Friday, June 20, 2014

vacation half over

In the previous post, I stated that this vacation (the one I’m taking this week) is the first one I’d taken in 18 years without children.  That was not quite true.  This is the first vacation Someone and I have taken together without children in that many years.  Someone has taken a few vacations with his parents or just his dad, and I went by myself to Ireland to visit Sarah when she lived there.  That was probably the best vacation I ever had in my life – lots of adventure.
Someone seems a bit restless here without children to occupy his time.  We played golf four days straight which has been great fun, but today he is feeling under the weather with a cold.  He didn’t get up early and run like he usually does.  We went out on the beach for a bit and thrashed around in the waves for a short while.  I sat and read a chapter of my book, but left him asleep on the sand and came back up to the room.  I get bored sitting on the beach, it’s hot, and there’s nothing much to look at besides water, sand, and sky.  Well, and people too…but they all look the same after a while.  Anyway, I don’t want sun exposure doing something that’s not even that much fun.

Yesterday, we picked up a rental car to drive and delivered Someone’s wreck to a place to be towed away.  Now Someone is getting more serious about finding a new car.  I’m loving our rental – it has XM radio.  If I were not such a tightwad, I would subscribe to XM radio for myself.  There is nothing but country music, rap/hiphop/crap, and religious programs to listen to in our area.  I just don’t bother to turn the radio on anymore…there’s no point, really.

Golf has been so lovely this week.  We found a couple of courses very close to where we’re staying (less than 10 minutes away).  These are infinitely better courses than where we usually play at home – so much better maintained, real sand traps, water hazards are marked, rough is manicured, etc., etc….I could sing praises for hours about both of them.  These courses are very expensive to play in the morning, but in the afternoons when it’s too hot for most people, either one costs little more than the course we usually play at home.

The rough is not so rough

What do you suppose is my most favorite thing about these courses?  You might guess the water fountains with chilled water on every other hole, or perhaps that the golf carts have GPSs installed on them, or perhaps the lovely flower beds beside the tee boxes.  These are all features I marvel at, but my favorite thing of all are the friendly and unusual squirrels.  They are looking for a handout and are not a bit shy to come right up to you, sit up on their little haunches, and wait for you to toss them something.  Well, we have no snacks to offer, but even so, they are just very cute little rodents.  Until this week, I’d never seen black squirrels with white noses.

South Carolina squirrel

Our condo here has a king-size bed.  It’s easily big enough for three people to sleep in without ever having to touch each other.  I’ve been thinking how nice it would be to have a king-size bed at home.  Gracie usually sleeps between Someone and me.  Most of the time, there’s enough space for all of us, but sometimes we find her stretched out perpendicular to us with both of us being crowded off the bed.  Gracie growls if Someone tries to move her (which pleases me infinitely for some reason).  When I push her to a better place, she goes limp like a dead dog.  It’s kind of funny.  I love that dog.  Our bedroom is just too small for a king size bed, anyway.

The girls report that Gracie is grieving with me gone.  She sits outside on the porch and watches for our car.  They have to make her come in, and encourage her to eat.  If not for Someone’s expectations about vacation, I would have gone home days ago. 

Sweet Gracie

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

vacation has a rocky start

Someone and I are alone on vacation.  This is the first time I’ve been on a vacation without kids since the summer after our honeymoon...18 or 19 years…I’m too lazy to remember.   It’s a very different vacation, not better or worse, just different. 

years ago, at Myrtle Beach

There is no place on Earth someone would rather be than Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  That is where we are now.  He was disappointed that both girls declined to come with us this year, but they had rational reasons for not coming – primarily, their summer jobs.  Someone got over it quickly…indeed, because we didn’t have to wait on the girls' schedules, he plead with me to be ready to hit the road Sunday morning at 5AM to start the 8.5 hour drive.  I set the alarm for 4AM so I could shower and pack up last-minute things.  Whereas I heard the alarm and groaned, Someone popped up out of bed and began humming loudly. Damn him!  Why does he have to be so F’ing chipper in the mornings?

The day was beautiful for a drive – clear and sunny, and not much traffic on the highways because it was a very (VERY) early Sunday morning.  The rest areas along the Interstates were seas of parked 18-wheelers.  Just after high noon, we were about 85 miles from the beach, just outside Bennettsville, South Carolina, a little nowheresville-wide-place in the road.   An older man pulled out from a side road right in front of us.  Someone slammed on the brakes and tried to miss him, but cars were coming toward us in the other lanes and there was no place to go.  Our right front fender collided with his front left side of the car. 

It all happened so quickly.  Someone screamed “SHIT”, brakes squealed, then BAM!!!  Our seatbelts worked perfectly, which was something I didn’t consider at all until I observed that my sunglasses had flown off my face and shattered against the windshield.  The passengers in the other car were uninjured, and we were OK, so it’s all OK.  The visible damage to other car was worse than to ours.  We were able to drive on to the beach after several hours of delay for the police to arrive and write up the accident.  The other car had to be towed. 

car - now a wreck

The outside damage is not the most expensive damage.  We learned today that Someone’s car is totaled.  The seat belts and seat belt sensors have to be replaced, and that is more expensive than the exterior repairs.  Insurance will get us a rental soon (hopefully) and give Someone a fair settlement on his car.  He would have preferred to have it all repaired because he wanted to drive his car another year or two - it had a little more than 171,000 miles on it.    

The best thing about vacation this year is that I’m sleeping late every morning and we are playing golf every afternoon.  The weather has been perfect the two days we’ve been here so far.  Tomorrow is supposed to be another spectacular day – more golf (we already have a tee time).  Myrtle Beach is a resort area with more than a hundred golf courses within an hour drive.  It’s a golfer’s paradise.

So, vacation started out pretty rocky, but it’s better now.  I miss my kids and my dog in the worst way.  We are traveling home a week from today.  I think we’ll be driving a rental car, but I’m trying to encourage Someone to at least look at cars here.  The dealers are much larger here…he might get a better deal than if he buys a car at home.

Gracie - wish she was here

Thursday, June 12, 2014

got wood?

It is done.   Thank heavens it was done just hours before a horrendous wind storm hit our area two evenings ago.  It wasn’t a tornado, but it was a scary storm with wild lightning and high winds.  I had called tree trimmers weeks ago and they just showed up Monday morning without calling ahead.  The sky looked threatening that morning and I thought, “Oh great, they’re showing up to start the job so it can be rained out, so they can string me along while they start other jobs.”  Yeah, I know how these guys work.
I locked Gracie in the garage because one of the men was afraid of her.  Gracie doesn’t like strangers so she barks menacingly.  The fur stands up on her back which makes her look somewhat deformed and more vicious.   I discussed the job with the men, pointing out the limbs and trees they were to remove, and then headed off for work.  It looked overcast all day and sprinkled rain off and on, but the job was not rained out and was completely done by the time I got home from work.
It was quite a shock to come home and see the change created by trimming away limbs and cutting trees.  We lost a lot of privacy, but now maybe we can get grass to grow in the front yard, the apple tree may do better, and we have less worries about a tree falling on the house.  Indeed, the storm may have caused our cracked tree to split completely and do some major damage to our house.

Someone and I were playing golf Monday evening when the storm hit.  The sky was overcast and the course was not too crowded.  I was having a great round of golf – just 4 over par after the first 9 holes which is really good for me these days.  The sky was getting darker as we finished the 9th hole.  We debated playing the first 9 again because nobody was on #1 tee and the front is closer to the clubhouse and parking lot, but Someone was also playing well, and we both really wanted to play the whole course.
With thunder rumbling far in the distance and the sky turning an eerie yellow in the east, Someone and I headed down the hill and across the road over to #10 tee.  We felt a few sprinkles of rain, but finished 10 through 13 without care.  As we walked off the #13 green, I noticed we seemed to have the course almost exclusively to ourselves.  Most people had sense to leave, but we, in our infinite stupidity, were marveling at our dual birdies…much like the priest in Caddyshack who wouldn’t quit in the midst of a bad storm because he was having the round of a lifetime.   I remarked that maybe we should get back to the clubhouse because the thunder was definitely getting louder.  Someone reluctantly agreed and suggested we play #18 on the way in.  “Yeah, let’s do it!” I said. 
The wind started to gust as Someone hit his tee shot –straight down the middle which is kind of unusual for him because he usually fades (or slices).  He was well pleased.  I stepped up to the tee box knowing it didn’t matter what happened because the round was incomplete.  I let it rip and WOW…it was one of the best drives I’ve ever hit.  It had just that little bit of draw that makes the ball hit the ground and keep rolling.  It was low off the tee; right down the pipe.  WooHoo!!  It rolled at least 50 yards past Someone’s ball and stopped just 80 yards or so short of the green.  As we drove the cart toward our balls, there was a flash of lightning and a deafening BANG – lightning hit a tree somewhere close by.  We scooped up our balls and headed in.

We unloaded our clubs, parked the cart, changed shoes, and no more than got into our car when the heavens opened the floodgates.  Down pouring rain, buckets of it.  We sat there a few minutes waiting to see if it would let up.  Someone got impatient and off we went.  Just a mile down the road, it became nearly impossible to see.  Wind was blowing limbs through the air; some were hitting our car.  Finally, someone found a place to pull off the road and we sat for 20 minutes.  The rain slacked up and we headed home.  The roads were like an obstacle course with big limbs scattered around.  We saw uprooted trees and pine trees with the tops snapped off.  Some roads were closed because trees had fallen across, and there were several wrecks.  We had to turn around and reroute several times.  It was a stressful and long drive to say the least, but we finally made it home.
So, it was good fortune that we lost only a few tree limbs in the storm.  All the tree trimmer businesses are going to be very busy for the next month, but our work is done.  Well, not really.  The trimmers hauled away all the branches but left the wood because I wanted it for firewood.  Yeah, so there’s some major log splitting to be done.  For now, I’m just moving the logs that are small enough to lift and stacking them out of the way.  It’s hard work!  Harder than I remember it being, but I’m a lot older now than the last time I split and stacked wood.  I will have to split the big logs right where they are.  This may be a summer-long project. 

Half the maple was cut away.  We hope the crack will close up now.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014


The sun makes everything bright and more cheerful; I’m grateful for its rays that make plants grow, give us heat, and provide free light.  It reminds me that some things do seem to be permanent in this world, even though laws of physics inform us that all stars are temporary.  Nothing lasts forever, but I like to imagine people (Neanderthals, maybe) who looked up thousands of years ago saw the same stars I see at night.  At the same time, the sun is no friend of mine.  Not only have I had skin cancer because of it, it plays havoc with my hair.  It’s no surprise that someone of my advanced age colors her hair.  Direct sun for any length of time beaming down on colored hair changes the color.
When the weather is warm and free time is mine, there’s no place I’d rather be than outside doing something.  Golf, tennis, kayaking, swimming, hiking, and gardening are but a few of my favorite hobbies.  The thing is, I hate wearing hats - HATE, HATE, HATE wearing hats.  I’ve learned to tolerate a visor to keep the sun out of my eyes and shade my face, but a full hat is just too confining.

So, this time of year, I just color my hair every month.  It’s a lot to ask….the opportunity costs are $15 and 20 minutes.  It’s funny though, once it’s done, I feel young again.  It’s kind of like being youth-anized in the bathroom. 

At some point, I will just let myself go to hell.  It’s not time yet.  I still have hope of finding a full-time teaching job, so staying younger-looking at least until that happens is in my best interests.  The class I’m teaching this fall is full – 30 students have signed up.  Class starts in August…what an exciting prospect!!

I youth-anized myself this morning.  My hair is light brown again instead of odd-orangy-brass.  It makes me feel 20 years younger.  Perhaps it’s time to step away from the computer and tackle a big project before a game a golf this afternoon.  Someone is taking his Sunday afternoon nap, and then we’ll go play 18 if the rain holds off.  Actually though, I hope it rains.  There’s plenty to do inside, and my flowers and our garden need water.  Here are photos of two of my favorite planters.   


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Acid Cliff

Oh dear.  The bourbon bottle is open.  Tomorrow should be a dreadful work day, especially because I took today off work to drive Emily to Lexington.  Also especially because I took another 1.5 days off this week to spend with a houseguest.  Work is piling up, and my boss gave me another new multi-site application to deal with.  I will try to stop thinking about it since I’m busy now working on tomorrow’s hangover.

So, my houseguest (a.k.a. my mother) wanted to visit my alcoholic brother (her oldest son).  Lovely.  I called him a week ahead of time, and the day before.  He assured me he would be presentable.  We arrived at the appointed time and he was a mess.  When he finally answered the door and after we chatted a short while, he wanted me to drive us all to “Acid Cliff”, a place in Shawnee forest where, back in our high school days, was a place to go party.  I hadn’t been out there since my high school days, so it was quite a trip down “Memory Lane” to go back to that place.  I had forgotten the turn-off to get to it, and what a lovely view of the hills you can see from up there.

Acid Cliff, Shawnee Forest (southern Ohio)
I envy the bird

We weren’t out in the forest for long before alcoholic brother got the shakes and needed to go home to drink.  I helped him out of my van, supported him as he staggered up the steps to his door, unlocked his house, helped him across the threshold, put his key in his pocket, and closed his front door.   As I drove away, my mother cheerfully remarked that he seems better than when she saw him a year ago.  Jesus Christ!  It amazes me he isn’t dead yet.  He moves like a 95-year-old man.  The next day, he called me to ask if I’d been to the forest lately…he must have remembered something and wondered if it was real or not.  I reminded him that he, our mother, and I had taken a drive out there the day before.  He said he didn’t know our mother was visiting and asked if I was going to bring her down to see him.  Apparently vodka erased his short-term memory….or perhaps he just has none left.

brother and our mother "visiting"

The trip to Acid Cliff reminded me of a time alcoholic brother and I drove out to the forest and climbed a fire tower together.  It was his idea.  This was many years ago; I was about 21 or 22 years old.  It was a spectacular view from up there, but I should have never climbed up.  Coming down was terrifying.  The tower was not open to the public, and access to the stairs was locked.  We climbed up the outside of the tower on the steel girders.  No problem.  Great adventure. 

My brother went up the tower ahead of me.  I followed and never had any reason to look down.  We got to the first platform and rested.  It was my idea to go up to the second of three platforms.  Yes indeed, no trouble getting to that one either, and at that level, the view was breath-taking.  My brother wanted to go to the top, but it was getting late.  I suggested we just hang around a bit and then leave.   The time came to leave and then I realized that there was no safe/easy way to position myself back onto the girder from the platform…kind of like perhaps even worse than stepping off a roof onto a ladder (which I also hate doing). 

My brother offered no help or encouragement at all.  He threatened to leave me up there if I didn’t follow him.  He flopped down on his belly and scooted off the edge of the platform.  He stuck is foot in a girder hole, reached under the platform to find another hole, and started his way down the tower like a damn spider.  Easy for him – he’s nearly a foot taller than me.  Finally, I got enough courage to slide off the platform and wedged my foot into a hole.  As I was groping under the platform with one hand to find another hole to grab hold of, I slid off the platform, skinned the hell out of my chin, and nearly broke my ankle as I grabbed the underside of the platform just in time as I was falling backwards.

Needless to say, I was never temped to climb a fire tower again.