Category Archives: iPhone

Way to Go, Uncle Rex

When last I updated this little monologue about our odyssey through the US, I put out a request for places to go and things to do next. Stewart’s uncle, Rex Amack, came through with flying colors. In fact, he so enthusiastically stood up to the challenge that I am dedicating this post to him. So, cheers, Uncle Rex!

As I wrote about previously, we were debating the West Coast of Florida or Hilton Head. We intend to follow, verbatim, the trip suggested by Uncle Rex (UR). We left the Keys and headed across the Tamiami trail through the Everglades to Naples, Sanibel and Pine Island. Next, we stopped in St. Petersburg. We’ll be in St. Petes for awhile since it is a great central location for many interesting and beautiful places. Now, that’s what I call participation! We will pick back up the rest of UR’s itinerary after NOLA.

Speaking of NOLA. The type of cancer I have is called carcinoid. I have Carcinoid Syndrome, which means that it is throughout my body and causes strange symptoms like flushing and wheezing. I plan on living a very, very long time with this disease, but it does need to be tended. The leading Neuroendicrine tumour specialists in the world are in Kenner, LA, a suburb of New Orleans, at the Oschner Clinic. The doctors there have been kind enough to agree to see me. I have been having a lot of bloodwork done along the way, and let me tell you, there are all sorts of obstacles the medical community puts in the way of us wanderers, but that’s another story. My scan dates are 7-8 May, and my consultation is 12 May. I will let y’all know how it goes. Obviously, what they tell me will have some influence on our trip. Not much, but some. Please take the time to learn about this often misdiagnosed cancer. It is often misdagnosed. In fact, the symbol for carcinoid is the zebra. “Just because you hear hoof beats doesn’t mean it’s a horse. It may be a zebra”.

Stewart and I are frequently asked about the logistics of an adventure such as ours. How we get our mail? How do we decide where to go? Don’t we miss home? These are just a few of the many questions we are asked all the time. I’m going to devote a few inches of column space to sharing some of the creative ways we are traveling unencumbered.

Our mail is sent to us by our wonderful property manager, Alex Lay. He fields the calls for the water heater, the trees needing trimming, he deals with all the day to day issues that keep our California home running and us worry free. Our mail is sent to his post office box, and he bundles it and posts it to us wherever we are. For those of you who are interested, the US Post Office does provide a service for a small fee that does basically the same thing. The big difference the post office doesn’t look through your mail for junk and items that are better handled by them. Thank you, Alex!

We have two iPhones, and as of a few days ago, a second laptop. The variety of applications available – mostly for free – on iPhone is staggering. We use no fewer than 50 apps on almost a daily basis. Here is a brief rundown of a few:

~The Weather Channel – we use this to see whether the weather suits us somewhere before heading out.
~Maps – The GPS is remarkably accurate. We have had a few funny instances for example, when it directed us into a cemetery. Considering we were in Florida, aka Heaven’s Waiting Room, we found that appropriate.
~Pandora – for those times when there is no local stations other than Rush-types and Christian music. Before anyone blasts me, there is nothing wrong with it. It’s just not our cup of tea. (did I get out of that one unscathed?)
~Shazam – for those times when we know the song, but can’t think of the artist to save our lives. this app actually “listens” to the song and give us the artist and version within seconds. It feels like magic.
~ Notepad – for keeping track of what we do, where we go, what we eat, hear, etc. Much more environmentally friendly than paper, and easier to keep up with since my phone is attached by umbilicus.
~Social Media – I’m just going to bundle Facebook, LinkedIn, Palringo, Skype and Twitter all together here. Tweetie was the one and only app I ever paid for, and at $2.99 it was a steal!
~Have2P – Yes, I know it’s a funny name, but there is nothing funny when we’re in the middle of nowhere and nature comes calling. You gals know what I mean… I see you smiling.
~Public Radio – I can look up any NPR station that broadcasts and listen to my favorite programs. Since we tend to sleep most of the day and stay up all night, I have found a great station in Hawaii that allows me to listen to Morning edition late into the afternoon.
~Offleash – We’re traveling with two very active Wheaten terriers. They are great, but sometimes their energy needs to be released in a major way. this application uses GPS to find us all the dog parks in the area. We have used it countless times – even submitted one that was missing from their list – pay it forward.
~ Stanza – Through Project Gutenberg and others, there are literally thousands of books available free to be read by anyone with access to a computer. I downloaded, for example, Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons a few days before we went to see the movie so that I would have read it in its original before seeing the Hollywood interpretation. Though Brad Pitt was great, F.Scott Fitzgerald was better.
~ AroundMe – I needed a pharmacy today. I tapped the category, and in seconds a list of pharmacies complete with directions appeared. Granted, I still got lost since I failed to look, but it was there for me.
~ TakeMetoMyCar – We were in Key West, and by the time the day was through we had no idea where we had parked. Fortunately, I’d pressed the screen before we walked away that morning, and it took us right to the car.
~TV.com I know it’s a little screen on the iPhone, but when I was stuck in Peregrine without any wifi or TV signal, I watched CSI and How I Met Your Mother in a YouTube-like format. Very cool.
~i.TV – Speaking of TV, wherever we go this app uses GPS to determine our location, and then gives us the local TV and movie listings.
~Music Recording – 4Trak and GigBaby allow Stewart to record four tracks of music so he can play lead, rhythm, bass and slide resulting in beautiful music.
It’s his own mobile recording studio.
~YouTube – We use this primarily for comedy. Every once in a while A Susan Boyle singing I Dreamed a Dream or Adam Lambert singing Mad world comes along, and instead of being out of the loop, we get to indulge over and over until the tears stop flowing. Speaking of tears flowing, there was one particular Youtube video, Ed Needs Bob that led us to collaborate with Jay Koch in developing a new acronym to describe the sort of laughter that doubles you over and makes tears stream down your face. ENB is when ROFLMAO just doesn’t do justice to our fun.

There are many, many more, but you get the general idea. On our (my!) laptop we have a TV tuner card with fits right into a slot in the side. If we happen to have access to cable, it just hooks right up to the card. If we don’t, I know the name of a good electrician (Stewart) who is quite skilled at working the antenna to get us a picture. When all that fails, Pat Bell, also known as @MickeyMouse1105, tweets me what’s happening on American Idol.

The final question regarding missing home is a bit more complex. We have three daughters and two grandsons who we miss desperately. But the reality at their stages of life (ages 29, 24 and 20) they will have about 30 minutes a week for their parents. Should we spend our time stationary in hopes they throw us a bone? We feel that home is wherever we are together. Peregrine is home, but we are each other’s “home”. We have gotten Skype, and have asked the girls to do the same so we can see them as well as hear their voices. If anyone wishes to reach us, our user name is ravenhouse18. Just give us a warning shout so I can put on my Chapstick.

We did a lot of going back to the same places we had already enjoyed in our final weeks in the Keys. Stewart and I cooked and brought in food while I was recovering, so there isn’t a lot to report other than the remarkable care he gave me, as always. There is one place in particular that is a standout, though. Hog Heaven. The food was excellent, and the live music was a real treat. They played reggae with various guest artists joining them for different numbers. the best part was they serve a full menu until 3:00 AM. As many of you know, we just get started around midnight!

Too much fun landed me in back pain hell. Fortunately, I had my iPhone to keep me company. I have gotten really fast on that thing. In fact, I actually prefer it to my laptop. It is fun to watch the auto-correct transform my thoughts into something completely different. Steve Jobs has a really good sense of humour. I am happy to report my back is healing nicely, and I’m back in the saddle, so to speak.

I would like to share the final day I had before being down for the count. Early Thursday morning – ok, it was around 10:00 am – we headed for Miami where we met Vopni (@talkative_mime) for brunch at a little place called Wagon Wheel West. great breakfast. In my opinion, breakfast is the meal most often ruined. The owner, Wally, was so excited when we told him we’d mention him in our blog, he brought T-shirts for the table!

Straight from WWW, we headed over to Whisk Gourmet. Unfortunately, we weren’t hungry, but we still managed to share a piece of the most heavenly chocolate cake I think I’ve had since my mom’s. We actually fought over the last bite! It was so nice getting to see Ryan and Alyson, my cousins. I hadn’t seen Ryan since he was about 14. Now, he’s all grown up and working for Amex. Handsome, too!

That night, Stewart and I went to see Les Miserables at the Actor’s Playhouse in Coral Gables. The playhouse is owned by Larry and Barbara Stein. Coincidentally, when I broke a tooth in March, Larry fixed it for me. He’s both a great patron of the arts and dentist. What a combination. The company included quite a few from the original Broadway production. When Valjean, played by David Michael Felty sang “Bring Him Home” there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. We were, of course, there in our flipflops, but who cares. Magic! Incidentally, another one of my cousins, Staci Schwartz, an accomplished actor, was a part of the Actor’s Playhouse until quite recently when she relocated to our nations capital.

Down in the Keys for the most part our choices for shopping are an outlet store or two, Wal-Mart (where I refuse to shop until they pay their workers a living wage), and Walgreen’s. Spending the day in Miami gave us the opportunity to stock up on much needed supplies. We (Stewart!) had broken a lamp at the home we had rented, and buying a new one seemed a better solution than reporting it.

I am at a stand still.There is so much more to write, but if I wait until I have it all written, I’ll never get this posted! So, I’m going to post this, and then get back to the more interesting aspects of our journey. Please forgive me for not being very amusing this go. Too much to say, too little wifi!

Best of Luck, President Obama!

Today is a momentous day for all Americans, and for the world. For the 44th time, after a contemptuous election season, the transfer of power from one administration to the other, occurred without incident. Granted, Cheney went screaming and kicking, and had to be confined to a wheelchair, but he still went. That is what makes this country stand out as a beacon for so many other nations of the world whose elections are not transparent, and whose rightfully elected officials are blocked from assuming their rightful offices. It’s you, Mugabe, I’m talking to! It is a wonderful thing to witness. Even when we don’t agree with the election results, our candidate doesn’t win, we have an expectation, as Americans, that January 21st we will wake up to a peaceful nation with a new leader. Right on! Now to the latest in our odyssey….

We are still in Dallas, TX. It has been so wonderful to see so many dear friends. My roots run deeper here than I realized. Only after having moved away from Big D, and returning for a visit, do I realize how much of me has always been here – even when I am not. Everyone who has met Stewart immediately opened their arms and hearts to him, making him an honorary Texan. He even got himself a pair of boots and a hat. Every night before bed, I have to assure him he can put them back on in the morning. As we say here, “Bless his heart.”

On New Year’s Day, we were fortunate enough to be the guests of the Honorable John Creuzot as he was sworn in to office for his sixth term. In 1992, I was John’s first campaign manager, and can tell you if ever a man deserved to sit on the bench it is him. Congratulations, John. Of course, the fanciest clothes we have with us are dress flip flops, so off to the stores we went. Shopping at Northpark on New Years Eve was just like old times. Just the sizes were different, and my sister, Nancy wasn’t there to help me pick. With the help of my iPhone camera, she was still able to advise me on my ensemble. As I walked back to the car after the event, I used the power of positive thinking to place one foot in front of the other. I made it to the vehicle without having to remove my high-heel shoes. As the feeling returned to my feet, I could not help but feel at one with those who are tortured with a hammer. Now I remember why I don’t wear heels anymore. Stewart and I took turns watching out for passersby as we changed into our Levi’s and flats (of course, for Stewart it was boots) in the back seat of the car for lunch and a movie with Michael Allison and his partner, Andrew. Overall, a great way to start 2009.

The time has gone by far too quickly. We spent time with so many great friends. Bruce Horton (pictured), jewelry maker extraordinaire; Nancy McClellan, chiropractor and acupuncturist; Mark Perez, attorney at law; John Hitt, Professor of Government, Northlake College; just too many to name. Stewart picked up his 20 year chip, and was a relative newcomer in a room full of people who have been sober since we were in our early teens! We had lunch with my former professor and friend, Emile Sahliyeh, Dean of the International Studies department UNT in Denton. We discussed strategies for peace in the Middle East, and texting while driving. Apparently, Emile thinks texting while driving is unsafe. I explained to him that it is only unsafe for men. Women, on the other hand, are expert at multi-tasking.

Beth and Doug Brown invited us to spend a few days with them in Edom, TX. Beth and I met 20 years ago when we started a women’s group in Dallas. At the time, Beth was making leather goods. She has since moved on to become a very talented potter working with her husband to create remarkable pieces for their shop, Pottersbrown. As soon as we have a home that is bigger than 86 square feet, we will become collectors. They operate on the honor system. If you stop by the shop, and no one is there, just take what you like and leave the money on the counter. Squeaky may be there to greet you. Edom is a small town full of artisans and crotchety old men. If you find yourself in East Texas, it is definitely worth stopping.

For those of you who have been in our landlocked home, you have seen our beautiful artwork. The artist who created several of our pieces is Arie Van Selm. Arie is a Dutch painter and sculptor who is in galleries all over the world. I know him as my friend. He and his wife, Yutta, are having us over Wednesday night. Arie paints at his home, so it is always exciting to see what he is working on. I am looking forward to them meeting Stewart. Don’t be surprised if we end up expanding our collection. His Marilyn (smile) series through the 90’s, has been followed by a series entitled Tango-Birds. Very cool.

Ok, now to the highlight of all our blog entries, Jeffrey and Emma. Oh, for the life of Riley. The two hairiest members of our household are having a blast. Between trips to dog parks and runs through parking structures, they are getting the most out of their time in Dallas. We saw Marley & Me last Saturday, and rushed home to play with them. We took them to a neighborhood dog park where Jeffrey proceeded to herd all the dogs into a group in the center. One of the dogs, a black lab, decided that Jeffrey was pretty cute, and wanted to mate. The look on Jeffrey’s face was priceless!

Nancy McClellan’s loyal dog of 18 years, Honey, passed away Sunday morning, so Jeffrey and Emma decided that their reason for being was to shower Nancy (yes, shower with saliva) with love and affection. It is
difficult to stay sad in the company of these two canines. Of course, Nancy gave them doggie ice cream, and many, many treats. They are so easily bought.

We are off to Palm Springs, CA on Thursday for Stewart’s mom, Ginger’s 75th birthday. Nancy has generously offered to keep Jeffrey and Emma for us while we are gone. I can only imagine how spoiled they will be when we get back. I’ll keep you posted.