Friday, June 24, 2011

Firemen's Workshop Sepia Saturday Week 80 (Click here to go to Sepia Site)

Newspaper photo from May 6, 1940
I have been scanning  articles and photos from Uncle's collection so that I can send the originals to PA to the volunteer Fire Department to which he belonged for so many years.  They are hosting a statewide convention this August and will enjoy using  the materials for their exhibits.  As Uncle Carl had some interesting tidbits from their history over the years, I offer the above as my Sepia for the week.  The date of the newspaper is on the back side.  This must have been a nice workshop and quite the  place for it's time in that town.  Carl, 2nd from the left, who always was interested in tools and equipment looks very much up to whatever he was working on.  The other men look as though they might have been called in to pose for the photo as it appears to me they are not in work clothes.   All these men are gone. 

Many years later, after  he returned from the war and became established in the work world Carl would  amass his own work shop in his home, the entire basement level and would have at least three or five of most tools. He was a tool collector.   Everything would have a specific place and there it had to return. He had the original mancave where he enjoyed  spending time. 

Now that he is gone and we are left to dispose of the home it is a monumental task to clear it all out.  We will be returning to PA in July, hiring someone to  hold an estate sale and selling  off his lifetime accumulation of tools.  Jerry has  gleaned lots of treasures and  we have enticed another nephew to take some things, but there is too much left. At least he did not acquire massive equipment like this backhoe; he was always fond of those contraptions too.  This photo is from about 1970, at his work with the natural gas company.
About 1970  Carl and the backhoe
This last photo shows him in about 1989, we think when he was honored for 50 years with the Fire Department; he was president of the board for several terms and also very fond of that department.  Here he is, cleaned up and checking the guages on the truck, likely just stopped over the firehouse to see how the guys on duty were doing and to be sure all was as it should be.   

This has been my Sepia post for the week and as  always, click on the title to this post to go to the Sepia Host Site  to see what Alan posted this week and  to connect with other interesting  contributors.   We are on week 80, aging well, I think.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Moody, shoes and never say never

Dining room looking toward sun room
I have just finished dusting all the living and dining room furniture which took about an hour. I figured I'd best get a handle there as we prepare again to hit the road. Fortunately our home stays really clean, tightly and well built, little dust and no animals or smoke so this is not something I have to do weekly. Trouble is I hate domestic chores, and most of our furniture is antique and or antique like with curlicues, etc. Once in a great blue moon I don't mind, but generally I am not amused. It is then I consider hiring a house cleaner because there is so much else I would rather be doing...so I grumble along. Then I get back to my reality which is I would be very unhappy to have our treasures damaged, broken or nicked and I am fussy about having things done right...a genetic characteristic from my late aunt Jinx and late Uncle Carl. In CA when I worked, I always had house cleaners, some very good some not so and it did not matter if I used an agency or had a private individual everything was not always the way it  should have been in my eyes. When Jerry retired years before I could,  he volunteered to assume the dusting and vacuuming which is primarily what the paid help did and so he did. I ask him today what happened to that? He remarks that I am retired now too! This usually starts a conversation about how I did not retire to become a domestic goddess and we go on. He tells me to go ahead and hire someone and then I have to admit I can easily do this one room at a time when I choose, I just don't like to. Yesterday at my book club meeting one of the women said she and hubby were considering selling their home and moving into a condo because she was tired of house upkeep which led us into discussion about so many other things we prefer to do. At this point I shudder to even think of moving anywhere, just when we have the house the way we want it. Oh no, that is not in the imminent future, so I will likely continue to grumble. I  put on some Rod Stewar CD's on, turn up the surround sound, crank it up there and rock around with Rod.  

Florence, MIL in January at the SNF, her birthday celebration
Meantime thoughts about what I could be writing plague me. Lately I have been reminded yet again to not ever disdain anything I see in stores let alone saying, "well I'd never buy that or spend that much on that." I posted on Facebook these brief thoughts after taking 94 year old MIL shoe shopping Saturday, driving 30 some miles up the high way to Sparta, WI to Arenz shoe store where they specialize in the geriatric, hard to fit and all sorts of better shoes. I post one of her recent photos here as I  talk about her and so it may be of interest to see her.  Anyone who remarks that she appears to be a sweet old lady is reminded that appearances are deceiving  But I digress,  I have not been able to find shoes to fit this woman for the past several months because she has a small but very wide foot with bunions and arthritis; I have purchased and returned maybe 25 pairs of different shoes and nothing fits. I was dreading taking her as it is not a fun experience to spend time with her, but here I was driving up the highway with her, something I'd rather not do but no one else will and so here we go. No way could I persuade Jerry to go along and it is his mother, I remind him. Oh he had a handy excuse he had to haul two truckloads of cut down trees and shrubs to the dump which he can only do on Saturday afternoons. Fine.

Florence,MIL, among her other issues like dementia does not hear and so conversations are not possible. At least in the car I can turn on music which she can't hear whilst she continues to talk about whatever is going through her mind. Honestly I miss my relatives who though aged were pleasant company. Downtown Sparta is an interesting old dairy farmland town with several stores still operating.   I fantasized that after we bought shoes I could buzz by the Quilt Corner but that was not to be. Here is just one link to Sparta, WI if you are curious http://spartawisconsin.org/

Getting her fitted and convinced about the kind of shoe she needs took over two hours. We endured her ramblings about not being able to wear hose anymore, no kidding and now she doesn't go anywhere so she does not need to dress up and cannot wear dress shoes, etc..and of course she had to regale the sales lady with her  current bowel movements and lack there of.  Why does she  feel her bowels are of interest to everyone?  It has always puzzled me among other things why she would wear shoes that did not fit her feet, something I have never understood as foot pain is not tolerable to me. Once in CA during one of their frequent visits when FIL was alive, I had shoes  to donate to the thrift store because they hurt my feet , so they could not have a place in my closet. She was visiting at the time and took those shoes, despite that they did not fit her.  You get the idea I do not have fond memories of and with this woman and sympathize with all who endure MIL's.

The saleslady was very patient and assured me it was not a problem as she is used to this with the elderly, but even she was stretched to her limits. When we arrived I explained to the sales lady this would be difficult because MIL does not hear and so speak loudly and then her dementia is likely to result in any response.. related or not to the question.

Of course MIL, whose finances are managed by Jerry,  inquires as to the price of everything and her thrifty (aka cheap) side begins to surface. I personally do not care what the shoes cost so long as they fit and give her the support she needs; I am giving up my Saturday and we will get shoes for her else mayhem may emerge from me. I tell the saleslady to not divulge high prices because the old lady will balk like a mule and then I will have driven all this way for naught. I tell her to say everything cost $50 and even that is too high to MIL who still talks about and wears the one good pair of shoes she owns. That is a pair she bought with me five years ago and paid $100, she claims the only time in her life she spent so much on shoes, I have heard this story over and over and over. Besides I was there when we entered that last store in the mall that day after being in each store  that sold shoes and wasting three hours;the charming young man who waited on us convinced her to buy the shoes.  Hallelujah, I could have hugged him.  He flattered and appealed to her vanity somehow once again demonstrating that she is  susceptible to any man who talks a good line.  This is another strong  theme in her life story.

When Florence finally agreed to a decent shoe after trying on 18 different pairs (after which I  quit counting and sighing) and wandering around with her walker looking at every shoe including ones she never would have worn in the past let alone now I felt like celebrating! Not having a bottle of wine with me, I knew I'd have to wait till I returned home. Neither did I have a flask along to take a nip!

My new SAS golden sandals
But now I get to the never say never part of this post.  I admired the sandals the saleslady wore in black patent leather and asked what they were. Turned out they were SAS, a quality brand that used to be made in Maine but now are made in Texas. I see in the SAS display the sandals  in gold leather and know it is the shoe for me. If the shoe fits, go for it.   I have had a fascination with gold shoes all my life; recall my post about my first pair of "golden slippers" as a child, a present from Aunt Fran.  If you are curious, you can visit that post at    http://patonlinenewtime.blogspot.com/search/label/Fran%20Amerine

I ask for these sandals in my size and when I try them on I know this is heaven for my  feet and must have them.  The sole reminds me of the Birkenstocks I wore in CA as it molds to fit the foot.  There are two buckles, one adjusts the toe strap and one the side.  The sales lady and I have a good laugh reminiscing that these type of sandals were once known to us as thongs, but today we cannot say that in "polite company"  as thongs now are underwear. 

Well to wrap back to the title, just last week I was in a Herburger's department store and noticing that many  well known shoe brands including Clarks are offering flip flops,  rubber  like shoes that can be bought at WalMart for $15 tops but these major brands are priced at $40 on up.  I thought to myself, "who would pay that for rubber flip flops?"  I also felt smug that I would never do that.  But here I am on Saturday of the same week, forking over $139 for my new golden SAS.  Well at least my new shoes are not rubber and I am loving and living in them all summer.  After all, I deserve these and more for spending the day with MIL.  Back home, Jerry gasps at the price and shakes his head saying, "next time take along a flask and have a shot, it would be cheaper!"  He is amazed at so little leather for so much money and comments that his boots cost less and have easily  10 times more leather.  But I remind him, these were made in the USA, not China and  I deserve these and more!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sepia Saturday Week 79 Water and Uncle Carl (Click here to the Sepia Site)

Ah it is this time of the week again and Alan afloat on the Atlantic suggests water....water water...I have been so busy this week on estate work  for Uncle Carl who if you know me and or follow my blog left us to go HOME in May at  93.  It has also been a hectic unpleasant week too in coping and dealing with things for  94 year old MIL here; Jerry says so often, "Wish that mother could be half as pleasant  or content or appreciative as Uncle Carl  was."  Carl and he became great friends often making us wonder how it could have been if we lived closer.  He loved Jerry and the feeling was so mutual.  Carl as you know had no children, but he was like a father to me much as my Mom allowed her brother to be and Jerry idolized him.  They could talk man things up till the end.  

One fun thing I am doing is scanning Uncle's photos on all things related to the fire department so that I can send originals on to his local Fire Department which is hosting a statewide annual convention in August.  The Firemen turned out in droves for his funeral. He loved the fire department and they loved him.

While scanning I found many other wonderful photos and I share a few of water poses from about 1940, showing Uncle Carl somewhere at a pool on the dive chair or the lifeguard seat....and one last one of a friend of his pondering.  I love these old photos, the reflections in the waters and my handsome  young uncle before I even made it to this planet.   Here we go


Appx 1940 Uncle Carl
 
1940 Uncle Carl....

 I have no idea where these were taken but it is at a swimming pool of some sort; perhaps he was working as a lifeguard.  I love these old photos which were  only about  2 by 3 inches....that they survived so clearly all these years endears them...and check out the reflections in the waters....check out the dive chair, what  is he doing, showing off??

Unknown relative or friend  1940
This last photo may be a cousin, a relative or a friend of Uncle Carl's....same time appx. 1940, same scene.  Thinking of what?

Were they two young guys out for fun or were they on the watch?  Who took the photos and why did Carl save them all these years with no information?  Actually I take that back, these photos were in an album my grandmother and aunt (Carl's mother and sister) had.  Unanswered questions.  But this is my contribution to this week's water on Sepia. 

Wonderful old black and whites, wonderful reflections in the waters, wonderfully handsome young men. 

As usual click on the title to this post to go to the Sepia International Site and see the marvelous offerings by so many others.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another good read, Ann Best's "In the Mirror."

In only two nights I read blog friend, Ann Best's just published memoir,  "In the Mirror, A Memoir o Shattered Secrets."  I met Ann here in the blog world when she was nearly at the end of the journey and about to be published so as soon as  I could I linked  from her blog to her publisher and  purchased a copy  which I began reading the very night it arrived.  You can go to Ann's blog here http://annbest-jen.blogspot.com/ and perhaps you too will purchase her  memoir.  I like to support other writers and have an unquenchable curiosity of their journeys.  Because I so prefer reading non-fiction to fiction, I was curious about another comment that this memoir read like fiction,  but  it does.  It reads like a very good to the point story.  Ann writes clearly and directly about her marriage and it's strange and tragic withering, her struggles,  her journey cross country from Utah to Virginia to start a new life and to care for her children as a single mother, her  Mormon faith, her through the wringer experience when  both daughters are in a dreadful auto accident, her holding on and moving forward barely an inch at a time and her survival.  I was touched by the fast reading of such a shattering experience because Ann covers the lifetime so quickly.  I can see why she plans to write more memoirs because she has hit the high  points, to stretch the word high and there are so many things she could have covered in greater depth.

 I  knew several Mormons when we lived in CA but  I learned more about their faith in this memoir by observing Ann, and her  perseverance; Ann does not delve into how it upheld her, but I feel it did.  The title of the book comes from the mirrors at Mormon weddings where reflections of the happy couple are to represent eternity, a hereafter together.  But it would not be for Ann.

I don't know that I could have been as tolerant and downright gracious as Ann  was through the separation and divorce from Larry, after a 19 year marriage which had trials along the way. It was a heavy cross to bear amidst putting the best face on a family life.  Ann writes about Larry in a soft way, almost endearing him.  I do not believe I  could  have accepted his repetitive  homosexual preferences nor tried to recall  marriage vows when he could not refrain from being with the men. My first thought was Aids!  But back at that time Aids was not  familiar.   I seriously doubt I'd have had it in me to offer him comfort as she does on Page 134 when their daughter is in the intensive care unit in Virginia  after the accident, "But in the quiet hospital room, I looked at his pleading eyes....". Don't  get the wrong idea, Ann has her foibles too, but what woman would not.  As I read about the marriage and Larry's "issues" I felt deep empathy and yet affirmation of my career path resulting from  a vow I had made to myself at age 20 to never be in a position where I would not be able to support myself or my child; I learned  from observing the trials of women in midlife whose marriages failed, or the husband died or some tragedy resulted in their being catapulted into the workforce about which they knew nothing.  I heard their stories of what they endured because they had no means of support and so I never ever became the dependent wife.  I could not help but think Ann might have dealt with this  so differently had she been able to easily enter the workforce.  But I digress.....    

Ann  mentions  mixed blessings and priesthood blessings from the Mormon leaders who upheld her and  reinforced her along the way.  Pg. 142, one blessing "You will probably have some pain for the rest of your life, but you can learn how to  endure it.  Trials are given to perfect us.  In the Spirit World we didn't know what pain was.  We had to come to earth to experience it. "   That is quite a thought to consider for those of us with faith,  why ever do we have to experience pain?  How does that perfect us or enrich us? 

When divorced Ann meets Tom, a "recovering alcoholic" my antenna twitched and as I feared,  and against warnings of friends and others she does marry him.  This becomes a sad mistake but Ann again tries to honor the marriage despite his relapses and amidst her caring for her disabled daughter.  Perseverance and pulling through could be her theme.  None of this is written in a pity party manner, it is simply the life path she followed, portrayed to encourage anyone who is struggling.   I was so touched when Ann leaves Virginia to return to Nevada, leaving the  home she had come to love in an area she had chosen.  Pgs. 199-200 describe  leaving what became home for the old home.  For anyone who has moved and uprooted and then settled in and then uprooted again, this is inspirational.  But Ann does return to Virginia ultimately, proving that the home we create never really leaves us and indeed we can go home again.  Over only 215 pages, Ann has a compelling tale to share.  There is more in the memoir about other incidents but you have to buy it and read it. 

I believe it is the testament to a tale well told that Ann skimmed over her life when so much more could be written.  It leaves me wanting to know more and I will look forward to her next writings.  I will recommend this to my book club next week.   I recommend this book to non-fiction memoir readers and to fiction readers because I understand the comment now.  It reads like a good story or a good story about a bad time. 

Click on the title to this post to go to Ann's blog and read more. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sepia Saturday 78 Uncle Carl"s Paris 1945?

He wrote, "Eiffel Tour Paris"
Alan  is aboard in New York and hopefully enjoying all things the city offers.  He mentioned buildings as the prompt for this week.  I am engaged with much business of my uncle's estate but finally able to do some sharing here on our Sepia community.  As I have shared before, Uncle Carl was with the US Army 809th Tank Destroyer Unit in World War II and all over Europe, even serving time with General Patton.  At one point they were in Paris.   I have scanned a few of the photos he sent home to his mother and sisters, small black and whites still like new all these many many years later.

The year is not identified but based on the  photos in the album from Germany I suspect this was about 1945, perhaps after the war ended.  If you enlarge these photos you can see the old cars.  I like the fountains here in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Along with photos he sent his sisters silk handkerchiefs.  I have the white and blue ones that he'd given to my Mom and to my aunt.  I have scanned only the blue silk one.  Both are under glass on an antique dresser in a bedroom here.

Never having been to Paris I am not sure of this next photo however he did write de la Concorde on the back.  This one shows the Eiffel Tower far off to the right in the distance.  Enlarging the photo makes the old cars visible, which makes me think that this is  after the war. 

He wrote "Palace de la Concorde"
The blue silk handkerchief.  To my sister
 Notice the flags on the corner of the handkerchief.  This is a bit faded but at 66 years it is entitled to have some wrinkles and fade spots.  I have not attempted to do any restoration or cleaning to this because I do not want to destroy it.  It appears to be painted on silk. I wonder if Uncle Carl might not have done this himself because he was an artist in his own right.

Wherever he went he never forgot home and his family. As busy as he was he always took time to remember. Whatever he saw, and I know there were horrors of war, he never wanted to return. Years later his wife would travel to Europe but he always said he had seen enough to last a lifetime.

All the photos are small, about 2inches  by 3 inches,  black and whites and I wonder if they might have been some type of postcard, but there appears to be no way to determine that.  All are stamped, "approved by Censor" on the back side.  Other than Uncle Carl's writing that is all I know about them.  Although the landmarks still exist today, I expect the surrounding areas have had significant changes.  This last one that I scanned for this week is my favorite, showing the river and the bridge. On the back of it, Uncle Carl wrote, "La Cite, Paris"   
Paris about 1945?
This is my return to the Sepia Saturday community after so many weeks away.  As usual click on the title to this post to go to the Sepia site from where you can see what others have shared this week.     







Catch Up on Reads

I am still catching up on our PA trip and things inside and outside aka  gardening here at home, but I see a stack of books which I have read and not yet listed on this blog.  Well this time I will temporarily skip my reviews and simply post the books to the sidebar.  First along the trip when I was coveting reading time and not finding it, after the funeral and on the way home, I did complete another Vince Flynn book.  Vince is one of my favorite authors and superb writing fiction about terrorism and the ability of the US to prevail, perhaps this restores the good old days of American superiority, a time when our leaders were patriotic and had our country's best interests at heart.  Vince is a MN author and I thank Curt whom we met a few years ago in Branson for recommending him.  American Assasin is one of his latest books about how Mitch Rapp, the Jack Bauer type character became our top notch secret weapon against terrorists.  I found this book hardback at the Salvation Army thrift store in Decatur, IN for only $2.  What a bargain for another thriller that wends back in time to how Rapp is recurited and trained and prevails to become our American champion. 

Sue's Memories of Home by Sue Sword and her work with the Christian Appalachian Project, her childhood in Appalachia amidst poverty when the people had  no realization that they were poor.  This little book was swift reading and at times amusing as the girls venture to the old hermit's home.  I remembered an old lady living in a shack up the hill from step cousin's in PA and how we fancied her some sort of witch.   It is a very quick read and amusing at times. It is also a reminder that we do not need to go half way around the world to find poverty and shower it with our philanthropy; poverty  which exists and thrives in areas  today in this country, and not inner cities. 

Little Princes by Conor Grenan was our book club reading selection, a true story about rescuing the children of Nepal from the child traffickers.  It was OK reading, nothing revealing although the author has his own perspective of being there at a carefree time in his life.  It is about the Little Prince's Home established to rescue these children and return them when possible to their families deep in the mountains.  The families sold off their boys and girls to  these child traffickers thinking they would have a better life; in reality the children were sold off as slaves and worse.  I will be curious what the other women thought about it.  I found it ho hum reading.  Not one I'd have chosen.

The 6th Target  another fiction mystery by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro featuring detective Lindsay Boxer and the Women's Murder Club.   I enjoy mysteries and if I am reading fiction these rank up there.  I remember one of many quotes in this book, "overcrowded like a shot glass stuffed with a fistful of crayons"  page 35 showing the good writing amidst the mystery.  One "insane" shooter on the ferry to Alcatraz turns himself in meanwhile children of the wealthy  in the CA Bay Area are being abducted.  A good twister as Patterson usually writes.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Some PA came back to MN

We are home safe and sound although coming  along on I 94/80  near Gary,IN  I was as close as I ever want to be to  a semi that was drifting into our lane, my passenger side,  to go nowhere as the traffic was heavy and all lanes were filled.  Fortunately the truck driver came to his senses or heard Jerry laying on the horn; when we finally got past him in our own lane to his  left, he glared as if we'd done something. I said a loud thank you to my "people" and guardians.  The trucker appeared to be in his 40's, skinny pointed nose and looked stoned, but don't ask me how I determined that as he was wearing those reflector mirror sun glasses.  Most often the truckers we have met along the road are decent folk who want to avoid accidents too, this character looked hell bent to crash.  This part of the highway has had lots of construction and likely will have forever.  Generally we go farther south in IN, but decided to take the shorter route.  The mad trucker veered off toward Chicago and proceeded to terrorize other motorists.  I was glad to be sitting high up in our coach, still did not want to share a seat and a tiny car would not have had a chance.  Another bump on the road was on  I 80 which was shut down to a stand still in IL while more construction occurs, which made for a long drive.  When we return to PA in July we will avoid I 80 as it likely will not be completed. The  funny thing was we veered farther north, to MI on 31, missing our Hwy 20 connection to I94. We have always wanted to go north along the Lake in MI and return down the WI side and sitting in the  traffic stop, Jerry said, "we should have kept going north."  Ah well, all's well that ends well. 

All is unloaded at home and the laundry is in full force.  I picked up MIL's clothes from the  SNF today to add to the heap.  She refuses to allow them to do her laundry while we are gone, my fault for doing her laundry while we are here.  Although I mark her clothing and it could have survived the facility laundry which is done by a local woman whom I  well know, MIL gets her hackles up and refuses.  She has plenty of clothes to last over a month, but the underwear is another story.  Her solution besides not changing daily (eeyew) is  to rinse them out in her sink.  I am tired talking to her about this and Jerry refuses to discuss further too.  You can imagine his reluctance,  how would you like to tell your 94 year old mother that she is not clean?  What I do not understand is how the SNF allows her to get away with this, rinsing them in her sink in her room and then hanging them over the back of a chair to dry?  She does have a private room and other than ensuring she is up and around and well, I suppose they  find so much going on that this is a minor thing.  Leave it to her to find something bizarre to do and to invoke her obstinate streak.  

Now to the title of the post, today we have a hot humid day here in La Crescent; very unusual.  It is a flashback to the PA humidity that  ravages the summers there and makes me unhappy to be there.  In August 2004  when Mom died it was as humid as ever and I really thought we would perish in her home.  How did we kids of the  60"s grow up without air conditioning in those old two story homes and thrive?  I don't remember being all that uncomfortable as a kid so I suppose we were acclimatized and then we had no idea about  air conditioning.  A fan was rare.  All what we get used to.  I know that my southern friends in La. move very slowly in the humidity if at all.  I think that's where the southern drawl  generates, no fast movement and speech even slows down. 

I dislike heat except when in AZ in winter and I do not like humidity, no not at all.  Here in La Crescent we generally have beautiful summers, seldom humid and 80's, real Chamber of Commerce weather.  I suppose we can take a day of this, tomorrow it will be different.  The weather is ever changing here, day to day.  So , I decided to hose off  the rose bushes and  budding flowers because the predicted rain has not arrived.   The ground has enough water but I know that budding flowers appreciate a sprinkle on a hot windy day  That's something else we rarely do, water flowers or lawns unlike CA where it was necessary else be barren brown.  I also thought it would be  a good way to get some  sun myself.  This escapade lasted about  45 minutes and I had enough, thank you.  Jerry told me so, the sun is so hot here in the north with not a cloud in the sky and no pollution to filter it.   Our rose garden is about to burst into magnificent bloom as as are the peonies out back along the garden fence.  Right now all the salvia and Jacob's Ladder are sporting purple which along with the aliums is attracting humming birds.  Generally the hummers gravitate to the red flowers but since I did not plant the front flower box they seem to be settling for the flavor purple.  Tomorrow I may tackle that.  I so prefer the out doors to the paper work and tedium inside. 

I spent several hours on the phone today notifying various  entities  about Uncle Carl's passing and requesting estate packets, beneficiary forms, etc.  Much to do, like being at work again for the state; this is a different state and I have no staff, only my own  fingers to press the phone or keyboard and recite the litany repeatedly, date of death, estate, etc.     The strangest contact was with the Veteran's Administration about cashing in his WWII Life Insurance policy which he kept all these years.  Actually he has received annual dividends over the years that have exceeded the value of the policy.  Good for him.  After  providing the necessary data to the woman who will  process the claim and mail out the packet with more paperwork for me to do, she advised me to call another number,  the Veterans national call center and report the claim.  I thought that odd and asked her, "you mean I have to call another number and tell them you are sending me information?"  She replied "yes" as though it were the most natural thing in the world and I must be dull witted to question.  Well, consider this is the federal government at it's finest,  slogging away, churning.   I called the 2nd number which entailed a 15 minute hang on the line to talk, as if to say, "how dare you call here, don't you know we are busy?"  I am thankful to use my walk around phone and do other things, not just sit and wait for a human voice.  When the man finally came on the line he told me to call the life insurance number, the same number which had told me to call him. I  told him I had already spoken to them and the process was underway and they directed me to him.  I was nearing  the limit of my tolerance  for exasperation when he finally said, "well if he was receiving no other VA benefits there is nothing to report, she must have thought he was getting other benefits."  So ended that call.  Of all the entities, I have had to contact, the VA gets the prize for wasting time.  I think of the absolute frustrations vets and dependents must endure dealing with them and then I think how fortunate are the members of the local American Legions and VFW's who have access to local veterans services officers as we do here, the ones who facilitate the process and save lots of grief for individuals.  That is worth the membership dues.    

PA  will appreciate this as they grab their stolen share via inheritance tax.  Do I complain about that too much?  Likely so,  I could do without the hassle, the attorney fees and the paperwork.  I am fortunate to have the ability and skills to deal easily with this, many people would be upside down and sideways even attempting. Many would  not  make the progress as quickly as I do.   I have one more stock fund to contact via computer Monday and I must write a  nice letter to his  809th US Army Tank Destroyer reunion group to let them know, most of his WWII buddies are gone, but the widow of one has kept in touch with Carl and has been religious about sending cards to him, signing her self by name and "the one who always could dance a good polka."  I wonder if she had eyes for my handsome old uncle?   And with that I wander away from the keyboard and will find a nice chilled glass and pour some chardonnay. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On the Road Home

We spent overnight here  at the Elkhart RV Park in Elkhart, IN after winding along some back roads of western OH and eastern IN.  We were here last year October 31 on our return trip from PA; the price at this RV park  has increased by $11;we are not surprised as everything is increasing in price despite what the fools who run Social Security say when denying old folks a COLA.  Even our trusty hosts, Ed and Fran at Mt. Top, our home in PA increased their fees by $5 per night, their first increase in many  years;  while Fran was apologetic, I consoled her, "we expect it, price of fuel is driving all prices upward."   There are fewer motor homes but the business is still flourishing as this Elkhart has added about 30 additional spaces for rigs.  We are again parked next to a million dollar rig, a Patriot; the folks are from TX and full timers. 

This morning we looked over the travel logues I keep on our journeys and  realized that regular gas prices are up over $1 per gallon just since October 2010, not even a year ago. And lately peiople are supposed to be happy when it recently decreased ten cents!  Hah!  Today with this coach which uses  diesel, that has also increased in price,  but Jerry is pleased that with the 10 to 11 mpg he gets with this coach we are ahead in what we spend on diesel fuel compared to last year's  gas consumption.  This is a phenomena which he understands and which makes my eyes glaze over.  Whatever, at least we can still afford to travel.

Elkhart has many open spaces but is looks like over 75% capacity.  Mt Top in PA had  many construction workers staying there again while they work in the ' burgh but not as many motor coaches, though a couple from FL were next to us and they are regulars there too.  They are from the area but live in FL, avoiding the PA inheritance tax.  Can't say I blame them as PA is ridiculous with that.

 Had a conversation with my friend who is also my estate attorney about that and while he being a full liberal believes it is right for the government to confiscate funds from estates, I fully disagree.  The money was already taxed and so if the person wanted to leave it to Disneyland that is their money and not the governments.  Rich on the other hand believes it is only fair; fair I say.  Well he says why should someone who didn't work a day in their life  inherit millions?  I say why not, again, the taxes were paid by the deceased and if they saved good for them.  Greed and government greed know no bounds. I tease my friend that I must hire a conservative attorney instead of a liberal.  However because we go way back and I can trust him, this is a game we play with words.  Naturally estate tax is on my mind as I will be administering Uncle Carl's estate and now that I  have experience with the PA tax greed from 2009 when my aunt passed, I will be more diligent in tacking and deducting every penny of expense I can.  I am pleased Uncle Carl designated a gift to his church as that money will put them over the top for the building fund they have underway on expansion.  He is smiling at that, I know as will the Monsignor when he gets the check.  But I digress, this is about RV travels homeward.

Each trip as we near home, I can't wait to get there.  Although we have house sitters who give us peace of mind, I want to be back in my own routine and off the road.  My body misses its workouts.  We will reach home sometime early evening today and along the road we gain an additional hour changing to the central time zone from eastern.   Jerry says to get a steak out of the freezer for tomorrow as he has not had a steak this entire time and his body is suffering withdrawal.  On travel days we eat lightly, a sandwich along the way and last night it was huge salads, more of the fresh asparagus Lowell gave us from his PA garden,  some left over pulled pork for Jerry and some seafood salad.  As Jerry looked at his meal, he shook his head and said, "pitiful."  He is missing meat!  I on the other hand am ok with greens and grazing.  After all we did have burgers on Monday courtesy of friends, the Hemprich's. 

Someday when we stop here in Elkhart we will stay more than a night and go to the RV museum.  Someday we will be other places than back and forth between home and PA.  But in July it will be back to PA to get the estate sale and home clear out done.  I can say I am not looking forward to PA heat and humidity, but it has to be.

I was so thankful for my homeys, my NK cronies who came to the viewing and the funeral and all around are fun good people to be with.  I am heartsick about Pam who is fighting breast cancer, but at least now her friends know as she has shared and they can support her as much as she will allow.  Patti, another friend has a multitude of health problems too but keeps on moving onward.  That's how we New Ken kids of the 60"'s are--get over it and get on with it.  No pity parties entertained.

Route home looks like  Hwy 20 to 94/80 then to 39, then 90 to the La Crescent turnoff.  Six hours driving time.