"Crotty News" Postings for: March 2007 !

Spring may be around the corner but it's still cold outside !!!

    Thursday 01 Mar - We're in Malden, Massachusetts for Dale's mother's funeral (see February "news"). Uncle Bob and Dot Kraft arrived and are in Rm 404. Our good friends from Maryland, Joe and Sharon King, drove up to the Hotel entrance just as we were leaving for the funeral home (what timing)! This afternoon and evening we had the viewing for Dale's mother 2:00 - 4:00PM and 7:00 - 9:00PM at the Weir-MacCuish Funeral Home. Many, many people showed up. We weren't sure how many there would be because Helen & Al had left Malden and their remaining friends so long ago; and so many of the family had already passed on before her. Eric MacCuish handled everything (his father was the one who handled all the details for Dale's father, Al, a few years ago). Martin's Florist on Lebanon Street, Malden provided most of the floral arrangements. Dale and I used to walk by their store on our way to elementary school (and, me, through Jr High School). Watching the people milling about at the funeral home was a good reminder of how quickly life flys by. Things that people said or a familiar face sighted in the crowd triggered many visions of events in our lives here in Massachusetts, from us being toddlers growing up together, the huge gatherings of our immediate families, aunts, uncles and neighbors when they were still alive and surrounding us as we grew up here in Malden, to the present time, when most everyone is "gone". If we were youngsters Dale and I would be "orphans", a shocking realization that life has irreversibly changed. Seeing our own daughters, nieces, nephews and their young families in the room makes you realize that we now represent, to them, what our own mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, and grandmothers and grandfathers did for us. It will be "our turn" to "go" next (hopefully not for a long time of course ;-)

    Friday 02 Mar - Last night, after the viewings, Joe & Sharon, Dale, Kathy, Karen, Susan, Tracey, Alana and I had dinner at Bickford's in Saugus, near the hotel. This morning we had a very nice service performed by Pastor Paul McPheeters at the funeral home at 10:00AM, and then we drove through Malden Square and north along Main Street to the cemetery. Heavy, heavy rain all day long, so the gravesite service was short. The setting was beautiful, and both Helen & Al's final resting place is right next to the beautiful "Duck Pond", as is my own parents' gravesite just a hundred feet away. This cemetery has very old, mature trees with miles of narrow paved roads and much beautiful landscaping. As children we used it almost as a "playground"; a place where you could walk among the quiet shade, chase squirrels, and hike the unpaved roads up the adjoining hillsides and mountain. Today, however, the rain came down so hard it flooded the Forestdale Community Church's basement (ice still on the ground created a funnel for runoff, stright into the church basement). Pastor Paul was able to arrange for everyone to gather after the funeral at the famous Davenport mansion in Malden Square for the "collation" (light snacks). Davenport was the man who invented the Davenport furniture (sofa), and in the 1950s the Malden phone exchange was DAvenport (as in "Operator, please connect me to DAvenport 4-0831, my parents' phone number for years). We passed by this mansion every day for many years when we attended Malden High School, but never had the opportunity to go inside since it was a private residence. His widow left the mansion in trust and it is used as an old age home today. Very ornate, like the mansions Dale and I had seen in the Cotswolds of England. Very elegant, high-ceilinged, dark-wood paneled rooms. The wallpaper in one room was hung in 1892 and another room actually had leather wallpaper. Later this evening we all went to Paul & Dot's for dinner. Nephew Ricky showed up - bald! A great family reunion.

    Saturday 03 Mar - Joe & Sharon left early AM. Dale actually dragged me to church this morning (Forestdale). Karen, Susan, Tracey and Ricky went to meet Nicky at some nightclub/bar on Route 99 (where it meets Route 1N) last night. They wanted to return the pictures she brought to the funeral home and also, of course, to spend some time together. Apparently they all had a good time because they were still grunting in their hotel beds (Day's Inn Saugus) this morning at 11AM !! Just past noon we went to the Christmas Tree Shop on Route 1 (with the sailing ship restaurant next door). Later in the afternoon all of us went back to the gravesite. Bright sunshine - what a difference from yesterday! We also visited Barry's parents' gravesite, as well as both our grandparents' sites, and found the gravesites of many childhood acquaintances too (neighborhood adults and parents of our childhood friends). Helen and Al's gravesite is beautiful - next to the Duck Pond. Very well manicured cemetery; huge, mature trees, etc. Showed the kids our old neighborhood and former homes. Kathy drives back to Machester NH airport for her flight to BWI tonight. Karen and Susan leave from Boston's Logan Airport tomorrow (Sunday), and that afternoon Tracey and Alana will drive to Providence and stay overnight at the airport hotel. They have an early 6AM flight to Honolulu on monday morning. We ended the day with Alana enjoying sliding down the icy/snowy hillside in back of the hotel!

    Sunday 04 Mar - This morning we were roaming around our old Forestdale neighborhood. Dropped in to see Barry's 90-year-old Uncle Leo and took his picture (which apparently had not been done in quite a while, judging from the comments I've received from many relatives :-) Uncle Leo still walks everywhere and is in surprisingly good shape! Ricky picked Susan up while Dale and I were at the Forestdale Church this morning. Tracey and Alana are still with us (Kathy drove to Manchester, NH yesterday evening for her flight to BWI and Karen took the 7:00AM hotel shuttle bus into Boston's Logan airport this morning, and flew back to Myrtle Beach). Susan's flight is this afternoon. Eureka! It's 2:15PM and Ricky just showed up with Susan, and he's volunteered to take her to the airport for us! So Dale, Tracey, Alana and I head over to the Kowloon (Barry's parents' favorite chinese restaurant for years) for a late lunch, then they drove off off to Providence , RI. (6:00AM flight to Honolulu tomorrow morning). Dale and I then drove to the North Shore towns of Revere Beach, Nahant, Lynn and Swampscott. I am absolutely amazed at how good their waterfront areas look. I am told that it didn't look that good when I was a teenager and I believe it because I would have remembered. Apparently those cities have spent quite a bit of money on new concrete seawalls, waterfront parks, etc. Very nice. I did notice that Nahant is still as snobby as ever. You can hardly find a public place to park, which is exactly the way the people who live there planned it. I guess they got scared when the people from Roxbury invaded Revere Beach years ago -- and essentially closed down Revere's amusements and arcades which had existed for over a hundred years. Everything that was there is long gone, and high rise apartment building are in their place. The 1800's era gazebos with seats and now-electrified gas streetlamps along the water are still there. Revere Beach could look very good again, with just a bit of public money spent to modernize the facilities.

    Monday-Tuesday 05-06 Mar - We drove from Massachusetts to Woodbine, MD where we stayed overnight once again with Kathy, Tom & Jessie. We ran into snow flurries in Connecticut and New Jersey. On Tuesday we headed off for Myrtle beach and arrived in the late PM. Spent an hour or so running through our e-mails and found that our friend Penny Crowell was in the hospital with a bad case of pneumonia, and was on a ventilator! I tried to call Chuck but no answer. He's probably spending all his time at the hospital.

    Sunday 11 Mar - Penny is doing much better (had us scared for quite a while)! We are getting ready to drive down to the condo in Bradenton (FL). Karen, Chuck and a few of their friends go down to Orlando every year and they all leave tomorrow. Karen and Chuck will join us in Bradenton next saturday (17th) for St Patty's Day. Clancey's, a local Cortez Rd bar really goes "all out" for the celebration, so we plan on attending in all our greenest finery! It's been nice here in Myrtle Beach the past few days. I haven't done much except putter around, working in the yard all day: a welcome respite after Helen's funeral. It had to be in the high 60s today. I still wear a coat, however, because every time I think that it's warm enough to go out in a T-shirt, I get a cold! So this time I'm playing it safe!

    Tuesday 13 Mar - Drove from Myrtle Beach to Bradenton. Found a thick package of postcards from Hong Kong and China in our mailbox, sent by our Australian friends, Michael & Judy Krzeszkowski! They (the postcards and the Krzeszkowskis) are absolutely wonderful! The pictures give you an excellent idea of what Hong Kong, Beijing, the Great Wall, etc looks like from so many gorgeous perspectives!! One of these days I hope that Dale and I can see these places in person. We still have our FL condo on the market for sale, but the market is not cooperating ;-) When we finally sell it, we'll be able to take some exotic trips too (Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, etc)!! We still hope to visit Italy and England this year, but the addition to the Myrtle Beach home may delay that trip. When we do go to Italy we are going to try and see parts of Italy that we have not yet seen! We always go back to the same places where our friends live, and we will do so again, but this time we'll add new places to the trip.

    Thursday 15 Mar - We're having a good time at the condo (resting, mostly :-). We drove along the beaches on the island (Anna Maria) yesterday afternoon, went to our favorite Thai O Cha restaurant last night, hit the condo's gym this morning for a few hours, followed by time in the sun by the pool.

    Friday 16 Mar - It poured last night and earlier this morning but the sun is shining right now and it's probably in the high 70's (80's yesterday and the day before). Spent wednesday running around - bought some shoes at Wal-Mart because I brought eight pairs of pants to be altered by my local Cortez Road tailor. Bought the pants in Massachusetts and Maryland - great sales - $65 pants for $12 etc. I needed the dress shoes because I wanted to make sure that the pant legs would be shortened to the correct height (all I had with me were sneakers, and they would not do). Anyway, the shoes only cost me $26 and they are really nice too (loafers). My boat is "still floating" and I'm going to look for a trailer for it while we're here this time. Karen & Chuck are in Orlando and they called us last night. They'll be driving over around 1PM tomorrow and stay a few days.

    Saturday 17 Mar - Happy St Patty's Day !! Karen and Chuck are on the road from Orlando to come visit us here in Bradenton. Once they arrive we're going to Anna Maria Island to attend a crafts show, then to the local Irish bar (Clancey's) tonight! Then off to the Red Barn and the Myakka State Park tomorrow. It's bright and sunny here today. Also windy and perhaps a bit chilly but I'm wearing a T-shirt and shorts and have no plans to change ;-) Rene just sent us a picture of baby Autumn lying inside a St Patty's Day Hat (cute). We are also decked out in our St Patty's Day finery - T-shirts from our local Clancy's Irish Bar! We're all going there tonight: Big Tent, Scottish Bagpipers, Green Beer. Alice Peterson just sent us an e-mail today saying that they had a foot of snow in Freedom, NH! Whoops! It's 1:30PM and Karen and Chuck just arrived in the condo garage. Gotta go help them with luggage. I'm back! We're off to a Craft's Show at Cochina Beach (Anna Maria island), lunch at Rotten Ralph's (Anna Maria), then to Clancy's for the big St Patty's Day bash. (We left Clancey's while still daylight and drove up to "The Pier" in St Petersburg. A fun-filled day)!

    Sunday 18 Mar - We started out with a trip to the 'famous' Red Barn, a local flea market complex that we enjoy immensely. We usually get all our fresh veggies there, and enjoy walking around the outside/tent booths with the "garage sale" items, to looking at brand new merchandise in the roof-enclosed portion of the complex. Then we drove South on Interstate 75 to the Myakka State park, where we saw alligators, climbed a tower, hiked nature trails, and took a ride on one of their two "largest airboats in the world". It's been chilly, and I didn't even have a light jacket down here, so luckily I broke down and bought a hooded sweatshirt for $10 at the flea market. It looks good and better yet - it kept me warm on the boat ride.

    Tuesday 20 Mar - Well, Karen & Chuck left for Myrtle beach yesterday and we just lounged around. We had six manatees in our canal today, one of them actually doing the backstroke and making honking sounds. Very amusing! I took pictures (see the March photo menu). In a few minutes Dale and I are heading out to the local cinema to see a movie about four guys on motorcycles (Hog Wild).

    Wednesday 21 Mar - The First Day of Spring! We were going to drive up to New Port Ritchey today to see Dale's Uncle Russ and Aunt Hilda (New Hampshire snowbirds) but, unfortunately, when she called this morning there was no answer. She then called the New Hampshire house and found that her aunt had died on monday (here in FL) and the family is back in Meredith, NH, arranging the funeral. Another chapter in our lives has passed. Hilda & Russ "stood up" for Dale's parents when they got married, so it's been a lifelong association. They're not really an aunt and uncle but Dale's called them that all her life. Russ is now 90 years old or so, and still has a fantastically sharp wit. We don't know how he's doing yet. At least Hilda had been healthy all her life (was in her mid 80's) and it was only this last few months that she took ill. Today seems to be split between bright sunshine and overcast. I haven't decided what I'm going to do to "fill the day" (Ho Hum .. Tough Life ;-) I might change into some old shorts and T-shirt and work on the boat. Dale is napping on the couch, and the cat is spread out just above her - copying her style ;-) It's 3:30PM and I have not done much except update my e-mail address list on the Netzero Server, a handy service since that means I can keep the addresses on-line and access them from wherever we happen to be in the world. We went to the movies last night and saw "Wild Hogs" with Tim Allen, Chris Rock, John Travolta and another guy whose name I don't know. The know-it-all movie critics panned the movie and I must admit that there were some very stupid scenes in it, especially at the beginning, but overall it was quite entertaining. It will make a lot of money and garner no awards ;-) Kathy and Tracey have started training for this year's Honolulu Marathon. Kathy is running two miles a day to get started. I can't run 100 yards! I have started an exercise program, however. Now I have to make myself do it every day instead of "whenever". I changed a bunch of beige-colored electrical outlets/plugs in the kitchen last night. Replaced them with white ones to match the existing (new) wall paint. Looks much better. I have two more switches and plugs to exchange in the living room and bedroom and then I'll be done. I've also got a bunch of little things to do on the boat, but I think that's one of those "manana" projects ;-)

    Thursday 22 Mar - Did some work on my boat today. Fixed the sink (replaced the drain system). Also got my front (red/green) running lights working again. I thnk I may have a short in the rear light (white) so I'm going to the local boat store tomorrow and getting a new receptacle. Tried to change the oil but am having difficulty hand pumping the old oil out through the dipstick access hole. Feels like there is some sort of metal thingie stopping my tube from going all the way into the oil pan. May have to do some research to see how the professionals do that particular job. Dale found an article in tonight's newspaper that says there is the yearly craft show on Sarasota's Main Street this saturday. We'll head on down. Always enjoy Sarasota Main St (it's the "old town - two story max buildings instead of all the glitzy high rises). Got a call from an appraiser in Myrtle Beach this morning. Our home addition project is moving along!

    23-25 March - Friday night we went to Cortez Kitchen and got front row seats. The young country-singer does a good job, and the working-waterfront location is very relaxing. We try to go there at least once or twice while we're in town. On Saturday (24th) the Waterway Condo Association had a belated St Patty's Day (because our volunteer keyboard musician had a previous engagement on the 17th). We had fun! On Sunday we went to Sarasota for their annual Crafts fair. They clear the streets in the old part of town, about two blocks from the Gulf of Mexico beaches, and all the booths set up in the streets. Very nice, and lots of interesting items for sale. I also got a good look at the downtown architecture, as well as some of the newer buildings they've constructed. Again, very nice - a great place to live. We then walked across the street to the Marina, and discovered a beautiful park with long walkways along the water, gorgeous views, etc. Even saw a group of people testing out Segways, those two-wheel electric "people movers" that you guide by shifting your weight. Always like to see something new and unusual!

    Monday 26 Mar - After days of saying that I wanted to do it, I finally started up the boat and drove it out into the Gulf of Mexico. We went way out north of Anna Maria Island to the Passage Key area. It's a huge island, mostly about three-five feet underwater. It probably was the northernmost portion of Anna Maria Island at some point in the distant past but there is now a wide channel between the northern part of Anna Maria and what is now this huge "sandbar" (Passage Key). In the summertime lots of boaters head out there and set up chairs and tables in the shallow water and have picnics. It was high tide today and most of the remainder of the island was under water too. We then drove south to the Longboat Key bridge and pulled in to the sandbar that everyone calls "Beer Can Island". I was able to go into the shallow water and scrape the barnacles off my propellers, something I've had to pay big bucks for at the Taylor Boatyard in the past. Our boat really ran so much faster after I did that!

    Tuesday 27 Mar - We will be driving back to Myrtle Beach tomorrow, Wednesday the 28th. I have to pick up some clothing at the local tailor's shop today. Tonight we're going to the Thai O Cha Restaurant, our favorite (Thai food) restaurant just down the road on Cortez. There are now eleven condos for sale here in the Waterway, so most probably ours won't be selling any time soon. We'll just have to keep coming down and enjoying Florida for a bit longer. Speaking of which, we went out this afternoon and played miniature golf at Smuggler's Cove on Cortez Rd. We haven't done that in a long time. Enjoyable.

    Thursday 29 Mar - We drove back to Myrtle Beach yesterday. Uneventful trip, but I like the drive! Today Karen & Chuck bought a beautiful new home in Arrowhead, right on a golf course, with a view of the IntraCoastal Waterway. They haven't decided yet whether they will rent it or live in it. They're also buying a few more houses in the next several weeks. We were surprised to see that "Early Spring" is still here! The Bradford Pear trees still have white flowers, and all the azaleas are either blooming or just starting to bloom (they bloom a very long time down here). Most of my other plants are starting to show a little green popping up from the ground, and the trees are only just budding. My centipede grass is only starting to turn green (goes brown in the winter, like zoysia).

    Friday 30 Mar - I have arthritis, mostly in both of my hands. Hurts every morning when I wake up but I run the hot water on them and that lessens the pain. Then again, as I am typing this I can feel the pain in both hands so I guess you just learn to live with it. I noticed that our Myrtle Beach Homeowners Association added two new members to its Architectural Review Committee (ARC) and one of them became the Chairman. I called him today and asked for his help in filling out the forms required to get their approval for our home addition. He came right over. Great guy; very helpful. Since our home was the original model home for the community, the corporation situated it where they wanted on the lot, and it doesn't seem to conform to the present-day setbacks. The house is also at an angle to make it harder to define under the descriptions on the ARC approval form. I showed him what I was talking about and he agreed. I added the distances from three corners to the property lines and that seemed to answer the questions. Tomorrow we meet with the second builder that we interviewed before we left for Florida. He will now tell us his estimate to do the work, so then we can choose a builder and get started. As soon as I make that choice I can submit the forms to the ARC. The chairman thinks he can get the approval back within two weeks, so hopefully we can get started building by late April or early May! It was very, very chilly here yesterday (I had a winter coat and hood on)! Today it's warmer but with a cool breeze. Tomorrow supposed to be in the low 70s but we're supposed to be hit again (next Thursday) with cold weather. It's still springtime here in Myrtle Beach (unlike the lush warmth of Florida). Some of my azaleas are blooming. I have about 130 bushes, made up of different strains of azaleas, so I get them blooming at different times. Once they start to bloom they last for weeks, unlike Maryland where the plant/bush would only bloom for a couple of weeks if you were lucky. I'm not sure when the last rain was around here so I think I'll set up my irrigation system tomorrow and start watering.

    Saturday 31 Mar - Heard from Deanna & Claude in Nova Scotia today (Amirault's Hill)! They are going to visit friends in California (and Deanna hates to fly)! Claude's mother Anna (my mother's first cousin) enjoyed seeing the picture I took of Uncle Leo (who was born in Amirault's Hill and had his early schooling there - in the French Acadian language). Anna has been trying to phone him but there is something wrong with this line. Michael is going to check for me. (All okay - cousin Barbara's phone was not securely placed in its cradle). Claude is about to build a pergola in his back yard (screened-in; the mosquitos swarm thick in Nova Scotia)! I want to build one too, perhaps next year. Maybe I'll copy Claude's work ;-)

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