Time to take a break for 2021 planning and to finish some projects before 2020 escapes into the mist.
I’ll be back soon. Be well.
Time to take a break for 2021 planning and to finish some projects before 2020 escapes into the mist.
I’ll be back soon. Be well.
It’s never a problem to fill days with activity. Setting and working toward a broader goal is proving elusive during the coronavirus pandemic.
Activities once taken for granted are now impossible. So many people are on the lookout to prevent contracting COVID-19, causing massive deterioration of our shared social life. My reaction to the extended pandemic was reasonable: a decision to focus on my autobiography. Increasing parts of each day include such work.
In the Jan. 28, 2019 issue of The New Yorker, historian Robert Caro recounted a meeting with his managing editor, Alan Hathway at Newsday in 1959.
“Just remember,” Hathway said. “Turn every page. Never assume anything. Turn every goddam page.”
Caro took the advice to heart. My book won’t be as detailed as his books on Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. However, it is important to read what I’ve previously written and saved. It’s important to go through the souvenirs, books, boxes and trunks that clutter our household. When the pandemic recedes it will be important to visit places and again speak in person with friends and acquaintances. It is important to give things consideration as I distill them into a couple hundred thousand word memoir.
I started keeping a journal after graduation from the university. The first volume was stolen with my back pack in 1974 at a youth hostel in Calais, France. The rest of them sit on a shelf within arms reach of my writing table. There are more than 35 bound volumes and more in photo albums, media, three-ring binders and file folders in the next room. That’s not to mention photographs, the trove of letters I wrote Mother and got back after her death, or the thousands of blog posts and hundreds of newspaper publications. It’s a lot to read, examine and consider.
I don’t know what to do except begin and let the thread go where it will. With that in mind, below is the first journal entry that remains with me.
Winston Churchill Gardens, Salisbury, England, 11:45 a.m.
Very sunny here today near Stonehenge, and other ancient ruins. Stonehenge yesterday brought to attention the very tourist like notions of seeing something only to tell your friends about it when you get back. It may be that these days this is the notion you should have or at least most common, but it is also a notion of which I refuse to partake. It is only a very insensitive person who will go look and come back in one hour as the tour bus takes, but then there’s hours and barb wire fence to keep you from doing it any other way. Yet here too comes the notion that since there are so many books and pictures and articles about Stonehenge why even bother the few minutes to even see the thing.
On the way from the rocks to the return bus, the drivers were talking and one said to another, “It’s too bad it started to rain. It spoiled their trip.”
Here it seems that there is such a “holiday” preconception among these drivers (and all Britons as well) that it prevents them from seeing what is really, actually there: some rocks with barb wire about them with people crowded within these premises. At any rate, I was no different from the others when I paid my 65p and walked, took some photographs, and bought some postcards which I today mailed to the states.Journals, Aug. 27, 1974
My experience of the 1970s is book ended on one end by graduation from high school and attending the Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival in Heyworth, Illinois on May 30, 1970. On the other is cutting up my military service identification card on Nov. 25, 1979 at a party in my apartment near Five Points in Davenport.
Life was not what I expected.
Some of my high school classmates married immediately after graduation. I expected to marry a woman, yet that would not be until later in life. Like many in my cohort I left home to attend college rather than settle down. The following ten years were a time of adventure and learning about the world beyond my home place. I sensed life would not follow a standard path.
There was an unseen momentum that led me to attend and graduate from university. Father’s death in 1969 resulted in questioning the efficacy of the life I’d been planning with him. Had I not been awarded the full scholarship through the efforts of the meat packers union, I doubt I would have attended or finished at university. My last discussion with him was about studying engineering, although he did not affirm that I should. He was busy with his own struggles attempting to turn the page from working at a slaughterhouse to passing the state medical board examination required to become a chiropractor.
Before I left home I had a conversation in the living room with Mother about whether I should stay in Davenport to help her get through the loss of Father and help with my younger siblings. She wouldn’t hear of me staying and encouraged me to leave Davenport to attend university. After working the summer at the Turn Style discount department store I left for the University of Iowa. More than any other parental guidance, this conversation set the course for who I would become.
A person does not experience life by becoming set in patterns of existence. The whole idea behind automation was the elimination of routines. By allowing standardization of products to dominate the ambitions of men, we can reach the point where society is nothing more than a group of zombie-like creatures who are willing to conform to what everybody else does. This is why European thinkers criticized the machine as a cancerous growth on humanity.School papers, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Fall 1970.
It seems appropriate my university coursework brought me to this conclusion about standardization. Few of us realized in 1970 what the impact of automation, branding, technology, communications, and dominance by corporate interests and other institutions would have on our lives half a century later. Part of my life has been standing up to such standardization. Even so, my 1970s were not that different from others.
I attended university, made a three-month tour of Europe, came back to Davenport for a year, then enlisted in the U.S. Army. By the time I returned to Iowa in 1979 — and collected all of my belongings from storage, shipped from Germany, and from Mother’s house — I knew I wouldn’t be long for my home town. This letter to the editor summarizes how I felt.
As a college graduate, I would like to believe that a rewarding lifestyle consists of more than a hefty paycheck with plenty of taverns in which to spend it. I would like to believe that my future in Davenport holds more than a secure family life.Letters to the Editor, Quad-City Times, Dec. 30, 1974.
Looking back on the 1970s I see the beginnings of the same path I’m on today. While it was not a standard path it has been pretty consistent all along. I expect to continue, at least for a while.
Editor’s Note: There is a photo of my maternal grandmother sitting at the kitchen table in our house on Madison Street at my first Thanksgiving dinner. She looks on while Father carved the turkey and Mother captured the photograph. I sat against the wall between them. This post is about my return to Iowa from Fort Benning, Georgia for a brief Thanksgiving visit before departing for Europe in 1976.
Grandmother lived near or with us from my earliest memories until we moved to the Marquette Street house in 1959. After that we visited her occasionally. More commonly, Father picked her up at her apartment and brought her to our house for a special meal, holiday or event. Eventually she located at the Lend-A-Hand Club at the foot of Main Street on the riverfront.
The Lend-A-Hand was established in Davenport in 1886, part of a national network of Lend-A-Hand Clubs — a place for young women who lived and worked away from home to associate in a safe environment. After Grandmother left the farm in Lincoln County, Minnesota, she found such living arrangements, either with the people for whom she worked as a servant or cook, or in small apartments in a subdivided single family structure. In 1973 the Lend-A-Hand Club was rented to the City of Davenport and converted to elderly housing. Grandmother was one of the first residents after that. The building was listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
I visited her often after leaving Davenport in 1970. I can remember her room as if I were there today. She took a couple of photographs during those visits and I use them from time to time to aid my memory.
When senior dining began at the Lend-A-Hand she volunteered as a hostess. She also used an electric skillet to cook some of her own meals in her room. I often shared meals she cooked during my visits. She worked as a cook, seamstress and housekeeper most of her life and was good at it. I keep a couple of recipes she wrote down for me in my cook book in the kitchen.
The 1970s hold fond memories of our time together. On Nov. 26, 1976 I visited and wrote this journal entry. It became important later in my life as I became involved in the local food movement. It is lightly edited because I couldn’t stand some of the usage.
Today I visited Grandmother at the Lend-A-Hand and we ate ravioli from LaSalle, Illinois. They hand pack it there. It is a treat whenever we get a chance to make some.
I wonder about the brand names which grace our pantry — Kraft, Nabisco, Campbell’s, Carnation, Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima, Libby’s, Quaker Oats, Folgers, Post, Hershey’s — and marvel at the simplicity of the containers in Grandmother’s shared kitchen.
There are milk cartons with all the ladies’ names on them; bulky, shapeless packages with owners’ names written on them; old butter dishes covered and taped shut; white and tan boxes each with a name on them. It seems fitting that the name of the consumer rather than the producer or canner appear on foods awaiting the pot.
Perhaps these women are not swayed by the numerous labels enticing them from supermarket shelves. Maybe they learned that a carrot is only a carrot, no matter who laid hands on it. But food is food and when one has it, one is grateful.Journals, Davenport, Iowa, Nov. 26, 1976
Mother took me downtown to a federal office building to register for the draft. I was 18. I have my draft card with the Selective Service number on it in a trunk with other memorabilia from the time.
Dad served as an army paratrooper during the occupation of Japan. There is a photograph of him and Uncle Don, fresh from Tallahassee, with parachutes strapped on, ready to jump.
It was with a sense of family history, personal commitment, and duty that I followed the law by registering. Not all of my friends would contemplate entering military service, a couple of conscientious objectors were among my cohort. I felt no such compulsion and if I were called up, I would go.
In the eighth grade I had an assignment to read the newspaper and clip articles about topics which engaged me. The spiral-bound notebook I made has a section on the Vietnam War, including a newsprint photograph of a soldier that had just been hit by small arms fire and was falling to the ground. Going to the war was a real possibility, one I didn’t take lightly.
Like so many young people, I was enraged by the killing of four college students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. A neighborhood friend organized a peaceful protest march to the military armory. I carried an end of a mocked up coffin representing one of the dead students in Ohio. A photograph of us made the local newspaper. I came to feel strongly the Vietnam War was wrong.
I took a student deferment as I had the option, and wanted to exercise it, delaying military service until after graduation from the university. I ended up cancelling the deferment when it became clear during sophomore year my draft lottery number would not be called. I was off the hook and breathed a sigh of relief as the Vietnam War was ongoing, and only crazy people wanted to fight there.
The conclusion I reached once the war ended on April 30, 1975 was the military was a mess and citizens had a personal, civic responsibility to improve it. That led me to explore options for enlistment. I enlisted to become an officer and left Davenport in January 1976, the bicentennial year. It was somewhat patriotic.
When I arrived for basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina I entered a different world. There were about a dozen white guys like me who had enlisted for officer training. They came mostly from New England and states above the Mason Dixon line. The majority of the company was comprised of local black guys and Puerto Ricans, many of whom knew each other from home and had enlisted together. There were a couple of white guys seeking to get on the draw with the Alabama National Guard, although they struggled to perform basic military tasks. At the time I believed Alabama did not send its best people. If you asked me in 1976 who would fight in our wars, my answer would have been black and Puerto Rican soldiers. It was a volunteer army and that is mostly who volunteered.
Ingrained in me was the liberal idea of equal rights under the law and equal protection. It mattered not that I was in a racial minority in basic training because it felt normal to me. I’d been exposed to different races and ethnicity when our family visited Florida where Father attended high school. I also shared a bunk house at YMCA camp to which staff had assigned all of the black campers plus me. Equal protection and equal rights used to be an American idea yet even as a grader I knew we had a long way to go. In South Carolina, in the military, it was obvious we weren’t equal as all the officer candidates were white.
The Unites States requires a standing military to meet our global commitments. Until the current president assumed office the United States stood as a force for good all over the world. Deployment on tough missions had become a norm. We continue to have a global military footprint, although its role has changed. Arms sales have become increasingly important to the U.S. under Trump’s “America First” foreign policy. The administration is changing the balance of power in the Middle East and elsewhere. We hope President Joe Biden can restore respect for the U.S. during his administration. What remains constant, though, is the need for a citizen armed forces and a standing army.
In his book, Who Will Do Our Fighting For Us? George E. Reedy, who extensively studied the selective service during the Nixon administration, wrote, “I believe that democracy can live more easily with the conscripts than it can with the professionals. The former do not like what they are doing — and that is precisely the reason they should be preferred.”
The need for military troops ebbs and flows. Some skills are highly specialized and require a longer term service commitment. Aircraft pilots are an example of this. For the most part, our military trains for specific missions and ramps up to meet staffing requirements. When operations end, units stand down. That is a normal progression and endemic to how the U.S. military operates. Having people from all walks of life, rather than dedicated professionals, enables citizens to witness our military and make sure we do good. That begins with a commitment to service, duty and honor when we consider our options in society. For me, the choice was easy.
By the time the City of Davenport was laid out, the Black Hawk War had ended. American men involved with the war, including some who would later become famous — Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, Winfield Scott, and Jefferson Davis — had departed. There was this land on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River.
With the Indian tribes removed, something needed doing with it, or so they believed. By any measure, the enterprise was a commercial venture in an arbitrary location. Its lackluster beginnings would haunt the city, certainly until I was born more than a century later.
(Spelling and punctuation preserved from the original text).
In the fall of 1835 a group of men met to form a company for the purpose of purchasing land and laying out a town site on the Iowa side of the river across from the fort. These men met at the home of Colonel George Davenport to discuss the issues concerning the town. Other than George Davenport the following men attended the meeting and became part of the company: Major William Gordon, Antoine LeClaire, Major Thomas Smith, Alexander McGregor, Levi S. Colton, and Philip Hambaugh. Another member of the company was Captain James May, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania at the time.
The spring of 1836, Major Gordon surveyed the land that was to become the City of Davenport. The spot selected was west of the LeClaire Reserve and bounded by what is now Harrison Street on the east, on the north by Seventh, west by Warren, and south by the river. It included 36 square blocks and six half blocks. The cost of the entire platt was $2000.00.
In May, the area had been divided into lots, streets, and a proposed business section. Then the enterprising company offered an auction. People were brought from St. Louis by a steamboat and docked on the river front. The sale continued for two days. During the day the area was shown and in the afternoon an auction was conducted. In the evening the ballroom of their steamboat hotel was turned into a place for a lavish party in hopes that the second day of the auction would be as big a success as the company had hoped for. Unfortunately the sales were far from what was expected. Only fifty or sixty lots were sold at $300.00 to $600.00 apiece.
The promotional adventure to sell the city of Davenport was not a success in the number of sales made or amount of money collected. Most of the lots went for low prices to St. Louis speculators who hoped to make a profit on a resale.A Clearing in the Forest by Gayle A. McCoy
Chances are someone in our household is awake.
I am an early riser, usually beginning my day by 2 a.m. My spouse is often still up from the previous day.
Two windows on the southwest side of the house are illuminated once I reach my writing desk, hers above mine. The planet Jupiter is not always hanging above us as in the photo. We are night owls.
Early rising provides a six-hour shift at my desk before the world wakes up. It is the quiet writers need.
Saturday I culled books. I purged duplicates from the stacks to be donated or given to friends, and put some in a reading pile. I spent the most time reading and considering books that were off grid. That is, they didn’t appear on Goodreads or Amazon, and they had no IBSN, a numbering convention that began in 1967. Many books I will consult for my autobiography predate IBSN. Others were printed privately. It’s a different world when we get off the grid.
I put Who Will Do Our Fighting for Us? by George E. Reedy, with an introduction by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, on my desk. The U.S. military, when I enlisted in 1975, was a backdrop for understanding the role of citizen participation in society. The dialectic Reedy explores is between a conscription and a volunteer army. Reedy favored conscription because such soldiers don’t like what they were doing. “That is precisely the reason why they should be preferred,” he wrote.
I participated in the draft lottery and had the number 128 when I was eligible to be called up. That year they called only through 125 so I could finish my undergraduate degree at the university and fulfill my selective service requirement without a student deferment. It turned out I enlisted after the end of the war in Vietnam.
The other off grid book was A Clearing in the Forest by Gayle A. McCoy. It’s a biography of Colonel George Davenport, one of the founders of his namesake city where I was born. I’m more familiar with his business partner Antoine LeClaire. The plan is to write 500-750 word historical/autobiographical sketches of important places in my life and use them to set the scene for autobiography sections. Both founders require further study before getting to the Davenport segment. I put the biography on my bedside table.
It was a decent fall day yet too cold for bicycle riding. I followed my usual walking route to the public boat docks and back, about 2.5 miles. I was the only trail user wearing a face mask. News media reported a run on grocery stores as there was at the beginning of the pandemic. It is getting dire with reports of high levels of infection in nursing homes, care centers, and at the state prisons. In normal times all of this would be scandalous.
On Friday the Carroll Times Herald published a story about family and friends who contracted the coronavirus. It is anchored around friends playing Euchre and how the virus spread among them. “A spreading sickness” is poignant and timely just before Thanksgiving. Link here to read the first of three parts.
I like the photo in this post. Under a clear sky, light shines from rooms where we live quiet lives. We turn inward for a few hours before dawn, focused on our work. We can be ready when the rest of the world wakes up. What we increasingly find is we are not the only night owls during the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Leaves fell from deciduous trees in our yard revealing squirrel nests high in the canopy.
The last few days have been warm, in the 70s. Meteorologists say temperatures will cool as autumn’s last month begins. Yesterday the wind died enough to take a bicycle out on the trail. I wore a face mask as the coronavirus pandemic is escalating in Iowa. Our neighborhood is dotted with homes in quarantine because someone in them contracted the virus.
More people on the trails have begun to wear face masks. The state park is a place where people can gather, social distance, and chat with masks on. The color of water with flocks of pelicans, Canadian geese, and other waterfowl slowly swimming the surface is always pleasant. The peace was disrupted last Sunday when a 21-year old student from the university crashed his automobile near the state park entrance resulting in his fiery death.
The idea of a week persists despite many reasons why it shouldn’t. There is a weekend kicked off by Friday’s handmade pizza dinner. Saturday is a time for getting outdoors and working on projects in the garage, garden and yard. Sunday has become a day to take it easy, spend a long hour with the Sunday newspapers, and take an afternoon nap. By Sunday afternoon it’s time to read email, make phone calls and prepare for the coming week. Weeks have become anchored by such weekends.
To help our friends at the used bookstore in the county seat I bought some children’s jigsaw puzzles for our public library. I emailed the library supervisor and they had been discussing buying more puzzles. It turned out to be a win-win-win scenario. Because shipping is so expensive I will mask up to make a trip to pick them up, then deliver them to the library. The bookstore and library have excellent protocols for protecting everyone from transmission of the coronavirus so I feel safe making the trip.
The library is again taking donations for the Friends of the Library used book sale. It’s uncertain when the next one will be, however. They stopped taking donations at the beginning of the pandemic so it’s positive to hear they resumed. I’m running out of room and plan to donate a couple hundred in the first go-around. I’ll do my best to refrain from buying more at the sale.
We made a list of items for a Thanksgiving dinner. It has been a long time since we left home or had guests here for the holiday. I’m not sure what happened other than we have a small family. This year it will be the two of us again with phone calls and video conferences mixed in with meal preparation. We usually eat leftovers for a week or more after the meal. We used to make special meals for Christmas, our birthdays and wedding anniversary, and Independence Day, but not so much any more. When I pick up the puzzles I hope to find some organic cranberries and oranges to make cranberry relish, a household Thanksgiving tradition.
I’m not sure how much longer to ride the bicycle this year. Suffice it that if the weather holds I’ll continue. Weird weather has come to characterize Iowa and so many other places. We feel the impact of the climate crisis every day. To our benefit, climate change created a zone of temperate weather over our home and the region. While it has been exceedingly dry this autumn, there is hope for precipitation over the next few months. Gardening and farming should yield abundance as they have since settlement after the Black Hawk War.
Today, I’m planning a typical weekend Saturday while embracing the idea such typicality is fleeting. Our lives can be over in a moment, like that of the young man who died a week ago. We must cherish our lives as we can because all we have is the present. As bad as it seems some days, considering the alternative, it is not so bad.
Someone asked, “What is your favorite movie and why?”
I had to think. After considering some options I answered, “The Lion King because of the music.”
I’m not sure that was completely right.
I’m also not sure which movie was the last I saw on television or in a theater. In the time of the coronavirus I watch movies on my desktop computer, either from a disk or streaming. I do keep track of what I watch. The last was on line, Public Trust: The Fight for America’s Lands.
When our daughter visited in December 2014 we watched a video cassette recording of Christmas in Connecticut together, part of a series of “dinner and a movie” events we discontinued as a regular thing. In 2017 I watched The Brainwashing of My Dad from a disk on my desktop. It was a powerful story of a family where the father got caught up in right wing media hegemony to his detriment, and then came out of it — a happy ending. I also watched The Princess Bride (for the first time) on Amazon May 31, 2013. Too many cultural references to avoid it forever. Since 2012, I watched about 20 movies, not many.
When we talk about “favorite movies” what does that mean? For me it means films seen long ago, the memory of which persists. The Lion King fits that description and I would view it again. I’d listen to the CD of the soundtrack more. There are about a dozen movies that mean something to me.
Blade Runner: We saw this at a theater the first time Jacque and I did something together outside of work where we met.
Out of Africa: Because of the cinematography. It’s a gorgeous film and I don’t use the “g” word often.
The Conformist: Few films of that era stick with me the way this one does.
The Matrix: How could someone with a Cartesian outlook not love this movie?
In a Year of 13 Moons: I was obsessed with Rainer Werner Fassbinder the way he was obsessed with subjects and themes in this movie.
Lord of the Rings Trilogy: I recall my argument with Father Harasyn as a freshman in high school about whether J.R.R. Tolkien’s books were literature. I lost the argument and was not given credit for reading them. The movie is a faithful rendering of the book.
The 400 Blows: I was enamored of Francois Truffaut during graduate school. Not as much now, but still.
The Tree of Wooden Clogs: I could easily have been one of the peasants in this film. The cinematography of Ermanno Olmi was unlike anything I’d seen.
Apocalypse Now: The first film I saw in a theater after returning stateside from Germany. It alone launched an interest in movies that persisted for the following five or six years.
Patton: The go-to film for soldiers maneuvering in the Fulda Gap. We would show it on a film projector run by a diesel generator. I knew to carry several replacement bulbs for the projector when we left garrison.
The Sound of Music: Grandmother insisted our family see this together and she paid for the tickets. She would have been the Maria Rainer character if life had been kinder to her.
There are others yet few recent ones. As the holidays draw near, and we contemplate the events of 2020, there are worse things to do than consider things we love. Movies have been part of my life in society as they are for many.
Today was the last shift for our daughter at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It’s a bittersweet moment.
She arrived for permanent, full time work as an entertainment technician on Nov. 20, 2012. The coronavirus pandemic disrupted any plans she had last March. After six months on furlough she took an assignment outside technical stagecraft in retail sales as part of an agreement negotiated by her union. She took a substantial reduction in pay.
It was not why she journeyed to Florida so she asked again about a transfer to live performance, then gave proper notice and ended her work today. We discussed how live theater would always be an option for work before she took the job. Who knew the pandemic would happen? She worked hard and was well liked.
Doors that opened also close behind us, creating new beginnings. We hope for a positive outcome, especially on the other side of the pandemic.
Following is a blog post she made the day after checking in through the doors in the photo.
Down the Rabbit Hole…again.
Yesterday, I was up early in anticipation of my on-boarding appointment at the Walt Disney Casting building. I didn’t really know what to expect, but as I had been sent a packet of materials right after my phone interviews, I was sure that they would be important.Who am I now? A blog post on Nov. 21, 2012 by Elizabeth Deaton
The Casting building is prominently displayed on the highway leading to the Downtown Disney area. You can see the large gold letters standing out against the brightly colored building, shining in the Florida sun. There is still a thrill in seeing them, even all this time later.
The inside of the casting building is draped in images from Alice in Wonderland. This seems a terribly fitting image as one joins the ranks of the Disney Cast. Working for the Walt Disney Company really is a strange world where the rules aren’t quite the same and the characters all seem to have their own language. One can become tongue-tied just trying to say the right thing. Fortunately, I’m still able to translate decently and spent all of my morning with a smile on my face. The strangest part for me was actually seeing cubicles again. I am so used to being out in the park to work, there’s something strange and foreign about the office setting. It did remind me of what I left back in Colorado though. That strange contrast of just how different the outside world really is.
I met some very nice women who were also waiting for their paperwork to be processed. It continues to fascinate me how, even in a company as homogenizing as Disney can be, there is still such amazing diversity among people’s own stories and personalities. Along with that: I really must brush up on the Spanish. I’m terribly out of practice.
I spent most of the rest of the day recovering from my two days drive. That long on the highway had not done well for my sense of direction or my personal health. The rest seemed to do me very well though, as I feel much better this morning. Some of that may have to do with my two cups of coffee this morning; that seems to have solved my headache problem. Dear Former Office Job: I learned many things from you, but I do not appreciate the caffeine addiction, thanks.
Today, there is much to do. I must visit an apartment office, and I’m hoping they have something suitable and available, as I really don’t want to search much more at this point. I’m currently in the midst of the Tourist district, so trying to get my bearings is quite a pain. Everything is smashed in very close together and the drives and turns here are rather a mess in comparison to other places I’ve lived. I am also hoping I’ll have time to drive up to Orlando and visit my gym. I have been too long away and it’s starting to be noticeable in my midsection. (I’m sure the 3 days of driving in the last week and a half didn’t help any either).
All that aside, I should be truly settled here shortly and will let you all know once that happens. In the mean time, Live well and have a Magical Day. ;)