"Crotty News" Postings for: February 2007 !

The thermometer struggles to get into the 20's !!!

    01 Feb - Thursday - Cold Weather! Yes, it's true, although here in Myrtle Beach it's not that bad, but up in Maryland and New England the weather is in the teens or lower at night and the 20s and 30s during the day. The coldest weather in decades the newspapers say! That's the way it's going to be for us this week as we travel to Maryland to attend Kathy's big promotion ceremony at NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, MD! Today we're getting ready for our trip. The Internet had an article about high winds in our old home town of Kailua, HI, and our Enchanted Lake neighborhood. High winds for three days culminated today in blowing roofs and carports into neighbors' yards, blowing down fences and uprooting bushes. Joan Pacheco, our Kailua next-door neighbor, says that her entire back fence was down, flower containers strewn all over the front yard, and a large red hibiscus bush snapped off at its base!

    02 Feb - Friday - We're on our way to Woodbine to stay with Kathy, Tom & Jessie. Dale watched a couple of DVDs on her portable DVD player and started reading a new book. No cat this trip so she was able to stretch out and relax in the back seat. When we reach the Washington D.C. Beltway, Kathy called us to say that it had started snowing on Interstate 70 and that she had just seen an accident, so we decided we'd head straight for her house instead of stopping for dinner at the Olive Leaf restaurant in Mt. Airy. We were making great time until got near the Maryland State line on the Beltway (Interstate 495 around Washington, D.C.) where we hit the rush hour traffic backup (a virtual parking lot)! The D.C rush hour starts around 2:30PM each day and lasts until at least 7:00PM, so we had to inch our way along for about an hour before we finally reached Interstate 270 and got in the HOV/Carpool lane (we had the required minimum of two people in the car ;-) By the time we reached Woodbine there was slush on the ground and the temperature had dropped to 20 degrees! We saw the Gallagher's car parked down below. Our infamous hill, High Meadow Drive, had ice all over it and was apparently too slick for them to make it to the top. Dale's little PT Cruiser, however, pulled us right up the hill, with just a little slip-sliding.

    03 Feb - Saturday! This morning we all went to watch Jessie practice "Cross Country Skiing". It's indoor practice in a school gym. The kids warm up with group exercises on mats in the gymnasium, and then make-believe that they have skis and poles as they skim across the polished floors in thick white socks, dodging "course markers/poles" set up like those on a downhill slalom race. Jessie has real skis and there is light snow cover around their houses, so Kathy plans to look for a flat area so that Jessie can do it for real. This afternoon and evening Dale and I went to visit with Joe & Sharon King. While at their house I called John Kohl and found out that he and Ann had bought a home in Pennsylvania. Ann's cancer is in remission and she sounded great! John starts back to work at NSA on monday, so his tour in Australia is over. He had plans on retiring soon, and I'll need to ask him if they have changed now. Later, Dale and Sharon went out to pal around, so Joe and I ended up at a Harbor Freight Tool store in Glen Burnie. I didn't know they had retail outlets (their headquarters is in South Carolina and we pass by it on our way to Maryland). Anyway, I bought lots of small items and Joe claims I was a kid in the candy store. Then we drove a bit north into Brooklyn and he showed me the rental property he and Sharon bought. That evening we ended up at an old favorite restaurant of mine, Chun King, on Route 198 in Laurel. We introduced Sharon to the "Mongolian BBQ" and she liked it! In the evenings "The Mongolian" is "all You Can Eat" so of course I went back for seconds! Mmmmm Mmmmmm Good!

    04 Feb - Still really cold up here in Maryland! Today we all went to Baltimore's Inner Harbor and the National Aquarium! Got lots of digital pictures (see Photos Menu for February). Afterwards we went to the ESPN Zone in the old Power Plant. First time I've been there. Nice bar on the first floor with lots of big TVs all around. Also a restaurant. The upper floor is an arcade with lots of sports-related, interactive rides and games. Very nice! Of course, today is Super Bowl XLI so later when we had dinner at the Bare Bones Restaurant in Ellicott City, the 19 year old waitress kept bringing us score and play updates (she has four brothers so she understood)! Of course I was rooting for Chicago since I remember the Colts slinking out of Baltimore years ago. Unfortunately, though I'm not a real sports fan, even I could see that the Chicago quarterback stunk and they didn't deserve to win -- as was the case! On the other hand, Peyton Manning didn't show me much either -- this game or the previous game for the league title. Has the quality of quarterbacks gone so far downhill these days as to have the sports world falling all over itself trying to beat each other's praise for someone like Manning?

   05 Feb - Monday - Today we visited Dale's mother at the nursing home in Columbia. She must have had a bad night because she was still in bed and not very responsive when we arrived. She has always been dressed and placed in a chair outside her room, watching the world go by, in all our previous visits. Dale talked to the nurse, who mentioned that her mother had been wide awake at 5:00AM when she made her first rounds so she probably had been up for hours before that. Sure enough, she became much more awake, aware and animated after Dale talked to her for a while. She's in the same condition. She doesn't give any sign that she recognizes anyone, although she'll smile if kissed on the cheek, etc. Dale upgraded her bulletin board, stapling flat the many pictures of us, Rene and Nicky (and their families). Nice and neat now. Then it was off to the Columbia Mall where I bought two pair of pants (FLEXSLACKS, to adjust to my expanding body!) and a couple of dress shirts. I used to wear sutis all the time but for the past few years my "uniform" has been shorts, T-shirts and sneakers! On the way home to Kathy & Tom's house, we stopped off to see the Weilers and their new home, just north of I70 at the Marriottsville Road exit. Great place - spacious and right on the golf course.

    06 Feb - Tuesday - the Big Day! Kathy's promotion ceremony, also called an "elevation" ceremony as in "being elevated" to the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service. In the old days we would call this a promotion to GS-16, and it is the civilian equivalent of Rear Admiral or Brigadier General in the military services, a huge achievement, and a level to which very, very few government employees ever rise! We are very proud!! I certainly had not thought that we'd ever be walking the halls of NSA again but it was a pleasure to see that not much had visibly changed, and we met several people that we knew. While walking the corriders from ceremony to reception area, Dale saw a number of old friends and acquaintances. Heard a couple of "Oh my gosh it's Dale Crotty", including from Karen (McNeal) Jordan, a friend we worked with in Hawaii. She tried to lead Dale astray with several Girls' Night Out get-togethers. Also saw Charlie Meals (Laurie and Mike's dad). Two friends were also being elevated during the same ceremony, so that was an extra treat for us. The new Deputy Director is Chris Inglis and we were in CY600 (the NSA Senior Cryptologic course) together years ago, so it was a nice surprise for both of us when we followed Kathy up onto the stage to meet him and the new DIRNSA, LTGen Alexander. Alexander has a great sense of humor, but lots of my old friends (Seniors who still work at the agency) don't like him. Chris, on the other hand, is a wonder and I assume that he'll do very well as DDIR. That evening we went to Chili's in Eldersburg to celebrate. Made it back home in time to hear that a snowstorm was bearing down on us!

    07 Feb - Wednesday - Sure enough! Four inches of snow on the ground. School cancelled. Tom was already on his tractor clearing High Meadow Drive. We had planned to mount our Thule luggage carrier on the roof of the PT Cruiser but after Dale swept off much of the powdery snow it was apparent that that would be messier than it was worth. So we put everything in the back seat and took off at 9:30AM. It was 14 degrees outside and four inches of snow (and 67 degrees when we arrived in Myrtle Beach that evening). With the bright sunshine in Maryland, all the powdery snow on the thousands of trees started to flake off and we were soon driving in huge clouds of fluffy "snowflakes", each about 3-4 inches across, flat-bottomed with a "bubble" of snow on top (like the shape of a small horseshoe crab). We usually leave Woodbine about 9:30AM or so when we're traveling up there (and did so this time too) and we've been very lucky on our travels back through the DC area. Traffic at that time is minimal; still heavy but not near-gridlock like what we ran into when we arrived at 6PM during the evening rush hour last week. Also, all that highway construction at the link between Interstate 495 (the Capital Beltway around Washington, D.C.) and Interstate 95 seems to be completed, after all those years of never-ending delays. We made it back in seven and a half hours driving time (488 miles for an average of 65mph)! We made two stops that brought our total time to about nine hours. Dale's little PT Cruiser looked like it had been through an entire harsh winter, covered with salt stains from the Maryland highways. I took pictures and will upload them to the website soon.

    08 Feb - Dale went to the car wash today. She needs to give her PT Cruiser a name. Maybe "Herbie"? ;-) I'm updating the web site News today. Will tackle getting the January and February photos uploaded tomorrow. Our cat, Bandit, now loves me and won't let me out of her sight. I woke up this morning to two huge black orbs surrounded by a black furball, staring at me from about 8 inches away. If I go into the bathroom, she scratches at the door until I let her in. She's stretched out on my desk behind me as I type this. Of course whenever we go on extended trips, like to Florida, she knows that something is up when she sees us packing or moving the luggage to the car, so she runs and hides. She still does not like car rides. Tonight we're off to Karen & Chuck's for tacos, one of my favorite foods!

    09 Feb - Heard from Uncle Bob (Dale's uncle, in Kittery Maine)! He and Dot Kraft got engaged last Sunday! Good for them! We met her last November. She is very nice (they met at church). Her husband passed away a while ago and she has grown children. Uncle Bob and she will be very good for each other. Today it's in the low 50's here in Myrtle Beach, and the nights are in the low 30's. Next week it's supposed to be in the 50-60 range during the day and 40s at night, so maybe we're going to get a warm spell. As for Florida I see that Bradenton is in the low 70's right now. Rene tells us that her husband Jay (Navy P-3 squadron) is in the Persian Gulf (Operation Iraqi Freedom), and gave me his e-mail address. I will try to fill his e-mail Inbox with a letter a day or so. E-mail is the modern version of the old-time military "Mail Call". Even a boring note from me is better than nothing (hopefully ;-). He cannot access web sites from his base (restrictions) so I've sent him copies of the January and February web site"newsletter" along with selected photos from Jan and Feb also.

    10 Feb - Just heard that the State of New York has many towns such as Oswego that have already had over TEN FEET of snow and are expecting still more!!! The Governor has declared an emergency. People have hired contractors to dig the snow off their roofs before the next snowfall, so that it doesn't cave in! Cars are truly buried under tons of snow, with drifts over 20 feet high. People are digging tunnels from their doors, and snow has blocked many first floor windows! It is called the "lake effect": moisture from the Great lakes (Erie, especially) combined with the old artic air that has been sweeping down from Canada. Here in South Carolina our temperatures are in the low 50 degrees during the day and mid 30s at night (normal). We hear that we might get a bit of a cold snap the end of this week and then back to normal. It looks like we are FINALLY making some headway on getting the plans completed for our house addition here in Myrtle Beach. I am supposed to pick up the engineers plans next monday. Right now our house look like a storage facility and I know that Dale is very anxious to get the addition completed. I planned to do the inside finish-work myself to save money (plus - I LIKE to do that work), but I am sure that Dale will have deep reservations about that, only because she wants it DONE, even if it costs more to hire "pros" to do it.

    14 Feb - Dale is still going to the gym, and I have finally decided to start exercising myself. I always say that I exercise so that I can do (eat) whatever I want, but since I haven't kept up for the past several years I am about 40 lbs overweight and really need to do something. Dale is checking into the costs of a family membership at the gym, and also how much I would have to pay on a monthly basis (if they, in fact, have such an option). Two days ago I moved the treadmill into our bedroom from the garage and Dale has already used it a couple of times. I need to start using it - a mile or so a day.

    15 Feb - It's REAL cold down here today - it'll be in the 50s! Hah! We've actually had a pretty mild winter, with only a few nights in the 20s. I just filled up the birdfeeder and the squirrel feeder and they are all out there happily pecking and chomping away. I stored our patio furniture in my little shed before we went to Florida the last time, and it's been so nice here during the daytime I've been tempted to bring it all out and set it up on the patio but have resisted that temptation. We'll be heading back to Florida for 3-4 weeks at the end of this month and no sense having the stuff exposed to the elements while we're away. Yesterday I picked up the engineer's blueprints (foundation specs; weight loads; joist size specs; etc) and today at 2:00PM I'm supposed to get together with the architect to finalize his blueprints and get the printouts. Then, next week I can submit the plans to the local authorities for building approval. I am also supposed to meet with a builder today to get some idea of how much it's going to cost me if he does the job. I'll meet with another builder next week to get the same data from him so that I can do some cost comparisons. Maryland has five inches of ICE on TOP of 4 inches of snow. Wow!

    16 Feb - Dale has been very busy listing things-to-do when Tom & Sue Peterson arrive for a visit next week. I'm working on the guest bathroom right now, sanding down the wall I built after we had that termite problem many moons ago. Dale wants to put new wallpaper up and we really should have finished this project months and months ago.

    18 Feb - It is sooooooo cold! I thought this was supposed to be the South. Shouldn't complain; it isn't really that bad, especially when you hear about the weather up north. We just got the final blueprints for our addition and I've contacted a no-fee mortgage broker in Massachusetts that we've used before. Since we haven't sold the FL condo (yet), and we want to start building ASAP, I guess we'll just refinance this place. I've just finished sanding down the guest-room bathroom and Dale is now painting it so we can get a firm surface to hang wallpaper on. Tomorrow she'll start hanging the wallpaper. Today I was playing with an old "portable" computer given to me a few years ago by a Pentagon friend, Ernie Liska, and I finally got it up and running by using an old DOS disk. I have lots of very old software, some dating back to the 1970's for old APPLE, Commodore, etc computers. Anyway, I was reading the manual that came with it and the computer was supposed to be loaded with Windows 3.1. It took me about a week but I finally got into the BIOS and bootup files, and found that someone had changed the settings so that it would not go to the hard drive and boot up from there. I got it to come up in Windows. Pretty snazzy old computer. The battery is done for but it works just fine on AC power. Today Dale painted the bathroom in just a couple of hours and it looks good. We went out to eat with friends at a local place called "Socastee Station". They make the most excellent hot wings, dry and very tasty; not covered with slimy sauce (comes on the side). I bought 50 of them and shared a few with Dale :-) Came home and moved some of the furniture in my cramped office/den/library to make room for an easy chair so that Dale can watch TV in here while I play on the computer (She just loves to be near me ;-)

    19 Feb - Dale is getting ready to start wallpapering our guest bathroom today. She won't let me help: wants to do it by herself (and I LIKE to wallpaper too !).

    20 Feb - Dale went out to buy another roll of wallpaper. Will have the guest bathroom done this afternoon. Looks good .

    22 Feb - Tom & Sue Peterson arrive today! I guess my schedule will be all messed up now ;-) I get up around 9:00AM or so ..... and do the Sudoku puzzle in the newspaper .... play on the computer ..... no crisis-a-minute for me anymore. When it gets a bit warmer I will be out in my yard devising hedgerows for my mini-estate, playing in the dirt, digging up trees and hauling them off to the local dump. I've become accustomed to retirement and enjoy not having my days planned at all!!

    23 Feb - We may have to drive up to Massachusetts in the next few days and will probably be gone for at least a week. Dale's mother's health is failing and we fear the worst. Dale's been on the phone with the doctor a couple of times over the last few days, and today the news was not good.

    24 Feb - Dale's mother, Helen Marie Wedge, died today in the nursing home in Columbia, Maryland, after almost ten years of alzheimer's disease. She had not recognized anyone in the past few years and spent her days in a chair watching TV and the world walk by, without comprehending anything. Her body was with us but the person we knew had long departed, so it's almost as if we had lost her many years ago. She will be buried 02 March in the Forestdale Cemetery, in our home town of Malden, Massachusetts. The Weir-MacCuish Funeral Home will handle all the details. Pastor Paul of the Forestdale Community Church will officiate. All the girls are flying in to the Boston area and we are making the hotel arrangements at the Days Inn, Saugus, MA (Route #1).

    27 Feb - Dale and I drove up to Maryland yesterday (Monday the 26th) and stayed overnight with Kathy and Tom. Today we drove to Massachusetts and are at the Days Inn in Saugus, The girls arrive at various times tomorrow at Boston's Logan Airport, Manchester (NH) Airport and Providence's T.F. Green Airport. Our friends Joe and Sharon King are driving up from Maryland. We took Dale's laptop computer with us to communicate with everyone via e-mail. Received an e-mail yesterday from Rene (and also one with pictures from Jay in the Persian Gulf Area): baby Autumn Leigh Holderman was born February 26th, at the Parkview Adventist Medical Center, in Brunswick ME. She weighs 7lbs.15oz and is 21 1/4 inches long. They hooked Jay up via phone so that he could "be there" for the birth!!

    28 Feb - All the girls flew in today (Alana also!). This evening we all went out to the Hilltop Steakhouse just up the street on US Route #1 in Saugus (a well-known restaurant; See Photos menu). We're in Days Inn room 402. The girls are in room 403. Uncle Bob & Dot Kraft will also be staying here, as well as the Kings. We're very busy making all the arrangments and notifying the family, etc.

Love,     &nbs;       Regards,
Dad & Mom     &nbs;       Barry & Dale