Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Dad

Ten years ago this Halloween my brother, my sister, and I all got the call every kid dreads . . . our dad had passed away. Unexpectedly.

Don's mom had just passed 8 days earlier and we had just gotten back to work, when Dad died. It seems like yesterday.

Dad was the one who made sure we had varied interests. I played golf at age 8 - not many of my friends did. We went bowling, he taught us to fly fish, he took us on pack trips, he taught us to love the ocean. He was the original Disneyland Dad.

He also had a really good ear for music. He loved to play the guitar and sang some of the craziest songs - The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night, for example. But one song he sang was my favorite . . . Eidelweiss, from The Sound of Music. After he died, I couldn't hear the song without tearing up . . . which is why last Thursday when Oprah had the original Sound of Music cast on her show and they showed a clip of Julie Andrews singing Eidelweiss with the real Maria Von Trapp I bawled like a baby. Glad no one called me at that time.

I can't believe it has been ten years. I miss Dad every day. But I am grateful that he gave us a love of the outdoors, of music, of life. Thanks, Dad.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Car Intrigue II

So, in the last episode, Chuck had negotiated his way to Richfield, Utah, where he found a Motel 6 that he could stay in Sunday night. The poor car had been towed to the dealership right next door and was awaiting its fate. Chuck arrived at the dealership early the next morning, the car was pulled into the mechanic's bay, and promptly died. Completely. Dead. No life. Ruh Roh.

What to do now? Chuck is 4 hours from Las Vegas, more than that from Denver, with a car full of his son-in-law's and daughter's stuff . . . but there were still options. He could catch a Grayhound bus to Las Vegas that night, Enterprise car rental would drive a car to him and then he could drive down to Las Vegas, Karen could drive Diana's car to him and fly home from Denver . . .

Then Chuck's wife, Linda, suggested something. She had known people who would ferry cars for dealers, so she suggested that he ask the dealer if he needed a car to be driven to St. George or to Vegas. Well, as a matter of fact he did. First he thought he needed one to go to St. George, but then he remembered . . . he needed a Lincoln Towncar driven to Las Vegas that day for an auction the next day.

So fast forward a few hours and envision Chuck driving a fancy Lincoln Towncar to Vegas. All he needed to show the dealer was that he had a driver's license and insurance. The dealer did ask Chuck if he was going to steal the car . . . Chuck's response was, "My reputation is worth more than your car." The dealer told him to drive safely and sent him on his way.

So Chuck is now in Vegas, enjoying the gambling life until his plane brings him back to Wichita on Friday. Then he will drive Diana's car to Richfield, get Kenneth's and Melinda's stuff, and head on to Los Angeles, which was the original plan. (Of course, Diana's car, when being checked out, needed a new battery! Can you imagine if we hadn't checked that and Chuck had gotten stranded again?)

I think Chuck gets the Best Guy in America award right now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Car Intrigue

Cars and technology - can't live with them, can't live without them. (By the way, that applies to men - or women - too).

We knew the good old red Intrigue was getting old - 1998, 150,000 miles. But we thought it had a little more life in it, so Kenneth took it to LA. Our thinking was that if it got run into or wrecked, at least we won't have lost much. Last summer, Kenneth and Melinda drove it to Wichita, and they were going to drive it back to LA after they got home from Hong Kong. It didn't work that way, so Friday, Melinda's dad started out for LA.

The day before he left, I drove it to gas it up, go through the car wash, and make sure it was working all right. Sure enough, the a/c wasn't working. $166 later, a fixed part, and new freon, it was good as new. So off Chuck went. Until he got somewhere between Grand Junction, Colorado, and Richfield, Utah. Out in the middle of virtually nowhere, the car decided to give up the ghost. It was about 8:00 p.m., Chuck was at a deserted rest stop, and the car was dead. Thank goodness he is resourceful . . . managed to borrow a cell phone, convinced one of the maintenance workers at the rest stop to drive 40 miles to get a wrecker . . . and late that night, the car ended up at an Oldsmobile dealer in Richfield. Chuck holed up in the Motel 6 next door until the dealership opened up the next morning. Stay tuned . . .

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Tomato-Eating Dog

For the last few days, I have noticed Sepia hanging around the garden. I suspected what he was doing, but I didn't know for sure.

Today, I got confirmation. I found him sitting next to the garden, chowing down on a red, ripe tomato. I didn't even know he liked tomatoes!

I have since determined that he picks them off the vines. I caught him scouting through the garden, trying to find a red one. I am going to have to do a better job of picking tomatoes. As the season ends, however, we are getting some beautiful tomatoes . . . and they are tasty! If only this could last a little longer, and I can keep the dog from eating them!

Red Sky at Morning

The old mariner's rhyme about Red Sky at Morning, Sailors take Warning . . . warns of incoming storms. I know we are supposed to have big winds today and changing weather, but if this morning's absolutely exquisite red sunrise is any indication, we should be in for a BIG weather change. The meteorologists aren't predicting a hum-dinger - for which I am glad - but I do love sunrises like the one we had this morning. The only bad thing . . . I didn't have my camera with me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Wild Backyard

I don't think of Wichita, Kansas, as a haven for wildlife, but I have been amazed at the different wildlife we have had visit us.

Many years ago, when I fed birds, I would randomly find our bird feeder opened up. One night we looked out to find raccoons in our backyard. I think raccoons are cool, except with dogs, they probably aren't the best animals to have around. So I dispensed with feeding the birds.

We also find opossums in the backyard. Sepia used to find them and drag them around the yard while they played dead. He is too old to do that - I think - but if he finds them, he sure barks at them a lot. He has a special bark that tells me he has found one, and I try to get him inside before he terrorizes it. Although opossums are ugly, they don't hurt anything, so I see no point in causing them grief.

Last spring, Don looked outside to see a fox standing on our deck. I never saw it but two days later, Susan saw it in her backyard eating a rabbit. I wish it would stick around - we have too many rabbits, and although they are cute, I don't like the knee surgery that goes with a dog having too much fun chasing bunnies!

Finally, today as we drove in a hawk was sitting on the Gaskill's fence. We have had hawks before, but they usually appear in the winter when small birds are gathered around feeders. I haven't seen one at this time of year. I remember when owls used to perch nearby, but I haven't heard them recently, so I will just have to take the hawk.

Anyway, I think it is fun to have different wildlife in our yard. It makes it interesting to look outside just to see what we might find.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's a Small World

Have you ever been far away and had a chance encounter with someone you know? This has happened to me numerous times. When I was in high school, I went on a trip to nine countries in Europe. Standing in the flea market in Greece, a young man from Texas came up to several of us. We began talking, and he said something about visiting a small town in the mountains of New Mexico. I knew the answer when I said, "What was the name of the town?" "Tererro," he answered. Turns out he was friends of the Noel family, and when we were 8 years old, his family rented the cabin two doors up and we all played kick-the-can for hours.

Several years ago, Don, Diana and I went to New York with our Middle School. We walked into an Italian restaurant in Little Italy to find a Garden City, Kansas, architect, Vince Mancini, with whom Don works, sitting there. This kind of thing seems to happen a lot!

Just today, I received an email from Diana entitled, "Guess what just happened to me?" Uh-oh, I thought. Not to worry. She was sitting in a library in Madrid, when a young woman came over and asked if she was Diana Norton. Diana immediately recognized her as Natalie, the sister of her Independent School friend, Alison Shellito.

I love the Disneyland ride, It's a Small World, because it is so true. Encounters like these are living proof!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chai Tea Lattes

Is it possible to be addicted to a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks? If so, I am. I love them!!!

Since I am on Weight Watchers, and the chai tea lattes pack a powerful 4 points, I have been trying to reserve them for Sundays only. But sometimes it is agony! Just driving by a Starbucks gets the anticipation going . . .

I have tried making my own sugar-free ones at home. I have purchased sugar-free powdered chai tea mix. I have purchased the Tazo concentrate. I even have a milk frother. But none of my own concoctions live up to the $3.81 Grande version that I can buy less than a mile away.

Will power. I am having to invoke incredible will power. Because I don't anticipate getting rid of the addiction until I find a 12-step program for Chai Tea Latte addiction.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lightning Bugs?

We saw this on Friday night in Manhattan. Weren't quite sure what to think of all of the lightning bugs.

Oh, forgive me. They aren't lightning bugs at all. This is Madness in Manhattan when they turned off all of the lights and the kids began flashing their cell phones. It was a fun sight!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Go 'Cats!

This says it all!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Comfort Foods

For some, comfort food means mac & cheese, meatloaf, or mashed potatoes. For me, it means Green Chile stew.

Yesterday, I got a hankering for green chile stew. Could be because I didn't want to go to the store, I had ground beef on hand that needed to be used, and I had green chiles in the garden that needed to be picked. So I roasted the chiles - was worried they would be really hot, but they were perfect - and made myself a pot of green chile. As a new twist, I added the remaining corn from our grilled corn-on-the-cob from last week's tailgate . . . made for a very yummy dish!

In another twist, I served Don's over a baked potato. He loved it! In the interest of saving Weight Watcher's points, I ate mine straight up. So good! And I made it myself!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Animal Blessing

Today at church we had our animal blessing. Most churches perform this service the first weekend in October, but this worked better for St. Stephen's, so we held the service today. We almost had Babs and Sepia wear their KSU outfits, but I didn't think that would work very well, so they just wore themselves!

It is always a crazy service, and today was just as crazy as ever. Babs barked at every dog that went by . . . and when we sat behind the rabbit in the rabbit cage, she paid quite a bit of attention! I was glad we didn't have a catastrophe with that one.

We didn't have the blessing part until after the service was over. At that time, I pulled my stuffed Willie the Wildcat out and took him with me. Since our priest is a Nebraska fan, he smiled as I brought Willie for healing and a blessing. We're hoping this translates to a win on Thursday night against the 'Hawks! Go 'Cats!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

An Awesome New Saying

Today I was talking to my sister-in-law, Jerri. We were discussing the agony of sitting through horrible football games, most notably those of the New Mexico Lobos, but could have applied to the KSU game Thursday night. She said, "I would rather have been skunk watching."

Perfect! Now whenever I don't want to do something, I am going to say, "I would rather be skunk watching." Since I find skunks to be pretty entertaining (if I am far enough away), skunk watching isn't actually a horrible thing. But I certainly think her saying is a great way to say, "I don't want to do the other thing I was supposed to do."

So now it is time for me to pay bills. I would rather be skunk watching!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Oh, Man!

Why do I do it to myself? Pump myself up with the thought that our football team could possibly win a game that I know in my heart we probably can't. Cautiously optimistic. The "I don't expect to win but we should at least play them closely" approach. But even that style leads to terrific disappointment, especially when we play so badly!

It's not that I mind losing to a better team - clearly, Nebraska was the better team. But I dislike their coach so much, it is hard for me to stomach losing to him. Oh well . . . let it go, Karen, let it go.

That being said, we did have a great time at the tailgate, and the weather was about as perfect as it could be. The stadium was rocking and rolling - the students turned out in style! We sat near some nice Nebraska fans and behind one rude, foul-mouthed K-State fan. Thank goodness he shut up, because I think one of us might have asked for him to be removed if he didn't knock it off. I hate it when our own fans act like that!

Anyway, it was a disappointing evening, but we knew this year was going to be up and down. We are still K-State Proud . . . and anxiously anticipating a good game next Thursday. Go 'Cats!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

K-State Proud

Don had a meeting in Manhappenin' this morning, so I tagged along. Afterwards, we went to Varney's to look at all of the new merchandise . . . and there was a lot of it. They are definitely ready for Thursday! We decided we needed a few things for ourselves. Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bella, the Mechanic

I thought I had seen everything when it came to dogs. I had . . . until today.

For some unknown reason, my car has begun to leak coolant. Yesterday I had a low coolant light, so before we went to McDonald's today, Don was going to fill my coolant tank. We put Babs and Sepster in the car, leaving Bella in the house while Don mixed the coolant. (Otherwise, if we had put her in the car, too, she would terrorize the others!) Because my car is so old, the hood will no longer stay open on its own. Therefore, when it was time to fill the reservoir, Bella and I went to the garage to help. Bella was running around the cars (she knew McDonald's was coming up) while I held the hood up.

Suddenly, out of the clear blue, Bella jumped up under the hood of the car, her paws holding onto the radiator and her back paws on the bumper. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I don't know what possessed her to jump up - maybe she just wanted to see what makes a car run!

Friday, October 1, 2010

That Dog!

Sepia: That Dog! She's back.
Babs: And we can't escape. Now she jumps on the bed with us, too!
Sepia: Did you see what she was doing this morning?
Babs: I couldn't believe it. She was writhing about on her back, squirming all over the bed and barking.
Sepia: She nearly knocked me off the bed, she was squirming so much!
Babs: Then she lay down and tore up a toilet paper roll.
Sepia: Thank goodness we went to McDonalds . . . except we had to take refuge in the front seat.
Babs: She kept jumping in the rear end, staring at drivers behind us. Did you see that lady in the car that kept trying to talk to her? "Oh you are so cute," she said. Blah, blah, blah.
Sepia: And then when the Dog Lady had her arm across the seats, That Dog kept putting her head on the Dog Lady's shoulder . . . she thought she looked so cute.
Babs: At least she likes to be outside. Remember when we used to chase squirrels and rabbits? That was so much fun . . .
Sepia: Yeah, you were the squirrel master! Oh the olden days . . .