A Painful Week

Three days ago I was unfortunate to have stepped barefoot onto a swarm of fire ants. As a child living in Florida I well remember fire ants and stayed far away from them. I had no idea they had moved as far north as Virginia. Too bad I had to find out the hard way. When I first stepped on them it felt like I was being shocked. I immediately saw them and luckily I was only a few feet from the pool (the reason I was barefoot) and jumped in. I guess I was fortunate as I was only bitten about 30 times. The good news is that the pain went away within a few hours but the itching soon commenced. Fortunately the itching was not on a par with poison ivy or chiggers. But the bites look really nasty. I will spare you any photos of the damage. If you want to get an idea of what a fire ant bite looks like, try Google.

While I wait for my ant bites to heal I have been trying to stay busy. I took a ride out to one of my favorite places nearby and took some photos. I am still experimenting with my new camera. My lens collection now consists of the original 18-50mm lens, a 50mm f 1.8 lens, and a 55-210mm lens. I bought a camera backpack from Amazon to store all my equipment. I have not had an interchangeable lens camera since my film days. I’m really enjoying the versatility I now have. Anyway, the photos I am posting are from two little burgs named Rescue and Battery. They are very quaint, peaceful, beautiful places. I saw a home for sale there and I was thinking it would be nice to live there.

Anyway, here are the photos I took. I hope you enjoy them. God Bless.

I Love Where I Live

I have lived in the Hampton Roads area since the 11th grade, which means since 1966. You figure out how old I am. Before that, as a Navy brat, I had lived in Newport, Rhode Island (my birthplace), upstate New York, Texas, Florida, and finally here in Southeastern Virginia. Although the area has seen tremendous growth since I first came here, not all of which has been good, I would still be hard pressed to find a better place to live. We are very close to the ocean and a 4 hour drive to the Appalachian Mountains. There are no really big cities in Virginia, which is fine by me. It is not as rural as it used to be, but it is still a wonderful place to call home.

There is a lot of history in Virginia, a lot of it very close to where I live. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, from the first English colony at Jamestown, to the Lost Colony at Roanoke, North Carolina, there is a lot to see and do, and most important of all, take photos of. Yesterday I took a little trip up to Smithfield, which is a beautiful, quaint town with lots of Colonial and Victorian houses and shops. It is also home to the world famous Smithfield Meats. Smithfield is also home to St. Luke’s Church. Historic St. Luke’s is the oldest church in Virginia and oldest church in British North America of brick construction.  Anyway, as I said this area is a photographers delight and Smithfield is a typical example. I hope you enjoy some of the photos I took of the area.

Making the most of Summer

While Fall doesn’t officially arrive until September 23rd I have noticed that it is getting cooler in the mornings. So I am making the best use of the final month of summer. The city of Portsmouth was visited last weekend by the USCGC Barque Eagle. The Barque Eagle (WIX-327) is a 295-foot barque used as a training cutter for future officers of the United States Coast Guard. While I missed its entrance and docking, I did get down to have a look. There was only one open house, which I missed, so I couldn’t go on board. But I did take quite a few pictures. It is a breathtakingly beautiful ship and I would love to have the chance to sail with her one day.

This weekend, there were two events that occupied my days. The first one was the Seawall Art Show at Portsmouth waterside. There were many vendors with some fantastic art to view and buy. There was one photographer there whose work was wonderful. I should have gone back and bought one of his photos. I think I took one of his business cards so I might go to his gallery yet and buy something. There were different live musical groups there and I listened to the Top Hats Orchestra while I was there. They play mostly big band music and they were very good. One of the vendors was selling fish with all the trimmings but I wasn’t really hungry although the smell was trying to convince me otherwise.

Sunday I attended the annual Tefft family picnic at Red Wing Park in Virginia Beach. It is one of my favorite parks and we have had a lot of picnics there. I have 5 brothers but two of them couldn’t make it. But the rest of my brothers and their families were there. The weather was beautiful and as always my brother Jon, who is a great cook, made it a big success. It is always amazing to see how fast the young ones grow up. I need to spend more time with my family. After I left I stopped at the beautiful Japanese Gardens which are a part of the park to take some photos.

So I have had a great summer so far. The weather has been great, the pool as always is relaxing, I have gotten to see my family, and enjoyed several events. The only downside to my summer has been that my Golden Retriever Max has been diagnosed with cancer. He has been on chemo and prednisone and is doing OK, although the chemo has its side effects, the main one being that it is affecting his vision. He will be 12 years old soon and I hope he will be around for a few more years, God willing.

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Hope everyone has a wonderful summer. Take care.

I Need to Get out More Often

Saturday I went with my friend Teresa to the Farmers Market in Williamsburg, Virginia. I had been there before with my brother Skip and loved it. It is in such a beautiful location and offers everything you would want in a farmers market and more. William and Mary College surrounds the area and there are many other fine shops and restaurants within walking distance. As usual I bought some baked goods but Teresa went for scented soaps and shampoo. If we had brought a cooler we could have taken home some shrimp or crab dip. There was live music and as always people bring their dogs to the market. The dogs are pampered with quite a few of the vendors providing free food and water for the dogs. The most popular vendors are of course the fresh produce vendors. This is not a small farmers market and there was every type of fruit or vegetable you could possibly want.

We later strolled around the area, taking in the campus of William & Mary as well as the Barnes & Noble bookstore. For lunch we ate at a Philly Cheesesteak place where I ordered chili and hot dogs with French fries. The waiter warned us that the chili was very spicy and it was, although it was delicious and not painfully hot. The staff were extremely friendly and I am anxious to return and try out their Philly cheesesteak sandwich.

After a delicious lunch, we decided to head down Colonial Parkway to Yorktown. The parkway is a very pleasant, scenic route that will take you to either Yorktown or Jamestown. We stopped in at the Yorktown Battlefield site and did a short walking tour of the battlefield. You could take a whole day there but it was hot and Teresa wanted to go to the York River beach that a friend had told her about. Yorktown is a pleasant little community on the York River at the foot of the Coleman Bridge. The George P. Coleman Bridge is a 3,750-foot-long double-swing-span bridge located in Yorktown, Virginia, and the bridge crosses the York River. There are quite a number of shops in Yorktown and several excellent restaurants. The beach itself is gorgeous but the swimming area is not very large. The Beach Delly looked wonderful but we had just eaten. Maybe we will be back before summer is over and give it a try. After walking around the riverfront for a while we decided to call it a day and headed back home. It was a great day, and that is why I need to get out more often.

 

Political Correctness Insanity

With the recent murders of 9 members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, political correctness in this once great nation of ours has gone to new lows of insanity. Tragic as the murders of the 9 members of the church were, they are no justification for the sudden collective insanity of political correctness that followed. Yes, Dylann Roof was a racist, as he also was obviously mentally disturbed. His crime was a crime against humanity, nothing less. Yet because there was a photo of him taken with the Confederate Battle flag, suddenly the attention has turned to the flag itself instead of towards racism, mental illness, and yes even gun control. Addressing those issues would go a long way towards preventing horrific crimes like this. Banning the Confederate Flag will do nothing towards preventing crimes like this.

People have mixed emotions about the Confederate Flag, and I understand both sides of those emotions. Maybe it is time to take the Confederate Flag down from government buildings. But that wasn’t enough for those suffering from incurable political correctness. Suddenly, not only are there calls to remove the flag from government grounds, but also for banning the manufacture and sale of Confederate flags. Now you cannot have a cake baked by Walmart that has a Confederate flag. Walmart is even melting rings that have the Confederate flag on them that were ordered before this controversy even erupted. The NAACP is calling for the removal of all Confederate memorials, even going so far as to call for the destruction of the Confederate Memorial at Stone Mountain and removal of Confederate bodies from cemeteries. I live within a stones throw of Portsmouth, Virginia, where City Council members are calling for the destruction or removal of the Confederate Memorial in Portsmouth. The City does not even own the memorial nor the grounds upon which it was built and is willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove it. This from a city that if financially strapped.  I could go on and on about more instances of insane calls for the complete eradication of all vestiges of Confederate history.

To what end would all of this be for? How would it benefit society or our country to censor and rewrite our own history? All countries have dark periods in their history. But you don’t just erase history as if it had never happened. You learn from your history and try to improve on your history. Our country, under the U.S. flag, attempted genocide against Native Americans. Our country, under the U.S. flag, interred U.S. citizens illegally during WWII. Should we attempt to eradicate all vestiges of those histories too?

Italy has many ruins from the Roman Empire, which enslaved millions. Yet they have no intentions of bulldozing any of them. Egypt has many ruins from the Egyptian Empire, which also enslaved millions. Again, they have no intentions of bulldozing any of them. In fact, the only people I know who are actively trying to eradicate history by literally bulldozing and demolishing remnants from the past belong to a terrorist organization called Islamic State in Syria. Are we to follow their example instead of the examples of Italy and Egypt? Has our country gone that far down the road of political correctness that it leads to mindless, needless destruction of our own culture and history?

Again, we have National Parks that commemorate great battles of the Civil War. Are they to be destroyed also? I can tell you one thing, it is going to take a monumental effort to eradicate the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of memorials to the Confederate dead from our tragic Civil war. They are everywhere in the South. It will cost tens of millions of dollars that will be far better spent on other things like poverty, crime, hunger, homelessness, etc.

The actions of one man do not represent the good people of the South. To most in the South the Confederate Flag does not commemorate hatred, but heritage. Your right to be offended stops with my first amendment rights. If we banned everything that offended someone, we would no longer be the land of the free and the home of the brave, but instead the land of the easily offended and home of the intolerant. Love the Confederate Flag or hate the Confederate Flag, this is still a free country. Where does this political correctness end? Next up, the American Flag? It’s already happening.

Summertime and the livings easy (sometimes)

Yes, it is almost officially Summer, although as far as the weather is concerned it is already here. First a quick update on my dog Max. He has started his chemotherapy and is doing very well. No side effects from the chemo and after blood work and a physical yesterday the vet says his liver is normal sized now and his albumen levels are going back to normal. Max himself seems just like his old self, active, and eating and drinking well. God is truly amazing!

I have been having severe back spasms for a week now, some of the worst I have ever had. But thankfully it seems to be calming down some now. I hate it when I don’t feel my normal self. Our new Pastor is doing a great job and we have had several new families become members. It is great to be able to minister to new people and help and watch as they grow in faith.  As I have been going to the gym pretty regularly, my energy level is up and I am sleeping much better. I hope to be much more active this summer. I hope to take a few short trips and get to the beach, etc.

My new Meizu MX4 phone is a joy, especially when it come to taking photos. I also received my Zidoo X9 Android TV box and am likewise enjoying it. One nice feature it has is an HDMI input so that I can connect by Blu Ray player to it. Been reading several books as that is one of my main forms of entertainment in the summer. I have also realized that the library has a great collection of Blu Ray and DVD movies to rent. That is really cutting down on the movies I am renting from Amazon.

I have engaged a Realtor and have been looking at several house to buy. I have found two that I love although one is out in the middle of nowhere and too far from church. I am not ready to move yet but it is nice to know what you can get for what you can afford.

That’s it for now. Everyone enjoy your summer. God Bless you and keep you./

Zidoo X9
Zidoo X9

Memorial Day and other things

Life can change so quickly. “You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.” First thing, Memorial Day. Memorial Day is one of the holidays I have trouble with. It is such a sad day yet it is also a day to be proud. A day to be proud of the fine young men and women who serve our country yet be sad at the terrible loss of those same fine young men and women. Sometimes the loss is justified and sometimes the loss in needless, yet never meaningless. I fought in Vietnam and it stands out for me as one of the most needless, tragic wars in American history. So many fine young Americans sacrificed for no noble cause. They fought and died because they loved their country and each other. For no other reason, only that the lessons learned from that tragic war could possibly prevent something like that from ever happening again. Unfortunately, Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that those lessons learned at such a terrible cost were ignored.

As for the riding high in April, shot down in May, I found out that my beautiful Golden Retriever Max has cancer. It is malignant and involves the liver. It is not operable but is treatable with chemo. He has been prescribed Prednisone and another Chemo drug. The Chemo drug is very expensive but that is not a consideration. The Vet told me that the median life expectancy with treatment is 18 months. Max will be 12 years old this November. I pray that he and I will have at least a couple more years together. He is my constant companion and one of my main sources of joy in this life. It is always so hard to say goodbye but I wouldn’t have missed our time together for anything. I love you Max.

The last thing is it looks like I will be moving very soon. Long story, but at least I pray this will be my forever home as I am 66 years old and don’t want to ever have to move again. So it is one of the biggest decisions of my life where to move too. I don’t need anything big or nice, just somewhere where Max and I can have some peace and quiet in our final years. Not trying to sound maudlin, just a little overwhelmed right now.

That’s about it for now. May God Bless whoever reads this. May you cherish every day and everyone in your life.

Stuff

It looks like we have seen the last of winter here in Southeastern Virginia. No more snow, no more temperatures near zero. Spring is just around the corner. I seemed to have survived this winter better than last. It didn’t seem as long and dreary as last winter did. And cross my fingers but I didn’t catch a cold, the flu, or have a sinus infection. I owe that to getting more sleep, exercising at the gym, and generally having a more favorable outlook on life in general.

I also tried to stay as busy as possible. Much of that involved finding things to do while I was trapped inside due to the weather. I took an online course, worked on some web sites, did a lot of bible study as well as being more active in church. I did break down and buy a couple of toys, those being a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B mini-pc and a new Fossil watch. I also finally got Geekbuying to send me a return address for the broken Meizu MX4 smartphone I had bought from them which lasted less than a week before it stopped working.

I will have to think long and hard before I buy anything electronic directly from China. It was a nightmare getting them to finally acknowledge that it was broke. This included me making a video and posting it on YouTube as well as complaining online via Facebook and Google+. I also had to file a claim with PayPal. So I finally packaged it up, filled out the customs form and mailed it back yesterday. Now the long wait begins for them to either return a new phone or refund my money.

But like I said, Spring is almost here and all is well. Oh, I forgot to mention that I started drawing Social Security and am now on Medicare. So my financial picture has improved some. Life is good. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Raspberry Pi 2 Box
Raspberry Pi 2 Box
Raspberry Pi 2 B
Raspberry Pi 2 B
Fossil Watch
Fossil Watch

 

ODU Basketball Game

A friend of mine from church recently invited me to an Old Dominion University basketball game at the Ted Constance Convocation Center in Norfolk, Virginia. He had VIP tickets which got us VIP parking, free food and drinks in the VIP lounge, and great seating. ODU had a record of 17-4 and was playing against the Charlotte 49ers who had a 10-12 record.  I have not been ever been to a college basketball game but have watched a lot on TV.

The Convocation Center is a great forum for basketball. It is a modern facility with all the amenities you could want. After parking we went to the VIP lounge and had some light snacks and some great sausage and hot dogs. Once we went inside I was amazed at how great a setup they had for the game. I was really impressed. There were probably 5,000 people in attendance along with the dancing group, cheerleaders, and band.

For the first half we sat up top at one end of the court. It was a great overall view of the action. For the second half we moved to our VIP seats down low mid-court. Those seats were even better. You felt like you were part of the game. It was a really exciting game to watch and Charlotte gave ODU a tough game. But in the end ODU won 61-57. I would really like to go back again soon. It was the most fun I have had in quite a while. If you live in this area I highly recommend attending one of ODU’s home games.

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It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

NativityChristmas if my favorite holiday and Advent is my favorite time of the year. As a child it was all about Santa, the Christmas tree, decorations, cookies, and the anticipation of Christmas Day and presents. It really was hard to sleep Christmas Eve as the excitement and anticipation was more than a child could handle.

Over the years Christmas has become less about presents, Santa is gone, and my son is all grown up. Now Christmas is more about family and the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I still enjoy decorating the tree, the food, and I wouldn’t mind getting a present or two. My family has grown in some ways and shrunk in others. My Grandparents, Mother, Father, and most of my Aunts and Uncles are gone. But my brothers, my son, and my Church family have made Christmas as joyous as it was when I was a small child. But the biggest joy of the Advent Season and Christmas is God and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As a child, Jesus was not on my mind during Christmas. There was only Santa, presents, and my family. But today, I have so much more to be grateful for. Looking back over the many Christmases of my life, I can truly say that I have been blessed each time with so much love and happiness. I pray that you and your family will experience the same joy and happiness that I feel every Christmas. Just as long as you remember the real reason for the season, all your Christmases will be joyful, no matter your circumstances.

Merry Christmas and A Blessed New Year to all…

Now if only it would snow.