Sunday, November 27, 2016

Holidays Interuptus

Thanks for coming back to my blog. As you know, I am in the middle of a 4-part series trying to get you caught up on what the end of summer/early fall was like for me. 

The last 2 posts are on their way. However I do have to let you know that there will be a bit of a delay.  

As I write this the 5 day weekend we had over the Thanksgiving holiday is coming to an end. 

Those days consisted of: preparing the house and some of the food on Wednesday, eating food and spending time with family on Thanksgiving; helping my sister-in-law bake fruit cakes and then clearing out our living room in preparation for the tree and decorations on Friday; our granddaughter came and helped us decorate our Christmas tree then I worked on my Christmas Lego display on Saturday; Sunday saw another visit from our granddaughter and Paula & I went to our son's house to try his 2nd ever deep fried turkey for dinner. 

So as you can see it was a very busy weekend. As the first full week of the holiday season begins, I've got a whole slate full of things I have to get done. 

We have some family members coming in for a visit next weekend and we are hosting two of them here at our house. I have to move some things around for that to happen. 

In addition, I want the house to be decorated so we can have at least some type of Christmas celebration with them. 

So what I'm saying is that it's not very likely that I'll be blogging this week. But when things settle down I will come back and finish my current series and share the details of our family's visit. 

I appreciate your loyalty to my blog. Keep checking back. I'll be here again soon. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

10 Things From 4 Months-Part 2

Thanks for coming back. I'm sharing some of the most important factors in my life over the last 4 months. This is the part 2 of 4. I encourage you to keep reading because, this list ends with something very exciting; one of the greatest of blessings of my life. 

For now let's get back to my list...

Making Rooms: Back in May, the room that is my wife's office had been painted (a calming gold), decorated and furnished. By July the only thing left to do was set up of the closet to store her wardrobe. 

Armed with the area's dimensions, she did extensive online research to find the bins and clothing racks she wanted. Combined they would give her the space for her clothes she's been wanting for a long time.  

Over the 4th of July weekend we went to Lowe's and bought the pre-fab units. Although most of them are assembled and installed there is still some work to do to complete the closet. But at least we have made progress. 

Although I haven't really started redecorating the room that will eventually become my den/recording studio, over the summer I did make some major changes to that end.

I decided to sell my rolltop desk in preparation for getting a desk with enough room to allow me access to all my recording equipment. 

Once the desk was gone, I rearranged the entire room. This was no small task because I had to find a new place for Angel's crate, the stand up freezer, the small fridge, Aria's Lego table and the two 6 ft storage cabinets. 

I created a work area using a square card table and a 4ft high 6ft long table in the corner just inside the door on the left.  This area serves as my office/ music spot, and holds my new desktop computer, a printer, along with my ukulele and music books. 

All of this is temporary because early in 2017, I plan on buying the desk that will allow me to permanently set up my recording area. That way I can create as much content as I want. 

While it seems like we are accomplishing our home improvements at a snail's pace at least we're getting there. Our goal for 2017 is to be sleeping in our new bedroom which is currently a storage room. I'm going to do my best to see that it happens. 

 A Visit To St. Louis: September was a busy month for me. There were 3 major events. The last one I'll mention first.

Back in May our friends, Mark & Patty Quigley, moved to St. Louis. It wasn't until the last weekend of September that Paula and I got the chance to go visit with them. 

We had planned on staying a couple of days but because of family commitment we only stayed one. 

We made the 5 hour drive on Friday night and arrived at our friend's house close to midnight. 

The next day we enjoyed some breakfast at their house and some time just hanging out.

Here's a "groupie" of all of us.    

 In the afternoon our hosts drove us around to show us their new surroundings. After lunch at a local restaurant we went into downtown St. Louis. There we drove past the Budwiser brewery, Bush Stadium and the famous Gateway Arch. 
We spent the rest of the day back at the Quigley's town house. Mark and I went to a popular local barbeque place to pick up our dinner to "eat in."

After an evening of playing cards, swapping stories, listening to a special playlist on my Ipod and laughing a lot we called it a night. 

The next morning, after a slight delay because of a nearly flat tire on the rear driver's side rear of my Kia, we were on our way back home. 

I was thrilled by the fact that heading out of town we once again crossed over the mighty Mississippi River. Although it was the second time on this trip. It was the first time in the daylight. Crossing the Mississippi was a travel milestone for both of us.     

It was great to hang out with the Quigley's again, even if it was just for a brief time. We look forward to going back when we are able to spend a little longer and enjoy being with two of our bestest friends. 

Reunion With Friends: The expression "The cherry on the sundae" is very applicable to this next thing. 

The week after my birthday, a couple of my long time friends, Gene and Larry, came to Kentucky on vacation. They were nice enough to spend some time with me here in my little corner of the world. 

Gene was a good friend of my dad's and my church youth leader when I was a teenager. But most importantly after all these years, he's still a great friend. 

Larry, was the coach of my church softball team in the 1980s. He's as much if not, more of a baseball fan than I am and also a good friend. 

After making their way from Easton, PA to Pittsburgh, then on to Cincinnati, on Tuesday September 15, they drove to my house. They hung out with me for the evening just talking about the old days and some of the stuff that was going on now. 

Although I hadn't seen them in probably more than 15 years it felt like we hadn't missed a beat in our friendship. We spent the evening just catching up. I was thrilled to have Paula meet them. 

Over the next couple of days we went to both the National Corvette Museum...
...and visited Nashville including a stop at the Grand Ole Opry house for a tour. 

We ate lunch at one of my favorite barbeque places on Broadway next to the Rymon Auditorium. 

Both in their late 60's Gene and Larry are relatively low tech. Texting with their phones is about as "advanced" as they get. It was a lot of fun to entertain them with some of their favorite music from my Ipod on our trek up and down I-65. Larry couldn't believe that I had more than 10,000 songs on such a small device. 

A week or so after their visit I sent them a few CDs I recorded with some of the songs we had enjoyed together. They both sent me a thank you card with very kind words.   

I can't begin to tell you what a great time I had just being with these guys again. Showing them around my "world" was a lot of fun. But the best times of their visit was sharing memories, stories, and music again. 

The couple of days they were here always will be one of my fondest memories from 2016 and that's saying something. 
Thanks Gene & Larry.  

Those are the 2nd set of memories in my 10 things from the last 4 months. 

Up next, in part 3 of 4, a couple of terrific vacations that are not only highlights of the summer but of the year. See you next post. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

10 Things From 4 Months-Part 1

Hello everyone. Thanks for coming back to my blog. It has been over 4 months since I have posted. If you have been a faithful reader at any time over the last 8 years you know that I have stepped away from writing for extended periods many times. Of course, I've always returned. This is the latest comeback in that pattern. 

Since it's been over 130 days this time. Unintentionally, my absence paralleled the political conventions and and results of the most controversial presidential election in the history of this great nation of ours. 

Everyone knows what happened but for most citizens life did not revolve around "locker room talk" and "email espionage". This includes me.

So if I had been posting during the campaign of chaos what would I have blogged about? Let me fill in the gap for you with a mashup of two of my favorite styles: A series of posts and a top 10 list.  

I'm going to share with you 10 things that have happened in my life over the last 4 months or so. They aren't in any particular order just things I want to share with you.   

Sold Stuff Online:  
In an effort to make a little money for an upcoming trip and get some room in our storage area, throughout July and August, I sold some of my Lego collection, mostly small Star Wars sets, and ventriloquist materials and puppets. 
I did this through group pages on Facebook. The most significant thing I sold was my ventriloquist figure, Ruben. 

Although I was a bit torn about doing this, he was my most marketable "vent" item. 

I had him as part of my puppet collection for 7 years and I have always felt that I never really utilized his potential. That says more about me than anything. 

It was not an easy decision to sell him but I have to be honest with myself.  When I looked at my future plans in regards to "vent" I knew it was time to let him go. 

However, I must say my daughter-in-law, Heather, was very pleased with my decision. He creeped her out. I am kinda sorry that he won't be around to "entertain" her anymore. 

Prior to my midsummer effort to raise funds, I had sold an item or two online. But this time was most profitable, by far. 

A Walking Program: After I pulled the trigger on a special birthday present (more on that later) I knew that I had to get myself in better physical shape or I wouldn't enjoy it. 
I walked through Smiths Grove as often as I could. The hot summer heat and humidity limited the window for walking to early morning or near sundown.
During my walks I enjoyed listening to audio books about the friendship between Andy Griffith and Don Knotts both during and after their days in Mayberry... 
...and details and people involved with the making of and cultural effects of the TV series, Seinfeld. 
Blogger's Note: If you are a fan of either of these shows, I would highly recommend these books in whatever format you choose. They are very interesting. 

I built myself up over the course of 6 weeks to the point where I could walk 2 miles at a time. For me that's an accomplishment and was enough to prepare me for the trip as I had planned.  

In the 2 months since I've come back from my trip, I have, once again, fallen off in regard to walking, but I plan on getting back to it very soon. 

Legos, Of Course: Although I have slowed down a bit over the last couple of months, I still really enjoy building Lego kits. It's mostly a way of connecting with my granddaughter. Every time she comes to visit she anxiously looks forward to seeing what Papa has made for her to play with. Here are some pics of what I have put together for her. 

My favorite build from over the summer was one of the things I like in the Star Wars universe: an AT-AT.

I put this one on display back in my room on the same bookshelf with my VW van. 

Also, over the summer, I bought some new bricks and accessories that will help to improve my Christmas Lego display. I have also gotten this year's Christmas set, a train.

I am looking forward to seeing how these additions enhance our living room during this holiday season. 

Doggie Surgery: If you are a dog owner with a pet who has had to have surgery you'll understand this next event. 

On October 21, our dog, Angel, had surgery to remove the fatty tumors that have been building up in her lower abdomen over the last 10 years or so. They had become a real problem for her in regard to getting around, walking, and going up and down our deck steps. 

I knew that she would be in pain and would need some extra care during her 2 week recovery time. 
What I didn't know was that following her surgery she would have several drainage tubes protruding from her incision. These had to be left exposed and open so she could heal from the inside out. This meant that she "drained" anywhere she went. For two weeks we were constantly cleaning up the floor after her. We tried putting doggie diapers on her but they didn't work.  

In addition, she had to wear a plastic collar that kept her from licking her incision. She really didn't like it at all. It limited her ability to navigate through doorways and getting in and out of her crate. I had to remove her crate and make her a bed she would have no trouble getting to. 

To gain access to her food and water the collar had to be removed. This required my help as well.

She was also on 3 different medications 3 times a day, which she had to be tricked into swallowing.
 Because of the surgery she is now getting around a lot better than she was. It was a difficult couple of weeks but over all it was worth it.  

There you have a few of the 10 things from the past 4 months I want to share with you.

In the next couple of posts I will feature details of improvements and changes in design of our house and share some memories made during a couple of visits from some special people.

Thanks for reading "Part 1". I'll let you know when the next post is published.