ouray

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It's me doing a little posing while taking a break at the Ouray, Colorado Jeep Jamboree in 1995.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Growing Older: Even the Best Intentions Can't Overcome Advancing Years

It's hell getting older. My advice: Avoid it at all costs!

I joined some friends on Sunday on a little spruce-up project at my favorite Greenville restaurant, The Peddler. Why, you are probably asking yourself, would anyone spend his Sunday afternoon sprucing up someone else's restaurant?

Here's the long-version 4-1-1...

When I made my, some would say, impulsive decision to buy a house in Greenville, SC and move here, it was based on a number of factors. For those of you unfamiliar with this episode, basically I made this decision over a 3-day, exploratory visit. A buddy and I arrived in Greenville mid-morning on a Friday, flew back to Florida late Sunday afternoon, and in between I decided this is where I was going to live and found a house. See why some might characterize this as impulsive?

Well before this trip I had made up my mind to leave South Florida, but I was in search of a place to land. Greenville was on the list of a few potential spots that included Louisville, Dallas, New Mexico and Tennessee. Mississippi had also been in the running, but Hurricane Katrina refugees had inflated real estate prices in the Mississippi areas in which I was interested.

Back to those influencing factors. What piqued my interest in Greenville in the first place was that I have several friends who had purchased land in the area with plans to relocate. At the time I knew of four separate couples with such plans. Since then I've discovered two other sets of friends with similar intentions. The buddy I made the trip with and his wife have since purchased a lot here, too. I came to see what all the hubbub was about.

Next, I was smitten by Greenville's downtown the second I laid eyes on it. Difficult to describe, it's a cross between Mayberry and Coconut Grove. (You can check out one of the travel pieces I wrote on it at www.buynowupstate.com/upstate_market.php.)

When my buddy and I stepped onto Main Street for the first time and I saw the Blue Ridge Brewery, my reaction was, I'm home. Walking the six or seven blocks of Main Street from the brewery to Reedy River Park only solidified my initial opinion.

Finally, my buddy and I had dinner that Saturday night at The Peddler. This is a restaurant in the great-old-steak-house tradition. Great steaks, a salad bar that brings tears to the eyes, friendly service and a rustic atmosphere conspire to create the perfect dining experience. That first night we met George and Deborah Schneider, the owners.

After dinner, my buddy and I adjourned to the bar. Toward the shank of the evening, George and Deborah eventually made their way down and ordered dinner. My buddy and I introduced ourselves. Two hours later we were talking, laughing and cutting up as though we had all know one another for 20 years. I don't exaggerate when I say that I have never met anyone that I liked so much, felt so comfortable with and was as determined to establish a friendship with as George Schneider.

After buying my Greenville home, I made several trips from Florida to check on my property and always had dinner at The Peddler on those trips. After making the move, I went there once a week when not on the road traveling. We shared a love of wine and would often try to surprise one another with special wines we had found. We swapped texts and phone calls. In the nearly three years I knew him, we did indeed become friends.

George died suddenly last August. That loss impacts me yet today.

Calling ourselves The Peddler Wednesday-Night Irregulars, a group of us hang out in The Peddler's bar on Wednesdays. We've been doing this for about two years. Some Wednesdays maybe only three or four of us are there and other Wednesdays the group will swell to 10 or 12. We are the Irregulars, don't you see.

In early fall we pitched together and planted a Japanese Maple next to the sidewalk leading up to The Peddler's entrance. We did it in memory of George. We have lighted the tree and ordered a plaque. In May we will have a formal dedication ceremony. Several Irregulars from Florida, as well as the locals, will be here for it.

This past Sunday, we met at The Peddler to whip into shape the area around the tree. Basically this involved refurbishing the two park benches that were in serious disrepair. It entailed replacing several of the wooden slats and painting both the wrought iron and wood. Doesn't sound like much of a project; but in what can only be described as Laurel and Hardy meet The Three Stooges, it took four of us nearly five hours and a 12-pack of beer.

What we lacked in skill we made up for in bench-refurbishing ignorance. It was a blast. However, five hours of bending, kneeling, crouching and bending some more left me in pain. It's two days since the ordeal and I am still hurting. Momma?

Of course we could have simply forked out the cash and bought new benches, or hired someone to refurbish the old ones; however, this was personal for us. We wanted to do it.

I can live with a little pain; but I'm here to tell you, growing older is hell.

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