"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere beyond the morning." - J.B. Priestly

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Beautiful day for football

Jack is #58 (yellow sleeves and socks) in his first year playing tackle football.

Grandma Carter and I were on our way to Florida (flying out of Milwaukee) and got to catch Jack's football game on Saturday morning.  It was a beautiful Fall day with cool temperatures in the morning when he played, but warming up beautifully later.  Jack plays on both the offensive and defensive lines so he's getting a lot of good training.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Milwaukee County Fair

Mom and I are headed to Florida tomorrow so we came down to Milwaukee this afternoon as we're flying out of here and wanted some extra time with the kids before we leave. Earlier this week, Stacy and the kids had worked really hard on some photographs, plants, and baked goods to enter into the Milwaukee County Fair -- like people used to do in the old days.

One of the volunteers working at the fair gave them a hard time about whether the exhibits were really done entirely by Jack, and was actually quite rude about the whole thing. Unless you're in 4-H, you have to be entered in the 'Open' category where the minimum age is 8 so Anna, at 6, wasn't allowed to enter anything and there was a question as to whether she helped Jack. That turned into quite the difficulty, but it was eventually ironed out and the stuff Jack brought was entered.

This evening, we took a ride over to the fair held, not surprisingly, at the State Fair grounds. It's really disappointing to see the lack of entries. People just don't get involved like they used to.

Much of the judging was done and we were really thrilled to see that the kids had 6 blue ribbons in photography (one for each of their entries), a blue and two red for the 3 container plants they had entered, a red for Jack's cherry tomatoes, and it appeared that he was also going to get a blue ribbon for his peanut butter-Nutella cookies. I took a quick peek at the judge's sheet for his cookies, and can see why it took her 5 hours to judge what really were very few entries all-in-all. They have to judge size, color, taste, texture -- lots of different components.

In the end, though, the kids are really excited to have the ribbons and I hope they continue to get involved in this type of activity. One of my favorite movies has always been 'State Fair' and the judging of the pickle relish (with the inadvertent addition of too much booze) has always been a classic. Just seems like simpler times.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Master Gardener Work

In early 2011, I took the course and became a Master Gardener and a member of the Outagamie County Master Gardener's Association.  You kind of feel your way along as a new member of anything but, in 2012, the OCMGA needed someone to take over the management of the Facebook page so I took it on.  It has been fun, a good way to earn hours, and a way to get in touch with what's going on with the group.

In the last few months of 2012 I've started working to populate the new website that we've built, and will take on the management of the website going forward.  Now, this week, I've been asked to take over as Executive Secretary of the association and sit on the Board.

Guess I'll need to update my gardening blog with pictures from this past year, and take this whole thing a bit more seriously.

My Work as a Master Gardener

It's difficult to maintain separate blogs for the different aspects of my life.  I have one just for my traveling, one for gardening, and one for everyday journaling (my Pensieve).  I've thought of combining them but there are people that enjoy just reading one aspect of what I write -- and I also really like the lay-out of the travel and gardening blogs (more so than my Pensieve) so I hate to get rid of them.

With that in mind, then, I guess all I can do is reference the other ones when something happens and create a link so it all makes sense.

I've been a member of the Outagamie County Master Gardeners Association since finishing my course in early 2011.  Now, in November, I'll be joining the Board and becoming the Executive Secretary of our chapter.  A better description is in the blog.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Packers Game

I'm not a real avid football fan...and maybe that's actually putting it mildly.  When I go to a Packers game or watch it on TV, I do cheer for our team.  But, otherwise, I don't know the names of players or coaches or anything about the rest of the NFL.  Now that I think about it, I don't even know if the Packers are part of the AFC or NFC.  Well, whatever.

For some unknown reason, I decided to watch the game on Monday Night Football last night.  Jeff is out of town so I had the entire house and every television to myself, but I still ended up turning on the game part way through the first quarter.  Initially, I was mostly interested in the fact that they were playing in Seattle in the stadium that I just saw a month ago when we were there prior to heading to Alaska.  From the top of the ferris wheel out on the pier in Seattle, you have a really good view of the stadium.

Anyway, the game wasn't particularly good and I was primarily interested in watching the actions of the replacement refs that are being used this season while the NFL and the official's union try to come to some sort of agreement on whatever it is they don't agree on.  As I keep hearing, the refs were quite bad and made unknown number of poor calls, in addition to the fact that the game goes on FOREVER because of the number of fouls that are called.  I think there really are a lot of fouls because the players are pretty much out of control with bad playing and fighting.  I imagine it's only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured.

The end of the game, though, will be talked about for the rest of the season.  Blogs and social media sites lit up with comments, and ESPN has been focusing almost exclusively on the game in general (with the multiple bad calls), the lack of credentials and experience of the refs being utilized, and the really, really bad call that cost the Packers the game.  Maybe Seattle deserved to win the game because their defense really did play well during the whole game.  But no one likes to lose like that!

On the plus side, the jokes and cartoons that have occurred are awesome.  They started to appear literally within minutes of the end of the game.

And one of my favorite Twitter posts:
"Mr. Tate please walk us through how you scored a touchdown by committing a penalty and not catching the football"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Awesome Concert!

Jeff's favorite musical group has always been Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons.  Every time one of their songs would come on the radio, he'd say "Best group in the world ever", and things like 'Frankie Valli is the only guy who made a million dollars out of a hockey injury'.  Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to see 'Jersey Boys', which is a Broadway Musical based on the creation and success for Frankie Valli and the original Four Seasons.  It was incredible and, because of the huge success of the musical, the group has gained a huge following again and have begun to tour the country.  Imagine how excited I was when I found that Frankie Valli was coming to Appleton!

It isn't often that we're the youngest people at an event, but last night was certainly one of those times.  This group actually became popular in early and mid-1960s which is, admittedly well before our time so the majority of the people in the theatre were at least 10 years older than we were.  I saw a couple of canes and maybe even an oxygen tank, but mostly vibrant and excited middle-aged people who really rocked the house!

For a guy who turned 78 this year, he can really put on a show!

The band is different now; Frankie has gone Vegas.  He has 4 back-up singers (young guys:  3 from California and 1 from Ohio) who were really, really good.  At one point in the show, the singers are introduced and get to sing separately.  Then, there's a full band with 5 horns, 3 guitars, a drummer, and a keyboard.

The show is organized really well with the more recent music first, and then some songs that were recently released on a new CD (covers of songs made famous by other artists in the 60s), and, finally, the big hits from the 60s.  Everyone in the audience was singing along and cheering loudly when each of the songs were done.

There were 2 standing ovations during the evening, and the final one lasted through the encore.  It was a 2-song encore (including my favorite:  'Rag Doll') during which time the audience continued to stand and dance along.

I can honestly say that this was one of the best evenings of entertainment that I've enjoyed in a long time.  Jeff was only sorry that he had waited so long to finally see him in concert!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The End of Another Cottage Summer

It's always sad when we have to close up the cottage for the winter (and it's a lot of work!), but that's how we spent this Saturday.  The boats and docks are out of the water, the deck furniture is all sorted out and the grill put away, the beds are stripped and covered, and the cabinets are emptied.  Just a couple smaller tasks remain:  winterizing the boats, turning off the water, and emptying the refrigerator.

It was really windy and chilly at the lake today, but sunny.  It's hard to believe how quickly the weather changes:  Labor Day weekend was so beautiful that the kids were swimming!  The leaves show very little progress since Labor Day, so we're going to go back up in a couple of weeks just for the day to finish the tasks we still need to do and see if we can catch some of that beautiful Autumn color.

In the meantime, though, looking back at this summer:  hot and humid come to mind.  Like the rest of the country, it was extremely hot and humid up north (especially those first couple of weeks in July).  We didn't have a lot of campfires this summer and, due to rain late in the summer up north, we ended up with a lot of mosquitoes in August.  Still, we had a good time over the July 4th holiday (including some delicious Booyah), FishORee weekend, and Labor Day weekend, as well as the quieter weekends in between.  Got in some boating, and swimming, and exploring, and 4-wheeling, and we're looking forward to doing all of that again next summer!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Florida Residency

So my Mom spent 3 months in Florida last year and really, really loved it.  The weather was nice so she didn't have to deal with the snow and cold, and it got her out of that house where she had to deal with memories of my Dad and where she'd go days and days without seeing anyone else.  In Florida, she saw Dean or Carol every single day and there were always things going on.  Going back this year was an easy decision, but then Dean found a place for sale in that same gated park where she stayed last year.  It's smaller, but the same general lay-out, furnished, and a really good deal -- so she bought it!  We're going down to Florida at the end of September for a week to give her a chance to see the place she bought and make plans for decorating or whatever.

In August, we finally got the house in Rice Lake completely cleaned up and ready for sale, and it went on the market.  While we were in Alaska, I was communicating with the realtor and we decided that it was priced too high for the market (side note:  we had told him he was pricing it to high to begin with, but he wanted to try for the high sale).  Anyway, we got the price down to a more affordable range for young couples and she has had a little interest since then.  Now, this week, there was an offer on the house.

This is a really bad economy and depressed market.  In this instance, we have a potential buyer who goes around snapping up properties for considerably less than they're worth and renting them out.  When the market turns, he'll probably sell some of them.  Anyway, he offered Mom $20,000 less than the listing price on the house.  She wants to sell the house, but no one wants to lose that much money.  So, she countered with a price right in the middle (which is still $10,000 less than the listing) and they had wanted her out by the end of the month, but the counter-offer gives the middle of next month as the vacate date.  They have 'til Thursday to accept or decline.  Mom is really torn because she doesn't want to have an empty house sitting in Wisconsin where she'd have to keep up the utilities, insurance, etc while she's gone, but selling too low isn't a good option either.  Well, we'll see.

The next step, then, will be to figure out when we can get her to Florida for the winter and how that will be done.  Originally, we would have planned to just throw her things in the van and go.  Now, we might have to factor in getting a truck or trailer to take her things to Florida.  That would be a good problem to have!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Badger Weekend

This past weekend we were lucky enough to have the most beautiful end-of-summer weather!  It was in the 80s on both Saturday and Sunday with temps staying in the 60s in the evening until pretty late.  That was especially nice because we spent the weekend in Madison.

Mike, Debbie and Ben flew in from Salt Lake City on Friday afternoon and we went to The Old-Fashioned in downtown Madison right by the capitol.  The place was absolutely packed and we had to wait for over an hour just to be seated.  But we had some great cheese curds and the guys tried interesting beers while we waited.  Then, we went back to our hotel (Hampton Inn & Suites) for some drinks and snacks in our room.

On Saturday, Peg, Len, Tim and Tracy and Scott, Maggie, and Scott all drove down and we had a really fun day hitting various hot spots near Camp Randall, and generally getting in the mood for a Badger game.  Debbie met a 'real' Badger fan, and the Utah State fans got some generally good-natured ribbing from the Badger fans.

Alex was decked out in his Badger shirt, plus his soccer gear because he had played soccer that morning before coming down to Madison (and he scored 4 goals in a row).  As we were walking around the area near Camp Randall before the game, Alex was thrilled to meet the real Bucky Badger and show him the smaller version that Alex had brought along.

 My favorite part of the evening was the Wisconsin Band, which entertained at half-time and during the fifth quarter.  Earlier in the day, though, while we were enjoying the afternoon at one of the pre-game party areas, the Drum Corps came through and entertained the crowd.  (Note:  while we were in that party area, Alex also caught some beads that were thrown out into the crowd from the stage so he was pretty excited).

On Sunday, we headed back downtown to the State Street area just to enjoy the beautiful Sunday morning weather, and we found a Mexican restaurant that also had big screen TVs everywhere, which was the best part for the guys who were dying to see what was happening with their Fantasy teams.

All-in-all, a really fun weekend with beautiful weather and a pretty exciting end to the Badger game (which they ended up winning when Utah State missed the field goal with seconds to go).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Get in Line!

Yes, I need to lose weight.  Since I stopped working full-time, I find that I'm enjoying my leisure pursuits:  reading and watching movies/TV.  Both of those involve a good deal of sitting so my backside has gotten to be the size of a battleship.  So, I'm working on it -- sort of.

The past week, I've been watching old episodes of 'Burn Notice' and the good part of that is that I've now developed the need to have yogurt every day -- into which I usually slice some fresh fruit.  So the show is actually helping me eat healthy!

I'm continually struck by how much I love Bruce Campbell who, no matter what role he has, always plays Bruce Campbell.  Today, he accomplished some wonderful thing and Michael says "I could kiss you", to which Sam (Bruce Campbell) replies, "Get in line."  He's just so understatedly awesome!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Anniversary Party

This past Saturday night was part of a totally awesome weekend!  Mom, Susie, Doug, Shi and the boys all came over, joined by Steve, Stacy & the kids.  We did a little shopping on Saturday at Goodwill and St. Vinnie's, followed by a really fun anniversary party.

Stacy did all of the leg-work in finding a good spot for us to have a party, and we kept the guest list down to just family and very close friends -- and everybody came!  There were 32 adults and 12 kids packed into a private room at Stone Cellar Pub where we had our own private bar, music on Scott's playlist entertaining us all night, good food (with really great pizza), and a lot of laughs.  The kids were running around all night (supervised mainly by Maggie and Stacy), and the memories just kept flowing.

We have really awesome friends and family!

End of Summer Update

It would be nice to think that I would contribute to my own blog more regularly going forward but, of course, that won't really happen.  In lieu of that, though, will be occasional updates.  This has been an unusual summer due to the fact that it wasn't a very long or hard winter, and there has been almost no rain all summer.  Combined with the really high temps, it hasn't been all that great! 

We had a lovely and long summer vacation up north the first week of July.  Stacy's writing buddy, Ken Keffer, came up for several days and there were lots of discussions of nature-related things, plus some kayaking.  The kids caught a lot of fish and did a lot of swimming.  Jeff put the slide off the side of the dock this year and it has gotten a lot of use!

Alex played T-Ball again this summer and he was so amazingly improved in confidence and in ability.  As a result, of course, he loved it.  I was able to get to Milwaukee to see Jack play a couple of times as well.

In early July, Dean & Carol were up from Florida for several weeks and we all gathered in Rice Lake for a weekend to work at getting Mom's house ready for sale.  The amount of work done that weekend was amazing!  New carpeting went down, the windows were all washed and cabinets cleaned, boxes and boxes of stuff was hauled away along with excess furniture, new landscaping was put in the front with lava rock and timbers, the deck and front retaining wall were all painted -- and all during 90+ degree weather.  I went back a couple of weeks later, then, to finish getting the rooms organized and ready and it went up for sale in early August.  Now we're all keeping our fingers crossed that it's priced appropriately and will get some interest.

Second weekend in August was FishORee weekend up at the lake.  We really lucked out with good weather so the kids could enjoy swimming, and we had fun at the event itself.  Peg & Len plus some of their family were there and, then, came back to the cottage so the kids could fish off our dock.  Kevin & Andrea came later that evening to have some fun around the fire.

During the latter part of August, Mom, Susie and I went to Seattle and onto a Carnival cruise ship to Alaska where we celebrated Mom's birthday on the day we set said (See http://castleswavesandvolcanoes.blogspot.com/ for complete details), after which Jack & Anna came back to Appleton to stay with us for a couple of days prior to Labor Day.  The Labor Day weekend was up north, of course, and the weather could not have been more beautiful.  Draft day was Sunday with everyone in attendance and some good food and fun.  Jack & Anna didn't bring bathing suits but managed to be in the water anyway!

Everyone hates to see the end of summer.  I'm hoping now for some cooler days and nights before we actually head into Fall.  The trees are already changing up north so I imagine it won't be long here.  We have lots of things planned though for the next few weeks so I think we'll be really busy right through the end of the year.  With that in mind, then, I need to stay on top of these blogs!