June 1 Wednesday
Into the past
Linda surprised me this morning. At dawn's early light she was up, humming while she worked. It was a good hum and the work was also good. Farm fresh eggs and farm fresh rhubarb need to be combined and it wasn't long before a pie was in the oven and the coach was filled with the incredible smell of rhubarb pie baking. That's what first won me over and what keeps me around, though the pie baker also has something to do with it.
It was a day to go back in time, visiting the places where Linda's ancestors once lived and the cemeteries where they now rest. It may look like a vacant lot with trees, but it is not. It is where Linda's great grandfather had his mercantile store back in the 1850's and 60's. The past, you can't touch it, you can't see it, but you can feel the connections that make you who you are, and that was what Linda was doing.
A long, long time ago, back in the dim past before the modern age, Linda would climb these steps, enter the doors and go to school. From fifth grade through High School this was the building where she got her education. Her senior class was the last to attend classes here, and it was great listening to her tell stories of her school days.
Linda standing in front of her locker. That's what I call a great memory, no wonder she got such good grades and then did so well at picking a husband.
Linda had an interesting story regarding this set of stairs in this wing of the school. It was back in the days when the girls were required to wear dresses or skirts to school, the minimum length of which was highly regulated. Linda wasn't into the short skirt and dress thing, but it didn't matter as far as what she was telling me. It seemed the boys would like to stand at the bottom next to the rail and look up as the girls used the stairs.
Linda showing how she and the other good girls would walk up and down the stairs hugging the side away from the railing and the upward roving eyes. Guess that's what happens down here in the hills. Up north in the small school I attended with all of 24 kids in my class, all the stairways were completely enclosed and if there were any "not good girls", I wasn't aware of them. To think that I lived a deprived childhood and didn't even know it.
This was how much of our day was spent. Driving to old cemeteries and searching for the markers of the different generations of Linda's grandparents. I think that all of them back to the great great's must be buried within a small radius near where she grew up.
It's what makes Linda, Linda: a small country church, an old out house, a curious girl. I had to laugh when she said there was a nice back support behind the hole. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can never take the country out of the girl.
While it may look like we were back in the middle of nowhere, that was not the case. Sure the roads were narrow, very curvy and often gravel. But there was something really special about them. They carried the surnames of some of the different lines in Linda's family tree. This is a place where Linda's roots go very deep indeed.
As always when we visit cemeteries and it is time to eat, we have a picnic among the headstones. This was the cemetery that started it all. The one where Linda's Mom would bring her when she was growing up and where they would have a picnic near where Linda's grandparents were buried. They had died when Linda was young, but it was things like this that forged a bond with her past that continues until today. Connections, we all have them, but do we really understand them? I think Linda does.
June 2 Thursday
This and that
Something was in the air this morning, that special fragrance that lets one know they are near a barn. The family farm girl became curious, and soon was using her nose and eyes to track down the source. When she stood at this door for a while I knew she had found it.
Then she disappeared around the back corner of the barn, returning with tales of cute calves and sweet mama's. The proof is in the photo, and I was surprised that she only made one trip back there during the day. Maybe she was as smart as the cows and stayed where it was cool, I know I did.
Linda's cousin, Ralph, is the workingest person I think I have ever known. He's one of those rise before the sunrise people, and is doing something all day long. I don't know how busy he was before he retired, but there is no way he could have been busier than he is now. It must rub off, because Linda has been busier than her usual self as of late.
Ralph is also the kind of person that when you ask him about the nearest lumber store, he asks you what you want. Then when you tell him you want a 2x10 or 12 for under the jacks, he says he has some left over glue lam beams that would be much better. Next thing you know he's brought one over to the barn and is cutting it to size. He's just that kind of person and Life has rewarded him well for it in many ways.
The new boards. I was amazed at how light weight they were even though they were slightly bigger than the boards we have been using. I know there are two camps when it comes to using these under the jacks, but having sunk into the ground on more than one occasion without the boards, and never having sunk into the ground using the boards, you will find me in the board camp. It may also have something to do with the extra weight on our single front jack, but whatever, it works for us.
I also got into the act, sanding down the cut edges. These are exactly what we have been looking for and should last for many years.
In the afternoon we drove into Athens to visit the Historical Society so Linda could do some family research. With this being the start of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, they had a display showing what a local soldier would have carried. Linda's great grandfather, the one of the sewing kit and the lost haversack, had lived in this county when he enlisted, making the display very special to Linda. Intriguing how something like this becomes much more interesting when you have a connection to it, however tenuous it may be.
By the time we were back at the coach, the weather had taken a turn to the cooler, something that was very much welcome. While Linda checked out what was going on in the facebook world, I worked on a new homepage article to be posted today, as well as bringing the future travel page more in line with our current thinking. We still don't know exactly where we are going to be spending the summer, but it is looking more likely to be the upper peninsula of Michigan, Minnesota, and the Dakota's. All subject to change of course, but that in itself is what makes the way we live so interesting. After all, what's Life without a little adventure. Besides there is always the proverbial "next time" to see the places and things we might miss.
June 3 Friday
Interesting beginning and ending
I was busy writing the Daily Journal when I heard a muffled cry from the back of the coach. After all these years I know Linda's voice and how it sounds under different circumstances, and this was the one that had me leaping from the chair and going to the bedroom as fast as I could. When I got there I couldn't see anything wrong, for she was standing up looking under the bed for something.
That was when I was informed that what it appeared to be and what it was were two completely different things. She had been putting one of our folding chairs away, using the piece of PVC pipe to hold up the bed, when the chair hit the piece of pipe, knocking it over, the result being the bed descended upon her head.
I couldn't see any damage to the pipe and the chair looked okay, so what was her problem. Fortunately I was contemplating saying that when I was informed in somewhat unlady like terms that I needed to lift the bed off her head. Rather than point out if she just used her hands she could do it herself, I pushed it up. The fact she laughed about was good. The fact she later posed for this photo to show what happened was better. The fact she wasn't hurt at all was best. It did however make an interesting start to the day.
Breakfast once again found us eating just eggs. When I opened the carton there were two beautiful brown eggs, one speckled and one a rich reddish brown, along with one white egg. It turned out the white one was the sole leftover from our store bought eggs. I cracked all three and that was when I noticed the huge difference in eggs. Two had a deep rich dark yellow color, the other was a pale imitation of yellow, the yolk was different and now I knew the reason why Linda liked farm fresh eggs. If farm fresh eggs are this different, what must meat, vegetables and fruit be like.
I believe I just had a small dose of insight into why some people are so vehement about the evils of big agri-business and genetically modified food. "Garbage to the masses, massive wealth to the few. We are sheople and those with power will gladly shear us. Take to the streets, protest." Not sure I agree with their tactics, but I do have a better understanding of where they are coming from, all because of three eggs.
Those eggs were so good we drove out to Albany in the morning to get four more dozen eggs, two for us and two for Linda's sister, who we will be seeing tomorrow. Back at the coach Linda discovered the lace on one of her Keene's was ready to break. I'd replaced the other one some time ago, and she thought she could do this one herself. She did a great job and all I needed to do was to squeeze the locking clip into position. Too bad I didn't get a photo of her with her tongue going in and out as she relaced it.
In the afternoon we drove back into Athens where Linda spent nearly three hours doing research at the Athens County Genealogy Society Library, though not before we made a stop to see the hospital where she was born. As it turned out, it is no longer a hospital, instead it has been added onto several times and now serves as senior housing.
Linda was glad to see that it was still standing, but sad that it was closed. I had a good explanation for why it was closed. It seems that back in the late 40's a baby girl was born there that was so cute and intelligent that they realized that no matter how many more babies were born within its walls, there never would be one to match that little girl. Linda wasn't buying that story, but looking at the big smile on her face I think she was enjoying hear me tell it.
In case you're wondering, no that gray house in the photo is not that hospital. While Linda was gazing on her family history through the old records, I was gazing on her family history in the places where it happened. Greatly modernized, this was the house where one of Linda's great grandfathers lived at the beginning of the 20th century. I could stand across the street and see that old white haired civil war veteran looking out the window at me. Connections are what make the past come alive and that makes it incomprehensible to me how people can be uninterested in history.
In the evening we went down to Lucasville, Ohio along with two other couples, three of the four of them being former classmates of Linda. The purpose was to attend one of the largest flea markets in the region, a place that had many of what Linda likes best, animals, particularly chickens.
It was amazing, the number of different breeds of chickens we saw as we walked the grounds. Some day when we are too old to travel, I know that the place where we will be spending our last years will have to be someplace where raising chickens is permitted. Linda is one of those people who would probably live forever if she could just have her chickens.
It wasn't all chickens, as these calves show. With milk cows being girls, what do you do with the little boys? You bring them to the flea market and sell them. Let them grow bigger, living in the pasture all summer and you at least have yourself some beef on the hoof in the fall, skinny as it may be. As a side comment, often times the people doing the selling were far more interesting than what they were selling. We drove many miles on the Appalachian Highway to get to this flea market, and it looked like many of the sellers had come out of the hills. Good salt of the earth people, just from a little different cultural background is all.
All that looking can make for a healthy appetite, and it was hamburgers all around to fill that bill. Still we had to leave room for dessert.
Dessert number one, Elephant Ears, similar to the Indian Fry Bread we get out West, and almost as good, meaning not a crumb was left.
Dessert number two, something we had never eaten before, Funnel Cake. Deep fat fried like fry bread, it has a very sweet dough that is dropped in the fat to fry, then is dusted with several pounds of powdered sugar. Don't think of the calories, think of it as a great tasting energy food. After all that, even split six ways, the scale will most likely be heading up once again this week. Diet? What diet? A person's got to eat don't they?
Can you believe that these three girls all went to school together, were in the same class, and most difficult of all to believe looking at them, they actually managed to graduate. Something tells me it was one of those schools where the most famous classmate was actually infamous.
When we got back to where we had left the Explorer it was nearly 10:30, and that was when we discovered that the courtesy lights in the Explorer were stuck on. Back at the coach Linda dug out the book that shows the location of the fuses and tried to tell me which one to pull. That approach was definitely not working because what she was saying I should be seeing and what I was seeing were two different things.
This was one of those times in the past when words would most definitely have been exchanged, but still being under the influence of the "just do it" admonition, I asked nicely for the book and realized that what Linda was telling me was exactly what the book showed, even if it wasn't anything like the fuse panel looked like.
In the end I figured it out. The problem was I was looking up at fuse panel in the instrument panel, but looking down at the book. As soon as I held the book up where the fuse panel was and looked at it, everything looked the same and in a moment the fuse was pulled and the lights extinguished. The ultimate solution to this problem will have to wait a couple of days, and in the end it may just be as simple as leaving the fuse out if I can't figure out which switch is bad. We could describe today in many different ways, but a description that would not apply is dull. Life, it comes in many forms, most of which you don't expect at the time.
June 4 Saturday
Not much happening to today, depending on how one looks at it. From Linda's perspective a great deal was happening since we were driving over to Carlisle to visit her sister. But as far as the drive itself was concerned, it was just a leisurely drive through the country.
Being back roads travelers for the most part, we enjoyed the drive through the hills of southern Ohio, marveled at the difference when the land more or less leveled out around Chillicothe, then said "Wow!" when the Miami Valley spread out before us as we neared our destination.
Linda likes this bridge over the Miami River between Franklin and Carlisle. Known for the four lions, one at each corner of the bridge, it is no surprise that it is called the Lion Bridge.
Shortly before this we had one of those so called interesting experiences you can have when traveling down the road. While I always drive slowly through towns, we had encountered a traffic light that changed suddenly and so, I hit the brakes. Not a panic stop, but one a little quicker than normal. That was when we heard a major clunk sound.
I had an inkling of what is was, and when the light changed and I accelerated there was another major clunk, never to be repeated for the brief remainder of the trip. Somehow the generator had come unlatched and slide out when I stopped, slamming closed when I took off. Now parked safely in Linda's sister's driveway, I will will wait a day or two before I check it out. Hopefully it will be a simple adjustment with no wires or plugs ripped out. Full report coming when I work up enough nerve to open it up.
Once we arrived at Katherine's, with the harrowing task of backing into her drive off the busy main street accomplished as Linda served as traffic control officer, and later a satisfactory electrical hookup made, it was time for some fun. Katherine has been battling cancer for some time, and with her hair only growing on the top, and mine only on the sides, we joked that between us we had one full head of hair.
With no siblings, all my nieces and nephews are on Linda's side of the family. Still the lack of quantity on my side does not mean anything when the degree quality on her side is so high. Here is Susan and her husband Tim who drove from the Dayton area to see us just after we arrived. The big smiles are because we are waiting on our pizza's, they being pepperoni and extra cheese Midwesterners, while Linda and I went with the West Coast special, white sauce and chicken. Maybe next time we will be into the Texas Barbecue pizza, but we've got to get our Texas twang first.
I'll end today's Journal with the end of a bassett hound. There's another dog there, it isn't a bassett hound with all that curly black hair, but I can't ever remember what it is. The bassett is being fostered by Katherine, and is it ever camera shy. I don't know what someone once did to it with a camera, but point one at it, and the dog runs away.
This a visit that we will leave when it is time, with no set schedule. Linda wants to spend time with her sister, but doesn't want to tire her out and over do it. We have plenty of room in our waste tanks. We have electric and are near the water faucet if we need to fill the tank. It is a time to be thankful for the opportunity we have been given and for Linda to spend special time with her sister.
June 5 Sunday
Mega Church morning and a little job
Sunday morning, and what better way to spend it than at the church our niece Susan attends. Mega churches have been a part of our church diet during our travels, and what with the very intermittent occasions that we actually attend church, diet is probably the correct word to use. I also discovered that getting to places early is just not a Linda trait, it runs in the family, her sister Katherine having inherited that same gene.
If you have ever been to a church that has the big screens off to the sides at the front of the church where different graphics are displayed before, during and after the service, you know what Susan goes through on Sunday mornings. Because at this mega church, she is the person who sits with two monitors and a control board in front of her, and displays the proper words, message, photo, video, what have you, at the proper time.
We've sat through more than one service where the person responsible for this either hadn't been well trained, or shouldn't have had the job. Susan was right on with everything, and to make it even harder, they had a substitute pastor who seemed a bit unsure of himself.
We were sitting in the balcony next to the sound booth and could see Susan, and the sound and lighting man doing their thing. Once when the pastor asked for a graphic which had been displayed much earlier in the service to be displayed again, Susan was right on. I glanced over at the booth just in time to see her and the sound man do a fist bump. Way to go girl, you rock, was going through my head. Like so many things in Life, we don't always appreciate the effort someone puts in to make the experience what it was.
In the afternoon I got the urge to do something, with that something being repairing a MCD shade that had quit working, the sunscreen for the small front window in the slide beside the couch. Linda had the repair part sent to Katherine's, and it was here when we arrived, meaning I knew it was on her mind to get it replaced.
Having watched them originally install the shades, that meant at one time I knew how to take the shade down and put it back up. Time makes Bob a dull boy, or at least dulls his memory, so it wasn't as easy as it might have been, but slowly the what to do's came back to me, with taking it down being the easy part.
It was the internal spring mechanism that had failed, so it was necessary to take the shade apart in order to remove and replace it. It wasn't a particularly hard job, it was just that there were no instructions on how to do it. A few screws here and there, off with the end caps, pull out the roller mechanism, insert the new and reassemble. Something that anyone with the least amount of mechanical ability could do, though instruction would certainly be a help.
Then came the hard part, remounting the shade assembly into the clips in the valance. It is almost impossible to see where it goes, so most of it has to be done by feel. It took several attempts that resulted in no change in the status quo before I remembered how they had installed them originally. Then after just a couple of seconds, Linda said, "I just heard something click," which was soon followed by second click as it locked into place.
As always that old axiom, It's not how how big the screwdriver is, it's how you use it, was once again right. Pry back on the clip to remove the shade, push up on the shade to slip it into place. Of course at our stage of Life, next time me have to do it again, we probably won't remember how. And even if we remember that I wrote about how to do it, we will likely have forgotten where I wrote it. The Play called Life has only one performance, and once an Act is over, you can't ever go back to it.
June 6 Monday
A rose by any other name is still as sweet
Cancer patient. If we held up a rose and called it a thorny weed, wouldn't it still be a rose? So why do people call someone who is vibrant and full of Life, a cancer patient, and think they should be a different person from who they always were? Linda's sister Katherine has cancer, sure there are some outward changes, but she is still the same wonderful person she always was and will continue to be.
We have favorite stores we like to shop at, and maybe even a favorite checkout person at a certain store. This is Katherine's favorite nurse where she goes for her periodic treatments. Maybe the circumstances of these two situations, a visit to the store and a visit to the clinic are different, but does that really matter? What matters is how we look at Life, how we live each day. Linda is blessed to have a sister who strives to make the lives of those around her better each and every day.
Looking at others, what of our own lives do we see in them? If the person behind the counter at the store is grumpy, do we often find ourselves acting grumpy in return? I remember how it hit me, the first time I ever read about how the only person that can make me feel upset is me. It is how I react to what is said, not what was said that determines my state of being. Words to live by.
Katherine's grandson, Willie, is a fantastic guitar player, so when we went to her daughter Susan's house for supper, the after dinner entertainment was getting to listen to Willie. He is not only a great guitarist, he also loves playing, which may be a chicken and egg thing, but the result is simply amazing.
With this being the last week of school, Willie organized a talent show to be held at his school on Thursday, so his love of the arts extends beyond just his own playing. This behind the head style of playing is how he plans to begin his talent show performance. When you're good, you're good.
Then there is the pick with your teeth style, which is not a problem for Willie. He may just be finishing the 8th grade, but he is far beyond that in his guitar playing ability. For something to do this summer he plans to learn to play the fiddle. We are given special talents, it just takes some of us longer to figure out what they are, if we ever do. I'd like to think Linda's and mine was knowing: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early.
June 7 Tuesday
In the jungle, the mighty jungle
Is that another RV I see? Yes it is, it is Katherine taking her Class C in to have work done on the generator, for which Linda served as her traffic control assistant.
No. it's not a trip to the zoo, it's a trip to Jungle Jim's. From the Jungle Jim's website: Jungle Jim's International Market is a superstore unlike any other. With 1 1/2 acres of produce, 75,000 international grocery products and cigars from 70 countries, there is much to discover. Link here. It truly is one of those places you have to see to believe.
Photo's simply can not do it justice, ether from the outside or the inside. It's not one great big open building like a Walmart, but rather seems to be a endless succession of addons to the original building with interior walls and openings that lead from department to department. They pass out maps to the store, and unless you are familiar with it, you will need the map to find things.
Linda and Lori, who is Katherine's other daughter, had fun looking at these bottles of wine that were a little out of their price range.
Linda eventually found some wine that was in her price range, then discovered they had her favorite, white merlot, in boxes. Guess which ended up in our cart and I'll give you a hint, it wasn't in a bottle.
We had a great time with Lori and her friend John, and it once again proved that nothing beats being with family. Lori has had some ups and downs in her life, but she is not a quitter, and has persevered despite obstacles that would have stopped an lesser person. Life isn't always a bed a roses but we can choose to either get trapped among the thickets, brambles, and vines or choose to hack our way out. I think of those who would like to fulltime someday, a day that never comes, versus those who just do it. As we say over and over, Life is not a dress rehearsal. And sure, life can be a jungle at times, but that didn't stop Tarzan or Lori, so why should it stop you.
June 8 Wednesday
A beautiful day
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder it is said, or in this case in the foot of Linda. Lori's daughter, Andrea, which makes her Linda's grand niece, is going to beauty school, and today Andrea got to give her great aunt Linda a pedicure. Linda so enjoyed the pedicure she had back in California, it looks like they will be a once every six weeks thing from now one. Good for her, she deserves it.
One foot down and one to go. I think big, beautiful smiles run in Linda's family. And looking at Linda's legs and feet, so do great looking legs and feet. And no, I'm not the least the least bit prejudiced in my views. What I am is lucky to have had Linda in my Life all these years.
On the way back to the coach we stopped at Barnes and Noble to pick up the new Nook that Katherine had on order. Playing around with the ones on display was my first opportunity to use one. I was impressed. I didn't think I would ever see any use for one, what with most all of my books coming from the thrift store racks, or when new, at places we have visited and then of the historical variety. I have always enjoyed reading books from Project Gutenberg, especially the classics they have, and it is interesting to note that they can be read on the Nook. Don't know if there is one in my future, but for the first time I see the possibility.
Lori, who at one time owned her own hair salon, is the best hair stylist, by far, that Linda has ever been to. Lori just has a special talent, and so Linda wanted her to give her a trim to make her hair look better. Lori really didn't cut off much hair, but when Linda was done I swear she looked ten years younger. It is amazing what the right style can do for a good looking woman, including making her look even prettier as well as younger.
On the other hand, there are some people whose hair is such that even someone who really knows what they are doing can only do so much with it. Just kidding. As Linda tells me, it looks much better now that Lori just evened it up. She even explained to Linda how to trim it in the future so I wouldn't look like a lop eared rabbit. I'm happy, Linda's happy, who could ask for anything more.
We're not the only ones happy, so is Katherine as she loves her Nook. It did take a few phone calls to the family Nook Expert, our daughter Jenny, who is a serious Nook user, to get everything organized in the right directories, etc., but once it was set up, Katherine was off and reading. Connections. Family. Life. While it it is easy to see a person's outer beauty, it's our inner beauty that really makes us who we are, and today we we were more than blessed with both outer and inner beauty all around us.
June 9 Thursday
So what takes place when a couple of old ladies who also happen to be sisters, and are normally separated by both distance and age, get together. They talk and they talk. And when the talking turns to certain guilty pleasures, they do something about it, especially when it relates to a special recipe.
Every Christmas there is an exchange between the sisters, Linda baking persimmon cookies for Katherine, and Katherine baking molasses cookies for Linda. Some years it has been permissible for me to have two or three cookies, but usually it is just one, Linda getting to eat all the others. I never complain, not because they are good since they are absolutely mouth watering, I don't complain because of what they mean to Linda, that special something between siblings that I will never know.
Today was training day for Linda, the day to be trained in the secrets of molasses cookie baking. Along with training comes doing the real thing, that real thing being the baking. Katherine led Linda through the steps and Linda did her best. That was when I learned this was a three person task. Teacher, baker and tester. Talk about a dream job, it doesn't get any better than this.
Correction, maybe it does get better, for you see those cookies didn't turn out the same as when Katherine bakes them. That means two things, first these less than perfect cookies will have to be consumed, and second, a new batch will have to be baked, with the necessary quality control on my part being part of the process. Now that really is as good as it gets.
I wasn't the only one on the receiving end of good things. Teddy and Bandit figured out that cookie testers, when full of cookies, are especially in need of some exercise. And with a little effort they put themselves into position to have me begin my exercise program in a very low key way. Bend at the waist, a little wrist action, the perfect start to working off that newly acquired weight, the low stress way.
I must not have looked like I was able to eat all those cookies because in the afternoon, we had a family gathering that included Lori, her three kids and also her two grandsons. Actually it was planned ahead of time, but for some reason those cookies loom big in my mind. I guess that saying about men having only one thing on their minds is right.
Speaking of one track minds, Teddy had it figured out where the best place to sit was, and if I was going to be eating, then I needed to be doing more low stress exercises as well. What is it about sitting comfortably in a chair watching little ones run around and play, with their innate inquisitiveness getting them into trouble on occasion, that makes a person feel so good?
Is it because we remember what we were once like? Is it because we wish we could be so innocent once again? Is it because we realize where we are in Life? Whatever it is, it brings a smile to the face and a bit of joy to the heart. Such was our day today.
June 10 Friday
Some days not much happens. This was one of them. So if you are looking something to read this is probably not the place today. Linda washed one of Katherine's rugs while I ate more of those molasses cookies. Linda was tired. I was stuffed. Other than that, Linda talked to Katherine and I messed around on the Internet.
It is also interesting how changes occur in our lives. Linda's time with Katherine had been going great, and we had moved our departure back to Thursday, the 16th. But the best laid plans as they say, often get changed.
This evening we made tentative plans to get our MotoSat repaired in Goshen, IN, late this week, which means we will be leaving here on Wednesday morning and driving to Goshen, planning to arrive in the early afternoon. If all goes well, it should only take a day or two to get things back up and working, at which time we will have to decide whether to stay in Indiana for a while longer, head over to Toledo or up into Michigan. Maybe this is where Sara comes into play, or maybe we will do what we will eventually be doing anyway, and just head towards Grand Rapids.