Tag: vacation

There’s something to be said…

Reading Time: 3 minutes
 


…about concentration and being able to do so under pressure.  Case in point.  Right now it’s 1:30 am and I have to be on the road in about 8 1/2 hours.  For the most part yesterday I ran errands and did a fair number of things around the house that should have been done in the last couple of weeks, but being me,  I always wait until the last minute.  Sometimes the very last minute.  But I managed to get most of them accomplished.  Suffice it to say the hedges in front of the house are now trimmed back to a more aesthetically pleasing level, the lawn is mowed and trimmed in all the right places and finally, I got the marigolds and impatiens planted in the beds in the front of the house.  Yes, I know they should have been planted about a month ago.  Hush.  This evening the wife and I had soup and sandwich for dinner because that was inherently easier than cooking anything else, and we’d already dropped a good amount of cash at the grocery store earlier in the day, and that basically was part of what we shopped for.  The rest was frozen food for her to have while I’m away and some other bits and pieces of the puzzle so she can survive while I’m out of the local picture for the next few days.  After that, a little chatting with my girl, then I headed upstairs to pack not only my clothing but more importantly my toybag.  Just coincidentally, it was still packed from when I went to visit my girl back last November, so I needed to remove all that stuff, catalog what I had, list what I needed to bring this time, and pack that.  Made a list of what I needed to have in other items, packed both my bags and set them aside for today.  There are other things that I can pack in the morning, like my pillows, my CPAP machine and a few other odds and ends.  Yes, the cookies too.  A damn good thing I don’t like macadamia nuts or those 4 dozen cookies would be halfway gone.

While I was out and about this morning, I happened to spot a vintage automobile, and it just so happened to park at a place across from where I was getting my lunch.  Fortunately, I had my phone with me and got a picture of it from the back.  The funny thing about this area is, there’s a fair amount of people here that own Ford Edsels.  Honestly, I’d never seen one in person before I moved here.  I can’t really imagine why they never caught on when they originally were for sale.  They’re a really handsome car when you think about it.  At least I think so.  Btw, that’s not an Edsel, I was just musing on the fact this place is lousy with them.

The closer you get…

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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…the more harried you become.  At least that’s how it is with me.  It’s now 3-4 days until I blast off on my meeting with my girl and I’m (as usual) no closer to being ready.  Quite coincidentally,  there’s a visit happening here at the house the week following my sojourn south, and with the house here being it’s usual wreck /craphole/disaster area less than idyllic clean situation, there’s things to be done in the interim.  Though I’m not further along in getting them done either.

I’m a procrastinator.  Always been one, probably always will be.  Certainly much to the chagrin of both my wife, my girl, and as I recall, my parents.  I just never have seen the urgency of getting things done on time, or getting to appointments on time.  Don’t get me started on the getting to work on time issue.

Speaking of procrastination, I slipped this baby into the draft column and only now (3 days later) have I pulled it back out and given it some love.

Last night I baked cookies for my girl to take with me on my trip tomorrow.  At least that’s done!  Today is for going to the chiropractor so I don’t have to worry about back pain for the remainder of the week (I hope!)  getting some planting done outside, and turning over some flower/vegetable beds so the wife can plant things that should have been in the ground a couple weeks ago.  Sometimes you have to get the one with muscles to do the bull work, even though I’ve been tinkering with the Troy-Bilt rototiller over the last week or so.  Some things are even beyond a 40 yr old bit of machinery.  So I’ll break out the garden fork and get cracking on that when I get home.  Then it’s back inside to wage war on the piles of stuff I should have done back over the weekend.  Wish me luck!

I’m going to probably need it.  Packing I won’t do until either tonight or tomorrow morning.  At least I have my list started!

Baking for my babygirl

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Countdown to blastoff for seeing my girl is down to a little under 33 hours.  One major request she wanted for our meeting was me to bake her some of her favorite cookies.  Apparently she has a big thing for macadamia nuts.  Figures she’d pick a nut that was astronomically expensive.  But, it’s a nice gesture on my part and after all, I worked in a commerical bakery for 12 years, might as well put my meager skills to good use.  Like with all things, I’ve been procrastinating on this, but at least in this case for good reason.  The recipe I’m using has a shelf life of about 5 days unrefrigerated, and I don’t intend to freeze them just to eek out a day or two extra.  I’d rather she have them as fresh as I can get them to her, and still be able to get sufficient sleep the night before I leave.

 

Granted, we don’t have commerical grade equipment here for our cooking and baking purposes, for the most part its things that have been cobbled together from 2 distinct households, along with many other doodads and things collected over the course of our nearly 25 year marriage.  The one thing I’m most grateful to have is my MIL’s old Kitchen-Aid mixer.  Damn thing won’t die thank goodness.  It’s one of the really old models, before Hobart decided to add a hinge on the main drive part so you could swing the head back in order to clean your beater/paddle/whisk easier.  Considering at the bakery I worked at, we had gigantic versions of this mixer, I’m very comfortable using a spatula to clean the paddle, or even my hand as I used to do the same thing eons ago.  Even so, I’m extra careful not to have the mixer plugged in while I’m fiddling with the bowl, I’ve heard some rather unsavory stories about what happens when people’s appendages or digits meet an ornery piece of mixing machinery, there’s a reason they call people ‘Lefty’ way back when…or even more currently.

Start to finish, the recipe called for about 2 1/2 hours.  I think that it came out almost that long, but adding in cooling time and cleanup, it ended up being a bit longer than that.  Certainly having to chronicle this (and figure out the layout for the pictures) took more time as well, since it’s now about 2:15 am EDT.  Headed up to bed in a few minutes, as I have a crapload of things to do today, because yet again, I’m a procrastinator.  But I have cookies!  4 damn dozen!  I think someone is going to be appreciative…if not full in due time.  Nighty night.

Gearing up

Reading Time: 5 minutes

So here we are, less than a week before my pet and I are due to meet again.  The last time we met, it was November of 2017 and the first time for both of us…well, the first time that we met one another, I’ve done this multiple times, with different partners, it was a first for her, on several levels.  Granted, our dynamic has shifted a bit since then.  Confused?  That’s ok boo, we’re all confused in one way or another.

To paraphrase another post, “it’s been a long road, getting from there to here.”  7 months (and a couple weeks) to be exact.  Lots of angst, conversations, video chats, phone chats, packages zipping back and forth through the mail, trying to keep in contact, to keep things fresh, maintain the connection and the whole ball of wax.  It hasn’t been easy for either of us and the time apart has been pretty hard, I have to admit.  Honestly I think it’s been harder for her, since she doesn’t have someone to come home to, to rely on, to talk to about her day when she does come home.  Too, she’s moved away from what was her quasi ‘comfort zone‘, but I have commend her for making the move, since she did it for two reasons really.  One, to get away from a situation that was literally driving her up the wall, and two, to be closer to me.  Think about that.  That’s huge.

Of course, it hasn’t been without it’s own headaches, but we’ve been trying to weather them as they arrived.  Physical ailments, bouts of loneliness, a less than supportive roommate, the whole nine yards.  There’s been times when she’s wanted to chuck it, and go back to where things are easier, but I’ve tried to counsel her and bring a little logic to her thinking, letting her know that even though it’s hard, she’s in it for the right reasons, and she has a goal in mind.  Going backward isn’t going to accomplish it, so she needs to forge ahead.  Yes, it’s a sacrifice, yes it’s going to be hard, but in the end, it’s worth it, because of the goal that she wants badly.  It’s something we both want, and need to continue to work for.  Ech, sorry for the sideways tangent…but it needed to be said.

Getting back to what I was originally talking about.  Gearing up for the coming week.  Well, there’s a lot to do before I hop in the car and drive south.  And as usual, your intrepid chronciler puts it off to the last minute.  Ace Procrastinator, at your service!  I put in for the vacation almost a month ago, but was informed a couple of weeks ago that there might be a conflict, and the store manager had the final say in whether it was a go.  I pled my case, saying that I had a very good work record, am due vacation, and there were plenty of instances where others had been allowed to go under similar circumstances, so why should I be any different?  Granted, one of the department heads that intersects with my department is out on a medical disability, and someone else is covering his hours, someone that next week would be needed to cover my shift, but why should that be my problem?  Going back several months ago, I was asked to push back vacation because of staffing issues and I agreed (begrundingly), and as it turned out, I could have gone when I desired and nothing would have happened.  I really wasn’t interested in doing that again.  Fortunately, logic won the day, and I was permitted to take the time off.  So, win!

Another issue was transportation.  My wife and I have just one vehicle.  It’s a lease, and it’s in her name, not mine.  So I have to have permission to take the car, I can’t just take it and leave her without one.  Last year, I opted to rent a car to travel to my girl (then my Dominant) and it turned out to be a series of hoops, and a bit of an extravagance.  Nice vehicle, did what it was supposed to and served me well, but all in all it turned out to be $800 to rent the damn thing for 5 days.  This time, my wife said that it would be better if I took the car.  I agree, but I’m still concerned with leaving her without transportation.  This was much easier when we still had 2 cars.

Another issue.  What to bring along in the toy line.  So many choices!  But it’s a ‘first’ meeting, so I can’t be too crazy, and besides I have to lug in (and out) all the stuff I’d bring, and be sure not to leave things behind.  So probably bringing a couple floggers, a few paddles, and some equipment like carabiners, locks (and keys!) is a good idea.  There will be times when she’s going to visit me here in the future, and then I can bring out the ‘big guns’.  In the privacy of my own playroom.  That will definitely be nice.  Too, there are play parties in my area we can attend.  But that’s for the future.  Right now, I just want to introduce her to play without scaring the crap out of her.  Certainly there’s ONE item that I don’t want to forget, and she knows what it is.  It’ll be the thing I pack FIRST, because forgetting it would be unforgiveable!  And I can’t disappoint her like that.

Oy, I have a lot to do before next Tuesday.  And here I am writing a post….well, lucky you, because you got to read it…

 

The Second Battle of Antietam (Part I)

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Dunker church at Antietam, cannons in the foreground.

One would think a trip to a National Park would be simple. Over the last 2 days, nothing could be further from the truth. In retrospect, it all turned out (mostly) for the best, but it certainly seemed as if it could go either way at several junctures along the way.

Our initial plan of attack was formulated several weeks ago when we were deciding what to do with this vacation time that needed to be used. My wife had suggested either Delaware or somewhere else ‘close to home’, basically something that could be driven to on about 4-6 hours. Any further and it would involve a little more planning (and luggage) as it was we were starting to test the abilities of the SUV we have to carry all that we were going to be taking.

Being interested in the American Civil War period, I suggested Antietam, in Sharpsburg, MD. We had visited Gettysburg, PA in 2007, and had a really good time there. Visited the battlefield on our own, and even contracted with the park for an official battlefield guide (HIGHLY recommend this option for anyone going there, you get a much better understanding of the event, as well as a knowledgeable guide for a modest fee) to give us a 3 hour tour of the area and the battle itself. We ended up with an amazing guide, he was a US Army veteran, recently returned from Iraq and had a very keen understanding of military tactics both from a 19th century as well as a 21st century POV.

Quite coincidentally, my wife had visited the battlefield when she was very young with her parents. Her Dad was a Bird Colonel in the US Air Force and they used to travel by plane on their family vacations. There are many times I wished I could have been around to see how her father would have interpreted different military scenarios. Having not served in the military myself, but having secondary education, I have my own viewpoints based on history. He lived and served during WWII, so he would have had a more personalized viewpoint. We never ended up having that sort of conversation, considering he died before the turn of the century.

Getting back to the story here, my apologies for getting off on tangents, just one of my many foibles. Having decided on where to go, we needed a place to stay. Now my wife and I both shop for many things online, and we comparison shop for things like hotel rooms as well as combing relevant websites that might have reviews that others miss. Between the two of us, we narrowed down the options to 2 chains, both in the Hagerstown area, which is about 12-15 miles from Sharpsburg. Anything closer and we’d end up trying to stay at a bed and breakfast. My wife and I would be considered ‘considerable’, so you don’t want to see the two of us trying to fit into a full-size bed. Or even a Queen. We’ve tried it before with less than desirable results. Suffice it to say, we’re better off in a hotel, where we can choose from viable options and at least in some way have a say, or at least a bit of control on how we’re going to be sleeping, eating, etc.

The one we finally chose had good ratings, decent reviews and had 2 more items on our respective checklists. My wife likes to stay at places that have either a pool, a jacuzzi/hot tub or (preferably) both. With the one we ultimately settled on, it had a King suite with a Jacuzzi in the room and an indoor pool (also a microwave and fridge in the room). What the reviews and other information failed to mention was, the hotel was undergoing considerable upgrades and construction, but I’ll address that in a bit. We both have AAA and AARP memberships so on a normally $250 a night room, we ended up spending a little more than $89/night. Pretty damn good on the surface.

[Unfortunately, it’s getting late and I need to be driving tomorrow in snow and rain, so I will continue this when I get back home…or at breakfast, depending on time constraints…..]

Time Away

Reading Time: 3 minutes

My wife and I are taking out first ‘away’ vacation in about 9 years. The last time that we went away for an extended period of time was 2009. We did 2 vacations that year. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we drove to the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX for short) rented a really nifty house with not only a jacuzzi but an inground pool (I know, right?) but it was less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean. Really nailed a good deal on that one. Later in the year we took a week and drove up to Grand Island near Buffalo, NY and rented a house on the Niagara River. Hot tub, in-ground pool, well-stocked game room, very modern kitchen and all the amenities. My wife even contracted with a local chef to come out and cook for us. Granted, that was a little pretentious, but she was a very good cook and the meals she made were especially scrumptious (as I recall, it was 9 freaking years ago)

In the intervening years, there were times that we could get away, but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. Life, as the saying goes, has a habit of getting in the way. So you either make the time, or it passes by without much having been changed. Too, my wife’s cockatiel (Oliver) was getting older, and she wasn’t much interested in going away, putting Oliver up with friends and then sometime during our time away hearing that little Oliver had passed away. So again, we didn’t go anywhere. And again, the years passed by.

Last June, Oliver finally passed on. Even so, even though I had several weeks of vacation time, there really didn’t seem to be the ‘right’ moment to go away together. Again life, in it’s myriad and mysterious iterations, got in the way. Through a bit of happenstance, I was able to drive to Virginia in early November to meet my then Mistress, but a trip for myself and my wife didn’t come together. And then there were the holidays.

Finally, we came to 2018 and the ever ensuing conundrum of how to use up my vacation time at work before I lose it. My wife doesn’t have this sort of problem, she’s been retired since 2005; every day is a vacation! It always seems to boggle me how I manage to stretch 4 weeks of time off from work to the last possible minute. And it does tend to drive my supervisor up the wall a bit too. He’d much rather I didn’t take any time off at all. (Fat chance, I earned every second of that time off, Bob!)

Basically, the plan was I was going to take off LAST week for my vacation and be at work THIS week for an important visit from one of the upper-level supervisors.  However,  this didn’t work out the way it was originally planned.  So here I am on the week that had been planned for over a month ago.  But whatever.  The point is, we’ve been able to get away, albeit only a short drive from home.  But away we are and doing things together.  Like we did back in ’09.  

Although we packed enough to be away for a lot longer than 3 days.  But that’s another post…for another day.

Hitting the road

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Wife and I are going to be away on vacation for the next several days.  I’m bringing my laptop with me, so I might actually have a chance to write in and amongst sightseeing and doing other things that vacationers do.