This file contains all newsletters for November 2004

Monday 29 November 2004

Hi !!!

    I'm losing all sense of time. I thought today was the 30th of Novemeber, and that we would be driving home tomorrow, so I ran around today doing things on "my list". I washed both cars (the Explorer and the Jeep) and replaced the flush valve on the master bedroom toilet. I had to take the tank off, etc. No biggie. Seems to work fine except the rubber gasket is thicker than the original and the tank isn't as rock solid/immovable as before. I think I'll go to Home Depot tomorrow and ask the local experts.

    Yesterday we dropped by the Red Barn again to exchange some cups that leaked, and to look at all the flea market/farmer's market goodies up and down the isles. There is always something new to see. Afterwards we drove over to Panther Ridge to visit and have dinner with Cousin Janet & Tony and Aunt Shirley. Tony made his recipe for lasagne. Ummm Ummm good! I think he said his mother's recipe also called for little meatballs and sausages. I'm getting hungry already! Janet's daughter Terri and her husband Brian drove up from North Port. They have a little boy, almost three, and a new baby girl. Cute! (see photos - November menu).

    I just received a BUNCH of pictures from Brett and I've uploaded them to the website under a separate November 2004 entry. I moved the ones I uploaded before and included them in this new menu entry. I've asked him to send me more pictures of HIM, and his apartment and neighborhood in Montevideo.

Barry & Dale/Dad & Mom

Friday 26 November 2004

Hi All Y'All !!!

    A cold front came through Florida last night, after very heavy rains, and the temperatures got down into the lower 40s! Of course it was warm and sunny by noon, so t-shirts and shorts are still the wardrobe of choice!

    Today is historically the busiest shopping day of the year, and the local stores did have ads in all the papers, so we went out to a couple favorite places. The stores that we selected weren't all that crowded but at the local mall the parking lots were packed! I got some real deals on shorts, a bathing suit and t-shirt (what else?) and Dale did Christmas shopping for the grandkiddies and you lucky, lucky daughters! We then headed to the Red Barn, a combination flea market and farmer's market, with both indoor and outdoor vendors! Good thing we brought the Explorer with us to Florida so we can haul all this loot home!

    Yesterday we drove about 90 miles south to Cape Coral. Our old friends, Sue & Rich Rolfe, invited us down for Thanksgiving dinner along with some of their neighbors (from the Netherlands), their house guests (from Germany), mutual friends from England, and mutual old friends who also retired from NSA and now live in Cape Coral. It was a wonderful day with lots of very interesting conversation and, of course, a huge and tasty turkey with all the fixins! Sue is a great cook!

    Two days ago Brett e-mailed me a several digital pictures of his exploits as a deep sea diver and welder, working on and under oil rigs off the coast of West Africa (Angola, if I remember his previous e-mails), Argentina and most recently - Mexico. I've added them to the November 2004 photos. I've asked him to send me more and also to send me new pictures as he goes off to yet more exotic places around the world. This lucky guy is living a dream life. He lives in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, in South America, when he is not on assignment for some oil company.

    Okay, it's time to close for now. Hey Girls! Send me some current digital photos that I can upload to the web site.

Barry & Dale/Dad & Mom

Monday 22 November 2004


    We met Shelba and Ed Burke(from Pittsburg, California) for lunch today. They are part of the Bourque/Burke "clan" and we met them in Nova Scotia this past summer. They left their home in northern California on 01 June and, since then, they have been traveling all over the USA and Canada with their big truck and roomy RV. Currently they're visiting Ed's sister in Tampa and tomorrow will start off west for the trip home.

    Tomorrow I'll be visiting a local business where I hope to rent a space for my boat. If it all works out they will pull my boat out and put it up on blocks. That way I can work on it (clean/wax; replace the "zincs"; flush the motor with fresh water; and generally inspect the trim tabs and other things that are currently below the water line. When we return in mid-January we can have them put the boat back in the water until we depart for Myrtle Beach again.

    We went to the movies last night and saw "Bridget Jones". I vaguely recall seeing a forerunner of this movie, but this one was very boring, with the exception of a few spectacular views of English villages (I swear it looked liked Showshill in the Cotswolds!), London, Austrian ski resorts, etc. The female star bulked up (got fat!) for the film so that she would look very unappealing and, boy, did she succeed! Of course all the "artistes" and film critics will undoubtedly vie with one another to see who can emote the most cinematic gobbeldy-gook to advance the film, plot and star's chances of the next Academy Award!

    Snoringly yours ....

Barry & Dale/Dad & Mom

Sunday 21 November 2004

Ciao Tutti!

    I just uploaded some more pictures to the November photos menu!

    Less than two weeks remain of our current stay here in Bradenton. We plan to drive back to South Carolina sometime between the 1st and 4th of December.

    Today we went to a Crafts Fair at the Manatee Convention Center in Palmetto, just north of Bradenton over the Route 41 bridge. It was small, as is the Convention Center itself, but it was something different to do and I like walking around these crafts shows with Dale. We also noticed a Car Show at the Desoto Mall on our way to the Convention Center, so we headed back on Route 41 and dropped in. Very nice. The local Mustang Car Club was the sponsor but they had a lot of other cars too, including two 1957 Thunderbirds and a 1957 Ford Fairlane 500. I especially enjoyed a like-new 1965 Thunderbird, repainted in its original "Samoan Coral" color. This car looks like a two-seater but is actually a four-seater that has a canopy manufactured to look like sporty head rests extended back to the trunk from the driver and front-seat passenger seats and covering the width of the two back seats. The owner wants $30,000 for it.

    Tomorrow we are meeting with Shelba and Ed Burke, new friends that we met this summer at the Third World Congress of Acadians in Nova Scotia. They were there for the Bourque/Burke Family Reunion, just as we were there for the Amirault/Moulaison/Bourque Family reunions too. They have a beautiful Recreational Vehicle (RV) and are on a six month tour of the North American continent! Currently visiting Ed's sister in Tampa, they're about to start their "return leg" to California, and gave us a call so we can meet them here in Bradenton.

    We have "discovered" that Sarasota , our glitzy neighboring city to the south, has maintained an enclave of 1950-60's style, single-storey "downtown Main Street" buildings and transformed them into very nice and reasonably-priced restaurants, bookstores, boutiques, shops, etc. Earlier last week we went to Patrick's Restaurant with the Hanrahans, and a few nights ago we went to the Cafe Amici with the Davises. Both couples are retired friends from NSA who live in Sarasota. Patrick's has a great location, windows all around, and great food. Cafe Amici is run by two brothers from Martina Franca, Italy, a small town very near the Brindisi base where we were assigned 1977-1980! Also excellent food, and our waitress was a pretty young blonde from Hungary. Just like being overseas again!

    Dale will be delivering hot lunches to shut-ins for the Meals-on-Wheels charity until the end of this month, and then will resume when we return in January. I've been trying to get back to studying the web-design program Dreamweaver, but for the last week I've been tied up fixing little things on the boat. We took the boat out for a spin on the 18th, after changing the spark plugs etc. When we returned, the control levers stuck in forward gear and wouldn't go to neutral. I had to shut the engine off and drift inside our canal hoping that we would not hit anything. Luckily we didn't and I was able to drag the boat to our slip by tying a line to the bow and having Dale throw it to me as I successively traversed the several docks and pulled the boat along the canal by hand. This happened to us once before, so I knew that I had to either fix it or buy a new assembly. The cheapest control lever is $145 plus shipping on the Internet and between $250 and $300 at the local boat stores! So, I took the thing apart to see if I could fix it. The marine lubricant inside had just about turned to "glue" with age (it's 13 years old)! After several trial-and-error attempts (I put the throttle lever on backwards, at first) I was able to correctly reassemble all the mechanical gears and electrical connections, and IT WORKS!. I plan to disconnect the cables and lubricate them (or buy new cables) in January.

    Tonight we're off to the movie theater.

Barry & Dale/Dad & Mom

Tuesday 16 November 2004

Hi !

    Today we drove down to Sarasota to meet for lunch with Jack & Mag Hanrahan. They retired from Ft. Meade also, and moved here in August 2003. Sarasota has many "glitzy" buildings and is well-known as a cultural center for arts in this area, but the older part of Sarasota is right off their waterfront marina area, with many pretty one story buildings filled with restaurants and shops. We had lunch at one called Patrick's and it was so good we know that we will return, but we also want to try a bunch of the other restaurants we saw. In fact one restaurant is run by a family who immigrated in 1996 from the town of Martina Franca near where we lived in Carovigno, in the Apuglia region of southern Italy! They had pictures of Martina Franca and Alberobello in their window, and I only had a chance for a too-quick conversation with two of the young men in the family.

    After lunch Dale and I drove to the Mote Aquarium. It's on one of the Keys just south of Longboat Key. A couple of years ago Wes & Pat Brockway's daughter Kristi had an assignment as a marine biologist at the Mote, and they all used our condo for the time she was doing research on one of the Mote's boats. In fact we agreed that the Mote could use our dock for their research boat, which was a great time saver since they didn't have to motor up to the Bradenton area each day from Sarasota, and Kristi could walk a few feet from the condo to the boat. Grandparents Wes & Pat were then "stuck" with the baby all day (Don't grandparents just "hate that" ;-). Anyway, Kristi gave us passes for the museum but we never got the chance to use them before they expired. Today was the day! It's a very interesting place. Lots of pretty fish, eels, etc and tens of knowledgeable volunteers telling you what everything is. (I've just added more pictures to the Photos menu for November). They even have a couple of places where you can touch the sea critters! A short walk from the main building and you reach the mammal center where they have huge manatees, sea turtles and also a couple of dolphins they are nursing back to health. One dolphin was really interesting to watch. I've often read about how smart these mammals are. Well, there were workmen constructing a plywood wall next to the dolphin holding tank and this one dolphin was following them everywhere they went, along the pool. When the workmen stopped to screw the plywood to the posts, the dolphin was nosy, watching their every move from a few feet away. A pleasant afternoon!

    When we returned to the condo I started working on the boat again. I disconnected one of the two batteries and checked it out, cleaned the wires, etc. It seems to be in good shape. I carried it tothe condo and am charging it in the spare bedroom right now. I'll set up the charger for the second battery tomorrow morning, but I'll do that one on the boat. I just didn't want to leave everything open on the boat overnight, with wires running from the dockside to the boat, etc.

Barry & Dale/Dad & Mom

Monday 15 November 2004

Hi !

    The sun is shining, as per usual, but we're also getting strong winds coming in from the northeast. Dale likes to have the windows open, so our blinds are clattering every 20 seconds or so. It'll be in the 80's once again today but it will feel cool! How's that for pleasant living?

    Our old friends from Columbia, Maryland, Don & Marylou Shippe, bought a nice vacation home in central Florida last year. We visited them last thursday and friday. "The Villages" are a spacious, wide-open development located south of Ocala, near lady Lake, Florida. It consists of multiple towns spread out over several miles of greenery, each with its own architectural theme, but linked together via beautifully landscaped highways and gated residential roads. Apparently it is a family-owned corporation that developed this place, starting out as a trailer park years ago. The different towns each have an open park/quadrangle in its center, with gorgeous buildings, shops, etc. all around. Musicians play nightly in town center gazebos, enticing all the residents to get out of their houses and come downtown. Gasoline-powered golf carts can be legally driven on The Villages roads. They even have their own lanes on the communities' interconnected streets, similar to reserved bike lanes often seen in other communities, and it is really odd to see rows of them parked "face in", three or four carts to each regular car parking space along the town streets. You get the feeling that you are in Disneyland, with all the flowers, golf carts, pastel colored facades of buildings, and the various lighting schemes that highlight the outlines of the buildings, open-air restaurant balconies and sidewalks. See the photos under November 2004.

    On our drive back to Bradenton, we stopped in to see old friends Wes and Pat Brockway in Homosassa. They're only about an hour's drive from The Villages. We had a nice lunch at the Margaritaville Grill, on one of the Homosassa rivers. Wes and I ordered "medium" margaritas (see November 2004 photos). The next time I'm going to get their large one!

    Dale is delivering hot meals to the elderly and others today. She should be back around 1:00pm at which time we're off to see the Manatee County Tax Collector to pay our 2004 property taxes and pick up the forms to claim our "homesteader exemption" for next year. Florida collects their property taxes "in arrears", that is they don't bill you in advance for the next year; you pay it ater the year is mostly gone or until March of the next year. If you pay in November you get a big discount. Oddly enough, the Tax Collector here is not viewed badly. The people who run the various tax collector offices/branches are very helpful and things move quite quickly. They also handle car registrations etc, like the DMV in Maryland, and such diverse things as voter registration, etc. Even if they don't do it themselves, they usually provide you with all the paperwork, help you fill it out, and they mail it off for you! Talk about one-stop-shopping! Unfortunately the state of Florida only processes paperwork for a homestead tax exemption during the months of January through March, so even though we became permanent residents as of June 2004 we weren't able to submit paperwork to get any 2004 property tax exemption, and we won't see the 2005 property tax reduction until next year's bill, around this time.

    I FINALLY started using the web-design program called Dreamweaver. Chuck uses it in his business and I felt that it would be best to learn what he uses, so when I am able to help him do web sites, we will be using the same tools. I am actually impressed with Dreamweaver. I used it to look at my previous web site code and found that I needed to correct a number of formatting errors I had made - some of which I've been replicating for over three years! I am sure that, for people who have looked at my web site over the years, their browser programs (Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc) must have been working overtime to ignore my mistakes in order to display my web pages in some semblance of order. Well, actually it's not that bad - browsers just ignore most coding that is wrong.

    I saw one gas station with regular unleaded priced at $1.99 the other day. First time in a while! Everywhere else in our area it is still well over $2.00 a gallon (up to $2.60 or so) ! I hope that the swinish gas company executives choke on their liver pate!

Love/Best Wishes to All!!
Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale

Sunday 07 November 2004

Hi !

    I finally broke down and bought a new computer for the condo. I had installed my old 300Mhz NEC computer (purchased in 1998) here in the condo, but the hard drive probably needs to be totally reformatted. It progressively slows to a crawl as I use it, and "freezes up" much too often. I've hooked it up in the second bedroom and, for now, Dale uses it as a word processor. I'll probably continue to "play" with it to see if I can get it running smoother. I also got our Epson LX-800 impact printer working, so we'll be able to use some Fortran programs I wrote years ago to print out labels for mailings, photographs, etc.

    Anyway, the new computer was on sale at Circuit City for a total of $399.99 plus tax (after mail-in rebates) and seems to run beautifully. I have loaded a lot of software onto the 60GB drive and am very satisfied with it. I signed up for Netzero dial-up Internet service since we won't be here all the time and I didn't want to waste a lot of money each month paying for high speed service that we wouldn't be using.

    Otherwise, we've been taking it easy. I've done a bit of work on the boat these last few days. Drilled a few holes in some aluminium poles holding our bimini up, and inserted nuts and bolts to hold everything together. The original screws and stays were coming loose. Hooked up the heavy duty electrical cable to the dockside outlet yesterday and confirmed that my AC outlets work on the boat. Also finally figured out how to turn on the navigation lights, so we can now be seen at night (if I ever get brave enough to be out on the water at night, that is ;-) Also have been "playing" with each of the boat's instruments to see how each is wired up, how it works, etc. I programmed the Fishfinder, which is also a depth sounder, speedometer, etc. I haven't done much yet with the GPS (Global Positioning System) device except to turn it on and wonder at the fact that it can "see" so many different satellites, in real time. I've been trying to find time to change the oil in the boat, but it is a bit difficult and I only have a few inches to work with under the inboard engine (which is a Volvo - somewhere around 300-350HP). I'll get that done in the next day or so.

    Yesterday Dale and I started the boat up and drove it out the canals to the Palma Sola Bay. Dale drove it back in, and then I practiced pulling it into the boat slip. Did pretty good that time. All the previous times I rammed the pilons hard enough to move them a few inches.

    I got a Florida fishing license but haven't done any fishing yet. Not that I know a thing about fishing other than the fact that one uses a rod, reel, and bait or lures. I'm sure that I'll pick up whatever info I need soon enough.

    The price of gasoline seems to be staying over $2.00 a gallon down here. The boat takes somewhere around 60 gallons to fill up, and if you get it at one of the marinas, they charge much, much more than what the gas stations do. So, I bought two 5 gallon plastic containers and I'm now on my way out-the-door to make a couple of runs to put gas in the boat.

Love/Best Wishes to All!!
Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale