Category Archives: Uncategorized

Things You Don’t Really Want To Know

Someone close to me called yesterday with a concern. They had read a symptom-cause anecdote on the Internet. Worried if the report was as bad as they feared, their question to me was, “Should I stop looking things up on the Internet?”  

Do you really want to know how turkey ham is made? What happens to the frozen fries dropped on the restaurant’s kitchen floor? How is the turkey you ate a couple of days ago killed, cleaned, and packaged? It might be information that neither makes you healthier nor feel better. Some things, I think, might make you feel worse for learning. When should you defer from looking up the answer to that meaningless query?

I said, “Yes!”

Here I go with something I read on the Internet. We found this week a critical report about one kind of coffee machine. As it turns out, the scathing article may have some truths, and some not-so-solid information. We found this linked report from Snopes.

The whole truth seems to indict most equipment with cool water reservoirs or with residual moisture (which pretty well includes all typical coffee makers). Okay, let’s check the two coffee machines in mom’s house.

I checked and found mold on the inside walls of the cool water reservoir. Yeah, makes sense that something that stays wet and between 45 and 100 degrees can grow mold. I cleaned the parts I could reach and researched how to clean the hard-to-reach parts. Here’s a link to an article on cleaning the coffee makers. Y’all probably already do all this. It was new to us. We’re going to pick up white vinegar to run through both of the coffeemakers.

If someone offers me a cup of coffee, I’ll probably accept. I won’t ask about the machine or cool water reservoirs. Not only shouldn’t I ask, it’s something I’d just rather not know.

It’s 75 After All

Look what we found yesterday.  75 degrees!  Just right. And all from passive solar gain on a very beautiful sunny day in NC’s mountains. Kind of makes everything good again. We were ready for it.

image

Sunday rained all day. We both already felt terrible, fighting head colds (probably exacerbated by the Wx changes). We never stepped foot outside the camper, not once.  I thought of our readers whom I’ve told, “The camper is large enough because Debbie lets me know when I should find something to do outside. ”

We stayed in all day. And we got along famously.  Granted, we neither one felt well enough to start any horseplay. Still, plenty of room for each to do what they wanted.  We stayed dry, consumed pots of green tea, caught up on reading, planned work days, and rested.

We still find the 25′ camper plenty big enough for both of us, even when one of us can’t get outta here. Luckily, it’s a rare day we’re confined to indoors. It wasn’t 75 degrees outside, but felt good enough to stay outside all day yesterday.

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™, Chasing 75 (again)
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

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Great Point of the Day

Sunset has been my favorite time of day since decades ago. I remember the day I 1st realized it. Do you remember the big vinyl covered bean bag chairs? I had one in front of a west-facing window in my house in Fall 1975. Like todsy, the sky was colorful. While the sun was dipping below the horizon, everything just seemed alright for a few minutes.

Today we almost finished clearing the right-of-way for the trench for our u.g. electrical power primary cable. We’ve removed more than a dozen trees and a few mountain laurels. Eleven of the trees are oak, locust or maple, the other one was white pine. Cutting with only a bow saw is a great work-out, and moving all the trunks, tops and brush adds to the job.

Sunset from Woodland Ridge

We’re properly worn out from today’s adventure. The sunset was a perfect reward!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™, Chasing “45” (for a little while)
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

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Chasing 45 Degrees

These are two of my best friends, these last few days. Warmest things I have

Know where we are? Know just how cold it is here? If you follow us then you may know we claim to “chase 75 degrees” and you might have clicked on our location icon (links to findu.com or aprs.fi to show Google map of N5RTG location).

Well heck, I was talking yesterday to Wag W9WAG, a friend who wishes he had already left Kenosha WI. His current outdoor temp was 8, well colder than our much more comfortable 28 and low of 18. Brr.

What are Debbie and Jim doing in these cold, for them, places? Why haven’t they already fled to warmer climes? We mentioned the wooded acreage we purchased earlier this year. If it was in a much warmer place, then we wouldn’t be running both the furnace and the catalytic just to keep the trailer interior at barely warm enough.

Ashe County is very heavily populated with Christmas trees, and not so much with people. The population swells in the summer, and so might be heading for a sudden drop after the past week’s chilling weather. We stayed through the recent snow. Made nice pictures, a snow person, but didn’t really get very cold.

Our friend Carolyn recommended we spend as much time as we can watching the seasonal changes on our land before we commit to building anything. I hope she remembers to tell us when we can leave. My pile-lined slippers and toque are warm but tend to fall off in bed.

Memorial Day

Here is a wonderful series of posts about our country’s armed forces in Pacific War era. Thanks, gpcox!

Pacific Paratrooper

never-forget

FOR ALL THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED…. FOR ALL YOUR SACRIFICES…. FOR YOUR COURAGE…. I CAN ONLY ATTEMPT TO EXPRESS MY UNENDING GRATITUDE….

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world-war-ii-memorial

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………………………………………………….. THANK YOU……………………………

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Click on photos to enlarge.

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Farewell Salute – Frederick Vreuls, 87, passed away in Delray Beach, FL. Served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Bunker Hill where he earned a Purple Heart for injuries sustained from a kamikaze attack on May 11, 1945.

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Rationing health care in America

Joe Klein wrote in the June 11 2012 issue of Time Magazine about the different kind of advice he received from his parents’ care team. Klein said Geisinger Health System’s medical staff did not recommend expensive end-of-life procedures for his elderly parents in rapidly declining health. Instead, the care team helped Klein through the difficult decisions in helping his parents die peacefully.

I attended a most memorable health care seminar in 1982, soon after joining my hospital’s management team. The speaker, an ethicist/physician, warned us severely, “If you are dying, do NOT go to the hospital. They cannot let you die in peace. In fact, they will violate you, stick you, pound you, shock you to try and keep you alive. They aren’t trying to let you die — they are trying to keep you alive. Die anywhere, but don’t go to the hospital if you are dying.” More tests, more procedures, more billing, better living?

This is an emotional topic for most people. A lot of folks are worried about someone pulling the plug “too early”. You can read comments which raise concern about losing control over deciding for ourselves. And, as Joe Klein so elegantly wrote, he was grateful for health professionals helping him make the toughest decisions in his lifetime about his parents.

Our country’s health care delivery problem is partly about rationing health care, to ensure affordability and access for everyone. And it is about controlling the rate of cost increase. Health care reform cannot succeed just by extending access to care to everyone. In fact, our nation cannot afford to provide as much as possible for as long as possible to as many as possible without also controlling the costs of care delivery.

We dined recently at a neighbor’s house. He is older, from the States, and says he is beleaguered by numerous health problems. The other guests were young escapees from careers as health care providers Canada. We were comparing delivery systems of health care between Canada and the States, and our Old Friend complained he is just worried about “death panels” (I hate to even use the term, but he did.) Old Friend asserted death panels are legislated and might rule out further spending for his continuing health care. He even “knew” the page number but didn’t remember it last night.

So I hit the search engine to get what I could on this wrongful legacy from Sarah Palin. Bottom line, I did find a well-argued dismissal (factcheck.org) of the notion of a death panel determining whether Old Friend could, or not, receive a procedure. Then I followed the link to the Affordable Care Act’s relevant pages on the Independent Medicare Advisory Panel and reread them.

Yes, the “Act” intends to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending” (SEC. 3403. (a) (1) SEC. 1899A. (a) (b) page 489) even as it extends coverage to all Americans. We, all having been raised to prudently spend and to conserve, wouldn’t think of ignoring the relationship of cost and outcome with our own dollars. Efficacy of care delivery vis-à-vis outcomes makes really good sense. Our auto or home insurers dictate the cost level to which an adverse event is reimbursable — if they didn’t then we could none of us afford said insurance. Why should health care costs be so different?

We are a country full of the smartest, best-looking, nicest people in the world, we have the best medical care money can buy, and we deserve it all. We paid for it, didn’t we? Listen to what Thomas A Shannon, PhD, member of Geisinger’s Bioethics Review and Advisory Committee, writes about this notion:

“The discussion of rationing must occur within a cultural context and I wish to identify several issues I think important in current American health care debates. Generally speaking, we tend to think that if something is good, more is better and as much as possible must be best. We also typically assume that no barrel has a bottom — all resources are infinitely renewable. We are quite certain that our medical system is the best in the world. And because our system is the best in the world, we then assume that our medical system ought to be able to cure anything. And because we can cure anything and because we have already prepaid for health care through insurance, we naturally assume that we are entitled to as much as possible for as long as possible. And since I have prepaid, very definitely any sort of queuing up for services is totally un-American.”
[from July 2007 Geisinger Bioethics Notes, http://www.geisinger.org/professionals/services/bioethics/b_notes/july2007.pdf%5D

They can’t ration an infinitely renewable resource to which I have every right, can they? Sure they can! Dr Shannon and others very sensibly explain how care is and always has been rationed in some ways. Dr Shannon labels some of this as “indirect rationing”, as in scheduling, location, costs of services, or required paperwork to obtain services. Many of us have experienced direct rationing, according to Dr. Shannon, through HMO or other reimbursement capitation models whereby we are told what drugs or procedures or therapies our insurance will and will not, allow.

There is seemingly no end to the rapacious appetites for profits of big pharma, medical imaging, home health, and medical tort. A friend’s surgeon recently commented, “I’m paying $200,000 per year in malpractice insurance even though I’ve NEVER had a claim against me.” How much of the increase in health care cost is attributable to our country’s medical tort system? The rate of increase in health care costs is, according to some policy centers, driven 40 to 50 percent by new or increased use of medical equipment. Do you suppose those cost increases are increasing our citizens’ health as much as increasing profits? Could fee-for-service reimbursement plans drive increased utilization of services?

Smart policy dictates our government sustain a system for provision of health care through efforts to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending”. Smarter spending, better health information systems, rewarding more the successful care providers, not paying for faulty work, and discouraging performance of ineffective tests and procedures can all help reduce rampant cost increases. Somebody or some body must take on the tough job of making the right decisions. The “Act” charges the Independent Medical Advisory Panel with this responsibility.

Jim’s Red Shoes did What?

Do you remember “Love Those Red Shoes” a few months back? Jim had tried on, and loved the fit of, a pair of Babolat tennis shoes. What colors did the pro shop have for this shoe? Only red in Jim’s size. This has been Jim’s first pair of red shoes since, say, four or five years old.

Red shoes can generate a lot of attention. Service station attendants talking over the intercom, tennis partners, our opponents, and folks in the bleachers all cheer for the red shoes. Gosh, sometimes it seems Jim’s opponents might even be watching the shoes instead of the ball. Quite a legal distraction, the shoes could be a real help if this were only true. And Jim could have generated more comments if only he had worn the courts anywhere other than just on the courts.

But these are expensive court shoes and Jim donned them only for hitting the tennis courts. He has an old pair of Nikes he reserves for painting or knocking around, a pair of Merrells for hiking or walking, and his Birkies for bopping around the block and for dancing. The red Babolat tennis shoes are specialists.

The red Babolat Propulse3 shoes were everything they were billed as and more. These shoes provided Jim with unexcelled quickness and the most comfortable and snug fit in a tennis court shoe yet with room for his toes. He played a little wearing these shoes before we arrived in Mesa AZ. And Jim has played or hit 3-5 times weekly since we arrived here.

How have these shoes worked out? Well yeah, that’s why we’re writing again. After around 100 hours of screaming around the courts, the shoes started leaving bits of sole behind. Jim spotted a couple of pieces of rubbed-off red rubber on the court today and thought to check his sole. This is what he found, to his great surprise and dismay:

Well-worn and suddenly retired

Jim ended his hitting session and walked home to share his surprise with Debbie. The biggest surprise is probably because Jim hasn’t previously worn through the soles on any pair of tennis shoes. What happened? One of two things: Jim’s footwork has increased dramatically (a distinct possibility given the amount and type of instruction he’s gained this year); or these tennis shoes aren’t as substantial as previous pairs.

Don’t call Michelin yet, we don’t want to distract the Michelin Man while he’s throwing tires at the big octopus-armed gas pumps or whatever those things are in the t.v. commercials. Jim’s contacting the folks who sold him these shoes. Word is, Babolat tennis shoes have a six-month wear guarantee. We sure hope so.

We’re expecting Babolat’s U.S. distributors will come through for us on this. They have an opportunity to show us this was just a slightly thin sole on one of these shoes and the next pair will probably wear longer. Twelve hours a week for just nine weeks doesn’t seem like an awful lot of time in a pair of $110 tennis shoes. And until we resolve this Jim will have to play in his Birkenstocks or hiking shoes or, like he sometimes did when he was in junior high school, barefoot.

These have been, hands-down, the best-fitting and most comfortable pair of tennis shoes Jim has played in. And hopefully we will find out they are shoes he can afford to wear on the tennis courts, comfortable or not.

Jim and Debbie

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Whose birthday is today?

Jim and Debbie

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Go HEELS! UNC 81 – Dook 67

The UNC Tarheels are outright champions of the ACC men’s basketball regular season after a decisive victory over Dook U (no longer #4 nationally) last night in Chapel Hill.

The Tarheels kept Dook from scoring in the paint last night, forcing Dook to shoot from outside.  Dook missed 21 of 27 three-pointers, shot only 35% FGs, and was out-rebounded by Carolina.

Go HEELS!

Jim and Debbie
(a couple of Tarheels)

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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

Maurice Dowell Sellers

Maurice Dow Sellers of Charlotte, NC died Friday, January 7, 2011 at the Stewart Health Center at The Cypress of Charlotte. The eldest son of Eunice and William Sellers, Dow was born July 1, 1920 in the small town of Red Level, AL. At age 5 the family moved to Montgomery, AL where his dad worked for the railroad until the Great Depression came and he opened two small grocery stores. Dow was his bicycle delivery boy during the early ’30s.

Later, he attended Sidney Lanier High School where he played in the band, took Latin, and excelled as a student. With encouragement from his mother, he attended Auburn University graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1941. Soon after, Dow moved to the Akron, OH and began his career with B.F. Goodrich at its wartime tire factories. During the ’40s Akron was a 24/7 city attracting people from all over. One of these was Helen Virginia Muldoon who Dow met and married in 1943 and began a 62-year strong and loving marriage.

In 1946, Harold was born and a few years later in 1949, Nancy was born. For 24 years Dow worked for B.F. Goodrich around Cleveland, OH. The last location was Brecksville, OH in a house he designed and built. Dow, throughout his lifetime, was a master handyman whether it was a bicycle, kid’s toys, washers, dryers, or automobiles. Looking for new challenges, he accepted a job with Celanese Corporation and moved to Charlotte in 1964.

With Celanese Dow quickly advanced and his promotions took him to Connecticut, Mexico City, and Bogota, Columbia. In 1974, Dow returned to Charlotte to become President of Celanese Fibers Company until his retirement in 1985. During his time with Celanese he established many friends in Charlotte and a reputation as a mentor to many of those who worked with him. He was admired and well-respected.

With retirement, Dow and Helen continued to live in Charlotte but traveled extensively including one around-the-world tour. In 1999, Dow and Helen were one of the first residents at The Cypress of Charlotte. Helen had suffered a stroke in 1997, which left her partially disabled. For the next 7 years Dow was her devoted care giver, along with his sister-in-law, Mildred and the staff of the Stewart Health Center.

Helen passed away in 2005, and soon after, he met Catie Cocke who had just moved into The Cypress. They married in March 2006 and enjoyed five very special and loving years prior to his passing.

Dow was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Monty, his sister-in-law Mildred, and his wife Helen. He is survived by wife Catie, his son Harold and his wife, Van, of Seattle, WA, his daughter Nancy of Portland, OR, and grandchildren, Thao, Bi, William, Christopher, and Francisco.

Many heartfelt thanks to Catie’s family, especially her children: Chuck Cocke, Nanelle Napp, Ginny and Allen Martin, Emily and Paul Campbell, Medora and Jeff Hoskins, Jim Cocke, and Debra Wood. They embraced him warmly and provided many delightful experiences for him.

A memorial service to celebrate Dow’s life will be held at 2 p.m., Monday, January 10, 2011 at Providence United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends at a reception following the service in the atrium at the church.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers memorials be made to Providence United Methodist Church, Our House of Portland (www.ourhouseofportland.org) or to a charity of your choice.

Jim and Debbie

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Thinking out of the box

I sit expectantly on the dining room table. Both the two-leggeds are pretending to be otherwise occupied. The story of a table-game’s life, eh? Everyone is just too busy anymore. Sit, sit, sit on the closet shelf and for what? Nothing, most of the time. Dark, quiet, still, pretty cramped. Used to have more room, before these wooly things started sitting all over the shelf. It’s not like I was cold before, either.

Sometimes a two-legged pulls me off the shelf and puts me in the great big room, like when bunches of two-leggeds are around. Then nothing. Nothing. Just sitting around. Oh, what’s this pirate ship looking thing? This wasn’t here last time, was it? I might as well sit in the closet on the shelf except it’s nice to get out and look around. Oh for the old days, when I sat on the table all day. . .

But wait! Why did they search the house looking for me? Did they just want to prove they could find me? They might finish their silly little busynesses and get around to doing something worthwhile, like trying to figure me out. These are different two-leggeds — they’re pretty weird, too. They don’t even sleep in the house, I don’t think. I may be in a closet all the time but I know something about what goes on around here, you know. I can guess what two-leggeds are eating, they’re so noisy about it.

Sometimes their pockets make noise then the two-leggeds talk real loud to their hands. And half the time they make almost no noise at all. I don’t know when it is, ’cause it’s always dark in my closet. I wish I had a window or a skylight, I could see something now and then. Then again, I would just fade and they’d probably get rid of me, all color-faded and not pretty like I am now.

Yeah, everyone’s so busy. Some of the other games tell me there was a time when two-leggeds didn’t even put us away. We were out, like, every night. Maybe it’s a cold-outside-time thing? The two-leggeds only like us when they can’t find anything else to do. Then when they do think they can spend a little high quality time (with me, of course), they find so many last minute things they just have to do first. Food, drinks, phone calls, check the weather, go to the bathroom for the fourteenth time . . . and on and on, it seems.

Of course one of the two-leggeds, he slips out the door every two hours or so and sneaks out to the garage. Then some kind of 4-wheel motorcycle purrs up the lane and goes somewhere for ten minutes. He’s doing something, or he’s just cruising — for a really short time. Probably skeered of the dark rain clouds, don’cha know?

Anyway, he comes back in, looks at the pond a few minutes, takes a deep sigh and finds the other two-legged, the one rattling around in the kitchen. He grabs her, smooches on her, and says something to her then he walks back over to the windows facing the pond.

Wait! He’s picking me up and opening me — Oh My Gosh, he’s gonna turn me over, dump my tiles and turn them over. He must be gonna play now — maybe the other two-legged will too.

Back to ya later, this is pretty intense! I’m going to be thinking out of the box awhile.

anonymous

Who’s playing cowboy?

Mike, in a chuckling but supportive way, calls what I’m doing “playing cowboy”. He does all the dirty work and sometimes gets to enjoy the fun. I’m having fun house-sitting and watching a little bit of the farm. Really I’m watching the remaining expectant heifer — she’s a first time momma and Mike assigned me to periodically check on her.

Mike had kept the two heifers penned in an area just above the barn for the past week. A couple of days ago Mike decided they were close to calving and he moved them to nice grass below the barn. He reasoned the calves would be better off born on the grass than in the mud. One of the heifers calved mid-morning today.

Today, just in advance of a huge lightning storm, Mike and I went over and moved the heifer up the hill to the barn. If she needs help, Mike figured, he wouldn’t be working on the hillside in a huge lightning storm.

Every couple of hours I ride the four-wheeler 1/2 mile to the barn and look in on this Limousin heifer. She seems ready to pop but is holding out for some reason. So I slowly saunter into the barn without angling toward the heifer and I start talking to her. I am absolutely clueless what will work but I pretend I belong and know what I’m about.

She isn’t fooled. She watches me as I cluck and chat with her. I am only there to see if she is laboring and okay. This is interesting for me and I am enjoying the novelty. Different tasks, not much dirty work for me as I just find the girls and report back to Mike if I find anything wrong.

She might find me interesting too. I think she sees through me, knows I’m not the real Mike. The real Mike is the excellent cattle farmer, knows how to manage one-on-one or manage the herd. He can herd the cows on foot or with the four-wheeler equally comfortably.

It looked like he was working the cows with a quarter-horse today as he dodged and darted to guide the heifers up the hill toward the barn. I have used the four-wheeler to run back and forth to the barn and cruise a couple of the fields. The handling on asphalt is a little dicey with the flotation tires, and the terrain unknown under the carpet of grass.

But Mike zips around on the four-wheeler like he has been on it for years. And he apparently has — he told me this Honda four-wheeler is over twenty years old and he has had it more than ten years.

Mike serves as the cattle-man, farmer, veterinarian, investor, psychologist, and so many other roles I wouldn’t even know. He definitely knows his way around this business of raising Limousin cows. He isn’t playing cowboy — he’s the real deal.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are grateful for family, food, safe travel, and relative peace in our little part of the world. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Rainy Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill holds a lot of memories for us. We dreamed of it in high school. Some formative years and our college education were in Chapel Hill. Such an incredibly wonderful place! There were exciting times, new adventures, and new beginnings for each of us. Separately. Debbie and I met over twenty years after I left Chapel Hill. She and I each married in Chapel Hill. Her two children started life in Chapel Hill. We made many friendships there.

A year ago we stopped, upon friend’s recommendations, at Kentucky Horse Park Campground in Lexington, KY. By chance the campground assigned us the campsite next to an Airstream CCD 22 almost identical to our first (and second favorite) Airstream trailer. We backed in and Bea and Dave Witten welcomed us as neighbors.

Bea and Dave live in Chapel Hill. Turns out, they were in Chapel Hill when we were. I received help from Dave at his new bicycle shop downtown Chapel Hill. Like us, they both remarried since then and found new and different lifestyles. They are both award-winning professional photographers, specializing in capturing images of harness racing.

We spent a little time talking in Kentucky Horse Park and we all liked each other. They invited us to visit them sometime and park, using their hookups, by their house. We spent a few days in April this year with them and had a great time. They invited us to return for another visit.

Last week was a perfect time for us to visit again with Dave and Bea. We spent the week in Chapel Hill at the house Dave built in Hunter’s Ridge in the late 70’s. We parked our Airstream next to their garage and plugged into their shore power outlet.

Bea and Dave are wonderful hosts and we love spending time with them. Dave and I talk Airstream maintenance and play frisbee and hit tennis balls. Debbie and Bea take long walks and talk. Great fires flamed in the fireplace. We share wonderful meals and drinks and watch episodes of Fraser.

Bea is the most relaxed busy person we know. She never seems to hurry but is always doing something. She makes her own granola and bread and mayonnaise. While we’re talking in the living room she combs and spins wool

Bea spins wool while we talk

Bea spins wool while we talk

to knit their socks. She darns the socks when needed.

Dr. Andrew Weil told us at a presentation a few years ago he advocates compression of morbidity. This means extending the duration of healthy years and compressing the time of morbidity into as short (and therefore less expensive) a period as we can. Sort of like dying with your boots on, eh?

Dave is my hero. He both runs and plays tennis every day. Weather doesn’t keep him from running. And, he can pound tennis balls across the net for hours. I, on the other hand, wear out after hitting for an hour. And I haven’t run for years. I want to be in better shape and want to hit longer. Do I have the discipline to train like he does?

When I lived in Chapel Hill I played tennis for hours at a time. I ran. I biked. But I was only twenty-two. Since then, I have either hit, or run, or swam, or biked. And through the years I have done less and less of any of these. Dave’s and Dr. Weil’s ideas appeal greatly to me. I think we feel better when we spend time getting exercise and taking care of ourselves.

Or, does the higher level of activity invite sweet memories of younger times?

Myrtle Beach in November

We’re the last one standing. Within a period of three hours, from 8:00 Sunday morning until just after 11:00, the other twenty-one Airstream trailers and one Airstream motorhome pulled out of Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, SC. Our Airstream club, Carolinas Unit of NC, gathers every month to share hugs, meals, and stories. Many members are retired, some are working. And all enjoy staying at the beach for a November weekend of beautiful weather, fresh seafood, and catching up with one another.

The Airstreamers’ parking sites were vacant as little as fifteen minutes before new arrivals motored in. Like yard sale shoppers, other campers almost immediately filed into the spaces closest to the ocean. Some people are camped in Ocean Lakes for the winter. They don’t want to spend their entire time too close to the ocean or they didn’t make their reservations early enough (18 months ago) to secure the prime spot for more than an occasional week. These campers move a few hundred yards and have new neighbors and a new view. A week later they migrate a few hundred yards further from the ocean. The ocean-side sites are in high demand.

Early this year we reserved our site through today, two days after the rally ended. We like the quiet time after a rally. Just us. Cook a meal and enjoy eating in our Airstream together, talking and relaxing. Plans for the day are simple. Eat, read, walk. Repeat. Go to bed.

We walked the perimeter of the campground yesterday, a three-mile walk. The walk took us just over an hour and was interesting. We saw unimproved lots with an old travel trailer or mobile home, or lots with a deck or shed built against a trailer. We counted on one hand the number of unimproved lots, with a mobile home and no other improvements on the lot.

Many of the homes show clear evidence of a single-wide mobile home totally enclosed by siding and a roof. Only the windows give away the truth. And leave us wondering why so many people did not pull the mobile (or not so mobile?) home away and stick-build. Is this a manifestation of the Abilene Paradox? Or is disposition of the mobile home plus establishing a new foundation just not worthwhile?

The beach is nice in November. And, perhaps, all the other months too. We like this month because the days are warm enough without being hot. The nights are cool but not cold. The beaches and surf are just as lovely as always. There are no crowds, anywhere. We’ll return to the beaches some November.

Playdate with Ellie

I'm a shopping girl!

I'm a shopping girl!

We told Kelsey and Stephen we would love if Ellie could stay with us two days while we’re in Vancouver. We kept her one night at their apartment 18 months ago and they took our hotel room for the night. Don’t know how they did, but we enjoyed the visit and Ellie was wonderful with us. Ellie joined us yesterday afternoon for a shopping trip to find some good tea. Ellie’s only stipulation was, she wanted to see toys. The Bay Store (you know, Hudsons Bay Company?) had only clothes and baby toys. Debbie and Ellie enjoyed modeling some stylish things but found nothing they wanted to buy. Ellie still wanted to see a store with toys. And Debbie hoped we’d find some picture discs for Ellie’s “SuperLight” (ViewMaster)

Zeller’s is a small department store. The clerk, roughly our age, had never seen or heard of the ViewMaster. We checked the shelves just to make sure. Debbie and Ellie did find two must-haves, a Fisher-Price Pop-Up Camping Set and a Dora puzzle. But no ViewMaster or discs. Exiting the mall we first entered a modern little toy store with some variety but emphasizing electronic games. The young clerk lit up brightly — “You have one of those?”, he asked. “Yes, as a matter of fact”, we told him, “we just bought it three weeks ago in northern California and are still hoping to find picture discs for it”. He thought it very cool we had one at all, and even more it is new. “You’re so lucky to have it, I wish I had one”, he told us. Our hopes of finding the picture discs dimmed slightly, but we’ll look online for them.

Ellie was holding up well and looking forward to playing with her new toys, so we thought we could wedge in one more shopping. We made a brief tour through Safeway for milk, orange juice, and a few other basics, then were on our way home. Our RV park is in North Vancouver, not quite seven miles from Kelsey’s and Stephen’s apartment. Each trip to their home we fully traverse Vancouver’s pretty downtown and the Lion’s Gate Bridge and all the road and underground construction on Cambie Street. Vancouver neighborhoods often have signs announcing, “Traffic Calming Measures in Effect”. Usually these entail round-abouts, speed-bumps, local-traffic-only areas, and I don’t know what else.

This'll slow the traffic

This'll slow the traffic

We’ve decided Cambie may be the biggest Vancouver traffic calming. Four or five lanes are down to just barely two while, for the second year, as they complete installation of a new rail underground before the 2010 Winter Olympics. For all the mess, they seem to have done a great job keeping the flow of cars and buses. Traffic was getting busier in Vancouver on this Friday afternoon, we dealt with a lot of Cambie St, and Ellie’s trip from the Mall to our camper took a little while. I looked in the rear view after we crossed downtown and she was fast asleep. We had worn her out! So we drove around North Vancouver a little to look at the neighborhoods before we pulled into Capilano RV Park.

Playing with her FP camper set with grandmommy

Playing with her FP camper set with grandmommy

Debbie and Ellie walked around the RV Park awhile and I worked on a very small project in the truck cab. Ellie returned very excited to have discovered, in the RV Park, a baby Airstream (a 19′ Bambi International). And she wanted nothing but to play with her Fisher Price camper set.

Ellie’s bed, finally!

After traveling almost 8,000 miles in the back of our truck, Eleanor has the bed, dresser, and mirror her mommy used as a little girl and through high school. Debbie and I loaded this in the back seat and in the bed of our truck before we flew to Alaska May 19 this year. We returned from Ak June 5 and on June 6 started our trip west. Today we cut a piece of plywood for a bucky, assembled her bed, and made it beside her “new” dresser. Ellie might grow to love the furniture, but we are instantly gratified and thrilled to present it. Whatever can we do with all the space in the truck?

Yea!  Ellie's bed and dresser finally arrived

Yea! Ellie's bed and dresser finally arrived

We also ventured to Vancouver’s Chinatown this afternoon. Debbie and I had depleted our stash of Sencha green tea and found a good deal on large cans. We bought a large can from Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng Company on Main St. We’ll enjoy a cup or two this evening, and decide if we should buy more while we’re here. We also visited Marilyn’s Bakery and Restaurant and shared with each other bites of a curry beef pastry, egg custard, coconut custard, coconut cream pastry, bbq beef roll, and a coconut cookie.

Dr. Sun-Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun-Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden


The snack gave us lots of zoom to explore another hour. We walked through the public part of Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Classical Chinese Garden. We’ll return with a much better understanding of the Garden’s meaning and purpose after reading about it this evening. Many of you may already know this isn’t Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s former home and garden. Instead the garden honors China’s first president and opened for Expo ’86.

Labor Day 2008

This was our first Labor Day as full-timers. We spent it at the Bakersfield RV Resort, and dedicated ourselves to not causing anyone else to labor on our behalf. Sort of a zero day, in the backpacker jargon, where we just relax and enjoy the day.

We started the day reading Sunday’s and Monday’s daily papers (whoops, people labored today to get it to us) and enjoying a gloriously cooler day than the preceding several. I enjoyed watching Querry push Nadal hard in the US Open, and following the hurricane’s attack on the Gulf Coast. And we couldn’t help but notice the quick reduction in population at this RV resort.

We spent several days here last week before everyone piled in for the weekend. Friday, before Labor Day, the park visitor population went from around 40 to perhaps 400. So today, we experienced a large sucking sound as everyone left, returning to their communities and jobs and schools. I’ll be able to swim laps diagonally in the swimming pool again, and there will be a lot less noise and activity around us. The RV resort is well-designed to accommodate the larger crowds so we never felt any problems from the great number of people here. But like a college town during summer break, it’s nice to have the place a little more to ourselves again.

Deb invited our friends, Jerry and Ann, to have dinner with us the next couple evenings. Jerry is very hopeful Ann will be discharged sometime tomorrow, and we offered to pick up some groceries for him and also so we could fix dinner for them. So we headed to the grocery store (whoops, more people labored on our behalf) after visiting the hospital this evening. We left the grocery store late and drove after dark to the RV resort. It’s funny, in almost four years of towing we have towed the trailer after dark only once (leaving Oregon last week at 5:00 a.m. for Bakersfield) and only rarely drive after dark.

We saved several errands for

    after

Labor Day like buying gas for the truck, project supplies from Home Depot, haircuts for both of us, grooming for Ann’s & Jerry’s schnauzer, and a few things from Camping World. Today was a nice day for hanging out around the RV resort, staying cool, and relaxing. And we did our best to minimize anyone else laboring for us.

Happy Birthday to Debbie!

The same day of week she was born, we woke up today and went to early service at the extraordinary First United Methodist Church in Bakersfield, Ca. The sanctuary was full of people, the service was wonderful, and we were impressed by everything. After church we accepted their invitation to join members for the coffee and doughnuts fellowship. We greatly enjoyed visiting with the members and stayed almost two hours there, talking about life, travel, health, and community.

We visited with Ann at Bakersfield Heart and she is doing okay. One of the most touching things we’ve seen since she entered the hospital happened at lunch. One of the nurses, Geri, asked if she could join Jerry, Deb, and me at our lunch table. We thought, at first, she wanted a place to sit. Instead, we learned, she wanted to talk to Jerry about his plans for repatriating Ann to Belmont, NC. She gave Jerry very good information about flying home with Ann, how to prepare for the flight, and best manage the flying time. And, Geri offered to drive Jerry and Ann on Geri’s day off the 120 miles to LAX airport. We were so impressed with her gracious selflessness.

This has been a nice day. Today’s temperatures stayed under 95 and we’ve had a nice breeze all day. Deb opened her presents (all small things so she’ll find space for everything) and we looked at the paper. And her family called her to wish happy birthday. We’re looking forward to the cooler temperatures for a few days, this one has been a great relief. Happy Birthday, Debbie!

Chasing 75 Degrees?

Why chase 75F degree climates? I’ve talked about how hot Bakersfield can be but didn’t mention how our air conditioner deals with it. Today it’s over 104 outside and our camper’s air conditioning has been running full blast since 0830 hours. We’ve done our best to keep the door closed and kept all the shades and curtains pulled. The indoor temperature climbed after lunch to a maximum of 86F degrees, and stayed there until almost dark. Some campers have extra insulation and other provisions to allow all-weather use. We understand, from experience, our camper is not designed for weather temperature extremes. Chasing 75 degrees is a good premise for us.

We’re glad the forecast for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday is for cooler nights and less hot days. We’ve spent time in places more than twenty degrees cooler than 75 and experienced no difficulty maintaining the camper at 75 inside. But we have only one air conditioner. Our camper is factory-equipped with electric strip-heat in the roof unit and a gas-fired furnace ducted throughout the camper. To these we added a ceramic “cube” heater and a gas-fired catalytic heater. Who woulda thought we’d camp in over 100F degree temperatures? You can’t always chase after ideal conditions, and we can enjoy even this hot weather. We’ll chase 75 degrees another time.