Monday, December 31, 2012

A great visit!

We’ve had a great couple of days. Some of the SC/CA folks (Randy, Sarah, Alison, and Joe) came in on Saturday afternoon. We had a great time to visit - not too hectic.

We managed to give California Joe another rite of passage into the South - Randy took him to get some Krystals. (If you don’t know about Krystals, click here  .)  Joe said he appreciated the experience, but said it was probably going to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for him.

Alison is going to be teaching an upper level course in invertebrate biology at the University of San Diego in the spring semester. This is the first post-doc job for the new PhD in Oceanography.

We had a nice quiet dinner and watched a lot of football. This morning, the folks headed back to the Atlanta airport and to SC.

Here are the photos of Alison, Joe, and Sarah.

Update: Carol was due to have her back surgery New Year’s morning. Unfortunately, there was some huge screw-up with the insurance company and, because of the holidays, the surgery been postponed for possibly two weeks. That’s two more weeks of pain and flat-on-the-back-in-the-bed. We’re hoping it won’t take that long.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday snowflake

Another relatively quiet day today. It's still cold and dreary and I saw a few snowflakes just before supper. We'll be getting a group of South Carolina and California family folks tomorrow. Randy, Sarah, Alison and her husband Joe. They should get here about noon, and leave about noon on Monday. Alison and Joe will head back to CA, Randy and Sarah heading back to SC.

I'm going to fix a pork loin for dinner tomorrow, and have some breakfast goodies for Monday morning. So not too much trouble. It's always good to see them.

I'm not a football watcher, but our alma mater, Rice, beat Air Force decisively in the Armed Forces Bowl this afternoon. Back in the Dark Ages, when we were there, Rice had a pretty good football team, but haven't in years and years. It'll be wild on campus in Houston tonight.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Almost the end of 2012

It’s been a gray day with off-and-on rain and sleet.

I did some grocery shopping at Publix this morning after swimming, coffee, and a massage. That's a really nice store, with great staff - lots of good store brands. I would like to try to go there maybe 1-2 times a month. This time, particularly, I was going for some meat. They were having a sale on a standing rib roast for $6.49/pound (a little less than half the usual price), and they'll cut it up into steaks of any thickness you want. So they can be individually wrapped and frozen - and you get the bones for soup, too. It's quite a bargain. I also got a pork loin to fix for dinner Sunday night when the folks are here.

Our friend, Carol, who fell and fractured her L1 vertebra, has had things moved up a bit, due to the amount of pain she's having. She had an MRI tonight, and is scheduled to have surgery on New Year's Day morning. The plan is to inject cement/epoxy/whatever into the cracks to stabilize the vertebra and get the pressure off the spinal column. She manages well as long as she gets her pain meds on time, but she‘s surely ready for surgery and some relief. A tough time for them.

What a contrast between the old and the new - Taormino, Sicily


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Only a photo

Taormina, Sicily

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Charles Durning, RIP ( February 28, 1923 – December 24, 2012)

Charles Durning has died. What a marvelous character actor! And what a marvelous man! He could make us laugh and he could make us cry.

Did you know he was in the first wave that landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, 6 June 1944? And was the only survivor from his group?

Did you know he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star?

Did you know he was awarded the French Legion of Honor?
Click here to go to the Wikipedia biography of Durning.
He was great as the Governor in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  But my very favorite role of his was in the 2004 episode of NCIS, "Code of Silence".   Click here to go to the IMDb page for this episode and a link to watch the episode.  This is an amazing story on its own, but even more so when you know Durning's history.

One of his co-stars in this episode, Pauley Perette (Abby), posted this on Twitter on Christmas Day:
R.I.P. Our Beloved Charles Durning.  Forever "Corporal Yost" on #NCIS.  We love him so much!  Actor, War Veteran, Legend.  

(This is not to slight Jack Klugman, the other great actor we lost this week.) 


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to all! and Thanks, Bev!

I hope everybody’s had a wonderful Christmas Day and Holiday Season (whatever your holiday of choice might be).

It was exceptionally quiet around here. We did talk with all of our loved ones. The weather was grey and misty all day, and finished off with some real rain. At least we’re not getting the snow that’s happening north of here.

We have started a new Christmas dinner tradition tonight. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Bev, for mentioning Dungeness crabs. We found them at our local Whole Foods store. They were cooked and flash frozen. All I had to do was steam them to thaw and heat, make some lemon-butter sauce, get out a roll of paper towels, and enjoy. I didn’t think to take pictures, so this will have to do.


Monday, December 24, 2012

How did you spend YOUR Christmas Eve?

We went to the Y this morning. John slogged away on the elliptical machine and I did about 40 minutes of workout in the pool. No class this morning - I was just on my own.

Next we went to Whole Foods and got a couple of Dungeness crabs for our special Christmas meal. I've never been to a Whole Foods before - and probably won't go again. I thought I'd get a few other things, but WOW! they think highly of what they sell. The crabs are special and not easily found around here. But I'm not about to pay those prices for lettuce or oranges. We stopped at another store on the way home and got some "regular stuff".

Later in the afternoon, we went to visit for a while with Carol and Stephen. Carol’s our friend who hurt her back a few days ago. She’s doing well so far with her bed rest - pain can be a very definite taskmaster. We’re just trying to help her get through the few more days until she can get the MRI and find out what treatment will be recommended.

It’s going to be a rainy Christmas around here. Santa is going to have a tough time tonight, getting through the heavy local fog, but I imagine he’ll get his rounds made.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Quiet Sunday

Very quiet day today. Margaret spent the night last night, but left right after breakfast.

Work for the day consisted of our changing the sheets on the beds, after turning the mattresses, and doing the laundry. Naps were taken, exercise sessions were done, and football games happened.

And that pretty much takes care of the day. 
Old wall in Taormina, Sicily - amazing how much they look like the ancient Anazasi and pueblo walls in the desert Southwest of the US.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Good thoughts, please

Margaret and John went to Knoxville to the Lady Vols/Stanford game. It wasn’t pretty - Stanford won, 73-60. Glad they had nice weather for driving, and didn‘t have any trouble with traffic.

A good friend here fell on some steps in her house a couple of days ago, sustaining a 1/2 to 2/3 compression fracture of the L1 vertebra. We went over to see her for a few minutes this morning. X-rays have been taken, but because of the holidays and waiting for things to settle down around the area, it'll be ten days before they do an MRI. Then they'll decide what treatment needs to be done. In the meantime, she's mostly bed-bound, pretty much flat on her back, and taking pain meds. I'm sure the swim group will be taking food over the next days and weeks. She says right now, she needs company - just lying there is pretty boring. I don't know what their holiday plans were - they have no children. But they do have a new puppy, so her husband is going to having lots to do for a while. Good thoughts are definitely appreciated.

Taormino, Sicily


Friday, December 21, 2012

It's only fair - two "modest proposals"

L’empress, who lives in Connecticut, writes eloquently today in her blog A Place of My Own, about last week's tragedy in Newtown, CT.  After reading it this morning, I heard the remarks of the head of the NRA concerning the murders.

In response to his recommendation to put an armed guard in every school in the country, John and I each have a “modest proposal”.

I think that if the NRA thinks there should be an armed guard in every school, the NRA should pay for it. Pay for all the salaries AND benefits for these full-time employees, plus their uniforms, training, guns, and ammunition. It’s only fair.

From another perspective, John suggests that the costs of these guards should be paid for by taxes on the sale of guns and ammunition. This could be something on the order of $500 on each weapon sold, plus $2 per round of ammunition - both new and resale, whether in stores, gun shows, or between private parties. Again, this would be used to pay all the expenses for the guard force. It’s only fair.

Think of all the money that is now spent on the resource officers in about 2/3 of the schools. Either of the plans would save the communities and school systems this money - money that could then be put into school facilities and maintenance, teachers, materials, etc.  It's only fair.


Mt. Etna on a lovely clear day in Taormina, Sicily.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Basketball and travel

Just didn’t get in yesterday. I wasn’t where I could get internet access for a while - but we were having a great time.

We left about noon yesterday to go to Auburn, AL, to visit a friend (Hi, Sue) and to see our Lady Mocs play the Auburn Lady Tigers. Sue is a fan of women’s basketball too, and she invited us to come down, spend the night with her, and go to the ballgame. Unfortunately, our Ladies lost 53-40 in a brutal defensive game (SEC teams - watch out for Auburn!). But we had a good visit and got to know an internet friend better in person.

Today, it took us about four hours to get home, driving through the rain all the way. We went straight through Atlanta this time, so we could get in the HOV lane. It made driving in the rain much easier - no worrying about trucks and having to change lanes, etc. We got delayed by back-ups from a couple of accidents, but nothing too bad - and at least we weren’t involved.

We had 1.5” of rain in our gauge from last night and today. The rain had stopped by the time we got home. And since the front roared through, the winds have been fierce. But I could our blessings - we’re not getting the 8-12” of snow the states in the Middle West are getting.

Tomorrow we plan to do next to nothing.


Our ship (350 passengers) is the little one on the right.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Good Tuesday

Groceries. Car wash.
Sunshine. Good lunch with Sandy.
Visit with Vicki.
Our tour went to the old town up in the saddle between the two peaks.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Humdrum day!

Just another hudrum Monday. 

I'm so glad to be getting back into the swimming class.  I can really move the arm a lot in the water, and I know it's a good thing. 

A bunch of the swimmers went  out to lunch with one of the gals who has moved.  She was back in town for a visit, and this was a chance to get together and catch up. 

Things change so quickly in bridge.  Two weeks ago, John came in with the high score and I was second.  Last week, he was high again, and I came in third.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.  I can't remember when I've had cards as bad as those I had today.  Oh, well - the pendulum does swing.

So much for Monday. 

Taormino, Sicily. 
Check out the elevated highway.  No question that Sicily is mountainous.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

We weep

We weep for children.

We weep for parents and town.

We weep for the world.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

PT and music

The therapy supervisor measured my range of motion today (which is pretty good), and gave me several new exercises to increase the active range - stuff with resistance bands. She asked me to gauge where I thought I was in relation to when I started - with 0% being where I started and 100% being where I was before the accident (or where I wanted to be). Hard to judge, but I said I thought I was about 70-75%. With only myself to go by, I think that’s pretty good for not quite two months after the replacement. These new exercises are tough, but I know I need to do them, increase them, and to add weights to the ones I’ve been doing if I want to get that additional 25%.

We went to String Theory tonight at the museum. There were only two pieces, and by composers unfamiliar to us. The first one by Kirchner was not one we liked - just too unmelodic and atonal. The second selection was by Korngold, and although contemporary and unusual, it was one we liked. All in all, this is such a great series and such an asset to our city.
This is probably my favorite back street picture from Codrfu, Greece.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Restaurant Review

You may or may not know that Chattanooga has always been a rail hub. That’s what made it a strategic factor in the Civil War, and it’s still true. What does this have to do with restaurants I hear you ask?

One of the railroad companies has just built a small motel-like facility for the use of rail employees who have to stay in the area overnight or long enough that a motel room would be of benefit. It’s not a public facility, only for the employees. They also built a small eatery, open 24/7. Track’s End is open to the public.

Track’s End is on our way as we headed in to the basketball game (Lady Mocs 72, Jacksonville State 59) this evening, so we decided to give it a try. It’s very small (four 4-seat tables, a counter with stools, and maybe eight booths.

I didn’t read the whole menu carefully - they had country fried steak, and that’s always my choice in places like this. I also got a house salad, greens (kale, I think), and cornbread. John also ordered the country fried steak, with soup, French fries, and cornbread.

The steak was very good - could’ve used more gravy, but that was minor. My salad with blue cheese dressing and greens were excellent. I didn’t like the corn bread - too much like cake. John liked the steak, too. He said his soup was good, but not hot enough, the fries were just adequate, and he agreed about the cornbread.

All in all, though for diner food, it was pretty good, and we’ll probably stop there again as we go to ballgames. Next time, I might order just a salad or soup and have some dessert. They had five different kinds of home-made pie. It looked like one of those places where occasionally you might get your dessert first.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Busy, busy!

A busy day, and a good one.

I went for my next-to-last (so far) scheduled physical therapy treatment. The therapist says I have 100% passive range of motion, and am doing well working on the active part. She’s added 1-2 pound weights to various exercises. And I’ll keep working in the pool, too.

Vicki had a holiday drop-in around noon-time. She’s a wonderful cook, so the food was terrific. It’s always great to see her, and we got to see some of the old crowd from Vicki’s Studio II painting classes. It was very special.

Tuesday has been my usual grocery day, so I decided to go do that when I got home from the party. Not my smartest move! Both Aldi andWalMart were really crowded, with long lines at the check-outs. Oh, well - I’ll take that as an object lesson.

I hope you NCIS fans saw tonight’s program (“Devil‘s Trifecta“). It was SO funny! As much as we love this program, I can’t remember the last time we laughed out loud so many times. If you missed it, watch for the reruns, or pick it up On Demand. And even NCIS-LA was funny. I don’t know what got into them tonight.


To us, the best part of this travel is walking around the back lanes of these towns (Corfu).


Monday, December 10, 2012

"We're No Angels"

We watched one of our favorite old movies last night on TCM. "We're No Angels"  
(1955) stars Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray. Netflix summarizes it:

Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov play three escaped inmates who hatch a plan to steal from a shopkeeper on Christmas. But their plans change when they find themselves actually growing to like their target and his family. Besides, the luckless merchant is apparently about to lose his shirt, as his business is unraveling. So, instead of robbing him, the convicts decide to help him, a mission that proves wildly complicated.

If you’ve not seen this delightful movie, give it a try sometime.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Silent Sunday

Back lane in Corfu, Greece

Saturday, December 08, 2012


What an exciting day today!

  • Slept until 7:30.
  • Ate breakfast, read the paper, did computer stuff, did exercises, took a nap.
  • Ate lunch.
  • Took a nap.
  • Listened to the Lady Mocs totally dominate Alabama, 72-58!
  • Ate supper.
  • Watched a fascinating documentary.
The Rape of Europa is a 2007 documentary based on a book of the same name by Lynn H. Nichols. The envelope from Netflix says “Joan Allen narrates this documentary that chronicles 12 years of the Nazis’ pillaging works of art throughout Europe and the international effort to locate, protect and return millions of valuable treasures. The film traces the story of art lovers and everyday heroes who tried to thwart the looting Nazis and reveals how experts from Europe and the United States are working to recover priceless works of art missing or hidden for decades.”  Definitely worth watching.

Friday, December 07, 2012

A busy Friday

Margaret, Jesse, his lady friend Ashley, her daughter Maddy, and their friends Marcus and Danielle came for dinner and to visit. They came over in the afternoon, came by the house to leave some food Margaret was bringing, and then they headed out to the zoo. I got out a lasagna and bread, Margaret brought corn, salad, stuff, and made banana pudding. Yum!

We’d done some minimal child-proofing of the house. It’s been a long time since there’s been a 2-year-old around here. The really breakable stuff went out of sight. Other stuff just got left out. Maddy was really very good. She wanted to touch some of the things, and we let her (with supervision) - that’s why we left them out.

It was a nice visit. They left about 8:30, but we were exhausted. It was mostly a chance for us to meet Ashley and Maddy, and for them to get together with their friends from VA. It was great that the two couples enjoyed visiting so much. And Maddy, is so cute, and really well behaved.


We’ve made our first travel reservations for 2013. We’ve been looking at Blount Small Ship Advenures catalogs for several years, and the right conditions finally arrived. They were having a 2-for-the-price-of-1 sale (ending today) for several trips, one of which was from New Orleans, through the intracoastal waterway to Mobile, up the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway to the Tennessee River. The trip then goes down the Tennessee, almost to the Ohio River, then back up the Cumberland River to Nashville. We’ve been on part of this trip on other ships, but it’s a lovely area. Click here  to see the web page for this trip.


This is the old and the older, Corfu, Greece.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Thursday miscellany

After the PT session this morning, I got in some walking. Well, it was walking the aisles in Costco. But that can be a lot. Of course, we did also get our gourmet lunch of the Polish hot dogs and a drink.


We’ll be hosting Margaret, Jesse, his lady friend Ashley, her daughter Maddy, and some of their friends for dinner Friday night. We haven’t had a 2-year-old in the house for quite some time, so we’ll have to do some putting-up-stuff tomorrow. Margaret’s going to bring part of the dinner, and I’ll get getting a lasagna out of the freezer. That does make a good easy meal.


The freezer is emptying out. Probably after the first of the year, with more mobility in this shoulder, I’m going to have to be doing some cooking. We’re out of everything I usually stock in the freezer - no more meat loaf, no lasagna, no chili, and only a couple of bags of split pea soup. Time to get busy. 


The lower fort from the upper fort, Corfu, Greece.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Quiet week

It’s been so quiet around here, I haven’t had anything to write about.

About all that’s on the schedule this week is swimming classes on MWF, and PT sessions on Tues/Thurs. We may go to CostCo tomorrow for our monthly trip.

Friday will be special when we get to see Margaret, Jesse, and his friends. More about that when we get some details.
Lighthouse, upper fort, Corfu


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Just another Tuesday

From an exciting Monday, we backed off to the routine.  I went to PT, Aldi, and WalMart.  Wow - the excitement of it all.

Not routine, was that John got to row again today.  That's very unusual - for him to get in some lovely rowing days in December.  That made it even more special.
Another photo from our trip last spring - the harbor at Corfu, Greece.

Monday, December 03, 2012

What a day!

What an amazing Monday!

We knew today was the day that Alison was to defend her PhD thesis, but it went on from there. Unfortunately we weren’t able to be there in person, but we were part of the invisible crowd in the room supporting her.

The day started with my going to swimming. I got back in the deep end with the class for the first time since the replacement. It surely did feel good!

This strange warm December weather gave John another great row today. It might be the last one of the season, but he said it was fantastic.

He was going to contact somebody today to see about getting the leaves blown off the roof and the gutters. A yard guy was doing our neighbor’s yard. John asked him what he’d charge to do our roof. John gave him the $30 he asked for, and the job was done immediately. They even cleaned off the leaves that fell on the sidewalk. And that was just this morning.

We went to bridge and had terrific cards. We started off playing together, and had two 700 rubbers in the first round. John probably had over 7000 points for the afternoon, and will surely come in first.

What a day!

May I present

Dr. Alison Cawood

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Nothing going on

The Lady Vols had an easy time with UNC this afternoon.  And that was about the extent of the excitement today.

Hope y'all had a great first weekend in December!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Basketball and leaves

Basketball and leaves - it must be late fall.

The Lady Mocs pretty much demolished the Furman Lady Paladins tonight, 83-40. I do hope the little boy who was sitting behind me was indeed suffering from allergies, as his grandfather said several times. He certainly did have a nasty-sounding cough. And I was not happy to be in the “line of fire”.

This was John’s third game in four days, and he and Margaret will be going to see the Lady Vols tomorrow.
Our wonderful oak trees are in that time of year when we hate them. It’s amazing how many leaves and nuts they produce. John’s been working at them pretty steadily the last few days. He’s been running the lawnmower which bags the mulch. Once he gets through with the front yard, we’ll call the city to schedule a pickup. He’s going to find someone to clean the roof and gutters. Yea!

I can never resist greenery and flowers on an old wall.  In Corfu, Greece.