"Crotty News" Postings for: January 2009 !

Happy New Year !
    One of our British friends e-mailed me today to say that Dale hasn't aged a single Day but he wants to know what happened to me !! Ouch !! :-)

    Thursday - 01 January - New Year's Day! We made it! We've been looking through our e-mails and just found several from our friends in Italy. Katia Esposito says her entire family is together today in Locorotondo and Brindisi, and that they are already drinking the wine they just made a few months ago after we left! Boy, she really knows how to hurt a guy :-) They make their wine without preservatives, so you can drink as much as you want and still wake up the next day without a headache!

    Also heard from cousin Deanna Bourque in Nova Scotia. They've been having electrical outages and snowstorms (and a blizzard hit last night)! Luckily they have a generator so they had some electricity. They also broke out the kerosene lamps and coleman stoves, and played card games to wile away the hours. Deanna says that the kids found out what "we old foggies went through when we didn't have the TV, computer, cell phones, etc that they all all are accustomed to." It's in the mid 40s here today and supposed to be in the mid 60s tomorrow!

    Saturday - 03 January - It is still warm down here in Myrtle Beach (60 degrees or so) although we still get a cold day and night every so often. I took down all of our outside Christmas decorations over the last two days, and am about to store them in the attic over the "new" house addition (Dale's porch). I have to make a run to the local dump in a few minutes, and then I need to do some editing of photos that I took from May through December of 2008 and upload them to a web site (www.winkflash.com). They make prints for only six cents apiece. I've used them many times and the prints are very good quality (and cheap:-) While most people don't like snow, we miss it and today we've been sending out e-mails to see if we can visit in February with Sue & Tom Peterson in North Carolina , Kathy & Tom in Maryland, Uncle Bob Walsh and Aunt Dot Kraft, and Alice & Charlie Peterson in Freedom, New Hampshire! Only a few inches of snow on the ground in Freedom, NH, right now but should be lots of snow later up there in New England!

    Also heard from our new italian friends (met in Italy last August), Tiziana D'Amico & Nino Mascellaro. They are in Mexico at the same place we just were in October: Playa del Carmen and Tulum ! They're going to love it.

    Sunday - 04 January - It's still warm here. 60 degrees today but will hover in the 50s on most days this month. I took down all the outside Christmas lights and packed them away in the attic. This morning I also retrieved all the empty boxes for our inside-the-house Christmas decorations. Dale's starting to put that stuff away now. We like to leave the decorations up a few days into the new year, because they look so pretty.

    Monday - 05 January - Old friends Lew & Terry Casey, who worked with me in Brindisi, Italy, way back when, sent me photos of their Christmas stay at Thule, Greenland! Their daughter Jennifer, a former Thule-based USAF Officer (who was a baby when we all visited San Marino in the late 1970's) & her husband are now based there as civilians. At this time of year the sun never appears, and it was minus 39 degrees outside! But they had fun! Brrrrr!

    Unfortunately we received word from Chuck Crowell this evening that Penny had passed away in San Antonio, Texas. She had a long illness with COPD and emphysema. She was an old friend from our tour in Italy (Chuck was my boss from 1978-1980). Penny and Chuck, along with Sue & Tom Peterson, made our lives so much more pleasant in what was then a "third-world" environment, and they've since been amongst our innermost circle of friends. We're going to miss her a lot!

    Tuesday - 06 January - We've made arrangements through Travelocity.com for flights to San Antonio, TX, from Myrtle Beach. We'll be leaving tomorrow. Mailed a set of keys off to our first condo renters, who live in Scotia, New York. Enza Esposito sent us pictures of her back in Salerno for a visit. She's with a boyfriend! No further info, yet.

    Wednesday - 07 January - Woke up, showered and just before we were to leave for the airport we found out that our USAir flight from Myrtle Beach had been cancelled. called the 1-800 number and was pleased to find that we could get another plane about an horu later, and still catch our original connection out of Charlotte Airport to San Antonio. The customer srvice representative had to redo all our paperwork, including our return flights via Delta Airlines. She assured us that the confirmation numbers were the same (you see what's coming, don't you). Anyway, the flight to Charlotte was extremely rough (high winds) and we should have given the pilot a standing ovation when he successfully landed the aircraft. Our connecting flight pulled from the gate on time but with all the high winds we had to wait in line. Someone in the First Class section started to become claustrophobic and threatened to blow his top, so the pilot pulled out of line and returnbed to the gate to offload the passenger. Then he announced that, with this delay, he would be over his allowed 16-hour stretch so we needed a new pilot, but that a reserve pilot was in the terminal and would be here shortly. One hour later the pilot showed up, announced that he had paperwork to fillout, and about 45 minutes later we finally pulled away from the gate again. Of course we also had some irate passengers, one of whom was right behind us loudly, and profanely, complaining. Luckily the crew didn't cancel the flight, a few stern glances at the loudmouth by we surrounding passengers having subdued him, and we finally did take off, arriving three hours late in San Antonio (I was happy that we made it without having to remain overnight in Charlotte)! Lots of construction on Interstate 410 and Loop 410 (the parallel access roads) but we finally made it to our motel. Bunkhouse Rustic, to say the least, but pleasant enough for a "place to sleep", and close to the Crowells home.

    Thursday-Friday - 08-09 January - Quiet days spent with Chuck Crowell. His two sisters and one of their daughters-in-law were there to help plan the memorial service, which was now scheduled for Saturday instead of Friday as we thought. Thankfully the takeoff time for our return flight on Saturday gives us enought time to attend. Mark & John Crowell were also there, and we all went out to eat at local restaurants a couple of times (I LOVE Tex-Mex food)! On Friday we received a phone call from a friend at The Waterway, our condo in Bradenton. The upstairs condo had a water leak which stained our ceiling and walls. She will call the maintenance man to take a look.

    Saturday - 10 January - The house was packed with friends and family. Throughout her sickness Penny still volunteered at the BAMC hospital at Ft Sam. Many of her friends from BAMC gave impromptu speeches about Penny, with Mark delivering the main speech. Dale and I had to leave for the airport directly after. We had made a trial run the day before, to ensure that we knew exactly where to go (Dollar's rental car lot is difficult to find). That worked out fine but when we got to the Delta counter our confirmation number was not recognized. Luckily the ticket agent was a professional, spending 20 minutes in the inner office running through computer files, finally ascertaining that the USAIR agent had wiped out our files. Our original reservations had actually been cancelled and reissued under a totally new number. He got us new tickets but because the replacement tickets were issued within minutes of the flight taekoff, our tickets were flagged "SSSS" which apparently tells the TSA security checkers that we're terrorists that need to undergo the TSA's full screening process, less an actual strip search. We made it to the plane with only minutes to spare -- and I'm the one who gets to the airport two hours early so that I can relax and not have to deal with such anxiety!!!

    Sunday - 11 January - Back in Myrtle Beach and found an e-mail from our former neighbor in Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii. Our old house next door to her is being totally remodelled! The owners have closed in our garage, making an extra bedroom, and extended the building for a new garage with space for two cars in front. New front entrance too. Looks good!

    Monday - 12 January - I had forgotten that Rene's husband, Jay Holderman, has been back in Qatar for another tour, since around Thanksgiving! Heard from him today. When he completes this tour he will be going to San Antonio, TX, for training and then to a new assignment in Charleston, SC!

    Tuesday - 13 January - Heard from Larry Tyler at the condo. The upstairs toilet leaked out about two gallons into our condo. They were able to fix the wall and ceiling stains by painting over them with Kilz. That's a relief! Water leaks seem to be the main source of anxiety for us, especially since we aren't there all the time. Katia says that she and her father received the package of 11x16 photos that I sent for Christmas. She's already hung hers up in her room, and her father (Nino) wants to hang his all over the house. One of them is me wearing a T-Shirt that Nino bought for me: it says (in italian): "He who does not drink wine, O Lord, deny him also water!" We're having nice weather here in Myrtle Beach but it is supposed to become very cold starting Thursday-Friday. Oh, Katia is very upset with the italian prime minister Berlusconi, who has been calling Obama the "Tanned President." I can see that that isn't going to make for very cordial relations with the USA in the future.

    This last week I have been editing all the digital picures that I've taklen during 2008 because the web site WINKFLASH is having a sale: 4x6 prints cost only six cents apiece! I have 1445 pictures ready to upload to their web site. I also threw away lots of very old computer books, and "tons" of old travel brochures and books that we've been collecting for years, to make room on the shelves to hold the photo albums.

    Wednesday - 14 January - Weather in the 50s and 60s. Tomorrow between 20-32! Called an old friend of Joe King's in Georgia today -- Jimmy Carter! Ok, so he's not the former President :-) Anyway, Jimmy is the owner of Carter Cars in Oxford, GA, and he buys up cars and trucks at auctions from banks, dealer bankruptcy, end-of-lease sales, etc. I'm looking for a 2004-2007 Dodge RAM 1500 5.7L Hemi Quad Cab with tow package. Once I get a powerful-enough truck, I can get a trailer and bring my boat to Myrtle Beach -- no more barnacles growing on the bottom!

    Thursday - 15 January - Got an e-mail from Tiziana D'Amico (Como, Italy). The package of 11x16 photos that we sent to her & Nino, Enza & Edo and Luigi & Maria arrived!! They loved them. Now the only ones we haven't heard from is Enza & Gilda in Brindisi. Here in Myrtle Beach our local home owners association has been battling a group of discontents who don't like to be told "no" to construction projects that overhang their neighbors' yards, commercial signs on private property, etc etc. It's always "something". Well, we just heard that the annual meeting (held on the 10th while we were in Texas, but left our "proxy" for the voting) had a large turnout which voted FOR the board and against the troublemakers. We were concerned that the "rebels" would turn our community into a dump!

    Friday - 16 January - Well, this bad economy is hitting closer to home: Sharon King just sent an e-mail out that this is her last day at Beezer Homes. New home construction isn't doing well. Also heard from Edo (Como, Italy). I had sent him a CD with about 300 Hawaiian songs but his CD player would only play the first dozen or so. I told him to try his computer and, sure enough, he now listens to hours of hawaiian music at home and at work. My favorites are the "Slack Key" guitar instrumentals, but I also included IZ, Olomana and many other singers and bands. Speaking of Hawaii, I still read the Star-Bulletin newspaper every day (on-line). Corky Trinidad is one of my favorite cartoonists, but his cartoons haven't been in the newspapers for weeks. I asked the newspaper and it turns out that he is on medical leave, so we don't know when he'll be back. That also explains why I haven't received my autographed copies of three of his books that I had ordered!

    Saturday - 17 January - OK, the cold weather has hit! It is 19 degrees this morning and will be only 34 this afternoon! Lois Hanson (Minot, North Dakota) says that's about the same as her weather! Kathryn Hill, a friend who works at the Dept. Of Agriculture (and is a friend of Bruno Calo (Brindisi, Italy)) tells us that she has made contact with Edo in Como, Italy, and Edo is arranging a place for her to stay in Como for the first week of April. Edo had volunteered to help any of our friends who might want to visit gorgeous Como. Someone sent me an e-mail with a link to a web site video showing a couple of good ole southern boys fishing for very large catfish! They would find a large catfish lying on the river bottom and stick their arms into its mouth and on down to the catfish's gills. Then they would lift the huge catfish out of the water and thrown him in the flat-bottomed boat! The catfish apparently has teeth because their arms were all bloodly and marked up! I never heard of this before but Tom Peterson knew all about it!

    Sunday - 18 January - I updated my web site photos, although I am still way behind on my monthly "NEWS" items, so I am creating this file for January 2009 and will go back and catch up on the others later. Went to the local Myrtle Beach Habitat For Humanity Retail Store today. I've been returning there every few weeks, looking for an extra set of white kitchen cabinets to match those that I installed in the mini-pantry (corridor between the kitchen and garage). Found a 36 inch cabinet today! Also noticed that they had lots of shutters that matched the ones on our house. Very cheap ($10 - $12 depending on the size). We didn't add shutters to the addition we built, so I bought several sets. I'll paint them red to match the existing ones. I'va been spending days trying to fix my computer every since I upgraded my virus protection/firewall/etc programs from "AVG". AVG version 8.0 interferes with my web site photo displays, and also our ability to share two printers between our desktops computers and Dale's laptop. I discovered that if I discontinue displaying the AVG toolbar on Internet Explorer, my web site displays work just fine. I am still trying to fix the "printer sharing" problem. I have learned a LOT about firewall settings, but apparently not enough yet :-)

    Monday - 19 January - Heard from Audry Mann, the daughter of our old friend Gordon Heasman, in Sheffield, England. Gordon is now 82 and fell again. Put him n the hospital but he's still a fiesty sort and is now back home, sitting around in shorts and a T-Shirt (like ME :-) We exchange calendars each year for Christmas. We send him one showing the beauty of the USA and he does likewise with English scenes.

    Tuesday - 20 January - Today is the big day, the inauguration of Barak Obama, and we also had snow fall here in Myrtle Beach! Does that qualify for one of those "when hell freezes over" statements? :-) Susan sent us pictures of Volkswagon Taureg cars that her company, ImagicLA, "wrapped" for the inaguration VIPs. They wrap the cars with artistic paintings printed on adhesive rolls that stick on the cars, and look like a special paint job!

    Wednesday - 21 January - Jessie has her own web page for this year's Special Olympics Polar Plunge in the freezing Chesapeake Bay! I've added a link to her page on my web site menu!

    Thursday - 22 January - Wow! Charlie Bunnell sent me a video of a guy who shows how to lift humongeous objects, such as the stones at Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain in England. For centuries scientists have opined as to how it was done. This guy shows you how to do it in his own backyard with only wooden levers, counterweights and gravity! Today I ordered some more flowering bushes and pampas grass for spring planting.

    Friday - 23 January - We're at the condo. Drove down today (10 hours). Nice weather! Low 70's and sunshine! I did a quick check on the boat -- all is well. I probably won't do anything to it until April or so, when we'll come down and get it ready to tow back to Myrtle Beach.

    Saturday - 24 January - Went to the Red Barn Flea Market. You can tell that the Snowbirds are here because the parking lot was packed, and people everywhere among the narrow pathways by the vendors' stalls. I always stop at one stall where the guy sells VHS movies cheap! I bought several for $0.50 to $1.50 each. The walk-in closets have wire shelves that are old and "sticky", so we bought new ones at Home Depot.

    Today is the day that Kathy and Jessie jump into the cold, cold Chesapeake Bay for the Maryland Special Olympics!! I wonder if they're still alive! :-)

    Sunday - 25 January - I spent the day taking down the old shelves and cutting the new ones to fit. Everything looks bright, shiny and clean now! Dale's been working all over the condo (cleaning, etc) getting it ready for the renters. Dale picked up some new rugs, and some dining room and bathroom goodies.

    Monday - 26 January - Worked around the condo today. Tonight we had Geri and Larry Tyler (the condo maintenance man and our good friend) over for dinner.

    Tuesday - 27 January - Today I painted lots of trim and baseboards, especially in the bathrooms and closets. Then spent the afternoon adding a new shelf to the workshop/storage closet off the lanai. Then rearranged everything, throwing out some stuff to make room for all our beach equipment. Now everything like that is in one place; easier for the renters to find and use. Before I quit for the day I installed an under-the-counter light in the kitchen. I've had it stored away here for probably two years. OK, I've been standing up all day and my feet hurt! (Dale's too).

    Wednesday - 28 January - Jimmy Carter called from the truck auction. Lots to choose from and after about a half-hour discussion with him as he sat in the trucks and described them, I decided that I'd like either one of two: a silver 4x2 or a dark blue 4x4, both in good shape, low miles, etc. I'm now waiting to see how it went :-) Dale noticed, again, that our little water heater seems to run out of hot water after one person takles a shower. I brought down my special socket that fits onto the heating elements, so I am now draining the tank and will take both elements out and see if I can determine which is bad. If not, I'll just replace both of them (cheaper than hiring a plumber).

    Hoo Boy! I took both of the heating elements out, and the top one had disintegrated, losing about eight inches of its length! I bought a new one for $19 at Home Depot and installed it. Works fine and we now have lots of hot water (and no leaks yet :-) Then, Jimmy Carter called. He got the Blue 4x4 Dodge Ram for us. We're going to leave here on Friday morning and drive to his place, east of Atlanta, near Oxford & Conyers, Georgia. Have no idea how long the drive will take, but most of the trip is straight north on Interstate 75.

    Thursday - 29 January - I'm in my work clothes today (old shorts, sneakers and T-shirt). I painted our front screen door with Rustoleum black semi-gloss paint. Looks like new. Dale's on a roll: she took all the screens down (I had them screwed into the metal frames), washed them and all the windows, and put them back up. Then she tackled the inside window blinds, washing them in the tub and drying them off on drying racks. That's while she was also doing regular clothes washing ironing, storing away our personal items in plastic bins (renters coming and they need the space for their own stuff) and general straightening up. It's now almost five PM and we're getting ready to go out to the Olive Garden with friends, Bill & Paulette Davis.

    Friday - 30 January - Well, we apparently were not finished with all the cleaning yesterday like I thought, so we didn't get away until 11:00AM. I finally trapped the cat, Bandit, and got her in her cage. We drove to Walnut Grove, Georgia, just east of Atlanta. I though it would be about 350 miles but it was 520 miles instead. Arrived just after 7:00PM and met Jimmy Carter at his car lot. The truck is beautiful! I drove it a short distance to a gas station and to Jimmy's nearby house. We signed the purchase documents, got the keys, and off we went, but being as it was so late we decided to stop at a new Days Inn motel for the night in Conyers. Everything was fine except for the people two doors down who started to party about 1AM and had a boom box with "thud boom wumph" sounds, muted but still audible until about 4AM when I dozed off.

    Saturday - 31 January - Woke up and went outside to admire the truck :-) Beer cans and trash littered the parking lot but our vehicles were untouched. We took our time driving across Georgia and South Carolina, stopping off in Florence, SC, at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant for lunch and also stopped at their large Flea Market. Made it home in the early evening, unpacked the car/truck and relaxed. Cousins Claude & Deanna Bourque from Nova Scotia sent us some photos of Quebec City. The houses were innundated, covered over with 20-30 foot snowdrifts! People were standing on their roofs with snow shovels. Garages looked like tunnels opening up to the street. Pictures taken from inside the house showed open doorways that were filled to the top of the frame with hard-packed snow -- there was no way out! Some people had dug out their hot tubs, leaving 10-12 foot high snow walls all around them, and were sitting in the steaming hot tubs surrounded by snow caves! Also received an e-mail from Lorenzo Trinidad, son of the famous Hawaiian artist/cartoonist "Corky" Trinidad whose daily editorial cartoons appear in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. I had ordered some of Corky's books and Corky was going to inscribe them but he has been on medical leave for the past month, and it is unknown when he'll return to work. Lorenzo is sending me the books now.

    Karen & Chuck came over later, all dressed up. They are going to Celebrity Square, the nightclub scene at Broadway At The Beach. Their Web Site Business just got the contract to re-do/upgrade the web site for Club Boca, Malibu's Surf Bar, Froggy Bottomz and Broadway Louie's. Tonight they are going to take videos and digital pictures to display on the upgraded site.

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