Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Don't Try This Stunt at Home: An Idiot and His Leaf Blower

I always told my three daughters to stay away from boys until they turn 35 and then become men.  However, I am not fooled, even at 35 that is doubtful.

I have a case in point that for some unidentifiable reason I feel compelled to share with you here.

There is a male child by the name of Caleb, who I grudgingly admit, is the product of my now gone womb.  Said offspring was invented and birthed a quarter century ago.  Let me reiterate, this boy of 25 years is assumably approaching the widespread and generally accepted deadline of manhood by the age of 35.

I hesitate to admit that I have any possible relation to this person, for that would insinuate that there has been genetic material passed from one to the other.  And that would more solidly allow a conclusion to be drawn that would place possible blame onto this mother for the actions of her boy.  So let me just define my relationship to this boy at the time of the incident you will read about as that of a distant acquaintance.  (i.e., I was back in the house, watching at a distance.)

I heard conversations and laughing outside behind our home, and went to investigate.  Of course there were 3 boys/men out there doing the "I wonder ifs."  The guilty group included the husband/lover/best friend, the son, and the neighbor guy up the street.

I saw that a swivel desk chair was sitting there on our patio.  I also saw that boy/man who people say is my son with a new manly gas-powered Stihl leaf blower in his hand.  And, I saw sh***y grins on the faces of the three guys.  Uh oh.

Here goes - round,

and around,

and around.

And if you want to get the full effect of the dizzying spinning stunt, watch this video:

I found this chart somewhere about when boys become men, and I had to smile.  I especially like #10.

I don't know about you, but I don't know if there really is an age at which time it happens.  How would YOU fill in the blank?

"Boys become men when they __________________________."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Postcards from Tioga-Hammond Lakes: We're Back!

Yes, back from the wilds of our northern Pennsylvania vacation.  Over the next several days or weeks I'll be blogging "Postcards from Tioga-Hammond Lakes" about our various adventures while away.

We were fortunate to have planned our return to home on the day before Storm Sandy hit our area.

For those of you that regularly read this blog, you will remember that this was our maiden voyage with our new camper.  And may I say that all went well, and we were pleased from start to finish.

We had an uneventful departure Friday a week ago.   Engaging the easy-slide feature of our 5th wheel hitch provided us with a much easier experience getting out of our tight parking space than our previous parking effort backing into the tight space.

My husband felt that the camper towed easily, even in spite of the additional weight in the bed of the truck due to the firewood we were hauling.  It was completely possible to forget that there was a behemoth box chasing us down the road.

At times the mountains seemed to glow.
It was a beautiful two hour drive up into the northern central part of Pennsylvania, not far from the New York border.  At every turn of the road the vistas were stunning, and every Fall I am amazed again at the beauty of nature in this area.

At one point I turned around in my seat (I guess to check if the camper was still following us), and noticed some unidentified thing flapping in the wind behind the hitch, lifting in and out of the truck bed.  Not a moment later I watched our black sewer hose lift up and over and fly out and down the road behind us.   My husband saw it land and immediately get run over by a car, so we will be shopping for a new one.  We have definitely learned our lesson about leaving things in the back of the truck that do not have enough weight to stay there, and we'll be smarter more careful in the future.  Apparently the wind dynamics of towing a 5th wheel are different than when towing a regular trailer.

We headed for the Ives Run Campground of the Tioga-Hammond Lakes area.  This campground and the dam is a project of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and is nicely maintained.  The paved sites are spacious with quite a bit of shade, and about half have full hook-ups.  Many of the sites have a serene view of the Hammond Lake.  

We had an easy park into our site once we arrived.  The campers in the next site were somewhat of a greeting committee, and informed us that the previous tenants in our site had drug half of the tree away with them when they left that morning.  Apparently that guy figured the paved roads in the campground were for decoration only.

 Must have created quite a stir in the campground, and looking at the tree, we did see a huge scar where a large section had been torn off.  The tree is now X-rated, apparently to be taken down.  Geez, I don't want to ever drive down the highway anywhere near that guy.

Once we were parked, unhitched, and completely set up, we set about to relax a bit and begin exploring all the features of our camper.  For a while we sat reading and watching our electronic fireplace.  (The weather had changed outside, and cold, windy rain is the reason we had opted to include an indoor fireplace.)

We experimented turning on every switch in the place, like two little kids.  There are more than enough lights, and even though the majority of them are LED lights, it still feels cozy and warm in there.

At the end of our evening, the husband/lover/best friend informed me that a very large weight had removed itself from his shoulders.  Ever since bringing this new camper home and having such a difficult time parking it into our space, he had worried about being able to get it back out or not when the time came to make our first trip with it.

Our first night we slept fairly well, and we were glad the heater worked well and kept us comfortable.  Unlike our previous trailer in which we could easily hear the heater kicking on and off, in this camper we were blissfully unaware of those sounds as its location is more under the "downstairs" living area.

In the morning we made a joint decision to keep the bedroom television unplugged while not in use.  That little blue power light and its reflection in our closet door mirror definitely lights the room up and catches your attention if you roll over or open your eyes during the night.  We are not big tv watchers anyway, so we are still scratching our heads as to why we have one in the bedroom at all.

So, let the adventures begin.  We're here.  We're set up.  We love the new digs.

Gettin' to know the new camper, oh yeah.  More postcards to come.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Into the Wilds

We're off today on our long awaited first outing in our new camper.  Yes, we are going on a 9 night trip up into the wilds of north central Pennsylvania.  WE.  ARE.  SO.  EXCITED.

Those of you that camp know that the first adventure in a new RV is an adventure in more than one ways.  Along with the sightseeing in the area that we will be doing, there is the experience of learning how all the systems of the camper work.  And there are those little pesky things, like finding a random screw laying in the rug (where did that come from), turning on a switch (and apparently nothing happens), and that tiny puddle of water by the shower (is it a leak or just from drying off?)

I'm sure we won't sleep overly well the first night, being too excited to finally be in our new camper.  We will be checking the refrigerator, wondering if it is cooling properly and determining what is the best setting for our needs.  I will be uneasy using the stove the first time.  There's always that irrational fear that maybe it'll blow up or something.  The central vacuum?  No worries there - I'll be having some fun with that.

And of course, there's the drama of towing it to our first campsite.  I'll probably be a bundle of nerves, and I'll definitely be holding the Oh Sh**!  handle on my side of the truck.

We are planning a nice relaxing time in the Ives Run Campground of the Tioga-Hammond Lakes Federal Recreation area.  We've camped there before, and the sites are large and paved with full hook-ups.  Most sites have some shade trees nearby.

With the leaves at their color-changing peak, I figure we will be surrounded with beauty.

In the past we have spotted a number of Bald Eagles in that area, so we'll keep watch for those.

A bald eagle seen in the lakes area
Also nesting in the area are flocks of osprey, which we hope to find.

So off we go, and of course it's raining - not what you want when you are trying to operate all the systems of a camper that you are unfamiliar with.  We hope to arrive at our destination before dark, so we will make the best of it.

I don't know if I will have some or even any internet capability while there, so I may go off the blog line for the vacation.  If so, watch for Postcards from Tioga-Hammond Lakes when I return.  See ya!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Projects Update

The work continues.  Progress is happening, and I think it's time to give an update.  Some of you may remember from previous blog posts that there are two simultaneous projects going on.  (What were we thinking?)

First I wrote about cleaning up our office and giving it a makeover.  Here is a picture again from before I started the organization process.  This is my desk, and although I know exactly where everything I need is located, it's not a pretty sight.  Not much room to work either.

And here's a worse view in case you weren't convinced this project needed to be tackled:

It makes me tired looking at this photo now.
I started sorting and organizing, one paper at a time, somewhere back in the middle of July.  By the end of August, I had made some progress, as you can see in this next photo.

As of yesterday then, here is where I am with my corner of the room:

Of course this is only telling half of the story.  I had never shown you the other desk in the room.  You can see the corner of it peeking into the photo above down in the right bottom corner.  I resisted showing you that desk back in July, because even though my desk was messy, compared to his desk mine looked pristine.

You know how it is - you get a new cell phone, and there's a box and all sorts of papers that come with it.  And onto the desk goes the old cell phone and the new packaging and papers.  You run out of printer ink, and you save the empty cartridges meaning to return them to staples.  You buy a new refrigerator, and there's a booklet of "important" information you plan to read.  You get a piece of mail that will require looking up 4786 other items in order to return the mail to the sender, and you add that to the pile.  And on and on.

Although this is not his desk, his was just as bad.
So I've been chipping away at all the debris of daily life that has stacked up on his desk too. 

And I'm happy to say, that I've made progress there too.  Along the way I've become wiser (after 34 years of marriage), and I've realized that he is no longer allowed to have a desk.  He can do whatever he wants with his desk at work, but no more dumping grounds desk for him here at home. 

This WAS his desk and bookshelves, and yes, that is my glass of wine you see there.  For a project of this magnitude, one can appreciate a little wine to keep oneself mellow.  I'm sure you can all see the abundance of wildlife surrounding his man space, too.  That is a red fox pelt hanging there on the right. Although I love wildlife, that stuff must leave now, and go elsewhere.

I have organized a junta, and this is now MY desk.  PERIOD.  

Tonight we remove the furniture from the room, and in a week construction begins.  New ceiling, repair and repaint the walls, level up the floor, carpet the floor, new lighting, new bookshelves, and new furniture.   I am keeping only the desk, because I like the inset red top.  The new color scheme in the room will be worked around that desktop.  Stay tuned; I'll post pictures to update.

A note of interest about this office is that originally it was used in the 1800's as a summer kitchen.  Our house was built about 1890, and when we moved in it was obvious that this room along with a small bathroom had been added onto the main house.  There was a large gas stove and a deep sink in this kitchen, giving the appearance that the room was used for cooking and canning in the summers.

Of course, in the way that these things work, because we need to level the floor up to the level of the main house, that will also require completely doing over the bathroom back there too.  I'll blog about that later, as I'm still in the design phase for that.

Now onto the other ongoing project.  

Phase 1 was completed in the Fall of 2011.  That was the purchase and demolition of an old (damaged beyond reasonable repair due to a leaking roof) home next to ours.  We also landscaped both sides of our property only back as far into the yard as our house extended.

Our house is on the left of the work area.
Phase 2 was completed in the Summer of 2012.  Additional landscaping was completed behind our home, and a patio was installed back there.

In this photo the patio work has just begun.  Puppy Sheila is overseeing the project.

Here is the completed patio, with new plantings around it.  There is some siding on the house that needs work also.

Here is the finished Phase 2, with all the furniture ready for entertaining.

And here is a view looking out the back door of our patio.

That brings us to the present.  Phase 3 work will begin in a few days.  We will have ground lighting installed in the landscaping, at steps and walkways, and around the yard to uplight several of the trees.  We will also be installing a  (surprise)  farther back in the yard.  Stay tuned!  

Phew!  In the midst of all of this excitement the husband/lover/best friend and I are leaving soon for a camping vacation in the Tioga - Hammond Lakes area of northern Pennsylvania.  We will be relaxing and seeing some sights, but at the same time designing a bathroom.  Perhaps I will need a vacation from my vacation.

So as you can see, I've been hanging around, doing some stuff.

One day at a time.  Minute by minute.  It's all good.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Staycation (Not!)

I think I picked the wrong career.  Instead of following my life dream of becoming a math teacher, which I did and which I loved, by the way, I should've become a travel agent and planned trips.

You see, my idea of a perfect STAYCATION is to stay in my pajamas all day, letting the hours flow by as I plan trips to exotic and interesting places.  There is so much to see in our state and country and beyond, and if I'm not free to go right now, at least I can enjoy exploring them by internet until later.

My friends and family will verify that I can write a great trip.  We've taken some very fun and memorable trips together.  And, as always, there are some new ones in the works.  The problem for me is this:  while working on a specific trip, I stumble across so many other interesting places that grab my attention.  Before I know it, it's bedtime and I've staycationed the day right away.  Oh how pleasantly, though!

Anyway I thought I'd show you all some of these exotic and dreamy places that I've come across.  First is an interesting resort that is an engineering marvel.  I just don't want my reservation placing me in an end room.

Then I came across this underwater suite.  How amazing would it be to stay in a room like this?  I would probably never leave my room during the day.  Too many fish to keep track of.  At night?  Hmmm.  Now that could be kind of eerie.  Not sure I'd sleep.

Another underwater resort, the Arkhotel, is still in the design phase, and is based on the concept of a sort of floating ark.  For both of these under-the-water hotels, guests are brought in by small underwater submarine pods.

Some of the amazing resorts I've looked at are all about the offered amenities.  Here's a hotel in which each room offers a selection of pillows.   I suppose the weary traveler can make his selection, and sleep like a baby.

And speaking of being weary, if you become tired while bathing in this resort's bathroom, just stop and hang out for a while in the provided hammock.  Cool tub too, huh?

At this next resort, the butler will slice off slabs of your selected bath soap for you.

And finally.....drumroll please!  I have found the resort destination of my dreams.  If I were celebrity-type wealthy, this next place would be at the top of my list.  Well, it is at the top of my Bucket List, but I keep bypassing it for cheaper alternatives.

Jade Mountain, on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.  Here is what the website has to say:  "Rising majestically above its 600 acre beach, Jade Mountain St. Lucia is a cornucopia of organic architecture celebrating St. Lucia's stunning scenic beauty."

Yes, the views from the "sanctuaries" are beautiful.  And that is partly because the suites are open to the outside on the fourth side.  Your own private infinity pool draws you out into the view.

And, each "sanctuary" has its own decor and color theme.  Perhaps yours will have a palette of green shades:

Or maybe red and blue is more to your liking:

Even the bathrooms at this luxury resort are designed so that they can become part of the sanctuary experience.  You can enjoy the amazing views while showering or soaking in the chromatherapy whirl pool tub.  Yes, even the color lights in the tub change while you are bathing.

From reading every single word of every possible menu option and looking at each and every photo hundreds of times on the Jade Mountain website, and from reading all the thousands of satisfied travelers' testimonials, yes, I am more than 100% convinced that I need to go to this place someday before I die.

So, Jade Mountain is still at the top of my Bucket List.  And I won't be draggin' my camper there.  That's for sure.

So another STAYCATION day has sailed by, with plenty of happy dreams enjoyed and a few concrete plans made.

For now, I'll soon be heading up into the mountains for a week of camping in the Pennsylvania Fall beauty.  And that's enough for me.  For now.

What are your dream destinations?  What's at the top of your Bucket List?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Quarter of a Century

Caleb's the one on the left.
Our youngest child Caleb turned 25 yesterday.  How did that happen?

25 years = 300 months.

300 months = 1300 weeks

1300 weeks = 9100 days

9100 days = 218,400 hours

218,400 hours = 13,104,000 minutes

And that's a long time to be alive!

Congratulations, Caleb, you are 1/4 on the way to 100.

Happy quarter of a century!

Wow, you're 25.  Can't believe you're still alive.

Nice work, you've made it halfway through your 20's.

Happy 2 dozen plus 1.

13,04,000 minutes, but who's counting?  (Moi.)

I have so many fond memories of your childhood and the years up until now.

I remember...

.....your first cry as the doctor put you into my arms.  We cried tears of joy too.

.....hearing the doctor tell us that "this apple has a stem on it."  (He is the same doctor that previously delivered our three daughters.)

.....you swimming fearlessly at age 3.  We were exercising you to help with your asthma.  Little did we know then that you would become a multiple medalist in state competition later in your life.

.....your first day of kindergarten.  You confidently marched to school and took your place in the class.  I was the scared and sad one.   You were my last and now you were off to school.

The Pilgrims and Indians in first grade.  
.....your first trumpet lesson.  You were so proud handling that trumpet.  How could we ever have guessed that someday you'd be a part of a world champion music group?

.....your first swim meet.  When you turned at the wall, you looked like a turtle struggling to flip back over.

.....you singing your first solo on the big stage.  You were in 9th grade and playing the part of Doody in  "Grease."  It was awesome the way you became another character.  So fun to watch.

.....sending you away for 3 months to travel, perform, and compete with the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corp.  They traveled thousands of miles, practiced hours a day, competed nearly every evening, and won the World Championship at the end of the tour.  Thank goodness we had cell phones to stay in touch.

The Cadets' 2005 show
.....you bungee jumping in New Zealand on our family trip.  Because you were 16 you were able to sign your life away the papers yourself.  I was dying, until it was over.  The things you do to your mother, Caleb.

.....your senior college trumpet recital.  As a trumpet performance major, this was the culmination of your music career up to that point.  You looked and sounded amazing.

.....the day you obtained your pilot's license.  For you, it was a change in the direction of your future.

The past to the present:  lots of memories, all of them good.

The future?  The sky's the limit (and you quite like being up there).

Happy birthday Caleb!  You are loved!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Artistry

It's that time of the year again, and I just love pumpkins.  I've been reading various magazines that have to do with Fall and crafty ideas for decorating, and I've been inspired.  The husband/lover/best friend, son Caleb, and I have had some fun here in the household decorating our pumpkins, and we thought we'd show them off.

Here's our awesome 2012 display:

Son Caleb takes credit for the ghosty pumpkin in the center.  The simple face was made on a white pumpkin with black matte paint.

Husband Bob made the awesome spider web pumpkin.  We had seen this pumpkin idea featured on the front of the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest "Halloween Tricks and Treats" magazine.

 Materials he needed to make this piece of arachnophobian artwork were:

a large side-ways laying pumpkin
white spray paint
black and green acrylic craft paint
a small paintbrush
a plastic spider from the dollar store
double-sided tape to hold the spider on the pumpkin

This next pumpkin I made, following directions I saw in the same magazine:

I love this pumpkin!  So stylish and yet easy.  This pumpkin required the following supplies:

1 large upright pumpkin
zebra Duct Tape
green acrylic craft paint for the stem
a small paintbrush
a plastic bat purchased at the dollar store
double-sided tape to anchor the bat

This next little guy was so simple:

So cute, and so easy.  Took me maybe 10 minutes.  Again, he was one of the featured pumpkins on the cover of the magazine mentioned above.  Here is what I needed:

1 small pumpkin
wide black rickrack
double-stick tape

This last little pumpkin has pizzazz.  The fishnet gives this little girl some spunk, and I think she's on the prowl for some fun.

There they are folks!  And a happy Fall and Halloween season to you all!

What are you doing with YOUR pumpkins?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Team Spirit

In the span of a recent 100 mile drive, I passed through three towns in which the locals had tied school-colored ribbons throughout the area.  Arriving home I noticed the green and white ribbons displaying our local school district's colors, too.

I was thinking as I drove that day about where we are in the football season - heading down the home stretch at least for the high school teams.  Basketball is right around the next corner.  Most schools minimally have cheerleaders to stir up the spirit for many of the different team sports.

How do these various public displays of team spirit get started?  The ribbons, for example.  I wonder who first thought of the idea, because the idea sure has caught on.  Was it the idea of a cheerleader, the girlfriend of a football player, or perhaps the art teacher?  Now you see them during football season in many towns.

When I was younger I played basketball on my high school girls' team, and then later on my college team.  Before each game started, and then at the conclusion of each time out, we did the "hands in" routine.  How did that tradition get started, and I wonder who first had the idea?  Many, many teams do this now.  In fact I think it is unlikely that you wouldn't see a team do the "hands in" as least once before or during a game.  This practice has even extended from the playing field to the corporate office.

And how did the first ever "high five" come about?  I believe the "high five" is now universal in its meaning.  Heck, we've even trained our dog to "high five," and babies learn to do this at a very early age.  I get a kick out of watching as the starting line-ups are introduced prior to a basketball game.  Nowadays it's likely that each player will launch himself out onto the court when announced, chest butt the others already out there (now there's another weird display of spirit), and then high five all around.

There's yet another show of team spirit that I gotta wonder about.  I'm referring to the practice of mobbing the team.  That is, running in toward a huddle and then jumping maniacally onto each other's backs and pounding on the others' heads and backs.  Typically we see this with sports involving larger teams like football and soccer.  How did this phenomenon develop?  All historical sports accounts I have seen and read indicate that teams presented themselves long ago with more pomp and circumstance, not the wild frenzy we see nowadays prior to a game or immediately following a score.

The latest creative means of showing one's team spirit I've seen these days is to strip half naked and paint yourself with your team's colors or some spirit letters.  Spectators that do this seem to get a lot of publicity, for they are basically freezing their tushes throughout an event that is several hours long, and acting totally crazy all the while (to stay warm I think).

Whatever is the latest trend for team spirit, I'm all for it.  After all, I'm a people watcher, and watching all of these crazy antics just makes the event that much more entertaining.  Go team! 

The ultimate display of team spirit