Monday, January 28, 2008

week end update, on this date, winter woes

Hello bloggers,

Ginny and Abby actually do nap in these positions. Cute aren't they?

As for me, I got dem ole winter woes. Pity me.

I grew up in western Pennsylvania in the shadow of the Allegheny Mountains where it gets bone chillin' cold in the winter months, so you'd think I could deal with winter. But, I don't want to! I've lived in Florida for enough decades that I can no longer feel comfortable when the thermometer drops below 68...with seventy five being preferred comfort level. No rain, sunshine preferred 365 days annually.

Now, I know its January. Winter. Nasty pretty much everywhere. But when its cold outside in subtropical Central Florida, I can only say UGH. It's been wet, overcast, windy and chillin' here for the worst part of a week and I find myself wrapped up in wooley throws and sweatshirts and socks, running a space heater at night and burrowing under two blankets, two quilts, and two of the dogs. What's worse is that I don't want to do anything. Except nap, eat cookies, and read books. I read three books since last Wednesday and lost count of the naps and cookies. I haven't done laundry or cleaned house. Piles of lazy Nancy clutter are everywhere around the house. I have to force myself even to walk the dogs. I might as well just join the bears and hibernate.

At least today, its sunny and cold. That helps a little.

We did manage to do some interesting thing over the last few days, though, despite my torpor. On Thursday afternoon we went to the newish Ikea store west of town which was awesome. Especially the displays of 500 square foot and 250 square foot complete living areas. Swedish ingenuity at its best. I bought a baby storage thingy for Alex's future toys, a leather desk chair, and some Swedish cookies. On Friday night we went to a welcome home party for "Big Alex" (Amy's father-in-law) who returned safe and sound from a year of working in Iraq. Saturday we went to a Robert Burns birthday dinner (249th birthday) sponsored by the St Andrews Society. As promised, I skipped the haggis.

Tomorrow is Primary voting day in Florida. I'm too tired to comment on politics today except to say that I'm a registered Republican and I'm voting for John McCain despite the fact that I passionately disagree with his stance on the war in Iraq. I would vote for Ron Paul but he doesn't stand a rat's ass of a chance to win and a vote for MCCain is a vote against Romney who I really detest. The political commentator who said he looks and sounds like a guy who would ooze his way up to you, smiling his whitened tooth smile and say, "What's it gonna take to get you into a brand new BMW today?" was right on. Mitt Romney reminds me of the "Yes Man" doll my mother gave my ex husband one Christmas. Also reminds me a little of the Steve Carrel character on the TV show, The Office, too. Not too bright, clueless, and more than a little creepy. YUCK!

If I was a registered Democrat, I'd vote for John Edwards who also doesn't stand a rat's ass chance of winning. I'd vote for John because I don't have a clear preference for either Hillary or Obama and because I believe he really would fight the special interest folks and the big insurance bastards for us overburdened middle class people.

I like Mike Huckabee's stance on the Fair Tax, too but not his views on same sex marriage and gays. I'd vote for him over Romney, too. He also has the best sense of humor...and Chuck Norris on his side.

'Nuff politics. I feel a nap coming on so I'll stop after the history trivia bit.

On this day in history:

1547...Henry the Eighth of England dies, succeeded by his only son, Edward the VI

1915...the US Coast Guard is created under the Wilson administration official cease fire goes into effect in the Vietnam war

1986...the space shuttle Challenger explodes killing all seven crew members

Happy birthday to Alan Alda, Barbi Benton, Elijah Wood,.

Happy unbirthday to me

Live long and prosper.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Story exerpt

Here's an excerpt from a rough draft of a story in progress:

Nancy Wayman Deutsch

Thump a thump, thump a thump, thump a thump.
The dark-haired girl standing just inside the barn's open door smiled as the puppy’s tail beat out the message against the prison walls of its wooden crate.
“Hey there,” she whispered.
As if in response, the dog whined and wiggled, tail slapping faster and harder against the sides. Thump a thump, thump a thump, thump thump thump.“I’m so glad you came at last,” the puppy said, although it wasn’t in human words. “I’ve been waiting here for you.” Thump, thump, thump. “Only you, only you.”
Charlotte understood the puppy’s intent as if she’d heard it speak aloud. She knew it with every stacatto beat of the heart within her own bony chest. She’d heard the drumbeat message even before she entered the vast cavern of Henkle’s barn, because she could feel it resonate inside her with every breath she took.
Thump a thump, thump a thump, thump thump.
“I’m here now,” she said. “You don’t got to wear out your tail.”
The drumbeat of sound stopped for a moment, puppy cocking its head. Then, the canine Morse Code resumed. Thump a thump, thump a thump. Thump, thump thump! Charlotte's smile widened. She couldn’t see much inside the barn’s dim interior, but she didn’t have to. She knew exactly where the puppy was.
“You know you got a gift, don’t you pup? You got the knack for drum music. Mebbe you an me can run off an join the circus band.”
She’d heard the puppy calling to her long before she’d knocked on the Henkle’s kitchen door five minutes ago. She’d heard it in her dreams and from the moment she’d opened her eyes just past dawn, she’d kept listening to the call. Listening through the long morning as she made breakfast, washed up, and fed the few scrawny chickens rooting for scraps in the dirt outside the unpainted ramshackle shanty she and her pappy called home. She’d known, although she couldn’t have explained the how and why of it, had known there was a dog in Henkle’s barn that needed her. That it was waiting for her to come and claim it as soon as she could get away--when the saloon on Main and First Street opened for business and Pappy went, as he did nearly every day, to find the cure for the pain that had lodged in his soul since the day her mama died beside Charlotte's stillborn baby brother.
It was as if a shining silver chain she couldn’t see, but could feel coming out of the middle of her body, tied her to a dog she’d never known existed until this morning. A puppy that Mama up in Heaven surely meant for her, just as she was meant for it. She knew, without understanding how it was possible to know such things, that this particular dog was going to be her best friend and that it was going to change her life.
Charlotte walked barefoot across the dirt floor towards the animal crate. The thumping sound got louder, faster. Charlotte’s heartbeat matched it, Thump, thump, thump, thump a thump, thump thump! She scrunched down on her heels and leaned forward, peering through a knot-hole in the side of the crate at the half-grown Catahoula Leopard Hound. Two earth colored eyes set beneath brown spots stared back, then blinked. One of the eyes had light blue spots in the iris, as if some of the brown color had slipped off the top, revealing a different shade underneath. A moist black nose thrust forward, nostrils flaring in and out. Charlotte could see thick coal colored whiskers moving back and forth beside the puppy’s nose, as it explored her scent. The dog shook its droopy black ears, making a sound like a whip, then blew through it’s nose, making a soft noise that sounded to Charlotte like “Wuff.”
“Wuff to you, too,” she replied. “You sure are a beauty.”
“You be careful, gal,” called Ma Henkle from the doorway behind her. “You’d best wait for Henry to come afore you let it out. Won’t do fer it to run off. That’s one valuable hound in thar. Mebbe the runt of the litter, but that dog’s mam was one hell of a cur. Best hog dog in the county, accordin’ to Levi.”
“I’ll be careful ma’am,” Charlotte answered. “I’m just looking at it.”
“I don’t want you to get yer hopes up, Charlie,” said the woman, moving forward to stand next to the crate. “ Are you sure your pappy is all fer it? Don’t sound likeAbner Boone ter me.”
“Oh yes,” lied Charlotte, crossing the fingers of her right hand behind her back. “Pa knows I want a dog more than anything in my whole life, and my birthday’s coming up. It'll be okay with him if I work to pay for it.”
“Well, we’ll see what Levi says. Them dogs is his to do with what he wants ter. Now, don’t look so stricken gal,” she added, noting Charlotte’s sudden frown. “The good Lord provides miracles sometimes, I reckon.”
I hope so, thought Charlotte. ‘Cause I truly need one, now.
“Henry,” called Ma Henkle. “Come out here and let that pup out. Charlie is here and wants to see it.”
“Comin’ ma,” her son answered from the doorway behind them.
"I got to get back to work,” said Ma Henkle as soon as her son entered the barn. “It's wash day.”
“Yes, maa'm,” Charlotte replied. “Thank 'ee for letting me see the dog.”
“Ain't no trouble,'tall” smiled Ma, patting Charlie's arm. “You come over soon and take a cup of tea of a Sunday afternoon, you hear?'
“Yes, maa'm. Thank you.'
“You take care of Charlie, Henry,” said Ma, crossing to the barn door.
“Yes, Ma,” the tall red-haired young man smiled. “that I will.”

* * *

“She’s a beauty, ain’t she?” asked Charlotte, as she stroked the dog’s velvety ear.
“That she is,” Henry agreed.
“So, how come she didn’t get sold, like the others? Yer ma said she’s real valuable.”
Henry took off his baseball cap and scratched his curly hair. “Well, Charley, I’ll tell you the truth. Whatever Ma said, the dog won’t hunt.”
“No, I mean she really won’t. Pa tried to train her, but she didn’t take to it. No interest in ‘coons at all. Ain’t much of a stock dog either. Ignored the cows as if she didn’t even know they was there and ran away from our old boar. Folks around her don’t need no pet dog and that’s about all she’s good fer.”
“Well,” Charlotte replied. “A pet dog is exactly what I need. How much you reckon your Pa will want for her?”
“Dunno,” Henry said. “She's a purebred 'Hoola. Patch work coat is real purty too. But I’ll put in a good word for you if you’ll help me out a bit.”
“Well,it's like this. I want to graduate high school. Coach says I got a chance to play ball at WVU and I want to go. It’s the only way out of this one horse burg for me. But I gotta get my math grades up some. You’ve got a head for that stuff, Charlie. You get straight As even though you don't come to school regular.”
Charlotte dropped her hand from the velvety softness of the hoola's ear. “I'd rather be in school, Henry...but I have to take care of Pa. He...gets...sick... a lot. Some days he don't even get out of bed.”
Henry frowned. “He manages to find his way to Delaney's bar near on every day though, Charlie.”
Charlotte stiffened and stood up. “That's not fair, Henry. He ain't no town drunk. It's just, well, he's had a lot of troubles of late. You know that work fell off in the mines.”
Henry nodded. “That it did.I I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything.”
“It's okay. I reckon though my Pappy's not the only miner in the holler to drown his sorrows in a bottle now and again.”
“Mebbe so.”
“Especially after he got hurt in the cave in and got fired for good,” Charlotte continued. “We still owe money to the company store. I got to help out.”
“Well, sure you do. You're all he's got. Folks know you do the best you can. It's a shame though you can't stay in school.”
Charlotte shrugged. “I get by. I read Mama's books at home when I get the time.”
The puppy rubbed its muzzle against Charlotte's threadbare skirt then leaned down to sniff her bare toes with an elegantly pointed snout. The girl laughed as she felt a wet tongue tasting the salt on her skin. “That tickles,” she laughed, bending down to ruffle floppy hound ears once more.
Henry cleared his throat. “Charlie, will you help me study?” he asked.
“Well, sure,” she said, standing up. “Maybe we could trade my time for the pup.”
Henry nodded. “If Pa agrees. I 'spect he will. He’d like to see me play ball, but he can’t afford college. I’d be the first Henkle to graduate high school and make it to university, but I gotta get a scholarship.”
“Okay then,” smiled Charlotte, looking back at the pup. “If it’s okay with yer Pa, then we got a deal.”
The pup, sat down on it’s haunches and scratched it’s left ear with a long brown leg. “What do you think, pup?” asked Charlotte. “Is it a deal? You wanna be my dog?”
“Whuff!” barked the pup, as if in assent.
“Well,” laughed Henry. “Seems like she agrees, too. I’ll talk to Pa after supper.”
The Catahoula cur stiffened as a wavering shadow fell across the doorway behind them, blocking the light from the yard. “What the hell you doing here, girl?” growled Charlotte's pappy. “I bin lookin' fer you all over tarnation.”
Charlie flinched from the sound of his voice. It wasn't going to be one of Pa's better days. She could tell from the slurring of the words that he was already well on the way to being 'flat on his ass drunk' and it wasn't even supper time yet.
“I'm sorry 'bout that Pa,” she said. “I just come over to see Ma Henkle, that's all.”
“Well, you ain't done all the chores yet.”
“I done 'em all, Pa. Or else I wouldn't have come over here.”
Abner shook his head. The action caused him to grab onto the door frame to steady himself. “No, you ain't washed my Sunday go to meetin' shirt and I have a mind ter go inter town this afternoon. I got an important meetin.”
I hope he's not meeting that fancy woman at the Full Moon Trailer park again, Charlotte thought. It's a disgrace, even for Pa. She counted to fivc before replying.“What important meeting would that be Pa? You ain't got a job interview, have you?
“Girl, leave off. You know I'm disabled since I hurt my back in the mine cave-in. I can't hold no job.”
“Or his likker, either,” Henry muttered under his breath.
Charlotte poked him in the ribs. “Hush,” she warned.
But, it was too late. Her pappy had heard.
Abner lurched unsteadily across the barn to sway in front of Henry. “Ain't nuthin' wrong with my ears,” he declared, pointing his shaky finger at Henry's face. “You show me some respect, boy, or I'll teach it to you on the end of a belt.”
The dog growled and rose to its feet. It stood, stiff-legged between Charlie and Henry hair bristling between its shoulders.“You and who else?” said Henry, standing straight and tall. At six foot two, he towered over Abner's own five foot eight. “I ain't no little kid you can toss around.”
Charlie wedged herself between the two posturing males and took hold of her Pappy's arm. “He didn't mean nothing Pappy,” she soothed. “Let's go on home now, and I'll iron you that shirt, okay?”
But Abner was high on Dutch courage and rot gut. “You get out of my way gal,” he growled, shoving Charlie to the side. She fell backwards against the crate. The hoola pup yelped, jumping backwards in surprise.”
Henry reached out and took hold of Abner's hand. “If you shove her again, I'm gonna lay you out.”
Abner peered blearily up at Henry's face. “Let go, you got no call to pick on a crippled man,” he whined pulling backward in Henry's firm grip.
Charlie bent down to stroke the dog. “Hush pup,” she said, “It'll be all right.” The dog barked sharply as if disagreeing with Charlie's prediction.
Abner rubbed his forehead with his free hand. “Shut that damn dog up, Charlie. It hurts my head.”
“I'm sorry, Pa. She don't mean nothin'. She just got scared when I bumped the crate, that's all.”
The dog barked again. “I said hush,” commanded Charlie, nudging the dog back into the crate and closing the door. Inside the crate, the dog sat, head cocked to the side and ears forward.
“Let him go, Henry,” she said standing up. “I reckon he just needs to go home and sleep it off awhile. I'll come back later.”
“No, you won't. I don't want you over here no more,” Abner ordered.
“But, I'm gonna help Henry with his numbers and he's gonna trade for my time.”
Abner squinted. “Fer what, exactly?”
“Fer this here dog, that's what.”said Charlie, gesturing at the crate. “She's a purebred patch-work Catahoula.”
“You ain't getting' no damn dog. It's got fleas and will eat us outa house and home.”
Charlie sighed. “Pa, you said I could have sumthin' fer my birthday this year. This is what I want. The only thing I want. You won't even have to pay fer it.”
“You ain't getting no dog,” Abner repeated. “I hate dogs. They're filthy beasts. If'n I see a dog 'round my place, I'm gonna shoot it right between the eyes.”
“You know you don't want to do that, Pa,” Charlotte soothed. “A dog around the place will be right handy. She'll keep them pesky foxes away from the hens and warn us when folks 'come round. Just think, fresh eggs of a morning and a Sunday chicken in the pot and no bill collectors knocking at the door. A Catahoula is a fine watch dog, Pa. Everybody knows that.”
“Well, I dunno, Charlie. I never had a dog.”
“You'll like this one,” Charlotte said, taking Abner's arm and steering him to the barn door. “I'm sure of it.”
“I doubt it,” Abner answered. “And I ain't promising you can keep it either. When are you gonna get time to teach Henry and do yer chores and your piece work too?”
“You just let me worry 'bout that, Pa,” said Charlotte, turning to wink at Henry and the canine object of her heart's desire. It's in the bag, she mouthed silently.
Henry chucked. “I've never doubted you,” he said aloud.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dog Blog

Tonight, I've gone to the dogs. Okay, that's not really very different than any other night I guess, but I thought it was a cute lead in for the blog. So here's my report from Dogtown.

Ginny went to the vet today. Verdict: she slit her front right paw metatarsal pad on glass. Stitches are not possible. She has to wear a boot at all times, is on antibiotics, and is not allowed to do her daily walks (ie squirrel chases and tree climbing). No dog park runs for four weeks. Ginny is sad. Ginny doesn't feel good either.

My back yard backs up to a road that some people like to speed along at night. Especially after drinking. Sometimes, they throw bottles and trash over my six foot high wooden fence and concrete wall. I don't aways notice stuff in the semi jungle of the yard. Ginny must have encountered a glass shard during her fence perimeter runs. I'd like to hit the frelling creep who threw the bottle in my yard over the head with what's left of it! Would if i knew who it was, too.

Alas, beloved ball Greenie is no more. (Picture number one). Chili loved it to pieces. Literally.

Chili is starting dog agility classes in two weeks. Should be fun! ACDs are generally very well suited to agility and it will be a good energy outlet for her. Maybe help moderate her rascalness a little. Maybe not. She has mastered the pantry door opening technique. She ripped into a bag of Sun Chips and a box of Triskets while we were out. That's an Australian Cattle Dog for you. No rules, just right, mate.

My cousin sent me the dog video. It is guaranteed to make you smile.


Monday, January 21, 2008

On bagpipers Burns, and haggis chefs

In the vein of all things Scottish since this week commemorates the birth of beloved Scottish poet, Robert Burns, here's a recipe for haggis. They will be serving it, as usual, at the Burns Night dinner this coming Saturday evening. As usual, I will not be eating it. As far as I know, eating haggis hasn't kilt anyone yet. But you never know. Anyway, I'm half German.

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown on the television show Good Eats

1sheep stomach
1 sheep liver
1 sheep heart
1 sheep tongue
1/2 pound suet, minced
3 medium onions, minced
1/2 pound dry oats, toasted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried ground herbsRinse the stomach thoroughly and soak overnight in cold salted water.

Rinse the liver, heart, and tongue. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook these parts over medium heat for 2 hours. Remove and mince. Remove any gristle or skin and discard.

In a large bowl, combine the minced liver, heart, tongue, suet, onions, and toasted oats. Season with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Moisten with some of the cooking water so the mixture binds. Remove the stomach from the cold salted water and fill 2/3 with the mixture. Sew or tie the stomach closed. Use a turning fork to pierce the stomach several times. This will prevent the haggis from bursting.

In a large pot of boiling water, gently place the filled stomach, being careful not to splash. Cook over high heat for 3 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes, if you serve it at all.

Okay, if you're still with me at this point, here's a video of pipe bands at the Orlando Scottish Games playing Scotland The Brave. As for me, I love the sound of bagpipes. It calls to my Celtic side, alternately bringing tears to my eyes and making me long for a sword and an enemy to bash. There was a reason why the kilted regiments with their pipers were called 'the ladies from Hell'.

Scotland forever!!

Week end update

We had an interesting week end despite some uncomfortable weather. Saturday, we woke up to wind, cool temperatures, and mist: a perfect day for attending the annual Scottish Games held at Tradewinds Park in Winter Springs. After all, what's more Scottish than cold, wind, and mist? Okay, throw in Scotch whiskey, oatmeal, and plaid, lithe and lovely young lasses dancing the traditional Sword dances in competition, big and brawny lads tossing telephone pole sized cabers across the field, some swordplay, Celtic music, border collies herding sheep, marching bands of bagpipers from as far away as Canada...well, you get the picture. We visited the clan tents, stopping as always to chat awhile at Clan Gunn (mine) and Campbell (Danny's). We sampled traditional Scottish games "fast" food like Bridies and meat pies, shortbread and scones. Skipped the Possum haggis at the Clan McBubba 'shop' though. Laird knows, regular haggis is bad enough.

Despite, or maybe because of, the iffy weather, the games were very popular and parking on site was full. We had to park about a quarter of a mile away in a shopping center. When we left I asked a policeman for a direct and hopefully shortcut way back to the car. He steered us down a nature trail, saying it would eventually drop us off at the Winter Springs Towne Centre. The word eventually didn't register in my consciousness until we'd walked about four miles without sign of a single commercial building. Another mile through the 'lions, tigers, and bears, oh my', and we did eventually end up back at the car. Fortunately, we're used to walking. Didn't seem right though without at least one dog for company.

Saturday evening we went to an art sale benefit for a friend who's husband is ill with cancer. Afterwards, we had supper and fine conversation with long time friends of mine, recently moved back from the West Coast. Chili 'entertained' them by charmingly manipulating them into throwing the ball for her for an hour in true ACD style. Chili knows a mark when she sees one..or two. Be wary of cattle Dogs. Be very wary.

This week end featured another sort of annual event.

Today, was bright and sunny although windy and cold. We went to a dog agility competition. Yes, Border Collies really can fly...or seem to anyway. Jack Russell Terriers can really hustle, too. We're hoping to start Ginny and Chili in a beginner's group in February. It's a fun sport!

Speaking of Ginny, she cut up her front right foot pad last night running the perimeter of the back yard and is wearing a "Mukluck" boot on her paw until it heals. She doesn't really like it but it is sooo cute!

Well, all for now my little bloggers. Live long and prosper. If you have the day off for MLK's birthday, enjoy!

Friday, January 18, 2008

alex and amy

Here's some pictures of Amy as a baby and most recent pictures of Alex, who is one week old today. Do you see any resemblance yet?

Happy day!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

On possums and skunks

Two poems by me, Nancy Wayman Deutsch

The possum is a surly beast
and not a thing of beauty.
Somehow it’s numbers have increased,
though Nature made it moody.

This animal is hard to love,
even by those of it’s kind.
When I spy one in my yard,
it brings a rat to mind.

Distant cousin of the kangaroo,
it also has a pouch.
It clings to oak limb overhead,
and hisses, the old grouch!

A scruffy gray with wiry coat,
long tail a naked pink.
If survival needed personality
the beast would go extinct.

It dines on bugs and other grub
a gourmand would deplore.
When Nature bestowed intellect,
poor possum she ignored.

When it’s harassed by dog or cat,
our hero plays quite dead.
It hopes to fool it’s enemies.
That’s all that’s in it’s head.

Yet often it does seem to work,
this not so clever plan.
For predators lose interest
and possum comes to life again!

If you see a skunk, please run away,
‘cause if you pause, he might just spray.
Then, my dear, you’ll hold your nose,
with skunky stink all over clothes!

No one will like you very well.
Your skin will have an awful smell.
You’ll have to burn each thing you wore
and scrub yourself until you’re sore.

Though skunks look cute in stripy fur,
you cannot play with him or her.
It’s fact indeed; it’s not a rumor
that skunks don’t have a sense of humor.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Object of Chili's Affection

Behold Chili and her beloved 'Greenie'. Some dogs adopt baby animals from another species. Some dogs adopt an old sock or a squeaky toy or a stuffed animal. Not our ball obsessed Australian Cattle Dog. No sir. Chili is totally enamored of an emerald colored racket ball that apparently was in Danny's truck when he bought it back after Hurricane Charley killed his Buick.
Somehow, the ball rolled free of its hiding place after three years and Danny gave it to me to give to Chili several days ago. She hasn't let it out of her sight willingly ever since. Generally, 'Greenie' is in Chili's mouth. Barring that, it rests between her paws or in clear visual sight for instant retrieval.

The racket ball goes with Chili when she sleeps at the foot of the bed each night, stays in her mouth when she goes out to pee, and is carefully left by the front door when she goes out to walk. Now, Chili has lots of other toys: two Kongs, two super hard rubber balls, a crazy bouncy thing we call Knobby, as well as numerous bones. (She shreds and defluffs the usual soft doggie toys in a minute and a half so we don't give her those anymore.) Chili loses all her other toys under beds and sofas and outside in the yard with regularity. Out of sight, out of mind. She doesn't care what's gone as long as at least one toy is available to chew on, tease Ginny with, or retrieve. Not 'Greenie' though. You'd think the ball was her beloved puppy or something.

Well, tonight, near tragedy struck. 'Greenie' went MIA. Danny took Chili out in the yard to look for it. Alas, 'Greenie' was not found. All was not well in Chili's world! Then, Danny went to the fridge to get a cold drink. When he opened the door, Chili darted into the fridge, snatched something, and darted away. Yes, you no doubt guessed it. 'Greenie' had been in the refrigerator.

How so? I'd eaten some cold chicken leftovers from Saturday night about an hour before 'Greenie' went missing. When I put the chicken away, Chili must have dropped her ball inside the fridge while trying to get her head into the leftover pot roast she's been trying to snatch for two days. I didn't see and closed the door.

There is peace in the house again. Cold, well preserved 'Greenie' is now back in Chili's tender care none the worse for wear.

Live long and prosper.

Friday, January 11, 2008

First photos of Baby Alex

Officially announcing the arrival of Alexi Paul Khoury at eleven thirty-six on January 10, 2008.

Birth weight: seven pounds, three ounces
Length: twenty one and a half inches
eyes: blue
hair: brown
parents: Amy and Elias Khoury

Awaiting Alex

The first part of this Blog entry was written prior to answering a very special phone call thirty minutes ago. A news update follows.

Here's a picture of Amy a month or so ago when she was still mobile. This morning she went into labor. She's still in labor and she's not mobile anymore. I spent most of the day and all evening at the hospital in company with her dad, sister Laura, and son-in-law Elias.

Amy is in a new state of the art facility that only delivers babies. It looks more like an upscale airport or hotel than a hospital with an atrium design, a giant lobby with soaring glass windows that go up several stories, and a large open cafeteria and patios. What it doesn't have are waiting rooms for parents and friends on the maternity floor or a big nursery behind glass where you can see all the rows of babies in little bassinets. No anxious fathers pace in the hallways. Nothing looks or smells like a hospital. It's quiet. You have to be photographed and wear ID badges and pass through locked doors and checkpoints to get to the rooms where the mothers to be await. The bathrooms are more luxurious than mine. The rooms are private and pretty posh with leather recliner chairs for the dads and flat screen TVs with cable. Internet connections, too. The baby is actually delivered in the room instead of in surgery. Almost like being home in bed for delivery.

Amy was pretty calm all day. Obviously in pain even after the epidural but she never cried out. She did keep telling the nurse that she was in pain and the pain meds weren't helping. The nurse seemed to shrug off the statements. When the shift changed, the next nurse discovered the pump wasn't working and no pain medication had been delivered for four hours! Once the meds kicked in, all was well, except that Amy was ravenously hungry, not having eaten for nearly 24 hours.

Since this hospital doesn't really have convenience for family and friends in mind, they like to close down to visitors at ten. Only the husband or labor coach is permitted upstairs in the delivery room. (The valet parking closes too, so if you choose to huddle in an obscure corner of the lobby, you will have great difficulty getting your car to leave before nine the next morning.)

Well, by ten pm Amy wasn't having regular contractions and was only dilated six centimeters. She decided to try to get some sleep. She sent her dad and me home. Sister Laura went back upstairs to say good night and decided to stay behind awhile longer.

Here comes the update:

My phone rang at twelve-fifteen. I raced across the house to grab it, thinking that it was probably Elias signing off for the night. I was wrong. It was Amy. Tired, weak, but happy.

About forty five minutes after Amy's dad and I left, Amy dilated up to eight centimeters and the contractions began in earnest. Baby Alex made a grand entrance at 11:45 pm on Thursday January 10th. He is seven and a half pounds, twenty one inches, dark haired and blue eyed.

Now that its over, Amy sounded as if it was as if was easy.

Congratulations to the new parents and Alexi Paul Khoury.

God bless us every one.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

On this day in history and other things

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I got tired of watching CNN's New Hampshire Primary coverage and found these two images on AOL's weird news UPI site. I like to consider myself a writer. I can do a thousand words on each picture easy. But I'll keep it shorter. The first is from Korea and shows cats that actually glow in the dark. More mad scientist genetic tinkering that has questionable moral and limited practical use.

Now if you grow tired of buying batteries for your flashlights or broke your favorite night light by knocking it out of the outlet when you threw the ball for the thousandth time in five minutes for your Australian Cattle Dog, maybe getting yourself a glow in the dark feline would be okay. But, then you'd have to carry the darn cat with you everywhere you went in the dark. Useful during power outages maybe. Inconvenient otherwise. Imagine if you got mice or rats in the house. Poor cat couldn't exactly sneak up on the rodents in the dark. Course, a glow in the dark cat might come in handy if The Mummy breaks in. You could see him with the lights off before he grabs you. Just be sure you have the white cat in your arms though. Old bandage boy is afraid of white cats. Dunno why. Just written into the script that way I guess.

The second picture is from Poland and shows a bunch of Santa Clauses (St Nicholases) in front of an upside down house. Do you suppose little Stanislaus Stopinski asked for a new house for Christmas? Maybe it rolled off an overloaded sled and landed upside down. How many Santas does it take to turn an upside down alpine house right side up? I dunno, do you?

Okay, now for some quasi serious stuff. On this day in history:
1794: President George Washington okayed adding two stars and two stripes to our flag in honor of Vermont and Kentucky joining the Union.
A bunch of people died, among them American composer Stephen Foster at age 37 (1864), Irish writer James Joyce at age 58, and American Vice President Hubert Humphrey at age 66.
A bunch of celebrities were born, among them movie heartthrob Orlando Bloom (31), Julia Louis Dreyfus of Seinfeld fame (47), and hunky Patrick Dempsey (42) of Gray's Anatomy.
The Off Broadway hit musical play, The Fantasticks, closed after an original run of 42 years and 17,162 performances.

On the subject of the elections and primaries: I get the people's and politico's concerns regarding the dismal state of the American economy, the war in Iraq, taxes, global warming, affordable energy, and health care. If I were President, I'd work to eliminate income taxes and institute a fair tax, end our military presence in Iraq, fix all the house foreclosures and unfair banking and credit practices, institute affordable universal health care, and find alternative energy sources to oil. With luck, a hundred years in office, and good folks working for me, I might actually achieve those things.

But, what I really don't get is the issue of illegal aliens. What are people so afraid of?

Okay, maybe we should 'fix' the so called broken borders, although I hate to see a Great Wall of China scenario across the Southwest. Admittedly, we have to try to keep the Islamic terrorists and drug guys out. But, why not let in all Mexican immigrants without criminal records who want to move here in the gates? Issue them temporary work visas and ID cards. They come here, as our ancestors did, because they want a better life for themselves and their children. They'd rather come in openly than sneak in-- if they only could.

Why don't we abolish quotas? Just a in the good old days when my folks came in from Scotland, England and Germany. We could actually become the land of the free again. Let's say we let our guest workers apply for citizenship after a year-- or go home. If they work, study English, and pay taxes and are able to pass the written citizenship test then they can be legal Americans after a predetermined' good faith' time. If they serve in our military they get fast tracked. Anyone already here illegally who wants to stay pays a fine and works for citizenship. Call that amnesty, I don't care. Anyone born here is an American no matter what status the parents had.

From listening to the media and politicians, I gather my views regarding Mexico are in the minority. I am liberal about that, but I admit to some current prejudice regarding Muslims in general. The militant middle eastern Jihadists have me nervous about having Muslim neighbors. Sad but true. Seems like, unlike our Catholic Mexican neighbors to the south, the Muslims seek world political and religious domination. The Mexicans just want a better life. Want to be part of our country, not destroy it. Seems like the Muslims are saying, "Don't agree with Mohammed and we put you to the sword." Women in particular seem to be particularly detested in Muslim culture. Judging by the way they're treated as second class citizens, dominated by men at every turn. I wish personally knew some free thinking kindly Muslims that would help me change my way of thinking, but I don't. So, for now, in that respect at least, I remain unenlightened.

Yes, I think we should get out of their countries. They don't welcome our kind of democracy. We should leave them alone. They should leave us alone too, though. Separate but equal. No war. Everybody playing well together. On that note, I'm glad I'm not President. I dunno why Hillary and Barak and Mitt and Mike and John one and two want it. Crappy job, that. Running countries.

Live long and prosper.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Greetings bloggers. Here's Ginny all bundled up in one of my office chairs. She hates being cold. A true snugglehund.

One week of the new year is over. 51 to go. So far, I've kept my only 2008 resolution: I have increased my physical exercise. I worked out once and did Yoga three times last week and did 45 minutes of Yoga today. All in addition to our daily one hour walks. Alas, I'm still covered with excess flesh. Oh, well, 51 weeks to go. Weight can be lost. Muscles can be regained. Exercise just has to become a habit again.

Danny and I reluctantly took down the big Christmas tree today, I straightened the garage as much as possible, and we put the tree and ornaments away. That makes it official: Christmas 2007 is totally over. It was a good one.

2007 was not such a great year though for me between the frustrating and discouraging first seven months spent fruitlessly trying and hoping to sell the house and my mother's sudden death in May.

In fact, 2007 wasn't such a good year for most folks. I can sum it up in a few words. Global Warming causing dangerous weather, Iraq, national Real Estate meltdown, foreclosures, high price of oil, insurance debacle, debates over illegal immigration, credit card debt... and the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room that nobody wants to admit they see but we all know is lurking in the corner... recession. Maybe the upcoming election will make things better in the USA in the near future. Maybe not. I agree with Barak Obama though, that it is time for change. I agree with Ron Paul that it has to be the right sort of change. The sort of change that makes things better not worse. Here's hoping.

My two personal high points of 2007 were finishing and publishing my book and awaiting the upcoming birth of my grandson, Alex. Alex, for those of you who want to know, is scheduled to make his first public appearance on or about January 10th. That's two more days. Soon, I will be 'Nan Nan'.

Tonight I made a pot roast. It was tasty too. I rarely cook anything much more involved than a stir fry or baked chicken breast with salad anymore, but the checker at Publix accidentally put a big chuck roast in my bag the week before Christmas. So, when life gives you meat, you make pot roast, right? Anyway, Nan Nans should make pot roasts. And cookies and cakes. It's a rule someplace. Mine made turkey and home made ice cream, but its the same concept. Comfort food.

I tried to start the new year out responsibly last week. I called my mother's lawyer to check on the estate settlement progress. I packed up some more stuff at her house. I called the handyman regarding finishing the repairs there. I called the insurance lady about setting up my HSA account. I contacted the financial advisor with a whole list of questions. Nobody was in their office last week. I left messages. Thus far, nobody has returned my calls. 2008 is starting out just like 2007. In frustration. Insert rueful laugh here.

Live long and prosper.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

holiday wrap up

Happy New Year y'all.

We finished 2007 with a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house followed by a weird dog walk with Ginny and Chili through our neighborhood. I say weird walk because neighbors were firing the sort of sky-borne exploding fireworks you usually see at city 4th of July venues. The 'show' was complete with smoke, loud noises, and bottle rockets. As we turned the corner on our own street, a bottle rocket misfired from the other end of the street and came whizzing along the ground like a flaming guided missile straight at us. Ginny ducked for cover between Danny's legs but Chili lunged forward to happily tackle it. Australian Cattle Dogs (think Mel Gibson's break through movie The Road Warrior) don't fear much of anything at all. I could just imagine our own little Crocodile Chili say, "By Crikey, that's not a bottle rocket!" Fortunately, the thing didn't hit us and Chili didn't rip into it. The whole walk felt and sounded sort of like a bad night in downtown Baghdad though. Fortunately, knowing people would be noisy we didn't take Abby out walking. She's terrified of fireworks from puppy hood incidents.

New Years Day, we ended our holiday by spending the afternoon at Universal Studios where we watched some of the Macy's parade, rode the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster and the Men In Black Space Aliens ride, previewed the new Disaster! ride, and spent some more quality time with the Terminator at his show. The Disaster venue features some dandy holographic type special effects with Christopher Walken but needs some more work on the actual ride sequence in the subway. We explored Woody Woodpecker and Curious George's kiddie park where we would have played if the darn kiddies weren't there. Universal was pretty crowded, but the day was a nice end to the holidays.

About an hour after we returned home, it got gall dang cold! It stayed nippy all day today as well. It's now about 40 degrees out with a pretty nifty arctic wind. Brrr.

Tonight, after watching the movie, The Kingdom on DVD we bundled up, put the dogs (faux) sheepskin lined car coats on them and walked. I wore exercise stretch pants under my fleece pants, a sweater, a hooded sweatshirt, a vest, my ski type jacket , a hat, and ski gloves! You'd think I was preparing for a jaunt to the North Pole or something. That's what comes of living three decades in generally warm Florida...I can't handle cold anymore.

Tomorrow, back to the real world of settling estates, taxes, house updates and house selling, and trying to figure out insurance crap. Ugh. Can't we have Christmas again?

Live long and prosper.