Back when I worked the counter at a Columbus-area gun store, my schedule was five on, two off. Usually I’d put in more than 40 hours, including an 11-hour Saturday shift that often ran well past closing. The store’s concrete floor took a real toll on my legs, and by the time my “weekend” rolled around I was ready for a couple of days off my feet.
One of my colleagues, a semi-retired fellow several years older than me, worked part-time to accommodate the stress on his aging frame. He’d already had a couple of joint replacements and confessed that his body simply couldn’t take the pounding two days in a row.
And that’s where I find myself these days. Age hasn’t disabled me by any means, but it’s forced me into adopting a slower pace that’s both physically tolerable and mentally frustrating. Every day I search for the things that can be done, the elusive sweet spot, as Robert Pirsig wrote, “between restlessness and exhaustion.”
Today we enjoyed what looks to be the last decent weather for quite a while. It would’ve been the perfect day to return to The Mountain (mud produced by melting snow notwithstanding). We stayed back, however, to give our bodies the break they need.
Traipsing through the snow there yesterday was an exercise in joy, a real high point. But all of those little slips and twists, inconsequential at the time, added up. As soon as I opened my eyes this morning my joints began to scold me for my foolishness.
I don’t always listen, but today I did.
There will come a day when The Mountain will occupy even more of our time, attention, energy and effort. Deb and I are up to that challenge and, when it presents itself, we’ll be in a position to manage our work without having to squeeze it into three- or four-hour windows hampered by daylight, weather and hour-long drives.
When that day arrives, we won’t have to search for the proper pace — our pace will come to us.
Somewhere among my WordPress drafts is a list of favorite restaurants we’ve visited since March. When I get around to publishing it here on Ubi Libertas Blog, it’ll be just what you’d expect — real American food, large portions, great hospitality, perfect setting, stuff like that.
Often we choose where to eat based on personal recommendations — from our campground hosts, fellow RVers and local merchants. Most of the time we simply rely on our instincts. We don’t carry a Michelin guide and we don’t give a rat’s ass what Zagat says. Seldom are we disappointed.
The Ranch House Restaurant in Harrison is a great example of the kind of winners we’ve picked. From the outside it definitely looks old-school, maybe even a little tired, but it exudes warmth. On the other side of the front door is genuine country charm, traditional American comfort food and Southern hospitality.
Our server this afternoon was a winsome young lady named Belle. Waiting tables at The Ranch House is the only job she’s ever had, and she absolutely loves what she does. Both Deb and I ordered sweet tea and omelets. (Breakfast is served from open ’til close.)
Now here’s something that those of you who grew up country will understand — I didn’t hesitate before using my last slice of wheat toast to mop my plate. That’s the kind of place it is.
We drove from The Ranch House to Walmart for a few provisions, then stopped to browse a home-furnishings store on the north end of town. This was another of those merchants we’d passed by on countless occasions, and today we paid a long-overdue visit.
While maybe not an ultra-high-end store, all of the merchandise appeared to be of good quality. We found a number of pieces appealing, especially accessories — some colorfully funky, others clever and quirky, a few carrying a country aesthetic. The lone woman working the floor was sharp, helpful and, of course, friendly in the manner we’ve come to expect ’round here.
In July the owner of a local battery-and-tire business came out to the campground and replaced Ernie’s house batteries. Not only was it a good business experience, we also struck up a great rapport with the guy — his work ethic, his enthusiasm and his unapologetic patriotism made a real impression on us.
Today we decided to drop in on him at his shop, just to say hello and reconnect with a like mind. He was surprised to see us, truly touched that we took the time. He invited us into his office, where we sat and talked a good long while, catching up on what’s transpired over the last six months — both personal and political.
We intend to keep that connection alive, and we’ll definitely do business with him again.
And that was our Tuesday — rewarding despite (or perhaps because of) its simplicity. Life is good.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.