Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Doorbell's Ringin'

It's a Happy and Noisy Halloween at Mary's house! What a great night for trick-or-treating...around 65 degrees, dry, and slightly breezy. I'm giving handfuls of candy to each visitor since my driveway is so steep and the steps leading onto the front porch cause athletes to pant. Michael is in Charleston, SC this week so I am the lone greeter and treater tonight, along with my nervous Boston Terriers and they really know how to shake things up.

"Roooooooooo Roo-Roo Roo Roo!", almost in unison, is what I hear when the doorbell rings. My barking BTs scare people but not often. Tonight, one little toddler saw them at the door and disappeared but I caught up with her and treated her royally.

Freak Out!

Chloe faces the bizarre creatures face to face! Bella is spooky and "Rooooo Roo-Roo Roo Rooooos!" while backing up. She's our "back-up alert dog".

And here I am, wearing my favorite mask. Took the picture myself. One of these days I'll muster enough courage to put the real me out there, which, I think, will be a slight improvement!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Making Lemonade from Lemons

Our weekend trip to Maryland wasn't without a few little glitches. One of the them was the head cold that hit me with striking force the night before we left, hey, but that's OKAAAY. It rained steadily for the the entire seven-hour drive northeast on Friday, but that's OKAAAY. We drove more than eighteen hours over three days, but that's OKAAAY. We salvaged what we could and had a good time!

My Dad looked better than I expected but not as good as when I saw him last on June 1st. His nursing home arrangements are in the works and he should be placed within a few weeks. He was sitting in his wheelchair in my brother's family room, watching the Disney Channel, and we said, "Hey, Dad!" His eyes brightened and he smiled and said, "Hello, Thank You!" "Thank You" and "OK" are his default replies for everything. Maybe he recognized us - no, he didn't - because he thinks I'm one of his sisters and he didn't know who in the heck Michael was...

My Dad, who has been partially paralyzed and wheel chair and bed bound for eleven years can smile but doesn't remember his late wife of forty-six years. Oh, so sad. Yes, he laughs and is full of thanks for any attention given to him. And for that, I am thankful. He has his moments of grumpiness, but, for the most part, he's a happy soul who is completely tickled to have a pudding cup for a snack while viewing the History Channel on TV.

On Friday night, I saw him watching me very intently over his bed while I was talking to my sister-in-law. He was looking up at me with a very soft and thoughtful look on his face and eyes, and half-smiling, as if he was trying to pull me up and out from his memory bank to know who was standing over him. This moved me so... I remember that same gaze and look in his eyes on my wedding day.

Placement in a nursing home is very necessary for Dad and my brother, too. My brother is on the brink of insanity from not only caring for Dad in the evenings (actually 24-7) and scheduling nursing care, but from dealing with his deteriorating family life and personal life, as well. He's done as much as he can but Dad's health issues have become too complex for the visiting nurses or anyone else in the house. Caregivers seem to suffer the most. After all, Mom is gone. She did a commendable job. I guess I'm writing this to convince myself that there are unpleasant decisions to make during a lifetime and it's OKAAAY.

The weather in Maryland was raw, wet, and windy. Wind gusts of 45-50 miles per hour slapped us along side our heads. I visited Mom's grave and decorated it while wind and debris blew me around and nearly tore the jacket off my back but I got the job done!

Fall colors were exhuberant throughout the three states and I was especially impressed with Lake Gaston and Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. The color scenes were breathtaking. If I weren't driving, I would have photographed those gorgeous Fall colors. When driving back to North Carolina today, I could see that the winds that struck the region, stripped the colors from the trees, and many of them were naked and ready for winter.

Our friends had to tie down their boat on Saturday evening. A wind advisory...

The winds made white caps along the sides of the pier!

I couldn't resist this photo even though I was risking being blown off the side of the pier.

At last! A year-long craving, SATISFIED!

A cup of cream of crab soup, and....Maryland Steamed Crabs. Heavenly! These were packed heavily and seasoned to perfection. I'm going to rely on Fed Ex to have this treat more often.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What Will Tomorrow Bring?

It's been nearly five months since my Mom died and the last time I saw my Dad. Tomorrow morning, we are driving to Maryland to see him.
The range of emotions I'm feeling right now is hard to put into words. Clearly, I want to see him but a feeling of dread is washing over me and I hate it. He's failing quickly and his quality of life is so poor right now... A nursing home is in his immediate future.
Watching your parents fail and die tests your own bravery and I'll accept the challenge to stay strong. Tomorrow when I walk through the door and see him, I'll be my silly self and talk with him as if I saw him yesterday, and who knows, maybe he'll know me as his daughter!

May 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

About Posting on Your Blog

As a novice blogger, I am learning that you need to have your posting tools close at hand and in good working condition. The most critical tool I have is my mind and it's always ready and composing...stewing up a post whether I'm chopping a salad, showering, or walking to the mailbox. My camera is charged, too, although it's not always with me if I don't have pockets.

There are other tools that I don't have. What's missing? Time. Only an hour a day to get my thoughts in order to compose something coherent. There are days when I don't have an hour. For instance, today I wanted to save some time and grab a text file from my archives...a very nice tribute I wrote a few years ago about the sport of competitive swimming and the wonderful people in it, highlighting Gina, of course. Swimming was a gigantic part of Gina's life, i.e. ours, for more than eleven years. With a few clicks on the mouse, I could publish in minutes! But this post would need photos, no doubt. Where are they? Several hundred of them are stored on an old Gateway CPU (vintage '96) sitting in one of our spare bedrooms. Been collecting dust for three years. Monitor's in the attic, of course.

At 4:30 p.m. I had a bright idea! I have Kodak photos (pre-digital) and we have a fairly new HP multi-function printer with a scanner. I spent 30 minutes trying to scan a photo and received a communication error. This is when I start grinding my teeth because there are two loads of laundry waiting for me...dogs that are attention deprived and need it RIGHT NOW! Heck, I don't even know if I can scan a photo and convert it to a format Blogger would accept!

So here I sit. With nothing. If I try to extract those photos and load them onto this Dell and lose them...oh, heavens...I can't bear the thought...the wailing...

Agenda Item: Call techie and schedule housecall.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Traveling with Mr. "Hurry Up"

News flash: Charlotte had a record low of 28 degrees at the airport today and on the way to work I saw 33 degrees on my car thermometer. Ughh. This is a prelude of a cold winter that Charlotte experiences very seldom, I think. I can already feel it in my bones. Tomorrow, a heavy frost is predicted so I'll need to say a sad good-bye to the annuals I cared for since May and watch my Koi sink and lay still.

Work at the office gave me a headache today before 11:30 a.m. I'm actually ready for bed right now but this evening I was busy preparing for our drive to Maryland on Friday. It's time to visit my Dad, who I haven't seen since Mom's funeral on June 1st. He's slipping fast and I don't even think it's because of Mom being gone since he didn't remember her when we told her she had passed away. The major stroke he suffered in October 1995 has slowly taken tiny bites away from his quality of life and now he is completely bedridden and needs more care than the visiting nurse and my brother can give him. A nursing home is available to him when the paperwork is complete. So, I am hoping that when I arrive I'll see a little sign of recognition or a spark in his eyes when I say, "Hi, Dad!" Last June he was alert enough to know me at times, but I don't think he'll know me now.

During this whirlwind visit, I'll see Dad, who is now living in my brother's house in Pasadena, MD, my brother and his family, the vacant in-law apartment attached to my brother's house where Mom and Dad spent the last nine years of their lives and where I cared for them at times when they needed me, Michael's twin sister Michele in Forest Hill, MD, and our good friends in Severna Park who will open their home to us for a good night's sleep and laughs. If I had more time, I would take more days to drive around Maryland and Delaware to see more family and wonderful friends that I miss. But I can't do it now. I regret it, but the time will come for me to gallivant and visit these familiar places and great people one of these days.

On my way home from work tonight, I realized that I need to get ready for a trip with Michael, the "trip agenda enforcer"! Ordinary people just pack their bags, get in the car and go. Not the Ferracci's! Whether we leave for ten nights or two, the routine is always the same:

1. Line up the pet-sitter.
2. Leave the pet-sitter a list of telephone numbers and instructions on the kitchen table. And don't forget to leave a check.
3. Top the pond and clean the skimmer.
4. Fill the bird feeder.
5. Get the laundry caught up.
6. Vacuum the entire house.
7. Clean all bathrooms.
8. Put all trash out so the house is trash-free.
9. Empty dishwasher on the day of departure.
10. Fill the gas tank in the Envoy.
11. Set sprinklers.
12. Dust. I never dust often enough and I won't do it this week, either. Adding "Dust" to the list of things to do is only a mere formality.
13. Poop patrol the yard.

All of the above is done before the trip because after fourteen hours or more of driving over three days is tiring enough and warrants a homecoming into a clean house. We will arrive home again, kiss the dogs, drop our bags, and be done with it.

So, tonight was bathroom cleaning. Two and a half of them.

Chloe: "Cleaning the bathroom at night? Next you'll be packing bags. I know the routine."

Tomorrow will be the vacuuming evening. I have a friend in Maryland, Allison, who used to vacuum her way out of her house when leaving on vacation and threatened her family not to walk on the freshly vacuumed carpet. I always think of her when I'm pushing the vacuum before leaving and laugh about her...she's one of a kind!

Thursday evening will be full of laundering and packing way too many pieces of clothing and shoes on my part, in addition to my hair and face necessities, and far less for Michael who is satisfied with one pair of shoes and not enough Fruit of the Looms.

Friday morning will arrive and Michael will be pacing, doing a trash can check, and carefully hanging that wet dishcloth on the sink and quizzing me, "Is the dishwasher empty?". He'll take out the last bit of trash and place it into the appropriate bins. He'll take one used paper cup from the bathroom or even a gum wrapper and dispose it and I'm not exaggerating. This is the man I married, who, many years ago, would load newly purchased eggs into the refrigerator and take a permanent marker to the older ones so I would know to use the older eggs first (FIFO).

On Friday at 7:00 a.m., he'll say "Are you ready to go?" Let it be known right now that I am never late for anything. I am prompt to a fault. But with Michael waiting, I'll be breaking a sweat with last minute things, such as finding a mood relaxing radio station to play for Chloe and Bella, giving them a biscuit, making sure they have plenty of water, squeaky toys and rawhides to keep them busy, and kissing them and telling them, "I'll be back later". And, he'll say, "Did you adjust the thermostat and are the doors all locked?" I'll think, "No, we'll let the dogs freeze and leave the doors unlocked this time just for the fun of it." Ooops. It'll be 7:05 a.m. My handbag will be on my shoulder the bags are in the car and he'll say, "I'll be in the car." But I have to pee. And I'll do it quickly.

We usually split the driving. I start first. And he needs to listen to his static-filled talk radio while I'd much rather be listening to one of my CD's, blaring loudly, or my morning radio show with Ace and TJ. He usually fidgets in my Envoy...touching this and that and pushing buttons and annoying the heck of of me, but I stay quiet because I don't speak in the morning. After about an hour, I am cruising at a good pace on 85 North and I'll see his head bend to the left and check my speedometer. I get a warning from him about traveling 80 miles an hour while people are passing me like I'm standing still. I think, "Oh, just shut up." That's not enough. he'll comment, "Do you know you're driving in that van's blind spot? Why are you doing that?" Now I think (while gritting teeth), "Oh, just shut up or get out of the car, will ya?"

By the time we finish I-95 and are on the Virginia side, I'm getting sleepy (from nicotene withdrawal and...yes, I-need-to-quit-and-made-a-promise-to-do-it-soon-and-that's-another-whole-post-or-more) and Michael takes the wheel after we stop for gas, which, by the way, will need to be on the RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD because making a left hand turn or U-turn is against the "Rules of Driving, by Michael". We call him "right lane Mike". If your bladder is ready to burst, you just need to endure the pain while looking left and seeing Hardees, Wendy's, McDonald's, and Taco Bell whizzing by. There is always bound to be something ahead on the right...maybe we'll see something within 20 miles or so...
It's great to look forward to a trip on the weekend, but...not...really. HA!

Bella: "Are you done cleaning, Mom? Is it time to........play........BALL?"

Monday, October 23, 2006

I'm Back in Business!

LA LA LA LA LA! Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

I changed some Internet settings and cleared my Cache and it works! Three agonizing days of not being able to post here at home after being prompted to Log In, Log In, over and over again was putting me over the edge. Kind of like having a new Mercedes convertible in the driveway and not being able to find the ignition key.... Looks like my Internet was clogged with too many temporary files and junk and I adjusted some Java settings. I sat here tonight determined to fix this problem and after almost two hours, I think I fixed it. Blogger tips helped (although I hate to admit it). Next post: Tuesday evening, 10/24.

Better Late than Never

Well, well, well. I see I can post now. But I'm at WORK! All weekend long I tried to create a new post and Dear Blogger wouldn't allow me. I even went so far as to post a comment on the Blogger Help Group site and I found that I'm not alone - this free service by Google is a freaking can of worms. Now I'm hoping that there is nothing wrong with my computer at home....hmmm.....I'll see about it tonight. Michael left for Charleston again for the week so I'll have time in the evenings to mess with Blogger (punch my fist through the damned monitor) since I only need to reheat a few things for my dinners (how nice...)! This post will be a quicky - I have loads of work to do here.

On Friday, the NETHERLANDERS descended from their tour bus and visited our campus. Forty-three of them, from high school teachers to college presidents. I was charged with planning and setting up an attractive refreshment table and I was also asked to be a tour guide for a group of twelve. Well, that shot my workday to hell BUT it was worth it. If these happy individuals are a sampling of life in the Netherlands, it must be a wonderful place to be. Generous smiles and laughter, firm handshakes, good eye contact, and good command of the English language. The very first thing I noticed about them, as they left their bus and entered the front doors of our building was that the men, particularly, had similar facial features...long, rectangular faces, large chins and foreheads, deep-set and close-set eyes, bushy eyebrows, and little round noses. The women only had long pointy noses in common. Just an observation from me - doesn't mean anything, really. I'm quirky that way.

The only productive thing I did this weekend was read
Julie's book. I had to fight with myself to put the darn book down and get to bed at 1am on Sunday morning. It is that good.

Here are some photos worth sharing that I took this weekend and I certainly hope the first photo doesn't scare the bejesus out of ya:

Chloe...jeezzzzz. Have you ever seen a mouth as wide????? I'm trying to think of some object to compare it to, but in my rush, I can't think...maybe a plunger?
Mr. Biggins visited while Gina was out with Michael. I think he was missing "HIS MAMA"!

Bella, pushing around Mr. Biggins (real name, Austin). That poor guy doesn't stand a chance with these women bossing him all over the place. See Chloe's rump at the bottom of the picture? Yep, digging again.

Cold nights, koi and goldfish snoozing three feet under. Strange how they sleep lined up and facing in the same direction.

I Love Little Lizards! His name is DINO.

Picture of the weekend:

Bella and Daddy. For her, there is no better place to be.

I'll be back if Blogger allows. I'm still fuming.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Welcome to My World...away from home

I apologize for anyone who might read this. It's too damned long! Why? I was in a photo frenzy today as you will see. Also, I apologize for poor grammar and spelling as it's getting too late in the evening for me to spend time checking. My spell check tool isn't working. So here goes.

This would have been a great thing to do during the past decades! Blog! Today, I'd be able to take a walk down memory lane and revisit my old places of employment and other wonderful things that I enjoyed, and perhaps some dear friends and acquaintences! The images of the people and physical buildings are etched in my memory but there's nothing like digital photography and a little narrative to go with it.

As a child, I was a mimic and keenly interpreted others' idiocyncracies and personal habits, i.e. their voice inflections, the way they walked, and the way they used their hands. My family wanted to boot me out of the house sometimes with a slap on the head but it didn't stop me. I notice everything and remember events, every day routines, out of control laughter with co-workers including subject matter verbatim, pulling pranks on the office curmudgeons, and whatever else made me squeal. There have been times when my sense of humor caused eyebrows to raise, though, which made the situation even more hilarious to me - like laughing in Church! Sadly, some of the people I lived and laughed with for many years have left this earth. Some have moved far away, and many of them are still sitting in the same place, where I used to be.

Today, I didn't take photos of the people I've been working with for the last six months, but it's on my agenda! I just want to exhibit the ambience at this community college. This atmosphere is far different than I have ever experienced and probably is for most other people, too.

Here's the first thing I see while pulling into the parking lot early in the morning. Today it was very dark and misting rain lightly so the photo isn't very clear.

These are police cadet recruits on their backs in the parking lot (see their light reflective vests). They're exercising while the Sergeants are shouting orders and they shout back "Sir, yes Sir!" This is after a 3 mile run. Some of them are being reprimanded. If I were one of those being reprimanded, I'd run away sniffling and sobbing to my car. There are two very young, small women in this group doing a great job and I have never heard of any of the ladies quitting. That says something for the little ladies, doesn't it? Some of the men cry (breaks my heart) during this grueling seventeen weeks and drop out. Whatever they choose to do, I give them credit because they are building strength in character, learning survival techniques, and law enforcement perishable skills that they will continually revise, year after year.

Recently, I described my workplace as "white and colorless". This is the view from the entry of the doorway I use. It's one of the entries to the criminal justice building where resides the American Academy of Applied Forensics, and where training takes place for all first responders. It's sterile looking, institutional, and I've seen hospitals look cozy in comparison.

Not a colorful place - coziness not welcome!

These BOBS are human-like dummies that are used for martial arts and self defense training by flight crew members, Department of Corrections personnel, or any agency in need of this sort of training. I've seen some of the action, and let me emphasize, those Department of Correction people scare the living daylights out of me!

See the blood spatters? (Shivers!) This is one of rooms in the crime scene annex used by the American Academy of Applied Forensics, nationally acclaimed. Mock crimes are committed here. Once in a while I play a part in them when investigators and law enforcement officers are being trained in interrogation techniques.

A dummy with a gunshot wound. This another crime scene room in the annex. How lovely!

Here's the courtroom where I've participated in mock trials, once as "Nurse Rosemary" in a baby-snatching at "Spiceville General Hospital". This mock trial was to benefit the Carolinas Healthcare System.

Cadet at attention outside of my office and waiting for Sgt. Moore to call on him. Blurry photo and I don't know why.

This is a demonstration of policing for drug paraphernalia in a vehicle. See the large bald man in line with the tree? That's Sgt. Moore, exactly 7 foot tall. His office is directly across the hall from mine and I am certain he'll flatten me out one day, as I'm not even in his field of vision. I'm only 5-2" and that's stretching it!

Finally, an angle of my windowless office, not neatly arranged today, but hey! Who cares? It's where I let my umbrella dry and display my favorite things and silly photos. Not similar to anything else in this building and I'm proud!

It's a wrap!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dreary? Yes.

Weather. You just gotta accept it, but it has a mood altering affect on me.

Dark and wet on the way to work. All day pouring, non-stop. No wind. Always pouring, sometimes gentle, then gearing to hard downpours, crashing on the metal roof of the college so loudly that you needed to shout above it. All...day...long.

Arrived home and stopped at the end of the driveway to pick up the mail while rivers of rain drained from the hill I live on and rush down the street. Rushing fast, inches of water. The mesh tops of my sneakers I wore for protection allowed water to fill them and saturate my feet. So I slosh into the house.

Chilly inside...dogs awaken from the warm nests they made on my bed and are not eager to relieve themselves outside. Can't blame them much.

Chloe makes her way to the door, runs outside, eyes squinting, squats quickly. Good girl.

Bella took two steps onto the deck and made a U-turn.
Slid past me. Still sloshing in my shoes, I followed her. And she is escaping...trying to find a hiding place, jumping like a chimp in a cage from sofa to chair and back, over and over again, until I catch her and lift her meaty body into my arms, not knowing her stress caused a stream of pee to leak from one side of the sofa to the other, onto the same blanket I washed the night before, after an upchuck session she had. I almost laughed.

I carry her outside and stand in the pouring rain until she relieves herself, thinking, "My God! She's not a teacup Chihauha, for goodness sakes!" I am drenched. But she was good and I'm grateful. I still look like I fell into a lake. Sigh...

Back inside, I'm shivering. Started the oven for the pork roast dinner. Flipped on the fireplace. Flipped on some lights inside this dim house and changed into some cozy sweats. Lit a Yankee candle.

Donned a raincoat and filled the bird feeder while the doves watched me and fed the Koi.

Dinner was good and now may day is nearly done.

Played ball with Chloe and Bella inside the house several times until they crashed. And oh, washed the blanket again.

In his chair, Michael is snoring (at 8:26) with the remote control in his hand...tuned in to the History Channel.

This is all I can muster today. I think I'll pull the bed down now.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mr. Biggins is Back!

Before I continue with this post, I need to get something off my chest.

I don't know if I can keep this up. What I feared is happening since the beginning of journal keeping and reality is hitting me like a baseball bat tonight. I sit here with my fingers ready to pound the keyboard away, and they just wiggle above it, waiting for some sort of divine intervention to guide the way. The sad truth is my life is filled with humdrum, humdrum and more humdrum and I hope I spelled humdrum correctly. Me: a working stiff in a boring and tiring routine. For instance, my day started at 3:30 this morning when I could feel a dog heaving twelve inches from my head. Bella hurled on fresh sheets. Went to my run of the mill job in a building that is white and colorless. Came home from work to find more vomit on the sofa, luckily covered by a blanket that grabs dog hair. Did poop patrol out back, fed the fish, fed the dogs, fed the beta, fed Michael and me, washed bed linens and blankets, and cleaned two toilets. Can it get any better than that? No wow factor here, that's for sure.

I am at a time in my life where the chapters are ending too quickly for me and there are times I feel I can't keep up with it all. During the past several years, health problems plagued my parents. Mom died 5 months ago and my Dad is on his way to be with her. In 2000, Gina left us in Maryland to attend college in Wilmington, NC. That was a long chapter that ended...a life-changing and sometimes difficult time when you are suddenly an empty nester and no longer referred to as "Gina's Mom" and swim team organizer, and your "too busy schedule" comes to a halt. Two years later, Michael's job took us to Delaware and I left long-time friends and neighbors in Maryland, started a new life, new job, and made new friends. Three years after that, a repeat in North Carolina. Military families do it all the time, so why am I complaining? No, I'm not complaining. I'm venting on a day I am stuck without a fresh idea because I don't know who in the hell I am anymore. So I guess I'll just shut up about it take comfort in knowing that life changing experiences build a well-rounded character, and get on with this simple post.

Yes, Austin, otherwise known as "MR. BIGGINS" is BACK! He is our granddog... Gina's lovable pup. Gina, Billy, and Austin lived with us for a little over two months this summer while they moved from Wilmington to Charlotte and settled in and established themselves. They moved to their own place in August and I see Austin on weekends, but, for the last three or four weeks, he's been prohibited from visiting his Gramma because we needed to cover the weeds and mud in the back yard with new grass. Why wasn't he allowed to visit? "Mr. Biggins" is a 65 pound boxer-mix puppy who just celebrated his 1st birthday last week. Now that the grass is grown and the mud factor won't put Gramma over the edge, he's welcome here again. And on Saturday, he arrived, happier than he could stand, to see us and his cuz's, Bella and Chloe.

This photo is a blur because his short visit here was indeed a blur! Bella is his main squeeze and she rules him completely and can roll him into total submission.

That boxer underbite...is this a face only a mother could love? Nope, Gramma loves this lap dog.

Austin...so regal, so handsome, so loving and sweet. Part of the family.

I never saw lizards until I came to North Carolina. We have oodles of them scurrying around on the west side of our house where the sun bakes the landscaping retainer wall. Yesterday, I decided to take a few minutes and get closer...

This is one of the larger ones. I'd love to catch one, observe him for a while, and return him to his hot rock.

So, I guess I would have ignored this little reptile if it weren't for the camera I carry in my pocket since I started this journal. Note to self: need more clothing with pockets.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Halloween Prep & Pumpkins

Halloween has never been on the top of my list of traditional holiday events, but I enjoy decorating pumpkins. For the past decade, I've painted pumpkins with cariacature images of our pets on them, just for the experience and to have a good laugh, and to hone in on my limited art ability. I don't do it every year since painting a pumpkin, for me, is something I do when the mood is right. But being a complete, nutso, blog driven maniac now, the mood struck after dinner. I wisked away those darn dishes and went outside and brought two large pumpkins inside the house before the cold set in. Knowing the daylight hours are burning fast lately, I sat down, drew a pencil sketch, and looked for my paints. I found them! What a surprise...

I took photos of these before the paint was dry and tomorrow, I'll do some touch-ups and use a finishing spray. If you know Chloe and Bella at all, you will know who these pumpkins resemble right away!

Chloe. Adjectives: wicked, cunning, evil, witchy, nasty, gremlin, devious, ewok. Not nice, huh? But Chloe is the reason we have another Boston Terrier. Chloe IS sweet and has never met another person or dog she didn't like. With those bulbous, googly eyes, she certainly looks like trouble but she's a good friend... Except to veterinarians, but that's another show.

Bella. Without googly Boston Terrier eyes, her face has a look of complete sweetness. No agendas are being composed in her little brain! That's why I thought of her as an angel with wings. Mischevious at times, but predictable for the most part. Noteworthy: Bella has very audible and frequent flatulence - a skill to be proud of!

Above: Shorty (on the right) and Stinky (on the left).

This was taken in 2003, a month before Bella joined us. Chloe has had encounters with spiders that put her under for a few days with a swollen face to the point of eyes sealed shut and hives. I still keep Benedryl on hand for her.

Today, enjoying a sunny spot outside on a cool day and sporting their "Charlie Brown" Halloween Neckerchiefs.

I was going to talk about our lizards but I need to postpone that for another day. It's been a hectic weekend and tonight I need to get at least 8 hours of snooze. I'm getting dim & sleepy now and it's time to wrap it up. Energetic posts will follow, I HOPE!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend - Boston Style

Due to the fact that Saturdays usually force me to make lists, run errands, and clean the house, there's not much to elaborate on today. Everyone already knows that stripping beds, scrubbing toilets, and cleaning spots off the carpet are what they are: something you do mechanically and care not to think about. It's like writing a check for the mortgage, insurance, or automobile. You grin and bear it because it NEVER GOES AWAY.

Michael is on the golf course here with Joe and John today and this morning at 9am I wish I had my camera with me. Not for my picture to be taken, of course, as I was still sporting hair cowlicks, right out of bed, but those silly men were causing me to HEE HAW before I was ready, being the morning grouch I can be. Tonight is the big 500 race in Concord, too. I'm not going (sorry, Jane). At least 280,000 NASCAR fans are clogging the interstates and surrounding areas and roads, over-filling the hotels, malls, and restaurants. I thought Dover, DE races were bad enough, but this is something I'd rather see on TV than to be pressed against cars and crowds of "NASCAR fans...". I'm going to read Julie's book, instead.

Charlotte weather announced a record low of 33 last night! This morning I watched poor Bella and Chloe, unbeknownst to them that the steps off the deck were iced over, perform ice capades down those steps and I'm glad they didn't get hurt. Steam rose off the pond and a white frost covered areas all around, on rooftops and flower beds. I can almost see the steam in this picture:

News Flash! Bella and Chloe have new collars. Collars they deserve! Being the shiny and sparkly lover of things I am, I couldn't resist rhinestones, although I lied and told Chloe and Bella they deserve a brand new diamond collar!

Oh, Bella. Ain't she sweet?

Chloe can't keep her nose out of anything, even hornets' nests.

Is Bella TOO FAT? Are her nails too long? Yes, she's due for a manicure. She's a very thick female brutette with no-neck and no-waistline, for sure. But I see a roll of fat... Pictures don't lie. What am I to do? One thin Boston and one thick Boston in the same house poses a real challenge for me. Bella exercises all day long - twice as much as Chloe - but I need to wash her back end because she can't reach it. Ahem.

The water clarity in the pond hasn't been this clear since last winter and it happened overnight. I'll still add clay once a week, anyway, and continue with the live bacteria. The cooler temps are inhibiting the floating algae growth now. A bloom of string algae that happened two months ago choked and killed most of the plants, so now I need to find plants that will withstand below freezing nights, other than the little parrot feather I have left. The herons haven't visited us yet, but I want to provide somewhere for these beautiful fish to hide...I don't want to lose them because in their few months living here, they know and trust me! I have named fish in the past... Here? Not yet.

Last note:

"Bostons behind bars." "Gotcha!"

Now I'm off to dust. Drats!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ahhhh....Friday at Last!

Friday is the day of the week when my internal engine kicks into a lower gear at every hour. It's been a busy week at work and I'm glad it's over. The highlight for me today was standing in the doorway of the "Flight Crew Member Self Defense Training" and seeing two small female flight attendants kick butt. Watching our Security personnel screech and run from a small garden snake in the hall was real amusing!

On my lunch hour today, I took some time to browse Blogger profiles for interests in, (1) Boston Terriers, and (2) Ponds. It was quite enlightening and caused me to worry a bit. My imagination went wild, especially in the Boston Terrier category. But first, this is what I noted in the Pond category (which was a heck of a lot more tame than Boston Terrier profiles):

Some people interested in Ponds were also interested in...

  • Homos.
  • My reverse snort and those who revel in it. (who cares?)
  • Beer, bugs.

Not too bad, considering what I found out about some people interested in Boston Terriers that are also interested in...(my comments in parenthesis)

  • Wardriving (what the heck is THAT?), slackware. (same question)
  • Ukuleles, maxing out credit cards, capsule toys. (oh, boy)
  • Be-otches.
  • Toe Nail Polish.
  • Uromastyx. (?)
  • Cussing like a sailor. (no, thanks)
  • Atheism.
  • Boneless cats. (Please, stop it!)
  • Vibrating punk music, the art of lying.
  • Belly button lint, running up the down escalator.
  • Deviant sexuality, robots, corporate sabotage, afrofuturists. (?)

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN???????????! This can not be a reflection on me, my friends with Bostons, or my fate. I vow NEVER to browse another profile again. That was enough.

Received a note from a friend in Maryland who loved a photo of my Koi she saw on one o my posts. "Listen, I went home last night, did my initial sketch, and plan to exhibit the painting in July of 2007 at the Chesapeake City Town Hall and Gallery. I was notified a couple of weeks ago that my proposal for my solo exhibit “Aquarella” had been accepted and last week I signed the contract so it's a done deal. I must have 30 paintings completed by July! The exhibit will highlight all water media paintings. I AM INSANE! However, I love a challenge." I am honored!

We had dinner at the clubhouse tonight with Michael's friend from Baltimore and on the way there, I snapped the first hole. It's great to live on a golf course, although we don't have a view of it. It's beautiful.

Sun setting at 6:30 p.m. It's going to be cold tonight and might dip to 33. That's just a premonition of winter, shorter days, and I'm not happy about it.

Gee, I'm feeling like a complete dimwit right now, so I'm signing off!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

This, That, Whatever

Running out of time this evening to produce a thoughtful blog. I just gotta spit it out! Michael's old friend and business associate from Parkton, MD is flying into Charlotte from BWI tomorrow morning for a fun-filled weekend of golf and NASCAR. Yay! for the golf, ICKKK for NASCAR. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. This weekend plan prompts my tired body to be certain the guest bedroom and bathroom are in pristine condition. As for the rest of the house? Who cares? Men don't care if there's a thick layer of dust on the window blinds - he won't notice...but, I do.

Trying to be focused and thoughtful toward a decent post today, I took my charged camera to work, not even knowing what I'd photograph... I realized too late that the college is on fall break. Too bad. It would have been great to photograph the police cadets in formation. I would have photographed the younger students in their spiffy attire. Joking about "spiffy", because it's downright degrading. I'm talking about the pitiful "pants below the crotch tied tightly by a belt" that tempts me to race up behind one of those cool guys and yank their pants down and run! And the scantly clad little ladies wearing spaghetti straps that show their "poor excuse for art" tatooes and the low-rise jeans that expose their navels. Many of these chicks are too fleshy for that and should be wearing a tunic. Examining their wardrobes makes me wonder if they are all orphans! Where are the parents who are supposed to be preparing them to look like responsible adults instead of "just-rolled-out-of-bed slobs"? And what in the world is wrong with the colleges that are afraid of DRESS CODES? I am truly grateful that my daughter, Gina, who is 24 now, always knew how to dress respectfully and appropriately, in good style. Ok, I'm off my soapbox for now.

Before I left for work at 6:50 a.m., I turned and looked back at Chloe and Bella. They hop into our bed while I'm showering and getting ready to leave. One was snoring louder than my father with sleep apnea, and one had one eye open on me as I said, "See you later, girls." It's a dog's life.

I never eat breakfast before I leave for work and today I was so hungry that I was near nausia... Lately, I've been falling off the healthy wagon and caving in to the powerful cravings of salt and sugar. This is bothering me. After losing ten or fifteen pounds since 05, I don't want to deviate from my eating habits that have worked so well. So, in my office, I opened my top right-hand drawer of my desk.

In there, I see an apple that's not a McIntosh (my favorite). It's a hard apple, to boot. And instant oatmeal that I love to eat. Hmmm..... The vending machines have cookies.....!

At 8:30 a.m., I made the oatmeal and ate it. The hard, tasteless apple polished my teeth, at least.

At 9:45 a.m., this is where I found myself:

Ahhhh....Those Cheetos looked good. And UTZ chips, too! Salted Planter's Peanuts! But the freaking machine wouldn't take my quarters! Poop! Forget it...that's enough. I'm not buying. I bought bottled water from another machine instead.

I'm fighting the junk food habit and I want to win.

This evening is cool and feeling wonderful after storms that rolled through last night. I captured some nature during sunset.

End of the day. Calm.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Special People

Sometimes I wonder how I can ride the roller coaster of life for so long with my hands over my ears. Yeah, I'm a stubborn broad most of the time and don't listen well. For many years, friends have been telling me, "Mary, you write the funniest things. You really should save your stuff and publish a book one day." Writing a book isn't what I anticipate, at all. No desire there. One of my greatest pleasures in life, however, is sitting at the keyboard and spitting out whatever I'm thinking about or whatever moves me at that moment. And if what I say makes someone smile or moves them, that's a bonus.

Now I am keeping a journal on-line, for myself. To myself, I promise to keep it as frequently as I can.

To my old neighborhood friends, Jan and Allison, and to all of my long-time friends at John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland and my dear friends at the Delaware Department of Education in Dover, Delaware, thank you for your sweet words of encouragement over the years. You may not even remember them, but I do.

I want to especially thank three people who I admire and appreciate. A small part of my brain must have thawed two or three weeks ago when two of these dear women urged me to start a blog. Jane Streett is a fabulous lady (zany writer, too) who breeds Boston Terriers and presented our family with Bella. Julie Zickefoose is a fellow Boston Terrier lover and an incredibly talented artist, writer, and lover of nature. Check out Julie's new book! It's breathtaking and brilliant. Liz Howshall is a dog lover, artist, and friend, who is now embarking on a very exciting chapter of her art career. She inspires my "artsy" side.

The Angels took my Mother on May 25, 2006. She was an avid reader and a writer of childrens' books. Never published one, but she sure had the passion. I can still hear her voice, "No matter what, take a minute and jot it down, Mary." I rarely shared anything I had written with her because I was too lazy to print it out and put a postage stamp on it and I regret that with a heavy, heavy heart. So here's to ya, Mom! This one's for you. I love you and miss you.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Calm After Work

It will be a delicious weeknight! Michael left for Charleston this morning and won't return until Wednesday at dinnertime. Not that I want him out of the house. That's not the case at all. But instead of the usual evening being filled with clacking in the kitchen and my scurrying around to beat the clock, I can relax a little. Eat a slab of cheese and yogurt for dinner. Wahooo! Pour a glass of wine or two, depending on my energy level. Run the vac at 9pm if I have it in me. Ahhhh, life is good in the evenings without deadlines, and to be cherished, since there are too few of them for those who, like me, spend nine hours a day away from home.

I work at a very large community college in the Charlotte area and support public safety training. This arena is filled with military and law enforcement instructors, recruits and police cadets. We provide in-service training for correction officers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, EMT, flight crews - all first responders. I commend them all for their bravery and commitment; however, this is not a touchy-feely nor artsy group of people. So, when I arrive home from work I am ready for shoulder rubs and warm fuzzies in the form of some of my favorite things.

Lovely Bella..."When are you going to throw a ball? Now? Please, now?"

Bella lives for the moment. Not the brightest tool in the shed but knows when she wants action. A short and portly, gassy dog but we don't mind. A three-year old sweetheart. And if I knew how to post a link to Jane, I would. I'll learn how to do this, Jane! This is my second post and I need to educate myself!

"Throw that Ball! I"m ready!"

That's Chloe in the background, THE DIGGER. I am wondering if she has a mineral deficiency since she devours red clay like it's a delicacy.

Chloe: "Just turn around, Mom. I have some things to do."

Chloe is a whip. Constantly testing my IQ vs. hers. I wouldn't have it any other way, though. The digger extraordinaire, especially in her early years. She dug holes large enough to lay in them while I ran around the yard (my neighbors hooted), sprinkling tabasco sauce in her holes. Of course, it didn't work! I love her deeply and appreciate her tenacious spirit at the age of 10!

The pond. Tranquility. Serenity. This time of year, no screaming frogs - only the sound of the waterfall. There's nothing more soothing than this. My hummingbirds have fled, I think. They hung out near the pond for the past few months. I miss watching them.

Hungry Koi and goldfish offspring. They're not mixing with a million tadpoles anymore. The season is cooling and the pond will become still soon. But, for now, the sun is still shining, giving them strength, and they are growing beautifully. Gotta beware of those Great Blue Herons!!!!

All of this is my therapy. I would have loved to expound a little more tonight, but Blogger didn't help. I lost 3/4 of an entire post an hour ago and this process is a slow one. Maybe it's me or maybe it's my computer wherein lies the problem. But I had fun trying working this one out and life is good tonight. Will I push the vacuum at 8:15? Let me think about it.