I leave for Bear Spring Camps a week from tomorrow

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Greetings, readers. A week from tomorrow I shall be on my way to Maine. How this year flew. In my mind I already have the list of things to take, which is going to include the Yahtzee game and other small items such a the binoculars and a camera. Obviously I can’t take everything in my apartment, the rental car’s trunk is only so big.

I’ll be taking my computer and music, as always, as well as headphones. It seems that no matter where I go, I need to have my tunes with me. It has been a hot humid summer in Maine, as well as here in Pennsylvania, so I’ll be sure to pack my swim trunks; it looks very much like I am going to be literally jumping in the lake. It is very refreshing when it is 85 or 90 degrees. Now that I am older, it has to be that hot for me to go into the water. I remember David and I as teenagers would be out there frolicking in the water trying to clobber each other with rafts in temperatures in the upper 60s. We were young, wet and having fun. We didn’t care about feeling cold.

I’m definitely going to miss Traci while I’m gone, and she is going to miss me. She has already informed me that she wants to go next year. I’ll have to try to get us a different cabin with a ramp for smoother entry in to the front door.

I expect to catch big fish this year, as well net many for David. We have a pontoon boat for the week, so it will be easier for me to get on and off, and will have plenty of places to sit. The older I get the more I can’t handle the small fishing boats. Another added bonus is that the 50 horse-power engine can get us where we are going twice as fast.

Camp evenings are blocked off for three very important things. My alone time for taking notes for possible new book stories, or just meditating. Yahtzee nights with friends and family. And there will be at least one evening with singing and storytelling with the younger kids.

As for the rest of this week and next, I’ll be filling out a job application on-line tomorrow, we will have a blog post on Friday, and as for next Wednesday I will probably be packing. We will see if I can squeeze one more blog entry in from me before I leave. Fear not though, for while I am gone Rebecca will put new material up every few days. Oh, yes, another year of blogging is not only upcoming but highly anticipated.

Until Friday, I bid you a good couple of days, watch yourselves in this heat wave, take care, and happy reading.

I’m making plans for my Maine vacation and beyond

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Greetings, readers. I’ve been pondering life lately. I think my Goddaughter’s wedding has something to do with this. Now, for Ashley’s family, I promise you I am not envious, but I have been thinking recently about all the things that I won’t be able to do in my life.

Since I have no daughter, I won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. I won’t be able to toss a ball with my son or teach him to drive. Granted, I am missing out on college tuition payments and that is a plus. But there are moments when my delightful cat Keekee and wonderful girlfriend Traci don’t seem to be enough; that there is still something missing in my life. I don’t know, maybe I’m selfish.

For a short while there I thought about going back to college. The price tag pretty much ended that dream. I might take some free courses when I get back from Maine. It will be something to do, something to engage my brain and it would give me the feeling that I am bettering myself. Obviously, I can’t step into a time machine and go back. As I wrote once before in another blog entry, Life doesn’t have a reset button. We must go on from here, learn from our mistakes, and do the best we can.

Last night I started thinking a lot about David’s family, about all the nieces and nephews and their children. I hope in some small way I have been able to enrich their lives. I was fortunate enough to have an uncle figure while I was growing up, Cy Greco. I would see him at camp every year growing up and we would talk on the phone every Saturday for years. I miss him dearly.

Here are some of my plans for the upcoming camp to camp year, August 2016 to August 2017. I want to have a new book ready to publish or have it well on the way to being published. A whole year of just doing the blog entries, though enjoyable, was not profitable. Rebecca and I must start churning out books again, for monetary gain and for my feelings of self-worth. Other things I have been thinking about are how I will peak and tweak my morning and evening routines. I’m pleased that I have kept to getting up early and going to bed relatively early, but there is always room for improvement. Also, I will have to get a grasp on my spending. Something is going to have to go. It isn’t going to be Rebecca, so it might Panera completely or, worst case scenario, I might have to give up Bear Spring Camps in a couple of years.

I feel like my life is starting to come together now. I have a girlfriend, I hope to get a job in August, and I have several good ideas for writing projects to begin when I get home. I even toyed with the popular drink 5 Hour Energy. Although it did make me a little more alert, it also made my left arm twitch. I don’t think I’ll be having any more of those.

That’s it for now. Again, if you are in the middle of the heat wave, please stay cool and drink lots of water. Take care, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

Sorry folks, we’re from Virginia

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Greetings, readers. My girlfriend and I are home from New Jersey after having a wonderful time at my Goddaughter’s wedding and reception. A funny thing happened on the way there though. I didn’t get lost, but I took a couple of roads I wasn’t really supposed to take. Luckily they all headed toward Philadelphia and New Jersey.

The Zipcar rental we had was a delightful Ford Focus. When one Zipcar is damaged, it is usually swapped out with another one in their fleet, and the car could be from any state in the Union. This particular vehicle had Virginia plates. Every time I made a wrong turn, put on the brakes too hard, or almost caused a wreck, I would say out loud to Traci, “Sorry, folks, we’re from Virginia.” She got a chuckle out of that. I’d driven the route once before and now having driven it again, I will feel much more confident driving it in the future if we are indeed invited to another family function at Dave’s house.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about the wedding. It was an outdoor wedding at a lovely venue. Everyone looked elegant, and when Ashley walked down the aisle, with David, my best buddy and brother, I will admit I did shed a tear. My Goddaughter was getting married. Just as the ceremony was going to begin, an ominous storm cloud formed behind the main building. The wind picked up and so did the pace of the ceremony. Fearing soaked clothes and ruined hairdos, the ceremony was pushed into second gear, yet it was beautifully done, and as the wedding concluded just in time, a few pictures were taken as it began to rain. Everybody headed for the doors to get back inside for the reception.

We made our way into the bar area and I told Dave, “I’m going to have a drink. I’m not driving this evening, this is my Goddaughter’s wedding and I’m going to celebrate.” Traci and I both ordered a delicious drink called a Malibu Bay Breeze, which had pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and coconut rum. It didn’t even taste alcoholic. I could have had ten of them. Though with my medications, that would have been a huge mistake.

Throughout the evening I threw caution to the wind and tried to dance on the dance floor. I looked more like a puppet having his strings pulled every which way but give me an “A” for Effort. I really didn’t care, I was having fun.

Two special moments occurred about half-way through the evening. First was my dance with Traci. She is shy and reserved and really doesn’t like to put herself forward in public, but she was having such a blast that she readily accepted my request to dance on the dance floor. The other sweet moment was when I approached the D.J. and requested Percy Faith’s “A Theme from A Summer Place”, my mother’s favorite song, and danced with my Goddaughter to it. I told her that I was giving her and her new husband this song, from me and Grandma Doc. She almost cried. Holding Ashley, dancing with her at her wedding, was one of the proudest moments of my life.

The next day, after a minor vehicle issue, we were at David’s house for brunch and an afternoon of relaxing. Traci and I were so bushed, that we both ended up taking naps. It might have been a little bit rude, but we were tired and couldn’t help it, and everybody understood.

I want to publicly thank here in this forum Dave and Geri Trost and family, for having us at the house, booking our hotel reservation for the first night, and making sure that our stay was stress-free and wonderful.

I shan’t bore you with the details on the ride home because nothing note-worthy happened. As I’ve said before, going away is fun and wonderful but when it is over, I’m glad to get home. Keekee was especially happy to see me. She looked at me as if to say, “Put your bags in the bedroom and feed me now.”

Finally, my prayers, my love. my support go to Ashley Nicole Trost-Levandowski and her new husband Derek. If there is anything I can ever do for either of you, please do not hesitate to ask.

Until Friday, take care, watch yourselves in this heat wave, enjoy life, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Two entries in a row!

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Actually, two entries in a row from me usually means Joe is in Maine, but not today. He is getting ready for his weekend trip to New Jersey with Traci, for his Goddaughter’s wedding, and asked me to do the entry again while he does things like laundry and packing. He is over his cold and feeling much better.

If he was doing today’s post, his topic probably would have been the crash of TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996 as the 20th anniversary is coming up. It is possible that he might still do an entry about it next week. Regular blog readers know that Joe loves planes and simulated flying, and watches shows, like Air Crash Investigations, to find out what goes wrong when planes crash. It angers him when people die because of problems that could have been avoided, and it saddens him when people die when it could not be avoided.

Switching topics, I read a book this week that really got me thinking. It was a novel by Liane Moriarty called What Alice Forgot. It is about a woman who hits her head and loses the last ten years of her memory. To Alice it is the year 1998 and she has to adjust to the fact that it is really 2008. In 1998 she was happily married, pregnant for the first time, with close relationships to her sister and friends. In 2008 she is in the middle of getting divorced, has three children, has a thinner body from a diet and exercise routine, all new friends, and the people she used to be close to are angry with her or distant. She is confused by all the change just a decade made to her life. She doesn’t know her children, and is amazed by how wild and precious they are, with such distinct personalities. She seems to have a full schedule with many projects, school functions with her kids, a lot of appointments; she had a busy life. In the week after her accident, she approaches decisions and interactions in a fresh way, as an outsider to her life, because she doesn’t remember any of the recent history that would have dictated her responses. It seems that a large part of the time she had been angry, tense, bitter, willing to lash out to hurt others, and lonely. When she relates to people from how she felt about them in 1998, she changes the relationships for the better. She doesn’t remember her appointments, so when one comes up she either misses it or has to wing it. Then she gets her memory back, including memories of her children being born and growing, and the real trick becomes to keep the positive changes while not losing the good things from the past decade.

As I read this book, I started to think about what changes have been in my life in the last decade. If I had a pause in time with a fresh slate, what would I want to change, and what would I want to keep? I did lose a lot in the last decade – my church disbanded and I lost touch with my friends from there, my mom and father-in-law both died and I miss them both, I have let my step-dad drift out of my life, and my jobs are completely different. I gained some things too – I am close to my dad, sisters and my nephews and niece, I work with my good friend Joe, and I have a much closer relationship with my dear mother-in-law. One of the things that has remained constant is my love for and from my husband, Darren. I don’t know if I will follow through on these things, but I should see my friend Nora again and visit my step-dad Bob.

The other day I was hanging out with Darren, no TV or books or other distractions, and it was nice. I noticed my mind was racing with what I still had to do that day, and I thought of Alice. I relaxed and tried to think about just that moment and enjoy time with my husband. No history, no future, just him and me. I need to do that more.

If Joe were writing this he would also add something about the people killed in violence these past weeks. The deaths that happened just before the ambush in Dallas, during the attack on police in Dallas, and yesterday in Nice, France. From both of us, to the family and friends who lost loved ones in these events, our hearts and prayers go out to you.

Until next week, stay safe, be cool in the heat, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Joe’s birthday today and he is sick

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Happy birthday, Joe! He is in the room with me but resting. And coughing. Not the best birthday! His cold is getting better, and in fact when he was out and about earlier in the day he was feeling good. He is focused on being over this illness by Saturday, when he will drive to New Jersey with Traci to attend an important wedding; regular readers of this blog will know that the wedding is that of his Goddaughter Ashley. He is so excited. He wouldn’t miss it for anything, so it is a good thing he is over the worst of the cold.

Today is Children’s Day at the Central Pennsylvania’s Festival of the Arts. Children’s booths, entertainment geared toward children, and lots of children everywhere. I met Joe and Traci in Panera at noon, as usual on a Wednesday, and the place was wild. A loud din, full tables, long lines, a couple of children running around, many children yelling, and the grown-ups shouting over the noise to be heard. At one point there was a boy in a stroller making a droning noise for a long time. He would occasionally raise the noise to a screech, then go back to droning, as his parents continued to make their selections and ignore him. Finally the three of us at our table started talking to him to stop the sound. He would not answer or stop droning, but his dad did notice us and picked the child up. That stopped it. Our experience in the restaurant was loud, chaotic, and we couldn’t talk to each other. I was relieved when we left. I usually love kids, but maybe not that many in one room.

The Arts Fest (as us locals call it) will continue in downtown State College and on the Penn State campus until Sunday. Tomorrow in Boalsburg (about a ten minute drive from downtown) will start the People’s Choice Festival, also running until Sunday. Every year these festivals bring a lot of people into our area, and the place gets a feeling of an outdoor party. It is a big event for the folks who live here, and most of us set our summer schedules by it (though some of that is because of changed traffic patterns).

Time seems to go so quickly sometimes. Just next month will be Joe’s trip to Maine, Ag Progress Days, and the Grange Fair and Encampment. I don’t attend any of these events myself, but I know people who do, and it marks the end of summer for me. I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, though, it is still the middle of July. Loads of summer left.

The weather is hot and humid now. Maybe I’m thinking of the end of summer because I am tired of the heat. I know Joe loves hot weather, but I do not. Oh, well. In the winter I will be complaining about the cold, so I should enjoy summer while it is here.

I will close with Joe’s usual ending. We are not sure if we are meeting on Friday, as Joe will be packing that day and getting ready for the trip. We might do the blog as usual, or he might put a quick entry up himself, or I might do another one. Until next time, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

My morning went by too quickly

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Greetings, readers. Some tummy troubles awakened me 15 minutes before my alarm would have gone off, but that was okay for I had gone to bed early the night before. Around 8:00 I was doing the bathroom conga line again. Obviously something I ate the night before didn’t agree with me. To top it all off, then my back went into spasm. Oh, what a joyous morning. I told myself if I hurry up and take two aspirin I can nip it in the bud. By 9:15, I was back working on my computer.

I checked Facebook, Twitter, and emails, the same thing I do every morning, and then listened to music. I always like to have an enjoyable morning free of stress before the afternoon workday begins. Not that work days are stressful mind you, but I have never been the kind of person who can wake up quickly. It takes a long time for my engine to fire on all cylinders.

At Panera I got a treat and surprise. I saw my girlfriend’s sister, who was there having a work meeting. She told me to tell Traci, “See you guys Saturday.” I’m looking forward to it.

Speaking of weekend plans, a week from next Saturday is my Goddaughter’s wedding. Traci and I will leave early that Saturday morning and I expect to arrive in New Jersey no later than 1:00. It is going to be a spectacular day. I wish my Goddaughter Ashley and her husband-to-be Derek all the best.

As far as next week goes, it will be a three-day work week, but Friday might be an abbreviated work schedule. I want to be ready with the proper amount of medication, money and everything else I need, ready to go for the trip. When it comes to traveling I am exactly like my mother was; she didn’t leave anything to chance.

Until next Wednesday, have an awesome weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Fourth of July fireworks and the weather

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Greetings, readers. For the better part of a month State College, PA. has been in the throes of a dry spell. When does it choose to rain? That’s right, the night of my fireworks. Kitty cat Keekee and I wait all year for it, and that evening all we really saw were colored clouds. To be honest, they were pretty but it really wasn’t the spectacular show I was hoping for.

The 4th of July afternoon got off to a lovely start when Traci’s friends invited us for a picnic dinner. They really went all out. Everything was exceptional from the steaks right down to the coffee ice cream. Towards the end of dinner, around 3:00 in the afternoon, I was noticing the cloud getting darker. That was my first hint of a possible rain snafu.

I was home for a number of hours before it actually started to rain. I heard it pounding off my window, checked my clock, which read 7:00 pm. My heart sank. You see readers, as I might have mentioned before, there are certain days and holidays that I really look forward to. The 4th of July is one of those days. It ranks right up there with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and Christmas morning. I usually have a clear view of the fireworks from my window, so I can sit in my own comfy chair and enjoy the display. Not this year.

Could I change the weather? That answer is a big no. The machine to do that has not been invented yet. Humans have to take the weather as it comes.

After the fireworks were over, I made myself a cup of coffee, got on the computer and chatted with friends on Facebook. By 11:30, my finger was hitting the back space key so often that I said to myself, sorry friends, it is time to go to bed. That was my 4th of July.

An upcoming event which I am really looking forward to is the wedding of my Goddaughter, Ashley Trost. I’m a proud Godpoppa. Traci and I will leave via Zipcar on July 16th and get back on the 18th. Then next month is the Maine excursion. I always look forward to that and I hope to bring back new stories for a possible third camp book. I’m going to take a small tape recorder with me and turn it on when I talk to David. Together I am sure we will come up with lots of good ideas. Gee, there went the whole summer.

We will see if I can put another blog entry up tomorrow. I am taking a personal day on Friday for a doctor’s appointment.

Until soonest, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

R.I.P. to Al Bennett Sr.

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Greetings, readers. It is a very sad morning that I am struggling through. This morning when I checked my Facebook page I learned of the passing of a very dear friend, Mr. Al Bennett Sr. Mr. Bennett was a Bear Spring Camper from my mom’s generation and I do believe I have known him since I was 5 years old. To lose somebody that you have known that long takes time to get over. For Mr. Bennett, who was a member of that special Bear Spring Camps family, dealing with his death will take me a little bit longer than usual.

As a child and teenager, I would always see Mr. Bennett on the grass near the beach, sitting in his porch chair, doing a jigsaw puzzle on his card table. That picture in my mind will be with me forever.

The entire Bennett family is warm and wonderful, and Mr. Bennett, the patriarch of the family, epitomized that. He and his wife, Jean, would always greet me with a warm smile and a cheerful hello at the main house while we waited for meal time to begin. He would ask me how my fishing trips were, and what all I would be doing that afternoon. He, like all the campers, genuinely cared.

In the era of Bear Spring Camps happy hours, the Bennetts could throw one with the best of them. They rented the biggest cabin Bear Spring Camps had to offer and there was plenty of room for everyone to enjoy their cocktail and snacks.

What will I miss most about Mr. Bennett? I will miss his warmth, his generosity, his humor, and the genuine love he felt for everyone, not only in his family, but also in his Bear Spring Camps family. Rest in peace, Mr. Bennett. Say hi to my mom and dad for me. And get to work on that big jigsaw puzzle in the sky.

Until next week, have a great weekend, happy 4th of July, and happy reading.

To learn or not to learn

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Greetings, readers. After many weeks of contemplating whether or not to go back and finish college, I am now leaning towards not. At least not full-time. I know this decision follows my pattern of never finishing anything. But after discussing the topic with my accountant today, we came to the realization that we would probably not make up the $80,000 or $90,000 that it would cost, in the ten years that I would have left to work. Yes, folks, I would be 55 or so by the time I was done. I was all gung-ho for this project a couple of weeks ago, and now once again I am depressed.

An alternative would be to go part-time, taking one or two classes per semester. That would drag it out even longer, but it would be easier on me and with the money. I have three possible majors in mind: Marketing to help me sell the books I already have; Writing to help me write more books; or Psychology in honor of my mother who was a psychologist. The first step will be to see what semester I take the first class in, in August or perhaps in January. The later semester start would give me time to get back from camp, possibly get that job at Panera, and settle in to the new year’s routine. Maybe the job will be enough to make me feel like I am a contributor in life.

Did I really want to finish college? It would have done wonders for my self-esteem and it might have opened up a career or two. Certainly it would have helped me with my writing. I’ve not ruled it in, but I’ve not ruled it out. At age 51, with a brain that sometimes acts like it is in oatmeal, I guess the question is, could I do it? Could I succeed? I guess I wouldn’t know unless I tried, would I? Those who don’t try, don’t get anything in life. Those who do try, sometimes fail, but are usually rewarded.

Besides being a bit bummed out about the whole college idea, I am currently suffering from mild caffeine withdrawals (pardon my yawn). I have had only decaf today and I missed my time at Panera. I’m sure I’ll go over this afternoon, but because of doctor’s orders I am drinking less caffeine and more water. I’m not exactly a happy camper. Not to jinx myself, but at least I don’t have a splitting headache. Though, I do admit that the experiment is working and the physical issues I was having are dramatically reduced.

For those of you who might be interested, my YouTube vlog is up and running. It is called the Joe Kockelmans Show and the only problem about it is that if I sing with music behind me, the video is blocked in 9/10ths of the world. My point on that is this: yes, I understand about copyright law, but I am not trying to sell it, and I am definitely not the Beatles or KISS. No one will confuse me for those bands or any others that I sing with. There must be some way around that snafu. Time will tell.

Until Friday, take care, have a great couple of days, and happy reading.

A good day with technology

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Greetings, readers. Upon arriving to the office, Rebecca and I were faced with a minor laptop issue. My AVG anti-virus was telling us that I wasn’t protected from identify theft. This was a problem. We went to the website for AVG and downloaded an update. I was most happy to find out that the problem was resolved upon restarting the computer. This allowed us to carry on with the second part of the work day.

I had a brand new debit card with the security chip in it I still needed to activate, and then I needed to plug the new expiration date into all my different accounts that used it for payments. I certainly was not going to do that with an identity theft issue, so I resolved that first.

I called the 800 number, followed the directions, and activated the card. Then it was off to six websites to update the card information. This was certainly not hard, it just took awhile. Probably we should have done the blog post first, but doing this chore provided me with the blog idea.

I was elated that technology actually cooperated with us for once. Usually our computer woes are so complex that it takes all day to figure out or we are on the phone to Best Buy’s Geek Squad. I understand that fixes must be done from time to time, but they do not make for a productive work day. I’m glad this was not Technology Grrr 12, ha-ha.

For my weekend plans I am going to tidy up and do laundry. On Monday, I will begin my new writing regime. I’ll get up an hour earlier, so I can be ready to begin work by 6:30. I figure I will write while I am fresh, and then around 9:00 I might reward myself with a simulation game. I have a couple of ideas in mind, so everyone wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed.

Next week, either Wednesday or Friday, I’m going to blog about the United Kingdom’s break from the European Union. Truthfully, that was going to be my blog topic today, but the break up was a bit more involved than I thought, and I will need some time to study it and take notes.

Also, a rather late R.I.P to the wonderful young actor Anton Yelchin from the reboot of the Star Trek films. I’ll do a more in-depth piece on him later.

Until next week, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

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