Kamis, 25 Februari 2010

Oliver visits Team Beagle

Our friend Tonya brought her beagle Oliver over to visit Team Beagle last weekend for a little playing and walking. All had a great time.


The television blew. My folks had the same television for decades. We had this one for 7 years. Fixing it would be a major investment when compared to buying a new one. We're getting a new one. Higher end than we expected but we bought into the reasoning. We call it reasoning now. Had we not bought into it we would call it pitch or nonsense.

It arrives March 11th. Wise thinking - I decided to pause DISH NETWORK. We can't use it. I called and learned from a fast-speaking underage employee that it cannot be retroactive to the day the tech was here and told us it was not their problem but to be sure to ask for the free upgrade to HD. This tech did not suggest a pause in service, thinking we would not be able to survive w/o a television long enough to need one.

We went thru the motions. Pause as of today or tomorrow. I gave a start up date. That requires another phone call. My husband had already set up the appt for the free upgrade. That had to be cancelled in order to implement the pause. We're talking about 2 1/2 weeks of time now. I agreed to make a note to call back to reinstate the service and schedule another appointment.

Then she told me it will be a $20/month charge to pause the service. I was still listening to her but not nearly as happily. Not that $20 is a huge sum. My suggestion was that this be stated to customers at the beginning of the request. It would save everyone a lot of time. And, I mentioned I hoped I was being recorded as I was now displeased with "service".

We undid all we had done. There will be no pause. But I did not have the appt. any longer so we had to re-establish that. She needed a credit card number to make the appointment. Go figure. I suppose you can't trust a technician to handle a check or credit transaction. It's only money. We're trusting these unknown individuals into our homes but it's clear the employer has a great financial risk if the technician has to get the customer to pay.

Fortunately not enough time had passed to have my "slot" given to someone else. I was informed that we're set up for the same 4 hour window, same day. And, by the way, there is a $1 hold charged to the credit card.

Now what? Well, that's to allow you to get the "free" upgrade. It will be refunded in 3 or 4 business days. Can you imagine how many customers pay that $1 for those 3 or 4 days and DISH invests that immediately and makes enough to pay for the free upgrade activity? Speculation on my part but I think someone worked out the details ahead of time. How much does it cost to put a $1 charge on a credit card? Geez.

What choice did I have? The customer no longer is king/queen. We are solely considered tolerated because, gosh, we're the reason they are in business. I paid my buck. I shook my phone-head. I made my notes on the 8 year old contract we have had with them which put someone thru college.

It's not so bad not having a TV. But then who would I call to entertain me in such a clueless way? Guess we'll let this one go.

Sabtu, 13 Februari 2010

Give 'Em Homes - Why Wait?

It's time to get back to basics. There are a lot of dogs in the world. In this country. Everywhere: fliers, ads, posters, events, pages of sad statistics. Much of the population problem is the fault of careless and/or thoughtless, greedy humans. These LIVING dogs could die and will die unless responsible humans step in and give them warm and loving homes. If you can, go to the shelter and adopt. Save someone.   http://www.benldadoptapet.org/ , http://www.apl-shelter.org/ are some of our close-by locations, crammed with hopeful dogs. Don't spew out that "I want them all..." "It breaks my heart to go there so I don't..." BUCK UP.
Our local newspaper ran an article which listed the annual cost of a dog to be $695. It's a bit more for a large dog, say, another $100. Round it off to $800. You cannot put a price on love. Still, to more people than I can imagine, this is a lot of money to spend. Take the pet insurance out of the equation and the costs go down over $200. Work instead to keep your dog healthy by feeding decent food, not overdoing treats, going to an obedience class, exercising your pet, and keeping him or her groomed. Sorry, if it turns out you cannot keep your pet then good care, socialization, and health are important in re-homing, or adopting your dog to someone else.

Maybe a better choice at first is to help out by donating to your favorite shelter and help pets find homes before you adopt one yourself and have to return it. That's no fun for the dog either. It will break your heart to give up your friend but you have other friends. The dog knows only you and has only you and depends upon only you. Talk about broken hearts.

But maybe you only need ways to make having a pet affordable.

Other tips: Get a used crate from a garage sale. Buy bedding at a Goodwill or Salvation Army. Make your own dog treats. Use old tee shirts, cut into 2" strips, braided and knotted at each end, to make toys. Make your own meals for your dogs - be aware: no raisins, chocolate, grapes, cooked bones (they are brittle), onions, garlic, almonds, and check for other toxic foods - you can get recipes on line; you're connected.

It's not just what you spend though. You are apt to not spend money elsewhere.Your dog can save you hundreds of dollars on exercise equipment or club membership and you won't need special outfits to get in shape. Your dog keeps you out of the psychiatrist's office (a bit longer) because you have a therapist with you at home; one who not only will listen to you but will love you. Your dog will entertain you - hours of joyful activity can keep you away from passive time spent watching TV or videos, or other forgettable timewasters. Have your youngest friends read to your dog. Have a family night and include the dog. Cuddle up with Bowser and turn down the thermostat. There are so many ways dogs are good for you.

It's time for us to be good for dogs.

Selasa, 09 Februari 2010

Black on White and White On White

Holly is the dog I walk sometimes at noon. She's a Labradoodle and has a great sense of joy for live! We romp. She's a major snow dog!

Back by popular demand, the W.O.W. photo. Could have repeated this today - snow snow snow.


Last night Doug Wilson was on a local TV channeled in a chef's outfit. The floppy hat thing did nothing for him except cover up his gorgeous hair. He was making 4 Cheese Macaroni. So much for healthy eating during heart month. I still like his restaurant. Never saw Trading Places or whatever show he had.

We've got more snow. Fine by me, a-l-t-h-o-u-g-h, I am noticing that I am a teensy bit stir crazy. So what I did yesterday, while waiting for the snow, was to order up a book copy of my blog. Now, that was interesting! I can hardly wait. But I will because I didn't fork over the rush or express $$$ to get it here in a week.

The other thing I did was buy Abner (http://abnerwisdom.blogspot.com/ ) an official bed. Sure, he's a foster. But he's SO at home here I expect we'll have him till the end. And, if not, well, he can take his bed with him. He hasn't had a chance to use it yet. Winnie is scrunched in it and not about to relinquish the comfort it yields.

Since I was out I got groceries.

Then I went back on line and ordered some blank dog cards. Well, the dogs are not blank, there's not writing on the cards. I get to do that. They're coming from Belgrade, just outside Bozeman. http://www.folkdogart.com/ . Check for yourself. Good stuff. Delightful young artist.

Last week, on a dreary, sloppy weather day, I ordered from another artist, a friend who was lucky enough to spend time in Paris last year.  She's helping out Make A Wish Foundation this year. Go ahead. Buy something.
View the catalog:
To learn more and order:

Clearly I need to go back into the kitchen and bake something before I get all these cards and need to start writing notes to people and while there's still checks in the checkbook. Isn't that how you know when there's no money? When the checks are all gone? OUCH!

Minggu, 07 Februari 2010

Comes Around

This has NOTHING to do with the previous posting, beyond finishing a cliche'. So if you're new or don't want to read the previous posts, worry not. I'm making your day by saying "start here".

Today we toodled up to a small village 20+ miles from here, where in resides a pair of businesses we have learned to love - if only all lessons could be so delightful and fun. I'm talkin' about The Bluestem Bakery and The Copper Rooster. http://thecopperrooster.shopping.officelive.com/default.aspx and http://www.illinois-adventures.com/blog/Exploring_Elkhart.html . The bakery has been there for a few years and its partner used to be a marvelously laid out museum but the museum moved. After an appropriate waiting period the rooster perched. It is now crowing. And, I suspect additional breath is breathed into the bakery now that it has a roommate.

I didn't get a photo of the cookies and truffle we ordered. Silly me, we ate them before I thought of it. But I do have a photo of the eclectically charming arm dangle Mandy created. This is it, a Peace piece, resting
It only seemed right to perch it upon a cross "tatted" or "crocheted" (I can't
tell the difference.) by my grandma, gosh, 80 years ago??? Let's see, she'd be over 140 so sure. That would be a low guess as to how old it is. But, look at this; it's scrumptious. As good as the kringle cookie or the amaretto truffle or the cranberry oatmeal nut cookie.

The good news is each of these places has much, much more. Both are owned and operated by enthusiastic and gentle young women. Reason enough to go as far as some are concerned. But moreso, they are industrious and creative and dedicated and evolving.

We have been with one through some tough times. She has a small son and balances the bakery single-handedly while keeping him fed, clean, and busy. The other is a discovery, by chance, when I was returning from transporting rescued animals. Say it: OMEN. Well, she'd been open two weeks and used to be Two Dogs and a Cosmo! Ha! Dogs! She is a cardiac nurse first and an artist second but how long can that last. This piece is "cool". Some of her work has no words to describe the beauty, the design, the approach, the feeling, the blend...whatever it is, it works.

But, before we entered the main door I stooped to pick up a business / appointment card settled into the dampness on the sidewalk. It looked interesting. It'd been there awhile. It was a Christmas list.

Three items:
Ear Muffs (sound)
pen - pop-open bullet (Circuit City)
receding lamp for bed

The other side revealed...ta-DAH...an appointment for Snickers at the vet's on December 22, 2009!!! Hope Snickers got there and is A-OK.

But, did someone want ear muffs that had sound built into them or do they want to keep it out? And, the gift giver needs to know that Circuit City was closed by then, for good. Really, FOR GOOD. And, I'm just not sure what a receding lamp is, for bed or other uses.

Personally, I think I would have given a card with a promise to each of the lucky recipients.
"Your choice: bakery treats, jewelry, or a combo."

Go for it.

What Goes Around

More about Galapagos...the one island that had a (known) human population with scientific research underway had a facility which was raising the famous Galapagos tortoises, from eggs. Each infant had been "dated" on its undershell, when it hatched, using a marker.

Years later when we moved to a town north of here we visited a zoo. In that zoo was a teenage tortoise from, yes, the island. And, yes, its date remained on its undershell and yes, it was there when I was.


Sabtu, 06 Februari 2010

Trip to the Islands

Today is a terrific day to drink coffee, eat crunchy stuff, and stay inside blogging and Facebooking. Wow, there's two words we didn't have in the last century.

Writing of the last century, one of the trips I took was to the Galapagos Islands. A solo trip for me, I left the pets and husband at home and flew from Chicago to Miami Airport. I arrived there at 2:00 a.m. their time, with plans to meet the US trip guide, and four fellow travellers. We were to join three more in Ecuador. It all worked. We gathered in Guayaquil at the airport, flew back up to Quito, loaded ourselves onto a bus and drove on the edge of the mountain for hours and hours. It took us two days to get back to Guayaquil. We spent the night in a gorgeous retreat, stopped to get red bananas from trees, stopped on the mountain side while the road was re-constructed after a mudslide. The natives got their hibachis down and cooked lunch. The Americans stayed on the inside of the bus, mountainside. The chickens, laundry, appliances, etc. stayed roped to the bus. There was no reason for us to get out. We'd read all that was painted on the bus when it pulled up to carry us away. OK, I got out. I admit it. But it was just me.

The trip was terrific, of course. It could not have been a better getaway. There was absolutely no way to reach any of us. The group consisted of 8 touristas and the company guide but once we touched ground in Guayaquil again our whole group was led by an Ecuadorian Park Tour Guide, Ramon. I remember him well.

We were on a comparatively small boat, not a cruise ship, although while we were "out to sea" we were able to connect with one and climb up into and take a tour. What was I thinking? I don't remember how we actually got from the teensy PT boat (more about it in a minute) into the ship. That may be a good thing. I'd hope I'd recall if I dangled from a rope ladder or something equally as challenging.
The boat we were on was no ordinary boat. It was the one Princess Grace Kelly had commissioned to take her family on when they travelled the area. So it was well-manicured. I doubt it was the same crew; some time had passed between the royal family trip and ours. But the boat was subtly but richly done. And, our crew, although they spoke only Spanish so we couldn't converse with them much, was delightful and happy.

At the time I still smoked cigarettes. One evening I was up on the deck have a late evening cigarette. (There's no sleeping on the islands without a special permit so we slept in our cabins on the boat and travelled.) Ramon joined me, having a smoke of his own. He spoke English. He had led groups from this travel agency before and been on journeys to the islands with them and this same crew. It seemed there had been discussions about "who I was with".  I explained no one. You see, I'd booked a trip with a firm that usually had clients living an alternative lifestyle. Yet, there also was a family of 3 on board this time. I straightened it all out, no pun intended. I wasn't with any of the other guests. Well, it was good news to them and some of them suddenly learned to speak English overnight as I was addressed very differently the next day. Nice, friendly and in English.

The young daughter of the couple from Ann Arbor was named Anna. That's ah-nna in case you cannot tell. She's the artist here. Gets it from her mom. At the time we took the trip she was 3 1/2 or 4, probably 4. For some reason towards the end of the trip we were each asked to draw a picture of the person whose name we were given; not a likeness of them but how we saw them. It was to be our name card for dinner that night.
This is Anna's extra drawing of me, which I laminated and use as a bookmark. Mind you, this trip was in the early-80's. Anna is probably a famous artist now.

The name card for dinner had the same transition. It too is a bookmark.

When I use either of these I think of so many sweet memories. Many back stateside thought I was taking a peculiar risk going to Ecuador alone and travelling with strangers. It was the best thing for me.

I had no idea about who anyone was until we got going and it didn't matter anyway. We shared so much and had a fantastic time.

Out of this trip came more than 10 days on my own. My husband and I visited Anna and her folks. For years I corresponded with Brian, the trip organizer, who lived in Key West. I should have visited him and talked about it endlessly. I got a precious tee shirt that last 25 years from one of the guys, also a Key West resident who grew up out in Montana not far from the ranch where we visited for several years. His name was Dan. He died too young, of AIDS. His mother, whom we did not know, sent his obituary. I cried for days. I still do. We visited his parents in Montana. His dad and the man who owned the ranch we were at grew up together. The whole family came to town on Sunday so we could go to church together. We had more great friends. The ranch couple and Dan's parents are all with him now.

We can't go back forever. Times change, mostly for the better. But it is a wonderful trip to go through the memories and hug on the people you've known over the years. There are so many, aren't there? And each is special, how amazing! Each person we meet offers us something if we'll only accept it.

I am so glad I accepted the suggestion from the receptionist/trip question answer guy at the travel agency for it was this unknown young man who brought me many wonderful friends. Thanks to him I did not climb Mt. Kilamanjaro (I probably would have opted out anyway) and went someplace I'd never heard of that sounded appealing. I had two cameras, little luggage, no expectations, and a ready heart, eyes, and mind. The cameras got a workout, the luggage did too. Having no expectations was as it should be. My heart, my eyes and my mind were filled and renewed. The last century had its moments.

Oh, the natives thought I was doing a magazine article because I had two cameras. I came home with 900 slides (hope you know what those are), many of boobies.  Those are birds, in case you need clarification.

Buddha Lives With Us

Before moving to the state capitol we lived 75 miles NW of here in a bigger town. Our two sons were young. Still are, relatively speaking.

Buddha was there before they were and now that they've moved out Buddha remains. It's a marble Buddha, given to my husband, made from marble taken from a famous mountain, somewhere outside the U.S. Buddha lived in the dining room, most of the time. He was always there when I was looking for him.

And, look for him I did, because he was a culprit, a jinxer, a trickster, and an oft-declared guilty party. You see he was given a name. He became "Not Me".

It didn't matter who stood in front of the empty box of cereal, with feet covered by the previous contents. That boy did NOT spill/pour them onto the floor. It was Not Me.

A hole could be cut into a chair cushion with a Cub Scout mini-tool, jaggedly shaped like a smile and Not Me would be credited with doing it.

When the garbage disposal coughed up a pair of 4T jockeys the finger of blame was pointed firmly at Not me.

The fire on the carpet in the bedroom, under the bed to assure it wouldn't be found, was Not Me's doing. He got a real scolding when I vacuumed and found it.

Cutting someone else's hair could have been no one but Not Me's doing. Since he had none of his own it was clear he was unhappy that anyone had hair.

Getting into the rhythm of things I realized that the pink shirts, underwear, socks, and tee shirts that came out of the laundry one day were the work of Not Me.

Jumat, 05 Februari 2010

Going Thru The Change

Today I ate rosemary garlic crackers and wore a new sweater.

I have been shopping. Not just to any place but to one of the "get everything you don't need here" stores. A friend took me mid-week to another town and I spent some money. All right, I splurged.

By yesterday (the morning after, of course) I knew I needed to take some things back. And, buy other stuff while I was at the local store. Thus the sweater AND the crackers mix. I had a MOMENT of guilt that what I had started with was not balanced, not enough about hubby, kids/grandkids, and me.

I got frames that hold multiple photos so I now am commited to printing off photos to make a collage for family members. I got these and other good crackers and the yummy jams someone in the house other than yours truly loves. One could say "She's back!".

Well, I also realize that though this is fun I am a changed person. For one thing, being retired usually has expenditures being thought through and being involved as a volunteer working with dogs and cats - well, they only care that you show up, not whether or not you have mascara on or creases in your jeans. It's comforting to be accepted just as one is. You agree. Deep down you agree.

Yet, there's that side to each of us that wants to make a good impression and gets a boost from something new and feeling good. Sure, we should just feel good when we are good and do good and treat others well. Sure we should appreciate the opportunity to make others feel the same way too. But we also like being told we rock.

So this week this rock rolled over, went through the change and re-visited the side of the past life that put greater emphasis on apppearances. I don't think I'm deceiving anyone. I'm still me. I'm still willing to crawl on my stomach to take a photo of a cat who needs a home. I'm still able to rub the belly of a lonely dog long enough to change the look in its eyes from fearful to thankful. I'm still able to be true to myself.