Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Faster I Go, the Behinder I Get!

I'm just checking in as there isn't a lot to report. It feels like I've been going non-stop, but as I look back on the calendar, not much has been happening.  With the exception of the last 3 days, my mother has been crying inconsolably for three and a half weeks.  She didn't appear to be in pain and couldn't articulate what the problem was or what anyone could do to help.  It was very difficult to see her in that state and Hospice has put her back on Cymbalta, which may account for the last few days of peace and calm.  

The mornings are my time to sit over several cups of coffee, check emails and wake up slowly.  Given the choice, I never plan to get out before 11AM!  It is then time to go over to Bloom to help Mama with lunch.  Once that's done, the afternoon is mine; but, since she has been on the crying jag, I've also been going over for dinner.  You can see that doesn't leave much time to get anything else done.  I'm hoping that will change if all remains calm.

I did treat myself to a day in Savannah, going to several of my favorite shops and coming away with very little.  Shopping is not my thing, and the trip reinforced that.  I walked through the entire mall and came away with nothing!!  It was at my first stop that I lucked into a few items.

Eating is a common thread around here and I've had some different invitations lately.  One of my neighbor's wife is at Bloom where my mother is, and he (John) and she (Ruth) eat at our table every day.  They have two daughters, one of whom lives with John.  They invited me over for dinner one night, along with several other people.  It was a relaxed and comfortable evening which allowed me to meet several more neighbors.  Two weeks after that, Ruth died suddenly after not feeling well for several days.  John, as much as he grumbled and groused, was devoted to her and their absence has left a void for the regular lunch bunch.  

Last night I had dinner with my friend Elaine, whom I hadn't seen for months.  Several ladies from my synagogue days joined us, along with one of their neighbors who had lived in Saudi at one time  (our time overlapped by two years). The synagogue ladies wanted to get us together and it was great to talk with someone who shared parts of that experience.  Her husband worked for Alcoa and they lived in Al Khobar, but we still had lots to talk about and the other ladies were enthralled.  It was a good night - varied conversation, lots of laughs - and it was especially good to reconnect with Elaine, Sheri and Cokie.

 

About the only other thing of interest was an art gallery talk by Mary Edna Frazer.  She's a batik artist and many of her pieces are aerial views of topography.  Most of those in the exhibit were of the Lowcountry and were quite striking....and familiar.  It is an interesting process and, in addition to being talented, she has plethora of interests - one of those people who seems to do it all!  You can see more of her work HERE.  It was an informative morning followed by a tasty lunch with my friend Chris.  

Almost forgot to tell you that we now have a Whole Foods store on the island......or Whole Paycheck, as some people call it.  About a week after it opened I checked it out and, though expensive, it is a great store and shopping experience.  I was especially interested in the hot food bars which included many vegetarian and vegan foods, including several Indian dishes.  The shelves are also stocked with many items not found in our local grocery stores...I came away with $40 worth without even trying!

Well,, that's about it!  Since I had not photos to deal with, it gave me time to do some playing/experimenting, which you can see from photos above.  I'm hoping this entry will work better than the last few....the last one was better, but the photo captions didn't appear on my iPad (showed up on laptop, but no tablet).  Anyway, now that summer is drawing to an end, things will probably settle and I am not likely to have as many opportunities to take photos.  You probably need a break from them anyway!!


Have a great week!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Comes to an End!

I'm in the yellowish blouse...
The last couple of weeks have been busy in a fun kind of way.  There has been a lot of things to do and I've tried to do as many as possible, beginning with a music evening at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation.  It featured the "talents of Argentinian musician Daniel Bellone and German performer Angelika. Together they blend traditional Sanskrit chants and mantras with instantly accessible melodies and modern instrumentation."  It was very relaxing - the kind of music you could just close your eyes and go with....very soothing.

The following Friday, my neighbor Ana and I went out to lunch at the Sea Grass Grille.  I"d not been there before and the food turned out to be very tasty.  I had a Greek salad and asked the the dressing could be on the side.  The waitress explained that the vegetables (variety of tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onions, etc.) were marinated in a dressing and put on top of the lettuce, and capped with feta.  Well, it was scrumptious.....I may have to go back again to try to figure out what is in the marinade.

That same evening I went to a fundraiser for Bakari Sellers, a tall, handsome young man of 30 who is running for Lt. Governor of SC. For such a young man, he was certainly impressive.  The Lt. Governor deals with the care and well-being of the elderly in the state, so I bent the ear of his aide Isaac for quite a while. The event was held at Ruby Lee's, which I'd heard about for both its Lowcountry food and its good music.  So, I was happy to be able to check it out at the first time.  It was a small place with a warm atmosphere, very welcoming.  As I came in, I was given a Seller's bumper sticker.  Then I spotted the president of our democratic club and asked about a sticker for Vincent Sheheen, who is running for governor.  He had some in his car, along with mirror covers (which I really wasn't to crazy about.....but he offered them to me for free AND he put everything on my car).  So, once he pimped my ride, I felt like a moving advertisement!!  Anyway, it was a full day and I enjoyed it all.


On Saturday I had lunch with my mother and then drove to Beaufort for the Dragon Boat races.  Jan and I saw them when we went to Victoria, BC and it was fun to watch.  I'd been thinking about it for a while and really didn't make up my mind until after lunch on the day.  I got there around 2PM, had no problem with traffic and arrived in time for the last four races.  About 3PM it clouded over a bit and was very pleasant on the waterfront.  I didn't stay for awards, but the timing was perfect for me to stop for a little shopping that TJ Maxx.....another pleasant afternoon!

 
Tuesday of this week, Cheryl came for an overnight visit.  We have been very lucky to meet up for lunch whenever she visits her sister, but it was especially nice to be able to sit down and really catch up.  After resting a bit from the long drive, we went on a short tour of downtown Bluffton, which didn't take long at all.  We wound up at the Church of the Cross watching the May River flow by.  Cheryl's mother was spending time with her sister Bonnie in Camden. They were meeting up around lunchtime on Wednesday for Cheryl to pick up her mother.  Before the scheduled time, we rode out to Palmetto Bluff for a quick look around.  It was a very pleasant morning, not too hot, and that certainly added to the enjoyment.  We then all met up at Cracker Barrel for lunch.  It was a pleasure to see Cheryl's Mom again and to meet Bonnie.....and it's always great to see longtime friends!  We didn't have a lot of time, but we made the most of it.


 
Everything else is just incidental...
  • I got another Groupon deal that I couldn't refuse and treated myself to a massage and facial, the first one I've had in a long. long time.  It was very relaxing and theraputic. 
  • I've also treated myself to housecleaning services every other week.  That was one of those things that just hung over my head....I never felt the whole house was clean at the same time and it always worried me.......not enough to get it under control, just enough to be a constant irritant.  I've let that go and am enjoying a clean house.....and the guilt-free ability to enjoy other things!
Local Wildlife Update:
Two feral cats have broken from the larger colony and now reside at the corner where I turn to visit my mother.  There is a black cat and a yellow one.  Frequently they are joined by a friend.



We first noticed the raccoon showing up for dinner.  Then it was lunch and now we think it is both!  The funniest sight was seeing the two cats, presumably full, lying on the pine straw and between the two was the raccoon, helping himself to the leftovers.  We call him the cleanup crew!!  Animals are so great.


We have a large group of turkeys in our development, but I frequently see this one hen roaming around on her own.  Since I've been trying to get photos of the raccoon, I had my camera with me this week when I ran into her.
















Finally, on a more somber topic, it's hard to believe that Allan passed away a year yesterday.  I am reminded of him so often by things that I see or hear.....it is still just hard to believe - that it happened at all and that a year has passed since.  I'm thinking of his family and hoping they are doing well.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quiet Times

This is a short update as not a lot has been happening....certainly nothing as fun and exciting as friends visiting!  So, I've been enjoying a break; but, even so, found myself dithered - overwhelmed with minutiae that I had imposed on myself.  So, I sat myself down, thought about it, and just let a lot of stuff go.  Things have really improved since doing that.  Rather than starting the day with a long list of things to do, I have a short general list of the major things I want to accomplish.  If I do get everything done, it's great.  If I don't, that's okay, too - none of it is life or death!

Speaking of death (how's that for a segue!), I've contacted funeral homes here and in NC to have as much prearranged as possible when anything happens to my mother.  They are in touch with one another and should be able to coordinate as needed.  For myself, this week I'll finalize my will, advance directive, etc.  Once that is done I'll arrange for my cremation, and I'll be taken care of, too!  Isn't this uplifting!!

Other than that, my hermit side has enjoyed lots of time at home, but I've also been out with friends.  Chris and I just went to a new Lebanese (yes! Lebanese in South Carolina) restaurant, which was very good.  We had falafel, hummus and baba ganoush sampler platter.  It was very tasty and I took enough home for dinner.  They also had shawarmas and it was really the first time I've been tempted to have meat in 6 years.  It brought back memories of the vendors in Khobar.....and lots more.  It was good.  We followed lunch with an art exhibit, where we chatted with several young people whom we really enjoyed.  It was a good afternoon!

We (Chris and I) have also joined Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry, which is a group that meets monthly at Indigo Run.  It is a whole new group of politically informed ladies.  They have some interesting speakers at the luncheon and the table discussion is always informative.  So now I'm involved in three political groups that meet monthly....that gives me my political fix.

I'm almost back into my walking routine...when the weather cooperates.  Summer storms in the South are typical, but over the years they have changed.  Years ago, they were predictable and welcomed - to break the heat and give a respite.  Now, they are torrential, with sheets of rain, swirling, heavy wind, crashing thunder and lightening!! The photo below shows what has become typical.  It's only recently that I realized that everything flows down into  my yard, so I'm hoping the storms don't become more virulent.  This is about the third or fourth time my yards has looked like this. There have been times that it has rained so heavily that I couldn't see the trees on the other side of the golf course.....scary!

About the only other thing happening was Caribbean Day at Mama's place.  Several of the CNAs there are from the Caribbean and they enjoyed sharing their food and music.  Unfortunately, I had to leave before the food arrived, but it did smell great...and there was lots of Bob Marley that day.  You can tell from the photos that my mother is nearly, if not completely, blind.  All things considered, she is doing well, though lately she has been somewhat distressed.  I don't think she's in pain and she can't articulate what the problem is.  I'm hoping this is a short phase that will soon pass.

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My apologies for the difficulties with the notification note AND the site.  It was up last night when I wrote the bulk of it, but it was down this morning and half of it was missing.  So, I'm getting worse instead of better!!  I'm going to stitch with it though, and I hope you will, too!  Thanks to those who let me know of the problem.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Summer is in Full Swing!

Summer is in full swing and I'm asking my usual question....where has the time gone and what have I done with it???  The Fourth of July has completely slipped up on me and I'm unprepared to celebrate. I did go over to have lunch with my mother, which proved to be a very festive affair.  There was live music and everyone was in good spirits.  I could hear the music when I entered the building, and my first thought was, "Oh, my Lord, Mama is having a fit, wanting to get out of that loud music!."  Little did I know that she had been up dancing!
But, before that, there was my friend David's birthday.  Last year on his 60th  birthday, he suffered a major stroke. His brother came down from Connecticut and spent weeks while David was in hospital in Charleston.  When he had to go home, his local friends took over.  He lives neat me so I took him grocery shopping, to appointments, etc......nothing major, but it was when Allan was dying and there would be days when both David and I would be in tears.  Even so, if you are single and friends step forward to help you, it means a lot.  So, on his 61st birthday he gave a very nice party and invited those who helped in his time of need.  It was a nice event...and a nice thing for David to do.


On my way to David's party I picked up Cheryl, who has been fostering Moonbeam, a baby kitten.  She has been posting videos almost daily of this cutie and all of her friends are wondering how/why she will relinquish him.   He is such a cutie....and totally spoiled by three adults.  He will be in shock when he gets to a normal household that doesn't record his every move!  In any case, I had to see him before he went to his adoptive family in Charleston. 

Two days after David's party was my mother's 93rd birthday.  As you can tell from earlier photos, she is in a pretty good place at the moment.  They seem to have sufficiently adjusted her pain meds and she has a routine that helps her get through the day in reasonably good spirits.  So, we both have a lot for which to be thankful.  


 In addition to these events, I've kept in touch with friends and Living Liberally.  I also attended "Moms Demand Action" against gun violence.  While I'm only a kitty-mom, it is an issue that
concerns me and I was interested in what they had to say.  Those of you in liberal and reasonable states might be surprised that this was not highly publicized.  They didn't' want a lot of gun nuts showing up!!  What a sad and pathetic situation.  The squeaky wheels in our society seem to be totally nuts.....and those who lead them have no scruples, only their own well-being in mind.
In that vein, my next task today is to email Speaker Boehner and tell him exactly what I think of his suing President Obama (we don't know why....he's still trying to manufacture the reasons!).  I began the note last night and consider it my patriotic duty to do this on the fourth of July.  I hope he appreciates the effort...as he will pay no attention to the content!

Well, in writing this entry, I know why the time has flown and why I get nothing of consequence done.....although there is lots of time left to do more than I do.  It is just that my "To Do" list is so long I don't know where or how to start.  There are also so many things I'd like to do for my own interest that it's difficult to do those things that "need" to be done.  Oh, well, I guess it will all come out in the wash!!



Happy Fourth

To those on this side of the Pond!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June: A Whirlwind Month So Far

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earthI've just been enjoying the company of friends and having a great time.  Shortly after Ann's visit, I received an email from Jim saying that he and Anthony were in need of a get-away.  He has recently retired from his hectic job in DC and moved to Florida.  They had been busy, cleaning, repairing, renovating, and doing all those things it takes to make a house a home. They had planned to visit his aunt in Atlanta and wanted to come by here, which was great.  They came the first weekend of the month and we had a nice visit.  They brought tiny Deva with them, which delighted Mama to no end.  We all visited her, but Deva was the focus.  It's always nice to see her and the others light up as they do with animals.

We went back to the infamous beach parking lot where I lost my car keys.  This time, too, proved to be calamitous, though not to the degree as Ann's visit.  It was a beautiful morning, with a nice breeze, making for a pleasant walk.  We went to the Westin for lunch.  The lunch was very good and it's a nice spot to sit, chat and enjoy the ocean view.  We noticed that the wind was picking up, and soon the sky began to cloud over.  The staff scurried around to collect cushions, secure umbrellas, and make the appropriate preparations. By the time we finished lunch, the sky opened and it poured.  Now we are over a mile from our car and it's pouring.  We were contemplating our options when I spot the Westin shuttle, so I go over and ask where he goes.  There is no one in the bus and the driver, an older man who has been doing this for some time, asked where I need to go.  I told him that my guests and I walked up for lunch and had gotten stranded by the rain, and he said, "Well, jump in and I'll take you real quick".  His random act of kindness made our day.  As I approached him, I thought my chances were slim and none, but he fooled me.  He was delightful, and Jim said we should have gotten his photo for our album, but it didn't cross my mind at the time. In any case, he came to our rescue.

Our time together was as enjoyable as ever.  We always have a lot to talk and laugh about, which is refreshing.


 
While Ann was visiting, I received an email from Sandra saying that they were taking a road trip and would be in this area around June 12....and they would like to stop in if I was available.  I sent her a quick reply saying that would be great.  When she realized that I had company (Ann), she asked if it would be easier if they stayed in a hotel........so I didn't tell her that I'd be having more company between Ann's visit and theirs!

They arrived on schedule and were the easiest company ever.....they had their own car and Sandra had lived here for years, so I didn't even have to plan an itinerary!! I just tried to make them comfortable, which was made easier since they were coming from a week in NYC and were happy to be in a quieter, more mellow place!  It was great to see Sandra again (not since about 2007) and a real pleasure to meet Howard.  Sandra and I gabbed non-stop and he handled it very well!  The next day Sandra took Howard on a grand tour of the island, while I did a few things I needed to do.  The following day we went to Palmetto Bluff for a leisurely morning and a very light snack at Buffalo's.  Evenings were spent at home, chatting.......very relaxed and comfortable.  

Though I was pooped at the end of it all, it was that pleasurable exhaustion that only comes from a series of wonderful experiences.  I am so glad everyone came and I would not have missed a minute of it!


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cold Turkey and Cabbage Soup!

Enough time has passed for me to recover a bit from Ann's visit, which was fantastic....though there was a lot of recovery required!  I worked frantically to get the house in order and some food in the fridge, and all worked out well with a little help.  I received a very good housecleaning deal (two cleaners for two hours for $79) from Living Social.  I had also received a coupon from them offering 25% off my next purchase, which made it too good to pass up.  The ladies we nice, efficient and did a great job, which made everything easier for me. I was so glad I did it.

The day before Ann was to arrive, Bloom had their annual Mother's Day party at 2PM.  So, I took time out for that.  The food looked great, the music was nice; but, by the time it was to begin, my mother couldn't stay up any longer.  She is to that stage where she spends a lot of time sleeping.  From time to time she will have a good day when she is awake and more alert, but they are becoming fewer. When they happen, we make the most of them.
 
Ann's plane was slightly late, but not much.  We went straight home and began the catch-up.  It was a fun evening of too much to catch up on at one time.  The next morning we went for a long walk on the beach.  It was the beach I usually frequent because the parking is easy and it in a good walk up to the Westin, which makes for a nice break.  We walked as far as we could go past the Westin and came back for lunch, which was leisurely and delicious.  We then walked back to the car.  As we were approaching the car, I felt in my bag for my keys....and NO KEYS!!  There really was no way to retrace our trail, so I used Ann's phone to call AAA as I was pretty sure I had an extra key in my purse, which was in the car.  As I was talking to the AAA lady, she asked where we were and I said, "Not only have I lost my keys, I don't know where we are!"  I couldn't remember the name of the beach, nor the name of the street.....it was either Bradley Beach Road or Singleton Road, but I wasn't sure which.  Then she asked the phone number on which we could be reached, so I asked Ann.....who said, "I don't know!"  By that time we are almost rolling on the ground and the lady on the phone seemed amused!  I give her credit for not haning up on us or thinking it was a prank call.  Instead she looked at her map and, while I couldn't give her names, I could tell her that it was the first left turn after the light at Folly Field Road.  When she said Bradley Beach Road to Dreissen Beach, I know they would come to our rescue.

We only had to wait about 15-20 for AAA and he did open the car; however, no spare key in my purse!  So, the plot thickens.  We walk to the restaurant on the corner and ask the hostess if she would call a cab for us.  After three tries, she did find one willing to take us back to my house.  While she's making the call, an owner or manager comes over to ask if he can help and we explain that the hostess is calling a cab for us....and he said, "Oh, had a little too much to drink???"  We both laughed and said, "Nooooo....we don't even need drink!"

Eventually we got home and after a short search found the spare key.  We called another cab to take us back to the car.  The good thing is that everyone was helpful, prompt, cheerful and supportive.  As the story developed, everyone along the way seemed to be amused by it....in the right kind of way.  So, all's well that ends well (though I haven't had the key replaced yet...)

We hoped that would be the most excitement of that type for the rest of the visit.  We had thought of going to Charleston, but we decided to stay close.  Our activities for the week included the following:
  • Beaufort
  • Palmetto Bluff and Bluffton
  • Harbourtown and Coligny Beach area
  • Shopping
  • A movie - The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Drinking Liberally
Ann will have to remind me of anything I've left out, but we did lots of walking every day.  I'd just lost 5 pounds with the Cabbage Soup diet and only put one back on.....not for lack of eating an drinking!  It was the walking that kept the balance.  Lois and Tony encouraged our delinquency by sending some cash with Ann.  It came with explicit instructions "not to be spent on anything frivolous.....alcohol only!"  I had stockpiled wine and thought I had enough; but, three days in, I fell woefully short  So, we visited the local wine shop and followed instructions!  Reminiscing requires lots of wine...Thank you Lois and Tony for helping the cause!

I was also pleased for Ann to meet the Drinking Liberally crew, and for them to meet her.  Their response to learning that she was from Liverpool was, "Oh, we know Liverpool....the Beatles!"  She was made welcome and peppered with questions.  Many in the group had careers working for the government in DC and were surprised by our exploits in Saudi.  We also think we identified someone in the Witness Protection Program!!  He was there with his wife, and when I took photos (which you'll see below), he made a concerted effort to be out of them....even when we wanted one of him on his bike!!  He wasn't in the background - he was not in sight!!  Draw your own conclusions!

I'm sure I've left things out, but it was all lots of fun and like no time had passed since our last meeting.  We were both touched by Lois and Tony's thoughtfulness, just another reminder of those strong Aramco ties. We spent a lot of time reminiscing about good friends and good times.  It was a joyful week and one I won't forget soon.....just what I needed! Thank you, Ann, for coming.....it was great!




Monday, May 5, 2014

Another little box of ashes....

I expected to be too busy to write before Ann's arrival, but today has been nothing like planned and I've lost another kitty!  Around 3AM this morning, Chloe had a seizure and a second one several hours later, with a lot of heavy, erratic breathing in between.  I had her at the vet's by 7:15AM and they thought they had her stabilized, but she had another seizure and died at that time.  It all happened so quickly that it's hard to take it in, and it has tapped that well of sadness I can manage to keep calm most of the time.  So, I'm taking the time to give her the love and remembrance she deserves

Cat owners know that each cat is unique, with some spark that sets one apart from another.....and wins a spot in your heart  Chloe was my hippie child, dancing to her own drummer...when you least expected.  She had hip dysplasia, which caused her to have a funny gait and to walk with her tail down.  But, as soon as she was within a few feet on me, up went the tail.  With it being a long, thin tail, she was often called Rat-tail Girl.....all with affection.  For no reason whatsoever, she would dart from the kitchen to the hall, stop suddenly and look around, and dart someplace else.  She would also do that on the bed, skating around like a water bug.  We usually commented that she was glad to be alive!

She maintained a kitten's face and skinny legs with small little feet.  Everything in between was fat and bulbous, which also gave her the contradictory name of Tinsy Little Girl.....or Tinsy Little Rat-tail Girl!!!  She was also known as the kitchen gestapo and developed this knack of herding Smokey away from me as I prepared the breakfast food.  She had it down to a science.....and Smokey knew it!

She loved being near Gabby and every night they would groom each other's head before going to bed.  It was a nightly ritual. The dining room table was part of her domain and she could survey her territory from there.  She intuitively knew when it was 7PM......treat time!  And she didn't hesitate to remind me if I was late with treats.  She loved to help with chores, especially changing the bed.  as soon as the bottom sheet was on, she would get smack in the middle of the bed, lie on her back and squirm.....she loved a clean bed!  She was truly a character in her own right. 

In no time flat, I've gone from 5 cats in the house to now only two.  Tonight I'm likely to have the whole bed to myself.....not that I ever complained about having it full of cats.  I have not even gotten accustomed to being without Gabby, and now I have to do the same with Chloe.  Until they are gone, you/I don't realize how much their presence fills the house and adds love and joy to life.  I can't tell you how much they will be missed.

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