Relax

I’m sitting in my recliner watching the sun set over the Mississippi River with the windows open allowing the cool Mississippi air in from the side window on our fifth wheel.    Over head I can hear geese as they  track back north and there is a freight train somewhere not too far off.  I’m inclined to nap I feel so comfortable and peaceful but I’m too much into another NCIS rerun to give in.  I’ve come to accept the fact that I can truly relax and enjoy myself.  It’s a tough thing to do when you’ve worked most all your life.  Always a deadline, a project to complete, a meeting to make/schedule/organize.  For the first few years after I retired from my second career I even worked as a state consultant.  Not exactly on a tight schedule as I planned all my days and took off when I wanted to, but still I was in the game.

I remember a trip to see my folks years ago during the summer when school was out.  I’d take the three girls over summer vacation each year and we’d travel to Long Island to see relatives.  I was visiting my mom and dad early one morning.  My father made me breakfast and I was asking him his plan for the day and his answer was take a nap and then watch the Mets.  I was annoyed at the fact that I saw him as wasting away just sitting there not realizing he was really enjoying himself after years of work.  I know people who work up until the time they can no longer work because they see their life as their work and work as their life.  It is like putting your heart into working around a house and always mowing and taking care of the garden only to see it a few years after you have sold the house and all your hard work is just gone. Same thing goes with that old job you used to have.  Go back in a few years and see if anyone even remembers you, you thought you were so important: Better yet try to remember the person you replaced or a retirement party from a few years ago.  Who was that for and what did they do?

The best part of my life right now is that I share it with Monica and it is absolutely wonderful.  We sleep when we want, eat what and where we want.  In fact it was not until yesterday I planned out our next few weeks of travel.  And when we’re back at our home base we get to play with the baby without worry or concern for what day it is or what time. In fact for Christmas this year my sister Pat bought us a clock that tells you the time, date, and day of the week!  A funny at first but not so funny when you realize you really don’t pay attention anymore if you can truly relax and enjoy the ride.

Monica and I often say we have such a wonderful life and I can tell you it truly is and I hope all of you one day achieve the same.

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Vicksburg, MS

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Those of you who have ever travelled to Vicksburg, Mississippi known as the “Key to the South” and site of one of the civil war’s most decisive battles, have perhaps done so for the many casinos that populate the Mississippi River banks, and may have even driven the short distance into old Vicksburg to look at the small and large southern homes along the main streets.  However if you drive them more than a cursory tour you begin to notice the amount of abandoned properties and general run down atmosphere of the city itself.  One of the prettiest buildings in all of Vicksburg appears to be City Hall which sits just across from the church we attended Mass at this past Sunday, St Paul’s. A beautiful stately church, notice the tulip tree in the foreground.  Almost past its blooming period!

It is an enormous church and in fact one of the first things Monica and I remarked about was, how do they pay to cool this space during the summer?img_9477

 

The choir loft in the rear of the church was just beautiful and they managed to play a selection of oldies we truly enjoyed.  Our celebrant for this Mass was an older Irish priest whose lively Mass and homily kept us listening to what he had to say.  Unfortunately we noticed a general lack of Deacons and alter persons not only here but in many churches we’ve attended.  I wonder if it is a symptom of a larger issue or just growing pains.

 

We’ve been in Vicksburg for several days longer than planned.  Our truck had a radiator issue and it’s in the truck doctor’s office getting fixed.  Meanwhile I rented a “Standard” size vehicle from Enterprise and wound up with this screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-9-54-20-amItalian coffin, a Fiat 500.  Looks cute in the picture but try folding yourself into the front seat.  Yowzer.  Now I’m not exactly the slimmest guy around but even Monica has issues with the front seat.

 

 

We spent the better part of a day throwing money around inside the Ameristar Casino.

We really had a great time, won a bit lost a bit, had a great meal in the cleanest buffets I’ve ever seen.img_9499

Huh, imagine that, in for the early bird special LOL!

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Westward Bound

We we finally hit the road again, this time with the hope of heading west and see the American Southwest.  That being said however it was a really tough departure.  I don’t know why leaving our youngest daughter Jessica and her baby Meena fullsizeoutput_1a22was such a struggle.  We saw the baby every day since she was born in October, watched her while Mom and Dad worked, or went shopping or needed rest.  I don’t understand the difference with this child but it’s there.  I can emphasize now with my parents and their involvement with my sister’s child, Ryan.  It’s the time of your life, added to that it’s your last child and combine it with the feeling that accompanies realization of one’s own age.

That being said we had a great departure and first couple of days.  We stayed in an Army Corps campground and as usual with many Corps parks, it was deep in the Alabama woods with no cell service and therefore no wifi.  So a few days off the grid gave us the chance to walk this beautiful park and to visit Moundville, a state archaeological park and museum.img_0110Such an interesting place located just a few miles from Tuscaloosa Alabama.  There are a series of more than 20 mounds of varying heights thought to be the place where the Indians worshiped and where the various chiefs had their homes.  Additionally the site is home to many Indian burial grounds.  This is also where Jessica spent several weeks while working for #Americorps building pathways, handicap access places, and repairing areas that had been left unattended for a while.

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She was part of the group of Americorps youth called River Four and they stayed in a house just off the state park grounds.  Here she is with her daughter Meena visiting the part of the  deck she helped build. Shane and Jessica came down and spent a night with us at the Army Corps Campground called Burchfield Branch Campground

A very nice park with around 60 sites half of which are on the water while the rest have small streams running behind or around them.  The worst part is there is no cell phone reception and it is so far back in the woods that it takes a good 30 minutes to get out to civilization and cell phone range.

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Four Christmases

img_9168A wonderful Christmas season where we got to have Christmas four times over two days, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We started Christmas Eve at Holy Rosary (keeping to our theme of visiting different churches everywhere we travel, even Nashville!)

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Christmas 2016

Monica and I spread our Christmas celebration over the family Christmases but had some presents under our small coach tree as well.

After Mass we went to Rebecca and Kayla’s place for their Christmas Eve dinner and presents with Braden.

We got home pretty late but we got to start Christmas Day not too early, with Shane cooking everyone breakfast and Jessica and Meena finishing the tree.

Meena got all the cool presents while the big people all got things they want and needed.

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Christmas 2016

 

Then off to Christina and Brian’s place for the fourth and final Christmas celebration with John and Christopher!

 

We’ll bring in the New Year in Nashville again this year, before heading south and west in late January.  We hope everyone’s Christmas season was blessed and the new year brings all your heart’s desire.

 

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Tongue

I was one of the first in my family to fly.  My best friend had moved to a place I could not ride my bike to: I was heartbroken.  While we did not go to the same elementary school, I went to parochial school Corpus Christi on Long Island, and he went somewhere else.  Or at least I think he did.  I really don’t know, but I know he was not in my class.  So the how we met is beyond me.  I thought about it for a while and thought that perhaps we had a paper route together but realized no, I was too young for a paper route at the time.  Either that or he just did not have a paper route and we met in some other fashion.  It really does not matter I guess but it bugs me that I can’t remember.  I do remember he had a large family, something like four or five brothers and the same amount of sisters.  I used to spend some weekends there, probably slept on the floor.

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His dad had to move the family to a suburb outside of Washington DC for his work, a promotion of some sort.  I was so upset I guess, that my parents decided to allow me to travel to DC by myself.  I must have been around 11 or 12 when we headed for then Idlewild Airport (now Kennedy) in New York City for the brief but exciting flight to Washington.  It felt as if the airplane went straight up and came straight down at the end of the flight but it was so much fun.  He and his mother were waiting for me at the foot of the stairs as I exited the plane and with renewed friendship excitement we made all sorts of plans for the coming week.

I can only imagine that cooking for her monster family was a challenge for his mom because we had very interesting meals.  Mashed potatoes and gravy for breakfast.  More baloney and cheese sandwiches than I would ever want again for lunch and sometimes breakfast and dinner was almost always a mystery.  baloney-sandwichA mystery because as a young kid what am I going to say about what’s being served?  It was for the most part warm and covered with gravy and that’s all that mattered to me.  Occasionally we would have chicken thrown in the mix, the only meat I could identify by sight, but aside from that I haven’t a clue what was served.

Except for one night.

Dinner was usually just a giant cluster with people always moving around, you never got the same seat, not was it ever served at the same time.  Everything depended on how the “flow” of the giant family was going at the time.  I was seated next to his dad this particular eventing when tonight’s mystery meat was presented on a platter, covered with gravy on both the meat and mashed potatoes, and passed around.  I really do not remember much about having been served any vegetables; they were probably there just covered in gravy making them indistinguishable from anything else.  You were generally left to fend for yourself when it came to cutting things up but this night I was really having difficulty cutting this meat.  His dad noticed and offered to cut a few pieces for me to get me started.  He cut off a few large chunks and I started eating the gravy soaked lump of meat he had managed to cut.

I never really looked at what I was eating because the excitement of the large family dynamics going on around me always kept me focused on them and not the food.  His mom was probably a good cook, it’s just when you’re cooking for 13 or 14 people at a table made for 8 tops, meals are always interesting.  Anyway I was about three or four chews into this hunk of meat in my mouth when I noticed it was defiantly different.  I must have gotten a huge piece of gristle because this piece was not going anywhere.  Noticing my struggle his dad asked if I was enjoying the meat.  I must have mumbled something about it being difficult to chew when he said well, that’s because you’re eating tongue.

I don’t remember much about the next few minutes but I do remember running to the bathroom and tossing dinner as I gagged and gagged puking everything I had since breakfast.  Pictures of pretty cows with their tongues out came into mind.  He never said whose tongue it was I had assumed some kind of beef, but I’ve since learned people eat all sorts of tongues — even duck tongues!  Absolutely disgusting.

(I was going to post a picture here but every one made me want to hurl)

Anyway I really don’t know what initiated this thought about that particular dinner with my BFF’s family.  I had been watching nostalgic Christmas movies on Hallmark and that is what may have prompted this thought process; thinking of simpler times, best friends that everyone seems to have that I never did besides my wife Monica.  I was never interested in that type of friendship.  Perhaps the loss of my one best friend when I was younger was enough to seal off the prospect of looking for another … I don’t know.  I’ll clue you in on octupus by the way, in case you’re inclinded to stick a tenticle laced leg of this mollusk in your mouth, it tastes just like tongue and just as easy to chew!

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A Birthday & Parade!

It’s not that often when you get to have both a birthday party and the town throws a parade the same day but Christina lucked out this year.  Granville’s annual Christmas parade was Saturday, the same day we celebrated her birthday!

 

I’ve seen many parades, some that go on for hours, but none quite as nice and quaint as Granville’s parade.

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It was a brisk day but with all the candy flying around the boys didn’t  mind sitting for a few seconds for a picture.  John on the right and Christopher next to his momma, the boys have sure grown up these last few years (boy in the middle is Brian’s son).  Shane in the back next to Brian was in a brace due to his accident and Monica holding Meena and Jessica in the back, we all had a great time.

 

This “Griswold Christmas” car was just classic!

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Before the Posed Pictures

Another wonderful Bauernfeind Family Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Through all the posed pictures taken, I almost always prefer the pre-pose pictures.

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Fixing hair, instructing children who seem to be looking everywhere except where you want them to, the picture tells more than the posed picture.

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The amount of food and family fun as always was the best part of the day.

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Rock Island Thanksgiving

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Rock Island Thanksgiving

 

We camped in the same park at the Rock Island RV Park, which is just beautiful

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Rock Island RV Park

 

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