mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 13th, 2006 12:23 pm)
I am always so amazed at the things tenants do. I used to rent out a house here in town, and got better prices by renting to students, so it didn't surprise me when a neighbor called to say that some football players were trying to steal the wood stove (big cast iron thing) or when another group was leaving and revealed that the kitchen sink had been stopped up for three months (I'd have sent the plumber if I'd known).

But now my sister and I have this house at the beach, and we're very careful about not renting to houseparties or to people who don't sound responsible. The house is not on the ocean, but across the creek from the beach--you have to drive to the beach--so mostly we get older couples and some families, who are great tenants. We haven't had a damage deposit because we rarely get damage.

the creek )

Now the housekeeper has called to tell us that the last group broke a ceiling fan--not just the blade, which could be replaced, but the bracket that holds the blade--just snapped it off. Keep trying to imagine what they could have been doing...I once pulled a fan off the ceiling by covering it with a drop-cloth while painting, but that's the only time I've damaged one. Maybe one of the renters is very tall and very hardheaded. These same people also broke a key, which isn't a real expense, but equally hard to figure. Maybe they do psychic tricks--really, really well.

Really bugs me that they left and didn't tell us about the fan, (which will need to be totally replaced, and matches another fan in the same room, so we'll have to replace both, probably). And that makes me think they won't pay up when we write them. Grr.
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 11th, 2005 11:46 pm)
Inertia has paid off (*maybe*).

I left the beach Thursday with Ophelia lurking down around Cape Canaveral, and clear possibilities of strengthening and drifting northwest. Right at me. Some of the five day and even three day cones seemed to have a picture of my house at the most intense point--and not only did I not batten down the hatches and nail up the plywood, I didn't even take in the bird feeders and wind chimes. But (crossing fingers, holding breath, saying prayers in all religions) I think we get another bye. I hope. I knew I should do it, but it takes a lot of time and work to get it all tied down, and then a lot more, for some renter probably, to untie it all again. Carrying heavy chairs and big tables around, etc. I used to even carry the kayak up a flight of stairs, but now that our fleet has reached five, there's no question of ever doing that.

My son says that unlike some members of our family, the true Eeyores, he and I are optimistic cynics: we think the worst will happen, but everything will be OK. I sure hope so this time. Ironically, I'm spending my days working with people who've come here after Katrina. You'd think I'd get a clue, huh.

But I've got that same mentality: the crazy logic that says, well, we haven't had a direct hit since 1955, so we won't get one now.

But when Hugo was coming, believe me, we got ready.
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Aug. 21st, 2005 11:02 pm)
Friday night I went with a group to an island off the SC coast that's uninhabited by humans (except two scientists) to help patrol the beach while the turtles were hatching. We mostly get loggerheads here, and I'd done some walks on other beaches just to check on nests, but this was the first time I'd seen the babies actually climb out of the sand and waddle off into the ocean. It is so amazing how they struggle to dig themselves out and climb over all the beach junk, heading straight for the water. They're only about two inches long, but it's all determination. The waves roll them up on the beach, but they head right back. They are wired to head for the brightness of the water at night when they hatch, but light pollution can confuse them, so patrollers also sometimes have to head them back in the right direction.

Once in the water, they swim for hours, even days, without stopping, clear out to the Sargasso Sea where they live for years until it's time to mate. ONly one of 10,000 eggs produces a mature turtle.

There is something incredibly fascinating about sea turtles. I've been hooked on them since the first time I saw a big one come up on the beach one night (many years ago) to lay her eggs--she was in such a trance, she didn't even know we were there until she finished, and then she lumbered off with such dignity, as if we still didn't matter at all.

Sadly, I came home to read that seven nests on Hilton Head had been poached, probably by humans (I understand raccoons and ghost crabs, but people!) And the shrimpers who don't want to use nets that keep the turtles out (they drown if they get tangled in the shrimp nets).

It was a little strange to me that I was the only person on the trip who wasn't a part of a couple--Bill is still in Chicago, and probably wouldn't have gone anyway. I somehow can't belileve that singles or other parts of couples aren't interested, but wonder why none went. I had a fine time--eveyone was very friendly, and most were very interesting, so much that I'd have enjoye the trip even if we hadn't seen a turtle. It was a fairly difficult trip--we couldn't wear insect repellent but had to go through the woods at night, so had to wear long pants and long sleeves in 98 degree twilight and still had hands and faces and toes royally chewed by the insects, who are in no danger of extinction.

I'll post some pictures if anyone emails me some--my camera was not cooperating.
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Jul. 11th, 2005 11:44 am)
So glad everyone in London is safe, and also glad that all who went to NY are back home safely and obviously enjoyed their time. Thanks for the wonderful posts and pictures.

This may be my post of the month, as I head up to Chicago (through the first of doubtless many hurricanes that will harass me this year)--although the new computer up there is faster, Bill still gets antsy when the phone lines are tied up for too long, and for me to even glance at my flist takes too long for him!

Summer seems to be here in full force. For most of last week, the ocean was a lovely jade green, clear enough in the shallow water to see your feet even when the waves were breaking at shoulder level. Waves muddied it by Saturday, but the days before were heavenly.

Played many many games last week, too, including bocce ball on a very uneven course (we consider our game to be Ultimate Bocce) and dominoes (I'd never played before, but my nephew's girlfriend brought a pretty white set with bright colored dots and taught us Mexican Train). Also a great little electronic Catchword, and something very similar to Cranium, the name of which I can't remember. With all that around, we never did the traditional midnight Scrabble with me falling asleep in mid-word.

And yesterday, to make the trash life complete, watched the entire first season of The 4400. Seemed a lot better than this season, but maybe that's because I watched it all at once and therefore actually had a clue. Before that, I'd spent most of this season saying "Is that guy a 4400 or not?" "Is Jordan a good guy or a bad guy?" and so on.

Also, last week, I discovered that using the power stroke in kayaking built up the right muscles (pecs and triceps) for yoga push-ups (Chaturanga Dandasana)--before, I'd been mostly pulling in order to work on back muscles, but using a push stroke instead finally got me to the point of being able to to the push-ups. Very exciting--I'd once before gotten to this point but lost it when I cut my toe a couple of years ago. But my ego is controlled by the fact that a backbend (Urdhva Dhanurasana) is still out of reach, and I haven't tried a headstand or armstand in a while. But also found oddly that a one-legged version of side plank (Vasisthasana) with the other leg bent as in Tree Pose is easier for me than the usual form, with one leg on top of the other.

Reading these days: mostly mysteries (Deborah Crombie, Michele Spring, Laura Joh Rowland--but waiting to get my hands on the new Laurie King) but also Umberto Eco (The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana) which so far is wonderful. I still like novels with weird illustrations, and these are wonderful--old comics, matchbooks, etc.

Finally, a very easy salsa made with fresh peaches (will cross-post to [livejournal.com profile] atpo_cooks):

Peel and chop 2-3 fresh, ripe peaches
Add 1 T (or less, depending on peaches)red wine vinegar and/or lime juice, to taste
Some may want sugar--if peaches are nice and ripe, you won't need it
1/4 tsp ground coriander (also to taste--might want to start with just a pinch)

Serve with grilled pork or salmon

Even if I'm not posting or commenting much--though who knows?--I'll be lurking around and sending good thoughts if nothing else. More sometime!
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jun. 11th, 2005 10:28 pm)
Summer, at last, at long last. I am so happy.

Sitting on the porch after dark in a tank top. Welcoming a breeze instead of shivering in it. Seeing the summer birds come back, the painted bunting and the hummingbirds.

Floating around lazy curves of the creek watching huge clouds drift the other way in a sky so blue I can't believe it.

And best of all swimming in the ocean. I don't do it until the water gets to about 80F, and the air maybe a few better than that. Even so, the first few times I inch in, with a line of cold around my body where the water's hitting for the first time, but my feet and legs already happy, telling the rest of me to come on in. The little water running over my ankles, the first splashes up to my knees. A breaker foaming around my waist. And finally a big green curve over my head--no more choice, dive in or jump high, but my head goes in. And then I can't make myself come out. I'm riding the waves in, I'm diving under, I'm floating over, and in between lying on the water that holds me like a friend I'm laughing with, laughing so hard I can't stand up.

And wading back through the warm marsh, showering under the trees, drying my hair in the breeze while I rock on the porch.

It seems that all the rest of the year I'm only partly living. This is real.
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mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 12th, 2005 12:08 pm)
Back from beach--sigh. Wish I could live there. Maybe someday.

This was the first week of summer--straight from the last week of winter. Spring is often short here, but this year was non-existent, in terms of temperature, at least. Last time I was there it was too cold and windy to kayak (even in my Christmas present Frog Togs--yes, wimps r us). This time it was warm enough to paddle without a teeshirt, and the water almost warm enough to swim (but that has to be very warm indeed for me). The bugs are out and biting, also getting bitten by many purple martins and unknown swifts or swallows, and the egrets are preening and posing in the trees. My sister's dog, an elderly Schnauzer, likes to ride in the boat with her husband, but their other dog is too big and sits sadly on the porch. My husband was there to keep her company this time, so she wasn't too sad.

We were early for the plane taking Bill back to Chicago (sigh, but I'll see him in a couple of weeks and hopefully Chicago will be warmer by then, too) so being in Myrtle Beach (something I do only for airplanes) we killed the time at Jurassic Miniature Golf, which has almost life-sized Triceratops made of plaster and a T Rex in a huge cage, moving its head and growling. And the water flowing through all sorts of little falls, etc., seems to have blue food coloring. Still it was fun to play for the first time in about forty years (but maybe not for another forty). However, Bill had played bocce ball with us at the beach and I owed him.

Karma was instant. On the way home I stopped to buy wine and there was a Scottish guy who is a distiller for single malt Scotch (Isle of Jura) giving samples and talking about his product (Superstition, pretty good 16-year old). I was pleased. I love very peaty, rich, complicated tastes, but generally don't want to spend the money to buy a whole bottle of Laphroaig at $60 or $70. New thought: tour of distilleries on Islay and Jura, if I ever get to that part of the world again. Hopefully Bill will drive or they'll have a bus. I've been lucky in Napa and Sonoma to have someone driving so I could taste--though I guess real tasters don't actually drink but spit it out. To me it seems some of the taste, at least in Scotch, happens in the throat--but it can work well with teeny-tiny tastes. Still, I wouldn't want to trying driving on the right after seven or eight distilleries.

Thanks again to many of you for all the very helpful suggestions about writing.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Mar. 11th, 2005 10:36 pm)
A very nice week at the beach, in most ways. The weather was sunny, crystal clear some days, and the water was green, transparent, like a picture of an ocean. I saw eagles swooping low over the water.

But not the best. My sister can suddenly morph into my mother when it comes to keeping up appearances and is hell bent on remodeling I could live without, but I really want to keep things harmonious and find myself doing things for her that I don't really want to do--but cutting back four huge pampas grasses was not one of them, so I paid the guy who does our lawn to do them. If you've ever done that little chore, you'll know that you wind up looking like you've been in a saber duel, with long slashes of grass cuts that turn red and ugly, burning and itching. I spend my bad time dealing with contractors and estimators, and that was itchy enough for one week.

My friend who came down to visit is getting through colon cancer chemo and surgery, and possible spread to her liver, and onset of chemo induced diabetes (and retirement and divorce, and a cat that died last month, and an only daughter who's moving across country). Amazingly, she's still gorgeous and funny and great company. I felt that I should somehow do more for her, and at the same time should let her be as strong as she can be. The only sad moment was when she talked about getting a little dog, but worried that she'd die and leave it alone. I told her that a dog from a shelter would still have a longer and better life with her than if she left it there, but it hurt to hear her say that.

We built a nice fire and watched movies: Vanity Fair and I Heart Huckabees. Reese was an okay Becky Sharpe, but I really loved the commentary on Huckabees.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 12th, 2004 03:07 pm)
Here are my answers to [livejournal.com profile] ann1962 's questions:

Answers! )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 4th, 2004 10:34 am)
Sorry I've been absent from so many interesting discussions--I went to the beach for a week, most of it alone without a computer. Also without a hurricane! I haven't spent that much time alone in a long time--even when Bill's not here, I'm seeing friends, etc., and spending lots of time writing or online. I rediscovered how wonderful is time on your own.

I can remember a time, right after my first marriage broke up, when I was terrified to spend the night alone--every sound seemed like an imminent attack (of course in those days I slept in a first floor bedroom on a busy street and several times woke to find concrete blocks stacked under my window. Now I sleep on the second floor of secure houses in quieter neighborhoods). And I'd grown up with so many ghost stories at the beach, for a long time even the alarm system didn't help (trusting all you fantasy readers/viewers will understand that).

Now the nights alone mean drifting to sleep with the sounds of crashing waves and whip-poor-wills, and waking to the misty sunrise and the chatter of blackbirds and cardinals. Days alone mean reading all morning, going for long slow kayak rides, wandering the beach, going to art galleries, painting windows, writing backstory for the bad guy, and sitting on the dock with a glass of scotch, watching the tide come in and the sun go down.

Maybe someday I'd get lonely. Not yet. But for some reason I made plans so here I am, back again, and glad to see Bill, chapter five, and all of you.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 7th, 2004 05:41 pm)
I got up very early this morning to go walk with a friend on the beach and check for turtle nests. The babies are very vulnerable, so the sea turtle organization guards the nests, even moves them sometimes, and checks them every day--volunteers take turns.

No hatchlings today. One nest is not yet ready, but the other is two weeks overdue. The eggs may have been under water too much, or have some disease--who knows?

I would love to see the babies crawling out and heading for the ocean. Many years ago I saw a mother who'd climbed up to lay her eggs, and I've seen a nest the day after hatching, but never the babies themselves.

Now I'm back in Columbia--miss the ocean, even the stormy windy rainy wild hurricane ocean (maybe especially that one). Someday I'll find a way to spend more time there.

ETA: While dodging trucks in the skirts of the storm on the way home, I was still so glad not to be in Florida, or even Atlanta (been there and done all that). I was thinking about the German word schadenfreude which I believe means "joy from someone else's bad fortune." What I was trying to imagine was a word that means "feeling guilty you got missed and someone else got hit." Don't know enough German to invent one. And then reading my LJ found that [livejournal.com profile] kijjohnson had come up with blizenfreude for people who spend 23 hours a day watching CNN or maybe the reporters, etc., who derive so much pleasure (and profit of course) from the hurricanes (would mean "storm joy" I think). Not quite my word but interesting that it came up.


I Ching: Retreat )
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Aug. 30th, 2004 10:41 am)
Gaston dumped on us yesterday and now Frances is taking aim. I haven't been to the beach since the 4th of July--tenants told us the house was OK except for some minor screen damage, but we are hopeful that we'll get a new roof--the old one's been there since Hugo. Family )

I watched Hidalgo last night--for Viggo and for the horses. Both beautiful, but more than a bit of cultural stereotyping in spite of Omar Sharif. I liked him a lot better in Monsieur Ibrahim, a truly charming but sad movie, with wonderful characters and great photography of Turkey or some look-alike.

I'm trying to decide whether to go to Hero now or wait for my husband to come back down here. I could do both! I think I'll see what happens about the beach--I'll wait unless I'm stuck here, in which case I'll go. But I'd better tell him so he doesn't go up there. He's also not big on fantasy so I didn't go to the most recent Harry Potter yet either--which has really taken restraint. So I can have a great escape this weekend if I don't get to the beach.


Modesty )
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 24th, 2004 10:36 pm)
Well, so far life without work is all I'd hoped it would be. Waking early to the birds in the branches outside my window and not rushing to get up to go anywhere. Kayaking to the next island and taking time to wander, without needing to get back and go somewhere. Lying in the hammock reading my favorite trash (Elizabeth Peters) and no thoughts of doing anything more than pouring another rum and tonic. Yeah!
.

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