Catching up: Busy days and friendship through the years….


It’s been a few weeks—nearly a month—since my last post, and I must confess that I really have no good reason to have avoided writing something in that span of time. Suffice it to say, however, that it has been a busy month with appointments, grandsons’ basketball games, getting the Thanksgiving together and the Christmas lights up and working. (Still can’t figure out those light timers!)

A splendid sunrise over the first snowstorm in late November
A splendid sunrise over the first snowstorm in late November

On top of that, we’ve had weather to contend with. About a week ago, we were hit by one of those early snowfalls that dumped nearly a half a foot of snow in most of northern Illinois.

Of course it would come in at the exact moment that my son and I were setting out for a five-hour drive to southern Illinois for our annual pheasant hunt with my good friend and his son.

Driving was slow-going for the first few hours, but the farther south we got, the snow dwindled, replaced by rain. By the time we got to my friend’s house, it was just cold, damp, and clear of any snow. We had a great couple of days there (we always do!) and the return trip home wasn’t bad at all.

About that friend…

Steve and I became long-lasting friends a long time ago, in late-summer 1973, when we both happened to be walking in the door of a small, rural school in south central Illinois at the same time, to begin our first days of teaching careers. Although we had never met before, there seemed to be a sort of instant bonding, since we were both in the same boat and were strangers in new and unfamiliar territory.

Steve was from way down in southern Illinois, a product of Southern Illinois University; I was from the western suburbs of Chicago and a recent graduate of Kent State out in Ohio. To say that it was good to meet someone in the same situation as I right off the bat, would be an understatement. And from that first “walking-in-the-door” meet up, we both tended to do things together, as we wound our way through those first hours, days, weeks, and months as teachers and coaches.

I soon discovered that Steve was an avid hunter and fisherman, two things I had never really done much of, other than a few forays out into the woods with my dad when I was too young to tote a gun. But I was soon invited to join Steve and a few other teachers for opening day of dove season.

That experience is one of those that gets etched in one’s memory! The recently harvested corn fields were drenched in golden sunshine, and the friendly chat among our little group did something that erased all the doubt I’d had about taking a job so far from familiar things. Perhaps for the first time, I really felt included (although I wasn’t a very good shot!), and the day turned out to be much, much more than killing birds. To this day, I cherish that late-afternoon we tramped through those shorn fields, waiting for the doves to come in, getting to know those other guys, and sharing things about my life with them.

My friend Steve
My friend Steve

Being single, Steve and I were pretty free to march to our own drummers. He and I would hunt and fish many times in the years that followed, and summers would find us playing fast pitch softball for a country tavern out in the boonies.

When I finally got married a couple of years later, things obviously changed–except for the friendship! That has remained. When an opportunity to move north came about a couple of years after I married, Carolyn and I took a chance on it, especially since she was from there. Although I spent most of my career there as a result, I really never forgot my beginnings down there in the small town or that very first dove hunt.

Since then, every November’s been a regular routine to travel on down for a day of pheasant hunting with my good friend Steve. We sometimes kid each other about what would have happened had we not been nervously walking into the school, at the same time, all those years ago. I suppose it was just one of those timely strokes of good fortune that we did.

Homer Hickam, an alligator, and an inexplicable rooster…

I’m not much of a reviewer of books, movies, TV shows, or other current things, but I feel impelled to spend a few words in this post about the latest book by Homer Hickam, best known for his classic Rocket Boys (October Sky). This latest work is titled Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator. It’s published by Harper Collins.

UnknownThe story is about his parents—Homer and Elsie—living life in Coalwood, West Virginia, that setting we got to know well in Rocket Boys. But young Elsie is not all that thrilled with her situation there, and longs for the joyous, carefree days she’d spent after high school with Uncle Aubrey in Orlando, Florida, and her relationship with Buddy Ebsen, he of future acting fame.

But once the future Jed Clampett and Davy Crockett sidekick took off for New York, Elsie made her way back to the dreariness of Coalwood and settled in as Homer’s wife, never quite giving up on her “what-might-have-been” line of thinking, especially when a wedding gift of a baby alligator arrives from dear, old Buddy!

As one could imagine, the unusual pet could provide many a strained moment in their relationship, and Homer told Elsie that she would have to choose between him or the alligator. Put on the spot, Elsie figured that it would be best to “carry” her beloved pet—her gift from Buddy—back home to Florida. And so begins the epic journey that is full of strange twists and characters.

John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway figure in the journey, as does a rooster, whose purpose is not really understood. There are run-ins with bootleggers, bank robbers, and others trying to survive the throes of the Great Depression.

Through it all, there is heartbreak and sadness, but there are also wonderful spots in the tale that make us laugh, typical of Homer Hickam’s novels. All of this, woven in and around a moving tale, allows the reader to come away with a better understanding of life “back in the day.” And there is a sense that young Homer gained an even greater insight into his parents’ relationship which he wrote about earlier in his other Coalwood books.

Homer and me at Anderson’s Bookstore. Alas, neither Albert nor the rooster could attend!

Homer and Elsie make their journey and reconcile many things along the way and afterwards as they shared over sixty years of married life together. One cannot help but wonder how much of this family legend is true. The author himself summed it up very nicely the other night, when I had the opportunity to attend his book signing: “Everything is true, except for the parts that aren’t, and even they’re true!”

I like Homer Hickam, and I like his writing. Order Carrying Albert Home and enjoy a wonderful story and see for yourself why it’s receiving excellent reviews and winning literary awards. And, perhaps, you’ll be able to figure out why the rooster is on the journey!

Stowing the travel bags and shaving kit…

Way out here in Colorado, the Rockies begin to rise up behind me!

After a few awkward moments, my MacBook and I have become reacquainted  with one another and have agreed to spend more time together each morning from now on! Seems as though it’s been a long time between posts, having been on the road since the beginning of the month, and I have been way too remiss in writing anything.

In fact, I kind of feel as though I’m a stranger in my own house and feeling my way along to re-learn the lay of the land as it were. But the good news is, the travel bags and shaving kit are now completely unpacked and stowed away, and life as I know it can return to a sense of normalcy once more.

Three weeks ago tomorrow, we set out on the first leg of our mile-collecting journey to Omaha, Nebraska, and then on to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Every October, Carolyn joins her niece, a breast cancer survivor, for the Race for the Cure cancer walk in Omaha. It’s a very special annual event for the both of them, and one that is vitally important to one and all who don the pink and smile and walk or jog or run.

After the walk, we spent a couple of days there in Husker land before hitting the road once more for the long drive to Colorado to visit my younger sister and her husband, who moved to that part of the country a year ago and opened a business.

Getting there by car is quite long and tedious, until Denver. Then, everything changes. Before that, though, most of the time and miles are spent passing vast open spaces of the Nebraska countryside full of feedlots and corn fields and evidence of rugged plains living.

Later, after a gas-up and lunch near Ogallala, there is the long and lonely endless stretch of sparsely populated plains of eastern Colorado that seem to go on forever. After long hours of these desolate miles, Denver crops up on the horizon, the faint outline of the Rockies beyond. And the tedium begins to change to something quite different—spectacular, in fact.

Rolling along, surrounded by tall spruce and golden aspens!

The desolation has given way to the Rockies, laden with millions of tall green spruce and aspens that are now sporting their golden autumn wardrobes. Thus, the two-and-a-half hour drive from Denver to Glenwood Springs passes quickly with nothing but scenic glory and splendor unfolding with each passing mile. My only regret now is that, while driving, I have to pay attention to the steep and winding grades—up and down—instead of admiring the beauty that is set out all around us. As dull and inspiring as the early part of the journey was, this, on the other hand, is a true spectacle to behold!

Once at my sister’s in Glenwood Springs, the time flies right on by, and it seems that our visit is over and time for us to reverse course and make the drive back to home, stopping in Omaha for the night.

And as good as it all was, it’s even better to be back home, relishing the memories of those wonders of God’s creation that we had the good fortune to see up close and personal for a few days. One thing is certain: We definitely want to make a return trip out there.

A great way to start the day…

Like most everyone else, I’m a creature of habit, particularly in this world of retirement. Once I find something I enjoy, I prefer to stick with it. One such “something” is a Web site called Interesting Literature, which I’ve been reading for a couple of years.

The good folks at the site provide a Daily Digest of literary facts, that are, indeed, interesting and fun to read. And I look forward to reading their posts first thing each morning as I habitually open Mail with my first cup of coffee at hand.

(Photo: Wikipedia)
(Photo: Wikipedia)

The other morning, the post was “Five Fascinating Facts about William McGonagall,” a Scottish poet I’d never heard of previously. Thanks to their post, however, I’ll not soon forget the guy!

I learned that William McGonagall (1825-1902) is widely considered to be the worst poet in the English language, a rather dubious “honor” for one to have hung on him. And, of course, my curiosity was whetted and I had to know why this was so.

One of the reasons, according to the Digest, is that at one point McGonagall had a job doing poetry readings in a circus. That in itself is rather curious, but the real kicker is that he would earn fifteen shillings a night as long as he agreed that the crowd could throw eggs, stale food, and other assorted goodies at him. Like so many other people, it seems he was more than willing to allow this, all in the name of money.

This first fact was more than enough for me to begin to realize that this poet was probably a wonderful candidate for the title of “worst poet” that eventually was hung on him. Yet, the other four items about him are equally as intriguing and well worth the curious reader to look into. I won’t spoil the rest of the post, instead I will encourage interested readers to check out the complete post at

Happy reading!

“I’ll be back!”

One of the best things about working in this thing called the “blogosphere” is the ability to respond and comment on other’s posts. And I enjoy doing so frequently, as well as having others post their comments on my own offerings here at Down Many Roads.
English: Mid Devon : Country Roads Countryside...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something strange, however, occurred a few weeks ago when I noticed that the comments I was leaving on those blogs I enjoy and follow were not showing up, even though all appeared to be working correctly. My first thought was that my comments were being blocked—for whatever reason—but that seemed strange since it was happening on ALL blogs.

After Googling to see if others were having the same issues, I realized that I wasn’t alone with this glitch. At first, I thought it might have been some setting that I had inadvertently triggered, causing comments not to go through. But I couldn’t find any such setting that would do that. I finally contacted support at something called Akismet, some part of Word Press. I had some timely responses and directions to try some things that might resolve the problem. I was impressed with the quickness and sincerity of their responses, even when the first several suggestions didn’t work.

With frustration mounting (I hate it when things don’t work and my not knowing why!), I sent another email indicating that I appreciated their efforts thus far, but that I was growing more and more concerned as to what the problem was—and if it could be fixed! I’m happy to say that within a day of that E-mail, I received a reply that I should once again try posting some comments as “it should all work now!”

I cynically mumbled, “Yeah, right,” but figured I had nothing to lose so tried it once again. To my amazement, he was right! Comments I wrote popped into view immediately, and they’ve been functioning correctly ever since. I’m not sure what the deal was, or why it occurred, but I’m happy that the good folks at Akismet got it right! Thanks.

So if any bloggers who have seen me offering my two-cents worth from time to time these last few years and perhaps wondered where I had been, it was one of those things over which I had no control. But, in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I’ll be back!”

Terminator (character)
Terminator (character) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m looking forward, eagerly, to catching up on reading those wonderful blog posts and sharing my thoughts once again.

Have a good week, all…

Birthday meatloaf and all those memories…

It’s another glorious day here in beautiful northern Illinois, and I have to force myself to stay inside and work on this post. I did get my brisk twenty-minute walk in earlier and am ready to put forth the proper effort to post this today. However, I’m going to need a stretch of rainy days soon in order to get the necessary motivation to move along on the writing! Be that as it may, today is a special one.

Jackson-the birthday boy!
Jackson-the birthday boy!

It is the 10th birthday of our first grandson, Jackson, and we had the opportunity to have him here after school yesterday and to enjoy one of Grandma Carolyn’s famous meatloaf dinners. He and brother Matt did quite a number on the delicious morsel, so today’s lunch offerings for me will be rather slim.

I clearly recall the morning Jack was born ten Septembers ago. I was just getting my first period 6th graders started on a language arts lesson when the office buzzed me to tell me I had an important phone call. Sensing that something very important was about to be imparted to me, the students became unusually silent—waiting for me to convey the news we’d all been eagerly anticipating.

As soon as my son said, “Dad, you’re a grandpa of a little boy, named Jackson Joshua,” I stood up from my chair and my smile and excited expression were all the students needed to know that the waiting was over. They spontaneously burst into shouts and clapping, and didn’t even make fun of me for the tear or two (or more!) that trickled down my cheeks at this important moment in my life.

“Who does he look like?” I asked.

“Winston Churchill,” my good son replied.

I suppose that was a pretty good description, since most newborns tend to be wrinkled and squinty and like cigars!

From that moment on, these ten years have swiftly flown by, and they’re seemingly speeding up all the more. We have enjoyed so many wonderful moments with this kid, and anticipate making more memories as the days, weeks, months, and years continue to grind away at breakneck speed.

Jack arrived at the perfect time, too. That was the fall the White Sox won the World Series, and I was only a short span away from retirement. To this day, I call him my good luck charm, despite recent on-the-field ineptness by our favorite baseball team. As for the retirement part, it’s been all good and getting better every day.

Typing this now, I think of the fun Jack must be having at school right now. He’s all smiles and laughter and making sure everyone around him is having a good time. He’s basking in the glow of being 10 and milking everything he can from this special day. Go ahead, Jack, it’s YOUR day!

Grandson number two, Matthew, will celebrate eight years in January, so we can do it all over again. Grandma Carolyn will probably be “conned” into preparing another meatloaf dinner, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s easy when you truly love these little guys the way we do.

Matthew William
Matthew William

Life’s Good: A place to come home to…

Regular and familiar routines are good, even though they’re good to leave behind every now and then. For example, our summers away at the cottage on the lake in Michigan allow us to get beyond the daily tasks and habits we fall into here at home during the rest of the year. Of course, during those few summer months away, we establish another set of routines, but they’re only for a short while.

Our deck...another wonderful part of home!
Our deck…another wonderful part of home!

Along about the end of August, after the last of the company has come and gone, and the sun’s shadows begin to take on different slants, and the summer heat has begun to change—ever-so-slightly—to autumn’s coolness, I begin to look forward to returning to those “home” habits once again.

By Labor Day Weekend, most of the cottage “stuff” is packed away and the boat is scheduled to be picked up by the marina folks very soon. Out will come the pier, to be stacked on the landing alongside the lake at the foot of the steps leading down from the cottage.

It is a real challenge to enjoy any kind of pleasure cruising on those final days, with the lake being thick with watercraft of all types, their drivers burning fuel before winter storage, pulling tubes full of screaming kids in the throes of last-gasps of summer fun. Wave runners and jet skis and kayaks and those stand-up paddle boarders also add to the “everyone-get-out-on-the-lake-at-the-same-time” adventure!

At this point, I’m definitely ready to bid adieu to summer’s routine and get the car loaded with anything that needs to go home (laundry!) and roll on out to the highway, back to the familiar routines that await.

Back home, the first few days are full of opening the various suitcases and duffel bags and trying to find room for the clothes therein. It’s also a time where the sound track of our lives is the washer and dryer running non-stop!

By mid-week, the bags are back in the basement, the laundry is up to date, and the various other lake “gadgets” are in their winter places. And at this point, my thoughts shift to the home routines which were so good to leave for a few months: lawn mowing, garbage/recycling, picking up the grandsons from school three days a week, and getting serious about writing regularly once more.

Now, I find it very good to be back to our little spot out here in the country, tucked in among the tall corn and thick bean fields that are nearing harvest very soon. It’s wonderful to work on this blog post from my comfortable and familiar writing desk, in my writing room, with wonderful Wi-Fi once again, and my bookcases full of “friends” all along one wall.

I even relished the day spent yesterday, of lawn mowing and weed whacking and edging. Laughing with neighbors and carrying on as neighbors do was all good as well. I have missed this!

Yep, there’s lots to be said about getting away from the everyday routines, but there’s even more, I believe, that can be said about coming home once again. It is a wonderful feeling knowing there’s a place in which to come home. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Life’s good!

Captain of my own craft and other late-summer musings…

Resting and waiting for the day to begin--the days of summer winding down!
Resting and waiting for the day to begin–the days of summer winding down!

Up early, the coffee is going, the morning is dawning, and the plan is to uncover the pontoon and start it up for the first time in over two weeks. The weather forecast is calling for warmer temperatures in the 70s—before next week’s string of HOT temperatures near 90!

I suppose I could devote the majority of this post to the weird weather patterns we’ve experienced around here lately, but suffice it to say that I credit the cooler, autumn-like weather these past few days and nights to a Canadian front that seems to have enjoyed hanging around. Would I rather have 90s? No, never! I’ll gladly don the sweatshirt and windbreaker during these lovely days and throw an extra blanket on the bed at night. So today, before the scheduled rain arrives overnight, I am going to be the captain of my own craft…play on the water!

After all, there won’t be too many more days to do so this summer, with our time here rapidly winding down. Although the official closing date is Sunday, September 13, the boat is scheduled to be picked up by the marina guys on the Thursday prior to that (two weeks from yesterday). And, aside from all of the relaxation that comes with plying the waters of this magical lake, there is the need to begin some basic cleaning and emptying of the boat of items that will not be needed any more—extra life jackets, tubing tow line, tools, etc.

Notice those poles sticking up to which the boat is attached? Those are the infamous auger poles that provide so much fun on closing weekend!

And what happens after our boat is gone? Well, that’s when the real “fun” of closing up begins. There are four 7-foot steel auger poles with the mooring lines attached to each that must be taken out. The process seems awfully simple, yet they cannot just be pulled out. Instead, they must be screwed out of the lake bed, something that certainly provides one (me!) a good cardio and upper body workout for the time it takes to get the stubborn things removed. The mooring lines, after they’ve been removed, will hang in the cottage to dry completely over the winter. The poles will be stored under the pier parts that will be stacked on the landing beside the lake down below the cottage.

The dismantling of the pier will take place on Saturday, September 12, and it’s not a bad job at all, thanks to my son and his friend who will come up for the day to provide the critical labor, along with my crucial supervision and advisory position! After that is finished, we’ll spend the rest of the day watching college football and having a few “bracers” on the cottage porch. My small TV and its HD antenna will be accessible, despite the remainder of the cottage being pretty well closed up and ready for the winter.

By this time, the wife will be comfortably home and back to “civilian” life, and I’ll merely have to attend to the typical odds and ends that are a part of closing weekend. I never really look forward to closing the place, mainly, because to do it correctly, I need to get started a couple of weeks in advance. And who wants to get motivated to do that?

Well, that’s exactly what I did yesterday, pulling all of the outside solar lights, removing their batteries, cleaning them, and putting them in the boxes and bags where they’ll be easily located next spring. Not an arduous job, just time consuming. So today’s agenda calls for all things pontoon and time out on the lake.

Now, as I write these closing thoughts (pardon the pun!), the morning sun is lighting up our little corner of the lake, promising that fine day the weather folks have called for. At this glorious time of the year, let this Friday be a good one! See you on the water…

Back to school and memories of my own beginning…

IMG_0818Back from the lake cottage for a few days this week, I’ve been busy catching up on various domestic duties and chores. The lawn was mowed two days ago, was fertilized yesterday, and my office/writing room desk and book shelves and cabinets have been thoroughly “weeded out” and dusted. I’ve even found some time to plan out my next steps of getting back into a serious daily writing routine in the weeks ahead, after “Lake Season” ends on September 14, that is.

On an early morning jaunt to the bank this morning, not far from the Northern Illinois University campus, I couldn’t help but notice the number of college-age students seemingly everywhere. And after I stopped by for a quick visit to Wal-Mart, my suspicions were confirmed: It’s time for students to move in to begin classes for another school year!

In most of the young people I observed this morning, there seemed to be a happy glide in their stride—pep in their step—as they scoured the shelves for various items needed to get their new digs set up and in working order. There’s always something about the beginning of a new year that makes one feel pretty good. Oh, that the same spirited feelings could last a whole school year long!

Witnessing this annual student ritual, I set the Wayback Machine (Thanks, Mr. Peabody!) and shot back to late-August of 1968 where I was entering the world of college for the first time at Kent State.

allynMom and Dad had driven me from our home in Illinois and had pretty much gotten me all squared away in my dorm room, with two other roommates. And then it was off to the bookstore for the humbling experience of buying books at such exorbitant prices, a ritual that I never will forget.

I still can picture my dad, his pipe clenched between his teeth, helping me lug the large shopping bags laden with all of the required textbooks for freshmen classes. I still have the big, heavy dictionary—Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language: College Edition—on the corner of my desk where I write this now. It’s rather startling to realize how many miles the thing has travelled along with me: All of my years  at Kent (5); my classrooms all the years I taught (35); and years now in retirement (8).duboisstore04

As I recall, that move-in day so long ago was both exciting and scary. Yes, I was thrilled to finally be getting started on the next level of my life, pretty far from home though it was. To meet people who became friends was an important part of it, just as much as earning a degree eventually would be.

Experiences—good and not so good—would also factor into my life at KSU which were all beginning on that warm day in ’68. The day was scary in that my parents would be pulling away and driving home to Illinois, leaving me to trust myself to make good decisions and do the right thing when it mattered. I would basically be able to do whatever I—myself—chose to do, when I wanted to. I wasn’t sure I could operate under such a state of constant temptation, and that frightened me.

In retrospect, things turned out fine, but there were moments along the way where I was anything but trustworthy and doing the right thing. Call it all part of the growing up at that particular time of my life. I suppose there’s a blog post or two about some of those less-than-trustworthy moments at dear old KSU sometime down the road.

And today, watching these young folks going about their various tasks to begin their own quests to become the fine, mature, and productive citizens they’ll become later on, I couldn’t help but smile and be glad that it’s them—not me—going through all of this all over again. Once was enough!

Now, it was time to get back to those “catching-up” chores…IMG_0817

It’s getting late…

Samnangerfjorden a late summer evening. Seen f...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s getting late. Summer is fleeting. The slant of the sun—morning and late afternoon—seems to be at different angles now. Fewer and fewer residents are up here at the lake during the week, vacations having run out. Nights are cooler, calling for sweatshirts more often. The dark comes much sooner in the evening—and it’s dark, almost immediately!

But the real indicator that lake season is in its homestretch for another summer is our grandsons were here these last four days before they have to start school on the 14th. And the last two summers, they were barely up here to spend much time with us at all, their busy lives busier than ever with so much other stuff besides Grandma and Poppy.

Matt and Grandma working on ice cream cones.
Jack with another spoonful of chocolate goodness!

Even so, what a wonderful four days it was, having them both without Mom and Dad! Whether it was splashing and rough-housing around in the lake for hours or challenging Grandma and Poppy to crucial games of Aggravation or Apples to Apples, or enjoying a summer evening visit to Frosty Boy for ice cream, it is what summer, with those we love, should always be.

There was even time chiseled out of our busy days for “down time”—reading or doing “nothing” quietly. And it’s amazing how they both seemed willing—almost eager—to open up to Grandma and Poppy about the upcoming school year: teachers, activities, friends. Often’s the case that getting any kind of information out of either one of them is as tough as extracting the Kremlin’s secrets.

Capping off our time together was a day spent at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village over in Dearborn, Michigan, a two-and-a-half hour journey from the cottage. It was something that Grandma and I had been planning for most of the summer, and it all came together on one very gorgeous summer’s imagesday.

Originally, we’d planned to make the trip over on Monday, but watching the weather forecast call for storms for most of that day made our decision to move the trip to Tuesday mostly a no-brainer. As it turned out, the skies were the bluest blue, full of fluffy clouds, gliding along way up there on lovely, gentle breezes. Temperatures eased into the low-80s, without much humidity whatsoever. How could we not have the wonderful time we did!

I had visited Greenfield Village once before, back in 1968 when a senior in high school. I always remembered how impressed I had been at the time with the Thomas Edison workshops there, and I made sure I re-visited that part of the Village. I think I was able to convey my excitement about such exhibits to my two grandsons, even though they were more enthused with the OscaUnknownr Meyer Weinermobile on display in the Henry Ford Museum!

Upstairs at Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laborat...
Upstairs at Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory (removed to Greenfield Village) Note the organ against the back wall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Throughout the course of the day, we rode in an authentic Model-T, and later climbed aboard the Greenfield Village train, pulled by steam engine fueled by good old coal.

We paid a visit to the Wright Brothers’ Bicycle Shop, where they did most of the work on their famous Flyer, and also stopped by their house (with the neat porch that wraps around the front). This was even more special since I recently finished reading David McCullough’s book about the Wrights.

Before we realized it, the day had given way to late afternoon and approaching closing time. Weary from a day of walking, the boys and I were content to find a bench and wait for Grandma to finish her assault on the Village Gift Store.

Finally, once she re-joined us, two large shopping bags laden with who-knows-what, all of us were ready for the not-too-far trek to the parking lot to begin our drive back to the cottage, with a stop somewhere in between for dinner, of course.

Getting back just after 9:30, we found it quite easy to call it a day—a very fine day, indeed—and there was nary a problem for any of us to fall asleep. Turning off the cottage lights and closing up, I realized that Carolyn would be taking them home in the morning, and it would be just me—alone—here all over again.

As I write this now, I cannot help but keep returning to that wonderful day the four of us shared yesterday. No cares, no worries, no frowns! Just Grandma, Poppy, and two wonderful little boys who will one day be grown up and off on other things important in their lives besides spending time with us. Realizing this, I’m saddened at the thought. Am I getting old? Scary thoughts abound. At any rate, I suppose we’d better enjoy these moments while we can. And so it’s these times I cherish and will always hold dear. Thank you, Jack and Matt and Grandma…