"Crotty News" Postings for:
August 2007 !

Man O Man are we traveling this month! !

    Saturday 04 Aug - Joe King has decided to start back to Maryland this evening (he's packing now). He's bringing two english brass rubbings mounted and framed on plywood for Jason (who was born in Cheltenham). The brasses are the first two I ever rubbed, at the church in Northleach. I probably have the most extensive collection of medieval brass rubbings in the USA, but most of them are still rolled up in canisters and I'll never mount them. One of these days I'll do an inventory and save off the most important ones.

    I spent today bringing down more boxes, etc. from the attic over our garage. Things we haven't seen for three years since we moved to Myrtle Beach :-) Of course it was hot and MUGGY all day so I probably lost 5 pounds.

    05 Aug - Received an e-mail from Tracey with a video clip of Alana skateboarding at Hickam AFB on Oahu (Tracey and Mike run the business there). The video is low resolution but what a fabulous action scene. Alana drops straight down off the lip of a huge skateboarding arena, shaped like a huge, empty, wooden swimming pool, and zooms all over the place! Up and down and around and then comes back, zips up the near-vertical 10' wall, pops up over the side a few feet in the air, grabs her skateboard from under her with a one hand movement, lands on the surrounding deck and nonchalantly walks away from the camera. Wowzah!!

    I've built some sturdy shelves, for Dale's Hobby room, from the lumber that I rescued from the dumpster while construction was going on. Aaron, the builder, also gave me several 12 foot lengths of 2x6s, so the shelves look good too. Dale painted them and started moving her ceramics and other hobby materials from the garage. I took down lots of boxes from the garage attic spaces yesterday (I've lost 22 lbs in the past few weeks -- the attics are like saunas; I drip sweat constantly)! Our porch is now littered with boxes. Dale needs to go through them and decide what she wants to do with the stuff, then I'll put the remainder up in the new attic areas -- it's so much easier to get to, than the attic over the garage. I also removed lots of my tools from the bookshelves I was using in the garage. I needed the bookshelves for the office. Was very suprised to see how well they cleaned up! Now, of course, I have lots of tools lying around on the garage floor, so I'll have to get busy and build some more racks/shelves out there.

    Friday 10 Aug - The Horry County Inspector gave his final approval on the house addition! The job is now officially done as of today! Aaron came over later and we're now paid in full. Dale and I moved a lot of our storage boxes from the porch to the new attic spaces today. Got most of my office bookcase shelves polished and filled up, although I have not added any of the knickknacks -- they're still in 11 boxes that I've stacked on the back wall. I'm going to buy metal shelf braces and add some shelves on the wall above my Dell computer. I need all the shelf space I can find. With the bay window I have much less wall space than I thought I'd have. We'll probably use the corridor as our picture gallery instead of hanging pictures in the office. We moved the large couch from Dale's sunroom into the den/office and set it by the bay window. We also moved her new chaise lounge and matching chairs from the sunroom to the porch. The HTC guy came this afternoon and hooked up my DSL, so I've got both my Dell and E-Machines (brought from Florida) computers hooked up in my new office. I'm fast running out of space (did I mention that I need an even bigger office!! ;-) so I started throwing away a lot of the old computer software (NSA 'ASTW' and 'AT' manuals and software). About an hour after the HTC guy set me up, I remembered that I had not activated the internet voice/video system 'Skype'. Within 30 minutes I got a message that "Caterina from Bari (Italy)" wanted to talk to me. I hooked up and immediately thought that I had perhaps had fallen for one of the on-line sex scams, since I didn't recognize her at first. But, sure enough, it was Katia from Locorotondo -- the young woman who is coming to visit us! She found my Skype address by checking my e-mail address against the Skype data base! She didn't have a microphone or speakers but the video came through clear as a bell, and we were able to converse using the "chat" feature. What a great surprise!

    Saturday 11 Aug - We are driving down to Florida on tuesday so I only have two more days to get things in order here. The place will still be a bit disorganized but I'm happy with what we've accomplished so far. When we come back to Myrtle Beach we'll just keep plugging away. I predict that it will take the rest of this year to really get things situated the way we want them. It's just after 9PM and I need to wet sand the wall where the kitchen pass-through window used to be. I closed it off a couple of days ago and have been compounding it. Started moving office books into my new library/office and setting up bookcases.

    Monday 13 Aug - I got up late today, then sanded and painted the wall that used to have the kitchen doorway and kitchen pass-through window, then we moved our "good furniture" (the english wall units we had made for us in early 1971, during our tour in Cheltenham) into the "new" dining room and hung some of Nick Bradley-Carter's oil paintings (Royal Academy of Art, and all that :-) The mailman delivered two large packets of absolutely exquisite postcards that our Australian friend Michael sent us from Taiwan (ROC) and mainland China!! Gorgeous shots, individually wrapped no less! The architecture amazes me. Is China really so developed? And Taiwan! Loved the memorial to Generalissimo Chang Kai-shek and the park! Just makes me sure that one day in the coming years we will book travel to these places!

    Wednesday 15 Aug - We're back in Florida at the condo. Bought two CD holders at the local Big Lots store today. One holds 256 CDs and the other holds 304 CDs. They look like "fat" versions of the zippered binders we used to carry around with us at work. They will replace hundreds of individual plastic CD cases which contain photos, programs, backup copies of files, etc. and will save me many feet of shelf space in my new office back in South Carolina. Very hot and muggy here, just like Myrtle Beach.

    Saturday 18 Aug - Last night our visitor from Italy (Caterina "Katia" Esposito) arrived at Tampa airport. She is Enza's cousin: her father, Nino, and Tony Esposito are brothers. She also has a sister named Enza and another cousin named Enza. Turns out it's a family name (their Grandmother). She experienced lots of flight delays because of bad thunderstorms in NY so she arrived an hour and a half late. She speaks very good english but is still learning, so this month here in the USA will enable her to polish her pronunciation and learn our slang. She also speaks french and japanese. She stayed up until around midnight (and is still sleeping this morning), so she hasn't really seen anything in the daytime yet. It sure is sunny here in Florida. Hot and humid just like South Carolina, and it's going to stay that way for at least the next week! Dale's air conditioner in the PT Cruiser is starting to give us problems. I need to bring it in and have it checked.

    This afternoon we took her on a tour of local beaches - Anna Marie Island, then south to Longboat Key, Siesta Key (stopped for lunch) and Casey Key. Topped it off with a visit to Sarasota and St Armand's Circle. She'll sleep good tonight. Sent off an e-mail to her father. Katia has an MSN account so she's been able to link up (chat on-line) with her father and several friends. Nothing like technology to keep you in touch, no matter where you are in the world.

    Sunday 19 Aug - Today we drove 2 hours south and east, to Myakka State Park, a beautiful preserve with two of the world's largest airboats and a nice lake filled with alligators. We took the boat ride and also hiked to a weir (low sloping dam that allows water to pass over it when it reaches a certain level) and katia saw her first alligator up-close! Myakka also has nature trails and a couple of wooden towers with a rope bridge between them. This evening we took her to our "local", a rustic semi-outdoors, waterside bar/grill with live music, surrounded by a working boatyard and a small, fish-packing plant. This night there had a couple of musicians we hadn't heard before and they took an instant liking to Katia, especially since they had performed in Italy a few years ago. It was a typical, "down home" american outing and Katia was very pleased.

    20-22 Aug - Over the next few days we didn't rush araound, spending some relaxing hours just sitting around. Katia liked to watch american TV: it's a good source of every-day american english, and we were surprised to find out from her that many of the programs we see here in the USA are also shown in Italy. It wasn't that way when we were in Italy 1977-1980. We received only three TV channels then ('RAI' and two others) and most programming appeared to be slapstick comedy. On monday the 20th, we took her to Bealls Outlet, a store that has 15% discounts on mondays for people over 55, and the merchandise is already discounted from their main store (like Filene's Basement in Boston many years ago) so you get great prices, especially on clothing. Among many other items, I've bought most of my T-shirts ($3-$4), nice dress and casual shirts ($7-$8) and shorts ($10-$12) there over the past five years. Monday evening we all dressed up and went to the Beachhouse, on Anna Maria Island about three miles from the condo. It's a wonderful place - good food, great views of the sunsets, gorgeous white sand beach, and live music. On tuesday the 21st we drove north of Tampa to Homosassa and met up with our friends the Brockways for a trip to Homosassa Springs State Park. Lots of manatees, animals, birds, etc. Even a big hippo, which yawned just for Katia ;-) Lunch at the Monkey Bar: they have live monkeys running free, but marooned on a little island in the river, 40-50 feet from the shore. Wednesday the 22nd was a "rest day". Dale and Katia went to the condo pool for a few hours while I puttered around.

    Thursday 23 Aug - Crowded into Dale's little PT Cruiser, we made the ten hour drive from Bradenton to Myrtle Beach. Katia got to see a lot of Interstate scenery (lots of miles but mostly the same scenes) and got an inkling of how big the USA was. The trip must have seemed interminible for her, even though she was seeing things for the first time. Dale, on the other hand, hates the long drive and tries to sleep most of the way.

    Friday 24 Aug - A lazy day trying to recover from yesterday's long trip. Katia was very happy with her private guest bedroom and bath, and explored our home and new addition. Also met Bandit the Cat. We all went to Nico's for dinner. Ron's family (the owner) comes from the southern part of the Bari province of Italy, which is where Katia lives, and he spoke with her in fluent Italian, the first time he has indicated to us that he spoke italian!

    Saturday 25 AUG - Chuck got into his "Mocha clothes" and took us all to visit with hius mountain lion, Mocha (see PHOTOs). Katia was impressed - I mean: "who has a grown mountain lion" for a pet?" In the evening Karen, Chuck and a passel of friends rented a stretch limo for a night on the town (see PHOTOs). They showed Katia a really good time, starting off with dinner at Yamato's at Broadway At The Beach. Of course the chef had to show off his teppanyaki skills, juggling utensils, flipping chopped food into shirt pockets and into diner's mouths. After dinner they were off to Celebrity Square and the nightclub area (Froggy Bottoms, Club Boca) at Broadway At The Beach, where at least one local DJ used laser lights to project "I Love You Katia" as a moving message on the nightclub walls. We knew they would be out way past ouyr bedtime, so Katia slept over at Karen & Chuck's.

    Sunday 26 Aug - A real treat today! Karen & Chuck are good friends with the famous Dr Bhagavan Antle, the founder of T.I.G.E.R.S.(The Institute of Greatly Endangered and rare Species). They have a pavillion at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach (also a large compound here in Socastee, and one in Miami). At Barefoot Landing they bring some of their tigers (full grown and babies), monkeys and exotic animals for tourists to view, and get their pictures taken. The site also serves as an advertisement for T.I.G.E.R.S. tours, quite expensive, of their Socastee compound. Chuck arranged for Katia to hold a young tiger, with pictures of course, and also set up a future grand tour of the Socastee compound, which we'll take when we return from Washington and New York.

    Tuesday 28 AUG - Yesterday we drove from Myrtle Beach to the King's house in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Today we had a glorious, and tiring, time visiting all the high points we could jam into a single day in Washington, D.C. We drove to Odenton, MD and took the train in to Union Statiopn. While many people do this every week day to get to work, it was a "treat" and fun for us. Union Station is beautifully constructed, and huge! We decided to get tickets for the tour buses that roam all around The Mall, but ended up walking a good deal to places like the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian and, finally, the steps of the Capitol and then straight back to Union Station (see PHOTOs).

    Wednesday 29 Aug- a slow day and one we used for a bit of rest, such as it may be :-) We wanted Katia to see things that regular americans see, so of course we headed to the local post office and then the Wal-Mart in Glen Burnie! Had dinner at the Texas Roadhouse in Pasadena.

    Thursday 30 Aug - Drove to Lberty Park, NJ. It only took about three hours. The park is directly across from Manhatten with great views. Here you catch a ferry to Ellis Island, then on to Liberty Island (Statue of Liberty). You can return via the same ferry route or catch a ferry to lower manhatten, which is what we did. We had a ball walking around, taking pictures of Wall Street, Chinatown and Little Italy. In the evening we walked back to Vessey St by the World Trade Center site, and walked to the riverfront and caught a water taxi back to the marina next to Liberty Park. The ride only costs $5 and it give you wonderful views of New York as well as the Jersey City shorelines/skylines. Well worth it! We're stayin at the Doubletree Hotel in Jersey City tonight. It has direct access to the PATH train station into New York City but I think we'll jsut go back and park at Liberty Park and take the water taxi across to NYC!

    Friday 31 Aug - Yep, that's what we did. It was wonderful. This time we got tickets for a red double-decker tour bus and rode all around lower and mid Manhatten. We visited the Empire State Building, and slowly rode through Times Square, past the United Nations building, etc. Walked all around and found an Apple store where we went in and Katia tested out all the new Apple IPODs and other neat devices. On to Central Park, past the zoo where they were having a big outdoors show. Little Italy for dinner again. Rockerfeller Center and the beginning of our "Abercrombie & Fitch" saga. Katia was trying hard to find special jackets for her cousins and none of the Abercrombie stores had what she wanted. This search continued for the remainder of her visit in the USA, as we traveled through Annapolis, Charleston, and Tampa with Dale calling various stores and checking the internet. (Success in Tampa :-) I forget what time it was when we left NYC on the watertaxi and picked up our car at the Liberty Park, but it was very late. We arrived back at Sharon & Joe's in Glen Burnie in the early A.M. A great two-day excursion.

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