Getting More Personal

The name of my blog, Searching for Seaglass, is really a metaphor for how I would like to enjoy my life.  The "seaglass" is the beautiful, colorful experiences found amongst the shards of the sharp glass of daily life.  

Some of the seaglass in my life:


I have had horses for most of my life and This is Lookaway's Tell Me Why - aka Chester - my beautiful 20 year old Morgan gelding. He is the smartest horse I have ever had and I just adore him. He can go hunt seat and saddle seat and was taught to drive a buggy many years ago.  I bought him when he was 2 and with the help of a horse trainer, we broke him to ride. I was the first person on his back and am the person who usually rides him.  He is so responsive I almost have to just think a command for him to react. He is also kind of naughty, but that is what I like about him.

Chester loves Buddy. He will gently chew on him and groom him like he does to Gracie. This is a behavior that horses do to each other and apparently to other animals they like as well.

My husband Pat with Gracie Belle. This lovely Quarter-Arab Mare came to us with a profound distrust and fear. We have worked very hard and she has become a very loving member of our family.  We bought her for Pat but he doesn't ride much.  I am currently trying to get Gracie to load in the trailer. She is very fearful of tight spaces but we are getting there. Slowly but slowly.

Cooper James Flanigan joined our family via Atlanta Lab Rescue.  He has the true, gentle Lab heart -  very sweet and loyal.   We just adore him.  Last November, our beloved black Lab Sweetie crossed the Rainbow Bridge at age 15. We all miss her terribly but Cooper did most of all.  But then about six months ago, Buddy showed up at our farm.  He was microchipped but his former owner did not respond to our calls.

As you can see, they are real pals.   My husband was not excited about adding Buddy to our brood, but he stayed and wormed his way in.  

Buddy Boodles (right) is very young and is currently undergoing obedience school. He is very sweet but he has a horrible habit of suddenly running away if he is off leash outside - so basically he doesn't get to play off leash at the moment.  This is kind of a pain, but we are working through it.

We have several breeds of chickens including:  Rhode Island Red, Wyandotte, Buff Brahma, Seabright, Americauna, Americauna Bantam, several types of Polish (Tophats), Silkies, Mille Fleur d'Uccles and a recently adopted Barred Rock.

I challenge you to deny Silkies are the most adorable things ever!

The Milles are pretty stinking cute too. And very talkative.

A few of our "girls" and two roosters taking a dust bath. We are absolutely in love with our chickens. We thought chicken people were crazy until we joined their ranks. Now we get all the fuss.

AND chickens leave you presents!

Fortunately, our whole family are BIG cat lovers.  We have a Burmese named Beau.

He has many nicknames including The String (he loves to chase string), Squats and Shtinkus and Minkus... among others. I just can't help but nickname things - including friends...

Beau has so much personality that many people meet him and decide they like cats after all.

This is the sweet Shelly or Miss Pants.  I found her when she was a very tiny kitten and she had wandered in a busy intersection.  She will be 16 this year and is doing great.

We call Shelly "the Christmas kitten" because she loves that holiday - especially all the boxes and wrapping!

Hazel is a very unique kitty. She was given to us by our vet because she needed to be an outdoor cat. She seems opposed to using a litter box. I call Hazel "Patimus" or "Miss Cat" and she is very special to me - despite her crazy peccadillos.  She is about 15 -17 years old.

Another kitty that showed up at our farm one day is Woots.  He is absolutely a dream cat. I have many nicknames for Woots including: Tooshie, Tootbag, CatDog, Tooshicle and Wooshie.  Woots is better at coming when called and healing than are our dogs. He loves to be held more than any cat I have ever had. He wants me to hold him when we walk the dogs or just walking around the farm.

Here is Woots acting like a pillow for our beloved Sweetie.  He is so gentle but he does not like it one bit when Cooper and Buddy roughhouse. If there is any growling involved, he will shoot across the yard and knock them apart.  We call it "Tootbag Justice" and say "The Sheriff is in Town".

Woots is an outdoor kitty but likes to come inside and chill for a bit from time to time. He gets along with Beau and Shelly, our indoor cats, but he prefers outside.  When it is really cold, he sometimes sometimes sleeps outside, but mostly he'll pop in for a quick visit and back out!

This is my little Scoots or Scootbag. He showed up as a kitten last January and fit right in with our two outdoor kitties. He and Woots are big pals and everything was fine until he suddenly disappeared one month ago July 31. He was much bigger than this picture and my husband doesn't think a coyote could have snuck up on him because he is quite skittish. I am so worried maybe an owl or something else got him but I keep praying he will come back.  I call him every day and night.

This is our Chinese Red Pheasant Charlie.  He showed up wandering around in the woods across from our farm about 12 years ago. I was worried someone would shoot him for sport so I stalked him for two weeks with food and treats.  My long-suffering husband said if I caught him, he'd build him a coop. I don't think he believed I would catch him but I knew I would.  And using a small animal trap, I did!  He is very gentle and eats from my hand but pheasants are skittish by nature.  He is also very aggressive and will kill other birds housed with him. We found out the hard way when we bought him a mate and he killed her and their offspring.

This is Bird and he has a wife named Birdette. He is pretty tame but she is crazy.  I bought them from a breeder in California and they were shipped via USPS. Pretty crazy way to get birds...

This is Tiny Turtle, a Russian tortoise that belongs to our son Sean.  He is in college so we are taking care of her - maybe forever!  Sean always loved turtles and had a pet box turtle when he was little (also named Tiny).  This Tiny has at least doubled in size since we bought her.

Cooper was very interested in Tiny but she was more concerned with digging. I take her outside from time to time for exercise and vitamin D. Even though she has heat and basking lamps, nothing is better than the real thing. Later today, I need to move her in to a larger aquarium. Our other son had some tropical fish at school last year and he rehomed them so we have a very large aquarium just waiting for Tiny!


I have to be honest.  I had never given Portugal a lot of thought as a travel destination. I knew it was next to Spain and  Port Wine was from there.  But I just didn't consider Portugal as much as its more "vocal" European counterparts - England, France, Italy, Germany and the like.

Fortunately for my husband Pat and I, some very good friends moved to Portugal for an ex-pat year and as they are some of the best traveled folks we know, we figured if  they were crazy about Portugal we would be also.

Our wonderful, generous and gorgeous friends Mark and Andi, played hosts to us for the first week of our trip.  We knew it was going to be great when we were picked up at the airport and went straight to one of Mark's favorite seafood joints in Lisbon - Romero's.

Dish after dish arrived at the table - smokily grilled Langostinos, succulent rock shrimp lolling in a butter-garlic bath and juicy BARNACLES!  We really enjoyed the truly fresh taste of the sea in these unusual creatures.

The Portuguese have created a word that describes a feeling of deep emotional nostalgia and melancholic longing for something or someone that one loves: Saudade.  We experienced this national saudade in their food, wine, music and friendship.  We understand the saudade in Portugal.  We also experienced "Obrigado". Much more than saying "Thank You", Obrigado means a gratitude, thankfulness, or appreciation as a feeling or attitude in acknowledgement of something one has or will receive. We received and gave Obrigada many times each day.

The Portuguese were some of the world's first real and true explorers and this map at the Monument to the Discoveries illustrates the travels of Portugal's great explorers and all the nations which were former Portuguese colonies - it was the first global Empire.

Today the Portuguese people experience a bit of that Saudade for their past worldly prominence by celebrating through architecture, their food and music.

Lisbon is a very exciting seaport city with a variety of distinct areas that highlight shopping, history, cosmopolitan living and exciting dining.

One of the things we enjoyed most was trying new foods.  After walking around the Alfama, Lisbon's oldest district, we popped in to a little hidden cafe called Canto da Villa.  The food was good but most memorable to me were these incredible grilled, salted peppers that are enjoyed as an appetizer.

Not hot, but with a little bite, these peppers are an addictive treat. I wish I could find out what variety of pepper they are.  For now, they will remain a wonderful memory.

Europe's beautiful churches and cathedrals are always a highlight and Portugal's did not disappoint. Particularly haunting was Carmo Convent.  It was destroyed in the great 1755 earthquake and only the walls remain.  There are still plaques on the wall to former worshipers and in honor of naval heroes and explorers.

A great way to finish a day in Lisbon is a visit to Pasteis de Belem, the creators of the Pastais de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts).  They are addictingly good; especially when sprinkled with powdered sugar and enjoyed sitting on a bench in the nearby park.

Our friends had rented a gorgeous contemporary home in the lovely village of Sintra.  During their year there, they became close friends with many local people and in fact, Mark is currently on a golf trip to England with some Portuguese buddies.

One really lovely part of village life are the local watering wells, where residents bring their water jugs and fill them with crystal clear, pure spring water. This still happens today.

Cafe da Natalia in Sintra was our friend's favorite local hangout. Mark would go there every day (sometimes more than once!) to delight in their Portuguese Salame - which is a log made from chocolate, butter, sugar and pieces of Maria cookies, cooked and sliced into pieces. The cut pieces resemble salami - hence the name salame. Four of us consumed almost all of the above dishes in one memorable breakfast...

Next:  The Moorish Castle, Castle Pena, Quinta da Regaleira, Ericeira,  Evora, Vila Nova da Gaia, Porto and the Duoro Valley.


UK Graduation Trip in Photos - Part II

We moved on from London to the picturesque Cotswolds. We rented a cottage in the lovely village of Blockley, right outside of Chipping Camden. It was about 5 km from the village of Snowshill where I stayed with my parents and sister when my sister and I graduated from Clemson all those years ago.

 Our little cottage in Blockley.  It was wonderful with pheasants and huge fat pigeons visiting every day.
These are the ruins at Kenilworth - one of my favorite of all tourist destinations.  This is the great hall.The floor would have been at the bottom of the windows and then the servants would have made preparations down below . 


Very old grafitti.  I normally detest grafitti but I do like seeing where people from ages past have "left their mark" - I just don't want people to continue to deface buildings.  What a grouch - I know.
The River Avon behind Warwick Castle

My favorite guys on a bridge on the Avon.  So peaceful.

Ruins at Warwick.

                                  Warwick is a medieval castle built  by William the Conquerer.  During its  950 years it has been owned by 36 different families plus four different crown periods under six different monarchs. It has been involved in countless battles and wars including the War of the Roses and Hundred Years War and it eventually came to be a country home before being a National Historic Property.  Winston Churchill came to visit here as a young man and the castle has a dungeon where torture was carried out in the middle ages.  It is a fascinating place to visit.

Many pheasants wander freely at Kenilworth. Pheasantries are common in England.