Thursday, April 23, 2009

Clean Up, Fix up, Paint up

This is the time of year that you look around your home and notice all of the things everywhere that are a little bit down at heel. We have a long, long list of things both inside and outside of the house that need some attention.

There's a wobbly ceiling fan, new mini-blinds to put up, a pot rack for the kitchen, a room that badly needs painting, not to mention landscaping - the bushes across the front of the house need to be dug out and replaced, plus we need a shed for the golf cart. Whew! We also are ready to replace my broken recliner, and one of Dick's tractors.

Well....after giving it some thought we realized that we really can't take the road trip to Shreveport that we've been planning. We can save some shekels by staying home and just taking care of our place.

We wanted to take the Shreveport trip to pick up caches in more states, but we can probably go next fall or next spring.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Barb Bonanza

What a bonanza! Barb came out Sunday to deliver our Thin Mints from Kalamazoo! It doesn't get much better than that. Plus - the cookies were a gift - yay! Thank you Melissa. Thanks also to Autumn and Brooke without whom Melissa wouldn't be in the Girl Scout cookie business!

We had a great time visiting with Barb - caught up on a lot of her growing family's doings. Of course we're not the least bit jealous that soon she will have four (4) grandchidren (Autumn, Brooke, Drew and Isabelle) of her own, plus Lydia and Madelyn. It was wonderful having Barb here looking so good and so healthy.

Dick has been working on the yard. So far he has done thatching, fertilizing, heavy chainsaw pruning, and hauling brush. The yard looks quite good for this early in the Spring. It's almost time to turn on the sprinklers.

I went for my annual eye exam this morning - everything is looking good. They put in the dilating drops so I'm trying to avoid bright sunlight. They used to hand out huge plastic sunglasses for eye protection, but I guess they're cutting back or something! I'm glad that the brightness on the computer monitor can be adjusted.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday Caching

Tim and Susie wanted to do some T.C. caching. We met them at the Omelette Shoppe for the usual excellent breakfast, and then we were off to the races. After living here forever and taking pleasure drives all of the time, we still discovered a place we've never been to before. This view is from the subdivision above Copper Ridge - somebody put a cache there to bring people up there to enjoy the view. We'll definitely come back here in the summer for some scenic viewing!
We did a couple of urban caches, but that gets old really fast, so we headed west of town to the Lake Dubonnet area and tried some backwoods trails. Off to the two tracks, where it is still snowy here and there, and where the roads can still be a bit icy.
Three caches were found around Lake Dubonnet, and then cooler heads prevailed and we left the two track for roads that are not "seasonal".
Tim in the deep, dark woods.

It was fun driving around the back roads of Long Lake even though this is not the prettiest time of the year for scenery. The most fun of the day though came when we were back out on US 31 (superhighway!). There was a cache in a small roadside cemetery that blew us away. We had trouble figuring it out when we first stopped. But after carefully reading the description and the past logs, we were successful on the second try. This cache container is made to look like a tombstone, and it's a large tombstone size. It's nestled in the bushes, away from other grave sites, so it's entirely respectful of the surroundings. It's hard to describe adequately, so Dick took a couple of pictures of it. It took a remarkable amount of time and effort to place this cache!

Then, all of a sudden, inexplicably, the driver decided that we needed to make a stop at Moomer's! The back seat passengers allowed as how that was a good idea, so that's how we ended our 8 cache caching day adventure.

Thanks, Tim and Susie for a really enjoyable day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feeling Fortunate

This is a perfect day for feeling very, very fortunate. First of all, the temperature reached 60 degrees. the sun is shining brightly, the sky is bluer than blue, the birds are singing, crocuses and some daffodils are blooming, the bay is deep, deep blue, and people are walking around town in shorts.

We did some great errands today. Well, OK, going to the dump is not that great.

We were driving Marco, and it's been sitting all winter without going anywhere. We really only use it to haul the boat or when we have a scheduling conflict. Dick noticed that it was due to go to Jiffy Lube last June (2008)! So we took it to Jiffy Lube - once a year should do it! Actually, we're kind of thinking of selling the pontoon boat and then selling Marco and getting a smaller more gas efficient car for geocaching and pulling the utility trailer. Do you know anybody who needs a 1989 pontoon boat and trailer? Or a 2001 Ford Explorer with a great towing package?

Both the Area Agency on Aging and the Commission on Aging were stops for us. Dick is gathering information on Senior Independent Living for his friend Pat, who wants to move into Senior Living in Benzie County or this area.

We went to Penney's to order new mini-blinds for the bedroom and (how fortunate is this) it seems that Bali is now having a 70 percent off sale! So we ordered the blinds and got a terrific deal. It's nice for a change to have good timing.

The best errand of all (Ta Da!) was going to the bank. (Drumroll) We PAID OFF OUR MORTGAGE!!! Woo Woo !! I feel fantastic about that, in case you can't tell. With the economy the way it is, and things feeling a bit uncertain, it feels super to own the house outright.

So Whoop-de-doo, and just so you'll be aware...I'm feeling fortunate.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Babes in the Woods

Yesterday we had quite an adventure. Dick is such a good story teller, I'm glad to share his report - so here's what happened to us yesterday!

On our way home from our Amish excursion a couple of weeks ago; we drove through Lake City and then on to Manton along M42. This route took us past a cache we have placed called “The Armillary”. It's located along the side of the road at the site that once held the Sherman School. The school is long gone but the land is still in the hands of the Sherman family. In the ‘60’s, Vernon Sherman placed there a collection of “stuff”, all mounted on concrete platforms. Among other things, there is an old printing press, a rail-mounted reciprocal saw, an armillary, and a large (five foot tall) pink rock that he dubbed the Sherman Stone. He even went so far as to have two brass plaques made which contain his poem titled “The Sherman Stone”.
Let Sherman’s stone stand for a breed of men I knew of late.
For logs and land unsubsidized, for “ciphering” on a slate.
Their gold and silver passed at face, their politicians knew their place.
Their mail, “Big Brother” never dared to read, nor tapped their phone.
Until we break our “horse” of state, they’re better men I vow.
They taught their kids in one room school,
“Democracy means the people rule”.

We found the collection to be interesting and developed a puzzle cache that requires a close inspection of the various items to answer questions that would lead to the cache coordinates.

On our recent visit, we found that the area is not being cared for and that rust and overgrowth has rendered the finding of the clues to be more problematical than we wished. We decided to archive the cache and replace the old offset container with a magnetic container attached to a piece of the equipment. We thought to retrieve the old container but discovered that the road to it is a seasonal road and is not plowed.

Over the next weeks, we found a suitable container, attached magnets to it and painted it matte black. Equipped with a logbook and a couple of trinkets, we set it aside to be placed on our next visit.

Saturday morning we worked at a few domestic tasks, while one of us supervised the Roomba and did some housekeeping, the other one wielded the chainsaw clearing up some downed branches and trees that the winter storms had provided. The day was warming nicely and the sun was inviting and we discussed going for a ride when the phone rang. It was the world's greatest Grandson offering us an opportunity to join him and his mother and uncle on a quest in the online game World of Warcraft. These chances do not present themselves every day and so we spent an hour or so sitting side by side at the computers asking, “What should I be doing?” ‘I don’t know, I’m just following Dylan.” “Should I be the healer?” “I don’t know, ask Dylan”.

Our grandson has this problem with us. Is it logical that two schoolteachers could be less knowledgeable than a fifth grader? In his words, “That makes no commonsense whatsoever”. When we profess ignorance, he is sure that once again, someone is pulling his leg. When his grandfather indicates that he doesn’t get it, he gets this look of bemusement and says, “What do you mean, you don’t understand?” At times his response to his grandmother’s question has been, “Weren’t you paying attention Grandma?” We do the best we can but it is evident that at times, in some areas, we are not as knowledgeable as that fifth grader.

At any rate, the five of us helped him finish the first quest but without Jana we were not a strong enough group to kill the big boss and get him the other achievement he desired. Our gaming activity was complete before 2:30 and since the day was so nice we decided to go for a ride. What better goal than to redo the Armillary cache.

Thus the adventure began.

The drive south was uneventful. We considered a detour back to the Walton Junction cemetery to check our cache there but a quick look at the seasonal roads dissuaded us. (Foreshadowing!) We arrived at the Sherman School site and quickly placed the new container. Then it was a short side trip east on Walker Road to retrieve the old container.

The extension past Green Road was still covered with snow. Both the right and left hand sides of the road were clear but in many places there were trees growing right up to the edge of the road. There were tracks along the side where someone had driven out but it looked like they were winter treads, maybe a 4x4 pick up. It is only a short, less than a quarter mile walk, so we parked at the intersection. Then the old phrase “We get too soon old and too late smart” kicked in. What the heck, this thing (our RAV4) has 4x4. (Although we’ve never used it and we don’t have tires with an aggressive tread.) The book says just push this button. And so, like a couple of kids 55 years our junior; we pushed the button and headed down the snow covered road. (Actually, the driver pushed the button although the decision was a joint effort.)

All went well for the first couple of hundred yards. Although the snow was getting deeper, the vehicle and its four-wheel drive performed excellently. But then, all of a sudden, the right hand side of the car broke through the crust and we bogged down. Although forward progress was halted, we could back up. Could we back all the way out? That didn’t look like the best plan. Maybe, if we can go forward just another 50 – 60 feet or so to that clearing, we can turn around. We (OK, I) blasted forward for about 20 feet and bogged down again. Shifting into reverse we were able to back up about 2 inches, driving forward regained the same. Back two inches, forward two inches, Getting out and looking around revealed that all four wheels had broken through the crust and the snow was deeper than the ground clearance. We were totally bottomed out. We had zero traction. While considering the situation, a short walk retrieved the container we had come down here for so that goal was accomplished. A thorough analysis of our situation yielded only one solution.

Oh well, that’s why I have AAA towing. We just call the 800 number and they will send someone right out. Dialing their number on our cell phone revealed - - - NO SIGNAL! Try roaming, NO SIGNAL!!!

Well, one of us has to hike out to find a house where they have a phone they will let us use, and since only one of us is very mobile, and since chauvinism lives in children of the 50’s, off I went.

The first place, about a half-mile up the road past the intersection had a heavy duty gate chained shut and no signs of occupation. The next, a quarter mile further on had two dogs that obviously objected to my presence. The old poochy-coo talk and the hand held out palm down worked and the most curious/aggressive one gave me a thorough sniffing and allowed me to proceed. The other one, a tripod, (I learned he was shot the opening day of hunting season a couple of years ago.) continued his barking but did not come closer.

I walked up to the back porch and saw a sign that proclaimed NO SMOKING. I rang the doorbell and soon a young woman, mid 20’s to mid 30’s, smoking a cigarette, answered it. I told her my tale of woe and asked if I could use the phone, she flung the door open and led me into the kitchen and the telephone. (Folks are friendlier here, and of course Nancy points out that I was wearing my jacket that says Grandpa on it..)

In the course of the next 15 minutes or so, she; called her brother who lives just down the road and has a tractor to see if he would pull me out, (He declined due to liability issues.) offered me a Coke or something, revealed that her name is Tanya, that she was home alone, that the house belongs to her parents, that the kids were at her niece’s coloring eggs and that she would call John's, the towing place for me and tell them where I was because she used to work there. My call to AAA went well and after what seemed to be a rather lengthy hold, the nice lady said the tow driver knew the area and if I would wait at the intersection, (Tanya said it is called “Dead Man’s Curve.) he would be there by 6:05. However, the lady continued, they did not do snow removal and sometimes they will refuse to enter unplowed roads. Furthermore, my policy only covered normal towing and if more than one wrecker is needed or if additional equipment is required, I would be liable for additional charges. It was then about 5:15. Tanya insisted on giving me a ride back to the intersection. As we got in the car, a large, heavyset dog tried to get in with us. Tanya told me that she didn’t recognize it and did not know to whom it belonged. For whatever reason, it adopted us, followed Tonya’s car and stayed with us the rest of the time we were there.

I walked down the snowy road to report the situation to Nancy and then, accompanied by my new best friend, went back to the intersection and waited. And waited, and waited. Many thoughts went through my head, like if they won’t come down to pull us out, do we leave the car there ‘till the snow melts? Would National deliver a car out here?

Fatigue was setting in I had been walking/standing for nearly two hours, I walked back to consult and look at the car again. I noticed that the wheels seemed to be more firmly on the ground but were cocked to the left, I got in and started it up and had Nancy guide me from outside the car until the wheels were straight. I then tried to back up. It went back a foot. I put it in drive and crept forward maybe 2 feet. Back about 4, forward about 5. Then, after backing as far as I could, I gunned it and aimed for the shoulder. The car broke out of the snow pack and onto the edge of the woods. What appears to have happened was that during the two-hour wait, the heat and weight of the vehicle caused the snow to compact giving the tires more traction.

With the co-pilot guiding front and rear, we got turned around and then with everyone back on board, drove victoriously back out to terra firma. We were back on a road but still without a signal.

With a whoop and a holler and triple high fives, accompanied down the road by our new mascot, we drove back to Tonya’s and asked her to call John's Towing and tell him he wasn’t needed. Smiles of relief and joy filled the RAV all the way home. Chalk up another successful adventure for Basswood Bend! I only wish that Tom had been there to see that it is not just his car we take chances with.

I am reminded that when we bought a Jeep back in the 60’s, I wanted to have a winch mounted on the front. Nancy refused, because, “If you have it, you’ll want to use it.” I know that the wise adult action is to always shy away from deep snow or sand as we cruise our northern Michigan two tracks but I don’t think we can. From now on I think I’ll make sure to carry the satchel I have that is packed with the trenching tool, tow straps and come-along just in case.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

State Wins!

MSU will be playing in the National Championship game next Monday! UConn played hard, but State really dominated the rebounds, the points from the bench, and the physicality. They did themselves proud.

The thing that I like the best is that it's such a terrific morale booster for the entire state of Michigan. They'll play for the championship in Detroit on a floor made from western upper peninsula wood. It kind of feels like a weekend in honor of the whole state. Couldn't come at a better time. Thanks MSU.

Shuttin' Down Detroit video

My friend Peggy found this video of the John Rich song - average melody but dramatic lyrics and pictures!

Dick and I are looking forward to a Spartan victory this evening!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Tremendous Trifle

It all began when I was a stay at home Mom in the sixties. I got hooked on "Guiding Light". I rocked all of my babies while watching it. Naptimes were planned to set me free to watch it. In the beginning, the story was dominated by Bert and Bill Bauer and their sons, Mike and Ed. The grand old man of the story was Papa Bauer, Bill's father. Now, Mike's son Rick is really the only Bauer left, but they have still been doing the annual Bauer Barbecue on the 4th of July.

When you're hooked on a soap you watch through births, deaths, weddings, affairs, divorces, returns from the dead, cloning, medical miracles, addictions, corporate greed, trials that send people to prison - whatever life has to offer can turn up in a soap.

When I went back to work in the 70s, Dick got home before I did, and he would tape Guiding Light for me faithfully every day. My kids would watch sometimes, but they were mostly disgusted with it. They claimed they could miss three months of the story and still be up to date!

Many folks are way too sophisticated and intellectual to watch a soap opera. But I've always found the continuity of Guiding Light to be interesting, comforting, familiar and fun. I was a constant viewer for 5 decades, and I will really miss it!

April 2, 2009
CBS Turns Out ‘Guiding Light’

CBS announced Wednesday the cancellation of the longest-running scripted program in broadcasting history, the soap opera “Guiding Light.”

The show has been on radio and television for 72 years, beginning on NBC radio in 1937 and moving to CBS television in 1952.

The show’s run will end with an episode Sept. 18.

The move came after many years of steeply declining ratings for the hourlong soap, which is owned by Procter & Gamble and thus was a link to the earliest days of daytime serial dramas on radio. The shows were eventually called soap operas because soap companies sponsored them.

A spokeswoman for P.&G., Jeannie Tharrington, said the company would seek to place “Guiding Light” elsewhere. “We’re looking at all our options,” she said. “This show started as a 15-minute radio show, and then it was a half-hour television show, so it has adapted over the years.”

Ms. Tharrington said P.&G. would look to any possible outlet to continue the series. A canceled NBC soap, “Passions,” moved for a time to the satellite service DirecTV, but it failed there and is now gone.

None of the producers or stars of “Guiding Light” would grant an interview Wednesday about the decision. “The news is too fresh,” Ms. Tharrington said.

In an official statement, Ellen Wheeler, the executive producer, said, “It will be difficult for all of us at the show to say goodbye.”

The CBS president, Nancy Tellem, said, “It was not an easy decision to make, but we talked it over with our partners at Procter & Gamble, and we agreed it was time.” Ms. Tellem said she had not heard that P.&G. was looking to place the show elsewhere but said that CBS would wish the company well in that effort.

The biggest star in the show’s current cast is Kim Zimmer, a four-time Emmy winner for best actress in a daytime serial. Another star, Justin Deas, has won six Emmys for his acting. The show also provided breakthroughs for many well-known actors, including Kevin Bacon, James Earl Jones, Calista Flockhart, Allison Janney and Cicely Tyson. “Guiding Light” claims the distinction of being the first network soap to introduce regular African-American characters, in 1966.

CBS and the producers of “Guiding Light” — which is shot on the East Coast, in the CBS Broadcast Center in Manhattan and on location in Peapack, N.J. — had taken several steps in recent years to keep the series alive, especially in switching the production to a digital format.

That move, last year, included the introduction of hand-held digital cameras and permanent, four-wall sets as opposed to the traditional, constantly reconstructed three-wall sets built by soaps to accommodate bulky pedestal cameras. Rather than expensive lighting and sound equipment, the show also began using hand-held lights and microphones.

The changes resulted in a look vastly different from the traditional soap, with more camera movement, more muted lighting and much more use of outside locations. The moves saved considerable money, according to CBS executives.

But not enough to save the series. This year the audience for “Guiding Light” had declined to an average of just 2.1 million viewers an episode. Its pattern over recent years had been steadily downward. Last year it averaged about 2.4 million viewers an episode. Five years ago the average was about 3 million viewers.

“Guiding Light” also had the smallest audience of any of the remaining network daytime soaps and a smaller audience than many of the game and talk shows that also fill network daytime hours. The most-watched soap, “The Young and the Restless” on CBS, is averaging about 5.26 million viewers an episode. The network’s game show “The Price Is Right” has an average of about 4.95 million viewers. ABC’s talk show “The View” averages about 4.25 million viewers.

ABC’s top soap, “General Hospital,” averages about 2.97 million viewers, and NBC’s only soap, “Days of Our Lives,” has about 2.76 million, though those shows have much younger audiences, making them more desirable to many advertisers.

Ms. Tellem said that the hour devoted to “Guiding Light” — its scheduling has varied in different cities from 10 a.m. in New York to as late a 3 p.m. in some cities — will be retained by CBS. The network is likely to fill it with another game show or talk show, she said.

When “Guiding Light” ends, another CBS soap, “As the World Turns” — also shot in New York — will become the longest-running daytime serial drama. It started in 1956.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Too Much Sadness Plus the Promise of Spring

A lot of sadness has entered our world lately. Things seem to be happening in bunches.

The first thing was the death of the teenage daughter of one of Laurie's friends in Palm City. She was 18 years old, and an apparent suicide.

Then Belleville colleagues - Tommy M. lost his mother first, and then this week his brother died. Dan F.'s brother Mark died Monday of a sudden heart attack. Jim F.'s grandson, 12 year old Matt, died last Sunday in a motocross accident.

In Traverse City, Dick's cousin Chester died last week after a lengthy illness.

There are hundreds of deaths every day across the country, but this seems unusual to me.

Two of the deaths were expected, but the rest were a total shock - most especially the two children.

On the Springy side, the Bay is blue again today for the first time since I can't remember when. Dick figures that southerly winds have blown the ice out past the island. The shore is still chock-a-block with ice chunks along the breakwater, but the water just has a few small ice floes floating around.

Today is a beautiful day with blue skies and strong sunshine - the temperature has rocketed all the way up to 46! We saw a man at the library wearing shorts and sandals!
Crocuses are blooming around town. Spring will soon be a happening thing.

Best news - Sharon says she and John have tickets for the Final Four at Ford Field this weekend! How excellent is that?