Saturday, May 31, 2014

An Easy Week

Other than a hair appointment late afternoon on Wednesday, I had free time Tuesday AND Wednesday.   I cleaned out some drawers, tried on all my jeans and slacks and threw some of them out, paid the bills, did the laundry, checked on baggage sizes and fees on KLM in preparation for our August trip,  etc.  

 I was hosting Shanghai on Thursday so I prepared my tables and made key lime tartletts for dessert.  A few flicks of the Swiffer, some vacuuming and I was ready.  My new motto is "A woman with a spotless house has a cleaning lady or too much time on her hands."  Right now I have neither.

I had absolutely lousy cards, didn't see a wild card until hand 5 and didn't get down 3 times.  Needless to say, I lost.  And this group is high stakes - five bucks!

We had leftover tortellini soup so dinner was not any work.  It was great waking up Friday with so many projects done, laundry done, house clean and we were going out for dinner!  We had changed our tickets for Gypsy and were having dinner before at our favorite Italian place not far from the theater.  Four couples met and we had to wait a bit for a table but we were finished in time with no hurrying.  Everyone must have been very hungry and really liked the food because I saw few leftovers on any of the plates.

Gypsy was great.  The gal playing Rose had a big, booming voice and did a superb job.  The sequence where the strippers are instructing Louise in "you gotta have a gimmick" was hilarious!  I think our whole group really enjoyed the production.  We have July tickets for Greater Tuna that I will give to Gerre and she can invite someone while we are gone.

Today is a baby shower for the daughter-in-law of my friend.  Five of us will ride together to the other side of town for the afternoon festivities.  That means no church tonight so we will go in the morning.  

I am trying to wrap up loose ends before we leave.  With three trips in such quick succession, a little groundwork is in order.  For our first trip, we have to be prepared with our punch list for the trailer, have our clothes ready for the wedding and plan our route.  We have several places to go while there and the six weeks will pass quickly.

We will be home about two weeks before each of us pack 16 days of clothes into a suitcase and carry-on.  Passports have been renewed, we need proof of $40,000 in medical insurance besides Medicare (which doesn't pay overseas) to enter the Czeck Republic, etc.  The hard part is that the euro is not used in the six countries we are going to, each has its own currency.  Figuring values and not getting cheated changing money takes some doing.  I also have to notify all our credit card companies.

When we return we have three weeks before we fly to Los Angeles to board a Norwegian cruise ship for another 16 days to visit another four countries.  They probably all have their own money too!  At least I am familiar with pesos.  I will investigate Costa Rica, Columbia and Panama to see what their currency is.  So much info to gather.

 I wanted to mention how much we enjoyed Monument Men when we watched it this week.  We knew it was about finding and returning lost art from WWII.  Imagine our interest when we learned the two main focuses were the Altarpiece at Ghent and the Michaelangelo sculpture of Madonna and Child.  We have seen both!   I don't recall being told they were stolen and returned.  

I knew one panel of the alterpiece had been destroyed and replaced but that apparently had nothing to do with it being stolen.  I kept expecting them not to have the last panel.  When they found it all, I googled it and put together what I knew previously and then had just learned.

We did know the sculpture was the only one done by Michaelangelo residing outside Italy.  It is in Bruegge, Belgium.  The Italians tried to get it returned but the paperwork of its purchase was still in the city archives.  I don't recall them mentioning it being stolen and returned during the war.  Of course the movie had scenes in Paris too where we were two years ago and loved it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Weekend with the Boomers

Friday night was a sandwich/appetizer/dessert get together serving as a Meet and Greet.  There were lots of new folks to meet and old ones to greet.  It was good seeing so many folks gathering for the weekend.  Other than four of the original wagonmasters, we were the longest members at 9 years.  We don't get out with them often anymore but we enjoy it immensely when we do.

After eating, there was to be Patriotic Bingo.  More folks came than expected so a few people didn't get cards.  Covers were in short supply so pebbles were brought in from the landscaping outside.  Necessity is the mother of invention I guess.  I am not sure how it happened but Ted and I ended up calling bingo.  I work many bingos at our senior lunches so I think we did a good job mixing it up to keep it interesting.  Several of the prizes were things I had donated.  We also played four quarter games with the winner receiving all the quarters.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.

Saturday morning was a pancake breakfast followed by a very moving Memorial Day Tribute that included a slideshow of Boomers in military photos.  I really choked up when our friend Tommy's photo came up on the In Memory page.  I can't believe it has been five years since he left us.   I don't think there was a dry eye at the end of the program.

Saturday evening was the BBQ dinner so I helped in the kitchen for awhile.  We got things under control and then played Skipbo.  Pat and I killed a bottle of Muscato wine while playing.  Neither of us won and I am pretty sure why.  Bad cards!

Dinner went well and we visited a bit but our messed up sleep Thursday night caught up with us and we were in bed early.  One thing we enjoy doing from this campground is attending church nearby at one of the "painted churches."   It is so beautiful and we had a delightful priest from Brenham who made our visit especially memorable.  We missed the potluck breakfast but it was worth it.  On our return I made a strawberry trifle to take to Gerre and Barry's pool party.  We met many of their friends  including 3 of the 4 couples going on the cruise with us.  I was trying really hard to remember names and faces.  

They live on a big lake, have a pool plus hot tub and a fabulous patio with bar.  It was a great party and we had a good time.  When we returned to the park we took a walk with two other couples before turning in.  This morning we cleaned the RV, buttoned it up and put it away 

Ted has gone back to the Chronicle this afternoon to get some paper samples to send to the mill.  I am planning my week in my free time.  I have a few less busy days before we hit the busy weekend coming up.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Celebrating Memorial Day

I was up and out to Irene's on Monday for our bunco group.  Oh my, she had a beautiful spread in her party room.  Silver, red and blue wreaths decorated the walls.  Our beloved red, white and blue was used in the tableware and decorations.  She had wonderful food and snacks for us all.  I won "most losses" in bunco!  Yeah!

Five of us stayed through lunch for a game of Shanghai and I won.  It was the comeback of the century in the second round.  I had 17 cards, wasn't down when everyone else was, and they were going round and round with only one or two cards but couldn't go out.  I finally drew two different cards that gave me what I needed to go down.  On the next round I went out!  Ted was in Beaumont for the day and night so I kept myself busy.

I worked four hours at the thrift shop Tuesday and hit my 50.5 hours to finish my requirements.  That's a relief.  Since there were four Donnas working we formed The Society of Donnas to Dominate the World.  Afterwards I went to the nail salon in preparation for being gone for five days over the weekend.  

Our Forum Board of Directors meeting and luncheon was held at a country club south of where we live on Wednesday.  Kathryn was working with us Tuesday and suggested we ride together so I met her at 9 am.  We had a good wrap up meeting and a wonderful lunch.  The centerpieces were the most beautiful roses. I really enjoyed myself.  Then it was time to get my hair set for the week.  It has been decades since I had my hair done each week but it saves so much time on a daily basis that I have been availing myself of the service recently.  

Thursday we hooked up the RV and headed out to meet the Texas Boomers for the Memorial Day weekend.  We visited back and forth because there are several new rigs.  Eventually  nine of us went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner where I had a Happy Hour margarita.  That, plus sitting outside for awhile with the group and Ted's departure to the paper for the night had me in bed by 10.  He didn't get home until 4:30 am.  I stayed up with him while he did his report and sent it off and we both went back to bed.

Ted has pretty much been on the computer and phone today so I worked on my afghan.  We made a run to Walmart and are now getting our food ready to take up to the rally hall.  There will be socializing, eating and Patriotic Bingo.  I will let you know  how that works next time!

God sent us greetings for our holiday!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Oh No! Just A Month To Departing

Where does the time go?  I have a lot to accomplish while home and it has been keeping me busy.

On Monday this week I played Canasta in the the only Canasta group left.  All others have switched to Shanghai.  We only play for $1 and I always end up in the middle.   I should have a place on my IRS Schedule A for Card Game Donations.

The Angelic Center came to pick up our old double Lazy Boy recliner and I put in a call to Lazy Boy regarding the new one.  The foam on one side seems deficient and there is a definite difference in appearance and feel when you sit.  Someone is coming June 2 to look.

In the afternoon I had an eye doctor appointment and he said I am doing great.  My close vision allowed me to read the smallest line on the chart.  I didn't do as well on distance but well enough I guess.  I am good for another year.

We were playing Couples Shanghai Wednesday night so I went to the Beauty Salon in the afternoon.  It didn't work - but my hair did look better.  LOL.  We have a happy hour followed by a buffet dinner and then cards.  I won second at my table.  Ted was winning at his until the last hand.  He didn't get down and all those points knocked him out of the running.  You just never know where you stand in this game.

Our Newcomers Board was being installed on Thursday and I was encouraged to come because I am an Activity Chair.  I hadn't attended a luncheon since September but I agreed to go.  The lunch was good, the speaker did a nice job but the "ceremonies" were too long and disjointed.  It took three hours!  I didn't know hardly anyone on last year's Board but I know everyone on this year's Board.  I think this is akin to a silent coup to return to the old way of doing things.  Time will tell.

We attended the last Wind Down cocktail party on Friday night because we changed our tickets for Gypsy to the weekend after Memorial Day.  Geri and Barry are in Dallas and we have their dog Tucker so we all got tickets for the same night.  I invited Terry and Carol to go with us.  We can invite two people each season.  I hope they do as well as they did with South Pacific.  

We are joining the Boomers in the RV at the KOA for Memorial Day weekend.  I have a busy M-T-W next week before we head out on Thursday but three meals are catered so we don't need to take but a few breakfast and lunch things plus a few clothes.  Sunday we will leave the park and go to a cookout at Geri's with her neighbors who are going on our Mexican cruise and some other friends we have in common.  On Monday we will put the RV away once again for a few weeks.

I left my Swedish weaving afghan in the RV last time so I hope I remember to get it out and bring it home.  There are times in the evening I have time to work on it.  It is about half way finished.

Another project is printing my blog before it disappears.  So far 2006-2009 are finished plus our 2012 trip to France.  There are three binders filled and this will become our reading material when we can no longer go like we do now.  I enjoyed reminiscing as I printed them so I know we will enjoy them even more as time goes by.  It's the little things that are forgotten that are so fun to read about.

I need to have my dress hemmed for the next wedding, find a tie with mint green in it for Ted and put the wedding program together so it can be printed.  I have been busy on line with the gift registries with four May birthdays (Kristin, Ally, Morgan, Kelly),  two baby showers (Logan, Zahra), one wedding shower (Kara) and two weddings (Katelyn, Laura).  Keeping all these shipping confirmations straight is a job in itself.

Have a great holiday weekend but keep in mind what we are commemorating.

These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation who has a long history of patriotism and honor - and a nation who has fought many battles to keep our country free from threats of terror.

Michael N. Castle

Monday, May 12, 2014

Getting Things Back In Order

We had so much to get done that it was advantageous to arrive home a few days earlier than originally planned.  Chris was surprised by our arrival so early in the day on Sunday but he took it in stride.  Because we are home for six weeks he took most of his things but will be back mid-June when we head out again.

We spent Monday putting things away and getting the laundry done.  We had to vote at two different locations on Tuesday.  We were surprised to learn Ted's voting rights had been suspended.  Seems he never responded to a jury summons that never was forwarded to us this past winter.  He explained we were gone and we never received it.  They told him jury summons aren't forwarded!!  Just how are you supposed to know then??  He had to go before an election judge and sign an affidavit that he was who he (and his driver's license) said he was and where he lived.  I just hope there isn't a warrant for his arrest out there!

We had to go through a lot of construction and I must have picked up a screw in my front right tire because Thursday when I went to leave, my tire was on the rim.  Of course I didn't see it but it immediately made a screeching noise and my tire light came on.  I pulled back in and told Ted before taking off to Wanda's to hitch a ride to our neighborhood luncheon with her and Gail.

The landscaper had finally arrived after bumping me one more time from Wednesday.  I won't go into the "conversation" I had with the office and eventually the owner.  The men were busy trimming the trees and preparing the planting area for the new plants when I left.  Ted said they went in the garage and pumped up the tire so he could drive it to be fixed.  When they finished they trimmed all our bushes, raked the yard and took away our old gas grill that still worked.  For all the run around, they did a great job.

Our President Installation Luncheon for Jumior Forum was Friday and I had to be there at 8:15 to work on name tags, placing programs in specially folded napkins and sign people in.  The program was once again a hoot!  They do such a great job!  It is the most enjoyable gathering they do all year.

I hosted Shanghai for six couples here at home Saturday night.  Of course I had to clean the house and prepare the food so it was a really busy day.  Everything went well but neither Ted nor I won anything.

Because we didn't get to Mass Saturday night we went Sunday morning.  Afterwards we drove past a few restaurants but people were outside waiting so we just went home to eat.  Ted then went shooting and I spent the afternoon pouring over 1000+ photos of Kristin's wedding to pick out what I wanted for my book.  When Ted came home he grilled filets, made loaded baked potatoes, corn on the cob, Texas toast and served wine with dinner and cannolis for dessert!  Terrific meal and a perfect Mother's Day memory.

Kara had sent me flowers, I received a top and jacket from Kelly and true to form, Kristin's is still in the mail!  They have been busy with thank you notes and photos so we will excuse them.  The make-up lady used a picture of me and Kristin on her website in honor of Mother's Day.

I hope all the mother's out there had as good a day as I did, low key as it was.

We never know the love of the parent until we become parents ourselves. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Big Easy

Saturday morning we drove across the 24 mile Causeway into New Orleans.  We found the museum parking for $8 and had our choice of spots.  First up was the Tom Hanks 4D movie about the war.  It was very well done and quite moving.  The museum is in several buildings on several levels and a bit confusing to tour in a logical manner.  We saw so much and decided you could spend way more than one day but you would suffer from overload.  A day off in between would be in order.  

There was a train to board which was totally replicated inside.  It was to experience what the recruits experienced when they headed to boot camp.  Through the windows you saw people waving and the countryside passing by.  It was sort of Disneyesque.

We visited different areas so there is no ryhme or reasoning to what came next.

This is a mock up of what greeted the Germans off the coast of Normandy on the morning of June 6.  At no time in history had there been such a build up of land and sea troops.

This flag was flown during the fighting on the beaches at Normandy.

The blue is water, green the inroads made on June 6, yellow is what they had hoped to capture.

Higgins (from New Orleans) LCVP (landing craft vehicle personnel).  It was an adaptation of the flat skiffs used in the bayous.  Eisenhower said without it we may not have been successful in Europe.

Rear gunner

I hope you recognize some of these aircraft.  I thought I could take photos and remember.  I was wrong!

We arrived about ten and stayed until four when we walked down the street to St. Patrick's for Mass.  It was a gorgeous church and a nice service by a very elderly priest.  His going up and down the stairs scared me but he did OK and gave a very good sermon.

We went back to the museum and toured a little more of the museum and then headed back across the Causeway.  We asked our GPS for restaurants in the area and chose a convenient Italian restaurant.  It was fabulous food and a very good choice.

It didn't take much for us to fall into bed.  Being on your feet for six hours straight is very tiring but it was well worth it.

The next day we were on the road by 8 and arrived home early in the afternoon.  I have to admit I was glad to be home.  Two weeks on the road with 8 stops dragging luggage in and out is a pain.  I will take my RV any day (and cruises where I can unpack once!).

“After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States entered into World War II to protect our way of life and to help liberate those who had fallen under the Axis occupation. The country rallied to produce one of the largest war efforts in history. Young men volunteered to join the Armed Forces, while others were drafted. Women went to work in factories and took military jobs. Everyone collected their used cooking grease and metals to be used for munitions. They rationed gas and groceries. Factories now were producing airplanes, weapons, and military vehicles. They all wanted to do their part. And they did, turning America into a war machine. The nation was in full support to help our boys win the war and come home quickly. ~ Kara Martinelli

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Southern Coastal Stop

We  headed to New Orleans but knew it wasn't a whole day's drive so we decided to stop in Biloxi for a few hours.  We made arrangements to take a historical tour.  The meeting place was at a marina so we spent a few minutes checking out the boats and enjoying the pelicans perched on the poles.

When the small bus arrived we learned we were the only passengers for the tour.  We sat by the driver and enjoyed a very personal tour.

One of the historical buildings was the birthplace of Barq's soft drinks.  Both their root beer and cream soda were big in Cincinnati.  It was many years before I learned about A&W root beer or that most cream sodas aren't red.

Ted's uncle painted the Barq's signs on the sides of brick buildings in Cincinnati.  I remember one I passed each day going and coming from school on the side of Montgomery's Parkview Market. There was a Sullivan signature in the corner.  Little did I know he would become my uncle by marriage.

I googled painted Barq's signs in Cincinnati.  I found this one from North Fairmount (I lived in South Fairmount) but it doesn't have the Sullivan signature.  It was used on a "ghost art" calendar.  There is a war of sorts between ghost art and painting over it.

But I did find a painting that was covered over with just the ULLIVAN showing but it must have been another ad because it would be in the lower right hand corner to have been a Barq's ad.  It is the correct one though, as distinctive as any logo.  The ghost art proponent had written " Oh Mr. Sullivan, what art of yours have they covered up?"  Just a little family history!

This area was devastated by Hurricane Camille in 1969 and again in 2005 during Katrina but the lighthouse that sits in the middle of the four lane beach highway has survived since 1846.  The 17 mile long beach is gorgeous and not cut off by huge hotels and condos.  

I was astounded by the number of homes destroyed and not rebuilt.  There are sidewalks and driveways to nowhere.  Concrete slabs sit in the middle of grassy areas, once the foundation of a home.  There are still many beautiful southern homes though and our driver was very familiar with their history.  So many large oaks were destroyed and their trunks have been turned into sculptures by Marlin Miller.

There are many different ones throughout the beach area, one more beautiful than the other.  Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.

The last part of our tour was to Ocean Springs, MS, a quaint little town a bit east of Biloxi.  We were given a $5 token so we stopped for a coffee in a lovely French bakery.  It would be a nice place for a couple's getaway with lots of shops, restaurants, water sports and planned events.  

After our tour we headed on toward New Orleans.  We chose to stay in Covington, LA at the Pontchartrain Causeway entrance for easy access to the city.  We wanted the car parked close to us and that just wouldn't happen in the city.

Nearly two weeks have passed since Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Gulf Coast, and while we are still dealing with the tremendous devastation - and will be for quite some time - we are also seeing increased signs of recovery and help in our region. - Jo Bonner

Thursday, May 1, 2014

FDR Little White House, Warm Springs GA

This was a very unpretentious house with all original furnishings including 1945 toilet paper, paper towels and even two wishbones that were drying in the kitchen the day FDR died.  It was very interesting.  We saw the unfinished portrait that was being painted when he died and the full portrait that was done later.

FDRs car with hand controls.

FDRs stagecoach used to bring guests to the house. 

FDRs picnic spot which is now in the FDR State Park.  He had a grill built but it has been filled in to preserve it.

Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens

This was a beautiful building but the darn butterflies just kept flitting around and are hard to photograph!

Chapel and Azalea Bowl Trail

The chapel is very peaceful in its remote location.  Unfortunately the azaleas were spent but the mountain laurel was blooming.  Weddings are held in the chapel.

Horticultural Center, So Beautiful