Grateful II

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I hope everyone had a good Xmas! Since I didn't go away this year, I spent the week cleaning, decorating, and entertaining. Since one of my New Year's resolutions is going to be staying on top of keeping the house clean and orderly, I've got a jump on it, to say the least. We'll see if I can maintain the resolution. I'm a pack rat by nature and keep a blind eye to chaos with the best of them.

As 2008 closes out, I want to express how grateful I am for the foundation my mother gave me. First and foremost, she gave me my love of books. From her my first passion were the gothics: Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt and our very favorite Jane Aiken Hodges. We would vie for who would be first to read the latest releases. I was the fastest reader, but Mom was home during the day. If the book came in on the weekend, I normally got dibs; but if a weekday, she got to read it first.

However, she also gave me my second passion: sports. Mom's brothers played football in high school, and to the day she died, she was a rabid football fanatic. While football remains the sport I know the most about and can understand the verbage better, I love nearly every sport. For a brief time in high school, I competed on a swim team. Then in college, I considered being a sports reporter. For one of the campus newspapers, I wrote a few human interest pieces, including an interview with a professional wrestler and his mother.

I didn't travel down that career path, but I have taken in a ton of sporting events, from car races to tennis matches to soccer to football. I absolutely love the Olympics. I remember when the Olympics were on TV all day long...when you could watch the athletes ranked last have their moment in the spotlight. I have to admit, though, to getting saturated after 17 days of watching the China extravaganza. However, I've recovered and can hardly wait for 2010 Vancouver.

So for 2009 I figured I'll 'dive' more into sports. :) Carol


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

At this time of the year we reflect on the things we're grateful for. With both my parents gone, I know that I particularly miss them at Xmas. They gave me such a solid foundation, and I hope they knew how much I appreciated all they did.

But sometimes you recognize things after the fact. I'll start with Dad in this post. Over the past year and a half I have discussed my trials and tribulations over the family room makeover. Yet iIdid it. Totally redid the room from ceiling to floor. I got that from Dad. Growing up, I would spend hours hanging around him [and probably being a total nuisance], watching him as he painted, repaired, built items for the house. For years we would watch 'This Old House' and Bob Villa. Although now I watch endless shows on HGTV, that interest and ability come from Dad.

I've also posted hundreds of photographs; photography is my passion. Little did I realize it was also Dad's. My father kept all his cameras, and he took loads of photos during WWII, his high school, and of our family. Consequently, I have a legacy of family albums to watch over and on occasion, look at.

So I'm grateful for Dad's influence on me as to being 'Ms. Tool Time' and a photographer.

:) Carol

Guilty Conscience: the Dolphins

Monday, December 15, 2008

I need to fess up to a guilty conscience. When the Dolphins traded Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor, I was prepared to give the team up.

But when you're a're a fan. I became a fan when I was still living in Ohio; I liked a Don Schula-style of football. After he retired, though, the magic was gone, and the Dolphins couldn't settle down with one coach long enough to have a style, particularly over the last few years. With my fav players gone, I had nothing to cheer for.

Or so I thought.

I couldn't quite cut the ties. Initially, I caught a few minutes here and another few minutes there of a game. Then the Dolphins acquired Chad Pennington. I increased my viewing time. When they started playing half-way decent [I don't care if a team wins/loses, I only care tha they play a good game and try to win], I watched even more. Now I'm back to my old pattern of having the game on as I work or take my favorie Sunday afternoon nap [love snoozing to football games ]. The upshot was I never did find that other 'team' to watch.

I'll still switch channels/moot the volume whenever they show Bill Parsells. Never have liked him, never will. But a Dolphins fan I remain. :) Carol

I'm back!

Wow, I hadn't realized how long it's been since I've posted. My how time flies!

With the holidays, the job crunch...there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. I'm still enjoying my room makeover. Since I'm not traveling this Xmas, I not only have decorated the outside but also the inside. My family tradition is strong so I got a live tree and it's up. Now I'm busy cleaning up and organizing as I'm having a series of friends over. [Maddie just loves to have visitors!].

With the light-year advances in web technology, I do check out websites now and then, not limiting myself to other authors' sites. This one by Nascar driver Carl Edwards really caught my eye the other day. That image of him greeting visitors is something else. Knowing how competitive drivers are, I'm going to tour other drivers' websites to check them out. :) Carol


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Maddie here.

Carol's so exhausted but stoked by her finally completing the family room makeover that she forgot about my Halloween outfit. Of all things, she went out with friends to dinner on Friday night and didn't get back for trick-or-treat. She had gotten me a special dress from my groomer for the occasion as she knows how much I love answering the door and being petted by all the kids, and I didn't get to wear it.

What a bummer. However, she did point out that it poured on and off all that night. But she came through like a trooper and let me wear my Halloween outfit on Saturday. Everyone who came over to see her room makeover all ooo'd and ahhh'd over me.

Now if I can only convince her not to take all the candy into work... Maddie

Room makeover finis!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I'm so proud of myself. When I began the family room makeover, I had no idea of what I was getting into and at points thought I had taken on more than I could chew [when I spent weeks scraping off rubber gook from the cement floor!]. The walls were a dull gray-brown fake wood paneling, the floor black outdoor carpeting, the windows had black blinds and the cabinetry was a dull red.

From ceiling to flooring to cabinetry, I made it all over. Yesterday they delivered my leather loverseat and the room is finally done. Even though it's a nice day outside, I'm sitting here, just looking at how the room glows in the light. Life is good. :) Carol

Before pic

After Photos:

Jennifer Hudson's family

Monday, October 27, 2008

When I learned that Jennifer Hudson's nephew was missing in the wake of her mother's and brother's deaths, I prayed like everyone else for his safe return. Such horrible news out of Chicago.

My thoughts and prayers are with Jennifer and her family. -->->->@ Carol

DWTS/Hollywood Chihuahua

Monday, September 29, 2008

I know either Kim or Cloris must go this week on Dancing with the Stars, but I hope when I'm 82 that I can have as much fun and be able to move like Cloris. She's an inspiration, especially after I watch that sad segment on the Emmys that featured cast members from Laugh-In [age has not been kind to their once exquisite timing].

Looking ahead, I can't wait for this weekend. Every since six months ago I saw a preview of Hollywood Chihuahua, I have been in countdown for the movie, and finally it's here. Forget the humans in the cast; give me just the dogs. :) Carol

A disgraceful parent

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I had heard/read about the urban legend of parents using police as the phantom bad guy, but never had I witnessed it. Today I stopped in Target on the way home from a mediation. As I was checking out, a little boy was crying at the top of his lungs, basically having a tantrum.

Instead of dealing with the situation, the mother told him to stop crying or she would call the police man to take him away. Both my cashier and I stared at each other, dumbfounded. This stupid mother was making the police into the bogeyman.

Shame on her. If the child is ever in real danger, he won't turn to the police for help. He'll be too scared. It might be more prudent if she faced her own inadequacies as a parent. Sigh, Carol


Monday, September 22, 2008

While the show 'Recount' may have received a few Emmy's last night, you ain't seen nothing yet if you haven't heard about Palm Beach County's latest ballot fiasco.

One of the races in the recent election involved someone challenging a circuit judge. Very close race. First it was discovered that ballots were missing from a precinct. Then it was rumored the ballots may have been thrown out in the trash. But oh no, those missing ballots were at the Supervisor of Election's office after all.

Then hand count didn't match the machine fact there was an excess of ballots. Weeks and several recounts later with a few lawsuits thrown in for good measure, the officials still can't get the counts to match up. All over a circuit judge race.

And the national race is coming up. Hey, maybe some of those actors will get to play the same people again in Recount II, the movie.

:) Carol


I know. I haven't been posting. First in South Florida we held our breath on the initial track of Ike. Then some punks broke into my house and stole my mother's jewelry, which really hacked me off. The jewelry was costume with no monetary value whatsoever. Its sole worth was sentimental. But the cretins didn't hurt Maddie, so for that I'm grateful.

With the family room makeover finally done, I've been putting pedal to the metal to get the house back into shape and cleaning out all the plants from in front of the house.

However, I am sooooo happy that Dancing With the Stars is back. I treated myself to simply sitting still without doing any projects and indulge in watching the show. Too early for me to have a fav, but I look forward to the dancers getting better. :) Carol


Friday, September 12, 2008

My thoughts and prayers are with Texas tonight as Ike comes ashore. Carol

Taking a break

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

As a meteorologist said last night, it's like a railroad track was laid between Africa, and the US and tropical storms are barreling along the tracks. Since my office may be closed if we get tropical force winds, I need to get ahead of the day job work plus hurridly batten down the hatches if Hanna swerves closer to the coast.

So I'll pick up with the San Francisco photos once things quiet down weather-wise. :) Carol

New Orleans

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My prayers and thoughts are with the valiant people of New Orleans. They have fought so hard to make a comeback after Katrina. May Gustav lose all its power and move so fast once it makes landfall so it doesn't drop a lot of rain. Carol

Memo to the Tropics

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stop it already. Give us a break. We don't need a repeat of the 2004 hurricane season.

Sigh, Carol


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I have my fingers crossed that Gustav doesn't reform like all the weather forecasters are predicting. Heather Graham's annual conference is occurring over the Labor Day weekend in New Orleans. She began the conference to help bring business back to a city she so loves, and this year my writing chapter Florida Romance Writers is sponsoring one of the events.

Although I'm not going this year because of my extended vacation to San Fran, many of my chapter mates are going to support the cause. May Gustav die off and everyone has a fabulous conference!


Breakfast at Sausalito

On the way to San Fran, my friend and I stopped in Sausilito. We'd remember how beautiful the town was on our prior trip, and we weren't disappointed. Although it was chilly and foggy over the bay, we walked along the water before finding a bar/restaurant with a nautical theme to have a yummy breakfast. Amazing how the houses cling to the hillsides. They look like they could slide right into the water. And I shiver to think about walking up the hills everyday. But lovely town. :) Carol

Russian River Valley

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

After Benziger, my friend and I headed north into the Russian River Valley, off the tourist beaten path. After driving around the valley a bit, we headed into Healdsburg where we checked out the family-run Seghesio tasting room. I really liked one of their Zinfandels that had a note of pepper. Then we explored the main square with not only gorgeous redwood trees but also had oodles of shops.

Finally, as we headed back through Sonoma Valley, we ate dinner at the Glen Ellen Inn Restaurant; the food and atmosphere was fabulous!!!! A perfect way to end our stay in the wine country for the next day we were bound for San Francisco. :) Carol

The Olympics

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm a fairly avid Olympics fan. I've been watching the games since I was a little girl. I remember when all events were real tape delay...and all events were shown. That meant every competitor had their moment; after all, each athlete has spent years of training. I don't care if an athlete is ranked last and doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell; I've always thought s/he should be seen.

Nowadays, you have to be a sleuth to find a particular event on what station at what time. Somehow this time I managed to miss the horse events, which I normally love to watch, but I did catch some of the fencing.

And I could have done without the almost footfall by footfall coverage of the men's marathon the last night. I finally zoned out and switched over to a movie.

All in all, it was a great Olympics. I spent months waiting in anticipation, and the spectacle was worth it. I was so proud of the US athletes. So many gave so much.

But I'm glad the Olympics are over for I can get some sleep now. :) Carol

Benziger Vineyards: They had me at the port wine

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

For me, the deluxe tour at Benziger was the eye-opener in terms of wines. The guide takes you out into the vineyard and gives a detailed explanation of what vines are planted where. For example, one side of the hill may get Chardonney vines whereas the opposite side is planted with the Pinot Noir grapes. He covered the impact of the extinct volcanon [3rd photo below] has on the soil. Benizger has converted totally to bio-organic farming and has created its own 'biosphere' from plants to pests to critters that kill pests to recycled water.

Once the outdoor guide finishes, he hands you off to another guide inside the cellars who explains about the wood comprising the barrels and then leads you into a room for a wine-tasting. It was at this point that I realized I preferred red wines with the note of pepper. And when I tasted a port and bit into dark chocolate, which then turned the port into tasting like coconut, I was hooked. My friend and I split a wine club membership as not only Benziger is still a family owned corporation, but also because of the organic focus. I look forward to tasting many more wines from this vineyard.
:) Carol

Town of Sonoma

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm all hunkered down for Tropical Storm Fay. Another hurricane-tropical storm factoid: just because you're not in the center doesn't mean you don't get wind and rain. Fay's feeder bands are flowing far out to the east so they're sweeping along the east side of Florida even as the center heads up the west side.

Since I had shuttered up the back side of the house when I went to San Fran [in case a storm developed while I was gone], all I had to do today when I got home was throw the shutters across 4 windows. Yesterday I hauled out the generator for a test run and bought a second day's worth of gasoline. Although the power company supposedly has done a lot to strengthen the infrastructure since Hurricane Wilma, they have not been in my it may not take much more than a puff for us to lose power.

The tricky part will be timing the storm bands to take Maddie out.

Now on to better times. My friend and I spent a day going up the Sonoma Valley into Russian River Valley. We first stopped for breakfast in a bakery shop on the main square of the town of Sonoma. First shot is simply down one of the streets. Imagine having that view. At the theatre they were having summer camp for kids, which was a great idea. Also on the square is the last built Franciscan monastery and then an old soliders' barracks. I wish we could have more time to wander around the town, but we had to head up to Glen Ellen and Benziger's Vineyards.
:) Carol


Thursday, August 14, 2008

If my memory serves me right, the Rubicon Vineyard used to be Inglenook. For a peirod of time, Francis Coppola owned it. My friend told me there used to be quite a display of movie memorabilia; there's still some but more limited. The 'magic lantern' collection is fascinating.

The guest register on display had some famous names. Note Clark Gable and Jean Harlow's signatures; Jean had a good sense of humor, noting herself as 'platinum blonde'.

Rubicon was one of the more expensive wine tastings; we arrived toward the closing time so we went through the displays before heading down to the wine tasting. :) Carol


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Okay, since I'm suffering through another night of staying up past 1 a.m. to watch the Olympics, I have to wonder at "women's" gymnastics. I'm very proud of USA getting a silver. I know they wanted the gold, but given the injuries, I think they did well. But "women's"....

Only Germany had a 'woman' on their team. I think the Olympics should call a spade a spade and rename it "Girls' Olympics". One look at the host country's team...

:) Carol

Napa Valley-Beringer Vineyards

After we left Sterling Vineyards, Diane and I drove along the main artery of Napa Valley. Initially, we were going to see the advertised 'Old Faithful Geyser', but we took one look at the entrance and left. While the geyser itself may have good, threading our way through all the tacky tourist stuff just didn't seem worth the time; hence the photo of the sign. As it turned out, we later got caught in a major traffic jam and had to change our dinner reservations. We stopped at the Freemark Abby Cellars that served yummy barbecue and we sat outside on a gorgeous day. Among the breath-taking vistas, there are quirky notes, such as the smog station.

Next vineyard stop was Beringer's. The old mansion was covered with scaffolding; they're retro-fitting it for earthquakes so no inside tour was possible. However the facility had an outdoor terrace where you could sit, listen to lovely music and taste wine as you look out over the stunning scenery. Sweet.

Next post will cover Rubicon, Francis Coppola's former winery. :) Carol

Sterling Vineyards

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First, a big shout out to the US Men's Gymnastic guys rocked in the team competition!!!!!!!!! They showed tremendous resolve under difficult circumstances. We're all proud of you.

Now...following the balloon ride, my friend and I headed to the Sterling Vineyards. What a vision as you wind along the road: a Greek-style white stucco building against the green trees and deep blue sky. However, to get to their facility, you have to ride a tram up the hill/mountain side. Absolutely stunning vistas! The tour is self-guided with videos running in strategic places to explain the wine making process. Then there's one wine tasting on a patio looking out the south side of the valley [please note the artsy photo of wine glasses on the table] and then a final wine tasting on another patio facing the north. For romance enthusiasts, the last shot is of Danielle Steele's Napa Valley retreat, according to the staff member who served us.

At Sterling I discovered a white wine new to me: Vignonier wine. Lovely! :) Carol