Sunday, June 17, 2018

Eileen's Visit

Eileen arrived on June 2nd and we had a great visit. I was hoping the cooler weather would hold through her visit, but it was not to be. By the time she left, we were firmly in the 90s and this coming week we are moving up to the mid-90s. Summer is here.

For those who have visited, you will remember many of the places we visited:
  • A day on the island and a day in Bluffton, covering thrift shops in both. It was market day in Bluffton, so we browsed around there before checking out the neighborhood . We also had a surprise tour of one of the houses on Calhoun Street that is being renovated. As it turns out, the house is owned by the church beside it and will be a parsonage. The only workman around asked if we'd like to see inside, and it was wonderful. It is near completion and fully furnished. It was so tastefully done in an understated fashion. The interior was in keeping with the exterior, but it was more spacious than expected. Baths, kitchen and laundry room were huge. It was just a real treat to get to walk through it and we were appreciative to be invited to do so. We thanked him as we left and he said he enjoyed working on the project and "I thought you ladies might enjoy seeing it".   
    • We were also pleased with out thrift shop finds. Eileen found some shorts and pants that fit perfectly. I found a great summer jacket/wrap and a purse/backpack. I hadn't checked out the shops in a long time and I definitely know which ones I would visit again. It was fun.
    • We also had a day of local shopping, winding up at Palmetto Bluff in late afternoon
  • We went to the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, which I'd not visited before so it was something new for me, too. Obviously the best time to visit would be the spring, but it was still pretty and we enjoy strolling around and seeing it. I took my new camera and played around with it a bit, with moderate success.
  • Eileen joined me for our monthly Liberal Ladies meeting. She was probably inundated with American politics, but I feel that I have a witness to the insanity that is going on here. She said they weren't hearing half of what is going on. So, while I've always been a bit of a news/politics junkie, she can testify that I haven't completely lost it! For most people here, it is like everything is upside down.
    • That afternoon we went to Bluffton Sunset Party at a local park. The rain held up long enough for us to have a glass of wine and enjoy a little music.
  • We had a day in Beaufort with Melodee, who gave us the grand tour. It was rainy so we didn't get to sit out at Hunting Island or visit the animal farm as we'd hoped, but we saw as much as we could.
    • Another treat was Street Music in Port Royal, which we really didn't get to see, Melodee's friend Julia invited us to join their regular group (liberals) for drinks and snacks before the concert. She had a wonderful screened in porch and it was soothing to listen to the rain on the roof and leaves.....I could have slept there! The people were friendly and jovial; we thoroughly enjoyed it. The music had to be moved inside, so the time for it to start came and went and no one made a move! Now that's the sign of a successful gathering!! We were actually the first to leave as I wanted to drive home in daylight (after lots of rain) and get home in time to take Rosie out.
  • The day after Eileen's arrival and the day before she left were beach days. The first day we just sat out, but the second time we went in, which felt great, though there were no big waves, just swells. It was lots of fun and I don't know why I don't do it more often.
It was a great visit and I hope Eileen enjoyed it. She certainly got to meet lots of my neighbors and friends I mention here frequently. The only mishap was that she lost her camera. Neither of us are sure how it happened and I keep hoping I will just discover it somewhere here in the house. So far, no luck.

Eileen also got to meet my new friend in the neighborhood. Reyna is of Mexican descent and in her early 40s. She has 4 children and cares for two elder people in her home, both of whom she has a longstanding relationship. She also works 2-4 nights per week at Bloom, where my mother was. She is as sweet as can be and I hear from her almost every day, either by text or dropping by for a few minutes during her run. While I am much older than she, I think she is just happy to have someone to talk to, and I'm happy to be that friend. She, Eileen went out for a delicious Mexican dinner one night, which we really enjoyed and I found great Mexican food! We were chatting here one afternoon and I, knowing that she has two sisters here in the area, I asked if they all came together. She said she remembered holding her son in her arms and the bus arriving. She had to give her son to her mother and get on the bus, crying the whole way. At that point, she burst into tears. It took her six years to be able to bring her son here. She came alone and came to this area because she had a name and number of someone who would help. She called the number and there was no answer. She spoke no English and took and job she could, cleaning houses, etc. It just broke our hearts. She has gone through a version of what is happening at our border today except she was able to leave her son with her mother. 

One afternoon she brought her daughters over and it was like Disneyland for Rosie. She didn't know whom to play with first!! The girls are smart and fun to be around....and they get a 'reminder' in Spanish if they get out of hand. I was going to take Reyna and Alex, her son, to vote but Reyna was in bed with strep throat so it was only Alex. So, I feel like I did my part in the primaries and we're lined up for the general election.

Since Eileen's visit, I've resumed my hospice visits and feral cat routines. Janeen and I had lunch last week and plan to see The Book Club this afternoon. Last night I went on island to see a special showing of Notorious RBG by the Democratic Club. It was outstanding. The only problem was that I left home at 6PM for a 7PM start, thinking I would get there in time for easy parking and might even have time for a quick browse through Chico's. Not to be! Traffic was backed up way before the bridge, then again at the toll booths on the cross island parkway and then again at the traffic circle. I actually parked (after trolling the parking lot 3 times) at 7PM. Note to self: NEVER go on island on Saturday evening during the summer!!

I've also volunteered to work for Joe Cunningham, Democrat running for Congress. Sanford is already out...yippee! Now we just have to be sure he is replaced by a Democrat!! I've volunteered to help  with set up and clean up at a fundraiser here in Bluffton.

Let me share a political experience I had this week: I was so tickled off and appalled at the atrocities happening at the border that I decided to call Ryan and McConnell's DC officer. Ryan was called first and I was given 5 options to listen to Speaker Ryan's views on various issues. Option 6 was to leave a about 15 seconds. I had hardly given my name and location when my time was up. Then I was given the option to review, delete or re-record my message. You can imagine the message he got at that point!  McConnell office just had a message that due to the excessive number of calls they were unable to take me call......not even an option to leave a voice message!!  That is our government. On Monday they can expect a fax, where I will have lots of space to express my views!  Resist. Persist.

My only other realization is that I'm going to have to be mean to myself. I'm either going to have to lose some weight or buy new clothes, which I refuse to do. I officially have a fully inflated spare time, which I can't ignore because my arms keep nudging it!! Not a happy thought!!

Friday, May 18, 2018

May in the Lowcountry

It's a dark, drizzly day here so I'm using it to catch up on long overdue emails, update this and just generally try to get caught up. It was suppose to rain most of the week, and I had made my peace with that, but we haven't gotten as much as expected, and we really do need it. Yards are suffering and lagoons are way down, so I hope we get more.

My major accomplishment is that I've finished our vacation video after three revisions. After I posted the original, I knew there were things I wanted to re-visit and I also received some wonderful shots from real photographers who were with us, people with real cameras! Then, I was sitting outside with Rosie one Friday and Tippy, who went with me, called to say that she had friends in town and they had decided to have pizza and watch the video that evening. She asked if I wanted to come over, which I did. By the time I got there, neighbors had joined the party so we declared it the Lowcountry Premier!! Everyone seemed to enjoy it but thought I should slow it down a bit (though I was trying to keep it short so as not to become boring). Anyway, I slowed it a little, included the great photos, as well as a video of the staff saying goodbye to us at Mbugani Camp, and a surprise bonus at the end. It is now 25 minutes long, but shorter if you don't watch the bonus.....but I think you will want to see and hear it! Anyway, I could work on it forever but this is officially the final copy! When you have the time, you can see it here:
So, pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy! Both Tippy and I continue to marvel at the awesomeness of it all!

One advantage of fiddling with the video much longer than I should is that it took my mind off politics and the misery many of us feel. That proved to be temporary!! One week I went to Drinking Liberally on Wednesday, Surf the Blue Wave Rally on Thursday, and Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry on Friday!! The Africa trip was a wonderful escape on so many levels, but with all the heinous crap happening on a daily basis, it's difficult to pull back. I am thankful for having liberal friends with whom to commiserate and vent, otherwise it would be unbearable!

Tippy, Kieran and I went to the Bluffton Mayfest last weekend. I had not been in years and really had no plans to go until Tippy texted. I was so conflicted and couldn't make up my mind, finally asking her to text again when they were leaving home. I ultimately decided to join them and am glad I did. The fairs are all  much the same, but we enjoyed it and had a fun time.....and a nice lunch! I've asked them to put the Bluffton Christmas Parade on their calendar as it is always quirky and fun......and I also haven't been in ages, so it's time to go again!

Am looking forward to a visit from Eileen in early June. I'm doing a little cooking and freezing, as well as keeping a list of whatever is happening during her stay, so we can take it easy and enjoy ourselves.The weather is not yet too hot and I'm hoping it lasts through her visit. Eileen will just need to brace herself for all the loving she's going to get from Rosie!!

Speaking of Rosie....I bought her a little cooling vest for the heat of summer. 
I know! Don't say it......BUT, with her short legs, she gets the heat from the sidewalk....and won't walk on the grass (which is for pooping!). She is also black on top and has very compact hair!! I think the vest will work if I can get her accustomed to it. I moisten it with cool water and wring it out well.  It does keep her body cool, but she has been cutting our walks short when wearing it. I'm hoping that in the real heat of summer she will appreciate it. You can tell by her stance and ears that she isn't a happy camper!

Was just reminded of this boy in the top photo who was found by one of the ladies (Dawn) who saved Rosie. His name is Reeve and his story is different in that his injuries happened a while back and has begun healing incorrectly. Dawn is trying to raise money for his care and recalled Rosie's story on Facebook. She posted these photos,  which reminded me of how hurt and frightened Rosie (Baby Ruth then) was. Look at that sad, pained face and those akimbo ears! But look at her now!!! I do hope sweet Reeve has the same results. He certainly has the right people on his team! He has had two surgeries and things are looking better. Think good thoughts for him.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Getting Back to Real Life

It has taken awhile, but I'm slowly coming back to reality after our fabulous trip. Believe me, I really resisted!!  Every time Tippy and I get together we talk about it and recall our favorite moments. Needless to say, it has really given me the travel bug.

I was nudged our of my reverie by the March for Our Lives on March 24. Surprisingly, for South Carolina, about 400-500 people showed up. The students did a great job and the older attendees were very supportive of them. As you can see, the march was quite impressive (for this area) and we got a lot of honks from passing traffic. In addition to it being a beautiful day, it was uplifting. The couple in the last photo are Lynn and Tom, my neighbors and parents of Rosie's favorite friend Bogie. Lynn and I were polite dog walkers who only knew our dogs' names until we ran into each other at a Liberal Ladies Cocktail Party. The exchange was, "Rosie's mom!!" - "Bogie's Mom!!" We then introduced ourselves and have become friends. I enjoy running into them on our walk so we can talk all things liberal!

The march kind of got me back into the swing, but I didn't get serious until several weekends ago when I spent a Sunday afternoon crafting a fax to all my congressmen. By Wednesday I had gotten a call from Sanford's office and a email from I guess I'm back into the Resistance!

On the Saturday of Easter weekend I drove up to NC and back for the funeral of my cousin. She was always a kind soul and sometimes when my mother was having sun-downers, she would think I was "Sister", which is what everyone called her. I think I was a teenager before I ever knew what her real name was - Mary Elizabeth. I had planned to stay overnight but the cousin I was to stay with also became ill. It worked out well anyway. I got to see lots of cousins, check on the one that was ill, and get home before dark. On Sunday I never got out of my PJs. Rosie had to make do with backyard time!

At the end of that week,, I had lunch with Chris (whom some of you have met) and had a new friend Sally (from Drinking Liberally) over to see my Africa photos, which gave me an excuse to see them again! She is seriously considering a trip and I thought we could talk about it, answer questions, and so on. I also shared Erich's website - - with her. He is a serious photographer and his shots more reflect the awesomeness, beauty and spirit of the area. She was blown away by his photos and I think they clinched it for her.

The following week, Melodee and I went to see the Goodbye Girls at the Savannah Music Festival. They are a very good bluegrass band from Boston. It's members are from the US, Canada and Sweden, which I find interesting and unusual The guitarists was the first woman to win the IBMA (no idea what that is) Guitarist of the Year in 2017. I mention that only to confirm that they knew what they were doing and the music was good. The room was very charming and intimate. Tables in front of the stage, rows of seats behind the tables, and high tables surrounding everything. We got a high table with an open view, which was nice. After the show we had a late lunch at the Fox and Fig, which we both enjoyed. The weather was perfect so it made for a very nice afternoon.

Not to skip over the crappy part of life - for about a week I had wax impacted in my ear, BECAUSE I did exactly what you're not supposed to do - I used a Q-tip! I was fully aware of the moment I lost the hearing in that ear!  I spent days trying to dislodge it with OTC drops, peroxide, etc. Nothing! So, finally went to the doctor on Tuesday. They flushed it and flushed it but still couldn't get all of it out. Then they moved to a glass-looking probe with a light on the end (pretty cool). That was not pleasant. By that time, my ear was bleeding, so they stopped with that. Not everything was removed but I have most of my hearing back. She prescribed drops, which my drug plan won't cover! Still working on all of that.

File this under Quirky! I was making toast one morning this week and opening a new loaf of bread. When I took out the heel, I noticed that it looked pinched together. I kind of pulled it apart a little and realized I was looking at toothprints - someone had opened the loaf and taken a huge bite out of it!!  I almost threw it away and used the next slice when I thought that if someone had done that, who knows what else they did to the loaf. So, I took it back to the grocery store as I thought they should know.. I always wondered why some breads were double-wrapped. Well, now I know!!  Be aware of those weird people in the bread aisle!!

I've also volunteered to do the newsletter for Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry, along with another lady. Lynn, my neighbor mentioned above and next year's chairperson of the group, sent out an email asking for volunteers before our trip. I sent a short email saying that if no one volunteered by the time I got back, I would do it. Someone else did volunteer, but I'm still in the mix as they thought it good to have backups. The newsletter was one thing I liked when I was at the synagogue, but this I can do at home in my PJs without having to keep other balls in the air. Am hoping it will be fun!

While there is nothing exciting on my agenda, there is something fun to anticipate. Eileen is coming for a visit in early June. It will be good to catch up and I'm sure we can find things to keep us busy.  Miss Rosie is delighted!!

Some of the serious photographers on our trip inspired me to be better prepared for my next, I bought a new camera. It is very similar to one Jane had on our trip. Some of them had lenses as long as my arm, but her camera was lightweight and not a lot bulkier that my point and shoot; however, it had a great zoom lens. She got a terrific shot of a leopard sleeping on a rock when I could only get the fact that something was on the rock!!  Anyway, I've been playing with that and plan to join the photography club. The zoom is definitely tricky!!

And, of course, Miss Rosie is a constant model, though you might gather from some expressions that she isn't fully delighted about it!!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Wonderful Trip to Kenya and Tanzania

Tippy and I have been home long enough to be back to our usual sleeping patterns and other routines.  We went to a March for Our LIves rally today and discovered that we both have spent a lot of time working on photos and thinking back over the trip....and realizing just how wonderful it was. We each had expectations of what we would see and how our time would be spent, but it exceeded anything we could have imagined. Our first really moving moment came in Amboseli when we looked over a large plain full of animals - zebras, elephants, wildebeest, baboons, etc. - and it was totally quiet and peaceful! The silence spread to our group. We took photos and then just stood and absorbed it all. It was a peace and a beauty beyond description, and it was the beginning of more magic moments to come. There were parades of elephants passing by at their unhurried pace and almost close enough to touch. There were pools of hippos (70+), playing and lounging. There were groups (Congresses!) of baboons busy grooming, frolicking, and cavorting!  There were the indomitable warthogs, who had more personality than we ever expected and made us smile with delight.There was time at the Giraffe Center where we could feed them, touch them, and feel small in their presence. This center is devoted to saving the Rothschild giraffes, who were almost brought to extinction by Edi Amin, who used them for target practice! 

Each day we usually had one long game drive or two shorter ones  Invariably, at dinner someone would say some version of "this has to be the high point. It can't get much better than this". Then we would go out the next day and be wowed again!  We saw all of the animals you would expect, but we also saw many we had never heard of, as well as many species of colorful birds! As if that isn't enough, one evening we were having dinner and three giraffes come wandering down the hill toward our camp!  It can't get any better than that! In addition to animal viewing, we also spent a morning in a Maasai village. They dressed us in their clothing, We danced with them. We helped cover a house with cow dung - yes, dung! We talked privately with the women and they had very pointed questions! We visited their school and were impressed with their students. We then visited the Hadzabe Bushmen, who are hunters and gathers and live as they did 10,000 years ago. While we were there, a hunter came in with a beautiful, bird on an arrow.  He took the bird off the arrow, bit the bird in the neck (why? I don't know - I thought he was going to bite the head off!!), and threw it in the fire. The bird writhed around, so he took it out of the fire and thwacked it three times on the ground! End of bird! They cooked it and offered us some. Only one person took them up on it. They then showed us how to use the bow and arrow. They played their musical instrument and we joined them in a dance. As we were leaving their camp, we ran into a hunting party and stopped to visit with them.  They were near a huge baobab tree, which they climbed and got done into.....and totally disappeared. They, too, sang a song, which seems to be a welcoming and joyous part of their culture.

Our accommodations were great, as was the food! Each successive lodging was better than the last, and the staff at the Mbugani Camp won our hearts. When we left, they came out and did a wonderful farewell song. One of our fellow travelers recorded it but, when I downloaded it, the audio was missing. I would like to have it as a culminating memory. They were wonderful! Being vegetarian, I though I might be spending the trip eating baked potatoes and salad. Boy, was I wrong! There were usually 2 protein entrees (beef, chicken, fish, lamb) and then 3-4 vegetarian casseroles, plus salads, etc. I had NO problem finding delicious food.

The only unfortunate thing was that I came down with a cold on the second day of our trip. I didn't miss anything during the day, but at the end of the day I was exhausted. I also coughed a lot at night and I know it was a pain for Tippy. I had taken some cold meds with me but I went through them quickly. Members of our group where great to share and help when they could. About 5 or 6 days in, I had a coughing episode at night, finding it difficult to catch my breath. Then I heard a voice from the next tent say....."I have NyQuil!". Lucy brought it over and it got me through the night. That was the breaking point for the cold and I referred to is as the exorcism!! From that point on, I felt better and better.

Both Tippy and I agreed that there is no way we can adequately describe our experience, but I hope my slideshow will convey it in some way. Personally, I feel very fortunate to have taken three trips since last August, with each of them being special in their own way. My trip to the UK for Katie and Adrian's wedding was special because of the many long-time friends I was able to see.  Panama was fun and informative as far as my consideration of leaving the US. And this trip was so very different, positive, inspiring and close to nature. The benefit is best illustrated by my physical! This past Tuesday I went for my physical and my blood pressure was the best it's been in years - 116 over 60! and I thought to myself, "Yep, a three week vacation in Africa (away from the chaos of our life and lifestyle) is the key"!

I hope my slideshow will express some of the delight and pleasure of this trip. I know I will think of other things I should have shared, and I welcome comments or questions.....but it really is difficult to express the wonder of it all. I apologize in advance for the length of the video (15 minutes), but that is one minute for every day we were there.....all we saw and all we did!! I hope you enjoy it.

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.