Happy Thanksgiving, from Hilton Head Island

In the past Randy and I have prepared Thanksgiving dinner for family, friends and strangers (not to say that some family and friends can't be pretty strange, too!).  Twice we had the privilege of working with the Central Community Church in Riverside, who feed over 3,000 people each Thanksgiving.  This year it was a little different; we fed about 70 people, and they all paid for their place at the dinner table!  And the Thanksgiving dinner at the Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort was a great success.  How do you make it a great success?  Have turkey, ham, green bean casserole, holiday corn, Waldorf salad, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, oyster stuffing, regular gravy, giblet gravy, rolls and cranberry relish.  Finish it off with apple pie, pecan pie, chocolate cream pie, coconut cream pie, pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Everything made from scratch, of course.

One year ago: Thanksgiving for a few thousand people
Two years ago: Thanksgiving in Florida
Three years ago: Thanksgiving for 3,500 people

Getting close to Thanksgiving

It's getting close to Thanksgiving again.  This is a good thing since it means lots of goodies to eat and time to spend with friends.  It's also a little difficult because this year we won't be with family, either in the Midwest or in California.  But we have friends here and will enjoy the holiday, South Carolina-style.

Randy will be cooking the big Thanksgiving dinner here are the Resort for the Guests and Owners.  And in his spare time he is Santa's Helper, putting up lights around the Resort. 

Four years ago: Goofing off in Arizona

Girl Time!

There are two other Workamper couples here at the Resort right now, and the ladies and I have been trying to schedule some "girl time".  Today all the schedules lined up and we were able to spend all day goofing off together.  There are several thrift stores in the area, so we went to some of those.  Brenda, our new Activity Directory, will start having Tea Parties in December; I was not going to get involved this time around (it's a fair bit of work) but once I got into a Thrift Store, I started looking for Tea Pots.  And I found a couple of lovely ones - I may be hooked again!  All of us found a little something we liked, including bargain Christmas ornaments.  When we got tired of shopping, we went to lunch at the Bluffton Oyster Company's Family Seafood House, where I finally got some fresh May River raw oysters!  Norma and I also split a fish sandwich with sweet potato fries; Brenda doesn't care for raw oysters, so she chose the Shrimp Po'boy.  After lunch we were done thrifting, so we checked out a few regular stores in the area, including Fresh Market.  Fresh Market is a little bit similar to Whole Foods, although it's much smaller.  But you can find interesting, high quality goodies there, so we had a great time.  It was so nice to relax, after the past couple of days.

One year ago:  Shorty joins the family
Two years ago:  Changeable Florida
Four years ago:  Parachuting - a spectator sport for me

In the story of Mom vs the Tornado, Mom wins!

I wake up in the morning and thank God that Mom and my sisters are safe.  For the past 2 days I have been in a quandary about what I should be doing.  I couldn't even talk to my family much because their cell phone batteries were low, and Mom and Kathy can't charge theirs on car batteries.  This helpless feeling is reminiscent of our situation during 9/11.  Our families were safe but we were miles away in Cancun, and we could only get one call out to them.  They were OK and there was nothing we could or should be doing, but the need to get home was overwhelming.

The past 2 days I wanted to rush up to Washington but every time I made a plan, it did not seem like the right thing to do.  We wanted to move Mom into our RV or a friend's house for a few days, but Mom absolutely refused to leave her home.  According to her, everything was fine, she was just without power.  That was technically true, so she felt she had facts on her side and we could not convince her otherwise.  We kept thinking of bad scenarios that could happen, but she said nope, none of that was going to happen so stop worrying.  Randy though we could somehow make her go, but she made it crystal clear that she was not going anywhere.  Unfortunately we could not just bundle her up and push her into a car.  I confess, I actually considered doing that, but her bones are so frail that it would cause a bigger disaster.  

While we were considering all this, we were also listening to the information coming out of Washington.  Soon the town will need a lot of outside assistance but right now they are asking people to stay away and let the First Responders do their job.  The infrastructure systems are strained to the max and First Responders need a chance to get things stable (and they are doing an amazing job of it).  We could drive the RV up there but there isn't a close place to plug in to keep charged (and one more unit without power would not help anyone), and we could not take a hotel room when so many local families need them.  None of that would get in the way if Mom needed us, but she was perfectly happy where she was, would not move, and I couldn't find anything I actually could do for her besides drive her crazy.  All that added up to staying here, saying prayers that the power would come back on, making travel plans that I could not implement, and trying unsuccessfully to not worry.  

Now that my family has power restored, they can charge those cell phones!  And keep safe inside their lighted, warm houses, which is so much more than many people can do right now.  So my panic has receded; I can keep in touch with my family and look for the right way to contribute to the rebuild.

Mom versus the Tornado

I got a phone call from Mom's friend Mary this morning.  Mary has a charged cell phone and a full tank of gas, and is checking on Mom regularly.  Mom, of course, will not consider going anywhere where, such as one of her daughters' house where there is power, or even to the shelter across the street from her own house, where they have a generator set up.  Mom comes from a family whose stubbornness is legendary.  She is close to 90 and frail, but once she decides something, that's it.  She said she has bottled water, food and blankets, and that's all she needs.  She does not understand why I am concerned; when she says she's OK, I should believe her and that should be the end of it.  I love her endlessly, but sometimes we don't speak the same language. 

Update:  I can hardly believe it, but the power is back on at Mom's place.  Her house wasn't actually hit by the tornado, but still, with all that destruction, I never expected they could get power back so soon.  I am so relieved and grateful; I have been terribly  worried about her and feeling totally helpless to keep her safe.  

Of course, this is all in the natural order of things to Mom.  She said all along that there was no need to go to a safer place, a place with working lights, heat or phones.  And this just proves her case!  To quote Jack Sparrow "there'll be no living with her after this."

Tornado at home, in Washington, Illinois

A big tornado went through Washington, Illinois today.  That's where my Mom lives, and my sisters live in nearby towns.  We had a little trouble getting through to them on the phone, but eventually I talked to Mom and Kathy.  Everyone is fine, thank God.  Power is out and cell phone batteries are running low, so I didn't talk to them for very long; better to save those batteries in case they need them for something else.  This is one of those times where I am so glad my sisters live near Mom; I know they will take excellent care of her.  So I sit here and say my prayers for my family and the rest of Washington.

1st Update:  The damage is so much worse than I originally realized.  I was counting on my sisters to get to Mom, but power is out in all of their houses.  Randy's sister Theresa doesn't have power at her house either, but she drove over to Kathy's so I could talk to Kathy again on her cell phone; Kathy's cell phone is almost dead and she doesn't have a charger in her car.  Since Kathy's power is out, she had no idea how bad it is; she assumed power would come back on soon.  Mom is comfortable at home tonight and I know her, she would never consider going to a shelter, but it is obvious that power is going to be out for several days.  I am checking air fares and Mapquest. 

2nd Update:  My other sister, Ruth, has power again at her house.  There is a 6 pm curfew in Washington so nobody is going anywhere tonight, but tomorrow she will be able to gather the family at her place.  Thank God!

South Carolina Luau and Georgia Fruit Cake

The Snack Shack has closed for the season but Randy is still cooking.  Recently the Resort asked for a Luau, and Randy obliged.  The menu was Luau Pork, Kahlua Pork, Luau Chicken, Grilled Pineapple Spears, Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Sweet Potato Casserole, Island Rice, Tropical Salad, Ambrosia, Hummingbird Cake and Hawaiian Cheese Pie.  It was all great and well appreciated by the 90-plus guests.
Back in October when I went to a Luke Bryan concert, I discovered that the Claxton Fruit Cake company is just about 90 miles from us.  They are  world-famous for their fruit cake and this is the only place where they make them, so over the weekend we thought we would go take a tour of the place.  But when we got there we learned that, due to insurance constraints, they are no longer allowed to give tours.  Bummer - another thing the insurance companies have screwed up.  But they did give us a sample, and that was enough to convince us to buy some.  I used to be one of the multitude who bad-mouthed fruit cake, but this was very fresh and really good.  At this time of year they are baking over 80,000 fruit cakes a day, and that trend will continue through Christmas.   Not bad for a little home-town business.

One year ago: WONDERFUL old engines
Two years ago: My First Tea Party!
Four years ago: Just having a good time in Arizona

Wow, it's cold!

We are in the South, but wow, it's cold here now!  It's in the mid-40s and the thermometer is going to drop more tonight.  I am so glad that we are not getting snow, but it's still COLD.  Little Julienne is certainly going to get some extra use out of her Halloween costume

One year ago: Culinary School Field Trip

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil? No, lunch at Clary's Cafe

Recently we were in Savannah and went to Clary's Cafe for lunch.  We've tried to eat here a couple times before but it was always closed when we were in town.  This day it was open, so we finally got to try it.  
Clary's is a popular local spot that became a popular tourist spot when it was included in that most famous of Savannah stories, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil".  They do play it up the connection, but not so much that it gets in the way.  On one wall is a series of photos of actors from the movie, and on another wall is a stained glass interpretation of the book's cover.
The restaurant is reported to be open since 1903, and our waitresses might have be part of the original staff (just kidding, but not by much).  The lunch special that day was a Fried Chicken sandwich, so I ordered that.  Fried chicken, bacon, cheese, and fries on the side = a great lunch!
But they are best known for their Corned Beef Hash, so Randy ordered that.  Their hash does not have as much potato in it as we expected, and therefore it was a smaller portion than we expected.  But it had an excellent flavor; this would be something to order again.

One year ago: Food Tour in LA
Two years ago: Culinary plans in Florida
Four years ago: Our Cooking Classes in Arizona

Halloween for dogs and zombies

Our Mac is fixed!  I really missed it; now I can get back to my blog, which has become an important part of my travel experience.

At the Resort we have a new Activity Director who has a lot of fun ideas.  For Halloween she organized a Dog Parade.  She wisely decided to not ask the dogs to all walk together; some (including ours) would not put up with that!  Instead she arranged for people at several stops around the Resort to hand out doggie treats, and everyone took their dogs along the route.

Julienne's costume was a warm hoodie with a Halloween pattern.  We figured that since she gets cold so often, she will probably get some additional use out of it.
Shorty's costume was appropriate to his personality, too;  he got to be an Acme Rocket, complete with a lit fuse.
And they figured out the process very quickly:  find someone who is sitting outside their RV, go up to them, and ask for treats!
Later, after the "kids" were full of treats and ready for bed, the grownups got together for their own party.  I brought out an old stand-by and dressed as a Bag Lady.  Randy, on the other hand, became a zombie.  We worked hard to get his wounds looking just right; I probably could have given him real wounds, but there was a limit to what he was willing to put up with.  As it was, he came out looking very zombie-like.
One lady at the party told me that she used to treat severe injuries, and Randy's burned arms were very realistic.  I agreed; every time I looked at him, all I could say was "you look very disturbing".

 And what kind of goodies do zombies bring to parties to share?  Fingers, of course!

Four years ago:  Cute little owls in Arizona

Off line for a few days

For the past couple of weeks, the screen of our Mac has been randomly fading a little.  Then we got a new upgrade and suddenly the thing would just go black.  So off to the Genius Bar in Charleston.   They need to order parts, so I am without a Mac.  Randy still has his iPad which I can use it for this, but my Halloween pics are not available and I'm just not comfortable with this little screen.  I'm probably going to be off-line for a few days.