I’m playing catch up. Here is a string of several recent letters to Ellen and Reid. This is a lot to digest in one sitting, so read a bit, grab a bite to eat, then come back.
After a few weeks hiatus, I thought some brilliant idea to elevate my blog from its floor level dwelling would reveal itself to me but, alas, it remains hidden. I’ll keep looking for it. Unsolicited suggestions are welcome.
January 15, 2013
Ellen/Reid: We know this about Costa Rica. It is 1) hot, but good hot, 2) sunny, especially when you comment when a cloud is actually seen, and 3) 100 colones (about 20¢ U.S.), won’t buy you a cup of coffee much less a sip.
We had an extraordinary time. We were on the dry side of the country which was a toasty shade of golden brown now that the ‘wet’ season has come and gone. On the way down I was thinking jungle but think the rolling grassy hills and countryside of California about San Jose. The Westin was about an hour’s drive from Liberia.
It is always of interest to traipse through the towns to see how the people live, and in some cases not very well although according to Dave H., because tourism is the #1 industry, Costa Rica is actually well off in comparative terms. There does not appear to be much in the way of private ownership of autos so there were lots of people waiting around for available bus transport. It was kind of depressing that our big vans, capable of holding more people, never stopped to give folks a lift.
The Westin Playa Conchal was as you might expect, sprawling with multiple buildings and compounds spread over a pretty good sized area. You could take any of a continuous stream of shuttles here and there, which we did because of Bob’s knee. The golf course was fabulous although all I did was export my lousy swing from one country to another. It doesn’t get much play; we hardly saw anyone teeing it up. My assumption is they discourage you from leaving the grounds because they had all manner of restaurants and activities right on site, including access to the beach. We ate like kings. It’s not really a singles place in that except for us, virtually the rest of the guests were couples. No real night life which was okay.
We were tired enough without staying up late. In that respect it was sort of an adult Disney in that Jane H. arranged for an all-inclusive situation. Meals, except for wine, were paid for. So were beer and cocktails. You paid extra for activities and such. We zip lined in a dense patch of forest where you slid from one platform to another among some amazingly strong trees called Guanacaste which are the national tree. If there is a harder, denser wood than these smooth barked trees, I don’t know where it would be. We only saw one monkey, a howler, that a shuttle driver pulled over so we could see. No other real wildlife except for what could be described as Costa Rican raccoons which had the run of the Westin grounds and one snake. I guess we did see a lot of birds.
We did get to fish, and if there’s one thing I’d displace golf for, it would be another day on the water. It’s probably not a good thing whenever the captain tells you about the fish they caught the day before. His boat caught a sailfish the prior day but he never rubbed it in. We caught plenty of grouper and a few skipjacks which look like a small tuna but are inedible. No other species. It really
does boil down to luck.
But the water was nice and the crew very capable. I’d do that again in a heartbeat. One of the on-site restaurants at the resort cooked up our grouper and it was delicioso. The staff was all local and they were gracious and attentive and efficient although I wonder what they think in private of the demanding Americans. We were good to them but I saw a few guests who weren’t. But it pays the bills for those lucky enough to work there so that’s not all bad.
I am exhausted this morning after getting in late last night. I awoke to better than 200 emails this morning once I fired up the PC and even coffee wasn’t enough to take shake off the cobwebs. Those will go away soon enough. Too bad the flood of emails won’t, however.
January 22, 2013
Ellen/Reid: I have seen the freakish cold temps in Minnesota and Illinois that are drifting our way and I don’t like it one bit. But there’s not much we can do about though, other than to bitch and moan in our Southern accents. We are prepped for nippy weekend temperatures that won’t climb out of the 30s. Our only salve is that we will warm up before you will. At least that’s the theory. We had a snow scare last week (an alleged 1-3 inches, but I didn’t see a single flake) that caused a rush on local stores for bread and milk. My plastic shovel remains unused since 2011.
This week is behind the scenes preparation of the Caldwell Pres. newsletter. 12 pages due this Sunday and I’ve not put one iota of thought behind it so far. There should be plenty of news, now it’s just putting it on paper. By now you’d think I would use the spiffy Mac Air to put it together but in my technological lameness I’ve not gotten to know how to create a publication in Pages. So I persist in using my antique Acer to do layout and copy in very much old school methodology. I guess I kind of thought about it yesterday when we were heaving and straining to lug the sofa sleeper, TV case and coffee table onto a truck and over to the new apartment of a homeless woman named Daisy who had been staying at Caldwell’s shelter for women. It was good for both sides.
She got some nice furniture in an otherwise barren apartment and Felicia and I got a clean slate to start over in the lower living room. The only thing I kept was the golf-themed chair. I just couldn’t part with it. It did feel good to see someone so appreciative and so happy and thankful to have something of her own. That was worth the price of a sore back. Sometimes giving away possessions is better than receiving them. The TV thing was the same one in the basement on South Shore and was as heavy as lead. Somehow, with divine intervention perhaps, Tom and I were able to lift it the short distance into the woman’s first floor apartment. If her unit had been on the third floor, we’d still be there huffing and puffing. I was intending to give her TV from South Shore Drive, too, but we couldn’t fit it into the truck.
You know it’s warmer down here when you hear frogs croaking in golf course ponds and watch a stray lizard walk across the front porch in the January sunshine. Not to rub in our nicer weather, but the lettuce in a front porch pot is literally a bumper crop of greens. Nice to step out and harvest some for dinner. No way we can possibly eat it all. A lot of it is radicchio which lends a tart flavor which is quite nice. Once it starts to get truly warmer (toward the end of February) we will probably start a new crop of letter/spinach and cilantro. I like the container gardening. No tomatoes until March. Does that rub it in enough?
Pat and Mort just churned out a golf photo book called Green Glory. Mort posted a cover photo on his Facebook page and it looks great. Can’t wait to see it. Didn’t see in on Pat’s home page (stonehousegolf.com) but I suspect it will be there soon. It will be a good seller for Stonehouse.
Finally got my flu shot last week. I guess it’s pretty rampant and that makes me thankful to work at home and not amongst sneezing office crowds. When I drove Uptown last week for the physician’s appointment, it made me glad to not have to slog through commute ordeal every morning. Traffic was a hassle, parking was a hassle, fighting crowds was a hassle. I start at my desk at 6:15 a.m. and wrap the day up about 5:30 p.m. Heading down a few stairs for lunch is so nice, and I don’t need to be around hordes of people. I don’t miss that at all. Now, if I could just figure out a way to take a nap. Just don’t tell anyone that is in my master plan.
February 4, 2013
Ellen/Reid: The Super Bowl was heading the way of a blowout (same for the commercials, which our group rated pretty as mostly lame, 6 or 7 on a 1-to-10 scale), so we left a small gathering just after the Raven’s guy ran the second half kickoff back and the lights went on the blink. I didn’t turn the tube back on after pulling into the garage so was left to read about the exciting conclusion in this morning’s paper. The tube would have been switched off anyway, good game or not. I couldn’t pick Beyonce out in a police lineup. Nothing about the game does that much for me. Why they don’t hold it on a Saturday night when everyone can have a relaxing evening and not work the next morning seems really strange to me.
The countdown has started for the short weekend trip to Minnesota. Really looking forward to it, although some folks might question going up there in the middle of February. Who could blame them? Hopefully the temperatures will moderate a little bit by the time of my arrival. I will be prepared for anything but mostly glad just to be there.
Saw a couple of big bucks walk behind the house yesterday morning. First deer sighting in many weeks although we’ve been on the lookout for them. We just don’t look at the right times. By Midwest standards the deer were small but down here the guys in camo hats and vests would be salivating at the chance to take either of those two down. Birds continue to flock to the window feeder and are fun to watch and bluebirds are flitting around the nesting box as they case it out as a place to call home. They had a brood of little bluebirds last year but they never made it. The resident hawk continues to keep the squirrels at bay. Haven’t seen too much of those marauding rodents in the last few weeks.
We are thinking of a trip to Seattle in May. Felicia has never been to that part of the country and we want to let the rainy season go by before heading out there. We would leave on a Wednesday and come home on a Sunday. Reid, I need to get to Chicago soon (my Fitbit will come with me). Give me some weekends that are better than others for you and Liz.
Ellen, your photo of the avocado-celery-whatever else concoction reminded me of the smoothies we used to make when you guys were in junior high or high school. I’m trying to remember what else we put in there other than berries. Did we add juice or something like that? Those were good. That’s not to disparage the avocado-celery-whatever else it was that you blended, but the berry ones seemed to stand out. If you remember, let me know. Was it yogurt we tossed in there?
Felicia is going to do most of her moving in when I’m in Minnesota. So it looks like I’ll have a roommate when I return. Most of her furnishings and the like have gone to others, so there’s no turning back now. I guess no walking about in my skivvies, or talking to myself, anymore.