Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pictures from our yard.......


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THURSDAY: Another two-day discussion.....

WOW.....have yesterday and today ever been busy, busy, busy for this sagging hulk of ME!!!!!! WHEW......perhaps it is JUST because I am a sagging hulk that when I really have to get some things accomplished, it seems like I have been working all the time...??? But......

I was supposed to have the truck back into the shop by 7:30 yesterday morning,......sooo, I got up at the usual time, had some great Starbucks Fr. Roast coffee and then....hopped into the truck and drove over to the Auto Body Shop. Well, I didn't even have to get out of the truck......the owner, Pat Kemp, came over to me to explain that the new front windshield had not arrived at this shop, sooooo....could I bring it back over on Friday morning?? Of course......it certainly isn't a problem this week.....so, back to the house I went.

I awakend the 1st Lady.....and then made haste to get back onto the ladder to complete the half-done task of washing the RV....and I wanted to get it done before the sun emerged from behind the gray clouds. Sooooo, I just did make my deadline.....the sun was present and pushing down on me for that last half hour, but outside of breaking into a humongous sweat, I got the job finished....except for the windows....and that will be done before we head west.

Finished with that at mid-morning, I quickly drank a couple of huge glasses of replacement water...and then the 1st Lady and began the task of loading the truck with particles of fence sections, as well as the broken patio table, and the Direct dish which had been damaged by the falling trees. And then, we were off to the other side of town...the location of the town "dump".....and within about 10 minutes of arriving, we had been assigned our "turn", backed it in and then threw it out the back onto the ever growing pile of......yep, you guessed it...shit!!! Back to the stick and brick....and another load of fence pieces which filled the truck, just as the 1st load had done. Back to the "dump".....and after another 20 minutes we were home.....dirty, a bit sore from the lifting and "dumping",and very, very HOT!!!! We had met the deadline, as tomorrow is the final day of FREE dumping of storm related items!!!

The remainder of the day I found myself immersed in communications by emails, computer chat line, and telephone .....all for the reunion of all of my former students one year from now. Sooooo much must be done, but as I have stated......just the locating of everyone, as soon as we know exactly WHO must be notified......it is such a huge task.

I continued to work on this project until 11pm last night, contacting various people and chatting with others. And.....soooo, my evening was just as busy, but in a different way, as the entire day.

THURSDAY:

Up this morning, my usual mug(s) of that dark, rich elixir.....the morning rituals, and then a morning of work around the house. I paused twice during the morning to make lengthy phone calls to two couples in Eldon......parents of band students of mine....and huge supporters and workers for the band in our trips to Rapid City, S. Dakota...and Daytona Beach, FL. I wanted to inform them of the upcoming reunion.....and get the necessary info so that I could contact their family members who were in band about this event. Each call lasted at least 45 minutes......so that about took up the morning.

This afternoon it drizzled off and on the entire time. We did have a visit from our contractor for the roofing job....and OMG.....he will be here about the middle of the week to get all of our work done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW......that will be great!!!!!. We can now leave on the 12th of August for Estes Park, leave the RV in storage in Loveland, and then after our week in Estes Park, we can then hook up, and go on up to Wyoming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yep....finally.....a return to one of my very favorite states, as well as visit some life-long friends from the USAF days of my Life. I am soooooooo damn excited!!!!!!! We will be there for the remainder of August and all of September....YEAH!!!!

I also made the reservations for our flight and hotel for our week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico the first week of November. Think I nailed a great price....as with all taxes for both flt and hotel, the flt from STL to Phoenix to Puerto Vallarta and return, 7 nights in the Riu Vallarta....a really super hotel on the beach WITH all meals and all drinks we want for the $100 each per day...total. Feel GREAT about that, also!!!!!!!!

Now to get our schedule set for October....as we now have to get dates settled for our trip to Hartford, CT and NYC. We have a couple of dates that have NOT been set that we are commited to during that month, and then figure out our trip east and get the reservations!!

Soooo, tomorrow back to the auto body shop with the truck in the morning, take the Park Avenue to a tire shop to have the tires rotated and balanced and then...hopefully get the lawn mowed, or at least started after the grass dries out. It is raining now...and the grass has grown quite a bit with these rains, so it will take longer to dry out....UGH. Then.....the RV must be waxed...before we make the trip out west....and I HATE to do that....but, I like the results when I am finished.

Sooooo.....another day is coming to a dreary close, but a day that has brought good news to us, and a day that saw us finalize some travel plans for the next few months......and, as always.........

LIFE IS JUST INCREDIBLY GREAT!!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TUESDAY: WOW....this day has not been for relaxing!!!!

It was starting to steam outside early this morning.....such humidity in the air. However, before even the morning rituals....and after only ONE cup of Fr. Roast coffee....I was outside and climbing a ladder to begin washing TheHowserHouse on wheels.....as task I do not enjoy, but one that is always necessary in order to maintain the cosmetic appearance which I want. Soooo, as the sun crept over the house across the street, I hurried along, knowing full well that it would soon be too hot to be washing the sides of the 5er by hand. I managed to get it half done....the back end and the left side, which both had been in the shade. My plans were to finish it this evening when it cooled down.......

Afterwards I returned to the a/c....and took care of the morning rituals....and omg, but was that shower a welcome relief as I was dripping all over the house as I hurried to the bathroom for a shower.....soooo damn hot out there. Then....I relaxed a tad over my Fr. Roast coffee mug.....and read some emails that seem to be pouring in each day.......

Emails from former students who are re-connecting with me through the Facebook band reunion site. An email this morning, that I initiated after this former student had randomly discovered this almost-daily blog site......and she wrote last night about how her Life has gone since she graduated in 1984...from Eldon HS. It was sooooooo wonderful to hear from her and to learn about her Life....the bumps in the road and the successes over the past 25 years. She now lives in California....and is a nurse with a beautiful little girl. She is planning to be at the reunion next summer and that is sooo great as I am anxious to see her once again....!

This reunion is just taking off with a Life of it's own!!! And.....I am sooo excited about all of it...the plans that are being made....the ideas that being discussed....the interesting and fun clothings items that are being sold on the FB band page for fund with which to help put this reunion all together...........soooo much work by so many great students of mine from over the 30 years!!!! I am sure you will be hearing more about this as the time moves forward....and, as we all know.....time just goes faster the older I/we become.

This afternoon....showers...thunder....and the 1st Lady returned from Farmington where she had gone with some of her "girl" friends for lunch at the Bauhaus Kaffee shop. As always, they have a great time with no end of discussion topics, from what I hear!!

This evening, after a pizza for supper, she and I went outside and sawed into halves, each section of the privacy fence which had blown down and across our yard. It has been stacked up for two months.....and this week appears to be the last week that we can take debris out to the "dump" without paying a fee......soooo, we are getting our rears in gear to get everything taken out there this week. I had six sections of fence which was destroyed....but, couldn't get the entire section into the truck with the 5er hitch in the middle of the bed. Sooo, we just took a small hand saw and sawed through the horizontal posts...and voila!!! We now can get them moved out and away from our stick and brick!

Soooo, my body is sore, my arms are aching and screaming for relief.....washing the rv...and sawing for almost an hour on the fence sections. But.....progress is good....and sooo, it has made this a good day, albeit a busy one. However.......as I always say......

LIFE IS JUST INCREDIBLY GREAT!!!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday: A beautiful day, albeit much warmer and more humid.....

Yesterday???? Yep.......???? Hmmmm, why can't I remember yesterday????? The 1st Lady and I took our usual two mile walk.....we have been walking almost every day this past week.....and it is nice to feel sooo good after that 30 minute power walk, especially after coming up that last hill to the stick and brick!!

The day just flew by.....without any real progress on any project. I did manage to remove some old caulking under and along the slider door that leads out to the patio. It was wet underneath and so I decided to let the sun dry it out before applying some new caulking. Not having any "good stuff", I made a trip to Walmart to get some early in the afternoon. On the way out I felt very good about the condition...the almost-new condition of my truck since it has been painted, a new tailgate put on, and the inside cleaned with very sparkling windows, of which a couple are also new.

Returning to the stick and brick......we just kicked back and watched a movie during the late afternoon......"Gran Turino"....which I enjoyed thoroughly. What a lesson it leaves you with.....about how just learning and experiencing people of a different culture allows you to push past those prejudices that you might have had about that culture.......a very good movie!!!!

Then I had to take the movie back out to Walmart.....and on the trip out and back I noticed...for the very first time I might add.....several small white-like marks on the new windshield....almost like when we have had windows that the seal breaks and moisture collects inside between the panes of glass. Well.....this doesn't have two panes....and so I just could not figure out what was going on.......getting back to the stick/brick, I tried to wash them off from inside and outside....and they remained. WEIRD!!!!! They are there, but the light has to hit the windshield at just the right angle to see them....????!!!! BUT, they are there and do not go away.

TODAY.....I was up early as I had an appointment to have new front brakes on the truck at Duncan's 4X4 Shop in Doe Run....about 25 minutes from here. Soooo, being ready to leave early, I awakened the 1st Lady as she had a Dr.'s appt in Farmington....and then I took my truck over to where I had it painted and the new items installed ....Kemp's Auto Body. Talking with the owner, Pat.....I showed him the windshield with the faults in the glass....and he agree, that it is a faulty windshield.....and then yesterday I had also discovered that the right outside mirror could not be adjusted by the switch on my door panel. Soooo, he gave me an appt. for Wed morning to get ANOTHER new windshield installed, along with getting that switch fixed. This is the third windshield I have had in the past year!!!!!!!! UGH.

Then....30 minutes later I was in Duncan's shop....and began the 2.5 hour wait on the truck to have the new brakes and calipers installed......$322.00 total!!! UGH....another costly day in the shop!!!!! Oh well......it is only money.....hmmmm.....!

This afternoon I found myself taking an unscheduled nap....for a bit over an hour. I had been reading this Tom Clancy novel.....a rather long one of over 900 pages paperback....and just fell asleep...not from the novel, but from just being....sleepy me.

We decided to grill some burgers, have some more of that wonderful, golden corn on the cob, sliced another home grown tomato(not at my home),.......and the burger and juicy red tomato on a fresh Ciabatta bun......ohhhhhh sooooooo gooooood!!!!!! Mouth is watering right now just remembering the incredible flavors of that sandwich!!!!

Tomorrow....I have scheduled myself to begin the task....a not so easy task.....of washing the RV....with a wax job for me to within the next week. UGH!!!!!! OHHH how I hate doing that, but it is necessary. I also have to clean the awning.....some dark ugly mold has appeared on the underneath side....and that MUST go quickly!!!!! Now....I see that rains are arriving here tomorrow afternoon and for the next few days.......not what I need just now. And....I also need to mow the damn lawn again in the next couple of days. How in the hell did I get all of this done when I was working......working soooooo many long hours each day, and most time on Saturdays, also!!! WHEW!!!!

And soooo......two more days of my Life has disappeared....never to come around again! I can never regain these two days......and it does make me wonder just how many days I will have to enjoy.....sure the hell a lot less than I have already experienced during these past 66 years!!!!

But.....you know........

LIFE IS JUST INCREDIBLY GREAT!!!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday: Two days........

Yesterday was a very busy day.........we had dinner with Mike and Becky in Charleston.....and as always, we did some cooking. Soooo, I was up at 7am, broiling some 2 inch thick rib-eye steaks, broiling lots of thickly sliced mushrooms, and then grilling four of those incredibly delicious chicken brats that the 1st Lady picked up at Sam's Club a few days ago. She made a wonderful fruit salad with fresh watermelon, grapes, blueberries, bananas, oranges, and who knows what other fruit was in the container. We also took fresh corn on the cob, fresh purchased home grown tomatoes, cinnamon muffins and banana bread. Yep....lots of food and we grazed for five hours while we were there! Had a great time, too much food, and we were back in F'town by 10pm......tired, stuffed, and not ready for bed with such expanded guts!!!

Today.......we had storms off and on during the day and evening, with the most rain falling this evening after a light supper.....at least an inch, probably more. And....it is still thundering around our town as I type.

For the most part.....I just kicked back and relaxed today. It was hot and humid, depending on when the sun popped out.....and it oftentimes became very, very steamy outside. I did spend an hour, under the umbrella, in a patio chair(that was not destroyed)....and OMG, I fell asleep!!!! What an old sagging ass I have become!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This evening we fixed a wonderful light summer supper: fresh picked corn on the cob, locally grown tomatoes, some wonderful bacon which I cooked in the oven....I cook it that way all the time now....soooooo easy and sooooo crispy and soooooo wonderful with lots of bacon grease to use at a later date. We had some Ciabatta and Semolina fresh artisan breads....and so we made bacon, lettuce, and tomatoe sandwiches to enjoy with the hot, juicy corn-on-the-cob which was slathered with real butter.....ummmmm,....damn, but this was all soooooo delicious!!!!! WOW.....how I enjoy the wonders of the fresh veggies during the summer!!!!!!

In regards to the upcoming reunion: Mr. Howser's Music Fest which will be held at Osage Beach, MO on July 30-Aug 1st of next year............two of my former students who live in the state of Washington and played the tuba in my early 80's Eldon HS band got together today for a meeting concerning this reunion. Would loved to have been there....but in seeing the "minutes" of the meeting, they are ready to roll with ideas and thoughts about music performances at this Music Fest next summer!!!!!!! Plans for a concert band of all former students(who can still blow a horn?), small group performances, jam sessions, and perhaps professional ensembles that my former band students are now performing with from around the world. Both of those two tuba players are still performing professionally.....one with his own performing group and the other one who has been playing for over 20 years with one of the US Army Bands, currently at Ft. Lewis, WA. As each group meets to discuss plans for this huge event......a unique event as no one has ever heard of a reunion of all former students from one teacher........well, I become more and more excited at this possibility!!!! We cannot at this time begin to know just how many may be there.......we still have hundreds left to locate and inform them about this event. Again.....if anyone reads this, you can go on FaceBook to: "Mr. Howser's Music Fest" a group site on FB for more information. We will soon have a regular webpage and I will link to it from here soon.....

And so.......a good two days.....and, as always................

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday: Another beautiful day!!!!! Enough said....

Yep.......same old time to pull my sagging body out of bed this morning......same old French Roast coffee which filled my mug three times before 10AM......same time to awaken the 1st Lady......same breakfast of Oatmeal and warm milk.....and then the day began!

A bit after 10AM, the 1st Lady took me over to Kemp's Auto Body Shop....and there was my friendly Ford F350 sparkling in the bright sunshine. Oh yeah.......that new paint job, the new tailgate, the new side mirrors, the new front windshield and windows on the right side, the new decals........it seemed to be a new 2001 truck!!!!!! It just looks sooooo great!!!!!!! They have an excellent crew there at Pat Kemp's shop....and they outdid themselves on my truck, without a doubt!!! Certainly looks better than when I bought it back in December of '03!!!!!!!

Returning home, it was time to get to work........and that I DID!!!!! For the next almost four hours, I worked my sagging ass to get the yard mowed....and after several bottles of water during a few breaks......I finished about 2pm.....and was I ever hot and sweaty. Oh no...the temps were in the mid-80's, not much humidity, BUT.......no trees in my yard for shade and no clouds in the sky to block the very strong sun which followed me no matter which way I turned in the yard........it was there!

After that......I spent the next couple of hours just kicking back and relaxing.....and by 4pm here, I realized that it WAS 5pm somewhere and so I took a couple of doses of my dark red medicine, along with some great artisan bread which I dipped into some EVO...extra virgin olive oil.....into which I had added some salt and pepper, and several herbs and a dash of this and that....and it certainly tasted great!!!!

The 1st Lady went to Farmington for a "girl's night out" with her former teacher friends, sooooo......I got out the George Foreman Grill.....the kind that drains off the fat, should be there some. Yesterday afternoon in STL, I had stopped at Trader Joe's, and purchased a loaf of freshly bake Ciabatta bread, so......I sliced some locally home grown tomatoes, went out to my herb garden and plucked off four large basil leaves, sliced up some fresh mozzarella cheese....put all of these items on the Ciabatta slices, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled some salt/pepper over them and then closed the top of the grill, pressing down on it, and let it cook for about 4 minutes to toast the bread and melt the cheese.....and VOILA!!!!!!! An incredible panini hot sandwich!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Soooo good with another glass of cabernet sauvignon...and so I coooked another sandwich and it was even better......OMG, it was sooooo damn good!!!!

This evening I caught up on a couple of episodes of the Top Chef Master, or whatever the hell it is called.....and really enjoyed these segments. They now have the top six chefs for the final competition.......just a really great hour on Bravo!!!!!!!

And sooooo, the day has been gorgeous, and.....as always.......

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday: An ugly, wet morning turns into a beautiful late afternoon/evening in STL!!

Oh yeah.....the morning was not very promising, very low clouds, gray, wet, but decent temps did work in concert with the rest of the morning uglies. Spent the morning online working on locating an rv park around Loveland, CO, where I could store our RV for a week next month while the 1st Lady and I vacation with her brother and his wife in their timeshare in Estes Park....and the surround Rocky Mountain National Park. Finally located one.....and the costs are going to be.....only $10.00!!!! GREAT deal......

After a bite of lunch, I assisted the 1st Lady with her attacks on the weeds/grass that have grown up between the slaps of concrete and asphalt of our driveway.....and we did get them all removed. Then.....I cleaned up this sagging hulk of Me....and went into STL. Did a bit of shopping at Trader Joe's, some looking at a couple of stores in the Galleria area on Brentwood Blvd.....and then met Dustin Merrill, a former band student here in F'town, who after graduating from Mizzou is now a Patent Engineer for a well-respected and known law firm in STL. We had a great dinner on the patio of The Cheesecake Factory.....and lots of discussions of various topics during the dinner. It has been at least three years since we have found the time to get together.....and it was really great to have a couple of hours to just sit and talk......about his Life...and about mine.

Returned to the stick and brick around 9:45....only takes about an hour and a half from the Galleria.....a very easy drive.....about 95 miles each way. It is a great area of the city.....and always enjoy wandering through the many varied stores along Brentwood Blvd. The more I am in the city, the more I think about us moving up there. It certainly gets depressing living in a town with one grocery store that doesn't stock much of anything except the bare essentials.

I am to pick up my newly repainted truck in the morning.....anxious to see how it looks!!!! Then I need to get new front brakes installed next week.......am I getting anxious to get on the road??? I sure am!!!!!!! Beginning to think about fly fishing in the mountains of Wyoming......and then.....I remember the last time I did that !!!!! I fell into a hole....and broke my right arm!!!!!! Hmmmm.......and we had to remain at the foot of the Big Horn Mts for a couple of extra weeks until I could drive with my left arm.

And so......it was a gorgeous evening......great for sitting outside to enjoy our dinner......and, as always..........

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday: Yep.....it was a lazy morning.....and a rainy afternoon/evening....

Oh yeah......up again at 6:30 this morning.....my always, great cup of Fr Roast coffee soon afterward and then time to read the online newspapers until 8am when I woke up the 1st Lady. Later.....a breakfast some good bread and butter/blueberry jam.....and then a bit more coffee on the patio. Cloudy...and with the threat of heavy rain later.....brought me inside to begin working on some travel plans for the next few months.

First off.....is our trip west sometime next month. I began to do some research as where we can store the Cedar Creek RV for a week down below Estes Park....in either Longmont or Loveland...and each time I made a phone call to all three of the rv parks that might store it for me, no one answered......was it a plot amongst the three of these parks to not answer MY phone calls today??? Hmmmm....surely not...but a conspiracy theory began to form in my mind...haha!!

Then....I called my life-long friend from my USAF days in the 60's about his son's wedding.....what he had discovered in his plans and the costs of them.....so I could compare it with my projected expenses/costs for the 8 days we are thinking about being gone to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in November. We discussed the trip and how great it will be to be together for a few days in Mexico......perhaps more time than we have spent together in years and years!

Then.....I began to make some tentative plans for our trip from the RGV in Texas where we will spent the three months of winter......to our son's wedding in Mobile, Alabama, now scheduled for the first weekend in March. As I may have mentioned, it appears that it will be large wedding......as we understand there will be 12 bridesmaids.....and that the Mobile Art Museum is a possible setting for the wedding. More on this as we learn the definites of a real southern wedding!

A bit of research was then done on the possible trip of ours to New Zealand in April.....still an idea that is taking on a bit of shape in our thoughts and discussions and conversations, but not a definite quite yet. Lots to think about....to lay out plans for....and to research costs for the flight, car rental for a month, and then tentative itinerary plans for that month to allow us to see as much of the two islands as possible....and perhaps make the necessary reservation for the ferry from one island to the other.

This afternoon, the 1st Lady decided to go ahead and file for her Social Security.....she had not done so as yet as she was calculating the difference in doing it now.....or at a later year. But, after crunching the figures with the small amount she will receive, since in MO teachers do not pay SS, except the Medicare portion, her piddling amount of SS is then reduced to only 40% of what she is due since she did not pay into it during her teaching career. Soooo, she filed the paperwork today.

Then we went to Farmington to the Bauhaus Kaffee shop.....that wonderful place I talked about a couple of weeks ago. Her first time.....and she fell in love with the scones with her tea. Again, I visited with students of mine who were there.....and had that wonderful large cup of cappuccino that they do sooooo wonderfully there.

On to the local movie theater where we watched/endured the latest Harry Potter film. My god, but how exhausted I became of the dreary, dark, grayish color of the film for such a lengthy time....not color to speak of....and such a dark feeling each scene seems to embed in the viewer. The earlier Potter films were better......at least in my belief!!!

Home again......in the rain, which came down all afternoon.....and then some more emails about the trip to Mexico, as well as a phone call to my friend.....and think we will make our reservations tomorrow????!!! I need to check out the costs of renting a car for perhaps a week.....but, have some questions on insurance for the vehicle while under my control!

Sooooo.....the day was a quick one......not much accomplished, but busy trying to accomplish something all day long!!! But........still, it is just as I always say.........

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday: And...another beautiful day for Missouri during July!!!!!

WOW......and they just keep coming along......these gorgeous, almost dry, moderate temps and great blue skies........right here in the latter part of July. How lucky can we be??? I wonder.......

Today, I was up, finished the morning rituals, and then after a couple of cups of hot, French Roast coffee, I finished reading the morning, online newspapers, made a couple of phone calls....and then hit the patio with a vengence. I had a plan: to complete the cleaning of the concrete and get the patio ready for us to get a new patio table and chairs within a week or two.

And so....I poured out a couple of gallons of Clorox over the stained and darkened concrete......let it sit....and SMELL.... for awhile....and then took the pressure washer and spent the next three hours finishing the cleaning......and, WOW....does it ever look nice and clean!!!! By shortly after lunch, it was finished and ready to enjoy this afternoon......

I called our insurance adjuster for the RV insurance.....and the claim was processed as I talked to her...and the check will be in the mail tomorrow. Now.....to get TheHowserHouse in line to get the necessary cosmetic repairs completed.......when...when...when??????

The 1st Lady arrived about 3pm.......having stopped at Sam's Club in STL, she had a vehicle full of food and other goodies..........and after assisting her in the unloading, having some discussions, and hearing her strong approval of the way the patio looked.......we decided that it was 5pm somewhere.....not here.....and so she had an Amaretto Sour....and I had a couple of glasses of my dark red medicine, sitting under the umbrella on the patio, enjoying the soft warm breezes and having a great conversation about her days with her mother...and her sister, who was also there.

We decided to eat a light supper and so I lit the charcoal grill.....and soon was grilling three large brats.....chicken brats with asiago cheese and small chopped pieces of spinach inside these brats. I was just a bit hesitant about them, but she had tasted them at Sam's Club......and OMG.....they are tremendous!!!!!! A bit of Dijon mustard on them....just a small amount....and with some fresh corn on the cob, freshly grown tomatoes purchased from a vendor here in town.....and another glass of cabernet....and our light supper was complete!!!!!

This evening I had a phone call from my OLD USAF buddy who lives in PA.....and we were discussing his son's upcoming wedding in Puerto Vallarta, MX.....in November. I told him that we are planning to attend....as of this point in time....and he was excited that we are going to fly down to be there. Our thoughts are to be there for about a week so we can check around about rv parks as we have always wanted to drive down with TheHowserHouse and stay there for a winter, and this is an excellent opportunity to check it all out, as well as enjoy the wedding festivities!!!!!

It is forecast for some rain for tonight and tomorrow.....and so, my activities in the yard are probably going to limited, if any at all. We could use some rain....and then by the time it dries, it will be time to mow the damn grass/weeds again!!!!! However.......better that than dead, brown grasss.....

And sooooo, as always when I finish the day and look back to review my day......I realize that......

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Meghan.....9 years old!

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She could hardly wait to get her hands on those crab legs!!!

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She LOVES those crab legs!!!!!!!

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Sunday: A great day....for me!

OK....for some reason I have evolved into something that I do not like: writing every other night instead of daily!!!!! At this present time, my Life seems so....soooo...well, BLAH!!! Nothing of any interest is happening...and when I sit down to write, I think to myself....what the hell (and I have cleaned up this phrase/verbage) have I done, or has happened, that would interest anyone who reads this???????? And soooo.....yesterday???? Today????



Yesterday....I was slightly dismayed by the cloudy and windy and VERY cool weather. Yep...you heard me, you read it correctly......after all of that god-awful heat and humidity I am now writing about the cooler temps. However......I had BIG plans to clean the concrete patio yesterday, power wash the house siding, etc., etc. all dealing with the use of cold water. And.....I just was not in the mood to get my body wet in the brisk winds and very little sun for most of the day yesterday. Soooooo, I just hung out and didn't do a damn thing!!!! As I would, and have often, told my students........"May a thousand nasties fly up your nose".....as excuses are for losers, solutions are for winners.

Today.....well, I had volunteered to run down to Cape Girardeau and watch/take care of, my granddaughter Meghan. She has been a house guest at Becky's where she can play and enjoy being with her cousin, Rachel for the last few days. Dr. Jeni and Darrel flew to Hartford, CT for a long weekend with Jeremy/Anne-Mare...on Thursday....and have been to the beach in Rhode Island...and yesterday and today, they spent with Jay and Anne-Marie in seeing NYC. They fly back to STL tomorrow..... Sooo, Becky and Rachel had a commitment today to be gone for a few hours, so I went down to Cape to be with Meghan.....and, to do that, I had to borrow a vehicle to get there as the truck is STILL in the body shop....and the 1st Lady is still up in Monroe City. Soooo, I borrowed one of the Goldsmith's cars.....walked the 1.5 miles over to their home to get the car as they were in STL for the weekend, and then after returning to the stick/brick for a cup of coffee to go with me, I was in Cape by 8:45 this morning. It was a GREAT walk as I left here before 7am....and it was a gorgeous morning!

Soooo, after Becky and Rachel left......Meghan and I went to Lowe's to do some "window shopping" as I am still on the hunt for a nice, but not overly expensive, patio table and chairs. Not finding anything there, except Meghan having a discussion about all Lowe's stores all look alike...haha....we left there and went to Barnes & Noble Bookstore. She wasn't sure that she had been to one before, but I later learned that she has been at one. Anyway....she looked and looked at all of the books, we discussed many different locations of books and how they were stacked by topics....and then I took her to the children's section. Here.....as a very intelligent 9 year old, she sat down and looked through several books, we discussed some of the kinds that were there, and then I walked into the Biography section just beside the children's section. Soon, she came out to where I was...and then by that time I had found a book entitled: "Spanish for Dummies".

Well......she has always had a love for learning Spanish and so she immediately wanted me to purchase it. She took it to a chair and began to try to read the phonetics of the Spanish phrases.......she is anxiously awaiting the time when she can study Spanish in school!! Ahhhhh......when wi;; educators do something about teaching other languages in the very early elementary schools when the kids can learn a different soooo quickly??????? By the time they get to High School.......it is toooo late!!!!!!

From there we went to the Red Lobster for lunch. WOW.....does she ever love that restaurant!!!!!!!!! She could hardly wait to order crab legs......yep, she loves them!!!! So, I ordered a pound of the snow crab legs for her, along with salad and baked potato. And......as soon as they arrived she was grabbing the crackers....the tool with which to open the legs up to get the succulent meat. And.....she devoured the entire pound, most of her salad, and a couple of those delicious cheese biscuits. I had the fried shrimp which was better than in STL a week or so ago.

It was a wonderful four and a half hours of just her and me......a time to get to know each other better, to discuss books and reading and Spanish with her, as well as eating all kinds of good food items. It was a portion of the day which I will not forget......we bonded more....and we learned much from each other........just a great time!!!

I returned to F'town, returned the vehicle, walked back to the house, and then went to work on the concrete patio for about an hour. This evening.......I have spent reading the daily newspapers, watching a few shows on the tv. I did catch "60 Minutes" and watched a marvelous and captivating tribute to Walter Cronkite........just a beautiful piece of work. If you didn't see it....try to find a copy of it......sooo well put together!

And soooo, the 1st Lady returns tomorrow afternoon......after a few stops in the STL area for some shopping. I hope to hear some "finished" news about my truck, the Buick needs the tires rotated and balanced, the truck needs some new brakes, the house needs a new roof, we need a new BBQ grill and patio furniture...and....and....and....and, we would like to get away from here by the week of the 10th of August for a few weeks. We may now drive right out to Coloado to spend a week at a condo with the 1st Lady's brother and his wife....and then go on with the RV to Wyoming to do some visiting and fishing in the mt. streams.

Today was a wonderful day.......one that will remain with me for quite some time, if not for the rest of my Life.......and this week is a busy one for us. But, you know.......we need to stay busy so we remain young....heehee!!!!

And, as always.......................

LIFE IS JUST REALLY INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday......nicest weather day in weeks and weeks!!!!!

WOW!!! and another....WOW!!!!!! Today was incredible......cool, bright blue sky, breezy, and no humidity and more of the same tomorrow. Tonight in the mid-50's!!!! Can't get much better than this in Missouri during July!!!!!!!! How long will it last......hmmmmm!!

Yesterday went by in a blur......can't really remember too much ...guess there was not much of any consequence that happened. The best thing was that Jeremy/Jay's fiance's mother called and talked with me, to introduce herself and to chat about future plans. GREAT that she called and am anxious to meet her. She and I were going to meet for a drink in Washington DC during the Inaugural events, but she became ill and couldn't make the trip from Mobile to stand in the freezing weather for hours and hours and hours.......so, we didn't get to meet.

The 1st Lady left yesterday afternoon to go to her Mother's......and today she took her to Quincy, IL to the hospital for tests on various parts of her body. Seems OK so far.....and she had no problem with taking the tests.....which could have happened as she is allergic to soooo many different things/meds that they give in order to perform the tests.

Today......I spent the entire day in the yard: raking twigs, leaves, pieces of bark from the trees, etc., etc. all along the curbside. And then......I took the dirt that we had in a bricked in flower "box" along the side of the patio, tore down the bricks, and then took the dirt and used it to fill in the deep gouges in the back yard where our neighbor's trees fell into our yard....and their limbs went deep into our very wet dirt/grass/yard. Sooooo, most of these deep gouges are now filled up....and they will settle down some, I know, but at least it is a beginning for the yard to begin to heal THERE. The curbside is a different story.....what with bobcat tracks in the yard, truck/trailer tracks from the tree cutters/trimmers/ who came that first week and cut up the fallen trees, and of course.....the huge pit in the front yard from where the 200 year old maple tree was uprooted. All of that will have to take a load or two of dirt to begin it's healing processes.

The remainder of the afternoon I worked on getting the patio cleaned up....still tiny pieces of glass everywhere from the tree's crashing onto the patio table/chairs......and then I had to clean where the dirt had been on the old concrete. THAT I want to replace SOON......with flagstones, bricks, other flat stones, etc., etc. and enlarge the patio a bit. Ahhhh......always something to do when you own a house!!!!

Had a visitor....a former student, Chuck Lee, who is a band director in a school district in the north section of STL. We sat on the patio as the sun went down with wine and coffee.....and lots of conversation. Usually, he...or I...are always on the run when he stops by and we never have any time to just sit and talk....but, this evening we both had the evening to enjoy with drinks and conversation.

Then a great chat with another former student on Facebook chat line......he also is in STL as a Patent Engineer for a law firm in the city. We were always good friends when he was in high school here.....he was a percussionist..a good one....and he also went to Europe with me while in school. We are going to try to meet in STL next week for dinner and drinks......HOPEFULLY!!! Did learn he read this every morning as part of HIS "morning rituals".....hahaa!!!!

And soooo, the days have gone by....I am two days older than I was when I last wrote this little post on here.......and my body is screaming bloody murder at me tonight from all of the "work" I did outside in the yard today. With the 1st Lady out of town, I may have to call 911 in the morning just to help me get my sagging body into a vertical position!!!!!!! It is beginning to ache in a few unknown....until now....muscles!!! But......

As always.........

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WHEW....hot and steamy here today...and then STORMS!!!!

WOW.....I didn't get my sagging rear out of bed until 7:30 this morning!!! Actually, I didn't even go horizontal until 1am this morning, so it is no wonder I slept that long!!! After the 1st Lady was up around 8, I took care of the morning rituals and then had a second cup of that wonderful dark French Roast coffee.

The morning was taken up with some things around the stick and brick, making a run to the post office and a few other stops, and then a bite of lunch. Later this afternoon, by the time it was really nice and steamy, I went over to the new produce market which is open MWF and only on the afternoon for a couple of hours. Picked up some corn on the cob and some homegrown(??) tomatoes....hope they are good!!!!!

Then late afternoon this HUGE BLACK cloud arrived on the western horizon...and soon was totally covering our hill...and then all hell broke loose!!!!! WOW....haven't seen such huge strikes of lightning in a long, long time......and the quantity was unreal!!!! Just one after another.....we were afraid to even go near the windows....and then along with all of this cacophony, the rains that fell must have measure 2-3 inches very easily!!!!! Everything up here on the yard was flooded.....whew! It was soooo dark that all of the street lights popped on and with the heavy, blinding rains...we couldn't see across the street!!!! But.....the power remained on, the DSL remained on, and after about a half hour of this storm, it settled down and then just went east from here.

This evening.....been doing some reading, writing a few emails, and then just relaxing. We had a call from Jeremy's fiance's mother who lives in Mobile, Alabama......wanting to introduce herself and talk about the plans for the upcoming wedding next March. I won't discuss anything as yet......until we know for sure when the plans have been decided and are set in stone. I do get the feeling that the wedding is going to be a rather large affair there in Mobile.....and that will be nice if it is what Anne-Marie wants!!!! I'm all for whatever they really want!!!!!

The 1st Lady leaves again tomorrow to return to her Mother's......as she has some intestinal tests being done on Friday for which she needs some meds which may cause an allergic reaction......soooo, the 1st Lady needs to be there. I am still without my truck....still in the repair shop for the new paint job......sooo, perhaps I can get my exercise walking places????? It will be good for me!!!

We are still planning to go to Wyoming next month.......just not certain how soon we can get away. Back here by the 1st of October for the month....and then in November we will PROBABLY fly to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week to attend a friend's wedding there........have to make up our minds quickly to get our reservations made!

Always making plans, aren't we??????? But, as I have always taught my students: If you don't think BIG, nothing BIG will ever happen!!!!!!! Thinking "small" gets you no where in Life!!!!!

Sooo, before I begin a mini-lecture on Life......I will bring this to a close...and, as always......

LIFE IS REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

A former student....and now a friend that there is never enough time to spend with!!!

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A great meal and a great evening with a GREAT friend!!!!

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Another busy day....and a GREAT evening!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This morning......up at 6:30, made the Fr. Roast coffee....read the online newspapers, and after the 1st Lady was up and moving around, I took care of the morning rituals. Then for quite a bit of the morning hours, I did some manual trimming around the shrubs, flowers, the AMAZING butterfly bush which has grown to about 10 feet all.....and twice that size around.

This morning I talked with Mark Hilke, a former student who now hails from Chicago, and is currently in STL with his son's ball team in a national tourney. We agreed to meet early evening up there....and so, for the remainder of the afternoon, I just kicked back, did some work online, and enjoyed a relaxful afternoon.

Left here about 4pm......HAD, just HAD to stop at the Bauhaus Koffee shop in Farmington and get a cappuccino "to go" and then drove on up to STL...the west end, the Chesterfield area where he and his family were staying at the Hilton Homewood Suites.

After a bit of difficulty, I found this really nice hotel tucked very discreetly back into the trees and shrubs......filled with young boys who are playing in the 158 team tournament. LOTS of people everywhere...the lobby, the hallways, the parking area.......tons of participants staying there.

Find their room, it was soooooooooooo GREAT to see him again, and WOW.......has he ever lost the weight!!!! GREAT JOB, Mark!!!!!!! Keep it going......... We chatted for awhile, and then he and I left Leah and Tom in the room....and went to the Olive Garden.

We never came to a period the entire evening....and it was the entire evening. It was after 10, the doors were locked, before we departed for the hotel again. I ordered a good cabernet sauvignon and the Seafood Portofino: a wonderful flavorful dish of linguine with mussels, shrimp, and scallops.....and it was sooooo sooooo good!!!!!! The salad preceding the main entree was as always in the Olive Garden......really fresh and soooo tasty!!!! And the bread sticks....??? Well, they were hot and just so fresh and buttery with garlic over the top of them.

Mark and I, as I said above, just kept sooo busy talking that the poor waiter had to wait and wait and wait for us to finally place an order from the menu. But...when the food arrived, we did devour it, but oh soooo slowly.......too many things to discuss!!!!!!

And so, I finally left the hotel about 10:30....and drove into the driveway of the stick/brick at midnight...JUST before I turned into a pumpkin!!!!! WOW.....it was soooo good to see him and to visit for those few brief hours!!!!!!! We just have to do this again......soon!!! (Hear me, Mark?)

And so,.......a GREAT DAY......and, as always....

LIFE IS JUST INCREDIBLY GREAT!!!!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

WHAT a tiring day......

Yesterday......rain, wind, rain, rain.....but, we needed it. Soooooo, the entire day was spent inside for the most part. Didn't do too much, watched some tv, took a toooo long nap, and then read abit.

Today....as it was nice and cool.....to start with....I decided to rake twigs and crap along where the downed trees had been stacked......and then spent until 3pm mowing the lawn. EXHAUSTED from the heat....the exercise.....and just being a bit too old to do this in this heat.

This evening.....Sue and Dave Hanner came over for drinks, snacks, and lots of varied conversation!!!!! Right now....I am soooo tired I can barely type this, so will continue in the morning when I can function mentally and physically better.

I am alive.......and, as always.....

LIFE IS REALLY GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

BUSY DAY!!!!

The thunderstorms woke up my sagging hulk......around 6AM....and eventually I pulled myself into an upright, vertical position, took care of the morning rituals, changed the bed sheets and made the bed(as always), checked the weather as the French Roast was dripping, and soon had a great cup of coffee in my hand. A quick check of the newspapers and other early reads online that I do each morning.....and then I began to get things together for my road trip up to Rolla, MO for the noon meeting of the planning committee, as well as the continuing road trip on to Washington, MO, and then on to STL and finally to the stick/brick.

I made a quick stop in the Park Hills area at Griffon's Trailer Sales where I needed to pick up my estimate on the RV....damages caused by the inland hurricane May 8th. Doing that, I then drove on to Rolla and to Panera Bread. I arrived early enough to get a corner area with seating for as many as I thought would be there for our meeting.

And soon.......the arrival of a former tuba player in Eldon HS who graduated in 1986, Byron Pittman, caused a lot of hugging and excitement as we had not been together since he graduated that year. His wife was with him...and, of course, I had not met her before. Then Mike and Melissa Goldsmith arrived who graduated from Eldon High School, but who worked we me as associate band director and flag corps director at Fredericktown, followed by two former students from Linn HS in Linn, MO.....and I had not seen them for 35 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT JOY!!!!!!! Next came my neice and her husband from St. Roberts, but who graduated in 1984 from Eldon HS...and then Cassondra Smith Smothers from Springfield, who graduated in 1993 from Fredericktown HS. WHAT a wonderful gathering of former students who have been working on the planning of the HUGE reunion of my former students which will be held next year.

We spent the next 2.5 hours working on plans, discussing dates, locations, plans, funding, creating a website, etc., etc., etc......as well as digressing into the past down some memory lanes every little bit. Byron Pittman is our chairman.....and I seem to be along for the ride, with the exception of a few thoughts which I had. WOW......sooooooo great to see all of these YOUNG people so involved in making this a success for all of us!!!!!!!!!! Byron has done a terrific job of thinking through a lot possible problems and finding solutions to many of them already!!!! THANKS BYRON!!!

We left around 2:30....and plan to meet again in October. I hit the road...I-44....and drove up to Washington and out to Dr. Jeni's home......and then picked up the 1st Lady. We then drove into STL, stopped for a quick little shopping expedition where we purchased some new panel drapes for the living room....and then went south to F'town, arriving about 8:30pm.

It has been a VERY busy day with varied activities to keep it interesting!!!!!! Sooooo incredible to see those students of mine......from as far back as 1974!!!! WOW......WOW....WOW!!!!!!! Gives me goose bumps again sitting here typing this!

And soooo, with a bit of rain dropping now and again...we need every drop......as always.....

LIFE IS JUST INCREDIBLY GREAT!!!!!!!! WHAT A DAY!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

WHAT happened to the rain we were to receive......?????

Up again at 6:30, morning rituals completed, bed made, my sagging hulk hidden inside cargo shorts and t-shirt, and then.......THEN......the Fr. Roast coffee was done, and my day began with that wonderful aroma and burst of rich, dark coffee in my mouth!!! OH SOOOO GOOD!!!!

For some reason....I found myself addicted to the laptop today. As I watched the clouds slide across our sky here in F'town, the sky getting dark and thick, I just knew.....knew that FINALLY we were going to get some much needed rain. Checking the radar here locally on the internet....these massive red/yellow storms were heading right for us.....YEAH!!!! It became darker still.......and then...what the hell happened??????? There wasn't even one drop of rain...and soon the dark clouds departed, going around F'town, and it was just a light covering of clouds.....and NO RAIN!!!! And that was about it for the day........a few drops that were not even enough to complete wet the sidewalk and streets......and NO RAIN!!!!

AT&T was scheduled to send out a service guy to check on my internet...DSL...as for the past several days it has been going off...and then on, and off....and then on....and this would occur at least once each hour and oftentimes it would just come on.....and a couple of minutes later while I was right in the middle of something, the damn thing would go off again! Well.....AT&T couldn't give me any approximate time for his arrival......just "before 7pm" was what they told me. Soooo, I hung out here at the stick and brick.......reading, and then uploading some more pictures and news articles of former band activities in Eldon and F'town.....all going to "Mr. H's Band Members" on the Facebook group pages.

Finally, he service guy arrived, and was outside, on a ladder, up in the wires a half block away, and then back here in the house. He was here/in the area, for about an hour.....and said he had fixed some things and that my reception should be very good now......and quite a bit faster!!! Well.....so far, sooo good!!!!

Late this afternoon I grilled two large hamburgers with sliced onion that we still have from the large bag which we returned with from the RGV in Texas. They are still really, really good....and very sweet when grilled!!!!! A large glass of my dark red medicine accompanied that huge sandwich and I really enjoyed my evening meal. I carefully stored the second burger for a quick warm-up in the next day or so........

I spent some time this evening writing an article for the Linn, MO, local newspaper concerning the upcoming reunion of all of my former band students. I put out a call through the paper for those students that were in band there for the four years that I was teaching in Linn.....and hopefully, we will find everyone from those years. Tomorrow morning I have to run up to Rolla....about two hours northwest of here to meet with the initial planning committee for a two hour meeting to get things rolling on this huge project.

After the lunch meeting at Panera Bread, I then will go towards STL on I-44 and over to Washington where I will meet the 1st Lady and then we will return to F'town via STL. Should be back by early evening.....???

And sooooo, a day of waiting for tech repairs, a day of waiting for rain, a day of sitting on my sagging ass for most of the time, and a very short evening of doing not much of anything. I continue to enjoy seeing the street once again now that all of the tree debris has been removed......WHEW, what a relief!!!!!!!!

As always.......

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Day that I enjoyed......!

This morning....after sleeping better than I have been doing for the past week......I was up and going strong by 6:30AM. Oh yeah.......who wouldn't want to sleep later than that, but......it just doesn't happen any more. I enjoyed my morning Fr. Roast coffee....on the patio, minus the destroyed table/chairs.....and then as I was reading the morning newspapers at the bar in the kitchen, the phone rang.....

Sue Hanner called to see if I would like to ride with her to Farmington to partake of a cappuccino at a fairly new coffee shop in downtown Farmington, and with a quick side trip to Lowe's. OF COURSE.....have I ever, ever turned down a good cup of coffee????? Hell no!!!!

Soooo, we went up and I had the best cappuccino that I have had in a LONG, LONG time!!!!!!! This little...well, not too little....shop is right on the downtown square...and is just an incredible place!!!! "Bauhaus Koffee"...think that is spell right!!?? Soooo, with a wonderful, freshly baked scone to accompany the coffee (not the other way around), I enjoyed an incredible visit with a former student of mine, Gretchen Pinkley, who graduated from HS in the early '90's and whom I had not seen for years and years. She works there as part of their family business....and let me tell you......it is super!!! The inside is beautiful, in a non-chain coffee house style, with art work on the walls, great variety of seating, piano and guitar to play, reading area.........just a real coffee house with great style and, most of all, outstanding coffee!!!!! GO THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!

After a quick trip/stop at Lowe's, we returned around noon. I did some necessary things here at the stick and brick and then made a couple of errand runs around town. Afterwards, I worked on the Facebook group site: "Mr. H's Band Members" which is up and running and growing almost daily with my former students signing in there. Today I posted more pictures from some band events/trips......

This evening.....I wined and dined on the delicious cuisine of Sue Hanner's......and had a delightful time for a couple of hours of eating and wine drinking. Back here at the stick/brick...I have watered the new grass, plants, shrubs, etc., etc. as I am now in the process of trying to save them from the heat and drought!!!! WOW.....how the pendulum can swing soooo quickly!!!!!

And soooo, a fun day....and as always.......

LIFE IS JUST INCREDIBLY GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The claws make fairly easy work of removing the huge stacks of limbs and branches.



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Preparing to tackle this job of removing the trunk and root ball.

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The little Bobcat makes quick work out of smaller logs that have been laying there for two months.


Sawing it into smaller sections for removal.....



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Trying to get the trunk, which has been chained sawed, to break apart to load into the truck.



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Sections of the trunk go into the truck...


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The claws begin to lift the root ball......VERY heavy!!!


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The root ball is slowly, slowly lifted up and above the truck.....


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The tree root ball almost didn't fit into the truck!!

A few sections of trunk/logs left to raise into the truck....


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