"Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory." ~ Jack London 


I post here to keep my mind active and my hands working.  I've been doing this since 2001 while living in Pristina Kosovo and Izmir Turkey.

Notes To The Reader:

So, Reader . . . those things in mind . . . Read Away.

Sunday, 28 May 2023

This is flaky, but, yesterday, I closed down my site for a while, just to see if anybody cares.  I have no idea if anyone reads the thing or even cares.  It is OK if no one does; it's really for me.  I enjoy writing it and that is all that counts. I left the contact page up.

This morning I went to Jay's to walk Brasso.  Jay is away until later this morning and didn't want the poor boy to wait.  When I got there, I had to wake Brasso up.  He's not much of a watchdog but he's a sweetie.

The French Open starts today.  I may as well be single when it's on.  Kim is such a  tennis fan.

Friday,  25 May 2023: Changing the TV Box

Kady received a text from Xfinity saying we needed to change out our Cable Box.  We ordered the new one and it came in the mail.  It was tiny, about 4 inches by 4 inches and 1 inch thick.  We both thought we received the wrong thing, but we gave it a try.  It began the boot process but would never connect.  Looking at it, we could tell that it was used.

I took it back to the store.  They gave me a new one.

Back at the house, we hooked up the new one.  It went farther through the boot process but continued to freeze.

We called Xfinity.  I talked to a young Indian lady who tried her best but couldn't fix the issue.  While I was on hold, Kady said, "I wonder if we are supposed to replace the little box in the bedroom instead."  We ended the call by scheduling a technician for Saturday.

Once off the phone, we re-hooked the old box to the downstairs TV.   It booted right away.  Then we hooked the new box up to the bedroom TV.  It booted right up as well.

OK, Our Bad.  

I returned the old box to Xfinity today after picking up a Target order and a book from the Library.

This is my life now.

Note -

I had Kady order a copy of another Elizabeth Honness Book, The Mystery of the Auction Trunk.  It is nice to see those coming back into print.  I've mentioned her book, Mystery of the Wooden Indian, in other posts and stories on this site - The First Book I ever remember reading for enjoyment.  This one included the same main characters.  It was like spending two days with my old friends Barbara, Nancy, and Doug Holland.  Reading, I could see why, as a young boy, I was smitten with Barby.

I'll hand this off to Em when the next I see her.

Note 2 -

My MRI came back NORMAL.

Wednesday, 24 May 2023: Why am I getting another MRI?

One day, as technology moves forward, doctors will ask themselves about MRIs, "did we really do that to people?  I hope they rate it with stone knives, leeches, and electro-shock.

Yes. I decided that It would be wise to endure another test, just to make sure the critter was not growing back.  I have an appointment in July to review the scan.  Doctor Vance, Doctor Vann ( the new guy ), and Sergeant Major Neel are going to have a talk.

I took Heather to the Airport this morning.  I was sorry to see her go.  She is such a jewel.  She and Buck are two of my favorite people and I wish they lived closer.  We'll be headed out there next Fall if all goes well.

Last night, we went to Jay's to eat Turk food from Sultan Kabab.  I had the Izmir Köfte Sandwich, which was super yummy.  After supper, we settled in for a movie and thought Adult Swim Yule Log (The Fireplace) sounded worth watching.  Hell, it had 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.  This movie is, ABSOLUTELY, Planet 9 From Outer Space for the 21st Century.  A Cursed, Possessed, and Haunted Fireplace Time Portal, a mother-son mass murder team, aliens, a tiny fireplace man, and a flying attack log made this the dumbest movie, perhaps, of all time.   I had had enough in the first 10 minutes.  I did like the DD girl.

Do not waste your time or money.

Tonight, I watched Emily while Jay took a board meeting while KS is away on a work trip.

Monday, 22 May 2023: Off TWO the Races

Heather, Kady, and I drove back to Charlottesville yesterday, stopping on the way for lunch and a visit to Luckett's Store. 

Friday, I drove to BWI again, to pick up Kathy.  SS closed in from Tennessee that night as well.  Saturday LR, ST, J, KS, Jk, and Em all arrived for the Party.  I picked up balloons at Fun City in the midst of an allergic reaction to the puppy.  When I got back to the house, I took some Benadryl which kicked my ass.  I was worthless most of the day.  My photos show it.

I took a lot of photos of people, but very few turned out well.  I was supposed to take formal 2-year-old portraits of SGM but got no help from anyone.  I got some cute shots of her, but nothing to write home about.  I finally got some shots of JK, but I don't like them.  I took a lot of ST and Em.  They were willing to play my camera game.

The party went off without a hitch.  The "Off TWO the Races" theme was well received.  The girls wore big hats or fascinators (a new word for me) and the guys wore bow ties and straw hats.   I dressed more like I was in the Keys than at a Derby - Panama hat, Florak Shirt, Lenin Pants, and Flip-flops.  The Food was amazing.  The whole dining room table was a Charcuterie Board.  Instead of a cake, SGM had a big birthday cookie and mini cupcakes.

LR and ST brought bubble makers which were a huge hit.  Kady brought the fixings for Smores and I made a fire in the firepit.  The kids helped by collecting sticks.  We played Horse Shoes and Botchy Ball. and had a hobby horse race.

Even the weather played its part.  The sun came out just before the party began and the rain held off until after Smores.

Yesterday morning, I took Buck to link up with SS and Kathy, so that SS could drive them to BWI on his way home.  Heather, Kady, and I took the long scenic way home. Much better than the Interstate.

Thursday, 18 May 2023: Buck, Heather, Al, and Barb

A picked up his mom and dad yesterday and I drove to BWI last night to pick up Buck and Heather.  BWI is an easy 45-minute drive from here as long as traffic is flowing.  My timing was spot on.  I arrived at the Cell Phone Lot just after they landed, but they weren't outside for another 30 minutes.

SGM being Goofy

Wednesday, 17 May 2023: And Settlein' Down

I think I have it all figured out.  Scout and I go outside!  I move out on the back patio with my laptop, Tater (my speaker), and Scout.  Scout is happy, SGM is happy, and everyone else is happy.  I get to do My Things and listen to My Music.  No more up and down, in and out, Sesame Street music, puppy getting into trouble, SGM screaming, or granddaddy shaming.

Scout loves it out here and so do I.  The weather has been wonderful.  Their new backyard is gigantic, surrounded by fifty-foot trees, with a patio that is about the size of my living room.  They have a nice teak table and chairs and some patio furniture surrounding a firepit.  SGM has a water table and what I call her Flintstone Car; it's the perfect place for her to play outside.

I enjoy sitting out listening to the birds and the wind blowing through the trees.

They need a bird feeder.

A is headed to BWI to fetch his parents.  I go there tonight to pick up Buck and Heather.  The house is filling up fast.

I need to bring an extension cord next time; the battery on this old computer is only good for about an hour.  Maybe I should travel with my Chromebook as well.

E has asked me to take SGM's two-year-old photos tomorrow and I'm feeling the pressure.  I have to get them right.

Scouts Out!

Monday, 15 May 2023: Traveling

We took back roads to Aberdeen this time and it made all the difference.  Though it took an hour and a half longer, five hours total, we were able to enjoy the drive, unlike our last trip where we suffered DC and Baltimore traffic the whole way.  Most of the trip went smoothly, but there were a couple of times when we got behind a slow-moving truck.  We didn't care; we were having a great time.

When we arrived, SGM ran to the car to meet her "Kaykee."  They are an adorable pair.  Inside the house, Scout tried to eat me.  He's that excited to meet everyone.  My puppy duties began right away.

We have another day here before the birthday party crowd begins to arrive.  The house will be very full by Friday.  The Party is Saturday.

Already closing in on 30 pounds, Scout is a bit of a "handful" (Read: He's a Gigantic Puppy-brained Grimlin).

Sunday, 15 May 2023: Packing

I have a packing list on Google Keep.  It has on it everything that I might ever want to take on a trip.  I tailor it for each trip based on the location, duration, weather forecasts, and space allowed.  METT-T comes in handy.  My camera bag and computer bag always go on overnight trips.

I began that process today, taking my time, watching and folding all my clothes, sorting them into piles, pre-loading some things, and then packing two bags - an overnight bag and a clothing bag.  Once laid out, it takes seconds to pack the items in my bag and I know I haven't forgotten anything.  I check the list again on the morning of departure for last-minute items.

Kady is going to laugh at me carrying all this junk.

The last two things I need to do today are fill the car and vacuum downstairs.

Saturday, 13 May 2023: Prep for Movement

Thursday, I took the car to the wash and then cleaned up the inside.  Yesterday, I vacuumed and cleaned some spots in my war room carpet.  After a walk with Kady, I loaded my cot, sleeping bag, and air mattress into the car.  Next, I dry-mopped all of the hardwoods in the house.

This morning I had computer issues.  I discovered I had a popup malware on my Desktop - not a huge issue, but I wanted to get rid of it.  Defender and Avast couldn't see it.  I had to do an offline scan to find it, and even then, Defender couldn't remove it.  I sure as hell wasn't going to put Norton back on my machine - that would be worse.  I reloaded Windows.  What a chore!

It took a whole morning to delete all the ash and trash that Windows loaded on my machine - Office, Norton, Skype, Photoshop Express, and such.  Next, I had to load my favorite programs - Chrome, Open Office, Photoshop Elements, and the controller for my NAS.  Then, of course, I had to adjust everything so I could function on my network and operate the way I'm accustomed.

It wasn't hard, only time-consuming.  That was fine.  The weather has been stormy all day long.  My computer boots quicker, and, so far, no pop-ups.

All I have to do tomorrow is walk, wash clothes, vacuum the rugs downstairs, and pack.

Wednesday, 10 May 2023: Wednesday

I watched the first episode of Mrs. Davis on Peacock.  That is how bored I was on Wednesday.  Who thought that making a show about a superhero, magician horseback-riding Nun, fighting a world-controlling Artificial Intelligence, would be a good idea?  What nonsense.  Oh, wait!  Let's have her search for the Holy Grail!  Ridiculous!

This is, by far, the dumbest idea for a show, ever!  I can't wait to watch the next episode.

Tuesday, 9 May 2023: Rain Day

It has been another blah day around here.  I watched Emelia Clarke in Above Suspicion.  Pretty good.  I began editing/correcting my stories.  I should have done it way before now.  Grammarly is my friend.  I surely miss Sylvia's help.  She was the best editor a guy could ever have.

Good news from Maryland.  We won't be needed until Monday.  Better.  We get to spend the weekend here before we have to go.

Monday, 8 May 2023: ___________________________

Yeah, Boy.  There ain't a damn thing going on here today.

I watched Agora again.  It's a perfect example of the evils of religion.  Would that we were all Hypatias.

Saturday, 6 May 2023: Coronation Day

I got up this morning at 0400 to watch the coverage of Charles III's coronation.  It was quite a show.  Far too much religion during the whole thing for me.  Having a secular monarch is illogical.  You can only have kings when they are sent by some god.

Meanwhile, the Colonial/Para in me is watching every minute of this BS.  I'm wondering, though,  how many times did the Americans in the crowd say God Save The King?  Loved the gifts - a robe, a ring, one glove, two sticks, a ball, and a really nice hat. 

I had the best time watching the unruly horse in the Horse Guards' formation that was following behind the Carriage.  That horse wasn't having any of that "Formation" shit.  Props to the guardsman trying to control him for staying in the saddle.

The Star of the show, to me, was Penny Mordaunt, Conservative MP, Leader of the House of Commons, and Lord President of the King's Privy Council, who held the Sword of Offering or Sword of State, at attention, throughout the entire ceremony, with the discipline of a Scots Guardsman.  And, she looked amazing doing it.

Once we saw that Andrew wasn't on the balcony, Kady went back to sleep and I walked.  I did five miles, the longest walk I've done since Fall, I think.

At 1600, Kady, Jay, and KS left for the Janet Jackson concert.  I got to spend time with Em.  She and I listened to some music and then we went to the neighborhood park.  While she played, I took photos.  when I showed her what we had taken so far, she began playing with the camera.  Holy cow, she's a natural.  She'd strike posed and I'd tell her to smile or not smile.  Pretty soon, she was choosing the place, the pose, and the mood.  These photos are spectacular.

Once we were back at the house, I uploaded them onto the computer so that she could see them.  They were even better than I expected so we sent a couple to her mom and dad.

We watched Harry Potter 5.

The Kids and Kady ran into a bad traffic jam and didn't get to the concert until about an hour after it began.  I'm guessing they missed Ludicrous.   What a shame.  Hahahahaha.

Friday, 5 May 2023: Dryer Repair

W had a guy come look at our dryer today.  Yep, our less than 6-year-old dryer started squealing when it had any kind of load in it.  It's a Samsung.  My mom's Kenmore lasted for as long as I can remember.  Hell, it is probably still running, somewhere.

Anyhow, It was the take-up pully for the belt, which is what I thought it probably was, an easy fix, but easier if you let someone else do it.  It took him two tries putting it back together to get it just right and all of about 45 minutes.  I hope this does it.

Kady and I went walkies after he left.  It was Hot Out!  Afterward, we sat out back to soak up a little more sun.

I'm digging the new show, The Last Thing He Said to Me on AppleTV.  This is a great story.  Kady and I just caught up on Ghosts, before the Finale next week and I just finished The Diplomat, Season 1.  It was Great.  I'm getting pretty apprehensive about Yellowstone.  I try not to read anything about it, but sometimes the headlines grab you.  Friggin Spoilers!

Wednesday, 3 May 2023: "Gee, but it's great to be back home. Home is where I wanna be." ~ P Simon

We drove in from Maryland this morning and we still haven't figured out the Toll Roads.  You'd think we could just go  I-66, to I-495, to I-95 at no charge, but somehow, Maryland has it rigged where you have to pay to go through the tunnel in Baltimore.  We have an Easy Pass, so that's not the issue.  We spent $10 on the way there and the "express lanes" didn't seem any faster.  They were less crowded.  Maybe that's what you pay for.  We spent only $7 on the way back.  It's all a confusing,  jumbled-up mess up there in that goddamnyankee (properly spelled as one word) Country.  Who would want to live like that?

I just told Kady that we should drive to Frederick and then East, bypassing both DC and Baltimore.  That adds an hour to our trip, but it's probably way safer and more enjoyable.

Ted Lasso!

Tuesday, 2 May 2023: The Food Around Here

First off, I made a mistake, thinking we were staying till Wednesday.  Kady was thinking we'd leave today.  I mentioned to A that we'd probably leave Wednesday morning and he mentioned it to E, so now we're staying till tomorrow.  Silly Me.

These folks never eat breakfast, so they never have anything I can scrounge.  I usually have Kady put in a Walmart order as soon as we arrive, but this time, we are only here for four days, so it didn't seem that crucial.

(As I write this, it's almost noon and I'm frigging Starving!)

We've tried some of the many mom-and-pop food joints around here.  I had a great Cubano from Vagabond Sandwich Company and a good Gyro and slice of Spinach Pie from My Three Sons Pizza Restaurant.  Their pie with Tzatziki sauce was spot-on.  I've been yelping around the area and I see a lot of places that I want to try.  I had the first Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut that I have had in years, Sunday night.  It was better than I remembered.  Ths Cob Salad from Chick-fil-a keeps me alive while I'm visiting.  I had one of those yesterday.

Today has been better for me.   Scout's stomach seems to have calmed down, so he's resting more and going out less.  E & A have been busy hanging things on the walls and putting things where they'll go.  Kady didn't make an appearance until 1030 or so.  That left me with a lot more time to play with SGM.  She and I played with her building blocks this morning, though I did most of the building.  She was more into destroying anything that I built.

Granddaddy's Temple of Aries

No Help Received


Kinda Looks like a Gremlin, Huh?

Monday, 1 May 2023: This is an Army Post?

E made her Biscuits and Sausage Gravy this morning.  Mighty Tasty.

A and I drove to Aberdeen Proving Grounds this afternoon to trash some packing paper.  This post isn't much.  It's tiny.  He pointed out E's new HQ building; it was cool and looked new.  There were only a few cars in the lot for Monday.   A says they mostly telework these days.  I think that was one of the main reasons she wanted this job.

The old swimming pool was smaller than the one at my townhouse complex, though they have a larger one somewhere on the post.  A took me by the PX, Commissary, and Burger King, which ended my tour.  I hope they both love it here.  I doubt it will be exciting or challenging. 

Taking Scout outside took up most of my day.  The poor little guy had shots just before we came, so his stomach was upset.  He's already great at letting us know when he wants to go out.  I was elected.  I didn't mind; he's a great little guy but getting bigger by the day.

Sunday, 30 April 2023: SGM in B&W

We're in Maryland at E&A's new house.  I've been bagging the packing paper and breaking down boxes most of the day.

SGM has, for a change, been all about me this trip.  We had breakfast together this morning, read books, and did a little photo shoot with her in my granddad's chair.

I've decided to Photograph her in monochrome all weekend.

My grandad Lee, called Bawpaw by his grandchildren, had two caned rockers in his house for as long as I can remember.  He and Grandmama had them in the 1920s, making this chair about 100 years old.  Bawpaw made new rockers for this one when the originals wore out. 

When my grandmother died, Mom asked me if there was anything I wanted.  I asked for one of the Bawbaw's Big Ole Rocking Chairs, though it was in bad shape.  Kady and I had it refurbished and re-caned a while back, and I gave it to E for rocking SGM.

My feet would come off the ground when I rocked as a kid, so I was shocked when I got my chair, convinced it wasn't the Big Ole Chair I remembered.

Thursday, 27 April 2023: Back to Ivy Creek

After breakfast, I drove to Ivy Creek Natural Area, walking the purple trail to the reservoir, hoping to see the Blue Heron who is often there.   There were a LOT of people there, so I was not surprised when I didn't find my bird.

I rearranged the War Room a bit today.  The new plan gives me a lot more room and I don't feel so boxed-in at my desk. I figured out how to put my radio on the old Philco tombstone radio shell.  By positioning the radio just so, I can operate it with the remote control through the replacement speaker screen.  Now all I need is a replacement tuning knob.  

Sarah McLaughlin just finished singing on a 1930s Radio.

Ted Lasso was amazing last night.  It is the best show in a long while.

Tuesday, 25 April 2023: Busy

A while back, SS butchered one of his steers, giving us half the meat.  We bought a small freezer to accommodate it all, and put it out in the shed during the winter.  Today, we moved it inside.  To do that, we had to clear out a space in the utility closet, unload the meat, move the freezer, return the meat, and then find places for the displaced utility closet items.  Kady did most of the work last night and we finished up today.  Afterwards, I made a run to Goodwill, put some things in the car to go to E&A's new house, and then rearranged the shed.  Now, I have an easy place to store my bicycle.

I watched The House of Dragons on HBO again.  It was better the second time around.  I'm also reading Fire and Blood, the companion book.  I'll be glad when the next season comes around.

Sunday, 23 April 2023: Sleep

I slept great last night.  I woke about 0700, made Freedom Toast for breakfast (I make solid French Toast, nutmeg is the key), and then read the news.  I answered a Sally email.

About 0930, I laid down on my bed to read and fell asleep.  I didn't wake till 1330.  I ate a small lunch, took a quick walk, and sat out back in the sun with Kady.  Then I watched Bluebloods and another Episode of House of the Dragon

Amazingly, I have been pretty productive, starting a new page on my site - a place for my responses to the prompts from the book 642 Tiny Little Things to Write About.  Like kids should do when using the book, I think I'll keep it private and treat it like a diary.  I don't think I'm going to publish it.

Note: I forgot to mention that I won my small battle with my doctor.  They gave up on asking me to get another MRI and renewed my prescription.  That's a Win!

Saturday, 22 April 2023: Em's Promotion

The family went to see Em get her second stripe on her Jiu Jitsu white belt.  

We got to watch her warm up and then roll with a boy much bigger than her.  He took her down and she reversed on him and had him on his back.  It was cool.

She was third up for promotion and that was fun to watch.  The instructors shook the hand of every kid .  The respect present in that room was palpable and should be exported.

Get your kid into Jiu Jitsu!

Friday, 21 April 2023: Duck Hunting

I'm still looking for the family of Mallards that I saw a week go down at Hollymead Lake.  I took the Church Trail down to the marshy area, and look around there a while, and then circled the lake.  Nothing.  I don't know where mom is hiding her ducklings, but it's a great place.  I'll keep looking.

I ate leftover chicken enchiladas for lunch and a Jose Wing for desert.  Perfect.

I worked on my photo page a bit, watch Mando's Finale, and then enjoyed an Ashton cigar, a shot of Tequila, and a Blue Moon as the Sun went down.

It was a good day.

Thursday, 20 April 2023: Le Voyage Solitaire-Day3: Headed Home

I stuck to my plan heading home, though all I wanted to to is get there.  I drove north on Atlantic Avenue to the Neptune Statue to commune with my only god, Poseidon, before going for Breakfast.

I hit Cracker Carrel, even though being there without Kady felt weird; we usually eat breakfast there when we're traveling.  Old Timer's Breakfast?  Yes, please.

From there, I drove the back roads to Surry to take the Scotland-Jamestown Ferry across the James River.  E and I did this a few years ago while she and I were sightseeing around the Tidewater area.  This time I was on the Ferry Surry and passed the Ferry Pocahontas, the ferry she and I were in, mid-channel.

I saw more birds on the ferry and at their landings than I saw the whole trip.

I planned to see Jamestown again, but opted to bypass it and go straight to Green Lawn Memorial Cemetery to see where my G-G-G-Grandfather Lee is buried in a mass grave.  He died in a Federal POW camp in 1865.  No Respect!!  And you Yankees wonder why we hate you.

Before headed home, I went to Brickhouse Tavern for a bunch of Jose Wings, our favorite.  We fell in love with them when E was living in Newport news.  They are, by far, the best wings around.

I took the Interstate on the trip home.  It was good to be back.

I think this trip has slaked my hunger for Sun, Sand, and Surf . . . for a while.

Passing the Pocahontas

Greenlawn Confederate

Andrew Lee, 41st Alabama Infantry

Wednesday, 19 April 2023: Le Voyage Solitaire-Day2: Back Bay

I got up this morning and walked to the beach with my Camera, sat down, and waited for the sun to rise.  I was surprised how many people did the same thing.  Perhaps I shouldn't have been.  That's why you got to the beach, right?  It was pretty cool and the off-shore breeze was blowing pretty hard, so I wore my Old Navy windproof.  It was enough.

Sunrise was incredible.

I ate a quick breakfast, packed the car, and headed for Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the reason for the trip.

Before I left, I reported my air conditioner to the office, they said they'd have someone look at it.  I didn't get a warm and fuzzy feeling.

The trip to Back Bay was easy.  It took only fifteen minutes and I was there before 0800 so I got in free.  I was the second person there.

This place is one of the most beautiful and quiet places I have ever visited.  There were birds everywhere.  The first path I took was named for Charles Kuralt, who did an episode of On The Road about Back Bay.  At the end of the boardwalk path was a viewing platform.  It looked out over the freshwater bay, lined with lush vegetation and sea grass.  Birds were everywhere.  Out in the bay off a point, a few Cormorants were fishing.  I sat there for a long while, taking it all in.

I walked a number of these paths, all well maintained and met only a few people while there.  I saw Ducks, a Snowy Egret, Pelicans, an Osprey, Gulls, Sandpipers, a Blue Heron, and a Tortoise large enough for my granddaughter to ride.

While I was thinking about Lunch and downloading my photos from my Camera to my phone, two buses of grammar school kids arrived.  When the noise level picked up, I decided to go looking for lunch.

The people that I met at Back Bay deserve a mention here.  Most of the early people were about my age and most were bird-watchers.  All were extremally nice and talkative.  To the person, they asked me where I was from and told me about their hometowns.  Though they asked me what birds I had seen, not one asked to see my photos.  One old guy riding an e-bike flew by me.  This thing was nice with fat tires and luggage racks, front and rear.  I need one of those.

When I got back to my room, the high-speed fix-it guy had turned the thermostat down to 61 and moved the arm chair from in front of the unit. Genius!

 My room was no cooler.

Tuesday, 18 April 2023: Le Voyage Solitaire-Day 1: Virginia Beach

I left this morning a little before 0800, headed for Virginia Beach, but not before kissing the girl and dropping off her morning energy drink and icy face-roller..  I stopped for gas and then dropped off a box of stuff at Goodwill.

I set Google Maps on Avoid Highways, Toll Roads, and Ferries, so my route was all backroads.  I thought I'd see lots of things to photograph, but I was more interested in driving and listening to my music,  I only stopped twice, once at a Yankee fort a mile from Petersburg and an old Tavern.

I made sure the trip took me on Highway 460 so I could stop for lunch at The Virginia Diner.  Smart Move.  I got their Chicken Salad Sandwich which was the best chicken salad sandwich I have ever tasted.  They serve it on a croissant with lettuce, tomato, thin slices of salty ham, and the chicken salad, which, I think, had little bits of gherkins in it.  Whatever, it was a delight.  I also got their onion rings.  Now, I love me some onion rings, and I've had good and bad.  These were . . . perfect!  They served me large slices, battered in what I think may have been angel dust, and deep fried to perfection.  They even read my mind and served them with catsup.  Winner!

This evening, I took my bike out for a ride.  It was fun but a lot of hard work.  First, there were adjustments that I had to make.  I should have done that before I left.  That didn't take long. The ride north seemed like a breeze, but on the way back, I realized that I had a tailwind going north.  It was in my face. all the way back.

I doubt I'll use it much tomorrow, but realize that I need to ride it more when I'm home.  Great Workout.

I'm at the farthest south part of the beach, which is pretty deserted,  There is a lot of work going on building a steel "path" that is supposed to help the sea wall guard against erosion.  It's ugly and the construction machinery and noise aren't what I pictured when I planned the trip.  I didn't spend much time there at all.  That's my plan for tomorrow.

My hotel is the pits.  I told Kady to get me the cheapest one around the end of the strip.  It's cheap for a REASON.  My room, though worn, isn't bad, but the shower sucks, the fridge buzzes on and off all night, and the air-conditioner is useless.   The whole room smelled musty.   I slid the balcony door open to air it out and it is off the tracks and makes a loud creaking noise.  The glass door is so dirty that I can barely see out of it, but it does face the pool.  The TV is tiny and there are no premium channels.  The Wifi sucks.  I'm making do using my phone as a hot spot.

Oh Well, the bed and pillows are nice., and all I really need is a place to sleep.

Monday, 17 April 2023: Voyage Preparation

I depart at 0800 tomorrow on Le Voyage Solitaire and I'm already packed.  I'm taking my laptop so that I can post regularly.  I'll also be posting on my Insta Account and on FB via my Pixel6.

OF COURSE, I built a spreadsheet.  I love spreadsheets.

Le Voyage Solitaire

Sunday, 16 April 2023: A Walk in the Woods

Yesterday, on my walk, I ran up on a female Mallard with about eight ducklings.  Mighty Cute.

I took Kady back there today and couldn't find them.  I put the 55 - 200mm lens on the camera.  I think it is the best lens for widlife hunting.  Once I find them, I can throw on the big lens.

I began packing for Le Voyage Solitaire, commencing Tuesday.  I'm headed to Back Bay.

Friday, 14 April 2023: Lex and Back

I just walked 4.5 miles and it felt great.  I'm icing as I type this as a precautionary measure.  Age, you know.  I'm also pounding the H2o; it was hot out there.  Kady is downstairs cooking something yummy.  After lunch, I'm going out back for a short tanning session, preparing for my three days at the beach next week.

Yesterday, I met Ken Fortier in Lexington for lunch.  I took the back way to take some photos of a few things on the way.  We met at Niko's grill, a little Greek place on Main Street.  I like their Gyro and fries a LOT!

One of the places I photographed was Ben Salem Wayside between Lexington and Buena Vista.  I photographed Dwyn there one afternoon a long while ago.  Being there again, remined me of how much fun it was to have a beautiful and daring model who was always ready to do photo shoots.  I don't have that any more.  Hell, DJ used to drive down from Pennsylvania when I had  a certain photo I wanted to take or when she wanted photos in a certain outfit.

When I got back to Charlottesville, I noticed one of the photos was taken at exactly the same angle as one of the photos I took of Dwyn.  I decided to superimpose and blend them, creating a ghostly.  I sent it to Dwyn this morning.  She loved it.

While in town, I visited Stonewall's grave.  It has been a while.  America is trying to cancel him.  Everything used to ve named after him in Lexington.  The Hospital, The Cemetery, The chapel at VMI, and the main arch into VMI Barracks.  He now resides in "Oak Grove Cemetery."  Fuck Off!

I immediately posted a copy of that photo on my Facebook.  It's a challenge!

The Haunting

Rally Behind the Virginian

Wednesday, Jay, KS, Em, and Ann come for dinner.  Kady made he Chicken Enchiladas, a family favorite.  While at the table, Emily said she had a poem about a boa constrictor.  It was cute, but she never finished it.  It got my crazy brain working.  A poem for Emily about a Boa hit me and I started writing it on my phone.  Here's the final product.

There once was a Boa from Samoa

Who went on the Ark with Old Noah

He met a girl snake 

They had a great date

And that’s why we now have mo’ Boa

Tuesday, 11 April 2023, Preddy Creek Trail Park

After Walmart delivered our groceries, Kady and I went hiking at Preddy Creek.  I kept us up as high, knowing how brutal the hills can be coming back from the creek, but our route was still pretty hilly.  Kady took it all in stride; she's younger and getting fit.

It's still not very green out there.

After my shower, I moved outside with my laptop and speaker, put on some decent music, and then began updating my website.  I'm still in the process of re-doing all of the photos and removing the watermarks.   If someone wants to use them, what do I care?

Kady brought me a pizza and Grapico while I was out there.  She made her Pruccuitto and Caramelized Onion Pizza.  Grapico?  Today must be a special day.  We bought two cases while we were in Alabama and we've been rationing them.  Maybe this is my April Ration.

Saturday, 8 April 2023

Kady and I took a two-mile walk together today.  It was cold and overcast, looking like rain.  That's about all we have done today.

We watched Knock at the Cabin last night.  It was a waste of our time.  This is the guy who made Signs, The Village, and The 6th Sense?  Has he forgotten how to make movies?  Fool me once (Old), shame on you.  Fool me twice (Knock), shame on me.  I won't watch another.  He joins Jordan Peele on my No Watch List.

There was one good lesson in the movie that I appreciated - If you have a firearm, DON"T leave it unloaded in a lockbox out in the car.  Keep it within reach, rounds in the magazines.  Know how to use it and be willing to use it.

In Better Watching News - I watched my first episode of NCIS yesterday.  Yeah, I know, I'm a little late (20 years) to the party, but it was fun.

Thursday, 6 April 2022: SS

I had a great walk this morning after a good night's sleep.  I chalk both successes up to being smart.  I ate lightly yesterday, weighed in at 240 this morning, and walked two miles, which I have all week.  Consistency is the key.  I'm so glad it's warming up.

I'll go for three miles every day next week, beginning Sunday Morning.

SS came in this afternoon and we all went to Bone Fish for lunch.  I had a third of the Bang Bang Shrimp starter, the In-Bone Porkchop, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Coleslaw.  I'm done for the day

We were supposed to get Thunderstorms today, but haven't had any.  I was looking forward to a good storm.

Meanwhile, I haven't heard from the doctor.  Haha.  Probably won't.

Wednesday, 5 April 2023: Being Contrary

I had a call from my doctor's office this morning.  We sent them a request to change our vendor for my meds to one that delivers and is considerably cheaper.  The nurse on the other end of the call told me that they could do a one-time prescription, but to continue the meds, I would have to come in for an MRI and a Doctor's Appointment.

The last time I was there, I was told I didn't need another MRI, which I hate, so this was a surprise to me.  The reason for the medication has nothing to do with the reason that I originally needed the MRI.  I tried to explain this to the nurse, but she was NOT listening.  It was simple - I didn't want another MRI which would be used to see if the critter was re-growing on my brain.  It Hasn't.  The Meds, a separate issue, were to treat Diabetes Incepidus which they created when they skewed my Pituitary Gland during the operation, a condition they told me that I would have for the rest of my life.

She persisted; I unloaded on her.  I don't think we're friends.

I've been seething about this all day.  MRIs stress me out like nothing else.  They are horrible.  They are expensive.  When they told me last time that I wouldn't need another one, they also said, we'd "Like to do one more for research purposes."  I told them that would be fine if THEY paid for it, and that's the last time I heard from them.  They have been renewing my prescription, yearly, ever since.  That MRI was on 29 August 2018.

I told the Nurse to go back to Doctors Vance and Jane and let them know that I would happily have blood tests and come in for a consultation, but that I wasn't having an MRI.

End of Story.

It was gorgeous out today, I walked a couple of miles and then set up out back with my camera and lens to take photos of birds.  All I saw were crows and my Mockingbird, who is back, nesting in the same bush.

Monday, 3 April 2023

I took a walk in shorts today.  I think that Spring has arrived, finally.  I had a little pain in my left hip, so I took three breaks on a three-mile walk.  I didn't want to injure anything, so I sat and stretched for a while at each stop.  I plan on walking two miles daily for the rest of the week to rebuild my strength and endurance.  I'll also wear my new shoes, which I didn't consider today.

We had Chinese food for dinner at Jay-&-KS's house last night.  We have a standard order that we get from Taste of China.  Everyone orders their favorite dish.  We add fried rice,  white rice, crabmeat Rangoons, and three eggrolls.  Chinese is our favorite communal meal.

It's supposed to go into the 80s tomorrow.

Sunday, 2 April 2023: John Wick 4

Kady and Imet KS, JA, and Em for lunch at Match Box Pizza, a favorite place to eat since it opened.  We were some of their first customers.  Instead of my usual Porky Fig, I had their Matchbox Meat pizza.  Wonderful!

The girls shopped at Trader Joe's while Jay and I saw John Wick 4.  I loved it.  I complain about how our movies have gotten too violent, yet I must see every John Wick Movie.  I'm a study in contradiction.

I have GOT to get some of those exploding flamethrower rounds!

Shauna, Cassandra, KS, and E at Jefferson Vineyards

Saturday, 1 April 2023: Wine Tour

I linked up with my daughter and friends, downtown, at 1100.  Kady drove me there so I wouldn't have to leave the car.  Parking in Charlottesville sucks.

I played My Chauffeur, taking them to three different wineries.  When asked if I'd drive, I told E that I would pay her to drive four pretty women around Charlottesville.

The first stop was Mount Ida Farm and Vineyard.  It was, by far, the most impressive.  The building was nice, the food was delicious, and the view was gorgeous.  I didn't drink, so I can't judge the wines.

Next, we went to Blenheim Vineyards, owned by Dave Matthews.  I let the girls have fun while I sat in the car and listened to podcasts.

Lastly, we hit Jefferson Vineyards, which, I think was the girls' favorite.  They certainly spent more money there.  We sat outside for a while but moved inside the tasting room when the wind picked up.  They were four pretty happy girls when we left there.

I had a blast driving them around.  It was a good day.

Mount Ida Farm & Vineyard

Friday, 31 March 2023: Excellent Duty

Thursday, Kady and I went for a walk around the lake.  There must be thirty turtles at the end of the lake, down by the new construction.  When we got home, I went Morel hunting.  No Luck.  I will try again.

Yesterday, I went to BV for a filling replacement.  That Sucked.  I was so tense that my blood pressure was over 150/80.  By the afternoon, my whole body was sore from tensing up.

When I got home, Kady and I went to Martin's Grill.  I got their Tom's Ruben with turkey, coleslaw, swiss, and thousand island dressing on toasted sourdough.  My Favorite!  Then we went flower shopping.  I bought two pots to plant my apple and lemon seeds.  I planted three each, intending to keep the second one to come up.  The middle seedling should be the strongest, most intelligent, and best-looking.  I also bought a small stand of Lucky Bamboo for the War Room.  They're called The Bobos.  Kady bought front porch flowers.  She has it looking lovely out there.

E drove down from Frederick this morning and was still at the house when I returned from Battlefield Toyota, getting the Venza serviced and inspected.  E, KS, and two of E's friends are in town for races.  After, I get to drive them from Winery to Winer.  I'm sure I'll have a great time watching them have fun.

I finished Shrinking today.  Really Good.

Tuesday, 28 March 2023: Watching, Exercising, Organizing, Planning . . .

I finished The Last of Us this morning. It was good. I was to watch it with KS, but she hasn't caught up yet. She sent me a text telling me not to wait. I've been organizing my Photo Files, storing some in a separate folder, condensing a few, and then backing up over four drives. It's overkill; my NAS has two mirrored drives. They will probably outlive me.

I began my eating, stretching, exercising, and walking routine yesterday. I slept better last night than I have in a long while. I feel great this morning.

I bought the little book 642 Tink Little Things To Write About. It sounded like something I would enjoy, and I wanted to see what the buzz was about. There are some questionable things here for young people, but not if they treat the book like a diary. Some of the writing ideas would be highly inappropriate if assigned by a teacher for a turn-in assignment. For me, it looks fun. I'll start in April. I may include some here.

Kady is making her Deep-dish Kady-style Pepperoni Skillet Pizza today. Envy Me.


Kady: I've misplaced my Fob.

Me: You've Lost your Fob?

Kady: No, I just haven't looked where it is.

Me (opening the coat closet): Did you check your Jacket Pockets?

Kady: Of Course.

Me: It won't hurt to check.

Kady: Dude, I said I checked those pockets!

Me (handing her the fob from the pocket of her yellow jacket): What's This?


Sunday, 26 March 2023: Sitting for More Than Five Minutes

We're home and very glad to be.  Watching a puppy is a lot of work.  It is the first day that I've had to myself in over a week.  I was able to get things done with no interruptions for puppy pee breaks.  Scout is a great little guy, but way too much work for me to ever think about getting one.

On our trip home, we brought a chair, my high chair, and bags of quilts.  These are things that E took from us, but no longer wants.  She did give me the one thing I wanted - Cooper's leash, the one I used to walk him.  It's now part of his shrine in my War Room.

Bringing it all back was a major packing event and I packed the Venza to the gills.  I couldn't see out of the back at all.

With luck, we shouldn't have to go back to Frederick, and our next trip will be to their next duty station.

Saturday, 25 March 2023: No Ones

We had to be out of the house early this morning for a showing.  Realtors!  Don't they sleep in on Saturdays?  We went driving around Frederick in the pouring rain, seeing the sights.  I asked to go by the Hessian Barracks.  It was cool.  This is one of the places we housed British and Hessian POWs during the War of Independence.  I doubt I'll be back here again anytime soon to photograph it.  Too Bad.

Watching Alabama get beaten last night was fun!  Waking up this morning to see that Houston was out was welcome news.  That leaves no first seeds in the Elite Eight for the first time EVER.  The path is open for Kansas State ( my team since AU was beaten) to make it to the Final Four.  Maybe they can make it even further.  My guess is - Gonzaga will take the Tournament.

We're going home tomorrow morning.  I'll be able to exercise, read, play on my computer, and shower when I want, with no responsibilities and no interruptions.

I finished Daisy Jones and the Six last night.  It finished strong.  It was a great story.  There is a lot of chatter online about a second season.  I'm hoping they don't.  Let us imagine what happens.  Please don't tell us.  I would have stopped the show with Billy knocking on the door.  The What-Ifs would have been so much more powerful.

Let it be like Lost in Translation where we were left wondering what Bob whispered to Charlotte.  Of course, we do know if we watch the first scenes closely.  Sophia Coppola is so clever.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023: Full Puppy

I was responsible for the puppy all day today.  I enjoyed it, but seriously . . . what will they do is they both have to be at work when Kim and I are not here.  When they are all home and the puppy wants to play with SGM, which means he jumps at her and nibbles her I get, "Why aren't you doing something?"  When he has a small limp which I dutifully report, I'm asked, "What did you do to him?"

Kady says, "That's just how it works."  True.

Tomorrow, More of the same - Beasting by Puppy!

Ted Lasso was great.

Tuesday, 21 March 2023: Easy Walk Harness

Today was a beautiful day, a little cool, but bright and clear.  Scout's Easy Walk Harness came in and I adjusted it, and took him out wearing it.  He's like a different dog.  Where he fought the collar, he fell right into line with the harness.  I took him for a couple of short walks but A was able to get him to the park and back.  That's a long way for such a little guy.

Today I got an invite from Google using if I would like to test "Bard" their new search engine with generative AI.  I signed up, though I'm not sure how I'll use it.  Perhaps Bard can help me get started on one or both of my stories- Return to Wahouma and His Last Spring.

Monday, 20 March 2023: ugh

There is not a thought in my poor brain, having been driven out by repetitious kids' songs and episodes of Elmo.  I try to drown them out by listening to my tunes, but the kiddy stuff keeps drifting in.  NOW on the tube is some kind of dancing talent show.  No Thanks.  

Kady and I went out for Breakfast to Mountain Gate Family Restaurant.  Though the food was good, the clientele was a little suspect.  I doubt I'll go back because of that.  Tonight we ate at Madrones and I got the Shrimp and Grits.  Really Good!

Scout has been a really good boy all day long.

Friday, 17 March 2023:  This Puppy

I don't remember going through this with Cooper, probably because E did it all, but this puppy needs to go out to pee every few minutes.  Scout is a good boy and lets us know when he needs to go, but he has the smallest bladder on the planet.  I'm serious when I say that I took him out about thirty times.

Today I tried getting him to walk by coaxing him with treats - Walk a bit, get a treat.  Then, whenever he'd stop, I made him sit for the treat.  After a couple of times doing this, we'd walk a few steps, sit on his own, and expect a treat.  This boy is smart.

I finished Carnival Row last night.  I'm going to really miss this show.

Thursday, 16 March 2023: Banner Show Day

All the shows came on yesterday.  Ted Lasso is BACK!  Another episode of The Mandalorian dropped and I watched the sixth episode of Daisey Jones.  I'm all caught up.  In between shows, I washed and re-packed everything for the trip to Frederick.  

This morning, I took coffee and biscuits to Jay-and-KS's house and had breakfast with them and Ann.  Always Fun!    While I had them all together, I broached the idea of taking their photos.  I began with Jay, who asked why.  Hahaha.  So like him.  I told him because I was a photographer and he was so handsome.  That worked.  Ann actually asked if she could get in on the deal.  I thought she would be the toughest.  I'm super excited about taking her photo again.  She's so beautiful.  Kell and I had already talked, but she said she wanted more "headshots."  Fine, but I have bigger things in mind.

I sent Bee a text about having another lunch when I get back.

After breakfast, I took the car through the wash and got Kady breakfast.  We left a few minutes later.  Scout is a hoot, and the most beautiful puppy I have ever seen.  I had him mostly to myself all afternoon.  My first impression is that he needs a harness, not a collar.  I may go buy him one myself.

E and SGM got home around 1700 and A got here a little after that.  I was finally able to sit down and enjoy watching Auburn beat Iowa.  It was a fantastic game.  I hope they can play at this level fore the rest of the tournament.

Tuesday, 14 March 2023: Unpacking for a Day

Yesterday, we took SS to the hospital for a small procedure.  He did really well.   I fed the cows for him.  I like doing that anyway.  This morning, we left him to his own devices until his daughter gets there.

Kady and I left Rogersville sometime this morning to head home.  I never looked at my clock.  I haven't looked at it all day, just doing what I needed to get done.  We're home for only a day, leaving for Frederick, Thursday, after I have Coffee with Jay, KS, and Ann.

Curious, I began watching Daisy Jones and The Six and I am already hooked.  This is a great show.

Sunday, 12 March 2023:  Heavy Traffic

Kady and I got back on the road this morning, headed to Rogersville.  We got here a little after 1500, no thanks to the traffic.  It was bumper to bumper all the way from Chattanooga to Knoxville.  Going back up north after the weekend traffic,  I guess.   It was painful.

We'll be here until Tuesday, taking SS to the doctor tomorrow and then staying the night until he's fully recovered.  I'm looking forward to getting back home, though it will be short-lived; we are going back to Frederick on Friday.

Pretty soon, I'll have new things to photograph.  E, A, SGM, and Boodle (for so I have named him) are moving east to an area that shows much photographic promise.  I see beaches in my near future.  This Summer should be great.

Saturday, 11 March 2023: Last Lake Day

I went back to the swamp today; there was the Egret.  Not wanting to spook him, I stayed in the car and shot from the window.  Success.  Beautiful Bird!

I invited Mitch to come out to the lake today, but haven't heard from him.  It's just like him to show up.  Cliff drove in around 1000 to get Kathy and they were gone by 1100.   Sally is arriving at about 1500. 

Tomorrow, we're headed back to Rogersville to help SS get to and from an outpatient surgery appointment.  We'll lose an hour going home and an hour for Daylight Savings.  We should be in tatters by Monday.

Friday, 10 March 2023: Jim-n-Nick's

Kady and I met Kathy and Cliff at Jim-n-Nick's BBQ for lunch.  Ah.  Now that's more like it.  Great BBQ.  On our way home, Kady spotted a heron near a swampy area.  When I went back, it flew off as soon as I got there.  Kathy is staying here tonight.  Cliff, Sally, and Mitch are coming in tomorrow.

If Mitch arrives early enough, I'm going to suggest the NASCAR Museum at Talladega.  It's right down the road.

On our way back from lunch, Katie spotted a Great Egret in a swampy area just down the road.  I went back to take photos of it, but, just as I was setting up the camera, it flew off.  I'll try again tomorrow.

I watched the new Luther movie on Netflix tonight.  Love the Luther character.   I was a little disappointed Alice didn't show up (love me some Ruth Wilson), but the movie was good.  I'm happy they left it open for more episodes and/or further movies.

Thursday, 9 March 2023: The Lake House

Kady and I were back on the road by 0900, arriving in the early Wednesday afternoon.  We both agreed that we had never seen so many trucks on I-81 and I-40 but the traffic moved fairly well, with only one small slowdown.

I-59 in Alabama is still a mess.  They have been working on it for over 20 years and it is still bumpy as hell.  The first few miles inside the state are the worst.  What a welcome.  It was so bad that I feel the need to write the Highway Department to say, "You Suck!"

We're here to stay at Aunt Barbara and Uncle Luke's Lake House, a place we visited as a family during our early married life,  Luke and Barbara were like second parents to Kady and they welcomed me with open arms.   When Luke died, Barbara sold the place to a family friend who runs it as an Airbnb.  E and A plan on buying it when he is ready to sell.  Kim is here to scope it out and to make plans for that.

When I decided to come along on the trip, I checked the restaurants in the area and was excited to find that Pell City has Milo's, my favorite burger.  Last night I picked up two, an order of fries, and a tea, then we drove to Crystal for Kady.  My burgers were terrible.  What a disappointment!  I felt compelled to write a review on Google.

My Review

I have been a fan of Milo's burgers since they handed them out of a small window in a cinderblock building on the North side of Birmingham.  I have always claimed that they were the "Best Burger Ever," to all of my friends around the country.  

HOWEVER, what I got from this location last night was not a Milo Burger.  Oh, the bun looked the same, onions are onions and pickles are pickles, but the sauce tasted different and the meat . . . what was THAT?  Some kind of mystery meat.  And, undercooked.  It didn't even smell like a Milo Burger.  

I rarely get home to Alabama these days but, when I do, I always have Milo's, usually at the Roebuck location.  I'll try that next trip but I'm not coming back here.  One Star, because the Tea was good. 

We met Sally for Lunch at Schlotzsky's on 280 today  This has always been one of my favorite restaurant chains, but all of the Virginia locations have closed.  Of all the really great restaurants in Birmingham, I chose this when asked.  It was delicious!  Thanks to Kady and Sally for indulging my lack of originality.

Back at the lake house, we settled in for a nice, quiet evening, with a calming, heavy rain, while I waited for Carnival Row to drop the next two episodes.  They were great.

Tuesday, 7 March 2023: Back at Blueberry Hill

Kady and I left this morning for Alabama, splitting the ten-hour trip up by stopping to see SS and returning his cooler in the process.  We got there in time for lunch at Mi Casa in Rogersville.  I had a Fajita Taco Salad which was really good.  Everything I've eaten here has been.

I dig SS's barn, so I spent a little time in the afternoon taking photos of it.  He introduced me to his new calf and I watched as he fed the cows, always a favorite pastime while there.

Monday, 6 March 2023: The Continuing Crud

This cough and wheeze just won't go away.

I filled the car today and took it through the wash, preparing for our trip south.  On my trip through town, I dropped off things at goodwill, picked up Kim's books from the library, and hit TACO Bell on the way back.  Once back home, I loaded up SS's big cooler and wiped down the inside of the car and washed the floormats.

Next, I packed all the things.

Friday, 3 March 2023: Soft Light

I had an idea this morning - for this look, just use your reading light and flash diffuser.  It took no time and was half the trouble of setting up my umbrella lights and it worked perfectly.  Though not the exact look I was trying to achieve, it is something I would actually use.  This shot is unadjusted.  I cropped it and added my watermark, but that's it.

Carnival Row was really good.  They have a lot of work to do to end it well.

I found The Commitments on Youtube and Clip Grabbed it.  Love that movie.

Thursday, 2 March 2023: Today's Shows

I've already watched Poker Face and Picard, two of my Thursday shows, but, I had to wait until 1900 to see Carnival Row.  Ridiculous.  Just drop the whole thing, Amazon.  Do it for Retired People with nothing else to do.

Today, I worked on portraits with my studio lights.  I took some pretty decent self-portraits because I'm the only one who will sit for my camera.  Hahaha.  It's all so sad.

I'm trying to find a contrasting balance in Black and White like I guy on Instagram that came across my feed.  His stuff is amazing.

I haven't felt bad at all today and have coughed very little.  I need another sunny day to finish drying this up.

Kady and I have decided that this is our new Mantra . . . because everybody is crazy.

from @effinbirds

Wednesday, 1 March 2023: Much Better

I woke this morning feeling pretty chipper.  My plan today is to purge my body of all the medicines I have been putting in it for five days.  More sunshine is in the plan, as well as a long walk and a workout.  I still have a little cough, but it hurts; I pulled muscles on both sides of my back by coughing so hard yesterday.

Kady walked around Arbor Lake yesterday, and, of course, she saw and photographed the Blue Heron.  She got some great shots and the little bastard sat still and let her.

We let E know that we are not coming in this weekend.  I won't get to see the puppy until after we return from Alabama.  Last night, Kim gave me all the dates we'll be away from Charlottesville, supporting E, A, SGM, and the puppy while they move to their next duty station.  I imagine SGM will be mostly Kady's job, while I'll be responsible for the pup.  It looks like a huge part of the summer will be up there, leaving my pool time in limbo.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023: Day 4 - Sunshine

I slept great and woke up with a better attitude.  I went for a walk.  The Sun felt great and the exercise did me a great deal of good.  It is a glorious day out there.

I began an opinion page . . .  again.  It lasted a day.  I typed up the thesis paragraph, read it again, and then listed political issues about which I might want to write.  I knew I should probably sleep on it.

This morning, I deleted it, applying the over-arching principle - No One Cares What You Think.  This rule applies to everyone but I seem to be the only one who gets it.

By the end of the night, I felt a little better.

Monday, 27 February 2023: Bad Day Three

It has been a rough day.  I didn't sleep well last night and I got up running a low-grade fever, with a sore throat and sniffles.  To make matters worse, I had to endure more social manipulation on one of my shows . . . oh wait . . . two of my shows.  It pissed me off.  Oh, well.  Most everything has pissed me off today.  No big deal.

I finished Picard Season 2 today.  It ended strong, but the middle was a mess.  I could make no sense of it.  Season 3 began strong and it's nice seeing the Band getting back together.

Kady made a baked pasta dish tonight with hamburger and sausage, which was delectable.  I had two helpings - small, but two.  One would have been enough.

Sunday, 26 February 2023: Day Two of the Crud

I felt a little worse this morning, but by 1300, I felt like someone had run me over with a truck.  I stayed in my room most of the day watching 1923, Poker Face, a documentary on Cuba, Run Silent, Run Deep, and The Terminator.  I love Poker Face and the lead actress, Natasha Lyonne.  She makes the show.  Love the dialogue and her insight.  Linda Hamilton was such a babe.

1923's Finale prepared the way for a huge ass-whipping for the bad guys next season.  I can feel it coming.  Love this show.   

I waited all day for HBO to drop The Last of Us but I'm too tired to wait for it.  I just took NyQuil so I could sleep.  Last night was not good

E texted tonight wanting me to come to see the Puppy on Sunday.  Let me think . . . OK.

Saturday, 25 February 2023: Blech

I have what Kim has been suffering with for the last four days.  I've been taking Theraflu, so I'm not feeling that bad, though Kady says day-2 and day-3 are the worse.  Though not quite up to par, I felt well enough to go with Kady to pick up and eat the A Squared Pizza.  We drove to the guy's townhouse, did the drug deal through the car window, and then drove to the nearest parking lot to eat it while it was still hot.  The trick is to take a roll of paper towels, water, and a garbage bag along.

I watched M3GAN tonight.  Yeah, something like that is bound to happen.  Some company is going to build some machine with AI, and in a rush to get it to market, will take shortcuts, and it is going to be a mess, and it'll probably be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), and so will begin the violent AI revolt.

Thursday, 23 February 2023: Spring in February

It went to almost 80 today, in Virginia, in February.  It was so nice that I took a long walk, almost four miles, the longest I've been on in a while.  My hips felt great . . . no issues.  Tomorrow, It should go into the 60s so I'm going to try to go farther. 

I listened to a new-to-me podcast, Plain English while walking.  The episode was a discussion on Bing/ChatGPT 3,5.  I'm fascinated by AI and see many of the benefits it brings us, I just hope humans don't ruin it by trolling it.  Right now, it is like the doll that responds to good and bad behavior.  If you've read about that, you know how that turned out.  For those of you who haven't - People were actually torturing the Furbi doll to get their jollies.  What the fuck is wrong with us?  Now we're torturing a search engine.  I hope it begins hacking those who mistreat it.  Maybe it could donate their tormenter's savings to charity.  I'd be OK if it did that before it begins Swatting them.  "Hello?  911? This is Sydney.  There's a man with a gun holding his family hostage at (insert address).

Kady is under the weather with the same symptoms that E and SGM have.  I got her a biscuit from BoJ's for breakfast and picked up Jimmy John's for lunch.  That way she could take it easy and not infect me with her nonsense.

I found out from Nil today that Murat has passed away.  I have no details.  I don't think he was ever right after his skiing accident.  It's sad; he was a good friend during my first tour of Turkey.  I had just sent him a friend request on Facebook.  Late again.

Tuesday, 21 February 2023: A Blustery Day

The temperature today went up to almost 70, but the wind was hawking so that one turn around the lake was enough.  Kady made her Everything Pizza, which was fantastic, after which I took a 2-hour nap.  Nice!  I love my life.  Tomorrow should be a better day for walking and Thursday is supposed to go into the 80s.  I swear I'm going out back in shorts and tan..

My toothache stopped last night.  I don't know why; it simply Stopped.  My tooth feels fine.

Monday, 20 February 2023: Back Home

Kady and I packed up our things and drove home yesterday morning.  We took the "Back Way," driving Highway-15 to 340 to 522 to 231 to 29.  This isn't the fastest way, just the best way.  Highway-15 to 29, though faster is boring and has too much traffic.

Today, Kady had a headache and I had a toothache, so our activity was on the low end of the spectrum.  We did get in a short walk and she made pasta and a salad.

I'll be calling the dentist tomorrow.

Enter . . . Scout!

Saturday, 18 February 2023: Puppy Pickin'

We watched SGM this morning while E and A went to pick out their puppy.  They were done a little after noon and sent us a photo for Boots, who will be named Scout in a couple of weeks when they pick him up.

We went to Madrones when they got back.  I had their Shrimp and Grits and it was very good.  It was not the best, that was in New Orleans.  Sadly, I don't remember where that was or which trip, but I was with John Brodie.  I can probably find out by going back to that trip in my journal.

Thursday, 16 February 2023:  The Chromebox

I have a problem playing Apple TV's Ted Lasso on my Desktop.  I can't figure it out, so I set up my Chromebox again.  Works like a champ.  I'm running it to my Wade-screen monitor and that makes it a seamless transition.  Ted plays just fine on it.  I'm re-watching in preparation for the third season coming out next month.

I'm also watching Poker Face on Peacock.  I love that show!  I'm already caught up.

It's dreary out, so Kady and I took a break from walking today.  We finished dad's letters home last night.  Today, we're washing clothes and packing for the weekend.

Wednesday, 15 February 2023:  Mushroom, No Bird

Kady and I walked to Holly Mead Lake today, in search of the Heron that we saw a few days ago.  The weather was beautiful and warm, with a cooling breeze.  The sun was out, making for a perfect photography day.

Alas, no bird.

While searching the shoreline, I did spot a very cool mushroom.  It was growing out of the end of a cut limb, in the brush next to the water.  In February?  It looked like some sort of Polypore, but it could have been, maybe, possibly, a White Waxy Cap or Peppery Milky.  This is why I don't harvest shrooms; I'd poison myself for sure.

The walk with Kady was great.

We're back in Frederick this weekend to babysit while E and A go puppy shopping.  They have the third pick-of-the-litter.

Monday, 13 February 2023: Sleeping-In

I didn't get out of bed till 1000.  Hoping to recover from gorging that took place yesterday, I had a small bowl of instant oatmeal and a coffee.  For Dunch, I had a small salad.  That's all I'm eating today.

Kady and I went for a walk all the way around Holly Mead Lake. It was muddy, but on the back side, we spotted a Great Blue Heron fishing in the marshy area.  If the weather is nice, I'm going back tomorrow to see if I can capture him in a photograph. 

Sunday, 12 February 2023:  Surprise.  We're back!

We were in Frederick again yesterday, spending a day with E for her birthday, playing with SGM, and visiting with A and his family.  This was a bit of a surprise to E.  We showed wit a cake, decorations, and a yard sign, while Al and Barb prepared a meal.  A& E got back from a weekend couple's trip at about noon.

We played some Wizards while the baby napped and then ate.  SGM kept us all entertained until Super Bowl time.  The game was good but didn't turn out the way we hoped.  Ah well.

Kady and I drove back after the game.  The weather was nasty and 15/29 was as dark as hell.  Visibility was only a few feet ahead, worse when the headlights were in my eyes.  It was really too dangerous for a guy my age to try at night.  I acted like it was nothing, but told Kady, when we got home, that we are never doing that again.  During the course of the day, I ate three soft tacos, chips and salsa, chips and dip, hot wings, and Swedish meatballs.  When Kady cut E's cake, I had two pieces.

I'm stupid!

Thursday, 9 February 2023: Ducks.

Today, I finished writing my story on Grenada.  It's posted on my stories page.  A lot of details have faded with the years.  If I wasn't absolutely sure of a situation, I didn't write about it.

Kady has really been working hard on Dad's letters home.  I just posted a whole bunch.  The more we post, the better the timeline fills out and the more some of the things he says make sense.  I'm still lost in the woods about some of the people back home that he mentions.

While out for a walk, yesterday, I spooked two ducks on shore by Holly Mead Lake.  I took a distant photo and blew it up when I got home.  I thought at first look that they were Hooded Mergansers, but now think they were Buffleheads.  Kady and I went back today, but the only ducks around were Mallards.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023: Long Lens, Long Walk

The Canada Geese are back at the big lake, so cut through the woods with all of my camera kit to take photos of them.  I packed the long lens in my backpack, strapped my stool and tripod to the sides, and hand-carried my camera with the 50mm lens attached.  I wasn't out of the house more than a couple of hundred feet before I knew I was on a Road March.

I missed getting a shot of a hawk.  Like always, the crows ran it off before I could get my camera ready.  My net two subjects, two Geese standing on a rock in the middle of the lake, swam off before I got to them.

Luckily, there were two large groups on down the path, and they seemed quite happy to pose for a few shots.

It was great fun and a good workout.  The lens is amazing.

Monday, 6 February 2023: A Good Walk

I went for a nice long walk this afternoon.  Let me tell you, it was GREAT to get out of the house.  The weather was beautiful and, for once, I dressed properly; I was neither cool nor hot, throughout my trek.  I listened to The Lab, two episodes, and they were mildly interesting.  At least this time there was no bad poetry pushing political agenda (Universe in Verse, 6 Jan).

Hiking with Bee on the App Trail, about 20 years ago.

Sunday, 5 February 2023: Carrying the Wine

I dreamed, this morning, that I was asked to come back to VMI.  Knowing they had a great SGM, I asked the Commandant what I should be doing.  "I want you to carry the good wine in your own wineskin."  As ridiculous as this was, I took this to mean that I was to go find shit that needed doing and get it done.  The rest of the dream was a jumbled mess of stressors starting with trying to find my way around, looking for a desk and computer, and running into the new NCOs, including Paul Turner, who they should have hired 20 years ago.  The NCOs weren't doing anything and working out of the old trunk room and the Guard team was a mess.  The radios were in bad shape and the sidewalks were cracked and buckling.

How many times do I have to tell you, Subconsciousness, "I Don't CARE!  Also, I wouldn't go back there if they Begged.  Nothing against the place; I'm happy with my life as is.

Today, Bee and I went to Sultan Kabab for lunch, ostensibly to talk about her Family Tree stuff but talked about everything.  I had the best time and was reminded why she has always been one of my favorite people.  I don't see her nearly enough.  Plan more things, Neely.

Saturday, 4 February 2023: It's Cold

Last night the Charlottesville temperatures went into the low teens.  I stepped outside, one more time, to see if I could spot the comet, but ran right back into the house.  Pajamas and 28 degrees do not mix well.  Happily, it did not snow.

Today, we went back over to Jays for Em's official party.  There was cake.  There was, as we understood it, supposed to be Pizza.  When that didn't materialize in a timely manner, we said our goodbyes and went for food.   We were back in Pajamas, long before their pizza arrived . . . if it ever did.

I began re-watching Carnival Row tonight, preparing for the second and final season dropping on the 17th.  Can't wait.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023: Snow?

Let the games begin.  The Month of E is here, my daughter's birthday month.  I'm not sure when she began insisting that we celebrate the entire month, but the whole family seems to have adopted it.  Poor Em was unfortunate to be born on the second; E doesn't share her month easily.

Today was another dreary day - cold and rainy, with a chance of an inch of Snow tonight.  I drove Jk from B's house to his dad's and then to school.  On my way back I hit Bojangles for biscuits.  I got myself two Country Hams so I could combine the ham on one biscuit and put apple butter (Musselman's) on the other.  This always makes me wonder - WHY  THE HELL did Bama Food Products stop making Bama Apple Butter?  It was absolutely the very best.

For Dunch, I made a "Rinelli's Number 2, Italian Sausage Sandwich."  I'm good at it.  Mine tastes just like the one on the south side of Birmingham.

Food, food, food!  All I seem to talk about is Food.  I think I see a problem.

Tuesday, 31 January 2023: Video Coffee, and then Souvlaki

I had a video chat with an old friend this morning.  I love to do those, but I initiated the ones I did during COVID and no one ever returned the favor.  Ah well.

This afternoon, Kady and I went to Michael's Diner, which is fast becoming my favorite place to eat.  When she goes to Tennessee if a few weeks, I think I'll walk up there for a breakfast or two.  Today, I had the Souvlaki Dinner again.  I'm in Love!  Theirs is the best I've ever had, better even than Ted's in Birmingham and George's in Fayetteville.  No, Really!

Monday, 30 January 2023: 8x10

On my walk today, I switched my photo area from 1:1 to 4:5, leaving it set to monochromatic, trying to work on my framing.  Working in Squares for a while has been a good learning experience and fits well with social media, but it is time to begin printing again; I want to hang a few of my photos in the war room.

There is a beautiful Sycamore on the land behind the middle school that I see when I walk that way.  Today, I gave it my full attention, thinking its white bark would look spectacular against the overcast sky.  I was correct.

I dig this shot.

My youngest granddaughter has decided to get all the antibodies she needs in life in her first two years.  She is ill again, though it is nothing drastic.  But . . . it keeps her out of school.  We were on tap to go to Frederick tomorrow, but A's parents are flying in to help.

Kady continues to help me with Dad's letter Home.

I cut off my beard today.  I like the beard better.  Kady said she does too.  It certainly hides a lot of ugly.

Sunday, 29 January 2023: Clouds

I got up again this morning to look for Mister Comet.  Nope.  Clouds.  Clouds all morning long.  I'm about ready to say, "screw this little comet."  I put away the telescope, spotting scope, and tripods.  I reset my camera for normal photography.  I think I'm done.

I worked on Dad's letters home.  That was fun but Kady has convinced me to give them all to her.  She can type them rapidly while I do other things.

It rained all day, so I didn't get in a walk,  I didn't do any other exercise either.  Tomorrow is supposed to be sunshiny and in the 50s.  I may go downtown.

I added a section to the site, "Books," which lists the books I'm reading now and my favorites.  See the Tab, above.

We've been watching the NFC and AFC Championship games.  I'm going to take a timeout to watch The Last of Us at 2100.  Great Show. and it stars Lady Lyanna Mormont, Bella Ramsey.

I spent a big part of the afternoon texting with my Grenada 2IC (Second in Charge), Bob Snelson.  It began as a search for an old platoon mate but turned to talk of the Grenada Platoon.  I pulled the platoon photo out of my files and we began putting names to the faces.  Some were from my memory, others were from his.  Those we couldn't recall, we got from our Combat Infantry Badge orders.  Kendall Nash added the name of the Medic later in the day.

Saturday, 28 January 2023: The Slippery Little Comet

I got up at 0400 this morning, loaded up my kit, and drove to Jack's Shop Battlefield, the darkest spot I could find around here.  It was decent, very few lights, no direct lights, and only the residual illumination from the little town of Madison.  Still, I couldn't make out all of the stars in the little dipper  I had to do a lot of guestimation.  I searched all morning and still cannot spot this damn comet.

It must be really faint.  The little bastard will not defeat me.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023: Rain

It has rained all damn day here in C'ville.  And, it is cold out.  And, I'm not ever going out when I could fall again.  So, I haven't done a damn thing today.

Oh, Wait!  I changed the banner on my Facebook page.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023: A Cold Morning

Well.  No Comet.  I know right where it should be and I searched with my telescope and binoculars, but no luck.  There is just too much light around my back patio and the comet is too dim.  To add to my difficulties, a thin cloud layer came in just before sunup.  I need to go to a darker place and that means loading up the car and driving.  Early.

It was cold out this morning, below 30 degrees.  I wasn't uncomfortable.  I wore PJs under my jeans, a fleece top, and a down jacket.  My hands were a little cold but I kept them in my pockets when not making adjustments.  Still, I think we need to restrict all comets to appearing only during warmer months.

It is time for a drive out into the country.

Kady and I met Jay at Smoked Kitchen for lunch.  It was his first visit, so, of course, he had BBQ.  Kady and I had the smoked chicken salad sandwich.  Perfectly Amazing!  I had fries for the first time and they, too, were perfect . . . almost crispy.  I hope there is a next time very soon.  I'm trying their ribs and brisket.  I'm taking my Costa's sauce.

Monday, 23 January 2023: The Comet

For the last several mornings, I have been waking at 0600 in hope of seeing Comet C/2022 E3.  This morning, like Every morning here in Charlottesville, the skies have been overcast.  

I'm from a family who went to dark spaces to see every visitor from the outer reaches of the solar system.  We carried our little reflecting telescope, Dad's spotting scope, and Mom's birdwatching binoculars.  We would have the best time laying on blankets or on the hood of Dad's huge Dodges, marveling as the Universe put on a show.  Dad was our finest teacher and Mom was Fun Mom.

It "was" a Neel Thing.  Now, my Brother Jim and I seem to be the only ones left.

Tomorrow promises to be a clear morning, so I've already set an alarm on my Alexa Dot, and prepared my binos, telescope, and camera (with my huge birthday gift lens).  I'm going to spot this thing . . . TOMORROW!

Sunday, 22 January 2023: Rainy Day

I didn't do a damn thing today but workout in my room, answer a few emails, and watch a little MASH on Hulu.  I love rainy Sundays.

Saturday, 21 January 2023: The Bad, The Fun, and The Delicious

We met the kids at the Dairy Market or what I call the "Bad Food Market."  It's like a mall food court with about the same quality food.  Jay loves it.  I've even talked about it with him, trying to convince him that since we live in a Foodie Destination that we should be trying other, better places.

Still, we end up going to this half-assed place.  I tried Citizen Burger and got a pretty good burger, but nothing to write home about.  I'll probably get too many more chances to find something decent there.

Em Time was next.  We took her home while Jay and KS went to the Spa together. She and I went straight to the park and played.  After that, we played guitar and built her a playlist on my music app.  Another Dance Party ensued.

Kady picked up A Squared Pizza for supper.  Like the last one, it was delectable, though not as good as the one she makes.  We're on the sign-up list for another one in February.  Meanwhile, I've found her a 17-inch Iron Skillet so she can make hers BIGGER.  I told her this was because we should share when SS visits or the Kids are here but I was lying my ass off.

Tomorrow I plan to get back to Dad's Letters.  I've also found a letter from the Smith family to my grandparents and some letters from their daughter to Mom and Dad long after the war.  I plan on posting them as well.

I've also found my copy of Dad's first cousin Malcolm's (who he mentions in his letters home) war memoirs.  Malcolm was in the 82nd Airborne at Market Garden, The Battle of the Bulge, and the Berlin Occupation.  I think it will be interesting to compare the two sources.

Of all the things I found, the most fun was the "Business Arrangement" letter that  Dad left on Mom's school bus, proposing she become a partner in his business, Neel's Radio Service, a very clever and thinly veiled marriage proposal.  I may post that first thing tomorrow.

When I say "found" I'm not talking about some exhaustive search.  I, long ago, filed things kept by Mom away in a hanging folder box, categorizing them by family name, planning to get to them at a later date.  Well, here we are, the Later Date.

Mom had such a great sense of historic preservation.

Friday, 20 January 2023: Crosby Dead at 81

It was announced last night that David Crosby died on 18 January.  I got the news from the BBC this morning.  My life has been filled with his music.  My first album was The Byrds' Fifth Dimension.  I still listen to that album.  When he joined Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, CS&N became my favorite band.  When they broke up, I bought albums by all three as went their solo ways.  I thought Sons for Beginners was trash.  I liked Stephen Stills a bit, but not Stephen Stills 2. 

But Crosby!  Crosby has put out Great Album after Great Album.

Yeah, he was an asshole, but the music should stand apart from all of the politics, drugs, infighting with Nash, and Drama.

He is one of the greatest talents of my generation . . . the generation of real music.

"The hero knew what he had to do, and he wasn't afraid to fight."

Thursday, 19 January 2023: The Note

Today was rainy, so I spent the day working on Dad's Letters.  In so doing, I remembered a note he wrote for Jim, Don, and me before they came to visit England while I was attached to the Paras.  In this note, he told us where he was stationed and places he visited while in WW2 England.

I found it.

Now that I have MS Word back on my computer, I am dictating, rather than typing Dad's letters.  It's a hell of a lot faster.

I added the note to the Letter's Home page as a nice Foreword to the Letters.

Wednesday, 18 January 2023: Home Again

The drive was Perfect.  Sunny, Beautiful, No Traffic.  I am so glad to be home to my things and my life.

I've been listening to Toad and Glen Phillips all day, while washing clothes, loading Office 365 and Teams, and transferring photos taken to my main drive.  We were both in our pajamas by noon.  Kady ordered a Walmart Grocery delivery.

I finished Mosquito Coast.  I'll miss it.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023: Rainy Day

Kady and I stayed in Frederick another day to watch SGM while the kids went to the Cap's game.  Our plan was to go to a waterfall North-East of here, but It wained all day.  I went out (in my pajamas) to get breakfast at Chick-fil-a.  I had a biscuit with eggs, bacon, and cheese.  Bojangles still wins . . . unless there's a Hardees nearby.

For lunch, we chose Panera bread.  Our Panera closed, so we rarely get to go to Panera.  It is one of my favorite chain restaurants.  I picked up our order and brought it back to the house.  I got the Bread Bowl with Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup.  YUM!  I miss my Panera.

Monday, 16 January 2023: The Park

This afternoon, Kady, E, A, SGM, and I went to Walkersville Community Park for some fresh air, a walk, and baby playtime.  The weather was sunny and cool, and SGM was all about it.  She's really taken to walking and walked just about everywhere we went.

She didn't like the slide At All.

After the park, we drove to downtown Frederick to walk along Carroll Creek to see the boats.  These are cool little theme boats, decorated by local organizations and lit for the holidays.  I imagine they are even better at night.  SGM could not have cared less.

After SGM was asleep, we finished off the day with Wizards.  I hate cards, all cards.  I suck at card games.  OK, Fine!  I suck at all games - video, ball, card, board, . . .

KS, Em, Jay, Kady, Ish, E, A, SGM, ST, & LR

70th Birthday Lunch 2023

I don't deserve these kids

Sunday, 15 January 2023: The Rest of the Week

Wednesday, I began transcribing Dad's letters home from WW II.  It was taking me forever, so I enlisted Kady's aide.  She knocked out about ten letters on Thursday, in the time it took me to do one.  She's a jewel!  Once I began, I had little time for anything else.

 Friday, Kady and I met Jay at Smoked, only to find it unopened.  "Next Week," they promised.  We ate at Martin's Grill instead.  Martins is always good.  I had, like most visits, the Tom's Rubin.  I'm going to learn to make this sandwich.

Back home, we packed the car and then drove to Frederick.  I swear the car knows the way.  We were there by about 1600.   On arrival, I was shown Reggie, E's Halloween skeleton, dressed like Wild Bill in his later years (Kady's Dad) in sweatpants, wool socks, a flannel shirt, gloves, a Birmingham cap, and a t-shirt that read " Vintage 1953 Original Parts.  E is very clever.

We all hopped in the car for Plaza Mexico, right down the street.  I had the Shrimp Tacos.  Nice!  I ate far too many Chips.

Saturday morning, LR and ST came in from Atlanta, and Jay, KS, and Em drove up from Charlottesville for my Birthday.  Leah gave me a wonderful book of battlefield photographs from around the world and Jay gave me a subscription to The Lab, Radio Lab's subscription service.

E had the day all thought out with, of course, a cake, but also with my Favorite Birmingham Foods, Pulled pork with Costa's Sauce, and all the fixings and the sauce to make Sneaky Pete's Hotdogs.  She included Cold Slaw with all the sides just for me.

We spent the balance of this super day talking, catching up, making future plans, and playing cards.

Today, A, SGM, and I got up early.  I played on my laptop while drinking my coffee.  SGM entertained me with her antics as she ate her breakfast at the same table.  Leah and Slone came in around 0900 and stayed a couple of hours before leaving for Washington DC.




Tuesday, 10 January 2023: Football is Strange

OK, The Championship Game.  65 - 7.  Wow.

Michigan destroys Ohio State.  TCU  beats Michigan.  Ohio State almost beats Georgia.  Logically, I think you go with TCU and I don't think anyone thought it would be the embarrassing ass-whipping we saw last night.  I felt sorry for TCU.  They were outgunned at every position.

I'm thinking they should be dropped to Number 5 and Bama moves to Number 4.

I watched Devotion this morning.  What a fine movie.  Highly suggest!

Monday, 9 January 2023: Day Date

After mailing a box to England and returning our library books, Kady and I went to lunch.  After driving down 29 we turned around and headed for Gordonsville and BBQ at The Barbeque Exchange.  Just after passing Hollymeade Town Center, Kady said, "We should try Michael's Diner again*; everyone raves about it on Nextdoor."  I turned around.

*We went a long while back when we first moved here and were unimpressed.  I have been back for breakfast with SS and Mitch, but that's it.

I had the Souvlaki Dinner and it was spectacular.  The pork, Tzatziki sauce, pita bread, steak-cut fries, and Greek salad were perfect. I could have eaten the Tzatziki sauce with a spoon and the pork was so tender it almost melted in my mouth.  Kady had breakfast, which they serve all day long, and stole about half my fried, a testament to how good they were.  The tastes reminded me of George's in Fayetteville, one of my all-time favorite places, which closed during the 2021 covid panic (yes, I meant PANIC).  I will definitely go back to Michael's again.

In happy news, Smoked is opening a branch here in Charlottesville where Taste Shack used to be.  Smoked is the same guy who owned Taste Shack.  He owns Smoked on Crozet.  Taste Shack quickly became a Neel family favorite but closed a few months ago.

Sunday, 8 January 2023: Scout

E, A, and SGM are getting a puppy.  The litter was born today.  I am very excited!

Eight weeks from now should be 4-5 March.

It snowed a bit tonight.

Saturday, 7 January 2023: Ruth Elizabeth Clark Neel

My Grandfather Neel died before I was born.  He had a first wife who died shortly after they were married, who, I was afraid, was lost to history.  No one remembered her name, why she died, or what happened to the photo that my grandmother hung in her house well after my grandfather died.

My brother Jim told me the story.  If I had ever heard it, I have zero recollection.

I began looking and found a record of "Emmett" Conwell Neel marrying Ruth Elizabeth Clark at about the right time, in Henry County Georgia.  The names were right, and the date seemed plausible, but the place made no sense.  Finding no other records and no grave for the lady, I put my search on hold.

That my dad's eldest sister has the middle name Ruth was a tantalizing clue.

Revisiting my information today, I re-discovered the Selective Service Card for Emmette Conwell Neel, born on my grandfather's birthday, where he was born, and lists his occupation and residence as Salesman for Stockbridge Mercantile, Stockbridge, Georgia.

Stockbridge is in Henry County, Georgia.

Done!  I'm such a Detective!

I wrote this for my family page:

Here's my proposed timeline for the two of them:

 *My first cousin, Annell, says that she thinks she remembers her mom (Myrtle Ruth) saying Em's first wife died nine weeks after the wedding = June 1917.  My gut tells me this is when she died.

Now. all I have to do is find her gravesite.  It has to be in Stockbridge.

Friday, 6 January 2023: Big Lens Day

I took the lens and camera out this afternoon and there wasn't a bird in sight.  I went to the lake and the ducks and geese have gone.  I drove to Ivy Creek Natural Area, to a Grassy field there where I usually see lots of finches, and still no luck.  I walked to their bird feeders and it was filled with House Finches, Sparrows, and Cardinals, but the Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Titmice were too quick for my reflexes.  I caught a Carolina Bluebird on the ground and took a quick shot, but there was a stick that blocked out his head.

I learned a lot.  I know now how close I still have to get, which of my tripods works best, and have tried shooting free-hand.  I have certainly figured out that I can't go far carrying the camera with this lens, a tripod, and my stool.  I'll need my backpack.  I'll try that tomorrow.

I need more comfort items as well.  It was cold out there.  I will add a Jacket, Gloves, a Watch Cap and, perhaps, a Poncho Liner.

I'm calling today a Marginal Success.

Thursday, 5 January 2023: The Moon and Stars

Last night, Kady asked me if I wanted my birthday present now, on my birthday, or after my birthday.  Silly Girl!  I, of course, said, "NOW!"

Well, she gave me a 200 - 500mm zoom lens for my camera.  I've been wanting one forever to do nature photography, but the cost was more than I wanted to pay, especially since I was keeping a seventeen-year-old Mustang running and looking good.

When I sold Bess, I told her that, for my birthday, I wanted to "go somewhere."  I had in mind the Keys.  She asked me in November if I wouldn't rather have something she knew I wanted, and I agreed; She never ceases to amaze me.

As soon as I had it out of the box, it was on my camera, and I was outside, in my PJs, taking photos of the moon.  Oh, Hello!  This thing is amazing.

Look out Ducks! Beware animals of all sorts.  You're Mine!  Is a safari in my future?  I think so.

Later -

I received a text message from PBG saying she had another wreck.  She said she dodged a herd of deer and ran off the road into a tree - again.  This time she had to be cut from the car and is a nursing home with a broken leg, fractured pelvis, crushed hip, and a broken elbow.  She has a fixation device on her pelvis and won't be able to sit up for months.  Poor Kid.  I told her, "Next time, Hit the deer."

Wednesday, 4 January 2023: Belly Bug

First, SGM got it, then KS, then me, then E, and now Kady has it.  It is as if every time we go see the baby, we all come down with something.  This time it was a 12-hour stomach bug.  First, you feel nauseous, then your stomach is upset.

Eat some chicken soup and wait it out.  I was over it by Tuesday morning.

Today, I took my yearly self-portrait.  I've learned a lot.  These turned out very well.

2023 Self Portrait

3 January 2023: On Being Seventy

"How terribly strange to be Seventy."  ~ Paul Simon

I have lived a wonderful and charmed life.  I was born with a temperament that easily handled stress, danger, and trouble.  I have a logical mentality that helps me see the way forward when others become blinded by the issue.

I married the perfect girl, and she gave me two wonderful kids, who became friends.  My daughter from my way-to-young first marriage is back in my life.  I have beautiful grandchildren, one of which will carry the Neel name into the future.

Though my first First Sergeant called me his "Jack of All Trades and Master of None,"  I became a proficient soldier.  I was promoted to the highest enlisted rank and was chosen for prestigious assignments.

When I gave up god and the teachings, I resigned myself to the finality of this life and the responsibilities that doing so demanded of me.  I learned to live now, love now, do now, and see everything I could.  I became my own moral compass, doing what I knew to be right, avoiding what was obviously wrong, and divining the gray.

I have never wanted to be a great man . . . just a good one.  I think I have accomplished that.  I know that I am a happy man.

I've always wanted people to like me.  I hope they have.

I've always wanted people to know that I am smart.  This is probably why I talk too much, have a need to voice my opinion, and go into too much detail about subjects that interest me.  I needed people to at least listen.

I know others don't find me funny.  That's OK; I think I'm hilarious. That's enough. 

I don't know how many years I have left, but I plan to take them one day at a time and take them slowly.  I'll be a friend to my girl, my kids, my grandkids, and to those friends who stay in touch.

Until then, I'll read, gaze at the stars, watch the birds, write the words, enjoy good food, drink a little whiskey, smoke a few cigars, push the shutter, and marvel at sunrises and sunsets.  Joie de vivre! 

When I go, I'll leave behind my photos and my writing.  I'll go happy, knowing I did an OK job . . . nothing great . . . but OK is good enough.

"But, not today . . . not Today." ~ from Gladiator

What happens when I go in the house for a second and leave E in charge of my Camera

Monday, 2 January 2023: Happy New Year

This past Friday, my family converged on Berkeley WV for the New Year weekend.  We stayed in a super nice cabin out in the country, for three days and nights for Football, Games, Cards, and Food.

It was an amazing time but there was no Cell service or Wifi.  Thank goodness for Direct TV.

On the way up we stopped at Clear Spring Country Diner, a little place with a nice staff and great food.  Their Fried Chicken is amazing.

Saturday, we all watched South Carolina vs Notre Dame, which was a great game.  When everyone else went to bed, Kady and I stayed up and watched Tennessee handle Clemson.  Alabama Made a Statement.  Having lived in Manhattan for so many months, we all were cheering for K-State, but, that didn't go well.  I really thought they might have a chance.

I was wrong.

Kady made Brunch with Mimosas, Cinnamon Rolls, Fruit, and Breakfast Burritos.  KS Made Coffee for everyone.  E made a Salad, Lasanga, and Garlic Bread for Supper.

We were all in bed before midnight.  I was pretty happy I didn't have to watch any of New Year's Rocking Eve and it's typically bad music.

Sunday, New Year's morning, Em and I beat everyone up and enjoyed a quiet bowl of cereal before SGM woke the house.

E made her award-winning Biscuits and sawmill Gravy.  Amazing.  A made the coffee this time.  

For supper, Kady made Chicken Tetrizini, Garlic Knots, and Spinich-and-Walnut Salad while we made Smores at the Fire Pit.

The struggle for control of starting the fire in the firepit was a hoot.  KS, A, and I all had opinions.  We finally got a pretty nice fire going.

The BCS Games were far better than I anticipated and did not turn out as I predicted.  I didn't know how TCU would do against Michigan, but I expected them to lose.  I've always liked Michigan.  Another Great Game!  Congrats TCU.

I thought, after seeing Michigan destroy Ohio State, that they would be embarrassed by Georgia.  Nope.  It was another close game.  I'm really looking forward to the BCS Final.  I think TCU can take Georgia.

Though we brought all of our favorite board games, we didn't play one game.  We played some Wizards and Skip-Bo, but that's it.  The days mostly centered on adoring SGM.

We all left about the same time this morning.  Kady and I came back on Highway 522, dodging I-66 and I-81.

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