"Crotty News" Postings for: October 2007 !

Hey Mon !
This month, on 22 October, we celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary with an early Caribbean Cruise (13-21 Oct) !

    Tuesday 02 Oct - I'm 64 years old today! Just think: in one year I'll be eligible to retire (Hehehe)! That's the age (65) we always thought was 'retirement age' when we were growing up. Who would have thought we'd get the chance to retire so early? I retired from NSA on 03 Sep 1997, and then left Northrop Grumman in 2003. Those extra six years in "industry" made all the difference in having a good retirement, since the government always short-changed government employees. I used to wonder how all the stores and companies in the USA made any money and stayed in business, because we certainly never had any! Industry pays well.

    Also got a birthday e-mail from Bruno Calo in Italy today! Sharon & Joe King have been visiting us. Sharon flies back to Baltimore this afternoon (has to go to work) but Joe will stay on for a few more days as he tries to tie up some business deals. Dale and I are still moving "stuff" into the new office/den/computer room and her Hobby Room. I am now unpacking the boxes of knickknacks and looking for places to put them on the shelves.

    Thursday 04 Oct - Apparently my Aunt Evalyn in Washington State has the software to create animated cards on her own computer! I received a very nice birthday card from her! I don't even have that capability :-) I've been creating backup disks of all my important computer files (programs and photos mostly) for the past two days. I'm now storing all my disks in zippered folders instead of individual plastic cases. That saves me lots of shelf space and also makes it much easier to find a disk, since I can simply flip through the plastic page holders and see the disks quickly until I find the one I want. Yesterday and today it has been raining hard, which is something we really needed around here. The local authorities were starting to talk about possible water restrictions in the near future, so with this rain we should be okay now.

    Received an e-mail from my Acadian cousins, Claude & Deanna Bourque, last Saturday. Deanna says that they will be in Massachusetts this week for her nephew's wedding on 5 October. They left Amirault's Hill yesterday and hope to drop by and visit with Uncle Leo. She said that there was a guy from Sluice Point visiting in Malden a few months ago and when he returned to his car there was a note from Uncle Leo which said that he had seen the Nova Scotia license plate and Leo asked if the driver knew Anna! So this guy called him and went to see him. Leo was sitting outside and they had a nice chat. I see Acadian flag stickers on the rear of automobiles in Florida and I leave notes to say hello too. A couple have called back. (We have an Acadian Flag sticker on the rear of our PT Cruiser). Haven't met anyone from around Amirault's Hill yet - closest has been Digby!

    Wednesday 03 Oct - Joe's brother Billy, and his friend Jimmy Carter, are in town. Jimmy owns a used car and truck business in their home town in Georgia and, unfortunately, there's always people who take off with the vehicles without paying in full. So, Jimmy and Billy make the rounds about every six months to repossess the vehicles and tow them back. The guys know quite a number of the local bartenders and musicians, so Joe and I went out with them along the Grand Strand. Lots of fun. The crowds were all friendly and the security personnel kept everthing in check.

    Friday 05 Oct - Added three shelves on the wall above my computer table. Dale and Karen left in the PT Cruiser for Maryland this morning. They called a few minutes ago to say that they had stopped for lunch just inside Virginia (just north of North Carolina line). Hope they don't get stuck in the Washington D.C. rush hour :-) This weekend they will attend Jessica's soccer games and an early birthday party (Jessica has surgery on the 10th. Her 12th birthday is on the 12th). They'll be back next monday and then we'll drive down to Bradenton, stay one day, and head off to Ft Lauderdale to catch a cruise ship to the Western Carribbean. Unfortunately, while driving on Interstate 95 her car was hit by a rock, which cracked all the glass in her sunroof. The insurance company will pay for it (no charge) when she returns. They are going to use duct tape to hold all the pieces in place until then.

    Sunday 07 Oct - Joe King is staying with me for a few more days. We drove to Florence this morning to take a look at a huge Flea Market/Farmer's Market they have up there. It's about an hour's drive northwest. I bought some beautiful multi-colored canna plants for $6.00 -- half price. They are in a 3 gallon pot and look exotic, like tiger lillies. I'll separate and plant them tomorrow, and next year I can split them again. They multiply easily, so for an initial $6 investment I will end up with tens of plants. Got a call from Dale today. Jessie's birthday party was a big success. Dale and Karen will start the drive back to Myrtle Beach tomorrow morning around 8AM.

    Tuesday 09 Oct - Dale and I leave for Florida tomorrow and I've got a bunch of bushes and trees to plant before I go.

    Thursday 11 Oct - We're in Bradenton (drove down yesterday). Dale just spoke with Kathy. Jessie is now in her semi-private room and there is a cot for Kathy. They're at Johns Hopkins Hospital - Children Center, Adolescent Floor in Baltimore. Jessie's operation lasted 6 hours. She is doing okay, although she's understandably uncomfortable and in some pain. They have her on morphine for the pain. While speaking with Kathy, Dale could hear Jessie giving her a weak "hi/kiss". She was watching The Lion King. She should be there till next tuesday, then come home. She will be laid up for 3-6 weeks.

    Friday 12 Oct - Today we drove across the state to Ft. Lauderdale. We're staying overnight at the LaQuinta in Hollywood, with a bunch of others from our group of Carolinians who are driving and/or flying in. After checking in to the hotel we drove to the Ft Lauderdale Beach. The last time I was here was in the mid 1980s when they still had lots of Spring Break students/drunks overflowing the streets. The city made big changes and now the students go elsewhere. The entire beachfront and all the properties have been refurbished. It really is clean and beautiful, with a great beach!

    Saturday 13 Oct - The bus is taking us from the hotel to the Carnival Liberty cruise ship at Port Canaveral. This is our 45th anniversary present to ourselves. We're with a large group of "shaggers", the official South Carolina dance, and the people belong to many different shag clubs throughout the mid-Atlantic states. The dance steps are similar to what we did when we were growing up in Massachusetts. We're not experts but at least we don't look foolish on the dance floor (and we've been taking lessons ;-) While the jitterbug moves you "all over the dance floor", when you "shag" you move much more smoothly and precisely. It's also called "slotted dancing" because you and your partner move towards each other, or close together side-by-side, in your own little part (slot) of the dance floor, and you don't take up a lot of space. You do a lot of moves (turns, etc) in unison. It's big business in Myrtle Beach. We joined the Society of Shaggers (SOS), as well as our own shag club that meets every saturday night at the VFW in Pawley's Island. The SOS membership gets us into all the Shag night clubs in North Myrtle beach, as well as the Migration events. The clubs are packed and these people can really dance!

    Sunday 21 Oct - We're back in Bradenton and plan to stay here for 3 more days. We need to rest from all this "vacation Go Go"! We just returned from the Caribbean cruise. The Carnival Line really treats their customers so much better than our experience on the Celebrity line's Galaxy. No delays, and you never felt like a second class citizen. It took us about three and a half hours today to drive from Ft, Lauderdale on Interstate 75 via "Alligator Alley" and then north to Bradenton. Not a bad drive at all. We LOVED the cruise but we had so much luggage that we didn't bring Dale's laptop computer with us, which was a mistake. On the ship you have to pay an arm, leg and hand for the time you use their computers. If we had brought our laptop we could have, at least, written e-mails and converted pictures for attachments off-line , and then used their cost-per-minute Internet connection only to transmit. Next time we'll do better :-) Anyway, the cruise was wonderful! The last time we went on a cruise I wasn't very pleased but this time everything was very, very enjoyable. We first stopped at San Juan (nighttime - we hadn't experienced the nightlife there before - very good). Then St Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) which is really beautiful! We signed up for a Jeep and Beach tour and I got to drive one of the six jeeps in the convoy. We went all over the island. They drive on the left, as in England. We swam at two beaches - on the Caribbean and on the Atlantic sides. Outstanding! We also met a Russian couple from Kharbarovsk at the Jeep sign-in desk. They didn't speak much english and everyone was ignoring them, so we tried to help and make them welcome! Nice people, and they were very appreciative! The next day we landed on Antigua, a former British colony that got its independence about 25 years ago or so. They're still part of the British Commonwealth but they still have a way to go before they could be considered prosperous. The city streets and sidewalks are in disrepair and things in general were slightly "run-down", although there was a lot of new construction going on. However, Dale and I LOVED the Antigua tour we went on. It was called the Rainforest Canopy Tour. We drove miles out into the interior and then were outfitted in mountaineer's harnesses and rigs, cable clips, metal wheels and clamps, etc. We spent an entire afternoon zipping along 320 foot long wire cables strung over 300 foot deep chasms! We started from treetops and spun down the high wires to treehouses and platforms on the other side of the gullys and gorges. We also jumped off high platforms straight down (on harnesses) etc. and traversed single-wire rope bridges over gullys and streams. I don't like heights but after the first two cable rides I had confidence that the ropes and wires would hold my weight, so after that it was pure fun!!! (Me Tarzan! Dale Jane!). I got some outstanding videos of our entire experience on my camcorder! Then it was off to the British island of Tortola - a "drop dead gorgeous" place surrounded by 60 or so other islands, including the US Virgin Islands of St Thomas and St John, as well as a British island called Virgin Gorda! My favorite place in the Caribbean so far! There are ferry boats between all the larger islands. and we definitely want to return for an extended stay! Just beautiful beautiful beautiful! We ended up in Nassau yesterday. We had been there before so we just sauntered around the shopping areas and found a bunch of places we had missed the last time we were there. There's a "Senor Frog's" nightclub/bar in San Juan and Nassau, and we sashayed into both of them. Nassau is very nice, but sort of Ho Hum, unless you are staying on the island for 4-5 days and have time to visit all the beaches etc. We did find a nice cafe elevated over the main street (The Iguana Cafe, on Bay Street) where we could watch the world go by while sipping exotic drinks. We saw the Russian couple several times after our initial meeting, and we had pretty good conversations using a dictionary and hand signals. I learned a bunch of Russian phrases from them and, later,wowed the Russian crew members on the Carnival Liberty :-) In one of our conversations we mentioned to our new Russian friends ("Jane" and "George") that the 22nd was our 45th wedding anniversary. A few mornings later we happened to run into them at one of the ship's cafes and they excitedly had us wait while "George" (Yurij) ran upstairs to their stateroom to retrieve something for us. It was a large,crystal heart purchased at the ship's diamond store! A present for our anniversary, and a memento of thanks for our friendship! Wow! I also think that we're invited to Siberia to visit them. We'll find out in due time: their daughter is at the University of Florida in Miami. Who knows? Maybe in a year or so ...

    Monday 22 Oct - Got an e-mail from my Aunt Evelyn in Washington state. She won honorable mention for her quilt at the fair, the first time she ever entered anything. Congrats!! And, they have a new great-grandchild: Angela, Linda's daughter, had a little girl!! More Congrats!! Today is our 45th wedding anniversary. I think that the gemstone is supposed to be a sapphire for the 45th but we didn't see any aboard the cruise ship, so I bought Dale a diamond on a chain - it's called something like a "drop" (I forget the exact name). The Russian couple called us from Miami to wish us a happy anniversary! Their daughter was on the line so she could translate., Great people. We ARE invited to Khabarovsk! I told Dale that she could choose anywhere she wanted to go for dinner tonight but I think we'll probably end up at our local island Beach House, on Anna Maria Island, just a few miles straight down the road from us.

    We'll be driving back to Myrtle Beach on wednesday. The insurance company is replacing the PT Cruiser's sunroof glass for no cost. We were on our way down here for the cruise and had to postpone the glass replacement, so we'll get that done later this week. We've also done so much traveling on the highways we've now got about 105,000 miles on the PT Cruiser and it needs "scheduled maintenance". I'm just goofing off today, reviewing e-mails and editing my digital pictures taken on the cruise. I thought I had lots of pictures but I did miss quite a number of shots that I should have taken. I probably was taking movies (video camcorder) when I should have snapped a few digital pictures too. Oh well. We'll just have to go back and do it all over again! Got a call from Jackie at the travel agency in Myrtle Beach. Confirming our reservation for next year's cruise. We're going to get essentially the same type cabin as last year, but it will be a different Carnival ship and, of course, a different itinerary. More new places to see!!

    Thursday 25 Oct - Drove back to Myrtle Beach yesterday. Got a phone call from old friend Steve Fields (England: 1969-1972). He had sent us an e-mail which we never received (our Internet Provider started a new program while we were away, and it thought Steve's e-mail was SPAM). Wonderful news! Steve is getting married again and wanted us to "save the date" in March 2008. Francine Frank is her name; they'll get married in Las Vegas; and they will live in Henderson, NV.

    Friday 26 Oct - It's raining here so I think I'll spend the day trying to get caught up on my web site. I had some pictures from July uploaded but I never did finish editing the pictures from Alana's visit. It is only now beginning to become a little bit cool in the daytime. I think the weatherman said that in a few days we would be in the 60's instead of the 80's and 90's. I notice that my flowers and the trees are starting to look like Fall is coming. Hopefully the weather will not get too cold too quickly because I still have a lot of landscaping that I want to do in my yard. Traveling is fun but I'm ready to stay here in Myrtle Beach for a while and play in the dirt: landscaping, creating concrete walkways, patios, etc. However, Dale has the travel bug and we'll be off to the famous Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC next week. Received some digital pictures of Locorotondo in an e-mail from Katia this afternoon. Never knew it was so pretty! We drove through on the main street several times when we were there in the 1977-1980 time frame, but the side streets are full of beautiful, whitewashed homes that we never saw. It looks like Ostuni, one of our favorite italian towns. I look forward to wandering around Locorotondo when we visted next August.

    Saturday 27 Oct - It's been raining for three days but starting to clear up so I can get back to doing some landscaping work that I've been looking forward to doing! Today I'll continue working on my web site and, hopefully, get some more pictures from at least July 2007 up on it. Then I'll start the August and September pictures.

    Sunday 28 Oct - Another growing season comes to a near end. My jalapenos and cayenne pepper plants are still doing great but everything else is done. I picked a bunch of hot peppers this afternoon and had a little snack, using them for seasoning. ummm ummm good. If it is dry tomorrow I need to give the lawn a good mowing and start pulling up those plants whose time has come! Spent today helping Chuck clean out a couple piles of dirt from the back yard of the house they are renting out. He used the dirt as fill for a new cage he is building for Mocha. Sharon King found a shoe in a bedroom, and it turned out to be Katia's. She'll send Katia a care package ;-)

    Monday 29 Oct - Penny Crowell is sending us a package of pecans. Love them. Their neighbor has a big tree that hangs over their property, so every two years, when the tree produces nuts, Penny and Chuck gather the pecans that fall in their yard and spend hours shelling them just for me. Well, maybe for Dale too. And themselves. I sure do appreciate them! The last time we were at their house I took some seed pods from their Texas Mountain Laurel Tree. I had forgotten about them, but found them earlier this summer in a sealed bag. I planted about ten of the bright red seeds and five sprouted. San Antonio gets freezes down to the teens sometimes so we assume they will withstand our winter. I'm going to leave them in their pots and transfer them to a permanent spot early next Spring.

    Tuesday 30 Oct - Today is the second morning that it is cold outside. It was in the low 40s when we got up. It got close to freezing in the higher areas of SC and NC. We turned on the heat. With cold weather coming I have been cleaning up the yard and the garden. I drove a truckload of flower pots and other unwanted items to the local dump this morning. The yard now looks neat. Tomorrow I will move the last of the boxes (video tapes etc) out of the guest bedroom and then set up the bed and dresser so it will once again look like a bedroom. Then we will have two guest bedrooms, and be ready for the kids coming to visit this Christmas.

    Wednesday 31 Oct - Halloween! We had triple the number of kids arriving to Trick Or Treat this year as we did last year. We're also getting to know several of the entended neighbors, those who live nearby but not in the immediate area, so we're starting to recognize their kids. Some even call us by name (Mr/Mrs Crotty). Very polite. We closed down around 9PM and drove to the Club 2001 in North Myrtle Beach to meet our Shag instructors Jay and Jane, and our friends Bonnie and Rick Neal. Rick is our builder's father. They were also on the cruise with us. I haven't dressed up for a costume party in years (see PHOTOs).

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