So how’s by you? All good on the home front?
Or more succinctly, is your home still intact and sitting on roughly the same patch of land it was just a few months ago? I certainly hope so.
Since we last interacted, Mother Nature has unleashed her fury all over the globe with boiling hot temperatures, dangerous wildfires, and biblical-like flooding. For some it’s been a particularly difficult summer.
I’d come right out and say that this all because of global warming and rising greenhouse gas emissions, but the governor of my home state of Florida instituted a ban on state workers using such terms. It may also extend to retirement bloggers too, I’m not really sure.
A pity too because the good folk who live in stunning Sarasota and other nearby Gulf cities have been suffering from toxic algal blooms known as “red tide” on their coastlines. Dead fish and other creatures from the ocean have washed up on their beaches, stinking up the cities and scaring away tourists who like to pump the local economy with dollars. I suspect its likely that the residents there might point to climate change as the primary reason for their troubles. But, hey, what do I know? I’m not a scientist, or so goes the escape-hatch expression for not taking responsibility.
Wherever you may live, though, I do hope that you and yours not only survived the summer but enjoyed it with nary a sunburn nor a mosquito bite.
For our part, the missus and I each took separate trips this summer in a “divide and conquer” strategy to see family and friends. Gorgeous flew first to Michigan and then to Chicago during June and July, while I visited Michigan in late August.
I enjoyed a mini-reunion with two of my three sisters, an increasingly rare occurrence for my family in recent years, plus a wonderful visit with an aging uncle and two cousins. I sat next to Uncle Bob during a dinner out, and it didn’t take long before we were both behaving like adolescents and trading inappropriate jokes about family members no longer with us. They say one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but I discovered that at 88 years old Bob is using his position as patriarch for blissful mischief rather than correctitude.
As musician Sly Stone once suggested, “You see, it’s in the blood…”
Not in the blood, however, is any sense of adventure or daring passed down to me by my forbears. For instance, I’ve always equated “roughing it” as staying at a hotel without a coffee shop, or perhaps being forced to go commando for a few hours because I forgot to pack enough skivvies. Better to leave it to others for zip lining, bungy jumping, watching Sean Hannity, etc.
But a brother-in-law of mine is apparently spawned from such lineage. Like his father before him, he pilots a small plane and flies all around the midwest to participate at air shows. He also enjoys rafting, kayaking, and distance bike races. During my visit, he decided to test mettle by taking me out on the back roads of the private community in which he and my sister live.
Rather than all of us driving together in one car to a nearby restaurant for lunch, brother-in-law insisted that I convoy separately with him in his Polaris 4×4 utility vehicle. It’s yet another contraption for a man who loves machines; and an additional area of interest that has always separated us. Hard as we’ve tried to find common ground over the years, our differences have generally been more dominant.
But try we do…
And quite like a scene from a 1970’s beer commercial, the ladies — my two sisters — set off separately from us daredevil men. I sat in the Polaris beside an open-air mesh “door,” desperately looking for any kind of handle or strap to hold onto for support. Finding none, I simply pushed back in my seat as far as I could go and anchored myself in as gravel flew up from the road and trees and shrubbery whizzed past my head. With a bemused smirk, brother-in-law drove over hills, humps, and hops in eager zeal. Speeds of 45 miles per hour never seem quite so fast in a car, but I can now attest that it certainly does in a UTV.
“Great ride, huh?!,” he asked with pride as we pulled into the restaurant parking lot.
I don’t recall if I answered.
I also don’t remember much about the lunch.
Or the ride back to my sister’s home.
Besides our separate travels this summer, we also had a visitor to our humble home here in St. Augustine. My oldest nephew gave us notice in June that he wanted to experience southern heat and humidity; this because he’s never before traveled to the Sunshine State. We did our best to entertain him over three days and nights by showing him all the tourist attractions in the Old City, the neighboring historic district, beaches, and the iconic lighthouse. I worried ahead of time that he might be bored, but he was easy-going throughout and enjoyed everything we introduced to him. This included our evening television routine.
Since I retired, we’ve become addicted to English (and Aussie) TV shows such as Doc Martin, Call the Midwife, Doctor Foster, Midsomer Murders, A Place to Call Home, etc. We’ve also been ghastly cheap by watching nearly all of these shows on DVD courtesy of the public library. You can’t beat free, at least according to me.
Nephew, on the other hand, thinks differently. He humored us by watching along with us and firmly keeping all thoughts and opinions to himself for at least the first 48 hours. But on the last full day of his visit, he went into what I call full “Dude mode.” By this I mean whenever he felt obliged to offer an opinion on my way of doing things, he began each sentence with “dude…”
“Dude, you’re spending more money on gas than you’re saving by going to the library for those DVD’s. For G-d sakes, get into the new millennium already and start streaming!“
Thus on the last night of his visit, we received a crash course in streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc. The embarrassing thing is that Gorgeous actually has an Amazon Prime account, but we never thought to access the streaming offerings for it on our TV. Nephew showed us how to connect the TV to our WiFi and showed us how to reach each of those services, including Prime.
After he left, I went ahead and invested in a year’s subscription to Acorn TV, where we can now watch all our favorite shows for the grand sum of $50.00 a year. I later told him about the purchase, and though I think he rolled his eyes because we didn’t choose Netflix instead, he gave me plaudits for taking the plunge. Maybe I’m a real dude now and not just a rhetorical one.
So there we are. We need to be grateful for family affairs to keep us stocked with adventures and laughs. But between you and me, it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever climb into brother-in-law’s plane.
Until next time…