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.

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.

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There were days when I couldn’t ever imagine it happening and there were days when I couldn’t wait for it to happen, but ready or not, it has finally happened. The oldest boy has left the nest and is off to find his own way in the world. He’s off to a new city, a new job, and his first stab at true self sufficiency. I’m very proud and a little sad, but I recognize that this is exactly what I raised him to do, live his life as best he can. I wish him all the luck in the world and hope he finds success and happiness.
And while I recognize that the time for him to get out of my house has come, and I don’t want him back, I let him know, that I know, life is rough and full of unexpected twists and that we will be here for him if he needs us. I expect that he will be back once or twice before he truly finds his wings and soars, and that is okay. I didn’t make it on my first try and I don’t think most do. Those initial lessons are tough and unexpected. Sometimes too tough and too unexpected. Life has a way of doing that to you.
My advice to him was simply this; if things start to go bad, ask for help sooner rather than later. You can always come back home to regroup. But it’ll be better for everyone if you don’t put yourself in a hole that takes you three years to get out of.
Good luck out there, call your mother, and don’t be a stranger.
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MothersDay
Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. Here are some inspirational Mother’s Day quotes and a few cards to my particular set of mothers on this happy holiday.

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Betty

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
Abraham Lincoln
Men are what their mothers made them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Shirley

By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
 
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Gloria

I got to grow up with a mother who taught me to believe in me.
Antonio Villaragigosa
I was always at peace because of the way my mom treated me.
Martina Hingis
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Heidi

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
Theodore Hesburgh
A mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.
Unknown
Enjoy your day and have a very HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

The Art of Manliness is an awesome website full of great advice on what it is to be a man and how to go about being the best man you can be.  I find their stuff to be informative, useful, and  very well done.
I don’t share or repost a lot of stuff, but being as I have three boys, all of dating age, I thought that this was a fantastic video that is both clever and full of advice that is SO true it hurts! They won’t listen to me, but they all love the YouTube, so maybe they’ll take something away from it that will help them in life.
The video is based on an article from the website, 14 Red Flags to Look Out for in a Relationship.

I’m back-filling this one, not because I forgot, but because I didn’t have time to put anything up on the actual date. I was busy spending time with the lady in question.


 
I didn’t think it could get any better, what with that first year of marriage being as good as it was, but it did. The second year of marriage to Lady Ronn was even better than the first.
Happy Anniversary to us. Looking forward to many more.
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Happy Birthday to me. Had the whole crew here tonight to celebrate my getting older and wiser. It was a ‘super’ birthday and Lady Ronn gave me something I’ve been wanting for a long while.
Glade everyone was there. Sorry that work called and I had to rush off to fix a not-leak at the shoe store. That’s the job. What can I say? We stayed in and ordered pizza, which was probably nicer than going out to dinner anyway. Thanks to each of you.47th birthday

Lady Ronn and I are celebrating our first anniversary today.
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It’s been a year since we were wed. A good year. I am happy, I am loved, and I love in return… It’s good to be the king.
Here’s to another 100 years.
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