Saturday, June 20, 2015

PA trip in June

One evening sky at Mt Top
Hill incline to Mt Top
As the final days of our two weeks here back home in PA approach departure day, I ponder when is the best weather to visit.  No matter when we are here we get rain and here atop the hills at Mt Top RV that means puddles, lots of puddles and PA like potholes in the  drive around.  The Mix family who bought this place last year, seem to have a good thing going, but could use some advice on how to run an RV spot.  Still it is the only game around and we are glad to have the spot to park.  I have channeled or awakened  my long latent mt.goat persona on the hills I  climb up and down each morning on my  4 to 5 mile walks.  I can feel the difference over two weeks in my stamina and speed, as well as my glutes and calves. Hills do wonders for workout intensity. I have the Mt Top final incline down to 2 minutes which is darned good for the road. These things I know from my Samsung Gear Git.  Still I prefer my zumba classes back home for work outs.  Here it's just me and the birds singing loudly as I am walking along up and down hills.  I have seen my first lightning bugs of 2015 right out the bedroom window in the tall grass and pines and the brilliant display was a sight to enjoy. That was on the dry days, and the humidity that follows the rains in Western PA.  

This trip we had the sad but not fully unexpected death of one of my classmates who had been ill with cancer and congestive heart failure for some time.  We had almost a mini class reunion yesterday at the funeral home.  So goes life, or so it ends, he was 70 and as another friend comment"drew the short straw."
PA gals back seated ,Carlie; front seated Pam,
back standing Dayna, front standing me
We are the Golden Girls of Ken Hi
 It is always a good time when we gals gather together and talk like there's no tomorrow, it's like we never lost time or space and have always been together.  Jerry is a token guy who sits and says little, observes, drinks his beer.  The women are all single so no male companions to talk with him. There were others at other gatherings, but I just did not take photos other than fast FB shots.  We had some nice visits with relatives and my long lost cousins.  Each gathering involves food, sigh.  Despite the fun and talk, I think this is my last long stay here, I find myself bored, restless and tired of the traffic, the awful roads and streets, the humidity when the rain stops and the over all dismal slumlike shabbiness of the town where I grew up, back when it was the good old days of the early 60's and late 50's, when the mills and Alcoa flourished, the town had a population of 20,000 some and crime was unknown. Back when it was Little Chicago and the mafiosos ran things, the good old days of safety. Today it's drug low life infested.  Even the newer Pittsburgh Mills Mall has more closed stores than open, and offers little except chain restaurants and movies.  Macy's there is unlike any other in the country, bargain basement old bargain clothing.  JCPenney's is almost a step up from Macy;s.  People including my old home of New Kensington have nowhere to shop, Walmart and K mart?  That's it.  So very devastating and sad, yet pot new to me. No wonder they are devoted to online shopping Amazon and QVC.  And this time I use the experience as a lesson in gratitude for the lovely clean safe area of MN where we live.  I vow to never again complain about our Valley View Mall and stores, they are 1000% above this.  I tell my friends it is their turn to come visit me, we have the extra bedrooms.  They need to make a journey to God's country to experience better living.  

Family memorial granite bench at Greenwood.  
One of my purposes this trip was to see the commemorative family granite bench I bought as the memorial at Greenwood cemetery, where I go to see my graves.  There are no headstones, all flat brass markers for ease of mowing the huge cemetery.  Sale of granite memorial benches is a new addition and I jumped at the chance.  I am so glad I bought this as a marker commemorating my ancestry, one side  is engraved Konesky  the name which my late uncle shortened from Kochanowski in becoming more American.  My grandfather thought that "nuts,"  He could not understand how educated people couldn't just spell their name right.  Here he was an old coal miner who stole a cow to get passage money to come to America and he could sign his name, what was wrong with them?   It sits alongside the road and looks over the hill.  I think they would have liked it.  Whoever sits there will notice the names and perhaps stroll by the gravesites.  
 paczki,  fresh tomatoes and straw
berries from farmers mkt
Today was one of several outstanding local farmer's markets, something I miss in MN.  Here the markets are abundant with cheap buys farmer direct with produce, fruits, as well as every type of ethnic food the valley offers.  At home in MN the farmers markets are nearly the same price as the stores and sometimes not as good quality. Here the farmers are happy to sell direct and share the lower cost with consumers.  Today;s reward was fresh picked juicy strawberries, small but vine ripe tomatoes, lovely kale and baked goods. I'd have bought more ethnic foods but I had the misfortune of  a woman who seemed to be ahead of me at each vendor and who took forever to make her purchases as she examined and talked.  I had my impatience going so passed the Syrian food  vendor when she was there. My special treat the polish donuts of my childhood, just like my grandma used to make, paczki, indescribable fried donuts, nothing like a real one.  But as I told the baker every year I get one and enjoy it,  He said," buy a dozen and freeze them", nah they wouldn't be the same then and besides I  would forget about them and they would go to waste.   Besides I make one last for  2 or 3 days, very filling.  Well thanks to the hill climbing I can eat just about anything I want and not gain weight but I am always aware and with less capacity until I am full, it;s not a challenge.  

This is my erratic blog posting, much more on FB.  This is my reminder too why I will be unlikely to journey to PA for another year and not for as long a time.  It's time to count my blessings for not staying here my whole life.  I would have known nothing different and would not have become who I am today.  There is a reason for everything though we seldom know it at the time and though we may continue to wonder why this side of the grass.  Life goes on and forward and we flow with it or we are swept under and away, twisted and turned and not ever content or satisfied with our new challenges and what we have overcome.  Huh?  Where'd that come from?  One last photo, PA puddles, seems to fit this last paragraph...
Some puddles after the PA rains, Mt Top RV,
 my inner Patty had to splash

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23, 2015 and Memorial Weekend

Steve two months old
50 years ago this morning Steve was born, a small baby they said at 6 lbs, 6 ounces, but it was a difficult birth for me.  I still recall the agony and have never understood those women who claim giving birth is such a  wonderful experience. I remember the old nurse at McClellan hospital yelling at me to shut up that she'd had six babies and it didn't hurt that much.  I said, "good for you, bitch"  or something like that.   I think back to the dreams I had then and settle into the moments of today, this Memorial Day Weekend.  50 years later,  and the multitudes of life events.  Steve left this earth December 2008 and our lives took a steep turn there, it was and remains painful.  One wonders why some of us are given heavy burdens and surely we will never know all the answers on this side of the universe.  

So Memorial Day weekend when we  decorate graves here for relatives who have passed on and we pause to remember, it  stirs deeper.  His birthday was not often over Memorial Day weekend as it is this year.  We  remember and always will and wonder. We remember those long Memorial weekend camping trips to Stumpy Meadows in Georgetown, California with  many friends to the group campsite that we reserved annually.  Many of those friends have also ended their earthly journey.   

1966, Jinx, Baba, Mom
So many relatives and friends  have gone on and it is expected  to lose the older generation, my grandparents,  Mom, Aunt  Jinx, Uncle Carl, Aunt Marge, Uncle John, Barney, Florence (MIL), Bob Wiley, Phil Malnick, and more.  I remember my father, whom I never knew, a WWII pilot gone with his crew June 1944, I would be born in November.  Life would have been different I know if he had lived. As we remember Steve, we consider he is at peace.  I have accepted long ago but that does not mean I no longer wonder. So over this Memorial
Day, along with flowers to the graves and observance of  military taps played at the cemetery, why remains the unanswered question.  No answer it just is and so it will be for us to remember always. 

I found this mournful yet fitting verse online, no author was cited......I know we did our best and as a friend said, Steve was a happy little boy.     
Steve 1974 Van Damme State Park

  I will lend you, for a little time,
A child of mine, He said.
For you to love there while he lives,
And mourn for when he's dead.
It may be six or seven years,
Or twenty-two or three.
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him  for Me?
He'll bring charms to gladden you,
And should his stay be brief.
You'll have his lovely memories,
As solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there,

I want this child to learn. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Techie gadgets and more access to my mind

Back when I created this blog I never thought I would run out of things to say or write here, but  changes happen and as quickly as technology changes sooner or later the change flows to our habits.  If we are wise and want to keep up. we go with the flow.  If we want to cling to old times, ways, habits and not learn we dig in our heels and proceed in our old familiar rut and we become as obsolete as the black and white tv's of yore.  The changes remind me of my late mother in law who  was always behind the times, having stalled somewhere in the early 1950's and refusing to learn more or expand her horizons.  She muddled through the rest of her life up to 96 years  in a muddle of being out of touch, backwards, left behind, bewildered.    

Old habits like this blog do not give up easily and from time to time, the blog specter haunts me, as a thought crosses my mind, "now that might be worth blogging."  It was once an easy way to communicate and ponder or to document my ponderings. Not so today as I have changed tactics to accommodate these mental flashes in the moment.  It is easier to  snap the  photo with my smart phone and share on Facebook in the moment and are we not supposed to practice being in the moment?    I don't have to sit down at  the keyboard and log in to the blog, type and edit and ponder, all I do is snap, click, share the photo and the thoughts and  into cyberspace, sharing with many more than ever frequent the blog.  

 After my March 31 health scare, I became even more of a rabid fitness freak and decided one of the monitors for activity would be my next techie purchase.  So it happened that I have acquired  my fitness watch monitor, also by Samsung,  my Gearfit.  My  simple post onto Facebook asking for recommendations about a month ago gave me rapid responses that most of my friends were using the Fit Bit wrist monitors.  Several gals at zumba use that and yet wear a watch besides.  That very day as I would head off to purchase my new  gadget, Fit bit issued a massive recall on their  wrist monitors, some had burns from the  applications.  Again several Facebook friends alerted me about the recall and I had read that morning's news from my Wall St Journal, also on my smartphone, that Fitbit was recalling these particular devices.  Either there was a sensitivity to the  nickel in the stainless steel or some  claimed they had a radiation type burn from wearing their  wristbands. 

 Nevertheless I was sure as I drove to Sam's and Best Buy that I would buy the Fitbit  and one that would sync to my smartphone where I already had a Health app to monitor steps, track health indicators, etc.  I  do not always carry the phone with me and really a wristband would be so much handier.  Sam'sClub was my first stop where there were several options and I was still favoring the Fit bit but decided to drive over to Best Buy where even more  varieties awaited.  Yes the Fitbit would sync with both my PC and my smartphone android.  There were so many options but do I really need to check my Facebook notifications and email on my wrist?  Probably not, yet I saw no sense in wearing a wristband and watch so I would get that combination and of course wanted the heart monitor and the various  fitness applications.  Something about the fitbit besides the black strap was not attractive, the watch option was bulky looking and the smaller one would be difficult to read without cheater glasses.  Then I  saw the Samsung Gear Fit and decided it was for me, I am  quite happy with my Samsung Galaxy phone and have been impressed with quality of our Samsung TV's.  The Samsung display is much more attractive,  a touch screen and I can change the wallpaper to match my outfits.  All it lacks is some bling on the plain black wristband, but it also is small enough to adapt to my wrist and does not look bulky nor require reading glasses.  

I have had it now for almost a month and really like it, in fact wear it all the time, addictively.  It can even monitor my sleep patterns but I have decided I am not comfortable wearing it to bed.  I already know I am an active sleeper, I travel in my sleep as well as getting up and down several times a night for bathroom calls. I check my progress and find most days I  rack up over 11 or 12 thousand steps where my goal was 10 thousand. It does prove that one burns way fewer calories than expected and that is why many who claim to be exercising are puzzled when their weight stays the same.  We really need to work our bodies hard for long periods of time to burn up calories, for example 3021 steps or 1.3 miles only consumes 83 calories for my body.  Proof that both food restriction and exercise are needed to maintain a healthy weight.  I congratulate my self on my physical over achievement.  The Fitgear also gets my text messages which is handy and runs 3 to 4 days without needing plugged in to recharge.  And so another techie gadget has become a part of me and taught me more applications and fitness awareness.  By the way, the cardiologist  gave me a good to go and keep it up on Thursday and said to come back after a year.  


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Not the same today

Blooms at FL Grande RV in Webster
When I created this blog way back then, to report on our retirement travels and stay in touch with family and friends, I never thought it would become passe so soon. Technology and social media have certainly changed my intentions and techniques as life too has, leaving huge gaps in  our family with the so few remaining.  It is an entirely other story about friends coming and going along the way, some as family dying and leaving us behind and others reconnecting after years, or coming and going fulfilling that old poem about people in our life for a reason or a season. As I have written before one changes with the times or is left behind in the dust, aging, old school and out of touch. Today, I find it so much easier with smart phone to post directly to Facebook where most of my friends hang out where in an instant no matter where we are in the world or country, we share thoughts, photos and commentary whether on travels or around home. I have neglected this blog evidenced by lack of postings on our current snowbird adventure that started December 2014, although I post to Facebook daily sometimes  multiple times a day. Where I once fancied sitting and writing here, it hasn't happened, technology has changed my intentions.  Multiple times I have thought, oh I need to blog this, but then by the time we return to our 2nd home on wheels, this motor coach, I have lost interest in getting online on the laptop and sometimes we just do not have internet access unlike our smart phones and tablet which are hotspots themselves. So it goes and so the photos do not show up here.  I could try directly posting from smartphone or tablet, but that is cumbersome.

One of the lakes here at Indian Forest RV
St Augustine, FL
Avoiding winter at our  home where it has not been nearly as vicious as in New England, we have only put 2113 miles on the coach this trip, because we have stayed put weeks at a time in spots  and explored areas. The entire country must be here in Florida this year because often RV Resorts are booked solid.  How different from  two years ago when FL was begging for travelers.  One cannot convince me that the economy is bad when I daily see the likes of us travelers here and the money we are spending which is why they welcome snowbirds, the revenue restores their economy.   

Although I am ready to go home, because I do miss my house and routine, we will remain south and await a decent break in the weather on the road home. We are currently in St. Augustine, FL watching the weather through the mid of the country and  trying to figure how long this endless winter can continue while rejoicing we are not in Boston, New England or the other polar northern regions. I have enjoyed the sunshine and even the cooler days or nights at the 40 degrees remind me that could be lots worse, could be in the frigid part of the country.   We have seen much and likely found an area in central east coast  FL for future winters that is unless next year we choose to go over to Texas where we have yet to venture snow birding.  We shall see.  One of the RV resorts cautioned me to book no later than August to assure a spot next year, similar to other traveling where one has to book a year in advance.  

For the next several days we will explore all the activities and sights of St. Augustine.  One big disappointment has been the lack of visibility and access to FL beaches on the east Atlantic coast where hotels, condos and the like occupy the space and block views, giving the impression that photo's FL beaches are a myth.  

Jerry at entrance Kennedy
Space Center
One of our favorite places has been the Kennedy Space Center where we spent two days and absorbed ourselves in the engineering and science of the skies. It is where we wondered if this country will again have leaders who seek to inspire us to achieve ala JFK.  Such a contrast from then to today when achievement is ridiculed, when striving is looked down upon, denigrated, labeled "not fair."  No that is the current excuse for leaders, not for me.  I am thankful I grew up in when achievement was the goal, when it was very different. 

Missile garden at Kennedy
My very favorite exhibit at Kennedy is the Atlantis shuttle, the story of its 12 year development, a hearkening to aspiring. Her amazing inflammable tiles resemble an old tarapunto quilt.   The NASA legacy includes the motto, "Failure is not an Option."  Hopefully that 1958 motto resonates today with  some and we can restore that sense of looking ahead instead of settling and just getting by.  Kennedy attracts international tourists; we heard so many different languages while there. 
Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center

Monday, January 12, 2015

Remiss posting

Pensicola RV Park
We have been at the Pensicola RV Park since January 2, working our way down the state to Tampa.  What a delightful RV park we have discovered thanks to Good Sam, very clean, quiet, spacious and level spaces, wonderful areas to walk within the area. Much improved from our stay at Bay Hideaway RV Park in Bay St Louis, MS a place where we stayed in 2013 but a place that has gone to the dogs since then.  Here dog owners are in control of their animals and are not leaving dog  droppings all over, opposite at Bay MS.  Here folks are friendly and take pride in their surroundings, a contrast to MS where the place has become junky, decrepit as what appears to be a lower level of snowbirds, most decidedly older and feebler have taken over.  I sound snobbish, but just because a person has a camping trailer to  set up for the winter, well, that does not excuse clutter and junk. It will be the last time we stay there, besides their prices are not worth the area.  Maybe that's the way those people live, but we do not and I do not want to be in such surroundings.  If that's snobbish, then I am.  Take pride, clean up after yourself, and  pick up after your dogs.  Sheesh nearly everyone there had an animal or two and  let them run and dump on the grassy areas. I wonder how their RV's must smell with one or two wet dogs from the rain that happens in winter along the Gulf Shores.    I love animals but do not have any at this time of our lives with traveling so I do not want to see dog poop nor to be accosted with another's pet.  Here in Pensacola the owners set the tone and  expectations of behavior, they are friendly, helpful but insist on cleanliness.  Suffice that it was a good thing we were unable to remain in MS longer because sites were filled, good riddance. If we chose to stop in Bay St Louis in the future we will stay at the casino RV sites which are concrete and cleaner.  Here it is less expensive, a better buy for the buck, far better accommodations and a new area to explore.  The proverbial "better ahead" when plans are not actualized.  It was nice to see our friends from North Carolina in MS though.  

Pensacola RV Park trails and walking path
We have been so routinely busy that I have not had time to blog.  The mornings are  consumed with my walks followed by yoga stretches back at the coach, I sure do miss my zumba classes though. I hit a bit of a slump when it was colder than what I wanted, the winter weather that swept down the country from the arctic reached these shores too making outside unpleasant.  I cannot believe it after subzero MN temps that the 30's would dissuade me.  Fortunately I packed plenty of winter wear, I know the south can be darned cold.  My packable down jacket has had plenty of use as have my fleece lined tights and riding high boots.      

I have had bouts of "I want to go home and why are we doing this...."  This is nothing new because once I am away from my comfy home and routine for a few weeks I am done.  I feel that way in this motor home, where life is lived on a reduced scale, things have to be kept tidy or I would burst, laundry is done in small batches in our coach washer dryer combo or in the case of sheets, walked to the RV laundromat, if it is cold and I am kind of stuck, to me it is boring to sit and I do not do so for any long time. Jerry on the other hand can sit back in his recliner and is perfectly content, watching the boob tube.  Not me.   Blah, I think of all I could be doing at home including all the mail that is piling up.  A friend forwarded some to us but of course I wonder what more sits?  Once we get to our destination in Tampa I will ask her to send another batch.  

We have enjoyed the shore, the Naval Air Museum, the very old forts such as Ft. Barrancas founded by the early Spanish settlers in the 1600's and  the Pensacola lighthouse, where we climbed 177 steps up to the top, 150 feet to overlook the gulf.
Yes we did climb all the way
up to the top of the lighthouse behind me
 I have posted numerous photos to Facebook but have not yet transferred those to this laptop.  After looking around at the area, we would never want to live in this area of Florida.  There are many ghetto like areas and some of the population is questionable.  Not sure if this is a result of the military left behinds or what but the hills of Appalachia have a higher more appealing culture than some of what we have seen here.  The area and neighborhood around this RV Park which is off I 10, are decent but so many other areas of Pensacola are not.  We ventured off to a highly advertised flea market one day, but when I saw the people slumped around I said, "dive on by."  I got the impression there were far more fleas there than anything desirable.     

Hearty meatball soup with spinach & canneli beans
On the plus side, I have found a wonderful grocery store, Publix Market where they offer menu suggestions along with samples of the suggested dishes.  In addition right alongside the sample counter they have all the fixings for the entire meal for purchase.  This makes it most convenient for us in the coach.  I have adapted a  European lifestyle of going to the grocery store almost daily & purchasing just what we need for the day's meals, fresh food daily.  I have purchased fresh shrimp right off the boat, delivered to the door or our coach.  The market had wonderful small scallops and the teriyaki sauce to sir fy them for another meal.  Yesterday was a wonderful Hearty meatball with spinach soup that Publix sampled and provided recipe and all ingredients for purchase, it was delicious. Fresh bread and fruits daily.  This takes time but being snowbirds what else is there to do?  Yes we eat out some, but truthfully I do prefer my own cooking, and the quiet of our own place and well now I know I am older, I like my own cooking and healthier choices.

Tomorrow we go another 300 some miles to Lake City for  two nights before we drive southward to Tampa, the Fleetwood RV rally and warmer  temperatures.  Hope to keep my sandals and shorts ready to wear.  And I will try to post more, I get ideas but don't get the laptop set up and write.  Perhaps I should hook my blog up to my Google talk, hmm, suggestion?