It has been about two weeks since the last update. Somehow it doesn’t seem that long, but the calendar confirms the days did in fact slip by. During this time, all events were overshadowed by the wait for Heather’s baby to arrive.
Jeanne’s aunt CeeCee always lived an active life and her home in Oxnard was the venue of many happy family events. It seemed that any time we stopped by, someone was staying with CeeCee and her house was full of kids. Its hard to explain, but CeeCee’s home is just one of those comfortable and inviting places for the family to gather.
As happens to all of us, the years accumulate and CeeCee got to the place in life where she needs some help. To this end, Heather, Danny and the two kids (Tyler and Marley) moved in and everyone is happy with the arrangement. Danny works and Heather tends to the house while keeping an eye on the kids and CeeCee. All was rocking along just fine until the doctor restricted Heather’s activity during the last phase of her pregnancy. Since Jeanne and I were heading to California anyway, we arrived earlier than planned so Jeanne could get involved with running the household and preparing for the the baby. These past few weeks, with few exceptions, Jeanne has been spending most of her time at CeeCee’s taking care of things until Heather is back on her feet.
This has given me time to run errands, mostly doing things we have been putting off.
One of the first things on the list was getting the Jeep windshield replaced, which turned out to be harder than anticipated. As with most thing in life, you need to know almost as much about something as the person hired to perform the service. The windshield was no exception. After a few phone calls, we cut a deal and arranged for installation. The next morning, the installer arrived and had a striking resemblance to some of the folks we met in rural Arkansas. My little voice said “watch out”, but how could this guy muff up a windshield installation? Isn’t this what he does for a living? I let the man get on with his work and about an hour later, he announced the job was finished. Upon inspection, the gasket along the top of the window looked strange. In fact, it looked upside down but the installer insisted it was correct. I paid the guy and sent him on his way.
Later that afternoon, Jeanne and I inspected several similar Jeeps and discovered something was definitely wrong. We even took digital pictures just in case. We called the glass company to discuss the issue and when the installer arrived the next morning, we confronted him with the photographic evidence. About 45 minutes later, the installer-with-missing-teeth sheepishly announced the job was finished. This is no moral to this aggravating story, but the inside of the Jeep is now smeared with windshield sealant as a remembrance.
The hunting and fishing club I belong to hosts a monthly trap shoot. It had been over ten months since we saw our club friends so one Sunday morning we made the drive to the trap range in El Monte. For readers not familiar with the sport, trap is a game where shotgunners try to break clay targets thrown into the air. Since the field only holds five shooters, there is plenty of time to visit while waiting for your turn. We visited with our friends for hours, catching up on their personal lives and club affairs. It felt strange that by the end of the day, it was like we had never left. Our association with the club has been rewarding in many ways and the friendships formed will last a lifetime. This is truly a unique group of guys and each one has brought something to our lives. We very much enjoyed the morning and look forward to seeing them again before moving on.
One day, I went to a local trap range with a friend I’ll refer to as Z. We met Z on a camping trip and after finding out he lived close by, we occasionally get together to shoot some trap. With very much improved scores, it was apparent Z had been practicing. I very much enjoyed the afternoon and plan to meet with Z again before we leave.
Our current location is perfect for our workouts. The weather in Southern California this time of year is usually sunny, mild and clear. At an elevation of 535 feet, the campground is just high enough to be above the coastal haze and the mornings are clear and crisp. The road in and around the campground is paved, lightly used and just hilly enough to be challenging. We have fallen into a regular workout routine and very much enjoy running here.
Before leaving on the trip, we put most of our household stuff in storage at a facility in Oxnard. Realizing we’re hauling things around at $2.30 per gallon, we are slowly culling through the coach and sending stuff to storage. This process results in a lot of “what were we thinking” moments, but it is materially lightening the load. I’m re-learning one the lessons of my college days — you can live very comfortably on very little. In fact, it seems that less is more; getting “stuff” out of our life has been a liberating experience. We still have a way to go, but the process is well under way. In the end, I wouldn’t be surprised if we eliminate 500 pounds of “stuff”.
Since arriving back in Southern California, we made several trips to the San Fernando Valley to run errands. On one of these trips, Jeanne and I meet with our friend Michael who I had met while working at FOX. Mike transferred into the department about a month before I arrived and was handed several difficult assignments. He was a talented accountant and I found his patience and perseverance astonishing at times. While extinguishing the fires erupting around me, Mike mostly worked on his own and quietly got things done. I am forever grateful for his help because without him, the situation would have been unmanageable. In the end, Mike was the only remaining accountant from the original staff.
Shortly before I left FOX, Mike decided to pursue a career as a veterinary technician. For all the right reasons, Mike decided to make this mid-life career change; it was a gutsy move. Over a sumptuous lunch at Mission Burrito, Mike brought us up to date on his family and studies. After a long visit, there is little doubt he made the right decision. Although he is working hard to achieve his goal, in the end he will be doing something he enjoys. On reflection, Mike will be one of the very few people we know that found the elusive balance between work and fulfillment.
Within her circle of family and friends, Heather and her peers have been rapidly increasing the population of Ventura County. Consequently, most of the baby stuff was given away before Heather realized she had a baby of her own on the way. So, with Heather restricted to bed rest Jeanne took charge of getting ready for the baby, which included preparing for a just-in-time baby shower. With the generosity of family and friends, the shower worked out great and provided most of the necessities. Only a very few things were needed to fill in the gaps, which we provided. All Heather and Danny needed now is the baby, which is threatening to arrive at any moment.