Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wasn't That a Weekend!

After closing up shop at work on Thursday, July 24th, Bill and I did some last minute things before hooking up and heading up to the Acreage at Durham for our weekend. It is the annual Girls weekend for me, with my 5 sisters and Mom.

Arriving by 9:05 on schedule, we were greeted by Donna and Gerry, and Audrey and Tom from Montreal. We set up the Designer for the weekend, visited over a lovely campfire and shared the evening together.

Friday morning, up and at 'em!

and I said our goodbyes, leaving the men to their boy weekend, and headed to Chatsworth for ours. I always take too many clothes and this year was no different, with the weather person playing games with what we should expect. I had a jam-packed suitcase plus a camera bag and another carryall. I was pleased to see that Aj also had the same amount of pieces loaded in Donna's Honda even though I'm sure mine was heavier!!
Gayle and

 met us at the door and our first job was to unload and choose a bed mate and room. 

Gayle and John own a cosy cottage style three + bedroom home just on the outskirts of Chatsworth with a pond and 50 acres of property. Beautiful little spot, quite a change for them from their previous lifestyle in the busy city of St. Catharine's.

 Once the sleeping arrangements were decided upon, we took 2 vehicles to meet up with Wendy in Owen Sound.

Wendy, our talented little sister.
On the way, it was very convenient to make a couple of pit stops, one at Value Village and one at the Bible Mission Habitat Store in her fair city. We love our second hand shops and I was tickled to find a Kuerig almost identical to ours for $25 and brought it home for the trailer. When we walk through the doors of these shops, we all have a destination in mind and spread out accordingly. Sometimes we offer opinions on another's special find, other times we just meet at checkout with a nod of the head, 'finished?' The rest of the day was filled with eating, drinking, laughing, walking and sharing memories and stories. We get along so well and our biggest challenges are to agree on what our plans for the following day will be.

Mom enjoying some fresh air.
We decided to spend Saturday with Mom and exclusively for Mom. Since she is plagued with mild cognitive dementia, the over night stays are too difficult for her. We booked a room in her building, brought in food, wine, hand written poetry with memories and my little sister, Wendy, even brought in her guitar for some tunes. We took Mom out for a brief outing to see the Hanover dam. It was a fabulous day spent with a fabulous lady. Mom had an absolutely wonderful time and showed off her 6 girls to many of her friends in the Village.

Mom and Gayle listening to Donna's memory poem.
We relaxed on Sunday except for more eating out, breakfast and supper, and had a dip in the hot tub and a couple of games of Scrabble and Sequence under the gazebo. By the time the end of day arrived, we were sated and pleased with all that we had accomplished in our 3 days together.

 Monday morning was a pack-up, clean-up, go to meet our men morning with sweet hugs at our arrival. The weekend couldn't have gone better and the weather person was wrong once again as it turned out rain-free except during the overnight hours!

Plans have already begun for our 2015 gathering!

Thanks for stopping in, I'm happy to 'see' you.

Sunflower Girls

My dad was quite the character, father of 6 girls and 2 boys, you'd expect him to be loud, demanding and controlling instead of the quiet, passive, humorous man that he was. Before we lost him in 1995, he was a master of his own little cb radio world. Daddy sat in our kitchen in Lucan during my teen years, beside a small 18" x 24" utility table which supported his radio. He started small, just like we do with most things, leaving room to grow.

My dad playing around on his son-in-laws drums.

Before  he had to rely completely on oxygen.

  When he became ill and was diagnosed with emphysema in the 70's, most of my sibs had moved out and in 1975 I did the same, moving on to my own new adventure. My younger brother, sister and foster brother remained at home, with my parents, until they graduated out of elementary school. The family moved to Zurich. Daddy's hard kitchen chair became a much more comfortable recliner chair and the table which housed his radio changed into a full blown 'centre' consisting of a file drawer for his post card contacts from all over the world, pencils, pads, kleenex, peppermints and of course his newer model radio. Because he was always on oxygen and of low energy at the best of times, here is where we'd find him when we visited. Happy as can be, anxious to show us who he spoke to from Texas or Singapore or Newfoundland. Perfect example of making the best of a not so pleasant health situation. 

                                                               His 'handle' was Sunflower.
When my daughter was 2, she couldn't pronounce our last name, Snelgrove, so chose to call my father Grandpa Sunflower. It stuck for her and her brother. It's my favourite flower and we take a metal one with us on each camping trip, I have a tattoo of a sunflower in memory of Daddy and I re-painted his little wood box with the logo.

He got this name from the row of huge sunflowers that they planted and grew along their long country lane way. A few years ago when my sister was beginning a blog where us 6 girls could share our stories, the name Sunflower Girls was an easy choice. We began writing, slowly at the start, and then realizing that we needed no approval, more often, as ideas and thoughts came to our heads. The thrill has slowed down, but not died off and I hope it never does.

Writing has always been a release for me, sometimes poetry sometimes just ramble, and though I tend to be long-winded at times, I feel good about putting words to paper. It runs in the family. The writing, not the long-windiness. Our mom at 88 still writes in her journal every day. How cool is that?

Cathy, Audrey, Gayle, Donna, Wendy and Mom
I am preparing to spend a weekend with my sisters, beginning tonight.

Every year, as I've mentioned on my Family Fun page, we get together and create a handful of new memories. I will keep in touch with how all of that worked out! All we need is some nice weather so the umbrellas don't have to opened all weekend long!

Thanks for reading, y'all come back now, ya hear?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shingles - Roofing or Affliction?

When I was 15, right in the heart of my teen years in Lucan, I contracted chicken pox. I didn't have to sign on a dotted line for this commitment, no, but I did bring them home to my older brother. You can just imagine how thrilled he was. I was lucky with the number of spots, just my upper body mostly and my face and head. I'm sure my little brother got them too but it wasn't a nasty outbreak like some of my friends talked about.

The worst thing for me was what I would look like to the 'boys' and how can I cover them up to go to the teen dance at the arena. I remember that after a couple of weeks they had pretty much all disappeared except one.........smack dab in the middle of my forehead! Saturday rolled around, the night of the dance, a live band, Physique Delta, and I had earned enough money by working around the house to go. I wasn't going to let my last one pox ruin the night for me, so I did what any  little flirt would do. I picked it off. Mom warned me not to pick them, she said I would always have a scar there. Parents don't know everything though, right?
I made it to the dance and no one was the wiser.

The dance was great, I had the time of my life! Now, I'm approaching 60 and I realized that parents do know quite a bit about many many things. This knowledge isn't just from the fact that I am now a parent, but because there it is............if I look closely, the scar in the middle of my forehead. I must remember to tell my mother when next I see her......"you were right, Mom", give her a hug and be done with it. Sigh,  am I seriously still waiting for those words from my own two children? 
My girlfriend and I ready for another dance night. Man we was cool!

So, the dance is over, the teenage years are long gone. I've married, bore children as mentioned, I've divorced and put all that behind me. In 1996 I found myself engaged to Bill. I must admit that our relationship was challenging from day one, and through all of the exciting times we found ourselves wrestling with the whole step-children issues for years to come. Perseverance paid off, thank goodness, and we came out at the good end alive and happy. 

In 1999 we were invited to Englewood, Florida, where Bill's snowbird parents lived through the winter months. I had never flown anywhere before nor had I ever been south. Two birds with one stone coming right up! Our trip was planned for April for 10 days. Approximately 4 days before our flight, I developed what our doctor diagnosed as shingles. I will spare you the pictures, you can check what they look like on your own. A loony sized circle of itchiness and blisters appeared on my right thigh. I had never seen them before even though I know that my Dad was afflicted with them for many of the last years of his life. They never went away for him, he was uncomfortable so much of the time, yet I never looked at them. For me, my father in law suggested the hot Florida sun would help heal them which was a great excuse for me to soak it up.......not that I ever need a reason to sun-sit. 

Within 2 days of arriving in Florida, the itch was relieved and the pain was also gone. If it wasn't for the scar (chicken pox!!) I would never know I experienced it. I was informed that it was a one time thing for most people who had previously had chicken pox. We would be carrying the virus and find ourselves very susceptible to contracting shingles in our later years. My husband, Bill, can call me one in a million and say it with love (and once in a while in anger) but I truly am a rare one. Since 1999, that was not a first and last time for me, it was the first of many shingles outbreaks. I take a medication which, if caught early enough (by a slight tingling on the right side of my body) could lighten the effect of the breakout but I don't carry the pills with me so this isn't always an easy thing to forecast. 

In 2010, I heard of a vaccine called Zostavax,  www.zostavax.ca   that the elderly or anyone at risk of getting shingles can get to prevent it or 'stop' it from re-occurring for us odd balls. So I had the injection.  Ask your doctor about Zostavax if you are over 55, I'm not recommending the vaccine, just telling my side of the story.

. My drug plan covered the cost and I was tickled pink! Until 11 days later I yet again contracted shingles. My doctor was stunned and got out his research docs only to discover that I was something like 1 in 1100 people to have it reoccur like this. Oh well, I'll deal with it and continue with the meds until my retirement and then decide just how bad the outbreaks are without it before deciding what my next step is. I will admit that the vaccine seems to have restricted the size and the duration of the outbreak although not the number of re-occurrences so that says something!  

In closing (finally you say?) I still consider myself very very lucky. I know that instead of these many many outbreaks, sometimes one right on top of the other for a stretch of 3 weeks in a row, I could be suffering like my Dad did or many other elderly people who have a large portion of one side of their bodies affected. I am fortunate and wouldn't change it for the world. 

I even think I can go so far as to say that I would rather put up with this affliction than to find myself on the roof of my or any others house on a hot humid summer day laying the more common kind of shingles. If this is the only price I have to pay for being a happy teenager defying chicken pox rules in the late 60's, then so be it!
You were right, Mom.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rock Glen Family Park

On May 25th, Bill and I visited Rock Glen Family Park in Arkona http://rockglen.com/  for a tour of their park. We wanted to learn more about the membership (ROD & AOR) program we'd heard about from a fellow blogger. Planning for our future after retirement is the name of the game and it's always on our minds.
Rock Glen Family Resort Welcome
Ignore the snow! I'm not sure if my links are done properly but you should get the gist of how to find these sites.
After meeting Rob, the owner, and his right hand person, Cathy, we found ourselves signing on the dotted line to join. As it turned out, a 'used' membership had been turned in from another member no longer able to use it and the price was just too good to walk away from. We had no intention of starting this so early. After all, we have 2 years before we will be hitting the road full time!

This past weekend, July 11, 12, 13 was our first opportunity to take advantage of the 'free' camping in our home park. What a wonderful welcome, from not only the staff but from other members camping here. This is a members only park so it is well kept, well monitored and lots to participate in at no cost if you so choose. We can stay here anywhere from 2 to 14 days at no cost as long as we move out for the same number of days before we come back and do it again. Quite a deal! The bonus doesn't stop there as once we are full time, there are many locations across Canada and the U.S. where we can stop for a week free before moving on to another destination.

George and Suzie and their home
We met our friends, George and Suzie, here again and found a spot just around the corner in the square. The weather was on our side and we arrived and were set up by 2 pm on Friday. My husband has detailed the weekend nicely in his blog  http://clembillpat.blogspot.ca so I will just touch on my fine points.
Site 083
Set up on the square

After set up we walked the park, oohing and aahing at the facilities and amenities as well as checking out the other trailers and vehicles. We relaxed a bit back at the site with some reading etc. before getting dinner on the go, sausages in a bun on our Weber Q 200. Since our friends had just celebrated an anniversary we popped in to see the Yates' and deliver a card. Before you know it, an hour has passed and once again we chuckle at how time flies...........

After a good night's sleep, oh how I love our king size bed! I was up and out for a walk around the park with my camera just after 7:30 am.  It was exciting when I found another Jayco Designer, a rare find, with 4 slides as opposed to our 3. I snapped a picture so I would remember to tell Bill.
2007 Jayco Designer with 4 slides

Since it was a beautiful warm/hot day after my walkabout I followed the sun from our site as it rolled across the sky. We were facing west so had to move a bit in the morning to catch some of those rays. Bacon and eggs on Weber, a visit from George and Suzie to help Bill with his blogging and finally Clemson welcomed Suzie into his trailer and into his world. We knew it was only a matter of time.
Suzie and Clemson
New friends

I'm hoping Bill remembers most of what George showed him so he can in turn show me! I have a lot to learn for sure. Together we planned our first "social hour" and opted to host.

Bill and I went for a dip in the pool,
Bill cooling off in the pool
the 'boys' had a siesta and our company arrived bringing new friends, Richard and Marylou. Very nice to meet other campers. I need to get better at this though and start snapping photos for my own benefit! I want to remember everyone and I'm usually such a camera nut.

After dinner, we walked down to the valley to see the Designer. If you're not too shy, you can always meet some new friends, as we did. Upon asking about their trailer, Chris very kindly took us through. We'd never seen a set up like that before and found it quite nice for a 2007 model. Within 15 minutes back home, Bob came up and invited us to bring our chairs and join them for a campfire. How nice! The evening went well and quickly and we headed back home around 10 just before the rain started.

This is what its all about, great camping, new friends, lots of laughs and wonderful stories and tips. We do love this lifestyle.

The advantage of the membership park is that we don't need to wait for a check in time or abide by a check out time. We can come and go as we please and will get put on a site that is available. We aren't particular where we go but at least now have a better idea which ones to ask for when we come again.

Mini golf
Roadway before tar and chip
Rental cabin
Roadway after tar and chip

We left around 2:30 and were home in good time to get the laundry done.

Thank you for checking in with me today, as always please feel free to drop me a line! I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Been there, Done that

Bill used to own a motorcycle, back in his earlier days, late 70's early 80's. It was a 1980 650 Yamaha.  I don't have a picture of him with it so posted this one instead. Vavavoom! The point of this is that apparently, once you have owned/rode

a two wheeler with this kind of power, you can't go back to life fully, without an itch to ride again. It was always in the back of his mind that he'd like another bike some day.

I had only ridden on the back of one (maybe two) in my life and they weren't that memorable for me. There was no real itch for me until................on the side of the road one day in 2005, on a co-worker's front lawn sat a nice looking blue Honda Goldwing 1000, 1979. Asking price $1200. Hmmmm. I told Bill about it and lo and behold he started scratching the itch. It was certainly a price that we could afford and once we discovered that this bike was considered a classic, and that the insurance was a mere $240/year, we bought it.

This was a new experience for me and so I was a bit fearful and stiff for the first few rides. After all, this was a big honkin' bike! 750 lbs without us on it. It didn't take me long to trust that my husband knew what he was doing and could handle the Wing very capably and professionally. I relaxed and soon we were taking short trips in cool evenings and longer trips on hot summer days. Our first year, without official bike gear, we had helmets, regular winter gloves, snow pants and winter coats. We must have looked a sight! I discovered early on that I did not enjoy riding when it was cool because I would freeze and come home an unhappy rider, chilled to the bone.
Not only did we like to ride, but our cockapoo was small enough that he got to tag along with us. His crate very easily fit onto the trunk and he was secured down but good! 
Clemson didn't care where he was basically, as long as he was going where we were going............so we put on his goggles and into the crate he eagerly went. Our first and only big trip was to Montgomery, New York for a week during the hottest June week in 2007. Or maybe it was remembered so easily because we were decked out in leather chaps, jackets, gloves, boots and of course helmets. Yes, we had decided that we were going to do this bike thing right and safe!
The home of  OCC (Orange County Choppers)

As we rode through Letchworth State Park in 32C weather, we changed our tune. Still safe, but without the chaps and jackets. Clemson was the cool cat, in all aspects of the word. Look at him! He never touched the goggles as long as he was in his crate but the minute we stopped and set him on the ground, he pawed and pawed and slipped them off easily. Too cute! My son just had to buy him a leather collar with spikes after that!

At Letchworth.
Below is our ride to Port Dover in 2007. Riding with friends, before our bike broke down in Simcoe. We weren't all smiles then. We had to leave the Wing parked for the day and we hopped aboard their bikes to take in the experience. Sad, but sadder still when we discovered on our return trip that it was a mere electrical shortage. Anyway, it was a fun day and our first day in the crazy town on Friday the 13th!
Since it was an old bike, things broke down on it. We were caught a few times in the heat in a stall (once was our NY trip just lined up at the border) and had to push the monster to get it to turn over. Another time it was a flat tire and a couple of other things that I don't remember......which guaranteed a trip home in a tow truck. Oh yah, I remember that gorgeous young man whom I sat beside in the truck......didn't have an eligible daughter at the time though. Shucks!

We even joined the London Chapter of the Goldwing Club but after a few years of attending meetings, the thrill was gone for me. We couldn't go on the big trips they always talked about and although Bill got a lot of 'free' riding tips and we took in a few evening ice cream runs, we decided to let it lag. Again, the rv'ing had grabbed hold of us and that's what we wanted to be doing instead of riding. 

Bill had taken the time one winter to strip it down, remove all the paint able pieces and take them into a shop for a new paint job. What a great job they did on it and the Honda looked like new! We found a bike radio and a fearing on ebay and had them shipped over from California for Bill to install. Since the bike had tumbled a few times by one or more of the 9 previous owners, the fearing was all banged up and the windshield a bit of a mess. We didn't spend a lot of money on the parts but still we kept an eye on just how much it was costing us. Once we got back into our camping with the new Cougar, the bike was pretty much neglected except as a cheap means of transportation for Bill to go back and forth to work. Filling a tank for $15 was great!

A few years ago, 2011 maybe, something major went on the bike. Bill could tell you exactly what it was but to me it didn't matter. With a repair cost of $1200.........the decision was easy, sad but easy all the same. We posted it on Kijiji and watched a bike enthusiast for older model Goldwings come around with his son and load it on the trailer. They are happy, hence the smiles on their faces!

 We have days that we miss riding, a hot summer day down to Port Stanley along Dexter Line to Port Bruce and even to Long Point was a fun afternoon. But if there was a chill in the air and we had a 30 min. ride ahead of us, you couldn't talk me into going for a spin. We still thought maybe someday we'd get another one.........but now I'm not so sure. 

Rv'ing is the life for me! I don't have to ride behind Bill and peek over his shoulder to see what's going on.  Instead I sit right up there in the front of our truck cab beside my sweetie, holding his hand and watching the view.

Thanks for peeking in today, keep wheelin' no matter how you do it!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Thrill is Gone - Back to work

All good things come to an end............and likewise with my 2 week vacation. I have no complaints, it was glorious (yes, glorious!) while it lasted and I still have that relaxed feeling today even with the knowledge that I am returning to work at 7 am tomorrow. Did you say alarm??

I accomplished a lot of small tasks, some not so small, and some reading which I don't do a lot of while working 5 days a week. My lunch hour is only 30 min. and break periods are not enough to settle into a book with my tea. 

I finished a book that my daughter recommended to me, The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. A different type of story about the author's version of a flu epidemic which brought about a semi-world demise. It was very personable, fun, and adorable. The character was a pilot and his best friend was his dog so since I have a dog and a husband who loves airplanes and flies his own remote controlled models, I felt right at home. A great read which brought a tear more than once. I like those kinds of books. I think Bill would enjoy it too if it wasn't due back on Wednesday! He doesn't read a lot other than magazine articles but does enjoy a good story once in a while. I'll have to try and get it on my kobo for him.

Speaking of books.....I belong to a book club at my library. I've only been a member for a year and really wasn't sure what I was getting into. I'm not a 'joiner' of sorts, not very outspoken at all and tend to be shy in a group of people I don't know. I can be intimidated easily..........hmmm, should I be telling you all this? Just for the record, I am almost 60 and I refuse to be bullied and also choose very wisely how I will spend my time. If something is too boring, someone is too obnoxious or I am feeling uncomfortable, I will stop attending. 

The club has approximately 14 members, give or take a couple. I've never seen everyone altogether at one time, but this is the number I came up with over the term. One gentleman was there when I joined and seems to attend every Wednesday night meeting (once a month). I, on the other hand, do not. If I haven't finished a book and am enjoying it, I won't go. I'll renew if possible and/or cram to get it done by the due date. I don't like the ending spoiled on anything. I repeat, anything! Glenn is a quiet, very intelligent 60+ man who doesn't shoot down anyones opinion of the book. I know this, because he chuckles when I comment on a 'chic' story about how I loved the romance of it all, when he will very openly say....."it was too mushy for me, but it was a good story". Once in a story the female character refused to go shopping for new clothes even when offered money to do so. I commented how frustrating that is to a person like myself who loves to shop.........Glenn laughed out loud. He will often comment about how his wife would enjoy this type as well.

There is a second gentleman also, who attends sporadically. He is a nice man too, I'm sure, but comes off as the brown-nose, a bit arrogant and has friendships with some local authors. I don't like listening to him, so I'm secretly glad that he isn't there every month. The rest of us are female and of varying ages. Mostly in our 50's, a few older, and maybe three younger we create an interesting group. Some talk too much, some not enough and me, I try to stay right in the middle. It is an enjoyable hour out of the house when I go.

I had a lot of books in my house, over the years having belonged to the Doubleday Book Club. Wow, is that even still around? I used to love ordering books and having them arrive at my door, all hardcovers. I don't have time for the small paperbacks. I will pick up the large soft cover books at the library or at a garage sale because I can fool myself into believing they are 'just like a hardcover'. Silly, I know, but again it is all about age and choices. :)
I've emptied shelves, offered books to my daughter who has a house full,  found some of my favourites on a free books site Tuebl.com and downloaded them into my kobo and put the remainder into boxes for a garage sale in the fall or spring. 

 Of course I have others that will go with me when we sell and move into our Jayco fulltime. Just a handful that I know I will read again and can't find them online. I refuse to pay for online books and know from a fellow blogger that there are many options for trading reading materials in the travel world. This I'm counting on!

This was a big accomplishment for me................................I've sorted out my recipe books and clippings! I went from a full crammed 3' wide x 2' deep shelf to this. I can't believe what 40 yrs of clipping magazines and buying second hand cookbooks, many of them diet recipes has come down to. Like how could I possibly think I would make all those wonderful meals??? LOL, I'm so proud of this endeavour that I vow to minimize even more or at the very least, stop adding to it. Add one discard one, that's my motto for clothes and recipes.

This has been fun, thank you for stopping in for a READ.
Any or all comments are welcome!