Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I still love Better World Books

Get your bun-tush over to www.betterworldbooks.com and buy some books, for goodness' sake!

Hmm ...

Jack Russell terrier:
Black mouth cur:

Hmm. I have my doubts about that part chihuahua business.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A sad thing

It seems like a strange thing to say, but a friend of mine that I never met died suddenly yesterday morning. Her name was Renee, she was only 30 years old, and she leaves behind her husband Jason. I knew her thanks to the miracle of the internet, and the thing we had in common was the inability to have children. When my grandfather died, I felt like a black hole had opened up in the world--it was the feeling that someone who should be there isn't and won't come back. I never met Renee, but I knew her for years--I have that black hole feeling once again.

The reason I'm posting about Renee's death is not just because I've lost a friend who was very young, but also because her husband is asking that in lieu of flowers people help with the costs of the funeral. Funeral costs are ridiculously expensive: When Chris and I only had the life insurance Dallas ISD provided for free for $10,000, he said, "Well, if I die, that'll barely cover the funeral." Nothing seems right about that. I don't know if my pleas for charity ever get a response out of the gentle readership, but it's always worth a shot, right? If you're willing to help, you can send checks to:

Phillips Funeral Home
116 W Main St
Gilbertown, AL 36908
Please indicate for Jessica Renee Harvell
Remember that anyone can die suddenly and much too early, and that kind words are never said enough. And keep Jason and their families in your prayers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kitties ahoy

It occurred to me that I've hardly taken any pictures of the cats since Trent's death. Lucky for me, as Chris was packing for Huntsville they decided to be exceptionally cute. No pictures of Lemmy though--she's boring right now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Beginning of a Long Term Bit

After our recent trip to New Mexico we began discussing all of the places that we've been and realized that the list was pretty short. We decided that it would be a good idea to make a list of all the states that only one of us or neither of us had been to and finding something that we'd like to do in those places. Places we'd driven through on the way to somewhere else or layovers at an airport didn't count. Some of the states don't have much that we're interested in and will be lumped with one or more nearby states to make a pleasant road trip (the midwest/rustbelt states were notorious for this), some states only had one thing that we wanted to see and will be seen on a nice long weekend, and then there are the places that there is so much to do that we will be in that one spot for a week or longer. My new job will give me several three day weekends a year, plus a spring break and most of the month of July off, so we've got our vacations planned for us for the next several years.
Now for the explanation:

States we don't have to go to:
Texas: We live here, we've seen most of it, and while there are parts of it that neither of us have seen we can save those for those three day weekends after we've done all the three day weekend trips to the other states.

New Mexico: I suppose you could call this the first of these trips. The idea was generated in Las Cruces after all.

Arkansas: My family went there on a few vacations when I was a child. When we got to Texarkana my brother, who had been asleep for most of the drive, was most upset because he thought that Arkansas was an Arby's and didn't understand why we had driven so far for roast beef. Chandler had been to Hot Springs as a youth as well.

Missouri: Chandler grew up there, we were married and went on our honeymoon there.

Virginia: We've both been to lots of colonial places there, Williamsburg, etc. No need to go there.

Maine: Went there this summer, it was lots of fun.

Three Day Weekends:
Oklahoma City: Looks like a nice little city and I've always heard that the memorial there is just amazing.

St. Paul, Minn: Haven't done too much investigation, but it just sounds pleasant.

San Francisco: Not the only place in California we're going to go, but warrants a few days on it's own I think.

New Orleans: Not much for hedonism, but jazz is a good thing, and I'm a history dork.

Chicago: Nothing else in Illinois was interesting at all, this one was so obvious.

Charleston, S.C: Chandler went here as a young'n and liked it quite a bit, and as I say, I'm a history dork.

New England: Spend a few days in each of these states except for Maine. We know we want to go to Boston and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The other three states, Vermont especially, are still a little fuzzy, but lots of things were decided in Maine the day before, so I'm cool with that.

New York City: Not sure if this should be a spring break or a July. I have no doubt that we'd never run out or stuff to do in either case. I think that this will be similar to when we went to London. There's no chance we'll see everything we want to see, we may just have to do like we did there, get a solid guide book, pick out one big thing a day and a few smaller things and just enjoy what we have the opportunity to enjoy and not worry about the endless list of things we won't get to. With perhaps a day trip to Cooperstown. . .

Philadelphia, Delaware, New Jersey: This is one of the random clumping of states that we put together. There's too much to do in a long weekend and not enough to do in a full vacation. Philadelphia has all the great history dork excitement, Lewes, Delaware has lots of birds to watch, and a ferry to Cape May, New Jersey.

Maryland and Washington, DC: Washington is one of those rare places that I'd love to see all the stuff that people normally go to see. It also has the advantage of being lumped with Maryland with its really cool aquarium.

Florida Keys: I've been to central Florida twice, in the same year oddly enough, and that's a stressful vacation. I don't think I can think of an opposite to the stressful vacation than the keys.

Georgia: I've only looked at this a little bit, but there are some islands on the coast that Chandler has always wanted to go to. You can ask her for more info now, or wait for a little while for me to learn more and you can ask either of us.

Memphis, Natchez, and Tuskegee: Old and New South fun.

Isle Royale: A pristine island in Lake Superior. Gets Michigan done for us to fulfill the bit. I've been interested in seeing it for years and there's absolutely nothing else in Michigan either of us have any interest in.

The Grand Rust Belt Road Trip: This may be clumped with Isle Royale some July. Iowa's Effigy Mounds, I know not what in Wisconsin (Madison or Milwaukee most likely), Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Each has enough to it to hold us for a few days and are close enough together that we can go from one to another.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton: You get out west and the trips become less urban and more national park heavy. My parents and little brother went to Yellowstone this summer and loved it. Sounds good to me.

Glacier N.P. in Montana and something in Idaho: Not sure what in Idaho, but I'm open to suggestions.

Southwest Adventures: Sedona Arizona, the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest, Lake Mead in Nevada, Joshua Tree, Japanese internment camps. Lots of stuff to do people!

Hawaii: Pearl Harbor and Hawaii Volcanos.

Still Not Sure What To Do:
North Carolina: Surely there's something interesting there, we just haven't found it yet.

Kentucky and West Virginia: Seem like they go together somehow. Harper's Ferry in WV might have something.

Kansas-Nebraska: Corn?

Dakotas: Not quite as bad as Kansas-Nebraska, but close.

Utah and Colorado: Utah has lots and lots of national parks. There's also the appeal of putting a couch on the Great Salt Lake to see if it'll float. Denver may be the thing to do in Colorado, but further investigation may be required.

Oregon and Washington: No idea.

Alaska: So big it's intimidating.

Possibly Puerto Rico: Not a state, but by the time we're done it might have become one.

If you have advice on that last group of states it might be appreciated, but I make no promises. Also, if you do give advice, remember that it may be ten years before we get to it all, we live in a pretty big country after all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bors is ours!

We went out to Fort Davis and brought our little man home!! They gave him a nice, jaunty "going home" bandana (which you can see in the picture); and we packed him up and took him home. Conveniently, a shipment of goodies also arrived from Petco the same day, so Bors is swimming in rawhide and rope toys and other whatnots. We also got him a cute little bear made of wool and other natural ingredients that he's scared to death of. Maybe the cats will like it.

Bors is the laziest dog on earth. He's currently asleep in the laundry basket he commandeered last week. Naturally he's a little set back since we were gone for four days, but once again he's making wonderful progress. The head of the shelter told us that when he came back he wasn't the same pup he was before (in a good way), so this is definitely the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Note to self: must needs have new camera

I used to have a regular old film camera that could take real panoramic shots. It was shamelessly cheap, but it was perfection itself when (long ago) I took the tram up the Swiss Alps and needed some wide shots. And surely everyone remembers the ridiculous old way of taking panoramic shots by turning slightly and taking several pictures. But technology can only improve, right?

Instead of driving straight through El Paso on our way back to Marfa from Las Cruces, we took the Trans-Mountain Road through the Franklin Mountains and wound up at the Wyler Aerial Tramway. Yes! I'm up another tram! And El Paso sits serenely at the foot of the Franklin mountains, so it's quite the view. Fortunately, my trusty camera has a panoramic setting; unfortunately, it requires that you turn slightly and take three pictures. After you've taken the three shots, it magically puts them together to form a seamless panoramic picture ... right?

Yikes. And that's as good as it got.

Mesas! Cliffs! Highly unusual and unlikely rock formations! Huge swaths of town that look exactly the same as the swath next to it! My pea-brained camera certainly made the El Paso landscape a billion times more "interesting" than it really was!

I know just about every schmuck who thinks he has some kind of skill has a camera worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, and that's why I've been reluctant to upgrade from the point-and-shoot kind (even though I could whip their asses in the photography department--equipment is no substitute for talent). However, I think it's time to move on up into the world of high quality cameras ... or at least cameras with a real panorama setting.

Better pictures to follow at a later date.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dawg update

Bors is here to stay. Right now he's next to me taking a nap in his "playpen." The playpen is a laundry basket that he took over on his very first day. We've accommodated him by only using one basket instead of two, putting some blankets for comfort and a few toys for him to chew on.
We're going to meet some friends in New Mexico tomorrow for the Hatch Chile festival and will have to leave the pup with the shelter for a few days, as we are currently only fostering the little guy. However, when we get back on Monday (this may take place on Tuesday, depending on what time we get back from NM) we're going to officially adopt the little guy.