Summer Travel Map

Friday, May 30, 2008

Family events

May 30, 2008
Broad Brook, CT

Thursday evening was the first of the family events that brought us to Connecticut this summer. Melisa (Geri's youngest) graduated from Manchester Community College with her Associates Degree in Social Services. She attended classes part-time for several years while working multiple jobs, so this was the culmination of a lot of hard work. Her son, Jesse, works with Asperger's syndrome (sometimes known as Asperger's disorder, more at, and that's helped shape Melisa's career choice. And her "honey", Paul, has been very supportive of her educational goals, so that's helped a lot.

Here is a link to some pictures from the graduation:

After the ceremony, we all adjourned to Melisa & Paul's house for pizza and cake. There was plenty of both (due to a communications snafu, both Alicia and Geri bought the same cake from the same store). We sat by the "burning barrel" that kept the chill and bugs at bay for quite a while in the evening.

On Friday, Britt (Pat & Al's youngest) had her "Senior Banquet". Apparently, that's what's done these days instead of a "Prom". Who knew? In any event, she went with her boyfriend, Keith, and they both looked nice for the occasion. I snapped a couple of pictures before they left:

The interesting part for me was when Keith came to pick Britt up -- sans necktie. Since he didn't know how to tie one, Geri asked me to do it for him. Any idea how long ago the last time I tied a tie was? Work went "business casual" in 1996! Sure, I've had to wear a tie a few times since then, but could probably count the number of times on available digits. I knew there was no way I could fashion a good knot on him (I was never able to do that), and ended up in front of the bathroom mirror. Apparently, it's like riding a bike -- you may be a little shaky but don't really forget. Once in front of the mirror, it all came back to me. I could do it with my eyes closed -- as long as I was standing in front of the mirror. Go figure!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back in the saddle, so to speak

May 28, 2008
Broad Brook, CT

Well, my back's better if not yet 100%, but I'm getting antsy to be on the road again. We'll see what the next few weeks bring…

With a few days rest, I'm back at the project list although still tending to go easy on the back. Every once in a while, I'll get a twinge that starts to head down the leg. Geri says it a sciatica issue (she knows this well from personal experience) and that's got me concerned. I'll be monitoring this carefully over the next few weeks.

All that said, we've checked off a few minor projects (new light and medicine cabinet in Pat's bathroom) and I've started cleaning Al's garage (ever notice how some parts of the house get pink and blue labels?), first because it needs it and, second because we're planning a set of built-in shelves recessed into the hallway leading to the basement stairs; because of the location, the back side of this cabinet will extend about 16" into the garage. There won't really be any loss of floor space in the garage, since there was a free-standing shelf system already in that spot that'll be relocated elsewhere. This is a pretty small house, and the hallway has become a prime spot for kitchen storage overflow (primarily cooking utensils). Pat's idea is a good one and it should be relatively easy to box in a space about 24" wide by 6' tall that'll take away some of the clutter.

In preparation, I've relocated the existing garage shelf and moved the garden hose that hangs on that wall. We'll probably rough out the opening this weekend. We're a little constrained with the lack of a table saw for the cabinet work, but Al is arranging to borrow one from a neighbor. To minimize the "borrow time", we'll probably rough it out one day and do the cabinet build on a separate day. Construction will be simple, with fixed shelves (we're designing for strength, not necessarily flexibility, as this thing will end up carrying some weight.

In the meantime, I've got a few maintenance items to tackle around the coach this week, taking advantage of what's supposed to be a few nice days in a row. We had a pretty good holiday weekend, although it wasn't quite as nice as it was supposed to be according to the local TV weather reports. Yesterday, though, we had some pretty severe storms roll through in the afternoon, triggered by a passing cold front. We had what appeared to be over an inch of rain inside of an hour, and the power was out for about four hours. I was just in the middle of a beard trim when the power went out. Fortunately, "we don't need no stinkin' power" since I just fired up the generator. It was time for its monthly "exercise period" anyway.

In other news, we've been eating and drinking well, as usual. Friday night, we made Chicken Piccata (well, not exactly, as mushrooms were added), a special request from Melisa. We had quite a crowd over for dinner, with Melisa/Paul/Jesse and the Bowers. It was a "white wine night", which left many a little under the weather the next day (we're a red wine crowd). Saturday, Al and I picked up a couple of sirloin steaks, almost like our family used to have every Saturday night when we were growing up. Al grilled them up with some corn-on-the-cob while I made fries. Saturday, we went to the beach in Westbrook for the afternoon (it's about an hour away), where it was pretty breezy. After several games of cribbage (evenly divided; no clear winner), we headed back to Broad Brook and had dinner at a local fish market. Monday brought somewhat traditional "burgers and dogs" for Memorial Day, although things did get kicked up a notch. Half the burgers were stuffed with cheese and half we made with an olive tapenade mixed in, and half of the "dogs" were polish-style brats. With Geri's special sauerkraut, Sabratt's onion relish, and Lynne Bower's famous baked beans, we really cleaned up. As a bonus, since there were uncooked burgers left over, Geri made a pot of sauce with the burgers turned into meatballs and we had pasta last night. Today, we went for a one-mile walk with the pups (yeah, they've been eating well, too). :-)

Meanwhile, I've started to plan our "return trip" west. We're planning to stay here until late-July because of the family event schedule, which kicks off with Melisa's graduation from Manchester Community College tomorrow. I hope we make it, since I'm already feeling the desire to be "on the road again". We have a standing invitation from Dave and Sandy to visit them up north, even if we drive up without the coach (it's about a day's drive), so that might be an option for a break of a few days. I was also thinking about spending a couple of days in New York (cashing in hotel points and leaving the pups here in CT), so that might also be a choice. I've also been thinking about getting out the photo gear and visiting some of the CT/MA state parks to see what kind of pictures might be waiting, but those places are usually more photogenic in spring (running water and flowers) or fall (foliage). We'll see...

Friday, May 23, 2008

What, nothing going on?

May 23, 2008
Broad Brook, CT

With the lack of posts, it may be appropriate to assume there's nothing going on. That's been generally true for the last few days, as it's been pretty dreary outside, and I've been nursing a rather bad (for me anyway) muscle pull in my lower back. I think I started to pull something when I was trying to install the new water line in the crawl space under the dining room in the house. Things were a little stiff and sore (the "oh, haven't used that muscle this way in a while" feeling) but I didn't need to slow down. And then, Tuesday evening, I sat down at the dining room table and tried to push the chair out and the table forward at the same time I was sliding onto the seat from the side. All of a sudden, I couldn't move. And when I did, I couldn't find a comfortable position. Until today. Ouch!

So, I took advantage of the weather to catch up on some low impact tasks: working with photo organization, catching up on reading, napping. With the help of my wife (an expert in this area), I had some heat, some ice, some analgesic muscle relaxant (Robaxisal, which we found out about from some Canadian RVing friends; can't get it here) and some Tylenol. Today, I still have a twinge if I move the wrong way, but I'm much better. Now all I have to do is get back in the swing of things without setting myself back.

The weather's supposed to turn for the better over the long weekend, so here's hoping for the best. And a good holiday to everyone, wherever you may be!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Backlog of photos

May 19, 2008
Broad Brook, CT

Rainy days are good for some things, I suppose. This afternoon's showers created an opportunity for me to finally catch up on some pictures that have been sitting in Geri's camera for a couple of weeks. Most of the pictures were from our stop in the Philadelphia area, where we had a chance to catch up with friends. Here's a link to that album:

I also updated our collection of references to Albertville, Alabama, that we've found in our travels:

A productive weekend

May 19, 2008
Broad Brook, CT

We've been dodging raindrops over the last few days, but managed to get some things done.

Saturday and Sunday both started out clear and nice, but turned wet in the afternoon. I suppose this is typical spring weather in the northeast ("If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it'll change"), and the fact that we notice speaks more to our being spoiled by spending so much time in the desert. Considering how long we lived here before moving away, it's kind of like "How soon we forget". But, Spring has almost fully "sprung" here and summer weather will be here before we know it. I think the pollen count is down a bit over the last few days (maybe just from "excessive" to "extreme"), and most of the trees are fully out. There's one old maple in the front yard that's just shedding its seeds, and the breeze has blown them all over the place. That'll be over in a day or two and we'll clean them off the roof of the coach.

Al and I are 80% done in putting the fence around their small (16' x 12') garden. He had 2 sections of pre-fabricated picket fence for the front, facing the house, and a roll or wire fencing for the other three sides. We stained the pickets (well, the first coat anyway) on Saturday. I felt like I was "Tom Sawyered" into helping, as it was painful to just watch him do it by himself. We aligned and plumbed the fence posts, and I designed a set of brackets from angle iron and short bolts that'll allow the front sections to be easily removed for access, which we installed on Sunday. We started pulling the wire fencing around, but held off on attaching it until Pat finishes planting and we get a new power stapler. You can't finish projects without the right power tools.

On the food front, I'll back up to Friday night. We made Mahi Mahi with the macadamia nut crust and curried couscous, and Mike and Lynne Bower came over. This recipe is becoming a stand-by; we made it for Annette and Erik while we were in Alabama. Since Lynne doesn't like fish, hers was done with sea scallops in the same preparation a great idea courtesy of Geri). Everyone but Britt liked the meal, so we'll call it a success. We had several nice white wines, primarily Chardonnay, thanks to Mike Bower. We've generally decided that an "all Chard" evening doesn't leave us in the best of shape the next day, so we'll try it with red wines the next time.

On Saturday, Geri made a kickin' batch of Chili that seemed to stretch into late-night snacks and Sunday lunches. After dinner, we got on a move kick. We're finally getting the handle on the whole NetFlix thing, avoiding spending big bucks to buy DVDs. August Rush was in our batch of mail that came mid-week, so we watched that, followed by Terminator 3 (how's that for genre jumping?). I could swear that I'd never seen T3 before, although I'm told I did at some point.

Yesterday, she made a great antipasta salad and a one-pan chicken meal, roasted with potatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, capers, peppers, and probably a few more things. Her son Chris came over for dinner with his wife Christene, his son Nathan, their daughter Lindsay, and Christene's Mom. Geri's daughter Melisa and her son Jesse stopped by as well, so we had a full house. Dinner was buffet style and everyone had a good time. Afterwards, Geri and Pat watched August Rush again while I let Al beat me 2 out of 3 at cribbage, with a break in the action for a quick trip to the local German Club (everyone's German at the German Club) for a couple of Guinness (I know, Guinness isn't German). They no longer have it on tap; bottles are OK but not as good. By the time we finished off the evening with Iron Chef America, everyone was ready to hit the hay.

Today is Pat and Al's anniversary, so we'll make a roast and dig out a good Cabernet. I'll also process some pictures that have been in the camera for a while, and may get them posted later.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Project time

May 16, 2008
Broad Brook, CT

Well, the days are flying by and we've finished our first set of projects, with several to go.

Since we're planning to be here for a longer duration than in the past, the first things I needed to tackle dealt with making it easy to stay in one place. We've had the spot to park the coach for several years, with the needed 50 amp circuit in place, but "water in and water out" have been makeshift affairs. Over the last few days, we've added an outside hose bib and an extension to the house waste water system so we can easily dump the holding tanks.

The fresh water line was relatively easy since there was already a separate branch line for a hose bib in the garage. It was relatively straightforward to "tee" off that line with a straight run through a control/drain valve to the outside faucet. I say "relatively" since the existing shut-off valve for that section wouldn't shut off completely and the new line had to be run over a mass of wiring and heating ductwork that made sweating the copper pipe joints a bit of a challenge. I ended up having to replace the existing valve and re-work the connections to get a tight seal, but everything fell into place. All this plumbing work was done in the crawl space under the dining room (a 8' x 12' section adjacent to the otherwise full-height basement), so I had lots of opportunities for crawling and contortion. I'm none the worse for wear, and the time I spent as a teenager working summers with a plumber has left some handy skills.

The waste water line was more straightforward, with 3/4" PVC running along the inside of the garage, through the wall into the crawl space, and connecting to a used piece of 3/4" heavy rubber hose that was snaked through the basement ceiling to the main waste pipe. With a reducing "wye" and a few couplers, a solid connection was made. Everything was tested successfully yesterday. Fabulous!

Otherwise, things have been quiet, or at least normal, around here. Britt's feeling better, "the girls" had a good time in Atlantic City and were happy to be home, Alicia's finished with school, and everyone's back at work. We're starting to get organized and are now looking forward to the next few weeks, including the Memorial Day weekend and Britt's High School graduation a few weeks later.

We're still struggling with getting used to the weather, since it's generally been cool and cloudy with rain, or the threat thereof, most days. We've got several outside projects planned (oil/filters/lube on the coach, stain the deck, install fencing around the garden) that will require at least a day or two of clear weather, and it looks like it'll be well into next week before that happens. I've ordered cooling fans for the DirecTV boxes and they should arrive early next week, so at least I'll have some "inside work" to do, along with installing a new bathroom fan/light fixture for Pat. We'll keep busy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Off to Connecticut

May 13, 2008
Broad Brook, CT

Last Thursday, we ran a few errands while in our "old stomping grounds" in New Jersey. First, we hopped across the bridge to Philly for a cheese steak at Tony Luke's - excellent! Then we hit the new (well, over a year old now but still "new" to us) Wegman's for some grocery shopping. I wish there were more of these stores in our travel area, as they are well-stocked and have great meat and fish. After that, we made a stop at our favorite Canal's wine shop to stock up.

We picked up a "prepared meal" (chicken parm and angel hair with asiago) at Wegman's for a "no clean up" dinner. We'd wanted to catch up with Peter and Paola Baxter, but couldn't make the scheduling work this time through.

We left the Philadelphia area as planned on Friday, heading for Connecticut. The weather turned into what they call "a soaker". It started raining early in the morning, so everything was extremely wet before we left. I put on the rain gear to dump and flush the holding tanks, pull in the hoses, and hook up the car. Unfortunately, there was no way to avoid the 1-2" deep puddles, all of which were strategically placed in front of the bays I needed to access. I think my shoes have finally dried out several days later. After winter in the desert, we're still getting used to this rain thing.

Once on the road, we have an uneventful, albeit rainy, drive up to Connecticut. We took I-295 north, hopped over to the Turnpike (similar to "The City" meaning "New York City", "The Turnpike" means the "New Jersey Turnpike") at Exit 4 and continued north. We switched over to the Garden State Parkway and followed it all the way to the northern end, crossing into New York and heading east on I-287 through White Plains. The GSP isn't a "designated route", so there was very little truck traffic (local trucks only) but we saw a few busses and RVs. The lanes are a little narrow but everyone seemed to be driving slower due to the rain, so we were fine. From White Plains, we took I-684 north to Brewster and I-84 east to Hartford. We switched to I-91 north to East Windsor and arrived around 2:30 PM; not bad time considering the route and weather.

So far, we've rested up a bit after a couple of weeks on the road and started a few projects. I've ordered some small fans to provide cooling in the cabinets where our DirecTV boxes live, as it gets pretty hot in there. I'm also going to mount them on drawer slides, so I can extend them out to improve airflow when needed. Al and I have also started a couple of projects that'll make our stay easier: adding water and waste lines. When they expanded their driveway several years ago, we put in a 50 amp electrical box, but we've always had temporary water and sewer connections. These projects will finish off the connections so we'll be completely self-contained while we're here.

Everyone here is always in constant motion, typical for families with kids these days. Britt's sick and been home from school for a few days. Alicia's finishing up her first year at college this coming Wednesday; Al and I made a run with his pickup to move her refrigerator and a load of other stuff Sunday night. Pat and Melisa (Geri's daughters) had planned a Mother's Day excursion to Atlantic City with their friend Lynne Bower, so they left Sunday morning and won't be home until tonight (we hope they had a good time even though the weather was awful there yesterday). We're just about "pasta-ed out" after having "kicked up" mac-and-cheese with lobster, scallops and crab on Saturday, leftovers on Sunday, and Geri's wonderful stuffed manicotti last night (with the prospect of leftovers tonight). Meals here are something that happen rather than being planned, so we go with the flow for the most part. We've got a few recipes we want to make and I've been trying to get a calendar in place to plan them out, but I'm not getting much traction in that area. Oh, well...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Catching up with friends

May 6-7, 2008
Clarksboro, NJ

We're using this stop in the Philadelphia area to catch up with friends, and we've lucked out that schedules are aligning so well. As it turns out, our friends Dave and Sandy were planning to be in the Philadelphia area for a few days this week, just as we were planning to pass through on our way to Connecticut. They were planning to stay part of the time with Wayne and Doris, so we knew we could connect there, and Bob and Sarah have just moved into their new house mansion castle and planned a casual dinner for Tuesday.

By way of explanation, Bob, Dave, Wayne and I all used to work together at Towers Perrin in Philadelphia. Wayne retired several years ago, followed by me in 2005, then Dave in 2006. Bob will be old enough to follow us into retirement in a few years… :-)

So, after we arrived on Tuesday afternoon, we cleaned up after a couple of days on the road and headed over to Bob's. We were aiming for a 6:00 arrival, but the traffic and road construction gremlins got us, so we were a little late. Bob threw some steaks on the grill and we had some great wines. Dave brought a Syrah-Mourvedre that he'd picked up in Canada, and we brought a 2000 Bordeaux from the "wine box". Bob pulled out several Cabs as well, so all tastes were accounted for. Dave took/orchestrated a few group photos, so I'll post from those when he forwards them along.

On Wednesday, we relaxed a bit during the morning and then headed over to Wayne and Doris' place. We toured the garden, enjoying all that Wayne's done since the last time we visited. Doris whipped up a pan-seared Escovar (not sure about the spelling, but a wonderful white fish) with rice and asparagus, paired with an Barossa Valley Shiraz (Wayne), a Cornas (Dave) and a Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape (us).

As wonderful as all that was, the highlight of the visit was the interaction of the four canines. Wayne and Doris have Nico, an eight-month old Standard Poodle, and he's quite a puppy. We brought Merlin and Maya Lynn, and Dave and Sandy picked up Abby, their Golden Retriever, from the dog sitters. Now, Merlin and Maya knew Abby from our Canada and Florida trips, and Nico knew Abby from a visit to Florida earlier in the year, but this was the first time they were all together. Suffice it to say that it was a raucous good time for everyone. Merlin showed how he was a nun in a prior life ("No running!", "No playing!", "No loud talking!") and Maya played for a bit before telling Nico "enough". I think both our dogs were happy to see Abby arrive because a) they like Abby and b) it gave Nico someone else to chase. By the time we were wrapping up dinner, everyone was calmed down. The interesting thing about dogs is that they'll all remember each other no matter how long between visits.

A great couple of days...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Traveling up the Appalachians

May 6, 2008
Clarksboro, NJ

We left Albertville a few minutes ahead of schedule on Monday (Cinquo de Mayo) and headed northeast. We've driven this route many times, but almost always in the opposite direction, coming from New Jersey to Alabama or other points south and west. In keeping with our objective of staying off the Interstates when possible (not that we're doing well with that on this leg of the trip), we drove up AL-75 all the way to the Georgia border before cutting across to I-59. Actually, I should say "dropping down" to I-59, since the road descends the side of a mountain reminiscent of what we've see out west, with several 15 MPH switchbacks and steep grades. It was a smooth, wide road, so we had no problem holding speed with the Jake Brake and made the descent easily.

Once on the Interstate, it was smooth sailing (except for sections of "bad road" that the highway engineers should be ashamed of) through Chattanooga on I-24 to I-75 to I-40. There's a major construction project in downtown Knoxville, so we had to use the I-640 bypass, but that was a relatively short detour. Once in the Eastern Time Zone, we continued to I-81 and made our overnight stop at the Flying J truck stop in Fort Chiswell, Virginia. We've gotten much more adept at arranging fuel and overnight stops at "J's" on longer segments. We top off the tank, park "out back" with the trucks, and grab a cup of coffee on the way out in the morning. When I went in to get coffee at 5:45 AM, there was only enough for 3/4 of a cup (well, a 24 ounce "cup"). When I called the cashier over, she told me it was free; a retiree's dream come true. We were on the road at 5:55, again heading north on I-81.

Most of the time we've taken this route, we've used I-695 around Baltimore (you can't take propane in the Baltimore tunnels) and I-495 around Washington. I-66 links I-495 with I-81 about 60 miles west of the capitol. This time, I knew that we'd be going through this section during the early afternoon, so I chose a different, slightly longer, route to avoid Washington. We continued up I-81 through West Virginia and into Maryland, and then cut east on I-70 in Hagerstown. This brought us to I-695 around Baltimore, and we were able to bypass a lot of traffic. We continued up I-95 through Delaware and then cut over to New Jersey on the Delaware Memorial Bridge. We fueled up at the Flying J on I-295 and then drove the 16 miles north to the campground where we're staying. They "lost" our reservation but had space for us, so we had a chance to settle in.

This was the end of the long driving segments for a while, since it's a relatively short hop up to Connecticut from here. We're planning to leave here Friday morning and should be at Pat & Al's place north of Hartford in the afternoon. So far the driving has been rather uneventful and the coach has been performing well. I've slowed down from 62-64 MPH to 57-58 MPH on the highways, and improved fuel economy by 10.3% (from 5.679 to 6.263). This isn't enough to offset the cost of diesel fuel (we filled up for right around $4/gallon on most of this leg of the trip) but every bit helps.

A couple of other observations from the trip so far may be in order (only so I don't forget to mention them). First, road construction seems to continue at the same pace as prior years but the impact seems lessened (more lane shifts and fewer closures). We were surprised at the number of rest areas that are closed, and it's not clear if some of them will ever reopen. This kind of renders the interstate guides we buy less than completely reliable, and the highway signage isn't much better (lots of "next rest area nnn miles" signs only to find the next area closed). It's a good thing that we're self-contained and don't have to "rest" in a rest area! And, lastly, it's been a tough spring for the armadillos. We think of Texas when we hear "armadillo", but they've migrated quite far east. And they're not "traffic friendly", since we saw more of their carcasses on the side of the road than any other species. I have no idea why I notice these things, but there you are.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A great visit in Albertville

May 4, 2008
Albertville, AL

We wrapped up a great week with family in Albertville and prepared to head out on the road again.

With Annette's help, we finished off most of the painting projects with excellent results. She did the face of the three exterior doors and I tackled the front door frame and columns. We went through almost a roll of "painter's tape" to mask off things, because there were a lot of angles and corners involved. They still have some touch up work to do inside, but the majority of the work outside will simply involve a power washer. Since it was pretty breezy all week, I didn't get to spray paint the gas lines and meter on the outside, but Rick can handle that I'm sure.

With help from Rick's father-in-law and his miter saw, Rick and I were able to salvage the door that was hung backwards and turn it around. After removing the molding, we quickly discovered why it was subject to "seasonal deflection" with summer humidity: the door frame wasn't attached to the wall studs! The builder had simply used the molding to "bridge the gap" and put in extra nails and staples before holding the whole thing together with caulk and glue. We shimmed it properly and installed new trim casing, and it looks and works great.

We had a chance to get some culture while we were visiting as well. Erik is all over music and theater activities, and was participating in a show at the local community theater in Guntersville, so we had a chance to see their performance. He's just turned 16 and is doing quite well. The show was an original production of a musical with "USO" as the theme and music from the 30s and 40s. They saluted local veterans as part of the show, and Erik wore Rick's old Air Force uniform, had a solo on the Air Force anthem, and acknowledged his parents' combined 16 years of service. He did a fabulous job and it was a very good show. He's won a part in a production of "The Sound of Music" later in the year.

We also had a chance to attend a concert by a local group with which Annette performs at the college where she teaches. It's an orchestra of about 40 local people of all ages that get together and put on short concerts several times a year. Annette plays the flute in the wind section (it's mostly a wind ensemble with a little percussion mixed in) and they put on a nice short program of about 6 selections on Sunday afternoon.

Alyson finished up her first year of college during the week, so Rick drove down to Mobile (~5 hours) on Thursday afternoon to check her out of her dorm room for the summer. They packed up two cars full of "stuff" and drove home on Friday. It was good to see her (we thought we might miss her on this trip) and hear about how well she's doing. Of course, we took the opportunity when Rick was away to plan a "fish night" for dinner (Rick and Alyson won't eat fish), and made macadamia nut-crusted mahi-mahi with curried couscous. The fish came out great, as usual, and I made too much couscous, also as usual. It came out a little more spicy than usual, but was very good (if I do say so myself) just the same.

In fact, we ate pretty well all week (no real surprise there, right?). Rick made pasta one night and we made ribs with fries and baked beans another night. Since we had some steaks in the freezer and I had a couple of recipes for "Mexican steaks" that I wanted to try, we did that one night. Half were pan-seared with a chipotle-based rub and half were grilled with a red wine/port wine reduction made with peppers and onions. I also made a corn side dish with ginger, serranos (kitchen tip: don't rub your face after cutting up serrano peppers), and cilantro. We also helped Rick clean out some old partial bottles from the liquor cabinet with margaritas one night and Tom Collins and gin-and-tonics another night. It's just a small service that we provide.

There were several visits with Mom during the week, and she had a few "good days" and a few "bad days". They've adjusted (reduced) her medications so she's more alert and seemed to have a better appetite, but she's still suffering from some panic attacks brought on by the Alzheimer's. All in all, she's doing better than I expected, so that was a good thing.

All in all, it was a great week...