Old Diary

Raindrops keep falling on my head

It’s a lovely, rainy afternoon.  And I really mean that!  Midwestern rains are so unlike other rains — to me they are comfort, almost as good as comfort FOOD! The sound of dropping water, whether on leaves, or roof, or pavement — it’s like Momma Nature’s heartbeat.  And the sound of good old Midwestern thunder — well… it’s like the hiccups to me:  natural, but always unexpected — and it usually makes me giggle inside.  I just love it.

Sights, sounds, tastes, aromas — they are our contact with the outside world. Entire worlds of memories can focus upon a single sensory moment.  I remember places I have visited by what I ate — so taste if particularly strong for me.  I remember people I’ve met by aromas (sometimes good, sometimes not).  Sounds trigger memories of neighborhoods; often of vacations with family.  And obviously a glimpse of my sweetie’s face can bring a lifetime of memories to mind.

I have a number of friends; women who posed for me in days gone by; several of whom are/were Sign Language interpreters.  I have been particularly blessed to have known them — not only for what we did in studio, but more importantly for an awareness they brought me of what it can mean to live without sound — without hearing.  Without a doubt they have been responsible for an growing appreciation in my life of all of my senses.

On a day like today when I have a day off, I don’t have to be anywhere, I have the luxury of sitting here, at the back of the coach, in my little office I can gaze out the window at the trees, I can watch the water play off the leaves, I notice droplets at the end of pine needles and wonder how long before they fall, or how much larger they will need to get before weight overcomes surface tension and falls to the ground.

I’m not big on sitting around, staring out windows, but I really like my little office.  The rear office sold usIt’s a place of solitude (assuming I don’t have the TV blaring).  It’s a place of reflection.  I often sit here and the faces of friends from long ago flash before my eyes.  Sometimes I take a moment to drop them a line when I’ve thought of them; others I’ve lost touch with and say a little prayer for them, hoping they are well and still fighting the good fight.

I may talk about weather a lot, but I do like the rain.  It’s good for the earth, for the plants, for the critters, and for us too.  Let me close off today with some thoughts about dancing in the rain…. and a video of the Deborah Iowa Eaglets dancing in the rain….

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here again tomorrow.  Why not stop by and say HI!

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Old Diary

One Nighters

How many walk-ins can you get in one day?  Typically for us that’s only one or two.

It’s funny that even when we have somewhat of a routine, still, every day is different. Most weeks our longest days are Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  After a three day holiday we add in an extra busy day — the following Monday.  And Memorial Day weekend was such a weekend.

This weekend the Monday night “after” the weekend was busier than normal.  With 6 walk-ins, every time I sat down to relax someone else was driving in the gate.  Don’t misunderstand — I say it that way but it’s not like we were inconvenienced — I enjoy the interactions and I’m almost never in a hurry to draw an interaction to a close — if people want to talk — I let them.  It’s amazing the things you learn when you let people talk. campfire

The change to a 24 hour advance reservation continues to raise questions and cause changes in behavior.  Everyone is pretty understanding of the change — but then I think most people realize we are volunteers — and we don’t make the policy so complaining to us isn’t going to make any change.

In the same way that I say, there’s not right way to RV, it also seems there’s no such thing as the perfect RV site.  I love the way campers all have their preferences for their ideal sites.  Some love shade, others avoid it (though if you’re here at Highland Ridge you’d better like shade because there aren’t any sunny spots).  Listening to campers tell you about what they’re doing, and what they’re looking for in a site just amazes me.  So many people like the exact opposite of what we like.  I LOVE IT!  There really is room for all sorts in this world.

I don’t know how you find it when you start talking with strangers, but I find that more often than not, other people want to hear the sound of their own voice; so it’s not hard to get people to tell you their life’s story (if you want to hear it — or even if you don’t want to hear it).  It’s easy to learn about their family’s, their homes, their jobs, where they’re going and how they’re going to get there.

Tent-Campers-1In other settings being that open might not always be such a good thing.  If you were really concerned about your security it might be prudent to be a bit tight-lipped about all those details but one thing about campers is that even the ones who come from big cities seem to let down their defenses when they get out in the woods. And to be honest — after 5 years on the road I don’t really see any reason to behave any differently.  I have yet to hear another camper or RV’er complain about having been ripped off as a result of being too open to other campers — or having been robbed, or … well, whatever.

I suppose part of the openness is due to the average age of RV’ers. A lot of us grew up in happier times, in friendlier times, in more honest & trustworthy times.  We grew up with company’s who valued their employees enough to take a loss to keep good employees even when times were bad.  We grew up with employees who valued their jobs to look out for the boss’ best interest and to put in an honest day’s work for a day’s pay. Many of us lived in homes to which we never owned a key for the locks, and never locked the doors.  Those life-long values don’t change just because one retires.  And they are reflected in everything one says and does.

Another thing I’m really enjoying this year is the number of folks using the kids playground.  All the weekend family campers have been putting our remodeled playground to good use and it’s not just kids over there — having been sent by the adults to get rid of them.  I’m happy to see parents in the playground along with the kids — helping them, talking to them, encouraging them — while the little ones play.  It’s easy as a parent to seek a little respite from the little ones — but so many of the parents we’ve seen here are right in there with their children:  enjoying their youth, and maybe reliving a little of their own.  It makes a person feel good about the state of family around here.  The adults may be career people during the week — but come camping time they are investing in those kids the way they deserve to be invested in.

I was surprised to hear that our group of 11 campers in what we call The Electric Loop took their kids over to the beach and the kids actually got in the water over the holiday.  Pool noodlesThey were so excited about going swimming that the little ones even got into a tussle about who was going to get which colored Swim Noodles!  I guess blue is not the color of the year — at least not among that group!

In an era where everyone has hand sanitizer I was tickled to see that among the same group there were little ones who were getting “properly” dirty — I mean grimy faces, arms, leaves in hair — you name it.  The kids were finding snails and all manner of creepy crawlies — they even brought them over to us as we made our rounds in the campground — happy and proud to show their findings!  It brought back memories of my own wandering up and down little creeks and making ‘boats’ out of wooden paint paddles to float up and down the creek.  I’m glad that every parent isn’t super paranoid about a little dirt.  I really think that part of the way our bodies develop antibodies to disease is by being exposed to a variety of dangerous things in small quantities — exactly what happens when kids go exploring and getting dirty.

Anyway… our walk-ins are having fun and it’s time for me to make another trip through the campground while Peggy finishes up the laundry.  I’ll be here tomorrow, why to stop by and chat?

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Old Diary

Can I have change for the showers?

It’s early on a Sunday morning and we see a camper approaching our door — with money in his hands.  What’s up?

I get up from my breakfast — that’s one thing about camp hosting:  interrupted meals. coin-op showers (Last time we did this gig we never finished a meal without interruption in 6 weeks!)  Nice looking middle aged guy comes to the door and asks, “Can I have $10.00 in change for the showers.”

It’s not often I get to tell someone that the price of something has gone down, but that’s my pleasant duty this morning as the CORPS has removed the coin-operated feature of their campground showers.  Nice that.  It’s only ever been a few of the CORPS campgrounds that charged for showers.  Several of them in our area do — so I always took it for granted that showers cost $0.25 for 3 minutes and it never bothered me.  I can’t say that for campers who are from other parts of the country and were outraged by pay showers — a lot of whom we met on our last tour of duty here.

I guess it was a matter of public opinion.  Then again it might have been a matter of securing cash on the site — seems the CORPS is particularly interested in how cash is handled at their locations — so getting rid of the coin-op feature may have more to do with trusting their own employees as anything else.  I know loss by theft had been an issue when we were gigging for the Forest Service.  The staff there were sure that volunteers were stealing free showers. So much for trusting your volunteers…

But, showers are free here now. And everyone is happy.

It used to be that the CORPS sold firewood at this site.  They don’t any longer.  Haven’t for over 5 years. In fact, they tore down the corral where they used to keep the firewood the last time we did this gig — so… three years ago…

im000329Yet, people still come up to us and ask where to get firewood — clearly expecting that the answer would be right there.  I’m sorry, but we don’t.  There are two enterprising farmers nearby who sell wood for as good a deal as you’d get at any other campground — $5.00 a bundle.  Or $15 a wheelbarrow full.

Remembering what used to be always seems to come up. And as the campers here said today,  “Now it’s real camping”  — when the power’s out!  I’m sure the power company will have the problem fixed in 4 or 5 hours.  In the meantime, we’re gonna sit back, enjoy the peace and quiet, humor the campers when them come up to tell us the power is out and think to ourselves how nice it is to be out in the woods on a pleasant Spring day…

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here again tomorrow morning.

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Old Diary

Things to do in the rain

It was a rainy, soggy holiday weekend and it’s always interesting to see what people will do to pass the time while camping.

There are those who solve the 20160528062743126what-do-to-in-the-rain problem simply by not showing up.  Yup,  we had our share of those this weekend.

There are always the ones who get out a board game, or a deck of cards and spend the time playing games.  We had a few of those!

Then there are others who are content to sit under their extended awning, sip a few glasses of wine and hope that the dogs — who are already all wet — will stay where they are and not come over wanting some loving!  Bernese Mountain Puppy with wet furOne couple with three dogs clearly had adopted that approach and every time we walked past we were greeted by a slightly soggy looking Bernese Mountain Dog.

The folks I feel sorry for were the ones with three kids who arrived in a pop-up camper and about 45 minutes after arriving I saw them back at the check-in.  It seems that the motor what operates the pop-up lift mechanism was malfunctioning and they hoped we had an electric site they could switch to — so they could use an alternate method of raising the pop-up.  The three kids with them were not very happy that camper was broken.

Cartoon_OChildren, of course, don’t seem to mind the rain as much as parents.  A lot of them are happy riding their bikes in the rain, the same as if it was dry — and with rain come puddles that they can ride THROUGH…. splash, splash, splash.

wingmanI see TV antennas cranked up to full height.  All the folks with Winegard Batwing antennas are beating the rain the old fashioned way:  by watching TV!

There will always be this folks to set up camp, and then leave to find some drier place to spend time: the shopping center, the grocery store, the local bar, the movie house.  But then in Spring Valley there is no shopping center, and no movie house.  There are numerous bars — this IS Wisconsin after all. But the grocery store closes early on Saturday!

As for us, we still had our report to work and rounds to make — covering the golf cart with a tarp helps keep it mostly dry to we don’t get too wet in the rain.  We do get more questions however.  I’m getting good at standing under an umbrella and briefing campers on alternative plans.Tick-Identification-Card

At least there aren’t a lot of folks out on the trails; so there isn’t a lot of worry this weekend about ticks.  It seems that deer ticks are quite prevalent this year — we’ve already heard reports from the rangers.

A few more folks will arrive on Saturday – today.  A few campers were hoping it would dry out rather than having to set up camp in the rain.  Some will cancel.  Most will have a good time regardless.

As for us.  With Kathryn here this weekend we have plenty to catch up on.  She deposited our mail and our prescription drugs, so we’re caught up with the “world.”  And we’re getting caught up on family matters and gossip and, of course, eating.  Michael’s allergic to seafood, so we had to have some fresh fish for dinner, and we always seem to be able to come up with something she hasn’t had recently.  So, for us, the soggy weekend isn’t a problem.

So there you have our Saturday morning thoughts.  Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll chat with you tomorrow.

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Old Diary

All Fixed Up

Thursday before the holiday and we’re ready for ‘them.’  My head is back to normal after the dentist’s drill.  After getting pumped full of anesthetic it took a while for all that junk to clear out of my system.  This morning Phil the maintenance guy came around to fix our phone and Internet lines — so we’re back up to full functionality. I had hoped to get some more leaf blowing done before the weekend but everything’s still too damp after our recent rains so that will wait till after the holiday.

I originally wrote this to publish before Memorial Day, but then something came up so this ended up posting after the holiday.  Not an apology, just an explanation.

We’ve been talking about the weather lately.  It seems after numerous situations where bad weather has been the topic of the day that our little corner of the world is slightly less likely to see the worst of the neighboring weather.  We’ve been noticing this over several years — that the severe storm warnings tend to focus North and West of us, or South and East of us.  Oh, there’s no telling Momma Nature what she should be doing, but by sheer number of “Alerts” and “Warnings” we are already ahead of the game again this year.  There are those places known as Tornado Alley, and others that get their regular crippling winter Ice Storms — we are usually pretty lucky here by being spared the worst of the steering winds.  That doesn’t mean we won’t get storms this year — now that I’ve commented on them.  But we are thankful for the previous good fortune we’ve had.

We have at least 2 ‘groups’ in the park this weekend.  One has 11 sites.  Another has 4.  And I think there’s another group who do BBQ contests — not sure if they’ll be cooking this weekend or just kickin’ back. (But one can always hope.😀😀 )

Our seasonal rangers / interns have gotten enough of their training that we’re starting to see them roaming around solo — they are incredibly happy about that — it’s always fun to share those kind of new life experiences with young adults — it reminds us of what it was like when we were new to the work world and having our own workplace firsts.  Makes me feel good.

I guess Peg & I are in a holding pattern until Katy gets here.  Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here to chat in the morning.

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Old Diary

Perceptions Aren’t Reality

May27

This morning’s weather radar — and what Kathryn get’s to drive around/through on her way here.

Staying in the moment is a deceptive place to be!  Just because one perceives their environment doesn’t mean their perception is accurate!  It’s rather the same difference as is found between an opinion and truth.  Just because one has an opinion about something does not make that either a fact, or the truth. (And yes — I’m still one of those dinosaurs that believes there is and can be such things as absolute truths.)

Like most of the parents I know, when our family is traveling we’re always a bit on edge; always waiting for that “Arrived Safe” from whomever the traveler might be.  Today, there are some sizable weather cells betwixt Kathryn and us, so we’re understandably eager to have her through them and into the good weather.  (If indeed there turns out to be any good weather this weekend.)

After her early morning “I’m Leaving” message I checked the rain numbers for our area.  (doncha just love text messages from your kids — no matter what age they are!) We normally get about 3.5” of rain in May and this year we’ve had… WHAT? …  Only 1.34”?????

How can that be?

Seems like twice that?

Mumble, mumble, mumble….

That’s the thing about living in the moment.  You are left with impressions of the moment — impressions that aren’t always accurate. I know that as an RV’er impressions are often the only thing I have to report as we aren’t in many of the  places we visit long enough to assimilate truths about them — what we experience are isolated points in time aside from context and ignorant of trends.

When in school I never liked history. But I wasn’t out-in-the-world for very long before I began realizing that history is a lot more important than I ever gave it credence for being. I found myself boning up on history and trying to put my own life into some sort of context;  context I discovered is a lot more important than the smart-aleck young guy living in my body wanted to acknowledge.

context-mattersWithout context we repeat errors.  Without context we adopt exaggerated behaviors.  Without context we commit to ill advised plans.  The builder who ignores the hundred year flood plain is bound to find expensive repairs a frequent experience.  The nation that ignores the morals of their neighbors ends up with a century of war.  etc.. etc., etc.

I don’t know if it’s possible to travel without adopting some inaccuracies about the places you visit.  I know that for us, we can only take away the memories we experience of a place.  Our recent winter in Florida might have been during a cooler and wetter season — but we can’t walk away saying how WARM it had been — because for us it wasn’t that way.

There is a part of me that knows the United States that I remember growing up in, and working in, is a lot better than this United States that seems to have emerged during the current election cycle.  Frankly, I’m embarrassed by the candidates on both sides.  I keep asking myself, “where did these people come from, and are there no better options out there?”  The predominant trait for the front-runners is not what they stand for, but how strong are their disapproval ratings.  That’s a terrible thing to have happen.

It seems as if in the current climate the entire election process is about $$$$$$$.  And I can’t see any way that the Average Joe can do anything to change that.  Politicians themselves aren’t going to suddenly decide to throw away the feeding trough that has made them all pigs and gluttons for more.  So, how we get ourselves out of this current situation is quite beside me.how powerful

Just the other day I was thinking about how down to earth a lot of the young adults we meet are.  There really are a lot of decent, thoughtful folks out there.  And then I turn on the news and after about 30 seconds I want to turn it back off because the stories that reach the media are such trash.  I find myself needing context.  I find that listening to the evening news is quite like listening to the pitter patter of rain on the RV roof:  it often sounds much worse than it is; it often seems to last much longer than it does.

Currently I’m reading a book by Julian Fellowes — the same guy who wrote the screenplays for Downton Abbey. In this book which encompasses past and present from the 1960’s to now he comments on how friendship has changed.  It’s a change that I have thought about myself numerous times because along with the technological changes in the world, the way we see other humans has changed as well.

Friendship used to be a thing of experience.  You became friends over time because you became friends as you got to know someone more and more intimately.

“This is a distinction lost on the modern world where
people who have shaken hands and nodded a greeting
will tell you they ‘know’ each other.  Sometimes they
will go further and assert, without any more to go on,
that so-and-so is‘a friend of mine.’   If it should suit
the other party they will endorse this fiction and,
in that endorsement, sort of make it true.
When it is not true.   Forty years ago we were,
I think, more aware of the degree of a relationship.”

As we travel around we make a lot of acquaintances, and a very few friends.  In fact, during my lifetime I’d say I had a handful of real friends, and a myriad of acquaintances. The thing is, no one want to be an acquaintance.  Everyone wants to think they are friends.  But I’ve never been willing to commit myself to all that many people at once.   It’s hard work to be a friend.

But, back to the thing about perceptions…

Perceptions as regards friends and acquaintances follow the same paths as other perceptions.  A moment’s attention gives you a data point that applies to a moment.  There are no trends,  there are no averages. In that moment of experience you may fully experience all that a person reveals to you of themself; but you’ll only experience all that such a person reveals to you in that moment.  There’s no way to know more about them short of spending … duh … more moments with them.

I’m not sure I want to spend many more moments getting to know either Hillary or Donald.  To be honest, I don’t think either of them would be good for the United States of America.  Similarly,  I don’t know much about the climate here in Highland Ridge — I’ve experienced a grand total of several summer months of it, but whether they are typical or not I don’t really know.  I’ve tried a few restaurants; but I don’t know if they are really good restaurants, or if we were just there on a good night.

I’m happy for this part of my retirement to be a constant flow of temporary experiences.  I’m happy — for a time — to approximate a life without context.  I know that will end at some point.  My need for context will eventually overcome my need for novelty.

criteria decision matrixAll my life I’ve used the the illustration of a matrix to describe how I live my life.  Life is a giant grid and people, places, things, experiences, relationship all fit into that grid in some way.  When I don’t know the coordinates I put those items off on the side until I figure out where they belong.  Then the fit into the matrix and I can… sort of… forget about them:  I know where they fit.

Perhaps that’s partly the reason we haven’t found a “place” that we want to call our retirement home.  Thus far the places we’ve been have been only points in time.  And perhaps I’m jus figuring out right now what I’ve been looking for.  I’m not sure.

Anyway… perceptions are not reality… they are point in time data points that tell us about the moment, but not about what to expect.  I wish I knew what to expect from this election.  I DO know what to expect from Peggy, and from Kathryn, and Michael and Melanie, and many of my close friends.  I also know that I’ll never be able to count on any politician — not on Donald, neither on Hillary — or even Bernie.

So, on this Friday before Memorial Day weekend there you have it.  The reality that Presidents send young men and women into battle — often for reasons more their own, than reasons of the nation.  And I’ll do my own grieving for those lost.

And I’ll be here tomorrow,  to chat if you will.  Why not stop and spend some time?

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Old Diary

Changeup

Wednesday morning.  Visit-The-Dentist Day.  Ugh. That’s 6 hours away, so I have plenty of time to look forward to it!  Which is why I’m thinking about other things!  (And in the end they prepped me for a crown.  It was actually the least unpleasant dentist visit I can remember — though I did remember in the process that my body metabolizes lidocaine rapidly,  VERY rapidly!)

I woke up this morning after a night of active dreams.  It seemed a good time to make some changes.  Seeing as we are here for another few months and we can’t change our locale, I decided to change my bog template.   and the decision it’s time to change things up a little — and I decided to change the template on my Blog. By the time you read this that will have happened 5 days ago! I guess that’s how far ahead I am with future blogs — still and all, it’s what’s on my mind at the moment.

Pictorico Twenty Fifteen Twenty SixteenI had been using the theme Pictorico.  I’m never fully happy with WordPress themes but from time to time I feel the need to change, just to change. I switched  to Twenty Fifteen a theme that I never used before (prior to Pictorico it had been Twenty Fourteen).  I would have tried Twenty Sixteen but it’s not a full width template and that’s one of my criteria.  Themes that arbitrarily decide that your screen should be only so wide are just a waste of real estate in my mind.  When I was still hosting I had a theme I really liked but that’s not available to the wordpress.com family and I don’t particularly want to pay extra for a modified theme.

All of which is brought on by the fact that change is a part of life.  And I change my blog look as I fee I am changing.  From time to time I feel as if certain aspects of life or my blog are changing.

I heard a great quote yesterday.  I really wanted to share it because it really struck me upside the head.

The true measure
of all our actions

is how long the
good in them lasts.

I found that a particularly sobering thought.  And it’s one of the drawbacks of the RV lifestyle.  It is by nature a transitory life, a migratory life,  and perhaps a little hard to find lasting meaning in it.  I know friends who have struggled with the fact that their earlier lives were spent actively engaged in family and church and civic activities which RV’ing interfered with.  It’s a emptiness or lack that I can understand and sometimes share.  But then what we have done with our our entire life is one thing and what we accomplish in retirement might be quite a separate kettle of fish.

The Lonely BenchWe loaded up the larder for Kathryn’s arrival. By the time I got done in the dentist’s chair my jaw was throbbing and I wasn’t in the most let’s-go-shopping mood — but I didn’t want to make the trip back to Hudson later int he week so we just sucked it up and did that while we were so close to the grocery.  know Peg is specially looking forward to the weekend and her visit, even if it’s a short stay.  We’ll try our darnedest not to shirk off our duties on her shoulders. 🙂

speak of your joy often

While in River Falls for the dentist I wanted to get my hair cut — and had a very interesting experience at the barber.  There’s a place on Main street called, of course, “Barber Shop.”  I stopped there once — lights on, door locked, no answer.  Walked away.  Looked them up in Google and called.  Sure, we’re open.  Walked back and door unlocked, two white guys sweeping floor.

“Are you my 1:20 appointment” one asks.

“No. Can you take a walkin?” I ask?

“Sorry, can’t help you today.  Tomorrow we have room.”  says a guy sitting next to an empty barber chair and the other one is standing next to another empty chair.

I ebbed off and left.  There was another barber shop at the end of the block and around the corner.  I walked in there.  I’m greeted by a monster black guy — I mean he’s as solid as I am and about 4″-5” taller than me — with long dangly braids. I felt like a midget next to him.  He really was imposing. The place is called Gentz and that maybe should have given me a clue but undaunted I asked if he had time for a walkin.

Yup!  He walked me right over to his barber chair and we got started.

It turns out this guy is a gentle giant. He’s imposing, but the nicest, most friendly barber I’ve had in a long time.  He, his girlfriend and their two kids moved up from Chicago (her home town is nearby), he opened his shop only three months ago and he gave me a meticulous haircut.  I hope he has a good long career there in River Falls.  He deserves it.  He’s certainly more hungry for business than his competition, and he’s a lot more personable.  There is a very small black population in Northern Wisconsin to begin with.  River Falls (according to City-Data) is 92% white — so I’m sure he’s going to have a bit of an uphill battle gaining acceptance — racial lines have NOT disappeared in Wisconsin.  But this guy deserves a good long run in this town.  I’m glad I stopped.

That was our Wednesday.  The phone and Interwebs are still down — I’m using my MiFi box and no word about fixing the CORPS ethernet connection yet.  The weekenders start arriving today.  4 or 5 campers are due in today.  Bring on the Weekend!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here again tomorrow to chat!

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