Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie
Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I went to a swing dance class recently, and it was a lot of fun. Almost all of the men in the class were experienced dancers. That always makes it more fun, when you're learning to dance and the ones leading know what they are doing. That might be part of why I enjoyed the swing class even more than the salsa class. I hope to do a lot more dancing.

Now I'm going to talk bugs. First, ladybugs. There are a huge amount of ladybugs here in Davenport. They are everywhere. In my car, on my car, everywhere I go -- even in the shower. I always think of ladybugs as good luck, so I make sure to place them carefully on a leaf outside when I find them. I like ladybugs. They are so cute in their red, polka dot dresses. They are the Minnie Mouse of the bug world. But there is another bug here that I don't like. I don't know what it is, but when I was working the other night, they chewed me up like crazy. I have big red bites all over my skin that was exposed, and they aren't mosquito bites. I did notice some swarms of tiny black bugs flying around and could feel something biting me. What the heck are those?

Rylie's Notes:

Forget the bugs, let's talk frogs. There are a lot of frogs around here. Big ones, little ones, and they make a lot of noise for such a small creature. The other things that make a lot of noise around here are the cicadas. How can a bug, even if it is a big one, make such a huge racket? It sounds like some kind of electronic alien communication being blasted into space

Sunday, September 27, 2009

One True Thing

I have had to play Ms. Fixit this week. It seems that lately, an unusual amount of things have gone kerflooey. Ever since my last water heater repair, when the thermostat was replaced, my water heater doesn't want to work when it rains, and even for some time afterward. Well it rained this week, and I needed a shower. I got my hair dryer out and ran that around the water heater parts for a spell, and then it seemed to work just fine.

Then my printer suddenly decided that it no longer wanted to print documents. I messed around with that for a bit and finally coaxed it into putting things on paper again. Then the shower head went on strike, and refused to give me any water. One day before work I had to just remove the shower head and shower with the stream of water coming out of the hose. I checked the connection, but couldn't find any mineral build-up between the hose and the shower head, and there was no way to take apart the shower head. I needed a new one. I made a trip to the RV parts store and bought a new shower head -- one that is soooo much better than the original one. It has four settings, including massage, and I am very pleased with it. I don't know why they put such cheap fixtures in these motorhomes. We pay good money for these things!

That brings me to digital TV. Since I installed my digital converter box, I have noticed that quite frequently, the picture and sound get a bit scrambled. It seems to happen most severely when it is windy outside, like it is tonight. I was trying to watch "One True Thing" with Meryl Streep, William Hurt, and Renee Zellweger, which was on TV. This movie touches me deeply every time I see it. Maybe because Streep and Hurt remind me of my parents, in some small way. If you haven't seen it, you should. Maybe it's a chick flick, but it has an important message in it. Unfortunately, the picture and sound kept scrambling at all of the most important parts, leaving everyone sounding like Darth Vader, only worse. Frustrating. Does anyone know of any cure for this?

Rylie's Notes:

Forget about the repairs, let's talk about the Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra ice cream that The Staff has squirreled away in the freezer. I haven't seen any of this creamy delight appearing in my dish. If only I were tall enough to reach the freezer!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dancing Shoes

When I started traveling fulltime more than three years ago, I sold or gave away most of my possessions, but there were still things that I thought I needed to keep but which would not fit in the limited storage compartments in the motorhome. My parents told me that I could store some things at their house, so I did. I stored photos, books from my collection that I couldn't part with, things that belonged to my Grandma, paperwork, clothes and shoes. In three years of travel, I found that the only thing that I missed having with me, other than photographs, was my dancing shoes.

Years ago I took a salsa and swing dance class, and we were required to have official dancing shoes. When I was in Tucson last spring, I went to some salsa classes, but I did not have my dancing shoes, and I found I was having a very difficult time with my turns. I missed my shoes.

When I was in Duluth I went through all of my boxes stored at my parents' house, got rid of more stuff, and put my dancing shoes in the motorhome. Tonight I got those shoes out of their box and wore them to a salsa class, and I had no problem with my turns. It's all in the shoes. There is a swing dance class starting next week, and I plan on taking that one too. I also found a yoga class, and a place that has a lot of live music. There is more to do in Davenport than I thought there would be.

Well, the perfect Iowa weather came to an end yesterday when we got some rain. More is expected tomorrow, so I could be having some time off. That's okay, because I have plenty of indoor activities to keep me busy.

Rylie has been having fun getting tormented by the squirrels. They are black here, and very bold. They like to wait until Rylie gets pretty close before they scamper up a tree, and then they hang around close to the ground to see if he'll come up after them.

Rylie's Notes:

Those squirrels aren't so bold. If they were bold, they would stay in our yard when I'm coming outside instead of running up a tree. I could use a new squeaky toy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reality Check

Today I found myself getting really annoyed. I was planning to grill some chicken breasts that I had marinated, and which really needed to be cooked up today. I got my grill out from its new storage location in one of the outside bins (yes, it fit!), attached the regulator and the propane tank, but the bugger refused to light. Even with a lighter. I could hear the propane flowing, and I had done a leak test with no indication of a leak, so I have no clue why it won't light. I find it very frustrating when things don't work, especially if they are somewhat new and I paid good money for them. I added this to the list of other things that I have had trouble with lately, like my overhead light, the skylight, the water pump, and the water heater, and I got myself worked up into a fine, little snit. Yes, I was swearing like a sailor. Then I got a reality check.

Normally I can't stand reality shows. I find them to be petty, fake, and just a bunch of whiny people getting nasty with each other. With one exception -- The Biggest Loser. Somehow, this show has wormed its way into my heart, and I don't think it's like the other reality shows. For anyone who has ever tried to lose weight, whether it's a few pounds or 100 pounds, you know how hard it can be. I know I do. Last year I lost less than 20 pounds, and I know what persistence and hard work it took just to lose that small amount. And to hear the stories of some of the people on this show, you can't help but be inspired. Like tonight. There is a woman named Abby on the show whose husband and two young children were killed in a car accident, and somehow she has to find the strength to keep going, even though she would rather not. She had everyone in tears, including me. I realized that my non-lighting grill and other malfunctions are non-issues.

Here I am in Iowa with the corn. Corn, corn, and more corn. Does anyone want any corn? Actually, I can't complain. The weather is perfect, the people are nice, and sales have been good so far. There have also been some beautiful, great balls of fire sunsets. I also get free movie rentals at my RV park, and they have some good ones. I'm a lucky bugger. So far I have seen The Soloist and Doubt, both of which were very good.

Rylie's Notes:

There is a lot of grass around here, and The Staff has been letting me lay outside in the morning sun for a good roll in the grass. I'm not so sure I'm crazy about that big hawk that was flying around us and watching us this morning, though. It thought it could take me, I'm sure of it. I wasn't scared, though. If I can face a bear, then I can surely handle a bird.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Three Amigas

DeAnn, Me and Amy

I had such a good time in Minnesota. There's nothing like a good dose of family and friends to make you feel loved and appreciated. I am one lucky bugger to have such great family and friends. It was a very busy time with lots of work at my parents' house, but I also got out for some fun with friends. My sister Amy and I always have a good time when we get together, and my friend DeAnn was in Duluth at the same time that I was. Dee and I met when we were teenagers and worked together at a Duluth restaurant, but we both moved to California in the 1980's, and our friendship has continued over the years. I also got together with other family and friends, but my camera was on strike most of the time, so I have few photos.

My parents are getting their house ready to put on the market, so there is a lot of work going on at the old homestead. While I was there they had a new septic system put in, their roof repaired, and I helped them to start getting rid of all of the stuff they have accumulated over the past 42 years of living in that house. We had a garage sale, contacted book and antique dealers, and I was painting their ceiling up until 10:00 last night before I hit the road today.

My Dad recently built a deck on three sides of their house, and it looks great. What amazes me about this project is that my Dad is legally blind, and he never did this kind of work in the past. He created special blocks to use for measuring, and educated himself on how to build a deck. Now that he can no longer drive, he has to find projects at home to keep him busy.

I lived in this house from the time that I was in first grade until I flew the coop, and I will admit that I'm feeling a bit sad that they are selling it and I will no longer be able to come back for visits to my childhood home in the woods. But winter comes early and stays long in the Northwoods, and my parents have had enough of the winters. They plan to move to a more hospitable winter climate. The leaves on the trees were already turning, and they get the lovely orange and red leaves in Duluth.

My parents are very fond of Rylie. We always had dogs when I was growing up, but they were not treated like members of the family. They were never allowed on the furniture, and couldn't even go upstairs where the kids' bedrooms were located. Rylie, however, has the full run of the house, and my parents even let him sleep on their beds. Not only that, but they let him give them kisses. Amazing what the grandkids get away with.

Rylie's Notes:

What can I say? Those other dogs didn't have charisma.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Work, Work and Work

I have been approached by a couple of different people about doing work for them, so right now I have two other businesses in addition to my Air Photo work. Although I have not done any Air Photo work for the past month, I have been keeping very busy with my other work, plus doing things here at my parents' house. I have extended my departure date about five times now. I'm really glad that I've been able to have this extra time with my family. I'll be getting back to my Air Photo work next week when I head to Iowa. After that I'll be heading to Beaumont, Texas, then to Southern Florida for the winter. I'm excited about going to Florida. I've never been there, and I'll be able to explore parts of the country that I haven't seen before.

My visit here has been very busy, but it hasn't been all work. I have had time to play too. I attended my 30 year high school reunion, which was more fun than I thought it would be. I had not attended any previous reunions, so it was pretty interesting to see what people have been up to and how they have changed. I must say that the women have aged much better than the men have. I couldn't recognize most of the men, but for the most part, the women looked pretty similar to what they looked like 30 years ago.

No more bear sightings, but Rylie has been wearing his bear bell on our morning walks. I don't need any more close encounters of the bear kind.

Rylie's Notes:

That's a noisy contraption that The Staff is having me wear in the morning. I can't even hear myself think with that thing on.