Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just bits n bytes.

This is the un cropped version of my new Facebook profile picture of choice. I prefer cropped version. In this picture I look like I have HUGE hands. I thought it was kinda funny. I do have huge feet, but my hands fall in the normal range.

I can't believe that Memorial Day has come and gone and it is now, unofficially at least, summer. Whoopee. Now, I can wear white gloves over my huge hands. Just kidding. But I do remember, when I was a kid up north that we couldn't wear white until after Memorial Day. I don't wear white much anyway because if I do I always spill something on it immediately. It's a curse.

Our Memorial Day week end consisted of mall shopping, seeing Star Trek and Angels And Demons and eating out, Mexican one night and Bahama Breeze the next. It stormed each and every day and every night, too. On Memorial Day itself, we ventured out to Sea World despite a 60% chance of rain. It did rain around six pm in the park for a little while which closed down the water rides and roller coasters but mostly it was unbearably hot and humid. I must have been borderline dehydrated when I went and despite sipping water all day I got dizzy and sick. Sitting inside one of the restaurants and eating a giant bowl of soft ice cream helped and I gamely rode the Atlantis water roller coaster if not the new upside down face forwards Manta coaster. But we did tour the new aquarium there connected to the ride which was tres cool and visited the dolphins, manatees, penguins, puffins, sharks, seals, gators, etc and saw our favorite show (Pets Ahoy). We drove to Sea World in the Winnebago and it was nice to be able to go back there hot, tired, wet and dirty and clean up a little and eat supper on board. I was able to lie down on the sofa while Danny drove home and we had cold drinks aboard in the fridge. Great way to go!

I woke up today with a nasty headache, probably also from the dehydration. You'd think I would know better than to venture outside on a beastly hot and humid day to a theme park without being well hydrated! After decades of living in a subtropical climate, I should know the ropes. I still have a Superwoman complex I suppose.

Its raining again. That's seven rainy stormy days out of the last seven. Good news: grass is a fantastic shade of green. Frogs are happy. Bad news; rain is depressing!

By the way, to help keep boredom at bay during the recent monsoon, I read Stephanie Meyer's Twilight. I am probably the last female in America to read it. I was surprised to find it well written and almost impossible to put down. An old fashioned romance. Surprised that the super hip young girls of today like it but glad that they do. A story that features love not lust, sacrifice, good being preferable over evil, courage...doing the right thing and thinking of others before oneself...who knew so many would still like it? And almost five hundred pages, too. Teens are reading again. Hoo-ray. And grown ups can enjoy it too. That's what good writing is all about. Being universal in appeal.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Trivial Pursuits

Wow, I read a couple of interesting things this week.

First, did you know there is some sort of fly in South America that is the natural enemy of fire ants? This creature stings the ant, injects it's egg into the ant on the back of it's...uh neck...and the larva eats the ant's brain so it becomes a Zombie ant and runs around witless for two weeks until its head drops off. Sort of Alien Versus Predator, eh? Since fire ants are such a problem in Texas, they're importing and releasing some of the kamikaze flies. Somehow, I see some future problems here. And maybe a movie of the week.

Second, did you know that monks actually found Arthur's legendary sword Excalibur (aka Caliban) buried near Glastonbury, England (aka Avalon) in the 1180's? King Henry II (Plantagenet) sent it as a gift to the King of Sicily, his son-in-law. True to swords of legend, it went missing again some years later and has never been recovered, although there are some stories that place it near Mt Etna. Hear that, Indiana Jones?

On the home front: Chili has learned how to unzip Danny's back pack and remove any leftover food he's forgotten and left in there. So who needs hands and thumbs, anyway? She hasn't as yet realized she has to dispose of the ripped up sandwich bags or tell tale crumbs on the floor, though. Dog intelligence does apparently have its limits. Or, she doesn't really give a rat's ass.

I closed the finger that took the worst damage in the recent dog fight fiasco in a door Tuesday night. It was almost healed. Now, its all cut up again and hurts like heck.That proves that human intelligence really does have its limits. Mine anyway.

I would complain about the long dismal stretch of rainy weather we've had this week, but why bother? Like life, it is what it is. At least the grass is really green. So what if my hair is turning green, too. Just kidding.

I finally saw and enjoyed Star Trek. Kirk and Spock et all live again. It was a hoot. I figured i was the last person in America who hadn't read Twilight. So I did. Yep, that Stephanie Meyer can write a dandy book. I get the hype now. I had a hard time putting it down.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Happy Days, celebrating young and young at heart

Here's a picture of the group at Charlotte's house in Atlanta, assembled on Mother's Day to celebrate (Danny's grandmother) Helen Ervin Allen's 90th birthday. From left to right, front: Karen Davis, Hannah Davis, Helen Allen, Linda Chandler holding Lexi Thompson, Nancy Deutsch holding Ben Thompson, Robin Thompson. 2nd row: Phillip Allen, Mia Allen, Janet Worley, Julia Allen, Danny Thompson. 3rd row: Dagmar Allen, Nicole Dorsey Thompson, Karen Worley, Charlotte Thompson. Back row: AL Worley, David Chandler, Mark Thompson, Alex Allen. Missing from photo: Ryan Allen, Kevin Worley and Karen's husband, Mr Davis, whose first name has fallen through the holes in my memory. Brian, Andy , and Katie Thompson also dropped by but were too late for the photo.

The Allen/Thompson/Worley/Chandler/Davis reunion was great fun for all. Robin made it all happen and flow smoothly. Thank you, Robin.

On the home front, we enjoyed a belated Mother's Day supper at daughter Laura's house on Friday past with Laura and her family and Amy and her family. The middle picture is Laura and Paul's little baby Bailey Lynn who is almost two months old and her cute big brother PJ Brown. The top picture is a recent shot of Amy, Elias, and the I can walk now and your troubles are just starting toddler, Alexi Paul.

Danny and I went to Gainesville the following Saturday for a day trip to celebrate the adoption of Bree and Jonathan, ages three and four respectfully, by friends Josh and Jenna Miller. Another fun day, another happy occasion, and more burgers on the grill to wreck our diets. We took Chili this time in the Winnebago and left the other dogs at home. Chili traveled beautifully and the two hour and fifteen minute trip each way was a piece of cake compared to the nearly nine hour trek up and back to Charlotte's.

It has rained all night and all day today and the grass in the front yard is turning emerald green. Unfortunately, so is the water in the pool outside my office window. The dogs are not happy campers. They can't or won't go out for a walk. I am shrugging my shoulders. We need the rain badly, so I don't care if I don't get much outdoor exercise for a day or so. I'm going to see Star Trek tonight with a big bucket of popcorn and Danny.

Ta. Live long and prosper my little Klingons and Romulans.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Georgia week end update

We went to Charlotte's house in Atlanta last week end in the Winnebago with Ginny and Abby for a gathering of the Thompson/Allen clan in honor of Danny's grandmother's 90th birthday.

Helen Erwin Allen is a soft spoken and gentle southern lady, a sharp as a tack member of what really was and is The Greatest Generation; the mother of four, grandmother of ten, great grandmother of seven. As a young woman during WWII, Helen worked on the building of The Enola Gay, the bomber that dropped bombs on Hiroshima and effectively ended the war with Japan in the Pacific.

Getting to Atlanta was a miserable misadventure involving being stranded on the highway with a double tire blowout you can read about on out Nan Nan and Dan Dan Blog. Being there was great. On the grueling way home (nine hours) we encountered a storm, an incredible double rainbow that I swear probably did lead to a leprechaun and a pot of gold somewhere in the Georgia hills, a micro-burst that closed I-75, one bad accident, and a weird Stephen King like mist. We arrived home at three am. We won't drive that long in one stretch again willingly. It took a whole day to recover.

Ginny and Abby were great travelers and Chili was safe at the vet's boarding kennel.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Doggy dilemna

Here is the Mutley Crew: Abby, Ginny, and Chili. Abby, a Rottweiler mix and Ginny, a purebred Catahoula Leopard Dog were shelter dogs and arrived with various issues. Abby remains terrified of fireworks, thunderstorms, and big green garbage cans. Ginny fears stranger's hands coming down over her head and dogs on leashes lunging and jumping at her. Chili, an Australian Cattle Dog, fears nothing and aspires to rule the entire dog world. We aquired her from a family member who could not keep her as a year old pup. Like a lot of ACDs, she needs a job to burn up her nervous energy. Unfortunately, she does not have one. She is compelled by DNA to organize and control everything around her. She doesn't sleep much. She is food and toy aggressive with other dogs. She cannot be walked on a leash with our other dogs because she is manic about running up behind them and biting their heels.

She is ball obscessed and swim obscessed. She is smart and fiercely loyal. In the dog park, off leash she does fine. On lead, she seems to find it impossible to read an other dog's body language. In beginning obedience and dog agility classes she was really stressed out by other dogs coming too close to her and lunged constantly. The other owners black glowering looks discouraged me and I gave it up. On walks with me she lunges and growls at strange men and other dogs if they get too close. In other words, she is a prototypical ACD. As the AKC commentators always say, "Not a dog for the inexperienced or casual owner."

Chili broke a hip as a six month puppy and her body cannot keep up with her mental drive, even after hip surgery. She is epileptic and must be on daily anti seizure medication. She has horrific allergies and a leaky bladder. Definitely a special needs dog.

Here's the problem. Every other year or so, something triggers Chili to pick a fight with Ginny. There's a dominance base to the episodes. Chili can't win. Ginny nearly lost an eye on the last fight but Chili seems to get the worst of it. A fight happened last week end at the beach triggered by food aggression and that weird leash thing despite our efforts to be careful with them. Danny and I got hurt breaking up the fight. Chili got bit in the side of the head, almost all the way to the skull and had to have surgery.

Both dogs get along great with Abby. I hate the idea of rehoming one of them: it would be like Sophie's Choice involving anguish whichever choice I made. Ginny would be a two time loser if rescue would even take her because her first family gave her back after three months "because she jumped up on the children". Chili, who would really be happiest living in a barn and working stock on a farm can't because of her hip. But I really fear the consequences of another fight.

Anyone with dog knowledge out there, I would welcome suggestions. I really love these dogs and want the best for them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Saluting Nordena

Today, May 4th, is my mother's birthday. This weekend, on Mother's Day, it will be two years since I last saw her in life for she died, while napping, three days later. She moved on with her hair done, lipstick correctly applied, wearing her favorite gold necklace. Intensely proud of her Pennsylvania pioneer heritage, she was a member of the Greatest Generation, who grew up enduring the hardships of the great Depression, lived through WWII, and feared nothing (except mice). She wanted to be a writer, but like many of her generation, she settled for being a surburban housewife and raising a stubborn, independent, quirky, and frequently challenging daughter. (That would be me).

In her eight decade, her health deteriorated a little. She lost too much weight, fought off blood clots, mini strokes, a serious e-coli infection and complained frequently about an achy knee. But, in the months before her death, she learned the LInux system on her computer and planned to set up her own Blog. "I know," she said a few weeks before she died," that everytime I close my eyes I may not wake up again. I don't mind dying, but I hate to leave you all."

After two years, I still miss her.

So, Happy Birthday, Nordena Miller Wayman. I hope you are kicking up your heels in Heaven as high as the Rockettes you rivaled in skill according to your own testimony. I hope you've been playing your usual killer game of Bridge with the ladies of the Celestial Club, and having a chocolate bar or six. Yes Blogger scoffers, there must be chocolate in Heaven. Otherwise it wouldn't be Heaven, now would it?

Those of you who still can, call your mothers this weekend. Live long and prosper.

PS: If you've read my story, Mama Bites The Big Apple, in Flights of Nancy then you know my mother even if her character name was Patsy (mother's childhood nickname). She really did discover Rum Punch, get thrown out of Radio City, the ladies of the club were scandalized, and my dad laughed until he almost burst from it. Just they way I told it. it was one of Mother's favorite stories.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Beach disaster day

Here are some pictures of what may turn out to be Chili's only trip to the beach. We'd hoped to go see Baby Gavin in Lakeland this weekend but that didn't pan out. I thought of going to Sea World in the Winnebago, riding all the super wet water stuff that I generally won't ride and then getting into dry clothes in the RV. We also wanted to see Wolverine which had just opened locally. But, the media was fussing about possible Swine FLu and so we decided not to go where crowds might be. "Let's go back to Flagler Beach", said I. "Open air and sea breezes will be healthier. And we'll cook in the RV instead of going out for dinner. We can take Chili and see how she travels Maybe the ocean will help with her allergies too." This is the point at which if you were in a movie theater watching something by Stephen King you'd say, "Oh no!! Don't go!!"

But, we went. It was in the script. Started out ok. Until I made lunch just after we arrived and parked in our cozy camp spot by the sea. For some reason, Chili decided that on the RV all food was hers and launched herself at Ginny and Abby who were just coming in the door from their arrival pee walk. We fortunately broke the dogs up without any damage to either Ginny or Chili. Abby just stayed out of the way. But, there was unresolved tension that erupted suddenly down on the beach...a forty minute walk away from the campsite. Ginny ran off too far too fast after a bird and Danny called her back. As she neared us at full speed Chili suddenly launched at Ginny's face and the fight was on. If it had been Abby, she would have simply knocked Chili over with a body block and that would have been that. But, Ginny grabbed Chili by the cheek and held on. To make a horror tale shorter, Danny and I finally managed to break Ginny's hold for a moment, I pulled Chili back...and she relaunched! Fortunately Danny yanked Ginny back, we leashed them and walked back at a safe distance from each other.

During the fight, I fell into the ocean. I was carrying a beach bag...with my year old Canon digital camera in it. The good news is that the ocean washed a lot of the blood away from my wounds. The bad news is that it ruined my camera.

The wounds came from sticking my hands in Ginny's mouth and trying to pry her locked jaws open. Yeah, yeah, I know better. But when two fighting dogs are unevenly matched and one is too stupid or too much Dingo to submit, ya do what ya gotta do. I dripped blood the whole forty minutes back. Today I have to type with only two fingers. But, I've had worse.

Well, we had to go home. That was obvious. No overnight at the beach this week end. Oh, and it got better...or worse...depending on one's point of view. Just after I got us mostly cleaned up, Abby threw up all over the interior of the RV. Trust me, you do not need any more details on this.

So, today, I did what any sore, wounded, disappointed, stressed woman would do: I went to IKea to buy a pine headboard and footboard that matched the dresser and nightstand in the guest room that I bought before Christmas. But, remember, this is a cursed weekend: IKea has discontinued the line. No pine beds. Not in the store or online. I give up. Should have taken my chances with the flu. The odds were better. Go ahead, let Monday come.

PS1. On Monday, I have to take Chili to the vet for the neck wound we found last night. I probably need stitches myself but I don't do doctor's office visits for self.

PS2. The ocean did help Chili's allergies. While we were there, she was symptom free. Back in Orlando, she is biting and scratching her skin incessantly.