It's Autumn & Jesse's New Car

I say it's autumn, because for the first time this month, I started out the door in shorts and went, "Whoa!" ... and turned around and came back inside to put on long pants!!

Now, as for Jesse's new car.  I've been meaning to get pics up here for weeks.  I took these pictures August 19th, so I guess I'm almost a month behind.

At any rate, here's a look at Jess's new toy, baby, or whatever you want to call it!

It's a 2013 Hyundai Sonata.  A stark contrast to our last car when it comes to the bells and whistles.  Our last vehicle didn't even have a remote to lock and unlock the door.  This car has stuff to do about everything but dance.

Here's a look at it from the front:

Jess is convinced it's the prettiest car on the highway and everyone who drives by him is envious of his new car. ;-)

Here's a look inside at the dashboard and all those bells and whistles.

Even the mirror has electronic gadgets hooked up to it!

 Here's the fancy-schmancy back seat.  As you can see, it even has an armrest that can be pulled down and used for beverages.

It's also got one of those deals where you lay down 2/3rds or 1/3 of the seat, or the entire thing, and make more room to put something in the trunk.

Speaking of which, here is the trunk:

It's a lot roomier than the trunk in our old car.  In fact, everything is roomier.  I guess you'd call our old car a compact, and this one is mid-sized.

And here's the back end with the trunk closed!

I think that ought to about cover it... side, front, back, interior & trunk!

Hopefully, this car will last us a long, long time. 


A little over 4 years ago, I wrote a post entitled, "Honey, I Wrecked The Car."  Soon after, I wrote another post about how the car was totaled.

Well, here we go again.

This time Jonathan answered the phone while I was out doing chores with Ellie, Richard and Chrystie.  He went to the rescue, and picked up Jess.

Fortunately, no person was hurt.  Can't say the same for the car. . .

It doesn't look so terrible... dented fender, headlight gone, hub broke... well, then again....

Jess had hopes it was fixable, but in Tennessee, the minute the repair bill hits a certain % of the value of the car, it's automatically considered totaled.

Unfortunately, that was the case.  A real shame, as the car was paid for, we had been careful about maintenance and the car was in good shape.

Of course, WAS is now the operative word.

Guess it's time to start hunting for a new vehicle!

Home Again After an Amish Country Vacation

We got home yesterday from our trek into Amish country in Ohio.  I don’t know about Jess or Dad, but I was flat out exhausted!

Here’s what our itinerary looked liked... it's long, so get ready to sit a spell while you read!

Monday, July 8th: Drove to Mount Sterling, Kentucky, and stayed the night there.

Tuesday, July 9th: Drove to Eureka, West Virginia, to pick up Dad.
                               Drove to Dover, Ohio

We ate supper at The Amish Door, which had fantastic food and great service!  The only problem is the restaurant was in Berlin, a little distance from where we were staying, and we had to drive through a BIG thunderstorm on the way there.  The rain was so heavy it was difficult to see the road, but there was no place to pull over, so Jess inched along until we finally got there!

Thankfully, the rain had pretty well stopped by the time we finished eating and had to make the trek back to the motel in Dover.

Wednesday, July 10th:

1st stop: Behalt, or the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin, Ohio.  They have a circular mural in the building, and a guide explains the painting as you go around it.  I learned a lot more about the history of the Amish and the Mennonites, and even Baptists! 

There’s also an Amish schoolhouse you can tour, and the Pioneer Barn with a Conestoga wagon.  Even if history isn’t your favorite subject, those three attractions make for an interesting tour through time.

2nd stop: A hardware store that shall remain nameless.  Jess was hoping for lots of stuff like the Amish would use, but it didn’t look any different than any other hardware store, so we didn’t spend much time there.

3rd stop: Schrock's Amish Farm and Village also in Berlin, Ohio.

This is advertised as “your place for Shopping, Fun and Amish Attractions”.  What it reminded us of was some of the tourist traps in Gatlinburg, TN, with a bit of an Amish twist.  It had a lot of shops.  There were buggy rides, but all I ever saw happen was a trip around the parking lots, though they may have went further than that.

As far as the farm part goes… really?  We saw one pen with a few sheep in it, and no way a person could get close to it.  That’s it.

To us, the place was by and large a disappointment, EXCEPT for the cafĂ© at that location.  We ate lunch there, and the food was fabulous!  I had a chicken salad sandwich that was on Cranberry & Nut bread, and it was totally delicious.  All the food we got there was good.

By the time we finished lunch, it was mid-afternoon and everyone was tired so we decided to go back to the motel for a break.  Just as well we did, because a bad storm blew in, literally, and downed lots of trees.  We were sitting in our rooms without electricity for over 5 hours!

When the electric came back on after 8pm we zipped over to the nearby Bob Evans Restaurant to get something to eat.  Of course, it took them a while to get everything fired back up, but we all ordered breakfast food, so it wasn’t too long a wait.

Thursday, July 11th

I consider this as one of our most fun days.  It was certainly one of the busiest!

We started out by driving north to Kidron, Ohio.  A lot of places were still without electricity, but some were using generators for their electric power, including our destination.

1st stop: Lehman’s.  Advertised as “your shop for non-electric goods, oil lamp parts, glass oil lamps, fireplace stoves, food preservation, gas refrigerators, food processing, and Aladdin oil lamps” and “our 45,000 square foot retail store is the finest selection of non-electric technology you'll ever see.”

And I believe it.

There are more things than you can imagine in this place, and some you probably never imagined.  Though touted as the place for non-electric items, they have lots of stuff that uses electricity as well. 

Foods, beverage-making supplies, baking and cooking supplies. . . from ingredients to bowls to tableware to crocks to pots and pans. . . there are just too many things to list.  And they have the stoves and ovens, inside and outside varieties, needed to use for cooking and baking.

There are all kinds of household items, and all kinds of historical items on top shelves and hanging from the ceiling.  There are puzzles, clothing, toys, memorabilia, and just a huge assortment of stuff you would find in hardware or old-time country stores.  IT. IS. AWESOME!!!

It’s really just too much to take in at once. . . and we didn’t even make it across the street to their discount store!

2nd stop: Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen.  Located in Mt. Hope, from the number of people there it’s a very popular place!  We certainly enjoyed our lunch, and as usual the food was great!

3rd stop: The Yoder’s Amish Home in Millersburg. 

At last!  A real look at an Amish homestead!  This one had more than a gift shop… there was actual Amish homes, with the rooms furnished just as Amish people would have them.  There was a huge barn with all kinds of animals, including my most favorite, the big draft horses.

There were tour guides for each part, and there were 3 young Amish ladies in the kitchen of one house baking cookies and canning applesauce.  Talk about good smells!  The cinnamon rolls are HUGE!  It all looked tempting, but having just eaten a big meal at Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen, I didn’t try any of the goodies there.

We did go for buggy ride.  They have a little trail around a pasture.  It’s not a huge ride, but enough to get a feel for what riding in the buggies is like.

They also had a schoolhouse, and this one even had a “real” schoolteacher inside!  She was a very nice lady and answered all our questions.

All in all, it was well-worth the price of the tickets and a lot of fun.

After that we went back to the motels for a rest, but we weren’t finished!  We had one more thing to do . . .

4th stop: Amish Country Theater in Walnut Creek.

I’m not sure what the real Amish think about this theater production, but it is really funny!  They have a class-act ventriloquist, and the bluegrass band is really good. 
My very favorite part was the “Jonas Brothers” when they became the “Beachy Brothers” and did a parody of Beach Boys songs by turning the lyrics into stuff about Amish life.  It was a hoot!

Friday, July 12th: The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio.

We checked out of our motel in Dover and headed to The Wilds to meet Scott and Maria.  Once everybody was present and accounted for, we took the two-hour-plus tour, riding in the open air bus.  We’d done this many years ago, but thought it worth another trip since it was so long ago.

It was interesting, but the animals didn’t cooperate as much as I’d hoped.  Most were very far away, and even when a telephoto lens, really too far off for good pictures.  We did have some giraffes come up to the vehicle, some camels were resting by the side of the road in another area, and there were some Persian Onagers and wild deer that were close enough to see well, but that’s about it.

They have a carnivore’s exhibit area with cheetahs, African wild dogs and Dholes, but there again, the animals were so far away it wasn’t much of a look.  And in fact, we never did see the wild dogs.

After we finished the tour, we decided to go out to eat and ended up at a Cracker Barrel in Cambridge.  As it turned out, our motel was practically next door, so we didn’t have far to go!  It was so late in the afternoon we didn’t do anything else that evening but go get supper.

Saturday, July 13th: National Road / Zane Gray / Cambridge Glass Museums in Norwich, Ohio.

Dad has always been a big fan of Zane Gray, so we decided we’d go see this before heading back to West Virginia.  It was a nice surprise, and even better than we had hoped.

The National Road Museum is highly interesting with lots of exhibits depicting the progress of transportation and building roads as the pioneers moved westward.  There was a HUGE Conestoga wagon there, much bigger than the one we saw at Yoder’s Amish Farm, plus several old cars.


The Zane Gray Museum had lots of posters and memorabilia from his books and the movies made from those books. There was a replica of his study, some of his fishing paraphernalia, and all kinds of exhibits pertaining to his life.
We ran out of time and energy, so didn’t visit the glass museum, but definitely got our money’s worth out of the other two anyway!

We headed for Maria & Scott’s house, had a nice lunch there, and before we knew it, it was was time to say good-bye!  Maria was taking Caleb to pick up his car from the garage, and taking Dad home after that, and we headed out to start the trip home.

We ended up spending the night in a little town west of Lexington, before getting to the Bluegrass Parkway.

Sunday, July 14th: HOME!!!

We were both dragging by the time we made it home, but it’s always nice to make it back to your own place.  To see all our critters and sleep in our own bed again.  We got all unpacked and that’s about all we had energy for!

And now we’re back into the routine, and trying to catch up on our neglected garden and other chores!  Whew!

Jess's New Office

There's been lots going on here, with a trip to Oklahoma, a visit from Randy, and other stuff going on around the farm... but right now I'm just going to focus on Jess's new office.

 He had to move to a new one because the guy had to shut down the company where he was previously working, so no office available there anymore!

 He had at least 3 options for new office space, but in the end he chose to set up an office in B* r e l a n d Company's building on Clinton Avenue in Huntsville. (& yes, I left spaces in there on purpose... this is a well-known company and I'd rather not have this post come up in search results for the company name.)

It's a 7-story building.  He's in a conference room on the second floor (a bank is on the 1st floor). When you walk into his new space, here's what you see:


That's his drafting table, and his new computer monitor. Some time ago he got a monitor at Walmart, but the wide-screen didn't work right with his Agtek system software. The circles came out as an ellipse instead of round, and that was a problem.

After some research I saw the best bet was to get a monitor that still had the same aspect ratio as CRT monitors, and ordered it online, crossing my fingers hoping I was correct and it would work like it should.  Fortunately, it works just fine. He now sees round circles again instead of ovals. :-)

Unfortunately, at the same time his printer also decided to go wonky, so he needed a new printer as well.  That's it setting on top of the black filing cabinet.  The tall white boxes are partitioned for holding blueprints, and as you can see, the tables give him someplace to roll them out and look at them.

His picture wall was decimated when he moved as well, as many of them were just printed on paper and taped up to the wall.  Having been there for such a long time, they didn't come off very well and got torn up.  So we are in the process of getting him some new pictures.

This is the entry (and exit!) door to his office space.  He can see outside if he wants to look through there and the windows in the offices across the hall.

One other really good thing about his office is that he has good cell phone reception.  His previous office space was in a metal building, and he had to keep his cell phone in just the right place or it dropped the signal.

One not so good thing is that the move didn't cut down on his travel time to and from work as much as he had hoped.  Since this office building is located in downtown Huntsville, there is a lot of school and work traffic, so it slows things down.

All in all though, I think he is happy in his new space.  He got a warm welcome, and is all set up with his own key card and stuff, so he's good to go!

And that's just what he's doing... he's already quite busy with work!

Second Cousins

Ellie's Daddy Richard and Bryce's Daddy John are cousins, so I reckon that makes them second cousins!  When Becky sent me the picture of Bryce, I immediately thought of the picture I had of Ellie that was similar, and wanted to put them side by side.

Click on the picture and view it full size to get a good look. . .

Cute kids if I do say so myself! ;-)

Perception vs. Reality

Sometimes what you think and what is real are not the same thing.  Okay, maybe a lot of the time, but here are a couple of instances that happened to me recently.

Mirror, Mirror, Is That All?

We bought Jonathan a mirror for his birthday.  Sounds pretty chintzy, doesn't it?

Well, it was a mirror for his car, as the one on the passenger side got busted.  He looked around at junkyards for a replacement, but his Kia is too new.  None in the junkyards.  So then he checked online and found the best deal.

Let's just say it was over $50.  Me being ignorant, my perception was that price was for the whole assembly... the mirror and that domed metal part it sets in.

When it arrived and Jonathan opened the bigger box, then brought out THIS box:

It became obvious to me very quickly that no way that held the whole assembly.  (Yeah, I know, I'm a real genius sometimes.)

No indeed, THIS is what we got Jonathan for his birthday:

Doesn't look like much, does it?

However, Jonathan informed me it's more than just a mirror, and has some stuff on the back. . .

And that includes parts to allow the mirror to be moved 'remotely' and such.

Obviously, my perception and the reality were not even close.  Jonathan chided me that I was thinking in terms of prices at junkyards, that no way you could buy the entire thing that "cheaply".

Okay, I'm behind the times.  I just never expected that little bit of glass to cost so  much.

You Can't Get There From Here. . .

Or, Another mistaken perception of mine tied in with a birthday.

Today is Ellie's 8th birthday.  Just amazes me that she is 8 years old already!

I sent her a birthday card with some $$ to go toy shopping, but I was afraid it wouldn't get to her in time.  So when I sent it, instead of sending her the entire amount of $$ I was going to spend on her birthday, I held some back.

I had the bright idea that my back-up plan would be to send her a gift card for some apps for her iPad, and that I would just pop online on her birthday and buy the card, and they'd deliver it electronically like it works at Amazon.

Yeah, right.

After searching around for awhile trying to find where the gift cards were, I finally Skyped Richard and asked him if he knew.  Turns out it was well that I did, because you have to buy the gift card through the Canadian Apple store for it to be used in Canada.

So I signed up for the Canadian Apple / iTunes store, used the link Richard sent me to get the right gift card, and was going through the check-out procedure when I hit the first glitch there... they didn't like the street address I gave them.  Asked Richard and turns out they are no longer living on an Avenue, but it got changed to Street, so yeah, use the address they suggested.

Then I put in the postal code (that's equivalent to our zip code to U.S. readers who might not know), and it didn't like that either.  What???

Turns out I'd been using the wrong zip code.  After checking with Richard to see what was the right code, it became obvious that at some point in time I miscopied a G as a 6.  (It's going to be interesting to see if Ellie gets her mail any faster once I start using the correct STREET and postal code!)

Okay, got that fixed and I finally had Ellie's address completely entered and all the info was finally accepted.  Time to move on to the billing address.

Well, like I said, you can't get there from here.  It wanted a province and postal code for info, and all I had was a state and zip code.

I got hold of a customer representative and asked if there was any way for a U.S. person to buy a Canadian person a gift card.  The answer, in a word, was: NO

I can't buy a card in the U.S. store and send that to her because it wouldn't work in her "Canadian" iPad.  I can't buy a card in the Canadian store because it won't take my U.S. address and credit card.

Finally my Canadian Ambassador (aka Richard) said to just send him the $$ and he'd buy the card.  Only when he went online to buy it, he discovered that someone has to be home to sign for the card when it's delivered!!!

They sure don't make it easy to buy anything.

Bottom line... he's going to the grocery store and buy one there.  At this point, she DID get her card on time, so this will be for her "2nd birthday" when they have a party during their spring break.

So my naive perception of getting online on Ellie's birthday and sending her a gift card for her iPad was totally blown out of the water when reality smacked me in the face.  I spent a couple of hours trying to do something that it ends up there was no way to do.

Perception vs. Reality.  Sure wish mine matched more often!