Sunday, September 16, 2018

Not Florence, But a Flashback

Since Mage asked and others may have missed this post from so long ago...this is the story of when my house flooded

Thursday, September 13, 2018

And She Turns


Florence was met with great fanfare in our neighborhood and we did not ignore that. We moved the benches from the dock where the tides have been very high for days.



We tied the plastic benches to the deck supports and cleared the deck of all the other patio furniture... which may or may not get moved back out in the coming weeks.





Hubby has been working hard in the humidity to get the widowmaker that finally came down across the path to the dock cut into firewood for this winter even though cozy wood fires seem such a long way away.

I froze several gallon jugs of water and put them in the freezer in the event we lose electricity.  I also inventoried the small freezer and we have been trying to eat as much of that as we can.  While families are hungry in this country we have an embarrassing abundance of food tucked away.

Now we see that the storm is moving south of us. We will just get some bands of heavy rains. Our soils are very wet and we may lose a tree or two, but it looks like we dodged the bullet on this one.

Stay safe, ya'll!


Monday, September 10, 2018

Superfluous or Tabor Who?


Yes, I have been absent. No, not on travel. I have been lying in bed and coughing my head off for weeks. I did not get a cold, or flu...no fever, joint aches, sinus problems. I had loss of appetite, but seemed to be eating well!  No one seems to know (or care?) what is making me cough and cough. Finally, it did morph into a virus thing in the lungs and I sounded as if I had been smoking my whole life. I could not get in to see my doctor, but saw a backup and got some meds to ease symptoms. Needless to write, I was not getting much sleep. Then a few days ago it all started to heal maybe due to the meds and helping me sleep regularly and soundly. Very slowly, I might add, the symptoms diminished.


Yes, I have an appointment with an ENT specialist, but I am not optimistic or even pessimistic that he will find a solution even if he does cram some camera object down my throat.  I am just glad to be up and walking around and on the mend.  Going shopping today for food and supplies in the event we lose electricity with this impending storm.

Anyway...just if you missed me.  If you did not, that is OK also.  I am not the center of my own attention, even.

I did a photo painting this morning for the first time in days...taken back in mid-August.








Sunday, August 26, 2018

Disjointed





My life has become disjointed.  It seems to be full of disparate themes these days that make me feel just a bit off kilter.

I saw Mama Mia Part II recently and various ABBA songs keep running through my head at odd times of the day. I like ABBA so there could be worse songs drilling a beat in my brain.  Is it a premonition that the phrases "take a chance on me" and "SOS" are the constants?

I cut myself (again) while chopping garden veggies the other day and now two tips of my fingers are sore when I use the keyboard to type. I try to keep the knives sharpened, but they are getting old.

I am reading "The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever Happiness." It is a well-written story, but the kind of story that haunts you with sadness as you finish each chapter.

I have mixed a weed-killer formula of vinegar, Epsom salts and dish soap to kill my weeds while protecting the river. I spray this along paths and where crabgrass has grown over the drains or into the bricks. It took me all day to find where I had left the large bag of salts. I looked in the garage, the laundry room and even under the bathroom sink until eventually finding the bag under the kitchen sink of all places!

I washed all the windows on the outside with one of those Windex spraying tools resulting in a sore shoulder and stiff neck.  It also helped me see more clearly how the inside of the windows is covered in a pale film of dirt. I guess I have to start on those next and do the "wash on-wash off" Karate dance.  The whole time I did this I kept thinking of rain against the windows of friends in Hawaii as the hurricane just missed them.




We lost our large fig tree and now the new ones we planted a few years ago are just starting to come into figs.  Hubby is eating most of them as snacks when he mows the lawn so there will not be much of a harvest this year. They are Celeste figs and seem to taste better than the other ones we had.

John McCain lost his battle this week and I am struggling with the sadness of losing his balanced and fair voice in the Congress. He was one of the few that admitted he made mistakes. The Republicans are now free to fully lose their way.

The DNC, on the other hand, have changed their rules in dealing with Superdelegates in order to appeal to Millennials.    Time will tell.


I have tried to be more regular with my exercise (elliptical and free weights) which results in my Fitbit telling me I am not meeting the 10,000 steps each day.  Nothing more annoying than wiping the sweat from your brow and your Fitbit asking if you are up for a stroll!  I wonder if I will be alive when this technology really tells us how we are doing.

And perhaps the most annoying is that it is 2:59 in the morning as I write this.  A full moon usually means insomnia for me.  I  do not have to be anywhere today, so may take a nap after lunch.  Here is hoping I get back on track sooner rather than later.  Maybe some meditation and breathing exercises?




Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Quiet Evenings Return


It is mid-August and the osprey have left their nest which sits so empty and quiet on the water. The mother osprey no longer scolds me when I cross the dock. I can see the family of three some evenings teaching their single offspring how to soar above the river and then dip their talons across the mirrored surface before surging up into the blue once again and perching on an overhanging snag. Soon they will be heading south for the winter.

The wren nest is also empty as they must have learned to fly while we were visiting in the city. Grandchildren are back home wrapping up the last few weeks of summer camp. Our company have all finished with their vacations and are now back home across the Pacific ocean. The house is now quiet of much activity and busy meal preparation. Children's games and toys are slowly being returned to their cupboards, sheets are washed. We have some leftovers to finish eating and that leaves me time to wander to the water's edge for sunsets once again at days end as the sun moves around into a center stage position. We can even catch a sunset down in the village when it crosses the bridge.





Sighing with gratitude.



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Just Pondering the Near Time Ahead


It has been a long three weeks of August. The first week I had company, caught a cold, and got the oldest grandson for a few days. The second week I got the youngest grandson who kept us busy with wanting to do something most of the day including kayaking and a 10 mile bike  ride. Although, I will admit we binge-watched "Merlin" on Netflix and he did make it through two seasons and loved it. The characters were uplifting and real. I always like how Britain uses all ages in its series. 


That week was followed by three days with granddaughter  at our house where we played with photography a bit (she says she loves photography but not sure she loves the patience and details required. )  I also supervised her  exercises to get ready for Cheer leading  Camp.  She did 250 jumping jacks and high knee runs interrupted by push-ups for another count of  250.  I got  tired just counting!  She has a really lovely well-muscled body.   We also binge watched the new season of  "Anne With an  E...Anne of  Green Gables."  That is so  well done that she was completely enthralled  and  truly upset when the character, Cole, left. Avon Lea..and we left home had to head up here.  (Her parents have Netflix, so she can watch the ending.)  Then we drove her back home to here in the suburbs outside  the city.  We are being chauffeurs  in taking her to cheer leading  sessions the rest of this week while  also sitting the  oldest grandson  who now has a  little  cold.  The busy life of a  family!

We will  celebrate a birthday of the grand-girl and our  48th wedding anniversary on Thursday evening, and then, hopefully, head home on Friday evening after doing some more chauffeuring during the  day.

It will  be a strange time in the coming week with no child obligations  and only gardening  and housecleaning to do.   It is always like a mini-childless time similar to when my children  headed  off to college and I had  only a job to distract and fill  my days followed by quiet evenings  and  an even  quieter dinner.  Like everything in this world it requires some adjustment.  It just seems in  retirement you have more  time to ponder over the  adjustments being made and less to  distract you.  It seems to bring a magnifying glass  to the  ever creeping end of times ahead.

I am not saying this with huge sadness, but more a realistic view as to how  to adjust so  these final years are more carefully planned.









Thursday, August 09, 2018

Kayak Lessons


We have the youngest of the grands for a week and I become somewhat bipolar in making sure they have something fun with which to build a memory and also making sure they are left alone to just vegetate as their summer weeks are usually filled with travel and camps and heavy scheduled time. Yesterday was Kayak lesson day which put Grandpa in his sweet spot. I guess the photographer also enjoyed this!



He is a bit of a water bug, so not afraid to get out on the river.



He practiced strokes while we held the kayak by rope. Then we got into the canoe and he stroked around us while we held on to the rope, then we let him go.


We paddled just around the point and found our selected beach was a bit gone at high tide.  It was still walkable and they got out to rest for a while.


I stayed in the canoe and took photos of the late summer fruited trees against the setting sunlight.



And I watched the kayak bob on the colored water.


The older male taught the younger male how to cast and as luck would have it we got a nice 8-inch perch to add to our crab dinner that night!

It is always a miracle when everything goes perfectly!


Friday, August 03, 2018

Some Days It Is Like Walking Through the Looking Glass



I have my HVAC annually maintained, but this year I skipped the winter check and when spring arrived the spring maintenance team found several issues.  The company explained they could replace some parts but with no guarantees as to how long this 12-year-old unit would continue to function.  I agreed and weeks later they sent us a repairman.

We are old people and my husband loves chatting.  So, as we showed this pearshaped 40-year-old to the basement we talked about house structure, property taxes, maintaining yards.  The man worked for about an hour on both the inside unit and the outside unit and then he told us that the concern for the loss of Freon was not an issue and we would at least not have to pay for that expensive replacement.

As he was preparing the bill at the kitchen table, the man brought the subject around to how divided our country was over politics.  We agreed but left it at that.  Then he began to talk about conspiracy theories.  We smiled and said that many people were easy to dupe if they wanted to believe something was true, but as a former librarian researcher (me) and a former science researcher (Hubby) we felt comfortable in finding the facts we needed to make decisions.

He continued talking and brought up the moon landing and how he wondered how it could possibly be true if that flag was flying in the photos where there is no atmosphere.  My mouth fell open briefly and then I said I had never considered that and I thought it was unrolled stiff plastic because scientists knew it would be limp---NASA knows more about the atmosphere than anyone I know. ( I had to later Google this flag issue to realize that there are people who think the whole moon landing was fake!)  Then he went on about flat-earthers' arguments and I began to get a creepy feeling that he was one of them.  

As he was collecting his tools he went on to tell us a story about his grade-school stepson who was being bullied in school and how he was teaching him martial arts at home.  When I asked why he did not bring the bullying to the Principal's attention, he said the bully was a black kid and they would not do anything because they were afraid of it being a racial call.  I had to take his word for it but was suspicious since he had been so strange in his deductive reasoning in all the prior conversations.

At least you do not have to be smart about conspiracy theories to fix the AC because he must have done what was needed since we have had cool air inside all this month!  (Yes, I do live in one of "those" counties, lord help me.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Long Weekend and We All Survived.

This was one of the best days the whole time!!
A man and his wife came to visit us from Hawaii these last few days. We have known the man for decades and his wife (second) for a little less than that. (His first wife died of cancer and we knew her quite well.) My husband hired the man as a graduate student years ago on a grant. They lived together on a boat in the harbor in Hawaii before their marriages, dived together, did lab research together and my husband probably even saved his life when he had an appendix attack in the middle of the night by carrying him to the car and carrying him into the emergency room. Together they were a good team. The man is a big practical joker and hubby went along on some of the actions including re-editing the Science Building calendar announcements to more risque messages for a few months until the University finally got a lock on the glass-encased board.   I write this just to give you an idea of how close the guys were.

This couple, after moving to Texas, now live in Hawaii and we visited them once a long time ago.  The man has recently retired and they are now doing some travel.  The man, let us call him Joel, is a tall thin cowboy type.  His wife is more the shorter wider version of a country girl (woman).  They came to spend four nights at our house as their first stop heading down the coast to Florida.

Since I had visited them many years ago in Hawaii and hubby had also reminded me of their quirks, I was somewhat prepared.  Quirks?  We all have quirks, right?  Well, on the first dinner I served chicken and rice.  The wife, Molly, said she really liked rice, but they don't eat it much anymore.  When I asked "why", she explained that you had to buy such large bags of rice in the big box discount store that they decided they never could get through them before the rice got too old.  (?)  Yeah, I know.  I did not say anything but watched her plow through her second serving with gusto.  She really liked my coffee and I wondered if they also did not buy coffee because it came in such large bags at the discount store.  (Kona coffee is marvelous.)

They brought in big boxes of cereal, a cooler of food, etc. since they were touring the entire southeastern U.S. via rental car, visiting friends and relatives.  I stowed it away for them.  While they ate most of what I cooked, they did eat cereal for both breakfast and dinner some days.  My husband who had stayed with them a few years ago said that Joel would eat nothing but cereal at every meal while hubby was there.

Joel and his wife liked to go to the local large hotel in Hawaii when they had live bands to dance.  He said they did not go for dinner because it was too expensive, but they did order dessert and then danced.  They stopped going dancing a while back for two reasons last year.  The dance floor got too crowded and they started an annoying $10.00 cover charge.  (Joel has over a million dollars in stocks for retirement.)

Hubby also cautioned me that they were very conservative in their political views and so we had to keep the TV off most of the time.  The only news channel they watch is Fox.  Hubby explained that we watch a number of news channels, but mostly Public Television and BBC since they are the most balanced in news.  Thus, we watched the weather channel and few detective shows.

To further complicate this visit my grandson was due to come stay two nights before they left.  This actually worked out really well, because grandson taught them card tricks and Joel had some good card tricks in his repertoire that he taught grandson.  

To further complicate the visit we had 5 inches of rain the first day, 2.5 the second day and rain off and on the entire rest of their visit!  We did take a few day trips, but they were carefully arranged around the many storms.

To further complicate the visit, Molly came down with a cold the first morning and Joel came down with it a day and half later.  They were brave to soldier on with a few trips, but we actually let them sleep most of the time.

Molly acted like a good-old-girl, but she was smart as a tack and I think she knew where we stood regarding our illustrious leader.  She kept complimenting me on food, the house, our letting them sleep in and I kept wondering if she thought liberals were usually not this "nice."

They left today, and we hugged and smiled and proved that people can get along when we admit we cannot change each other's mind.  I did wonder if they were thinking about how blind we were to the truth, because that was what I was thinking about them.

Oh, you can catch a cold from a conservative, because I am now soothing a scratchy throat with tea.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Some Electrical Stimulation

Air travel is less complicated these days in that we can actually check in online before we leave the house, but packing seems to be more complicated. The photo below includes less than half of the electronics we took on this last trip.



Hubby has been aging like fine wine and has the back problems to prove it. We had to take an electrotherapy unit to ease his lower back pain as well as a heating pad. Then there are the phones that need to be charged using the charging units we take. This photo fails to include the two e-readers and their chargers that we own as well as my various battery chargers for at least two cameras that I took on the trip. I did not take a laptop but I thought about it.  I now leave the Fitbit and its charger at home because it is too hard to take care of near pools and in tropical rainstorms.  Hubby has a headlamp that he sometimes brings, but it requires regular batteries.

These intricate items all have to be carefully put into net bags or Ziplocks when packing so that we can keep them together and so that we don't mix them up with the grandkids and kids various electronic devices.

I was just wondering if we could take a trip to a place that had few electric outlets and would we survive?


Or do we just need a cold beer?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Always a Travel Post About the People


My trip to St. Kitts happened to fall on a three-day musical festival at the Arena in the capital. We did not get tickets as being in an arena with tons of people is not my idea of a vacation. Patti LaBelle was the only name I recognized and the majority of singers, band, etc. were Reggie, rap, etc. Yes, they were mostly black folk. What this meant is that for one of the few times in my life I was in a high-end hotel and I was in the minority regarding my ethnic background. This had happened in Egypt years ago, but the Saudi Arabian men were haughty and rude and one actually shoved me aside much like Trump had done with the Prime Minister from Montenegro last year while I was trying to check in! 


These black tourists from all across the globe were much nicer, and really much better dressed.  I wished I had upped my evening wear, and exercised more by the end of the week when waiting for our driver at the front of the hotel.  I saw tons of really interesting and exotic hairstyles, dresses clinging to barbie doll bodies but did not think it appropriate to snap away, so you will have to take my word for it.

There were many other people there as well and below is a brief montage of those whose path I crossed, or who crossed my path.  (The vibe was much nicer than when I went to Jamaica a few years ago.  The economy and the tourist trade seem to be responsible for that.)

Our driver, Nigel, who was absolutely the key to our having great food and a wonderful time.  Getting married this August for the first time!
A nice collection of young ladies on the beaches!
I think these folks said they were from Cleveland (?)...maybe here for the music festival.
They might have been here for an anniversary or some such.  Maybe they were famous musicians!
A young couple who took the boat to Nevis with us.  I think from New York.
A small example of the lovely hairstyles.
A local who works in the tourist trade.

We took the local train on St. Kitts and this was the tour guide.  She had an excellent background in the history of the area.  I think she said she had a graduate degree.
A trio that sang for us...wonderful harmonies, slave songs, spirituals and some oldies but goodies.
While eating lunch I was trying to catch hubby and this fellow apologized for photobombing the event.  He was from Chicago on vacation and fun to talk to. 
It is always all about the people, is it not?



Monday, July 09, 2018

That Lonely Walk on the Beach


The photos from that quiet morning walk are below. Vacations with families (at least mine) are usually filled with lots of activities, tours and restaurant stops. All pre-planned by the two executives (both in their jobs and their lives) and we grandparents make a good attempt to tag along  keep up.

Thus the morning walk by myself was just the tonic I needed. As I mentioned the beaches were not being used by the people staying at the resort. The resort did provide free shuttles to two other beaches on another side of the island that were not covered in sargassum grasses and while not having any lifeguards these beaches did have restaurants and restrooms.



Back at the resort, you can see from above, perhaps, how soft this sand is. The footsteps have been easily softened by the ocean breezes. It is like walking on pillows! Good workout for ankles and knees, but requires one to walk more slowly for careful balance. When I had gotten around the point of the beach and into the more remote areas, this was one of the first beach signs I encountered. Not exactly drawing me in as it reminded me of a death memorial!



Just ahead were the horses...not the donkeys, tied to the edge of the coast with small plastic tanks of water nearby.  The photo below gives a good example of how rural the area was.




I walked some more and came upon an abandoned sea moss research laboratory. Sad in so many ways.  I think it was initiated in 2015 to encourage cottage industry for the locals.  There is a sea moss cocktail/drink, which I did not try, which is supposed to help with male fertility.  There were some buoys still offshore, so maybe something is still happening.



I came across a very few sandpipers (I think) scurrying along the second point that I rounded in my walk.  Conch shells washed ashore are in abundance.



There was no noise on this side of the island.  Just the sound of the wind as it moved along the coastline even muffling the sound of waves.  It was extremely peaceful.  




I did not collect this beautiful conch shell as I did not know the rules for collecting shells, did not have room in my luggage and have passed that time in my life as I have an extensive shell collection already.  I did eat some fried conch that week.



As the island curved out again, the beach appeared to have come to an end.  I paused and explored some of the flora and fauna and then regretfully had to return to the resort as I was out of my water.  The horses were even less curious about me on my return.






Slowly I re-entered civilization.





Maybe ready for a nap before lunch?  Hoping you got a bit of the atmosphere and mood of this tiny island in the Caribbean.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

A Sargassum Sea




Above is what one expects at a resort on the beach. The only unusual part is that no one is there. Actually, very few people are there.  



This is the beach at the resort where we stayed.  Part of the reason no one was there was because it was the "off-season."  This place gets really busy in the winter.  But there was another reason...


The islands of the Caribbean are having a major problem with seaweed abundance.  Large blooms offshore entangle swimmers, turtles, etc. and then drift up upon the beach covering the sand.  It was at least a foot thick all along the shoreline.


Every single day a scoop was out removing the seaweed and working its way up and down the beach.  There was no off smell as the news reported...just a little pungent saltiness in the air.  Maybe that was because they worked each day to remove it.  As a gardener, I was hoping they were taking this truckload somewhere to enhance the island soil!  


This plant is called Sargassum, a brown seaweed, that grows in the open ocean. There does not seem to be a certain answer for why this north Atlantic plant now is in abundance down south, although one marine scientist thinks it is more closely related to another species of Sargassum off the coast of Brazil.

“Nobody has a definite answer.  Nutrient inputs from the Amazon River, which discharges into the ocean around where blooms were first spotted, may have stimulated Sargassum growth. But other factors, including changes in ocean currents and increased iron deposition from airborne dust, are equally plausible. It’s all “educated speculation,” Hu, an oceanographer from the University of Southern Florida states.


This was the second day of our vacation the family went out on a boat to snorkel.  Since they were going on the windy side of the island and I get seasick, I opted to stay at the resort.  My walk of a mile or so down the Sargassum beach was really good exercise.  There was no one else once I left the resort area and I was not fearful of crime as I only had my small point and shoot camera and the island is "relatively" crime free.  (More on that later.)  The sand was very soft and gave me one heck of a workout as well as the solitude I craved.  Come back again and I will take you on the walk.