Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Forced March on Memorial Day

It was warmer on Memorial Day. I woke up to the alarm on my cell phone (it normally goes off every weekday and I forgot to turn it off).

A couple of cups of coffee, a shave and shower and I was ready to go! It was time for another mystery hike. This time, Carla and Whiskey went along, too!

Sidebar: Carla's allergies didn't allow her to go on the swampy Congaree walk.

So, we headed out to the Sesquicentennial State park. The park features a 30 acre lake, six miles of bicycle trails and a two mile walking trail.

They have camping, fishing, boat, canoe, paddle boat and kayak rentals but no swimming. I'll let the pictures tell the story...

Whiskey and I were both getting tired and Carla's allergies were kicking in about 3/4 of the way around the lake. There were flies again, but this time a few mosquitoes tossed in as well.

Just before we got back, a light rain started to fall. It was refreshing, rather than annoying.

While Jake took a few pictures for me, I made a quick pit stop at the restroom and Carla gave Whiskey some water at the car. Then we headed back home.

We stopped for some Popeye's Chicken, biscuits and red beans and rice. They also insisted on stopping at the book store as I had mentioned I was out of books.

Finally, we were home again. We ate the chicken, biscuits and read beans and rice for lunch.

I did a load of laundry before repacking my suitcase. Whiskey and I took a nap (we were both tuckered out!) while Jake and Carla did Jake and Carla things.

Jake made coney dogs for dinner and we ate them with the last of the leftover potato salad. Excellent dinner (and the only coney dogs you can get in SC).

We watched a World War II movie in honor of Memorial Day. We wanted a war where America won and, sadly, that was basically the last one.

 Despite the nap, I was still beat and went to bed early.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

True that!

Tropically Depressed

I slept like a rock for a change. Maybe I should walk over two miles every day!

The tropical depression turned into the newly-named "Bonnie" tropical storm and parked off-shore near Charleston, SC on Sunday.

Which resulted in a cooler sunny morning with a lovely, light breeze.

But, we watched the Weather Channel and scrapped all our plans for today.

Instead, we took the day off to relax and make soup.

Sidebar: 70 degrees in South Carolina is soup weather!

So, we talked and watched several episodes of "Project Runway." Project Runway is a competition hosted by Heidi Klum, where promising designers create fashion clothing. One is a winner and one is sent home every episode. Interesting!

So, in the early afternoon, we started making Carla's clam chowder. Jake and I did the prep work under Carla's direction.We all did taste-testing during the process, but Carla had the final say, of course.

Sidebar: Carla's varies from mine  by three major differences: She used fresh frozen clams, instead of my canned clams (I can't get reliably good, fresh seafood); She doesn't use my secret ingredient and she adds hot sauce.

While the soup was cooling (it was for dinner) we watched the movie,"The Revenant." I had long wanted to see it, as I had known the true story of Hugh Glass since childhood.

Sidebar: Mountain men and Indians have been a life-long interest of mine.

Around 3:00 p.m., the thunder started and Whiskey wanted in! She doesn't like thunder. Then, the rains fell.

When the movie was over, we reheated the soup and ate dinner. The bowls of soup were garnished with bits of bacon.

Sidebar: Jake topped his with a TON of crackers (Jake likes crackers).

Result: It was fantastic!

Sidebar: I'm not willing to give up my secret ingredient or add hot sauce, but I am going to search for fresh clams. I really liked how much more chewy it was!

We watched a few more episodes of Project Runway.

Sidebar: I never watch this at home and never even heard of it before coming down here, but the shows been on TV longer than I Love Lucy.

Then I went to bed.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day Musings

Foot Trip

I spent a restless night in South Carolina. But the first night always is. I'm not sure if it's the excitement or the unfamiliar mattress. But I was awake about every hour on the hour. I finally gave up and went downstairs for a cup of coffee and to read my book.

About 6:30 a.m., Carla joined me. She took the dog out and then we watched the Weather Channel. The is a yet unnamed tropical depression that will come ashore in South Carolina this weekend.

Sidebar: With the rain and rip currents, that kinda sucks for all the people flocking to Myrtle Beach this holiday weekend!

Jake had a cup of coffee and then went out to cut the back yard grass. I went and shaved, showered and dressed for our morning adventure: A hike through the Congaree Nation Park.

Sidebar: Congaree National Park preserves the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States. It is in a floodplain (read that as swamp, lol). The lush trees growing in this floodplain forest are some of the tallest in the Eastern U.S., forming one of the highest temperate deciduous forest canopies remaining in the world.

Large animals possibly seen in the park include bobcats, deer, feral pigs, feral dogs, coyotes, armadillos, turkeys, and otters. Its waters contain interesting creatures like amphibians, turtles, snakes, alligators, and many types of fish, including bowfin, alligator gar, and catfish.

Sidebar: We saw a heron, some squirrels and three lizards.

In the higher elevations, there are dirt paths, some originally made by escaped slaves and moonshiners. But, we took the boardwalk through the flood plain, itself, after stopping at the Visitor's Center for a much needed bathroom break.

The Mosquito Meter looked favorable (hey, it's a swamp, right?).

Actually, I never saw a mosquito. It was the flies that annoyed me!

Anyway, I'll let the photos do the talking for a while.

These are cypress knees

More cypress knees.

Heron in the backwater of Weston Lake
Weston Lake was once a bend in the Congaree River. Now it's what's called an oxbow lake.  The river changed direction, leaving it behind. The lake is slowly filling in with clay and organic debris. When I learned that, I felt bad for mocking it.

Sidebar: In my defense, coming from the Great Lakes, it wasn't much of a "lake."

Weston Lake

Heron, who put his head down just at the wrong moment!

Weston Lake overlook (closed at the moment)

Last shot of Weston Lake

Dwarf palmetto

You are about 30 feet up along this stretch of walkway, so it's fenced in better.

All in all, we walked for 2.4 miles. I was entranced with the park, but happy to see the Visitor's Center (and the bathroom) at the end!

Then we headed out on the long ride home. We stopped on the post, so Jacob could show me the lake (the one where the damn had broken, if you remember). The damn still has not been repaired and the fertile lake bottom now has grasses and weeds growing some three to four feet high!

We also stopped and picked up some barbecue for tonight's dinner.

Back at home, we found it still hadn't rained here yet. Post was wet when we drove through it. I changed out of my sweaty clothes and had a light lunch.

I spent most of the afternoon on the couch with my feet up (resting them).

Carla warmed up the take out and we ate from a buffet of ribs, pulled pork, chicken gizzards, french fries, potato salad and coleslaw. Excellent!!!

We watched a little TV, but I went to bed early. I was tired!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Flying by Friday

I left the house at 7:30 a.m. for the airport. They recommended getting there three hours (!) early, due to long lines at the screening area. So, I got there about 2 1/2 hours early. There was no problem finding a parking spot,  BTW.

I easily got my tickets and checked my bags. The lines in the security area were marginally longer, but moved quickly. I was over half way through when I noticed my ticket (kept out with my driver's license) said, "TSA PreScreen."

So, I excised myself and went through the smaller line. A quick patdown after setting off the machine and I was through!

With about two hours to kill...

So, I wander around. I found an Italian pizza place that served breakfast sandwiches, so I ordered a egg, sausage and cheese sandwich on a croissant. When I went to order it the waitress (?) counter girl(?), whatever, said it would be about 10 minutes as they had just ran out of eggs. I said no problem and sat down at a little table outside in the terminal and read my book. When she brought it to me, she said she had added another sausage for making me wait. Thanks! It wasn't bad.

Then, I wandered to the gate and read some more. Finally we boarded and took off. I was seated in the 10th row, next to a very pleasant Hispanic young lady and we chatted a bit during the flight.

I got across the airport at Charlotte in time to make my next flight. This time I was in the second to the last seat in the smaller plane (row 12) next to an equally pleasant middle-aged married woman.

However, once we all boarded, the captain came on the intercom. He said there had been a mishap as the luggage was being loaded and a suitcase hit the engine. So, he was having maintenance come and check it out, before we took off. He advised anyone in the window seat to lower the window shade and everyone to turn on their air outlet full blast to try and keep it cool (it was a sunny, muggy 80 degrees).

Without the engine running, there was no air conditioning. About 15 minutes later, the steward passed out warm water (there is no beverage service on the short hop to Columbia).

Sweat was pouting out of my head and body and everyone else was in the same fix. Maintenance finally gave the okay after about a 45 minute wait, thank God, and we took off.

In Columbia, I grabbed my checked bag and waited a short while (inside, in the A/C, trying to dry out) for Jake.

We chatted on the way home.

Once there, I said hello to Carla and Whiskey and then immediately changed into shorts and a tee shirt, just to get out of my sticky clothes.

We chatted a bit while Carla put the finishing touches on dinner. She made some rice and heated up some naan bread in the oven. We ate Middle Eastern chicken with green harissa over the rice and the naan bread on the side. New to me, but very tasty!!!

I checked out Carla's patio garden. It's all doing well and her tomatoes are huge! However, only one has tomatoes on it. The other one has yellow leave and the blooms fall off, but not tomatoes come. She asked why, but I didn't know.

We watched a little TV while still talking, but I was bushed (long day). They suggested I go to bed at 8:30 p.m. but that seemed way too early. I made it until 9:00 and then went to sleep.

Friday, May 27, 2016


Thursday was hot and muggy!

I went to Time Out for lunch and got the fish and chips. They couldn't find the malt vinegar! So, they asked Dan, the owner, if he knew where it was. He asked if it was for me and they said yes. He disappeared.

But, Nancy finally found a bottle that had about an inch left in it. So, I had an excellent lunch.

Just as I was finishing up, Dan reappeared with a new bottle and said, "Here, I went to the grocery store to get you some!" I told him they had finally found it. He said, "Well, we'll keep it for you for next time." But, I felt bad he went to all that trouble..

I went to the local CVS and got some deodorant and mouthwash. Then I cruised back to work through Hines Park (lot of motorcycles out today).

I walked outside in the afternoon and came back in sweaty (it got up to a humid 84 degrees today).

When I got home after work, I treated the cat and then started to change clothes. I was struck by how warm it felt in the house, so I looked at the thermostat. It read 77 degrees!!! WTF? I checked and the air conditioner was OFF!!! I turned on the fan in the bedroom and the overhead fan in the kitchen.

Sidebar: I get a cheaper rate for electricity by allowing them to cut the power when there is heavy usage. Was that it?

So, I tried my favorite IT trick. I shut it off at the thermostat, waited a minute or so, and then turned it back on. Yes, I rebooted it, LOL! And the damn thing kicked on!

Sidebar: I don't mean to say it was immediate relief. At 8:00 p.m. it was 80 degrees in the house even though the air conditioner was fighting it. But, maybe I can sleep tonight...

I used the last of the lettuce and green onions to make another small salad. I warmed up the last two slices of broccoli and cheddar quiche and had a excellent dinner.

I did a load of laundry and started packing my suitcase. I didn't bother with the TV, but read until bedtime.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hot Hump Day

It was warmer still on Wednesday. If it stayed the same temp as it was when I walked outside at 10:00 a.m. I would have loved it. But, it didn't.

I went to Newburgh Grill for lunch. I got a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a side salad (it was too hot for soup). Then I went to Randazzo's. I wanted another yellow rose, more sweet alysium and a Roma tomato plant. The only thing I left with was the tomato plant. They were already sold out of the rest. :(

It was 82 and uncomfortable when I walked outside at 3:00 p.m.

When I got home after work, I treated the cat and changed clothes. Then I went out back to plant the tomato.

Naturally, my neighbor came to the fence to offer me his leftover plants. No hot peppers this time, but more tomatoes and cukes. I planted the cucumbers (mine already looked bad) and two more tomato plants. I'll take the three tomato plants left into work.

I ate some Puerto Rican chicken with rice and beans for dinner that Vicky gave me. Delicious!

I fell asleep watching an old movie on TCM. When I woke up for a bathroom break, I turned everything off and went to bed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


It was an absolutely gorgeous day on Tuesday! We hit a high of 82 degrees (the record was 84 today) with almost no humidity. I could feel it even as I took the trash can out in the morning.

I went to Big Boy for lunch. I had the Classic Big Boy (first time in some 20 years) but got the broccoli and ham soup instead of fries (I'm still not certain that's a healthier choice).

From there I went across the parking lot and got two spray cans of flat black high heat engine paint at O'Rielly's (don't ask).

Walking outside in the afternoon was actually uncomfortably hot!

Back home after work, I go in the trash can, then treated the cats and gratefully changed into shorts and a tee. I went outside and watered all the container plants up front, the two new plants I put in and the hostas I moved. I also watered the mailbox garden. The sweet alysium is coming in nicely. I just wish I'd bought six more...


I also took pictures of the culvert cleanout for you.

The iris are blooming like crazy!!!

I cut more lilacs for the house.

Then I went out back. I watered the window box, the raised bed herb garden and the herbs (chives and oregano) in the ground. Then I stuck the hose (turned on low) in the reflecting pool and let it run for about a half hour. This not only cleans out the water, but the overflow waters the Japanese maple.

Back inside, I warmed up the rest of the steak, the grilled green onions and the sweet corn. It was a delicious leftover meal!

With nothing on TV, I watched the finale of The Voice (I occasionally watch it). I was hoping for the guy from Michigan (Al-Saadi - he plays a wicked guitar) but I knew who would win (Alisan), and she did. Then I went to bed.