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Just a little update.  Something about writing again has made me feeling like writing in here.

I missed the first DS Fest I've ever missed since 1984 this summer.  It was due to timing with my job.  Every year we have a "Field Engineer Sales Week".  This is usually in the Spring, but not this year.  No, they scheduled it to start the 22nd.  It involves lots of meetings.  After a fest, I'm a zombie for a week.  Can't stay awake.  I just knew I couldn't managed that week with no sleep.  Plus there's all the prep for it in the weeks before.  AND the week before was our AS9100 Stage 2 audit—the big one.  (They found only minor non-conformances and have recommended us for certification.  But we have to fix the non-conformances.)

Anyway, I probably could have gone, judging from the way things played out at work, but I'd still have been too tired all week.  Moot point.

I went on another AdventureBus trip this summer, too.  Oregon.  I had a great time, and it was really beautiful there.  Got to sleep in a tent all but one night (my back was hurting me that day, and I just didn't feel up to pitching it and getting in and out and such with my stuff.)  Crater Lake was stunning, the coast was beautiful, Mount Hood was gorgeous, and so was the Columbia River Gorge.  Lots of it was tough hiking for me (ascents), with the last one being the toughest and longest, but worth it in the end.  Got blisters on a few toes, hiked in snow and sand and beautiful woods.  Got to sleep in a tent, and be cold while everyone in my home area baked in the hundreds.  Of course, when I got back I baked, too.  It was such a hot, hot summer here.  Finally tonight, a cool front is coming in, and the temps are supposed to drop.  We were one or two days away from two of the 1980 heat wave records.  I like hot weather, but this was nuts.  I was so worried my truck's air conditioner would give out.

Speaking of my truck, I'd had it for almost 15 years, and I ended up selling it to my boss when I bought a NEW CAR!  (I hear a game show announcer saying NEW CAR every time I think about it.)  Anyway, it's a Ford Escape XLT, steel blue metallic in color.  Really, really nice.  I wanted a small SUV, and I got one.  Love it!  Has all kinds of cool features, including the SYNC system and a moon roof.  It's so smooth and easy to drive.  I do miss the truck, but my boss had it painted before he sold it, and it looked fabulous again.  I feel that worked out well.

Of other things going on, the biggest is my new fandom—24.  I started watching this (Netflix) and after season 1, I found it to be so tense and exhausting, I didn't intend to watch any more.  But the way it ended, I had to find out what happened next, and ended up sticking with it through S2.  Same thing, happened—I wanted to see what happened.  I gave up on thinking that I was going to quit then, and it started getting better and better.  Mainly because the character aspect (Jack, in particular) started really coming through.  By S5, I was so hooked, I was toally invested.  By a certain ep in S8, I was devastated,  In any case, I remember thinking about the end of S5 that those writers had me beat for being mean to characters.  They were way meaner to Jack than I was to any of mine.

So now I'm a huge 24 fan, just bought almost all the seasons (missing 8 and the movie).   It's given me the inspiration I've been lacking for several years here now.  What a wonderful feeling!  I've been dying to connect with someone about it, but I feel I'd be coming in so late to the fandom, no one would be interested in chat with a  newbie. Nevertheless, I'll be poking around out there.  I've seen some fabulous song vids on YouTube.

Other shows, still watching Dexter.  A woman at work got me into TrueBlood, but the season they're airing now (4) I think kinda sucks.  I may ditch HBO & Showtime after next week, or maybe after this season (6) of Dexter is over.  I believe it starts soon.  I'm just now watching S5 of that.  I got HBO to see Game of Thrones.  I'd been reading the books in that series when I found out there was going to be a movie.  Very cool actually.  I enjoyed it a lot.  I lucked out in one way.  I started the series of books on my Kindle, but they're really the kind you need to have a physical book in your hands so you can flip back through.  I ended up buying used copies of all the books to read them a second time.  Since I got the Kindle, I've been readlng a lot, which is nice.  But I did by the 5th book of this series when it came out this summer.  Unlike many readers I only had to wait a few months, not five or so years!

Well, it's late, I've rattled on enough.  Mom is doing okay, the cats are doing great, Lilly is well, and even little daft Acacia is doing okay.  I'm just looking forward to a cooler day tomorrow—supposed to be in the 80s all day!

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After months and lots of busy-ness, I'm finally taking a moment to post here again.

Mom is okay now.  It took a few months, but she's 99% back to normal.  Thanks to everyone who was supportive.  It was a stressful time.

I've been on a couple of trips.  The last week of September I went on the Adventure Bus.  Sounds kinda corny, but it was great.  A safe way for a single woman to travel.  The bus is a sleeper coach with lounges and bunks instead of regular seats.  We had the option of sleeping in our bunk, in a tent, on the ground in the open, and at one campground, in a tipi.  This was a hiker's trip.  The main destinations were Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon North Rim, Monument Valley, and Arches National Park.  Most of this was in Utah, a state I hadn't been to.  Grand Canyon and Lake Powell were in Arizona.  Monument Valley is in Utah, but actually on the Navajo reservation.  We also went to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Lake Powell, and Moab, Utah.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and a lot of adventure,  Our day in Moab, allowed us to take an excursion, and I had chosen canyoneering because I've always wanted to learn to rappel.  That was something else!  You get gear, get told what to do, and how to do it, and then you do it, with the first drop 90 feet into a narrow water-carved canyon.  The second was down a 120 foot cliff next to a big arch, and the wall dropped away after about 40 feet, so it was a free-hanging rappel for the rest of it.  Scary.  I was shaking a while after them, but I want to do it again.  Very fun, very exciting.  Then there was a lovely 2-mile hike out.   (If it had been a haul yourself back up the rope thing, I never would have signed up.)  All the destinations had hiking, except Monument Valley.  I loved the trip and the people on the bus were great.  Besides the driver and tour guide-owner, there were 9 of us in a bus that would hold 20, so we had lots of room.  I'd do another tour with them, and would like to do their Death Valley tour and Glacier National Park tour.

Then at the end of October, I went up to the Halloween party at Collinwood.  How cool was that!  Seaview Terrace, as it's actually called, is a huge Newport mansion, and it held over 70 people without us all getting in each other's way.  Of course there weren't hotel-style accommodations for everyone.  Lots slept on the floor, or on air mattresses.  Lucky ones got beds.  I brought my trusty Thermarest pad, and I was fine on the floor.  With the other friends staying in our group (in the owner's office) we had plenty of room.  Because I was packing a sleeping bag and pad, I didn't have room for a costume, but next year, I'd like to.  So for a reasonable donation, we got to stay 3 nights.  In the end, they raised a over 13K for renovations on the house.  Yay!  I'm so glad to be able to contribute to that and that they're trying to restore the mansion.  So good to see new roof tiles and other things done.  Fabulous house, and a great time!

Work is going great.  Still love my job.  It's gotten crazy with working on the AS9100 certification process we're trying to implement.  I'm part of the team getting it all together.  I feel lucky to be doing that!

On a sad note, we lost our kitty Maggie Mae last month.  She bit mom again, and because her health (Maggie's) was declining so badly, we had to have her put to sleep.  At least she had 9 years in a loving home.  We miss her little cougar face.  And oddly the very same day, Anakin (the parakeet we rescued from the cold outside 10 year ago) died the very same day.  He'd been looking poorly for a while.  His partner Ivan was a bit thrown for a while, but he's bounced back and seems happy with the other two now.

Oh, I'm still watching SN (season 6 now) and enjoying it.  SG Universe, Caprica, Glee, Survivor, and on Netflix, I've been totally into Heroes.  I love that show.  Wish I'd watched it on broadcast.  I'd intended to, but missed the beginning when it started.  Fantastic and clever show.  I'm in season 4 now, and I know this is all there is.  :::sigh:::  How fun to have it at all.  After that I don't know what's next, but I know there'll be something.

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I know I haven't been responsive to emails or anything, but that's because I've had no time.

My mom went through a terrible ordeal before being correctly diagnosed with food poisoning, and after her stay in the hospital (over 2 weeks), has left her debilitated.  Apparently the stress of having an intestinal block, and all the pain she went through before getting proper help took a huge toll on her body.  I attended the Fest only because my dad was there to look after mom's plants, the birds, and the dogs.  Kathleen had taken the 4 cats to her place and cared for them because no way was dad gonna look after them, too.  And mom had had the surgery and come through fine.  Little did we know how messed up her body was at the time.

So dad's gone back to Georgia now, the day after he got mom home, and I'm grateful for all his help.

Dear sweet Lilly can't be left home without supervision (we think) so she's been spending her days at doggie day camp at Pet Smart.  Mom is not quite up to letting her out yet, but we've got home health care and rehab people coming to the house to check on mom and keep track of her progress.  She's so weak it's just awful, and they've got her on a blood thinner because of a clot she had in the hospital.  Most unfortunate.

The long and the short of it in regards to my time, is that in the evenings (and mornings), I do all the things I have to do for myself, plus all the things she normally does over the course of the day, which leaves me no time whatsoever for stuff I want to do!  The birds, the cats, the plants, various house things—it's a mess.  But it's the weekend now, and I can relax for a bit because I don't have to get anything ready for myself for tomorrow.  And I'll even take Lilly for a walk, which I haven't done since this all started.

Oh, and two days after I got back from the Fest, I came down with a sinus infection after not having had one for a couple of years.  Fatigue and large amounts of stress must have given the ever opportunistic crud the chance it's been waiting for.  It was a full day before I could start on antibiotics (thank God for Teladoc, all I had to do was submit a request on line, then talk to the doctor when he called), so I felt crappy until yesterday.

We're calling this the July from hell.  It started on the 7th.  Ugh.  And thank God for Kathleen, too.  She has been such a great help and support.

So, now we're just waiting for mom's strength to come back, which will take some time.  But she's eating pretty good now, and that's a positive sign.  I'm hoping she makes some good progress this weekend so I won't feel bad leaving her all day.  (Have to work, of course.)  Plus, if she can manage to let Lilly out a couple times a day, that would save me a lot of money and make the dog much happier!

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Went to see funny man Craig Ferguson with Kittybleu this weekend.  He was performing at the casino just over the border into Oklahoma on Friday night and in Austin at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday night.  Since she's a huge fan of him, and I think he's really funny, I didn't mind making the trips to see him.

I won $45 at the casino (dumb luck on a slot machine made most of that).  I'm not really much of a gambler, but that was nice.  And in the show, Craig brought a couple of the performers he usually has on his show.  His warm-up standup guy, Randy Kagan, was very funny too.  Good show.  And we had plenty of time to get there, as it turned out.  (Didn't know how traffic was going to be, but we dodged the worst area by taking back roads she knew before hooking up with the interstate.)

Saturday we headed out at about noon.  Except of heavy traffic getting into Austin, it was an easy drive.  We took my truck, and it did really well, averaging almost 20 mpg.  But we were so early getting there, we didn't know what to do, when we couldn't find a parking place near enough to the theater.  We decided to get a hotel, and ended up at a Courtyard Marriott, which was just a few blocks away and nice.  Was able to park the truck and do the rest by walking.  We decided to have dinner early, but the place we picked (Roy's Hawaiian Fusion) was not serving dinner till 5:30.  So we decided to wait till then, and went for a walk down by the river.  Quite lovely really, and the weather was fantastic. (sunny and mid to upper 60s).

The meal was fabulous.  Pretty much first class dining.  We chose it because of the Hawaiian angle.  Even the salad was amazing.

We got to the theatre in plenty of time and took our seats.  Not as nice as the front row we had at the casino because of the heads in front of us, but the Paramount is a great theater and the acoustics and smaller size (it was sold out) were great.  The moron in front of me was so annoying, though.  We were pretty far back (row Q) and she moved her stupid head constantly, even though the guy in front of her was not moving his.  I wanted to slap her and tell her to pick a side!  I'm sure the people behind me had the same trouble with me, only I had an excuse.  And Craig goes back and fourth across the stage, so it made for a frustrating view.  But he was funny, and seeing the same act two times in a row, really made me notice the differences.  It was fun.

We didn't think there was any chance of meeting him, so we only wandered slowly out after.  We were down the block when she remembered something she wanted to say to Randy (who was selling DVDs and such at the lobby of the theatre) and headed back.  My feet were hurting, I was tired, and needed to go pee, so I just went on back to the hotel.  Well, she actually got her chance to speak with Craig, but it was bad timing and she didn't get more than to just tell him she'd enjoyed the show.  No picture or anything.  Better than nothing, but she was disappointed.

Sunday, we got up late, left the hotel, and went up to the capitol, which was open.  We waited long enough (till noon) for the gift shop to open after wandering around a while.  It's a neat place.  LOTS of TX history there.  I hadn't been in it in probably 25 years.

After that we went and had "breakfast" (Sunday Brunch) at the hotel behind the theatre, then headed home.  On the way we listened to the first two discs of Craig's audio book about his life.  Good road trip!

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The downside to all that snow was what it did to live oaks and some other trees.  The live oaks growing along the road or out on their own did pretty well, but the ones in peoples' yards lost a lot of limbs.   (Mostly the limbs just broke and have to be cut down.)   Half the yards around here have limbs piled up along the sidewalk, and some took out their whole tree.  Our neighbor looks like he's barricaded his house the limbs are piled up so high.  (They took the whole tree out, which I think was unnecessary and a shame.)

Anyway, the is is a possibility of more snow this coming week.  Maybe we'll break that record, too!  (For the most snowfall in a winter.  We're like 2 inches shy of the current record here.)


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As promised, here are a few pictures from the big snow we had.

Looking out at the street

This was looking out at the street from the front porch.

Sunrise from the backyard

Here was the sunrise looking out the back yard.

My girl Lilly enjoying the snow

And here's my girl Lilly running in the snow. 

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Again!  It's turned out much more than I expected.  They said it would start after midnight but it hadn't started when I got up.  Still, this morning I got up to a winter wonderland!  My 20-mile drive to work was a bit slushy the first half, but then just wet.  And I missed the accident that happened somewhere behind me.  I heard one of the freeways I take was way backed up.  Leaving early helped!

Anyway, so I took my camera (post pics later), got out the big one up here at work, and some of the workers built a snowman on break!  Very cute.  Only here would the snowman (or snowcat as it turned out to be) have connector caps for eyes, a parts tube for a mouth, and parts bucket for a hat!  Definitely something for the newsletter.

It's strange, too, that we've had so much snow this year.  And there's probably 4 inches out there on the grass.  Lovely.  Supposed to snow more this afternoon.  (It's still going a bit out there.)  Too bad it's not Friday because it's likely to be really icy tomorrow morning.  We'll just see. 

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I just got through reading some comments about last Thursday's SN episode.  (Don't remember the title.)  One fan said she thought that the casting was fantastic that John and Mary were perfectly cast as the younger versions.  I agree about Mary.  The actress is fine, but the guy playing John?  We've seen him a couple of times now, and I cannot make the jump that in four years, this guy will look like Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  Absolutely no way.  He's not remotely rugged, and his voice is completely wrong.  It's bad casting really.  Only when he started to get angry was there even the slightest glimmer that he could be John.  I figure I'm in a minority on this.  Nothing wrong with the actor for any other role, but he's just not John Winchester, and never will be.  And that, of course, ruins my suspension of disbelief.  I just tell myself it's a "re-telling" of the events using an actor instead of the real person.

I didn't post any of that on her site, because I hate to post negative comments!

The episode, though, was great.  Neatly done.

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Well, it's been over a week since we lost Pixie.  I'm doing better now, though I still miss her a lot.  At least I don't feel like bursting into tears now.  And yesterday I went to a funeral for our human resources lady's son.  Only 47 when he died.  She lost her husband  couple of years ago, and depended a lot on her son.  I'm worried about her.  Not to belittle my own grief over losing my dog, but I can't imagine the extent of what she's going through, and I'm worried about her.  At least she has family around her.

So then, last night SN was on, and it was a fun episode, even with the serious stuff thrown in.  Jared played the kid inhabiting Sam's body so well.  I only wished he'd have kicked the kid's butt at the end instead of letting him off so easy.  The kid was playing with some stuff he had no idea how serious was.  I don't see him learning his lesson.  And Dean was fun to watch, but I agree with one fan who pointed out that Sam immediately knew when Dean was not Dean (shapeshifter impersonating him), but Dean didn't figure out about Sam, despite huge clues.  I chalk it up to his being so adrift emotionally, he just doesn't feel he even knows Sam any more.  Kinda sad.

Also, I think they implied that Dean would go back to hell.  Or maybe I'm getting that from people's comments.  Maybe the demons just wanted him dead so he couldn't be Michael's vessel.  I would think with Lilith dead, his contract was void, so no more hell.

Speaking of hell, I just read Inferno, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, which was based on Dante's Inferno, which I have not read.  Very interesting concepts.  I should probably read the Dante work now!

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Well, as of a few minutes ago, Pixie is no longer with us.  We suspect congestive heart failure.  This last year she began this low coughing occasionally, and I'd been told it might be a collapsing trachea, which happens in some older small dogs.  She seemed to feel okay, and since she turned 15 last summer, I didn't want to take her to the vet any more than necessary as it stresses her out so.

Then last Thursday, I think she had a small stroke, and it's been down hill since.  Except she did go for a walk with me (and the other two) on Friday and seemed okay.  But this weekend her breathing became labored, and she coughed more.  This morning, she even went out to the bathroom, but she seemed so out of it.  Seeming that she didn't quite know what to do but just stand there.  I got the call from mom this morning at 10:12 saying she'd passed on.  The good thing was that mom was holding her, so she didn't die alone, and it was fairly quiet a death.  Several wheezing spasms, then long periods between breaths, until finally none.  All-in-all, she went fairly quickly.

We'll miss her, but she's better off now, and I know she's with God.

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