Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Pow Wow

Pam and I, and Pam's mom Judi, went to a Pow Wow at Chambers' Farm in Fort McCoy (Florida) today.  I enjoyed it immensely, and the vibrant colors and driving beat of the drums really got to me.  I guess the only distraction was the sunglasses worn by the really cool native-Americans.

Please note, these are not costumes.  Costumes are worn by someone pretending to be someone else, the speaker admonished.  These are referred to as dancing clothes.

I was totally blown away by the rhythmic beat of the drums, and the  colors of the  clothes.  I was also very happy to see so many young people embracing their heritage. But please, lose the sunglasses.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Energy Conservation Night

For those of you old enough to be adults back in the 1970s and early 1980s, do you remember the "energy shortage"?  Gas lines?  Odd and even days to buy gas?  We were even concerned about being able to buy energy at all, let alone how much it would cost.  Being a young parent with a young daughter, I worried about these things, and even though we lived in a middle class suburb, I decided to buy and install a Vermont Castings Vigilant wood burning stove.  This was in the day that Vermont Castings had no dealers and I had to drive to Randolph Vermont to pick it up.  But it was that prized of a wood stove, so I did it.

I installed it myself, using tips I got from the half a dozen self sufficient lifestyle magazines that I subscribed too.  Google would have made this whole process so much easier.

With the wood stove installed, we enjoyed the free heat and warm fuzzy feeling it provided us.  My first wife and I also decided that we would have "Energy Conservation Night", a night without using any outside power.  We turned off the electric heat and cranked up the wood stove.  The electric lights went off and candles and oil lamps came on.  The TV was turned off and Sorry, Monopoly, and other board games came out.  Our daughter Becky, probably about eight years old, was very dismayed.  No TV?  No video games?  No.

For the first few weeks, it was just the three of us.  But then a couple of Becky's friends started to come by, sporadic at first and then on a regular basis.  Energy Conservation Night was a big hit, not only with us two adults, but with the kids!

Look, I'm probably the last guy who knocks technology.  I programmed, built, and sold computers for decades.  I love my GPS.  I loved my electronic navigation system on my boat.  They all served useful purposes.  But I don't have a cell phone.  I don't see what use one is, and the one time I did have one, people seemed to call me on it.  I  look on modern conveniences the same way.  They're nice to have, but also nice to do without.

It is never too late.  If you have a young family, consider having your own Energy Conservation Night, and  reconnect with your kids and their friends.  Maybe things weren't so backwards a hundred years ago.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Harvey the RV Heads South

Yes.  I've named our old Fleetwood Bounder Harvey the RV.  It came to me while driving from Bleecker New York to Eureka Florida.  I've always been a firm believer that pets and things name themselves.  You just have to be patient.  And maybe a little punchy.

We left on Monday.  We had a six or seven hour drive to Windy Ridge Farms in Pennsylvania, so I wanted to be on the road by 10 AM.  We got up early, and while I was winterizing the Unabomber Cabin's water system, Pam ran our stuff over to Harvey.  I finished and we were ready to go at 10:15 AM with the exception of hooking up the white trailer to the RV.  I backed Harvey up, after jumping him (Yes.  After spending $1,000 at Alpin Haus,  I'm still trying to figure out what they fixed.  So far, nothing), we hooked up... and had no lights.

"Huh." said Earl.  "They worked when I tried it with the truck."

We jiggled wires and did all the other man fixes we knew of, but no lights.  Luckily, I have a set of magnetic tail lights that are usually used on a car being towed.  I plugged those in and they worked perfectly.  The only problem is that the trailer is all aluminum.  Earl, Bill and I pondered this.  Finally, I suggested that if Earl had any angle iron, we could cut a couple of pieces, bolt them to the door hinges, and stick the lights on.  That's what we did and it worked.  12:30.  Getting late!  We were about to leave when Earl decided the trailer tires needed 50 pounds of air instead of 35.  By the time the compressor pressurized and we got air in the tires, it was well after 1.  After having to jump  Harvey yet again (and after turning him off when we stopped for gas), we were on the road by around 1:30.

We arrived at Windy Ridge about 8:30, and it was 9 PM before we were settled.  Judy, Windy Ridge's owner, had a fine ham dinner waiting for us.

Judi's little  Toyota.  Pam led the way, followed by Harvey, followed by Judi.  That was our caravan, all the way to Florida.

Everything was pretty uneventful after the first day.  Tuesday we arrived  at Lazy Acres in Lexington, Virginia.  We love it here, as does Jeremiah the Horse and all of our critters.  In the pic below, Ruby is watching Jeremiah graze,  while Sassy the Cat could not care less.

We also love Lexington itself.  It has a very vibrant downtown,  no doubt aided by the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University.  

Virginia Military Institute was founded in 1839.  It is a four year college with about 1,600 students.   VMI is the nation's first state sponsored military college.  Its mission statement says that it prepares its student to become "ready as citizen-soldiers to defend their country in time of national peril."

Washington and Lee University was founded in 1749 with a $20,000 endowment from George Washington.  It was then known as Liberty Hall Academy.  Today, it is a liberal arts college with about 7,000 students.

The next batch of photos were all taken on a short walking tour of downtown.

There was a farmer's market.   I love farmers' markets.

This is the inside of an antique store.

The brick sidewalk was inlaid with informational blocks.

Our stop on Thursday was a new one, Creekside Farm in Charlotte, North Carolina.  We were making a very long run from Lazy Acres to Lakeview Plantation in South Carolina, but that took a toll on us all.  Pam found Creekside, and it was perfect.

In the photo below, you can see 34 foot Harvey, hauling a 12 foot trailer, which I think was loaded with Judi's anvil and bowling ball collections.

Friday we arrived a Lakeview Plantation.  We planned to stay two days so Pam could get in some riding, but Saturday was down to 32 degrees.  With Florida beckoning and within a day's drive, we left for warmer climes.  Sorry, no pics.  We left in too much of a hurry, but I do have photos on the blog from last year.

We arrived in Florida around 4 PM, weary and achy.  It is now noon on Sunday, and it is 71 degrees.   We have lots of cleaning and fixing up to do, but the weather is grand.  It is forecast to be around 80 today and Monday, but then plummet to 52 for Tuesday's high.  That's fine by me.  In Bleecker, it will be in the 20s and snowing.  Poor Earl.   He should have come with us.