Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Congratulations to Emily

All the studying is over. All the worrying. The trying to juggle a job and studying for one of the most important tests in her life. The PT certification test. And she passed it. Not just passed it but made an outstanding score. Life can now begin. Yay!

Ida Beth and Greg flew to Seattle today to spend some time with Karen, and I know they'll have a good time. Hoping they'll send me some pictures soon.

I'm still trying to organize pictures from the trip. Blogspot is being ornery today too and not letting me download pictures like I want to. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe not. It's time to work a lot of days in a row.

Back Home

It was a fun 10 days, and we did so much and saw so much I'm afraid I won't have time (or remember) to list everything. I'll start with a few pictures just riding around the town of Littlefield and on the way to Lubbock.

This is Mike and Elise's apartment. Pretty nice, actually. It's probably the only one with a chrysanthemum from Alabama out front. We had to bring it in the first night to keep it from being blown away.
I think this is the first cowboy boot birdbath I've ever seen. No doubt about where this house is located.
The Lone Star is everywhere you look.

I was fascinated by this hedge. I can't imagine how someone can trim this so perfectly straight - and on a ladder too, I guess.

Here's the bank where Mike banks. I went in 2 years ago when I was there and was amazed at the friendliness of the folks who work there. I asked directions to the library, and instead of just giving me directions, Beverly hopped in her car and drove me there. They've just remodeled, and it's beautiful. Here are some pictures. They don't do the architecture or the people justice.

I can't seem to find the sunset pictures, but this was a field of what I thought was corn, but Mike said it was a grain, milo. Or maybe this is the cotton. He told me it wouldn't be a good picture. The sky is beautiful though. When I'm not in a hurry, I'll find all these pictures. I had to transfer them from my camera to Elise's computer and then send them to myself by email, so they're all kind of mixed up and/or lost. Yeah, on enlarging it, I think I see cotton. Milo later!
I think this is milo.

I tried to get a picture of the prairie dogs in Lubbock - in the city in a little island with traffic whizzing all around them. I saw about 10, but they're kind of the color of their surroundings, so it was hard to get a picture. Click to see one. We also saw islands between traffic lanes of rabbits hopping around.

This is an interesting building I noticed on the way into Lubbock. I think it's on the Texas Tech campus, but I'm not sure what it is. Maybe someone will tell me.

That's all I have time for now. Got to get to work. Also don't have time to find out why this is blue and underlined.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Second Day of Travel

Now that I'm getting to the end of my vacation week, I'll try to go back and post some picures over the next week after I get home.

Darby and I spent the night in Mineola and left just at the right time to avoid the rush-hour traffic of Dallas. These are the only pictures I managed to take while driving.

We stopped for lunch past Dallas, Weatherford, I think. It was such an easy drive with my good book to listen to and pretty weather. Hwy 84 W was pretty much all the same - farm land, oil wells, and these windmills. They scare me. Remind me of a Stephen King movie. I believe each arm is 85 feet long. Creepy when they're moving in that slow-motion way they have.

These are the green-looking clouds we saw when the front came in as we got to Littlefield. There was a neat little mini-tornado coming down a side street. It kind of left it's dust all over us and disappeared.

The rest of my pictures have been sent to my computer or in the camera, so it's going to take me forever to catch up. Elise and I spent the day in Lubbock Wednesday, and Mike and I went to the Lubbock BBQ cook-off on Thursday. We met with a realtor and looked at houses one day. We did a lot of driving around. Visited the plant on Friday and met more people than I can remember. We went by and saw Betty's little quilting business, stopped by Doris and Jaime's house to see their new furniture. Went for a walk with them and the Chihuahuas Bella and Coco. Ate Tex-Mex at Jalisco's. Saturday was a do-nothing day, and we stayed in and watched some football games. Today we met Butch and Linda and went to Muleshoe for lunch. We then drove around more and talked, and I started packing and transferring these pictures. And there are a lot of them.

It's sad to leave, and we may not get to move here - lots of things have to come together - lots - but I think I'd be very happy here. Nicest people you'd ever find. Lots more later when I get home and get my thoughts organized. I'll drive to the other side of Dallas tomorrow and spend the night - maybe in Shreveport - then home on Tuesday. Then I'll be picking Mama up in Birmingham on Wednesday.

It's been a wonderful trip, but I'm afraid I'm going to pay for it with days and days of work for the pleasure of all these days off.

Elise's kitty, named Kitty. She put up with Darby invading her territory very graciously.

I forgot about Elise's alley cats. When I hear alley cats, I think of skinny slinking things fighting for food, but look what sweet things. The mother had the kittens and Elise sheltered and fed them and tried to give them away. She has only managed to give away the white one. If I could, I'd take the other 3. I hope she can find them homes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pictures From the Trip

Well. I've been working on trying to write something for days, but I never have time or get interrupted or something. I finally figured out how to transfer the pictures from my camera to Elise's computer, so I'll go back to the day we left, Sunday. Pictures are mainly of my travelling companion.

7:30 a.m. All ready to go. Bag of toys and treats for Darby. Stack of audio books and Diet Coke for me.

She's a good traveller once she gets over her excitement, but at a stop light somewhere near Selma, she spotted a man walking a dog and let them know how she felt about it.

Is that what I think it is?

How dare other creatures invade my space.

Close call, but I scared them away.

Sleeping all the way to Mississippi.

We stopped at the Welcome Center in MS, which was a nice break for us. Then I decided to veer off the path and go by and check on our old house near Meridian. It wasn't too far off the interstate, and I found all the right roads - Cotton Gin, Lizella (GPS lady pronounced it Lizee-ya, Briarwood, and then NE Pines. So many memories of a happy time. Passed by Nancy, Kay, and Barbara's old houses. Only Nancy still lives there, but there were no cars, and I didn't really want to pop in after 10 years! So I drove down to our house. The house next door had changed owners, and instead of 3 teenage boys living there, there was a man on the front porch watching 2 children in pirate costumes ride Big Wheels (or whatever they're called now). It may have been one of those boys grown up watching his children. I stopped and took a few pictures. It looks good. There's nothing sadder than revisiting an old dwelling place and having it look shabby. These people had added a big flower bed out front and cut down some trees, but Mike takes credit for everything with his many hours on the tractors cutting and hauling trees and brush to the big bonfire out back.

Looks like a dogwood that needs to come down though.
I used to know exactly how many steps from the house to the mailbox - 111, I think.

I'm being rushed to go to the BBQ Cook Off in Downtown Lubbock. I guess I just might taste some good food tonight. Yum. More later.

Blown Away

Darby and I had a pretty good 2-day trip to Littlefield. She's a good traveler but didn't quite understand why she had to stay in one place for 10 hours (with a few breaks). She experienced her first hotel stay and loved it (I loved the fact that she would bark when anyone came near my door). No one has to know she's a pushover and not an attack dog.

It was hotter than we expected on the trip. I had packed a whole range of clothes from outdated summer to corduroy fall. I did throw in a jacket at the last minute, and it's a good thing. I was so hot when I left Mineola, TX, yesterday morning that I put on the summer things and kept the air conditioner on the whole time. It got up to at least 92 degrees.

We stopped for a bathroom break once we got past Dallas. I think Mike says from beginning to end, the Dallas area of I-20 goes on for 85 miles. It was easy though, mainly because they enforce speed limits here and very few people were driving over 65-70. Very civilized, unlike Atlanta, for example. There also aren't a lot of tricky exits and changes that pop up suddenly. The wind was blowing so hard when we stopped that it nearly blew me over. Darby got to hear her first grackles, and they do carry on. It took her a long time to get her mind on the purpose for the stop. I'll try to figure out how to get my pictures saved on Elise's computer tonight.

This was my first experience with the GPS, and that was pretty helpful until I got to where I was supposed to get off I-20 to go to Lubbock. GPS lady had another route in mind and refused to accept the way I was going. She constantly chatted at me - RECALCULATING. In 0.3 miles do a U-turn. I kept thinking she would give in and pick up the fact that my way was better, but she kept on with that weary disgusted voice - recalculating - do a U-turn. I didn't realize that you had to completely reset the route until I had gone the long way around the Lubbock Loop. It wasn't way out of the way and things were familiar to me by that time, so I made it fine from there.

After Elise and Mike got home and we had eaten, I wanted to take Darby for a walk, but we only got as far as halfway across the parking lot. The sky had turned gray-green (scary) and the wind was blowing even harder, but this time there was dust/sand mixed in it that got in my eyes and mouth. And cold! I had on long sleeves but was shivering immediately. It rained during the night, and any time I woke up I could hear the wind rattling the window panes.

They've both gone to work now, and I'm trying to master a new computer. I think I like a laptop. If I could get my work software on one, I could go places all the time.

I'm going to bundle up and try that walk again in a few minutes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Congratulations to Dina

This is a little late, but Mike told me that Dina passed her certification test as a translator.

I asked him for the details, and here is his email:

She works now in a Guatemalan pharmaceutical importing company in with people in China whom they import from. She has been translating legal and business documents for some time for this company. location of the company is in downtown Guatemala City.

This involved going to school at night for a long time--one or two years; then passing the test which gives her a certification.

It is a big deal, and she will have more latitude in how she approaches her work life from here on. even to the possibility of having her own business, and working for herself, though that is not a given and would take a lot of things coming together.

I met her about four years ago, when i had to give a four hour presentation to the gigantic company, Koramsa, she was a secretary at (17,000 employees in one facility), and she was assigned to be my translator. as i recall, she did a good job with that. I had given her the written text of the presentation by email ahead of time.

The highlight of my several Guatemalan trips was riding from Koramsa back downtown with Dina...on a Guatemalan city bus. an old worn out Blue Bird bus from the USA packed to the gills with people and driven by an absolute animal. So rude to the passengers, including old decrepit ladies. an animal. the upside was that one way fare anywhere in the city was 1Q (quetal), about thirteen cents. Dina still mentions how much that bus ride impressed me.

We're very proud of you, Dina. If you want to add anything to this, please do, or correct if it's wrong. I know it took a lot of hard work.

I think we need you full time to translate this blog and its comments.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Love Surprises

Like this one:

It's the coffee maker I've been hinting for begging for mentioning for about 3 months ever since I had the coffee from Debby's brewer at the beach. Mike told me I could have one and/or a GPS for Christmas, but it seems he and Debby have been conspiring in the meantime, and the Fed Ex man surprised me this morning with an early birthday present.

Here it is doing what it's supposed to. And what a perfect day for it. I had lunch with Debby at Panera just now, and it was raining so hard we felt like drowned rats. Panera's nice hot soup did wonders to perk us up though.

And now for my first cup of Vermont Country Blend.

Just as good as I remembered.

These were the coffees/teas in the sampler pack that came with it. I made Mama a cup of green tea, and she loved it. It was even hot enough for her. Uh-oh, looks like I'm going to have to share!

In addition to the sampler, there was a separate box filled with all these goodies, even hot chocolate. I see my old coffee maker pouting back there. It will still get used sometimes, I'm sure.

This was such a good suprise. What a nice husband. But he's like that.
I think I'll keep him around. Debby too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another Critter Encounter

Seattle has its cougars and bears. I have my possums.

I think I'm going to have to borrow Alan's "armadillo repellant" if they don't stop coming into my yard. I don't think the latest one is the same one as the tree-climbing one from last week. It looks bigger - or maybe it just looks bigger when it's about 2 feet away and showing all its teeth.

Darby started having another barking fit tonight when I let her out, and I could tell from the persistent bark-bark-bark-bark nonstop bark-bark-bark that it was some sort of wild thing. I got a flashlight and was looking in the flower bed by the back door when all of a sudden the light shone on this:

It wasn't in a posing mood, and I wasn't in the mood to frame him up nicely, so this is the best picture I got. If you click and enlarge, you can probably see that open mouth full of needles making awful growly-hissing noises.

Between her barking, the critters growling, and my yelling at Darby to COME IN RIGHT NOW. NOW. COME, etc., we probably woke up the whole neighborhood. I tried to bribe her with cat treats and hit her with the broom and tried to slip a yardstick under her collar, but she was wound up and having fun.

At some point, the possum ran across the yard, and there was silence even though Darby chased it, and I thought that was the end of it. There are gaping holes in the bottom of the gate that it could have gotten out - the same way it came in, I guess, but I don't think possums are known for their intelligence.

So it's still there. Darby is still barking like crazy. The neighbors all hate me. I'm scared to go out there and drag her in because I might get bitten. At least she has her rabies shots. I don't. Surely she can't hold out to bark another hour.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Absolutely Last Fudge Discussion. On to Sand Sculpting

Unless someone wants to keep on talking about it.

Bottom line, Mike made Gaby's recipe and - it worked. I believe it was the first one. I'm not copying the email about it here because I'm sure half of it was made up, and I'm trying to gain control of my blog here. Only the truth.

Elise would never lie when she says:

I wish Dad had never made this fudge. It's my favorite dessert in the world and always has been since elementary school carnivals and The Fudge Shop at Six Flags when I was a teenager. It's one of the only foods that I CANNOT stop eating. It's overcast, drizzly, and cool here today,and I'm realllly appreciating my day off today. Fudge and rain. It doesn't get any better than that!

It sure looks like fudge. No one could mistake this for a sandwich topping.

To prove I'm over fudge, I found this on Mother Bird's blog. I thought it was directions on how to create those neat little sand sculptures in bottles that I've seen. I believe there's a small one in the attic now - a gift from some child that sat around for years until it finally got "put away." I knew I would never buy colored sand or dye any sand, but I decided to look at it anyway. It is fascinating. Try it. Of course, you'll have to follow the instructions (click the small gray box in the upper lefthand corner). I sat there and stared at the screen for 15 seconds waiting for something to happen. Then you have to learn a few rules, and it's time to create. My first one was pretty ugly because I had to try out all the colors and methods, but it soon gets to be fun - and there are sound effects. I dragged the mouse from peach to purple and just used those colors. Beautiful.

Also check out Erin's account of her funeral potatoes on the same page. She's an excellent writer, and this is so funny.

Poor Cougar

I thought Mike was just making up things when he mentioned the cougar loose in Seattle, but Emily confirmed it today.

"Ryan and I went out to dinner with one of my superiors and her husband, Brian Kurtson, only to find out that he is none other than Seattle's very own "Cougar Wrangler." He's a super smart guy, finishing up his PhD in animal research sciences. So our new friends then informed us of how many cougar and bear captures occur in our area. They were surprised that we were surprised to find out that it's perfectly normal to walk outside and see a bear going through your trashcan, or a cougar sunning in your yard. Ha. We thought we were protected somehow. Just like the people in Seattle probably thought they were. The fact that they found this big cat in seattle, and that it somehow made it in to the city, is apparently a really big deal. He crossed some land bridge to get in, Brian later told us. This recent capture was an especially big deal b/c the cougar made it into the actual city. ANYWAY, we enjoyed very much that he was one of the ones to capture the kitty. Here's a little clip - he's the second one interviewed, doesn't say much, but watch it so see how giant the cougar is! "

These news stories change quite often, so I hope it's still there. Here's a picture of the poor thing anyway.

He's just sedated!

It's sad to think he was just turned loose in a strange place feeling woozy and knowing no one. I hope he finds frends.

So much for the cats and dogs getting to enjoy the nice yard. Jack and Bella may have some good monster stories to share of what they've seen out the windows, if they could speak people language.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

And the Winner Is.....

For those anxiously awaiting the "cash awards" from Mike for solving the fudge mystery, the wait is over. The results are completely in English with a musical interlude and highly dissatisfying for everyone but Debby. (I think she secretly did want an award.) Suzanne from West Sussex would also like to enter the next contest to give it even more of an international touch.

Presentation of awards:
1. Debby: The only person who wanted nothing for herself. So I feel that I should honor her desire for nothing, and buy myself another $9 worth of maple syrup. First place: all my best wishes to the lady from Looo Verne.

2. Elise: Second place: The west Texas wind. Way out here we have a name/ for rain and wind and fire/The rain is Tess, the fire is Joe/And we call the wind Mariah/ Mariah, Ma-ri-ah, We call the wind Mariah. Bonus of crane meat jerky.

3. Dina: Third place: Dina's carnal desire and shrieking lust for new tires has frightened all of us. So out of fear, I have a gift certificate to Dina for a set of new Michelin radial tires for her Suzuki Alto. Gift certificate redeemable at Hienie's tire store in Littlefield, Texas. Ask for either of the brothers who own Hienie's tire store, Dina: Thor or Big Red.

4. Becky: Fourth place. In spite of advice to the group that goat milk (goat milk?) is not appropriate for fudge, she is awarded the coffee maker she has been needing. I found a nice Mr. Coffee four cup Brew-o-Matic President model being closed out this afternoon at WalMart, and will ship parcel post to her in Montgomery. Digital AND push button AND delay brew function. Gabriela and Dina can furnish the Guatemalan coffee.

5. Gaby: Fifth place. Sweet Gabriela had this entire contest won. It was in the bag for her. But then she felt she needed to insult my vision with her 10 centimeter butter fonts. Gaby is awarded the ice cream machine she has been wanting. Pick it up in our garage in Montgomery when you visit, Gabriela. It is the best kind of retro ice maker...a very special electricity is required to make the ice cream.

6. Ryan and Emily: Self Esteem Honorable Mention. ( Note to Ryan: I am checking today to see whether we in Texas do have bad stove heat, as you postulated. I am pretty sure you are convinced that Seattle has good stove heat.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quilting Honor (Not Me)

While Sherry and David are making their way through Alaska, (lots of good pictures, by the way) the quilting magazine came out with the shop where she works part time, Lavender Lime in Chattanooga, as one of the featured shops.

The full-page quilt, Ribbon Stars, is the one she did the quilting for. She even has her name there. Yay for Sherry.

This is a picture of Lavender Lime. I've been there. I've spent money there. Oh, yes - just a little.

I found these pretty mums at Publix when I was plodding through there today buying groceries. They cheered me up just to look at them there amongst the grapes and bananas and cat food.

This little magnolia bloom was there this morning trying to act like magnolias usually bloom in September. I missed a few strands of morning glory, I see, when I was pulling them up.