If you were wondering where I was for the last 10 days or so, or maybe just why there were no posts for the last little bit, I’m going to address that in the next couple posts. If you really need to know and don’t want to wait, here’s the condensed version. I took some PTO to indulge in a birthday, anniversary, vacation, and being sick. If you want or need more, keep reading.

I took a stretch of PTO to encompass my birthday and wedding anniversary (not the same day) and extended to a weekend trip with the family to Hocking Hills, Ohio. Last year my mom set up a trip to Mackinac Island here in Michigan and my brother hooked us up with a nice condo on the island. This year my mom found us a cabin at Trickle Creek, so I loaded up the arohen family and set off to meet up with the same crew that was with us last year.

Three of us packed up and hopped in the car to pick up our fourth on the other side of the state. We were on the road before nine and had the whole crew together and on our way toward Ohio by eleven. The youngest of our brood was feeling a bit under-the-weather, but he persevered for the sake of a free vacation.

The trip there was mostly uneventful. We missed one turn on the GPS and it recalculated our route before we realized we’d missed it, which led to a long trip across Ohio through farm country, nearly running out of gas, and then stopping for gas at what was probably the only gas station in 10-miles or better. Seriously, they were 3-deep waiting for gas on a Friday afternoon. It was kinda crazy. We had one stop for lunch at what I thought was an unknown BBQ joint. Turns out it’s a chain and I’ve eaten at the one in Jenison, Dickey’s. Not bad. Not great. We finally arrived at the cabin and into the arms of our waiting family just about 5:30 PM. We watched a couple of my mom’s vacation videos, had a chicken dinner, played some apples to apples, and just caught up with everyone’s lives to finish out day one of the trip.

There were eight of us in total and the cabin was plenty roomy for us all. Two decks, a fire pit, hot tub, and even a tabletop shuffleboard and bumper pool tables. There was a decent sized kitchen, a grill on the deck, and a big farm-style dining table that fit everyone. It was very nice. A good choice on my mom’s part.

Saturday morning I made coffee and started breakfast with a little help from the middle-child and everyone else; eggs, meats, potatoes, and breads. Then we split-up into two cars, hit the Hocking Hills visitor center for some touristy information, and then made for Ash Cave. We went for a short hike, saw some amazing rock cliffs, and what passes for a cave in Hocking Hills. Really, more of a rock overhang. I’ve been to caves. This, a cave, it is not. But still very cool and very inspiring for wilderness adventures.

Our next stop was a bit more elaborate welcome center and another hike, this time to Old Man’s Cave. Just as we headed out towards the cave the park rangers raced past us and we heard enough to know someone had fallen. Turns out it was a 22-year-old man who fell 75-feet somewhere by the upper falls. We didn’t hear the details until later, but we saw him brought past on a stretcher and heard the helicopter come in. Sad to hear that he died the following wednesday. Honestly, I’m surprised he didn’t die on impact. Everywhere we walked was rock and falling 75-feet onto limestone is no laughing matter. The trails here were a bit rougher than expected and my folks were convinced to turn back, though they did venture down and then back up a very dark carved staircase. I don’t fault them in the least, it was something of a struggle to convince my lovely wife to take a few of those trails and she’s got 20 years on them both. We backtracked and walked some of the smoother trails, saw more amazing rock faces, and wished there was more water rushing over the falls. Probably the early spring, during the snow melt, is the best time for that vista. It made for a nice day.

Afterward, we went back to the cabin for a afternoon cocktail and then split into smaller groups. One group went to a moonshine distillery tour, split again, and one group went fishing and the other went grocery shopping. I stayed at the cabin with the folks and visited, moonshine and gout don’t really get along well together. Once we all reconvened, our aspiring chef prepared hamburgers for dinner. A bit later we did s’mores around the firepit and even later still, after I was asleep, there was some drinking and hot tubbing to finish out day number two of the family vacation.

Sunday morning I made pancakes, blueberry and pineapple upside down, along with some help making the rest of the feast. Afterward, mom passed out a couple Christmas gifts that she found in her garage for Lady Ronn and myself. Which was unexpected to say the least. Then we loaded into the cars and headed to Rock House. Which is a real cave and not much of a house, though it’s not a terribly big cave. I’d say it’s bigger than a house, but with far less level floors. Again the path got rough and we split. I took the boys and went up to the Rock House and over the ridge trail. The rest of the crew turned back, which after forging the trail I think was for the best. There were some serious steps going up to the top of the ridge. Once we were done at the park we went to see a glass blowing show, but they weren’t blowing on Sunday. Which kinda blew. And then we stopped at a big flea market for browsing and lunch before heading back to the cabin. We finished the last of the cocktail, had an afternoon snack, and listened to a lively debate between two individuals 60-years apart in age. The day ended with us leaving, but it was great to spend time with the family and we had a great time. I only wish we could do this sort of thing more often.

We had the cabin until Monday morning, but the arohen family had to leave Sunday evening so that one of the boys could get to work and Lady Ronn could start the Fall semester at GRCC the next morning. We left closer to 7 than 6 PM on Sunday, stopped once for gas and food, and made it home at 4 AM. School was at 9 AM, work at 11 AM, and I slept in until noon. Ain’t vacation nice. But then, by Wednesday evening I knew I had contracted whatever plague the youngest boy had brought with him on the trip. I’ll write about that next. Later.

Hey, if you like pictures of cats. Or more specifically, if you like pictures of my cat, you should check out Lady Ronn’s Instagram gallery dedicated to said animal, MyCatKillian. She’s a cute cat and the wife does a great job of capturing her personality. Plus, I’ve made you aware of a thing Lady Ronn does with her photography, which should keep you satisfied until she gets around to building her webpage.

MyCatKillian – Instagram

You know what, you’re probably not satisfied. I know you’re not. I can feel it in my bones. You want more. More from that lovely Lady Ronn. So much more. Well, okay. Did you know that she’s also doing an instagram page of her other photography? I bet you didn’t. But you do now, so no more excuses. Check it out at photosbymccarrick, or just click the image below to be taken right there.

PhotosByMcCarrick on Instagram

She also does most of the posts for Ball Park Floral on instagram and facebook. You know, incase you just can’t get enough.

So there you go. I’ve hooked you up with some awesome photography sites. Later

***I changed the links from HeidiMcCarrick to PhotosByMcCarrick to reflect the change in Heidi’s Instagram page***

the last of my grandparents has passed

I am very fortunate to have made it to 50-years-old and still had a living grandparent. But, sadly, my last grandparent has passed on. My mother let me know she had gone to the hospital on Thursday; on Friday morning she gave us the bad news. Grandma Betty had passed in the earliest hours of Friday morning.

It’s been a sad few days around here and I’m sure they will continue for many weeks to come. She lived a good long life and she lived it her way right up until the end. I haven’t quite gotten my thoughts wrapped up enough to expound on it much more than to say, she was loved and she will be missed. I’ll put something else together in the coming days.

Five years back we tied the knot for the second time. Sure, we were a bit heavier, grayer, and more set in our patterns the second time around. But we are also wiser, more worldly, and have seen what it takes to make a relationship not just function, but blossom. 

Life doesn’t ever stop throwing things in your path, but one way or another we keep going. Together. Hand in hand. 

I’ve got no regrets. It’s been a great 5-years. Sure they’ve been full of changes, challenges, and creative negotiations, but nothing good is ever easy.

The next five will be even better (now that the kids are out of the house). The five after those will be better still. And on and on into the future.

A day of celebration and of honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. Let’s celebrate with a movie celebrating my mom.

and here’s one to celebrate the mother of my children.

Both of those were compliments of the Google Photos Assistant. I only take responsibility for posting them. 😉 Love you both.
In celebration of mothers everywhere, but mine in particular

I’m going to talk about my uncle Glen. I don’t talk much about family, because I never know who it’s safe to talk about and who it’s not. That’s why you don’t see much about the kids, the wife, or anyone else in my extended family. But today I’m going to make an exception.

Glen Edward Nichols

January 19, 1951 – April 13, 2018

I lost my uncle Friday night, or rather he passed away. I can’t really say that I lost him, because I don’t know that I ever really knew him. I liked him. I enjoyed the time I spent with him. But I wasn’t really involved in his life or that of his family. Facebook doesn’t count here. This is a situation that’s much the same for most relatives outside my immediate family. I think we’re all guilty of this to one degree or another.

When he was diagnosed, I was quietly dumbstruck that a man who was so healthy and full of life could get such horrible news. As he went through chemo and then the cell transplant, I was happy to see him posting his progress and keeping everyone in the loop, but I let other voices do the well-wishing. I gave thumbs-ups and occasionally a brief encouraging word on his convalescence, but never got around to visiting or engaging in any real communication. I didn’t reach out and I regret that.
But this isn’t about me and my sense of guilt and remorse; I’ve grown comfortable with my failings. This is about my uncle and honoring him and his memory. I’m confident he was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. To my eye, he always seemed very supportive of his family, I think he took a lot of joy from them, and it always felt like there was a lot of love there—in a quiet, Nichols sort of way. He was a beer brewer, a wine maker, and I can say that I enjoyed most of what he let me sample. I don’t know much, but even without Facebook, I know that he loved baseball and golf. But, this just feels like a list…
I remember when I was younger, probably somewhere in middle school, before he and my aunt had kids of their own, getting a pill bottle full of flies and a microscope as gifts from them. I remember trying to convince them to play D&D with me, or maybe just trying to explain it to them. I remember feeling that with less than 20-years separating us that maybe I could relate to them more easily than my mom. But then I became a teen and I stopped liking everyone for a time. I grew-up in fits and spurts, became entangled with my own life and what was going on with first me and then my own family. As everybody gets involved in their own lives, it just becomes so easy to let the distance develop into disassociation.
I have good memories with my uncle Glen; camping and tubing down the river, visiting and gift exchanges at his home on the lake, family gatherings, and those younger days. But sadly, most of my memories are peripheral to him and not of us, uncle and nephew. That’s not bad. But it just goes to show how we can just take relationships for granted and never really work to develop them. I wish I would have known him better, but I’m afraid we didn’t have all that much in common. Or maybe we did. It’s too late to find out now.
As I said, I liked my uncle. I enjoyed the time I spent with him. From my perspective, he was a good man, a proud father, and a content husband, who had many friends and who seemed to enjoy life. Mostly, I thought of him as a quiet kind man of good humors and calm disposition.

always liked this one

I think I’ll pull out that bottle of Happy Dad wine and drink a toast to the memory of a fine man who I never really got to know.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day. Are you Irish? Am I? You’d think so, what with a name like McCarrick. But I really have no idea. I was born in the U.S.. My father, my grandfather, and his father were all born here in the U.S.
So the barest of internet research turns up this from the first result in my Google search:

found at irishgathering.ie/clan_info

Results are from the Surname Database:
This interesting surname is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic Mac Concharraige, composed of the elements “cu” meaning “hound”, “dog” plus “carraig” “rock” hence “hound of the rock”. The surname is found mainly in Ulster and County Roscommon. Recordings date back to the early 16th Century, (see below). Further recordings include one John McCarrick who appears in the parish records of Monaie in Scotland in 1683. Maria McCarrick married pat Kennedy on February 10th 1831, at Emlaghead, Sligo, Ireland. Bridgeta Mc Carrick was christened in the Roman Catholic Church Calry, Sligo, on May 19th 1859, and Francis McCarrick married Bryan Winifred on May 31st 1864, at Castlederg, Tyrone, Ireland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Cuthbert McCarik, which was dated 1535, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, during the reign of King James V of Scotland, 1513 – 1542. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Read more: http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/McCarrick#ixzz5A1AjtMJo

Being as my grasp of geography is somewhat lacking, another search tells me that Ulster is a province in the north of the island of Ireland. It is made up of nine counties, six of which are in Northern Ireland and three of which are in the Republic of Ireland. And that County Roscommon is a landlocked county in Ireland’s central north. So, from that, I can gather that McCarrick is at least a name found in Ireland. But there is a lot of talk of Scotland in that block of text as well. Which makes sense, as when you speak of Gaelic, you’re typically speaking about Scottish and Irish. My great grandmother mentioned Welsh as being part of the mix as well. My mother has actually done some genealogy work on all this, but she’s on a bit of a vacation right now and I’m not going to bother her with this.
So am I Irish? Nope. Born and raised for generations here in the U.S. of A. Do I have Irish ancestry? Fuck if I know. I think there is enough evidence to say, probably. And damn it, that’s good enough to warrant Lady Ronn making corn beef and potatoes every year on this date.
Enjoy the day. Don’t drink too much green beer. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

I talked to my brother yesterday on the phone. First time in months, may have been before Thanksgiving when I talked to him last. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was shortly after I started back to work. Anyway, he went out and bought himself a Xbox with his fantasy football winnings. Which is great news, now if I can just convince him to spend the cash to get a cable connection for his PC and a subscription to Xbox Live we can hang out online and play some games. Also, another of the guys from work has picked up his copy of Xbox Live and is just minutes away from being online. This is all great because now my chances of finding someone I know to play games with has increased yet again.

I was walking around the house yesterday and I realized that in order to sell the place we would have to do more than just fix the floor in the kitchen, redo the bathroom, and replace some closet doors. The upstairs carpet is shot, and the downstairs isn’t much better. If we’re really going to sell, we’re going to have to at least replace the carpet in both of the girls rooms and the stairway/hall area. It’s not terrible, and probably not all that expensive, but it’s just one more thing that we’ve got to get done before we can sell. Need to get working on these projects if we’re going to be out by July.

According to the middle school webpage, report cards went out to the students on Friday, January 23rd. This wouldn’t really be news, except that here it is the 29th and I still haven’t seen a report card for either of the girls. Looks like the shenanigans are going to continue through this year. Which is bad because I think they really will hold Karin back this year. Kirra on the other hand will simply not be allowed to graduate High School until she gets the required credits. I think I’m in for a wild ride in the next couple of years. Can’t wait to hear how the boys are doing.

My mother tells me that my grandfather died on 12/24/2003 and that their is some sort of inheritance. I can’t imagine what kind of inheritance there could be; $5000, $1000, nothing. Whatever it is I’m not going to get my hopes up. The man was retired for nearly as long as I can remember and I’m sure he didn’t have a lot stuck away for the kids. Well, now that I have the date I need to dig out the scanner and put together a memorial page for him.

Just got word that my grandfather on my father’s side passed away. I’ll write more after I’ve had a chance to think about this a bit and gather my thoughts. But suffice to say for now, I wish I’d have known him better.

Robert George McCarrick
May 7th, 1923 – December 24th 2003

Well, today was my son’s birthday. Tyler turned 13. He’s a teen now. I tried to call him and got the machine. He never called back, not that they ever do, so I’m left to assume that he didn’t get my message. Great. Another father of the year vote for me. Anyway, my grandfather is coming into town, so the whole family is going to do a Father’s Day/Tyler’s Birthday thing on Sunday. Should be nice. I haven’t seen my grandfather in a long while. I can’t remember if it was last year, or the year before, that he was last in town.
Last I asked Ty, he still didn’t know what he wanted for a gift. So the wife and I went out tonight and looked around. Didn’t get him anything. But we did come home with groceries, two paperbacks, and I picked up a grammar book. Claims to be able to improve my sentence structure in 30 minutes a day. I don’t expect it to be very interesting, but after getting my novel back from the proof-reader (thanks Doug!) I realized that I need to do something to improve my writing. See I still have problems with comma’s, and sentence structure. I figure that this can’t make it any worse and it should save Doug from using all that red ink.