Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I think I might actually be a snowbird at heart.

Even though we aren’t ski racing this winter, I’m still getting all the ski race training updates (once you are on the email list, I think you are on for life). And while Utah is getting pounded with snow (have I mentioned yet that I am getting snow reports from our friends, and I don’t miss the snow AT ALL?), Park City Mountain Resort has not yet opened up the race arena. Which would be where all the racers train. So, they’ve got the first races of the season this weekend (the 3-4th), and the only gate training people will get is two days from 7:30-9am (before the resort opens) on a hill that will be shared with 5 other teams. Which translates to sheer and utter mayhem at best, and often dangerous conditions.

Did I mention that I don’t miss the ski racing thing at all? And the standing around in a lycra suit in sub freezing temperatures not counting wind chill part of things? Not missing that part, either!

It’s supposed to be 75 today. With the wind, it won’t feel that warm, and maybe it won’t even get up into the 70s – maybe it’ll only be in the mid 60s. But we’ve got clear blue skies, and if you’re in the sun, it is downright toasty. This is EXACTLY what I was hoping for when we moved down here. I could pass on the wind; cycling in the wind = not so much fun, but beyond that I’m happy as a clam.

And on that note, I’m going to go sit on the couch in the sun with the puppy.

Oh , and my 10-word New Year’s Resolutions? Walk the dog every day and sometimes fold the laundy. *grin.

Happy New Year’s everyone!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm a running fool. Or something.

I’ve taken up running. Well, let’s be fair and call it jogging. Or lets be really honest and call it “something slightly faster than a slow walk”.

Why, you ask? Especially when I hate it?, it’s hard on the joints, I don’t particularly enjoy it, and I’ve got a couple of fancy-schmancy bicycles just begging to be ridden?

Well, see, we’ve got this puppy. And said puppy is now about 5 months old, and, how shall we say, rambunctious. And while our motorhome is larger than some apartments/dorm rooms I’ve lived in, it’s not quite big enough for a growing puppy to wear herself out. Yes, we walk her, but that’s walking; she’s learning to walk on a leash, and kind of learning how to behave around other people and dogs. And we throw things for her to chase around the motorhome, but there’s not a fenced off area at the RV park to let her loose (we are working on an electronic fence system, but that’s not fool-proof), and while she’s getting better with voice commands, there’s enough traffic around that I wouldn’t risk it.

So, the puppy needs to get out and gambol. And since one of my goals for this winter was to start to get back in shape (let’s just say that I didn’t exercise as much as I should have in the last year, and I’m (as my doctor calls it) “my larger self” (as opposed to being fat, but I think she’s just being politically correct)), I’ve started taking the puppy on jogs.

We’ve got a closed road that goes for about a mile along the Colorado River (as the road goes north, toward the dam, it is, well uphill…). So yesterday, Fi and I jogged to the end of the road and back. Yes, two whole miles. The good news is that it did wear her out. The not-so-good news is that it wore me out; too. I’ve been doing strength training and core exercises in my makeshift home gym (which actually works fairly well; and I just got in the mail a couple of books that have pilates and strength-training exercises that work specifically with an exercise ball), and some bicycling.

But bicycling isn’t running (or jogging, or doing some exercise that involves moving one’s feet at a pace that elevates one’s heart rate, and increases one’s breathing). And by the time I got done with my two whole miles, I felt like my legs were going to fall off. Seriously. So I did some stretching, and some other exercises in the hopes of being able to walk today.

And, in all fairness, I could walk today. But I was stiff (and walking up and down the stairs was kind of fun…). And it's not like it is a case of 'having parts that hurt that I didn't even know I had'; I knew I had those parts - they're just squishier than I'd like. So it's good that these parts are sore. But wow, I didn't realize quite how squishy those parts are...

So after cleaning the motorhome (it’s Monday, so it’s time to vacuum, dust, do laundry, change the sheets – oh, wait, that activity was prompted by the cat tracking kitty litter into the bed – and wash blankets – oh wait, that activity was prompted by the cat puking on one of the blankets last night), Fi and I went out again. It’s in the low 60’s but there’s a bit of a breeze (and by that I mean a steady 10mph from the north) so I got dressed and off we went.

I have no idea how fast we go. Based on how I feel, and what I remember from the treadmill, I’m probably plodding along at 4 mph. And given that Fiona wants to go about 10 mph, it’s quite entertaining. Actually, that’s not true. Once she settles down (it takes her about 200 yards to realize that we really are moving slightly fast than a walk, and that it’s okay to put her nose into the wind and go), she actually ‘jogs’ pretty well. She’s moving at no faster than a trot for her, but, frankly, it’s as fast as I can go right now. I keep assuring her that as I get in better shape, she’ll be able to go faster. As it is right now, she keeps looking at me, like “Mom, why won’t you let me run And why am I dragging this 140ish (haven’t stepped on a scale in months, and won’t for many more months) lump behind me? I could go SOO MUCH FASTER if you’d drop the leash”.

Anyway, because this is good for Fi (and me), this is going to be a daily routine. I’ve got new running shoes coming in (my heels were KILLING me yesterday evening… old shoes = no good) tomorrow, and I’m hoping that in another week or so, we’ll be able to up the distance (we can go about another mile in the other direction without having too many traffic issues) – although I don’t ever see jogging more than 4-5 miles at a time. Right now, the 2 is killing me.

But anything for the puppy, right?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa's New Towing Vehicle

It is a widely known fact that I’m crazy. Or at least was probably dropped on my head a few times as a child.

Because I decided that I’d rather go to the grocery store today than on Friday.

Okay, so people forget things, and sometimes you have to go to the grocery store the day before Christmas. You just grit your teeth and do it. Me? If you take as a given that I hate this grocery store with the intensity of ten-thousand fire ants discovering lunch, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the trip to the store today.

Yeah. That’s why I mentioned having been dropped on the head one or more times.

But really. In a store that is always crowded, and where I can never find anything, at least today the store was filled with people who (for the most part) weren’t surly, but were actually polite. People apologized when then ran into me with their carts, tried to make room for 3 carts in a clearly-2-cart-aisle, and actually smiled at me when we were playing chicken near the meat coolers. People were cheery. I guess it’s like what hell would be like if you were with a bunch of strangers who knew that it would only last for 45 minutes, and you’d never see these people again.


Really, it wasn’t bad.

And the best part? For some reason, I have a really tough time finding where I’ve parked my car. I blame this on my mother. I have a psychiatrist, so therefore I can blame things on my mother. Not being able to locate a car in a parking lot is clearly a trait I’ve inherited from my mother. But today? No worries.

Image Hosted by
By drliz

I just had to look for the antlers!

(No, the antlers weren't on my car; my car is the front fender you see in the lower right hand section of the picture. This truck pulled in right after I did, and I was REALLY hoping that she'd stay until I left (so I could find the car....)...)


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Glad Solstice to all! I’m off to wrap presents (my family doesn’t do the whole-family-minus-Gary-and-Liz-who-are-too-far-away-and-couldn’t-handle-all-the-little-kids-anyway Christmas thing until January, so I’ve got plenty of time!) and see about dinner.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The home gym gets put to the test, Day One.

Today was Day 1 with the ‘home gym’ (all sort of relative, given that the home is a motorhome, and the gym is a couple of resistance bands, an exercise ball, a set of weights (3, 5 and 8 lbs), a 10lb medicine ball and 2 ‘poofy things’ (small half balls that are called something clever, but I have always referred to as ‘poofy things’). The exercise ball goes without saying; a zillion different variations on crunches, core strengthening and balance stuff. The weights tie in, as I use weight on the ball, and the resistance bands are mostly for lower body stuff (the weights being upper body stuff, and the poofy things being more balance stuff while doing weights…).

I haven’t really used resistance bands before, and I’m not sure what I think of them yet. My legs were tired when I was done doing various exercises, and my right leg (the leg that had knee surgery years after the injury, and is thus forever just-so-barely permanently atrophied) is certainly weaker than the left. After 1000 miles of cycling, it’s hard to tell a difference (not just visually, which it’s hard to tell anyway, but strength-wise). Looking at my Garmin, I’ve got about 893 miles to go. Unfortunately, it’s raining, and is supposed to rain for the next 3 days, so I don’t think I’ll be making a dent in the 1000 miles…. Which gets us back to the home gym….

It’s a bit of a trick finding room in the motorhome to actually find space to workout. I have decided, however, on the space in the kitchen. If you are standing where I workout, this is what the front of the motorhome looks like:
Image Hosted by
By drliz

Did I mention that I’m not much of a housekeeper? Yeah…. Well. With a little reorganization (mostly moving dog beds), I’ve managed to eek out a space where I can stretch out (although I do have to position myself on the vertical or horizontal axis, based on the exercise…). Unfortunately, I often find myself in Prime Puppy-Face-Licking Position. Try motivating yourself to do crunches when you’ve got a 37lb. beast trying to lick your face off.

So there’s a lot of stopping and starting. Between the puppy, the sick husband requesting tea (we rode yesterday morning, early, so he wouldn’t miss his football games, and he didn’t dress for the fact that it was 55 degrees out…. Now he’s coughing and hacking….. at least he KNOWS he’s a dumbass…. Still, he’d better get healthy by the time the rain lets up), and the old doggie trying new and varying assault tactics on the ‘cat house’(a cupboard under the kitchen sink, where the cat’s food and water are, and his ‘fortress’) it’s not a truly ‘focused’ environment, but on the other hand, I don’t feel the inherent guilt of avoiding my family when I work out. So…. I guess the puppy-licks and requests for tea are a fair trade off.

And tomorrow, we’ll see if I feel the new exercises. Given that I’m starting basically from scratch (i.e. no muscle tone whatsoever…. *sigh), I should feel SOMETHING. If not, I’ll try some other exercises and see if that works. Still, I’m sure that I’ll feel better than just sitting around, watching the rain, reading, and watching Law and Order re-runs….

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Ticket to the Moon"

Heh. I really do amuse myself easily.

I think.

The husband has been working away on his guitar practice (we’ve got a small-scale, but full-blown recording studio in the motorhome, and he can hook his electric guitar, or base, or whatever into the ‘stuff’ (he’s got some high-tech equipment…. Don’t ask me…) and all I hear is the twanging of the string, while through his headphones he hears the fully amplified sound. Meaning I don’t hear the full electric guitar. Which is good, as 42’ is a bit small to share with an electric guitar being played 5+ hours a day.

However, the twanging of the strings is still a bit much when you’re trying to wrestle time travel into fiction. Simple solution? I listen to music. Hell, I wrote my entire dissertation while listening to the Gladiator soundtrack (and lemme tell ya, I think Hans Zimmer is mighty lucky that copyrights only last for so long, because if I was Holst, I’d be finding myself an intellectual property attorney….). Fine. Unfortunately, the computer that held the last 3 years of my music suffered catastrophic failure this spring, and I lost all of my 80’s classic, the Gladiator soundtrack, and much of the showtune music that I’ve managed to collect. The plus is that some of it can be replaced by tracking down the CD’s and reinstalling them on iTunes. The non-plus side is that the rest of the music is on iTunes, and they are a bit cranky about retrieving purchased music.

So, I’ve used this as an excuse to add new music. (Or old music, as the case may; I seem to have pretty much lost touch with music after about 1991…..) And I’ve re-found a few old favorites. Include (yes, it’s true), the ELO album, ‘Time’. I was listening to bits of it, and commented to the husband that I used to listen to this in the early 80s, as I sat in the back bedroom, playing pinball on our Apple II computer. He immediately disputed my sense of time, certain that the Apple II (+, actually) came out much later than that, and that IBM had come out with their PC first.

After a Google/Wikipedia search (which defines truth these days, right?!?), I was able to prove to him that I was playing David’s Midnight Magic on our Apple II + in 1982, and that the ‘portable’ Compaq didn’t come out until 1983. *so there!*

Gah. I’m old. I played Pong. I mean, I actually remember PLAYING pong. Competitively.

And so I won the argument. Neener, neener. But, gah. I’m OLD. I don’t even know how to make my Sims behave. I’m old.

All that said, I’ve got some music I can listen to that will drown out background noise, and let me fouse on attempting to write. (Although if this is all I’ve got to, maybe I should go back to building databases for fun and profit…. But mostly fun… Which is even more sad. “My name is Dr. Liz, and I am a nerd.” (And I mean no disrespect to anyone by that. Srsly.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

I can SEE why they sell liquor at the pharmacy,

Okay, it’s time that I face facts: I’m a snob. Hush, those of you who have known me for years. This isn’t a revelation to me, I’m just more of aware of it sometimes than others. Today just happened to be one of those days….

I was at The Pharmacy of Death ™ this afternoon, and in walks this couple.

Wait, I should back up a few. After a really awful summer, with Awful Things happening, the husband and I decided to take a winter off, and move the RV, the cat, the dogs and ourselves to Arizona for the winter. We had been looking at a variety of ‘snowbird’ destinations in California and Arizona when Gary’s aunt told us that we HAD to go to Fox’s Pierpoint in Parker, Arizona. She and her husband had been going there for literally decades until he passed away last year. So, going on nothing other than the aunt’s recommendation, I made a few phone calls, got a season-long reservation, and we officially became snowbirds. (Except for the fact that neither of us has grey hair, plays bingo, or owns our own golf cart, that is.)

Anyhoo,I made some calls to make sure that we are not ending up in some half-horse town like we did this summer (Stanley, ID, which, I might add, is a place we are going to return to, hopefully every summer, for at least a few weeks, because the place is breathtakingly gorgeous; it’s about a mile down the road from The Middle of Nowhere. The town has a bunch of river rafting/kayaking shops, one grocery store, 3 bars, and an odd little shop that seemed to be a general store of sorts, but always had really fresh lettuce – surprising, particularly in comparison to the rest of the produce. Anyway, no pharmacy, no hospital, no vet; if you needed help you could drive to Sun Valley (40 miles away), or, in case of drastic emergency, get life-flighted out of there. In spite of all of that, it is a gorgeous place, with fantastic mountain biking.) I determined that Parker had a ‘real’ grocery store (I say that now with regret and dismay; I hate Safeway with the intensity of a thousand suns), a ‘real’ pharmacy (to henceforth be known as The Pharmacy of Death ™, for reasons that will be explained shortly), and a vet. It all sounded good; all of our requirements were met, and we were golden.

And believe me, I was feeling all smug-like; not only had I found us season-long site (they were getting scarce in November), but I had located all the important amenities. I had even figured out how to get everything that we couldn’t get there shipped to us. We were so set, and this was going to be the most stress-free trip ever.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes those companies put more in the herbal tea than they are letting on? Or maybe that’s just me…. *ahem.

I’ll leave all the fun of actually getting here, finding our spot, and not having phone service or internet service for another time. Because I really need to meander my way back to The Pharmacy of Death™.

So after we’ve been in Parker for a day, I decide to go into town and drop off the, oh, let’s round down, and say 30 prescriptions that my husband has at the local ‘full service’ pharmacy. This is a big chain pharmacy, and they sell everything from nail polish to liquor. No, really. Apparently, in Arizona, pretty much anyone can sell liquor…. Seriously, I think the lady selling tamales outside of Safeway probably has a liquor license. Okay, maybe she doesn’t, but, well, I digress. I go to the counter of the actual pharmacy, and stand in line while the 2 people ahead of me (actually 3, because one of them had taken a seat – understandably, as I was to later see), are waited on. Much like the Post Office, there are 3 ‘Prescription Drop-Off’ counters , 8 people working behind the counter, and only one person actually serving customers. Cool.

I can’t really bitch about the amount of time that the people ahead of me spent at the counter, as the lady behind me probably plucked a piece of hair from my shirt and went home to her Do-It-Yourself Voodoo Doll Kit and has been plotting her revenge ever since. Because unlike a normal pharmacy, where you can just drop off your prescriptions, have them make a copy of your insurance card and pick up the prescriptions later, this place has the one employee hand-enter Every. Single. Prescription, while you stand there. You would think that there would be a plus to this, though. You would think. I mean, if I am standing there, explaining to the over-worked, under-paid employee, what the insurance will cover on every prescription, and when they can be filled, that the pharmacy staff would get it right. You would think.

Well, you would think wrong.

Having observed the equal level of efficiency on the “Prescription Pick-up” side of the counter, I decided to let the pharmacy take their time (since they had ALL the pertinent information), and I would waltz in, and pick up the prescriptions the next day, avoiding the interminable wait of the poor suckers who had dropped prescriptions off, and then honestly hoped to have them filled within some reasonable period of time, and were actually waiting for them. I was beginning to see why the waiting area of the pharmacy has A. Lot. Of chairs. But again, I digress.

With the woman who had been behind me in line muttering curses at me (at one point, I turned around and cheerfully pointed out that if I were her, I’d hate me; she didn’t find this funny), I left after the hour ordeal at the Prescription Drop-off counter. (Really, it was an hour. Gary has a copy of the text messages that I sent him, that start off with: “This looks like it could take a while”, then move on to: “This is death” and finally end with “I think I may scoop my eyeballs out with the Infant Medication Measuring Spoon” .)

The next day, I returned , full of confidence that I would not be one of the people doomed to the outer ring of the fifth circle of hell (devoted to those customers who have lost patience, and have finally begun hurling invectives – and Infant Medication Measuring Spoons – at the pharmacy employees), also known as the Everlasting Hell Fires of CVS).

Alas, it was not to be so. When I did get to the counter, the technician came back with a handful of paperbags. And started to ring them up; $25.00, $328.06, $197.57…. woah. I stopped her and asked her what the huge charges were for. “Well, the insurance didn’t cover these…” I sighed. No shit. The hour long discussion the day before was designed, I had hoped, to prevent this. Clearly not. So, I had to go back through the list, and explain what I needed to pick up, and what the insurance would cover.

Cool. We got it all sorted out. Except that when I left the store, I didn’t get the two prescriptions that I had explained I needed to pick up, but wouldn’t be fully covered by the insurance. Of course, being the on-top-of-it kind of person that I am, I didn’t actually notice this until I had made the 11 mile drive home. And had to deal with yet another pharmacy employee on the phone, to explain what it was that I really needed. I drove back. And in one shining moment, I actually had what I needed.

Okay. Cool. I assumed I had the system figured out; I just need to call in advance, tell them exactly what I needed, and what the insurance would/wouldn’t cover, and my life would be back to the peace and harmony that I had been hoping for.


*ahem. Clearly, I am a dumbass. Or just insane. (Isn’t the definition of insanity something like doing the same actions over and over again and expecting different results? Yeah….)

Now being an all-on-top-of-it kind of chick, I called the pharmacy yesterday, a day before I was going to pick up two prescriptions, one of which is never fully covered by the insurance (the prescription is for 30 pills/30 days; the insurance coves 14 pills for 22 days…), and explained the insurance issues. I also explained that while my husband had two prescriptions for one medication, they were actually different dosage levels, and while I had picked up the one dosage level a week ago, I wanted to pick up the other dosage level. The technician kept saying “yes, I understand”. Which is a fatal flaw in my reasoning. I SHOULD have remembered from the days in Saudi Arabia that “yes I understand” simply means “I understand you are speaking English, and I have heard these words before.” It does NOT mean “I actually understand what you want to do, and I have the ability to competently complete this task”. Again, did I mention that I’m a bit of a dumbass?

I get to the pharmacy, march confidently up to the “Pick-up” window, and am told that they have to run the prescription through the insurance, and it will be “a while.” I feel the River Styx licking at my toes. But I have grocery shopping to do (which is why I stop at the pharmacy first), so that’s fine. But since she said “the prescription” – as in singular – I remind her that I have another one. And that the insurance is only going to cover part of it, and I only want what the insurance will cover. “Okay. It will be a while.” Again… “Okay” = “I heard you. I’m not going to do anything about it, but I heard you.” Like a dumbass, I go grocery shopping.

And 45 minutes later (the grocery store is ANOTHER story…. And a first for me; the cashier rung/rang/??? (Why didn’t I pay more attention to conjugating?) up the groceries of the person behind me in line with mine. Fixing that problem was another adventure. I actually tried to just ‘give’ the lady behind me her groceries so I wouldn’t have to stand in a customer service line to get a refund, but she wouldn’t let me impart a little Christmas kindness. $31.07? Would have been worth avoiding the aggravation, but it did it kill some time. I guess. Still, I wouldn't have been crushed at avoiding that entertainment. Again, another story for another time) I go back to the Pharmacy of Death. Maybe I should rename it to Dante’s Pharmacy…. Hmm…

I wait in line, and hey! They actually have the prescription for me. Like a popped balloon, my elation whooses out of me. The. Prescription. I ask her about the other prescription. “They didn’t quite get to that yet. It’ll be a little while, still.”

And so I sit down, joining the other Damned Souls, and wait. And wait. And wait. Literally, 23 minutes later (I timed it, as, like the other lost souls, it was that, or read the tabloids; I was actually almost starting to care why Brittney was on a ‘dangerous diet’), I got the other prescription. Both of them. Woo-hoo!

*whew. And after that, I don’t have the energy to tell you about the other damned souls, and why I’m such a snob. I’ll save that for later. Time to go shoot the cat (with insulin) and see about rustling up some dinner.

All of that said, I can see why they sell liquor at the pharmacy. I'm beginning to think mainlining Wild Turkey might be the only way to survive the experience...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eating my words.... or music, or something...

Just last night I was telling my parents what a Good Dog Fiona was, and for a puppy, she really just chews on her chew toys, I discovered this note from my husband this morning....


I spoke too soon. $150 worth of headphones down the drain (so to speak, especially as the 'missing' earpiece, uh, came out the other end of the drain this afternoon).... We're thinking of selling her to the gypsies, but if the gypsies see how much she eats, I think we'll have a hard sell.

Good thing she's a cutie!

Image Hosted by
By drliz

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

People are strange...

Heh. I love Facebook. In the last 4 months, I’ve run into 7 people that I haven’t heard from/seen in 20+ years. One I haven’t seen since I was a freshman in highschool (maybe sometime after that? Maybe? Eh…. The brain is foggy…), and am thrilled to have found. (And no matter how vicious and unrepentant you may be, you’re still only a year older than me, so you CAN’T be ‘OLD’. Neener.)

Two, who was a best friend in high school (gods, we shared clothes for 3 years), has said hello, only to fall off the face of the planet again…. I guess you can’t go home again.

The third? Married with 2 little kids. She’s thrilled, so I’m happy for her, but really, I can’t help but cringe. Kids? Eeeesh. The dogs and cat are more than I can realistically handle. And since she pretty much documents the screaming/tantrum events of the whole child-rearing thing, well, I feel much less upset about the 37lb puppy who wants to play (and subsequently squash) with the 17-year-old, 18 lb miniature poodle; where there is much barking, baring of teeth, and moves of canine agility.

Persons number 4, 5, and 6? We were never super close friends, and so the conversation is light and in passing. i.e.

Me: “Oh? You’re having a kid. Cool. Boy or girl?”
Response: “Blah, blah, blah, blue, but yellow is good too, blah, blah, Baby Einstein, blah, blah, pre-natal,blah,blah,blah”
Me: Charlie Brown’s blank-eyed blink.

And person number 7. Not my best friend in the world, but not a passing acquaintance. Not married, and a person of a faith that requests (rather strongly) marriage sooner rather than later. She’s actually waiting to marry someone that she feels she’s got a deep personal connection with (*gee* what a concept! Not knocking her, just the predominant culture in which she lives), and not just the next returned missionary.

The funny thing, is I like getting updates from everyone, even the baby-oriented ones. I guess I like feeling like my life is more diverse than just two dogs and a cat in a motorhome. (On the other hand, I’m not so sure that there is anything wrong with a life that JUST includes two dogs a cat and a husband in a motorhome for the winter!)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Goodbye, Buddy

Personal Entry Here; just my musings.

We put Ben to sleep yesterday afternoon, and while it was painful as hell, it was the best thing we could have done for him. As I walked today, I realized that I wasn't questioning the decision AT ALL - which makes it clear to me that it was the right time, and the right decision, for us, and for him. I miss him, but I'm glad he didn't suffer.

I can honestly say, I didn’t know how I was going to deal with the actual act of putting Ben down. I had talked with David McDonald, our main vet in Park City, the day before, and he went through the process, and told me that he felt that it was probably the best way to go, to the extent that if he had incurable cancer and had lost all quality of life, he’d call his partner at the vet clinic and have him put him under. Maybe an exaggeration (maybe not!), but between that, and Gary’s comment that if we could put Ben down at a point where he was comfortable, not in excruciating pain, and not to the point that he had lost control of his bodily functions, I felt equipped to make the decision.

Actually, it was sort of tough. We didn’t know, when I took Ben in yesterday, if it was a joint pain thing, and he could get a cortisone shot, or if it was just the cancer winner. About 3am that morning, when I had carried Ben outside, I had a pretty good idea that it was the end, and I talked with him (Ben) about it. Ben seemed like he was done, though. He just seemed so tired. The guy fought the good fight, but ultimately, the cancer won.

I’m just glad that he was able to go with dignity. I always hoped that he’d be able to die without diapers on (it just doesn’t seem all that ‘manly’ – or even just dignified), and given the fact that we couldn’t get his right size diapers in, and we were making our own (not that this factored in to anything), it was easiest to take his diapers off to be examined. And he didn’t have diapers on when he was put down. It’s a little thing, but Ben With Diapers wasn’t TRULY who Ben was. He didn’t mind them, but he was so much more of a dog than what he was in the last few months. I guess for me, it was symbolic that he was his former self. The last few months were, but they weren’t HIM.

And while my beliefs of the afterlife are scattered across various faiths, and absences of faiths, I am 100% certain that Ben has been reunited with Billy, and he’s trying to reform Billy (with little faith that Billy can be reformed; if anything, he’s been storing up tricks to teach Ben). Regardless, I am certain that Ben and Billy are together again, playing like puppies. And if St. Francis is hanging around anywhere, I’m sure he’s trying to get the two of them to stop being so sneaky! *grin.

Ben holds a special spot in my heart, for many reasons. I’m so sorry that he’s gone, but I’m glad that he went with dignity. And I’m glad that he showed me that I can deal with this; I don’t have to fear old age with pets; it sucks, but the trade-off is worth it. I didn’t know Ben that long, but I can safely say that there is no way I’d pass on the pain on losing him, if it meant not having the joy of knowing him.

Requiescat in pace, amici. (And no, that probably isn’t conjugated right, but I can guarantee you that Ben isn’t going to worry about it!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Clutch Killer

Yep, it's true the Saturn needs a new clutch. Pressure plates, actually, I think. (Although I don't really know what they are, so I'm just going with a new clutch.) Pluth. This time, I don't really think that it is my fault; the clutch has been questionable for a while in this car; it was just a matter of time.

So, the local Chevy dealer has the car and will do the work on it, and we'll get it back on Friday, or Saturday, or something. Eh, it is what it is. With everything that is going on, this is not catastrophic.

Other than that we can't load the bikes into the rented Cobalt that I've got, and all of the good (i.e. safe) riding is about 20 miles away. So, we won't be doing any serious riding until this weekend. In the meantime, I'm going to ride up and down 'Death Canyon'. It's not really called that; it's a section of road just past the RV park that has been closed to motorized vehicles because the rock side of the road keeps crumbling into the road, and the state was obviously sick of dealing with it. So it's a nice mile of car-less riding (you just need to wear a pith helmet! *grin. Gary doesn't like it because he's certain that I'm going to get nailed by a rock, but I like it because I can ride in the afternoon without worrying about people coming back from the bars after a few too many...). If I do laps on it (it's got a nice little climb at the top, and then a nice down hill on the way back), I can get in some miles without being too far away, and without having to dodge traffic.

Still, I'm looking forward to some of the other riding; apparently there are some ghost towns around here (within 50 miles or so) that are on accessible dirt roads. There are also some nice un-trafficked roads that will be good for 30-50 miles on the road bike. All of which I am looking forward to.

That said, I'll get some pictures of 'Death Canyon', as it is rather pretty.

And I guess I'll use the Cobalt to scope out some of the other rides.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Finally, Broadband!

Finally got broadband internet here; the free wi-fi at the RV park seems to be on the blink 99% of the time, and that, coupled with really sketchy cell phone service prompted us to get our own internet. We got it hooked up this afternoon, and it seems to be working well. (Other than that once we got it Gary tried to upgrade the OS for his iPhone, in the hopes that he would have better cell phone coverage, and the iPhone is not responding properly. Or at all. I’d call AT&T, but, well, limited cell phone service….) The phone thing is still hit or miss. We are going to try the MagicJack, and see if it works, but if not, we’ll get a VOIP set-up next Tuesday.

In the meantime, it is really nice to actually be able to upload pictures, download books, and just generally check in on the world. Speaking of which, I’ve got some pictures to upload, but I’ll do that tomorrow, as today was spent cleaning the motorhome, and I’m beat!

We did go on a bike ride today; Gary somehow managed to not eat anything before we left, so he turned back after 2 miles, while I rode out about 6, and discovered some short but very steep hills. We’ve got to do quite a bit more investigating before we get our riding routes sorted out. Before we can do too much of that, though, we’ve got to get the car looked at. It seems like there is something wrong with the hydraulics with the clutch; when I first start the car there is a ton of play in the clutch and it won’t shift gears, but after it warms up for about 5-8 minutes, the clutch is tight-ish (it’s a Saturn Vue – not exactly a race clutch here – and yes, I’m beginning to learn to feel the difference!), and it shifts fine. Still, I’d hate to have a catastrophic failure when I’m in any of the small towns around here that have limited services. So, we’ve got to find someplace to take it in. The only problem? Limited services…. Hmmm…

In sadder news, it looks like Ben is getting weaker. His eyes are still bright, and he’s alert; he’s just getting weaker, and is definitely losing weight. We’ve known for quite some time that it was just matter of time, but I think that time is getting near. Although maybe he’ll surprise us. He’s been a trouper, but eventually the inevitable happens. For now, though, he’s still comfortable, and he can still walk, just not very far, and he can make it up the stairs of the motorhome (although he’s got to be carried down…), so we aren’t writing him off just yet.

Anyway, time to finish up the laundry and kick back before the final round of getting the dogs out before bed.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving in Paradise

Damn. I really should have brought a camera with me today to the Thanksgiving dinner event. Gary didn’t go because he’s not big on crowds, or social gatherings, and frankly, he would have hated it. As it was, I just stuck around long enough to get a couple of plates of food, and headed back to the motorhome. But the 45 minutes (or more) that I was in line for food? Wow. I can safely say that I’ve never seen more handle-bar mustachioed, tattooed guys in Harley t-shirts, and equally tattooed women in Harley t-shirts with glitter nail polish in my life.

And I’m really not passing any judgment. I’m just observing. The restaurant/bar around which the rv park sprung up (I think that was the chain of events; I don’t think the rv park came first) is apparently known as a ‘biker bar’. Neither Gary nor I have actually been in the bar/restaurant before (I didn’t even know where to drop off my pies…), but given the number of Harleys that are parked in the parking lot, combined with the number of Harleys parked in the RV park, I don’t doubt the ‘biker bar’ part. And apparently (if today’s dinner was any indication), the bikers range from the 60-something retirees with long white (or grey) beards, riding the full-dress touring bikes, to the more blue collar, grease-under-their-fingernails guys. (There was an extended family group behind me, and the women were comparing nail polishes, while the guys were talking about how they had ‘Valvoline’ on….)

Interestingly, this was generally a family-oriented group. Lots of people drinking beer, and whatever else, lots of tattoos, and lots big family groups. You’ve got all these biker people who have been coming to this Event (an apparently Thanksgiving dinner at Fox’s is An Event; you bring a side dish to feed your party and 6 other people, and you are welcome) for years, and bring their kids, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc. along, and then you got the park residents, who range from an older couple (apparently with health issues, so says the helpful Canuk block organizer, but who are able to move their 38 foot class A motorhome twice a year, and who, I might add, didn’t seem fazed by the tattoo crowd), to the retired Navy, Marines and UEW (electrical workers, for those of us who had to get close to the emblem to puzzle it out…), most of whom seem to have Harleys, to the younger bikers (and family) who come from Havasu City, and then, well, us.

Again, not scary people, just, well, lots of tattoos. And handlebar moustaches.

I REALLY wish I had brought the camera. Because there was this HUGE line for dinner (again, Gary stayed in the motorhome watching football) I got into conversation with the people around me, including one woman who was talking to a friend of hers about ‘someone they rode with’ who (and I quote, because this is too good for words) “if you’re drunk, and it’s dark, and you squint, he looks like Willie Nelson”. Willie Nelson? C’mon. If you are going to be drunk, and look at someone in the dark, and be squinting, why shouldn’t he look like a 40 year old Sean Connery? Willie Nelson? Eesh. But, I guess.... Naw... I just can't see it. Under any circumstances, and no matter how cheap the tequila was. Willie Nelson? I guess this is why the band director at North Forsyth High School called me an elitist snob. Gotta go with your strengths, I guess!

I’m telling ya’, I should have brought the camera. HOWEVER, all is not completely lost on Saturday night (I think, I have to check the bulletin board) there is a ‘parade of carts’; most people in the park have golf carts to get around (even though the park isn’t that big… it’s a status thing, I think). And most of then have been ‘suped up’ one way or another. One guy has (and I’m not kidding…. Again, I’d get pictures, but I think he’d be offended… at least until the parade) spinny things on his hubcaps (so when the wheels stop moving the hubcaps spin). Really. Others have different motors, special paint jobs (the guy next to us has flames on his golf cart/dune buggy – which seems to be a popular contraption), and/or lights.

While I doubt that Gary will join me for the parade of carts (apparently they go through several of the local RV parks before ending up here), I think I’ll be down at the dock to snap some pictures. This is truly a culture like I’ve never seen.

Anyway, after spending 45+ minutes in line for dinner (and talking with some really INTERESTING people…. Including a wife who was completely with me on the idea of using all of our assets upon our death to create the Dranow Home for Wayward Poodles (in our estate, actually), while the husband was mystified as to why you WOULDN’T have kids to have someone to pass it all along to…. Arguing that the poodles were our kids seemed out of line with someone who had the likeness of his youngest daughter at age 4 tattooed on his forearm. (Again, no, really.)

I wouldn’t want to meet 99% of these people in a dark alley, but under the auspices of Thanksgiving, it was fascinating (and probably would be fine in a dark alley, as long as you just said, “Dude, cool tattoo of your daughter there!”).

Anyway, the phone signal has been non-existent, so I didn’t get a chance to call anyone, but Happy Thanksgiving to all, and I promise you pictures from the rest of the weekend. This could really be quite entertaining!

And all that said, I really enjoyed myself; dinner was great, the people watching was out of this world, and I now have two doggies schnoozling in the living room, while Ben and the cat and in the bedroom with Gary watching football.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A bit of a culture shock, but not a bad thing

Well, we are here. Gary is a bit freaked because our cell phones have very sketchy service, and the internet service at the park is equally sketchy, and often completely unavailable. Given that his contact with his business is through the internet and the phone, he’s justifiably freaked out. However, as I keep reminding him, we are now entering into a holiday weekend, and nothing is going to happen, business-wise, until Monday, and on Monday, we should be getting some sort of cable internet access. (There is some question as to the reliability of that internet, but we’ll see. Most of the people in the park here are not super-internet-dependent, so I’m not sure that that the information that I’ve gotten so far is 100% accurate.)

Hopefully we’ll get reliable internet on Monday, and Gary will feel a little more settled. Me? Heh. I’m enjoying the ‘vacation’ from the world. I’ve got an ATT wireless card that works fairly well (interestingly, Gary’s, which is newer and supposedly better, doesn’t get the signal mine does…), so I can check emails, and my phone gets intermittent service, so I can check voice mails. Calls out, not so much, but on the 9th, we’ll have a local phone line (VOIP, I think… which could be good or bad, depending on the internet service!).

But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the break.

Tonight is the pre-Thanksgiving beer and pizza night at the restaurant (on the river at the RV park); I’ve elected to pass on that. Gary wanted me to sneak down and grab a few slices of pizza, but given the level of sociability of the place, I don’t think I’d be able to escape quickly, and I really don’t want to be stuck being social in a bar/restaurant while Gary is at home relaxing with the kids. So we’re having hamburgers at home, instead.

Tomorrow, however, is the Thanskgiving dinner thing, and we are pretty much obligated to go to that. It is an afternoon/evening-long event, but I doubt we’ll stay that long. As it is, our ‘block activity organizer’ (a very nice lady who comes from British Columbia with her husband, and lives two doors down), gave me the social run-down of activities, and suggested that since no one had volunteered to bring pies to the dinner (the resort provides the turkey and important stuff…. Residents bring the extras), I could maybe bring a pie or two, if I was interested. Recognizing the Northern “a guy could….. if you want to” statement, I immediately signed up to bring a couple of pies.

(And I think I got the rookie-sucker ruse; the local Safeway (another entry in and of itself) charges $7/pie….. I’m used to the $4/pie at Albertsons (and usually $3/pie at the holidays)). Anyhoo, we’ve got pie and whipped cream in a can, so I think my duty is done. Between 2 pumpkin pies and an apple pie, I think we’ve earned the right to grab out food and go at any time….)

Besides, I did make it clear to Mary, the Canuk-block-organizer (in her early 70’s likely, and far too cheery…. As is her husband), that we aren’t really ‘joiners’. After hearing the schedule of poker games, womens’ pool tournaments against the local VFW (no, really…. Gods how I wish Granny Shively were alive and could visit – she’d LOVE this place!!!), womens’ walks (at 8am MWF….. we’ll see… and only because I’d like to get to know the area…), golf foursomes (one guy in the park works at the scheduling desk at the local golf course, and gets everyone the tee times they desire…. Not 100% kosher, but much appreciated), shuffleboard (really), and horseshoes (apparently there are some pretty fierce team rivalries…), I think we are going to be pretty much staying to ourselves.

That said, we’ve got some ‘family obligations’; Gary’s aunt and uncle (his mothers’ brother) came her for close to 20 years, and are WELL remembered. Gary is known as ‘Ernie’s nephew’ to a great many of the ‘old timers’, and we’ve already received a table for the patio that belonged to Ernie and Joanne. So, we’ve got some eyes on us, to some extent. Which isn’t all bad; people come to this resort year after year (as opposed to the 30 others on the same 15 mile stretch of river) for the sense of community. And while we aren’t looking to make life-long friends, you never know. And we certainly won’t be able to ‘hibernate’. Again, not a bad thing.

The road biking looks promising; we may be riding on a freeway for some of our rides, but the place has very wide shoulders, and a 55mph speed limit, so I think it will be good.

As it is, it is raining (should clear up by the weekend), and by then we should be ready to start to ride. I did one very short ride on the mountain bike up to the local state park (one of them), and am quite excited to get out riding again.

In the meantime, Fiona has made quite a name for herself (generally good, I think!), and is starting to see that not all dogs are sick/geriatric. Speaking of which, I took Ben to the vet today; about a 15 minute drive (no biggie), a small operation (husband and wife team, which, ironically, makes them easier to get ahold of in emergencies, but they seem well-suited to deal with our kids. I am comfortable with them, and I think all of the kids will get great care. They are members of the same Animal Hospital Associate as the vets in Park City were, which adds another level of confidence. Ben is holding his own; he’s not doing great, and we have had to up his pain-meds, but he’s comfortable.

And that’s all the news that is fit to print, right now!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Well, Ben is holding steady. His kidney values are high – higher in the last couple of weeks than they have been in the last month or two – but stable. With 1 being average for dogs, 8 being where things “don’t look so good”, Ben is holding steady at 5.0. High, but not getting worse. His back pain seems to be getting worse, however. So, we’ve upped his pain meds, and we are treating him with the same tools we use for Gary; heat and cold laser (no, the cold laser isn’t actually cold, it’s just not hot). We’ll see how it goes, but it certainly can’t hurt.

All that said, today was spent running around; me getting the dogs to the vet, us picking up Larry from knee surgery (he drove himself down at 7am, so Gary and I both went to pick him up so Gary could drive Larry’s truck while I drove Larry), a doctor’s appointment for Gary, and a couple of trips to the motorhome. Which meant that I really didn’t get the final packing and shopping done. Gary’s got some business to take care of, as well, so we have opted to leave on Thursday. We’ll arrive Friday night (spending Thursday in St. George), and be ready to start the whole vacation thing.

Which is fine; the weather is supposed to be warm for the next 7 days (much to the dismay of the skiers who were happy with the early start to the season), so one more day in Park City won’t matter, and it will make for a more relaxing departure on Thursday (we’ll just have to bring down the kids, and the tow car, and we’ll be ready to go).

Again, this is all good. But I AM really looking forward to a few days of snoozing in the sun.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Oh pluth. I’m tired. 98% of the clothes, towels, sheets, blankets and sports gear has been stowed in the motorhome. Tomorrow will see the food and the rest of the stuff go in. (Good thing we’ve got at 45,000 lb. weight limit; little worry about hitting the weight limit!)

On the one hand, I’m encouraged; I actually think that we’ll make the Wednesday departure date; all we’ve got to do is load the bikes on/in the Saturn, and we’ll be ready to pull out, hook up the car and head south.

There are a few things, like a trip to the market, a vet visit, a doctor visit, and a few business ends to tie up before we can go, but that should all get wrapped up tomorrow.

So, that’s all good. Or it will be, when we are in Parker, with everything hooked up, the slides out, the dogs resting quietly, the cat eating (the sign that he has adjusted to the motorhome) and us relaxing. That’s a few days out, but we’ll get there.

I’m just worried about the standard poodle. We’ve upped his pain meds, and he still seems to be having kidney pain. He’s been on antibiotics for ages now, and while he doesn’t seem to appear to have an active infection, he’s got pain. Which likely means that the other kidney is going. If that is the case, then we’ve got to act so he doesn’t suffer. (And personally, I’d just as soon stay here a few days longer if we have to put him down soon. The veterinary staff (vets and staff) here have become like family, and I’d rather be with people who know him, rather than at a strange clinic, where he’s just one more dog with cancer.) I won’t know what’s going on until tomorrow, and I’m not going to waste my energy on speculation; it either is his time or it isn’t.

So yeah, pluth. I really want to get out of town, but I don’t want to travel if Ben is really going to be struggling. At this point, a couple of days won’t matter to us, if it matters to Ben.

(Okay, that was a depressing entry. I’m actually okay; I’ve accepted the inevitable. Not that it won’t be hard when the time comes, but we’ve been lucky to have him as long as we have had him. And if he’s in pain, we’re not doing him any favors by keeping him around. But, I’m tired. We’ll see how he’s doing tomorrow, and what the vet has to say about him then. Until then, I’m going to try to relax.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The sun is over the yardarm somewhere, right?!?

Okay, so I spent about 5 hours in the motorhome today packing (or unpacking things packed at the house, as the case may be) for the winter in Arizona. And I just have to say, I blame my parents for my packing skills. I’ve somehow got this idea that I’m entering the Rub al-Khali on every single trip; I’ve got enough clothes for the next year, food to feed an army, cases of water, refills of every medication under the sun, etc., etc. (In hindsight, I probably WOULD have made a very good geologist with the USGS in Saudi Arabia….) Christ. I’m going to ARIZONA. Even our ‘man-servant’ (no better way to describe him, as he does EVERYTHING, is there is any crisis, and is just a down-right fantastic guy) commented today, “Uh, Don’t they have grocery stores in Arizona?” Yeah. Whatever. Shutup. And Hell, I don’t know. I mean, they don’t even do the daylight savings time thing. For all I know, I’m really going to a recently annexed part of Mexico.

Of course, my parents are likely saying “But dear, we also taught you to travel across the Western Hemisphere with nothing but your passport, your airline travel ID (term pass), an American Express card, a toothbrush and a clean set of underwear. (And a TWA schedule so you could call and book yourself on the next flight going whichever direction you desired.)” Because you never knew if you were going to end up in the same time zone as your real luggage or not. (And often it didn’t matter. If the luggage didn’t show up, you bought what you needed, and kept trying to get to your destination.)

So, I’m caught between trying to pack everything into my house on wheels that I can (and we’ve got skis (and everything that goes with that – clothes, boots, poles, helmets, etc., etc.), golf clubs (and all that entails), tennis rackets, a really cool Weber BBQ, coolers, cases of water, bicycles (and spare wheels, all of which will be with the Saturn Vue that we tow behind the motorhome), cycling clothes for all weather conditions, etc.), and thinking that if we don’t have it, we are ONLY going to Arizona, and can get it there.

I’m erring on the Rub al-Khali mindset, but am relying on the American Express-as-backup-plan, as well. Luz (my house keeper, body servant, lifter-of-heavy-things, and Organizer-of-All-Things), and I spent 5 hours today organizing the space in the motorhome, getting things loaded, and getting ready for the (mostly) final assault tomorrow. Tomorrow the rest of the clothes, the food, and the pet things will all go in and get stowed. Luz has been invaluable because, well, as my family can well attest, my organizational skills, are sub-par at best, and non-existent, if we are going to be honest. Luz takes all my stuff that has been jammed into cupboards, and makes it so that you can a) actually get to it, and b) put it back where it belongs. (I blame this failing on my mother. I have a psychiatrist, so I get to blame things on my mother. So there! *grin. Oh, and just so you don’t take this too seriously, Mom, my psychiatrist doesn’t really care about things being anyone’s fault – he’s just trying to get me to recognize my failings and make them better – he’s really not a blame guy! )

Tomorrow will see the errand running (more trips to PetCo, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Wally World, the vet, and the liquor store (yes, coals to Newcastle, but we are stopping in Cedar City, UT, to make the trip more bearable, and if we both can’t have a dram of something, when we stop on the first night, well…, just well…).

With any luck, Tuesday will simply be the ‘everything we forgot’ day, and we’ll be able to de-winterize (take the antifreeze out of the pipes) on Wednesday before we leave.

In the meantime? I need a shower, a massage, and some to take the dogs out at 2am and 4am (and 6am, given that I have to be up and moving by 7:30am….).

All I can say is that when we get to Parker, I plan on spending about a week in a lounge chair, conveniently located toward the sun, with a series of fluff-filled novels at hand, and the dogs stowed with the husband.


I just want WARM weather. I want to bask in the sun, wear shorts and t-shirts, and lose that pasty-white look (complimented with the dark circles under my eyes) that I have cultivated so well, as of late.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Regression therapy. (Or not.)

Ugh. I remember when I made the first move from a 500 sqr. ft. dorm room into a 1000 sqr. ft. apartment, and was all excited about the prospect of buying pots, pans, bookshelves, shower curtains, and carpets. It was a Big Deal. Now I'm moving from a 4000 sqr. ft. house to a 1200 sqr. ft. (ish) motorhome. For 5 months. Admittedly, there is a lot of empty space in the 4000 square feet, but still. Going from 3 walk-in closets to 1 non-walk in closet? I know, I know, I might as well be whining about the martini glasses scuffing my manicure, but.... Gah! Summer clothes, spring clothes, a few days of fall clothes, biking clothes, skiing clothes, and just general 'hanging out' stuff. For two people. For 5 months (meaning that I don't want to wear the same t-shirt every 2 days)?

Actually, I really could care less about the clothes. There is this amazing thing called the internet, and this other amazing thing called UPS. If it isn't packed, it could be on my doorstep in 3 days.

I'm really more just freaked out about the mental preparation. I'm. Leaving. For. 5. Months. No doubt I'm going to forget something catastrophic, like my wallet, or dog food, or insulin for the cat, or the husband's meds, or something.

Eh. It will all be fine. But it's the packing of the phone chargers, and the firewires, and the dog treats, and the cycling shorts, jerseys, jackets, gloves, helmets, etc., that is starting to make me feel overwhelmed. Probably because I'm also packing ski gear (no, really.... although I hope it stays in the basement of the motorhome until we get back next May), tennis gear, golf clubs, shoes, carts, etc.

I know. I really shouldn't be complaining. And I'm really not, other than just the sheer work of arranging a small home for a puppy, an incontinent dog, an old dog, and an old diabetic cat, that won't leave us with permanent carpet messes (already had the small Bissel for 'small' messes). Basically, I'm worried about where I'm going to store 15 bath towels.

My husband would argue that I worry too much.

Of course, once we get there, and get settled, all will be cool. (I've done the important checking: wireless internet, mail service, a pharmacy that will take Utah prescriptions, storage for the Corvette/trailer, and relatively close high-level vet care. ) Everything else is flexible.

But I'll still be stressed until we leave. So I am REALLY hoping for HOT weather when we get to Arizona, as I want to spend the first couple of days in the lounge chairs with a couple of brainless books, cool drinks, and much sun.

Of course, there will be pictures!

Friday, November 14, 2008

We're getting closer to leaving for Arizona (the latest date is this Wednesday). And while I'm excited as hell (warm toes all winter long, cycling every day (in short-sleeved jerseys!), swimming... a chance to actually get back in the shape I was in 2 years ago); I confess that I'm a little nervous. Most of the nerves will go away in the first 2 days; I'll find the grocery store, we'll get the motorhome settled in (we don't know much about the place we are staying, other than that it has come recommended from Gary's aunt, and there is always a little angst, but this place is a favorite with snowbirds, so I hope we'll be okay), and I'll know the lay of the land.

I'm also worried about the vet situation. There is a 'traveling' vet who is available on a daily basis, but for a full animal hospital, we have to drive 40 miles north. The driving part isn't THAT big a deal. I'm just more worried about getting a new vet who doesn't know the family history.

Ben, the standard poodle, was diagnosed with bladder cancer this summer, and as it blocked one of his kidneys, he got an experimental procedure to stent his kidney to allow it to move fluids. Good thing, as his other kidney shut down, and he would have died without the stent. However, his last blood test showed things going not so well; could be a point-in-time thing, or could be that his one kidney is failing. The only good thing (if you can call it that), is that we'll know quickly, and if he's going, we can make sure that he doesn't suffer. A tough time to change vets, but it is what it is.

On the other hand, Fiona, our 16 week old goldendoodle puppy (father is a red golden retriever, the mother is an apricot poodle), is healthy as a horse, a wild child (but within reason), and possibly the best puppy ever; exciteable but not crazy, and very tolerant of Ben being cranky with her (she SO wants to play with him - or with TaiChi, the 17 year old miniature, who shows signs of wanting to play, until she gets knocked down by the twice-her-size puppy). She's very smart, she's mellow, and she's just a fantastic dog. We couldn't be happier with her.

So, despite worries, I am REALLY looking forward to spending a winter in the sun. I moved to Utah 20 years ago, and have done the winter thing every year since. This will be the first year since I was a child that I will spend the winter in warm weather. And I am THRILLED beyond words. We'll take the dogs, the cat (Mr. 18-Year-Old Maine Coon travels well - he loves the bedroom when we drive, because the engine is right behind the bedroom, and the 525hp diesel engine makes the room really warm - and perfect for the kitty (yes, he's got access to food, water, and his litter box - for an 18 year old guy, he's very agile in getting on and off the bed while driving)), the golf clubs, the road bikes, the mountain bikes, and we'll meet the Corvette to race in December (we'll keep it after December). It's almost like re-making the summer we missed.

And yeah, I'm thrilled for that!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Eh... I was going to say that I'm not a nostalgic person, but I guess I am. I think it just depends on the subject matter.

This afternoon, I spent a couple of hours sorting through some boxes that I haven't opened in 15 (or more!) years. Most of it was junk; old bills, empty checkbooks, long-since expired credit cards, etc. But there were a few gems in there, including a pre-scrapbook scrapbook that my mother had put together for me that followed a very short trip that my father and I had taken to Rome and Athens in 1987.

I never forgot the trip - father and 16 year old daughter flying halfway across the world to 're-do' trips that we had made when we lived in Saudi Arabia, while I could still fly for free on TWA (part of my dad's retirement package). It took about a day and a half to get to Athens, and a day-ish to get back from Rome, and I think we spent a grand total of 5 days in the Mediterranean. We weren't going to see anything new, but to revisit places we had traveled to for many years when I was younger. I guess it was a bit of a nostalgic trip, in and of itself.

My mother didn't go (I honestly don't remember why, now), but she had prepared an itinerary and shopping list for us, complete with entries copied from guidebooks. (My parents LOVE to travel, and I have indelible memories of my mother in a London Fog trench coat, with thin brown Isotoner gloves on, pointing at an entry in a guidebook, or at a spot on a map. The typed itinerary was to replace the gloves and trenchcoat on this trip.) She clearly had a good time writing the itinerary; the day that had been scheduled to go to the Forum, collesium, and other ancient Roman sites was referred to as 'Rubble Day'. There were also a number of joking asides about how I had a fancy prep-school education but likely couldn't read the German descriptions in the museums.

Anyway, the trip is one of those things that I remember fondly, but the details had grown hazy over the years. I remember traveling with my father on many occasions, but this trip had sort of blended into many. The album my mother made for the trip makes this trip a one-of-a-kind. Between the TWA 'special service' tickets (i.e. employee tickets), the money changer receipts at both the Rome and Athens airports, as well as the tickets for entrance to the different monuments, the entire trip is there.

My mother is not the 'scrap-booking' sort of person, so the fact that she put this together at all amazes me. Maybe it was to make sure that I appreciated the trip.

Let's just say that if I didn't appreciate it as a 15 year old who was used to flying around the world for nothing, as a 37 year old who hasn't left the US since she was, well, 19, I appreicate it like hell. (And before you think that sounds as obnoxious as it reads, I grew up overseas, traveled overseas, and really didn't see anything of the US until I settled in Utah; my husband and I have traveled all over the western US since then, and maybe because I DID travel so much overseas, I am fascinated by all we've got to see within our borders. (Yes, the Great Wall of China is cool, but so it the continental divide, especially in Yellowstone, and being able to see it with our 'family' (our dogs and our cat), at our own pace? I love it. I love the fact that I was able to travel overseas so much, but I love being able to travel 'at home' in the motorhome even more.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yeah, so I voted for McCain. I also said a prayer for his health before I pushed the button. Because I think that Sarah Palin was probably the world's worst decision. Gods. Mitt Romney would have been SO MUCH better, just as a fr'instance.

Of course, being in Utah, it really doesn't matter who I vote for for president, but there was just No Way I could vote for anyone else on the ballot. I actually pondered a write-in for a few minutes, but couldn't come up with anything more creative than Mickey Mouse.

Anyhoo, it's started to snow, and I'm really looking forward to warm weather. It's pretty for a day, but I just can't envision another winter of freezing, doing the driveway (or watching the husband kill himself doing it, which is more like it), and just generally doing nothing other than skiing for a few hours and going home.

I REALLY hear Arizona calling me.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm not a big Halloween fan. Actually, that's not entirely true. I've never been around people who are big Halloween fans, so I never have developed that particular interest. But I did like the occasional office Halloween party (in Utah, during the day, so no, it wasn't like it was anything prurient or anything). And I'd love to coax the puppy into a Halloween costume (although I think it might be a year or two before I can do that...).

This year, I'm actually giving serious thought to carving a pumpkin. However, that might suck me into the whole Halloween/Trick-or-Treater thing. I actually wouldn't mind dressing up (in what, I'm not sure, although I've got a 'Queen's Robe' (with fake ermine and everything) kicking around) and handing out candy to the kids. The problems with this whole fantasy is that 1) Ben, the sick poodle, would go bananas anytime anyone came up to the house, 2) our street isn't lit and our driveway isn't lit (not to mention our porch being sketchily lit), so there's no way anyone would find us anyway, 3) the HOA probably has some 'Halloween regulations' that I know nothing about, and would get stuck with tons of candy and no kids (no loss there.... the candy would get eaten....), and 4) I doubt that the spouse would be super excited about trick-or-treaters; he's not so keen when the UPS man comes, so I doubt that kids in funny clothes looking for handouts would excite him.


So, maybe I'll just carve a pumpkin and light it for myself. I keep passing the supermarket 'pumpkin patches' with the urge to buy one. I guess it is tomorrow or never, huh?

Speaking of tomorrow or never... Brach's Harvest Mix. When I was a kid, my Dad would sneakily buy bags of candy corn (my Mom never approved) and let me snack on it. And then, after I was about 8, I didn't eat the stuff. So about a month ago, I bought a bag of Harvest Mix (candy corn, Indian corn - or whatever it is called - and pumpkins). All sugar, no nutritional value, and great in VERY small doses. However, it will all go away tomorrow, so I guess I'd buy a couple of bags before everything turns over to Christmas decorations...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pluth. No idea what the damage will amount to, (insurance will cover that, other than the $1000 deductible.... Damn deductibles are starting to add up....), but it will be at least $10K to do the basic fix to the sewer pipe. If we want to fix all that needs to be fixed because of builder incompetence? Could be anywhere from $50K to $100K. And this is not exactly the market to make 'improvements' like this. I'm guessing we'll just do the $10K fix and wait for a few years and see if the market returns.


To quote, "I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue."


The only plus? Ben (the standard poodle) is holding his own; his kidneys are holding steady, but we can't do anything to treat his cancer without blowing up his kidneys. So, the cancer will kill him, but he seems to holding steady for now. And he's comfortable, thanks to modern medicine. So that's a good thing.

Oh, and another good thing? The old lady (the 17 year old miniature poodle) WANTS to play with the puppy. The pup outweighs her about 2 to 1, and while the old lady hasn't wanted to play, she's been showing signs for the last couple of days, and today, when the three of us went to the basketball court to 'play tennis' (i.e. chase tennis balls), the old lady actually went bounding after a few. And then immediately got tackled by the pup. A few times, after which she just came bounding to me when the pup went after the ball. But it is really encouraging to see the old lady WANTING to play. It's been a very long time for her to be this healthy.

Yep, just call us Chaos Manor....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Heh. My insurance company rep is just loving me right now. A week ago, I hit a pothole in my Pacifica and blew up the passenger's front end. (As my driving coach commented after reading the report, "It looked like you rolled the car a couple of times, stood it up on it's nose and then beat it with a hammer." Umm... I know I was a little speedy, but I have no idea how the car suffered the damage that it did. Seriously. The pothole is a bitch, but damn. $2500, and SERIOUS repairs, including a new wheel, rim, shock, a-arm, and tie rods. Among other things. Damn. And I also got some bumper damage done, when some moron hit my rear end at a grocery store, and didn't have the courtesy to leave a note (thanks, asshole). Another $1100. With a $500 deductible on that, too. So, $1000 to get my almost-paid-off Pacfica back to new. And the sucker will be paid off in April of next year, so, for $1000? Eh. The pothole thing pisses me off. The asshole who rear-ended me pisses me off even more. You hit me, and it costs ME $500? Eh. There are bigger things in the world to get upset about.

Like why my insurance agent is going to love me even more.

About 2pm today, I notice a sewer smell in our downstairs. I mentioned it to my husband, and we both speculated that it was related to the work that the water company has been doing on the main pipeline into our development. No worries.

We take the doggies out for a walk, and meet the husband's business partner, who meets us at the house. They smell the smell, run some water in the downstairs, and then do some guy stuff (playing guitar) for a while while I putter around the house. About a half hour later, I decide to go down to the basement to get some stuff to start dinner.

And I hear water running. I kind of think that Gary might have left the water running to expunge any sewer gas, but I figure I might want to check the bathroom, just in case.... Because it sounds pretty harsh.

I walk out of the hallway and into the bathroom, and there is an inch of water on the floor, coming out of the pipes from the toilet. I try to turn off the water, but can't find the right valve, so I instead cry out, "Guys, we've got a problem. A SERIOUS problem." Gary and Charlie come rushing down (very admirable, given that they are both gimps! *grin) and Gary gets the water shut off, and then the two of them start mobilizing the water-removal process; I grab the shop-vac and let the boys start to remove the water, while I call the disaster kleen-up people, the insurance company (because we are likely to have lost our hardwood floor downstairs) an a plumber, in case it is us, and not because of development issues.

As of right now, we've got people sucking water out of the floor, we've got plumbers shocked at how far backed up our plumbing is, and I'm just figuring that my budget for the month has been blown out of the water. We will probably get out of it okay (there are some geologic issues that could have lead to a sewer pipe break) but still. EEESH.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hiya. I have just realized that I spent about 90% of my time talking to Mom and Dad, and that most of that doesn't get relayed (not Mom and Dad's fault; I'm just sort of lazy....). And since I like to record daily/weekly events in my life, I'm doing the Blogger thing.

Don't expect this to be exciting. This is going to be me decompressing at the end of a day/week/whatever. Sometimes it's easier to write than to talk. And certainly, I've got a lot of blah-blah-blah that isn't worth talk (or typing, but typing seems to be therapeutic.... *grin.... I can't remember her name, but the lady that was my typing teacher ("asdf-jkl;" and yes, I STILL look at the keyboard....) would be surprised....).

And yeah, I like parentheses. *grin.

Anyway, hi guys!!!!

As for what's going on in the world? You've got the email regarding Ben (eh....), and the rest of things. I'll certainly post Fiona (and Family) pictures here.

In other worlds? I'm reading Gone With the Wind. I know this is something that every teenage girl reads at about 13, when she watches the movie and falls hopelessly in love with either Ashley or Rhett. Me? I was just irritated at Scarlett for being such a Dumbass. But I picked up 'Rhett Butler's People' at the grocery store when I was expecting a long stay at a tire shop. And as I read, I realized that I had probably missed a lot of the story. So I bought a copy of Gone With the Wind. And like with the Harry Potter series, there's a Whole Lot More in the book than in the movie. (Duh. You'd think I'd know this.)

Anyway, it is fascinating me. Especially since I am also reading 'Valley of the Dolls'. Why? Eh, as I'm reading it, I'd say the same thing. I'm reading it because it struck me as one of those things (like Gone With the Wind) that any remotely aware person has read. Frankly, it is incredibly insipid. GTWT (Gone With the Wind) has its insipid moments, but Valley of the Dolls? This seems like a female 'Catcher in the Rye'; self indulgent, over-rated, and maybe scandalous in the time it was published, but now, there's a lot more 'fluff' out there that has a lot more plot.

Eh. So I've read it. I'm actually more interested in Gone With the Wind. Enough so that I've got 'Scarlett' on order. As a romantic, I hope to hell that Scarlett stops being such an idiot, but there's a big book ahead of me, so we'll see.

And on that note, I've got to deal with doggies. More later.

Dr. Liz