Monthly Archives: November 2010

Getting Away During Thanksgiving

I have traveled most of my adult life but it’s usually been on airplanes.  I’ve always been in a hurry to get somewhere or to get home, it seems.  This year, I just didn’t want to stay home during the Thanksgiving holiday, my first without Nonnie, so I started looking for a totally different way to travel.  I’ve been in commuter trains, jet planes, prop planes, cars, SUVs, trucks, boats, ferries, river barges, and even on a horse years ago.  But I’ve never been on a cruise ship or an overnight sleeper car on a train .  Ed has taken a cruise so a sleeper car would be something new for both Ed and me.  You know, a sleeper car with the bunk bed that pulls down, just like in old movies?   

So where to go? Hmmm.   Amtrak has sleeper cars and the Texas Eagle runs all the way from San Antonio to Chicago.  Twenty-three and a half hours on a train from Fort Worth to Chicago?  That would work.  How fun and how peaceful could you get?  No TV.  No Internet.  Someone else doing the cooking and serving and cleaning up.  That’s it!  Let’s go! 

It was supposed to get cold over the holiday, so I decided to board the dogs at the American Pet Spa and Resort (http://americanpetspa.com/).  Boy, does sounds ostentatious, doesn’t it?  It looks like a replica of an Old West town and the people are great.  Not only that, but they also have an animal rescue area, Ranch Hand Rescue (http://ranchhandrescue.org/), adjacent to the pet boarding area so I feel like I’m helping out both entities by boarding the girls there.  We found out later that all of the girls felt differently about the whole experience.  They were boarded in the same kennel so they did have each other to play with but this was their first time away from home for an extended time.  As we expected, SoLow was scared to be left and Stephi just took it all in stride.  Sam just wouldn’t walk away from us to go to the kennel so I had to walk back there with her.  Once she saw the other 2, she was fine.

Now, I wasn’t about to take the goats or the turtle Fred anywhere though.  We again had Amanda from our vet’s office, Chisholm Oaks Vet (http://www.yelp.com/biz/chisholm-oaks-veterinary-argyle), stop by and feed them daily so they were well taken care of in our absence.  In fact, I don’t know that Bob, Willow or Fred even realized we were gone and that is a good thing!  We also informed our vet that if the kennel had problems with any of the girls, they would call the vet before they would even call me.  This vet is fabulous!  I trust them implicitly to take care of my girls in the best way they can.

…to be continued

Shopping Heaven

I have found heaven! I hate shopping, as you well know. If I could afford a professional, personal shopper to do it for me, I would. “Here are my preferences. Go find me something to eat/wear/use!” Hah!  Nirvana!

The next best thing, though, is shopping online. You don’t have to walk around the store to gather what you want. There are no crowds. There’s no walking past all of those last-minute temptations. There are no lines at the checkout counters.  No hurting feet. No tempers. No frustration when that store is out of what you went after in the first place.  Many online stores now have free shipping.  This is very nice.

What’s even better? Shopping online and having the local store bag it up for me. I can stop by and pick it up at my convenience.  No walking around the entire store looking for something. No crowds.  No temptations.  No lines.  No hurting feet. No tempers. No frustrations. No waiting for shipping.  I can even separate personal from business expenditures.  Man, I love Sam’s Club!

Lazy, you say?  No, I’m not lazy.  I’m just saving my energy for something else, for something much more fun … such as, getting a massage at the Meadows Building … taking a trip … even cleaning out the indoor pond on the front steps on a cold, windy, icy day in the middle of winter!  Yeah, I hate shopping that much!

Windows on the Ceiling

SoLow has found windows on the ceiling. Oh, my! You can actually see outside and watch the birds hopping across them and squirrels scrounging around for something, who knows what. Life is exciting when you can see them but you just can’t get to them. Oh, does she want so much to get to them. She whines. She whimpers. She jumps up trying to reach them. She sits up on her hind legs, looking straight up. How does she keep her balance doing that? I can’t keep my balance doing that! She comes to us wanting help getting up there, trying to get in our lap, trying to get closer to them. And she does NOT like giving up. She will go back for hours looking for the bird that used to be there.

But some of the windows are opaque. All you can see through them is movement. How can she tell the difference between birds, squirrels, and blowing leaves? She can’t and leaves are falling in Texas now. Lots of leaves are blowing around the yard, the house, the road. They are EVERYWHERE! They are even on the windows on top of the house. What fun! Whimpering. Whining. Jumping. Looking straight up. Pacing.

Did you realize that moths and bugs can be almost as much fun? They don’t move anywhere near as much but it is just as important to keep an eye on them. You don’t know what they could do when you aren’t looking, you know, so she watches and waits. Oh, life is good for little SoLow and life is fun for us watching her.

This Thanksgiving, SoLow is thankful for birds, bugs, squirrels and leaves. Bless her heart; it’s the little things in life that makes it so worth living.

What should we be thankful for?

I could say family, friends, good health, and a great life and that would all be true.  I am thankful for all of those things, but that doesn’t tell the entire story, does it?  I am thankful for so much more than that.  I am very thankful to live in the United States, a country built on freedoms, the rule of law, and the representation of the people.  While Thanksgiving is an American holiday now, it began in 1621, before the United States even existed, between two totally different groups of people.   Back then, they celebrated a good harvest after a very harsh winter.  Now we seem to celebrate football, shopping, and eating too much.

We live in a country where we have the freedom to do any job that we are capable of doing, any job that we are capable of learning, coupled with the ambition to get that learning. I have the freedom to say what I want about the government, police, courts, and military, without threat of retaliation, regardless of how brilliant, foolish, ignorant or stupid it might be or I might look.  I have the freedom to believe in any religion I want or to believe in no religion, for that matter.  I have the freedom to live anywhere, wear anything, and eat anything that I can afford.  There are nations today where your life is threatened daily, where you must have permission to live in certain areas, where you must believe in one single religion, where you must wear certain clothing or eat certain foods or act certain ways in public.  That is not freedom and is unacceptable here in the U.S.

Yes, we have the freedom to do what we want but with that freedom comes a responsibility to the nation that we have built around that concept.  We have the responsibility to protect those freedoms we cherish so that we do not lose those freedoms.  If I want to buy a car, for instance, it is my responsibility to provide insurance for that car and any damage I may do.  If I want to fly to another place, it is my responsibility to make sure that I do not bring anything dangerous on the plane.  If I want to smoke, drink, or do drugs, it is my responsibility to have the proper insurance and to pay a higher premium than those who do not want that kind of lifestyle.  If I want to walk through Central Park in NYC at midnight, it is my responsibility to take the consequences of that walk.  And if I don’t like a potential new law, whether it be federal, state, county or local, it is my responsibility to tell my representatives how I feel.

This Thanksgiving, while you are enjoying the time off from work, the food, the shopping, the festivities, and the football, take time to really be thankful for family, friends, your health and your life, but also be thankful for your government.  Think about what you are grateful for, what you stand for, what you will accept and what you won’t.  Then let your voice be heard. 

Don’t just sit back and hope that someone else will take the initiative.  You have the responsibility to do that for yourself.  Don’t take anything for granted just because someone you like or admire has either recommended it or condemned it.  Do your own research on the issues.  Make your own decisions.  Come to your own conclusions.  Yes, it is work and we are all busy people but, this is a responsibility that we not only need to take seriously, this is a responsibility that we need to teach our children.  If our Founding Fathers had not taken their responsibility for the direction of this country, we would be a totally different nation today than what we are.  They deliberated long and hard to come up with the best Constitution and Bill of Rights they could and still retain the freedoms they sought.  If we don’t pass on this responsibility to our children, what kind of a country will we be in another 200 years?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I am thankful to have you as friends and family!

A summary of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution:

  1. Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
  2. Right to keep and bear arms in order to maintain a well-regulated militia
  3. No quartering of soldiers
  4. Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures
  5. Right to due process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy
  6. Rights of accused persons, such as the right to a speedy and public trial
  7. Right of trial by jury in civil cases
  8. Freedom from excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments
  9. Other rights of the people
  10. The powers that are reserved to the states

Morning has broken…

Have you ever awakened early one morning and just relaxed in bed, watching your loved one sleep?  Most of the time, they look so peaceful, their muscles relaxed, frown lines smoothed out.  But if they are dreaming, I sometimes wonder what they are dreaming about, such as when their leg kicks out or their body twitches.  You can lean over and rub their back and they immediately seem to calm and breathe a little easier.  Keep rubbing and they tend to lean back toward you, enjoying the contact with you, even though they don’t know it and usually won’t remember it. 

When they start to awaken, you smile while you watch them stretch and work the night’s kinks out.  But then they roll over and snuggle into your side, not quite ready to face the long day ahead.  Pull them close, trying to keep the warmth, and snooze a little more yourself.  This, dear reader, is unconditional, non-judgmental love, freely given, not analyzed or considered, just felt and enjoyed.

It is also peaceful, this moment before the hectic day begins, yet all too soon, it’s time to get moving.  After a quick kiss on the cheek, get up, up and at ‘em!  Move, move, move!  Roll out of bed.  The very first activity is running for the back door to let them out before they can stop and pee on the floor.  Come on, unconditional love is one thing but during the day, you must deal with the realities of life.  Reality starts as soon as your feet hit the floor and the reality is that, after a long sleep, everyone has to go and the pets come first!  Yes, morning has broken and love reigns supreme.

The Halleluiah Chorus

The Knight Foundation funds arts projects that promote not only the enrichment of certain communities but also the engagement of those communities.  They have art contests and help to digitize museum collections.  They also have the Random Acts of Culture program that brings fine art to the general population, instead of waiting for them to come to the fine art.

Well, you know me and music, right?  This video surfaced on YouTube and I dare you to watch and listen and NOT get goose bumps!  Yes, the music is Handel’s Halleluiah Chorus but this was actually performed this year on October 30th in Philadelphia, so you may see Halloween decorations at Macy’s.

http://www.knightarts.org/community/detroit/your-words-random-acts-of-culture

They are helping to produce 1,000 of these Random Acts of Culture over the next 3 years.  My bet is that we see a lot more of these videos on YouTube and I’m looking forward to seeing them all.

A Picture of A Diseased Lung?

I heard a few days ago that the FDA wants to put pictures of diseased lungs now on cigarette packages.  Excuse me???  They already have a message on each package and now they want a picture too?  Where will this end?

What about pictures of a diseased liver on bottles of alcohol?  What about pictures of highway crashes on the sides of cars, trucks, 18-wheelers?  What about a severed arm floating in the water on the side of a speed boat?  What about the body of a suicide victim on a bottle of aspirin?  Where does it stop?  Ignorant people will still be ignorant.  Stupid people will still be stupid.  Blind people will still not look at the packages.  Vehicles will still have mechanical and electrical breakdowns.  Depressed people will find something else to help them out of their misery.  Does that mean we stop driving or, heaven forbid, stop living?  If you have an issue with teenagers smoking, drinking, taking over-the-counter drugs, and/or driving, then change the consequences for teenagers.

I am so glad that I no longer smoke.  I rarely drink.  I take aspirin on a weekly basis and I am constantly driving, it seems.  But in none of these cases do I want to restrict other adults’ behavior and I sure don’t want disgusting pictures mandated by the government.  If you want to smoke, go ahead.  If I don’t like it and it is a smoking area, I’ll move.  If you want to drink, go ahead.  If you impose yourself on me, I’ll nicely ask you to leave me alone and then kick you in the crotch if you don’t.  If you want to drive, go ahead but stay alert.  If you want to take an overdose of something, I can’t stop you.   I would try but as soon as I left, I know you have free will to try it again.  And as long as you respect the space my car is taking up, I’ll respect yours.  But I DO NOT want the government mandating disgusting pictures on a single product just because they think it is not healthy.  There are other things that are not healthy.  Would they put a picture of an obese person or a fat heart on your couch because you SHOULD be exercising?  GEE!!!