Bellbottom Blog

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Archive for the tag “vacation”

In Other News

While the debates are going on, I thought it would be a good time to bring the blog up to date.

I haven’t written anything for a while because my wife recently had shoulder surgery and I have been on full-time nursing duty.

Tomorrow will be three weeks since she had the operation.   I am happy to report that the patient is recovering well.

Going into it, we didn’t ask too many questions about the procedure.  The doctor smoothly assured us it would be a couple of small holes and the bad stuff would be removed.

Sounds simple.

While the nurse was prepping my wife for surgery, we asked about pain medication for afterward. She wanted something mild.  The nurse looked at her and said, ” Oh no. You want the good stuff. Except for back surgery, nothing is more painful than shoulder surgery.”

Nice time to find that out.

They sent us home with a prescription for very strong pain pills and an ice machine.

You fill this thing that looks like a regular cooler with ice and water.  It is connected to a cooling pad that fits on the shoulder. When it gets plugged in, a cold stream of ice water flows through the pad.  The trick is you have to refill it every couple of hours. That first night, I set the alarm to go off every two hours for ice and pain meds.

Well, we survived the night and fortunately the pain became manageable after that.  We found out that the recovery time for this will be several weeks.  Which stinks.  But it does give us time together that we haven’t had. I don’t recommend surgery as a way to find more family time. Just saying it has been a nice side effect.

Well, the debate is wrapping up and I am allowed to rejoin my wife.  (She says I have a habit of talking to the tv and she finds it distracting.) Also, I am a Democrat and she is a Republican.  But I am sure the talking thing is the big problem.

Until next time, you kids be nice to each other.



The Lake

When I was a young child, there were a few years that my family would take a vacation for two weeks and go to the lake.

We rented a place on a small lake in northeastern Indiana.  There are several lakes in that region.  The one we picked wasn’t very big.  Not a lot of skiers and speedboats.  So the noise was at a minimum.

It was a two story cottage.  Green, if I remember right.   Very steep steps from the front led to the small yard and the dock.

My mom and dad always invited mom’s dad and mom along with two of our cousins.  This was before my youngest brother came along so there were six of us.

Dad was a mailman and in the early sixties he didn’t make a lot of money.  Still they found a way to get us up there every summer.

I  remember piling into our Plymouth station wagon (the car of choice for Catholics back then) and taking what I thought was a very long trip.  Until I became old enough to drive on my own, these were the longest trips I would be on.  It seemed like forever to get there.  The actual trip only took a little over 2 hours on two lane roads.

That car was stuffed with fishing gear, clothes, a cooler, and other assorted things.

When we would get there, every one went to the water’s edge first, before unpacking.  There was and is  something about the smell of lake water that was almost magical to a city boy like me. I am convinced that food tastes better near the water.

The days were filled with wading around and exploring the area with my cousin.

My grandparents provided most of the entertainment.

By this time they had been married over forty years.  They loved each other very much.  They could also push each others buttons pretty well.

Grandpa liked to fish with two poles.  A rod and reel which he always kept in his hand and a fly rod which he put at the opposite end of the boat.  We are not talking about a large boat here.  Picture a rowboat.  Just a regular size rowboat.  That was what we were in.  Dad, Grandpa and me.  To check on his flyrod line, Grandpa would have to get up and try to walk around the boat.  Dad was always shifting himself around so we wouldn’t tip over.

Grandma would yell from the shore, “Sit down, Harry!”

“Awww, be quiet. You’re scaring the fish,” Grandpa would shout back.

In all the years we fished like that, he never tipped the boat over or lost the pole.  I am sure Grandma would take all the credit for it.  Thanks to her vigilance, we stayed afloat.

The middle weekend of the vacation, we would invite Mom’s side of the family one day and Dad’s the next.  Every inch of that property was full of  kids.  It was great.  Looking back, I am impressed that they would do that.  It was quite a mob scene.

Dad would also invite some of his friends from work.  Mailmen, then and now, have rotating days off. One week, they are off on a Monday, so the next week, Tuesday..when Friday would come up in the rotation, they got Friday and Saturday both.  The following week, they would work the whole week and then the rotation would start over again.

So, people would drop in here and there during the week.

I should mention that even though we went up there  every year, I never learned to swim.  I didn’t care for it.  Still don’t.

One day though, I was walking on the edge of the dock doing a little fishing when I took an extra step.  Next thing I know I am on my back under a lot of water and having a tough time finding my way back up. That water I was so fond of was filling me up fast.

A hand appeared and grabbed mine, pulling me up to the surface.  One of my Dad’s friends from work had brought his son and daughter with him. She was the one who saw me and saved my life.

Thanks, Sue.

I only saw her once after that.  I thanked her again.  She just brushed it off, but the look on her face showed how proud she was to have that on her resume.

You would think that might get me to learn how to swim.  Nope. The lake had its chance and missed.

With the exception of that incident, I remember those trips fondly.

Lots of laughter.  Lots of fishing.  Lots of memories.




Weekend Potpourri

Sorry about the length of time between posts.  It has just been too damn hot to think.  Not that much of that goes on here at the Bellbottom Blog.

How was the Fourth where you were at?  We watched the different fireworks shows on TV instead of going out, because of the aforementioned heat.

When I was a youngster, we lived in a two-story house with a small back porch on the second floor.  On the Fourth, we could go out on that rickety thing and watch the fireworks display.  We were about two miles away, so the low ones were not easy to see.  But the large ones could be seen very well.

My favorite tweet about the holiday went something like this,(I didn’t write it, but I can’t find who did)

” People who set off fireworks on the fifth have a favorite wrestler.”

With the drought conditions in my state, we didn’t have to deal with too many neighbors setting off fireworks.  Almost all of the counties have a burn ban in place and the ban extended to personal fireworks as well.

In other news, @chancerubbage pointed out something interesting about the big soda ban debate.  I am sure you have heard about the tiny Mayor of New York wanting to limit all soda cups to 16 oz.  @chancerubbage did some research and found that if you buy a 32 oz. cup of pop, it contains at least 16 oz. of ice.   Makes the argument kind of pointless, doesn’t it? So, a 16 oz. cup would be 8 oz. of pop.  And would still cost $1.79, I imagine.

(Note to self, you really have to learn the art of linking names to their blog or Twitter account)

(I know you promised these people low-tech, but come on.)

In celebrity news, Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine died this week.

Everybody has taken a shot at what Mayberry meant to them.  My favorite character was Otis , the town drunk. Floyd the barber gave me the creeps.  I liked it well enough.  Barney’s speech about bud-nippin’ has always held a special place in my heart.

Barney: “Andy, you ask any expert on child raising and they will tell you they are in favor of bud-nippin’. Gotta nip it…”

Andy:”…in the bud.”

McHale’s Navy was completely different.  Kinda loud.  Usually funny, at least before they transferred to Germany. In the Pacific, they always sunk the same two submarines.  Over and over.  Tim Conway and Joe Flynn were the best part of the show.

I would talk about Tom and Katie but it makes @debihen sad so I won’t.

Did I mention how hot it has been?

We are so glad our vacation happened just before someone turned the heat up.

Ringo Starr turned 72 this week.  72.  He is the last person who still flashes the peace sign everywhere he goes.  Which makes him the Bellbottom Blog’s favorite drummer.  Because of how we end each post.



P.S. I promised not to write about politics here, but I find my resolve weakening.  If any of you wants to hear the rantings of a guy who has followed politics all of his life, let me know.  I might do just one to get it out of my system.  I could make another blog like some do, but let’s face it, I am barely able to do this one right.






Grandma and Me and Grandson Makes Three: Wichita

Bright and early Friday morning, the three of us reluctantly left the hotel in Oklahoma to head for Wichita, Ks and the family reunion. The red dirt of Oklahoma fading into the brown dirt of Kansas.   The drive up I-35 was more of the same for our Grandson, happy for a while, then rapidly deteriorating into crying.

I can’t really blame him.  I used to be the same way about visiting the in-laws. (kidding) (not really)

The last time my mother-in-law and I met it ended in a shouting match with her declaring that, “I had ruined her family by marrying into it.” To be fair, it was hot that day and by standing up to her, I had ruined her vision of how the family should behave. But, four years later, it was time to see her and we were bringing  the GreatGrandson.  If I could just lob him into the living room ahead of me everything should work out.

Thanks to TomTom we found the house.  A ranch style home in an older part of the city.

My sister-in-law, followed closely by my mother-in-law, approached the car.  I had taken the Grandson out of his car seat and held him a little like a shield until I could determine how everyone was going to behave.

The worrying was for naught.  Hugs were everywhere. Bringing a cute infant really makes a difference.  Everyone wants to hold him.  The next level of spoiling is underway.

One of the things we had to re-learn as grandparents was how to baby-proof a room.  Block the wall sockets.  Move the breakables to a higher ground.

My mother-in-law had not really thought of that.

Her place, as with every place she has ever owned, was full of breakables.  Picture frames.  Tea cup sets.  Glass miniatures. Lots of bric-a-brac. (That last one was a test to see who is reading this. It will be an exercise in restraint for one of you to refrain from commenting.)

It would have been impossible to hide everything, so the game turned into “No, Honey, Don’t Touch That.”  For the next few days. Fortunately, we were staying at a hotel, so there was some time to let him roam and not be constantly worried about the favorite thing being shattered beyond repair.

After lunch at Braum’s…hmmm..I bet most of you don’t know what that is.  Ok, Braum’s is a restaurant in that area of the country which has the best hamburgers and shakes found anywhere.  They are regional so the quality is kept at a high level. And they also have a small bakery/grocery area in which you can buy their milk and incredible cinnamon rolls.  If there is one food  I know very well,  it is the cheeseburger.  Trust me on this if you find yourself traveling around OK or KS, please try a Braum’s cheeseburger.  They are Bellbottom Blog approved.

So, after lunch, we took our stuff to the hotel and unloaded the car.  Cleaning out two days of thrown snacks.  Futile searches for missing pacifiers.  Just as we got finished, the call came that the Great-Great Grandma and her daughter had arrived at the house.

So off we went.  Back to the House of Breakables. ( HOB from here on.)

The weather in Kansas over our stay ranged from hot to very hot.  As a native of Indiana, we have a different type of heat.  It can be a little humid, but the worst part is when the wind doesn’t blow.  It is like wearing a tracksuit through a carwash.  The heat clings to you. In Kansas, there is always a constant breeze, not as persistent as in Oklahoma, but a breeze nonetheless.

We arrived back at the HOB and got the same type of greeting as before.  A lot of teasing about who is a Great as opposed to the Great Great .  The reality of our aging being dealt with through humor. We are ages ranging from 49 to 90 with a fifteen month old child in  our midst.

Sometime during this round, the subject of what to do tomorrow comes up.  It is decided that the zoo would be fun.

You have to understand that these folks always like to go somewhere. Nevermind that we all just drove hundreds of miles to get where we were.  They wanted to see a zoo with the Grandson.

My wife had come up with a strategy before we got there.  We were going to just agree with everything possible and take things as they came.  So with that in mind, we agreed to the zoo and went back to the hotel for the night.

In the hotel, there was a partition in the room separating the living room area from the bedroom.  We set up the crib in the living area and put him in it with his monkey and blanket.

Moving quickly, we slid into bed and heard from the other area, “Ahhh”.  We looked at each other and shrugged, “Ahhh,” we replied.  He started laughing.  After catching his breath, he said,”Ahhh” again, this time giggling in anticipation of our response.  This went on for about five minutes or so, until sleep overtook him. We did this every night. It is safe to say we will never forget those moments with him.  So simple. So memorable.  So funny. So sweet.

Next day finds us back at the HOB, half an hour late, expecting a group of impatient people waiting for us.

One glimpse at the driveway relieved us of any worry.  The visitors from SW Oklahoma were getting around a little late.

I will spare you the agony of wondering about what happened.  We never made it to the zoo. Making the plan was more important than implementing it.  So my wife’s strategy paid off.  Go along and see what happens.

The next day found us driving out of Wichita to find a Mexican restaurant.  The Wichita City Guide says their fair city has 1000 restaurants.  My mother-in-law insisted none of them had good Mexican food and since Great-Great Grandma had requested Mexican food, off we went.  You can’t say no to a Great Great.  It just isn’t done. We put the Grandson next to the Great Great and they had a blast.  She wasn’t able to hold him at the HOB, but in a high chair things went swimmingly.

My mother-in-law and her sister have a shopping problem.  They like it. A lot.  Especially at Goodwill. The Goodwill store just happened to be next to the Mexican restaurant.  On the theory that one can never have enough knick knacks, we found ourselves wandering through the store.  Many more breakables were bought along with a few things for the Grandson, mainly clothes but some toys as well.

Later that day it was time to say goodbye to the visitors from SW Oklahoma.  Leaving just my mother-in-law and sister-in-law plus the three of us.

The smaller numbers made it possible for us to go to the finished basement which was about 60 degrees cooler than the upstairs.  There were still a rather large amount of breakables, but it was manageable.

We spent the remainder of our trip looking over old photos, playing with the Grandson, going to yet another Goodwill store, watching Duck Dynasty.  Lord, is that funny. (That is not an official Bellbottom Blog endorsement. We have a high standard here. But it was funny.)

Finally, the day to leave was upon us.  Many tears were shed.  It had been four years since we were all together.  No definite plan for the next time. Our grandson had found his way into a few more hearts.

In front of was a long drive back to Indiana with a child who wasn’t ready for long drives yet, but we had no choice. The routine remained the same. Two hours driving intervals interrupted by Grandson breaks.  We were hoping to get past St. Louis that day and then we would see how he was doing.  Well, he made it to the middle of Illinois when we had to stop one last time.  We filled the tank, gave him a bottle and, miracle of miracles, he fell asleep for the rest of the ride.

This is where the Blues Brothers reference from the first part of the story comes in.  No stopping for anything as long as he stayed asleep

Our little road warrior made it from Wichita to Indy in one day.

We are glad to have had the experience with him and there will be a day when his Grandma and I bore him with our tale of the big road trip he took with us.

Thanks for reading.


Grandma and Me and Grandson Makes Three

Elwood:  “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we are wearing sunglasses.”

Jake: “Hit it!”

That exchange is from the Blues Brothers movie of course.  Elwood and Jake are going to the Cook County Assessors office in Chicago to deliver the five grand necessary to keep the orphanage open.

I will refer back to this later in the post.  Until then..

Here is the story of our trip out west.  Just the three of us mentioned in the title went on this journey.

Now, in preparation for the trip, you would think not much would be required as far as luggage and such.  After all, it was only for a week and a 15 month old child has very small clothing.  If you really think that, you should pay particular attention to this next bit.

We were driving a mid-size sedan with a nice size trunk. Lots of storage.

Grandma and I packed a regular size suitcase for us and an overnight bag for the one day stops.  Should leave plenty of room, right?


You could not be more wrong.

Small children need a lot of stuff.  For example, a small suitcase, diaper bag, bag with favorite toys including the ones he can’t go to sleep without, a foldup crib in case the hotel doesn’t have one, a bag with snacks, and a cooler with juice for those thirsty moments that occur just after the “Next Rest Stop 54 Miles” sign.

That is just the packing part.

Before we loaded up the car, we had contacted the various relatives and let them know our travel plans.

First day, Joplin, Mo.

Second and third day, SW Oklahoma to visit the Great Great Grandma and my wife’s Aunt and Uncle. SW Oklahoma also has some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire state, so we were hoping to take some pictures while we were there.

After that, we were going to loop back to Wichita, Ks. for my wife’s Mom and then after a couple of days, head for home.

My in-laws took the announcing of our plans as something that was subject to change. By them.After a few calls, we agreed on meeting the whole group in Wichita two days after leaving Indiana.

There was just one little problem, my wife is from Oklahoma and had not been there for over three years.  She missed the place and was looking forward to going back.

We decided to drive to Oklahoma City the second day and stay overnight, then proceed to Wichita.  All in all, about a 2000 mile round trip.

With that settled, we left bright and early on a Wednesday morning, car filled with the all the things I mentioned in the earlier part of this post.

We had some concerns about how well the young one would travel. The first two hours flew by.  He was talking and singing and happy to be there.  Snacks and drinks were consumed. This is going very well, we thought.

But that was not going to last as we found out.  After two hours, he decided that crying was a good way to spend his time.  Not just gentle sobbing but loud shrieks that said, “Can’t you people hear me?  I want out. NOW!”

This began a pattern of behavior  that we followed for the rest of the trip.

As soon as we stopped, he was fine.  We walked around. He had just started walking about a week before. He has that kind of walk drunks have at this point.  He knows that a straight line is the easiest way to get somewhere. It just isn’t always feasible.

When we got back in everything was fine until it wasn’t. Every two hours.

There was a point where we had to decide : go on or turn back.  Like the pioneers of old, we kept on going.  Over the Mississippi River through southern Missouri and finally Joplin.  Sweet, beautiful Joplin. All three of us were happy to stop there for the night.

The last travel hurdle for the first day was whether or not he would be able to sleep in an unfamiliar setting.

We are proud to report that our Grandson handled that like a pro.

Next day, a much shorter trip going to OKC.  Same two hour schedule. But we got to show our Grandson one of the great wonders of the world.  On the Will Rogers Turnpike, there is a big rest stop that has a huge McDonalds set of arches.  The restaurant is on the second floor. Pictures of Will Rogers abound. I am unsure how he would feel about politicians putting his name on a toll road.

While a lot of the country is suffering from drought-like conditions, Oklahoma and Kansas were very green.  The corn seemed to be ahead of schedule. It made the drive very nice. My wife was taking a lot of pictures. We were trying to make the most of our limited time in Oklahoma.

We arrived in OKC at a much more reasonable time of day with a slightly happier child.

After some Mexican food and watching the Thunder lose to the Heat, we settled in for another sound night of sleep.

Tomorrow, we were going to see the family and they were going to get their first look at our little traveling companion.


I can see  this is going to take a lot longer than I thought so let’s leave it here for now.

Next time: Wichita

Vacation News

I have had great fun following Ken’s trip to Texas and Amy’s trips to Florida and NYC.

I am aware of all the difficulty involved with those trips.

However, I believe I have one that has the potential to top all of those as far as degree of difficulty goes.

Mt wife and I are taking a trip by car to Oklahoma in the next couple of days.  Doesn’t sound too tough you say?

Well, get a load of this!

We are taking our 1 year 3 month old grandchild with us.  That’s right!

King Kong ain’t got nothing on us! (Sorry,got carried away.)

I can’t guarantee how this is going to go, but I will have a post about it when we are done.

With all the stuff you have to take for a young one, I don’t think there will be room for the computer, so no posts from the road.

Maybe some tweets.  Maybe some pics.

That is something to look forward to, right?

So for the next week, please send some kind thoughts our way for clear weather and a calm child.

See ya in a week.



Going West

My wife, as I might have mentioned, is a native Oklahoman.

When we were first married and she wanted to go visit, I usually stayed home. I wasn’t a big fan of that kind of traveling. Driving for about 18 hours, fueled by pop and all kinds of junk food.  With two young kids.

I didn’t think that would be a relaxing time and I thought vacations should be for relaxing. Plus we would be staying at various in-laws. Which is always uncomfortable no matter how nice the folks are.

The first time we went to that part of the country it was for a job interview in Abilene, Texas.

Abilene is a looooong way from Indiana.

Our daughter was in school, so it was just my wife and I and our very young son.

As we made our way through the panhandle of Oklahoma to my sister-in-law’s house in Texas, a snow storm came up out of nowhere. Drifting snow was making some of the roads a little tricky.  Finally we got to their house and after a few hours of sleep, we moved on toward Abilene.  Our son staying behind.

The road to Abilene was my first experience driving in Texas.

There were two things I wanted to see:  tumbleweeds and the Canadian River.

The tumbleweeds thing was just to tease my wife.  So, every so often, I would start singing about the Tumbling Tumbleweeds. I am a lot of fun in a car as you can probably tell.  But we drove for hours and no tumbleweeds. Disappointed.

But I was sure the river would make up for it.

See, I had watched all those old westerns with the cattle drive always having to find a safe place to cross because of all the water. My mom was a big John Wayne fan. Red River. She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. It was going to be great.

Except that….this part of Texas was suffering through a drought.

The Canadian was a trickle. The other rivers we drove over were the same. No water.

I felt cheated.

No water and no tumbleweeds.  And halfway there no radio stations either.  I had never been in the middle of nowhere, but I can tell you when you get there, you have to bring your own tunes.

The views along the way were amazing. You could see for miles.Over an unforgiving prairie. With a relentless wind. I know I have said this before but I really had a hard time believing there was a place where the wind blew all day and all night. ALL day and ALL night. EVERY day and EVERY night.

Also, on this road, you would go through towns that had managed to hold together and even prosper while others were failing at an alarming rate.

Soon (six hours later) we were in  Abilene, Texas. We had two days to interview for the job offer and look around for a possible house to purchase if things went well. The interview went very well. The people we met were very friendly. Even though my wife kept apologizing for bringing a Yankee down there. I didn’t realize people used that expression until we met a builder who said he had built a home for a Yankee once.

We looked at several houses on our last day in the city. I was surprised that most of them didn’t have any gutters or rain spouts. It didn’t rain often enough to go through the expense of putting gutters up.

The grass in the lawns had a gnarly, twisty consistency to it. It is good for that region because it can lay dormant for long periods.

I was walking around looking at all of these different things looking  just like, well, a Yankee.

The real estate agent had some good news.  The local Wal-Mart was going to be a 24-hour one. The peculiar thing about Abilene was everything closed up around 10:00.  I mean everything.

And the strangest thing of all was when 11:30 rolled around, I tried to find David Letterman’s show. They didn’t carry him on the CBS affiliate there. Too radical, I suppose.

Well, needless to say, we didn’t wind up in Abilene. When we got back to Fort Wayne, a job offer equal to the one in Texas came to us and we took it.

The main thing that happened was I lost all of my reasons for not wanting to travel. We enjoyed it despite the long hours of driving. The scenery was amazing and….

I finally saw a tumbleweed.




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