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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

More Eagles

     This morning Durelle alerted me to a photo-op with the pair of eagles. I was frying bacon, so I asked her to take the pictures with my clumsy Leica. She was unable to go to the full telephoto, so she had a lot of pictures of trees. The birds were patient, so I got a chance. The neuropathy precludes the good steady stance and grip needed for long lens work, but the light was good so I tried it. I should really get a tripod. The five shots below are the result.






     We are so fortunate to be able to watch and listen to these birds on a daily basis.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Getting caught up

     Since the last post, there have been a few events...most notably a week long visit from grandson, David, his girlfriend, Jacqui, and our great granddaughter, Brielle. Brielle is newly a teenager but without the usual annoying habits that teenage girls seem to have. They arrived on Sunday afternoon after Cindy and I had left in the morning, so Durelle had to pick them up by herself and bring them to the house. By the time I got home they had moved into their Tuesday-Thursday rental of a beach condo on the Isle of Palms. Here's a couple of shots from their balcony.



     Not too shabby, Dave.

     Meanwhile, back at our house, Dave and his grandmother were convincing themselves that surely not all of those hundreds of brown pods on the magnolia tree could possibly be blossoms. Wrong!!!


     Only a few have opened so far. Here's one of them.


     Is that a perfect magnolia blossom?

     This one almost qualifies as a tradition. Every six months Durelle and I get our teeth cleaned. Since we are done around lunchtime, we are ready to exercise our newly sharpened teeth at a local lunch establishment. Cindy often joins us. Today the favored institution was the "Home Team BBQ" in West Ashley. I had a sliced brisket sandwich with a side of beans that was tasty.


     Durelle had a chopped brisket sandwich with a side of mac 'n cheese which she enjoyed.


     Cindy had some sort of a large burrito which will provide her with several meals.

     For those of you who are interested, the bus is for sale at Atlantic RV Solutions

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Yes, we are still alive

     It has been nearly two months since I last posted. I finally have an event around which to build a post and and the same time to update our status. As always, you have my favorite blog-stalker's size XX shoe to thank.
     As much as I now hate to fly, I recently was able to take advantage of a new, nonstop Frontier flight from Charleston to Denver. It wasn't the introductory pricing, but the self-imposed requirement to eulogize a favorite classmate who was being memorialized at the USAFA. Durelle could not go as we were hosting our grandson, his significant other, and our teenage great-granddaughter for a week of Spring vacation. So Cindy accompanied the "old fahrt" through the TSA obstacles and other impediments. It's amazing how helpful a kid can be when you really need her.
     The trip would not really have been possible without the kindness and support of Phil and Laura Catalfamo. Phil was my office-mate in Alaska in the early sixties. They picked us up and delivered us to and from the airport, loaned us a car, and provided room and board for three days. By the way, the word "board" does not do justice to the wonderful Italian meals Laura provided.
     We were stationed there from '69 to '74, so it was nice to see some of the old landmarks again. The long range shots were taken from Phil's porch.






     Brita Glenn did a beautiful job of organizing a memorial service for her husband Warren H. "Buzz" Glenn. There were perhaps 75 classmates, family members, neighbors and friends in attendance. Here is a picture of Brita thanking everyone at a reception which was one of the very first special events held in the new golf course clubhouse.


     Both flights left on time and arrived early, but the seats are uncomfortable and non-adjustable. Snacks and drinks (of any kind) are expensive. It is an efficient way to travel when there are no other options.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Raptors


     We have recently enjoyed a brief but wonderful visit from our youngest grandson, Kevin. He has two real claims to fame that would seem to be impossible to exist in the same person. He had vascular surgery at six weeks and he played on his University's national championship rugby team! Here's a shot of him and Durelle.



It was taken at Poogan's Porch where they had lunch after a Cindy-guided tour of the city.

     During his visit we had a spate of unusual avian activity in the back yard. Here's a shot of our eagle acting like a duck.


     He didn't land in the water. He landed on the shore and waded in. He does not have webbed feet, so this is a very unusual position for him. He stayed around for quite a while, wandering around the bank of the retention pond.


      When he left, I tried to get a shot of him in flight. With a moving eagle, a moving camera and a slight delay in the auto-focus, success is unlikely. I'll show you one, anyway, if only to demonstrate the difficulty.


     As I was putting the camera down and walking away, there was an explosion of feathers and water almost under my feet. I whipped around, aimed the camera in the general direction of an osprey who had just dive-bombed a fish. The shot was quick and reflexive, but the result was almost a good wildlife picture....Just luck.


     A retention pond would not be expected to generate all the wildlife activity that we have. The real attraction and habitat is the hundreds of acres of the Goose Creek reservoir and its surrounding marshes that abuts our lot. We are fortunate to have it.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Angel Oak

     Quercus virginiana. You've all seen them when wandering around the southeastern U. S. or while watching scary movies. Their gnarly, twisted limbs dripping with Spanish moss, are stage setters for Hitchcock et.al. Well, perhaps the biggest and oldest has a place of honor on the list of places to visit in Charleston. It's called the Angel Oak.

     So, when out of town friends drop by and the day is ideal for touring, it makes a great stop. Yesterday, Bill and Diane Russell and their slightly neurotic but handsome Collie, Oliver paid us a visit. Cindy had a day off, so she could be our excellent tour guide. Oliver does not not walk on concrete, hardwood floors, or tile! He stayed with Durelle and Mocha in the back yard and screened porch.
     It is impossible to take a picture of that tree which does it justice. If you capture the magnificent old trunk, as Cindy did here, then you don't show how far it is spread out. It is much wider (288 feet) than it is tall. The age of the tree is disputed, but the youngest guesses are 400 to 500 years. 
     A cute fact about the Cloutiers and the Russells is that when we met for lunch one day in Massachusetts, it was our fifth meeting but the first one that was planned. We both owned Allegro Bus motorhomes and had met at Red Bay, AL, Tiffin rallies and campgrounds. After bumping into them at four assorted RV venues we decided to "formalize the relationship" with a lunch. Yesterday's lunch spot is a favorite of Cindy's. Hey, she was driving! It's a small, pleasant restaurant that outgrew its food truck beginnings. Would you believe I had a calamari taco, red rice, and a beer?
     In case you are wondering what your favorite blogger looks like these days, Cindy took a shot of Bill and me.


     There is a little side story with the picture. If you look closely, you will notice that I am barely leaning against a 4X4 that is used as one of the supports for the tree. I can't stand unaided very long, and I did not want to lean against the tree itself. That would be poor etiquette and was forbidden by numerous signs, so I chose the man-made 4X4. Nonetheless, Mr. Ranger came over and chastised me. He didn't want me leaning on the supports, either. Oh, well...I've been corrected by tougher folks than him. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Birthday

     Well, we both had dental appointments and I had PT to squeeze in in the morning before we met Cindy at the "Fleet Landing" for a birthday lunch. It's a building that at one time, I think, was a ferry terminal. Today it is one of those dockside eateries specializing in local fish. Their oysters weren't nearly as good as I had two days before at Bistro-217 in Pauley's Island with Myrt and Debra. Emphasizing local fish that do not usually appear on a menu, their catch of the day was "sheepshead". It was good...a flaky, white fish.



     They do have a good view of the Charleston harbor which is dominated by Fort Sumter


.
      So, I'm starting my 80th trip around the sun. Although hindered by serious mobility issues, I'm feeling pretty good.
      The picture below was taken last week and doesn't really fit here, but I have a nice shot of "our" pair of bald eagles.



     I have seen eagles all my life, although there was a dry spell in the 80's. But we have never lived for an extended period with a nesting pair in our vicinity. We hear their distinctive whistling shriek on a regular basis, and they provide convenient photo-ops when I'm having trouble drudging up some blog fodder.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Wrestling?

     Some of you know that high school and NCAA wrestling has intersected with the paths of our lives many times over the years. It started with my modest success in both the intramural and JV ranks at West Point. It continued during our three years in Norman, OK as the University of Oklahoma is a perennial leading contender in the NCAA rankings. From there we went to the Air Force Academy where I was on the faculty. I quickly began volunteering with their wrestling team and became the "Officer Representative" from '72 to '74.
     That meant that I was the faculty assistant coach for all matters  except coaching. Our kids fondly remember having the cadets on the wrestling team coming to our house after a Saturday home match and making homemade ice cream with our hand cranked ice cream maker. Many folks were puzzled by the several perfect circles of brown grass in our lawn where a bit of spilled brine had done its thing. I accompanied the team to all the away games and paid bills, arranged post weigh-in training meals etc. 
     When we made it to Nashua, NH in 1977, the kids were in high school and both of them became deeply involved in the sport. No, Cindy did not wrestle. She did, however, start her journalism career as a stringer for the Telegraph providing the results and game stories of the NHS wrestling team. She became the the official scorer for home matches and even for the state championships on occasion. Most matches had at least one "discussion in front of the scorer's table involving: the referee, opposing coaches, and scorers. Nashua's long time coach once told me that, "Cindy was never wrong." Mark, nicknamed "the baby-faced assassin" by the Telegraph's sportswriter, had a successful wrestling career for NHS. I volunteered where I could, and one year was the Meet Director of the State Championships. Mark returned to the Air Force Academy as a cadet and rejoined the USAFA team of his youth with modest and occasional success.
     In subsequent years we remained fans of the sport. I still receive a weekly newsletter from the Army coach.
     So where in the world is this rambling recollection leading? 



Well, yesterday the Citadel hosted the "All Academy Wrestling Championships" at their field house in Charleston. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the Merchant Marine Academy were all there. To complete the eight teams necessary for a filled out bracket, the Citadel also invited Norwich and VMI. Cindy was kind enough to bring me to the semi-final round (where the greatest number of points are at stake).


     The top three finishing teams were Navy, Army and Air Force in that order.

     To wrap up this atypical narration, let me complete the bookending of this blog post with a picture of me taken sixty years after the one at the beginning.