Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year Reflection

A dreary, wet ending to 2006. As I sit here, I am remembering some events during the past year and wondering if it was a good one or not. A chronological chain of memories are forming like the droplets on this tree. I've never regarded New Year's Eve or New Year's Day as anything special, actually. In the passage of time, there is no end, like the beat of your heart or the ticking of the clock. Yet, we mark the ending and start of the "Year" as a focal point in remembering years past. How else would we cherish "1988" as being a great year or "2005" being a year we would love to forget? We regard New Year's Day as a time for a new beginning. Our personal resolutions are made that are rarely kept, but at least New Year's Day reminds us to examine our lifestyle and goals.

I'm not ready to list my resolutions yet. Generally, though, I look forward to a year of good health, abundant laughter and smiles, and being able to hug and hold those I love dearly.

My wish for you is the same. May we all continue to strive for:

Harmony and peace in our lives,

Reducing our stress, and,

Spending time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.


God Bless You.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

My New Camera Rocks

Nala is sitting pretty at the animal hospital. She's well. No vomiting. They are feeding her as much as she will eat and waiting for her to pass her bowels. We have fingers crossed. For background info, see yesterday's post, "Geese, Cats & Kids".

It's been a strange day. The clouds moved in and cast a gray hue all around, as we are due for heavy rain for the next two days. Saddam Hussein was executed and former President Gerald Ford's burial services are being held in Washington, D.C. as I write this.

The above photo is today's mystery bird. I thought, at first, it was a Junco (pictured below) but it's beak is dark and longer and there is a white patch on its wing. For help, I ordered my Stokes Field Guide today and should have it within a few days. To the feeder, I added a lot of sunflower, nuts, and fruits to the mix today but I didn't make it to Wild Birds Unlimited. Darn. I want a suet feeder and a few others but it'll take me some time to decide where I'll place the new ones.

Being able to see my backyard birds' faces for the first time EVER is so exciting, even in low light. My camera is blowing me away with so many features. Still learning, though.

The three dogs are getting along beautifully. Yes, Bella is very stingy when Mr. Biggins wants her to share the hula-hoop. They are quite a pair. This shot would have been a complete blur with my other camera. I used my "sports/action" mode for this one.

Chloe joins in the wild play action now and then, but is really intent on staring at me as if to say, "Enough is enough already? Will you please calm them down?"

Mr. Biggins has a worried look on his face most of the time because I think he is always wanting to please. His appearance can be formidable to a stranger and his bark is frightening. Watch dog? Oh, yes. Guard dog? Not sure about that. A gentle giant. Huggable. Sure loves his Gramma.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Geese, Cats, & Kids

There is another new pond in my community and, lo and behold, this is the first time I've seen a flock of Canadian Geese in it - probably thirty of them! After my leisurely lunch yesterday with a friend and my husband, I stopped to visit the geese. Since the ground is soft and saturated, I had to stand at the top of the hill and not get close, relying on my new zoom! I nearly lost a shoe in the mud trying to get to their level. Without having a bag of bread with me, I thought I'd play it safe, as I've been attacked by them before (the spoiled ones).

Taking in the beauty of the day, I stood there for quite some time and relaxed.

It was a good day.

Later in the evening, Gina brought Mr. Biggins to us for his "vacation with Gramma", as she and Billy were catching an early morning flight to Austin, TX for a five-day visit with his step-sister and family. Later in the evening, she called me and I heard a frantic cry, "Mom, I'm taking Nala (her cat) to the emergency vet. She swallowed a sewing needle!" Being a mother, the first words from my mouth were, "How did she get a sewing needle?" The question I asked wasn't necessary, but I couldn't help it.

Some other conversations I've had with her come to my mind as I compose this post. Two years ago, when she lived in Wilmington, NC, without enough money to feed herself and still on our payroll, she bought a cat and a dog. Her decisions were not the least bit popular with me and I reminded her that pet ownership is quite expensive and things happen to drain your bank account real fast. But NO, she wouldn't listen and now I have an opportunity to say, "I told you so!" But I won't. Last night she admitted to being careless with the cat and cried. I didn't say a word. After x-rays at the emergency vet, Nala returned to Gina's apartment last night and it was planned that I would pick her up and take her to the regular vet in the morning.

Events since last night follow.

I slept in a full-size bed in the back bedroom with Mr. Biggins. He stole the covers. We won't allow three dogs in our bedroom at night and Mr. Biggins is so spoiled, he needs to be in a bedroom at night - with a person.

At 9:30 this morning, I arrived at Gina's apartment and found Nala, her emergency vet report, and an x-ray. By that time, Gina was in Dallas/Ft. Worth, still sniffling over Nala.

Nala refused to go into the cat carrier. She fought me. Hard. Knowing I was losing the battle and also knowing she was getting sick of me, I knew I needed to be creative. She hid from me. An hour passed.

For a while, I thought I'd leave and try again tomorrow...but...what if she became seriously ill? I couldn't just leave her! Since the cat carrier was a no go, I looked around and found a rubbermaid drawer in the dining room loaded with dog toys. I dumped them, closed all doors and barricaded the sofa so she couldn't slip under it. She was cornered. I shoved her into that drawer so fast she didn't know what happened and after ninety minutes of games, we were on our way.

Nala was quiet on my passenger seat and I kept the drawer pulled open enough for her to get air. I guess the 30 minute ride was too long for her, as she peed, vomited, and pooped. Windows went down.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the vet's office, she squeezed her way out of the drawer. Slamming the brakes and rolling up the windows simultaneously, I panicked. But she just stood on top of the drawer, smeared in vomit and poop, looking at me as if to say, "Where am I and how did I get here?" She came to me and I held her gently.

I was irritated with the whole scenario since the night before. This whole darn deal did not set well with me as I reeked of foul odors and was longing to spend my day off in other ways. Selfish? Yes, a little.

In the examining room, I hugged her sweetly. We waited for Dr. Mark for quite a while as he was euthanizing a dog...sad. Nala was calm and cool as a cucumber, sitting on my lap, and I realized how tiny her head is. I called her a pea brain. Her big, marble green eyes peered into mine and we touched noses as she purred and nuzzled into my neck. With a teary eye, I told her that I hoped she had intestines made of steel and I would be back to bring her home soon.

I worked hard around the house this afternoon and I am spent. I did, however, find a few minutes to look closely at this little sparrow.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bird Quiz

My time off from work has flown by. I am shocked to realize I've been off for over a week. It's been a wonderful time and I feel quite rested even though I'm suffering from a cold, still. Today I'm driving up to Mooresville to have lunch with Jean. She's an American Idol buddy of mine and also a secretary at Michael's office. I think we'll allow Michael to bring a friend for lunch, too, especially if he agrees to pick up the tab! Jean saw "Dreamgirls" the other day and has much to tell me about it.

Yesterday I ventured to the mall to return a few things for Michael. It wasn't as crowded as I expected and I was able to leisurely browse around. After seeing Christmas displays in the stores for over a month, they are very quickly disappearing, only two days after Christmas. Spring fashions are at the forefront now.

In the afternoon, I took some time to play with my new camera.

These cardinals and juncoes were waiting for me to put those pesky dogs inside the house!

I couldn't resist this one. I'm having trouble centering my subjects with full optical and digital zoom working.

I haven't taken enough time to look this one up, but my first guess is a Song Sparrow or could it be a Carolina Wren?

It's not a good photo but might this be a Purple Finch? Will somebody please help me? I know, I know. I'll spend more time studying.

This last photo was taken just before sunset and I had trouble letting light in. I like it anyway.

There are so many different birds out there and it's very frustrating to see one fly by your face and perch ten feet away from you, especially when your camera is parked on the kitchen counter.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Horror at the Beauty Shop

There was talk about "coloring your hair" on Susan's blog today. Now and then, whenever I hear talk of hair coloring, salons, or perms, I am haunted by an experience I had when I was young. I was probably around 24 or so and had shoulder-length platinum blonde hair that I colored myself. It was double processed. When your natural hair color is pretty much non-descript, this is what you do. Blonde is much better than a hair color that isn't blonde, brown, black, or red. Maybe mine is called dark ash blonde, I don't know... I spent loads of time on my hair and rolled it every night for fullness and curls. Believe it or not, I got tired of guys hitting on me (HA!). After all, I was married and didn't need the aggravation! My friend, Nancy, said, "Mary, it's the HAIR!" So I darkened it to a light brown. I got tired of the constant touch-ups, too.

I called a little beauty shop not far from home because I wanted a "body wave". Not knowing much, I asked the lady if I could have one, since my hair was very bleached underneath the brown shade. "Oh, yes", she said, "No problem." So I made the appointment and couldn't wait to get there. I arrived with bells on and again asked my beautician, "You know, I am very bleached blonde under this. Do you think it'll be OK?" She assured me everything would be fine.

So out came the perm. It was a Zoto perm and she rolled my hair in record pace. I thought, "Wow. I'm going to aerobics tonight with fluffy hair!" You know, "fluffy" was the rage back then. Meanwhile, the girls in the shop were watching a soap opera on TV in the back room. Ding! I was ready. With my head bent back over the sink, she removed the rods. Before I knew it, two other beauticians were watching. I didn't know anything was wrong. I was happy! Then I heard talk of some sort of "oil pack". What I didn't hear them say was, "Mary, we have a little problem. Your hair is falling off and disappearing down the drain." Actually, hearing the truth at that point might have started a real scene. To this day, I am amazed at their composure.

Still feeling "I-can't-wait-to-see-my-hair" happy, I thought it was a bit strange that she rolled my hair in curlers and put me under the dryer. My heart started to pound and my hands started to sweat. I watched and heard people all around the shop but didn't really see or hear them. Something was wrong. She should have used a diffuser on my hair or something. Plus, she never took me to a mirror! Timidly, I put my hand up under the dryer and felt a curler with crunchy hair surrounding it. I lifted that damned dryer, got up, grabbed my handbag, and started swinging. No, I didn't do that! I wasn't thinking clearly enough to beat the crap out of anybody. The rage and horrible fear rising inside me made me want to flee, and fast! With my hair still in curlers, I told the receptionist I was late for an appointment. Stupidly, I wrote a check for $45.00 (no tip) and turned around to leave, hearing the buck-teeth receptionist say, "We'll need you to bring the curlers back." Kindly, I said, "Oh, I will." What I should have said was, "Screw you and your freaking rollers, bitch."

Driving home in fifth gear on a two-lane road, I was breathing heavily and the fear turned into a full panic. I made it to my bathroom mirror within minutes. My face was white, my lips were white, and my eyes were bulging. Hands trembling, I unclipped one curler on my crown. It was stuck to my hair and with just a little tug, I looked at the curler laying in my hand, still wrapped by my hair. My hair was spongy and sticky, breaking off an inch from my scalp and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. After I removed another 6 or 7 rollers, hair attached, I quit. Chest heaving, yelling in an empty house, no crying. I was too shocked and angry to cry. Cursing like a mean sailor, I wrapped my hair in a large bandana so as not to see the hideous mess of curlers hanging down around my face.

Michael arrived home from work and stood motionless, blinking only once or twice, trying to understand what happened to his cute little wife. For the very first time in his life, he was speechless.

Off I went to aerobics class that evening, hair in a bandana. My friend, Burnell, made me feel better and gave me the name of a good stylist near her house. I called the guy that night and he saw me the next morning. After more than five hours in his chair, I fell in love with him. (Gee, I don't remember his name...) Within 24 hours, I went from having shoulder-length hair to a "pixie" cut, only one inch long, all over. The bonus: it had a very green tint to it. Why did I love this guy? During five hours of repeated conditioning and cutting, he assured me that my little face and big blue eyes needed a little "Mia Farrow" doo. Mmmm. So intimate.

The following day I went to work and wore a little sign that very briefly explained my boyish, green hair accident, in hopes of avoiding 150 questions. I sued those SOB's at the shop for $300 - a large sum of money back then and I deserved it. They never got their curlers back, either.

For many years, I avoided perms and had my hair professionally highlighted with lots of blonde, until two years ago. A very good stylist in Delaware talked me into going "all over blonde" and the results were terrible. Who likes shades of platinum, orange, peach, and yellow???? Now, I'm using a box myself.

After all,

A girl's gotta do

what a girl's gotta do.

Lessons Learned.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My Backyard Birds are Camera Shy

My goodness. It's almost 2:30 p.m. and I haven't done much more today than strip the bed and wash the linens.

Santa was kind to me this year. I got a new camera! Not as fancy as I wanted, but it is surely a step above what I had. I loaded the software this morning and I'm getting familiar with it as fast as I can. It will take weeks for me to know it, after all, I didn't learn how to use the digital zoom in addition to the 12x zoom for a half a day! Anyone who knows me, even a little, understands that I like outdoors and have been watching the birds around my pond for years. Now, I can quietly and very gently invade their privacy and capture the beauties!

Before finding the digital zoom, I ventured out there, a little nervous about it, too. Thinking, what if this camera sucks? Or, what if I suck at photographing them? I have a lot to learn, no doubt.

My first photo is of this lovely female northern Cardinal and if you look closely to the upper right, there is a little Chickadee! It was quite windy and chilly today and the birds weren't frolicking as usual. I felt lucky to see them here.

Later, I found the digital zoom. Here's some Mourning Dove action at the feeder. I was standing on my back deck, probably 15 yards away. Not bad.

This one is pissed off after that little confrontation. I don't think I remembered to use the digital zoom on this one. Doves make me laugh. They love to bathe on the waterfall and I like how they squeak with every flap of the wings.

I crept a little closer. Sneaking. Kept the dogs inside. Isn't he a handsome guy? I ran inside to look at my Bird Watching for Dummies, by Bill Thompson III and Editor of the Bird Watcher's Digest to be certain I labeled this bird as a guy.

A very shy female. I whispered, "Oh, come on. Turn around! I just want to see your pretty face." See the Chickadee - top right?

She gave in. Sweet.

I need to work on my getting closer techniques. Can't wait for a little nature walk. And you can bet your sweet bippy I'll be visiting the Wild Bird Marketplace this week.

Geez. I hope I passed my first ID test. If I am wrong, shout out! I can take it.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Hollofilled Christmas

Presents wrapped.

Placed under the tree with care.

Very Nice.


Christmas Eve.



Twenty-five squeaky balls and squeaky soft toys,



A four-person clean-up crew.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Favorite Scenes from a Favorite Christmas Movie

"A Christmas Carol"
by Charles Dickens, 1951, Black & White
Ebenezer Scrooge played by:
Alistair Sim
1900 - 1976

This is one of my favorite Christmas movies and I particularly like the ending. Here are a few of my very favorite scenes. I haven't seen it in a few years so I enjoyed researching it and seeing the photos!

Ebenezer (Christmas Eve): “I suppose you'll be wanting the whole day off tomorrow as usual.”
Bob Cratchit: “If quite convenient, sir.”
Ebenezer: “Every Christmas you say the same thing. And every Christmas it's just as inconvenient as the Christmas before. Good night.”

That night, on Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge was visited, in his dreams, by Jacob Marley and the Spirits of Christmases past, present, and future. He awoke on Christmas morning redeemed and happy to be alive.

Mrs. Dilber: “Are you all right, Mr. Scrooge?”
Ebenezer: [ecstatic] “I... I don't know. I don't know anything. I never did know anything.” [starts laughing] But now I KNOW that I don't know anything!”
Ebenezer: [Giggling] “No. Mrs. Dilber - I'm not mad. [He ruffles his hair so that it looks wild] Even if I look it!”

Ebenezer: [grumpily] “I don't deserve to be so happy. [starts laughing uncontrollably again] Ebenezer: “I can't help it!”

Ebenezer: [ecstatic having been given a second chance and dancing around] “I must... I must stand on my head! [frightened Mrs. Dilber runs away, down the staircase, screaming] I don't know what to do! I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. [opens his window wide and shouts] A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!'"

Ebenezer: [to himself in the mirror, laughing] “A merry Christmas, Ebenezer! You old HUMBUG! Oh, and a happy new year! As if you deserved it!”

Bob Cratchit arrived to work eighteen minutes late on Christmas morning.
Ebenezer: [to Bob Cratchit] “Well, my friend, I'm not going to beat around the bush. I'm simply not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. Which leaves me no choice, but to raise your salary. I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob. Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!” [starts laughing hysterically]

Ebenezer: [to Fred's wife] “Can you ever forgive a pig-headed old fool without eyes to see nor ears to hear all these years?”
Fred: “Why bless my soul. Who's that?”
Ebenezer: “It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred?”

Tiny Tim: God bless us, every one!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Sort of "Blue" Feeling...

Snowmen on ice skates! A nice thought. HA! I know, I should just stop complaining and shut up about our 73 degree, sunny weather and pray for the families in this country who are still digging out of relentless blizzards, who are living in airports, desperate to get home to their beloved families and friends. This morning I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and talked to myself out loud, “Mary, what is wrong with you? Cheer up! Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, for goodness sakes!” I’ve been feeling up and down during this Christmas season. Today, I'm feeling melancholy.

After that little conversation with myself, I rounded the corner and played my favorite Christmas CD, Platinum Christmas. It boasts beautiful songs from modern artists and if you haven’t heard Christina Aguilera belt out “Silent Night”, please do. It’s a real treat. Gina gave it to me a few years ago and I can’t find the case to name other artists who shine on this collection. While I vacuumed the house, cooked, and did some laundry, I wondered about what’s missing this Christmas. My thoughts centered around lost traditions.

Miss wearing coats and gloves and seeing your breath rise? Yes. Today we’re wearing t-shirts and wiping the sweat from our brow.

Is my chest cold wearing me down? Yes.

Miss waking at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, opening gifts, and scurrying off to visit about thirty family and friends? Oh, yes. For a few decades, we complained about the mad rush and wished to spend Christmas at home. Now we have it. Funny…how I long for years past.

Miss seeing Mom and Dad on Christmas Day? Yes, achingly so. Last year we didn’t travel to see them for the first time in our lives. Unbeknownst to us, it was their last Christmas together and one they enjoyed. Guilt. Regret. I haven’t talked with Mom since May and I miss her so... I missed selecting a new robe or nightgown for her this year and I miss my Dad enjoying Christmas magic and recognizing his children and grandchildren.

Miss the tradition in the Italian basement at 2pm? I do. Squeezing fourteen people around a two small tables for an Italian feast warranted three Advil, but those were the days. Michael’s parents are gone for several years and the kids have started their own traditions. We adjusted.

Now, we are far away from family and friends and have begun to create our own traditions and maintain some old ones. One of our old ones held true today as Michael and Gina shopped for my gifts. (Hope I get a new camera :o) Since Gina was a very young child, they ventured into the shopping crowds one or two days before Christmas and today was no different. And today I also kept a tradition of mine – to clean the house before the big day. Yahoo.

I call Michael the nit-picking, whining husband, because he is. The man will develop stomach ulcers over nothing, like a wrapping paper tube laying the middle of the back yard, or finding eggs past their expiration date in the frig. I get very annoyed and tired with his non-stop preoccupation with complete nonsense. One day, he will swing the refrigerator door open and there will be no milk. He’ll exclaim, “NO MILK!” and hit the floor. Twenty minutes later, the paramedics will be there… I want him to chill out but I don’t think it will happen. Italians are very excitable about anything that is insignificant. But he has a big heart and proved it once again today. Two weeks ago, Gina, who has been working hard and budgeting to establish herself well, paid a few hundred dollars to have her lap top computer cleaned up to rid a nasty virus. Last night, her monitor died. The nit-picking husband of mine treated her to a new lap top today. He is very generous when it counts and it made my heart warm.

Later in the day, the warm breezes beckoned me outdoors to listen to the birds sing, to feed the hungry Koi, and, yes, romp with my girls. I contemplated my “blue” day while outdoors and now I feel much better.

Lives change. Situations change. Traditions change.
But life goes on with a hoot and a holler, if you let it!


Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Simple Dog Day

It's all about the dogs today. Sometimes I wish I had the life of a dog. If my face could persuade and beg to achieve my ultimate satisfaction, I'd be a dog. Their pleasures are simple and pure. The benefit of living with them is that they can light up a room or your mood, just by being there. Whether they are snoring, panting, whining, begging, or farting, their presence is always noticed and welcome. I could do without the flatulence, though.

My cell phone rang at 6:18 this morning. Normally, my heart would nearly fail to hear the phone ring early in the morning, but I knew it was Gina telling me she was on her way over since I promised to offer doggie daycare to Mr. Biggins today. I didn’t have anything on my agenda except to get all of the gifts wrapped, get the mess I’d make cleaned up, and restore my dining room to its original order. Fifteen minutes after my wake-up call, Mr. Biggins bounded through the kitchen door, nearly taking down my large Christmas tree, and was ready for a cookie and some action. I, wearing my slippers, nightgown, coat, cock-eyed eyeglasses, and a head full of cowlicks, greeted him with slight enthusiasm. Gina went off to work.

The party never ends when you have three dogs under foot. There is no privacy, either. While I was showering, Mr. Biggins nosed his way into the bathroom and I found him staring at me, nosed pressed against the shower door. He's a Mama's boy. Most of the time, he has a furrowed brow and worries when he needs to be "with you". Then appeared the other two. Three’s a crowd!

At 10:10 a.m. I was wrapping gifts in the dining room and the power went out for an hour. Oh, great! It was cloudy and spitting rain outside, very quiet in the house, and the dogs know when things aren’t right. Suddenly feeling anxious and bored, they pawed me. I knew what they wanted. Either to watch Dr. Phil or Action! So outside we went.

"Please please please play with us!" My camera is very slow and can't capture any action, like Bella's constant head turning. Hmmmph.

They are whooping it up and sparring. Bella has great boxing ability. She springs up from her low position (above) and punches his face with both front feet. Soon, Mr. Biggins' tongue was hanging off the side of his mouth and Bella was showing off the largest, wettest, spoon tongue I’ve seen yet.

She's an insanely jealous and stingy female when it comes to sharing her toys and attention. Her beloved hula-hoop is her main obsession and I finally got fed up with her behavior and put it in the garage.

The sour puss. My poor Chloe doesn’t partake in the rough and tumble antics anymore. A few years ago, she would have been the ring leader. She did surprise me today, though, and chased Mr. Biggins and manhandled him a bit. He loves her and they sleep side by side. Instead of getting into the action, she’d rather stand still and watch, or dig holes. I yelled at her and you can see she’s wasn’t happy with me, either. Why? In less than two minutes, her face and legs were coated in red clay. For more on my relationship with this cunning girl, read here.

Cookie time! After I did poop patrol and filled the feeders, it was time to come back inside.

At 65 pounds, Mr. Biggins finds the coziest places to snooze (including your lap). A gentle, sweet soul. I love him. He's dreaming of those wild women who wear him out!

My gift wrapping is a WRAP! A good time was had by all.

A day in a dog's life.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I can't even count the number of times I have driven past this horse farm and thought to myself, "Awww. I need to stop by and visit those little guys." I've driven past it at least twice a day for fifteen months. But, no, Mary is always in a hurry, running around like a mad woman as if someone is chasing her, and afraid of losing minutes out of her day that might cause her to be off schedule. After all, dinner is at 6pm! Can't be late!

My community college closed their doors yesterday at 5pm and won't reopen until January 2nd. I walked through the door at home yesterday, dropped my stuff and let out a much needed sigh of relief. I started working full-time in this new State of ours last February and haven't taken a vacation, except for a day here and there for travel to Maryland to visit my parents, attend my Mom's funeral, and take care of business here around the house. This time off is a blessing. Last night, I stayed up two hours past my bedtime just because I could.

What will I do until January 2nd? I'll be very busy until Christmas Day arrives. I'm looking around at a layer of dust that needs to be tended to and hardwood that needs a good cleaning. It will get done. But I'm making a promise to myself to go for walks, watch movies on TV from start to finish, carry my camera more often, and chill out.

Blogging has been therapeutic for me. It reinforces my desire to slow down, stop, and do something to make my heart feel lighter. Julie's blog was the first one I ever read and her philosophy has taken hold of me. I'm also thankful for so many other great people I visit through blogging. From afar, they keep me calm and reflective.

This little fellow was particulary interested in me. What a soft muzzle. And if you look closely, you can see my blue jeans and yellow jacket reflection in his eye.

Now I'm off to wrap some sparkly gifts!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

An Evening to Remember

Yesterday. A December day at 75 degrees! Great for setting up our new computer that arrived in the afternoon. Around 6:15 p.m. Michael gulped down his dinner in record time and within a minute, I heard boxes being ripped open and a lot of action in the den. I am so different than he. It might take me longer to get the job done, but I'm more methodical and I also pay attention to details. Nothing would get lost or damaged and the installation instructions would be in plain view. Meanwhile, I hear, "Mare? Where's the keyboard?"

Here's a mental picture of Michael. He's very Italian and thick. Not fat. His round head sits on top of his shoulders, hiding his 20 inch neck. His hands look like baseball mitts and his fingers resemble Jimmy Dean pork sausages - ring size 15.5. All of his fingers are exactly the same size of each other and when he raises one finger, they all raise, which makes it very difficult for him to use more than one finger to type on the keyboard, let alone holding onto a screw or nail to save his life.

Within a few minutes, I walked into the mess he made. Boxes and packing materials covered the floor and black power cords strewn everywhere brought a snake pit to my mind. He had stuffed himself under the desk to unhook the old desk-top computer from the modem and emerged, walking back and forth, kicking boxes around, slipping and sliding on the user manual and other literature that I would have placed neatly on the desk, ready for use.

After misplacing a few more things (including the computer), he powered up the new lap top and found some installation disks. The installation prompts were in a size 3 font and neither of us could read the monitor without pressing our faces up to it, adjusting our eyeglasses, and cursing. Soon after, we got sick and tired of getting messages that contained the words, "unable to". After at least five tries, we got the remote keyboard and mouse to work. Then the big daddy message of all greeted us - the one that makes your hair rise on the back of your neck - the dreaded "unable to establish internet connection". Suddenly, I realized that Chloe's and Bella's stink bombs permeated the room and I had to get out of there. Since I was only the assistant, Michael called our internet provider and I poured a glass of wine.

Two hours later, he is stuffed under the desk again examining the connections. Our internet provider, Time Warner, blamed it all on Dell. After a 30-minute wait time on the phone, we finally made connection with a Dell technician who sounded exactly like William Hung (of American Idol fame). Really! I held the phone while William told me to tell Michael to disconnect the power. Michael was becoming very irritated by then, especially being stuffed under a desk in the darkness. I repeated to Michael, "He said disconnect all of the power sources." Michael yelled back, "I DID! SEE? THE LIGHTS ARE OUT!" Ok, I sometimes wonder how these techies deal with idiots like us. They are either on medication or enjoy laughing their asses off all the way home. In a fit of uncontrolled frustration, Michael shook the modem and all of the cords as if they were a hopelessly tangled mess of Christmas lights. I stood there watching in disbelief with my eyes wide. That was it. He disconnected the phone line and William was gone and I didn't even get to say goodbye.

An hour later, we had internet restored. Taking your time with connections and ports really helps save time and sweat but I don't think Michael will ever realize that. One more call to Time Warner Cable to help with our Outlook set up and we were finished. Nearly midnight to bed. Tonight I'll find out what other problems we might have.

Yesterday was worth a walk in the park. I left the office earlier than usual and stopped by one of the ponds on the way home and enjoyed the view in the warm sunshine.

The Koi did flips when they saw me and opened their mouths wide. They hadn't been fed for a few weeks since the nights are still quite chilly. Today, I treated them to some wheat germ pellets.

It was a great day that started to go awry at that very moment... After photographing the Koi, I walked into the front of the house and found Chloe standing in the foyer with the bright western sun illuminating her silky coat, and, a thick, nasty, chin-to-floor string of yellow bile saliva. It glistened in the sun but I didn't have it in me to power the camera. I had work to do.