Hope everyone had a very nice Christmas. As I mentioned on the 22nd, we were going to be offline for that time, and we most certainly were.
Christmas 2016 was the most unique one I have ever had. For the first time in my life, we took a Christmas trip – to my favorite escape in the wilderness – the Okefenokee Swamp. Since we got our kayaks this summer, Mike and I have been gearing up to do an overnight camp that would require us to kayak in somewhere. We were supposed to have gone for my 2.0 birthday in October, but Hurricane Matthew had other plans for us. So it was now or never, and we chose now.
The trip was amazing. The highlight was the night of Christmas Eve. We paddled into Mixon’s Hammock, for which we had secured a permit to stay the night – just Mike and me and wildlife on a remote island in the swamp. The weather was ideal – upper 70s in the day and clear at night.
The Okefenokee has the darkest night skies on the entire eastern half of the US. The evening we were on the hammock was absolutely clear and we were able to lay out and stargaze. After we were out there for awhile and our eyes adjusted, I took out my binoculars.
Orion was overhead and clearer than I have ever seen him. It was the first time I have ever seen his full arch. I used that constellation to focus my binoculars since his belt is so easy to locate in the sky. Within a few seconds of my focusing, both Mike and I witnessed a very large meteor shoot across Orion’s belt. He saw it with his naked eye and I through the binoculars.
I immediately described what I saw to Mike, “It was red on the very tip, with a super bright yellowish-white light behind that and it had a blue/green tail.” It didn’t occur to me what I had just described until Mike gave me the classic raised eye-brow, which led me to blurt out “Santa!”
So now I know – Santa’s real. There is no way you can convince me otherwise. I saw it with my own eyes. I believe.
This year is our 16th Southern Christmas. I’ve not been back to Illinois for a Christmas since we left in 2001. For those of you wondering, I won’t be back…not at Christmastime anyway.
I often say that the only way I like snow is 1,000 miles away and in pictures. That has not changed. Yesterday was the perfect example of why I am here and not up there. It was in the mid-70s, slight breeze, and beautiful. We had the windows open as we worked on my Christmas village and some other things around the house. Meanwhile, I was occasionally tuning into the Packers v Bears game where, in Chicago, it was a ripe 3 degrees. Ouch. That is beyond cold and into the painful territory.
Dad always included the Alabama Christmas in Dixie album (er, tape) among the ones we would listen to every Christmas when I was a kid. I haven’t listened to it in years, maybe over a decade. Some of it is a bit cheezy, but the eponymous song will forever be one of my favorites.
For as obsessed as I am with finding ‘weird’ music, and for Christmas carols, I can’t believe I haven’t posted this before now. It’s almost a decade old, so we may be able to consider this a classic, now.
A long time ago (in internet years), I signed up for the Proctor & Gamble mailing list to get free samples, coupons, etc.* I never bothered to get off the list, so I still receive their ads from time to time. I got one today and am not sure what to make of it. You tell me what they are asking. I’m just not sure. As the title says, possibly NSFW:
*I have since revised my philosophy on this and refuse to sign up with companies who give out coupons, etc. in exchange for my personal info. I’ve learned my personal info. has lots of value, far more than a few coupons are worth. You should consider this too. Your privacy is worth more than fifty cents off on laundry soap.
Alright – which one of you wise guys gave the Democratic Party my home phone number? We’ve been subject to many, many pre-recorded voicemails since last night, including one from Jessie Jackson! Very hilarious. I suppose they may have just bought my info, but if that is the case, their desperation is showing. I don’t think I’ve voted as a Democrat in the general election since I moved here over 15 years ago. Oh well, they can spend their money any way they want I guess. It’s not like I ever answer my phone.
Mike and I went out fishing this weekend. This was my first time fishing as an adult. We ended up having some success yesterday and pulled in a couple of redfish. We promptly took them home, filleted, cooked, and then ate them. Sorry, no pics.
Maybe it was the euphoria of actually catching something we could eat, but it sure tasted like the best fish I’ve ever had. I’m excited to get out there again. Unfortunately, this time change came at the exact wrong time. I probably won’t be able to get out there again until this weekend – no fishing after work. Our fishing hole isn’t exactly easy to get to, and certainly not in the dark. Oh well.
I suspect this is the beginning of a new and interesting part of our lives. Probably going to be a good skill to know once Hillary wins, starts WWIII with Russia, and we have to live off the grid. Better keep practicing!
Like so many of you (Americans, that is), I am mired in negativity, and I do pin some of that on this election. Which, if you think about it, makes little sense. Despite what the pundits tell us, this election is SO unimportant. No matter who wins, we all lose. So why be negative? Maybe because the idea of being a loser before the contest is even over pretty much sucks.
In an effort to distract myself and maybe you in the process, here’s some random things that have piqued my interest as of late –
*Halloween – We had 26 kids trick or treat at our house this year. I was quite surprised by the turn-out. I had suspected it would be lower due to the Hurricane debris still being all over and it being a Monday. Sadly, it seems we’re back to a 2008-style economy. About a 1/3 of the kids didn’t have a costume at all. That always makes me sad. They still got candy. Not letting our house get egged!
*Fishing – For the first time in my life I finally own a fishing pole and got my license. I really don’t know much about fishing, but really want to give it a try. The idea of being able to catch my own dinner is extremely appealing. Going to give it a shot this weekend. Wish us luck!
*SciFi – I spent some of my October free time reading some old sci-fi. I ended up reading two stories by Robert Sheckley, Seventh Victim and Warrior’s Return. They were both incredible and I highly recommend them. The wiki description of Seventh Victim is misleading, however. It is about pay-to-play murder games, but it’s not sensationalized the way Wiki describes.
Zooniverse and the Chicago Wildlife Watch. Zooniverse is a very cool website were citizens can assist scientific researches on a whole host of topics. I’ve been participating for a few years now and really enjoy it. Recently they started the Chicago Wildlife Watch. I’ve submitted 178 records so far. It’s something that I can do while I have a hockey game on or tv in the background and have a little time to kill. If I had children, I bet this would be a fun thing to do with them. Plus you have the bonus of being educational and promoting citizen-science. Check it out, it’s really cool.
Well, I hope I have distracted us all, even if only for a few minutes, from the negativity that surrounds us.
PS – Congrats, Cubs. I was really surprised to a) wake up this morning at all. I was certain the world was going to end overnight, and b) not see any pigs flying over head. Now let’s hope their fans insufferability doesn’t last too long.
It was less than a month ago that I was waxing poetic about how wonderful my neighbors were after Hurricane Matthew. It didn’t take very long for things to return to normal and for me to resume having little to no faith in humanity. It’s not my neighbors who caused this, though, so please don’t think they are involved at all. My neighbors still rock. Other people who live in my city – not so much.
Here’s what happened –
Yesterday, Mike picked me up from work and we headed on our usual route home. We hit the main road that takes us toward our house, and once on this road, we encountered a suspicious driver. The person was driving a large pick-up truck towing a trailer with a log splitter on it. This person almost hit us and then almost hit a Cadillac that was driving in the lane next to him. At that point, I pull out my tablet to start recording this guy. He ends up crossing the middle white line 4 different times and swings back to the side of the road where he drove in dirt at least twice. This is all within 3-4 miles. We and the other drivers were giving him some distance because clearly something was wrong. Unfortunately, we did not have a phone on us at the time or we would have called the police immediately.
We continued to follow this guy to his destination, all while filming. We were truly concerned he was going to hurt himself, others, or both. When he finally gets to where he wanted to turn, he completely overshot it and had to do a 180 just to make his turn. We see he is turning into an exclusive, gated community. “Great!” We think. The security guard at the gate will be able to call the police for us. We were wrong, so very wrong. At this point is when things took a stunningly bad turn…
We watched as the guard just waived the driver in. That’s odd, we think, since the driver had a South Carolina plate. He shouldn’t be a resident of that community. How did he get waived in so easily?
We follow and pull up to the guard house. We informed the guard that the person who she has just waived in was either drunk or having a medical problem and needed police assistance immediately. She gets her hackles up and goes on the hard-core defense for him – like, immediately. “I know him. He’s a resident. I’m not calling the police on him.” What?!?!
We offer to show her the video. We explain that he could be having a stroke or something and could need medical assistance. We simply didn’t know what was wrong with the driver, which is why we wanted the police to come. They are the ones with the training and ability to figure it out.
The guard continues to refuse adamantly, and will not watch the video or call the police. She begins yelling at us to leave the property. At this point, Mike and I are simply stunned. Here we are trying to do the right thing. We’ve been told for 15 years that if we “See Something. Say Something.” We did, and this guard, who we errantly believed was charged with doing the right thing as her occupation, was shutting us down and protecting a potential criminal or hampering medical response to someone having an emergency. We were at a bit of a loss on what to do.
In comes a resident to the community. We ask her if she would call the police for us since the guard was refusing. The resident refused to help. First she tries to tell us that she didn’t see what happened so she didn’t want to get involved. We understand that, stated so, and offered to show her the video. She refused to watch it. She was so peckish and cowardly. The guard is now yelling at us to stop harassing her residents. We responded by telling the guard to call the police on us then. Whatever we needed to do to get the cops there. Chicken resident goes into the subdivision while we’re telling the guard to call the cops.
Another resident pulls up, this time a man. Well, he looked like man anyway, but I gotta wonder. He was a little nicer than the chicken lady, and was willing to listen to us, but then sarcastically asked, “Well, why don’t you have a phone?” Uh…not relevant. He, like the chicken lady, refused to call the police and went into the neighborhood.
The guard is now on the phone…correction – she is on two phones. One to each ear. I really don’t even know if she was talking to anyone or just doing it to avoid talking to us. As a bit of an aside, I want to describe this guard. She was female and dressed well (lots of bling and expensive looking hair). She had this little yappy shi-tzu in the guard house with her who barked nearly the entire time we were there. In the distance we could see her automobile – a sparkly, new, white Mercedes. We got the impression she had no formal guard training and was likely some resident who wanted to earn a little extra cash. I got a little loud at this point and just kept shouting to her, “Call the Police. Did you call the Police yet?” etc. She would interrupt her “calls” to tell us not to talk to her but that was about it.
As I was repeatedly asking the guard if she had called the police, a third resident comes on the scene. This guy came from within the subdivision, and seemed to roll up simply to get nosey. While we can’t say so for sure, we suspect that this guy may actually have been the driver of the truck or an immediate neighbor. I didn’t hear the start of the conversation between him and Mike, but I started paying attention to it when I overhear Mike tell the guy to back off. I turn around and start filming them. Mike later told me this dude chest bumped him. Dude is yelling at us saying that we had no idea if the truck driver was drunk or not. We agreed with him –which I think threw him off. He was expecting a fight. We informed him we had no idea but we had film showing there was indeed SOME sort of problem with the driver and the police were needed to figure it out. He really did not like the fact that I was filming him so he got back in his car and started to head back into the neighborhood. As he did so, he pulled out a little walkie-talkie and whispered something into it. Mike asks him if he was a fire fighter or law enforcement. The guy laughed at us and Mike said he said he was a cop (I didn’t hear him say that). I suspect he was not a cop or he would have been happy to show us his badge and push around his authority a little. I think he was communicating with whomever it was back at his house.
Realizing we were getting nowhere, and there were at least four people in this ritzy subdivision, including a uniformed security guard, who were more interested in protecting their own (a potential criminal or medical patient) than doing the right thing, we left and headed to the police department.
Much thanks to the SCMPD for their williness to listen to us and to follow up on this. Everyone at the Police Department was very helpful. They took a copy of our video, the tag information for the truck, and our information. They said they would go over there and pay the driver a visit (and hopefully the guard). As of right now, I’m not sure where things stand, so I don’t really want to post any of the video, in case an investigation was opened and is on-going.
Now I’m here on lunch, listening to Roger Waters remind me that ‘What God Wants, God Gets (God Help Us All)’ and wondering what the hell has happened to my fellow humans. Those four cowards we encountered at Richy Neighborhood sicken me. I hate them, and I hate hating. It would be now that I would like to curse those people and hope they all have someone dear to them die because of a drunk/impaired driver, but I won’t wish that. If karma wants that, karma will get that (karma help us all!). In the end, I know that we did the right thing by reporting this.
Some call it 40. For me, it’s the launch of Jaime 2.0, better, faster, stronger. (na-na-na-na-na-na-na- naaaaah).
Had things gone as planned, I would be telling you about the great kayaking/camping trip we took to Little Tybee. Hurricane Matthew had other things in mind and that trip is just not going to happen this year. We opted instead to bike downtown, do a little shopping, and have a picnic lunch in Forsyth Park. Dinner was grilled lamb pitas with tzatziki sauce and fries. With Mike’s help, we made a coconut cream pie for dessert. The crust was too dry and salty. Gotta keep working on those. Mike did a fine job on the pudding center, although the recipe simply called for too much coconut (which is weird for me to even be saying).
Thanks for all the birthday greetings and wishes. It was nice to hear from everyone (and it not be hurricane related!).
Apologies for the silence since Friday evening. Yes we made it through Hurricane Matthew relatively unscathed. All things considered, we were pretty lucky, and are relieved to have gotten through it. Frankly, it was a pretty thrilling experience. I love a good storm, and this was the biggest I’ve ever seen. We don’t regret staying one bit.
We were of the 10% in Savannah that did not lose power during the storm. Considering the multiple blowouts from power poles/lines we witnessed (especially between 4a-5a on Saturday), it is amazing we stayed up. Word from home today is that the power is now out. We had expected that as they are working to repair the lines in our neighborhood for the rest of the 90%.
For me the hardest part now is that we don’t have any internet at home, which means NO communications at all from the house. As we don’t have a landline or cellphones (yep, another 10% minority for us), this has made it hard to keep up with the outside world. I’m back in the office today (and on lunch now), which is how I am reporting this.
I’ve been trying to write down my thoughts and timeline on the storm. If I finish and get to editing it, I’ll try to share. In the event I don’t get around to that, I would be remiss not to mention the one thing that left the biggest impression on me in the aftermath of the storm – COMMUNITY. I am specifically referring to those of us who stayed and rode out the storm together. The spirit of helpfulness and caring that I felt and gave on that Saturday afternoon (before the evacuees started to come back) is something I’ve never experienced before. I wish I could capture with words how amazing it felt. We knew it was short-lived, but it was such a wonderful feeling while it lasted. I think there will now be a bond between us and the neighbors who stayed for as long we all live there. Sorry for the cheeziness of this, but as I said, I’m having a little trouble articulating the feeling.
Thanks again to everyone who checked in on us and sent us well wishes. I’m going to believe all the positive karma you sent our way is what helped knock this storm down to a Cat. 2 and got us through.
Thanks to everyone who has reached out to us over the last two days. Hurricane Matthew is just about to really start blowing in here to Savannah, so I thought I would take a quick chance to update you all. First, as you can probably guess, we stayed. Yes, our entire county is under an evacuation order. As we’ve come to learn, such designations are sometimes more political than for public safety – really, a subject for another day.
It’s been raining steadily since about 4p, and a bit gusty. The worst of it is expected to hit in about an hour or so. Originally we had expected 70+mph for about 4-6 hours, but now it’s more like 40+mph for nearly 12. We’ve been up since pretty early securing the house and supplies, so a quick nap, and then we’ll likely be up all night watching it play out.
As far as supplies goes, we’re nearly perfect. Only thing missing is a generator. In a very fortunate circumstance, Mike and I have been gearing up all summer to primitive camp via kayak this fall. The camping may be out for awhile while our islands and waterways adjust back to normal, but we have just about everything we need to live in our house without power and water for quite awhile. All good there.
As you can see, we still have power and internet. We’re also serving as the back up plan for my sister and brother-in-law², who live just a few blocks away but slightly lower ground and in a single story. We have two, plus the higher ground. Could be a tight squeeze if they do come though – 4 adults, 1 dog, and 9 cats. Yikes.
That’s about for now. I’ll try to keep you all posted as the night goes on, but no promises. Matthew is in charge, not me. Well, I want to go make the rounds again and check out the ever-increasing winds. Stay safe out there.
After last night’s first presidential election debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I think we all need a little Citizen Kang.
Probably the BEST Simpsons episode (really, an episode within an episode) ever. Twenty years on, I still find myself quoting the classic lines:
I am Clin-Ton. As overlord, all will kneel trembling before me and obey my brutal commands.
It makes no difference which one of us you vote for. Either way, your planet is doomed. DOOMED!
These candidates make me wanna vomit in terror!
Kang: Fooling these Earth voters is easier than expected.
Kodos: Yes. All they want to hear are bland pleasantries embellished by an occasional saxophone solo or infant kiss.
Oh, no, am I still here? I don’t wanna serve out my term naked in a tube…
Kang: The politics of failure have failed. We need to make them work again. Tomorrow, when you are sealed in the voting cubicle, vote for me, Senator Ka… Bob Dole. [applause]
Kodos: I am looking forward to an orderly election tomorrow, which will eliminate the need for a violent blood bath.
Kodos: It’s true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It’s a two-party system; you have to vote for one of us.
Man1: He’s right, this is a two-party system.
Man2: Well, I believe I’ll vote for a third-party candidate.
Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away!
I visited the Jepson Museum today to see Mystical Arts of Tibet by the Tibetan Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery. It was incredible to see it being made, grain by grain. Most of the monks were out to lunch, so we got to see it from a few angles. It will be gone Sunday, so visit if you can.
Not being one to shy away from a self-embarrassing story if I think I can get a laugh out of it, I have one I think you’re going to like.
Some background in case you’ve never actually met me – I am a small-sized human. Barely 5 feet tall, and a bit over 100lbs (some days more than others). I wear a children’s size 3 shoe and nearly all of my clothes are petite-sized or childrens. I have been called more “short” names than I can probably remember – midget, shorty, munchkin, elf, shrimp…you get the idea. Having dealt with this for nearly 40 years, I just roll with it. No reason to get mad over something I can’t change. Really, I sort of wear those names with a badge of (small) honor. It’s who I am.
So back to the embarrassing hilarity. Yesterday, Mike and I took our kayaks out for the first time on moving water – the Skidaway River. The weather was perfect and the tides appeared to in our favor. We made it to Burntpot or Burnpot (I’ve seen both on the maps) Island and hiked around a bit and had lunch. It was really quite lovely.
On the paddle back, we hugged the west side of the river to avoid the wake of motor boats, but still trying to stay deep enough so that our paddles weren’t hitting mud. About 2/3 of the way back, all hell breaks loose. I was innocently paddling and this wild, rogue Georgia shrimp jumped into my kayak with me – and I completely lost my mind.
The miscreant shrimp landed right between my legs. When I looked down to see what had jumped in my boat, all I see are two long antennae sticking out wiggling at me. I totally flip my shit and instead of simply tossing the shrimp out and carry on – I jumped completely out of my kayak. So now there I was swimming after my paddle and then back to my kayak where Mike had already grabbed it. I waded up to my kayak, because as it turns out, I was only in about two feet of water (with about a foot of mud under that). I look in my kayak and see that it is a teeny-tiny shrimp, not even big enough for eating. I toss him back into the water, and with the assistance of Mike, hop back into my kayak.
Mike said he overheard some folks on a motorboat that was passing as this happened say, “Did she just fall out of her boat?” “No, folks! That was intentional – I jumped out! I was being attacked by a shrimp!” I was laughing so hard after this that it was hard to paddle. It was just so ridiculously funny – the human shrimp freaking out over a real shrimp.
I am a little annoyed with myself because I really should be able to react to situations like that much more calmly. I don’t know what caused me to panic, but that is not cool. Gotta work on on that. Further, I am not bothered by shrimp- at all. I have no problems popping their heads off when I want to eat them, and while I’ve not used them for bait, if I had to, I’d have no problem popping them on the hook. Jump in my kayak and it’s a different story apparently.
While I had thought about blaming the shrimp and saying he extorted me out of the kayak (the Ryan Lochte defense), I figured it was much funnier if I just told the truth. I am an idiot sometimes, but I guess I learned something out of all this, so now not only do I have a hilarious story, I also hope I know how to react should something like ever happen again.
Watch out for them wild Georgia shrimp! They’ll get ya.
Amazing how closely it fits with today’s Progressives. Just replace the Old Guard dude’s head with Hillary’s and it’s suddenly modern. In 1916, however, the Progressives being referred to were Republicans. The more things change, the more they stay the same, right?