Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I swear, Chicago = Chaos

Have you ever tried coordinating someone else's travel plans, long distance?  Have you tried doing it with them routed through ORD/O'Hare airport?  It's a good thing I seem to thrive on chaos, because that is what today has been...chaos.

My dear Mom, is returning to her home, from visiting my sister in the South.  She was supposed to fly to ORD, change planes with 90-120min on the ground between flights, and land at MCI in the afternoon, to be met by a family friend and driven home.  That was the plan.

Note the past tense in that last sentence.  Her flight to ORD was delayed 45min on the ground at the originating airport.  This left her about 20min real time to make her connection, at 84yrs old, and being pushed in a wheelchair (because they put everyone in a chair if you ask for boarding assistance).  AFTER she was airborne, I learned that her connecting flight had been canceled.  Yep.  No plane for her to catch at ORD.  Her luggage had been booked through to MCI, so who knows where that will end up?

I spent some quality time on the phone with the airline, only to learn that yes, the connecting flight was canceled, the next was full, the second would fly her to Charlotte NC to catch yet another flight to MCI, landing some time late at night.  Not acceptable.  I managed to snag the last seat on a 8:00pm direct flight from ORD>MCI.  Now how to tell Mom, who turns off her cellphone at airports and in planes?  Remember, by now she is airborne, and does not yet know her connection was canceled.

I call my sis and tell her the gory details.  I call Mom's ride home to tell her, only to find that friend has to take a family member to the hospital...and the lines there are horrendous today apparently.  Eventually Mom turns on her phone in ORD, apparently because she discovered to her dismay that the plane was not there to take her home.  On her own then, she managed to get booked on a different sub-carrier from ORD>MCI at an earlier time, totally disrupting the plans I had made on the fly for her to get home.  But her ride home from MCI is still stuck in the hospital, trying to get someone admitted.  Now I need to find another person to meet Mom at MCI.

The friend calls me.  I call Mom.  Again.  And again--bad cell coverage in ORD apparently.  I tell Mom that she needs to call some of her other friends for a ride home, since friend #1 is still stuck at the hospital.  Mom calls some other friends and manages to get a promise one of them will come meet her earlier flight.  Around that same time I learn much to my shock and surprise, that the KC Royals are in the American League Wildcard Playoff game!  IN Kansas City no less...OMG!  I think Hell must've frozen over!  Go Royals!  Who'da Thunk It?  So I am sure the traffic getting to and from MCI will not be 'ideal' shall we say?

Anyway, the chaos has damped down for now.  Mom is safe in ORD, awaiting her flight, probably reading a book or crocheting an afghan (blanket, not person).  She said she had a candy bar and a bag of Chex Mix with her, and some cash, so she shouldn't starve I guess.

Now, what should I fix for dinner?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dark chocolate bacon cupcakes!

Dark chocolate bacon cupcakes!  Recipe given to me in an Allrecipes magazine, from my mom.  Thanks mom!

Click on the pictures to enlarge.  That way you can read the recipe.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Wall of Aid

Some of you may have wondered what I meant in a previous post about the First Aid Bathtub.  Due to having three kids, and a relatively active lifestyle (and a former Life Flight Paramedic friend), we have accumulated over the years a sizable quantity of first aid supplies.

The problem with this plan, was a master bath with insufficient storage space (i.e. nearly none), and a Garden Tub that we do not use very often.  Thus, the Garden Tub became the default storage location for the first aid gear.  And it earned the name the First Aid Bathtub.

This was not the best storage and organization system in the universe.  Things tended to migrate downward, and get buried, only to be repurchased, sometimes multiple times, when in fact we had plenty of "it".  Except for bandaids....but that's another story, entitled Olivia, the Bandaid Princess!

Once, while brainstorming what to do about the master bath, we concluded we wanted shelves on the long wall over the tub.  Unfortunately, due to shoddy construction practices in NTX, the interior studs are NOT on 16" centers.  In a 58" long wall, there were two studs in the corners, and two others somewhat randomly placed in between.  Makes it difficult to hang shelving brackets.

Yet we persevered, and thus the Wall of Aid was born!

 It is all sorted and organized, neatly labeled, and not so high up that I cannot reach it!  And yes, all that stuff (sans the clear tubs) was IN the Garden Tub, along with a space heater, and two large first aid nylon bags.
And for those who care to know, here is a pic of the trim color. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Home Improvement Project

Nothing so involved as my blogger friend Six has done in remodeling his home, but we did decide we were tired of the Three Musketeers Nougat* colored walls in the master bath.  It was time to paint the Reading Room!

We had attempted to find the right paint a year ago with no success. Our wall wore two sample squares of too yellow paints.  But DH got inspired recently and we found at last a paint and trim color we both liked.   New shelving was acquired, to provide space for the contents of the First Aid Bathtub. Clear plastic tubs were bought, to better see and organize the First Aid supplies.
The bathroom and all its accumulated clutter was emptied and cleaned.  Then it was time for the heavy duty "hiding" primer.  It works pretty well, and soon the nougat walls were buried under a layer of cool white paint. 

After cutting in the new wall color, DH began to roll it on the walls.  So far the paint has gone mostly on the walls, and not too much on us.  Oh and I managed NOT to deglove my ring finger, when my ring snagged on the top of the shower door track.  Ouch!   It is bruised a bit more than I expected, and I wisely removed the ring before it got swollen, but it would have been wiser still to have removed the rings before I started at all.

It's pretty difficult with the cellphone, to get a good idea of the new color, called Fresh Cotton, by Valspar.  The trim is not yet done, and will be a sort of honey-tan color.  Dark enough to offset the  main color, but not so dark as to be too bold.  That will get done tomorrow, and shouldn't take more than half an hour or so.  Then to cut and prime and paint the shelves, and hang them over the bathtub, ready for the onslaught of first aid supplies.

* The bath has been this color since we moved in, 11 years ago.  We did not paint it!  You should see the master bedroom color...It's the color of the gills on underside of a mushroom.  Yeah, that dark!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Book of Barkley - A Review

Before I gush all over myself praising this book, let me just say I wish I wrote half as well as LB does.  If I could, I could make a good living at it!

The Book of Barkley...a book about one woman's black Labrador Retriever.  I'm a dog person...I more than "get it" when it comes to loving a dog, and what they can mean to you, their human.  But WOW!  LB has truly scripted a wondrous tribute to Barkley, and in doing so, brought out many aspects of growing up in the latter 20th century America.

This book touches on childhood bonding, adoption, love, faith, loss, broken hearts, and dog hair.  And bacon.  Always bacon.  And the JATO-like qualities of a canine digestive tract.

LB has a gift for light humor, as well as a gifted touch for the more heartbreaking aspects of life.  Barkley was both Court Jester of her home, and Counselor, the one being she could talk to any time, about any thing, even those things she could not tell her closest family.

Add to it, that LB is quite the photographer, sharing many photos of Barkley that could not be printed in the book (no pictures to keep costs down).  These photos and expanded stories are available on the Book of Barkley Blog. It's a site well worth investigating, especially for the photos of a handsome Lab.

This is a book about a life well lived--one human , one canine.  I am honored to consider LB a friend, though we have yet to meet in person.  LB, I want to thank you for sharing your stories of Barkley with us all, and for making my Christmas gift shopping so much simpler!  If you enjoy quality prose, and love a good dog, then this book is for YOU!

The Book of Barkley is available on Amazon (Kindle and paperback) and B&N Nook (and paperback) and on iTunes.  There should be a link in my side bar for Amazon, or you can go to the Book of Barkley Blog for more links in those other formats.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The rest of the weekend

There was still weekend left over after the Balloon Fest event ended.  There was also a lot of stuff that needed doing around the house.  DH hasn't been able to help out as much as he normally would, since his hip/pelvis is still very painful after the bike crashes, and this restricts his mobility.

Nevertheless, we started tackling the jobs around home after Sunday worship.  There was a plumbing job that needed doing, and an auto repair too.  To wit, one toilet was out of commission, and in a house of 5, being down to one working toilet is a bit of a crisis...just saying.  And the van desperately needed new rear shocks, which would improve handling and towing.

Now, I am the house-plumber in the family, while DH is normally the electrician.  We both work on cars, provided the job isn't too major.  Rear shocks on a Toyota Sienna are relatively simple.  Fixing a toilet usually isn't a major repair either...until you bust something you need.

We ended up starting in on the van before I tackled the plumbing.  I had intended to be the one working under the van to make it easier for DH.  But sometimes there is no substitute for muscle, so DH ended up under the van and doing most of the grunt work in spite of the pain.

It did take loading all three Monkeys and DH into the back of the van though, to compress one spring enough to get the shock seated properly.  Not a big deal, and after than it all went like clockwork.  A quick drive around the subdivision confirmed everything was reassembled ok, and that was enough to level the rear shocks to normal ride height.

Onto the plumbing.  All was going well until I encountered a fitting I couldn't loosen.  DH wedged himself between the plumbing and the sink cabinet and managed to loosen it for me.  Unfortunately for him, getting UP from there proved problematic, and irritated things internally.  During this, one of the internal bits in the tank I had not intended on replacing, broke.  Great.  I tried to Southern Engineer a fix with gutter sealant, but no joy.  It refused to set up firm enough to hold, but leaked slow enough to make the unit useable, at least in the short term.

Monday was DH's orthopedic consult.  This isn't as bad as it could be, since we both really like our ortho surgeon.  He's done quite a few repairs on us both (getting old sucks, but it beats the alternative!).  Once in, and the Xrays examined, Doc came in and began to poke and prod DH.  "Show me where it hurts.  What does it hurt like?  Here?"  as he pushes a thumb into DH's hip.  "No,that doesn't hurt."  "Oh?  How about here?" as he sticks his thumb higher up and more to the side.  I watch as DH suppresses a howl of agony, and restrains himself from decking the doctor he actually likes.  I note that the painful point is NOT DH's main point of contact with the ground.  After this, Doc simply says, "MRI time."

Monday evening saw me back doing the plumbing gig.  We had purchased the needed part after the Ortho doc appointment, and there was time between dinner and the MRI to get it done.  This time it went off without issue, and the Monkeys are happy to have a working toilet again, and so am I.  I'm not sure why so many folks think household plumbing repairs are hard/awful.  I understand copper pipe to be more difficult, but here, it's all PVC tinker toy stuff.  I might not 'enjoy' resetting a toilet on a new wax ring, but having seen it done, I could do it if needed.  And any other toilet repairs have no 'yuck' factor.

So Monday night, late, found us both sitting in the MRI office waiting room. At least they have a Keurig knockoff, and lots of tasty cookies for folks to raid.  It took an hour or so to finish up and then we left with a disc of DH's finely sectioned innards.  MRI's are kinda cool, especially if you once entertained ideas of becoming a body mechanic (aka doctor/surgeon).  We now just wait for the radiology report, and to hear from the Ortho again on what all is going on in there.

So, what level of household repairs do you tackle?

YAY!  The good news is there are NO fractures in DH!  However he is badly bruised, and it will take a fair bit of time to heal him.  He will be out from work for a bit longer,

Monday, September 15, 2014

Balloon Fest...sort of!

This past weekend was one of the local hot air balloon festivals.  Always a pretty sight, the balloons that is, the kids and I were committed to help out our friends at TIRR for the Dog Adoption Rally held during the balloon fest.

Friday afternoon was designated the set-up time, and we got there just before 1pm.  Unfortunately for the whole event, it was cold, windy and rainy all afternoon!  Cold enough to want a coat!  Well, it was about 62*F, but when you consider the 25mph east wind, and rain, it was cold.  It was also 40* cooler than it had been the day before!   Talk about temperature shock...

The dogs had it better than the people I think, since they had the crates covered with tarps to keep the rain out.  The first day there were only a few dogs both at TIRR, and at the other rescues that were setting up.  Saturday was more crowded, and better weather.  There were also more groups set up with more dogs, so it was a bit barkier the second day. 


The four shown above were just some of the Ridgeback mixes we were showing at the festival.  The purebreds were shown on Saturday, including showing off my baby, Indy, and my good buddy, Tucker!  Tucker is the King of Chairs...

Tucker, King of Folding Chairs.

I decided Saturday, to take Indy out with us.  For one thing, I wanted to show him off to the folks at the county shelter, so they could see how well he is doing with us.  I also wanted to expose him to new sights, sounds and smells.  This perhaps was not my brightest idea...

We knew Indy can be a bit spooky at times, afraid of brooms (guess somebody chased him with a broom at some point), moving cars (he must've come close to being hit at some point before the dog catcher saved him), and now since Balloon Fest, we are pretty sure somebody took a potshot or two at him.
Indy emulating Tucker.
Apparently the festival had brought in a group of cowboy re-enactors, to stage a gunfight (with blanks of course).  DH and I were walking Indy around the show, when the shooting started, and he freaked out.  4th of July didn't seem to bother him much in town, but the blanks at Balloon Fest really scared him.  So much so, that I am pretty sure some farmer/rancher has taken potshots at Indy when he was running stray.  He bears no sign of ever having been hit by pellets or rock salt, but he sure knew that sound.  Oddly enough, two other dogs at TIRR, reacted just the opposite to the mock gunfire.  Rodney and Rowdy both pricked up their ears, and spun around in their crates, at the sound to see where it came from, and were all excited, not scared.  I suspect they had been positively exposed to gunfire, perhaps in preparation for use as a hunting dog.

Finally, by the time Dog Alley ended Saturday afternoon, the winds had calmed enough for the balloonists to begin to inflate the hot air balloons.  They are so pretty, and it is fun watching them.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

To Track, Or Not To Track...

That is the question.  With the obvious and not so obvious amount of information on each of us, that the government and other interested parties maintain, legally or otherwise, why would you consider adding a tracking program to your own repertoire?  Primarily I speak of those systems that are cell phone driven.

Do you transit through unsavory areas on your way to and from work?  Do you like to 'play', out in the county on rural roads or trails, hiking or biking, or riding horses?  Do you have a plan or two, just in case something bad happens?

As someone who bikes the rural roads of North Texas, as does DH, we have opted to make use of a couple of Android tracking programs, Glympse and Real Time Tracker 1 and 2.  They operate differently, and each has its own advantages.   For cycling we tend to use Glympse the most.  DH sends me a text with a Glympse URL in it, which connects me to their server.  This allows me to see where he is, on his commute home, or county ride, especially helpful if he is calling for a pick up.  With Glympse, the sender chooses who can see the track, and how long the system will track you.  This allows you a lot of control over your info.

When I do a tailwind ride, I usually send him a Glympse when I am about a hour from being done.  That gives him time to head out from home, and chase me up the road until he catches up, then we load the bike and head home.  When I got run off the road last year, I had Real Time Tracker 1 running.  Though I was able to call DH and tell him where I had crashed, had I been unable to call, he would have been able to find me via RTT1.

Which brings me to this week and why I choose to use the tracking programs I do.  Tuesday, DH was riding home from work, on his evening commute.  He always sends me a Glympse when he leaves work, so I can follow his ride home, and to better time when I make a protein smoothie for him.  We've done this so often that I know when he should be at a certain point, and how fast he should normally be moving.  So Tuesday, as he sprinted through a narrow construction zone, to allow the cars behind to pass safely, his cleat pulled free of the pedal, causing him to crash at a speed of about 23mph.  No cars were involved.  But what I saw was his icon come to an abrupt stop in the middle of a high traffic intersection.  I knew immediately something was not right.  His speed did not pick back up.  The icon didn't move.  Before he even had time to call me, I was heading out the door to the point of the crash.  Then he called, giving me some tension relief, as I knew he was still amongst the living! 

The crash resulted in a trip to the doc-in-a-box e-care that we drive by all the time.  There, they were able to clean out the deeper wounds (can you say chainring imbedded in your leg anyone?), bandage him up, and administer a tetanus shot too.  For those of you who want to see the gory post-wreck photos, you can go to DH's blog,  and read all about it.

Fast forward to Friday, when I was at the hospital for a test.  DH had gone out on the recumbent for a nice easy ride, staying fairly close to home.  Suddenly my phone chimes, with another Glympse link.  Yeah, a second crash, this one caused by an expansion crack in the pavement, which trapped the wheels on the bike and threw DH to the ground.  More lost skin, more bike damage, and what we were afraid might be a cracked pelvis or hip.  Eventually, xrays were used to rule out any fractures, and DH's regular doc gave him the cheery news that a deep bone bruise like he sustained would probably take longer to heal than had he actually fractured a bone...(assuming no surgery).  So DH is at home this weekend, trying to get healed up enough to go back to work tomorrow.    Wish him a speedy recovery, via his blog, if you would please?  He could use all the support he can get.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Old Friends

With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel.

Old friends,
Sat on their dog couch
Like bookends.
A newspaper blown through the grass,
It must be barked at
quite loudly,
By the old friends.
Old friends.
Winter companions,
The old dogs,
Lost in their furcoats,
Waiting for the sunrise.
The sounds of their barking,
Sifting through trees,
Settle like dog hair,
On the noses,
Of the old friends.
Can you imagine us
Years from today,
Sharing this dog bed quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seven times, human years.
Old friends,
Memory brushes the same ears,
Silently sharing without fears... 

Time it was
And what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of walks and thrown balls.

Long ago it must be,
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They're all that's left you.