Tuesday, July 31, 2012

7/31/2012 Another Shrimp Boil !!

This summer is just flying by!

Our friends Diane and KK invited us for dinner tonight to the beach house they are renting this week. It was going to be something like hamburgers or chicken or something along those lines. Bob had another idea.

He called them and said, you supply the space and we’ll bring everything needed to make a shrimp boil. So we went shopping and he bought everything needed and loaded up our turkey fryer and off we went.

I didn’t stick around for the prep work because I went to McDonald’s to upload some of these posts. With us being out of bandwidth for the billing cycle I had to go use free WIFI somewhere. Mickey D’s was close….and free.

I wasn’t really interested in the shrimp boil anyway and while at the store I bought a loaf of pumpernickel bread and we stopped at a roadside stand where I bought my first real tomatoes of the season. I feasted on tomato sandwiches.

The beach house has a canal in the backyard just off the deck.



Sitting on the deck, enjoying the company.


I took my turn trying to catch fish from the canal. They were jumping all over the place so how hard could it be?



I cast that line out a hundred times if I did it once. The fish jumped all around my line, swam right passed it like it wasn’t there. It was frustrating to say the least. I’d have enough and put the pole away but the fish jumping just taunted me so I’d get it back out again more determined than to ever pull one out of there. Of course I don’t know what I would have done with it if I had because I don’t touch fish! Turns out, I needn’t have worried about that anyway since I got nary a bite!

Bob and Diane reminisced about past crabbing trips while we sat around the table. These two are such great friends. Can you believe how tan Bob is?


It was peaceful sitting on the deck, listening to the fish jump and then watching the water ripple, listening to the low hum of slow going motor boats as they plied through the canals to go home and dock for the night. Watching the tall sea grass sway in the ever so slight breeze.


It was a very nice evening spent with friends.

7/29-7/30/2012 Just Life

(Rehoboth Beach, DE)

These two days we just did normal everyday stuff.

We slept in, Bob puttered around, I did our laundry, Bob played golf on the computer, I Facebook’ed and blogged to my heart’s content, we ate, we watched TV, we talked with our neighbors and we may have even thrown in a small argument just for good measure.

We LIVED. And life is good.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

7/28/2012 A Happy Day!

Today we joined about eighty others as we witnessed two dear friends join together in a Civil Union.

Diane and KK (Kathy K.) have been together for seventeen years and the State of Delaware has changed its laws and they are now able to wed.


Most everyone was dressed in shorts and flowered shirts and Hawaiian leis with flip flops or sandals.

The ceremony took place on a small beach on the VFW property.



In their wedding party they had lots of little petal people. The kids walked onto the beach first and dropped rose petals in the path. Most of them did quite well but there was one that just wasn’t givin’ up the petals!



It was really hot at high noon and even warmer at twelve thirty when the ceremony took place. We were all glad to retreat from the beach into the cool air conditioned reception area.


After their first dance which was to “Could I Have This Dance” by Anne Murray it was time to eat! Bob and I were so glad! And so hungry!

There was quite a spread with plenty of choices and everything we had was quite good.

Dancing followed but with all those people it was a tad warm to add dancing to our activities. Bob and I knew some of the people in attendance so we had plenty of people to visit with.


It was a lovely ceremony, Bob and I wish them many years together filled with happiness.

Friday, July 27, 2012

7/26/2012 A First For Me

The marina wasn’t all that busy today, at least not for my shift. The high tide fell within Bob’s time at the marina so of course he got real busy two hours prior.

I did something this afternoon I’ve never, ever done before. I got a pedicure.


I would never do this because I thought it would tickle. It didn’t. I cannot believe I have gone all these years and not done this. Turns out….I loved it!

The occasion that brought this on? A beach wedding tomorrow. Since we’re all supposed to wear shorts and tops and flip flops or sandals I thought it was time.

So my friend Cindy and I went together to get mani/pedi’s. The color? OPI’s - I Eat Maine-ly Lobster.

When Bob got home from the marina we hightailed it over to the local VFW club. This is where the wedding will take place tomorrow and we went to help decorate and set up as much as we could.

As it turned out we couldn’t do too much because a dinner was being held and the lodge had plans of doing the floors in the morning. They assured the happy couple that they would take care of linens, the placing of centerpieces, and everything else that would need to be done.

We did get the centerpieces made at least.

Our dear and close friends Diane and KK (Kathy) are being joined in a Civil Union tomorrow.


Keeping with the beach theme, we made centerpieces with large glass bowls, sand, tea candles, seashells and colored starfish.


Those helping with this each had a bag of something that they added to the bowl.



The room where everyone will eat, drink and be merry tomorrow.


The beach where the ceremony will take place tomorrow.


Since we couldn’t do nearly as much as we wanted to we went out to the deck to watch the sunset.





We never did eat dinner tonight. We thought the VFW had “bar food” but it turns out they don’t. By the time we left there it was way too late to eat a big meal. It’s a good thing the festivities are taking place at 12:30 tomorrow, we won’t have to wait that long to eat.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

7/26/12 Can’t Get Much More Late 50’s Than This!

I’m turning 59 today but not until 10:55 tonight. Got that? Not until 10:55 p.m.!

This is the last year I can say I’m a 50-something. As a rule, I’m not a real fan of birthdays but I have to say, I’m not real concerned about this one. I have to admit, this surprises me. Maybe its because this is the year I turn that all important half year mark of 59 1/2. That time when money that I have in a 401K becomes available. Not that there is all that much there but it will be available if I want it.

It was back to work for me today and I can honestly say I got a lot of reading done. There wasn’t much going on at the marina today.

When I got home from work I had the pleasure of reading lots of emails and Facebook messages sending birthday wishes my way. I heard from lots of great friends today.

I also didn’t have to cook! I didn’t want to go to a restaurant. We had just eaten in restaurants for the last three nights and that was enough for me. I was happy just to get subs from our favorite shop.

Yep a good birthday!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

7/25/2012 A Tour of Fort Delaware

(Delaware City, DE)

I woke up this morning fully clothed on the sofa in my parent’s house. Why? Maybe because my mom and I stayed up until 4:30 a.m. playing Hand & Foot and when she couldn’t stay awake any longer I still wasn’t tired. I sat on the sofa and the last time I saw on the clock was 5:40. The next thing I knew it was 8 a.m. and everyone was up.

By nine Mom and I were at the local shopping center walking through Sears and Penney’s. I purchased what I wanted and we were home for another game of cards. Or two. Or three.

By 11:30 Bob and I were on our way and we had a stop we wanted to make on the way back to the beach.

A half hour or later we parked our truck in Delaware City and walked over to the ferry platform.


Since we are volunteers for the State Park System we didn’t have to pay to go over to Fort Delaware, a state park.

We had to wait a little while for the ferry so I snapped some shots while waiting.


Delafort, the ferry. This ferry runs between Delaware City, Fort Delaware and Fort Mott on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.


We had a pretty full boat for the 10 minute ride over to Pea Patch Island, where Fort Delaware is located.

It was only minutes before the old fort came into view.


Seagulls,,,looking to see who came to visit.


We boarded the trolley and was surprised to see someone we knew was the driver. Rob, who used to own the liquor store where we used to live here in Delaware has also taken up the RV lifestyle and works for the State Parks system too.


Bob says we have been here before but I do not recall it.


I think I would remember some place that has a MOAT!


In 1794, the area was being surveyed for defensive sites. It was determined that this island, Pea Patch Island, was ideal for defending American commerce.


The island wasn’t home to anyone but a doctor from New Jersey owned it and used it for his personal hunting grounds. The military offered the doctor $30,000 for the island but he refused their offer. Not to be rebuffed, the military appealed to the Delaware State Legislature and the island was seized and the good doctor walked away empty handed and the military had the island.

A seawall and dykes were built during the War of 1812 in an effort to fortify the island. That said, there is no evidence that any real progress was made in fortifying the island by the end of the war.


The fort’s usefulness would really come into play during the Revolutionary War. After the attack on Fort Mifflin it was apparent that a fort was needed further down river to delay possible invaders to Philadelphia. This would also protect the busy commerce ports of New Castle and Wilmington in Delaware and Marcus Hook and Chester in Pennsylvania. The fort on the island and the one on the opposite side of the river in New Jersey would insure that invaders would have to land 40 miles south of Philadelphia which would give Philadelphia plenty of time to prepare for an oncoming attack. These two forts would also protect the canal which would eventually connect the Delaware with the Chesapeake.

The building of the fort was not without troubles and turmoil. The first design of the fort was to be a star design.

Picture, courtesy of Corps of Engineers

The fort wasn’t completed in a timely manner due to improper pile placement, uneven settling and the fact that the island was marshy. One section, which involved 43,000 bricks had to be dismantled, cleaned and re-worked due to massive cracking.

From 1824 until 1831 the fort was utilized by several Army units. In ‘31 an inspection was made of the foundation by a Lt. Stephen Tuttle of the Corps of Engineers. A fire was started in his quarters and destroyed much of the fort as it then stood. In 1933 the Fort Delaware was torn down and official records show that the original sandstone was used to fortify the seawall and remnants of the sandstone can still be seen today.

Fort Delaware. as it stands today, was built mainly between 1848 and 1859, becoming the largest third-system fortification completed in the United States at the time.

Due to the marshy soil the foundation runs forty feet deep in some sections. There were 4,911 piles driven, and 1.095 were reused from the old fort, to support the foundation and to insure that this foundation would not fail, the piles were tested. An 800 pound weight was dropped 30 times from a height of 8 feet on each pile. 2955 of the piles failed. They had to be taken out, spliced and re-driven.

This is our first view of inside the fort.


Bricks. I think one thing that just hits you when you see this place is the bricks. There so darn many of them. I called the historian after we visited and asked if she knew how many bricks were used in this fort. She told me that estimates were more than 25 million but that the records have never been pulled to get a count from each invoice when the bricks were purchased. Yes, there are areas where the bricks are crumbling due to age and the elements but then are areas that the bricks looked like they were laid yesterday….and they weren’t. Whatever state they are in the craft and skill of the bricklayers is evident.

During the Civil War the Fort went from protector to prison. Most of the Confederates that were captured in Gettysburg were imprisoned here.

We stepped in with a walking tour that was going on.

Here is a picture of the diorama of Fort Delaware.


The mess hall for the soldiers stationed here.


Fort Delaware comes alive with the Living History participants who explain things and events while in character or wearing the hat as they called it. If you wanted to talk Phillies baseball or the weather you had to ask them to take off the hat in order for them to step out of character to carry on an off topic conversation.

Visitors are referred to as Inspectors but the tour had already started when we joined so I don’t know why that is.

This Captain explained things about the fort and what a “day in the life” was like.



This young lady told us all about her life as the laundress for the fort. She wasn’t the only one of course.



It was hot in there with all the Inspectors so I stepped out.


We went into the next “exhibit” and Bob and I were happy campers. You see, we didn’t come to Fort Delaware just for the sake of seeing this old Fort. Oh no, we came with one purpose in mind, to surprise a dear friend of ours.


We listened to his story and were simply fascinated. This man is a Master Storyteller. That’s not me saying so, he truly is. He is often showcased in the newspaper because of his skill when Fort Delaware or the State parks make the news.


He fashioned a decorative hook out of the hot iron, talking all the while, never missing a beat.


Willis Phelps,,,,Willie to me. He was in character when we arrived and I stood right in front of him and he never gave me one iota of recognition. I thought to myself, “Oh gosh, he doesn’t know who I am.” I took of my sunglasses thinking maybe that would make a difference. I stared at him willing him to give me a nod or something! Nada, not a thing. The tour group moved on and Bob and I stayed in our places. Willie went on with his hot iron and anvil and paid us no mind. I truly thought he didn’t know who we were. I looked at Bob, puzzled. Finally Bob said, “Well Sgt. Phelps, how’s the world treatin’ ya?” Willie looked up with this huge grin and said something along the lines of “GOTCHA!” Needless to say hugs and handshakes were in order. But not before Willie said to his co-worker, “I’m taking my hat off”.

He introduced us to his young friend who is also part of Living History. I believe his name is Malachi and he goes to college in one of the Virginia’s. He was a very nice young man and Willie seemed very fond of him.


Willie insisted we had some pictures taken with him.


This gentleman, and that term fits this man to a T, is such a dear friend and we were so happy to see him.

He declared the rest of the afternoon his own and took us on a private tour of the Fort.

Before we left, Willie gave me a gift. Not only something that I could hold in my hand but an experience also. He heated up a piece of iron and flattened out one end if the shape of a leaf and then twisted it like a candy cane and had ME finish the other side. Oh yes he did! He heated other end until it was red hot and handed me the hammer and had me hammer it until it flattened out and then we bent it. The whole time I’m with hammer in hand Willie is setting up photo shots for Bob to take and he is just snapping away! Of course when I got the camera back my first question was “What’s this red light?” You guessed it, none of the shots Bob took turned out. I was so disappointed. Of course I still have pictures of me and Willie’s completed handiwork.

“I” made this hook!



He told us stories and and seemed to slip into character sometimes and I don’t think he was even aware of it.


Willie made the history of this old Fort come alive for us.

Back in the day there were 156 guns like this that protected the fort.



This is one of the original guns that was placed here in 1859. The fellow in the right side of the picture lubricates it and does preventative maintenance every month. The gun WILL still fire.

IMG_2482Just prior to the Spanish American War, in attempt to modernize the Fort, the big guns were replaced with a new artillery system which brought about major structural changes in the fort. A thick cement wall was built within the walls of the Fort. In the picture below you can see how the arches are cut off by half.


It had been thought that this wall would be removed to make the Fort the way it was built but that would be messin’ with history. A case of it is what it is.

So one has to wonder if any spirits of the soldiers who lived and died here still roam these halls and courtyard. The answer would be yes. One of those ghost finding shows filmed here and caught a spirit or ghost on film. In fact, it will be shown on TV on October 30th.

Willie told us that he wrote a play and it has been performed twice so far. He told us what it was about and we were just mesmerized. Willie told us about it with such passion that we both remarked that it gave us goose bumps. We would love to see it brought to life.

When we arrived at Fort Delaware we anticipated spending an hour to an hour and a half. We ended up staying four hours. Hours well spent. Hours with a man we have so much respect for, a friend we care so much for, but it was time to catch that ferry.


We’ve made plans to see our friend Willie again next month. He told us about a get together that takes place once a month with a lot of National Guard friends. We’re planning on making the next one.

So we bid farewell to Willie and Rob and decided to have dinner in Delaware City before heading back to the beach.

Crabby Dick’s was the restaurant of choice and we both enjoyed some seafood and some cold drinks.

It was hard for me to stay awake on the way home having so little sleep and I can tell you I wasn’t up long once we got home a little after eight.

It was a long day and this has been a long post!