Staycation Recap

My little staycation is coming to a close today.  Hubby finally returns home later tonight, after his first flight from Asia was cancelled due to mechanical issues, and he was forced to spend another night there on Wednesday night.  The airline put all 400 passengers on his flight in a hotel overnight that was about an hour away, but in the end, everything worked out just fine.  He is quite ready to be home again, even though he will now be tackling another new challenge at work that arose while he was gone when some people in the company gave their two-week notices last week.  Let’s just say that he is going to be very busy for a while, if not for the long-haul.  I am quite ready for him to be home, too.

I enjoyed my little staycation and even accomplished quite a few needed chores around the house and yard.  I have also spent some time with friends and family, reading, watching movies and even cooking, believe it or not.  The only meals that I have eaten out over the past two weeks were with friends and family, and it has been nice to just relax here at home at mealtime, cooking for myself.  I discovered a new crustless quiche recipe with a kick that was fabulous, and I will try to share that recipe here soon.

Probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of the past two weeks was watching some of my all-time favorite movies, mostly after dinner each evening.  I averaged two or three movies each day and loved every minute of it.  Sometimes during normal days at home, I may turn on a movie while working around the house, but seldom do I actually just sit down and watch it without interruptions.  Not so with my movie time the past two weeks.

It is always fun to relive great movie moments, especially since a number of them are based on true stories.  Here are some of the moments I enjoyed reliving over the past two weeks.

2014-08-21 12.57.28-2

Katniss and Rue in their heartbreaking final moments together in The Hunger Games,

Robin Williams humbly thanking his class at the end of Dead Poets Society,

Helen Hunt, after an entire movie of quirky events, finally falling in love with Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets,

Bruce Willis and Ben Afflek in their final hurried and tearful moments together in Armageddon,

Chris Pine hearing the unbelievable announcement that their wine had just won the elite contest in Paris, beating the French wines against all odds in Bottle Shock, (true story)

Jodie Foster finally making contact and (and suddenly finding she has faith) in Contact,

The tearful, gut-wrenching goodbyes in Marley and Me that bring similar moments back home in a sad but wonderful way, and remind me how blessed I am to have loved many animals in my lifetime, (true story)

The lunar spacecraft triumphantly splashing down safely in the Pacific Ocean, despite the long odds of a safe return after a horrible explosion, in Apollo 13, (true story)

Sandra Bullock stubbornly believing in Michael Oher when others did not in The Blind Side, (true story)

The many delightful interactions between Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman in Fried Green Tomatoes,

Mr. Spock unexpectedly dying in The Wrath of Khan, leaving every living Trekie in shock,

Darth Vader delivering his most powerful and devastating blow against Luke by saying,  “No, I am your father,” in Star Wars, Episode V,

The final, history-making race in Secretariat, which (for me) is still the absolute best moment in sports ever, especially when I finally understood the back-story, (true story)

When Johan Hill shows the film of the unlikely baseball hero to Brad Pitt, a profound scene in a movie that I absolutely, positively adored after I saw it the first time, Moneyball, (true story)

And, one of the most fabulous movie twists *ever* near the end of Ender’s Game.  I won’t give that one away because too many people still have not seen this great movie.  I have since come back time and time again thinking about this movie and its subject matter, too.

I also started reading Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, “The Best Yes,” and it is a fabulous read.  I highly recommend it for anyone, man or woman, who can identify with the topic, even though the target audience is women.  It is a wonderful look at how we can all make better decisions in our lives in a very honest and practical way, while throwing in a good amount of humor along the way concerning her own life issues.

I also enjoyed setting up my new Galaxy Tab 3 by tackling that task a little each day.  Ironically, I just saw where Barnes and Noble just announced their newest Nook device, which is a Galaxy Tab 4 device with Nook included.  Their price for this 8G storage device is $179.  I paid only $199 for my 16G storage tablet, and the two look identical.  The overall specs on mine also beat their new Nook device, too.  So, I’m glad that I bought my tablet at Costco at that price, for sure.  I have both my Nook and Kindle apps on it now to enable me to read all of my ebooks on one device, with lots of storage room to spare, although my favorite reading device is still my Nook simple touch with the glo-light.

As summer winds down and we all get back to our normal routines soon, I am quite thankful that I had a nice way to pass this two weeks at home alone… well, almost alone.  My dogs are always good company, and thankfully, Red is doing just fine after getting stitches for his cut last weekend.  All in all, it’s been a good, relaxing time. :-)

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

5 Comments

Filed under Books, Faith, Family/Friends, Fotos, Fun, Inspirational Books, Movies, My Life, Photos By Me, Reading, Technology, Travel

My Little Staycation

My hubby has been gone overseas for over a week, and he will return home on Wednesday evening, barring no issues with any of the four flights he will have in a 24-hour period that day.  While I am used to his frequent travels, he is typically not gone over one weekend, much less two weekends in a row.  So, I am ready for him to be home once again, for sure.  I think he is more than ready to be home as well, especially to eat what he describes as “real food” with “real eating utensils” again.

So far, though, it has mostly been a good time here at home for me.  My goals for this time were to get a few chores done around the house and in the yard, while enjoying some quality reading time, watching some of my favorite movies, spending more time with friends and family, and just giving myself a little “staycation” break of sorts.  It has been a productive time as far as the chores, and I am feeling quite good about what I have accomplished.  It has also been a fun time of dining and visiting with some good friends, my mom and my son.  I really am blessed in so many ways, and I have truly enjoyed their company over the past week, spending a day with company followed by a day to myself each day last week.

I also splurged just a bit and bought my first tablet.  It is actually a smaller, older model tablet, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 with an 8″ screen, and it is just perfect to use while around the house, as it is very easy to hold in one hand while I’m sitting in my comfy chair.  Our Costco had a large display of them for only $199, and they are all new, not refurbished units.  That is a great price for a tablet, to be sure. Even though this tablet was preloaded with an earlier Android version, it quickly updated to Android 4.4.2 – Kit Kat, which was nice to see. FYI – I cannot find this unit on Costco’s website for sale, so it is likely only found in stores now.  I did find them for sale on Target’s website for $219.99.

Before I bought this tablet, I did just a bit of research online, including reading a comparison of the Galaxy Tab 3 to a comparable version of the iPad Mini.  While the review is from June 2013, I found it to be a good comparison of the two units.  Comparison of Galaxy Tab 3 to iPad Mini – Gizmag  Neither of these units are the most recent versions in their line, but I did not want to pay $400 or more for one either.  Finding the Galaxy Tab 3 brand new in the box was a great find, especially for only $199.  In fact, I’m tempted to buy another one for hubby for his birthday in October.  I especially like the fact that the Galaxy Tab 3 has a slot to expand memory with a Micro SD card, which I also bought at Costco for only $47.  The iPad Mini did not have a slot to expand its memory, which is a big negative in my book, for sure, and one of the main reasons we have not purchased any iPads to date.

Having this 8″ tablet at home is a perfect solution for most of my daily internet and computing needs, and I can now leave the laptop turned off most of the time, except for the times when I need to use it for typing or to work on photographs.  I am so frustrated with my laptop right now, and having this tablet will be a huge blessing for me.  It’s time to either upgrade my laptop, wipe it clean, or just resign to only use it when absolutely necessary.  For now, I am selecting option three.

Of course, something “challenging” always seems to happen when my hubby is gone for a long period of time, too, and last week was no exception.

On Friday, I took both of the dogs to the grooming shop that we have used for over twenty consecutive years.  Over the past few months, however, we have not been pleased with the job they have done on our dogs, especially when one particular girl works on them.  She is fairly new, though, and I have tried to give her the opportunity to improve, talking with her each time I take the dogs in to let her know exactly what our expectations are.  However, this time was much worse, as she cut our puppy on his stomach area pretty badly, and no one informed me of the cut when I picked him up.  It was well hidden on the inside of his leg, and I did not see it until the following afternoon when I was petting him while he rolled over on his back.  The cut was surprisingly large and looked quite bad.

I rushed Red to the emergency clinic for animals on Saturday, and he ended up getting five stitches.  I had to leave him there for a few hours, so after I left, I drove straight to the grooming shop to discuss this matter with the owner.  The owner immediately admitted fault and said that even she knew about the cut.  The owner had apparently told the other girl to inform me of it when I picked up the dogs, which she did not do, and the owner gave me a check to cover the full medical bill before I left.  I’m glad that she did not attempt to argue this matter with me, as I really like her so much.  After all, I have known her for over twenty years.

Despite my personal feelings for the shop owner, I suspect we will now change grooming shops in September.  I have the name of a lady that our vet recommends for this breed, so I guess we will give her a try.  It will break my heart in some ways, especially after doing business with the other shop for over twenty years, but I think it is a move that must be done now.  The owner could have simply picked up the phone and called me right away when she saw the cut for herself, and I could have taken Red to our regular vet on Friday afternoon before they closed for the weekend.  She did not call me, and that is the reason we will now switch groomers.  It was a poor and disappointing decision on her part.

Except for this incident, my little “staycation” has been a good one.  With three more days left until my hubby returns, I will hopefully get a few more little chores done and a few more good movies watched, all while keeping a watchful eye on Red and his injury.

Red will have to wear this awful contraption for the next ten days, when I can finally take him back to get the stitches out.  Poor little guy. :-(

Red wearing his "Cone of Shame"

Red wearing his “Cone of Shame”

 

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

2 Comments

Filed under Family/Friends, Fotos, Fun, My Life, Pets, Photos By Me, Technology

Contribute A Verse

I am sad to hear of the passing of Robin Williams yesterday.  It is certainly a tragedy, and I will pray for his family left behind today.  Truly, we all were blessed by his talent onscreen for so many years.  While I loved his comedy roles so much, I may have actually enjoyed his serious moments on the big screen even more.

This scene in the movie, Dead Poet’s Society, is one of my favorite movie scenes.  The timeless words of Walt Whitman are just as timely today as they were when he wrote them over one hundred years ago.

Perhaps we just don’t read enough poetry today.  I’m off to find my copy of Leaves of Grass now.

O Me! O Life!

By Walt Whitman

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
                                       Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Source: Leaves of Grass (1892)
_____________________

Post-publication addition:

Although I have mixed feelings about doing this, I would like to offer why I chose to share a quick thought on the passing of Robin Williams today, based on a comment that a stranger attempted to leave on this post today.  Perhaps I should have included this in my original post, too.

I certainly did not worship or idolize this man.  He was just a very talented actor, and he made me laugh more times than I can count.  His roles and dialogue sometimes caused me to think a bit.  His tortured life mirrored the lives of too many people close to me, especially his life-long struggle with depression and addictions.  After dealing quite directly with someone who suffered from a truly life-threatening addiction and another person who has attempted suicide twice, in addition to suffering from depression and addictions, I have a special sympathy for anyone who struggles in this way.  I’ve seen this horrible suffering up close, and I’ve felt significant negative effects in my own life, to be sure.  I remain assured of my own inability to make it go away in their respective lives, too.  I know that it was nothing short of a miracle that Robin managed to have such a successful career and life as he struggled simultaneously with this disease.  Seeking good professional help, he successfully overcame it for a very long time, too.  He even went overseas many, many times to entertain our troops, much like Bob Hope did in his time.

It truly breaks my heart when anyone with this disease loses their battle in such a heartbreaking way, and today, I wanted to just acknowledge one special moment in his career that particularly spoke to me.  Nothing more.  The thoughts of one particular commenter (who obviously knows nothing about me) that seemed to insinuate a “worship” relationship, when I simply desired to acknowledge the life (and tragic death) of a fellow human being, are beyond disappointing, if not insulting.  Grief for a fellow human being’s struggle and his loved ones now sadly left behind is a loving thing, so I will not publish such negative and judgmental comments here.  I have endured suicides of two family members, and I know how the family of Robin Williams feels right now.

So, to the person who attempted to leave such a negative comment here today, please know that I have chosen to not share your comment here for these reasons.  Hopefully you will be spared such torture in your own life and the lives of those you love.  Sometimes it is best to just keep those negative thoughts to yourself, although I know the temptation is just too much for some to pass up these days.

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

2 Comments

Filed under You Tube

Reconnecting With Friends

Once again, life seems to be in just a bit of upheaval here again, but thankfully, it is nothing like we had back in the winter when my mom fell and broke her hip.  It is more a confluence of little things and slightly larger things that are taking my precious personal time that I try to guard as much as possible until circumstances demand some of it.  I am missing my quieter mornings right now, for sure, but hopefully things will return to normal soon, too.

I managed to take some time off earlier today to reconnect personally with a high school friend who is in town for a couple of weeks to see her elderly parents.  We have not seen each other in person since 1976, although we reconnected a few years ago on Facebook.  My friend and I met for a tentatively scheduled two-hour coffee visit at Starbucks, and four and a half hours later, we had to finally cut off our visit with the hope that we will be able to get together one more time before she leaves to return to North Carolina.

On my drive home, I felt especially blessed to have been able to reconnect recently with so many long-lost friends from my younger days, and I have been truly amazed at how we have all been able to pick right up where we left off.  The love and caring concern is still there in every reunion, and I realized that I have so many dear friends, even though we have been apart for decades.  I have also been amazed at how similar a path many of us have walked in our respective lives as far as life challenges, too.

Today, my friend and I discovered that we share several similar family struggles, including one that is quite unique.  This certainly helped to fuel the discussion for our extra long visit, but we also found that the friendship that we enjoyed in high school was founded on such a solid foundation that we will likely be dear friends the rest of our lives, despite the fact that we live hundreds of miles apart.

There are days that God sends such a special treat my way when I need it most, and this was one of those days, a special reunion with a dear friend that blessed me in such a wonderful way!  I am especially grateful today, and I have cried tears of joy… always a good thing.

This beautiful song has been a favorite of mine for decades, and it expresses my heart so perfectly today where my friends, both new and old, are concerned.  May it bless you richly today.

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

7 Comments

Filed under Faith, Family/Friends, Friends, Inspirational People, My Life

Our RV Trips Map

My new permanent page is now up!  Even though this is just a start for this page, I think it is a good start.  This page can also be found going forward at the top of my site, just above the header.

Header

Our RV Trips Map

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I am working on this permanent travel page that is mostly related to our RV trips, and here’s why.  It is pretty common to find such a map on blogs of people who are living full-time in their RVs and even on some that just take a number of extended, long-distance trips.  As you probably already know, we are mostly RV weekend “warriors” and longer RV vacation travelers, but we have attempted to visit as many state parks as we could over the past three years since we purchased our RV.  We live in a part of the country that is too often bypassed by tourists, based on our sometimes well-earned reputation for harsh weather at times, but I believe that is an unfortunate situation because there are some absolutely stunning places to see in our part of the country.  Actually, visitation is on the rise, as more people discover the epic beauty of some of these places for themselves.

For instance, the #1 rated state park in the nation, as rated this year by Fodor’s, is Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which sits just south of Amarillo.  Amarillo is located right on I-40, one of the busiest interstates in the nation, yet I am amazed at how many people in other parts of the country have never even heard of Palo Duro Canyon.  It is the second largest canyon in the United States, and it is just a magnificent sight to see anytime of the year.  So with this one example in mind, over time, I hope to share a little more about this greater West Texas region for those that might consider adding it to their travels plans at some point in the future.

I recently read listened to Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck, narrated by Gary Sinise, and I would highly recommend that book, especially this audiobook, to anyone that has a bit of wanderlust in the soul.  One quote really jumped out and stuck in my mind concerning the big highway systems, too.

When we get these thruways across the whole country, as we will and must, it will be possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing.
John Steinbeck

I. could. not. agree. more!  Even with all of the travel resources at our disposal these days, most of them for free online, we are still drawn to these super-highways and away from the real parts of our country that, to me, make it so very special and unique.  I also look at many of the commercial RV parks and how RVs are literally just crammed side by side, and I know in my heart that this part of the RV lifestyle will never be for us, except for a short-term stay at times.

From the very beginning three years ago, our desire was to get away from the urban centers more during our limited vacation time, and travel to state and national parks as much as possible.  Since then, we have visited over twenty such parks, and we have made some fabulous memories with friends and family, just doing simple things together, such as hiking, biking, cooking over real campfires, playing games, looking at skies full of stars that took our breath away, seeing and listening to some really wild animals, watching breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, meeting people from just about everywhere and talking with them at length, and most of all, seeing so many of the “little” places that we would never have seen otherwise.  Even on our most recent trips to Kauai and Big Sur, we once again found ourselves in the middle of some exquisite state parks, as that almost seems to feel like “our thing” to do now.

I adore seeing more and more young families in their tents, pop-up campers and small trailers doing the same thing, too.  I have never seen a kid that didn’t like to go camping, and I hope in some way to also encourage more families to give camping a try, in whatever manner you are most comfortable.  We camped in a tent for years in our early married life, and those were some of the best memories ever.  I’m probably beyond tent camping days now, but I wouldn’t trade for those fun times either.

Hubby travels extensively for business, and over time, he has grown quite weary of airline travel.  It has lost its’ appeal to him for vacations now, and that is yet one more reason why we made the decision to buy the RV.  We certainly still enjoy the occasional trip to places further away, for sure, but we absolutely adore getting away regularly in the RV now and bringing our two special four-legged pals along with us.

While more detailed information on my travel page is still in process, I finally have the map ready to share.  I hope this will be a good start for anyone that might want more information on places to visit and camp in this greater West Texas area.  I have only listed the places we have personally visited to date, though.  Hopefully in a few weeks or months, I will finish the page with a little summary of each place we’ve visited, too.  As we visit new places, they will be added to this same map.

Unfortunately, the map is quite large and will be best utilized by opening it up at the “View Larger Map” link, shown just below the map on the left or by simply clicking the link provided here.

Our RV Trips Map
(click here)

Learning to create and use this interactive Google Map has been a bit of a challenge, but it seems to work very well when the full map is used.  So, please… check out the full map!

The map has three main categories, which is the most I can create for free apparently, and they can easily be toggled on and off on the map, as desired.

1.  State and national parks/forests where we have camped (Must-see places are denoted by *)

2.  Other campgrounds where we have camped

3.  Places of interest for any visitors (All places on this list are highly recommended. I have also included a few restaurants in several areas, too.  We all have to eat, of course, and if you dine out of the RV for one meal in an area, you have my recommendation on where to go. Please check to see if reservations are suggested, too.)

While I had RV travelers somewhat in mind when creating this map, it can certainly be a little travel guide to these areas for others, too.  These beautiful parks are certainly not just for campers, especially since many of them have other lodging options inside the park or very close by.  There are many more points of interest that I could share on the map, but for now, I felt it prudent to just stick with the more popular ones that I would most recommend to visitors with limited time in the area.  Of course, that is just my opinion, too.  Over time, I think I will add more points of interest, featuring more of those “little” places we’ve discovered.

One way to quickly “tour” the map is to just click down the list of each of the places in the box, and a small box will pop up with a photo and a web link to the internet site for that page.  You can also click directly on the map icons to bring up the information boxes, too.  I personally selected the best photos and link online for each place just under the photo, along with any posts that I have written about that park and a few brief comments about it.  Again, please use the larger map for this feature.

Map Information

We hope to continue to explore new parks over time, with a goal of visiting at least one new park each year.  We have grown so fond of several of the parks we’ve already visited, though, that it is a little tough to pull ourselves away.  But, Texas has so many wonderful parks that I’m sure we will continue to push on out to explore even more of them as time off from work permits.  We have certainly enjoyed really getting to know several of these parks and their staff members so well that they feel like our home away from home now, too.  I’m anxious to share even more about so many of these great places here as well.

While I continue to work on the travel page, I am happy to answer questions about any of these places shown on the map.  Just leave a comment below with your question.  If I cannot answer it, I’ll try to find an answer for you.  ;-)

The greater West Texas area is a special and unique and often quite wild part of the country with some amazing scenery to share and some special stories to tell to those that take the time to see and hear them.  I can tell a few myself.  I hope this map helps to begin to share just a few of those stories to you, too.

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

9 Comments

Filed under Camping, Family/Friends, Fun, My Family, My Life, RV, Travel

Found

What I am sharing today is probably more for me personally than for you, dear reader. I was a part of this wonderful conference this past weekend, and I want to share it here for keeps.

We laughed together, especially about salsa.

We cried together, when many women accepted Jesus Christ.

We worshiped together, in loud and perfect harmony.

We prayed together.  I will never forget Mary’s prayer.

We hugged together. A total stranger totally blessed me.

I fell in love with Jesus all over again, and I have been powerfully reminded once again of whose I am. God works in mysterious and not-so-mysterious ways each and every day, and my cup of gratitude absolutely overflows once again today.  I can only imagine what Heaven will be like one day, after singing along with 7000 other women in unison praise this past weekend.

Our lesson for these two days was based on the first chapter of John, and it was a timely one for me.  May it never leave my mind or my heart.

“You’re all I need to feel alive.  This heart has FOUND its’ home.”
— “Found” by Travis Cottrell

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

2 Comments

Filed under Faith, Gratitude, Inspiration, Inspirational People

Wordless Wednesday – Ruins

Ruins

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

Leave a comment

July 9, 2014 · 1:11 pm