May 21 Saturday
At the Horse Park
This morning we were off to the Horse Park, and even though we got there a good while after it opened, we were still surprised by how few cars there were in the enormous parking lot, which made us glad we were here in the spring instead of summer. If you stay at the Horse Park Campground, be sure to get your tickets for the Horse Park at the campground store. You get a sizable discount on your admission tickets and the parking is free if you go during the months of the year they are charging for parking, which they are now.
Having been here before, Linda knew what she wanted to see, and with the Parade of Breeds starting in just a few minutes, we made a beeline for the Breeds Barn. While Linda watched, I wandered the grounds nearby. She always wanted a horse while growing up on the farm but never had one, so today she was making sure she was getting her fill of horses. It wasn't just the horses either, as Linda was just as excited about the original Annie Oakley costume this rider was wearing. On my part, after traipsing around I will say that if you don't like the smell of what horses deposit in piles on the ground, this is not the place for you.
I returned to the area just as the show as ending, but in time to take a photo of Linda taking a photo. She had a seat front and center, with a big smile on her face, so I knew she had a great time.
After the performance the horses are positioned around the edge of the area so the spectators can get up close and personal with them. There were six horses, and we made the rounds to see and touch all of them, with Linda doing the touching part. And yes, there are lots of photo's of horses today, but horses being what a Horse Park is all about, horses are what you get, along with pretty girls.
Speaking of pretty girls and horses, this is as close as the prettiest girl in the park got to actually sitting on a horse today. The best part was when she got off, or tried to get off. While we didn't have to call in a crane to hoist her up and off, it took several tries before she extricated herself from the riding position. I knew she was having a good time when she laughed about it, just like I was.
All that hard work of getting off the saddle called for some rest, so while I looked at a globe made from horseshoes, Linda found a chair to sit in. The chair had originally been part of one jump at a world equestrian championship held here in the late 1970's. The jump was called The Giants Table, with four chairs like this placed at the ends of a table. That must have really been something to see.
Horse come in all sizes, all of which they have at the Horse Park. Also, horses of all sizes need to be touched, something that Linda was glad to do.
One of the nice things about having been here before, was knowing that we wanted center front row seats for the Hall of Champions show. This is Funny Cide, who seemed to display his curious cide when it came to Linda.
Later we attended another Parade of Breeds because they exhibit different breeds at each show, meaning Linda once again got to do her thing. We still had the two museums on the grounds to visit, but with tickets good for anytime for the Showplace for Saddlebreds, we opted for the International Museum of the Horse today. It is huge, and Linda was getting tired, so we actually didn't see much of it, but that was okay, there is always the next time we visit the park, though something tells me the same thing happened the last time we were here.
Up to now it has been all Linda, but the second I saw this stagecoach, I remembered it from our last visit. It's a actual Concord Coach, but what makes it special is that it was used in Keene, New Hampshire and very well could have been ridden by my great, great, great grandfather who was from Keene. Connections are important.
By this time Linda was outside the museum waiting for me to get done, and I had simply walked through much of it, but I had to stop here and see the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown trophies of Secretariat, arguably the greatest horse of all time. And speaking of the Triple Crown, after returning to the coach we sat and watched the Preakness, where Linda picked the winner and my horse was so far back I didn't see where it finished.
Just as it was getting dark and we were watching a movie that had just gotten interesting enough for me to lay my book aside, the wind really started blowing. We are partially under a tree, with some branches over hanging the Winegard dish, and when they started blowing around, the picture began breaking up.
I could tell Linda was really into the movie, so up onto the roof I went to trim a few branches. What the wind was doing, was bringing rain, lots of rain, with thunder and lightening, which meant the roof wasn't the best place to be at that moment. Torn between what Linda would be like without seeing the end of the movie and being struck by lightening, I opted for the lesser of the two, and kept hacking away at the branches.
I returned to the coach with a triumphant smile, and also, still carrying the branches, only to discover it was raining so hard there was no signal. At least I had tried to get a picture for her Ladyship, who was gracious and only laughed at me, then took my picture. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early. You never know when lightening may strike.
May 22 Sunday
Not everyday in our Life is like the eternal vacation, visiting a Horse Park, or such. Most days as you know, we just live Life, doing a little of this and that as it strikes us, but always with the possibility of going into vacation mode at a moments notice. So after the long day of walking around the Horse Park yesterday, we decided that staying home was the order of the day today.
That didn't mean we were just going to be sitting around, after all we are heading back into the area where Linda grew up, meaning there are relatives and friends that will likely be visiting us. That meant some cleaning was in order today. But let me be very clear on this so as not to illicit multiple editor's comments, the coach is always kept clean, it just accumulated a bit of surface dirt, along with the normal clutter of living that needed to be cleaned up.
Linda was definitely into sweeping the floors, and try as I might, I couldn't get her to stop so the sweeper wouldn't be blurred in the photo. Knowing that she also has a tendency to disapprove of most of my photos of her sweeping, no butt or bodice shots for example, it makes catching her in the right pose at the right moment quite difficult. I figure the bare feet are in harmony with those hills we are heading towards, so they will be approved and I won't have to crop them out.
I did contribute to the moving of furniture, after which I headed back to the bedroom to stay out of the way. When I came back out I was greeted with, "So you've finally leaned to keep out of the way, have you." So it looks like I did good for once. Next came the oxy-clean, with all the appropriate muttering about nearly all the stained carpet being where I sit at the table. Just goes to prove not everybody is perfect, though I can't figure out for the life of me, how Linda manages to spill things on the floor and carpet near where I sit.
All that cleaning makes for a hungry girl, or at least one who remembers that we have nothing fixed for the most important meal of the day, dessert. That was when I was asked to get the chocolate squares out of the cupboard, and not realizing at the time that she was planning on baking chocolate chip cookies, I thought she was going to be doing some snacking. That was not to be, and she was good girl, at least as far as I know, with the chocolate only going into the cookies and not into the mouth. In a show real will power, I only ate one cookie and that was for dessert. Of course the fact that I totally pigged out on peanut butter, jelly, and crackers for dinner offset any any glory from not taste testing a cookie.
Due to the late unpleasantness between the canopy and the MotoSat, we are now using either the RV park's wifi or our Droidx for communications with the outside world via the Internet. We can use the Droid as a hot spot, or we can use it itself as the browser and for email. The few times we have been out and have needed to use it as the browser has shown a definite lack of knowledge about how it works on our part. We both rectified that today, and discovered that not only is it easy to use, but that the more that use it and the more sites you bookmark, the easier it gets. You might note that its touch screen is just a tad smaller than the touch screen I normally use.
In the late afternoon, we once again lost the DirecTV signal, and upon looking out side, I remarked to Linda that I could see the tops of the trees blowing. It wasn't long before the entire tree was being blown about, and shortly after the rain began to beat down, quickly increasing in intensity to a cloudburst rating. Checking the radar online, there was a red band moving right across where we were, with lots of yellow behind that.
For the next hour or so, rain was the order of the day, which led to the previously mentioned peanut butter pig out by yours truly. That also brought on some introspection, which resulted in the realization that the only person who can solve this problem is me. It's been a while since I wrote about "just do it", though it remains in the back of my mind at all times, particularly when I don't just do it. Like every time I interrupt Linda, though the result is an immediate redoubling of my efforts not to interrupt her.
This is a weighty probably in more mays than one, and I have decided to go public with it, just as one of our friends did. I know that we are supposed to have goals to help us, but that's not what I plan to do. Rather I will be taking the "Just do It" approach. As I learned from my cousin during our recent visit, it's not so much what you eat, it's how much of it you eat. Besides we actually fix rather healthy meals, I just eat too much of them.
That peanut butter was natural, 100 percent peanuts, and only peanuts, peanut butter, the jelly was sweetened with splenda, and the crackers were whole grain rye crisps. It was the part about half the jar of peanut butter and also of the jelly, along with almost a whole package of the rye crisps that was the problem. Makes me wince to admit that, but it looks like I deserve to be classified as a pig when it comes to eating, and it is time for a change, big time.
Laying it out, I see myself as flabby, fat bellied and on a road I don't want to go down. What happened to the thin, muscular, energetic Bob of a few years ago. The one who weighed 135 pounds and was a different man from the one I see in the mirror today. Now he's the kind of person that has to bend over when standing on the scale to see the numbers, and it's not because of poor eyesight. The number today is: 157.0, and it will be reported again next week, when I'll take any tenths of a pound I can lose.
Life is something we seldom think about, though with all the predictions of the world ending Saturday, it was interesting to wake up this morning and find that nothing had changed. Tonight we received word that Linda's Aunt Ellen, who was always Linda's favorite aunt, had passed at age 102. It gets one to thinking about their own Life. While I didn't know Aunt Ellen nearly as well as Linda, I did know that she didn't live Life like a dress rehearsal, she lived it to its fullest all those years.
That's why I took a look at my own Life, realizing that this is it, there isn't a second chance, and pigging out on peanut butter and jelly doesn't only mean I will feel miserable in the morning. How many time have we said or thought, 'it's my life, I'll live it the way I want'. It looks like I have taken a little time to reflect on what those words actually mean. It looks like a few changes are in order.
May 23 Monday
Back on the Bourbon Trail
What a difference a few hours can make. From the thunder, lightening, and heavy rain of last evening, to the sun being out this morning. Parked down the road is a group of Alpha owners, the Alpha Sunrisers Club, and from the looks of things, it appeared they were also planning on taking advantage of the sunny day to do some sightseeing. There were eight motorhomes and one 5th wheel with a large banner out front that proclaimed, Keeping the Dream Alive.
Speaking of groups, here is a group that was touring the Woodford Reserve distillery in the search of the best bourbon on the bourbon trail. Note that some of the people seem to hang back, while others are right up front, seemingly hanging on every word the guide says in the never ending search for that "best" bourbon.
Others were more interested in the old buildings and their history than the bourbon. I will say that as far as the buildings are concerned, the Kentucky limestone buildings here, along with several warehouses constructed of orange tile were certainly different from the other distilleries we have visited. This is also the smallest distillery on the trail, producing approximately 100 barrels a week.
History buff taking a photo of the copper kettles used in the triple distilling process. This is the only triple distilled bourbon and each of these copper kettles is used for one of the distillation steps. It is interesting how each place we have visited is able to put its own twist to the process of making bourbon, the result in each instance being the best bourbon on the market.
Okay, so maybe that fellow who was taking all those photos of buildings and equipment needed to step back on occasion and remember the real reason he was touring the distillery. I think today was Linda's payback day for all those photos I took of her at the Horse park.
Woodford Reserve is different from the other distilleries, not only in size, but also in the fact they have just one bourbon, Distillers Select. They determine when the barrel has aged to perfection by sampling the barrel, so they do not have a set number of years for aging, above the 2 years set by law to be able to label the product bourbon. We both really enjoyed this bourbon, so however old it was, it was definitely okay with us. Linda called this photo she took, A John Shot, after the photography lessons we received during the canal boat trip a few years ago.
Remember all that talk yesterday about portion control? This was lunch today, with each of us having a package of cheese, but splitting the apple and almonds. Breakfast was definitely bigger than this, and so will be supper, but Linda is going to do her darndest to make sure I live up to those words. I hope I haven't unleashed a monster.
The other stop was at Buffalo Trace, which is a distiller and bottler of many different types of distilled spirits, as well as a custom bottling house for smaller producers who don't have their own bottling equipment. Part of the tour included getting a close up look at one of their three hand bottling buildings.
The tasting was different also, as instead of them pre-selecting the two bourbons we would taste, we got to choose from four variations of bourbons, as well as a vodka, but you could only taste two. We opted for the bourbons, getting four different kinds between us, which really allowed us to understand the wide variety in bourbon that is available. This mornings tasting had been of the sole product they produced, and now this one had almost too many choices. The more you taste, the easier it is to separate out the, really likes, from the, likes not quite as much. On this tour we did have one loud mouth know it all, from Kansas of all places, and when he threw down his first sample and immediately started choking and coughing, there was more than a few giggles heard from the rest of group.
On the way back to the RV park, we had four of these trucks pass us on I-64. I know they had a Nationwide Series Nascar Race on Sunday and that this week's race is in Charlotte, so it looked that that was where they were headed. We've seen the trucks hauling the cars of the different Nascar Series during our travels, but this was the first time we have seen the actual Nascar trucks. Considering the speed at which they were traveling and how they moved in and out of traffic, it was either former drivers or wannabe drivers behind the wheel of them.
In the early evening, just as predicted, a line of heavy thunderstorms moved through the area. This doesn't really do them justice as they were just forming at this time and that dark red band grew much larger. It was still some distance away at this point, and while we were not under a tornado watch, after what devastated Joplin Sunday, we wanted to be aware of what was happening with the local weather.
Just as happened the previous two nights, our DirecTV gave us warning of the storms approach, breaking up just before the rain hit. It must have something to do with the rain high up in the air that causes this to happen before we first see it raining. Moderately heavy winds, rain by the bucketfull, and over a long time, but eventually it slowed. The radar showed a second band approaching, and later it started all over again. At least there no hail accompanying the storm so we were lucky in that respect.
Tomorrow is our last day in Kentucky and we will once again be hitting the Bourbon Trail, getting our last two passport stamps. You thought we were doing it for the bourbon? No, it is for the passport stamp filled booklet, which when sent in, get us each a free tee shirt. Okay, so they did achieve their goal of introducing us to their products, which is the real purpose of the Bourbon Trail, funny how that works.
In case you are wondering, but most likely weren't, the first "just do it", portion control day was a complete success. Well it was if you discount the bourbon tastings and also the bourbon balls that we got as part of our tours today. Other than that, no between meal snacks, and real honest to gosh small portions at each meal. Now if I can just keep it up for the rest of the week, maybe it is going to work.
May 24 Tuesday
The end of the Bourbon Trail
You would think that after all that hard rain last evening, the Explorer would be spotless this morning. Instead it was spotted in a major way. Linda ascertained the direction of flight by noting that that my rear window and the hood on her side were well decorated, especially the hood. If they had tried to get the windshield, it didn't stick, hopefully because of the Rain-Ex I had applied a few weeks ago rather than poor aim on their part.
Today we're heading over to visit the last two stops on the Bourbon Trail, more to get the Bourbon Trail stamps than to taste the bourbon, I think. On the way we passed this castle set high on a hill over looking the road. The interesting thing was there were no signs saying anything about it. Looks like we will have something else to check out the next time we are here, which we will be doing, the next time we are back East.
Our first stop was at Wild Turkey, where we arrived just in time to watch the last few minutes of a video, then partake of the tasting. Wild Turkey turned out to a pleasant surprise, even though we didn't taste their signature Wild Turkey 101 bourbon. The Russell's Reserve Small Batch 10 Year was highly rated by both of us, but the clear winner for me was the Russell's Reserve Rye, a bottle of which left with us.
The big smile is not because of the bottle under her arm, nor is due to the bourbon samples she drank, at least not totally. It is what she has in her hand, a wild turkey call, and it sounded just like a turkey. For a awhile it was easy to know which part of the gift shop she was in, and no, she didn't buy it, though I certainly thought she was going to.
The other day at the Horse Park, it was Linda who climbed onto a barrel, today it was my turn. It isn't everyone who gets to ride a rocking wild turkey, but now I have joined their ranks. I had the same problem Linda did, finding the getting on was easier than the getting off. Linda's comment that she wished she had a movie of my several unsuccessful attempts at getting off said it all.
Our last stop of the day was at Four Roses, where we were surprised that because they draw their water from a nearby river, they don't operate the distillery in the summer, though they do bottle year around. It was also interesting that they only bottle to fill orders, with no product warehoused. Did you know that the fermented sour mash is called distiller's beer, and the the first still is called the beer still? If not, now you do.
As always the tour ended with a tasting. Here is our tour guide, closely followed by one of the people on the tour who wants to make sure they are first in line for the tasting.
Uncovering the identity of that person who was first through the door in order to be the first person to taste. Linda has been surprised that she has found some of the bourbons we tasted over the past week to be something she would have again. This is a woman who can taste the barrel in a glass of red wine before it reaches her mouth, so you know the bourbons on her approved list are velvety smooth and extra mellow, if nothing else.
Bourbon tastings are always interesting. Some people are quiet, drinking their samples and fading away. Others take a sip, and set the glass with bourbon still in it, onto the counter while making a face. Some act like they know what they are doing, and then there are the ones who make other people wish they could be like them. I am blessed to married to one of the latter type, and as you can tell, she does enjoy the tasting experience.
Before we knew it, our Bourbon Trail adventure was over, our book full of stamps and our cabinet stocked with a few more bottles. Just another day living Life on the road.
May 25 Wednesday
Across the Ohio and into the hills
The coach sanitary engineer plying her profession. Calling hours for Linda's aunt were to be this evening so we wanted to arrive in the early afternoon at the latest, which meant an earlier than usual start. No problem, and we were were on the road just past eight, after dumping and stopping for diesel. The nice thing was diesel had come back down in price since we arrived in Lexington, though who knows what it will be in Ohio.
The route we chose would be taking us across I-64 to Huntington, West Virginia, where we would cross the Ohio then take RT 7 to RT 33 close to the land where the woman I married, was from. Down here folks are quick to point out there is a lot of difference between West Virginia and Ohio. Interesting, since one state is on one side of the Ohio and the other state on the other side of the river, with the land and the people being the same.
No sooner had we crossed into Ohio than Linda warned me of several things. The first was don't pay any attention to the GPS, instead follow the road signs for RT 7. The second was that we were going to be doing some convoluted driving for a while. Take this intersection for example. Just a few miles back we had crossed a bridge from W. VA. to Ohio, now to go straight ahead was to cross the river back into W. VA, meaning we were now going in the opposite direction we had been. In the end it all worked out and we were headed north on RT 7, but it was certainly interesting at times getting to that point, especially with Linda constantly muttering, "I don't know what it is doing," it being the GPS.
We like small towns, especially older small towns and we uncovered a gem on RT 7, the town of Gallipolis. We didn't stop today, but driving down the main street of town seeing all the marvelous old buildings, we knew we would be back some day to spend time here.
The last major turn that leads to the land where Linda is from. When I was a boy, people from Ohio were Ohioan's and people from West Virginia were were hillbilly's. Then two things happened, I met Linda, and sometime later we had good friends who were from West Virginia. That was when I discovered that the opposite of those descriptions can also be true.
We are staying on Linda's cousin's properties, and setting up I had help. Actually it was a slight hindrance but there was no way I could term it that. Bootsie, the barn and garage cat, decided that chasing the awning rod that I use to place the wooden blocks under the jacks was more fun than chasing birds and mice. She was so curious that Linda had to distract her when I finally lowered the jacks so she wouldn't be under the coach pawing at them as they came down. Looks like we won't have to worry about goblins and such in the night while we are here, Bootsie will get them.
First thing after getting set up was to head to the post office to pick up the mail, so I would have the hearing aid that we sent back to be fixed. Gosh was it good to be able to hear once again, and it again reminded me of what all I probably missed hearing over the years. Next we checked out the local grocery store. In small town USA it can be different than in the big city, so Linda got a laugh from this package of mushrooms.
At the grocery, the question of what was for supper came up, but what better place to be to solve that problem. This is dinner, sausage patties, grilled zucchini and corn, with something to wash it down. Long time readers know that Bob Evans sausage is our absolute favorite, and where he started was down here in the hills of southern Ohio. They had four kinds of Bob Evans sausage on the shelf and we opted for one we haven't had for a long time, Spicy. As Linda says, it is spicy, not spicy hot, but as in spicy flavorful, and it is as good as it gets. It looks like there will be a lot of Bob Evans in our near future.
In the late afternoon we drove up the hill to Linda's cousin's house where Linda's other cousin's from her aunt's family were staying, most of whom she hadn't seen in decades. Linda had a great time, as did everyone, then someone mentioned that Linda had done a home delivery of our grandson while on the phone to 911. As you can see, Linda does enjoy telling about what happened.
In the evening we went to calling hours, but it was a celebration of Life not a mourning of death. In her 102 years Linda's Aunt Ellen had touched the lives of many people in very special ways, including Linda, and she had remained quite active up until she was 100. It reminds me of the people who write in their RV blogs about living the fulltime life because they don't want to go out of this world with a whimper, but instead they want to arrive at the promised land worn out from all they did, yelling, "What a ride Life was." In her own special way, Aunt Ellen was that kind of person, and her last words were were something to the effect, here comes the white chariot, I can go now.
May 26 Thursday
Life goes on
We were joking with Linda's cousin today that we didn't realize that this "RV site" had a bonus, a lake front view. This photo taken later just shows the dry lake bed, but after raining much of the night, it was full this morning. Just another unexpected pleasure discovered on the road called The Fulltiming Life.
This morning was the funeral for Linda's aunt, and it was inspiring listening to her four grandchildren recall their special memories of her, and it was easy to understand why Aunt Ellen would be everyone's favorite, whether they were a relative, a friend or simply an acquaintance. She was indeed a very special lady, one who graced this world for 102 years.
After a funeral there is always the meal, and this one was very good. Whoever thought to fix the plate of veggies that included gherkins, radishes, olives and dill pickles went home with an empty dish courtesy of yours truly. That's my definition of real comfort food.
There was also time to visit, and Linda had a great time, not only visiting, also taking photos of her first cousin's, cousin's one removed, and cousin's twice removed, who were there. Years ago the annual reunion brought families together. Today with everyone scattered form one end of the country to the other, it is funerals that have seemingly replaced the reunion as that time of gathering and visiting.
We also enjoyed showing the coach and talking about how we live the fulltime Life. It is interesting how everyone looks at Life, each of us enjoying it to its fullest. Cheryl lives on the water near Sarasota, Florida, while Jim lives in the Virgin Islands, places many people would gladly live. While we can't drive to the Virgin Islands, we can choose to live just about anywhere we want, and should we tire of it, we can can move on, or if we really like it, we can stay as long as we want. The important thing is to live and not merely go through the motions, remember: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early.
May 27 Friday
Far better than expected
Yesterday I had mentioned what a great RV site this was because a lake front view had appeared overnight. Here is another of the special things about it. It comes with its own special feline friend. Friendly doesn't begin to describe Bootsie, though that affection is only dispensed on the occasions she appears from wherever it is she disappears to. We are definitely getting our "cat fix' during this stay, especially me.
A very special person. A former college roommate. The best man at our wedding. And had he met Linda first, that role would likely have been reversed. Mike lives in the area and was nearby when I called him, so he was able to stop by for a few minutes. In a former life I was a big time racing fan, something Mike was, and continues to be, so he and his wife are off to Indianapolis for the 500 this weekend, but hopefully we can spend some time with them before we leave the area. Sometimes I think Linda had me come to her class reunions more because I would call Mike and we would visit with them, than for the actual reunion. Not really, but however Life would have turned out for Linda, she would still have been the same wonderful person with the million dollar smile and heart of gold.
One of Linda's cousin's hobbies is cars, anything to do with cars. And since our Explorer has a few things that would be classified as needing repair, its problems came up during a conversation later in the morning. No, that's not me pointing out that I just learned what a battery is. It's me pointing out that the problem with the battery cable connection that I was always going to fix, but never got around to doing, was going to get fixed.
Then there was the problem with the Explorer air conditioner. A trip to the local junkyard, a replacement compressor, two cans of freon, and Linda once again would be riding in cool comfort. The junkyard sat way out in the middle of nowhere. To say it was mammoth would be an huge under statement. Yet when we walked in, everyone there, and there were a lot of people other customers included, who greeted Ralph by name or he greeted them. We've been told that Linda's cousin Ralph knows everyone who lives in the area, and they know him. It looked to me like it was true.
I was a little slow with the camera, but as they were finishing up and reinstalling the serpentine belt, Bootsie jumped up on the engine and looked at it like she was the inspector giving her stamp of approval. Later Ralph mentioned that sometimes he thinks if Bootsie could hold a wrench, she'd be right in there helping them.
One of the great things about visiting with family is the opportunity to just sit around and talk. When I was little I could remember going to my grandfathers, where the adults would sit and talk while I had to sit still and behave. Funny how your perspective changes when you get old yourself. Now when the old folks are sitting around talking, there are cell phone apps that the young ones can play with. Actually I was looking up the restaurant we were talking about going to. How times have changed.
I know there have been many paintings of people partaking of a meal, supper, banquet, or however it may be described, but one where family is gathered is always special. Here are Linda, who is taking the photo, and her brother, along with Aunt Ellen's two children and two of her grandchildren. Aunt Ellen was a person who lived a life of unconditional love, and spending the past few days with her children, Ralph and Lois, and her four grandchildren, two of whom, Cheryl and Jim, are here, it has become very apparent to me that the same wonderful trait of unconditional love was passed on to those who descended from her. What better legacy could a person wish for.
I will leave you with this final thought. Even though we may know that Life is not a dress rehearsal, we sometimes forget that once we have exited the stage after that final curtain, we have understudy's who will carry on in the acts yet to come. They have learned the nuances of their time on the stage of Life from us, let us strive to pass on to our successors that which will enable them to further help those who will in turn, some day be their successors.
May 28 Saturday
Linda's big day
Today was to be my yes day. Anything that Linda wanted, my answer was to yes, immediately followed by my doing what ever it was she wanted, no questions asked. Just wanting her to be at her best for her 45th.
It wasn't all former classmates, so when Linda's cousin knocked on the door in the morning, the end result was the adjustment of the generator cover. Ralph has repaired and restored vehicles all his life as a hobby, including restoring his own RV. It took a while to get that first coner square, but once that was accomplished the rest started to fall into place.
We thought we had just about got it when Bootsie the inspector came around and showed us that it was close, but not good enough. That led to another round of adjustments, and another, and another. As Ralph said, it was no different than trying to adjust a body panel on a restoration. You try and try with no success, and suddenly it just sort of slides into place and you're done.
As you can see, Ralph and I were all smiles once it was done. If you ever have to do this yourself, be forewarned, almost any adjustment to the front panel seems to throw the latch mechanism off, making for adjustments in it. We finally moved the latch pins back so they didn't catch, completely squared up the front, then moved the latch pins forward and adjusted them in small increments until they both engaged perfectly. Or I should say that Ralph did those things with a small amount of my help. When you're in the presence of a master it is best to let them do their thing and help as needed.
Poor Bootsie, after all the strenuous inspection activities she was engaged in, rest was the order the day. It's also what happens when you leave the front door open with a curious cat around, plus it was the first time an animal has ever been in the coach.
The rest of the day was all reunion activities, interspersed with more than one, "How does this look," "Does this look alright," "What do you think about this?" and just before we would leave the coach, but this time from me, "You look awesome."
Linda had been going back through her yearbook, pointing out different people to me so I would hopefully know who they were. Imagine my surprise when everyone who showed up at the afternoon picnic looked like they were the grandparents of her classmates. Here is a group photo that shows they are still young at heart, but definitely older in body. What follows are a group of photos from the picnic and the reunion for Linda and her classmates. It seems like all reunions are the same as it looks very much like my 40th, with only the faces being different.
The above were of the informal afternoon Class of 66 picnic. The banquet is held in the evening at the new school. New school in the sense that Linda's class was the last to graduate from Albany High School. The following year it was a consolidated district named Alexander, after the township, when they built a new high school building and everything changed.
Some of the classmates who were at the picnic did not attend the banquet, and one who had been unable to make it to the picnic attended the banquet. It always amazes me how some classmates that live in the area find excuses not to come to one or the other. Linda and others come long distances when the reunion is held every five years to see these classmates. Yet the nearby ones say they see the people who attend the picnic or banquet around town. I guess they either don't realize that some come from great distances, or they don't realize how much fun these things can be. I enjoy Linda's, she enjoyed the one of mine they had. It's called living Life and the ones that come do just that. As for those that don't come, I don't know.
As always with banquets, there is the meal which are are fund raiser for the school FFA. It is great to see that while nearly all the kids in Linda's class left the farm, there are still some that hold to the land and what it means. As a side note to this, in the conversations during the afternoon and evening, when the various classmates had lived those many years ago was usually stated in terms of the their farm being some many farms from a road, such as the second farm on the left beyond Johnson Road. It was a different time, never to be repeated, something each generation faces.
The food was real, honest, genuine, certifiable Ohio banquet food. Swiss Steak smothered in gravy, whipped potatoes, greens cooked to mush with bacon, and a roll to die for. I forgot to take a photo of the dessert, yellow cake with white frosting, topped with a sliced strawberry sauce that contained the years output of a sugar mill, and crowned with a mammoth pile of dream whip. It was just like both of us used to get back in the old days.
The past is memories and today was a time to recall them and make new ones. I hope I made Linda proud, and since she was laughing when she told me she heard several people referring to me, and asking whose husband is that, I think I did. It was a great day from start to finish, and if my class has a 50th in two years, I hope Linda will do the same thing for me.
May 29 Sunday
The day after
There was panic in The Plains this morning, real panic, panic as in the Droid will not turn on panic. Luckily a call to Verizon solved the problem simply by pulling the battery, which reset the device and got it to working again. You're supposed to remove the battery and reinstall it, but that's not exactly what we did.
Normally things like this are handled solely by Linda, mainly because I can not hear what the tech person is saying well enough to understand them. So Linda talks to them, repeating what they say, while I try to do what she relays to me. On more than one occasion, that has resulted in Linda reclaiming the object causing the problem and doing everything herself. However, that wasn't the case today.
The tech person said to remove the back cover, but when Linda was relating them to me, something was wrong. What Linda was saying and what I could do were two different things. Eventually with Linda saying "Just do what I say, not what you think I said" a few times, I got it figured out and the cover was off. Now Linda was told to remove the battery, so she told me to remove the battery. Wasn't going to happen. No way, no how.
"Pull harder" I hear. "I'm pulling as hard as I can and it's not moving." "Are you sure?" she asks several times. And to think that it is her that usually accuses me of not listening. "Yes dear, see my fingers turning white, I can't pull any harder." Finally Linda has had enough and says, "Here, you talk to her on the phone, I'll get it out." Sounds of great effort, but no movement of the battery is detected.
"Give me back the phone" she says, and I comply. You tell who is in charge of this matter. I can hear her talking, and I continue to see if I can budge the immovable object. Then it happens, slight movement detected by Linda. No removal of the battery to be sure, but when she grabs the phone and hits the on button it begins to start up. That was all there was to it, except that when I went to put the battery cover back, I looked at the other side of the back cover which is when I discovered a diagram showing how to remove the battery. Brilliant and long lived man that I am, I didn't ask my by now not so kind and loving wife why she didn't tell me the diagram was there, In fact I didn't even mention I'd found it. The end result was that the phone now works as it should and I'm undamaged.
In the afternoon we rode down to Pomeroy, on the river, with Linda's brother and his wife. It brought back to mind those family drives of my youth. The ones on Sunday afternoon when out into the far reaches of the civilization we would travel, touring as it were at low speed down gravel and dirt roads, with my Dad talking about never having been here before. It was slow enough to take in all the sights, and the occasional stops to pick wild berries and the like kept it from being boring. While we didn't stop to pick anything, it was still loads of fun today. Thanks Charles.
Pomeroy proved to be very interesting with many old buildings, and we had a great time walking around. Actually, it was in the upper 90's and the humidity was awful, so while the other three sought out shade, I toured the town. Even if they weren't into the town history there were still things for them to do, as the constant passing parade of coal barges proved. Interestingly enough, Pomeroy grew to major importance in the 1830's as a shipping point for salt and coal on the river, but today the barges pass the town by.
As you can see, the heat affected us in more ways than one. I'll not say who took this photo, but it just goes to prove that not everyone is perfect. Speaking of perfect, I also discovered I had written the Daily Journal for the previous day but had never posted it, I think it was the first time I've ever done that. My excuse was that Ralph had knocked on the door when I was ready to upload it, then when we got to working at straightening the generator cover, I completely forgot about it. Wow, forgetting to post yesterday, and then taking missed up photos today, I think this heat and humidity is affecting me in more ways than one. The cool breezes of Michigan can't come quick enough, unfortunately they are about a month away when they probably won't be cool anymore.
My first thought was not to post this photo. My second thought was to see if it could be lightened and the contrast changed before posting. My final thought was to post it as it is which hides the evidence. As you can see, the third thought won out. It is Linda, her brother Charles and her sister-in-law Betty Lou and some fat guy eating an early dinner overlooking the Ohio.
The fat guy will not be named to protect the guilty, but he is the same one that bragged last week about portion control, slimming down, and reporting the results to the world. Big mouth that he was, last week he was 157.0 saying that tenths of a pound count. Well this week he is 159.0 and so much for tenths of a pound.
His wife says he can blame it on all the restaurant meals they have been eating lately. He says he has never had as many good desserts as he's had in the last week. He says that if he gains another pound by next week, when he does loose some weight he can brag about losing more. If he does, his wife will likely insert the true numbers in as a editors comment, making it a lose-lose proposition. Life doesn't always turn out as expected, which can certainly make it interesting at times, can't it.
May 30 Monday
When I was younger, as in a boy, I knew today as Decoration Day, the day we decorated the graves. We would also visit a number of cemeteries where my parents would talk about people that I didn't know. Over the years Linda and I, not living anywhere near where our relatives were buried, would make it a point to visit a cemetery on this day. Today Linda got to visit the cemetery where her parents are buried.
Linda's cousins Helen and Courtney had placed flowers last weekend, today Linda wanted to plant the area between the graves. Her sister is unable to do this and her brother doesn't visit the cemetery even when in town, so it is Linda's special thing. Five years ago we had placed some old locally made bricks between the stones to serve as a divider and planted a day lily. Over the years grass has filled in the open area, but today that was coming out.
Linda had everything well organized, with her cousin Helen serving as the job foreman while I was the laborer. The dirt was actually quite friable making it easy to work, and with me doing the digging and Linda removing the grass, it didn't take long to get it to how she wanted. Helen had bought a bag of cactus mix to add to the soil along with Hen and Chicks to plant.
Linda, aka, The Lady of the Soil, ever so carefully planted the Hen and Chicks, spacing them just so, and even digging them up and replanting them if they were not to her liking. They can show those commercials on TV were they pronounce something priceless and for everything else there is a credit card. Those self gratifying activities aren't really priceless, this is priceless.
The boss lady and the worker certainly had smiles on their faces when the work was done.
Later we drove by the house where Linda grew up. Back then it was a working farm, the house was white and was only the two story section on the left side of the photo. The large tree at the left front of the photo was there and as Linda said, it was to big to play in when she was young, just as it is still to big today. She had this thing about climbing up into trees in case you didn't know.
Remember that friend you had who lived nearby, the one you regularly played with? Beth and Linda where that to each other. I think Linda was a bit jealous of Beth because she had stayed on the farm, and now raises chickens, which is Linda's idea of a Dream Life. We left with two dozen free range eggs and a package of homemade noodles, which caused me some problems driving as Linda's smile ws so big
In the afternoon we visited with another of Linda's cousins, Courtney, who may be twice removed, but whatever was removed left only the good stuff. We sometimes wonder about the twenty something's of today, but spending time with Courtney will renew your faith in that generation. She also knows how to pick restaurants, note how my clean plate testifies to that fact.
Lunch over, Courtney took us to one of the oldest cemeteries in town, one that actually didn't have any of the girls relatives in it. With it being Memorial Day, flags were waving over the graves of the veterans, and during our time there, we were able to find the graves of men who had fought in all our wars from the Revolution thru WW II. It was a very special time with two very special ladies.
It was a very special day all around, and it ended with a visit from a college buddy and his wife. Mike, who was also best man at our wedding. Mike had stopped by the other day, but we wanted to spend some more time together, and also show them our home. We had a great time, ate some very good chinese food, with Linda getting her favorite Mu Shu Pork while and positively beaming the entire time. All of which made for the perfect end to a perfect day. Life is indeed good.
May 31 Tuesday
A really hot day
It doesn't take a genius to figure out what we had for breakfast this morning. Eggs, plain scrambled eggs, the free range kind, with positively no additives. From the lip smacking that was going over where Linda was eating, it was apparent that I hadn't done good, I'd done very, very good when I had scrambled just those bare naked eggs.
We spent the morning helping Ralph clean out the last of his Mom's house. I knew my place after doing it at both Linda and my mom' houses. I have gotten very good at holding the trash bag so the going to the dump things can be easily collected. In this case, it is the tool area of the garage, meaning most things went into the save box. It's like that saying: Not every day at the office is a tough day, some are not as tough than others.
Linda, aka, The Lady of the Duster, ever so carefully dusted the garage. I was really nice and didn't point out that she had missed a spot. Of course she had originally asked me for a piece of cloth, but then I found the duster, and said it should work better. Wrong, so as she tried to dust I dug through the the junk pile, finally finding a rag. I knew she was saddened by what she was doing, helping to clean out her favorite aunt's house, so it was a time to be supportive, and not a time to tease.
It was also a time to move furniture. Here is one of several pieces that Ralph and Linda's cousin, Hellen, was taking. While it could not exactly be termed doing penitence, the temperature was in the upper 90's, the humidity hovering close to that, and with all the carrying and lifting I was doing I do believe I was making a dent in those added pounds I'd accumulated the past few days. I'd weighed again this morning after the restaurant meals of yesterday, and I was definitely on track to be known as Balloon Bob.
Linda can live with a little dirt on clothes, not on her clothes, on my clothes, mostly because I just forget to change or pay no attention to the dirt. Perspiration is another story, ranking as the eighth deadly sin in Linda's book. With the hot weather it has been present in abundance, making for numerous changes of clothing and necessitating a trip to the laundromat.
Later we picked up Linda's cousin Hellen and drove out to see another cousin, Jack, and his wife Kay, on their farm. We had a great time visiting and I really enjoyed seeing Jack's wood fired hot water heating system that keeps the house toasty warm in the winter with virtually no fuel costs. Linda's highlight was the rhubarb Jack and Kay picked from their patch, resulting in enough for Hellen, Linda and also Ralph. There are things we miss living a Life of traveling down the road.
Looking in the back of the burner unit, which is outside. It only needs to be loaded once every 12 hours, and there are only two buckets of ash to remove once a week. Pretty slick I'd say.
When it came time to dispose of the rhubarb leaves, they were placed around the nearby tomato plants, something Linda was quick to help with. Later she fondly recalled how her Dad would always place the rhubarb leaves around rhubarb plants, and how she would sometimes help. Memories and connections. It is what makes us, us.
It was an unbearably hot day once again, and just how hot was apparent when we turned on the DirecTV. I ended up putting the little fan we normally use to cool the MotoSat controller and router up where the DirecTV box was, and soon it was booting up.
During the day Ralph had checked the breaker box, and the circuit we were on was actually a 30 amp circuit with a 20 amp plug. That meant the air conditioner could run. That meant that Linda was a happy girl. That meant that if Ralph hadn't been her favorite cousin, he was now.
You know the saying: If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Well, it wasn't long after we turned on the air conditioner that all the power in the coach went out. Thinking we had tripped the breaker, we went out side only to find the neighbors outside asking if our power was out, shortly followed by the ones across the street asking the same thing.
Naturally the first thing that comes to mind at times like these is that we had somehow managed to knock the power out for the entire neighborhood. That was laid to rest when we heard the sirens coming done the street, sheriff and fire, and instead of turning into our drive they drove on past. Sometime later we saw the AEP truck, which is the power company, do the same thing. It took over two hours to restore power, but it sure was nice sleeping in air conditioned comfort. What can I say, it was an awesome day.