Sunday, January 23, 2022

Escape to the Land of the Palms

North Carolina
January 23, 2022

 We escaped Maryland under the cover of darkness this morning and are at this moment preparing to cross into South Carolina.  Chris and I, accompanied by two dogs and a very unhappy cat are making good time. 

There has been snow along the highway, but no ice.  It was very eerie driving through DC with no cars on the road in many places except us.  Driving through Virginia I was often using high beams to find the road which in places was not well marked. Even now, on this Sunday morning, the roads are pleasantly empty of traffic.

We are almost 6 hours into a 14 hour trip. Well, with the animals along it will likely be a bit longer with the required bio-breaks. 

There was some concern that the high in Jupiter today was supposed to be only 66, but that is 50 degrees warmer than when we left and even now at almost 9 AM just leaving North Carolina it is only 24 degrees outside of the car. Sixty-six sounds balmy.

Hey, there is South of the Border.

Goodbye North Carolina.  

And the exodus continues.

— Bob Doan, writing from I-95 in South Carolina

Saturday, January 22, 2022

How Do You Spell Relief?


I thought it was one of the more creative commercials when I was a kid, the voice from the television was asking asking the viewing audience how to spell relief and then substituting the spelling for the product.

It is similar to the phrase we use today: in the dictionary with the definition of "pick a word" is a picture of ___. 

Well this morning when, for the fifth day in a row, I let the dog out and was slapped in the face by the arctic blast of frozen air I realized that I spell relief: F-L-O-R-I-D-A.

Yesterday, I also came to the understanding, as I was laying under Chris's car putting air in the spare so that the check tire light would go out, that when I finally do escape to the south that I probably will have enjoyed the coldest stretch of the Maryland 2021-2022 Winter season--it can't be worse than this period has been, right?

Yesterday the high never reached above freezing. It is hard to believe that three days ago we were sitting around the fire pit in the evening during as brief respite. The lawn even thawed, briefly.

Relief. That is what we need.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Oysters, Beer, and Cold

 A surprise phone call last evening from Patrick had Chris and me rushing out of the house to meet at a local watering hole for some great conversation and food.

I like surprises like that.

When we arrived there was a beer on the table for me and a glass of wine ready for Chris along with six oysters to get the evening started. 

I love oysters I the half-shell. I do not get to enjoy them often and over the course of the evening the six grew into another dozen oysters while Chris enjoyed some wings and fries. 

The weather, however, is another story. Temperatures bottomed out this morning around 15 degrees. I think converting the temperature to Celsius more aptly represents how it feels: -9C,  or in a word, COLD! I really do not need this weather. At least we are not getting the ice that is plaguing the Carolinas and delaying my departure for Florida. On the upside, the departure delay gives me more time to enjoy family and friends before enjoying my new found retirement and heading south. My golf clubs are ready to see some Florida action!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 20, 2022

January Fire Pit Evening


Fire Starting in the Pit
Elkridge, MD
January 19, 2022
Amazingly, after a week of freezing temperatures, it rose to 52 degrees yesterday.

That meant an evening around the fire pit with neighbors to celebrate a mid-Winter break from the cold. It was a gathering to connect after being isolated by COVID and the weather for almost the past month.

The conversation never lagged as the sun set and darkness fell. We enjoyed wine and light munchies connecting and updating the activities of the past few weeks. The respite from the frigid weather was  much needed as we prepare for another winter's blast today. 

I am closely watching the travel weather and I even found a travel weather application to help me plan my escape from Maryland after or in-between the storms that are ravaging the country. 

But the idea of sitting around a roaring fire in Maryland on a January evening with friends, while it may seem strange, was truly great. We need to be aware of the  possibilities that present themselves to us. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Not Everything on the Beach is Friendly


Portuguese man o' war
Jupiter Island Beach, Jupiter, FL
January 5, 2022
Life lessons come from beaches. 

Take for instance the morning beach walk to improve my cardio--a good thing. But, hidden among the sargassum one morning was a Portuguese man o' war--definitely not a good thing to blindly stumble upon while walking barefoot on the beach. 

There are, likewise, many things lurking in the world which can cause pain if we are not careful and observant. Take for instance yesterday, I was reviewing the monthly statements and found erroneous charges. One from a closed account, one from something that I didn't even know about, and then one from a company that apparently likes to slide in an annual membership hidden in the fine print when groceries are delivered--which we took advantage on once in Florida. These charges were lurking in the statements like a Portuguese man o' war hiding in the sargassum. Perhaps one sting will just hurt, but over time they become a larger problem.

Lesson? Like the sargassum on a beach--you need to dig through things it carefully to ensure nothing harmful is hiding. Not everything on the beach is friendly!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Holiday Again


White Christmas Celebration
Elkridge, MD
January 16, 2022
I crawled out of bed this morning at 6:30 AM. Coming to consciousness I realized that this was the first workday since I retired that I have been in Maryland and therefore would normally been up at 5 AM to go to work. So I guess it is real, this retirement gig. But, I want to reflect upon the weekend Christmas celebration do-over. 

As I wrote previously, the family celebrated Christmas on Sunday since we could not gather on the actual holiday due to COVID concerns. It was good to have the entire family together for the first time in months to enjoy some holiday cheer and to exchange gifts--in person.

Riordin Enjoying the Fireplace
Elkridge, MD
January 16, 2022
The winter weather held off until the afternoon, but we were treated to a White Christmas with snow falling and covering the lawns and streets. There was a roaring fire in the fireplace and we had allowed the Christmas decorations to remain until the family completed it celebration. Alexa even treated us to Christmas music as gifts were exchanged. 

What did we learn from the experience? Holidays are for family and the actual date is less important than the gathering. 

The tree and decorations are now down and put away for another season, but the memories of Christmas 2021, completed during 2022, remain.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 17, 2022

Monday Musings - January 17, 2021


1. The third Monday of January 2022 has arrived. It is cold and snowy. There are 49 Mondays remaining in the year. 

2. Baseball Spring Training tickets are on sale. It makes me wish of warmer days, bright sun, and the crack of the bat.

3. Family NFL Scores. Only two family teams made it to the playoffs and they suffered defeat during the the Wild Card round.

    Cowboys lost to 49ers, 17-23

    Steelers were crushed by Chiefs, 21-42

The House Ready for the Christmas Do-over
Elkridge, MD
January 16, 2022
4. The Christmas do-over was a lot of fun. The original Christmas gathering was postponed due to positive COVID tests. The family gathered yesterday to complete Christmas and, in a turn of good fortune, it became a White Christmas. While the originally planned dinner was not offered, the decorations remained on the tree and the Christmas spirit was present. And then the football games began.

5. I would like to say that I am enjoying the snow and cold, but the truth is that I am NOT enjoying any of it. And it appears that a developing N'oreaster may delay my return to warmer weather. Time will tell.

6. It is Martin Luther King Day. It is a Federal holiday as is observed by most schools as well, unlike some other holidays like President's Day. There are 11 Federal holidays and 8 of them occur during the 6 month period from September through February. 

7. Today in History. On January 17, 1950, 11 men steal more than $2 million ($29 million today) from the Brink's Armored Car depot in Boston, Massachusetts. It was the perfect crime—almost—as the culprits weren’t caught until January 1956, just days before the statute of limitations for the theft expired.

The robbery’s mastermind was Anthony “Fats” Pino, a career criminal who recruited a group of 10 other men to stake out the depot for 18 months to figure out when it held the most money. Pino’s men then managed to steal plans for the depot’s alarm system, returning them before anyone noticed they were gone.

Omicron fallout, tough labor talks likely to rattle supply chains and fuel inflation - The Washington Post

How the Tonga volcano generated a shock wave around the world - The Washington Post

A messy winter storm is charging up the East Coast - The Washington Post

To Sway Unvaccinated, New Tactics Are Tried at Funeral Homes, on Radio Shows - The Wall Street Journal

Team USA Advises Athletes Heading to Beijing Olympics to Leave Their Phones at Home - The Wall Street Journal

Truckers Fret Over Pending Covid-19 Rules at U.S.-Canada Border - The Wall Street Journal

China's birth rate drops to record low in 2021 - Reuters

U.S. FAA clears 45% of commercial plane fleet after 5G deployed - Reuters

N.Korea fires two ballistic missiles from Pyongyang airport, S.Korea says - Reuters

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 16, 2022

12 Degrees


Between the Cloud Decks at Sunset
Somewhere over West Virginia
Taken by Chris
January 15, 2022
12 degrees was the temperature this morning when I awakened in Elkridge.

I came back to 12 degrees?

Why on earth would I do that?

Wait, I did it because it was the travel plan.

Fortunately, yesterday's flight from Houston was uneventful. We had expected turbulence as we flew above the storm that is coming later today to our region, but the ride was generally smooth. It was fascinating to watch the clouds below us change as we traversed the levels of the storm.

Descending into Baltimore, as we flew in between the layers of clouds, we were able to enjoy the sunset behind the aircraft and watch the reflection off the cloud tops of the lower level. It was something that I have not enjoyed many times before. Chris snapped a great image. 

And we are back--for a short while in the frigid temperatures of the mid-Atlantic Region. 

Today is Christmas! We had delayed it due to positive COVID tests in the family and our travel schedule.

There definitely will not be any outdoor football today, unlike many Christmases past.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 15, 2022

A Different Friday Happy Hour


The Boys Watching a Video
Cinco Ranch, TX
January 14, 2022
It almost escaped me that yesterday was Friday--but it was! 

The family gathered for Happy Hour and a meal. The day concluded with some quality time around a fire pit. The family, as it gathers, is a fun mix of children and adults. 

Friday was generally uneventful as I spent most of the day with Dad. I enjoyed his company, one-on-one; it is something we do not get to do often. It was very different having an entire afternoon with him. We watched a few movies, but most importantly just spent time together. 

I enjoyed watching the kids interact after the family had gathered. There were 5 of them, 2 girls and 3 boys. They spent time together as a group, other times split off into gender specific groups and at some times in family groups or alone. I enjoyed dinner with almost all of them as they cycled through the table at which I was dining. 

It is clear to me that I am still getting used to the retirement gig. Today is a travel day and we head back to Maryland. I am not looking forward to the cold weather there. Were it not for our pets which we need to retrieve, we would head back to the warmth of Florida. But Chris and I will be back in Maryland, hopefully, by the end of the day weather permitting with good memories of our visit to Texas and looking ahead to our Florida return.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Weston Lakes, TX

Friday, January 14, 2022

Messina Hof - Texas Winery & Kitchen


It has been a busy week of travel and visiting with family. 

Last evening we had the opportunity to visit a local winery for dinner. The Messina Hof provided a great dinner menu highlighting Texas wines. We specifically visited the Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery & Kitchen in Richmond, Texas.

I had read that Texas wines were becoming very good and I was not disappointed by the wines we chose with dinner. The GSM was the spectacular wine of the night. Very deep with a great nose. The winemaker describes it as follows: GSM is for the sophisticatedly-curious. Upon first taste, this medium-bodied wine leaves the palate with a blended synergy of rich flavors like blackberry, dark cherry, and plum with a hint of spice. Enjoy this hearty blend with savory meats like pork or lamb complemented with blends of herbs and peppery spices. The wine has an excellent price point of $25.

I also enjoyed the Paulo Tempranillo with my dinner which was an elegantly served and tasteful pork dish called The Cactus & Pig. Duroc pork chop, grilled Texas peach and cactus flower agrodolce with Blushing Angel and smoked potato hash cake and arugula. The Tempranillo is described as: a full-bodied wine with nuances of dark cherry, vanilla, and dried cloves. It is masterfully oak aged giving it a wonderful tannin structure and long, refined finish. It has a price point of $60 and the wine was perfect for the dinner.

The final wine of the evening, which was enjoyed sitting around a fire pit, was the HG Abounding. It was very enjoyable with earthy aromas of rich Texas terroir and flavors of blackberry that reach out from the depths of the glass. Oak aging adds balanced layers of black tea and leather. Its lingering finish, when savored, evokes the lifecycle of the grapevine from soil to press. A great bottle of wine with a $25 price point.

The service at the restaurant was excellent and friendly. The wines and courses were serves promptly and the servers and manager were eager to showcase their wines for non-Texans. And I was very impressed.

A great Texas meal highlighted with Texas wines!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Weston Lakes, TX

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