Saturday, June 30, 2007


We're home, and really tired. The drive was uneventful, but I did a really dumb thing. I rode part of the way with Margaret, and I left my inside glasses in her car. They're relatively new, and I can't find the old ones anywhere. Needless to say, frustration is running very high around here tonight. I do have my Rx sunglasses, so am wearing them. We'll be going to her house next weekend, but I really don't want to wait that long. If she overnights them Monday, I should get them on Tuesday. Phooey!!!!!!!

The traffic was really heavy in both directions today, but no hold-ups in the north-bound lanes. And, HOORAY, we had had 0.75" of rain this afternoon before we got home. We had a power blip (the clocks were flashing), and a neighbor had a Bradford pear tree split. No problem here, though.

This was a great week - it's always such fun to get together with the family and friends. We are really tired, though. We've heard from nearly everybody, that all have gotten home safely.

Today's picture is of dune fences in the late afternoon.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Moon and gumbo make it perfect

Today was our last full day here. We got in our morning and afternoon swims. The water has just been amazing this week. Today, if anything, it was too calm and too warm. We did get to see more dolphins, fish, seagulls, and pelicans. And the almost-full moon was gorgeous as it came up. All the cameras came out.

Today is Renee's birthday, and we managed to get a sign up and a cake for her as a surprise.

Supper tonight was our usual finale! Anne makes a roux at home and brings it with her. They also stop in Louisiana and get some boudin. We save any left-over seafood throughout the week, and it all goes together to make her wonderful gumbo. Wow, was it good!

After supper, it was time to start gathering stuff. We each have to pack up our own stuff, get the last load of laundry done, the last load in the dishwasher. It's time to divide up the books that came for the book exchange. Jean gave away a lot of her pottery; Margaret passed out her canned goods; just the usual chaos. Now there are lots of piles of stuff in the halls, waiting to be loaded into the cars in the morning.

The South Carolina crowd is going to get the earliest start tomorrow, and the rest of us will head out in waves - north and west. It'll be a long day's travel for everybody.

Today's picture is one of John's of the moon over Fort Morgan.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Almost perfect water

The water today probably should be outlawed - it was just about perfect. Jean tangled some with a jellyfish, but it's okay now. I guess the water could be better in the Caribbean or the Pacific Islands. But the water here, this week, would be mighty tough to beat.

The reservations have been made for next year, so vacation plans can be made.
We're starting to work on finishing up the food. Tonight's menu was a repeat of yesterday's (isn't that a shame!). We never did get crabs again. The fishmonger told Sue that the boatman said it wasn't worth his time and cost of gasoline to go out for crabs. 8^( Tomorrow night is gumbo night. Anne makes a roux to bring with her, and makes a gumbo out of all the leftovers. It's always a highlight of the week.

This is such a great group of folks. It's been fun having some new folks here, especially the new family-member-to-be, Amanda. Dennis and Lisa left about noon.

No Mexican Train tonight, but some played Jenga. Margaret and Amanda worked on the wedding invitation list - all these social questions about how to address things - to say nothing of trying to guess who will be likely to show up. This is a whole new experience for all of us. The bridesmaids' dresses are a dark red, so all colors will have to be chosen around that.

Today's picture is from our deck, looking west along the beach.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Molars and mudbugs

The water was gorgeous this morning - lovely greens and blues, a nice temperature, and just enough movement and swells that we had to keep moving just to stay still. Good exercise - at least that's what I keep telling myself.

I called early this morning, and got in to see a local dentist this afternoon. He was very nice, and said there had probably been an inlay there (boo hoo - I swallowed or spit out a piece of gold), and the edge broke off. Anyhow, he said it will probably need a crown. We opted for a temporary fix until I could see my dentist at home, and he ground down the rough edges. As the fates would have it, my home dentist had returned my call while I was in the chair, so I've called them back and have an appointment on 9 July to get started with a crown.
Lots of folks went into Gulf Shores to go to Souvenir City. Just the obligatory visit to look at all the tacky stuff. And, of course, I got a new flamingo - a lovely(?) piece with a flamingo lolling in a martini glass. No new earrings, though - they said they couldn't find any tacky enough.
The grocery shoppers brought back more shrimp, some flounder, and a surprise - a big bag of Cajun steamed crawfish. What a nice addition to dinner that was! Plus fresh, frozen corn and cheese grits. Wanda had to leave this afternoon, but left us with her wonderful frozen lemon dessert.
The Mexican Train game ended a bit earlier tonight. Jean won this time. That really is a good game for a bunch of people. We'll have to work Matt in sometime.

Today's picture is of dune fencing in the early morning sunshine.

Tuesday's entry on Wednesday morning

The Mexican Train game got so hot and heavy last night, and ran so late, that I didn't get my entry written Tuesday night. So here I am, early on Wednesday morning, writing for yesterday. The only other folks awake are out walking on the beach.

That's the routine...early birds get up, turn the coffee on and grab a cup, then head out to walk. The non-walkers sleep later then hold down the chairs on the deck until the breakfast cooks get back. NOBODY sleeps once the bacon starts cooking.

Did you know that every set of Mexican Train dominoes has a different set of rules? A number of folks here have played before, and none of them have played with the exact rules that our set has. Many of us were on the laptops looking for "THE" set of rules yesterday afternoon. And, ya know what? There isn't one! They even tried looking for "tournament" rules, but to no avail. The players finally sat down and agreed on a menu of rules. You know how it works: one from Column A, one from column B, etc. Anyhow, it's a good game for up to 8 players.

A piece broke off one of my teeth yesterday. It didn't expose nerve, but the rough edge is irritating my tongue, so I'll be hunting for a dentist this morning to do something to cover it until I can see my dentist at home.

My friend who's had breast cancer diagnosed and is still in the testing phase prior to lumpectomy or mastectomy finally got some good news. Her multiple scans and MRIs yesterday did not find the additional suspicious places that they thought would show up. She hasn't talked to the surgeon yet, but is more optimistic since this whole process started.

Today's picture is of the important people - the Breakfast Cooks.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Rain and sunshine.

We had a lot of lightning, thunder, and rain during the night. This morning, it was cloudy and drab, but still warm, and the water was lovely. By noon the sun had come out, and the water was a lovely color. There was lots of seaweed pieces, but no jellies that I noticed.

Folks were coming and going all day long - to the grocery store, to the Estuarium on Dauphin Island, to Souvenir City. John and I just stay put. About midafternoon, Allan and Renee got here, from NYC via Birmingham. There's great hilarity and lots of hot air (from the talking and the BS flying around) all the time. The noise level does get high at times. We even got to talk to Alison tonight.

The cocktail hour featured John B's margaritas. For dinner, we had shrimp (boiled, pickled, and ceviche), poached fish (grouper and flounder), green beans, and the ubiquitous tomato pie.
I got a call this morning from my friend with bad news - her sister had died, after having been diagnosed with Wegener's disease several weeks ago. Our hearts do go out to her and her family.
Today's picture is a closeup of the beach sitters.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Food, food, food

More troops came wandering in today - DJ & Lisa from Delaware and Wanda from TN. The last two (as far as I know) come tomorrow from NYC by way of Birmingham.

Margaret and Kate fixed us our wonderful breakfast. We went in the water this morning, and it was lovely. Just the right temperature (about the temp of the lap pool at the Y) and clear as a bell. Nick tangled with a jellyfish this afternoon, but benadryl, some vinegar, a shower, and some cortisone cream seemed to fix the problem.

More cooking done during the day. I made Pat Conroy's Pickled Shrimp last night for supper tonight. This morning, I made the tomato pie, and Tom's shrimp ceviche (for supper tomorrow). The pickled shrimp was good - not a universal success, but it'll probably get made again. Margaret made a blueberry pie and a peach cobbler (blueberries from her freezer and peaches from Clanton, Chilton CO, AL. Yum! As I said, this week will be a lot about food.

The "girls" had fun looking at photos of Amanda's wedding dress and the bridesmaids' dresses. The dresses are going to be a clear dark red (garnet? ruby?)

Let's see, other than eating, preparing food, buying food, talking about food, what else did we do? Lots and lots of talking and laughing and reading. Games, too - Jenga, RumiKub, dominoes. We haven't played Mexican Train yet, but that'll happen. There were even a few naps.

The TV has not been turned on on our side of the house. Explanation: we rent both sides of a duplex, with an adjoining door. When the grands were little, all folks with small children stayed on one side, and those without stayed on the other - and all the cooking and eating happened on the "adult" side. It still sort of divides up that way. The "kid" side has had the TV on and watched some movies, but not even the Weather Channel on this side. Amazing.

Today's picture is the usual afternoon sight from the deck of the house.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Crab & shrimp

It was a long drive today - and the last part took much longer than usual. All the rentals here start and end on Saturday, so the congestion is incredible. We've found back roads to take around some of the worst parts of it, but still have to get back into the mainstream. And it's SO slow. Oh, well - we're here, and we can hear the ocean, and the breeze is lovely. Some went in the water, but most of us had to work at putting stuff up and getting to the groceries.

John and I cleaned the crabs and got them cooked and onto ice. Then we boiled the shrimp and put them on ice. Blue cheese dressing, chili con queso, lemon/butter sauce, and red sauce. Cut up the veggies and we're ready to eat! By the time today's arrivals got here, it was nearly 7, so we had a late dinner.

We had enough shrimp left over that I mixed up the stuff to make Pat Conroy's pickled shrimp. We'll see how that goes over tomorrow.

You've figured out what we do at the beach - we eat, and when we're not eating, we talk about food, or prepare food. And we do love the shrimp and crabs.
It is so good to see all the family and our good friends again. It's been a long day, and I'm really tired.
Today's picture is of the sunflower. Tomorrow will be a beach picture for sure.


Sorry to be late tonight. Today was a long day. Swimming, painting, then home to start the wash.

The Studio 2 Open House was this afternoon, so I went back to the Studio to help out. It was a chance for Vicki to introduce her studio, her students, and herself to the neighborhood and the art community of the Southside. Student work was hung in the painting side, and Vicki's work was hung in the framing side. Everything was very nice, and the food, of course, was great. She had a good crowd, with lots of neighbors dropping in, too.

But I surely do have tired legs and feet. But all the packing is done, and piled by the door, getting ready to load in Margaret's van in the morning.

Margaret and Andy are both here. Margaret came down so we can leave from here in the morning. Andy is using the "B&B" going from home to spend the weekend with his girlfriend in Atlanta. He's working, so can't come to the beach this year.

Click here to check out Wordsmith - A Word A Day. This wonderful quote was their bonus for the day. "Since we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our minds, our one duty is to furnish it well." -Peter Ustinov, actor, writer and director (1921-2004)
Today's photo is a sunflower shadow in the alley behind the Studio 2 building.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Two days to salt water

Today was one of those uneventful days. What to write about tonight?

Wal-Mart was definitely unexciting. It took me only one trip to get all the sacks into the house. And, of course, I forgot to get goodies to take to the Studio 2 Open House tomorrow, so I have to go back. We had our usual laughing lunch with the Ex-Ticks. What a crazy bunch that is!

Tonight was the meeting of the Photographic Society - an excellent program given by photographer, Bill Lee, on the importance of Light in photography. Seems like that should be sort of obvious, but I think it's something that even the best of the photographers forget from time to time.

In the bad news/good news department: The bad news is that my friend has been found to have a third lump in the right breast, and another abnormality in the left. She's to undergo more testing - MRI, needle biopsy, etc., on Tuesday. And, of course, no results until probably the end of the week. Then they'll decide the course of treatment. It's SO hard not to jump ahead. You have to wait until you have one answer before you ask the next question. She's so frustrated because she's not in control any more - the damned Big C is in control. No way around that right now.

The good news is that things are getting a little more settled for Anne & Nick, and they will be able to get to the beach. They may be a day late, but they'll be there. That's MAJOR good news for us all!

Only TWO more days!

Today's picture is not the Gulf of Mexico, it's in the Orkneys in Scotland - but it IS salt water!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How COOL is that!!!

It was SO COOL tonight - John and I went outside just before 11, and saw the International Space Station sail across the sky, closely followed by the Shuttle. Our weather guy had told us the times. It was a great sight.

I went for my regular visit to the rheumatologist this morning. The joints weren't too bad today, so I gave them a pain level of "2". They did some regular blood work, and set me up for my next visit and bone density scan in December. I had the BDS before I started radiation in March 2005, so it's time to do that again.

We watched "What's Cooking?" tonight. It's a neat movie. From the Netflix sleeve blurb: " intriguing portrait of family tensions as four ethnic clans - Latino, black, Jewish, and Asian - get ready for Thanksgiving dinner." Great case, and interesting stories. Worth a look.

Then we watched some of the AFI Top 100 movies. Of course, we missed the top 2 because we went out to watch the ISS and shuttle. We couldn't believe they didn't pick "To Kill a Mockingbird" as one of the top 10. Oh, well....

Quote of the day: It might be a good idea if the various countries of the world would occasionally swap history books, just to see what other people are doing with the same set of facts. -Bill Vaughan, journalist (1915-1977)

Today's picture is not the space station, but jet contrails at sundown over the Valley of the Gods, Utah.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Things to do before I die

First, we got some real rain today - 0.8"!

I'm going to use Leroy Siever's blog for today as my starting point for today. He mentions the title of a book, 1000 Places to See Before You Die. He says he looks at such lists differently since his cancer diagnosis. Most people would list climbing Mount Everest (definitely NOT on my list), or running a marathon (also not on my list).

But think for a minute about places you would like to see, or things you would like to do before you die. When you're young and have your whole life ahead of you, your list would probably be completely different from what it would be as you age, or are facing a life-threatening illness.

I never in a million years could have imagined that we would have traveled to so many places, and done what we've done. And we've not seen a lot of the traditional "great places". We've never seen the Eiffel Tower, or the Great Wall of China, or Stonehenge, or the Coliseum, or the pyramids, or the Parthenon. We've never seen elephants or lions in the wild. At least not yet.

But we have seen Machu Picchu, the Galapagos, the Ring of Brodgar, the Hermitage Museum, Chaco Canyon, and Mesa Verde. We've been to Antarctica and been up close and personal with penguins. We've been to Alaska and seen more bald eagles than we could count. We've seen polar bears and black bears and grizzly bears. I've petted a gray whale. We've been two of a handful of spectators at a dawn balloon rise at the Valley of the Gods in Utah.

But more than that, we've managed to be married for almost 52 years. We've raised four gorgeous daughters, who have brought us three special sons-in-law, and six fantastic grandchildren. We have made some pretty incredible friendships over the years. We're getting ready to go to the beach to be with our family and friends - just for the sheer joy of it.

I will quote from Leroy Sievers' list of things to do, because he says it better than I ever could: "Laughing at something that's really funny. Coming up with just the right line at just the right time. Shedding tears for the right reasons. Sending flowers for no reason at all. Giving someone the perfect present. Seeing the joy in someone else's eyes when they give you the perfect present. Sharing a special meal, savoring a good glass of wine. Letting the sound of waves take you away.

We all have our own lists. We judge our lives in our own ways, have our own definitions of success. There are still a lot of things I want to do before I die, but not very many of them are on those other lists."

Today's picture is of the balloons at Valley of the Gods, UT.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sprinkles and Bridge

Our AC (25 years old) is working fine right now (keeping fingers crossed). According to the paper this morning, the high yesterday was 97! Only around 90 today, though, and there were a few light showers in the area - just a sprinkle at our house. That is terrible about the flooding in the Fort Worth area. It's really unusual for them to get that kind of rains.

Swimming this morning, and bridge this afternoon. The cards were mediocre again. Our group is definitely a mixed bag. Some are really good players, and some you just never know WHAT they're doing. I'll just vent about one in particular. He is one of the most obnoxious people to be around that you can imagine. He critiques everything and everybody; tells you even before the hand is played how it is going to be made or not made; and certainly always critiques after the hand is played. And he does it in a loud voice. He's worst with his wife, and she's a pretty good bridge player. Once when I was the declarer, and he was defending, he actually moved the cards around in the dummy. I was flabbergasted, and told him that I'd put them where I wanted them. If he ever does it again, I'm going to tell him in a loud voice to keep his hands off my cards. Today, he was telling me how to score a hand. I told him that I knew how to do it, and he did back off. That's the way it is with bullies - they'll back down if you stand up to them. I've heard almost everybody in the group complain about him. Oh, well - the session is open to anybody, and I guess we have to put up with him. But personally, I'm not going to take any guff from him. I guess it's good to have something so insignificant to complain about.

The new season of The Closer started tonight. It really is one of the best programs on TV today. It's a great ensemble cast, with some of our favorite character actors. If you haven't seen it, give it a try sometime. It's on TNT. Also a new 8-episode series started on PBS tonight, Simon Schama: The Power of Art. I taped it, and am really looking forward to watching it.

Today's picture is along the unpaved road northbound into Chaco Canyon, NM.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

We've been watching the NCAA College World Series. Rice won over UNC 14-4. Rice is our alma mater, and they've been wonderful in baseball over the last several years.

The high today was 94. Along about suppertime, John realized that the air coming out of the vents wasn't cool. Oh, yuck! He called our H/AC guy, and he was here about an hour later. He's a one-man company, so that's really a plus. Anyhow, it was completely out of coolant. He went looking for a leak, found one, plugged it, and is currently charging the system. It got up to 82 in the house. He finished about 10:15, and the temperature is now down to 77.

Beach e-mails are flying fast and furiously. We exchanging information as to who is definitely going or not going; who is driving with whom; how the rooms will get divided. We have lists of the staples that have already been purchased. We're now up to 18, with one unknown. Pretty typical for being 6 days and counting.

Today's picture is Grandpa and grandson.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hot Dogs and Fireworks

Guess what - it was another hot, dry day today. The early mornings have been being pleasant, though - in the high 60s.

We helped do some money-raising for the library again this afternoon. Didn't raise much, though - at least during our shift. The grocery chain wanted to have a table outside the store today to serve hotdogs/chips/drinks for a donation to the library. We took the 11-2 shift, figuring it would be cooler than later in the afternoon. I'm sure that's true, but it was certainly hot enough. Fortunately, most of the time we had a breeze, so it was semi-bearable. We thought that it was not a particularly good use of time and effort - the store management could've gotten more "bang for the buck" by just donating the amount of money they spent on food directly to the library. But then, of course, they didn't ask us.

Chattanooga's Riverbend Festival ends tonight, with a 20-minute fireworks display. Our local PBS station broadcast the fireworks live - not quite the same as being there, but nice all the same. We talked about going down to the boathouse to watch. We've done that before, with our own private parking, deck, and bathrooms. But getting out this late in the evening just doesn't work for us anymore.

We watched a lovely little movie tonight, "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont", with Joan Plowright. A couple of the scenes were shot at the Abbey at Beauly and the Aigas Field Centre near Beauly in Scotland, where we went on an Elderhostel last fall. That was an unexpected treat for us. But the movie is delightful and we can definitely recommend it.

A week from tonight, we'll be sitting out on the deck in Fort Morgan, looking at the Gulf of Mexico. Margaret and I have started buying some of the staples. She sent a list of items she has. Over the many years that we've been going to Gulf Shores/Fort Morgan, we've changed from taking nearly everything (staples and refrigerated stuff), to taking almost nothing, to (now) taking staples like paper products, Ro-Tel, ketchup, etc. It's amazing to think we've been going to this area since 1981, missing only 4 years during that time.

Today's picture is another new painting - just a little flower painting - "Making Sunshine" (20x16 acrylic on canvas).

Friday, June 15, 2007


The huge news is that we got an enormous downpour this afternoon of !!!! 0.25" of rain !!!! Seriously, though, this is the first measurable rain we've had at our house in two months.

In his blog today, Bill Moyers quotes The Hartford Courant: Mr Libby is "a nice guy, a loyal and devoted patriot…but none of that excuses perjury or obstruction of justice. If it did, truth wouldn’t matter much."

Leroy Seivers, in his blog, NPR Blogs: My Cancer, writes that "Uncertainty Is No Replacement for Suspense". His cancer has returned, and he is talking about how one of the most difficult things about cancer is the uncertainty. Will this treatment work? We don't know. Will radiation shrink the tumor? We're not sure. And with our limited knowledge and experience, we have to make all the decisions. It just isn't fair - but then, I guess that's life...and cancer.

There was a piece on Morning Edition this morning concerning the horrendous backlog of passport applications. This is due to the new "Homeland Security" regulations that anyone entering the US, even from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Caribbean countries, etc., will need passports. These includes cruises, weekend trips, etc. These trips previously have not required passports, just proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate. Soon, this will include people driving across a border. Perhaps this was an overdue protection that was needed. HOWEVER, this regulation was not adequately funded, and there are not enough people to process the thousands of applications that have come flooding in. There are delays reported to be as long as 12 weeks and longer. This is WAY too typical of the current administration - making regulations, but not providing the money to allow those regulations to be carried out.

Jean complained that I wasn't showing any pictures of my paintings, so I guess I need to remedy that. This piece is a 24x24" acrylic on canvas - the name is #67.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We're having our usual delightful visit with John's cousin Marty and spouse, John. They stop by on their way from their home in FL to their daughter's house in Cincinnati. Their visits are always nice, and way too short - just an overnight. They bring Burt, their well-behaved Springer spaniel. (Plus this time, they brought us a sack of Vidalia onions. Now that's a great goodness!) Marty and John always take us out to dinner - and tonight, we went for barbecue. That's always SO good, and the portions are huge, so there's enough for dinner tomorrow.

They're going to be leaving early in the morning, heading out so Marty can get fitted for a new saddle. I didn't know one got "fitted" for a saddle, but obviously that's the case. She does a lot of riding at their ranch, and needed a new saddle. Seems like there are a number of places around here that still hand-craft saddles. We learn something new every day.

At least I hope we can learn something new every day. Wouldn't it be terrible if we didn't - or couldn't - or WOULDN'T?!

The sky turned dark again this afternoon, and there was thunder, and orange and pink and red splotches on the Weather Channel radar. Our county and those all around us were under severe thunderstorm warnings and watches. And we got the usual - enough isolated drops to wet some of the pavement, but not enough to wet it under the tree cover. We're going to be turning into the Desert Southeast before too much longer.

Today's picture is of the Abo Mission, part of the Salinas Missions National Monument in New Mexico. Jean says I need to be posting more photos of my paintings. Maybe I can get some taken tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I wrote this entry once, and thought I had it published, but it never showed up. I'll publish it again, and just hope that it doesn't show up twice.

We had a big swimming group this morning - there were 20 in the class, and several regulars weren't there. Gail worked us hard today, too.

It was a good painting day. I got two paintings finished (acrylic on canvas) - or as finished as anything ever is with me. And I have a couple more "starts" to work with. But the most fun was watching Vicki spontaneously and enthusiastically starting and quickly finishing a painting, and laughing the whole time. She was so pleased with herself. I told her she should name the painting "Laughter" - and she did. She says she used to paint that way, but I told her that must have been before I met her 20 years ago.

So far this evening, the county north of us has gotten 1.5-2" of rain, but still nothing here. On radar, it looks like it's moving this way, but I'll believe it when I see some measurable liquid in the rain gauge.

10 days and counting! We got an e-mail from Matt today, and he's definitely coming. Hooray!

Today's picture was taken at the Abo Mission of the Salinas Missions National Monument in New Mexico.

We had a big swimming group this morning - there were 20 in the class, and several regulars weren't there. Gail worked us hard today, too.

It was a good painting day. I got two paintings finished (acrylic on canvas) - or as finished as anything ever is with me. And I have a couple more "starts" to work with. But the most fun was watching Vicki spontaneously and enthusiastically starting and quickly finishing a painting, and laughing the whole time. She was so pleased with herself. I told her she should name the painting "Laughter" - and she did. She says she used to paint that way, but I told her that must have been before I met her 20 years ago.

So far this evening, the county north of us has gotten 1.5-2" of rain, but still nothing here. On radar, it looks like it's moving this way, but I'll believe it when I see some measurable liquid in the rain gauge.

10 days and counting! We got an e-mail from Matt today, and he's definitely coming. Hooray!

Today's picture was taken at the Abo Mission of the Salinas Missions National Monument in New Mexico.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Newsweek this week

Still hot and no rain - and none in the forecast. It's wonderful weather for the Riverbend Festival, and the crowds have been huge.

The cover story in this week's Newsweek is about Alzheimer's and the toll it is taking on those afflicted, their families and caregivers, the health care system, and finances. And I'm afraid "we ain't seen nothing yet"! We've seen first hand, with John's dad, what a terrible disease this is. We were so fortunate that there was enough money to see that he was taken care of properly, without devastating the family finances. Also, although John was the primary caregiver, Ed lived successively in an independent apartment, assisted living, and a nursing home. John had great support from his sister, even though she was miles and miles away.

One point this article makes over and over again is the necessity for all of us to have our paper work in order (wills, powers of attorney, durable powers of attorney, etc.) and to talk to our children about our wishes. We have the paper work done, and have generally talked with the girls. The sidebar in this article, How to Talk About Aging , specifically addresses having "the talk". I guess we need to do this sometime soon. Take note, girls!

Again from Newsweek: I rarely read the George Will column, because I almost never agree with him. This week was an exception. His piece this week Of Tulips and Fred Thompson is an interesting take on this man, especially from a staunch conservative. We had Thompson as senator from Tennessee for a while, and we were singularly unimpressed with him. I really can't believe he would ever be considered a serious candidate for President.

Countdown to the beach: 10 days!

Today's picture is the last in the series of Chimney Rock at the Mountain Ute Tribal Park.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Swimming this morning and bridge this afternoon. I came in the middle last week (as usual), but at least this time I was higher than John. I had a few good hands today, but mostly the cards were pretty bad. I think I got everything I could out of the cards I had - but it's hard to screw up with 3 and 4 points in a hand.

We watched The DaVinci Code tonight. It's really a good yarn, and we thought it was a pretty good movie. John's so funny - he really objects to any movie that is more than 2 hours long. But he still liked this one (at 2 1/2 hours).

My dear friend finally got in to see the surgeon last Wednesday, and wound up having a needle biopsy that very afternoon. They just got in touch with her this morning, and it was malignant. DAMN!!!! They're to call her back in the morning to let her know when she has another appointment with the surgeon to talk about possibilities and options. That might be on Monday or Tuesday of next week. That's one of the hardest thing about this disease - everything comes down to doing something, and then waiting for results; waiting to do the next thing, and then waiting for results. We had to learn early that we could ask only one question at a time. You never asked "Well, if we get that result, what comes next?" You just had to wait until the results came in. Not fun!

Today's picture is a closer shot of Chimney Rock at the Mountain Ute Tribal Park.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A chowder day

This has been one of the quieter days. We spent a lot of time talking about how ready we were go to the beach.

Do y'all have special things you cook from left-overs? We had one of our favorites tonight. A while back I poached a whole salmon which, of course, was more than the two of us could eat - even in a couple of meals. I froze the remainder to use later, and today was the day. I made seafood chowder, and put all that wonderful salmon in it, plus a few frozen shrimp. Oh, yum! And no, it hasn't turned into winter, it was still in the low 90s today. But we do have airconditioning and we like soup anytime. Give this a try sometime - you'll love it.

As a rule, I don't watch award shows. The Tony Awards ceremony for Broadway productions is an exception. The talents are superb. The actors know how to speak and sing so they can be understood, and they know how to stay within a time limit. Usually there are some of the people who have been around for a while that even I know about - and I enjoy seeing them. Plus we get a chance to experience some of the fantastic new talent starting out. I was particularly pleased tonight because one of my very favorite performers, David Hyde Pierce, won the Tony for best performance of a male in a musical.

Today's picture is another one of Chimney Rock in the Mountain Ute Tribal Park.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

92 degrees and no rain

Today was a pretty quiet day. We spent another afternoon collecting donations to buy new books for the Northgate Branch Library. As I've said before, it's terrible that a library is reduced to begging to buy books. Have said that, Bi-Lo Grocery Store did a great deal to help with this. They allowed us to set up in their lobby, had the checkers asking folks for donations as they checked out. And the deal was if we collected $1500, Bi-Lo would give an additional $500.00 to the fund. And we did.

Then we had a great dinner at La Altena, a downtown bodega and cafe downtown. Wow, that is good food!

We tried to watch Shopgirl tonight. We really like Steve Martin, but just couldn't get into this one. John gave up before I did - and I guess I probably watched half of it. Just didn't particularly find any of the characters sympathetic, and didn't care what happened to them.

Saturday is a pretty yucky on television in general. I guess we'll be using Netflix a bunch this summer.

Chattanooga's premier waterfront music festival, Riverbend, started last night. I think that's the only place in town that got rain last night, but fortunately for them, it was a brief shower, and at least cooled things off. We haven't been to Riverbend for years (just too hot and too crowded for our tastes), but it is great for the City in many, many ways. And we always want it to be successful.

Two weeks to the beach and counting!

Today's picture again is from the Mountain Ute Tribal Park.

Friday, June 08, 2007

To rain or not to rain...

We were talking this morning about how lethargic we all were. And that we really need a good thunderstorm to blow all this bad air away - from the atmosphere and from our psyches. Do any of you ever get that feeling that you just need a good thunderstorm?

There was a huge line of thunderstorms bearing down on us this afternoon. It got dark, and thundered, and the wind blew...and we got about 5 drops of rain. And then it was gone. Officially, at the airport, there was 0.21" of rain. Kate even called to see if we had finally gotten some rain - they'd had a deluge this morning. Maybe next time.

Around here, Friday night TV is all PBS. Washington Week in Review; a local program, Tennessee Insider; Bill Moyers' Journal; and NOW. At least there's one night with all quality programming.

Moyers had an interesting interview with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America. What a well-spoken, thoughtful, and intelligent person she seems to be. I would like to share her comment about religion and science:

...Religion and science are both ways of knowing, but they go at it from somewhat different perspectives. Science asks questions about how things happen and where they've come from. Religion and faith traditions ask questions of meaning, about why we're here and what we should do with what we have here, and how we should relate to the rest of creation.
--Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Today's picture is from the Mountain Ute Tribal Park near Cortez, CO.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tied a record!

It was 96 degrees today! I surely am glad that I was in the air conditioning most of the time. John tells me that I shouldn't complain because it's always about 78 where I am. He does have a point. But it's surely not going to keep me from complaining.

Margaret called tonight, and I can tell we're going to be having lots of conversation about the wedding. And it's still a year away. I'm sure that'll be the main topic of conversation at the beach (only 16 more days!).

Is it just me, or does it seem like more and more people, of all ages, are being diagnosed with cancer lately. We went to see our friend this afternoon who has had a recurrence of her breast cancer, and had her first chemotherapy treatment today. Our friends teenage grandson has started his chemo, and his hair has started to come out. I'm not into the conspiracy explanations for events - or government plots - or cast-iron pots - or eating too many cucumbers, etc., etc. Maybe it's just that we are fortunate enough to have so many wonderful people that we care about, and the laws of averages are catching up.

Today's picture is the Qurai site of the Salinas Missions National Monument in New Mexico.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I read the Fareed Zakaria article in Newsweek tonight, and it is excellent. He has a superb take on problems that the United States faces in the world today. He poses interesting questions, and it is certainly a thoughtful piece. Well worth the time to read it.

John read (on-line) the Washington Post article on Bush's dilemma about a possible pardon of "Scooter" Libby, and says it's good, too. I haven't read that one, but will try to get to it soon.

It's been another hot, dry day today. Someday, we may actually get some rain - but it isn't going to happen anytime soon. Riverbend, our 8-day waterfront festival starts on Friday, and that's usually good for one or two nights of storms and/lor soaking rains. We can only hope.

The refrigerator is leaking. John's been working on it. There is a place leaking in the tubing that goes to the ice maker. He might have it fixed, but we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see if it's stayed dry overnight. Blast! It's always something. As our old family saying goes: If it ain't roaches, it's piss-ants!

And in the NCAA Softball Championship, the Lady Vols lost to Arizona in the third game. This is the first time the Lady Vols have gotten to the Championship game, but winning just wasn't to be this time. Just wait until next year!

Today's picture is a petroglyph in an area near County Road 10, Cortez, CO.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Politics and Softball

On NPR this morning, there was a piece about a conversation between a CNN reporter and H. Clinton, B. Obama, and J. Edwards. The subject was religion. Does anybody else find it troubling that a Forum on Faith & Politics is considered appropriate? I really don't think a religious litmus test was intended in the Constitution. I seem to remember from my American history that the founding fathers specifically did not want this country to be a religious state.

Fareed Zakaria has written the Cover Story in this week's Newsweek magazine. The title is "After Bush: Restoring America's Place in the World". I haven't had a chance to read the article yet, But I have always found Zakaria to be thoughtful, factual, and nonpartisan. It should be interesting.

Arizona has just won the second game over the Lady Vols in the best-of-three-games series in the NCAA softball championship. Damn! I was hoping the Lady Vols could win in two. Now they'll have to play another game tomorrow. I love it that Pat Summitt and Phil Fulmer are there to cheer them on, and that Peyton Manning called the pitcher, Abbott, to wish her luck. It is really great that the different sports teams and coaches are supporting other Big Orange teams.

Today's picture is a petroglyph at the Mountain Ute Tribal Park, CO.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Swim into the week

Monday is for swimming, laundry, and bridge. It was a very smart move on my part when I quit doing the Wal-Mart run on Monday, too.

After swimming, we went to IHOP to celebrate a birthday. John came, too, after his rowing session. As usual, the food was good. But NOT as usual, the service was terrible. We arrived about 8:45, and it was nearly 10:30 when we finally got our tabs paid and could leave. Needless to say, cards were filled out, tips were omitted, and management will be notified.

The cards this afternoon were average. I had some good ones and some bad ones. I'll probably wind up in the middle again. There were a couple of hands that I think I played very well - and that always brightens the afternoon. This is a group of good bridge players, and most of them are really nice folks. But some of them have some really annoying habits - like tapping fingernails on the table, playing very slowly, telling everybody how the hand should've been played. I'm glad we play in 30-minute rounds, and then change partners and tables, so nobody ever gets stuck with anybody else for very long. (Of course, I'm sure there's somebody out there talking about how annoying I am ... but no, surely that's not possible!)

The mail brought an Elderhostel catalog featuring 3- or 4-day programs in the SouthEast. One that sounds pretty interesting is in early December in Highlands, NC. The program is on Applachian humor, ballads, and Mark Twain. We'll let that simmer for a bit before we make a decision.
I nearly forgot. Congratulations to the Lady Vols Softball team. They won the first game (best of three) against Arizona in the NCAA Softball Series.

Countdown to the beach: 19 days!

Today's picture was taken at a rest area along I-40 in the Texas Panhandle. I hope you can read the signs. The smallest one reads: "Watch out for snakes".

Sunday, June 03, 2007

We did some telephone catching-up today. A good friend from South Carolina called to check on us. Her granddaughter had gotten married last weekend, so we got to hear all about that. And we got to talking about how old our grandkids are getting. And, of course, WE couldn't be getting old, too. There must be some other cause for that.

We called to talk to Ann & Al. Al has shoulder replacement surgery last Friday, and came home from the hospital yesterday. He sounded find, and says as long as he stays still, it doesn't hurt. However, he starts his 3-times-a-week physical therapy tomorrow. As Kate could tell him, the PT nazis will torture him mercilessly. And, as Kate did, he will learn to love them and to work hard. Those PT people can work miracles.

We watched the movie,A Prairie Home Companion, tonight. We do enjoy the radio program, and the cast was superb. But it's a weird movie. That should have been obvious from the beginning since it's a Robert Altman movie. And then, on TV, we watched the end of, and then the beginning of, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. We'd seen that some time ago, and it is a delightful movie. I guess if I had to pick between the two, it'd have to be Wedding. Our next NetFlix offering is the DaVinci Code.
Today's picture was taken in the panhandle of Texas, looking west down the middle of Route 66.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Life just ain't fair sometimes.

A quiet morning today, but this afternoon, we "worked" at a local grocery store, selling raffle tickets and taking donations to raise money to buy books for our local branch library. It's a crying shame that the city and county don't provide enough money to buy books. And that volunteers have to beg for money in a supermarket in order to get anything new.

I did get a Letter to the Editor in the paper today. A friend from SeniorNet had mentioned that she had been here to "tourist" and couldn't figure out how to work the parking meters - so they just left town. I am not opposed to parking meters - it's a way to generate some revenue and to keep people from hogging parking places all day. But these new ones seem to be difficult. So I felt compelled to bring this to the attention of the powers-that-be. Like they'll care.

I've added some favorite links and a counter to the edge of this blog. I hope you'll try some of them and find them interesting. I forgot to add SeniorNet - one of the best. A clickable is in the previous paragraph, and I'll be adding it to the list.

The teenage grandson of some friends has just been diagnosed with cancer - a tumor that is wrapped around his ureter and prostate. He's just started a course of chemotherapy, and hope that that will shrink the tumor, so it can then be managed. Some of our dearest friends have dealt for years with cancer in two of their sons. Have you ever noticed that life isn't fair?

And on that note, our picture of the day will be just for pretty - a bougainvillea blossom.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Scattered showers

There was finally some rain in our area this evening. Some places had up to 1.5" of rain. At our house, we got only a sprinkle - not even enough to get the pavement wet under tree overhand. Oh, well. At least the grass isn't growing.

Wedding plans are progressing. It is officially set for 24 May 2008, an afternoon ceremony. Motel rooms have been reserved. And I've already been told that new blue jeans and a new sweatshirt, embroidered with "Grandmother of the Groom" will not be acceptable. Well, damn! guess I'll have to find something. As I've said, I'll wear whatever Margaret (and Sue, and probably Flo Jean) tell me that I have to. Sighhhhhhhhhh......

You might notice I've added a counter to this blog. Just curiosity on my part. One of our swimmers who has been "absent" for a while returned to the class today, and said that she had been reading the blog. That's so exciting - I'm delighted that there are readers out there. Thanks, Stephanie!

John talked to his sister tonight. Her husband had a total shoulder replacement today. He did well, and will be spending the night in the hospital tonight - then home tomorrow. They're still planning to go to their oldest grandson's college graduation in a couple of weeks. She'll just have to do all the driving.

Click here to see the news from New Hampshire. Congratulations to that state!

John's picture today is of an unusual cloud formation over Sleeping Ute Mountain in Colorado.