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Ordinary Adventures Blog

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About this blog

Living the simple life

Entries in this blog

 

First Shot

I got my first Covid vaccine shot today at the Hy-Vee pharmacy. They’re very efficient, and they answered all of my questions: Will I glow in the dark? Will my hair change color? Will the government track me? Afterwards, I rushed over to Lake Anita for a long, strenuous walk to get my heart pumping to evenly distribute the tracking chips. I wouldn’t want a nanochip pileup in my Parietal Lobe. (JK) It was a beautiful day for a walk: Windy, 75 degrees, partly cloudy. I took a detour onto the

simplybill

simplybill

 

Senior cognition troubles?

Ever since I retired last August, my brain seems to be operating in neutral. Today I committed two very serious faux pas’ while grocery shopping.  I went to the local market to stock up on steaks and pork chops at their awesome meat counter. The two employees were very friendly, and wished me a nice day as I left. I noticed that their black masks matched their black aprons. Very sharp, very professional. Then I approached the deli counter in hopes of scoring two pounds of their delicio

simplybill

simplybill

 

Adolph Hitler and Brother Stanislaus

This popped up in my Facebook “Memories” this morning. I posted it 5 years ago, but the actual “memory” is from 50 years ago. ————————————————————— I once knew a man who slapped Adolph Hitler. I met him back in the 1960s, during my high school years when I stayed a few weekends at the Catholic monastery in Colfax, Iowa, doing chores and spending time with Father Sean and the Brothers.  Brother Stanislaus was old and small and thin, and he was very quiet, almost invisible. He

simplybill

simplybill

 

Unintentionally entertaining.

I had a funny experience a few days before Christmas. It was one of those experiences that I think I’ll always remember, but it’s safer to write it down now rather than trust my memory. I sometimes don’t even remember what I had for lunch: Ham sandwich? Salami sandwich? Sardines & crackers? Well, my old high school friend Luke who lives in Nebraska texted that he’d be driving to Des Moines to deliver Christmas presents, and asked if I wanted to meet him for lunch at the Wagon Wheel Rest

simplybill

simplybill

 

Hope For The Future.

I have to remind myself of this often. It’s an admonition that crosses all political boundaries, as well as a reminder that, regardless of who’s in power, our peace and tranquillity come from God. Bringing our concerns to Him instead of social media (or the dinner table) leads to peace rather than division. May God bless America and our new President, Joseph Biden. “First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made in behalf of all people, for kings a

simplybill

simplybill

 

Epiphany

I had an epiphany while scanning the Internet on January 6. I saw our elected officials cowering in fear as protestors stormed the venerable halls of the Capital Building. I thought to myself, “Well, politicians, maybe now you understand the fear felt by the citizens of Minneapolis, Kenosha, Portland, and Seattle as violent arsonists burned down the neighborhoods where people work and buy their groceries and get their hair styled. We commoners watched it burn as you politicians said things like

simplybill

simplybill

 

Together

Cold day for a walk, but I just had to get outdoors to ward off my cabin fever. 25 degrees, cloudy skies, light winds blowing across the partially-frozen lake.   I couldn’t believe how busy the beavers have been! They left a fifty-foot trail of downed trees that stretched to the river. The raccoons have been busy too: they climb into the garbage dumpster in the parking lot and toss out pizza cartons and soft drink cups left behind by the RV campers. I have a friend named Jesus who immi

simplybill

simplybill

 

I’m too Softhearted.

I just found a snake in my basement. I’d gone downstairs to the basement to turn off the ceiling fan, when I heard a rattling sound coming from my water heater. The water heater is under the stairs, in a small area without much light, so I got up close to the heater and peered into the darkness to see if one of the pipes coming out of the top had sprung a leak. It was too dark to see much, so I got a flashlight from the kitchen upstairs, and went back down to the basement. I turned on the flashl

simplybill

simplybill

 

Conversations worth writing about.

I drove to the Old Stone Arch Trail this afternoon for a long walk and some IPhone photos. Much cooler weather than my walk earlier this week: 72 degrees vs. 92 degrees. It was like a walk in the park. Or the trail.  I began thinking about a couple of conversations I’ve had recently that I thought were unusual enough to write down for safekeeping. One happened in Walmart, back in the Electronics Dept. where I always check the $5 DVD bin for new movies. Up until recently, the DVDs were throw

simplybill

simplybill

 

Feeling Retired

Today I started to feel like a retired person, though I’m technically not retired until August 31st. No sense waitin’ til it’s official! I was up at 6:00 AM, ran downstairs (I’m not sure if it was my bones creaking or the stairs), started the coffeemaker, tossed some birdseed on the ground outside, then sat down in my bentwood rocking chair and waited by an open window for the critters to show up for breakfast. I shot a squirrel (with my camera) and that’s about it. The other critters didn’

simplybill

simplybill

 

Still training

Lots of excitement around the lake today. I got a good photo of a mama turtle digging a hole in the ground to lay her eggs, and then I almost walked right into a skunk. When the skunk saw me, it went on high alert and raised its tail. I made an abrupt u-turn and let him carry on with his grub-hunting. I startled a flock of vultures out of the trees as I quietly passed underneath them. I counted fifteen vultures, all circling above me, watching me like a little kid opening the oven door to s

simplybill

simplybill

 

Staying in the game

I had my annual physical today. This may sound crazy, but I think of my health statistics in the same way that athletes think of their sports statistics: I try to show improvement in each category. Today was my best yet:  My weight was down 5 lbs. from last year. Blood Pressure: 122/82 (lower than last year). Triglycerides: This year: 185.   Last year: Over 300!  Cholesterol levels: within the healthy range. In my opinion, I deserve at least a Bronze medal. And, I finally got t

simplybill

simplybill

 

Encounters on the trail

I don’t know why, but nowadays, when I go for a walk, I feel an obligation to post photos on Facebook of the little distractions that catch my eye as I’m walking. I’ll be the first to admit that my photos aren’t Pulitzer Prize-worthy, especially using my antiquated iPhone 6s, but I normally walk for two hours and I think that having my good camera swinging back and forth around my neck would soon become an annoyance. And yet, I feel badly when I encounter a wonderful photo op and I’m standi

simplybill

simplybill

 

Vietnam Part 7

Part 7: Revelation  We ate like kings in Vietnam. Mai’s mother and sisters cooked homemade meals outdoors over a wood fire beside a low, L-shaped wall that served as the kitchen and protected the food from wind and dust. After the daily early-morning trip to the farmer’s market to buy fresh produce and freshly-butchered meat, the food was prepared and put into large pots where it simmered for hours over the flames, carefully watched from midmorning until late afternoon.    Most of the

simplybill

simplybill

 

Vietnam Part 6 of 7

Vietnam Part 6: Emperor Gia Long and Napoleon Bonaparte On our second morning after arriving at the family home, we went to the local Police station to officially present our paperwork. Mai handed our documents to a uniformed officer. He looked them over, and began questioning Mai in a not-too-friendly tone of voice. Then, to my dismay, Mai began arguing with him.  Barbara and I exchanged glances. We’d both known Mai for quite some time, and we knew she wasn’t one to back down from a f

simplybill

simplybill

 

Vietnam Part 5 of 7

Part 5: A Parade I survived. I spoke quietly to the dogs, and they let me pass by unharmed. It wasn’t until later that I realized they may have stationed themselves by that particular door on purpose, to guard the family home against critters looking for a new den.  The following morning, we walked to the bottom of the hill where our driver was waiting for us. He drove us into town to what must have been a favorite breakfast place for the family: a tiny storefront cafe on a narrow, bus

simplybill

simplybill

 

Vietnam Part 4 of 7

Vietnam Part 4: A Night to Remember Before the Communist invasion of South Vietnam in 1975, Mai’s family was affluent by Vietnamese standards, even having a car and a driver to escort them around the small city of Hue. After serving in the Vietnamese Army for several years, Mr. Nguyen became an entrepreneur, eventually owning three successful grocery stores. Being a loving but strict father, he taught his military martial arts skills to his children from the time they were toddlers. All of

simplybill

simplybill

 

Vietnam Part 3 of 7.

Part 3:  Arrival    Hue, the one-time Imperial City located in the center of the ’ox-bow’ country of Vietnam, is full of history. Established as the capital of Vietnam by the Nguyen Dynasty in the early 17th century, Hue remained the seat of the Imperial Palace until 1945 when political divisions led to Hanoi becoming the capital of North Vietnam, followed a few years later by Saigon becoming the capital of South Vietnam.   We arrived in Hue after sunset, around 8:30 at night. Mai’s pa

simplybill

simplybill

 

Vietnam, Part 2 of 7

Part 2: The Road to Hue   Mai’s family lived in Hue, the former Imperial City of Vietnam 600 miles north of Ho Chi Minh City. Mai had made it clear that she wouldn't step foot on Vietnam Airlines, the country's flagship airline that consisted mostly of Russian-built Tupolev Tu-134s and French-built Airbuses. I don't know if the airline's safety reputation was as bad as the rumors said it was, but considering that the Russian airline, Aeroflot, once had the worst safety record in the world,

simplybill

simplybill

 

Vietnam Part 1 of 7

I wrote this for my Facebook friends about two years ago. It’s very long, so I’ve divided it into seven chapters that I’ll spread out over seven days. With so many people isolating during the C-19 event, I thought it might relieve some of the boredom. (Hopefully it doesn’t add to your boredom!) I’ve changed names and descriptions of some people to protect their identities. —————————————————————————————— Vietnam, 1993 - Part 1 A couple of Sundays ago I went with my sister’s fa

simplybill

simplybill

 

Reflecting, Chapter Two

Chapter Two When I was very young, I was fascinated by the strange, archaic cultures depicted in National Geographic magazine. Wow. Halfway around the world there were primitive people living in the jungle! and Amazon tribes living in longhouses alongside that great, majestic river! One photo in particular has stayed with me over the years: a proud tribal warrior with a painted face, his teeth carved like shark’s teeth, looking fierce and exotic. Halfway through my tooth procedure the

simplybill

simplybill

 

A Time for Reflecting

While social-distancing, with lots of time and few distractions, we have an opportunity for self-reflection, and for remembering those moments that changed how we see ourselves. I’ve been remembering the time I got my tooth fixed.  It was early 1989, I’d just gotten a training date from Continental Airlines, and I decided that it was time to do something about my front tooth that pointed forward instead of down. I wasn’t particularly embarrassed about my tooth, but I thought it might b

simplybill

simplybill

 

A different kind of war

A word of encouragement as we distance ourselves from one another: I recently watched  ‘Darkest Hour’ and ‘Dunkirk’, two movies that are inspirational to me. It struck me how this viral war that we’re in today is different than the World Wars: we’re unable to comfort our friends and neighbors, as did the people of London while huddled together in bomb shelters. We have no symbols of unity and strength like Rosie the Riveter, and no classrooms where children can stand together to recite the

simplybill

simplybill

 

Walking

There’s an old saying attributed to the Navy Seals:   “When you think you’ve reached your limit, you’re really only at 40%.” Well, today I proved it to be true. I set a new personal record for walking: 18 miles!  I drove to the nearby state park, intending to walk 11 miles to reach my weekly goal of 25-miles-per-week, but a Forrest Gump-like feeling came over me and I just kept walking.  My previous record was 15 miles on the Withlacoochee State Trail near Floral City, Florida o

simplybill

simplybill

 

Training companion

I woke up this morning with a dry cough: the Number One Symptom of the latest apocalyptic virus. I considered self-quarantining and staying in bed, but instead I went downstairs and drank a shot of apple cider vinegar and three cups of black coffee. Apple cider vinegar has been a faithful home remedy of mine for years. There should be a comic book superhero named Apple Cider Vinegar. I felt good enough to go to the lake for a hike. I’ve been training for a backpacking trip for some time now

simplybill

simplybill