Friday, February 29, 2008

Good-Bye To Our Sweet Pal Clyde

The day came as we knew it would; time to say a (temporary) good-bye to Clyde.
As most of you know, Clyde faced a fairly serious uphill battle against cancer. He fought valiantly, but, as unfortunately happens far too often to our loved ones, it was, in the end, too much for our Sweet Pal.

Mark took him in this morning to make the final journey. Although I couldn't be there physically, Mark called me when the time came and I was there on the phone with them both. Clyde went quickly and peacefully while sitting on his dad's lap.

For all of you who knew him, you'll know how much he'll be missed. We loved him dearly.

Probably what helps ease our loss somewhat is the knowledge he is now reunited with his big brother, Nigel.

Thank you for all your love and support.

Love, Amy and Mark
Clyde
August 7, 1992-February 29, 2008
Never Second Best











Thursday, February 28, 2008

Experiencing Technical Difficulties


We rely so much on our gadgets and such that, when they don't work the way they are supposed to, to say that we are flummoxed is quite the understatement!

I didn't have any problem jumping on to Jack and Roberta's (unsecured) network. I was able to download my email, reply to a few, and jump off.

Father and Margot have a secured network. Mr. B told me all I would need was the encryption code for their network and the name of their network (both of which I had).

Guess what? It wouldn't connect. It kept saying "incorrect network security key". So, Mr. B suggested a few things, which we did. Still no-go.

After a few frustrating attempts to figure it out, we decided checking with the guy who set up their network was the best thing to do.

In the meantime, we talked to one of Margot's husband's friends who knows a lot about "computers". He suggested things we'd already tried (which made US feel good) but, still, no luck.

We finally got in touch w/ Bob the computer dude (who'd set up their network). He said we'd done everything correctly except there was just "something" with Vista and the router that didn't jive. So, we ended up having to plug my lap top directly into their router, and, presto bingo, there I was on their network.

I got to Sarasota yesterday; at the RV Park w/ mom and dad. Again, an unsecured network. No problem jumping onto it and downloading email BUT I can't SEND email (from Outlook).

Well, there is an easy enough work-around; go to Road Runner's page and just send email from there.

Still, it's annoying when you just don't understand WHY.

In this day and age of so much technical advancement, you'd think there would be more satisfying answers than "just because"!

Mrs. B

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On the Road Again

Lucy and I are getting ready to leave Weeki Wachee for the long drive (not really) to Sarasota. There, we will stay several nights with my mom and dad and their dog in their RV. Now, THIS should be real interesting! So far, Lucy has done very well in at each place we've stayed at. Let's hope this proves to be the case again!
We've been pretty busy these past few days so it's been more difficult than I thought it would be to blog about our adventures.
But, I've been keeping some notes, so, when I get more time, I'll fill y'all in. Bet you can't wait!
Mrs. B
PS
I have 32 license plates now. 18 to go; and, some of the hardest to find remain (such as Hawaii and Alaska; Wyoming and Montana; New Mexico, Utah and Nevada (at least in this neck of the woods)).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Six of One Half Dozen of Another

My FIL (that's Father-In-Law) for those of you not up on acronyms) sent me this "test". http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/yankee_dixie_quiz.html
It's an interesting one; a few questions that seek to discover if, by how you answer them, you are more "Northern" or Southern". Or, "Yank" or "Reb".
I took it (being a sucker for these types of things) and it turns out that I am 50% "Yankee". Which means, likely, that I am 50% a bunch of other stuff.
I suppose, given my somewhat nomadic experience in life (I have lived and/or visited a lot of different places) AND the fact that I've mingled with a lot of different folks throughout my life (get your mind out of the gutter but I suppose there is that, too) it's no real surprise.
However, sometimes I have to admit to feeling that I don't have a strong sense of "identify" when it comes to "where I'm from".
The other day, my father said I was a Hoosier since a) I was born in Indiana and b) 3 out of 4 of my parents are from Indiana. But, I don't feel like a Hoosier. I've not really lived the Hoosier life.
To me, that is somewhat like saying someone whose parents came over from, say, Italy, is Italian, even though they were brought up in Boise Idaho. Technically, yes, they ARE Italian (ethniticity) but they probably feel more like someone from the USA because they ARE someone from the USA.
Ok, well, so, (I am trying to think of what to type next); what DO I identify with? I've lived in: Lafayette, IN; San Diego, CA; Lexington, KY (although I am loathe to admit THAT); Long Beach, CA; Culver City, CA; Redondo Beach, CA; Moreno Valley, CA; Anaheim Hills, CA; Colorado Springs, CO; Torrance, CA; Durham, NC.
Well, given this "distribution", I suppose I am a Californian.
Especially considering if I ever got the chance, I wouldn't mind at all living there again some day.
Mrs. B

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mom and Lucy's Travel Adventure: Part Two

Day Two: 21 February 2008, Thursday
We both passed a relatively peaceful evening in Room 203 at the Red Roof Inn. I ended up sticking my earplugs in simply because I could hear some noise from 95/the street. I heard Lucy bark briefly once or twice when, likely, she heard people walking by outside but, otherwise, she was quiet for the duration.

We got up around 7:30 and went for a brief walk; we wandered around the outskirts of the motel property a few time so she could do her business. I managed to carry a small cup of coffee (much needed). While out walking, we kept running into a man in a jogging suit who was, apparently, getting his exercise by fast-walking around the property. He’d make about two rounds for every one of ours. We were obviously not moving as quickly as we should have been!

We got all loaded up (and believe me this is a task with just one person carrying everything to and fro, so, it wasn’t technically “we”, it was “ME”) and left Jacksonville right around 9:00 am. After a brief detour to a McDonalds (Egg McMuffin, yum yum!) we drove on to Ocala. As predicted would occur, we ran into quite a bit of rain slightly north of Ocala on 75. I had to stop at a rest area and change into jeans and a jacket; the shorts I had on being far too skimpy for this sort of weather. Despite the relative shortness of the trip (3 hours), I managed to obtain another 7 license plates, including North Dakota (a rarity).


We arrived at Jack and Roberta’s right around noon. Lucy was certainly happy to see her Grandpa and Grandma Burling again (Fritz probably wasn’t too happy to see HER, though!) I was happy, too of course, to be there!

Grandpa Burling nicely gave up his master bedroom suite for our use. Lucy did quite well in there when we left her for a few hours when we went out to dinner. It is nice to know that she can be well behaved anywhere, especially when she is left by herself.

It was great to be able to visit with Jack and Roberta; we had some good chats and Roberta and I took Lucy on a long walk. Lucy loved being there and she and Fritz managed to co-exist relatively peacefully. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the cats Snoopy and Peanut although I can hardly blame them for not making an appearance given The Goose’s presence.

They kindly took me out to dinner at a Sonny’s BBQ; a new experience for me (hard to believe that I’d never been to one considering how many there are on the drive from NC to FL). I thought it was really good; a varied menu with varied portion sizes as well. I ended up having a small rack of baby back ribs (messy but oh so worth it) a sweet potato, mac and cheese and cornbread (bully the low carb diet while on THIS trip!)

Evening two of our adventure winded down with me and Roberta chatting a bit more before bedtime. Finally, it was time to hit the hay. Both Lucy and I slept wonderfully!

Mrs. B

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mom and Lucy's Travel Adventure: Part One

Day One: 20 February 2008, Wednesday
Believe it or not, we actually pulled out of the driveway right on time, which was 9:00 am. I had wanted to take Lucy for a walk before I put her into the car so that she’d be somewhat tired out. We took our “normal” route and left the house at 8:30 and we were back at the house by 8:45. I needn’t have worried about her being hyper; once in the car and on top of her comfortable bed, she basically crashed out for the duration (I didn’t even have to give her a “sleeping pill”).

Right before we left, I went upstairs to say good-bye to My Sweet Pal, Clyde. I sure as hell hope that wasn’t the last time I’ll see him, but, just in case, I wanted to make sure I did it. Luckily, he’d come out from under the bed and was on his perch getting ready to enjoy a snooze in the morning sunshine. As I said; would that he’ll be there upon my return home, but I am prepared if he isn’t; as much as one can be, anyway.
So, off The Goose and I went; the beginning of our big adventure together! The 2008 “Grandparents’ Tour”!

The first stop was going to be getting gas before we even got onto 40 but it was too expensive so I drove on. I think I ended up stopping somewhere right before South of the Border (still in NC). Prior to this, I stopped at two different rest areas to pee. I didn’t let Lucy out until the 3rd rest area, which was in Santee, SC.
As I said, Lucy did great in the car. She slept and that’s about it. Every once in awhile, I’d look in the rear view mirror to see her up and turning around on her bed; then, back down she’d go. It even took her a bit of time for her head to pop up when we pulled into a rest area or gas station. Given this, I wonder how “out of it” she might have been had I given her a Benadryl?
At the rest area in Santee (and, by the way, is it a requirement that it always be windy at rest area? This was no exception!) I went to pee and then went back to the car to get Lucy. This was probably around 1:15 or so and she was ready to get out of the car! I got her water bowl and poured some water in it, took my sandwich and ½ of an orange and off we went to a picnic table. First, I walked her around a bit in the grass so she could pee, which she did pretty much immediately. Boy, that grass must have smelled really, really good! She hardly picked her nose up off the ground. After, I sat down at the table (she made on somewhat feeble attempt to jump up on the bench next to me but gave it up pretty quickly) and ate ½ of my sandwich (which Mark had lovingly made for me that morning before he left for work). She finally drank some water and I got an excellent picture of her grinning from ear to ear (she really does smile) and then I gave her some of the orange. Oh, boy! She basically ate 2/3 of that ½ of orange! But, I didn’t give her any sandwich because I didn’t want her to puke in the car (she hadn’t had her breakfast that morning for just that very reason and I’m sure she was starving to death).
After I finished the rest of my sandwich, we walked around a little bit more but not much because I wanted to get back on the road.
I discovered, BTW, that the best way to get her out of the car is to open up the glass portion of the hatch, put her leash on, and let her clamber out. This is fairly easy for her as long as her bed is in there to give her a (four) leg(s) up. This was a bit more difficult when I’d taken her bed out (later on at the motel) but she still managed
She readily jumped back into the car, and, after “mom” peed again, we were back on the road.
We got lucky for the most part with the driving conditions. There was only one big jerk just north of the Georgia border that, for whatever reason, ran us right off road onto the right shoulder. I’d like to think he just didn’t see us (he was driving one of those long flat bed trucks that typically has a bunch of cars piled onto it; his was empty but it was still all stretched out). In any event, when I caught back up with him, he seemed pretty oblivious to what had just happened.

We stopped one last time to get gas about 45 minutes from Jacksonville; still in Georgia (can’t remember now the name of the town). What a pit that gas station was! Yuck!
Gas prices, as previously mentioned, were sort of expensive, which figures, since last week they were relatively cheap (around $2.90). I paid $3.15 in NC (I should have stopped at the BP by our house, it was only $2.99 but I thought Sheetz would be cheaper and it was $3.07, which is why I drove on hoping to find something cheaper which I obviously never did). I paid (I think) around $3.07 at the gross gas station in Georgia.
We rolled into the parking lot of the Red Roof Inn right at 5:00 (Mark had predicted the time very accurately!) So, good deal; we left on time and arrived on time (not that we had any particular reason to get here by 5:00 other than I wanted to get the car unloaded, walk Lucy around a bit, go find some dinner and be settled in our room before dark).
I’m glad I’d made an RSVP; not because the joint is sold out but because it was nice to know we had a room ready and waiting. They were able to put us on the 2nd floor (my preference when I am traveling alone) and we are almost right about the lobby (which is open 24 hours). The room is ok; a king-sized bed, anyway. I am still undecided as to whether I’ll let her sleep at the foot of the bed or not. Probably not, because I don’t want her to get into the habit of thinking she can therefore sleep on the bed with me at ANY time (I doubt Clyde would like that at all).

Lucy is doing great in the hotel room (so far). She was really excited at first and I learned an important lesson; don’t let her drink water until she calms down because she basically threw it right back up (but since there wasn’t much in her tummy, not a big deal). I walked her (briefly) before I even took her up to the room. I had to leave her alone whilst I hauled our gear up (she has just as much if not more than I do) and she appeared to do ok by herself for those brief moments. After we got settled (and she barfed up her water), we went for a bit of a longer walk around the hotel grounds so she could pee again (and poop, as it turned out, which surprised me). Then, off the Wendy’s to get mom a salad (not bad except they gave me honey mustard dressing…yuck).
Now we’re in the room, it’s 7:30 and Lucy is zonked out. She doesn’t want to get on her bed nor is she interested in playing with Kitty or any of her other toys or in chewing her bone or the chewie I gave her. She did wolf done her dinner and then some lettuce and a tomato from my salad. Oops, now she is on her bed curled up with Santa. She is very interested in sniffing her way around the room; I am keeping ½ an eye on her just in case she thinks it’s ok to squat.

I’m drinking my wine; Lucy’s sleeping, and, let’s hope people walking by during the night don’t cause her to bark and scare the crap out of me! So far, she’s sort of “grumbled” a bit but she hasn’t out and out barked. I did bring her bark collar up with me so I can always put that on her, if need be.

In a bit, I’ll take her for another (quick) walk and then it’ll be time to get some sleep. I am TIRED; mostly from all of that driving but also because I didn’t sleep well last night at all.

Tomorrow, I’ll have to try and get a longer walk in (this may be a challenge as there isn’t really a good place to walk-walk) and then off we’ll head to Ocala!

So far, Lucy is proving to be a pleasant travel companion. This is very different from traveling with cats. By now, Nigel would be under the bed spread and Clyde would be likely stuck behind the head board. And, I’d get to listen to them digging around in the cat box all night and deal with them jumping on and off the bed. Do I miss that? YOU BET I DO. But, I won’t allow that to detract me from forging an important bond with Lucy and making some new memories to cherish along with the ones of have of my road trips with Nigel and Clyde.

Oh, I got 22 license plates today. The first one was California! That surprised me.
Night night!

Mrs. B

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Who the "F" Cares What Sharon Stone Thinks?

Today must have been the day for certain celebrities to get it into their silly heads that the rest of us really give a rat's you know what WHAT they think. Or, that if they say something, we should all automatically gasp and say, "Oh, WOW, she's so deep!"
Take Sharon Stone, for example. You know, "Ms. One Spread My Legs and Show My Muff Shot Wonder" (if you don't know what I am talking about, watch "Basic Instinct"). Anyway, she was blathering on about how the US has really mucked up Iraq and bemoaning all the dead people over there (NOT our troops, but, the citizens). Ok, fine, it IS awful that so many people have died (on both sides) but it just irks me how it's in the paper as if what this dumb blonde actress thinks makes all of the difference in the world.
Now, just before I signed on, I saw that Lindsay Lohan (and we all know how credible SHE is) is weighing in on how "the industry" was responsible for Heath Ledger's recent death (by "accidental" OD). First off, did she even KNOW the dude? Secondly, Heath Ledger was responsible for his death because he took too many of all the wrong sort of pills all at the same time.
I guess what annoys me, really, is how "the news" elects to publish what "famous" people think as if they are somehow wiser than the rest of us. And, there is really no limits on what they weigh in on; any subject is fair game. It is almost to the point (for me) that if a "celebrity" says anything, I'll believe the opposite.
I can hardly wait (not) for all of the celebrities to come out in support of this or that candidate for the US. Well, it's already happening; we know who is supporting Obama, at least. I guess I'll end up voting for the person no nim-rod famous person weighs in on.
And, oh by the way, I have to admit that this was one thing about Cesar Millan's books (The Dog Whisperer) that I recently read that started getting on my nerves; the way he hero-worshiped Oprah Winfrey. You know, the lady who decides for the rest of us what books we should all be reading.
Ok, enough of THIS rant!
Mrs. B

Random Thoughts #2

1. Yesterday was one of "those" days. The garbage people came, even though it was Presidents Day (they did NOT come on MLK day, what does that mean? That MLK was more important than George and Abe?) Anyway, I tried to get the garbage can out to the curb before they rumbled down our street but I missed them.
2. In so doing, I discovered that Lucy does NOT like garbage cans.
3. Lucy is being a brat about taking her antibiotic pills. Usually, we wrap the pill up in a small piece of cheese and she wolfs it down. Lately, after about ten pills, she protests; which means open mouth, cram pill down throat THEN she gets the cheese. She's certainly had enough experience with pills these past few months. Clyde, on the other hand, tolerates his pills being crammed down his throat rather well.
4. At least Lucy's "hump" (lump, swelling, whatever) from the injection site (from the heart worm treatment) has subsided.
5. Clyde was not crapping. This was causing us some alarm, especially since there are now little cancer tumors in his tummy (which apparently his Chemo on Friday shrunk, which is good). Uncle Chuck told me to administer vegetable oil via syringe. So, I did, off and on yesterday. Last night there was a HUGE poop in his box; almost normal looking, too. Woo Hoo! I was so happy, I gave Mark a huge hug for joy. Clyde's escaped taking the one way trip yet again.
7. So, I finally got around to getting my passport picture taken yesterday (my current passport expires in May so I have to get it renewed before we go to Mexico at the end of June). I went to FedEx (long story on how long it took me to find the damn place) because I wanted to get the picture taken and mail off everything all at one go. Problem. FedEx doesn't deliver to PO Boxes and that is the only address the government provided. So, off to the USPS. Problem. They were closed yesterday.
8. Did I mention that yesterday was one of "those" days?
9. At least we finally got the weekend/location nailed down for our big family reunion (mom's side) this summer. THAT was a feat, let me tell you.
10. I am leaving for my two week jaunt to Florida tomorrow morning, Lucy in tow. I think she has more gear than I do.
11. I'm not sure how consistent my Internet access will be so, there might not be much blogging. Damn, I wanted to chronicle my first road trip with a dog, too.
12. Why doesn't the spell check on this thing work? If there are mis-spellings contained in this entry, blame it on Google.

Mrs. B

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rules of Thumb in Polite Society

I'm no "Miss Manners", but, it seems to me that lately, people are not following "the rules" when in social situations that calls for one to be "polite". Or gracious. Or both.
My nail tech and I got to jabbering about this Friday afternoon. What brought it up was a situation that arose with another nail tech and two of her customers. The first customer (the one who was in the chair when I arrived) obviously has a "professional friendship" with her nail tech. Meaning, when she's getting her nails worked on, they talk about a lot of things. They both share about what's going on in their lives, their families, etc. Ok, that's nice. I know if I am going to have to sit in a chair for 45 minutes or so, I'd just assume talk to the person in front of me. Otherwise, it's very tedious. However, once you're done, you're done. Time to get up out of the chair, move away, and leave. Or, if you have to sit and "dry" for a bit, be respectful of the following customer's time.
Customer #1 got up from the chair, went to sit at another station to dry, and Customer #2 sat down for her service. Meanwhile, Customer #1 continued to talk to the nail tech as if she was still sitting there in front of her. My nail tech was getting agitated and mumbled to me, "She does this every time!" I said, "Yeah, you'd think she'd understand that her time is up!" Obviously, we both got it. My nail tech said, "The problem is, Ivy (the other nail tech) lets her get away with it!"
Personally, I thought Customer #2 was too gracious; had it been me, I likely would have turned around and told Customer #1 to shut her trap, she was talking on MY dime!
Anyway, this scenario brought to mind a multitude of others where people should "know better" how to behave and they don't behave that way at all. Here are a few that I thought of that I'd observed within the last week:
Hockey Game Dude: Ok, a hockey game is one of those places that you expect to see some good natured heckling. Especially where our seats are, which is directly behind the opposing team's bench. So, there tends to be opposing fans sitting in that area, which means they get into heckling our team. And the refs, etc. However, the other night, this one guy, a Pittsburg fan, just wouldn't shut up. He was really going at heckling the ref because he didn't like one of the calls. Hell, I can assure you that these refs are equal opportunity bad callers. Anyway, this guy went on and on and on and ON. Finally, some of the Canes fans started heckling him back and he got even more obnoxious. IMO, there is a time to stop this behavior and sit down and shut up and drink your beer. BTW, why are all irritating and obnoxious fans at sporting events overweight and unattractive?
Parking Lot Behavior: This applies to all a few situations. One, the people who drive way too fast through a parking lot when there are tons of people walking to their cars. Two, those that refuse to let anyone into a line of moving cars. I think we all know there is some etiquette here; let in one or maybe two cars, move on. Conversely, those that are waiting to get in that pull out in front of a "nice" person that has already let in their share of cars. What gives?
Grocery Store Check Out Lines: Again, there are a few situations. The first and most obvious are people that load up their carts and then go into the Express Lane. Or, the ones that come up behind you in one of the regular lanes with a few items, look pointedly at your full cart, and sigh in irritation when you won't let them go ahead of you. Even worse, the ones that come right out and say, "Can I go ahead of you?" Even if I were considering letting that person go in front of me, the moment they ask or otherwise cope a 'tude, I don't let them.
And, other examples that don't require a lot of explanation:
1. People that talk in movies and/or don't turn off their cell phone, it rings, and they actually answer it.
2. Ditto folks in restaurants or other such places who insist on gabbing away on their cell phone.
3. Folks that let their children misbehave and/or scream in restaurants or movies or any public place where it is annoying.
4. People that talk loudly while walking down the hallway in a hotel; especially when it is early in the morning OR late at night.
What are some more? I know that I am missing some (I didn't include here driving faux pas or people that don't pick up after their dogs since that's been covered in
extensive detail in other entries!)
Mrs. B

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A New Survey! Really! All New Questions!


Taken from Analee's Blog; I actually filled it out around 9:30 am...


1.Where were you 1 hour ago? Just getting back home from dropping The Kid off at school

2.Who will be your next kiss? Given; likely to Clyde; rec'd it's a toss up between Lucy and Mr. B!

3. Is there anything pink within 10 feet of you? Yes, there are some pink flowers in a picture we have near the French doors plus there is pink in the pattern of the furniture out in the sunroom

4. When is the last time you went to the mall? About three weeks ago with Peri

5. Are you wearing socks right now? Yes, white crew

6. When was the last time you went out of town? Savannah in November; getting ready to head to FL next week

7. Have you been to the movies in the last 5 days? Yes, we saw "Atonement"; sob sob sob

8. What was the last thing you had to drink? Still drinking my am coffee with fat free creamer and Equal

9. What are you wearing right now? Grey sweatpants, yellow tee shirt, Mr. B's white UNC sweatshirt and above mentioned white crew socks

10. Have you been in a car wash? Not in; well, I may have run through one when I was little. Or, does this mean have I ever had to wash cars in one of those fund-raising car washes? Yes, I did have to do that. My poor SUV has not seen a car wash in about three months. It is a badge of honor

11. Last food you ate? A Fiber One caramel granola bar (140 calories and not a lot of fat; they rock)

12. Where were you last week on Saturday? We went to The Kid's school's "Circus" on top a parking deck in Chapel Hill. Then, we went to dinner at Symposium Cafe (after trying to go to Yeat's Irish pub in Chapel Hill (closed down) and Tyler's (closed for a private party). Every time we go to this place, it is because some other place that we REALLY wanted to go to was closed!)

13. Have you bought any clothing items in the last week? Nope

14. There was no question #14

15. What's the last sporting event you watched? Live? Hockey; gonna go watch a hockey game this Thursday too, happy V-Day, woo hoo! On TV, The Super Bowl (about the only sporting event I watch on TV unless I happen to be with my Father when the Master's is on)

16. What is your favorite class? Of what? Car? Diamonds? School subject? Act? I'll go w/ school subject and say English and History

17. Your dream vacation? Italy in 2010, yeah baby!

18. Last 3 people's houses you were in? Wow. My mom and dad's (January) My brother and Analee's (January), my mom and dad's (Christmas). Obviously, we don't get out much!

19. How old are your parents? 68, 68, 66 and 65

20. Do you miss anyone? I miss a lot of people and a lot of pets; mostly, I miss my friends in CA and Nigel

21. Last play you saw? Well, it was either Caberet in FL (I think this was 2006) or Oklahoma in DC (definitely it was June 2006); I just can't remember if Caberet was in '06 or in '05. Wait, should I count the little puppet show we saw at the "Circus" Saturday night? I probably should. The kids actually did quite a nice job with it (Faust)

22. What are your plans for today? Work out, do some chores, go to BJs and the store, do more chores, maybe take a cat nap with Clyde and make a quiche for dinner

23. Ever go to camp? Girl Scout camp and two camping trips with my high school class (ugh). Also, my family did a lot of camping when I was growing up. I have not been camping camping camping since September 2001

24. Were you an Honor Roll student? Yes, I was 24 out of 350 or something like that in high school. What happened? I barely graduated college (but then was successful anyway so did it really even matter?)

25. What do you know about the future? You can't run away from it

26. Are you wearing any perfume or cologne? Left over from yesterday, probably; think it is Opium

27. Where are your best friends located? Aside from Mr. B (who is working away in his office in Raleigh), my best friends are both in CA (well, my mom and step-mom and my father and dad are also best friends; they are all in FL)

28. Do you have a tan? No; boy, I sure miss being tan, but I wish I'd never done it now that I have to deal with the side effects of it

29. How old do you want to be when you have kids? This definitely does NOT apply to me!

30. Do you collect anything? Books, DVDs, CDs, certain pretty china pieces, but, nothing I avidly go after because I am trying to de-clutter my life

31. Last time you got stopped by a cop or pulled over? May 2004 in WV on the way to the Indy 500. Doughnut!

32. Have you ever drank your soda from a straw? Yes

33. How do you like your drinks? Full of booze. No, seriously, I guess it depends on what I'm in the mood for. Sometimes I DO want a stiff drink. Othertimes, I want a Starbucks fat free latte; other times, a nice cup of tea. Then there are the times I want lemonade or a diet soda or, like in the middle of the night, a long cool pull on my water bottle!

34. Do you like Hot sauce? The hotter the better

35. Last time you took a shower? Saturday (we are attempting to conserve water, after all; definitely will be taking one today, though)
36. Where did ya go, 36?

37. What is your mood today? Wistful; poor Clyde is not eating so I'm a bit worried and wishing I didn't have to worry anymore about him; it's getting hard

38. Are you someones best friend? I think I am to a few people

39. Are you rich ? Well enough off financially/material possession-wise. Rich in love (which I don't always appreciate) and rich in family, friends, health, smarts; yeah, I guess I AM rich! :-)


Mrs. B

Neighborhood Annoyances: Final

Backing out of my driveway this morning reminded me of one of my biggest pet peeves in this neighborhood and that is people that park their (extra) cars on the street such that it makes it nearly impossible for others to either back out of their driveways (without making a zillion contortions) and/or drive safely down the street without risk of pegging a parked car. We've had issues with the people that live across from us before parking their huge SUV on the street. We asked them not to several times, they continued to do it, so we complained to the HOA and they received a violation letter. For the most part, they stopped parking out there until recently. Their oldest son got a "new" car and so now it's parked out there all of the time. I don't understand why these people don't "get it". Frankly, I think they're just stupid. So, now we have to decide whether or not to complain AGAIN. Oh, by the way, the kid wrecked his first "new" car and this one is already banged up, too. And, the rear end of his mother's SUV looks a sight. Must run in the family. Maybe they wouldn't notice if we took a sledge hammer to both of these cars? Better yet, "dad's" Caddy!


Cars makes me think of another irritating thing; people that drive WAY TOO FAST up and down the streets around here. Not just the residents, but also the contruction workers. This is, of course, an incredibly dangerous thing to do because, as mentioned before, there are a lot of pets wandering around but even more of a danger are all of the small children playing in the street. Why people think it is okay to drive 50 in a 25 zone is beyond me but it is (to borrow a tag from Mr. B) a "recipe for disaster" just waiting to happen.

More on breaking rules. Everyone is required to get approval to make any changes to the exterior of their house or to add anything to their property that is visible to one or more other houses. This basically means fences, sheds, screened in porches/sun rooms, fountains (yes, we actually do have one house that has a stone fountain outside their house), children's play equipment (swing sets, slides, etc.) and swimming pools. Also, any significant landscaping activity requires approval. Does anyone around here actually GET approval? Well, we did for our sun room, but, it's pretty obvious that most people DON'T get approval judging from some of the tacky objects around and the shoddy workman/workwoman ship. Many of the fences that were put up are already falling down/sagging in places. Again, some folks just have a "the rules don't apply to ME" attitude and they don't care that their property looks junky and thus brings down the apperance of the entire neighborhood.

Finally, and this is a biggie, there were MANY morons in this joint that were ignoring the water restrictions. I say "were" because, as far as I can tell, no one has been watering for the past several months. However, back in November or so when the restrictions were implemented (and notification of said restrictions were all over the place in the news, in the paper, in the water bills), people were STILL watering their lawns (one idiot was actually watering the open grassy area NEXT to his house). I, of course, took it as my civic duty to rat them out (this included two houses on our street). So, they likely got some sort of communication from The City of Durham about knocking it off; maybe even a fine (I hope so, anyway).

Ok, thus ends my rant (at least for now) about my neighborhood. I'm sure most people that live in a neighborhood/development have similar beefs. Which is really, really sad. Why can't people do what they are supposed to do?
I told The Kid this morning (while attempting to get out of our driveway)that I could really understand why people move to more rural environments where they only have to deal with deers and ducks.

Mrs. B

Monday, February 11, 2008

Random Thoughts

1. I just discovered this morning that my dog Lucy does NOT like bananas.
2. Clyde's medicine makes him act "freaky-deaky"; already this morning he has walked on top of Mark's radio (turning it on in the process), gotten so tangled up in his blankets that they (and he) toppled onto the floor, and, in his attempt to get behind the blinds near the window by his perch, got himself stuck in said blinds.
3. Clyde won't eat much these days except the gravy/juice from his canned cat food. Uncle Chuck (his vet) is going to put him on an appetite stimulant. I guess, like it does for people, Chemo kills an appetite.
4. It was 27 degrees outside this morning when Lucy and I went out for our walk.
5. I am pleased to report that Lucy is doing very well with our new "Dog Whisperer" techniques. Most days, I don't even have to put her pinch collar on her!
6. Friday, however, she was a bad girl. We went to the vet (she had to have a "booster" treatment for her heart worm). When we got there, she jumped out of the back of the car before I could get her leash on. She ran around sniffing all of the bushes and then ran across the parking lot to the pee area. I knew enough not to chase her so I simply went over to the door and waited for her to come by. She did; I reached out for her and she darted away so I had to put "mean mom" voice on and she came slinking over to me, tail between her legs. I put her leash on and we went back to the car where she jumped back inside and we then exited the car the correct way.
7. We got out all of her toys yesterday (we'd been keeping them hidden so that she wouldn't get too excited and play too much during her "calm" period). It was like doggie Christmas!
8. We are still waiting to hear from JJ Nelson regarding when they will be over here to clean the damn hardwood floors. These floor will probably still be an issue when I'm 64 years old.
9. But, at least I didn't die one hour after being married during my first dance with my new husband (I just read that this happened to a 36 year old woman; how terribly sad).
11. The Kid is coming over tonight and I'm going to make one of those molten lava chocolate cakes as a treat for her. Who says I'm an evil step-mother?
12. Mr. B has decided to take fish oil supplements. For some reason, this just grosses me out.
13. It is time to go get on the elliptical machine for 40 minutes or so. I am dragging this morning and don't want to do it!
14. It's my allergies; the wind (and we've had a lot of it lately) has caused my allergies to rear up. I feel like my head is stuffed with straw or something.
15. We are having "Cheez-It Chicken w/ Wilted Spinach" for dinner tonight (along with the molten lava chocolate cake). Which reminds me, I'd better take the chicken out of the freezer.

Mrs. B

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Atonement

In our yearly quest to see as many Oscar-nominated films and performances, we went to see the much nominated (but not for Best Actor or Best Actress, more on that later) movie "Atonement" this afternoon. Actually, we really wanted to see "No Country For Old Men" (highly recommended by sister in law Analee and which also garnered a lot of nominations) but it was no longer playing at the theater we went to.

Anyway, we thought "Atonement" was okay. At the risk of being a spoiler; it's not the most chipper movie we've ever seen. My guess is the book was a lot better. Frankly, I am a bit surprised that it even got nominated for Best Picture, but that could be because, as often happens, there just aren't that many good movies out there worthy of a Best Picture nomination.

So, there was a big bally-hoo that neither Keira Knightley or James McAvoy were nominated for their performances in this film. A shut out! Well, in my opinion, I think the academy nailed it this time as I didn't think either performance was really of a stand-out nature. Not bad, not terrific. Boy, that Keira Knightley, as lovely as she is, is looking sort of stick like...I mean sick like these days.

The young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan was nominated for best supporting actress for her performance of the Knightley character's younger sister. As I haven't seen any of the other actresses' performances in this category, I can't really comment other than to say she was decent enough, but I have a hard time believing she's going to beat out the likes of Cate Blanchett, Ruby Dee or Tilda Swanson.
Well, not a whole lot else to say on this topic.

Yeah, my Blog fodder is a bit weak these days, sorry, y'all!

Mrs. B








Saturday, February 9, 2008

Neighborhood Annoyances: Part Two

Before I continue with this "series", I do want to point out that the people/houses that I am now complaining about only comprise a small percentage of the folks that live here. But, because everyone else are so polite and well-behaved, these idiots just stand out like sore thumbs!

My next rant concerns the people that don't seem to mind old newspapers, bits of trash and rejected recycling items laying about their property.

Seriously, there are some houses where there the newspapers (still in the plastic bag) on or around the driveway have been there so long and run over so many times by their cars going in and out of their driveway that they are now a permanent fixture of the sidewalk.

Ok, so, they didn't ASK for The Durham News to be delivered every Saturday (for whatever reason, The N&O delivers one paper per household every Saturday whether you ask for it or not; pretty annoying when you are on vacation and have put a hold on your regular deliveries and you come home to piles of these dumb papers all over the place) but STILL. Pick them up and recycle them! Don't just leave the moldering away out there. I don't understand how folks can walk by day after day and just leave them laying there. Exteme laziness, I guess. Too hard to bend over; fat gut's in the way and all.
These same people are likely the ones that continue to put un-recyclable items into their recycling bins, such as pizza boxes or plastic-coated cartons. The recycling pick-up dudes have absolutely no qualms about taking these items out of the bins and throwing them on the guilty party's lawn. Ok, live and learn you dolts! Don't keep putting them in the bins week after week; and, pick the trash up off your yard! Seriously, some houses have misecellanous trash items in their yards for weeks before they finally either get picked up or they simply blow away into someone else's yard who DOES pick them up!
Along these lines, once the trash/recylcing people have come, put your trash can and recylcing bins AWAY! Don't leave them out by the curb for three or four days. Again, these people have to be driving by them as they pull in and out of their driveway. Hello? See me? PUT ME AWAY!
Very recently, there was an incident with one of the people that lives down the street from us with their Christmas Tree. Ok, so, Christmas was, like, six or more weeks ago and they were JUST putting the old tree out for the trash to pick up. Problem was, they waited too late and the trash folks had stopped picking up trees (I think the last Monday of January was the last tree pick up date in our neighborhood).
So, what did these people do?
They drug the tree across the street and threw it in a vacant lot in full sight of anyone walking or driving down the street. Not only was it unsightly, it was also a) not the proper way to dispose of THEIR tree and b) a potential fire hazard, given our drought conditions.
I ratted these folks out by contacting the HOA. They were sent a violation letter and told to property dispose of their tree.
This week, I noticed that they had drug it back across the street and left it in the vacant lot NEXT to their house and next to one of the construction trash bins. I guess they got lucky because someone disposed of it for them.
How lazy can people be?
I rant about this because, it only takes a few idiots like these to really bring down the look and feel of an otherwise very nice neighborhood. I wish there was a way to "vote them off the island"!
Mrs. B

Friday, February 8, 2008

Neighborhood Annoyances: Part One

A few days ago, I blogged about the houses in our neighborhood. Continuing on with the neighborhood theme (and things I observe while I am out walking the dog) and questions of taste aside (and I must say there are some people around this neighborhood that seem to have very little of it), I'm going to write about several items that annoy, irritate, disgust and simply perplex me about some of the people in this neighborhood.
The first and foremost category the fits all of the above (annoy, irritate, disgust, perplex) are pet owners and in particular, dog owners. Ok, there are some cats that are allowed to roam around free which is, frankly, just plain stupid in a neighborhood full of construction trucks and heavy machinery; but, it isn't terribly annoying (although I really don't want to squish one while driving down the street).

So, dog owners. There are, of course, the owners that let their dogs crap all over the place and never pick up after them. Not only is this against the law (and against the HOA rules), it's just plain disgusting. I really wish I could catch one of these lazy slobs red-handed (or, rather, poop bag-less handed) because I'd let them have it (just ask the huckle berry that lived across the street from me on Saratoga Drive). Seriously, what I know I'd do is I'd catch up to them and hand them one of my (many) poop bags (I always carry a stash on me when I walk Lucy) and say, "Excuse me! EXCUSE me! It looks like you might be in need of one of these bags, you forgot yours, right?" and let them try to weasle out of THAT. I will never understand why people think it's ok to leave their dog's crap all over other people's lawns. You can rest assured that they don't let their dog crap on their OWN lawn.
In the neighborhood on the other side of ours is a house that has a sign in its lawn that reads, "Here lies the last dog that crapped in my yard". What is should say is, "Here lies that last dog OWNER that let their DOG crap in my yard"!


A funny (and tsk tsk tsk inspiring) story; I was walking Lucy a few days ago. Lucy's got "dog-dar" (like radar) for whenever there is another dog anywhere in the vicinity. So, her dog-dar perked up her ears and I saw a ways down the street a huge dude walking this little pip-squeak of a dog. He didn't see us; so, I watched while he let the dog crap in someone's yard. He started to walk away, and, for whatever reason, he turned his head and saw me and Lucy standing there watching him. And, get this. At that point, he walked back to the poop, pulled a poop bag out of his pocket, and picked it up. So, this goes to show if people KNOW they are being WATCHED, they WILL pick up after their dog. Maybe we need to form a neighborhood poop watch committee.


Another dog owner irritant; people that don't control their dogs, either while out on walks or at their own homes. There is one guy who has a dog that is wildly out of control. Whenever I see him and said dog, I try to stay away because the dog is also nasty towards Lucy. The guy, a smallish man, lets his dog literally drag him down the street. When the dog sees someone, it gets up on its hind legs and lunges towards the person. If it sees Lucy, it lunges and growls, which causes Lucy to get her 'tude on. The owner always says to me, "Sorry, sorry!" I want to say, "Dude, get control of your animal!" One day, he was across the street from us and observed Lucy sitting down at the corner. He said, "Wow, you taught her that?" Yeah, I did. Spend some time with your pet, why don't you? BTW, I'm pretty sure he's one of the ones that doesn't pick up after his dog but I haven't caught him yet.

And along the lines (of people that don't spend time with their dogs), there are several houses where I know there are dogs but I have no idea how many or what type because they are always locked up in the garage. I walk during several different times of the day, days of the week, etc., and some of these dogs are ALWAYS in the garage. Even when there are cars in the driveway indicating someone is home. Now, come on; why in the heck have a dog (or dogs) and just leave them locked up in your garage? These are people that should not own dogs. Get a cat, they are less maintenance.

My last two dog complaints and then I'll get off the dog-rant are folks that let their dog outside to do its business while they watch from INSIDE (there is one in particular, a small little yippy dog, that lives in the corner house on a very busy street). The dog runs around the front yard, then, if it sees someone, it starts to follow them. Yesterday Lucy and I came across Yippy out on the sidewalk. I stood there for a bit trying to figure out if I should go to the front door with the dog because it kept trying to follow us. Finally, I heard someone inside the house pounding on the window and the dog raced off to the back door. BTW, my guess is that the owner of this dog is grossly overweight and could likely use getting off their fat ass and walking their dog.
The final complaint are people that tie their dogs up outside. Across the street from Yippy is another small dog that, on nice days, is tied to a stake in the back yard. Whenever this dog sees us, it goes ballastic and runs around and around until it is wrapped around one of the porch pillars. One of these days, that dog is going to strangle itself. A few houses up is a beagle that is ALWAYS tied up outside in front of the house. I just don't get it. I feel so sorry for it as it lays there, mournfully watching me and Lucy walk by. I always say, "Hi, sweetie!" but what good does that do? Poor dog.











Well, this has gone on long enough for today. I'll post some of my other neighborhood observations later!
Mrs. B









Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Beloved Friends


I've been feeling out of sorts all day today and I do know why that is. Two years ago on this day, we had Nigel put to sleep. It's hard to believe it's already been that long since we said good-bye; so many things that have happened since that he hasn't been a part of.
Mark and I both know that Nigel would have absolutely loved (and claimed ownership of) the sunroom in our new house. And, there is no doubt in our minds that he would have also claimed ownership of Lucy. Unfortunately, we'll never see that relationship develop and mature, but, I know they would have been pretty good buddies.

And, of course, I think about how Nigel might have comforted Clyde during his recent illness. Nigel was always the protective older brother and Clyde would have certainly liked to have had Nigel around to "take care" of him.

I won't say that these are fruitless and pointless thoughts; rather, they are simply poingnant wishes of things that can never be.

So, yeah, I've been sad today. I took down Nigel's album, the one I spent months making after he died, and read through it. Lots of tears and a bit of laughter. The pictures that are so hard for me to look at now are the ones of Nigel and Clyde together; certainly because Nigel is gone, but also because of Clyde being ill and me never knowing when he might leave me, too.
There is one picture of them sauntering down a hallway in a hotel in New Mexico. They are both fat and in their prime years. They were walking away from me as I snapped the picture, tails in the air, ears up, ready to explore (together) what was down that hallway.

As I looked at the picture and before I could stop myself, I cried out "Come back! Come back to me!"
I wish that they could; Nigel of course "coming home" and Clyde returning to his old robust fat self. of course, I know that can't happen. What will happen, though, is at some point they will be together again and, as hard as it's going to be, I can feel better knowing Nigel will once again be looking out for his little brother Clyde.

In the meantime, we continue to do what we think is best for Clyde and I continue to miss Nigel every single day of my life.

Here's the poem I wrote for him last year.

Mrs. B

Nigel’s Ears

Every so often
I’ll still find your hair
a whisper of a reminder
that you were once here

Then I close my eyes
blink back tears
and wish I could once again
kiss your silky ears

I keep the towel you died upon
tucked in a special place
as I do a whisker that once
was on your cherished face

I keep your favorite Buggy-toy
safely on my nightstand
(for a long time after you left me
I slept with it clutched within my hand)

When my sadness is such
that it rends me apart
I seek your precious memory
which has never left my heart

It’s been a year today
my heart’s begun to mend
aided by the certainty that
one day I’ll see you again

When my time comes
I will have no fear
for I will stoop and scoop you up
and kiss your silky ears

Dedicated to my best pal
Nigel T.
January 19, 1991-February 6, 2006
I’ll never stop missing you, Buggy.
Ever.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

#1


Finally, after months and months of this, I am ready to announce the #1 "album" that I could listen to over and over, any time, any place.


For those of you who are just now "joining" me on this new Blog platform, what this is all about is this:

A few month ago, my brother threw out the challenge to all of us posting at that time. What are your five favorite albums of all time. The choices could not be "Best Of" or "Greatest Hits" or concert albums. Other than these rules, the only stipulation was you had to honestly enjoy every bit of said album, not just two or three tracks.

To recap, here are my 5-2 choices:


#5 "5150" Van Halen
#4 "The River" Bruce Springsteen
#3 "Hotel California" The Eagles
#2 "Southern Accents" Tom Petty and the Hearbreakers

And, my most favorite of all time is:


Beethoven's Symphony Number Nine

And here is why. For me, music has always been an experience that takes place in my head. Not just because I am hearing the sounds, tones and lyrics, but because of what they make me think.

Some music doesn't make me think at all (none of those albums made my top five list). All of these that I selected are either associated with very strong memories or very strong thoughts, hopes, dreams, inspirations, wishes, fears, realities, etc.


Beethoven, in my book was the king at creating thoughtful and emotional music. You can tell within the first few notes what sort of mood he was in when he wrote that particular part of a symphony. What is fantastic is how, during the symphonies, the emotions go all over the place. So, if you like to identify music with thinking like I do, each bit invokes a different sort of thought (and emotion, of course).

But why the 9th, you ask?


Good question since there are others that a I really, really love too (like the 6th and the 7th). But, the 9th is just a master piece. Every single bit of it is beautiful and some parts are so breath taking theyalmost always bring tears to my eyes. Mabye some of it, also, is the way he incorporated Frederich Schiller's "Ode to Joy" into the mix. Although there are parts to the symphony that are tragic, the overall message, I think, is one of triumph and joy. The joy to be alive, the joy of breathing, running; the joy of overwhelming love and pure happiness at simply existing.

To me, this is a perfect piece to be played at a birth, at a wedding and at a funeral. It celebrates all aspects of life.

It's inspirational.

Have a listen to what the famous Leonard Bernstein had to say (he said it a lot better than me) about Beethoven's music and watch him perform some of the "Ode to Joy" from the 9th:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZJ1Tgf4JL8

Mrs. B









Monday, February 4, 2008

Picture Book Oh Picture Book Which Pictures Do I Chose?

For my last b-day, my brother and his lovely wife gave me a Shutterfly Picture Book. Of course, this was an extremely thoughtful gift for them to get me since I absolutely love (these days) being "creative" with the pictures that I've taken.
Now, the problem, is WHAT do I use it for? BTW, figuring this out was a fun problem to have!

I have two years to decide (and who knows what might happen within this period of time that I'll want to "document") but in the meantime, I am toying around with the concept of making a book comprised of some of my favorite travel photos.

So far, I have four primary categories:

1. US
2. Mexico
3. England
4. Italy


Since I've been to Italy twice (and the last time I was there six weeks), you can probably imagine the glut of Italy pictures I have!

At one point I had many nice pictures taken in England but the majority of them were taken by my ex-husband and I don't want HIS pictures in MY book.

In fact, one of the prerequisites is that I have to have taken the picture. Sorry, Mr. B (and he has taken some nice ones, too).

Anyway, I'll be playing around with this for some time to come!
Contained within this blog entry are some of my favorites (all taken by me) that will definitely make it into the book!
Mrs. B

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Good Model


Mr. B and I have now been in our "new" house a bit over a year. It seems like the time has really flown by; an entire year (or more) here! Every time we have to go back over to the town house, it feels freaky. Not that I didn't love living there, I did. And, as much as I looked forward to moving into our new house, I went through a few months of being a bit sad and depressed for leaving the town house. How silly, I know; just a piece of property, but, that's the way it is sometimes.

Each day, I walk through our new neighborhood with Lucy. Over the past year, many, many additional houses have gone up. In fact, the houses to the right of us were not even lots when we moved in. Now, the majority of them are built and people have moved in.

As I walk, I often have the opportunity to sneak peeks into the homes. And, of course, I can certainly look at all of the exteriors. In so doing, I am continually reminded of KB Home's "Model", which is, have a relatively inexpensive base price for the houses and allow the home owners to "add on" extras here and there that both a) improve the value of the house and b) really makes each home owners' home THEIRS.

The houses in our development range in square footage from roughly 1700 to 3400. For each model, there are three different elevations one can chose. This determines things like window shutter placement, size of certain front windows and whether or not there is a front porch. From there, there are many, many exterior options such as what color siding, whether there is stone or brick, the color of the shutters and front door and the type of front door (plain or with a window). Ditto with the garage doors.

For both the exterior and interior of the house, there are certain things that are "standard" (included in the base price of the house) with anything "nicer" than these things costing the home owner more. When you pick out your house, you are required to have three seperate appointments at KB's Design Studio. This is when and where you pick out just about everything you could possibly imagine for your home (or elect to stick with the "standard" stuff, but, in any case, you have to go chose).

Sit back and look around your house. Furniture and furnishings not-with-standing, everything you see in your house we had to select for our new house. So, we're talking EVERYTHING. Ceiling height. Smooth or unsmooth ceilings. Crown molding, chair rails, the type of staircase (closed or open, wood or iron, heck, even the color of the stain), door hardware, light fixtures, ceiling fans, cabinetry, knobs on the cabinets, kitchen island or not, countertops, garbage disposal (and size), kitchen sink type and size, kitchen plumbing fixtures, appliances, flooring, insulation, roof, whether or not we wanted the bonus room/sitting room closed in to make a 5th bedroom, the layout of the bathrooms including size of sinks and toilets and all hardware. The location of the fireplace, whether we wanted a blower on it or not and the type and size of the mantle and the hearth. Whether we wanted grids on all of our windows. Sod. Size of the patio slab. Did we want a screened in porch or overhang (this could only be done in 10X10 which we obviously did not do). The exterior lights (e.g., coach lights on the garage, light by the front door). Whether we wanted a side-entry garage door, a garage door opener (and what type), the garage finished off or not. Window treatments. A fence around our yard.

Really, it WAS overwhelming and I'm glad we had to go three times to get it all figured out exactly the way we wanted it. Matching/coordinating everything can be fun but also a huge pain in the butt.

As it turns out, the only things we didn't upgrade were the size of the pedestal sink in the 1/2 bathroom downstairs (which, by the way, is now an upgrade (the bathroom) for all future houses of this model being built), the size of the fireplace mantle (we figured we didn't need one bigger than what the standard was) and the window coverings, fence and screened in porch (all of which we did on our own later on). I think the only thing we had absolutely no say in the matter about was what side of the house the garage would be on.

So, while I walk throughout the neighborhood, it amuses me to see what people have done/not done to their houses. Some of the exterior finishes I really like; some are just dreadful. Someone painted their front door BLOOD RED and it looks terrible. A lot of people did not get exterior lights at all. I've noticed some folks who did not get garage door openers (something they probably regret when it is raining).

Keith, our customer service representative who has been inside ALL of the houses in the development, told me that he is continually amazed how many people have no furniture because they are so house poor. Of course, these are probably the same people that have a brand new SUV and a Mercedes in their driveways.

But, all in all, I think KB's model is good. Let people chose what they want. It really does allow for a lot of variety and individual expression. So, even though a vast number of the houses in our development are the same floor plan as ours, you can bet there's no two that look that much alike on the outside and probably NONE that are exactly the same inside.

Mrs. B