Georgia’s Recovery and a New Project for Me

I know, I have been lax about posting for a while – again. We haven’t been doing any traveling for a while now.

In my last post I said that Georgia was scheduled to have hip replacement surgery in May. That surgery went well and she is now in the rehab stage of recovery. She has been getting physical therapy at home three days a week. Next week she will start going to a local facility for out-patient therapy for another four to six weeks. After that, we wont have to stay so close to home.

Pegasus 3D Printer KitWe have been talking about getting a 3D printer for a while now but just hadn’t gotten around to it. So, while we have been home more, I started looking into them.

There are a lot of commercial 3D printers available now but I couldn’t find one that has all the feature I want. I plan on getting into 3D printing as a hobby so I want a printer that I can modify and expand as I learn more. To get what I want, I decided I would build my own from a kit.

I have ordered the kit I chose and it should be delivered soon. I will post occasional updates here but, I have also started a new website just about 3D printing for hobbyists. If this is a subject you are interested it, you can see the new site at 3DHobbyist.com. I hope you will enjoy it.

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Bye-Bye Kodiak!

Good ByeWell, our Kodiak travel trailer just left our driveway for the last time.

It has new owners now and it is off on other adventures without us.

Because of health issues we have noy used the trailer since August of last year. Now, Georgia is having hip replacement surgery next month so most of this summer she will be doing rehab. We decided it was better to sell the Kodiak to people who can get good use out of it than to let it set motionless.

Maybe some day will have another RV. The Kodiak was our fifth so it certainly is possible there will be more. For now though, the parking space next to the garage is empty.

Do I hear a fishing boat calling my name?

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Two Road Trips – 1 Planned and 1 Not

slots-932268_640On Wednesday of last week, Georgia and I took a “cabin fever” break by making a short two night trip to Wisconsin Dells.

We stayed at our favorite hotel in Baraboo and spent much of our time at Ho-Chunk casino. They had a promotion going on that awarded rewards play for certain tasks. 10 points for dining at one of the casino venues, 10 for signing up for the newsletter and others. We each ended up with $50 dollars of free slot play.

It was nice to get away during the winter and we ended up doing just a little better than break even so we were happy.

When we got up Friday morning, Georgia had a message on her phone telling her that Virgina,her mother-in-law from her first marriage, had died during the night. It wasn’t totally unexpected since she was 90 years old and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for several years.  This was Angeli’s grandmother and Max’s great grandmother. So, we started planning a trip to Michigan for the funeral.

We got home Friday night with the intention of staying there a couple nights then leaving for Grand Rapids. Saturday we learned that the viewing and funeral would both be held on  Wednesday so we decided to wait until Tuesday to go.

We went through our usual routine with Max staying at our house Sunday afternoon to Tuesday. He didn’t really understand what going on a trip was all about, since this was going to be his first, but he was excited that something was going on. He must have heard someone talk about a family trip because when we talked to him about it he would always say; “A trip with my family.”

Tuesday we loaded the car and got going about noon. The forecast was for show showers in Grand Rapids but nothing serious. That would turn out to be wrong!

We dropped Max off earlier than usual because he would be going with his parents. From their home in Chicago we continued our trip east. The roads we good for the first part of the drive.

We had decided to stay inland away from Lake Michigan to try and avoid lake effect snow but still, when we were still about 100 miles from Grand Rapids, we hit the first light snow. It was melting on contact so it was just making the road wet.

icy roadThe closer we got, the harder it was snowing. As the sun went down, the wet road turned to slush and then to snow covered ice. Our last 30 miles we were only going 30 to 40 miles an hour and the last 10 was more like 25 MPH.

We were relieved when we got to the hotel but we knew that Angeli, Edwin and Max were still behind us since they left later than we did. We could only hope the plows and salt trucks were out doing their job.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. They had even worse conditions than we did and for a longer distance. What should have been a 3 hour trip ended up taking them 4 1/2 hours and was white knuckles for the last 1/3 of the way. Everyone of us was very glad when the arrived about 11:30 PM.

Wednesday the weather was clear and the main roads were good. Georgia and I got to the funeral home about 10 AM for gathering of Virgina’s immediate family. Then at 11 the visitation for the public began. Angeli and Edwin slept in a little after their harrowing drive of the night before but they got there with Max before the funeral at 1 PM.

Max was a big hit with all the relatives he hadn’t met before. There is nothing shy about him. He was happy to talk to everybody. The only problem was that he couldn’t stop talking when the service was about to start so Edwin took him to a room reserved just for such occasions. Speakers on the wall  let them hear what was going on so they weren’t completely left out.

After the funeral service, we went to the church for a late lunch. Max got to run around and burn off some energy there at least.

That night we met up with friends for dinner before turning in to rest up before the drive home.

When we got up Thursday morning it was snowing again. Luckily though the roads were just wet so we went ahead and made the drive back home. The last 2/3 of the trip was on dry roads.

Any time we have to travel in the winter around the Great Lakes it can be a challenge. Lake effect snow can pop up on one or the other side of Lake Michigan anytime the wind blows. Sometimes though, we just have to go anyway.

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Happy New Year! 2016

Happy New Year!

 

 

I hope you all have a wonderful 2016.

Tom

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Merry Christmas! – 2015

Franz_Xaver_Gruber_(1787-1863)

Franz Xaver Gruber, painted by Sebastian Stief (1846)

A couple years ago I told the story of a priest named Joseph Mohr of St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria and how he and Franz Gruber came to write the carol Silent Night. They sang it, accompanied by guitar, on Christmas Eve 1818.

But, what happened after that night when the two preformed the carol for the first time? Here, with the most reliable information I could find,  is the rest of the story of how Silent Night became one of the most beloved Christmas songs all over the world.

A master organ builder named Karl Mauracher, traveled to Oberndorf several times to work on the church organ. On one of those visits, he got copy of the composition and took it home with him. The simple carol began it’s journey around the world.

Two families of folk singers incorporated the song into their repertoire. According to the Leipziger Tageblatt, the Strasser family sang the song at a concert in Leipzig in 1832. The Rainer Family sang the Christmas carol in front of Emperor Franz I and Tsar Alexander I. Then, in 1839, the Rainers performed “Stille Nacht” at the Alexander Hamilton Monument near Trinity Church in New York City.

In the 1840s, Joseph Bletzacher, opera singer from Hannover, stated that the carol was already popular in Lower Saxony. Supposedly it became the favorite Christmas carol of King Frederick William IV of Prussia.

By this time,  Joseph Mohr had died and name of the composer had been forgotten. Although Franz Gruber had written the music the German authorities now attributed the lyrics to him and the melody was assumed to have been written by Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven – depending on who was reporting the history. The controversy was resolved when a long-lost copy of “Stille Nacht” Joseph Mohr own had was authenticated. In the upper right hand corner, Mohr wrote, “Melodie von Fr. Xav. Gruber.”

Franz Gruber composed several orchestral arrangements of Stille Nacht during his lifetime. But, the original guitar arrangement is the one closest to how Father Mohr originally envisioned the song.

Despite attempts to attribute the work to famous composers, real story of Silent Night and it’s world wide impact is much more wonderful. The inspiring lyrics came from the heart of a simple parish priest. The melody was composed by a local musician who none outside of his village had heard of. No celebrity or state orchestra preformed it at its premiere. Yet its powerful message of heavenly peace played on a single guitar and sung on Christmas Eve in a village church  has crossed all borders and torn down all language barriers, touching the hearts of people everywhere.

So, image yourself in St Nicholas church on Christmas Eve, 1818 as you listen to the carol in the video below.

Merry Christmas

 

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Boy, Am I Behind!

Suddenly I realized that I haven’t updated this blog in over 2 months. I blame retirement! I seem to be busier now than I was when I worked.

There has been a lot going on. Georgia and I made a couple trips to Wisconsin Dells. Then there were trips to northern Wisconsin for my niece’s wedding and one to Grand Rapids to visit Georgia’s family. It is great to be able to travel during the week and avoid that weekend traffic.

Max in the snowWe still have Max with us two nights  a week. He is growing fast and learning new things every day. He is also a typical toddler and pushing his boundaries.  Most of the time he is very good but he can be a handful when he wants his own way. Terrible Two can’t end soon enough.

Lately he has gotten very polite in his stubbornness:

“Max, can you pick up your toys?”

“No thank you.”

“Max, time for your nap.”

“No thank you.”

“Max please sit down and eat you lunch.”

“No thank you.”

What are grand parents to do?

I have also taken on another project. I am working on making a business of online marketing as a way to supplement our retirement income. I have built two new websites as part of that effort. They are Affiliate Marketing for Retirees and Wealthy Affiliate How To. Working on those takes a lot of my time too.

We had some bad luck last Friday. We were driving to a doctors appointment when we hit a deer. Georgia and I are fine. The deer died and the Jeep was totaled.

We had been talking about trading this Jeep anyway – it is a 2004 – but this isn’t how we wanted it to happen.

We have been car shopping the last couple days and last night we brought home Jeep Grand Cherokee number four. It is a 2015 Overland. Red like all our other Grand Cherokees.

Jeep Overland

Hopefully this new vehicle will take us on many fun road trips over the next few years.

I am going to make a real effort to find the time to update this blog more often. It gets hard though. Please bear with me if there are occasion gaps.

Tom

 

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Going Places – Entertaining a Toddler

Our grandson Max stays with us a couple days a week. It used to be easy to keep him entertained at home. Now that he is two and a half  though, he tends to get bored just playing with his toys. We have been finding places to take him that will hold his interest and allow him to learn a few things at the same time. Here are some recent favorites that we all enjoyed.

Lake County Discovery Museum

This very child friendly museum is just minutes away so it is easy to visit on rainy days. Most of the exhibits encourage children to touch, push, pull and play with them. Max loves it!

Right now they have a special exhibit called “Growing Up in Lake County” that let’s kids see how life was in pioneer days. Max doesn’t understand all of what they are teaching but he did like playing in the school house and cabin. He even met a couple new friends to pretend with.

This is one place we can go back to even when winter hits. I don’t think Max will get bored with it for several years at least.

Lambs Farm

Here is a description from Wikipedia:

Lambs Farm is a non-profit organization in Libertyville, Illinois, that provides vocational and residential services for over 250 adults with developmental disabilities. Located on a 72-acre campus, Lambs Farm includes several family attractions, including a petting zoo, a pet shop, a miniature golf course, several small amusement rides, a restaurant, a thrift shop, a country store and a bakery. Lambs Farm community members work at these attractions, or at a nearby vocational center.

MCowax really enjoyed seeing the animals – except the cow. I don’t think he realized just how big a cow is. When one put its head over a door right above him, it scared him. Once we got a little more distance from it he was fine.

Surprisingly he was fine with an even bigger horse. Probably because he saw it through the fence first and wasn’t surprised by it.

Pygmy GoatsHe really liked the pygmy goats though. We could go into their pen and interact with them. I had a hard time getting Max to leave. He also got to see donkeys, ponies, horses, sheep, chickens, turkeys, geese and more.

The carousal was another big hit and I’m sure the miniature train would have been but it was closed for repairs. That is something for next time.

Goebbert’s Pumpkin Patch

Goebbert’s is a whole lot more than just a pumpkin farm. It’s an amusement park, zoo, playground, farmer’s market, restaurant, fair and entertainment venue all rolled into one.

The Fall Festival started last weekend and we were there. Highlights for Max were the corn pit, his first pony ride, the pumpkin eating dinosaur (we had to back up a little though – it was a little scary up close), the train ride and exotic animals.

The corn pit, which is sort of a big sand box but with corn kernels, was one of your first stops. Max had a blast. The only problem was getting him to leave. We should have saved it for the end I think.

He was looking forward to the pony ride right up until I actually sat him in the saddle. Then he had second thoughts. I assured him I would walk beside him and he ended up really enjoying the ride.

We had lunch at the Farmer’ Wife Cafe. That gave the adults a little break at least. It’s hard keeping up with a toddler.

We watched videos of the pumpkin eating dinosaur the night before to prepare Max for what it would be like and he thought he really wanted to see it. The reality of that big head right next to him was too much though. Her had to back up a few feet so he could enjoy the show without worry of being eaten.

The exotic animal display surprised me with the number of animals they had. There were giraffes, monkeys, llamas, antelope, tiger cubs, a bear, camels, kangaroos, cranes,parrots and a lot more. They even had a bearcat which is something you don’t see often. The zoo was Grandpa’s favorite part of the visit.

Max loves trains and Goebbert’s has an old one they acquired from an a closed amusement park in Wisconsin Dells. It has been fully restored and runs on a half mile of track. Max and Grandma took the trip together. He especially liked the “bone people.”

There was more to do at the Pumpkin Patch than we could get to in one day so we will have to go back before the season ends.


So, where do we go next? It’s going to be hard to top these adventures for a two year old!

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New Amazon Fire Tablet for $49.99

New Kindle FireAmazon has introduced a new tablet that will sell for only $49.99.

It has a 7″ display, 8GB of memory, WiFi, front and rear cameras and more. It might not have the specs of a top of the line model but, this is a real tablet for a bargain price.

If you need a cheap tablet or need a back up device, this looks like a good choice to me. I am seriously considering getting one.

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Certified! – As an RV Inspector That Is

NRVIA BadgeToday I completed both tests for certification as an RV inspector. The two tests were Standards and Practices and Technical Knowledge. I finished the training some time ago but was waiting to retire from my regular job to get the certification. Now it is done.

Right now, I don’t have any immediate plans to do inspections for hire but the knowledge I gained will be useful to me and to RVing friends and acquaintances.

 

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Retired!

RetirmentSo, we got back from AirVenture on Monday July 27. I went back to work on the 28th. My group had a lunch for me that day because…this was my last week. Friday July 31st was my last day of work and I spent it working from home – well not working really. I spent the day answering goodbye emails from my associates.

As of August 1st. I am retired!

So far, I love it. I have had no second thoughts and no regrets. I am ready for the next phase of my life.

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