Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bernie Madoff - Major Swindler

Yesterday "Bernard Madoff, the self-confessed author of the biggest financial swindle in history, was sentenced to the maximum 150 years behind bars for what his judge called an "extraordinarily evil" fraud that shook the nation's faith in its financial and legal systems and took "a staggering toll" on rich and poor alike...... The penalty sparked a burst of applause in a courtroom packed with victims of the fraud."

I'm relieved that Bernie Madoff didn't get off with a slap on the wrist. I've followed this story with great interest because I, too, could have been a victim. I invested some money with him on the advice of a friend from my church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. (I hear some other members of my church also invested with him.) In a good year, I made 18% interest and even in a bad year, I was getting 12%. Lucky for me, I needed that money to build our house here in Virginia so I cashed out in 2002.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tête-à-tête in Costco

Life is made interesting by people we meet. Today in Costco, Ed and I were looking at laptop computers. A man standing nearby started asking us some questions about the best buy.

He introduced himself as Johnny Dorsey, a teacher from Franklin, West Virginia (about 50 miles away). He was so friendly and interesting.....it's incredible how much you can share in just an off-chance meeting.

Johnny will be entering his 40th year of teaching in Franklin. He's taught 5th grade in the very same classroom for all those years!!

He stayed at home and cared for his parents, who both died from cancer. Then he took care of his aunt, who also passed away. He never married and the thought of retirement is rather intimidating - what will he do? He's dedicated his life to teaching and being a caregiver so he hasn't developed many hobbies. He has done a bit of traveling (which I think is more fun if shared with someone) and does enjoy some church work.

He's only used the computer at school so wants to get his home computer set up, ready to surf the net after he retires. Johnny was so personable - my first impression made me start thinking of my many single girlfriends and which might click with him.....sorry, can't help it - I was single for many years and always appreciated friends fixing me up with someone.

I told him that I started teaching fifth grade and had thought that I, too, would teach fifth grade in a local school for many years. Instead I waltzed off to teach for 2 years near Charlottesville, VA, 7 years in Puerto Rico, and 23 years in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We never know what life holds in store for us.

Ed talked to a clerk, asked lots of questions and pointed out several computers that would work for him. Anyway, it was a pleasant tête-à-tête with an intriguing guy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shortened Version

Oh, I know I'm just toooo wordy!! So, here's a summary of the "From Rally to Reality" entry that I posted early today:

The roads around Richmond are terrible. We had RV trouble on the way home from the rally, so the RV's in the shop. Now we've gotta get busy on our mail, etc. Maggie is a great housesitter.

From Rally to Reality

Last Monday, we left the repair place near Richmond and proceeded to Urbana. About 15 miles down the road, Ed's speedometer, tachometer, and other gauges stopped working. Luckily, we soon found a rest stop. He called the mechanic who said it probably wasn't dangerous and was likely a cable that had shaken loose. Ed spent lots of time finding the wiring diagram and had several people at the rally take a look but they couldn't find the place where the wiring was. Aren't owners' manuals helpful?

The 295 beltway around Richmond was one of the WORST roads we've ever been on so when we left Urbana on Sunday morning, we were careful to get on Rt. 33 and go straight onto I64. Harumph! That also had absolutely deplorable sections! Richmond and the surrounding area have moved to the bottom of our list of "Places to See"! Sounds like the roads in Alaska are better than in Richmond.

We got to Harrisonburg and as we took the last exit just north of the "burg", the shifting started acting strange. We had decided to backtrack a bit and go home by Rt. 42 rather than take the country roads. Less than a half mile after we passed Highway Motors (where we've had work done several times), the coach just quit responding. Ed couldn't get it out of neutral and when he pressed the gas, nothing happened except a roaring of the engine.

He did manage to pull off the road - barely - and called our Roadside Assistance number. He decided it wasn't an emergency so they planned to tow us Monday morning. Meanwhile, we unhooked the Ford Explorer and I quickly emptied the fridge and freezer. We came on home.

Ed went back over twice to see if the batteries had recharged at all. On the second trip, our friend, Robert Foerster, went with him.
The batteries had recharged just enough that Ed was able to get it started and go back to Highway Motors. He planned to park it a certain place in back but it gave out. He was able to roll it back to a satisfactory spot. Ed's already talked to them this morning and hopefully, they'll be able to get to work on it soon. Let's hope it's "nothing major"....meaning "nothing super expensive". He and Robert both think it might be the alternator.

Now, it's time to return to the world of reality. We'll be busy preparing for our trip out West - trying to anticipate all the things we'll need, catching up on business affairs that have shown up in the mail, and getting Ed's CAT scan done. I am happy to report that he is feeling OK.

Our friend, Maggie Gridley, house-sat for us, took care of Pepper, and watered my plants. We returned to a house that is absolutely sparkling clean. Ed says we'll have to have Maggie come stay every now and then! It's nice to have a friend who is so dependable and leaves the place better than when she came. It also gave her a mini-vacation. Thank you, Maggie!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Luncheon & Boat Trip

This Holiday Rambler rally is a pleasant, laid-back one. Ed's enjoyed his seminars and I've enjoyed meeting new people. Friday was a Ladies' Luncheon for all ladies and Red Hatters could wear their ensembles, if desired. I'm not a Red Hatter but did find some purple and red to wear. White linen table clothes always make things taste better, don't you agree? The food was simple and the presentation was outstanding!

Saturday afternoon, we took a boat tour on the
Rappahannock River into the harbor in Urbana. Ed was tickled to get a photo of an osprey with her baby peeking out just below her.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Save Your Memories

I mentioned this in a post back in March 2008 (Click here -> Mary's Beloved Grandchildren) and it's taken me over a year to get it together. Good Housekeeping magazine gave me this idea many years ago and I strongly encourage you to do it!!

Keep these thoughts in mind:
1. Take the photo each year in front of your front door once a year - on the child's birthday is a good way to remember.
2. Have the adult on the same side every year.
3. Put the child and only one adult at a time in the photo.
4. Label them carefully with year and age.
5. Keep both a digital copy and printed one.

Due to some unusual circumstances with my step-grandchildren, I was not able to quite keep within the parameters above. However, I treasure what I have managed to capture.

Please share this idea with all your friends and family!

(Click on the each page below to see a larger version.)

(Click here for another photo suggestion: "Think Before You Shoot")

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rally with Holiday Ramblers

Ed is trying to get our satellite set up for Dish Network. He needs two wires coming out of the satellite for them to set things up but hadn't found anyone near home who would touch it. He found an RV place in Richmond and set up an appointment before we left home. The place, Cheek and Shockley RVs, turned out to be only 2 miles from our FMCA rally location.

We arrived there on Monday morning and Ed thought it wouldn't take long. The weather was hot so we headed to a Panera's Bread Company to keep cool and use the internet. Turned out that there were already two wires up there!

Ed also had them try to adjust the living room slide-out with was low enough that the door below it was gouged when he opened it. The problem seems to be that the slide-out motor is old and tired so is not bringing the slide-out in tightly. They're ordering us a motor.

We traveled about 50 miles Northeast to the town of Urbana. I thought of my sister, Anita Krull, when we passed through Westpoint, where she and her husband lived for over 10 years.

This place is called
Bethpage Camp-Resort and can accommodate over 700 campers! It's right on the
Rappahannock River near the Chesapeake Bay. After dry-camping for several days at the FMCA rally, it feels luxurious to have a full hookup!

A knock came on our door about 10:30 this morning, and the folks were surprised to find that Ed was still in his favorite outfit - his bathrobe. He invited them in as it was hot outside. Both the President (Bob Boyer) and Treasurer (Joyce Eagle) of the Virginia Region III Holiday Rambler Club came to personally welcome us and to deliver our rally packet. They visited for a while, answering questions and filling us in on rally and membership details.

The rally officially starts tomorrow and it's nice to have a day to relax before we begin the many activities planned.
BTW - Holiday Rambler is the brand of our RV.

Philip May - Another One

As mentioned before, I attended a workshop called "Computer Safety and Security for the RV". The leader was Philip May - even the same spelling as my brother's name. He's 6'4", very slim, and speaks with an English accent!

Philip was an executive for many years with HP. Now he and his wife, Tracy, have started their own company, TechnoRV, that focuses on improving the security and enjoyment for RVers with unique, computer-related products.

I bought a USB LED light to light up my keyboard, which will be great when we're watching TV in the RV with most of the lights turned off.

They do have some neat and useful tech-toys.
Take a look: http://www.technorv.com/

They've been on the road for almost 3 years with their two teenagers and are having a ball. Tracy says they're pleased that their kids are learning to interact with all types and ages of people and yes, they are home schooled.

It was a pleasure to meet another Philip May and his family.

This is me with my brother, Philip May, in 2000.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Prepping for HD TV in the RV

Sunday morning, we actually got up at 7:30 in time for the coffee, donuts, and bagels. We enjoyed talking to people there and saw the benefits of going every morning – not that we’re going to!! Getting up so early made Sunday seem like it went on forever.

We went to lunch with Rita and Joe Komer(?) from Vienna, VA. Rita and I met at the Ladies’ Luncheon on Friday and we had great fun shopping. (I found her some cute earrings and we both bought some lipstick.) They have a brand new Phaeton RV by Tiffin that has four slide-outs – the prettiest one I’ve seen. Now Ed’s drooling and naturally, wants one!

It’s Monday and we’re at Panera Bread Co. for a bit of internet time. The RV’s at a shop getting a wire installed to run from our satellite on the roof to the inside. When we get home, the plan is to get set up with DISH network and turn off our cable. Dish is the only company that can get Ed's beloved High Definition channels. The fancy satellite is already on the roof so we might as well enjoy it.

It looks like about an hour’s drive to our next rally in Urbana at BethPage Resort. This will be all Holiday Ramblers, the brand of our rig. TBC (to be continued)……

Friday, June 5, 2009

MM's Birthday & Ladies' Luncheon

RV rallies are set up with various workshops throughout the day, vendors in an area all day, and usually entertainment during the evening. I took the “Cleaning Your Rig” one presented by Big Rig RV Accessories. Who would think that a workshop explaining about microfibers, their history, and the various types would be interesting? By the time the guy finished, I wanted to go buy microfiber cleaning rags, towels, mops, etc. One of the great things I like is that to clean windows and mirrors, you use only water and these “rags” - they clean and leave no streaks or lint.

I then went to Advanced Digital Photography and learned a lot about working with photos in different ways. A guy across the aisle asked a question and I recognized his voice. It was Dave Friedel, the fellow Ed enjoyed so much last January in Ft. Lauderdale – more about Dave later.

Ed went to RV Electrical Circuits – Part 1 and Part 2, Allison Transmissions, and the Do’s and Don’ts of Holding Tanks. In between, he had fun shopping and trying to figure out some problems on our RV with Dave.

During the course of the two days I went to Traveling with Tupperware, Organizing Your Coach, and Computer Safety and Security for the RV. The computer workshop was led by Philip May – the same spelling as my brother, Philip May. I went to their booth afterwards and we had great fun texting and calling my brother, then sending him a photo of me standing with Philip May. This Philip May is about 150 pounds and is 6’4” with an English accent.

About Dave and Dianne Friedel - from near Baltimore, MD.... The email address he had given us in January didn’t go through and Ed was disappointed to lose touch with him, as he’s a wealth of knowledge about many topics and a fun guy. Thus, began – or continued a friendship. We went to Applebee’s that evening with Dave and Dianne and they helped celebrate my birthday. I indulged in a Blondie (Gayle Davis, WHY did you have to tell me about them? They are sooo good but soo full of calories…..oh, that’s right, I forgot, if it’s your birthday calories are canceled!).

Friday was the Ladies’ Luncheon, involving many who are in the Red Hat Society. They were decked out in their very creative purple and red hats and ensembles. The menu was really tasty – shiskabobs made of chicken with pineapple and onions, spinach dip with crackers, beautiful grapes, pineapple, and strawberries, little teeny cheesecakes and brownies, with iced tea. It was a very hoity-toity affair - not really but I did meet several nice gals!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

RV Rally in Richmond

We left home about noon this morning. The weather is cool and rainy, making for unpleasant driving conditions. On the way down, I started reading over the literature about this rally, only to discover that you’re supposed to come in on June 2nd and 3rd! The First-Timers meeting was on the 3rd so we missed that, oh well…… . We arrived at the F.M.C.A. (Family Motor Coach Association) rally site, which is the Richmond Nascar Complex, have an overview of the rally shopping vendors we might patronize tomorrow.

Ed saw a Church’s Fried Chicken place within site of our coach, so we went over there and had us some gooood fried chicken. It was still in the low 60's, so we turned the generator on to get some heat.

There are about 500 rigs here. Some paid more to have sites with electric hook-up but no one had water or sewer. That means everyone was taking little dry-camping style showers to conserve water. It is surprising how little water a person can get by with, for example, you would never leave the water running while you brush your teeth. We had thought there’d be a bath house where we’d shower but there were only toilets – lots of toilets. Again, oh, well….

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Amending Travel Plan

Tomorrow we're off to our two RV rallies - one in Richmond and one about 50 miles from there in Urbana, Virginia. We'll be back the middle of June.

We had a delightful dinner with Billie and Al Brown last evening at Red Lobster. They have been out West several times and pointed out to us that if we leave in July we'll be hitting the peak for campgrounds and sights busy with school kids and the peak for heat.

Our new plan is that we'll leave early in August and head the Northern route.....stopping in Dayton, Ohio to see my sister and in Kansas City to have the brake light kit for towing installed on our new Chevy Malibu.......with Yellowstone as our first major stop.

That will put us returning the Southern route through Texas so we can visit Mother and my brother. If the timing is right, it's possible we'll just go straight on over to Florida for the winter.

There are several things I like about this new plan: 1. That will give us about 6 weeks at home so I can complete a few projects and have time to think through what all we'll want to take with us. 2. Ed is due for a CAT scan in July so this will be done here in Virginia with his own oncologist. We're remaining hopeful that things will remain stable in that regard.... 3. We will hit the weather better by going North first and less crowds by going later in the summer.

To be continued.....!