Wednesday, December 05, 2012
I could complain about having to work all weekend every other week at my job, but I'm actually thankful for it. The great thing is that I also get a long weekend off every other week to make up for it. It's wonderful because it gives us time to plan mini weekend trips when we want to, and that's what we did this past weekend.
I'm so fortunate to have a wonderful aunt and uncle who are very good to us. They live in Florida, but they have a mountain home just north of Jefferson, North Carolina which is less than a two hour drive from our home. When they built it they gave me a key and told me we were welcome to go up and stay anytime we want to get away. So we got up Friday morning and headed for the mountains. Even the drive up there is beautiful.
The drive up takes us along some scenic back roads.
And past many of the Christmas tree farms (always busy this time of year).
Our destination up on top of the mountain!
After we arrived Tommy went to Shatley Springs (a popular country restaurant very close to their house) and picked us up a vegetable plate for dinner. I wish I could say it was a healthy meal, but at least it was vegetables.
Tommy then built a nice fire in the fireplace and his son Derek and wife Sonya joined us later that night.
Tommy in the living room talking to Derek and Sonya.
The next morning we all went to breakfast and then drove up to Damascus, Virginia. We went to Backbone Rock where we hiked up on top of the natural bridge that crosses the road. I was so proud of Tommy because there are a lot of stone steps leading to the top but he handled it like a trooper.
Sonya, Tommy and Derek on top of Backbone Rock.
After our short hike, we drove the five miles back into Damascus and then went for dinner at Quincey's where we had pizza and drinks while we waited for the Christmas parade that was supposed to start at 6:00. We finally headed out and found a spot along the road to watch the parade. I tried to take pictures, but had forgotten my good camera at the house and had to use my phone camera.
One of the floats in the parade.
This was a new twist! Santa showed up on a John Deere.
The next morning Derek and Sonya had to head home, but it was a beautiful day so Tommy and I drove up to Grayson Highlands. Afterward we drove back to West Jefferson for dinner and then back to the house.
Grayson Highlands in Virginia
Later that night we drove around and looked at some of the Christmas lights in the area. Back at the house, I went out on the deck to take some night pictures.
One of the decorated houses we really liked.
Looking down the driveway from the house.
Looking down toward the river at the houses below.
Then we had a surprise visitor show up at the house. A sweet little beagle came up onto the deck and we were playing with him. Tommy noticed he was not wearing a collar and thought he might be a stray. He actually asked me if I thought Thor would get along with him. But it didn't take long to realize this was no stray. When we brought him some treats out, he shook hands (or should I say hand and paw) with us each time for a treat. Nope, this was somebody's pet. We did enjoy his company for a while at least. Then when I told him it was time for him to go home, he promptly turned and headed down the dirt road toward the other houses. He was so sweet.
We don't know what his name is, but we enjoyed his company Sunday night and hope we see him the next time we go back.
What a fun weekend!
I hope everyone is having a great week.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Tommy and I went to the mall Monday to pick up a few Christmas gifts. As we were walking along I saw a pet store that I had never seen before (I rarely go the mall). I walked inside and saw a wall of cages behind glass containing many different breeds of puppies and an equal number of shoppers on our side of the glass looking. Beside each cage was a slip of paper showing what the monthly payment would be for each dog. It didn't say what the actual cost of each dog was and I didn't ask. I knew it was much higher than the small fee charged at the animal shelter to adopt a pet. I watched as a Collie puppy was taken from a cage and brought out to a prospective buyer. As I looked at all these puppies, I wondered where they came from, and I thought about all the dogs in the shelters in need of homes.
With the holiday season upon us, most of us are beginning the traditional task of hitting the stores trying to find the perfect gift for each person on our list. For many, that perfect gift will be a furry one. Many parents, spouses or children will head to the pet stores, or even the internet, in search of that special gift of love. They mean well. The pet they purchase will almost certainly provide years of love and happiness to their new owner. But here is something I ask everyone to consider if they are planning on purchasing a pet for someone for Christmas. Where did that animal come from? It’s sometimes hard to know where that purebred dog was born or under what conditions. Although there are responsible breeders, the truth is that many of the dogs sold in stores and on the internet are the product of puppy mills. I won’t jump on my soapbox here over this as most already know about the horrors of puppy mills. Purchasing animals that are the product of these mills encourages the practice to continue. If you do not know about puppy mills, you can find a lot of information about them on ASPCA.org.
Instead of supporting this cruel treatment, why not consider adoption of an unwanted animal who needs a forever home? Whether you prefer cats or dogs, there are millions of animals in shelters just waiting and hoping for a loving home, for a chance at life, with so much love to share. They are living on borrowed time and most will be euthanized. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to give that special gift to a person you love and to an animal in need? If you’re not comfortable picking a pet for someone, you can take them to the animal shelter to choose a pet, or call your local shelter and find out what the fees are and give them the money to adopt a pet.
According to the ASPCA, “Approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats).” www.aspca.org/ This is a sad fact, but it is also the harsh reality. Unless someone comes along and adopts them, they will eventually be euthanized.
A Dog's Last Will and Testament
Before humans die, they write their last Will & Testament, and give their home and all they have to those they leave behind. If, with my paws, I could do the same, this is what I'd ask....
To a poor and lonely stray I'd give:
My happy home.
My bowl, cozy bed, soft pillows and all my toys.
The lap which I loved so much.
The hand that stroked my fur and the sweet voice which spoke my name.
I'd will to the sad scared shelter dog the place I had in my human's heart, of which there seemed no bounds.
So when I die please do not say, "I will never have a pet again, for the loss and pain is more than I can stand." Instead go find an unloved dog; one whose life has held no joy or hope and give MY place to him.
This is the only thing I can give...the love I left behind.
If possible, please help save a life. If you can open your heart and home to one of our furry friends in need, you will be rewarded with the unconditional love of your new family member. And please remember to make sure you new friend is spayed or neutered .
Now for some fun. With the cold weather comes frosty windows. This creates a problem for Thor since he loves to lay in front of the glass door and look outside (we call him our window monitor). When the glass door frosts over, he can't see out. Being the smart boy he is, he figured out a way to solve this problem. So for future reference, here is how you clean a window so you can see outside.
First, you have to see if the window is in need of cleaning. It is clearly frosted over here making it hard for Thor to see outside.
Next, you have to determine where you want to clean. He started in this area but then determined this wasn't his best choice.
Once you've found the perfect spot, begin licking the frost off of the glass.
When the glass is adequately cleaned, you can resume your neighborhood watch.
Hope everyone is having a great week!
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Wow, it’s been a busy two weeks. We were in Florida last week on vacation and had a wonderful time. It was so nice to get away and just relax with family.
We first traveled to Palm Beach where we stayed with my sister Joyce and her husband Kurt for three nights. On Tuesday they took us out on their boat to Peanut Island where we spent several hours grilling out and hiking around the island. On Wednesday, we went to a couple different areas where we hiked. It’s a lot different hiking in Florida then it is here in North Carolina, but it was a lot of fun.
Tommy walking my sister's dogs, Kirby and Kody, on Peanut Island. I think he was missing Thor.
Me and Tommy while hiking. No, we weren't standing in water, but were actually on a step leading down into it.
My sister, brother-in-law and me on a hiking trail.
Thursday morning we headed back up to New Smyrna Beach to stay with another sister, Suzi, and her husband Stephen. Along the way we stopped to visit my Uncle Bill, Aunt Pat and cousin Kim in Melbourne, Florida. He surprised us with an airboat ride on Lake Washington. It was cloudy and a little misty that day, but it didn’t rain and we had a great time. We only saw one gator.
My uncle, our guide, and Tommy on the airboat.
Riding on the airboat.
After leaving their house, we drove to my sister’s house where we had wonderful spaghetti they had fixed for dinner. The next day they drove us up to St. Augustine. We did a lot of walking around the streets checking out the wonderful old architecture and the sights. We later had dinner at a restaurant near the beach and then drove to the St. Augustine Lighthouse where we went on the night ghost tour. After a tour of the light keepers house, they turned us loose to explore on our own. It was a bit challenging climbing the lighthouse steps in the dark with only a small glowstick they provided for us (the light on my phone came in pretty handy a few times). Tommy was feeling so good he was even able to climb to the top of the lighthouse. We didn’t see any ghosts, but we had a great time.
Me and Tommy in St. Augustine
Beautiful St. Augustine
The top of St. Augustine Lighthouse in the dark
St. Augustine picture from the top of the lighthouse
On Saturday, Suzi drove us over to the beach at Ponce Inlet. The ocean was incredibly rough for some reason with the waves churning and crashing hard against the rocks along the jetty, but it was beautiful. After walking around there for a while and taking lots of pics of the ocean and birds, we stopped by the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse for a quick look.
Rough ocean along the jetty at Ponce Inlet
I just loved this bird!
There were so many pelicans and they were really active. We had a great time watching them.
I loved this picture of them diving for fish with their butts in the air.
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.
We hated to leave Sunday to come home, but we did miss Thor and was happy to see him. We’re already planning our next trip back to St. Augustine, hopefully sometime next spring.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and is able to spend it with family or friends. Now back to my kitchen to get back to cooking.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Wow, I feel like I’ve been away from SP for a really long time. Actually, it’s only been a couple of weeks and I have been checking in briefly each day. So much has been going on in my life that I feel like I’ve barely had time to breathe.
As the end to Tommy’s break from chemo was approaching, he went to get his next scan. Waiting for the scan results are always a nervous time, so I managed to busy myself - REALLY busy myself. My son Cliff and I decided to do some much needed work on our basement. But I’ll get back to that in a few minutes.
First, Tommy went back to his doctor on Monday fully expecting poor scan results and a return to chemo. What we actually got was a good report - the tumors in his lungs have remained unchanged for the last three months! She decided that there was no benefit to putting him back on chemo and subjecting him to the toxic effects of the drugs at this time since the tumors are not changing. He has another three month break and then they will do another restaging scan in January and see how things are going then. We are so happy that he can enjoy the holidays and our trip to Florida next month without suffering the side effects from chemo. Thanks to you all for the wonderful support and all your prayers.
Now for the basement. We recently “cleaned” it out, but decided it was time to get serious about getting rid of all the unused items simply cluttering the basement. We spent several days going through boxes and moving pieces of stored furniture, deciding what needed to go to the dump and what was still useful. I found out that young guys with their own apartments are always in need of something and managed to find new homes for most of the stuff I didn’t want to throw away. Our basement is now almost eerily empty, but it looks great! We’ve spent the last few days painting the cinder block walls to brighten it up and next we’ll be painting the floor (we’ve already bought the floor paint, so I guess we’re committed to that). Thor has also loved all of this because he's been spending time lounging in the back yard while we worked with all the basement doors open. I’m on vacation from work until next Friday, so we’re hoping to get most of the work finished this coming week.
I will, however, be taking some time for fun the next two days to let my bruised and battered body recover. My sister and her husband who live in Florida have just retired and are on an RV trip. They’ll be stopping here tomorrow and spending a couple days with us. We’re hoping to get a chance to go hiking while they’re here.
Now I have to get up and clean my house that has been neglected since starting work on the basement. Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend and enjoying some nice fall weather.
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