Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Hemlock year in review

2013! What a mess.

I've had writer's block.

Happy New Year!!! I will take this occasion to give you an update on our life.
  • There is a new cat in our life.  Her name is Madison.  Wilson, our faithful companion of sixteen years passed away in Montreal on October 9th, 2012.  
  • We came back to Myrtle Beach in April 2013.  The house just seemed empty without Wilson.  Madison is very different than Wilson.  She is a very high energy cat, talkative and very bossy.  She makes more sounds in one day than Wilson did in sixteen years.  We cannot find her off button.
  • We decided that Myrtle Beach is where we want to be for the rest of our lives.  No more Montreal for us.  It was fun, it is done.
  • I think I am losing the little french lady.  She has lost thirty three pounds this year. NO DIET!  Amazing!!!  She just ate healthier foods in smaller portions.  The only exersize she has done, and is still doing is walking.  Yesterday she walked about six and a half miles.  The last time I heard from her she was just west of Baltimore and will be in Boston by Easter. (just kidding, but not about the weight loss and the walking.)

  • This pictures was ten weeks ago.  She has lost 12 more pounds since.
  • We both have been taking classes.  I took a class in Memoir writing and we both took Mosaics.  We both enjoy the mosaics very much.  I created a Kandinsky mosaic, and a sunny beach mosaic.   The little French lady did a cat mosaic.
  • We both have been reading a lot of books.  I am still reading John Sandford, Stuart Woods, Ann Rule and many others.  
  • I just finished Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin.  Johnny was a real jerk off camera.  He died alone.  I am reading something by Glenn Beck called "Miracles and Massacres".  I just finished a couple of Stuart Woods' fluffy books.  They are fun reads but not very mentally challenging.  The thing about Stuart Woods is he is capable of much better work.   He could be the next James Michener but he writes like a guy who gets to chapter 50 and says "I will finish this book in the next ten pages", and he does.  But I still enjoy his easy style.  
  • We have done some Geocaching this fall and winter season.  We don't do much geocaching during the summer.  Too hot!!  We now have 12 caches placed.  On one cache we have over 400 finds.

    We are getting better at mosaics.

    I plan on being more productive with  my blogging in 2014.  I guess 2013 had too many distractions.  I lost my habit and motivation somewhere between Montreal and Myrtle Beach.  I enjoyed writing my blog and now it is time to get back to it. The Little French Lady just told me she is glad too. She missed it.
Happy New Year to everyone.
August 2012. Mmy sweetie before she lost 33 pounds.  We ate well in Montreal.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Our plan....God's plan!

UPDATE:Hemlock Report 

Well….I’m back.   The little French Canadian Lady (formerly known as “the little spanish Lady’ and  “the little French  Lady”) is back too.

We had a wonderful idea for my wife’s retirement.  
We planned on moving to Ecuador in September 2013. We ordered books on Spanish culture, Spanish maps, custom and laws of Ecuador. We bought, and started to learn Spanish, using Pimsleur lessons.

We contacted several real estate agents.  We found some lovely places in Salinas, Ecuador, which is a seaside city, where many American Expats live.

Perfect…….We are going to Ecuador. It has sunny beaches,  Spanish senoritas,  Pina Coladas,  inexpensive food and rent.  Where do I sign up for this?

Yup……So on May 4th 2012  the plane took off from Myrtle Beach.  I looked back with moist eyes and said fondly to the beach, “Adios, Amigo”  

The little Spanish lady turned to me and said, “Adios, Amigo?”  Were going to Montreal, Bucko. We are going to be snow birds!”
Gosh, I must have missed that meeting. “Snow birds??? what do you mean”, and she says “Yeah! Snow birds! You know those? They spend summer in Montreal, then avoid winter by moving back to Myrtle Beach”

The overcrowded beaches of Salinas Ecuador in April.
but it was worth it!!!

Montreal traffic problems on the way to the beach in April.

What happened to THE PLAN??? I must have been eating something crunchy while she was informing me of the new plan. ^&%^$

“Oh!!….Ummm…..Bonjour La plage, mon ami.”
I wondered if anyone will want to buy some Spanish language CD’s in Montreal?

Soooooo……Montreal is nice, but my Spanish isn’t helping me much and those French people have a different French word for everything.

After living in Montreal for awhile, we decided to build a preference spreadsheet.

Here we go….

The good news about Montreal:  the beaches are not that crowded in January. (if you can find one.) It is  a no brainer. 
Would you prefer the crowded beaches of Salinas, Ecuador or the not so crowded beaches of Montreal? Shall we put this in to the win column for Montreal? 
Cheese Whiz tastes better in Montreal.  Another win for Quebec.
Montreal beggars are bilingual.  Another plus for Montreal. (yeah, but we san no beggars in Myrtle Beach!)
If you are a pot head, Montreal is your paradise.  You don’t even have to buy the stuff.  Just take a deep breath. People seem to smoke it openly.

These are some of the benefits of living in Montreal.  
Having said that, I still love the place.  Our time there was not wasted.  We did many fun things. (watch your step….almost no one cleans up after their dog….Ummm….I am assuming that stuff was dog poop.)

After a long winter we decided to return to Myrtle Beach.

Since we will be needing a car in MB, we called a dealer and ordered a pink 2013 Chevy Spark.   We wanted a small car.  We don’t drive much but a car is necessary; check that off our to-do list.

we ordered this car.

This is the car we ended up getting.

Wilson, our beloved companion of sixteen years passed away while we were in Montreal.  We missed him very much.  We decided that we would get a kitten from the animal shelter when we returned to Myrtle Beach. The Little French Lady wanted a cute little orange tabby kitten …
Ummm...What happened there?

Wilson (Oct 1996-Oct. 9, 2012) Gone but not forgotten.

Madison (born when?) looks like Wilson, eh?

We got a tiny 4 year old girl, who looks eerily like Wilson and does not have an off button. She may look like him, but is indeed very different.  She is very vocal.  She has chatted more in 2 weeks than Wilson did in 16 years.  She joyfully runs around the house, amazing us with her energy.
We were not looking for a cat that looks like Wilson.  It just worked out that way.
That is another story.
You don't always get what you want.  Sometimes you get what you need.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Smoke gets in your eyes

Today is Wednesday.  We slept very well last night.

Sunday night and early Monday morning....not so good.
At 3 AM Monday morning the fire alarm went off in our building.
Huh! We thought ... Some wise guy pulled the smoke alarm in the building or somebody left something burning on the stove.
I got up and walked to the front door of our apartment, opened the door and looked out.  It smelled a little strange, like burning plastic.  It was not a strong smell.
I turned to the little French lady. She was on the phone with the doorman, who told her it was not a false alarm. We needed to walk down the stairs to the ground floor.
Yikes, twenty floors down?....Yup.
We got dressed quickly but warmly, thinking we might have to go outside.
When we walked out our front door the smell was noticeably stronger and there was some smoke in the hallway, which  got stronger as we descended the stairs.
We shuffled along with numerous other tenants.  No one was talking. No one was panicking. It was an orderly descent. Impressive!
As we passed the stairway door for the 10th floor, I glanced at the window to the hallway.  It was black with smoke and the odor of smoke was strong.  On our way to the ground floor we saw a few people who seemed to have had less time to prepare than we did. Perhaps they were closer to the fire then we were. One man was wearing only a bathrobe and slippers, no pants, no socks. A woman looked sad and was holding a baby. We felt that we were lucky.
From our floor to the ground, it took us about 4 minutes to get to the ground floor where we exited a side door and crossed the street, where we looked up at our building.

Wow, this is pretty serious.  We could see one apartment had a very bright orange glow. The flames were  leaping out the window and trying to make their way up to the apartment above.   To the left of the burning apartment I could see someone who  was trapped on the balcony, and had no way to exit the apartment.

We watched the ladder trucks get into position to rescue the stranded tenant.  We watched as the firemen worked.  They had the fire out in a few minutes.  Clouds of black smoke billowed out the windows.
We decided to go to McDonalds, which is in the mall across the street from our building and is open 24-7.
I believe they had their best night ever.  It was busy!

We stayed there for about one hour before we decided to check how things were going.  Things were much better.  The firemen still were not allowing people in the building.  We decided to go to Moe's.
We heard that in its heyday Moe's was a pretty good place to eat. Not so much anymore.  The coffee tasted like it spent the whole night brewing. Yuck!
We stayed there for about one hour, and then we went back to our building.  The lobby was now open for business.  We got back to our apartment around seven in the morning.

It was a nasty little fire.  I have never seen so many fire trucks without a parade.

fire atwater
Fire ladders on outside of building.
note: At 1:45 to 2:00 you can see fire good,
upper right.
Hereis how the situation lokks like today:
  • The 10th floor is now totally empty.
  • The building smells very smokey.
  • Five people suffered smoke and minor burns.
  • We heard that a new tenant had moved in to the apartment building on Sunday afternoon,  onto the tenth floor. Sadly for him, the tenth floor is uninhabitable right now.  He was  crying in the laundry room yesterday.  I would be too.  It must be so  be devastating.
  • The good news is: The building is cement and very solid. The fire did not have a good chance of spreading very far.  Good fire doors.  All the doors are metal. The floors and walls are cement.  In fact, the apartment next to the fire doesn't  show much damage. However, most of the furniture contained in the apartment where the fire started melted. Total destruction.
  • The fire department did a great job. They were very efficient.

black soot and plywood on front of building.  

Yesterday was a mess.  Today repairs 10th floor.

10th floor hall being repaired.
Life is back to normal for us.  The 18 apartments on the 10th floor, not so much.