Thursday, September 22, 2022

And Just Like That It's Autumn!

 The calendar says today is the Autumn Equinox.  I love Autumn days as we turn off the air conditioning for the last time.  Our HVAC maintenance fellow came by on Monday to make sure our heat will work when it's needed.  Well, heat is not needed yet in Virginia even though it's officially Autumn.  A small rain storm just left our area and did bring cooler temperatures.  The rain was such a welcome event, though not much in the rain gauge.  My poor gardens are so dry!  I hold off with supplemental watering of beds, saving the water only for pots. 

The yellow Autumn crocus (Sternbergia Lutea) don't seem to mind the lack of rain.  My dear departed neighbor gave me a few corms many years ago.  They have multiplied and I spread them in needed areas as I clean out my beds.  They are such a welcome sight letting me know that Autumn is approaching.


Grayden and I were able to squeeze in another trip to the beach at the beginning of the month.  As you all know, it's my happy place!


We've been working our way back to our longer walks and the beach is the perfect spot for that. 


Unfortunately while we were there we learned of the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.  Though we knew she wouldn't live forever, we certainly were shocked.  It's still hard to believe.  


Sunrises at the beach always thrill me!  How amazing to watch the sun rise over the ocean.


Sunsets took our breath away as well.



Our youngest grand turned 18 recently!  Wow, we're getting old!  Miles wanted a pullup bar for his birthday so we decided to gift him one.  I've never been able to do a pullup in my life, so I was impressed!


We enjoyed a nice visit with our family.  Our grands are so grownup now.  Time really is flying!



As summer struggles to give way to autumn, I wish you many moments to treasure.

" Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go." Unknown




 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Costa Rica from My Balcony

 In my last post I shared that I tested positive for Covid while onboard the Queen Elizabeth voyage.  During my 10 day isolation I filled my days with many things.  The first thing I had to come to grips with was not being with Grayden.  I was so thankful that we could chat whenever we wished using the internal phone in each of our staterooms. 



Every day at home Grayden and I enjoy little moments when we connect with each other.  We always observe Elevenses and Afternoon Tea.  It's usually nothing fancy, just a cup of tea for me and coffee for Grayden.  We usually have a square of dark chocolate for Elevenses and maybe some strawberries for Afternoon Tea along with our drinks.  So Grayden decided we would still keep up this tradition, though we were separated.  At 11am each morning he called me and we would talk and enjoy Elevenses.  Grayden had chocolate from the daily turndown each evening.  I would save some cheese from breakfast.  We toasted each other and kept our tradition and our sanity!  The same thing was practiced for Afternoon Tea.  Though we couldn't go to the Queen's Room, we did talk at 3pm and shared some nuts or cheese left from our lunch tray.


 

The two photos above were taken when we could go to Afternoon Tea in the Queen's Room.  It's a wonderful afternoon indulgence!

Grayden had the Librarian call me and had books sent to me.  I had bought a book already that I quickly finished while in isolation.  There is a quite extensive library on Cunard ships.  It was so nice to name favorite authors and have them sent to me.  Grayden also sent the camera to me as he thought I would enjoy photographing from my balcony.  He was right!  

As the Queen Elizabeth approached Costa Rica is was nice to be able to at least photograph the island before me.

The Pilot Boat with the Harbor Pilot came to let him off to guide the Queen Elizabeth into the port of Puntarenas (Sand Point).


  

As you can see it's a lovely, beautiful, sunny day.  We have been to Costa Rica before.  It's a lovely place to visit if you get the chance.  This time we will enjoy seeing it from afar as we had to cancel our onshore excursion.


Costa Rica (rich coast) has a wide variety of plants and animals.  Being tropical you can imagine such diversity.  Costa Rica is known for their coffee production in the highland areas.  Puntarenas was not developed as a port until 1840 when coffee production reached exportable volumes.  Oxcarts were originally used to bring the coffee to the port and then railways were constructed as a more efficient means of transporting goods. 


In the afternoon, I enjoyed my view and the glorious sunshine as I sat on the balcony and read.


It was also a good time to do my nails and look for sea life and birds.
As the afternoon wore on I could see a storm brewing to the east.


The sky began to darken quickly, but never reached the ship with its rain.  It did afford some lovely skies, though.



Don't you love seeing the golden hour after a storm?  


I certainly did that first day of isolation!  


It's important to me to record this time as difficult as it was.  I am not a very social person and one would think this would be an easy time, but alas that was far from the truth!  Thank you for coming on this journey with us.  Next up we will be visiting Manzanillo, Mexico, if you'd like to see my views from my balcony. 












  


Monday, August 15, 2022

Continuing Our Recent Voyage

 As most of you know, we recently went on a thirty day voyage.  I have been recording about it on this blog.  If you wish to catch up, it all resides under the travel tab above.

After enjoying our transit through the Panama Canal, the Queen Elizabeth traveled along the coastline of Central America.  

Grayden and I both knew the dangers of traveling by ship during this pandemic.  There are strict regulations on Cunard regarding ship travel that made us feel better.  As I've said before we both have had our vaccinations and two boosters.  Two days before the voyage each passenger has to test negative in order to continue with travel plans.  Also every four days each passenger is retested.  Our first test onboard we both tested negative.  


Onboard everyone was required to wear a mask.  While taking photos, if no one was around, we took our masks off.  We didn't ride in an elevator with others as well.  The only time we took our masks off was outside the ship and in the dining room.



The Queen Elizabeth is so lovely inside!  She truly lives up to her name.


The ship is full of beautiful memories here and there about the corridors.


Queen Elizabeth christened the ship in Southampton, England in 2010.  She has long been associated with Cunard ships.  She launched the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1967 and the Queen Mary 2 in 2004.


I will share more about Her Majesty and the Queen Elizabeth as our days progress on the ship.

On our next day onboard we were all required to go have another antigen test.  On May 22nd ( our oldest grand's birthday), Grayden and I went into the Queen's Room to get tested.  We had already been to the Britainnia for breakfast and walked around the promenade 3 times. We went back to our stateroom to prepare for the rest of the day and we get the dreaded phone call!  Yes, I tested positive for Covid and now must be in isolation for 6 days!  In my journal I wrote that after a few tears and much sadness, I had to be escourted to my new isolation stateroom.  I will admit I was far from being happy, but knew I had to leave my sweetheart and go into isolation!  I packed a few things for my stay and was escourted to my new home.  Grayden and I were devastated.  At this point I really didn't feel poorly except for a cold.  Funny thing is, Grayden had just gotten over a cold and I thought that is what was happening to me, not Covid.

Thank goodness I was put in a stateroom just like the one I left and still had a balcony.  Though I was very sad, I had no choice but to comply with the rules onboard!  

Grayden was considered a close contact and needed to be tested every day!  He had to have his meals in the stateroom and was not allowed anywhere on the ship where folks gathered without masks.  Needless to say this was not what either of us wanted.  On day six I would be tested again and then if negative I could return to our stateroom.  Sadly on the sixth day I was still positive and had to spend a total of ten days in isolation.

Grayden always was negative, thank goodness!  I'll be sharing my photos from this ten day isolation period. 


 

As sad as this turn of events was, we made the most of it! 


"Life is not always not always what one wants it to be., but to make the best of it as it is the only way of being happy." ~ Lady Randolph Churchill





Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Summer

When I was a child I loved summer!  Endless carefree days walking barefoot walking on the clover lawn full of honey bees.  Whenever I stepped on one I would pull out the stinger and go on my way.  Bike rides with my friends and siblings filled our days.  The key to our roller skates was always nearby to grab and skate the sidewalks that surrounded our neighborhood.


Our male cardinal is wondering why I don't like summer anymore.  I've wondered the same!  Looking outside where the heat and humidity is soaring keeps this gal inside instead of where I wish I could be.  Early morning walks give me a chance to be outdoors for a little while and are enjoyed.


Just like the days of when I was young, I love going to the beach.  Our family beach week bought us all together recently.  Sitting under an umbrella in a beach chair is one of my greatest joys!  Being with our loved ones reminds me of how truly blessed we are.  Spending these days together, laughing, beach walking, and sharing meals make it all worth our efforts to be together.  Our grands are now practically grown.  Our youngest is a senior in high school this year, our middle a sophomore in college and our oldest grand lives with us as he finishes his education.  My goodness how can time be passing so quickly.  


It reminds me of the life of a butterfly!  


I don't wish to not enjoy one day of this precious life.  


As our daughter and son-in-law left the beach early on our last day, I was treated to a sight that thrilled me!  It's really not hard to find joy as it is all around me!


 

 

Monday, July 25, 2022

So Thankful!

 Grayden has always been healthy.  We both try to walk daily and eat healthy.  Of course there are no guarantees in life.


On Easter Sunday our son and our grandsons came to visit.  After dinner we all went outside and enjoyed the lovely weather.  Grayden and the grands started throwing the football.  Not playing football mind you, just passing it back and forth.  Grayden took a step to catch a pass and twisted his left knee.

After suffering several days with swelling and pain we visited the orthopedic doctor.  His x-ray showed no fractures.  The doctor gave him a cortizone injection and he felt much better soon.  We resumed our normal activities including walking each morning.  Then we had our big trip scheduled and off we went.  

When we returned home we had to play catch up in the yard.  He and I moved compost and placed it all around the beds.  We then noticed our neighbor's shrubs down in another compost pile so we both stood on the uneven surface and began pruning.  The uneven surface was not kind to Grayden's knee, so off we went to the doctor again.  He gave him another injection.

A week later his whole knee down to his toes began to swell.  We both became very concerned and visited our primary doctor's office.  She immediately sent us to get an ultra sound of his knee and a chest x-ray.

The tests showed blood clots in his leg and lungs!  They sent us to the ER and Grayden was admitted to the hospital.  There were many angels watching over him during these past few days.  I am so thankful he is back home now and with medication will continue to improve.  

We are both thankful for God's grace during this health scare.  There are many doctors and wonderful nurses we owe a debt of gratitude for the wonderful quick treatment he received.  My sweetheart is now doing better and we both look at life a little different now....



  

  

Monday, July 18, 2022

Our Transit Through the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal was named one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1994.  It is indeed a wonder to experience!  Grayden and I enjoyed the full transit of the Queen Elizabeth on our recent voyage.



Approaching the Atlantic Bridge we excitedly prepared to journey the marine shortcut that saves distance and time and costs to goods that are shipped around the world.  We will travel the route that connects the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans at the narrowest point of the Isthmus of Panama and the Americas!

The first effort to build a route through Panama was first began by the French in 1880.  Disease and financial issues forced them to give up their initiative.  When Panama consolidated its independence in 1903, they agreed to let the United States begin constrution on a canal.  The USA took full charge of the canal until 1999 when Panama assumed full operation of the canal.  The waterway is managed by the Panama Canal Authority as an autonomous government entity.


The canal operates through a series of locks, each with two lanes, which serve as water lifts that raise vessels to the level of the Gatun Lake that is 88 1/2 feet above sea level.  This allows the ship to cross the Central Mountain Range, and then lower it to sea level on the other side of the Isthmus!  Amazing!


Everyone is excited to view the sights that are before us.

The water that is used to raise and lower the vessels in each set of locks comes from the Gatun Lake.  Gravity pours the water through the locks from culverts.


The tracks you see on the sides of the canal are for the locomotives that pull the ships through the locks.  It's a fascinating process to observe!


Men in a boat attach a guide wire to the ship on each side and then the locomotives muscle their way to the opening of each lock.



After going through the Gatun locks we see Gatun Lake ahead.


The process of transiting the Panama Canal is an all day process as there are about 50 miles to cover along with the three sets of locks.  It's a lovely journey as we sail along the peaceful waters.


  


Sailing along we looked out for sea life.  We were told there are crocodiles that inhabit the area.  


We didn't see them on this transit.  I don't think we'll be swimming here!  Though there was a man that did transit the Panama Canal swimming!  Richard Halliburton paid 36 cents to swim the canal in 1928.  Ships pay a premium to transit the canal based on weight and number of passengers.


Soon we are approaching the San Miguel Locks.


As technical as the locks and this system appears, they are still using men in a row boat to connect the guide wires to the ship!


Sometimes the old ways are the best ways!



The last set of locks are the Miraflores Locks.  There is a grand stand viewing area to watch the workings of the canal if you are visiting Panama.


There were many folks viewing the Queen Elizabeth as she transited these locks.  It appeared to be school groups enjoying watching the lock system in action.  Engineering students would love learning and seeing this amazing process!


The Centennial Bridge is the second bridge that we view as we transit the canal. 


We were happy to see deer grazing in the grass along this area.


We are now entering the Pacific ocean as we pass under the Bridge of the Americas.


Grayden and I decide to go topside to view the Bridge of the Americas!  


Don't worry, our Captain is a pro!  




Goodness, here we go!


Looking back at The Bridge of the Americas we see the moon peeking through the clouds.  We enjoyed a lovely day traveling along these unique shores and marveling at the amazing Panama Canal.  It truly is a wonder of the modern world!


As we travel along the Pacific Panama City rises into view.


Thank you for coming along with us to the Panama Canal.  We will now be sailing along the Pacific toward Costa Rica.  I hope you will join me on our next adventure on our voyage.