Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We gotta go now... hey hey

We just might have a visitor arriving sooner than expected...

and we all area pretty excited about that... especially Amber Lee who has been suffering through 190 degree weather and is ready to pop.

Truth is... we all wanna hold him so she needs to just let it go. Quit being so selfish... pop him right out and pass him around!

Oh... how easily Grandmas forget.

So... we are packing our knapsacks again...
this time just 3 of us...


and heading out to greet him... oh yeah and to see everyone else too!

By the way... Anne Geddes takes the most beautiful baby photos!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Change goona come...

Well... after a very sad few days we have dusted ourselves off and are looking around us and beginning to wonder what comes next? Our gypsy blood is calling and I think we are ready to answer.

Next stop on this express train is a trip (temporary) to sunny California. We will have the camper packed soon and be heading out to welcome the first grandson! Showers are being planned, doctors are being visited, nerves are being frayed... and one heck of a thrift store shopping extravaganza is being mapped out... We all are beside ourselves waiting for him to arrive. Along with that, David and I have many irons in the fire right now and we are itching to grab one out and run with it!

Stayed tuned to see what happens next.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Very Good and Brave Boy

I held him and looked into his eyes and told him what a good boy... what a very good dog he has been. I told him how much we loved him and how lucky we all were to have him. He looked back at me deep into my eyes... and sighed happily as he went on his way.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Star Shine Love Sprinkles

Oh how my heart aches.
It aches out my fingertips and down through my toes into the earth below.

For too long we have been trying to ignore Cosmo the Magnificent's issues. He is much older inside than his 9-10 years suggest. His teeth have been bad forever, he has a nerve condition that cause what we call "spells" where he becomes temporarily paralyzed and/or for days he does nothing but sleep. During the spells he does not eat, nor does he have energy to lift his head sometimes. I actually thought we were going to lose him during this last spell. But then it clears up... kind of... and we think he is better. Or we pretend he is.

He is not better.

After we moved into the house he had been becoming increasingly aggressive towards 'outside' people. First it was towards acquaintances and extended family members so we limited his access. We stopped taking him to other peoples places, and if people come to the house we put him in another room. We even joked about his craziness, and tried to chalk it up to him just being an odd fellow. That is not what it is.

It has gotten worse. Now his aggressiveness has turned towards us.
Primarily David.

The same David who he guarded with great force and bravery after David had his atv accident. When David could not get around Cosmo would sit with him in his chair,
sleeping with his chin on David's injured leg, and not let anyone near.

The same David who Cosmo followed around for days on end while he was building the house.

The same David who he used to love to sleep in with in the mornings, and would cuddle with on cold stormy evenings.

The same David who Cosmo would wait for everyday watching out the window
when it was time for David to be home.

It really was quite amazing. I have seen stories about this kind of thing on t.v. before. Somehow Cosmo seemed to know just when David was on his way. David did not have totally set hours for when he would be home in the evenings, but many times Cosmo would get up from where he was sitting with me, go to the window, and wait. Whenever he did that I knew that within 10 minutes or so David would be home.

I checked once. Cosmo had gone to the window several minutes before David even neared our driveway. We lived close enough to the highway that Cosmo must have gone over to sit in his spot about when David was taking the off ramp. I don't know how he knew, but he did. His David was coming home and was going to be there waiting for him.

He has now attacked his David.
On more than one occasion...
and this morning was the worst.

I am serious. Cosmo literally attacked him. Not a little dog nipping at ankles kind of attack. This morning when David got up out of his chair, Cosmo who had been just laying there, threw himself over 4 feet across the room at David snapping his teeth, snarling, and growling.

David's quick reactions ended in him receiving a nasty bite on the underside of his arm. It almost broke the skin. David had deflected the attack fortunately. You see, Cosmo was not aiming for his arm. Coz was flying at David's face/neck.

It is bad enough as it is, but to think it could have been someone else,

someone older, or a neighbor child.

It is like Cosmo simply does not recognize David any longer and is reacting to this unknown threat.

I must say that it is not just David though. He has bitten me as well. He was sitting next to me snarling at David and so to correct him I told him 'no' and went to put him on the ground. He turned and bit my hand snapping and snarling as he did it. My own little boy dog.

I did a little internet search trying to figure out what could be wrong with him. I wanted some kind of explaination, some kind of hope for recovery. Maybe there was some herbal remedy I could give him. Well, I beleive I found the explanation but not the hope.

Cosmo has like 9 out of 10 common symptoms for what is called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction... Doggie Dementia... Senility. I feel the worst of these symptoms is aggression. The others are simply very sad. There are medications etc but all are very expensive and frankly... they don't really cure the animal. They only prolong the inevitable.

If Cosmo was a larger dog we probably would have been searching our hearts and minds and trying to come to a decision about what to do much earlier. In fact his size is what has given him a reprieve so far. Also that the episodes at first were farther apart. They are much more frequent now.

However, if we would just think about it... if we could push the denial about the situation out of our minds. The length of time between incidents is not important. Our own dog is biting us.

I can not imagine if a 90 lbs German Shepard/Labrador Retriever like Delta started to behave like that... snapping, snarling, biting, and attacking. The decision would have been made much much sooner... it would not be easier.. but one hell of a lot sooner.

We have a phone number of the local vet, we have discussed our options, but we have not called yet. I am a dog lover, and I love him but we can not be afraid of our pets in our own house whether they are 90 lbs or 20 lbs. Time to dig down for some courage and for some responsibility to ourselves and to him and his quality of life. Boy oh boy. I am going to have to dig deep for this one. Cross your fingers for us. This might take a little bit.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

16 states... Yes, I said 16.

Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio

Phew! That was 16 states!
Of course, those of you folks from California, Texas, Alaska...
You have to remember those states are tiny in comparison to your home states.

Some states we passed through twice, coming and going. Also, crossing the Mason/Dixon line was not originally part of the plan but ended up being a wonderful surprise! Actually, it was my favorite detour.

We had marginal weather in the New England states... a rain cloud seemed to follow us around but it mostly rained at night. We really did luck out and there was really only one day that the rain tried hard to spoil the fun and that was in Camden, Maine. One night it rained like 4-5 inches... and then it rained while we tried to wander through town but we just ignored it and wandered the town dripping wet dragging around David's big old golf umbrella.

However, the sun peaked out as we drove into Virginia. I swear we passed through a veil of humidity around the Mason/Dixon line and the temperature got up into the high 90's. It's not the heat, it is the humidity folks and we were sweating like fiends almost.... almost wishing for some cloud cover.

We stayed mostly at State parks and were very pleased... there were a few 'private parks'... and a couple KOAs. The camper was just fine with a few electrical glitches which is being fixed at the dealership before we take any more trips.

Now for a small breakdown, skipping around a bit:

First we had to get outada U.P. on the Mighty Mac


Vermont was beautiful, but it runs a second to Virginia. Vermont is very green... in more ways than one. A northern California hippy would DIG IT there! Of course, to be fair that is probably precisely why it is so beautiful. We drove into the state from the northern part of the Grand Isle and stayed on the island before crossing over onto the mainland. We stopped at a farmers
market in a small village.

The market was on their village green and they had a few shops around on the surrounding streets.

The hills roll through farmlands and there were a few bicyclists here and there, very pretty.

New Hampshire

We were in the northern part of New Hampshire and could have probably passed through very quickly but decided to stay. Took awhile to find a state park, a couple we went to were defunct... which we found out after we traveled there... and drove through a once thriving town called Berlin. Berlin seems to have fallen on sad times, many... well most of the shops downtown were closed and for sale. It was once a thriving lumber town, in fact there were two large lumber mills in the area once. The river that ran through town had man made islands in the middle for most of the length of town. Apparently, there used to be a log fence of some kind connected to those island that split the river into two parts. Lumber that was marked with brands for the two mills were separated by that fence and routed to the correct mill.


Northern Maine is a lot like the U.P. of Michigan. Similar forests, very rural, and frankly towns that are struggling to survive. An odd characteristic was that the area was not particularly set up for tourists which would help their economies immensely but they did not seem particularly fond of tourists.

We stopped in one town that was supposed to be particularly picturesque and could not find a restaurant... of any kind. Finally, I asked a local fellow if he could recommend one. At least he was friendly and said if we "cross back over the bridge we would come to a shap cana, and we can tan left, and there was a place to eat there.... but sometimes he is not open. So we might want to go down to the next cana and go a down the road as it might be a betta place to eat."

Good grief!
I met my one of my first yankees and I could barely understand him!

It was kinda exciting really.

Anyway, I jumped back in the truck and we hit our GPS machine and tried to find a restaurant that way. We ended up driving quite a bit down the road before ending up in Belfast. We wandered into (what else?) an Irish pub and had a beer and some pub food as we watched Red Sox reruns on tv.

Then we drove about halfway down the coast we and we finally hit the area that people think of most when they think of Maine. We wandered through Searspoint, and Belfast, and then finally found Camden.

We did not drive out to Bar Harbor as Camden was a very charming town on the water

and we enjoyed it enough to stay two days.

The state park right there near town seemed brand new and was a fabulous camp to stay in. This was where we ran into the most rain.

Ya know, one of the things I liked about the trip is that as we got closer to Boston, and then also near Virginia we started seeing signs that went from "Town Established 1822" to ""Town Established 1692". Holy smokes that is so cool!


Now we are really getting somewhere...
I finally put my toes in the Atlantic ocean!

Also, I am very interested in the American Revolution so this really began to peak my interest. Along with seeing more and more civil war memorials, we were starting to see some VERY old cemeteries and buildings and towns. First stop in
Massachusetts was Newburyport.

This was a GREAT town! Beautiful buildings, layout of town, great shops, restaurants etc.

Then we went to Danvers. Back in the day the Danvers and Salem area were all part of Salem Village. Many of the people and events of the infamous witch trials actually occurred in what is now the Danvers area even though Salem enjoys the fame. In Danvers we went to the Rebecca Nurse homestead and even though it was closed and is actually on private property the owner let us wander through alone.

We checked out the exterior of the home and then the cemetery where Rebecca is buried... as well as John Proctor and his wife, and a few other victims.

John Proctor Mrs. John Proctor

The epitaph on the tombstone of George Jacobs Sr. quotes him as saying,
"Well! Hang me or burn me I will stand in the truth of Christ".

He was hung as a wizard in 1692 after testimony against him
by his own granddaughter.

Went on then to Salem, which I have to admit was also fun, but a tad bit touristy.

This dude on the left is not a witch even though he has a good outfit... he is the pilgrim founder guy. The Salem Witch Museum is like those Ripley Believe it or not cheesy museums you can see on Fisherman's Wharf in San Fran. I could have passed on it... actually we kind of did. We left mid-show to wander town. Much better idea.

These grave sites were very old and right up against the Episcopal church in Salem. The property for this church was donated by a man who had earlier been accused of witchcraft but survived the trials. Additionally, this church was famous for a few other things including being the State Church of the British Royal Governor General Thomas Gage. Gage comes in later as the General to set off the Lexington / Concord incident. More on that later.

We then went to the Minute Man National Park.
Now this was very cool.

The park is the actual running battle ground between Lexington and Concord. British General Thomas Gage (Remember him from above?) decided against arresting Sam Adams and John Hancock as they were becoming quite pesty. Instead Gage thought he would order some troops to Concord where he heard the colonial/patriots/rebels had been stashing weapons.

Hmmm... confiscating guns from soon to be official Americans
was about as good an idea then as it is today.

News got to rebel leaders (General Gage's wife Margaret Kemble Gage was American... hint hint) and Paul Revere was sent on his famous ride on one route to Lexington and Concord in one direction and another lesser known man named William Dawes Jr. was sent on another route. Having two messengers with the same destination, taking different routes was one way to make sure the message gets through.

Both messengers made it first to Lexington at approximately the same time. They spread the word about the British coming and then joined to head to Concord... meeting up with a man named Dr. Samuel Prescott who was on his way home to Concord late that evening after he had been out courting with his fiance'. Revere and Dawes enlisted his aid as well, which turned out to be a good thing.

Meanwhile, behind them a small contingent of minute men/local militia stood armed on Lexington's green just to show their disapproval and discontent. They were extremely out numbered but had just planned to make a point... kind of like a protest... not to fight. However, a mysterious shot rang out (doesn't it always?) and the much larger British army quickly ended that protest after killing 8 of the militia men. I could go on and on but you probably know the rest of the story. News of the bloodshed spread quicker than a computer virus, and more militia men from neighboring towns rushed to the area.

Just outside of Lexington, Revere was captured before making it to Concord. Dawes was turned back to Lexington, but the third man... Dr. Prescott made it home to let Concord know the British army was on its way.

The spot where British scouts captured Revere and ended his and Dawes part in the famous "midnight ride":

The Brits also later made it Concord but then the battle was on at the North Bridge.

In the end, the Brits took the weapon stash but the minute men had killed British soldiers and then chased the Brits nearly 20 hours in a running battle back to Boston, firing from behind homes, trees, rocks, etc. The closer they got to Boston more and more militia kept appearing until they eventually got close enough to the harbor where British ships and canons were used to keep kept the rebels at bay.

Sorry about that little tidbit of history info. Just know that the park is great, and one you should definitely visit if you go to Boston. You can walk or ride your bike on almost the entire route, there are markers, and graves, and foundations, and buildings left along the route as well as a great couple of visitor centers. One near the North Bridge and Old Manse... and the other closer to Revere's capture site.

Then on to Boston.... good grief... now that is a city and an old one at that! Thank goodness for our GPS because that was wild trying to take that camper through the city! We squeezed it into old town by the Old North Church, Paul Revere's house,

and the Old State House. FYI- The Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony on the front of the Old State House.

How cool is that!?

As a funny side note we mixed up a different nearby old building with the state house and were taking lots of pictures of it thinking that was the site... but then we went around a corner and duh... there it was and there was no comparison. Our mistake was quite obvious. We scooted out of Boston... which is a great city but one to visit as a destination. Go there, stay there, see the sites, and take cabs.

We then headed out to Cape Cod and towards Provincetown which lies at the very tip. We stopped in Plymouth to have lunch... yes.... the pilgrims spot... but as Provincetown was actually the FIRST landing point of the pilgrims we decided to head down the road to "the Cape". It was here I started noting along with local scenes on the postcards for sale... there were also many with President John F. Kennedy and family. Kinda interesting.

There is a private campground right in Provincetown which was close enough to the main street we could walk. We stayed two days. Provincetown is a cross between Mendocino, CA or Coupeville, WA on steroids, and the Castro district of San Francisco.

Lots of artists, and happy happy flamboyant people. The streets teemed with rainbow flags on cars, on B&Bs and galleries everywhere. Athletic looking gals walking their dogs, and model-type men in tank tops and shorts were out strolling through town. Great fun!

We were looking for a good sushi restaurant and asked a local well groomed fellow. While he was telling us the reviews of a sushi place called Saki another fellow rode by on a bike and slapped him on the ass. He paused a second, rolled his eyes, shook his head, said... "freaky people" and then continued with his recommendation.

Let me tell you he was RIGHT on the money. Sake was a fabulous and rather chic sushi place and we enjoyed it for my birthday dinner. The place was decorated beautifully, and hip... and welcoming to all tourists and locals whether dressed for a night out, or in more casual camping duds. All the waiters were well groomed model types in black, and the hostess was a wonderfully sleek blond woman in what appeared to be a simple below the knee black dress...
until she turned around to lead us to our table and then you could not help but note just how sheer her dress was. The bows on her thong were pink and girlfriend wore it very well. David sneaked info to the waiter/hostess that it was my birthday and at the end of the meal the hostess glided over with a glass of pink champagne and the waiter brought a chocolate moose brownie thing with freshly made orange real whip cream and a candle. Very... very nice surprise.

We rode a pedi-cab home which drove us past a fellow singing in front of the very old town hall. He had very long blonde hair and a glamorous outfit and played his guitar while singing show tunes. The sign by his collection box said "72 years old and living my dream".

ok... whatever. That's cool... he is happy.

It was then we decided to go to Virginia. I have always wanted to see Jefferson's home Monticello and we planned to do it another time but ... well... apparently no time like the present so we took a detour. Monticello is one of the best historical sites I have ever been to. Period.
Yes... it might seem very familiar. Take out a nickel. Look at the back.

Again, this is a site not to miss. The home is exquisite as is the grounds.

Here is a nice garden shed. The windows in all four walls are big floor to ceiling double hung windows. You can open the bottom or top to create some great breezes.

They have a wonderful learning / museum center down the hill from the home. Simply a dream visit for me... and the sun was out... as was the humidity. We had stayed in a KOA nearby and then came first thing in the morning. (I highly recommend getting there when it opens if possible) I was in the second tour and the morning mountain mist was still hovering over the vegetable garden.

As we had the dogs, and as he knew how much is meant to me David decided to sit with the dogs in a shaded area of the parking lot and despite my trying to insist we take turns with the tours he instead waited for me. He said he has been fortunate enough to see many wonderful museums in his life and he knew how much it meant to me... he said he would wait for me to describe it to him. He might have been sorry about that because after my visit I probably talked to him about it for several days!

Below is T.J. himself. Apparently, life sized the tour guide later told us...
they used the measurements from his clothing for the statue.

We drove then through West Virginia, saw coal mining towns, went into Kentucky seeing the beautiful rolling blue grass hills with huge horse farms... with black fences and barns. Different than the usual white fencing , but it caught our eyes and I must admit it was stunning. Rode along the Midland trail...

The Midland trail over which both Union and Confederate troops traveled... and fought skirmishes and battles here and there. This was also a trail along a portion of one of the the Underground Railroad routes where slaves would try to escape the south running north towards freedom.

Somewhere in Kentucky we turned off a road to a gas station. Now, everyone has been very friendly and these folks were too but... I think they were brother/sister/cousin/husband/wife... I dunno... a little close for comfort. They were talking and laughing with each other and I absolutely could not understand what they were saying to each other. They were speaking english, and it was not that their accents were all that thick... they just made no sense. It was like random words strung together. I listened carefully for some banjo music... heard none... but I looked quickly at the man's name tag and ... you will not believe this.... but his name was Ricky Bobby. Ahhh.. ok, that explains a lot.

Anyway, then we traveled back up through Ohio and into Michigan. Our last two nights we stayed at the same park (Old Mill Creek) near Mackinaw City. This was where we spent out first night on the road so we thought it would be fitting to have our last night be there as well.

It was a nice ending. We are back home now and still feeling very tired from our trip... but what a great trip that was.


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