Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hurricane Irma

I had hardly settled in from my trip to the UK before we were ousted by Hurricane Irma.  It was such a large storm and, having evacuated twice before, I knew it was better to leave earlier rather than later.  Early on I touched bases with Rhonda, whom I evacuated with last year, but she already had the week off and was heading to Franklin, NC to check on her dad.  She suggested Tippy, a mutual friend, and I touch bases.  As it turned out, Tippy had planned to evacuate to her cabin in the NC mountains, in none other than Franklin!!  So, I was fortunate enough to be invited along.  Her cabin turned out to be the perfect retreat.  It is a one bedroom cabin with two sleeper sofas.  It has everything one could possibly want or need, with no clutter to distract.  It was delightful.

A major part of the evacuation is the drive out and back, both of which take much longer than usual.  People from Florida were already evacuating so the interstates were clogged.  It took 10-11 hours each way.  Before leaving, I stopped by the vet's office to pick up something to calm Rosie so she wouldn't pant all the way there.  It worked like a charm going out, but not as well coming back, so I stopped and gave her 1/4 of the medication and that settled her for the remainder of the drive.  Once I got Mama Mia's situation right, she slept most of the way up and back!  When we were almost half-way up, Tippy got a call saying the storm had veered west, so we stopped to figure out what to do.  Being indecisive, we went to a car dealership that we were parked near and asked if we could come in and watch the weather channel!!  They were very gracious and let us sit for a minute and figure out what to do.....and we probably gave them something to talk about for the rest of the day!

I need to thank Martin W for the app (Waze) that got me home quickly (relatively speaking).  As I neared Columbia, which is always congested, it took me on and off I-26 several times, then directing me through Orangeburg.  I never got on I-95 at all and kept moving the whole time.  I kept wondering whether or not I would make better time on 95, but once I talked to Rhonda, I was glad I trusted the app.  She left an hour before us and got home at 1AM.  I got home at 9PM!!  

The day after we arrived in Franklin, we had brunch with Robyn and Mary Elizabeth, friends and neighbors of Tippy.  Robyn is a superb cook and we had creamy scrambled eggs with green onion, garlic, etc. and cheesy grits made with brie - out of this world!  We then invited Mary, Robyn, Rhonda and Mike (her dad) to join us for dinner at the local Thai restaurant.  More delicious food and great conversation. We also shared banana pancakes and cinnamon pancakes with Robyn and Mary during our stay.  What a way to start each day!

They also invited us all over for dinner one night, along with two other neighbors.  It is a very tight-knit community and I felt honored to be so welcomed.  They had ham for the carnivores, but Robyn made the best pinto beans and farro (which I'd never eaten before, but will henceforth!).  She shared her recipe and I'm going to be experimenting. You can see the spread, complete with homemade biscuits!  

As the weather was getting a bit worse, Tippy and I went back over to Robyn and Mary's the following morning to help them move furniture off their deck, before coming back and doing the same at Tippy's place.  It has to be said that they have one of the best mountain views I've seen.  It's a panoramic view and each day, or even time of day, is different from the last.....just beautiful, as you can see.

The storm itself was minimal, or as Tippy described it, "a leaf event", blowing down lots of leaves and small branches.  Through the night there were gusts of wind and rain, and I did hear branches knock against the house, but all in all, very minimal.  Poor little Rosie, didn't poop for two days because of the rain and wet leaves.  To even get her away from the door, we would carry her to the end of the drive, hoping she would decide to pee pee, poo poo on her sprint home!  It didn't happen and you can imagine her relief when she again saw dry grass!!  She was a good girl, though, not pooping in the house.

The day after the storm, we went over to Robyn and Mary's again, to put out their furniture.  We had to walk the last part of the way as they had about 4 small trees fall across the road, blocking their driveway.  We took photos and alerted them of the situation and, before we left, their neighbors came to the rescue.  It was at that point that we decided to head home, quickly packing up and securing the house.  The plan was to go to Tippy's sister in Spartanburg, at which point I would decide whether or not to stay over or carry on home.  Once I got the pets situated, I really didn't want to put them or me through it the next day, so I just dragged on home.  You really do put yourself in that "this has to get done" mode and carry on.  I was exhausted and my eyes were bleary because it's been a long time since I've driven hours at night.  But, the next morning, it was nice to be home.  There was no damage to the house and when I plugged in everything, all worked except my internet.  I called Hargray ASAP and they were out to replace the box at 1PM the same delay whatsoever!  

I'm saving the best photo for last!
Here is Tippy with her refurbished sign - "If you ain't invited, you ain't invited"!  After meeting friends and neighbors, I felt honored to be invited and so warmly welcomed.  Considering the circumstances, it was a restful, relaxing and fun way to spend an evacuation. Tippy was so laid-back and very gracious to me and to the fur-babies, which I very much appreciated.  They all turned a threatening event into wonderful time spent with new friends.  My deepest thanks to everyone!

More photos!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

My Time in England

Well, it has to be said that I had a fantastic vacation....on every level!  The wedding was a magical weekend and it was so good to see long-time friends again.  Every day was non-stop from morning til night and somehow I kept the pace, due to a mixture of adrenaline, fun and sheer delight!!  It was the first time since the beginning of the year that I've felt that light and carefree.  I'd almost forgotten how it felt!  So, I highly recommend getting away to everyone!!

Eileen met me at St Pancras station and we took the train to Loughborough in the Midlands. That was not without calamity!  After signing up for a program that would allow me to use my cell phone in the UK, it wouldn't work!  We were to meet at the steps from the tube to the station, but it was a very small area, so I ventured into the trendy Mall that was attached.  I kept on the lookout for Eileen, but no luck (I didn't know that she also didn't have cell service on the train down!). This is when you really miss those red phone boxes!! Finally, I stopped at a service desk and asked if they could make a call for me.  They called Eileen and no answer!!  Then I asked if I could text her, which they kindly allowed me to do.  I told her I could be in front of John Lewis in the, I just parked myself there. Finally, Eileen got cell service again to find that she had missed a call and received a text.  At that point, she stopped at the same service desk to ask where John Lewis was located!!  Somewhere in the midst of all that, we had passed each other at least once!!  We sat and had coffee and a good laugh!!

We took an afternoon train to Loughborough and it began to rain.  It rained the rest of the afternoon and into the night (and I kept threatening to sleep in the conservatory as the rain sounded so good!).  By mid-morning the next day, the sun peaked through and the weather was pretty much clear for the rest of my visit!!  Our first morning was spent at the Peter La Merchant Trust boat site, where Eileen volunteers.  The Trust takes handicapped and elder people of day long boat trips, which must be a real treat for them.  I can see why Eileen enjoys it.  We were there in time to go on-board and see the boat and volunteers.  Shortly, a group arrived and we got to see them board and leave port.  The boat had to turn around in the canal and I could have sworn that the boat was longer than the canal was wide - but they did it!!  From there we went to Eileen's quilting group, a jovial group of talented ladies. Not all were quilting, some were doing stitchery or working on Christmas ornaments, etc.  Last year they made 99+1 quilts for Project Linus, which uses the small quilts for children in crisis situations.  Their quilts were exceptional and something anyone would treasure.  

The following day Eileen was kind enough to drive down to Manchester for a visit with Allan's sister Jean, Douglas, and their extended family.  We had a scrumptious lunch, and it was so sunny and warm that we sat outside for a portion of the afternoon.  The last time I saw them, they had one they have four, three boys and one girl!!  I said Audrey would either be spoiled or tough (or both), but as they all mature, I'm sure she will be well looked after.  I missed seeing Howard, but it was great to see Victoria, Abi, Paul and to meet Paul's parents.  Our time was short, but I'm so glad we were able to get together and catch up a bit.

The next day it was time to head for Bradford-on-Avon, where we were staying for the wedding.  Bradford is a lovely town, especially the stone buildings.  We soon discovered that, as lovely as it is, there was no long term parking!!  We asked everyone we met and most suggested parking in a residential area, though I could imagine someone becoming suspicious of a strange car parked outside their house.  Though a little dubious, we were considering that option, when the Bobby suggested we go to the nearby taxi stand and schedule all of our pickups.  While there, we asked the lady behind the counter about long term parking and she asked if we'd be moving the car a lot.  We told her our plan was to park it and use their, she told us to bring our car there.  When we did, she pulled her car out of the parking space and motioned us in!!  What a nice thing to do!!  We left it there all weekend without worry, but every time we got into a taxi, the driver asked if we were the ladies whose car was at the station!!  
There were two other funny instances in Bradford. 

  • As we were checking into our hotel, we told the owner that everyone, even the police, recommended their pies.  He said, "If you've only been in town a short time and already encountered the police, maybe I should be suspicious"!  
  • It may have been the same night when we were meeting Ann and Martin for dinner.  It was difficult for the taxi to pick us up at the hotel, so they asked us to meet them at the corner. There was a light mist so, fully dressed for dinner, we stood in the doorway of a shop that was closed.  A man, his wife and their dog passed by.  The man stopped and said, "You two must have a story!"  We all laughed and assured him he didn't have enough time!!  
All of that made our time in Bradford special.

Ann and Martin invited us to join the family for dinner (on the night before the wedding) at the George Inn at Norton St Philip. The George is the oldest continuous pub in England, "serving beer for 700 years"!!  The ambiance was great and everyone in good spirits.  Emily and Eileen had a good chat and Katie and I talked politics a bit......she's a girl after my own heart!  It was a great preface to the following day!

On Saturday, the day of the wedding, we had a leisurely morning and time to prepare for the wedding at 2:30.  The afternoon was sunny and clear, as was the whole weekend (as you'll see in my photos).  Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of photos of the wedding itself, but I'm hoping to get a copy of a video that Stephen put together, which I will post later.  St Thomas a Becket Church was beautiful and intimate.  The floral arrangements, as well as Katie's bouquet and head-dress, were beautiful, as was her dress.  Adrian looked handsome and stylist, as were all of their friends.  The priest was very humorous and expected it to be a joyous celebration, which it was!  It could not have gone more perfectly!  From there we went by a double-decker bus to Wick Farm for the reception - another beautiful location and setting, passing a castle along the way!  It was nice enough to mingle outside for a while before going in for speeches and dinner.  The bride's maids, Emily and Francesca, spoke first, followed by Martin, who straight away quoted from Genesis!!  There was a nervous stirring from all assembled!!  Luckily, he took a clever turn and everyone laughed!  His speech was great and he did get a little choked up at the end......he did have us going there for a while, though!  It was a lovely evening and we oldies even managed to stay up past our bedtimes!

Sunday was another perfect day!  Margaret and Phil, Adrian's parents, had invited everyone to their house for brunch.  It was an afternoon of nice weather, good conversation, delicious good and total relaxation.  The garden was absolutely beautiful and there was a white cat that vacillated between sleeping among the flowers and granting his presence to cat worshipers in the crowd.  Phil took us to see the panoramic view of Bath, which was serene and peaceful, with a little viewing deck perfect for a glass of wine and a good book!! Heavenly!  Later in the afternoon, we went to Gillingham, where Ann and Martin have settled.  They have a lovely home and Martin has a well established BBQ routine, and major BBQ skills that he's honed over the years.  I was very impressed.

The following day on her way home, Eileen dropped me off at Dave and Jenny Cameron's.  It was great to have some time to just sit and chat.  The first night we looked at photos and told stories, remembering things I hadn't thought about in a long time......lots of fun.  Tuesday Jenny and I spent most of the day seeing the National Memorial Arboretum, which is massive.  There are over 300 memorials commemorating all branches of the armed services, as well as all support groups.  I was pleased to see that women seem to be well represented, as were animals.  We were in the Far East Prisoners of War building and I was reading about a family that was sent to Changi Prison in Singapore.  It was about six children of a mixed race family.  Five of the children had their mother's coloring, but the sixth was white like the father, which gave away the family.  The father was in the men's part of the prison, while mother and children where in another part......until the boys turned 10, at which point they were put in with the men.  As I was reading, a lady walked up and told me that she knew the girl in the story.  They had been best friends in Singapore and she, too, had gone to Changi Prison.  A small group gathered around her and she told us about her time in the prison, being moved to another prison, and eventually coming to England at the age of 14 with nothing except the clothes on her back.  Her story was amazing and I'm so glad she was able to share it with us.  It was a relaxing, informative day, nice enough to even have lunch outside.  That evening we had pies that I'd bought from Bradford!!  Everyone in town kept telling us that the place we were staying had the best pies around and, since we didn't have a chance to try them, we took some to go!  It worked out perfectly because Stacey joined us for dinner!  I'm so glad she stopped by and I had a chance to catch up with her as a young woman.  The last time I saw them was at Disney World when they were still children.  Steffi was away, touring Asia with several friends.....since February!!  She just returned a few days ago and I'd love to hear her stories! It was a great visit and I really enjoyed it.  Dave sent me away with the following cartoon, for those who want to know how the rest of the world sees what's going on here!!

The next day Ann and Martin picked me up and we all had a scrumptious lunch with the Camerons before heading back to Gillingham.  We had lots of time to catch up and natter.  One high point of my time there was an afternoon at Stourhead, part of the National Trust.  It is a large estate with absolutely beautiful grounds.  Christine and John Snell joined us and it was a delightful afternoon, followed by drinks at the local pub (The Buffalo) and a delicious Indian meal.....all within walking distance of the Wingrove's house.  The second high point was as time in Sherborne - a very picturesque town which includes the Abbey of St Mary the Virgin.  This is a perfect example of how magical the trip was......while in Sherborne, we stopped for lunch.  The minute we walked into the restaurant, it started to pour HAILED, but by the time we finished lunch the sun was trying to peak out again!!!  I also enjoyed getting to know Stephen as a nice young man rather than the chubby cheeked child I'd know long ago.  He is a delight.  The whole time was enjoyable. 

On Saturday we drove to Clifton/Bristol to meet up with Lyn and Jacqui.  We arrived a little late due to construction/detoured traffic/etc., but we had a late lunch and then walked around our area, including a park and the expansion bridge.  We stopped for a drink at a hotel with a large, outside sitting area, which was packed due to the nice weather.  We got back to our hotel in time to get changed for dinner!!  We had a nice meal at the Cote, followed by pub time at The Mall.  That was when the stories and laughs came out!!  It was so nice to see them both and have a chance to just sit and catch up.  It was also great to see Lyn looking so well after his health issues several years back AND to find that he's enjoying retirement!  We all got together for breakfast the next morning before going out separate ways.  It seemed too short and I was very appreciative of the time together.  Before leaving Bristol, we stopped to visit Emily and Olli. It was nice to see them in their own setting and to hear their plans for the future.  

The next morning it would all come to an end. Somehow we all got showered, packed and Martin barbecued again!  Ann and Martin would also be flying out about the same time as me to Holland to celebrate Martin's retirement with the office there. Later in the week they would be celebrating Martin's retirement with the London I'm not sure how they maintained the pace through it all, but they did.  From my perspective, I can only say "a good time was had by all" - at least I hope so.  It was a magical trip for me from beginning to end and I thank all who took the time and made the effort to get together.  I hope you will let me return the hospitality!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

August Is Here!

Yes, August is here and that means I'm off to the UK for two weeks!!  I  can't believe the time has arrived!  The Wingrove Event Planners International have designed a great itinerary for me, allowing me to have time with lots of longtime friends.  So, in addition to Katie and Adrian's wedding, there will be lots of reunions, to which I'm really looking forward.  

Eileen is my first stop, and while I'm with her we will travel to Manchester to visit Allan's sister and her family.  There have been three additional grandchildren since my last visit, so many little ones to meet.  On the weekend, Eileen and I will travel down to Bath for the wedding, which should be a happy, festive weekend.  She will then drop me off at the Camerons for a couple of nights.  While I saw Dave and Jenny at the 2015 reunion, their "children" are now young women!!  Ann and Martin will pick me up there and I'll have some time with them, which is really exciting as I haven't been to Dorset or seen their new house.  We also plan an overnight in Bristol in hopes of meeting up with the Thomases and possibly the Marshes.  No doubt there will be many embarrassing memories shared over a glass or two of wine!  I wish I could see everyone, but I'm a bit disoriented about where Ann and Martin are now located.  In any event, we are really maximizing my time - and we ladies do have to have some time to just sit and "chew the fat".  I'm really looking forward to it all and it's great that it"s centered around such a happy occasion.

Started packing today - at least selecting clothes and seeing that all will fit before pressing, etc.  Even that presented a problem as Mama Mia decided she might want to travel a bit, too!  She kept moving to whatever section of the bed I was working, until I finally had to give up and try again later.

Preparations were not without drama.  Several weeks ago I had to take Rosie to the vet.  She was very lethargic and two days straight she threw up clear, bubbly stuff immediately follow by a white, thick mucous that she could hardly spit out.  When I threw a squeaky toy down the hall and she didn't move from her bed, I knew something was really wrong.  The vet didn't know the source of the problem, unless she had eaten something that made her ill.  He gave her and antibiotic shot and sent me home with another antibiotic and something for the vomiting.  It took a few days, but she recovered and returned to her usual happy, perky self.  This is the first time she has been sick and I was very so glad she is better.

Then this week it was Mama Mia, who had a severe case of constipation.  This has been an ongoing problem for her, but this was an extreme case, to the tune of about $500!!  Because she was (and pretty much remains) a feral cat, they had to handle her with gloves and anesthetize her in order to do the examination.  They gave her an enema and kept her overnight to be sure she was pooping.  Then the vet sent me home with some chew-able tabs to put in her food - that was very iffy!  Plan B was to add coconut oil or mineral oil to her food, which she stopped eating!  After two days without pooping (partially because she wasn't eating) one of the people who will be caring for my pets while I'm away stopped by and asked if I'd tried Miralax.  So I researched it online and most people added it to moist food, which Mama doesn't eat.  Finally, I found people whose cats only eat dry food and they added Miralax to the dry food.  So, I tried that and it seemed to adhere to the dry food and is tasteless and odorless.  I put it on her food one night and the next morning she had eaten it all.  Twenty-four hours later - poop!!  Who would ever expected one would be so happy about poop!  I'm hoping things will be normalize by the time I leave........never a dull moment!

Otherwise, I devote much of my time to The Resistance!!  We actually prevented the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) from being repealed even though the Repugs hold all branches of government.......and it's mostly women doing this!!  In fact, when they determined who was active in this process, the answer was "your mother"......not the vulgar term, but women old enough to be your mother or grandmother.  Also, it appears that many more women are running for office, which I think is a wonderful thing.  My feeling is that the world will be a better place when women claim their power and use it for good!! HOWEVER, I have to confess that it has all been exhausting and depressing!  I really can't imagine having to do this for 4 (or God forbid, 8!!) years......but if we don't, the USA will be a 3rd world autocracy of some sort that you will not recognize.  I think much of this was inspired by the Women's March in DC the day after the Inauguration, which makes me even more proud that I participated.....on the day after my 70th birthday!!  WOMEN ROCK!!

This is a sweet thing that happened today. The lady who cleans my house every couple of weeks in from Mexico.  She originally worked for a cleaning service that abruptly shut down, but she contacted me about continuing to clean my house.  Eventually, her niece joined her.  Well, Anna, her niece, was away for awhile, visiting her family in Mexico.  Today was her first day back and she brought me this cute little basket and some sweets - dried sweet potato and fig.  That was just so sweet!!  It made my day!

Will close now but wanted to touch bases before I head out.  I hope this finds everyone doing well and enjoying the season.  No doubt I will have lots to share when I get back!  In the meantime, take care and enjoy every minute!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 4, 2017

Well, July is upon us, much too quickly. It appears I missed the whole month of June! This year the 4th. seems a bit somber as so much is changing in our country, at headlong pace.  I was invited to a few things tonight, but just decided to stay in, not wanting to be dealing with traffic after fireworks, etc.  Someone recommenced a Netflix movie - Thurgood, about Thurgood Marshall, I assume - which seemed a good, patriotic substitute for fireworks (and I can be in my PJs!)!

I and many of my friends continue our work in the Resistance, which is wearing after 6 months. It is amazing how much destruction can be done in such a short time.  A shoe drops almost every day, each one more terrible than the last. In my case, I make calls or send faxes almost every day, but you do get to a point where you just have to take some down time!  We are all beginning to wonder if we can maintain 4, or God forbid 8, years of this!!  It really is depressing and totally disappointing!

I have maintained my usual groups and activities, all of which are great diversions.  June included a very nice Liberal Ladies cocktail party and the Democratic Picnic.  On the 17th, my friend Melodee and I went to the Juneteenth celebration at Mitchelville Beach.  We especially enjoyed the McIntosh County, GA. Ring Shouters (seen HERE in Library of Congress video) and the Praise Singers.  It was a pleasant afternoon and something a little different to do.

The photos of me in the video prove that I have become my mother!  I never really thought I looked like her, but actually gasped when I saw the photos!  Looking like her is not a bad thing, just a surprise!  Oh, the joys of aging!

For years, I've wanted to go to the Port Royal Street Music concerts....but it seemed like too much of a drive.  They're held every other week through the summer (except, hot, hot!).  Since Melodee lived there for a while, she was familiar with the area and the concerts, so we headed over one Saturday afternoon/evening.  It really was a delight.  I was dreading the heat, but the area was shaded and people just brought their chairs, or wheeled up in golf carts, with wine and snacks, and listened to the music.  There were people of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages....socializing, dancing, just enjoying the music.  It really was fun and I will definitely be going back again.

This past Friday, Chris and I had a day in Savannah, another place I don't go often enough.  We started with a great lunch at Kayak, an excellent little restaurant, and then did a little walk around the area.  There are lots of interesting shops, which we enjoyed.  Then we went to the Jepson Museum to see the Kahlil Gibran art exhibit.  It happens that he had a long, enduring friendship with Mary Haskill, who eventually settled in Savannah and donated many of his art pieces to the Jepson Museum.  I was totally unaware that he was also an artist and his work was very impressive.  To counter that, in another area of the museum, was an exhibit by three Arab women which showed the stark reality of what is happening in parts of the Middle East today.....very thought provoking!  We made our way home just before the afternoon thunderstorm began.  It was a great escape and I really enjoyed it. Chris does her share in the Resistance and I think we're going to have to come up with more distractions like this!

I've also started walking again - about 2.5 - 3.5 miles a day, about 5 days a week.  Katie Wingrove's wedding is the major motivation, but it also gets me away from MSNBC for a while.  in addition, rather than watching MSNBC all the time, I've started listening to NPR on my computer.  Even though they, too, talk politics, it is not the same thing over and over - and they do cover other topics.  So, I am trying to find ways to keep current without the constant barrage.  Walking does make me feel better, both physically and mentally.....though not sure its helping with the weight at all! 

July seems to be a sparse month, but things usually crop up.  I do need some time to prepare for my trip to the UK, to which I'm looking forward!  In addition to the wedding, it will be great to see friends...and the country itself!  It may be the "get-away" I really need!!

That's about it for me.  I hope this finds everyone doing well and Happy 4th to all Stateside!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Days at Home

Well, I have some enforced at-home time, and I feel it was just want I needed.  Yesterday I joined some friends from Beaufort to attend the Gullah Festival.  It was a very nice afternoon, sitting by the waterfront enjoying the music and people watching.  I headed home in time to give Rosie a walk, when my car died on me halfway through the trip.  AAA towed it to my repair shop, but they aren't open today, so I figure Wednesday is the earliest I'll see my car.  This morning I've spent a little time cancelling all plans through Wednesday, and I feel an immediate I'm thinking so at-home time was just what I needed.

As I waited for the tow truck, I did have a nice experience.  I waited outside by my car and saw lots of people come and go (was in a service station parking area), when this one, nice, Black man came over and asked if I was okay.  I told him my story, we chatted a bit, and he went on his way.  I thanked him again and told him I really appreciated his asking....that one moment renewed my faith in mankind! 

After about 4 trips to the computer doctor, I seem to have a working computer again.  The repairman was very patient - the last episode involved losing the functioning of my keyboard!!  He was determined to solve the problem and didn't charge me for the various things that sprung up.  He predicted that I should now be able to get another year our of the computer.

While it seems that everything mechanical in my life is breaking, I do have some good news!

  • My mother's house has finally sold!  In early April, the realtor called to say there was an offer on the price, cash, and to close ASAP!!  After a month, it closed and it is now a done deal.  It seems that the purchaser's house had burned down and I guess she had insurance money and wanted to get it done as quickly as possible.  While selling it was sad, it was also a relief - and I know my mother would be happy that it is being used and maintained, rather than sitting and going to ruin. 
  • While I was visiting Jan, we planned a trip to Africa - Kenya and Tanzania.  It is through Overseas Adventure Travel and you can see details HERE.  It is truly a trip of a lifetime and something I've wanted to do for a long time.  We are also going a day early so we can see the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where they rescue baby elephants. Anyway, it is something to look forward to, and while it seems a long time away - February 2018 - it will be here before we know it.  It's so exciting!
  • I could not have gone to Seattle and considered other trips without knowing that my fur-babies were well situated.  I am so fortunate to have found a wonderful lady to stay in my house with them and maintain our routine.  Even though she works, she is able to come home at noontime and let Rosie outside, as well as maintaining her morning and evening walks (and sleeping with her at night!). She also sent daily updates, with photos and accounts of whom (Smokey, Paulie, Max, etc) Rosie encountered on their walks.  Needless to say, that made me feel better.  Rosie was ecstatic to see me when I got home, all wiggly and squealy, but none less from the wear!  What a great relief!  She is already booked for my next two trips.
  • And last, but certainly not least, I just bought my ticket to the UK for Katie Wingrove's wedding in August.  I will be visiting Eileen first, which will be fun. I hope to see her quilting group, the boat on which she volunteers, and so on. Then she and I will drive to Bath for the wedding.  From there, I'll have time with the Wingrove family.  Since I'm staying a bit longer than I had originally planned, we're thinking of doing a girls' road/train trip to catch up with other longtime, longtime friends, be forewarded!!!  it should be a festive and happy occasion and I'm looking forward to it all (except the grief I'm likely to get over our man-child president!!).....just joking about that last part.  I'd be disappointed if I didn't get grief over it!
So, that's my good news and I'm looking forward to it all.  As I was writing, my phone rang and I had another uplifting experience.  Upon hearing that I needed coverage to feed feral cats due to my cars problems, a member of the group called and offered me a car to use while I am without.  They have just bought a new car and still have their old one, so they offered me the use of the old one, for which I'm very appreciative. I need to go grocery shopping for a few things and had planned to walk to Kroger tomorrow in the morning before it gets too hot, but now I can use the car.  I doubt that I use it for anything else, but it is good to know I have wheels if anything unexpected beckons.

That about catches you up with me.  
  • Jan will be pleased to know that I had two friends contact me specifically to compliment all of the photos of Seattle!  
  • I continue my Resistance work, though I do have to take breaks from time to time.  My assignment for this afternoon is to compose a fax to all representatives, to be faxed tomorrow.....regarding the heartless budget and healthcare bills, both of which show total contempt for women, the elderly, children, and generally anyone in need.
  • I have one chapter left to finish Dark Money.  If you want to be totally depressed and scared s@#tless, read Dark Money.  The Russians have nothing on the fake news front compared to the infiltration and propaganda, law drafting, network of conservative billionaires.  They probably look at Russian as a handy diversion to allow them to advance their evil deeds.  Anyway, read it!
I hope this finds everyone doing well, and those stateside enjoying a nice Memorial Day weekend.

Gratuitous Rosie clip.  You're welcome!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Time Away

Yes, earlier this month I returned from a week in Seattle visiting Jan, a longtime friend from Saudi days.  It was great to see Jan again and Seattle is such a beautiful city to visit.  The day after I arrived,  we went on at tour of Dunn Gardens, where Jan volunteers.  So, she took Mary Ellen, Katie and me on a private tour.  I had no idea so many things would be in bloom and I'm sorry I can't do justice to the names of all I saw.  All I can say is that the grounds were beautiful.  It is the 7.5 acre estate of Arthur G. Dunn, Sr., who made his fortune in the fish cannery business.  The topography and flora as so different from the east coast and I love experiencing the contrast.  The garden was absolutely beautiful and we finished with a nice lunch.

 The second day we went to Roozengaarde Tulip Fields, which were spectacular.  While the day was a bit overcast, we were lucky the whole week in that it never rained when we were out and about.  The tulip fields were about an hours drive outside the city and well worth the drive.  The colors were almost overwhelming, more than the eye could take in. 

 From there we went to La Conner, a very scenic, little town, for lunch overlooking the river.  We strolled around a bit before heading to Edison, "the center of the world" in the middle of nowhere.  Edward R. Murrow grew up there and it is now a funky little town with an art museum, a great bakery, and several other shops.  It seems it is the town all the techies flock to on weekends for food and fun.
I was surprised to find this quote, which seems to sum up our current political situation, emblazoned on a wall in Edison. Needless to say, Edison is in liberal territory!
Oops! A little snafu!  I get this far in updating the blog and my computer flipped off, goes completely black.  I turn it on again to resume, and it flipped off two more times.  So, I took it to a computer guy, who kept it overnight, did some magic, and it appears to be working better and faster.  He saved all of my documents, photos etc. but he basically wiped it clean and started over, giving me the most current operating system, Microsoft Office program, etc.  So, while it is working much faster and not cutting off, I am having to learn how to retrieve what I want and include it in the new OS. 
Anyway, back to vacation....we also had a day at the Space Needle and surround areas.  As many times as I've visited Jan, I'd never been to the Needle.  We had planned to go last year, but it was under renovation.  This year, we finally made it.  The interesting thing is that the Chihully Garden and Glass Exhibit and the Gates Foundation are all right there, so we went to the Chihully exhibit before lunch and the Gates Foundation.  For some reason, I took no photos at the Gates Foundation, but, needless to say, it was very informative and interactive. The day was also clear, sunny day, which provide a splendid view of Seattle and the restaurant rotated.  A very nice day!

You can tell that we covered a lot of territory in the time I was there, including checking our some of the nicer neighborhoods, browsing two Asian markets, a day of wine tasting in Woodinville, and having dinner with several of Jan's friends. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but it really was a nice break from my overly-political life. Now that I'm back, I hope I can maintain a little more balance!!  Thanks, Jan, for a wonderful, relaxing visit.

I came back to a much busier week than I had anticipated.  It was the following weekend before I could even get my laundry done!  One of my concerns about being away was what to do with Rosie and Mama Mia.  I was lucky to find a wonderful lady who stayed in my house and looked after them.  While she did work, she was able to come home at lunchtime and let Rosie outside for a bit.  She also maintained her morning and evening walks, as well as sending daily updates.  Rosie was very happy to see me, wiggling around and yelping when she saw me, and she seemed to have done well. I'm pleased to have found Janice, as it will free me up a bit to travel.  

Other than that, I've caught up with the Drinking Liberally and canasta groups, had a delightful evening out with friends, and read The Underground Railroad.  

I'm going to have to stop here as my computer has flipped off twice in the process of finishing my update.  So, obviously, it is not repaired.  So, I'll deal with that tomorrow.  In the meantime, I hope this finds you doing well and enjoying each day.......and Happy Mother's day to all you moms out there.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Resistance Report

Sanford Town Hall. Can you spot me?  With friends Rhonda, Melodee & Pilar.
It appears that I missed the whole month of March!  I remember when I posted several times a month, and now I'm struggling.  Not that there isn't a lot going on and even time to post about it, if anything there is too much!  Since this election and the havoc it has created, it is difficult to know which fire to (try) to put out.  Each day has another shoe dropping, so we're fighting issues most important to us, and adding, adding, adding others as they come along.  You can see how quickly it becomes overwhelming.  Since last posting, my schedule has looked something like this:
  • Two Sanford Town Hall Meetings, one in Beaufort and another in Hilton Head.
  • An immigration demonstration (our sheriff wants to voluntarily agree to devote 5 officers to work with ICE in rounding up undocumented immigrants.  Our area depends heavily on immigrant workers and this only causes fear and chaos in their community.  I wonder if they even imagine what our life would be like without them.)
  • Lowcountry Indivisible meeting and responding to frequent Calls to Action
  • Maintianing ties with Lowcountry Suffragettes, Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry, Drinking Liberally and our more casual, monthly Progressive's Lunch - all of which bring different information and outlooks to the table.
  • Almost daily responses to those issues most important to me - by phone or fax
Drinking Liberally Motley Crew

Some interesting resources have sprung up in this tech age:
  • Resistbot is a phone service.  You can text "Resist" to 50409 and they will turn your tests into a fax and send to your Congress people.  
  • Daily Action is another phone service.  Text "Daily" to 228466 and each morning you will receive a political action to perform, along with phone numbers to reach appropriate people
  • 5 Calls is an app at which does the research for each issue, determining which representatives are the most influential for each topic.  They provide phone numbers for those offices, as well as scripts.
  • Countable is a very informative app.  It lets you know what is coming up for a vote in the House and Senate,  It gives pros and cons for each issue and lets you express your opinion.  You  may call or email your representatives directly from the app.
  • My preference is to fax...a real fax.  I can't help but feel that emails and texts can be too easily ignored.  Snail mail is too slow and often phone lines are tied up, but a fax is immediate and they have something in hand, which one hopes is less able to be ignored.  If I develop a good letter, all I have to do is change the name and send to as many people as required.  I've also found an online service that allows you to send two free faxes a day directly from your computer -  I've signed up to be able to send 100 pages for $9.95.  That should hold me for a while!
Anyway, you can see that "the Resistance" is serious and we know it is for the long haul.  It is encouraging to see so many people involved and more politically informed. We felt we played a major part in preventing them from repealing Obamacare and that was encouraging - and, Lord knows, we needed it!

Believe it or not, it hasn't been all politics all the time (though it DOES consume a lot of time). I have tried to have some normalcy in my life.  Ana and I still do our zentangle, though sometimes I don't touch it from one gathering to the next!  I'm (half-heartedly) trying to get back into walking, especially since our weather has been so good.  This has been such a lovely, mild winter that I almost hate to see it begin to warm.  We are now firmly in the 80s, with cool mornings and warm afternoons.  We're enjoying it while we can.  Last summer was the hottest since I've been here and we wonder what lies ahead.
  • My political activities have crossed paths with friends I haven't see in a long time.  I shared lunches with both Pam G. and Debby R, both within the same week.  It was great to catch up and I hope it won't be so long next time.
  • Chris and I went to see Kedi, a delightful movie about the street cats of Istanbul, the lives they lead and the lives they touch.  It was very sweet - and always nice to see Istanbul.
  • Twice Rosie and I have joined my friend, Tippy, for a walk on Dolphin Head Beach, which is more private and less crowded than public beaches.  I was able to let Rosie off the leash, and she loved it!!  She ran and ran and ran.  She was truly happy and free -  so good to see!   The following photo says it all - she was like a baby that just keels over when really tired.  She slept on the way home and was done for the day.  It was also relaxing to me and a nice break from the chaos of life at the moment.
One tired puppy!
Tuesday of last week, my cousin Bill and his wife Betty stopped by on their way home from visiting their son in Florida.  It was great to see them as it had been a while.  Betty had some health issues that kept them sidelined for a while and it's good to see them able to travel again.  That was a good excuse to make a Lemon Blueberry Cake!  Rosie loved the new, unsuspecting targets of affection, and they loved her!  It was a nice visit.

I'm still feeding feral cats and making hospice visits.  I'm getting better at the hospice thing, which takes a little time - to get to know the patient and develop ways of communicating with them.  Unfortunately, two of my original three have passed away, but this week I'll be picking up three new people.  Every visit is different and I just have to go with the flow.  Something as small as a chocolate Easter egg or taking them outside to sit in the sun for a few minutes can make a difference.  I'm still learning and hope to improve.

Well, that catches you up of my crazy life.  I hope all is well with you and that Spring is in the air (except for upside down friends, who may be having fall!!).  Let me hear from you and keep me posted on your doings.  Love to all.

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