2017 Goals

No resolutions this year, just simple definable goals.

2017goalsHealth Goals:

  • Lose the last 20 pounds (be The Guy)
  • Keep my blood glucose within ADA ranges and work toward the lower ranges
  • Maintain a minimum of 150 active minutes a week

Creativity Goals:

  • Add six more songs to my guitar competence list
  • Finish a writing project
  • Create a minimum of one good photo a month

Activity Goals:

  • Bike the Cap2Cap from Richmond to Williamsburg
  • Explore the parks nearby
  • Log a minimum of 1000 miles on the bike

Fun Goals

  • Visit five more historical sites
  • Go to the beach at least twice
  • Visit 20 wineries

Real Life Goals:

  • Find a new job
  • Find a new church home
  • Get involved with community group(s)

All of these are doable, one (the 1,000 miles) is a real challenge.  But it will be a very good year if I can hit all of them.  Let’s see how we do.

Hoping that the new year is what each of us desire.

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Reports From the Travelling Circus

(July 13, 2014) – My friends know that I bear a curse.  Often the first words out of their mouths are “Any trouble this time?”.  And then they laugh.

You see, I have a travelling curse.

It’s been going on for years now.  I get delayed, bumped and re-routed.  If there is any bad weather in the area it will lodge between me and my destination.  The curse operates pretty much everywhere but it does have two primary loci – Philadelphia and Denver.  If my travels take me through either of those locations I am guaranteed to have some kind of an adventure.

I’ve learned a certain zen like calm about it all.

It’s either that or I just stopped worrying about it.  Pretty much the same thing, I think.

So today I am travelling home from the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE), a once every three years gathering of teens from all around the Episcopal Church.  As I have done several times in the past I was serving as a member of the team running the event.

Did I mention that this year’s EYE was being held IN Philadelphia?

(That’s called foreshadowing.  Pretty spiffy little writing trick there.  You should be impressed)

The trip into Philly went without any significant trouble at all.  That should have warned me.

There was some kerfluffle about just how I was supposed to get from the Villanova University campus to the airport on departure day.  That’s not really surprising as a thousand people have to be moved off the campus in a matter of 12 hours.  Planes, trains, buses, private automobiles.  They all have to be coordinated, loaded and leave, preferably without leaving anyone behind.  Since I was something of a supernumerary I was going to fit in where I could.  Between midnight and noon that plan changed five times.  It was frustrating but was really only a tiny quiver in the energy of the travel universe.

A tiny quiver of WARNING.  (FORESHADOWING!!!!)

I got to the airport with plenty of time to check-in, go through security, grab a leisurely lunch and make it to the departure gate.

Almost immediately there came an announcement that the plane was over booked and needed 4 volunteers to take a later flight.  Since I’m not in a huge hurry today (and after consulting my lady wife) I went up to volunteer.  A moment later it was all set.

Then something curious happened.  There were three young people seated just a row away from me in the waiting area.  A young woman who looked to be in her late teens/early 20s, a tall young man of high school age and an elementary aged little brother.  As I got back to my seat I saw the two older young people exchange a quick word of what was obviously very good news.  Then all three of them turned toward me, looked right at me and said “Thank You!”

The only logical response was  “What did I do?”

Turns out these three siblings had missed an earlier flight and it didn’t look like all three of them could fly home on the same flight.  With me volunteering a seat opened up and they would be able to travel together.

As a youth minister, the fact that I could help them out, even inadvertently, was the greatest gift I could have received at that moment.  It felt really, really wonderful to see the joy on their face.  All three of them thanked me and I told them I couldn’t be happier to have been able to help.

I even thought “Maybe the curse has been broken”.

Never disrespect a curse.  Never tempt one.

In a matter of minutes my cell phone rang to tell me that the 5:30 flight I had been bumped to was now delayed to 6:05.  Then the original flight was delayed (there was a small chance they might have gotten me on that flight if someone else hadn’t shown up), followed almost immediately by the flight being cancelled.

So now I’ll be here till at least 6 o’clock.

The travelling circus rolls on.

For a New Year

Well 2013 was quite the experience.

My wife and I tried living apart for almost 4 months, the longest we’ve been apart in more than 30 years.  We didn’t like it.  But we’re doing it again in just a matter of days.

My daughter began advanced studies aimed at a Master’s Degree.  So far it has made her a better writer, a more confident person and taken her (with some little drama not of her own making) to Ireland.  She’s going to do it again as well (although we hope without the drama bit).

I lost the best job I’ve ever had after 13 years.  That has been both painful and inspiring.  The truth is that it was time for some kind of change.  Either move on or re-create what I was doing all together.  I’m nervous but excited.  To those who made the last 13 years the amazing ride it has been my thanks and appreciation.  I’ll keep you up date on the journey.  All I know is that I am headed somewhere I didn’t anticipate.  Kind of enjoy that really!

My travels this year took me to Del Ray, Florida, St. Louis, MO; New York City including a trip to City Island for some of the best seafood I’ve ever had; toured the wine country of northeastern Ohio; Williamsburg, VA; and a couple trips to play tourist in Pittsburgh.  There was a LOT of driving back and forth to Buffalo and the surrounding area.

I’ve continued to struggle with the weight gain of a couple years ago.  I’ve made some progress but not enough.  The time off will let me focus better and, with any luck at all, jump start that process.

I want to focus on my writing and guitar playing this year.  It’s time to let my creativity have some breathing room.  Also a good time to do some more winnowing down of the many years accretion of stuff.  I will be digitizing anything of value.  Got some toys to help with that this Christmas.

So 2013 was a good year.  I’m hoping for even more in 2014.

Travelling By Twos – Plus One – Day Four

Not much to report.  Mostly a day of travel.  Nine more hours on the road.

Traveling bag

Breakfast was at the hotel.  Packed the car with all our souvenirs.  R got a variety of things but her pride and joy was a tri-corn hat with cockade and a maple wood fife.  My lady wife got a book on the ghosts of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown plus a Bruton parish Christmas ornament and DVD.  For me it was several pieces of Williamsburg pottery.  I had hoped to snag a tri-color cockade but couldn’t find one any where.  Ah well.

Oh and we all came home with wonderful memories.

There is still plenty for us to see if we decide to go back.  All of us would be willing to do that.

(Click on any the following photos for a larger version) 

DSCF1488_optBut maybe not this.  LOL.

(Post script – when I got home I went immediately to my dentist.  Diagnosis?  I had split a back molar right down to the nerve.  Normally the gums hold it together so it doesn’t hurt.  When I chew using that tooth the halves are forced apart exposing the nerve.  Which hurts.  A lot.

The dentist doesn’t think it is repairable so I will end up having it pulled. In about 3 weeks.  Sigh.  Soft food for a while I guess)

Travelling By Twos – Plus One – Day Four

Woke this morning without any pain again.  At least the days start off on the right foot with this foolishness.

Traveling bag

Breakfast is still on the pancake express.  Today it was local place Mama Steve’s.  The name was just too good to pass up.  Mama Steve’s is a bit more old fashioned breakfast diner.  Pancakes were delicious but I am always amazed at how expensive a pancake breakfast ends up running.  But hey, it’s vacation.

(Click on any the following photos for a larger version) 

DSCF1545_optWhen you’re only going to be in Williamsburg for two full days you have to pick and choose what you can see.  We passed on the Governor’s Palace and the Capitol building to see as many of the re-enactors  as possible.  We started off with the the stage actors.  The stage is set up on the location of the original theater building.  They did a variety of works all day long but we only managed to see the first one.  It was more of an introductory piece with one of the cast answering questions before they began.  Great fun.  

DSCF1562_optWe thought about hopping a ride on one of the carriages going around town but at $15 a head we decided to save that money for other things.  I think R was a little disappointed.  Maybe me too, just a tiny bit.

DSCF1565_optWe checked in on a couple more shops that we hadn’t seen before.  The cabinet maker showed us that catalog shopping has a much longer history than I would have thought.  They kept plain examples in the shop and you ordered the fancy stuff based on the drawings in the catalog.  Just beautiful work they are still DSCF1566_optturning out.  The other important visit we made was to the military encampment.  The camp cook talked about the rations we would have gotten (um, not something I’d look forward to under any circumstances), we saw “Brown Bess” musket demonstrated and chatted with the sergeant about life in the army in those days.

Interesting side note – I wore my Pittsburgh Dad t-shirt and got a ton of positive reactionl (Pittsburgh Dad is a YouTube series about the classic Dad from the ‘Burgh.  For those of us who grew up with one you’ll recognize him instantly.  If you want to know why your Pittsburgh friends are the way they are this will explain a lot)  Anyone with Pittsburgh connections spoke to me, baseball fans spoke to me wishing the Pirates well (this season the Bucs are everyone’s second favorite team.  Even a Reds fan wished us well).  It reminded me of just how much I love my hometown.

DSCF1578_optWe returned to the evening muster.  This time we got a better view of the Marquis de Lafayette.  The actor was a bit older than the General’s age of 22 in 1781.  On the other hand he really seemed to have the young Frenchman’s charisma.  Got to see more firing drills, bayonet drills and the cannon fire again.  Such fun.DSCF1527_opt

Dinner that night was at a local BBQ place, Rocco’s Smokehouse Grill.  Barbecued meat seemed like a good bet for me plus we were on a real tight timeline.  We had tickets for the “Ghosts Among Us” ghost walk that evening and just didn’t have time to drive far or spend too much time looking for dinner.  A very acceptable meal. (Lunch had been a disappointment.  We had gotten caught up with sightseeing plus the dramatized reading of the Declaration of Independence.  Most of the taverns had already closed for lunch by the time we were ready to go.  So we settled on some very average sandwiches from one of the “bakery” at one of the taverns.  Our least satisfying meal and the only place we came across a Williamsburg employee who wasn’t pleasant)

The ghost walk was fun and a little spooky.  The 7 PM show is child friendly and the 8:30 show is decidedly more “spooky”.  The actors really get into the roles and raised the hair on the back of head a couple times.  R was a little dubious about the whole thing.  Once we talked about it as an acting exercise that let her relax a little more.  Two of the stories were seriously creepy (kudos to the actresses) and one was a ghost story with a happy ending!  All of them are based on stories told in the time period at Williamsburg.

That made for a long day.  My pedometer said we’d clocked over 6 miles of walking.  So back to the hotel to pack and then to bed.

Travelling By Twos – Plus One – Day Three

The good news first.

I woke up to no pain in my tooth.  Breakfast quickly showed tha

Traveling bag

t the problem hadn’t gone away.  As long as I didn’t chew on the left I was good.  Not optimal but it should work.

Breakfast was at IHOP.  The two ladies made that choice but it does bring an interesting topic to mind.

What, exactly, is up with Pancake/Waffle restaurants in Williamsburg?  They are EVERYWHERE!  Most of them are local places, too.  Service was good, pancakes were good but bacon is definitely the enemy for the time being.

With that behind us it was time for Colonial Williamsburg!  This is a great time to visit by the way.  Temperatures in the low ’80s and most children back in school so the crowds are low.  The weather was glorious the whole time.

(Click on any of the following photos for larger versions)

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Williamsburg is a place where you can immerse yourself in history.  We were impressed throughout by the depth of the knowledge of the costumed staff.  They are not just parroting lines.  You can engage them in conversation on the subject at hand.  Even better they will often engage you in conversation to prepare you for the set pieces.  This member of the independent militia company was part of the Storming of the Palace (which takes place daily at 11 AM).  It commemorates a key moment in pre-Revolutionary Williamsburg history when the last Royal Governor removed all the gunpowder from the public stores in the middle of the night.  The conversations around us were quite amazing.

DSCF1508_optThe folks in the various shops are just as knowledgeable.  They are not just playacting roles.  The silversmith shop houses silversmiths, the milliner hat makers and seamstresses, tinsmiths, blacksmiths, weavers, shoe makers, coopers, gunsmiths and more.  All of them actively making the real deal products using the same techniques used in that time and place.  It is astounding to discuss the finer points of the trade with them.  (After years of reading about “hob nailed boots” I’ve actually SEEN a pair.  All because I asked).

DSCF1491_optI had lunch with these two lovelies.  The Kings Arms Tavern is one of the most expensive places to eat in Williamsburg.  Worth every penny.  Peanut soup, Southern Fried Chicken, a Norfolk Pottage Pye (chicken pot pie as it should be made) and a crab cake (NOT by me!).  Add in a Royal Punch, Rummer, chocolate fudge torte and syllabub (Wine-laced Cream whipped to a froth, seasoned with Lemon Zest, and garnished with seasonal Berries).  Astounding.  Sadly I had one bad bite and gave myself quite the jolt.  Still an amazing meal.

DSCF1475_optWe also visited the lovely Bruton Parish Episcopal church.  Lots of knowledgeable Episcopalians to answer questions (500 year old baptismal font, bible stand given by Theodore Roosevelt, etc).  Sadly our schedule had us leaving early on Sunday so attending a service there was out of the question.  Would love to be there for a Christmas Eve service.

At 5 PM there is a muster and trooping of the colors on the green behind the courthouse.  A perfect end to a wonderful day.

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Sadly the day didn’t end on a pleasant note.  By the time we were done with our evening dip in the pool (a GREAT way to recharge after a 5 mile walk) we were running late.  So we cruised back up Richmond Road trying to find someplace to eat.  We settled (it was after 8:30) on Carraba’s.  Normally we avoid chains on vacation but we were starving and a lot of places were closed.  The food was wonderful but one stray carrot shred pretty much wiped me out.

Sigh.  This damn tooth is starting to dominate the trip.

Travelling By Twos – Plus One – Day One and Two

I don’t believe omens.  Not really.

But this trip might just make me change my mind.

Traveling bag

We set out on Wednesday and things were off to a bad start right away.  Less than an hour down the road and one of the various computer alerts on the car went off.  “SVC Tire Monitor”.  My car came with those handy, dandy electronic monitors that track tire pressure while you’re driving.  The right front seems to have packed it in.  With hundreds of miles of driving ahead of us I needed to make sure that all was right with the tires.  Quick detour to a service station to double check the tires.  Most seemed to need at least a little air, the right front needing the most.  My dad was nearby again though.

Never trust the gauge on the inflation hose.  So I went to grab my pressure gauge.  The one he had taught me to always have in my car.  The one that wasn’t there.

Second detour, this time to an auto parts store.  Tire pressures all 5 pounds too high (yep, the old man was right again) so I adjusted them.

And we’re off again.

Easy ride to Ithaca.  Connected with R and off to dinner.  If you enjoy Mexican food I can certainly recommend Viva Taqueria in Ithaca.  Fresh California style taqueria food at a good price.

Seemed like the bad omens were behind us.

Yeah…

Day two was pretty dull really.  We split the driving three ways.  Made a couple stops, only got turned around once (not too badly) and made it to Williamsburg, VA in just about 9 hours total.  Pretty good.

Checked my e-mail just before we arrived and discovered that an opportunity I really wanted had fallen through.  Strike two.

We dumped our luggage at the hotel (Comfort Inn on Bypass Road.  Very nice, two pools, excellent rooms, good service) and headed out to Food For Thought on the recommendation of a friend.

Before I hit the final ill omen let me note – the meal we had at Food For Thought was fabulous.  Service was incredible.  Three thumbs up from us.  We had several truly spectacular meals and this one was in the top 3.

However…

Halfway through an amazingly good crab cake I bit down hard on something.  No idea what but it split one rear molar right down to the nerve.  It felt like that side of my face exploded.  R thought I was having a second stroke.  Only the stroke hurt more.  But not by too much.

We ended the day looking for something like Anbesol (which didn’t help much) and me hoping that the entire vacation wasn’t ruined.

But bad news comes in threes, right?   Please?