January 2008 Archives

Awake: 6:28am Temp 46 sleep 5+48 clouds & windy overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

Kathy does (4) loads of laundry this morning. I make a call to the Saddle West RV dept & find out our mail has arrived from Alaska.

It’s that time of the year again: so much mail; we are consumed for the rest of the afternoon with necessary “stuff for taxes”, “stuff for our AARP Medicare Rx Saver plan & Rx Preferred plan” & other items of interest. The day was perfect for scrutinizing these manuals, papers & bulletins: cool & windy on the outside, warm & cozy with classical music on the inside.

Dinner: Knackwurst, cheesy mashed potatoes, green beans & (4) bean salad.

DVR movie: “Sister Kenny” with Rosalind Russell, Alexander Knox, Dean Jagger, Philip Merivale, Beulah Bondi, etc. Russell shines in title role as Australian nurse who initiated treatment for polio. Engrossing drama is among the better Hollywood biopics. 1946. Based on a true story; Goggle backed us up with even more detail of this lady. Nurse Kathy was so much more alert tonight with this story.

High temp=50 Lights out: 12:09am

Awake: 6:00am Temp 50 sleep 6+55 rain overnight @ Pahrump, NV.
Kathy makes her famous sourdough pancake breakfast with eggs, bacon & maple syrup.

Again we visit more model homes & add more items to our list of good ideas. One thing we appreciated during our tours of these homes: mostly the office personal would give us a floor plan brochure, point out a few things that were really special in the house & then let us wander & roam on our own. This way, we were able to get an idea of different room sizes, ceiling heights, hallway widths, closet placement, different showers, etc. We were quite satisfied with our time spent doing this.

Dinner: Taco seasoned chicken with onions, peppers, & tomatoes, whole wheat noodles & a mixed salad.

DVR movie: “Fanny & Alexander” with Pernilla Allwin, Bertil Guve, Gunn Wallgren, Allan Edwall, etc. Haunting, engrossing autobiographical family saga set in turn-of-the-century Sweden; a summing up of Director Bergman’s career; scenes of joy, exuberance, pain, torment, exquisitely expressed & largely seen through the eyes of a young boy. 1983. A very complex, long (over 3 hrs), & slow moving story in Swedish with English subtitles…. which Kathy struggled thru with dignity & charm until she realized the movie was only 30 % over; her Pennsylvania time schedule took precedence & the Temprapedic bed won out. I watched it all in awe; what a movie! Not recommended for the faint of heart.

High temp=60 Lights out: 12:40am

Awake: 5:05am Temp 37 sleep 6+03 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

This morning was Kathy’s time to exercise….. her jaw. She called her friend Jodi in Memphis, TN; my sister Corinne in Lilly, PA & then Melissa in Indiana, PA. These were not quick calls by any means; later my other sister, Mary Jo from Lodi, CA calls & we share the time on that call. I was lucky to get (1) call in to John B. in Nicktown, PA.

During the afternoon, K & I visit some model homes on Winery Road in Pahrump to further our pursuit of the latest fashions in floor plans. We were impressed with some of the high tech entertainment systems & their main routing panel; the shower without a door with no step to trip over; the tile walkways around the carpet areas, the high ceilings & conversation corners, the use of pex water lines & the main panel for troubleshooting, etc. These sort of things gave us something to think about.

We leave the model home area shortly after 3:30, do a little grocery shopping @ Wal-Mart & then attend Mass @ Our Lady of the Valley Catholic church. En route to our motorhome, we stop @ Smith’s grocery store for a few more items.

Dinner: Chicken & turkey meat balls with spaghetti sauce, whole wheat noodles & whole grain bread.

Evening DVR movie: “Ninotchka” with Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire, Bela Lugosi, Sig Ruman, etc. Amid much outdated sociological banter, a lighthearted Garbo still shines. This comedy pegged on tale of cold Russian agent Garbo coming to Paris & falling in love with gay-blade Douglas. 1939. Garbo was very, very good with her stoic Russian portrayal; I laughed a lot, you’ve got to see it. Kathy missed most of it.

High temp=55 Lights out: 11:05pm

Awake: 5:27am Temp 45 sleep 6+27 sunny & windy overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

Early morning, we call & talk a little with Matthew & Andrew; then Kathy talks about 30 min with Melissa. Matthew continues to fight getting his insulin shots from Melissa.

Kathy spends over (3) hrs on home designing & ideas while I take a break & read the AARP bulletin & Family Motor Coaching magazine + work a few crossword puzzles & get some computer time.

Dinner: Pork chops, whole wheat noodles with cinnamon applesauce & a mixed salad.

We watch the recorded “O’Reilly Factor” & ABC Nat’l news.

DVR movie: “Sueno” with John Leguizano, Elizabeth Pena, Ana Claudia Talancon, etc.
John Leguizamo stars in this Latin musical as Antonio, a very talented young musician from Mexico, pursuing his dream of becoming a singer in Los Angeles. Consistently thwarted by constant rejection, he's about to give up when his manager, El Zorro, an eclectic and colorful radio personality, convinces him to enter a local radio sponsored Latino singing competition.

At the same time, he finds himself involved in a romantic triangle with two very different women, a neighbor in her 40s (Peña) and a young veterinary student (Talancon). The vibrant on-screen musical performances incorporate the eclectic vibes of Rock En Español, Latin Electronica, Punk and Rap with the smooth sounds of old school Bolero. 2005. Kathy wasn’t too attentive to this movie and its English subtitles, even tho she speaks the Spanish language a little. On the other hand, I could have skipped listening to the Punk & Rap. Not recommended for sleepy suspects.

Lights out: 11:02pm

Awake: 6:05am Temp 46 sleep 6+30 overnight rain, then partly cloudy Pahrump, NV.

Matthew calls & talks briefly with both Kathy & me. I think he is missing his grandma.

Mid morning, we drive & shop @ Wal-Mart. We have been searching for a small vacuum cleaner ever since we’ve owned this motorhome; our other coach had central vacuum.
The other week, Gary & Rosemary told us about their new vacuum purchase for their home on wheels. Today we scrutinize a similiar model & make a decision to purchase the Pet Dust Buster.
Back @ our coach, I get busy & remove the old Cadet Heater from underneath the computer desk, rewire the new replacement heater & do the reinstallation. The testing is successful so now Kathy has her fireplace again.

Then Kathy gets out the Dust Buster & cleans some of the living room, the kitchen, bedroom & bathroom. Not to be left out, I finish cleaning the living room & entry steps. We both agree that this small vacuum should work ok for us. It’s a very small unit & one needs to spend some time on hands & knees to do the job right. Good work G & R.

Kathy spends hrs looking @ her house plans & ideas; then she calls Melissa in PA to make a nurse check on Matthew’s condition.

I wanted to surprise my friend Ray & call him for his birthday; well, when his wife Sharon answers the call, she tells me it’s not his birthday; “it is tomorrow” she says. Ray & I talked anyway.

I recorded the O’Reilly Factor which we watched after dinner; during dinner we watched the ABC news.

Dinner: Tilapia fish, broccoli & cauliflower in cheese sauce, baked potato & spinach salad.

Evening DVR movie: “Fugitive” with Henry Fonda, Dolores Del Rio, Pedro Armendariz, J. Carrol Naish, Leo Carrillo, etc. Brooding drama set in Mexico with revolutionist priest turned in by the man who once sheltered him. Superbly shot by Gabriel Figueroa. 1947.
Another goof by Monte’s poor selection; Kathy’s body clock has not been reset yet!

High temp=50 Lights out: 11:00pm

Awake: 6:43am Temp 35 sleep 6+07 partly sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

Zack calls from Seattle @ 11:20am. KT reports to Zack that while driving his car the rear section of the car makes thumping noises riding on smooth roads. I ask Zack if it might be my old fan bouncing around in his trunk. Slight giggles follow & then I suggest that he push the back side of the car from side to side checking for a loose wheel; then to push down on each side of the trunk & check for a bad shock. By this time, another fellow appeared on the scene & helped Zack follow thru with the procedure. Nothing unusual was found @ this time but they agree to keep monitoring the situation.

@ 1:15pm I call Saddle West & check for my anticipated package from Newell. “Yes,” the lady told me; “You have a big package waiting over here.” I drive the Suzuki, pick up the replacement Cadet Heater & bring it inside our motorhome.

Next, I walk over to Smith’s grocery store & buy some milk for Kathy’s return.

Then I leave @ 4:50pm for the Las Vegas McCarran Airport to pick up Nurse Kathy; driving down from Spring Mountain towards the Las Vegas valley late this afternoon at this time of year is fantastic; the lights are absolutely spectacular. My arrival time (6:00pm) was earlier than I planned so I select long term parking in the event her flight is delayed; walk to the baggage area & casually observe the aisle that the monitor read for baggage claim. By golly, she was right on schedule & our eyes found each other with little effort.

On the return trip to Pahrump, Kathy talked a mile a minute. She was like a head nurse reporting to the attractive doctor & had only a few minutes to do so. Back @ our coach, we have a cold leftover meatloaf sandwich on whole wheat bread, then sit & talk casually some more before having popcorn while watching the DVR movie: “Disraeli” with George Arliss, Joan Bennett, Florence Arliss, Anthony Bushell, etc. Somewhat stagy but effective vehicle for Arliss, who won Oscar as cunning British prime minister…a great statesman, devoted husband & matchmaker (for Bennett & Bushell). 1929. Not a good choice for Kathy…..she was all wound up until this rather slow but somewhat interesting story took too long to unfold; plus she’s into her 15 hours of being awake since her 6:00am wakeup @ the Foote home. There is a message here: don’t even think of watching this movie unless you’re wide awake.

High temp=51 Lights out: 11:35pm

Awake: 6:06am Temp 47 sleep 5+53 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

My brother Don calls @ 10:15am Pacific Time; we cover a number of topics: Matthew’s diabetes; Don’s (87) yr old mother-in-law coming to live with them; Don & Josie’s plans for a West Coast tandem bike trip from Vancouver, Canada to Long Beach, CA. late this summer; & other short topics. We haven’t talked since the 26th of December in PA. It was a good call.

I talk with a Sprint agent again & reveal my dilemma of not being able to log onto my online Sprint account; the young lady takes some time, checks out my past struggles & then informs me that she will have to have my account resubmitted to the security customer support that may take (2) or (3) days.

During my idle time, I have decided to casually work on the broken filter canister; I enjoy having a challenge.

Katrina calls en route to a school meeting; another person I haven’t talked with since saying bon Voyage to on January 3rd in Detroit. We have quite a chat until she arrives @ her destination; we both have more to talk about so she agreed to call me back after her meeting; sure enough, another good chat while she motors to her next destination: a dinner with a group of friends, then afterwards, joining those friends for dance class lessons. One of the girls has signed up & invited the rest of them to join her. No question about it, Katrina is enjoying Denver & all that Denver has to offer to the young & single groups & more.

My dinner: Knackwurst, chicken & turkey meat balls, green beans, whole wheat bread, leftover corn off the cob & leftover mashed potatoes & gravy.

Kathy calls @ 6:47pm Pacific Time. We talk about 45 min; mostly a wrap up of thoughts, ideas & experiences that Kathy related to me, encompassing a lot of the highlights (good or not so good) of her time spent with the Foote family. In a way, I think she was somewhat perplexed in her leaving Melissa with still of lot of unfinished organization to do. “Her bags are packed tho & she is looking forward to coming back to continue her retirement & join me” says she.

Late DVR movie: “Queen Christina” with Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Ian Keith, Lewis Stone, etc. Probably Garbo’s best film; with a haunting performance by the radiant star as 17th-century Swedish queen who relinquishes her throne for her lover, Gilbert. Garbo & Gilbert’s love scenes together are truly memorable, as is the famous final shot. 1933. Those love scenes are more loving than most of the modern ones today, that’s for sure. You don’t want to miss this movie.

High temp=54 Lights out: 12:36

Awake: 5:37am Temp 41 sleep 5+30 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

With all due respect, the new Nescafe Excella coffee that Nick & Eriko gave me for Christmas tastes dramatically different. Months ago, Nick warned me that I might not like it & sure enough, it’s like a different brand altogether, even tho it goes by the same name. The taste is weak, so I use (4) teaspoons in lieu of (3); it doesn’t mix well which requires plenty of stirring & for whatever reason; it’s not the coffee that I’ve been enjoying so much for (10) yrs plus. Sorry guys; I do appreciate the extra effort & I will drink this other formula nevertheless; waste not, want not, my mother used to say.

Our living room electric Cadet Heater has gone kaput. Since Kathy has yet to return, this is a good time to do some troubleshooting. Using my favorite Fluke meter, I find the heat sensor bad; then call & talk with Roger @ the Newell factory. I thought he might simply mail a new heat sensor so I could easily make the repair; “No” says Roger. “We will send a complete new unit & the wiring you can take care of” he responds. “I’ll be watching for that delivery” I tell him. When Kathy gets the chills, she often uses the Cadet Heater like a fireplace & sits right next to it; then she warmed up & happy again.

Southwest Airlines sent me a nice e-mail this morning saying that a lovely young lady will be leaving Pittsburgh Wednesday around 4:40pm; arriving Las Vegas early evening; I think that might be Kathy!

Dinner: Tuna steak, green beans, mixed salad & whole wheat bread.

Kathy calls @ 7:38pm Pacific time; “Billie Anne & Jason left this morning for D.C. & they have been very helpful during their short stay” Kathy says. I tell her about the nice e-mail I had from Southwest this morning; then ask her if she & Melissa are both comfortable with her leaving Wednesday; “well, says Melissa, she would like to have me stay another couple of months but she also realizes that she needs to coordinate & do all these things by herself eventually anyway.” Kathy & I both agree that Melissa is a tough daughter.

Late DVR movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” with Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett, etc. Excellent adaptation of B. Traven’s tale of gold, greed & human nature @ its worst, with Bogart, Huston & Holt as unlikely trio of prospectors. Holt Huston won Oscars for Best Direction & Screenplay & his father Walter won as Best Supporting Actor. 1948. This movie will keep your eyes glued to the TV screen without a doubt.

High temp=51 Lights out: 12:47

Awake: 6:36am Temp 30 sleep 7+14 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

During the making & eating of my hot breakfast, I watch “Meet the Press” & afterwards, doing the dishes, I watch: “George Stephanopoulos” on politics & analysis. Usually this is Kathy’s
Sunday morning character while I casually listen & take a peek now & then; but now, the political arena is getting more exciting & has my attention.

During the afternoon, I spend time with photos on our hard drive in a weak attempt to have them more organized.

My dinner: leftover meatloaf, leftover mashed potatoes & gravy + corn off the cob.

DVR movie with popcorn: “Magnificent Obsession” with Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, Otto Kruger, Agnes Moorehead, etc. Story about a drunken playboy, who mends his ways, becomes respected surgeon in order to restore the eyesight of a woman (Wyman) he blinded in an auto accident. 1954. Good story; good acting; a must see!

Late evening reading & crossword puzzles.

High temp=58 Lights out: 11:53pm

Awake: 5:50am Temp 31 sleep 6+30 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

Call & have a short chat with Rosemary & Gary this morning. They have plans with the local church fund raiser program this afternoon so I will see them early evening.

Today, until around 4:00pm, I dedicate a lot of my time going thru a combination of manuals on windows, doors, floors, elevators, etc for our house plans; every now & then, I take a break & work a few crossword puzzles.

I attend 5:00 pm Mass @ the Our Lady of the Valley Church. Afterward, I wish G & R a bon voyage as they are leaving tomorrow morning.

My dinner: Albacore tuna steak from Singapore, cousin Florentz’s corn off the cob & a mixed salad.

Kathy calls @ 7:35pm Pacific time; again, she is exhausted. “I’m ready to go back into retirement” she tells me & “I’m ready to have you come back into retirement” I tell her. “All the Christmas things are now boxed & stored away” she reports. Also, Kevin's sister Billie Anne & her husband Jason arrive mid morning from Washington, DC. They have been very helpful all day; Billie Anne spending time with the young boys so Kathy & Melissa can do other required jobs & Jason helping Kevin with installing more insulation on the 3rd floor. I don’t remember how long we talked but it wasn’t too long; she sounded pretty tired.

Evening DVR movie: “Tom, Dick & Harry” with Ginger Rogers, George Murphy, Alan Marshal, Burgess Meredith, Joe Cunningham, Jane Seymour, Phil Silvers. Spirited comic dilemma as wide-eyed Ginger chooses among (3) anxious suitors: sincere Murphy, wealthy Marshal, & nonconformist Meredith. Silvers has hilarious role as obnoxious ice-cream man. 1941. The story was cute but maybe more for the teenybopper of the 40’s.

High temp=53 Lights out: 11:42pm

Awake: 7:05am Temp 30 sleep 7+12 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

After another hot breakfast this morning, I go outside & set up my portable water filtering system. I’m feeling pretty confident but this will be a test of my epoxy job. With all connections tightened, I open the campground’s water faucet; the water inside the clear canister is filling up nicely & I am smiling. Suddenly, “POW” goes the canister top & I jump about (2) feet getting a shower of water in the process. I really didn’t expect this to happen; oh well, back to the drawing board.

Today I am antsy, especially after that failed epoxy job. I have to get outside & do something different, go somewhere. There is a new RV dealer about (2) miles southeast of our campground; maybe they would have the same type of canister I am using; driving the Suzuki, I find out in about (2) weeks, their parts department will be open for the 1st time; I can wait.

After buying some more organic milk @ Smith’s for a good price, I visit the Pahrump Nugget Casino just next door & use my free gift card of $3.00 to gamble on the (1) cent machine. These (1) arm bandits have changed over the yrs; in lieu of coins, everything now works on cards or paper money. When you finish playing, you cash out with the amount of winnings printed on paper, then cash-in @ the cashier’s station. My lucky day! I doubled my money & got out of there quickly.

Gary calls a short time after my return to the motorhome & he’s coming over for a visit; we have some serious talk about our dedication to our faith. Ever since I’ve met Gary & Rosemary in 2002, I have been impressed with their commitment to the Catholic religion. They are Godparents of Andrew; Melissa & Kevin’s 2nd boy & they couldn’t have selected a better couple. Gary & Rosemary have been invited out for dinner tonight so our talk of religion comes to a halt.

Kathy calls mid evening her time: she is exhausted….again. The Christmas decorations are not all packed away yet but she is making slow progress. Talk about slow progress; Matthew continues to fight his eating schedule, the food selection & getting those shots of insulin. Poor guy, it's quite a change to make for a (4) yr old.

Both sons Nick & Zack call from their work @ 5:44pm. The related question was car insurance: what to do when one guy would like to drive the other guy’s car but does not have primary insurance on that car! I rattled off what I knew & then recommended they both contact their individual insurance companies.

Dinner: Chicken & Italian sausage with tomato sauce & noodles + a (4) bean salad.

Evening DVR movie: “Pork Chop Hill” with Gregory Peck, Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, George Peppard, James Edwards, Bob Steele, Robert Blake, etc. Gritty Korean War combat film about the taking of a seemingly worthless hill & the political (& communications) problems that interfere with lieutenant Peck’s efforts to get the job done; based on a true story. 1959. According to Google: a bloody seesaw struggle for Hill 255.

High temp=52 Lights out: 11:20pm

Awake: 6:09am Temp 27 sleep 5+31 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

When raising the front windshield shade this morning, which I usually close for overnight privacy, I notice a number of guys in the campground fooling around with their water connections; pulling the stiff hoses out into the sunshine to thaw out, etc. Hmmm, I wonder if my water hose or portable filters have frozen. First I’ll make a hot breakfast & give the outside temp a chance to warm up a little.

Well, what a surprise on me: not only was the water hose frozen, but also the source faucet & one of two of my portable water filter canisters had blow apart with the force of frozen water. So many times I had stored those filters in the basement overnight for safe keeping during forecasted freeze temps; this time however, I was lazy & gambled. Ouch!

Kathy calls from PA @ 8:49am Pacific time; her voice still crackles with uncontrollable coughs. She tells me she was so exhausted yesterday; she couldn’t get out of bed. When she did go downstairs, she laid around for hrs, then went upstairs & back in bed. She figures those previous busy days of activity with little sleep, finally caught up with her.

Today Kevin went shopping @ Wal-Mart & loaded up with special food & items to satisfy Matthew’s strict diet. Kathy & I talk for (23) min.

It’s cool outside with a north wind so I drive the Suzuki for shopping @ Wal-Mart & Smith’s.
Corinne calls from Lilly, Pa @ 11:43am for an update on the Foote family. Her timing was good.
Mid afternoon, I clean the broken filter canister & then, epoxy it back together; laying it on the heated tile floor overnight for curing.

Dinner tonight was one of my favorites & Rosemary was the cook: homemade meatloaf, baked potatoes, butter, sour cream & corn; wine before & during our meal. How am I ever going to catch up with the favors these people do for us. Thanks again Rosemary & Gary.

Evening DVR movie: “In Name Only” with Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Kay Francis, Charles Coburn, Helen Vinson, etc. Solid soaper with wealthy, married Grant falling for widowed Lombard, trying desperately to obtain a divorce from bitchy, manipulative social climber Francis; beautifully acted. 1939. Great story & touching too.

High temp=47 Lights out: 11:53pm

Awake: 6:55am Temp 45 sleep 6+43 overcast & windy overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

Call Rosemary & give her a brief update on the Foote Family per Kathy's phone call last evening.

Eat a hot breakfast while watching a DVR recording of yesterday’s O’Reilly Factor.

AARP called; they received our signed papers & will soon send our Health Insurance Cards.

Gary & Rosemary visit around 12:15 for about (40) min. We continue discussing the Foote family returning home progress.

I spend close to an hr working with a Sprint agent trying to get online so I can manage my own account. Late last yr, they changed their online system, added stronger security & now I’ll have to wait (24) hrs to try & access my account again.

Mid afternoon, I make (3) batches of popcorn; both the 2nd & 3rd batch were leaving too many un-popped kernels when finished. I’m wondering if the thermostat might be fouling up. After the unit cools, I take the Stir Crazy unit all apart & find a lot of cooking oil in the area around the thermostat. Luckily, I bought (5) of these little thermostats yrs ago in case of failure. After cleaning the contaminating area with “Shout”, I insert the new thermostat in place, reassemble the unit & test it without popcorn, hoping the next time, all (3) batches will pop out.

Dinner: leftover Italian sausage, tomato sauce, fresh salad & bread.

Late DVR movie: “Good Morning Vietnam” with Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Tung Thanh Tran, Chintara Sukapatana, Bruno Kirby, etc. Williams is the whole show here, playing an army disc jockey that turns Armed Forces radio inside out when he’s brought to Saigon in 1965. His manic monologues are so uproarious that they carry the rest of the film, which has a weakly developed “story” & often irrelevant musical interludes. Apparently the real-life Adrian Cronauer, on whom story was based, wasn’t nearly as funny or outrageous as Williams. 1987. I have to agree with the masses, Williams was great; story was weak.

High temp=46 Lights out: 12:38am

Awake: 6:11am Temp 35 sleep 5+53 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

Visit Rosemary & Gary @ their home away from home across the street. We sit outside & while away the minutes discussing yesterday, today & tomorrow. Next week, G & R will be leaving Pahrump & heading south for awhile. They have been very good for us; thoughtful & generous friends, never a dull moment during frequent discussions, willing to help when needed, watching our motorhome during our absence, riding with us for airport departure & picking us up when we return, good meals, etc, etc. We’ll probably rendezvous with them next in PA, March or April, pending on weather, but in the meantime, we’ll miss them.

I return my sister Mary Jo’s phone call before starting dinner; she also has questions about Matthew & how things are going @ the Children’s Hospital. Fortunately I have Kathy’s update from yesterday to fill her in.

Dinner: leftover meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy & a fresh salad.

Corinne calls @ 8:03 pm local time. She’s looking for an update on the Foote family but I’ve heard nothing new yet today; it’s after 11:00pm her time so she will pass on a return call should Kathy call later tonight.

Timing is everything: Kathy calls @ 8:25pm. I couldn’t believe how fast this girl talks; “are you on steroids” I ask her. “I guess I am just so excited to be out of that hospital” she tells me. For the next hr & (3) min, I barely got a word in vertical. The entire Foote family members were very, very happy to be home again. I did eventually manage to get a short sentence in to suggest that she stay as long as she feels necessary to get the family well organized, because I am doing just fine out here in the Nevada sunshine.

Late DVR movie: “Semi-Tough” with Bert Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, Jill Clayburgh, Robert Preston, etc. Easy going comedy about (2) football stars & their mutual girlfriend …wanders too much to hit any major targets but has some funny moments. Reynolds charm makes up for film’s other deficiencies. 1977. Not my cup of tea + I’m not into football.
High temp=57 Lights out: 12:12am

Awake: 7:15am Temp 37 sleep 8+21 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

This morning, I take the time & make myself a hot breakfast: eggs over easy, toast & bacon; it’s been awhile since I’ve done this.

Gary visits in the middle of my gourmet cooking but insists that I continue cooking & then eating. He has questions about the Foote family & since Kathy’s update call last night, I have answers; although not nearly as professionally delivered as Kathy would have.
During Gary’s conversation, Zack calls while walking to work in Seattle; he learned about Matthew from my Blog & also has questions & I have answers. Eventually tho, I gave Zack the phone number for Matthew’s hospital room so he could get touch with Melissa or Kathy directly.

Late morning, I run the auxiliary generator & do some tuning up of the speed control unit by adjusting the magnetic pick-up probe. I’ve wanted to do this for some time now & today was the perfect day for it.

On my walk to Wal-Mart to return a pair of toenail clippers, my sister Corinne calls & asks for an update on Matthew. I am now prepared for this & gave her all the details I thought were pertinent.
Another call came thru @ 5:05; it was Matthew himself. We talked only briefly but he sounded in good spirits. Then Kathy came to the phone & reported the latest update. “Everything is going a lot better now” she reports. In fact, they may even be released tomorrow & return to their home. “That is good news” I say.

Dinner: leftover turkey soup with noodles, oyster crackers & a salad.

After cleaning up the dishes, I continue sorting out papers from our file & actually finish the job this evening.

Tonight’s DVR movie: “Modern Times” with Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Chester Conklin, etc. Charlie attacks the machine age in inimitable fashion, with sharp pokes @ other social ills & the struggle of modern-day survival. Chaplin’s last silent film is consistently hilarious & unforgettable. 1936. This movie was fantastic; so funny it brought me happy tears.
High temp= 64 Lights out: 12:18am

Awake: approx 4:33am Temp 48 sleep 4+31 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

With no breakfast for Kathy & just coffee for me, we leave Pahrump @ 6:15am for the 9:00am non-stop Southwest Airline flight to Pittsburgh for Kathy. What a beautiful time of the morning for travel. Smooth & virtually an empty hwy nearly all the way….that is, until we enter the Las Vegas area. Terminal # (1) was very busy when we arrived @ 7:20am so we didn’t waste any time saying our goodbyes & love U’s & have a safe trip, etc. I was back in our motorhome by 8:40am. I make a quick call to G & R & let them know that Kathy is on her way.

I plan to keep busy during Kathy’s absence; there are many things on my “to do list” in & around the coach so this will be an opportune time to get them accomplished. 1st however, a cell phone call to my buddy Ray in Ocean Park, WA; we have quite a discussion relating to the type I diabetes. Ray is familiar with diabetes; he has been a borderline type II diabetic for over a yr & controls his glucose level with dieting. Ray also mentioned about Vancouver, WA having another tornado touch down in the Hazel Dale Area.

By mid afternoon, my file cabinet is cleansed thru April; a good start. Then I answer a call from my sister Corinne in Lilly, PA. We discuss Matthew’s diabetes & a little of what's happening @ the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Dinner: leftover stuffed pepper & a mixed salad.

Kathy makes her 1st call @ 7:13pm pacific time from the Children’s Hospital: she was picked up by Kevin @ the Pittsburg Airport & the 1st thing he said to her was: “I’m so happy to see you!” Later she realized how important that greeting was meant to be; Melissa & Kevin have to attend mandatory classes together for several days, so they can fully understand what they are up against in caring for Matthew’s diabetes. She of course, will be a full time baby sitter during their class time & stay with Matthew during the night; thus giving Melissa & Kevin a chance to have a better night's sleep.

Kathy still has her cough & her voice crackled as she spoke but she was so delighted to be there & to give a helping hand starting tonight. We talked for a good (30) + min, then it was time to get Matthew to bed.

Tonight’s DVR movie: “I Vitelloni” with Alberto Sordi, Franco Interlenghi, Franco Fabrizi, Leopoldo Trieste. Magnificent comedy-drama & arguably Fellini’s masterpiece—about (5) shiftless male adolescents in a small Adriatic town who have to cope with emerging adulthood. 1953. Subtitles. Kathy missed a good one.

High temp=60 Lights out: 10:54pm

Awake: 6:45am Temp 38 sleep 6+56 thin overcast overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

I woke up hearing a voice; it’s Kathy, sitting in the front co-pilot’s seat & talking with Melissa via cell phone. They had a bad night; because of their late arrival time & the need to be all together, Melissa, Andrew & Nathan slept on the tile floor in the parent’s lounge using blankets.

Kevin slept with Matthew on his hospital bed but during the night, Matthew woke up screaming & Kevin could not calm him down; Melissa had to be summoned.

How long will they be @ the Children’s Hospital? 1st of all, Matthew’s blood sugar count must be lowered with caution of not getting too low; then reasonably stabilized. During their time there, both Melissa & Kevin must attend classes on giving Matthew shots of insulin, monitoring his exercise & changes in his eating habits, etc. Right now, Melissa & Matthew are asking for Kathy’s help so they can attend these classes & have someone watch over the boys who they are comfortable with & can trust, especially Matthew sleeping with Kathy @ night. I personally was most uncomfortable with Kathy taking to the air with her coughing, whispering & crackling voice, nose stuffed up & recent body aching, etc.

But, Kathy gets right on-line & makes a reservation for a 9:00am non-stop departure tomorrow from Las Vegas directly to Pittsburgh. She wanted a printout of her schedule, but the printer quit printing.

After getting her suitcase out of basement storage, I began a serious “make the printer print” mission….to no avail. I even called the manufacture, Canon & talked with their technical support. My last resort was Nick in Seattle; we checked all computer settings Nick could think of. It has to be a rarely know symptom called: dry ink blockage.

@ 11:05pm, Kathy talks with Melissa again…she encourages them, if possible, to get into the Ronald McDonald’s house for the night.

Dinner: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, cauliflower & a salad; very delicious!

DVR movie: “The Picture of Dorian Gray” with George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lawford, Lowell Gilmore, etc. Haunting Oscar Wilde story of man whose painting ages while he retains youth. Young Lansbury is poignant, singing “The Little Yellow Bird” (& her real-life mother Moyna MacGill is the Duchess). 1945. Distinctively different; you don’t want to miss a moment of this unusual story.

High temp=55 Lights out: 11:58pm

Awake: 7:00am Temp 37 sleep 7+14 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

I walk over to the Saddle West Casino & sign up for another month here in Pahrump, NV. Then walk over to Smith’s & buy some milk; Kathy will be staying indoors again today.

Kathy & I do more scrutinizing of the medical papers we have on file. Actually I want to get our file sorted out in prep for organizing data on the new tax yr.

Around 2:00pm, Melissa calls from the Indiana, PA Hospital; Matthew was diagnosed with diabetes today. His blood sugar was over 450 when they checked it (that is approaching coma territory) & the ambulance will be taking Matthew & Kevin to the Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital pronto. Just hearing about this, not good news brought some tears. Matthew however, was excited to be riding in an ambulance.

Melissa asked her good friend Beth Anne to drive the Toyota mini van to Pittsburgh with her, Andrew & Nathan. Melissa had to hang up & told us she would try & call us later.

Our day changed from this point. We went to Google & read more about Type 1 diabetes, etc.

Dinner: Albacore tuna, broccoli, (4) different kinds of rice & salad.

DVR movie: “Becket” with Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, John Gielgud, Donald Wolfit, Martita Hunt, Pamela Brown, etc. Stunning film; centers on stormy friendship between Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket & his English King, Henry II. Superbly acted & magnificently photographed. 1964. Fantastic movie.

We had no other phone calls tonight.

High temp=60 Lights out: 11:49pm

Awake: 6:36am Temp 37 sleep 6+49 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

Melissa calls @ 7:00am from PA. She asked for the nurse who just happens to be awake with a crackling voice. They discuss Matthew’s doctor visit tomorrow & other things.

A little later, Gary calls to find out how Kathy is today; I had to report that she had a relapse on her condition. Kathy is suspicious that maybe she is allergic to something in the air here in Pahrump; meanwhile, we are staying indoors today.

Mid morning, I watch the history channel covering the 50’s, & 60’s era on transistors, radar ranges, muscle cars, the Concord SST, etc. It was like watching the most exciting ½ yrs of my life; in collage, I experienced the transistor replacing the vacuum tube; seeing the radar range develop & bake a cake without heating elements @ a college seminar; muscle cars were everywhere in our small towns & the SST was big news from abroad, etc, etc; my kind of history.

Mid afternoon, Kathy & I spend some time with the mail call on organizing our new medical accounts.

Dinner: Italian sausage with whole wheat noodles, & tomato sauce.

DVR movie: “My Life as a Dog” with Anton Glanzelius, Tomas von Bromssen, Anki Liden, etc. Warm-hearted look @ the tumultuous life of an irrepressible mischievous (12) yr-old boy who is shipped off to live with relatives in a rural village in 1950’s Sweden. Both comedic & poignant, this is ultimately an honest depiction of the often confusing nature of childhood. 1985-Swedish with sub-titles. It was a very different story. I enjoy it immensely & Kathy had a much needed rest.

High temp=56 Lights out: 11:46pm

Awake: 6:45am Temp 36 sleep 6+42 sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

Kathy reports she slept much better last night; no dizziness, no aches or pains & she can even breathe better thru her nose. We are both delighted. What a difference the right medicine can make.

I spend some time going thru our latest mail call while Kathy watches her morning TV programs. She’s feeling so good this afternoon, she suggests a walk to Albertson’s grocery store about (2) miles west. Shortly before we leave, Gary & Rosemary visit briefly for a check on Kathy. They are on their way for a walk to Wal-Mart.

Weather conditions for this walk: temp 48 (5) to (8) mph west winds & sunny.

At Albertsons we just happen to see G & R; looking for bargains just like us. On our return trip, I couldn’t believe it….Kathy started feeling bad again; her nose getting stuffed up & body aching. Before we even came close to our motorhome, she was back to whispering: “Oh Man!”

Before dinner I talk with Gary & Grace J. now hanging out in their motorhome in Florida. We have much to discuss & thus, the phone is glued to my ear for over an hr. Such interesting & adventurous young people; they resemble G & R who are here in Pahrump. When Grace asks to speak with Kathy, I see a wave off & a thumb’s down from the whispering lady. We are planning on a Las Vegas rendezvous with G & G in March this yr.

Kathy managed to make an excellent dinner after all: stuffed peppers & cauliflower. She did a lot of napping off & on throughout the evening & during the movie: “Captains of the Clouds” with James Cagney, Dennis Morgan, Brenda Marshall, Alan Hale, etc. Atmospheric wartime drama charting the shenanigans of cocky bush pilot Cagney, who joins the Canadian air force but refused to follow regulations. 1942. I liked it!

High temp=52 Lights out: 11:47pm

Awake: 5:25am Temp 53 Sleep 5+26 cloudy overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

Kathy had a b-a-d night; I wasn’t aware but she moved into the living room @ 4:00am as she was afraid of waking me with her constant barking. She complains of dizziness, aching all over & her throat hurts so much with every cough. Ok, it’s time to do something. She suggests calling Gary & having him look up their family doctor’s phone number from when they lived in Pahrump full time. The secretary told me they are booked solid for today but we should go east for a mile on State route-160; turn right on Calvada Blvd & use the Urgent Care Center ½ mile down the road.

The center opened @ 7:00am & still crowded when I sign Kathy in @ 9:30am. It was a tough & long (1) hr wait for her; I thought she was going to faint several times. When we were called, the nurse & Dr. Flower asked Kathy all the right questions; I thought he was quite thorough. With prescriptions in hand, we drive to Wal-Mart for the medicine. Once again, the waiting game; all together (4.5) hrs.

Our mail was forwarded from Alaska to Pahrump today.

The rest of the day, Kathy was an off & on sleeper. I hinted for a simple dinner: (2) turkey & chicken meat balls each with popcorn while we finish watching the 2nd half of the movie: “Exodus” with Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Richardson, Peter Lawford, Lee J. Cobb, Sal Mineo, etc. Sprawling history of Palestinian war for liberation becomes sporadic action epic. Newman as Israeli resistance leader, Saint as non-Jewish army nurse aren’t a convincing duo. 1960. A Google check pretty well confirmed the plot. Don’t miss refugees escaping Cyprus detention center & running the British blockade into homeland.
Surprisingly, Kathy did pretty well @ staying awake under the circumstances.

High temp=51 Lights out: 12:03am

Awake: 6:15am Temp 43 sleep 6+47 mostly sunny overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

Mid morning, Rosemary & Gary ring our bell; yesterday during the slideshow, they couldn’t help but hear the barking seal I picked up along the road (Kathy); so today they hesitate to step in for a visit until they get a good health report on the barker….. & I don’t blame them. Well Kathy wasn’t sure if what she has picked up is contagious or not, so better for them to error on the side of caution. They said they would check again tomorrow.

About 2:00pm, the barker whispers in my ear that she would like to get some exercise by walking to Wal-Mart & Smith’s….about (1.5) miles west. We both have been lacking exercise lately so I was all in favor even though the temp was 48 degrees with a slight west wind. Yes, we talked the walk & then walked the walk.

I had difficulty hearing her whisper as we walked along the hwy. On the return trip, Kathy was not doing well @ all. She was already extremely tired & we still had a good mile to go. We made it alright but I was concerned. She insisted on making dinner so I suggested that perhaps to keep the dinner simple, we’ll have popcorn. I also suggested that if she does make popcorn, make some extra & I’ll take a few bags across the street to G & R; “Good idea” says she. Well, she made a good healthy dinner after all: Pork Chops marinated in milk for hrs, (4) kinds of rice, broccoli & a mixed salad.

Mid evening DVR movie: watch ½ of “Exodus.”

Today’s high= 48 Lights out: 11:59pm

Awake: 5:55am Temp 49 sleep 6+20 partly sunny overnight @ Pahrump, N.V.

Kathy is not feeling her best; her throat is a little sore especially due to coughing. However, she had the energy to make a sourdough pancake breakfast with all the trimmings…yummy.

Gary & Rosemary visit & would like to see a slideshow of our Christmas in PA on the big screen. Fortunately most of the photos came out well & we had some good talk & laughs watching them. After a few hrs, they returned to their home on wheels across the street.

Dinner: Tilapia fish, (4) different kinds of rice: brown, wild, sweet brown & red & a salad with toast.

DVR movie: “Dive Bomber” with Errol Flynn, Fred MacMurray, Ralph Bellamy, Alexis Smith, etc. Exciting, well-paced aviation film of experiments to eliminate pilot-blackout. 1941. Most interesting, especially if you’re an aviation buff. Some crossword puzzle working before bedtime.
Lights out: 11:28pm

Awake: 7:33am Temp 50 sleep 7+26 overcast & windy overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

I am way behind in my magazine reading; the PA mail call loaded my stack up, so I take a break this morning & do some reading.

Mid afternoon, K & I walk over to Smith’s & do some more grocery shopping mail a letter.

We attend the 5:00 pm Mass at Our Lady of the Valley Church. It seems Kathy may have picked something up in the air as singing causes her to cough. G & R did not join us as Gary was too involved in the televised football games, esp. the Pittsburgh Stealers

Simple dinner: fresh corn soup & Triscuits.

Late movie with popcorn: “Small Town Girl” with Janet Gaynor, Robert Taylor, Binnie Barnes, Lewis Stone, Andy Devine, James Stewart, etc. Breezy romance about Gaynor trapping Taylor into marriage while he’s drunk, then working to win him over when he’s sober. Kathy missed most of this movie but every now & then, she awakened & wanted to know what happened after…. & I did explain. 1953. A decent story, well acted & sometimes, touching.
High temp=55 Lights out: 11:35pm

Awake: 7:02am Temp 52 sleep 5+30 overcast, windy overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

I spent most of the morning & some of the afternoon going through our mail from PA, then checking on our credit card receipts for (2) months. Don’t get the wrong impression; about twice a week, I check our credit card spending using the computer & then make hard copy notes of what was purchased @ the end of a month.
Later, my suitcase is unpacked, Kathy’s too, & stored in the basement bay.

We record the O’Reilly Factor for later viewing.

Mid afternoon, wide awake Gary & Rosemary stop in for a visit. I compliment Gary for keeping a good eye on our coach & his precision thermostat setting for our early morning comfort.

Dinner: Cauliflower curry with sweet & sour chicken & turkey meatballs. The curry was the first package from Eriko’s parents that Kathy tried. It was quite good & Kathy was most appreciative of Eriko’s good English interpretation of the cooking instructions.

After watching the O’Reilly Factor & skipping commercials, we watch the movie for tonight: “The Happy Years” with Dean Stockwell, Scotty Beckett, Darryl Hickman, Leo G. Carroll, Etc. High spirited boy in turn-of-the-century prep school finds he has trouble fitting in. 1950. Different but worthy of a look see….how to make enemies & influence people the wrong way.
High temp=58 Lights out: 12:06am

Awake: 7:37am Sleep 7+27 flurries with some sun overnight @ Indiana, PA.

The Super 8 motel breakfast was well received by us these past (2) weeks. It was always a good start for the day’s activity & we rarely needed any grub before the dinner meal @ the Foote Castle; dinner there was usually served between 2:00 & 3:00pm.

After checking out, saying our goodbyes to the morning motel group, loading suitcases into the van, we again head toward the Foote Castle with a stop @ Ollie’s Bargain Outlet to check for the “Firefox for Dummies” manual. “Not yet” says the clerk.

We both spend some time with little Nathan; supporting his stance & strengthening his legs. Katrina, Eriko & Nick have been busy packing before dinner.

Dinner made by Melissa: Chili-Mac, homemade corn bread & salad.

@ 2:30pm, Kevin finishes loading the Toyota van with suitcases & bags; then makes the announcement: “All aboard!” We say our goodbyes & love + thanks to Melissa for her good meal planning, comfort etc, & give our love to Matthew but can’t find Andrew. A few minutes later, Katrina finds him playing alone with the Brio train track on the 3rd floor. Of course, we give Andrew our love & goodbyes also. Every yr this family gathering becomes more meaningful for us, we hope it can & will continue to grow stronger.

Not mentioning any names, but just before walking out the door, someone had the nerve to comment to the cook about being served Chili just before riding (45) min in a tight & crowded Toyota van, then flying in a rather small & loaded airplane for an hr. Melissa commented: “Gee, I never gave that a thought!” I for one was mighty suspicious.
The boys had sober faces as we waved goodbye to them from our speeding Toyota.

About (50) min later @ the Latrobe airport, we ditto our thanks to Kevin for making our stay & visits most comfortable, relaxing & gastronomically satisfying. Security was efficient & quite thorough. They opened Kathy’s suitcase to further inspect something & realized it was ok. A tail wind shrunk our flight time down to (45) min to Detroit.

In the “A” terminal, Eriko suggested to Nick she would like a snack before flying to Seattle. Good idea we all thought & Katrina had time to join us for a mini gathering before her flight schedule time also. Go figure: we all had….more pizza.

Nick, Eriko, Jerry & we had basically the same departure area; (1) gate away, so we hung out together for an additional (30-40) min. One thing I want to mention about Jerry & how expressive he has been; anything that he really enjoys doing or seeing is quickly followed by his exclamation, “OH MAN!” He is so cute & such a happy fellow.

Our flight from Detroit to Las Vegas was uneventful except for the sluggish departure from the gate. Northwest was running about (20) min late. Before block-out occurred, I called Gary in Pahrump to notify him of our delay.

Good for us, when strolling thru the massive crowd between the baggage Carousels, Gary & Rosemary found us before we found them. Even though Gary gave me explicit instructions, I felt lost in the almost maddening crowd.

We thank Rosemary & Gary for their friendship & assistance with our holiday rendezvous, drop them off @ their home on wheels & then a grocery shopping we will go; stocking up the cupboards with the essentials. When entering our coach, everything is just the way we left it; the exception was: I asked Gary to bump up the thermostat for our late arrival. He did & our home on wheels was nice & toasty; it’s good to be back in our home again.

Lights out: 1:32am

Awake: 7:59am Sleep 7+08 flurries & cold overnight @ Indiana, PA.

This morning I succumbed to Matthew’s request to build a Brio train track with him on the 3rd floor. My 1st inclination was to build something different; something that Matthew would not instantly destroy (2) min after completion. He was loaded with the usual ideas of mimicking track layouts from others. “Dare to be different” I said to him. Let’s build a track so the train would slope downhill by gravity; thus no need to push the engine around the track. Well I’ll be darned; his eyes lit up & he gave that unexpected look of approval.

Easier said than done we found out; supporting the high track took many Legos which we quickly ran out of; in desperation, we began using unused pieces of track, cabinet drawers, office boxes & miscellaneous stuff from the storage room next to us. Matthew was great @ being a tester; putting the train engine with a few cars on the sloping track to check for too high of a speed that could cause derailment. This took some time & patience but success was imminent.
Kathy made a progress visit @ about the 60% mark; she couldn’t or didn’t want to stay. Somewhere around the last elevated turn area & the 90% mark, Matthew, who had been remarkably attentive, cautious, watchful, conscientious, responsible, etc; slightly grazed a very unstable mid-point support junction with his leg…..and half of the display fell like a hundred high speed dominoes crashing to the floor, only louder. Matthew’s big eyes seem to double in size; he didn’t speak & appeared mesmerized while staring @ the big heap of rubble on the floor. Myself, I stayed calm (some of my FedEx training I suppose) & simply replied: “Gosh! We’ll have to rebuild.”

Just then, Andrew came up the stairs; when Matthew saw Andrew, he cried & kept yelling & screaming: NO, NO. And that folks was the end of my “Dare to be different” project.

Dinner by Kevin: Pot roast & potatoes, salad & corn.

Later Nick spends quite a lot of time with both Kathy & me on the computer with extra tips relating to the Firefox browser.

After the Foote boys had gone to bed, Kathy gave Jerry the “fire engine” sweatshirt she had been embroidering for him along with a book of emergency vehicles, esp. fire engines. He seemed quite excited about both and wore the sweatshirt to bed.

For our last evening together with the Foote family for awhile, we all just sat around & casually talked with each other. We leave earlier than usual to get back to the motel & start packing.

Lights out: 12:10am

Awake: 6:24am Sleep 6+07 overnight snow…. 4” overnight @ Indiana, PA.

We nearly made this holiday visit without snow; so instead of a white Christmas we end up having a white New Year’s Day. After breakfast, I use the broom in back of the van to clean snow off the rest of the van.

As luck would have it, we were in time this morning to witness Matthew playing the role of a Priest, complete with makeshift altar, priestly gown, chalice, unleavened bread, etc. Melissa, prompted him a little on the procedures, Nick served as a deacon & read the Gospel & we all lined up to drink the imaginary wine & take the host of unleavened bread. Melissa makes altar bread once a month for the church and usually manages to make an extra pan for Matthew. We were all quite impressed with his knowledge.

About 2:30pm, we all go swimming @ the Comfort Inn ½ mile from the Super 8 motel; all except Melissa & Nathan (they stayed home as we would have been one car seat short and also Melissa was not feeling very good. The photographer, that’s me, stayed out of the water. Well, somebody had to take pictures. What fun they had; there were (5) adults for (3) children & all those big smiles told me that these kids & adults were having a splendidly good time. They were in the water for about (2) hrs. The only downside of this adventure, Eriko lost one of her hard contact lenses. We searched off & on for an extra (30) min to no avail. The water was blue & the contact a blue tinge; tough conditions. However, we did notify the personnel on duty & told them where we could be reached; we heard nada.

As we were casually sitting around the living room, Eriko presented the scarf she had been knitting to Melissa, “this is for you” she warmly said. What a pleasant surprise for Melissa!

Tonight we played our last game of: “Loaded Questions” for awhile. These guys are getting much too smart for us seniors; they write their answers emulating another family member & that confuses the issue but @ the same time, enhances the challenge. It’s been a fun game for our family.
Lights out: 12:51am

Awake: 8:03am Sleep 8+19 cloudy with snow flurries overnight @ Indiana, PA.

Our usual motel breakfast is getting dated, but the price is right so we’ll hang in there.

The earliest report time yet @ the Foote Castle: 10:40am. With snow flurries flying, I dilute the anti-freeze to a 50/50 mixture & use close to (2) gallons; my contract with Kevin has now been fulfilled.

Matthew & I spend about (45) min playing with play dough. The build & destroy theory was alive & well during this time; that’s just the way kids are.

1:45pm dinner: Mexican Lasagna & black bean salad & lettuce salad.

Mid afternoon, we celebrate Andrew’s 2nd yr birthday with a cake shaped like a semi-tractor, ice cream & presents of (4) matchbox cars, Brio train engine & coal car, (8) curved tracks, train whistle & a white sweat shirt with an embroidered fire truck by Kathy & a mailed in bond for Andrew from his Godparents, Gary & Rosemary C. Andrew was all smiles save for the few moments when his brother, Matthew, was trying to overpower the unwrapping & testing of his toys.

Also mid afternoon, Nick & Jerry spend nearly an hr outdoors; Jerry driving the Little Tyke car & big Nick sitting on a much smaller bike enticing Gentleman Jerry to start his engine. They than went for a walk in the neighborhood.

Both Andrew & Matthew are a little fussy early evening; Andrew told Melissa that he was sad. She asked him why; he told her: “too many people in the house.”

Now with the boys in bed, except Jerry, the early New Year’s celebration begins. Kevin brings out dishes of ice cream in flavors he knows are priorities for certain individuals. What a guy! Most likely we won’t hang around for midnight to celebrate so this was good enough.
No game playing again tonight.

Back @ our motel, K & I watch a few New Year celebrations around the world on TV before seeing the N.Y. city ball fall; what a crowd of red hats. “Happy New Year, 2008!”
Lights out: 12:17am

Awake: 7:08am Sleep 7+43 partly sunny… cold overnight @ Indiana, PA.

After our typical motel breakfast, we join the Foote family for 9:30am Mass @ Saint Thomas More University Parish church. Donuts afterward for Andrew & Matthew + about (30) other kids & many adults, downstairs. K & I did not partake in the donut extravaganza, but we did join in the socializing.

After feeding the Ford van a little more transmission fluid last week, we’ve experienced no more hesitation during early or late cold driving times. Today however, I decide to do a thorough check of fluid level & discover that the level is lower than I had thought. Kevin clues me in on an unopened quart from which I feed ½ of it into the transmission. Now the level is definitely in the vicinity of normal. I might as well check the radiator antifreeze level while the sun is still shinning & that too is low. On our way to the motel tonight we’ll make another stop @ Wal-Mart & buy a gallon of Prestone.

Dinner: the last of the leftovers; too complicated to describe. I remember the last of the pizza slices moved quickly @ the other end of the table.

During sporadic times, afternoon & evening, Nick continued giving Kathy & me more info & directions on handling the Kirsch Family Photo Gallery & we needed that. His best suggestion: buy the manual “Firefox for dummies” & use it as a reference.

Later evening, we all sat in the living room & discussed this rendezvous & how, if any, changes could be made for the better, aside from the airport taxi service.

We make a quick stop @ Wal-Mart for a gallon of anti-freeze en route to the motel.

Lights out: 11:44pm

Awake: 7:29am Sleep 5+52 cloudy sleep overnight @ Indiana, PA.

Literally, Kathy spent hrs this morning talking with a member of AARP (American Association of Retired People) or talking + filling in information using the computer @ the same time to obtain Medicare supplemental insurance and drug coverage. I encouraged her to take on this task being that she has more medical experience than I & she did very well. We now have the necessary insurance.

Today, we take our computer with us to the Foote Castle; hopefully, Nick will have some spare time to answer our questions & show us a few computer tricks. Arriving about 12:30am, we find Matthew lying on a couch under a blanket; he says he’s not feeling well, & Melissa tells us he has a fever. Whoa, could this be the beginning of “the bug!”

Nick does find the time this afternoon to answer some of our computer questions but not for long; other distractions take priority such as: an up-to-date photo shooting of the Kathy & Monte Kirsch family. Katie has been assigned the task of shooting our family picture with (6) cameras taking (2) photos each. One would assume (1) good photo could be selected from a choice of (12) individual shoots.

Dinner: leftover ham, leftover pizza, leftover noodles, leftover whole wheat bread, leftover hamburgers, etc.

Meanwhile, the time has come for Zack & Katie to gather their suitcases plus other bags & prepare to be driven to their respective airports. This brought up a off & on discussion about flying into different airports; some that are not as convenient as others. The Latrobe airport is a mere (45) min away from Indiana, PA. The Pittsburgh airport is a good (1.5) hrs away under reasonable traffic conditions. KT didn’t care to spend an additional $300.00 to fly into the Latrobe airport from Chicago & we don’t blame her. By the time Kathy & I had returned from that journey, the gang decided, in the future, if someone doesn’t care to fly into the Latrobe airport & chooses Pittsburgh instead, they must be responsible & pay for their own transportation to & from that airport.

Actually, Kathy kept me company as we delivered Zack to the Latrobe airport in due time; Katie & we waited until Zack went thru security, and then waved goodbye. Katie was fascinated as she had never seen an airport as small as Latrobe; an airport in miniature! We continued our journey west to the Pittsburgh airport for Katie to board her flight to Chicago. We were happy that she could join us even if just for a fast (2) & ½ days.

En route to the Foote Castle, we make a fuel stop to top off the Toyota tank @ the Get-Go station in Delmont, PA.

The remainder of the evening went kind of quick. We played a few rounds of “Loaded Questions” & then returned to our Super 8 motel.

Lights out: 11:25pm

Awake: 6:23am Sleep 6+24 partly sunny overnight @ Indiana, PA.

After our usual motel breakfast, we drive to Carroltown (42 min) where Kathy has an appointment with Dr. Brian for a check on her medicine regarding her thyroid.

Yesterday’s blood results had already arrived for the Dr to check what he needed to find out; no changes for Kathy’s medicine so her visit was reasonably short.

Now we drive the Ford van to Al’s Tire shop in Barnesboro. It took about (20) min to finish the work on another vehicle before getting the Ford van onto that same lift. After talking with the mechanic & feeling comfortable with his skills, K & I walk just around the corner & have a cod fish sandwich & clam chowder soup…..much better than we expected.

After a tour of the thrift shop next door to this Italian Pizza shop, we buy some wine @ the State Liquor Store on Philadelphia Ave (it’s Zack’s turn to pay), then return to Al’s shop just in time to see the Ford van coming out & ready to go. I pay the bill (most reasonable), make sure the old steering box unit is in the van & then we continue on our way back to Indiana. What a nice difference this new steering box has made; Kevin will be pleased.

I had to pay a $100.00 core charge (normal fee) when purchasing the Steering Box unit so en route to the Foote Castle, we stop @ Napa, bring in the old core & get my $100.00 refund on my credit card. Next stop Toyota, where Lon comes out to the van, crawls underneath, checks for the rebuilt steering box, goes back inside the service department, makes out the new Safety Inspection sticker, then applies it appropriately to the van’s windshield. Then, we drive down the road to the nearest Sheetz fuel station & fill both tanks with diesel fuel before returning to the Foote Castle.

The Foote house is usually a busy place with daily or nearly everyday casual activities such as: Eriko, knitting a scarf since day one here in Indiana. She won’t say who it might be for….I’ve hinted that it would look good on me, but she only smiles.

Andrew & Jerry: sit on the piano bench & play a duet together, actually turning the pages as they tap out the notes. Matthew & whoever might be persuaded: build another train track of a challenging nature on the 3rd floor game room.

Nick, Zack, Katrina & occasionally Kevin: sitting, standing or lying on the floor: tapping the keys on their computer; using Google, e-mailing, watching a movie, programming whatever, etc. Melissa: carrying Nathan in a sling, whispering softly to her boys (she lost her voice), baking/cooking in the kitchen, etc. Kevin: preparing dinner meals, talking computer jargon with Nick & Zack, taking out the garbage, helping Melissa with the boys, etc.

Zack & Katie: spending a lot of time on their cell phones, mostly, but not only, making arrangements to have her dog and (2) cats flown to Seattle. All the adults took their turns washing dishes (we made a lot of dirty ones) and cleaning up the kitchen. Of course, Eriko & Nick were also busy caring for Jerry.

Honestly, I don’t remember what we had for sure for Friday’s dinner. It might have been grilled hamburgers with potatoes, corn, & salad. Melissa, if you read this, maybe you can set my meal memory straight.

Zack & Katie did join us this evening in playing one round of “Loaded Questions.”

@ the motel, I stay up a little later than Kathy for getting some extra computer time.

Lights out: 1:37am

Awake: 6:03am Sleep 6+42 cloudy-windy overnight @ Indiana, PA.

After breakfast in the motel, we make a quick trip to Hastings Clinical facility (45 min) where Kathy has some blood work done in prep for tomorrows visit with Doctor Brian.

Then we join the Koffee Klub in Nicktown for awhile (it was good to see & talk with the gang again), then attend 9:00am daily Mass @ Saint Nicholas church. We also pick up our mail from the local post office, talk with our near neighbor, Chuck, drive the van over to our property & make (2) trips around the circular drive (everything looks good). Then drive slowly by Theresa L’s renovated classic home & then, return to the Foote Castle.

Zack & Katie greet us upon our arrival. We discuss her quick trip from Chicago to the Pittsburgh Airport. Zack is all smiles having K T near his side.

Dinner: leftover spaghetti in sauce, whole wheat noodles, leftover ham, cranberries, leftover potatoes, gravy, etc.

Mid afternoon, the younger guys & gals make & decorate Christmas cookies in the dining room while Nick plays with Jerry downstairs in the game room with the Airport & Parking Garage units. In Kevin’s spare time, he gives Andrew some flying lessons & free fall experience in the living room, tossing him up close to the ceiling, then casually catching him before the landing. All that Andrew could say with a great big smile was: “Again!” over & over.

After the Foote boys were comfortably in bed & Jerry with Eriko upstairs, K T gets out her (3) board games that she brought with her to play with us. Zack carefully scrutinized these board games on the spot & slowly realized that maybe, the tried & accepted “Loaded Questions” game was more appropriate for the late occasion. A splendid choice I thought. K & I stayed & played the latest yet @ the Foote Castle; another fun day it was.

Lights out: 12:01am

Awake: 7:38am Sleep 7+25 cloudy overnight @ Indiana, PA.

After breakfast in the motel, using my Fluke meter, I take continuity & voltage readings on Kevin’s battery backup & surge protection unit for his home computers. About a week before we arrived in PA, he had called & asked me to bring my Fluke to see if I could repair the unit that he recovered from the university’s throwaway bin. My initial checks were inconclusive; without a schematic diagram, troubleshooting is most challenging.

Earlier this week, Kevin asked us if we could take some time to have the Ford Van’s Safety Inspection sticker renewed. Kevin selected the Toyota dealer in town to have this inspection performed. En route to Toyota, I drop Kathy off @ Michael’s craft store & then continue on to my 11:00 am appointment. (2) hrs later: with a new headlight, new wiper blades & a lot of talk about too much play in the steering box, the inspection failed. Lon, the mechanic suggested a rebuilt unit, made some phone calls, then handed me the estimated cost. “Oh, my gosh!” I replied. “I think I’d better talk with Kevin about this.”

In a phone call with Kevin, we agree to search for another place for purchase of a rebuilt steering box & someone else to install it. So I paid Toyota for the headlight, wiper blades & the cost of the safety inspection (van to return & sticker applied when rebuilt steering box is installed & checked).

Kathy was quite concerned when over (2) hrs later, she was picked up. “No, there is no other woman” I told her.

We arrive @ the Foote Castle & park on the street, leaving driveway space for visitors, like my brother, Don, his wife, Josie, their oldest daughter, Adrianne & her spouse, Les who pulled in right behind us. Corinne arrived a little later & joined in the festivities. Their visit with the Foote family & our family was most enjoyable. We couldn’t help noticing a slight change in Corinne’s profile….slimmer is the word.

Adrianne spoke of her business @ Hilton Head Island & the recent changes. Les revealed their home building plan change to perhaps buying a home due to the real-estate market. Bro Don talked business & stock talk with Nick & Zack & Josie presented Kathy & me with a fancy wine bottle opener as a gift. That thoughtful gesture brought about extra wine refills to her. All of this activity took place while the boys sat & played in the small 1st floor playroom with Corinne & Melissa. About 3:30, the Foote family had to leave, being invited to a birthday party of the daughter of some good friends. Don, Jose, etc stayed until about 4:00pm.

Getting back to the Ford Van & that Safety Inspection; I called the local NAPA store & the guy quoted a much more reasonable price for a rebuilt steering box unit. They are open until 6:00pm so I rush right over there & buy the only one they have in stock. Also this afternoon, I called Al’s Tire in Barnesboro & asked if their mechanics could replace a steering box on a 1984 Ford diesel van; “Yes” was the answer & our appointment was set for tomorrow @ 10:00am.

Since I missed the dinner meal, I find the spaghetti with sauce, whole wheat noodles & homemade spaghetti squash, homemade whole wheat French bread & mixed salad… & make up for lost grub.

In the kitchen, Zack uses his computer to plan the routing for picking up his girlfriend, Katie, @ the Pittsburgh Airport tonight. Her arrival time from Chicago: 8:00pm.

After the Foote family return from the birthday party & their boys are tucked into bed, we play a few rounds of “Loaded Questions” & have some more good laughs. We didn’t stay for Katie’s arrival which was estimated to be after 11:00pm.

Lights out @ the motel: 11:21pm

Awake: 6:23am Sleep 6+03 sunny overnight @ Indiana, PA.

It’s a “Merry Christmas” day. We have the complimentary breakfast in the motel before attending the 9:30am Mass @ Saint Thomas More church; the Foote family had already arrived & saved space in their pew for us. The church was nicely decorated plus the choir & musicians were in place for making music beautiful. These musicians for the most part, are professionals from the University of Indiana, Pennsylvania. This Mass was a marvelous start for a glorious Christmas day.

Back @ the Foote Castle, we find Eriko playing Christmas music when we arrive & the stockings were hung by the fireplace with care…. & soon the kids & young adults were getting candy from there!

Only the young boys received presents from under the tree: more Brio track, train cars, supports, etc; but also a parking garage & airport unit that had to be assembled. The exception for gifts was that Kathy & I received presents from Eriko’s parents: curry dinner assortment & tea for Kathy & (5) bags of Nescafe Excella coffee for me; I was thrilled to receive my extraordinary coffee. The young adults voted to refrain from exchanging presents with each other, deciding that the gift of “self” was the most important gift, making Christmas most special.

Kevin & Kathy were totally involved in making the Christmas dinner while Nick & Zack were busy assembling, 1st the Airport unit & then the Parking Garage unit which had the young boys mesmerized watching this amazing task.

2:35pm Christmas dinner: turkey, stuffing made by Melissa, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes & salad (made by Kathy), Jell-o, & corn.

Mid to late afternoon, the Brio train architects were busy on the 3rd floor designing & constructing more tracks with Matthew. Andrew & Jerry were encouraged to stay on the 1st floor during this time for security reasons.

This day went quickly! Melissa was unable to get her special rolls made in time for dinner, but she did get them made afterward and they were easily consumed. She also had made (2) pies, Pumpkin & Pecan plus a frozen Oreo crusted, ice cream, hot fudge dessert. Around 5:00pm, these treats were exposed to all interested parties & no one had to be notified twice.

Late evening after the boys were comfortably in bed, we adults again played the game: “Loaded Questions.” This was a good game for us; we laughed so much it brought us to tears.

Before driving back to the motel, I made sure the van’s transmission was sufficiently warmed up.
Lights out: 12:13am

Awake: 8:05am Temp? sleep 8+45 partly sunny overnight @ Indiana, PA.

After our breakfast in the hotel, I add ½ quart of transmission fluid to the Ford van’s transmission; without the customary warm-up that Kevin cautioned us about, we pull away from the Super 8 Motel & notice that even though the engine is running strong, the van is not moving @ the speed it should be. Soon, I must check the transmission dip stick to visually confirm the fluid level.

Last year for our Christmas holiday rendezvous, the main activity was focused strongly on “Brio” train track building & playing; this all took place on the 1st floor in the small play room. Guess what? This yr the main activity is: more “Brio” train track building with even more tracks, train cars, bridges, supports, etc, etc, on the 3rd floor in a newly designated playroom; a more suitable place for the architects to achieve their goals.

The configuration seems to continue as last year: build a different layout, take a few minutes to push the train & cars around the optional routes & then, tear it all up & start over again with different ideas that may be more challenging than the last. The (3) tier track layout was recognized as the best & most challenging of all that the master builders had displayed thus far. One has to be quick to take photos of each super-duper layout however as Matthew wastes no time in the demolition process, ready to eagerly build another.

Dinner by Kevin: (4) different pizzas: pepperoni & cheese, (3) different cheeses with pepperoni, Mexican, & ham & pineapple. Kevin is fine tuning his pizza making abilities each year & we are the delighted tasters.

After dinner, Kathy disappears to wrap some small presents for the boys.

I didn’t let the van idle enough to warm up the transmission fluid before leaving the Foote house tonight & sure enough, we pulled out on 6th Street & the van literally stopped with the engine revved up but not moving. A strange feeling….especially when (2) cars moving in opposite directions approached; one had to stop while the other went around us. After what seemed to be forever, I shifted into 2nd gear, then back to park, then again in drive gear & that seemed to get that fluid running into the right circuit to turn the wheels.
It happened again en route when stopped for a stop sign thru the IUP campus; no traffic but those (2) incidences convinced me to definitely get serious with the dip stick check.

Lights out: 12:20am

Awake: 7:13am Temp 52 sleep 6+00 cloudy overnight @ Indiana, PA.

We have complimentary coffee, Raisin Bran & instant oatmeal cereals for breakfast in the hotel, then join the Foote family for 9:30am Mass @ the Saint Thomas More University Parish church about (2) miles down the road. Matthew & Andrew seemed happy to see us & they both sat with us nearly the entire time. After Mass, we all stayed to help do a little decorating with the rest of the volunteers inside the church for Christmas. I did very little & soon realized these people have their routine & act together, so we may be more of a hindrance than an asset.

Back @ the Foote Castle, the rest of the gang is leisurely meandering around the 1st floor rooms with ease. Zack had arrived on the 19th & is looking good & quite relaxed in his casual attire. Little Jerry is full of smiles & seems to recognize us from our rendezvous in Seattle the last week of October.

Kevin disappears into the kitchen to begin preparing today’s dinner while the rest of us chit-chat about last night’s flight into Latrobe & how the sleeping arrangements went for the newcomers during the night. It wasn’t long before Kathy also disappeared into the kitchen to assist Kevin in the meal prep. After the big ham was heated sufficiently in the oven, I felt like I should be helping out with the slicing operation; that lasted for @ least (20) min until my boss Kathy keenly noticed that my slices were thick on one side & thinned on the other. I tried to ignore her casual suggestions, but after repeated efforts to clean up my cutting act, I had to admit, maybe she could do a better job than I.

3:30 pm dinner: Baked ham with pineapple, oven roasted red potatoes & corn; all very good.

After dinner, it was a delight to watch little Jerry & little Andrew play together, pushing & maneuvering a small shopping cart around the kitchen, dining room, & living room. They got off to a good start, playing well together.

Katrina & Kathy spent time playing a game of “Candy Land” with Matthew & he seemed to be catching on quite fast to the board game.

Early evening showers for the boys, then we all enjoy some popcorn with smoothies before Andrew & Matthew are encouraged to climb the stairs for bedtime. Little Jerry did take a late morning nap so he is not quite ready for his bedtime yet.

Later evening, Zack is in the spotlight with off & on questions & discussions about his soon to be new lifestyle in Seattle. Then Katrina, Nick, Zack, Kevin, Kathy & I play a game of “Loaded Questions.” We didn’t play too long but long enough to realize we should play this game again soon.

Kevin lets Kathy & me use their 1984 Ford van for transportation during our visit with a caution to start the engine up & let it run for at least (15) min before driving because the transmission is not working well. We make a stop @ Wal-Mart en route to our hotel for some groceries & a quart of transmission fluid. I am suspicious that the Ford van might possibly need more fluid. Today was a good start for a casual & entertaining holiday & family rendezvous with the busy & active Foote family.

Lights out: 11:20pm

Awake: 6:12am Temp 29 sunny & very little dew overnight @ Pahrump, NV.

After my coffee, I retract the remaining (2) slides, reset the inside temps of our motorhome for storage, load suitcases & bags into the Suzuki & drive over to pickup Rosemary & Gary @ 7:59am. They volunteered to come with us & then drive our car back to Pahrump after dropping us off @ the airport; very nice of them to do this.

We arrive @ the Las Vegas McCarran Airport @ 9:05am; we thank G & R for helping us out, wish them holiday greetings & (1) hr later, we are checked thru security & eating a breakfast of Kathy’s healthy muffins with some Starbuck’s coffee.

The leg from Las Vegas to Detroit was uneventful, mostly smooth & seemed to fly by quickly (no pun intended). The distance to our connecting flight & method of getting there was sort of interesting: walk quite a distance to catch a train, then more walking thru a beautiful, long underground tunnel that has music & entertaining soft lights that change colors as you continue thru to the next corridor. We had plenty of time to take our time so we really enjoyed this high tech journey.

Hanging out @ our gate for around (3) hrs was not so bad; besides packing the muffins, Kathy had a few other goodies that we snacked on during our layover. It wasn’t long before Nick, Eriko, & little Jerry arriving from Seattle joined us, a nice treat; then we are further joined by Katrina arriving from Denver. Having ½ of our kids with us made the time really fly.

Now the (6) of us are leaving Detroit heading for Latrobe, PA in a regional prop jet; the Captain announced that this flight would take about an hr. Well, they must have encountered some healthy headwinds as my watch showed (1) hr & (15) min from takeoff to touchdown. Pretty exciting (75) min ride as turbulence was everywhere; the pilots changed altitude numerous times in their attempt to find smooth air to no avail.

Both Kathy & Katrina were not feeling well with the continuous yawing with sharp vertical movement & I was a little concerned about the landing with these active winds; amazing as it was, during the approach & about (50) feet above the ground, the wind completely died out & the pilot greased the Saab 340 onto the runway like a champ. We all breathed a sign of relief.

Kevin was about (15) min late for our pickup but we didn’t complain. Time now, 11:30pm. From Latrobe to Indiana, an uneventful (50) min road trip; @ the Foote Castle, most of the occupants with their baggage strode into the house. Kathy & I went into the house without baggage for a few min. Kevin suggests we take their Toyota van to the Super 8 hotel where we will be staying & that was fine with us.

The Super 8 hotel guy was expecting our arrival so check in was routine & we ended up being in the same room as last yr which was great.

Lights out: local time, 1:13am


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