This file contains all newsletters for December 2004

Tuesday 26 December 2004

Dear Santa ... whoops!!! Wrong letter! Oh well....

    It's been busy the last three weeks here in the "chilly - warm - freezing - warm" Myrtle Beach area! We've had snow flurries (1:15AM monday morning, 20 December) and then sunshine and weather in the 60's! It's usually in the 50's during the day, and down to 30's (sometimes to the "teens") at night. The newspapers said that this is very unusual, and that the arctic air has caused temperature records to fall all over the state. The odd thing is that the days are mostly pleasant and certainly does not feel like winter (with one cold day as an exception). Yesterday (Christmas) and today it is rainy, windy and chilly.

    Kathy, Tom & Jessica drove down from Maryland last Thursday. They arrived at 3:30AM Friday morning. Christmas Day was very nice, as per usual! Lots of nice presents, friends and daughters calling on the telephone and sending e-mail messages. Karen & Chuck came over later in the morning and early afternoon so we had a "second" exchanging of presents! In mid afternoon, Chuck's parents (Charlie & Pat Bunnell) and his sister Denise, husband Jeff and their three children arrived and we had Christmas Dinner -- all fourteen of us! Dale did a super job (of course)! She found a place that rented chairs, set up another table in the aisle and extended our dining room table. Everyone actually had enough elbow room! Unfortunately I was concentrating on eating my share of the 22lb turkey and forgot to take digital pictures (I did get a round of 35mm pictures though, so I'll have them developed soon).

    I've just uploaded some pictures taken on Christmas Day, and also several shots that Tracey just sent me from Hawaii. Click on the Latest Photos menu, and then on "December 2004"

    Susan and Dany called from Los Angeles (Los Feliz). Most of their friends decided to travel to globally-dispersed locations for Christmas this year, and Susan says that she and Dany are very busy taking care of all their friends' pets. The LA traffic has not abated for the holidays either, making it a time-consuming effort to drive to each friend's home to make sure their pet is fed and otherwise taken care of. Their good deed for the season!!

    This afternoon and evening the "Crotty-Bunnell group of 14" will go to one of the famous Myrtle Beach Christmas shows, where they have lots of horses stomping around and which should be a great delight for all the kids (the 61 year-olds too) There are so many of us going as a single group, we're going to have an entire row of seats for the show.

    On the evening of the 23rd, the combined Crotty-Bunnell clan met with the Magers to "check out" a new California Pizza restaurant that just opened in Conway. Karen, Chuck, Dale and I usually go to the California Pizza in Surfside every Tuesday night. This place allows you to choose the toppings for your pizza, and they are deliciosa! After the meal and exchange of presents, we all departed the restaurant around 10:30PM. Dale and I were getting into the Vette for the drive home when we met a young couple walking along the deserted town's sidewalks, adequately and cleanly dressed, but apparently down on their luck. I don't remember the full "story" well, since the man anxiously spewed it out faster and faster as we showed some interest. Anyway, the gist of the story was that they lived out of state and the woman's parents had sent them enough money to come home for the Holidays, but their bus ticket inexplicably ended in Conway. The cost of a ticket to their final destination was only $12.50, which they did not have. Of course there is no telling if we were being scammed or not, but heck, it was Christmas. There was something about the earnest look, the plausible story well told, and the girl's quiet tears as she hung in the background a few feet away, that made us take a chance. I gave them substantially more than they needed, since if they had really been traveling without money, they would be hungry too. Apparently they had already been met with jeers and doubts by some of the locals they had encountered in their search for someone to help them that evening. We declined to provide our address for repayment, and although they noticed the Bradenton, Florida, license plate, they didn't really know where it was. So they think that we come from Sarasota and we were visiting friends in Conway, SC. If we were scammed, it really doesn't matter. They obviously needed the money more than we did. They headed off to the bus station and we felt good knowing that, if their story was true, we had helped a young couple arrive home in time for Christmas; our good deed for the season. So, here's hoping that they will "pass it along" at some time in the future. Merry Christmas everyone!

Barry & Dale/Dad & Mom

Tuesday 07 December 2004

Holiday Greetings and all that stuff!!!

    Yes'm we are now back here in Myrtle Beach, SC! We drove back on the 1st of December. An uneventful, but pleasant drive. I would have broken the "record" for least time spent on the road except there was an accident on Interstate 95 about 15 miles north of the US17 exit! If I had taken US17 to Charleston we would have made it home in ten hours, including stops for gas, etc. Eleven hours seems to be the time it takes to get to and from Bradenton,. no matter what you do. Oh well.

    So, what have you girls (and friends) been doing for Christmas? We've made a lot of headway getting this place in shape. My tractor wouldn't start, but we have great neighbors and one of them, Joe, loaned me his. So our yard is nice and neat again. I have "voles" or moles digging shallow tunnels all over my lawn, so I put out killer bait for them today. Other than that, all we've been doing is decorating the house. We have much too much in the line of Christmas decorations we've saved from years past, so we'll be giving a lot of them away. I got lights up on the house and the electrical breakers at the main panel are staying on, so that looks like a success story! Of course I have lots of extra lights so I'll test my luck and see how many more lights I can put up before the breakers start clicking off on me.

    Today we drove north of Conway, SC and finally tracked down the location of Booth's Tree Farm (about 20 miles or so from us). We tried to find it the other night and wasted many miles and a couple of hours, but we went right past it in the dark. But it was worth the second day's search. All the places selling Christmas trees around here have nothing but stunted trees, perhaps 5-6 feet tall. Maybe they think that this is what a Christmas tree is supposed to look like?? Anyway, this farm is set up so that you can drive in and around the various fields, which they've planted with different types of Christmas trees, until you find the ones you like. We selected a nine foot tall Leyland Cypress ($5 a foot). They cut it for you too. They spend their off season months shaping the trees into a perfect "A" shape, so the trees are all of really outstanding quality. I'll set the tree up tomorrow morning and put the lights on it. Then Dale can decorate it. The remaining "900 boxes" of tree decorations will then be given away ;-)

    Dale wanted a "surround sound" system for the living room TV so we went to Best Buy and bought a SONY system along with a combo DVD/VCR recorder/player. Now I've got to find a way to install the speakers around the room by running the wires up into the ceiling (to hide them). More Projects!

    Tomorrow I go back to building plywood flooring in the attic over the garage. We really need the storage space. It's hard to move around the garage with all the boxes piled high. I'm planning on hiring the kid across the street. He needs the money for Christmas, and he can pass the boxes up the stairs to the attic and save me the time of walking up and down!

    This saturday morning Dale and I are driving the Vette up to North Carolina to visit Tom & Sue Peterson at their new house on Lake Gaston in a subdivision called Wills Landing, west of Roanoke Rapids. The Petersons sold their house in Glen Burnie, MD and are now residents of NC! We look forward to the trip. Tom & Sue just bought a boat and we're all going to go out on the lake.

    Today was HOT! I haven't heard just how hot it was, but it was definitely in the mid 70's or higher (my neck was burning from the sun shining through the back window of the S-10 truck!). Of course that was a fluke and we'll get back to the 60's and lower real soon (and 30's at night)! FLORIDA! Wherefore art thou O Florida ? (Just kidding! It's fine here in MB).

    Okay, time for me to grab a nice bourbon and coke and sit in front of the TV and watch Christmas tapes or something. Ooooh, retirement is tough duty ! (Hic!)

Barry & Dale/Dad & Mom