Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Plants in My Life

While I seem to prove summer after summer that I'm not much of a gardener, I did realize this morning that's not entirely true.  I do have a few house plants that not only seem to survive year after year, but actually thrive.  Of course, I'm not sure I really have anything to do with it, but let me brag on them a few minutes just the same - and forgive me if I call them something they're not.

I can't even begin to tell you for sure how long I've had this philodendron.  Seems to me that I've had it since around 2004 when my mother passed. It requires so little care I forget sometimes I even have it, except it's so big and requires so much room. I drag it out on the deck in the spring and then back in in the fall. I did cut off about fifteen to twenty branches two weeks ago before I brought it in.  It had a lot of new growth during the summer, so I know it's really real.

Same with this palm.  Not sure how old it is.  It drops old leaves and sprouts new ones.  It makes the same trip out to the deck every spring and back in in the fall.  I just stick it in the corner and give it a little water when I think about it.  Heck, I'm not even sure it really needs water.  

This one is a lemon tree, although I've never seen a lemon on it.  I know it is only because it started as a small cutting from my friend Jean's lemon tree.   I guess you could say it's done pretty well in that it has actually grown into a tree. However, it doesn't do well during the winter when it has to come inside.  All the leaves drop off and it looks so pitiful I almost threw it out last year thinking it was dead.  Something happens to it though, once it moves back outside in the spring. It resurrects itself.  Still no lemons though.

This one is an amazing little plant in that it started out just one little sprig stuck down in floral foam. Yep, that's right, no dirt!   I thought every plant needed water, sunshine and good dirt!  Apparently not this one! 

Now this one is my favorite, without a doubt - the Kalanchoe.   I have to tell you a little about why it's my favorite...

A few years ago, my niece's parents moved down here from Minnesota to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren.  As a housewarming gift, I picked up this pretty little plant at the grocery store.  I had no idea what it was called - didn't even care.  It was pretty and that's all that mattered.  A year or so later, while at their home, I couldn't help but notice these two beautiful potted plants sitting on the front steps by the door. "Gosh, I love these," I exclaimed, "what are they?"  When they told me it was the same plant I had given them when they first moved here, I was awed.  To think that that small gift I gave, pretty much as an afterthought, turned into something so beautiful!  She then reached down, broke off a little piece and told me to take it home and stick it in a pot of dirt.  I did, and it grew!  I now have several pots from the same plant and for some reason I can't look at any of them without feeling that same awe. I've been in love with the kalanchoe ever since.

My Kalanchoe blooms red, but they come in several different colors
And finally, the easiest plant of all to care for - no water, no dirt, no sunshine - just maybe a little dusting every now and then...

Well, that's the plants in my life - none of which seem to require a thumb of any specific color.   I'm still hoping though that some of the perennials I planted the past two springs/summers will come up again this next spring, most especially the Day Lilly bulbs Jean gave me.

But then that's another blog.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Perfect Day for a Walk on the Greenway

Today was the perfect day for a walk on the Salisbury Greenway.  The scenery was so beautiful I just couldn't resist taking a few pictures.  What a great idea somebody had to make a cell phone double as a camera.  I just happened to have it in my pocket...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another Story about my Mom!

Ahhhh, it's finally raining, after weeks of teasing with a sprinkle here and there.  Everything was starting to turn brown around here, but now after only a few hours of this slow, steady rain, everything is looking lush and green again!

I love the rain! Actually I can go even further and say, I love a storm!  And the louder the thunder booms and the lightning cracks, the better - especially if I'm tucked away at home.

I credit my mom for this.  (Ah, yes! Another story about my mom! Ha!)

Anyway, when I was little...

Mom didn't take any chances when a thunder storm came up, She'd unplug everything, which meant no television and no lights, and we'd have to be very quiet.  We'd all stretch out together across the bed - me, my little sister Dolly and Mom, and while the thunder boomed and the lightning cracked, mom would soothe us with wonderful stories. 

I loved it!  All of us there together, snug and safe, with the raging storm just outside.  I was always sorry to see the storm end.  And to this day, I've always been comforted by the rain.  Of course a good storm makes me want to turn out the lights and crawl in the bed!  Not because of fear, but simply that I want to be caught up in the moment - sort of like listening to a good piece of music that moves you.

...Well, the rain seems to have stopped as I still sit here at my computer, and the view outside my window is breathtaking.  I just snapped this picture.  Of course it doesn't come close to the real beauty of the earth just after a good rain...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thanks, Daphne, for the Memory!

A lovely co-worker and FB friend just posted this great picture on facebook and it brought back a sweet memory of my mom.  I just couldn't resist blogging about it.

I've blogged about my mom before and if you've read the blog (July 2010), then you know what a special person she was.  Few days go by that something doesn't remind me of her, and rarely ever is it something that doesn't make me smile.

Mom spent the last year of her life in an assisted living facility pretty much next door to the hospital where I worked.  She was no longer able to stay home alone, and so it was a choice that had to be made.  While all the staff were wonderful to her and she grew to love them, she desperately missed being at home, and so I tried to be in and out throughout the day doing little things for her.

She didn't get around very well and so she spent most of her day sitting in a little rocking chair by her bed.  The chair had a little foot stool which she used religiously, so of course, her feet were always in her direct line of vision.  I begged for months "Mom, let me paint your toenails! They'd be a much prettier site to stare at all day!"

"No", she'd say, "no need to go to all that trouble!"

I kept on though, and finally one day she relented.  I polished her toenails a fire-engine red and she absolutely loved it!!  I never had to ask again.  It became part of our routine and one that we both looked forward to. I loved it ~ laughing and talking with my mom, and painting her toenails red!

It's a sweet memory!

Thanks Daphne!!  Love the toes!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

One more shot!

Two summers have just about come and gone and still no flowers!  While I was hoping gardening might turn out be one of my hidden talents, I was wrong!!  I can't tell you how much money I've spent on plants these last two seasons, but I know it's a gracious plenty.  Mostly perennials, too - the ones that are supposed to come back year after year.

I'm telling you this because my friend Jean just gave me a bunch of daylilly bulbs. Tells me to "just put 'em in the ground and they'll grow".

Well, if you say so!

I've tried my hand at bulbs before.  One year I decided to line our front walkway with tulips.  I took great care in planting the bulbs and waited with great expectation. The following spring only the front half of the walkway had tulips. So, I bought more bulbs and replanted the second half.  The next spring, the second half came up, but not the first...

Then a couple of years later, I tried tulip bulbs again - not along the walkway, but randomly throughout our natural area.  As I remember, very few came up.  So I went to the local garden center and cried about my experience with tulip bulbs to some nice young man behind the counter.

"Are you sure you planted the bulbs right-side up?"  I must have looked pretty startled because he then gently smiled.

I know he was joking with me, but I'll never forget it.  To this day, mention any kind of bulb to me and I get this mental picture...

I'll give Jean's bulbs a try, but I'm not really expecting anything.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kid Fun

Had my grandson Nick over this week - Monday through Wednesday - and had a blast.  He's almost thirteen now and very good natured, so he is agreeable to doing most anything.

On Monday evening we met my walking group at the Greenway to walk three miles. On the way there he kept telling me "I don't know if I can walk three miles, Maw Maw!"  I knew he could though and as it turned out, he did it skipping, walking backwards, and overlapping us. He was quite proud of himself.

Afterwards, we all took him to our usual Monday night restaurant for a beer and sandwich - no, he didn't get to enjoy a beer with us, but he did quite enjoy his hamburger and fries.

Tuesday we went over to visit cousins, Angel, Cole and Gavin. Nick wanted to see who was the taller now, him or Angel.  Angel just turned thirteen in July and Nick will turn thirteen in January, so they are six months apart.  They've always been close in height. Both are going to be tall. Angel has always been taller than Nick. This time though, Nick felt he might have edged her out.

As it turned out, Nick was right. He was taller.  I told him, though, to enjoy it while he can.  Next visit might be an entirely different story.

Angel and Nicholas

I barely got away from there without bringing everybody with us, but Nick and I had our own plans.  We were going to eat Mexican, Nick's favorite, but not a favorite of the others, so we promised to come back on Wednesday and take Cole and Gavin with us for lunch at McDonald's.  Angel had big girl plans.

Nick gave the Mexican restaurant a thumbs up, and then we decided on a movie.  That's what's so nice about kids.  They are pretty much game for anything. The Green Lantern was playing at the $2 theatre and so we decided to go back and get Cole.

Eight year old Cole with Nicholas

Of course, Cole was thrilled to be going and begged to spend the night with us as well, so now we had new plans.  The Green Lantern turned out not be a good idea, as we ended up leaving about 30 minutes into the movie.  The action was just too scary for Cole and I didn't want him having nightmares. So we packed it in, drove home and got out the old Monopoly game - actually it was NC Stateopoly. By midnight I was begging to  "please, let's go to bed!"

Where do they get all their energy?

Oh, did I mention we had stopped by Krispy Kreme doughnuts on our way home...?

Everybody woke up on Wednesday morning raring to go...well maybe I didn't so much, but I did manage to hang in there.  Nick and Cole wanted to pick back up with Stateopoly, but I talked them out of it.  Instead, we all played computer games (mostly Angry Birds) until time to pick up Gavin for our lunch at McDonald's.

While at McDonald's, I bet I got a a million comments about how cute my guys were.  I couldn't agree with them more!

Cole, Nicholas and Gavin

We left there and went to a local car dealership to look at new Camaros.  That's what Nick wants when he turns sixteen.  I never thought about it before, but they are actually really good looking cars!    Pretty expensive too!.   Nick says he's saving his money - only has about $30,000 to go :)

Cole dragged us over to the Ford Mustangs....

Cole wanted the red Mustang

It was Gavin's idea to drive through the Honda dealership. Ha!  Five years old and already the most practical!

Anyways, that was it.  I dropped off the last kid at 6:30 pm and then hit the sack exhausted around 8:30 pm.  In two days, I had listened to more hard rock and rap than I've listened to in a lifetime. I  learned how to share my desktop in a Skype session.  I saw about 1/3 of The Green Lantern, and ran up a pretty high score in Angry Birds!

Today, the house is so quiet it's deafening...maybe I'll play a little Angry Birds!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Beer Tasting

Well, it's been four weeks since I started brewing my first batch of beer.  Yesterday was beer tasting day. I guess you could say that I finally got to taste the fruits of my labor.

I was actually very excited. I almost opened a bottle last week just to see how it was coming along. I figured I'd video the tasting and didn't want to be surprised if it tasted terrible. I kept thinking about Geraldo Revira when he opened Al Capone's secret vault on live TV several years ago expecting to find great riches, maybe even bodies, but found literally nothing. I like Geraldo, so I was embarrassed for him. Anyway, this is not live TV and I figured if my beer tastes awful, I'll just try another batch!

I actually waited for Bob to go to band practice before I did the tasting.  I didn't want anybody around, just in case it didn't even resemble beer. 

Actually, it was pretty good.  It looked like beer, poured like beer, smelled like beer, and tasted like beer!  I can't say I actually liked the taste, but then again, when I do drink a beer, it most usually contains a piece of fruit or two.  This is an Amber ale and tasted slightly bitter.  I didn't know if it was supposed to be a little bitter or if I'd done something wrong.

Anyway, Bob tasted it when he came in and liked it.  Said it was really good.  Liked the second one even better!  I thought maybe he was just being nice, so I went out later today and bought a six-pack of a very well-known Amber ale and did a comparison test...

Apparently, Amber ales do taste slightly bitter!!

I'll take that as a test passed!! 


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 8 - Bottling Time!

Well, it's day 8 and finally time to bottle my beer.  I had hoped to bottle yesterday but then watched a few more YouTube videos in preparation and found that most recommended testing specific gravity for two consecutive days just before bottling to make sure all fermentation had stopped.  If there's no change in the specific gravity, then the beer is ready to bottle. So instead of bottling yesterday, I took the lid off, checked specific gravity, put the lid back on and walked away. It was really hard walking away since I'd been looking forward to this all week.

So the anticipation was that much greater this morning. I got up, poured a cup of coffee, said hello (and goodbye) to Bob and headed downstairs to my beer.  I can't tell you how excited I was when the specific gravity read the same as yesterday - 1.020.  I had been given a green light! 

So, I started by sanitizing all the equipment I'd be using - the bottling bucket, the siphon tube and hoses, bottles, bottle caps, even my bottle tree.  This is probably the step I like least but one that can ruin your whole batch if omitted or not done properly.

Next, I boiled the corn sugar mixture - this is to be added to the beer once it starts flowing into the bottling bucket.

There, everything is ready to go!

Since I needed to siphon the beer from the fermentation bucket to the bottling bucket, I set the bottling bucket on the floor so it would be lower than the beer level.

Sorry I didn't get any pictures of the siphoning process but I had my hands full at the time.  I couldn't rest the siphon tube in the bottom of the beer since there is a heavy layer of sediment on the bottom and I didn't want to siphon that up with the beer.  So, I had to hold the siphon hose the whole time so that the tip was always below the level of the beer but just above the layer of sediment.  It wasn't so bad though. It actually went a lot faster than anticipated.

Once the beer started flowing into the bottling bucket, I added the corn sugar mixture.  This is a very important step in that without it, the beer would be very flat.

It was recommended that a small amount of beer be left in the bottom so as not to risk pulling up the sediment.  I probably left more than I needed, but why take a chance.  Not that it would hurt anything to get a little sediment in your beer - it's just largely yeast and hop residue.  Craig on YouTube says a little sediment in your beer just proves it's a natural beer!

Still, it's not very pretty!

Thankfully, the beer looks a lot better. Smells pretty good too!
Next came the bottling...

I raised the bottling bucket off the floor onto the table and then attached my bottle filler tip to the spigot via a long flexible tube.  The bottle filler tip is a neat gadget that when inserted into the bottle and pushed down lightly on the bottom of the bottle, the beer begins to flow, and then when the tip is lifted off the bottom, the beer flow stops. Makes it really easy!

Not the most flattering picture, but... I'm down in the basement brewing beer, for Pete's sake!
Each bottle is filled to a level just above the shoulder leaving approximately 1 - 1 1/2 inches of air space in the neck. This allows space for the CO2 that is generated as the yeast consume the sugar that I added as the beer flowed into the bottling bucket.  Once the bottle is capped and the yeast start consuming the sugar, the CO2 will build up.  Since it has no place to go, the pressure will build up, the bottle will become pressurized and the beer will become saturated with CO2. In other words, the beer will become carbonated.

I actually tasted the last little bit of beer that was left in the bottling bucket.  It wasn't bad, just a little flat.  That's because it's not yet carbonated.  Hopefully, in about three weeks, there won't be anything flat about this beer!

Anyway, the last step was capping each bottle - much easier than I would have guessed. This really neat bottle capper came with my beer kit.  I only messed up one cap out of 49.  Not bad for a rookie!

Now!  The beer just needs to stay in a cool dark place for 3 more weeks. Then a taste test!  Hope I can wait!

Oh! One more thing,,,Happy Birthday Mom! I still miss you!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 3 - Beer Brewing

Well, it's Day 3.  I was distressed this morning to find that the bubbling in the airlock on my fermenter had stopped completely. I know what I read yesterday - basically to just get over the bubbling.  My police sign is still on my fermentation bucket telling me to back off, but I like for things to go exactly by the book. The book says I can expect bubbling to go on for 2 - 3 days.  Mine barely bubbled 24 hours.


So of course I turned to Craig on YouTube.  He recommended that I first check for leaks and  explained how.  I followed his instructions.   I may have had a small leak, but I'm not 100% positive.  He then said I could take the lid off and check the brew. That made me a little nervous, but I did as instructed. He said if my beer was fermenting,  I would find a ring of sediment around the sides of the bucket just above the surface of the beer.

Well, when I finally got the lid off, there it was - this beautiful ring of sediment, right where he said it would be!!!  What he didn't mention though was the wonderful scent of beer that suddenly filled the room!  Why haven't I noticed that before - that beer has such a wonderful smell? 

Anyway, I feel better about everything tonight.  I'm gonna try to quit focusing on it until Monday afternoon when I plan to check the specific gravity. Craig says if specific gravity is 1.010 or lower, then I can start bottling.

Now that's something to look forward to!

PS: Sorry I didn't get pictures of that beautiful sediment ring, but I was so nervous about taking the lid off, I didn't even think about pictures.  Maybe when I'm a more experience beer brewer.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

From frozen pops to beer!

Last week I made frozen fruit pops.  They were OK, but probably would have been much better had I used the old fashion recipe of frozen strawberries and a heavy sugar syrup. Instead, I used fruit and fruit juices and made healthy fruit pops. While healthy is certainly better for you, it's rarely tastier than the real stuff.

This week I'm brewing beer. I'm sure I read somewhere that it's actually healthier to home brew since you don't have to worry about how to keep the beer drinkable while it sits on a store shelf. Certainly sounds reasonable to me.  I won't know about taste for another three to four weeks.

Yesterday was Day #1.  Of course, I started with a kit - everything a beginner could possibly need to brew two cases of beer, right down to bottles and bottle caps.

I read all the instructions front to back as well as the Beginner’s Guide to Home Brewing. A few things still didn’t quite make sense so I went to YouTube and watched a dozen or more videos on home brewing.  There were literally hundreds, but I soon found my favorite – craigtube.com.  Craig has over twenty years home brewing experience and a keen sense of humor.  Not only that, he really seems to love what he's doing and especially what he's making. So I followed Criag’s example: put on my Corona baseball cap, opened a beer and went to work!

The first step in beer making is to sanitize all your equipment - anything that will come in contact with your brew. A no-rinse sanitizer came in the kit, so all I had to do was mix the packet in water and then pour it into the fermenter bucket, put all other items in the bucket, close the lid and gently swish the liquid all around. I loved the fact that I didn't have to rinse.

Next was to start the brew!!  

Just so you know, real beer is made from malted barley, hops, yeast and water. While there may be additional ingredients depending on the type of beer, these are the four main ingredients and are basic to most recipes.  I found it especially interesting to read in my handbook that Germany is probably the spiritual heartland of real beer and actually has a law in place that dictates the use of these four ingredients by all brewers. So, it's real beer I'm brewing here!

Anyway, per instructions,  I put 1 1/2 gallons of water on to boil and then slowly added the malted barley and hops.  The directions then said to boil for 20-30 minutes.  The mixture had a tendency to foam up and over the top,  so I had to keep turning the burner off so it would subside.  This happened a couple of times, but I did manage not to let it run over.  I'm already thinking though that I need a bigger pot before I brew my next batch.

I set up my fermenter bucket downstairs in my basement since the temperature down there runs somewhere between 65 and 75 degrees.  I didn't know at that time that the ideal temperature for fermentation is 65 degrees, but I did know that it was probably much too warm upstairs. I had to put 3 gals of cold water in the fermenter and then pour the hot malt mixture into that, so I knew I'd never be able to fill the fermenter upstairs and then carry it down the steps. The problem I did run into though was I then had to carry a very hot, very full pot of malt mixture from the kitchen, through the house and down the steps. Without a doubt, I need a bigger pot. I'm thinking too, that I should probably just do everything downstairs to begin with.

Here's a picture of my malt mixture:

I managed to get the hot malt liquid downstairs without incident and poured it into my fermenter.  The next step was to add enough liquid to bring the level up to 5 gallons and then sprinkle the yeast across the top. However, while my instructions didn't say this, I had heard somewhere on YouTube that the temperature of the liquid had to be around 75 degrees before pitching in the yeast so as not to kill the yeast.  So I checked the temperature of my mixture, now referred to as "wort" or unfermented beer, and it was 100 degrees.  So I waited about 10 minutes and checked it again.  It was still pretty close to 100 degrees. Ten minutes later, it still hadn't changed much.  So I looked up my friend Criag on YouTube.  What Craig does is check the temperature of the wort before he adds the additional water and then adds the water in increments, checking the temperature between each so that based on temperature, he knows whether to add cold or warm water. It was too late for me to do this so I just had to wait it out. What I'd done was fill my fermenter with water before I'd even started boiling my malt mixture, so that by the time I was ready to pour in the hot mixture, the water in the fermenter was probably pretty near room temperature. Had it been really cold, I wouldn't have had to wait so long to get the temperature down where it needed to be.  Next time, I'll do it Craig's way.

Anyway, live and learn.  I did finally get to sprinkle my yeast over the top of the mixture, which then called for another 10-minute wait.  Lastly I gave my unfermented beer a good stir and then placed the airtight lid on the top and inserted the airloc. The airloc is a one way valve that allows the release of the CO2 that builds up when the yeast start working on the sugar.  This is where the alcohol comes from as well. The instructions called for a little water in the airloc so I should be able to see it bubble a little bit when fermentation begins.

I checked on my beer before I went to bed and the bubbling had begun.  My beer was fermenting!! I was brewing beer!!

Day 2: I didn't sleep well last night. I got cold and woke up worrying about my beer being too cold.  I went to check on it and it was still bubbling away.  The temperature in the room was 67 degrees.  So I went back to bed. 

I checked on it again when I got up and it was fine.  Then when I checked later this afternoon, the bubbling had slowed almost to a stop.  I panicked!  All the information says the bubbling will go on for 2-3 days.  What was wrong? Did it get too cold, or maybe too warm?  I know there is no leak because I can't even get the lid off.

So I went back to the computer and searched for my answer.  Turned out, I was not the first to have this problem   The answer was right there and pretty much said that counting bubbles is useless - that it actually has little to do with what's happening in the fermenter. It just means that the largest amount of fermentation is over and there's not a lot of excess CO2 that needs to be vented out. It also had this cute little cartoon that I printed off and taped to my beer bucket.

I haven't been back to check on the beer since.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just call me Prissy

I have a hard time drinking wine from a paper cup, or even one of those clear plastic wine glasses.  I prefer real glass. Crystal is even better.  Even when we camp out those two Friday nights a year, I pack a wine glass.  Don’t ask me why, it’s puzzling to me as well.  A couple of my friends say I’m just prissy when it comes to wine-drinking.  That only makes me chuckle. That, from beer drinkers.

My pottery-loving friends drink wine from a pottery goblet. I do too, when I’m at their place. Pottery is nice; But still, compared to crystal?
I was hard to convince until recently...
My friend Helen has taken pottery now for a couple of years.  I spent a day at Seagrove with her last year and came back with a new appreciation for pottery. We visited seven or eight potters. I not only saw some extraordinary pieces but actually got to watch a potter at work at his spinning wheel.  It was truly amazing.  
 Seagrove, North Carolina

No, I didn't come back with my own set of wine goblets, but it did change the way I see pottery.  I've actually come to enjoy a "goblet" of wine with friends. And when I chance to recognize the potter's name engraved on the bottom of the goblet - well, drinking wine from it them becomes much like a religious experience.
Where am I going with this?  Well, thanks to Helen, I now have my own pottery goblet. I've not given up glass/crystal by any stretch, but drinking wine from a pottery goblet is becoming as routine for me as drinking wine from a crystal one. And since I know this particular potter personally, there's even more religion in this house.
My friend Helen - the Potter
My wonderful new wine goblet! Thanks Helen!
Yes, I've had a change of opinion here.  But wine in paper or plastic cups? Never!
Just call me Prissy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Latest Adventures

Well, here it is nearing the end of June and I'm just now posting my monthly blog. It's been a busy month and I have several events I want to get recorded in my "journal" - a few yet still from May.

So, here's a recap...

I made another trip in May to visit my friends Karen and James at Elk Cliff Farm. I still have a little trouble calling it that, since it's always been Pannabecker Mountain to me, but I guess it's not so difficult when I just visit the farm and not the lodge. When I go with the entire group, we all stay in the lodge and then move back and forth between the lodge and the farm. It's definitely Pannabecker Mountain then.

Anyway, it was it's usual wonderful visit. Nobody makes a person feel more at home than Karen and James. I helped with the goat-milking which Karen does twice a day.  Actually I swept the barn floor while Karen milked.  I tried my hand at milking a couple of mornings, but it didn't go well. I spoke to that briefly in an earlier blog.

The goats are amazing and more like pets than you'd believe. There was one especially cute little female. She was everywhere, climbing on everything, nibbling my hair. I entertained a thought or two of bringing her home with me, but fortunately she was already sold. (It's dangerous the thoughts you can have when you're in that place.)

Isn't she a darling?

I also got to meet Karen's friend Susan and visit her Ilama/sheep farm - where I almost got to see a castration????  Fortunately, the lamb wasn't ready. Neither was I.  I did get to see a tail-docking though. Karen and Susan placed a rubber band-like thing around the lamb's tail which I understand results in the eventual dropping off that portion of the tail distal to the band. (I believe that was the plan with the testicles too - ouch!).

The lamb was so busy being loved by Karen, it didn't seem to feel a thing!

And of course, the Ilama ~ Beau!

Anyway, as usual, it was not only fun, but very educational.  Plus I had some great strawberries from James' garden.

I'm already looking forward to my fall visit.


Our first of two yearly campouts was in May as well. Twice a year a few of us head over to Lexington to Sue's homeplace on the Yadkin river for a Friday night campout. We pitch tents, grill something easy, roast marshmallows around the camp fire, sleep, get up and have breakfast and then head home - my kind of roughing it. We're not there long enough to get dirty and so don't even have to take a change of clothes! I do take my toothbrush though.

Sue's place is on a beautiful part of the Yadkin River.  The water rushes rapidly in some areas so the sound is loud and especially wonderful for sleeping - especially since everyone says I snore!
See what a great setup it is?  We always go during cooler
weather so we can cozy-up around the fire.
Sue, Larry and Joanne

Bob, me and Scotty

Then in June, we all went on another cruise - this time around New England & Canada. I spent a couple of days sick in my stateroom - no, not sea sick, just a cold, fever, earache, etc. Had a great time otherwise. We walked the Freedom Trail in Boston, enjoyed some great "lobsta" in Bar Harbor, a beer tasting and scallop dinner in Halifax, and a very special day in Quebec City.  Of course, we did other things besides eat, but only the important stuff here.

 Me, Bob and Sue in Boston

Scotty, Larry, Sue and Joanne at Legal Seafood, Boston

The USS Constitution - Boston

 Bob touring the USS Constitution

 Our first meal on the ship - no we haven't even pulled out of port!

 "The girls" in Bar Harbor

Getting ready to "get cracking" in Bar Harbor

 "The girls" at dinner on the ship

Touring Alexander Keith's Brewery in Halifax

Beer Tasting at the Brewery

Bob and Larry with Alexander Keith

Beautiful Quebec City - probably our favorite stop

The guys "resting" in Quebec

No pictures here of Sidney or Charlottetown since I spent those two excursions sick in my room.  They tell me, though, that I didn't miss a thing, and of course I believe them.  Don't tell them, but it wasn't so bad for me either.  It was quiet, I had a good book to read, and of course, there was roooooooom service!

I've been in worse situations!