December 30th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

I had to go do a curbside pickup for a few things this morning and while in town I decided to go ahead and get my bike helmet purchased. The supply and color selection was limited but I was not waiting another day and I am glad to have that taken care of so I can ride. Even though it is supposed to rain, it was sunny for a time this morning after I got back but then the clouds blew in and it looked like rain so I could not get out today. I got the dog out for a quick hike of the leg (his) and there was some light precipitation falling. I woulda gotten wet, and that’s no big deal, but it isn’t really good for an e-bike to get wet. Perhaps the weather will have a break over the next few days (despite the forecast) and I can go for a spin on it.

I was looking at some maps to look at how far it is to some places I want to go on the bike and how to get there. Most of those places are within 11-12 miles of where I am living. That is well-within the range on my e-bike even if I would be using only the electric motor and not pedaling (which I am gonna pedal). Almost all of that is on trails and backroads so no major traffic to deal with. For now it is only a Class II bike (top speed 18 mph) so I can ride it on sidewalks (if I wanted to), but when I get to the point I want to go faster and use it as a Class III (top seed 28 mph) it will be only to ride on the street (and anything above that is considered a motor vehicle and treated as such). I suggest if you get an e-bike check local and state laws before you get one and see what the laws are where you live or want to ride. I have learned a lot about the laws and you can get into trouble and be fined/ticketed for being in the wrong place. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to know the laws. Don’t whine if you get busted.

I need to figure out something with the dog on biking adventures, but I think the first couple trips will be just me so I can get used to the bike; I don’t really want to mess with holding a leash while figuring it out. I gotta get him a dog pack and water bottle for adventures. I can run him up and down the driveway with ]out a leash to see how he will respond but I just don’t think he is ready for that yet.

I got a special new-customer promotion on another meal plan called EveryPlate so I signed up for the discounts then I will pause it as needed. They also have a link to give to people so (DISCLAIMER) if you click on this you get a $20 credit and so do I. It looks to be just like all of the other meal plans you see advertised and there are some very interesting recipes, especially in the pasta section (which I am trying to cut back on). I have a few days until the meals get here from the two different meal kit places so I have some time to eat more food out of the freezer and free up some containers.

I know for New Year’s I will be staying home like all my friends are doing, avoiding gatherings and staying well. I might grab a carton of Guinness to bring home to toast but not much else. I am still not drinking much Tito’s or Grey Goose these days, but I don’t really think much about it. There will be no driving anywhere after dark (if even at all) with the annual New Year’s Eve Amateur Night taking place on the roadways. We’ll see if I even stay awake until midnight!

Speaking of adult beverages, I was thinking a while back that I really have not had much wine the last several months. I like a nice wine and craft beers due to the talent it takes to make some really good ones of both. I did get to the point where it was nice to have a glass or two with a good meal, but since it is just me I have to drink it all myself in two or three nights (at most) so it doesn’t go bad. I will have to grab a bottle or two to go with my meal kit meals.

That is about all for now.

✌🏼

November 26th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Music, Outdoors, Uncategorized

Where has this year gone? I cannot believe that it’s already the holiday season for those who celebrate those things. I guess, in reality, even those who don’t celebrate are along for the ride. I need to get out for a few things but for now I will be whittling that back to one thing and then the post office.

I bought my turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce and it was delicious. I have enough for another plate tomorrow and after that I am good with it for many months. I don’t eat turkey but two or three times a year (I like chicken better) but it is a long tradition in families and I still do the meal even though it’s just me. Now that I can go where I want whenever I want to visit family it will be better and I will be able to see them on holidays more. They are the ones that live in the middle of nowhere, not me. 😁

It has been a lazy day for the most part, but I did do some cleaning and organizing earlier so I could have some extra room, a clean kitchen and a clean table to eat on. All day I have debated doing laundry just to get it done while there’s no one else in there with the same idea. I finally decided that I needed to just get it done so after I ate I took care of it. I would have had to do it in a few days and I am going to be moving around that same time so it’s just easier to do it now. I need to do my sheets and comforter but I will do those later. Maybe tomorrow morning would be a good time, when everyone is at the stores acting like two-year-olds fighting over the last big-screen TV on sale.

When I was at Trader Joe’s a few days ago I picked up some frozen gnocchi in a tomato sauce with mozzarella. I have wanted to try gnocchi so a few nights ago it was time to do so. Perhaps it needed to heat a bit longer/hotter as it was a little “doughy” to me. It was not horrible or disgusting; I just don’t know WHAT they are supposed to be like. I will keep trying, maybe find a restaurant that makes it for takeaway.

Yesterday I had my eye appointment but I went early to get some seafood for lunch. There is a local fast seafood chain here in Washington called Skipper’s. They have a location near my cataract surgeon so I stopped to see if they had salmon and chips. And they did. And so did I. I love fish and chips but salmon that is breaded and deep-fried is fish on a whole ‘nother level. When I finally get a normal fridge again it will be so nice to have the extra space. In the trailer I do miss having the freezer room to buy salmon burgers and other seafood on sale.

It has been a really nice day today with cool sunshine. I was running inside and back out in short sleeves and it was comfortable. I would not have wanted to be out all day without having a sweatshirt or jacket, but it was pleasant out walking the dog and doing some cleaning things outdoors.

I am not sure if anyone has become aware of this or not, but I bet you will now! Lately, I have noticed that wearing a mask has really changed human communication. Being one with hearing issues, I found that before this pandemic I was unconsciously reading people’s lips to help myself understand. Now, on top of not seeing (reading) lips and listening to voices muffled by a mask we are also not seeing facial expressions and that is certainly affecting our communication. It’s like we are all faceless – like we are living some episode of “The Twilight Zone” in real time. At the same time, I have noticed some very amazing eyes. Yes, I have been captivated by eyes before, but when you cover a face in a mask and the eyes are all that is there it is just incredible. I have seen some eyes that just smiled so big, and I have seen some incredibly beautiful eyes. I have also seen dark, intense eyes, sometimes a joyless, exhausted stare. I have seen all sorts of communicating with the eyes that wasn’t as prevalent before. It was there; we were just focused elsewhere. It’s really amazing. It’s like learning a new language.

Okay, enough existentialism. But I know you’re gonna be looking now! And you’re welcome.

It will be nice getting some stuff set up to work on my music again. I wish I had the setup I had in Colorado (I have mentioned this previously); a complete stage in my basement with instruments, monitors, P.A. system, and recording gear was pretty sweet, and next to it was my Irish pub – affectionately known as “The Morningwood on Dick Mountain” – complete with a billiards table and a bar.

It was nothing fancy but it was pretty nice and we had many, many weekends and evenings of entertainment and fun along with the countless memories. And oh…the parties. Every weekend ended up a party. Always Saturday, but sometimes Friday too. And if it was a holiday weekend you best buckle up when you get back from the liquor store because it’s gonna be one for the books. Never knew who was gonna show up or who would be passed out where or what was grilling at 3:00 A.M. (but it was gonna be tasty!).

We always had so much fun; those were some really good times – living life large. I had people from out of town out for the weekend over St. Patrick’s Day a few years before I left that house (you know who you are, Chelsea). The first night we gave it hell and lived to tell about it the next day, but there was one weak individual who said something along the lines of “I’m not playing tonight”. I believe I replied with something like “Yeah, um okay. We’ll see how that plays out.”. Of course, he was right in there with the rest of us later, trying to hold on to the Earth to keep from flying off into space. Sunday was worse than Saturday, and we couldn’t drink it off since the next day was back to work. So many great days and nights playing, writing and recording music by myself or with John, my friend and neighbor.

During this time it was a phase of life that usually involved Guinness, Bailey’s, and Jameson’s. The name for this is something I have quit saying, but if you look those three ingredients up you’ll see what it is. We drank these profusely, but then we quickly learned of the magic power and deliciousness of Grey Goose and two freshly-diced pineapples in a container for 14 days. It was game on after that. Many came, they all saw, and they were all conquered. I know…I had to find places for them to sleep afterwards!

And yes, my backyard went up the side of Dick Mountain. For real. Now can you please stop snickering like a 12-year-old-boy.

It’s a nice distraction to go back and think about those good times, especially during these not-so-good times. It’s good to think back and laugh, or shake your head in amazement that you did this stupid childish dangerous stuff, and you KEPT doing this stuff AND lived to talk about it (so far). It’s good to live life and have fun in the process.

August 21st, 2020

Just things, Music, Uncategorized

My first taste of Scotch was in the early 1980s when I was a stagehand at the Uptown Theatre in Kansas City.

The Uptown was (and still is as far as I know) a beautiful old theatre. It was built in the 1920s and opened in 1928. It is adorned with balconies, columns, and a black ceiling with “stars” (lights) to emulate an outdoor nighttime setting. It was a movie house in the grand tradition and had a proscenium stage with big maroon velvet curtains. It was like many other theaters back then; some, like the many Fox Theatre venues still left in the country, were owned by the studios. It is a special place and holds a spot in my heart.

Back in those days the Uptown was a very busy place and was staging several shows a week. I had started there without any experience after losing my job in 1980 (given a job out of compassion by a big burly guy named Jimbo). I had earned my place as a regular on the crew through hard work and perseverance and worked many shows through both of my stints there (second run was in the late 80s in charge of the lighting rig and as house electrician).

The shows ran the spectrum – Toots and the Maytals, Johnny Rivers, Men at Work, A Flock of Seagulls, Nick Lowe, Steppenwolf, Jean Luc Ponty…and so many, many more. It was also the place I met and hung out briefly with Robin Williams. It was a great, intimate venue for a show.

One show in particular in the early 80s I got to have a conversation with a guy in one of the bands that came through. He was one of the nicest people I ever met when I was doing stage work. Between the years that have passed and, well, it WAS the 80s, I cannot remember the date or the two or maybe three acts that night; I narrowed it down to these bands: it could have been Dokken, Streets (Steve Walsh’s band after he left the band Kansas), or Strange Daze (a great Doors tribute band who I was asked to tour with in Europe but the tour unfortunately fell through), but I am thinking that it was Dio on his first solo tour after leaving Black Sabbath. Thinking back a little more in depth I think the other bands I mentioned were all together on another show there.

At sound check, the drummer for the opening act came up to me as I was standing off stage left near the monitor console and we started talking. Not like rock star talking, but as two guys just talking about topics now long forgotten (again, the 80s). I know from being around this type of work for several years and being on the road it’s nice to just have a conversation without the star struck condescension, and that’s what this was. Human interaction.

As a stagehand you pretty much know to be a wallflower. It’s unprofessional to be star struck; your job is to make the show happen and stay in the shadows. You would get a “how’s it going?” or an unsaid “thanks” sometimes via a nod or smile, but you don’t approach people. To have someone come up to you and strike up a conversation was very out of the norm. If you think about it they are surrounded by fame, drugs and people kissing their asses constantly – all leeches and posers. I would think just having a normal conversation with someone was not very common and something longed for those in the entertainment lifestyle.

He went onstage to do his sound check and came back by. We chatted a bit more and he asked me if I liked Chivas Regal. I said I don’t even know what that is. He said to me “It’s Scotch and when I come back for the show I’ll bring a bottle and we’ll have a toast!”. I said “Okay”, thinking it was “rock star talk”.

The doors open for the show and we are all putting on the final touches dressing the stage. I get back in position by the monitor console again, ready to run onstage during the concert to fix something if need be (as I had to do about 90 minutes later in the middle of the Dio show and during other shows).

The guy I was talking with earlier walks up to me, and sure as hell he had an unopened bottle of Chivas in hand. He cracks the seal and hands it to me. I give him a toast and a nod and take a big hit off of it. I hand it back to him. He gives me a toast and a nod and takes a big hit off of it, we smile and shake hands and he hits the stage with that bottle. They were on fire that night and had the crowd in their palms. They left and we passed each other, nodded and smiled and I told him “Great show!”. Since I was getting the stage ready for Dio I did not have time to talk.

The band was Quiet Riot. The guy’s name was Frankie Banali.

I write this story because Frankie lost his battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday. I had read articles lately about him being sick and it made me think about that special moment all those years ago.

I have read many tributes to him and everyone says he was such a nice guy. He really was a nice guy that night to some lowly stagehand.

Rest peacefully, Frankie, and thanks for the Chivas and the memory.

February 17th, 2020 – Day 9: Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Kansas City, MO USA

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

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On the way to Schiphol Airport from Amsterdam Centraal Station

I woke up at 4:30, an hour before our alarm was supposed to go off. I laid there in the darkness, contemplating our trip during that time; all the things we saw and did and the fun we had. We have a 9-hour flight to ATL then a couple more hours to MCI.

It was such a great trip and after getting back home I am still thinking about it all. For me returning from this trip was much different than the first time over; having been there I already had that initial excitement of being in Europe. I also knew what to expect for not just going to Europe, but parts of the trip (Köln and Amsterdam, and a little bit in Dublin). I really had no idea what to expect about being all over Ireland and that’s the part I am still having trouble processing. The people were so wonderful and friendly. Everywhere we went in Europe everyone was friendly and helpful but Ireland has the overwhelming feeling of belonging. Galway (and the areas around it) was an even more comfortable place to be…not surprisingly, a feel of home given the centuries-long family history in the area.

The adventure of travel – domestic or international, be it by foot, transit, air, sea, or land –  is so fun and amazing. It is also what you make of it and to be self-reliant in a country where you are a visitor/outsider gives one pause to think about that a little deeper (at least it should) when they return home.

You must get out of your comfort zone to actually learn things and have great experiences when and where you travel; it’s not just about taking pictures of the same famous things like everyone else has posted online. Get in the alleys, go in a coffeeshop or a smart shop, do something you wouldn’t normally do, go someplace where your language is not spoken primarily, eat foods you cannot pronounce, try to have conversations with a local. I guarantee you will have some amazing life-changing experiences and countless stories and memories that last a lifetime.

This trip also included my first stay in an Airbnb property (Landsmeer) and I think that its a great way to travel now that I have done it. I will be looking into doing that more on my own – it’s a great way to get the local flavor of where you are and a great alternative to the same old boring chain hotels here in the States. Being retired, most of my travel will probably be with the trailer but there will one times I need to fly someplace and need a place to stay.

A few thoughts about Amsterdam – it’s a fun, easy city to be in but it is so overrun with cannabis tourists and all of the businesses play it up pretty well – to me it is really overblown and gaudy. I can stay home for that without the commerciality but Washington is overrun with people as well, especially the Seattle area.

I do feel really bad for the residents of Amsterdam; it is tough enough just living in a tourist area but what they deal with is pretty bad. Many tourists don’t care about or respect the locals and that is bad – trust me I know firsthand, having lived in touristy areas since 1996. We avoided being in the city on Friday and Saturday night and waited until Sunday to walk around at night.

I will probably be back, but will stay in the outskirts since I not only want to minimize my impact on the city but I also have other places I want to see in The Netherlands. I really do like Amsterdam’s progressiveness (which some call “freedom”…but only if it fits into their own morals). If you have a closed mind Amsterdam is just not for you.

…and some more thoughts about Ireland – I will definitely be going back to visit this beautiful place, full of some of the friendliest people I have ever met in my life. Dublin is fun and there’s a lot of history there that I still want to explore. There is so much more of the island I want to see. I had a lot of fun driving the car and really enjoyed the challenges and the differences (but not the Dublin traffic madness) and I will definitely get a car every time I go there. There is so much more to see and do in Ireland and I have to see and do it. For me, Galway has that indescribable special magic I feel when I am in the mountains.

In all we walked a total of about 58 miles in 8 days; not counting the day we left that’s an average of 7.25 miles a day. Some days were more – I know one or two were 10 miles a day! Pretty good amount of exercise! The girls did great figuring out the public transit and they fit right in. The only issues we had were the mapping apps not updating like they should (slow data speeds on our free international plans) and sending us in the wrong direction for a bit almost every time we wanted directions.

It was their first trip abroad and their first trip carrying everything around on their backs in a backpack and they did fantastic. They really adapted to this new style of travel really quick and they looked like experienced travel pros from the moment we left. To share travel with someone else makes it even better. When it is with someone you care about it is even better yet. I am so glad we got to go.

Thanks for a great trip, girls. I am looking forward to our next adventure!

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The End!!

February 16th, 2020 – Day 8: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

Today we got out of our rental in Landsmeer and moved into Centrum near Centraal Station. Our room happened to be overlooking a canal and the station along with buildings in the other side of the canal. From here we go back and catch a train to Schiphol Airport for the trip home.

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Our final hotel room is the second row from the bottom (the First Floor in Europe) and the two windows on the left. Not a bad location!

We got into our room and hit the streets again to find food and souvenirs. One thing on my list was to hit a place called FEBO. Much like the old Automats in NY City, FEBO has two options – you can order from the counter or you can drop a coin in a slot and pick out tasty morsels for €2-4 each. Kroketten, bami, kasssouffle – mostly it is deep-fried deliciousness but there were burger options as well. We went there three different times today!

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FEBO – Goes great with a “coffee”!

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The weather was a bit blustery for our last night. We went different directions for a while and then it started to rain. And then it rained even harder. My pants got soaked so it was back to the hotel to warm up. First, though, there was time for a lamb kebab wrap and it was delicious. This looks to be a second storm that came across the UK that was like the first one we got caught up in while in Ireland. We are leaving at a good time.

We went back out to stroll around some more and take one last look at the city as the rain finally slowed to a few sprinkles. The crowds were thinning since it was Sunday night. But still many people are milling about.

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Back to the hotel one last time for the evening. We put the final touches on our packing for tomorrow.

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The view from our hotel window on our last night in Europe