"This file contains all our newsletters from April 2006 !

Friday, 29 April 2006


    We decided to call in a termite exterminator and it looks like we are in good shape. For peace of mind we are contracting with them and they will return next monday to trench all the way around the house (and drill holes in concrete patio). They will treat the soil with Termidor, a termite killer that allows the bugs to pass through the treated soil and thereby get the chemical all over themselves (and pass it on to the rest of their friends). Termidor lasts five years in the soil and we'll have them come back each year for an inspection. Plus I've got my own killer bait traps set every ten feet around the house. We should not have any more trouble with termites! I ripped off the sheetrock from around the front window to make sure that there wasn't any structural damage there. I had found termite tunnels on the concrete slab just outside the front windows and we had been having trouble with water leaks around the windows (termites love moisture). I sealed everything around the outside windows and after removing the sheetrock we had a huge, heavy rainstorm. Not a drop showed up inside, so I guess I did a good sealing job. I'll leave the wall open until we return from Hawaii.

    I don't know what Dale put in my coffee last wednesday (the 26th) but I buzzed through one project after another. I mentally put things on my "to do list" even though I might not get around to them for a few YEARS (no kidding) but I always remember that they're there! Well, on wednesday I built a frame for an attic fan I purchased last year, and then wired it up. So now when we have those famous hot and humid Myrtle Beach summers, at least the attic will have some ventilation! I then pieced together a few water drains out of PVC pipe and hooked them up to existing sources of moisture (like the overflow tube for our air conditioning system). The termites like it when water is dripping right next to our foundation. Now I've got the water running through the PVC pipe and into bushes. Then I ripped out the old, filthy headliner in my Chevy truck; removed the old, grimy sunvisors; installed a three-foot long rear view mirror system that I used to have on my 1978 Chevy Van(been saving it all these years); installed a new speaker for the radio in the dash (bought the speaker three years ago ;-) then cleaned the interior with Armor-all. The interior looked so nice and clean and shiny that I figured what-the-heck: I compounded the outside of the truck (paint job) a few square feet at a time. The truck had not been cleaned up for at least three years, and now it looks too bright and shiny and clean to make any more runs to the dump. Well, so I thought. Chuck and I made a run to the dump this morning. Oh well. At least now I can park the truck in the driveway and it won't bring the neighborhood house values down!

    We pulled down our suitcases from the attic today. Dale is already just about packed and ready to go (our plane leaves next tuesday)! I started to tune up a ukulele but one of the pegs wouldn't stay tight and I eventually broke the string. Looks like I won't get in any pre-Hawaii trip practicing. I did find a web site that has free downloads of Hawaiian slack key music and spent an enjoyable hour listening to a lot of new songs.

    The lawn has been mowed and our potted plants and hanging baskets have been moved to the vegetable garden, which has an automatic water sprinkler, so hopefully they will still be alive when we return. Karen usually comes over when we're away and, among many other things, waters the plants for us, so this should lessen the load for her a bit. Our plane leaves Myrtle Beach at 7:45AM on Tuesday morning. We fly to Chicago and from there catch another plane non-stop to Honolulu, arriving at 2:31pm Hawaiian Time (8:31PM EDT). Of course that assumes that the planes will all take off on time ;-)

    While we're in Hawaii I will have my pocketmail device with us (e-mail us at crotty@pocketmail.com) which comes in handy when we're in transit (airports, etc) and also when we're at the Waikiki Banyon hotel. If you send us an e-mail to our pocketmail address, make sure that it is text only (attachments are automatically deleted by the system). When Tracey isn't using her computer and we're at her home, we can also access our regular e-mail accounts at crotty@sccoast.net and barry.crotty@netzero.com.

Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale

Friday, 21 April 2006

Aloha! (Just practicing ;-)

    I now know more about termites than I ever wanted to know, but my senses are now certainly "heightened" with last week's discovery of the little critters munching on our guest bathroom's wood. Luckily my neighbor is a maintenance supervisor at one of the large golf courses here in Myrtle Beach and he told me that they use "Award", a specific type of fire ant bait for termites too. Apparently the "Extension Service" (county or university) recommended the "Award" bait for termites. The workers eat the stuff and bring it to the queen, and they all die. YES! Anyway, I've purchased a supply of "Award" as well as chemicals for spot treatment (spray and KILL!). I saturated the inner walls that I exposed when I took out that 4x8' portion of the guest bathroom, and killed a couple more worker termites. Then I spent the afternoon digging and "planting" 20 termite bait traps (with "killer stakes") around the perimeter of the house. From now on I will have a schedule to check on the stakes (they also pop up when termites knaw on them), the spreading of the "Award" bait and spraying !

    Your mother has been going to the gym faithfully for the past couple of weeks and is starting to tone up. She's happy with her progress so far. Pretty soon she'll force me to start exercising again and lose the 40 extra lbs which is mostly around my waist.

    We've started a new "tradition" here in Myrtle Beach. We used to go to the California Pizza place every Tuesday evening but Karen & Chuck discovered a small italian restaurant called Nico's which we now go to every Friday night. Nico is actually the name of the owner's small son. The owner is a young guy whose family comes from the Bari, Italy area -- just north of Brindisi on the Adriatic coast where we were stationed (San Vito dei Normanni) from 1977-1980. Last week I gave him an extra postcard-picture that I had of Alberobello ("Beautiful Tree"), Italy. Alberobello is a picturesque village that we visited often. The "Ancient Zone" of Alberobello is full of conical stone homes called "trulli", an ancient design where the house can be built like an igloo, without any mortar. My italian friend and teacher, Bruno Calo, once told us that when the Kingdom of Two Sicilies existed (in one form or other, from the thirteenth century until 1861), the population had to pay taxes on their homes to the King. When the king's tax collectors were seen approaching, the locals would quickly dismantle their stone homes. By the time that the tax collectors arrived, all that would be noticeable would be piles of stones - no homes - no taxes! When the tax collectors left, they would reassemble the homes! Not much had changed. While we were in Italy we observed many homes that had a stairway on the roof, leading to the nowhere but the sky - an incomplete home. The areas inside their private "compounds" were spotless and beautiful but the "street-side" view was unfinished drab stone or ugly concrete block walls. An unfinished home meant either no taxes or very low taxes! As a kid growing up in Massachusetts, among a huge italian community, it was commonplace for some home owners to never complete the front stairs of their home (incomplete homes were taxed at a much lower rate than completed homes) or to leave the outside of the home and the grounds looking like it belonged in a slum, while the interior was near-opulent! They hated to pay taxes! Same in Italy!

    I took some pictures of us and the yard the other day. I'll try to upload them soon. I also just uploaded a couple pictures that Kathy sent me of Jessie's tenth birthday (October 2005). She says that she's making a CD of pictures and will send them to me soon. I'll upload some of them when I get the CD.

Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale

Monday, 17 April 2006

Hi again !

    Well, I added more pictures to the March "Latest Photos" file today. I thought I had taken some more in this month (April) but nope - not yet! I'll see if I can take some tomorrow, since in the past week the warm weather has had a big effect on the trees, shrubs, etc. and they are greening and filling out fast! The lawn is also starting to become more green than brown (it's "Centipede grass" and it turns brown in the winter, like Zoysia).

    I received an e-mail from John Kohl in Australia today. After I tipped him off that the Hanrahans were on a grand tour of Australia, and were in Alice Springs, he looked in the local phone book, picked out the Crown Plaza and -- that's where the Hanrahans were staying!! The tour group is keeping them busy so they won't be able to get together with John, but it was nice to see what a small world it still is! John says that "the long arm of Crotty" works! ;-) Jack Hanrahan also sent an e-mail saying that they're having a ball, time is going by fast, the BBQ last night was great and they're off to Ayers Rock tomorrow !

    It's 6:30PM here and we're having thunderstorms. Everyone says we need the rain. It's windy now. Yesterday (Easter) the temperature shot up to 92 degrees, a new record!

    I set our air conditioner thermostat too low a couple of nights ago and we woke up to find termites crawling on the tile in one of the bathrooms. I ripped off some of the wallboard and found three studs that had damage. It appears to be localized to a small area. Apparently they are subterranean termites and the moisture from the tub/shower attracted them. There must be a small leak somewhere. I'll have the exterminator come in tomorrow to make sure we got them all, and get a routine started to keep them away. My neighbor across the street runs the maintenance for a large golf course here and he's giving me pointers on what to buy and how to apply it. MUCH cheaper than the commercial outfits. If I could buy the termicide chemicals that they can buy I wouldn't need them to come in, but apparently the strong stuff they use inside the houses can only be purchased by a licensed pest control company.

Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale

Sunday, 16 April 2006

Happy Easter !

    We drove back to Myrtle Beach on 04 April (we had been in Florida since 12 January). We've been experimenting over the past year with different routes to see which is the fastest/shortest and it looks like the best Myrtle Beach-Bradenton (and reverse) route is to go south from Myrtle Beach to Charleston on US 17 even though it often has a lot of traffic. We take Interstate 95 South to Interstate 10 West and then US301 South, eventually connecting to Interstate 75 South all the way to Bradenton. The distance is 573 miles, door-to-door, and it takes about ten hours including 30-45 minutes in "stops" along the way.

    My last news for March, while we were in Florida, was on the 12th, and much happened after that so I'll recap here. I had done a bit of work on my boat (replaced the fuel pump, etc.) but when I took it out for a spin it wallowed in the water - no power. So I took it to the Taylor Boatyard, just down the street from us (but a lot longer by going around the Bay and IntraCoastal Waterway). It turned out that I had lost a propeller, so we pulled the boat out of the water and put it up on blocks. I had the bottom cleaned and painted, and I spent a lot of time cleaning the boat, polishing, waxing, etc. Even put on new pinstriping. It really looked good. The mechanic found me some new propellers and on the 24th of March I was able to pilot her home. She ran just fine! I then continued to work on minor things in the engine compartment over the next month, which for the most part turned out good, but one thing I did turned out to be a big problem just before we came back to Myrtle Beach. (See below).

    I got an e-mail from my cousin Warren Voss (in California) who told me that he has a picture that he believes is our great-grandparents from Ireland. He is going to make a copy for me over the Easter weekend and mail it to me. This will be great! I've spent a lot of time trying to find out more about them, and only a few years ago were Dale and I able to locate their records in the Somerville (MA) City Hall, and then found their gravesite in St Paul's Churyard, Arlington, MA.

    We had a nice time during the St Patty's Day (18 March) holiday too. We went to Clancy's, a local Bradenton bar & grill on Cortez Rd near our condo. We went there last year too. They host a huge indoor and outdoor party with lots of celtic music and entertainment. The next night the condo association had a party in our little clubhouse, and it was the best-attended gathering there that we've experienced since we bought the condo in 2001. A mix of middle-aged to elderly; all having a good time.

    Tracey sent us an e-mail with pictures on 18 March, Alana's birthday, showing Alana with many friends. Tracey arranged for a limo to pick them up at school (Waikiki Elementary) and drive them around for two hours "blasting music and stuff". Tracey also sent a cute picture of their little dog, Roscoe. I'll upload the pictures to the web site.

    Susan moved to a new job at Variety Magazine, where she is a new Production Manager, in Creative Services. Her new office is a beautiful building at 5700 Wilshire Blvd, in the "Miracle Mile". I typed the address into the free GoogleEarth program and the satellite shots of the building can bring you right down to about 250 foot elevation. Great detail!

    Tracey is going to Guam and Japan on a business trip and checked to see if we could come to Waikiki to stay with Alana (bend my arm again ;-) We originally thought that we'd fly from Tampa, since Myrtle Beach is notoriously expensive and difficult to make airfare connections. However, United Airlines had a great deal, round trip, for a bit over $630 so we grabbed that. We'll be heading to Hawaii on 02 May and will return to Myrtle Beach on 31 May (depart Honolulu 30 May). Just a few weeks away!

    On 03 April I decided to take the boat out for a final "spin" but the engine started sputtering badly after I cleared the canals and moved into the Palma Sola Bay. I had a very tough time bringing it back in, especially with the wind/chop on the bay and the canals. Had to keep the throttle open to keep the engine barely running. I had a minimum of control and was trying not bump into piers, boats, etc. I was almost to our pier when the engine roared open and the boat lurched ahead. I had my outdrive/propellers raised and that also created a larger wake and illusion of greater speed. My controls jammed on me for a while, but I was able to get the boat slowed down. But by then the "damage" was done. Thinking that I was a hotrodder or something, three "vocal locals" came out in force, yelling at me and Dale. I told them that I was having difficulties with my controls and engine, and asked for help getting to my dock, but all I got a couple of pompous speeches, yelling about manatees in the canal (not seen currently, but often present), too much of a wake, etc. Luckily two friends in our condo complex came to our rescue. We driften down the canal, threw them a line and they pulled us gently into our dock. What a disapointment to work on the boat all that time and have this happen on the day before we leave. I then went back to the boatyard and was lucky enough to find the mechanic still there working on another boat. I discribed what had happened and he directed me to disengage wires at the back of the boat. When he described their location, I mentioned to him that over the past week while I was working on the boat, I noticed a wire was disconnected and I thought that I had done it. Apparently not. The wires connect to something called a "Rev limiter" (RPMs) and the limiter did not work. If you disconnect the wires, the engine runs fine. Sure enough, I came back, disconnected the wires, and took the boat out again. This time the engine purred like a kitten and allowed me to move so slowly that the boat hardly made a ripple in the water. I took it out through the Bay and down the IntraCoastal and then out into the Gulf of Mexico. Runs like a Champ! Sure am glad to get that resolved before we left for Myrtle Beach (the next day). I would have worried about that every day until we return to Florida in June!

    The Hawaiian Islands have had huge amounts of rainfall throughout this winter and especially in March and April! We have several friends and acquaintances who traveled to Hawaii Jan-Mar and they were disappointed. All have horror stories of their stay in Hawaii these last few months. Rain almost all the time! Tracey sent pictures (see web site) of the rain from her condo door and lanai. You can see how heavy the downfall was. It's also been in all the papers about the Honolulu sewer busting and millions of gallons of raw sewage had to be diverted straight into the Ala Wai Canal and then into the ocean -- right at the end of the famous Waikiki beaches! The cleanup is still going on (16 Apr) and there are differing opinions as to the safety and quality of the water along the beaches. Of course Hawaii doesn't want to lose tourism, so the local authorities are making a show of walking into the water for the media (they're not swimming in it, we observe)! Hopefully that will all be history by the time Dale and I arrive! (We are just such good parents, who would do anything for their daughter and granddaughter. What a sacrifice we are making ;-)

    On the 5th of April I got busy and "opened up the house" in Myrtle Beach. Moved the lawn furniture to the lanai from the garage and from my little shed in the back, and replaced a few burnt-out side lights on the garage. I unboxed most of the stuff that we brought back from Bradenton, and mowed the lawn (vacumed the lawn would be "more like it", since the grass and weeds are only starting to grow, but the leaves and other "winter stuff" that accumulates on a lawn made it look a bit raggedy). My tractor has a bagging system on the back so as I cut the lawn the force of the blades creates a wind tunnel and shoots to cuttings and other stuff through a large plastic "pipe" and into three bags at the back of the mower. I then emptied the bags on top of my vegetable garden to use as mulch (great stuff)! It took two days to do all that and to edge the several hundred feet of lawn alongside the streets, etc. Hung up twelve hanging baskets full of beautiful flowers in the back yard. On 09 April I finally finished planting my garden with tomatoes, cukes, squash and lots of hot peppers (habanero, jalapeno, cayenne, etc). And yesterday I planted flower plants, seeds, rose bushes, etc. in the flower gardens.

    Fourty-some-odd years ago I purchased an insurance policy and told the agent that I planned to cash it in myself when it matured. He told me that that probably wouldn't happen, since actuarial tables indicated that my beneficiary (Dale) would be more likely to do so. Well, I cashed it in myself! Unfortunately I thought that I had been paying all the taxes on the accumulated value each year, but that turned out to be another policy. So -- we ended up paying some big bucks in taxes this year. No big deal but had I known I would have had them do withholding on the policy's value. Just don't like to do taxes! (Like everyone else - right?)

    Dale's cousin Alice and her husband Charlie (in Danvers, MA) sold their house within a few days of putting it on the market. Seems the real estate market is still alive and booming. They have a place in New Hampshire which will now become their permanent residence. They're looking forward to retirement! We'd like to visit them this Summer or Fall if we can.

    Our friend Don Smith sent out an e-mail about receiving, unannounced and unexplained, a Cost-Of-Living-Allowance (COLA) check from the government. Boy did he start a scramble. Those of us who served in Hawaii were underpaid while we were there and the government issued make-up COLA checks to us a few years ago. We started sending e-mails to others who were with us in Hawaii and many of them hadn't heard about this latest COLA mailing either. Seems that the government is now figuring out exactly how much more those checks should have been, and they are issuing supplemental checks to us. Kathy went to the appropriate office at Ft Meade and gave them our new address. Every couple of hundred bucks helps out ;-)

    We were over Karen & Chuck's house for dinner last week and found out that Chuck is currently designing a web site for Tracey's newest business! A surprise to me! Apparently Tracey has arranged with suppliers to get Hawaiian jewelry and she will soon be selling it on the Internet! The beta (test)web site looks great! It will probably be another few weeks before it goes on-line. Tracey just keeps finding more opportunities to make a buck here and there!

    I hadn't heard from nephew Brett for quite a while so I sent him an "are-you-still-alive?" e-mail. Four days ago he answered that he is now in Mexico and has been there since January. Before that he was in China from November until the end of December or so, and then had a quick turn-around in January to Mexico. He now has internet access offshore, so he can send/receive e-mails. He'll be 33 years old on May 6 ! Man, he's getting old ;-)

    We are still dealing with the after-effects of the U.S. Postal Service's inability to program their computers to recognize differences between our name and the name of the person from whom we purchased this Myrtle Beach house two years ago. Their program thinks that "CROT" is the same as "CURT" (Curto) and automatically sent all our mail to the Curto's new home in Albany, NY. Because of that our name also ended up on marketing mailing lists as "new prospects". We have an arrangement with the daughter of Mr. Curto. In addition to mailing our important mail back to us, she also cuts out the address labels from the catalogs and other junk mail that come for us at her Albany address. We contact the companies and ask them to change the address to here in Myrtle Beach. Of course that means we will get a lot of mail that we don't want but getting a company to change an address is easier than to delete and address. We have just found out about a marketing association where we can request that our names be dropped from unsolicited mailings, and we've just submiitted our requests (cross your fingers for us).

    We've had similar problems with our home phone number here in Myrtle Beach. Our number used to be assigned to a Simmons Irrigation Co.(sprinkler systems) and people retain their old bills (and phone books) and call us at all hours of the day and night. The last straw was last week when we received an early AM call; then three more calls during the daytime. They insisted that they obtained the number from the new phone book. We gave up, and changed our home phone number to one that has never been issued before! We'll have to change our records with companies, internet business files, and business cards, but that's nothing compared to the peace and quiet we hope to enjoy! ;-)

    Our friends the Hanrahans from Sarasota are now in Australia (and they have e-mail connectivity - somehow)! It entailed flying from Tampa to Los Angeles, and then a 15 hour flight from Los Angeles, but they're already out sightseeing and enjoying the local cuisine at the Melbourne Oyster Bar. They left yesterday for Alice Springs, where we have some friends. We've notified each of them of the others existence, phone numbers, etc. Hopefully they can meet and say hello!

    Well, the Easter Bunny was "westing" (resting) on my lawn yesterday afternoon, just waiting for my garden plants to grow! (Looks like my squash seeds won't have a chance) ! So I got in the Easter Spirit and colored a dozen eggs last night! Yes, I did and I don't care if you think that's for kids! Nope! It was fun. And I did a GREAT job too! Karen & Chuck had us all over for Easter Breakfast. We were originally going to go to a restaurant but here in South Carolina I think just about every family was planning the same thing. We gave three of my beautifully-done ('cause I said so!), multi-colored, speckled eggs to the Magers and two to Karen and Chuck this morning.

    A beautiful Easter Day here in Myrtle Beach, although it's starting to get a bit hot and the humidity is going up slightly. Yesterday was gorgeous with a light breeze all day long. Dale's favorite place is on the patio swing, looking at all the greenery and flowers in our back yard.

 l   I'm still trying to figure out how and where to "add on" to this house. The house is situated at an angle on the lot, so there aren't a lot of options to "adding on", and those options that I've marked out take too much of the ambience away from the back yard. I'm now trying to visualize building a separate garage quite a way back in the back yard, next to my shed, and perhaps just add a screened-in porch over the back lanai. Then again, I need a room for my office/den/computer room too. Back to the drawing board!

Love, Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale