Saturday, January 11, 2020

Happy New Year!

I hope that your holidays were everything you could have wished.  Mine were ok aside from being troubled by the general situation of the United States in the regard of the world.  There is also that idiot we've elected President but let's not go down that path to doom and destruction!  I can't say I have much admiration for either party these days.

We had friends visiting between Christmas and New Years.  They are perhaps our closest friends though we live a thousand miles apart.  The guy is great; the woman is as well but can be somewhat trying; but we manage.  This isn't a resort town so we spent a LOT of time together.  I know that one of our first trips with our new dog, Ollie, will be to see them.

I've been doing a lot in the kitchen lately.  Our daughter was here for Christmas Eve and we had a ham so any cook knows what is coming along:  ham leftovers!  Yes, I've done ham and cheese omelettes, ham and bean soup and more - not forgetting the simple ham sandwich!  Of course there is Hoppin' John for New Year's Day.  BUT, I did insist on a rather large ham so I'm not complaining.

We do have a pretty house these days.  Well, especially outside.

Our celebration is rather subdued since neither of us believe in God but we were both raised in Christian households so honor the holiday.  For us it is simply an enjoyable time when all those other people try to be nicer to one another than usual.  Isn't that sad? Why can't they start with being nice to one another?

The dog is coming along nicely.  He is responding to commands and (knock on wood) hasn't had an 'accident' in the house in a couple of weeks.  His hair is taking it's own sweet time growing back - like maybe never!  I guess we'll just have to see how it goes.

Otherwise it it a normal Navada day. A belated Happy New Year to all.  Take care.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Happy Holidays!

Well, Christmas is almost here and other holidays seem to be sprinkled around this time of year:  Chanukah and Kwanzaa spring to mind.  So I guess all religions are causing their believers stress.  Happy days indeed!

Yes, I am a grouch.  Yes, I am a non-believer.  Please don't bother to tell me how wrong I am; plenty of people have done that already.  I was probably rude to them in return.

We are having a Christmas eve luncheon with our daughter today.  She is all excited about going on a trip after Christmas so we'll get to hear lots about that later today.  Then on Friday we will have friends coming to visit for a couple of days.  It's been a long time since we've been together and we are looking forward to catching up with them.  Of course having guests means extra cleaning, planning special meals, etc.  Lots of fun!

Every day when I drive into town (we live in a sort-of subdivision a couple miles from the center of town) I see three or four flags or banners calling for re-electing President Trump in 2020.  It makes me feel like I don't belong here at all.  The President is just so foolish, so self-centered, so bad at being the representative of our country.  Of course, I have trouble liking any of the Democratic candidates but Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence are just disgusting.  I remember hearing in 2016 how happy the people of Indiana were that Mr. Pence was being taken off their hands.  It is the only argument I can imagine that makes not-impeaching President Trump a good thing. 

Speaking of the Democratic candidates, wow, what a bunch of losers!  And the front runners are mostly old.  Don't get me wrong, old isn't automatically bad but Bernie Sanders is 78!  I mean the average life expectancy of men in this country is only 76.  Let's be darned careful about Bernie's running mate because we're probably going to inherit him or her.  Then again the Democrats all sound like they think socialism is what our country needs.  I can't think of a better way to lose the election.  I do like Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg but neither has any federal governmental experience.  Elizabeth Warren has experience but she is 70.  Oh well, the Russians will probably give the election to Trump anyway!

So, have a Merry Christmas, happy Chanukah or joyous Kwanzaa!  On to 2020.  Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Something different

We've been doing a lot of international travel since our beloved pets died 6 and 7 years ago.  The dog had a cancer that was operated on several times and it just got to the point where she would still be in recovery at the time a new eruption would be found.  The vets just could not get all of the cancer out of her.  The cat just died of old age.  We took the opportunity and traveled via cruise ship a lot but also just taking a month and visiting Italy or Australia or wherever.  Well, that's over now!

Saturday, Nov. 30,  we went out to lunch then thought we would stop by the local animal shelter to see if they had any new dogs that we hadn't seen before.  Long story short:  we brought home our new dog!  It's a weird dog for sure.  It doesn't pull on the lead much when you are walking it but it is totally untrained.  Of course we don't know what it's previous owners called it so we can't call it by name.  However, it doesn't know any of the common commands:  come, sit, stay....  He doesn't even know how to play.  If you bounce a ball in front of him, he watches you but has no real interest.   We were told that it was found out in the desert abandoned and covered in stickers so it was shaved!  They said they thought it was a year old and starving.  On Wednesday we managed to get in to see our vet and she suggests the dog is more like six or seven years old and we believe her to be correct.  The dog just doesn't act like a young dog.  Also, he weighs something like 57 lb (25kg) and while you can fell his ribs they aren't sticking out as though he was starving.  So anyway, here's a photo of Ollie our new dog.
According to the animal shelter, Ollie was shaved in late September or early October and his coat is still not growing out.  The vet suggested that the follicles might have been burned and the hair may never recover.  At any rate, he looks like he was shaved last week by a drunk who didn't know what he was doing!  There are little tufts of hair here and there but large portions of his coat has hair that is perhaps 1/16th of an inch (1.5 mm) long.  We'll see.

He is pretty smart and he definitely responds to food!  He's learning his name, sit and come.  He is a long way from perfect but it's coming along.  We have a crate for him to sleep in since he isn't house trained at all.  We put him in the back seat of the truck and took him on a trip to Las Vegas that worked out really well.  There is a restaurant/bar called BJ's that has a small outdoor area and they said having a dog out there was just fine.  He was really good just waiting for us by our feet while we had lunch.  We are already thinking of our first trailer trip with him!

When we flew to Norway to take that North Atlantic cruise something happened to my back and I've had pain ever since.  Before the cruise we would walk around our neighborhood about 2.5 miles (4 km) 5 or 6 times a week.  I still can't walk a tenth of that distance without severe pain.  Just shopping in the grocery store can send me for more ibuprofen.  The doctor sent me to Physical Therapy but after 10 visits I've had only minimal improvement.  They are going to try dry-needling which sounds like a semi-copy of acupuncture.  It would be cool if that worked!  However I'm scheduled to visit a orthopedic specialist the first week of January.  Should be lots of fun too. 

So, that's all the news from around here.  Thanks for stopping by.  Hopefully I'll manage to update this before but if I don't have a Happy Holiday - whichever you celebrate!

Friday, December 06, 2019

Not a lot going on!

Well, we managed to make things calm and comfortable at home again so there isn't a lot to report.  Well, a little.

Went to our daughter's in Las Vegas for a Thanksgiving luncheon.  It ended about 3 pm and we headed off home.  That means going up through a 5,400 ft pass (1,600m) and, since it was raining in Las Vegas, it was snowing on the pass.  The bottom line is that we've never driven the Escape in anything over rain.  As it happens, it turned out really well!  We'd be stopped and giving the gas a little touch, the car moved ahead very easily.  Since the traffic was moving at about 1 mph, that worked going up hill.  Coming down, we gave the car ahead lots of room but braking was never a problem either.  So, we're thrilled!

Other than that, it's a quiet time.  We are looking for a dog to make our house stinky again but it's a work in progress.  We'd really like a shelter dog but we'll see.  Sorry for the short update but it's quiet around here!  Take care.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

More travel!

Ok, so we've been gone again.  This time we do have a really good reason though!

My wife's sister-in-law passed away from pancreatic cancer recently and her husband (my wife's brother) was holding a Celebration of Life to memorilize his wife.  It was held in a small town near their home on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.  I've never attended such a celebration but this was quite interesting.  She was a poet so various people read their favorites from her poems.  It was quite a fitting sendoff.  Of course having someone close to you die of such a terrible disease is really quite awful.  In her case it was especially nasty because originally there was hope that it was operable and in the end it was not.

The ceremony did lead me to think about what I am doing with my life and I believe I'll be making some changes to give more back to our community.  I was thinking that if it were a celebration of my life it would only be family members attending.  I need to do more.

Because of the sadness of the occasion I didn't bother trying to take photos but there were sure some opportunities!  That part of the world is both beautiful and depressing at the same time.  Locally it is called Washington's Banana Belt.  Well, you could have fooled us!  Rain, mist, cloud and just plain wet was the order of the day.  You fly into Seattle then drive about 3 hours so that pretty much takes a day.  Coming home is another day.  So on a 5 day trip you spend 3 with the people you've come to see.  Yeah, I guess you could compress it if you wanted but I'm over 70 and don't want 12 or 14 hour days. 

Now it seems as though things will settle down for a bit.  We have no travels planned so anything that comes along will be a surprise.  Right now the things on my calendar are getting lab work done and my annual visit with the doctor.  Talk about hot stuff!

So this is what Washington looks like in good weather.  This was taken July of last year on the Washington shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 02, 2019

A little trip...

So I really do like being home.  However, my wife and I just got back from another little jaunt so I can't whine about it being dull quite yet.  This time it was 'business'. 

For several years I've been a member of a board that is supposed to tell the Dept. of Energy, Environmental Management people what local people think about the Nevada National Security Site - aka the Test Site.  You may remember it as the site used for testing atomic weapons back in the day.  Well, it's still there and parts are still radioactive and all is off limits except when you are taken on a tour.  It is 31 miles 'as the crow flies' from home so that is the excuse for me being on the board.  Actually, I'm just interested because of it's place in history.  Once a year the group gets a tour to visit things we'll talk about in the coming year and I always invite my wife.  We spend the day wandering around the site (on a bus with guides!) seeing places that are scheduled to be 'cleaned up' in the next year.  Security is pretty tight:  cameras and phones are banned and the guards do carry guns

I am not afraid of radioactivity so long as it is far enough away so visiting these places is always interesting.  Some of the pollutants need to be cleaned up; some simply cannot.  One place I remember was a concrete bunker that was polluted with some cleaning agent.  We recommended that it be locked and signposted as 'Do Not Enter'.  Recently the DOE transported hundreds of truck loads of dirt from one place to another because the first area is on an Air Force base and was needed for training.  It seems silly to move dirt but those tests ended in the 1990's and it was still polluted today.  The site has special areas reserved for Low Level Polluted Waste and that's where the dirt ended up. 

ANYWAY, every year there is a meeting of people from our board and other similiar boards from around the country.  This time I got to represent our board and the meeting was in Sun Valley, Idaho.  We've been near Sun Valley but never in the actual town.  It turns out to be a pretty little place and the resort we stayed in was quite nice.  The meeting was a day and a half (and pretty dull) but we also got to tour part of the Idaho National Laboratory.  We got to visit the EBR-1 nuclear reactor built back in 1953 and some other reactors still being used for various tests.  It wasn't as historically dramatic as I find the Test Site but it was very interesting all the same. 

We could have flown but decided to drive just because we haven't seen all that northern Nevada has to offer.  It is a 600 mile (970 km) trip one way but we were in no hurry so we made it two days up and two back down.  We got to visit a few new Nevada towns and see a bunch of pretty scenery.  No photos unfortunately because it was cold and windy.  When we were touring the Lab. areas photos were not allowed anyway; and yes, their guards carry guns as well.

So that's what we do for fun.  Drive, drive and drive some more.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Coming on home...

So last time I left you we were having an 'at sea' day to get to Greenland.  I was looking forward to Greenland just because the place seems pretty difficult to reach.  On Viking ships, and I believe most, you get a little 4 or 5 page news release every night.  On this night we received one extra piece of paper:  a Projected Weather Forecast. 

"Due to strong winds of up to 40 knots at the entrance of Prince Christian Sound, we will not be able to enter the Sound at our scheduled arrival time of 06:00 AM.  The wind is forecasted to drop during the morning of September 21 and the planned entrance is now amended to 1:00 PM.  This will allow us an enjoyable scenic sailing through the sound utilizing day light.  With this change in schedule, we will be unable to make our call to Nanortalik, Greenland."

Grrr!  But in the end it was actually rather fun.  Cruising the sound in the afternoon meant lots of photo op!  Here we've been sailing in open water for a week and suddenly it gets pretty narrow.
One of the things that, well, I just don't understand is how people live places like this.  I've spent my adult life in cities and suburbs.  Even now, living in rural Nevada; this isn't what you'd call empty.  There are police and fire fighters and stores.  It isn't like that some places and this had some of them.
The folks who live in this little community seem probably to be on their own.  I'm sure there is a tiny store there where you can get things or at least get them shipped in if you request them but it's not like the FedEx guy will be bringing your Amazon order in 2 days.  I want to give you another view of the town that shows a little more of the area.
That is one tall mountain! 

This is a glacier that comes right down to the ocean.  Sorry about the rain flecks on the window but we weren't being encouraged to go outside.
I was walking through the pool area and looked over to notice how close we were to land.
They have a pool grill where you can eat but on this cruise it was pretty unpopular.  It was just too cold.

The next day, day 9 of our cruise, we reached Qaqortoq, Greenland.  It was supposed to be our second stop in Greenland but it turned out to be the only one.  It is a cute little place with, of course, lots of fishing boats.  The houses must be in some order with roads, etc. around them but it sure doesn't look like it.
They do believe in color on their houses.  There is a fountain in the 'center' of town that was pretty cute.
A few years ago a group of sculptors decided to make the town their own and there are little pieces of artwork all over the place.
It was just a very cute little place.  And if you are there and need to meet people, there's a place for that.

 We, however, got back onto the ship and headed off for Canada.  Monday, our 10th day of the cruise, was another 'at sea' day.  On Tuesday we reached L'Anse aux Meadows, Canada.  It is thought to be the first Norse landing in the Americas.  There were two things we were visiting:  a reproduction of the village and the location of the actual village.  Apparently people have thought this was the place where Leif Eriksson landed for many years but there was no proof.  Then in 1960 the remains of the original buildings were found perhaps a mile from the reproduction village.  So first we visited the reproduction village.  The houses were all sod covered, this happens to be the church.
Some of the buildings were rather large.
Inside they had people doing what Viking settlers might have done:  weaving, iron working, etc. 

After checking out the village we went over to see the 'real thing'.  The Canadian park system has an office on a hilltop then you walk down towards the water.  What you find is this.
The archaeologists dug into the little bumps and discovered proof of the Viking origin then covered it up again simply to preserve it.  They had little plaques saying this place was a forge or that one a home.  Still, it was a nice place to visit.

Well, after all that excitement, we had another 'at sea' day getting us to Saguenay, Canada.  There was supposed to be a stage show for us to learn all about fur and timber trading back in the day.  It was rainy and the ship was docked quite a distance from the theater so we made an executive decision and stayed on the ship!  Saguenay is only about 240 km from Quebec City so it's pretty much a city.

Our 14th day on the cruise was a stop in Quebec City.  We took the included tour that was the worst tour we've ever been on for one simple reason:  there were at least five other ships docked in Quebec City and each one had a tour going over the same places!  There were tourists EVERYWHERE!  What little bit we saw of the city we liked but there has to be a time when the place isn't overrun by tourists.  The photos we got were just awful so I have none to share here.  I mean it was just stupid. 

The final stop on the cruise was Montreal and we visited there just last fall so our version of seeing Montreal was getting long-hauled by a cab driver to get to the airport!  Honestly, we got the same treatment last fall so I'm over Montreal.  But the airport was nice.  We had a short flight to Detroit then another home.  Las Vegas looked pretty good and it wasn't cold!

That's the end of the trip.  Hope you've enjoyed hearing about it and maybe you'll go check out some of these places.  We love traveling so there will be more.  Take care and thanks for stopping by.