January 27, 2008

Not A Creature Was Stirring

After 11am and I'm the only one at home awake. The dog just wandered out after checking on me, no doubt he's headed back to the warmth and comfort of the bed, cuddled up against Liz, who's sleeping soundly. Even the rabbits are all dozing. I had quietly gone in a short bit ago, thinking that I'd get their morning feeding/cage tidying done, but all was quiet and still, so I crept back out and pulled the door to.

Our son was out very late. I have no idea what time he got home, because he beat us by a few hours at least. Yesterday, on a whim, I told Liz that if she let me nap from 6pm until 8 or so, I'd take her across the state line and she could spend some time playing the slots in West Virginia. We left the house around nine-ish and had dinner at an excellent 24-hour diner across from the Charlestown race track. The kind of place where the menu is about 15 pages of indecision-inducing variety including a full two pages of specials. It didn't hurt that our waitress was cute as a button and had that West Virginia country drawl. She also didn't hesitate to recommend that I stay away from the chili, since "I don't know who made it today, but it doesn't look good at all". It was busy, we had to wait a few minutes for a table, and when dinner arrived it came with an apology because there were nothing better than butter knives available. That last turned out not to be a problem because my pork chops (breaded with cracker meal) were fork tender and Liz's chicken parmesan was the same. We topped off our late dinner by sharing an enormous slice of heavenly cheesecake, easily big enough for two. A few weeks ago at some upscale eatery, Liz paid almost seven bucks for a slice of the same. This was half the price, twice the size and easily twice the quality.

Fat, dumb (me) and happy (Liz), we made the short run to the parking garage at the casino. Midnight on a Saturday is still prime gambling hours, but we found a space right next to the front entrance. Turned out to be the best luck of the night. I had brought a good book, and I settled in at the food court with a tall cuppa while Liz headed out to defy the odds.

A few hours later she pulled up in her power chair to check up on me. I'd gotten up a time or two for a quick stroll to stretch my legs, but mostly I'd been lost in my book. Neither of us had realized that it was after 3am, but Liz was ready to call it a night. The odds won as usual, but that's ok since she had fun and that was the main idea. Winning is gravy as far as I'm concerned.

Right down the street from the track was 24-hour super WalMart, and we had a short list of things we needed. We were going to have to go in the next few days anyways, so we made a quick shopping stop. Sharing the store with basically no one else except the stockers is different, dodging and weaving through the pallets and boxes stacked everywhere in organized chaos. The bunnies needed food, and the produce guy was kind enough to bring out the morning's freshest offerings early when he saw me picking through what was already out. After dealing with the surly drones at our local-est store, it was a little weird to have employees go out of their way to actually be, you know, helpful. I could get used to that.

Car loaded up again, we headed for home. Made one stop so I could get out and stretch and let the cold, cold morning air clear my sleepy head. I half expected a local cop to pull up to find out why we were parked in the darkened parking lot of a small-town strip mall. Got home about 6am, and Liz headed upstairs while I unloaded the groceries and got things put away. I whipped up a light breakfast and we were both asleep by 7:30.

The dog woke me up an hour ago to go out, and I just stayed up so my sleep cycle isn't completely out of whack. While typing this he came back and is curled up beside me, sharing the blanket I've got over my legs. It's Sunday noon now, and I've still got half a day left of a so-far excellent weekend. Hope yours was the same.

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October 29, 2007

October, You Can Stop Kicking My Ass Now

Wow, what a month.

I cried all over again today about Sam. I've already sent the animal hospital a thank you card because their compassion and professionalism made that difficult time a little more bearable. This wasn't the regular vet, this was another local one who could fit us in when we needed an appointment. So today we got mail from the animal hospital. Inside there was a sympathy card signed by the vet. No advertising, no handy fridge magnet with their phone number, just a very nice card.

Last Friday evening we got a phone call letting us know that my dad is in the hospital. He's got pneumonia and they put him in ICU because of some pretty serious complications. I started to make plans to fly out to Arizona to see him, but he's a fighter and responded well enough to treatment that he'll be going home in another day or two. We've gotten daily updates from his girlfriend but haven't been able to talk to him directly. It seems like we dodged one there.

Lastly, today I got some resolution about something that's been hanging over my head for a while now. Three weeks ago I had a biopsy done on my thyroid gland because they found a "nodule". Today the results came back (FINALLY!!!) and it's fine, normal, benign, whatever you want to call it. I'll be going back in a few months for another ultrasound, just to make sure it's not doing something scary. All the doctors were reassuring me that it looked harmless and wasn't frighteningly rare, but they still wanted all the tests done.

I think I mentioned that at my physical a year and a half ago, the doc put me on meds because my thyroid has slowed way down. This year, there were other indications that something wasn't quite right, so many tests were ordered. That's when they found it.

I went to the hospital for the "ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration". That's what the medical profession calls it. I called it "getting stabbed in the neck". What that means is that an ultrasound tech crushes your windpipe so the radiologist can aim reasonably well as he pokes you with a needle to get a core sample from the ol' carcass. It took them four tries, about an inch and a half deep into my throat, wiggling around inside to get 'em pointed where they wanted, with no anesthetic. The last two hurt like a mother. Afterwards, the adrenaline kicked in and I laughed like a madman (and it *hurt* to laugh) as Mookie led me through the hospital and to the car. I could've driven, but she was sweet enough to go with, so I let her drive. It hurt to talk for a couple of days and I couldn't shave for the rest of the week (boo hoo), and I worried myself sick over the results because they took so long to come back (what are they double and triple checking?!?!?!?). That, and I'm a damned baby.

So that explains the light posting lately. Dog dead, Dad sick, medical results pending... my life has been a freakin' country and western song.

C'mon November!

Posted by: Ted at 05:31 PM | category: Family matters
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October 23, 2007

Thunder Will Never Scare You Again, Sam

We had to put our dog, Sam, to sleep today.
We got Sam ten years ago from an animal rescue. He was four years old at the time. Our daughter Robyn has allergies, so her and I went looking for a dog that she could tolerate being around. Sam jumped up and bit her in the butt, and that's when I fell in love with him. We took him home with us.

His spirit was still strong, but his old body failed him. He's buried now in the backyard, where he loved to be.

Posted by: Ted at 04:57 PM | category: Family matters
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September 03, 2007

Bachelor Dad - redux

Got back a little bit ago from dropping Liz off at the airport. She's headed to Vegas for the week.

Why does it freak people out when they find out that she's off on her own? The whole idea of a powered wheelchair is that you *gain* some independence! Sheesh.

Posted by: Ted at 11:06 AM | category: Family matters
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August 03, 2007

A Pause for the Cause

Liz and I are headed to Charlottesville this morning to visit Mookie. Tonight we'll attend La Boheme. I'll be back tomorrow, in the meantime check out The Dangerous Blog (link on the post above this one).

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July 11, 2007

Special Day

Today is our 26th Anniversary.

Never My Love

by Don and Dick Addrisi

You ask me if there'll come a time
when I grow tired of you;
never my love, never my love.

You wonder if this heart of mine
will lose its desire for you;
never my love,
never my love.

What makes you think love will end
when you know that my whole life
depends on you?

You say you fear I'll change my mind
I won't require you,
Never my love,
never my love.

How can you think love will end
when I've asked you to spend your
whole life with me?

I love this song as performed by The 5th Dimension. I feel this song every day for my wife.

Posted by: Ted at 04:57 AM | category: Family matters
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December 07, 2006

Captain, There Be Mookie Here!

I drove down to Staunton, Virginia today to pick up Rachael for her Christmas break. It'll be nice to have her around for a while.

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November 05, 2006

I suppose I should also mention

I've told you before that oldest daughter Robyn is engaged to be married. The special date has been moved quite often as family commitments and schedules change (her fiancee and future brother-in-law are both military). On Friday, I got a call informing me that the date had changed once again.

Next month.

The reasoning is that since most everyone from both sides of the family will be here for Christmas, that they'll just a have a simple ceremony then. Later they can do something big and churchy if the mood strikes.

These two seem to have their act together, together. Their priorities are: 1. Robyn finishes school (next December graduation), 1. Henry gets promoted (studying hard for the testing), and 3. Have kids, in a few years.

My wife asked if my suit still fit. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

Posted by: Ted at 09:01 AM | category: Family matters
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September 25, 2006

A Gift for Gift Giving

Of the members of our family, I am, without a doubt, the worst gift-giver. It's not that I don't try or don't care, I just don't seem to have the knack for picking presents that make the recipient go "wow".

Mookie, on the other hand, approaches genius when it comes to giving gifts, at least when it comes to presents for papa.

For my birthday two years ago she bought me a much coveted hybrid rocket motor.

When Mookie went to London this spring, she brought back little presents for everyone, and mine was The British Museum "Little Book of Erotica". It's a digest sized look at naughtyness through history, from the first acknowleged sculpture of "doing it" (11,000BC!) up to Chinese pottery from the 19th century. An excellent gift, and it had the added bonus of shocking her friends when they found out she bought it for dad.

Also from London, she found a man who researched family crests. With some family history to help the search (a Commodore Phipps in the British Navy from the days of sail), they were able to track down which crest belonged to my particular branch of the Phipps family. Then she had a plaque made with the crest on it for Father's Day. It's still in the box, waiting for renovations to complete before being hung on the wall (click for bigger).


For my birthday this year, a small box arrived. When I opened it, this is what I saw:


I knew this was going to be good! You gotta love a company that can put a little whimsy into a surprise. Here's a close up of that little beastie:


And what kind of coolness did Rachael manage this time? Check it out.


It's a pen. It's a rocket. It's a rocket pen. And it launches from the pad. Too cool!

I'd suggest that y'all be very very nice to Mookie from now on, just in case she has occasion to buy you a present.

Posted by: Ted at 05:53 AM | category: Family matters
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August 31, 2006

Happenings around the ol' homestead

Health and well-being:
Thanks to everyone for the good thoughts and prayers. Things are slowly getting better. My boss was kind enough to give me the entire week off from work to take care of Liz while she recovers.

This next bit gets filed under "Me. Me. Meeee!": Two years ago I had a physical and everything was fine. A couple of weeks ago I went in for another and once again things were good. My cholesterol levels went down, which made me happy since they're near the upper limit of acceptable, but for the first time ever my doctor told me to lose weight. Up to this point, I've been getting by on good genes. My health is still excellent, but I'm middle-aged and have to start taking care of myself.

I've also been prescribed medication for my thyroid. Even as a kid in the Air Force my thyroid level was at the lower boundry of normal. Now my turtle-like metabolism has slowed to that of a rock, so I get to take this stuff for six weeks and get tested again to see if it's helping.

New Kitchen:
One nice thing about the company that we're working with on our kitchen remodel is that everything was done at our house. They would come to us rather than us having to travel to their 'showroom' whenever something needed to be taken care of. Yesterday we signed the contract after approving the finalized plans. Cabinets have been ordered, appliances paid for, and painfully large numbers have been written on checks. Demolition starts in about three weeks.

Free time?
Assuming Ernesto doesn't completely puss out and delivers some storm-like weather around here, I hope to be doing a batch of movie watching. If so, look for some movie reviews in the near future.

Blog stuff:
Derek asked if I'd ever listened to his Son of Cheese Half-Hour Power Hour, and I have to admit that I haven't. To be honest, I don't listen to any of the podcasts from my regular reads such as Wizbang!, QandO or Silent Running. The last podcast I heard was the Ken & Squip Show, and that was quite a while back. So there's your answer Derek. I'm pond scum.

I'm tired of that banner above. Look for something new as soon as I get around to it.

Posted by: Ted at 08:16 PM | category: Family matters
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August 29, 2006

Bitte. Danke.

Long-time readers know that my wife has some health issues. Life threw us a wicked curve last weekend. It's not life threatening, but we both need to be concentrating on her at the moment. If the cautious, initial diagnosis is correct, then things will be back to normal rather quickly. Otherwise, to paraphrase the Grateful Dead, "what a long, strange trip it'll be".

Good thoughts or prayers would be appreciated.

Posted by: Ted at 08:35 AM | category: Family matters
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July 15, 2006

Happy 18th Mookie!

All together now:

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday Dear Rachael,
Don't you dare get tattooed!

Posted by: Ted at 03:21 PM | category: Family matters
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April 15, 2006

An exellent day, although no rockets were involved

Yesterday was my wife's birthday. Liz and I both took the day off and we spent the day together.

There are three things that Liz loves to do: travel, gamble and shop. Me, not so much, but since it was her day that was the plan.

After sleeping in, we headed north a couple of hours to Dover, Delaware, home of Dover Downs racetrack and slot machine casino. We made a couple of stops before gettting there to check out a craft store on the way (Liz bought a couple of small items) and an Atlantic Books Warehouse (I think that's what it was called). Liz was excited to find it, says they're not very common in our area but have excellent prices. We browsed there for quite a while and I scored a couple of computer reference books (tax deductable, yay!) for half price.

After a very nice late lunch, we pulled into the casino parking lot and found a parking spot right in front. Would that be the extent of our luck? Or just a precursor to a run of good fortune?

As a gambler, Liz plays for entertainment. She's happiest on the penny and nickel slots, because her money goes farther and she can play longer. She has a set amount she's willing to lose, and the longer it lasts, the better. Personally, in my life I've probably dropped less than fifty bucks into slot machines, maybe not that much on casino gambling of any kind. Mostly, I wander around and people watch, or stand there and watch Liz play. I enjoy that.

I saw two things worth noting. First, there is a slot machine called "Winning for Dummies", with the standard yellow and black motif and graphics. Pretty funny. Secondly, there was one small area partitioned that contained the high-value slots. In there, I watched a guy drop at least $1500 into a machine at $50.00 a pull. It took him about 20 minutes to blow through that, although when he walked away he didn't seem upset. I guess he's a gambler.

Anyway, back to Liz. She was having a good day. What I did was every time she'd get way ahead, I'd make her cash out and start with a fresh twenty while I would go to the cashier and put away her winnings for "birthday" money. I did that four times, and when we left that evening, she was up over $130.00, playing nickel slots!!!

Next stop, the mall. Liz isn't used to buying for herself, she'd rather spend her money on the kids and I, but this time I was insistant, and she bought some things she's been wanting but couldn't bring herself to spend the money on before.

Traffic behaved on the way home, and for much of the ride we were treated to an amazing light show as a line of thunderstorms was slowly rolling towards us from the Southwest. We started seeing the lightning a long long way off and for a good hour our conversation was punctuated by frequent "oooooooh, that was cool" comments.

One last thing (I won't pretend that this was at all interesting to anyone), one of our local radio stations changed formats (last week?). Big 100 is now playing music that sounds like they're picking from my personal collection, with 60's and 70's rock. The most interesting part is that they've gotten rid of all their DJ's. You get canned commercial breaks and station identification segments, but other than that, it's all music. Considering some of the annoying nitwits that're on the air in this area, that's a very good change.

Happy Birthday, my love. Here's to many many more together.

Posted by: Ted at 06:57 AM | category: Family matters
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December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

We're doing the whole Family Christmas thing today, because the girls both have to work tomorrow.* Our son can't make it home either because of work, both today and tomorrow.

To all my friends, have a wonderful Christmas. May you have peace and joy, and may we all have health, good fortune and prosperity in 2006.

Click this to see a Christmas carol that I wrote years ago.

I sent out "Merry Christmas" emails to a bunch of people, if you didn't get one, check your old email accounts or leave a comment.

*Robyn and Rachael both work at a local answering service whenever they're home from college, and no student should pass up a chance for eight hours at holiday double time.

Posted by: Ted at 09:01 AM | category: Family matters
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October 14, 2005

Happy Birthday!!!!

Oldest daughter Robyn turns 21 today! Yay!

Don't do anything stupid.

Posted by: Ted at 02:49 PM | category: Family matters
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June 16, 2005

Busy stretch (Updated)

Today is my daughter Robyn's surgery. We're headed out in about an hour to run a couple of errands and then to the hospital.

Tomorrow is Mookie's party. So far the RSVP list is 35, with more casual commitments on top of that. By one of those happy accidents of scheduling, tomorrow is supposed to be the nicest day we've had in a long time after a long run of 90+ days with high humidity.

Saturday is putz around the house day. Specifically, Mookie and I will be adding insulation batts to the attic. That's pretty much the end of the energy conservation upgrade we've put into the house over the last few years. New A/C, new attic fan, new windows, new doors, and now the attic. Short of pulling down outside walls, th-th-th-that's all folks!

In further Mookie-related news, an in-state college has been recruiting her rather persistently, to the point of actually calling the house. Now you may recall that Mookie hasn't graduated yet, she'll be a high school senior next year. The college has waived the application fee and offered her the chance to enroll beginning in the fall with a program designed to let her get her high school diploma at the same time she completes her freshman year. They do that by using the general studies requirements (needed for any degree) to do double duty by also fulfilling her required coursework for high school graduation.

There's no obligation, so she's applied. We're all discussing this right now. I'm leaning against it, for the simple fact that her class schedule next year is full of solid classes that will challenge her and she'll be able to use in life. If she were taking 3 study halls and an aide block before leaving early for work I'd feel different, but right now I don't see any need to rush things.

So that's what's going on in my world for the next short while. If I'm quiet, you know why.

(Update) Robyn came out of surgery just fine. She's doped to the gills right now and sleeping. Except for one particular nurse, everyone at the hospital was amazingly helpful and kind. The food in the cafeteria sucked though. Who'da thought?

Posted by: Ted at 07:51 AM | category: Family matters
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May 24, 2005

Mookie News

She hasn't posted for a while, but she's still very much alive and kicking. In the county we live in, high school juniors must complete a research paper in order to graduate. They're given the entire year to work on it, and a lot of kids just barely squeak by on it (you may have met one this morning when you got your Egg McMuffin).

If there's one thing Rachael (aka Mookie) doesn't need, it's motivation to do well in school, so usually we just get updates on how things are going.

The other night, my wife Liz and I and Rachael went out. Over dinner I asked Rachael how her paper was going. Liz and I sat there stunned as she spoke for 20 minutes on her chosen topic: The National Theater Project, which was part of FDR's "New Deal". Without hesitation, she rattled off names, dates and places, and even tied it in with other similar programs of the day. The conversation went on for quite a while after dinner, even as we walked through a department store looking for something or other she needed (jeans maybe? I forget).

So between that, another huge research paper on the Canadian military in WWII, plus stage managing a show that the school chorus is putting on, she's been a busy busy bee. Yesterday I took her over to the Community College to get a library card and another reference book.

Hopefully, in a month things will settle down for her when school ends. Or maybe she'll just sleep for 36 straight hours and then charge right back into life.

Posted by: Ted at 05:48 AM | category: Family matters
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April 15, 2005

Proud Papa

We got word today that Mookie was selected to attend Governor's School. She's one of only 200 kids from the state to be selected for the Humanities program.

She's bouncing off the walls at the moment, and even the thought of spending all of July in school and away from home doesn't faze her.

Posted by: Ted at 09:34 PM | category: Family matters
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November 16, 2004

Snippet of conversation

Son: "I've been drinking that crap coffee they sell by the Metro. Why didn't you tell me there was a Starbucks down the street?"

Me: "You live at home. You can't afford Starbucks."

Posted by: Ted at 06:35 PM | category: Family matters
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November 04, 2004

Hoser no more!

I'm pleased to announce that my oldest daughter, currently attending school in Michigan, has been accepted into Old Dominion University here in Virginia. I'll be heading to the Great White North in early December to help her pack up all her crap and haul it back down here.

Closer to home and in-state tuition rates. Yesssssssss!

Posted by: Ted at 12:01 PM | category: Family matters
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