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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Bought one, passed on the other.

 Cullman,   AL


Not a heck of a lot has been going on the past few weeks.     Still waiting for information on when Leonard is cleared for shoulder surgery.     Both arms are about useless.  Can do no lifting of them.

He needs me to help him put on his shirt and socks.   Also dry his back after bathing.   He is anxious to once again be able to bush hog and do other work around here including sanding down further the front steps and staining them.

I had been having difficulties with my Dell computer for the last several months.  Slow as molasses and would not take a charge.   Finally I decided I had enough.   So off to Office Depot.

I now have a Lenovo.   Easy to get used to as it has the same Windows 10 the Dell had.  Not a good picture but here she is.


It's great I have no issues with learning a new computer operating system but it's always something to quote Gilda Radnor.    This is the first blog entry since the layout has changed.  What was wrong with the old one?   I will get it figured out.

The Dell was just sitting here in my office and I wondered what to do with it.  Then daughter Amy was telling me they were having issues with hers.  (another one I got upset with and gave her a few years back).    Not only that both granddaughters are using hers as their school has not opened and they do their classes on line at home. (Abby has since been issued one from her school).  Amy also has to use a computer frequently from home.  She is a tax accessor in Baltimore county and does a lot of research from her home office.   Her husband is an archeologist and does some reports and research from home also.    Three people one computer.  

So I offered the Dell to her.   I took it to Office Depot who wiped it clean and put it back to factory settings.     I sent it to Maryland via FedEx.    Overnight cost was about $165.00.   "Ground" was $25.00.    You bet I chose ground.   I could not believe it but it arrived in just two days, last Sunday.  So glad I saved the $140.00.

Now for what we did not buy.    We had seen advertisements on TV for a gun store named Caliber down in Homewood, Al, right outside Birmingham.   Took a ride down yesterday.   Oh my gosh.   Cheapest gun we saw was $700.00.    Most were in the $4,000 to $7,000 range.    One was $250,000.   That's right.... A quarter of a million dollars.    There was even a Gatling gun sitting on wheels.   Didn't see a price of it.  

There was a clothing department.   I checked out one shirt.   $195.00.   Gloves $35.00.   WOW.

We left there and decided since we saved $250,000 by not buying that gun we could go to lunch.  Even better, our son Lennie had won a $25.00 gift card to the local Applebee's.   Since they don't go to Applebee's and we do, he gave it to his Dad.     So dinner cost us $6.51 plus tip.   


Bottom line is we saved a bundle yesterday:    A cheap lunch and not spending the $250,000.


Until next time.


Monday, September 7, 2020

Reflections of the RV life

Cullman,   AL


As I sit here reflecting on our 7 years on the road, I am wondering about folks like us that lived their dream of traveling the country in an RV and are now settled down to a house or apartment.    Many of those people we met starting in 2010 have settled down in the last couple of years.

Our story:     We purchased a used 1988 motorhome back in 2005.  We did this to see if we would really enjoy vacations "camping".   One of the first places we traveled to was  Charlottesville VA.   We met a delightful couple ( Ursula and Carl) who were work camping there and living in their fifth wheel trailer.   We had never heard of people who actually lived in an RV.  We were horrified and went away laughing and shaking our heads.      Their story got me thinking.  And researching.

I was told to follow a couple who had a "blog" called RV-Dreams.  I had no idea what a blog was at that time.   It was 2006, remember.    I was intrigued.

We decided if we were to camp more often we would buy a fifthwheel trailer.  Our first was a 2002 Cedar Creek that we bought used in 2007.    By 2009 we had decided that when we retired within the next year we would travel fulltime.    We sold our house and property to my daughter and husband.



We moved into the Cedar Creek at a small nearby year round RV park.   Then came winter.   The winds whipped through the rig.   We practically froze.   We needed something better insulated.

So, came our 2009 Montana.


We loved that Montana.   Warm, cozy, nothing ever broke.   Wish we realized what a gem we had.  We traveled the country.   We started our full time life on the road and volunteering as a Nomad.   NOMADSUMC.ORG

But time moved on.   In 2014 we were parked at our daughters house in NJ.  We were bored.  Let's go LOOK at RVs.   Not buying.  Definitely not buying.

Moving from Montana to 2014 Cedar Creek



There were definite improvements.   Self leveling jacks.   Much larger bedroom closet and a residential fridge with ice maker.   Luxury.    Now the cons:     It set an inch and half unlevel.   Tires were getting ate up.  We talked to the manufacturer.  They told us to move things around.   WHAT????  Perhaps all the cabinets, the stove, the fridge, the water heater, the entertainment unit??  Had they never been in an RV?  Didn't they design this one?   We ended up changing out the axles at a cost of over $5,000.



Two years later we decided to look again.  We thought we found the perfect unit.  We loved the floor plan.   So much room.


The living area provided privacy when we had guests by closing the doors.   The storage was unbelievable.   There was a TV in the living room, over the fridge in the kitchen and the bedroom.  There were sofa beds in living room and kitchen.  That island is on wheels so we moved it to an open wall by the door giving so much more kitchen space.

Trading in the Cedar Creek for the Open Range.




We were in heaven.   For a while.  Then heaven turned to hell.

On three occasions a spring hanger broke, the first time shredding two tires.



A crack appeared on the slide near the bedroom window.   It was taken to the shop 3 times and "repaired" only to crack again.


The refrigerator was to run off the inverter when not plugged into shore power.  Sometimes it did, often it did not.



Finally the last straw.   The floor rotten out from the dining area and progressed into the living room.

Highland Ridge came to an Alabama dealer and picked up to rig in November 2017 to perform the repairs.    We had to pick it up and inspect the rig.   Finally in March of 2018 when the weather broke we drove up to Indiana.    We were thrilled.   It looked beautiful.  They even fixed damage we had done to it when Leonard backed up into our carport.   The thrill was short lived.

We drove 200 miles and were in Indianapolis when a SPRING HANGER BROKE.   We called Highland Ridge.  They sent out mechanics the next day.  Yeah one had broke and we were told another one was about to break.     The hangers were fixed and we held our breath all the way to the dealer in Alabama and traded the beautiful Open Range for a travel trailer. 

We were no longer fulltimers having bought our home in December 2016.   We just wanted an RV for vacations and short trips.




Comfortable but no self leveling jacks, no counter space, no huge closets, no residential fridge.  But it was suitable for how we planned to use it.   It had a  nice bunk room which our granddaughters loved.   On one side were the bunks and the other side had a sofa which could be folded out and another bunk bed overhead that was folded up when not needed.  Also a TV.   And the unit had an outside kitchen with small fridge, microwave and two burner stove and good amount of storage.

We traveled a few times in it before it became evident that we could no longer RV and a better option would be to get a car.   We only had the F350 dually.  The addition of a small car would be nice.  No, we did not get rid of the truck.   We sold the trailer and got a Ford Escape. 

Our decision was really made for us.   Len has both heart and lung disease and two torn shoulders.  He can no longer easily set up and tear down the RV.   It was time.

Do we miss it?   Sometimes.   Are we sorry we spent our time on the road?  No way.   But our greatest regret is not keeping the Montana.   Looking back we could have changed out the RV fridge to a residential and had self leveling jacks installed.   And have a unit that we could depend on.  And lots more money in investments.    Can't look back, only forward.

Our RVing friends, what is your story?

Until next time.




Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Visit of the Granddaughers.


Cullman,    AL

When last I blogged the granddaughters had just arrived from their home in Maryland for their summer visit .    On that first day it was discovered that our Female Muscovey had just given birth to 4 cute as can be ducklings.    Amazing that they were swimming on their second day of life.

Each morning we would go out to the pond area and check on them.   We were aware that the Red Tailed Hawk that lives on premises must be watching them.   We had lost 3 ducks to hawks in the past.   When they were about 2 weeks old I went to check.   Only one duckling left.   He is the yellow one of the left in this picture.


He is still here and has grown at an unbelievable rate.   He keeps up well with Mama and Papa.  But each day I hold my breath as I check on him.

As we no longer have our Thousand Trails membership, day trips to Hidden Cove RV Park is out of the question.   In years past we would take the girls there several times a week to use the pool.   They did get to go swimming a few times.    Once DIL Lois took them with her to Smith Lake for a picnic and swim.    A few times they got to visit with the young boy up the road whose family has an in-ground pool.

One Friday we decided to take a nice ride.   I had heard about Little River Canyon over near Ft Payne, about an hour from here.     On the way we passed a large flea market.   We decided to stop.
After about an hour of walking around in the heat we decided to head on.   Oops.

When we got to the car Len realized he did not have the keys to the car on his belt clip.  He thought he must have left them in the ignition.   I called AAA and gave them the address.  They said it would be about an hour.   By that time it was in the 90s and no shade.

We were near a vendor who was under a tent.   I walked over and explained the situation with Leonard and being on oxygen.   They got out another chair and invited him to sit there with two large fans near him.


Charlotte and Abby found a seat on the ground.


We waited and waited.  The serviceman called a few times as he was having difficulty finding us. I kept telling him the cross street numbers and that we were at the huge flea market.   In took one hour longer than first promised for him to find us.    It took 3 minutes for him to get the door unlocked.  No keys in the ignition.   I looked down.   There were the keys on the floor between the drivers seat and the door.    Could have been much worse if the keys had dropped off the clip while we were walking around.

So off we go.   Then it hit me.   There were flea markets and yard sales EVERYWHERRE.  This was the weekend of the 690 mile yard sale that starts in that area of Alabama, goes up to Michigan.  This was part of the reason the driver couldn't find us.  He kept stopping at other flea markets.

We took the 11 mile drive around the canyon.  But couldn't see much.   It will better in the fall and when leaves are off the trees.   There were no pull offs to look down.    We will try again.   By that time were were hungry.    The ranger at the gate referred us to a restaurant nearby.


It sits over looking a marina and has great outside seating.  The food was terrific.  We did have one issue, Charlotte is allergic to eggs.   She ordered a chicken taco.   It was served with a dressing that contained eggs.   She sent it back  and asked for no dressing.   It came back and after a few bites realized there was slaw.   With dressing containing eggs.   She took some meds and was fine.  So we ordered wings for her.  She took them home and devoured them all.

A few weeks later we searched for something else to do.   We found info on Cooks Nature Museum near Decatur.   They girls would rather go to a nature museum then an amusement park.  They were so excited.

Here they are working in some type of sand that forms volcanos, rivers, etc.


Checking out the snakes.


Abby inside an actual beaver lodge


The admission was $70.   We were informed that cost could be put toward a years membership for one person.    So I got a years membership at no additional cost.    That means I get in free, all folks with me get a 25% discount and there is a 10% discount at the gift store and restaurant.   We will make plans for our Alabama family to visit the center.

As usual there is work to be done in the yard.   We had a huge prickly rose-type bush.  It became hard to get under it to contain the weeds.   Plus when I mowed around it I got scratched from the thorns.  I told Len to get it out of here.   Only to happy to oblige.


Abby on the tractor


The girls went home last weekend.   We met their Mom and Dad half way which is where my nephew and family live in Virginia.   Len and I stayed there Saturday night and got home Sunday about 2.  It is so quiet here.

Len was scheduled to have left shoulder replacement two days ago.   Last week he had to go to UAB in Birmingham for pre-admission testing.   It took about 2 hours.  Then of Friday back for COVID test.   It is done in a parking garage and very organized.  The only time you open a window is when the actual test is performed.    Otherwise communications are by phone.   We got in line, gave the attendant his name.  They came back that he was not on the schedule.   WHAT?   I had the form with me listing all his appointments.  He went through the test.

The hospital was supposed to call him on Friday before 3 to tell him what time to be there.  No call.  At 9 at night he called them.  The surgeon on call checked the records and told Len the surgery had
 been cancelled.    WHAT? 

On Monday Len talked to orthopedist staff and said the cardiologist cancelled it.  He talked to the cardiologist office and they told him the doctor would not release him for surgery due to his severe pulmonary hypertension until he gets another heart catherization.   They said they will call when that is scheduled.   He has an appointment for check ups with cardiologist and neurologist  on September 8.   Hopefully it will be done then.    No excuse.  Someone should have called.

Until next time.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A visit, new borns and lights

Cullman, AL


July was a slow, quick month.    Due to COVID 19 we have not done much.  We do some chores around the yard, some chores around the house, pick up groceries, play games on our phones, go to church where we sit in our car listening to service via radio, nap, read, watch TV.   Day after day after day after day.

Most of the yard work Leonard is unable to do.   A lot I am starting to have difficulties.  He can bush hog, I can mow and weed whack.     I attempted to spread mulch. After a few bags I knew they were too heavy for me to lift, pull around and flip.    What to do.    I hired a local man to help.    After a few slow starts (long story, some frustration) he finally accomplished a few things.   He spread the mulch, cleaned weeds from around front stepping stones, weed whacked around the house and the cleaned the weeds from around the pond.   I am attempting to keep the pond weeds down by weed whacking along with applying pond weed killer.

It is late in the summer for our annual visit from our grand-daughters from Maryland.  Daughter Amy and the girls left their home on Friday, July 24 (staying overnight in Knoxville, TN) and arrived here about 10:30 on the 25th.   It was a long drive and a short visit for Amy.   Before she headed back to Maryland we had lunch at  one of the girls favorite restaurants in Cullman.  Then Amy left to return to Knoxville for the night and home on Sunday.   This is Amy, Abby and Charlotte all decked out in the current world wide fashion.


While Amy was still here, I told them that our Muscovey duck had been sitting on eggs for the last couple of weeks.   We really didn't expect there would be any hatching.   We only have two ducks at this time.  A male Pekin, and a female Muscovey.   I checked to see if ducks cross breed.  They do.

Abby looked into the box where Elise was nesting.   Looky here.....excitement.... a baby.   Two hatched that day, two the next.   Two eggs remained unattended for two more days when I removed them.   Daughter Terri did some research.    When the Mama is a Pekin and Papa is a Muscovey the ducklings are called Mules.   When the Mama is a Muscovey and the Papa is a Pekin, as ours are, the ducklings are Hinnys.     In both cases the ducks are docile, silent and sterile.   

Papa (named Baby Duck) and Mama (Elsie) and babies (yet to be named).  We can not get closer than about two feet from babies when either or both Papa and Mama charge us with mouths really to nip.  We are amazed at how the male duck tends to the babies.   If one lags behind he will nudge it to move it along.   All four of them are usually within feet of each other.



Ducklings at one week enjoying a swim.



And another project we did a few days ago.  Len's shop was dimly lit with just a couple of fluorescent light fixtures and two single light bulbs.   We purchased two LED fixtures to replace to single bulbs.   To get up to the fixtures,  I lifted Leonard with the tractor.  He stood on the platform.   Works quite well.   And impressed with the improved lighting.




Leonard has no use of his left arm from falling on his shoulder almost two years ago.   With his other health concerns, the cardiologist would not agree to surgery until there was a marked improvement.  That time has arrived.   He gets surgery on his shoulder August 24 at University of Alabama in Birmingham.   We were impressed with the surgeon and his cardiologist will be available in case of need.     Recuperation will take a bit of time.  That's okay.. something to look forward to.

That's about all for now.   Taking it day by day.  

Friday, July 24, 2020

This new stuff

Cullman,   AL


Not much of a blog today.  Just a complaint.    I just tried the NEW interface that these blogs will be changing to.   

I see where there is a reading list.  My list is mostly OLD OLD blogs that are not in existence any more.   Those I read now are no where to be found. 

Has anyone else tried the new layout?


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Wedding and other stuff

Cullman,  AL


Not much to write about lately.   Well, a few.    Many of you know we are Country Music fans.  This is one we had to pass up.


Alan Jackson came to town a few weeks ago.  Not far from where we live.   He proposed a drive-in show with some profits to go to the local food bank.   A maximum of 2,000 cars.  We would have loved to have gone but was afraid it would be too hot for us old people sitting in our car or tailgating on the truck.   As it turned out, it was a mild night.    Of well, we saw him once when he did a concert in Atlantic City.  Would have been nice to have seen him again.

Our boy Biscuit does not miss a thing.  I saw him tracking something in the front yard.


He kept his distance.  I don't know if he ever saw an Armadillo before. 

We left home on June 18, spending the night in Laurel, MS and arriving at Len's brother Royce and SIL Susies on June 19.   Biscuit is treated very well there.

On June 20 we attended the wedding of Nephew Scott and his sweetie Natalie.


They decorated the Vinton VFW in grand style.



It was nice to visit with our Louisiana/Texas family.

Daughter Cassie with her Jeremiah


Cassie's oldest, Hunter who just graduated High School and her youngest Jeremiah




On Sunday we drove to Pearland Texas for the day to see with Daughter D'Juana, SIL Joe and grands Alex, Jared and Lindsey.     Always a nice visit.  And great steaks too!

We left Louisiana on Monday June 20 again over-nighting half way home in Laurel,  MS.

Last Thursday Leonard had an appointment at UAB regarding his bad shoulders.  They took x-rays of both.  The right arm is almost as bad as the left.  The left he can't use at all.   An appointment is made for late July to see the orthopedic surgeon and talk about surgery.   Provided he continues to improve with his heart/lung situation he will be able to have one shoulder repaired.

I had mowed our grass two days before we felt for 5 days.   That was one week before we returned.  It looked like it had not been mowed for weeks.   Then the rains came.   And continue to come.   I did get most of it done over the last couple of days between showers but it looks like it needs to be done again ASAP.   I stress over the yard and pond not looking nice.   I enjoy mowing.  Crazy, eh?

Last night we had about 5 minutes of frightful wind.  I was on alert for tornado warnings as we had a few days ago.  But no sirens this time.     This is what I saw when I looked out as the wind whipped.





Limbs were broken off a pine tree.   That tree looks like it had been hit by lightening.  Next to it is an oak tree with several large branches broken off.

We had been wondering how to get the apples off the high branches of the apple tree.  Problem solved.



Until next time.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Leonard feeling better .....doing stuff

Cullman,  AL


For the last several months Leonard has had a difficult time health wise.   We are now seeing a change.  We were told when he started his medication (Adempas) that it would take a while but hopefully he would see an improvement.

For months he had sat in his recliner, often all day in his PJs.  He would come to the table for supper.  Breakfast (if he had any) and lunch would usually be in the chair.   He had no strength.  Slept most of the day. 

The last couple of weeks we have seen a noticeable improvement.   He still tires.  He is still on oxygen (as he will always be).  He still can not lift a lot.  He is able to do more.    But he does not vacuum.   Well, can't blame on his disease.  He never did. 

My bag-less vacuum gave up the ghost.  Had lots of Biscuit hair wrapped around its beaters.  Motor started smoking and quit.    I went online and found a Bissell for pets.



What a job it did.   I used it on three area rugs (office, dining room and living room) plus the wall-to-wall in our bedroom.   Had to empty 4 times.  Glad we only have one dog.

A couple of weeks ago I was working in my flower bed and came across 4 duck eggs.  The work of our Muscovy Elsie.    I made the mistake of taking all 4.  So she moved her egg laying nest.  We didn't know where.    Three days ago I found the nest in a wooden area.   She had been busy.


I marked and left two of them and took and other 10.  We are now eating duck eggs.  Not bad.  Len looked yesterday and there were 3 eggs.    Yesterday working in the yard we had come across a few cracked open shells.    Raccoon?   Possum?   Today I checked her nest.   Only shells there.  Time for her to move again.

When we had ducklings Len made a cage from them.   It now sits by the pond but the grown ducks have not been using it.    This afternoon I saw this.


Look closely.   There is Elsie sitting inside looking out.    About an hour later I walked over to it.  An egg!    I left it there hoping whatever has been taking her eggs don't see it.

As I said earlier, Len is up to doing some work.  We have a cedar tree and a magnolia tree that had low branches I would have to fight when mowing.   Solution.   Len put the forks on his tractor, lifted a wooden pallet with the forks.   Then put a generator on the pallet with his electric chain saw.  He put a safety belt on and trusted me to lift him.


Cutting the branches of the cedar tree


Now I can easily mow under it.  And don't get itchy cedar needles down my shirt.


Cutting the magnolia branch I would conk my head on.


Much better.  And out in bloom too.



One last thing.   When we bought this property there was a double wide trailer out by the shop.  The owners mother lived in it.  We did not want it there so they sold it and had it removed.   That is where we have RV sites.     The water hook up and spigot was low to the ground.   Two years ago I was mowing and hit something.   I thought gosh, what did I hit.   When I turned the mower around it looked like Old Faithful Geyser.   So that I would not run over it again, Len raised the whole thing and added a 4x4 post so I wouldn't miss it.


Got to report last Sunday I didn't miss it.  I hit it straight on.    A flood.   After turning the water off at the road Len started digging down.   We quickly knew he wasn't able to do this.   He does not have the strength to dig and if he got down on the ground to fix it he would have difficultly getting up.

I called Ashley and Gary our nearest neighbors.   The sweet couple came right over.  After going to Lowes for a part, Gary fixed it for us.    We are blessed to have people nearby always willing to help.  Gary told Leonard he would cut down the branches.   We saw Gary yesterday and he just shook his head when Leonard told him he had done it.   I think he was proud of himself.

Until next time.