Friday, May 4, 2018

Grand Cayman Vacation Photo Journal

I mentioned taking a little break in my last post, and we just returned a week ago from our favorite destination, Grand Cayman, BWI. This post is a photo journal of our week-long stay on the island, which is nearly 450 miles south of Miami, 100 miles south of Cuba. 
Here was the comparative forecast for the days we left Charleston to what we were expecting in George Town, the capital of the Cayman Islands.
We flew via a Charlotte connection on a pre-dawn flight out of Charleston.
We arrived on island around 12:30 pm Cayman time (they are in the Eastern time zone as we are, but do not observe daylight savings time). Our adult kids (two daughters, 2 sons-in-law) traveled with us. One son-in-law was brave enough to rent a van and drive us all on the "wrong" side, navigating the newest, four-lane highway completed in recent years. "Give Way" (Yield) on the roundabouts felt like a roller coaster ride to us all!
After arrival and lunch, the kids went to the grocery store once we checked in to our condo. Sundays are closed for shopping in Grand Cayman, and that's important to know when traveling there!
We stayed in a 3 bedroom, 3 bath condo that was perfectly accommodating for all, with a ground floor walk out at the near center of Seven Mile Beach. The view above was our daytime view for the week, the view below was our evening view for Cayman sunsets. The days and nights are nearly equal at 12 hours each in Grand Cayman, and darkness settles in around 7pm each night.
A panoramic shot of the property on which we stayed.
We lazed and we snorkeled in the Caribbean sea waters just in front of our condo. We enjoyed seeing sea life such as sea turtles, barracuda, scorpion fish, spotted eel, flounder, and many more common species on small coral structures just within 200 yards of the shore in front of us.
Five of six of us are PADI scuba certified, and diving was the main reason for going back to Grand Cayman. Even though I've been diving since 1999 (Mr. P. even longer), we took a refresher course since we hadn't dived in four years. The day before flying, we had Chinese take-out, and my fortune cookie had this message:
My fortune was appropriate, as I have a healthy respect and fear of scuba diving and the physics involved. However, we enjoyed each underwater trip without issues, exploring everything from the sheer wall drop of the island's volcanic topography, to a shipwreck on the sand floor, its coral structures, and the variety of aquatic life. The sea temperature was approximately 82°, cool enough to feel refreshing when getting in, but warm enough not to be chilled when underwater for nearly 50 minutes at a time when scuba diving (although I still wear a 3mm wetsuit). A highlight for us was spotting a huge, spotted eagle ray along with many other Caribbean sea life and coral structures while diving.
Two-tank morning dives (one to nearly 100' deep, the second a shallow dive to no more than 60-65' deep) left afternoons for logging dive notes, rinsing equipment, and lazing away the time. It's a life I could get used to!
The guys settled right in to the Caribbean lifestyle of relaxing.
Even my daughter, who is the Executive Director of the city's FestivALL, changed hats and became the INactivity Director after a few days of email and work exchanges.
We had a late afternoon rain shower for about twenty minutes on one day, but the resulting clouds that evening were quite showy. We spotted a camel in the sky. 😉
Every day's a holiday and every night's a Saturday night while on vacation, and there's no better place to have 5 o'clock somewhere than Grand Cayman. We enjoyed dinners in and out, both together and separately as couples. Our last night was dinner together at Camana Bay's Brooklyn restaurant.
Each morning, Mr. P. & I walked Seven Mile Beach, either northward.....
...or southward, and sometimes we'd walk both ways.
On our last day, we left the condo around 10am, but not before a last walk on the beach.
We left Charleston at 35°, and pretty much arrived home to same temperature a week later, at 38°, leaving the consistent tropical weather behind. It has warmed up here - finally - and now we are under the pollen blankets that much of the deeper South has recently experienced.
Is it any wonder why I made this my screensaver on both my phone and desktop? Sigh.........
Until our next trip........

Rita C. at Panoply

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Miscellaneous Musings No. 12

Where have I been for the last three months, besides purging in my basement?? It's time for another miscellaneous musings! Just a random mix of goings on, this is No. 12.

Let's start with the Charleston Ballet documentary, which I mentioned participating in last summer (read more here). A gala was held to premiere the completed film in late March, a fabulous evening! The film is wonderfully done, and the evening was a reunion of ballerina alumni, striking poses for photo ops....
...and remembering good times together.
As the saying goes, ballerinas never die, they just go from barre to barre. Pictured below are three charter member ballerinas who danced in the ballet's first production in 1956 (top L frame of collage), and are still taking weekly adult group lessons. Current ballerinas (top R) are pictured with Kim Pauley, Artistic Director and Choreography (3rd from rt), and Deborah Novak (far rt), the Producer of the film. I purchased the commemorative Blenko decanter signed by Ms. Pauley, and a copy of the documentary DVD was provided for each ticket purchase.
The PBS airing dates are still in the works, and it is expected to be a pledge drive campaign in WV (WVPBS). I was told the WVPBS station has a reach in WV, VA, OH, KY, PA and MD, and our station would be the presenting station to the overall PBS system. The producer hopes it will land in the PBS Plus programming, which evidently takes time and requires several hoops to be jumped through. I'll keep you posted. Daughter #1 and I did end up in the final version. :)

Speaking of daughter #1, she was honored in early March as part of the the YWCA 2018 Women of Achievement Awards as the "Woman to Watch". A high honor, indeed, for her short career thus far in promoting the arts in the community as Director of FestivALL. I've written about FestivALL previously in this post. She's pictured below, starting clockwise, top L: with the other 2018 recipients, delivering remarks, with her cousin and sister, and receiving her reward (a Blenko commemorative).
Speaking of artists, pictured below is a work in progress by a local artist, Anna Toler-Frazier, who I've mentioned before, here and here. Anna is creating two separate necklaces for my sister, J, from rocks J's collected from special places traveled. The rock on bottom L has been fashioned into a heart, and came from a 2017 trip to Versailles, France. The other rocks are from various locales, and will become a bib necklace.
In other artist news, did you know when Ed Sheeran is not performing all around the world, he works with one of our local auction houses?? Me either! Either this was Ed (L) at that last General Lewis Inn auction I attended with my sister, or it's Ed's doppelganger. What do you think?
This next one is not as close a doppelganger, but she still reminded me of Dakota Johnson (daughter of actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith). When not working with Fifty Shades and its sequels, I caught her shopping at the South Charleston Antique Mall, 😉. She was carrying the Kate Spade camera bag to foil the paparazzi. Who's your doppelganger?
Did you watch the show, "Kevin (Probably) Saves the World"? It was silly, even goofy, but fun. Did you know the star is John Ritter's son, Jason Ritter? I should've known, just based on how goofy he is with his slapstick style comedy. I hope it's renewed next year.
Kevin (Probably) Renewed or Cancelled
I save what I call "good words" or words for "a laugh a day". This one below made me laugh.
Now, I need you to read this article and tell me if you agree with the list excerpted from the book titled, "The Top 10 Objects Your Kids Don't Want (and what to do with them)". I disagree! This goes out especially to all y'all who just participated in my purge.
Speaking of purge, as I was organizing things, both purged and splurged (see herehere and even here), I wanted to add spring wreaths to my front doors. But I couldn't find the wreath hangers, which I had put in a place where I knew I'd easily find them after the Christmas wreaths came down. Can you relate to the dilemma of this fine style of organization??
Holy cow, I looked and the same places at least, I don't know, maybe a dozen times. With the basement purge in full swing, I thought they'd be glaringly out in the open. Finally found them where I put see them, don't you?? Yeah, me neither. They were hanging on the edge of the nested wire baskets.....under the tartan cooler, behind the rolled rug. And you maybe thought I was organized? The cooler and rug did just get placed there during, after the purge......😌
Which leads me to a conversation I had recently with Mr. P. He reads a lot of those post-apocalyptic world stories (and we are Walking Dead fans, too, btw). He said one day, "in all these end-of-the-world scenarios I read, 3 is 2, 2 is 1, and 1 is none." He was referring primarily to supplies - guns, etc. I then said, "I guess you could say the same for collections." He then retorted, "So if the world ends, you'll still have dishes." 😜 I guess so.
Well, Dilly Dilly!
Until next time.......if you want to see my prior musings, you can get a rundown of those here.

In the meantime, I may be spending part of my free time playing some pickleball. Mr. P. and I just took it up in beginner, open sessions at our local Y with a couple of other friends. Imagine a crossroads among ping pong, tennis and badminton and you've got an idea of pickleball. More than likely, though, I'll be spending a good bit of time out in the garden with the bunnies, birds and moles (thanks, Mary, I love all the pockets!).
But first, I've taken a little break. Be back soon.
Thanks, always, for your loyal readership. Your comments are always welcome here.

Rita C. at Panoply

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Panoply Purge Recap

My basement storage may not appear all that different to most but, believe me, these past 2-3 months of my inventory purge activity have resulted in a much better organization of what I am currently holding.
There's much less gray matter as to how I'm storing things, and there's much more beauty in where my things are being reloved. Be sure to read to the end of this post to see what I mean by that statement!

If you aren't familiar with what my inventory purge is/was about, you can go to my post of January 22 and learn all about it.

By the numbers, here's how my purge shook out:
  • I sent an individual, follow up email on February 4, 2018 to each person who commented on my proposal. I labeled the emails for easy identification in my inbox. Not everyone replied back to me, but it may be because my email landed in spam folders. Others replied and declined participation, mostly due to their own attempts in purging. I continued communicating with those who were interested in pursuing the benefits of my purge. I kept notes in my little pocket notepad (thanks, Patti!) and carried it with me.
  • 59 day timeline - I started purging in earnest on February 12, and had plenty of bad weather days of snow, rain, wind and cold to spend indoors. Before finishing on April 11, 2018, a total of over 40 hours were noted on my calendar pertaining to the purge specifically.
  • 31 packages were mailed, many with multiple boxes packed within, to a total of 23 recipients. The first packages went out February 12; the last one on April 11, 2018. I tried to include personal notes in each, telling of the items, but actually forgot a few early ones in my hurry to package and ship.
  • Of the items purged, more than 150 pieces of glass, porcelain, ceramics and stoneware were packed and shipped.
  • Gladly, but still sadly, only one piece was broken in transit. 
It is worth noting this was the ONLY piece I mailed in a USPS flat rate box. Although it was well-wrapped in bubble wrap and paper, it was not double boxed, but other pieces within the box did not break. USPS reimbursed me the shipping cost after I filed an online claim.
  • Only one other piece was broken - by my own clumsiness while packing. I had not taped the (inner) packing box bottom before lifting it, and it crashed to the cement floor. 😞
  • Other items purged included vintage linens & clothing, metals, and many other categories:
  • I used all the boxes and packing paper I'd been accumulating for more than a year, but did purchase one roll of bubble wrap and a package of 3 rolls of commercial packing tape (used 2 of 3). At times, my work area looked like an assembly line of partially filled orders.
  • The USPS had just increased its rates on January 21st, but it was still my preferred shipper, hands down. I have my own online account, and was able to easily make my own labels, track packages, and save a bit on rates by using the "click and ship" option. Thank you to everyone who suggested I accept shipping reimbursement. I spent $625 in postage and was reimbursed almost 100%. 
  • I keep spreadsheets for most anything involving numbers (leftovers of my career life), and the purge tallied over $1,200 of goods.
Far beyond all the petty detail above that my brain seems to be hardwired to keep track of and reconcile (I was counting boxes instead of sheep at night), it is the way you each have taken these things and reloved them in your own homes which has made this project worthwhile. I paid attention to your emails, as well as comments on my blog and yours, and chose things on an individual basis. Several of you relayed personal stories of remembering some of these items from childhood, your parents, grandparents, etc., and those are what made it more than moving for me. You sent me photos with your items in your home, and some of you (bloggers) even wrote posts (not required by any means!).

With permission from the recipients who are also active bloggers and wrote posts of their reloved items, I'm sharing their individual links below. A few others have told me they intend to do posts, and I will update this as they publish, so be sure to check back. Feel free to pin from each blogger's posts. They shared their items received, and have some beautiful photography. Enjoy!

Thank you to all who participated in my purge. And thank you all for your readership.