Friday, February 16, 2018

The Excitement Builds!

We are two days away from departure and both Tippy and I are beyond excited. I went over to her house yesterday to exchange a few items and talk details. She opened the door and we both squealed and did the happy dance! As close as it is to becoming reality, it is still hard to believe. As I said before, I feel very fortunate that Tippy would tackle it, only finding out about Jan's withdrawal several weeks ago. I also feel bad for the way things worked out for Jan.  We had planned this trip over a year ago and had just gotten to the point that we were discussing details and feeling anticipation. I know it's a disappointment. She has been to South Africa, so I know she's seen the animals and experienced the culture, so it isn't like missing the whole thing. We'll have to compare notes when I get back.

We leave Monday morning, from SAV to ATL. From Atlanta we have an 8+ hour flight to Amsterdam, a 3+ hour layover, and another 8+ hour flight to Nairobi. If we survive that, we will be ready for whatever follows! We will be staying in hotels, lodges and camps, so I expect wifi to be sketchy. I would love to post a few pictures each day, as I did from Panama, but it will depend on wifi (and time and energy!!).
Do you think Tippy is excited!?!

You need to know the continuing saga of the Yellow Fever vaccine.....Tippy went to Jacksonville as planned. Once there, I received an urgent message saying that they had to see her itinerary, which she didn't have with her. So I scrambled around and emailed her what I had, hoping for the best.  Some time later, I sent her a text saying, "I had to have an update. What's happening?". Well, in the process of getting her background information, they discovered that she has been taking a very low dosage (less than 5 mg) of prednisone for a period of time; therefore, for some reason, she can't get the Yellow Fever vaccine.  The clinic didn't hesitate to give her a waiver, which should be accepted; but, had we known this, she could have gotten everything in Savannah!! There was just no consistency in how things were done. I had to have a note from my doctor. Tippy didn't.  Both clinics did ask about our itinerary, but no one asked me about medications, etc.  Those of you with National Healthcare were surprised at the difficulty I was having; so, while it may not be prefect, know that it is a step above us!

And yes, I have a safari hat!!  Once I saw Tippy's trendy hat, I returned my frumpy one and got one like hers. Hats aren't my thing, so I don't look as good as Tippy.....but I can always dream...... I have to tell you that I told Tippy how fortunate I felt that she would tackle all of this with only weeks to get things done (two visas, vaccinations, etc) . She said, "I have to tell you that I'm not a good planner, but I'm great at spontaneous'. Hands down, she has proven that!

Well, today I did my last official act of Resistance for a while.  I sent faxes about our government's inability/unwillingness to do anything for DACA kids and gun control. My three reps (Graham, Scott and Sanford) got it first, then I shared the joy with anyone I thought deserved it, in this case McConnell, Ryan and Grassley. This time I literally told them to "get off your asses" and do something positive to help vulnerable people. It may be a good thing that I'm leaving the country!  But, just as I'm going to "the bush", Mueller has made a move and things are beginning to pop. What will a news junky like me do in the wilderness?? My hope is that I can hear the major things, but otherwise unplug. In any case, I hope everyone else will continue that fight in our absence.

The mere fact that I've "felt"  like I have the time to do this scares me.....what should I be doing, what am I forgetting??? Tonight is a restful night. My clothes are already laid out and tomorrow I press anything that needs it. Sunday I put everything in the bag....and away on Monday. The remainder of my time will be with Rosie and Mama Mia. It is so hard to leave them, though I know I have the best person I could possibly have to stay with them. Though her walking schedule will be different, I've alerted all the dog owners and friends, that if they see Rosie out with her caregiver, to stop and give her some loving!  I've also informed the pet-sitter that Mama Mia has suddenly taken to getting on the bed in the morning and in the evening, which Rosie doesn't like. So, Rosie is on my left and Mama walks across the bottom of the bed (while Rosie growls and cavorts) to come up on the right side. That works okay with me, but am not sure how it will go with a stranger!! This is the longest time I've been away from them and I will truly miss them.

Thanks so much for listening to my rambling and random thoughts. It will be a while before you hear from me again (unless on Facebook), but I will update again as soon as I can.  Rest up and prepare to be bored by photographs!!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Life is Chaotic

It seems like forever since I posted last and I don't even know where to begin. Since my last post was Dec. 29, I guess I'll start with New Years, which seems so long ago! This year I actually ushered 2018 in with a toast on the hour. Melodee came over and stayed overnight so we could watch the festivities and toast the NY. We had a light dinner and a good evening, with lots of animated conversation. It was fun. Rosie was in hog's heaven to have someone to please and tease.

Then, early in January, we had the Blizzard of 2018! It wasn't a real blizzard, but it felt like it to us!  It was VERY cold for about a week and we did get 3-5 inches of snow.  It was beautiful coming down - light, fluffy, large flakes, scattered by the wind - but, our houses are not built for those temperatures, nor is the Dept of Transportation equipped to clear roads. So, I just hunkered down. I could have run the heat 24/7 but it was only going to heat to a certain temperature. At night, the thermostat was set to 65 (burr!) and Rosie and I got under the duvet and fared well. In the morning I would turn the thermostat up a few degrees, grab a cup of coffee and my tablet, and crawl back into bed until I could get the temp up a bit.  Rosie just stayed in bed until it was warm enough for her to come out.  Toward the end of the week, I was looking in the cupboard to determine what I could cook without having to go to the grocery store!  I didn't make a move until the snow was all gone and people were going back to work. I felt lucky that I didn't have to get out in it.

Then, on the 17th I went way outside my comfort zone and invited friends over for a get together. When my mother was with me, at Christmastime we always spent a day decorating the tree and house, and then we baked for friends and neighbors. None of those things are quite the same doing them on my own, and I realized those "traditions" are gone. Somewhere came the notion to have friends over and create a new tradition. I resisted the idea long enough that I wasn't able to do it between Christmas and NY, which was my first thought. Then, the restaurant I wanted to cater it was closed from NYs to the 16th of January. So, I set it for the 17th (which coincidentally is Allan's birthday, and three days before mine). The invitation list included my Drinking Liberally friends, with whom I socialize outside of DL, and some other liberal friends who are not a part of DL. From my perspective it was a good group and I hope everyone enjoyed it. The menu was vegetarian and I was pleased with the food. While it may have been new to some, everyone was interested in trying it as it looked good.  The invitation was "In Celebration of Friends" and I think I will make this a new tradition in honor of friends. 

I celebrated my birthday of January attending the Women's March in Charleston, SC. Though I had a fabulous time and was pleased to do my part in the Resistance, I hope I won't have to spend next birthday protesting. Tippy (my Resister Sister), Franci (whom we met last year when we all went by bus to DC protest), and Melodee were going with me, but Melodee dropped out. I advertised an open seat on Lowcountry Individible and got a response in a matter of minutes. So, Kathy joined us and we all had a great time. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Charleston. There was a greater turnout than last year, and the speakers were very diverse and inspirational. They didn't discover it was my birthday until we were on our way home, so they gave me snacks and sang "Happy Birthday" to me as we were in the parking lot going our separate ways. It was a great celebration!  Then Tippy and I went to my neighbor's to pick up Rosie. They couldn't go to the rally, so they offered to keep Rosie....and I think they have a sweet spot for her. They invited us in for a glass of wine and to hear about our escapades, and it was fun to see Rosie and Bogey, their dog, enjoying each other's company. The signs are always the fun part of a protest or rally and I can't resist photographing them; so, enjoy a sampling.

In addition to our protest in SC, Gray Panthers were spotted protesting in the Ocala, FL area! I thought the Panther had retired, but I'm pleased to see her active again.

Aside from all that, life goes on with the usual things that occupy my time - lunches with friends, Liberal Ladies, Drinking Liberally, hospice visits, feral cats,etc.......and I'm trying to make time for zentangle so I won't let it fall by the wayside. It was after the Women's rally that I started focusing on our upcoming trip to Africa on Feb. 19.  After getting back from Panama, I sent my passport to obtain visas, then I started trying to get the required vaccinations. Yellow Fever vaccine is required to get into Kenya. So, I called my doctor, who doesn't give them. Then I called the health department, who no longer gives them, but they provided me with two phone numbers. The first one no longer gives YF and the second number was no longer in service!  By this time I'm worried.  Someone told me of a service called Passport Health (or something like that), whom I called. They have a central answering service and, while they have an office in Bluffton, the only offices that give the YF vaccine are Greenville and Mt. Pleasant, with the closest being two hours away!!  All of that happened on a Friday, so I spent the weekend looking around the Savannah area and found that the Chatham Country Health Department gives travel injections.  So, I called on Monday and was told that they did do the YF. All I needed to do was get a letter from my doctor saying I was healthy enough to take it (due to my age!), print out the release form online and bring it with me, and just show up before 3PM, which I did. It was a wonderful facility, well organized, and the nurse was wonderful. We solved the problems of the world, had a few laughs, and hugged each other when it was all over. Needless to say, it was good to get it all behind me. I also got Hep A and Typhoid shots as they were recommended.

Naturally, Jan and I are in touch and getting excited about the trip. Then around Jan. 25 or 26 Jan calls from Scottsdale, where she's visiting friends. She had injured her leg getting into the car and had been on crutches!! She's going home over the weekend and had a doctor's appointment on Tuesday, but wanted to give me a heads up. Needless to say, we're both disappointed, but I can certainly continue with the trip while Jan might be the one missing it all. The following day Tippy invited Rosie and me to come over for a walk on the beach, where Rosie can be let off leash and run like a mad dog!  In preface to telling her about Jan's injury, I said, "Could I interest you in a trip to Africa?". She gasped a little and said, "Tell me about it", which I did. With no further ado, she said she would go if Jan was unable to go. Then on Tuesday, Jan called OAT and cancelled her trip and Tippy called to take her spot. That was Jan. 30, so now Tippy has to get visas and vaccines in record time. She immediately sent her passport for expedited visas (keeping fingers crossed), and I was so pleased that I had already done the vaccine legwork and could save her lots of time. This past Thursday we went to Chatham County Health Dept only to be told that she could only get the YF vaccine with an appointment. The head nurse came out and said they only received 20 doses for February and they were all promised. So, we went to lunch and called everyone on a list of possibilites they gave us, all for naught. Then we started looking online. Finally, she is schedule to get the shots on this coming Tuesday in JACKSONVILLE!  Can you believe it? We have stopped making the vaccine in the US (who knows why!) and we now get it from France......and even then it isn't the real YF vaccine. It's something like Stamarille, made by the same company that made FY vac.  Unbelievable! Anyway, I feel sorry for Jan that she isn't getting to go, but I also feel very fortunate that Tippy is going. It's always more fun with a friend. You can guess how we will be spending the next 15 days!!

Other than that, I have seen several good movies since the Golden Globe Awards. The Post was very good, but I especially liked 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Tomorrow I'm seeing The Darkest Hour, which is also supposed to be great. 

Finally, a big thank you to all I heard from on my birthday, either by card, email, Facebook or calls. I feel very fortunate to have such wonderful friends and I truly appreciate your thinking of me in such thoughtful ways.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Good Riddance 2017

I had hardly gotten back from Panama when I got right back into the political scene - Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry holiday cocktail party, a protest at Sanford's office and a fund raiser for his opponent - all of that happening the week I returned.  The Sanford protest was against the tax bill, which they eventually, heartlessly passed.  It was a cold, rainy day, but we had a good turnout, mostly old codgers like me.  We also got encouraging responses from some of the passers-by.  This was also the day that Chris and I were having lunch together to celebrate her birthday.  The official date was weeks back, but they were away and then I was away so this was our first chance to celebrate - and we threw in the protest for good measure.  We mentioned that this was how bazaar life has become in the "Resistance".....we can't even celebrate a birthday without throwing in a protest along the way!  We did have a delicious lunch at the Beaufort Bread Company and it felt good to sit down, warm up and catch-up!  

This handsome, young man with the dorky-looking lady is Joe Cunningham, Sanford's opponent in the upcoming election.  He is a Charleston attorney and is very personable, with democratic ideals and values.  This was taken at the fund raiser and I was pleased to get to meet him and hear him speak.  Alabama has given us hope that we might be able to finally oust Sanford (and Graham and Scott!). I and friends are going to do all we can to help him and he plans to open an office in the county soon. Keep your fingers crossed!

It was after all this that I finally decided to get serious about Christmas, though I have to confess to not being in the mood. But, once I got busy, it began to feel like Christmas - trees up, mantles dressed, stockings hung, and so on.  I do really enjoying the decorations once they're up, but the thought of actually doing it is daunting. You've seen most of this before. It's just combined slightly differently this year. I took the photos so that I could show them to my hospice ladies.  It gives us something to talk about. After that, I turned them into a slideshow, this time using Powerpoint, which is much more sophisticated than earlier versions. 

Even during the holidays, life continues as usual - feeding the feral cats, visiting hospice ladies, Drinking Liberally, gatherings with friends, etc. Yesterday Melodee and I had a nice afternoon in Savannah.  We started with a delicious lunch at Fox and Fig, a new vegan restaurant that we heard about at Vegfest some months back.  It was hopping and the food was very good, including the chocolate brownie sundae!! From there we went to the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum. Several artists were exhibited and I especially liked E Bruce Phillips, Jr and Jacob Lawrence, as well as one female artist (whose name I can't remember) whose exhibit included two political statements with which I could really identify. It was my first time there, but I will definitely visit again.  Our tickets also admitted us to the Guo Pei exhibit down the street. The larger exhibit is in Atlanta and this one only included 6-8 designs.  The outfits are far-out, but the detail and workmanship were amazing.  I thought you might like to see them.

RANT: We are experiencing the coldest winter since I've been here.  All things are relative, but this is no longer funny.  One day next week the HIGH is supposed to be 40F!!  I can't even coax Rosie out in the morning, and I don't blame her. When I get her harness and walk to the door, she runs back to the bedroom and gets under the cover!  Really!  I don't have the heart to force the issue.

GOODBYE 2017: In some ways 2017 went like a shot and, in other ways, it seemed like it would never end!!  It's fair to say that it has been a year like no other.  It has also been a year of contrasts for me - being overloaded with political activity/negativity, but also having some wonderful trips, acquiring new friends (and missing others!), and having some heartwarming experiences.  It has certainly made me appreciate my friends more than ever!  Several of us have given some thought to ways we can constructively close 2017 and release the negativity, while at the same time remaining focused and productive in 2018, without becoming overwhelmed with political issues.  I'm still giving this some thought and I think this is where friends come in: we have to support one another!  If your year hasn't been this chaotic, count your blessings.  My hope is that 2018 will be kinder to us all. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Wonderful Vacation in Panama

This vacation proves that the best way to deal with all that is happening in the US is to leave the country!  It's wonderful how great one can feel to be away from this chaos.  With that said, let me tell you about Panama!  First, it is exceptionally beautiful.  It is the only place I've been where the clouds take on a life of their own and become a part of your day.  I had never heard of "micro-climates" (the climate of a very small or restricted area, especially when this differs from the climate of the surrounding area) before going to Panama.  It can be misty in one area and sunny in others, and conditions change very quickly.  The good thing is that whatever is happening remains within a comfortable temperature range year around.  These strange conditions seem to provide a wonderful opportunity for many beautiful flowers and lush greenery to thrive.  Hydrangeas grow large there and in the medians of the highway! This, along with a small town feel, made it a very pleasurable week.

Unfortunately, the area of Panama we were visiting is difficult to get to.  We had four flights each way.  We could have cut out one of those but it would have been more expensive. Once we got to David, we picked up a rental car, not fully realizing there would be very few street signs......or maps!!  After wandering around a little, we stopped at a service station and the guy recommended (in sign language) that we pay a taxi to lead us out of town!  Having done that before, I don't know why I didn't think of it myself.  So, for $3 our problem was solved.  Once we got on the main road, we made it easily to the Ponderosa by the directions provided by Margie, our host.  We impressed ourselves that we made it on time (3PM) with the few directions we had.  Since it was Thanksgiving, we had made reservations for dinner at Colibri, a very nice restaurant we found online. They were doing two seating for a full Thanksgiving dinner but said they could accommodate us if we came at 7PM, between the seating.  Again, with no real directions or street signs, we made it right on time.  It was a rainy night, but still comfortable, so we dined on the covered patio.  The food was delicious and we relaxed in knowing the hard part was over. We were also appreciative of their willingness to accommodate us on such a busy night.

A word about the Ponderosa.  Margie and Willy have been in Panama a little over a year and seem well settled.  She is into horses and has a lovely farm with a caretaker who lives on site.  Their house is three levels with a one bedroom apartment below and the two bedroom we rented above.  Their level obviously was not enough room for them so they built an incredible party room with spacious kitchen, large dining room and den with fireplace, a bathroom and a large deck. They have 4 or 5 lots with plenty of space for their various animals - three large dogs, chickens, 4 horses and a crazy, attack goose.  It really is a lovely, peaceful setting and we enjoyed our time there.  One afternoon we were outside and the three dogs started running with one of the horses, separated by the fence.  They would run the length of the fence, dawdle around a little, and then Spike would agitate for another run.  They did that repeatedly and it was fun to watch.  The Ponderosa was our second choice, but we did enjoy our time there.

On Friday, we went back into town and purchased a city map from the pizza shop we had asked directions from on our way to Colibri.  Sure enough, the lady remembered us and was pleased that we had stopped by for the map. We would see her again when we stopped in for pizza one evening!  From there we drove the Jaramillo Road loop into the mountains, which was breath-taking view, but had no place to pull over for photos. On the way down, we stopped at The Rock, another restaurant, to check out the menu.  We also found another place, The Garden, with great lunch salads.  Friday evening our hosts, Margie and Willie, invited us to join them and their friends for a Thanksgiving celebration.  We got to experience their party room and meet many of their friends, whom we kept running into throughout our stay.  It really set the tone for the whole visit.

The next day, Saturday, we went house hunting with Lauretta, whom Margie had recommended.  It was a good way to get a feel for the area and a deeper understanding of the community, but we felt she really was not showing us what we were interested in and our time might have been better spent, especially since she would require a second day to show us the interiors.  We cut the second day short and found some places to view independently.

Sunday was the Cabalgata, one of two major events that we did not expect.  The calbagata is one huge horse parade.  Their passion for horses was a total surprise to me, as about 500 horses and riders showed up for this.  Keep in mind that Boquete is a small town of about 13,000 people, so the parade route was around about 4-5 blocks long and several blocks across.  I guess that's why they kept going around and around.....that and the rum!  The parade included trucks that shot confetti into the crowd, trucks that carried the musicians, and trucks that supplied free rum!  We were advised to view from Big Daddy's, which proved to be wise.  We couldn't get a seat on the balcony, but after a few hundred horses passed by, that was smelled better inside!  It was easy to run down for photos or rum.  It was a fun day and a good time was had by all.  It was great to see the pride of some of the riders and the children who participated.  We were also struck by how easy it was to meet people.  We ran into almost everyone we had met at Margie's, plus several new people.  The town is about 20% expats and everyone seemed friendly and relaxed.  We left early enough to visit one of the developments we were interested in seeing (it was closed, but we found it for future reference)....and this may have been the evening we visited our favorite pizza lady again.

Monday was another quick day with Lauretta, after which we visited the Boquete Canyon development about 15 minutes outside of town.   It's in a lovely setting, surrounded by mountains with gorgeous clouds hanging around them.  After that we joined a new acquaintance, Wanda, for dinner and jazz at The Rock, an upscale restaurant we had heard checked out earlier.  The ambiance was fine, and the music was good, but the food a bit disappointing.  In any case, it was out of the ordinary for a little town like Boquete.

Tuesday, their Independence Day from Spain (they also celebrate their independence from Columbia!), we awakened to drums and went to sleep to drums - literally!  It was all good!  There were 52 marching bands from throughout the country that participated in the parade......and the President of Panama was also to be in town!  It seemed to begin with military and police groups, then children groups, and then the bands, saving the best to last.  It was a very festive day and the families loved having their children's photos taken in their native dress.  We walked around town for a bit and then viewed again from Big Daddy's, where we ran into familiar faces and met new people.  Another good day.

Wednesday was a very full day.  We had breakfast with the coatimundi at the local coffee shop.  They were just so much fun to watch and, with the wisdom of nature, they knew when to show up for snacks. We picked up  Wanda and went back out to Boquete Canyon to see properties we were not able to see the first visit.  From there we went to lunch at a charming little in-house restaurant run by a delightful local lady.  Her hospitality was as good as her food. It was easy to see that she would become a regular on anyone's restaurant list.  We dropped off Wanda and then proceeded to the coffee plantation tour with Boquete Tree Trek.  We were driven up the mountain on a narrow road, enjoying the scenery along the way.  There was a fine mist/rain, but we persevered and learned a lot about coffee, including Geisha coffee, which is the most expensive in the world.  It is $600/pound and their entire crop goes to Japan!  Since our plans had been somewhat sidetracked by celebrations and time with Lauretta, we were happy to have been able to do the tour.  It I ever go again, I'd like to have a night or two at the Tree Trek site and do their zip-line, canopy and bird watching tours.  Our guide said they sometimes saw howler monkeys and sloths on the coffee tour; but, due to the rain, we didn't. The day was not without excitement.  On our way down the mountain, the road was blocked by a huge tree that had fallen.  The driver had to turn around a large vehicle on a narrow of those close your eyes and hope for the best situations!  It only took them about 30 minutes to clear the tree and we were off again.  We finished the day by having dinner at Retrogusto (, a restaurant that would compare well to any restaurant anywhere.  We were asking about vegetarian and vegan dishes and the waiter suggested a "tasting".  So, we had a 5 course meal, with Melodee's being vegan and mine being vegetarian, with a nice bottle of wine. The food was delicious and we were served different menu items.  Once we agreed to the tasting, the waiter went over to the chef and explained what each of us would get, which was pretty amazing to us.  It was a wonderful way to end our last full day in Boquete.

We had planned to walk the grounds of the Ponderosa on our last morning, but it was the only day we had nasty weather.  So, we spent our time packing, tidying up, etc.  We had our last lunch at the Hotel Panamonte, which is another little jewel in Boquete.  It is very beautiful and quiet/serene.  Since our morning plans were sidetracked, we wound up having more time on our hands, so we headed to the airport earlier than initially expected, once again facing the challenge of no maps or street names.  I had copied directions from Google, but having no street signs still made it a challenge.  Once in town, we stopped at a bank to ask directions (because there was easy parking), but no one spoke English.  One lady did point to the coffee shop across the street, which we went to in order to access wifi.  When that didn't work, I just started going from table to table asking if anyone spoke English.  At my first stop, a kind gentlemen with excellent English took out his cell phone and gave us clear directions, which we thought we could follow.  I think we did some wandering around, but we did make it to the airport and the car check-in. We then flew from David to Panama City, where we had the night in the Ramada  before an early wake up for our flight out the next morning.

As I look back at our time there, I remember the coatimundi (and the animals we didn't get to see!), the beautiful flowers and the lush greenery, the pride and joy of the celebrations, and the ease of meeting people.  The drawbacks would be the difficulty getting to Boquete.  The road from David to Boquete is very good, but no maps and no signs tests your patience and ability.  Once you turn off the main roads, all others are extremely bumpy.  Everyone advises against getting a new car - get a junker!  Another thing I didn't realize is that most houses are sold furnished, due to the expense of shipping furnishings there.  That adds to the expense of property and you may wind up with furnishings you don't like.  Housing would be the major expense, as well as International health insurance.  Otherwise, one could live a very comfortable life at minimal expense. There seems to be many outside activities, as well as clubs to keep one as busy and involved. While no place is perfect, Boquete has a lot to offer.

I got home around 9PM to a very happy Rosie and Mama Mia.......and a neighborhood all decked out for Christmas!  I feel behind and don't think I'll get anything decorated until the weekend at easliest - if I don't talk myself out of it completely  Instead, I've enjoyed playing with my photos and remembering a wonderful vacation.  The only thing that went wrong is that I lost one of my favorite good earrings (that matches my favorite bracelet!).  I only carried one extra pair and I kept them in my purse.  I was the driver one day and I put the keys in the same compartment as the earrings, and I THOUGHT TO MYSELF, "Be careful when you remove the keys and don't lose an earring"!  So, what did I do?  Made me so mad for not listening to myself.

The day after getting home I was cooking and turned quickly to take cans to the recycle bin and got caught between an open dishwasher door and stepping on Mama Mia I leaned (hard) against the kitchen island, scraping the b-jesus out of my forearm. The moment I did it, I grabbed and squeezed the area.  I knew I would be bruised, but I didn't expect that I'd torn the skin. I guess that because I applied a lot of pressure, it didn't bleed very much.  I just tamped the skin back in place and applied an ointment and band-aids.  I've been leaving off the band-aids during the day but applying them at night to keep from moving the skin.  I guess I've officially arrived at that old lady, paper-thin-skin stage!!

Well, that was my vacation and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is a beautiful part of the world and I'd go back again.  Just let me know when you're ready!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Busy, Busy

It's been a busy couple of weeks and I wanted to touch bases before more time passed.  It's that time of year when things begin to move fast around the holidays.

Melodee and I attended two films at the Savannah Film Festival on two consecutive Saturdays.  It was very festive and the weather was perfect on both days, so there were lots of people strolling about enjoying the event.  All of the eateries were busy and we had great lunches both days. The first movie we saw was Jane about the life of Jane Goodall (trailer here).  It was excellent.  It was composed of never before seen footage shot by a photographer for National Geographic's, who later became her husband.  I knew nothing of her personal life, so that was all very interesting, and the photography was spectacular.  Following the film was a Q & A session with one of the producers, which was also interesting and made us appreciate the film even more.

The second movie was Norman with Richard Gere.  He played a New York "fixer" and it was  kind of a character study, which seemed a different roll for him.  It, too, was good in a different kind of way.  Following the film was an interview with Richard himself.  He seemed very low key and with an easy sense of humor.  In the middle of it, one lady in the back stood up and shouted that she had flown in from Egypt just to see Mr. Gere!  He couldn't hear her, but when he learned what she had said, he called her down, shook her hand and wished her well.  At the end, after the final applause and the crowd was filing out, he called out a girl's name and asked if she was there.  Someone raised their hand and he said it was the sister of his son's best friend (who attends SCAD) and he just wanted to say hello.  So, who would ever expect to see Richard Gere in Savannah.  As we said, it was the best $3 we've ever spent!

An evening at Drinking Liberally

It also seems to have been a busy time for the Resistance.  The best news we've had is the wonderful election results early this month - a Shik was elected, several transgender people were elected, as well as lots of women and people of color.  It was a total repudiation of all Trump stands for.  We accomplished other things, or at least prevented the GOP to do some of the things they would like, but nothing as heady as the election.  Now if we can just maintain until the 2018 election!

Chris and I showed up at Mark Sanford's community Kroger, right out my back gate.  You can see that this was a much smaller group than previous town halls and it was about half democrats and republicans.  There were some heated exchanges but he commended us at the end for keeping it civil. He tends to be very slick and long winded, but at least he makes the effort and there is small satisfaction in asking questions or expressing concerns.  Chis and I also had a nice lunch in the midst of everything else (on a different day)!

After George Bush, John McCain and Jeff Flake made their scathing speeches about Trump and the GOP, Lowcountry Indivisible canvased members, asked for donations and ran this full page ad in our local paper.  I thought it was great!  I haven't heard it there has been any feedback, one way or the other.  It was definitely satisfying to see it!

An then, yesterday (Friday) Steve Bannon shows up in Charleston, invited by the cadets to speak at the Citadel Republican Society (and given some type of award)!  Only two years ago, a White Nationalist, which is one of the many vile things he claims to be, shot dead 9 members of Mother Emanuel Church while they were having Bible study!  And then, they do this!  I contacted Tippy, one of my Resister Sisters, and we put on our protest boots again.  You can see from the flyer that the rally was very inclusive and totally peaceful. In fact, we were doing our thing directly across the street from the event but our backs were basically turned to them.  The speakers were very inspirational and motivation.  It was also wonderful to see people from all the groups mentioned, all open and welcoming. It was a last minute thing, but I think we were both glad we made the effort to attend.  Rev. Dixon, the organizer, did a fantastic job and I would definitely attend anything he offers.

Another reason for trying to touch bases now, is that I'm a little over a week away from our (Melodee and myself) trip to Panama.  We're sussing it out in case this country continues to go to hell in a hand basket at warp speed and we need a Plan B.  The area we are visiting is in and around Boquete  (second link HERE), and it sounds wonderful......though we know no place is perfect.  I'm trying to remain objective and we have a lot of questions, as well as places and people to see. Our main concern is the weather.  While the temperature remains springlike all year, there is a rainy season when it rains almost every afternoon.  As I write today, the high here was about 59F.  It was 81 in Boquete!  Anyway, we shall see and I'll keep you posted.  My plan for tomorrow is to start getting my clothes together, which is never fun. In any case, I'll be in touch when I get back.  In the meantime.....

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Friends Move On

Time moves on and we're getting to the time of year, the holidays, when it goes into overdrive. Stores already have Christmas items on display and we haven't even gotten through Halloween!  It just makes me cringe!!

This month has been marked by the loss of friends - not due to my obnoxious behavior, but due to death and moves to other parts of the country.  The first was a memorial service for my neighborhood friend Mary.  She passed away several months ago. We bonded the day after the election when our paths crossed as we walked our dogs.  We hadn't talked politics at all before that, but we were so distraught that we both began sharing our disbelief.  It was at that point that I invited her to Drinking Liberally, which she attended faithfully and seemed to relish.  We were all stunned when she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and given only months to live. She managed it valiantly and with a certain resignation.  I never met her husband, who passed away several years earlier, with the same thing only faster, in a matter of weeks after being diagnosed.  As we learned from Mary's children at the service, they had not had a service for their father because Mary just couldn't fully let him go.  They confessed to not having fully dealt with his passing before Mary passed also.  They were both cremated and the service was for both of them, which just seemed fitting. It was a very intimate, touching service with their grandchildren reading a poem and doing a musical piece.  The eulogies by the children added more depth to the Mary we knew.  It was very touching and I felt honored to be included.  Later in the afternoon, the 3 children had hired a boat to take them out to sea where they would spread the ashes of their mom and dad, just as they had wanted.

Several days after Mary's service, I had lunch with Ana, another neighborhood friend and zentangle buddy.  She and Lou, her husband, have since moved to San Antonio. We got together as often as possible for an afternoon of lunch and zentangle.  It was always fun and a great chance for us to catch up. I'm going to miss Ana's motivation for doing zentangle.  I walk Rosie by their house every day and still expect to see them.

The day after that, I had lunch with another friend, Pilar, who has moved to California! Our connection was politics and I'm wondering if she will remain as active once she acclimates to a blue state.

That same week I had Drinking Liberally and lunch with another friend.....and this was just after I weighed myself to discover that I'd put on all the weight I'd made such an effort to lose before my UK trip!  My walking routine is still waiting to happen!!

My friend Melodee and I attended the second annual Lowcountry Vegfest at Shelter Cove Park.  As you can see from the photos, it was a lovely day and a great turnout.  I'd also say there were almost twice as many vendors and lots great food!  Pierre the pig was a huge attraction, as were rescued greyhounds.  Many animal sanctuaries were represented, as was our local Palmetto Animal League, from whom I adopted Chloe and who helped me with Mama Mia and her babies.  Gene Baur, who has been a vegan since 1985 and founded the first farm animal sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY, was the guest speaker.  While he was probably preaching to the choir, he was still very motivational. The first 300 people received a swag bag of freebies, but I did buy No Evil Foods Spicy Italian Sausage.  The next day I made a pasta recipe and used the sausage, and it was sooo good!  Their business is out of Asheville, NC but you can buy their products at Whole Foods.  I'm definitely pleased to have discovered them.  Vegfest lasted from 10AM until 5PM, but we left around 2:30 and went to Driessen Beach for about an hour.  We just sat, enjoyed the view and soaked up the sun.  It was a great way to end the afternoon.

Those are the fun things, and the remainder of my time has been filled with the usual - feeding feral cats, doing my Resistance work, hospice volunteer work, progressive ladies' lunches, and real exciting things like cleaning the garage!  It has finally gotten cool enough to be able to do that.  It seems that fall has finally arrived and it's nice to be able to get out anything of the day and be reasonably comfortably.

Rosie wishes you a Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Fall is in the Air

Yes, today is the first day it has felt like Fall and it feels very good.  As someone said, "Fall is the Southerner's reward for getting through the summer"!  It was a bit breezy when I took Rosie out for her walk and she even seemed to have an extra spring in her step.  I'm trying to get back into my walking routine and I can no longer use the weather as an excuse, so maybe I will actually get back into it.

It also feels like I haven't been home much, what with my wonderful vacation, the Irma evacuation and a weekend in NC for a family reunion. So, I'm hoping to have some treasured home time over the next week.  I wasn't ready to leave home again for the reunion, but I'm glad I went and I really enjoyed it.  As usual, there was lots of good food.  Laney, my cousin who always has a great garden, sent me home with lots of eggplants and bell peppers.  As soon as I got home I made a quick and simple eggplant stir-fry.  I shared some with friends and then made the dish here, mainly because it looked so pretty.  Well, it smelled wonderful while cooking and it tasted great......and I still have enough to make a Chickpea Eggplant Stew! If you're interested, I combined these two recipes: How to Make Perfect Ratatouille and Zucchini, Eggplant, Tomato Gratin.  Enjoy!

It's been a very busy week.  The repeal of the Affordable Care Act was prevented so we political junkies (the Resistance) are taking a break before we tackle the tax "reform".  It seems like I've eaten out almost every day this week, but the real treat came when Chris emailed to ask if I wanted to join her and Sue, a friend visiting from Milwaukee, for an evening at the beach.  It was such a fun event to look forward to that I got motivated - two packages in the mail, car washed, began scanning my mother's old photos (lots of fun to see), and more.  It was like someone lit a fire under me!  The evening was just as relaxing and fun as I'd anticipated.  Chris brought some scrumptious sandwiches and I brought the wine, disguised as apple juice!  A few minutes after we arrive, it was like the temperature just dropped a few degrees.  We sat and watched the sun set and marveled at a little one-legged sea gull that kept hanging around.  We also noticed three other ladies doing exactly the same thing!  What a great way to end the day!  I've already mentioned to Chris that we need to do this more often, along with other friends, and to make it a tradition when Sue visits - lots of good conversation, laughs, and the beauty of nature!

File this under More Than You Want to Know!  I began scanning my mother's old photos because when I went to the reunion, my cousin had scanned theirs and distributed the originals to the family's shown in the photos.  It was really fun to see them all and listen to comments and stories.  I came home determined to do the same so I could share them at the next reunion.  These are a few (of the best ones!) she gave me.  The first thing that struck me is how dark my hair was.....once I got some! I'm about 1/3 through my mother's photos and am enjoying seeing them again. I'm also noticing things I hadn't noticed before.  Maybe that's the eye of age!

Ana, my neighborhood buddy and zentangle partner, is moving to San Antonio.  We went out to lunch yesterday and she gave me these beautiful plants.  I don't have the green thumb that she has, but I'm going to make every effort to maintain them.  I'm planning to get one larger pot for all of the cacti and hope that I can transplant them without killing them!  I do fairly well with succulents, so I'm being positive!!  They will also be an excellent reminder to Ana and Lou.  I'm going to miss them, but I know they are excited about the move and will enjoy being near her family.

I have to confess to still viewing my vacation photos....and loving every minute of them!  This past week was the first time I had a chance to show them to the hospice ladies I visit. One of the ladies is a native of England and I knew she would enjoy them.  Every week I visited her before the trip.  I reminded her that I was going to the UK.  She always asked when.  When I said "August" she assured me that was the perfect time to go.  Anyway, when we got to this photo, she commented on how beautiful Katie looked, how lovely the flowers were, and then she said, "and Martin looks quite pleased with himself"!  That really tickled me!  I assured her that Martin was a proud father.....and he did choke up a bit during the father-of-the-bride speech.  Both ladies enjoyed the photos and it was an excuse for me to see them again.

This week, while being busy for me, has also been a busy birthday month.  I'm very behind in everything, so I want to wish Carolyn and Sandra my very best BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY wishes!!  I hope you both had wonderful birthdays and that it carries over into the coming year.

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