Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Summertime Blues and Broken Records

I know I sound like a broken record but dang….another week of summer gone. Can’t complain about the weather we been getting though…it’s been sunny and warm most every day. I could handle this for the rest of my days easily, who needs 4 seasons anyhow?

Today is / was Jennette's 22nd birthday. Hard to believe that she's an old married lady with kids. Hope ya had a good day kiddo....maybe we can get together for the 23rd one.

This past week was pretty much a quiet one. I spent a couple evenings working on my little cooking cabinet project for the campsite, did some dog walking at dusk and tried to make the most of the warm summer evenings while they’re here.

For the weekend we headed up to the compound once again. Wanda and Chris took off during the afternoon, I left about 5:45 and pulled into camp right at 7:00. We had our traditional Friday evening camp meal of hamburgers and chips. After dinner I putzed around camp a bit until the light gave out on us. The days are already getting shorter and in the woods it gets dark quick once the sun goes down. Wanda and Chris were in bed by 10:30 leaving me, Mercury and Bailey to tend the fire and stand watch. It was a clear, cool evening and the stars were out in full force. You could easily see the Milky Way stretching across the sky. Used to be the only time I got to see that was when we were up at Wilderness for our one week a year trip. I miss not having been up there the last 3 summers, but it is nice having the same view a bit closer to home and more accessible.

Saturday morning I got up around 8ish and took a couple dogs out for a stroll around the grounds. Had a quick breakfast of cereal and juice when we got back and then jumped right into it with the weed whacker and went fern hunting. Once that battle was taken care of the next thing on the list, the project for the weekend actually, was to finish taking care of the brush pile from last year. I broke out the chain saw, put the newly sharpened blade on it and got to cutting fireplace length logs. With Chris helping me we got the bulk of it done Saturday and Sunday, after they’d headed for home, I finished up. Got all the wood stacked, the brush in a pile, ready for future fire starting and raked up the debris that was left into a compost pile.

We worked on the brush pile until about 3:00 and then decided it was time to take a little ride into town to get the hardware I needed to finish up the Cooking cabinet. Along with a stop at Home Depot we also hit the Dairy barn in Scottville before heading back to camp. Before I had completed attaching the doors and the latches to the cabinet Wanda had supper ready. Steaks grilled over the fire and corn on the cob. A good meal. After the feast I finished up the cabinet and pretty much called it a day as far as working goes. Me and the wife went up to the lodge and got an ice cream cone for desert and then went back to camp and played some of the goofy dice game she taught me. It wasn’t quite as clear and cool as the night before but the stars were still out in force and I spent awhile with my neck twisted back, looking up at the billions of little twinkling lights.

Sunday morning I woke up and was pissed. I must’ve been tired from Saturday’s efforts cuz when I came to and looked at the clock it was after 10! Damnit…I’d missed by early morning dog walk and breakfast was late also. I got busy and fried up some sausage and made pancakes for myself and the dogs. By the time I had things cleaned up and put away from breakfast it was about time for Wanda and Chris to head out for town. I saw them off and then went back to the brush pile and finished that up like I said earlier. By the time I was done with that project and had put everything away, packed up and locked up it was about 5:00. Days go by so fast there it’s just not fair. I was not ready to go home yet, but I got Bailey and Merc in the truck, locked the gate and headed for town. Once we got home I did the usual Sunday night stuff and then it was time for bed.

It looks to be like it’s gonna be 3, maybe 4 weeks before we get up to camp again. I’ve got a big car show weekend coming up this weekend (Wayland and Grand Haven) and the next weekend is Coast Guard Festival. I’d thought about skipping the festivities in town and going up to camp for the weekend but Wanda is leaving for a week that Sunday morning early for band camp to be a Chaperon so it doesn’t make much sense to go up for one day. The next weekend is the Coopersville Cruise and Car show, Friday and Saturday. She’ll be coming home that Saturday and then the next weekend after that will already be August 18th / 19th. I guess it’s true about time waiting for no man, it’d be nice if it’d just slow down a bit though……

Time for sleep.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

a Frustrating Week

This past week has been a less than ideal one for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the ole “Too much month and not enough money”. It’s been a tight squeeze to get things kept up since the layoff last February. Even though I wasn’t off long it was long enough to put us behind the 8 ball and with the new job being a salary position there isn’t any overtime these days to help us catch up like there was at Nowak last year.

The capper this week was when I found out that the wife’s bank, which I’m using now to pay bills thru her account, screwed up the electronic transfers they were suppose to make with my deposits and stuff that I thought was paid a month turns out never got paid, the money never got sent out. So I got a nasty phone call or two and now I’ve got late charges to deal with on top of the usual crap. I’m beginning to become a bit irritated with these folks attitudes that I’m doing business with….Since February I’ve asked for some help from a couple places and have pretty much been told to go screw myself, sink or swim. So much for customer service I guess. The whole late charge thing cracks me up cuz hey, if I’m late with a payment, especially given our past excellent credit rating, then there’s a problem. The banks answer to that is to slap you with late charges, which is tantamount to throwing a drowning man a brick.

I guess it’s just the way it is these days but it still cranks me. Several years when these loans were initiated gas wasn’t 3+ bucks a gallon, nor was my monthly gas bill what it is nowadays…….approximately 70 bucks more a month than it was this time last year. Add in increases in car insurance, the rest of the utilities and damn near everything else and we no longer have the cushion that we planned on. All these pirates raising the cost of breathing every time you turn around is making it difficult. I guess the answer is to not buy anything unless it can be done with cash in hand, but that’s not very realistic given the way things are set up to function these days.

Awww well, that’s enough whining for now. Another 30 years or so and it probably won’t matter anyhow. It’s not like anybody can do anything about it or even cares…….we’ve all got problems and I dare say there’s a lot of folks out there a whole lot worse off than we are. Our situation is temporary and it will get better. Of course, life itself is temporary too so I’m hoping the situation here get’s better before life proves how temporary it is…….

This past weekend was spent at home for the most part. I had planned on doing the Zeeland car show Saturday, but when I got up at 7:00am it was raining so that pretty much put the kibosh to the car show. By early afternoon though it had cleared up. The second part of the plan for the day was to head to Berlin for the first (and probably only) time this year to shoot some pics, but then Chris decided he wanted to go along so the camera stayed home and we sat in the stands instead of hanging out in the pits as planned. I didn’t want to say no to him if he wanted to come with me. I’m well aware at this point in life how fast kids grow up and leave home so a chance to hang out with my last kid was more important than the pics…..I can get them some other time. It was a fun evening. We ate stale popcorn, drank over-priced pop and watched the racing. I miss going as often as I used to go, but there just ain’t time or money to be everywhere I want to be…… it was after midnight by the time we got back home. I stayed up for awhile before calling it a day.

Sunday was kinda the culmination of the whole week’s worth of frustration. I slept in too long, sat around until noon in a pissy mood and then decided to go out in the garage and work on the cooking cabinet for the campsite. By the time Wanda took off and I was as far as I could go with the project it was 3:30. I wandered around the house for awhile, ate an early supper and then decided to take Mercury and Bailey for a walk from downtown out to the end of the pier and back. I parked the truck at the “Y” and we strolled out to the pier. It was a nice sunny, fairly warm evening and there were people everywhere. The boys got quite a bit of attention from people who wanted to pet ‘em or ask questions about Mercury’s coloring. They were both very well mannered and made me proud when I saw other people and their dogs pulling on their leashes, barking and being generally unruly. I’m always glad to see those people who can’t discipline their animals don’t have children. By the time we got back home from the walk it was a bit after 8:00. The walk had cleared my head a little bit and so I decided to take the hot rod around town one time too before giving it up for the day. Merc went with me for the cruise and hung his head out the window, ears flapping in the breeze the whole way thru town.

After getting back I sat out on the swing for awhile and talked to Jennette on the phone. Friday had been Jason’s 1st birthday. Jennette’s is the 24th and Ryan’s is in September. Not to mention the #3 munchkin that’s due any day now. Don’t even get me started about grandkids and how far away they are……that’s just something else I can’t do anything about. Such is life.

A side note before I say goodnight…..

I just found out that George McCorkle, guitar player for the Marshall Tucker Band, succumbed to cancer a couple weeks ago. The MTB was one of my all time favorite bands. I’ve seen them at least a dozen times and have spent countless hours with their music in my ears. It’s not like he was a relative but it’s still a sad thing to know he’s gone before his time. He was 60, not all that far away from where I stand today. I spent awhile reading the guest book entries from people all over the planet and signed in myself. I’d guess he finally found that rainbow he always sang about searchin’ for……..



Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Working Vacation

Well as I figured it’d be, it was a very quick week that just passed by. I did my two days at work, although neither one of them was a full day….got sent home early both days so they could turn off the lights and shut off the air compressor. I was out of there Tuesday afternoon by 2:15 and went straight home to load up the truck with tools and dogs and headed out of town about 3:30pm.

Wanda beat me to camp and had things opened up by the time I got there about 5:00pm. We set about getting things organized and then had to make a run to Bonsers for groceries so we could fill up the fridge with needed items. By the time we got back it was getting quite cloudy and thunder was rumbling off in the distance so we got busy making supper before the skies opened up. It wasn’t long after we finished eating that it started to sprinkle and from then on thru most of the night it rained, thundered and lightening. At times it was a torrential downpour but we all stayed safe and dry under the canopy until it was time for bed.

We woke up the next morning to gray skies but by noon the sky was blue and it stayed that way pretty much for the rest of our time at camp. The 4 days we were there went by quickly and the standard routine was wake up, take the dogs for a walk around the area, make breakfast and then spend from late morning until supper time working around the campsite on various projects along with throwing the ball or Frisbee for the furkids whenever one of them dropped their toy of choice at my feet. The biggest project we completed over the 4 days was to clean up the huge brush pile we had and mow and rake down the whole hillside on the east side and claim it as part of the “yard”. I also got the stone and mortar fire ring done and it looks pretty good. Once the mortar has cured a bit I’m going to brush off the loose and excess stuff from the rock faces so the rocks are more prominent, but it looks impressive in the middle of the clearing.

I believe it was Thursday morning I got up early (6am) and went for an extended hike. It was quite foggy and made the hike thru the woods even quieter than usual. We hiked around the lake and thru the hillside campground before coming back to our place for breakfast.

Friday zoomed by just like the previous two days and before we knew it, it was Saturday morning. We hung out at camp until about noon and then resigned ourselves to packing things up, turning things off and locking stuff up so we could head for Grand Haven. We got back to town about 3 or so and the rest of the day was spent pretty close to home.

Sunday was bike trip day to Big Rapids for the Eckels / Fortin family reunion. Myself and Chris were heading out of town just about 10:am and made it to the folks house just a bit before noon. We followed the folks over to Aunt Lucy’s house and in the space of the next two hours we chatted with relatives and ate a bunch of good food. After the long drive to get there I wasn’t in a big hurry to leave but I was in the minority. Seems like most folks that came, ate and ran…by 2:30 most everyone was already gone. I always thought that a reunion was more about getting caught up on other folks lives than eating but maybe I was wrong, again. Anyhow, we hung around for a while longer with the few folks that were left. I talked with Cousin John, whose wife recently divorced him. He came with a new girlfriend and one of her kids. I talked a bit too with Uncle Sonny about motorcycles and the economy. Uncle Sonny’s kid, Mark was there with his daughter, who’d just graduated from high school. I hadn’t seen him in a long time. I did Mark’s wedding photography, but I couldn’t even tell you what year it was although I do remember a lot of details about the event itself. About 3:00 or a bit after me and Chris decided to say our goodbyes too and then made a stop at the folk’s house for a half hour before making the run for home.

On the way home we felt for awhile like we were in one of those Psycho driver movies. We’d made a stop at the gas station on the east side of the Muskegon River and as we made our way out onto the road again there was a semi coming down the road. I had plenty of room to pull so I didn’t give it a second thought until we got about to the river and I looked in my mirrors, which were full of semi grill. The SOB was right on our butt. I pulled ahead a bit going up the other side but a mile down the road he was right on our backside again. The speed limit there is 55 and I was doing 60 / 65 so I figured I was going fast enough and he could just cool it. It’s not like it’s a highway, it’s a two lane blacktop country road. So we kept on at a constant speed and when we got to the straight stretch that leads into White Cloud this moron in the semi makes an attempt to pass us! All of a sudden I realized he was in the other lane trying to go around us as we went up a grade. I maintained my speed and he had to drop back in line. That was amazing enough but a couple miles down the road when he made a second attempt he came a bit too close to the bike. Chris hollered at me and so I picked up the pace and he had to fall in line again. As we came into White Cloud I was mentally preparing to deal with this asshole when we reached the stoplight, but he hung back until the light turned green and then we had to go south and he headed north. I don’t know what the hell his problem was, but he was in too damn big a hurry for the road he was driving on. After that experience the rest of the ride home was safe and sane. We’d met our idiot for the day and made it home clear without any more excitement. The rest of Sunday was spent doing the typical stuff, laundry and dishes and before I knew it, it was time to wake up from my chair downstairs and go to bed. A full work week dead ahead and the mini-vacation break already a memory.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Somebody Make It Stop!...

Time that is…..it’s July 1st today. June is over and done with already and I’ve hardly begun to get the stuff done that I want to get done this summer. Of course money, not time is the biggest factor in things not getting done right now, but the days clicking off in rapid fire succession ain’t helping any either.

There’s not going to be any 4th of July bike trip this year like last year. I haven’t been able to sell the van so it continues to sit in the side yard with a “for sale” in the window and I don’t get to do a much needed road trip.

Things aren’t a complete wash though, it’s 4th of July week and I’ve got a 2 day work week coming up. I’m taking the 5th and 6th off as vacation days and we’re all going up to the compound Tuesday after work and staying until Saturday. Gotta come back Saturday evening cuz Sunday is the family reunion in Big Rapids and that’s a mini bike trip not to be missed.

So, this past weekend was a stay at home and try to save money kinda weekend and frankly I kinda pissed away the last couple days of June. Saturday I hung around the house all day. Did a little yard work including putting up a piece of fence across the backyard to try and keep the transients from using our backyard as a shortcut. We’ll see how long it last before some SOB tramples it down. I considered running a couple wires out to the metal fence to help make my point but I figured there’s probably some stupid city law against electric fences and besides my electric bill is high enough already. Along with the fence I did some tree trimming and general pick-up and then spent the rest of the day in the garage continuing to pick up and clean up. I gave up on that about 6 and made myself some supper and then after supper I got the hot rod out and rode around town for a little bit. That was pretty much it for Saturday.

Sunday I slept in cuz I stayed up late. By the time I’d finished with breakfast most of the morning was gone. I decided I’d take a cruise down town and stroll through the art show. Back when we used to do the shows it was in Central park but because the city got to be dickheads about renting out the park the group in charge of the show moved it to the street. Personally I never liked the street shows, much prefer having grass under my feet.

Anyhow, I stroll thru and checked out the photographers and some other interesting stuff. Digital cameras have made such a difference in photography over the last 10 years that the way stuff is presented nowadays makes what I was doing in the ‘80’s look pretty amateurish. A part of me would love to get out there and do it again but the rest of me slaps that part around until it comes to its senses. I don’t even have a camera I can change lenses on anymore so I’m regulated to pretty much snapshot stuff. I haven’t lugged a tripod around in years.

After strolling thru the art show I came back home and sat around for awhile. Decided it was as good a night as any to cruise down to Holland in the hot rod and check out the new cruise-in spot at D&W so that’s what I did. Headed out the door right about with Bailey in the co-pilot seat and took the highway down. When I got there the place was crowded with cars and folks looking at cars. I parked on the edge of the lot close to some grass and pulled out my chair and camera. Me and Bailey did some strolling around to check out who was there and ran into some folks that we hadn’t seen in awhile. Also ran into a guy I used to work with back in the Polynorm days and found out he’s doing good now working for the City of Zeeland. About 8 I put my chair back in the trunk, lifted Bailey into his seat and headed back for home via Lakeshore Drive.

That’s it for this past week. In 48 hours I’ll be up at camp on my little “mini-vacation”. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and the time won’t go by too quickly.