Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We're ready for some Sunshine

We've been back to Iowa for about 2 weeks and I think it has been cloudy, overcast and/or rainy almost every day.   I guess it  fits the general mood  I'm in with the loss of my brother.   We knew it was eventually going to happen, but the suddenness of it took us all.   But he is better off and as it was, he did not suffer the agonizing final days that so many cancer patients go through.   We think it was a ruptured vessel in his gut, thus low blood pressure and that was it.

The real impact for me now is that I picked up the Power of Attorney for my mother.  So Ruth has helped me sort out what Gordon was doing and how he kept the records.   We met with the care center to resolve a financial issue and that should work itself out in the coming days.

Our next big event is for the family to celebrate my mother's 100th birthday on Sunday.  That is a lot of years any way you look at it.  She is doing pretty well other than her hearing is very poor (for my voice).   It is frustrating since Sandy can converse with her in a nearly normal voice.  I guess I'm in the wrong pitch!

There are a few things I'd like to do around the farmstead, but I'm just too stubborn to work outside in the cold windy wet weather we've been having.  We're supposedly going to have some good days this week.  I can handle that.

We've spent a lot of our indoor time watching the eaglets from Decorah on the computer.  Last weekend when we had the snow, I expected that their was no way that she could save all three of the young ones.  But it was Monday or Tuesday when the sun shined and all were there.  And they continue to grow.

After so long, one begins to learn some of the habits.   I've often wondered how they handle disposing of the body waste.  It really is no problem.  The young one puts his head down towards the center of the group, raises up on their legs and fires.  There bodily wastes are sent flying over the side of the nest elsewhere.

The eaglets are somewhere between the size of a baseball and a softball.   The link to see the nest and birds is :    Happy viewing.

Bring on some sunshine and warm weather.  Our asparagus is still dormant.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Life goes on

Today was the last day of a series of days that all of us often know will happen, but that we don't want to see arrive.   I lost a brother to colon cancer.   We knew that eventually it would happen, we just didn't expect it to happen so suddenly.

Gordon had his colon removed 10 years ago, a perfect surgery according to the doctor.  No need for a follow up chemo.  Almost 5 years later, there was an "Oh, oh, I guess we missed something",  to quote the doctor.  So he has been on various chemos since.   About 3 years ago, he leveled with me that there was no cure, it was only a matter of time.  In the meantime, he carried on as if there was no problem.  Two years ago, he planted 8 foot corner posts on his farm that he bought from his father in law.  That is no small feat for a healthy 65 year old, but he seemed to thrive on it.   He and Ruth drove a hundred miles to the farm a week ago Sunday to treat mother in  Law and see how the farm survived the winter.  Tuesday, he had a pain in his mid-section and the doctor hospitalized him for observation.   Early Thursday morning,    Ruth got a phone call shortly after midnight that they had a "code Blue" on him and she needed to get there immediately. She didn't make it on time.

The blessing is that he didn't suffer a long drawn out painful exit.  For that we need to be thankful.  A sudden quick death is harder on some survivors like myself.  To put it simply, its hard to lose a brother, especially your second one to the same problem.   But life has to go on and we'll get over it.

Perhaps the most difficult part was informing my mother that she has lost her second child to death.  Mother is 99 and failing, especially her hearing.   We thought she comprehended what was said, but it took a couple of days to get it straightened out.  When she read it in the paper, it finally became clear.  Thank goodness, Sandy was there to carry the message for me to her.   One problem I have talking with mother is that my voice tones are very difficult for her to hear, where as Sandy seems to have no problem making her understand.  (Plus I get all choked up.)  So in the end, Sandy normally repeats what I've said or just tells her initially.

We have some things to get done on the RV (install a new water pump and modify our lights), but all of it involves outside work on the east side of the rig.  To make it difficult, its going to be cold out with a 25 mph east wind all day tomorrow.  Perhaps I can find enough paper to shuffle so that I'm inside all day!  I hope so.


Friday, April 15, 2011

On the farm again

We left Beeds Lake State Park about a five days ago and stopped at a county park near Baxter, Iowa.  We're hosting an RV group there in mid June and we wanted to verify the setup and arrangements.  Plus we went to Newton to line up some tours for the group.  All went as expected  and we should have an enjoyable weekend.

Presently we're on the farm and kind of wondering why we're back here.  We have a 30 mph wind out of the east with a light rain right now. The temperature is a cool 45 degrees (not very nice with this wind.)  We really have nothing to complain about.  While we write this, we also have a tab open with the Decorah Eagle Cam on it. Mother eagle is huddled over her offspring on the nest about 80 feet up in the air overlooking the Iowa Fish Hatchery.

Only when one looks closely, is it obvious that it is very windy on her perch.   The nest appears to be very stable  with respect to the camera.  But then it is obvious that there is a fair amount of wind when you see her feathers move as the wind passes over her.  Plus while the nest is stable, the road in the background is doing a real dance as it moves about.   Yes, she is in some wind.

We parked on the farm and then I made a quick trip to Amana to see mother.  She is two weeks shy of turning 100 years old and my guess is that it will be a race if she'll make it.  I was there 45 minutes and while she did recognize me, she was not really awake.  She is very comfortable and well cared for.

Thursday morning before I was awake, I heard a strange bell, finally realizing that it was our telephone. I was too late to answer it.   But some reason, I pressed the button to see who called and while it was an eastern Iowa number, I didn't recognize it then.  So I called it, expecting to hear that my mother had passed away.  The number was really my brother's cellphone and it was his wife Ruth, calling to inform me that my brother Gordon had been hospitalized the day before.  But during the night, they very unexpectedly lost him.  (He had cancer of the colon and while we knew that his time was limited, we didn't expect it to be so suddenly.)  As the Lord said, "it comes like a thief in the night."  He will be missed.

If you have been following the Midwest weather the last couple of days, we're getting it right now.  We have had a 25 to 30 mph wind from the east, which is against our passenger side as we're parked here.  Even with the leveling jacks down, this boat seems to rock more than a little bit.  Perhaps we're learning what it would feel like to be parked in an earthquake area.  I guess our rocking in the wind is the price we pay for parking on a hilltop with out trees to the east.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beeds Lake State Park, Iowa

We moved to this campground in Beeds Lake SP yesterday, April 6.  We had some head wind, but nothing serious.  The one thing we noticed was that everything is so grey or brown, except for some of the grass fields.  They need a good spring rain to get things growing.

Today we put on another 200 miles, visiting a church camp in Minnesota where Sandy is hosting a family gather in August.  It is about what we expected.  We do need to determine some activities for the nieces and nephews plus the next generation.   (We can wade in the creek some, but not all day.)  Plus there is all evening.

Sandy drove the entire distance, which was a first.  She was also very tired tonight, so I had to be on my best behavior.

We were surprised this evening to get a phone call from a fellow who wanted to rent our lot in Arizona for the year.   Most people are looking for a seasonal site, which is fall, winter and early spring.   He wants it for 12 months.  So now we're trying to be certain that he qualifies  in terms of age, RV age or condition, pet number, etc.   The phone circuit was not the best and we had some difficulty understanding him.

With no outside schedule, tomorrow is my day to again work on my computer.  I took over this computer from Sandy on January 1st.   No, she didn't want it and I could do what I wanted to on it.  (It was her "Windows 7 machine.")   Well, I renamed some users and now I'm in the dog house.   We'll see if I can restore it some.  It sounds dumb, but last night, I copied some files to a flash drive so that I could reload them on to my new user location.  

(If you haven't guessed it, I'm not a fan of Windows 7!)


Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

We headed further North

Saturday was such a nice day that we felt we needed to get serious about heading on north to cooler climates.  Well, we succeeded. As we were driving yesterday, the thermometer registered 85 degrees on the outside.  That was a bummer. But we had air conditioning to keep us happy.

What we didn't have was a wind break as we headed north.  There was a very strong south wind blowing and it was tail wind most of the time.  When we headed west, we slowed down and was ever mindful of the wind. Thankfully we only had about 20 miles of west driving and 280 miles straight north.

We're staying at an Illinois state park northwest of Peoria.  It used to be $10 when we first came here.  Sunday when we checked in, it was $16 and would have been $20 if the water was turned on.   (They are operating under winter  rates with no water hydrants and the shower closed.)

Last night we were reminded again that there can be some real storms in the Midwest.   I may have been tired, as I heard very little after I was safe in bed.   We did pull in the living room slide in case of a very strong wind. But it was a quiet night from my perspective.

Today was laundry day and most of the time, the laundromat would be very busy.  Not so here in the small town near the park.  There was one customer in the place when we arrived and one other customer when we left.   We like that kind of service.

Today is a very windy and cold day.  It was 40 degrees cooler than the 85 of yesterday.  We didn't care for that one bit.  Maybe tomorrow we may move again (after this northwest wind dies down so that we don't have to push a head wind!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

A relaxing day at Fort Massac

This will be short and sweet.  

We have not over done ourselves today.   This morning, we drove out to the state historical site east of here 20 miles.  It was interesting, but I didn't get any walking in.  You can't walk on the mounds and even the field around them is "Off Limits".  So forget that. The only exercise we got was from the car to the observation platform, about 50 feet.

For the rest of the day, we played computer geeks.  I tried to improve my unit and ended up going backwards.  (I lost the ability to Hibernate it.)  More opportunities for a later day.  In the PM, we both went outside for some walking.

It is about 65 here right now and we're loving it. Tomorrow, we head for Jupiter State Park, north of Peoria.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Relaxing at Fort Massac, IL (near Paducah, KY)

We've been here a day and we're enjoying the slow pace of life here.    One detracting sound that seems to come through is that of a salvage yard, loading scrap iron onto a barge nearby.  It is probably a quarter to half mile away, but we hear it very well.

Early this morning, we walked up to the Visitor's Center to register for our stay.  They have built a nice looking Visitor's Center, but I think it's days are numbered.  When we were here 2 or 3 years ago, there were two uniformed park rangers in the old building to answer questions.  I think that with the funding short fall that Illinois is facing, they have replaced the two professionals with one entry level clerk.  They do have many well done displays and posters of the history of the fort.

I did a brief stroll through the restored fort and found it cold!   With the temperature being low, the dark vacant rooms of the fort do not encourage one to linger.   I'm not sure if the fort is to be fully restored, but it is not obvious what they might want to add other than some exterior furnishings.  What it really needs is some static interior displays of uniformed inhabitants in their then daily routine.  We did a long walk around the park and I was very surprised to see that the Ohio River had flooded this spring enough that it was perhaps 6 or 8 feet below the building levels.  Much of the park is still closed and before the grass can be mowed, lots of logs and sticks will have to be removed.

Back at the motorhome, Sandy and I finished up our tax forms.   On one hand I want to complain, but then I probably ought to be happy that there was some profit left for my weary bones.   We signed the papers and Sandy insisted that we seal the envelopes so that they are ready for mailing.   (I wanted to stuff the envelope, but leave it unsealed in case we want to recheck something.   After all, they are not due for another 2 weeks.)

I should mention that highway 45 from Mississippi to Tennessee to Kentucky to Paducah, KY is one fine four lane road to drive on.  With hardly any traffic, it is disgusting to see how nice it is --I'm assuming it was thanks to federal dollars.  We did have an incident somewhere in southern Tennessee.  A car passed us and was perhaps 40 or 50 yards ahead when we took an object in the windshield.  It was a small nick and not in the viewing area, but never the less, it is  a nick.  While I say an object, I really feel that it might have been a pellet from a pellet gun.   But no one was around that we noticed.  Stuff happens!

Tomorrow we're going to visit a state historical site east of here about 20 miles, called "The Kincaid Mounds".  We have read online that the mounds are from an early Indian settlement.  The name came from the white settler who built his house on the biggest mound in 1800.