Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's a RED 2 day

Most of our day was pretty ordinary - go to the Y, to coffee. However, it’s always special day when we get haircuts.

And this afternoon got even more special when we went to see RED 2. What a fun movie! You really need to see RED first, but this one is a worthy sequel. You can tell that all the actors are having such a good time putting this farce together. It’s just a fun couple of hours. Go see it!

Dinner at 5 Guys Burgers and Fries finished off the day.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Interesting day

President Barak Obama was in Chattanooga today, speaking on middle-class jobs at our Amazon Fulfillment Center.  It was an exciting day in town.  This photo was taken from the Chattanooga Times Free Press FaceBook page.  We didn't see any of the visit in person, but it's exciting just the same.


There was a major jewel heist at the Hotel Carlton in Cannes, France, by a group of jewel thieves who just escaped from a French prison.  This is one of our pictures of this hotel.

Monday, July 29, 2013

New women

New women are on the rise!  Click here to see what our "baby" granddaughter, Sarah, is doing.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A good weekend

It was a fun last night, having Sue and Margaret here, with Missy in addition. Our Chinese carry-out is always good (even the left-overs for dinner tonight).

Sue and Margaret left midmorning (each with a lasagna), and the rest of the day was almost uneventful.

Shortly after they left, John realized the air conditioner wasn’t working. Oh, NO! The a/c guy had some by last week to check it out and said it was in good working order. So John called him and left a message. After a second call, the guy called back, and was out here in about an hour. He got it working very quickly. He wouldn’t let John pay him for the visit - saying we’d paid him for the trip last week, and he didn’t actually do anything. So he left and we were all happy.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday girls

Sue and Margaret,
Tina and Missy were here.
Carry-out Chinese.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Random Friday Five

1. Sue told us about a great way to get a toilet on the screws for the seal. Put straws over the screws to use for guides to get the screws through the holes in the base of the toilet. Great idea! She says that straws from Hardee’s work best.

2. We had a different teacher at the Enhance-Fitness class this morning. Different approach and methods. Interesting.

3. Two classes in the morning makes for a long workout. But it’s only three days a week, and I do need the exercise.

4. John finally has games on his new tablet working. Thanks to Missy and her boys for getting it set up.

5. I’m reading Mary Alice Monroe’s latest book, The Summer Girls. It’s the first of a trilogy, so I guess I’ll be reading the others, too.

The Grande Caribe

Thursday, July 25, 2013

John's turn

Today it was John’s turn - only he had to work harder than I did.

When he got up this morning, the carpet in his bathroom was wet. Uh-oh! Obvious problem…the toilet is leaking. It needs a new seal. After rowing, he went to Lowe’s to get one. (spoiler alert - this was the first trip to Lowe’s)

Changing the seal on a toilet isn’t very complicated, it’s just messy, awkward, and wrestling a heavy oddly shaped thing like a toilet is hard work. Especially when it’s wedged in between the tub and the vanity. And when your helper (me) is totally incompetent and clumsy. Getting the monster properly seated on the two bolts that hold it down is difficult under the best of circumstances, and he didn’t have that. The first attempt to set the seal didn’t work, so he had to go back to Lowe’s (trip #2) to get another wax seal. Finally, by the hardest, he got it to work the second time. By the time he got cooled down and got a shower, it was after 1. He was too tired to eat by then, so he just took a nap.

I put the bathroom rugs in the washer, of course, then into the dryer. I knew there would be a lot of lint, so after the dryer finished, I pulled the lint trap to clean it off - and it was clean. Uh-oh! I tried with the flexible grabber-thing to see if I could clear it, but that didn’t work. John was awake by then, so he went outside to see if he could clear it through the outside vent. Nope, that didn’t work either.

Well, of course, the dryer is wedged in a corner with about 2-3 feet of clearance in front of it. He pulled the dryer out as far as he could and climbed over behind it, unhooked the flexible hose, and snaked all the lint out of it (to say nothing of finding several socks and other things that had been dropped behind the dryer over the years).

Well, as long as he’d gone this far, he decided he might as well replace the dryer vent hose and outside cover. So back to Lowe’s (#3 - and last time) to get the parts. He got the dryer hooked up, and everything put back into place. And then took his third shower of the day.

Needless to say, this was not how he had planned to spend the day. It was shorter than usual, though - he crashed and was in bed before 8:30. I just hope he sleeps well tonight.
John's picture of the beach sky.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday haiku

No haiku lately.
Time to set myself thinking.
What to rhyme about?
Swim friends are the best!
Lunch with them is always good.
The food was good, too.
Tonight we found that
President Obama will
Visit here next week.
Working tow boat on the Cumberland River



Ever have one of those days when everything you touch turns to shit? Of course you have. Most of the day was okay, but then….

I decided to try a new recipe that Texas Anne sent. It sounded good, easy, and I already had most of the ingredients. Here it is:
(An Ameri-Tex-Mex Fusion)

1 pound of LEAN ground beef (less than 10% fat)
½ cup of finely crushed corn chips
1 beaten egg
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ cup of (your favorite) thick and chunky salsa
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup of Mexican blend shredded cheese

1 cup of refried beans
¼ cup of your favorite salsa
1 cup of Mexican blend shredded cheese

In a bowl, mix the ground beef, corn chips, egg, chili powder, cumin,
salsa, black pepper and ½ cup of shredded cheese. Mix thoroughly and
form into an oval on the baking sheet (not in a loaf pan).

In a small bowl, mix the refried beans with ¼ cup of salsa and frost the
top of the uncooked meatloaf with it. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes. The
last few minutes of baking time, sprinkle the top of the meatloaf with
one cup of shredded cheese and return to oven.

To serve, gently slide a thin spatula under the meatloaf to loosen it
from the baking pan and lift it (all in one piece) to a nice serving dish.

NOTE: I do not add salt to this recipe because there is plenty of salt
in the other ingredients.
NOTE: By baking this on a sheet pan (rather than a loaf pan) the grease
will run out onto the pan and not "soak" your meatloaf. You shouldn't
have much "grease" if you use 90% lean ground beef.

OK. So here we go. I had some packages of ground venison in the freezer (courtesy of Wayne, the hunter). That takes care of the lean ground beef. I thought they were one-pound packs, but looked awfully small, so I thawed two. Of course, they WERE one-pound packs, and seemed to grow bigger as they thawed. So now it’s two loaves instead of one. I had gotten corn chips, salsa, and refried beans at the store, so I had enough of the other ingredients. For two huge loaves.

I reached to get some foil to line the baking sheet, and there were only a couple of inches in the box. I knew I had gotten more, but then I couldn’t find where I stored it. Couldn’t find it anywhere, so finally used some heavy-duty foil I had. I put the loaves on two baking racks on the sheet, and put them in the oven.

I had gotten corn tortillas to go with it as bread, and looked for my microwave tortilla steamer. It wasn’t where I had always kept it. OK, I sort of remembered moving it, but couldn’t remember where, and couldn’t find it. So I found another way to steam the tortillas.

When John took the loaves out of the oven, they looked even bigger. He used two spatulas to transfer one to a platter, and the bottom of it had sunk through the gaps in the rack and got left behind. Of course, there was no grease from the venison to drain off, so the racks weren’t necessary.

With all that, the meatloaf was very good (I recommend the recipe) and the second meal and the sandwiches will be good, too. And while I was wrapping the second loaf (cut in half) for freezing, I remembered where I had hidden the new roll of foil.

All in all, it was not only not a disaster, but a very good meal. Just lots of frustrations during the prep.
Mountain laurel, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC.


Monday, July 22, 2013


Mondays have gotten busy again. I've started taking another class at the Y that is immediately following swimming (and cutting into coffee time). I think it's some movement and strength exercise that I really need - as much as I really don't like this sort of thing. The initial session is for 16 weeks. Guess I can do at least that much - and we'll be gone for some of that time, too.

Bridge was better than usual. We both had some pretty good cards, at least part of the time. Best of all was that when John and I played together in the first round, we wound up playing against the really obnoxious guy and his wife (she's pretty nice - don't know why she puts up with him, though). Anyhow, we had great cards and he didn't have good ones and mis-bid and misplayed the ones he did have. That was sweet! (sorry - that's nasty, but heartfelt.)

That’s pretty much what happens on Mondays.
The Castle on the Cumberland:  Kentucky's maximum security prison on the Cumberland River

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Meme from Sunday Stealing

Have you ever clicked on an ad on the side of your screen by accident?:      Of course - and I’ve gotten out ASAP.
When was the last time you were disappointed?:

     I can’t remember. Disappointment is like regret - usually not worth the energy.
Do you like the smell of rain?:

     Love it - especially when after it hasn’t rained for a while and is just starting.
What was the last thing you took a picture of?:

    Mountain laurel on the Blue Ridge Parkway last week.
When you go to McDonald's, what drink do you usually get?:

     Coffee. We don’t go to McDonald’s except when we’re on the road and need a pot stop. We usually get refills of their good coffee.
What were you doing today at 2:15 in the afternoon?:

     Today? Watching Bill Moyer’s Journal on PBS.
What's the nickname of your home state?:

     The Volunteer State
What's the worst type of weather in your opinion?:

       Hot, steamy summer weather
Do you have a Kindle, Nook, iPad or none?:

       I had a Kindle until the girls gave me an iPad last year. I gave my Kindle to Margaret.
Would you rather read or write?:

When was the last time someone took a picture of you?:

      John took a picture of us a couple of weeks ago when I was helping Tina with some knitting.
Do you own a pair of slippers?:

      Yes. It’s the closest I can get to going barefoot.
Name something negative that you hate about yourself:

      My lack of balance and stamina, my weight.
Is your house currently hot, cold or just right?:

      Just right, with the a/c going.
Is there a Dead End road near where you live?:

      In our residential neighborhood, there are a number of dead end streets.
Do you roll your eyes often?:

     Only when necessary.
Growing up, did you see your cousins often?:

     No. I wish it had been possible, but geography was against it.
Where was your first job at?:

     Bad grammar! It should be “Where was your first job?” Anyway, because of my parents, I had a job in the Pathology Department of a local hospital filing and typing old autopsy reports.
When's your birthday?:

      16 March.
Is life a party to you?:

      I enjoy life, but I don’t know that I’d call it a party.
Who are you tired of seeing in the news a lot? :

      Tea party politicians who obviously hate women and so-called celebrities.
When was the last time you flew a kite?:

      Jean flew one last month at the beach. I can’t remember when I did.
How long have you had a blog?:

      Since 2005.
Have you ever had to call and complain about a product you bought?:

      Yes, of course. I don’t believe in suffering silently.
Name something positive you love about yourself:

      I think I’m a pretty good wife, mother and friend.
This is one of John's pictures of mountain laurel.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday this and that

Saturday morning is the time to check our the nearby farmers’ market. I got a few things - a couple of tomatoes (including one green one), a couple of cucumbers, and some home-made cinnamon rolls. I had a lovely lunch of fried green tomatoes - Yum!

Matt and his lady-friend Claire came by this afternoon. We took them out to Longhorn to dinner. We hadn’t seen him in a while, and he looks good. Claire is a lovely young woman, and I’m glad we got a chance to chat with her.

I thought to check the Smithsonian Channel web site for the Aerial America schedule and found an earlier program called “From the Air: Fortress Britain”. It was a super from-the-air tour of early-to-late castles in Britain. A great treat to finish the day.

Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky, heading into the Barkley Canal, connecting the Tennessee River to the Cumberland River.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Pay back is never fun. I was really deep asleep when the alarm went off at 6. I felt good to get in the water, though.

After swimming, some of us went to a new class at the Y. It’s designed to strengthen the core muscles, improve balance and general strength, and increase stamina.

We’re not thrilled about the timing. It’s right after swimming, on the same days, so it’ll preclude going to Panera. But after going the one time, we agreed that, if it works, this type program is just what we need. So we’ll stay with it - at least for a while.

Good luck to me!
A teaser from the Blue Ridge Parkway - early morning fog.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A wonderful mini-trip

What lovely adventure we had over the last couple of days. We headed out about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, going to Franklin, NC. We were meeting Stephanie - a long-time internet friend, but our first time in person.

After finding her house and getting acquainted with this lovely lady, we took her driving through the mountains to Bryson City, NC, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center. We ate lunch at a café right on the river, and were able to watch the rafters and kayakers for a while. We drove back to Franklin along a different twisty, mountain route - at least it was paved the whole way, and even had a yellow dividing line. LOL

After planning to meet for dinner, we took Stephanie home, then headed for our motel to check in. She had recommended a neat little restaurant, stuck onto the back of a filling station. We had wonderful dinners of sautéed clams (Stephanie and me) and mussels (John).

This morning, we started out in a lifting fog to drive a long, scenic route getting home - the Blue Ridge Parkway, through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and along the Foothills Parkway. This such incredible scenery and the weather was perfect! At lunchtime, we were in Townsend, TN. We were lucky enough to spot a Cuban Café, so we stopped for Cuban sandwiches - a definite winner. We finished up our excursion on the interstate, but only for about 60 miles and got home until after 4.

What a fun trip - a nice break. We’ll definitely have to do some more mini-trips like this one. Photos will come later.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The other side

The other side of yesterday's busyness was doing not much today.  In addition to going to the grocery stores, I got the car washed.  That about summed up the day's activities.  Such is being retired.

A run-off breakwater along the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Busy Monday

It’s been a really busy day today. From swimming to coffee, home for the rest of the morning and lunch.

On the way to bridge, we stopped at our TV service office to pick up a new remote for the cable/TV. We wore out the mute button on the original one. John said the folks in the office got a big kick out of that. 

At bridge, my cards in the first two rounds were awful, but finally improved over the afternoon. We went straight from bridge to an event at the downtown library.

Are y’all familiar with the books of Mary Alice Monroe? She writes delightful, semi-beach-books set in the low county of the Carolinas. She has some family ties in Chattanooga, and the library (and me particularly) has (have?) talked with her several times about coming here. Anyhow, she has a new book out (The Summer Girls) and this was part of her book tour. Monroe is a very active conservationist, and her novels always include something about animals and the environment, but with a good story to go along with it. Anyhow, it was fun to hear her speak. We got a copy of this new book. And I can recommend you give her works a try - she has about 10 or so books out.

From there, we went to our favorite Mexican place to eat, and headed for home and some TV (after setting up the new remote).

At the beach.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Silent Sunday

Lovely sunset light on the Tombigbee River.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Haiku

Sleeping late - ‘til 9!
John works in the yard and I
Knit and sort beach stuff.

Sunset, Tombigbee River

Friday, July 12, 2013

Reading obituaries

We like to check the obituaries in the paper every day.  Not just to see if anyone we know has died, but because some of them are so interesting.  This obit from Durham, NC, was in the Chattanooga Times Free Press this morning.

Seth Kelby Vidal, a ruggedly handsome cyclist and open source software guru was killed Monday, July 8, 2013. He was 36 years old. Seth described himself as a misanthropic humanist. To those who love him, he was a brother, partner, son, mentor, indefatigable curmudgeon, loyal friend and champion for good who believed deeply in community, and worked to improve every one that he was a part of. A constant contrarian and invaluable resource, Seth could build a bike, recommend a restaurant, and upgrade your technology. Seth knew the names of every canine in the neighborhood, and most of their people. He was a brilliant, kind, compassionate, generous, and caring young man whose abilities and knowledge in his field were beyond comprehension. He was known worldwide, and often spoke at conferences in the US and abroad. A wicked storyteller and the consummate traveling companion, he would unabashedly regale road trip cohorts with song. The world will be considerably quieter in his absence. He is survived by his beloved partner Eunice, his parents Alicia and Wade, his brother Wade and sister-in-law Misty, niece-nephews Kelsey and Will, his brother Logan and his partner Kate, his grandfather William Clayton, his grumpy dog, Cori and countless friends. He lives on in our hearts and the friendships he forged. Services in celebration of his life will be held at Clements Funeral Chapel at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 13, 2013.

This was a man who knew how to live, and obviously had family and friends who knew the sort of tribute he deserved.  Click here to find out more about him and the accident that took his life.

Table setting in Tennessee Williams' boyhood home, Columbus, MS.


Thursday, July 11, 2013


John went to the urologist for follow-up this morning. His PSA was 41.8 when he first went to the doc. After the first injection last month, it is now 3.86!!!

So the first blast of chemo did what it was supposed to do. Now the treatment plan is for him to get injections of Lupron at 4-month intervals (today, next in November) for two years. The side effects will probably lessen. After that first heavy chemo injection, this new stuff should be more of a trickle effect of medicine. Mostly, I think, he’s hoping for fewer, less severe hot flashes.

As those of us who have had cancer treatments know, this stuff is NOT cheap. The first injection was $600, these follow-up ones are $1200 each. He’s going to call the insurance to find out what they will be paying on this - and maybe be changing his insurance plan for next year.


On the brighter side of life, he went by the flooded boat house on his way home. His shell is undamaged, having been rescued by the wonderful folks at LRC who went to try to save what they could. His boat is stashed near the ceiling of the boat bay, so he’ll need some serious help to get it down. But it’s safe and secure until the river flow finally permits his getting back on the river.
Repurposed old house, Columbus, MS.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Funnies and Beach Food

Comedienne Jeanne Robertson does a routine on why men shouldn’t go to the grocery store. John and I both laughed out loud on this one (even though it’s been around for a while). Click here to check it out.

Bar Slaw (Vinegar slaw)
Shred one large head of cabbage. Layer this alternately with thinly sliced onions in a large bowl. Pour 1 scant cup of sugar over the top of this and let stand while making the following dressing:
      1 c. vinegar
      2/3 c. vegetable oil
      1 tsp. mustard
      1 Tbsp. salt
      1 tsp. celery seed

Bring dressing ingredients to a boil and pour over cabbage and onions while hot. Refrigerate for at least four hours, keeping covered. Will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. (Hint: do not use purple cabbage unless you want pink slaw.)

Mock Toffee Bars (From Lisa)
Saltine crackers
1 cup brown sugar
Pecan pieces
1/2 cup butter
12 oz. chocolate chips

Servings: Depends on the size of the pieces
Time to make: 15 minutes

How to make it:
Line cookie sheet with foil; butter heavily.
Place crackers side by side to cover cookie sheet, salted side up.
Combine butter and brown sugar and cook until it boils and bubbles (3-4 minutes).
Pour over crackers; bake 7 minutes at 375 degrees.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Spread chocolate with spatula. Sprinkle with nuts and press into chocolate with spatula.

When cool; break into pieces and enjoy!
Tennessee Williams' childhood home, Columbus, Mississippi.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A good day

Even if it started off with two grocery stores, any day that includes a manicure and pedicure can’t be all bad.


Jean’s picture of the Blue Angel. Can you see the smoke loop?

Monday, July 08, 2013


The Rachel

One of the neat things we have discovered at “our beach” over the last few years has been a partially buried shipwreck. We’ve been coming to this stretch of beach for about 20 years, and the Rachel just appeared a couple of years ago. It was uncovered this time by a series of hurricanes. Click on the link to read more about the history.

I’d never seen it because it was farther down the beach that I’m able to walk. This year, John had the idea to drive the non-walkers to where there was just a short walk to the beach. So I finally got to see the Rachel. It’s really amazing to see this wreck right in front of a row of rental vacation houses.

Jean took these pictures for me.


Sunday, July 07, 2013

The next day...

What a wonderful week we had with our Beach Bunch! Even with two days of surf that was too rough for swimming and one day of rain, it was great.

Today was the rest-up day. John and I both got good naps. The laundry got done as usual.

Tomorrow it’s back to the Y and coffee and bridge.


It was such a treat to see some of the Blue Angels practice. At least Sarah got a good picture.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Home from the beach!

We are home - safe and sound. It started raining Thursday night, after a day of very high surf. The surf stayed high (fun to watch, but definitely no swimming) and it rained all day Friday. This morning, as we were getting ready to leave, a really hard squall line came ashore and we had to wait for that to pass over before anybody could leave.

We all headed out in our various directions and have all gotten home. John and Margaret did all the driving, and it was 100% in the rain. Some drizzle, and some blinding squalls, but they never turned the wipers off. And the trip took about an hour longer than usual. But, again, we’re all safe and sound - and that’s what counts.

Now to get settled down and back into the routines.
And this definitely symbolizes our times with friends and family at the beach.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Happy July!

We had a great treat this morning.  We're not far west of Pensacola, FL, which is the home base for the Blue Angels - the crack flying team of the US Navy.

Their general performances have been put on hold for a while (due to the sequester), but they must still be flying.  A couple of planes were flying practice runs over the Gulf in front of our place.  Loops and vapor trails and low passes certainly entertained our group.  After about 30 minutes or so, they turned back to the east headed for home, and did a low pass along the beach, vapor trails streaming, right in front of the house.

In a few minutes, a single plane showed up - also doing loops, climbs, and barrel rolls.  As he headed back to the base, he did a low pass, rolled over, and finished the run upside down.

What a super morning!