Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Just Love Technolgy

I got an iPad2 for my birthday. We have a major trip to Ireland planned for the end of July and I'm trying to figure out how to blog with my new toy.

Here it is! The wall paper is a picture I got from
The interface here on BlogPress is a little different and I don't know where all the buttons are yet, but I'm learning. I can't change the font type or put in captions. It will probably look a little different, but that's the price you pay.

As much as I love all things outdoors, sometimes I find it odd that I like gadgets as much as I do. The original plan was to take my laptop but my sister took a similar sized one on a dive trip to The Philippines and the size and weight got to be a problem when she wanted to carry it with her. With this wonderful little device, I can take photos and videos and blog about whatever is going on in real time. Of course,There is about a six or seven hour difference from us here in the Central time zone. When we are dancing and playing at 11pm, I think it will be about five or six in the morning here. Oh well, I'll post it anyway.

I'll close with a picture from the last time we went to Ireland. This is from Slieve League ( Sliabh Liag in Irish). We won't be far from there this summer and I hope to go back for some "hill walking".

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Touch of the Grape

A couple of years ago I planted two grapevines next to the fence in my side yard. This summer they are trying to take over my neighbors azaleas and crepe myrtle tree on the other side of the fence so I decided it was time to give them an arbor to climb on. After an exhaustive search online and at local home improvement stores I found what I wanted and The Music Man graciously agreed to build it for my birthday.

Here's what we came up with:
Because the vines are about ten feet apart I wanted something about eight feet wide. There weren't any premade ones that wide that were in our budget so we got two premade cedar trellises and an eight by ten cedar board, which cost almost as much as one trellis.

Here are the raw materials for the arbor.

 The Music Man morphed into Mr. Carpenter for the day. We dragged all the power tools out of the garage and got to work. The first part of the plan called for ripping the board into five strips to use for connecting the two trellises together and adding stability.

It all came from Lowe's in Homewood, Alabama.

I liked the name of the trellis model and got a birthday special on them.
More power tools came out of the garage, including two drills and a screwdriver, which didn't make it past the first screw. He measured and drilled and put the screws in, first on one side then the other. 

One side finished.
 When all the strips were finally in place, he added some eyebolts and strung wire across the top so the grapevines have something to wrap their cute little tendrils around. We moved it to the side yard, dug out the uphill side because our yard slopes. I say we, actually Mr. Carpenter did all the digging. He pounded some fence stakes to brace the legs on the inside of the trellises and used deck screws to attach them to the trellis. 

I put the dirt back in the holes and we were done. Not counting the trip to Lowe's and another to Home Depot, it took us about three hours from ripping the boards to putting the dirt back in the holes.

Here are the unruly grapevines:

Here they are after the trellis was installed: I still have to do some pruning but it's definitely an improvement!

Good night little trellis.

Once the vines cover it, I plan on putting a chair under it and sipping a mojito or two in the afternoons. If the vines ever grow grapes I might just stay out there all day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sea Food, Eat Food

When we were on the coast last weekend we wanted to eat some fresh, local seafood. On Friday night, we tried Bubba Gump's. It was easy to find, as it is on the main drag going through Destin. It's also pretty flashy and themed of course, after the movie, Forrest Gump. As theme restaurants go it wasn't too bad. The food was freshly prepared and the service was pretty good even though it was busy and full to the gills. We had a bit of a dispute with the bill though and that left a bit of a bad taste, as they say.

We wanted to find a local place to eat seafood, and on one of his walks up the beach on Saturday, the Music Man saw this place.

Later that evening, we found The Back Porch down a side street not far from our hotel. What a difference! This is much closer to "the real Florida" than any fake theme restaurant.  It still has its share of schtick of course, but it's very comfortable and welcoming.

We got there a little before five pm and were seated right away, literally on the back porch.

To start with we ordered some peel and eat shrimp. They were cooked perfectly and left my lips with a pleasant after burn, which a glass of Blue Moon took care of in short order.

For the entree, I opted for the "Angry Amberjack" sandwich. It was bigger than I thought it would be and just a little spicier than the shrimp. The fries were fresh cut and the slaw was a cool compliment to the heat of the fish. 

My husband ordered the grouper sandwich, "bronzed" which is the middle step between plain grilled and blackened Cajun style. He didn't leave anything but the slaw, which he won't eat no matter who fixes it.

After eating all that, we waddled, I mean took a walk down the beach for a little while. The sun was on it's way down and people were packing up for the day. I took some video, so if you haven't made it to the beach yet this summer, here's a taste of what's waiting for you.

The wind was pretty strong at that time of day and was overloading the camera's microphone, but I kind of like just watching the waves roll up.

One of the things we noticed that is kind of sad, were a lot of businesses closed down. The reports last summer about the effects of the oil spill in the Gulf were an unnecessary nail in the coffin of a lot of the locally owned, smaller places. Things seem to be roaring back this year but I wonder how many people had their dreams of owning a business smashed by that oil spill and the relentless reporting of it in the media. I hope the sun seekers return in record numbers this summer and the Gulf Coast economy heals quickly.

All in all, we had a good time in Destin and I wish we could have stayed a little longer. Maybe next time.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beach Reads

Every trip to the beach calls for a good book or two. Before we left, I downloaded Fiddler's Lament by DH Parker onto my Kindle to read in the truck on the way down. It's the third in the Fiddling With Murder series. In this story, an old classmate in trouble causes no end of complications for Constancy Stafford and fiance Danny Egan. It's a fun, exciting cozy mystery with more twists and turns than a Missouri Ozark back road. I couldn't put it down and finished it not long after we got home this afternoon.

Even though it's possible to read a Kindle outside I didn't want to take mine to the beach where it might disappear if we wanted to take a walk. For that reason, I stopped by Barnes and Noble  before we left and got A Long Shadow, by Charles Todd. I've followed his character, Ian Rutledge, for many books and this one is has as many layers of intrigue as all the others do. In this story, an apparent assassin is stalking Rutledge as he goes about investigating the shooting of a constable in a patch of woods thought to be haunted. Rutledge himself is haunted by the ghost of a man he killed in France while serving in the Great War. 

I haven't finished it yet but reading it will give me something to do while I recuperate from sunburn.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Beach Trip!

It's been a few years since we've made the yearly pilgrimage to the coast. It seems like if you live in Alabama it's almost a requirement. Last year we didn't go because of the oil spill. We've got a bigger international trip planned for later in the summer but the call of white sand and emerald water pulled us to Destin, Florida this weekend. 


We spent a good part of the day Saturday at Henderson Beach State park. It's $6 to get in but that is for all day and you can leave and go back if you want to. There is plenty of parking, pavilions, restrooms and outside showers to get the sand off before you get back in the car. There is a no alcohol policy but my guess is as long as you don't get stupid with it, they won't say anything. I'm sure I saw a beer can or two while we were walking along the beach today. It is a family oriented beach and I had a good time watching the little ones play in the sand and the surf.

Other than a little June grass, the beach was clean and sugar white. 
We had a relaxing day at the beach and are going out to eat seafood this evening at a local place called The Dock.

It kind of makes me wonder why we haven't come down here in so many years. The prices are reasonable and it's not that long of a drive. Maybe we'll have to come down more often. I can't remember when I've had a day where I didn't do much of anything but sit in the sun and read. I could get used to that.