Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to one and all.

The Miner family is happy and healthy here in Georgia. Our big news for the year is that we've started building a new house in Mount Vintage Plantation, a golf community located on the South Carolina side of the Savannah river, but still part of the region surrounding Augusta known as the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA).

Lisa's main occupation for the last year has been designing the new house.  She produced the plans herself on her iMac and is maintaining a "Construction Central" section on her website to document the building process.  As we go to press, the framing is mostly done and the gunite is in for the pool.  We expect to move in sometime next spring.  Our lot at Mount Vintage looks over the green of the 19th hole, which traditionally has been Steve's best.  The "new nine" officially opened on March 14 to go along with the original 18 holes of the golf course.

Besides working on the house, Lisa has also been active with ladies' clubs and gardening groups.  She runs the web site for the Augusta Area Newcomers Club, and once again organized their annual English Garden Tea with her friend, Ruth. She also volunteered to help with the local Alzheimer's Memory Walk as a way to remember her mother. The Suburban Woman's Club of Augusta recently invited Lisa to join and she was also happy to accept membership in the Cherokee Rose Garden Club, which complements her volunteer work with the local Master Gardeners.  She and Ruth went on a bus trip to Callaway Gardens together and she has dragged Steve to numerous nurseries in her quest to find interesting and unusual plants for the Mount Vintage garden.

The dogs are doing well. Heidi (the Belgian Malinois) enjoys her short walks around the neighborhood. Cleo (the Great Dane) is full grown at about 115 pounds and needs long walks every day. She has a new best friend next door. Jenny (a boxer mix) moved in when her family bought the house earlier this year. Cleo was a bit shy at first but now they have a great time running and jumping on each other. Heidi can't take the rough housing so she stays home while the young kids play.

We made several trips to North Carolina to take care of the old house (still for sale) and vacation at the beach.  Steve visited California to see his family just for a weekend back in January.  Our only real vacation (that means one without the dogs) was a trip to Athens, GA, home of the Georgia University Bulldogs.  Downtown reminded us a bit of Palo Alto.  After a lengthy walk around the campus, we finally discovered the trial gardens and were excited to meet  Professor Allan Armitage (a famous horticulturist) there. He graciously gave us a tour of the gardens and greenhouse and gave Lisa a test plant from the greenhouse.  

Steve's company has gone through a few changes with some friends leaving and new management coming on board, but his work is pretty much the same. He shipped a release of his communications equipment simulation software to good reviews from the customer. Steve was very fortunate to attend the Monday practice round at the Masters golf tournament this past April. In September, he got an iPod touch and loves it. He plans to write some software for the iPhone and Touch. Steve started playing volleyball again in a league in Augusta. He's the oldest guy in the gym (many of the players are half his age) but they've been very nice to him. One night, he wore a colorful tank top (a gift from Lisa because it was too big for her) and the guys on his team thought it was so cool that they named the team after it: "Jazzercise!". Nothing like having fun with the old man.

No miracle wins this year for Stanford football. They had their chances to get a bowl game (especially against Notre Dame and UCLA), but they couldn't quite make it. Harbaugh has done a pretty good job, and they're expecting an excellent recruiting class next year, including a kid from Bellarmine (Central Coast Section champions). Plus, it will be Steve's 25th reunion so we're hoping for a good year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Steve and Lisa (and Heidi and Cleo)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Putting up walls

We visited our new house today, just in time to see the 1st floor walls going up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Shooting the Gunnite

I watched the guys build my pool today - noisy, dirty and lots of fun. Here are some highlights.

Brick laying

I got to lay a brick today, while they were pouring the pool.

Friday, October 31, 2008


A slight departure from the usual this year with the pumpkin carving:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Basement walls

The basement walls are mostly up - now working on the ceiling which requires a big beam - and is therefore taking some time!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Slab, block and plumbing

They poured the slab, started on the block walls, and put in the basement plumbing.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Street sign

We have a street sign - our new address will be 83 Beaver Pond Court.

Update: Here's a map.


The foundation for the block walls has been poured.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Concrete wall poured

The front concrete wall has been poured - of course I missed the action.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Construction Begins

After months of revisions of the plans, we have finally begun construction - although at this point it is more like destruction. There were no trees to take down, but a lot of dirt to dig out for the basement.

A "Construction Central" section has been set up on to show progress over the next few months.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another tropical garden

We visited the garden of Mary Alice Woodrum - a mix of tropicals, conifers and so much more.


Friday, July 18, 2008

July 2008

We spend the 4th at Mount Vintage - it is becoming a tradition. Then the following week we went to North Carolina for a few days and visited Brookgreen Gardens again.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Athens, GA

Steve and I took a trip to Athens, GA this weekend. We stopped for lunch at a quaint hotel in Washington, and also visited (briefly) Goodness Grows, a great nursery, in Lexington. Once in Athens, we took a long walk around the campus, searching for the perennial trial gardens. When we finally found them, surrounding by construction and cranes, we also met Allan Armitage, toured the (empty) greenhouse and received a Rudbeckia fulgida from Mr. Armitage. On the way back to the hotel - nurturing the new plant - we stopped for Ben and Jerry's. For dinner we opted for our favourite tapas and had an enjoyable meal at Casa Mia. On Sunday we drove home, stopping at Piccadilly Farms for more plants and at Maison Bleu in Watkinsville for another good meal.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kishan and Anita's wedding

Kishan and Anita
My young friend from work got married this past weekend. Kishan and Anita grew up in the Augusta area. Both families are Indian so the wedding and reception were interesting cultural experiences for us. For those of you (including my wife) who think Catholic weddings are long, you should try a traditional Hindu wedding. I couldn't follow everything, as my Sanskrit is a bit rusty, but I'd have to say my favorite part of the four hour ceremony was the rite of the Kashi Yatra in which the groom leaves the building (as if on a pilgrimage to become an aesthete) and the prospective father-in-law retrieves him and convinces him to become a family man instead. It's a choice we all have to make at one point in our lives. Congratulations to Kishan and Anita.

(Thanks to Ben for the pictures)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Garden Trip

I organized a trip to the gardens of Susan Wood in Aiken. She has several acres of woodland which are being converted to gardens. We met with her landscape designer and toured the gardens.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

English Garden Tea

We held our annual English Garden Tea on April 22nd. It was at Gail's house. A "spiffing" good time was had by all.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Tragic Cost of Sunday Drivers

Steve wrote a letter to the editor about Georgia's prohibition of alcohol sales on Sundays: The Tragic Cost of Sunday Drivers.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monday at the Masters

As our regular readers know, we live near Augusta, which is famous for being "the home of the Masters". Life here revolves about the golf tournament. Schools are closed, and many residents leave town so that they can rent their houses to corporate bigshots who come to watch "the tradition unlike any other". The tournament is a huge boost to the local economy, especially for hotels, restaurants and golf courses.

The boss at work generously shared a ticket to the Monday practice round with a few of us employees. I got the afternoon slot from 3 to 6 pm. Lisa was kind enough to drive me so that I didn't have to worry about parking.

It was my first time ever at Augusta National so I was really looking forward to it. The weather had been a bit cold in the morning, but it was nice, even unexpectedly sunny, later in the afternoon. My first impression was: Wow, there are a lot of people here! But after not too long I realized that the event was very well organized. The grounds and golf course were absolutely beautiful. I guess that's what everyone says, but it's true.

The Augusta National people want to put on the best golf tournament in the world. They're not worried about maximizing revenue so you don't see a lot of advertising and corporate sponsorships. Prices are reasonable: a beer is only $2. The face value of the practice round ticket is $36. Of course, you have to win a lottery to get a chance to buy practice round tickets. They might be worth ten times that on the street. The actual tournament has been sold out for many years so there's no way to get a ticket unless you know somebody with connections.

Walk-ins enter from Gate 3-A on Washington Road. Players and members have their own entrance so they don't have to queue with the plebs. I arrived fairly late in the day so I imagine that most of the people had seen enough of the players and were looking for souvenirs. The "Patrons Corridor" near the entrance was packed with people overflowing from the Golf Shop. I made my way slowly through the crowds and headed out to the Amen Corner (holes 11 through 13), which are known as some of the most dramatic in golf. I then wandered around the course just to get a feel for the place. Every once I stopped to watch a few golfers play through.

Tiger Woods had played early so I didn't get to see my personal favorite. As many of you know, Tiger and I both went to Stanford. I wore my Tiger hat (courtesy of Buick). That's pretty much where the similarity ends.

I did get to see a few notables such as Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Mike Weir and Geoff Ogilvy. During the practice rounds, the players often hit an extra ball or two just to try things out. They spend a lot of time around the green getting a feel for breaks. It's amazing watching them attempt some of those long puts that follow a horse-shoe path right to the cup.

The 16th hole "Redbud" is a par three across a pond. During the practice rounds the players entertain the crowds by skipping the ball across the pond and onto the green. I saw Woody Austin take about five skips and end up within fifteen feet of the hole. (Maybe I should practice that instead of hitting them high and into the water.)

Towards the end of the day, I camped out at the 18th green ("Holly") as Ernie Els and Retief Goosen were teeing off. I remember thinking to myself that I was standing right next to the green -- I certainly wouldn't risk that if I were playing. A few minutes later, Goosen hit his approach shot into the crowd about ten feet away from me. Fortunately, there were no injuries. Goosen checked that the guy was OK and told him to keep the ball as a souvenir.

I also walked around the club house and practice range. Some areas were roped off to the crowds, but it was fun to see everything even if I couldn't enjoy a cocktail with the members.

It was a great afternoon. I'm very happy I had a chance to go.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Callaway trip

I just got back from an overnight trip to Callaway Gardens - it is the best time to see the azaleas. I went with Ruth on an organized tour. We stayed at Callaway and visited the gardens, but also went to Hills and Dales Estate (very pretty) and Warm Springs - the location of "the Little White House" which was the country retreat of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

See my photos.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Remembering William F. Buckley Jr.

National Review has a memorial page for William F. Buckley Jr., the founder of the magazine and leader of the Conservative movement. WFB died at his writing desk in his home on Wednesday, February 27. He was one of my personal heroes: a great and good man. Rest in peace.