Thursday, March 31, 2022

March Madness

No, my title does not refer to college basketball, though it was fun while the ISU Cyclones lasted in the tournaments. Instead, I am talking about our decision to drive to Florida for vacation during Spring Break Madness. Some friends of ours purchased a condo on the west side of Florida, and invited us to come and visit them. 

We thought if we were going to make the trip, why not drive and see some sights along the way? While our stops were not necessarily ones that spring breakers would frequent, we did not take into account the traffic getting there. Or coming home, for that matter, as the snow birds were heading back to their northern homes. Wow! There were many stretches that were stop and go, making a long drive even that much longer. Live and learn - we won't do that again.

On the way down we stayed in Jacksonville for a few days, which enabled us to visit local forts, preserves and plantations. One of the highlights was a store called Jax Pickleball, which sold everything you need for this sport. I picked up some new pickleball shoes (which are hard to find and harder yet to be able to try on), and Jim got a new paddle. We also drove down to St. Augustine, which was packed! I think we got the last parking spot in a 3 mile radius, so we left the car for the day and walked everywhere instead. I certainly did not think that town would be a spring break destination, but boy was I wrong.

Vero Beach

From Jacksonville we traveled to Vero Beach where some friends of ours have a boat that they winter on. It was fun to be able to see it, and them. While it was too choppy to take it out, we enjoyed sitting outside on the boat enjoying drinks and snacks with them. The next morning we drove to Jupiter, where our beloved St. Louis Cardinals have their spring training games. How great it was to take in a Cardinals game for the first time since we moved away from St. Louis!

St. Louis Cardinals game

After that we crossed the state to go to the Punta Gorda area of Florida. We spent four nights with our friends at their condo, and we can certainly see why they jumped on the opportunity to purchase a condo there. The birding in their community is great, and all the flowering trees, shrubs and flowers really made me miss our gardens back in St. Louis. The Charlotte area is sadly lacking in blooms, especially our community as it is only a couple years old.

Punta Gorda area

The last part of our journey was spent in St. Simon, Georgia. I picked this location because it was about halfway home, and also we had never been to this part of Georgia. It did not disappoint. There was a lot to explore in the area, and we enjoyed our time there. 

St. Simon area

Overall, we had a wonderful trip. We just won't make the mistake of taking another one down south in March. Otherwise I might have to switch vehicles with this woman.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Two Years of Covid Fears

Two years ago yesterday the coronavirus was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Covid has been a world-wide event that has caused pain, suffering, death - and at times panic - to millions of people. In the early days we had no idea how our lives would be impacted, and certainly never dreamed the effects would still be felt two years later.

Here are the latest Covid statistics: North Carolina has had 2.61 million cases and 22,932 deaths. In the United States there have been 79.4 million cases and 966,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been over 455 million cases and over 6 million deaths. The United States is at a 65.7% full vaccination rate. Worldwide that number is a discouraging 57.3%.

As health restrictions eased, many US citizens have gone back to resuming their lives as if the virus has been eradicated. While it is certainly true that the number of positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths has been on the decline, there are over 42,000 people in the US testing positive on a daily basis. Though many mask mandates have been dropped, the US government has extended the one that applies to flights, buses, ferries and subways until at least April 18th. This is no doubt an attempt to try and limit exposures during the spring break season.

But just as people were beginning to think it would be safe to travel outside the country again, last month Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, ordered the largest full-scale invasion of a nation since WWII as he tries to regain control of Ukraine. Obviously a devastating turn of events for the citizens of Ukraine, the economic implications of this war will be felt globally.

It appears 2022 will be another year unlike any other. And there's nowhere to run.

safe statues

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Spring Sighting

March can be a somewhat gloomy month here as we eagerly await spring and all the colors it brings. My next door neighbor and I went to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte Botanical Gardens earlier this week to see what was in bloom. My husband and I are still trying to get a handle on plant materials that do well here as this is a different planting zone than St. Louis. We haven't done any plant installation at our new house other than annuals in the 2 1/2 years we have lived here. We have been watching to see what our neighbors put in, and what has survived and thrived.

We will be expanding our screen porch this spring, as well as extending our back patio. We are working with a landscape contractor for the hardscape, and will pick his brain on plants that will work well with the design. But until then, it was wonderful to go to the botanical garden and see some early signs of spring.

UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Marching Along

March Madness
The first week of March was an eventful one. My husband had his second cataract removed on the 1st. Both of his surgeries went well, and he is able to see without glasses for the first time since he was a boy. The next day was his birthday, so after taking him for his follow up appointment with the eye doctor, we went to one of our favorite local restaurants for dinner. We saw another couple from our community there, so we joined them at their table and had great food and conversation.

Friday night we went out to eat with our next door neighbors as one of them was having a birthday on Saturday. We celebrated the two birthdays with a nice meal, followed by dessert at our house. I was told one of my neighbor's favorite desserts was Bumbleberry Pie. Needless to say, I was intrigued. What in the world is a bumbleberry? As it turn out, there is no such thing and it's just a fun name Canadians put on a mixed fruit pie. I decided to make one, and it is a lovely pie. Not too sweet, but not too tart either. I served it with vanilla ice cream, and we all enjoyed it.

Bumbleberry Pie

Saturday afternoon I played in my fist Queen City Pickleball League game. My husband and I are both on the team, though neither of us was scheduled to play yesterday. One of the women needed a sub, so I said I could come. Each team had 6 players, consisting of three men and three women. I played a game with each of the women on our team as well as one with each of the men, for a total of 5 games. It was outside, and the wind was definitely a factor. It was a lot of fun, and our team ended up winning 8 of the 15 games. Not too bad for our first time playing together. Jim and I both play next Saturday against a different team.

Today we were supposed to go kayaking with a group of people in our neighborhood. But the wind gusts are up to 25 mph, so I think we are going to pass despite the nice temperature. I think I will take my electric bike out for a ride instead. I've been trying to ride 6-7 miles each day, and I have been pretty successful in doing that. Ride on...