Tuesday, March 31, 2015


I made it through Friday night at work! I couldn't wear the wrist brace while I worked, but put it back on afterwards. I did hurt all evening- but not even nearly to the degree of pain I have had for the last year and a half. The brace went back on after work, I took Advil when I got home. I'm good. I can do this!
We had a worrisome weekend after not hearing from the Individuals since Thursday. Mr C was worse than I was! So I called where the boys should have been... and they were there. Their cell phone didn't get signal in that town at all. (A severe drawback of  Straight Talk is lack of coverage in so many places.)
Sam's new screen for his Nexus 7 tablet caught up to him. While it had tools included in the repair kit... it didn't have ALL the tools one needs. Sam shipped the entire thing home to us and ordered a new tablet, which should arrive by next weekend a couple of stops down the trail.
Despite some hardships, the Individuals are trudging along, having a wonderful time for the most part. Sam said one full day, they started out in the rain, and as they hiked UP the mountain, rain gave way to snow. DOWN the mountain, snow gave way to rain. UP the mountain, snow. DOWN into the rain. "Just like in Minecraft!"
They pitched their tent in a light snowfall- and woke up to more than 5" of snow pressing in on the tent! Their boots had, for the first time, soaked completely through, and had frozen solid during the night. Just the THOUGHT of putting on frozen boots makes my legs ache.

Over the weekend, Mr C and I got started packing up Daniel's room with intention to combine the boys stuff into one room. We ran into the thing everyone runs into: "But First!" It looks like we will need to pack up a lot of stuff in both rooms and go through quite a bit of stuff before any actual combining goes on. Sam's closet has been a storage repository for the extra bedding the entire 10+ years we have been in this house. Time to pare it down! I need someplace to stack the packed boxes. Outdoor storage would sure be helpful. Dan has an entire hutch full of chain-mail supplies. Really too heavy for cardboard boxes- I will have to figure out some way/ place to store them.

Here in AR, I would like to request some prayers for an important decision to be made. For some people, making decisions is a difficult thing. Often so hard to make, the decisions are put off until the choices are removed. So I thank you for praying. Meanwhile, I am trying to maintain a good attitude... it might be a good thing to pray for my attitude as well. I've got the patience thing pretty well under control, so don't pray any more patience (trials!) on me!  (James 1:3)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Still kicking along!

I've got scalloped taters in the oven, pork chops marinating to be cooked in the rotisserie. Avocados begging to be used for something.
After a few *I'm a parent and it's my job* worrisome days, we heard from the Individuals today. Sam broke the screen on his tablet... no blog updates, no Skype, no Anne of Green Gables until they get it replaced. I got a replacement screen ordered for them.. and so much for Amazon Prime two day shipping! It is supposed to arrive... at the place they were suppose to arrive at on the 30th... either the 30 to the 1st. Which is only a small problem if they weren't actually closer to arriving on the 28th. Their care package should be at the spot today- at the latest tomorrow. They may have to pay to have the replacement screen re-mailed to a future stop.
The boys made Gatlinburg, TN today. They hadn't planned to stop there, but ran low on supplies. You eat way more than you think you will when living on the Trail. Sam said he expected Gatlinburg to be about the size of Gentry, a small town with a limited choice of resupply spots. Instead, he finds Tourist Central. Had not the boys been on a tight schedule due to their Great Smokey Mountains hiking permit, Sam said they would of loved to spend more time exploring this historic town.

I looked around the house here... my organized-ish pack rats nest! and found the wrist brace I used some 13 years ago when I had carpal tunnel problems. After a couple of days of the itchy neoprene device, we went to town and Tom got me a sturdy, clunky brace. I am wearing it not quite 24/7... have to take it off  to wash my hands, cook, or wet clean anything. Just loosen it a bit at night to keep me from curling my arms up into little pretzels while I sleep. We will see how I am faring after this coming Friday night, when I cannot wear it at all to work. If necessary, I may have to reluctantly give notice. We are trying some "natural" remedies before resorting to surgery. If I don't have a rapid improvement, it will have to be surgery. (I know you CAN get better from carpal tunnel, I've done so before.)
Carpal tunnel is related to rheumatoid arthritis, which the doc says I have some form of- so not sure how effective treating just CT will be without full out counter attacking the RA. We shall see. Meanwhile, trying to write... or type... is "interesting."
Please continue prayers for our boys!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Whew, what a work-out.

Tonight was my first night to solo as the Fryer. It was also Chicken fried Chicken night. A whole extra set-up involved, and twice the amount of frying.
I need an elevator up the front steps at home. Four is too many. One is too many!
The boys were sorely missed by everyone. We had a substitute dishwasher, one of the ladies who has been there a long time- Barbara. I don't know where the teen girl is Sam trained, we were too busy to talk! But the daytime dishwasher- I don't even know if I can type without crying.
Brenda lost her 18 year old son to heart failure a couple of nights ago. He was bowling, felt bad. Felt REALLY bad. 911 was called- he didn't even make it to the hospital. He had been sick a couple of months back with pneumonia- folks are wondering if it damaged his heart.
The owner, Cam, drained and filtered the oil for me tonight, and carried the heavy buckets. I think people noticed I was struggling with them.
What I have been thinking for months is arthritis settled into one arm, and worsening, my Moms (Rose and Kathie) and my Dad, and brother Robbie all agreed I was wrong. I apparently have a classic and advanced case of carpal tunnel. I suppose I better find time to get that taken care of. Supposed to be a minor surgery. I am tired of hurting! Wonder if I can blame my lower back pain on carpal tunnel?
Several of my co-workers asked how I was faring during the evening. Many stepped up to help when I had fish, hush puppies, chicken fingers, and chicken fried chicken all cooking, and was needing to cut and/or bread more fish, fingers, and CFC. Most were afraid I was stressed out. I wasn't stressed at all- just in pain. No one yelled at me, or chewed me out. Those things stress me out. Being busy with multiple tasks does not.
Oh, Cam also showed me how to remove the blast nozzle from the pressure washer. It was MUCH easier to clean the fryers without the narrow focused pressure stream! I joked and said maybe Dan WANTED me covered in blasted bits of fryer debris, and that was why he didn't show me to do that! The narrow focus blast nozzle DOES have its place in cleaning the fryer... AFTER the debris is rinsed out!
Anyway, all the co-workers are enjoying the boys' blog, and quite a few commented on how much they enjoy Sam's writing ability. I had a call from the twins about noon today- they had received texts concerning Brenda's son. They are past the 150 mile mark, and expect to be to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park within the next day or so. They are still having a grand time, though had a miserably wet night last (Thursday) night. They said they pretty much everything, everywhere, in every way was wet. (Except sleeping bags). They snuggled into their "burritos of warmth" and slept in this morning. (They are known for being on the trail when its is still too early to hike without their head lamps.)
That is all for now. Goodnight, be blessed!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Here we are... the empty nest

Which really isn't the point of the post here.
I got home tonight from getting Jaffa from his "grandparents". My Dad and Kathie have doggy-sat him while we took the twins to the Appalachian Trail.
I picked up one spoiled rotten dog. He adopted my brother Robbie, his "uncle" while we were gone.
Apparently, Jaffa was Robbie's shadow the past week and a half. He even SLEPT with him.
I'm sorry, my parental duties to our dog do NOT include sleeping with him. Yes, many folks do sleep with their dogs. I do not.
Oh, the doggy drama.
The first night I was there, Jaffa was SO glad to see me. He would NOT let me go out of the house to the car for anything, unless he came along. He came upstairs with me. I made him a pallet to sleep on. He put his paws on the bed, and wagged hopefully. I told him, "Don't even THINK of it!". He gave a huge sigh and went over and curled up on his pallet, as the bedroom door was closed.
Last night, Kathie and I were up late. Jaffa fell asleep on his elevated doggy bed in the living room, with its two pads, plus blankets. I went up to bed and left him sleeping. I left the bedroom door cracked.
During the night, Jaffa discovered he was downstairs without any of his people. He came up and opened the bedroom where I was. He put his paws on the bed and "asked" permission to get on it. I said, "No. You sleep on your pallet!"
He gave a heavy sigh, went down the hall and jumped the gate that contains my brother's dogs in their portion of the house. He never came back. This morning, my brother tells me, Jaffa pawed him, and nosed him over. He slept with them!
Dan and Sam have called several times. They were at/ beyond "Wayah Bald" at the 120 mile mark of the trail last night. That does NOT include today's hiking.
Both are doing well! if you have a copy of the 2015 Northbound A.T. Guide, they are entering page 20.
I added an additional photo site for their adventure: www.graveljourney.shutterfly.com/pictures to their site. This is separate from their blog at www.graveljourney.blogspot.com . I will add a few pictures to it as I receive them.
Prayers are appreciated! Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Not to that point yet

Sometimes, people say things they mean to be kindly.
Yesterday was a really hard day for me. The third anniversary of Bill's death.
I cried.
I cried a lot.
Some people thought I was having a bad allergy day, swollen eyes and chapped face.

This morning I was told that I really need to stop doing that to myself. Let the day be just another day, full of different and good memories. Not a day I remember for Bill's loss.
 I'm not there yet.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

And, They're off!

There was rain in the night Sunday night. We weren't at all sure our little Toyota would make it the miles and miles up the slick red clay Forestry Service road wending its way up the mountainside. We did make it... and then Tom and I hiked the .9 (point nine) miles up to the top of Springer Mountain to see the boys off. What I didn't realize, they sign in on the summit, then the trail brings them right back down to the same parking lot and back off the opposite side of the lot! So I got nearly 2 miles of hiking in myself! We had stopped on the way to the mountain for donuts... and there was half a box left - so after the sign in, we stopped at the car and ate donuts before they continued on down the trail.
At the sign in stone on the summit of Mt. Springer, Dan was saying that he was feeling a bit more comfortable with the trail name possibly being "Osprey". I was still saying the boys would end up being Lewis and Clark! Tom was telling the boys how awesome this whole endeavor was going to be, all because of Dan's visionary work. Sam says,  "Hey, 'Visionary' would be a perfect trail name for Daniel!"
We will see if it sticks... after all, it was given atop Mt Springer! (Sam's chosen name has been "Otter" for months).
Tom and I watched the boys fade into the forest until we couldn't see them any more... then went to North Carolina, where I got to finally meet a long time internet friend, Sharon, and her son Matt. After our meeting, Tom and I headed to Ohio.
We got a late afternoon call from the twins... plenty of daylight left had me initially freaking out as I answered. They had settled in early to camp for the night, preferring to keep the tortoise pace, rather than run a sprint to finish a marathon. They were camped on a mountaintop, had had supper, set up their tent, and were just letting everyone know all was well!
Keep them in your prayers!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Day Has Come

Monday morning... tomorrow...
The day Mr C and myself will be driving deep into the woods, hiking to a mountaintop with our two youngest boys, and abandoning them there. Walking back to the car and leaving them to fend for themselves. In five and a half months, we are driving to another woods, almost 2200 miles north... and expecting to find them. They are starting with a forecast of something like five solid days of rain. Oh boy!
So the great Appalachian Trail Adventure begins.
I have enjoyed our trip across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Beautiful country!
We are truly in the foothills of the mountains here, it is "Wow" every moment.
Today we saw Amicalola Falls State Park . In the morning we follow a gravel path some 10 miles up a mountainside... and then?
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hooray, March! (Someone forgot to tell the weather)

March has been three incredibly busy days thus far. We have had two dentist appointments (at different dentists on the same day!) Paid to have our taxes done, been to Lewis and Clark somewhere in the neighborhood of three times (only once in the last 3 days, but three times in the past 7!) Been to Siloam Springs twice, Bentonville/ Rogers 4x. Been to 5 different WalMarts during the course of the last 3 days, the library, and the USPS Passport office. (Daniel and Sam will be passported quite soon, and Tom and I should apply for ours in a couple of months, leaving plenty of time before we go get the twins in Maine. I really want to see Canada, even if it is just barely crossing the border.)

 We had four or five inches of snow -topped with ice- since Friday, and it is at last melted off today, leaving the ground soggy muddy sink to your shoe tops muck. Tomorrow (starting later tonight) we are to get ice, topped with up to 3" of snow before tomorrow night. My worry right now is Dan having to drive to work in the morning.

The boys have everything for their adventure, I am pretty sure. We have made the lists and checked them twice  five or six times. Backpacks have been packed, weighed, unpacked, rearranged, repacked, re-weighed, unpacked, re-rearranged, re-reweighed and unpacked again. I think the only thing we thought of and are currently missing are abominations flip-flops for camp/shower shoes, and the Dr. Bronner's soap, which failed to make its 2-day delivery guarantee. (Weather delays, they say!)

 The twins are only working one of their jobs this week- The Wooden Spoon. We all three work Friday night! Then we head off Saturday. By Monday, the boys will be on the trail. At least THAT weather looks good. While the starting point of the AT on Springer Mountain, Georgia, is currently getting rain, the three days of the forecast we can view for there right now has sunny days in the upper 60's, and nights just down to freezing once (Just checked, and that one night has been revised to 37*). (Yes, they are well equipped for freezing temperatures.) Their first chance of rain is next Thursday, which may well see them overnight in a motel in Hiawassee, GA, as part of their plan at the moment anyway.

So... This week sees Granddaughter Alana reach 12 years old on Thursday. My Dad will (pretend not to have) his birthday Friday. Since he doesn't read my blog, I can say I got him several varieties of chocolate candy, and a bag of coffee. Happy Birthday, Alana (and Dad!)! (Alana got a book of poetry, and a copy of the movie The Princess Bride.)
I have crock pot full of chili at the moment. The twins are off for a last visit to friends, so they can have chili later... or tomorrow. I have the laundry pretty much caught up... until the twins do a final room cleaning before Friday! Dishwasher is empty, but the sink is half full of dishes I figure can wait until after supper. We should be good for hibernation tomorrow and Thursday.

Keep the Appalachian Trail trip in your prayers, thank you for reading!