Monday, December 31, 2007

Seeing the Old Year Out in Style

Such fun! We always have old favorite things to do, and places to go, and there are new ones to experience too. One of the first necessary visits was to our favorite Irish tavern in Myrtle Beach, Flynn's. We had an excellent corned beef dinner and a couple of pints. In this picture, Jim demonstrates the best position to be in after an evening at Flynn's.
In the afternoon, a fog, or low flying cloud, moved in off the beach and gave us this interesting view off our balcony. Looking straight out to the ocean from our balcony you could see nothing but fog, not even the beach below. Then down the beach, you could actually see it moving between the buildings. It came and went several times during the day, but the temps were mostly in the mid 60's and just beautiful.
We found a local winery, "La Belle Amis", that was hosting a bonfire event for the day, with these terrific Jazz musicians. They were just great, and one guy was making s'mores with Gheridelli chocolates and handing them out. What a marvelous taste! The wine was pretty good too, and what a great afternoon, to nibble on cheese and fruit, sip wine and visit with the people around us.
The winery had two dogs that worked the crowd and added to the fun. One was a border collie, Belle, who would herd any small child who came close, and the other Amis, just strolled among the relaxing guests, mooching snacks.One of our favorite stops is at a local seafood market, where we buy a whole bunch of fresh, never frozen shrimp. So delicious! Jim buys a half dozen oysters, and ceremoniously shucks them out, then sits down to eat them raw, accompanied by a bottle of dark beer. This year he had a special bottle of dark beer from Vermont, a birthday present from our favorite Vermonters. It's a treat he alone loves, and the rest of us just watch. This year he bought a couple extra dozen and we enjoyed them together in oyster stew, with scrambled eggs, and a couple in a brand new way, cooked in the half shell, with just a dash of hot sauce. Yummy. The shrimp gets parboiled and peeled, then we've enjoyed it in kabobs with the best fresh pineapple we ever tasted and other goodies, then just garlic and buttered, and with eggs. We have enough for one more shrimp meal, and it'll be great. There's something so very special about fresh shrimp. So sweet and delicious.

This shot is from this morning's sunrise, right off our balcony. So pretty and peaceful.
Happy New Year everyone.

Friday, December 28, 2007

At the Beach!

Once a year, we escape the snowey Northern Indiana weather for a week at the beach. My daughter and her husband meet us at a condo where we share the off-season wonderful rates to rent a multi-room suite high above the beach and spend a week soaking in the hot tub and walking the beach.
We left early Christmas Morning and drove the motorhome south. It was great to see the mountains again, even though they were cold and snowey. We spend Christmas night in a motel in Tennessee, where I used the microwave to warm a pre-packed dinner for my favorite birthday guy. A cornish hen roasted with rosemary and garlic butter, baked potatoes and a delicious salad made up our dinner, served with a nice bottle of chardonney. Cakes are out for me, and he's kind enough to go along with the wheat-free lifestyle too, so his birthday cake was a warmed dish of rice pudding, topped with coffee creamer and birthday candles. There was a change of hotels from our original plan, when they closed our original hotel for repairs, so Kim talked the management into finding us another, newer, nicer hotel, where we had a set of rooms so new they still smelled of fresh paint. We're on the 19th floor and the view is just beautiful. We keep seeing flocks of pelicans flying along the beach, BELOW our balcony. What a view!
Just a couple hours after we checked in, we saw two dolphins cruising by off the beach. They looked like they were just slowly rolling along, out for a stroll in the evening. Just gorgeous. We had a great seafood dinner last night at the restaurant next door.

So today, we drove up to the nearby State Park to walk the beach to see what had washed up onto the beach. It was fun to watch the shore birds running through the surf. We found lots of broken shells, one shark's tooth, and a sea anemone. Jim got stuck on a pier support when a big wave came in. Funny picture.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What a Difference One Breezy Night Can Make!

A few days ago there were 10 inches of snow and ice outside, and accidents everywhere as we slowly crept about the slickery roads. Then it got warmer and it was excellent snowman weather as things started to soften and pack down.

Last night it sounded like a spring wind booming around the house all night, snapping the cover on the motorhome shelter and keeping me awake. This morning we woke up to what these pictures show. A small leftover hump is all that’s left of Frosty today, and the green grass is showing all around. There’s a skim of ice in the plastic toboggan, where the snowmelt off the roof first filled the sled, then it froze over. It seems to be getting a little colder as the morning progresses.
The ivy is showing under the birdfeeders, and the birds are all off scavenging whatever’s been exposed by the melted snow today. There’s not one single bird feeding off what we put out.

And…the cable’s out! Not just the internet, but the tv and the phone, since we use the internet for our phone service too. Somewhere around here, the wind has taken our wires down and we’ll be out of touch with the world today, until they get it fixed. The wonderful thing is that we still have electricity. In the past, that was the first to go, but since they buried so many lines, we seldom lose that anymore. So life is good, we can’t call out, except by cell phone, and nobody can call us, but we’re warm and cozy. This note will have to wait until service is restored before posting. No rush, we’ll get it back soon.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas--and Peace to All of Us

Our idea of a wonderful holiday sure has changed over the years. These days we do very little shopping, and wrapping, baking, and making lists. We can't afford the dollars or the calories, and even more important, there's just noplace to put all that stuff we used to accumulate. Somehow though, as we buy and do less, we feel richer and fuller in our hearts than in the past when we were rushing from place to place. The fact that we have more time to idle around, and play with our beloved granddaughter has a lot to do with it, and life just gets better all the time. Our best wish for anyone reading this would be to find the contentment we're finding with our lives now. Here are pictures showing the highlights of our week so far.
Jim and Anna had a great time making snow angels outside, and built this Frosty to stand guard in the back yard for a while. His carrot nose was missing first thing in the morning, and he was sort of on a tilt, so we thought maybe a deer raided him overnight, but we found he had just slightly melted, and his nose was on the ground at his feet. The woodstove waits with warmth when they come inside, and provides a cozy place to soak up the heat and enjoy hot chocolate after a brisk time in the cold. The birds are really active on the feeders. We have at least 4 pairs of cardinals, and juncos, titmice, Carolina Chickadees, Gold Finches, Purple Finches, and one small downy woodpecker. They sure do love the black oil sunflower and thistle seeds we put out for them.

In the background, just to the right of the stump, you can see the beehive, where our tiny honeymakers are cozy and warm inside, insulated by their blanket of snow.

What an unlikely color on a drab day! Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal stand out like neon lights among the soft colors of a snowey day. Just gorgeous. Life is very good to us these days.
Jim and I wish all our friends a Merry and Peaceful Holiday Season. Love to you all.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Snow in Sunlight

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Pretty, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

What a great weekend! We had Anna on Friday and went out to cut down a small Christmas tree, brought it home and put it up in the bay window. Nice and small, compact and out of the way, and yet very pretty and visible from outside.

Everything's more fun with a three year old along, and Anna was thrilled with the whole process. She really got into choosing the tree, and wandered all over the field, trying to talk us into picking this one, or this one, or this one's just perfect!

We brought it home and started loading it with lights and stuff, and she was just beside herself with excitement, and telling us where to put each thing so it'd be "just perfect, and most beautiful.

After she went home with her Daddy, we rested a while. There's always a resting time after Anna. We love her, but she takes a lot of energy. Then went out to our favorite Irish Restaurant for a great dinner and a couple of pints while listening to our favorite Irish band. Than friend happened to stop by and we had a great far-ranging conversation with them. What a wonderful evening.

Bad weather was predicted for Saturday, so we planned nothing more than staying home warm and comfy, with a cozy fire in the wood stove. Andy, Jess, and Anna stopped by for a short visit, then went home to stay out of the storm themselves.

All day long as I sat basking in the warmth of the wood fire and enjoying the view out on our woods, friends and family called with good wishes. What a lucky person I am, to have so many good people wishing me well.
Dinner that evening was rosemary roasted chicken, a generous salad, olives and a bottle of beaujolais. We ended up in our comfy chairs in front of the fire with a great sharp Irish cheddar cheese, while we watched the birds feeding outside in the dusk.

And it's great that some forgot and called late, since as late as today, tuesday, I got another email with birthday wishes. Talk about stretching the event out for a while!

Winter's coming on now, and we have one load of wood stacked up and ready, and we're stocked up on food and wine, so we can just stay in and safe. Life is very good!