned to the needs of SKP's. Carol Richards, besides being a SKP herself, is one of them.

We were amazed at how much information she needed, especially since it has been so many years since we had our wills written. The other thing was how much simpler the probate process is in Texas compared to California where the probate process literally takes years. We've read about the need to look at more than merely the ease and cost of drivers licenses, vehicle registration, and/or income and sales taxes when choosing a domicile. Now we've had a small taste of what that means.

Another thing Carol mentioned was that when titling our vehicles we could choose the right of joint survivorship option. We hadn't done this and she gave us the name of someone to ask for at the DMV office if we chose to do that. We did want that, and later when we were out we took care of it. It's one of those things that would have been cheaper to have done in the first place, as the change was $28 per vehicle, though we only did it for the motorhome. Live and learn.


Another of our tasks, or I should say another of Linda's tasks was to continue to change our address. These things keep coming out of the woodwork it seems, even though we really don't have any woodwork, at least baseboards, in the coach. One of the problems is that there are so many of the entities we deal with are on an email basis. We still need to get our mailing address changed with them even though we receive no mail, so Linda has been busy trying to track them down.


In a way I wish I had been writing the Daily Journal since we arrived in Livingston as it would have documented all the steps we have been taking in becoming real Texans. This was another of those steps, though it wasn't what it seems. We use a nationwide bank, so getting those accounts changed had previously involved a phone call, and later a visit to a branch for something totally unrelated, but which ended up with a number of additional changes. As Linda commented, the phone and website changes we made obviously weren't as deep into the accounts as you can do in person.

The visit to this bank tied in with our changes in healthcare insurance policies. Linda's new policy was HSA qualified, so that was what she was doing, and doing, and doing. It turned out that the banker she was working with had been here for two years and this was the first HSA she had ever set up. While Linda spent more than a hour with her as the lady made phone calls to another branch as problem after problem can up, I walked around downtown Livingston.

In the end the account was set up, the lady learned how to do it much faster in the future, we got a hint that the whole heathcare insurance situation would probably be far better if the government just made medicare mandatory for everyone from birth to death, and Linda commented that her banking experience was small town USA personified. Oh, and I discovered during my walkabout that Livingston and Polk County were once very different from today, as witnessed by the fact that the only veterans memorial at the Courthouse is the Confederate memorial.


Our last stop was at the library where we applied for our card, and checked out our allotted two items. The two item limit is until we receive our card in the mail which should only take a couple of days. Maybe we are getting over confident, but it seems that our list has dwindled to the point of being nonexistent. The problem with that is everytime we think we have all the items on the list completed, we discover another one we had overlooked. Back in the days when my work was causing us to transfer fairly frequently, Linda had all this down to a science. Now after spending nearly 30 years in the same place, she is a little rusty.

At the end of the day we discovered a problem, the file folder with the title to the Explorer and also, all the address updates Linda had made, was missing. Fortunately there were no children present as we held a conversation about this. Seems that I never help her find anything that she misplaces. Instead, I only point out that it was misplaced. My comment about if she would tell me where to look for whatever she lost I'm sure I could find it, was definitely not the right thing to say at that moment.

Once all the searching was over, including a trip out to the Explorer by me and two trips by Linda, all three of which took place in a thunderstorm, the missing folder had still not turned up. Then Linda came up with the bright idea that maybe it had been laid on top of the files in her file drawer and had fallen down behind the drawer. And low and behold, there it was, but not on the floor, rather she had filed it at the very back end of the drawer. It was a great end to the day.

January 5 Wednesday

A few odds and ends


There is more to this than meets the eye, and in fact it is somewhat of a continuation of last night's Nancy Drew mystery. I guess the actual title would be a Linda Sue Mystery, The Case of the Misplaced Socks. But before we get into that, first an update on the weather. In spite of the thunderstorms of last night, it was 62 outside when I got up this morning, meaning that since we bought the electric blanket, it's been in the 50's and 60's every night. Maybe we should buy another umbrella so it won't rain any more.

Now back to the story of the vanished hosiery. I know they don't fit my feet. I know I couldn't get them on my feet even if I wanted to. I know I didn't take them off last night. So tell me why should "she" suggest that the departed duo should be due to factors known only to me?

She never did find the pair she was looking for, though why she couldn't have found them looking through the laundry bag was beyond me. When we were folding the clothes after they were washed and dried, there were six pairs of her socks in the wash. How many times a day does the little woman change them. Or possibly more pertinent, what would her feet smell like if she wore them for more than a day? That may be a question I am better off not trying to learn the answer to.


Another photo where there is more than meets the eye. You'll note a lack of originality today. Notice the darker color of the ground around my feet as opposed to a short distance away. That's not Photoshop magic Toto, that's what the ground in Kansas looks like after a hard rain.

It started with a knock on the door. It was Jim, our next door neighbor. Holding up a pair of pliers, he said, "You might want to use these before a sinkhole swallows your RV, you've got a geyser back there." Actually, he was right on the money, though the degree of the problem and the time to the catastrophe he was alluding to were a wee bit off.


The problem turned out to be something I thought I had fixed back before Thanksgiving when we were in West Texas. The water hose had developed a leak at the fitting and I had replaced hose fitting, solving the problem, or so I thought. Now it was back again, though it may have more to do with the lack of a hose clamp rather than a bad hose.

After examining the fitting, Jim concurred with my analysis, so it was off to the Walmart to buy a clamp since neither of us had one on hand. The shopping expedition turned out to be an all afternoon outing, so we will be using the water pump until tomorrow, and daylight allows for the second fix to the problem. The plan is to use Linda's hair dryer to shrink the hose around the fitting, them put the clamp on with the result being no more leak. Hopefully the end result will be my uttering the phrase made famous by Col. John "Hannibal" Smith of "A Team" fame.


Today's Journal started with "A few odds and ends", and already we have come to the end, both to the day, and to this post. Linda said the sunset was awesome while I was cooking dinner, but for some reason I never even looked outside. Imagine my surprise when I downloaded her photos and this was one of them, and it has not been enhanced in any way.

I wonder how many times we get so involved in the little tasks of daily living that we neglect to pause and view the big picture. How easy it is for us to find reasons not to do things and never know what we are missing. Five years ago yesterday we took delivery of our coach, an experience I will never forget.

It was a short drive on casino roads from the Boomtown Casino parking lot to the Boomtown RV Park. I was sure the coach was wider than roads, and when I arrived at our site, it took me three attempts to park on the asphalt rather than the grass, and that was in a pull thru site to boot. In the ensuing years we have traveled many miles and stayed in innumerable places, yet the adventure has never gotten old. Doing "IT", that is, taking the step that resulted in the Life we now live, was the best thing we have ever done, and we know for a fact it has added many years to our lives. It goes to prove that even if you dream big dreams, those dreams can come true.

January 6 Thursday

A special day


Maybe it is an old woman eating breakfast and still in her nightie, or at least what passes for her night clothes. But understand that is my old woman, and a very special one she is. Today is a special day for us because it was 44 years ago tonight that we met on a blind date.

I had a car, my two college roomates had two girls they wanted to take out. I was in my normal relationship status, totally unattached, which was normal for me since whenever I was around the female of the species my courage as well as my ability to think and talk clearly evaporated. Think of me as the antitheses of a lady's man. Then my roomates asked me to be their chauffeur so to speak. Ya, sure, you guys get the girls and I get stuck for gas. To show you my mental state, I was just looking for some gas money from them. First thing I know, one of them says wait a minute and goes to the phone.

When he comes back, he has a big smile on his face, and says how about they fix me up with a date. It shows the state of my finances at the moment when I hesitated, but then I decided what the heck, and as they say, the rest is history. Funny thing was that my date that night turned out to be a knockout with brains and a great sense of humor to boot, while theirs were dogs from the get go. The deal was sealed a little over ten months later when we were married.

That was when I learned why her Dad so amenable to marrying her off, she needed more work done on her mouth than a dental convention could handle. A little later I learned that you can take the girl out of Appalachia, but getting the Appalachia out of the girl was a life long task, if not more. It took even longer for me to realize that somewhere in her ancestral line there a grizzly bear, but then, nobody is perfect, even her, though I'd fight anyone who says she's not. In return she got a handsome, extremely intelligent, smart, wonderful, caring, considerate.... I could go on and on, or at least that is what I think she thought she got.


"I never thought I'd want it when we left," were her words as she checked out her sewing machine. With this being a day for memories, it was apropos for her to get her nearly 35 year sewing machine ready to once again sew. The two spool holder rods had broken off during shipping and a plastic plate that held the machine in the base of its carrying case had snapped out, as well as a small piece of trim breaking off, but otherwise it was good to go.

Super glue fixed the latter two, and a visit to a sewing machine parts website solved the first. She said that she never put two spools of thread on the machine at once, so she only needed to replace one of the rods. Then she found out that the cost of the shipping and handling was more than the cost of the part. A quick check showed that if she ordered two thread rods, which would replace both of the broken pieces, the parts would be more than the shipping. That's what she ordered, even though she only needed one, and the total cost of one with shipping was less than getting the second one with no additional shipping. As she did this I heard her muttering something about not liking to pay more for the shipping than for the product. It is logic like this has forever had men scratching their heads, and saying, 'I'll never understand women.'


With the dark glasses and especially the fact there are shoes on her feet, Linda may have thought no one would recognize her, but with that grizzly stare, it could only be her. It sure is going to be a change when we leave Livingston and she can't take a five minute walk and get the mail. If I'd just have known how happy that little daily activity would make her, I'd have saved the money I spent on a ring and just pointed out that if she lived with me, she could bring in the mail every day. Hindsight is so much better than foresight.


There is a song from the Sound of Music that has the line, "Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles", but if Linda had been the lyricist, that line would more likely have read, "Doorbells and sleigh bells and turnips in oodles." That lady does like her turnips, and I have to agree with her when she says about herself,"I may be weird, but I love turnips." To preseve whatever degree of marital bliss we have remaining, I'll refrain from mentioning which phrase or phases of that sentence I concur with. But I think the fact she didn't know I had bought the turnips for her until I started fixing them for dinner says it all.


To top off the day, I bought her a container of her all time favorite beverage, low sodium V-8. Back in those early days it wasn't low sodium, but times have changed, so that's what it is today. I don't know what her dreams of the future were 44 years ago tonight, but I do remember thinking that night this had to be the sweetest girl in the whole world and I hoped I wasn't making to be a fool of myself. Two weeks later we held hands as we left the movie, "Georgie Girl", and I wondered how I could have ever gotten this lucky. I guess at that time my motto would have been: "Life is not a dress rehearsal, Don't be afraid to laugh, love and ask that special girl out again."

January 7 Friday

It will be different now


After all the times Linda has been featured on these pages looking out the coach windows, I guess it was inevitable that my time would come, and no I am not bird watching, not even for the double breasted variety. We've been without neighbors to the right side for most of the past week, but yesterday a Dutch Star backed in. What had my curiosity up was I thought they had plates from different states on the coach and their toad.

That wasn't to be the case, both were registered in South Dakota. However, that didn't mean that all the questions were answered. Since there are only a handful of people who actually RV and live in South Dakota, I was trying to find out if this was one of the frozen few. The binoculars were to read the little decal on the back of their truck that the dealer put on so as to garner some free advertising at the buyers expense.

When I finally got the focus adjusted, it was early morning after all, I saw MO., so my hopes of finally meeting a real South Dakotan were once again dashed. All that took so long that Linda had time to get out her camera, though first she had to find it since she didn't know where "I" had put it. Then I was informed that the photo would be going into my blog. What can I say, she caught me in the act so what's good for a growling grizzly is good for an intelligent, handsome man.


In the late morning there was a knock on the door, which was another package being delivered. Linda is in 7th Heaven here at Rainbows End, what with every day seeming to be either a mail or package day. Just because she was deprived of the joy of opening these things for the first eighteen years of her life, does it mean I should have been deprived of the same thing for the past four decades of mine? I know what her answer would be, "Yes, and it isn't going to ever stop, so stop talking about it." Clint Eastwood sure nailed it on the head with that line, "A man's got to know his limitations."


The contents of the package were the reason for the title of today's Journal, things will be different now. The grandkids better watch out the next time grandma and grandpa are home, it may be their bowling scores rather than ours that get laughed at. Actually we are even more excited about the Wii Fitness Plus Board than the sports games. Something tells me it's going to be an eye opener, yet loads of fun at the same time. What we do know is that it is going to suck up some serious time, but time with benefits. And don't worry, the tale of the tape will probably be splashed in its full "gore-y" on these pages.


We saw a huge turnover in the park today, with many people pulling out this morning, then almost every spot filling up during the day. This was the view out our front window in the late afternoon, and it gave us both a chance to recall some fond times.

During our travels in Europe, the Smart car was a regular fixture, seen on the streets of many of the towns we visited. Over here we read all the derogatory posts in the various forums about the smart car, which helps us to understand why our country is in the shape it is in. Far too many people only want to say no and look to the past, rather than say let's try something new and look to the future. Not everything new works, but if you don't keep trying new things you're really going backwards. All those people who so emphatically post that the Smart Car can't be towed four down are right, they can't tow one four down. Just don't try to tell it to our neighbor across the street who is doing it. Seven days before my first micro-rant, I think that's pretty good, and it got my system all cleaned out as well.


Just had to show what we did in the evening. We'd said we wouldn't set the Wii up until tomorrow morning when the daylight would make it easy to see everything and we were both fresh. So much for that, and also, so much for setting up our personal Mii's before playing our first game. This was as good or better than we ever did against the grandkids, so maybe there is hope for us.

Later we tried out the tennis game, and just possibly set the all time record for most whiffs. From the way our arms felt afterward, any damage to our ego, was offset by the much needed exercise our arms received. Some people wish to be kids again, some people act like kids again and some people envy the former two. It's not so much what your body says you can do or can not do, it's what your mind says you can do. Are you a - because we can't - or are you a - because we can? We know which we are!

January 8 Saturday

Having fun


When you have something new, it becomes your focus, and that is what happened this morning. When you "play" with a Wii, you can either be a guest, or you can set up your own persona, called a Mii. Part of the fun is that you basically start with a blank character and select all the components from a palet: body size, shape of face, hair style, colors, etc., etc.. Here's Linda's alter ego getting ready for her first session of the Wii Fitness Plus.

Today we were not into working out, rather we just wanted to get an idea of what the Fitness Plus experience was like and where it placed us as far as our physical conidition. Mind you, this is all done while standing on a small platform and leaning one way or another, though sometimes it is simply standing as perfectly still as you can, maintaing perfect balance. The platform is quite stable, only so there is really no danger of falling, but when your Mii is having trouble balancing on the screen, you have to shift your weight on the balance board to keep your Mii from loosing its balance on the TV screen. Luckily it sounds more complicated than it really is.


As you can see, the Wii tells it like it is, the good, the bad, and the really ugly. Lest you think Linda is a klutz, it gave me the same comment after my session. The best part was all the laughs we had as we tried to do the various tests, like emulating a ski jumper, or walking a tightrope between two highrise buldings. Linda doesn't have any jumping ability, and I can't take two steps with falling off a tightrope. I don't know why she couldn't jump, but I am afraid of heights, so at least there was some excuse for my lack of performance, at least in my mind. As for Linda, maybe they got the title to that movie wrong, and it should have been, White Girls Can't Jump.


Linda sure did excel at one aspect of Wii, the part concerning the registration and warranty info. Now she just has to work on the physical part of the equation. I'd better add, so do I, or there is likely to be an Editor's note inserted here mentioning my results in great detail.

We really got a laugh from one thing the Wii "analyzed". Based on a few quick tests, it calculated our physical age. While not divulging the results, let's just say that some people are older than they appear and some are younger. Once we are both younger, then the numbers will appear, until then, we shall laugh, work out and become healthier, or that's what we hope to have happen. Time will tell.


Sometimes you just have to sit back just enjoy Life.


Sometimes you get so involved that you don't realize the beauty that is all around you.


And sometimes small challenges can bring joy.


Last Sunday we had that knock on the door, which turned out to be Hector, a long time reader of my ruminations. Tonight we enjoyed the hospitality of he and his vivacous wife, Lee, at their home on the shores of Lake Livingston. Sharing experiences, learning about their trip the past summer to the Canadian Maritimes, and enjoying a wonderful meal meant, Life lived as it should be.

January 9 & 10 Sunday & Monday

Not much going on

Cold, rainy and dreary is the best way to describe Sunday, just plain cold fits Monday to a Tee. Linda likes to use the term "hunker down" for this type of weather, since that is what we do. No church, no shopping, no walks, but no worries because we now have something to do that gives us some physical exercise.


That Wii is nothing but barrels of fun and laughs, especially for Linda when she kicks my butt in virtually everything we play on it. I always saw her as lithe, graceful and athletic, while she viewed herself through her schoolgirl eyes, viewing herself as gawky and clumsy.

Today she got to see just how poised and agile she was, what with results like the above. Well, maybe not too poised, as she was nearly falling down, since she was laughing so hard at how she was stomping me into the ground in our bowling games. When we first set the Wii up, I was bowling over 200 every game, but somehow I've lost my touch while she has gained hers.

I tried the longtime guy thing of claiming that outside interference was the cause of my being dethroned by a girl of all things, but she wasn't having any of it. Her, "I beat you again", followed by gales of laughter, then a giggled, "I can't help it, it's funny", which was followed by even more laughter.

Me, trying to salve my damaged male ego, "I just don't know what I'm doing wrong, but I'll get it figured out", implying that as soon as I get my touch back she is toast. She, "What's the matter, don't like losing", and I didn't even know that woman knew how to taunt.

Me, trying to regain the upper hand, "It's the camera on my hip, it's forcing my hand out further, so my throw is a little different." She, "So take it off, or is that just an excuse for the fact that I'm better at this than you?" Grizzly bear, ha, this was like a whole zoo full of mean mothers gathering together to stomp the you know what out of poor hapless me.

Me, "Since I usually wear it, and I might want to take some pictures, I'll just leave it on." I know that was about as lame as a horse with four broken ankles, but it was all I could come up with at the moment. She, "What's the matter, poor Bobby's getting beat by a girl and he doesn't like it so he tries to make excuses." Me, licking my wounds and hoping for better days in the future, "I guess you're just better than me".


There was a small amount of redemption gained when we switched to Wii Fit Plus and tried the ski jump again. Just like when we first tried it on Friday, Linda played the part of a giant snowball time after time as she failed at timing her jump when reaching the end of the ramp. Meanwhile, my efforts were in the 98 pound weakling area, but at least they were measureable jumps.

Alack and alas, my superior ability in that event was only fleeting, as by Monday afternoon she was out jumping me by 50 meters or more, as I couldn't seem to improve on my form, while she kept getting better and better. As she said, "This Wii is far more fun than I thought", then she added "I didn't think the space we had would be big enough to use it like we did at Jenny's (our daughter's house), but it is no problem." Maybe it's no problem for her, but what about me, her suddenly athletically deficient husband.


On Monday the golden touch seemed to desert her, but unfortunately, even with her diminished capabilities, her clueless husband couldn't take advantage of it, even though he had sneakily taken off his camera to get his form back. It must have been that my muscles had been imprinted with that bad bowling motion of yesterday, since I still couldn't beat her. And no, I didn't tell her that, I just kept muttering under my breathe, 'Your day's going to come babe, ... one of these days ... Pow! Right in the kisser!' Though the way it looks now, it's going to be another congratulatory kiss after she stomps me once again.


Another game, another shellacing at the hands of the bearded one. I have to thank one of Linda's Facebook friends for that line. She messaged Linda that she too had long hair on her Mii, but then realized it looked like she was wearing a beard when just the head shot was used. Linda chuckled at that, but also had a wary look in her eye. Me thinks that just might be a way to rattle her to the point of breaking her concentration and giving me a chance to beat her. Maybe it isn't fair, but so what, this is WAR!

I'd better also put in good word here for how dedicated Linda has been at working out by herself on the Wii, and not just playing games against me. For the first time that I can ever remember, she is saying that her muscle aches are good, that she is using ones that obviously haven't had much exercise. Suzanne Somers better watch out, there's a new kid on the block. If she keeps this up I may have to change from looking at her as a grizzly bear to thinking of her as my Brazilian Butt Babe.


Maybe that last comment was a little premature, as Monday afternoon she announced that she was going to make a fresh loaf of bread to go with our spaghetti that was for dinner. While she stood by the mixer, I got in my share of exercise. "I need some Splenda, -- no, not in the cupboard, from the big bag." "I'm out of whole wheat pastry flour, can you go down to the bay and bring up a bag." "The gluten is in a box at the very back of the pantry, can you reach it, I'm just not tall enough." "When you take the pastry flour back out to the bay, bring the regular whole wheat flour back up, the container is almost empty." Now you can see why I didn't have the energy to write the Daily Journal in the evening.


Was she ever proud of that loaf of bread, and rightly so!


Store bought bread is often touted as being so fresh and "squeezable". It doesn't get any fresher than this, and as for squeezable, this is the real thing, and at slightly over 2 pounds, it's the exact opposite of squeezable, but believe me, bread just doesn't get any better than this.


In fact it was good that we found ourselves eating multiple slices, but considering that the rest of the meal was broccoli, turnips (for Linda only), and my homemade spaghetti sausage sauce over semi-crunchy spaghetti squash, who was complaining. It was the perfect meal for a day when the temperature hovered around 37 all day. It was a day when we made the best of what we were given. Now if I can just get my Wii bowling form back, tomorrow will be even better, and I don't even have to beat her, I'd just like to consistently come close to her scores.

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