As of today, Since Friday, March 20th, I will have been furloughed for a total of 4 weekdays. When I add my already scheduled vacation days (we had to cancel our trip to Antigua last week), I will have a total of 13 days off. I also have the entire week off next week for a total of vacation and furlough days at 20. Needless to say, I’m starting to go a little stir crazy, especially since I have spent the entire time on virtual lockdown within my home. Luckily I have the country residence to enjoy, and that has been a real godsend. I do run out every three days or so for groceries and other basic needs, but it’s still not what I’m used to in my life. I have always been a busy person at work and at home, and this is certainly causing me to have some severe angst trying to figure out what to do with my spare time. Perhaps this is an indication of what retirement will be like for me. However, still even then, I will have the ability to get out and be a part of social gatherings. I feel bad because my partner is on the exact opposite end of the dilemma in that she is always at work at least 11 hours a day. She even spends her Saturday and Sunday mornings and early afternoons taking part in several virtual work meetings.
So with another 11 days of no work (including two weekends), I have decided to embrace the time and spend my days working on several projects around my home as well as my lodge. The dogs and I are spending more time together with walks overlooking Lake Michigan and of course taking baths (they are, not me). I also continue to enjoy practicing the piano and recently pulled out a bunch of ham radios I had stored in the basement. I already have two portable antennas up at the lodge, and last weekend enjoyed talking to several people throughout the United States and hearing many foreign operators as well. I suspect there are a lot of ham radio operators out there that are also finding a lot more time on their hands.
This weekend I’m hoping to get some time working on my Morse Code proficiency (one of my passions) and hopefully will be ready to participate in some contests in the weeks to come. Why not?
Willow and Zed taking in beautiful Lake Michigan
Willow looking beautiful as usual
One of their favorite things! Bath time!
Two portable antennas outside the Lodge ready for action
The street sign outside at our country home
My choice of mask when out and about. Thanks Luther College!
We are starting to feel the the serious ramifications of the continued “Safer at Home” order initiated by Wisconsin. It started on Wednesday, March 25 and has only been 11 days. Despite the hardships, we have been taking advantage of our country homestead with its added space, but we are starting to feel depression settling in. The lack of social interactions has been one of the biggest challenges for us, especially for Natalie. Luckily she is able to use Zoom for her “virtual cocktail parties” as a means of tempering the isolation, but despite the “virtual” connections available we are starting to feel the affects of loneliness.
April 1st came and went with no real desire to “fool” anyone. There were a few parents that thought it would be funny to tell their kids that school was back in session and watch them waiting outside for the bus only to reveal the gag. Most people didn’t think that was too funny.
On a more personal note, our work continues to prepare for a surge of patients and we continue to be concerned about our largest elderly care facility that is dealing with an outbreak. As of today, the National Guard is on site testing patients and staff. Our hospital has had one death so far and we have 11 patients that are “persons under investigation”.
Wisconsin currently has 2,128 total cases and 60 deaths with a death rate of 2.8 %. The U.S. currently has 320,619 confirmed cases and 9, 114 deaths attributed to the virus so it seems very dire and we are still ahead of our local surge both statewide and nationally.
My work continues to be furloughed the majority of the time as I worked two days last week, will work one day next week and one day the week after. This is due to the decrease in elective and non-emergent exams and procedures and also the desire to keep medical professional as isolated as possible from the virus as over 10% of the positive cases worldwide are medical professionals.
Since I now have more time on my hands, I decided to set up a portable amateur radio station here at the lodge and look forward to enjoying that hobby a little more going forward. The piano is also starting to become center stage during my time at home and I still want to learn the bagpipes and am practicing with the chanter as much as possible.
Zed and Dan during the short drive to the Lodge
As you can see, Willow is beside herself with excitement.
A typical day at work
Zed is probably the only one in our family really enjoying the “Safer at Home” order
Natalie attending daily work meetings while enjoying the outside view
An early spring drone shot of the lodge this weekend. Looking forward to warmer days!
Zed and Cole out for a run in the field
The crew getting ready for a country walk
A view towards the west.
Gov. Tony Evers prepared Monday to order Wisconsinites to stay in their homes starting this week to fend off the coronavirus outbreak that is ravaging populations worldwide. Today there are 104,871 confirmed cases in the United States and we are struggling to keep up with the sick as at least 10% of infected people requiring hospitalization, our hospitals are preparing for a surge of sick patients in the very near future. New York, California, Michigan and Illinois are already feeling the surge within their metropolitan hospitals.
The governor’s order forced the closure of all workplaces that aren’t providing what he deems essential services. I completely agree with this move and we chose to reopen our country home and make the most of our “indoor time”. We have ramped up our internet service at our Sheboygan home and reinstalled internet and Dish TV at The Lodge. So far it seems to be working well. It’s really been nearly a year since we’ve spent any quality time here so there are the usually items that need to be fixed and maintained. Overall this is going to be a good thing for us.
Today, Natalie spent a lot of her morning and early afternoon attending online meetings about COVID-19 while I cooked breakfast and the dogs napped. It’s a rainy day and we are hoping to catch a break and head out into the wilderness for a walk. In fact, as soon as I was typing that, we left for the outdoors! Wonderful!
Our evening spent together doing crossword puzzles and word searches was a welcome respite from the troubles of the world.
Willow and Zed believing this is the perfect ending to a perfect day.
Yesterday evening I had Dish TV, internet and a landline phone installed at our country home in Steinthal and we have started the process of cleaning and provisioning for a temporary life spent here. We will continue to enjoy our home in Sheboygan but have decided that due to the continued economic downturn, it makes the most sense to pull our country home off the market and start enjoying all that it has to offer. I have to admit that I am looking forward to the unexpected opportunity this unfortunate twist of fate has forced upon us.
The dogs are also enjoying the new, more open environment and are still getting used to their new sleeping arrangements. Specifically, Zed has always been used to sleeping in his kennel, which is not really possible while spending nights at the lodge. I’m sure it wont take long for country living becoming the norm for both of them.
El Camino takeout now includes Margaritas to go!
Zed finally relaxes during the evening
Willow dreaming of squirrels
She literally climbed onto the lowest branch in search of an invisible squirrel
Our very regal Dane
Sheboygan is seeing the effects of the “Stay at Home” order as we continue to worry about the number of people becoming ill with COVID-19. Our work dynamic has changed dramatically and there is no end in sight.
We headed to Denver for the Whiskies of the World event and upon arrival became more concerned about the size of the event and uncertainy of the coronavirus outbreak. At the last minute, the governor of Colorado banned gatherings of more than 250 people and we decided to skip it altogether and headed out to a favorite sushi restaraunt near buy. Yes, I wore my kilt! The next day we drove to Colorado Springs and spent the day and evening at The Broadmoor! The Broadmoor was an amazing place that we hope to explore in more detail during better times. The hallways are filled with pictures of all the famous people that have stayed there and it was extensive! According to a report in The Gazette in 2001, President George W. Bush decided to quit drinking after waking up with a hangover in The Broadmoor one morning in the summer of 1986. He wrote about the incident in his book A Charge to Keep. He said, “This run was different. I felt worse than usual. And about halfway through, I decided I would drink no more” and never drank again.It was a quick, but very enjoyable trip, despite all the last minute changes forced upon us with the virus outbreak.
We look forward to returning again during better times and hopefully will have an opportunity to spend an evening enjoying whiskey while wearing a kilt.
We were recently invited to a Whiskies of the World event being held in Denver, Colorado, later next month by some good friends who live in the area. This was surprising to me, especially given the fact that I really know nothing about whiskey and don’t even drink it.
As one of the most significant whiskey tasting events in the United States, Whiskies of the World gathers over 200 of the most fascinating distilled spirits from around the globe, along with their makers and ambassadors, to give its guests an unforgettable tasting experience. How could I pass up the opportunity to attend?
After learning more about this event, I came to realize that one of the attire recommendations for the event was a formal kilt for men. While I was intrigued by this possibility (I don’t own a kilt), I felt I would feel awkward wearing one. After some thought and research, I decided to take the plunge and found a reputable online store based out of Pennsylvania to help guide me through the purchase. Also, I fondly remembered my days as a child in a drum and bugle corps called The Decorah Kilties, in which we all wore kilts. So the concept of wearing a kilt wasn’t entirely new for me.
When ordering a kilt, I had no idea of the vast number of tartans available for purchase. It’s a Scottish tradition to wear the tartan of your clan or family, and my kilt purchase forced me to research my genealogy to see if there was a tartan specific for my original family name. It wasn’t until recently that my daughters introduced me to ancestry.com, whereby I was able to learn more about my family’s origins than I had ever imagined when I was their age. Their research actually led to a remarkable discovery about my dad that is entirely beyond the scope of this blog post, but certainly worth writing about another time. It just so happens that my family originates from a man named John McVey, who was born in Scotland in 1737. Below is a picture of his great great grandson, also named John McVey who was my great great grandfather.
I later determined that McVey was derived from the Gaelic surname Maccbethad which is the modern Scottish ‘Macbeth”. Below is an excerpt about the McVey Surname from surnamedb.com.
“This ancient surname is of early Gaelic origins. It is derived from ‘Maccbethad’ (the modern Scottish ‘Macbeth’), meaning ‘son of life,’ or ‘man of religion,’ which hardly fits in with Shakespeare’s interpretation! Today the name is quite numerous in North-East Ulster, and it is found in a wide variety of spellings which include McVeigh, MacVaugh, MacVagh, MacVaugh, McVey, MacBey, etc.. However its probable place of origin was in the Scottish Islands of Mull and Islay wherein the medieval times it is believed that the Clan were the hereditary physicians to the region. They were great historians and collectors of ancient manuscripts. The recordings include Father Patrick Macabeath (1541), Bishop of Armagh, Ireland, while John McVeigh was a prominent rebel in the 1798 rebellion of Ireland and was executed at Baltinglass. Church recordings include the following examples, Leiticia McVeagh who married Thomas Gordon on the April 1st, 1785, at Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, while Anna McVey, aged 25, is recorded as being a ‘Famine Emigrant’ who sailed on the ship ‘Manchester’ from Belfast to New York, on September 25th, 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Macvay, which was dated 1504, in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, during the reign of King James 1V of Scotland, 1488 – 1513. 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.”
Based on this information, I decided to look for a Macbeth tartan. The Macbeth tartan (pictured above) is a beautiful piece of fabric, and I would have gladly worn it. Still, with the limited time available to me until my event, it would have been impossible to get the wool shipped from Scotland and have a kilt made. I eventually chose another tartan called Albannach because I liked the colors and it was readily available in the USA. This tartan is a Universal tartan designed for the Scottish band “Albannach.”
Designed by James Johnston of Albannach and Rocky Roeger of USA Kilts, the meaning is listed below.
- The BRIGHT blue and white are for the Saltire flag.
- The muted blue is for the numerous Lochs in Scotland.
- The dark purple is for the heather and thistle.
- The olive green is for the rolling hills.
- The red is for the blood of those who fought for Scotland.
- The black is for those who died in the fight for Scotland’s Freedom.
- The threads in the “Satire” section add up to 13, and the red threads add up to 14… “The Flag and Blood” sections are 1314 for the year Robert the Bruce lead Bannockburn and reestablished Scotland’s independence.
Despite my initial reservations and enduring heckling from some of my friends, I have decided to adventure outside my comfort zone and do something new and fun. I’m counting the days until the kilt arrives next month and I can try it on for the first time. Besides, only three other people there will even know me, so the added anonymity of it all makes it that much easier! And someday I WILL be ordering a Macbeth tartan and wearing it out in public here in Sheboygan, much to the chagrin of my local friends and family.
Oh, and did I mention I want to get some bagpipes now? More on that later…….
Saor Alba! (“Free Scotland”).
We just returned from an epic trip to the Caribbean to learn the fine art of sailing! I have a personal dream of someday selling everything and spending several years of my life on a boat cruising the Caribbean and South Pacific. Unfortunately, there are many hurdles I will have to overcome for that dream to become a reality. One thing is certain, however. I must learn how to sail a boat. While I have gained alot of experience on boats over the years, especially with my 56 foot Hatteras, I can not take that behemoth into the ocean. First, my boat isn’t built for blue water travel. Second, it uses a ton of diesel at a high cost. And finally, it’s simply too big and complex to maintain. I am looking for simple, cheap, and seaworthy!
As such, I am currently listing my boat for sale and starting the process of learning a new skill. I’ve done a ton of research on how to achieve my desired result. After looking into the various certification schemes, I felt that the Royal Yachting Association, based out of South Hampton, United Kingdom, made the most sense for me. They offer a variety of certifications starting what they refer to as Competent Crew, Day Skipper, Coastal Skipper, and Yacht-Master. Since I only have limited sailing experience, I was able to use my hours on Lake Michigan to qualify for the Day Skipper Certificate. Natalie took the competent crew course, which was a breeze for her.
The course is comprised of two parts. The first is written theory and a written examination, and the second part is a practical examination on the water for a week practicing various maneuvers and scenarios with other people. Natalie tagged along and took her Competent Crew training. We found ourselves spending five days sleeping on a 35-foot sloop in various harbors on the southern and western coast of Antigua. Not a bad deal at all! While we met some challenges, primarily problems with the boat, we had a great time learning the art of sailing with our instructor and one other couple on board.
Despite missing our connecting flight in Atlanta and somehow pleasantly finding ourselves spending the night in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we had a fantastic time on this trip. And we passed! So now we can charter sailboats on vacation if we choose to. This experience has just fueled the fire for us to get our proverbial ducks in a row and start planning for future life on the water, able to experience our world in ways we never knew possible.
Somehow we ended up in Puerto Rico for an overnight which actually turned out to be a great time!
Dinner out in San Juan at Casita Miramar
Our bartender’s reaction when he learned we were going to try every signature drink on the menu! We almost made it!
Along the walk to Shirley’s Heights, Antigua for a kettle drum concert and barbecue
Rum Punch, Jerk Chicken and Steel Drums at Shirley’s Heights, Antigua
Overlooking English Harbor, Antigua.
Hanging out with new friends. Falmouth Harbor, Antigua.
Carib is the drink of choice with every meal.
Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
She should have done the Day Skipper certification. She did an excellent job.
Anchored out in Deep Bay on the northwest side of Antigua
Enjoying some sun. Deep Bay, Antigua
Our final night overlooking English Harbor.
Spent the day in Milwaukee enjoying the sights and ended up at Fiserv Forum for an evening Bucks game! Had an absolute blast! I can’t believe that after living here for well over 20 years, I never made it to Milwaukee for a game. Thankfully, Natalie had the forthought to use my birthday as an excuse to make a game along with an overnight next to The Forum. We partied it up and enjoyed some VIP treatment while there and watched the Bucks beat the Celtics with very little effort. It was a great experience and I hope I can get there again in the very near future!
The most amazing foosball table at Punch Bowl Social
Before the game
A great view of the court
She was more out of bounds than the players were
The Fiserv Forum Atrium
We recently returned home from a much-needed weeklong vacation in the Turks and Caicos islands. We spent the week at the Wymara on Providenciales and it was wonderful! The day is mostly spent laying on the beach, reading books and enjoying beverages and food. Truly a perfect time away from the craziness at home.
My aunt is a wonderful person and was recently featured in the Cedar Rapids’ Mercy Hospital Newsletter.
This week we find ourselves no longer owners of a Tesla and Nissan Quest as both were sold as we purchased a new Ford Expedition Max. While we feel guilty about the move away from green energy after selling the Tesla, we were really finding ourselves in need of the larger vehicle in order to transport kids and two Great Danes. The Expedition Max fit the bill perfectly for us.