Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lacamas Park Revisited

This afternoon my sister Pam and I decided to take a hike around Round Lake.  We left a little after one o'clock, intending to be home by 2:30, as we both had a to-do list a mile long.

By 1:45, we had begun our journey and were marveling at the warm late October sunshine

Somehow, although I must have walked this trail dozens of times, I never noticed this sweet little peek-a-boo tree!  I had to take a photo!

I asked Pam if she'd ever been to the Potholes before.  She didn't recall, so we took a little detour off the main trail.  They were beautiful in their mossy coat.

I said, "Let's keep going for awhile up this trail," which was rock strewn and cobbled with tree roots.  Probably not the best trail for me to be on, but I was overcome by the opportunity to get out in nature.

As we meandered along, I snapped this photo of a tree with ferns bursting out of the trunk, as far up as I could see!  

We snapped a photo of the two of us, smiling, enjoying our time together. The weather was stunningly perfect, no breeze, and sunny skies.

Before long, we emerged from the side trail at a crossroads, with a sign I'd seen before. I'd forgotten where this particular trail ended, and we realized that we had gotten quite a bit further along, and away from Round Lake, than we had expected.

Somehow, we convinced ourselves to take a lower trail along the creek,
 and that would be the correct direction. 

It wasn't. We ended up way south of the lake, heading uphill.

We began climbing and climbing, and climbing some more.  Twice, we turned back, then turned around again,  coming back to where the second trail had ended.  We were feeling a little lost, even though we knew that sooner or later we'd end up somewhere, just not necessarily in the same area as we had started from.  Pam called her husband, a Camas boy, who wasn't much help.  (We were surprised to have cell service!) So, we kept going, huffing and puffing, and now sweating quite profusely.  We were a couple of sorry souls, and hadn't passed any other people for over an hour!  (This is typically a busy park, by the way!!)

Pam finally said, after nearly 2 hours (from the beginning), "Let's pray!"  So, we did!

As you might expect, about 10 minutes later we saw two people fly by in front of us on bicycles, on what was surely a road or path.  We were too late and far away to hollar, but we excitedly picked up the pace to see if there was a sign.  There was, but it wasn't much help, (and I forgot to take a picture!)  It told us that back the way we came was the loop to the Lower Falls (we weren't going back) and if we went left it was "Access Road" and right was "Crown Road".  

I was pretty sure we should go toward the Access Road, but Pam said she thought she could hear cars from the Crown Road and voted for that direction. She was all for finding the road and calling one of our husbands to come rescue us.  

Instead, I called my daughter, Jessica, who I was certain could tell us which way to go from the sign, but Jess didn't answer her phone.  I texted "HELP! Seriously lost!"  Hoping she'd answer, but no luck.  Just about then, two people came toward us on bikes from the Crown Road direction and we waved them down.  I asked, "What is in that direction?"

The man answered, "Not much, a white gate and a small parking area."

We explained that we had gotten away from our original path and wanted to return to Round Lake and the parking lot.  He directed us to go straight on the Access Road (which I knew already, but refrained from telling Pam, "I told you so!")

And, away we trudged, grateful to be going in the right direction, but still a good distance from the car. 
Eventually, we came to the following sign, showing us that we were definitely on the right trail.

It's too bad the sign doesn't show the elevation.  When we had finally seen the two folks on bikes, we were almost to the Parking area at the bottom of the map. What had begun as a quick hike around the lake, (which takes about 40 minutes on slow days!) ended up being nearly 3 hours.  

Jess called me back just as we were passing back over the little dam. She didn't seem too surprised that we managed to find our way back.

We got our exercise, had a good chat, enjoyed the fresh air and what will likely be the last good "hike" for awhile.  I just hope my sister is willing to go with me again.  I have this affinity to see what's around the next bend,  and it can take me places I don't expect at times.  I'm not in the best physical shape at the moment, but I'm in no worse shape than when I started out on this little journey today.  My new knee is working very well! (Except for the downhill . . . but it's working!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's Official, I'm Old

Well, it's official, I'm certifiably old.  I've been fighting it for months, but I finally gave in to the inevitable.  I have known for some time that I'm a little hard of hearing.  My husband is good natured about it, but I am continually asking, "Could you please turn the volume up a bit?"  I truly wanted to believe that he was just messing with me, and that he was just pretending to hear the whispering coming from the TV.

I really, really didn't want to go here.  I half-heartedly "tried" wearing hearing aids last spring, but mostly, they just bugged me.  I felt like they amplified everything, and I was driven to distraction with all the paper rustling and pen top popping.  After a couple of weeks, I took them back and sweetly said, "Thanks, but no thanks!" I thought that would be the end of the matter.

But, this year, it's more apparent than ever before.  When I caught myself repeatedly asking students to "Speak up, please" or "Tell me again" or "I'm sorry, I didn't hear that" it started getting old, even to me. And it was happening every day; a lot of times every day.  It was time to face facts.

So, I made the call, and plunked down the money, and I'm wearing hearing aids.  Sheesh, I don't have a single blood relative that wears hearing aids, and I can't believe that this has happening to me.  It certainly doesn't run in the family.  Even my really old relatives don't wear hearing aids! Dentures, yes, but hearing aids, not a deaf ear among them! (Thank God I don't have dentures . . . yet!)

Right now I'm attempting to reconcile myself to the new me.  Today, they were sort of "ok". They didn't bug me overmuch, and I don't think I asked as many kids to repeat themselves as I usually do.  I did notice that during conferences, I actually heard pretty much everything the family members said, which isn't the case for the conferences I held earlier in the week!  Well, except for the Spanish parts.  I sort of heard it; I just didn't really understand much of it!

I'm thinking I'm going to need a new 'do.  I always push my hair behind my ears, and even though the tubes are pretty tiny, I can see those things and I want some coverage now!  I guess perhaps I'm a little vain about this whole situation, but I am what I am.  Today I managed to use clips and a little dramatic drape to conceal the evidence, however, I'm a "wash and wear hair" kind of old lady, with no desire for all this messing around every morning.

Big Sigh! It's probably going to take some time getting used to having things in my ears.  I guess, as I begin to notice what I've been missing, I might feel a bit more reconciled to this new situation.  I can only hope!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday, Monday

I don't know what it is about Monday, but it seems like the longest day of the week.  I woke up tired, drug myself to the pool, back home again, and then to work.  I've managed to pull it together to pretend I'm "up" for my job, but, I'm home now, and I am giving in to the weariness. This is what I would like to do . . .

Sleeping Nikki
But, even if I could get down on the floor and curl up with her, it would be too much trouble to try and get back up, so I won't!

This is conference week, possibly the most exhausting week of the year, next to the last week of school!  I've spent many hours preparing, gathering work samples and assessments, writing out my usual 1/2 page of notes detailing progress in all academic areas and behavior.  Parents nearly always appreciate my efforts, and when it's all said and done, I really like meeting with families and talking about their kids.  (Or maybe, I just like to talk!)

Still, it's tiring work, prepping and meeting, and still planning and teaching all week. This year I have four conferences with an interpretor, something I haven't found necessary since my second year of teaching.  The first one was today after school.  The parent arrived 20 minutes late, stayed 30 minutes, and brought her older child with a grandchild. (My student stayed after school with me to wait for her mom to arrive.)  I got a taste of what Kailyn must be feeling, as I sat at the table with five people all talking another language, and me not knowing what was being said! (I just smiled and nodded, hopefully at all the right moments!)

Tomorrow is an early release day, and I've got eleven 20 minute conferences scheduled.  If they all show, I'll be almost half way done! Makes me tired just to think about it!  That's a lot of talking . . . and listening, I hope.  

Because it isn't all about me, and what I want for these kids.  I need to listen carefully to the parents, pay attention to their needs, and hopes for their children.  More than ever before, I need to be compassionate and sensitive to cultural differences, as 40% of my students come from homes where English is not the first language. I am awed by this knowledge.  And impressed by these students who come to school every day, working hard at translating what they are learning from English, to their home language, and back again to English to respond.  I admire their tenacity.

It's Monday, a little closer to bedtime, (hallelujah!) and I'm pondering the swing I've made from being tired, to being inspired.  To looking forward to bringing hope and encouragement to each family I've been given to work with this year.  

And, to getting to bed at a decent time, so I can be rested and energized for this upcoming week.  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Family Ties

I spent today with some of my favorite people.  My dad and Mary Lou are leaving for Arizona in a few days, but he wanted to drive up to Lacey to visit his sister and her husband before he left.  My sister and I went along for the ride. I forgot to take photos today, but this one is from our visit last fall.
Aunt Syd, Dad, Mary Lou, Uncle Julay

My aunt and uncle have been married for 67 years, and they are quite possibly the sweetest couple ever!  She was diagnosed with Alzheimers about seven years ago, but has been on an amazing medication that has kept her  in a pretty constant place.  She knows her memory is impaired, repeats herself quite a bit, but has such a fantastic sense of humor, that you can't help but just laugh with her and enjoy her company. Uncle Julay takes such good care of her, patiently allowing her to do everything she is able to do, and helping when she can't.  Even with Alzheimers, she can be sharp as a tack.  When one of us asked if they still had a computer, Aunt Syd said, "I had to get rid of it, I was afraid he'd find himself a girlfriend online!"  Then they both laugh, and he says, "It's in the closet!"

Someone asked, "The computer or the girlfriend?"  Everyone laughs.

When my dad and his sister get together, it's stories all day long that would literally curl your hair, and even though I've heard most of them a million times, I still crack up, especially because they see their crazy, chaotic childhood as so darn funny.

They grew up in a tiny town called Grays River, situated in a valley on the road still called the Ocean Beach Highway by oldtimers in Washington state.  While my grandmother made a heroic effort to get out of town, attending Portland State University in the 1920's, and marrying an engineer, she returned  with her two young children to live with her parents when her engineer husband was attracted elsewhere.

While Dad and Aunt Syd lived with their grandparents, life was good.  Great Grandpa owned a store, and a large dairy farm, so there was plenty of food.  My dad's earliest memories are of following his grandpa around as he milked the cows, and living for awhile in a couple of different hotels his mom managed.  Later, he would spend most of his youth milking his grandpa's cows, until he started high school and moved to another coastal town, and eventually, Vancouver.

At some point, my dad thinks he was about five, grandma married Ed, "the boy next door," someone she had grown up with but probably wasn't in love with.  Ed had also been raised on a daily farm, but was then a logger, and a good friend of her brother, Dick.  The guys enjoyed their liquor, perhaps a bit too much.

One of dad and Aunt Syd's favorite stories to tell is of going hunting with their Uncle Dick and Ed.  It was the mid 1930's and there was never enough food. The men would remove the back seat of the car, take off searching for deer, and when successful, would put the deer in the back, cover it with a blanket, and tell my dad and his sister to "sit on it".  Then, enroute to  home, they would stop at a tavern to celebrate their good fortune, leaving the kids in the car to "hide the deer" from the authorities.  Dad just laughs about it, and Aunt Syd says, "Gawd, I hated having to sit on those damn deer!"

My sister and I are appalled that this scenario played itself out more than once! We ask, "What did Grandma think about this?"

They both laugh and say, "She just butchered it up and was happy for the meat."  It's hard for me to reconcile the prim and proper grandma I knew with this woman who allowed her children to ride on top of a dead deer and be left sitting outside a tavern.  But, then again, perhaps she didn't know about that part of the story, at least at the time. (She sure as heck wouldn't have let her grandchildren have any part of any illegal activity! By the time we came along, she had returned to college, earned her Master's and was a social worker.)

Today Dad says to Syd, "Remember that old run down house Ed found for free rent?"

She laughs, "No water or electricity, falling down outhouse."

"Broken windows.  I don't know why Ed didn't replace the windows. I guess they didn't have any money" says Dad.  "I remember helping him lay pipe from the spring for water.  I was about six years old."

"Oh, and those bats!  I hated those bats!" Syd shudders.

Laughing, Dad proudly says, "I'd get mom's old tennis racket and start chasing the bats around the attic!"
Aunt Syd, with tears of laughter streaming down her face cried, "I'd be laying there with the blankets over my head, because I was afraid of the bats getting in my hair, and your dad would whump me."

Dad, now practically falling out of his chair, would defend himself saying, "I always warned you when one landed on the bed before I swung at it!"

There are more stories, sitting around the dining room table, laughing till my jaws ache.  Uncle Julay is right with them, even though he didn't meet Aunt Syd until she was a senior in high school.  He's heard the stories so many times, it's like he was there. He often brings up details they forget to mention!

Then Dad reminds us of when Grandma died, on the day of her 50th wedding anniversary.  We had been planning a huge celebration, with family and friends coming in from all over the US.  Instead we have a funeral.  There is silence while we all remember how much my grandparents ended up loving each other, sharing a long life of boating, travels and beach trips.

Dad says, "I moved Ed to our house, with his chair and the cat, Skooter.  I still remember him sitting there, watching Lawrence Welk, tears streaming down his face, missing mom so much."

My Grandpa only lived a few months after Grandma.  He gave up wanting to live the day he found her gone in her bed,  October 15, 1986.

It just now dawned on me that Grandma died twenty-five years ago today.  I don't think anyone else realized it.  Yet there was a heightened sense of connection. It was palpable throughout the day; we wanted to be there, together.

As we were hugging and kissing my aunt and uncle  before leaving, Aunt Syd was weeping and holding each of us so tightly, begging us not to go.  We tore ourselves away, with promises to visit soon, hoping she'll forgive us for not staying, knowing she'll likely forget we were even there. I wondered if Aunt Syd sensed today was different.

On the long drive home, we all agreed that we were glad we had made the trip.  No one mentioned a sense of loss, but looking back, I felt it.

For some reason this year, as my dad readies himself to leave for Arizona, yearning for the warmth that soothes his achy joints, I find myself tearing up, wondering if it will be the last "Good bye".  He isn't as healthy as he could be, there have been several medical emergencies the past few years. I'm not ready to let go, and I empathize with Aunt Syd's tears this afternoon.

And I know, I'll never be ready to let go. But, I have been bountifully blessed with strong, loving family ties. And that will have to be enough.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Rest of the Story . . .

The rest of the story . . .

Just after I finished downloading the photo in my last post, Jess wandered out into the living room and sleepily asked, "Do you want to still go for a hike?"

Trying hard not to be too excited, I said, "Are you sure?  Do we have time before you are meeting Emily for lunch?"

She assured me that she would have time, so we started getting ourselves ready to go.  Then Kailyn popped up on Skype, looking happier than she has in days, telling us that she was packing to move in with her "French family".  She didn't have a lot of time to chat either, and I needed to eat something for breakfast, so the girls chatted while I ate.  Kailyn asked us to get back online later, around noon, and the girls signed off.

I wandered around looking for David to tell him Jess and I were driving out to Round Lake, and found him in the garage taking the pantry shelves apart.  I questioned the wisdom of that, as I didn't want him to further injure himself, but he assured me he was going slow and not in pain.  Jess and I hopped in the car and took off.

The sun was shining!  I was on my way to hike with Jess!  Kailyn was happy to be moving in with a family and not be so alone!  David was working on the shelves!  In the space of less than 30 minutes my Saturday turned from misery to magnificent!

With my trusty cane, just in case, on the baby "dam"

view from the baby "dam"

Round Lake reflecting the sky

The "lower" path around the lake

More of Round Lake

It doesn't look so steep, but I was thrilled to be able to "hike" up!

One of my favorite trees, but the photo doesn't do it justice.  It's covered with moss and so craggy and beautiful.

Partial map of the route we took, but doesn't show the more varied trails and waterfalls
It took us 40 minutes to hike the lower trail around the lake, about as long as it used to take when the girls were toddlers!  Once they were older, we usually took one of many of the higher trails, leading to either the lily fields or one of the falls.  Still, I was in heaven, and only used the cane on the more steep up and down hill sections.  I was energized by physically being able to achieve something I had longed to do over the summer.  

Once we were home, we skyped with Kailyn and got further information about her move into her French family's home.  She has missed "family" and been sadder than she was letting on.  This will be perfect for her.  The mom wants to improve her English, and the boys will help Kailyn improve her French.  They had asked Kailyn if she wanted to live with them when they first met, a few weeks ago.  As she found herself more homesick and sad, she decided to broach the subject again with them, and they were thrilled.  

She will be paying them her food stipend, which is more than they are asking of her.  In return, she will have her own bedroom, and family meals for breakfast and dinner.  She also will have access to a washing machine!  And heat!  And wireless internet!  Knowing her, she will be helpful and they will not want her to leave!

Oh, and when Jess and I arrived back home, David was just finishing the shelves.  I had a hard time pushing and hammering in the little pegs to hold the shelves, so he found a drill bit that fit perfectly, and I had a little fun pre-drilling the holes.  I got most of the pantry stuff back and will finish today after church.

Life is really good!  I am a little ashamed at how whiny I was yesterday, but reminded again to be grateful for my family, and simple pleasures.

Saturday . . . Before

It's Saturday, again!  Must be time to post something.  I'm going to have to dig deep for something good to write about, as I'm only thinking about the stuff I wish was happening, but isn't!

Let's see, the sun is shining!  Wow, I wonder how long that will last?  Originally, I was excited about the rare opportunity of going for a mini hike with my oldest daughter this morning, out to Round Lake, not far from our house.  I haven't been out there since before my knee surgery, and I am not altogether sure I can manage it, but I wanted to try.  Last night, Jess and I went shopping for "professional attire" as she has this "perfect for her" job and needs something other than jeans and hoodies!  So, we merrily shopped away, met David for dinner, and continued shopping until her best friend texted that she was coming to pick her up.

I awoke to a note from Jess telling me that she got home late, and she wished to sleep this morning. Alas, Jess is snoozing away her late night, and I'm trying to be a big girl and not go wake her up and drag her out of the house!

Remember the mis-measured pantry shelves?  Thanks to all the many comments about being nice to David, I'm not nagging him about taking them apart and making them over, as his back is still hurting quite a lot.  (I think, at least that's the story I'm getting!  Who am I to question pain???)

Lastly, I had a disconcerting email from Kailyn.  She is so homesick and miserable in France, and there isn't much I can do about it, except email her back, and hope we connect via skype this weekend.  It's really hard, with thousands of miles between us, and unable to convince her that  "this too shall pass" as when you're 20 and far from home, and pretty much alone, those moments drag into what feels like eternity.

There are a million things I should be doing today, but sitting around the house and whining isn't one of them!  As I watch the sun's rays shimmer on the maple tree out front, I decide I need to get out in nature, with or without companionship.

I have a few leaves turning red . . . very few!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Best Laid Plans . . .

Was it only a few days ago that I was gleefully attacking the garage; enthusiastically thrilled to be moving things around and preparing for the installation of a "new to us" pantry???

Yes, it was, and it's been an exercise in frustration ever since!  For starters, my dear "always willing to lend a helping hand" husband, woke on Sunday in mortal back pain.  I sweetly allowed him to rest and didn't even complain about him not putting the new shelves together.  Surely his pain would be short lived, as usual.  I made him dinner, and, once or twice, cluck-clucked in sympathy.

Monday morning, just as I was getting ready to leave for work, my husband surprised me by returning home from work after a mere two hours of trying to stand the pain.  I breezed past with, "You'd best call your doctor", and left for work.

By the time I arrived home, he was laying on the floor, in slightly less pain (due to muscle relaxers and pain pills.  It turns out he pulled a muscle while helping me move three full footlockers (among other things) on Saturday . . . whoops!) and in no shape to assemble any shelves.  I fixed him something for dinner.  It was the least I could do.

Tuesday, he managed to go back to work, but was on the floor, flat on his back, when I got home.  We had breakfast for dinner.

Tonight- surprise, surprise!  He assembled the shelves on the floor of the garage and we excitedly began to move them into position.

Oh, no!  Tell me it isn't true!  The new shelves are too big for the space they are supposed to go into! Who measured the shelves at the neighbor's house?  I must confess, it was me.  Who apparently forget the measurement in the time it took to walk two houses home, to measure the space I would be moving them into?  It was me,  again.  Somehow, I measured 62" at the neighbors, but my brain remembered 52" (which was a perfect fit, by the way!).

What to do, what to do???

After cursing vehemently and banging around the kitchen preparing dinner, and at least two trips back to the garage to see if there was some way on earth I could force 62" shelves into a 52" space, I finally calmed down.  (My husband, quite wisely, said not a word for probably an hour.) (He is nearly a saint; as he patiently puts up with me and my frequent half-cocked ideas!)

The new shelves are in three sections, a short one foot wide center section flanked by two longer sections. After thoughtful consideration, I came up with the brilliant idea of having David whack off about a foot of the top and bottom boards, smush the one foot center section together, and reattach the outside boards so there are two sections.  Of course, the doors will no longer fit, without fairly serious remodeling.  We may just give up on doors.

I'm really blessed that I have a husband who has never said to me, "What were you thinking?"  (And, while I'm certain there are moments when the thought probably crosses his mind, he is wise and doesn't say those things aloud!) 

Tonight, he is mostly healed, so, knowing him, I'll probably come home tomorrow and he will have taken apart, cut, and reassembled the shelves.  At least, that's what I'm hoping for.  Anyway, that's my plan!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Full Steam Ahead

It seems that I just can't seem to get a post written more than once a week lately!  Last night I got caught up on reading and commenting, about two hours worth, and didn't have the energy to write.  This morning I planned to, but life got in the way, as it does.

 I was awake a bit before 5 am, but convinced myself to let sleep take over.  I slept until after 7:00, and it felt pretty great.  After reading the paper and correcting a math assessment, I showered and headed downtown to an antique store that was closing.  There I found what I hoped would be a perfect shelf for my cookbooks. It was 40% off and the price was right so I bought it.  Since I was downtown anyway, I visited a few other shops that I don't get to very often and found a couple more doodads that I thought I needed.  I also found several periwinkle blue Fiesta plates that I purchased, as that color is retired and I can't replace them anymore. Now I have a few spares! I think I was putting off returning home, as I had a overwhelming chore awaiting me in the garage. I haven't had my car in the garage since I had knee surgery, as it's place has been overrun with boxes and bins that belong to my offspring.

Over the course of the summer, while I was stuck in the house recovering, both daughters moved their "kitchen stuff" home for the year.  I have daughters who are serious cooks, and they have either been handed down, or purchased on their own, some pretty extensive cookware and paraphernalia!  Kailyn moved all of her stuff home because she was going to be in France for the year. She managed to get  some sorting this summer and left a few boxes of clothing that will be delivered to our favorite homeless shelter, eventually!

Jess moved into a house with six girls (women!) at the end of August and there was already a very crowded kitchen, so her pots & pans and bowls and dishes were unceremoniously shoved into the garage.   I've known that there were multiple boxes and bins out there, (and no girls to sort through it!) but put off the task of clearing out a spot for my car until my knee was well healed.  Well, I'm pretty well healed and the time was today!

Fortunately, I mostly kept my sense of humor as I uncovered no less than seven frying pans in various sizes and states of disrepair in Jessica's boxes.  I texted her, "If I promise to buy you new ones, can I send your numerous frying pans to Goodwill?"  No surprise that she texted back, "Sure!"

She also had multiple pots and pans with ill fitting lids, or no lids, which were added to the box.  I consolidated most of the kitchen stuff into a few bins and boxes and managed to get them neatly placed on the shelves for storage.  As Jess is planning to move home next year for student teaching, she isn't going to be needing her things for another year or better.   I also gathered all the girls towels, hot pads and dish cloths to launder and felt very satisfied.

Next came another dreaded task, but one that I was sort of looking forward to.  Our neighbors are remodeling their kitchen and offered us their wonderful pantry as they were replacing it.  We've had a nice sturdy shelf unit that David built about 25 years ago that has served us well, but I longed for shelves I could adjust the height. The new ones are adjustable and have doors!  So, I first moved a falling apart unit full of stored stuff (mostly toys the girls have long outgrown but I can't bear to part with, and craft supplies). (I actually built this ugly unit myself about 30 years ago, and it's been falling apart since the day I built it!) Then I cleared the old pantry shelves of all the food, etc. so we could move that sturdy shelf unit into the place where the ugly one was.  About that time I realized I'd been going like a steam engine for about five hours and I needed a break. David graciously hauled the boxes and a dorm rug to Goodwill on his way to pick up pizza for dinner!

Now the garage is in a worst state than before, sort of.  But, it's ready for David to install the new (to us) shelves tomorrow morning.  I think by this time tomorrow my shelves will be filled, the garage will be clean and tidy, and my car will be returned to it's rightful spot! So, while I am fairly weary, it seemed like a good time to write a little and at least let my blogging friends know I haven't fallen off the face of the earth!

The good news is that despite the work this afternoon, I am only a little bit more tired than I would have been prior to surgery.  That is huge for me! It's so exciting to be back to my almost normal "steam engine" self!

Full steam ahead!