Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Whew, I'm pooped out and a bit sore after a 3 day weekend. Still haven't learned how to pace myself I guess.
I had dropped the bike off at Metric Motorsports Wednesday to have it gone over and didn't figure on getting it back until this week but they called late Thursday and said it was done so I hung around the house until 9am Friday morning and had Jen and the kids drive me up there to piok it up. The bill was a bit more than what was quoted cuz they put new rear brake pads on her, tightened up the seat, changed the oil and made sure everything else was copasetic. The idle is set a bit too high for my tastes so I'm gonna have to run it back up there for an adjustment.

Anyhow, got to work late and was headed home for the day right at lunchtime. Nice short day. I packed up the truck with the stuff we needed for the weekend at the castle and hung around until Chris showed up. We headed up North a bit before 3, but didn't get to camp until almost 5 because of a protracted visit to the grocery store in Hart.
Once we got there I started in by mowing the side yard stacking firewood we'd cut up last time there. About 7 we called it quits and I started cooking hamburgers. By the time we got done chowing on them it was almost 8pm so we headed up to the lodge to see if there was anybody there making ice cream treats. Sure enough there was so we got our usuals and took a cruise around the campground to see who all was up for the weekend.
I made it up till about 1am and then the bed sounded like too good an idea to ignore.
Saturday morning, after I got done sleeping in instead of taking the dogs for our morning stroll, I made breakfast and then we got busy doing some raking until the whole crew showed up about 10:30am. In retrospect I guess I was expecting too much outa the little critters cuz the whole camping thing and being in the woods was just too much new input I guess. After a couple hours of trying to get them to calm down and take a nap for awhile Jennette got fustrated with the situation and loaded them back up in the van and by 1:00pm they were all headed back to Grand Haven. Well, that didn't work out too well....
Me and Chris decided to stay over Saturday night instead of going home so we spent the rest of the afternoon working on little projects until about 4:00 when we got cleaned up a bit and headed up to the lodge, at Adam's invite, for the potluck and party going on that night. When we all finally sat down to eat about 6 it was quite the affair. A varitable cornocopia of smells and tastes. Sliced beef was the main course and along with that were several dozens options. I was starving so I took a bit of lots of different things and filled my plate twice before calling it quits. It was quite the meal.
After dinner there was a disc jockey playing music for the rest of the evening. I hung around for a bit and then went back to camp to ge things ready for dark. After that task was completed I headed back up to the lodge and was surprised to find it full of folks dancing to the music. Again I hung around for awhile, watching the festivities until about 10 when I decided to go back to camp. Chris wanted to stay so I asked Adam to drop him off when they were ready to call it a day. I went back and me and the dogs hung around the campfire, listening to tunes and night sounds until about 1am when the boys showed up. We didn't stay up too much longer after that......
Sunday the original plan was to head back home after breakfast but it was a beautiful day and Chris had met a girl the night before so while I mowed most of the morning and afternoon he was out and about hanging out. We had gone up to the lodge for breakfast....pancakes, all you can eat for a buck and a half is too much of a deal to pass up, especially when I don't have dirty dishes to wash after I'm done eating. By the time 5 oclock rolled around I had finished mowing the area on the west side that I wanted tamed and managed to do a big swath of the east side lowland too. Once I get that all done the plan is to get a porch swing and hang it down there from one of the giant limbs.
Anyhow, it was about 6 by the time we were rolling outa camp and heading home. It was after 8 before I got a hot shower and got cleaned up. After that the only thing to do was kick back and take it easy.

Monday morning we were up early to hit the Memorial day parades. First, the Grand Haven one at 9:30, then the Spring Lake one at 10:30. I believe this was the first time the kids had seen parades and they weren't real sure what to make of all the commotion and the candy that people kept throwing at them.....After that we went back home to regroup and then me and Jennette and the two oldest boys headed for Fruitport to catch some of the parade there. As luck would
have it we had to park a ways away from the carnival area and just as we were going down the hill to where the parade route finished here came the leading cop car. So, we decided to stop at a nice grassy spot and watch the whole parade go by. Ri and Adam caught up with us midway thru the parade and after it was over and gone we all headed down to the carnvial. We didn't spend much time there...just long enough for Jen and Ri to ride the Zipper and Gravitron and then we tried to get the boys on the kiddie train for a ride but Jason wasn't impressed a bit and wailed the whole time he was riding. Ryan took it a bit more instride but after that we all decided to head out and go home for dinner that the wife had made before she took off
for the bingo deal. After dinner and a nap me and Jen took the boys down to the beach and walked 'em all thru the sand and let 'em get their feet wet for awhile. The water was cold of course so they didn't stay by the shore for long, they decided it'd be more fun to chase the Sea gulls. after some of that we loaded 'em back up in the car and headed back home. Baths were in order and after them it started to get quiet again.
We're down to the last several days now...Jen is heading down to the relatives house for some quality time this coming Saturday morning.
That's about it for now, it was a good weekend and a fun time for the most part.....I've got no complaints.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

No More Teenage Girls....

Well there were times when it felt like it'd never happen and other times when it felt like it wouldn't be soon enough to retain any sanity, but now that it's happened....it went by real quickly. Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 was Ri's 20th birthday. Look at that cake! Do you realize what a fire permit costs these days!!!
For Ri's Birthday dinner we had lasagna and garlic bread and of course Ice cream and some of that cake for desert. After dinner, when things quieted down a bit me and Ri took a bike ride for awhile. Cruised around town and then went out North shore road to the end and back again. On the way out there I had to whoa it up for deer in the road. It was sunset time and their time to be on the move.
For some reason I can still recall about every move I made that day in 1988. I got up to go to work and got told by
the wife that I should stick around instead so to kill some time I went out and played in the garden. It was the time of year for preping things, getting ready to plant so I was out there throwing bags of leaves in the paths and putting up stakes and string......about 11am Wanda decided she wanted to take a walk on the boardwalk so I loaded her up in the truck and drove down to the boardwalk parking lot. We hadn't waddled more than a couple hundred yards down the boardwalk towards the pier when she decided it was time for another course correction and we started to head back to the truck again. From the boardwalk to the hospital took about 20 minutes and about a half hour after that Ri decided to show up! Good thing we hadn't gotten a whole lot further out on the pier or our water baby would've been born on the boardwalk!

1988 was the summer that we had temps in the 90's for a couple months straight and every night we'd go out to North beach and stay close to the water. Ri was in her baby seat, at the beach, for most of the first 3 months of her life.
Since Tuesday night we've been hanging close to home, trying not to spend any money until the weekend trip up to camp. In anticipation of the trip I went and bought gas last night, now at $4.09 a gallon! 40 bucks is the minimum for a trip to camp now......but I guess that's still fairly cheap entertainment cuz we really don't spend any other money when we're up there, other than groceries and I'm going to be eating wherever I am so that's not an issue.
Anyhow, the plan for the weekend is to go up tomorrow afternoon and have a quiet evening. Saturday the whole gang arrives and hopefully will spend the night. That's still up in the air though....Sunday we'll be back home and Monday is Memorial day and parades. Thats all for now........here's a couple pics to finish with.......
Ethan & Wanda
Now is that one happy little critter or what?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Full & Busy Week In Munchkinland...

...has already come and gone. It's been a hoot for the most part too, but I do know now why parents raise the kids and grandparents are second stringers. I just don't have the amount of energy these days needed to keep up with 20 million questions and the 30 minor crisis that pop up in the course of a normal day. All in all though it's been a fun week and looking forward to more of the same this coming week.
Taking off from where I left off early Saturday morning.....I woke up to cool but very blue skies. So I grabbed the camera gear and headed out the door. Fired up the hot rod and headed off for the Ball Park. It was early, a bit after 7:15am so I just took my time and cruised about 60mph all the way into G.R. enjoying the scenery and the brilliant early morning blue and greens of May. Once I got to the park and paid my entry fee I parked the car and popped the hood, got the display board up and then spent awhile shining and polishing stuff that needed attention while a steady stream of cars started to pour into the lot. After I'd gotten all the cleaning that I felt like doing I grabbed the camera gear and for the next couple hours just wandered around, checking out the old stuff I'd seen before and the new stuff that appearred over the winter.

I took a break around noon to grab a hamburg and then kicked back in the chair for an hour and watched the crowds go by while I listened to some Boomers on the Ipod. Before I knew it almost it was awards time so I went up to see who got the recognition this time around. Once the awards were all handed out it was time to head for home to pick up the daughter and head for the racetrack.
By the we got to the track it was right around 5:00pm and after not being there much in the last couple years, things were different. The late models had the weekend off and in there place, over 40 entrys of front wheel drive, 4
Cylinder American and Jap compacts. Bone stock and ready to rock and roll. I talked to several guys about them and what it took to get in the division and for less than 1500 bucks I could be living out one more little dream. It's cheap racing to keep things interesting at the track cuz there's fewer and fewer folks these days that can afford to run a late model. I don't see it happening in the next 12 months but ya never know what I'll pull outa my hat.
Anyhow, we spent the evening wandering around from spot to spot, taking pics and talking to folks we hadn't seen in awhile and some we just met. There was some good racing during the evening and the 4 bangers were a hoot out on the track, going 3 and 4 wide like they were at Talladega. The night finished up with a school bus race. Certainly the other end of the spectrum from the little cars and not as interesting either.....only 4 of 'em and they were still all on the wheels at the end. What fun is that??
By the time the show was over it was almost midnight and gettin' pretty chilly so we headed for the truck and some warmth. I didn't get more than 5 miles down the road before Jennette was crashed out in the passenger seat. Just like years ago.
Sunday I slept in a bit. Got up, made breakfast and then sat around most of the morning playing with Ethan who seems to like me for some reason. We sat on the couch and made noises at each other and played with his different toys. At some point everyone kinda crashed out for awhile and when I woke up it was close to 3. Those busy days really poop me out the day after I guess. Wanda and Jen took off for Bingo about 3 and Ri got to the house to save me about 4:30. I went downstairs to check email and pull my pics from the weekend off the discs and onto the computer and because I was still half out of it I did a stupid thing and wiped out one whole disc of Car pics from the Show. I hit the damn format tab instead of finalize and boom, they're gone. Pretty helpless feeling cuz once those little 1's and 2's are gone there ain't no bringin' 'em back. I blaming it on Sony though as a design flaw. They shouldn't have put the two features so close together and then gave them both words that started with an F. Easy to mess up and it's not the first time I've done it either so there may be operator training issues going on too.......

So after that I decided to go get some cheap pizza for supper and after choking down a slice or two of that me and Ri packed up the kids, along with Bailey and Chris and took 'em down to sluka field to play on the equipment for awhile. By the time we got back home from there it was after 8 already. Me and Bailey decided to take a cruise around town once before calling it a weekend, stopped at Dairy Treat to share a bit of ice cream and then headed for home.
That's about all I've got to report for the moment. We got another whole week ahead of us so there's plenty of time to cover some more ground. I also need to get the old mower fixed and my chain saw blade sharpened before Friday so when I head up to camp Friday I can get things looking good before everybody else gets there Saturday. Also, the bikes going in for a checkup and an oil change Wednesday so it's ready for the trip at the end of June. I am thinking about moving the trip back a week or two but haven't acted on the thought yet. Kansas is coming to play a concert on the day I would originally be leaving and I'd kinda like to see 'em again, for old times sake if nothing else. If I could sell the van or at least have the clown prince send me my economic incentive cash soon I'd be in fine shape to get all this stuff taken care of in time.
'bout time for bed and another week of grandparenting........I'll be putting up pics tomorrow night and during the week.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

The End of a Busy Week

I'm too pooped at this point to write much so I thought I'd just drop in some pics I've shot this week. I haven't managed to get as many grandkid shots as I planned on cuz the little critters don't sit still long enough for me to snatch more than a random frame here and there. It was a fast week.
I got out voted on going camping...seems the womenfolk think that it'd be too much trouble to take the little ones up to the camper for the weekend. I think they're being wussies but my thinking don't change the fact we're still here and not around a campfire. The plan now is to take 'em up for the day next Saturday and let 'em run wild. I will be going up Friday night so that I get at least one campfire for my $40.00 worth of gasoline. 40 bucks just to drive to Pentwater and back, jeeez, used to be able to drive to the bridge and most of the way back for that much cash. As a matter of record gas hit $3.999 here this past week...the magic number. At least now it's easy to figure out.....$40.00 equals just a tick over 150 miles.
Anyhow, because we're staying in town I'll be getting up in about...oh.....4 hours to head to 5/3 ballpark for the first car show of the year, the Burn Survivors Benefit. the weather is suppose to be cool and iffy so we'll see how that goes. After the car show me and Jennette are heading to Berlin for the races. By the time we get back from there the day will be shot. Dunno about Sunday yet, guess we're playing that one loose and sloppy.
Enjoy the pics until next time....
Jennette & Ethan


Mercury & Jennette

The homestead after the ceremonial first mowing of the yard.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A House Full of Flashback

Well it was just two months ago that me and the wife(and the dogs of course) had the whole house to ourselves. The juvenile deliquent son was living at a friends house and things were pretty quiet, old people quiet. Well, that all changed this past Saturday evening when Jennette arrived from Kansas with minivan full of munchkins. 3 of 'em to be exact. Ryan, who's gonna be 3 in September, Jason who'll be 2 in July and Ethan Thomas (had to get that in there) who'll be turning 1 in July. Don't ask me which days I can't keep 'em straight.
To say it's been a bit chaotic is understatment but I ain't complainin', it's cool to have some little ones around for awhile, finally. This time around I can spoil 'em and send 'em home and I ain't changing any shitty diapers, that's where I put my foot down. My job as grandpa is to spoil 'em, play with 'em and teach 'em what little I know. To explain how this adventure has started off I need to go back to the beginning of the weekend.
Friday afternoon me and Chris took off for Meadowview Castle (thanks for the handle Wolfgang). The plan was to just stay Friday night and come back home Saturday evening because Sunday was Mother's day. We got up there about 6 and started working on stuff until it started to get dark. We hung around the fire for the remainder of the evening and I called it a day a bit after midnight.
Saturday it was 38° when I got out of a nice warm camper. invigorating to say the least. I got a small fire going to warm the bones and then once I got the blood moving me and the dogs took a hike around the campground for awhile looking for deer and turkeys. Saw tracks but no live animals during the jaunt. When we got back to camp I started in making breakfast. After sausage and pancakes I was feeling feisty so we started in hauling wood into piles to cut and then later in the morning fired up the chain saw and went over to the next lot and started in logging a big ole Oak tree that had fallen over and couldn't get up any longer. Now about here is where experience in life is suppose to kick in.....normally when working in the woods and fields it's wise to keep the body completely covered to avoid coming into contact with nasty things.....ticks, spiders, plants that make ya itch......but no, I'm out there with just a short sleeved T shirt on and without a care in the world. We spent a couple hours cutting up the big limbs of the old oak and hauled it over to the wood piled and stacked it. By the time that was done we were ready for a bit to eat so Chris make us up and couple cans of spagetti and meatballs which tasted pretty good in the out-of-doors.
After luggin' all that heavy wood around all morning I decided to work on cleaning up the piles of leaves that I'd raked up the night before. They were much lighter. After a couple hours of that it was breaktime again. Chris wandered off into the camper and I sat down in a chair by the fire pit and both of us crashed out for a good hour or so. After nappy time was over we decided it was time to pick up, lock up and head for home cuz we just gotten a text message on the phone that said Jen was on the way to Grand Haven with the midget army.
We figured that we'd beat them there and have time for a shower but when we came down the street to the house the place was overrun with cars and inside was a group of folks all there to celebrate the arrival. Saturday evening went by quick.
Sunday morning I got up, got stuff around and headed off to the folks house with Mercury in the co-pilot seat as pre-planned. We made a stop at Bill's on the way up to get a potted plant (potted plant, not a pot plant) for mom. We got there a bit before noon and left about 5:30. In between I showed off Mercury's tricks to the folks, played soccer with him for awhile, had hamburgers and french fries for lunch, spent some time on mom's computer helping with stuff and then before heading home took a nap for an hour or so cuz I was just pooped.....from all the excitement of the night before no doubt. During the course of the afternoon my right arm started to feel very warm and it looked like there might be some kind of infection going on. It was uncomfortable but not painful and it wasn't until later that night that I realized what I was dealing with.....it was Poison oak! somehow Saturday up at camp, while cutting wood, I must've run into a plant with issues and it lashed out at me. Later on when my arm started to swell up and puss started oozing out I was certain what the problem was and vowed a trip to the doctor first thing Monday morning.
I got back home about 7:30 and Ri was there babysitting and had everything under control so with my condition and not wanting to share it I headed for the basement for the rest of the evening.
Monday morning as promised I was at the doctor at 9am. I got a shot in the butt and two different medicines to kill off the swelling and the itching. I also have some topical spray to keep the burning under control. All will be well again by the end of the week I hope. I don't dare touch the grandkids until I'm whole again...nobody else needs this crap, that's for sure.
I expect it's gonna be a busy week and I plan to take as many grandkid pics as I can so there should be another entry before too long. Not sure what's happening yet for the upcoming weekend. The Burn Survivors car show is Saturday but we might take the whole crew up to the castle if the weather cooperates but the way it looks right now car shows and camping trips are both gonna be iffy affairs. We'll see, there's plenty of time yet for those overpaid guessers to change their minds for the weekend. Pics to come later.

Ethan, Jason & Ryan @ tubtime.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The First Weekend at Meadowview Castle for 2008

Dang, only May and I'm already falling behind.
I ended up having to work the bulk of the weekend April 26th / 27th so that the guys doing the retro-fit on my CMM could get the job finished after being there for two weeks. The weather was mostly crummy and cold anyhow so having to wait another 7 days wasn't a big sacrifice. The weather for this past weekend was exactly stellar either but after some himin' and hawin' we decided to make a run for it and just go and see what happens.Wanda and Chris got about an hour's head start on me, but we were all up there and getting dinner ready by 6ish. I made my first project gettting the "landing lights" back out and working again. To my surprise and delight there were no problems and no burned out, broken or lost bulbs!
Ri and Adam were at camp also and we all sat down to eat hamburgers and chips, demolishing 2lbs of hamburger in short order. After dinner Adam and Chris played sequence and Wanda an Ri shot the breeze while I restacked the to wood that had fallen over from the earthquake a couple weeks ago. (I failed to mention that when it happened I guess). It was about 9:30 or so when it started to rain so it wasn't long until Adam and Ri took off and Wanda and Chris decided to go to bed. I sat out on the deck, under the canopy, listening to The Boomers on the Ipod. After awhile the rain stopped, the sky cleared up and the stars came out by the millions. I soaked up the heat from the embers of the fire for awhile before giving in and heading for my pillow.
Wanda and Adam had early morning plans to drive up to Manistee to hit the Casino for awhile so I said goodbye to the wife in the 6am darkness and closed my eyes again until about 8am. At that point I was mostly awake and completely hungry so I cooked up a bunch of bacon and scrambled eggs for the 3 of us left behind. It was a beautiful blue sky morning so after we were done eating I got out the lawnmower and the chain saw and got them both ready to go. Me and Chris first went around clearing up all the fallen logs that I never got around to cleaning up last spring before the grass hid them from view. That project killed a couple hours quick and then I fired up the mower and went after the west side yard. By the time we got that all mowed and cleaned up of debris it was almost 2 in the afternoon so it was time to take that ride into Ludington and hit the Home Depot. I needed 50 ft of good rope for the tire swing I was putting up plus some other smaller items. As luck would have it, just as we were heading out of camp, here comes the wife and son-in-law back from the casino. Adam couldn't wait to show off his tax slip which showed that he'd made $1,350 for his efforts! Not bad pay for a couple hours worth of work. I'm thinking maybe I should go and try to get lucky....I could use some help with the gas fund for the summer months. $3.65 a gallon is a real kick in the butt.
By the time we got back to camp from our trip to town it was past 4pm and getting cloudy We had an excellent meal of pork chops and fried potatoes, a personal favorite. Not long after dinner though the clouds that had been building up finally decided to let go of the precipitation they were holding. Over the next couple hours the rained increased in intensity and finally about 9:30 we all decided to call it a day and just get some extra sleep
Sunday morning we woke up to frost! It was nippy to say the least. Of course, as it always happens, the propane ran out sometime during the night so the first thing I did was switch tanks and then set about to make breakfast. By the time I was done stuffing myself with bacon and pancakes it'd warmed up enough to be bareable so I set about with my project for the day, a tire swing for the grandkids when they come up in the old oak tree on the corner.
The first thing that had to be done was remove one limb that was in the way. I had no ladder so I used the next best thing, the wheelbarrow. I propped it up against the base of the tree, fired up the saw and climbed in. It gave me just enough leverage to reach the limb. The thought occurred to me about then that I'd seen basically the same thing I was doing in a Safety video years ago with bad results, but in my best "that'll never happen to me" voice I forged ahead and in about 2 minutes the limb and myself were both on the ground again.
After we got the limb cut up and moved out of the way the next trick was to get the rope up and over the 40ft high limb. I found a suitable log, tied some clothesline rope to it and taped the other end of that rope to the heavy sisal rope and after several attempts got the log up and over the limb where I wanted it. After pulling the sisal rope up and over we put the slip knot in it and pulled it tight. Ta Da!
Now, the only thing missing was a tire! Not having one in our possession at that point we jumped in the truck and headed over to the utility building by the lodge to see if there were any dead tires laying around that needed a purpose in life. Within a matter of minutes we had found our candidate, white lettered no less, tossed it in the back of the pick-up and headed back to camp.
It was at this point that we had to enlist the aid of the wife due to our inability to tie a decent knot around the tire that would hold. She came to our rescue and using one of her knitting knots put a cinch on the tire that kept it at the right height. After a couple test runs we deemed the project phase 1 complete and went and took a break.
By then it was almost noon and so Wanda loaded up the car with her stuff, 3 dogs and one junvenile deliquent and headed back to town leaving me and Mercury to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine of the afternoon. At that point phase II started with the lawnmower and clearing a wide swath from the top of the hill to the bottom in the area of where the tire would swing in any direction. After mowing it was raking time, Phase III. Mercury napped while I put on the headphones and listened to the Boomers while I raked the hillside area and made it safe for barefeet. By the time that was complete it was a bit past 3pm
I decided to do more mowing in the lowlands area, along side the road and a section where I'd like to maybe build a pond someday.....by the time I was finished with that little project I was pooped and done for the day. I packed up, locked up, jumped in the truck and headed for home.
Last night I pulled the hot rod out of the garage after supper and headed up to Quicks to see if things were back to normal with Tuesday night cruise-in's and the answer is yes! There's a new Quicks, built from bricks this time and there was around 120 cars show up for opening night of the season. We hung around until they finished calling off the lucky numbers and then came back to town, made a stop at Dairy Treat, rode around town once and then called it a day and headed for home.
Not sure what's happening yet this weekend. There's a chance Jennette and the grandkids will be up Saturday night. If not this weekend then next weekend I guess, depends on when she gets her incentive cash. I may go up to camp Friday night either way and spend at least Saturday with the chain saw again. gotta get the fallen stuff picked up before the ferns and grass take over again.
At any rate, that's it for now, time to sleep.