30 July, 2012

Life as a dogsitter

We are dogsitting for some friends of ours. Their little mixed breed dog Maggie is staying with us for a few days. She's doing fine.

I think it's making Punkin feel a little insecure. She keeps growling at Ginger for some reason. Not at Maggie, the new kid on the block, but Ginger who is always here. Dogs are wierd!

I used to walk three dogs every day, but I've gotten out of the habit. Walking all of them today was a challenge. It makes me realize that I don't really want to go back to having three dogs. I loved all three of ours, but am satisfied now with just the two. One hand per leash! Two hands, two dogs. It works.

I finished putting the binding on this quilt last night. It is for Wilson, my award-winning brother-in-law. He's a good guy who deserves his own quilt, so here it is.

I started this at my quilt guild's come and go retreat last January. I worked on it more in February when Samantha, Thomas and I were at the cabin in VA. I finished piecing it in March at the quilt retreat at West River. Then it languished for a while as a quilt top. I finally sent it off and had it quilted and put the binding on in just three days or so. It's ready to ship off. This is the third quilt I've finished in the last month and I feel good about that.

Are you watching the Olympics? We watched the Opening Ceremony, which had highs and wierds, but overall I enjoyed. Tonight is the first time we are actually watching the races (swimming) and the gymnastics. Thomas is way more into it than I am. I like it, but haven't been glued to it.

28 July, 2012

Not the Princess and the Pea, but sorta kinda like that

Back in the days of my youth and poverty I always bought the cheapest of cheap when it came to things like sheets. This week I was reminded why I am glad the days of being just broke are part of my past. 

We needed some new sheets, because the purple ones we had ripped at the corner. Instead of having to go for the thinner, cheaper sheets, we got some nice new white ones. Lest you think we went all hog wild and spent $159 on a set of 600 count sheets woven by French maidens and washed in the tears of a Unicorn - Thomas and I are somewhat frugal people. We like to have nice things, but the set of 400 count sheets we got were on sale for $59. They are smooth and have a certain heft to them, so getting into bed is a pleasure. I am sure that sleep on these pretty sheets is more restful!

25 July, 2012

Get your motor runnin’” head out on the highway….

Thomas left early for work today. He called 30 minutes later to tell me he'd been in a car accident. No damage to him (or the other three drivers) and the car was drivable after the accident, so it could have been worse. But it's never fun to be in an accident. The police came and wrote up the accident, and one car had to be towed away. It took two hours for them to write up the incident and clear everything away and send him on his way.

Our insurance, which is Esurance (owned by allstate) seems to be very good so far. In Maryland, basically the rule is, "if you hit someone else in the the back of their car, you are responsible for the damage to their car." So the person who hit Thomas will be responsible for the damage to our car and we will be responsible for the car in front that Thomas hit. I am still not sure how it all happened, but it seems to be something like two lanes merging into one. One car stopped suddenly, setting off a chain reaction of cars bumping into each other. T was in the second car in the chain...

Damage to back of car.
We went ahead and dropped the Civic off at the body shop this evening so they can give us an estimate and get started on the repairs. He has arranged to work from home the rest of the week.

His first works to me when I answered the phone were, "I have been in a car accident..." and oh man, I could feel the adrenaline dumping into my bloodstream. My mouth got that sharp metal taste and my hands got cold. Even though his next words were, "I am okay, not hurt, but the car is damaged in the front and back," I had a bad moment. This is Thomas though, he sounded like he was calling to tell me he was going to spend the day at the beach, cool and collected. I was the one who was falling apart for a brief moment.  It didn't take long to realize that this was a "good" accident, if there is such a thing. Nobody bleeding, nobody needed an ambulance, and everyone at the scene was calm and had insurance!

22 July, 2012

Let me introduce you to my two little friends

The Wonder Twins. On the left is the Generac generator. On the right, the (wrapped for winter) a/c unit.
See those awesome pieces of machinery? The one on the right is the a/c, which as far as I'm concerned is the most important invention of the 20th century. The one on the left is the generator Thomas and I bought this past winter, in response to frequent power outages over the past few years.

Buying the generator, having the gas lines attached to it, and having the concrete pad laid for it and the unit installed cost us about $5000 total. SO WORTH IT.

We didn't need it at all through the cold weather, but we lost power for seven days after the big storm at the end of June. Seven days. And during that seven days we managed just fine. The a/c did not work, the unit isn't powerful enough to run that along with everything else. What it does run is:
the fridge
ceiling fans
washer and dryer
the internet router and tv

With all that, we were comfortable, able to eat, sleep, and hang around the house just fine. We had clean clothes and cold food/beverages. I got together with a friend last night who told us that they were out of power for only four days and they lost $1000 worth of food from their fridge and freezer. The Generac helped us avoid those kind of losses!

21 July, 2012

Aw Punkin!

Meet Punkin.

Punkin in a reflective moment.

This is Punkin, a foster dog we are taking care of for CSAC, the Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center. She's 12, weighs about 20 pounds, has luxuriantly curly hair. She's very lively for an older gal.

She has a somewhat sad story. She was owned by one person from puppyhood, but when he died, the "family" took her to a kill shelter where she was in danger of unnecessary euthanasia. She's a good dog and very healthy, but she is TWELVE. In your average shelter that means you have very little chance of adoption, and thus, survival.

CSAC took her in. She was with another foster mother for a couple of months. That foster said that Punkin was so depressed for the first couple of weeks that she refused to eat and just moped around. We took her because her foster mother was going out of town for a month and could not take Punkin with her. We saw the depression/moping/refusing to eat/snapping at us for the first couple of days she was here.

We are thinking of keeping her. This is a nice dog who has settled in well, and I keep thinking that it is not good for her that every time she thinks she's home and safe, she has to go somewhere else and start over. My friend Christine once said that each time we re-home a dog, we take a litle piece of their heart away. Dogs are amazingly adaptable, but this girl is elderly. She deserves to settle down and not have her life upended again.

She's active and in shape. When the back door opens, if she sees a squirrel, she LEAPS from the porch and shoots off after it. She barks enthusiastically at people doing crazy ass behaviour like riding bikes by the house or jogging nearby when she's on a walk. Punkin can't be having with craziness like that. She likes people who approach her quietly and slowly, but doesn't like being grabbed. But really, who does?

20 July, 2012

Vacation...all I ever wanted

Just a few words about our Costa Rican vacation.

Costa Rica is beautiful and has the most! beautiful birds and a ton of wildlife. There are only about 5 million Costa Ricans (or Ticos, as they call themselves) and they are outnumbered by the birds, lizards, small mammals, and other animals. At the time of year we were there, it was also hot and sauna-humid every day (and night).

Bad things about the trip: Linda was sick most of the first week. She got a virus the week before and was still feverish and ill. Even when she was able to leave her room she didn't have much get up and go. It was sad...of all of us, she'd been most excited about the trip.

Neither of my nieces can sit still long enough at the breakfast/lunch/dinner table long enough for us to have what I call "civilized" conversation. By the final night of our vacation I was ready to drag them through a keyhole backwards for the way they whined during every meal. It really wasn't relaxing to eat meals with them, even though I cut tons of slack for the fact that they are only kids.

The good stuff:
Wow, the country is lush, tropical, and everywhere you look there is natural beauty.

Highlights were: a boat trip where we saw monkeys, crocodiles, and more birds than you can imagine; a snorkeling adventure where we saw more fish than we ever saw in Bermuda;  delicous DELICIOUS meals; waking to a view of the Arenal volcano the first four mornings of the trip; relaxing by the shade by the pool almost every morning; the lush tropical foliage and flora everywhere you looked.

Here are some of the pictures taken by various members of our party

Our view of the volcano at Arenal. We stayed at a resort where this view was the first thing we saw each morning. There were natural hot springs AT the hotel. We went zip lining and on a hike of the rainforest close by. One of nature's beautiful places.

There were iguanas (and his smaller lizard cousins) everywhere. This big guy lived near the pool at the beach resort we stayed at second. We would all be set up on our lounge chairs and he would be lounging nearby. I wasn't scared of him exactly, but I kept an eye on him!

A coati at the beach resort. They are about the size of a racoon and have much the same curious "into everything" attitude as a racoon. This bold fellow would get in people's bags looking for food if you didn't shout and wave your towels to warn him off. Check out the long nose!

The part of the coati you can't really see above. His tail is long and flexible!

Our first full day in CR we went on a 1.9 mi walk through the rainforest. We saw one monkey, one insanely large bird, about a million leaf-cutter ants, and much jungle vegetation. This is about the hottest I've ever been in my life. The humidity wrapped around you like a wet, wool blanket. This shirt was sweat sodden in the first five minutes of the walk, and stayed that way for the next two hours. On this walk we were either going UP a hill or DOWN one. The only level spots were the bridges!
A magpie-jay. Blue and bold and check out that hilarious feather that sticks up jauntily off the top of their heads. We took this picture on our house's balcony. It came in to eat some bread we laid out!
Our next to the last day there we went on a river ride. To get there we drove about an hour to get near a National Park. Then we cut off the main roads onto the bumpiest dirt road any of us had ever been on. It took us an hour to drive 20 kilometers to the park. Then we got onto a boat and took a two hour trip down the river to "Bird Island". We were fortunate to be there at a time when many birds were beginning to nest. We saw many birds building their nests, or actually sitting on them. So many new birds to put on my life list, the coolest of which was the Boat Billed Heron, which had a wide, almost cartoon-like bill. We saw several colonies of howler monkeys. They live the good life, doing little other than lying on tree branches, napping, grooming, and eating. The "howls" are more like a roaring sound than actual howling. Both troupes we saw had little baby monkeys (cute!) with them. We also saw crocodiles, which are not cute! at all.
Then it was back into the car for another hour back over the 20 kilometers, which were just as bumpy going as they had been coming!

Herons on Bird Island. They nest there.

The black blobs are howler monkeys.

Eating lunch at La Cima. The Garland family rode there on horseback. The other four of us arrived in our car! The closest we got to the "real" Costa Rica. A little family owned restaurant that served Costa Rican fried chicken and fried plantain and the coldest of cold beer - Imperial.

The lady at the table lead the horseback tour, and the man next to her (in the cap) was her husband. She's from Michigan and he is Costa Rican. They run a guest house and horse farm. We were grateful to her for telling us a LOT about life in CR.

Imperial beer, brewed right there in Costa Rica, went down well on a hot day!

The girls getting back on their steeds for part two of the trip.

Us all on the boat that took us to Bird Island.

We didn't get a picture of this bird on our own, so I found one on the internet. We DID see one of these on her nest, but could not get a good shot for a picture. Get a load of that bill!

"I am a boat-billed heron and I disapprove of this message!"

Costa Rica was beautiful, all the people we met were nice, and I would definitely go back.