Friday, July 31, 2009

The Blahs

We've got the blahs in the B household. I'm not really sure why, either, as it's not like anything is wrong.
The last time I had a real serious case of the blahs, I quit my job and ran off to Italy. So, good thing my blahs now are not all that bad :-)
Mr. B's got 'em worse. He doesn't know what it is, exactly but it manifests usually when he's at work. Burned out? No. Bored? Not at all. Hates his job? Nope. Want to be somewhere else? Oh, yeah. Summer fever, maybe? Tired? Would rather be at home puttering around working on various projects? Yep, all of the above.
What causes the blahs, I wonder? Are they catching? He said he's felt this way several weeks. I know I've been sort of blah this entire week.
In any event, the blahs have made him a bit short tempered. Not with me, really but for the first time in ages, he got irritated enough with The Kid on the phone last night (who apparently has a long-standing case of the belligerents) to, basically, cut the conversation short and hang up.
In addition to the blahs and the belligerents, we've also got the obstinates (Lucy), the crankies (Pete), the hissies (Lily) and the bratties (kittens) to contend with around here.
Well, it's Friday, at least, so maybe this will help a bit. Except I have a Board retreat tomorrow, which means Mr. B gets to take Apollo and Hera to the Thon. "Oh, joy. Three hours of standing around Petsmart" said he last night.
I suppose he doesn't really have to go. It seems the kitten adopting public have their own case of the blahs, too. In other words, it's been pretty damn slow, very little interest and almost a waste of time going to the Thons.
I don't know.
Blah.
Mrs. B

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Silly Pete!

Pete appears to believe he is still small enough to fit in the play cube!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Love 'Em and Love 'Em Apollo

Of our five (original) Greeks, we were initially told that Apollo was the scared one of the group. This has turned out to be not entirely true as Hera has definitely taken the title of the one who is the least friendly. But, we've worked harder with Apollo than Hera; probably because we had a lot more energy at first than we do now (almost 2 months after getting them). You might recall Apollo spent several days in solitary confinement while we (mostly me) attempted to get him to stop relying overly much on his siblings to interact with the humans (us).
When Apollo was in lock up, he was extremely sweet, loving, cuddly and NEEDY. Pretty much the moment we let him out, though, he reverted back to skittering away from us when approached. At the Thons he's fairly friendly (while Hera cowers in a corner of the cage) but, then again, he's sort of a captive audience.
Over the weeks, he HAS gotten better; meaning, he doesn't run away as fast and sometimes he doesn't run away at all (especially if he thinks food may be involved!)
While we were in NY, one of the other foster volunteers took both Apollo and Hera for about a week. Because of his situation (a lot of other foster cats), he kept them in a bathroom. Well, you can imagine how loving both of them were after a day or so. When he returned them to me last week he said, "They are such sweet little love bugs!" Uh huh.
After he left, I put the carrier containing them on the table so I could look at them. Both of them were near the front, curious; and Apollo was purring and obviously wanted to be petted. I gave him a little feel through the wire and then opened the door and let them out.
About two seconds later, both of them ran away from me like they'd never seen me before and thus ensued a bunch of pissing and moaning and hissing and spitting from three of ours who did not appear to be in the least bit happy to see Apollo and Hera again (Athena was the only one who didn't seem to care but we've discovered she has a very sweet and easy going temperament).
In my heart I am sure that once Apollo and Hera get to their forever homes, they'll be fine after a few days; I think animals have an instinct about being "home" (take Ares and Athena, for example; they seemed to know before we did that they'd come home).
Now, here is the reason for the title to this entry!
Saturday night, Mr. B fell asleep relatively early (10:30). I wasn't tired yet, so, I spent an hour on email/Facebook and then went upstairs to read. A few minutes after I got settled, Pete jumped up on the bed, followed by his little star-struck love slave Athena. I absent mindedly petted both of them as I read my book. Although Pete does not purr loudly, he has a low, comforting rumble while Athena has a very loud motor for such a tiny little thing. I was enjoying their contended sounds when I heard a loud purr intercepted every few seconds with a little squeaky meow. I glanced up from my book to see that Apollo had joined the party! And, to further my amazement, he walked over to me, climbed up on my chest and started to beg to be petted (which I happily obliged).
In the middle of the night, at least twice, he jumped up onto the bed and cuddled up next to me (recognizable by his little squeaky meow; he's the only one that does this). "Wow", I thought to myself, "maybe he's FINALLY turned the corner!" I was so jazzed!
The next morning as I was making the bed, I saw him sitting over by the dresser. I started to walk over to him...and...he darted away. I was a bit crestfallen and confused. He kept this up pretty much all day (other than when he wanted fed, then he was pretty darn friendly again).
This got me to thinking how his behavior and my reaction to it reminded me of getting special attention from a cute boy (like at a dance or something) only to be jilted the next day; shunned, ignored, whatever. You're heartbroken, then, something happens and the boy pays attention to you again. Etc. Well, Love 'Em and Leave 'Em Apollo was back at sucking up to me last night.
All jest aside, I think the issue is that Apollo and Hera, more so than the others, don't really care for humans towering over them (unless the tower is bringing yummy food). Obviously, when I'm prone (flat on my back, not much of a threat), they feel more comfortable; like I am on their level and there is little danger that I'll attack them.
So, Apollo is definitely making more strides than Hera (he's been friendlier today than I've ever seen him) but even Hera is coming around as I found HER next to me on the bed when I woke up this morning!
Two humans, one canine and six felines on one king-sized bed. Can you imagine? It's something else.
Mrs. B


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bulls Game!


The B's and Brother Jon at the Durham Bulls! I should add that it was HOT and STEAMY!

Mrs. B

NY Trip: Driving and the B&B

I got the germ for the idea of going to NY a few months ago. No, not just because I wanted to have a trip scheduled AFTER Charleston (Orlando not being until October; so long to wait for a another outing (me with my itchy feet, that is too long to wait)) but, rather, because I realized it had been FIVE years since we were last in Ithaca and FOUR years since we'd seen Mr. B's brother Mike and his family (they came here for our wedding celebration weekend June 2004). Also, I had yet to meet Mr. B's other brother Kevin, his Aunt Judy and Uncle John, his Uncle Lyle and his three cousins Kathy, Sharon and Joanne.
So, we planned it around Kevin's birthday (July 20th) and what we thought might be Mr. B's 35th HS Reunion (this, however, did not come to pass as no one wanted to organize the reunion). An added bonus; Mrs. Sr. B Roberta was also thinking of flying up from FL around the same time. And, of course, who could complain about the chance to take our fairly new car on a long road trip? I LOVE road trips (usually; more on this, later).
First things first; I had to secure us a room. In 2004, we stayed at a Days Inn or some such place; Mr. B said it was fairly reasonable rate-wise so that is where I started searching. My God, things have apparently changed! The cheapest rate I found (for somewhere we'd be willing to stay) was around $150 a night (for a MOTEL). No thanks. So, I started looking at Ithaca area B&Bs and found a few that seemed ok, especially given the rates of the other places. We settled on The Coddington Guest House near Ithaca College; a fairly modest place with three guest rooms, breakfast included in the rate (of course). Cheaper than The Best Western!
We left home dark and early at 5:22 am Friday. There is not a lot of traffic on the roads we normally travel at that hour so we made it to the freeway in SIX minutes and to the border of NC/VA in one hour.
For the most part, the early part of our drive was ok except for one major snafu outside of DC where I needed to find a bathroom and we got stuck in some traffic, were going the wrong way ("This isn't the way I remembered it!" was definitely the theme of this trip) and I thought I was going to explode. Luckily, Mr. B managed to get us off the congested freeway (accident, we later discovered) to a shopping mall where I was never so happy to go inside an A.C. Moore (and thankful for Mr. B's ability to drive Starskey and Hutch style through the unknown streets!)
Back on track, sort of; we ended up on a smaller highway up towards PA. A pretty enough drive but it wasn't the way Mr. B wanted to go (I'd printed out directions via Yahoo Maps which he decided were not right (but we ended up following them after the getting turned around the wrong way drama). Also, for whatever dumb reason, we left the atlas in the other car. Word to the wise. Don't attempt to drive somewhere without a map; Internet directions are ok, but remember they always advise "Please check first to make sure these roads still exist!" (I'm not really sure how you are supposed to do that other than what we did, which is, you get up there and find out they DON'T really exist). Like I said, Mr. B, who used to drive this way all the time back in the late 80s, was flummoxed by what he thought was one thing and it turned out to be another.
On to PA via 83 and then 81. Ok, except once we got onto 81 toward NY, we discovered they were doing bridge repair on EVERY SINGLE BRIDGE. Traffic was backed up and bunched up and, basically, we got held up about two hours in this mess (BTW, although the lanes were blocked off, NO ONE was working on ANY of the bridges!) I was driving during this stint; I was quite upset because every time I wanted to blast Rush's "Red Barchetta", we'd get slowed down. I'm sorry, it is against all rules to play that song when YOU ARE NOT MOVING!
Once inside NY things picked up until we got near Binghamton where, once again, traffic came to a halt. This time it was an accident (sorry to see that, of course, but happy it wasn't more bridge repair or construction).
We should have been to the B&B by 3:30 or so, as it turned out, we arrived about 5:45. The owner, Denice, had even called us to make sure all was still ok!
A bit about The Coddington Guest House:
This house has welcomed many first-generation Italian immigrants since they began to arrive in Ithaca at the beginning of the 20th Century. From large families to mail-order brides, many of these immigrants stopped first at 130 Coddington Road on their way to a more established existence. The Coddington Guest House honors those memories and traditions that were so much a part of the Ithaca community when its ranks swelled with hopeful strangers from afar. May these walls continue to be welcoming.
Our room was comfortable enough; the bed certainly was. We had a private entrance (not that we really needed it) and breakfast each morning was served in the sunroom. The food was quite good, too. We had fresh fruit and breakfast breads each morning and then a different entree (well, there was one duplicate; we had an egg souffle (roasted red peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, basil and cheese)) twice. The other days we had home made waffles and sausage, an interesting chilled oatmeal, fruit and yogurt breakfast parfait and a nutmeg and egg bread pudding.
The first morning, another couple was there; the man walked right into the kitchen and said, "Guess who died last night?" Walter Cronkite, of course. The other days we shared the B&B with a young family from Maryland (she'd gone to Ithaca College) and their inquisitive and talkative three year old son James (with fire engine red hair to match his bold personality). In general, James was well-behaved (we never heard him other than when he was with us in the breakfast room). Denice had a fourteen year old son whom we caught glimpses of, one of her friends from FL was visiting (she joined us for breakfast twice) and there was a man living there as well but we don't know who he was as he was never introduced. Denice told us she'd bought the B&B 10 or so years ago with the idea of making it family-friendly; her son being quite young at that point and she having had experienced difficulties in staying at a B&B that didn't frown upon children. She said as it's turned out, she doesn't actually get too many children staying there as most people that stay are parents or family members visiting their student at nearby Cornell or Ithaca College.
In general, Mr. B and I like B&Bs because you get a bit more personal touches, usually a wealth of information about the area (Denice also works for The Wine Gazette so she had a lot of advice about wineries and restaurants) and typically very good breakfasts (far superior to the cold cereal, day old danishes, containers of strawberry yogurt and crappy coffee you get at chain motels, if you even get that).
My only beef, and it's a minor one, really was that BECAUSE it was a family-oriented place and because we were off the family room area, we could hear Denice yakking on the phone from time to time (and she had a loud voice to go with her boisterous personality). But, since we really were not there very much at all, this wasn't a huge problem. We'd probably stay there again, but maybe in one of the rooms upstairs next time.
Here are a few pictures of the B&B (most courtesy of the web site as, unusual for me, I forgot to take pictures myself!)




Front; our room on the left (large picture window; great view of the lake!)

Front porch; our private entrance was the door you see there
Breakfast area leading out to sunroom where we ate each morning
Mr. B with Cayuga Lake behind him


So, after we got settled in Friday night, we took off to meet Mr. B's family for a few beers and dinner at one of their favorite places (which I'd read about on their Facebook pages), "The Plantation" (nicknamed "The Plant").
Mrs. B

Friday, July 24, 2009

NY Pictures

Are now available for viewing under Mrs. B's Stuff link.

Mrs. B

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Home From NY

Made it safely home last night around 9:45 pm. We had a great trip! It was so wonderful to spend so much quality time with Mr. B's family and close friends! Pictures coming soon!
The only bad thing about the trip was the drive. Oh, being in the new car sure was nice, but, we got stuck in traffic going and coming. The DC area wasn't so bad but they were doing bridge construction in PA and so it took us about 2 hours longer to get to NY than we planned.
Thankfully, we met Mr. B's family at one of their favorite haunts for dinner and some beers when we arrived Friday night so we rebuilt up our stamina!
Brother Jon and SIL Shannon (and the girls) watched the cats/kittens. Apparently they wrecked a bit of havoc; mostly Ares and Athena (who also ate most of the wet food). Pete and Lily, being the odd-ball Maine Coons that they are, hid most of the time.
Well, they were all out in full-force this morning keeping yours truly from sleeping; pouncing, chasing, fighting, playing, attacking my leg, etc. Here are a few pictures taken a just a bit ago. Pete is sorta pissed off, I think; couldn't get him to look at me. Probably the fact he got his neck stuck in the handles of a brown shopping bag a little before this was taken didn't help. He ran around hissing and spitting; thankfully, he ran right past me and I was able to grab the bag and rip it off him. Too bad I couldn't have taken a video of it; too funny!

Happy Lily

Quite Irritated Pete

Athena and Ares: Do Not Be Fooled By Their Angelic Faces!


Tons to do, including going to pick up The Goose at 3! So, more later!

Mrs. B

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday Pete and Lily!

Oh, they grow up so fast :-)

Here's hoping for many, many more with our twins!
Mrs. B


Pete:








Lily:


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ten Things I Could Talk About For Hours


I got this topic from SIL Analee's Blog. I had to think about this pretty hard as I wasn't sure there were 10 separate things that I could talk about for hours; even so, some of them sorta blend in with one another/overlap.
Here goes (and this is not a Top Ten list meaning "1" is more important than "10"; just a list of ten topics!)
1. Food and wine (recipes, cooking, restaurants, wineries, favorite wines, food and wine pairings).
2. Books and movies.
3. Pets (mine, others, fostering, training, pet memories).
4. People (this subject is a never-ending fodder of conversation! Includes: People I know, used to know, celebrities, ex spouses, random idiots I encounter throughout my day, etc.)
5. Traveling/vacations.
6. Philosophy (mine, others, right vs. wrong, what ifs, etc.)
7. Family, friends and memories (meaning, if I'm with a particular friend or family member, we could go on for hours talking about our shared memories).
8. The News (there is ALWAYS something going on in the World that one could natter about for hours, even if it is to complain/grouse/express disbelief; e.g., are we DONE comparing MJ to JFK yet? PLEASE!)
9. My Hobby Du Jour (known to frequently change once I tire of it, but, while I'm at it, I like to talk about it!) Current hobby: Kitten fostering (which includes discussing the organization we're working with). Other recent hobies: Consulting, Investing, ESL.
10. History (oh, just get me going on the Tudors!)
I'm curious, what are yours? Comment, please!
Mrs. B



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Night in the ER: Adventures and Observations (The End)

With Mr. B off getting X-Rays, I had nothing to do but flip mindlessly through the TV channels (BTW, I found it interesting that each cubicle had its own TV; I guess even when people are in dire straits, they simply cannot do without the boob tube). So, we're at, what? 12:30 in the morning now. Not a whole heck of a lot going on at this hour, which, I suppose, was a good thing, otherwise, Mr. B may have been kicked down the priority in the hit parade had someone having cardiac arrest or a gun shot wound come in.
Suffice it to say, though; I was still freaked out at this point because the hospital remained concerned enough about Mr. B to keep him there, even though they'd yet to pin point any particular issue (although his blood pressure, normally low, was on the high end but that certainly could have been due to the pain and being in a hospital).
When Mr. B came back, it was time to move to the other side of the ER into what was in essence "Observation ER". This meant they wanted to give him a bit more privacy but had to continue to try and figure out what was going on, or at the very least, rule out that he was not in any imminent danger of dying.
So, off we went through a myriad of corridors and turns, past the main entrance into the ER (where two policemen were talking to a few hospital staff advising them to "keep all visitors in rooms, don't let them wander the halls" (I never did find out what THAT was all about) and on through a few more corridors until we got to a smallish but private room, equipped with a real hospital bed (not just a Stryker gurney), a comfortable enough looking recliner (for yours truly) and a small bathroom area (sectioned off by a hanging curtain; yep, I definitely would not be using these facilities).
I have to say upon entering this room that I was more than happy to still have the blanket that Austin (remember him from Part One?) gave me, oh, about seven hours earlier. The room was FREEZING. There was also a white board on the wall with the names of the PA and nurse on duty (from two days prior).
After Mr. B got settled in the bed, the nurse commenced to talk me into going home before I got "too tired to drive". Frankly, it had been running through my mind that I really should go home for a bit; I WAS exhausted (and freezing), I was starving (poor Mr. B was still not allowed any food), there were several hours ahead of us of more blood work and the ever present WAITING WAITING WAITING for news, any news, of what was going on. As previously mentioned, we'd be told, "I'll be back in a bit", or, "Let me go find out what the doctor thinks", followed by a long period of wondering if they'd forgotten we were there. Anyway, I was also thinking about the kittens needing to be feed, the dog probably needing to go out again soon, packing some things for Mr. B (in the awful event he had to stay in the hospital longer than one night), etc.
Most importantly, the nurse told me (when I stepped out to use the bathroom) that it was unlikely Mr. B would sleep if I was there and he really needed some rest. The nurse assured me I could return at any time during the night (no set visiting hours in the ER, I guess).
So, feeling terribly guilty for leaving him there and after many kisses and "Are you sure you are ok with me going?", I departed around 12:45 or so.
I collected my car from the valet (I still find this odd; valet parking at a hospital, are you supposed to tip them? I took out a dollar but the guy handed me the key and ran off before I could give it to him) and drove myself home.
Now, here is an interesting thing. I got home after 1:00 am. I was dead tired. I was worried sick and a bit discombobulated. So, what did I do? I proceeded to clean and tidy the house; to do a few chores that certainly could have waited until later. As I was doing this, the thought crossed my mind, "You're doing this so you don't have to think about what may be going on here". "They" say when a person is stressed/has their back against the wall/feels out of their element, etc., that said person will tend to fall back on predictable, comfortable behavior (even if they usually try to suppress that behavior). Well, mine is doing something, anything, so that I feel I'm in control. Even if it is something as simple as being in control of a clean cat box.
Finally, I couldn't stay on my feet any longer so I took myself up to a very lonely bed. I knew from a recent text message I'd received from Mr. B ("Bring food tomorrow!") that he was still awake and this didn't help my guilt any! I told myself I'd sleep a few hours and get back to the hospital well before six am.
My cell phone alarm went off at 3:30 am. I had that awful heavy head feeling which relayed to me that there was no way I could drive until I had more sleep. I sent Mr. B a text; he was awake so I called him. No, he hadn't slept much because they'd been in and out of the room drawing more blood, checking his vitals, giving him more pain medication, etc. But, he thought he might be able to sleep now so we decided I'd get more sleep, too.
I woke up at 6:00; jumped up, ran around putting together a bag of various stuff (books, cards, snacks, bottled water, toothbrush) for Mr. B, took care of my pet chores, unloaded the wine we'd bought the day before from the trunk of the car, and set off back to the hospital by 6:30.
I dropped the car off with the valet again (this time the attendant accepted the tip), checked in with the front desk, and found my way to Mr. B's room where I found him wide awake, still unable to eat, and quite grouchy (I didn't blame him in the least, of course, but it was still disheartening).
There was yet another PA and nurse on duty now. They told us that the doctor would come in to see Mr. B in a bit (yey, a real doctor) and that he wanted to confer with Bob (the original PA, who was due back on duty at 9:00 am).
To wrap this long missive up (and since you all know by now that Mr. B is fine, nothing dire was wrong with him and he's since been seeing a chiropractor to work on strengthening is back/spine), they finally fed Mr. B around 8:30 am and we checked out about 11:00 am with everyone there still puzzled by what was wrong with him, but, satisfied that he was not in any danger of keeling over dead.
We were both never so happy to get out of a place (I can think of maybe one other place in my life I was happier to say good-bye to). Mr. B spent the better part of his Father's Day sleeping while I tried to catch up on stuff that had gone undone the day before, thankful that he was upstairs and knowing things could have turned out far worse.
Everyone was relatively efficient (other than the disappearing acts and the first monkey man intern who didn't really appear to know anything). Although the place was freaking freezing, it was very clean and sterile. I wasn't overly worried about picking up Swine Flu. I was a bit put off by some of the other patients/visitors but that certainly was not the fault of the hospital and I never felt unsafe (though having to go through a metal detector to get into the ER was a bit weird; I think maybe this was to deter would-be drug thieves). The stay was much more comfortable once Mr. B was moved to the room (and the chair wasn't bad; I probably could have slept there if I'd had to). According to Mr. B, the food was just so-so, but, hey, no one would expect Magnolia Grill caliber food in a hospital and by the time he finally was able to eat, I think he was so hungry, he didn't really care). I can't argue with the convenience of the valet parking, especially as I left the hospital after midnight and would have felt creeped out having to walk by myself to the parking garage.
So, not that we want to return to the ER anytime soon, but, as far as ratings go, I suppose I'd give it 3 1/2 out of 5 for comfort, 2 1/2 out of 5 for keeping us informed, and 5 out of 5 for the most important thing of all; keeping Mr. B alive :-)
Mrs. B


Saturday, July 11, 2009

NEVER Say Never

I'm gonna preface this entry by saying, all of you out there who are going to tell me, "I KNEW it!", well, you were right.
Short story long.
Last weekend, we had a lot of interest in The Greeks, in particular, Ares (two families). As it turned out, only one family submitted an application (for both Ares and Athena) but they were denied by Hobbes House because they have four children under the age of six As an aside, we were none too happy that we had not been informed up front that Hobbes House does not adopt kittens to families with children under six, nor, as it turns out, will they adopt (typically) to college students or people from out of state (their reasoning for this one is that if the people need to return the cat, it would be impossible of they lived out of state. Of course, one might argue the same for someone that lives in state NOW but moves away at some point!) Suffice it to say, WE think that judgement regarding each situation should be a factor, but, hey, we are not the owners of the business.
Anyway, we've had The Greeks almost six weeks now (can you believe that?) and, of the five, Ares and Athena have definitely been the ones to make themselves at home. Ares is EVERYWHERE (he thinks this is HIS house) and Athena follows me around and likes to cuddle. Both of them play well with Pete and Lily and have little fear of Lucy.
So, ya know where I'm heading with this, don't you?
Well, wait. You're going to think it was ME that went back on my word to Mr. B as I'd promised him I would not ask him if we could keep one of the fosters; this was one of the conditions for him agreeing to foster in the first place. Plus, I kept assuring anyone who asked that I would NOT get attached, that WE wouldn't get attached (I really didn't think Mr. B would).
Actually, the way it went down was, Mr. B came home last night and we got to talking about the fosters and our frustration with all the rules of who can adopt and who cannot. He said, "Well, I don't even want to take Ares tomorrow to the Thon. I'm about ready to tell them, "Here is $100 for Ares, he's staying with us and here are the other three for you to take back!"" I was a bit shocked. Mr. B wanted another cat?

I said, "Uh, what about Athena?" (thinking about how she has taken to cuddling with me in the afternoons while I am reading). He thought about this and said, "I don't think there would be that much difference between having three cats or having four cats so why don't we keep both of them".
My dear husband, I think, has officially been converted and is now a cat person :-)
I talked to Hobbes House about it and they were, of course, thrilled that we want to adopt them. They even said we'd get a discount on the adoption fee (which makes sense as we've been forking out money for them for a month and a half, anyway).
They might not be too thrilled, though, when they learn that, after we find homes for Hera and Apollo (both of us are committed to placing them), we're not going to foster again. We can't! But, hey, we agreed to try this, we knew it might not work, and now we have two more cats. Frankly, though, it feels right. Mr. B, not normally the one to say stuff like this, said, "I think those people got denied because we are supposed to have them".
As of tomorrow, Ares and Athena will officially be part of the B household. And, we're even gonna keep their names :-)
Mrs. B

Friday, July 10, 2009

Life Around Here At Pet Central

Oh SNAP yesterday was SO irritating!

But, rather than bitch and complain, instead I'll post a few pictures of life around here these past few days at pet central!
Lucy and Apollo:
Lily and Ares:

Amy and Zeus:


And a video of dinner time! Apollo is the squeaker, Ares has the low meow. All are present save Hera, who is usually fashionably late to dinner.
video


Mrs. B

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Our Charleston Trip: The End

At this point, does anyone still care? Well, I do; plus, I need the write-up to put in my photo album!
Mrs. B

19 May
Yesterday's weather did not improve much at all. We drove out to Folly Beach to see the place where the deed was done. It was rainy and windy so we only stayed long enough to snap a few pictures (Mark's expression is priceless in this one, I think!)
Anyway, back to Charleston. The weather was still awful so we went to The Charleston Museum and poked around there several hours. Then, we ended up at the pub next to the inn for a few beers (we've always meant to stop in here since it's so close to the inn; finally did it!)
We decided to have a low key dinner (read: not as expensive) so we tried a place on the corner of E. Bay called Southend Brewery. Well, it was definitely cheaper! Actually, it wasn't bad (but nothing to write home about). Read my review here. It certainly is an alternative to all the very expensive places. The beer was so-so, though and our waitress was out and out spacey.
We met the GM of the inn! She recognized me because she'd seen my Blog post "At the Vendue Inn" where I am sitting in the middle of the huge bed and said I felt like Edith Ann. That was sort of neat! We just saw her again this morning at breakfast; she asked "And how is Edith Ann this morning?"
So, today is our last full day here (until our next visit, of course!) We were planning on Ft. Sumter but the weather is still chilly and we don't have the right clothes for a 75 minute boat ride on choppy water. I guess this means we'll wander around the market buying gifts.
Dinner tonight at The Library (the inn's restaurant) at 7:30!
20 May
On our way home shortly; just time enough to finish writing about our visit.
Yesterday turned out fine despite not being able to go to Ft. Sumter. After our stint at the market, we ended up back at The Griffon (the pub next door; read my review here) and then hung around the room until dinner time. Very relaxing, almost TOO relaxing!
Dinner at The Library was quite good. I had a sweet pea soup; Mark had shrimp bisque. He had fish; I had a smoked pork chop. We split a peanut butter chocolate cake (a PIECE; not the entire cake!) The place was relatively deserted but I suppose it was a Tuesday night. Here is my review; we'd probably go back.

Then, back up to The Rooftop Bar for scotch and cigars.
So, onward home to our "kids"!
Here's my review of the Vendue Inn.
Until next time, Charleston!

Sketch Me


One of the more interesting applications on Facebook!
Mrs. B

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Flower Picture


I stumbled across this (which I wrote in 2005) and just felt like re-posting it! Maybe because I was looking at the picture this morning and it brought this tale to mind.
Mrs. B

The Flower Picture

The Flower Picture is now hanging on the wall in our bedroom; I think it compliments the lavender paint.
When she gave it to me, Mom said it was an antique. Not surprising considering how many items in their grand house in Ft. Wayne were antiques (so many that when they moved, they held an estate sale; my dad chortled that they had sold a thousand pieces and made a bundle of cash).
Dad was obviously of the mind that there was no sense in hauling all of that stuff to North Carolina; Mom reluctantly agreed but I am sure she felt a pang as each item was carted off by its new owner. Not that it all went, of course. The Flower Picture came along for the ride from Indiana to North Carolina, having been claimed by me the previous Christmas.
We’d just barely arrived at Mom and Dad’s for the holidays when Mom presented me and my younger brother each with a small wire bound notebook. “Time to go shopping!” she exclaimed; while Doc and I gave each other puzzled looks. “We can’t take all of this with us to North Carolina so we want you to tell us what you’d like.” “That doesn’t mean you’ll get it!” piped in Dad as he popped a peanut in his mouth. “But, we’ll take it under consideration”. “Well”, said Mom. “What Dad means is that some of this we will want to hold onto and you’ll get it later, but a lot of it we don’t think we’ll need once we move into a smaller house.” “So,” continued Dad, “Spend the next few days walking around and looking at everything, write down what you want and then we’ll let you know if you can have it." "But", he said wagging a finger at us, “when we are ready to off load it, you’ll have to be prepared to come get it or else we’ll sell it!” “Well!” said Mom. “Who wants a snack? Mark, do you want a beer?” “Oh boy!” said Doc “Time for food pusher Mom to make one of her several hundred appearances this week!” But, we all grinned despite ourselves and eagerly succumbed to the pleasures of food and drink; made all the more enjoyable because everyone knows calories don’t count when you go home for the holidays.
Later, Mark and I spent some quiet time unpacking in the room we’d been allotted for the visit known as “The Pink Room”; so named because my mother had basically decorated the room with girly-girl accents; not everything being pink, but, a good number of the objects and furnishings were. Still, to me, it was warmly familiar as the majority of my girlhood rooms growing up had been premonitions of what this room eventually turned out to be. Being a bit tired after driving in the snow from North Carolina to Indiana, with two aged male cats in the backseat strongly expressing their displeasure at being confined in crates and hauled through windy West Virginia mountain terrains, Mark elected to take a short nap. Leaving him to his sweet dreams, I decided this would be an opportune time for me to wander around the house, small notebook in hand, jotting down what items in the house would be of interest to us.
Right off the bat I knew of several pieces that I’d like to have; mostly more out of sentimental value than anything else. First off, I wanted the large framed piece of stained glass that mom and dad used to keep outside in their backyard in Palos Verdes, CA. I had a particular fondness for the glass as it had hung over my head as I cut my wedding cake with my first husband. Not that I had a latent fondness for the first husband; just the glass. They now had it hanging in their sun porch; a wonderful spot for it as it caught the essence of the morning light. I went down to the sun porch to eye ball the glass; yes, I definitely still wanted it. I left the sun porch and went into the huge family room, admiring the 12’ Christmas tree and the amazing job at decorating it that my mother did all on her own (dad’s job being “limited” to dragging the thing in, setting it up, and stringing the lights). I wondered vaguely where she’d hidden the pickle ornament and half-heartedly searched the fragrant boughs of the noble fir for the gleaming green glass. I couldn’t find it, I never could. Not that it mattered as this honor would be left to one of my sister’s three children; whoever found the pickle ornament received a special present. It dawned on me that this pickle ornament procedure was not something we’d ever done as children; my mother must have read about it somewhere later and decided it was a nice added touch to the festivities.
I looked around the room to see if there was anything in particular that I’d like to have in my house. My eyes landed on one corner of the room where my mother had arranged a cozy nook where one might sit in the over sized stuffed green chair, place their feet on the matching ottoman, turn on the old-fashion Tiffany-ish floor lamp, and escape the bedlam of the holidays by delving into a book or magazine. Or a snooze. Thinking the lamp might fit in with our bedroom d├ęcor, I stepped a bit closer to admire it. I glanced up at the picture hanging behind the chair. As I looked at it, my mom came into the room. She stood behind me, a silent presence, but I knew she was there. “That was one of grandma’s favorite pictures” she said softly. I wondered why I’d never noticed it before. Certainly, I would have remembered it from the house I grew up in? “She gave it to me when we moved her into the nursing home” she continued, solving that mystery for me. “It used to hang behind grandpa’s chair, do you remember?” Try as I might, I couldn’t bring it to mind, although I do have one very strong memory of sitting in my grandpa’s lap, in his chair, and cuddling up to his smell of starched work shirts and freshly lit cigarettes. “Grandpa won that picture as a door prize at Voncastle Theater in 1939” mom said. “He gave it to grandma as a gift, before they were married”. “Oh, no wonder it was one of her favorites!” I replied. I peered at it a bit closer. Frankly, it wasn’t anything to write home about per se, but, it certainly wasn’t abhorrent, either. And, being over 50 years old, it was technically an antique. Maybe I should put it on my wish list. As if she could read my mind (and likely she can at times) my mom suggested that I put it on my list. “I think it’s time for it to move on to the next generation of Wooden women” she said as she smiled at me. “Grandma would like that”.
Mom walked away but I continued to regard the picture. As I stood there, I had what I like to refer as “A Helen Keller at the Water Pump Moment”; when all of a sudden, something that has been eluding your comprehension clicks into place, just like when Helen Keller, standing at the water pump with her teacher, Annie Sullivan, finally realized that the unfamiliar gestures that Teacher had been pressing into one of her hands was the name for what she was feeling with her other hand. It struck me. This wasn’t just a picture that had belonged to my grandparents; something to point to and say “Oh yeah, my grandpa won that for my grandma”; rather, it was actually something they’d looked upon. Maybe they’d even stood there together, admiring it after grandpa hung it on the wall. Perhaps my grandmother had slipped her hand into my grandpa’s, put her head on his shoulder, and thanked him for being the 50th person to walk through the door of the charity function that night. Or, could it be my grandma initially loathed the picture but tolerated it because my grandpa had been so sincere when he’d bestowed it upon her? And, as time went on, my grandma came to love the picture because it’d been around for so long; reminding her of happier times? Perhaps my grandmother held my mother up to the picture when she was a small child and introduced the different colors of the rainbow to her by pointing to one flower or the other and whispering “This one is white, that one is yellow, and this one is my very favorite because it is the bluest blue, the color of your daddy’s eyes”.
I decided then that I would very much like to have this picture hanging in my house. I wanted to look at it and be reminded of my grandparents. Grandparents are, at times, too easy to forget. Not for lack of love, but, rather, lack of presence. Of my grandpa, I have that one memory in the chair, strengthened by the involvement of smell. Sometimes, I think I remember more, but, in reality, what I am recalling is seeing pictures of which I was part of the scene but far too young to take anything away from it to bring back to mind later. So, I thought having the picture would bring me closer to him. My grandma, too, of course; but, it is my grandpa that I sometimes yearn for; despite the fact that I am 42 years old. I feel this way because of what I hear in my mom’s voice on the rare occasions when she talks about him. There are other memories, but, they are far too sad to think about overly much. Grandpa died of Alzheimer ’s disease on October 5th, 1975; my mom and dad’s wedding anniversary, and a little over two months before Doc was born. Doc got his nickname from grandpa; according to mom, her father was always known as “Doc”. Funny, but incredibly wonderful, how people can live on through someone they never met.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Junk From The Humane Society (NOT The Animals!)

Obviously with the current state of the economy, times are tight for a lot of folks, not the least being non-profit organizations. It's pretty standard MO for people to tighten up their belts when things are uncertain money-wise; non-profits typically suffer vastly from this unfortunate, but understandable, necessity.
I'm on the Board for the Durham Symphony. Yeah, there has been a distinct shriveling up of funds; both from businesses and individual donors. Many a Board meeting has been spent discussing ways to generate much needed moolah. We have started to go down the path of providing some extras for people who buy season tickets or contribute at X level or above. Of course, this is a sticky wicket from a tax perspective.
Anyway, as the symphony provides a tangible to people who buy tickets/donate (meaning, there is a service in return; performed music), we might be better off than those who rely on donations to stay afloat and yet there is no real tangible return for the donors (no tit for tat, anyway).
I'm thinking now about the Humane Society. I've always donated money to the HSUS, as well as other respectable organizations that strive to help animals. They are not the only organizations we support (we try to donate to causes our friends support/participate in (walks for breast cancer, bike rides for Aids, runs for leukemia, etc.)), but, I have to say, animal-related ones are up there on our list.
Organizations such as the Humane Society have long been known for the tactic of providing something to you (address labels, a few holiday greeting cards with your name printed on them) in the hopes that you'll buckle and send in a few bucks in return. Most people who give to any charitable organization know that, when you move, there is really no sense in actually purchasing new return address labels as the charities you support will track you down and send you a life time supply (even the charities you don't support and have never even heard of will do this; just check out one of the drawers in our pie safe where we keep the vast quantities of address labels we've received!)
I've noticed, though, that over the past few years, the Humane Society seems to have gone a bit wacky with the come on gifties, to the point where, I wonder WHY they are spending so much money on this stuff (which is basically junk) and NOT using said funds for the animals? Maybe the junk is donated by other partner organizations, but, really, it's starting to get a tad irritating to keep getting gifts in the mail from them with a plea to send more money.
Here are some of the items I've received:
-Return Address Labels (these are useful, however, sometimes they come under my old name so they are basically worthless)
-Holiday Cards
-Holiday Stationary
-Holiday Gift Wrap Sets
-Christmas Tree Ornaments (so, what do our non Christmas celebrating friends do with all the holiday stuff, anyway?)
-Personalized Stationary
-Personalized Magnetic Notepads (handy for shopping lists, I must say)
-Personalized Mini Photo Album (I might use this to keep a picture of each of our Fosters)
-Greeting Cards (assortment)
-Wall Calendars
-Personalized Pocket Calendars (oddly enough, the calendars don't come every year)
-Pen and Pencil Set
-Tee Shirts (although I haven't received one of these since 2005, which is a shame as I do wear them for working out, sleeping in, etc.)
-Fleece Throw Blankets (I think I've received at least two, maybe three of these)
-Key Chains
-Tote Bags (can be useful except they are fairly cheap and fall apart easily if you put anything too heavy in them)
-Umbrella (this broke the first time I attempted to use it)
-Reading Glasses (I kid you not)
-Stuffed Dog, Stuffed Bear and Stuffed Wolf (this may actually have come from some place other than the HSUS). Both the dog and bear have tags around their necks that read, "Amy's Dog" and "Amy's Bear"
-His and Hers Sport Watches (this one sorta stunned me)
-Calculator (I just got this in the mail today, which is what prompted this entry)
I'm sure I've missed a few things (and God only knows what may be next).
The thing is, most of this stuff is cheaply made, falls apart, looks like crap (or pretty darn silly), etc. I feel guilty throwing them away, though. Some things I've been able to give to other people but most of it lays around our house in various places.
Seriously, if they are trying to get me to send them a donation, they'd have better luck mailing the following items instead:
-More Tee Shirts (hey, I don't mind sporting shirts with pictures of cute little kittens and puppies)
-Flip Flops (we all know these are cheap to make since you can find pairs of them for $2 at Wal-Mart)
-Beach Towels
-Antenna Balls (who wouldn't want kitty or doggie head to put on their antenna?)
-Cat and Dog Toys (with the menagerie we've got now, we can always use pet toys!)
-Cat and Dog Blankets (ok, I guess those fleece throw things they keep sending me are about the same thing)
-Cat and Dog Food Dishes and Water Bowls
-Cat Box Litter Scoops
-Dog Sweaters
-Playing Cards (they could have a different cute animal for each of the 52 cards)
-Mouse Pads
Etc., etc.
Again; the VERY best thing they could do, as far as I am concerned, is stop sending stuff, period.
Mrs. B

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lucy-ism

Because Lucy doesn't do well with food around our other pets (just ask Lily), we started (at my brother's suggestion) to try to feed her outside. If it's raining, we feed her in the sunroom. If one of the cats (or now kittens) are in the sunroom, we put her in the 1/2 bathroom off the kitchen and shut the door.

Most of you know, too, that Lucy is fairly well trained in that she will sit down next to her bowl and wait for the okay command to start eating.
So, the drill is, after I shut the door, I go sit down at the table. When I no longer hear her gobbling away, I let her out.
Here is the Lucy-ism.
Not too long ago, we went through this drill. I got her bowl of food, put it on the floor in the bathroom, she came in, I made her sit, etc.
I went out and sat at the table and got distracted by an email or something. Probably ten minutes later, I realized it was quiet in there so she must be done.
I opened the door (and flipped on the light as I'd obviously unconsciously switched it off) and there was Lucy sitting next to her bowl with a pathetic look on her face.
Her bowl was still full of food. It was then I'd realized I'd forgotten to give her the "okay" command.
So, she was just sitting there (in the dark) not eating her breakfast because she'd not been told it was okay!
Silly Goose!
Mrs. B