Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Family Day

Why yes we went to the Big Birthday Bash! For the three year old grand daughter. At her house. She had all the relatives on both sides of her family. And she selected her favorite meal to serve.

TACOS! And she really likes them. At three, I doubt I even knew what a taco was but then times are different now. And the world is a much smaller place. When I was ten I got to go to South Dakota, and I thought I was a million miles from home. She has been all over the country at age three.

But the big attraction after the gift opening, was the Jayhawk basketball game. Davidson led for much of the time and could have won if the three point shot had gone at the buzzer. I think the entire Eastern half of Kansas exhaled at exactly the same moment, as the buzzer sounded.

As I am not from Kansas but merely a recent transplant, my loyalties are more superficial. But to the relatives on my daughter in laws side of the family, this is life and death stuff. And man they were scared. Remember that it was this game last year that ended their tournament hopes. And continued coach Self's label, as the best coach that has never been to a final four.

Well he's there now. And he has NC to look forward to. And Roy Williams, the old coach from KU. So that is a mountain, that quite frankly seems insurmountable. At least to this outsider anyway.

Some of the family are die hard Missouri fans and could care less about KU. And they did get their digs in during the game. Cheering for Davidson and other ill spirited things. Fun was in the eyes of the beholder. But the grand daughter was busy playing with her new stuff, and didn't really care what all the fuss was about.

It rained here late in the afternoon and was very cold. Will spring ever come? Maybe we have to get this basketball thing over first.

Saturday with the Grand Daughter

Our three year old grand daughter came by to play this afternoon. Her mommy and grandmother on the other side had a wedding shower to attend. So we always jump at the chance to get some time with her.

Again we were able to play the afternoon away. She took a good nap, and her dad came by in the early evening. So it was off to Fuddruckers for a big hamburger. She seems to like the burgers at this restaurant as she had her very own, with french fries. And lots of pickles, and then some more pickles.

So we came back home and proceeded to stick our head in the computer for the rest of the night. How does that burn so much time? And am I really that much smarter after these sessions?

I must really enjoy the experiences I read about, as I am quite addicted.

Oh, we did get the bid for the yard watering system back in the email. Now I wish he hadn't sent it. It is several thousand and startled me that it was as much as it is. Oh boy, now a decision to make. And at tax time too.

Tomorrow, it is the three year olds belated birthday party at her house. We will go and eat too much and she will get lots of presents. It is an opportunity to see some of the family on the daughter in laws side, whom we only see about twice a year.

So with that coming up it is time to close this notebook computer and give it a rest for a while.

Have a good Sunday, and too the family, we'll see you at the party!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

More working!

It seems that I have been working at Chris' car lot more this week, than I have in the past. And today was no exception. He likes to get oil changes and tire rotations on the cars before they are offered for sale. Seems that they drive more smoothly with some balancing and fresh oil.

So you know who was sitting and waiting for these jobs to be completed. Not too exciting, more just time consuming. But if I get some of these mindless tasks off the table, he can concentrate more on marketing and networking. What are fathers for anyway?

So before I knew what happened it was 5 PM. The new arrival cars are ready to be sold, and I'm out of here.

This is the fourth Friday of the month and its Ham Club night. I burned home and ate a couple hot dogs to tide me over, and its off to the Church for the meeting.

We had the general business meeting, and then they showed a video, of the MFJ factory. MFJ makes a wide assortment of Amateur Radio accessories, and have bought the rights to many of the products that are popular, but not necessarily profitable. As a combined company, they have kept many items available, that would otherwise have ceased to exist.

Over the years, a number of folks have teased, MFJ stood for Mighty Fine Junk. Actually it is the initials of the man that owns the company.

After the meeting, most of the folks went to the local Godfathers Pizza, where we watched Kansas in the NCAA tournament. And now they are part of the elite eight. But the conversation was largely electronic in nature and lasted until 10:30. That is when the restaurant begins to encourage us to leave.

We'll do it all over again on the second Friday in April. They are a good group.

Its way past my bed time, so until tomorrow. Another big day of retirement!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not Yet

If you were trying to sell a sprinkler system to a new customer, wouldn't you go right back to your office and crank out a bid for the job?

Or would you let the fellow wonder where you went, and if you had his best interests in mind. We have not heard anything from the sprinkler system man today. Loyce said "its only been a day give him some time."

But if I wanted a job, I know nothing would come between me and the intended customer, until I landed the work. But then that is my A type personality. This fellow is more of a C type guy. Que sera sera. If I do his work fine, If I don't do his work fine.

I didn't anticipate any action from the sprinkler guy today, so I went about my business. I went to son Chris' car dealership and helped him work on the broken stuff on the latest cars. We spent the day poking and prodding the broken and unacceptable.

The trick for the folks that take cars to the auto auction, is to hide the stuff they do not want you to figure out, before the auction. Mostly, let you figure out whats wrong after the car is yours. Like roll up the mats that are stained and put them in the back of the van. You find out, that you have to get new ones, after you get it home.

So the first thing you need to do is try all the stuff on the car to see if it works. And tires is a big issue. They never have tires that are any good. Seems that cars only get traded in after the tires are bald.

So we went to the discount tire dealer, over on the Missouri side. And I do mean discount. This place was back in the back, behind the junk car yard. Down a dead end street. You know it is questionable, when the address is 217 1/2. That has to be the house, behind the house, or something.

Its a big fenced lot with used tires piled high around the inside of the fence. There were three metal lawn buildings and three metal roofed carports with hoists under them. The guys with the tire machines were in the lawn buildings. New tires were in three semi trailers that had no running gear and set directly on the ground.

There was a wooden building about 10 X 14 that was the office. Had two park benches and a pop machine inside. And a counter with a desk behind it. I saw places like this just this winter, in Mexico!

Oh, but he had a security system of cameras from almost every corner. They were set up in the tin lawn buildings and above the trailer doors for the new tires. Rick could see the entire empire, from the chair in his office. Folks in his tire business are watched at all times. The only other shed on the premises was a plastic kybo up by the front gate. And no I didn't look in it.

Life is full of experiences, and this was a new one for me. I wish, I would have thought to take the camera. But it was only about 15 minutes and bam, the tires were mounted and balanced. At only 80 bucks each, all inclusive. Looks like we have a new tire dealer. I never did figure out what the brand was, but Chris said they were the second line under Michelin.

To say the least, this was the experience of the day. I would bet there are dogs in the fence at night, but that is only a speculation.

So now, I wonder how I will top that tidbit of fun for tomorrow?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Sprinkler Man

We he was lost when he called at 10:30, but at least he was on his way. I live at South 135th and he was looking at 87th. Only 50 blocks to the North. But as I said, he was on his way.

It was cold outside when he came, with the wind blowing from the North. Man if it will ever just warm up some. This global warming thing is not finding its way to the Kansas City area. But then Eastern Missouri has had so much rain, as to flood the whole area, so I will not complain too loudly.

At the Lake we live on a steep hill side. It is fifty feet from the main floor to the waters edge. It would take 40 feet of water in the lake to get anywhere near our house. So the rain and flooding will not cause us any trouble.

The lake has big spillway gates, that they open with a crane system. I have been going to the lake for 25 years, and have maybe seen these gates open four or five times. It is a real emergency when the flood gates are open. The water cascades out of the lake like Niagara Falls.

There are several towns below the dam between the lake and the Missouri River. They have to watch how much water they send out at once, or else these towns will be flooded. The dam is not a Federal dam, but rather belongs to the local electric utility. They are liable for damages if they cause them. So the flood gates stay closed.

We do need to go back to the Lake, but would rather it would be a warmer group of days. Start the pontoon boat and have some fun driving around. Gas will be $4 a gallon on the water. But someone will have to burn it, Right?

But I digress! The sprinkler man left all kinds of little flags around the yard, where he wants to put sprinkler heads. White ones, Yellow ones, Orange ones, and so forth. Each color represents a different type of head. Said he will email me the bid. I'll bet that takes a week, knowing how long it took him to get here. But then we really do not need to water in the cold anyway.

My son called and has two cars to pick up at the auction this afternoon. So the Mexican lunch is on him. He will need to have Loyce drive us both up to the auction, and drop us off. So it will cost him two lunches. We had buritos with rice and beans. And the obligatory chips and salsa. I was stuffed.

We got back here about 6:30 and the day was gone. Isn't it amazing how fast you can spend a day, when you are retired?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Day Began Early

Some times you wake up in the middle of the night and your internal clock is messed up. This morning it was at 4:30. It wasn't light out and everyone else was asleep. But me!

Often times when that happens, I go back to sleep at about 6:30. When I was working, that was about the time the alarm would sound to get ready for work.

And then you wouldn't worth a darn all day. But thats not a problem any more, because it doesn't matter if I am worth anything to anyone, except to myself.

As I look back on yesterday, I was terribly chilled last night after dinner. Just couldn't get warm. Then I felt like bunk all night. So now tonight the wife claims its cold in here, and she is dreary looking and has the headache. We got a 24 hour bug going around this house!

Perhaps one of the kids had something from Sunday. One will never know. So I slept in the chair through out the morning. I read the computer for a while and the next thing I would know, I would wake up and an hour was gone. Same thing happened at about 4:30 in the afternoon, the next thing I know its 6:30.

I did manage to go and buy some more groceries at the local Wal-Mart at about 3 in the afternoon. We have been making the Taco Soup recipe from the RV-Dreams web site. Linda Payne again, and her RV recipes. The wife set out the cast iron soup pot and said more Taco Soup.

So that was the object of the Wal-Mart Run. Funny how $50 jumps into your basket when you went over for a coupla cans of beans.

We have been trying to get one of the sprinkler companies to come over and bid a water sprinkler system for our yard. For the last three weeks, it seems they will not return your call. This morning I forced the issue, so then the guy was to be here at 4 PM. He called at about 3:45 and said he wasn't coming. Now it's re scheduled for 10 AM tomorrow.

People really do not want your business. I wonder if they are so stretched that they can not take care of the existing customers. If I am stood up tomorrow morning, I will not pursue this outfit any further.

So thats living life as it comes, here in Overland Park. Funny, its midnight, and I'm not really very sleepy.............

Monday, March 24, 2008

Working on Taxes

Today was boring! First I realized that I was standing in water when I was in front of the toilet. This house is just barely two years old, so why am I standing in water? And after we experienced this in the trailer for most of the winter, now the house has the same problem.

I noticed it the other night at about 4:30 in the morning, but thought I must be dreaming. I wasn't. So I tossed the bath towel into the water and got down to investigate. Not wet on the bottom of the tank, but this valve at the shut off is soaked.

We have PEX flexible plastic tubing in this house, which is a far cry from copper or CPVC plastic. The joints are crimped with a tool that costs over $100. Needles to say I do not own one. But the crimp joint looked fine.

The tube from the shut off is the old style, made from cheap chrome with a brass ferrell. These are notorious for getting crimped sideways, so it was off to Lowe's for a flexible hose replacement, with the pre made fittings.

These are only $3.50 even with the stainless woven shield. But then they would have had to use four, one for each commode. Cheap ruled the day. But then, even I only bought one, since the others haven't failed, so I'm just as cheap.

The remainder of the day was working on Income Tax. This is unpleasant at best. But then, when the computer wouldn't read last years return from the CD, Grrrr. Then I figured out we sold an investment last February, and that I never deposited any Cap Gains Tax in the quarterly estimate. Grrrr. Penalty?

I just quit for today. So maybe tomorrow will be more pleasant. The weather warmed up to 58 today and will only go down to 44 tonight. Not like it was in Texas but still not too bad.

Oh and as I went to bed last night, I determined that the battery in the truck was dead. I had left the phone hooked up, and the GPS on. We only go to the local Wal-Mart and back, and its under a mile. So the battery wasn't at the top of its game to start with.

Nice thing to end your day with, outside barefoot running the drop cord out, and connecting the charger. The dome light wouldn't even come on. But then if I hadn't put the charger on, how would I have gone to Lowe's this morning?

I think I'll chill out for the rest of the evening.........

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

We had the Easter Brunch! It was at our house with all the Kids! Our two son's and their wives, and all four grand kids!

In short, it is a zoo. The gkids know that grandma has toys in the front closet, and they drug them all out. Oh and the kitchen set is in the hearth room along one wall. So the girls are competitive to make the next imaginary meal. All while the big girls are cooking for real.

We had eggs benedict, cheesy hash brown casserole, coffee cake with the brown sugar topping, baked french toast, sausage patties, fruit ambrosia, and flavored coffee. This is high sugar stuff, so I am afraid to check the old blood sugar. Maybe, just not eat anything more for a while. Some exercise here in a little bit could help a lot.

Everyone went home when the kids got tired. When sharing of toys becomes difficult, then you know its time to end the fun.

So just hanging around and watching he NCAA tournament this afternoon.

Have a good Easter at your house, and try not to eat too many candy eggs!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Just Hangin Around

Yesterday started as a computer day. One where I catch up on all the blogs and favorite sites that I follow. It is amazing how that can spend your otherwise valuable time.

When I received the mail, the passwords for the new bill paying service I set up with the bank arrived. So I had to see if I could get that going. First you have to add all your vendors. Thats the folks that you owe the money to, in layman's terms. It is really an accounts payable package like we used at the corporate office, only its tied to MY bank account.

They can't explain much about it, to you at the financial institution. They never know what any pin number is, since they could then pay their own bills with your account funds. So you are pretty much on your own to get it set up.

I paid three trial amounts, to folks that I had plenty of time to send a paper check to. We will watch to see how long it takes, and make judgement later. If it works well it will be a godsend for traveling on the road.

When we are out for an extended period of time, especially over a month end, it is hard to know how much to pay. I can have one of my son's intercept the bills as they come in and just tell me how much to pay. Or if we are stationery, they can forward the bills to us at a park. But if possible it is best to get the bills on line. Or emailed to us.

The gas company has been emailing the bills to us and they can be saved in a PDF file format. That makes using the online disbursement system a snap. If you study the bill long enough, there is usually a web site where you can check in, to get your balance.

Now lets see, what password did I use with these people?

I soon became bored with the bill payment system and instant messaged my son to go to the Mexican restaurant. It is South of his car dealership about four blocks. It is in an old Pizza Hut building that isn't Red anymore. I said I would pay! "And your not here yet?" the message came back. Gota love our connected world.

I had Camarones al Mojo de Ajo, or Shrimp in Garlic Sauce. This is what I was ordering in Progresso Nueveo. And it was just as good as it was in Mexico. With hot tortillas in the foil wrapper. Wow! Loyce passed on the lunch, her loss. I'll bet she will go next time.

She really doesn't look forward to going to the car garage for some reason. Imagine that. So after lunch, we headed out with two cars to get inspected for a Missouri sticker.

Yes Missouri has the old inspection law, that you can't get a new tag without a new sticker. It costs $12 and the price is set by the state. None of the garages want to mess with it, so you have to plead to get it done. And we had two cars!

Finally the third garage took us in. It's a racket, as they check the lights and horn, look at the wipers, exhaust, brakes, and tires. And bang there's your sticker.

We are preparing for a big get together here tomorrow for Easter. Loyce is cooking and cleaning, so I think it is time to go hide in the basement. Maybe do some guy things. That would be using the desktop computer down there and staying out of sight.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Washing the Rig

As you may remember, I started to resurrect the pressure washer several days ago. Without success. As it was to be in the 60's today, I returned to that project in earnest this morning.

At one time in my life, as I was attending college, I had many mechanical places of employment. I worked as a mechanic in the Armstrong tire factory, also at a marina in Clear Lake Iowa. I also held jobs at various filling stations, back when auto repair was actually standard practice in the neighborhood oil station.

I didn't mind getting quite grimy in those days, but today I do not look forward to this outcome.

But the carburetor on the pressure washer was in need of a good cleaning. So I placed the machine up on a couple of barrels, and had at it. I managed to remove the pieces in short order, even though they were fastened with Torx screws. I had the right tools for once.

Once apart, the float bowl contained a goo that resembled carpet glue. I used alcohol and a bunch of rags to remove this buildup. The machine hasn't been used for several years and this is the result. So please use stabil in your gasoline engines and start them regularly.

With the washer running, it was off to get the trailer from storage. Everything was more than rusty, as I hitched up. The road salt, from driving in the snow storm, had already taken its toll.

Once home with the trailer, I spent the day scrubbing the salt and road grime from the unit.

The washer worked great, but it still required a brush and a bottle of black streak remover to get things clean. The plastic parts of the trailer become stained beyond the ability of normal soaps to remove. Especially where the water runs off of the roof, and around the window jambs.

This isn't too exciting work, but it is a job that comes with RVing. The folks in the Rio Grande Valley have various Mexican work crews that are available in the parks, to perform this task. And in Corpus Christi, most folks wash their units regularly as the salt sea air and fog causes numerous problems for the trailers.

We washed our rig there too, but did not anticipate the sloppy freezing rain, sleet, and snow on the return trip. So now we are ready to go again, once it warms to above freezing and stays that way.

Last year my sons went out camping in the middle of March, and then we had a hard freeze the first week of April. This required some scrambling to get things re winterized for a week or so.

Since we spent seven weeks in the RV, I think we can wait until mid April to go again. But who knows, the rest of the family hasn't been out since last fall.

In closing tonight, I was able to allow my mind to wander as I washed the cars and camper today. Included were thoughts of the fact it was Maundy Thursday, and the underlying story of the last supper. The washing of the disciples feet and the eucharist. Thoughts of Peter denying his association with Jesus and Judas' betrayal.

Above all, the thought that Jesus went to bed that night, knowing that he would be killed for his beliefs in the morning. I was struck by how unusual this kind of commitment would be in our world today. What would cause such a commitment if it wasn't divine? But then the Muslim suicide bombers are so committed, that they believe they will reach heaven if they go thru with their deadly plots.

As you read this, it is good Friday, take a moment to reflect on the death of Christ, and its message for our lives. Whether you are Christian or another religion, the underlying message of God is one of good will.

I only wish we as people, could learn to use our religions to unify, rather than divide the peoples of the world......

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Radio Auction in Des Moines

Our trip to Des Moines had to start at 7:15 AM and due to the time change it is just getting light. And the fog and rain didn't help much either. The row of cars on the right are in line to get off in the Overland Park Business district.

Not so bad once we get all those folks to work! Still the on coming lane is solid cars.

We arrive in Des Moines. Francies is a cheers type bar on Fluer drive near the Air Port.

Lowell is ready to get this auction going, even though it won't start for six more hours.

Here comes Bob."The Commander" Our senior most member.

Once out at the Auction, in the Sheldahl Park shelter house, Mike says hey this spaghetti isn't half bad.

Tom, the auctioneer (with the bib and the big smile) and his wife. Also Allen our public address system operator. The system he brings is awsome, for both music and voice.

Ed says I need to take your picture, so I can remember how bad you really look.

The guys at the teller's table. They are using a computer to keep straight who owes how much to whom,

Tom in the row ahead of me politely asks us, "Would you guys just shut up, so we can get this started?"

One dollar, one dollar, do I hear Two. Now Two dollars in the back row.

Aw come on guys, you can go higher than that. Bust loose and pay what this is worth!

And so the auction went for about three hours of slightly used junk! Nothing too pricey, mostly just changing old toys from my house to yours. Electronic toys that is, with some other worthless items thrown in. Like a leather sheathed machetti. Now what in the world would you need with that? I think it brought $16.

This is an annual event, that many radio clubs have each year. It is as much fellowship and comradery, as it is serious purchasing opportunity.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Big Family Night

I worked part of the day at the car warehouse that my oldest son runs in Belton, Mo.

That is until the dear wife called all frantic because it was 4:30 and she had invited everyone to our house for Spaghetti Amour from the RV-Dreams website. Trouble is she doesn't know how to make this dish. She also doesn't read the RV-Dreams website or have it in a favorites list. (See Linda's recipes in the tabs on the left)

So I was late for the party, and oh, by the way you are the cook! Right after you go to Wal-Mart and buy the stuff. And by the way, the one year old is hungry right now. Gee, I wasn't even in the same State that she was. But I was only about 15 miles away.

The results of the baked spaghetti was good, and we had both sons, one daughter-in-law, and some of the grand kids. Our other daughter-in-law is in Des Moines, with the two older gkids, so they missed out.

I followed Linda Payne's recipe, except...... I use Italian sausage, instead of hamburger, and I add half a jar of sauce to the liquid and meat mixture. Cooked it for the full hour, and it had more liquid when served. Everyone liked it until the after effects started. Must be the fresh onion, garlic, and green peppers. I'll spare you from further discussion.

I leave for Des Moines, early in the morning as I want to be there for lunch at Francie's. A cheers bar on the South side near the airport. This will be a whirl wind trip, going to the radio auction Tuesday night and returning Wednesday morning. I really will not see many folks there except for those at the event. The weather will be questionable on Wednesday morning, and the son needs me to be back in the afternoon, if he buys a car or two from the auction.

With that said, I will post this now and hit the sack. Big day tomorrow.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cheese Soup

I find that the first thing necessary to make good cheese soup is to make chicken soup. Without the chicken base, the cheese is way too bland all by itself. So I have devised a good way to toss together a quick cheese soup. At least I like this method.

I use a can of creamed chicken, and one of cream of celery. To this I add a can of chicken broth, and refill one of the empty cans of soup with milk. This makes a base cream of chicken soup. I generally use reduced salt soups because the DW does not like too much salt.

As this came to temperature, I added an 8 oz block of cheddar jack cheese, grated. A can of sliced cooked potatoes will add some texture and body. Then add seasonings to your taste. I like garlic and basil. Some parsley is also nice. Along with the potatoes, I some times add some cheese curds, or chop up some common string cheese sticks. These do not melt, but become soft and gooey and add an interesting cheesy touch.

This is not a soup to try to loose weight with, of course. But it is hot and good on a cold day like we had today. It was up to the early 50's but never seemed warm as it was overcast and on the verge of rain all day.

We had several Robins in the back yard this afternoon. They arrived here the first part of the week. Loyce spotted them and was excited they had arrived. But this afternoon they were all puffed up in their red breast. I'm sure they were wondering just why they were this far North in March.

I was hoping that the weather man could forecast some sun for this week, but so far it is gloomy for the next three days.

I will be going to the annual Spaghetti feed and auction held in the Des Moines area by the local ham radio club on Tuesday. It will be a 4 hour drive to get there and a single overnight motel stay. I am looking forward to seeing all the guys from Iowa. I haven't been there since the Christmas visit to the wife's side of the family.

Loyce had talked some of going with me, but now has a quilt that she is working on. She feels that it is much too important to take time away from the project. She is cutting the fabric on the cutting table and does not think she could take the supplies with her.

So other than these things, the heat continues to run and run and run. We will wake up one of these days and find that the system has changed over to air conditioning, without the slightest pause.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another Day

I was on the RV-Dreams chat room, the other night and typed in a comment about how hard it is to write a blog when you didn't go anywhere or do a darn thing all day.

I said "I got up had coffee and blah blah blah. And referred to it as about the most boring thing I could write. Well low and behold Ellie of Just Travelin here on blogspot quoted me on her blog the next day, and kind of inferred that I might have been referring to her blog.

Oh boy the folks came out of the wood work to support her left and right. Well I meant that my blog gets boring when I have coffee and blah blah blah. So I left a comment to that effect on her blog. Man I hope that didn't get me in too much trouble. Me an my big mouth.

But today was another one of those days when I never started the truck and my eyes are going bonkers from reading the computer all day. We had our three year old grand daughter here from about noon on, and we played the afternoon away with her.

My wife has a plastic kitchen set that she acquired second hand somewhere, and we ate imaginary food all afternoon. After having supper for real and coaxing her to eat the rest of her baked potato, and ice cream as a prize, it was up to a bath.

Then we watched Disney's Cinderella. Man even I was bushed after all that. She is upstairs asleep, as I write this.

It snowed here this morning but got warm enough in the afternoon to melt the whole mess. We are back down to 33 here at midnight. Will it ever warm up? The house is warm and the heat pump is running, and running. The gas will kick in here after we get below 30 degrees.

So another slow day in KC but then isn't that why I retired?

Friday, March 14, 2008

A day of Work

I spent Friday working at the used car dealership that belongs to my oldest son. He is in the startup phase of this new business. Everything needs to be completed yesterday, and there are only a few family members to help. So I have been pressed into service to make phone calls, work on computers, and provide general assistance. Even if it is sweep the floor.

Later in the evening, I went to the amateur radio club meeting for the first time in 2008. I went to the Christmas meeting in December, but since we left town on January 1, I haven't been back since then.

Much has changed but then much is the same as well. We always adjourn to the local Godfathers Pizza restaurant. It is near the church where the business meeting is held. This is a free for all that takes up about half of the restaurant. Everyone orders a mini pizza and a drink. Confuses the daylights out of the restaurant staff. I think that everyone talks at once and very few listen. When they bring the orders one by one, they can never figure out who's is who's.

So back home at 11PM and I haven't read a single blog or thought about writing this one either. Didn't get a chance to do anything on the pressure washer project or the tax return, so those projects still loom.

It is to get cold and 70 percent chance of snow, starting tomorrow. It is almost unprecedented, to have this kind of weather this late in the year. Tomorrow will bring a winter set of challenges, so we can explain how we coped in the next blog. See you then.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Around Town

Seems like its go go go, but where have I been? Well nowhere in particular. Over to Wal-Mart and pick up tax software and some microfibre cloths. Oh and an ottoman for the RV. Impulse buy.

But it matches the chairs in the rig perfectly. It is dark green and is oval with the removable lid to store more junk in. They had several colors, but this one is the ticket to match our unit. It is kind of cheap, but will not be too big, and lays in the seat when the slider is in. We have swivel rockers but they do not recline, so this is just fine.

It was not as warm here today as mid 60's in overcast was all we could muster. Could not convince myself to go get the trailer and start washing, as it threatened rain all afternoon. I did start working on the gas power washer this afternoon, and made some headway.

I got the blockage out of the nozzel with a dremmel drill bit. A real tiny bit. It was clogged with a rubber fibre that was hard and wouldn't push out. I got a hat pin style needle from Loyce, but couldn't push it thru. I changed the crankcase oil and drained the old gas. But when I started the engine it ran over gas out of the carb. It ran really rich and smoked and faultered. So I have needle valve problems on the float in the carb.

I will continue on this project another day. It about kills me to keep pulling and pulling the rope start. Makes the old heart pound and I have to stop for a while. I told Loyce I could just roll the thing out to the curb for garbage. But the new replacement would only have half as good an engine on it as this Briggs Industrial 5 Hp. So I will do what it takes to fix this one.

I loaded the tax software on the laptop, but then lost interest. But I did go get the printer cartridge traded at cartridge world. The printer knows that it is a refill cartridge, somehow, and refuses to say that the ink is full. Every time you print it stops and gives trouble about the non Lexmark refill. That will get old. Its a conspiracy to make you buy genuine! I generally do not like companies that do that.

So we started a lot of projects today, but didn't finish a one. If I was paying for this kind of help, I would let them go. Kind of hard to fire yourself though, isn't it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Recommendation

I do not usually suggest that readers go to another site, as it was hard enough to get you to come to this site.

But today, I am compelled to suggest that you check out Seeing the USA in our Chevrolet.

Gordon and Juanita stopped by the Grand Canyon yesterday. His pictures are to die for.

These folks are from California and are headed North and West. To Alaska! I am following with great anticipation.

Gordon has a new Nikon camera (drool) and several long lenses. Go check out his pictures and story.

We are stuck in the day by day grind of the retired city dweller. Loyce likes this just fine, as she is working on another quilt for one of the grand kids. For me, I have the travel itch. I always want to go some where. Any where!

I spent years as an auditor, and traveled from town to town in Iowa. Each week held a new adventure, as we went on yet another financial audit. So confinement to a stick house in Kansas City is hard for me.

We made it up to 64 degrees here yesterday. That is the first time I was able to wear my sandals and a T shirt. Hope to break over into shorts soon. Perhaps that will help my hitch itch syndrome. Get the pontoon boat out and started. Turn some four dollar gas into smoke over the lake.

In the mean time, our personal taxes need to be started. A task that I always dread. When I did your taxes, I was removed from the process. I didn't have to feel the pain of writing the check at the end. But not so with our own. So there is the built in dread of the job.

The hard part of doing other folks returns was telling them how bad it was. The look on their faces as they found out they owed more than they had saved back. And the politicians are going to repeal the tax cuts, and raise our taxes back like they were before. I'm glad I only do one tax return now, each year. My own!

Now go look at Gordon's pictures!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Odd Ball Oil Filter

Last fall as I was getting everything ready for winter, I decided to change the oil in the John Deere garden tractor. It is a small tractor but it is a better one as it has the kohler engine. It has a pressure oil system. And it has an oil filter.

They want big bucks to come get the thing and change the oil for you. Then redeliver it back again. And I am tiiiiiiight. Won't pay it!! Not 80 bucks for a quart and a half of oil. And the filter of course.

So I set in trying to find a matching filter. It was installed by the factory and wouldn't budge. I tried all the filter tools that I had and it still wouldn't come off. So I bought the closest filter that I could find, at Wal-Mart.

I couldn't get it off, so I was just going by my recollection. And at 60+ years, my recollection aint too much. So I bought something close, and took it home. Still couldn't get it to budge.

Went to the Auto Zone to see if they had the matching filter, or a way to look it up. They didn't and couldn't. But they did have a oil filter wrench that had three fingers that collapsed onto the bottom, as you turn counter clockwise. I used a 3/8ths breaker bar and bodily removed it, totally wrecking it in the process.

And now I could see that it didn't match the one I bought at Wal-Mart. Oh boy, the 80 bucks began to look much better. Just by chance, I went to Lowes. They sell John Deere tractors, but the much cheaper line that have Briggs motors in them. But I was out of ideas, except for the Deere dealer.

Low and behold, they had the exact replacement. It was black and even had the right part number next to the JD logo. Of course it cost $8 instead of the Wal-Mart $4.

Now that brings me to what I did today. I decided to see if I could take back the Wal-Mart Fram filter, that was just laying on the bench in the garage. I still had the sack and even the receipt, from October 17.

The wife tells me, "its a good thing you didn't get that at Target, because you only have 90 days to take it back there. But maybe Wal-Mart is different". Putting the fear of the customer service folks squarely on my shoulders.

So as I drove to the corner Wally World, I had a built up fear of the process. Now mind you this is a $3.98 purchase, and could just be pitched out, but who knows if you don't try. I am tight.

The greeter at the door made a big procedure of looking it up in a return manual, and placing a large yellow sticker on it. "Gota take that to customer service now" he said. So I went and stood in the longest line ever. They only had one clerk and 10 customers to serve.

When I got to the counter, she took it out of the box and peered down into it to see if I was bringing the dirty filter back to her in the new box. "What's wrong with this?" "Oh nothing, I just bought the wrong one." I replied. She looked at me skeptically and rang up the return, thrusting a receipt to me for my signature. And just like that I had my $4.28 back, which I promptly spent at the McDonalds counter.

As I sat and ate my french fries, I couldn't help but wonder how much I really saved, by doing the oil change myself. If not in actual monetary value, but in aggravation. Its only four months later, and I'm just now finishing the project.

But then remember, I am TIGHT!

Monday, March 10, 2008

But its only 11PM

Its 11 in my mind, but the clock says midnight. And of course I'm not the least bit sleepy. Didn't do much of any thing today but I stayed busy all day doing it.

I helped a friend set up a new computer. In Des Moines! We just connect using skype and talk or way thru the things that need installed. Skype is a great asset. You can connect for hours at a time and no one cares. We send pictures back and forth using interace.

This is a program that was written to mimic slow scan TV on the ham radio. It only sends small pictures, but it allows the guy on the other end to see what you see. This can waste hours.

So the day raced by with the clock seeming wrong every time I looked at it. Reading the various blogs that I follow, revealed the confusion in Arizona. Since they do not do DST, but the Indian reservations do, and all the states around them do, its a mess.

Oh and for months I have wanted to hook up the Sirius receiver to the Audio Visual receiver on the TV system. But the wiring is a rats nest behind them. The fibreoptic cable that connects the cable box sound is barely long enough. And the whole works is in an enclosure over the fireplace. So I put it off. For several months. Well we were in Texas. I'm male. Manana.

But once I disconnected the short fibreoptic cable and a couple more, the whole unit was able to be turned sideways. All went well from there. So we have been listening to Sirius ever since. Now why didn't I do that sooner?

It was up to 52 here today. Compared to what we had last week thats a heat wave. We finally lost all of the snow. Even the North side of the house is melted and dry. It is 34 as I write this in the middle of the night. Hope the day is warmer yet but we'll have to see.

All of the folks who write blogs from the Rio Grande Valley have now left for their summer destinations. So I am deprived of news from down there. Does anyone know of a RV blogger left at the RGV? I'd love to follow their blog.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Is this Really March?

We awakened to 9 degrees this morning! Wow is it March 8th? Or is this just a method of punishing us for going to Texas for January and February. I knew it was cold outside as the furnace ran on Gas all night.

It changes from the heat pump, (electricity) to the gas burner at 30 degrees. I never heard the air conditioner unit outside at all, all night. Seemed that the gas furnace just ran and ran. The insulation in the Kansas City home, is not near what we had in the Des Moines house.

The R ratings say it is the same, but if this house was in Iowa the heat bill would be a thousand a month. I did put a storm door on the back door of the house as it is on the North side of the house. When the wind blows in the winter here, it was whistling right thru the kitchen.

We did warm up to about freezing during the afternoon, but are back down to 26 or so now at 11:30. Or is it 12:30? The wife tells me that we change time to summer hours tonight. Daylight Saving time. Not Savings time! Can not save daylight in a savings account. Or so I am told by these folks in an internet article.

Spelling and grammar

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time.

Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight. It is a saving daylight kind of time. Because of this, it would be more accurate to refer to DST as daylight-saving time. Similar examples would be a mind-expanding book or a man-eating tiger. Saving is used in the same way as saving a ball game, rather than as a savings account.

Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an 's') flows more mellifluously off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.

Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved. Daylight Shifting Time would be better, and Daylight Time Shifting more accurate, but neither are politically desirable.

Now, we're so much smarter about these things. Har Har. So we change to summer time on a day that started at 9 degrees. Yup thats my idea of summer! So much so, that I think I will get out my woolen pajamas, with the drop down seat, and go to bed.

Most of the clocks are controlled by outside forces now days, so that the ritual of going around and changing them all is a thing of the past. Cell phone, automatic. Clocks in the cable TV boxes, automatic. Atomic clock on the wall, automatic. Still have to change the cars, and my wristwatch. That will be a good project for tomorrow.

For those of you that have to show up at work on Monday an hour early, in order for it to be the same time on the clock, you have my sympathy............. Oh, and the first thing you will have to do at work, is change the clock so it has the same time!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Day with Two Grandkids

We woke to snow this morning. It was forecast and didn't disappoint. We only had about an inch or so and the ground melted the roads as it came down. The grass was all white and covered the nasty brown dead stuff from winter.

When the snow stopped it got cold. Its after 11PM as I write this and the blog button says 17 degrees. Man that is hard on us winter Texans. We had it so nice this past winter, that I hate to gripe now. But I jumped to get back into the house from the car, when we came home tonight.

We had the 4 year old and the one year old grand daughters most of the day. The 4 year old is still here, upstairs asleep. She likes to stay with Grandma overnight. We have seen three kids movies during the day and went to McDonalds playland after dinner.

I couldn't do Mickey D's for a Friday night meal, so we went to Red Robbin. She got a balloon and the nice lady exchanged her chicken meal for mac and cheese, when she refused to eat the former. I should have known not to order the chicken in the first place. The cost of the food for a kids meal is nothing anyway, so I didn't worry. They only charged for one kids meal, but they get $4.29. A lot of places only charge 2 to 3 bucks for kiddie plates.

We got some ice cream at Mickey D's and played on the playland toys, on the way home. Then watched the third movie. She had a good nap and was still going strong, but grandma pooped out.

She will be up at the stroke of dawn, so I need to get to bed and not be such a night owl. Another day in the retired life.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Back in KC

We came home Tuesday afternoon. The storm passed by during the morning and we left as soon as the sun reappeared. The Lake is a great place, and one that I can spend hours, just doing nothing. But in the winter it is more isolated and cold.

Now I know that many folks will go out into BLM ground and live for days without contact of any kind. At least with their fellow man. Even seeing another camper in the distance, kills the experience for these folks. I have never learned how to be one of these people.

So we are in a man made environment at the lake. Almost all of the shoreline is occupied by an owner, with a home or business. In the winter, for the most part, they are not there. The solitude is still present. No one will bother you for hours on end. Maybe the mailman once a day, or the garbage truck on Wednesday.

There are folks that live there full time, but they are one house in ten. So you may have to go 6 doors down, to find someone. And then they will be at work. I can take this for about 3 or 4 days and then I return to more active civilization. The wife doesn't last that long.

It did stay cold here for the rest of the week. It was in the 20's this morning and is in the mid 30s here by mid day. The sun is out and it seems to be a beautiful day outside. But I like usual have my head stuck in this infernal computer.

If I'm not reading a blog that I follow, then I need to update this blog. Everyone I know is on the computer in one form or another. We seem to not be able to escape. Oh, I haven't read "so in so's" blog yet today.

I continue to study the Ubuntu Linux operating system. It is a very good alternative to the Microsoft windows environment. Oh and I see that Warren Buffet has now passed Bill Gates as the worlds richest man. He has 4 Billion more than Gates at 62 Bil. Linux is free.

Last night I ended up in the Chat Room. This was a good time as there were twelve people in the room, at its height. We had three or more conversations going at once, as people read the lines that are of interest to them, and pass over the other stuff. It was a multi task chat, that was interesting.

I did run my son up to the auto auction, where he had purchased another car. He has a dealers license. We went to the Northeast side of KC MO north of Worlds of Fun. It was about a 40 mile trip, entirely within the KC metro. At 5 PM rush hour. A treat that no one would pass up. Just for fun of course.

And I am still battling the cold that the barbers conveniently passed on to me last Tuesday. It just will not go away.

So its slow at the old household today, hope yours is moving along at a faster pace. Ah retirement!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Lake of the Ozarks

Our view from the upper deck at the lake of the Ozarks. This looks to the dam that is 3 miles distant.

The story of how we became Lake Ozark residents.

As some of you know, we have only recently re joined the RV community. In the 1970's and up thru 1982, we would never be caught dead without our trusty RV.

We started with a "Fold Down" in 1973. My sons now tell me that, thats a "Pop Up" now dad. Well they do both. But we had one for several years. Hauled the thing all over the country on vacations and weekends. It was a good time.

Then we had the fated Travel Trailer. It only lasted for less than one season, as we were broad sided with a big Chrysler in New York. It caught fire while still attached to the car. I disconnected it and drove away, as it burned. Our vacation, belongings and spirits were ruined.

We rented a Pop Up the following year. Not being too sure, what the RV future for us was. But then again we purchased another Pop Up. We had that for three more years and sold it to a relative.

Then came the Mobile Traveler Class C. We used it for about 4 years. That is when we began to camp at the Lake of the Ozarks. We had a boat that we pulled with the class C. It was an 18 foot runabout.

Camping at the Lake became an almost weekly event, even though it was 5 hours each way from Iowa. We would leave as early as possible on Friday, or even Thursday if we could sneak away. So we begn to leave the boat at the lake. Didn't need to pull it back and forth.

We had a VW Rabbit car that had a tow bar. This became the toad vehicle, to go to the lake. It made it a lot easier to go get groceries ,and grab the restaurant meal away from the water. We did use the boat to go out at night before the VW, and still did, but not as much.

Then it happened! We stayed too late on Sunday afternoon, and needed to get back quick. We left the Coach and drove the Rabbit home. Well that became the norm. The coach was parked at the campground storage lot, and we just commuted.

It wasn't long before we bought a condominium. Two bedrooms and a big living room-kitchen. About 900 square feet. Seemed huge as compared to the motorhome. And that is how we came to be property owners at the Lake of the Ozarks. We eventually sold the class C from lack of use.

We traded condos and then a small cottage and so forth. Only recently have our grown kids, and the grandkids, become interested in RV'ing again. So we now have a Travel Trailer as we felt we could use the RV for winter trips, as well as the weekend get away with the family. When we were not at the Lake.

After spending two months in the RV this winter, it seemed almost extravagant, to be in such a nice place, as our home on Lake Ozark. If we hadn't made all those payments for year after year, we would never be able to just outright purchase such a place. Inflation has paid for more than half of the purchase price over the years. It has been a good decision.

With brick and mortar comes the upkeep. We have to go see what has happened now. You never get too far away from the maintenance. So that is why we go in the first week in March to a lake home when it is too cold for lake activities. It comes with the territory. Nothing is without its responsibilities.

We are lucky this year to have not experienced any problems. Other years have been less fortunate. But then that will be a story for another time.

So we head back to the KC area yet today, as it is too cold to sit out on the deck (22*) , and even the fishermen are off the lake.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lake Ozark. Mo.

We drove to Lake Ozark in the afternoon Sunday. It was 70 degrees and overcast when we left Kansas City. It was 75 and overcast when we got here. We never did get any rain as we traveled.

But just wait 10 minutes and all that will change. We are in the Midwest where weather is subject to change at a moments notice. And change it did. This morning it is 32 degrees in freezing mist and rain. Kansas City has 26. The weather came from a line of nasty that stretched from Texas to Wisconsin. It is tracking slowly Eastward.

So we are here for a day or so before the freezing stuff moves East. Thats OK.

We found the cabin here in good shape, as we hadn't been here since the first of the year. The heat was working and the water system was not compromised. Or at least as we turned it on, it pressurized normally. It is a relief to have everything OK.

We have a pontoon boat on a floating lift in a floating dock in front of the house. It is all designed to change levels with the lake. As the electric company uses the water to generate electricity, the lake level naturally changes. It is down about 6 feet which is normal for this time of year.

The lift is raised by air pumps that fill the floats and then close valves to hold the air in the lift tanks. Last year I purchased a computerized system that checks the lift level and automatically fills the tanks as needed.

This is a God send as it allows peace of mind when you are away for extended periods of time. If the air escapes from the floats, and the lift goes down, your boat is back in the lake, floating on its own. It is tied to the dock and will not drift away, but wind and wave action will cause a lot of damage in just a short period of time.

We do have rubber fenders that hang in between the boat and the dock, but they seem to get pushed up over time and do not always protect things like they should. Also the green algae grows on everything almost within a day. So keeping your boat up and out of the water is the only option.

Our boat was floating nicely, but the neighbors boat was in the water. So I went to his dock and turned on his air pump to fill his lift tanks. I do not think he has been here for quite a while either. He was interested in the automatic lift pump, but hasn't purchased one yet.

So all is well here in Lake Ozark....

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A nice day

Today was a stellar day. The sun was out from the beginning and out for the entire day. The temperature rivaled the Texas weather we experienced last week. It was 68 by the end of the afternoon.

It was my grandson's birthday! He is 6. We got him a new bicycle. A big to him 20 inch bicycle with 6 speeds and hand brakes. He was surprised.

I bought the bike last fall as it was becoming cold outside. K-mart had them on sale but not too much off as they seem to sell in the winter OK anyway. I thought we would give it to him at christmas but the ladies of the family said no. Wait till spring.

So it has been out in our garage all winter, under a tarp for a charcoal grill. This afternoon, we got to looking at the junk in grandpa's garage, and we accidentally found a new bike. He looked under the tarp and said its a bike! Its a new bike! What are you doing with a new bike? Is this my new bike? Oh boy!

It is still a little big for him, but he was bound to learn to ride it anyway. Its just way too cool to put away until I get bigger. He was out most of the afternoon, trying to ride it around without falling. When he stops, he has to kind of crash land, as he hasn't mastered putting a foot down and leaning over to stand on the ground. It is just a bit too tall for him to stand over.

He'll get it, and grow into it everyday. My oldest son bought him a nerf dart rifle. Uncle Chris is known for the purchase of ornery toys. Of course he was told to never shoot his sisters with the nerf rifle. How long do you think that will last?

So tonight we are contemplating if we will go to the Lake tomorrow. The weather is supposed to get bad by tomorrow night. Changing to freezing rain and snow by nightfall. Didn't do that in Texas. If we go, we need to be there before the bad stuff. We'll see how we feel about it tomorrow....