Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Tyndall AFB, Florida: I have exciting news! Hubby just booked a flight for Christmas time, so we'll fly not drive home. There wasn't a lot of difference between a three day, two night drive in a rented car and the flight price, so he opted for the extra time at home. I am excited! More time with the kids and grands, and less time driving on the freeways!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

THE REST OF THE STORY.................

Tyndall AFB, Florida: I promise that this will be the very last time I will post about my social security check. After comparing the information we got in the mail today with the information we got when I called SS almost 3 weeks ago, we decided to go down to the SS office here in Panama City to have them access my account and give me up to date information. It seems that the person I talked to when I called from Indiana was correct. Social Security goofed and thought they needed to withhold my check because they said they overpaid me when in fact they had already withheld last January and February and that was all I owed them. So they will give me my October and November checks in December, and will also pay me the extra they owe me. End of the social security saga. (Until they mess up again!)

Now, the cell phone. I got in touch with my personal cell guy, RJ, and he agreed with me that the bill was completely foolish, and he is taking care of it and I will have a big credit next month. Thanks RJ!

The only thing left to complain about is the 77 degrees with 70% humidity. It sure felt weird to sweat when hanging Christmas lights on the RV awning. We bought a 3 foot tall pre-lit tree and will decotate that tonight in the hopes that it will make it seem more like Christmas. And tomorrow I'm digging out the Christmas CDs. I think I have someone's rendition of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" or maybe "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!"


Tyndall AFB, Florida: Finally an explanation for the missing Social Security check. Apparently they over paid me by one months worth of benefits. So they'll withhold October, November and December to make sure, and then will recalculate at the end of the year and pay me what they owe me. Sure they will. I've heard of too many people who have had a horrible time getting back on their benefits after they were removed. We'll see.

So, what this means for me is this: For the first time in the almost 21 years that I worked full time, I have no money coming in and I don't like it! My part of this retirement bargain was for me to buy groceries and pay the cell bill. It already didn't leave me more than a few dollars spending money, but I was adjusting to it. Now I can't even keep my end of the bargain for the next three months. I'm not happy!

AND, the cell phone bill. Listen to this: We have 500 anytime minutes, used 373, which is 61 over!?!? And we have 1000 night and weekend minutes, used 186, and that is 59 over!?!? I've heard this new math is weird, but that is totally stupid. And I think my handy dandy personal connection (he told me to call him personally with any problems) takes both Mondays and Tuesdays off.

On top of that, I didn't retire to sweat, and Florida is too hot.

Whine, whine, whine.

Oh, the mail finally came.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Tyndall AFB, Florida: Tomorrow is a special day. It's the 16th birthday of our grandson, Jacob. I wish I could take you to Barnes and Noble for a special treat, Jacob. We've spent a lot of hours there, haven't we? And they have been very pleasant hours. I love spending time with you, just talking, joking around, and enjoying each other's company. You are very special to me, I hope you know that. From the moment you entered this world, and remember I was there, I have felt a special connection with you. Your mom invited me into the delivery room and told me that I wasn't there when she was born because we adopted her, but she wanted me to be there when you were born. I loved when you were 2 and 3 and you knew the names of all the bones in your body. When you went to see the doctor you named all the bones for him and he was so impressed! Now you are 16 and probably thinking you are too old to hang out with grandma much longer. I want you to remember that I will always be here for you. All you have to do is call! I can't wait to see you at Christmas time! And I hope I don't embarass you when I close this with hugs, kisses, and love! Have a wonderful day! And yes, a card and some $$$ is in the mail. Spend wisely!


Tyndall AFB, Florida: Just an update on the current drama. The mail has been sent from Dayton to here, so I guess we just wait. And I called the bank and transferred money from savings to checking, so I can cover the cell phone even though it's totally wrong. My cell guy was off today, so will check him again tomorrow. Maybe we'll have answers then. Meanwhile, it's still a waiting game.


Tyndall AFB, Florida: Now what? Still no mail. There is something wrong there for sure. Still no Social Security check. There is something wrong there. The cell bill is $75 more than it should be and they will take that out of my account where no check has been deposited this month. There is something wrong here! Guess we'll be making phone calls for the next few hours trying to track everything down. At least the sun is shining.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Tyndall AFB, Florida: I had a hard time at first in church this morning. Usually on the First Sunday in Advent I am wearing a sweater, coat, and gloves, and I am carefully stepping around the snow piled at the edge of the parking lot, taking care not to slip on the ice as I go into church to hear about preparing for the coming of Christ. This morning we had the windows on the truck open and I had on a short sleeved shirt as we drove along the palm and flower lined streets on our way to church. It felt weird to sing "Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel" under these strange circumstances. But as the service continued on I was on comfortable ground. It was the same message I've heard during Advent for every single year of my life. As the pastor's welcoming words in the bulletin read: Hit a ball to someone, toss a piece of pizza his direction, or swing the boom across the boat, and you'll be shouting the same thing: HEADS UP! Two words that tell us to watch out and pay attention - or you'll miss something important. We use these words all the time. So does our Savior! Today He tells us "Heads Up." Something important and exciting is about to happen. We don't want to miss it!

The sermon was excellent. The Bible Study was awesome. The people were so kind and welcoming. As they describe themselves: Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church ~ we're ordinary people with an extra ordinary love. We felt right at home and will for sure make this our church home while we are here in Florida. (Hubby enjoyed the good refreshments and coffee......TWICE!)

And, of course we found an immediate connection. As we introduced ourselves to the pastor he asked if hubby had any relatives who used to serve a church in Nebraska. YUP! That would be hubby's brother! It's a small world.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Tyndall AFB, Florida: What is that white stuff on my feet? Is it snow? No, it can't be because the temperature is 77 degrees above zero. Oh, I must be sand on the beach!

(Yes, I know. I need a pedicure.)

Friday, November 24, 2006


Tyndall AFB, Florida: We made a quick trip to Orlando over the past two days. It was 385 miles down there and we spent exactly 32 hours there, then drove back this morning, but it was worth it. We had a wonderful time with Kari, Mike and gang, and with their friends that they traveled down here with. The day was spent at Animal Kingdom with about a million of our closest friends! When we were driving down there on Wednesday and sitting still on a freeway with 3 lanes going both directions, we should have realized that it was going to be crowded.

All the way down to Orlando I was thinking that I should be home in Minnesota, cleaning the house, baking pies, preparing turkey and all the trimmings, and getting ready for a house full of company on Thursday. We've traditionally had our meal in the evening so our kids could go to their in-laws at noon, so I always had the whole day on Thursday to prepare also. However, our Thanksgiving dinner was a bit different this year. Instead of dressing and potatoes for starch, we had a huge pretzle. Some cheese dip replaced the turkey, a large dill pickle shared with hubby was the relish tray, and a shared bowl of fruit was the salad. Our table was the lovely top on a yellow garbage can where we stood next to our beautiful granddaughters, Kjirsten and Katie as they had a similar dinner. (Oh, the top of the can was very clean! I saw workers come by every few minutes and spray and wipe down the outsides of the cans.) The sun was shining, temperature must have been in the 70's, the trees and flowers were in full bloom, and it was a glorious day. We have not been to Disney before, and I walked around in awe. How can they do these things, how can they make all the wonders, and who thinks of them all to begin with?

On this Thanksgiving Day we give thanks to God for our salvation, our faith, our church, our kids and grandkids, family and friends, good health, safe travels, and our country. Not many places in this world have it this good. We are very blessed.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Tyndall AFB, Florida: We spent a little time walking around our new neighborhood this afternoon and found that it's quite nice. We have a Bayou, a nature trail, and lots of trees and other plants. The place is surprisingly green....but then, we are used to November in Minnesota when green isn't the dominent color!

Today we also went to the airport to check on rental cars and to the commissary for a few groceries. When we got back to our site, hubby got online and reserved an ecomony car for us to pick up tomorrow morning and a motel room for Wednesday and Thursday nights. We are heading to Orlando tomorrow to meet up with Kari and Mike and gang. Our truck would cost much more to drive so we opted for a small rental car. He also reserved it for December when we are driving back to Minnesota for two weeks. I'm sure our cheap motel room won't compare with the fancy digs that the kids are in this week, but we just need a place to sleep. The rest of the time we plan to spend with them. I believe Animal Kingdom is on the schedule for Thursday. Then we'll head back up here early Friday morning and will check out the address of the church for Sunday morning. The kids will head back on Saturday I believe.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida: We made it! We are at Tyndall and have a parking spot for a month. Our site is about a blocks walk from this rec center where we have a wireless connection. It was already getting dark when we finished setting up the RV, so we don't really know what the area looks like. The map shows that we're only a short distance from the water, so we'll have to go for a walk first thing in the morning to see what things look like. It is cold down here though! I wore my fleece jacket to walk down here to the rec center. I did discover something quite interesting though. On the map of the camp that we were given it says "Just another day in paradise!" If you remember, I blogged that same motto this summer from Seldovia, Alaska! So our summer residence in Alaska, and our winter residence in Florida, both have the same motto. Aren't we lucky to be living in paradise year round?

Our plan is to connect up with Mike and Kari and family down in Orlando for a couple of days. It's over 300 miles down there, so it really necessitates our staying over. We found some real bargains on motels though, so it shouldn't be too expensive. Tomorrow we need to do some grocery shopping and aquainting ourselves with the area. And I'll post some pictures of our new neighborhood!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


WPAFB, Dayton, Ohio: We finally have good news of a sort. We weren't happy about the mail not being here and were discussing options. Hubby called the FAMCAMP (the campground at Tyndall AFB in Florida where we are heading) and the worker there at the office agreed to accept a general delivery package and hold it for us. Then he went back to the post office here and asked the postmaster if he could forward general delivery mail for us. He also agreed, and said he would personally watch for it for us. So, we are going to take off as soon as we get back to the RV and get everything secured and ready to roll.

I'm going to call Kari now and tell her we are on our way, and hopefully set up a time so we can meet them for a few hours at least. So, the sun is shining a little bit and things are looking better.


WPAFB, Dayton, Ohio: At least the sun is trying to shine. That's about the only thing to be happy about this morning. Our mail still hasn't arrived, and now we won't be able to pick it up until Monday. And with no mail, I still don't have a clue about my SS check. There is nothing to watch on TV; even FOX NEWS only has two topics today, TOMKAT's wedding and O.J.'s almost confession. Neither of those subjects interest me in the least!

Yesterday I did cut out the pieces for a quilt, and I have a couple of other projects ready to sew, so as long as we're waiting around some more I guess I'll set up the machine and start sewing. I was going to wait until we got to Florida and were set up more or less permanently, but I need something to do right now.

I talked to KT last night, but haven't heard anything this morning. She said they were just about out of Illinois last night, so they should be close to their destination by now. I'll give them a call soon and hopefully will find that they've arrived safely. When I talked to KT, the van was quiet. She said the little guys were watching a movie. She did say it was a long way!

So, another day at the base. I'll keep you informed.

Friday, November 17, 2006


WPAFB, Dayton, Ohio: Of course on the day I really was anxious to leave for Florida, our mail has decided to not show up. Check again tomorrow morning was the advice of the postmistress. So Kari and family will really beat us now as they left Minnesota this morning and are driving straight through. We can't leave until after checking the post office in the morning and they should already be there by then. Bummer.

I am also still waiting for the resolution of the missing Social Security check. We were hoping that they had for some reason mailed it instead of depositing it, but with no mail we can't find that out either.

I did laundry yesterday afternoon and washed a batch of flannel fat quarters that I've been saving for a quilt. I just may have to cut out the pieces this afternoon for something to do. I am tired of sitting here in the cold rain. The lack of sunshine is really what is bugging me so I am ready to move on. Stay tuned..........

Thursday, November 16, 2006


WPAFB, Dayton, Ohio: No, not back home in Minnesota, but back home in our RV. We picked up the Open Road yesterday afternoon at the Pilgrim International factory in Middlebury, Indiana, and it feels great to be back in it after only two nights in a motel. I love the tempur-pedic pad we put on our mattress! I can't believe how hard and uncomfortable the beds in the motel were, and how stiff and sore my neck and shoulders are after just those two nights. We headed right back south to the air base again, and are sitting here waiting to pick up our mail that we had sent general delivery to a small post office right off the base. It should be here tomorrow, and if it is we are leaving right away for Florida. Our daughter Kari and her family are also heading from Minnesota to Florida tomorrow and we plan to meet up with them for a day or so down there. We are going to the northwestern part of the state, by Tindall AFB, and they are aiming for the Disney area, but we should be able to drop the RV at a campspot and head down to see them. I hope so. I miss my kids and grandkids so much, and seeing one daughter out of the 7 kids, and 6 grandkids out of the 15 will hopefully hold me over until Christmas when we go back home to see them all.

I still haven't found out where my Social Security check is. I'm going to attempt to talk with someone at SS again this afternoon. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 13, 2006


Motel in Elkhart, Indiana: Okay, do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is, according to the Social Security person in charge, that my check is double what is normally is because of some back payment they owed me. The bad news is that my check has not been deposited, the bank hasn't seen it, my ready credit kicked in when I wrote a big check for groceries, and I'll never in a million years be able to get the same person at Social Security back on the phone. GRRRRRrrrrrrrr!

We have been to the factory and turned the RV in for repairs, so are living in a motel for a few days. We can't get online through the wireless at this motel without paying, but we are able to connect through the motel across the street! I checked my bank account and saw that my ready credit had kicked in and was wondering what was the problem. Then I saw that there was no deposit made last week when my Social Security check should have hit the automatic deposit. I called SS, listened to a bunch of instructions in both English and Spanish, entered my numbers, and listened to the phone try to solve my problem without me even talking to a real person. Well, this problem takes personal attention, I believe! Finally a voice told me that the waiting time for a real person was about 7 minutes and I could wait, or we could go back to the beginning and let the phone try to solve the problem again. I indicated that I would wait. While I was waiting I was given more information about Social Security than I ever wanted to know. That message was interrupted every so often by a male voice telling me that all operators were still busy but that they would get to me as soon as they could.

Finally, after more than 12 minutes, a tired voice asked me what my problem was. The poor woman sounded like she had been put through the wringer by more than one person today. I felt sorry for her, so I was extra nice and polite as I explained my problem. She asked me my number again, my name, my birthdate, my birthplace, and my mother's maiden name. After checking my records she claims my money was sent and I should check with my bank. It's not her fault. Good bye.

Now remember, I'm making these calls on a cell phone and standing in the motel window so I get more than one bar. So I dialed my bank back in Minnesota and got a very friendly gal on the phone. She checked and could see nothing but said she'd check the other departments and see if the holiday perhaps held it up. I will call her back on Wednesday to see if she was able to locate it. If not, I guess my ready credit will have to buy the groceries this month and I'll have to try Social Security again. I'm not looking forward to that!

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Dayton, Ohio, Wright Patterson Air Force Base: The past two days we have spent at the Air Force Museum here on the base in Dayton. There are many different areas, WW1, WW2, Korea, Nam, the Cold War, and the modern wars in the Gulf. There is also a section on space. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. In each different section I envisioned various relatives or friends flying in those planes, even if they weren't pilots. In the WW2 area I saw a couple of uncles and of course Jimmy Stewart. In Nam were many Air Force and school friends, and of course hubby, and they also appeared in the Cold War section. Then my thoughts switched to our son and others we know during the Gulf Wars area. I can't even imagine what hubby was thinking, especially when we were in the section where they displayed the missile he worked on during 2/3 of his Air Force career.

We also visited a hanger where they displayed a few of the presidential planes. It was very sobering to actually walk through the plane that carried President Kennedy to Dallas on that dark November day many years ago, and then carried his body back to Washington, along with the new President, Lyndon Johnson.

It was a very fitting time to visit the museums as it is Veterans Day. Thank you to the men and women who have protected us in the past and to those who are still protecting our country today. God bless you all.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Wright Patterson Air Force Base: Boy things have changed since hubby retired from the Air Force in 1982. They now have coffee shops with wireless access! At least Wright Pat does. We are sitting in the Starbucks, I'm having an Americano, and we are checking email and blogs. When we finish this we will head to the commissary and BX to do some grocery and whatever shopping. We have a campspot with electricity, water and sewer for only $18 a night which is good. Not great, but good. I think when we get to Florida and sign up for a month, it will average only $10 a night.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Walton, Kentucky: I just need to add a PS to my last blog. The gal who knew some of the same pastors as I knew had asked for my email address. She wanted to send me her in-laws web site because they are also full time RVers and she thought we'd enjoy their site and maybe connect up with them sometime. I received an email from her on Monday morning and she told me that she had talked to her dad and that he knew me. When I read his name I burst out laughing....yes I knew him! And imagine my surprise when she told me the name of the tutor she had for reading back in grade school. It was my dear friend JKW who I worked with at the college for the last 18 years, and who also retired in June. Amazing the connections we can find! This gal is a military wife, waiting here for her husband who is serving in Iraq. Our prayers will be with him, MW. It was so great to meet you!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Glendale, Kentucky: This morning we headed to a WELS church about 20 miles up the road. We had no idea where we would find it, so we left early enough so we could search around if necessary. We got to the town and saw a visitor information building so we pulled in so I could ask for directions. The place was closed (of course, people don't need information on Sunday, right?) so we turned around and were heading back to the highway. Then I spied it! Right across the road was a sign on a storefront stating Faith Lutheran Church. It was 10:05 and we had information that the service started at 10:30, but there were a lot of cars there already. We went in, and sure enough, they had already sung the first hymn. After the usher had someone move over one folding chair to make room for us, we sat down and for the next hour worshiped with these 60 or so strangers. I felt like I was in a room of friends. When you worship with folks who believe the same as you do, there are no strangers.

We attended the Bible Study after the service. We met the pastor and he explained that they had just changed the starting time from 10:30 to 10:00 and that information hadn't been published yet. Upon further talking with him, I discovered that he is good friends with JPZ! Hubby had gone fishing with JP's father up in Alaska in 1992 on our first trip up there. In the Bible Class we were discusing liturgy and people were commenting on little differences they had noticed in the traditions of different Lutheran churches, and one woman said she had come from the ELS and that such and such was done a little differently. That is our church synod, so after class ended I questioned her. Imagine my surprize to find out that the pastor who confirmed her out in Washington state is the pastor that married hubby and me, and that we knew other pastors in common also.

Yes, it's a small world. Especially in the world of WELS and ELS Lutherans.


Mammoth Cave National Park Campsite: After three days of cold rain, last Thursday dawned bright and sunny. Hubby stuck his head out the door and proclaimed it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. And it was. (Our neighborhood consisted of 111 campsites, 110 of them empty!) We wished we would have gone on the cave tour on Wednesday when it was raining so we wouldn't have had to waste 2 hours of this beautiful day, but since we didn't we would go this morning.

The cave tour was okay. It's not a very beautiful cave, but it is impressive because it's the longest cave in the world. Over 350 miles of passages have been explored. Our tour was 2 hours and listed as strenuous. Right inside the entrance we entered a deep shaft - 300 stairs seemingly straight down a narrow crooked shaft. We eventually arrived at the bottom of the steps and a comparatively level walkway. We scrambled across the boulders, 250 feet below the surface for the next hour. Fortunately getting back up was a much more gradual climb, but it was a good workout.

We emerged back into the sunshine and decided to go on a drive after lunch. Hubby ploted the route based on the name - Ugly Creek Road - and we checked with the ranger to make sure it was a good plan. She had never driven this road, but said she always had wanted to, so she enthusiastically gave us her blessing.

The first part of the ride was on a normal 2 lane highway through the golden leaves of the hardwood forest. Soon we came to a sign that read: Road ends in water 1 mile ahead! Sure enough - the road ends at a river where you drive unto a small ferry that is attached to cables which guide it to the other side. From there it was only a couple of miles until we turned onto a much narrower, but still paved, road that snaked along the hill, up and down and around, through the trees of every shade of gold, rust, bronze, and orange.

Then we came to a dirt road, single lane width with no shoulders. The trees grew very close to the road and the entire roadway was covered with leaves. Not much traffic had been through there lately On the left side there were park boundry signs posted on the trees every so often, but on the right side were crudely hand printed signs stating: POSTED or NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT. I wasn't going to disobey those warnings!

This narrow dirt road, not much larger than a hiking trail, proved to be just the place to spend a beautiful sunny afternoon. The steep hills with sharp 90 degree turns kept hubby on his toes, and we stopped several times so I could take pictures of the sun shining through the trees on the winding roadway ahead of us. On the top of one hill we came across a small graveyard and we stopped to look at some of the old tombstones. We found several graves of Civil War heros, and we wondered why the graveyard was so far away from any visible church. Then again, a church from over 150 years ago wouldn't necessarily still be standing.

At one point we crossed Ugly Creek on a small cement bridge which was not much more than just some cement poured over the rocks to make a solid spot to cross the creek. We passed an old crumbling shed in a small clearing and saw a sign pointing to another graveyard. Otherwise it was trees, trees, and more trees, with some of them on our right side still warning us to KEEP OUT. And we didn't touch one leaf on that side!

All too soon our adventure was over and we arrived back to the highway where we would shortly take the ferry back across the river. We concluded our day with a roaring campfire and warmed over chili for supper. Yes, it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

PS: We missed you, mom! You would have loved this adventure.

PPS: The Echo Trail looks like a super highway compared to this road, Molly!

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Glendale, Kentucky: I want to wish a happy birthday to a dear daughter-in-law, Thea. Thea is married to our second son, Chuck. She has beautiful red hair, as does their precious son, Nicolas. She is a wonderful wife and mother and we thank God that Chuck brought her into our family. Thea is loyal and honest, and stubbornly passionate about things she strongly believes in, all wonderful qualities. She is also a lot of fun, and she spends quality and quantity time with Nicolas, and is one of the best mothers that I know. Thea has many talents also, one of them cardmaking. I have saved all the cards she has made for us over the years, and treasure them greatly.

Thea, you are an asset to our family and a real blessing to our son. I pray you have a wonderful birthday and many, many more to come. Happy Birthday!