Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to have a bad day on a sailboat...Another found post from last year...

That should be the eHow I write after viewing the disasterous results when this sailboat hit the Narrows Bridge over on Tilghman Island. NO - it was not Namaste II. John actually handles his boat quite well, as could be proven when we docked in a slip about 12" deep (that's the beauty of this boat - the engine can be raised and it can go in 12" of water - sweet). Anyway, it was a baaaaaad day for someone.... but a great day for us. Too N2 over to the island last weekend for a few cocktails at a Tiki bar. We just love sitting outside on the water - what a joy.

Our green bean produce count so far....Left over post from 7/2009

One. A single. A lone bean. One green bean - you read that right - 'ONE' green bean. One lonely bean, hanging by its lonesome. The rabbits must have missed it. Sucks. That's $500 a bean at last count.

We've harvested 4 tomatoes so far and, yes, Matee is chewing into one in the photo to the left. Who would ever think that a dog would salivate for a tomato? The little sucker ate the whole thing, except for the skin. She left the skin in pieces on the deck.

Dinner with Gert

Found this post hidden - never published so here 'tis:

John went up to his house in WV tonight, leaving the 'ladies' (there's a reason that's in quote but I'll never tell..) - anyway, he left the 'ladies' on our own. So, off I go for takeout for Gert and me (and the dogs - they always get leftovers). One stop at the sushi bar and one stop at the chinese restaurant later and Gert and I were chowing down on some really good soup and sushi (for me) and an egg roll (for her). Sat in the dining room and had a great evening for an hour and a half or so. These are the BEST times with Mom - sitting alone, just us, talking about the 'good old days.'

Mom told me that she made $5 a day for an 8 hour shift while working in St. Joe when she was 16. Now, by the time I was 15, I was earning a big $1.83/hour (minimum wage back in the day). Robin - still one of my favorite people in the world - was my 'boss' and made, I think, $.50 more an hour - an appreciable markup for, well, telling ME what to do...But, I digress...

We used to have just a ball at the Morningside Cleaners, working evenings after school and Saturdays, during the day. We even had our own groopies. Yes, we had it GOIN' on. And, in looking back, I'm so very glad that my parents instilled a work ethic in me. I took a crummy job at the cleaners and, well, I was to make the best of it. And, I did. Getting up on Saturday morning and going to work at 7 am when the rest of my friends were in bed (Robin included..after all, she was the boss...) set forth my lifelong love of the mornings. To this day, I'm happiest in the morning.

John and I both love the mornings - we get up around 4:30 or 5 am and have time in the hot tub with coffee before Gert starts stirring for the day. I've gotten in the habit of walking Killian early in the am and I think we both appreciate the great start of the day. Not a bad start at all...


Finally, a day with Bon Bons

Anyone who has cared for a child or an elderly parent knows that the old vision of housepeople (they can't be called housewives any longer) sitting on their butts on a cushy sofa while popping Bon Bons is an unattainable dream. Unless, of course, one buys Bon Bons, happens to get a rainy day and something good to watch on TV, and has an elderly parent. I have found Mom's (and Matee's) new favorite treat.

Among Mom's other favorite treats are crabs. Sadly, she gets every single claw so Bobbi and I are usually just handing them over when she looks at us with that hangdoggy look. She doesn't have to say a word as her look does it for her. We've had many nice crab feasts this summer. The picture documenting such here was from August when John and I bought some crabs off a couple of men who were crabbing off the bridge down by John's boat. They were totally delicious. Might have been the best crabs I've ever in my life had.

And, then, there's the many many happy hours spent with John, Bobbi and Mom on the back porch. Plates of cheese, pickles and crackers accompany a glass of sherry for Mom and more substantial beverages for us! Many wonderful times are  had here at this old house with that old lady...

Cheese and crackers keeps her happy too

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More pictures from Key West...

I forgot my gorgeous new Nikon D5000 on the dining room table when I headed to the Keys so was lax in getting pictures. But, the below are a few samplings from phone pics (gotta love those Blackberries) and a few assorted cameras sent around to capture the moments.
One of my favorite ever pics of Sharyn. I'm so grateful for my good friends. And even more grateful that my good friends love each other. Sharyn and John have their own fan club ....
And then there's gorgeo
us Bobbi who I've finally started to listen to..

Key West Weekend!

Well, John and I were at it again - headed down to Key West in August, this time for Bobbi's birthday. Sharyn came along and a spectacular time was had by all. In fact, this may have been the best trip to Key West yet.

It started with John and I picking up Sharyn at the airport just one hour after we arrived. Perfect timing! Loaded up the car and hit the road for what has become one of our favorite rides ever. John and I have a ritual on the ride; we stop at a liquor store right outside Miami for Key West supplies, then head down the road for 70 miles to a favorite bar. This time though, we hit the liquor store and then just beat feet for Key West where Bobbi was waiting.

Of course, no birthday party in Key West is complete without accoutraments such as martini glasses (no, really, martini sunglasses), tiaras (one for each girl and a King hat for the boy), leis, bubbles, and a host of other toys. So, Sharyn, John and I met Bobbi in our party rigalia and the day was ON!

After a quick fresh up at our hotel (marvelous place BTW - Key West Harbor Inn), we waddled over to start our tour. And tour we did! We hit about every bar, laughing like idiots on every street corner. OMG. We had SO much fun. But that ain't nothin...

The next day, John and I decided we wanted to get a boat and go out to the reef. So, after getting more provisions, Sharyn, Bobbi, Skipper John and Mate Lori loaded onto a 23 foot bow runner complete with snorkel gear and a cooler - couldn't ask for more. Well, we could have but it probably would have been illegal. Anyway, off we went to the reef. The boat ride couldn't have been any more wonderful as the seas were as laid down as I've ever seen them.

We moored the boat and hopped in for a nice swim in crystal blue seas of 30 feet. We swam, we partied, we laughed. In all, we spent 4 hours at the reef even though we'd rented the boat for 8 hours.Snorkeled, had cocktails, snorkeled some more. Bobbi, who was to become knows as the official dolphin spotter spotted two beauties about 500 feet off. It was a magnificent moment and my first time seeing wild dolphins. What an awe inspiring experience.

And, this was the FIRST martini!
But, even for us, 8 hours was a long time at the reef so we headed back in early. As we docked the boat, I asked the guy, also John, who rented it to us if I could get a small refund since we weren't out 8 hours. He said 'no' but, instead, he'd give it to us for another day! Holy crap! Really? REALLY! He and John had struck up a conversation earlier as he spotted John's marine tattoo and this guy was also ex marine. There's definitely a brotherhood among marines so John's service to the country netted us a nice benefit (besides freedom, of course...).

So, that night, much merriment was had, many key lime martinis were drunk, and 4 drunks wandered the streets.

The next morning (credit Lori) we borrowed some floating noodles from the hotel pool and loaded the boat up again. Headed out on glass smooth seas to the reef where we mixed up libations, tied the noodles to the boat and hopped in. Bobbi and I were the first 2 in and it was great until we saw the shark...yep, about 14 feet away. A great white, I'm sure. It must have been 10 feet long (read: 3 feet if you stretched it and probably a non-human eating nurse shark) with gaping jaws (it might have been sleeping), steaming right toward Ms. Lowe and me (lazing around the bottom eating sand...). Anyway, Bobbi and I might have won some sort of championship if there was one for getting on a boat the fastest. Now, we left John behind and he was ok with that and, as I recall, even made fun of us until he screamed like a girl when he saw the barracuda. Talk about walking on water. We had a new prophet among us.

My tiara wasn't nearly as nice as Ms. Lowe's but mine lit up!
After a few boatbound coctails, we all got our nerve back and decided that the recipe to not being scared was simply to not look down. Worked like a champ. We had the most amazing time bobbing around the ocean in 30 feet of water, not looking down. I think this second day on the reef was my single best day on vacation ever. And, I mean, ever by a mile! It was just an amazing time. Floating in 85 degree water, surrounded by dolphins swimming, the best of friends and laughter. OMG - did we laugh. I think this was also Bobbi's single most funniest ever. Every thing she said had us all howling. We must have sounded like idiots to the people sandwiched like sardines on the dive boat and we were definitely the people to know in Key West.

On the way back from the reef, we spotted a boat anchored and 3 people standing (STANDING) in ankle deep water, 7 miles off shore from Key West. Well, of course, we had to stand on the sand bar too. What a blast.

One big sangria!
Nightfall found us wandering the streets again but nothing could top the type of day we had. If any readers ever go to Key West and have boating skills, you must take out your own boat. Unlike anything I've ever experienced.

Monday found Sharyn, John and I leaving Key West to wander back up to Ft. Lauderdale. We stayed at Pelican Cove, right on the ocean for the night before loading up for the ride to Ft. Lauderdale in the morning and the flight home.

So, home we came but not without future fun trips to Key West. John and I are headed back to our second home next week for just the weekend and then again in December. 4 trips to Key West a year feels about right (unless we can work 6 in!).

More pics will follow once I weed through my pictures to find them. And,as promised, here's a few links for your reading enjoyment if you choose:

How to save money in Key West, Florida
How to keep your cool in hot weather

New Friends and Hobos...

No, our new friend is not a hobo but you'll see where I'm going

This post is going to be about my new friend, Joan, whom I met, along with other new friend Peggy in Phoenix, on the eHow writing site. Joan, Peggy and I have bonded in a strange internet relationship. We’ve all three spent many hours trying to figure out the algorithm eHow used to pay residuals on articles. Sadly, eHow has shut their imaginary doors, having been absorbed by their parent company, Demand Studios. What this boils down to is that we can’t add to our article library but, thankfully, the eHow Gods have decided that our libraries can remain in space and we still will earn residual income on all of the articles we’ve written.

So, with that nice lead in, here's a link to our profiles so that you can enjoy our musings:

Peggy is way ahead of the pack in monetizing her eHow writings as she now pays the majority of her bills from residuals. I’m ‘raking’ in around $150 a month which, considering I haven’t touched an article on eHow for 3 months, is quite an achievement. Joan is also doing pretty well from residuals on eHow and some other sites. So, I will be using this blog as a way to promote our writings. From here forward, you'll find at least one link which you can click on if you're interested. If not, just skip it!
Ok, I’ve digressed badly…

Anyway, Joan, Peggy and I met when we all frequented the eHow bulletin boards where we, hopefully, would gain more knowledge. Of all of the new acquaintances I’ve met on the computer, these two are the absolute best! Peggy lives outside Phoenix so sure would have been nice to have made the acquaintance while the folks still had a house there. Joan, though, is a scant 2 hours north of Mom and me in Pennsylvania. Both of these ladies check on Gert frequently which tickles Mom to no end.
Last Monday (which is a Monday in August by the time I write this post...), Joan decided to trek down South to Boyds and come meet us. Now, I thought this was a pretty gutsy move, having only ever corresponded on the internet with me. But, she’s as wonderful in person as in air. She walked in the door and immediately bonded with both Mom and me (and later John). She told me privately that she really wanted to meet me but it was Mom who fascinated her the most. I took that as a compliment. 

We spent a wonderful day in the kitchen, snacking, sipping wine for Joan and me, Harvey’s Bristol Cream for Mom. Joan was clearly fascinated by this 93 year old creature who sat between us like we were talking to another friend. Mom was so ‘ON’ it was amazing. I was so thankful that Joan coaxed a few stories from Mom and the below is my favorite (note to readers: here comes the hobo part):

When Mom was growing up in St. Joe, MO, the depression hit. She was only a bit over 12 when times fell really hard on most people. Unemployment ran rampant which was disasterous for people already living below poverty level. Most people had little to share and were, in fact, on the other side of the fence looking for handouts. 

Hobos used to frequent the area as there was (is?) a train that runs through the southside of St. Joe. And,  St. Joe, being right on the rail line had it’s share of hobos. Men and women looking for work, clothes, shelter or food.

As Mom tells the story, there would frequently be a knock on Bubie and Zadie’s door (that’s my grandparents) and, standing there would be a hobo asking for a cup of coffee. He or she was never denied. Not once. In fact, there was a hobo code that the hobos would put on the sidewalk in front of a house or on a fence – anywhere it was visible. The codes were symbols that might mean ‘Nice woman here’ or ‘Nice man here’ or ‘dog barks’, ‘Judge lives here,’ etc. Mom’s house always had an ‘X’ marking the spot – literally. The code of an ‘X’ meant that a traveler could get a meal and, sometimes, a shower and a place to stay.

Mom learned well from her parents as there has never been a time that she didn’t offer a visitor, expected or unexpected, a plate of noches. Sometimes, it was parts of dinner left over (sliced brisket, yum), sometimes it was what she could find in a packed refrigerator. I’ve tried to continue the tradition but frequently have to look to Mom to ask what we have in the house. She still knows.
Gert continues to amaze me, on a daily basis. Her humor is evident frequently but appears, at least to me, to be getting even more ribald. Perhaps this is because Bobbi, John and I bring it out in her. A lot of people would be offended by some of the stuff she comes up with but Bobbi, John and I just lean in closer so we don’t miss any of the jokes. She is a wonderful part of my life.

I know that my Mom is very concerned that she’s a burden in my life but what I can’t seem to get through her head is that the exact opposite is the case - she is my blessing. I continue to learn life’s lessons, particular, I hope, how to age with grace, with humor, and with love. She’s taught me how to deal with what life throws at me, sometimes by dodging, sometimes by calmly walking away, and sometimes barreling back in a head on fashion. 

My mom teaches by example. She’s shown me how to adapt to situations you might find yourself in. Such as the fact that she, being a past non-dog person, is now surrounded by 6 dogs and a cat. She loves those dogs, each and every one – of course, some more than others. She never complains about the dog hair when she climbs out of the truck, instead, she calmly brushes off what she can. She doesn’t complain when there’s no room in her chair for her as Matee and Gizmo have taken over. She just calmly shoos them away so she can settle in. She then taps her lap and, like magic, she’s coated in dog again. And she always laughs and delights in this daily ritual. It always seems to take her by surprise that she’s a favorite of the dogs. But, dogs read people and these dogs know that this is a great person. She’s a wonderful soul who is a delightful addition to my life.

Sure, there are some times when it becomes difficult to be her ‘husband’ as I think that’s what I am. Reflecting back, this makes sense. She spent 65.5 years with Dad by her side. They completed each other sentences. And, now, I do the same for her when words escape her. He filled in the parts of her stories where she faultered and that’s my job now. And, don’t get me wrong – this is a two sided bridge. She’ll still correct facts that I spew out, she still can shoot me a dirty look that quietly (or not) says ‘back off. I’m your mother.’ And, I love those times. She’s dependant upon me but yet, she’s always my mother. And, I hope I can somehow let her know that I treasure that.

Ok, I've been remiss again....

I'm WAY behind in blog posts - summer has been busy and loads of fun so I'll attempt to catch up. Keep an eye on the blog as I try to update with Gert's adventures from, oh, a month ago...

Here they come...