The free day that wasn’t

Today, in theory was a “free” day. It didn’t seem like it though. Barbara’s parents were thinking of not taking Granny with us today because our morning events conflicted with her house cleaner / companion’s time with her (paid for by the government, since Granny had no money. Barb’s parents also hired the pastor’s wife to take care of Granny because Granny had not been taking care of herself). Granny begged to go, and the cleaner/companion had other plans so it all worked out. Our first stop was in Bethlehem to see Granny’s friend Wally. Wally was a cheerful nephew who had taken care of Granny until his health had deteriorated to the point where he needed to be in assisted living. Wally wanted to take us out to lunch, so after a fire drill at the hospital where he now lived, we did. The thing is, we found out, Wally can’t walk. He’s about 350 pounds and his legs no longer work. Several of us had to hoist him into our van. Once in, he navigated us to the diner, but only after an impromptu visit to the funeral home he used to own. The home was in the middle of the funeral, so Wally’s nephew and son were patient with him up to a point, but then sort of shooed us out of there. At the diner, we met up with Barbara’s other cousin, Sherry, and her mom. Ken and Ruth showed up there as well. After lunch, we all said our good-byes since my family would be moving on tomorrow, and then we were “free.” Well, today, being Monday, NOTHING was opened – no museums, no parks, nothing. The only things opened were the amusement park (roller-coasters) and a fish hatchery. We went to the fish hatchery. Courtney loved it. While texting, on the way back to the motel, we discovered that my sister and her traveling softball league was at the amusement park. We were now too far away to visit them, so oh well, a missed opportunity. For dinner, I wanted pizza, so we went to the best pizza place in town and it was closed. We decided to go to Cracker Barrel instead. Wouldn’t you know it, my sister and her softball team were dining there! They had missed the exit for the closer Cracker Barrel in Allentown, so they went to the one in Hamburg (ours) instead. What are the odds? We took pictures, ate, talked, and then my family headed to an ice cream shop (good ice cream!) while Mindy took her softball kids home to West Virginia.

Church and visiting

It’s Sunday, which always means church over here. We all got in our finest, picked up Granny, and headed to her church (Granny goes to two churches and has donated all her money to a third church – a cult – and is now completely broke). I think we doubled the attendance of that congregation – no kidding. The pastor was sick that day, so his wife and daughter lead the two plus hour service. Half the band was sick as well, so we sang to CD tracks, maybe for 45 minutes. The sermon was about an hour long, but it was good, both topical and typological. The pastor’s daughter really knew her Bible! We ate a light lunch because we would be eating a big dinner tonight. After lunch, we went to a retirement home to visit one of Granny’s friends, Cliff. That friend recently had foot surgery and could not move. He was about to get some sort of treatment so we couldn’t stay long. Grandma Joy prayed about a quick and speedy death for Cliff. We waited at the motel until it was time to travel to Allentown for dinner. It took us half an hour to get to Allentown. In Allentown, we met up with Ken and Ruth, who live in Allentown, but also Barbara’s cousin Jerry and wife. We had a wonderful time. I asked Ruth why it took them 1.5 hours to get here from our motel. Ruth said that they never take the highways, only the back roads, because once, a truck ran into a car and that car exploded. The passengers inside died by being burnt up. A few years later, the same thing happened again. She doesn’t want to die by a fiery death because trucks are always running into cars, causing them to explode, so they never take the highway. Jerry opened up that he was thinking of coming back to Jesus again (he was a pastor who had lost his faith), so just outside the restaurant, we had a really big prayer about that, and about a quick and speedy death for Granny.

On to Pennsylvania Dutch Country

I did a lot of driving today – about five hour’s worth. We arrived at the incredibly mediocre Scottish Inn right on time at 2PM, but Barbara’s folks were nowhere to be found. Their Saturday (Seventh Day Adventist) service and potluck ran much longer than predicted. I think they arrived at 3:30. Since we were now a pretty large group that included Granny, Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ken, we decided to go to the local diner so we could talk. Much talking happened, but little food was ordered because the matriarchs of the families decided (for us) that we should wait until after five to eat. After half an hour or so, one of those same women ordered food, and then another. I took this as a sign, so I ordered something. A few others ordered after me. When five o’clock rolled around, the matriarchs declared that everyone was full and that we should leave. The problem was, some people had not ordered, including Courtney. Courtney advocated for herself quite well, and then ordered food. The rest of the people did as well. When we finally did leave, Aunt Ruth was complaining about how long it would take them to get home and that now it would be dark. It takes here over 1.5 hours to get home (remember this for a future blog). They took Granny with them. Barbara talked with her parents for several hours while Courtney and I watched TV.

Saying good-bye to the Lake

Sigh, today is the last day at the lake. I mowed the lawn one last time, and then we went to Keuka College to tour the campus. It’s not so much a campus as some buildings, but it was nice. We then went to visit Grandma one last time up in Geneva. After that, it was Pizza at Uncle Joe’s, Seneca Farms ice cream and home. I’ll miss this place – I always do.

Time getting short at the Lake

I found out this morning that the teacher I’m replacing temporarily (?) is one of two history teachers for the Academies at our school (Engineering school and Travel & Tourism school). I couldn’t be more thrilled! This is exactly where I would like to teach if I got a full-time position. God definitely has my attention: I’m wondering if this is where He is going to eventually place me, or if He still has somewhere else in mind. Time will tell.

Today, Barbara and Courtney went to the gorge to take pictures of the waterfall while I mowed the lawn. Afterwards, we all went swimming. This was my first, and probably my last, time in the lake. It was cold (50 degrees), but once in, it wasn’t bad. While I was in, I found the leak in our motorboat (the Eliminator); the speed gauge had been ripped off and a screw was out of a hole.

After our swim, we went to see my grandma for the last time this trip. I really like the place that she’s staying at now, but I also miss her home where I spent my childhood. Since we were in Geneva, where grandma now resides, we went out to a favorite pizza place and then shopped at Walmart. On the way home, we stopped off at Seneca Farms (ice cream).

Anniversary day in Ithaca

Happy Anniversary! 26 years with my beautiful wife!

The two of us spent the day in Ithaca, NY. Unfortunately, it was raining all day, sometimes hard, but that didn’t deter us. We ate at the Ale House for lunch, the same wonderful place we ate at the last time we were here. We then went to the Johnson Museum of Art on the Cornell campus. The rain was quite heavy at this point. We ran into the place and the guy at the front told us that two of the four floors were under construction and were closed. The only open floors were the Asian collection and the European collection. The best parts of the museum though were the closed floors (the American collection & Modern collection). There was only one “name” piece of art that we could see, a Cranach painting.

When we got out of the museum, we drove all over the place. The reason for this was that there were many construction projects going on. It was so hard to get near the college campus. We got lost a lot. We did eventually find the campus and then a parking space. We bought college shirts, Starbucks coffee, and then went to the Earth Science Museum just outside of town. It was small but very nice. We learned about glaciers, stratification and paleontology. In the evening, we had strawberry shortcake with ice cream to celebrate our anniversary.

We also heard from our son! He’s now at his new duty station and he loves it. Funny story though, the person who was supposed to pick him up at the airport thought his flight arrived at 9:30PM, not AM, and she had also turned her cell phone off. Jeffrey took a cab to a mall and hung out until the gal got the message and sent someone to pick him out, six hours later. When he got to his new site, the person with his apartment keys wasn’t around, so they put him in a hotel for the night. The next day, the finance folks wouldn’t reimburse Jeffrey for his hotel stay, but eventually found a loophole – his shop (who told him to go to the hotel in the first place) could pay him back. Now that he’s in his place, he’s loving it. His two roommates are on deployment so Jeffrey is all alone. He will now get qualified in three different shops: Radar, “Secret Stuff,” and “Not Secret Stuff.” He says he has plenty of free time to take college classes, so that’s what he’s going to do. If he can get his Bachelors, he’ll try to become an officer.

A week at the Lake

I cannot believe that a week has passed since I have typed, but it has. We’ve kept ourselves very busy! Let’s see:

Wednesday: We saw my grandma. It was so nice to see her! For dinner, Jeffrey made his pine nut pasta and I made my French onion soup. I made Jessie’s vegetarian, and it turned out better than the beef broth version, so I started adding her “better than bouillon” stuff to the beef version. It was so good!

Thursday: This was the last day at the lake for the Adams/Decker gang, so we did everything they wanted to do during the day. My family plus Hannah decided to go on the “gorge walk.” Since it had been raining a lot, the place was flooded and dangerous. Hannah got scared. I got to a point where the obstacles were too big for me to get over. Mike, Hannah and I headed back while the others went on. Our goal at that point was to not die, which was a distinct possibility. It was very dangerous! I broke my flip-flop at one point and had to walk barefoot the rest of the way. When we finally got back to the house (without dying), I discovered that I had a big slash in my foot that required stitches. Well, with all the nurses we have around here, they fixed me up and used super glue rather than stitches. At night, Holly and Jason made enchiladas and they were very good! At this point, I think we’re trying to outdo each other, which is fine by me! Good food, good wine, good company.

Friday: The Adams/Decker gang left at 6AM. I spent the morning mowing. My parents are impressed with how well the lawn looks – they want to hire me as a yard boy. In the afternoon, we went shopping at Walmart in Geneva, and then did some tubing. In the evening, my foot began to hurt. We discovered that I had another deep hole between my toes that also required stitches. The nurses were now gone so I asked Jeffrey to superglue it after I cleaned it out with hydrogen peroxide. He did a pretty decent job (from what I could see).

Saturday: Jeffrey’s last day with us. We decided to spend the day in Syracuse. This is sort of funny because I did a lot of research before we came on places we could go but I had considered Syracuse to be too far away. Jeffrey really wanted to go to a zoo and they had one, so we went. The zoo was nice. We then had a fantastic Mediterranean lunch in the downtown area and then went to the Erie Canal Museum. After that, we went to the Science and Technology Museum. I thought it would be too “kiddy” for my kids, but they had a great time. I was surprised that I was still walking OK by the end of the day. The superglue sutures seemed to be holding well. Jeffrey’s glue job had actually come off, but so long as I kept my toes together, I was in no pain.

Sunday: A VERY long day. Jeffrey had to fly out of here at 5:50 in the morning to his first duty station in North Carolina, so we all got up at 3AM to drive him to the airport. It was sad to see him go – we won’t see him for a whole year! We drove back to the lake house (3 hours round trip), packed and changed for half an hour, then drove to my dad’s church 75 miles away. Barbara drove while I slept a little. When we got to the church, Barbara took a nap while I practiced music. Church was fun. I got to play guitar and bass with my friend Ade. From there, we drove back roads all the way to Buffalo to see our friends the Hartke’s. Barbara drove while Courtney slept. She also said that I slept, but I don’t remember falling asleep. The Hartke’s were having an annual pool party, so we joined them and 50 of their friends for that event. In the evening, we watched soccer and played card games.

Monday: This is Nate’s usual day off, so he spent his morning with us. We wound up simply chatting for a few hours and then we went to the Anchor Bar (the home of the first Buffalo Wings) for lunch. The wings were great. We said good-bye to the Hartke’s and then we went to the home were Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated (after McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo). It was a good museum. I drove home after that. Again, Garmin took us on back roads rather than on highway 90. We saw all kinds of stuff that we’ll probably never see again. For some reason, I was very sore upon arrival – I could barely walk! We did laundry.

Tuesday (today): We decided to take it easy. It also helped that it is very hot outside today and there are expected thunderstorms later today. I spent the entire morning working on a computer chip. In the afternoon, I watched soccer.


Lightening and Teriyaki

Today we said good-bye to Erin. And then we were 12. While the Decker/Adams family went to the airport, my family went to Seneca Farms for lunch and for ice cream, then Tops for dinner items, and then home for a little tubing. The kids got in two decent runs before it began to rain… and then thunder. We got out fast. Within minutes, it was raining hard, then hailing, then really hailing. We couldn’t see the other side of the lake. About fifteen minutes later, it was sunny again, as if nothing had happened. Dinner was teriyaki burgers and potatoes. The newest addition to our family, Jessie, is a vegetarian (from what I understand, not by choice), so we bought her tofu hot dogs. I hope they were delicious – I’m not touching them!

Food and Wine

In the morning, I mowed the lawn. This is not a trivial task at my parent’s house. They own one acre that is surrounded by a split wood fence and has many trees on the lot. The riding mower part takes at least 45 minutes, and usually longer. There is then 30 minutes of hand mowing and another 30 minutes of edging with a weed-whacker. My goal was to beat the rain, which I did by about two hours.

The afternoon entertainment was wine tasting. We got a late start, but boy did we have a good time. At one place, we all got free tastings because I was a card member. We missed our forth (and fifth) winery by nine minutes – they closed at 5PM. After that, we drove down to Hammondsport and sat at the town square park for an hour, after we had done a little shopping, while we waited for the non-drinkers to arrive. When they did, the restaurant still wasn’t ready for us (we arrived 30 minutes before our reservation), so we walked down to the water and back. The food at this Italian restaurant was mostly excellent, though there is better out there somewhere, just not in Hammondsport. This is the best spot in this city. In the evening, we built a fire and had smores.

Father’s Day at the Lake

Rather than going to church today, we decided to use the wedding tent, still set up with tables and chairs, to have a Father’s Day brunch. The girls cooked wonderful egg casseroles while Jason cooked country potatoes. The food was wonderful. At around noon, most of the wedding guests took off to either go home or to go to Niagara Falls for the day before returning home to Ohio. Patrick, my new French friend, will be going to California next year to ride highway 1 on a Harley. We told him that when he gets to San Francisco, we could show him around (IF we’re in the states at that time – we might be in Greece and Turkey). Mindy and family left a couple hours after that. So much hugging, honking and waving! And then there were 13. We rested on the porch for a long time, since it was a beautiful day and spent the evening drinking wine and eating leftovers. Jessie made the crepes that Patrick was unable to make. They were delicious!