Friday, August 31, 2007

Not much today

Oh, my God! It's the dreaded white page. This is as bad as starting a painting - and facing that horrible white paper or canvas. It's when I start wandering around the room, picking up thing, getting coffee. Doing what I call "bouncing the ball on the floor" - pacing around and then, hopefully, accomplishing something. Not sure that's goingto be the case today, though.

Betty gave me several big butternut squash. I found the recipe she suggested - a butternut squash souffle. I'll fix that tomorrow - probably one to eat tomorrow night and one or more to freeze.

This is the Labor Day weekend, but I doubt that we're going to do much. John plans to do some walking, getting ready to walk on our trip. I told him that I plan to do some walking in the mall over the weekend...that I was going to go (GASP!!!) shopping. I'd still like to find some navy and/or ivory pants and/or skirt to go with my new kimono tops. I'm also going to go to the knit shop to get some more of the wool/bamboo blend sock yarn, to have plenty of stuff to take on the trip.

I guess we're really starting to get into short-timer's mode, just thinking about getting stuff ready. There are still things going on. The Gallery Hop is a week from tomorrow, and that will be a 7-hour day at Studio 2. I still have some pieces to get over there, and then help Vicki get things arranged and hung. The swimmers are having a multiple birthday/anniversary, covered dish party the day before we leave.

Today's picture is a bright sunflower - looking for better ideas tomorrow.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

What were they thinking?!?

At lunch today, we were talking about writing and blogs. I said that I wrote even when I didn't have anything to say. Guess I'll pull out my soapbox just a little today.

Why is it that even new buildings that are supposed to be handicapped-accessible don't make the grade?

A couple of years ago, I had major foot surgery and for a few weeks was either in a wheelchair or using a walker. During the wheel-chair period, I attended a day-long meeting at the then-2-year-old downtown meeting/convention/etc. facility. The hallways were all carpeted - very difficult to maneuver in a wheelchair. The distance from the meeting space to the nearest restroom was about 50-75 yards down one of these carpeted halls. After turning three corners to get into the stall area of the restroom, it was impossible to get the wheelchair into the handicapped stall without backing it in front of other stalls and into the handicapped one. In subsequent visits to the restroom, I opted for the first regular stall, and just hopped into the space.

This afternoon, we went to the art museum. The 2-year old addition to the building is where the entrance is located. It is at the far end of the long building from the parking lot. The door is about 30 yards from the nearest point where a handicapped person could be dropped off - no problem for someone in a wheelchair with a companion to push, but for someone on crutches or a walker or with a cane or in a cast-boot, it's a long way to walk. And, as the fates would have it, just as we started to walk to the door, a heavy rainshower opened up, and we were soaked when we got to the door.

For the walking impaired, getting inside the building is not much help. The entry and lobby area are floored with roughly-cut "flagstones". It would be very difficult for anyone with mobility problems to locomote on this surface. A wheelchair would give an incredibly bumpy ride. And I don't even see how any woman in high heels could get across this floor without a sprained ankle.

What were they thinking?!?!?

Any one who attempts to design a public building should have to live wheelchair-bound or walk with a cane or walker for a week, and try to maneuver through this world. It's obviously that the designers of these public buildings had no clue as to what a handicapped person really needs to make access possible.

Today's picture is one of John's - the Delta Queen exiting the Pickwick Dam Lock on the Tennessee River.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Miss Potter

I have no great philosophical verities for the world this evening. Some days are like that. Sigh.......

We did have lots of thunder this afternoon. But it wound up being "big noise on staircase, no one come down". Although some parts of the area got 2-3" of rain, we got maybe 0.1" of drizzle at our house. It did cool things off somewhat, though.

We watched two movies tonight - or at least I did. John watched Catch Me If You Can with me. It's a 2002 movie based on the true story of the con man, Frank Abagnale. It's a fun movie with good performances by Leonardo diCaprio and Tom Hanks. We saw it in a theater when it first came out, and we were very impressed with the opening graphics/animation with the credits. Happily, the opening was as good as we had remembered.

The second movie was a prize. A friend rented it and passed it along to some others. Miss Potter (2006) is the story of Beatrix Potter and her writing of the Peter Rabbit stories. Renee Zellweger is delightful as Miss Potter. The cinematography and scenery are as charming as her drawings in her stories. Give this one a look.

Today's picture is from our morning at Valley of the Gods.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Water falls from the sky!

Hooray, we actually got some rain today! About 0.4" in 30 minutes. It was exciting! The temperature even dropped into the mid70s in the middle of the afternoon. That was all, though, and then the sun came back out. But after tomorrow, predicted highs for the rest of the week are in the upper 80s, with the chance of thundershowers every afternoon. Now THAT's the "phone-in" forecast for Tennessee summer.

I didn't see any of the lunar eclipse this morning. John went out to pick up the paper and the eclipse was just starting. He was going to wait a few minutes, then wake me. He went back out to check and the cloud cover had moved in. So I missed it - but I did get to sleep about an hour later.

At Studio 2, we did some planning for the Gallery Hop on 8 September. The brochures are out, so I got a bunch of them to hand out to the swimmers and others. The openings are from 2-9, so it'll be a long day. I hope we have lots of people come in, though.

In the Blog Discussion on SeniorNet today, a writer asked why somebody would start writing a blog. It was interesting to think about - to give her an answer. I started this one when I was diagnosed with cancer in early 2005, and then let it lapse. Keeping a journal and "talking" to family was the impetus to start back up last April. I have really enjoyed both the writing and the discipline to find something to write about every day. Thanks to all of you for sticking with me. It's fun - at least for me!

Today's picture is early morning in the Valley of the Gods.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Gail worked us hard in swimming this morning. Her first cataract surgery was a success last week, and she's very pleased with the results. Unfortunately for us, she can now see all of us in the pool, and can tell when we're goofing off. She keeps telling us it's for our own good.

I reported our upcoming trip to the bank and the credit card companies. We've learned to do that so we don't have the companies getting hysterical because we've changed our financial pattern. Next is to call the airline and the shuttle company.

My cards were some better today - not great, but I'll take it. I was next-to-last for the six tables last week. Today, I had as many points in the first two rounds as I did for the whole afternoon last week. John's cards were better. We do keep playing, though.John says he's going to wake me up in the morning if it's not cloudy and we can see the eclipse. Otherwise I get to sleep in. He does take good care of me.

The best news of the day was the resignation of Alberto Gonzales. It was long overdue. And it looks like they're all abandoning the sinking ship.

Today's picture is one of Jean's - of a real hall of justice - the courtroom in Monroeville, AL. Monroeville is the home of Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch was based on Lee's father, and Mr. Lee argued cases in this courtroom.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Only" 94 degrees today

Did y'all know there was going to be a total lunar eclipse this week. In our area, they're saying the best visibility should be Tuesday morning from about 5:30 - 7:30 a.m. I guess I'll have to get up and out to look. Maybe I'll let John get up first, and then come wake me if it's not cloudy.

We spent some time today looking at material and books we have about Prague, Budapest, and Vienna. We found the streets of our apartments in maps in The Lonely Planet books. John found restaurants in the neighborhoods, and locations of nearby metro stations. We're starting to assemble stuff, making lists, and getting excited. We're definitely getting into travel mode. John's just looked and found the apartments on Google Earth.

Just in case you haven't figured it out, we're going with Ann & Al on a 3-week trip to eastern week each in Prague, Budapest, and Vienna. It's looking to be a great trip. There'll probably be gaps in postings, but I'm hoping to get some computer time at least once or twice while we're gone.

Today's picture is of rising dawn in the Valley of the Gods.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A not-so-hot day

Margaret got 1.25" of rain last night - about 1 hour west of us. They were thrilled for their garden. They have a well, so do irrigate with that water. They're actually forecasting normal temps for us by the end of the week - in the high 80s. I'll believe that when I see it.

Super quiet day today. John has asked a computer genius friend to come over to try to clean up the desk top computer. The first thing, of course, is to be sure everything is backed up. So that's what he's been doing today. And I was deleting more and more stuff. I don't mind doing it - it's just going through it to be sure we don't throw away something crucial. Once he emptied the recycle bin, and defragged, our available space went from 21% to 41%. I'd never thought of simply "taking the garbage out".

Not much on TV tonight. We watched last night's taped episode of Monk, and then The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith. We like him, and his son was great as the little boy. But this was a seriously saccharine movie - way too predictable and sweet.

Kate wrote that they were back home from leaving Andy at school. They had some twinges of "empty nest", but they'll get over it, I'm sure.

Today's picture is another from our morning at Valley of the Gods.

Friday, August 24, 2007

one more day over 100

Our high today was 102. We thought we might get a shower this evening, but none of the little "pop-up" showers landed on us. It did quickly drop the temperature into the 80s, though - and that was good. Supposed to be "cooler" tomorrow, only into the mid90s. It looked on radar like Margaret and Bobby were getting some rain.

Today was a wonderfully normal Friday. Swimming, coffee, and then to Studio 2 for watercolor. I painted some cards this morning, and "splashed" some color onto my business cards. I got home about 1, and even got a nap. We had our usual PBS Friday night on TV, and then John called it a day.

The clothes that Beth and I ordered from JCPenney came today. I surely didn't expect them that quickly. I really like what we chose and they fit well. What more can you ask?

I think we're going to take it easy again tomorrow. It's only a little more than two weeks before we leave for Prague, so it's time to start making lists. I've got to call Delta, reserve spaces on the shuttle, call the credit union and the credit card companies. Just the usual stuff. We need to do some reading in our Lonely Planet city books, too.

Today's picture is definitely in a lonely part of our planet - first morning light in the Valley of the Gods.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

105 today!

Be sure to read Leroy Sievers' blog for today (23 August). Click here to get there. Click here to get there directly.

Another travel day today. Beth, Lisa and I had some good talking time this morning. After I went to Flo Jean's for a little while to help her with some computer problems, I headed for home. It's a 3-hour drive, but at least the car is air-conditioned. It's nice to be home for a while - if only a couple of weeks.

I had asked a friend here for some wardrobe advice. I've always like the clothes she wears, and asked where she purchased them. She gave me the name of some catalogs she uses. Then she called to tell me she had left me a present at Studio 2. I picked it up on the way out of town on Tuesday. It's a gorgeous loose kimono-type jacket in lush royal blues and gold. And it fits perfectly. What a wonderful, thoughtful thing to do. I can't wait for a chance to wear it. Maybe I'll be able to find something to wear it with to the Gallery Hop on 8 September. Since I'll be one of the Studio 2 featured artists, I guess I'll need to dress up a little bit.

Today's picture is one of the "engagement" pictures of the happy couple. Aren't they great!?!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


This will be a short note tonight.

They wouldn't let us go in with Beth when she got marked yesterday - I think I wrote that. She is scheduled for a CAT scan tomorrow, and is very anxious about it. She's claustrophobic, and is so worried. I went with her today to "tour" the machine. It is one of the doughnut kinds, and her head doesn't even have to go in the machine. I think she will go ahead and take the test, and maybe is not quite so anxious, but she'll still be taking some Valium beforehand. Kimberly will go with her.

After we went to the hospital, we met Kimberly and Flo Jean for lunch. That, of course, was nonstop talking. We could hardly find empty spaces to use for eating. Afterwards, we did some birthday shopping, and then headed home.

It was another day over 100, with more to come.

Today's photo is a light standard at Pickwick Dam on the Tennessee River

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back to Hendersonville

The new cleaning lady came again this morning. I'm so glad to have somebody again. I got to go to Studio 2 briefly, and then left for Hendersonville. The drivwe was uneventful - the usual 2 1/2 hours. The best part was that the extension of the bypass from Hendersonville to Gallatin has been completed, and we can get almost all the way on a controlled access road.

Kimberly and I took Beth to the Cancer Clinic for her marking session. They wouldn't let us go back with her, but she came back with all her blue drawings. She didn't get any tattoos yet. I told her she should ask why she was being discriminated against. She's scheduled for a CAT scan on Thursday, and is very apprehensive about that. She's claustophobic, and is very edgy about it, even though she's been told it's just a "doughnut" and not the tube. We're going to try to go by there tomorrow for her to look at it, to reassure her. She starts her actual radiation treatments on Monday.

It's good to visit with Beth, Lisa, Kimberly and Foster. I browsed through a JCPenney catalog and found some separates that will work beautifully for some new "nice clothes". I just admired them, and before I knew it, Beth had ordered them for me. I do need a push from time to time.

Surprise, surprise, the high for today was 100, with no rain.

Today's picture is dusk at Valley of the Gods.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Letter writing again

No rain here, still, and temps are still predicted in the high 90s and low 100s. We surely are tired of this. It was great to get back to swimming again this morning.

I'm going to see Beth tomorrow. She has her "marking" visit to the radiologist, and I told her that I'd go with her. Once she gets started, she'll be fine. She's doing very well overall, and once the newness of this part gets over with, she'll be fine with that, too. Also, this'll be the first time I've gotten to see her since this whole thing started for her.

Bridge today: Two weeks ago, as I thought, I was high for the six tables. Today was payback. Absolutely LOUSY cards! I stayed at the same table through the whole six progressions (high partnership moves up, losing partnership stays at the table, both changing partners for the next round). I think I may have had 2500 points total, and a bit over 1000 of that was on the last round. Oh, well - it'll get better - some day.

It was letter-writing time again. Some explanation: The cover story in the 6 August issue of Newsweek Magazine was called "Slaughter in the Jungle" and was about poaching of gorillas. Letters to the Editor about this story were in the issue of 27 August. Five letters and a synopsis paragraph were printed. This is my letter to Newsweek in response to the letters:

Your cover story on the Killing of the Great Apes was about terrible events and was very moving. The Letters to the Editor in reaction to this story all expressed horror and sadness and emotion at such madness and cruelty.

However, I was struck that people were writing about the killing of gorillas, but nobody is writing weekly letters expressing the same horror, sadness, and emotion about the madness and cruelty going on in Iraq, and the killing of U.S troops there.

Today's photo was taken in Kenilworth Gardens in Washington, DC, by a guest photographer.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

No break in the heat

We did exactly what we had planned today - which was nothing! John did go out early and row, but that all. We read the paper, watched CBS Sunday Morning, read books, did computer stuff. It's back to the real world tomorrow.

You need to know the gist of this story from the paper this morning, dateline Nashville, TN. The headline reads Southern Baptist seminary to offer academic program in homemaking. I must admit this piqued my interest so I started reading. My first thought was whether or not men would be admitted to the classes.

Here are some excerpts from the article: "The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers coursework in Greek and Hebrew, in archaeology, in the philosophy of religion and - starting this fall - in how to cook and sew...Southwestern introducing a new academic program in homemaking as part of an effort to establish what its president calls biblical family and gender roles...It will offer a bachelor of arts in humanities degree with a 23-hour concentration in homemaking. The program is only open to women."

And there it is!

"...the homemaking degree is one of 10 women's programs...and is 'only targeted to women whose heart and calling is the home.'"...Seminary President Paige Patterson was asked whether women would teach in the seminary's theology school under his leadership. "The New Testament is crystal clear that pastors are to be men," he said. Again, from the article, "Patterson's wife, Dorothy Patterson, is the only female faculty member now teaching in Southwestern's theology school."
Somehow, I just felt the need to share what the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary is teaching. The whole article can be found in several publications by putting the name of the seminary in Google News.

Today's photo of the Delta Queen leaving Decatur, AL, is one of John's.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday R&R

Coming home from a trip is always time for R&R (rest and recuperation in our case). We usually get everything unpacked and mostly put away right after we walk in the door. Otherwise, it'd probably stay in the suitcases for months. Our way, things get stashed at least semi-appropriately while we're still too tired to care.

But, at least the wash got done today, so that takes care of that for the week. Betsy called. All the news from her end is about Hurricane Dean. It was headed straight up the Rio Grande River, and, of course, the folks managing her Retirement Center are concerned about the residents, keeping them safe and comfortable. Fortunately for the Valley, the predicted path seems to have dropped farther south. I know that's terrible for the rural areas of Mexico, though. In any case, it still a long way off.

Kate called this afternoon and said they were on the way to Margaret's to pick up a dog. A DOG?????? With Margaret and Bobby living so far out in the country, people are always leaving dogs by the side of the road. And the dogs always know that Margaret and Bobby are total softies in that department, so they show up and hang around. Kate had asked Margaret to be on the lookout for a dog for them. One that seemed suitable finally showed up last week - so Kate and Wayne came down to check her out and possibly take her home. She does look like a nice dog, black-and-tan, mostly hound with some Shepherd - not a puppy, and not too big.

So we invited ourselves, and drove over to Margaret's to eat. Another of their superb meals - that fresh garden stuff is SO good! But we are still so tired, so we didn't stay long. Pulled the ultimate leaving "between dinner and dishes"!

Today's picture was taken during the calliope concert on the Delta Queen. Boy, those things are loud!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday on the River - the Mighty Mississippi

We had a nice visit in New Madrid - other than its being 101 while we were there. Their museum is a nice little one. About half is dedicated to Civil War stuff, and half to the earthquake. We were more interested in the earthquake. The 1811-12 New Madrid quakes were incredible - at least three that were estimated to be over 8 on the Richter scale. It was much worse than the San Francisco quake. The only reason there was not more loss of life and property was that the area was so lightly populated. Entire towns vanished; islands vanished; the Mississippi ran backwards; waterfalls were created and destroyed; lakes were created and destroyed. An interesting fact is that the only "natural" lake of any size in Tennessee is Reelfoot Lake, which was formed by the earthquake. The loss of life and property would be incalculable if such an event were to happen in the same area today.

In 1990, a "seer" predicted that there was going to be another major earthquake at the New Madrid Fault. The Museum Board had a contest to design t-shirts to sell during that time. They are wonderful! It's an outline of the area of the Missouri Bootheel, with large print saying "IT'S OUR FAULT", and under that "New Madrid, Missouri". There were so many people who came to town during the time of the prediction, and they sold so many t-shirts, they were able to almost totally pay for an addition to their building. Of course, we each got one of them, too.
The rest of the day was spent playing bridge as we cruised down the Mississippi. Internet connection has been non-existent, so this will probably not get posted until we get home.

Memphis tomorrow should be interesting. We'll be leaving the boat about 8 a.m., to be bussed to the airport. We'll pick up our rental car there and head home. However, this weekend is the beginning of "Elvis Week" - the 30th (?) anniversary of his death. And they tell us there should be about 70,000 additional people in town. No telling how many Elvises we'll see at the airport.

Friday night:
How disappointing - no Elvises spotted. But we left the airport at 9:35 a.m.CT, heading home. Some folks on the ship recommended we try taking US 72 through north MS and AL. They said it was about an hour shorter than going on the interstates through Nashville. We did go that way, and other than missing some areas of controlled-access highway getting out of Memphis and through Huntsville, it's a great route. It's 4-lane divided almost all the way. We got home about 4:45 ET - right at 6 hours. The temperature coming through Huntsville was 104 (!), and there was even a grass/woods fire in the outskirts of town. We went through a very brief shower at Scottsboro, and the temperature dropped over 20 degrees in just a couple of miles. It came right back up quickly, though.

We got home, emptied the rental car. John took the rental car back, and we went to see a short concert by our friend, Dalton Roberts. He and his friends do a great job. A quick dinner at Panera's and then home to crash! This was a great trip, heat nothwithstanding. And especially to spend time with Ann & Al. See ya tomorrow!

Today's photo is, finally, the Rosenbaum House in Florence, AL.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wednesday on the Rivers (Tennessee & Ohio)

We woke up this morning, tied up to a stanchion, waiting for our turn to go through the Kentucky Lock. That one is very busy, and is just above the confluence of Tennessee and the Ohio. We arrived at the Paducah dock while we were eating lunch. This is such a nice river town. It was about 99 when we headed up the ramp toward the flood wall. Paducah sends out a welcoming committee with pins and brochures for the passengers. Just a nice touch.

We went straight to the Museum of the American Quilting Society. Those quilts are mind-boggling. The work and techniques and creativity involved is truly awesome. In the meeting room, there is what looks to be a lovely quilt hanging from a rope on the wall. It is actually a wood carving, and even on close inspection is extremely difficult to tell it is not cloth. Of couse, they don't let you touch, but they do have a sample from the artist that you can touch. For Most Spectacular, we awarded the prize to the all white, totally hand-stitched quilt. It had been a big prize-winner a couple of years ago, and we could see why. The other one I liked best actually looked like one of my paintings. Gee, wonder why I liked THAT one!

We went to another museum in town, where one of the exhibits is dedicated to a World War I nurse named "Mary Wheeler". Hmmmm - I don't think that was me, and I don't have an ancestor with that specific name.

Back to the boat for a shower, some more bridge, and the Captain's Champagne Reception and Dinner. No champagne for me, of course, but the prime rib was very good. As I write, we're waiting for the last lock on the Ohio before the confluence (which we reach about midnight), and I'm heading downstairs for the bluegrass concert. Obviously, no internet connection tonight.

This is posted on Thursday morning as we're docking at New Madrid, MO.

I keep trying to post a photo of the Wright house in Florence, AL, but it's taking too long to upload, so I'd best give up. Better luck next time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tuesday on the Tennessee

It was an easy day today - since the predicted high was 104. I don't know what it got to - the last time I looked it was 100. Amazingly, by suppertime it has gotten almost comfortable outside. Of course, that was while we were moving and on the shady side of the boat. We went out to sit in the rocking chairs on the bow deck after supper, and it was lovely.

We woke this morning tied up at Savannah, TN. Ann and Al took the tour to the Shiloh Battlefield. John refuses to tour Civil War sites any more. We'll make this stop in November when we take the Riverbarge tour, so I decided to wait until the weather was more comfortable. John and I took the shuttle into town - a very small west TN town. Our step-on guide was a cute local girl, who was doing her first tour. Her delivery was pretty rough, but she was nice. John got off and went to the local museum, and I just rode the bus through the historic part of town, then went back to the boat. John came back on the next run.

I never could get any internet coverage this morning. But here we are tonight, somewhere between I-40 and the Kentucky line, and I'm getting a pretty good connection. Go figure!

Our lunch today was fun - a "picnic". The tables in the dining room were set up family style, and we had bowls of potato salad, slaw, white beans, baked beans, fried chicken, fried catfish, ribs, watermelon, plus iced tea or lemonade. It was really very good. We got to take a short tour of the galley this afternoon. It's amazing how they turn out such great food from such a tiny, crowded space.

Sorry - no photo today. I just couldn't get one to upload.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday on the river

Today was a scorcher - predicted high of 102. Fortunately we were back on the boat in the AC by noon, and underway shortly after that.
Florence, AL, is a lovely little town. Actually it's four towns that run together - Florence, Sheffield, Tuscumbia, and Muscle Shoals. Our tour included three varied and interesting stops.

First was the Rosenbaum House - the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Alabama. What an unexpected treat this was! Y'all know how we love to see FLW houses, and this one is wonderful. It was built in 1940, with 1540 square feet, then enlarged almost seamlessly with another 1100 sq ft in 1949. It was lived in by the original owners until into the 1990s, then was bought by the city and lovingly restored and opened to the public. It's exceptional, and well worth going out of your way to see.

Then we went to Tuscumbia to see the home of Helen Keller. She was a magnificant woman, and her story is well known. Again, the house was owned by the family until it was turned over to an association to manage and control the property. There are mostly original furnishings and lots of memorabilia. It's great to see the actual sites of the play, The Miracle Worker.

A surprise was the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Oh, yuck, groan, etc. But it was really quite interesting. It was built to honor any musicians of any style or time who had ties to Alabama. Included are a classical flautist, an opera singer, plus the expected country, rock and roll, pop, blues, and jazz musicians. Another good stop.

A quiet afternoon followed, with lots of bridge, naps, and computer stuff.

Today's picture is of the lovely lady, the Delta Queen.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday on the river

Hi folks, from the Delta Queen, on the beautiful Tennessee River. We've left Decatur, AL, heading downstream for tomorrow's stop in Florence. This morning, we were bussed to Huntsville for a tour of the Space Museum and an I-Max film. The museum was okay - not one of the best we've seen. The I-Max was a good film of The Story of Flight - lots about the Blue Angels. I tend to get motion sickness in I-Max films, but all I have to do is close my eyes to make the queasiness go away. I actually saw only about half of this one. :)

It was still miserably hot (at least 100 today), but at least there's AC on the boat.

We had a good program tonight - An Evening With Mark Twain. He was no Hal Holbrook, but it was a very good evening's entertainment.

Tonight's picture is the paddle wheel of the Delta Queen.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

All day sailing

Today was a sailing day. The trip through the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee was lovely - a nice breeze, and not too hot. We'd never seen the Canyon before, so just watching the banks slide by was a treat. And everybody loves to see the Delta Queen, so they're out waving and taking pictures. It didn't start getting uncomfortably hot until about lunchtime - so that worked out well.

We went through two locks, Nickajack this morning, and Guntersville just about the time we were sitting down to dinner. We had a program after lunch about "reading" the river, learning the markers, and about the rivers we'd be sailing - the Tennessee, the Ohio, and the Mississippi - 700+ miles in all.

We got in a bunch of bridge this afternoon. We've been changing partners after every round, and Al has been skunking the rest of us for three days. Today we finally found a chink in his armor. We'll probably not be able to knock him out of high, but at least he's not on the winning side of EVERY rubber anymore.

John and I are taking the morning tour tomorrow to the Huntsville Space Center. Ann & Al are going on the Alabama History tour in the afternoon. We are scheduled to leave at 8:30 a.m., so we can't have a long, leisurely breakfast. I hope the morning is as pleasant as it was today.

Today's picture was taking while sailing through the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee River, just downstream from Chattanooga.

Rough start for sailing

Friday night - 9:30 ET. On board the Delta Queen. Getting to the boat turned out to be an exercise in screwed-up communication. Judy picked us up at 1, and drove directly to the waterfront and, LO & BEHOLD, there was no Delta Queen to be found! What the HELL? John went off looking, and in the meantime I found some folks in the parking lot who were also looking for the DQ (yes, I know that's usually the Dairy Queen, but, get used to it!) They called the 1-800 # for the cruise line, and they were told the boat wasn't there. Well, yes - we can see that. They should drive 20 miles west on I-24 to the Haletown Exit, and board the boat there. While we were trying to figure that out, somebody else found out that there were buses waiting at the airport to take people to the boat.

Back into the car we get, with the ever-patient Judy still driving. Now we were in the lead of a caravan with the other folks (also from Southern CA) in their rental car, heading to the airport. Sure enough, when we got there, two cross-country-size buses were waiting in front of the terminal. We thanked Judy profusely and send her on her way, then get on the bus. When the bus leaft about 15 minutes later, there were about a dozen people on board. The bus swung by the ChooChoo and picked up another passenger, and then headed west on I-24. We got to the Haletown exit and the bus kept going, then another exit, then another. We were hoping it was headed for South Pittsburg, because we'd be sure we'd been hijacked otherwise. Sure enough, the bus headed for South Pittsburg, and the DQ was parked almost under the South Pittsburg bridge.

We got on - relieved just to see that the boat really did exist. Ann & Al got the upgrade to the "A" cabin, but when we tried to get their "C", there was somebody else ahead of us in the "upgrade line". Of course, those folks took the cabin, and we moved our stuff into the "F". We kept hoping somebody else wouldn't show up, but that was not to be the case.

We played some bridge, and had a very nice dinner. The weather is still miserably hot - definitely didn't want to sit out on deck. On the bow deck, there are two porch swings, which would be wonderful under other circumstances. There are large rocking chairs all around on all decks.

We asked one of the officers why the boat didn't dock in Chattanooga. He said it was because of the festival being held on the waterfront - like they didn't know that months and months ago. And that the passengers were supposed to be notified that they were to be picked up at the airport. Obviously somebody screwed up, because no one was notified - and we made our reservations two days ago! Folks were understandably pissed off, and none more so than the crew.

Saturday, 11 August 2007
Well, I've found out there is WiFi in one place on board, so I'll get in occasionally. When the boat left last night, it kept heading upstream. Most went on to bed, but I stayed up for a bit. I asked where we were going, and was told that we were going to Chattanooga (!!!!) to refuel. Doesn't make a great deal of sense, but we go where the boat goes. I went on to bed.

We must've spent the night somewhere in the Chattanooga area, because when we got up, we were just passing Baylor School and Macllelan Island (Chattanoogans will know where that is). We were pleased that we were going to be able to sail through the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee in the daytime. And it was lovely. It was breezy and comfortable (in the shade) all morning. We didn't get back to our starting point at South Pittsburg until nearly lunchtime. Again, I don't have to figure these things out - just enjoy the ride.

No photo today - I hope to have one from the river tomorrow.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Forgot to mention...

We're leaving this afternoon on a week-long trip on the Delta Queen - heading down the Tennessee River to the Ohio to the Mississippi. We're going to end up in Memphis next Friday, and then drive home from there. This is a last-minute trip, to go with Ann & Al. I don't know if the boat will have WiFi, but I'll be writing if I can.

But, if I don't show up for a week, don't panic! I'll be back.

A very good day!

Late again tonight - that's what playing bridge and talking with do with a time schedule. Ain't it great! Al is just mopping the floor with the rest of us. We change partners after each rubber, and he's been in the winning partnership in every rubber. We'll get him eventually, though.

This morning, we talked and looked at some old photo scrapbooks that John and Ann's mother had kept. They found lots of neat pictures and good memories.

We took the scenic route on our drive to Margaret's - over Walden's Ridge, across the Sequatchie Valley, and up onto the Cumberland Plateau. It took about a half-hour longer than the interstate, but a very pleasant drive. Sorry we don't get to share Bobby and Margaret's good food with everybody. They got some pulled pork BBQ, but had fresh corn and tomatoes, plus fried okra and green tomatoes from their garden. Just the finest kind of food! John drove over, and I drove back home on the interstate.

More bridge and talking before heading off to bed.

Today's picture is of Margaret, Bobby, Al and Ann.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sailing, sailing.....

We're taking off again. Ann & Al came in from CA today for the beginning of their trip on the paddlewheel boat, the Delta Queen. The trip leaves Friday going down the Tennessee River from Chattanooga to Memphis. There were a couple of cabins left, so we decided to go, too. It's still miserably hot, but we do enjoy traveling with A&A, so we're going. We board the boat on Friday afternoon sometime, and leave the downtown riverfront at 10 p.m. I'm going to take the laptop, but don't know whether I'll get any WiFi anywhere or not. I'll write and post photos when I can.

We took A&A out to dinner at our little Vietnamese place (there was no way I was going to heat up the house by cooking), and then we played bridge all evening. Heavenly!!!! Even if Al did get all the cards. I can see that we'll get a lot of bridge in on the bridge. Boo - sorry about the pun! (Well, I'm not REALLY sorry.)

We investigated flying home from Memphis, but the prices were ridiculous - the cheapest was $245 each for the one-way flight. We decided to rent a car at $129.00 for our return trip home.

Beth has seen the oncologist and will be starting her radiation treatments in a week or so. If we can work out the timing, I'll go with her to the initial visit and first treatment. Things are looking good on that front.

Today's picture is late evening in the Valley of the Gods.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Broken Record

It's a broken record sort of thing - hot, hot, and more hot. Boring, but certainly the main news event of the day around here. The "outdoor sauna" is getting kind of old. I'm just glad I live in the age of air conditioning!

The new cleaning lady came this morning. I think she's going to work out just fine. At least she didn't run screaming in horror. She did the bathrooms and kitchen very well, and vacuumed the living room and hall. She offered to come back next week, and really "do" the living room and anything she has time for, dusting all the stuff, and really getting a good baseline on it. If we're here, I'll accept. I think once she really gets things to her liking, we'll be able to cut back to maybe even just once a month. That would suit everybody

Ann & Al are due in tomorrow afternoon. It's always so great to spend time with them. At least the house looks some better. I don't plan to cook while they're here - it's just too hot to turn on the oven, or even to ask John to cook on the grill. I hope to get enough stuff off the dining room table so we can at least eat breakfast there. No way I'll get all that stuff tucked away somewhere.

We went to a Photo Society "social" tonight. We hadn't been to a meeting in a while, and it was good to see everybody. It's always a treat to see the good work that the members are doing.

Today's photo was taken last April in Colorado. Just something to make us feel a little cooler.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hot cards

The big news today - at least for me - was very good cards at bridge. My partners and I had some great cards, and I had a really big score! It's about time I had some good cards occasionally. It was a long dry spell until a few weeks ago. And I'm gonna enjoy it while it lasts!

It was SO good to get back into the pool, get some exercises, see all the folks, and get to coffee and chat at Panera Bread. You'd think we'd been out for a lot longer than a week. The fire seemed to be contained to the men's and women's dressing rooms - and all the rest has been cleaned up.

The weather hasn't changed any - high today 95. The predicted highs for the rest of the week range from 97-100, with heat indices from 105-112. Just miserable!

Nothing much else going on. So, as they way, if you haven't got anything to say, the least you can do is Shut Up! So, it's a short post tonight.

Today's photo is a way to take a self-portrait in the Valley of the Gods.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Absolutely nothing going on today. It's still hot - high of 96, with terrible humidity. Forecast highs for the week are all 95-100, with, of course, higher heat indices. We just had a brief, but heavy shower. It would've been nice if it had done that all night. As it it, it just contributes to the humidity.
The Market Street (Chief John Ross) Bridge had been closed for two years for a major repair/rebuild. The reopening festivities were last night, and the first vehicle, a CARTA bus, crossed at 8 a.m. We drove across the beautiful bascule drawbridge today, too. It's wonderful to have this major bridge reopened. It is sort of bittersweet, though after the tragedy in Minneapolis.
We did a bit more cleaning, and got some more pictures hung. I even cleaned the refrigerator - not that it needed it, though. And NO, nothing was sticking to the shelves - at least not yet.
We've been e-mailing with Troy about travel. He's going to be spending some time in Utah and Arizona, mostly taking photographs. A link to his photo page is in the list on the left side of this page. We truly love telling folks about the out-of-the-way places that we've found over the years. And, of course, it just makes us want to go again.
I finished the second surprise baby sweater this afternoon. It knits up in one piece, then magically folds into a sweater. Now I'm going to get started on Matt and Amanda's afghan.
Vicki's new mother-in-law died last night in Kansas. They've probably left to go there by now. Vicki was so looking forward to meeting her. Our deepest sympathy goes out to Vicki and Roger. He will miss her terribly.

Today's pictures are of the surprise baby sweater.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Better Friends

Today was really a scorcher (93 F and 99 F heat index), and the forecast for the next 7 days shows no relief. Highs predicted are from 93-97. At least, we got all the outside stuff done this morning. I made a trip to Target, and John mowed the yard.

Our YMCA reopened this morning, just a week after the fire. YEA!!!! I had to go over and see for myself. Other than the expected smoke smell, everything looked the same. Only the men's and women's dressing rooms were destroyed and were still blocked off. We'll be able to get access to anything that might have survived in our kit lockers in those rooms eventually (my ultra-valuable shampoo, flip-flops, water bottle, and comb). But at least our class will start back on Monday, and that's the most important thing.

Our purging and rearranging continues. Today we organized the mess of CDs, and got them on some new shelves. It wa amazing that we found only one jewel case with no CD - and it was a Jimmy Buffett, too. I'm sure it'll turn up somewhere, sometime. And maybe we'll listen to the CDs more, now that we can find what we want. We also managed to find homes for some small bronzes that had come from John's parents' home. We put out the word to the girls and grands, and got some takers.

We watched a PBS program called Anuna: Celtic Origins tonight. What wonderful sounds the human voice can produce. These are amazingly talented people. Watch and/or listen if you get the chance.

Talking about friendship, Leroy Sievers wrote yesterday about seeing a casual friend more often since he was diagnosed with cancer: ... it's a shame that the cancer made us better friends, or at least made us work a little harder to stay friends. We should have been doing that anyway. But there's always a reason not to -- work, other plans, just the normal things that can fill up all your time. And that can happen even when you have cancer. There are the demands of normal life, along with all the appointments and procedures, and the days when you just don't feel up to doing anything. But I realize now -- actually, I've known it all along -- that that's no excuse. I need to work at it more. I need to be a better friend.

And we found out today that an old friend who had been treated for throat cancer has just been found to have metastasis to the liver. Not good news today. I'll have to keep in touch more - and be a better friend.
Today's picture is evening at Valley of the Gods, Utah.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Things to ponder

I am feeling terribly virtuous today. John loaded all those garbage bags of stuff I've been collecting into the car. It totally filled up the trunk and half the back seat. I went to the GoodWill and they took it all. I didn't want a receipt, so didn't have to wait while they went through it. Or endure the humiliation when they didn't want any of it. Fortunately, they have a dumpster right next to their loading dock door, so they can just pitch it right there. But at least it's GONE!!!!

And then once the car was empty, I managed to get the car washed. I took it to what John calls "the expensive place". I want somebody else to do the washing, and I want the inside done. It had gotten pretty yucky looking, and I had promised that I would get it done before his sister and BIL got here.

Bill Moyers' Journal was not on tonight. Since PBS is having a begathon, our station showed an Elvis program. But he (Moyers, not Elvis) posted several questions on his web site. I don't have any answers to recommend, but they're guaranteed to make us think.

Since we all have different lives, and inhabit various circles, we are each affected by a diverse group of people. So who do you believe is worth remembering? Which individual, for good or ill, do you believe is most important for generations to come to understand and learn from? And why?

And then he writes in another segment: Barbara Ehrenreich said,"There was one woman who said something to me that was so poignant. Speaking of her hopes for the future, she said, 'My big wish would be to have a job which if I missed work one day, like for a child home sick or something, I would still be able to buy groceries for the next day.' And I thought, yeah, that's quite a hope." How would you define the American Dream? Has it changed for you over time? Do you think your children or even your grandchildren will define it the same way?

This one I can answer to some extent. I remember, when the girls were little, saying to a friend, "I guess being rich would be being able to have more than one pair of shoes for each kid." She said, "Being really rich would be having more than one coat." I guess using those criteria we're pretty rich now.

Our friend, Dalton Roberts, had another one of his exceptionally good columns in the paper today. Here's a link to Dalton Robert's column.

Today's picture was taken at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Oh, Joy!

Oh, Joy! Oh, Rapture! I have a cleaning lady. And not only that, but she is starting next Tuesday morning - the day before Ann & Al get here. What could be better than that!

It is just miserably hot and humid here. I really hate feeling like I need to take at least two showers every day, and change clothes a couple of times. But then, as John says, it's AUGUST - what do you expect! Well, OK - but I still don't have to like it.

YMCA update: They are working very hard to have at least part of the facility open by Saturday. When asked if it could be as long as another week, they said absolutely not. I do hope that's the case. I'm not going back to the downtown Y. I couldn't get any kind of a workout in that warm water.

The film of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis is awesome. What a terrible things to have experienced. Surely the loss of life will increase considerably as the vehicles are recovered from the river and in the crushed parts of the bridge. I hate to get a political question out of this tragedy, but it was mentioned on the news tonight that the Republican National Convention is to be in Minneapolis next summer. I have to wonder if there will be some really quick work done to get a new bridge built to replace this one. Could they do it in a year? How sad it is that our political situation is such that I would even consider such a possibility.

An interesting idea: a letter writer to the paper suggested that, if the Iraqui Parliament can take a month's vacation, the U.S. troops should also take a month's vacation. They could just stay in the camps and Green Zone, enjoy the air conditioning, and give Iraq the same attention the Parliament is giving to the country. Since the U.S. Congress is due to take a vacation later this month, perhaps the troops could take off then, too.

Today's photo is from a guest photographer. Gin & Jim have just discovered the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. They were nice enough to share some of their photos with us, and I'm going to share one with you.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tragedy in Minneapolis

The Minneapolis bridge collapse is incredible. What a tragedy and, at least so far, it sounds lke it could've been so much worse. How terrifying for those people. We'll be holding them all in our hearts and prayers.

I went to the downtown YMCA this morning for an exercise class. I had gone there for several years before the Y in our area got an indoor pool. I hope we get our back soon, because I don't know if I'll go back downtown. Everything is great, except the pool for classes is their "warm" pool. And rather than feeling like I had gotten some exercise and feeling energized, I felt just washed out. Once I got home this afternoon, I went to sleep almost as soon as I got in my chair, and slept for about an hour. You just can't work out as hard in that overly warm water. We'll keep hoping that we can get back "home" soon.

I did painting "repair" and "redo" today. That's one of the beauties of acrylics. If something just doesn't seem to be working, you can make changes. And, if all else fails, you can paint over it completely.

John and I watched The Boynton Beach Club this evening. This is a delightful movie, and if you haven't seen it, we highly recommend it. A really good evening's entertainment, with some great actors - Brenda Vaccarro, Len Carriou, Dyan Cannon, Joe Bologna, Michael Nouri, etc. And great music, too.

Today's picture shows the wide-open spaces in the Texas Panhandle.