January 2006 Archives

Awake: 5:50am Temp 32 Freezing rain—then cloudy Overnight @ Nicktown

Before driving to church, I pour 3 large pans of warm water on our
windshield to melt the ice enough for us to see our way to the parking
area for 7:00am Mass. Mass was early today as a large group was being
bussed to Washington, DC to march for “Pro Life.”

After breakfast, we calculate the main roads have been traveled enough for
us to find our way to the Foote house this morning arriving @ 10:00am.
Kathy will do the Foote’s weekly laundry while I try & help Kevin remove
an 85 yr old cast iron sewer & vent pipe.

Kevin spent many hrs knocking plaster off the walls & ceilings upstairs in
the bathroom; then removing, too numerous to count, lath wood in prep for
insulating the walls, re-plumbing, re-wiring & replacing that old cast
iron sewer & vent pipe….thus creating a new & modern bathroom, with a
steam shower, bathtub, & double sink. Easier access to all this technical
updating plus the dreaded cast iron removal was only made possible by
Kevin’s persistence of tearing down to the studs.

Removing the cast iron pipe, about 22 ft of it, was challenging. Kevin had
a head start, using a mini sledgehammer & just pounding on the 4 inch pipe
until it began to weaken & crack slowly into pieces. The biggest problem
was: getting enough space to get to the pipe itself with enough room to
swing the sledgehammer. The pipe was in its own narrow 3 sided box like
structure. We did have a break for lunch & to let Matthew take a 1.5 hr
nap before finally removing the last stubborn piece around 3:00pm. Whew!

After that workout, I spent a little time holding Andrew & playing with
Matthew…then we return to our bus @ 4:35 & both take showers…ahh!

7:05 dinner: Pork chops, (3) rice pilaf (white, wild & brown rice), mixed
salad & toast.

Evening time: watch “Ice Skating with the Celebrities.”

High today: 35 Lights out: 10:34pm

Awake: 5:06am Temp 24 Clear & cool Overnight @ Nicktown

We attend 8:00 am Mass which was very crowded. Afterward, I make a fast
trip to the grocery store, Bi-Lo (5 min), for more maple syrup since Kathy
is making oatmeal pancakes with bacon for breakfast.

Later, Kathy makes me a deal: She’ll clean up the dishes while I do the
outside work? “Say no more!” I tell her. Kathy wants to do (2) more loads
of laundry so that means I need to drain our gray water holding tank, then
top off the pure water holding tank plus a few other misc items.

@ 3:15pm we begin watching the American Football League playoff game
between the Pittsburgh Steelers & the Denver Broncos. This is the 1st time
I have ever watched a football game in its entirety. Pretty exciting I
thought….although I did get a little antsy a number of times as I was
ready for the game to be over in an hr or less. Around here, there are a
lot of Steelers fans. We know that Katrina, now a Denverite, was @ a
sports bar in Denver also watching the Steelers beat the Broncos….as we
had talked about this earlier. Sorry Katrina!

8:00pm dinner: Italian hamburgers with whole wheat noodles, spaghetti
sauce & broccoli.

High temp: 36 Lights out: 10:38pm

Awake: 5:06am Temp 46 Intermittent rain Overnight @ Nicktown

We make (2) round trips to Indiana today: 1st was to visit the Footes and
Denise, bring a spinach salad that Kathy made for supper and do some
needed grocery shopping @ Martin’s & Wal-Mart for us and the Footes en
route. Then @ 12:30, bring Denise back for a tour of Nicktown, Kirschtown,
the ole brick road & then our motorhome.

During our time in the motorhome, Kathy & Denise do a couple loads of
laundry, while we do some more yakking and catching up, eat some healthy
snacks, drink some even healthier wine & watch some of our Asian Pacific
cruise slides on the plasma screen. Around 4:15 we start driving back to
Indiana for more visiting & 5:10 dinner: Spaghetti with meat sauce,
Melissa’s homemade rolls, almond green beans & Kathy’s large bowl of
spinach salad + more wine.

Kathy & Denise clean up the dishes & kitchen counter while Kevin takes a
shower & bathes Matthew….then takes Matthew upstairs & reads to him for 30
to 40 min. Meanwhile Melissa is nursing, changing & rocking Andrew &
talking with me. Then Kevin & Melissa exchange roles: Melissa then lies
with Matthew until he falls asleep while Kevin holds & rocks Andrew while
visiting with us downstairs. It’s usually a 2 hr procedure getting Matthew
to bed each night. Around 9:00pm we say our goodbyes to Kevin & Denise &
drive back to Nicktown.

Arriving in Nicktown, we park on the church hall grounds & attend the
Bluegrass night. The place was literally packed with people. A parking
space was difficult to find outside as well as a place to sit down inside.
We stayed for over an hr….as neither of us are bluegrass music fans but I
wanted to see a few people who I thought might be there & sure enough,
they were…….so it was a good idea we checked out the local entertainment.

High today: 48 Lights out: 10:54pm

Awake: 5:05am Temp 48 Cloudy Overnight @ Nicktown

Drive to the community center for 45 min of exercise…..then attend 8:00am
Mass & afterward, spend 50 min with the factual coffee club members.

The remaining morning was casual for us. Later Kathy makes a large tossed
salad to take along to the Footes for dinner later today.

@ 2:30pm we drive to the Footes…..I spend time building log houses &
putting puzzles together with Matthew while Melissa is making dinner.
Kathy carries Andrew around for awhile….then our roles reverse & she plays
with Matthew while I carry Andrew around.

Moments before Melissa announces dinner, I open a bottle of wine & begin
pouring…..just as the door bell dings: It’s Denise! She has a 3 day
layover with FedEx in Cleveland and decided a more enjoyable way to spend
the weekend would be to drive to the Footes for a visit. Her timing
couldn’t have been better. I think it’s been 1.5 yrs since we’ve hung out
with Denise so it’s good to see her again. She, Mike, and I use to
celebrate our August birthdays together & Denise and Mike, now her
husband, are godparents for Matthew so her visit is two-fold.

5:30 dinner: Breaded chicken casserole, rice, broccoli & Kathy’s large
bowl of tossed salad. The dinner meal was absolutely delicious…Melissa’s
getting to be quite a good cook! During dinner & for several hrs
afterward we have a lot of catching up to do with Denise, including her
and Mike’s wedding & Mike’s retirement party photos. We’ll be visiting the
Footes again tomorrow. Back to our bus @ 9:05pm.

High today: 52 Lights out: 9:54pm

Awake: 5:39am Temp 26 Clear Overnight @ Nicktown

Oops, typo yesterday. Today is the 19th of January.

We skip the exercise this morning & go to 8:00am Mass….then spend an hr
with the well attended coffee group……then back to our bus for breakfast.

@ 12:30, Kathy drives to Barnesboro(North, Northern Cambria)for grocery
shopping & a library visit.

Meanwhile, I had been enjoying some magazine reading until I, by chance,
discover a water leak from the skylight back in our closet. Maybe
Tuesday’s heavy rains helped to spring a leak. Anyway, it dampened the rug
on Kathy’s closet side under her lower rod of hanging clothes. So, out
come’s the telescoping ladder & my commercial roll of tough adhesive
plastic. I cover the skylight with a soft sheet of paper towel & then seal
over the paper towel with a larger sheet of my adhesive plastic that
should stop the leak. Who’s going to notice a clear sheet of plastic on
top of a 12 ft roof anyway?

Kathy returns @ 3:40pm & starts the dinner prep.

7:12 dinner: Italian hamburgers with whole wheat fettuccine in homemade
Italian spaghetti sauce, mixed salad & toast.

Evening entertainment: watch “Dancing with the stars” on TV.

High temp: 46 Lights out: 10:25pm

Awake: 5:36am Temp 41 Cloudy….rain & wind Overnight @ Nicktown

Drive to the community center for an hr of exercise…..then join the
sparsely attended coffee club group for 35 min of good chatter…..then
return to the bus for breakfast….change clothes & attend the funeral Mass
for Viola with other family members & friends. I thought Father Job gave a
very good homily for the occasion: telling us parishioners that Viola is
happy now….she is in no pain; she won’t miss us. We are the one’s that are
sad & we will miss her, etc.

Because of the cold temps & blustery winds outside, the burial ceremony
prayers were said @ the back of the church. Then, everyone was invited to
the church hall for a luncheon meal sponsored by the Altar & Rosary
Society & what a luncheon it was: a wonderful selection of delicious
dishes plus a vast array of different desserts. We sat with our cousins
Bernie, Ethel & Rita. I wanted to visit with a number of other people in
the hall but the 1.5 hrs went by quickly. We were back to our bus by

It’s a good day to stay indoors: the temp dropped to 29 degrees with winds
from 30 to 50 mph with gusts….even our bus occasionally shows some

After that terrific lunch, we skip the traditional dinner meal & simply
have some popcorn while watching a video movie from the Foote collection:
“Monkey Business” staring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn &
Marilyn Monroe. We were glad that Marilyn had such a small role….otherwise
the movie wouldn’t have had the appeal that it did!

High temp: 41 Lights out: 10:58pm

Awake: 5:32am Temp 32 Cloudy…..then rain Overnight @ Nicktown

Drive to 8:00am Mass.......afterward attend the jovial coffee club members
for an hr, then back to our bus for breakfast.

Kathy makes a dinner meal: cheeseburger soup for us & the Footes; @
10:30am, she with the soup, leaves for Indiana to do the Foote’s laundry &
some grocery shopping for us & the Footes. She also gets some play time in
with Matthew and visits with Melissa. Kathy returns @ 5:05pm & another
job well done.

Meanwhile, in my spare time I hook up the water hoses & fill our
freshwater tank; adjust a PVC pipe in the # 2 pump house so the door will
close tight on the Rubber Maid unit & reduce heat loss; use our central
vacuum system to vacuum dust & dirt from a heater unit under the galley &
oil our retractable stair steps on our motorhome.

6:40 dinner: Cheeseburger soup, mixed salad & toast.

7:30 drive to (South, Northern Cambria), Spangler, & pay our respects @
the wake for Viola. There were a lot of families represented here with
people I haven’t seen or talked to in a long time.

The forecasted rain & wind moved into our area rather quickly this evening
so driving & walking over to the funeral parlor in the heavy rain was
rather unpleasant especially being dressed in nice attire & trying to stay

High temp: 35 Lights out: 10:32pm

Awake: 5:55am Temp 19 Sunny…then clouds Overnight @ Nicktown

Drive to the community center for 35 min of exercise……then attend 8:00 am
Mass. Next we join the frivolous discussions the coffee members are having
for about 40 min.

After breakfast in our coach, Kathy begins to crank up the kitchen galley
machines. She makes some corn muffins & some peanut
butter-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies.

@ 3:55 pm our young friends, Rosemary & Gary, arrive. We have invited G &
R for food & drink & then to be our guinea pigs, witnessing the slide show
of our 2 month Asian Pacific cruise. The plan worked perfectly: after
plying them with some high octane wine, then Kathy’s special combustible
chili & corn cheddar cheese muffins, this great couple gave us the
illusion they were watching a top notch show, even my out-of-focus shots
were being complimented. It was a long production, I will admit; but they
were very kind & gracious about all of this! And we really enjoyed their

High today: 33 Lights out: 10:58pm

Awake: 5:08am Temp 17 Sunny Overnight @ Nicktown

Kathy makes her famous sourdough pancakes with bacon & eggs for breakfast
this morning before we attend 10:30 am Mass. Father Job announced that
Viola had passed away on Saturday. I think most of us realized this
announcement was coming.

I spent over an hr reorganizing the drawers in my night stand & under the
sink in our bedroom while looking for my .3mm 3H pencil lead that I use to
write my daily journal with. I did find the lead & I needed to clean out
these drawers anyway….outdated papers & documents from 2003 & 2004. Then I
proceeded to shred a bunch of those old papers.

Meanwhile, Kathy makes a pot of her special chili for tomorrow’s dinner.

7:15 dinner: Leftover Italian sausage with spaghetti sauce, whole wheat
noodles, Florentz’s homegrown corn “off” the cob which was frozen, mixed
salad & toast.

High temp 30 Lights out: 10:33pm

Awake: 5:48am Temp 44 Light rain…..then snow Overnight @ Nicktown

Sometime during the night, heavy & aggressive rain pounds our roof waking
us up. By morning time though, the rain was light.

We leave @ 9:20 for Indiana & a visit with the Footes. Its 44 degrees &
snowing in Nicktown as we leave…..Indiana is some 800 ft lower in
elevation & having light rain. Grandson Matthew is always happy to see us.
I spend a few min playing with him….then go on tour with Kevin & witness
the gung-ho bathroom destruction (leading to renovation) that he has been
doing. Melissa is slowly getting back into the swing of things, feeling
stronger though tired...caring for 2 young boys plus other household

Eric the electrician & his apprentice have now finished upgrading the 1st
floor wiring, outlets & the 3 & 4 way switches. The Footes are very happy
with Eric’s work. We spend 2 hrs with Melissa & the boys, then while they
take their scheduled nap, Kathy & I go grocery shopping for both the
Footes & us.

Returning @ 2:00pm, I spend extra time looking over Kevin’s work & the
latest challenge of ridding the old cast-iron sewer & vent pipe to replace
it with a newer version.

Melissa serves us a smoothie & fresh popcorn snack before we leave to
return to our bus @ 4:45pm. Hard to believe, just yesterday we were
cutting each other’s hair outside in 62 degree weather & now the yard has
3 inches of snow covering with gusty winds & a temp of 25 degrees. Brrrr!

7:05 dinner: Leftover Peanut-y pork fingers & Parmesan pork, rice & broccoli.

High temp today: 44 Lights out: 10:52pm

Awake: 5:08am Temp 41 Mostly sunny Overnight @ Nicktown

We do the short drive to the community center for 35 min of exercise….then
attend 8:00am Mass. Afterward @ the post office parking lot, we talk with
Viola’s husband, Malachi about the condition of his wife: he told us that
she is in a medically induced coma, has a breathing tube down her throat,
not breathing on her own & has not been responsive since shortly after
arriving @ the Altoona hospital on Monday. There isn’t much we could say;
we offer our condolences & pray for what’s best. Then, we spend 50 min
with the dedicated coffee club members.

I had talked with Rosemary earlier & she hinted that today might be a good
day for us to re-position our coach. Until this time I sort of vacillated
between moving and simply staying as we are. Our circular drive is finally
clear of snow so why not make ourselves comfortable. With the slides
extended, I have no vision to the rear, but Kathy's hand signals are
precise & we are re-parked within min in a more suitable spot on our
Kathy finishes a load of laundry while I top off the pure water holding tank.

In the sunshine & out in the grassy area of our circular drive, we give
each other haircuts which we both desperately needed. Amazingly though,
this is Kathy’s 6th haircut that I’ve given her & during my cutting, she
is still on edge & a little nervous. Then…as it happens, days later she
will admit to me that she likes her new style.

Taking advantage of this nice weather, I invite Kathy for a walk around
our property: through the woods, past the spring down in the field, etc.
It’s been a few yrs since she’s explored our property also.

7:07 dinner: Tuna & noodle casserole with spinach salad.

Evening time: talk with Melissa & Kevin & get the daily report.

High temp: 62 Lights out: 10:57pm

Awake: 5:46am Temp 35 Sunny Overnight @ Nicktown

We skip the exercise this morning, pour warm water on our frozen
windshield, then drive to our church & attend 8:00 am Mass. Afterward, we
meet with the male dominated coffee club for 45 min, then back to our bus
for breakfast.

@ 1:35pm we visit with Rosemarie & Herm who live about a mile down the
road. I’ve know these people all my life. They used to hang out with my
parents so we visited each other while growing up on our farm.

R & H have 9 children, 42 grandchildren & 18 great grandchildren. They
have been BIG dairy farmers all these yrs until their son Ralph took over
the farm, modernized & expanded the business & now, it’s going stronger
than ever. We spend over 3 hrs talking, reminiscing about the good ole
days, some cruise & travel stories, family & kid talk, etc.

August 30th of 2004, Herm & Rosemarie visited us in our motorhome here in
Nicktown. Now I am glad that we had them up for a visit because Herm is
not getting around so well these days. It felt really good to be spending
some time with them again in their home.

7:05 dinner: Peanut-y pork fingers & parmesan pork fingers, apple
coleslaw, leftover potatoes & rice.

8:30 talk with Melissa & get the daily report: Scheduled naps for the boys
are not going well. Eric the electrician & his apprentice are drilling
holes, running new wires & making a lot of noise throughout the house.
It’s been difficult for Melissa to have the boys adjust to noise @ nap

Today’s high: 49 Lights out: 11:00pm

Awake: 6:01am Temp 43 Mostly cloudy Overnight @ Nicktown.

Drive to the community center ---exercise 55 min, then join the scant
coffee club members for 45 min before attending the 9:30 am children’s
Mass with Father Larry.

A form with instructions arrives via US mail this morning from Direct TV.
I waste little time in filling out the form, then visit a nearby business
where Carol lets me make a copy of my vehicle registration to confirm our
owning a motorhome where we will be using the DNS (distant network
service)along with their regular service.

After 1:00pm, I call my cousin Bernie & ask if he would like to have a
couple of visitors this afternoon? “Come on down” he says, “your timing is
good as Rita is here too.” For the next 3 hrs, we are entertained by
Bernie plus his sisters Ethel & Rita.

As I was talking with Bernie, I couldn’t help noticing a picture on the
wall behind him of a beautiful winter scene. Strange though, the
rectangular framed picture appeared to have wrinkles or seemed a bit wavy
to me. Being alert to my staring, Bernie finally said: “How do you like
my picture? It’s my idea, I call it Popcorn Art!” He literally has taken a
large popcorn can that had pictures painted on the side, cut the bottom
section away, straightened out the rest & mounted it in his own homemade
frame. He had 6 or more of this popcorn art hung throughout the house. We
thought they were quite creative & attractive.

7:06 dinner: Italian sausage, whole wheat noodles, spaghetti sauce, mixed
salad & toast.

After the dishes are washed & dried, we watch 2 videos from Bernie’s
collection: “More Than Just Our Daily Bread,” the story of the Gristmill @
Saint Vincent’s College in Latrobe, PA & the making of unleavened bread &
other good breads. Next film: “How a Car Is Built.” From start to finish,
a 1995 Ford Mustang is followed through the production line @ the factory.
Both films were quite interesting.

High today: 46 Lights out: 10:10pm

Awake: 5:28am Temp 33 Some clouds….then sunshine Overnight @ Nicktown

Drive to the community center, again we exercise for 40 min before
attending 8:00am Mass. We join the sober coffee gang for 45 min. No update
yet on Al’s mom, Viola.

After breakfast, Kathy takes off for Indiana to do the Footes weekly
laundry, some grocery shopping & then casual visiting. She returns @

Today’s a nicer day than yesterday……the clouds have dissipated & the sun
is shining. @ 1:30pm, it’s 45 degrees & I am restless. It’s been awhile
since I’ve walked our property so I take about 45 min & cover all 7
acres…..I like what I see.

Next, I look the bus over carefully for areas I might have missed during
yesterday’s wash job. Then out comes the telescoping ladder, climb up on
the roof & clean the satellite bubble, clean the west side living room
windows, clean the entire slide tops off & then oil the ladder. “Enough
for today” I say.

Inside the bus, I check our computer & discover a surprising but very
professional e-mail from Gary & Grace. I am anxious to have Kathy take a
look at what they have sent.

7:00 pm dinner: Creamy white chicken chili with whole wheat noodles & toast.

Evening time: more computer usage.

High today: 48 Lights out: 10:32pm

Awake: 6:05am Temp 51 Mostly cloudy Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Drive to the community center, exercise for 40 min & then attend 8:00 am
Mass. Afterwards, we join the troubled coffee group for an hr of uneasy
conversation. It had just been announced this morning that Al’s mother has
had a massive brain aneurism & been taken to the Altoona hospital (45
min). So of course, Al & Donna & a few other regular attendees are absent.

After breakfast I notice the temp outside has risen to 52 degrees with a
light wind. Kathy has 2 laundry loads ready to wash & I am ready to do
something outside for a change. The water filter in our coach that 1st
screens any residue from an outside source hasn’t been changed for quite a
while…..so I take the time to remove the old filter, clean the canister &
then insert a new filter. For over 2 yrs now, I have used a portable
homemade pre-filter arrangement with 2 filters of 5 microns each. All
total, using the pre-filters, our water is screened thru 6 different
filters before we drink it, use it for cooking, washing, laundry, etc.

The weather today is not too shabby & I am feeling good. With a little
sunshine peeking thru the clouds now & then…. I decide to wash the
motorhome as best I can with the time I have before dark. I am tired of
brushing up against the sides & getting my clothes dirty so for the next
3.5 hrs, I spray water across a large section & then spray the soapy Glass
Plus solution over the same area, followed with vigorous brush action,
then the rinsing.

It actually cleaned up pretty well for the effort & time I gave it. My
water hose was limited so 95% was the best I could do….besides, I was
getting wet from the wind blowing spray my way & beginning to feel the

After that, I toped off our motor home’s fresh water tank & detached the
pre-filters & stored both hose & filters in a heated basement unit.

During my outside time, Kathy also did some house cleaning, and some cooking.

5:50 dinner: Kathy’s homemade crab cakes with brown & wild rice pilaf,
mixed salad & toast.

High temp today: 52 Lights out: 10:39pm

Awake: 5:43am Temp 30 Cloudy Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

We attend 8:00 am Mass here in Nicktown……after we used hot water to clear
our windshield of ice, we drove to the church. Kathy does not like the way
the young man plays the music for the Saturday vigil & Sunday 8:00am
Masses. So next week, we’ll attend the 10:30am Mass & give that a try.

There is a breakfast down @ the church hall this morning & it’s been a
long time since I've attended one of these….so this morning we join a few
of my cousins & talk while having something to eat. It’s a nice gathering
but…..this breakfast was not a very healthy meal for us.

When taking off my titanium reading glasses around noon time, the metal
frames literally snapped in half on the bridge section between the nose
pads. I couldn’t believe it! Maybe the titanium was used only around the
eye glasses? I use these glasses a lot so with Kathy’s help we wind some
copper wire around the bridge section for extra strength & support & then
solder that section back together. It seems to be “ok” again.

Today I start catching up on making phone calls: Cousin Cyril in Maryland;
Denise & Mike in Florida; my Sister Mary Jo in CA; our uncle Harvey & Aunt
Robin in Florida. Then we call Melissa & get the daily update report of:
“how goes it.” They are busy but making progress.

High today 39 Lights out: 10:15pm

Awake: 6:30am Temp 20 Snow flurries Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

We visit the Footes in Indiana, arriving @ 10:10am. I agreed to help Kevin
with a minor plumbing project which I estimated should have taken less
than an hr…… turns out it took twice that time. We shut the main water off
@ the source, then drained sinks, showers, etc., but we still had a little
water dripping into the pipes to be soldered. After a few head scratches
we finally found the hidden & forgotten shower….then our soldering job was
finished within 10 min.

I spend some time playing with Matthew while Kathy holds Andrew & talks
with Melissa.

Dinner with the Footes: Lasagna & Caesar salad.

Back to our bus in Nicktown @ 6:50pm.

Gary & Grace call from Landenberg, PA. We talk for over an hr about the
swept wing top secret project & other miscellaneous items. It was great
hearing from them.

Lights out: 10:31pm

Awake: 7:05am Temp 28 Cloudy with snow flurries Overnight @
Nicktown, PA.

Mid morning, Kathy’s kitchen is humming again; this time it’s a good sized
Lasagna dish & the dressing and lettuce for Caesar salad + baked
chocolate/peanut butter cookies for dessert. The Caesar salad will be made
fresh tomorrow morning however.

@ 10:10am I visit our post office & pick up our mail that was forwarded
from Alaska. Besides getting our Alaska mail, I’ve been expecting a
package from Barnes & Noble of West Pittsburgh containing my 2006 Desk
Journal & it hasn’t arrived yet. Not that I am the impatient one but that
was 2 days ago…that B & N is only 80 miles from here. Anyway, I make a
phone call to that B & N & ask: “Did you ship my journal?” The lady
suggested that I call back after lunch as the shipping clerk is out to
lunch. Shortly after I hang up…..our door bell rings: the UPS man delivers
my 2006 Desk Journal.

Today’s kitchen time for Kathy: 9 hrs. She tells me that when she makes
more than one meal @ a time, she has to clean up the used bowls, pots,
pans, etc in order to have them available to use on the next cooking
project as well as to have a little more counter room & that takes extra

7:00 dinner: Leftover meatloaf, mashed potatoes & gravy, spinach salad &

Evening time: Kathy’s turn on the computer, I read.

High temp 29 Lights out: 11:07pm

Awake: 5:05am Temp 39 Cloudy Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Kathy’s apparently overcome her sluggishness of yesterday because: this
morning, she’s not only making a dinner meal for the Foote Family with a
share for us, but also a French toast & bacon breakfast for us to eat now.

It’s a sight to behold: cooking equipment all neatly balanced upon the
galley counter top, pots, pans, special devices, etc. This galley does
not have all usable counter space by any means; ….the Gaggenau cook stove
for example, when in use, the 2 burner area which has a cover, cannot be
used until the stove cools. Likewise, the sink also has a cover but not
useable for storing cooking equipment if one needs to run water for any
reason. So Kathy’s careful & coordinated maneuvering is a must during
these challenging times. Also, my careful & coordinated maneuvering when
passing her is a test of early morning skills.

When the meals are finished & breakfast eaten, we take the cooked meal
with us & visit the Footes, spend a little time with Matthew, gather up
the bed sheets from the upstairs bedrooms our kids used during the
holidays plus towels and other laundry & take all to a nearby launderette
where we stuff all into a triple loader washing machine.

While that’s happening, we slip away to Wal-Mart for a few more
groceries…then back to finish drying the laundry & back to the Foote house
for 2 more hrs of visiting + playing with Matthew.

Fuel prices suddenly jumped 10 cents for all service stations in
Indiana…..so we continue past Nicktown & fuel up in North, Northern
Cambria. Their fuel price also jumped up 10 cents to $2.39 per gallon so
it was a needless effort. Back to our bus @ 5:30pm.

7:05 dinner: Hot chicken salad, broccoli, spinach salad & toast.

Evening time: Computer time. Lights out: 11:22pm

Awake: 6:45am Temp 36 Cloudy Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

We both slept a little better than we did Tuesday night. However, we don’t
feel very energetic and will content ourselves with activities around &
inside our bus today.

About noon time & after months of soul searching, I decide we should sign
up for satellite Direct TV service in our motorhome. This phone call takes
close to an hr….1st with Carla in the Philippines who spoke very good
English, then Jessica in Idaho. It will be close to a week before we have
our access cards however.

Next I get brave, go outside & connect a few hoses & filters to refill our
161 gallon pure water tank in our motorhome. Including a few other chores,
this also takes close to an hr. The wind chill factor was getting my

Kathy tells me she’s done little today…..just some novel reading & recipe
scrutinizing.... & I add: another terrific dinner.

7:30pm dinner: Pork chops, cooked apples, whole wheat noodles, spinach
salad & toast.

High temp: 43 Lights out: 11:22pm

Awake: 5:50am Temp 36 Cloudy Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Today we had planned on visiting the Footes & delivering the groceries
they requested from some of our shopping yesterday. Kathy also had
volunteered to do their laundry.

However, my night was bad news: up every hr…swallowing, nose blowing,
sweating, drinking water, bathroom, etc. Yuk! I don't want to travel
outside today.

Kathy on the other hand, started taking the teachers medicine (Airborne)
every 3-5 hours as soon as her throat began feeling a tickle…so far, she
is holding off the symptoms. Since she is feeling ok, I encourage her to
take the groceries to the Footes & do their laundry as planned. I’ll just
stay in the bus & be a wimp. This is twice now that I have caught a bug
all within 2 weeks. Matthew has had a runny nose….Katrina, Zack & Nick
were all infected with this similar bug….also Kevin. Eriko had a small one
day dose of the stomach flu & then she recovered. It was difficult to
avoid these bugs. Just maybe, that teachers medicine, Airborne, has some
valalidity! Kathy returns @ 4:30pm.

7:00pm dinner: Meatloaf, baked potato with gravy, broccoli & toast.

Evening time: we both watch the FedEx sponsored Orange Bowl game but…..our
eyes begin to close before the finish.

High temp: 37 Lights out: 11:27pm

Awake: @ 5:30am Temp 35 Gentle rain all day Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

My throat hurts……it hurt a little yesterday before leaving for Indiana &
Pittsburgh….so now I am bracing myself for a cold. We planned on doing a
little shopping today so I’ll have to be tough. Our shopping time @ 7
stores total 4.5 hrs which includes travel time. We return to the bus @

I am not feeling so hot…..as a matter of fact, I am cold so I lie down &
use the heating pad to warm up.

7:15 dinner: Ivar’s clam chowder, spinach salad & toast.

My nurse tries to comfort my uncomfortableness…..but the throat is very
sore. I have a good idea where this latest bug came from…. & that guy is
feeling much better now! I am glad for that however, cause I love him a


Awake: 4:20am Temp 32 Mostly cloudy Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Kathy makes the sourdough batter this morning to take to the Foote
household & make sourdough pancakes for the gang. We drive to Indiana &
drop Kathy off @ the Foote home. I pick up Katrina, her Christmas
presents, & luggage & we leave for the Pittsburgh airport @ 5:45am. Her
flight is scheduled to @ 8:50am. We arrive @ the terminal @ 7:10. We say
our goodbyes & bon voyage then I begin returning to Indiana. About 30 min
on the road, I notice my cell phone light blinking……it’s Katrina. She
reports her flight had been cancelled due to a snow storm in Chicago & she
will be flying to Orlando on US Airways, then United to Denver, arriving 6
hrs later than scheduled. Dang! Had we known that earlier, the early
morning drive could have been avoided.

I call Kathy @ the Foote house….she is riding with Kevin & the boys +
Eriko to the Trail-Ways bus stop & would like me to pick her up from there
en route. I arrive @ 9:30, just in time for more hugs & goodbyes for the
gang before they board the bus @ 9:35 for the Pittsburgh airport. It was
really special that everyone had the opportunity to visit & see little
Andrew before they left for their respective hangouts in Denver & Seattle.

Back @ the Foote house, Kathy serves some sourdough pancakes with bacon
that she saved for my breakfast. When Kevin returns from church with
Matthew around 11:00am, we get to baby-sit for over 3 hrs while Kevin goes
to the regional hospital to visit with Melissa & Andrew….then sign papers
for her release later today.

Baby-sitting Matthew was great: we took turns playing with him & his toys,
etc. When Kevin returned @ 2:40pm, he took Matthew back to the hospital to
pick up Melissa & Andrew, and bring them back to their home….family style.
K & I elect to return to our bus in Nicktown & let the Footes enjoy being
together again as just “their new family.”

High temp: 33 Lights out: 10:15pm

Awake: 2:30am…then again @ 6:30am Temp 33 Rain Overnight @
Nicktown, PA.

Melissa calls us @ 2:30am to let us know “her water broke!” She doesn’t
plan on going to the hospital for another 3 or 4 hrs & we don’t need to
come over to their place yet. Melissa says she will wake Katrina and have
her tend to Matthew. Both of us had difficulty getting back to sleep after
her call……wondering “how goes it?”
The next call is from Kevin who announces: Andrew was born @ 6:37am, is 19
inches long & weighs 7 lbs 15 oz. Mother & son are doing just fine.

We are 1st on the scene @ 9:00am & take pictures. Andrew seems quite
content to be lying near his mommy but Kathy & I do wash our hands & take
turns holding him.....& he remains content.

Next we drive to the Foote house (5 min) & give the kids an update on
“what’s happening.” Katrina has done a good job of sleeping with &
babysitting Matthew during his mother’s absence. Kevin takes Matthew to
the hospital to see his little brother and have some family time. After
about an hour, Kathy drives the kids to the hospital so they can visit,
see, & hold their new nephew before they leave tomorrow to return to their
respective hangouts.

When Kathy brings the kids back to the Foote house, we parents attend
5:00pm Mass @ St. Thomas More church nearby which was very crowded.

Before dinner we all toast in the New Year, knowing we won’t be awake to
usher in 2006 at midnight. 2005 has been a great year, bringing good
changes for all of us.

7:00pm dinner: Leftover spaghetti with meatballs & coleslaw. I begin
saying my goodbyes to our kids & Eriko. Katrina needs a ride early morning
(5:30a.m.) to the Pittsburgh airport & I doubt that I’ll be back in time
to see them before they leave.

Back to the bus @ 9:10pm Lights out: 10:12pm

Awake: 6:20am Temp 32 Cloudy + light snow showers Overnight @
Nicktown, PA.

Drive to our local church for 8:00am Mass……then join the distinct coffee
club meeting afterward.

After breakfast, we drive to Indiana & do some light shopping @ Wal-Mart
before arriving @ the Footes @ 2:30pm. Upon entering the house, we see
Kevin & Nick working on a tear down project of (2) bathrooms that used to
be one…..that Kevin will be returning back to one. A lot of work remains
but there was some progress today.

Katrina & Zack are @ the Mall seeing a movie. Melissa & Matthew were
downstairs waiting for our arrival. I take time to play with Matthew & his
toys which lasted about 20 min & then Kevin wanted my opinion on water
pipes upstairs & down in the basement.

We invited Matthew to join us because he is so energetic about anything to
do with mechanical stuff, but it was to our disadvantage because of the
need for keeping a sharp eye on this young man in foreign territory.

A little later, Kevin tries his newly found skill with soldering a nicked
water pipe upstairs……which was leaking. Soldering a copper pipe that is
holding water is somewhat of a losing battle he found out.

I brought my dell computer along today so Nick could set up the RSS program.

5:30 dinner: Sloppy Joes with toasted buns & Kathy’s coleslaw. After
dinner, Kathy & I ask questions to each of our kids & their respective
spouses about their future goals, higher education, flexibility in
relocating, buying a home or condo choice & for the single kids, what are
you looking for in a prospective spouse? It was an interesting &
worthwhile discussion that lasted for nearly an hr…….then our kids
reversed the trend & began to ask us parents some questions!

Back to our bus @ 9:00pm Lights out: 10:16pm

Awake: 6:00am Temp 39 Light rain Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

@ 10:00am, I call Al’s firewood service about “more wood.” He says: “come
& get it!” I make a post office pick up, a trash drop off & then a
firewood fill up. When returning to our bus, Kathy is talking with my
Sister Corinne in Maryland. I make my apologies & wish her a “Merry
Christmas.” With our schedule of visiting our kids @ the Footes daily,
our timing for calling her was tough.

Drive to Indiana arriving @ 12:25pm. Kids are all having lunch now which
is good & this was the plan. Another plan I had in mind today was to give
Kevin a lesson in soldering copper tubing so I take 20 min out of my busy
schedule to do that.

Next, using the Foote 1984 Diesel Ford van, all of us except the Footes
motor close to the town of Alverda (25 min) & visit my cousins Florentz &
Anna. It’s been nearly 10 yrs since our boys have seen F & A. When we
arrive, both F & A are busy setting up a snack tray & getting out wine
glasses & the home made wine. Then we are led into their new addition
family room where we sit & talk for awhile……which seemed like a long time.
It was like Florentz would mention he was going to serve wine & then he
would distract us & do something else. Finally we are led back into the
kitchen…….just as he was beginning to pour his Dandelion wine, the Ken &
Theresa family arrive minus the 2 eldest daughters. Our family probably
spent more time with the Ken & Theresa kids than any of the other Florentz
& Anna offspring. Ken’s sister Joyce also came with them. We all stayed in
their country kitchen & munched on healthy snacks & drank some of
Florentz’s good homemade wine. Zack, our more refined connoisseur of fine
wines, really enjoyed the Dandelion over the mixed 1997 bottle of Concord
grape. The bottle from their son Jake was equally as good as the Dandelion
but I don't remember what he called it. Our boys also enjoyed Florentz &
his poems + humor & we all certainly enjoyed seeing Ken & Theresa & their
2 youngest children, Veronica & Zane, again. Back to the Footes @ 5:25pm.

We arrived too late to eat dinner with the Footes & since we had snacked
pretty heavily over @ F & A’s, we elected to eat later after our appetite

7:30 dinner: Spaghetti with meatballs & Kathy’s homemade coleslaw.

High temp: Low 40’s Lights out: 10:40pm

Awake: 6:31am Temp 39 Cloudy Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Our phone rings close to 7:00am….Gary C. left a message yesterday that
indicated he & Rosemary would prefer to visit the Footes during the
morning in lieu of the afternoon. So I confer to Gary that his request is
confirmed & the Footes & our kids are expecting alll of us around 10:00am.

@ 9:00am Gary & Rosemary arrive @ our bus. We talk for 25 min inside, then
caravan out to Indiana & the Foote residence. Kevin gives G & R a nice
tour of their 1921 home & then we sit & talk in the warm living room. Our
boys haven’t seen G & R for a few yrs so both sides have questions. Gary &
Rosemary are having company for dinner later this afternoon so they leave
around noon time.

Eriko, who has been bug free since her arrival into the Foote atmosphere
Dec 22nd, is now feeling a little uneasy. She doesn’t complain about it,
she just wants to caution us.

Melissa & Matthew’s nap time is usually between 1:00 & 2:00pm each day &
if any family games are to be played, these time periods are recommended.
So with my encouragement, we start another game of “Stare” using the team
concept. We had a good start on the game that nobody favors except
me……until Matthew decides a short nap is ok for him today….them suddenly,
he is downstairs & our game is over.

5:30 dinner: Lots of leftovers: Cranberry pork chops, rice, mashed
potatoes with gravy, turkey, cranberry sauce, chili & rolls.

Back to our bus @ 8:05pm High today: 47 Lights out: 10:27pm

Awake: 6:05am Temp 28 Overcast Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

1st thing this morning, Kathy gets busy making an Italian Vegetable Bowl
stew to put in the crock-pot for later today….then she drives off @ 8:05
for a follow up on her annual physical checkup @ the doctor’s office in
Ebensburg. She returns @ 9:35. Then we take turns shoveling snow to make
our paths better for our kids visit.

We drive to Indiana arriving @ 12:15pm. My plan was to have Cyrus tour us
through the Cherry Hill Manufacturing & “U” Sand Companies @ 1:30pm
but…..there must have been a failure to communicate as none of our kids
were even close to being ready. No one had eaten lunch yet…Zack & Katrina
were both lying down & Nick was off shopping with Kevin. I made a phone
call to Cyrus’s secretary that we would be arriving @ 2:30 in lieu of

Cyrus greets us upon entering the lobby…..fantastic inlayed flooring
patterns throughout the lobby & their business offices. He describes
different woods from all around the world being used for these inlays. We
see the laser cutter & computer images that Harry uses to create the many
varieties of wood inlay patterns. Next we enter the “U” Sand assembly
portion of the factory. This machine uses a 4 orbital action sanding
method for sanding floors with a collector that catches 98% of the dust.
They have been selling these machines since 1997. Our tour lasted 1.5
hrs….we thank Cyrus for his time & good touring & then drive on to
Nicktown (35 min).

Saint Paul street & our circular drive to our motorhome is still not
suitable for the rear wheel drive Ford van……too much snow, so I park on
St. Joseph street & we walk to the bus. After Kathy gives Eriko an inside
tour of our home-on-wheels, I give the gang a 750 picture slide show on
the 42 inch plasma TV of our 62 day Asian Pacific cruise. Nobody fell
asleep & the kids did give us a sitting ovation…..which was kind of them.
That act of kindness encouraged Kathy to feed them the Italian Vegetable
Bowl stew with bread that she had made earlier this morning.

Hold on, we’re not finished yet! Now we leave the warm & cozy bus, walk
back to the cold Ford van & drive up to Ebensburg (20 min) to join my
brother Don & wife Josie, their eldest daughter Adrienne & husband Les,
youngest daughter Kelly Jo & husband Dave & their children Ryan, Kaelyn &
Jordan. Kelly Jo & family live in Maryland & Adrienne & Les live in South
Carolina so we don’t get to see them very often & they don’t get to see
our children very often. We introduce our family to them & vise-versa.

We play the “White Elephant” or Chinese Auction game that Josie put
together & that was fun…..later, we are invited upstairs for some yummy
desserts & more fun talk. It was a wonderful rendezvous. We leave @
11:00pm…..drive back to Indiana, switch vehicles & drive our Suzuki back
to the bus @ 12:05am.

High temp: 33 Lights out: 12:35am

Awake: 5:15am Temp 33 Snow showers Overnight @ Nicktown, PA.

Drive over to Al’s place & buy another small load of firewood…..then to
Indiana we go for shopping @ Wal-Mart & to spend time with our family @
the Foote home.

Today we see Zack slowly moving about & mixing with the family. Katrina’s
throat is not so sore but her stuffy nose lingers. The remainder of our
family appears to be in fairly good health…..we think. Sometimes when we
arrive @ the Foote home, we would rather keep our distance from these
walking talking bug distributors.

Mid afternoon, we play a new family game called: “Stare.” You can play in
teams or be an individual player. To start, one gets 20 seconds to stare @
a card loaded with a picture of anything & everything with a lot of
detail, then your opponents ask a question from the back of that card
pertaining to what might be on the picture. We played for about 40 min. &
I was the only one who liked this game. I thought it was a good
observation & memory test.

Later, the big tough guys (Nick & Zack) helped Kevin move the extremely
heavy cast iron 4 ft tub from the 2nd story bathroom to the backyard for
disposal. It was all downhill but that didn’t make it any easier.

5:40pm dinner: Cranberry pork chops, rice, rolls & salad.

After dinner, we play another new family game: “Loaded Question.” It was
fun tho I didn’t care for this as much as the game of “Stare” but the rest
of our family enjoyed it and liked it better than “Stare.”

Back to our bus around 9:30 Lights out: 11:39pm


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