Day 306, has anyone seen my marbles..

I’m suffering from a little burn out today.  We spent the last two (three-day) weekends away. There are a ton of things that need to get done that usually happen on the weekend. One the plus side DS1 cut the grass today. Now my neighbors will have no reason to call the town (just kidding). I have good, tolerant neighbors. It may help that they benefit from the extras that grow in the garden each summer.

Tonight I played lacrosse again. I forgot my gloves at home and had to borrow a pair from another, better prepared, player. Yikes!  I had one shot that missed. I actually shot the ball lefty. The shot was on the goal but the goalie stopped it. I missed a few passes, but caught most of the balls thrown at me. At some point during the night I got whacked on the muscle just above my right knee. That will probably be black and blue in a few days. I hope to convince DS1 to throw around with me after work one or two of the nights this week.

Work was kinda busy. Tomorrow is the first of the month so all the end of the month projects need to be completed. My DW was busy. They worked a full day. DS1 had class today. Tomorrow he is back to the tree farm. DS2 starts finals tomorrow. DS3, not much contact.

Short and sweet. The picture of the day is from December 2006 when we all gathered at my brother the weatherman’s house before Christmas. Enjoy!


Day 305, not always black and white..

We spent the weekend driving down Washington and up Adams.  By the end of the weekend even my 80-year-old mother in law knew where we were. We have covered this in the past, so just a quick refresher is in order. Marywood University (DS2) is located on Adams Ave in Scranton. The University of Scranton is located on Mulberry Street in Scranton. The roads that connect are Adams and Washington. Up one and down the other.

Friday night DS2 had a choir performance with the NEPA Philharmonic at the Scranton Cultural Center.  Saturday night DS3 had a choir concert at the Houlihan Center at the University of Scranton. DS2 also had an orchestra concert at Marywood Saturday night. We stayed in two different hotels in Clarks Summit. It was a crazy weekend. And to add to the interesting factor, my DW’s mother came to Scranton with us for the first time.  She is 80 or so years old and was a real trooper keeping up with us all weekend. I bet she is already in bed and sleeps late on Monday.

After Friday’s concert at the Cultural Center we (DW, DS2, DS3, MIL and I) went to Coopers for dessert. You can not visit Scranton once in your life and not visit Coopers. I have written in the past about the Scranton memorabilia on the walls. I can’t imagine that there is a museum in Scranton with a collection like theirs.  Everybody had a snack, DS2 said hello to some teachers from Marywood that he knew and we celebrated DS2’s concert. They also stock my favorite rum.

Saturday morning we went to Maywood for the concert dress rehearsal since we would not be able to go to the concert that night. After the rehearsal we took DS2 down to Coney Island Hot Lunch for texas wieners. DS3 was doing volunteer work for ROTC and was not available at lunch time.  After lunch we took DS2 back to school. He had some school work to do for Monday. It was nap time for the old people (me). After our naps we went back downtown to meet up with DS3 who had also been taking a nap. I guess Saturday afternoon was a good nap day.

DS3 took us (DW, MIL and me) on a tour of the campus. We had seem most of the buildings. This was my MIL’s first time seeing the school. We walked to his dorm, the gym and the new Science Center. My DW and I had never been in this brand new (Science Center) building. It was pretty impressive. I can say that they have not yet fully moved in.  It is nice to see that the university is investing money back into the school. After our tour we ate dinner at his cafeteria with DS3’s roommate and some of his friends.

The band/choir concert was excellent Saturday night. After the concert we went back to Marywood and collected DS2 and went back downtown to Farley’s Steakhouse for dessert. The food was good.  The bar was limited. It was a full bar, they did not have my favorite rum. Coopers does.. After our snack we dropped DS3 off and went back across town to drop off DS2.  We returned to our hotel where I fought with WordPress until I gave up around midnight and left the pictures sideways. 

Sunday morning we had a light breakfast in the hotel. Then we went to Marywood for mass. We chatted with Father Brian for a few minutes and then attended mass where DS2 played his trumpet. After mass we drove downtown (again) and picked up DS3 and his friend (not my girlfriend) and back across town to the Bucktown Diner in Dunmore for brunch. After brunch we left DS2 at his school. Dropped off DS3 and his (not my girlfriend) off at the U.

We headed home. No issues at all. It was a surprisingly easy trip home. I’m sure some day I will pay for those words.  Dinner tonight was steak on the grill. We also made a “Chopped” potato salad. This is where you get a group of ingredients and you have to use them all in part of a meal Tonight’s challenge included crabmeat, potatoes, shrimp, old bay, chives, parsley and mayonnaise. All the ingredients for a crabmeat potato salad. It was excellent. And the judge (DW) did not “Chop” me.

Tonight’s pictures are from this weekend. The captions will tell the tale. Some are black and white. Some are color. Must have been an “artsy” weekend for the photographer.  Enjoy!


Day 304, Another late night in Clarks Summit..

Another Saturday night (song lyrics) here in Clark Summit. We had another day of being here and being there to spend some times with our children. My DW’s mother will sleep for a week when she gets home. She has been a real trooper keeping up with us. Tonight we are going to be all pictures, all the time. The captions will tell the tale.

I apologise for the pictures that are not rotated correctly.  I tried a dozen times to spin the pictures but for some reason I can not edit the pictures tonight. I guess you will have to turn your head (low tech method tonight).



Day 303, somebody rolled up the sidewalks..

Grandma, DS2 and DW in Scranton

It is after midnight here in Clarks Summit, PA. We are up in the Scranton area this weekend to see DS2 and DS3 in their spring concerts. Traveling with us in my DW’s mother. I think we had her out way past her bedtime tonight. I will post later on today (Saturday) more stories and pictures from today. 

Good night,



Day 302, Good money after bad?..

Over the last six months or more my old mini van (240,000) miles has gotten louder as I drove it down the highway. The problem is that the wheel bearings in the rear go bad and they just get louder as time and miles go on. The obvious answer would be to replace the bearings. Give the mileage on my van, three kids in college, I am not predisposed to spend any more money than absolutely necessary on it. Tuesday was necessary. I downloaded a decibel meter app for my phone. How accurate is it? Probably close, not admissible in court I would guess.

Two weeks ago at 70 miles an hour the decibel meter read 85 decibels in my van. Windows up, radio on. Loud, almost too loud. Monday that same test came in at 97 decibels. I decided that I needed to either fix the vehicle or replace it. Tuesday I wore headphones to block the noise. I went shopping online during work (shh, don’t tell) and found a 2000 Chevy Venture with 104,000 miles on it for sale in the next town over from where I work. It was an E Bay auction that probably would finish around 2000.00.  I contacted the seller and arranged a test drive at lunch time.

I test drove the car. Looked at it and what it would need and decided that I would fix my van.  I know where the van has been for the last 7 years and what it’s current issues are. I left the car at the shop Tuesday night for a Wednesday repair appointment. Wednesday the mechanic called in the morning to say that the car needed one rear bearing. Ok, I thought, that is better than both. And, it needs a brake cylinder as well. Oh, ok. Still the total was less than my planned expense. I said, and by the way, do an oil change, it needs it.

Later in the day the mechanic calls and says those words you don’t want to hear, “Lime Guy, we are having a problem with your vehicle.” The long and the short of it was that when they went to remove the oil drain plug the entire plug assembly came apart. Add another 300 dollars for an oil pan and labor.  Now we were over budget about 50 %.  It’s like fixing plumbing in an old house. Once you touch something you wind up replacing everything. Good money after bad? I hope not. 

I can say the van is quieter now. The decibel meter reads around 72 decibels at 70 miles an hour. I can hear the radio, talk on the phone (hands free of course), and my ears don’t ring when I get out of the car.  We are going mobile for the weekend. DS2 has a concert Friday night. DS3 has a concert Saturday night. I found out about Saturday’s concert yesterday evening. It appears that DS2 has a concert Saturday night as well. So far we have not yet mastered the being in two places at one time act.  

Tonight’s picture is from DS2. He had a rehearsal at the Scranton Cultural Center ( an oxymoron? lol). This is his view from the stage. Enjoy!


Day 301, Now what do I do?..

Tonight’s blog will cover Sunday’s trip from Charlottesville, VA to New Jersey.  Or at least that is the plan. This blog writing sometimes takes on a life of its own.  A little bit of Wednesday current events first. Today DS1 worked his second day at his new job at the tree farm/nursery.  The high point of the day was learning to drive a stick shift. His learning vehicle? Why a tractor, of course. It is a farm. He seems very happy so far with the job. We (his parents) wish it were closer to our house. But he is working, and that is a good thing. He is off tomorrow to take his college class. Monday he has an interview with a company that expressed interest in him back in January. The put his resume away while he finished up his degree.

Sunday morning the day started out rainy and wet. The forecast on the tv the night before showed a huge storm all the way from the Carolinas to Boston. There was no way the storm would pass the area of the game before Monday morning. We decided to skip the Sunday (championship game) and head home around noon time. The roosters were quiet I guess due to the rain. The horses, were out in the rain. The goat was still inside. I cooked breakfast again and we cleaned up and left the farm heading north and east.

The drive back to 95 took about an hour. When we finally got to 95 we looked down at the highway as we approached the on ramp and saw the traffic stopped, all three lanes as far as the eye can see.  We skipped the on ramp and pulled into a local business to work the GPS into finding another way home. We went east a few more lights and got on US 1 headed toward Washington, DC. Talk about a traffic light every half mile and people everywhere. Not exactly what I was looking for with 240 more miles to go. After about 15 minutes on US 1 we were sitting at a long traffic light. I checked the maps app on my phone and the traffic layer showed that the problem on 95 was south of where we were. We cut back across to 95 and joining the northbound traffic.

The drive itself was not awful. Visibility was bad, but we saw no accidents the entire time we were on the highway. We stopped in Philadelphia to return the rental car and then went over the bridge into New Jersey and drove the last 60 miles home. Why a rental car? Our family van gets 18 miles to the gallon. The rental car got 28 miles to the gallon. With all the miles that we drove and the fuel cost saving of the rental, the rental was almost paid for by the increased fuel economy. And my van has 150,000 miles, the rental car had 16,000.

During the ride home, as I wrote about the other day, we plugged the laptop into my phone and watched the second half of the championship game. Tonight I watched the entire game on tv. We saved the game on the DVR.  Another funny story about the ride home is when we entered Pennsylvania we needed to fill the tank so we could return the rental car. I got off at an exit that showed several gas stations near the ramp. The first gas station was closed on Sunday. The second station did not take any credit cards.  At the third station the first pump  I tried did not work. The second one worked like a charm. In this area south of Philadelphia and north of the Delaware state line, people like me driving around are few and far between. Just the facts..

When we got back into town we were too tired to cook so we went and had Happy Hour food at one of the local bars. We met up with the parents of one of the high school lacrosse players that my youngest played with last year. Their son has two more years to play in high school. It was interesting to catch up on some of the stories from this year. I miss being involved with the team, but my children have graduated and it is somebody else’s turn.

 So the title tonight, what gives? We did not see any references.  When I was 23 years old my father died of a heart attack. He was 5o years old. When I talked with some of the people he spent his last day with, one of them told me how they had talked about his family, his children and his life. It was like he was reliving his life (flashing before his eyes?) as it were.  In honor of that story and maybe to try to understand that experience, I decided back in June to write about being 50. Add a few stories from the past and record this year’s events as I saw them.  I have now outlived my father by about a day or two. So, what do I do now? I asked my DW that at dinner tonight. The kinda funny joke to that is when DS1 finished his last college lacrosse game, he looked at both of us and asked the same question.  I told him at the time that we had never done this before, but whatever we did we would do together.



Day 300, Another Saturday night..

My intention last night was to write-up the second half of Saturday after playing lacrosse last night. When I got home I had my “medicinal” double of Bacardi 8 and was just to tired to write.  Lacrosse went well. I had a fair night. Nothing too spectacular, nothing too bad. When I missed a pass and the ball went over to the other team I forced myself to run up to the midfield line and wait for the ball to come back over to our side of the field.  I don’t need a coach screaming at me, I can do this all by myself.

When we last left off we had just left the oyster festival as the thunderstorm rolled in. On the road to the festival there are three brew pubs and five vineyards. That sounds like my kind of road. As you make the turn onto this road there is a sign warning of increased enforcement over the next 14 miles. In 14 miles you get to the third brew pub where the festival was.  As we traveled back down the road we decided to stop at the next brew pub we encountered. The brew pub is called Wild Wolf Brewing Company. Their website is here.

We ate inside since it was..raining. It was too early for dinner so we had dessert. We ordered two flights of samples. This covered all the current offerings. We also ordered two orders of fried Oreos with vanilla ice cream. If you have never had fried Oreos, make a point of ordering them the next (or first) time you see them on a menu. They were excellent. The best beer to have with the fried Oreos was called Strawberry Schwarzcake. This description comes from their website ” 5% ABV  20 IBU   This Fruit Schwarzbier is dark brown in color.   The clean lager characteristics and the berry finish make it a very refreshing and interesting beer.”  It was perfect with dessert.

The food was good, the beer was good. The waiter was good. An excellent experience. I would go there again. After we left the brew pub we drove back to the farm. As we got further north and east we actually got ahead of the storm. We were in the house about five minutes when the skies opened up. I took a beer out on the front porch to watch the storm and the animals. The pasture in front of still had the same four horses and one goat from the morning. The goat was in the shed, out of the rain. The horses were just standing in the rain and eating. No big deal  Does that make the goat smarter than the horses?

We went to dinner in downtown Louisa. Downtown as you can guess is a grand way of saying “where the speed limit drops and tickets are handed out”. Small town Saturday night, rainy Saturday night. We found the Obrigado Restaurant by searching on the web. Their website is here. The food was good, real good. Funky, like you might find in Hoboken or Red Bank. Pretty trendy for the middle of nowhere. We enjoyed a good meal and partied down for dessert. I guess Saturday was a dessert day.  We had Creme Brule, Fresh made (local dairy) Banana Ice Cream, coffee, tea, and a Jameson on the rocks. Wow! I had three spoons for dessert.

While I was in the bathroom I saw a sign on the wall advertising a fundraising concert for the Louisa Earthquake Relief Fund.  I said to myself, earthquake relief fund in rural Virginia? When I got back to the table I told my DW about the flier on the wall. When the waitress came to the table she asked about the fundraiser. Do you remember the earthquake we had on the east coast in August? I do, that was the day DS2 had his first eye surgery. They remember because the epicenter of the earthquake was in Mineral, Va.  Mineral, Va is 6 miles from where we had dinner Saturday night. Several of the local schools have been condemned due to damage from the earthquake.  Talk about things in my life going full circle.

The ride home to the farm was dark.  No street lights, wet roads, a couple of drinks. I was fine. I was very happy to make the turn into the driveway and park the car. We sat up for about 45 minutes watching some tv and then called it a night. So ends Saturday in Louisa, Va.

Tomorrow I will wrap up Sanday and hopefully get caught up on the week. On a personal note, Happy Birthday to DS3. He turned 19 today!  See you Friday, dude.

Here are two pictures from the brew pub. Enjoy!


Day 299, out and about in Charlottesville, VA..

The first job Saturday morning was to unlock all the doors. It was our first night in a strange place (not strange, just not home) so I had closed and locked every possible door while we slept.  It was going to be a nice sunny morning after the sun got higher in the sky. The resident rooster(s) were a little early announcing the new day. Fortunately, I just rolled over and my DW did not hear them. They continued to chime in off and on during the morning until about 10:30 am when we left the farm.

Breakfast was eggs and pork roll which we brought down with us. Coffee from New Orleans and a nice peaceful morning sitting on the front porch drinking my coffee.  We watched the horses goof off with each other. It was easy to pick out the trouble maker of the group. He was the one nipping the others and being a pest. The goat was off across the pasture doing its own thing.  After breakfast my DW had just come out of the shower when she starts laughing really loud. I went into the bedroom to see what was going on. She said “We have a peeping Tom”  I thought, oh, ok. Funny? She said “Look out the window”. I moved the curtain aside and there was one of the horses, head over the fence intently staring into the bedroom. Ok, funny.

We left the farm and headed into Charlotteville. It was about a 25 minute ride. We drove on the county two-lane instead of the interstate. I figured there might be more to see and we were not in any hurry. We parked near the pedestrian mall in the historic district. We walked the mall, window shopping. We stopped in a pawn shop to look at guitars for DS2. We found a resonator guitar for sale, but it was the square neck not the round neck model. The difference? The square neck model you lay flat on your lap and play like a pedal steel guitar. The round neck model you play like a regular guitar.  We also walked up to the weekly farmers market. It was fun to look at all the things for sale. We really could not buy anything perishable since we were not sure when we would get back to the farm.

We had lunch at a funky cafe that had outdoor seating on the mall. The food was good. The salad was the most unusual salad I have ever eaten. I eat some of it one piece at a time to try to identify the different flavors . We both had a rock shrimp and lobster salad sandwiches. Mine with bread, her’s in a bowl with some lettuce.  After lunch we drove around Charlottesville for a bit trying to get a feel for where things are. On Friday we just went to the game and left. On Saturday we drove around the campus of UVA. The city seems a to be very vibrant college town.

The next event on our list was a wine tasting festival of Virginia wineries. The festival was in Ruckersville which is about 30 minutes north and west of the city. The wine tasting was in the middle of a farmer’s field. Someone had done a fair job cutting down the weeds so that you could park and walk around. They had maybe 10 different wineries giving out samples. We paid 20 dollars each to get in. For this we got a sampling glass and we allowed to visit each tent as much as you wanted to. The samples were about one ounce.  We tried quite a few of the different wines but we did not find any that we would spend money to bring home. They did have a food truck selling Louisiana food. We had an order of beignets. They were the highlight of the festival.  The temperature at this point was in the low 80’s.

We got back in the car and turned on the air and headed south and west to an oyster festival at a brewery/brew pub.  The two festivals were about an hours plus apart. By the time we got down to the oyster festival the sky had turned grey and you could see the rain on the mountains in the not to far distance. We parked the car and walked over to the entrance carrying our umbrella. The festival cost 15 dollars each to get in. While we stood there debating the cost/benefit of entrance, the rain started. We used a porta-a-potty and headed back to the car. No sense in paying to go into an outdoor festival in the rain.

That takes us to about 4:00 pm Saturday. The next installment will hopefully wrap up Saturday.  The picture below is of DS2 and a friend after his choral concert on Saturday. The university had a casino night so he went in his concert tuxedo. Enjoy!


DS2 casino night

Day 298, Virginia III..

Have you read enough about Friday yet? I told your there was lots to write about. This will be the last post about Friday. Tomorrow I will write about Saturday and Sunday.  The reason we went to Charlottesville, Va. was not to visit a farm. You might not believe that. We did indeed go to see four of the best men’s college lacrosse teams in the country play. When we got to UVA and started looking for a parking spot near the stadium it became clear that something more than lacrosse was going on. After we found a parking space and walked up the field complex we saw that the ACC was having it’s  Track and Field Championships at UVA at the same time. There were people and athletes everywhere.

The track and field championship was free to get in. The mens lacrosse championship was ten dollars for Friday night and ten dollars for Sunday’s championship game. While we waited for the will call window to open we went into the track meet to have something to do. The stadium and the track complex are next to each other. There are no gates or fences between them. If you had known this you would have gone a little early and watch some track and field and then walked over to the lacrosse stadium and watched those games. We live and learn.

We sat on the grassy knoll right on the 50 yard line. They have a bleachers on one side and a grassy hill on the other. Everything is general admission. The games were excellent. Unfortunately the home team lost in the second game.  Both games were broadcast on ESPNU and ESPN3. My DS1 said he saw us on the sidelines of one of the games. We have them saved on the DVR. We might watch some of the games during the week especially if the reruns continue.  Food and water/soda/Gatorade were available for purchase during the game. There was no alcohol allowed in the stadium.  Water was 3.50 a bottle. We wished we had brought some in with us from the car.

After the game we drove back towards the house getting off an exit early to do some grocery shopping. We needed a few things for the morning.  After our grocery shopping we continued to drive back to the farm. There are very few street lights out there in rural Virginia.  I am used to living here in New Jersey where there are too many street lights. After we got back to the house my DW went to bed and I wrestled with the alarm (as written about in part two). One of the ways I attempted to quiet the alarm was to put black electrical tape over the motion sensor in the bedroom. Note to self: that does not work.

Here are some pictures from the game. I also shot some video during the second game. That can be seen by clicking here.




Day 298, Virginia trip part II..

Yesterday we left off with me doing some stupid things before heading out. And my DS1 deciding to lock up the house when he won’t turn of the lights when he leaves a room.  All is well that ends well.  What that means is that we got down to the house in Louisa, Va early enough to check out the house and use the bathroom before continuing onto to Charlottesville for the two lacrosse games. At the farm we met Amanda. She appears to be the “manager” of the farm. She may have been 20 years old, at best. We also met a 10 ish year old male child who did not introduce himself to us. I don’t know his name. Other than these two, we only saw horse, dogs, goats and chickens.

Having done a few wine tastings over the weekend, we learned about descriptions that may or may not be applicable. A description of the farm might include words like “earthy tones, and fragrant bouquet” The truth is that the horse and the goats do their business wherever they want. We were ok since the temperatures were not to warm and the breeze seemed to blow in the right direction.

There will be lots of pictures of the house and farm at the bottom today.  The house looked like it was the farm owners house. The front porch looked out onto one of the pastures where the horses were kept. The walls were made of logs. It was a log house. Like lincoln logs, just real and better constructed. The house consisted of two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The master bedroom was huge with a huge bed and a on-suite bathroom. The other bedroom was set up as an office with a pullout coach providing a second bed.

The entrance from the back porch puts you into a mud room. From there you proceeded into the house. The mud room contained a shower stall, a toilet, washer and dryer and a slop sink. All things you might need access to without actually entering the main part of the house. The kitchen had a stainless stove, and dishwasher. The counters were marble. The whole decor worked the country, modern theme. I guess.

There was a breakfast bar and a formal dining room table. The kitchen was open to the living room. The pictures down below will better illustrate the layout and look of the home. One quirk that we encountered when we got there was the alarm would beep every minute or so. I thought maybe this was because we were moving around and once we got settled in one place, like sleeping, that the noise would stop. The instructions from the landlord were quite clear about not using the alarm.  We left the house going to the game in the afternoon hoping that the beeping would resolve itself by the time we returned home..

You know it did not resolve itself. But, it did not get any worse! I called the landlord at 11 pm to ask for guidance since I was sure my DW would not be able to sleep through that noise. He did not answer. I figured Amanda, across the farm, probably had less experience with alarms than I did. I opened the front panel and tried to reason my way through the problem. I was tired, not my best reasoning time. I pushed a button to term the chimes off. This turned them on. Opps, wrong way. The beeps every minute continued.

I pushed a button marked Silent. That was what I was after, this turned the alarm to silent, the beeps continued. I hit the Status button, the alarm panel displayed a status of Phone Failure and the beeping stopped.. That God!  I figured we would be out at 1 am looking for a hotel or sleeping in the car.

The pictures below are of the house and the grounds. Enjoy!


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