Saturday, August 25, 2012

Last Days of Freedom

This was my last week of vacation, and despite my best intentions to unpack the boxes in our loft, it has not come to pass.  We did at least get some much needed cleaning done in the two bathrooms downstairs and the kitchen and living room.  More importantly, we had a lot of time to just veg after two weeks of travelling.  I started reading "All Quiet on the Western Front", and we knocked out some races on "Need for Speed", upgrading to the only Lamborghini I will ever drive.  We even finally made it to the HOA swimming pool for the first time, after living here for a year.  I quite enjoyed the near-perfect combination of hot weather and cooling water, and it's only 4 foot at the deep end, so no fear of drowning.  The only down side is that the shallow depth means that diving is verboten (I can neither confirm nor deny whether I still snuck in a couple of shallow dives).

I thought of my trip home today when I read that Kodak is exiting the film camera business.  I'm sure my dad will be disappointed as he still uses a film camera, which I learned when he came to visit at my brother's house last week.  You can imagine my young nieces' disappointment when he took their picture and they asked if they could see it.  "No, honey, grandpa has to send the film to get it processed before you can see the pictures.  Just be thankful they don't make daguerreotypes any more, or we'd all have to stand still much longer for him to take a picture."  (Note to dad - it's the 21st century!  Tommy Lee Jones is not as cool as you think he is, and technology is moving forward - time to get rid of the VCR and 8 Track player too.)

I may be all for jettisoning outdated technology, but some things should not be discarded, to include classic movies.  Heather and I finally watched "Roots" this week for the first time, which was a pretty good miniseries.  I doubt either of our families watched it when it came out and even if they had, Heather and I were too young to remember it, so we made use of the extra time this week to take it in.    It was a very compelling story, but I must say it was kind of sad watching a young 18 year old Lavar Burton playing the lead role of Kunta Kinte, years before blindness would rob his sight and force him to wear a banana clip visor on Star Trek, The Next Generation.

Next week it's back to the proverbial grindstone.  I wonder if Millers ever actually said "back to the grindstone"?  Anyway, as fate and a little forward planning would have it, I'm returning to two 4 day weeks, thanks to the Labor Day weekend, which should help ease the pain.  This goatee will go the way of the Dodo and sleeping in until 7 will become a distant memory, but it will be good to get back to being a productive member of society again I suppose.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Recharging My Batteries

Two weeks ago Heather and I started our whirlwind tour of central America - no, not the Central America filled with tropical forests and corrupt regimes, but the middle of the USA, home of lots of farms and patriotism.  We drove from San Antonio to Heather's grandparents in the boothill of Missouri the first day.  It turns out Arkansas is just as nondescript as you would imagine it.

Heather's grandparents, at 90 years of age, are definitely showing their age, and we relished the visit knowing that our time with them will undoubtedly be coming to an end in the not too distant future.  It was encouraging to spend some time with a couple who have been together over 70 years.  He is almost blind and she is nearly deaf, but together they get everything done that must be done.  They both offered the same sage words of wisdom as we were heading out the door that has guided them through the years, and which is undoubtedly even more prescient at this stage of their lives  - "take care of each other!"

Next we moved on to Heather's parents in Kentucky.  This was a very restful week, as there's not much going on at the ole' farm.  I caught several naps in between watching the Olympics and reading my books.  I found an old US yearbook from 1973, and it was interesting to browse.  Most of the political headlines could have come straight from today, and it reminded me how little things truly change over time at the core.  We also got to spend some time with our two grown nieces and a new grand nephew.  I never realized that a toddler could become addicted to anything, but I think that kid was hooked on playing with smartphones.  He went from mom to aunt to grandma like a heroin addict looking for his next hit.  Maybe someone will invent an app that teaches kids to read.

We finished off the week by driving to my brother's in Hannibal, Missouri.  We had a great visit and got in some touristy activities, like touring a local cave and taking a ride on a riverboat on the Mississippi.  It was fun going back to the college where Heather and I met, and I even got to show a couple of my nieces my tiny dorm room that I believe still has the same furniture in it, although the blinds are in worse shape now.

My parents both came up for a couple of days, although at different times, since they are divorced and if they occupy the same space for more than a brief period of time the universe may implode.  As a bonus, my driver's license was about to expire and I was able to get a new license at the nearest town across the river, so now my license photo has me with a beard.  We finally headed out for the two day drive home and arrived back here with 2400 more miles on the car after spending over 40 hours on the road.  It wasn't an action-packed vacation, but we enjoyed it immensely.  I realized again just how important family is, and Heather and I even tossed around the idea of retiring in the Hannibal area.  I don't know if that will happen but we definitely need to visit home more often.