Diary, Family

It’s been a rough season…

With our second great grandchild, the first boy in the family in 3 generations.

All my life I’ve been an optimist. I’ve recognized “problems” along life’s way but I’ve always been able — quite easily — to put them to the side and keep moving forward. But even aside from COVID I’ve found the past year or so to be exceptionally challenging.

I’m not yet sure if this marks the beginning of my return to regular posting or not. I’m going to give it a try, to see what happens. But I am at least going to give it a try.

That said, the blogosphere as I know it has changed significantly over the past couple years. While I have tried to dribble out a few posts here and there — to keep the site just a little bit active — a good number of the bloggers I have followed with interest seem to have disappeared from sight/site altogether. That makes me sad. I know we are all struggling our way through the longterm effects of COVID isolation but sadly making our own non-face-to-face isolation even worse won’t help anyone’s mental health at all.

Let me take a few minutes and catch you up on what’s been going on.

  • WE have both (Peggy and myself) avoided contracting COVID. That’s the good news.
  • No one in our nearby family did either.
  • That said, Peg’s brother Fred in California did in connection with a fall and broken bones which put him in hospital and at 80+ years of age with throat cancer he sadly passed a couple months ago. It had been several years since we’d seen him and we felt we could not safely make the funeral trip ourselves so that has been the sad part of our life.
  • Just before the beginning of COVID we were blessed without ur first great grand baby — a girl named Sophia. She is now a month shy of 3 and a lovely addition to the family.
  • A month ago we added another great grand child to the list — a boy named James.
  • On the health front we have been visiting more doctors than pleases us.
  • On top of the routine visits I’ve had my appendix removed.
  • And then there was a Fugax Amarousa (or maybe it’s Amarousa Fugax, I don’t know)— which is a short term partial loss of sight in one eye. Obviously they were concerned about a conventional stroke but after more tests than you can shake a stick at they concluded that it wasn’t veins, and wasn’t heart, and wasn’t clogged arteries — that it was just the optic nerve but still they are monitoring me as a stroke patient out of safety concerns. And they permanently installed a LINQ monitor to determine whether I’m having any heart issues that haven’t been diagnosed.
  • All of those things have seen multiple appointments, multiple blood draws, multiple tests and while I’m glad to be near world-class medical help, it all does get boring — and tedious.
Sophia & James / June 2022

With all this stuff going on in the middle of a pandemic it’s been challenging. I freely acknowledge sometimes feeling depressed — but I sincerely believe that anyone alive in 2022 who doesn’t have situational depression simply isn’t paying attention to the world around them. So, while I have talked this through (actually Peggy and I both have) with our general practitioner it’s not something needing treatment.

We live in a suburb of Milwaukee. While Milwaukee is a hugely Democratic community the outlying suburbs are not. Our town of Franklin is way more GOP than I’m comfortable with but there are reasons we live here that override out our dissatisfaction with the political climate. That being the case I still find myself in a very uncomfortable situation. And the idea that literally 1/2 of the country seem to feel that Donald Trump and his kind are good for the nation strikes me as horribly disheartening. While I have always been optimistic I find myself less so than at any point in my life.

On the COVID front we are both vaccinated and twice boosted. My own lungs give me good reason to NOT WANT to contract COVID. As a result we still mask up for anytime we are in public — which isn’t all that often. Routinely we are the only people in the grocery still wearing masks. Even going at early hours so as not to be around many people. We have ventured out a few times to restaurants where we felt less than comfortable even though all the places we chose were doing a decent job of keeping customers separated and taking appropriate health precautions.

The results of all the stress and the COVID-necessitated isolation has been that I simply haven’t felt like putting anything down on paper. Partly because I don’t want to be reactionary — and there have been a lot of events that push me in that direction. Partly because I’ve ben thinking thoughts about the overall world scene that I’m not sure I want to share with anyone yet. And partly because as one ages it’s simply not quite as easy to compose intelligent content.

We still have a place near he Wisconsin Dells where we can get away from the city and it’s a welcome haven. But at the cost of fuel lately we no longer view the 250 mile round trip quite as casually as in times past.

I guess that’s enough of a catch up for now. I’ll try to talk with you again soon.

Old Diary

The Battle of the Bulge

I’m winning.  At least I think I’m winning.  It’s a lifelong battle and for a couple years I stopped fighting, but steady-on wins the battle.  or is it the batter…. No… battle.pot belly

That recent heart-problem “thing” from last fall put determination back into the battle with my waistline.  I have been losing.  Not as fast as I have on other occasions — but it’s been a slow, steady reduction and at the moment I’m 27 lbs down from my high.

I have a long way to go, but I’m optimistic. All I have to do is keep after it, and keep active.

I don’t know about anyone else — and I know weight loss people tell you to weigh yourself only once a week — but I have to get on the scale every single day.  If I don’t I neither hold my weight nor lose weight.

Fact of the matter is:  I enjoy eating. I love eating.

All my life I have avoided sandwiches. I didn’t grow up with them — aside from necessary sandwiches in my lunch bag at school — there were NO school lunch programs that I remember — they may have been there but I never ate at them.  My dad didn’t like sandwiches so mom never made meals at home involving sandwiches.  Not even for picnics or roadtrips were there sandwiches. There was  always HOT protein and COLD salads for roadtrips: a lot of fried chicken and fried breaded pork chops with good old tangy german style potato salad. The males in our family, famished as we must have been, always had hot food at our fingertips.steam-food

The lesson behind all that hot food was if it’s served hot it should be eaten hot.  And growing up I learned to dislike LUKEWARM or tepid food.  I’ve always been the guy who might have had time to converse while eating, but who had a priority whilst at the table:  eating my food while it was HOT.

I’m usually close to the first person done with a meal — and I enjoy my food intensely — and I enjoy it while it’s still hot.  No doubt I eat faster than I should.  I remember reading all the good things that happen when you chew your food.  **** — and I’ve been noticing recently that the more I slow down the less food actually satisfies me. My brain has a chance to realize that the stomach is no longer asking for food — and it’s able to send those signals before I’ve wolfed down more food than I needed in the first place.

The doctor was encouraging Clean Eating with the 6 meals per day routine — but we haven’t been able to get the hang of that.  Most of the time we’re lucky to get in two meals — one mid morning and one mid afternoon.

overweight beach

it’s a good reminder of what I don’t want to look like any more.

RV cooking continues to be different from cooking in any of our old houses.  Granted, the replacement of our NeverCold refrigerator (Norcold when I’m not being sarcastic)  with a household refrigerator has made a little difference in how we cook but not a lot.  We continue doing the 20 minute meal — almost exclusively from raw, un-processed ingredients (other than frozen vegetables).  I can’t remember the last time I fried anything — I do a lot of sautéing but we stay away from deep fat.  The biggest impediment to normalizing our meals is the fact that we keep moving around and finding the kind of raw ingredients I’m looking for changes from place to place.  I never realized how ingrained shopping had become in Milwaukee.  It only makes sense — but unless you think about it the impact of being in different places doesn’t jump up and say, “Here look at me.”

We have almost completely given up on buffets.  The only real hold out to that is the occasional Chinese buffet — I need my Hot & Sour Soup fixes!!!!!  Well, there are also the times when Mel & her fiancé are around — Drew needs to eat and sometimes a buffet is just an easy solution for a growing young man! 🙂

We are both feeling better as a result of our efforts.  We are definitely getting more exercise than we had been.  Even though the park here is far from flat & level the roads are paved and we walk them quite a bit  — which is helping both the weight loss and the cardio conditioning.

I think we’ve kept out restaurant visits down to less than one per week — that may be a record, or near record for us.  We never did a lot of restaurant eating but two or three meals a week weren’t all that uncommon if we were in a touring-the-area mode.  It’s easier to grab a bite in a local establishment if we snooping around an area and that also gives us a better feel for the local social atmosphere.

Mostly we had been doing the high protein/low carb diet but I am a guy who craves my carbs so every few days we throw in a little this or a little that just to keep from developing a craving that might result in a binge of something — like bread or pasta.  That said, poor Peggy is struggling to get along without as many pasta fixes.  Whereas I’m the guy who needs bread — she’s the gal who needs here pasta.

I hope by the time we get to Milwaukee in September I’ll be another 10 or 20 pounds lighter.  All we can do is try our little bit each and every day.  While still enjoying life — after all, what’s the sense of getting to retirement if you aren’t enjoying it?

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here to chat in the morning.

Old Diary

The Date is Set!

weddingbellsWe got the news from our daughter that the Grand-Kid has set the wedding date for next Spring. We can begin thinking in concrete terms about post-Highland Ridge travel plans!

After last year’s medical travel delay fiasco it would be nice to have an earlier plan in place instead of ending up sort of  waiting-out-the-winter somewhere as we felt we did last Winter.

There has been the seminal thought in the back of our mind that we might inquire about returning here for another summer — seeing as the wedding is in Wisconsin, and the date is early enough — that would be doable possibility.  But, it’s not an ace-in-the-hole and we don’t know how we might feel about the CORPS by the end of the summer or how they feel about us.  So that’s just a niggling thought in the back of our minds.

11986505_10152969506017330_1306870677532854844_nAlong with the wedding date news,  we also  heard that Melanie also is trying out a new fun gig.  She has her first chance to teach a class in American Tribal Dance.  If you don’t know about American Tribal Dance it’s a amalgam of a variety of belly dance -ish styles.  She’s been involved in the scene since early in college.  (I never knew that you could get college credits for taking a course in Belly Dancing! — but hey, it’s a strange new world out there)  And it’s interesting to see and hear the things the next generation choose to get involved with.

In the meantime we still have work to do and to try doing it in between raindrops.  It’s typical Wisconsin Spring weather really — nothing we aren’t accustomed to — so we run between the rain drops and keep our golf cart covered with a tarp if the forecast is really bad — otherwise we just wipe off the seats and the windshield and go about our business.

We ‘got rid’ of a nagging problem this morning.  We’ve had a contractor staying in the campground and there have been issues about fees and dogs and various things — I was glad to see the 5th wheel pull out as scheduled — we have new campers coming in today and there was some reason to be concerned about whether he would actually have his unit out before the new arrivals.

That’s not something I normally ever fret about — departures before new arrivals.  It’s pretty neat the way most campers are cooperative in that regard.  We’ve all been the camper coming into the park and we all want to arrive to a site ready for us — but that doesn’t always happen. Last year, twice in a row, we moved from place to place and we arrived 1 o’clock-ish and our sit was still being occupied by the previous camper.  They eventually moved, but most campgrounds don’t actually have much space for you to hang out in while you wait for someone else to move.  And that’s particularly true here at Highland Ridge.  With all of our trees, there aren’t WIDE roads, or spare parking areas.  Cooperative campers make life a lot easier!

Don’t mind me if I’m a bit out of it.  Just thinking about our Grand-One getting married has me in a sentimental mood and I think I’m just going to stop here for today and bask in a brain full of happy memories!  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart

Forty-Seven years ago I had no idea what being married for 47 years could be like!  I was young — in those days at age 19 I still had to be signed for by a parent if I wanted to marry.  And, OH! — I was marrying an older woman.  She was all of 21.  The world was our oyster — but at our age neither of us had ever eaten an oyster, or even shucked one for that matter.

And today, 47 years later I can’t imagine life without Peggy.

We have always heard about how difficult it is to make a marriage work but we’ve never found that to be true.  We surely have been blessed, but as I’ve shared before, ours was not your typical courtship — I proposed to Peggy  we ever went on a date — and we were married a scant three months later.  What we had were commonalities in our view of life and our purpose on earth from there we started building a life and I really can’t remember the last time we disagreed on much of anything.

There is something good about sort of ‘growing up’ together.  Who we were becoming was still very much in a state of flux but we grew together and we have pretty much always done almost everything together.  She was the woman I wanted to spend my life with and even though there were long periods of time — months on end — that work kept me away from home — there has never been anything I have wanted more than just spending time with my bride.  And now — for the last 4 years we’ve been able to do that every single day — and I still can’t get enough.

Sweetheart, I know you read my blog of a morning, with your first ‘cuppa’ that I usually bring you while you spend a few extra minutes in bed and I clatter away on the keyboard.  Thank you for sharing your life with me.  Thank you for being the great constancy to control my whims. Thank you for being the constant cheerleader for my hair-brained schemes.Thank you for coming along on this Life Unscripted.

No one knows what the future will bring, but I know two things.

You can always count on me.

I can always count on you.

In a world where trust seems so hard to find the intimacy of those two sentences is almost more than can be borne.  To come, 47 years through life, without breaking trust is a miracle in itself — at least it seems so when we hear of all the stupid things people do to each other.  But this is the way life is “supposed to be.”  We meant what we said 47 years ago and we’ve lived what we said.

I love you, thank you, and you get breakfast in bed this morning (seeing as my blog is on just the right day for a change).

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And to the rest of you….

Thanks for eavesdropping and I’ll talk to YOU tomorrow.

Old Diary

Sweets & Treats


basically a shortbread with almond and citrus


Apricot brandy balls….


Macaroons — that someone forgot to whip the egg whites into a meringue before mixing in the other ingredients. Had a good laugh about that, but they still taste wonderful.

Sunday and another beautiful, atypical December day.  Temps in the forties and Christmas approacheth… sounds to me like time to bake a few Christmas cookies.

Truth be told, we didn’t get all that many cookies baked, but we sure did have fun.   And we had a lot of laughs along the way.  Partly because it seems between the three of us we still can’t manage to read all of the recipes all the way from beginning to end!  But, hey…. we’re family;  we eat what we bake; and we had a good time innovating along the way.

Funny how certain things end up ‘belonging’ with other things.    There is nothing ‘holiday’ or ‘Christmas’ about rum balls — but I can’t remember a holiday season when I haven’t made brandy balls for Christmas. (ok, ok…. so I don’t care very much for rum!)

It does seem as if shortbread cookies do have some connection to the way a lot of people celebrate Christmas but there’s nothing particularly Yuletide about shortbread cookies with candied ginger chunks in it — yet I make Ginger Coin Cookies every year too (except, so far, this year)

Before we downsized there were Robert E. Lee soft molasses cookies and of course (not to be made by us)  Claxton Fruit Cake made in … wait for it… Claxton Georgia!  So many people don’t like fruitcake — I can’t wait for Christmas to get here to enjoy the treat that I only allow myself for one month a year!  I guess there’s more holiday mood to fruitcake — but for many people that’s not in a good way!!!!!

A lot of our family traditions at this point have come to center around being in the kitchen and cooking together.  Oh, sure, we do things outside too, but somehow there’s something different and special about being in the kitchen together chopping and mixing and making mistakes and changing recipes and telling jokes that is quintessentially who we are.  It’s been that way for four generations at least, and depending on what happens with Melanie and Drew there may be a fifth and sixth generation that look back on ‘family’ and that is what they remember.

12139951_942432022511630_4082933761106887331_oWhile the three of us were baking, Michael was delivering two custom tables to their lawyer.  Mike is quite expert at repurposing amazing materials and these two tables (one of them pictured to the right) were created using dis-used maple from a bowling alley and industrial table brackets.  A great way to keep resources out of the landfill and for those of the same taste to create a wonderful, rich, and solid piece of furniture.  I’m always amazed at the work he puts out.  Once he get’s those out of the shop and makes room for the refrigerator project we’re next on his schedule.  Ya Hoo!

graceBefore I forget… I guess we are becoming doggy grand-parents!  Melanie and her beau Drew are trying to adopt an Australian Shepherd (dog). Sunday they visited the dog’s current foster family, they’re approved, and as we understand it, Grace will be joining the Minneapolis branch of our family! I’m curious to see how the band of cat lovers (everyone in the family except for me) adjust to being members of a dog pack….

Ok — for a quiet Sunday I’ve rambled on long enough.  Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Puttin’ up da tree

The friday after Thanksgiving was actually more of an ‘event’ than Thanksgiving day itself.  That’s because Melanie and Drew were due in town for a quick visit and the four of us here in Milwaukee were eager to see them and re-connect after what seems a long time.

2015112716292103We haven’t seen them since just before Labor Day and we couldn’t wait!  They arrived with bells on — both looking skinny but healthy and well and happy.  What parent or grandparent doesn’t breathe a sigh of relief when they see their loved ones and see happiness in their eyes and words!

Michael did his annual thing of going out and cutting down the family Christmas tree — a local lot not far away is Mike’s annual visitation and this year he found a nice 12 footer.  With 5 of us trying to help get the monster out of the Sprinter van and help get it set up there were too many bodies for the job to be done but hey, it was nice to have everyone there at once.  We aren’t a big family anymore and having those of us that are part of it all in one place is wonderful.  Drew’s from a LARGE family — with gatherings numbering easily between 35 and 50 depending on who is available at any one time — so Mel is in the middle between large and small.

In the evening we went to our favorite Polish resto for a family meal.  Between stuffed cabbage and pierogi and schnitzel and … well, you get the idea.  We left pleasingly plump, again.  But mostly we left happy.

Family time is precious.  So, if I don’t spend much time writing today you’ll understand why.  Let’s talk again tomorrow, and thanks for stopping by today.


Old Diary

Drinking Deep Draughts of Milwaukee

2015091610043306 From Smoked Chubbs to Festival Park, I love Milwaukee!  Sure, there are times when I hate it too, but that’s true of many things.  Still and all, it’s a great place to live.   And while we wait around for things to happen  it’s always fun to drink deeply of the spirit and the ambience that makes this place what it is.

For, perhaps, an unusual example — there are these things called  smoked chubbs.   Chubbs are a fresh water fish found in the great lakes.  The reason they are special is that they have not been fished in the past 5 years.  Blame it on the Zebra Mussel, and the larger quagga mussels that hitch-hike aboard ocean-going ships.  These invasive critters eat the same food as the Chubbs and the population of chubbs has declined as the population of invasive mussels has risen.  This is the first year in five that commercial fishermen are fishing chubbs.

We were lucky to find some. Yeah, yeah, yeah…. I know they look gross!  But they are delicious.  The biggest danger is that they become over salted in the smoking process.  They are tasty, a glimpse back at a former life and lifestyle, and for me a great treat when I can find them

Part of the beauty of the Milwaukee lakefront resides in the War Memorial Center building and the Milwaukee Art Museum.  The Art museum is currently expanding and I have heard that the expansion is supposed to mimic in some way the design of the Calatrava butterfly wings — I don’t see it, but hey — it’s beautiful architecture and will be even nicer when it’s finished. As you can see the brown trim panels are being applied on one image.

Then there is the wonderful joy of walking the lakefront.  Every city has better and worse features but for Peg and I access both to the Lake Michigan AND to places where lots of people congregate and recreate is right up there at the top of the list.  In good weather we always manage to find ourselves along the water for a walk — and walking is one of the things we love doing most as a mutual activity.

The Denis Sullivan is still in the harbor.  This ship was built between 1991 and 2000 by over 1000 volunteers and over 1,000,000 man hours of labor.  She spends the summers in the Great Lakes — mostly near Milwaukee and during the winter she can be found in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

We’re having a ball and we aren’t going very far to do it.  That’s our kind of living.

We haven’t even talked about Winter plans except when people ask us what we’re doing.  And even then we waffle in our answer.  But that’s ok — once we have a projected departure date I’m sure the plan will fall into place. Or we’ll just be plan-less.  I’m still hoping for something like a November 2nd departure but we can’t be sure yet.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary, RV Living

Walk and Talk

The Saturday of a bank holiday weekend always seems an odd sort of day to me, neither this nor that.  Not a holiday, not a work day, you know you have that extra day ahead of you and you aren’t quite sure what you’re going to do or why.  At least that’s the way they always seem to me, this Saturday included.

Good Intentions

2015090510244201I awoke with good intentions that gradually ran — delightfully — amok.  And still I managed to accomplished some of them! My son in law says “that in order to straighten UP a mess you have to MAKE a mess” — and I think that’s gospel!

Make a mess I did! Replacing the DISH receiver was the start;  a job I didn’t finish, but I did lay the groundwork. And then as with many good intentions I was lead astray by the forces of Evil — well, maybe not ‘evil’ — just our daughter!  And when we are fortunate enough to be in Milwaukee and she’s available I gladly put aside almost any projects to spend time together.  As we did today.

Gone Awry


You couldn’t ask for a clearer day by the time we reached the lake — having started with deep fog, the sun burned off the fog and we were all the better for it.

When we returned to Milwaukee in March we never made it over to the lakefront.  Today’s walk along the shoreline was particularly wonderful.  Peggy stood there just taking deep breaths.  The Great Lakes are so much different from other bodies of water.  As majestic as the ocean is, I think I’m still a Great Lakes boy at heart .


The girls walking ahead.

I didn’t get the whole job done— as you’ll hear we got sidetracked by our daughter — but I have plenty of time and with the front of the coach all turned upside down I know I’ll get pressure to finish what I started.

I discovered an assortment of wires that were no longer being used.  There were also cables that were being used but had defective connectors. The other evening I tried to adjust the antenna and everything blanked out — the loose connector I found today explained why.  We made a trip to Home Depot for a variety of supplies and the project will continue tomorrow.


I don’t want a boat, but I have always enjoyed the sight of them, their lore and intrigue.


While the Traveler Antenna sits on the roof….


This small control module (about 6” x 6” x 2”) decides where to POINT the dish is up to this controller. It only demands power to find satellites and to stow the antenna when you move. Arranging a cut-off switch to reduce power consumption is a decent idea.

I managed to get the Traveler Antenna controller moved from one side of the coach to the other; plenty of cabling and more room on that side so that there will be less heat in the driver’s side cabinet.  For that I’m glad.

And I twigged why the RV Park cable that we have several times tried to connect to hasn’t worked…  another bad cable connector.  That too has been sorted and repaired.


The only time this cabinet door is open is when I change the signal source to the TV, and now when we put the satellite up and stow it away.

With a little luck I’ll get the rest of the cables connected, make good use of some wire ties to neaten up the appearance a little further.

Cold Again

In the ongoing drama of Norcold, today the refrigerator has been cooling again since I changed out the old thermistor with the replacement.  I cut the old wire and used the length of the original thermistor wiring to get the part over to the right location on the evaporator vanes.  ???? your guess is as good as mine.

Well, that’s enough for today.  Talk with you tomorrow.