Saturday, December 31, 2005

Out With The Old Year and In With The New

2005 was NOT a good year for me by any standard. However, it is almost over and I'm looking forward to 2006. For one thing, I will finally become a ward of the government (Medicare). I've been without health insurance for some time now and no insurance company in their right mind will insure me. So Taxpayers, be aware that I will soon become an expense item.

It is only two and a half hours before the official countdown begins. I figure to be in bed by then. Then tomorrow I will cook some pork ribs while Judy cooks the cabbage and blackeyed peas, the wishful ingredients of a prosperous year.

My final post this year ends with a hardy Happy New Year to you all.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Eye Problem Continued

Well, I finally got the word that my bad eye isn’t going to get better. The damage is irreversible. Glaucoma, probably brought about by the trauma of infection and multiple surgeries. All they can do now is try to keep it from getting worse. Eye drops may do it but if not there are a couple of other tricks they can use. Oddly, my vision seemed to be better today than it was yesterday. Probably a fluke but I’m enjoying it while I can.

If you value your vision you should have your eyes checked regularly, making sure they also test for glaucoma. I recently read this about it:

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can steal sight without warning or symptoms. Three million Americans have it. Only half know.

I’ll learn to live with one eye but for now I’m still in the treatment stage trying to save what’s left of the vision in my bad eye. I sure didn’t want to start my retirement off this way.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Clan MacMillan of Scotland

I never spent much time wondering where my ancestors came from. I just took it for granted that we came from Ireland because someone told me when I was young that my grandfather's side came from Ireland and my grandmother's side came from Holland.

I just finished reading the sixth book in the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon in which she takes readers back to the mid-1700's in Scotland, and then brings the story right up to the eve of the American Revolution. Although it is a fictional love story mixed with a little time-travel, the meshing of day to day details about people, places and things, especially politics and medicine, fascinated me. More important, I found myself feeling somehow attached to every aspect of the story. In many ways I was wishing that I was there to see this history in the making with my own eyes.

It sparked an interest in learning more about my family history and it wasn't long before a Google search turned up tons of McMillin history, the most important being that my forbearers were from Scotland. Then I ran upon the official website of the Clan MacMillan. That really perked my interest and the more I read, the more I understood why I was so connected to Scotland and to the life and times of Jamie and Claire Frazier, the central characters in the books. They were caricature representatives of my family's Scottish history.

In addition to important events and people, the website explained a lot of things that I would never have known had I not done the research.

For example, the surname, McMillin, is but one of many variations of the spelling of Clan M'millan. In fact, according to the official records, "There are probably more variations on Macmillan than most because of the two Gaelic versions of the name - MacGhillemhaoil and MacHhaolain - each of which has been spelt in many different ways over the centuries, and in the various regions of the country in which members of the clan have lived."

Given the above, McMillin by any other name is a McMillin, and I can claim with full certainty to be of the MacMillan Clan. It won't make me rich but it sure makes me proud.

"Miseris sucurrere disco"

"I learn to succour the unfortunate"

If you would like to see and read more about Clan MacMillan you can go to: and click on any of the links.

Leroy McMillin - Clan MacMillan

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

2005 High School Reunion

What a Great time!

Well, the 2005 Harrisonburg High School Reunion is over and everyone has gone back to their homes with enough good memories to hold them until 2010. I know I enjoyed every moment of it.

Our friends, Pam and Tom Morris, came along for the ride and were quickly accepted by everyone we encountered. It didn't take them long to get with the program and you would think they also graduated from HHS by the way they fit in with the crowd. I think they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Judy and I also took them for a tour of the town and Fort Bouregard overlooking the town. Now they can visualize what I've been talking about for the last seven years.

The fun started with an open invitation party at Emmilee and Joe Green's beautiful house overlooking the Ouachita River just north of the Village of Harrisonburg. A beautiful setting for a wonderful party that went well into the night. There must have been 75 or 80 who came, and most brought food: absolutely delicious food. There was also a talented band, some adult beverages and a roaring pit fire to keep us energized and warm. Emmilee and Joe were the perfect hosts. In fact we were their guests for the entire weekend.

The next morning we had a great breakfast and proceeded to the High School where there was a Meet & Greet prior to the actual ceremony. For two hours I talked to people I haven't seen in over forty years. It was great.

As we moved into the gym we were directed to sit with our former classmates. There were classes dating back to the 1930's and some of them were well represented. Our class of 1959 only had twenty graduates but even though a few had died and at least one could not travel due to a broken leg, we still managed to draw a cheerful and vocal group of seven.

James Stone, Wayne Booth, Don Cannaday, Evelyn Meyers Stringer, Leroy "Jr" McMillin, Patricia Booth Kirkland, Emmilee Johnson Green

Class of '59

When the ceremonies were over many of us proceeded up to a classmate's restaurant in Enterprise, Louisiana and feasted on some really good food while listening to a great band. Jim Bowie's Relay Station. The place was packed with former HHS graduates. Then we toured some of the small buildings around the restaurant. They were built to reflect many different themes ranging from an old power boat, a small church, a grist mill, a Veterans memorial, a covered bridge, a school, a service station and other important reminders of the past. The owners, John Ed and Shirley Bartmess are to be commended for their wonderful contribution to the area.

We returned home exhausted but very happy we were there for a memorable event.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

One Good Eye

Yesterday I learned that my right eye, the one that got infected after cataract surgery over a year ago, has reached its maximum level of improvement. What that actually means is I now only have one good eye. Fortunately, I can see to drive with it and recently passed my drivers license renewal exam. Unfortunately, my bad eye is dominate and is still trying to see. It creates a distortion of sorts while trying to see certain things. Thus, I subconsciously close the bad eye on occasion. Judy does not like to see it closed and reminds me to open it up. Easier said than done. In fact, I find it more comfortable to wear a patch over the eye. The doctor said my brain will gradually switch to the left eye as the dominate one and I will adapt to it. She said many people do not even realize they only make use of one eye, the dominate one, until it is demonstrated to them. I suppose things could be worse. She also said that my bad eye (legally blind at 20/400) is still considered "ambulatory" because, should I lose my good eye; I can see just enough to get around. I take that to mean I can see the door or chair or person although I cannot see well enough to describe the door or chair or person. I certainly can't read or watch TV or do anything that requires me to see clearly with the bad eye so I guess I should take every step to protect my good one.

Now I have to decide what to do with my woodworking tools. I might be able to build rustic birdhouses but I doubt that I can do the intricate cuts required to make my scale model trucks. If so, it just may be time to change my hobby to something I can do without the danger of losing a finger or hand or eye.

I plan to go see the Ophthalmologist who performed the original cataract surgery that started all this and see what, if anything, he can/will do about it, either medically or financially. I'm thinking the very least he can do is give me back the $2,000 I had to pay out of pocket for the Crystalens that he recommended, installed and now doesn't work. I will say he has been very good about trying everything he can to fix it.

We'll see (pun intended)


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hurricane Rita (The surprises)

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. I thought I suffered no damage from Hurricane Rita. Turns out that's not necessarily the case. The constant pulsing of electrical power apparently harmed a couple of appliances, and my pump/filter system for my Koi pond. They don't seem to want to work anymore. The most expensive is the ecosystem for my pond. The pump would not run today and the biological filter tank which is under pressure started to leak really bad. I concluded that variations in pump pressure brought on by fluxuations in power did both of them in. I worked on the pump and got it running but the filter looks hopeless. So I bought another one, this time gravity fed as opposed to pressure fed. The idea is that future power malfunctions will not harm the filter, a critical factor in the filtering of the pond because it is very sensitive to enzyme action. I just replaced the pump a few weeks ago because it had pretty much run its course after five years. $90.00. Pumps don't come cheap. And this new filter will require some major changes in the hoses, another expense I haven't calculated yet. I will also need more stones to cover the filter that will now be above the level of the pond, not below ground like the previous one.

The fish hate going through all of this because it greatly upsets the pond's PH and clarity factors. I hope we don't lose any fish.

Water gardens can get complicated, especially after a hurricane.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hurricane Rita (After)

Hurricane Rita, billed as the 3rd most powerful hurricane in the Gulf, took six days to get here, growing to a Category 5, but when it came time to pick a target, it slowed down, went east and spared the Houston area.

Instead of damage, most folks around here are going to talk about the evacuation of over three million people who were convinced that they would be harmed if they stayed. So they took to the evacuation routes and sat there, and sat there and sat there. Thousands of travelers never made it to their destinations and hundreds of cars simply ran out of fuel after only thirty or forty miles because they could not move.

We have leaves all over our lawn and a few small limbs here and there but that's about it. We actually got so little rain that I will have to water my lawn today.

Even with the boarding up of windows, moving things inside or tying them down, and now having to undo all that effort, we are glad we did. It could have been the big one...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hurricane Rita

Well, it's starting. The non-stop news reports, the inevitible doomsday predictions, confusing evacuation orders, people buying anything and everything they can get their hands on, long lines at the gas stations, traffic backed up for miles, etc.

And worse than all that, everyone had to make that dreaded decision: go or stay. After considerable thought and discussion, we decided to stay. We're 90 miles from the Gulf and maybe 120 miles from where Rita is supposed to landfall. We know a Cat 5 hurricane, especially one of Rita's magnatude, will probably do a great deal of damage to our home either in the form of wind, rain or tornados. The thought of that sickens us but we have decided to be here when it happens.

When I saw this animated picture on the computer screen today my first thought was that Rita was a circular saw blade cutting its way across the Gulf. I suppose all my future pictures will be of the "sawdust" it left in its wake. I'm just hoping the sawdust is not mine.

It may be some time before we have power restored but as soon as I can I will post "after" photos of my little kingdom. Until then, goodnight.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Back in business

I own a staffing agency that specializes in placing building engineers with large commercial property management companies. My company is called M&A Staffing and I operate it from my home.

A few months ago I had to suspend my business because I could not drive, read, watch TV, operate a computer or do anything that required me to hold my head upright. Things were kind of slow anyway so I just settled into a "retired" mode and listened to books on tape.

Yesterday I received a call from one of my long-time customers saying he was sending an applicant to me to process and assign back to him on a temp-to-perm basis. In less than two hours the young man was processed, drug tested, his employment and criminal history checked and on his way to work.

Shortly afterward I received a call from the company's HR department asking for my help in filling a number of other positions.

I suppose this means that I am no longer in the "retired" mode.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


We finally took a vacation. For 32 years we just used our vacation time to visit relatives or do projects or just do nothing. It was fine with us but we never got to see new places or do new things. Well this time we flew to Phoenix, spent time in Scottsdale, Sedona, Flagstaff and Williams, Arizona, visited some cliff dweller ruins, rode the Grand Canyon Railway to the Grand Canyon, spent the night in the famous El Tovar Hotel, took a bus tour of the South Rim, crossed the Hoover Dam, held at gunpoint by train robbers and bet that our luck was better than the house in Las Vegas. And now we're home. It was fun but it was more than enough adventure for both of us.

Judy's sister, Joyce and hubby, Allen joined us and it made a big difference in how much fun we had because they like adventure. Unfortunately, their house in Metairie (New Orleans) was always in the back of their mind. They learned that it had water in it from Hurricane Katrina. There was nothing they could do immediately so we all decided to go ahead with the long planned vacation.

I missed cooking on my Big Green Egg and I'm very sore from all the walking we did.

I managed to take over 300 photos which I eventually edited down to 258. Here's a few of the more memorable ones...

It was a good trip.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Me and my Sweetie in front of our home. Posted by Picasa

Me at my Big Green Egg BBQ Center

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Woodworking Projects

Here are a few of my woodworking projects.

I've made everything from outdoor furniture, indoor furniture, decks, ships, boats, toys, gift-wrapping centers, cabinets, desks and model trucks. I have the most fun making the trucks. I gave away thirty-five or forty to customers when I was doing some safety training and consulting work in the trucking industry. Very few modelers make wooden trucks with the detail I put into mine. Most end up being about 3' long depending on the type trailer and tractor. I have been offered as much as $1,000 each as safe driving awards but I had to temporarily suspend my woodworking due to an eye problem.

Harrisonburg High School Reunion

Harrisonburg From Space

Class of '59

Classes of the 20th Century

Borrowed Luxury

We will be going to Harrisonburg for the 2005 high school reunion on October 22nd. We have reserved a motorhome so we can travel in style and have a place to stay while we are there. Our neighbors, Pam and Tom, are going with us. The photos above are from the 2000 Class Reunion, a View From Space of Harrisonburg and the motorhome we will be arriving in.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Emmilee & Joe Come 'a Visiting

We had a nice visit from Emmilee and Joe Green last week. Emmilee and I grew up in Harrisonburg, Louisiana and have been friends forever. We had a few snacks here (including some of my famous ABT's) before heading down to Old Town Spring for a walk-a-bout and dinner at Wunche's Cafe. Here are some photos.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Enjoying the back porch

Our neighbors, Tom, Pam and Sassy

Beans 'n Ribs

Ribs on the Big Green Egg

Pond, Deck & Porch

Bashful Betty in Pond

Deck and Cooking Center

Table and Gas Grill

Resting Chest for Briskets & Pork Butts (also an ice chest)

Spring Chicken Logo

I've just been enjoying my back porch and deck and pond today.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Successful Cooks on The Big Green Egg

These are some of my many successful cooks on the Big Green Egg.