Family, Old Diary

And the Good News Is…

noahs arkThe way things are going we may start looking for Noah and his Big Boat.  We have more rain — some of it forecast to be severe — in the forecast for today and tomorrow.  Fulton — just down the river — is expecting flooding later today.  So, with soggy skies we aren’t going very far or doing very much.  We’ve been reading, writing, and attending to small indoor chores.

But the Good News is that I have returned to my last summer’s weight loss mark — I’m back down to 30 lbs beneath my high weight mark sometimes just short of retirement.  During the winter I’d slipped a little and in the last three weeks I’ve managed to get back to my pre-Cudahy weight!  Feelin’ good; lookin’ better; gettin’ as much exercise as feels good and the weather permits (Ain’t no way I’m goin’ out to walk a couple miles in a rain slicker!)

x7322I finally finished that Peter Mayle book that has been dogging me.   Usually his stuff flies by as if inhaled but this one was different.  I’ve never been keen on collections of essays, and that’s what this one was.  But the premise — tastes acquired because of wealth — caught my attention and in the end it turned out to be an interesting and amusing read.  No way high on my recommendations list, but It’s Ok.

I have only 20 pages remaining in my re-read of The Seventh Commandment by Lawrence Sanders.  That was the one I started last fall and never finished after we returned to Cudahy.  I pretty much started from the beginning being unable to remember much of anything from last October. It’s not his best work, not his best leading character, but I like Sanders’ style, his books are long enough to make them worth while reading — I hate short stories.  With the rain in the forecast I hope to finish that today.

uninterruptible_power_supply

On the Small Space Living front, I’m pondering how better to deal with my power supply issue.  The one drawback to having committed to a short RV is finding ways to cope with how do you live with the storage issues you’ve created.  I am happy with how much we’ve downsized; I’m happy with being able to stow what we have on board — but some things have yet to tell us where they want to live within Journey.  I have been playing around with locations for my backup disks and my server — they are easy — they’re only 8″ x 8″ x 2″ — but this uninterruptible power supply is a bit bigger — 9″ x 15″ x 10″  and it wants to live near the server.  I might end up making a little storage / stowage box for the lot of them and let the server live on top of the UPS — or something — still thinking about that.  Yesterday I had pencil and paper out trying to figure a way to have Home Depot cut all the major cuts I needed for the parts out of a single handi-panel — 24″ x 24″.  That didn’t look like it was going to work.  So, I’m still contemplating.  Of course it’s possible I’ll figure out how to do it and then 2 days after I build it I’ll find just what I want at Bed, Bath, and Beyond in La Crosse or something…. Isn’t that always the way it goes?

babyTurtleI should have baked bread yesterday.  But I was too lazy to go down to the basement (meaning go outside in the rain) to get out my two jars of flour.  I’m terrible; I know.  It’s not like I’ll melt in the rain!

We saw our smallest turtle yet on the road yesterday.  Most of the painted turtles we’ve seen have been 5″ – 9″ in diameter.  Yesterday we saw one that was scarcely as large as a quarter.  One of the students thought he might be a year old hatchling — seeing as it’s too early in the season for them to be hatching yet. But he was a teeny thing.

geeseThere are a flock of geese here raising their young and I’m developing a better sense for the expression “silly goose”!  Peg has spent a good while just watching the babies and moms and dads and uncles and aunts meandering around the campground.  We’re accustomed to being hissed at by now.  And we do our best not to intentionally irritate them. That said — it’s still a strange life they lead!  And we’re also appreciating how LONG the hatching season must be — some of this seasons chicks are quite large already with feathers and some are still quite small and dressed in only their baby fluff.  When you live in the city and see maybe ONE robin’s nest and only those chicks it’s not so easy to get the sense of Spring as a season for babies — and not just a singular TIME for babies.  I know that sounds stupid but I never lived on a farm, and never spent much time around baby critters.  The idea that there’s enough time for them to mature for their winter flight South if they are born 2 or 3 months after the earliest broods just never crossed my mind.

Well, there you have it for today.

Tomorrow — Wednesday — is moving day.  Not sure if I’ll write in the morning, or after we make the move — a lot depends on what the skies look like when I wake up.  Talk to you then.

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Journey DL, Old Diary

Keep Calm and Carry On

The other evening I was reading one of my favorite authors, Peter Mayle, a quirky collection of essays called Acquired Tastes. As I read along I came upon this passage in the introduction:

I am not sure at all that [people of extraordinary means] enjoy themselves as much as we think they do.  And Why?  Because, damn it, something is always not quite right

Expectations tend to increase in direct proportion to the amount of money being spent, and if you’re spending a fortune you expect perfection.  Alas, life being the badly organized shambles that it so often is, and with so much of it dependent on the behavior of erratic equipment (servants), perfection is rare.  After a while, the rich realize this, and then they start looking for trouble.  I’ve seen them do it.  Details that we would consider trivial assume enormous significance: the breakfast egg is inedible because it is marginally underboiled, the silk shirt is unwearable because of a barely visible wrinkle, the chauffeur is insupportable because he’s been eating garlic again, the doorman is either insufficiently attentive or overfamiliar –– the list of maddening blots on the landscape of life just goes on and on.  How can you have a nice day if some fool hasn’t warmed your socks or ironed your newspaper properly?

I remember a fact-finding mission to a luxury hotel in Venice, a magnificent establishment with an equally magnificent chef. Impossible, I thought, to fail to enjoy dinner in such a place.  But I was wrong. Sitting at the next table were four resplendent examples of old money from Milan.  They were not happy.  The white wine was not chilled exactly to their taste.  A finger was lifted, but the waiter took longer than thirty seconds to arrive.  Good grief, what is the world coming to? Throughout the dinner, I could hear totally unjustified mutterings of discontent. NO matter how delicious the food, how splendid the surroundings, things were not quite right.  And this atmosphere –– almost suspicious, poised for disappointment –– pervaded the entire room.  There wasn’t a jolly millionaire in sight.  It was the first and only time I have ever eaten in a subdued Italian restaurant.

After a few experiences like this the thought of living permanently among the rich doesn’t appeal to me at all. But I have to say that some of their minor investments … are extremely pleasant and potentially habit forming…

It’s entirely possible that this is the best illustration of why I no longer care for the trappings of wealth.

There was a time when I was crazy mad about a career.  I wanted to advance at work (before I turned to my photography), to get money — lots of it — and to make a name for myself. Things did not go according to my plans and my first few jobs put me in positions right near the owners of several businesses. Having the chance to hobnob  (on a small scale) with business owners it didn’t take long before I realized that these guys (and in those days they WERE all guys) weren’t very happy at all.  What’s more, they worked so hard they hardly saw their family, or their spouse, and they surely weren’t happy about money:  they worried about it, the horded it, the wanted ever more no matter how much they had.  All this while I was poor as a church mouse but I had a wife I loved, and eventually Kathryn came along and I was delighted to have a family.

In short order what I wanted out of life changed;  it changed dramatically. I still worked hard — usually harder than other employees in whatever department I might have been — I was never afraid of hard work.  But advancement wasn’t exactly what I wanted.  Peg and I learned to live below our means — finding it much easier to be happy when we weren’t up to our eyeballs in debt.  We got to the point that I’d balance the checkbook every few months, I knew there was money there because we simply didn’t spend every penny we made.  I probably shouldn’t have been quite so cavalier about money — but that’s me.  We scrimped and saved to do things others on our sort of income didn’t seem to do, or couldn’t afford to do — but it was possible because what other people though of as necessities we valued as luxuries; and we didn’t have all those toys that we might have easily been convinced were essential.

I have no regrets at all.  Our retirement may not be as plush as some of our friends.  Our RV is 10 yrs old, our car is 8 yrs.  We go out to dinner a few times a month but no longer at the posh places we might have chosen 40 years ago.  We are comfortable because our expectations are lower and we can afford to be delighted with almost anything that happens.  We can enjoy our life.  And our retirement.

It’s possible to live with so much less than we U.S. citizens think.  I love this old image from the London Blitz — not for all the rubble and damage but for the simple smile on the Milkman’s face.  All we need to is keep calm and carry on.

I’d like to think that we’ll get a buyer for our house in a few hours or a few days at most…. but I don’t know what will happen.  All I do know is that if you want challenges, then this photo is a challenge….. and all you need do is

Keep Calm, and Carry On…

This is what "Keep Calm and Carry On" really looked like

This is what “Keep Calm and Carry On” really looked like

  • Calm (whatdoyareckon.wordpress.com)
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