January 1978

Happy New Year! Pretty trite but expected. Is this a good time for resolutions? Better than none at all. I think we should have goals in life to avoid muddling and drifting along, flotsom&jetsom in the sea of life. What’s mine? Being a better communicator, spoken and written. Being more understanding, especialy of Marge. We didn’t send out any Christmas Cards last year. Why? Not on any matter of principle, just plain laziness and we didn’t get around to it.

I forgot to mention earlier that I had a trip to Charlotte, NC. This was a business trip for PPL, the power company I worked for. I learned about a piece of construction machinery the utility there purchased and thought highly of. This was a cable plow for underground construction.

I found a telephone number and called. The response was very prompt and polite. Good old Southern hospitality. Duke Power invited us to visit which was great. I said I would pitch the invitation to my boss and get back to my host.

You ask. What is this wonder machine? This is a piece of heavy-duty construction equpment that rips up soil to depths of at least three feet. At the same time, it feeds in the electrical cable. This automates the conventional method of digging a trench and laying the cable in, then closing the trench. A big time and money saver.

The trip was a success. Ed, my manager, is going to get behind the process to buy a plow. The only thing that was a bit unpleasant was me getting mildly ill in our afternoon session. Probably something I ate didn’t agree with me. I recovered in a few hours. Then dinner and a flight home in the evening.

Comes fall and I get an all expense paid trip to Phoenix AZ.  The occasion is an industry conference and I am one of the speakers.  I enjoy stuff like this, not just a great place but I do like to talk publicly and I was a speaker.  I was in High School plays and had a course in public speaking at PP&L as part of a speakers bureau. Back to Phoenix…we stayed in a great hotel and the weather..BEAUTIFUL, I could get used to this.

Back  in PA the state had one hellacious storm.  The leaves were still on the trees and the snow which was damp clung to the leaves adding a lot of weight.  Trees came down everywhere taking power lines with them.  I called home and things were OK there and I was thankful for that.

I enjoyed doing things with my hands and completed an excellent woodworking class in Allentown. It is one thing being a department manager, I enjoyed that work. Woodworking and basic car repair work gave me a visceral sense of satisfaction. Between gifts from Marge and others, and my purchases I was pretty well equipped and In October started to build some new kitchen cabinets. I finished them in December. I matched them quite closely in style and color to the existing cabinets.  Looked good, not that I’m bragging. I took out the old counter top and installed a new one, covering the original cabinets, and my new ones. I spent almost all Saturday on this task as I had to make some cuts for stove elements. Careful..careful.  Measure twice and cut once as the saying  goes.

Another part of the home  improvement project was putting in a new kitchen floor covering.  Marge and I did this together.  The new floor is vinyl and much nicer looking than the old asphalt tile one.  That done, now the original cabinets looked a bit dingy and houseworn.  I stripped the old finish, then refinished at least the doors. Big improvement and Marge helped a lot both in deciding what we wanted to do, and assisting me when I needed another hand or two.

In November I visited Toronto for a short conference on Maintenance Management.  It was a good conference and the hotel was OK.  Prices in Canada seemed unreasonably high to me, compared with those at home.  While there I did fit in a short visit with my sister Karen and her family not far from Toronto.  I enjoyed the trip for both professional and personal reasons.

December brought an ice storm to us.  As if one in October wasn’t enough. We  were out of service for power for about a day due to falling trees on power lines.  Our house was all-electric so this was not a minor matter. Marge and I put our fireplace into service and we managed to cook hamburg and potatoes and make cocoa over the open fire.  We got the Coleman lantern out for light and coped well.  Sort of indoor camping and for the short time it was almost fun.

My Mom came to visit us for Christmas and though her visit was delayed by a day because of the storm, she had no troubles while with us.  She stayed until after the New Year so we had a nice long visit.  I had some vacation time coming to me so took it to the end of the year.  We did visit some of the local attractions.  Some I had seen and some never. These were the sort  of attractions we could see any time, so of course we never went.

While mom was here we went to an afternoon performance of a soft rock kind of musical..  It was I think the “Jacob and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.”  It was loosely patterned d after the Biblical story of Joseph.  Fun really.  Allentown has recently opened a full-time theater. I believe the building was a downtown church, and this was their first performance. Ingrid had been there before; but not me.  Later we plan to go to a dinner theater with another couple who are friends of ours.

Marge and I are now in the choir of the Moravian church in Coopersburg. Marge did a solo piece once, she has a strong alto voice, backed by formal vocal music training.  I can read music and sing in the bass register but I would never try a solo.  I don’t have that control and my voice is not strong enough. The choir is something we can do together which we both enjoy and the choir can always use new voices that can actually read the notes.

The flu is making the rounds again and Louise was out of school for a while, mostly with a strong cough but no significant  fever thank God for that. I didn’t feel well one day at work and came home early.  I tire easily and feel drained.  Perhaps I have had sort of subliminal case of flu, not serious.

We had yet another storm the weekend of the 15th of the month and we exercised our home survival skills yet again. We lost power twice on Saturday from about 2 am to 11 am and then again from 5 pm to 10:30. We lost power again just as Marge was cooking and so, yet again to the fireplace. We pressed into duty a fondue set for cooking vegetables  and later water for tea. Despite some inconvenience we managed fairly well.  The storms are almost Biblical, a repeating plague set upon us for who knows what  sinful reason.  Our drive had some snow on it and also ice about an inch thick.  Ingrid and I finished the hardest part of shovelling and later I completed the drive. I felt distressed by the exertion and had to lie down to rest for a while.

Finishing on a positive note we are planning on going to Georgia for the Easter vacation period this year.  No reservations though at this time. We must hurry as March will soon be upon us.

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About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
This entry was posted in 1970-1980, Allentown, Coopersburg PA, memoir, Pennsylvania and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to January 1978

  1. Allan T says:

    ROBERT, TO BE HONEST WITH YOU, I ONLY HALF READ YOUR POST; JANIICE HAS BEEN IN THE HOSPITAL 3 TIMES IN 3 MONTHS. THE FIRST IN AUG. FOR THE HITIAL (SP) HERNIA, FOR 5 DAYS; THE SECOND TIME IN SEPTEMEBER, ATER THEY FOUND A BELLY HERNIA ON HER POST OPERATION EXAIM. AND THE TRIRD TIME, WHEN THAT HERNIA THEY REPAIRED, POPED OUT, INTANGLED HER INTENSINES, CAUSED A BLOCKAGE, SHEJUST GOT OUT OF THE HOSPITAL ON SUNDAY NIGHT. BUT, I WILL SAY, HANDY WITH MY HANDS OR ANYTHING IS NOT BY THING. MY DAD, BLESS HIS SOUL, MSUT BE ROLLING AROUND OVER ME.
    ALLAN/JANICE

  2. Louise says:

    I remember the all-day power outage! I remember actually hoping that it would get to 24 hours because that seemed like such a momentous amount of time, but it stopped just short. It was actually kind of fun and novel for a while, but I’m sure if it went longer I would have changed my opinion.

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