This file contains all our news for
April - May 2005

Memorial Day, 30 May 2005


    Well, once again it's been quite an interval since I've updated this web site, and my "excuses" are the same as ever - busy, busy busy! I've spent most of my time creating a larger vegetable/flower garden in the back yard, and cleaning up the yard, redesigning flower beds and making other landscape upgrades to the three quarter acre lot we have here. Dale is volunteering at the local Red Cross office and they've been using her quite a bit. She's getting to know a lot of the Myrtle Beach businesses, since they contribute a lot of time, money and services.

    We left Bradenton on April 8th and, after 9 hours 15 minutes, we arrived back here in Myrtle Beach at 11:30PM that evening. We got a late start but that wasn't a problem. It was an uneventful trip for the most part. Interstate 75 had lots of traffic but after we got on US 301 just north of Ocala, the rest of the way was only light traffic.

    We spent our first day in Myrtle beach getting caught up with mail, saying Hi to everyone, and unpacking paperwork and related items that we brought back from Florida. I ordered most of my flower and vegetable seeds (on-line) for my gardens and got them in a week or so. It was still cool up here (60's), and it was in the high 70's and low 80's back in Bradenton, so I hadn't missed anything in terms of being late for South Carolina's "planting season". Over the next few days I got my seed trays ready. After so many years of planning to do it, this was the first time that I really planted hundreds (thousands) of seeds in trays instead of buying everything from local nurseries. I even planted heirloom tomato seeds (Arkansas Traveler; Mortgage Lifter; Brandywine). They may not look as round and pretty as the hybrid tomatoes of today but they're supposed to have that old-time, luscious taste!

    Went over to Karen & Chuck's house and cut down a group of trees and brush that had overrun their back yard. It's nice and open now, with lots more backyard space. We even found a brick-lined garden along the back fence that had been hidden by all the growth. Filled my little truck bed over six feet high with all the branches, trunks, etc. (tied it down with multiple ropes) and brought it to our local dumping station. Their soil is more like clay; not the soft sandy loam that we have. We used shovels and my one-man, gasoline hole digger to loosen up a 10x20 foot plot. Karen bought bags of MiracleGrow soil additive and we got three truckloads of shredded leaves and mulch from the woods on our lot. We mixed it all in with their soil, built tomato cages out of concrete mesh/remesh and now they also have a garden for fresh veggies.

    Our house is about nine years old, and I've had to replace all the water shutoff valves outside and it looks like it would be a good preventative effort if I replaced all the ones inside too! Dale wanted some new faucets in a bathroom and the kitchen, and those shutoff valves leak!

    I got rid of all but two of my suits and haven't been dressed in much else than shorts and a T-shirt for months. I also resigned officially from Northrop Grumman effective 17 February, and their Benefits Center recently agreed to let me retain my 401(k) retirement account with them, as is, without requiring me to convert it to an IRA etc. I'll be able to decide when and how much I want to pull out at any one time. I did have to change our official mailing address to Bradenton, for these Northrop Grumman accounts, or risk getting into a state tax hassle with South Carolina. Northrop Grumman is sending me a check for the balance of a second retirement fund that they had set up for me (non-contributory; "free money"!!).

    Dale ripped all the old wallpaper off the kitchen and re-wallpapered and painted the whole place by herself. The room looks so much brighter now. Of course now I have to be careful or she'll have me helping her.

    Dale and I went to the movies on 30 April and saw the film "Sahara". The critics panned it, with the usual comments about "predictability" and other put-downs. I've never been a connoisseur of films to the point where I care about "denouement" or the actors' performances (unless they are both so particularly bad that even I can agree with the critics ;-) I can accept the most improbable of plots and events without clear linkage. I don't WANT to have to think about plots. I just want a movie to wash over me and let me be entertained. For instance, I am not the type who enjoys those murder-mystery train rides to nowhere, where you have to participate in the "murder" investigation. I liked the hell out of "Sahara", even with its improbable plot. I hope it makes a bunch of money and let's the directors, actors, investors, etc. thumb their noses at the critics!

    I bought a book written about my French Acadian ancestors (Nova Scotia): "A Great and Noble Scheme" by John Mack Faragher. I read a chapter or so every day in the morning. I'm finally up to the chapter where the Acadians are about to be forceably removed from their lands and scattered throughout the English Colonies and Louisiana (the origin of "Cajuns"). In looking back through the Amirault Family genealogy I see a couple of entries for births "during the exile", so it's really something to be able to match the storyline to my family tree, all the way from the early 1600's!!

    Robbie Peterson is getting married in June 2006! Looks like the festivities will be held at the Antrim 1844 mansion in Taneytown, MD, the same place where Dale and I went for our anniversary celebration a few years ago.

    Since our return from Florida we've been out a couple of times with our new friends and neighbors, Bev & Joe Moon and Bonnie & Lee Apperson. We went to the La Belle Amie winery and to a festival in Little River, SC (just north of us). Nice time and a good break from yardwork!

    The Myrtle Beach yard has a lot of possibilities and I'm still working most every day to add a bit of order and neatness. At night my feet are killing me. Dale says that I'm like the Energizer Bunny (goes and goes and ....) but I'm enjoying myself "playing in the dirt". The previous owner built a two foot high/three foot wide berm that ran three quarters of the length of the property line between us and the next door neighbor. Apparently it was easier for him to do it that way than digging in this soil! In Maryland, when I was creating gardens, I'd hit rocks. Here, if you dig down two inches into this soft, sandy soil you hit ROOTS !! Every tree and bush within miles seems to stick their roots into my garden ;-) So, for three weeks I chopped roots with my axe and hauled the berm dirt to the back of the yard - wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow load -- and used it to triple the size of my little vegetable garden area. The berm area is now five feet wide and 165 feet long. I've transplanted most of the existing bushes. For those which were too firmly established, I left them sitting higher at the level of the original berm. Now, when I water the plants, the water won't run off the berm because I installed two parallel rolls of black, plastic lawn-edging on the sides of the garden. I purchased an additional 100 packets of flower seeds from the local stores (10 cents a packet - on sale!). I also ordered several rose bushes and other live plants via mail-order companies, and planted the stuff when it arrived. Almost everything is still alive. By July this place should be awash in color!

    Chuck fixed my lawn tractor so I'm again able to mow the lawn. It had a bad switch. I also busted the starter by twisting a wire a bit too much, and he fixed that too. Unfortunately I think that I ruined my garden tiller by running it without oil last Fall. I forgot that I drained it when we moved, and I used it twice on the front garden last year. This time I checked the oil and filled it up before attempting to use it, but it started burning oil badly, so I probably have a crack in the engine somewhere. I always wanted to see how those little engines worked, so now I have my chance to take it apart ;-)

    In South Carolina we have grubs and moles and fire ants and lots of garden pests that I never had to worry about anywhere else we lived. So, I bit the bullet and spent money for lawn fertilizer, grub and fire ant killer, etc. I also used a bunch of leftover lawn and azalea fertilizer that the previous owner left in the shed. The month of April was cool and May has been rainy, so our lawn is REALLY looking good. The azaleas down here bloom for weeks and weeks! I have several medium and small bushes in the partially shaded area under the towering pines and willow trees in the back yard. Those azaleas were so beautiful that I went to the local Home Depot and Lowe's stores to buy more. They had a sale on the one-gallon size azaleas ($1.87 apiece) so I bought 46 of them and have planted them in both the front yard and the rear. In a couple of years our Springtime view will be gorgeous!

    Rene, Jay and Ethan are visiting us for the Memorial Day weekend. We've had nice weather for the past few days but today (Memorial Day) it rained heavily all morning and was overcast all afternoon. However, Dale watched Ethan while Rene and Jay went to the movies and saw Star Wars III. Ethan is only two years old, so you can imagine he's a handful! He behaved very well for us though, so everyone's happy. They have to return to Maryland tomorrow. In September they'll be moving to Brunswick, Maine, for Jay's new assignment (he flies on Navy P-3s as an air crew member).

Barry & Dale/Dad & Mom