I am still recovering from our trip to Oshkosh. Work was a tad on the hectic side when I got in. There were some emergencies that nearly caused them to call me while I was on vacation, but they managed to resist that urge. Thankfully.

After work I had an appointment with our new school teacher. I created a user account for her on our network, and then we created new accounts for all the new students and changed the passwords on all the existing students. I showed her what we had and made a list of things that need some attention. I will get to that as soon as I can.

When I got home I started striking tents. They were all well dry by then, and I detected no hint of mustiness.

Penny helpfully brought me sticks to throw while I did that. When a tent is struck, the last thing to do is to roll it up so it can be stuffed into a canvas bag. That action always causes it to balloon out as the trapped air finds its way to the unrolled section which gets smaller and smaller. I usually lay on that to force the air through the fabric. Penny took that as a sign that she should jump on me and lick my face. Not very helpful at all actually.

I struck the three large tents, but the two smaller three-man jobs are still out there now. If it rains tonight, it rains tonight. I will strike them when they are dry, be that tomorrow or sometime next week. I was just too wiped out from striking the other three to continue.

We got a notice from the Post Office in our mailbox today. They want us to fix the wash out in front of our box or they will no longer deliver our mail. The “wash out” was put there by the city with their backhoe last week. They deepened the ditches on both sides of the road and made a mess of the catchment pond. Va called me and told me about the notice, so I called the city’s highway department and explained the predicament. They promised to send the backhoe out again either today (which did not happen) or tomorrow morning (we’ll see). Hopefully they will fix the pond and the ditch (I told them about both).

As I recover from the trip, I keep thinking of dorky things I did while travelling. Did you know that you cannot haggle with a toll booth operator? As it turns out, they have no “wiggle room”. We pulled up to a toll booth, and the lady said “That will be $6.25.” I made a counter offer of $5.00. She wouldn’t budge. I offered to throw in some grocery coupons. Still no budge. So I gave her the $6.25. She laughed, and really, that’s all I was trying to get from her. I hope she enjoyed the encounter.

We got to the church last night at 12:06 am, so my midnight estimate was pretty respectable. The parents were glad to see their kids, and the kids were all in a happy mood too. The boys and I got home a bit before 1:00am. Penny was beside herself with joy.

I told the boys I was going to sleep till noon. Thirty-nine. Pacific Standard Time. In reality, I got up at 10:00. After I got dressed, I went around the yard/woods seeing what was in bloom. The ground nut bloomed while I was away! I’d post a pic, but it seems that would be borderline criminal since I haven’t posted any pics of Oshkosh yet. So… here we are Thursday morning in front of our conference’s entrance:

Central NH Flames at the Courage to Stand camporee

Central NH Flames at the Courage to Stand camporee

The catchment pond is still isolated from the ditch. Maybe I’ll contact the city tomorrow about that. It has also silted up pretty good, so it’s only half as deep as when they “finished” with it. The mud around the pond is perfect for animal tracks. I have about convinced myself that a canine of some sort visits that pond on a daily (or nightly) basis. They are not Penny’s tracks, as everyone in the family promises they don’t let her go to the pond, and she never goes outside alone (her choice) for more than a few minutes. There are also several feline tracks out there, and some that I couldn’t figure out. They almost looked like knife blade marks – very deep and narrow ruts, with no surrounding impressions. Dunno!

Later, Va and I went into Concord. Connor had left a bag of laundry in my trunk, so we went to the church to drop that off. He’ll get it Saturday. I retrieved all the tents from the trailer so I could pitch them when I got home. Then we went to Target and ordered 177 prints of some of the photos I had taken over the past month. And we ate some lunch.

When we got home, I pitched five tents in the yard. The Colemans were starting to get that smell too. I flipped them over and hosed the mud off the underside of the floor, then turned them over to let the floor dry. If they are still musty tomorrow, I will hit them with bleach. I strung the flies out on some trees, and on the deck – wherever I could find a place. The new Asp 3’s I bought before we left were still damp too, so those went up first.

I am still pretty wiped out.

Today we had to rush around a bit at breakfast time. Jonathan, David, and
Adam were slated to raise the flag at the Union HQ and had be to in their
full dress uniforms. I don’t remember what time that was, because they
kept changing it on us. First we heard 6:45. Then 7:45, 7:30, and 7:00.
I think 7:00 was the final time. The flag raising itself was at 8:00.

I couldn’t be there, because I had a director’s meeting at 7:30. Also,
our group was scheduled for community service, and we were supposed to be
at the busses at 8:30. As soon as the boys finished hoisting the flag, they
hightailed it back to camp to change, and I must say, they can do that pretty
fast. I can never change into or out of a uniform in under 15 minutes it
seems, even when I’m in a hurry.

We didn’t make it to the busses at 8:30. It was more like 8:40. I had
underestimated the amount of time it takes to walk from our camp to the
busses. But the busses did not leave until 8:45, so we were there in plenty
of time for that.

They took us to Neenah, WI, where they have several parks. The one we worked
at is overgrown with buckthorn, which is an alien species. We have that
stuff in NH too. Birds eat the berries, but they derive almost no nutrition
from them. It works as a laxative, causing them to deposit the seeds without
gleaning any benefit ofr their trouble. Also, this stuff tends to establish
itself pretty thickly. Very little grows underneath it. The volunteer
coordinator had been working the area with a chainsaw and cut down thousands
of these trees. We hauled the brush out of the woods and piled it along
the curb so the city can send the chipper through and take care of the rest of
the job.

When we got back, I sent everyone off to the showers. That’s when I realized
that I had set up a meeting with all my pals from the forum on
http://pathfindersonline.org. That was to happen at 1:30, and when I sent
everyone off to the showers, it was 12:45. I didn’t think I could take a shower
and make it over there in time, so I cleaned up as best I could and went over.

I got to meet several people face-to-face with whom I have corresponded for
years (really!). It was pretty cool. On the way back I stopped at the
Potomac Conference and saw my old friend Roger Rinehart. He’s an area
coordinator for Potomac, and is a member of the church we attended in Virginia
for 18 years. Potomac had a fire tower set up – the same one they had here
five years ago. I asked for and was given permission to climb it and took
several photos of the campground. I don’t have the bandwidth to upload it
though, so that will hafta wait!

Then I came back to camp, grabbed my stuff and took my shower. By then, Joyce
had taken most of the younger kids to the hangers, and Jessica had taken
the teens to catch a bus to the YMCA. They say it is a very impressive place.

I got in my car and drove to Target. I bought two pillows (they boys forgot
theirs and have been sleeping uncomfortably without them). But the important
part of the trip was that Target is air conditioned. I also used their
real bathroom. That alone was worth the trip!

The evening program went far better tonight. The people in control of the
program understood that they had a major problem, and they addressed it.
People were far more polite tonight, and the program was very good. Melissa
was posting to Facebook in real-time, and since I am connection constrained,
I will leave coverage of that to her.

The wifi at Oshkosh ain’t what was promised. The people who were contracted to deliver did not. Or something.

Last night I was able to connect to an access point in the hangers, which are
literally a mile from here. I had written a somewhat lengthy post, but before
I was able to post it, I lost the connection and was displayed with the
“Try Again” option. So I clicked a few buttons here and there in an attempt
to ressurect the connection. While it was working on that, I pressed the
back button so I could add a note about how horrible the connection is. But
when I did that, the whole post had disappeared. No draft had been saved by
Wordpress either, because the connection had terminated before it was time to
do even one timed backup. Bummer!

So I will start again.

We left Sunday morning and drove all day uneventfully. We stopped at a church
in Lorain, OH for the night. Our hosts had laid out a breakfast for us, which
was very positively received by our group. We set out again by 7:30 am.

I guess the worst part of our trip was Chicago. We were travelling in three
vehicles with three different GPS’s. All three choose different routes through
the city, and we ended up separated. At one point, Melissa called me, and I
almost didn’t take the call. I figured there was no way I could talk on a
cell phone while driving through heavy traffic trying to follow a GPS, and I
was right. Melissa was trying to tell me what road she was on, and I missed
an exit ramp. The plan was for us to get through the city and find a place
to stop so we could make sandwiches and eat. Melissa and Joyce enentually
did meet up again, but the folks in my car gave up at 3:00pm and stopped at
a restaurant. We decided that the best coourse of action would be to meet in

While driving through Wisconsin David was apparently impressed with the amount
of corn they grow here. There was corn as far as the eye could see. We’d top
a hill, and David and Adam would say in unison, “Hey look! Corn.” This
was repeated about twice per minute for 60 miles or so.

We eventually got to the EAA and saw that there were already thousands of tents
pitched. I estimate that an hour passed between the time we got to the entrance
and the time we got to our camp site. It was the mother of all traffic jams.
Melissa and Joyce followed about an hour later.

Our guests from the North England Conference (in the UK) showed up before we
did and hung out with the Portsmouth club (they’re in our conference, and they
are some really good people).

But I guess all that is old news now.

Today I led a couple of our kids to the hangers, and we went around each
looking at all the honors that were being offered and all the stuff that
was for sale. They were interested in pin trading, and they did quite a
lot of it.

I had given each kid a tiny little composition book and gave them an
assignment. They were to meet Pathfinders from other conferences and get
them to sign their names and write down their conference. Whichever kid got
the most conferences would get a pin. Joy won with 25 pins.

The evening program was pretty good. Except that we got to see precious little
of it. After the preliminaries, people actually started leaving in droves.
We we seated in a highly unfortunate area too, so all we could see between
us and the jumbotrons was a long line of people making an early (and rude)
exodus. This is not how we do things in our conference. I won’t write
much more about that though, because the behavior of my fellow Pathfinders
makes me ashamed. I thought we were a better group of people than that.

Today at church I got the surprise of my life. I mentioned to one of the Pathfinder parent’s that I still had one ticket to the Camporee in Oshkosh that no one was going to use. She asked me to not tell her son, because he really wants to go, but they (the parents) weren’t really ready for that yet. I told her OK, and I didn’t mention it to him. But one of the other staff members did. She is much closer to his parents than I am, and she actually talked them into letting him join us. I was astonished and delighted!

They aren’t going to tell him until tomorrow morning. I might go something like “Get up! Your things are packed. You’re going to Oshkosh.” He will be one happy kid too.

I still have a few of my own personal things to pack, and I need to go to a store tonight to get us some lunch for the road tomorrow. Jonathan wants me to take him to the church so he can make some adjustments to the AV computer so it’ll be usable by his replacements next week. Once I get Beth to bed tonight, I will finish my packing and then we’ll head into Concord to take care of those last minute things.

I don’t think I’ll be able to post anything tomorrow, but the will have an open WiFi at the Camporee, so I should be able to keep this somewhat updated. I think the biggest challenge is going to be charging my laptop, but there should be plenty of options for doing that.

One other note: the Forked Blue Curls were in bloom today. The only place I have ever seen them are at the church, and I’ve been looking for them every week. Today… there they were! I don’t have the pics on my laptop yet though, so I can’t upload them. Here’s a shot I took last year.

Forked Blue Curls (Trichostema dichotomum)

Forked Blue Curls (Trichostema dichotomum)

This was still in bloom on August 30 last year, so maybe I’ll have the opportunity when I get back to take my time with some careful photography. We’ll see!

Tonight on the way home, I stopped at the home of two of my Pathfinders. I wanted to make sure they were both ready to go to Oshkosh with us next week and give them their T-shirts. When I got there, I found that one of them had changed his mind and would not be joining us.

This did not exactly make me happy. They did not buy their tickets because they cannot afford them. Instead, some donors covered that cost for them. Easy come, easy go.

An email went out to all the Pathfinder directors in our conference yesterday, asking if anyone had a ticket (they have been sold out for months). In the back of my mind, I suspected that I might, because this kid has a history of agreeing to do things like this and then backing out. Frankly, if he doesn’t want to come with us, I would rather he no go. So when I got home, I answered that email. Yes, I have a ticket. So now someone who really does want to go will be able to. She can’t afford it either. I did contact our donor and clear it with her before committing the ticket.

In other exasperating news, I got a message from another Pathfinder tonight. He’s on vacation with his family, and they wanted to know what time we were leaving Sunday morning, and if there was anything else they needed to know. Well, there was plenty! Like we want all of their stuff at the church Thursday evening so we can load it up. I do NOT want to be loading stuff on Sunday morning. We have arranged to spend the first night in a church (for free) in Ohio, and I want to get there before 10:00pm. I have asked that they FedEx his stuff to Oshkosh. The other monkey wrench this throws into the works is that I need his medical release form by Thursday too. Filled out and signed. I have to make copies of these – one for each staff member, and each kid wears the original in a plastic badge holder. I need time to make those copies, stuff them in envelopes for the staff, and fold & insert the original into the badge holders. Looks like there will be some faxing in his future.

I killed about 20 Japanese beetles tonight. Plus I killed at least that many Friday, and again on Sunday. These little blighters are doing a number on my green beans. I am probably going to break down and buy some Sevin for them to dine on later this week, as I will not be able to pull them off and crush them when I’m at Oshkosh next week.

While I was out beetle-killing, Beth came out and reminded me that I wanted to go to the library tonight. She had some books that are due tomorrow, and I wanted to go check the place out and get a library card. So we did that. I checked out a book on macrame, and another on house painting. Not that I am all that interested in either. Rather, I would like to learn about them so I can write up some answers to the Macrame and House Painting – Interior honors in my Wikibook project.

My approach will be to actually earn the Macrame honor first, then write it up. I may do the work twice – once to earn the honor, and then again a second time so I can photograph the steps to illustrate the chapter. Of course it would not hurt to photograph the steps the first time either, and if everything turns out OK, I’d be finished. Yeah. I’ll try it that way.

As for house painting, I have done that more than once. I just wanted to see what the professionals had to say about some of the finer points.

My squash has sprouted, yay! I did not count the sprouts, but it looks to be over half of them. We’ve had some hot weather with afternoon thundershowers, and I guess that’s pretty much ideal for germinating seeds. I will replant any that refused to come up probably on Wednesday.

The forecast today was for thundershowers galore, so the church social was canceled. That means no lovo, and no Cultural Food Preparation honor. Maybe some other time. We did go ahead with the Pathfinder summer planning session. We made a few adjustments to the calendar, all for the better in my opinion. We are currently projecting four new members, and there’s the possibility that we may reclaim two old members. I expect to retain eight of the nine we had last year, so if all that happens, we will have 14 members. There’s also the possibility of picking up another four or five kids. We will be running five classes this year: Friend, Companion, Explorer, Pioneer, and Guide. The staff accepted my proposal for who would counsel each unit too, and I couldn’t be more pleased with that.

If the social had not been canceled, we would have finished up on time for it to start. But since everyone had blocked out that time anyhow, most everyone stayed and we talked about fund raising plans. We’ll be adding three or four fund raisers. The best one, I think, is Saturday evening babysitting from Late October through December. The staff will take turns manning this one so no one has to dedicate every Saturday night for two months to Pathfinders. We’re also going to collect used ink cartridges, do a couple of car washes, and maybe add a bake sale to the yard sale. We will also press forward with the citrus fruit sales, parking lot sweeping, and Memorial Day yard sale. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make a huge dent in the funding we need to go to Oshkosh in August 2009.

I was about ready to leave when Melissa suggested we clean out the closet. It did need to be cleaned, so we dove in and did it. I guess that took an hour, but we tossed all kinds of trash and found a few things we forgot we had. We would like to move the cubby-hole cabinet into our closet (if we get the OK from the church) so that each Pathfinder can have a cubby as a place to put their work in progress. That should add some accountability to the mess anyhow. We’ll see.