My Journal

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

Benign by Design

I've been keeping an online journal this since 2001 while living in Pristina, Kosovo and Izmir, Turkey.  Knowing that someone else might be reading makes me more faithful to write in it.  I post here most every day.

Notes To The Reader:

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

Thursday, 21 September 2023: DRINK WATER

Girlfriend scared the shit out of me. She and I went for a hike at Ragged Mountain.  I chose the Lake Loop, thinking it would be flattest., but at 7 miles, it looked a little long.  We were going along just fine, taking our time, stopping for rests.  I felt fine and Kady did too, until, at 6 miles, she just stopped and said she felt funny.  

Her hands quit working, she stopped sweating, her skin was cool and moist, she became lethargic, could hardly talk. Heat Exhaustion. I laid her in the middle of the trail, propped her feet up, had her sip water, and poured some of my water on her. 

When she felt better, we tried to make it thru the last mile, but she couldn't. 

I called 911.  The young lady was great.  A doctor, out for a ride on his bike, stopped to render support.  The Albemarle FD sent about 15 guys out, first to find us, then to carry her to their gator.   It took them over an hour to get to us.  Once they had a drip in her and checked her vitals (all-good), I humped out, got the car, and met her at the ambulance.

We drove home home and was her normal fun self after a shower.

We talked about lessons learned -

Tuesday, 19 September 2023: Getting Back at It

I got back on my scale today - 230.  That's now as bad as I thought.  I was completely off of the program last week.  I'm back on it today.

I took a three mile walk this morning.  It felt good.  I'm trying out Geocaching.  I found my first one this morning on my walk.  Kind Fun.  I'm going to go to Purdy Creek Park, Thursday.  There are a lot out there.  I hope Kady will go along.  Once I figure this all out, I hope to begin hiding my own Caches.  I think that will multiply the fun.

Some of these things are well hidden.  There is one right outside my door, down close to the pool, that I can't fund.  That seems to be part of the game.

I began caounting calories again today.  I want to get back down to 225 by Sunday, and 220 by next week or the week after.  I know I can do it.  Discipline!

Tomorrow, Kady and I are going to the movies to see Hunting in Venice.  Day Date.

Saturday Morning, I'm taking Em to a Car Museum.  She wants to be an Automotive Engineer, with which I am absolutely OK.  I'm going to support that.

Yesterday, Kady and I left after SGM went to school.  She is such a sweetheart and the happiest little thing.  I enjoy every moment I get to be with her.

Our trip home was uneventful.  We took the long way, avoiding the interstates.  The back roads in Virginia and Maryland are the best!

Sunday, 17 September 2023: AJ's Birthday

CE and AJ made breakfast, pancakes and bacon.  It was yummy.  We went for a walk to a part of the Ma and Pa Trail that starts at a fun Bog Garden.  The garden is a LOT better than Charlottesville's bog park.

We continue to believe our daughter when she asks if we want to go on a "short walk."

On the way home from the trail, I sat next to SGM and with a picture book about the ocean, she tries every word that I asked.  Her diction is getting so good.

The weather is cool and rainy, cancelling the kid's plans to go see Ray LaMontagne tonight.  We stayed in and watched Green Bay, while they went to a sports bar.  SGM took a nap.

Kady and I head home tomorrow morning.  I've already begun packing the car.

Saturday, 16 September 2023: Football

AJ came home last night.  His girls were pretty excited.  He had been in Washington State all week, our reason for this trip.  For dinner, we made flatbread pizzas.  I made mine with twice the amount of pepperoni any normal person would put on a pizza.  Fantastic!

After the baby went to bed, we played Wizards where I showed everyone how my big win in our last game was a total fluke.  I began strong but over or under bid the rest of the game.  Kady Won.  I was happy to see that.  She's so smart.

Today, we went to the farmer's market, took a walk, and then watching football.  It was a good day for football, not for Alabama, but everyone else. Auburn struggled against Samford in the first half, but figured it out in the second.  I think maybe it was mostly the new guys, coaches included, figuring out how to play together as a team.

I took some photos of SGM after school, using my long lens.  The lens is amazing, the girl perfect.

Thursday, 14 September 2023: Hobbies

Last night, I told CE and Kady that I needed a new hobby.  I thought fishing or archery.  They disagreed.  CE googled Hobbies for Seniors and we ran down the list.

I discovered that I already have most of the hobbies listed - Photography, Astronomy, Hiking, Birding, Writing, Genealogy, Reading, Journaling, Guitar, Coffee.

I was reminded of what 1SG Gainey said to me when I was a private, "Neel, you are a jack of all trades and master of none."  He was saying that I needed to get better at everything to be a great soldier.

The same applies to my hobbies.  I need to get better.  At everything.

Wednesday, 13 September 2023: Maryland

Kady and I drove to Maryland yesterday.  It was a drive the I hope I can soon forget.  I was three hours into the drive before I could calm down and begin feeling like myself.  I just don't know.

Talking to E last night was cathartic.  Her insights were solid.

I slept for fourteen hours and feel much better.

Today, Kady and I drove to Wilmington, Delaware to look for some tableware in a pattern she likes.  We found the bowls she wanted, plus some Ramen bowls.  Next big thing - Kady's Ramen!

Last night, SGM found my notebook, unzipped it, pulled out all of my mechanical pencils, and began writing.  She took out all of my post-it notes, destroying a little of my family tree work, but I didn't care.  She's just too adorable.

a·mi·a·ble  ˈāmēəb(ə)l  adjective  having or displaying a friendly and pleasant manner.  "His new plan was to be an amiable, unassuming fellow."

Tuesday, 12 September 2011: Woe Unto The Day

Once Again, The Family Group Text Woke Me up in the Middle of the Night.  It doesn't matter what I do, it always finds a way.  This time, it was because two members of my Starred Contacts, whose names I won't mention, began chatting with the main and repeated offender.  Because they are Starred, they can get through my Do Not Disturb setting.  I do this so they can get through to me any time, day or night, for safety reasons.

I got very little sleep the rest of the night and I have a five hour drive ahead of me tonight.  Wonderful.  As I lay there I became more and more angry - irrationally so.  Mad Dog Mean.

Since I couldn't sleep, I decided no one else should be able to either, so I sent a string of text messages to the group so their phone would ding over and over.  It was stupid.  Things went downhill from there.  Horribly.

My Fault.

in·con·se·quen·tial  /ˌinˌkänsəˈkwen(t)SH(ə)l/  adjective  not important or significant.  "at seventy, the Sergeant Major had somehow become inconsequential."

Sunday, 10 September 2023: Jet Lag

I went to bed after the game, turned off my 0600 alarm, and woke about 0800.  It was raining, so, no walk.  I hit the shower and begam my day.  I kept falling asleep at the computer.  I ate lunch around 1200 and then took a nap.  That REALLY screwed me up.  I sat downstairs on the couch with Kady for a while, still falling asleep.  She made me get up, make me a Cappuccino, and get out of hair.  "Go Do Something," I think she said.  There may have been words about getting my life together.

Auburn won.  Perhaps I should say California beat California last night.  Auburn turned the ball over five times - three fumbles, one interception, and a short punt from the back our endzone, gaving them plenty of opportunities to beat us,.  Our defense was amazing and their poor kicker missed three field goals.  That poor kid lost the game for them all by himself.  If he would if he lived in Alabama, he'd have to change his name.  Out in Berkley they'll probably give him a hug and sing  a few verses of Kumbaya.

Coach Freeze'es team looked like every Auburn Team Ever.  The kids, somehow, found a way to win.  We have Samford next week, and then Georgia.  I hope we're ready.  At least both are on the Plains and we're not playing after Midnight.

I need a good, long walk tomorrow and Tuesday.  I have a Dermatology check-up Tuesday afternoon, after which we're going to Maryland for the week.

SGM called on Facetime today and wanted to talk to Granddaddy.  So Sweet.

Saturday, 9 September 2023: Football

So, I was up at 0500, hoping t see the Comet.  Overcast.  I went back to sleep.

Today is going to be a long day.  Auburn plays California tonight . . . at 2230.  What nonsense!  I want to take a nap but there is too much good football.

By "good football" I don't mean Georgia.  They're playing Ball State.  Last week, they played U Tennessee at Monroe.  Then they'll play South Carolina, then UAB, and then they'll play Auburn . . . their first conference game.  They have, by far, the easiest schedule in the SEC and probably the nation.  I hope their lacking Strength of Schedule runs them out of the top ten.

Thursday, 7 September 2023: Nothing

There ain't nothing going on around here.  

We did host Jay and family over for his birthday, last night.  Kady made a Lemon Jell-O Cake and her Chicken Enchiladas.  

Monday, 4 September 2023: The Purge

I hope purging photos is not like the Nesting Instinct.

I've been on a tear lately, getting gid of photos that I don't care about any more.  A lot of them were of people.  Bye!  

VMI, You're Next!  

I feel like I have far too many photos that don't need to live after me.  Junk.  Snap Shots.

Saturday, 2 February 2023: WdE

Jimmy Buffett Died yesterday.

Real football has begun.  Coach Prime and the Buffs were impressive  in their first game against TCU.  Most of the big teams beat their pay-to-lose opponents.  Auburn beat theres.  I felt a little sorry for UMass.  The won big last week, a solid game.  Then Auburn crushed their souls.

AU looked good, well prepared, discipline, talented.  Both QBs looked good.  Let's see how we do against California next Saturday night.

Kady made pizza today.  It was wonderful.  

I feel like if I don't go to the beach soon, I may never make it back.

Friday, 1 September 2023:  Security Upgrade

We've been having trouble locking our front door.  Looking at the door, I could tell that the screws were loose on the top hinge and that if I lifted up the door knob, it locked easily.

I only needed to tighten the screws . . . or so I thought.

I realized that the door hinges were attached to the door and frame by 1/2 inch screws.  What?  I went to Lowe's, bought some 2 1/2 inch screws, and screwed the door in place, PROPERLY!

Surprise!  It locks perfectly now, so easily that I'm going to get a smart lock and install it myself.  And . . . it is more secure.  The back door is next!

I've started watching The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.  Pretty Good.

I took this last night, probably his last photo.

Good Boy!

Thursday, 31 August 2023: Brasso

Brasco, who I lovingly called "Brasso," Jay and KS's dog, died today.  He was a good dog, a little shit of a puppy, but a good dog.  The closest I came to bonding with him was during a week while the kids were away and I was his feeder/walker.  It went well and I enjoyed playing with him, but walks were mostly out for his twice a day constitutional and then right back in.  Not much of a walker, that boy.

He was a serious fan of tug-a-war, but you had to watch your finger, lest you lose them.  He never quit!

I know Jay, KS, Em, and Jk loved him.  I feel for them.

Yesterday, I weighed in ay 226.8.  That is about 18 pounds less than I weighed in May.  I hope to be 225 by Saturday.

Very Excited for Auburn Football this Saturday.  WdE!

SGM's first official sentence came out today when she was nervous about coming down the stairs with Scout behind her.  Her mom said, "You can do it." and SGM said, "I got this."  Granddaddy is So Proud!

Tuesday, 29 August 2023: Efficiency in Routine

OK.  Better.  I think I have a routine figured out.

Today, at Kady's request, I wrote about the girls I dated in high school on Storyworth.  There is nothing like re-living your stupid youth to start your day off sadly.  I was a mess in high school.  Weren't we all though?  It's a wonder any of the girls I dated will speak to me.  Somehow, I get on with all of them just fine.  Not Couch.  Eat your heart out Couch.

Monday, 28 February 2023: Weak!

I ate like a horse yesterday.  I began the day just fine.  I went for a three mile walk before the sun came up, had Virtual Coffee with DJ, and a light Breakfast of grits, one egg, and a single piece of bacon.

Then, I began scrounging.  I finished off half a can of boiled peanuts, ate what was left of Kady's banana bread with apple butter, had a mitt-full of cashews, and then ate a Kady Supper of potatoes and Hamburger Steak with Mushroom Gravy.

I didn't even bother to add up the calories.  Needless to say, my weight this morning was going in the wrong direction. 232.4  Fuck!  It seems like every time I have some success - THAT'S when I give up.

I started today with only one cup of cereal, 210 calories.    For lunch, I had a salad and a Harb's Turkey Sandwich with Brie, 480.  After a nap (two hours), I ate supper, about 300 calories, and a cup of Earl Grey, with Lemon, of course.  Watched some Jesse Stone and wrote a Storyworth story.  Jesse Stone makes me want to write, drink, and listen to Brahms.

I need a good long walk tomorrow.

Saturday, 26 August 2023: Over It

I didn't walk this morning and I haven't had my Garmin on my wrist all day.  I think it is my way of saying that I am over the Family Step Challenge.  Get out of my fitness program, please.

I've been working on my site, corrections a few things, editing an bit, and water-marking some photos.  I think I have finally settled on a watermark.  I feel like I need to refresh all the photos on my photo pages, so they'll be standardized with the same WM . . . A LOT of work.  I began with Family.

College football starts today.  Bout Time!  Kady is down stairs making a taco dip.

She and I watched the first episode of Only Murders last night.  So Good.

25 August 2023: Old Friends 

I had a good walk this morning and weighed in at 228.4.  After, I had my Med breakfast while Kady and KS went shopping at Trader Joe's.

While I was eating breakfast, DJ came up on the net to set up a Virtual Coffee for Sunday and I texted Skip to let him know I was in town.

For lunch, Ann, KS, Jay, Kim, and I went to Smoked Kitchen.  I had pulled Pork with their Spicey Red BBQ sauce.  Acceptable.  OK.  It was really good.  

Skip got there about 30 minutes later.  After intros, the others left, leaving him and me to reminisce and catch up.  It was a good time.

As soon as I walked in the door, Ellen called to let me know that Pat Capin had passed away.  Oh, my heart, what sad news!  I adored that woman.  She was a LTC in Turkey during our second tour.  We road the same bus each morning, and lived within a few buildings of each other.  She was fun, intelligent, professional, and super attractive.  We ran into each other again in Kosovo, out of the blue, when she came to Pristina on an inspection tour of some sort.  Her husband, Ted, died a couple of years ago.  I couldn't bring myself to call her to express my condolences.

I promised Ellen that I'd come see her when I get to Arizona in February.

Thursday, 24 August 2023: Back in Virginia

Kady and I drove back home this morning, out-foxing Apple Maps, saving 15 minutes on our travel time.  That App, irritates me.

SGM cried for the first time when Kady left this morning; she is beginning to understand what that means.

Wednesday, 23 August 2023: Stuck in Maryland

I should be in the car right about now.  E has asked us, nay, told us, to stay another day until A get's home from Washington.  That's tonight.  Now we're headed home tomorrow morning.  I think.  It is a smart decision, really.  Since the murder of the girl on the Ma and Pa Trail, E's anxiety level ( and the community's ) has skyrocketed.  She doesn't feel safe going out of her back door at night.  I hope they catch this guy soon.

Yesterday, I cleaned up her pool so we can store it.  I also pressure washed the driveway to clear off the berries.  She has some kind of vine growing in her trees that drop small purple berries all over the place.  It was a mess.  It looked pretty good until the wind picked up.  Now there are berries all over the place again.

Scout is killing me.  I am super allergic to him, so my eyes itch, my sinuses are stopped-up, and I'm sneezing my head off.  Washing my hands and fave often helps and I am carrying  Allergy everywhere I go.

I'm off my weight loss game.  I've been eating like all the things and way too much of it.  I haven't weighed since Sunday morning and I'm scared to.  When I get home tomorrow, I'm prepared for a huge reality check.

A got home about 1900 and I turned all puppy duties to him.  I took a shower, hit the eye drops, and rinsed my sinuses.  Before I went back downstairs, I took a Benadryl.  Hopefully, this will get me back to Charlottesville.  No puppy time for me tomorrow morning.

Sunday, 20 August 2023: Back in MD

Kady and I drove back to Maryland, using Apple Maps for the first time.  It was a Wild Goose Chase.  It took us miles out of the way and what seemed like forever longer.  We went with it and enjoyed the scenery.

SGM got up from her nap as we came in the door, so she was in rare form.  Still the happiest baby ever, she is also in her mischievous Terrible-Twos.  She's not one to throw tantrums; she's just into everything.  She certainly has her own mind about what she wants, where she wants to be, and what she wants to do.  Her vocabulary is getting so good that she can usually tell you what she wants.

E has Scout id heavy duty training mode and he is responding well.  I see a marked improvement in his discipline.  Still, he's only 7-months old and still a puppy.  Copper didn't calm down until he was three.

Saturday, 19 Aiugust 2023: Mild Weather

I was actually too cold on my walk.  I thought about going back to the house for a sweatshirt, but decided what I needed to do was move faster.  The rest of the day has been warm, though not very.  Kady made hotdogs today at my request, and I ate mine out back on the patio.

I'm packed and ready to go.  It's a short trip, so I'm packing very light.  I got everything in my helmet bag and briefcase.  I'm taking my Chromebook and only my camera with 50mm lens.

After this trip, I hope to do Le Voyage Solitaire Deux, down the OBX, in late September.  We'll see.  The Fam will do Thanksgiving together in Maryland, is going to the beach in Delaware for New Years, and Kady and I hope to stop by Chincoteague on the way back.

Friday, 18 August 2023: Beaverdam

I drove to Beaverdam VA today to see the little railhead and rail station where JS Mosby was captured in 1862.  It wasn't much and not the original station, but the drive was nice and I took some decent photos.

I drove straight back home.

My walk this morning was better.  I took some time to warm up and stretch before leaving the house and stopped a couple of times to stretch during the walk.  Back home, I stretched my back again.  Stretching has made all the difference.

The Family Step Challenge is becoming more ridiculous by the day.  Blisters, smack-talking, dancing in circles for four hours, and walking in the middle of the night don't seem to meet the intent if you ask me.

I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing to stay fit . . . and healthy.

Tuesday, 15 August 2023: Yomping

I'm hurting.  Trying to keep up with the youngsters in this family challenge, I've walked 13 miles in two mornings.  I can't do that any more.  Today's walk was cool for the first few miles, but then the temperature and humidity began to rise.  The morning breeze stopped.  I took no water along.  By the time I got back to the house, I was in tatters.

I'm going to have to be smarter.  Tomorrow, I'm only going three miles, maybe 4.  It depends on how I feel.  Recovery!  Don't forget recovery, Neely.

Hey, Kids!  I'm Seventy!

Kady went to our Nurse Practitioner today and came home with more Antibiotics.  I hope this knocks out her sinus infection.  Poor Baby.

Monday, 14 August 2023: Family Fitness

Today began E's Family Step Challenge.  It'll last a month long and , already, it's out of control.  I've had to mute the family group text.  I doubt that I'll have a chance to win the thing, but it motivated me to KEEP WALKING this morning.  I did six miles and found myself at the top of the leader board most of the day.  E caught me about 1500, so I added a few more steps to get back above here.

Since coming home, I've done some streamlining and organizing on my computer and NAS.  I did a full format on my two external hard drives, stored one, and then backed up everything on the other, left it hooked up, and then shut it down.  I'll only turn it on to backup new files to it.  Lastly, I put most of my photos on my travel hard drive.

Today, I cleaned up my photo/people page.  I got rid of many of the photos of different people, leaving most with just one or two.  Better . . . Faster.

Kady is ill again.  She is still having sinus issues, so she's going to see our NP tomorrow.  To keep her mind off of how she feels, she is boiling peanuts right now.  I can't wait till they're done.

Saturday, 12 August 2023: Back Home, Back to My Routine

Yesterday, I got up at 0500 and weighed in at 228.  Next, I walked about three miles as soon as it was light enough.  I had eggs, grits, and bacon for breakfast.  I washed a final load of clothes while I worked on transferring my photos to my NAS.  I added a photo of Trimble to my photo site.

I chatted with my Nephew, Colin, for a bit, coordinating a shipment of my dad's Masonic things to him.  He is becoming a Mason, the first in our family since Dad, so he gets it all.  Kady packed them up for mailing. 

I rearranged my room a bit.

This morning, I  got up at 0400.  I don't know why.  I walked 4.69 miles, picked up BoJ's biscuits for Katie and me, then drove to the post office.

The Importance of a quality place to sit should never be underestimated.

Thursday, 10 August 2023: A Wet Trip Home

Kady and I drove home through the weather today.  Faced with another day  in Tennessee, sitting around and doing nothing, we chose to sit in the car for four hours and drive home.  There were lightening stikes all around us and very heavy rain at times, but we were happy to be headed home.

Tennessee was a good time and I enjoyed helping SS with his stuff.  He has a good life out there on the Farm and I know he loves it and loves his cows, but he has so much to do.  That is not the life for me.  I worked hard most of my life and now I want to take it easy.

I know I'm going to sleep well tonight.

Tuesday, 8 August 2023: Searching for Davy Crockett

Today, we went cemetery hunting before lunch.  I made sure we stopped at the little plot where David Crocket's grandparents were buried after being killed by Indians in 1777.   The old Crockett homestead stood close to this spot near the spring at Crockett Spring Park.

It doesn't look like I'll get to Crockett Tavern Museum in Morristown this trip.  I've done zero farm work for five days.  Thanks Rain!  Tonight, I helped SS fix the weed-eater, so I'll be doing that tomorrow if the sun is shining, as promised.

I added photos of Bee, Shari, my "Favorite Cadet," and Leaun and Erin, my "Favorites." to my photos site.  Miss them all.  Next, I'll add Trimble.  She should be the last.

Sunday, 6 August 2023: More Rain

I got up with every intention of working on the patio all day.  I went outside after my breakfast and began changing to my work clothes (you can do that out in the country).  It started to sprinkle.  Before I had my jeans on, it began pouring.  Now the patio area is a mud puddle again.

While I waited out he rain, I opened my people folder on my travel hard drive.  I noticed a folder titled Shows.  Inside, I found the photos that I took for Sevda of her models at a trade show in Kulture Park on 3 August 2001.  I thought I had lost them long, they are part of a great story - 

I got a call from Sevda while I was at work.  She said she needed me and my camera.  I walked out, caught a taxi to my apartment, picked up my cameras, and walked across the street to the park.

I spent the rest of the day photographing beautiful girls.

Saturday, 5 August 2023: Mornings on The Farm

Mornings here are nice.  I eat my breakfast in the silence of the morning, before the cars begin racing along the highway and the farm machinery cranks up.

This morning, I went into the fields in the Gator lookng for wild flowers.  I didn't have to go very far.  SS's fields are full of Chicory and Queen Ann's Lace.  He let me grow the Thistle until it bloomed, if I promised to chop it down.

I killed the weed eater, which means I have diddly to do today.  I didn't destroy it, I just can't get the head off of it to reload the cord.  I don't want to force it, so I'll wait for SS to get home tomorrow.  The patio project may start again tomorrow.  It's drying out nicely.

Next week, I want to go David Crockett Hunting.

Morning in a Field of Chicory

I figured out something yesterday that has simplified my website work.  I discovered that I could transfer ownership of a site to another Google account.  I immediately transferred my photo site to my main account and then deleted my photo account.  Now there will be no more switching back and forth.  The only change I had to make was to to edit the main contact form to read for my photo site and upload it.  Too Easy.

Friday, 4 August 2023: Cow Hunting, Bricks, and Trash

Last night about 2100, SS's across the road neighbor, Herman, knocked on the door.  He said he heard a cow "bawling" and thought it might be one of SS's cows.  I went out on the porch and I could hear it too, though it sounded very far off and not on SS's land.  I pulled on my Wellies, grabbed my flashlight and the keys to the Gator and went to the barn to call the cows,  I clanged the chain on the gate and they came running, all save one, Number Three.  I clanged the chain some more and she still didn't come.

Herman and I got on the Gator and went looking in the direction of the sound of the bawling.  At the top of the hill, I stopped to search with my flashlight.  Herman did the same.  While we searched, the cows came up the hill behind us - all five of them.  False Alarm.  I thanked Herman, parked the Gator, and went back inside.

Today, before it got hot, I moved bricks from the pile to the patio area.  The Patio is a mud pit, so no work there today.  I drove the electric fence line to make sure there were no limbs on it from yesterday's storm.  Then, I picked up the trash along SS's stretch of highway.  Nasty Job.  Seriously, People!  Stop Littering on America!

The sun has been out all afternoon.  Hopefully, it'll dry things off so that I can work on the patio tomorrow.  If not, I'll do some weed-eating and lopping.  I need to take my camera when I do that; SS has some wildflower fields that are incredibly beautiful.

Thursday,  3 August 2023: Glorious Rain

Rain around here means I don't have shit to do.  I get to play on my computer, watch my shows, and be with Kady (when she get's up).

Yesterday, I began building the brick patio for the picnic area.  It was hard work, made harder by doing it with no gravel or sand.  I think it is going to be OK, but I know it isn't going to be great.  The pattern that I drew out on my field journal is working nicely. Moving the bricks is a chore, made even more so by the wild life in habiting the brick piles.  There must be thousands of spiders out there.

Even if it stops raining, It'll still be too muddy to work on the patio and too wet to weed eat.  Rain is my friend.  I can still move bricks, and , really, that's the most important thing that I need to do.  Happily, It looks like it is going to rain all day and tomorrow.


Tuesday, 1 August 2023: Playing Hooky

SS left for Florida this morning laving me to organize my day on my own.  I chose to take a day off from Farming.  I went for a 4-mile walk, cooked my breakfast, wrote a story for Storyworth, took the garbage to the dump, and then worked on my photo page a bit.  This afternoon, I watched the last episode of Joe Pickett Season 1 and started Season 2.

Goofing Off after last week - The best thing EVER!

Monday, 31 July 2023: Bush-Hogging

Today, SS and I cleaned up the trails to the mountain.  He drove the bush-hog while I followed behind, lopping the overhanging vegetation and tossing logs off the trail.  It was hard work.  After, he went to finish up another trail while I did some weed-eating around the RV and house.

He'll leave for Florida in the morning, leaving me in charge for six days.  Ok, Kady will be in charge, but I'm doing the outside work.  My goal is to get my walks in early, make breakfast, work on my brick patio, and then weed-eat, each day until I'm done.  I also need to get back on my calorie counting, stretching, exercising, and weighing every day.

Sunday, 30 July 2023: Rain Day

This morning, SS and I moved the electric fencing ro give his cows access to the pasture around the RV.  The man has it set up where he only has to move a small section open up each section.

Once done, we didn't have a complete circuit, os we drove the fence line until we found the break in the wire.  Once reconnected, we were good to go.  We drove up to see the cows for a while, something he likes to do every day.

Then the glorious rain came.  Day Off?  We'll see.

Saturday, 29 July 2023: The Aesthetics of It

Today, under orders from Kady, SS and I cleaned up around the RV.  We built two new decks straddling the exit stairs, picked up all the extraneous crap and trash, and took away the old pallets and particle board.  It looks damn nice out there.

We finished in time for the mother of all thunder storms.  It felt like we were in the center of it.

Tomorrow, we're bush-hogging.

Friday, 27 July 2023: Gatlinburg

We slept in this morning and left about 0900 for Gatlinburg.  The reason for the trip was to eat at a Mexican restaurant, No Way Jose Mexican Cantina, that Kady says is "The Best."  We went the long way and got there far to late to find parking.  Traffic was horrendous and the crowds were backed up and sanding in line everywhere we looked.  It was a mess.  It looked like a fun place to play, but not in this kind of heat.  That place might be OK in winter, when the kids are in school, but not in Summer.

We opted on eating at Cheddar's, another Kady favorite place..  I had a half rack of Baby Back Ribs, mashed potatoes, and green beans.  Excellent!  Everyone else liked their food as well.  We finished with Hot Fudge Cake Sunday and three spoons.  Cheddar's for the Win!

On the way home we stopped at the new Buck-ee's.  That place is fucking Crazy. It's just a really big 7-11, but people are crazy for it.  There must have been 500 people in this store, all dodging each other the best they could.  You couldn't walk a straight line anywhere.

I don't get the draw.  I told Kady that when the next Pandemic hits, Buck-ee's is going to be Ground -Zero.

I was glad to get back to the Farm so that I could watch some Star Trek, SNW.

Thursday, 27 July 2023: Raising The Roof

After my walk, SS and I went to work on the barn.  he needed more clearance for his tractor so that he could store his hay indoors.  He hoisted me up in the front end loader bucket on his tractor while I cut through the lumber under the second beam.  It wasn't easy.  Then he put the forklift blades on the tractor and held the first beam and old boards up, while he cut through the ends of the beam.   

After that, I was done.  He stayed out there a few more hours taking old hay out of the   barn and putting in the new hay.  He's giving the old to his neighbor across the road for helping out with the baling.

No work tomorrow; we're going to Gatlinburg.

Wednesday, 26 July 2023: Coolin' It in The Shade

After my walk, I sat outside in the shade most of the day, playing on my laptop.  I cleaned up my website a bit by adding my new Neel505 icon to my "footer."  Now it will appear at the bottom of every page.  This will make it easier to change.

Kady and SS went to get some Pallets so we can refit his front entrance to the RV and this afternoon he had a contractor come out to look at the farm house which he wants to completely remodel.  It's a cute little place with a great view and will be really nice when he gets it done.

Tomorrow, I want o take the bush hog up along SS's trail up the mountain so I can go hiking there.  I'll get him to show me how to do that. 

Tomorrow morning, I think were adjusting the clearance into the Hay Barn so he can drive the tractor in and out.  Then we're going to rotate the hay, newer stuff on the inside, older stuff on the outside, so he can feed the older stuff first.

The Sky is really clear today, so I hope to do some star photography tonight.  I need to look up my settings and adjust before it gets dark. 

Today is LR's birthday.  That was a night.  Becki and I had taken Lamaze classes so, though we were young, we were prepared.   Whe she was in labor, the doctor put a monitor on Beck's stomach that let me know a contraction was coming so I could warn her, have her do her deep cleansing breath, and begin her "hes" as it built in intensity.  Becki was a champ.  When that little girl was born, I was over the moon.

The next morning, I wet in to work as if nothing had happened but mentioned to the new First Sergeant, Rock Alexander that I became a father last night.  He said, "If you're expecting some time off, you might as well forget it."  I went back in the Arms Room, bitching and moaning to Fiscus about what a shit the 1SG was.  1LT Steve Flora, the Company XO, overheard me and called me in his office.  He dressed me down for being disrespectful.  He was right!  On my way back to the Armory, Top called me back in his office for what I assumed was another ass chewing.

He had me sign my Three-Day Pass and told me to call if I needed an extension or anything from the Company.  Top Alexander, I was beginning to discover was the best of the best.  So, too, was Steve Flora.

SS came back from the Barn and told me there were Turkey behind it.  I snuck back there with my big lens and got some pretty good shots.

Tuesday, 25 July 2023: Raking the Yard

SS cut his hay on Saturday, letting it cure and dry in the sun.  Today, He and I raked it into Wind Rows for bailing.  SS didi most of the work, but taight me how to drive the tractor and let me do one of the fields.  I am not good at this, YET, so he had to go clean op my rows a bit.  OK, A Lot.  It was fun as hell but hat as that place too.

Herman, his neighbor did the Bailing.

There is no telling what he's going to have me doing tomorrow?

Monday, 24 July 2023: Ole Tennessee

After Kady's Video with her Doctor, I picked up her prescriptions.  By the time I got back to the house, the girl was ready to GO!  I threw everything into the car and off we went.  It was amazing how few trucks were on I-81 South for a Monday afternoon.  There were no slowdowns and only once did we get behind a truck passing another truck.  

Still, a guy in a Honda tried to kill us both by swerving into our lane when I was right beside him.  I moved over as close to the guard rail as I could and got on the brakes.  I do not know how I he did'n hit us.

We arrived about 1800 and went to Rogersville for Supper.  We went to El Paraiso, our fave Mex place.  I had a Steak and it was great, though I busted my max caloric numbers by "a bunch"

SS has set up an outdoor table and chairs under some trees, which I has practically moved into.  It's the nicest office ever.  Except for the occasional car driving by on Highway 70, It's quiet out here.  He and I ended the day around a fire, watching the lightning bugs twinkling in the tall grass and listening to the coyotes howling at the crescent Moon..

Sunday, 23 July 2023:  Travel Hold

Kady and I bumped our departure day until tomorrow.  She had a sick headache all day yesterday and didn't feel like packing.  She's better today.  I just finished packing myself, so it's a good thing we waited.

I had a fantastic walk this morning.  The temperature was cool, so I went for six miles.

Saturday, 22 July 2023: Getting Ready

I didn't walk today.  Today was set aside for packing my stuff for Tennessee.  I got up early, had a light breakfast, and then filled up and took the car for a wash.  I checked in with Kady to see when she was leaving to go see Barbi with the girls, and she was feeling bad.  She has a sick headache that she can't shake.  I texted KS to let her know that she and Em were on their own for the movie, Got Kady whatever she wanted or needed, and moved to the War Room.

I've been i here all day except for running to get some Excedrin and Sudafed from KS and going to Arby's for a couple of small sandwiches.

I didn't walk this morning, but I had a god long one, Thursday, and another with Kady, yesterday.  Today was supposed to be packing, but we've decided to leave when Kady is better, no earlier than Monday.+  Day Off!

I've eaten really light today.  Next week, I need to get under 230.  I've been fluctuating around there and a little over this whole week,  More exercise and less calories will do it.  I may drop my Max Daily Intake to 1100 calories next week.

After my walk, yesterday, I went to the butterfly garden at the future botanical garden and then to the bog garden.  My goal was to take photos of bees.  Eh. I got a few bugs, two bees and some good flower photos, but it was pretty much a bust.  It was hot as hell.  No fun was had.

Tuesday, 18 July 2023: New Endeavors

Today was garbage pick up, so, too, it was set up the pressure washer and clean out the garbage can.  I now have the cleanest garbage can in the neighborhood until the sanitation guys give me another one.

After listening to Ologies Podcast  episode Native Melittology (Indigenous Bees) with Krystie Hickman, I'm on a bee kick.  I asked Kady to get me a book and now I'm going to begin hunting . . . and photographing the little guys.  I'll be taking my Macro Tubes on trips from now on.

Kady surprised me today, wanting to go to Taco Bell.  It put me over my self proscribed budget but it was so worth it.  I love me some Taco Bell.

Kady and I are both feeing better and I finally got my prescription re-filled, se we are cleared to go to Tennessee on Sunday.  I have things to do there.  Kady has NOTHING to do.  It'll be a vacation for her.

I weighed in at 230.0 today.  That, my friends, is down fifteen pounds from May and ten pound in two weeks.  I have to keep this going, so NO MORE TACO BELL!  I figure that by the time I get home from Tennessee, I'll be down to 220.  County Calories and Exercise works!

My walk this morning was short.  It was smoky out at 0600 this morning.

Sunday, 16 July 2023: No Photos

It was pouring at 0800, so KS and I cancelled our shoot.  By the time it stopped raining, it was 85-degrees and 85% humidity.  I went for a "sauna walk" a little after 1000.  Mistake.  Luckily, Kim came to get me so I could go get her a Jimmy John's.  I got a Thai Chicken Wrap even though it was 720 Calories.  Highly Recommend.

Saturday, 15 July 2023: Stormy Weather

It had been storming outside all afternoon.  I could have walked this morning, but I didn't want to.  Saturday has always been my workout/running day off.

I'll walk tomorrow after photos with KS and Em.  Jay and I are taking them to a Butterfly garden for Mom and Daughter Photos.  I'm taking my Canon A-1 along, loaded with 400TX.  Maybe I'll shoot some film tomorrow.  It's been a while.

Friday, 14 July 2023: Fam Time

Kady and I went to Jay's house for supper.  Kady made Chicken Enchaladas.  They watched a movie after.  I dorve back over when the were finished to get Kady.  Big Storm.

Tonight, I went over to watch Em, while Jay and KS had a date night.  Jake was there.  The boy is sixteen.  He needs to start babysitting his sister for cash!

I was down to 131 this morning.

Wednesday, 12 July 2023: The Pig

There were three things on my One-Thing-a-Day Pig this morning, so I thought I' best knock them out early. I took a 6-mile walk at 0630.  After my shower and a light breakfast, I secured the new path lights out front by sinking them completely into the ground.  Next, I removed the two screens that the HOA said we needed to replace and took them to Charlottesville Glass and Mirror.  They'll repair one and build another to replace the worst one.

The last thing on my list was getting my prescription sorted out.  I left another message.  Still no movement.

KS, EM and I are taking photos on Sunday morning.

Tuesday, 11 July 2023: Prime Day

Kady's getting me a new Pressure Washer.  With a pressure washer, I can clean the neighborhood trash cans.  That's not by design.  I'll clean mine and then the garbage guys bring me someone else's can.  It's funny actually.  See, the cans belong to the company, so we don't have our own.  Every Tuesday, the guys roll them around to the truck and are not particular about where which one goes where when they return them.  I just think of it is my community service.  Besides, I love pressure washing.

I'm also getting some Pixel Buds.  All Things Google!

Tonight, Jay has asked me to take some professional headshots for the office.  OK.  I'm going all-out, as is my way.  I hung my black backdrop over my window, brought up a bar stool, set up my studio lights, and did a few test shots on myself.  Holy Cow!  I'm fat!  That's OK.  I'm going to lose 33 more pounds by December.  Jay's coming over after work.  I'll post a shot that I like here, if this all works out.  Now, KS says she wants some too.  Headshots.  Not my Fave, but maybe if I do an acceptable job, it will interest Jay in something . . . More.  KS is always up for photos.  It's about finding the time.

The shoot went pretty well.  My photos were technically solid but I'm not enthused by this type of photography.  The kiddos, I think, were tired from working all day and seemed to be in check-the-block mode.  We took the photos, got a few that "would do," and called it a night.  I'm sure Jay didn't choose this one, it's my Favorite.  KS and I agree - this is the best one of her.

Though these photos won't go on my photo site, way too Olan Mills for that, they sure are pretty people.

Monday, 10 July 2023 Big Week

This is going to be a telling week in my weight loss/fitness program.  I'll have seven full days of eating light, eating healthy, pushing out my distance, and working out, without interruptions.  Kady and I started it off with a 3.3 mile walk this morning at 5.  It was muggy as hell and already in the 70s, but it had to be done.  She's doing another Online Step Challenge which motivates her.  She hates to loose.

I'm still boycotting Tennis until they do right by my player, Simona Halep, BUT, this morning, we watched a little 16-year-old Russian girl, Mirra Andreeva, almost beat Madison Keys.  Madison pulled it out in the third set for the win, but Andreeva was fun to watch.  I think she'll go far.  Watch her.

Sunday, 9 July 2023: Virtual Coffee

DJ and I met on FB Messenger this morning for a Virtual Coffee.  It was good to catch up with here and hear bout all the positive things going on in her life right now.  She's in her last week of work at her thankless job, just received 80% disability from her service related injuries, finishing up on a legal thing by the end of the month, and working on getting educational benefits  so she can get back in to school and work on her DPT.  Excellent.  She's working on her weight and has already lost enough for me to see the changes in her pretty face.  This all makes me happy.  Perhaps there is a photo session in the future,

I'm cheering for her.

I need to do more Virtual Coffees with my  people.

I put the shelves back on my desk last night.  I liked the viewing angle on my monitor better with out them, but missed the storage and organization they give me.  It took a while, but helped me work off some energy.  Counting Calories continues to work well.  I'm down to 232 this morning.  I can only guess, but I think I should see even more gains when I begin walking more and lifting next week when I feel better.  Today, though, I'm taking a Day Off.  Kady and I are going to Wendy's or Burger King for burgers.

I continue getting better, but Kady is suffering.  I think I must have been infected before her by a few days.  My almost completely gotten over my cough and sinus congestion.  I don't feel as weak, that's for sure.

Virtual Coffee with This Girl

Saturday, 8 July 2023: Feeling Alright

I got a good night's sleep last night, no coughing, trouble breathing, or sneezing.  I had a good walk this morning.  I feel a lot better.  Maybe we're getting past this gunk.

Friday, 7 July 2023: The Bug

Hoo Lawd!  I feel like shit and Kady me be even more ill.  I still went for a 3 mile walk this morning and my weight loss program is paying off.  I'm down to 234.2 pounds as of this morning.  Counting calories id the way to go.  I chose 200 as my target weight I multiplied that by 12, giving me a maximum daily caloric intake of 2400.  I've been eating about half that for three days.  I weighed after I got home from E's house - 240.  That wasn't as bad as I thought.  We ate a lot and got little exercise while we were there.

Somehow, the girl found the strength to cook pizza today.  It was GREAT!  After, I watched "Sissypants" beat "Murphy" at Wimbledon and the took a nap.  I'm still boycotting Tennis until Simona Returns.  Free Simona!

After a nap, I felt tons better.  My cough is almost gone, the sniffles are only a drip, and I have only sneezed once.  I still feel tired, but the nap helped that as well.  This afternoon, I watched a Jack Ryan and the most recent episode of Strange New Worlds.  I need some Dragons and Spaceships!  Come on John Snow.  I guess it's too much o ask for an Expanse spin-off.

Thursday, 6 July 2023: A Little Relief

Kady and I are Back Home, safe and sound.  The trip seemed longer because we are both "under the weather."  We have sinus issues and a hacking cough, but being in our house makes everything better.  Once here, I knocked out my to-do things and had it all done before bed time.  A shower, in MY Shower is always the best part.  Coming in a close second is crawling into my bed.

Last Week was so much fun.  We took some walks, Scout and I went on a RECON, we had some great food, and SGM was a pleasure to be around.  She's so smart and the happiest child.  Even at bedtime, she's chipper, waving and saying good night to everyone as  she heads to her room.

My Appointment with Dr. Vance went well.  There was no sign of a re-growing critter in my brain-housing-group.  I  answered all of her other questions to her satisfaction.  She wants yearly checkups and another MRI in "3 t0 5 years."  I figure I;ll deal with that when I come to it. 

She many not be around in 3 to 5 years.  She looked really frail and shaky.

Monday, 3 July 2023: Pre-Independence Day

Andy has to fly back to school tomorrow morning, so we did the 4th of July today.  We had a pool party out back, drank a few beers, and then ate burgers.  Savvy had no interest in the pool.  Elise's summer mix of music was shit.  It will never compare to mine.  It was a lovely day.

This morning, Scout's groomer gave him a bath and haircut.  He looks like a different, smaller dog.  He smells a lot better, too.  We were supposed to go walking, but that never happened.

We played cards last night.  I felt better with Andy handling Scout, but my brain was not ready to play cards.  We played Wizards, and I rarely made my bid.  Oh, Wait, I hardly ever have.  So, no change.

I'll start loading the car tomorrow.

Saturday, 1 July 2023: MIserable

I just took a shower and I still feel like I'm covered in dust.  My eyes are killing me.  I'm guessing it's the smoke in the air and my allergic reaction to Scout.  I may, also, have what SGM had a few days ago.  I need to get back home to my house, Safe from Doggy Kisses.

Thankfully, Andy came in from school for the weekend.  I handed him my Scout-watching duties as soon as he walked in the door.  I'm done for the day.

I finished The Bear Season 2.  Damn, what a great show.

Friday,  30 June 2023: Smoke

For the last two days, we've stayed inside most of the day because of the poor air quality.  Canada still burns.  I have to walk Scout, so I'm out in it way too much.  Add that to my allergic reaction to Scout.  I had a horrible night last night.  My throat felt like it was swollen shut and I could hardly breathe.  Today, I had Kady pick me up some saline spray for my nose and tome throat lozenges, Elise gave me her Claritin, and we put some masks on order.

The smoke is THICK here; I can feel it on my skin.  We're supposed to get more rain tonight.  Hopefully, it'll knock most of this stuff out of the air.

I just realized, today, that Hulu dropped the whole season of The Bear.  Yay!  I did another episode today while the girls went shopping.  I'll probably watch one each night before I go to bed.

I made a personal website for my travel plans.  I have some great ideas for Tennessee when we get there on the 12th.  There are three battlefields, two waterfalls, and two parks that I want to see.  There is also a Longstreet Museum. not far from SS's house.  A comes home tomorrow for a four-day weekend.

Wednesday, 28 June 2023: Susquehanna State Park

I like Garth Brooks.  He's made some really good Country Music.  This morning I saw on his Twitter feed that he was starting a paid Country Music Station called the Big 615 on  Dolly was plugging it on her Twitter feed.  I thought, Ok, Let's check this out.  The very first song played was Picture by  Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow.

Nope, NOT Country. 

Sucks to be you Big 615.  If I want to hear Pop Music, I'll just tune in to the local "country" station on my radio.

Why in the hell would I pay for crap that I can get for free over FM?  Instead, I'll keep streaming Real Music on Amazon.

SGM slept in this morning.  She had a rough night last night.  Scout and I are the only ones up until after 0800, and it was a welcome break.  I made myself breakfast after taking him out and feeding him.  It was glorious.

In the afternoon, I took Scout to Susquehanna State Park.  It is a beautiful place.  We saw Confederate General James J. Archur's House, a welcome surprise up here in Maryland.  The Old Mill is cool as is the view along the river, but the park is pretty run down.  Scout and I walked the old rail bed between the river and the canal and it needs a LOT of work.  The Canal was a slimy mess, which means BUGS!  The bugs were oppressive.  Once back in the car, we drove to the Picnic Area and the Camp Ground.  Both looked unkept.  It looked like all of the picnic tables were rotting.  Strangely, every table in the picnic area was sitting out in the sun, nowhere close to the trees.  Who wants to picnic in the middle of an open field in Summer?

I would go back to walk some of the other trails, but I'd go in the late fall or early spring.  The humidity out there today was pretty thick.

Scout enjoyed the AC on the way back to the house.  The boy needs a summer trim.

I figured out that I could sit out in the yard, under the shade of the trees, and still get wifi from the house.  Scout and I sat out there a while today, to get out of his mom's restrictive house.

The poor boy gets in so much trouble there.  While we were out there, she yelled at him from the door for digging a hole.  When she went in, I told him to go dig where she couldn't see him.

That's what good granddads do, Right?

We've been watching Limitless with Chris Hemsworth.  It's a motivating show and very informative.  It is clear that I need to work on my fitness.  I'm not his age, but I ain't dead yet.

Scouts going to Puppy Day Care tomorrow and the Air Quality Index is terrible for this part of the USA.  E and A have a nice Gym in the basement.  Perhaps this is a way to get going.

Tuesday, 27 June 2023: A Day Off

Scout went to Puppy Day Care today.  Whew!  The house is So Quiet!  I've taken the morning to write in my Storyworth account.  To make the day even better, E and I went on post to fetch my Keurig from the travel trailer.  I just had a proper cup of coffee rather than their foo-foo Nespresso crap.

SGM has a little cough and looks like she doesn't feel well.  I'm guessing that Scout is at Puppy Day Care because E doesn't need any of his shit today.  He's a lot.

Kady had groceries delivered so I have my favorite things to eat for a change.  I had My cereal for breakfast, then My yogurt with My granola.  Tomorrow I'm making My bacon, grits, and egg breakfast.  Things are much needed if I'm going to stay here for this long a period.

I thought about buying a charger and batteries for my Nikon but changed my mind.  I need to suffer some more so that I don't forget.

We had some serious thunderstorms in the afternoon.  It sounded like an Arc Light Mission out there.

Monday, 26 June 2023: Annie's Playground

This morning, the four of us went to Annie's Playground and Park.  There is a really nice trail there.  We walked about three miles, though, in the heat and high humidity, it felt like a lot more.

The playground is amazing.  It was built to memorialize a little 6-year-old girl, Annie Cumpston, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2003.

My photos from this trip will all be with my Pixel 6.  Why?  Well, though I brought my Camera Equipment in my Camera Backpack, I left my Camera Battery plugged in on the left side of my desk.  Brilliant Move, Neely.  Rather than buying another battery and charger, I've decided to punish myself.

Kady made a delicious meal of grilled chicken, a nice salad, bread, and Cous-Cous for supper. 

I keep looking, longingly, at the weather in Charlottesville.  It is perfect there.  It is hot a muggy up here.

Sunday, 25 June 2023: Maryland

We made it to Maryland yesterday by 1300.  The backroads were busy but safer.  I always enjoy the trip driving AROUND Washington and Baltimore.

SGM and Scout greeted us at the door.  You could almost register the relief on E's face.  Scout, though still a puppy, is already Coopper's size.  He's going to be huge.  

I'm glad we're here but the weather is horrible.  When it is not pouring rain, it is hot and muggy like a sauna out there.  We had some pretty strong thunderstorms in the evening.

We had Chili's delivered.  I had Shrimp Fajitas, a mistake.  It was NOT good.

Today, E, SGM, Scout, and I walked on the Ma and Pa Trail.  What a nice place.  It reminds me of the Chessie Trail in Lexington.  Today's forecast was rainy but it turned out to be a nice day.  It only rained for about an hour.  I was napping and only barely aware that it was.  Good Sleeping Weather!

I'm pretty sure Scout thinks that I exist solely for his pleasure.  I'm to walk him on order, feed him when it's time, and clean up after him.  I'm there to act as his fall guy when he does something he KNOWS he is not supposed to do.  Yeah, I'm his little bitch.

We had My Three Son's pizza for dinner.  It was only OK.  They need to work on their dough.  I think we're too far north, too close to New York.

Friday, 23 June 2023: Ready to Go

I got in a little walk this morning before it began raining again.  It felt good to be out of the house and out there getting some exercise.

I'm finished packing and ready to go.  E sent me a text saying "Come get your grand dog; he's driving me crazy."  I'm on my way, Daughter!

We'll probably get out of here by 0800, stopping only for Bojangles biscuits.  That should put us at E's house bt 1300.  We're taking the backroads - safer, more fun, and more beautiful.

Thursday, 22 June 2023: Rain

Ok, It has been raining for three damn days.  I have serious cabin fever.

This morning, first thing, I checked the mouse traps.  Nothing.

Next, I reset my Desktop . . . again.  Something was slowing it down.  After the reset, I made sure Edge was not associated with my Google account, streamlined the OS by deleting a bunch of bloatware, loaded Chrome and signed in to my Google accounts, updated Windows, and then ran a stress test.  I ran Dell Support Assist and loaded VLC, ASUSTOR, and Photoshop Elements.  The final phase was signing in to my accounts, with Kady's help to get by the two-factor authentication.

Everything seems to be running smoothly.

It's Thursday, so I watched Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and The Bear.  SNW was much better than last week  The Bear was great.

Kady made Gnocchi and Crispy Bean Taquitos for lunch.  Oh My!  I'm a fan.  There are a few more Taquitos left and I'm going to sneak downstairs and eat them all.

We're headed to Maryland this Saturday.  I'm taking the Camera.

Wednesday, 21 June 2023: House Mouse

About two weeks ago, I went for a new package of Key Lime M&Ms and found one that had been chewed by something or someone.  Checking the area (the utility/fire suppression closet) we found little mouse poo all around.  Kady cleaned up the low-lying areas and found more droppings under the sink, in the pantry cabinet, and in the drawer under the stove.  She put out peppermint oil which is supposed to drive mice away, but we decided to, also, call in a pro.

Orkin came today, did some checking, and placed some traps in the fire closet.  The waiting begins.

It is another dreary day here in Charlottesville, so it is doubtful that I'll walk again today.  I NEED a walk but the weather radar shows rain all day today and tomorrow.

Maybe I can do some editing on my page.

Happy Summer Solace!  My goal was to borrow Dad's sundial from Jay, set it up, and photograph it for a story about it that I want to write.  But, No.  There is no sun, Jay never got back to me, and I can't find Dad's diagram and calculations.  

This is the sundial at Montpillier.

Tuesday, 20 June 2023: Stormy Weather

The weather was stormy yesterday.  We had a little wind damage across the street, but mostly we just got a lot of thunder and a lot of rain.  Kady and I were able to get in a short walk before.  It could have been a long walk, but I had a small stomach issue.  We had to hurry back home.

We're getting ready for another trip to Maryland for Independence Day.  I'm looking forward to time with my daughter, granddaughter, and Scout.  A will be in school.  I've made a list of things I want to see and photograph in the area, using Google Travel.  Scout better be ready to go driving.

It rained a lot more today but cleared up about 1800.  I fed the birds and then fixed the garden butterfly, the only thing blown down in our yard yesterday.

We were supposed to have an exterminator come look at our mouse issue.  Without letting us know, they rescheduled for tomorrow morning.  Thanks for wasting our afternoon.  Companies don't do common sense customer relations anymore.

I watched the last episode of The Bear again, getting set for the premiere of season 2 this Thursday.  I'm excited.  I think it is one of the only shows that rates up there with Ted Lasso.

Sunday, 18 June 2023: Father's Day

I got up at 6 am and made grits and eggs.  I mixed them up just like Bawpaw taught me when I was a little boy.  It is still my favorite breakfast.  Kady was up early and I took her a power drink and a yogurt for her breakfast and then went out for my walk.  I was a little late getting out there, so I only did 4 miles.  It was pretty hot by the time I got back to the house.  Kady made a sausage, onion, and potato dish for lunch.  Amazing.

For Father's Day, she gave me a subscription to Storyworth where each week, she chooses the questions, I write a story, and at the end of the year, they print a book and send it to her.  The first question was - "What was your mom like when you were a child?"  Once I finish stories there, I'll probably include them on my Stories page.

Saturday, 17 June 2023: Katy Day - 2

I snuck out of the house early this morning to bring Bojangles back for Kady.  Breakfast in bed.  This isn't the best I can do, but what she'd prefer.  She's never been a fan of my Scrambled Egg Surprise and the mess I make in the kitchen when I make French Toast is pretty terrible.  I was a little early getting back, so I woke her up.  OOPS!

For the rest of the day, I stayed out of her hair - mostly - letting her do what she wanted to do.  She sat outside with me while I ate lunch.

Friday, 16 June 2023: Kady Day - 1

I took Kady to lunch for her birthday.  Ok, she drove, picked the place, and used her card to pay the bill, but I asked.  We went, art her request, to Timberwood Grill.  I had their Turkey Bree Sandwich and fries.  Everything was super.

Back home and after the first thunder storm, she let me take her photograph..  I'm not sure how I convinced her.  We got a few shots that she liked.  This is the one she liked best.

Tomorrow is her birthday.

Thursday, 15 June 2023: Wiped Out and Cleaned Out

I went for a 5-mile walk before going to Goodwill.  It was hot.  By the time I got back to the house, I was dehydrated and wrecked.  I have to start earlier and carry water.  after a Liquid IV, I went to Goodwill with a carload of things I never use.  My War Room seems so much less cluttered.  Next, I worked off my task list, had lunch with Kady, took a shower, and began reading.  I was out like a light after one paragraph.  It was almost seven when I awoke.

I watched Star Trek" Strange New Worlds.  It was only OK.

Wednesday. 14 June 2023: Gleaning

I'm clearing out a lot of shit from the War Room - shoes, Estes rockets, flags, computer parts, a big camera bag, and storage bins.  I'm giving up my Turk saz and the mandolin.  I'm looking really hard at the VMI retirement clock, but don't think Kady will let me get rid of that.  I'll take it all to Goodwill tomorrow.

Kady made a really nice shrimp and pasta dish today.  It was wonderful.  I get more tomorrow as leftovers, which I'm really looking forward to.  I got the trigger lock off of A's Remington 870 today.  It was easier than I thought it would be.  Nice firearm.

Tuesday, 13 June 2023: Deep in the Woods

Kady and I walked to the Lake today, along the Church path through the woods.  We went back home along the roads.  While walking, I noticed a place near a stream where I could sit in the woods with my long lens to wait for some wildlife to show up.  After some water and a little rest, I went back, taking my stool, monopod, and all of the camera things.  Once I was stationary, the birds began coming back.  I could hear them, but only caught fleeting glimpses of them in the distance.

The only bird that wanted to be photographed was a robin who had a little drink and bath in the steam.  A Robin.

Kady and I cooked burgers on the grill for lunch.  The little sparrow came back.  I'm calling this googly-eyed, speckled little dude with the racing stripes on his head a Song Sparrow.  Is it?  No Clue

Note: It just occurred to me that writing here is like talking to a therapist.  I can get things off my chest, think through situations and anxieties, and formulate solutions and strategies.  I can do all this without killing people.  A Plus!

Sunday, 11 June 2023: Crows

I finally broke 238 pounds this morning.  I weighed in at 237.0.  It had to be my 6-mile walk on Saturday.  OK.  Let's go.

My bird feeder, somehow, defeats squirrels.  The birds are beginning to find it, but the squirrels feed under it.  I thought that I'd feed them by putting some feed in a wooden planting tray.  I placed that on the back wall.

Kim called downstairs about an hour later o point out that I had crows.  Sure enough, four crows were feasting away in my tray.  I shooed them away and put the tray back in the shed.

So far, I've only seen a sparrow, a house finch, and a titmouse.  

Saturday, 10 June 2023: Six Miles 

My walk today didn't hurt.  The Weather was perfect.  I kept going.  Before I knew it, I was at five miles, with a little less than one more to go to get home.  It felt so good.  I listened to the Ologies Podcast with Alie Ward.  This episode was on the Ecology of Fire, a good refresher of my college ecology courses, but still very interesting.

E sent me a reminder that today is the 6th year anniversary of the Naked Asian Attack - Good Times in Newport News on 10 June 2016.

Thursday, 8 June 2023: Air Quality Index

Charlottesville's high AQI made the New York Times tonight.  Outside, you could smell the smoke.  We stayed inside.

I took coffee and biscuits over to Jay's this morning.  Like I told KS, she and I didn't have a chance to say two words to each other.  Next time, we're going out, just us, where can sit and talk, quietly.  We really are good friends but rarely see each other.  We need some Father-in-law/Daughter-in-law time.  

Wednesday, 7 June 2023: Out Back

Kady has finished her patio garden, complete with a birdbath and sprinkler.  It's small but beautiful.  My lemon trees are getting pretty big and Kady's are coming up.  We added some Marigolds today to help the Lavender repel the mosquitos and no-see-ums.

My birdfeeder had its first visitor today, a titmouse, while I was outside on my computer.  Now, if he'll just tell his friends.

We didn't walk this morning because of the air quality.  Damn Canadians.  It cleared by the afternoon.

Tuesday, 6 June 2023: Jk's Birthday

My grandson turned sixteen today.  What a great moment for him.  I remember turning 16 as the day that I Arrived.  As soon as I had my driver's license, I was GONE!  I hope Jk has the same kind of experience.  We ate 5-Gys at his request, Kady brought the requisite 1 & 6 Balloons, and his dad had a very delicious cake. 

I tried to have a fun moment with Jake about carrying on the Neel family name, but nooooo.  I'm not allowed to do that.  Because it wasn't my house and because it was Jk's birthday party, I took it and kept my cool.  I fucking hate being interrupted.

Avoidance is my next strategy, lest I blow a gasket.

Monday, 5 June 2023:  BJJ

I had Em watching duties tonight.  She wanted to watch Jay at Ju Jitsu, which lasted all of about ten minutes.  I entertained her with a walk, riddles,, bad jokes, and tongue twisters.

She's very smart.

The weekend went by fast.  Hell, I don't remember it.

It's Jk's Birthday tomorrow. KS comes home Wednesday.  I'm taking biscuits and coffee over there Thursday morning.  Kady's Birthday is coming up next week.

Friday, 2 June 2023: Montpelier

Kady and I went to James and Dolly Madison's Montpelier. today.  We strolled the grounds and walked one of the trails, taking photos and enjoying the beauty and quiet.

My goal is to see all the presidential stuff here in Virginia.  I told Kady that our next stop should be Woodrow Wilson's home and library in Staunton.  I also want to go see Mount Vernon.  I haven't been there since I was a Kid.  Then, there is Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest in Lynchburg.

Berkeley Plantation, the home of Benjamin Harrison (signer of the Declaration of Independence) and his son William Henry Harrison (9th President) is close to Petersburg on the James River.  Tenth President John Tyler's Sherwood Forest Plantation is between Richmond and Williamsburg.

There is a marker where Zachery Taylor was born, just this side of Gorgonsville.  I can't believe that I have missed that, as many times as I have been to Gordonsville.When we got home, I put up my bird feeder and installed my new blinds in the War Room.  Tomorrow - A Squared Pizza with Extra Pepperoni.

Thursday, 1 June 2023: A Beautiful Day

Kady and I walked around Arbor Lake this morning after the air-conditioner guy, Frank, did his monthly check on our system.  There were three families of geese there.  They were a little pissed when we tried to pass their chicks, blocking the sidewalk at its narrowest part.  A Redwing Blackbird lit on a bush just feet away from us.  Gorgeous!

I moved out back as soon as we got home.  I set up my computer and speaker, and put my music on my phone.  Today is a Cat Stevens day.

I cooked John's Steak out on the grill today.  Kady did all the prep, baked some potatoes and Broccoli, and came out to supervise.  Of course, everything I did, she would have done differently.  Somehow, they turned out great.

I had Em watching duty tonight while Jay went to Ju-Jitsu.  She played outside the whole time while I watched the last two episodes of Ted Lasso.  I liked the ending but I hate that it ended.

Wednesday, 31 May 2023: Sunset on the Blue Ridge

Yesterday, after my walk and workout, I drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway to photograph the sunset.  I parked at Raven's Roost Overlook, one of the more popular stops.  It began to get very crowded as the time got closer.  I thought about going to another spot but I had a good position along the wall, so I stuck it out.

I made some beautiful shots.

This morning, I messaged Google Fi customer support, canceling my request for service and my request for a phone number transfer.   It took a while.   After she consulted with the experts, I had to tell the little girl on the other end how to fix the problem to unlock my account.

I won't be trying that again.  I'll just have to live with the Xfinity-Verison late update shit.

I have far too much time on my hands.  I need to build something.

Monday, 29 May 2023

I went to Jay's yesterday morning to walk Brasso.  Jay was away until later that 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 started Sunday.  I may as well be single when it's on.  Kim is such a  tennis fan.  Me?  I'm boycotting pro tennis over the Simona Halep fiasco.  The ITA should be ashamed!  #freesimona

I've moved back to Fi.  Xfinity was fine, but Verison, their cell service provider, has not been issuing security updates to my phone in a timely manner.  As of yesterday, I had not received the May update which Google released on 5 May.  It seems, from reading, that Verison has something against the Pixel 6.  I am hoping that Fi does a better job. 

I'm waiting for Verison to release my phone number.

I took down my site yesterday. I put it back up today.  I'm such a flake.  Up or down, either way, no one reads the thing.  That's fine . . . it's for me.

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

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.

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.

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, Mr. Sleep Brain, "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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