Sunday, August 28, 2011

Getting My Groove Back....

It's difficult to return from the carefree life of vacation and get back into the routine of daily life.  My first few days were spent unpacking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, cooking.......getting the basics done.  I had to kind of get myself together for my friend Elaine's birthday gathering on Saturday (Elaine is seated, middle).  It was a "tea" so everyone showed up in hats, gloves, etc.....or not!  You can see by the photo that there were all degrees of variation.  My only hat was a straw one that I bought in Turkey.......and that had fallen in the water and was retrieved by our boat captain.  My intention was to get a colorful flower to add to it, but I didn't get around to it; so, I put it in the car to see if people were really going to show up in hats!  Since many of them did (even cowboy hats!), I plopped it on and in I went.  It was a fun gathering of many friends from my synagogue days and I really enjoyed it.......and it was nice to see ladies in hats!

It took about 3-4 days to get back to my walking, but I'm into again.  It seems to have cooled a little, but I still have to do it in the mornings.  Yesterday was a very interesting day to walk as we were anticipating Hurricane Irene.  It was cooler and there were occasional gusts of wind.  The sky was very active, with clouds passing by at record speed.....even I could tell that something was brewing.  It was like being in the center of a rotation marble. The following photos (by Roddy Medders) were taken off Facebook and show the beauty and drama of what was happening.....keep in mind that the sky looked like this here, where nothing happened.  It's hard to imagine what it looked like closer to the eye of the storm.

Luckily for us, that was as exciting as it got. Yesterday vacillated between sunny and overcast skies, with occasional gusts of wind. It began to rain around 4PM, but it lasted only a short while. Around dusk it rained again, and that was it. I thought it would probably rain sporatically through the night, but it didn't. Today was warm and sunny with blue skies and white, puffy clouds. We dodged another one....and for that we're very thankful.

My volunteer time at Palmetto Animal League has also resumed and a lot happened in my absence, which I was pretty much able to keep in touch with through Facebook.  I've updated the PAL page on this site, so animal lovers (or those who just like adorable photos!) should check it out to keep abreast of the activity.  I continue to enjoy my time there and love being with the animals and animal's a good thing!

Other than that, things have been pretty normal......shampooing carpets, tasting wine at my local shop, searching for my checkbook......yes, it seems that another senior lapse has occurred.  I have no idea what has happened to it (or how long it has been missing) but, since no unusual checks have been written to my account, I assume I've "misplaced" it.  I've looked in all of the usual places and as many of the unusual places as seem plausable, all to no avail.  I'm giving it until Monday to show up and will then contact the bank......and cede defeat!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Vacation Comes to an End

Yes, I'm home again after a terrific vacation.  It was wonderful to get away for a while and see something completely new and different.  As you have come to expect, there are lots of photos, as we were busy each and every day.  From time to time Jan and I would apologize to the other for the "pace" but, when all is said and done, we both hung in there pretty well.  We saw so much that I decided to write a somewhat detailed account (including links to sites, restaurants, etc.), which can be found HERE, and to only cover the highlights in this blog.  To cover both the photos and the write up in one visit might be too much......

Two of the major events were planned in advanced and they turned out to be as much fun as we had hoped.
  • The first was to see an operatic production of Porgy and Bess at the Seattle Center.  Neither of us profess to be opera buffs but it was great to see such a professional production of a folk opera with which we were familiar.  It was 3-1/2 hours long, which would take some getting used to, and we both commented on how difficult it would be to sit through a production of that length being performed in another language (although every effort was made to help follow the story line).  It would definitely be an acquired taste, but we did enjoy seeing this one, which was set in the Lowcountry.  I'm always amazed by the mechanics of the scenery, and this was no exception. 
  • Our second preplanned outing was a day trip to Victoria, British Columbia.  We took the fast boat (Victoria Clipper), which took about 2-1/2 hours and was as quiet and smooth as could be.  It was well organized and by the time we arrived, we had booked a tour of Butchart Gardens, which allowed us to walk right off the boat onto the tour bus.  The city tour (and our guide) was great, but the gardens were beyond really will have to see the photos, which do not do justice to them.  There were rose gardens, Italian gardens, Japanese gardens and, my favorite, the Sunken garden.  It was really more than the eyes could take in.  Our time there went much too quickly.  We finished our tour and went back into Victoria for a walk-around, stopping in the Bengal Lounge at the Empress Hotel.  From there we went to the Parliament building, only to discover they were giving free tours of the building.  It was lovely inside and we enjoyed the impromptu tour.  From there we wondered back to the boat.  Unfortunately, this was that day of the trip that most travelers experience......the one where you totally zonk out and can't carry on!  On the trip back, I could hardly hold my head up or keep my eyes open.  Since much of the trip back was in the dark, I used that an excuse to let it happen.  It was a late night, but the next morning we were ready to go again.
Other than those events, all other activities were played by ear, depending on the weather, how we felt, etc.  On most days we were out by 10-10:30AM.   I truly enjoyed all of the greenery, the many shades of green that served as a perfect backdrop for all of the colorful flowers.  Even flying in, one is impressed with the amount of greenery throughout the city.  I had no idea I would be there at such a spectacular time.  Everything from Jan's back yard, to the many park, to most homes had something in was just spectacular!  AND, we had good weather!  Jan wanted me to be sure to mention that we had NO rain for the whole week.  It usually got up to the mid-70s by the afternoon.  While I found it a bit cool, it was mostly because we have been soooo hot.....and my planning could have been better, but with a few adjustments I was fine.

Another constant pleasure was the diversity and quality of the food, everything from the sweet, fresh berries we had every morning to the ethnic restaurants for lunch or dinner.  It was great!  I requested one meal at a real vegetarian restaurant and we went to Cafe Floria, which is a well known, longstanding veggie restaurant it the area.  The food was diverse, tasty and very attractively presented.  We also had Indian food (several times), Vietnamese food, as well as American fare.  All of it was outstanding and I loved the diversity.

There was so much to see and we covered as much as we could. Our first stop was Woodinville and the wine area, where we toured the beautiful grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle.  It was there that I ran into the couple I sat with on the plane from Houston to Seattle......who would ever expect that!  I also enjoyed the Ballard locks and fish ladder,our day in La Connor (beautiful little town in the farming area of Skagit Valley) and afternoon in Kirkland, Kerry Park and Parsons Gardens, the Japanese Tea Garden, and so much more. A fun day was downtown where we took a tour on "The Duck", which travels on land and in the water.  They were actually re-purposed landing craft from WWII. So, we had a rowdy land tour, with music blasting and passengers singing and "discoing".....and then drove directly into Lake Union for a tour from that vantage point.  Then, back on land to continue the tour.  It was great.  That afternoon also included Pike Place Market, a panoramic view from the Columbia Tower and a walk-through of the very modern central library.   I know I'm forgetting something, but it was all fun and enjoyable......and we only scratched the surface.

And last but certainly not least, was time with Jan, a long-time friend.  Friends with whom you have a history and lots in common are a real treasure and, once together again, the years of separation seem to melt away.  Our early evenings and leisurely lunches and dinners provided lots of time to catch up and solve the problems of the world.  Thanks also go to new friends, Katie and Frank, who had us for dinner on the night of my arrival.  I met them when they and Jan were in Savannah in March and it was nice of them to start my visit in such a nice way. It's always fun to get together with friends, old and new.  It was a fantastic break for me and Jan was the perfect hostess. I hope she will let me return the hospitality soon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Quick Update Before Leaving Again

Wanda, Mama and Me
There must be more to report, but I'm just back from North Carolina, where we had a very enjoyable weekend.  I planned to go up for the wedding of my cousin Wanda's son.  Wanda was the only girl in a family of three brothers.  Her mother and my mother were very good friends, so we really wanted to support Wanda when her only child, Casey, got married.  Wanda's mother died of a heart attack several ( time flies!) years ago....and my mother found her.  They had planned to go somewhere together and when my mother went by to pick her up, she found her dead outside, near the garage.  Wanda has always thought a lot of my mother and, when we arrived for the wedding, she asked if Mama would act as the "grandmother" of the groom, being ushered down the aisle and seated before the Mother of the Bride.  Needless to say, my mother was touched and pleased.  It was a very sweet thing for Wanda and Casey to do and it made our day.  Mama was escorted to her seat, walking a pace I didn't think possible; but it was the symbolism that meant so much to her and got her going.  It was nice to see.

Wanda, Mama, Casey and Hannah
Casey is just out of high school and, of course, everyone is hoping all goes well.  The impressive thing is that his father was out of the picture pretty early and Wanda, who is very shy and reserved, did an absolutely wonderful job with him.  They spent one Christmas with us and it was wonderful to see their relationship and how well behaved Casey was, even as a child.  Wanda said he has always been rather serious and thoughtful; so, while a marriage at this age makes the older ones of us cringe, we know that he goes into it with thoughtful and good intentions.  My theory is that it's a crap shoot no matter what, so they stand as good a chance as anyone!  We certainly wish them well.

Anyway, after the wedding we went to the reception, where we saw other relatives we hadn't seen in a while.  It was great fun.  We got home late, way past Mama's bedtime, but neither of us complained.

Judge Matthew J. Perry, Jr
On the four hour drive up, I heard a fantastic program on NPR about Judge Matthew J. Perry, Jr.   Sadly, I had never heard of Judge Perry and his biography was given before his funeral on Saturday in Columbia, SC.  As it turns out, he was the first black appointed to the federal courts.....and he was nominated by Strom Thurmond!!  Who would had thought??  NPR carried his complete funeral service, including many powerful reminiscences, and a wonderful rendition of "God Is" by a local choir.  It was preceded by a 2001  interview on Walter Edgar's Journal (a SC historian).  The one hour interview can be heard HERE: Walter Edgar's Journal..  It's a long interview but it's so enlightening, especially about the civil right's movement and that time period.  He also has such a strong, melodious voice with a genteel, Southern accent......for me, it was a pleasure to listen.  If it's your cup of tea, I hope you enjoy!  I found it inspiring.

In two days, I'm off to the land of Chateau Ste. Michelle winery and my friend Jan.  While I feel I haven't had much time to prepare or plan for it, I'm looking forward to getting away, especially from the heat, and seeing something new.  I've visited Jan in Seattle before, but it's been so long ago that it will all seem new again.  My lack of planning has not deterred Jan....she has some really fun things the point of making me feel guilty. She's sent lists of activities, restaurants, etc......all of which whet my appetite and excitement.  Coming from this quiet little hamlet, I know there will be more to do than we can possibly cover.  It should be a good mixture of activity and catching up......I'm really looking forward to it.

So, it will be at least a week before you hear from me again.  I'm hoping all is well with you and that, in the intervening time, you have as much fun as I plan to have.

Take care....and keep in touch.

Rich Text