Saturday, May 31, 2014

Its Always Something

When Gilda Radner was battling cancer, she wrote a book called "Its Always Something", a line from her character Roseanne Roseannadanna on Saturday Night Live.  She was in remission from ovarian cancer and wrote her autobiography.

We were going great guns on our Bleecker property last year until August 27th.  I was felling a good sized tree.  I notched it and back cut it, and then turned off my chain saw and set it on the ground.  I pushed the tree over with one finger, and as it started to fall, I stepped back and to the side in case it kicked.  The vibration from the fallen tree shook loose a "leaner" to my left.  It too fell and hit me smack on the head.  I was knocked unconscious.  For how long, I don't know.  When I awoke, I was completely paralyzed.  All I could move was my eyes.  After some time, I regained feeling in my legs and left arm.  I got up and walked out of the woods to our screen house, where I sat drinking beer until I had enough feeling in my right arm to shift Pam's Miata and drive home.

I had a broken neck, fracturing two vertebrae.  I had a concussion to boot.  I spent six weeks in a neck brace.  My neck healed, and the only apparent side effect was numbness in the thumb and index finger of my right hand.  I didn't have much of an appetite either, and my food consumption was considerably less than before the accident, especially dinner.  Then, over the course of time, I noticed memory lapses.  Not the I-can't-remember-where-I-put-my-glasses kind, but the sort where I could watch a movie, and a week later not remember what it was about.

Physically, things started to happen.   My right foot became numb around the toes, and then started to ache. Is the bunion I've had for years acting up?  Then, about a month ago, my right shoulder started to ache, just like it did when I had a torn rotator cuff and had to have it operated on.  Gradually, I began to lose strength in my arm to the point where I have a hard time shaving and washing dishes.

I visited my doctor in Caroga Lake for my annual physical, which included a blood test.  Later in the day, she called the Unabomber Cabin.  Doctors never call with good news.  It seems that my B vitamin levels are low, especially B-12.  This can not only affect memory, but somehow can be related to my numbness issues.  She recommended vitamin supplements, which I'm taking.   I went to the local hospital for more in-depth tests and in the meantime Pam is giving me B-12 injections.

So it doesn't look like much is going to happen on the Bleecker property since I don't think that I can swing a hammer very well.  I'm going to have a go at building a 10 x 15 foot ground level deck to see how that goes, but I think a barn or house is out of the question for awhile.

Its always something.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Deck, and Getting the Garden In

I hied myself to Kingsboro Lumber in Gloversville yesterday.  I sketched out a 10 by 15 foot deck that I wanted (I always patronize local small businesses rather than big box stores whenever possible, and no, I don't really care if it is more expensive).  For $7.50 they delivered my deck to Bleecker.  Imagine my surprise when I found this in the driveway.

What the...  do you mean I have to assemble it myself??

Pam planted her garden.  Its very small because our soil is very, very rocky.  She took a pitchfork and mixed in some old Jeremiah manure by hand.  This whole thing took several hours.

My contribution was to spread the manure with the back blade on the tractor, and to build the little stone wall that serves as a boundary to the dogs.  I hope it also works for rabbits and deer.  Pam planted lettuce, tomatoes, peas, green beans, red and green peppers, jalapeno peppers, and other stuff that I've forgotten about.

See the chair?  That's mine.  I love work.  I could watch it all day.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

It was a nice weekend for Pam and me this Memorial Day weekend.  On Saturday, we picked up Pam's mom Judi and our friend Bill and drove to nearby Caroga Lake for a craft show and flea market.  It was rained out, so we went to Vrooman's for a beer.  We stayed for four hours!  Vrooman's has the best wings that I've ever had, and we made some new friends and shot some pool.

Sunday was a wedding.  One of my cousin's sons was getting married.  Since Pam and I have been gone from the area for so long, it was wonderful to catch up with relatives.  We hope to do more catching up over the summer.

Today we had a big bonfire over on our Bleecker property.  Judi and Bill came over, and friends Trish and Theresa.  We grilled some burgers, ate some of Pam's wonderful potato salad, and sat around the fire drinking beer until almost dark, which was 9 PM here.

To honor our servicemen, I posted on Facebook the names and photos of the five kids from Waterford, New York who were killed in Vietnam.  I did this on one of those "You know you are from XXXX if you remember..." private groups.  Vietnam veterans (I am not one) were treated poorly on their return from their tours of duty.  Heck, anyone in the service during that era wasn't treated well.  Thankfully that's changing, and today people can separate our service men and women from the wars they fight.  Today, you can disagree with a war but still honor those serving in our military.

Why didn't I serve?  Well, first I had a college deferment.  But then I didn't, and my number in the draft lottery was 176.  I was living and working in Plattsburgh, New York at the time, and every night I'd watch the news to see where the lottery was.  It was getting close.  I was working with another fella who was also concerned.  We discussed what to do.  We both agreed that the worst thing that could happen would be to get drafted.  You'd go through basic training, get handed a gun, and then sent to Vietnam.  He decided to go to Canada.  I decided to enlist in the Army.  I then proceeded to fail my draft physical because of poor eyesight.  I was now 4-F.  To be honest, I was kind of peeved.  I had just psyched myself into a military career, and they didn't want me.

Life turned out just fine anyway, but I've often wondered how my life would have been different had I passed that physical.

For the families that have lost sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, cousins, and aunts and uncles in the service, you have my deepest sympathies.

This photo below was taken on my grandparent's farm in West Charlton, New York in 1950 or so.  My Uncle John is in uniform on the left and served in World War II.  The tyke on the right is my Uncle Frank and served as a corpsman in Vietnam.

Frank came home from Vietnam but was not the same person as when he left.  As a corpsman, he saw some awful things.  Today, he would be diagnosed and treated for PTSD.  Not back then.  Frank, and his family, had some pretty rough times.  The effects of serving one's country doesn't always end when the enlistment does.   I know that Memorial Day is to honor those who died in the line of service, but for all of you who served and are still with us, you have my sincere gratitude too.

Friday, May 23, 2014

While the Cat's Away...

What's wrong with this box of Cheez-Its, made with real cheese?

Absolutely nothing.  That's my point.

While the cats are away, the mice will play is an old saying.  Well, when we and our critters moved out of the cabin, the mice moved in.   They destroyed one of Pam's sweaters, building a nest in it.   There was a nest in a clothes drawer and in a kitchen drawer.  Mice ran a muck here.

I had left that box of Cheez-Its on the living room floor.  It was untouched by mice.  They got into other food stuffs, but not the Cheez-Its.   Not even a small hole to see what was inside.  If mice won't eat that stuff, I no longer will.  I tossed the box.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Village Idiot

Well, the short story is that the Unabomber Cabin has running water and we're moved back in.

Long story.  After unsuccessfully trying to con some idiot into going into the well to replace the kinked hose, I realized I would have to be that idiot.  I borrowed an extension ladder and neoprene suit from Earl (Earl has at least one of everything ever made) and in I went.  It was actually an easy job, although I still froze right through the neoprene suit.  Bleecker well water is COLD.  At least I was only in it up to my knees.

With the faulty foot valve replaced and the kinked hose gone, everything should prime right up.  Should.  Nope.  Try as I might, priming the pump and all, it just wouldn't go.   After a couple of hours, I looked at the pump.   Hmmm....  when I drained the water lines in January, I removed both the intake and out-go lines.  They're both the same fitting.   In my haste, did I put those on backwards?  I quickly checked the manual, and sure enough, I had them reversed.  The pump was trying to drain the cabin's water lines and pump it into the well.

Yes.  I am now officially the Bleecker Village Idiot.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Water Water Everywhere And Not A Drop To Drink

Well, as Pam wrote, we're back in Bleecker.  My first job at the Unabomber Cabin was to prime the pump and get the water going.  I tried for hours but the pump wouldn't pump.  Earl came over and we puzzled over it until he finally said that we should check the well.  The well at the cabin is a dug well, a pretty simple affair.  We pulled the cover off of it and looked.  Plenty of water in there.  We pulled the pipe up.  After examining it, it appeared that the foot valve, a check valve that keeps water in the pipe, wasn't working.  I removed it and when I tried to take it apart, it fell apart.  The valve was all brass, but a retaining nut was stainless steel.  Electrolysis destroyed it.

I hied myself to Allen and Palmer True Value in Northville and bought another for $20.  I screwed it onto the end of the pipe, but when I put the pipe back in the well, the old hose kinked.  I pulled it out to straighten it, and it tore.  I removed the hose clamp to separate the hose and a plastic elbow down in the well broke.

Long story short, no one will come to fix it, so I'll have to do it myself.  This will involve putting an extension ladder down the well, climbing in to frigid waist deep water, and removing the broken elbow and installing a new one.


On a brighter note, the dogs and the horse are loving being  back in Bleecker.  It is all fun and games for them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Life's Little (mis)Adventures

Well, with a few hiccups, we have finally made it home to Bleecker. Dave can't get on the internet but for once, my Ipad sees the connection! So, since you have all been waiting with bated breath, I will give a quick update with a much better tale on it's way complete with the famous photos from Dave in a day or so.

We left Windy Ridge on Saturday morning and arrived in Bleecker by late afternoon. The dogs were ecstatic to pull in my mom and Earl's driveway! They burst out the car doors and ran, and ran, and ran some more! Jeremiah the Horse backed out of his trailer, took a look around and was quite content. He walked briskly to his barn, sniffed it inside and out and then began grazing on the nice green grass growing in his pasture. Aahh, to be home.

What were we going to do for dinner? Goto Vrooman's for wings! Our friend, Bill was at Mom and Earl's, so he was happy to join us. I missed Vrooman's wings. They are the best! Other places are good, but these....Mmmm, Hmmmm, the best!

Since it had been a long six hour day drive and we were all tired, we decided we would just stay in the RV at Mom's and then get everything turned on in the Unabomber cabin Sunday. All we need to do is wipe mouse dropping down, sweep, vacuum, unpack, oh! And turn the water back on. So mom helped me dust and wipe things down while Dave busied himself with getting the water turned on. An hour later.... No water. Two hours later, no water. earl came over.....and they pulled the cover on the dug well.... Seems the check valve, whatever that is, was not working correctly. Dave took it off and promptly broke it. Huh.... Well, guess we spend another night in the RV. Needless to say, it is Tuesday morning, I'm writing the blog and we still have no water in the Unabomber cabin. I am hoping it will be fixed by today, but for now, ya'll have a brief update of the goings on in the world of the Gibsons. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Horse Motels: Fort Valley, VA to Bethel, PA

We got a fairly early start from Fort Valley in the George Washington National Forest inVirginia, about 9:30.  It had rained heavily during the night and the roads were covered in all kinds of debris.  As we made our way down the windy mountain road, Pam called me on her walkie-talkie.

"David.  A light came on in the car."

"What light," I asked.

"I think its a low tire pressure light."

Huh.  Well, it was cool this morning.  Maybe that's it.  So we drove on and hopped on I-81.

"I need to buy gas, and I want to check the tires," she said.


She pulled up to a gas pump at Love's at exit 298, and then called.

"This tire is really soft."

That ain't good.   So she put air in it, but then heard air hissing from the tire.  She pulled to the back of the truck stop where I parked "the Boat".  

There was a repair shop at the truck stop, so I went to see them about replacing the tire.   The lady at the desk said they were booked and it would take hours.  With Jeremiah the Horse freaking out at all the trucks, we decided to call AAA.  A nice young fella showed up about  an hour later, removed the tire and put on the donut spare.  We couldn't drive home on a donut.  He said the garage he works at, Clem's in Stephens City, could do it.  So he gave me the address, 5170 Main Street, Stephens City and went on his way.  Pam wasn't feeling well, so I took off in the Kia, towing Jeremiah the Horse.

"Take ramp, on left, to I-81 north," Garmin said.

Several miles later, "Take exit 298 on right, then turn left."

So I did.

"Take ramp, on left, to I-81 south."

So I did... hey, wait a minute.  What?  I drove back to Love's at 291 and explained my predicament to Pam.  She didn't want to hear it, so I put the address in again.

"Take ramp, on right, to I-81 south."  OK, this is more like it.

"Take exit 283, on right, then turn left."

So I did.

"Take ramp, on left, to I-81 north."  This thing was driving me in circles.  I turned it off.  I drove to route 11 and stopped at a gas station to ask directions to Stephens City.

"Stay on route 11 north.  About 25 or 30 miles."

Stupid Garmin.

So I did, and I eventually found Clems, and got the tire replaced.  I drove back to exit 291.  Pam made arrangements at a horse motel named Windy Ridge Farms in Bethel, Pennsylvania.  It was a three plus hour drive, but we got here.  Jeremiah is in his stall, the dogs pottied, and Judy and Toni made Pam and I a nice dinner, knowing that we had a rotten day.  

Tomorrow we drive straight to Bleecker, New York.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Horse Motel: Fort Valley, Virginia

Yesterday was a short day, only two hours from Lexington to Fort Valley.  But that's two hours off of our next hop, which is to Pennsylvania, and which took us eight hours heading south in January.  Six hours is long enough, both for Jeremiah the Horse riding in his trailer, and for me driving RV "the Boat".   This thing is a handful.

Fort Valley is an RV and horse campground.  We have RV hookups and pens for horses here, so that makes it convenient.

The dogs like it here too.  So much to see.

This rig came in yesterday afternoon.  The horses seemed curious as to where they were.

And today, despite my misgivings, Pamela is trail riding for the first time since getting thrown from Gracie the Horse and breaking a rib.  I think both she and Jeremiah needed some riding time.

We're staying here tonight too, and then tomorrow its off to Pennsylvania, and then home to Bleecker.  I told Earl to scrap all those metal working machines in his garage and get a pool table.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Horse Motel: Lexington, Virginia

We're at Lazy Acres ranch in Lexington, Virginia.  It is a wonderful place for horses and people.  We stopped by here in January, for you avid blog followers, and are here again.  We fully intend to come back in October on our way south.

See the barn?  Notice the dormers.  There is an apartment over the barn.

This is Lacey, the ball chasing dog.  She will bring you a tennis ball for you to throw all day.

Like Griffin Ranch, Lazy Acres has cabins to rent.  Why stay at a Holiday Inn?

And if you have a horse, nothing could be better than Virginia in the spring.

Jeremiah loves it here.  So much grass, so little time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Horse Motel: Asheville, NC

When traveling with three cats, three dogs, and a horse, one doesn't stay in a regular motel.  One stays in a horse motel.  Pamela has been plotting our route on, which is basically farms and ranches that will board your horse, give you a place to plug your RV into, and who will love your dogs.

Asheville, in photos.

I love the horses.  So many breeds, so little time to figure it all out.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lost: One Large Horse

The day started out normally.  We bid our adieus to the Cheers Ranch and made a fairly short hop to Lakeview Plantation  in South Carolina.  The trip was uneventful, except for a very rough SC 321.  The inside of the RV reminded me of a mini version of Drift Away off Sandy Hook.

You may recall that we stopped here on our trip south in January.  We really like it here.  I stuffed RV "the Boat" into some tree branches for shade.  That's the nice thing about owning old stuff.  You don't freak out when you get a scratch.

Jeremiah was put in a pen, and Chevy thought he'd try seeing what it would be like to be a horse.

We forgot to pack up lawn chairs when we left Florida and it was a beautiful evening, so Pam drove into town to buy a couple.  While she was gone, I decided to use the floor mop to tackle the love bugs plastered on the front of  "the Boat".

When Pam returned, we ate dinner and sat outside in our new lawn chairs.  Chevy and Olivia were on leashes, and Ruby (the good dog) sat at our feet.  I notices that Jeremiah was banging around his pen.

"What's he doing?" I asked.

"Oh, he sees the grass outside and wants to graze."

"Why don't you stake him out and let him graze?" I replied.

And so Pam did.  After ten minutes or so of grazing, Jeremiah's hind foot became entangled in his lead rope.  He whinnied and jumped and twisted and fell on the ground in a panic.  This caused our male pit bull's instincts to kick into high gear, and Chevy charged Jeremiah, snapping his leash in the process.  Jeremiah galloped off in high gear with Chevy hot on his heels.  Pam jumped in the Kia to give chase, and I took off on foot.  I eventually got ahold of Chevy, but there was no sign of Jeremiah.  As I led Chevy the quarter mile back to "the Boat", I saw Jeremiah running off at full gallop down another dirt road.

We looked all evening, with the owners of Lakeview driving us down the roads, and the many wild pig hunters keeping their eyes open for him, but no sign of Jeremiah.  Around midnight, they found fresh tracks, but no sign of Jeremiah.  It was with a heavy heart that Pamela gave up for the day.

Dogs have a sense of smell at least 400 times better than humans.  All dogs can smell, but not all dogs can track.  That takes intelligence.  So the next morning, we loaded Ruby in the car and drove to the last place we saw tracks.  I told Ruby to find Jeremiah.   She looked at me with a "why?" kind of look.

"Go find Jeremiah the Horse.  Go on Ruby."

She sniffed in the air, sniffed the ground, and trotted off to the left.  She stopped and sniffed somemore.  She turned around and went off to the right.  About a half a mile down the road, she left it to the right and went through the woods, through some heavy brush, and disappeared over a small knoll.

"Ruby!  Come back!  This way!  Jeremiah couldn't go through there."

Ruby came back, trotted down the road, took a bend to the right, and there he stood, very still with his lead rope hanging to the ground.

"Jeremiah.  How are you buddy?"  I said, very softly.  I approached him very slowly so as not to spook him.  He stood very still as I took his rope, and he followed me like an embarrassed puppy dog.  As we walked down the road, Pam approached us in Kia.  She stopped and got out, and the look of relief on her face said it all.

"You found him!  Thank you!" as she gave me a kiss.

"Nope.  Thank Ruby."

Ruby is an amazing dog.  And we're happy to have Jeremiah back.

Friday, May 9, 2014

On the Road Again

We have mixed feelings about heading back to upstate New York from Florida.  Upstate New York has cool crisp mornings and mountains.  Florida has horses galore and new found friends and family.  But leave we did.

Pam is driving the Kia and towing the horse trailer with Jeremiah.  I'm driving "the Boat" and towing Earl's flatbed trailer.   No, I can't back up.

Our first stop was only a few hours away to Yulee, Florida and Debbie Crispen Manser's Cheers Horse Ranch.  That's Debbie below, petting a new foal, with Pam getting a low butt view.

Cheers does horse rides on the beaches of Amelia Island.  They have 40 horses, most of which aren't ridden and are rescues.  Some are old, one is blind, but all are beautiful.

Aww shucks.

Not just horses.  A couple of pigs too.

And chickens.

Oh, and it happened again.  Pam, Debbie, and I drove to Amelia Island to eat at Sliders.  The parking lot was full so I parked on the beach.  We all walked down to the ocean so Pam could get her toes wet, and on the way back a fella in a white pickup stopped.

"Hey, do you own a Trawler?"

Huh?  "Yes.  Yes I do.  Why do you ask?"

"Drift Away in Green Cove Springs?"

"Yes," I answered quizzically.

"I looked at it last year.  I'm the guy that wanted to give you a motorhome as partial trade."

Ah, now I remember.  I declined.  What in the world would I do with a motorhome?

Today we're off to Lakeview Plantation in South Carolina.  One the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again!

Certainly, Willie is an American original!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hot Hot Hot

Its been hot down here in Florida.  Its been in the 90s for the past month, maybe more.  Today it was 94 degrees and humid.  We were at the ranch, getting things packed up for our trip north.  We fed the horses, and then Pam turned on the hose.  Two horses came trotting over to cool off, Gracie and Tinkerbelle.

The farrier comes on Wednesday.  We're probably leaving on Thursday.  While we're really looking forward to getting back to the Adirondacks, we're also looking forward to getting back to Florida and the horses.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Second Cousin

I posted a blog a bit ago titled "What Are The Odds", about living and working in the very rural and sparsely populated communities of Fort McCoy and Eureka, Florida, and running into a whole flock of cousins who live here.  Well, I also have even more 2nd cousins (children of my cousins).  I have a whole new family!

This morning, cousin Justeen brought my 2nd cousin (her daughter) Kelly over to ride Pam's horse Jeremiah.

Kelly is 11.  She loves horses, and loves Jeremiah.

Janelle was there too.  She's 5 and also loves horses.

Carlie, aged 10, wanted to ride but had to put a bridle on her horse Blake.

Pam helped.  And yes, eventually Blake was all bridled up...

and Carlie had a nice time riding with Kelly and Janelle.

Horses are so cool.  And cousins.