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Never had a chance to get this little junket to Maine recorded, so I'd better do it before it gets too late.
Junket and pictures behind the cut )
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So now that the die is cast, the deed is done and the cat is out of the bag, I can share a few details about my relationship with the wonderful, amazing, gently insane and thoroughly awesome ToniAnne. (For those of you who missed the official announcement on at the Couch of Confusion, you can see it here)

This is a long post, with images. If you comment, you'll get the whole enchilada.
Goodies behind the cut. )
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ComicCon in San Diego was only part of my exodus. There was much, much more during the week prior, and in the time that wrapped around.

More pix and stuff and nonsense behind the cut )
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Getting ready to take off for California this afternoon - I head for San Francisco, ETA Monday AM, then a week in Sonoma, helping some amazing teenagers discover their inherent greatness.

After hopefully seeing some friends & family in the bay area on Monday, will then wend my way down to San Diego the next day for a Thursday visit to SDCC 2009. If you have questions or want to reach me, you can send short text messages (140 chars) to 8016523423@vtext.com. If anyone (above and beyond the ones I already know about) who is anywhere close to my route is itching to get together for some haggis or Mogg knows what else, ping me.
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Flickr photojournal of my summer adventure on the farm, as well as sights seen to and from. This is a representative sample of the pictures that were taken. Some of the farm shots are courtesy of Mark Stanley.

This took a while to do, but I promised. Enjoy!
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Made it home safe and sound, in one piece. Very grateful for safe travel. Had a nice dinner with my son and his wife this evening - they invited me for a belated birthday dinner and provided all the fixin's, and I helped with the grilling. Steaks were delicious with some Épice Bifteck Montréal...

Very tired tonight - I'll work on getting my pix up in an album somewhere tomorrow, as I get things sorted around.

Stopped at historic Fort Bridger on the way home, it was fascinating - I had never been there.


Last night's sunset


Commanding Officer's Quarters
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Just stopped for a hasty dinner of seraphim and cherubim outside of Galatin, Missouri - I drove through Liberty where I visited the site of the old Liberty Jail where Joseph Smith was imprisoned,


Liberty Jail Reconstruction on original foundation

followed by a visit to Adam-Ondi-Ahman, which to me is one of the most peaceful, sacred places on earth. It's the second time I've had the chance to visit the site - today it was very thunderstormy but still delightful to be there:


Interesting Cloud formations


Adam-Ondi-Ahman Valley Overlook

These are not my best composites but I don't have access to my stitcher on the road. They will have to suffice.

A little farther down the road toward Omaha tonite, until I feel like I've done enough.

Kathy made me laugh when she came back from Hawaii and described the natives at a Luau as saying they don't eat until they're full... they eat until they're tired. Sounds like my kind of people!
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On the Woad again
Just can't wait to put on the Woad again
The life I've Pict is tending sheepen for my friends
But I just can't wait to put on the Woad again...


Left Gap Mills today around 2, amidst the most mixed of feelings. Much done, so much left to do and undone because time ran out. But there's always another time. Now my family awaits me in Salt Lake, and I hope to get back before my Daughter takes off to parts far, far South on a grand adventure of her own. I pray for her safety - she wants to wend her way down into Central or South America, and I will send her blessings of Godspeed.

Many, many thanks to all my friends for the warm Birthday greetings - I shall find some appropriate means of celebrating. I have many trinkets and gifts coming home with me, so I feel not at all neglected as I travel through the beautiful countryside.

Life is good. If I were any better, I'd have to be twins.

Saga's End

Jun. 14th, 2009 04:14 pm
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The farm experience tapers off gracefully to a close. There may be a few more days, or not - remains to be discussed with the folks when they get back. I write this as I'm sitting in Charleston airport, waiting for their flight from Chicago - and I hope they had a wonderful time.

By the holy skull of Mogg's grandmother, I have stayed healthy. I completed my list of things on the farm that I wanted to accomplish this morning, just before leaving for the airport. There's enough left to keep a farmhand busy for two years, but I got the biggest rocks out of the way.

Finished the basement last night about midnight. Shovel, hoe, rake, hose, wet-dry vac - all were used in abundance to bring the place back to some semblance of normalcy. This morning I posted The Old Wolf's 10 Commandments above the door, one of which read "Thou shalt nevermore allow the basement to become the Abomination of Desolation, such that when the farmhand hath finished cleaning it, he must needs go shovel manure as a Pleasant Diversion." I still wouldn't want to eat off the floor, but at least going down there is not like a descent into Bolgia 10. And a check mark for Saturday.

Chatted with several good friends on the drive down to Charleston - makes the time go a lot faster. One blessed angel sent some See's candy to the farm to help overcome the stress of chasing sheep and being constantly assailed by - to put it charitably - an elderly lady who's just a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. And it did the trick nicely, too.

Today is the last day of my 58th year on this backwater planet in an obscure arm of the galaxy. I was reflecting just the other day that I now have a clear memory of half a century's worth of triumphs, tragedies and progress. All it makes me think as I review the incredible developments I have been privileged to witness is, "What will my granddaughters see in their lifetimes? Unimaginable things."

Life is good. If I were any better, I'd have to be twins.
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The animals need to be fed morning, noon and night. If you're not there, they go hungry. Feel like sleeping in? Hungry animals. Feel like taking a day off? Hungry animals. I don't know how full-time farmers do it.

Hats off to those who grow our food.

Got the lamb with the broken leg in to the vet yesterday to get his cast off. He's got some pretty mean cast sores on his leg, so the vet dressed the wounds, put a bandage on and told me to keep him clean and dry for a couple of days and then bring him in again. Repaired a gate on a shed area and turned it into a lamb hospital - cleanest and driest place on the farm I could think of. Hope the little guy does well.

Partly cloudy and some sprinkles in the Cove today, but that helps keep the heat down. It's starting to warm up. Taking care of the farm would be easier if I weren't also "taking care" of the farm wife's mom - nice lady, but a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. I answer lots of the same questions over, and over, and over... But we get along just fine. Ever see Guarding Tess? "Yes Ma'am". "Yes Ma'am". "Yes Ma'am". Works like a charm.
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The farm day is done. The laundry - lots of it, all covered with mud and other unmentionables, is humming.

This morning I saw Mark and Angela Stanley off, and by now they should be back home. Better people do not exist. I greatly appreciated Mark's engineering expertise, his facility as a sheepdog (go! go!), his wicked sense of humor, encyclopedic knowledge, and his willingness to work - as well as his mindboggling generosity. Angela enjoyed taking care of Misha, the bottle-baby lamb, and helping in any other way she could. She is a gentle soul and supremely giving.

The last 11 days have been a joy, and I'm most sorry to see them go. We parted with a lovely breakfast at the Kalico Kitchen in Union, and then I was able to take advantage of the library's wireless to get caught up on some things.

Agatha, or sick sheep,has reached the end of the line. After reporting to the farmer, she decided it was time to have her put down, as she has been having difficulty for years. Frank, a good neighbor, will come over and take care of it tomorrow for us.

Honey, the killer chihuahua, danced with a baby possum tonight. I wanted to get a picture of it, but by the time I got back with my camera, the beastie had escaped. It was so cute...

Along with four other dogs, Kathy and Scott own a rescued border collie named Princess. With a little training, she would be a first-class sheepdog - she has all the right instincts. This evening I walked the dogs in a light drizzle up to the upper pasture looking for the sheep which had not come down by themselves. They were scattered all over. I simply told Princess, "Round them up! Take them home!" And she did just that. She got them all into a cluster, rounded up the strays, and sent them down the path toward the house. Good dog. Good dog.

Later I came back and drove the perimeter looking for the cows, but saw no trace - saw all 5 plus the calf yesterday at noon, so at that point all was well. Hope they show tomorrow.

The weather has been wet for the last two days. Sun is predicted for tomorrow - I hope they're right. It's Farmer's Day in Union, and I'm hoping they have good weather for their big parade and all the festivities. I'm not sure if I'm going in or not, but I think I probably will - and then I need to take my car into a shop in Lewisburg and have the oil changed.

A good day draws to a close with peepers and bullfrogs singing in the pond, and fireflies dancing in the dark.
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The last three days have been a blur.

Daily chores include walking, chasing down and feeding five dogs; bottle feeding 1 calf and 1 sheep 3 times a day; feeding chickens and 1 satanic pigeon, collecting an egg or two if there are any (last two days there haven't been, don't know if she's not laying or has found a different place to hide her eggs); letting sheep into the pasture in the morning and bringing them back at night (Mark is an excellent sheep dog); feeding the neighbor's horses once a day; caring for three caged birds; feeding wild birds; checking 5 cows for any new births (none so far); doing what repairs the weather will permit (it rains often and without warning); and handling any emergencies.

Monday night while hunting for cows we came across a sheep that couldn't stand. It took two days for the vet to get out to the farm, so we basically had to bring her down from the upper hayfield in a jeep, find her a comfortable spot in the shade, and bring her food and water as she would accept it. The vet says she's ancient, has a dislocated shoulder and probably a brain abscess. He gave her an antibiotic shot and told us to keep her comfortable. She may get better, and she may not. Yesterday she wouldn't eat or drink, but today she takes water and will eat grain and hay. She still can't stand on her own - only time will tell. I hope she recovers, but I wonder what one does with a dead sheep... I mentioned our lamb with a cast, he looked at it and said it might need to be removed earlier than thought. Also mentioned a lot of the sheep seemed to have footrot (a lot of them are limping) and recommended penicillin for them. Kathy puts this green copper solution on their feet but by the holy skull of Mogg's grandmother, I'll be dipped if I know how she catches them to do it.

Sheep are surprisingly smart when they want to be. The more I'm around them, the more I see that for "dumb" animals, they can be inventive and devious.

Our biggest challenge is the horses Kathy is boarding for a "friend". Her fences are not designed for horses, and they seem to be able to go anywhere they want in spite of our best efforts to keep them in the fields around the house. The foal seems to have a small cut on its foot above the hoof, which may have come from getting over, under or through fences, but it doesn't look serious. I do worry because there's nothing we have done that has been able to contain them, but they keep coming back so I know they know their way around. I can't remember if I mentioned that one of them bit me the other day - we were trying to work in the carport where there's a mitre saw, and I was trying to shoo her out of the way. She whipped around like lightning and nipped my shoulder. No damage, but her speed surprised me. She lost a goodwill point for that one.

Mark and Angela have to head home on Saturday. They are the best people, having them here has been an absolute joy, and I shall miss their company.

It's difficult to get online here with all that's going on. I'm amazed Kathy manages to get a comic out three times a week with all the work there is to do. Large kudos to her.

More as circumstances permit.
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Up early to feed the beasties so we could make it to Church on time. Brutal thunderstorm at 2:50 last night, but by the time we got out, the rain had passed. Grateful for small blessings.

Animals cared for and meetings in White Sulphur Springs very enjoyable, especially since my friends were able to attend with me. After meetings we had lunch at Carlito's in Lewisburg, ate a beef quesadilla and a tamale, and way too many chips with salsa groan belch groan.

Back home where we isolated and repaired all remaining leaks in the bath house, but found the commode cracked - it will need to be replaced. Reassembled bath house

Note to farm wife:

Drain the effing lines before October this year




Took dogs for a walk. No cows to be seen. Lose giant Dog From Hell. Return to farm, feed remaining dogs, return to look for giant Dog from Hell. Find giant Dog from Hell, 5 cows and 1 calf. No new arrivals.

All animals fed, and safely tucked away for the night. Much work to be done tomorrow.
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1) Dialup = pain. Makes it hard to keep up with friends' pages and comments, let alone read graphic-intesive webcomics. Yarg Enough said.

2) Lots of rain this week. Much mud to squelch through.

3) Had a delicious beef roast tonight. It's the first time I ever ate someone with whom I was on a first-name basis. Here's to Vicky of blessed memory!

It's good to be here. Friends: Even if I can't comment on your offerings as much as I would like, I think of you kindly.
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... not to mention eating way the Hqiz too much.

But then, what are road trips for if not to enjoy the gastronomical delights along the way?

Met [livejournal.com profile] coyoty at Tinker's in Hartford for lunch - the food was supreme. He has posted some pictures of the event here.

A couple of others:


Broiled Scallops


Coyoty examines the Toonfish

Left Hartford at about 2:00, expecting to arrive in Malaga, NJ around 7:00. My previous post mentions the hideous traffic I encountered, which resulted in my getting to LionKing's house around 8:30 instead. He gave me the grand tour of his property - two acres of beautiful, wooded land, and a very comfortable homestead. I envy him the comfort of his domain. We sat around the fire which was cheerily warming his back yard, surrounded by tiki torches, until it got dark, and then headed down the road to Cap'n Cat's, a wonderful local fish bar.

I ate clams on the half shell and crab legs - groan belch groan - but that was nothing to the mass quantities that LionKing consumed - 5,000 shrimp and at least 1,000 clams. Well, it sure looked like that.

After dinner we enjoyed the fire for a while longer before retiring - I was given a comfortable room decorated with many lions, and ended the day grateful for friends.


Giant Clams on the half-shell: $3.50


Snow crab cluster


LionKing CMSL eats a zillion steamed clams


A shy Lion
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The days are just packed. I had a delightful visit with my Aunt in Portland - we went to a Thai restaurant and I ate far, far too well. She gave me one of her paintings to take home with me - she's quite an accomplished artist, and has traveled the world extensively in the diplomatic area during her life. It was so nice to see her.

Stopped again in Kennebunk on the way down, did some hunting in the Hope graveyard for a FindAGrave request, and had success. Waved at a friend as I drove past.

Was planning on hooking up with Darc and Gyr of Code Name Hunter fame, but logistical concerns prevented the meetup, but had a nice chat with Matt on the phone. He recommended the No Name restaurant in Boston, and I decided to give it a try. The traffic into the city around 4:00 PM was - as usual - abominable, but I made the most of the time by listening to good things in the car. So when I got to Boston, I got scrod.



It came with buttered garlic toast (two pieces are already missing in the picture) - fries, and a coleslaw that was heavy on the veggies and light on the sauce, unlike the waste that you get served at KFC. The fish was fresh and tasty, the service fast, and the prices extremely reasonable. I give the place 5 stars for honest food with no pretention. Thanks for the recommendation, Gyr!

I teetered out of the restaurant, groaning and belching as is my wont, and headed south for Hartford where I will meet up with Coyoty tomorrow for lunch. Stopped in Newton on the way and took in Angels and Demons, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Although it's a pretty dark story, and we won't say anything about the physics, it's a good ride. And for my money, entirely respectful of Catholicism. The Vatican did well to simply ignore this film, so as to give the media sharks less chum to feed on.

Got into Hartford at 1:00 AM, and found that my Motel 6 had been sold to some other chain, who doesn't keep the same standards - but still better than that abomination in Toledo. It was (relatively) clean, and the room didn't smell bad. The first room they offered me was right next to a drunken party full of the most abominable pigs I have seen - they should be charged to re-do the room when they leave - so I requested another room far, far away from the ruckus.
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Well. Now that I have that load of bile off my chest, I can continue my Eastern journey. It was a beautiful day for driving, and I drove to Patterson, NY to the former location of Le Robinson, a 1950's vacation retreat, where I dined with my brother in the park - a pleasant lunch under a tree on a perfect day. I don't see him very often, so it was nice to reconnect.

After our lunch, I drove down the road to the Patterson Baptist Church, where I was able to find a couple of gravestones which had been requested on FindAGrave.com, and take the requisite photographs. Passing through Connecticut, I stopped in at my High School in Cheshire for a rest break - it's always interesting to visit the campus - and then continued toward Portland.

In the evening I passed through Kennebunk, where an individual whom I honor resides... oh, these New England villages. Almost all of them look like they fell out of a Thomas Kinkaid book - picturesque clapboard homes, carefully-groomed roundabouts, high-steepled churches, ancient cemeteries, cozy town squares and eclectic shops... Beautiful and restful.

Trundled on to Portland, where I shall luncheon tomorrow with my Aunt, and where I turned in for the night. Once again Motel 6 has repaired their reputation - as I indicated, our experience in Toledo was a fluke. We did hear back from their customer relations department, and they apologized profusely and promised to investigate the situation there.

And now, go to bed!
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Took off from Harrisburg this morning and drove to Philly, where we viewed Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. It was amazing to put my hand on bricks that may have been touched by the signers of our nation's founding documents. We feasted upon Philly cheese steaks in the shadow of the statue to Admiral Barry, in the park behind the sacred building, and then headed for New York.

We drove into the city around 2:30 - it was uncanny how little traffic there was on the freeway between Pennsylvania and the city - just when we hit the Lincoln Tunnel did things get a bit congested, but no real slowdown.

Note to self: Stop paying tax dollars to support the interstate highway system. In the East, you're going to get charged again. And again. And again. And the roads will still be abominable. by Mogg's tufted tail, I feel like I spent more on tolls from Chicago to NYC than it cost me in total gasoline expenses from Salt Lake. Yarg. Snarl. Snap.

I got WolfCubIII settled in his residence and we headed down to the Village to dine at Piccolo Angolo, on the corner of Hudson and Jane street. Note to friends: next time you come to the Big Apple, treat yourself to the finest Italian eats in the city. CubIII had an Osso Buco large enough to choke a walrus, but tender enough to melt in your mouth - along with a cannelone in Bolognese sauce. My own self asked for something light, and they brought me a fish - about 16 inches long, and falling off the plate - along with a plate of spaghettini with clams. And of course, the obligatory appetizer, which was a delectably tender polenta with wild mushrooms. groan Belch groan

It has taken me the entire evening to stop feeling like I was about to burst. But what can you do? You can't insult family...

Tomorrow I leave my son to take care of his business matters, and head for Portland to visit my mom's baby sister (a spry 87). On the way, I'll have lunch with my brother who lives in upstate NY, and on the way back down I regret I will have to pick and choose which of my friends and relatives I'll have time to visit. A couple are already locked in... You can't have too many friends, but regretfully one can have too little time... Still, I'm hoping to connect with as many as possible. There's one in particular that I'm keeping my fingers crossed about.

It's late - I'll try to get some more pix up in a day or so.
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An all-too-brief visit to the battlefields of Gettysburg today left me feeling wistful for a number of reasons. The year I spent at Gettysburg College in 1969 was significant for a number of reasons, and interestingly enough I found myself passing through Chambersburg, PA 40 years to the day from my official entrance into my chosen faith in that town.

This was the first time I had taken the opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside - as a young student, I had no transportation and not much brain in my head at the time. This visit was different.

So many people died in the most brutal of ways... each group fighting for causes they felt were just and noble. As I contemplated Lincoln's address with my son, we wondered if the 16th president would be pleased or saddened by what our country has become in the intervening 140-odd years, and we decided it would probably be a mixture of both.

The Gettysburg Diorama was an interesting presentation - sound and light, with some illumination effects in the diorama itself, such as cannonfire and glowing campfires at night. It was moving and impressive. In my heart I honored the dead of both sides who had hallowed those rolling fields with their blood, knowing that with every footstep I probably was walking where a corpse had lain.

As twilight fell, we moved on and found a comfortable place to stay in Harrisburg, before visiting Philadelphia in the morning tomorrow.

I need to get back to Gettysburg again and stay longer this time... but I was glad to have had the chance for even a quick visit.


Monument


Battlefields


Diorama
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Honest Weight! No Springs!

But if you ever get to Toledo, never, never stay at the Motel 6 there. Oh, Maumee, pat my bum! I've had uniformly good experiences with Motel 6 all across the country, but this place needs to be burned to the ground, and if I were the franchisor, I would pull my name off this abomination of desolation in a heartbeat. Filthy, uncleaned bathrooms, rooms smelling like wet rats and mold - by the silken breast of Mogg's mother, may I die a thousand deaths before I have to stay in this hellhole.

Now let me tell you how I really feel...

Got settled in another motel down the street which seemed luxurious by comparison.

Other than this temporary descent into madness, the day was good. We stopped for lunch at a Red Lobster and got positively stuffed. That meal held us all the way to midnight, when we got settled in Toledo. We should get to Gettysburg around 1:00 tomorrow, Mogg willing.

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