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Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas '15

     Well, another Christmas has come and gone.  Here in Charleston the temperature reached 81 degrees...a record for the date.  Sure enough, a few presents did show up.


     Cindy joined us for a Christmas breakfast of bacon and pancakes with real maple syrup.  I did a small standing rib roast on the Traeger for a fairly early dinner so she could go to work.  Durelle added Ann Grover's broccoli casserole and the rice pilaf that she has been doing for almost fifty years.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Jackie Fare sent along a personalized Yankee Candle with a sentimental picture and caption.  Thanks, again, Jackie.  My being a sentimental old f***, I got Durelle a new clothes dryer.
     In driving around Hanahan there were some nicely decorated homes.



     The sign, if you can't read it, says,"Ho, Ho, Ho.  Donner and Comet are loose in the neighborhood.  Please drive slowly."
     The stitches are gone from my hand.  A palm reader will think I have encrypted my life's story.
     This post number 650.  I thank all the hard core readers who have hung in there.  I wish you a healthy and happy 2016, and I hope our country will have a better year than has recently been the case.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Disconnected Observations

        A year or so after we moved in, we had to have three dead or nearly dead trees removed.  They were a large factor in choosing this lot, but they did not survive the construction process.  There's a city ordinance that says that, if you take down a tree with a diameter of six inches or more at chest height, you must plant a replacement.  So, outside our front door, we planted a holly that is now thriving.  The berries barely got red enough in time for a Christmas picture, but there sure are a lot of them.


    

  
    
     I have been asked about the status of the bus.  The major problem, of course, was the main slide-out.  It has been bothered by fragments of broken safety glass when the rig was burglarized several years ago.  We have had several slide failures since.  Each time a shear pin has failed while trying to close a jammed slide.  A shear pin is like a mechanical fuse.  It is made of a soft metal so that a drive motor won't fail.  After several failures, there was an ovaled hole that made failure easy if not inevitable.  It has been repaired to the happy satisfaction of both ProTech and me.
     I had some hand surgery Friday to repair a "trigger finger" on the ring finger of my left hand.  Trigger finger is like a small scale version of carpal tunnel syndrome.  The ligaments that open and close a finger pass through a sheath.  When interference occurs, you can close a finger, but releasing it is difficult and may require a painful release using the other hand.  Surgery was a 30 minute, out-patient affair, but I had to show up at 0600!  Durelle picked me up around ten.  So far, so good.
     We had a pleasant connection last Sunday with previously unmet relatives at a local bistro.  Harry Cloutier was my uncle.  His wife, Marjorie, was a Cobb from Maine.  Her brother had a son, Rick Cobb, who was living in the area.  Cindy, Durelle and I met Rick and his wife, Doris, at Madra Rua, a nearby Irish pub .  He's a Citadel grad who retired from the Air Force, so we had a lot in common.  Here's a picture.  I must confess that it was Facebook that made the reunion possible.


     The tree is up and "Things are starting to look a lot like Christmas".


     There are no presents under the tree as yet, but I suppose that Santa will take care of that.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Short History Lesson

     Yesterday the Mayor of Goose Creek, SC, Michael Heitzler, led about 200 local residents on a tour of the St. James, Goose Creek church.  He's an enthusiastic historian with several books to his credit.  The stucco over brick church was begun in 1713 and, while normally closed to the public, remains in remarkably good shape.  What is unusual is the slate jerkinhead roof with no steeple.  Both choices were probably due to experience with hurricane force winds.






     You have to realize that this was three generations before the Revolution.  The coat of arms of King George with the unicorn and the lion still adorns a piece of prime real estate above the altar.  The story goes that when the British were ravishing the countryside and searching for Francis Marion, that coat of arms saved the church from their wrath.

    
     In the early eighteenth century the low country, centered on Charleston, was home to the wealthiest citizens of North America.  Goose Creek was the site of wealthy plantations not only because it was in the middle of those suitable croplands, but also because it was a transportation crossroads.  Some American colonists were people looking for a place to practice their religion without interference or even persecution.  Others were missionaries.  The folks who set up shop in this area, however, were not nearly so altruistic.  The leaders came for money and power.  Cotton, rice and indigo generated huge profits.  The industry was labor-intensive, but that was not a problem; the plantation owners would just purchase more boatloads of slaves happily provided by Arab (and other) slave traders.  The culture evolved into a bi-modal one with a few living hypocritical lives of aristocratic elegance while many lived lives that were impoverished, brutal, and short.  That culture evolved and spread throughout the south, and its residue is easily visible even today.  A "southern living" society embodies a genteel and gracious approach, but the blonde's ugly roots are still evident.
    

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

     Turkeys, turkeys, turkeys...there are so many ways to cook them.  There are fried turkeys, rotisseried turkeys, grilled turkeys, smoked turkeys and traditional, oven roasted Butterballs complete with a red button that pops out when the turkey is done.  I think I've done them all.  This year was a new wrinkle.  I used a recipe from Yankee magazine, but I cooked it on the Treager rather than in the oven.
     I started yesterday by brining a 13 1/2 pound fresh turkey overnight.  It was a conventional brine with salt, sugar, bay leaves, crushed garlic cloves, etc. until the recipe called for a cup and a half of bourbon!  The pot with the turkey and two gallons of brine just fit in the top shelf of the refrigerator.  The basting sauce included: stock, butter, and chopped pecans which had been run through the blender with some more bourbon.  1 1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup provided some sweetness.  In order to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast, I cooked it upside down, tented with foil for the first two hours.  It was on a rack in a roaster pan.  In addition to putting some stock in the pan to catch the drippings, I had some other liquid from the night before.  When I carefully opened the plastic wrap containing the bird, I captured a cup and a half of juice...let's say it; "turkey blood".  It was stirred into the stock in the pan.  When all that basting sauce made its way into the bottom of the pan, the result was some rich gravy. 


    
     Is that a good barbeque mop?  When the bird was done, it found its way to a platter my mother gave us forty years ago.


     The sides included: mashed potatoes, butternut squash, turnip, cranberry jelly and Cindy brought some creamed onions.  Here's the assembled feast:

     We have much for which to be thankful.  The world's turbulence is creeping closer to where we live, and a pandering government is endangering our grandchildren's future.  Nonetheless, we operate on some traditional values that continue to stabilize our lives.  May all of you enjoy the traditions...even the Detroit Lions.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

No news is good news

     In 2008 this started as a travel blog, and I have struggled to keep it such.  There are times, however, when we've been home a while and have no great pictures to build a blog around, that I am compelled to admit that this effort is mostly about keeping in touch with friends.  We've been home a couple of days short of a month with little exciting going on.  I've resumed bi-weekly PT, and it's gradually helping.  I have yet to visit my spinal specialist.  We'll see where that leads us.

      
     Baxter has had four growths removed.  The one on his toe was primary because it interfered with walking.  The other three were largely cosmetic while he was under.  All stitches are now out, but he does have to wear a boot when he goes out.  His heart, lungs and digestive system are all extraordinarily healthy, so he seems to manage everything else just fine.  Vision and hearing are nearly gone.
     Durelle, of course, is strong enough for all of us.  She even got in some golf with Cindy recently.
     I was going to add my all Fall foliage pictures...consisting of a magnolia and a Confederate Rose.  The magnolia blossoms are at their photographic peak for less than 24 hours each.  I missed the ones that were close enough for a close-up.  Here's our hibiscus mutabilis or Confederate Rose.


     I guess if I really want a nice Fall color picture, I'll have to steal one from Jackie Fare.


     This is their back yard, by the way.
     Thanks to Jack and Liz Flood for reminding me that I needed to get off my duff and post a blog.  It provides both comfort and a little pressure to be reminded that there are a number of friends out there that care about us even when we don't have any material for a travel blog.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Baxter

     

     Some of you have asked about Baxter.  I mentioned on the 8th that we had seen a vet in NY.  The morning after we arrived we took him to his regular vet.  His reaction was exactly the same as the NY vet.  He said,"Wow, that's weird.  I've never seen anything like that before."  He has a growth on the side of a toe pad on his right rear foot about half the size of a toe pad.  It is now almost completely callused over...much like a regular pad.  After a couple of weeks of tolerating a bandaged foot, he has now spent a couple of days walking normally.
     The vet is making further inquiries with specialists in his network, but it is beginning to appear as if he won't need foot surgery.  That's good because healing from the resulting hole in that location would be difficult.  He also has a growth on his back and another on his eyelid that need to be removed.  Those relatively simple procedures have been put on hold pending the foot decision so that we will only have to do the general anesthesia thing one time.
     Meanwhile, he is acting more like his OLD self.  He enjoys coming and going to his own back yard without six steep steps where he can lie in the sun while Durelle tries to do a summer's worth of weeding.  He even drags out a squeaky toy from time to time!  He is not yet taking his evening walks around the neighborhood, but he acts as if he wants to.  A small version may happen soon.  He doesn't run, and he occasionally falls, otherwise, he is doing well.  Getting old is not without it's struggles.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Home !!

     We are home and safe.  Portions of I-95 are closed, so we went west to I-81 and took it south to  I-77 to Columbia, SC where we picked up I-26 into Charleston.  We got in at four so we got the essentials unloaded tonight.
     Thursday morning it was clear that the tow bar assembly had bitten the dust.  As a result Durelle had to drive the Jeep!  While I was waltzing with a consortium of tandem trailer rigs and moving up through the hills of western Virginia, I would look back and tagging along behind was the blue Jeep.  This time it was not due to the efforts of the Blue Ox, but it was due to the stalwart efforts of Durelle.  She drove 415 yesterday and 310 today...and she was only thrown one finger.
     Last night we stayed in a new place; Fancy Gap KOA 8 miles north of the NC border on I-77.  We were escorted to our site because it was unusual.  After we got level with judicious use of jack pads, and I had hooked up power, water and cable, Durelle asked me to try the DirecTV.

  





     It was a heavily wooded site, so I didn't figure we had a chance, but I gave it a try.  After a few moments of listening to the scanning, we heard voices coming from the TV.  I would not have bet a nickel, but I guess Durelle was rewarded for her yeoman efforts when our towbar failed.
     We are all happy to be home, and so is Baxter.  He sees the vet tomorrow morning.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Multiple Topics

     There are several events worth noting, but they have little in common other than being sequential.  So...resorting to the cowardly option of chronological order, I will begin with our closing days at the Moorings.The community was significantly diminished on the 28th of Sept. when the Roths left.


     That was also the day that we had a total eclipse of the moon.  What follows is a picture of a partial eclipse.  It's not a great picture, but it proves that I stayed up late enough to take one.


     We left on the first with an uneventful trip to Brookline, NH.  On the 2nd we met much of the Cloutier clan at Smokey Bones for supper.  Here's a picture of great granddaughter, Brielle, with her father.


     The picture was taken inside, in the evening, without flash, and it shows, but it is a nice father/daughter picture.  That's a root beer bottle.
     We left Brookline on the 5th and spent two wonderful days with the Fares.  First we had to tuck the bus into the reserved spot #1,



 while their Allegro was relegated to overflow.


     We took a local area tour, which included West Point, and a view of the NYC skyline about 50 miles to the south.



     We could also see the Bear Mountain Bridge and some of the Hudson River traffic.  



  
     We also discovered the spot on Baxter's back foot that had been spotting blood for a while.  The Fares found us a vet that made an almost immediate appointment and provided excellent service at a reasonable price.  Baxter's back right foot is bandaged because of a growth on the side of a toe pad that is almost the size of a toe pad.  We'll see what his regular vet says as soon as we can.
     Jackie sent us on our way with some excellent sandwiches.  We spent Wednesday night at Pine Grove, PA.  It's a good place we have used before with satellite for the first time in 48 hours.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Southbound

     No pictures tonight.  We got in to Brookline, NH at six...well after Happy hour.  For those that would like some pictures of this place, please click on Field and Stream RV Park.  The day was uneventful, after we got started.  Yesterday's downpour and washouts precluded our grocery shopping, so we did it today.  We stopped a few hundred yards down the road to get some air in the fronts and had an boring (that's a good thing when you are driving) trip to NH.
     We'll get some family time with children, grand-children and great granddaughter, Brielle and have a more complete blog soon.
     We are in an alternate site from our reservation so we can get satellite TV (thanks, Dan).  Now Durelle can watch the Red Sox and the Yankees.  Cindy's safely home and all's right with the world.
     We miss our Moorings family and look forward with great anticipation to next year.
     Baxter is doing OK...eight more days of RV steps.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

feeding friendz

     Without question, the highlight of the summer camping season at The Moorings is that period of a week or two when Tim and Wendy Boucher arrive and overwhelm us with their many-faceted cooking talents and their generosity.  They have been mentioned many times in this blog, and I have occasionally used a picture or two of Wendy's.  This time this blog will be almost totally comprised of their cooking and Wendy's pictures.  feeding friends, by the way, is the name of their barbeque team which is very competitive up to, and including, the national level.  Here they are with the "two boys", Scout and Coal while exploring Fort Knox.  That's Bucksport in the background.


     Their rig is a fifth wheel with a "toy hauler" room and tailgate in the rear.  They do not carry the typical assortment of kayaks, motorcycles or ATVs the most toy haulers carry.  They carry an eye watering collection of wood burning grills, smokers and pizza ovens that enable them to turn out an amazing assortment of appetizers entrees and desserts.  It is almost a game to try to think of something they can't cook on a grill.  I one suggested creme brule...no problem.  Their first trip to The Moorings this year saw them feeding the entire campground over the Fourth.  This time was slightly more relaxed, and they got in a little sight-seeing.  Wendy's camera skills nearly match her culinary prowess.  Check these out.









     The only campground cooking event not involving the Bouchers is the collection of lobster boils that Dick Roth puts on each year.  For the last one we steamed 52 pounds of lobster.  Below are a few of Wendy's pictures of that.



  




     One of their specialties is their 750 degree, wood fired pizza oven.  By using small portions of store bought pizza dough, everyone could make an individual pizza of their own.  Would you believe ground lamb and feta?





     I'll wrap up this testimony to the Bouchers with a few shots Wendy took while visiting the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.






     Any campground in the country would be very happy to have the Bouchers drop in; and if they had any rules about no pets, they would change the rules.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sunrise

     After exactly five months in the RV, I finally saw a sunrise!  That was due to a combination of circumstances.  Number one: retirement is for sunsets not sunrises.  If you get up before the paperboy, why are you retired?  Second; the sun is now dallying around until the almost civilized hour of six thirty.  Lately people have been showing me their sunrise pictures, and the summer here is slipping away.  So I decided last night that, if I woke up at an appropriate time, I would give it a shot.  Sure enough, when nature called, the clock said, "6:03".  I climbed out of bed as quietly as I could, answered Mother Nature and got dressed.  Without getting into the closet and awakening Durelle, I was limited to the shorts and polo shirt I had hung up the night before.  The pre-dawn temperature was 45 degrees...oh, well.  I turned on the quartz auxiliary heater in the bus, grabbed the camera, and headed out.



     
     The sun wasn't up yet so I sat my mini-tripod up on a picnic table for stability in low light and waited.  I counted five people and two dogs down on the beach at that obscene hour.


     At 6:29 the sun, moving as slowly as I had twenty minutes before, finally peeked up over the horizon.  It seemed to have the same reservations that I did about getting up at that hour.



     
     OK, been there...done that, so I headed back to the bus for a hot cup of dark roast coffee.  There's your sunrise pictures.  I hope you appreciate the sacrifice.