Month: November 2011


Got a bit sidetracked this past week, getting used to being back in a house with lots of stuff.  Lou got the refrigerator repaired, and the garbage disposal replaced – so far nothing else has broken.

Yesterday we had our check-ups at the dermatologist.  I made the appointments for both of us so they gave us the same time (which I thought was a little weird, since we use the same doctor).  We got there, checked in, and were waiting.  Then the nice young lady comes out to call us in – as we’re going in, she said “Do you want to be in the same room?”  I immediately said, “NO.”  Lou laughed and had to wait for another room.  Just what I need – both Lou and the doctor lecturing me!

Today was a trip to the dentist for cleaning (there’s a lot of maintenance involved in this getting old stuff).  Lou made these appointments – again at the same time.  Fortunately, they know us well enough to know we do NOT want to be in the same room 🙂  There is, however, a conspiracy to ensure I actually show up for my appointments.  Happy to say everything went well, and I didn’t even cry this time!  (Note – I don’t usually cry, but I’ve been known to have some anxiety about dentist visits.  After getting on track with regular appointments, it’s not nearly as bad – and Addy does a great job. )

Will be posting up some more pics in the next few days … progress is being made on our current “Project.”

Oh yeah, I should mention that the weather has been pretty good – a bit of rain, and it’s humid today.  (This is just to make sure I cover all the main topics that occupy the life of the retired – health and weather!)


One Thing After Another

OK … so we are back at Cayman Place, just getting re-acquainted with where every thing is.  Yesterday was a fine day … first, the refrigerator stopped working.  We noticed after the icemaker dumped water all over the floor.  Then, the garbage disposal stopped/froze up. The refrigerator repair man came late this afternoon, but had to leave for parts. We assume he’ll come back tomorrow 🙂  What are the odds both appliances fail within 48 hours of our arrival?

Enough whining – here’s the update on the latest project that I was supposed to post yesterday.  We arrived home on Friday to find the following activity:

After 15+ years, it is time to redo the pool.  They promise to be done by Christmas … we’ll see.   Understandably, the neighbors are not pleased to see more construction here.

Adjusting to Florida

After meeting up with Kathy and Steve in Jacksonville Beach for a great dinner (Thanks!), we made it safely home early yesterday afternoon. Right away we had some adjustments to make … visitors in the backyard, it wasn’t freezing (!), and we had no food in the house. After unpacking and making a quick trip to the store, we just relaxed, and patiently applied updates to our desktop computers (what can I say, we lead a wild and crazy life).



One of the first things we noticed was the swamp out back … it’s all filled up again, which looks a lot better than the dried up mud flats we had when we left. And, on a closer look, right across from the back door … what’s that???



It looks like our friend Freddy was waiting for us to return. Fortunately, he stayed on his side of the water. It does make you look twice when you step out the back door.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the unveiling of the New Project …

Surrender at Appomattox

Tuesday was the big History Day, where we started at Monticello, and finished at Appomattox.  It was interesting to go from Thomas Jefferson and the era of the birth of the United States, to a century later when the Nation was almost split in two by the Civil War. (See previous post – 100 Years in One Day for the Monticello Story)

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is a work in progress.  Several of the town buildings have been restored and are open for public viewing – some are still being worked on.  You can walk all around the area, and try to imagine just how crowded it must have been with thousands of soldiers.  There was almost no one there when we visited, and we had lots of time to roam around, take photos, and think about what it might have been like in 1865.

For those of you who may not be Civil War buffs, or who may be rusty on your history – Appomattox is where Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9th, 1865.  Lee commanded only the Army of Virginia, but his surrender was followed by other Confederate Officers, and the Civil War was over by the summer of 1865.

source: Appomattox Nat’l Park website, Painting by K. Rook

Here’s a trivia question for you (one I didn’t know the answer to until this summer):  Did the actual signing of the Surrender Documents take place at

a) The Court House in Appomattox

b) McDonalds in Appomattox, or

c) None of the Above

source: Appomattox Nat’l Park website

If you answered “C,” you get the gold star.  Most people think Lee surrendered at the Court House, because the name of the town was Appomattox Court House (Court House was commonly added to a town’s name when it was the County Seat). Actually, the surrender took place in the home of Wilmer McLean.

source: Appomattox Nat’l Park website

The terms of surrender included the parole of the Confederate Soldiers, and Lee also asked that they be given some food, since many hadn’t eaten for days.  Grant gave orders for Parole passes,  arranged rations for the hungry soldiers, and allowed those with horses or mules to take them home for the spring planting.  Printing presses were set up in the Tavern, and were run around the clock for 2 days to print almost 30,000 passes for the Confederate Soldiers under Lee’s command.

As Lee left the house and rode away, Grant’s men began cheering in celebration, but Grant ordered an immediate stop. “I at once sent word, however, to have it stopped,” he said. “The Confederates were now our countrymen, and we did not want to exult over their downfall.”  (Source: Battle Cry of Freedom, by James M. McPherson )

That about ends the history lesson 🙂  We really enjoyed learning more about the Civil War time period this summer – not so much about the battles,  but the study of the behavior of the people.  Politicians in the 1860s were no different than their counterparts today.  Many, including a few of the Military leaders, suffered from the same self-serving egos we see in the “leaders” of today – others were just incompetent.   Such a large loss of life, and how hard would it be to march into battle, knowing the odds were great that you would end up a casualty? Add the complexity and morality of slavery – mind boggling stuff.

Here is a gallery with lots of photos from our afternoon at Appomattox Court House. Have included a fair number showing the reconstructed rooms in the McLean House, to give a view of what life was like for some of the wealthier class in the 1860’s.

100 Years in One Day

Today was a busy day – we covered over 100 years of American History in just 8 hours. We covered the 18th century in the morning, visiting Monticello to see all that Thomas Jefferson created. Then on to the 19th century at Appomattox to check out the surrender of the Confederates to the Union in the Civil War. We’ll add the photos from Appomattox tomorrow, and will just cover Monticello today. Oh yeah – our friend in the photo on the left is Rudy. The main greeter at “The Inn at Monticello,” the B&B we stayed at last night. Rudy spent an hour or so with us when we first arrived … thinking we were actually going to feed him something. Little did he know, we’ve survived the sad faces of world class beggar dogs, so no unauthorized treats from us.

This is the entrance to Monticello.  They drop you off from the shuttle bus, and you wait for a guide to take you in at your appointed time.  We signed up for the regular “House Tour,” and the “Behind the Scenes Tour.”  The House Tour allows access with a guide to the main floor, and the second tour took us up to the top two stories of the house in a smaller group. 

This is the only part of the inside of Monticello we were allowed to photograph.  This is the inside of the “Dome” room.  This room was built primarily to accentuate the appearance of the house from the outside.  It was used primarily for storage in Jefferson’s time.  The guy taking the photo with the pink iPhone lives in Connecticut with his wife (Kathy Griffin’s sister).  She is very worried about her son who is in Connecticut with no power due to the snow storm.  The other couple is from Hawaii, and they were in Virginia for their daughter’s outdoor wedding, but it was on Oct 29th, when the snow storm hit, so they had it indoors.  Amazing what you learn about people in a 45 minute tour!

This fish pond is one of the things Lou remembered from his previous visit to Monticello.  I am only slightly concerned that he recalls the fish pond, but has no recollection that I was with him on that visit.

This photograph is here only to show the red tree.  Since we’ve missed the peak showing of fall colors, every time we see a red tree, one or the other of us hollers “RED TREE.” Don’t ask me why … maybe it’s a “senior” thing.

A view from the side, looking at the windows of Jefferson’s greenhouse, which adjoins his library, study and bedchambers.  Smart man – he slept on the 1st floor, and made his kids and guests sleep on the second and third floors.  (If you saw how steep and skinny the stairs are, you’d understand this comment).

The next illustration is representative of the photograph I did not take.  And Lou chastised me for missing the opportunity.  We were just gathering in the Parlor, during the House Tour, when all of a sudden there was a loud thump and priceless artifacts flew to the floor (well, I saw at least one piece of poster board fall) … One old gal (probably my age), passed out dead cold and fell to the floor.  She wacked her head pretty good.  We were all ushered from the room while they attended to her.  Her two friends weren’t all that concerned, so maybe this happens a lot.  We saw her wandering the grounds later, so guess she was fine, although we did miss our Parlor Tour.

Here’s that red tree again, along with one of the volunteers who make sure people don’t go where they aren’t allowed (and also make sure you don’t take photos inside the house, even when exciting things happen, like when people pass out).

Just another view of Monticello.  It is an amazing place, especially considering Jefferson designed it all himself.  His favorite hobby was dreaming up new projects, tearing out the old and rebuilding parts of the house.  Does that remind us of anyone?

It was a good visit, and we had wonderful weather.  Part two of 100 Year history day will continue tomorrow.