Saturday, October 25, 2014

Red red

While everyone else is posting all of the beautiful Fall colors God has blessed us with, I am here to share with you my lone, valiantly brave, last rose of the Summer.  She is holding her head high, daring anyone to rob her of her moment in the spotlight.

So here you are red red rose.  You smell divine!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is 9 enough for a gaggle?

We had a pond put in where the sheep used to graze 4 or so years ago.  The fish we stocked it with are getting eatable big.  The pond itself is maturing with all of the vegetation, insects, and various pond life that is needed for a "healthy" pond.  Today as I was heading to work two geese were walking along the road with out a care in the world.  That is when I noticed that our pond is finally complete.  I know, I know, I will live to curse the poop and the weeds this gaggle will introduce to our previously serene setting, but for now I'm going to smile at the sight of these guys.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


This week has been a difficult one.

Three or so months ago a long time friend and co-worker was diagnosed with advance stage melanoma.  Within a week of diagnoses he was told it was everywhere in his body except his brain.  It only took a week longer for that to change.  I often hear people say "it happened so quickly".  I even experience "it happened so quickly" with my own dear dad.  Once again "it happened so quickly".  My friend, Joe, passed away Sunday evening.  His funeral was yesterday.  Joe was one of those guys who everyone loved.  He was everywhere and knew everything about our parish and our parish family.  Fr. Greg gave him a first class send off.  During the eulogy Fr. called Joe "the boss", but more than that - a leader.  When there was something needing to be done, he didn't direct, he led by doing, right alongside everyone else.  As Fr. said it, when someone would ask where something was or how to do something, the inevitable answer was "ask Joe".

The funeral home Jim works for had Joe's funeral.  The visitation was in church.  So as Jim was getting things set up in preparation of the visitation, he was having trouble getting electricity to the lights on each side of the casket.  A co-worker and Joe's son joined in trouble shooting.  Jim finally said, "You know, the problem is the guy who knows the answer is in this casket".  So they asked Joe and he told them to turn on the power strip.

I was wrong when I thought I was prepared for Joe's passing.  I have seen him almost daily for 9 years, often only for a minute when he would bring the mail in or just pass through the church building.  I can still see his slow, steady, walk as he moved from one task to another.  He had slowed down a lot the past few years, and I even found myself getting frustrated at the amount of things that weren't getting done, but Joe always gave as much  as he possibly could.  The finality of his death hit me as we walked to the cemetery... and it was gut wrenching.  My friend, JoAnn, looked at me and said, "I want him back", then we held each other, sobbing.

I want him back.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hi all.  Surprised to see me?  Me too.

Happy New Year!

Is it really 2014?  14!!!  I remember when the world was going to come to an end when we entered into the year 2000.  I happened to be working as an administrative manager at a data center in 1999.  The dire predictions were everything was going to stop working.  Everything from clocks to elevators to every other computer program to mankind.  Period.  Programmers spent years leading up to it rewriting code to go past 1999.  I have to wonder why nobody thought about the fact, when the original code was written, that at some point we would get past the year 19something.  We were all on high alert as we neared midnight that year.  Many of our technical staff spent their New Year's Eve in the computer room, monitoring things in case everything exploded (OK, maybe I exaggerate a bit).  The rest of us were on call... just in case.  Fourteen years later, all of that is just a faded memory.

Another faded memory is that it has been 10 years since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  One mastectomy, a number of operations, and a bit of chemo later - 10 cancer free years!  My most vivid memory was when I talked to the surgeon after the operation, I asked him how bad the cancer was.  He responded, "you don't have cancer... I got it all".  Now that is definitely something to celebrate.

2014 has brought weather challenges to much of the Nation.  Deep freezes where there is usually no freeze.  We had quite a bit of snow and days of below zero temperatures, but nothing like our friends "out East" and the upper Midwest.  All in all we have been the lucky ones.  Tomorrow's weather prediction is around 60 (I know - crazy!)  We will finally get our artificial Christmas tree out of the living room.  The box has to be drug outside to get to where we store it.  Dragging it through snow was not an option.  So tomorrow is the day!

Did you make New Year Resolutions?  I leaned years ago that the best way to set myself up for failure is to make resolutions.  We did start working out again, after shamefully "letting ourselves go" all of last year.  We opted for good old fashioned walking, throwing a ball back and forth while we are walking (which makes me run a lot because I'm so clumsy at catching a ball), hand weights and stuff like that, rather than paying for a gym membership that we won't use because it takes us too long to get there.

I have some posts to be written in the next couple of weeks.  A big, long overdue one, is of our trip last Fall to the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Caroline.  What a wonderful experience.  I planned on coming home and shout into the blogo-sphere how great it was.  Life got in the way.  Over and over I've told Jim that we would be in trouble if we lived closer, because I would be taking classes all of the time.  Stay tuned for that post.

Here's to all - Happy New Year!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

We have a name

Thanks to suggestions from Betty and Chicagolady, our Casita now has a name.  I had been toying with the idea of holding a Casita naming contest, but that turns out to not be necessary.

Betty suggested Cassie or Marshmallow and I loved both names.  Then Chicagolady suggested Tubby.  Be still my heart.  We have a Tubby!

Thank you Betty and Chicagolady.  You are the best!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Maiden Voyage

We chose to stay relatively close to home for our first outing with our Casita.  Our son, Greg, and his family, often camp with friends at Arrow Rock State Park, and were gracious enough to let us crash their party.

Arrow rock has been a favorite day destination for us for many years.  This year the trip was about the campground experience, rather than the charming little town.  For those who are interested, though, I stole this information from the town's official web site. 

For generations, the Arrow Rock bluff was a significant landmark on the Missouri River for Native Americans, explorers, and early westward travelers. This flint-bearing, high limestone bluff first appeared on a 1732 French map as “pierre a fleche,” literally translated as “rock of arrows.” Archaeological evidence shows that for nearly 12,000 years indigenous cultures used the Arrow Rock bluff as a manufacturing site for flint tools and weapons.
Following the War of 1812 and the subsequent peace treaties with Indians in 1815, large numbers of immigrants from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia began pouring into the fertile “Boone's Lick Country,” so named for the salt spring or “lick” across the river.
In the 1820s, the earliest travelers on what became the Santa Fe Trail crossed the river on the Arrow Rock ferry and filled their water barrels with fresh water at “the Big Spring” before heading west. In 1829, the town of Arrow Rock was founded on the bluff above the ferry crossing. Originally named Philadelphia, the town's name was changed in 1833 to coincide with the better-known landmark name, Arrow Rock.
Many citizens prominent in state and national affairs were closely associated with Arrow Rock including Dr. John Sappington of quinine fame and George Caleb Bingham, Missouri's preeminent artist of the mid-1800s. Three 19th century Missouri governors also came from Arrow Rock.
When the Civil War began, Arrow Rock had reached its peak population of 1,000. The region had a decidedly southern character evidenced in its culture, politics and architecture. One-third of Saline County's population was enslaved African Americans. The Civil War precipitated an economic decline from which Arrow Rock never fully recovered. Steamboats and river commerce gave way to railroads that bypassed the town. Two fires devastated the business district, and the population dwindled to 400 by 1910. Today, 45 full-time and 33 part-time residents call Arrow Rock home.
While the village is small, don't be fooled by its size. Arrow Rock remains a vital community. The restoration of the Huston Tavern in 1923 marked the beginning of historic preservation in the state of Missouri and set the stage for Arrow Rock's future. In 1963, the entire town was designated a National Historic Landmark because of its association with the Westward Expansion. In 1968, the home of artist George Caleb Bingham was listed separately as a National Historic Landmark. Arrow Rock is also a certified site on the Lewis & Clark and Santa Fe Trails.
The campground was relatively full and we were definitely a small fish in a big pond. 

Is it my imagination, or is the truck longer than the Casita?  Can you see the blue lights around the belly band of the camper?  Cute, huh.

I think our granddaughter, Anna, said it best.  She said she "just looks for the upside down bathtub".
It is amazing the amount of attention our little guy generates.   People are just fascinated by its size.

For comparison sake, here is Greg and Alicia's RV.  Now this is an RV!  They camp a lot with 2 kids in tow.  It is their home away from home.

Greg and Alicia, Tessa and Bill, and their families showed up to roast hot dogs and marshmallows.  Yes, Arrow Rock is close enough that Tessa and their families could show up for an evening of fun and then head right back home.

Solving the world's problems.
We had so much fun our first time out with our little Casita.  We need to come up with a name for her.  Thank you Greg and Alicia for including us with your friends and for showing us the ropes of camping luxury style!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

New Toy

Jim says he misses my blog.  All together now, "Awwww that's sweet".  It IS sweet!  When he said that, it made me realize that I miss my blog.  It is time to get back into the blogosphere.  

We bought a new toy since the last time I posted.  My friend Patti at Osage Bluff Quilter and her husband, BT, bought a Casita RV a year or two ago.  We checked it out and thought it was pretty cool.  It is compact and lightweight, making it easy to pull, but still has the comforts we want (toilet/shower, kitchenette/table, bed, and AC/Heat)  Ever since, we've cussed and discussed getting a Casita like theirs.  Conversations took place like "We've been wanting to tour the national park sites - what better way to do it" or "Greg and Alicia have an RV - this would let us do a little camping with them without intruding on their space" or "If we had an RV we could easily take the Demon Dog with us".  The conversations were endless until finally Jim became obsessed with finding us a used Casita.  That task should be easy enough, right?  Wrong!  Every time he found one that fit the bill of what we wanted he'd call, only to find out it had already been snatched up.  He finally spotted one in Indiana.  And it was still available!  We talked to the guy and found that he made a hobby/business in his retirement of buying Casita's, adding his own twist to them, and selling them.  We decided it was worth a jaunt to Indiana to check it out.

This Casita (I think it is a 2009) was originally owned by two ladies who bought it so they could tour Canada.  After several months on the road they returned home only to have one of them take ill and die.  It sat in a hay barn for a couple of years before our buddy Roy (we now fondly call him Roy Boy) brokered it for the lady.  

Thanks to road work and horrendous traffic in East St. Louis, Illinois, we arrived at Roy's much later than we had anticipated.  Since we were pretty certain we were going to buy this little gem, we had even scoped out camp grounds close by so that we didn't have to go far before it got dark.  Roy had that all figured out, though.  After he had showed off his pride and joy and convinced us it should be ours, we told him we needed to get going.  He would have none of that.  He already had us hooked into his electricity so we could spend the night in his back yard.  Now that was unexpected!

Roy was a character.  Some of his gems (selling points?) was that the bathroom was haunted.  Every time he went in there he saw an old man looking at him.  The next morning he asked me if I had spotted the old man during the night.  I told him no, there was an old woman haunting the place now....

He had installed "mood lighting" through the tubes that run around the inside perimeter of the Casita.  He was most proud of these lights.  They are white tube lights strung through the tubes and connected to a dimmer switch.  Roy was adamant that we couldn't check those lights out until he was gone because, "He couldn't be held responsible for what might happen when those "mood lights" came on.  (I'll never tell...)

The selling point for me was the mattress.  My one fear of RV life was having to sleep on back breaking foam mattresses.  When I expressed that concern, Roy conveniently remembered he had a high end custom made for a Casita mattress in his basement.  According to Roy it was valued at $800.  When I saw it, I knew this would make all the difference in the world.  Once we talked Roy into throwing the mattress into the mix, we had a deal.  When we got home the next day there was an email from Roy saying he needed a picture of the two of us for the FBI most wanted list for stealing his mattress.  What a riot.  We have since discovered by going through the paperwork he left with us that the mattress did indeed cost between $800 and $900 when it was bought by the original lady owners.  Yep, Roy Boy had removed the mattress and then put it back in as a bargaining chip.  

We have also discovered that Whiskey is an excellent traveling companion.  

Up next is our trip to Arrow Rock State Park.