Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Has He Got A Ticket To Ride?

This little guy came home with us from the grocery store the other day.

If you know what it is, please share.

Update:  Alan, with Swannee Refugee identified this little guy as a Chariesterus Antennatus, also known as a squash bug. Thanks Alan!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Best Worst Vacation Ever - The Final Chapter

Our Inaugural Camping Trip had become pretty dangerous.  Days 1, 2, and 3 almost did us in.  Please forgive me for the lack of pictures, but at this point we were just trying to survive.  Pictures just weren't really important at that point.

We woke up, poured what little water was left between the three of us and waited.  10 o'clock became 11 o'clock became noon.  Feeling like it was Ground Hog's Day, we realized the Dealership escort wasn't coming.

RetroMan said we were all just going to have to die before he went to Mr. PMOC's house again.

He decided he would walk to the nearest town, which was about 7 miles away.  At that point it was at least 92 and heading for 96.  My husband, God love him, thinks he's still 20.  I told him that as dehydrated as he was, and as old as he was, he was likely to have a stroke walking in that heat.  Of course that just made him more stubborn.

So be it, he said.

He decided to ride the Yammahopper as long as it would take him, and then start walking.  He would take my cell phone, since it had reception in that little town, and call the Dealership as soon as he saw bars.

He took off around 12:30.  Me and Snappin' Sammie just sat under the Oak tree and waited, and worried that the Love of My Life might be stroking out as I died of dehydration in the middle of nowhere.  At least he would be found.  No one knew where Sammie and I were.  We'd be found years later.  But first by coyotes.

Around 2:00, a truck came into the clearing.  It was the Dealership escort.  Later we would find out that he kept telling everyone he was supposed to pick us up, but they told him to wait because we would call.  Now that's funny.

He asked where my husband was.  I told him "just look on Rt. 1234 for someone dead on the side of the road, because he left an hour and a half ago to try and make it to a phone with reception to call you."  I gave him the cell phone number, and he took off. 

Sammie and I were getting hotter.  And drier.  About 4 o'clock things were getting a little desperate, and I was trying to think about Plan Z, when all of a sudden I thought I heard a noise.  

A bright blue car turned the corner of the clearing and I just stared, praying that my husband was in there.

The driver side door opened and he shouted "Hi Hun!  Get in this car and get some AC!" 

And then I knew everything was going to be ok.

He had two cold Gatorades and some water for Sammie.  I swear I saw Sammie smile.

We all sat in the car enjoying the air conditioning, and he told me his story:

The Yamahopper took me 3 miles down 1234 and then ran out of gas.  I left it laying on the side of the road behind a bush, and then started walking.  About a mile outside of town, about the time I was thinking that walking had been a really bad idea, a car pulled off the road just ahead of me.  I thought it was the Dealership escort and hurried towards it.  But a girl looked out of the drivers window, said 'you're not Jimmy', and drove off!  I couldn't believe it!

I was at the edge of town, when I heard the phone ring.  It was the dealership guy.  He told me to wait for him.  He'd be right there.

He picked me up, and we went to the Dealership.  The Service Manager said he was sorry, but when they went to replace the gasket, there was too much sludge in the engine, and they needed $4700 to take the engine apart and clean it.

I'm not kidding.  They were holding our truck hostage for $4700.

I told him thanks, just put the gasket on and I'll take my chances.  Sludge won't hurt an engine.  The Service Manager said he couldn't do that, so I asked to see the General Manager.  The Service Manager said I couldn't see the General Manager, and at that point I got mad.  I told him I used to be a Service Manager too, and I know how it works.  Go get the General Manager immediately.

The General Manager came down and asked the Service Manager what was wrong.  At this point a small crowd had assembled, and customers were watching.  The Service Manager stuck his hand in the sludge and scraped a handful to show the General Manager.  The General Manager looked at me and said, I'm sorry, the engine has to be cleaned.

My husband is a pretty benign guy.  And a man of few words.  But when he gets angry, he speaks in a very slow, low, very loud voice, and attracts a lot of attention.  He's scarey.  There's electricity around his entire body.  I wish I had been there.

I told the General Manager that he was right.  The engine was going to blow now that the Service Manager stuck his hand in the sludge.  There was nothing wrong with the truck until he stuck his hand in there.

The GM and the Service Manager went off and talked for a few minutes.  They came back and told me if I signed some papers absolving them of any responsibility, they would clean the engine for free, and the truck would be ready in the morning.  In the meantime, they would get me a rental car at cost.

I signed the papers, talked to the mechanic to make sure he knew how to clean the engine properly, got the car and came here.

At that point RetroMan said he was glad we were staying only one more night.

I told him we'd be getting a divorce if I spent one more night there.  

He's like a Marine.

Or a lunatic.

We decided to go home, and then I'd following him back with the van in the morning.

But first, we had to go retrieve the Yammahopper.  We went to town, bought a gas can, filled it with gas, and found the Yammahopper.  We decided to return on a longer back road, because the moped wasn't street legal, and we'd be less likely to be caught on that back road.  So I followed RetroMan, and we slowly made our way 9 miles to Tree Ring.

After 3 miles, the Yammahopper died.

So, going 8 miles an hour, RetroMan held onto the car door, while I towed him 6 miles on a dusty road in the middle of nowhere back to camp.

We finally got back to our City house around midnight, roughly 84 hours since we started out.  We were never so glad to have a shower.  We got the truck the next day without incident.

We haven't been camping since.   

It was such a great trip and horrible at the same time.

In the end, it all came down to this

It's the overdrive button, which is what you're supposed to push when you are towing.  If you don't push it, pressure can build in the engine - enough to blow a gasket.

If we had only known.

But if we had pushed it, we wouldn't have
  • Known there was sludge in the truck and had it cleaned
  • Known the Yammahopper always dies after 3 miles
  • Switched cell phone companies so we always have reception at Tree Ring
  • Met our neighbor
  • Known how wonderful a shower feels after 4 days in 96+ heat
  • Figured out you don't really need a Potty Tent when you go camping
  • Known to camp with multiple rolls of toilet paper, lots of cash, a can of gas 
  • Known what kind of photography City Girl was interested in
RetroMan and I were talking about this camping trip the other day, and we realized that some of the details were getting murky.  Since this blog was named after this camping trip, I thought I would write everything down before we forgot all the details.  

I hope you enjoyed the story and never go camping as unprepared as we were.

Day 1

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Best Worst Vacation Ever - Day 3

Friday morning was just as beautiful as the first and second days of our Inaugural Camping Trip.  The skies were that beautiful blue I've only seen in Florida. 

We didn't have any more coffee, but we had one jug of water and a few burgers left over from the day before.  At this point, we were a little smelly - it had been two days since our last shower, and it was started getting really, really hot.  Unbeknownst to us, a record-breaking heat wave had begun the day we started our camping trip.  We were used to the heat, but it was really getting oppressive.

During our camping preparations, RetroMan had made this really cool shower thingy.  It just required electricity, which required the generator, which had hardly any gas because we thought it was safer to transport it that way, which we hadn't had a chance to get gas for, because our truck was on the verge of a total break down.

But we knew we'd be back in shape soon, as the Dealership escort would be there any minute, and we'd get on with our plans.  

10 o'clock came and went.  So did 11 and 12.  At 1 o'clock we decided the escort had forgotten about us or forgotten where we lived.  Either that, or the Dealership fixed the truck, sold it, and left us for dead.  We realized there was only one person on earth that knew exactly where we were, and that was the Dealership escort.

As it happened, our nearest neighbor was a mile away.  We discussed RetroMan going there to call the Dealership since my cell phone was useless.  We had never met our neighbor, but we knew he was a prominent member of the Community.   For the sake of this story and his privacy, we'll call him Mr. PMOC. 

Though we were embarrassed by our circumstances, we decided we needed some help, and got the Yammahopper ready.  We figured it was nearly out of gas after our fun the day before.  The little gas we had was in the generator, so RetroMan got a plastic cup, tilted the generator, and filled it 1/2 way.  

On the way to the Yammahopper, the cup literally disintegrated in his hands.  Apparently plastic and gas don't mix.

Note to self:  Make sure you bring a full can of gas if you are going to rely on it to make everything at Camp work.

The only thing we had left to use was the empty bottle of Champagne we'd bought to celebrate our first night of camping.  Very carefully, RetroMan poured what was left of the gas in the generator into the tiny bottle opening.  This was no small feat, as the generator was very heavy and the bottle opening was very small.

He put it in the Yammahopper and was off.

About an hour later, he returned and told me this story.

The moped made it to their house and I parked on the side.  I went up the side steps to the porch, around to the front door and saw that the front steps were blocked off.  Worried that they had just poured concrete on the porch or something, I jumped off and went around the back.  I could see a woman working through the window.  I shouted and waved my arms to get her attention.  She looked at me and then went right on working.  So I started whistling.

At that point, the back door slowly opened and a man stepped out, presumably Mr. PMOC.  I introduced myself and explained our situation, which, even to me sounded too bizarre to be true.  Mr. PMOC asked me for the Dealership phone number and dialed it on his cell phone, which promptly died.  He yelled to his teenage son to go get a land line, redialed the number, and handed me the phone.  This entire time he didn't smile or say a word, though he did offer to take me to the Dealership.  I spoke with a receptionist, who said the truck wasn't ready yet - they needed one more day, and they would pick me up in the morning.

At that point, a little wiener dog ran at me from inside the house, wagging its tail, the only one that was glad to see me.  I petted her, got back on the Yammahopper, and told Mr. PMOC  I was worried the dog would follow me back to our property.  Don't worry, he said, the dog always stops at the end of the driveway.

Sure enough, that dog got to the end of the driveway and kept on coming with me, its tongue hanging out and its little belly almost draggin' on the ground.  I was ready to turn around to head back, but thankfully the teenager appeared on his ATV, scooped the little thing up in his hands, and headed back home.

I can only imagine what Mr. PMOC must have thought talking to a man who hadn't showered or shaved in two days arriving on a 1970 Yammahopper claiming that his cell phone had no reception and that he needed to use Mr PMOC's phone to call a car dealership that was fixing his car but had forgotten to pick him up.

Yeah right.  

So let's recap.  

We have:
  • No cell phone reception
  • No vehicle
  • A Yammahopper with hardly any gas
  • A loaf of bread and some ketchup
  • No coffee
  • A headache because we haven't had any coffee 
  • A potty
  • One disgusting roll of toilet paper
  • No Potty Tent 
  • 1/2 jug of water
  • No shower in two days
  • The only person who knows where we are is at a car dealership
  • The only neighbor we know thinks we're homeless and looking for something to steal
Well that was just peachy.  I think it was at this point that even our fun meter was pegged.

It was hotter than Hell, and we just sat there looking at each other, and waited for  morning to come.

Please return for Day 4 of The Best Worst Vacation Ever.

Day 1
We Lived To Tell About It 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Best Worst Vacation Ever - Day 2

Thursday morning, the day after the rocky start to our Inaugural Camping Trip, we woke up to a beautiful, sunny day.  Out in the country in June, it actually gets cool enough at night to need covers.  This was a welcome treat, since we slept buck at the City House to save money on air conditioning bills.

We split what was left of the day old coffee and made a plan.

We had expensive things at the camp site like a 40 year old camper, a shot gun, and a generator, and I knew bubkus about truck engines.  We decided that I would stay on lookout at the site with Snappin Sam, and RetroMan would take the truck to the Dealership about 20 miles away.  He figured the truck needed a new gasket, which should take just a few hours to replace.  Off he went about 10:00.

I sat myself and Sammie underneath the giant oak tree next to the camper, which was pretty much the only shade tree nearby.  I ate a breakfast bar, and started drinking the second of three jugs of water we brought.  It had started getting pretty warm.

First, I thought about emergencies.  Even though I had Sammie, if we encountered a pack of Coyotes, I'd need something more to defend us.  I checked the functionality of the knife tucked in my belt, mentally went over RetroMan's instructions for using the shot gun hidden under one of the mattresses, and then checked my phone to see how many bars I had.  

None.  Ironically, it said 'SOS'.

Well this was no surprise, as I had the same trouble on other trips to Tree Ring.  But the week before, my co-worker Dave told me that when he went on vacation to Peru he had the same problem and told me how to fix it.  All I had to do was go into Options, and then Networks, and pick a different service provider.  He had paid roaming charges, but was able to call his parents from a different Continent in the middle of nowhere.

I did as he described.  Sure enough there was another cell company listed.  I picked it, and it said
Emergency Calls Only
Ok, so what the Hell does that mean?  And how in the world would I describe where our lot was within 6000 acres of forest?  And what denotes an emergency?  I'm pretty sure 'woman with crutch and snappy dog run out of water' wasn't one of them, nor would 'I think my husband lost his way to the Dealership, or is broken down by the side of the road somewhere.  Can you go find him?'  I'd be damned if I would be the butt of a country joke, or profiled in the local paper where the news was pretty slow.

Note to self:  Change cell phone companies, and never trust Dave again.

Here I was in the United States of America, and I had less cell phone service than someone in Peru who lived 10 miles by boat from the nearest road.

Trying to calm down, I checked out City Girl's camera.  It was a Canon EOS we gave her last Christmas when she wanted to be a professional photographer.  I got to know the camera, and checked out the 400+ pictures CityGirl had taken.

Note to self:  Talk with City Girl about appropriate poses.

Around 2:00 I started to get worried.  RetroMan wasn't back yet, and Sammie and I had just about finished the second jug of water.  I was starting to get hungry.  There were no more breakfast bars.

At 3:00, I heard a car in the distance.  A truck slowly pulled into our clearing and I didn't know what to do.  I couldn't see inside the windows because of the tinting, so I didn't wave or even smile, but I was hoping against hope that my husband was in there, and I wouldn't have to use my knife.  

"Hi Hun!", he said with a big smile as he got out of the truck.  I let out my breath and took my hand off the knife.  RetroMan gave 20 bucks to the guy that dropped him off who said he'd be back around 10 o'clock tomorrow and then took off.

His escort had been kind enough to take him to a bank to get some cash - we'd meant to do that on the way, remember - and then to McDonalds to grab some food.   So we sat under the tiny remaining shade of the oak tree and ate our burgers, trying to figure out what to do with what was left of the day.

Note to self:  Always bring cash.  You never know when you'll need it, or who you'll have to pay because of your stupidity.

RetroMan decided to cut down some trees with our new chain saw.  After cutting down three trees, it was official - we were now Tree Farmers.

Then we decided to take some turns on the 1970 Yamahopper we brought, which is illegal in the City.

Night fell, the toilet paper had dried out, and life was good again.  

Please return for Day 3 of The Best Worst Vacation Ever.

Day 1
We Lived To Tell About It

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Best Worst Vacation Ever - Day 1

"If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there", Captain Ron
Last June RetroMan and I decided to go on our Inaugural Camping Trip during what turned out to be the first week of a record-breaking heat wave.  We decided to go on this trip without City Girl, so that when she deigned to come with us, we'd have all the kinks worked out.   

She was spending the week at a different camp that had adult supervision.

We had spent a couple hundred dollars and a few weeks in preparation, but we were ready.  We packed up the camper that hadn't been used in 10 years with just about everything one would need - toilet paper, a new porta potty, a generator for the air conditioner, a box of breakfast bars, matches, etc.   We didn't need much, since we were only going for a few days.  We'd get cash and gas for the generator on the way.

We got our coffee and were off.

About 40 miles outside of Town - DING, DING, DING, DING. We looked at the dash.  No warning lights.  Well that was weird.  We stared at the dash for 5 minutes.  Then looked at each other and shrugged.  It must have been nothing.  DING, DING, DING, DING. We looked at the dash again.  Nothing.  This went on a few more times.  It was just starting to get retarded, and then we saw the NO OIL PRESSURE light.  The master of understatement said, "That's not good".

We took the next exit and stopped at the Flyin J Truck Stop.  Thank God for the Flyin J. RetroMan checked the oil AND THERE WASN'T ANY! He checked that dip stick twice.  He got 5 quarts of oil and unbelievably the truck drank it all.   Since we only owned the truck two months, we thought maybe we bought it that way.

Note to self:  Don't buy used vehicles.  But if you do, make sure they have oil.

We decided to keep going, and fortunately there was no more
DINGing.  We got off the highway at our exit heaving a sigh of relief, and I'm not kidding, there went the DING, DING, DING, DING.  Fortunately we were near the last gas station before the middle of nowhere.  Sure enough, there was NO OIL.  We got 5 more quarts of oil, and the truck took 4.  In one hour, we had just put 9 quarts of oil in the truck and had 1 to spare.  For the next 30 minutes, we waited for the DINGing, but all was quiet on the Western Front.  Numerous stops to check the oil showed that the leak had stopped. 

Since it looked like the worst was over, we decided to head to Tree Ring.  As we came to the clearing where we decided to set up camp, there was our friend Ron, mowing with his tractor.  As we talked, some clouds started gathering.  He said "Don't worry, it hasn't rained here in weeks".  Before he finished the word 'weeks', we heard thunder in the distance.

After Ron left, RetroMan popped up the Camper and then put up the Potty Room.

Ok, so it was more like a mini garage with a bathroom.

Sure enough it started raining.  But we were happy.  We made it!  The wind started picking up, and I stood to hold the sides of the pop up from blowing in.  "This is going to be the best trip ever!" I yelled over my shoulder.  I couldn't hold all of the sides at once, so RetroMan had to help, and for 45 minutes it poured.  As we held up the sides of the camper, we talked and laughed until the rain stopped.   

Then we threw the door open to go outside.

Good Lord the Potty Tent was gone!

We looked around, and 100 yards into the Forest, we saw the Tent.  RetroMan went to get it.

It was totally destroyed.

So was the only roll of toilet paper.

There was nothing left to do but break the Potty Tent into pieces, and play.

Doesn't that Potty look lonely?

Night was starting to fall, and since it had just rained, we couldn't build a fire.  So we just set out our chairs, looked at the thousands of stars in the black country sky, talked about how fortunate we are to own such a beautiful piece of paradise, and ate some breakfast bars.

We decided we'd go to the Dealership in the nearest town in the morning.

The rest of the night was uneventful except for City Dog Sammie continually barking at what he thought were animal eyes glowing in the dark at the edge of the clearing.  We kept telling him they were fireflies, but he wouldn't listen.  He wasn't too happy about the Coyote howls off in the distance either.  Neither was I, but I hadn't read anything about Coyotes attacking humans.  Besides, RetroMan gave me a knife that I'd snapped to my belt buckle.  Between that and my crutch, I was ready for anything.

That was Day 1.  Please stay tuned for the continuation of The Best Worst Vacation Ever tomorrow.

We Lived To Tell About It

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Grow Trees So They Can Be Used For This?

It had been a few days, so I went to the front porch to get the mail and returned to the living room with an arm full.  RetroMan said that it was all mine.  Actually he said it was all for someone known by my maiden name.  Ya know, like me marrying him was the cause of all that mail.

So I said I would tally it up, and bet that he would have more than me.

The first one was addressed to RetroMan, and it was a replacement credit card.  He opened it, complaining that card companies should print the activation number big enough for old people to see.  I told him I don't know what he's talking about - the AARP isn't sending me mail just yet - I checked.

I put the mail addressed to 'Our Friends' in 'Resident'.  I wasn't sure where to put the piece of mail that had an initial instead of a first name, since RetroMan and City Girl have the same first initial.  I put it in RetroMan's count since it was from the Alzheimer's Foundation.

Apparently, even though the Census Bureau just moved into the White House, the Federal Government doesn't know our names yet, because the Census forms are addressed to 'Resident'.   That's good, because the less the government knows about us, the better. 

The total tally:

RetroMan: 6
Me: 5
City Girl:  2
Resident: 4

Ok, so marrying me didn't cause him to have more mail.

RetroMan lost interest in the mail and had me check the water restrictions in our city, since he's having his annual urge to plant new grass just as the worst drought of the year begins. 

It's still one day a week.  I told him the only thing that will grow in that darn front yard is jasmine. 

He told me to stick with counting the mail - the only plants I'm good at are plastic ones.

All righty then.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Snappin Sam

About 10 years ago when City Girl was 6, we discovered her lost hamster flattened under a pile of toys.  After a few tears, City Girl decided it was time for a dog. 

At that time, Shanna Banana lived down the street.  On our nightly walks, sometimes we'd stop by Shanna's house and walk with her and Chester, a Sckipperkee she had gotten from Schipperke Rescue.  Chester was so cool.  He listened to Shanna, was friendly, and of course very cute.  He even stopped at every intersection to wait for her. 

City Girl and I did some research on Schipperkes.  Headstrong?  No problem, look at Chester.  Some like to run away?  No problem, look at Chester, he always stays by Shanna's side.  They shed once a year?  Perfect.

RetroMan didn't want a dog right then, and certainly not such a sissy one.  His last dog was a 160 pound Mastiff named Blockhead.

But City Girl wrote out 101 reasons why we should get a dog.

And RetroMan caved.

When they say that life has twists and turns, it's situations like this they are talking about.  One decision can change your life forever and put you on a course you never expected.

We contacted the Schipperke Rescue lady, and she had the perfect dog for us!  His name was Sammie and he'd come in a few days ago.  He'd been with a family of children and he was very friendly.  Why did they give him up?  Because they just had a baby, and it was too much to take care of the dog.  

Awwwwwww, we thought, we're the perfect home for him.

The Rescue lady said she'd be by our town in about a week.  She was taking all of her dogs in her Winnebago and going to a Skipnic - a Schipperke picnic where Schipperke owners get together with their dogs.   But if we wanted, we could meet her at an exit on the Interstate and do the trade.  

The next day City Girl and RetroMan met the Schipperke Rescue lady at the Flyin' J off an exit on I-75 and got Sammie.   

As I pulled into the driveway that night, RetroMan came out of the house with the dog hanging out of his hands and said "Call the vet and have them stay open."  The dog had bitten City Girl and there was bloody diarrhea all over the house.

Thus started Sammie's life with us.

As it turned out, we were his 4th family in his 5 short years.  It appeared that the family with children had abused him, because any time children went to pet him, he shied away or nipped at them.  He also had severe food allergies.  He shed like nobody's business, and he ran away at every opportunity.

Fast forward to today, 10 years later.  He's adjusted to us - or rather we've adjusted to him.  He's been to obedience school, and listens to us when he feels like it most of the time.  He doesn't want to run away any more.  

We found one brand of dog food he can eat, but we can't give him anything else - not even bones or treats.  Unfortunately every winter he eats the acorns that fall on the ground and has diarrhea, so we have to wash him a lot.

He is an excellent watch dog.  He looks up and down the street through our wrought iron fence to see if anyone is daring to pass by 'his home'.  If the weather is nice and lot's of people are out, he'll bark like a madman until we sometimes have to muzzle him for an hour.   His vigilance has saved us from at least two attempted break-ins here in downtown that we know of.

We call him Snappy now, even though he hasn't bitten anyone in about 9 years. 

While he's at least 15, you'd never know it - except for a few gray hairs on his chin, he looks and acts just like a puppy.

He hates baths.

And when he's wet, you can see that underneath all that hair he's really not much bigger than some chihuahuas.

He loves riding in the car, even though the car doesn't like him, and his favorite place is Tree Ring.

Some days it's really a challenge to own Snappin Sam, but most times we are glad we have him, because we know nobody else would take care of him like we do.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Life Evens Out

My husband is unique.  Some would say eccentric.  It's partly why I love him.

One of his favorite things to do is to find things for free.  It's kind of like a game.

You know those sweepstakes that the local car dealer sends to "The Occupant" at your address saying that if your numbers match you'll win a new car, or at least $1,000?  Just come down and get it Saturday afternoon, and while you're there get a free hot dog.  Well, if we get that mailing, we're there eating free hot dogs for lunch on Saturday afternoon. 

Now you know why City Girl is so embarrassed by us.  When she was littler, we'd always take her along.

Have we ever won? Nope.  But we've gotten lots of free food, and met some interesting people.

But today was his lucky day. 

RetroMan went to the auto store this morning to get a new car battery, due to the strange circumstances that happened yesterday.

He came home all excited.  There was free coffee and doughnuts, and we had to go back because there was a drawing at 2:00!

We arrived at 1:59.  I sat in the car texting City Girl to keep her apprised.

Dad's at the auto store.  They're having a drawing at 2:00.  5 cars in the parking lot not including ours.

Haaaaahaaaaa.  Can he get me some leather cleaner for my car?

1 guy just came out without any bags.  You don't own a car.

Yippeeee!  You know what I mean!

Another guy came out without any bags.

Awesome!  Did we win?

IDK, not yet.

And then there he was.  

I could tell right away he had won!

He was a "no one else was there, and you had to be there to win" kind of winner.  He got his picture taken and everything, and it's being sent to corporate.  If corporate compares his ticket with the winning ticket, well, they'll wonder just what happened.

What did he win?

A bucket full of about $50 worth of cleaning supplies, which was great, since we planned to wash the dust off the Van from our trip yesterday.

Personally I don't believe it, but RetroMan thinks that life evens out.   Because of our bizarre trip yesterday and other things that have occurred lately, we were due.

I have to admit, the timing was interesting.

We're going to keep a close eye on giveaways at the auto store from now on.

Tree Ring Time

It's been a month since we visited Tree Ring.  Lots has been happening around here between the weather, illness, business trips and City Girl getting her license.  So this weekend it was time to get up there and finish our surveying work for the shelter.  Sunny, 65 degrees.  Ahhhh.

City Girl had a job interview at 4:00, so couldn't come with us.  Ok, I'm kidding myself.   She had more important things to do - like drive all of her friends around in 'her car', now that she's 'free'.


When we got there, it looked like lots of pine cones have begun to drop.

We went for a short walk into the southern dry pond near the giant oak tree at the center of the property, and found an area that seemed to be full of poop piles with pellets about 1/3rd of an inch.  Not sure what kind of poop it was, but I would think deer poop would be bigger.

Some areas on our oak tree have shrivelled up fern fronds.  

And in the sun, they looked like they were enjoying the weather as much as we were.

I'm pretty sure they are resurrection ferns.  I did a Yahoo search on reserrection fern to be sure that I had this one right.  It is an air plant that likes to live on trees such as live oaks.   It looks dead when it's dry and cold, but comes to life with water and heat.  While searching, I came upon an article by Meems at Hoe and Shovel about resurrection ferns.  Her blog is full of interesting information about Gardening in Florida and has great photos.

After our walk, we got down to the business of surveying the last stake of our shelter.  This is drum roll time, because if you did everything right, the diagonal measurements of the stakes should be the same, and your rectangle is square.

Here were our measurements.

We made a few changes and got everything within 1/4 inch.    We're figuring that this is good enough, as the real test will be how square the poles are at the top.  Knowing how difficult it was to get these square at the ground, I can't wait to put 8 poles up and make sure they're square 9 feet in the air.

So this is the part of the story where my life repeats itself.  I am a very ordinary, laid back person, with an ordinary, laid back life.  But God must have a sense of humor, because bizarre things happen to me.  I can't remember if strange things also happened to me before I met RetroMan, or it just started with him.

It was around 3:00, and we packed everything up.  RetroMan turned the key in the iginition.  

Click, click, click.

So there we were, a mile from the nearest neighbor, 7 miles from the nearest town and our battery was dead. 

We talked about this happening a few years before.  The battery just up and quit one day.  The mechanic said that the newer Vans put such a load on batteries with all their gadgets, that batteries only last 3 years.  We thought back, and sure enough, it's been about 3 years since this happened last.

But I had a cell phone with some bars (important because of other bizarre events I haven't bloged about yet).  RetroMan said "get the GEICO card out of the glove box.  I've paid the towing fee for 10 years, now is the time to use it".

That would've been great had we not just three days before changed the insurance when City Girl started driving and dropped towing to save money. 

We called our friend Ron, who lives a couple of miles away. 

No answer.

So then we decided just to spend the night in the camper - what's the big deal?

Too bad we left the camper keys at home.

We decided to take a walk for about an hour, hoping that the battery might recharge enough to start, or that Ron might come home, or we could flag someone driving on the road to give us a jump - that last, knowing that there are only about three vehicles a day on that road.

We walked through the dry pond on our way to the road.  Boy is it beautiful.

I heard a truck in the distance, and RetroMan took off running.

So now, being slightly crippled, I got a little nervous.  I'm picturing Deliverance.  Someone could shoot my husband and there I'd be, helpless in the dry pond.

Lost in my idiot thoughts, I heard a truck coming down the driveway.  RetroMan was in the back, and waved to me.  I hid in some bushes so the driver wouldn't see me.  This would be important if the driver turned violent.

As I slowly walked towards them, City Girl called to tell me she was about to go into the interview.  I wished her luck, and thought how bizarre life can be sometimes - all these things happening at the same time.

By the time I turned the corner, the jump was done and RetroMan and the Country Man were standing there talking.  I took a picture for evidence in case someone found my camera with my body later.

Of course, Country Man was very nice and a neighbor (though 5 miles away), and I felt bad having undignified City Thoughts that showed I watch too much television and am distrustful of people.  He had the coolest tattoo on his forearm that said 'Cracker' on it with the top of the 'C' pointing to our County in a map of Florida.  I decided that to ask to take a picture was a bit much, especially seein as how I had just thought he might murder me and RetroMan.

City Girl called us just after we left for home to tell us she got the job.

Then she called 5 minutes later to say when she started the car, it made a 'crunchy noise'.

Here we go again.......