Just Breathe. It Works.

Today could have been kind of frustrating if I were hell-bent on getting what I wanted to do done. But I took the attitude that I’d just do what I could and be satisfied.

My “office”

I had to check out at 10 am, which left me fancy free until a 6 pm flight. I was fine with that, and headed over to the “business” area of the condo place, where I’d never been. It’s also where the kid area and very fancy gym were.

Kid area

That would have been fine, except it was not great for internet connections. My personal hotspot was lukewarm at best, making my Friday friend chat iffy, and my work quite un-fun. I did get a lot done until some employee decided to teach one of the many local homeless people how to check email. ThT was kind of him, but loud.

I decided to go ahead and try my luck at the airport. Of course there was no shuttle, and when the taxi arrived, neither the bellmen nor the taxi driver wanted to open the door for me and my heavy bags and my turtles. Finally, the cab guy shoved my things in. When I went to get my knitting bag to sit with me, I slammed my knee into some hard object under the scuzzy seat cover, getting a bruise and a rip in my favorite non-ripped jeans.

Everyone on Facebook has informed me that ripped jeans are fashionable again. I never knew they weren’t. And I own some.

But, I took a deep breath and enjoyed the ride to the pretty airport. Since I was so early I enjoyed a really tasty veggie quesadilla at the Nacho Hippo restaurant. Honestly yummy and full of roasted things I like.

I then found a nice table with the right plugs, and tried to do some work to help a colleague. The internet continued to frustrate by going in and out and the software I was documenting was most snail-esque. I breathed a lot and only muttered a few curses.

When I couldn’t upload or find the URL for the PDF I’d tried to upload, it occurred to me that I’d already worked 6 hours and things would work way better at home tomorrow. I gave up and set to knitting and people watching. The border on my blanket is looking lovely. It’s simple but effective.

Nice gradient

The people watching showed me I have completely missed out on a fashion trend. It’s some kind of jumpsuit or romper or something. It is skin-tight, like what a DC superhero would have worn in my prime comic-reading years.

Some are skin-tone, ranging from beige to dark brown. Others have wild patterns in them. All show, um, everything about the wearer, including raised scars, cellulite, etc. I find it incredibly unpleasant yet I keep looking at them.

She volunteered to wear this in an ad so I feel ok sharing. I didn’t take pictures of people in the airport.

Kudos to the folks who embrace the look at all sizes. I did note it was mostly popular with those who appeared to be under 30, and is often accessorized with Crocs. It makes my frayed jeans seem tame and old.

I was glad to get on the plane where I could see how my new phone camera does looking out plane windows. I got views of water and Charlotte, NC.

There were more of those outfits in that airport, along with the tannest and fittest whites woman I ever saw. I think she might have been a professional body builder. Still, I’d have preferred to not see every detail of her in her tights and cropped top. I’m getting old, folks.

Plane is leaving. I’ll upload and say bye to the eastern US. And breathe for a while.

Work Is Worky

I like my job a lot. I’m really lucky to be doing what I enjoy for great folks. But whew, sometimes I need to take a break. My eyes are throbbing from looking at my tiny laptop screen and trying to write software instructions for hours and hours.

Necessary beverage

I finally stopped writing at 5:45 and had a sandwich and large beverage at the sports bar where there were no small screens. That helped a lot. I’ll be glad to have my large screen next week! And my dogs! And the horses! And the family! I keep dreaming about horses. Weird dreams where they do odd things but I’m fine with it.

I’ll miss the hazy shoreline.

I also know it’s time to go, because loud people showed up next door, for the first time in two weeks! I’m glad I have an online horse meeting tonight. That will drown them out

My goodness, actual vehicles in the water.

Tomorrow I have to work more, somehow, after checkout. And ship those turtles home. I’m sure I can do it. Then yay, I can go home.

I’m too tired to write. So, bye-bye stats! I’m gonna knit the border on this fine blanket.

Just needs borders

An Artist I’m Not

After spilling my guts about no longer feeling free yesterday (and receiving some wonderful support and feedback), I was grateful to have something to do last night to take my mind off The State of the World. It involved “art” in a loose sense.

From a distance it appears I did art.

I’d arranged with Sarah the Bartender to go try our hand at Painting with a Twist, because I’d never been invited to go when I lived in Austin and never thought to arrange to go myself.

You can bring wine.

Sara’s girlfriend Kara came along with us as we endeavored to create paintings of turtles. With minimal instruction from Kayla, the teacher, who focused most on making a taco with your paper towel after cleaning brushes, we had a lot of fun.

Ready for the fun

I learned back roads to get places, too. At least they were impressed I knew where some stuff was. Mostly I listened to them be cute young adults my kids’ age.

Cheers-ing

I enjoyed painting, but was way better at the background than the actual turtles. We got to draw freehand, so it was an advanced class, I guess. It’s fun mixing colors.

Obviously freehand. One of us Drew the turtles going the wrong way and insisted on giving them tails. Me.

The time and wine flowed quickly. Thus my turtles could use some work. But it was sure fun. Maybe I can do this again, like putt putt! I won’t do it here, because the place is closing. But apparently the fancy Lowe’s grocery store with a bar in it will soon host wine nights. Kayla is going there, she hopes.

Now I just have to get the thing home. Hmm.

These were growing wild on yesterday’s walk.

Yesterday I also met with Tom the super sales guy to learn how to set up to rent out one of our timeshare weeks on Vrbo or some such stuff. If he’s telling the truth, that would pay my maintenance fees. I feel like such a capitalist elite, even if I am a second-class piece of chattel to so many.

Yes I have sunscreen.

Finally. Nature Cruise.

I stopped work at noon today, because I had triumphantly solved problems and published a new video upgrade. It was time to head back to the Waccamaw River cruise I went on last year.

So beautiful to me.

We had as much fun as last time. I got to take pictures of lots of plants and beautiful flowers, like spider lilies, swamp roses, and pickerel weed.

I found some insects, and many water plants trees.

But the best things were passing by many osprey nests and seeing the mothers and babies together. We saw males chasing each other, too. What a fun time of year to take the cruise.

Of course they were looking for alligators. It’s fun to see wild ones. We found three nice sized ones. One jumped in the water for us, and one gave a swimming demo. They are beautiful ancient beasts.

You might enjoy watching one of them swim.

Living the river life.

Mostly, though, I just looked at cypress and Tupelo trees and appreciated being away from people. It’s memories of times like this that keep me going.

We had a nice dinner at Murrell’s Inlet again. I enjoyed the view of birds and Goat Island. I sure love a good marsh.

And back at the beach? More birds, though perhaps not the fanciest.

I tell you what. Water is soothing and never the same from one day to the next. Of course, where you live is the same. Just keep observing. It’s a fine hobby.

Not Bad for a Free Boat Ride

Once again, I woke up extra early and got to work by 6 am home time. I guess not having the dogs keeping me from sleeping soundly let’s me get enough in just 7 hours. Of course I still miss the dogs.

I only wish we went out on this one.

After a much more successful day of meetings, training , and spreadsheet analysis (with no more fire alarms), Lee and I went downstairs to go for a boat ride we were given as a bribe or thanks for going to yet another condo sales pitch.

We had a reasonably good time on the paddlewheel trip down the intracoastal waterway. It was a cute little boat, and we had what I thought was a good meal. There were ribs and some good chicken with rice.

I enjoyed looking at fancy houses and their landscaping. I was happy to see that many of the residents had veggie gardens.

Of course I kept an eye out for birds. There were cormorants, mallards, Canada geese, and swallows, who skimmed the water as they got bugs off the surface. It was sure fun to watch them.

There were just 40 people on the trip, but it was too many for poor Lee. Plus an Elvis impersonator sang karaoke for the entire trip. He wasn’t too bad, nor too loud. But I’m not big on an endless parade of country and “I Love America” songs. I did enjoy Purple Rain, which he sang for the nice woman with the Prince purse.

It was a good break for me. Of course I have to spend an hour listening to some upgrade pitch tomorrow. I’ll live. It’s a small price to pay to get a free boat ride. Did I mention the open bar?

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to write more deep stuff. Right now I just want to watch nature shows. First some nice musician drove a Harley to look at woods in Wisconsin, and now David Attenborough is telling us how cool eggs are. Yay. Nature. Here’s some more, plus evidence of humans.

Alarmed, Inconveniently

Today is my usual early work start day. I woke up extra early, so I got working around 7 Eastern. It’s a good thing, because I had a lot of setup to do in preparation for training. Lot of good THAT did me.

I felt as prickly as this guy.

I had a support meeting to lead at 8. Then training people at 9. No problem, right? I dialed in on the phone and all was fine. Then. Lights flashed and horns honked.

HONK HONK. THERE HAS BEEN AN EMERGENCY IN THE BUILDING. CEASE OPERATIONS AND PROCEDE DOWN THE STAIRS. ELEVATORS ARE NOT OPERATING. HONK HONK.

That put a kink in my ability to help. So, I grabbed the three most important items I had: my work computer, my phone, and my knitting. I proceeded down 26 floors. Behind fragile elders. Behind handicapped people. Lee came gown eventually, behind a poor guy with heel spurs.

Naturally, on the third floor we were informed it was not a fire. A worker hit the wrong wire. Argh. I was lucky that they had an employee driving the elevators and I got back up quickly.

Happy beach flowers.

When I got back to the room I realized the honk honk announcement was still blasting away. Umm. I was supposed to do training in two minutes. A comedy ensued.

I somehow got into the meeting. Then they said they couldn’t hear me so I dialed on by phone. THEN I realized I couldn’t see my screen because the balcony is in bright sunshine early in the morning.

Hooray! The honking finally ended! Boo! Zoom told me my meeting would end in 6 minutes. Apparently Dell didn’t give me a pro account. Of course right then a user asked a long and complex question. I felt doomed.

But I managed, though I had to keep switching to my notes and guessed where to click a lot!The plan had been to use the giant television with my software on it, and my notes on my laptop. I could have breezed through the training. Nope.

These plants spit their seeds. I felt like spitting.

Like good little troopers, everyone rejoined and I managed to finish only one minute late. Way to go, me, and major thanks to my helpful colleagues. And you know what? I wasn’t overly stressed out from all this!

I did, however, take a brisk and cathartic walk at lunchtime. That’s where the pictures came from. The beach flowers are hardy and resilient, just like me.

Resilient

This margarita and my knitting will make me feel ALL better. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Margarita and valuable knitting project.

It’s Beautiful to Me

I started reading about the universal theory of beauty, but didn’t get far enough to say anything wise about it. I was comforted to know there is such a theory, though.

Marshes. That’s my idea of beauty. And birds.

Much of today I had my head buried in work. I do miss vacations, but Planview would have sent me to a mental health facility by now if I’d stayed.

I looked out the window periodically, though.

When I was finished, I rewarded myself with some time in the hot tub (alone!), some splashing in the pool, and a mango daiquiri.

Quite blue, isn’t it?

Then I enjoyed a quick beach walk at high tide, which let me see actual sea life and intact shells, a rarity here at the tourist beach. And the waves were great colors. Sea foam green is a real thing.

Lee and I went to the Murrell’s Inlet boardwalk for dinner at a seafood place. I was very pleased with my blood orange old fashioned I drank and the “crab stack” I ate. Crab, mango, avocado, cilantro oil and siracha (however you spell it) are all among my favorites.

We topped the meal off with a walk along the boardwalk, which features a goat island, oyster shells, and birds. Not bad for an area with like 20 restaurants in it.

The best part of the boardwalk I didn’t get a picture of, because we were enjoying it so much. There were these twinkles and tiny splashes. At first I thought it was something swimming under the water. But no, it was eensy fishies jumping together! Little sparkly fishies! We were charmed.

So, that was beautiful.

Sculpture! Birds! Nature Surprises! Beauty?

Today I got to have all the funs, to celebrate an actual day off, and have some emotional recharge. And of course I had to do some deep thinking. I’m on a roll with wonder and wondering.

Nature Surprise

You may remember that Lee forgot to pack any shirts for the trip. The t- shirts he got were fine. But. He got one long-sleeved shirt at Kohl’s when we stopped at one on the way, and it turned out to be weird and too big. So, he declared we would go to Tractor Supply and get more Lee-esque shirts. Why? It got chilly overnight!

Fern time. Sensitive.

Imagine my happiness when I saw that next to the store was a beautiful wooded area with a stream running through it. It was sort of like what I imagine in my mind when I think of a southern American woods. There were oaks, sweet gums, ash, and holly trees, with ferns and palmettos underneath. There were jack-in-the-pulpits and lizard’s tail. Vines included muscadine grape, poison ivy, and Virginia Creeper. I was in heaven. Plus I got to buy a windbreaker.

As if that wasn’t enough, we were actually in our way to our favorite spot, Brookgreen Gardens. It’s always great, but we lucked out this time. For one, the butterfly exhibit at the zoo has recently re-opened. We got to see some butterflies we’d never seen before. And the flowers weren’t bad, either.

A malachite butterfly.

While waiting in line, I met a fellow horse owner and traded photos, of course. But dang, look at these beauties! I don’t know what they are, though.

Of course, I had to get bird photos, too. I didn’t take many of the captive birds, but the ducks were so pretty I had to. At least I got some pretty wild birds, too.

I’ve saved the best for last. Just yesterday, a new exhibit opened. It’s sculpture by two married people, Babette Bloch and Marc Mellon.

I got the book, too.

Mellon has had his work at Texas A&M (to impress the locals) at the Bush Presidential Library. He also designed an official medal for President Obama. His main work has been statues of female athletes. He makes them look strong as well as beautiful. He also did a horse. I liked that.

My heart melted when I started looking at Bloch’s work. She started out in bronze, but then moved on to making art with laser-cut steel. It’s lots of flowers. As you know, I am fond of flowers.

Large herons, outdoors

I had two favorites. One is a phoenix. The base of the sculpture is based on Bloch’s face!

My second favorite was a wall with dozens of flowers in bowls with color behind them. Each bowl was someone’s family heirloom. It moved me to tears to see the old things become new art.

All her work was interesting and different from anything I ever saw. The burnished parts were mesmerizing. Here’s some more of her work. Lee just loved the dog, of course.

To top it all off, I went back in at the end of our visit, and I got to tell Bloch how much her work and the stories behind it moved me. That felt great. My heart is full. What a great day.

My Deep Thiughts

Being at Brookgreen and enjoying the art made me wonder something. Do humans always seek beauty? Have they always done so? Are there things that just naturally please humans?

Are sunsets thought beautiful in all cultures? If so, why?

I seem to remember that symmetry is often found beautiful, like in people’s faces. And there’s that golden ratio that’s supposedly pleasing.

Any thoughts? I’m going to do some research. I guess I shouldn’t take time off from work and chores. I start wondering.

Pool of Dreams or Nightmares?

Hey, do you remember that swimming pool we had built? The beautiful one with the hot tub and nice patio? Yeah. I remember it, too. We called it the Pool of Dreams, but lately it had been turning into a nightmare.

Note the color of the water.

We had been following the instructions the pool company gave us, which were minimal, to say it kindly. And our questions and phone calls had gone unanswered. Lee had been spending hours and hours trying to get this green stuff out of the pool, which we thought must be pollen, because it wasn’t sticking. But that’s not all. Here’s what else was going on with the Pool of Nightmares:

  • The remote control stopped letting us choose fun colors for the lights. Only by chance did I figure out a way to cycle through a few of the possible colors.
  • The pool would not turn on spa mode and spa heat mode together. You had to go over to the unit, where snakes live, to manually turn on the spa heater. Then, you had to check every hour or so to make sure it hadn’t switched to pool heat mode, which wastes my precious propane and only heats to 80 degrees. That was getting tedious.
  • We had no idea what chemicals to put in it, because adding salt wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. We finally got a clue when Lee found an owner’s manual to the unit online, which explained that the reason the pool beeped occasionally (the pool company guy had said “it just does that”) was because the salt cell wasn’t hooked up.
  • The salt cell wasn’t hooked up. They simply had not done it. That could explain a lot.
  • We had no idea what chemicals to add, because the pool dude just said to look at the readout on a strip and add the right chemicals. Okay, what are those exactly?
  • The spa jets would not stay in. So, half the spa outlets just spewed forth water in a big gush, rather than going around and around and being therapeutic. I was most annoyed.

As of last week, no one had returned our phone calls. So, Kathleen called around and found a pool maintenance person and asked him to come in. He explained to her that there was a chlorine-resistant algae going around, but hinted there may be other issues.

Pool guy at work. Note that one of our plants is blooming.

Yesterday, the pool dude showed up. Since I wasn’t there, I don’t know all the details, but suffice to say that he put in the right chemicals to re-balance the pool and get it under control. He will be returning weekly to do maintenance. This will make Lee’s life so much easier, since he was not happy to be having to go out and do pool stuff every day, even with Mr. Robotto going around and getting stuff out.

Look at that. The pool is blue, and all the algae that was on the beach area is gone. We are sure grateful Kathleen called for help!

Plus, finally someone called back about the pool from the company who sold it to us. They had gone radio silent since we made our last payment, to the point where we thought they must have gone out of business or something, until I checked their Facebook page, and saw that it was still posting things.

Check out that lack of algae, will you?

I am told that the actual owner of the company will be at the ranch on Monday. I’m sorta glad Lee isn’t there to give them a piece of his mind, but I am pretty sure he will get a piece of the other male resident of our family compound, instead. That may help turn the nightmare back into a dream.

I hope it does, because we have been enjoying the pool a lot, and it’s going to be hot, hot, hot in Texas next week.

Where we are, it’s still pretty pleasant. Lee and I got some really cool rocking hammock chairs and have been sitting on the balcony watching birds, planes, helicopters and more.

These are FUN. Look for them at Costco.

I’ve seen little wildlife, other than a cannonball jellyfish and some amorous pigeons.

But we did get to enjoy some kind of aerial show featuring a plane, some red skydiving stuff, and some parachutes in formation. Whatever it was, I enjoyed it. And that’s it. Other than getting groceries, we stayed put and relaxed. That is a good thing, far as I’m concerned.

And kindness keeps happening. I bought myself some Mother’s Day flowers, knowing that’s the only way I’m going to get any, and the cashier couldn’t find the code to ring it up, so she whispered, “Happy Mother’s Day.” The thing is, I realize that I’m so unused to seeing people be nice to strangers that I get all teary-eyed when it happens. That’s sorta sad.

Happy Mother’s Day (US) to all who are mothers or who have mothered others, human, animal, or whatever.

At least here at the ole resort, everyone’s friendly and nice. A guy took my luggage cart downstairs for me, just to be nice! I’ve met a lot of nice people at the pool bar. Cute little kids keep saying hi. I’m keeping track of these little things, to counter all the negativity I see otherwise.

Destination Accomplished

Yay. We made it to the condominium in Myrtle Beach. We are way up high in a small unit. If we have guests we will get another room. We will see if anyone comes. This weekend it’s just me and Lee.

Today’s drive wasn’t too fancy. But I did get to see Charleston, SC for the first time. Somehow I’d always missed going there when I had a chance.

I do want to come back and actually stay there. It’s beautiful.

Big trees

All my photos of plants from today came from the ditch at the South Carolina welcome center. There were some good ones, but mostly rushes and water plants.

Just before we got to Myrtle Beach, we stopped in Georgetown, our favorite nearby town. We got some ice cream and saw a gator and it’s turtle friends.

Finally we’re at the Ocean Enclave, in our room in the sky. I was happy to see my favorite bartender is still here! We all got caught up. She did teach kindergarten this year and has survived. Good for her.

Lights and sea.

I’ll be more chatty tomorrow. Things are happening back home! Right now I just want to snooze. Not feeling too good, but I like where I am. It’s actually quiet.

I can see for miles.
Crissi McDonald

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