Thursday, July 30, 2009

The summer doldrums

These must be the summer doldrums - that time between the excitement of the beginning of the summer, and the latter part where it's gets much hotter and more humid, and the back-to-school sales are starting up. We've definitely got that going on around here. Even the Thursday lunch bunch was relatively quiet today.

We took a bunch of books to the used book store. It has moved into a new building, and it is enormous. At least there is finally a large parking lot. And the store was very busy. They only took about 2/3 of the books we took, but we'll give those to the library book sale.

This evening we went to a program at the art museum. It was about (according to the Hunter e-mail) "the nocturnes of Frederic Remington and Frank Tenney Johnson. The works of Remington and Johnson are on exhibit at the Hunter Museum of American Art in Night Visions, a small focus exhibit on two paintings by these artists in conjunction with the exhibition Window on the West. Night Visions explores the nocturne as an art form and specific themes articulated in these paintings." It was an interesting program. We are so lucky to have such a special museum in our community.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taking a day off

Thanks for checking in, folks. I'm talking a day off today.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rain, Glorious Rain!!!

We had a lovely thunderstorm this afternoon. We kept the back door open for a while, just to be able to listen to the rain and thunder. It came down pretty hard, but there was no wind. We got 1.5" at our house. And we did need it.

John's cousin sent us a packet of brochures about the Finger Lakes area of NY. We've started doing some looking and research and planning. We talked to Ann & Al tonight about any preferences they might have. Basically they said for us to just go ahead and make whatever reservations we thought appropriate. It's just for a short time before the boat rental starts. The time is getting closer - and we're getting excited.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More Monday

The cards at bridge were so-so this afternoon. John did not have the best last round. He was playing against a husband/wife who should NEVER play together. The man is unpleasant on his best days, and the two of them were arguing over bidding and play. John actually got up and left the table two times - just walked away. As he said, he just doesn't have to listen to that stuff. That's why we quit playing duplicate all those years ago and have never had the urge to take it up again.

Here's a fun blog: It's Lovely! I'll Take It! These are unfortunate photos from actual real-estate ads. Enjoy

Sunday, July 26, 2009

At Home on Sunday

We both got some unaccustomed work done today. John worked in the yard early this morning - before it got so hot. I did the usual wash, and also did the kitchen and bathroom floors. Somehow my mop had disappeared, and I had to make a quick run to Walmart to blow $5.00 on a new mop. I'm going to stop my housecleaning service. After several months, we've decided that we really don't get that dirty, and that we didn't feel we were getting enough cleaning for our money. Oh, well. We'll make it work.

I've really been gorging on the tomatoes. They are SO good. Plus I fixed some squash and green beans for supper tonight. Allan came over to share in the goodies. Veggies and barbecue. We got some BBQ yesterday from a charity BBQ sale, and it was JUST right!

I just found out that Pat Conroy has a new book, South of Broad, coming out on 11 August. I've already pre-ordered it for my Kindle.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

T-shirt quilts

These are photos of the two t-shirt quilts. We hung them off the deck railing for John to take the photos.

The first one is the smaller one, made up of different, colorful, and at least somewhat special ones. I won't take up the space to write captions for each square.

The larger is made of shirts we got during various travels.

The quilts are backed with an off-white muslin, and the squares are separated with and the edges bound with blue fabric. All the quilting is machine done. I'm quite pleased with them.

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Summer bounty

I'll be making two entries tonight. The photos of the t-shirt quilts are on the other computer, so I'll post them from that one later.

We both worked at the Library's wrap-up event for the Children's Summer Reading Program this morning. It was held in the open-air pavilion downtown. It was hot today, but we were in the shade, and there was usually a nice breeze. We were at the Creative Chemistry table where the kids made slime. What great fun! We helped in the "prep area", getting the stuff ready. This is the recipe for this nasty stuff: Put about one tablespoon of Elmer's glue in a baggie; add a drop of food coloring. This is given to the kid who schmooses it up to distribute the color. Then the volunteer adds some water/borax solution to the mix, and it's schmoosed up some more. The stuff sort of solidifies and turns into something like a lump of slick and slimy chewed gum. Yuck! - and, of course, the kids love it. John got the bags ready for filling, and I added the glue.

I didn't take my camera, so no photos from there (sorry, I'll do better next year). We met up with Margaret to trade off stuff. We got a trunk full of goodies from their garden, including my first REAL tomatoes this year. There is absolutely no better eating. Plus she brought summer squash, zuccini, okra, and green beans. On the way home, we went by a Kiwanis fund-raising BBQ sale and got some pulled pork. We will be eating well for a while.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

What do you do with old t-shirts?

Before we left for the beach, I started a project that I'd had in the back of my mind for some time. I'd been saving up some of the "better" t-shirts to take to a local quilt shop to have a quilt made from them. I took them about the end of June.

They called yesterday to tell me that the two quiilts were ready. I picked them up this morning, and I'm really pleased with them. The smaller one used shirts that were just fun or special in some way. The larger one is made up of shirts from places where we have traveled. I'll get some photos taken this weekend to share.

Here are some more sunset photos from the beach. Sometimes you just can't avoid the power lines - just be aware of them and use them as a design element.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beach sunset

Here are some sunset photos from the beach.
We really miss being able to see sunsets from our home.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beach pictures

Today was a very quiet day. I'll just post some photos from the beach.

Facing into the wind, after the storm.

Storm sculpture.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Lovely Day!

There's a huge front/rain system headed our way from the west. We're not supposed to get much, if any, rain out of it, though. That's not unusual. Frontal systems hit the Cumberland Plateau and mountains west of us and to what the weather folks call "The Chattanooga Split". The fronts will divide and slip north and/or south of us. It does happen a lot - you can watch it on the radar.

We tied a record low of 60 last night. We ate out on the porch again tonight, with the ceiling fan turned on - temperature about 82 - it was quite comfortable. I broiled some grouper filets, and they were SO good!

John and I both worked at the library for about an hour today, "deprocessing" books. As I've said, these are books that are being discarded by the library for one reason or another, and will be available at the upcoming book sale at the end of August. What we do is scut-work. The skilled workers sort those book into subject matter to get it ready to be taken to the book sale.

Today's photo is of a sea turtle nest in front of the house next door to ours. It's so great that the turtles are returning to the Fort Morgan area to lay their eggs.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

To the PA

I saw the Physician's Assistant (PA) this morning. He said that, to him, it looked like atopic dermatitis - 0ne of those nasty things with no specific cause, and not much in the way of treatment. He appreciated it when I told him that I'd like to get some alleviation of the symptoms, without totally masking the problem, until I saw the dermatologist in midAugust. He did prescribe some nonsteroidal cream to try. And he suggested that we get some photos of the affected areas, so that if it cleared up more, I could show that to the doctor. I with I had thought of that over the weekend, when it was much worse. I'll take pity on you and not share any of those photos with you. Yuck!

The cards were mostly pretty good today at bridge, but I managed to pull some incredibly stupid plays. I just HATE it when that happens. I think I still had a pretty good score. John had at least one great round (not when he was playing with me, though).

Instead of yucky stuff, I'll share a photo of the full moon while we were at the beach.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday, Sunday

The itching has been better today, but I've been quite liberal using cortisone cream. So far, that's the only thing that's seemed to help. I'm going to skip swimming in the morning and go to see the PA in the doc's office. I want to see if there's something they can get me to help with the symptoms without masking them so much that the dermatologist can't make a diagnosis.

It's delightfully cool here, and we're really enjoying it. I marinated a pork loin, John cooked it on the grill, and we ate on the porch. Allan came over, and brought some fresh green beans and tomatoes that he had gotten this morning at the Chattanooga Market (locally grown). A delicious meal.

I did get our usual laundry done, plus we stripped the beds, washed sheets, and remade them. Always good to get that done.

We had a special treat - we got to see all of An American in Paris. That's such a terrific movie. And this was on TCM with no commercials and uncut. There were scenes I'd swear I've never seen before.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

The itch has me

This itching rash has been driving me nuts today, and I really can't think about anything else. And, certainly, nobody else wants to hear about it. I do have an appointment with a dermatologist, but not for another month.

At least the weather is cooler today, with a high of only 81. We've had the back door open nearly all day. It's lovely tonight, listening to the crickets serenading us.

And now I'm off to apply some more lotion, take a benadryl, and hope to get to sleep.

Friday, July 17, 2009

No compromises!

On Friday nights, we watch the line-up on our local PBS station. In our area, first is Washington Week in Review. That's followed by a local program with a similar format. There are usually two elected officials or activists, one each Democrat and Republican; one TV reporter; and one reporter from the local newspaper or a radio station. One of the discussions concerned the Senate hearings for Supreme Court Justice nominee, Sonya Sotomayor. The Republican panelist could say absolutely nothing new about Sotomayor - he went on and on about how awful she was. How he would never vote for her and there should be no compromise.

Following that program, Bill Moyer's Journal was on. The first two guests were from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. They had supported Obama, but now were furious with him. The President had not ignored everything else and concentrated on the climate/global warming. They took him to task for compromising with the opposition.

These are perfect examples of what Dalton Roberts talked about in his column this morning. I was already planning to share the column with you for my blog tonight. And then there were these two interviews tonight as a lead-in. And now I'll turn the blog over to Dalton.

By Dalton Roberts
Chattanooga Times Free Press

One thing that's wrong with America is as plain as the nose on your face. And in case your nose has been removed, it's as plain as that strange-looking place where your nose used to be.

From my peephole, here it is: we have screamed at each other so much that we literally detest everyone who is not just like us. If we are liberals, we detest all the conservatives. If we are conservatives, we hate all the liberals.

As I pointed up in a precious column, we would not have Social Security and Medicare if members of both parties had not put it together. Call it socialism if you wish, but good ideas are non-partisan. If helping old people live their final days decently and die with a little dignity isn't a good idea, I don't know what is.

If it had not been for Republican senator George Norris of Nebraska, there might have never been a Tennessee Valley Authority to lift several states out of the economic Stone Age. Some called it "socialism," too.

I am thinking if we could homogenize Democratic senators Humphrey and Proxmire with Republicans Goldwater and Norris, and then clone such an advanced being, we could find solutions to all of our challenges. Well, at least it would be an incredible experiment,

We call TV news analysts "talking heads" but there are no talking heads.
There are only screaming heads. The one getting in the most licks is always the one who is rudest and screams loudest. Even one of the presidential debates this last election season resembled a bar room brawl more than a debate.

The truth is there are no more liberals or conservatives. The liberals perished with Truman and the conservatives passed with Goldwater. We have screamed at each other until we have all gone off the deep end and are blithering radical idiots and it is all about the use of government power. Each group wants to use it to punish those who disagree with them and to reward their own kind.

One thing that would help civilize America again would be to require that all debates be conducted with standard debate rules with timed openings, rebuttals and closes.

When I was in office and was invited to debate, I always said, "Yes, if it is a standard debate." I simply would not debate without a moderator and a timer. Otherwise, you foster screaming and other disrespectful behavior.

Why is this so important? One word: respect. After the debate the debaters must return to working with each other and we cannot work with those who have screamed away our respect.

When I was president of the Young Democrats and my friend, the Honorable Judge Ted Milburn, was president of the Young Republicans, we had such a debate. Instead of it driving us apart, we developed a deeper respect for each other and have remained friends through all these years.

We will not survive as the democracy our founders envisioned if we develop a pendulum government where the radical right governs for 4-8 years and then the radical left governs a while. For starters, we must become civil with each other. It de-radicalizes people to work together.

Somehow we must become idea oriented. We must become solution-minded. It might require dropping parties and letting people run on their own merits and advance the ideas they think will foster progress. Every time I question the value of the two-party system, someone calls me a dreamer. I am certain we could dream up a better way to do our country's business. I am certain nothing is going to work unless we can become civil toward each other and respectful of all views.

We don't need screaming heads. We need people who will shut their mouths long enough to listen to others. And that means standard debates.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A bowl of cherries

I went to a different supermarket today - just a brief visit to get some things that I've found only there, and to take advantage of some items on sale. You know how I despise going to the store, but this is a nice store and does have some good sales. For instance, they had Zatarain's rice mixes, buy one - get one free. I always keep those on hand, so I got stocked up.

I also tried a product new to me - Rainier cherries. These reminded me of the canned Queen Anne cherries that I always liked as a child. But, according to Google, they are two separate varieties. Anyhow, they have a good flavor. Give them a try sometime.

Here's a different Bowl of Cherries (sorry - couldn't resist).

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Books, books, and more books

Another hot day today - about 93 and humid. But it's supposed to "cool off" for the next few days - down into the 80s. It'll be a nice change.

I had a fairly short day at the gallery. After lunch, I headed to the library to help with some "deprocessing". The library has been purging the shelves, getting rid of books that are very old and/or out-of-date (like a computer programming book from the 1970s) and/or rarely checked out. The library staff pulls the books off the shelves, boxes them and takes them to a storage area. These will be offered to the public at the Friends' book sales during the year.

But first, the label on the book spine is marked through with a felt-tipped marker. Then, any place on the book with the name of the library has to be overstamped with the word "Discarded". There are anywhere from one to six places where the library name might be stamped, usually depending on the age of the book. After the volunteer (me) marks the book, the library staff person and the head of the book sales divide the books into the categories (fiction, sports, travel, religion, etc.) used at the sales. As the areas fill up, the books are then placed in appropriately labeled boxes, and put in a storage area to await the sale.

It's pretty mindless work, and not really hard, but it is something that needs to be done. John and I are both going to try to help out a couple of hours a week. Amazingly, I only brought two books home. One was an Ivan Doig book we hadn't read and another was an old book I got for a gift.

I'm looking foward to sleeping later in the morning. Hope it happens.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Lisa Bentley is one of our "beach bums", a professional dancer and make-up artist, and a very special lady. Check out this video of her dancing. It's a long video, but worth watching.
Click here to watch.

The gallery got rearranged a bit while I was gone. It looks good, though. We're featuring all of the group this month - with no solo show scheduled until next month. I stayed all day, since I had a Friends of the Library council meeting at 4:30. There was some controversy about some personality conflicts during the meeting this time, and it ran almost 2 hours. Personal dynamics and clashes can be most interesting - when you're not one of those involved. Fortunately, I wasn't. And, as usual, I was oblivious to the various cliques and rivalries. I'm SO out of place in this group - and really feel that I don't have much to contribute. I'll stick with it, though - at least through the end of my term (December 2010).

I've been doing a lot of knitting of different things lately. I finished a short-sleeved, light-weight sweater for Jean to wear over tank-top dresses to work. I got that mailed off to her this morning. And I've started another one today. Also, I'm doing one of the baby "surprise sweaters" for one of the swimmers' first grandbaby, due in October.

Today's photo is the shrimp boat that was regularly working the water along our beach. We thought it would be nice if he would just make deliveries to our door, but alas.....

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Back to the grindstone

Enough of the lying around and doing nothing. Today was the catch-up-after-vacation day.

It was great to get back to swimming. It feel good, and it's always good to see the friends again. Not necessarily so go to go to Aldi's and Wal-Mart to restock the larder. Even the car needed fueling.

It was good to get back to bridge, too. Except the cards were lousy - and the few we had, we played poorly. Oh well, we just have to get back in the swing of things.

When we got home, we finally started tackling the held mail. And, lo and behold, there was the feared letter from the IRS. As expected, it was a form letter saying that our check had been returned for "insufficient funds", and we should pay up the amount, plus a penalty. On the form, it said that you could write an explanation to ask for "relief" from the penalty. We've now written the letter, and are waiting for an OK from our CPA before sending it off to them. The penalty wasn't enormous, but we still thought we'd try to get it waived. Stay tuned!

We're still thinking about the good food at the beach. This is a typical supper plate-ful. From center right, going clockwise, there is corn (from Margaret), blue crabs ready for picking, red sauce, boiled shrimp, and Caesar salad. Yum!

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stormy weather

It's starting to storm here, so I'll be brief.

We had a great storm one day at the beach. There was a lot of lightening before it started getting light. Later on the wind was really strong, with and the rain was pelting the windows.

The first photo is John enjoying some porch time. The second one shows what all that wind can do to those molded plastic chairs.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back from the beach

We got home about 5:30 ET. It was a great week, but we're always tired after the long drive home. We unpacked the necessities, but the "beach boxes" will keep until tomorrow to go through and repack for next year. We did have great luck with the traffic. Driving down on the fourth meant that all the construction projects were stopped for the weekend. And when we drove through Montgomery, the back-up at construction sites was in the south-bound lanes. We smiled a lot about that!

We stopped and got peaches for Margaret and Wanda to put up. I just snagged a few of them when we got home. They're out on the porch ripening up a big more. Sue had brought some from SC to the beach, and they were delicious! Margaret brought blackberries and blueberries, and got some nectarines, so we had fresh cut-up fruit every morning with breakfast. It makes us feel healthier about consuming all that cholesterol that we have for the rest of the meal. Cutting up the fruit is my contribution to breakfast.

We had gorgeous weather most of the time. We even got two days when there were strong breezes and low enough humidity to sit outside on the porch to read/knit/talk. We did have one day of storms, but that was even fun to watch - I love watching the weather over the ocean. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

We started out with a high number of 22, and ended up with 12. We are certainly lucky to have such a great group of family and friends.

This photo is the FMOF&BSS (the Fort Morgan Old Farts and BS Society).
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Monday, July 06, 2009

A short hiatus

We are at the Fort Morgan area of Gulf Shores, AL - just east of the mouth of Mobile Bay. The drive down on the 4th was relatively easy. We didn't see any of the big fireworks displays in the area - we're too far from the center of town. And there were just a few folks setting off stuff in the neighborhood.

All is great here, though. We have almost a full house this year, with 22 folks through tomorrow, then four will be leaving.

We've had storms today - so no swimming, but I love to see the stormy weather over the water (as long as it doesn't last TOO long). Some folks have gone into town to do various kinds of shopping. Others are just hanging out - reading, knitting, sleeping, computering - all that vacation type of stuff.

I've made our reservations for next year. And John and I are looking at the possibilities of a small house to rent for a week this winter - just for us.

Friday, July 03, 2009

12 hours

In 12 hours,we'll be on our way!

I worked at the gallery until I closed up at 2. I did a small watercolor, but mostly read and knitted. We had a couple of people come in. We DO love that drop-in traffic. It'd be getter if they'd buy something, but they've got to come in the door first.

Margaret got here this afternoon, and the car is packed except for the cameras and computers and the stuff from the fridge/freezer. Plus we put some stuff in Allan's car.

I don't have a formal check-list for packing, but I do have a couple of big plastic boxes where I keep stuff that doesn't get used except at the beach. For instance, some old towels, bath mats, left-over soap, dishwashing liquid, non-perishable stuff. And I keep a list in the top of each box. And there are big grocery stores and a WalMart in town, so getting something we forgot is no problem. We don't try to take everything, just get it locally.

It's been a lovely day today - warm, but with low humidity. We had carry-out Chinese for supper, and we ate out on the porch. It was very comfortable. But dinner tomorrow will be better!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Day after tomorrow

We had a good lunch, but only four of us there. We still talked a lot. We had the buffet, but managed to not overdo (for a change). Good Southern food. But they did have one thing we'd never seen before. Fried macaroni and cheese fritters!!!! I thought I'd seen everything in the world fried, including fried ice cream, fried Twinkies, and fried dill pickles. But fried macaroni & cheese?????? Guess what - we didn't even try it.

We'll be at the beach in less than 48 hours!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Short-timer's attitude

I've got a BAD case of almost-ready-to-go-to-the-beach syndrome. We are getting things consolidated and piled by the front door.

I ordered some yarn from a place Essie recommended and it came today. It surely is pretty. John's been fighting to get it wound. It's nubby and handspun, so not super smooth. They are great color and feel, though. I may be doing another short sweater for Jean out of the color she chooses.

It's still in the 90s, but with the lower humidity. Our week at the beach shows a typical phone-in forecast: highs in the mid90s, lows around 80, with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms.