Bucket List Trip, Coming Right Up

It has been an eventful week, as my hubby started his new job responsibilities on Monday, right after returning from his two-week trip to Asia.  We moved him into his new office last weekend, and it took almost all weekend to accomplish that task.  Our two four-legged helpers came along and provided several laughs as they explored the new space and climbed the stairs enough to wear them out by the end of our work days.  It was nice to have some comic relief from them, for sure.

Back in May, we originally planned a return trip to northern New Mexico for the upcoming holiday weekend, but we recently changed our minds and opted to just make a trip by plane to Colorado this time.  I do not think we would have had time to properly load and prepare the RV this weekend, given the necessary job transition duties this week.  In fact, just showing up at the airport and boarding a plane for a short ride sounds pretty good, but I know we will miss having our RV on this particular trip, too.  It is a bucket list destination, and we are both excited to finally be on our way to check it out on Saturday morning.  I am playing John Denver pretty much non-stop to properly prepare for this exciting experience, too.  I always know that it will likely be a good trip if I am packing my hiking shoes.

We are also ready for cooler weather, if only for a weekend.  While we have not had 100 degree temperatures, it has been close to it for some time now, with only a small amount of rain.  I’m feeling my “tired of summer heat” blues, and I’m ready for autumn once again.  Autumn is not quite ready for us here at home, however, so we are going to go searching for it.  I think we are likely going to find that cooler weather, as well as some rain.

Mountain Area Forecast
Forecast for our destination

I am particularly grateful today for the ability to research travel destinations online, and I will be spending some time today doing just that.  I know that I take this resource for granted a lot these days, but when I remember what we had to go through in previous decades to plan a trip to a new destination, I quickly realize what a great tool the internet can be in this respect.  And, I am also grateful for our Garmin as well.  No more traveling with huge paper maps, attempting to navigate on packed roads in unfamiliar places!  Now, Lola just talks us through it, or at least she tries.  She is a good sport as we sometimes try to argue with her on the route we think is best.  Do you remember who first gave Lola her name?  Hint… it is from a movie.

Have a marvelous holiday weekend and a safe one if you are traveling!  We will be cheering on the Red Raiders, our Alma Mater, from our Rocky Mountain High destination on Saturday night as they start their football season once again before a big home crowd.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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”


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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?
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.

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