Journey DL, Old Diary

Ahh, the Sweet Sound of Tires on Pavement


First I thought I’d share the image my daughter sent me.   She does know how much I love Bullies, and who wouldn’t love such a lovely English Bulldog face?

And to that sweet dear and her hubby — I say, a happy anniversary to you both.  22 yrs of marriage!  You guys are terrific — you’re 22 years behind us. 🙂  Keep up the good work!

The weather’s been nice so Journey got some exercise today.  We didn’t go quite as far as we usually do on a winter’s day exercise.  No particular reason for the shorter trip other than simply our state of mind, but it was a great day for a drive. Continue reading

Journey DL, Old Diary

It’s Too Early for Cabin Fever But…

FrazzledI know it’s still too early for cabin fever but somehow that’s no consolation. The urge to organize is driving me crazy.

birdbox nesting

If it wasn’t so snowy and cold outside I’d be tempted to get out there and hang up bird boxes, or paint something, or — well, do anything outdoors.

But then, of course, I don’t have any tools anymore.  All the yard tools and woodworking tools went bye-bye in the estate sale.


I’m not quite so bonkers as to start vacuuming.  If’n I did my dear wife would think I’ve really gone over the edge.  But I’m not far removed from doing just that. It is hard for a guy who has always had the messiest desk in the office (in the days when I worked IN someone else’s office) to realize just how much I crave order in the universe.

Some months ago Kathryn said something about “…how much you like to have your things around you.”  Over the last year I have reflected on that comment more times than I’d like to admit.  I really DO need order.  I realize now how many times I have rearranged furniture in my life — looking for just the right arrangement — that perfect harmony of function over space.

Last summer, while we were mobile in Journey,  I spent a lot of time sorting through the “basement” storage areas and moving things from one cabinet to the other to find more efficient ways of storing them.  By the time we returned to Cudahy I had things pretty well condensed, easily accessible, and efficiently stowed. (Should I be saying “WE”? — but truth is it was mostly me moving things around.)  And then we moved everything out of Journey and into the school.  ARGH!!!!!!

The moving part was easy.

The difficult part has been:

  • remembering what was put where
  • remembering what was left in Journey  (some cords and hoses and tool-ish sorts of things still live in Journey‘s basement
  • remembering what (that odds and ends that we used to have while living in the school) we no longer have.  So many things went away in the estate sale that even now — 8 or 9 months after the sale — I still have a hard time remembering whether we still have something or not.  Just yesterday I needed to put air into one of the snowblower tires and I forgot that a small air compressor that we had was in storage at Kathryn’s house.  Luckily, Michael remembered.

Somehow it was easy getting my head around where things were in Journey.  Getting my head around where they are in the school has been a lot harder. I’m not sure why.  I supposed it’s partly because I’m not wanting to be here;  I want to be elsewhere.


This all feels a little Neanderthal to me.  At least I’m not making Peggy do the heavy lifting.

This will all be over soon enough. And I’m not complaining in the least  — for me this is all part of knowing myself better.  I’m discovering little glitches about my character that have surprised me.

I suppose on some levels we are going to repeat the process when we get back into Journey. The difference will be that in Journey  we will be where we want to be and where we want to be nesting. Also, it’s a much smaller space.  Here was have 230 sq ft worth of stuff spread out in about 2200 sq ft of living space in a 6500 sq ft building.  I used to joke with my models that since moving into the school I had become obsessive compulsive because the school “eats” things — they just disappear.  Well, with less stuff in it, it still seems to eat things — they just disappear from sight for days or weeks until we realize we set something down in a different place than normal and forgot where that might have been.   Moving back into that 230 sq ft will be easier just because the volume of stuff will fit the available storage volume.

So, that’s where MY mind is at today.  I hope you’re having a good one too.

Minimalism, Old Diary

Catch Up Day

computer-repair1I hope to get caught up on a few things today.  Sunday was a quiet day for us; not much accomplished other than working on my MacPro tower.  Still many hours of file moving and sorting to be done, but that’s all boring stuff.

I keep forgetting to call Rand McNally about my RVND7720 about the internal speaker that is wonky.  I’m hoping that it’ll get fixed under the warranty. Of course that probably means a visit to FedEx….


I need to get on the horn and talk to our R/E agent. There are papers to fill out so we can get this thing moving.  And bye the bye, we  discovered two little repairs needing doing that I complete before we start showing again.

By the Way….

Going grocery shopping the afternoon of the Super Bowl is less of a challenge than I expected.  We’ve done that before, but I think we were closer to the start time of the game on the last visit.  This year we showed up about noon and while there weren’t huge numbers of grocery shoppers there were way more MEN doing the shopping than normal.  And a lot more charcoal being bought (In February) than one might expect.  🙂

elementary-showWe skipped most of the Big Game, tuning in for part of the 4th quarter — not so much because we wanted to watch football but because they were running a new episode of Elementary right afterwards.  Turns out right afterwards wasn’t all that early!

I’m amazed at how much this new version of Sherlock has grown on me.  I didn’t care much for the first episode, I watched it mostly to see what Lucy Lui has been up to lately.  For all his idiosyncrasies this new version of Sherlock has something going for him.

The show does have me wondering though.  It seems that the likes of Sherlock and House might be signalling the rise of a new anti-hero — the hero with major character flaws — on a scale that seems to dwarf prior historic examples of fictional characters.  It also makes me wonder why so many entertainment projects involve the re-make of other successful theatrical franchises.  Movies remade three and four times, TV series borrowed from other countries,  series spinoff that imitate others.  Creativity really is hard to find.  There are a lot of schlock-meisters, but not a lot of geniuses. Oh well….

Old Diary

New Year’s Day and Melanie with Ben

A new year starts and life don’t get much better.

First of all, I wanted to share our latest pic of Melanie our granddaughter as well as Ben her beau. Don’t they make a cute couple?


The Day with Katy

Michael’s feeling better, and trying to make up for lost time, so he spent the day working. Kathryn decided to spend some time with us and we made it a good one.  With morning temps in the single digits it was wonderful to have the warmth of a child to heat up our day.

By the time she got to the house it was lunchtime.  We had plans to visit the Cool Fool Kite Festival at Veteran’s Park, but decided on the way over to the Cool, maybe we should heat things up a little first.  So we stopped off at Singha Thai, our favorite Thai resto.  We’ve been going there a good ten years now and we are never disappointed.  A few crab puffs, a spicy Thai seafood soup for me, Thai fried rice for Peg and Chicken Curry for Kathryn who was having noodle withdrawal symptoms.  We all got spiced up and it was a good thing.


Who’s a Cool Fool

20130101-172636.jpgThee weren’t a lot of attendees when we arrived about 1:00 p.m. Also, Mother Nature wasn’t being overly cooperative with still skies.  But it was nice anyway.   The ice carvers were there putting on a demo and as the winds picked up from time to time the kite flyers got their wings up into the sky so that fun was had by all.

Gift of Wings puts these kite Fly-Ins on several times each year,  The winter Fly-In is always the least attended; but they always bring in free coffee and hot cocoa to keep the visitors warm and assure that all have a good time.

While we were trying to take a photo of us (above) one of the local photographers came over to ask if we would like her to help us out.  Those arm’s length self-portraits aren’t always so good.  We agreed and this is the three of us thanks to her help.

The 150 foot long Octopus KiteThere are always a wonderful variety of kites to be seen. This year, with light winds, there might have been fewer, but it was still a lot of fun. During the summer Fly-In’s there are always competitive kite flying teams doing demos, today I only  saw one guy demonstrating the 4 string acrobatic kites.  He almost made me want to try kite flying — but I really can’t see spending $200.00 on 9 ounces of nylon.  So, I was an appreciative observer.


The ice sculputors were doing something with penguins and a small eagle.  I’m not sure if they finished by 4:00 p.m. but they were having fun and the project started looking good before we left.

This year the organizers tried something new.  They brought in an extra block of ice and tied a few tools to the block so that attendees could try their hand at ice carving.  The littlest kids were having a ball, a few adults gave a go too, and everyone’s eyes were opened as to how difficult it really is to carve something beautiful out of a hunk of frozen water.


The ground is covered with snow as you look East over the inner harbor and out towards Lake Michigan.  Winter is here.  And it’s time to adjust to it.

Old Diary

Hooray For the Balaclava!

I might take up bank robbery! Can’t you just see me in surveillance footage?

Our first actual snowfall of the season has happened and been blown away.  All I can say is “I am happy for my new balaclava,” bought recently because of the onset of winter.  Our first snow is not to be confused with the significant storm we had a week ago which slogged everyone North and West of us in Wisconsin.  We, however, got away with scarcely a dusting of snow on top of a lot of rain.  We were happy; others were not.

20121229170914001Today’s entry is all about the side effects of downsizing.  I HAD a really nice knitted ski mask that I have used for snow blowing for donkey’s years: an orange ski mask that did a good job of keeping my face from freezing while blowing snow across that big parking lot.  Why we never own homes with small lots and little snowplowing I’ll never know.  We seem to have this love for corner lots and large lots. Oh well.

At least in this one — I’m not quite as conspicuous. 🙂

I must say that the sight of me shopping in a sporting goods store is a rare sight indeed.  I’m one of those “I don’t shop, I buy” guys.  Specially when it comes to cold weather stuff.  I know what I want, I go into the store, directly to the proper department, find what I want and get the heck out of there before some ancient chromosomes kick and I begin reverting to my vestigial Outdoorsman.

I had hoped never to own cold weather gear again.  And hopefully never to have to snowblow again.  Alas that was not to be because when we held our estate sale we thought the house was sold.  So much for counting unhatched chickens.

So, I like the new one.  I hope I hardly ever have to wear it.  And I look forward to the day in the hopefully near future that I can donate it to the Goodwill!

Old Diary

Ad Up and Crack No More

With temps in the 20’s I got chilled through this morning.  As compared with AT&T who always seem to arrive just after their apointment window has expired, the man from SafeLite arrived about 1/4 of the way through the window and he as gone before the halfway mark.  I love people who do what they say they are going to do.

It turns out that the ding was possibly a previous repair that failed — it wasn’t really possible to be sure. (It really wasn’t a full blown crack — just a chip out of the windshield) The process appears to be so simple but I have no idea what resin the apply to the window to affect the repair.  It was interesting watching the workman — but we both headed back to our vehicles frequently during the process.

Michael did get the Craigslist posted.  I started publicizing the website too.



The rest of the day was spent on various computer chores.  For a guy who likes consistency this has been a good chance for me to sort out little details that no one else in the whole wide world cares about.

So, all in all it was a good day.


Old Diary

The Search for the Enduring in a Throwaway Society

I love hats.  Downsizing has meant that instead of having 4 or 5 cowboy hats and several winter hats and several other felt dress hats that I am down to:

  • A French beret I bought in Quebec
  • Two Australian bush hats
  • One straw summer hat
  • One knit skull cap
  • One fur winter hat

I DO like hats.

When we were visiting SC/GA I stopped off in a hat shop.  Was that ever a disappointment!

They had a lot of interesting hats:  Bowlers, Top Hats, Homburgs, safari hats, Akubra‘s, etc., etc., etc.  What was disappointing is that most of them (with the exception of the Akubra’s) are made far more cheaply than anyone would ever have bought a few years ago.  And I have been thinking about that for the last several day.

Felt making is a very material intensive process.  Felt is essentially shrunken wool; shrunken until it is impervious to water and will hold a shape of it’s own.  Natural materials being expensive a quality felt hat can easily cost multiple hundreds of dollars.  The Stetson El Presidente can go for $850.00 — not that I’d pay THAT much for a hat.  By the same token — a hat like the El Presidente will last a man’s lifetime and even his children might continue wearing it!

All of which reminds me how hard it is to find good quality workmanship — in part because no one wants it.  They don’t want to PAY for it.  They tire of it before it’s worn out. They fear that it will no longer be “in style” (whatever that means).

It’s not just hats, it’s appliances.  Products today are built with life cycles in mind.  Product lines change so often that the manufacturers don’t WANT them to last forever — they need more customers a few years down the line and products are built to give a “typical” lifespan.

This morning we went for a walk.  In our neighborhood the city came around in 2010 to replace broken sidewalk squares.  We got away easy — but we did put in a new driveway that we wasn’t mandated because the old one was quite cracked.  This morning as I was walking the sidewalks nearby I noticed that there are still a LOT of sidewalk sections from 1957.  Considering that many sections replaced in the 1980’s and 1990’s have already had to be replaced I wonder what it is about those old 1957 sidewalks that made them so durable.

Here in Milwaukee we have a lot of clay in our native soil.  It’s no fun digging in.  But homes built in the last 20 years or more are notorious for developing cracks in the concrete foundations and basement floors.  Similarly, there are regular scandals in the media about governmental contractors who have been caught cheating on their construction contracts: shaving material, using inferior material, using improper technique.  Our almost 90 yr old school has fewer cracks in the basement than most of the new houses in Oak Creek.

I don’t see any likely change in public opinion.  We are a society that loves celebrity; and celebrity is cheap.  We gobble up celebrities and spit them out with regularity.  Our society is beauty obsessed.  Not with the beauty within, but with how others regard you;  the problem being that while some may consent to the idea that “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” that everyone wants SOMEONE to behold them as beautiful.  And they suffer “low self esteem” of someone else doesn’t find them beautiful.  Of course the harsh reality is that no one stays forever beautiful.  We all age and get wrinkly, the Grim Reaper waits for us all, and some come to him more quickly than others.  My point being that as a society we aren’t valuing things that don’t change; we value the transitory, the replaceable, the newest thing, the next great idea.

I find I don’t buy very much anymore.  Much of what I have is perfectly usable.  Getting older, sure.  But perfectly usable.

Do I want others to do the same?  Heck no.  I have no right to tell others how to live.  I know life will never again be what it used to be; I’m Ok with that.

And if I have to get accustomed to being satisfied with transitory joys then my list is quite simple.  What I would like is to find a stove that doesn’t have to have a computer in it (just what we have in or RV, but finding one for a house is impossible) find a diesel engine that doesn’t need urea injections (I guess I’m stuck with older RV’s now), and find a simple walking stick that fits my hand like a glove.  I want to capture a Bald Eagle as it snatches it’s prey from a river, I want to laze on a beach out of earshot of ATV’s and other motorized racket, and I want to see live mooses out in the wilderness miles away from anyone else.  I don’t want much — I don’t think.  I’m just not interested in embracing those aspects of change that serve no purpose for me.  If they suit others — fine.  Just don’t ask me to dance to that music.

Just before I hit the “publish” button I realized something.  This is actually a lifelong trend for me.  When we got married we lived in Chicago. That was too big so we moved to Milwaukee.  That was too big so we moved to West Allis.  West Allis was too big so we moved to a BIG HOUSE in Cudahy.  And now we have decided that Cudahy is too big.  Hmmm…. I just learned something valuable about myself.