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Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

I’ve been searching high and low for a spare moment to do some blogging. I need it for my soul. There were a few days this past week that I thought I’d be able to take a few hours to put my thoughts in order. Boy, was I wrong. I’m not even kidding. Something always comes up. So now I’ve decided to just do a quick (but lengthy) post of what’s been happening around these parts.
Garden plant shopping

Garden plant shopping

We have still been having the funniest year for weather ever. The 2 days before June it was only in the upper 40’s for a high temperature. I started wondering if someday (possibly¬†decades from now) the seasons will be switched with the 2 hemispheres like Australia will have our seasons and we’ll have theirs? Global warming and all, you know. In any case, it would make an interesting plot for a book or movie. ūüėČ We have been alternating the very cold temps with a few days of mid-80’s which is hard to get used to. One day you’re wearing shorts and sandals, the next pants and a coat.
Peonies & bridal wreath in our backyard by koi pond.

Peonies & bridal wreath in our backyard by koi pond.

Due to the above weather constraints, we got our garden in late this year. We also decided to rotate the crops, planting our tomato plants where we’ve always had our peppers and vice versa. We kept the cucumbers in the same place. We also decided to do about half as many plants and spread them out more. We still do a lot–18 plants each but it’s a lot less than we used to. We always crowded our plants and that makes it hard to weed. Not like that’s one of my favorite things but they should produce more if given more room too. We got our plants on Thurs. May 21st¬†and it took 3 days to get them all planted. I remember when we used to be able to plant everything in a day. We planted the herbs (basil, chives, dill, cilantro, thyme, curry, rosemary) the day we got them. Then planted the tomatoes the next day and the peppers on Sat. They are doing nicely. We usually get some other veggies like squash or beets but this year, we’re keeping it to a minimum. My rhubarb is doing fantastic. Possibly the best year ever. I have 3 plants and they are 3 different varieties. I picked most of the largest (oldest) plant and got 21 heaping cups which I put in freezer baggies and froze. I got 4 new recipes off the internet and the first one I made twice already. I really need to look no further since this is the best use of rhubarb I’ve ever seen. They are Rhubarb Dream Bars and have a buttery crust with a custard type filling. They are good warm or chilled. If you’ve never tried Pie Plant (rhubarb), you’re missing out!
New Weber gas grill

New Weber gas grill

Hubby got a new gas grill on May 21st also. We’ve been without one since around Nov. We normally grill all year round, no matter the weather. This time hubby wanted a Weber brand which is supposed to be superior to others. It’s a smaller grill than what we had but so much nicer! In almost 30 years that Greg & I have been together,¬† he’s done all the grilling. I always thought of it as a man’s thing. Now with this grill, I’ve started grilling and found out it’s not hard at all! I’ve been grilling a ton of veggies that I would normally roast in the oven: eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, etc. I’m having a lot of fun with it. I won’t be taking all the grill duties away from hubby but it’s a good thing to know how to use it. Now we can get back to having salmon and sweet potatoes a couple times a week.
Mom at 94

Mom at 94

My mom turned 94 on April 23rd. It seems like things are getting harder daily. I don’t know if they’re necessarily harder for her, but they’re harder for me. It is no longer a full time job to be her caretaker, it is a 24/7 job. A lot more “babysitting” and checking on her is needed than ever before. We’ve scaled back our treasure hunting a lot so I’m not gone from her as much. We went out one day the past few weekends. Mom’s latest thing is drinking water. She hadn’t drank much water her whole life. She would avoid drinking it due to her bladder. I know she needs some to keep hydrated but don’t want to force it on her. I’ve always kept a filled water bottle next to her on the couch. She knew it was there but never reached for it. Now she drinks the whole thing and then keeps handing me the bottle. I like to fill it and put it back next to her but she doesn’t remember drinking it. I’m sure you can see where this is going long before I could. She would drink 3 or more bottles of water in row. I had to put a stop to that since the diaper only holds so much. She’s only been in diapers in the daytime for the past 2 days. After she literally “shit the bed”. It had come out of the diaper and was just smeared over the entire bed and her. So doing laundry has been keeping me busy. I¬†finished up everything in the house that could possibly be laundered a few days ago, only to have to do several loads in a row. Her sheets and mattress pad, her thin quilt, a huge load of towels and her nightgown. A month ago or so she must’ve done the same with more solid material because when I went to wake her, she had both hands covered in it and I had to cut it out of her pubic hair. Never a dull moment! :-{
Wood for project.

Wood for project.

Hubby’s been busy too since he started a new project. It’s been awhile since he’s done any carpentry. He loves it and misses it. I know he gets a lot of pride and satisfaction by building something from scratch. Lord knows he’s got enough tools for every conceivable task. He’s now making a wooden floor on the muddy outside area along the north side of the house. It’s been fenced in there for years but we can’t use it. We’ve even tried planting in there (onions and beets) but it’s so muddy you can’t walk and it gets no sun. We’d like to use that wasted space for storage. If nothing else for our packing supplies like cardboard boxes and bubblewrap. It would free up a large portion of the garage which we can’t even walk in now since we are saving boxes we may use “someday” in there. I could joke and say that the tv show “Hoarders” wanted to come here to film our mess (I mean house) but they said it was a safety hazard…
Hubby before starting.

Hubby before starting.

We haven’t taken any vacation yet this year and are starting to get antsy. The RV is in the repair shop now for the horn (which turns out it was “unplugged”) and the cruise control which needs to be replaced. Neither one has worked in at least 2 years. Our “all inclusive” warranty lasts until Nov. so I wanted this fixed while we have it. We still have a $50 deductible but we can handle that. The RV dealership couldn’t fix those 2 items since they are part of the engine/motor and not the “coach”. So that was part of the holdup too. Taking it to a Ford dealership that works on RVs. Since we’re trying to get the most out of Greg’s limited vacation time, we are thinking of taking the 4th of July holiday week. Then he only has to use 3 days (30 hours). We’d like to take our anniversary week or my birthday but it doesn’t work out. We’ll probably go up to WI, if we’d gone any sooner, we might’ve frozen to death.
Sky, clouds and sun. This tree now is full of green growth. 2 months makes a huge difference.

Sky, clouds and sun. This tree now is full of green growth. 2 months makes a huge difference.

May 21st Greg & I went to the doctor. Yes, that was a ridiculously busy day! A trip to the doctor,¬†one estate sale, buying plants, planting herbs, getting a new grill…No¬†wonder I don’t have time to blog.¬†Ha! ¬†It’s been 2 years since I had a pap smear so I just bit the bullet and called. We go in together and it went fairly well. Greg’s blood pressure is forever high even though he’s on 3 blood pressure meds. It runs in his family. The doc added a small extra dose in the evenings of one he takes. The doctor actually said to me, “I pronounce you healthy”. Which was kind of a relief until I brought up my spinal stenosis. The past 2-3 months it has gotten A LOT worse. I used to only have pain when standing or walking. Now I have pain when laying in bed, when first sitting down, when bending over, etc. I used to only have the pain in my legs like shin splints. Now it is more like charley horses and it’s in my back too. He told me to go back to Dr. Hennessy who he sent me to 2 years ago. Then he said it wasn’t that bad but told me to lose weight. I hate to go back when I haven’t lost weight. I may be 5 lbs. down if any. Food is a comfort to me with all I have to deal with. I guess that makes me a failure. I need to find out if I can get an injection that might help. I really don’t want surgery. He scared me a lot saying that if I wait too long, I may have permanent nerve damage and the pain will never go away. Yikes. I got an order for a mammogram and finally called to make the appt. for that. It’s set for Tues. June 23rd at 10:50 am. One thing at a time, I guess.
I'm in love with these 2 dress forms. I call them my dummies.

I’m in love with these 2 dress forms. I call them my dummies.

The doctor told us to stop back sometime this summer to get our blood drawn. He wants to do it after fasting for at least 8 hrs. I mentioned that I heard on the news that you can tell from a blood test if you have cancer. He said that wasn’t true and then got into a long tangent about cancer really coming down to “bad luck”. I guess I should feel lucky then! I also asked about a mole on my left boob that looked suspicious to me. It was embarrassing to have to show him but I was sick of worrying about it. A friend I knew from slams died last year from skin cancer so that certainly puts things in perspective. He said it was fine but keep an eye on it. I told him I wanted to get a bunch of moles/ skin tags cut off. He’s always so brutally honest that he said that it didn’t make sense since they would most likely grow back again in 6 months! I had that happen with one already so I do believe him. After going to Dr. James for 19 years, he finally gave us his personal phone number. I doubt we’ll ever use it but it’s nice to know we can if we need to.
A terrific read.

A terrific read.

Treasure hunting has been interesting. We’ve gotten really interested in old books. Preferably over 100 years old. I used to be so fussy about the condition and I still would rather have the binding intact but now if something looks like a captivating read, I don’t pass it up (if the price is right). Which brings me to opening another Etsy shop just for vintage ephemera (books, postcards, greeting cards, stickers, letters, etc.). I call that one Ephemera¬†Addict to compliment my DejaVu Junkie vintage shop. I am also starting a similar shop on Instagram called Ephemera Junkie. It’s not even that I’ve had so much success on there but want to have an outlet to share my love of all things paper. I just finished a swell book from 1926 called My Friend The Dog. It’s a bunch of short stories about collies. They all have fairly happy endings which I like. The world doesn’t have enough happy endings to suit me! In one of the stories, a dog gets in a fight and is injured and it’s 2 weeks before he can “resume the burden of living.” I get such a kick out of the way things were worded back then. It is a sheer delight to partake of the mindset and morals of the past.
My friend the dog. Aka Elvis.

My friend the dog. Aka Elvis.

On that note, I’m going to step away from the computer and resume the burden of living. ūüôā

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The oddest thing happened that I simply must chronicle. On Memorial Day evening, we were staying up a little later than usual since Greg was off the next day. Around midnight we were watching some type of trash tv that I look forward to like “Catfish”. All of a sudden, I looked down to my left and saw a cat walking next to where I was sitting. This wouldn’t be strange at all except we don’t have a cat. We have 3 dogs. I’m on the left side of the couch with a small end table between me and Mom’s loveseat. I hear a “meow” so I had looked up and when I saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It turned right around and went back the other way. I turned to Greg and told him a cat had come in the house! Meanwhile, all 3 dogs were laying in the room¬†with us (sound asleep) and oblivious to this feline visitor! ūüôā Greg & I got up and started searching for it in the house and then went on the deck to see if we could see it in the yard. The dogs came too but didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Greg said he didn’t see it and started to say that maybe I’d imagined it. Don’t you love husbands?! He plays a Mah Jong game on his ipad and it makes animal noises so he thought it had been the cat’s meow on there. I told him I was sure of what I’d seen.

I bet everyone is wondering how on earth a cat could get into our house in the middle of the night. I’ve blogged before about the Magic Mesh we have on our 2 sliding glass doors. In place of a screen door,¬†a screen is attached by velcro and held together by magnets. Since we have a fenced in yard (5′ tall), we want the dogs to be able to come and go in nice weather. They can let themselves in and out to go to the bathroom, chase squirrels, sun themselves or just run. You can imagine how much of a slave I am to opening the door for them if we didn’t have it. They all insist on coming in and out at different times. It could be one after another but not together. You just start something and they want in or out. So we’ve been in love with the Magic Mesh since we first tried it a few years ago.

At bedtime that night (about an hour later), I took Mom up to bed and Greg takes the dogs out. The dogs immediately found the cat and chased it up onto one of the fence posts. The cat sat up there taunting them while they barked and jumped. Greg took a leaf and tickled the cat’s nose and it jumped to the other side. As far as we know, it hasn’t been back since. The funny thing is I’ve been wanting a cat for years! I had one as a kid. Greg thinks the dogs wouldn’t be good around it but I think they would. We’d have to introduce it slowly. I’d hate to think what would have happened if the dogs had woken up when the cat came in. It would’ve been like a scene out of “Christmas Vacation” where the dog is chasing the squirrel in the house.

It really caught us off guard thinking how lucky we were that it wasn’t some other wild animal that came in like a squirrel or skunk! I’ll keep you posted if the cat returns and we end up adopting it. ūüėČ

 

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Into every life, a little rain must fall, right?! A little is the key! I’ve had enough rain to last me a lifetime. I’m over my quota so it’s someone else’s turn. The Powers That Be seem to think my life doesn’t have enough stress. So last week Wed. (June 26th) our basement flooded again. ūüė¶ It had only been two months since the last time! That’s some kind of record. Early that morning a heavy rain front had come over our town and just sat there. We got about 5″ of rain in a short amount of time. We’ve been getting a lot of rain this year¬†and have only had to water the garden ONCE. That’s unheard of. Usually I’m out watering every single night. The roads were like rivers and hubby couldn’t get out of the driveway to go to work. First he called his boss and said he’d be late. Then after a few hours passed and the street still wasn’t clear, he emailed her and told her he was taking a sick day. It would be nice for him to be off under other circumstances. In this case, we’d both rather he went to work than have the basement flood again. It basically ruined the whole weekend. The city put out barricades so people wouldn’t drive on the flooded streets and that was it. The sewers can’t handle the excess water and back up (it’s fairly clean rain water but still) which gets SO OLD. We got about a foot of water in the basement. After a couple hours, hubby unscrews the standpipe and the water goes right down. Then we had to suck up the rest of it with our rug shampooer. Then shampoo the rug. It just never seems to end. I had clothes hanging down on the line which made it inconvenient. It’s better than one time when I had all the dirty clothes spread out in piles on the floor, ready to wash.

 

Flooded street in front of our house

Flooded street in front of our house

Hubby’s been on his diabetes meds for just over 2 weeks and he still hasn’t got it under control. He is still taking readings 3 times a day and the best of the 3 is 2 hours after lunch when it is almost normal. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to us why it’s high when it is. I guess we’ll learn more over time.
 
My foot and legs have gotten a LOT more painful, just in the past week. This morning I woke up and it felt like I had polio. I could hardly walk. My foot was better but my right ankle wouldn’t bend. My legs are stiff and I feel hobbled. It is so discouraging to me. I am anxious to hear what the orthopedic specialist says next week. Yesterday I cut the dogs’ walk 4 blocks short. Today I did the whole thing but so much slower than usual. Plus it hurt like the dickens. Today is the first day where I can believe I’ll end up in a wheelchair someday. Of course, if I have anything to say about it, it won’t happen.
 
Friday we got a phone call with bad news from my mother-in-law. Greg’s older sister Linda’s cancer is back. She’s been in remission just under 3 years. She had such a bad bout with the chemotherapy for hairy cell leukemia in 2010 that we don’t know if she’ll go through that aggressive of a treatment again. She’s the strongest person we know and is a registered nurse. We support her no matter what she decides to do. She is leaving on a family vacation with her husband, daughter and son-in-law out to Seattle on July 5th. They are visiting her other daughter and her husband. She didn’t want to give up her vacation to start chemo since she’s afraid it might be her last trip and she was looking forward to it so much. Her immune system is compromised due to the cancer. Let’s hope she has a wonderful time on her vacation! This news was just another reminder to make the most of each day we have, even if they’re shitty ones.
 
I haven’t gone into detail about how my home life¬†has changed since¬†Mom’s dementia has gotten worse. I will probably write about it at some point. In the meantime, I’m going to include an incident here that happened on the day we flooded. I make my mom take a bath once a week. I try to do it while hubby’s at work. I’d planned to do it Wed. and then he ended up being home which turned out to be a good thing. We don’t have any special contraptions for the bathtub like railings or a walk-in or even a chair in there. It is just a regular tub. Mom’s always been able to get in and get out on her own. The past several months I’ve been getting everything ready for her. Filling the tub (she can’t regulate the water temp), getting towels ready, her bathbrush and washcloth, soap, etc. Then I pick out her clothes for after the bath. I draw the bath and help her get in. I put the toilet lid down and sit there and watch¬† her. I make sure she washes her whole body. To get in, she kneels down, facing the back and then turns on her side and then onto her back and then sits up. The last few times she’s been balking when it’s time to get out. She has to do the exact same thing in reverse. She starts yelling, “I can’t!” and then I tell her she can and explain how to do it. Last week she wouldn’t get out. She said she couldn’t and tried a few times and gave up. I can’t lift her out of the tub and I was kind of freaking out. All I could think of was that I’d have to call the ambulance to have them lift her out. Hubby heard us yelling back and forth (Mom’s deaf and her hearing aids are out so I have to yell) and came up to help. Bless his heart, he came in and helped lift her out. It was a living, breathing nightmare that was reduced to such relief.
 
This past weekend we were at an estate sale and they had these suction grip handles¬†for the bathroom. One was in the package, the other looked new and was out of the¬† package. We got them both for $5. We are going to try them this week on the wall and top of the bathtub so Mom has something to grab to get out of the tub. I hope it works! It will make my life a whole lot easier! This is just ONE thing I deal with on any given day…the fact that it happened on the day we flooded was almost too much to bear.
 

Super Grip Handles for the bathtub

Super Grip Handles for the bathtub

Also on Wed. there was a message on our answering machine.¬†Hubby and I had walked the dogs that afternoon to see how much water damage was in the neighborhood. It was Gottlieb Hospital calling to say that I’d had a mammogram on the 13th, something had looked suspicious¬†and they needed me to come back for more views. My heart stopped before I even heard the rest of the message. For one thing, my doctor’s office had called and I’d had to call back the week before and they’d told me my mammogram was normal. For another, I’ve had to go back for more views a few times in the past (before they went to digital mammos, I think) and every time, they’d sent a letter, never called! I figured this was more serious if they were calling! The woman on the phone then went on to say “Wait a second, you already came back once.” I’m standing there listening, still in awe. I hadn’t gone back. Then she goes on, “Let me call you back, I think they gave me the wrong information. You are fine. You are to come back in one year.” Finally she said “Let me finalize this and I’ll call you back.” Of course, she never did call back!! That hospital is seriously fudged up!! I knew someone screwed up but still, how many things can they get wrong?! The answer: ALL OF THEM. I’ve been lucky not to really need much health care in my lifetime. It was just frosting on the cake of the day I had. Just call me Lemony Snicket. My life is A Series Of Unfortunate Events! ūüėČ
 
So I don’t end this on a glum note, I have to tell you about the highlight of our weekend. On Saturday, our dogs had an impromptu playdate with a Shiba Inu named Asher. He’s 4 years old and weighs 48 lbs. He used to be 53. My Amber just turned 5 yrs. old and weighs 21 lbs. We’d met Asher and his human family a few times before and they’d played while on leashes. We were walking our furkids in front of their house and they came out and told us to wait. They all came out and brought Asher. He is a sweet dog but because of his breed, he gets afraid of other dogs and sometimes acts aggressively. It is only because others don’t understand how he is. He needs more socialization with other dogs but nobody else wants to take the time to let their dog go up to him SLOWLY. Amber is the same way. While Elvis and Ivy run up to anyone and want to be petted and kissed or play with other dogs, Amber has to be held back a few seconds. She has to just stand and look at the other dog and get used to him/her. Then I slowly let her get close and then she’s fine. Asher’s family wanted me to take just Amber in their backyard to play with Asher. I went but Amber wanted her brother and sister and didn’t know what to do. They were fine together but Amber wasn’t in the play mood. Then I came out with her and Greg took Elvis inside while the aunt held Ivy on her leash. Elvis loved it and was running like mad with Asher. He then came up to the gate and was looking at us wondering why we didn’t go in. So then we all went in and all 4 dogs ran loose and played and had a good old time. Asher really took to Elvis but then who doesn’t?! Neither Greg or I had our iphones with us but both of Asher’s parents, his aunt and grandma all were taking video of them playing. It really lifted our spirits and was so much fun. The dogs loved it and we loved it. I could’ve watched it all day! They told us several times to come back anytime. That we should ring the bell when we’re walking by and they can play again. Maybe we’ll have to do something like that over the holiday weekend and make sure we get some pictures or video!
 

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Every week there’s something that throws us off our game. As some would say, “God has a sense of humor.” I need to write a post on religion and God since I’ve got kind of a weird take on the whole thing. In the mean time, I’ll just say I like to believe that God has better things to do than mess with our lives and sit back and laugh.

¬†2 months ago we went through the ordeal of switching our insurance–the whole she-bang of house, 2 cars and RV. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to change things because I just KNOW I’m going to have problems. Like if I move a chair to a different location, the leg will fall off. Better to leave it where it is. Better to pay more for insurance than risk being toyed with by a nationally known company. Basically, this is living in fear and accepting that what you know is less scary than what you don’t know. So we’d had the same insurance for years (I detailed this all in my post 2 months ago “One part snow, 99 parts chaos”) and it was hubby’s idea to switch. We managed to choose AAA and feel “fairly good” about the decision and the savings. We were hoping not to even think about it again for many years (with the exception of paying when the premium comes due).
 
Since I obviously don’t know how to make a long story short, last Monday (April 22nd) we got a notice (actually 2)¬†from AAA in the mail. Hubby brought it in when he got home from work. So we didn’t even get to greet each other and he handed me the mail. I saw the first notice, opened it and then yelped, “they’re raising the insurance on the 2 cars and RV by $35!” All it said for a reason was “Rating Factor Adjustment”. You could see the wheels turning in both our minds, we haven’t had any accidents or tickets and the vehicles are getting older. We were both worked up about that and he immediately got on the phone with AAA but the underwriters were gone for the day already. Meanwhile, I opened the 2nd notice and about fainted! AAA was cancelling our house insurance as of May 24th! ūüė¶ How on earth could this be?! Reading further, all it said was because of a dog. When we first signed up, they told us someone would drive by to look at the house. They wouldn’t need to come in, just look around outside. I was looking for them steady for the 2 weeks after we signed up and no sign. We both forgot about it until we got this notice. Hubby talked to one of the guys on the phone and he said the car rates going up had nothing to do with the house insurance being¬†cancelled but he couldn’t give us a reason WHY they had gone up. As for WHY we had gotten cancelled, the records showed the underwriter had come to the house and “heard” an aggressive dog. He didn’t SEE one. Ok, we have 3 dogs, 2 weigh 21 lbs., the other weighs 23 lbs. None of them are aggressive. One barks but only at first, one can’t bark and one is deaf. None are the breeds that are on the banned list like pitbulls. They are all good dogs that are fine around people and most other dogs. We’ve had dogs for the entire time we’ve lived here and in 17+ years, none have ever bitten anyone. A few weeks ago, we had the Directv guy in our house for 2 hours and the dogs were fine! Today, the meter reader for the gas co. came inside and I took him into the basement and the dogs were¬†inside¬†and loose and just fine. So we can’t figure out where the AAA guy got the idea that any of our dogs were aggressive. The oddest thing is he never knocked on the door or called either our home phone or cell phone. He could have met the dogs and seen for himself if he was worried. To think that a company just cancels a policy without even a phone call letting you know what the problem was and seeing if it could be rectified. How unprofessional.
 
On top of all this, hubby and I were worried that we would have to appeal this which involves a lot of paperwork and who knows what else. If we let it stand, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to get house insurance elsewhere after you tell them you got cancelled! Plus the rates would be astronomical. Hubby was told to email the company and tell them that none of the dogs had ever bitten anyone or had any special training to attack people. He did it and in the meantime, we got another notice saying that we were going to be cancelled and get X amount of money back. Finally on Friday, the guy from AAA hubby was working with called to say it was taken care of and we won’t be dropped. Now of course we’re wondering if after May 24 a refund check will show up in the mail and we’ll have to deal with this over again. I feel like we can never relax and breathe easy and think that things are taken care of because time after time, we find out nothing is ever over!
 
Today we got a notice saying our car and RV insurance rate is going back down…Oy vey. Now we’re wondering if we want to stay long term with a company like this or if we’re going to have to switch again in Sept. In either case, I don’t want to think about it anymore. The worst thing about this whole ordeal was how we ended up fighting because hubby got so mad and stressed out. I was stressed out too but he lashes out at me which takes awhile for me to get over. You’d think after almost 28 years together we’d have figured out how to get along under the worst of circumstances. For the most part, we get along great. It’s when problems arise that it puts wear and tear on our relationship. We no longer fight when the basement floods so there’s that. ūüėČ

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I thought I’d finally achieved a schedule for blogging.¬†Posting once¬†a week seemed almost manageable. Then life intervened as it tends to do and I’m back to doing it whenever I can squeeze in a spare moment. Last Wed. it was too cold to walk the dogs. I usually feel guilty if I don’t do it.¬†This time¬†I was almost giddy with the anticipation of having an extra half hour of free time! Turning over in my mind all the things I wanted to do and I’d have to choose whether to blog or do something else. Instead the decision was made for me when the phone rang at 9:45 am.

 
It was my postal friend Doreen. My coworkers from the time when I worked at the Post Office are like family. I liken it to the comaraderie of soldiers in battle. The fact that we all survived what goes on there (untold to this point) gives us an unbroken bond that time and mileage can’t break. Doreen lives in Milwaukee so I¬†hardly ever see her¬†but we try to keep in touch. We have always been able to talk for hours but the last few times we chatted, I had to limit it to only an hour. Last week Doreen called unexpectedly to say she’d just gotten back from a week in Tucson, AZ and had taken the day off to recover. My extra free half hour evaporated into thin air along with more so that we were on the phone until just after noon. It was good to catch up but I always feel like something else has to suffer when I do it. We talked about many things and then she told me about making her own laundry detergent. It sounds so interesting with ingredients like Borax, Zote soap, baking soda, Oxy Clean, Purex crystals¬†and Arm & Hammer washing powder. Yesterday I received a small envelope¬†containing a¬†sample of it in the mail from her. I just finished all our laundry last week but I am anxious to try it. Between her and a few others on Twitter, it sounds like it’s the best thing since sliced bread! I just can’t figure out why there’s such a trend now to going back to the olden days when everyone made their own stuff. Of course it’s cheaper but lack of time is where convenience and laziness comes into play.
 
What else has been going on? Last weekend, after a week of getting quotes and comparing, we finally switched our car, RV and homeowners insurance. We’d had Progressive for our RV insurance since June 1998 when we first started RVing. We’re on our 3rd (used) RV and have always stayed with them. We used to have a $1000 deductible (later switched to $500)¬†which sucks since we had to put in a couple of claims. One was back when 3 punk¬†teenagers broke into both skylights in the RV, shimmied in and vandalized, stole and partied inside. This was inside the “secure” place we used to store it at. They also broke into 29 others the same night. It happened like 2 days before we were going to leave on a trip and had to cancel and have the motorhome in for repair for 2 months! It was a nightmare going to court. One of the kids didn’t even show up, the others the judge didn’t even let¬†or any of the victims speak. He just gave them a slap on the wrist. One used the excuse of being bipolar so he wasn’t responsible. We actually heard the lawyer tell the kid NOT to get a job or he’d have to make restitution to us. Another time we had a claim when the wind blew the sides off the RV. It’s as freaky as it sounds. Anyway, Progressive was very good about it so we decided to keep them. 2 years ago, our car insurance, Constitutional Casualty, went belly up! We got a notice from the state saying we could get part of our premium back if we showed proof of payment. Well, we’d recently switched banks and the only proof I had was the entry written in the checkbook which didn’t count. So we got screwed there. We blamed our no good insurance agent who’d recommended the company. We decided to go with Progressive for our 2 cars also. We had them rewrite the policy for the RV (minus the agent)¬†so we would get a multi-vehicle discount. Well, every time they send us propaganda or reminder notices, it would say “you’ve been a customer for 1 year”. All the years with them previously didn’t count. ANNOYING. Both the car and RV insurance EACH¬†went up $30 a year. We’ve had no accidents, tickets and the cars are getting older and I’m over 50 now. None of it made sense! We called Progressive to get a new quote or see if they could lower the premium before we started looking elsewhere. First when we asked WHY it went up, they said they look at EVERYONE in our neighborhood’s claims and go by that. RIDICULOUS.
 
When we mentioned about having RV insurance with them since 1998, they don’t see it in their records. It shows since 2004, according to them. So much anger just fueled us to get as many quotes as we could. Now with our homeowners’ insurance, we’ve been with State Farm since we moved here in 1995. We’ve never filed a claim and yet we pay $900 annually. It is outrageous, we’ve just been too lazy to look into a different company. We got quotes bundling the 3 vehicles and the house. Liberty Mutual looked promising. Me to hubby:¬†“I thought they were kind of a sketchy company for old people.” Hubby: “We ARE old people.” Me: <blink>. To make a long story short, we went with AAA. With Progressive, we had been paying $410 twice a year for my ’93 Pontiac Bonneville & hubby’s ’04 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The RV was $600 a year. Now we’re paying $435.13 for 6 months for all 3. The house insurance is down to $574. This is all for identical coverage. Hopefully, we’ll feel the savings and they’ll be a fair company to deal with.
 
We hate insurance. It’s a necessity but it seems like we are always paying and never get to use it. I guess everyone feels this way. Dealing with the insurance agents was awful. For trying to get your business, some of them are downright rude! They won’t let you get a word in edgewise. At least that’s over with.
 
Sunday night I finally broke down and ordered a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) light from Amazon. I’ve been thinking of it for years and finally my Twitter friend Liza told me which one to get. I will take pictures and post all about it when it arrives. Every year the lack of sunshine really messes with my mood. I’ve been SO TIRED lately, that all I can say is how tired I am all the time. February is the worst for me and since Feb. is almost over, I thought I might just wait until the fall. Then I realized how much I’m suffering and to just give it a try. I get so down that I don’t even go on Twitter, I don’t take any pictures for Instagram, etc. I just withdraw and I know it has something to do with how dark and gloomy this time of year is. I’ve really got my hopes up that this does the trick!
 

Snow day for dogs

Snow day for dogs

Last Wed. hubby stopped to get milk on his way home from work and Dominick’s was out of milk. They let him have 2 half gallons (the last 2 in the store!) for the price of a gallon. Every time a snowstorm is predicted, people buy up everything like they might never get fed again. Anyway, while he was there, he got me some spring flowers. Beautiful tulips in a pot that I can replant if I want in the fall. They hadn’t opened yet when he gave them to me but they’ve been opening more every single day. Today with a blizzard outside, they are fully open! I love having fresh flowers in the house. It always makes me think of¬†Nikki Newman on¬†The Young and The Restless who always has huge arrangements of fresh flowers in her home. Yes, I want to live my life like the GOOD parts of a soap opera! ūüėČ
 

Spring tulips in the middle of winter

Spring tulips in the middle of winter

I’d been planning to make a pork roast in the crockpot for over a week. Doreen told me about what she put on hers: a can of mushroom soup, a packet of onion soup mix and a can of Pepsi. I’m always game for anything so I did it yesterday. We didn’t have any regular Pepsi only the XFactor Pepsi which we bought because it was $1.29 for a 12 pack. Later on we found out it is Dragonfruit flavor. I don’t even know what that is but hubby tried it and loved it. He’s been using it to make Milk & Pepsi for him and my mom. He’s been a fan since he was a kid and saw them drink it on Laverne & Shirley. I’ve tasted his and it’s ok but I can’t get past the fact that it’s soda and milk. Although I like rootbeer floats and that’s not that much of a stretch… Anyway, I put that on the pork and it turned out great. I had a¬†HUGE roast that I’d gotten for half price because it was reduced for quick sale at Sam’s Club. I only buy those if they look perfect, not a hint of “oldness” to them. I froze it right away and it was just as good as if I’d paid an enormous amount. The roast was SO BIG it was all I could fit in my crockpot. I had bought a slew of vegetables to go with it so had to go¬†in the basement and unpack my other crockpot. I keep it in the box and only use it in situations like this. Both have ceramic inserts, the one I had the meat in has a metal holder, the veggie one is plastic. Both are the same size but the veggie one has a divider in the middle. So I filled the other crockpot with veggies and added a can of chicken broth so it wouldn’t burn. I added several small onions, 2 parsnips, 3 turnips, 1 rutabaga, 3 tiny Linda squash, 2 decent sized yellow squash, etc. Then I made my mashed potatoes. I don’t brag unless I know for a fact but these are the best mashed potatoes in the whole world and these are! I peel and quarter about 7-8 potatoes (at least 2 meals worth), boil and when done, drain and put on low heat to dry out. Add 1 8 oz. package cream cheese cut into 8 cubes, 3 heaping teaspoons minced garlic (I use the jarred garlic in liquid), a splash of milk and a hand potato masher. NO BUTTER or SOUR CREAM is needed. Mash and stir with a spoon to get mixed well. Add quite a bit of salt and some pepper. They are to die for. They need NO gravy. This is comfort food at its best. Each potato ends up with about 1 oz. of cream cheese. I let the port roast go about 8 hours because I don’t like it sliced, I like it shredded. I take it out and tent it in aluminum foil for 20 min. or so, then shred. Sometimes I add it back into the liquid when I cook it with veggies but usually just leave it on the platter. Then I put a portion of shredded pork on a plate, ladle the veggies and broth over it and place the mashed potatoes along side. We’ll probably get 4-5 meals out of it and still have meat left to use for tacos, burritos or barbeque pork sandwiches.
 

Amber with basketball

Amber with basketball

It’s been snowing since 11 am and it’s a blizzard out there. Hubby tells me I call every time it snows a blizzard. Only if I don’t want to go out in it! ūüėČ Today at 4:30 pm, instead of finishing this, I decided to go outside in the backyard with the dogs. I took pictures while they played in the snow. They just have the best time and it’s contagious! It did wonders for my mood. Amber had fun playing with the basketball in the snow while Ivy & Elvis roughhoused. They are the definition of “horseplay”. They knocked over the sunroom lamp and broke the shade today but I can’t be mad at them. They are DOGS. We need to follow their example and live life in the moment and enjoy whatever comes our way.
 
Ivy & Elvis roughhousing

Ivy & Elvis roughhousing

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Last week¬†hubby was working later hours¬†so we were able to take Elvis in to the vet together. It was for a routine vaccination but we finally got official confirmation that our baby boy is officially deaf. Not hard of hearing but stone deaf. We’ve had him for¬†13 months and for a large part of that we’ve had suspicions that he couldn’t hear. We didn’t want to believe it but now we know for sure. We’re not devastated or sad at this knowledge. He has adapted so well, he’s as good or better than any hearing dog we’ve ever had. His disposition is sweet as pie all the time. He is happy 100% of the time which isn’t the case for the average dog. He’s always joyful and gets along with every single person and dog he’s ever met. It makes me wonder if he has that personality because of being deaf or in spite of it. Back in March, we took him to the St. Patrick’s Parade in Erin, WI. We marveled at how he handled the crowds, other animals and noise so well. Now we know. Most dogs would’ve been overwhelmed by the crowding conditions and noise level. He did great!
ElvisandIvy
 
Elvis has always wanted to be right next to me, he insists on sitting or laying next to me at all times. I just thought he was an especially loving little guy. Instead I figured out he does that so he knows when I move or leave. Even when I’m cooking in the kitchen, he likes to lay on my feet. When he barks, which isn’t often, his bark is so shrill, it’s almost ear piercing. He doesn’t realize how he sounds since he can’t hear himself. We’ve clapped behind his head, snapped our fingers, meowed, whistled and no reaction. He is very alert but only visually. If a light goes on upstairs, he looks up and may even go upstairs to see who’s up there. The other dogs pay no attention when lights are turned on. He is very hard to teach. I’ve tried getting him to shake hands which was always easy for all the other dogs to learn. I’ve tried several times a day with treats, without, etc. & he doesn’t catch on. We use hand signals with him and he will sit or lay but I think it’s more from mimicking the other dogs. I look back on how frustrated I was earlier this year with him. He knocks a lot of things over and has no idea since he can’t hear that something fell. I had so much trouble getting his attention and keeping his attention when taking pictures or trying to teach him tricks. Even now if he’s in the backyard, with his back to me, I can’t always get him back in the house. I call the other 2 and they come right away. If he sees them come in, he follows. If he’s looking at something on the ground or the neighbor’s dog is by the fence, he won’t come in. I have tried waving toys from on the deck, pounding on the window and deck railing and nothing. Now I have to walk out there and wave until he sees me, then he’ll come in.
Elvisstatue
 
Elvis follows the lead of the other dogs constantly. When they jump up, he jumps up. When they run to the door, he runs to the door. He gets along great with his 2 sisters and I bet they have no idea he can’t hear. I’m sure it doesn’t matter to them. Elvis wouldn’t make a very good watchdog since you have to touch him to wake him up. Sometimes when he’s sleeping hard, if you move and bump him slightly, he jumps up almost frantic. He looks side to side trying to figure out what’s happening. Amber (our Shiba Inu) is our watchdog so we’ve got that covered.
Elvislaying
 
I think back on how he was a rescue dog and how lucky we are to have gotten him. If he had ended up with another family, they might not have kept him once they figured out he was deaf. He’s ours and we’ll keep him until his last breath or ours, whichever comes first. “Who rescued who?” is a decal I saw on a car while walking the dogs. It is so appropriate. We saved Elvis but he saved us too. The vet thinks he is part Dalmatian in addition to¬†being a¬†Jack Russell Terrier. Deafness seems to be most common in Dalmatians due to inbreeding. My mom is almost completely deaf. Since childhood she’s had profound hearing loss but was able to cope. Even working as a telephone operator which is an incredible feat. She didn’t start wearing hearing aids until she was about 71. They help her somewhat but she still misses a lot. She has relied on lip reading her whole life but as she’s gotten older she’s gradually losing that ability. It’s funny how life works¬†out.¬†Due to mom’s situation, we are more receptive to¬†having a hearing impaired dog than someone else might¬†be.¬†All we can do is treat¬†him like part of the family and love him¬†unconditionally.¬†
rescuepawprint

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I left out so much from vacation and even now am going to quickly cover some of the things that happened. The first weekend we were in Mississippi (Nov.9-11), they had the First Annual Tunica Balloon Bash. It was hyped to the nines and we didn’t really know what to expect. Supposedly they were having 10 hot air balloons at 4 different locations (casinos) for a total of 40. They were having “balloon glows” on Friday & Sat. evenings for 2 hours. This is where they turn on the propane torches to light up the balloons while they are on the ground. It looks really cool! We were staying at Sam’s Town RV Park, across the street from Hollywood where they were hosting some of the balloons. Hubby and I walked the dogs over there and we both got some really good pictures and I put some of them on Instagram. They were supposed to be offering tethered rides on one of the balloons but it was too windy. This would turn out to be the case for the ENTIRE WEEKEND. It was basically a bust. Not only were there only about 4-5 balloons at each location, they seemed to be doing it half-heartedly. They didn’t even stay the whole 2 hours. The crowd seemed almost half-hearted about it too. There was a fairly long line for rides and when they announced it was too windy, people just dispersed and lost all interest. I wasn’t particularly excited about the whole thing ahead of time but being that close to them in person piqued my interest. I figured it was no big deal but after seeing how hard it was to control the balloons in the wind, it looked quite scary to me! I would be afraid to go up in one unless it was completely calm. Even then, I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity again unless I seek it out. We drove over to the other casinos to see what they had going on for the balloon glow and it was even less! Either that or they’d packed up early.
 
There was supposed to be a balloon race on both Sat. & Sun. mornings and hubby and I actually got up at 7 am and went out to the location of the start¬†of the race (Tunica National Golf Course). We took the dogs with us in the car over there and everybody was just standing around outside. Finally around 8 am, we asked one of the guys (Dan) who was heading to his truck and he said it was cancelled due to the wind. We didn’t bother going on Sun. morning but heard it was the same situation again. How disappointed the balloonists must’ve been! They had to bring their baskets and gear, only to not even use it. Sidenote: I would never be able to fold up one of those balloons after inflation. I can’t even get something back in the original box once I’ve taken it out. ūüė¶ This Dan we met was one of the most friendly people we’ve encountered in the south. His father is a hot air balloon pilot and he’d come along. He does barge maintenance and repair. He’s the first one I met in that line of work. Anyway, he knew what a Basenji was (which is what our dog Ivy is) so that got the conversation going. Then we got to talking about other things in the area, etc. He gave us a business card and told us to call him that night about the balloon glow and that’s when we found out that it was too windy again. All in all, it was a creative idea and I can see the casinos and tourism put a lot of money into it. I would’ve liked to get one of the t-shirts but didn’t see them for sale anywhere! I’ll be curious to see if they try it again next year or nix it entirely. If it wasn’t for the wind, the temperatures were a perfect 72 degrees. If it’d been scheduled for the following weekend, it would’ve been in the mid-40’s!
 
This wasn’t the biggest disappointment while we were there. Saturday Nov. 10th there was a Chili Cookoff at Sam’s Town Casino sanctioned by whoever sanctions those things. It was supposed to be from 8 am until 5 pm. Every Sat. Hollywood has a breakfast buffet (the best around) for 77 cents (comp dollars). We were debating whether to skip it and go early for the cookoff. Who eats chili at 8 am?? Unless you’re working nights, that I can totally see. Instead we decided to go to the buffet early and then head over at 4 pm and still get an hour in at the cookoff. We got there and they were packing up!! It was $2 for all the samples you wanted. They woudn’t even take our money, and told us to go around and see if anyone had any left. We got 2 samples, one without beans (which to me is like gravy) and the other was stone cold. Blech! Hubby had been dreaming of this for weeks. That is one of my pet peeves that things are written/advertised everywhere that it goes until 5 pm and they don’t even stick to it. Maybe it’s our fault for coming at the tail end. This wasn’t 4:45 pm, it was exactly 4 pm. Also we noted how unfriendly a lot of these¬†types of group activities are. The ones entering the contest don’t try to be friendly to patrons, they would rather be downright rude and carry on conversations with their competition. I’ve seen this at anything we go to where we are “outsiders”. Like a dog club activity. We aren’t members but the woman we got Ivy from has invited us to a few things. We went twice and you get there and if you don’t go up to talk to people, no one will approach you and welcome you. For goodness sake! I am not that way. I like to make others feel welcome and can’t stand to see anyone on the sidelines. In the past when we went to some parties for Greg’s work, if someone was a table alone while everyone else was playing darts or some game, I’d be the first to go up to them and chat. I’m sure the alcohol had something to do with it but it’s still in my nature.
 
Other notable things that happened on vacation? I was cleaning the wax out of the tube of one of Mom’s hearing aids with a toothpick and it broke off. Gah! I tried pushing it through with another toothpick and it broke off on top of the other one. No budging it. I panicked at first, then sat down and tried everything until I fixed it. I took the tube out of the aid and manipulated it with a fingernail until I worked it out. Crisis averted.
 
Before vacation my watch band broke. My other watch had a dead battery. So I was wearing Greg’s huge watch (he has 3). I didn’t even care how it looked but while I had the time on vacation, we went to the outlet mall and I got a new battery for the one and a band for the other. There’s a collectibles shop there that has an owner that looks like Santa. He’s always helpful and nice as can be. So put that experience in the plus column
 
The zipper on my silver grey Gloria Vanderbilt (my fave pants brand ever) pants broke. I’ve only worn them a handful of times. I was “saving” them for vacation. I don’t think they can be fixed. It wouldn’t be worth it to spend $10 to get them fixed when I think I paid $20 for them on sale. ūüė¶
 
We got a dehydrator at the same outlet mall. We love the Kitchen Collection store there and always find something cool there. We’d been talking about dehydrating fruit, veggies and meat since getting a ton of beef jerky when we were in Michigan a few months ago. The one we got is a Presto which is made in my hometown of Eau Claire, WI. How ironic. This weekend I’ll get over to the library for a book of recipes so we can try it out. I especially want to do pineapple, bananas and papayas.
 
I’d add pictures to this post if it wouldn’t take me like 2 hours to do it. I just don’t have the time to spare right now. Thanks for hanging with me when I’ve been so scarce on here. ūüėČ BTW, I do realize I said “supposed to be” about a million times in this. “The best laid plans of mice and men”¬†and all that jazz. What kind of plans do mice make, exactly? Bring on the cheese.

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