Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm having fun with picture projects. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Around 9:00 this morning I got a computerized call from AT&T, checking to make sure I was satisfied with the service I've received in the contacts I've had this week with them. I made sure to let them know I didn't blame the agents, but that I was dissatisfied with the company.

After spending the morning at the gym and having lunch with Pam, I came home ready to get back on my computer. Still no green light. With it being Friday, I didn't want to take the chance that something would go wrong, then have to wait until Monday for that to be corrected. My confidence in "the new AT&T" was at zero, and my last ounce of patience was gone, so I made another call.

The service rep I got today quickly gave up on satisfying me, and transferred me to a manager, someone who could actually type in the codes to restore my internet service, regardless of where the service order was in queue. After about 30 minutes and one more transfer to a technician, I was back in business. In the meantime, I listened to more of the distorted music while on hold. And I know my service record looks nothing like it did before this happened. I need to have call waiting removed, and my employee concession added.

A customer should not have to go through the kind of hassle I've been through to get service re-established exactly as it was, especially if it is disconnected in error. "The New AT&T" still has a long way to go in providing the quality of service for which they became famous years ago. Customers have too many choices these days to tolerate trouble like I've had.

Something has to change.
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007.

I am way too dependent on my computer, have you noticed? When the phone line got disconnected yesterday, (in error, I should add, there was no balance due on the account) I had an anxiety attack. I spent an hour last night and 35 minutes this morning talking to the service reps at AT&T, the first in Louisiana and the second in North Carolina, in my attempts to get service restored. That I worked many years in their position probably helps me to be more patient with them than the regular customer is. It doesn’t keep my blood pressure from elevating to dangerous levels.

In many ways, the service rep is as handicapped as I, the customer, am. Everything is computerized; personal intervention to correct the error is practically useless; the computer overrides their attempts to restore the service the way it was with the number I’ve had for twenty years and want to keep. Last night they told me it would be Monday Dec. 3rd before it could be reconnected, and that was with a different number, but they would send me $120 in rebates for my inconvenience. The rep stayed past her getting off time to handle this, and I was due at church for choir rehearsal, so I did not take additional time to argue with her. I did play the “my husband is a stroke patient” card, so they would expedite the order as a medical necessity. She said her supervisor would call me. I knew her hands were tied.

This morning I called to negotiate a more satisfactory deal - getting service restored TODAY. I pity the poor rep who has to be pleasant while the irate customer steams. When they discover they’re talking to a sympathetic retired Bellsouth service rep, it relieves some of their pressure, until that retiree says, “Now what about my retiree concession? Don’t forget to add that.“ I actually heard the woman’s smile crack and crash. The whole order has to be redone with different codes. She apologetically gave me another number to call for retiree benefits after the service is reconnected, so they can restore the discount.

It’s not an easy job. They aren’t paid nearly enough. I DON’T ENVY THEM, and I’m reminded anew how grateful I am to be retired. Thank you, Jesus!

So now my phone has a dial tone, but my internet service is still not working. I’m venting on Word and will copy and paste this to the blog later. I have no complaints about the personnel involved in my transactions, so far. They have done all they could and kept their cool.

But I would love to get my hands on the S.O.B. who made the decision to subject customers on hold to an unending distorted soundtrack that sounds like 1940’s cartoons. I would like to lock him up for about 24 hours with nothing to do but listen to that crap. He’d be begging for water-boarding, or for his balls to be squeezed in a vice instead.

Surely, with all our technological advances, there is a way to give customers a choice to “opt out” of listening to a never-ending version of William Tell Overture, or whatever that monotonous tune is. It’s garbled, it wobbles in and out; it’s too loud, then it’s barely audible; it projects a very negative, antiquated image. It's enough to make anybody hang up and call the competition in disgust. If I were not a stockholder, I would seriously consider it.

5 hours later. With internet service still not restored, I braved another call, this time to repair service. Rather than classical music, their on-hold sound track was R&B, and the first song I was treated to? “Don’t make me wait,” I kid you not. The Shreveport rep and I both laughed about the irony of that.

It could be 5 PM tomorrow before my internet service is back on, or it could be today. They actually have a Disconnected-In-Error Team who handles nothing but cases such as mine. (The D-I-E team, sounds rather ominous, don’t you think?) That must be one understaffed, busy bunch of folks.

God help us!
My telephone service and internet service were disconnected in error by AT&T on Weds. Telephone was turned back on yesterday, still no internet service. I'm on Mike's dial-up now, but I've got to leave for the gym. More later...

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rather than SAD, I must have been getting a stomach bug. Diarrhea set in this morning, also a headache. "This, too, shall pass," I hope. I had trouble getting to sleep last night due to a bad case of heebie-jeebies. Whether these are all symptoms of the same bug or just hypochondria, I don't know. I do know that I'm beginning to sound like Silas. Bless his heart, he did love to complain about every little ailment.

The mental fog that enveloped me yesterday seems to have cleared (now that I know it was not all in my head?). I am taking another day away from the gym, and Pam has a funeral to attend tomorrow, so she won't be going then. Maybe Jean will, but she came home with a cold. Not a good week for this threesome to work out.

Pam went to the gym today prepared to give them a piece of her mind if the pool temp is as cool today as it was Monday. It's supposed to be 76*, but it was only 72*, which doesn't sound like much unless you're wet, and COLD! Their hot tub has also been out of order for the past week, which annoys me greatly. It's the way I reward myself for exercising.

Several others need our prayers today. Mike's alcohol consumption is increasing at an alarming rate. Jerry is at a critical point in his recovery. Art has been diagnosed with Hepatitis-C and will begin interferon treatments soon. LaRue's vision continues to worsen due to RP (Retinitis pigmentosa). Jean is treating her bad cold with Thera-Flu and her electric blanket turned up to 7. I certainly hope she doesn't have the flu.

Kudo's to Sarah (and co-author Ed Weissman), whose second book Episcopal Haiku has just been published. For those of you who, like I, aren't sure what a librettist is, it's an author of words to be set to music in an opera or operetta. Congratulations, Sarah, and good luck with the sales! Looks like this would make a great stocking stuffer for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I've been more useless today than usual, totally overcome by malaise, no gym, no housework, spent the day reading news and blogs on the internet, playing Scrabble, and listening to music. Maybe I should become a professional malingerer. I did take the dogs for a couple of walks, and cooked myself a good lunch, then I napped for a couple of hours. Maybe I should have taken 2 Zoloft tablets instead of 1 today.
I get like this when the weather turns cold and rainy, Seasonal Affective Disorder, they call it, or SAD. Actually, the overcast sky only lasted until around noon, the afternoon was sunny and a warm 60*, but by then, I was hopelessly lethargic. Maybe I should ask Santa for a therapy light.
Tomorrow will be better. Pam, Jean, and I are going to the gym, then I have choir and dinner tomorrow night. It really helps to have exercise partners. Pam and I went to our class on Monday, but there was no instructor. The six of us who showed up took turns calling out different exercises, so we managed to have a good work-out anyway. She went to pick up Jean today. I've really missed her since she left to visit her son's family.

It also helps to have something fun, like our choir dinners, to look forward to. Due to Thanksgiving last week, we didn't have rehearsal or dinner, and I really missed that, too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm baaaack! Did you miss me? Inspired to read more than write, I enjoyed the break. I hope you did, too. The end result? I have a whole stack of magazines I can now discard without wondering what I was missing by not reading them. I don't feel a lot smarter, just tired of reading.
Several shake-ups going in our state. Ole Miss lost the Egg Bowl and Coach O. lost his job. Jeff Bowers is leaving USM, too. Trent Lott is throwing in the towel, (so he can qualify as a Washington lobbyist in less than 2 years?). And the gopher frog wants developers to get out of their habitat and let them propagate. Wondering why the poorest state is also the most obese? Read this.

Back in my hometown, these four pastors brought their congregations together for a [real] community Thanksgiving service.

From left to right: Lynn Fair (Plantersville Methodist), Danny Balint (FBC Plantersville), Celester Davis (New Zion Baptist) and Glen Parks (New Chapel Methodist). Thanks to Karen Balint for the picture and info via George's blog.
Closer to home, it's ideal cocooning weather - cool and rainy. The Santa bug hasn't bitten me, yet. Sug-gestions are needed from those of you whose feelings will be hurt if there is nothing under my tree for you. Otherwise, you can expect another sweater. You can always please me with a new sweater, too. Royal blue, purple, or red, those are the colors I need. Let's keep it simple!

Friday, November 23, 2007

I've been playing with PhotoImpression all day, making scrapbook pages, collages, etc. Now I want to see if this will transfer to the blog.

Yay! It worked. It's not as complicated as I thought it was so you will probably be seeing more of these.
Mike and I enjoyed our trip to Memphis and the visit with Benji's family while we were there. Poor Pip has a bad cold and was cranky most of the time we were there, but there were some sweet moments, too. My favorite was watching him while Benji read a storybook. My other favorite moment was watching him and Bella sing along with a video. The child, so far, is much more expressive as a singer than a talker. I have a feeling that once he starts talking, he will have plenty to say.

Phin is still more comfortable playing computer games than socializing with a bunch of adults, and I can't say I blame him. There are times I feel the same way. Maybe it's a Sagit- tarius trait. He and I have birthdays coming up next Friday. Happy Birthday, Sweet Phineas! I hope you enjoy being nine.

Benji and Karen are in the middle of a kitchen remodeling project. Still, she and her mother managed to turn out a superb meal in far less than ideal conditions. Benji imported his dad from Gulf Shores to supervise the installation of the new IKEA cabinets, and they wasted no time in going back to work on them after lunch. I know Billy had much rather have been watching the football games, but there is no TV at this Borden home, except for watching DVD movies. Maybe he got to see some ballgames after they returned to the hotel.
I enjoyed seeing Richard. He's heavier than I would ever imagined him to be, but I'm sure he could say the same about me. He's still got his cute dimple and those beautiful brown eyes. I told him about the reunion in Plantersville and all the old friends who asked about him. He wished he'd known about it, he said, he would have gone.
Billy and Mamie drove up on Weds, bringing with them a practically new Ford SUV that was recycled from their car rental business. Benji and Karen were terribly excited to get such a nice vehicle with enough room for their family of five, and at such a reasonable family discounted price. Benji took me for a ride in it and showed me both the CBU campus and the Creighton campus where he teaches. With classes at both schools plus an online class (or two?), he stays very busy.
Our dogs spent the day at home with my neighbor Art in charge of walking them. Gus wouldn't cooperate, he said, so he spent the day in the house. Jay-Jay, on the other hand, was used to going with Art since he did it the week I was in Tampa. I forgot to tell him that the magic word with Gus is "Yippee!" Gus gets so excited when I get the leashes, jumping high and yelping. It didn't take long to learn that my saying, "Yippee! Yippee!" is all it takes to get the leash on him, that, or a piece of chicken. He would follow the devil himself for chicken.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Since we couldn't get everybody together for a group picture, I made a photomontage of the 10 people who enjoyed turkey day at the Memphis Bordens' home. What a treat! Thanks again, Karen and Mamie, for a great meal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! Scott McClellan is coming clean about the lies he told on Bush's behalf:

McClellan says he publicly exonerated former top White House aides Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby because Bush had called on him to help restore his credibility after the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"There was one problem. It was not true. I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff, and the president himself," McClellan said in an excerpt released on Tuesday.

So while Dubya joked about pardoning the two turkeys Mae and Flower, he and the other turkeys at the White House were beginning to feel the heat of public scrutiny and accountability being turned up. If Scooter Libby finds his conscience, or is offered the right book deal, we may hear from another yellow bird. Sing, Canary, sing! And for you loyal Bushies out there who still support this gang of criminals, you may want to have your BS detectors checked. Or replaced. Now if our Congresspeople would just find some chutzpa over the Thanksgiving holiday, we might see them get serious about impeachment.
I've done a couple of things today that required me to really push myself, which always makes me feel more worthwhile than if I'd neglected to do them. First, I made myself go to the gym for the water aerobics class. Only 3 of us plus the instructor showed up, so it was an unusually good class.
Then I tackled the repair of a garbage disposal that has been on the blink for a month. Seeing as how the red reset button is missing, it finally occurred to me to use something else, the wrench in this case, to trigger the inside mechanism. And lo and behold! It worked! I love it when I can be my own hero for the day.
Benji posted this among several other good pictures on his Flickr site. I enjoyed finding this cute picture of Laura with the BPP staff and Steve Martin. Yesterday's show included a segment of her talking to the show's hosts on air and without even one tiny hint of a Southern drawl.
Look for more pictures on my Flickr site after we spend tomorrow in Memphis. Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have
done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole
creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen. (BCP)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When Jean called this morning to say she wasn't going to the gym, I didn't need any other excuse to skip today's exercising. Then I stepped on the scale. Oh my, Fat Girl, you need to skip all the way to the gym and spend the day!

Which reminds me, in renewing my soon-to-expire driver's license, I noticed that my weight is exactly where it was 5 years ago. Maybe it's time I accept the fact that the mature woman in me is almost twice as big as the skinny little girl I was for the first half of my 60 years, and quit whining about it!
Besides, there was a recent report issued on the higher IQ's of those with small waists and large hips, so let's hear it for, "Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin' world go round! Yeah!" My waist-hip ratio is declining, however, even though I still find that while size 14 slacks fit my hips the waist is too large, but that's why we have elastic, right?
Oh, the study also said that our children are smarter, too!
Artwork The Three Ages of Woman by Gustav Klimt

Monday, November 19, 2007

Jean and I went to our aerobics class at the pool this morning without Pam, who is keeping her 6 year old granddaughter Carrie this week. I liked the instructor who was subbing today better than any we've had, so far. She gave us a good work-out and seemed to be more accustomed to leading the exercises than some we've had, a real pro.

My surrogate mother made an observation today that both surprised and pleased me. "You know when you seem the happiest to me?" she asked.

No, I said, when?

"When you're at church," she replied. "You come alive there in a way you don't anywhere else."

Jean has known me well for about five months and has attended the same church for about three months, so I guess she has seen me in enough different situations to draw that conclusion. I do feel very much at home and comfortable at church, not unusual for someone who grew up in church, I guess. And it's the only time she sees me dressed up and wearing make-up, something that pleases and impresses her, just like it did my own mother. I always thought of it as window dressing, too much emphasis put on appearances by Jean and Jack's generation, but maybe there is something to it.

She's never met my children and grandchildren, or seen me when I'm relating to them. From my perspective, it's the only other situation when I feel as happy and comfortable, especially when they are at my house, but then I'm rarely dressed up or wearing make-up, so I'm wondering whether that happiness would be as obvious to her. It will be interesting to hear her observations after the holidays when, I'm sure, she will see me with them.

She's flying on Friday to Atlanta to visit with her son's family, and will be back home on Monday. For 86 years old, she's still got a lot of get-up-and-go. She's a real inspiration. And she will be "dressed to the nines!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We're having the kind of weather today that I hope to have for Christmas shopping, but with the temperature a few degrees cooler. It's been drizzling rain all day long, so after church and then lunch at China Buffet, I put on comfortable shoes and did a little shopping, but not for Christmas. The crowd at Wal-mart was so thick, I immediately lost my enthusiasm for schloggy shopping, decided to cut the fun short, and go home to take a nap instead, something else I enjoy doing on a rainy afternoon.

Our guest organist did such a better job today than I would ever have done. I'm so glad I declined that opportunity. It would not have gone nearly as smoothly with me on that bench. Ben Tomlinson is a superb musician who facilitated a reverant worship service without calling undue attention to himself. Good choice, David, for whenever you are away!
The more I think about playing the pipe organ, the more trepidation I feel. It's inspired more than one bad dream in which I make a total fool of myself, so as much as I like the idea of being able to do it, I have to admit, I'm not willing to do the work required to master that art. Even though playing with both feet was not that difficult, the one and only time I tried it, my hands were totally lost when I tried to use them with the feet, like they were trying to communicate in two different languages. I think the right foot was using the electrical circuitry or neurotransmitters normally used by my hands, which left the hands without a clue, not knowing what to do, totally dumbfounded. Maybe in my next life...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Benji has posted some precious pictures of my youngest grandchild. Rather than stepping on more Republican toes today, I'll focus on a more agreeable subject: This is a cute baby, even has his daddy's pout.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gus and Jay-Jay are back to enjoying one another's company, and snuggled up together after breakfast for their morning nap. Gus is back to his sassy, impudent self, and challenged a German Shepherd yesterday. I was awfully glad there was a sturdy fence between the two.
I enjoyed the debate among Democratic candidates last night on CNN. Hillary was the clear winner with the Nevada crowd, and I thought her performance was positively PRESIDENTIAL. Obama and Edwards were booed when they attacked her, so if either of them edges her out of the nomination, it will mean they have mastered the delicate dance of competing with a woman. According to Maureen Dowd, men have not evolved beyond yesterday's notions of the strong, smart female stereotype.
Did anyone else happen to see Tom Delay on Hardball after he took a "nice pill"? That interview also includes Chris Matthews' summation of Pat Robertson's dire predictions regarding mainstream Protestants prevailing in the next election: "They are anti-Christ, women will leave their husbands, kill their babies, and all become lesbians."
His influence is obviously waning, as the National Right to Life Organization (headed by that other David O'Steen) is backing Fred Thompson, not Rudy Giuliani. I'm still surprised that more Republicans are not getting behind the Rev. Mike Huckabee.
To see the Evangelical voting block splintering so effectively is one of the few positive accomplishments of the current president. I'm always encouraged when gullible people break through their denial and begin to think for themselves.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Different things inspire me to cook - cool, rainy days, company coming, cooking shows on TV. Today it's just cool, the rain came last night, so rather than turning on the heat (yesterday we ran the AC), I warmed up the downstairs by firing up the gas range, something that doesn't happen much during the warm months when sandwiches and salads prevail. Mike came in from the gym to the aroma of pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, apples, and cornbread baking in the oven and turnip greens simmering on the stove top. He thought he was hallucinating. Even my dogs begged for cornbread until I gave them some. It was a very satisfying meal.

The stove is not the only thing in my house to be neglected lately. If I did nothing but clearing out clutter and cleaning for the next three days, I doubt I could get it all done. The cooler weather is energizing, though, so I'm planning to be very busy for a while trying to get ready for the holidays.

For the two of you who were curious about the choices I made yesterday I'll tell you, I only did the things that were "good for me." Not typical, I know, but every once in a while I actually behave. And the scale rewarded me this morning with a lower weight. So now you probably know which temptations I resisted. And my teeth are cleaner, too!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Our Mon-Wed-Fri Aqua Angels class goes out for lunch every Weds. and today they're going to a restaurant where I've been wanting to go - Parker House in Ridgeland. Their Blue Plate Special today is fried Mississippi quail. Do I dare indulge this hankering and go to the choir dinner tonight also? Who was that complaining about recent weight gain yesterday? Ah, me! What to do? What to do? I've got a dentist appointment this afternoon, too. Something's gotta give, too much going on for one day.

More later, maybe.....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The carpet is clean and the house smells good again. Gus is getting back to his friskiness. Mike is being pleasant this morning, and I'm feeling more relaxed than I have been since returning home on Friday. The transition from vacation to normal routine has always been harder for me than normalcy to vacation. I had a headache for the first three days back at home. I just don't do well with a lot of stress and chaos.

It felt good to get back in the warm pool of saltwater yesterday. Too much Halloween candy and no exercise while away added up to 2 extra pounds, so I've got to get serious about losing some of this weight. The winter months with their feasting holidays are fast approaching. Hard to believe that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK! We're planning to go to Benji and Karen's where the food is always "to-die-for" delicious. They're going through a rough patch again over child custody issues with her ex, so please remember them in your prayers. Based on my personal observation, Karen and Benji are excellent parents and are raising smart, sweet, well-adjusted children. I know what it's like to have parenting capability challenged, one of the deepest cuts I've ever suffered to my emotional well-being, and damaging to the children involved also. Using children as ammunition to hurt an ex-spouse should be considered a felony, but it's so hard to prove. Let's hope they get through this without a major meltdown.

Monday, November 12, 2007

On 10/27/07, I mentioned other family members' blogs. We seem to be a prolific bunch of folks. My brother has a new post today about his week-end at Chotard with our cousin Skip.

Laura blogged today about the Flowood Community Work Center, formerly known as the Airline Motel where her grandmother used to take her to swim and to eat Mexican food. The pictures I made for her, over the protests of an unfriendly guard, are featured on this NPR website. I'm adding a link to the BPP blog in my sidebar. Listen to the program while you're there. It's good.

Benji has new pictures made with a new keychain(?) camera, super cheap, super low res, but outstanding results. And Skip, we're still waiting for you to get unstuck. What is the problem? No pressure or anything.....
Gus finally gave evidence last night that his plumbing is back to working right. I felt like passing out cigars, I've never felt so proud to see a dog poop. His appetite was fairly good this morning, but he's never been one to eat much breakfast. Around noon, he should be hungrier, if he's truly getting back to normal, and tonight he will be ravenous.

I looked back through my picture file to find one of the dogs running and the only one I found was made last summer on the pier below our swimming pool. If you zoom in on it, ( a simple click will give you the large version)you can see Gus smiling while his ears are flying in the breeze. That's a happy puppy right there! I hope and pray it isn't long before we see that effervescent energy in him again.
This picture was made before the repair work for Katrina damage was completed. The pier now extends to the fartherest bare piling and the shoreline sports new stone. The 75 mph winds ripped up the whole pier and the steps leading up to the pool. It also lifted the roofs of the two buildings that face the lake, and blew shingles off the other roofs.
Most of the neighbors I've seen and talked to since coming home have been very concerned about Gus. All have gently asked me to please not allow my dogs to run loose any more, even though Gus, more than likely, ingested styrofoam inside our house. Nevertheless, I've assured them all that they will not see them off-leash again. Is there a scarlet A on my chest for "airhead"?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Since I'm still tired and still behind in all that needs to be done around here, I'm taking a second Sunday away from church and choir duty. I may go to Amerigo's and eat lunch with Pam and Jean, but I may not, depending on what I get done between now and noon.
I really hate to go off and leave Gus for any length of time, he's still quite puny, and I've already got enough guilt about his illness. Whether he ingested styrofoam outdoors while running loose, or here in the house, which I've still found no sign of, I should have been more careful. My dogs' days of carefree running off-leash are over.
I'm thinking of constructing out of clothesline a dog run the length of the fence that borders our yard, so they will be able to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air without getting out of the yard. The fence does not enclose our yard, so it's the only thing I could come up with (short of a chain-link fenced-in dog run that would probably meet with the homeowner association board's disapproval) that will give them some freedom with safety.
Leashes will be looped over the line and hooked to their collars. I'll get longer leashes for this than I use for walking them, and I'll leave these longer leashes attached to the line. Maybe I should invite the other dog owners to use it, too, but we would need to have time limits, a half hour or so per session? But what if the neighbors on the other side of the fence object? It is, after all, their fence.
Maybe I should go back to the tree tether I've used in the past, or a stake and tie-out. I really hate to deprive them of the pleasure they get from racing one another. They love to run and I love to watch them. If I could just get them to stay in the yard or come back when I call them. Well-trained dogs they are not.
Northshore Park, which is close-by, has a fenced in ball field where I've taken them before and they really enjoyed it. A quick online tour of pet supplies revealed several other options to explore. This pen is not terribly expensive, compared to the vet bill we just paid.
If anybody has a better idea, I wish you would send it to me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The new pictures are on my Flickr site, just click the link on the sidebar on the right of the screen.
It's Friday night. I'm back at home after a good, but very uneventful trip, but the chaos of my homecoming made up for the lack of excitement up to that point. We picked up Gus on the way home from the airport. The bill for this 4-legged baby was only $936, a real bargain compared to what surgery and a 7 day stay in the hospital for the 2-legged kind cost.

He's still puny with a scar about 4 or 5 inches long, the length from his rib cage to his penis. He weighs almost 2 pounds less than he did, a serious weight loss for an 11 pound dog. His convalescent space here is the pack-n-play that was last occupied by Pip. He seems to enjoy being in it, protected from Jay-Jay's roughhousing, and within view of me at my desk. His appetite is good, but he can only have small meals, 5 a day, to keep his tummy from being distended. He's got an antibiotic to take, special food and nutritional supplements. My "free puppy" has inched his way into the very expensive class - the very rare, one-of-a-kind pughuahua.

Sat. a.m. Jay-Jay was wild with excitement when I arrived bearing a much less energetic Gus than he's used to. Mike says he's searched for Gus and me all week. He probably thinks we've been together the whole time, since we disappeared the same day and arrived home together. Yes, I believe my dogs are capable of thinking. I know he seemed awfully glad to see us both. He slept with Mike last night and I spent the night in the "sick puppy room," AKA the guest bedroom. This morning he's sleeping on the guest bed helping me keep an eye on Gus.

Mike seemed glad to have me back home for about five minutes, and lost no time in reverting to his "old grouch" personae. He said he hasn't lost his temper the whole time I was gone, so once again I'm wondering if we're bringing out the worst in each other instead of the best. It sure seems that way to me.

The first call I made when I got home was to the carpet cleaner who couldn't come until Monday afternoon. The stench in a couple of rooms is almost as bad as the stains. I've done some cleaning, but most of it will have to be removed by the pros. Since Jay-Jay didn't get to go out as often as when I'm home, he added to the mess of Gus's bloody vomit stains. Yuk! No wonder Mike was making inquiries about having it cleaned before I got home.

I've got pictures to post from my trip but my camera's software seems to have been corrupted somehow since I used it last. Maybe if I uninstall and reinstall it I can get it to work. This and several other problems tell me I need to get my butt in gear. First order of business - take something for this headache!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I've been shopping all day, attempting to find Tampa tee-shirts that have no mention of any ball team on them. I went to seven different stores and did not find one. I did hear Christmas music in every store though. I'll get out to the airport tomorrow and they will have all kinds of Tampa tee-shirts, just wait. I gave up at the last store and bought other things for my dog walkers, Art and Jon.
Gus is still not ready to be released from the hospital, and even if he were, I would want him to stay until after I get home and have a chance to check the house for anything that might have made him sick. If he got ahold of a stuffed toy, he more than likely hid it up under one of the beds. I need to clean out from under all of them before we bring him home. We sure don't want to go through this ordeal again, and I'm sure Gus doesn't either.
I've got a date with two handsome guys tonight, Clay and Cooper. Their parents have a "date," so Gramma is being left in charge. We may play Scrabble, or I may let them just do their normal routine. They have no trouble entertaining themselves. I've heard only one small hint of "I'm bored ," since I've been here.
Happy Birthday, Rick! You're still a cute little booger, well maybe not little, but still cute! (I'm glad you let your mustache grow back.) I love you dearly and have loved you longer than anybody else. And don't you forget it!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sophie, the calico cat, woke me up this morning with her plaintive cry after Cooper shut the door in his bedroom leaving her trapped inside. He comes in so quietly to get his clothes while I'm sleeping, I never hear him. He was already gone to school when I got up, but Clay's school starts an hour later, so he was still here. This early morning rush to get the boys to the school bus is not nearly as chaotic as I remember with Ricky and Benji, but when the parents are working from home, that relieves a lot of the pressure. The pace around here is pretty laid back in general, so it's no wonder I'm enjoying it like I am. (Ricky made the cat picture.)

We went out to eat last night at Stonewood Grill and Tavern to celebrate Ricky's birthday, which is tomorrow. Once again, Ricky and I duplicated each other's choice of menu items - herb crusted grouper. At lunch yesterday, I heated a bowl of soup and offered him some. He'd just finished eating the very same soup, out of a choice of about 10 different soups in the pantry. I like it when our trains are running on the same track, as long as they're headed in the same direction.

I'm enjoying reading the book Jean loaned me before I left, Dying for Chocolate, written by her Colorado friend Diane Mott Davidson. I've never read a novel that included recipes, but this one does, and some fine-sounding dishes they are. I may try a couple of them before I leave. I really like the spacious kitchen here, and would enjoy cooking if I got inspired. So far, though, I haven't. Maybe if I read some more of this book I will be.

Mike says Gus greeted the vet's assistant with a wagging tail this morning, so he's feeling better, obviously. I need to take a fruit basket to the clinic when I get home, but I may not feel so generous after we pay the bill. I'm just glad he's recovering.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gus did not get to go home yesterday, but had surgery last night instead. He'd had no BM, so Doc Adams went in and found a tummy full of styrofoam. Now why Gus would eat styrofoam is anybody's guess. My suspicious mind went straight to the man with whom Mike had the altercation last week. If he soaked styrofoam with chicken gravy, Gus would have wolfed it down, otherwise, I can't imagine he would be interested. I guess it could have been a styrofoam take-home box with scraps that he found somewhere. We'll never know, I'm sure. I'm just glad he's okay now. He was still groggy from surgery this morning, but vital signs were good and he's expected to make a full recovery.

I'm still enjoying my vacation. I'm sleeping incredibly well with no snuggling dogs and no snoring husband. Cooper comes into the room every morning to get his clothes and I never hear anything. Both boys have already left for school by the time I get up, so it's been a very relaxing place for R&R. I'm in the living room with Ricky, who is working from home, and we have the light classical Music Choice Station playing on TV. The dogs are napping and Mary Ann has gone to the doctor's office. The weather has been as close to perfect as possible, sunny days with daytime temps in high 70's, lows in the 50's. I went to the nail salon yesterday and got the best massage ever with my pedicure and manicure. There is a Jacuzzi tub here that I've enjoyed. I can't remember a more enjoyable vacation - slow-paced, peaceful, quiet, lots of downtime with enough grandchildren fun, but not too much. The food has been extraordinarily good, too, Ricky grilled some super steaks, and we've had plenty of chocolate from the trick-or-treating boys' goody bags.

Mike just called to say the styrofoam was the small pellets like is found in Beanie Babies or beanbags. I told him to check the top of the buffet to see if the little blue penguin Beanie Baby is still up there. It's not, he said.... hmmmmmm........

Monday, November 05, 2007

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I've aways heard, and it has definitely worked its magic with my hubby. I'm depending on him for the care and news of Gus, so for the first time in many moons I appreciate him. Gus spent the week-end in the hospital, they still don't know what was wrong, but he seems to be recovering nicely and he greeted Mike with a wagging tail and puppy kisses when he went to visit this morning. After a few more hours of observation, they plan to release him. They just want to make sure he's ok.

I really appreciate everything they have done to treat his illness and care for him. Carol, one the clinic's employees, actually went to our house on Friday to help Mike find Gus, after he told her that he was vomiting blood and that he wasn't able to get down and look under the beds for him. Service above and beyond the call of duty deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated, and I do. Old Fannin Rd. Animal Clinic, Doc Adams and crew, THANK YOU! I've been able to enjoy my vacation more easily knowing my baby is in good hands.
Mike is doing amazingly well without me - making his own coffee, washing the dishes, taking Jay-Jay for short walks during the day. I'm impressed and relieved. He even made inquiries into getting the stains cleaned off the carpet. He's endearing himself to me daily. Now if I can figure out how to keep him being this self-sufficient after I return, we'll probaby get along better.

I've had three handsome Shelties to provide the canine company to which I've grown accustomed. Tucker, Maggie, and Drako are a lively and affectionate threesome. They are much better at coming home with a call and a whistle when I let them out than Gus and Jay-Jay are.
The backyard here borders a "conservation area," or woods, as we call it in Mississippi. The trampoline I bought the boys for Christmas a couple of years ago has been moved back there so that it is not nearly as noticeable, and is closer to compliance to the homeowners rules. I'm glad to know that they and their friends are still enjoying it, and that no one has been seriously injured. Clay, in the sunglasses, and Cooper, the curly-top, are two sweet precious children. Clay is taller than he was in July when they were at my house, and his voice is getting lower. They grow up so fast. He and Cooper will be shaving much too soon to suit their grandmother, but with that will come the habit of taking baths without prompting, so I guess it's all good, just as Mother Nature designed them.

Life is short, the years rush past
Our children grow up so fast
No longer are they at our side
Their precious secrets to confide
The picture books are put away
And no more Chutes and Ladders left to play
No goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear
That all belongs to Yesteryear
Once Pitter-pattered halls lie still
Days are long now and hard to fill
I wish we could go back and do
All the little things you asked me to.
- Anonymous

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Remember when I said I missed being in a house with football fans? Well, this week-end, I've made up for lost time. I've seen Georgia beat Florida, much to Cooper's chagrin, and LSU beat Alabama, Arkansas won their game against South Carolina, Navy beat Notre Dame after 43 years of losing this match-up and three overtimes to break the tie, New England beat the Colts, much to my family's dismay (we like Tony Dungy), and right now Dallas is beating Philadelphia 35 -10. .

We spent the afternoon at the baseball field watching Cooper's team, the Tampa Bulldogs, get whupped by the Mustangs in two disappointing games. Cooper has the best batting average and the lowest ERA as a pitcher, so needless to say, he was very unhappy about today's two games.
It's like "old home week" being at Ricky's house, we're still so familiar with each other, it takes no time at all to get comfortable. We have managed to once again replicate one another's taste. The picture in their living room is one I admired online, printed out, and copied in watercolor about 5 years ago.
Ricky had no knowledge of this when he chose it for Mary Ann's birthday gift in 2006. Village Hideaway by Howard Behrens.
The other replication took place about 10 years ago when I selected my favorite electric train in a catalog and told Ricky he should get it for Clay. Seven hundred and fifty miles away, my first-born had already selected the very same train and had already ordered it. Great minds think alike, especially within the same family.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Saturday morning at the Tampa Bordens' house, excitement abounds with two adolescent boys and three Shelties. I had a good trip down and was met in the much-larger-than-Jackson airport by Cooper, who was exactly where his dad said he would be, much to my pleasant surprise. Cooper also gave up his bed for his Gramma, who slept really well even though she is very concerned about the sick puppy she left at home.

Gus started vomiting blood after I left yesterday, so Mike took him to the vet who kept him overnight. The x-rays and blood tests haven't shown anything out of the ordinary and his vital signs are good. They're doing a barium enema this morning for another test trying to determine the cause of bleeding. I suspect he went trick-or-treating Weds and talked somebody out of a piece of fried chicken which still had its bone. They gave him a muscle relaxer last night so he rested well. Let's pray he recovers soon.

Thursday night's Evensong went well, the music was "heavenly," according to those who heard it. Our audience of visible saints outnumbered the choir by two, but we had a full house of the invisible ones. I went with Pam and Jean to Kathryn's Steak House afterwards for dinner, and we got our check right before we left this time, after calling attention to the discrepancy. Taking for granted the correctness of a restaurant's arithmetic is not something I will do again, thanks to this particular place. Hard to believe a top-notch restaurant like Kathryn's can't figure the bill right.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm leaving more stuff undone than I intended to, but nothing that can't wait until I get back. Rather than cleaning the carpet before I go, I figure it will need it worse when I get back. I've got all the clothes washed, the one thing Mike asked to be sure I did. Gus is not coughing any more, but he's not feeling up to par, either. He ate a good bit of grass when I took him out this morning, then threw it up. Dogs do that by instinct when they have a tummy ache. Amazing how that works.
If something were to happen to me, and I don't make it back, my reputation as a poor housekeeper is safe, nothing to worry about there. I'll have this nagging "I should do more" feeling until I board the plane, I always do, but once I'm on my way, it doesn't bother me.
Choir rehearsal was demanding last night, but we are much better prepared for tonight's performance than we were. I agreed to do one of the readings. It's from Ecclesiasticus 44:1-10, 13-14:

Let us now sing the praises of famous men [and women], our ancestors in their generations. The Lord apportioned to them great glory, his majesty from the beginning. There were those who ruled in their kingdoms, and made a name for themselves by their valor; those who gave counsel because they were intelligent; those who spoke in prophetic oracles; those who led the people by their counsels and by their knowledge of the people's lore; they were wise in their words of instruction; those who composed musical tunes, or put verses in writing; rich men [and women] endowed with resources, living peacefully in their homes-- all these were honored in their generations, and were the pride of their times. Some of them have left behind a name, so that others declare their praise. But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed; they have become as though they had never been born, they and their children after them. But these also were godly men [and women], whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; Their offspring will continue forever, and their glory will never be blotted out. Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name lives on generation after generation.
Do I dare change the sexist language to include both genders? I mean, how could we praise famous men without the women who bore them? It's a totally lopsided way to see things, if you ask me. And men were not the only ones to do the things being mentioned. I'll try to get that approved before the service begins. Or maybe I should just read the list I posted yesterday. That would wake 'em up!