The Seagull Escapade!

While packing an order today, I came across the receipt  for Mark’s Seagull Guitar he bought a few years ago.  I mentioned this guitar the other day on my blog.  As I looked at the receipt,  memories of the day we got the guitar came alive!

Mark has been using computers and the internet forever!  He worked for the Swedish-based company, ABB, for several years,  using his innovative computer savvy to connect with his Swedish counterparts without ever leaving US turf.  He loved setting up tele-conferences and dazzled his employers with the ability to communicate without actually flying to Sweden!

Mark used the internet just like a huge set of encyclopedias! If he wanted information, he dug online until he found what he was looking for like a bloodhound on a trail!  And so it was, in November of 2002,  we went on a “day trip” to Toronto, Canada, to look into buying a Seagull guitar!  He found high ratings amongst guitarists and was convinced the trip would be well worth the time and effort.

The day began like any other day, but the weather forecast was calling for an accumulation of snow. I was feeling a little more than uneasy,  as we had a rear-wheel drive Volvo at the time that was incapable of getting us home if there was any measurable snow on the road.  Mark looked out the window and threw caution to the wind. We were going, forecast, or not!

We began our journey heading towards Buffalo. For my European and Australian readers, Buffalo, New York is the brunt of every sick joke about snow in our region.  You might say that Buffalo is sometimes considered the “armpit” of New York, simply because it receives some pretty large amounts of snow from time to time.  Since I grew up south of Buffalo, getting many of the same storms, I love snow and don’t think of it as a detriment at all.   I even love winter!

As we got closer and closer to the city of Buffalo, the weather deteriorated quickly! The snow was falling horizontally, and it was beginning to build up on the sides of the highways.  My nerves were getting a bit stressed and I kept asking Mark if he was sure we should continue on!

We passed through Buffalo and on through customs, entering Canada.  After leaving New York, it seemed like the weather was getting somewhat better.  We drove on and on,  stopping along the way at a guitar store. I cannot remember where it was, but it was a good distance from our ultimate destination in Toronto. Mark spent what seemed like forever at the store, trying out many different guitars until he finally felt it was time to move on.

By the time we arrived in Toronto, (I think it was about 3 pm) Mark was in good spirits as he tried out even more guitars! I do understand passion….I lose track of time whenever I venture out with my camera….but Toronto is about five hours from our home!  Mark must have tried over a dozen guitars that day, and he finally settled on a beautiful guitar made by Seagull, a Canadian company.  Mark found a guitar with a blemish that sold for far below retail! As we looked, we were unable to find the blemish, until a salesman showed Mark a teeny spot under the bridge of the guitar!  Add to his find the fact that the US dollar was worth about 20 or 25% more than the Canadian dollar, and Mark  rolled out of the store feeling as though he had just robbed it!

We left the guitar store and began the long journey home at about seven o’clock.  We passed through customs, presenting our receipt, with no problems at all. 

As we got nearer to Buffalo, I felt myself gripping the door handle, expecting to move like a snail along snow-covered roads.  Much to our surprise, Buffalo was completely snow-free!  We found ourselves making such good time!  There was no snow whatsoever as we made our way home.  This was so great!

We arrived at the bottom of our hill….did I mention we live on a S-T-E-E-P hill?  After traveling over one hundred miles with beautifully groomed roads,  our road was covered in an inch or two of snow.  Mark gunned the gas pedal and tried to zip up the hill, but the Volvo just sat with tires spinning,  as though laughing at us! It was nearly midnight and we were all tired after our adventure.  Mark finally decided after a couple attempts, to park the truck off the side of the road at the bottom of the hill.

The kids and I grabbed the new guitar and walked up the hill, giggling and hoping we wouldn’t get lost, as it was so dark out! It takes some time to climb the hill, as it is rather steep, but we hurried as much as possible, not wanting to leave Mark too long.  We made it to the house, and the kids both headed off to bed.

I, on the other hand, fired up Mark’s ATV and ventured down the hill. Mark got out of the Volvo, transferring onto the ATV. I got on behind him and we rode into the dark night, up the hill, to the warmth and safety of our home!

Even now, as I tell about this adventure, I smile, as this is one of the adventures our kids are likely to never forget! We have had many fun times, but this particular adventure stands out on its own!

Here is a photo of the Seagull Guitar….

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And the logo,on the neck…..

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Mark went out today…the first time in over a week.  He drove his mom to a doctor’s appointment. When finished, he drove his mom home, then headed to the Guitar Center….

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where the little Martin Backpacker went back.  That’s okay…I really expected it might, and there are no hard feelings! He did order a couple of different guitars to check out online, so when they arrive, he will see if they are acceptable. If not, they will also go back! In the meantime, King Angus anxiously awaited Mark’s return….

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Yes, Angus makes like a parrot, perching himself on the back of the seats, surveying all activities not only in the truck, but also the parking lot!

Happily, Mark is on the mend, and we will hopefully, have a few more adventures soon!

A Most Rewarding Christmas Shopping Trip

After being totaly dazzled by my tiny miniature rose bush (which by the way is fifteen years old!!!) I could not resist photographing yet another beautiful little bud that will soon be in full bloom. This, after being nearly frozen alive under  a shroud of cold, wet snow! Of course, you can clearly see there are still two more blooms waiting to open as well! I would dare say the term “hardy” doesn’t do justice to this diehard little bush that endures not only brutally cold weather, but also drought-like conditions from time to time! Amazing….

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 This afternoon, Michelle and I went on a little Christmas shopping trip.

Dr. Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, heads up Operation Christmas Child.  This ministry distributes shoe boxes filled with little age appropriate gifts of all sorts, selected by the donors, to under-priveledged children around the world.  Every year, I have wanted to participate in this cause, but it seems I always missed out.

This morning, while listening to the Christian radio station I always have tuned in on my bedside radio, I heard an interview with a young Russian girl of nineteen who received a shoebox of gifts several Christmases ago. She told how she had been raised in an alcoholic home and had to raise her younger brother and sister, as her parents were incapable. By the time she was eight, she had started drinking herself, to alleviate the feelings of hopeessness.  She and her siblings eventually wound up in three different orphanages.

The girl was told each day by the workers at the orphanage that no one cared about her. She said she heard this over and over again.

One day, she and other children at the orphanage gathered around as shoeboxes with little gifts were handed out. She explained that in her young life, she had never received a birthday gift, nor Christmas presents. She went on about how the children just sat and held each item in theshoebox….

In 2004, Tonya, along with her brother and sister, were adopted by a family in the United States.  She said that when the family came to Russia and visited her in the orphanage every day for a month, she couldn’t understand why these people were kind to her, as she had been told so many, many times that no one cared about or for her.

She told how she now packs shoeboxes and encloses a little note telling the recipient that she cares about them and prays for them. When I heard this, it really touched my heart and I felt so compelled to follow through this year.  Michelle jumped at the chance to go shopping to fill shoeboxes!

Michelle and I spent two and a half hours searching out the perfect gifts for children. It made my heart so happy as Michelle thought about items to go into each box.  By the time we were done, we had five shoeboxes done! We will now deliver them to a drop off location and pray for our humble little boxes and their recipients!

When we came out of the store, the day had changed over from a bright and sunny day to a darkened sky with a hazy moon!

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We got home in time to watch a Buffalo Sabres game on television, and we won the game!  This was such a satisfying day, all the way around!