Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I miss my Christmas boys..

I just posted this, then realized I posted this published column last year around Christmas time. I would remove it but it is one of my favorite Christmas stories. I don't always enjoy reading my own stuff after it has aged a bit but this one I like enough for a second 'read'.. T

I have mixed feelings about handmade Christmas gifts. When I was eleven, I made two identical magazine racks in shop class.
Christmas morning I gave one to my Dad. He praised it and said I was becoming a fine craftsman. He was amazed (or said he was, anyway), at how many magazines it held and how it cleverly leaned back to display them.
Later that day we drove to “have Christmas” with my grandmother. She suffered from dementia and lived with a bachelor uncle. I gave her the other magazine rack.
I was unaware of her deteriorating mental faculties. When unwrapped, she could not figure out what it was. I explained, “A magazine rack”.
She tried to stand it in a vertical position on the floor. Designed to lean at an angle, it fell over.
She was incredulous at my stupidity and said, “Why Terry, it won’t even stay upright.”
Her disappointment crushed me.
Years later, my own kids suffered disappointment at my hands because of a present I would not make for them. When my oldest son was ten or eleven, he wanted desperately for me to build a rocket silo, attached to the side of the house. He said he didn’t want anything else for Christmas and pointed out, we had extra lumber from another project stored in our barn. He didn’t need help with the actual rocket, which was based on the size and scale of the Apollo program missiles. He just needed me to make the silo from which to launch it.
From a young age, he had an intellect for electronics and computers. I had visions of him actually completing the rocket and destroying both silo and house at lift off. He was wounded when I wouldn’t even consider the rough blueprints he sketched for the project. He argued when I said it would probably violate several ordinances, firing a rocket of that size from a private residence.
He may have thought I was being unfair, after all, both boys’ made gifts for me over the years, and I was unwilling to make this one, the one they really wanted.
I still have all of their handy works. One of them made a simple plywood toolbox for me with a rope handle.
I have a tin coffee can with heavy red yarn wrapped tightly all around it. My first name is written with blue yarn in cursive over the red. The whole thing is covered in shiny shellac. I’ve stored small items in it for decades.
I have one large lifelike, worn looking, ceramic sneaker complete with laces. It sits on my bedside table, a catchall when I empty my pockets at the end of the day.
I have a long necktie carved from oak. I learned it doesn’t bend when you sit, almost broke my windpipe.
I have a ¾-inch thick by eight-inch long pointed stick, with several designs and “Dad” carved into it. It resides now in a dresser drawer, a touchstone when I’m down to that last tee shirt at the bottom of the drawer. It has remained through the most drastic of spring cleanings.
The very best part of all these presents was the wide-eyed look on my boys’ faces, Christmas morning. The look wasn’t just for the gifts they were to receive. They also wanted to know, would Dad like the presents made for him. The easiest things, I gave in return, praise, an enthusiastic ‘thanks’ and a happy smile.
The good intention that accompanied their gifts was the finest present I ever received.
My boys live in two different states now; none of the gifts we give or gather are handmade anymore.
In hindsight, that rocket silo doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.
Comments? Changinglanesterry@hotmail.com or try

Friday, December 18, 2009

lackey lacks credit

I know I swear to post more often, but here I am letting more than a week go by without a word. And I need to blow off steam.

I know I shouldn't have done it, but yes I have credit card debt. If I ever begin to lament about having it I remind myself that no one twisted my arm to borrow on plastic. And Betty and I have a lot of neat stuff and have traveled to great places. Traveling is cause to a large percentage our debt. It is easy to use credit cards on the road.
One long-term card I have used is with Capital One. For a time after others' charged a foreign transaction fee, Capital did not. Now just like the rest, they do, 3%.
My limit at Capital has always been $5000. A mere pittance compared to the automobile buying power I have (if I want it) with others. For a long time and intermittently, I have used the card. The interest rate used to be high, 9.9%, seen in the light of how high other cards have gone these days it is good.
For the past twenty years, Capital has cut down and processed a number of trees just to make the paper to send me, multiple times each month, checks to use the remaining balance of my card. I haven't taken advantage of them for decades. Recently I was carrying about $3000 and they were anxious for me to have the full $5000 in use at all times.
I have higher interest money out on credit, so Thursday I took advantage of the better interest rate and the "no fee" Capital checks and used $1500 dollars to pay off some higher debt (paid from my checking account, Capitals check deposited to same.)
Friday morning I got a call from Capital one. I presumed they were just checking for theft because of the large amount of the check I sent.
Instead, they called to inform me that the account's upper limit would be changed to $3600. In essence creating a great over-the-limit fee for themselves instantly.
To say I was miffed is an understatement. I was far unkinder to the the telephone representative than I should have been. After a lot of loud and impolite conversation, Capital One graciously changed my upper limit back to what it has been for the past twenty years. I assume I was supposed to be grateful to them for this "favor". I wasn't.

I will try to rant less and create more in the future.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Blackberry Blues column

I vow to contribute more often here is the latest column I can blog..

Changing Lanes:Blackberryblues.
I’ve always wondered what a Blackberry was and why President Obama was having such a hard time parting with his. I’ve had one for a week now. I have a slight headache, a stiff neck and sore thumbs from operating the clever little device. I’ve become very attached to it.
There was a time I kept every phone number of acquaintances, my employers and most addresses I considered necessary, in my head. I could also remember the list of a half dozen items I needed to get when I walked the aisles of my local super market. Back then, if I ambled to the living room from the kitchen with a purpose, I could recall what that purpose was. Now I wait for it to come to me or walk back empty handed. Somewhere along the line, my brain has turned to oatmeal.
Several years ago, I purchased a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) smart-phone. A long time before that, it had been cutting-edge technology, ridiculously overpriced. After years of Assisting many other people, (read became much cheaper) I bought one.
The smart-phone performed a plethora of important functions. It stored my appointments, my calendar, and address book. It contained my ‘to-do’ and grocery lists. Once a week I attached it to my computer with a cable and ‘synced’ all of the above. If I changed or added something on either the PDA or the computer, the two would talk it over during ‘sync-time’ and exchange the information. It even was a good calculator.
I loved the touch screen at first, but became less fond of that later. The PDA did many things wonderfully, but it wasn’t a good cell phone. It was a step backward in that area. When talking to someone, it felt as though I was holding a brick to the side of my head. Not a regular brick either. It was more like one of those heavy, dense Olean paving bricks. Some part of my face would hit the touch screen and end the call early or start a conference call, or play loud music. During the call, my ear would sometimes touch the screen in an inappropriate place and it would activate an unwanted application.
The volume settings were unruly, refusing to adjust the way I wanted. It would inexplicably convert to speakerphone between calls. After leaving scar tissue on my eardrums a few times, I knew to answer the phone carefully.
My two-year contract with Verizon wireless ended a year or so ago. Because I didn’t attempt to sign up for another service contract or get a new phone, Verizon began pestering me, sending me special “deals”, almost on a weekly basis. The longer I did not sign, the phones offered for “free”, got better and more elaborate. Competition in the wireless market is fierce and I was one guppy they didn’t want to lose. Verizon seemed frantic to win me back.
Following my brain’s example, my PDA smart-phones’ thinking became cloudy. When I entered information on the touch-screen, the wrong numbers and letters came up, I would hit a “t” on the virtual keyboard and an “r” would register on the screen. I had to ‘realign’ on a daily basis.
I finally accepted one of Verizon’s offers. My new Blackberry does all the things my old smart phone did, only faster and without prompting. I don’t turn on my computer many days because email comes to the Blackberry. I can get CNN news, the weather, and Google anything, anywhere, anytime. It reminds me to take my medications and to take out the garbage. I can download audio books from the library or listen to music from any number of sources and, it’s a great calculator.
Technology has come a long way. As evidence, when used as a phone, the Blackberry feels like a much smaller brick than the old PDA did. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
Comments? Changinglanesterry@gmail.com or

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lackey's got a lump...

At our latest show in the Rochester Museum of Science, the young lady who was in the area next to ours cancelled, the day of the event. Christine DeTurk, one of the organizers of the show asked if we could "spread out" a bit and take over the young ladies spot. Boy could we.
The show takes place amoung the museum displays. Many of the vendors' spaces require inventive set up. Most of our display panels are actually louvered doors hinged together, this makes each two door set, freestanding when the panels are set at an angle. Some are quite heavy. Spreading out became fun, before we left home, we were unsure of the shape and size of the space we would have this year, I had loaded all the louvered panels we own into our little trailer.
After a few initial trips, Betty started to arange shutters around the floor, imagining the best way to take advatage of the extra space.
After half a dozen trips from the trailer to the second floor I sat down in a folding chair to take a short break. About the same time my stalwart partner stood a two piece set of doors five feet or so behind and off to my right side. I inocently began taking a sip from my coffee cup when the set of doors fell on my head. I saw stars momentarily and as is my custom, when I've been served a painful blow, especially by surprise, I spoke a few choice profanities.
Betty's custom, particularrly while we are in public, is to admonish me for any profanity, which she did immediatly, shortly after the stars left my vision and before the nasty lump started to swell on my head.
I thought only bad thoughts for some time. More later>>>

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thoughts from 1968

Terry Stephan

Changing Lanes:inflationaryvehicles.
A friend of mine is flying to Los Angeles. She and her significant-other will spend 4½ hours getting there, including a stopover in Chicago. It brings to mind my first trip to southern California. I was 18 and it was an adventure. I hitched a ride with a friend; Rich had to report for duty at a military base in Sacramento.
We left Western New York in a blizzard, in Rich’s 1964½ Mustang, something Lee Iacocca morphed from a Ford Falcon. To save money, we were going to share the ride driving straight through to LA. The car rode like the Ford Falcon it was- as if it had no springs or shocks.
Before we left, we bought two loaves of Wonder Bread and a couple of jars of peanut butter and jelly. We made PB&J sandwiches, placing them all back into the bread bags, two loaves of meals for the trip.
A huge bird, of unknown origin, smashed our windshield in Tennessee; we lost a muffler in Arkansas, and saw a blazing barn fire at 2 AM in Oklahoma. Still on rte 66, we spent hours and hours, crossing the panhandle of Texas, amazed at the size of it all.
While one of us drove, the other would try to sleep; the front bucket seats weren’t roomy and didn’t recline far. We took turns sitting in the back seat with our legs stretched out on top of the driveline “hump” down the middle of the car, feet propped on the center console beside the driver. There seemed no comfortable position in which to snooze.
Exhausted, stunned by the heat, both of us sweating profusely in the non-air conditioned little Ford, we recalled that a day and a half before, we couldn’t keep our windshield wipers free of ice.
I had horrendous indigestion from the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of peanut butter and jelly, washed down with warm Pepsi. The second loaf of Wonder Bread and PB&J began turning into heavy, colorful, goo in its bag. It smelled surprisingly bad when opened. I don’t think rolling around in the car with the heat helped any.
We splurged one night, basking in twin, lumpy, air-conditioned and non-moving beds in an Albuquerque motel.
We imagined we were as carefree and daring as Tod and Buz from the TV show Rte 66, after all, we were on rte 66 and we were two guys. Carefree we weren’t though, we had to keep moving, or we would soon become penniless vagrants.
It got hotter when we hit Needles, California and cooler, back down in the lower 80’s, when we neared the coast.
We spent more money than planned; our pooled resources were used up, repairing the Mustang, and for the motel.
Back East, Rich and I frequented pool halls in Western NY. We played for money and most of the times, won enough to shoot all evening, and often eat out afterwards as well.
We spotted a pool hall a few doors down from a pawnshop in Van Nuys. I was going to stay with relatives in the LA suburbs and didn’t want to show up with no money. I hocked the only thing of value I had, a big old camera. We figured we would make some cash hustling at the pool hall, then I would get my camera back and Rich could buy a meal or two on his way to Sacramento. We counted our cash, then saved a ten-dollar bill out for gas, if the unthinkable happened, Rich could still make Sacramento by his appointed time.
We learned that Van Nuys pool shooters are very good.
I rang the doorbell at my aunt’s house with a quarter in my pocket. My aunt and uncle took pity on Rich, fed the both of us and he drove on to Sacramento.
Today, I would probably take a plane to LA, but I savor the ride we took in that Mustang. We drove most of rte 66 when it was still a vibrant highway with a thousand gaudy tourist traps, miles of sand, rusty-layered rocks, and at least one snow capped mountain.
I could have done without the peanut butter and jelly.
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Or, http://changinglanesterry.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

About Mr. Bailey - a recent column

Terry Stephan

Changing Lanes:realcamping
A friend of mine, whom I now call Bubba, just acquired a camper. He was perusing new campers priced in the tens of thousands of dollars when another friend of his offered him a used camping trailer, free. He liked the ancient 24-foot Corsair right off the bat. It had two axles and while he joked about the color scheme, I think the orange, yellow and brown upholstery was what he liked best. In the original Corsair sales brochure, found in a drawer, a fashionably modern 70’s woman is pictured lounging in the camper in her neatly pressed camping slacks (I think they were bell-bottoms) and mohair sweater. She and her bouffant hair-doo look uncomfortable. I imagine her discomfort was due to the gaudy orange and yellow interior she had to model in, or the threat of being photographed in the other available color scheme, ‘Avocado’.
I was to meet Bubba at his friends’ house; my presence was requested to follow him in my car while he pulled the trailer to a shop for repair. The brakes and brake lights did not work and there were no turn signals. I didn’t mind following him and I would have suggested it if Bubba had not asked. I would rather follow him in my car as he pulled the trailer to the repair shop, than ride with him. It wasn’t a long drive but much of it was on a hilly and twisted section of old route 219 known locally as Nunweiler Hill.
As I drove to our meeting place, the ride took me back years, to a time when I traversed this same stretch of road as a young man. I was in the passenger seat of my 1962 Rambler convertible, dozing. My little brother David was driving with a learner’s permit. We shared a ride most of that summer and he drove, like any other 16 year old, whenever he could coerce someone to let him. Leaving home at 6 AM meant I was easily coerced; I spent my trip to work dozing rather than driving.
A quite string of mumbled expletives from David woke me from my slumber; the fright in his voice was unmistakable. The first thing I noticed, his knuckles, were white as he grasped the steering wheel. The second thing I noticed was one of our tires rolling out ahead of us on the right shoulder of the road, traveling by itself. It was supposed to be attached to the car we were riding in. The Rambler didn’t have a smooth ride to begin with - on three wheels, it was decidedly worse.
I grabbed the dashboard in front of me and offered verbal encouragement to David, mixed with my own expletives. In a lackluster end to our incident, David brought the old Rambler to a rest, on the remaining wheels and one brake drum.
With that experience in mind, I headed back over the road I’d just taken, falling in behind Bubba. I used my four-way flashers to warn drivers coming from behind our low speed procession not to run into us. I assumed we would travel a great deal slower than the speed limit. After all, the trailer hadn’t been on the road for a number of years. Brakes, brake lights, and turn signals weren’t working. When I assume things, I often get an abrupt education.
Bubba, or the tow-boy Mario Andretti, had a different plan, or maybe no plan, in either case I couldn’t legally keep up with him, without speeding, as he pulled the trailer. I shut off my four-ways. There was no sense calling attention to our high-speed convoy. I could imagine being stopped by the police and trying to explain that the reason I was speeding was because I was trying to catch up to a 34 year old camper being towed by a retired academic-want-to-be-race-driver.
The brakes and lights are fixed on Bubba’s camper. If you see a mid 70’s vintage RV with orange curtains rolling down the road, you might want to stay out of his way.
Comments? Changinglanesterry@gmail.com or

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lackey Business

I've been getting right into my chores as a lackey. On the small chance that we will be called it to replace someone who drops out of the Premier show coming up this next weekend I have been painting and cleaning our displays and booth. I repaint and repair displays every fall but usually I have an abundance of time to do it it. With a deadline so close I have to hurry, but it is good unlike the rest of the time I will be ahead of the game.
He have applied for some Sugarloaf shows. We have mixed feelings about getting into different shows, if you get in, does it mean it isn't a very good show? If you don't get in does it mean it is a really good show and you won't get a chance to vend there and you should strive harder to get in the next time?
I know, making the right choice shouldn't be so painful

Friday, October 23, 2009

This is a previously published column..

Changing Lanes:Facebook
It’s been my impression that I am keeping pace with computers and related technology. I love email, it made sense to me right from the start and it is a great way to communicate. I keep in touch with friends, family, and acquaintances in that manner. Half my communications with Emmy, several floors away in this old house, is via email.
I use the computer to schedule appointments, write, and I even dabble in the use of the much maligned ‘Excel’ program. That alone is like trying to learn French, but on a grid pattern. I will never master either one.
I was told I should have a blog, starting it up and adding to it is still a learning experience for me. Though I don’t make as many ‘posts’ as I am advised to, I manage to add to the blog every week.
Computer geeks keep coming up with new ideas and applications for the computer. I know they usually mean to streamline our lives but most of the new programs require what seems to be unending lessons to learn.
A new menace has arisen in my life. Facebook, appropriately named, is in my face everywhere I turn on the internet. My first contact with it came when I got an email from “The Facebook team”. They said my son Jon, wanted to invite me to be his friend, in order to do that I would have to join. If I became his friend, he would then send me photos of himself and his family via Facebook. It is unlike Jon and me to talk about it, but I’ve considered him a friend ever since he started doing wonderful things like moving out of the house and producing grandchildren. I didn’t think I needed a team from Facebook to make him my friend.
I wanted to know why it was important I join them. My suspicions harked back to my belief that any group who would have me as a member does not really meet my standards.
I became more curious than cautious; I took the bait and joined Facebook, though I had my doubts. I needed to examine it more closely before I rejected it completely.
Facebook looks like a desperate attempt to find friends, via the internet. What’s wrong with the old way- at the bar, drinks, becoming obnoxious, then morose, offending any new friend you have made, any old ones who are present, being escorted from the bar, ah the good old days..
I digress.
Facebook has multiple ways of communicating with others. You have to step carefully. You can write something on your own “wall” or another person’s wall. After offending a few people because I didn’t realize whose wall was whose and how many people could see it, I’ve stopped writing on anyone’s wall for a while.
There are games, clubs, and quizzes on Facebook. There are causes you can join. Some of them are serious, most are frivolous. You can become a fan of various things like ice-cold beer or campfires. I’m already a fan of those things and I don’t need Facebook to weigh in.
This all sounds as though I don’t like Facebook and I really didn’t until a short time ago. The other day my son and his family left for Disney World. I checked my Facebook page the same day they left. A photo of my 6-year-old granddaughter popped up. Her red curly locks tumbled around her face as she sat in the co-pilots seat of an airliner. They had boarded the plane for Disney a few minutes earlier and Jon had taken a picture of her seated there and posted it to Facebook with his fancy phone.
I knew they were in transit but in my old-fashioned mind, I had not expected to hear from them for at least a week, maybe two until they were back and settled at home again.
I kind of like Facebook.
Comments? Changinglanesterry@gmail.com or

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lackadaisical Lackey

Betty and I have been home now for several days. It is great to be in a place bigger than a couple of appliance boxes, I no longer have homicidal urges towards my wife. It is amazing what being couped up in a small space will do for a couple.
Our next possible (tho unlikely) show will be Christmas in the Country at the Hamburg Fairgrounds. The work I have to do is a long list including repair and painting our displays and repacking our display trailer for inside shows intead of the outside ones.
I have too much winterizing lackey work on the house as well..

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lacking spring in my step

Betty and I are less than a week away from the end of this, our latest sales/visit trip. We've done just two shows in the past four weeks and had lots of visit time with our kids.
We are in Geneseo NY at a Walmart and tomorrow is our Letchworth show.
We both agree that this camper is too small to spend this amount of time in together. Every action has a reaction. We haven't been able to be outside enough and patience is wearing thin. It doesn't help that the shows have not paid as much as we'd hoped.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chicken Surprise

This is a column published a few years ago when I was still working full time...

Changing Lanes: Chicken Surprise
I keep my culinary skills honed to a fine edge by making dinner once a week. This gives my wife, Emmy Lou, a break from kitchen duties on one of her busier days.
My specialty is what I call “Chicken Surprise”. I make this one dish, baked, surprise often, even though Emmy makes a face and pretends to shudder when I reveal my plans for dinner.
In the past, I switched off between “Chicken Surprise” and “Pork Surprise” but Emmy Lou stopped eating red meat. I have pointed out to her that pork really isn’t red meat but she’ll have none of it. My dinners became limited to chicken surprise only, although I have to say I come up with a lot of variety without switching meats.
I always begin with chicken breasts and condensed cream of mushroom soup, after that, is the surprise. This one dish can be prepared in so many different ways it’s remarkable.
Sometimes I add onions, potatoes, and carrots, maybe even turnips, or stuffing. It is when I really experiment with other ingredients, my wife strongly objects. I tried Lima beans, tomatoes and some raisins; it turned out great but I think Emmy has something against Lima beans.
I tried applesauce with “stiffeners”, (no matter how much flour or stuffing I added it came out soupy, and it didn’t taste that good). My spouse objected to further experiments with fruit of any kind in my Chicken Surprise and I bent to her wishes even though I was on the verge of a breakthrough with pineapple.
One time I decided to put whole sweet potatoes in my “surprise”. Then I figured if I boiled and mashed the sweet potatoes and then mixed flour and baking soda with them; it would come out of the oven like fancy chicken and dumplings.
It didn’t work out as well as I would have liked. I ended up with a sort of a chicken cake, which was a bit dry but I must say, delicious. Emmy ate some but said she had just started a new diet of which I was unaware, so there was a lot left over. Bob the dog loved it; he always loved it when I cooked.
Emmy often asks me where I got the recipe for this or that. I’m kind of dumbfounded that a person who has cooked as long and as well as she has, is so dependent upon recipes. That is like using a map every time you travel or asking for directions when you’re driving.
She sees recipes as strict specific road maps; I see them as general guidelines. Sometimes, you have to set your general direction and leave the map in the glove compartment, not worrying so much about arriving at a specific place. Life would be pretty dull if you always followed a map.
Last week I tried a new recipe, my own invention of course, in a crock-pot. I called it “Chicken Pot Roast” only to be informed by some stickler for definitions that “Pot Roast” doesn’t really involve a chicken at all but beef. I had to call it something else.
Being a forward thinker, I was sure that anything you started at three in the afternoon in a crock-pot would certainly be done by dinner.
I ordered pizza that night and we saved the “Crock-Pot Chicken Surprise” for dinner the next night.
I’ve had a new dish floating around in my mind for a while. I was going to call it “Fish Pot Roast” but apparently, beef still has some sort of patent on the “Pot Roast” name. I guess I’ll go simply with “Crock Pot Fish Surprise”.
I’m still sharpening my culinary skills..

Monday, October 5, 2009

A lackey's work is done- for now

Camden Hills State Park Has a great Campground from which I write this. CHSP also has a shore line trail and Batty Mountain. The drive or climb up Batty rewards the traveler a beautiful view of the harbor with its tall ships and the craggy shoreline.
Betty and I are not taking in the splendorous view but instead licking our wounds after a weekend where we did poorly in sales but on the up side stayed cold and damp too.
Our booth and Betty's heater seemed to be the talk of the other vendors at the show. We had them last year and no one seemed to notice. I think the difference this year is that their were far fewer visitors to the show so people had time to observe and talk about each other. Our Booth is a sturdy one, from Custom Canvas in Buffalo. I don't think any other vendor would argue it was the sturdiest one at this show however, it was also the most labor intensive to put up.
On Sunday morning, several hours after opening up Betty sold a seven dollar set of earrings. The total went up to $18 dollars and stayed that way till just after 2pm. I wasn't happy but Betty takes it harder. Several sales after two-o-clock in the hundred dollar range pulled us out of the completely-in-the-crapper range.
Love Camden, don't think we will do the fall show again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

lacking sales in Camden

Betty and I are in the middle of a Camden "Harbor Arts Festival" weekend. We have had constant rain up till now, today is showing signs of being much better, it is just a heavy mist with thick fog.
The first day of our show went well for the amount of people who faired the rain and visited our soggy booth . Betty seems to be the talk of the show, this time because we have a back room with heat in it. I spilled Rosemary oil on my shirt and because I don't have that many shirts along on this trip I continue to wear it hoping the smell will wear off. Fellow artisans probably get a kick out of my Rosemary scent.
There is supposed to be a cruise ship docked in Rockland and we are to have as many as 2500 extra people here, ferried up to Camden via shuttle buses, at least that was the idea. So far, not so much. With the bit of xenophobia from the locals, lack of sales and a dreary weekend I am kind of bummed so far.
I keep coming back to this blog when I make my trip from the booth for one thing or the other. Our tent is so dark we have to light it, especially on such a dark day. I came up to get a fresh battery this time.
My low down bummedness will probably change if we start to sell something. So far today $7.00.

More later.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nothing Lacking in Camden

Betty and I are sitting in Camden Maine. We set up today for this weekends' Harbor Arts Festival. It was leisurely and a beautiful day, overlooking the harbor with it's tall masted ships swaying on the water. There were an unusual amount of cancellations this year so we have a prime spot in the "hilltop" section.
It is a good thing the rain held off so we could enjoy setup so much. The forecast is for 100% chance of showers on Saturday and 90% on Sunday. Oh well.... Set up was beautiful.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lackluster Lackey at Lily Bay

I write from site number 205 at Lily Bay State Park on Moosehead lake in Maine. Betty and I are on a mission. We are between shows, our next one is the Harbor Arts Juried Arts and Crafts Show in Camden Maine on October 3 and 4.

In the mean time we are on our way to northern Maine where our youngest son Aaron is installing his sculpture "intersect". It is a federal government commissioned work at the Jackman border crossing. It is on the main route to Quebec through Maine.

Aaron is going to set the sculpture today and tomorrow. It involves working between the lanes at the border and I worry a great deal about him. I offered to help but he didn't want my help, he hired two young strapping kids for the bull work.

The sculpture is a twelve foot diameter sphere comprised of 360 cast iron globes connected in a sort of haphazard way with black iron pipe.

I've seen drawn models of the work and last week I saw the entire sculpture laid out in pieces in Aaron's studio (something like a 4 bay garage) while he was putting final coats of something on it to make it rust properly..

Hopefully he will have the work completely installed on Tuesday, that is his plan anyway, we should be able to visit the sculpture Wednesday morning and take photos. I will try to post them on this blog if I can figure out how to do that. It won't be real pretty as the whole border crossing facility is being rebuilt and it is a huge construction site at this time.

I never intended on crossing the border into Canada and didn't think that I may have to in order to view the sculpture. Neither Betty nor I have our passports so the border lords may toss me off the property B4 I can get near enough to take photos anyway..

More sculpture drama another time..

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lacky learns 3

We are just near the border of Mass and New Hampshire, several hours after a great 4 day visit to our grandkids. They are 6 and 3 years of age. I spent much of yeserday wondering how a three year old boy gets energy enough to be a three year old boy.

More later

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

new vision

When I was fifteen, I always sat as far back in the classroom as I could. “Out of sight, out of mind”, out of questioning range, was my motto.
The problem, sitting at the back of the room, I was literally “out of sight”. My eyesight was so bad, the blackboard was just a large dark smudge at the front of the room; chalk writing on the board couldn’t even qualify as a squiggle.
I must have been an attractive lad, squinting and firmly gripping the edges of my desk so my hand wouldn’t be interpreted as “raised”. Teachers urged me to sit closer but, never one to participate; I sat as far in back as possible.
Finally, using Gestapo-like tactics, the adults in my life forced me to go to an optometrist where I was fitted with some big black-framed Buddy Holly glasses.
The black plastic frames drew a lot of ridicule, (they were the cheapest the optometrist offered) and I spent the rest of that school year trying to figure out why the name “four eyes” brought guffaws from classmates. I didn’t think it particularly offensive, I just wondered why my piers thought it so clever, especially after many repetitions.
Adjusting to those first glasses was not hard, my vision was so much better; they quickly became an appendage I couldn’t do without.
A few decades later, the same could not be said for the bifocals I had to start using. Until I got the hang of them, I lost the ability to easily see anything below eye level.
What I had to do was learn to look around the “reading pane” of my glasses without bending my neck to the side and down, as a chicken might, looking for food on the ground.
I drove directly from the eye doctor’s office, sporting these first time bifocals, to the downtown Buffalo bus terminal to pick up my son Aaron.
I parked, and immediately tripped over a curb that hadn’t been there a moment before, at least according to what I could see down there around my feet.
Inside the terminal, looking up at the arrivals and departures board was a joy. New glasses, new prescription, clean and scratch free, are always a pleasure. I admit the scratches are my own fault. I often use my spectacles as safety glasses for a quick grinding or sandblasting job.
I was late, according to the arrivals board. My son must be in the terminal already.
He had been away at school for six months and to this day, he is likely to wear anything. He is also prone to doze off, standing or sitting, given a couple of minute’s free time. I cautiously strolled around the terminal, looking sideways and down out of my new glasses so I wouldn’t trip, like a hesitant rooster, checking those patrons seated and trying not to be noticed.
I won’t go into detail about the social faux pas of walking into a public Men’s room, calling loudly “Aaron are you in here?” or the hostile looks I received while standing at a row of urinals, straining to see around my bifocals like a rubber-necked chicken.
As it turned out Aaron’s bus was late, that information wasn’t posted.
I guess the bottom line here is, don’t be too tough on that guy next to you at the urinals, he may not have an overanundance of interest in what you are handeling, down there, he may just have new bifocals..

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lackey go circus

I'm reading "Water for Elephants", it is the book you've never heard of and then when you try to tell anyone about it you find that everyone has read it before you. Much of the book revolves around the circus, it's very well written.
As with a lot of well written books, I begin to get real life mixed up with a book I'm involved with. Betty and I are at a large fine Arts and Crafts sale in Rochester. It is similar to the circus in that it is a bunch of transient people getting together for a show. Then we all tear down and move to the next show, but not to the same show. But there are no monkeys or tigers, except those depicted in various art forms.
OK, I didn't say it made sense.. I have go and carry some water for the elephants..

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lackey go slowly

Labor day weekend we held our annual customer-friends-and-family-appreciation- jewelry show. OK so we have to get a catchier name for it. We are thinking of making it fixed on Labor Day weekend in the future the three day show seemed to be a nicer, less hectic pace.
We thank everybody who showed up.
We had a lot of fun, served wine and beer and snack type food and had lots of giveaways and discounts. We even had a raffle.. Sharon Mathe, I pulled your name out of the tickets Betty had placed in a bowl and held way over my head. You won the pin if you are reading this- it will be in your mailbox in a few days.
Lots of people just visited and that was great.
It is nice packing up from the home show. When you aren't in a hurry to get off the street or out of whatever foreign spot you occupy you can take your time and fix and or repair and or change things as you load out in a leisurely fashion..

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What's in a name??

As kids, my cousin Becky and I shared poverty and a slightly more-dysfunctional-than-average extended family. Both of our families lived in rural Western NY. When we all got together, Becky and I talked, joked, and observed life in general, often while hiking miles of backcountry roads. We played cards and board games. We observed that her parents (our mothers were sisters) paid bills first and then bought food with what money was left. My parents bought food for the family first and then paid bills.
Those kids ate a lot of government surplus peanut butter.
My parents had just enough income so we couldn’t get surplus food. We kids felt peanut butter deprived.
Years later, as young adults, Becky and I liked each other’s spouses, shared meals and leisure time. Emmy and I babysat her kids as Becky did ours. I remember once spending the night on Becky’s couch, at her request, when her husband was out of town. She felt threatened by a much too friendly (and creepy) neighbor. I woke in the morning to see her toddler daughters bouncing up and down in their little brother’s crib, not far from where I slept in the living room. They seemed to mimic barefooted-wine makers, holding on to the sides of the crib, and “crushing grapes” with high steps. As I shook sleep off, I wondered where their baby brother, Jason was. I thought Becky must have moved him from the crib while I was asleep.
A bit of a squawk from the bottom of the little bed made me realize- he was the grapes they were stomping. I jumped up and quickly grabbed the girls one at a time, setting them on the floor next to the crib, frightening them in the process. In the dim light, I checked to see if the baby was alive and I found he had a little baby grin on his face. He loved his sisters to walk on him, or as probably was the case, mostly around him. I think they played the game often. Today he is a large, healthy, good-looking young man; it didn’t do him any harm.
A year ago, I called Becky. She lives in California now. It was great to hear her voice after all the years, but hard to talk with her. She had changed her first name to “beccarae,” pronounced ‘beck-ah-ray’. No capitol “B” as far as I know and no contractions allowed. Calling her “Beck” or “Becky” was a hard habit to break, and made her angry. I often use contractions such as “Sue” or “Jan.” Some people are offended; most realize worrying about it puts a damper on communication. Either way, it is not the same as a name change when you are forty.
Through the years, one thing I could, and still can, count on in my family is an enduring and offbeat sense of humor. I thought she and I had come to the end of the road as friends. If Becky was so self-involved with her new name that she couldn’t chuckle just a bit at herself, or she became angry when people called her by her original name, it was probably just as well that we didn’t talk.
We had a family reunion this summer. Relatives from all over showed up, as did Becky from the West coast. We talked and laughed for some time and I found her just as funny and insightful as I had many years ago.
Becky and I email each other, I wrote to her, “My name is Terry Stephan, you can call me Terry or you can call me Terrance or Steve (the often used, mispronounced contraction of ‘Stephan’) or Frank or Sparky or T-bone or ‘Hey you,’ others have and it hasn’t damaged me- ever.
It doesn’t matter what you call me, as long as you know who I am.” Becky wrote, “I know who you are, I love you anyway.”
Maybe we’ve reached a truce of sorts and maybe people call her ‘beccarae’ in her Western State, but I was happy to find that Becky is, by any other name, still Becky.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A lackey has feeling too...

This past weekend was the Elmwood Ave art festival. Betty was juried out of the show this year, it is the first show we've been juried out of after being accepted in previous years.
Even though Betty and I went on a bead cruise out of Fairport, I still had Elmwood in the back of my mind. We both said it was good to miss another rainy weekend show but both of us were longing to be there in the good fight. Last year at Elmwood it rained very hard for a short time and we got a lot of other peoples stock and equipment from upstream as those downstream got ours'.
We could have tried for another show but because we've increased our fall show schedule decided to hang onto our stock, (and go on what turned out to be a less than ideal bead cruise). Like we should really worry about selling too much...
Labor day weekend is our "home show" noon to seven, three days. Wine and snacks and beads..

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lackey go lackey

I have reached a sort of pinnacle in my professional career. I am a lackey. I've come full circle. Most of the jobs I had before I was 18 were in the lackey class. I was a pin setter- primarily a lackey. I 'pulled' skeet at a shooting ranger- primarily a lackey.
I went on to more skilled trades, I was 'finish carpenter' at an RV manufacturer in southern California, later a welder and a truck driver.
I retired from driving truck, always knowing I would probably have to work part time to make ends meet. I worked at debt collections, for a full year, after I retired.
Now I am back to being lackey full time. Spouse Betty makes beautiful beaded jewelry. She and I participate in Arts and Crafts shows in a half dozen states.
It requires a booth and displays and lights carried in a trailer which we tow behind our truck camper as we travel from show to show.
I am in charge of heavy lifting, maintenance, logistics when we travel, updating and painting our displays and a multitude of other lackey like tasks.
I like being a lackey more than any other job I've done.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Family Funerals

These past couple of weeks have been family, family. Last week a family reunion and this week my aunt died. She was 82 and well loved, they had a large funeral followed by a family get together...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Family Reunions

Tommorow is our family reunion. This will be the first one I've know about that has taken place in Northern Erie county, most have been in the gingweeds of Catt and or Chatauqua counties. I have such a varied and spread out extended family I never know what to expect. If I make no more enties in this blog it means things worked out for the worst..

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lewiston, NY

Betty and I are in Lewiston, NY for the arts and crafts show. Because of a change logistically we could not set our booth up until Saturday, the day of the show, at five AM. It made for a long day.
I slept well Wednesday night and not being able to string two good nights of sleep together in a row, I barely slept Thursday. We started setting up Friday, I with just a couple of hours of poor sleep. It was a long day. Sales were OK though and Betty and I went to 'Tin Pan Alley', a restaurant on Cayuga St. just a block away from our camper, parked in the Rite Aid plaza a few hundred feet from out booth on Center.
I couldn't keep my eyes open and went to sleep at 8PM!!!! Got up at 6AM - 10 hours of sleep!! I know, that was over use of the exclamation point. I stirred several times during the night and it was raining but with little wind.. As I write this around 8 AM the sky is blue with puffy clouds and we hope for a god day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

MP3 X 2

Terry Stephan

Changing Lanes:MP3
I love electronic gadgets. When I was a kid, my imagination was fueled reading the comic strip, “Dick Tracy”. He had a two-way radio, which looked like a wristwatch. The idea that any radio could be that small was mind-boggling.
I had a radio my uncle gave me when I was twelve, my first major electronic gadget. It was a huge shortwave radio, it was just an all-business microwave oven-sized galvanized metal box containing glass tubes and wires. It had a twelve-inch speaker mounted on top and it must have weighed forty lbs. When you turned it on, you had to wait a few minutes for it to warm up before you could listen.
It gave me my first exposure to foreign broadcasts, commercial transportation communications, and best of all, rock and roll.
I didn’t know how it worked, but the sound was great, it brought me the world.
A few years later when I was 15, my first paychecks went for a stereo “hi-fi”. My stereo would play LP’s, 45’s and the old-fashion breakable 78’s. It looked like a suitcase covered with wood-grained contact paper. The ends of the suitcase contained the speakers, they would swing out on hinges to face forward or, you could lift them off and move them away from the turntable to give the sound, ‘stereo separation’. It even had an automatic record changer. I could stack four albums (my complete collection) on the spindle and listen to the first side of each album, uninterrupted. It was an hour of Bob Dylan, Donovan, Peter Paul & Mary, and Janis Ian. I could flip them over, reload and listen to the second four sides.
I set the stereo up in my bedroom on a flimsy stand. Several times, my basset hound Red knocked it over. Scratches on the vinyl music brought thoughts of my clumsy dog Red back to me, years after his demise.
Through the years, I jumped through the technology hoops; I bought new albums, then portable music in the form of eight track tapes and players, then cassettes. When we arrived at compact disks, I thought we were at the end of the road; technology was complete. CD’s have perfect digital sound; you could listen to them on the road, and they took up little space.
The first cut of the first CD I ever listened to was from an album I knew well, the classic Eagles’ hit, “Hotel California”. I loved the song and the group but I’d never heard all the nuances or all the guitar licks. I was stunned at the sound quality.
Over the years, Emmy Lou and I bought numerous CD’s. We gave them to each other when a present was required and asked for them when people wanted gift ideas. What better gift is there than music?
Now people download their music from the internet. They store hundreds of albums worth of music on their hard drive back-ups, often smaller than the size of a cigarette pack.
Emmy Lou and I again are jumping through hoops, keeping up with technology. We gave each other MP3 players for Christmas.
My MP3 player is just a bit larger than a Zippo lighter. It includes FM radio. I have six audio books downloaded on it from the library, and while I don’t know how it works it brings me the world through podcasts from all over. Best of all, I have all my CD’s on it including lots of rock and roll..
We’ve come a long way since I was a kid, My MP3 player does a thousand times what my shortwave radio did and weighs just ounces.
I still haven’t seen one of those Dick Tracy two-way radio wrist watches..
ChangingLanesTerry@gmail.com or comment on my blog at http://changinglanesterry.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My New Girl..

Terry Stephan

I am seeing another woman. She has long dark hair and hazel eyes. We meet on Mondays, but she wears me out for half the week. She pushes me to perform physical feats that Emmy has never tried to make me do.
This sounds exciting but I’m often reluctant when the weekend is closing and it is time to see the young lady again. I’m as shocked as anyone that I’ve begun this liaison with another woman.
OK, I’ll fess up. The true nature of my Monday meetings with the other woman is almost as shocking as what I’ve tried to make it sound like in the paragraphs above.
The young woman is my trainer. I never thought that after spending most of my life’s work performing physical labor I would have to go to a trainer to get into shape. Had I considered it, I probably would have thought I’d need a male trainer who could push me into doing the things necessary to loose weight and gain better health.
The idea that a man could coerce me into doing something difficult more successfully than a woman could, is one of the silliest misconceptions I’ve found kicking around in my head. Being married, I should know better.
‘Trainer Girl’ is what I call my new health instructor. I use it here to protect her identity as well. The moniker looks politically incorrect and a bit disrespectful when I write it on paper, but I hadn’t thought of it as being discourteous. It’s one of the nicer names I call her early in the week. For a couple of days after our appointed get together on Mondays, the little-used muscles of mine that she has called into service cry out in pain. She is great at her job and I respect her intelligence but I have nothing nice to say about her on those days.
I pat myself on the back. I come up with some extremely inventive and earthy descriptive phrases for Trainer Girl, none of which should appear in a family paper. On Tuesday or Wednesday, if I do strenuous activity like picking up the remote or lifting my arm to raise that drink, there must be a bit of ringing in Trainer Girls ears.
I suppose it would be better to call her something like “Trainer Woman”, in the vein of “Wonder Women”. Maybe ‘The Six Million Dollar Lady’ would sound better. The way she crackles and pops with energy and enthusiasm, I have no doubt that Trainer Girl could start doing crunches today on a bet, and you would have to stop her sometime tomorrow so she wouldn’t hurt herself, or damage her bionic parts.
Trainer Lady has helped a lot. She is knowledgeable concerning nutrition and exercise. When I do things her way, I feel much better. Since I started seeing Wonder Woman Trainer Girl, I have lost weight and gained muscle mass.
She has a sense of humor. Just for fun, she makes me sit on the edge of a rubber exercise ball to do ‘crunches’ (I always thought of them as incomplete sit-ups). She positions me on the ball in such a way that makes my undershorts ride up, giving me a severe wedgy.
Besides receiving the extremely uncomfortable wedgy, my socially unacceptable, fat belly sneaks out from under my tee-shirt each time I lay back to start the next wedgy/crunch. They don’t make tee-shirts long enough to cover my abdomen while it is in training.
When doing certain exercises, Trainer girl often tells me to draw my belly button close into my spine. I get a chuckle out of this. My belly button has spent the last thirty years distancing itself from my spine. I don’t think the two will form a close relationship anytime soon. I’ll keep trying to introduce them.
Wish me luck, or at least a longer tee-shirt.
Comments? Changinglanesterry@gmail.com
Or http://changinglanesterry.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Corn Hill

Betty and I are in ROchester doing the corn hill arts and crafts festival. This supposed to be a profitable show. Last year it rained much of one day, alternating with sunshine which made it hard to breath with the humidity.
Yesterday started with a substatial sale before opening time, then it rained heavily for most to the afternoon washing out any possibility of a good Saturday. We had high hopes for today but an hour from closing we are a long way from a profitable show..
The people are great including the ones who live here (they leave there door open when not at home so we can use the bathroom) and the customers are heavy on compliments. Lots of returned-from-last-year customers speak of how wonderful their pieces are from last year but we are just not selling much.
We hate to give up such a nice show but...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rain and then some

We've had rain for more days than not, what a summer. Betty and I are getting ready for a rainy Rochester show, and a hike tomorrow probably in the rain..

Friday, July 3, 2009

To Smoke or not To Smoke

Terry Stephan

Changing Lanes:exsmoking:
A friend of mine is trying to quit smoking. I was a heavy smoker for twenty years, three packs a day. Years before I quit, I remember brooding over the expense. It cost a nickel every time I lit a cigarette. I felt guilty about the money taken from my wife and kids, never mind the health issues. At today’s eight dollars a pack, I would be paying the equivalent of a hefty monthly mortgage payment.
Some smokers are overly defensive about their habit. At the mere mention of it, their hackles rise. I have all the empathy in the world, even for diehard smokers.
I was a belligerent smoker, but I never rationalized smoking as many people still do with the silly, ‘I-enjoy-smoking-and-anyway-you-could-be-hit-by-a-truck-tomorrow-so-why-quit’ attitude. I resented the inconvenience of ‘smoking areas’ becoming fewer and out of the way. At the time, it seemed a cruel roadblock to my habit.
As our country was moving towards smoke free workplaces, I was delivering freight to various warehouses in Western New York. One by one, the old haunts became non-smoking.
I refused to accept the concept that while backed into a loading dock, my truck was part of any building that banned smoking. As far as I was concerned, they could do what they wanted, I lit up in the cargo box of my tractor-trailer while I stacked freight or waited for forklift operators to unload the truck. It soon became a problem when warehouse personal, most of whom enjoyed tobacco, caught on. They would stop to take a cigarette break. My popularity rose and I didn’t mind them joining me. Sometimes it gave me an advantage over non-smoking drivers. I would often get quicker service, my truck unloaded faster.
Smoking in my trailer at a non-smoking warehouse ended when a dock supervisor couldn’t find anyone on the dock one day. I was stacking cartons when he walked into my trailer. Four of his men, who had been standing around or leaning against the wall smoking, immediately picked up cartons and pretended they were helping me stack freight. Supervisors aren’t always the dumbest kids on the block and he knew as well as anybody it doesn’t take five guys to stack freight on a pallet. In fact, too many people would be a detriment to finishing the job.
After that incident, I was regarded a troublemaker. Management at the warehouse decided I was no longer welcome at their dock if I or anyone else smoked in my trailer.
At another building, I could smoke on the first floor where I backed my truck in and on the fifth floor where the company office was located but not on the freight elevator in between. I would unload on the first floor. Heading to the fifth floor to take care of paperwork, instead of tossing the butt I was smoking, (didn’t want to throw that nickel away), I would ride the elevator up, cigarette in hand. I thought I could hide it behind my back easily in the rare case of someone else getting on.
In another of a series of embarrassing unfortunate events that is my life I got on the freight elevator alone, it stopped at the second floor. This was new. As the doors slid open, I cupped the cigarette in my hand and put it in the pocket of my jacket. The owner of the building got on, preceded by eight young men and women, I later found out they were prospective hires. He was giving them a tour of the business. I stood in the corner. Several glanced at my jacket where smoke curled out of the pocket. They all knew I was smoking, the air was thick, and no one said a word.
I was thoroughly embarrassed and I’d like to say I quit immediately but I smoked for years afterward.
I did however quit smoking on elevators.
Comments? ChangingLanesTerry@gmail.com
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Saturday, June 27, 2009


Betty and I sit in a parking lot on the Roycroft campus. It is not a bad place to stay. I am being careful, trying to run the generator as unobtrusively as possible. We don't want to ruffle any feathers, because we want to be able to stay in this lot in the future, if we are allowed to come back again. There are lots of large shade trees and it is pretty close to our sales booth.
We are participating in a long anticipated arts and crafts show on the grounds here. Today was our first day and we did fairly well, financially. This is kind of a small show and the patron attendance is not great but the people who do come seem ready and able to buy.
One of the great things about this show, it is somewhat like the Keenen center in that they feed you often. We had a nice picnic style dinner after the show today with sandwich meats and cheeses and potato and macaroni salads etc. Tomorrow they have a breakfast for us and I'm told that we will have the leftovers from tonight for lunch tomorrow as well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I write a column for a couple of Western NY weekly papers. I am proud of that, it allows me to call myself a professional writer. I don't get paid a lot for those columns but from what I've heard the going rate is for other stuff , my pay isn't bad.
I try to write humorous columns, preferably having nothing to do with real news. I think people can use a respite from the nasty news. What happens tho when I am in a funk and a deadline approaches. I always end up with a column but often it is written through a bad attitude haze lurking behind the words.
This week is one of those times. I feel as though I've accomplished nothing note worthy in my life and all my personal relationships have gone to shit. I needed to write this somewhere so here it is..... I'll try for a 'sweetness and light post later in the week.

Monday, June 15, 2009


This weekend Betty and I did the Allentown Art Festival. As with most shows we heard a lot of different reports as to the success for the various vendors. This is our third year, we were right in the middle income wise- better than last year and not as good as the first year we were here.
Sunday was a day of smaller items, which we are just as happy with. Betty gets a bit worried if we sell several large pieces in just a few weeks, she worries she won't have enough of them for the season..
She sold one large necklace on Saturday. It would be nice to sell just one of her larger masterpieces each show..

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

For Yvonne and CPAP Mike

I wrote the following in 2005 and have given up completly on the CPAP machine. It may help a lot of people but I lost more sleep contending with the machine for two years than I gained from it. Emmy Lou now uses ear plugs and no amount of noise, including the alarm in the morning wakes her...

Pig Snout.
I’ve been using a CPAP machine for a year or so. It is much like a small vacuum cleaner, operating in reverse, the air being pumped to your face via a hose and mask. Worn while sleeping, it is the most recent cure for snoring and/or sleep apnea.
I first became aware of a problem when my wife began poking me every half hour or so as I tried to sleep. It seems the intensity of my snoring started the windows and wall paneling to vibrate which in turn made plaster flake off the ceiling.
The first step towards acquiring a CPAP is a visit to the sleep study center. There, you view an informative video tape (read infomercial) which depicts a man taking his sleep study and then happily wearing a CPAP. It looks like a huge clear plastic pig snout strapped to his face with a flexible hose sticking out the front.
While the device couldn’t appear more uncomfortable, he proclaims that now he has extra energy during the day and implies an abundance of sexual stamina. I’m sure he is very appealing to his wife in his pig snout.
Next, at the sleep study center, you take your own sleep “test”. This involves wearing 42 wires attached to your body, and a camera, high on the wall above, watching as you “sleep”. Wires fastened to your skin are attached with little heavy-duty post-it notes that have extra strength adhesive so when pulled off they perform the same function as hot wax hair removal. A dozen or so of the wires are stuck on your scalp. They use extra thick Vaseline that reacts to your hair much like warmer than average bubblegum might.
Needless to say, with all the wires, the camera, the goop in your hair, and the strange bed in which you can only lie in one position with out pulling hair from your chest, you really don’t sleep very well, if at all.
About two AM a nurse comes in and installs a CPAP to the front of your face. It’s now a full four hours after your bedtime. You’ve wrestled with the wires most of the night, lying with goop in your hair. Even though some one is looking at you on a monitor in the other room, probably laughing at how you look with a pig snout on, you drift into a fitful coma of sorts.
In the morning, when I was done with my test, the nurse asked me if I needed to take a shower before I left. She had just pulled the wires off, my hair felt like I had a few sticks of butter squished in it.
“Yes I think I could use a shower.”
The doctor concluded from my test, that I am a shallow breather, and I snore too much. My wife could have told him that. The Doctor, of course, didn’t stay up all night, he just studied reports of the results from the things which were wired to me.
My pig snout video he added to his collection of party tapes.
* * * *
I have a love-hate relationship with my CPAP machine. It is a pain in the pancreas to wear the pressurized plastic pig proboscis. But, when I sleep the night through, with the CPAP in place, I really do have more energy.
It isn’t as loud as a vacuum cleaner, but it does makes a little noise. It would probably help lull some people to sleep. I like to be able to hear the nighttime noises of an old house, the refrigerator and heat kicking on and off or gentle creaking on a windy night. I lose some of that with the machine on.
I sleep better now, not great. Often I wake up because my wife is not so much poking me as feeling my face or chest. As I wake, I think she might be getting frisky, perhaps the pig snout is attractive. Just maybe the fellow in the sleep study video with the snout on did have a reason to smile. Then, I realize she is just searching for my pulse. Apparently, the absence of my snore is deafening.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kenan Arts and Camps grounds..

SO.. I write this while camped just off the Kenan Center's rear parking lot pretty much in the middle of Lockport NY. This 25 acre 'campus' is a shining example of someone's bequest hitting the mark it was intended to.
Old mister Kenan, who was born in 1896 left his mansion and these grounds to advance the arts and education of the people of Lockport and surrounding areas.
The complex houses an arena, the mansion- which serves as an art gallery, and a small theater of 153 seats. THere is a fledgling little theater.
Betty and I are here for "One Hundred American Craftsman", where Betty and 112 other craftspeople exhibit and sell their wares. There is no 'buy and sell' and no junk, these are serious crafts as art people. And,
It is a relatively quite place to camp. We've done far worse.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Nameless in New York

I should have listened to my mother.
Recently I applied for an enhanced driver’s license at the NYS Motor Vehicles Department in the county office building in Little Valley. They would not process my application because I didn’t have my original birth certificate or a stamped, certified copy of that document.
I never saw my original birth certificate, but in 1967, I obtained a certified copy from the Bureau of Vital Records in downtown Buffalo. That copy dissolved years ago.
I applied for a new certified copy. A woman at Vital Records said I couldn’t get a copy of my birth certificate because my name was spelled differently on the original, from the name I have been using for as long as I remember.
“Terence” was on my original birth certificate; “Terrance” is on everything else. I don’t know when I began spelling it that way, but I’d had no problems for the first five decades of my life and expected none now.
I recall a time in the early 1970’s my mother saw my driver’s license. She remarked that I spelled my first name wrong and I should fix it or I would be in trouble. It was a characteristic mother-type warning, not unlike the advice concerning clean underwear when you leave the house.
As a typical know-it-all, just out of my teens, I tossed her concern off with a condescending tone. I said, “Oh Ma, what could go wrong?”
At that time, I had been using the name ‘Terrance’, for twenty years. For two letters, I was not about to change a thing.
The Vital Records woman in Buffalo informed me that things were different from 1967. Terrorism and Osama Ben Laden were mentioned. I needed legally, to change my name in my home county. Back at the Little Valley courthouse, I learned I’d have to pay $210 to have a number stamped on a court order to officially change make the change. I also needed photo ID, proof of home address and a CERTIFIED COPY OF MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE.
I explained I was changing my name so I could obtain said certified copy. After much discussion and several calls from the county to the City of Buffalo, Catt County decided it could take my $210 dollars. Vital Records decided that while they couldn’t give me a copy of my original birth certificate, they could fax one to a civil servant in Little Valley.
I was to go home and await the court’s decision.
The approval came in the mail and I was instructed to go back to the Catt County office building to pick up an official copy of the order, which I could take to Olean to be published in the Olean Times Herald.
I can only guess the purpose was to see how many people would object to my name change from Terence to Terrance. After all, it is an important question for all the residents of Cattaraugus County.
A few days later, a publication affidavit arrived in the mail and it was back to Little Valley. I was becoming good friends with the security guys. We exchanged pleasantries and personal information about our respective families.
There were more trips, Little Valley, downtown Buffalo. As I write this, I am back up to where I stood in 1967. I have a certified copy of my Birth Certificate with the original wrong spelling on it. I’ve skipped the enhanced license and now am trying for a passport.
The paper work is in Albany. It will be “reviewed”; I could have my birth certificate within four to six months.
My mother passed away years ago. I like to think she is somewhere, observing and enjoying my misspelled-name-trials-and-tribulations. I sense more than hear an ephemeral chuckle and a fleeting “I told you so.”
That’s Ok, it’s well deserved, I should have listened..
Comments? ChangingLanesTerry@gmail.com
Or http://changinglanesterry.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 15, 2009

Solitude: NOT

Emmy and I travel often in our truck-camper; we do a lot of ‘boon-docking’. Loosely defined, this is free camping with no electric, water, or sewer hookups.
We have stayed places from the sublime to the ridiculous. Sublime places include the little-developed North Rim of the Grand Canyon. With not another human or vehicle in site and possibly the most spectacular scenery in the world, we camped a few feet from the canyon’s edge. We picked a comfortable rock on which to sit and toasted a stunning sunset. Early next morning, I sat on the same rock before dawn, savoring the sunrise with my coffee.
We’ve spent lopsided nights here and there. A rainstorm-turned blizzard drove us off a mountaintop not too far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Facing the prospect of an extended, snowed-in stay, we carefully picked our way down the winding dirt/rut road to reach a snow free altitude. Around 2 AM, we found a wide spot in the road but the camper slanted at a stiff angle. Emmy could not hang onto the high side of the mattress so we both occupied my side of the bed in the morning.
Recently we were traveling near the George Washington National Forest. On the way, we stayed in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Warrenton, VA. The store closed at 11PM and the little town seemed to close up. It was as quite a spot as could be.
The next day, Thursday, we found a National Forest campground near the Virginia/West Virginia state line. It seemed our kind of place; it had water and a sanitary dump but nothing else, no phone, no electric, and at ten dollars a night, it was cheap by today’s standards. The only other campers were occupying one large campsite with four tents. The tents housed thirteen teenagers. We took a spot on the far side of the campground.
I thought the kids looked to have escaped from the homicidal-maniac-teen group home. Emmy thought they looked like your standard teenagers. As it turned out, I had pessimistically pre-judged as usual. They played a noisy game of hide-and-seek; it took place throughout the campground in the afternoon. Thursday night, they were quiet after ten PM or so, proving to be a well behaved group of homicidal teenagers.
Friday was a different matter. A family with four children, ages three to nine settled in near our camper. After dinnertime, people began to arrive at a trailhead, across the road from the campground. They had tents and small campers and were setting up illegally in the day-use parking area. Unknown to us, it was a party spot. The later it got, the louder the assemblage became, and not in a good way. Around midnight a group of young men began arguing, which escalated into a fight. There were screaming threats of violence and lots of foul language.
When our own kids were young, we tent camped a lot. Taxpayer funded campgrounds, similar to the one we were in, provided us with a cheap and safe form of recreation for our young family. Sadly, as funding for National and State Parks slows to a drizzle, the personnel who used to be around to enforce campground rules and keep a semblance of order have also disappeared.
In our camper, with solid walls that dampen noise and provide some security, the “party” across the street was very loud and intimidating. I felt sorry for the family next to us with only nylon tent fabric between them and all the raging turmoil not far away. The raucous noise must have kept the soundest sleepers wide-awake.
It is a shame to look back and realize that a Wal-Mart parking lot was a better place to stay than a National Forest Campground.
Comments; Changinglanesterry@gmail.com or

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Conversing face to face, my talent for debate is at best sub-par. My mind doesn’t function like the well-oiled ratcheting and clicking of gears portrayed in scientific journals and cartoons. My brain works more like ketchup. Sometimes nothing will come out at all, and then there will be a big spurt and a mess. I often end arguments in retreat, tossing over my shoulder, “YEA... WELL..., YOUR MOTHER WEARS ARMY BOOTS.”
Emmy has heard so much about her mother’s footwear over the years, we seldom get into a debate anymore. We do however email each other a lot. I like communicating via email because of my ketchup-like mind and my proclivity for putting my foot in my mouth. With email, you can choose your words carefully and then click “send.”
We both have separate “offices” in our house. I use the word ‘office’ loosely; they are two small spaces where we stay away from each other. My office is a large closet on the second floor, her office is a portion of the basement we call the “dungeon.” She has a desktop computer down there and I have a laptop upstairs.
Before I retired, I worked long days; Emmy had the house to herself and our conversations were limited to a short time in the evening. My presence now, at home all day every day, is something she often laments. With a sigh, she will suggest I leave, “You should visit that Clyde guy you used to work with.”
I never worked with anyone named ‘Clyde’; it’s a shot in the dark, she’s hoping she’ll come up with the name of someone I used to know and I’ll miss that person enough to leave the house.
I don’t know why she wants to get rid of me. Most days we only see each other in passing before we actually dine together in the evening. We can’t help but be involved with each other’s businesses so we email information and personal communications to one another two floors apart. My official title in her business as Chief Lackey means I take care of a portion of her paperwork. I also do heavy lifting and logistics for traveling and camping.
As I write this, we are ‘on the road’ in our nine-and-a-half foot truck camper, selling Emmy’s jewelry. We are traveling to Arts and Craft shows in the Carolinas and Virginia.
Six weeks in a camper is a long time for two people to spend together. Our floor space is two feet by seven and a half feet. Like a public meeting, it works well when we adhere to the one-person-standing at a time rule. There just isn’t room for both of us to be making breakfast or getting dressed at the same time.
Convicts have more room. If we traveled with a live chicken, the authorities would arrest us for the inhumane treatment of animals.
Close proximity doesn’t help us communicate any better either. We complete applications and registrations, and receive approvals and ‘booth assignments’ online. Our office space is a shared 23-inch by 32-inch dinette table, beads on one side, computer on the other.
We switch sides on occasion, she uses my computer, but I don’t touch the beads. I already know far more about seed beads and jewelry than any man should know. I can barely see the tiny things.
Sometimes while traveling, we check each other’s email. Emmy was checking both of ours’ and said she had just received the latest information on spaces at an upcoming Arts and Crafts show. I was reading a novel and absently told her to send it to me. I realized I was telling her to email the communication from my computer to my computer. Something’s wrong with that.
We might have to start talking to each other.

Monday, May 4, 2009


In my slightly dyslexic mind, the first time I heard the word Kinesiology, I heard Sneezeology. The letters and the syllables are similar, just mixed up a bit. The science of Sneezeology would include stuff you’ve heard already, like the amazing velocity and distance a sneeze can travel. More in-depth studies could tell us the difference in turbulence between the center and outside perimeter of a sneeze. Maybe that age-old question could be put to rest; how many are injured each year, sneezing while their eyes are open?
My wife went to a chiropractor who used Kinesiology as a diagnostic tool. The chiropractor had Emmy hold her arm horizontal to the ground. He pushed down on top of that arm. The arm held firm. When the Chiropractor touched a ‘pressure point’ in the middle of her forehead, the outstretched arm was easily pushed down. Two of my friends had similar experiences at the Chiropractors’ office as well. I respect these people so I figured there must be something to Kinesiology and the “pressure point” theory.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Chiropractic profession. I’ve had debilitating back pain relieved quickly, several times over the years by a Chiropractor. If they could make me feel so much better in such a short time, I figured I should lend an open mind to their ‘diagnostic tool’, Kinesiology.
I had a chance to see a demonstration of that science first hand the other day. I went to a talk given by a Chiropractor, a lecture on understanding cholesterol. She also supplied scientific information regarding Fish Oils, CoQ10, Niacin, and Statin drugs.
It was interesting and informative. We learned much about nutrition and related health matters.
Our speaker explained the relevance Chiropractic adjustment had on internal organs. For instance, if your spine is misaligned, it will affect nerves going to your organs, in turn causing them to malfunction. That makes sense to me.
As a rule, Chiropractors take a more holistic approach to medicine than say, a General Practitioner. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the information the young doctor gave. From Triglycerides to Red Rice Yeast, she seemed to have a vast knowledge about her subject matter.
She performed the ‘pressure point’ technique on several people. It appeared valid. I could believe it, after all Emmy and my friends had experienced the same reaction. The pressure point stimulation seemed somehow to make their arm muscles go slack.
If the demonstration ended there, I would have walked out; satisfied that Kinesiology was a superior discipline to my own, made up science of Sneezeology.
Alas, before I could leave I stepped in a big pile of Applied Kinesiology. The Chiropractor performed another demonstration. A woman held a bottle of water against her chest with one hand, while the doctor pushed down on her other, outstretched arm. The arm wouldn’t go down because, the doctor said, the woman’s body knew the water was good for her. Then the Chiropractor told the woman to hold a sub par bottle of vitamin supplements to her chest, the outstretched arm pushed down easily. Apparently, her body knew the pills were no good. To me it smacked of voodoo.
I asked the Chiropractor to try me. Maybe I could figure out a sensible cause and effect for the water verses pill connection. I failed both the pressure point test and the ‘bad pill’ experiment. My arm did not relax and drop in either test. The doctor said I was fighting the response. I say she pushes harder when she wants someone’s arm to fall.
There are multitudes of things I don’t know, so perhaps the jury is still out; but for now, I’ll stick with Sneezeology.
Comments? Changinglanesterry@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

About Stinger

“Stinger’s Country Kitchen” was a diner in Ashford Hollow, 10 minutes south of Springville. It is one of many mom-and-pop businesses closed now, as we as a nation have become chain-restaurant oriented.
Stinger managed the restaurant for two decades, until poor health made him give it up. His given name was Richard, but when he opened the restaurant, he gladly laid claim to the nickname “Stinger”. ‘Stinger’ is slang for the electrode holder used while arc welding, Dick’s previous occupation.
Early on, trucks plied the route past the diner, Dick installed a Citizens Band radio, and his CB handle became “Stinger”. This further solidified the name he was widely known by, for the rest of his life. Truckers called their orders in from the road, via CB radio and breakfast would be waiting for them when they walked in the door.
The restaurant was Dick’s long-sought vision. He bought a fancy high output rotary oven with shelves that moved like a Ferris wheel. He served homemade bread and pies and sold baked goods for “take out” as well. Several restaurants used his products on a daily basis.
Stinger’s breakfasts were known for their abundance and quality and he had many ‘regulars’.
On busy mornings, Stinger would work the huge flat iron grill behind the counter. Often, from six until ten AM he wouldn’t have an open chair or table. A dozen or more orders and a mountain of home fries would be on the grill at the same time.
Stinger liked working the grill; it put him in close proximity to the patrons. He cracked eggs and jokes and scrambled insults in with morning small talk, never missing a beat while he flipped pancakes and sausage.
His business was lucrative, people returned to listen or join in with their own good-natured insults and bawdy retorts.
The subject would often turn to Stinger’s lack of hair; he had a litany of comebacks, many implying that his brain was so active, his hair couldn’t sprout, often saying, “Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street.”
Stinger was my brother; he passed away in early April.

Dick and I worked at a welding fabrication shop before he opened the diner. He was an artist in his own right and created toy tractors, windmills and conceptual pieces of art from heavy chunks of scrap metal. He made toys for my two young boys. I use “toys” loosely, no one wants to see a four-year-old play with a fifty-pound toy tractor, made from heavy steel square tubing and expanded metal.
Throughout, we were both competitive and cynically agreeable. We wheedled each other for the past thirty years over who was the better welder, he or I, that and who had more hair. He was bald but accused me of “combing over.”
I never did tell him he was the better welder, but he knew it. He never admitted I had more hair.
Joni Mitchell wrote, “…Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till’ it’s gone...”
That’s true about the mom-and-pop restaurants and it’s true about Stinger.
Comments? Changinglanesterry@gmail.com or

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


This was a column I wrote, gleaned from my experiences at Arts and Crafts shows..

I assist my spouse Emmy Lou with selling her jewelry at Arts and Crafts shows. I enjoy the shows, her bead and leather creations provide supplemental income for us. There are drawbacks; we work many hours on show weekends, often missing other events. I skipped my high school reunion recently because I didn’t want to leave Emmy alone at a “too busy” Columbus weekend show in Letchworth State Park.
Working closely together brings out some interesting facets of a relationship. Emmy and I sometimes discuss issues in what we would call a friendly “spirited fashion.” Others might call it “bickering.” It works for us.
Like many small businesses, most of the venders at the Art shows are committed couples or families working toward a common goal. There are decisions to be made, lots of room for differences of opinion.
A while back, Emmy and I set our booth up next to a very nice woman in her sixties. ‘Marie’ (her name changed to protect me), was set up when we got there.
Marie sold among other things, chakra stones in soft cloth bags. Her business name was similar to, ‘Gentle Yoga Stones.’ I don’t remember the actual name.
As usual, Emmy and I were ‘spiritedly discussing’ while setting up. The walls of our booth (a 10x10 tent) stop no sound so we keep even our most severe disagreements relatively quiet. If our ‘discussion’ becomes too heated, we change the subject. I try to interject some levity and Emmy comes up with a fake chuckle or two. We come back to the disagreement later. We fear becoming “those people”. A shrink would have a field day with us, I’m sure.
Emmy was interested in the chakra stones as something she could incorporate into her jewelry. I swear she would bead around a live turtle if nothing else were at hand.
Over the weekend, many people stopped at the ‘Chakra’ booth. Emmy and I eavesdropped and learned about Chakra and its related stones.
Chakra means wheel of light in Sanskrit. The Chakras are seven power points in the human body that circulate energy.
I don’t think us veering away from a loud ‘discussion’ during setup fooled Marie. When few people where visiting our respective booths, she would come over and explain improvements a certain chakra could have on a person and their relationship with others.
In her soft and gentle manner, she explained how the proper use of the stones would lead to more balanced physical and mental health. They could also help with spiritual development. She was calm and centered, kind and gentle.
As the two-day show ended Sunday afternoon, Marie’s husband showed up to help her dismantle her booth and displays.
The two of them worked quietly together for a few moments inside their booth. All of a sudden they began arguing. Soon, the gentle yoga lady was screaming. She was unhappy with the way he packed merchandise. He was sick of her complaints about the way he packed.
Their argument escalated, she wanted him to stay with her at the booth more often. He wanted to relax after working all week. They could be heard all over the park.
Even after the protective cloak of the tent walls came down the fight raged on.
The last time I saw Marie and her husband, they were in the parking lot, a teetering load on their flimsy four-wheel cart. At that time, the fight was about keys to their van and who had handled them last.
We never did get any Chakra stones. I don’t think they help.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I have not posted in a long time, I've had a few nasty weeks. On the Friday of our Greensboro show, just as we were closing down I got a call from my nephew- my brother passed away. Because of the difficulties in tearing down a show booth and because we couldn't do anything about it anyway we stayed for the rest of the show and got home Monday night. Dicks funeral was Tuesday and since then I have been playing catch up with bills and auto repair and the minutua of everyday day life. I've been in a fog of depression since, day by day realizing how close we were everytime I think to pick up the phone and call him about a recent news event or just what is a good substitute for molassas..

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why make this stuff??

Set up day.. We don't do inside shows as a general rule, so the thought is it must be a lot easier when you don't set up a tent. It didn't seem much easier when we did the first couple as 8x10 and now that we have gone to 8x15 it seems down right complex.
The producers of the show offered Betty a corner booth and a half for nothing. All we had to do was move down 10 feet (to the corner). I was making a trip to the camper for some poles. Had I been there I would have jumped on the chance.
Betty had spent the better part of three hours figuring out how to lay out our space and we had just gotten all the major components (shutters) fastened to one another and she didn't want to figure out a corner, or tear apart what we had done. I don't blame her.
There is always things you think you should do a bit differently- move this shelf here, that display there. What is going to help sell best?? We will know Sunday afternoon..

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Baby Steps

It started like any other day, just a few chores. We stayed overnight on the Collosium complex grounds in Greensboro- a definite no-no. No one questioned us about it and we paid for tommorow to Saturday night for electric only and water at a hydrant that they have put a pressure valve on. At forty dollars a night we don't want to stay there any more than we have to.
Betty wanted to get more material for her display and there was no Goodwill stores in Greensboro. We went to what was supposed to be a thrift shop and it is now a bridal shop, Out side by the back door were some used building materials one piece of which was a 36 inch full louvered door. Our display is mostly louvered shutters.
Betty started to drool over the door and of course wanted it for our display. I asked and the door was ours. We put it in the camper and that left little room for us.
I needed a haircut desperately so we stopped for that (I listened to four woman chatting away in barely perceptible English for half an hour-) and then we did enough laundry to get us through the weekend and headed home. Each time we stopped we had to take the door out and lean it against the out side of the camper.
I started to take off the hardware and when I screwed one of the door knob backing plates off just a little, tiny ants started to swarm out of the door. I put the screw back in.
We stopped at a hardware store and got some "piss-ant" spray then went back to the Coliseum to take off the hard ware and put the door in the utility trailer. I had to constantly spray the little ants dead. I was able to slip the door sans hardware across the ceiling of the trailer on top of everything else. If we had to move the trailer it would destroy a bunch of other stuff. It will have to be pack differently to go home with us.

Betty started an Etsy site four months ago and never sold a thing till a week or so ago. All things she had listed on Etsy (Ebay for crafters) can be put in a suitcase. She has sold three items. We just dig them out and find the nearest Post Office and send the stuff from the road. I think if we wanted we could live on the road..

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I write this sitting in the parking lot at the Greensboro NC Colosseum sports complex. We drove down from Warrenton VA where we spent the night in a Wally World parking lot. Yesterday we went to the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly. I spent six hours leisurely examining everything from a retired Concord, space shuttle, to a single seater helicopter.
Thursday we set up for the show here. This show is rated higher than the rest in Sunshine magazine so we hope we do well....

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Warmer Temps, colder temps.

This was our 2nd day in Chantilly at the Dulles Expo center. We are doing well compared to some. We made our booth fees on Friday, which is always a relief. We did not do as well today but that is OK. We made some money.
One more day here and we have to head for Greensboro, NC. It is certainly going to feel like we are headed in the wrong direction, going south instead of North.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Of Geese and Men

I am writting this from a geese-filled parking lot in Chantilly VA. Maybe they saw the rain slicked lot in the dark and thought it a nice pond to land on.
Yesterday was the mad rush, well OK not so mad of a rush. These GIlmore shows have turned out to be pretty relaxed as far as settin up. Even though we set up a booth and a half this time for the first time it worked out pretty well. We are mostly set up for our Chantilly show.
We bought 2 extra shutter panels at Home Depot and stopped at Goodwills all over VA looking for lace curtains, of which Betty got a lot..
I bought 4 more lites, bringing our total to 9. There must be some sort of wierd mathmatical formula, when you increase your booth space by half you need more than twice as many lites. We went to Wally world again last nite and bought two more of the clip-on lites we are using for display and another 4'x5' carpet for the booth.
The math is off, even with carpet, you should only have to buy half as much square feet of carpet when you increase booth space by half but twice the square feet of carpets are just going to cover..

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rolling Virginia

Virginia has been revealed to us this trip as never before. Betty and I have spent a lot of time in this state but seen more of the northern part of the state around Washington DC. Traveling the 'boonies' in southern and western VA has opened out eyes a bit. It is far more agricultural and far more horsey than I thought. I ofton think of Western NY state as more rolling hills than ideal but VA may beat us out there.
We are at Bull Run regional park, about twenty minutes from our next show. Friends who live not to far from hear came and took us out to dinner last night, we had a great time...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What do beads have to do with camping?

In our weekend off from our tour of Arts and Crafts shows, Betty and I are exploring some of Western VA. We have been in and around the Shenandoah National park and its Skyline Drive and George Washington National Forest.
Betty doesn't want it to get out, she is terribly depressed because we are in a KOA campground. It is the nicest one (in our view) than most. Usually KOA comes in cuts down all the trees and paves the ground. This one still has trees and some squirrels that don't act like pets. We also have high-speed internet and for $2.75 I got cable, I'm going to watch George Stephanopoulos in a few minutes.

We have always tried to find not only free and or cheap campgrounds, but those away from other people. It’s why we backpacked all those years, looking for the out of the way places. Thursday night we found a National Forest Campground that was pretty nice - $10 a night. Two other sites were taken, one of which had 13 teens and young adults in it.
I thought they looked to be escaped children from the homicidal-maniac-teen group home. I expected to see some wearing t-shirts that read "Old people are best when buried deeply in the ground." As it turned out they started playing hide and seek through out the campground and they were kid of cute homicidal children.
In any event, Thursday night turned out well. The kids were quiet after 11PM or so.
Friday was a different matter. There was a group of small children in tents 3-9 years of age next door to us, they were with their Dad and Grandfather. They were little noisemakers but were in bed by 9. Across the road from the campground was a group of people camping in tents in a big parking lot at a trailhead. They were hooting and hollering loudly until midnight, but the worst from them was some guys yelling, presumably in a fight. It was very loud, for a long period of time and with threats of severe violence.

Keep in mind, Betty and I are in a solid walled camper, it stops a lot of the noise and provides some security. I can't imagine sleeping in a tent with small children, they couldn't have slept through it and I felt terrible for them.
In addition, around 9PM about six college-aged guys came in to a site near ours. The had a loud ATV which they proceeded to tool around the campground in the dark but only for a short time. After that they sat in their tent talking and laughing loudly till 2AM.
It seems more and more that college kids have no consideration for anyone around them. They will have loud boisterous fun at anyone's expense. Again, let me point out that our solid sided camper cuts the noise. Most other people were in tents, which stops no noise. They had to stay up or were woken continually by this crew.
It leaves a bad taste in my mouth for those less expensive campgrounds. It is too bad because if you are a young couple with kids and limited means that is what those federal campgrounds are for, instead you have to deal with miscreants. Probably the only place you should take your kids is a KOA and many do not allow tents, meaning an expenditure of many dollars for an RV.

More from this high paced jewelry tour later..