Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Passing of Clyde Sisson

It is New Year’s Eve and I will be having dinner at Red Lobster and then off to the house to watch the ball drop. I had a fun day, hiking in the cold morning (31), playing golf (46), riding my new bike (with only three gears so it will be very easy to maintain), then walking with Rob at Tom’s Creek trail. Pugsy isn’t doing well and couldn’t finish the hike, the first time that has happened. Mr. Sisson passed away last night and I sent the Sissons a big Harry and David box. I saw him at the hospital on Saturday and then I visited him at home on Monday evening and chatted with many of the Sissons. I will miss Clyde, a unique man with so many talents, a man who could fix anything and who knew more history than anyone I have ever met. The viewing is Friday and the funeral is Saturday. I had dinner with Cathy last night and that was fun. She is feeling better and that was good to see. My dental nightmare continues since at my supposed final appointment on Tuesday, the new bridge didn’t fit and the dentist will have to send it back. I now have a “final” appointment on Thursday the 8th at 12:10 and then I will head down to Charlotte to begin my 6 days at Wild Dunes. My paper wasn’t accepted at CEA despite the President assuring me that since they were asking me to renew my membership, that my paper had been accepted. I am actually pretty glad since I didn’t really want to write it and I didn’t want to go to Indianapolis in March.

Monday, December 22, 2014

the new york trip

My visit to New York has gone surprisingly well, even though I had a lot of misgivings on the way up. The weather has been cold, and sometimes overcast, but I haven’t been troubled by rain. My visit to Kelly’s went well and though it was short (about three hours), I had a fun visit, and Lucia was glad to see me and play. Liz and Theo were there and it was nice to catch up with them. I left before nine, just as I promised and that made it easier for Kelly and Alfredo to put Lucia to bed (though she wanted me to stay longer). The drive up from Catonsville was pretty easy and I even got a chance to play nine holes of golf (shooting a 48) and a nap before I ended up at Ferry where I headed into the city around three and walked up to the WTC memorial, then had a mainly vegetarian dinner at Blue Smoke (with just a little pulled pork). I walked a bit after that and then went to watch the Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, which was pretty good, even better than the first one. I took the ferry over and ended up eating a little too much but overall a good day. My second day was also very good, with a bike ride at Willowbrook Park and then back to the hotel for a nap and then off to the ferry, and a walk through Times Square and then up Fifth, to Rockefeller Center and up to Central Park and a quick walk through the zoo area before heading to Nepresso to drink a fine cup of coffee and taste a delicious chocolate tarte. I also wrote both versions of my story, and I hope my friend likes them. Then it was more walking and back to the ferry and then driving to the Liberty Tavern on Forest for dinner and the Duke game (Duke beat Connecticut, but not by much). My third day has also gone well, with a bike ride at Willowbrook, a brief rest at the hotel and then off to visit my parents’ grave. I’m glad I went to visit though I can’t say it had much of an effect on my. Then on to the ferry and a walk up to the South Street Seaport and a fabulous late lunch at Suteishi on Peck Slip of grilled eggplant, crab stuffed mushrooms and a spicy tuna roll, all heavenly. I then took the subway up to 68th street and had a 40 minute walk through Central Park that was very nice, then a walk over to Bouchon Bakery for a Linzer Tart and some coffee. On Saturday I did 40 minutes on the stationary bike, did some yoga, then got ready to head to Gabes. The bus ride to the ferry was depressing since it goes through some pretty poor neighborhoods, but I made the noon boat and got to 77th street in Brooklyn by 1:20 so I had time to eat. Gabes’ new rental house is first rate and I had my own room which was very nice. It is two stories with Arlene living in a basement apartment so there is plenty of space. I went for walks, played with Julian a lot, talked with Francesca and Gabes and enjoyed myself quite a bit. The next day I did more walks and treated them to brunch, then had a nice time at their party, and played 15 games of Chutes and Ladders with Julian, who enjoyed each game. I got up early and since no one was stirring I headed off, anxious to get going particularly since there was a chance of freezing rain. I got back by 10:00 and was driving right away. The sky had breaks of blue so I stopped to play golf at Blue Mountain (there were too other golfers) and I had fun and shot a 48 even with a 9 on the second par 5. I kept driving and past Harrisburg the rain began and I was worried about even getting to Hagerstown, but I made it to Winchester so tomorrow should be much easier, although freezing rain in morning could slow me down. I rode the motel’s stationary bike and used their weight machine, then I did my yoga in the room before I went to the Texas Steakhouse for salmon and crab cake and veggies.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

getting ready to head to Catonsville and NY

Today was a very good day if somewhat expensive. My bike really can’t really be repaired at this point so I am buying another one with fewer gears and one that should require less maintenance. With the trade in on my Trek, it should run about 400 more. I did have a nice bike ride on the Huckleberry even if I did have to play my music to drown out all the mechanical noise from the bike. I cut up and moved almost all the remaining stuff that needed to be cut. Another half hour of moving and everything should be fine. I took a nice walk in the morning and ran into a yearling calf that had gotten in so I had to chase it out and then go and refasten two strands of barbed wire. Getting up and down to the stream was the problem. Although it was only about a foot and a half down, it was slippery so I had to be very cautious. The house is in good shape and I hope to change the oil in the generator tomorrow. This was a tough semester but I am starting to relax and playing a little video golf, doing my lumosity training every day, keeping up on my blog. Not a bad life at all and with my weight below 218, I am feeling very positive. I hope me trip to Catonsville works well and then I hope the same for the NY trip. The weather looks pretty good in both places. I think my knees will be okay. I did get three more photos for the Phil Chase article and that should do it if I can get the other people in the photos identified.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

a tough semester comes to an end

I have two days left of finals and then off for 5 weeks. As I have gotten older, I need more and more time to recover from a semester. I drove up to Roanoke today, after taking a morning hike and doing my weights and yoga, and picked up my hip waders, which I hope to use soon. I also played golf up at Olde Monterey and shot a 49, with my putting pretty poor. I think it was a little warmer so I may go up again if there is a great difference in temperatures between Ironto and Roanoke. Gloria sent me a Christmas card, so I guess she is taking the strategy of not dealing with the problem. She did the same thing with Kathy Roche and with Jill but I am not going to let this go: either she discusses her behavior or I won’t call her. I don’t need another person being rude to me. I will see Claire for dinner tomorrow and I hope her trip to Atlanta went well. I saw Abbey and gave her some money so she can apply to more graduate schools (after I promised not to give out any more money right now, especially after I gave 250 to Heifer and 250 to Americares). I did a great job on the storm door, moving the side away from the hinge about a quarter of an inch out and the door now closes perfectly. The electric heater in the bedroom is working well. Twenty minutes before I jump in bed and I don’t have to hide under the covers; I can read (right now, another top 100 from Modern Library, I, Claudius). I finally got under 220 the last couple of days and if I keep avoiding carbs I think I can get down to 212 (I’m at 218 right now). I have finished the Kaatskill Life article and I have one good shot of Phil Chase and I am hoping for a couple more. One might have to do. I got the field guides for Lucia, and I think she will like them.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

last week of classes

A cool and rainy day Saturday so not much outside stuff. I did clean out the truck a bit and got rid of some paper recycling. I rode my stationary bike for 40 minutes and did my weights and yoga. I really have to get back to 215 (at 221, the idea of 210 seems far fetched) and see if it affects my knees. If weight loss can help I should try that before committing to a knee replacement. I did charge up the batteries and put out two of the sticky traps because the mice are still nesting on top of the generator, which could cause real problems. I have almost finished my work on 454 and 310 and I have to grade the first part of the 203 final and on Thursday give the second part. Next semester is not going to be anywhere as easy as this one and at points I felt somewhat overwhelmed even with this 3 course load. I am almost finished with the Catskill Legends piece and I think it is a decent little article. I ordered part of Lucia’s present and I told Kelly I really can’t move the TV (my knees are just too bad right now). I did participate with Gyorgyi in the Eric Garner protest, and we marched from the War Memorial to Squires, where we lay down for 4 and ½ minutes, then to a meeting on racism at Tech. It was pretty powerful. I haven’t heard from Gloria so I assume she doesn’t want to discuss her visit. That is of course up to her. This is a big day for the Football Playoff and Oregon is certainly in and TCU clobbered Iowa State so they should be in also. I am watching Alabama beat up on Missouri and then there are three games tonight.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

a very good break so far

My break is progressing well. I have gotten some good bike rides in, and a number of hikes with Rob. I sent Kelly an email about my upcoming visit making it clear that if things were too hectic for her, then I would head straight to new York. I also emailed Gloria and I hope she responds. I think it is unlikely. I have finished a draft of my Catskill Life article and I sent out a couple of poems. I finally fixed my sleeping mat holder in my office and now it won’t sag anymore. I haven’t been able to talk to Cathy but I hope she is okay. My finances are tight but I think I am just going to dip a little more into my 403B or else it will be very tight for the next year at least and I don’t want to live that way. I have been doing hikes in the hollow the last few days and that has been very good even though late fall is clearly here. The greenhouse is still producing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgivng Break--At Last

I am taking it pretty easy over the Thanksgiving break. I had a good visit to Charlotte, playing golf twice at Regent Park, driving to the Congaree (which I was harassed by Ranger Meekins) for a bike ride and a hike, eating at P. F. Changs and at the Capitol Grille. I have gotten back into writing the Phil Chase piece, and I am almost done with all my course grading. I should be done tomorrow. This morning I cut down a number of trees (up to about 5 inches) with my new Stihl battery chain saw, and it worked very well, slow but with plenty of battery to get all the trees down and then some of the cleanup. I then fixed the boxes in the truck, switching out the broken one and putting cardboard on the bottom of two more so things won’t drop through. I also ate a salad from the green house and watered it so I should have lettuce for a few more days if not weeks. I am bringing my electric heater home from my office to see if that will work to help warm up the bedroom. Now when it is cold, it is pretty cold until the temperature gets up to 76 in the living room. This might save some fuel and make it comfortable enough to read for a few minutes. I walked with Rob tonight (as I did yesterday) and we had a very good chat. Things with Becky are going well and her new place should be fine after all the work is done. Claire and Luke are doing well, spending Thanksgiving at her parents, and I am happy for her. Today I also had a golf lesson on sand traps and bought a lob wedge from Michael, which is much easier to use than my sand wedge. My finances are quickly depleting but I should make it to March without having to take any money out of my 403B. I wrote Kelly an e-mail after our conversation where she told me that my last visit was too long and I made it clear that I had no idea that it was. She left a sweet phone message inviting me up for Lucia’s birthday. That should work well since it will be on my way up to New York and it will save me driving back up to see her. I talked to Marv and I should be seeing them in January when I go to Wild Dunes. My knees are not very good but I am doing a lot of things. I just hope they hold out till July, when I plan to have the first knee done.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

one more week before thanksgiving

I think my headaches were caused by my dental work, since they have cleared up as my teeth continue to heal. I have one week to finish before Thanksgiving and then one week of teaching before exam week. This semester has gone pretty fast and it has been rather easy, but spring should be much tougher. I did my open house today and that went quite well, with six students visiting. The two ambassadors, Lauren and Jenna, were very sweet and I joked with Jeanie a little and she took a picture of me pretending to be asleep. I will be having dinner with Claire on Tuesday and I’ll catch up on how things are going with Luke. I saw Rob and things are okay with him but they have to potential to heat up, as they usually do. I will be looking at a 165K condo on Monday. It’s on Chowning street and is one story with five rooms. I doubt I will be buying right now but I do want to see what is around. Haven’t heard from Gloria so I assume she doesn’t want to discuss her behavior during her visit, which is fine with me. If she is comfortable with her behavior, then I have no desire to deal with her. My friend Dave is doing very well, having been in a coma for eight days and almost dying. He is in rehab and I spoke to him for a long time and he sounded pretty good, although very slightly slurring his words. I played golf today even though it was in the low forties and I had fun. Now I am watching the Alabama/Mississippi State game, which is 5-0 Alabama right now. I hope it is close.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Three weeks left in the semester

Another week of teaching finished and I think it went pretty well. I did evaluations in 203 and 310 and those should be around 3.8 with the 454 course still waiting. The one student in 454 who has problems with his writing is probably going to blast me in the evaluations even though his writing problems should have been addressed years ago. I worked a little on the Phil Chase piece and I should be able to get it finished on time. I talked to a realtor down in Isle of Palms and I should be about to get a place down there for two months for around 3 grand with a possibility of it being in Wild Dunes. Claire is doing well and I should see her next week for dinner. I should be having dinner with the Gallos tomorrow to celebrate both our birthdays. My headaches remain but I think they are getting a little better since I started taking more blood pressure medication (which Cathy said might cause the headaches).

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A fine birthday weekend

I had a very good birthday weekend and I still have a dinner with the Gallos to come since Cathy was sick. I had a lobster dinner at Red Lobster on the 31th and the next day I had a nice lunch at Rob’s and then a pizza dinner and a movie with Gyorgyi. Zombie after Bark went well and I did look pretty effective. I had a nice time with Jeanie and Stacey. My teaching week went pretty well and I have three more weeks till thanksgiving. Only Andy showed up for the visit to my hollow for the 310 class but it was nice to talk with him, eat some good food, and take a walk down to the gate. I played golf even though it was in the low forties, and I played rather well. Claire is doing fine and I should see her for dinner this week. Gloria called for my birthday as did Kelly and she sent me a picture of Lucia’s card which was very cute. Gabes sent me birthday greetings also and I am looking forward to seeing him in December. I had dinner with Maddie this week and that was fun and I drove her home on Friday.

Friday, October 24, 2014

leaf change is very fine this year

Two more weeks of classes finished, and I think things are still going well. I will probably have a couple of unhappy students but their problems are beyond what I can help them with. I have five weeks of classes left and then a four course spring that should have me with a hundred plus students. If I have to have my knee replaced in the mid-summer my fall courses will be a half load and I should be fully recovered by November. I finished my IT training so that’s done for a year. Claire is doing very well and there’s a good chance she will be moving to Atlanta in the spring with Luke. She will probably be engaged by then and I am very glad things are going so well. I walked with Rob last night and more nastiness from Fay. Why can’t she just leave him alone? I have decided to dress up as a zombie on the 30th for the zombie run. My knees are pretty bad but I have found that by cutting my biking to 40 minutes and hiking up to the orchard once, they feel better. I am still doing my weights and yoga. Maddie is doing well at VT and I am glad about that. I may see her for dinner next week. I have been playing golf (and will play today) but not walking too much at night because of my knees. I am still about 220 and I would like to get down to 215 soon.

Friday, October 10, 2014

eighth week of teaching finished

Another week of teaching is over and in a half hour I will be heading over to see The Judge, which I am very much looking forward to. My teaching went pretty well, and eight weeks are done. I recorded my Lindsey Stirling essay up at WVTF and that went well. At best they will use a teaser for it so the only way to hear the whole thing will be from their archives. I went to Social Security after the recording and I got my code and was able to log in. As I predicted, at 66 I will get around 25K each year. I also spoke to the RU IT guy and he was very apologetic about the security training and agreed that it is an awful system. He is going to come over and help me get set up. That was very good to hear and I have until December to finish things up, not just 7 days. I volunteered for 2 of the open houses so we’ll see about that later. I made my reservations for 6 nights at wild dunes and 5 at the Hampton inn in Staten Island, but that will change to 3 after I figure out when I will be staying at Gabes. My greenhouse is doing very well with lots of lettuce, a few pea plants, a few spinach plants, and a new crop of lettuce starting up. I did a good bit of grading so I am glad of that. I also got a walk in with Rob which was a lot of fun.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

sixth week of teaching finished

It is another catch-up entry, this time on Sunday, October 5. I had a lovely day, taking a hike in the morning to the orchard, doing weights and yoga, doing a wash, checking the solar batteries, and fixing the fan for the heater. I am ready for my seventh week of classes, almost halfway through. The past week was very good and my classes went well and I got the house completely cleaned up from Gloria’s visit. I saw Maddie on Thursday and then drove her home on Friday afternoon, saving Cathy a trip. I have been riding my bike almost every day for an hour and my greenhouse has been producing very well. I will be seeing Kelly on the 18th and that should be fun. Seeing her and Alfredo and Lucia is always a treat. Travel funding has been restored so I am going to try to go to the CEA conference if they accept my paper proposal which I haven’t written yet. I am recording the Lindsey Stirling essay on Friday at 10 up at WVTF in Roanoke. After this semester I will have to teach 5 more before I can retire at 65 and ½. Some days I wish I could retire tomorrow; others I am not so desperate.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gloria's Visit

It is Sunday, September 28 and all is going well. My visit with Gloria went well enough and she got to sleep a good bit (the darkness and the quiet) and go to the Christiansburg Aquatic Center (which she loved) and we took walks and ate out quite a bit (including Chateau Morrisette and Alexanders). The pain in her hands was much reduced so that was another place. I enjoyed seeing her but I think two weeks was too long. I am such a private person that having company for two weeks threw me off. I am going to see Claire on Tuesday and I am looking forward to that. My classes are going well but I still have one student in my 203 who seems to be having trouble with the class. I may make an appointment with him to chat. I am sending Emily $200 for her ru tuition even though I don’t really feel like it after the nonsense she said about me. I purchased a pump action shotgun and I feel safer with that in the house. Gloria and I had dinner with Gyorgyi twice and that was fun. I already have the house fixed up after Gloria’s visit. I planted more lettuce after one tray of peas all died and only a few of the spinach plants came up. I should know on Monday what I have left to pay on the dental work. It shouldn’t be more than $2500.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

second week of the semester done

The weekend has gone well. I have all my grading done and most of the reading. I had a nice dinner with Claire on Thursday catching up on her and Luke and I have decided that things with Cecelia will continue only as friends. I played golf a couple of times and did a lot of work around my house this morning and early afternoon in order to start getting ready for Gloria. I have also been hiking almost every morning down to the orchard. I rode my bike yesterday for the first time since I hurt my knees and it went very well. My knees are improving. I had the dental surgery on Friday and it didn’t hurt much. I still owe somewhere between 3 and 4 K even after paying 2K already. Maddie is still doing well and I will try to see her this week and take her out one evening. I have been walking over at Tech at night and that is still a lot of fun for me.

Friday, August 29, 2014

An interesting week

An interesting few days. On Tuesday Kate asked me if I wanted to go kayaking with her on Wednesday and of course I said yes. We met at the riverview park in Radford, loaded my kayak and gear and then headed upriver to the put in just above the highway. It was very slow water but we chatted a lot and I think Kate had fun. We decided to go on Saturday during the Riverfest and that should have a few more rapids. Kate was a very decent paddler. My dinner with Cecelia went very well. We ate at Sal’s in Radford and had a nice time talking. We are planning to get together next week for dinner and perhaps a bike ride. Rob and I walked the last two nights and chatted about the drama the Fay has brought back into his life. Fortunately, there is really nothing she can do to him except write him sick and evil text messages. My first week of classes went very well and I have only about 30 students so that is going to be very good. Gloria is still in a lot of pain and I hope that it calms down before she comes to visit. I talked to Gabe and things are going okay after their problem. He is thinking about coming down in October with Julian.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

One more day before classes start

Another good day so far, with the rain preventing a walk this morning but I did ride the stationary bike for 25 minutes, and I did weights and yoga. I cleaned up around the house so as to be ready for the start of classes tomorrow and I charged the batteries up to 79% and with the sun coming for the next three days I should be fine. I did play golf yesterday after a fine walk with Rob and played well (47) even with an incredible 6 the par 3 16th (4 putts from about 20 feet) and a 9 on the 6th hole (lots of stupid decisions). My walk with Rob was a lot of fun and he seems to be doing quite well. Cecelia called me and we are planning to get together on Thursday for dinner. Haven’t heard from Claire but I assume she is doing well. Worked a little on the Lindsey Stirling piece and it is almost ready to send out.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday before the start of classes

I had a very good Saturday morning, cleaning up the house a little, walking all the way down to the gate with my knee not hurting much, doing weights and yoga for the first time since my injury, more cleaning up and then cutting my hair. My lettuce plants are doing well and I had a breakfast of Rob’s fine tomatoes. I got a nice e-mail back from Claire and I should see her later in the week. Cecelia also called and we are planning to have dinner on Thursday. I am hoping to take a walk with Rob later and to play golf after the walk but the weather will determine things. I did some more work on the Lindsey Stirling essay and it is getting there very slowly.

Friday, August 22, 2014

classes almost starting

I am in Barnes and Noble, sipping coffee after finishing a chocolate cupcake. I has been a decent day, starting with a walk almost down to the gate before my knee hurt too much. My road got clobbered by the rain yesterday and it filled the next culvert. I did some leg raises and watered my greenhouse and saw that the first lettuce plants have come up (good news). I also charged the batteries to 87 percent since it was going to be a rainy day. At 11 David King came and checked out the septic (cleaning all the filters and racking the peat moss). He thought everything looked fine and I should be good for another year. Then it was time to head to RU for my volunteer work manning a table for the Move In. It was easy and Robert was very pleasant to work with. After that I napped and headed for dinner at Amelia’s and that was fine. I stopped at Walmart to get the shoe goo to fix my sneakers and then over to Barnes and Noble where I did a little work on my Lindsey Stirling essay (it was very hard to get going). I am not looking forward to starting teaching but I have no choice. I have 6 more semesters before I can quit so I had better make the best of it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ready to start the semester

It is Wednesday early afternoon and I am at the Starbucks in Salem, having contacted Claire and Susan about helping out on Move-In Day on Friday. I have everything set up except my RU e-mail on my phone and I should get that fixed within the next few days. My date with Cecelia went very well and we had a good dinner at the River Company and talked for two hours. She is smart and attractive and has quite a past but not one that I think would hurt any relationship between us. I will be going to Gyorgyi’s and meeting with Andrew and Sylvia and Laura at 3. I should be a fun afternoon and evening. Tomorrow are all the meetings and I will get through them even though I am not looking forward to them. My knee is better and I am scheduled for a cortisone shot on Tuesday morning but perhaps if my knee gets much better I can avoid the shot. I have done the exercises for two days and I played golf yesterday and took a short walk around the Tech campus last night.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

back from the west, with plenty of problems

I am back from my trip having returned today in the late morning. Sam met me at the gate and treated the house and the big yellowjacket nest. I unloaded some of the truck, did a laundry, put some stuff away and took a nap. I drove in to see Rob and he thinks my knee is really damaged but he thought the ear looked okay though he said I should continue to take the antibiotics. I called Dr. Buyer and he hasn’t returned my call yet but I will probably have to have a bridge put in and that should be pretty expensive. I drove in to show the Tech people my computer and they thought they could retrieve my files but they weren’t sure. That would be a mess if they can’t I did talk to Cecelia at Barnes and Noble and she was quite pleasant and I will call her to set up a dinner date. My trip overall was a good one, but hurting my knee in the Big Horns put a damper on the rest of the trip. I did have a good time with Gloria—and she will be here for two weeks in September—and seeing Dave and meeting his girlfriend were nice. I played some golf with my bad leg and played pretty well but I am overweight and I really need to do more exercise. I took a short and very slow walk on the Huckleberry trail and my knee didn’t hurt too much when I was finished.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Black Hills

It is Thursday morning and I am in a Best Western in Sundance. I took a room for the first time on the trip and though I didn’t watch all of Tiger’s round (at four AM I ran out of gas), I awoke to see that he had posted a 69, three under so that means I will try to watch tomorrow. He starts at 2 EST so that is noon my way. Yesterday was okay, with a decent round of golf in the Black Hills, fishing in Box Elder Creek (an absolutely lovely stretch but not a hit), riding my bike for an hour along the Michelson Rails to Trails route for an hour near Hill City and then riding for another half hour in Sundance. Today I should hit the Big Horns so that should be fun and I will probably camp near Sheridan to go to a movie. I have done very little writing so far on this trip and I haven’t touched the saxophone once but I will try to play some today and after this blog I hope to write a little.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

first two days of the western trip

The first day of my trip went very well. I couldn’t leave until 9 because I needed to get the bike worked on, so I was able to practice some, do weights and yoga, and catch a short nap. East Coasters replaced the canister quickly and by 10:15 I was on the way. I stopped first at Paint Creek to ride my bike for 40 minutes then drove past Morehead to play golf. Following that I ended up at a KOA just across the river from Louisville. I rode my bike along the river and through the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Interesting but not overly impressive. Dinner was at the Buckhead grill where I had veggie frajitas. I had a horrible night sleeping because it was too hot so I ended up heading out around 6. I stopped to have a small breakfast and write some and I made some progress on my short story but I’m not sure what to do with the essay. I drove a few miles and then took a long nap and then felt much better. I stopped to ride my bike out in corn and soybean country and that was fun. I got back driving and ended up in Bloomington to watch the World Cup Final.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

one week before my western trip

I am a week away from leaving on my trip and everything is in good shape. I fixed the road today dropping three loads of dirt over the patch I made out of 2 2x8. It worked perfectly. I also scraped the road but it was so dry and hard that the scraping didn’t do much. I have my outlines basically done and I have a good list of things I need to get done but that won’t happen until later in the week. My easement money should finally be available on the 10th and then I should be able to pay down the equity line to around 151K, a nice improvement that should last until Kelly buys her house. I had a nice time with Claire last night, meeting her for a walk along the Huckleberry Trail and then coffee and dessert at Starbucks. My golf game is going very well and I am playing every other day. I have been walking most mornings and the plants are enchanter’s nightshade, heal all, oxeye daisy, white avens. I have been eating blackberries and the wineberries are coming in and I should have a bunch for Kate. I am seeing Rhonda on Tuesday for dinner and then I will see Claire Gallo to celebrate her birthday on Wednesday and then dinner on Friday with Cathy. I worked on my short story about the Erie Barge Canal and I think it is getting a little better. I haven’t been doing too much writing lately but I should get back into it this week, and certainly after I head out on my trip. Gloria is going to be coming out for two weeks in September so that should be fun.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

back in virginia

The visit to Kelly on Saturday went well. I was able to get a lot of big stuff to the dump in three loads and I trimmed some trees also. I had fun with Lucia though she sometimes wanted to be left alone. They took me to dinner and then I went to bed around ten in my truck really tired. I got up around 6 and drove to the Potomac, where I got a good bike ride in while it was still pretty cool. I drove more, napped, and then played golf at Ingleside. I ended up watching the soccer match at 6 and then I rode my bike some more on the Roanoke College Campus. I stopped at Walmart for supplies and then headed home where the road was fine with no trees down. On Monday morning I cut the grass and trimmed around the house, went into town for a walk with Rob and then wrote some before heading back to the house to practice and get ready for dinner. On Tuesday morning, I took a long walk, pruning as I went and then I went in for a walk with Rob. I did some writing (my FAR is almost finished and I started a new poem) then took a nap, then played golf and rode my bike along the New River. Then back to my office for a little more work and my lumosity training which I have gotten back into.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Morning, Tomorrow Kelly

I am now in southern Connecticut at a Quality Inn and my camping plans fell apart. I had a nice dinner at the Italian restaurant last night and then walked some before heading into the room. I slept well and when I got up I worked on my novel and have over 2700 words. Yesterday was a decent day but I must say I would be glad to get home. This morning, however, I know I will be back Sunday. I did play golf and ride my bike yesterday and did keep up my novel writing although it was a bit of a struggle. I will have a pretty easy day of driving (4 hours or so) and that should put me about an hour from Kelly. I think I can be a real help to her and Alfredo and it should be fun to see Lucia.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

visiting Merrill and Acadia

Next morning, I got up early and showered, did my wash, practiced my sax and then met Merrill at 12:15 at the Maine Grind for lunch. I have known Merrill for many years and she always strikes me as deeply good, deeply concerned, deeply loving (especially with her husband and son Merrin). I admire her. She doesn’t have the histrionics I often end up in. After lunch, we went for a two mile hike at an historic house nearby. We chatted about her family and her nursing aspirations. After leaving Merrill I left for Acadia and went for a long bike ride around Eagle Lake. It was then nap time and after a brief nap I was ready to have dinner, this time treating myself to lobster at the Bar Harbor Lobster Pound. After that I walked around a lot, ending up at a tavern that had internet and writing on my novel. I got back to the campground around 11 and went right to bed since I was very tired. I slept very well and got up around 7, showered, and then drove into Bar Harbor for breakfast at The Two Cats (very good especially the spicy potatoes) and then worked on my story, which is moving along (1500 words). Then it was time for my bike ride (to Witch’s Hole) and then nap time. After that I headed to Two Cats again for a very desired cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin. I worked on a couple of poems (the Vermont poem needs work on the ending) and then it was blog time.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Vermont to Maine

This is going to be a catchup entry since a lot has happened since I left New York. On Friday morning I drove up to Bennington, battling the rain for most of the drive. As I got east of Troy the weather cleared a bit and I was able to play nine holes at a long par 3 course and I shot very well. After that I drove to Bennington and got my fishing license, then headed up to the campground on 9 up by the ski area. I stopped to fish the Walloomsac and it was lovely water and I caught 3 browns. After checking in, I drove back to town for pizza and a walk with my earbuds. The next day was still a bit threatening weather wise, but I did go fishing again in one of the tributaries of the Walloomsac and caught 3 small brook trout. I then drove to Camping on the Battenkill and took a nap, then rode my bike for an hour, then did yoga and practiced my sax. I had dinner at Mulligan’s and then went to the Fault in our Stars, which had me in tears throughout. I walked around Manchester a little and went back to the campground. In the morning I decided to head for Bar Harbor and after checking my GPS I realized that I had underestimated the drive by 3 hours, 7 hours instead of 4. That meant a long day in the truck if I wanted to get to the coast and that was my intention for the first 3 hours. But then after a nap, I decided to not worry about getting there and stopped at Pawtuckaway State Park for a long bike ride through the hilly and forested park roads. After that I drove on, expecting Claire’s e-mailed letter at any point, but luckily not finding it. I stopped to play golf at a first rate links course (where I shot a 45) and then drove on to Ellsworth after talking to Merrill about having lunch and a walk tomorrow. I couldn’t find a place to watch the game (Sunday in Ellsworth is dead) and finally ended up in a Mexican restaurant where the woman kindly fixed me some food and let me watch the first half. The game was out of hand so the second half wasn’t important. What a boring series. After checking in at my campground, I drove back to Denny’s and worked on my novel.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Visit to Gabes and Julian

I had a lovely visit to Gabes on Monday (the big news being that Francesca is pregnant) and my babysitting duties (for 5 hours) went very well. I woke Julian at 5, and cuddled with him while he woke up, then we headed to the park where he rode his wheeled toy and then climbed all over the playground structures, then went swinging for a while. After that we went for pizza at the pizzeria on Colonial, and then a wonderful thing happened. Julian is a little obsessed with the B-9 bus and I asked him if he would like to take a ride on it. (He said he had never been on it, but Gabes said that he had). Anyway, he really liked the idea but when we stood at the bus stop, he wavered a little, said he had changed his mind, but then decided to get on when a B-9 came. The driver was an absolute doll, allowing us to ride for free, giving Julian some peanut butter crackers, allowing him to make the final stop announcement, and letting him play around the bus while she took her ten minute break. When we got back to our stop, Julian thanked her and told her he hoped she had a nice day, so very sweet. Later, as we discussed our adventure, he said that though we didn’t know where we were going the driver did. Very smart. I took him home and cooked him some elbow macaroni and then after reading him a story, it was time for bed, around 8:15. The next day I played with him in the morning, and then I went into town to have lunch with Gabes after a walk through Chinatown and a stroll downtown to 30 Broad Street. It was a lot of fun and Gabe treated. After that I walked over to the memorial and headed back around 4. Julian was funny at dinner noticing each time one of us said shit, and I called him Little Big Brother.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

maymester is over

I am finished for the summer and it feels pretty good. I am at Cigars International cigar store and bar near the cabelas at Hamburg and I am smoking a cigar for the first time in 6 years (I assume one won’t hurt me), drinking coffee and listening to my songs with my earbuds. This place has music and internet and I am sitting outside having put in my grades and I am hoping to get to writing in a few minutes. I got off at around 11 after visiting with the campers. I stopped to ride my bike for an hour at JMU and rode to the other side of the campus, which is pretty big. It is amazing how I am breaking so many patterns these days. I played golf with David yesterday and we had a lot of fun and then we met Suzy and Emily at the DQ and had some food and ice cream. Emily was so much fun. It was also great to talk to Suzy again, and she asked if I would send her a couple of my essays.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

a quick visit to Charlotte to escape the cold

I decided to head down to Charlotte on Thursday morning (because of the cold) and that turned out to be a good decision. Charlotte was much warmer (about 50) and I played golf at Regent Park and rode my bike there also. I graded some at the pizzeria, and then went to the wingate to do some work and then head to P.F. Chang’s for dinner. It was my usual steamed shrimp dumpling, hot and sour soup, and a mix of eggplant and broccoli. It was excellent. I walked around a little and then pretty beat went back to my room. In the morning I worked a little, then went for an hour walk around the 4th ward and downtown Charlotte. I drove to the New River Trail but the trail had just gotten new gravel and my bike tires sunk too much. I drove on the roads for a half hour and then finished my ride along the river trail in Radford. I watched some TV and then headed home to see the job that Mike had done. He started a bit too high but it looked pretty good and he is going to put half a load further down and put the rest of the 57 in a pile by the pond. He will also be bringing me a load of crusher run and a load of 357. In the morning, I got up and went for a nice hike after working on my paper a little (it is pretty bad but almost done). I finished clearing the asparagus patch and then went back with the compost and fertilized the fruit trees and the asparagus. I emptied the lawn tractor gas and filled that this evening along with another container for the generator. I let the sun charge the batteries up pretty good and then I used the generator to keep charging them. I started at about 1200 in 1 and I got the charging rate down to 7.8-11 so I hope to finish tomorrow. I watched the Virginia game and then the Duke game (they will meet tomorrow at 1) and then took another walk to my gate. I vacuumed the truck of all the trail mix I spilled, washed the plastic in the front and cleaned the front seat. I also brought in the two containers outside the greenhouse and planted my second 8 broccoli plants. We will see how I do. Now I have three trays of lettuce, two of peas and four of broccoli. I spoke with Gloria today and things are a little better but I hope she can quit soon or I am worried she will get sick.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

middle of the break

It is Wednesday, March 12th and my break is about half over. I have gotten a good bit of grading done but I still have enough to keep me busy. I will be heading to Charlotte tomorrow for an overnighter and I will have to do some grading down there and start reading for next week also. I have basically finished my road and it is in the best shape it has been in for years. I must have spent ten hours on the tractor and my knee feels it. Coltsfoot came out on the 10th so that is a nice treat, certainly foreshadowing the advent of spring. I used my new Stihl battery chainsaw and it worked very well. I cut up the fallen tree in the pasture and did some clearing along the road and up by the house. It is a little slow but it cut a six inch piece of wood with no real trouble. I planted more in my garden, including 8 broccoli plants and some lettuce mix Rob gave me. The early lettuce and peas are up and I should have some to eat in a few weeks. I have ordered some crusher run and 357 and Mike is coming up tomorrow morning to see where I want it. Yesterday I went up to Barbours creek (which was just stocked) and I fished a very pretty stretch of rocky water but didn’t get a hit on dries or nymphs. I then fished a little of the South Prong and it was lovely water and not completely impossible to fish. There were a few decent pools in the rhododendron and I did bring up a small trout. I went for a walk with Rob in the evening after riding my bike at the Tech campus. Earlier in the break I fished Wolf creek and caught two nice trout (over twelve inches). I have played golf a couple of times at Auburn and after starting well on my second visit, I shot a 9 on the tight, short 5th, making a number of mistakes in judgment. I was playing from the golds but I switched to the reds to see if I could still break 50 and I shot a 6 on the difficult par 5, 4 on the par 3, 5 on the easy par 4 and then a 4 on the final hole, ending up with a 48.

Friday, March 7, 2014

First Day of Spring Break

It is Friday, March 7th, and I am enjoying my first day of my spring break. I finished reading Julianna’s thesis and found it quite good. I wrote my recommendation letter for Maddie, and sent my 310-02 class the new schedule. I did grade a couple of 321 tests and a couple of poems. I did the compost and started to clear the asparagus patch (that is work I certainly don’t like) after I did my morning hike. I washed the sheets so the bed is clean again. I had to give up on changing the washers on the kitchen faucet (it is now a cartridge and you need a special tool) and I bought a new faucet and a basin wrench and I hope to install it tomorrow. I aired my down comforter also. I did my yoga and weights and rode the stationary bike for 30 minutes then rode on the river trail for 40 minutes. I also worked on my CEA paper some and I shouldn’t have too much work left on it. The new beanies I purchased from Marmot are fine, nice and tight and they cover my ears. I finished sorting the maps during the week and tomorrow I may wander some tomorrow since it is supposed to be nice. I hope to fish, hike, play golf and perhaps watch a movie, although I will have to go up to the Grandin to watch the new Miyazaki film since it isn’t playing nearby. Overall, a very good beginning to my break. My finances are in good shape and I should be able to do a longer trip in June, hopefully up to Acadia and a visit to Merrill. A couple more weeks and I will see Gabes and Kelly and New York. I am looking forward to that. Gyorgyi seems to be doing fine with her wrist healing pretty well. I probably won’t see her until she returns from New Jersey. I saw Danielle and Claire at Nagoya and treated them to dinner.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

snow is again on the way

My lunch with Claire was fun and we had a good chat. I doubt anything I said will help her but I was as honest as I could be. My weekend went well, purchasing the new Stihl battery chainsaw, which works well if just a tad underpowered. The whole setup cost me 550 but I should get back around 150 for my old gas-powered chainsaw. I cut a bunch of things along the road and up in the orchard and it is lighter and I think less dangerous to use. I am sure it can handle 5 inch pieces but I am not sure about anything bigger. It is so much easier on my hands than the sawzall. Today I built the box for the new saw (made mainly out of scraps) but I will have to purchase a ¼ inch piece for the top since the clearances are so tight. I found out that Mark sold the lawnmower and used the money for himself and that really pissed me off. He should have asked permission and I e-mailed him that I want him to work off the interest that I have been paying. I have probably spent over 500 on interest alone. I have most of my grading done and my midterm ready for 321. The big news is more snow is predicted (now down to 1-3 inches) but I can’t stand anymore. This has been a terrible winter and I hope spring gets here pronto.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Week 6

It is Thursday, February 27 and the sixth week of classes is over. I had a decent week and a good conference with my problem student. Boy, the real world is going to wake her up some day and she is going to be shocked. I decided to quit the graduate faculty because it is really an unfair program and what they are doing right now seems a waste of time. There are really no benefits to my being in the program and I will avoid the tension of debating something that I have no chance of changing. I helped Claire Hall out with a loan for her trip to Ireland. I will have lunch with her tomorrow and catch up on how life is treating her. I went for a hike this morning even though it was only 24 degrees. I increasingly hate the cold and I will be glad for spring to really come and for me to be somewhere else in January and February after I retire.

Friday, February 21, 2014

week five is finished

The last three days have been rough days indeed. My tractor got a flat tire (fortunately in the front), then after I got the tires off, my truck tire was getting a flat and I just got to the Nissan dealer before it gave up (I pumped it up twice on the way in). Fortunately Mike Fox fixed it quickly and I was on my way to Farmland to see about the tractor tires. I didn’t need to replace them so that saved my 300 or so dollars and fixing the flat was 10 dollars. I decided to go back and put the tires back on but that was a disaster mainly because I didn’t have enough long, wide wood to put under the bucket so the tractor could be raised. I got really upset as the bucket kept tipping off the wood piles I created and I finally gave up and had a nice walk up to the house (from the gate where the tractor is) and then I got some clothes and walked back to the truck and tractor. I went to Lowe’s and bought 4 2x10x8s and had them cut up so tomorrow I should have plenty of wood to lift the tractor so I can put the tires back on. My road is utterly a mess but after I get the tractor going tomorrow, I should be able to put it back in shape pretty quickly. My classes went pretty well and my conference with the problem student went very well and I think she got a good bit out of it. Five weeks done.

Friday, February 14, 2014

the great snowstorm

The big news is the huge snowstorm, with over twenty inches of snow. On Wednesday, when the snow started, I wisely got a room at the Hampton Inn (much nicer than the Microtel) and settled in for an amazing storm that didn’t stop until Thursday late afternoon. On Wednesday, I took several walks along the plowed roads and there were almost no vehicles out except the plows. I had done my weights and yoga and stationary bike at home so the walks were a perfect choice. Fortunately, O’ Charley’s was open for dinner though not very crowded. Thursday was worse. With all the heavy snow still coming down, there were very few vehicles and almost everything was closed. I did walk over to Lowe’s at about 4:30 but the store was closing at 5 so I was only able to walk inside for a few minutes. I did the stationary bike for 45 minutes and took another walk but the plowed roads were very icy and I walked extremely slow. I did a lot of work, grading papers, reading Gatsby, writing a blog, catching up on a lot of little things I needed to do. I had dinner in my room, consisting of microwaved wild and brown rice, pepper jack cheese, salad and a can of beans. It was fine with me. After that I did 40 minutes of the treadmill and watched the Olympics. I found out that Radford was going to be closed on Friday so that meant I was going to get a 5 day reprieve from teaching. I called Mike this morning and he didn’t think I had a chance of getting in today so I will stay in the Hampton at least till tomorrow. With the winds last night I don’t doubt that a tree or two has come down. I have to be patient because things are going to warm up a lot by Monday (45) with Tuesday on being in the high 50s and 60s.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

fourth week of classes done and summer plans moving forward

My semester progresses well although I do have one problem student that I hope has now withdrawn from the class (which overall is not going that well). She is the one who had personal problems early on and then wanted to take the course online and had been very aggressive in class. The rest of the students are fine and I should have that class going in the right direction soon. My house is in good shape and I have made a lot of progress with the cabin. I got rid of the old survey maps, donating them to the geology department. I threw out another big bag of garbage, finished sorting the letters and cards, gave a couple of golf clubs to the thrift shop, and cleaned all my diaries and brought them and the letters down to the guest room. I have also brought down two drums and sorted out the rest of the fishing gear up there and brought that down. I have been hiking in the morning when it is warm enough and doing my stationary bike and my weights and yoga. I have done a few walks with Rob and some walks on campus and at Tech. I have finished four weeks of class and I think all is well with my preps and grading. I have signed up for a half day of fishing on the Gallatin, three days in Yellowstone, and I am planning on a half day of fishing around Buffalo with a guide. I also hope to hike in on the Tongue and to fish Rock Creek and the Ten Sleep. My financial situation is fine, and I think I will only be taxed on less than half of my social security benefits. That should get my overall taxes to around 6K, more than the 4K I originally planned on but a lot less than the 8.5K I figured on last week before I did the ss worksheet. After this semester I should have to work 4 or 5 semesters more, not the 6 I thought last week. I did a little work on my Horizons paper and did another Lumosity Training session (I am now at the 56th overall percentile). I had a nice time with Gyorgyi on Sunday, going to dinner at Local Roots and to the Grandin to watch August: Osage County (a well acted but very grim movie).

Sunday, February 2, 2014

second week done

It is Super Bowl Sunday and the Denver Broncos are getting killed 29-0. Big surprise and it probably means that I will leave early. I have finished my second week of classes and things are going very well. Not too much prep and I have done pretty well with the first poems. The weather finally warmed up and I got to play golf on Saturday and I rode my bike yesterday and today. I went for walks in the morning the last three days. I was able to do some more cleaning up in the cabin and I got rid of a big garbage bag of junk. I am also 80% through the letters and cards. I will be giving my paper on Thursday morning at 8AM so that means I won’t be able to teach my Wednesday class. Mark B may cover for me but he has not totally committed. I will get up to New York to see Gabe and I will see Kelly on Sunday. I made my reservations in Yellowstone and got the last cabin for the three days in July (20-22). I am hoping to get a guide before and after so we’ll see.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

the end of the Big Bend trip and the first week of classes

In the morning I got up early and packed and went for breakfast. I was restless, first to get gas, and then to get a move on, but at the gas station, the ranger told me that I should do either the Grapevine Hills or the Lost Mine trails so I calmed myself and headed back up to Lost Mine and had a wonderful hike of about an hour. Then it was time to drive and I headed for Marathon (which was much dingier and smaller than I remembered) and then on to Uvalde, where I walked around the downtown area and then went into the courthouse, a fairly unassuming place. I drove on and got to the Holiday Inn Express around two and by two thirty I had returned the equinox and then I sat down to send my outlines and rules out. I still hadn’t heard from CEA so I cancelled the Thursday classes on the 27th of March. I hope I don’t have to cancel the Wednesday class because they are already one class short because of the MLK holiday. I returned to the room for a nap and then went for a long walk on a section of the riverwalk headed toward the museums. It was very pleasant. Back in the room, I called Gyorgyi and found out she had broken her wrist on the icy stairs at her mother’s. Sean has been helping her a lot (he quit his job at the food co-op) and I’m glad of that. Gloria said that wrists can be real tricky to heal and G’s doctor already mentioned that. I know I have to be real careful living in the hollow. If I were to fall that would be a major problem. For dinner I went to Mi Tierra in the Marketplace near my hotel (and the dinner was very good) and then I went back to riverwalk for another long walk and a tiny scoop of strawberry ice cream. I also put all my outlines and rules on D2L without my page of guidelines so I was impressed with that. In the morning I struggled up at 5:30 and was ready for the cab at 6:15 and at the station by 6:30. Fortunately the train left just about on time and I was able to take a mile walk in Fort Worth and a shorter one in Dallas. I have been doing my lumosity training for almost a month (about 15 training sessions) and my scores have gone up. I started at a dismal 13th percentile and I am up to 43rd percentile, with memory my strongest feature. Speed is my worst, and the pinball prediction game is very tough for me. I wonder if it all a bit of a scam but I hope it does help. I do enjoy most of it. Now that my break is almost over, I am glad that I wrote six poems, especially the one for Kate, which I think is one of my best. Today, Saturday the 25th of January, I have fled from Radford till tomorrow and though it is not a great day down here in Charlotte, I was able to comfortably ride my bike and play 12 holes of golf. I shot very well even though I played with my heavy jacket on with the hood up. My first week of classes is over and I think it is going to be a good semester. My 203 class has only about 10 so there shouldn’t be any disruptive students sitting in the back. Both 310s are pretty full as is the 321, but I should have fewer than 70 students, which will be a real break. Gyorgyi is recovering slowly from her broken wrist and when I spoke to her on Friday to invite her to come down with me to Charlotte, she was miserable and I felt bad for her. I should see her next weekend. My printer is still not fixed but I was able to get everything I need printed at the computer center. I finally spoke to Cathy Gallo and she is doing okay but things are not the best with her health. I hope to have dinner with her soon. I haven’t heard from Amtrak but I hope they will refund most of my ticket price, at least one thousand. I have a head cold but I am getting around and I hope to go out to dinner in downtown Charlotte a little later.

Monday, January 13, 2014

the trip to big bend and 52 hours late on the train

It is Tuesday, the 7th of January and I am in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in overcast Indianapolis, which the temperature is minus 13. I am here after being stuck on the Cardinal, Amtrak’s Train 51 since Monday morning at around 5. I should be three hours toward San Antonio on the 21 but I will be spending the night here and then heading to Chicago on the 51 tomorrow at 6AM. The snow and intense cold stopped us on Monday morning and I’m not sure what will happen tomorrow or if Thursday’s 21(which I am now scheduled on) will actually run. If it doesn’t I will head back to Clifton Forge on Thursday evening and give up. I can still spend three days in Big Bend and perhaps go to Carlsbad Caverns, but one more problem and the trip won’t work. If I go back I may try to head down to Wild Dunes again for a few days since they have a sale on. I walked around Indy with my hood on and my scarf covering my face and it wasn’t too bad. I passed the War Memorial and stopped to walk through the mall nearby. The 30 hours on the train really sucked although my fellow travelers were very nice and the Amtrak staffers were very good also. I walked through the train about 50 times and walked outside about 4 miles at various points. We shall see. It is the 9th of January and I am finally on Amtrak’s 21 train on my way to San Antonio. I almost gave up and had a reservation to head back to Clifton Forge tonight in case the 21 didn’t run (as it turns out the 50 to Clifton Forge was delayed). We are about 40 minutes behind schedule which in on time for Amtrak. After the night at the Crowne Plaza in Indy, we finally made Chicago around 11 AM on Wednesday. I was first to the Passenger Services and they promised me a room (it was very fancy at the Swissotel) and some money for cabs and food but when I found out the extra money would have been 30 dollars and I would have had to wait in line for an hour and a half, I told them to forget it. I stayed around carrying the little girl I met on the train and then bought sandwiches for her parents and the young man from Canada who was really stuck. Then it was off to the Swissotel and a nap, a long bike ride, then a walk up to Michigan Avenue and the surrounding area, with lots of restaurants. I ate lunch at a Japanese Barbeque that was quite good and then headed back to the hotel. I rested my knee and then headed off for Navy Pier and got there just as the Winter Wonderland was closing up. I walked outside along the pier and it was pretty bitter with lots of ice on the water and some snow on the ground. After that I walked back to the hotel and my knee was done. I went to the Palms for a light dinner and the broccoli cheese soup was very good but the shrimp salad wasn’t much, pretty healthy though. I was really tired and I ended up falling asleep at 11 and sleeping until 6:30. I got up slowly and brought my coffee up to the fitness room where I rode the bike for 10 miles and went back to the room, did my yoga, showered, packed up, and took a cab back to Union Station, where I checked my bags and found that the train was due to leave on time. I had plenty of time so I walked away from the lake and all the way up Jefferson to Aberdeen and then back until I found a pizza place and had a fine lunch of pizza and salad. By the time I got back to Union Station, the train was already boarding (this was utterly amazing) and one of the staff led me to the train. I was exhausted from all my walking so I took a long nap and then got up to do some financial stuff, some video golf, some work on my two new poems and trying to see if I really had time to see Carlsbad Cavern (it doesn’t look too good unless I leave Big Bend real early, drive 220 miles, go on a guided tour at 1:00 and then drive a couple of hours toward San Antonio. Good to be moving. I have just finished dinner at the Chisos Lodge Restaurant and sent my poem to Kate. I think it is a good one and I hope she likes it. I did two nice hikes today, one early up the pinnacles trail toward Emory Peak. I probably did about three miles total and it was pretty steep at points. Later after lunch I drove to Rio Grande Village and washed my clothes, rode the rented bike for about an hour and then took another mile and a half hike in the Boquillas Canyon. I was pretty tired during that hike and it had a few steeper sections also. Following the drive back I collapsed in the bed and then worked on my poem for Kate. Yesterday, my first day here worked out well as I took a walk in Alpine, went for a three mile hike up Ward Spring trail in the park, drove back to Terlingua to watch the Broncos game (which they ended up making too close), rented a bike from Desert Sports and took a 40 minute ride then drove to the Chisos Lodge. I didn’t sleep very well but I worked on a poem for Kate and watched the first part of Downton Abbey, which was quite good, and read some more of the rainbow, which is pretty good.